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12 Aug 20 – The perfect summer dress!

It’s so hot outside, why not treat yourself to a very cool floaty summer dress? This one is really easy to sew and can be made from scraps and offcuts pieced together.

We’ve been donated lots of lovely offcuts of fabrics from Paulinah at the fantastic local label Dolls of Decadence – lots of fine chiffon and artificial silk pieces which are great for this dress.

You’ll need a light-weight fabric, or pieces of fabric of similar weight, that flow and hang nicely – a fine viscose, polyester chiffon or similar.

If you have one complete piece, find the straight edge by tearing along the grain and cut out or tear a piece that is about 1m x 2m and another 1m x 1m

If you’ve got odd bits, cut or tear them into strips and piece and sew together along the long edges to make one big piece.

Sew the short sides of the pieces together, the smaller piece is the back and the larger the front. Leave a gap at the top for the armhole, about 20cm.

Hem the armholes or finish the edges with an overlocker.

Turn under the edge of the top of the dress – the end with the armholes on – by about 3cm and sew a tube along the top.

Cut a long strip of stretch fabric, about 2m x 5cm, and thread through the tube in the top of the dress. Gather up the fabric how you like it, and then tie the strip into a bow or knot on one shoulder.

Hem or overlock the bottom edge of the dress.

You can change the length, or the amount of fabric to make it more or less flowing and gathered.

Need tips or advice? email

07857 584 371


Heavy duty shopping bag

By popular request, we’ve devised a simple pattern for a shopping bag that can cope with lots of tins, books, veggies and juice, has a choice of shoulder strap and short handles and has a square base to stand it up.

We’ve got two versions of the PDF – one with pics and text only for easy printing. The pictures are also given below.

Don’t forget, you can text us on 07857 584 371 or join our online sewing community for tips, patterns and inspiration – just text or email to be added to the group.

Download your PDF instructions below:

LOI – heavy duty shopping bag with pics

LOI – heavy duty shopping bag

Applique for a purpose – #BLM

Over the next few weeks, the focus here is going to be on essential sewing for the challenging times we’re in.

Patterns for things like face masks and food bags are coming soon, but the first thing we wanted to share with you was another kind of essential. Sometimes we need other ways of caring for and protecting each other

I’ve used a technique called Reverse Applique to create a #BLM banner for the shop, to show our support and solidarity for this vital movement.

Applique means stitching smaller pieces of fabric onto a bigger piece to create lettering, patterns, abstracts or pictures – anything you want!

Reverse applique is where we cut out the shapes we want to show the background fabric, and stitch round the edges of the frame we’ve created, to secure and keep the edges neat.

Here’s how I made the banner:

1 – First I chose some fabric, which dictated the size of the banner – we’ve been donated some lovely neutral hessian and linen fabrics and a dark charcoal grey, so I thought these would provide nice contrast.

2 – Next I sketched the letters out on paper to get the placement and sizes right – I wanted a feel of a hand written protest banner, so I wasn’t too precise about the letters, I just drew some guidelines for height and sketched them loosely.

3 – I cut out all the letters and placed them on the dark grey fabric. When I was happy with the placement, I drew around them with a light colouted pencil. Then I carefully cut the letters out, making sure I didn’t cut into the surrounding fabric. Where letters have a centre piece, like the A and R, I kept the cut out pieces to one side to add back in later. (I also kept the cut out letters, as they could be used on another banner.)

4 – Once all the letters were cut out, I positioned the grey on top of a silver/white background and place it all onto the hessian backing. This “sandwich” of fabric layers was ironed flat and pinned together firmly. You can also use fabric glue, spray glue or iron on adhesive to stick the layers together, but I find this can make sewing tricky as it can make fabric stiff and get machine parts and needles sticky.  I used a glue stick to attach the loose centre parts of letters A, B and R – they only need to be held temporarilly until they are stitched.

5 – Using a zig-zag stitch on the sewing machine, with a medium stitch size and very close together stitches, I sewed around the outside edges of all the letters – this takes a bit of time and practice, but if you are using matching thread any mistakes won’t really show, and extra stitches will hold it all together!

6 – Next I added a rose/fist using regular applique – cut out fabric sewn onto the surface. For the flower head I used a stretch fabric that won’t fray, sketched the design from a protest banner image, and cut out the flower/fist shape. For the stem, I cut out leaves, stem and top section (not sure what that is called on a real rose!) and pinned all the parts onto the banner. I then stiched in the same way as the lettering, but this time using a much smaller zig zag to create the idea of a drawn outline in black.

7 -Finally, I created the border by stitching strips of cream, grey and white fabric to cover messy joins and create an edge to the piece. I hemmed all the outside pieces, and attached two strips of red stretch fabric to the corners so it could be tied onto our shelving in the shop. Then I trimmed any loose threads with very sharp scissors and hung our banner up on the shelf.

It would be amazing to see other banners if anyone feels up to the challenge – you don’t have to use the same technique, you could paint, glue, stitch or knit, whatever works for you. Please do share what you’ve made with #sewtogetherbrum

Hopefully soon we will be able to physically share artwork in the shop, and begin to create a larger banner with lots of individual work. Watch this space!

Note: If you’re struggling to understand the meaning behind the BLM movement, there are some really good resources online that make it really clear; inlcuding the one below:

Sew a craft kit bag

We’ve been giving out craft kits to local schools and families, to help get through difficult times and support home schooling.

The bag we’ve sent them out in is a simple design, but useful for lots of different things, so I thought I’d share the instructions below:

Gift bag instructions

Whether you have a big stash of beautiful fabrics or a couple of scraps your don’t know what to do with, you can join in #sewtogetherbrum to make beautiful, useful things out of very little.

As part of our creative wellbeing kits we’ll be sharing our fabric stashes with Ladywood, and sharing ideas of how to use them here.

Don’t forget to share what you’re doing with our community:

  • by using #sewtogetherbrum and #brumtogether when you share online
  • emailing or texting pics to us at or 07857 584 371
  • sharing in windows, doors or front gardens.

Follow our Pinterest for lots of great ideas, and check back here for tutorials coming soon.

Sewing for the NHS

There are groups setting up all over to sew scrubs and scrub wash bags for NHS staff.

You can find your local group on the For the Love of Scrubs Facebook page, and find a scrubs pattern below:

Scrubs paper pattern – Not for profit