29 May 2012

Sewing in the Park

What do you do when it's a beautiful sunny weekend but you're desperate to finish a sewing project? I faced this dilemma on Saturday as the park was beckoning but I wanted to wear my Picnic Blanket Skirt the next day. So I finished the machine stitching faster than the speed of light, packed a mini sewing kit and took it to the park to hand-stitch the buttons while sitting on the grass and chatting with friends. Bliss! A few people were definitely staring at me thinking I'm a crazy lady, but by August I reckon they'll all be doing it.

I'm determined to enjoy nature and relaxing (a bit!) this Summer but I don't want to slow down on the sewing. Do you face the same dilemma? How do you get round it?

[Soundtrack: 'A Real Hero' by College & Electric Youth]

27 May 2012

The Picnic Blanket Skirt

I LOVE this skirt! Not only is it pretty snazzy, if I do say so myself, it's also super practical, multifunctional even. It has pockets, yes. Pockets are good. It's also super spread-out-able, you can lay your sandwiches on it and look glamorous at the same time. Moreover, while enjoying the sunshine in the park today I realised that, if I team the skirt with my red Esther Williams swimsuit, I can look glam, carry sandwiches in the pockets, then whip the skirt off to lay out on and use as a full picnic blanket. Good, eh?

Okay, so I think I've made my point about how practical it is. It's also incredibly easy to make. I didn't use a pattern, just worked out the measurements and sewed it up. The fabric is a fairly heavy but super drapey and nicely textured cotton-linen blend that I scored from Brixton market for £2/m. Plus it's really easy to wear - casual yet chic at the same time.

If you like I can do a "how to" in a future post so you can make your own button down gathered skirt. Apparently they're "on trend" and everything (not that we care about things like that, do we?). I just know that I'm going to live in this skirt this Summer. It's the kind of piece I'll miss when it's in the laundry basket...

UPDATE: Make your own Picnic Blanket Skirt

[Soundtrack: 'Je Ne Vois Que Vous' by Benjamin Schoos]

25 May 2012

A Day in the Life of Lissa Cook - Peak Princess

Many stitchers make a living from sewing for other people, capitalising on the market for beautifully handmade clothing. Imagine making vintage-style children's clothing in Liberty fabrics for a living! For this month's A Day in the Life we meet Lissa Cook, founder and designer of online boutique Peak Princess, who juggles her PR job with a successful business doing just that. How does she do it? "And what time does she go to bed, please?" you ask. Let's see...


"My husband Nik and I both work from our home in a small Peak District village called Chinley. We moved up from London five years ago - I was working for BBC Radio 4 news programmes and Nik was managing London’s top personal training studio so we were both pretty exhausted from long hours and irregular shifts. I’d started working for an independent in Manchester producing radio documentaries - though the work was great, it was still high pressured. Nik’s new career as a freelance adventure sports writer was going well so when a long-term contract ended I leapt at the chance to take six months off. I had the idea for starting to make handmade childrenswear during a picnic in the park with my very well-dressed little god-daughter (another Tilly!). Four years on Peak Princess has been successful beyond my wildest dreams with sales all over the world and my dresses featured in magazines like Brides, Sunday Times Style and Country Living. The media coverage for Peak Princess led to other small businesses asking me for advice. I was blessed to find a wonderful dress-maker to help me with the sewing leaving me more time for my PR work.

Working from home means we can get up when we like but we’re both naturally early birds. We have two Finnish Lapphunds and as Nik has endless amounts of gear reviews to do and training for events he’s out every morning. I’m not as disciplined so rely on a twice-weekly 7.30 running ‘appointment’ with my graphic designer friend Hannah (Design Everything who designed my logos) to force me out the house.

We’re coffee addicts. The 6 cup stove top Bialetti goes on for pre-run pick-me-up followed by the 12 cupper after breakfast - normally porridge or omelettes. My golden rule of home-working is to get dressed every day. My only concession is that if I have to work at the weekend (accounts, last minute orders etc.) I’m allowed to stay in my dressing gown. I chop and change between jeans, skirts and dresses depending on how the mood takes me or if I need to dress to impress for a client meeting.

We’re both disciplined about starting work on time. I’m a smart-phone addicted, A-type personality so I force myself NOT to look at emails until 9am and I’m learning from Nik not to respond to each one as I open them but to write a prioritised list. That and a strict division of time in colour-coded slots on iCal keeps me on track.


