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New From Old : Linen Summer Dress

A couple of years ago I made this self-drafted linen dress and wore it quite a lot that year.  This year, however, I’ve always chosen something else ahead of it in the wardrobe so, when I decided to make a short, sleeveless Summer dress in an attempt to stay cool, I thought I’d cut it up and re-use the fabric as I still love the colour.

pink linen dress

I’ve used this New look pattern before when I adapted it to make a white triple-layered dress, also from linen, as in view B on the pattern envelope below.

This time, I chose view D.

new look

Most of the time was taken up unpicking the old dress, ironing the fabric and cutting out the new pieces, after which the simple shift dress came together quickly.


I know it was supposed to be a simple shift dress, but it was a little too simple for my liking so I tried out this bit of sequinned trim around the neckline.


Much better and still no too fancy for a day dress.


I added a couple of long darts in the back through the waistline to give the dress a bit more of a shape.



Although I initially hadn’t planned on re-using the pockets, I do like pockets and, as it’s a casual dress, decided to go ahead and stitch them on.





I used French seams throughout and simply overlocked and turned the hem, armholes and neck edge.


Bust darts stop it being too boxy, too.


I had to join two short lengths of trim and there was just enough to do the front neckline only. Spot the join if you can!!


Hubby’s away on business so I had to resort to mirror selfies again I’m afraid.


So far this Summer it’s been hovering around 30°C for at least a few weeks which us poor Brits are simply not used to and, as such, the most I’ve worn is a pair of knickers whilst at home.

Luckily for the Postman, I now have a piece of clothing that I can bear to wear:)


Vogue 1496 Linen ‘Cocoon’ Dress

This is a make from way back in May that has been so useful and worn so much that I just had to get around to doing a blog post about it.

There’s nothing particularly special about the pattern, other than the fact that it is a Vogue original which has been my favourite pattern brand since the Eighties.

I think we can agree that the shape does nothing for the model’s slim physique on the front of the pattern envelope but, on the contrary, I could envisage it working well for my 5’2″ size 14 figure.

The ‘cocoon’ shape has rather a daring low neckline, short sleeves and the length falls to the knee – perfect to show off my best bits (boobs, arms and legs) and skim over my non-existent waistline.

It also features pockets in the side seams, which are a must for me.

I went to a bricks-and-mortar shop to buy my fabric, and chose this linen with a large floral design from Hanson’s in Sturminster Newton.

A quick make, I sewed it up in no time in anticipation of a long, hot Summer (ha, ha!)

I do love hand-worthy pockets.

No bra needed because the pattern is busy enough to distract the eye from any potential embarrassment – perfect for our up-coming foreign holidays where it would be far too hot to wear a bra.

The armholes were an interesting design.

No waist-hugging meant it promised to be the perfect outfit for a meal with plenty of space to accommodate a full belly!

Yep, overall, I’m pretty pleased with how it looks on me.

It certainly has proved to be a worthwhile make as I’ve worn it lots over the Summer – and I mean LOTS.

Here it is at Desert Springs in Spain in May.

Back home in England it has regularly been a comfortable outfit for meals out.

Another holiday in Spain saw it worn even more as the temperatures soared in July.

Paris in August – I’m definitely getting my money’s worth out of this one!

There was even enough left over fabric to make half a dozen little fabric storage pots to donate to the school Summer fair.

Having been away for most of the school holidays, not much (ie. none) sewing got done and I’m looking forward to getting back to the sewing machine again.

 Sewing 100+ name tags into school uniform doesn’t count, does it?!


Royal Ascot Ladies’ Day – The Fashions

So, our day started well – six of us met at Templecombe station, cracked open the champagne on the platform and caught the 9.45 to Reading for the first leg of our train journey to Ascot.

Two stops in (Tisbury) someone laughingly asked if we’d all got our tickets. Mr. H-L and I thought each other was joking when we both said “No”.


This is us after alighting at Tisbury, ready to catch the next train back to Templecombe. Luckily, a friend had a house key and popped in to collect the tickets. She dropped them off at the ticket office for us to save time as we had got a lift to the station and had no means of getting home.

