Puff sleeve shirred dress

This summer dress is all about the sleeves.

With its billowing dramatic sleeves and gathered “smocked” bodice, it is reminiscent of historical attire. Whether that be Renaissance or Regency in origin, I am not too sure. According to Mood fabrics, the shape of the sleeve most closely resembles that of a ‘Poet sleeve‘ (see the infographic ). A romantic name that for me conjures up Shakespearean costume, though there is also semblance to pirate costume as well! History aside, these sleeves are so fun, if not terribly practical, to wear.


The dress is not made with a ‘pattern’ per se but rather a 2 shapes that you draft onto fabric using your measurements.

Jess Dang does a great job of guiding you through its creation in her YouTube video, see below for why I chose her tutorial in preference to others. It is constructed from 4 pieces in total. The front is the same as the back and the two sleeves are identical as well.


Winning feature: Unlike other patterns + tutorials out there, this dress has the advantage of not being constructed from rectangles.

The tapering of the front and back pieces allows for a comfortable gap for your arm (armscye).

This means the dress does not cut into your underarm and can have a neckline higher than the base of your underarm.

In addition it has channels that are created for elastic at the shoulder and mid-way down the arm.

The shirring (sewing with elastic thread wound onto the bobbin), gives a smocked effect and provides a gentle gather to the skirt.


Shirred dresses tend to be very speedy to whip up, once you’ve got the hang of shirring. However this dress ended up being quite time consuming to make.

I struggled to keep straight lines when shirring, as my fabric did not mark well with chalk and I was trying to sew quite fast.


I used a polyester crepe fabric from Pound Fabrics. It has more body than other polyester crepes (and I found it a little scratchy) so although it created nice gathers at the sleeves, it puffed out at the waist and was very challenging to narrow hem. Hence all the hems are left with multicoloured overlock.


I love Jess’ video and am keen to try some of her other tutorials. I would definitely recommend it! At some point I would love to make this dress out of a linen fabric.


Best face mask sewing pattern (for me)

No gaps, comfy, breathable…

I’m going to be honest this is actually only the second sewing pattern I tried. But it was so good there was no need to look any further!

I made one sample and then made 12 in a weekend!

Here you can download the pattern, from Japanese Sewing Books, in loads of sizes and watch Yifarn’s detailed tutorial video here:

This pattern features an origami style shape which closely contours the face with minimal gaps. I’ve been wearing them since the pattern came out in June and this is the most comfortable mask I’ve worn.


It all depends on face shape but for me the pleated ones (surgical and fabric) fit really badly so this is a good one if you have gaps with those ones.

Despite the more complex looking shape of the mask it is relatively simple to construct, only comprising 2 pieces of fabric (as opposed to 4 like the ones with the centre seam). The shape is formed by folding and topstitching. A channel for elastic is also created which means you can replace it.

Fabric and elastic

For fabric I used a quilting weight 100% cotton outer layer. I love that some scraps of my favourite dress fabrics could be put to such good use. I’ve worn my duck egg V&A cotton ones probably 50 -100 times which is a lot more exposure than the dress (as seen below) ever got. 😂 I LOVE that colour.

For the inner I used a thin white cotton (but potentially poly cotton?) which someone passed onto me. Three months of quite a lot of wear and wash and the lining but not outer is beginning to bobble a little. Maybe would use something a bit more hardwearing next (perhaps even a gorgeous liberty lawn as that is so soft, supple and yet finely woven).

The elastic was from amazon. It is specific mask elastic which means it is rounded, soft on the ears and above all comfy. It has washed well and doesn’t seem to have lost its stretch yet either. I got about 50m for £9. You can get it cheaper but I wanted it quite quickly so paid a bit more.

Other alternatives for elastic are strips of jersey fabric, hairbands, fold over elastic or even just fabric ties. For me the elastic has been a worthwhile investment because of how much wear they get (although 5m rather than 50 would have been enough).

Batch Sewing

As I said I made about 12 in one go. I did each step on every mask at the same time (ie topstitch all at same time).

