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Sew your own style

Sharing my sewing adventures to show how to add a lining. Add a lining to take your sewing from home made to haute couture. Sew your own style.

Blue Trench Coat

My Spring wardrobe would not be complete without  a coat to keep the blustery showers at bay.

Blue is a favourite of mine so I can choose to wear my blue boots or blue court shoes to complete the outfit. What colour coat would best suit you and your wardrobe? Sew your own style.


I used Simple Sew The Trench Coat pattern and some blue suiting from a local tailor.

Simple Sew Trench Coat pattern

This coat pattern is a flattering belted style without buttons. however it is short for a coat, and there in no guidance for adding a lining.

Haute couture

I made it more versatile to wear over a wider range of clothes, and in a range of weather by increasing the length.

Haute couture is French for “high sewing” or “high dressmaking” or “high fashion” and is the creation of exclusive custom-fitted clothing. Not as difficult as the term may suggest, and is all about getting clothes right for you and not the same as anyone else. Sew your own style

Adding a lining

Rose & Hubble fabric for the lining

I chose some lovely Rose & Hubble cotton for the lining. The lining of a coat can be extra special, almost like a secret between the wearer and the coat, which can be chosen to be shared, or not!
I’m not a fan of slippery man-made fabric linings, as they can wear out quite fast, and be sweaty (this could just be me of course?!). I prefer a natural fabric which is more breathable, and in this case I chose a hard wearing cotton. I do tend to sling my coat around, when out and about in the car, or under seats etc at venues so they do need to stand up to this treatment!

What do you need to take into account?

The great thing about adding a lining is that all your seams are covered up so although they need finishing to stop any fraying, you don’t have to feel they will be open to inspection.

First things first, I always wash fabric so if there is going to be any shrinkage, it is before making.

While the fabric drys, inspect the pattern construction and instructions and decide on any alterations you want. I  lengthened the belt as well as both the bodice and skirt length.

Cuting out in my kitchen as the worktop height is kinder on my back. I love using my fabric weights. Quicker and easier than pinning, especially with thick fabric. You can find these in my Etsy shop. I ship worldwide from Yorkshire. I’m also happy to create a custom order for you, if there is a particular colour or design you would like. Just let me know.

Using Fabric Weights

The lining pieces are the same as the main body (no need for the belt or facing though).

The sleeves and back pattern pieces are cut out the same as for the main fabric pieces.

You can see here where I use the main fabric piece to get the same length – this shows how much length I added – tall girls need more fabric!

Planning the lining

Use the pattern markings for grain and fold lines for the lining.

Cutting out the lining pieces

However, because the lining is attached to the facing, the front lining pieces don’t want to be as wide as the main fabric front pieces.

In this pattern there’s lots of fullness from pleats in the front skirt pieces, which I din’t want in the lining, as it would be far too bulky.

You can see here how I pinned the pleats on the front skirt pattern piece and folded in the facing width to create my lining pattern piece.

adjusting the pattern for the lining

Sewing  in the lining

Make up the lining as a second version of the garment. If curves need clipping do this after neatening the edges. I love using pinking scissors for finishing seams of cotton fabric.

constructing the lining

I hung my nearly finished garments up, to allow gravity to work and see how it would hang in wear.  I checked the sizing before sewing  together. The lining garment is placed wrong side to the wrong side of the main garment once the facing and lining  are sewn together right sides together.


hanging during construction

The lining needs to be 2 – 3 inches shorter than the outer coat and I didn’t hem them separately, but chose to sew the hems right sides together and then turn through.

At this stage there are no sleeves.


The sleeve is inserted into the main garment, right sides together with even gethering.

insert the sleeve

You won’t get a smooth lining finish if you don’t hand stitch the lining sleeve top, or head, in place. So, first sew the wrist part of the lining and sleeve together. Place right sides together with the lining on the outside. Machine stitch the wrist circle and then turn the sleeve lining to the inside of the sleeve. Match up the side seams and ensure it isn’t twisted.

Fold over the top edge of the sleeve lining and slip stitch it to the lining bodice, matching the undearm seams. Careful hand stitching here really does finish the garment off well.

The other thing I added to finish my coat, was silver top stitch along the front edge, all around the collar. Along with clipping the seams, and tapering the collar point, this really helps the collar to lie flat aswell as finishing the garment. Some extra attention to finishing details really helps to sew your own style. I am thinking about which sewist brooch to add.

front of finished coat

back of finished coat

I’m looking forward to the end of wintery weather here, so I can step out in my blue coat. What clothesmaking would help you to sew your own style?

Happy Pancake Day

Happy Pancake Day – whether you are celebrating the once a year Shrove Tuesday pancake day, or having a pancake day at another time of year, here is one of my favourite recipes.

