Skandi Floral Coco Dresses

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A little while ago, the Finnish fabric design company Verson Puoti put a call out on their Instagram account for dressmakers to try some of their fabulously colourful fabrics, and I was delighted to be chosen!

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A few weeks later two lovely floral jersey fabrics arrived, one in a bold skandi floral against a gorgeous turquoise background, and the other a red rose print against a white background. As I hadn’t tried sewing with knit fabrics before, this was the perfect opportunity to try out the Tilly & The Buttons Coco dress pattern.

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Since the prints were both quite large, I decided to add a contrast plain fabric for each of the dresses to balance out the print. I chose a lemon yellow yoke to contrast against the turquoise which created a really fresh look, and I used a red ponte roma for the top half of the second dress to bring out the red floral, and slightly shortened the sleeves.

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I absolutely love the yellow and turquoise dress and it’s already had several wears. The red version is cute but it turned out to be not quite so much my style. I also prefer the balance of adding just a plain yoke against the print fabric as I did for the yellow and turquoise version rather than making all of the top half a different fabric. Although the red dress does look good with the fabulous polka dot clogs I picked up when I was in Rye.

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I found the Coco to be a fun and easy dress to make and Tilly’s instructions were, as always, exceedingly clear and helpful! I was a little nervous about working with knit fabric for the first time but by following Tilly’s useful tips I had nothing to fear. I sewed both of these dresses up on my normal machine using a zig zag stitch for any seams that would stretch as recommended, but I have just upped my dressmaking game and ordered an overlocker so I’ll be able to whizz a few more Cocos up on that in future!

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I was very impressed with the quality of Verson Puoti’s fabrics, but most of all with their design. Their range of prints and patterns is charming and I’ve got my eye on quite a few others… The yellow raindrops are top of my list, such fun!

I’ll definitely be making the Coco again as it’s a cute and easy dress to wear and so comfy. Tilly certainly knows how to create a great feminine vintage silhouette but combined with modern comfort! I obviously now need to make a striped version of the Coco dress, and I fancy making a few Coco tops to layer under dresses now the weather is changing, perhaps with funnel necks to cosy into!

Lucy x

Stop and Smell the Roses Dress

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Another day, another Emery dress! I made this dress for a very lovely fundraising event last weekend – our Open Gardens day at Emma Bridgewater & Matthew Rice’s home in Bampton, Oxfordshire in aid of Michael’s fund for The Brain Tumour Charity. The kind of extra special day which calls for an extra special dress!

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I pre-ordered this fabric as soon as the Rifle Paper Co collection for Cotton & Steel was released in the UK, and it was always destined for an Emery. It needed all the bells and whistles so I added both a collar and a bow! I know Michael would like this print as he often chose Rifle Paper Co cards for special occasions and bought me their pretty stationery.

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Since losing Michael, I tend to get a lot more nervous about big events and important days. Part of my coping method lately has been to plan a new dress for any upcoming occasion, something to focus on and help me to be a little braver. And since Michael was the kind of guy who gave everything 100% and let his enthusiasm shine through, making a brand new dress themed just for the occasion is exactly the sort of thing he would have loved me to do. Why not go all out?!

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Stop & Smell The Roses dress: made by me in Birch Periwinkle from the Les Fleurs Collection for Cotton & Steel using the Emery dress pattern by Christine Haynes

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It seemed only appropriate to model this dress with a cheery yellow Michael Barry rose, from the rose bush which Michael’s friends so thoughtfully gave me to mark our anniversary this year.

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I was a little indulgent with this dress and lined it with another complimentary print from the Les Fleurs collection called Rosa. I also used some of the beautiful selvedge to sew next to my own “Handmade by…” label.

I felt right at home in my fabulous floral dress on Sunday amongst the delightful gardens, and the day was a huge success. We raised £1,386 in total between entry fees, copious amounts of tea and homemade cake, and sales of Tip Top merchandise and handmade goodies. And I also got to meet my lovely Instagram friends Gemma and Nancy!

