SWAP2017 Pt 6: By Hand London Anna Dress in Frida Kahlo

Last year I was working full steam on a SWAP2017 wardrobe. You can read some of the previous SWAP2017 posts here <link here>.

This is the fifth garment that I made for the SWAP2017 capsule – an endeavour which started in 2016! I did finish this in time for the April 2017 deadline but for some reason its taken its time to get to the blog.

The capsule plan was to have one statement-y dress.

My SWAP2017 “Vision Board”

There was a limit on how many patterns you could use – the max was 8 patterns for 11 garments. I used the Anna dress because it could be easily modified.

The trick was to find a fabric that I loved but that could go with all the other pieces. After much searching, I eventually landed on the Frida y Catarina fabric in a blue background on EBay. To say I fell for this fabric is an understatement. I freaking love this fabric and consequently the dress.

I have made the Anna dress three times before. I have not made it using a medium weight quilting cotton like this Alexander Henry fabric. Ruth’s Core Couture tutorial was a godsend. She shows with well-detailed instruction and rationale how to prevent neckline gaping that can be an issue with wide V necklines. You can check out the tutorial here – a must-read for anyone who has ever been exasperated with a neckline that won’t lay flat.

Stay tape in the neckline of the BHL Anna Dress

The results more than speak for themselves. I have since used that same approach on many more projects with great results.


When we went to the US last year for my FIL’s 70th birthday celebrations I took it along. Its one of what I like to call “The Magnificent 3” dresses. Whenever I wear any of those 3, I get a lot of compliments. I will probably write up a post about them and why I think they get so many compliments – advance spoiler – it is not about the dress per se. Anyway, I digress pictures.

BHL Anna Dress on location in Central Park, New York – hence the walking sandals 🙂
BHL Anna Dress

The fabric is a border print and I was not keen to cut into the print. I cut the bodice on the cross grain so that the Frida print was only at the hem. The skirt pieces are rectangles with darts added. The darts matched up with the bodice darts. That created the A line shape of the skirt. I contemplated adding pockets but decided that the design lines were more important. My problem is that I do actually use my pockets heavily and there are some styles that look and feel odd to me when the pocket is in use.

The hem is exactly at the selvedge edge. I wanted the maximum length I could get. It used 3 meters of fabric with very little scraps. The benefit of quilting cottons like the Alexander Henry ones is that they do wash and keep the colours well. I imagine that in time, with more washes, the fabric will get softer. The thought brings a smile to my face as I hope to be wearing this dress for decades.

Picture was taken in May this year – with my frohawk and post SticthRoom Sewcial so my eyebrows were neat 🙂
I love the vibrant orange flowers on the fabric.  BHL Anna Dress
Power pose….LIKE A BOSS!!! BHL Anna Dress
BHL Anna Dress

Last week on Saturday I went to see the Frida Kahlo exhibit in London – I believe that’s what prompted me to finally write about this dress on the blog. I am still processing my thoughts on the experience and will be writing a post about it soon.

Back to the SWAP2017 – I still have more of the garments to write about and those posts should be ready…..soonish :-).

In the meantime, I do have a video on my YouTube channel if you’d like to see this dress in motion.

Thanks for stopping by this corner of the interwebs.

Peace and love,



SWAP2017 Pt 5: Ansterick Holsten Sweater and an Experiment in pre washing yarn

Last year I was working full steam on a SWAP2017 wardrobe. You can read some of the previous SWAP2017 posts here <link here>:

For one of my uppers – I opted for a  knitted item. The inspiration was based on a Bella Freud 1970 Jumper . This jumper retails at ÂŁ300.

The pattern I used was the Holsten jumper by Anstrick. 

Once I had selected the pattern the next challenge was finding the bright red yarn colour. Someone on Ravelry recommended Cascade Ultra Pima Cotton DK yarn. The yarn has a lovely lustre to it and it had a lipstick red shade that looked promising. I ordered several balls of different reds from various brands but this was the one that nailed it. Luckily they also had the black and white of the same yarn.

The next challenge was how to prevent bleeding. From the many posts that I read where people had knitted with red and white or black and white – there was a bleeding issue when the garment was washed. After ruminating on the issue for a while I thought that maybe I could try pre-washing the yarn before knitting to reduce any bleeding potential in the same way we prewash fabric for sewing.

Luckily the yarn comes in skeins. My first attempt was a bit of a travesty because I didnt do anything to prevent the yarn from tangling. On my second attempt, I loosely tied the skein at 4 different points so that I could easily reconstitute the skein.

The prewashing process involved filling the sink with hot water and soaking for about an hour, gently wringing the water out and repeating until the water ran clear. For the red this took approximately 4 soakings, the black took 6 soakings to run clear. I also did the white twice because I needed it to have a similar texture to the black and red.

