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The Barra Button Back Top from Greyfriars and Grace.

Today’s blog post is a little bit different and one that I hope a few of you will find quite interesting.

Greyfriars and Grace are a ‘new to me’ pattern company founded by a lovely lady called Fiona, which designs and sells sewing patterns with an environmental focus. Most patterns have the option to use existing garments or textiles therefore combining sewing and recycling unwanted clothing and textiles. Such a smart idea as I’m sure that most of us have some idea of the dangerous impact that fast fashion is having on the planet.

Fiona has very kindly sent me this pattern to try with no obligation to post or share. But I am doing so today as I thought that you might like to know about this unique idea. I think it’s pretty cool, and hope you will too.

The pattern that I chose to take a look at is the Barra Button Back Top.

Image from Greyfriars and Grace.

This pattern enables you to make this button back top in two ways – one is to cut it out of fabric in the regular way – you can add the button band from an existing shirt as the closure to save you having to add all those buttons/buttonholes yourself, and you can use the cuffs for sweet little sleeves and add a hem ruffle if you wish!

The second option is to make it (as I did) simply by using an old shirt. Nothing else needed – just a reel of thread!

(Cropped wide leg trousers are the Tilly and the Buttons Safiya trousers from Tilly’s ‘Make it Simple’ book).

For those of you reading that live in the UK and are loving The Great British Sewing Bee on the TV, it’s a bit like the ‘transformation challenge’ where you are given an old shirt and have to cut it and make it into something else in a ridiculously short amount of time. Well, these patterns are like that, but WITH a pattern!! (and you can take your time to sew it too)! Ha! Sadly without the presence of Patrick Grant peering over your shoulder though. *sighs*

The shirt that I used was from the local charity shop and was a man’s 18″ collar shirt originally from Next, which I bought for £3.

The pattern includes colour photographs, illustrations and written instructions, and they were very clear to follow. In no time at all I had cut my top out using the pattern pieces (just two pattern pieces – shirt front and shirt back). I am very much a visual learner and the images contained in the instructions helped me understand where to place the pattern pieces with no problems at all.

The back of the old shirt had a couple of vertical darts to give it some shape, which I unpicked and pressed out flat before cutting out to ensure that I had the maximum fabric possible and that there were no unsightly darts running up and down what would effectively be the front of my new top.

The only pattern marking that I needed to trace off was the bust dart which I was interested to see were positioned pointing down from the armholes rather than the usual position from the side seams below the arms.

The sleeves are used to make the bias tape which finishes off the neckline and armholes. There are instructions to show you how to do this, so don’t worry if you’re not sure. You could also use shop bought bias for a pop of contrast if you prefer. I made plenty of tape by using the sleeve fabric and still have some leftover to put in my stash for another project in the future.

The Barra Button Back Top was ever so easy to sew up, and nice and quick to make too. I had very little left over of the original shirt – just the collar and some tiny pieces of fabric. I have saved a couple of buttons from the top of the original shirt which was not needed, and also some buttons from each cuff to use another time on another project. The rest of the leftovers will be added to my box of scrap fabrics which I might use as filling for a pouffe that I hope to get around to making at some point.

The pattern size range is XS – XXXL which is a UK size 8 – 20 ( US 4 – 16). I made a size small (UK 10). My measurements are 34-29-38 and I am 5’2″ in height. I have tucked the front into my trousers for most of these shots as it is a little longer than I expected it to be. Next time I make it I shall shorten the length a little so that it ends up as an almost cropped length and hits the same point on my body as it does in the model in the pattern image who I am guessing must be much much taller than I am!


Pink acrylic button necklace is available from my shop x

The only teeny addition that I had to make was to add a buttonhole right at the top of the button band. As you might be able to see from an earlier image in this blog (the picture with the orange scissors)! the neckline was cut right at the point of where a button and hole was positioned. In order to sew the bias tape around the neckline I had to remove the button, sew the tape into place, and afterwards simply sew a new button hole and re-sew the button in it’s new position. No bother, or you could add a little press stud, popper, hook and eye, velcro etc if you don’t fancy sewing a buttonhole.

