Most cities in the UK are not as great for fabric buying as Birmingham.  We still have a very extensive market area, selling fresh fruit &veg, fish [apparently fresher than you can buy on the coast], meat, spices and snacks.  There are knick-knacks, toys, hardware, toiletries…and fabric.  Lots and lots and lots of fabric.   And haberdashery, and trim.

Next to the markets is a 4-storey emporium called the Fancy Silk Store, which sells all types of fabric, not just silk.  Round the block is Barry’s Warehouse, another source of textile delight.   I regularly organise sewing meet-ups in Brum and have made loads of friends this way, even gaining a bridesmaid!

Bridesmaid-t-be Glends, lurking right behind me in this pic
Always time for a delicious meal, usually at Mount Fuji Japanese restaurant…oh, the bento boxes!

Birmingham is a very multi-cultural... [read more]

FullSizeRenderThank you for stopping by! Writing this blog is a labor of love, and I hope that you are getting useful information that will help you sew for a post-mastectomy body. I started writing in May, and have had readers from the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, Ecuador, South Africa, Netherlands, India, Taiwan, Lebanon, Belgium, New Zealand, Austria, Greece, France, Denmark and Israel. This is a strong reminder of the power of the internet to connect us!

Please be sure to leave a comment or send a message (brendamarksstudio at yahoo dot com) if you would like to share your journey or have suggestions for topics you’d like to see.

Keep on sewing!

Announcing a new project: TheLiterary Sewing Circle!

Reading & Sewing, my two favourite things, go together so well. The Literary Sewing Circle is a new book club for sewists, open to anyone of any skill level who is interested in reading together and finding some sewing inspiration at the same time. It's a sewalong to celebrate the joy of reading and making; it's not a competition or a contest, but rather a relaxed and open-ended group project.

Every few months, I'll announce a shared read and we’ll have the opportunity for some online discussion about it over the course of the following 6 weeks, like a regular book club! I'll also share some inspiration posts amongst our book talk. After our book club portion, there will be a link-up posted where we can all share our makes inspired by our reading. Whatever you want to make is perfect, as long... [read more]

Flashback to the start of the month- here’s my still-not-quite completed ‘current project’ the Victorian circus witch outfit, which will be going to Asylum very, very soon.

My sewing for me has been delayed while I finish the lovely Jackie’s lovely wedding outfit.  Several hours of last minute fitting and sewing today, and it’s out of the house with three weeks to spare…so onto mine.

This post has been delayed all day while I hoped and prayed I could finish and model it, but that will be an additional post.  I’m getting into the swing of how to wire the edge of the cape [SLOOOOOW job] so just need to crack on with it.

The little draped overskirt will be easy [she says, kiss of death right there] and I will be attaching it to the bloomers tomorrow [she says].  It WILL be done by Friday, as I’m damn well wearing it this weekend, come hell or... [read more]

Two posts in one week? I must be feeling a little strange. Actually there is a lot going on at the moment in real life that I can't share yet so I have not really had much time to blog, although I do keep up with a) shopping for all things sewing-related and b) reading all your blogs. 

This is a quick post just to share some of the the goodies that I have managed to score in the charity shops of late. Not the vintage homewares, just the sewing stuff.  I have been adding to my mid-century tableware collection but you are here for the sewing stuff, right?

Even though they have the Scottish heroine, Flora MacDonald on the front this packet of needles was made in England sometime between the late 1880 and 1909 by Abel Morrall Ltd., in the Clive Works, Redditch. There is a really interesting short post on the company here

The vintage... [read more]

Now, I'm firmly on the style sudoku bandwagon. It makes the most sense to me when organizing my seasonal sewing plans. But I acknowledge this is not the case with everyone, and in that spirit I thought I'd try another method to see how they compare. 

This is the Harper Lu "Prime" method - please click the image below or this link to download your own copy and tell Mac how cool you think it is! 


What's to love:

  • As you can see, it's another grid like planning tool that encourages you to build your wardrobe proportionally.
  • It's one season in one form (instead of the 2-3 sudokus per season)
  • It affords you "freebies" - which dress-lovers will.. well... love! Come winter (and holiday party... [read more]

As usual, I’m late to the party that is 💕 for the True Bias Ogden Cami. But this lovely pattern doesn’t disappoint and I made three in a row!


This version is actually the third, but I love this fabric! This is a cotton lawn from Fabric Godmother and is the remnant from another top.


The drafting is superb, the deep V back and armholes hug your body so you don’t flash any more than your bra straps.


This Liberty lawn version was the first, and I will confess, the strap joins are not as neat on this one as I wanted to wear it so rushed to finish it!!


My second version is in Polyester. Not a fabric I would normally pick, but it drapes beautifully and I love the colours.