Any Day Healthy Pancakes

So before you reach for the sugar, syrup or chocolate, have you tried savoury pancakes?

A complete meal, suitable for vegetarians and diabetics. If you need to be gluten free, then use gluten free flour to make your pancakes.

The only difference in the batter is a little black pepper if desired.


Once your pancake batter is made, let it rest while you make a savoury filling.

Pancake Filling

You can use whatever vegetables you choose, selecting different colours and textures to give a nice variety. This is also a great recipe for using up left over cookerd vegetables.

I chose to start with sliced leeks and diced carrots. I sauted these in a little olive oil.

Then I gathered a few vegetables that didn’t need any prior cooking: some leftover cooked peas, a small tin of sweetcorn, a red pepper and a few sticks of celery. I chopped the peper and celery.

Once the carrot and leek were cooked, I added the rest of the vegetables and mixed well. A tub of cream cheese and some grated cheese were added and the mixture mixed really well. Use any cheeses you have avilable in your fridge.

As you make each pancake you can fill and roll it while your next pancake is cooking, making a production line process.

Place the rolled up filled pancakes in an oven proof dish.

Sprinkle over a lottle more grated cheese and then bake for 20 minutes in a preheated – moderate oven: 180 degrees centegrade/ gas 4

I made these ahead of time and allowed them to cool to take them to a pancake party.




New Year – New Dress

 New Year – New Dress

In this new dress sewing post: Project organisation; Matching Checks/Plaids; Creating a Neck facing; Inserting a Zip; Inserting Sleeves; Using Tacking

My new dress has both a high waist and both bodice and skirt darts which are flattering to my curves.

Project organisation

My aim is to use up the fabrics and resources I already have, reducing my storage needs and simplify finding everything.

I had already prepped some red, brown and navy plaid fabric: washing and drying it and then pinning the selvedges together, matching the plaid pattern up. Having decided to use a high waist winter dress pattern, I had stored the fabric and pattern together in a stacking basket, complete with thread and zip notions.

This is one of the ways I organise my projects.

After hearing a podcast on fabric and pattern organisation I’m considering options for my New Year goal of simplicity.

I already use Evernote for general organisation so this may be best for specific sewing project organisation. I would then have the info on fabrics and patterns, including the fabric & notions required on my phone with me when out.

Cutting Out

When I realised I had a spare afternoon towards the end of December, when the rest of the family went off to the cinema, I washed down the Kitchen Island (which is just the right height for me to cut out fabric without back issues), and grabbed the basket for this project.

Having the plaid pattern already matched up, and using my fabric weights, which I find quicker than pins, I had my dress fabric pieces cut out in no time.


I made my own fabric weights, filling them with rice, and you can order some  yourself choosing your own colour fabric, from my Etsy shop.

These pattern weights are not just handy for sewists, but make great paper weights or for  juggling practice!

All the pieces were returned to the basket to take back to my studio and stay together during construction.

Over the following week, whenever I had a little time spare, I went to my machine, and pieced my new dress together. My aim became to have it ready to wear on News Year Day, and I did achieve this, even though I sat sewing the hem by hand at my sister in law’s New Years Eve gathering!

Matching Plaids

As I mentioned I had already pined the selvedge edges together, matching the plaid pattern up.

Fabric is not always folded up on in the bolt straight to the pattern so the first step to pattern matching is to straighten it out.

Pre washing means I know there will not be any distortion after making up.

When placing the pattern pieces on the fabric I considered what would need to match up.

My pattern needed matching horizontally and vertically, so I needed the skirt and bodice plaids to match up, as well as the front and back pattern to match horizontally.

I placed the pattern pieces to allow for this.

I also added an inch to the bodice armhole as shown, to give a little more movement.

In places, even after pinning the plaid to match on seams, there was some slippage. So the plaid did not quite match after pressing the seam. This is an instance when tacking, in this case sideways on the plaid line, as well as just inside the seam line, saved unpicking and resewing!

Creating a Neck Facing

An interlined facing creates a neat neck edge. I attached iron-on grey interlining to the fabric facing pieces. (It is not necessary to try to do any plaid matching, as the facing is turned to the wrong side and is not seen when you wear the dress).

The shoulder seams both of the bodice and the facing are sewn first

The facing is then sewn on to the bodice, right sides together. This curved seam needs clipping to ensure the facing lies flat.

I then pressed this facing seam to ensure a smooth neck edge.

Especially when pressing curves, a tailors ham makes a really good accessory, giving a firm surface to press against.

I made my own tailors ham, filling it with sawdust and you can order one yourself (choosing your own colour fabric if you choose) from my Etsy shop

I then used understitching the facing to give extra strength to the neck edge and help ensure the facing lies flat.