Having caught the next train, we were only an hour behind. Of course, all the food and champagne had gone on ahead with our friends, so we had to try and recreate the excitement with Pringles and Prosecco bought on the train.

We’d opted to travel First Class so it was no problem. We got chatting to a few other race-goers on the two and a half hour journey and two changes of train.

And at least we’d got our tickets!!

Safely in by 1pm, we had time for proper bubbly before the Royal Procession at 2 o’clock.

Bubbles were flowing like a river and everyone was having a great time, gearing up to the first race at 2.30.

We ambled over to the parade ring in time to watch the Royal Carriages arrive. Queenie looked radiant in cerise, although Prince Phillip was too ill to accompany her this year so Prince Andrew is sat next to her.

And then the action began!

We had our race card and picked this patriotic-looking bookie with which to place our bets.

We won some, we lost some. The viewing is great despite the thousands of people as the huge screen means you don’t miss a thing, which is otherwise possible despite the horses thundering past just a few yards away as the photo below illustrates.

On to the fashions of the day. Our party of six scrubbed up pretty well, I think.

These are two close friends who feature a lot on the blog.

Another friend who joined us for the first time this year.

Lovely Ruth from the USA was in England for just a week and her first day coincided with Royal Ascot, an event that was on her bucket list – AND she even got to see the Queen! She was one happy American!

And, of course, you’ve already seen pictures of The Mister and Me.

Dress codes are slightly less formal in the Queen Anne Enclosure, but there were plenty of gents still choosing top hat and tails.

Yes, that is a man touting Stella Artois by the pint in a barrel on his back.

Three piece suits seemed to be the most popular mens’ attire by far, and there were a surprising number of different looks.

How about this bright red one, scarlet right down to the matching shoes and trilby!

More variations on formal menswear, some good……

….and some not so good!

As for the ladies, hmmm.

A few got it very right and embraced the elegant, classy look that Ascot is famous for.

A lot more were almost there, but missed the fact that hemlines should ideally be knee length or lower.

Some girls thought bodycon Lycra was an appropriate choice!

But, unfortunately, there were far too many girls in their early twenties who just didn’t get it. I couldn’t bring myself to photograph them, but this press photo from Aintree races gives you the gist. More like “Barbie Goes To The Races”.

The hats were incredible as usual.

Although not my thing, fascinators were a very popular choice with many ladies. A massive hat wins every time for me:)

The six races were over all too soon, then it was off to do the traditional singing around the bandstand at 6pm.

Just time to nip into the shop before heading back to the train.

There was even a mobile seller with Cuban cigars.

The fifteen minute walk back to the station saw the majority of ladies in flip flops, hobbling after a day in ill-fitting-but-gorgeous shoes. Not me – I kept mine on all the way home!

First Class was full to bursting on the return journey, but we were fortunate enough to get seats on all three changes of train.

On this leg, the carriage was silent until The Mister pipes up at the top of his voice “SWEET CAR-O-LINE….!” And the rest of the carriage finished it with “…..Bah, bah, bah!” What followed was a spontaneous rendition of all the other songs that had just been sung around the bandstand that continued until the next change of train – great finish to a fabulous day!!

I’m already thinking about next year’s dress – we’re going to upgrade to fine dining so an even posher dress could be on the cards. 

Any suggestions gratefully received!


Dress For Royal Ascot 

As usual, I made myself a new dress for Ascot this year – to read all about the slightly rushed experience (I made it the day before!) just click on the link below which will take you to the full blog post over at Minerva Crafts.

Burda 6869 Dress For Royal Ascot


Sunday Sevens #118

1. The wallpaper for the downstairs loo arrived and is even better than it looked online. Can’t wait for it to be finished!

2. The obligatory pancakes were served up to the family on Shrove Tuesday. 

3. This half-finished lampshade has been picked up and is well on the way to being completed at last – only a year after I first started it and it’s been sat on top of the piano ever since, reminding me!

