The Dressmakers Ball- Who’s Sponsoring?

We’ve had a lot of fun organising The Dressmakers Ball, including working with other sewing shops and companies to put together an amazing selection of goodies for everyone who is attending!  Sponsors are all contributing to the goodie bags, which every ticket gets free, and many are also providing an amazing prize to the Prize Draw happening on the evening, raising money for The Eve Appeal.


So, first up, of course, is us!  Crafty Sew&So is a fabric shop and sewing studio in the heart of Leicester City Centre. We sell quality fabrics and haberdashery, and run workshops for all abilities.

We’re giving every attendee a ‘Start as you mean to sew on!’ cotton tote bag, which we’re stuffing with goodies from the other sponsors and a Crafty Sew & So pen!


Minerva Crafts is a family run business born out of a love for sewing! We have over 100,000 products in stock and specialise in dressmaking fabrics, sewing patterns and haberdashery.

Minerva Crafts are including a fabric bundle in each goodie bag and providing a voucher for the prize draw!


Girl Charlee are an online specialist retailer for knit fabrics offering high quality, exclusive prints you wont find anywhere else.  take a look at the wide selection of beautiful fabrics at

Girl Charlee has given us a fun badge for the goodie bags and a tote bag full of fabrics for the prize draw!


Prym is Germany’s oldest family owned business, with a reputation for high-quality metal products, and today, we offer an even wider range of products: from press fasteners to high-tech microelectronic components.

Prym have provided a small gift for the goodie bags.


Sew is the UK’s best-selling and most fashionable sewing magazine, providing inspiration for you, your home and the little ones.

Sew Magazine are giving us a copy of the latest addition of the magazine for each goodie bag- hot off the press that day!


Abakhan are sponsoring the cocktail of the night! Enjoy a Dressmaker Cocktail from the bar.

BrotherlogoBrother are providing a brand new Innov-is 15 sewing machine for The Eve Appeal prize draw!  We’re big fans of this machine at Crafty Sew & So, and one lucky winner will be taking one home with them on the evening!


Vogue patterns ‘The Cocktail Hour’ are also sponsoring the the ball and we’re supporting their fundraising for The Eve Appeal.  Vogue have provided a cope of Sew Today magazine for the goodie bags and copies of a selection of The Cocktail Hour vogue patterns for the prize draw!


You’ll also receive discounts and flyers from The Sewmance Festival, CocoWawa Patterns Jenniffer Taylors NEW book, and By Hand London! I can’t wait!!!

Freya x

INSPIRATION FOR THE DRESSMAKERS BALL- Rach at Rach against the Machine

In the run up to The Dressmakers Ball, we’re bringing you some inspiration and advice on making yourself the ball gown of your dreams!  You can go as complicated or as simple as you like for the ball- dresses in simple shapes offer the chance to really show off a fabulous fabric, while more complicated patterns offer a fun challenge to more confident sewers.  Whatever you chose to make and wear, we cant wait to see you in it!

Today we have Rachel Wain, who blogs at Rach Against The Sewing Machine, has sewn the Colette Rue dress.

This is a lovely dress that has some really interesting design details.  The front seams can be joined as normal, you could insert piping to break up your fabric pattern, or just to make things more interesting if you think your fabric is a bit plain.

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I recommend making a toile just to make sure the design lines of the bodice hit you in the right place.  It is possible to grade between sizes even though there are seams on the front.  I graded from an 8 from my bust through to a 12 for my waist and hips.
Construction is really simple; just make sure you pay attention to getting your pleats even at the front.  The instructions for inserting the full lining are really detailed; it’s the first time I’ve fully lined anything and I found it really easy.


As with anything, my main tip is to take your time and make sure you’re doing things properly; especially if you’re wearing it for a special occasion! I hand stitched the hem because I thought it deserved that extra bit of time and care.
The only place I deviated from the pattern was to top stitch around the neckline to keep everything tucked in and neat.   Bonus feature about the pattern… in seam pockets!

Suitable fabrics:
You could make Rue in a crepe de chine, which would drape and give it a real “swish” factor:

This spotty fabric will be beautiful as a swishy dress.



Or go classic with this gorgeous rose printed Liberty cotton!





In the run up to The Dressmakers Ball, we’re bringing you some inspiration and advice on making yourself the ball gown of your dreams!  You can go as complicated or as simple as you like for the ball- dresses in simple shapes offer the chance to really show off a fabulous fabric, while more complicated patterns offer a fun challenge to more confident sewers.  Whatever you chose to make and wear, we cant wait to see you in it!

Our very own Sarah made this dress from 8113 by Cynthia Rowley for Simplicity for our trip to Monaco last September!

