Dressmaking, Handmade Wardrobe, Journal, Sew My Style, Sewing

Colourful Holly Dress by Fibre mood .

October, marks my sewing Birthday, as back in 2017 I got my sewing machine and started to sew. Last year with a gift voucher I bought fabric for my much loved Yellow Trench Coat, so this year I picked a colourful viscose I had my eyes on for ages to make a midi length colourful dress, to mark a new year of more colourful, everyday, makes.

Fibremood is a fashion forward, pattern magazine produced every quarter, with around 15 sewing and knitting patterns included. The patterns are overlapped on pattern paper in the middle of the magazine, and as someone who hates dressing patterns, I decided to buy a single PDF as I knew I wanted to make the Holly Dress . I was sold on the sample images with the grey hair and rattan chair, and as well as the dress! It was my first midi length dress and with a high neck, but I thought it would be great to wear everyday in winter with tights and still be relaxed.

The pattern requires you to add seam allowances once you have assembled your pattern, which I did not realise, until after I had cut out all the pieces and started assembling the dress. whoops! I won’t make that mistake again and for a while I did really fall out with the dress as I has to recut the sleeves with my left over fabric and the use a tiny seam allowances for construction. Thankfully there was enough ease in the dress it still fit, but ideally I would have liked the dress to have been a tiny bit longer, but I really loved the sleeves and the gathers around the neckline that I still love it.

The dress bodice of the dress and the skirt come as one piece, I decided to cut it in two and I had planned to insert a channel to make an elastic waist, but I decided I didn’t want to interfere with the print of this fabric and decided I would be wear it with a belt made from the fashion fabric or a belt from my wardrobe. So there is an extra seam but once i’m wearing a belt you can’t really see it.

The hero of this dress is the sleeves which are gathered into a cuff and finished with covered buttons. I wan’t sure if It would feel very ‘me’ but I love it, it does make me feel very Margo from The Good Life, but that’s not a bad thing.

The high neck of this dress makes it better suited for colder months and I have been wearing it with tights, a polo neck underneath and my black leather jacket, but I took these pictures on a sunny day in spring. I styled it without the belt, which is more comfortable, but I much prefer the silhouette with a defined waist.

Although I got off to a wobbly start with this make, in the end we made peace and I look forward to wearing it for all occasions and it has inspired me to make more midi lengths dresses. I have my eyes on another Fibremood Pattern, The Victoria Blouse, which I could easily hack into a gathered midi dress as long as I remember to add the seam allowances!


Dressmaking, Handmade Wardrobe, Sewing

Isla Trench Coat

My name is Claire and I’m a coat-o-holic. I love sewing coats, because I like a challenge, I like tailoring and I even like top stitching and this coat was going to push my skills and test my patience. I drew my inspiration from Anne Hathaway looking rather fetching in this Mustard Trench and since then I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

For my birthday last year I was kindly gifted vouchers for Sew Me Sunshine, (thank you to David and Rose and Grace and Martin) and once I’d spotted this Robert Kaufman Mustard Cotton Twill I knew I wanted to make a Trench Coat. It was set to be a coat to take me into my 4th decade. I procrastinated before I cut into the fabric, firstly because I had such high hopes of this project looking good, (which is nonsense really) plus I needed a big chunk of time and space to get started on it.

After a lot of research I decided for the Named Isla Trench Coat because of all the classic trench coat features, I liked the cape and the top stitching and I knew I wanted the longer length. It was my first time making a Named Pattern after months of lusting over their aesthetic online. Plus the patterns are drafted for a 5’8” woman. Hooray!


The Pattern has a lot of pieces, so I decided to try out Patternsy for the first time, a service that prints A0 sewing PDFs.  The pieces are still overlaid, so I had to trace the overlapping pieces. I made a rookie error and only sent away the shell pattern pieces to be printed,  so I had to stick together the lining PDF by hand. I was 3/4 of the way through sticking together the PDF when I realised it was actually the shell pieces I was sticking together…big sigh…deep breathe…I just printed out the lining pieces this time and stuck it together again and traced it. This project definitely tested my patience.


Next, I made a toile to check the fit and construction of the welt pockets. I cut a size 40 and the fit was fine. I was worried about it being too tight around my arms but it was fine with room enough for wooly jumper.  I made the welt pockets after watching a tutorial on YouTube I got my head around the construction. They turned out fine. To be extra diligent I made the collar and the cape to check construction.