4. Hubby took me out for lunch after the disappointment of having to watch him eat last week when I was recovering from a bug.

5. We also managed to pop out for breakfast one morning in between some marathon sewing sessions.

6. If you follow me on Instagram, you will have seen lots of posts recording my progress on our fancy dress outfits last week. My sister had a Glastonbury festival themed 50th birthday party, and I made all of our costumes.

The Boys were Shirley Bassey and Freddie Mercury.

7. We went as Dolly Parton and Tom Jones.

8. I tried to recreate Shirley’s and Dolly’s outfits as closely as possible to the ones that they wore when performing at Glastonbury. It was also 80’s fancy dress, so I decided to make Freddie’s most iconic look. Mr H-L grew his goatee like Tom’s and we even sprayed his hair to make it more evenly grey.

9. My dear sister snapped this pic of me the morning after, looking the worse for wear after a BRILLIANT night.

10. Cooked breakfast, roast dinner AND a Chinese takeaway in the evening was what it took to make me feel better!!

Linking up with Natalie at Threads & Bobbins, Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series showing what your life is like outside the blog.


Triple-Layered Linen Dress


This month’s make for the Minerva Crafts Blogger’s Network is an interesting one. I started off with a commercial pattern but had to drastically alter it after I realised that the white fabric revealed my underwear!

Click on the link below to read all about it: –

Triple-layered linen dress


Marcy Tilton 8813 – Vogue Linen Dress

If you have been following my blog this Summer, you may have noticed my penchant for linen and the ‘Lagenlook’ style of clothing.

Linen is not only comfortable to wear and brilliant for keeping you cool on those long, hot Summer days, (not that we had many of those in England this year) but it also gets better with washing – softer and more drapey.

The pattern I wanted to try was V8813 by Marcy Tilton for Vogue which called for a lightweight linen or jersey. Obviously I chose a linen, and went for a stunning Pillar Box Red 100% linen from Minerva Crafts. It has a subtle sheen to it which is quite unlike the linens I have bought before.

This is what arrived in the post: –


As we’re heading into Autumn, short sleeves were not an option so I opted for view B with three-quarter length sleeves.



Although not immediately obvious on the pattern envelope, the oversized pockets have a pleat in them which is held in place by a button. As the fabric is plain, I decided to make a statement with these swirly patterned buttons which are very striking and quite unusual; they look like they’re hand painted.


The dress came together very easily but, although I washed the fabric before starting to sew, it is still stiffer than I’d like. A few more washes will soften the linen more and more though, and those pockets will drape better eventually – they just look a little too structured at the moment.


After the main body of the dress has been constructed, the centre front panel is inserted and then the gathered detail is added.

Having read several other blogs featuring this pattern, it seems some people are finding that it is less fiddly to complete the gathers prior to inserting the front panel. However, I am used to using Vogue patterns and decided to follow their instructions which worked for me.

The pattern includes a great way to get really even gathers so I thought I’d show it in more detail as it’s a technique that would transfer to many other projects.

You cut lengths of cord twice as long as the guide lines – I used a baker’s twine but any thin cord will do.


Pin the cord in place along the guidelines.


Set your stitch width to a wide zig zag.


Choose a medium stitch length.


Zig zag over the cord being careful not to catch the cord in the stitching. I found that it just stayed in the groove of the sewing machine foot which made it easy.



When all the cord has been enclosed, secure one end of each of the cords by wrapping it around a pin in a figure of eight motion.


Then simply pull the other end of the cord to create even gathers across the entire length.

Secure with another pin at the other end and steam the gathers so they stay in place.

Finally, top stitch from the right side in two rows either side of the previous zig zag stitching.


This is my favourite way to create gathers which are nice and even – it might take a little longer than the usual method of just pulling up the bobbin thread, but it’s much more professional looking and well worth perfecting the technique.


I amended the design by adding a row of top stitching to the shoulder seams as it’s always a nice finishing touch.


I prefer to leave the sleeve hems and bottom hem to the very end so deviated from the instructions at this point.

The very last thing to do was to sew those wonderful buttons in place!