The fabric cutting shape is a bit fiddly. I actually imported the pattern into illustrator and used a cutting machine to cut out the fabric. If you get on with your rotary cutter then that could be an idea. Or basting a couple of layers of fabric before cutting (although I’ve never tried this).

Also getting the elastic in the casing can be a fit fiddly. Try an embroidery needle or place the elastic in before you fold the raw edges in and just make sure you don’t sew over it.

I hope you find the best mask fit for you! They also make suprisingly good gifts too 🙂

Ultimate Sports Bra Free Pattern Review

Pattern details

It’s free from So Sew Easy available here:

I love the diagonal front design details and there is also a curved seam between the racer back and back body which are a bit hard to see in the black fabric (same with mine) but could easily be accented with some contrasting fabrics. I’ve drawn them in white below.

It’s a great pattern, if you like the design look no further!

Fabric – can you get away with 2-way stretch?

I used a 95% polyester 5% lycra 2-way stretch fabric from Amazon which I bought specifically for the purpose – although it was only after buying that I realised it was only 2 way stretch. A 4-way stretch would definitely be better but it does work with 2-way.

I also used a black power mesh (from Amazon too!). This is like a very stretchy thin net fabric often also used in dance wear.

Here’s the power mesh facing as well as what the power mesh looks like zoomed in!

Fold Over Elastic (FOE) is essential but fun to choose the colour

Increasing support

The pattern includes a front facing which Myra recommends using the same fabric as the body for. Having looked at a fair few other patterns before settling on this one I’d learnt about the addition of a power mesh fabric which adds some compression. I directly cut the facing out of power mesh.

Next time I would probably use power mesh and a lining facing together.

There is a narrow band that runs along the base. I didn’t but would recommend enclosing a piece of elastic that fits snug around your underbust.


The pattern is very well drafted. I will probably increase the length of the torso next time.


The video is super helpful and I actually much preferred it to reading instructions. The fold over elastic is definitely the most fiddly bit. I had quite a lot of trouble sewing it on as the fabric kept slipping out from inbetween leaving lots of holes which I had to unpick and resew.


A remedy to this is to lay the WRONG side of the fabric on the WRONG side of the elastic only up to the fold. Pin well or use clips. Use a zig zag stitch in matching thread to secure the elastic in place. Then fold elastic over edge of fabric and ‘topstitch’ in place with zigzag.

I made mine using a mock three thread ultra safety stitch on my overlocker which was speedy, neat and perfect for the job. It kind of sews two lines of stitching so should be durable. I like to try out new stitches but its always time consuming to rethread and change needles!

Hack the pattern

I want to hack the pattern with a fun colourful FOE strappy back which I’ve been playing with on my mannequin. I’ve been told it looks like something someone may wear as part of a circus outfit but y’know some of these colours combos are just worth it!

City Gym Shorts Hack and Pattern Review

I took the free pattern for cotton bias bound ‘City Gym Shorts’ by Purl Soho & hacked it back to its roots to make some classic lycra gym shorts.

Of course this pattern is FREE and is available here:

The construction is super simple and I love the overlapped side details which are highlighted by the bias binding.

Why make in lycra?

Well I’d just ordered 2m of black spandex to make some sports clothes and then found that it was 2 way stretch – ie stretches in one direction, I do not get the logic of this description – not 4 way which stretches both sideways and up and down, which slightly limited my options. I’d also been waiting a couple of weeks for my rainbow selection of fold over elastic to arrive and here it was. Soo… why not?!

Adjustments to pattern

None. Just follow exactly the same except sub in fold over elastic (known as FOE, but don’t worry it can be your friend) for the bias binding. Quick photo guide below.

Cheapo tip – save some FOE by not edging the shorts the whole way around. Where the front piece overlaps with the back you don’t need FOE on the back piece as knits should be stable enough to keep themselves together. With that saved elastic you could make a hair tie or part of a sports bra strap – every lil helps!

I LOVE the colours of FOE.

