Apple a day dress

Marina in apple dress

Yet ANOTHER woollen moth casualty – this time they munched multiple holes a much-loved green woollen wraparound skirt. Greedy. Bastards.

Apple dress cut out

So, I size it up for a toddler’s tunic dress, just cutting approximately around another jumper dress and keeping the existing hem and side seam. As I’m cutting, I notice one of the offcuts looks like a leaf (see? between the armholes of the front and back?), and the apple motif follows quite naturally.

And then I’m off down memory lane… I had a dress with an apple on it as a child. Here is the original apple dress.

So I cover the mothholes with an applique apple. As it’s a fuzzy woollen, I’m guessing it won’t fray, so don’t finish any cut edges, or use interfacing to stabilise the apple. (Two machine washes later & I’m proved right – all stable AND unfrayed). The rest is dead easy: machine stitch the apple into place, followed by the side & shoulder seams, then fold the seam allowance once on the neck & armholes and stitch. It’s a bit wonky – my cutting, I’m afraid, but I figure it’ll wear ok.

Apple dress finished

The neckline looks pretty small all of a sudden, so I make two self-

Apple dress loopsApple dress button

covered buttons and loops for a shoulder fastening, and a small facing for each edge. This takes ages but I like the finished look.

However, in the cold light of day, it turns out the neckline is too BIG, so I run a little elastic thread through it with a darning needle – this works perfectly and Marina seems to like it!

Marina in apple dress laughing

NB After about 85 blurred photos she suddenly climbs on the sofa and strikes a slightly eerie doll pose. For a second. Then runs off and jumps around a bit more. Photographing a toddler to show off a garment is REALLY hard work. How do you do it?

Marina in apple dress doll pose


Oh and I also made this hat from the offcuts. It’s simply a rectangle, sewn up the short side, hemmed at the bottom and tied around with a strip.

Apple hat

She wouldn’t keep it on for more than a second, threw it off and now we cannot find it ANYWHERE. Prolly been munched to dust, by a bunch of delighted moths.


One nightie = hat, dress AND panties

I bought a couple of giant nighties from Primark while pregnant and, hating to see these swathes of perfectly acceptable cotton jersey go to waste, I got my sewing mojo working back in April.

Now it’s July and my blogging mojo is slightly revived, here I am to tell you all about how from one UK size 22 nightie has come…

marina standing in stripey dress

one dress, from McCalls M5916 pattern. I used the existing frilly placket and cut the rest of the dress around it. Sizing slightly skew-whiff – it’s big on Little Miss but that’s acceptable as these baby-people keep growing, don’t they? It’s a super-easy pattern and I’m sure if I keep making it, I’ll be able to bash out a dress in an evening before long. Motherhood, sadly, has not taken away my capacity to sit and stare into space instead of sewing.

baby in pants

one matching pair of panties, from the same pattern. The weather in London was unseasonably hot in April, and if Little Miss is out and about bare-legged, I didn’t want her nappies on show – just seems a bit wrong.

At this point I had to start piecing the fabric – thankfully only once, and the stripes hide the seam perfectly. I used jaunty fuchsia satin binding on the elastic casing, which may not show but *I* (and now you) know it’s there. Hopefully they will be silky soft against pudgy thighs.

marina in stripey sunbonnet

one floppy brimmed sunhat. The pattern is by Enid Gilchrist, who I’d have remained ignorant of but for the Internet – an australian who wrote excellent books on DIY pattern drafting. I’ve resisted the VERY strong temptation to buy her books – yet another major distraction from reducing the pile of projects still needing finishing. So quaint to work in imperial measurements (inches)!

This sun bonnet just tickles me – cute but practical, AND rocking a somewhat Amish/dutch nun vibe. It was great fun working out how to eke out the remaining scraps and only piece them twice! I recommend giving it a try – the pattern doesn’t have instructions but it is do-able.

Lovely to be sewing again.

Refashioned stripey dress

marina in stripey dress

Once more my sewing is inspired by kirsty of Soon as I read her post of this super-cute dress in its various permutations, I knew I had to track down the pattern – McCalls M5916 – and give it a try. Thanks eBay!

McCalls pattern M5916

A girly dress, with puff sleeves – what could be more perfect for a little girl with hair that clearly yells ‘I’m a boy!’ to passers by? I just wish I had the nerve of the lady I met in John Lewis yesterday – her 10 month old daughter was wearing a sequinned hat with fake hair extensions tumbling down her back. Quite something.