I was then ready to cut out the fabric, it used 5.5m of the shell as it was only 115cm wide so I laid all the pieces out on the length of out flat for the shell. I marked on the buttonholes and welt pockets with tailors tacks as my fabric pen kept disappearing into the fabric. This shell requires a lot of interfacing, it took me a whole day and even after 30 seconds under the iron, I still found pieces of it coming unstuck whilst I was sewing it. I’d never really considered interfacing before, aside from weight but this brand didn’t seem like great quality. But it does give the collar the structure in needed. So i’m on the hunt for some better quality interfacing, if anyone had any recommendations?

 I wish I’d used a fabric pen or tailors chalk better suited to my fabric as it was hard to cut the opening for the welt pocket with the tailors tack. My welt pockets turned out terribly, because the pockets were interfaced with heavy interfacing, the fabric was my much bulkier than the toile when I was turning them out, so they are far from perfect. I managed to hide a multitude of sins with the iron, (thank you steam)  but they still show drag lines, I was gutted to be honest, especially as the toile looked so much neater, but it’s a lesson to use a similar weight fabric and interfacing even for a toile. But to be honest, once my hands are in you can’t really tell, that’s what I keep telling myself anyway. 


From here the construction was straight forward. The instructions are sparse compared to the hand holding of Tilly and the Buttons patterns and Sew Over It patterns I’m used to it. But all the steps are there. This was an intermediate pattern after all and certainly tested my skills.


I really like the details of the top stitching, for my first row of topstitching I did use a topstitching thread, but my sewing machine does seem to eat this thread and get tangled, so instead I used a Guttermann thread and and it was well matched for my fabric.


I was searching for a puppytooths cotton lining for this coat, but after a lot of scrolling online and no luck, I went to Aberkhan in Manchester and bought a cotton with yellow flex in it for the body lining and black satin for the sleeves making it easy to slip on and off.  I like the flash of colour on the inside.


I finished the coat with classic key hole button holes, which was a task beyond my work horse, but basic sewing machine. So I went along to Sew Creative in Altrincham to use th Husquvanah Sewing Machines with an automated buttonholes. Finally I used plan black buttons, which is maybe a bit boring, I tried a trench coat on in Jiigsaw about 10 years ago and it had the most beautiful eclectic collection of buttons down both sides, but black buttons pop against the yellow shell.


Well, as soon as I finished this coat, a heat wave spread across the UK and it finally stopped raining, so i’ll take that as a success. To make this coat Manchester proof, I sprayed it with a showerproof spray. In hindsight I should have washed the fabric first with a waterproof fabric, but honestly, I didn’t even think of it until it was finished. I expect it to be showerproof with an umbrella, but not downpour proof, perhaps a Closet Case Kelly Anorak in deadstock barbour fabric might be better for the wet, wellies and dog walk days.


I learnt so much during this project, it reinforced that by taking on challenging projects, you learn more, so just go for it, the finished garment is far from perfect, but I love wearing it, I made it, it’s one of a kind and it will put a spring in my step when I wear it in the rain.


All for now

Claire and co


Inspired by, Journal

Inspired by Nani Iro


Nani IRO is the brand name of the renowned Japanese artist Naomi Ito. I was introduced to the collection and designer through the fabric shop Guthrie and Ghani. The collection really made my head turn as the collection can only be described as art on fabric.



There is a strong, abstract, painterly, minimalist aesthetic, that savours every line and brush stroke. There is a clear connection to the natural world and influence of place in which the work is produced.  In 2011, she moved to Iga, Mie, Japan, which is surrounded  in beautiful forests, which made her relationship with nature deepen. Her art is born by living together with “natural antiques” such as rotting leaves and berries, branches or seeds.



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Nani means beautiful in the Hawaiian language. Iro is the Japanese word for color, and from its kanji character, harmony, balance, and a meeting of light and dark. All of these meanings can be felt across the collections.





Her work is printed on cotton, linen and double gauze and the unique quality of these fabrics adds depth to the designs.  By making textiles from the art, Naomi Ito describes ‘the possibilities of new stories with those who receive them as limitless –such as items that give an impressive color to the interior space, or that add an accent to your accessories’.



What I most like about the fabric designs is the painterly quality and the intent to celebrate fabric design, not only as materials but as pieces of art to be treasured by the wearer.  The fabrics are not only loved in Japan, but wholesaled across 30 countries around the globe.