I work either in my sewing room at the top of the house or at my laptop on the kitchen table. Over the past few months, PR has been taking up more and more of my time as people started asking for help and advice. I had a stroke of good fortune (my Mum calls it serendipity) when Millie Crawford e-mailed me out of the blue last year asking if I needed any dress-making help. I was struggling to deal with orders and keep up with my PR & journalism as well so it was perfect timing. She used to manage wedding dress designer Anneliese Sharp’s Chelsea boutique and has two little girls of her own. At first it was terribly difficult to relinquish control - Peak Princess was my own little empire. A year on it’s the best thing I ever did. I think I’d have been forced to close up shop under the pressure otherwise. I now mainly handle the business side of things while Millie does the bulk of the sewing.

I try and get orders and customer enquiries dealt with first thing. My typical Peak Princess customer is a 30-40 something professional Mum or bride-to-be, often in London but I post all over the world. (Tasmania’s the furthest - thinking about it, I’d have to deliver to the moon to go any farther).

The USP of Peak Princess is offering any of my designs in the size and Liberty print of your choice. Liberty of London have been wonderfully supportive. My sister-in-law Sophie is the Design Director at Jellycat toys stocked by Liberty’s Regent Street store. She suggested I contact them and show them my samples - they loved the designs and agreed to supply me and featured my debut range on their Liberty Loves blog. The tana lawn is silky soft and a dream to work with as the weave is so fine.

The bridal side of the business has really grown. The range of Liberty prints and constant introduction of new designs gives customers almost limitless choice. It means brides can easily match dresses to their colour theme and add touches of Liberty for ushers and page boys with waistcoats and ties. I stock about 50 prints but increasingly people are choosing their own prints and posting them to me so we’re working on a BYO (buy your own) section of the website with advice on lengths to buy and dress-making price quotes.

Fabric designer Kate Yorke who makes my accessories lives just down the road while Millie lives in London. We’ve come to quite an efficient system of posting patterns and fabrics back and forth. It helps that she’s super organised and her sewing is amazing. My Mum was a couture designer (also now living in London) and she oohs and aahs over the quality of Millie’s seaming and hemming! We talk a few times a week and text and email throughout the day. It’s a delight to have someone to puzzle over a pattern with or to let off steam about a demanding bridal customer.

I try and allocate 2 hour blocks to PR clients. I’m privileged to be able to pick and choose. I’m working with a wonderful not-for-profit company Community Sports Trust which runs a grassroots sports project called the Derbyshire Village Games; and also for an adventure sports events consultancy which runs the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival and Cliffhanger Outdoors Festival. Both have gone so well that we’re launching a new Peak District film and speaker weekend called the Buxton Adventure Festival in October. I also freelance for a brilliant Brummie PR guru called Neil and am running Social Media for Sport courses. My latest client is a local website designer. So my life is a weird and wonderful mix of sport and sewing! I keep my hand in at radio producing a podcast series and doing the odd shift reading the news at High Peak Radio.

Nik does all the cooking. We try our best to force ourselves to stop and shut our laptops. I’ve developed a wheat intolerance so sandwiches are out. Lunch is often jacket potatoes or salads. We’re lucky to have a great deli in the village and on Friday’s we try and take a long lunch at our favourite cafe (In a Pickle in Chapel-en-le-Frith). My ultimate aim is to take Friday afternoons off but it’s a pipe dream at the moment.

I work two two-hour blocks - generally PR after lunch and sewing later on in the day as I’m still taking on the odd order myself and am working on persuading Millie to make boys’ clothes. She loves dresses. At the moment I’m mainly dealing with men’s ties which have really taken off. It took months and months to develop a pattern I was happy with and find a weight that cut the mustard with my husband and his friends.

All of my clothes are individually marked out with chalk and cut by hand. My Mum knows all the tricks of the trade having been taken on as an apprentice dress-maker at 15 so she taught me how to get the maximum number of pieces out of a width of fabric. My tiny sewing room has three “areas” - the cutting table, sewing machine and overlocker. To be efficient I try and cut a week’s orders all at once. As far as possible I’ll try and group patterns so you make two or three of them same pattern at the same time. To avoid getting RSI I make a conscious effort to be on the move between sitting at the machine and standing at the ironing board.

I try my best to finish work at 6pm so I’m generally clock-watching - either sewing while I listen to my old programme Radio 4 PM or winding up emails. But it’s gone 8pm now so often good intentions go out the window. The thing I enjoy most about my job is my job. The hardest thing is to stop doing it. We both love what we do so our personal and professional lives tend to bleed into each other. Nik’s often racing at weekends and for me that can be a quiet moment to do the accounts, write an article or finish buttonholes or slip-stitch ties without the phone going.