I took a Next t-shirt whose colours and buttoned neckline had wowed me into spending £1.50 on it at Chiswick Car Boot Sale, but just never suited me. I cut to keep the existing neckline, and luckily, was able to match the stripes pretty well on the body, and near-as-damnit on the sleeves.

I’m really pleased with the overall look – it’s a lovely, easy pattern to follow, and the puffed and overlapped two part sleeve gives just enough frou to be interesting. BUT I really need to go back to basics on using the overlocker, and sewing straight lines on very stretchy jersey. There’s crazy looping and wibbling going on all over the place which I just ignored and ploughed on regardless. But it bothers me.


Does anyone know of a decent online guide to no-tears-overlocking? Please share!

Little refashion

spitalfields dress

Found this dress for a fiver at Spitalfields and fell all in love with the vibrant colours – pink, green orange, white, and when you get in close, lovely mouse and burgundy tones. Cotton, hand made (fairly roughly, it must be said – get a load of the neck facing below!) and just plain cute.

In December, the neckline gaped, the whole thing was about 4″ too wide across the bust and it was clearly too big for me. So I plotted a refashion of folding the neckline into neat little tucks and repositioning of the waistband.

spitalfields dress bodice and belt

But nature has sort of refashioned my body in the intervening 2 months. I believe the technical term for the bits at the front is ‘hooters’ – nothing ‘sort of’ about it. So I fill out the space previously available pretty well. No tucks today, thanks.

spitalfields dress bodice

So, this refashion has been very simply achieved by

  • detaching the waistband
  • filling it with elastic
  • stitching it down at the back by the zipper, at each side seam and a little stitch at the centre front to stop it travelling about and
  • advancing my pregnancy.

spitalfields dress pregnant pose

Unless you’re a bloke, all easily achieved in an afternoon at the sewing machine!


Now, this ain’t all I been up to. But my efforts at the sewing machine, although dogged, regular and determined, have been less than triumphant. Against a backdrop of a dwindling wardrobe and expanding waistline, I’ve been struggling  to maintain enthusiasm for projects and write them up.

So this weekend, I’m aiming for some quick wins to both buck up my spirits and increase options for daywear. Dress above was a good start. To follow (I hope)

  • refashion an a-line skirt & jersey vest into modest maternity mini with big bump cover
  • rescue moth-eaten jumper of hubby’s to wear with maternity mini
  • maternity dress from newly acquired vintage patterns
  • first ‘quilt’ (or curtain with wadding, to be more accurate)
  • wardrobe refashion confession…

then after all this lickety-split quick sewing (who’m I kidding?) it’s back to the grindstone of that ambitious dress…

Promod dress – resized and refitted

Adapting something to fit: does that really count as a refashion?

Well, when it upgrades a garment from ‘I’ll-wear-that-if-my-body-weight-increases-by-40%’ to ‘I’ll-wear-that-to-work-today’, I say it COUNTS.


The pleasing side effects of finishing this dress, re-fashion or no, are
  • the to-do pile is reduced and this is now a wearable dress
  • I ‘fixed’ my broken Wardrobe Refashion pledge (I bought it new, from Promod, 2 sizes too big for me – couldn’t resist that print!)
  • and I cracked putting in an invisible zip without breaking a sweat.

Look, that’s not strictly true – I *did* sweat. First I sewed some impressively pissed seams (it’s a technical term, often used in construction and cabinet-making), then ripped em out. Following a small rummage in the sewing box, I switched over to use my [drum roll] invisible zipper foot and guess what – it’s perfectly suited to the job! What a coincidence that that’s its name! If I knew the emoticon for rolling one’s eyes, there’d be one just here ____.

Srsly folks, it’s the way forward. I will do some zip sewing very soon and will post pics for the unbelievers.

promod revived 4

Otherwise the rest of adjusting this dress to fit was a cinch. By cinch I mean I…

  • took in the side seams by following the existing seams, about 12mm from the existing seamline
  • closed up the gaping armhole with an extra bust dart, giving a better bosomly fit
  • repositioned the armhole approx 12mm in from the shoulder – to get everything back in proportion – and reapplied the original bias binding and
  • added a 4″ strip at the bottom of matching navy blue linen to hide my wierdy reddish knees.

Thanks Hubby for taking the pictures just before it started raining today, and for gently encouraging me to get this done.

About me

I started this blog to help me Get Things Done: sewing and knitting mostly.
But now I have a daughter! So I continue to daydream in enormous detail about what I'd like to make, but squeeze the 'doing' into precious naptimes and evenings.

Can I keep it up? Time will tell!

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