Oh and here is the before and after!

I do hope that you might find a chance to take a look over the Greyfriars and Grace website, and find that you are as inspired by their environmental options as I have been.

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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‘The Blouse’ from The Avid Seamstress.


The latest release from The Avid Seamstress is another winner. I have previously enjoyed making her Shift Dress and Day Dress, and I knew from my experience with these that The Blouse was going to be a beauty to sew up. I was right.

Blouse 1

It is a simple classic design, and as you can see from the line drawings above is loose fitting, without darts, and features a pretty Mandarin collar, button placket, and elasticated 3/4 length sleeves.

I have been on the hunt for a great blouse pattern for a while. I have one or two that I have in mind to sew up over the next few months, but as soon as I saw this new release it jumped the queue big time and I hopped on and purchased the PDF so that I could make it straight away. I just could not wait.

My first version was made using this pretty blue patterned viscose from The Frugal Fabric Shop. Unfortunately I believe this has sold out now, but do head on over to check out Kate’s shop. I know at the moment she has some other fab viscose fabrics (at bargain prices) that would be equally as lovely as this.


If you have never sewn an Avid Seamstress pattern before, then you are in for a treat. I would thoroughly recommend that you take your time to read through the instructions (rather than skip through them in a rush – as I often do with sewing patterns), as they are jam packed with helpful and clever tips to help you. I guarantee this will save you time in the long-run and give you a much more enjoyable sewing experience.

For example, I love that she advises you to overlock/finish your edges before you start. Also you are told exactly which edges do not need to be overlocked too. Brilliant. You are taken through how to block fuse one of your collar pieces to ensure a neat crisp collar, and maybe to cut the collar just before you need it if you are using fabric which is prone to fraying. All great tips.

I chose to make a size 2. I fall between a size 2 and 3 as far as my bust measurements go, and looking at the finished garment measurements I decided that the size 2 would be the fit I was going for. It’s perfect. Not too loose, not too tight.

The minute I finished my first version I was planning my next. I recently attended the #sewbrum sewing meetup in Birmingham and one of my fabric purchases there was this gorgeous green viscose with pink flowers. As soon as I clocked it, I knew what I was going to make with it.


Taking your time will really pay off. The button plackets are interfaced and will lay nice and neat if you are accurate with your measurements. For this version I wanted to use self covered buttons for a change. They are quick and fun to make, and I tried to cover them with carefully picked pieces of fabric, so that when the blouse is buttoned up, they would match the placket that lays over the top of them.


I particularly love the sleeves. Three quarter length sleeves are perfect for me, I made no adjustment on the length, but I did need to cut a shorter length of elastic than the guidelines suggested, so do measure your arm where the elastic is going to sit to make sure it is going to be the correct size for you.


To ensure that the collars are evenly sewn, I followed the tip to lightly draw the seam allowance (1cm) on the curved edge before sewing. It’s all about making life easier for yourself, right? It is finished off with a neat line of edge stitching.



I’m pretty sure I will be reaching for this classic pattern for years to come. I’m imagining it in a classic white cotton – I haven’t got a classic white shirt ….yet…. or perhaps in a stunning jewel coloured silk. Divine.


I’d love to hear what your favourite classic shirt/blouse pattern is. Do share it with us all in the comments below.

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x


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My Cocowawa Crafts Honeycomb Dress

This is an exciting blog post to share today – my review of the brand new sewing pattern from Cocowawa Crafts.

I’m incredibly flattered to have been chosen as one of the pattern testers for the Honeycomb and when the design details came through I could not have been more delighted. It’s right up my street!




I’m sure that most of you will be aware of the wonderful range of adorable patterns available over at Cocowawa Crafts, but if you haven’t nipped on over before, then I would certainly encourage you to check out this lovely independent pattern company which has the sweetest range of sewing patterns for women and children, available in English or Spanish, in your choice of printed pattern or PDF. Their website (linked above) allows you to access the Cocowawa blog where you can check out tutorials, sew-along’s and all round sewing inspiration.

