Tamzin Dress by ByHandLondon

Image from ByHandLondon.com

I had to buy the Tamzin Dress by ByHandLondon as soon as it was released. There are so many beautiful version popping up on my Instagram already! Tamzin features a square neckline, princess seams, two different waist tie options, full 3/4 length sleeves and a gathered skirt – (both with tucks). There are 2 cup options (B and D) + generous sizing.

I went for the tunic length top as I felt the dress would drown me with the big sleeves and big skirt. I simply made the skirt shorter.

My favourite feature of Tamzin is definitely the square neckline with an external facing – perfect for adding hand embroidery detail. I had some beautiful linen viscose mix in my stash (from Stitchy Bee) and it was perfect for this pattern. I marked the facing on my fabric, drawn my pattern and used the chain stitch to make the pattern really pop. It’s quicker and much easier than satin stitch (that’s why I picked it for the Christmas Robin pattern)

Close up of the square neckline of Tamzin dress

The sleeves look beautiful on the photos but in reality they would catch every door handle so I added a simple cuff. I took about 4cm in the sleeve volume asvery big sleeves completely drown me and instead of looking “on trend” I end up looking like a fashion victim.

Tamzin dress with puffy sleeves  and square neckline

There are 2 options for ties – thinner ones which get sewn in to the side seams and wider ones which are sewn into the prince seams (I went for the latter).

The back of the dress featuring a bow.


I’m absolutely in love with this make. It fits me well without being too tight or too baggy – the ties help with the shaping and the B cup princess seams work really well for me. I can definitely recommend this pattern!

I’m just finishing the Sicily Slip Dress (by Masin), very different style for me. I don’t have many exciting me made pieces for the colder months so I’m actually making an effort this year to look amazing..you know for working from home 🙂

I hope you’re all keeping safe and well.

Monika x

Morgan Jeans or Ginger Jeans? Which one is better?

I’ve made the Ginger Jeans by Closet Core (previously Closet Case Patterns) 5 times and as much as I love that pattern I was keen to add a nice pair of boyfriend jeans to my wardrobe.

I have literally just finished the Morgans so it’s a good time to compare these two patterns and see what the main differences are.

Both of these patterns are pretty “old” with plenty of positive reviews so I won’t go into too many details and keep it brief.

Let’s talk about the fit. The Ginger Jeans are skinny with high waist and low + mid-rise options, designed for stretch denim. Morgans are mid-rise, slim leg cut, slightly slouchier fit, designed for non-stretch denim. You can see the difference in the pictures below (ignore the sleepy face on the left).

Zip vs buttons

I really love the button fly on Morgans, I’m a convert! I don’t think I want a zip in my jeans ever again. The Gingers are designed with a zip but you could easily replace it with the button fly.


Gingers also have an option for pocket stays. Not that comfy but it does keep your tummy in. Morgans don’t have this option but it could be easily done by extending the pocket linings.

I think the pockets are the hardest bit because I spend way too much time trying to come up with something original and always end up doing the same old – just topstitching and nothing else. This time I actually went for something different and added some hand embroidery. Simple triangles in DMC variegated thread, I’m so happy with the way they turned out!

In therms of constructions, they are both very easy to put together. I made Gingers after just 1 year of learning to sew. They weren’t perfect but they were wearable. My second pair was my favourite and I wore them to death..until the zip broke (I used a cheap zip, please spend extra £1 and get a proper brand). The Closet Core Patterns have fantastic sewalongs and fitting tips.

These patterns might cost more than the Big 4 but the instructions and attention to detail is absolutely worth every penny, no regrets here. If you haven’t made jeans before, you can definitely do it. If you’re not sure which pattern to choose, and like the look of both, I would suggest to go for the Gingers. You’ll be working with stretch denim and it’s much more forgiving when it comes to fitting. You will also have the option of high waist or mid-rise so perhaps it’s a bit more versatile.

Right now I’m preparing Christmas embroidery kits, making face masks and hoping to finish the new Tamsin dress by BHL. Have you seen it? It’s gorgeous!

Thank you for reading and I hope you try to make jeans if it’s something you haven’t done before and need some new ones 🙂

Monika x

Simplicity 8957 Trousers Review

Image of pattern envelope from Simplicity.com

Fabric used: Poly Viscose Tartan Suiting Dress in Brown

How is the sizing? The pattern comes in sizes 8-22.

How clear are the instructions? Good, no construction issues.

Is it worth buying? When it’s on a sale, yes 🙂 I think the fit is a bit strange but then I never fit the standard sizing so it might the case of “sorry, it’s not you, it’s me”.