After drying out the skeins I then had to wind them into yarn balls. There were a lot of online tutorials to help. I used a kitchen roll tube and spent several hours balling up the skein. It was tedious but I think it was worth it in the end. 

Dryng the prewashed yarn

Pre washed and un washed side by side
Prewashed on left. Has a ‘fuller’ look and feel. Unwashed on right.


I swatched with 3.75, then 3,5 but it was 3,25 that got the correct stitch gauge. I should have done some mods since the pattern calls for fingering 4 ply but my yarn was DK. However, I still do not understand these things so I went on ahead with the proviso that I would be trying it along the way to see what I need to change. On the whole this worked, I think I managed to get away with it :-).

This pattern knits up quite quick since it all stokinette stitch. It was also a great opportunity for me improve my Portuguese knitting skills. I think the fit is quite good. Yarn feels comfy against my skin.

The prewashing seems to have worked. When I washed this there was no bleeding.

And here I am wearing it last year.

The pattern instructions were very clear and well written. I learnt some new techniques like the saddle stitch for the raglan sleeve. It may not be the best but I had a great time knitting this. I’d have liked to do add in a HILA motif on the white section but my skills are not yet there. I am still very happy with this jumper.

Finally, I used just under 5 skeins of red and less than 1 skein each of black and white. The total cost of the yarn was ÂŁ50.48. Not bad considering the inspiration retails at ÂŁ300. Win!

Thanks for stopping by my little corner of the internets. Until next time, happy knitting!

Peace and love,










Thanks for stopping by this corner of the interwebs.

Peace and love,


SWAP2017 Pt 4: Sewaholic Hollyburn & Granville Shirt

Hi guys!

Last year I was working full steam on a SWAP2017 wardrobe. You can read some of the previous SWAP2017 posts here <link here>:

For my lower, I had the Hollyburn skirt which was to be made in an orange bright orange fabric.

I bought the fabric from Fabworks. It’s a cotton twill weave which also has a geometric pattern. It has spandex it with some (about 3% stretch on the cross grain).

Instead of a facing, I used Petersham ribbon on the waistband. Pink satin bias binding on outside

Sewaholic Granville modified –

The fabric is linen dyed a navy blue using Dylon washing machine dye. This was one of the few successful results from my experiments with dyeing fabric.

The embroidery is from Kate N Rose patterns which I had bought over 3 years ago but hadnt ever bothered with it. It’s called Faraway Garden. When Kate was helping me with inspiration pictures I remembered that I had it somewhere in my digital files. Unfortunately marking dark fabric was challenging. Chalk faded away easily and my Frixion pens were not very easily visible. Patience is not one of my strong virtues and eventually, I reached a point which I just wasn’t bothered. But that’s ok – I realised that I am not yet at the beautiful intricate embroidery stage. That’s okay.

I eliminated the center front button placket. The front is sewn together with a flap for snaps of some sort (am yet to do this). I made it sleeveless by raising the armscye by 1/2″ and narrowing the shoulder by 3/4″. This makes it have a closer fit around the armhole. I bias bound the armholes using same linen fabric.

The idea was to have further embroidery on the front and back but seriously, it’s not my thing. I should have got appliques and in future, this is what I will do. As far as embroidery goes – I need to walk before I can run :-).

I am very happy with these 2 garments, more so because they are 2 of my most beloved patterns that I have made more than a dozen of collectively. Pictures….be warned the orange is really bright :-). Pictures were taken in May 2017.

Sewaholic Patterns Hollyburn Skirt and Granville Shirt

Guess the song from the dance pose 🙂


Thanks for stopping by this corner of the interwebs.

Peace and love,


SWAP2017: An Over and a Lower

My SWAP has 4 overs which are :

  1. Fitted shirt in shocking pink.
  2. Embroidered fitted top
  3. Knitted red and white jumper
  4. White tie back top
  5. A ‘rogue’ dress

For this post I am looking at the pink fitted shirt and the yellow maxi skirt.

Fitted Shirt


Sewaholic Granville and I got back a long way. See here <link>. Its a tried and true patterns that I love.

I had already seen the shocking pink fabric at the Shuttle in Shipley before deciding on the SWAP colours. Once my colours were settled, I was forced to go back to The Shuttle (I want to be clear on this – I did NOT want to go to a fabric shop but in the spirit of SWAP I had to – I was a reluctant  fabric shopper – those other fabrics followed me home – I was reluctant but I am so proud of myself for my restraint). Luckily it was still there when I went back and I bought 3 meters of it. Its  a stretch cotton sateen that was interesting to work with.