I’m a terrible praise-seeker. The thing I love most about Peak Princess is opening my email and finding a picture of a little girl or boy wearing my clothes. This week I was sent a link to the Love My Dress blog which featured a wedding I’d made six ties for - it made me cry. I loved making radio programmes but though 2 million people listened, you only ever heard the complaints. No-one bothered to write in a say they appreciated what you did. The thing I love about PR is getting my clients in the press. It’s a childish, rather ego-centric joy but I find it fulfilling.

I’ve gone from being a real evening exercise person to more and more of a morning runner so often evenings are spent either walking the dogs to the pub for a glass of wine, going round to see friends (the advantage of village life is all your friends live within a 5 minute walk) or crashing out in front of a box set (it’s dark Danish drama at the moment with The Killing). Either that or I’m catching up on editing dress photos or updating my website. (I’m a total nerd and love my Mac book).

Nik will have cooked something delicious. I wash up! I’m not good at relaxing. I have a no TV before 7pm rule but am a total sucker for reality television and a twitter addict. I do now try and avoid dealing with emails after 6pm.

We’re both never happier than when tucked up in bed by 10pm with a book or even better an audiobook. It’s a joke with our friends that there’s no point phoning us after 9pm.

Looking back I feel like I’ve come full circle. Peak Princess has been a wonderful adventure that’s allowed me to carve out an eclectic, busy career - I've just launched a new website for Lissa Cook PR.

My top tip to anyone thinking of setting up a “creative business” is to separate the creative from the business. Too many people indulge their creativity and don’t want to be bogged down by the detail.

  • Be realistic - can you afford it? We allocated a certain amount of savings and agreed that if we exhausted them I’d go back to working in Manchester.
  • Get started. You do have to do market research but the proof is in the pudding - if it sells you’re getting it right. If it doesn’t, try something else.
  • Don’t spend money you don’t have. I was quoted thousands for advertising, website design and photography so I did my own PR and asked my talented sister to teach me how to use a decent camera. I’m lucky - I’m a natural nerd. I love spreadsheets so learning to do book-keeping was interesting and I built my and SEOed my own website. I’ve seen too many people who don’t know their turnover and margins.
  • Read The E-myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work. Recommended by my friend Lisa’s brother - a very successful entrepreneur - I read it before Christmas and wished I’d been bought it when I started out.

Wowzers, what a busy life! So inspiring how you manage to fit it all in. Thanks Lissa!
Readers, if you liked noseying into the life of this crafty business lady, check out the other A Day in the Life posts.

23 May 2012

Five French Sewing Blogs

Bonjour mes amis! Do you read sewing blogs in a language other than English? I'm always on the lookout for new sources of inspiration and every so often I stumble upon a site which reminds me that there's a whole other stitching world out there than the US, UK, Australian and Canadian sewing blogs which dominate my blog roll. I can read French well, Spanish a little and with other foreign language sewing blogs I simply enjoy looking at the pictures! I thought I'd share some lovely French sewing blogs I've discovered recently...

A sewing, knitting and lifestyle blog with such beautiful photography. And oh that Breton top!

Félicie à Paris
Mathilde has a lovely style, snapping homemade outfits by the light of her Paris apartment window. Plus it's always nice to find someone with (almost) the same name as me!

Les petites envies de Mag
I stumbled upon this site when hunting pictures of Victory Patterns makes. This lady has such a cute style - just look at that lovely version of Anouk!

Atelier Charlotte Auzou
A talented self-taught stitcher who launched her own clothing collection last year, as well as one-to-one sewing lessons for people who want to learn to make her designs themselves at home.

Made by 6
Super chic and super laid back at the same time. Oh and just one of many participants of the French Me-Made-April!

Do you have favourite non-English language sewing blogs? Perhaps you blog in another language yourself? I'm planning to follow up this post with some guest bloggers introducing us to their favourite non-English sewing blogs so please do share your favourite links if you'd like to guest post about sewing blogging in a particular country or language... À bientôt!

22 May 2012

Sponsoring This Blog in June

As a passionate supporter of crafty enterprises, I'm pleased to offer sponsorship opportunities to sewing- and craft-related businesses, handmade and vintage stores, and other websites I believe readers of this blog would like to know about.