This involves a line of stitching on the opened out facing.

When the facing is folded under you don’t see the stitches.

An alternative would be to topstitch the folded neck edge, where you will see the stitches. This can add an extra design feature, especially if you use a contrasting thread colour. As my fabric already had plenty going on, I chose to understitch.

Inserting the Zip

I used a regular zip, rather than an invisible one, as that is what I had in.

When your fabric has several colours, it can be tricky to decide which colour zip to use. I had brown and red zips, so held both against the bodice pieces to choose which blended best. I went for the red zip and made sure the thread blended well too.

My zip method: tack the seam together, press it open and then lay the right side of the zip down centred over the seam.

Tacking again helps keep the centred and in place during stitching. Using a zipper foot helps get the stitches close to the zipper teeth.

Inserting Sleeves

Tack the sleeve heads, with the thread secured at one end. Pull up these stitches then to match the bodice armhole.

I place the pins sideways to the seam. Wind the unsecured end of the tacking round a pin in a figure of eight, after pulling the gathering to match.

The regular sewing machine foot used, glides over pins that are sideways.

My finished new dress for the New Year and Burns Night. Bring on the neeps and tatties!

I would love to hear from you. Please comment here, or using the contact form.

What is your most recent make?

How do you organise your fabric and patterns?

Make Your Own Christmas Hanging Heart Decoration

Make Your Own Christmas Hanging Heart Decoration

Avoid Christmas panic –  make your own hanging heart decoration, or use one of our kits that has everything you need ready for you. The hearts you make, or the kits, are great stocking fillers or Christmas Eve box gifts.

In this blog I list the resources to gather from your supplies, give you a heart template to download & print, show you how to make a hanging heart and give you details of another free festive decoration tutorial, as well as a blog reader discount at my Etsy shop, Helen Moyes Designs.

Hanging Hearts are so versatile, and depending on the textiles used are lovely for all seasons: Christmas, Winter Cheer, Valentines, Easter, Spring …

Hanging heart decoration can be hung on a tree at Christmas, on a twig arrangement or on doors. they make a lovely stocking filler gift

Your DIY  hanging heart decoration can be personalised in many ways … I love combining stamping with stitch, stamping a name or sentiment on some calico.

What You need:

2 pieces of felt 13 x 13 cm

piece of printed fabric 13 x 13 cm

20 cm ribbon or cord


plain fabric, inkpad and stamps for personalised embellishment – optional

hollowfibre filling

needle and thread


scent – optional

What you do.

Use the heart template to cut out 2 felt hearts and one cotton print heart.

You can print my template for your hanging heart decoration.

Click here to download heart template

Taking just the cotton print heart you have made, secure the thread in the centre with a couple of small stitches. Put the needle up through the small felt heart and one of the holes of the button. Take the neele and thread back down through the other hole of the button and repeat a couple of times.

Secure on the wrong side with another couple of small stitches. This is the stage it is easiest to add any personalised embellishment too.

Layer the 3 heart pieces with the print upermost.

Fold the ribbon in half and tuck the ends into the top of the heart. Secure with a couple of stitches, and test it with a little tug.

Using running stitch, sew from the top of the heart up and around the curve, down to the bottom point and then back up the other side, to 1 cm to the second curve. Secure the thread with a small stitch.

Use the hollow fibre filling poking it into the inside the heart, as evenly as possible. A pencil can help with this.

If you would like some scent, add some dried fragrant petals, such as lavender, or a couple of drops of essential oil to the hollowfibre.

Complete the running stitching back to the centre top and secure with another couple of little stitches.

Hang your completed hanging heart decoration with pride.

Hanging heart Kits

If you would like a kit to make a hanging heart decoration (available in three designs) then please go to my Etsy shop. 

I offer to save you time, stress and money:

  • gift wrapping service (small extra charge)
  • I will send your purchace to your recipient with a greeting (free service)

I also have another DIY Christmas presents hanging kit available at my Etsy shop.

Reader offer.

And as a blog reader you can use the code HCBLOG at the checkout for 20% off any orders from my Etsy shop over £10.

DIY Christmas tree decoration tutorial.

You might also be interested in another of my Christmas decoration tutorials

What are your hanging decoration makes? Please share them with us below. I love to hear about others craftyness!

Wedding Belles – we did the I dos

Wedding Belles – we did the I dos

After months of anticipation and planning our daughter, Hannah’s wedding to Craig was this weekend. The Home Coaching sewing lounge became a hair and make up studio with no boys allowed!

Flower Crafting

The crafting has been taking place throughout the year with Hannah making paper flowers for the bouquets, corsages and button holes. Lots of the Moyes clan females made flowers, when we met up in the summer, to start the flower wall.


