Tips for Sewing Stretch Velvet – my Party Appleton Wrap Dress!

I’ve made my party dress for this year! I really wanted something that was warm and comfortable yet sufficiently glam – for me, this meant a shimmer stretch velvet and a long-sleeved wrap dress to pair with long boots.

I’ve long since decided to try and get more use out of the patterns I own and like, rather than constantly buying new ones. I’ve made the Appleton wrap dress by Cashmerette before (see HERE) so I knew it was a) quick to sew, b) really comfortable and c) had a really secure wrap front. Making repeats of the same pattern is also a really interesting way to show how different a pattern can look depending on the fabric you make it in! My first version was made for Summer, with short sleeves and in a lighter-weight knit. This iteration is full on Winter plush!

If you’re interested in this particular fabric, read on, I have a 20% discount code on your entire order from the supplier (Patterns & Plains)

But first, let’s talk construction. Sewing stretch velvet is not particularly difficult but I did utilise a particular method of hemming the dress to ensure it came out sharp and even …

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Two pairs of Morgan Jeans … and a chat about Raw Denim

Hi! I’ve finally got around to writing this post having been bed-ridden for 9 days straight with the worst flu I’ve ever had – I say flu, but I really don’t know – it was the weirdest case of flu ever! But thankfully I’m back to normal now (‘normal’ being a relative term, obvs!)

Sarah Smith v Raw Denim, Round 1

[*EDIT : this post has been amended retrospectively to take into account, lessons learned since initially writing it!]

I’ve sewn a few pairs of skinny jeans in my time (using the Eleanore stretch pants pattern by Jalie – see here) but I really felt my wardrobe was lacking a relaxed pair; my last RTW ones having finally fallen apart! The Morgan ‘boyfriend’ jeans have a traditional coin pocket and button fly and are suited to a roll-up hem – in other words, exactly what I was looking for. PDF duly purchased!

Have you sewn jeans before? If not, are you intimidated by the idea? I’ve got to say from the off, in terms of actual sewing, making jeans is not difficult. And I found the Morgan instructions to be absolutely faultless; which of course helps – in fact, I find sewing jeans a methodical and therefore joyfully therapeutic process. All that lovely topstitching for example!

I will say, having the right notions and tools for the job really makes a difference though; I found my Hump Jumper / Bulky Seam Aid absolutely came into its own with this project, ensuring that my sewing machine foot navigated bulky seams with ease and ensuring that my topstitching didn’t ‘skip’. A seam guide (the 1/4″ mark is particularly useful) and a fabric marker (I used my Clover Chalk Pen) are also incredibly useful for marking your double topstitching lines so you can sew them equidistant.  You will also need good quality jean topstitching thread (choosing your colour is fun in itself!) I used these rivets and these ‘laurel wreath’ jeans buttons. (If you’re unsure how they’re installed; I use the same method as in my Snap tutorial – no hammer required!)

To my mind, the hardest part of sewing jeans is not the construction; it’s not even, technically speaking, the fitting of the jeans – it’s accounting for the particularity of your chosen raw denim. Raw denim, being 100% cotton, tends to relax substantially throughout the day  – so what fitted perfectly in the morning may be a baggy mess by the evening. Conversely, a pair that has marginal breathing room over breakfast fit beautifully come dinner  – or so I’ve found! Which can make ‘seeing’ what fit adjustments you need to make that bit trickier!

Using fabric scraps leftover from my Panda Pajamas for the pockets and waistband

The weight of your denim is really important then. I would say for this particularly pattern, you don’t want to use anything less than 10 oz. Mine for both pairs – was 9.5 oz – I didn’t think that half ounce would make a real difference but it does feel too lightweight for the cut of these pants  – if I sew this pattern again, and I’m sure I will with further mods, I think I’d be looking for something substantially firmer – between 10 – 11 oz, as these are likely to have less ‘give’.