I'm proud to already be promoting a bunch of businesses I love:

Frumble - for the best selection of bias binding I've ever seen
Megan Nielsen - lovely sewing patterns by the sweetest independent designer
Victory Patterns - super stylish sewing patterns to make you swoon
Saints and Pinners - a great UK source of pretty fabrics and independent sewing patterns
Sew Over It - South London sewing cafe offering a great range of classes, cakes and goodies
The Village Haberdashery - beautiful website which introduced me to fabric and pattern designers I hadn't seen before.

If you're interested in joining them, see my sponsorship page for details. Thank you! :)

20 May 2012

What's On My Sewing Table

Looks a bit like a picnic blanket, non? I'm not great at naming my projects but I've already decided that this make is going to be called the Picnic Blanket Skirt. Mountains of gingham are currently currently covering my sewing table as I stitch together a summery skirt, sans pattern of any kind. It'll be fine! Oh and it has wooden buttons (mmm...). And pockets! :)

[Soundtrack: 'Why Didn't You Call Me' by Macy Gray]

18 May 2012

Mid-Month Me-Made-May Magic!


I can't believe we're half way through Me-Made-May already! Last year I took part in the same challenge to wear homemade clothing all month long, but this time round it's been sooooo much easier. Partly because I've got more self-stitched stuff in my wardrobe, partly because as I've become more experienced I've sewn more practical things that I actually wear (not just things I'd wear if I were living in a Douglas Sirk movie), and partly because I'm not forcing myself to take photos every day - only when I remember! I've been posting pictures to my Pinterest page and it's nice to see other Me-Made-May comrades' snaps popping up on Pinterest too. I'm about to go on a work trip to somewhere which might just make you insanely jealous (clue: I work in film)... let's hope the homemade wardrobe can handle it... Wish me bon voyage!

(Click on the images to see my original posts on the makes)

[Soundtrack: 'Peggy Day' by Bob Dylan]

16 May 2012

Stitching with a Message: Craftivist Collective

Have you ever used stitching to get a message across?

Regular readers will know that I am fascinated by the link between sewing and well-being, in particular the immense impact that making things with your own hands can have on your sense of empowerment or agency in the world. So I was super interested to find out about Craftivist Collective, who take this one step further by using craft as a route to political participation, as a means through which people can publicly express their feelings about social inequality and injustices.

Cross-stitched miniature protest banners left in public places; bunting sewn with a motivational statement; and my personal favourite – embroidering a letter to your MP on a handkerchief. Craftivist Collective’s message is that activism is for everyone, and they use craft as an accessible way of reaching people who want to make their voice heard but may feel intimidated by more hardcore political activist groups.

Through a random coincidence, I recently had the opportunity to meet and interview Craftivist Collective’s founder, the inspirational and truly lovely Sarah Corbett…

Sarah, what made you set up Craftivist Collective?

I was a burnt out activist, a creative and an introvert. I’d tried to join lots of activist groups, but they were loud, extrovert, quite masculine in some ways, using violence and sabotage, demonising people. I felt like it wasn’t for me. I was tired of going on marches, I’m not vegan, I don’t ride a bike! I didn’t feel like it was my community.

Around the same time I moved into a flat so tiny I couldn’t bring my sewing machine and I couldn’t paint. So I got into cross stitch and really loved it. My mum and dad brought me up saying, “Whatever you do, do it for good,” so I was trying to work out how I could use cross stitch to talk about issues I felt strongly about. So I started making mini protest banners and leaving them in public places.

At the time I was calling myself the Lonely Craftivist – which is so emo! People were taking the banners down quite quickly so I set up a blog so I could talk about the issues a bit more. Then people from all over the world started asking if they could join in! In London a few of us met up – and suddenly I had found the group I had always wanted to be a part of.

What is it about craft that makes it a particularly effective tool for activism?

So many things! Politicians are inured to “clicktivism” (online petitions) or to receiving sacks full of petitions, which are so easy for people to sign. But if they get a letter as an embroidered hankie, they are much more likely to sit up and listen as it’s clearly an issue someone cares about if they put that much time and energy into making it. And the fact that it’s handmade shows that it’s their personal view, not something generated by a machine.

The embroidered hankies are polite letters reminding politicians to be the best people they can be, to remember the big issues like social inequality and to make best use of their power to change the world. “Don’t blow it!” Politically, they’ve got a lot more weight than the messages which demonise politicians – we’re not saying they’re horrible people, we’re simply reminding them to do their best.

It’s also satisfying for the activists themselves. If you go on a protest march against a war, sometimes you can feel like you’re not achieving anything. If you’re stitching a hankie, you get to create something and you get to finish it. Similar to what you say on your blog, by creating something you get to feel like you’ve achieved something, which is usually hard to do as an activist.