The process

This year I’m on a mission to add more trousers and shorts to my wardrobe. After making the Montauk trousers, Ginger jeans and Jenny overalls I thought this Simplicity 8957 trousers pattern would be a good addition to my wardrobe.

I checked the finished measurements to pick my size. After basting them together and trying them on I nearly cried sewing tears. Big loose trouser leg, baggy front/crotch and too tight around my butt. What? How? Why?

I reduced the seam allowance at the back and sides and that was enough to fix my “hungry bum” issue. I pinned the leg sides and kept fiddling with the them until I was happy with the fit. To fix the baggy front I increased the seam allowance around the upper thigh area and it did the job.

I thought the instructions were good but for the fly front zipper I used my trusted tutorial by Close Case Patterns (opens in new tab). My welt pockets at the back are for show only. I never use back pockets so I didn’t bother making them functional.

Back view of simplicity 8957 trousers, featuring faux welt pockets. Wearing black Adrienne blouse with gathered sleves

Overall, I feel that all my amateurish fitting efforts were worth it. I’m happy with the way they look and feel, they are extremely comfortable too, which is amazing since the fabric isn’t stretchy at all. This pattern cost me a fiver so I’m not going to complain too much as it gave me a good starting point to create something that fits me. RTW would never fit me in woven fabric without any stretch.

I think these trousers can be worn with pretty much anything and I’m looking forward to wearing them with chunky cardigans and jumpers in the autumn.

I think they look great with another new make – the Adrienne blouse by Friday Pattern Company. It was one of the quickest makes ever and I will definitely sew it again. The front and back bodice pieces are the same, so cutting out is very quick. Just what I needed after my fitting nightmare and unpicking.

I really need to look into proper fitting techniques or even better, to create a block? I’ve just purchased the Gabi bodice block pattern, let’s see how that goes first 🙂

Monika x

Monika wearing Simplicity 8957 trousers in brown viscose and white T-shirt, White converse trainers.
Monika wearing Simplicity 8957 trousers and Adrienne blouse, standing in the garden, holding black handbag.
Monika standing in the kitchen wearing Simplicity 8957 trousers with black Adrienne blouse.

Morningside Shirt by FrenchNavy Patterns

Fabric used: embroidered border polycotton

How is the sizing? Relaxed fit with very generous positive ease. Pattern comes in sizes XXS-XXL.

How clear are the instructions? Very good, I’m impressed!

Is it worth buying? Absolutely! There are 2 different styles and lengths (My picture only shows option B). It’s a great price for an indie pattern too.

As soon as the pattern was released, I rushed to buy it. Now, almost 2 years later, I finally made it! I’m terrible for hoarding lots of patterns and getting distracted, anyone else can relate?

I had a lovely stripy embroidered fabric in my stash and thought it was perfect for some statement sleeves. My sleeves are a combination of View A with the flounce from View B.

I would the say the shirt comes together pretty quickly because there are no set-in sleeves to fight with. However, I have never done this type of placket before and instead of sewing it during the day I had to carry on and sew it at night. It wouldn’t be much of a problem if I wasn’t tired and doing something completely new to me. I was very inaccurate in my marking and cutting and it shows. I definitely wanted to wear it so I masked the evidence with a flower. Not the first time I masked a bodge job with flowers.

The funny thing is that despite it being rather imperfect, I really love wearing it. It’s comfy and the sleeves aren’t too long to get caught in all the door handles.

I wore my new Ginger jeans (Closet Case Patterns) for the pictures, they are so comfortable too! I don’t think the world needs another Gingers review but I have the Morgan jeans pattern ready to go so maybe I can do a comparison? Let me know if that would be useful.

Back to Mornigside shirt – it’s a great pattern with excellent instructions and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a boxy shirt/dress.

Monika x

PS: if you’re not familiar with FrenchNavy Patterns you can find them here (not a sponsored or affiliate link, I just like to give a shout out to small businesses 🙂

Thread painting – Attempt # 2

Lola – a bit of a grump

In one of my previous posts I was talking about my first attempt at needle painting, or thread painting if you like. I enjoyed the process and wanted to do it again and hopefully better.

I drew my sister’s cat on a cotton fabric and this time I used viscose “silk” threads. They are very shiny and silky smooth. I was hoping this would help me in making the picture more realistic.

I took this project with me when we went camping last year. It was only a 3 day stay but I made a start.