The Cake

I was comissioned to make a cake with three tirers of sponge cake: red velvet, lemon and carrot cakes. The purple theme was used with pearl and gold embellishments.

I had one cake tin in each size so gradually made the cakes and stashed them in the freezer. Planning ahead meant I was not too fazed when one of the carrot cakes was an epic fail! Thankfully the next attempt worked fine.

Decorating had to be done at the last moment as fillings included cream and cream cheese. So after the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner we set to.

Wedding Dress

Hannah is woman who know what she wants and often amazes me with her quick choices when shopping. This is a skill she uses in her job as a merchandiser. This was no exception when I went down south to go wedding dress shopping. Hannah had seen an Anna Sorrano dress she liked online and tried this on first. This being the first time I had ever seen my daughter in a wedding dress, I wasn’t sure if my “wow” response was due to just that. However, after trying a few more dresses we quickly returned to the first one, a classic a-line gown with long sleeves and sequin lace .

We hadn’t been sure if we would make a dress, as I had for my wedding, but felt that for all the fabric and inner corsetry, we certainly wouldn’t save any money by making from scratch and we felt we had found the right dress. Nick was sent a text with a picture of Hannah wearing the dress but had to delete it from his phone. It was then kept secret until the big day.

There was the conundrum of the wedding dress swishing down the isle of the church, but then not getting in the way of partying. We solved this on my return South by removing lots of the underneath layers of the skirt at hip level and turning them into an under skirt. This involved trying the dress on lots of times on the hottest day of the year – the last Sunday in August! The sleeves were taken in to fit snugly and the hem length checked with Hannah wearing her purple heels.

Here is Hannah and Nick arriving at the church, with the the dress  A-shape with the underskirt layers. Dior is quoted as saying “I have designed flower women”, when referring to the A-shapes. Incidently I am rather envious of Hannah who will be visiting the Dior exhibition later this week in Paris.

And here is Hannah and Craig dancing, showing the dress without the underskirt layers, and with the train fastened up using a button and loop.

Mother of the Bride Outfit

Back in Sheffield, I chose a Vogue pattern which suited my love of putting fabrics together as well as my shape. Now my attic studio was originally Hannah’s bedroom and needed to be reinstated as such. This meant much sorting and clearing up was required. The great thing of sorting through my fabric stash under the eves, was finding I already had the fabrics for my dress!

Also found was a cotton jacket I had stashed away from a charity shop spree, which I had never worn as it was a bright yellow (cheerful but not one of my colours) and was rather dated with it’s shoulder pads and long length.

The pads, buttons and lining were removed and the jacket dyed with a dye I had also had a while, to tone down the bright yellow to a paler pink.

I had chosen some wool on a trip to Wingham Wool in Wentworth, earlier in the year and set to with the embellishing machine. I chose navy, jade, grey and purple wool, a turquise silk and a blend.Playing led to a swirling design, which turned out reminiscent of some of Van Gogh’s skys.

Unlike my sewing machine, the embellisher isn’t designed for sleeves so these needed their seams unpicking. Felting caused the sleeves not to be long or wide enough, so some calico was added and then needle felted. The loss of length on the jacket was not an issue as I wanted it shorter, and I remodelled the front facing to get the front to fit.

The upcycling continued as a silk blouse that no longer fitted me was used to line the jacket.

I used the cotton from one of my Grandpa’s old shirts I also had in my stash to make a toile of the dress bodice. I hadn’t used a Vogue pattern with different pieces for different cup sizes before so wanted to test it out. I had to adjust the fit on the shoulders, and across my upper chest and after fiddling around to get the toile to fit, decided to use it as the bodice lining.

Since I had already cut down the length and re-fitted the waist of my wedding dress netted underskirt (sadly I am not the same waist size I was at age 19!), I decided this would be right for the circle skirt of the dress.

The sleeves also needed adjusting for a better fit.

As I was using some silk for the mid setion, I found I needed to add interfacing to this for a smooth fit.

The simple dress lines are enhanced by top stitching, but I did need to unpick some of this to get one shoulder to lie flat!

Here is the non fitting shoulder

And then modified

I used an invisible zip from my stash, which worked although a little shorter than the length suggested in the pattern.

The pattern instructions were clear to follow.

The hem was finished using horsehair braid, which is great to add body to a hem. I wasn’t totally happy with the finish of the hem as it was a little ruckled. However it was good that I was staying with my mother in law when I was finishing the dress, as she was able to give me a pep talk that it is only me who would notice this!

My Hat

I chose a one colour hat which was not too high, as I am already tall. The added bonus was this was in the sale! I trimmed this up with a fabric flower from offcuts from the dress and some feathers in the jacket colours.
As it’s been rather windy lately,to keep my hat on,  I embellished a filigre hat pin, to go with a couple of vintage plain hat pins inherited from my grandmother.