The craft itself also draws people in. The mini protest banners we cross stitch are non-threatening – they’re really small so you’re not forcing your opinion on people, they have to go up to it and read it. We stitch in public, so people often come up to us to ask what we’re doing, rather than us shouting at them in the street. A lot of people are intimidated by the idea of lobbying or the word “activism” which is such a loaded term. But people who find our banners in the street often tweet about them. And stitching a hankie is a powerful way of lobbying your MP. So craftivism is a way of getting people talking about the issues, and it's a stepping stone to further political engagement.

One of the joys of sewing is spending quiet time in a state of “flow”, which allows your mind a bit of time to wander free and come up with all kinds of interesting thoughts. Do Craftivists report a special kind of introspection?

Sitting there stitching gives you an opportunity to chill out – which personally I find important living in crazy London and working in an office – and to have an inner monologue with yourself and reflect on things you don’t usually give yourself the chance to think about. For me it’s a way of keeping myself in check.

You said you set up Craftivist Collective because you felt you didn’t fit in with other activist groups. What kinds of people are Craftivists?

A mixed bunch. Many are really shy crafty people who care about issues like global poverty but may be scared to go on a march. This is where we focus our energy – we don’t try to preach to the converted. Others are burnt out activists who want to chill out and get their message across in a different way. And some Craftivists are people who just want to meet new people.

How can we get involved?

Anyone can join Craftivist Collective. We’ve got people all over the world. Our website has examples of lots of projects with instruction videos. You can do them on your own or in a group. You can just start making things yourself, or if you want to you can buy a mini protest banner kit or a “Don’t Blow It” hankie kit. We have monthly Stitch-Ins at the Royal Festival Hall in London, and we also do workshops around the UK – events are listed on our website. And we always like people to send us a photo of what they’ve made so we can put it on our blog.

Do you craft just for fun too?

Yes! I love making presents for people. My poor sister gets handmade gifts from me every birthday and every Christmas. I’ve got my sewing machine in London now. I don’t make clothes because I’m not very good at making things three dimensional and I don’t have the patience for it. I make bags, cushions and crazy evil teddies! I much prefer hand sewing as it’s something I can do while I’m travelling.

But I still really enjoy craftivism – it’s never a chore. I get a kick out of making something, leaving it in a public place and wondering who is going to find it.

Finally, please can we see your awesome tattoos?


12 May 2012

Fabric Shopping in London

One of the most common questions I'm asked is where to go fabric shopping in London. I buy much of my fabric online, but I do so like a pootle around the shops too. Here are my suggestions of some places to go – not at all a comprehensive list of fabric shops in London, but the places I most often visit myself. Enjoy!

Berwick Street
Nearest tube: Oxford Circus / Tottenham Court Road / Piccadilly Circus
Map link
You’ll find a string of fabric shops along this bustling street in Soho, including The Cloth House (two shops, in fact), Silk Society, Misan Textiles (again, two of them), Biddle Sawyer Silks, Berwick Street Cloth Shop and Borovick. Prices can be jaw-droppingly high and the friendliness of staff varies, but if you are in town they’re worth a browse even if you don’t buy anything as the stock is really beautiful. Don’t miss Kleins on Noel Street just around the corner for an amazing selection of trimmings.

Great Marlborough Street W1B 5AH
Nearest tube: Oxford Circus
Map link
The world famous fabric prints need no introduction, but Liberty also has a delightful selection of gorgeous notions, buttons and trims in its haberdashery department. It's also a beautiful building in itself, a shopping (or browsing) experience like no other. Again, extremely expensive, but worth a visit if you fancy a treat or are just happy to appreciate fine things from afar! Not far from Berwick Street so you can visit both in one trip.

MacCulloch and Wallis
25-26 Dering Street W1S 1AT
Nearest tube: Oxford Circus
Map link
To be honest I’m a little intimidated by this place and have only been in once, when I heard the shop assistant being extremely rude to a customer. But I thought I'd mention it as I know it does have its devotees, plus it's not far from Liberty if you're going there anyway. Three (small) floors of unusual fabrics, trimmings and supplies, established in 1902.

John Lewis
300 Oxford Street W1A 1EX
Nearest tube: Oxford Circus
Map link
The haberdashery section of this departments store isn’t the most inspiring place to visit, so I wouldn’t recommend it to international readers over here on holiday, but as a Londoner who works nearby I often pop in here to pick up thread, needles or the odd length of fabric which catches my eye.

