Sew Sarah smith

September : All Sewn Up! (A Diary Blog Post)


Sew Sarah smith

September, seriously?!?! You and me need to have words! Lots of words…

That went waaay too quickly! If you follow this blog or generally follow me on social media, you’ll be forgiven for thinking September was a quiet month for me as I took something of a step back from posting generally. This was initially prompted by my Instagram account deciding to throw a wobbly (I’ll talk about that more in a bit) but, rather than stress about it, I decided to embrace the idea of a break. It was amazing how much extra time and mental space this freed up to get on with actual sewing and real life socialising and … planning.

So this was September…

Firstly, I sewed three things very quickly and then one thing very slowly.

Sew Sarah smith
Coppelia Wrap Cardigan by Papercut Patterns

Coppelia wrap

The #cosycardichallenge was in full swing and, as I’d been planning to sew another Coppelia in some fabric I picked up from my jaunt to Joann’s back in the summer, I cracked on with it. I decided to size up this time, mainly because the fabric I was using was more substantial and I wanted it to be more of a cosy everyday wrap than the first one I made. I also added an extra inch to the length. Ah, I love it, I feel like I’m giving myself a big hug wearing it and let’s face it, I love a hug! Not a lot more I can say about it this time around other than to mention it’s already had loads of wear; I’m sure I’ll sew this pattern again and again (the link to my initial review is HERE). However, what I couldn’t do was join in and tag it as an entry to the #cosycardichallenge because, as I mentioned, my Instagram account was playing silly beggars.  Nor could I really participate in #sewphotohop this year…

Firstly, I couldn’t get into my account and the Hubs had to come to my rescue to get me back in by ‘reauthorising’ the account on a different device. Or something. Anyway, once back in, I also decided to acknowledge that for some time I’d noticed that my tagged posts routinely failed to show up on any hashtag page, as if my account were set to ‘private’. As mentioned, I decided to take some time out from the platform; and limiting my activity in the short term, I hope, seems to have been sufficient to ‘reset’ it.

On a personal note, it was interesting to me just how annoyed I was initially when I realised my account was compromised. In the great scheme of things, I realised I was more annoyed at myself for being annoyed than I was actually annoyed at the annoying problem!! Hahahaha. But it is ‘funny’ isn’t it. You and I both know that being unable to participate on Instagram for a while hardly counts as a ‘real life problem’ but, that saidI am deeply committed to our sewing community and Instagram is a part of that. I still don’t know for sure what got my account suspended but I suspect it was using the same hashtags repeatedly. If that’s the case though! I do wonder what impact algorithms like this may have on our community’s ability to ‘commune’ at the same level on that platform? What do you think?

As I say, happy as I am to be back, not being on Instagram for a while really did give me more hours in the week. I posted this dress on Minerva Crafts blogger network, it’s the McCalls 6884 knit wrap dress . I also sewed up and posted another knit dress here, you may have seen, the Valentine & Stitch ‘Dune’ Maxi Dress .

Sew Sarah smjth
McCalls 6884 Knit Wrap Dress
Valentine & Stitch ‘Dune’ maxi dress

But what I actually spent the majority of my time sewing was…a dress I can’t show you in full because it’s for a, not yet published, mag article. It involved toiling and FBA’ing princess seams, lots of topstitching and the use of contrast fabrics. I actually wore it to the Great British Sewing Bee Live in London last week.

That was the MOST fun!

Sew Sarah Smith
Jane Marland (Handmade Jane), Alex (Sewrendipity), Me, Diane (Dream Cut Sew) and Helen (Valentine & Stitch)

It was such a blast spending the day with these brilliant and talented women – it was arranging to meet Jane (Handmade Jane), that initially spurred me into attending (and I’m so glad it did!); the vivacious Alex (Sewrendipity) kindly sent me the tickets; Helen (Valentine & Stitch) thankfully agreed to go with me and Diane (Dream Cut Sew) happily arranged to meet us there. Whilst there, we also hung out with and chatted to the lovely Becca (Red W Sews) and Jamie (Male Devon Sewing), plus so many more. I’ll not list them all here because this will just turn into a rollcall…and I’ll only worry I’ll accidentally miss someone off! You were all fab!

