Tag Archives: free pattern

Finished: Colette Patterns Madeleine Bloomers

5 Sep

The weekend before lastI had a sewing weekend, and it was AMAZING. I was meant to be away in the Peak District climbing for the weekend, but I have a horrible sinus infection, and was generally just feeling wiped out and really not up for it. Marcus still went up, so I had the weekend at home by myself to get some sewing done. I literally did nothing but sew, I didn’t even get dressed properly all weekend, just sat around in my pyjamas sewing :)

Now, I have to admit, despite having 2 whole days of little but sewing, I did not get as much done as I’d hoped. I didn’t for instance, put darts in the back of my scout tee, like I promised myself I would, or hem the dress that has been finished other than the hem for about 2 weeks now. I do have reasons/excuses for both of these, but really, they’ve kind of turned into sewing chores that I keep putting off, which is silly, because they’re both really quick jobs, and once I’ve done them, I’ll have 2 lovely new pieces of clothing to wear!

Colette Patterns Madeleine Bloomers

Oops, sorry for all the creases, they’ve been crumpled up in a pile at the end of my bed for a few days…

But onto what I did achieve! I’d been meaning to make Colette Patterns’ Madeleine Bloomers for a while now – it’s a free PDF download, and they look really cute. I even had some perfect fabric picked out, which is some of the stuff I got in my freecycle stash, but I just hadn’t had time to make them. Although I have a long list of items I want to make, I chose these for Saturday because I really wanted something that I knew I could FINISH. I haven’t finished an item of clothing (that I’m happy with, my Scout tee doesn’t count because it needs alterations!) since my Bombshell swimsuit, and that was getting me down a bit. I have all these plans, and haven’t managed to bring any of them to fruition. And meanwhile, the list of things I want to make is getting longer.


These took me longer to make than I thought they would (although that was only based on a friend saying that she’d made them in 2.5 hours), but I think that was because a) I was watching episodes of criminal minds in the background while I sewed (I know I’d probably sew quicker if I didn’t watch TV shows at the same time, but this way I get to enjoy doing two things I like!) b) I fell out with my overlocker, and spent quite a bit of time faffing around with her trying to get her to like me again – I finally realised on Monday that the threads weren’t through the tension discs properly, so now all is good and we’ve made up and c) Our (pretty small) dining table is the only place I have to cut out, lay out to pin, use my sewing machine, and use my overlocker, so I spent a lot of my time shifting everything around each time I needed to do a different job! Oh to have a sewing room!

Colette patterns Madeleine bloomers

Ha, sorry for the ironing board and general mess in the picture. I wasn’t going to stand outside in the car park to take these ones though!


Yeah, these photos aren’t the best are they?! Took me ages to take any, and then the first set were all blurry and I had to re-do them…I didn’t have a lot of patience for it!

Anyway, they are done, and I love them! I pretty much lived in them for the rest of the weekend once I’d finished them.

I overlocked all the seam allowances to finish them. I though about doing french seams on the side, but wasn’t sure how they would work with slightly curved seams. I think it’d be fine though, I might try that next time. I also had problems pinning my side edges together initially, I thought I must have cut them out wrong as they didn’t seem to match up, but then I realised I needed to ease them slightly, and it worked fine :)

Cute little pleats and bow :)

Cute little pleats and bow :)

I made them up in size small. My measurements actually fell halfway between small and medium, but given they’re quite loose fitting, and the waist is elasticated, I figure small would work just fine. We all know I’m not a fan of the loose clothes! They turned out fine in this size. They make great bumming round the house shorts, or pyjama shorts, and are really comfy! And free! What more could you want? I think these probably cost me less than 50p in total – free pattern, free fabric, 10p/m elastic from Walthamstow and cheap ribbon from a shop that was closing down – win!

And oh yeah, I totally had most of my hair cut off! Like 9 inches!! I was feeling spontaneous and let my hairdresser (who is a Lebanese hairdresser on Cowley Road and great and really reasonably priced!) get carried away! This is absolutely not what I had in mind when I went in, but I really like it!


All gone! And I never realised my hair was so wavy at the back!

While we’re talking about Cowley Road…I mentioned in post on fabric shopping that I saw a new yarn shop on Cowley road, but they were closed when I was there. Well I was down that way last Tuesday evening, dropping off my spare sewing machine to a friend who wanted to borrow it, and I saw they were open. So I popped in to have a look, and the place was rammed, with a knitting group! Including lurker of sewing blogs (and fellow attendee on my last course) Vairë! The shop is called The Fibreworks, and they have a knitting group in the shop every Tuesday evening from 6-8pm (and another one at some earlier time during the week) for anyone to go along to. I’ve been wanting to do a bit more knitting again, so I’m definitely going to head down there soon! I also picked up a few lovely buttons while I was in there. As a sewer, I feel like I have a distinct lack of buttons, so I felt it was time to remedy this :) I got a few of matching sets of varying numbers, plus a few odd ones, just because they were too cute to pass up!