It doesn’t stop there! The delightful Ana who is the owner and designer behind the brand can also be found regularly posting videos on her YouTube channel where you can find a mix of sewing tutorials, hauls and sewing chats! Most excitingly there is a brand new video especially taking you through every step of the construction of the Honeycomb Shirt and Dress!  For those of us who love visual instructions and sew-along’s, this is soooo helpful! It’s impossible not to be bowled over with Ana’s kind, sweet nature and this is totally reflected in her cute but wearable designs.

Ooh, one last thing here, Ana hosts a friendly sewing chat over on her Instagram page every Wednesday where you can join in with fellow sewists to discuss a sewing related question each week. Affectionately called the #sewinghourchat it’s a lovely way to connect with like minded members of the sewing community.

So, some of the features of The Honeycomb are a pretty Mandarin stand-up collar, front button placket, and pretty ties at the side panels to make fitting nice and simple. The shirt version comes with a cute gathered peplum and the dress option has a gently gathered midi length skirt. Four sleeve options give you the choice of sleeveless, short, regular long or long with bows. I can never get enough bows so it was always going to be the long sleeve version with bows that I made first, but no doubt further versions that I make will use different sleeve lengths.


The great thing about this pattern is that the many sleeve options allow it to become a dress for all seasons, choose a sleeveless version made in a lightweight cotton fabric for those warm summer months and step up to a long sleeved version (with or without bows) made in a cosy corduroy, velvet or denim for when the temperature is cooler. I chose to make my tester version using a wonderful viscose from Material Magic in Leicester. I love the colour warmth of the browns and burnt oranges and well, you know me, I am never far from a floral print!


The dress is finished really nicely on the inside, with the yoke and facing being neatly attached using the ‘burrito’ technique, ensuring that all of your raw edges are hidden inside the yoke. Don’t worry if you are new to this method, it is fully explained in the instructions or simply head on over to the YouTube video mentioned above if you would like some visual assistance with this.

I love that the Honeycomb has a Mandarin collar. It’s simplicity is what makes it so special and I must admit I am pretty pleased with how mine turned out. Again great instructions with illustrations will help you through this part as will the YouTube video. How did we ever manage before YouTube! Equally pretty worn buttoned or unbuttoned, the choice is yours.

Construction of the bodice before the sleeves were added.

Even though we are moving in to Summer here in the U.K I could not resist making the long sleeved version with the bows. I really like the length of the ties – when they are tied into a bow, they are the perfect length and you will NOT find the ends dangling into your food!


The side bows are not only sweet to look at but allow you to adjust an intentionally loose bodice to get a closer fit. Pretty and functional too!

The skirt of the dress has in-seam pockets. Yeeeeeessssssss!!!! So happy about this! Gentle gathers give the dress just the right amount of fullness without being too much.

This pattern offers the opportunity for some of us to try some new sewing techniques. Lots of lovely features such as princess seams, darts, plackets, burrito technique, buttons and button holes, mandarin collar and those ties offer the chance to try out new skills (or perfect old ones)! and whilst it’s not the quickest sewing project that there is, taking it slowly step by step will provide you with a very satisfying garment at the end. I will certainly wear my Honeycomb Dress with pride and will reach for this pattern again as I know one will not be enough!


I know as the weeks progress we will all be able to access lots of Honeycomb inspiration on social media by searching for #cwhoneycombshirt #cwhoneycombdress #honeycombshirt #honeycombdress and #cocowawapatterns and in the meantime I would like to share a link on the Cocowawa website which shows all the wonderful pattern tester versions where you can find shirts, dresses and various sleeve lengths. I was certainly in good company when making up this dress and am very inspired by all these lovely creations!

How lovely is this mustard linen dress that Ana has made?


Not forgetting the shirt! All the heart eyes for this one too!


I had great fun making up this dress, and it was such a privilege to work with Ana and alongside all the other talented sewists involved with this project. I look forward to admiring lots of lovely Honeycomb shirts and dresses popping up on social media over the coming weeks and can’t wait to see everybody’s makes.

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x