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I can’t quite find the right words to explain what a wonderful day it was, and I’m completely blown away by how incredibly generous Emma & Matthew were to open up their gardens at their home to help us raise money for The Brain Tumour Charity. I’m hugely grateful to Michael’s lovely friend Becky for making this happen, and to all of our friends and family who pitched in to help. It was a real team effort and a truly lovely day, all in honour of our Michael who loved his garden. Here are just a few of the photos I managed to quickly snap before people started to arrive.

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Best of all, the funds raised on Sunday have taken the total raised for the Michael Barry Fund to £9,866.55!  So we are within touching distance of our first year target of £10,000, and it’s only been 4 months since I set up the fund! Once we reach £10,000, all future money raised for Michael’s fund will go directly to fund research into high grade tumours, so we can keep fighting for a better chance. You can donate here

Lucy x

The Handmade Fair Dress

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You might have noticed that I quite like to theme my outfits, so when I made plans to attend the Handmade Fair in London this year I obviously had to make a dress and go all out with a sewing inspired look. This spools print from Melody Miller’s new Trinket range for Cotton & Steel caught my eye as the perfect choice for the occasion. I took a few photos of my outfit yesterday as I knew I would be too excited to remember on the day of the fair!

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And when Tatty Devine launched their new season collection with a range of gorgeous sewing and craft themed jewellery just in time for the Handmade Fair, how could I resist the sewing machine necklace to finish off my outfit? I intended to save it to wear to the fair for the first time, but I love it so much I’ve worn it almost every day since it arrived. The detail is incredible and the machine is even threaded!

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I think this dress looks the most “vintage” of any dress I’ve made so far, in large part due to the colour palette. I’ve always had a bit of a thing for mustard yellow and the pink detail makes an interesting contrast.

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Outfit details: Dress made by me in Spools fabric from the Trinket Collection for Cotton & Steel using the Emery dress pattern by Christine Haynes / Sewing Machine Necklace – Tatty Devine / Shoes – Orla Kiely for Clarks (past season)

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In deference to the change in seasons, I opted to make an Emery dress with 3/4 length sleeves finished off with a bow for added vintage cuteness. I’ve only made short sleeved or sleeveless Emery dresses before so I shortened the skirt a little to balance out the longer sleeves and I’m very pleased with the overall shape. I expect there will be lots more Autumn/Winter dresses coming up in this style! As usual, I finished it off with an exposed lace zip in a soft shade of cream to complement the warm colours of the dress.

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I’ve also finished another Emery dress for a very special event coming up this weekend which I’m hoping to share pictures of in the next few days, so watch this space!

Lucy x

Making My Own Wardrobe: the Summer Holiday Edit

In preparation for our last minute break to Sussex, I had a lovely week of sewing to make a new handmade holiday wardrobe. I ploughed through all of the summery prints in my stash, which turned out to be an excellent decision as the weather was beautiful! It was pretty special to wear only dresses I had made for the week. One of the reasons I love making my own clothes is being able to choose fabrics which tell a story or have a personal meaning for me, making lots of dresses full of happy memories.

Ice cream is gonna save the day

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For my birthday last year, Michael decided to theme my presents. He bought me an Emily and Fin dress in an ice lolly print, socks with ice creams on, a Lego ice cream van, an ice cream light, and lots more. Even after my birthday, he still bought me anything he saw that was ice cream related. I even found a mug he had bought for me with an ice cream van illustration on it stashed away after he died – he couldn’t stop! So now I can’t resist anything ice cream related, making this fabric an obvious choice. I know Michael would have loved the bright sunshine yellow background and the ice cream vans.

Dress made by me in ice cream van print cotton (Makower) using the By Hand London Elisalex bodice with the  Christine Haynes Emery skirt / Ice cream van necklace – birthday gift / Yellow clogs – Lotta from Stockholm / Atomic Tote Bag – Sun Jellies

Flamboyance of flamingoes

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Dress made by me in Flamingo border print cotton (Michael Miller) using the By Hand London Flora bodice with the  Christine Haynes Emery skirt / Flamingo necklace – Erstwilder / Spotty Shoes – Boden (past season) / Atomic Tote Bag – Sun Jellies

Pink tulips

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Pink tulips are the first flowers Michael ever bought for me. We’d been together for a few weeks and I was about to head home from Oxford for the Christmas holidays so we arranged to have an early Christmas together. When I met Michael in the covered market he was standing waiting with a huge bunch of pink tulips, so this dress reminds me of that day.