I made this dress for a work trip to Monaco which included a Gala dinner event. I wanted to create a dress which was comfortable as we’d be sitting down to eat dinner, and cool, but most of all really stunning!

I chose “view A” which I thought had a hint of Grecian styling to it.

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I used purple crepe which was beautiful to work with and held it’s shape really well with very few creases after being transported in hand luggage. The dress had a fairly gathered skirt and the weight of the crepe helped the gathers hang and drape rather than bulge.

I used gold satin for the waistband and yoke which extends to the front of the shoulders of the dress. I wasn’t sure if I might end up looking a bit like a bar of dairy milk, but I love the finished result!

I embroidered the waistband on our Brother Innovis V5 sewing and embroidery machine. I used 2 shades of purple thread and a design from Urban Threads. They have really great designs for modern embroideries.

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I hemmed the bottom by first stitching around the hem 0.7cm from the raw edge then turning the hem up once, then I trimmed the raw edge to a few millimetres then turned the hem again to create a beautiful neat finish which I am really happy with.

Instead of using the facings provided in the pattern, I decided to fully line the bodice in self fabric instead of using the facing provided, this created a lovely smooth finish with no lumpy bits.  I also opted not to put pockets to keep the skirt smooth.


Our luxury triple crepe is perfect for this pattern, as it has a little weight to it and drapes beautifully!  We have a few different colours avalible of this on our website.

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We have this gorgeous crepe-backed satin in four different colours on our website!

blue crepe

Sew Your Accessories: Bow Belt

The Dressmakers Ball is an opportunity for you to show off your sewing skills, but if you don’t feel confident enough to sew a whole dress, why not stitch yourself a beautiful accessory or two instead?  I’m going to be heavily pregnant at the ball, so I’m avoiding making a dress which may not fit.  Instead I’ve made myself a couple of fun accessories to go with a beautiful RTW maternity dress- including this simple bow belt.  Adding DIY accessories is a quick way to add a handmade touch to any outfit.

You will need:

  • 1/4m of your chosen fabric
  • 1/4m of lightweight fusable interfacing if using a soft material (like I have)
  • Snap Fastening
  • Basic Sewing Kit
  • Sewing Machine


Step 1: Make the Belt

Measure your waist (or your empire line/ under bust of you’re also pregnant) over a light t-shirt and add 2″.  Cut out a strip of your chosen fabric that length by 5″ wide and the same of your interfacing.

Fuse your interfacing to the wrong side of your fabric.


Fold your fabric in half, with the long sides together and sew along that side to create a tube.  Use a 1/4 seam allowance (lining up the edge of the fabric with the edge of your foot and the needle to the far left.)


Turn one end of the tube through a couple of inches and stitch in one side of the snap fastening to the right side of the fabric, aprox 1″ away from the raw edge.  Sew it to the side of the tube with a seam running down it- not how it is in the photo!  Sew up the end and turn the tube right way out using a long stick or thick knitting needle.  you might need to trim off any excess length at this point.



Wrap the belt around your waist and use the snap fastening, now on the outside, to mark where the other side needs to sit- aprox 1″ from the other end.  Fold over the open end of the belt twice, using 1/4″ each time and sew closed.  This is going to sit underneath the other end, so it wont be visible once finished.

Step 2: Make the Bow

Cut a piece of both fabric and interfacing 6″ x 10″, fuse together to the wrong side of the fabric and sew in half along the long edge.  Turn right side out then iron Flat with the seam in the centre.


Sew the two raw ends together in to a loop, with the seam from the previous step on the outside, then turn all seams to the inside, centring the new seam and press flat.

Step 3: Sew the Middle Band

Cut a piece of fabric and interfacing 3″ x4.5″.  Fuse then fold in half and sew along the longer edge again.  Turn this little tube right sides out, pressing the seam in to the centre.

Wrap this middle band around the belt at the centre point, pinch it in tight enough to fit one finger in between it and the belt.  Sew the loop closed, trim excess fabric and turn so the seam in on the inside.

Push the bow through this loop and even up both sides.



All done- perfect for dressing up an old dress for the Ball!


Freya x

Inspiration for The Dressmakers Ball- Elle at Sew Positivity.

In the run up to The Dressmakers Ball, we’re bringing you some inspiration and advice on making yourself the ball gown of your dreams!  You can go as complicated or as simple as you like for the ball- dresses in simple shapes offer the chance to really show off a fabulous fabric, while more complicated patterns offer a fun challenge to more confident sewers.  Whatever you chose to make and wear, we cant wait to see you in it!

Today we have Elle, from Sew Positivity sharing with us a dress review which she made recently for a wedding-


If you are looking for that illusive pattern that can be sewn up for casual day wear but adapted to make you look like Cinderella for partying in, then the Cambie is the holy grail. With its fitted bodice, beautiful sweetheart neckline, and flattering cap sleeves it will have your prince (or princess) charming completely blown away. It also has pockets in both views so you can stash your mobile so you don’t miss your pumpkin carriage.