It was meant to be a Christmas present but I just couldn’t finish it. I was stuck around the nose area and it was taking forever. I was using only 1 strand for most of the time, really trying to make the fur look more realistic.

I didn’t keep a track of how many hours I spent on this. Definitely more than 20, despite it being so small. Some months I’d make a good progress, some months I’d leave it and not touch it at all. I admire people who do animal portraits for living, not just their talent but also the focus. It gets boring pretty quickly with the same 3-4 colours and repetitive stitches.

What’s scarier, the front or the back?

Simple blanket stitch to secure the backing fabric

I took a picture of the back, what a strange mess. I covered it up with white cotton as I didn’t have enough felt left and actually I think the thinner fabric works much better! I gave it to my sister for her birthday, it really made her laugh. I think I captured Lola’s soul really well, such an angel with those innocent eyes. To be fair, she doesn’t always sport this scary expression.

I’m not sure what to try next, perhaps upgrading my flower embroideries? Watch this space.. In the meantime, back to my sewing machine!

Monika x

She is cute really

MÉLILOT SHIRT by Deer and Doe

Fabric used: Viscose, cotton lawn.

How is the sizing? The fit is relaxed with shaping around the waist. The pattern comes in sizes 34 – 52 (EU) in PDF, 34-46 printed. 

How clear are the instructions? Very good.

Is it worth buying? I can highly recommend this pattern, it’s a classic! The price isn’t ridiculous either, €11.

This pattern is a few years old but I can’t see how it would ever go out of style. It’s a classic shirt with a fresh update. There is so much I like about it – the rounded collar, the drop shoulder which makes the sleeve insertion quick and easy, the curved hem, the overall shape… Yes, I’m a fan.

My first version was in cotton lawn and it worked really well. This is definitely one of my most worn items.

Look at this happy soul, she loves her shirt

Deep in thought or grumpy?

I cut a size smaller than the size based on body measurements. I always check the finished garment measurements and go from there. In something like cotton lawn I wouldn’t want too much ease, however for my second version, in viscose, I cut the actual size listed for my body measurement.

The construction is straight forward. If you never made a shirt before, this would be a great pattern to start with as there are no “traditional” sleeves to insert. If you’re unsure about tackling the full collar, you can make View B which has just the collar stand.

Sienna’s jumpsuit is Simplicity 8146 which comes in adult,child and a doll size

Pockets = happiness

There lots of lovely versions of this pattern on Instagram, it looks good on everyone! I can highly recommend it.

Monika x

PS: If you are worried about sewing collars, here is a great blog post on how to tackle them “10 tips and tricks”.

Lola Blouse by FibreMood

[This pattern was gifted. All views are my honest opinions]

Fabric used: Old cotton tablecloth. Recommended fabrics are light cotton, linen and chambray.

How is the sizing? It’s fairly relaxed with around 8cm ease at the bust. Make sure you look at the finished garment measurements to pick the size that will work for you. The pattern comes in sizes 32 – 58 (EU)   0 – 26 (US)   4 – 30 (UK) 

How clear are the instructions? Pretty clear and better than Burda magazine. Sorry Burda.

Is it worth buying? The front is pretty but I’ve seen similar blouses before. However, as soon as I saw the back I had to have it. I would have bought it, especially since the price is only €7.50. You know I’m stingy and I want cheap patterns 🙂

The process

If you look at the sample above, it looks fairly fitted. However, if you cut the size based on your body measurements I think it would be quite loose. So watch out for that and think how much ease you want (my blouse has 5cm in bust area). There are bust darts to give it some shaping.

My fabric choice was an old stained tablecloth. I knew the frills and some embroidery would save it from the landfill. The off-cuts went into kids’ poufs I made earlier this year so it’s a 0 waste project, yay!

The front of the blouse is pretty straight forward. The back is more labour intensive.

You can see from my pictures below that there is quite a bit going on at the back. You have the flounce, the ties and elastic to insert. Is it difficult? No, just a bit fiddly. Each step is clearly explained and illustrated. The pattern is classified as “intermediate” but I would recommend it to any adventurous beginner.


I only ever sew patterns that I love the look of and this one certainly didn’t disappoint. I quite fancy making this again, probably with sleeves. I’m thinking blue chambray with red poppies embroidery. I recommend this pattern to sewists of all levels.

Monika x

PS: My friend Sarah (@sewsarahsmith) has a great blog post on FibreMood patterns in general, I can recommend a read here.

White sleeveless blouse with a flounce and embroidery detail.

