Balièn ice cream sorbet 

Firstly, ‘scuse the bad hair day pics

Secondly, here’s a top I made last summer. I wore it once or twice in August and then decided I didn’t like the fit. Somehow though it survived a Marie Kondo-ing of my wardrobe and a move across the English Channel but then sat crumpled in a ball at the back of one of my shelves throughout the winter as nothing more than an optimistic hope of summer. That day has finally arrived! I’ll tell you what, there were some tough January days when I didn’t think I’d ever see green trees again, let alone be warm enough to wear a strappy top in clashing pink and red that wouldn’t look out of place as a fancy new flavour of ice cream.


The fabric is a permanently crinkled chiffon type material and the white stripe at the bottom is part of the print. I bought it as a metre cut for £2 back at The Fent Shop in Skipton which I’ve waxed lyrical about before.

The pattern is the free Balièn top/dress by Pauline Alice.

I didn’t like the fit last year because it came out fairly big and the darts are a bit low but that might be to do with the straps being long. The darts seem quite angled compared to what I’m used to as well. This year I’ve decided to embrace it.


I didn’t make the shorts by the way, they’re from the British Heart Foundation charity shop if I remember correctly. I would love a pattern for something similar though. I have the Grainline Maritime but the fit is waaaaay off and I can’t quite face making all the adjustments.


I think the straps would be a bit more flattering if I sewed them a bit nearer the centre back. Again, shorter straps wouldn’t go amiss either.


The colours are a bit weird but I do like them. Kind of cheerful and fun without being too childish. I’m not one for wearing novelty fruit or flower prints so this is my own brand of sunshine-gear.

My new friend Pacco approves anyway. He is easily pleased though.

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A vintage Vogue pattern haul

Today I took myself off for a trip to my mothership.
Les Petits Riens have shops all over the place but my favourite is their big store which is laid out over a sprawling set of buildings full of trash, treasure and everything in between.
I went there for a delve into the clothes but actually came across this massive shelf of sewing patterns.

I can only imagine this is what miners in the 1800s must have felt like when they came across a seam of gold.

I’ve been to this shop quite a few times now and had never noticed this before. That added to the fact that 95% of the patterns were Vogue, from similar eras and pretty much the same size range makes me wonder whether this whole lot came from one benefactor.

By the way, don’t be jealous but all the patterns were priced at €2.50. I know.

There was a lot of big shoulders and dull skirts but some gems too. I bought five.

Here’s the first one I grabbed:

I like the dropped waist. I’ll probably take it in quite a lot though to be more flattering to my body type and cut the skirt much shorter.
The line drawing is promising anyway.

I’ve been after a V neck t shirt pattern for a while so grabbed this one. I won’t ruche up the side.

I like the interesting cuts on this one. I can imagine wearing all of these styles. View C in particular is intriguing.

I like the cut out sleeve design and half placket on these shirts. I’m very hopeful for this one

This one I picked up partly because it was interesting but mostly because these are the most hilarious line drawings I’ve ever seen

Wait for it….
Told you! Maybe that’s my mothership

Here’s one I didn’t buy – a 1980’s onesie pattern:

So that’s it! I’m pretty pleased.
I hope that there’s someone else in the world who is excited as I was when I came across these patterns when they discover Belgium’s greatest selection of second hand trouser presses

An ancient philosopher themed pink sweater


I spent my most recent bout of sewing thinking about ancient philosophers. This isn’t normal.
I made a Grainline Hemlock and was trying to remember which of those dudes died by drinking poison hemlock. It was that guy ↑, Socrates! My A Level Classics teacher would have been disappointed that I forgot. But I think he spent two years being slightly disappointed in me so fine.
Shall we get back to sewing?

It’s more of a Hemlock jumper than a Hemlock tee as I made it with a sweater knit that I picked up as a precut length of 2m for 10€ with exactly this sort of thing in mind. Something to throw on and the end of a summer evening when it starts to get chilly
This little flowery patch is right outside our apartment and it looked so mundane when we moved here in November but it’s really sweet now.
The pattern only comes in one size and it’s very straightforward, no shaping and no set in sleeves. It works really nicely in very lightweight fabrics and I’ve had a couple of those in my time too.
I find the sleeve length pretty strange but I always push my sleeves up anyway so no biggee.

I made this up in about an hour and a half while listening to a podcast. Current favourite for sewing – Unexplained. I’m not really bothered by supernatural stuff in general but I think these are really well done and generally quite captivating.
Hey look, there’s something weird hanging from the tree
Instead of the neck binding I decided to do use bias binding because I didn’t think the fabric would be stretchy enough. The binding is left over from this make and the linen means it is really lightweight.
This is me showing you the bias tape, not my orrible nails

My overlocker is now covered in bits of pink fluff.