Let me talk you through my experience – I’ve sewn the Morgans twice now with different adjustments – and I’ve washed and worn both pairs loads

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A Jacket & A Coat – the Pona Jacket by Helen’s Closet

Hello again! It seems I’m on a bit of a sewing binge at the moment – having sewn two pairs of jeans, two sets of PJs and a turtleneck recently. Now, adding to that, two coats using the brand new sewing pattern release from Helen’s Closet; the Pona Jacket. I think its safe to say my Sewjo is back and I couldn’t be happier!

I was lucky enough to be a pattern tester for this one; as soon as I saw the initial line drawings I was in! *The Pona (a PDF pattern) was just the pattern I was looking for – a true wardrobe staple, something that will transition nicely all year round. It can either be a lightweight throw-on jacket for the warmer months or a full on warm coat for the cooler months. Or something in-between! And, as a bonus, this is incredibly simple – and quick – to make!

I love the drafting; it’s unlined but has a nifty facing that allows the front lapels to drape open. It also has no closures; it’s meant to be worn open, although there is enough cross-over if you do want to add a button or a frog fastening. I left the cropped jacket as is but added a simple hidden snap fastening to the top left on the coat version so that I can wear it closed with the collar up should I need to. I think this pattern makes for a great introduction to sewing coats and jackets for those wanting to dip their toes in these waters! If you haven’t already, I can heartily recommend you do so using this pattern – come on in, the water is warm!

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Sewing Myself Comfy – the Linden Sweatshirt / Hudson Pants loungewear combo!

Hi sewing friends!

Long-term readers may well have noticed that I took something of a break from sewing / blogging over the summer (welcome to all of you that continued to sign up over summer, thank you!) There was no onerous reason for taking a break, other than I wanted to dedicate my summer wholly to my family. And it was glorious! I also learnt how to knit socks and finally found the time to write a book of family recipes for the kids. That said, whilst I wasn’t actively sewing, I was planning upcoming makes like crazy…creating a spreadsheet and a Look Book and stocking up on fabric and supplies. It also gave me a good opportunity to really consider how I want to take this blog forward since it’s grown beyond anything I imagined at the start. (I’ll talk about that more in a minute!)

So, once the kids went back to school, my sewing space got a dust off and sewing began again in earnest!  I’ve been pattern testing this last week but thought I’d come back to the blog with my first makes.

Coffee, I need coffee!

As always, my new season sewing has begun with the basics; this for me means loungewear / sleepwear. If I don’t have to leave the house, I don’t get dressed; it’s that simple! What I wanted then was sleepwear I’d be happy to lounge around the house in (and by ‘lounge around the house’ what I really mean is running after the kids and doing seemingly never ending housework!) And I don’t know about you, but I always find after taking a sewing break that I want to come back to something that I know wont be too taxing to sew but will produce something I’ll get lots of wear out of. PJs is always the answer!

I decided on the Linden Sweatshirt / Hudson Pants combo which I’ve seen so many great versions of on my Instagram feed. I’ve sewn the Linden a few times (see here) but the Hudsons, though long in my stash, were a ‘new-to-me’ pattern.

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#sewtogetherforsummer 2019 – The Sponsored Gifts!

Thank you all, yet again, for so enthusiastically and overwhelmingly embracing this years’ Challenge! (If you’ve missed what the Challenge is all about, you can read the Launch Post – which also contains discount codes on selected patterns and fabric – HERE). In essence, it’s about supporting and encouraging your fellow sewists whilst you all #sewtogether a Jumpsuit – or a Romper, Dungarees, Overalls – even a Catsuit if you fancy it! At the end of the Challenge, our fantastic Sponsors will send out a whole host of amazing gifts to randomly selected participants worldwide! Sound good? Read on to see exactly what our Sponsors are offering!

We’ve tried to include companies big and small that represent the diversity and vibrancy of our sewing community; they’ve all been fantastically generous and it’s quite an extensive list; there’s over 30 sponsored gifts! I present them in no particular order :

(if you want to find out more about any sponsor, you can click on their graphic to visit their site) :


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