With all the saving, using inherited vintage items  and up-cycling, I was able to justify a Radley handbag which was in both petrol and purple!

The Pavers court shoes I chose were navy and purple and I wore them while sewing to “wear them into my feet”.

So the anticipated wedding day came and now we have so many happy memories shared with family and friends, and also with you. I do hope you have enjoyed sharing the special day with us.

I am likely to post more pictures on Instagram and on my Facebook page as they become available.

Up-cycle for Winter

Upcycling a Classic Coat

I will show you how to up-cycle and simply sew to get a cosy classic coat, ready for the colder weather.

A coat can be an expensive garment to make, unless you up-cycle one you like the fabric of.

Here is my charity shop bargain, £3 for a wool navy coat, in very good condition.

bargain wool coat

I would love to be able to report that this “before” picture is really an “after weight loss” picture. However, my size has stayed the same but the coat was far too big, several sizes too big.

The material was good quality, a great colour for me, so worth some care and sewing. In fact, as the cost of material rises, I both buy, and advise others to buy, clothes that will provide fabric and haberdashery to use instead of buying new.

You may be interested to see how I up-cycled some denim jeans and some shirts to meke a lined tunic dress

Sometimes a £1 bargain rail charity shop, or car boot sale find will generate fabric, a zip and/or buttons. Extra—large cotton men’s shirts are a favourite up-cycle of mine for patchwork and crafting. It’s worth training your eyes to see pre-worn garments in a new light!

It’s much easier to take fabric away than to increase the size of a bargain!

This wool coat needed taking in by 12 inches, to have a fitted rather than sack like feel. After measuring, the first thing was to cut up the back of the lining to expose the coat’s construction.

Here is the maths:

The 12 inch reduction was then planned and divided:

4 inches by taking in the back seam by 2 inches

5 inches by taking in both side seams by 1.25 inches. (this was continued for the sleeve seams).

2 inches by creating 2 back darts, and 1 inch by moving the button position (the buttons were also replaced)

First some unpicking was needed:
The shoulder pads were removed
Either side of the bottom back and side seams

Either side of the top and bottom sleeve seams (armhole and cuff)

The seams were pinned and the new seam position marked with tailors chalk.

Because wool does not fray, straight stitch on my trusty Bernina
machine was used.

If the fabric had been one to fray, I would have considered using my overlocker (serger), to cut and finish the seam in one action.

After sewing the seams, they were trimmed to the original seam allowance, clipped in to the stich line and then pressed (with a steam iron on wool setting)

The lining was then taken in at the same places, except for the inside back.

The unpicked cuff, armhole and hem were then reattached to the lining, to complete the seam

The back darts were positioned, pinned and marked with chalk as shown.

After stitching, these were pressed towards the centre back seam.

The centre back lining cut was then taken in and with right sides together stitched, leaving a portion to allow it to be turned back so the inside main and inside lining seam were together. The gap was slip stitched together to close.

The new buttons were sewn on further in and the original buttons removed. You can up-cycle something from one garment to create further designer items!

To embellish the completed coat, I made a brooch which was attached with a brooch back.

The coat was brushed to remove threads and fluff, and then steamed to remove a stain and refresh both the fabric and lining.

The completed upcycled coat. 12 inches smaller.

up-cycled coat

I would love to hear of your up-cycling, please get in touch, or comment below.

Read more on getting cosy

Lottie Blouse Simple Sewing

In the Pink

I have been getting fine and fancy, well at least in my sewing room, making this Lottie Blouse.

Simple Sew have a great duo pattern pack of pencil skirt and blouse and I chose to get ready for Spring in pink.

Helen Moyes Designs Lottie Blouse & Skirt

Pink has been all over on the catwalks for SS17 which was great for me, as I had got some pink fabrics from my textile art group.

Simple Sew Lottie Blouse







If you would like to have this on trend Simple Sew pattern please get in touch

You can see my post on the Lottie skirt here

Silky Slippery Fabric

The fabric I used for this Lottie blouse is a lovely comfy, slightly stretchy silk blend. The downside from a sewing point of view is its a very slippery fabric! I won’t repeat my mutterings as I sewed, but will share how I dealt with this issue.

Helen Moyes Designs Lottie Blouse

For cutting out I avoided the use of pins, which can stretch fabric and leave holes in fine fabric, by using my pattern weights. I run workshops on making these or they can be found in my Etsy shop.

I also used a French rule and a rotary wheel cutter (along with a self healing cutting mat) for cutting out as This was much easier than scissors for this fine, slippy fabric.