I cant say its been my best sewing experience ever. I found that the sateen had a strong needle memory and I couldn’t unpick the fabric without creating a visual disturbance. I quickly caught on though and started using wonder clips instead of pins where necessary. I also needed to use a walking foot to prevent it stretching out as I sewed. It also why I opted not to topsticth the button placket.

Because of the stretch nature of the fabric it is very comfortable. Pictures do not do this fabric justice. Its is very bright pink. As in incredibly in your face unapologetic pink. It makes me happy.

Yellow Maxi Skirtyellow20maxi20skirt

For the maxi skirt I used the skirt portion of the Anna dress. I love this pattern and have made it several times already. The fabric was hard to come by. I wanted a really bright sunshine yellow. I did something I haven’t done before – ordering loads of swatches. I must say that made me feel very grown up indeed. I eventually found the right colour and weight from an Ebay shop called (apologies in advance to any brexiters reading this) EuroFabrics. Its a very beautiful high quality stretchy crepe with viscose fabric that has a micro texture. It has a bit of give on the cross grain which makes for a very comfortable wear.

I sewed up the skirt but while checking fit I realised that I wanted pockets. I try to add pockets where I can in a way that doesn’t interfere too much with the design lines. Because this skirt is close fitting at the hip, in seam pockets would not have worked. So I decided to draft quasi-patch pockets that attach at the princess seams. I felt like this was the most sympathetic addition of pockets.

I still have the option of cutting out the thigh slit but as yet am undecided. I quite like it as is for now. Initially the plan was to add a narrow waistband but I didnt like after the initial basting – it made it even  more high waisted that I was envisioning. So it was Petersham ribbon to the rescue!!!  The only fly in the ointment , however is that I did think it needed lining but when I wore it for pictures – I could see my panty lines – as I grow older I get less keen on VPLs on my own self. I have since bought some lining to add which is an easy fix. I will only line the upper third of the skirt. The other option is to go commando when in this skirt and……. mmm……..again as I get older I am less keen on the whole going commando thing 🙂


SWAP2017 Granville Shirt and Anna Maxi skirt


So here we are reader, the first 2 of my 11 SWAP2017 blogged. Whats next? The orange skirt I think….undecided

Thanks so much for stopping my little corner of the interwebs. Until next time,

Happy sewing!

Peace and love,


Pattern Review Sewing Bee Round 1 & Sewaholic Granville

Hello all,

How are you doing? I am ok. Its been a little while since posting but I have been beavering away. First of all I entered the PR Sewing bee. Round 1 was a fitted blouse and well I  knew I had to make a Sewaholic Granville in paisley print cotton lawn. It did not take me long to make at all since my focus was on an outstanding finish and there was little by way of fancy details. I believe I just squeaked into Round 2 by the skin of my chin. The level and quality of makes was incredible and tbh I didn’t think I would get to Round 2. But somehow I did. Before I go on to talk about Round 2 here is my review :

Sewing Bee Round 1 – Fitted Blouse

Pattern or style used and how it fits the criteria:
I love the Sewaholic Granville shirt. I have made it before and spent a lot of time sorting out the fit but once I nailed it it was well worth all the time and frustration! So when I saw this competition I knew it had to be Granville for me. So Granville is a perfect criteria fit because..well…its awesome. Seriously though its designed for wovens. It has a button closure and a collar. The fantastic shaping is achieved by bust darts, a yoke and two princess seams at the back. The side seams also curve in towards the waist. This combo means it can really follow the body contours. It has set in sleeves.
And I made it using cotton lawn.
(I think I ticked all the boxes phew…..next step…)
Fabric Used-Material Content and Yardage:
The fabric is a deliciously gorgeous lush cotton lawn (100%) which I purchased at a local market.I bought 1.5m (sorry for the imperial guys I was raised on metric and have never been able to get my head round imperial). I saw the paisley print and it was love..sweet love at first sight. I can squeeze a Granville out of 1.4m by using a different layout to the suggested one. I have also traced out the pattern and reduced the seam allowances to 1/2″.
The fabric has good handle with a good amount of drape not too stiff and not too flowy either. But this babey can hold a crease like no other. It was such a pleasure sewing and ironing it.

Describe your closure:
The closure on the Granville is a simple button band of 1″ extension folded over an interfaced backing. The backing has a seam allowance to tuck under so as to encase raw edges. This is for both sides. I used lightweight interfacing because my fabric is so fine I didn’t want it to stiffen up too much. For the first time I used fray check on the button holes – it was a bit meh for me. It did make it easier to slice the buttonholes open though. Sewed regular buttonholes.