Kelly Anorak by Closet Case Patterns Review

Fabric used:  Showerproof Lady McElroy twill, brushed viscose and satin

How is the sizing? The fit is excellent, just the right amount of ease. The pattern comes in sizes 0-20.

How clear are the instructions?  Very clear.

Is it worth buying? This is the most professional looking anorak pattern out there with tons of details. That makes it worth having but it’s a bit pricey. $16 for PDF + $8 for the lining expansion pack. We can’t have it all.

I went for View A, the hood is essential in this rainy part of the world. I had the pattern printed and good job I did because you will cut about 1000000 pattern pieces and then you’ll have to interface them. I must confess I got bored with it after 2 weeks. It took me about 5 months to pick it up again and finish it. Please don’t judge me on this.

The first most challenging part was the gusseted pockets. I know, I didn’t expect a pocket to be difficult either. I sew at night so that doesn’t help but the construction seems to have a lot of steps. Apart from that, the construction of the outer shell and lining was straight forward, not much head scratching to report.

When it was time to tackle the zipper I realised I made a mistake when I was cutting out the front bands – my left and right pieces were swapped. They are different in shape and I didn’t have any fabric left so I had to work with what I had. Every little brain cell was put to work as I stared at the instructions trying to insert the zipper, figuring out how to mirror it.

Terrible photo quality – late night sewing to blame

As I was getting close to the finishing line I kept psyching myself up for the snaps. Imagine finishing your coat and then you ruin it with some dodgy snaps installation!

I took this picture as an evidence I made this coat in case I ruined it at the last step, that’s how worried I was…I’m actually laughing as I’m writing this – the level of pathetic is off the charts.

I should mention that the online sewalong on CCP website is fantastic. It’s definitely worth a quick visit to help you decide if you can tackle this project. I honestly think the level of patience is more important than the level of sewing experience with this pattern.

As much as my sanity was tested, this is my most favourite make of all times. I moan about the high price of this pattern but the quality of drafting and all the small details are worth the investment.

Definitely a proud sewing moment.

Monika x

Look how happy we are in our me-made coats

Jenny Overalls by Closet Case Patterns Review

Fabric used:
 I wish I knew what it is, some mysterious blend I bought in Spain 2019.

How is the sizing? I went with the recommended size based on my hip measurements only. I didn’t grade down for my waist or chest because I wanted the dungarees to be a bit more loose fitting. The pattern comes in size 0-20.

How clear are the instructions? Excellent as always with CCP.

Is it worth buying? I must confess it did hurt paying $16 for a PDF…but I got over once I started sewing. This is a pattern I will make over and over and the quality of drafting is worth it.

I went for the short dungarees version, view B. This pattern is designed to be quite fitted. I wanted a comfy pair of dungarees so instead of my usual grading in between the sizes I went with my hip measurement and cut size 12 (instead of grading from 8 to 12). This was enough to give my plenty of breathing space, although I wish I made the bib a bit smaller.

The construction was straight forward, no head scratching involved. There is an option for 1 or 2 side zips, depending on how much wiggle room you need. The instructions clearly explain how to tackle this. You can swap the zip for buttons, if you prefer. I was tempted to do that but with the stripes I thought I’d better keep it clean.

I like the slanted pockets so much I celebrated them with a bit of piping. I’m trying not to rush my projects as I always regret sloppy finish. I’m constantly thinking about the next project I’m going to make and sometimes the finish shows that.

Overall, I’m very happy with this pattern, it didn’t disappoint. There are simpler and cheaper patterns for dungarees out there but Closet Case always works for me. I also think that this is drafted to be more grown-up than some other patterns I’ve seen, not that my fabric choice reflects that 🙂

My next version will be View A in denim and I quite like the look of the trousers too. Watch this space.

Monika x

The Family Cross Stitch Kit (by Dimensions)

Pixelised version of our family

When we go on holidays or even a short break, I like to take some embroidery with me. I don’t normally buy embroidery kits but when I saw this I had to buy it.

It costs me £17 in 2018 and it came with 8″ wood hoop, needle, threads and instructions including chart with 32 different figures and an alphabet. I bought it from Past-impressions.co.uk but it’s sold out. I’ve just done a quick search on Google and it’s available on sewessential.co.uk

This is NOT a sponsored post, just a genuinely happy customer and I thought it might inspire someone.

If you like the idea of creating family version as a gift or just for yourself, but can’t/down’t want to buy a kit, head to Pinterest. The link will take you to the page with free patterns and ideas.

I hope you like the idea of turning family portraits into fun characters and give it a go!

Monika x