Vintage buttons


The giraffe dress (aka a very easy, quick, pattern-free, tank top dress)

4 Aug

I have had very little sewing time recently, much to my disappointment. I’d hoped to get some done last weekend – the first free weekend I’d had in about a month – and I had great plans, but ran out of time with all the other things that needed to be done. We did do a huge clean/tidy/sort out of the flat on Sunday though, and I rearranged my sewing area slightly, so I can get to everything a bit more easily, which is great. By sewing area, I mean the end of our living room, with the dining table, that we used to eat dinner at occasionally…ahem…

I did however manage to make my giraffe dress last week! I’d been trying to decide what to do with my lovely giraffe fabric from Walthamstow, and then I saw this post on ShanniLoves about making a tank top dress. I thought that would be perfect, as a whole dress of giraffes might be a bit full on, and I hand’t yet figured out what else to do with it. I didn’t have any spare tank tops unfortunately, but while I was down in Cardiff for a hen do I hit Primark and picked up a couple (I have plans for more than one of these dresses!).

Easy dress supplies

This really is a really easy, really quick dress to make. I would have got it all done in one evening (about 3 hours, I hate commuting!) if it hadn’t been for the fact that a couple of bits went wrong.

I won’t go into the full details of how to do it, as there are already great tutorials on A Small Snippet and Talk2TheTrees, but essentially it’s a case of:

1. Buy a cheap tank top. Mine was £2.50 from Primark.

2. Choose your fabric and cut a piece that wraps around your waist about 1.5 times (more will give you a slightly fuller skirt, less a slightly closer fit), and as long as you want it to be, measuring from about your high waist point (or basically whatever height you want the skirt and top to be joined at) down to wherever you want it to be, plus a bit for seam allowances. I went for a knee length dress, but this also works well as a maxi dress.

Easy dress supplies


3. Cut off your tank top at the point at which you want the top and skirt to join (allowing a bit extra for seam allowance). Remember though (as I didn’t) that whereas the back of the top will go straight down your back, the front has to go around your bust, so if you just mark one point, take the top off and slice straight across (ass I did!), the seam will end up sitting higher at the front. I ended up just marking a couple of points at what I thought were vaguely level, and then joining them up to use as a new seam position.

tank top dress

This was after my first cut, before realising my mistake.

4. Sew up the side of your rectangle of skirt material, so that you have a big tube.

5. Gather the top edge of the skirt using your preferred method. I went with the suggestion from the tutorial on A Small Snippet and used elastic thread in the bobbin. I knew that if I didn’t, then I’d struggle to get the dress over my waist or bust. Also, I’d just been to a John Lewis, so had managed to get some. If I hadn’t, I probably would have tried it without, and regretted it when I couldn’t get it on! I’ve never used elastic thread before, but I was really pleased with how easy it was to use. I went with the guidance of winding the thread with the bobbin winder, as I have a top-loading bobbin on my machine.

gathering with elastic thread

6. Once the skirt is gathered, pin it to the top, easing them round so that the gathers are evenly distributed. Then sew the two together.

7. Try your dress on, decide on the final length of it, and finish the hem. Because of the kind of fabric I was using (not sure what it is, something polyester-y I think), and the fact that I was lazy and wanted it done quickly, I used the rolled hem on my overlocker to finish off the bottom of the skirt, which worked BEAUTIFULLY. Little bit in love with my overlocker right now. This fabric tears straight really easily, so I just marked where I wanted it, tore the excess off all the way round, and ran it through the overlocker.

tank top dress

Now the issues that I ran into…

When I first sewed the gathered skirt piece onto the tank top, I realised that the top obviously hadn’t been lying quite flat on the sewing machine, and I had caught up an extra bit of the top in the stitching. I didn’t really want to have to take it all out and start again, so I tried just removing the stitching from that area, and doing that bit again. This worked fine, except when I tried it on again the next evening, I noticed a couple of things:

1. I’d actually caught the top up in the stitching at a couple of other points as well.

2. The waistline of the dress wasn’t level all the way round – it was sitting quite a bit lower at the back. I’d forgotten about my boobs.

So much for not re-doing the whole thing. Even though I knew I’d probably be wearing a wide belt over the seam (the gathering makes it a little pouffy and not overly flattering on its own), I’d like the option of not having to, so I ripped it all out and essentially started again! You can see in the photo below how much I ended up moving the skirt up on the back compared to the front.

New seam allowance at back

New seam allowance at back

New seam allowance at front

New seam allowance at front

End result – I really like the dress, although it does definitely look better with a belt. The fabric is a little bit clingy/static-y, so I might need to try and put a lining in, or make a slip to wear with it, to stop it clinging to my legs as I walk. It is a lovely summer dress, and I’m definitely going to be making more. The fabric and top combined cost me a grand total of £3.30 as well! And I still have almost 2.5m of giraffes to decide what to do with. Any ideas?

Anyway, enough talking, here are some pretty pictures.

tank top dress

Complete with yawning OzzieDog. And tired Kelly. Sorry, these were taken this morning, after my friend’s wedding last night, and I’m a little worse for wear. And also full of lurgy :(

tank top dress

And a couple without the belt – it looks fine from the back, but don’t like the fact that it makes me look even shorter than I actually am from the front.

tank top dress

tank top dress
I apologise – it has taken me over a week from making it to get round to taking photos , despite the fact that I’ve worn it 4 times! Either Marcus (my cameraman) was busy when I was free, or the sun disappeared and it started chucking down so outside photos were out. As a result, it’s also been a while since I’ve updated the blog, so apologies for that too! I have a few posts in the pipeline, and am hoping (although I’m not sure it’s going to happen!) to try and get a bit more sewing in this week, so hopefully I’ll have some more makes to show you soon.

chinelo bally

Dressmaker| Author| Blogger| Freehand cutter


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