Avoiding pins – using pattern weights

I did find the fabric layouts a little confusing, and there is only a 60″ wide fabric blouse layplan provided. My fabric was not this wide, so I used 1.9m of 45″ wide fabric, which worked out fine.

I also used a rule, along with carbon paper and a carbon tracing wheel for marking the dart position.

using a carbon tracing wheel for marking the dart position

The darts are the first thing to be sewn. With fine fabric, it is even more important to start the stitching at the narrowest part and not back stitch, but rather to hand tie a knot. This avoids bulky stitching showing on the right side of the blouse.

I also used my new fine Tulip pins. These are extra fine and short – ideal for fine fabrics and applique. I got these from another Yorkshire seamstress, Grace at Beyond Measure






For fine fabrics, use a finer, new needle. I used a 70 universal needle.

French Seams

Since the fabric frayed a lot and is slightly see through, I chose to use French seams, as all the raw edges of the fabric are enclosed and hidden.

Because this blouse pattern seam allowance is only 1cm, I made sure I cut the blouse on the generous side to allow for the French seams.

I do find it interesting that the French refer to this seam construction as “Coutures anglaises” – English seams!

A French seam is actually two seams, first starting with a 1cm seam allowance wrong fabric sides together, which is then trimmed and enclosed in a second seam right fabric sides together. Here is how you create this seam:

  • Place the wrong fabric sides together, and sew a 1cm seam. Then trim the seam allowance down to 4mm
  • Press this seam allowance to one side
  • Place the right sides of the fabric together and press
  • Now sew along the seamline with a 6mm seam allowance
  • Press this enclosed seam towards the back.


Bias Bound Neckline

Once the shoulders are joined with a French seam, the next stage is to bind around the bottom of the neckline on the front piece. This uses a strip of bias binding, cut on the diagonal – to the selvedge of the  fabric. This means the strip is stretchy to work on the curved neckline. I pinned  this on the right side of the neck , sewed, trimmed and then clipped to the stitching line on the curve.


Clipping seems scary but the worst thing that can happen is you cut through the stitching and need to re do some stitches!

I then turned the bias strip over to the wrong side and slip stiched  the free, folded edge to the stitch line.


The next step I did was to insert the sleeves.

By a row of running stitches between the notches I achieved a slightly gathered sleeve head is. As I wanted a French seam here as well, I did wrong sides together and then created the second seam as above.








Rolled Hem







I used the rolled hemmer foot on my machine to sew the Lottie blouse hem. This is tricky on slippery fabric. A spray starch can help. There is a helpful video tutorial on using this foot

I ended up with some missed sections despite unpicking and repeating. So I decided to finish with a hand stitched roled hem instead.







I did catch down the neck tie by hand as well, to hold it folded in place.

Although the Lottie blouse was tricky with the fine slippery fabric, I am really enjoying wearing it as It feels lovely next to my skin.

I have also used some spare to make a top to go under my lacy costume for my dance show







I would love to hear from you. Please comment, or contact me


Celebrating National Garlic Day

It’s national garlic day in the US, but I think it’s worth all of us celebrating the culinary, nutritional and medicinal uses of this pungent bulb!

Adding flavour to so many recipes, many of which I think would just not be the same without a little garlic. My hot broccoli dip recipe,  lemon & garlic chicken, hummus, and curries are a good examples.

If you want a vegetarian recipe, you can watch a film of me preparing one, and download my sweet potato curry recipe

When folk I am coaching say they don’t like the taste of garlic, I often suggest they try cooking with just one clove, and see what they think. Often it is the very strong garlic taste they find offensive and they will often like foods I demonstrate.
Sometimes folk report misinterpreting a recipe and using the whole bulb, or head of garlic rather than just one clove, or segment, taken from the split bulb!

The good: nutritional benefits of garlic

Garlic is low in calories and very rich in Vitamin C, Selinium, Vitamin B6, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid and vitamin E. It also contains trace amounts of other nutrients.

It has also been reported to reduce fat stores. Garlic stimulates the satiety hormone which reduces binge eating and sugar cravings and it releases the norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter which boosts metabolism.


The good: health benefits of garlic

Garlic contains antioxidants, notably allicin, helps to prevent and reduce the severity of common illnesses like the flu and common cold. An ingredient in Dale Pinnock’s flu fighter soup, which also containts lot of other health giving ingredients and is also a great base for curries.

Garlic is claimed to help prevent heart disease. High doses of garlic appear to improve blood pressure of those with known high blood pressure (hypertension). Garlic supplementation also seems to reduce total and LDL cholesterol, particularly in those who have high cholesterol.

Antioxidants  protect against cell damage and ageing. It may reduce the risk of cancer and dementia.

