The Great Big Pattern Swap – window shopping the prizes!

The Great Big Pattern Swap has been running for nearly two weeks now and the uptake has been amazing! The tag #greatbigpatternswap has been shared over 800 times and sewists are joining in from:

  • UK
  • USA
  • Canada
  • Brazil
  • Denmark
  • New Zealand
  • Australia
  • Italy
  • Sweden
  • Spain
  • France
  • Singapore
  • Greece
  • Switzerland
  • Norway
  • Malta
  • Hong Kong

…and no doubt more that I’ve missed off!

That’s a lot of sharing! Everyone has been so generous and it’s been amazing to see all the kind notes and goodies posted with the patterns. Although it’s clear already that everyone is a winner by joining in with this challenge (honestly, it was such a great feeling to receive my patterns) there are some fantastic prizes lined up so I’ve been perusing all the sponsors’ sites to see what I’d choose if I won ALL THE PRIZES…


Great Big Pattern Swap Prizes .jpg

Alas I can win none, but you all can enter for a chance to win these amazing prizes:

To be in with a chance of winning you need to have shared an unwanted pattern of yours, then received and made a new-to-you pattern by Saturday 18th August, sharing the photos with #greatbigpatternswap

Each garment made from the swap will be a separate entry, so if you receive three patterns and make two, your name will be put in the draw twice.

Makes are already being shared so please do join in the fun, and if you have any questions please leave a comment or get in touch.

Happy swapping!


The Great Big Pattern Swap: a new challenge for the sewing community

At the beginning of the year, like many others I’m sure, I aimed to get organised! I love a list, so I made one of all my fabric and patterns in an attempt to make a plan for the year ahead. While doing this, I found quite a few patterns that I know I’m never going to make, and it’s a sad thing for them to sit gathering dust when they could get made in to beautiful garments by other sewers. This got me thinking, and an idea for a new sewing challenge brewed in my mind, so now, together with Emma (@thezipperfoot), we’re so excited to launch…The Great Big Pattern Swap!

How does it work?

Have a rummage through your pattern collection, and if there are any that you know you won’t use (that are uncut and in good condition), take a photo and share it on Instagram with a bit of a description and tag it #greatbigpatternswap

In your Instagram post say where you’re happy to send to; you may not want to pay postage abroad, but if you don’t mind then say you’ll post worldwide.

First to comment on the photo gets the pattern! You can then directly message the recipient to get their postage details – please don’t post any personal information or addresses publicly!

The flipside of this (and what makes everyone a winner) is that you can also claim patterns that are listed by others, so make sure you’re following #greatbigpatternswap

What’s the catch?

To claim a pattern from someone else you must give away a pattern of your own!

This is a ‘pay it forward’ style challenge, so if you claim someone else’s unwanted pattern, you must also list one for someone else to have.

When does the challenge start and finish?

The challenge starts today, Saturday 7th July, and the closing date is Saturday 18th August.

To be in the draw to win one of the awesome prizes we’ve got lined up, you need to have shared a pattern, and received a pattern and made it, sharing with the tag #greatbigpatternswap

And most importantly – what are the prizes?

We have some amazing prizes lined up for lucky winners who will be chosen at random after the closing date! Drum roll please….

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£30 Fabric Godmother voucher
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£25 Sew Me Sunshine voucher
Sewalicious logo
£30 Sewalicious voucher
Sew Essential logo
A Mettler thread pack (worth £30!) from Sew Essential
3 winners will each win a digital download of a SMYLY pattern
Make at 140
£40 Make at 140 voucher


A Pink Coat Club pin to choose
£30 voucher for Sew Loco

I’m so looking forward to seeing what everyone shares and makes for the challenge! If you have any questions about it please send me a message either on here or on Instagram and I’ll get back to you asap.

Happy sewing, and happy swapping, everyone!

The future is bright

So I have officially gone with a new name. When I started this blog I wanted the angle of it to be all about saving money with sewing, however I’ve quickly come to realise that cheap fabric is cheap for a reason, and often when I sew with cheaper materials I take less care. I’ll always love a bargain and I’ll find ways to save wherever I can, it’s just how my brain is wired, but I want to create high quality, well made items, so I’m changing the stance of this blog to reflect this.

