Tag Archives: Oxford

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


Sewing courses: what have I learnt?

16 Aug

Just before I went on holiday, I had the last session of the dressmaking course that I’ve been doing (ok, I realise that was a while ago now, but this was the blog post I forgot to send to myself at home before I went away!). I’ve now done two sewing courses – a beginners’ one which I did last year, and the dressmaking one that I’ve just completed.

I started my sewing adventure by completing a beginners’ sewing course run locally. I chose this particular course for a couple of reasons – it was for complete beginners, no sewing experience was needed, and it was involved making a tote bag and a zip up make up bag which, at the time, I was more interested in than making clothes (how things change!). There was also a course starting fairly soon which was great, as I couldn’t wait to get started! The course was six 2-hour sessions, run on Thursday evenings and during that time, we covered basics from how to set up our machine, do various different things with it, and make the two items. We also covered how to hem trousers/skirts (although not actually putting that into practice myself at the time, I’m not sure I remember exactly how to do it). The first thing we made was a reversible tote bag. Man, curtain weight fabric is hard work to iron!

sewing tote bag

sewing tote bag

We were provided a PDF document in advance of the course, which included all the instructions for everything we were going to make, and the other skills we would learn and also included a basic kit list, as well as what we would need for each item, so that we could buy it in advance. The second item we made was a zip up make up bag (although mine currently holds sewing accessories!), which is a useful item to know how to sew, as well as getting some practice putting a zip in.

sewing make up bag

sewing make up bag

My main reason for doing the course was to give me some confidence, and give me the kick I needed to actually complete some projects and really get into sewing. I’m sure I could have learnt a lot of the things we did by looking up instructions and tutorials online, although it was helpful to have someone there who could tell you where you’d gone wrong, but it was just *getting started* and knowing where to start that the course really helped with.

The classes were really structured, as we were all working on the same items, so we’d all sit round the table with our machines and work on the same sort of thing, or the teacher would go over stuff with us. I found this format really helpful because, as a beginner, I needed the structure of being told exactly what to do.

The dressmaking course that I’ve just done has been a completely different format. This was a council run course (and my word does their website needs some improvement!), the same one which the colleague who inspired me to start sewing had done. The teacher who ran my beginners’ course also ran dressmaking courses, but they were shorter than the council one (5 weeks as opposed to 10 or 20), and worked out more expensive per session. Because of the shorter length, there was also only really time to make a skirt, whereas on the council one, you could choose what you wanted to make (I really wanted to make a dress!). One of the girls from my first course signed up for this one, so I decided to go to that one along with her.

In theory this course was a beginners’ dressmaking one, but there were also some people who had been on a previous round of this course, and come back for more. So it was a bit mixed ability in the class, but as we were all working on our own things, this really didn’t matter. For the first couple of weeks the teacher provided more guidance to those of us who were just starting out – how to lay out our pattern pieces on the fabric and cut them out etc, but after that, as we all progressed at different speeds and were working on different things, we generally all got on with our own pieces and she would come round and help each of us in turn. Because we were all making different things, and were at different levels, it wasn’t so structured. I’m actually glad that I did the beginners’ one first, as I think I might have found this one a bit daunting if I’d come in knowing absolutely nothing. It was really great to learn all the basics in a class where no one else knew any of them either!

simplicity 1803

Again, I think the main benefits of the course for me were confidence, and motivation. It was helpful to have somewhere there to guide me a bit when laying out my pattern pieces and cutting into my fabric for the first time. Not to mention that there were actually tables big enough to lay everything out on, which was a massive help! Because we had a slot each week, it meant that I always had at least a couple of hours of sewing time each week (although as time went on, I found myself less inclined to sew in the class, as I had everything set up at home and it was hassle to lug it all around! I did use the time for laying out and cutting out a couple of other projects though!), but it also meant that I was motivated to do something at home each week, so that I had something to show in the next class. During the 10 weeks (which actually only up being 9 sessions because our teacher couldn’t make one, and the council don’t let her add another one onto the end (wtf?!), they just give us a refund for one session), I made my dress above, and almost finished my swimsuit as well.

I’d definitely consider doing other courses in the future, particularly around specific skills – pattern fitting or drafting etc. If you’re just starting out with sewing and thinking about doing one, I’d say go for it! It’s a great way to kick start your sewing!

chinelo bally

Dressmaker| Author| Blogger| Freehand cutter


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