Nearest tube: Walthamstow Central
Map link
Right at the northern end of the Victoria tube line, so this one is for Londoners and hardcore fabric shopping tourists/pilgrims only! Walthamstow really is a wonderland for stitchers, with a plethora of shops and market stalls along the high street piled high with bargains and bursting with gems. Expect to pay £1 or £2 per metre for most things, unless it's supposedly "end-of-the-roll Hobbs wool" in which case prices may go up to a (very modest) £5.

[photo courtesy of Karen]

Goldhawk Road
Nearest tube: Goldhawk Road / Shepherds Bush
Map link
Again, a bit of a mission out of central London, this time towards the west, but if you are in London to buy fabric, Goldhawk Road is a great place to visit. There is a string of small fabric shops along the stretch of road between Goldhawk Road tube station and Shepherd's Bush Green. As part of the local council's redevelopment plans for the nearby market, these units are soon due to be torn down. As far as I understand the situation, the shops have been offered to be rehoused, but the fear is that they won't be able to afford the new rent rates (more here). Visit while you still can.

Nearest tube: Brixton
Map link
And finally I couldn't not mention my home turf! I wouldn’t go out of your way to go fabric shopping in Brixton, but if you live nearby I would recommend Simply Fabrics, two shops on Atlantic Road, for a fairly good selection at super low prices. There's also Atlantic Silks on Electric Avenue, which doesn’t have the best selection of apparel fabrics but is a good place to get cheap zippers and other bits. There are also a couple of fabric stalls in Market Row where I’ve been known to find some gems, and if you’re after sewing tools or thread, there's Morleys department store opposite the tube station. If you’re visiting Brixton, do make time for lunch or coffee at one of the lovely eateries in pop-up-turned-permanent Brixton Village (my favourites are Franco Manca and Honest Burger).

I hope this was helpful. If you're a Londoner yourself, feel free to chip in with your own favourite fabric shopping destinations. Happy fabric shopping!

DIY Couture Giveaway Winners

So many of you like the sound of the DIY Couture book! Well, three of you lucky people get to win one... and the rest of you should go and buy it! It was so interesting to read all the comments on the giveaway post about your experiences of sewing without patterns and the different viewpoints on what's important in a home sewn garment. Plus it's always nice to discover some new blogs by people who leave comments - I think that's my Saturday morning gone :)

The winners of the giveaway are:

  1. This book sounds great, I have learnt how to sew basics and to be honest patterns do make me hesitate because they seem so complicated. . .I think this kind of book would be perfect for someone like me that knows the basics but just needs a bit of a nudge to actually jump in and get going:)
  2. Ooo... the book looks fantastic! The closest I've come to going patternless is to pin-trace off an existing garment - it worked surprisingly well!
  1. I tried to make a dress without a pattern once, and it was a complete disaster! I think the thing I learnt most was that you need to have patience with things like this, take the time to think about what you're doing. I have a tendency to get a bit scissor happy!

Bon weekend, tout le monde! Anyone got any exciting sewing plans, by any chance?

[Soundtrack: 'Don't Play That Song' by Aretha Franklin]

9 May 2012

Red Button-Back Blouse

*Update: Due to popular demand, the sewing pattern for this blouse is now available to buy*

Should I rename this blog Tilly and the Button-Back Blouse? Yes, my friends, I've made another one! This time with two panels of vertical pleating on the bodice. I think this one is my favourite :) Making this pattern up multiple times has allowed me to experiment with the design features - compare it to the first basic boxy blouse, the second with puffed sleeves and Peter Pan collar, and the third with horizontal pleating at the yoke. It has also allowed me to tweak the fitting along the way - I'm much happier with the hem length and cuff ease on this one.

After much introspection, I chose these buttons because I'm a sucker for fabric-covered buttons and because I want to give people a little surprise pop of colour when I turn around. Ooh...! I really love it!

I haven't yet come up with a snazzy name for this pattern, so for now it's just "button-back blouse" (any suggestions?). But you'll be pleased to hear I think I've got the pattern out of my system for a while, so my next sewing project will be something different - promise!

PS. I'm struggling to get on with the new Blogger blog reading list thingey and somewhere along the line I seem to have lost a lot of the blogs I used to follow. I'm thinking of starting again with a new blog reader, maybe Bloglovin'. Do you use it? Or can you recommend another good blog reader? Thank you!

[Soundtrack: 'Cylons in Love' by Bent]