I’m a bit obsessed with Ted Talks (if you’ve never watched one, you must – go now (but come back here after!)), and I watched one called “Where joy hides and how to find it”. In this talk Ingrid Fetell Lee ‘reveals the surprisingly tangible roots of joy’ and it really struck a chord with me. I have a bit of an in-built radar for spotting pops of colour in the everyday, and these images from the street photography book I created in my last year at university give a little glimpse of that. When the general ‘art school thing’ was to create something deep and meaningful, I just wanted to make something bright and happy to make people smile: red mini copy2

west croy train copy

police sonic balloon

bus stop ladies

…and in all honesty, with my love for sewing taking the front seat and photography getting shoved to the back, I think my eye for these everyday glimpses of joy has dwindled, and I want to revive it!

I’d been mulling this over, and while thinking of a new name I came up with The Polka Dot Palace. I absolutely love polka dots, and as simplistic as it sounds, I love circles. That literally sounds like something a 4 year old would say, but in her talk, Fetell Lee surmises in one sentence what I could never put in to words about the joy circles and polka dots bring me:

“I saw all these patterns; round things. Pops of bright colour. Symmetrical shapes. A sense of abundance and multiplicity. A feeling of lightness and elation.”

And with hearing these words, the new blog name was decided!

Circles (in pompom form!) and colour were in abundance at my wedding



My aim is for this blog to grow in to a hub of creativity, colour, style and happiness. I’ll share photos of things I make and photos I take, and I hope you’ll enjoy sharing the joy with me.

Sew Out of This World: My Starburst Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress

It’s Sew Out of This World day! May the 4th be with you!

In a previous blog post I wrote about this new sewing challenge from Sew Loco and I was so happy to be team captain for Challenge 3, Stargazer, which invited everyone to create a space-inspired garment, and here’s mine! Continue reading “Sew Out of This World: My Starburst Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress”

Mimi G’s 8123

So we finally had some sunshine! I got a bit excited and decided London was comparable to the gloriously sunny streets on the packaging of Mimi G’s 8123 Simplicity pattern.


I wanted to make something I can get a lot of wear out of, so rather than a floral which might make the dress a bit formal, I went for this gorgeous denim from Sew Essential. It’s always a bit of a gamble getting denim online rather than in person; I find the variations in weight, texture and colour are more drastic than with other materials but luckily this denim was perfect for this dress. It’s lightweight enough to feel soft with a hint of drape, but it holds the structure of the style perfectly. I’ve been holding out for the right denim to make a Simplicity 1325 tunic and I think this could be the one huzzah!

As for the pattern, there are lots of small pieces so if you’re a whizz at pattern Tetris you can squeeze this out of a fairly small piece of fabric, especially if you go for version A as I did. Big four patterns get a bit of a hard time for the clarity of their instructions but this all seemed quite straightforward, the only step that stumped me a bit was the boob band (official terminology), so if you’re making this dress I’d say to just take step 23 slowly and read the instructions properly – I was being too hasty! After this step the dress was all coming along nicely, but I did find that the wrap over detail of the dress made it a bit difficult to gauge fit so I only tried it on properly after putting in the zip and it was MASSIVE.

Mimi G 8123_big

After a brief chat with Athina Kakou I was reminded of the ancient sewing proverb:

“The Simplicity patterns doth giveth much ease”

It was too big to even attempt to adjust so I had to go back to the pattern, recut down a size and luckily I’d cut economically enough to have leftover denim to cut a whole new bodice. Annoying as this was, it was so much quicker to make the bodice second time than the first, and I took in the seams of the skirt so it all fit together perfectly. Even after going down a size I had to shorten the straps by 5cm and take in the boob band by half a centimetre, but we got there in the end and I’m so pleased with how it turned out!

Mimi G 8123_2

The only other amendments I made to the pattern instructions was to stitch in the ditch on the waistband and the boob band so it sits perfectly flat (the button holes aren’t actually opened, they’re just for show and you actually put the dress on by invisible zip at the back!) and slipstitched the very top so it all sits really neatly, lining up the strap to the edge of the fold over detail.

Of course the hot spell lasted only a couple of days, but this meant I realised the layering potential of this dress! I was a bit concerned it may be a bit too dressy that I wouldn’t get much wear out of it, but it can be made totally daytime appropriate with a top underneath yay! The setback with sizing meant I didn’t make this as perfectly as I’d like and the insides aren’t as neat as they should be; I’ll wear it still but will definitely make another one or two of this awesome and surprisingly versatile dress!