Cushion cover in crushed purple velvet

Oh wow, this is where I achieved one of my goals without even realising it! Ever since my children were born, I wanted to make something for them that they would want to keep (hopefully forever and ever and ever). A few months ago I was planning on throwing out a purple crushed velvet shirt that was 20 years old. Up until recently, anything that’s worn out either gets turned into dusters, or dust sheets for occasions when we’re painting / plastering etc. The thought of turning things into something else never quite crossed my mind. This is, however, probably because we’ve been living in a building site for years, so smart clothes become DIY clothes, and by the time they’re not good enough for DIY, they’re no good for anything else other than dusters either.Continue reading

Great British Sewing Bee Books

Like most British sewists (I prefer sewers (sowers) but as you’ve probably just noticed, when it’s written down, it doesn’t sound so great in your head – I don’t think I want to be known as a sewer, even though I sew!) I have been eagerly anticipating the arrival of GBSB 2016. Since watching the first series, I’ve been hooked, but every time it’s on, I wonder whether I’d really like to take part.Continue reading

Owl Pyjama Top

Having successfully completed the pyjama bottoms, I set my sights on the New Look Pyjama 6090 top. Fearing that all over owls would be a bit much, I used some plain cream cotton of similar weight to the owl material for the body pieces, and used the owl material for the facings and arms. Again, I opted for French seams, for the straight seams (side seams for the bodice, and seams down the arms.)Continue reading

Owl Pyjama Bottoms

This pattern and the material and notions were bought for me for my birthday last year. The pattern is New Look 6090.

New Look Kids Pyjamas

New Look Kids Pyjamas – 6090

For this pattern, I decided that for the first time ever, I would follow the construction instructions at all times. Continue reading

Pink Floral Shirred Dress

My daughter is now aware that I can sew things, and she loves to watch it happen. For the first time the other day I took her to a fabric shop to choose some material for a new dress. She chose, unsurprisingly, this pink flowery cotton by Rose & Hubble.

pink floral cotton

Pink, flowery and perfect for a 5-year old girl

I had decided that I was going to make the Girls Shirred Dress from the Great British Sewing Bee Fashion with Fabric book.

GBSB Fashion with Fabric book

Great British Sewing Bee Fashion with Fabric Book

I have never done shirring before, and I’ve never made something without a pattern before, so this met my novelty challenge in two ways.

So, how did it go? Well, cutting out the rectangles for the dress wasn’t difficult; I simply carried out the calculation, based on her chest size, and went from there. I did, however, manage to mess up the length a bit. Maybe I changed my mind about how long I like my daughters dresses to be, as I found the final dress length to be shorter than I anticipated. That was easily solved, however, by using a length of bright pink satin bias binding, so instead of turning up the raw edge, I encased it using the bias binding. I didn’t try any stitching in the ditch, or anything, I literally topstitched around the edge of the binding.

bias-bound hem with topstitching

Bias-bound hem with classy topstitching

I did find the straps rather more difficult. I have used the safety pin idea before, and although it’s not complex, it’s definitely fiddly, so instead, I decided to use a technique I saw a while back in which you sew a length of string into the straps (sewing the rectangle right side together, catching the “head” of the string, leaving the tail of the string in between the folded edge, and the sewed seam poking out of the end of the rectangle). This did work well, apart from one thing – I’m not sure how to extract the string and make a tidy job of the sewed end.

Scruffy straps

Somewhat scruffy straps

This is the best I could do, so any suggestions appreciated! To be honest, although it’s not complex, I would probably use lengths of ribbon rather than the fabric tubes instead next time.

As for the shirring itself, I’m not sure whether it’s my machine, or the material, or my technique, or something else, but I did find that to use the shirring elastic in the bobbin I needed to ensure it was pretty much at full tension, which is contrary to the instructions. Any other way of doing it lead to very messy, not very tight shirring. Once I had discovered this though, I was well away. The material didn’t have a horizontal stripe, so I ensured that the previous run of shirring elastic stayed in the same position relative to the presser foot on my machine. This worked really well, and at the end, the shirring lined up on both side seams of the dress. Woohoo!

Nicely aligned shirring

Nicely aligned shirring

My daughter loves this dress, but she doesn’t really like the feel of the shirring on her skin, or the frilly top hem on her underarms. She now wears it over a tee-shirt, but I don’t mind; she’s wearing it, and given that it will grow with her to be a top or skirt I love it (even if it is bright pink!)


Hi, I’m Fraggle and I juggle my time between work and family, sewing in my spare time (yeah, right!) I’ve sewn all my life, but never enough to really know what I’m doing. This is my journey, from inexperienced to hopefully more accomplished seamstress. A lot of the sewing blogs out there are fabulous, and I really enjoy them, but I haven’t found a lot of blogs that are from people like me, all seem to be from people that know what they’re doing!

My aim for this blog is to share my journey, the good, and the bad and most probably the ugly too, so that for anyone starting up, they don’t need to worry that they’re not producing perfect items; that they have to unpick seams several times; that they don’t know what the difference is between all the technical terms. I don’t know the difference between a lawn and a poplin,

Four different cottons

Lawn? Poplin? Quilting Cotton?

I don’t know when you should use different stitches for example, I can’t tell you what a welting foot is for. (What on earth is welting? I thought a welt was an injury!) I’m also hoping that someone out there will eventually read this, and be able to tell me the best way of doing things, when I’ve just been hacking my way through with a way that works, but isn’t very good / efficient / pretty etc.

Assorted sewing machine feet

Feet, glorious feet!

Basically I’m relying on the effect that the best way to find out how to do something on the internet is not to ask a question, but to show the way you’ve done something so that people can tell you just how wrong you are! I have also decided that everything I make should now be a challenge to myself – to test my sewing skills in some way that I haven’t done before. These challenges can be big or small, just something that I’ve not done before, a new technique, a new material, a new tool, anything as long as it’s not resorting to the same thing over and over again.

I am learning; I’m not going to be one of those bloggers that posts a new finished item every week. I’m also not going to be posting tutorials, but I will post “this is what I did, and this is what went well, and these are the problems I found with this method” in the hopes that it helps both myself, and others, learn from my mistakes. I hope you enjoy joining me on this journey, I am really hoping you can smile at my successes, have a little chuckle at my failures and maybe learn from them yourself, and finally, I’m hoping that you can give me the pointers I need to improve my skills.