Dress made by me in Tulip print cotton (Sommer range by Michael Miller) using the  Christine Haynes Emery pattern / Broderie Anglaise Necklace – Tatty Devine  (sold out online – available here)  / Red spotty clogs – from a lovely shoe shop in Rye / Picnic Basket bag – Accessorize (past season)

We fly balloons on this fuel called love

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Dress made by me in Hot Air balloon cotton using the  Christine Haynes Emery pattern with a pleated skirt / Hot Air balloon necklace – Erstwilder  / Trainers – Cath Kidston (past season) / Hot Air balloon satchel – Disaster Designs

Marry me

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This fabric is extra special to me. Michael proposed to me with a message in a bottle on Broadstairs beach, the most romantic proposal I could have imagined and so perfectly us. We even re-created the scene as part of our engagement shoot. I even have a beautiful Message in a Bottle brooch from Erstwilder to match.

Dress made by me in Message in a bottle print cotton (Robert Kaufman) using the By Hand London Flora bodice with the  Christine Haynes Emery skirt / Bag – Jane Foster / Sandals – Seasalt

Anniversary flowers

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Dress made by me in Fancy & Fabulous cotton (Riley Blake) using the  Christine Haynes Emery pattern / Floral necklace – Layla Amber  / Yellow clogs – Lotta from Stockholm / Picnic Basket bag – Accessorize (past season)

Little black dress

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This print has little yellow taxis and travel themed illustrations, and makes me think of our honeymoon in New York.

Dress made by me in Bon Voyages print cotton (Rifle Paper Co Les Fleurs collection for Cotton & Steel) using the By Hand London Kim dress with a partial circle skirt / Floral necklace – Layla Amber / Orla Kiely red wedges – Clarks (past season) / Picnic Basket bag – Accessorize (past season)

A field of daisies

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Dress made by me in Painted Daisies cotton (made from a Cath Kidston duvet cover) using the By Hand London Kim dress pattern / Atomic Tote Bag – Sun Jellies / Broderie Anglaise Necklace – Tatty Devine  (sold out online – available here) / Mary Jane shoes – Clarks (sold out online – similar here)

Here are close ups of all the fabrics I used:

Now I’ve used up all of my summery prints, I’m seriously planning my Autumn wardrobe. Lots of woodland prints coming up!

Lucy x

A week in Rye

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I’ve just returned from a lovely and relaxing week in Rye with my parents. As my first holiday without Michael it was bittersweet but I appreciated the change of scene and I know he would be proud of me for going on a new adventure, even though it was a wrench to do it without him. Michael and I shared so many idyllic holidays together exploring the British seaside and coastal towns so it felt natural to continue with the theme, and we chose Rye in Sussex as it’s somewhere I’d wanted to visit for a while. I’m lucky that as we knew each other so completely inside out I feel I can still see it all through his eyes, though it breaks my heart not to share it with him.

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Armed with a wealth of recommendations from my lovely Instagram pals, we were ready to explore. Rye is in Sussex but very close to the Kent border so we spent most of our time hopping between counties to see the sights, and I’ve shared the highlights of our trip below. I’ve recently been trying to improve my photography and have naturally taken far too many photos as I practice, so here is fair warning that this is rather a long post!

Rye

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Rye is even more charming than I expected and I fell completely in love. It feels like stepping back in time to happier days. The picture above was taken from the top of Mermaid Street, one of the prettiest cobbled streets.

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There are lots of great antiques and vintage shops to rummage in, my favourite being Crock & Cosy which had the most delightful selection of vintage kitchen ware I’ve seen, including a breathtaking display of pastel pyrex. Despite the many vintage treasure troves to explore, I limited myself to one purchase of a folding wooden sewing box. I know Michael planned to buy me one of these as he was always looking when we went antique rummaging but never quite found one in the right condition for the right price, so as soon as I saw it I had to have it. I’m thinking of it as a belated birthday present which I was meant to find.