Describe the other components you used (e.g. buttons, collar, sleeve type, trim, pockets, contrast, etc):
For buttons I used some reclaimed buttons from an old Crew Clothing shirt of my hubby’s. I decided to sew them in with the navy so that there would be little contrast between the white buttons with the dark center. The shirt has a stand collar which was fun to sew up. The upper and under collar were interfaced using lightweight interfacing. I trimmed just under 1/8″ from the uninterfaced pieces to get the turn of cloth which produced a very neat collar I am incredibly ridiculously proud of. My collar points are as perfect as I can get them by using a technique I found on a shirt making blog.
I didn’t put pockets because I never use pockets in front of my boobies. Looking after 5 little people means I bend over A LOT and nothing stays in a shirt pocket.
For the cuffs I took a page out of my favourite RTW Uniqlo work shirt cuff and cut the corners to have a nice shape. I love it especially since it means no turning corner points.

Describe the fitting technique(s) you used to achieve shaping:
My fitting issues with the Granville were at the back. Its drafted for the pear shape body type. The front was fine and I didn’t need to do anything with the bust darts. There was a lot of pooling fabric at the back which I got rid of by pinning out a wedge along the center back. I pinned (actually hubby did cause I cant pin my own back Once I was happy with the back I had to do some maths to determine how much needed to be taken out at waist then dividing that equally among the 4 seams (2 side seams and 2 princess seams). Then it was a case of coming in 3/8″ at the waist and tapering to zero at underarm. Downward I reduced the flare of the shirt at the hem to have a more fitted snug the bum kind of look.

Indicate here that you included the photos required – Remember that the required 3 photos MUST be on a live model (although head may be omitted/obscured) and blog links are NOT allowed:
1. Front [Required]:yep!
2. Back [Required]: Roger that!
3. Inside detail [Required]: AB – so – Lu -Tely!
4. [Optional]: mmmm ok then
5. [Optional]:uh huh!
Describe what you like most about this blouse:
I love the way it goes with just about anything! it looks great tucked into a skirt for a more formal look or tucked with jeans for a casual weekend look. Its very comfortable. I can move my arms without restraint because of the yoke design feature. Its a versatile pattern.

Describe your biggest challenge in creating this blouse:
For this particular blouse the biggest challenge was sewing flat felled seams. I had not done completely flat felled seams before and I am very pleased with this outcome. I even did them on the armholes! This is a set in sleeve so it had all the gathering at the sleeve cap to contend with. I trimmed the sleeve side and flat felled over the sleeve ( hope that make sense). The tailors ham came in really handy here because of the curve on the armhole. I probably should have Googled a tutorial but I was in such a good groove making this that I didn’t and just went with the flow. It wasn’t all smooth sailing – I unpicked the first armhole twice before nailing it. I doubt that I will ever make a set in sleeve without flat felled seams again – they are so neat and professional looking. Worth all the hassle.

What other information would you like to share about this blouse and your process?

I thoroughly enjoyed making this shirt. My focus was on creating a shirt that was as neat on the inside as the outside. I feel like I achieved that and that makes me very happy ;_)

And some picturesGranville 4 Granville 5 Granville Shirt Details interior and exterior Granville Sewaholic Granville 1 Sewaholic Granville 2 Sewaholic Granville 3 Sewaholic Granville

For Round 2 In this round you will add surface embellishments to existing fabric to make a piece of fabric (or fabrics) something truly unique. You will then make a garment out of the fabric(s) that you embellished. Because the embellishment process may take additional time, participants will have TEN days for this round.

Mmmm yeah! I was like WTF!!! Anyho spent all day feeling nonplussed by the challenge because I couldn’t think of what to do aside from dyeing fabric which seems very boring…I am looking into embroidery now. I learnt how to do embroidery a long time ago when I was around 9yrs old at school. I happened to speak with my mum telling her about the challenge when she reminded that I used to be so good at embroidery that I got a 1st in show at the county show a couple of years running. Something I had relegated to the dustbins of my memory for some reason. So the short of it is : I am exploring embroidery and will see where that takes me. I may not feel very excited about this challenge but, by golly I will give it my best shot!

On to other mundane things I have had to deal with sewing wise: this happened yesterday and I was not impressed (that’s putting it mildly):
2015-08-29 21.31.40

I had been wearing it all day and this happened around 6pm in the evening. Luckily I was back home when it happened. Cant be bothered to reinstall an invisible zipper . It will either be a lapped zip or an exposed zip. Jury’s still out on that one. Have you had a wardrobe malfunction too? Has said malfunction been fixed? I really like this skirt and I really ought to fix it as soon as possible but….there are so many things to sew!!! Argh!!! Why did nobody tell me the life of a sewcialist would be so filled with mind boggling dilemmas!

Rant over. Thanks for listening 🙂

….and  for stopping by this little corner of the interwebs.