Two very important tests for new garments – number one: take out for a test drink

Number two: spin

Print on print on print

Yesterday I took a trip to sunny Antwerp for a pretty fantastic fabric expo. Deets here if you want ’em.
I came away with pretty much everything on my list plus a couple of extras. Including this one! I’ve never seen anything quite like it. It was a pre cut panel consisting of three mis-matched prints, two palm leaf type ones and then another white and green line drawing of a very nice looking lady making wine. I’ve actually looked it up and found that it’s a fabric produced by Knippie which is the kids version of the Dutch pattern magazine Knipmode. It’s also selling for more on the website than I paid. Phew.

I’m always up for strange fabric so I paid up €8 for the panel.
I loved how the prints clashed so I decided to keep it pretty much intact and just make a very simple skirt.
My initial idea was for it to be pleated but it wasn’t quite wide enough so I just gathered it instead.
You know how it goes – three rows of basting stitches gathered to a strip of fabric a bit bigger than your waist measurement. Waistband attached and the bit bigger becomes the overlap. Stick on a podcast and if you’re feeling fancy, finish the inside of the waistband by hand. I did just that, not because I was feeling fancy but because it was sunny on the balcony and who doesn’t love to sew and tan at the same time.

Normally I’m not a fan of this style on me because I think it tends to accentuate my hips and bum but also because I often feel too girly for comfort. This isn’t too bad though. Not too poofy.

28 degrees C today, I can cope with that!

Especially if I’m in a wood.

I’m wearing it here with a heavily modified Grainline Hemlock t-shirt in non-descript grey jersey. It actually started off as a maxi dress, then I lopped a chunk off to make a nightdress and today I chopped another few inches off as well as the sleeves and made it into a t-shirt.

In my haste to make the skirt in time for going out for lunch I forgot to interface the waistband so made do with stay tape around the top.

One admission though. I didn’t prewash the fabric. I know, I know. You’re going to put dog poo in my letter box aren’t you. I’m just crossing my fingers that it doesn’t shrink too much.

If those trees were palm trees then I would be completely invisible.

A yawn is a silent shout

Here’s the thing about sewing. It takes time, it takes effort and it takes money.
Admittedly I am likely to try to get away with the minimum of all those three, but still.
Sometimes you just need clothes, you know? Yes, sometimes I want to sew something ridiculously difficult and time consuming using every gadget I own but sometimes I just need something.to.wear.

For me it’s both a hobby and a lifestyle. Yes, I do it because I enjoy it but I also do it because I made a pact with myself (about 18 months ago I think) not to buy any new clothes. Therefore when I do need a plain white top (and I realise the word ‘need’ is subjective here) I can’t just spend ten minutes on ASOS on my lunchbreak and carry on with my life. It takes time – to find a pattern, to trace/cut/print and cut it, to make adjustments, to actually sew the sodding thing. It takes effort to, you know, learn how to do all that in the first place and it takes money to buy the fabric, the pattern, the sewing machine, the needles, the thread and the fancy bias binding maker that actually takes longer than not using one but makes you feel ‘proper’.
So here’s a plain white top, because I needed one.

I already had the pattern traced (past me for the win!) and I had this remnant of cool crepe-like fabric that a stall holder at the market gave me because he thought I was flirting with him. I wasn’t, I promise. I just thought it was sweet that he praised my French skills – in English.

About twenty minutes into sewing it I was congratulating myself on coming across such a cool fabric with its subtle teardrop shape that is a useful solid colour but is interesting too.

About forty-five minutes into sewing it I realised the fabric reminded me of something.

About an hour into sewing it I realised what it reminded me of.

Now I like it even more.

Here’s to (very little) time, money and effort. And to making a top covered in covert poo emojis. I have rarely felt more of a millennial.

(Oh, it’s a Burda 105 1/2016. Size 38 graded to a 42 and with a little extra length because I think it looks cooler. Also without the little modesty panel bit because I’ve never been one to let Burda dictate my modesty.)

Vintage by kilo haul

I’ve just come back from a ‘vintage by kilo’ event. Basically you fill up a bag with whatever you want and then pay by weight at the till. I know I’ve said before that the word ‘vintage’ puts me off but it’s more the styling that I have issue with. The principle is right on with me – old clothes being given a new lease of life.
Here’s my haul!

Skirt no. 1.