It is most therapeutic when crushed and then diced. You should not heat it for too long or important nutrients are damaged. Consider how you can addapt your cooking, adding garlic towards the end . It’s most potent when eaten raw, such as in guacamole, hummus or salad dressings. Some recommend chewing garlic raw!

If you don’t like the taste or the after whif, then it is worth taking odorless garlic supplements. However, do not take garlic supplements if you take blood-thinning medication,  have stomach ulcers or a thyroid condition. It may interact with some prescription medicines, including insulin, anti-viral drugs, anti-inflammatory medicines and certain contraceptives so discuss garlic supplementations with your doctor.

The good: beauty benefits of garlic

Rub a sliced clove of garlic on acne and cold sores for an effective topical treatment.

Infuse oil with garlic and massage it into your scalp to help combat hair loss, or onto skin to help with psoriasis.

Soak feet in a bowl of warm water and crushed garlic to relieve athlete’s foot.

Place a slice of garlic over a splinter of wood in your skin and covering it with a dressing.

Mosquitoes can be kept at bay by garlic

I have found garlic to be an easy garden crop. Several of the photos are from a visit to the garlic farm who supply smoked, black and even Elephant garlic for cooking as well as garlic to sow.

The bad: garlicky smell

Garlic is known for causing bad breath (halitosis), and causing sweat to have a pungent “garlicky” smell. The sulfurous compounds are absorbed into the bloodstream, and exit the body through the lungs and skin.

So, if like me you like what garlic brings to food as well as the likely health benefits, what can we do to cut down on the garlic breath phenomena?

If you want to be intimate with someone, then make sure they consume garlic too. The only time garlic breath bothers my husband or I is if one of us has consumed garlic and the other one hasn’t!

There is the mechanical removal of the garlic particles from our mouth by brushing and flossing teeth, as well as tongue scraping. Here are numerous suggestions to cover up or neutralize the garlic compounds.

  • My favourite is Parsley – using recipes that also use parsley and chew on parsley after eating garlic, if I am concerned about my breath.
  • Cardamom, mint, fennel, cloves, anise seeds
  • Studies conducted at Ohio State University have shown that drinking milk, especially higher fat milk can reduce garlic breath.
  • Lemon – Lemon is very effective in neutralizing the garlic odor. Some suggest sucking on a lemon wedge after eating garlic, but I prefer a slice of lemon in hot water to drink! Also washing your hands with lemon juice helps to remove the odor from your hands.
  •  Tea, especially green and peppermint, contain polyphenols that reduce the volatile sulfur compounds that the garlic produces.


The bad: possible bloating

Garlic contains fructo-oligosaccharides, short chain carbohydrates, commonly referred to as fructans. Humans do not have enzymes to break down oligosaccharides which mean gut bacteria ferment them, possibly leading to irritable bowel syndrome symptoms.

Are you on a FODMAP diet and avoid garlic? Since fructans are not oil soluble,  you can buy garlic infused oil, or make your own at the start of cooking. Using whole garlic cloves, sautee the garlic with coconut oil in a pan for 20 minutes at medium  temperature. Remove the garlic and then cook the rest of your meal with the infused oil. The oil  infused with garlic should be use immediately. Throw away any leftovers – something you rarely hear me say – to avoid the slight risk of a bacterium called Clostridium Botulinum.

Not all IBS sufferers, or indeed fructan sensitive people, are sensitive to garlic, so test  in the  reintroduction phase of the FODMAP diet to see if you can add small amounts back in.


I would love to hear about how you celebrate national garlic day – please leave a comment below


Replacement Cover – Ironing Board Hack

I show you that creating a replacement cover for an ironing board is quick, easy and inexpensive.

I love the convenience of my Ikea JALL table ironingboards which I use in the guest room and in my textile workshops. It was the Simple Sew Sheffield launch which made me stocktake and realise that one ironingboard was really not fit to be seen in public. I’m not sure I really want to “bare all” and show you how tatty it had got here, but in true before and after style, I have decided I will.

ironing board hack BEFORE

Not a pretty sight heh?

Replacement Cover

Ikea sell replacement covers for their larger ironing boards but not for the table ironingboard.  I am really into up-cycling rather than replacing so I set about investigating how to make a replacement cover.

Going to my fabric stash I found a piece of cotton just the right size. It was a remmenant I was offered very cheaply at Economy Fabrics. This project needs 90 x 40 cm of fabric.


Taking the existing cover off, I found the wadding still usable and used it as a pattern, adding 5cm all around

Using the wadding as a pattern

I decided to improve on the single wadding and added some Insul Bright heat resistant wadding. This wadding feels more like felt and contains heat-resistant properties, often Mylar fibre which is used in the space programme.  It is ideal for such projects as place mats, cool bags, tea cosies etc. where it is important to keep things hot, keep them cold or protect surfaces from extreme temperatures.