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There are also lots of independent shops, like the wonderfully quirky Four Doors which had an excellent range of design led homewares and trinkets. I picked up a Jane Foster lion knitting bag I’ve had my eye on for a while, and I *might* have treated myself to a Creightons chocolate fab lolly too!

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And of course I had to stop by the Merchant & Mills flagship store for some gorgeous sewing notions. It was difficult to resist buying all of the beautiful scissors and fabrics!

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There are so many great places to eat we barely scratched the surface in just a week. The Ship Inn had great decor (just check out the mustard Orla Kiely-esque tabletop below!) and Edith’s House (above) was a lovely vintage retreat and served up a tasty brunch. We also had gourmet burgers at Hoof, a delicious meal at Tuscan Kitchen where we could easily have been in Italy (thanks to my dear friend Livvie for the excellent recommendation) and copious amounts of fish & chips.

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And a special mention to the eye catching doors and signs of Rye. It was a visual and gastronomical feast!

Camber Sands

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You can’t go to the seaside without hitting the beach, and Camber Sands is just a short drive from Rye so we enjoyed several long walks along the sea front.

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The sand is golden and soft for a British beach, and combined with the dunes and fortuitous sunshine we could have been somewhere far more mediterranean!

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But most of all it was a relief to feel the sand between my toes and the waves lapping round my ankles. I felt I could breathe properly for the first time in a long time while we walked along the beach and stared out at nothing but blue skies and horizon. Just the therapy I needed.

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Hastings Old Town

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We hopped along the coast to Hastings and explored the old town, full of interesting independent and vintage stores. It seems to be a growing trend in seaside towns to see a creative rejuvenation of the old town area and we spent a lovely morning pootling around the shops.

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My favourites include Hendy’s Home Store (below), purveyors of fine classic homewares along the lines of Labour & Wait. Michael would have loved it and probably tried to buy three brooms, six lampshades and all the shaving and toiletry goods. S. Forrest is another unusual store where I bought some beautiful dried flowers, a bundle I put together of dried wheat, lavender and nigella.

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Sissinghurst Castle Garden

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There are lots of good National Trust sites to visit in the area and these days I like nothing better than wandering around beautiful gardens admiring the planting schemes and wondering which flowers I could add to my borders, so a visit to Sissinghurst Castle Garden was a must.

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A selection of the beautiful specimens in bloom during our visit were thoughtfully displayed at the entrance.

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The famous White Garden was as elegant and serene as I’d hoped. It almost made me think of trying something similar, but I don’t think I could restrain myself to just white as I tend to favour bolder brasher colours!

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It was a delight to explore, and we even found a display of sunflowers in the Vegetable Garden.

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Folkestone Creative Quarter

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Like Hastings, Folkestone has it’s own creative quarter in the old town. Unfortunately as we visited on bank holiday Monday many of the shops were closed, but I enjoyed a little window shopping and a browse in the few which had opened. There looked to be some great cafes and places to eat – Steep Street Coffee House was particularly enticing.

Dungeness

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Michael and I had been wanting to visit Dungeness ever since watching a television feature a couple of years ago, and it was just as dramatic as it appears, and quite unlike anywhere else I’ve been.

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It felt like stepping into a deserted Wes Anderson film set, especially with the Moonrise Kingdom-esque lighthouses.

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We climbed to the top of the old lighthouse (above and below) and it was worth the 169 steps to the top to see the breathtaking view.

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I could picture Michael racing up the steps out on to the viewing platform, iPad at the ready to snap the beautiful desolate scenery and the mix of ramshackle huts and clean modern architecture.

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I can certainly see the appeal of living in one of the cottages or converted railway cabins here, with the open sea views and the feeling of being quite apart from the rest of the world.

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All in all, it was a beautiful part of the country to visit and I’ll definitely be back again.

Lucy x