Can you see the slight sheen? It’s almost like silk.

P1060535 - Version 2



It is SUCH a comfortable dress to wear and will drape more softly after a few more washes. I can see myself teaming it with a pair of tights and boots for the colder weather.

If you are tempted to try this pattern, there’s never been a better time as it is half price at the moment!

Here’s the link: – V8813 Marcy Tilton


Fuschia Linen Tunic Dress

Well that’s it, all my lovely linen used up and made into loose Summer garments which have been perfect in this recent spell of hot weather.

Remember these citrus shades I bought from Calico Laine?


I made a sleeveless dress from the “Pool Blue” and self drafted a tunic from the “Leaf Green” (Don’t you just love the descriptive colours?)

Linen dresses

I wanted something along the same lines for the fuschia linen, another loose fitting, easy-to-wear item that would be a delight to wander around in on even the hottest day.

In the end I decided to make a dress based mainly on the tunic but, this time, with sleeves, albeit short ones.


This is what I came up with for the pockets, the lines marking the placement for an inverted pleat.


I used a combination of flat fell seams and French seams for the construction.

P1050876 P1050875

Narrow hems were made throughout, so no need for facings.


I really liked the details in the tunic so I applied them to this dress as well.

The parallel pleats on the front and back which draw the centre upwards and allow the edges to hang lower in an interesting shape….


…the exterior pleats on the back which add shape as an alternative to darts…


….and the inverted centre front pleat adorned with two coconut shell buttons.


I added two pockets this time, in a slightly different style….


…and this is the finished article!





The sides are split to mid thigh level which lets the breeze in to keep me nice and cool!


I can also wear linen trousers underneath for a different look (or if it gets cooler).



Very casual, comfortable and cool – three reasons why I LOVE linen!



Self-Drafted Linen Tunic

You may remember that a few weeks ago I showed you some brightly coloured linen that I bought from Calico Laine.


I made this Vogue designer Summer dress from the ‘Pool Blue’ and blogged about it here.


The gorgeous ‘Leaf Green’ was destined to become a tunic top of sorts, but I couldn’t find an off the shelf pattern that I liked enough so I decided to draft my own.

I had several features in mind from other tops I own that I wanted to incorporate, so I played around awhile until I came up with this: –

A one-piece front with a centre front pleat and two horizontal partial pleats running parallel to the hem.


The back was also to be one-piece and would have some added shape in the form of external darts.

It was also to be shorter than the front and there would be slits on both sides.


This is the finished tunic which, from the creases, you can see has been worn quite a bit already.


The inverted centre front pleat was reinforced with a line of top stitching….


…and a couple of coconut shell buttons.


The parallel pleats at the bottom were designed to lift the tunic in the middle leaving the sides to drape lower.

To acheive the desired effect, the pleats were only partial and I only sewed between the pins as shown below.



I like the darts from the dress I made but was happier after securing them flat against the back, so I did the same with this tunic.


Much better!


French seams and narrow hems were used throughout.


The front pleats hang exactly as envisioned….


…and I added a gathered pocket at the last minute, matching the style with a pleat and another coconut shell button.


It’s a little bit stiff at the moment but will soften after the first wash.

I love it – the perfect loose, linen tunic to throw on over a pair of comfy linen trousers and mess around in the garden.

So cool and easy to wear and a lovely cheerful shade of lime green!


I could have brushed my hair for the photo though – I look like a tree with a bird’s nest on the top:)


Vogue Designer Linen Sun Dress

Forgive me, Bloggers, for I have sinned – it’s been a week since my last blog post….but with good reason.

My ‘phone died.


It is an ex-phone.

I had faithfully recorded images of my week for #sundaysevens (including some lovely Spanish sunsets) but could not share them with you…yet. It is in the gadget hospital as we speak so, hopefully, the techy bloke will work his magic and retrieve some of the lost photos for a later post.

As you know, we recently hopped over to Andalucia in Spain for a couple of weeks to stay with my Auntie and her partner.

This is Auntie, looking very glamorous and stylish. Not your average ex-pat, I think you’ll agree.