In 2012 the shop “ATELIER to nani IRO” was opened in Osaka. I haven’t got any plans for a trip to Japan, anytime soon but if I ever found myself there I would most definitely make a pilgrimage to the store. In the meantime, I do have a trip lined up on the 5th October to go to Guthrie and Ghani for the Sew Brum Meet Up, so I look forward to seeing the fabrics in real life then. For now I can appreciate the painterly, minimal quality of the work that is as soft as the fabrics it is printed on.

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Until next time.

Claire & co.





Drawing, Illustration

Drawing Dogs

As a nation, we’re a nation of shopkeepers but more importantly, Dog Lovers. The & Co. sign off of all my posts refer to the ever wooly, hairy, smelly, wouldn’t have him any other way, but loveable studio dog, our Border Terrier Walter.

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His constant presense, and his role as the cornerstone in our family has in turn led him to position of chief muse and he has apperead on many birthday cards over the years.

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Walter on a birthday card has always been a hit, but his fan base (although wide), is limited. So in turn I took to drawing friends dogs and they loved recieving the cards as much I enjoyed making them . It’s basically dog porn, or the equivilent of me walking the dog in the park and meeting and greeting every other dog that walks by. Crufts on cards.


Eric and Dotty

The populairty of dog designs are unprecident. Bonkers dog lovers are prepared part with their cash in return for a portrait of their pet. Be it a bespoke commision or just a generic breed image. Even before we had a pet, my then boyfriend, now husband tried and succesfully won me over with a Sweet William Designs birthday card and Mug. Infact, we recived a Sweet William Design card for our wedding and loved it. (Thank you Emily and Andy, from one crazy dog couple, to another)

For me, a pet portrait doesn’t need to be pixel perfect photo realism to capture the heart and expression of our four legged friends. I love the work of British Aritst Sally Muir .  Muir’s dog portraiture..demonstrates the artist’s technical range and her keen understanding of essential doggishness. …Muir’s mastery of the expressive capacity of the canine eye in particular makes these paintings live and pant. — Claudia Massey, Spectator

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Sally Muir has become a regular artist in residence at Anthropologie. First showing in the King’s Road Gallery back in 2013, her pup portraits never disappoint. Her A Dog A Day Book, does as the title suggests, it began life with a Facebook post in 2013: ‘My name is Sally Muir and this is a new gallery where I will add a dog drawing/painting every day, adding up to a massive 365 day dogfest. These every popular pet portraits been succesfully liscenced on to the dessert plates, tea towels and mugs and are avaliable in Anthroplogie

I was asked by Kate, who run’s Sew Creative in Altrincham to draw her dogs, Eric and Dotty for a piece for her home. I was flattered and well it gave me just that little nudge in self belief to print some dog birthday cards and add dog portaits commisions to my store.

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For a non lover, this post reads as utter nonsense, but to the dog lovers out there who know just how important it is to have that extra heart beat in the house, I hope this resonates with you. If you or anyone you know would be interested in a pet portait, please follow this link on my store. They make great gifts for any occasion.







Inspired by, Journal, Uncategorized

Inspired by Cotton and Flax

Alongisde my #100daysofpatterns project, I’m looking at pattern and textile designers that I admire to try and get a better understanding of how and why it works. So today I’m looking at Cotton and Flax, handmade textile home goods from US based designer Erin Dollar. Every piece in the collection is cut, printed and sewn in California.

About Cotton & Flax - How it's made

The striking patterns featured on each Cotton and Flax piece begin as ink drawings — Erin creates each pattern by hand, using a brush and sumi ink. Then she transfers these patterns to a silkscreen to print multiples on fabric. Cotton and Flax textiles are made using natural materials, including linen fabrics and eco-friendly water-based inks. Erin chooses linen-blend fabrics for their unique qualities: high absorbency, durability and increased softness with time.

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Production for Cotton and Flax is done in small batches, and many items are available in a limited quantity as Erin refreshes her palette seasonally.

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With Cotton and Flax, Erin approaches textile design as a blend of fine art and fine craft. By using traditional methods to print each textile piece, Erin hopes to share her love of printmaking and to promote greater public interest in owning unique, handmade home goods.

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What strikes me most about Cotton and Flax is the commitment to craftsmanship and promoting the value of this within the home. All principles that can be applied to my own work and values that align with my own.


I’m looking forward to putting my hand at silk screen printing on to some fabric and lino cutting onto some linen, so keep your eyes peeled over the next few weeks. Prints made by hand create a quality that just can’t be replicated on digital print, so I look forward to returning to ink and cloth to make some patterns.


All for now,

Claire and Co