I was glad I did add this extra wadding as the board is not only more padded and so nicer to use, pressing seems quicker too. In order to prevent the two layers of wadding sliding around I sewed them together using a large zig zag stitch.

sewing wadding layers together

Binding the Cover

I used pink bias binding, to edge and create a casing to thread some cord through.

I often make my own binding but for speed I used some matching bought binding I had in my stash. This project used 1.8m of binding and 2 m of cord.

adding bias binding

Open out the binding and place right side to the wrong side of the fabric, on the edge of the cut out cover fabric. Sew along the fold line. This makes it easy to then turn over to the right side  and sew along the egde to secure and form the casing. before turning over the binding and sewing the second line of stitching, clip the seam around the curved parts so that the cover will lie flat.

clipping the curves

Finishing the replacement cover

I used a safety pin attached to one end of the new cord to thread it through the pink casing I had made.

threading new cord through the casing

Make sure you secure the other end though! You may be able to reuse the existing cord, but mine had weakened too much.

To complete this hack, just lay the cover face down, place the wadding on top (of the wrong side) and then lay the iron board on top. Pull up the cord so the cover gathers up to fit the ironing board. Tie the ends of the cord together.

And voilla, you have made a replacement cover and a good as new, or even better, ironing board.

ironing board hack after – back

ironing board hack after – front

If this blog post inspires you to investigate updating worn out items, I would love to hear about your projects.

UpCycled Denim Annika Tunic Dress

Dressmaking Pattern

The Anneka Tunic Simple Sew pattern is very versatile, and can be made up in a variety of fabrics, but this time I chose to make it from upcycled denim with shirts for the optional lining.

Shirt detail and orange satin stitching (to match the jeans seams) add styling. Three jeans pockets made the new outfit even more practical for me.

I am teaching courses in Dressmaking with this being one of the possible pattern choices, and as a Simple Sew Stockest, can also supply the pattern for you to use at home, so please get in touch for more details.

anneka-patternUpcycle Denim

Much hard wearing denim remains when jeans are discarded. My family provides heaps of fabric and charity shops are also good sources. Often it is worth asking if they have any that has not been put out, which may be even cheaper. If jeans are not of a fashionable style or if shirts have some wear or staining (which we can cut out) they may not have been but out on display.

helen-moyes-up-cycle-Annika Tunic-before-medium


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI used a buttoned back pocket from one pair of jeans as a breast pocket, and a loop I liked from the back of a shirt added some extra detailing to the upcycled denim.


This dress can be worn over leggings and a top in winter and the front and back pleats give lots of movement for a busy lifestyle. I did extend the stitching on both pleats down further than marked on the pattern. This was more flatterning but still gives me plenty of movement.


Bias Binding

I used a comfortable soft brushed cotton pyjama top to make bias binding for the neck and arm edges. Then there is no discomfort from upcycled denim rubbing at your neck or underarms! This also conveniently binds the outer and lining layers together.

Joining Lining Using Bias Binding

Joining Lining Using Bias Binding


Hand Finishing Binding

Hand Finishing Binding

When I tried on the lining for size before joining the layers, I liked it so much I think I will make a shirting dress for summer. What do you think?

Helen Moyes Designs Simple Sew Annika Tunik in Upcycled Shirts

If you haven’t tried upcycling clothes in this way, it involves choosing parts of garments you want to use. You sew these together to form a patchwork large enough to lay on your pattern pieces.

Join pieces right sides together with a 1.5 cm seam allowance.


Patchwork with Shirts for Annika Tunic

Patchwork with Shirts for Annika Tunic


I then like using pinking scissors on cotton fabric seams to stop fraying. But you can use a zig zag stitch instead. Press seams open, and cut each piece straight before adding the next piece.


It is worth thinking about where you want certain pieces to be as you work, and the mix of pattern and colour. Upcycled denim has so much variety.

Helen Moyes Designs upcycled Annika Tunic back detail

Helen Moyes Designs upcycled Annika Tunic.

You can see here, I also added a small dart (on outer and lining) as I found the armhole gaped a little. It is worth regularly trying pieces against you, and trying the garment on, as you make them up to check for fit. I was able to make this adjustment before adding the binding. So I now know I need to do this for this pattern to fit me well.

Helen Moyes Designs – A custom made, re-purposed  designer dress for the cost of some thread!

You  might be interested in reading more about upcycling in my previous blog/happy-upcycling-day.

The Annika Tunic is also great in wool and can look very 60’s, similar to a Mary Quant dress.


anneka-tunic-check anneka-tunic-tweed-jpg

If you would like the Annika Tunic pattern, it comes printed on quality paper with clear A4 instructions.  Please get in touch