I used 1cm iron on interfacing on the Vs to prevent stretching. After the first cami I didn’t bother with the stay stitching to the armholes as the application of the facing kept the shape... [read more]

I spent the entirety of last week purging. Purging my wardrobe, purging my fabric, purging my patterns... I embraced the mantra "If I haven't [worn it, made it, considered sewing with it] in the last 12 months, it had no place cluttering up my closet-less turn of the century row home. 

With every bag donated or recycled, I felt more and more sure that what I'd kept, I would use. 

Until I went to put it back on the shelf. 

Remaining was a hodge-podge of prints with no underlying color scheme to unite them. Or lovely light weight solids... in Summer and Spring colors that nowhere touched my existing Fall 2017 plans. Even if they had, they'd be all the wrong weight for Fall/Winter use. Best I keep those stashed for next year! 

To pull off a seasonal capsule I would need to get creative with the fabrics I had - and I'd need to go shopping.... [read more]

I was going to say that this collection has no hanger appeal, but the hanger loved this one so much it refused to leave-

This is classic comedy move #453- the frisky gerbil in the pant leg at a fancy event! It’s gold!

Dita Von Teese and all the burlesque angels couldn’t make this combo happen-

When you are still nursing, but also planning a hostile takeover of Acme Carborundum at noon!

I need to know what the front is doing- but maybe I don’t. 

First glance, I thought she still had the makeup bib on-

This is my ‘get your soccer ball and your juice boxes off my GD lawn you little bastards!’ Outfit:

I don’t think Helenes arm is really sprained- she just didn’t want to wear the black dress.

Jokes on you Helene!

Photo credits:

We went to Singapore. I needed shorts and quickly. My much modified elastic waisted trouser pattern to the rescue again. It was originally the Barb trousers pattern from Style Arc, but has morphed so many times it is now my own.

I had floral lightweight denim and dark navy, mid-weight denim, each with a bit of stretch.








I decided to use pink top-stitching thread in the floral shorts. I liked it so much I used it in the dark denim pair. It is a nice bright contrast to the denim and gives a balance to my lily white legs.








The family do not like the floral shorts, but I am rather fond of them. However the navy shorts were worn more often. I need a shorts & trousers pattern that is an easy and quick make, like this, but with pockets. I miss pockets. Any pattern suggestions?

Costs & details:

Pattern – Style Arc Barb, shortened to above... [read more]

I can honestly say that this pattern has been one of my absolute favorites (I’ve already made two!) and was so fun to test. I am so excited to be sharing the Fringe Blouse and Dress from Chalk and Notch which was released today on the Chalk and Notch website! The Pattern: The Fringe Blouse […]

The post Fringe Blouse and Dress Release | Test Sew appeared first on Handmade by Lara Liz.

Today we’re going tackle one of the most common fitting challenges: the bust! Plus size women are disproportionately likely to have a large bust, and yet… most patterns are drafted for a B or C at best. Of course, you can always use Cashmerette Patterns – they go up to an H cup! – but what should you do when you really want to make another pattern that doesn’t go up so far?

Online fitting workshop

The first resource I’d recommend is our Fitting for Curves online workshop – and you can get 25% off with code EDUCATIONWEEK until Aug 31st. If you’re a visual learner, and like more explanation of the “whys” in alterations, this is for you! The workshop includes 7 lessons just about bust adjustments (along with lessons on other body areas):

  • How to figure out if you need bust adjustments and how to measure yourself
  • Full Bust Adjustments on a 2... [read more]

Even if you aren’t a Halloween enthusiast, you’ll be entranced by some of the clever scarecrow and pumpkin villages I’ve rounded up. Children love … More pumpkins and scarecrows and ghosts, oh my »

The post pumpkins and scarecrows and ghosts, oh my appeared first on My French Twist.


HI SEWCIALISTS! Marcy Harriell of oonaballoona here! So happy to see you rocking it in these parts again, and thrilled to pay tribute to a handful of my personal daily inspirations.


Saying “yes” to this challenge required very little thought on my part. Almost every piece I work on draws inspiration from the over 700 (YIKES) blogs I follow, not to mention Instagram, so I could pretty much start ANYTHING and know that the tributes would present themselves.

Sometimes the people in my head speak up at the beginning, sometimes midway through… you know how it is! You’re in the fabric store, or at the ironing board, talking to the voices, asking how they’d do this or that, maybe wondering which print they’d choose, or what pattern might fit….


No? Just me-in-my-head?

Cool. Coolcoolcool.

Lemme introduce the ladies I “spoke” to for this dress…


This is Sarah Webb ([read more]

I like to (try to) look stylish. And I like to be comfortable. The perfect solution: a cute blouse — but really a t-shirt — made with soft rayon knit. Win-win!


This is BurdaStyle’s Knotted Blouse from the August 2016 issue, pattern #125. I sewed it with a lightweight rayon jersey in this jeweltone teal-blue that is one of my very favourite colours.