With spandex RIGHT side up place elastic under

Line up raw edge of elastic with centre fold of FOE

Fold elastic again over raw edge so it is encased. You can pin in place then sew for best results.

The good

  • shorts fit well
  • can swim in, jog in, wear as PJs
    • so super flexible, comfy & wearable (my wardrobe goals)
  • only use less than 0.5m! – purse is happeee

The bad

Attaching the FOE is a bit fiddly for my liking as is matching thread to those fluoro elastics

& the ugly

I tried to iron the waistband and well… we don’t talk about that or ever have tops tucked into the shorts… (hint: hot iron + polyester = shiney rough surface)

But let’s not end on a donwer, all in all I’m a massive fan of these shorts and the negative points are no fault of the pattern. Give them a go, maybe add some pockets, lengthen a bit and maybe they’ll become a staple in your summer wardrobe too!

Stay tuned for my review and tips for making a matching fluro edged sports bra using the free Ultimate Sports Bra pattern by Sew So Easy… Plus a full tutorial on choosing and using FOE!

Tea Dress/Nola Dress Review

My main lockdown make was the… Nola tea dress by Sew Mag.

To cut to the chase the free pattern and instructions can be found here:

One line take – gorgeous sleeves skirt and overall shape, however mine didn’t fit well around the shoulders.

The long story…

This year was spent at uni without a sewing machine, however I occasionally returned to my old habit of hunting out free sewing patterns creating a long page of bookmarks (some people have ‘make 9’ targets for a year, mine is probably more like ‘make 90’).

When lockdown arrived I was reunited with my sewing machine and first up was the Nola Dress (now renamed Classic Tea Dress by SewMag in order to link to GBSB round 1).

I liked the fit and flare design (check out the Sasha’s Wardrobe page to see some more..) and wanted to make something fitted and fancyish. A change from my hoodies, sweatshirts and jeans.

It ended up being a pretty mammoth project and was definitely challenging enough. One of the main sources of challenge was the lack of instructions (no fear for you guys SewMag has since published those free as well) so I had to work everything out as I went along. Normally that would be ok but this dress has 15 pieces with its floaty lined sleeve ruffles, lined bodice and invisible zip. It has 12 darts to sew too. Also my fabric, a gorgeous House of Hackney, was not exactly stretchy but slippery and the pieces would completely change shape if you held them by a different edge. This is partly why it flows so well for the finished skirt.

Another challenge was the fitting. I very rarely make a toile but the expensive nature and very fitted design of the dress convinced me otherwise. I nearly boldly went right into cutting an 8 but luckily measured around the waist and figured it would never fit so a long hunt resulted in this – SewMag’s pattern size guide. So I graded from a 10 bust to 12 waist. It is important to note that sizes run pretty small here so beware!

I spent awhile photographing the process so I hope to put up a photo tutorial some point soon… If you’d like that, please leave a comment 🙂

Playsuit Free Pattern Review

Heyo, today I’m gonna write about what I’m wearing today, a Peppermint/In The Folds Playsuit fresh off the sewing machine!

Since coming across the library of free patterns a few years ago, that Peppermint Magazine have, I’ve been keen to try some of them. The style with the In The Folds collab patterns consists of clean lines and contemporary projects mostly made in block colour linen. And they are FREE 🙂

I’ve been loving the idea of tie straps recently, so that, the generous pockets and the built in shorts drew me to their Playsuit pattern (although if I’d had other fabric I’d have made the tie jumpsuit as I love the idea of that in chambray).

Get the pattern

The pattern and instructions are available below from their website. You need to give them your email (tho its not one of those ones that sends you 3 emails a day, more like 3 a year).

Pattern Details

Relaxed fit playsuit with lowered back, shoulder tie straps and big patch pockets. The ‘bibs’ are fully faced. Maybe surprisingly it has a concealed zip down the left hand side. This is what enables it to be fitted (but in a comfy loose way) around the bust without darts. It has a centre front and back seam and ‘built in shorts’ which are like culottes.