My Gran used to wear skirts like this. She would have wanted me to wear it with a matching cardi. I won’t! I intend to cut it apart and make a nice woven tee shirt that’ll be easy to throw on for work.

Skirt no. 2.

Its another Gran skirt!
These pleats might take a bit of steaming out but I’m up for the challenge. I fancy making this into some shorts.

The colours are really vivid.

Dress no. 1.
Hey it’s like a deck chair on my body!

I know they’re kind of weird but I really like this colour combination. This dress is clearly handmade and the seam allowance is more than 1 inch wide!

Imagine how long it would have taken to finish those seam allowances by hand? Crazy.
I don’t really have a plan for this one, maybe a breezy summery top.

Dress no. 2.

This one is handmade as well. The fabric is really slippery and really fun.

I can see this as a really useful camisole but there should be plenty left over so I’ll have to think of something else as well!

Shirt no. 1.

Come on, is this not hilarious?!

There’s almost enough fabric in that sleeve for a skirt as it is!

Shirts no 2. and 3.
These are fairly standard men’s shirts. I’ll just adjust them to fit me.

And last but not least, a final dress!
Probably the most flattering thing I’ve bought.

I have very little use for a full length taffeta evening dress though so I’ll just be using the bottom section for something new! Once I’ve finished playing with it.

The bottom fabric is really interesting

So I reckon I’ve done pretty well! This whole lot cost me about 30 euros which I’m really pleased with, especially when you factor in all the linings, zips and buttons that are salvageable as well.
I’m now going to settle in for an evening with my seam ripper!

A very necessary card wallet 

My wallet was stolen on Monday. Argh. Really annoying and inconvenient. I feel pretty stupid since I was even semi aware that it was happening at the time. Folks, keep your bag closed and your wallet shoved right to the bottom. Mine was clearly much too accessible. *sigh*

So I really needed something to tide me over until I have a chance to find a proper new wallet. I have to carry around my ID (which thankfully was not in the wallet that was nicked!) and I tend to also have my travel card with me too. Clearly I have fewer bank cards than I did a few days ago but I do have the temporary one the bank issued me!

So, long story short this is a shout out to this post which helped me out in my hour of need.

The pattern is for a rounded zipper wallet with a card slots and the feature that ‘sold’ it to me (it was free) was the gusset bit in the middle. It seemed more involved and interesting than some other options I was scrolling through.


This is more quilting cotton from America and lined with yet more quilting cotton from America and an orange zip from the drawer of salvaged zips that’s bursting with of all sorts of stuff. If I had one of those cool Pinterest-y type sewing rooms I would have them all arranged by colour, material and size. But nah, where’s the fun in that? I prefer to just stick my hand in there and pull out whatever I can from its depths. 

The tutorial is pretty good. I like that there are actual pattern pieces rather than just measurements. Having said that I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re not used to sewing zips. It’s a bit fiddly to get it around that curve neatly.


The quilting cotton is supposed to be interfaced with iron on interfacing but I only had the lightweight stuff  so instead I just spray basted on some decent weight scraps. I love that use of using up rubbish fabric. I once bought a curtain in a charity shop for 50p that was incredibly ugly but I used it as sew in interfacing (or spray basted) for years and I think I might still have more lurking somewhere. Think outside the sewing box!

*side note* I found myself very grateful to have the necessary materials and knowledge to make myself a wallet when I needed one. If, for instance, I’d have stuck with the piano instead of spending my spare time at the sewing machine then I would have had to give up hours of free time to get to a shopping district, go from place to place and eventually spend too much money on something to do the job. Even if I liked it I would have had the ethical dilemma of wondering who made it and how they were treated (yes, don’t ever go shopping with me!) Or I could have bought it online but waited it for it to arrive only to find out that it’s not the right size or poor quality. Instead I found a tutorial, downloaded the pattern and made this while the bath was running. I do get that it’s all about your priorities and clearly some people would love the opportunity to go shopping but this is just me, being grateful that ‘past me’ gave up on the piano at age 17.

Anyway, the moral of the story here is that if you’re in a bar in the Place de la Monnaie area and see a young ish woman with long dark hair lurking around your table in a strange way, grab your wallet. Or let her have it and make yourself a new one. 

**update** I now have found myself a ‘proper’ wallet for actual money and stuff. Really pleased with it so wanted to shout out to the company where I got it – they’re called Paguro upcycle (not affiliate link) and I got a belt made from inner tube as well as my wallet made from recycled tyre and pet food packaging! I’m keeping my handmade wallet for my travelcard and ID though. I’ve learnt that it’s sensible not to keep all your eggs in one basket!