Boy, do I hope I’ve inherited her genes – hardly a grey hair in sight and she’s seventy-six this year!

Auntie Mary

Auntie wears a lot of linen.

With temperatures well into the high thirties in the height of Summer, it’s the coolest and most comfortable fabric to wear, after all, you can’t walk around naked all the time, can you?

Having long admired this style of clothing, I persuaded Auntie to take me to the Tuesday market in Albox (photo amongst the many lost in the depths of my iPhone) to buy something similar in an effort to keep cool in the blistering heat.

Apparently, it was a balmy 26°C and pleasantly cool for the locals.

I was sweating my t**ts off.

You’re talking to someone who gets the shorts and flip-flops out as soon as the thermometer reaches double figures for seven days in a row:)

The Boys stayed at home frolicking in the pool for the morning whilst we spent a blissful few hours wandering around the market, stopping occasionally for Tapas and the odd chilled beer.

I came back with a dress, one top, two tunics and two pairs of trousers, all Italian and made in 100% linen for €108, which is about £78!

The remainder of our holiday was enjoyed in cool, linen comfort and I vowed to make more things in this magical fabric on our return to England.

The wonders of online shopping resulted in this little lot being delivered within a few days of arriving home.


I chose this fabric from Calico Laine, a blend of 55% linen and 45% cotton, in three shades, ‘Leaf’, ‘Fuchsia’ and ‘Pool Blue’.

As I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to actually make yet, I bought three metres of each which would be plenty for any single garment.

At £8.99 per metre, it is much cheaper than pure linen with the added bonus that it shouldn’t crease quite as much.

Look at that lovely loose weave – fabulous texture!


After having a mooch around online, I settled on this pattern by Lynn Mizono for Vogue.


I love Vogue patterns, especially the ‘Designer’ range, as you’re always guaranteed to find something a bit different to the norm, which I like.

Whilst linen wasn’t on the list of suggested fabrics, silk dupioni was and, as they are similar in weight and characteristics, I knew it would be perfect for this design.

Described as a “very loose fitting pullover dress……with three adjustable lengths”, it seemed ideal for the look I was after – something cool and comfortable to move around easily in, yet still stylish enough to make it look as if I’ve made an effort when clearly I haven’t.


Then I realised I’d made a silly mistake – I’d ordered a size 14 forgetting that the US equivalent is a size 18!

I added a couple of inches to the bustline and lowered the shoulder seams by half an inch – problem solved.

Construction was simple – just two pattern pieces; a front and a back.

French seams were used throughout, making the seams nice and tidy with absolutely NO chance of fraying – a real problem with linen.


Narrow hems finished off the neck and armhole edges beautifully.


This finish can be tricky in other fabrics but, with linen, it’s very easy as the loose weave makes for a flexible fabric.

I didn’t even bother pressing under the seam allowance first, just folded and pushed under the raw edge with my fingernail as I went.


The instructions called for two buttonholes in the front pleats for the cord to pass through, but I replaced these with eyelets as I thought they would look neater and place less stress on the linen.


I only had a lime green cord stop left over from the pack purchased when making this crocheted back pack.

Hmmm…..I’m not sure whether to change if for a brown one.


There were a couple of things I wasn’t happy with – the armholes gaped a little so I added a dart each side for a better fit.


The back pleats are left ‘hanging’ according to the instructions.


I’m wondering if they would look better stitched flat against the body.


Overall, though, the finished dress is just as I pictured it.

An interesting shape, casual but quite stylish.



I bought these gorgeous clogs in another Spanish market a few years ago.


The perfect shade of turquoise that matches exactly!



Of course, I forgot to put them on for the obligatory selfie….


It’s pretty versatile, too – I reckon it could be dressed up for the evening with those clogs, a statement necklace and an up-do, or teamed with flip-flops, floppy hat and shades for a day at the beach (perish the thought – I hate sand!).

Right, now to catch up on all your blog posts that I’ve missed since the ‘phone died.

Better settle down and get comfy with a G&T – could be here a while….:)