My Take

I am very impressed with the pattern design as unusually I felt my project draped and looked very similar in form to the original. I made a size C and decided based on the final garment measurements not to alter between sizes which worked well.

The instructions are super clear to follow with lots of illustrations and tips on how to do things in order to get the best finish, such as clipping corners in the straps, rather than rush through the project. There were lots of prompts to press and finish seams, which I decided to follow and was proudly able to overlock all the edges and add a label. The professional finish means I feel the item could have been purchased. I even hand stitched the hems on the shorts!

I made mine with 0.8m (yup!) of wide ‘stretch suiting’ which I bought in John Lewis for £8 (at full price) a while ago to make a skirt. This is significantly less than the recommended amount… (more on that in a min). It is 67% polyester, 32% viscose and 6% elastane with a kind of herringbone twill finish. The polyester viscose combo has some pros and cons. The pros being:

  • it does not crease (which for me is a massive plus as unlike the linen original it does not need ironing)
  • it falls well
  • it is relatively hardwearing
  • it’s not at all see-through.

The con is:

  • that it has a slight shiny cheapesque trouser vibe, especially if you iron it too hot (see my centre front which nicely outlines the seam allowance below!)

The BIG decision

Back to my 0.8m of fabric. I found the playsuit pattern then headed to my stash (which consists of a random assortment of two plastic boxes of fabric) to find an appropriate fabric. This is the biggest most important decision you will make for this project so choose carefully! The fabric choice really makes or breaks a project as I have learnt so often (which suggested I wasn’t really learning) the hard way. More on that in another post.

When I remembered I had the black viscose poly I decided this was THE fabric that would make a wearable item for my wardrobe. A white and blue cotton, tho pretty, was just not going to cut it as it would not be very flexible and I liked the idea of wearing with t-shirts underneath.

I got my pdf pattern printed and cut then laid out the fabric. Luckily it was just long enough for the front piece to fit with a little space underneath. Flipping the back piece and squeezing it onto the selvedge got that one on. I then had to be a bit creative to do the rest. The long back tie strap was squeezed along the bottom and lost a bit of width whilst the front sat vertically between the two main ones (it was completely the wrong grain direction). I then used what few scraps were left to cut and sew some rectangles together to make the patch pockets, hence their bonus detail. I cut the facing in some thin black poly cotton (was tempting to contrast but after GBSB I’d had my warning). And it worked 🙂

Let me know if you decide to make one and what choice of fabric you go for! A blush pink or olive linen would look great. And the shorts could easily be lengthened into trousers to make a jumpsuit…. Pocket embroidery would also look cute… so much potential!

Graphic Sweatshirt Tutorial

Right now, most of us are living almost exclusively at home. Cue hours sewing & comfy clothes.

Time to make yourself a graphic sweatshirt.

Make a simple loop-back jersey pullover embellished with some famous (or your own) artwork.

Here is how to make it completely from scratch, sweatshirt an’ all with a pile of fabric, thread, transfer paper + printer (sewing machine, scissors etc too!). You may instead like to add the design on a pre owned one or use your own sewing pattern.

My design: The Great Wave Off Kanagawa’ by Japanese artist Hokusai (because in my head this is The wave, it even has its own emoji 🌊).

The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai

Warning! Although this process is fun and opens up a whole new world of designs I need to warn you that my sweatshirt has little tears and rips in the transfer paper after wearing and folding quite a bit. The paper I used is designed for non stretchy T shirt fabrics. The less stretchy and smoother the surface of your fabric, the better. Vinyl designed to stretch is the upgrade.

1. Photoshop artwork of your choice to remove background. Note – you can do this on any photo editing software – even Word if you want!

If you want to use The Wave you can download my background removed version here:

2. Print on transfer paper, ensuring you follow the instructions with the pack. The paper I use is clear and requires you to flip the image horizontally before you print it (option in printer settings). Since the front base of my sweatshirt was a bit longer than the length of A4 paper, I split the design in two (I have not uploaded this version as it gets a little more complicated with ironing).

