The Button Box

Something a little different today – a book review! I was lent this by my mum and I wanted to share it with you as I’m sure some of you will be keen to read this too.

The Button Box by Lynn Knight is both a social and personal history of buttons, and therefore clothing, of the ordinary British woman from the Victorian era to the sixties. Rifling through her own button box, the author links her own stories and memories with a commentary on how each button she has chosen is significant and what it represented on a grander scale beyond the garments themselves. Starting with jet buttons and ending with classic pearl buttons, Lynn Knight covers a lot of ground, including the suffragettes, wartime ‘make do and mend’ and the rise of the modern teenager.

I really enjoyed this book (why else would I be reviewing it?!) and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in 20th century fashion, or someone who is into modern social history. Using her own treasured trinkets, the author is able to paint a vivid picture of the ordinary woman who would have seen and used these buttons on a daily basis. So much history is tied up in our clothes, what we wore, where we wore it, how we wore it etc, and to be able to tell these stories just using a tiny thing like a button is a interesting perspective on a much covered subject.

You can buy the book here in the UK, and here in the USA.


A Parisian Ogden cami

You’ve probably guessed by now that I love the Ogden cami from True Bias. I’ve made it twice before – it’s comfy, flattering and above all EASY to make. You can see my previous versions here and here; it’s definitely an easy piece of clothing to build outfits around as just the right balance of casual and smart! I don’t really have much else to add to what I’ve already written, it’s just such a great staple pattern.


I picked up this gorgeous synthetic fabric from a coupon shop in Paris last November, I think it was Le Marché Saint Pierre (the one on the corner!). If you’re not familiar with French coupon shops, they sell pre-cut lengths of fabric at a fixed price, generally starting from €5 for 3 metres. Some also sell fabric by the metre but in Montmartre most seem to sell pre-cut fabric. This was just in a tub inside the shop – at just €5 I couldn’t leave it! It’s lightweight with great movement but not at all sheer. It didn’t shrink at all when I pre-washed it and didn’t run either. I have no idea what it’s made of but it feels lovely to wear. I think the little red and white triangles look like like watermelons, my mum said it reminded her of the tips of pencils and Bianca from Sleepless in Bavaria (who I saw again at the recent fabric shopping meet up she had helped arrange) said it reminded her of American candy corn!

I made a slight adjustment to this version. On my first version the straps felt too long so I shortened them by 5cm for my second, but that feels too short! I added the length back on to the straps and this feels perfect. Definitely goes to show how a fabric can determine how a pattern fits. I also added 5cm to the hem as I felt like my first two versions were just a fraction too short, and I’m happier with a slightly more tunic-style length. It feels a little bit more chic!IMG_0006

These photos were taken in Shanghai in April, on pretty much the last day of our holiday.  I wore this top a few times as it dried quickly after being washed and packed small. On this particular day I was hot, I was tired, my feet were in a complete state and it was bloody windy, so I’m sorry these photos are a bit ‘pinterest’ looking but I think I look cute. As Hayden was taking these people kept stopping to take pictures of us, which happened a lot while we were there – do let me know if you spot a random photo of me in China!


June sewing plans

I know I’m a day late, but I can’t believe it’s June already! May has flown by and again, I’ve not quite fulfilled my monthly goals – I’ve been too busy! After the mad dash to get my dress done for the Dressmakers Ball, I needed a little sewing breathing space, but my sewing room hasn’t been that tidy for months! (It is no longer tidy…)

I did think about not setting any goals for June and just winging it, but I’ve found that at least having a short list has really helped give my sewing some focus, so I’m going to stick with it!

  • Make Simplicity 1696. This is one of my #2017makenine pattern picks, and I’ve got some great suiting fabrics to make these with. I’m thinking maybe a slightly cropped length though, which would see me through to winter at work.
  • Refashion a dress. I made a Seamwork Adelaide out of a really beautiful viscose but I’ve only worn it once – I felt really uncomfortable in it and I think I’ll get more use out of it if I refashion in to a top.
  • Make a Lago tank from Itch to Stitch. This free pattern was only released recently, and I think I have enough left over jersey for a wearable muslin at least.
  • A new top for work. No pattern in mind, but I’ve got rid of a lot of tops I used to wear so I need a few more woven tops that I can get away with at work. This will be a stash buster!
  • As I say most months, I want to catch up on some blog posts! I have plenty that are half written; I just need to blog as quickly as I sew.
  • Yet again, finish cataloguing my fabric stash… Yep, still not done it, but I have bought more fabric to add to the stash, and that’s the same thing, right?!

May in review

I finished my dress for the Dressmakers Ball, which you can read about here – I was really pleased with how it turned out! I also made the Valentina tee from La Maison Victor, which will be on the blog soon – I made it too short though! I didn’t get round to making another Granville shirt or another Simplicity 2255, but I want to refit both patterns properly as I’ve noticed my Granville’s definitely seem roomier than before! I did however make 2 Lark tees from Grainline Studio which I hope to at least photograph over the weekend, so they might be on the blog soon…ish…