Although the construction is fully lined don’t let this put you off if you are new to the technique. There is picture rich sewalong available of the Sewaholic blog to hold your hand, and you can always skip the skirt lining if you are using an opaque fabric. I personally love that the finished dress is as beautiful inside as out, which if you are sneaky like me can be worn as a reversible dress giving you the chance to do a quick outfit change mid party.

I have made 3 Cambie dresses with my Liberty lawn bodice and Stoff and Stil tulle skirt being my favourite. To create the lining I used view A and modified the pattern to remove the pockets and sewed it up in some beautiful molten silver satin. It is important to remember that the lining needed its right side facing outwards in this scenario as tulle is sheer and you don’t want visible seam lines.

Using skirt view B as a guide and layering shorter and shorter layers of tulle created the ombre tulle skirt. I used 9 layers of this soft swishy tulle and it makes me feel super special wherever I wear it.

Although View A can be sewn up in a verity of more structured wovens such as quilting cotton or even baby cord I very much suggest using fabric with drapey qualities for the view B skirt such as viscose, tulle or a silky cotton lawn.

Recommendation of fabric to sew it up in:

Stoff and stil soft tulle (colours used heather, rose and powder) 

Liberty tana lawn (Kevin in grey) 

Blue Cosmo spotted viscose from Crafty Sew & So

This review was originally published in Sew Now Magazine and has been used with permission.

Inspiration for The Dressmakers Ball- Gabby at Gabberdashery.

In the run up to The Dressmakers Ball, we’re bringing you some inspiration and advice on making yourself the ball gown of your dreams!  You can go as complicated or as simple as you like for the ball- dresses in simple shapes offer the chance to really show off a fabulous fabric, while more complicated patterns offer a fun challenge to more confident sewers.  Whatever you chose to make and wear, we cant wait to see you in it!

Today we have Gabby, from  blog Gabberdashery and our entertainer at The Dressmakers Ball, sharing with us a  review of a dress pattern she has used many times!


I chose the Emery Dress by Christine Haynes as it’s such a versatile style and perfect to dance in for those of you looking for a more relaxed, shorter party dress. It is so easy to make and Christine’s amazing instructions make it very beginner friendly. The bodice is fully lined which is a great skill to learn to use in any similar dress.

I used a kids single duvet cover I picked up for £1 from a car boot sale and although pattern placement was challenging with such a big print it has such a big impact and has become one of my go-to stage dresses to perform in!

This pattern can be made to look really casual or super smart depending on the occasion and there are optional longer sleeves if you want too. There are so many things to love about this dress including hidden in seam pockets and I  didn’t have to alter the fit at all which is a huge bonus in my book!


The pattern recommends lightweight woven fabrics so my three picks for a party dress would be:
Red Broderie Anglaise from Minerva Crafts
Printed Cotton Twill from Fabric Godmother
Floral Cotton Lawn from Fabric Godmother

This review was originally published in Sew Now Magazine and has been used with permission.

What’s in Freya’s Sewing Box?

  • We thought it would be fun to share with you a peek inside our sewing tool boxes, mostly because we love being nosy, and thought you might be interested too.  Today, Freya is going to show you what she uses at home.

I found this beautiful wooden sewing box in a Nottingham vintage shop a couple of years ago, for the bargain price of £16, and happily clutched it to my chest the whole train ride home (I’m sure I looked like a loony).  Since then it has happily housed a large portion of my sewing equipment.  Confession- these photos were taken after I had cleaned and tidied my sewing box- there is no way my stuff is usually this tidy!


Lets take a look inside!


I try my hardest to use the different compartments to keep my bits organised.  In the photo above, you can see my miscellaneous section, it is at the top of the box and holds all the things I need relatively quick access too, like snip scissors, marking tool and different feet.  I got my walking foot for christmas two years ago and haven’t used it an awful lot, but it has come in handy when I was making blankets this Christmas, to stop the two fabrics slipping.

The next layer down in the above photo is my collection of buttons and buckles and fastening  off all types.


The large bottom layer holds my elastics and my bias binding- I bought a whole reel of black and white last year and its lasting me ages!  You can also find my old rotary cutter, Hogwarts badges, a pencil case, a spare pin cushion, frey stop and a heart shaped yo-yo maker.  You know, the essentials!


Both layers on the other side of my box holds my threads, including some I’ve inherited from my husband’s Grandmother, a stray hair bobble (they get everywhere!), old tailors chalks and my pressing cloth.

Things like fabric and patterns are kept on shelves in my front room, where I do the majority of my home sewing.  I’ve got a nice big dining table and space to spread out, usually accompanied by my cats and occasionally by my husband as he works on his MA.