3. Cut sweatshirt pieces using a pattern or freehand using a top as a guide for the armhole shapes and hump on the sleeve. Make sure you factor in the length of the cuffs. Also cut a neckband – about 80-90% of the length of the head hole. Want more detail on this? Let me know in the comments and I’ll do a tutorial!

Top tip – if you are guesstimating you may like to cut the neckband after you have sewn the front and back together so you can use a tape measure to determine the circumference. Ensure you measure about 1 or 1.5cm (or whatever you choose your SA to be) away from the raw edge of the hole.

4. Before you begin sewing it together, get the iron plugged in & heating up. Now turn off steam. Yup please learn from my mistakes and ensure you turn off steam, it causes the ink to run! Follow the manufacturer’s instructions about placement + timing. Silicone paper can help fix the design in place.

5. Sew the sweatshirt together as normal. Assume instructions are for RHS and LHS.

  • Sew/overlock at shoulder seams right sides together
  • Open out and place right side up. Pin head (tip of hump) of sleeve to armhole side of shoulder seam, right sides together. Pin + then sew around.
  • Match short edges of neckband right sides together and sew along.
  • Fold circular neckband over along long edge WRONG sides together. Divide in 4, marking with pins. Also divide head ‘hole’ in 4 with pins. Match pins of neckband and head ‘hole’ ensuring raw (cut) edges align. Sew around
  • Bring right sides together (sleeves will fold on themselves) + pin along from cuff position of sleeve to base of sweatshirt. Sew in one seam on each side

  • Repeat neckband process for the cuffs (except you probably don’t need to divide in 4).
  • Hem the bottom of the sweatshirt.

6. Stay at home in your beautiful sweatshirt (maybe even take it on your daily excursion) and protect the amazing NHS/healthcare workers in your area!

Mona Lisa hoodie anyone??

Self drafted leggings

Double brushed poly spandex, DBP, is my favourite fabric at the moment. It is stretchy, washes well and oh so soft. It is literally strokeable.

I managed to snag a couple of metres of navy from Girl Charlee UK during their 50% off sale before Christmas. Unfortunately this online store has now closed but DBP is still quite widely available, although less so in the UK. Any fabric with a bit of spandex should be fine.

Onto the leggings…

I’m actually wearing them right now. It is so weird to be enforced housebound especially with the sunshine but anything to help stop the spread of coronavirus is worth it. (And although the pictures are indoors and at a distance of 2m I guess, they were taken awhile ago before this all kicked off).

As mentioned in the above little infographic (lemme know what you think of this, it takes a little while!), the leggings are made from one pattern piece which is cut on folded fabric to create two legs.

There are 3 seams in total for construction plus a line or two of sewing to insert the waistband and hem the legs. Working with jersey can be a bit of a challenge but this is so easy!

I sewed them on a regular sewing machine using a zig zag stitch for the majority of the seams, a three step zig zag for the waistband and a straight stitch for hemming the legs.

My pattern was drafted using Winifred Aldrich’s Metric Pattern Cutting for Women’s Wear, 6th ed. There is a leggings block which you create using your own measurements by following basic instructions. Afterwards you have to add a seam allowance and then ta da! I highly recommend this book if you are looking to do any pattern making.

If you would rather head for a free pattern then check out:

Mood Society’s free Ixia Leggings Pattern which comes with a hack to make a mesh side panel too:

Also Sew So Easy has a tutorial on drafting your own leggings that you make like to check out:

I actually tried the above tutorial by Sew So Easy many years ago for my first knit project. Unfortunately it was a bit of a disaster all round but I blame that on my choice of far too drapey knit (as well as my enthusiasm not being matched by ability!).

Sew So Easy have so many other great free tutorials available. I just noticed a prom dress one…

If you want me to update this post with step by step photos of how to construct the leggings then please leave a comment and I will happily oblige when possible.