I find BurdaStyle patterns are often too big for me, especially the neck openings. And because this rayon jersey seems to stretch out over time, the neck opening has grown over a couple of wears. Let’s just say if I’m wearing this at work and I drop a pencil, I’m definitely not going to bend down to pick it up in anyone else’s presence. I have since resewn the shoulder seams to pull up the neckline, and I’m about to go in for round 2 of the same. Luckily the openings of the cut-on sleeves were very roomy to begin... [read more]

Hello! I haven’t blogged as much as I would have liked this summer, but I’m so thrilled be sharing the latest Chalk and Notch pattern with you today. This pattern is effortless, chic and comfortable; all things you want in a sewing pattern, right? Gabriela has knocked it out of the park once again with the Fringe Top and Dress!

It seems like my  running theme is “effortless” because all of the pieces I’ve shared with you this summer have been just that: the dress you can just slip on and you don’t have to worry about intensive styling to help the piece look better. Don’t get me wrong, you can style it up more if you want, but you don’t have to (hence, effortless).


The Fringe Top and Dress has two views, each with the option of being a top or a dress. View A features a button front, elbow sleeve and sleeve tab.  View B is a pull-over style... [read more]

I was trying to think of an eye-catching, mysterious title for my blog post.  I couldn’t.  I have too been immersed in bag making lately – sewing creatively, instead of blogging creatively!   The only other handbags I’ve made I posted about here and here.  I made one of them for my sister – she’s seems […]

These two lovelies are spacious tote bags made with all upcycled materials, of course. Both have magnetic snaps to keep them shut and pockets inside and out. One bag, the one with the tan belt straps has a slightly longer strap drop than the other.

I have been trying to save patterns of the patchworks I make so that I am able to at least reference the size next time. So for this one I did do that. I'm glad I did because I do very much like the result and I was able to easily make another.

I used denim from four different jeans, two blue and two gray. The faux leather is two different kinds as well, one from a jacket and the other a skirt.

Here it is lying flat and finished. I did end up switching some around and I didn't cut out enough to make it the entire width across so I just filled this one in with other pieces of denim. The back is whole... [read more]
Hi! If you follow me on Instagram and/or are a regular reader of this ‘ere blog, you may know that I spent a chunk of August back out in the States, a trip I avidly sewed for! As well as eating and drinking my own body weight, this trip also gave me much needed time to … More August: All Sewn Up (aka I fancy a chat!)
A blessing was received last week that I just must share.  Yaw’ll know I am feverishly working to get Skirting It! off the ground.  Well, I set up a Go Fund Me account which is a platform where you may ask friends, family, whomever to support your dream.  Well, while sitting around one day it …

Continue reading Skirting it! Blessings and Praise!

A Fashion Revolution Love Letter

Fashion Revolution Week is in April, to honour those lost in the Rana Plaza tragedy. In fact, I just received an email from them with…

The post A Fashion Revolution Love Letter appeared first on Thimble End.

Project Runway is back! It feels like forever since the show has been on TV. Looks like a good batch of  contestants this year!

Spoilers ahead...

Best moment: Hands down, it was the introduction of the models. Real people! Imagine that! And a shout out to Ashley from last season, who laid the foundation for this year's changes. Not only are a variety of sizes being introduced, but they're also letting the models *gasp* speak and have ideas. I enjoyed the humanizing and I'm interested to see how it plays out to allow them a more vocal role.

Worst moment: The twins were interesting at first, but once Amy pointed out their weird way of speaking, I couldn't un-hear it. That's going to get annoying. I also thought they were super snooty to say "we dressed Katy Perry" as one of the first things out of their mouths. To me, that kind of desperate self-promotion shows some... [read more]

sew over it penny dress

It was love at first sight when I first glimpsed the Sew Over It Penny dress in my inbox. She was the PDF club pattern in June and I snapped her up straight away. I even printed and assembled the pattern the very same day, which is not like me at all. Progress stalled while I waited for fabric to arrive and then I decided to use completely different fabric anyway. This fabric is quite different to what I normally go for but I really like it.

I got the manfriend to take these photos for me in the park behind the Town Hall 5 minutes from our house and I’m really pleased with them. I also tried to get some little videos to use on my YouTube channel and then some people walked passed with their dog and I felt like a right dick. How fashion bloggers and YouTubers do it I don’t know.

Anyway, the dress! I’m a bit in love with it. As I’ve mentioned a couple of... [read more]

Hi everyone! First up today, I’m sharing a video from our Fitting for Curves online workshop – remember you can get 25% off the full workshop if you enroll by 31 August using code EDUCATIONWEEK!

Gaping necklines are a pretty common problem, and often one that’s hard to anticipate before you have a muslin. Sometimes, it just indicates that the garment is too big for you – check to see if the shoulders are falling off your shoulders, or the whole thing seems baggy, in which case you should start by going down a size.

However, sometimes, even if the rest of a garment fits, the neckline doesn’t. That can happen for a number of reasons: for instance, you might have a lower bust than the pattern is designed for, or the angle of your shoulder to bust is slightly different. But not to worry: fixing a gaping neckline is actually... [read more]

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