Freya x

Behind the Scenes- STITCHES

Last Monday Sarah and I spent the day at STITCHES, a trade show at the NEC where we hunted down new fabric suppliers and caught up with some old friends.  The day started early, we had seats on the 7:30 train, armed with travel flasks we set off to see what treasures we could find.

It was a quiet day at the show, which made the experience much more relaxed than last year, when we went on the Sunday.  It also helped that we were much more focused this year and we knew what we were looking for.


We’ve stocked the New Craft House Kits since last Christmas, owners Hannah and Rosie are based in London and produce lots of fun kits, including the Make-up Bag and Bow Tie kits we have in store which have lovely new packaging now and new fabric choices.  It was great to catch up with them and see how their business is growing.


We stopped by Tilly and the Buttons Stand to say Hi too, everyone at Crafty Sew & So is a big fan of Tilly’s patterns.  We’re really looking forward to the newest release, due in the spring!


We placed an order with one of our new favourite suppliers for some fat quarters, jelly rolls and bolts of fabric- including this gorgeous prints!  They’ll be arriving at Crafty Sew & So soon!


We’ve got so much new fabric arriving over the next few months, we’ll work hard to get them up-loaded to the website asap, and of course they’ll be avalible in store in Leicester as they land!

We had a great day and enjoyed catching up with our blogging friends and each other too! 



Our Finished Moneta Dresses for the Party!

It’s the weekend of the #monetaparty on Instagram, hosted by the wonderful Triple Stitchers and sponsored by us! (Among other wonderful businesses).  Rebekah and I shared our plans with you in a previous post, and shared the invitation to join in- there are a tonne of amazing prizes up for grabs this weekend for people joining in the party.  Sponsors like ourselves are choosing our favourites and the overall winner gets the Grand Prize too!  It’s not to late to enter,  just post a picture of you in your Moneta dress (pattern by Colette) on Instagram by 9pm tonight (26/2/17)!  And check out Elle’s blog for the rules and prizes.

And her she is- my mint polka dot Moneta!


I have now made two Moneta dresses, and can honestly say I’m in LOVE with this pattern. It’s the perfect shape for me, normally I live in dresses which draw me in at the waist.    The combination of shape and comfort from making the Moneta up in jersey fabric means I am confident that this dress pattern will become a firm favourite.  I actually have two more planned already!!

I shortened the bodice to accommodate my baby bump, but other than than I have sewing this pattern as was in the size L.

The only thing I’m not sure about is the colour of this dress- mint green isn’t something I wear a lot of, generally speaking.  Every spring I look to introduce pastel colours in to my wardrobe, to welcome the warmer weather.  But most of my clothes fall in to the navy/ red/ black/ white colour scheme so I’m not used to wearing more pastel tones, even though I love them .  However, Sarah has assured me that this dress is a great colour on me- and I trust her, she would totally tell me otherwise!

Freya x

I made a Moneta! And just in time for the party too. I’m so happy with how it turned out. The peacock feather design works wonderfully with the sleeveless design.  The collar adds that little something and makes me feel ever so sophisticated. After having a few too many arguments with clear elastic I gave up and used lightweight 5mm white elastic, it stretches a lot more and makes the whole business of gathering much more pleasant.  I could not be happier.


Making my peacock feather Moneta gave me renewed confidence and I managed to fix another Moneta I’d been struggling with yesterday. I’d previously given up on it because of snapping elastic and stretching jersey. However, a few quick stitches in the morning brought it together nicely!

Rebekah x

My Beautiful Little Black Dress

Recently I have been drawn to clean, classic, monochromatic fabrics. My latest make is the fabulous Eva Dress by Eliza M. I picked up this honeycomb Ponte Roma, on a particularly cold day. It is the perfect combination of sophisticated and cosy.


The pattern is really very simple to cut out and put together. However, I couldn’t find any finished garment measurements and the dress ended up 14 cms too wide! This didn’t end up being too disastrous as I could just take the sides in 3.5 cm to each side seam.

I had another slight mishap when attempting to press the darts to one side. the iron was set that bit too hot and I melted the fabric. thankfully it was on the back and it was patched easily enough with a bit of iron on interfacing.


The top is self-lined and comes together neatly. I used a plain black jersey for lining and top-stitched around the neck and arm holes to keep it in place.


My zip didn’t quite go to plan, I managed to stretch out the jersey whilst inserting the zip. I’m happy enough with it but may well have a go at fixing it in the future.

There we have it a sexy little black dress for the winter months. I’m not normally a fan of the tight clothes but I have to say I feel absolutely amazing in this. Just add a touch of red lipstick and I’m set for a night out.

the dress.jpg

Rebekah x