Suffice to say, I did try to buy fabric but there were so many familiar faces to chat with instead! And thank you so much to everyone who came up to say Hi! I was bowled over by how lovely you all were.  Unfortunately I was totally crap at remembering to get pictures but here’s one I’ve salvaged from my Instagram feed; meeting Amy (Almond Rock) at the Love Sewing mag stand.

I’ll not harp on too much about the event itself as it’s been covered so well by other bloggers. Given that it was primarily geared to dressmaking, with workshops and live events throughout the day; all the fabric and haberdashery you could wish for and great representation from the indie and Big 4 pattern houses, it really was stitchy heaven. And apparently the show IS back again next year! Bookmark your diaries for the 8-10th June!

Once home, the effects of being this sociable turned me into a non-verbal grunting thing who finally succumbed to the flu and the effects of another bout of insomnia. Joy. Anyway, I’m all raring to go again – October is here and I’ve got all these plans. I’ll stop waffling here though and let you go…

… until next time, thanks for reading










I made a dress to match my favourite pair of Converse! The Dune maxi dress by Valentine & Stitch

I’ve made a dress to match my favourite pair of Converse trainers! That’s totally normal, right? I’m usually found running errands at break neck speed and dressed,  for life preserving reasons, in baggy jeans and sensible shoes. But there are times I wish I looked a bit more ‘put together’ without, admittedly, putting in any extra effort! This is where the idea for my Dune maxi dress came in.


If you haven’t yet heard of Valentine & Stitch, they’re a new independent pattern company headed up by my lovely friend Helen* and her husband, producing a range of PDFs for knits (you can check them all out HERE).  Available as either a top (it’s your perfect easy to wear tee) or, I guess, as a really flowy maxi sewn up in a pretty lightweight jersey – Dune is a perfect canvas to really show off a gorgeous print or floral. See Helen here in hers:

Valentine & stitch Dune dress
Helen – Valentine & Stitch

I love the scoop of this neckline (there’s also a higher neck option too) and the way the shoulders are the right width to cover your bra straps. It’s fitted at the bust but then falls away gently (and flatteringly) over the tum, volumining out to a gorgeous kick hem.

So now I’ve said that, let me explain my version. My favourite pair of Converse are  high tops in Chartreuse green. I’d had this length of scuba crepe for ages just waiting for the right thing. They pair perfectly. It had to be a maxi dress because a skirt length any shorter would highlight what can only be described as my ‘footballers’ legs’, especially when my feet are encased in flats. So a maxi dress length is ideal…but, importantly, the hem had to break just over the front of the shoe. If they couldn’t be seen, what was the point?! (There’s a straightforward tutorial up on V&S’s website on how to calculate this – makes it easy to determine).

Valentine & Stitch

So that was the thinking bit done, then onto the actual sewing. It’s about as simple as could be. The neckline and armscyes are finished with bands, either hidden or exposed. I chose exposed because clearly I was veering away from making this a ‘pretty’ dress – I wanted it to look more sporty.  Because the scuba crepe I’ve used is also quite ‘boingy boingy‘ (I can’t think of a better way to describe it!), it would also have been a faff turning them under. I simply sewed them right sides together, flipped them under and topstitched the seam down with a stretch twin needle.

How to sew knit bands
Ahhh, I love this shade of green! How would you describe it? Forest green, sage green…mulch?!

The scuba crepe I’ve used also gives a more structured look to the kick hem but I think that’s in keeping with the overall sporty look? Scuba crepe was a new one to me when I got it – whilst it’s still a thicker jersey, its thinner than your average scuba but with the definite texture of a crepe. I didn’t adjust the pattern at all, even accounting for its relative lack of stretch – and I’m happy with the fit.

Dune maxi dress
Yes, yes – I will still wear my Rodeo cowgirl hat in deepest rural Devon.

So yeah, I’ve roadtested my Dune dashing up the hill on the school run and I neither tripped up flat on my face or got it caught in the car door. Being that’s my litmus test, I’m calling the dress a  winner!

And, apparently, after all I’ve harped on about my footwear, the hardest part of this make was trying to get photos that showed the damn things!


Anyhow, I’m looking forward to making another version when Spring comes around again in a pretty floral, like Helen’s, to pair with sandals and I think the tee version would be a great way of using up all the large offcuts of jersey I seem to be accumulating!

So what do you think? Would you sew up a dress to match a much worn pair of shoes?!

Until next time,



NB : whilst *Helen is a personal friend, I bought this pattern out of my own pennies and my views on it are honest and entirely my own.