Where possible stay at home and stay safe,


Long Cardigan ‘Flexigan’ tutorial

Introducing the Flexigan…

This is a long cardi with big pockets and a nod towards the shawl collar. As the name suggests, it’s flexible. It can be knotted at the front, wrapped over and tied with a belt to create a dress and folded up to be like a shawl! Perfect for layering on a dog walk too.

This tutorial involves the use of a pre-owned cardigan or loose long sleeved t-shirt for the sleeve and armhole shapes. If you know what I mean when I say ‘blocks’, you could use an outerwear one instead too.


  • 2m jersey fabric (ie knitted, ribbed)
  • Matching thread
  • RTW (ready-to-wear) cardigan, loose t-shirt
Note: my pockets turned out a little differently (more like patch pockets) but you could sew them as above.

Cutting out the pieces/drafting the pattern

You will need to cut:

  • 2 front pieces
  • 1 back piece
  • 2 sleeves
  • 2 pockets

Use your t-shirt or RTW Cardi to get an idea for general shapes. For more info see my ‘Cloning clothes’ page coming soon… In the meantime check out the tips below the pictures.

The first picture below is the front – note the unusual bulge that has been added (totally freehand, no need for any measuring etc) to give the shawl collar effect.

Tips for using your pre-owned Cardi/loose tee to cut ‘flexigan’ pieces

  • Turn the garment inside out, before you start trying to ‘copy’ the pieces in fabric, so you can see the seams.
  • Cut around each piece adding on a 1.5cm seam allowance and maybe more at the hem.
  • Where possible cut pieces (such as the back piece) on the fold, so the shape is symmetrical. Also double layer the fabric for things like the sleeves (I quadrupled layered as I also cut these on the fold) and pockets.

Sewing the Flexigan

1.Fold over the top 1.5cm of the pocket pieces and sew over in place. You may like to use a rolled hem.

2. Lay out the front pieces, RIGHT sides up. Position the patch pockets where you would like them, ensuring they are in the same position on both pieces with the hemmed part at the top.

Fold under a small seam allowance around the three raw edges and pin in place.

Sew using a straight stitch around the pocket (do not sew shut the hemmed part!).

3. Lay out the back piece, RIGHT side up

4.Place the left front piece on top, RIGHT sides together, aligning at the shoulders. Pin and sew along the shoulder with a narrow zigzag stitch. Repeat for the right hand side.

4. Note: Although this step appears next in the tutorial, you may prefer to do it more conventionally, in which case leave out and complete between steps 10-11.

Create a rolled hem that runs from the base of one front piece, up the opening, around the neckline and down to the other front piece opening. Sew this in place with a zig-zag stitch.

5. Place the cardigan on the floor, RIGHT sides up with both the front and back laid out on the floor.

6.Fold the sleeve pieces in half vertically and mark the centre of the sleeve ‘head’ (bulge at the top) with a pin.

7. RIGHT sides together, pin the top of the sleeve head (marked with a pin) onto the shoulder seam.

8. Continue to pin the sleeve onto the armhole/armscye, working down each side separately. You may need to stretch and ease the fabric a little. Sew along, following the line of pins.

9. When opened out this is what it will look like. Repeat for the other sleeve.

10. Fold along the sleeve lengths and at the shoulder seams, RIGHT sides together, aligning raw edges of the sleeves with each other, and front and back piece. Pin in place. Then sew all along the seam from the sleeve opening to the base of the Cardi.

At this point, do step 4 if you missed it out earlier.

11. Hem the sleeves and base with a roll hem.

All done 🙂

#flexigancardi #sewnwithsasha

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Sewing La La top – free sew-along part 2

We have the pieces cut (find tutorial here) and now it’s time to sew them together.

I’ve put together another infographic. It may look a tad overwhelming at first sight, but I’ve tried to be very thorough and give a diagram for each step. Any questions? Say hello in the comments and I’ll try my best to get back to you.

Not viewing well/want to save for later?

I can’t wait to see your La La tops! It will honestly make my day 😄

Share them with tags #sewlalatop #sewsasha

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