Monthly Archives: July 2017

Anyone for Margaritas? New free pattern!

We’re taking our summer break soon, so there will be a break from pattern-making until the end of the summer… but we’re not leaving you at a loss for your next sewing project! While we’re away, we hope you will enjoy our latest free pattern, Margarita!

Margarita is a skirt for women, designed as always for knit/ jersey fabrics. As a summer skirt, a cotton jersey Margarita is the easiest thing to wear with a t-shirt, and for the cooler seasons you can sew it up in ponte or scuba to wear with tights.

Margarita came about because earlier this summer I mentioned to Rich that I’d love a quarter-circle skirt with a wide waistband, and later that day I found him sticking together PDF pages because he’d just drafted me one! It was a perfect fit and such a quick and simple sew, that we decided to grade it into a proper Valentine & Stitch pattern so you could all enjoy it!

Action shot! (If “walking” counts as an action)

I’ve made a few of these skirts now: the summer version is in cotton jersey, and as you can see it pairs very well with a tucked-in Dune top! It’s comfy but still looks put together, and will keep you nice and cool on warmer days! The cooler weather version is made up here in scuba. You may remember an earlier outing for this fabric, in my much-admired but rarely worn McCalls dress. I loved the fabric but wasn’t sure I was comfortable in it as one solid block on the dress… but I had just enough left over to try a Margarita! And I’m so unbelievably happy with this skirt – I feel much more comfortable with this bold fabric being used for a separate, and it works really well with a plain black t-shirt. It will be perfect for a smart winter wardrobe.

I’ve also tried adding elastic into the waistband of the lighter jersey version, to give a bit more support over the tummy. This is a super-simple method detailed in the instruction booklet, and it ends up looking like this on the inside:

You can see it in action here in my beloved Paparounes fabric!

(Weird body-pop angle in the first pose. Clearly solved by bending forwards for the next one.)

Plus this one matches the Daisy skirt I made for my daughter, so it gets the thumbs up from her too.

I’ll be checking in on Instagram over the next few weeks to keep up with Sleevefest, and we have some more sleeve hack tutorials prepared to post while we’re off – in the meantime, hope you all have a wonderful summer, doing lots of whatever makes you happy!

OOPS!!! Margarita coming on Friday!

Well, that was a technical blooper! I was just editing a new post to advertise a free pattern we’re releasing on Friday, and I managed to publish it instead of updating it. Sorry to all those who subscribe to the blog via email – please ignore the message you’ve received with the new post; you’ll get it properly on Friday, along with details of how to download the pattern! But since you’ve already had a sneak peek, let me just publish one here for everyone: this is Margarita!

Margarita is a cute, comfy, simple skirt designed for knit fabrics, and can be yours for free as of this Friday!

We’ll be back then with all the details. Sorry once again for posting too soon – hope you will forgive the extra message when you get your hands on Margarita!!

Introducing Daisy!

Our new pattern for girls is here! Daisy is a girls’ skirt for knit fabrics with four different options: you can make it as a half circle skirt or a quarter circle skirt, at mini length or midi length. And my favourite part about Daisy is that it is compatible with our free Loulou shorties, so you can combine it with those to make a skort!

Daisy comes in two different age ranges: 2-10 and 7-14. There is a deliberate overlap so that whichever you purchase, you can get several years’ use out of it! You can also buy both sizes together as a bundle at a discounted price.

All the Daisy skirts I have made so far have been summer ones, as that’s the season we’re currently in at the moment in the UK – so all of mine have the shorties underneath. I love the peace of mind that comes with putting my daughter in shorties, and when you can attach them to the skirt you just have one waistband, reducing bulk! Daisy would also look good in a thicker fabric with tights for the winter, and if you don’t need to include the shorties then it’s about as quick a sew as you can possibly make!

The half circle skirt version is floaty and full of movement: make it in the midi length and it’s a cute, sophisticated separate. I so badly wish I’d bought more of this fabric as it’s now out of stock!

The mini length is lots of fun for your little lady, and makes a stylish alternative to shorts in the summer. I made this one in a supersoft baroque style cotton jersey from Girl Charlee – their Bolt range is a little more expensive, but comes pre-washed so is perfect for a quick sew!

The quarter circle skirt has a lovely silhouette in the midi length, and still offers plenty of room for running around, as you can see from these photos! The fabric is my beloved Paparounes by Katarina Roccella for Art Gallery Fabrics.

And the mini length quarter circle skirt reminds me of tennis skirts, especially with the shorties underneath! Very practical but still feminine. This one is in another Girl Charlee fabric, a soft mint gingham (and sorry I don’t have any photos of this version in action – my daughter loves her floral skirt the best and that’s the one she keeps asking for!)

Like all our patterns, we have tiled Daisy carefully by hand to ensure it takes up the fewest possible number of pages. You will need 12 A4 sheets for all 4 skirts in ages 2-10, and 17 A4 sheets for all 4 skirts in age 7-14. A print layout is included in the instruction booklet.

We hope you will love Daisy for the little girl in your life, and use this pattern again and again!




Dune meets Sleevefest! Free bonus sleeve hack pattern piece

To celebrate both #sleevefest2017 and the release of Dune, we have created a basic sleeve piece for Dune, that you can hack and adapt however you choose!

First read Rich’s note on the basic sleeve:

It’s important to mention that this sleeve is not meant to be added to Dune without any alterations! It is a basic straight sleeve designed to fit into the armscye of Dune, but then you can get creative with the rest of it! It is a block – a basic version of a garment (or here, a part of a garment), which you then alter. It’s important to remember that a block is not a sloper – this is a very close-fitting version of a garment, to which then you need to add ease (space so that you can move freely) and make any alterations you want to make.

Important points to think about in designing your sleeve are length, fit (along the arm and at the wrist) and shape. It’s also important to make the sleeve fit the armscye correctly, but we’ve taken care of that for you J. We’d also like to point out a few more things about the pattern piece so you can get the most out of it. Notice that the sleeve is quite loose at the wrist, and so think about the fit you want there. Also, it is a straight line from the bottom of the armscye to the wrist, meaning that it will be quite loose fitting along the length of the arm too, so you could think about bringing that line in. It is completely fine to do this as a curve – if you are doing this, bear in mind that you will probably want a tighter curve at the armscye, to bring the line in to your arm quite quickly.

So, get to know your sleeve, and then let your imagination run free! 

To give you some ideas, we are offering a series of tutorials using the Dune top and the new sleeve piece, and we start off with floaty flared sleeves! Just go to the ‘Patterns’ tab in the menu bar, then click on ‘Tutorials’, and then on ‘sleeve hack tutorials’. All of the tutorials will work for almost any sleeve, but I’ll be working with Dune to show you how to do the hacks. Hope they’ll kick-start some new ideas for Sleevefest!

You can also check out my blog posts on Sleevefest and on Dune for more inspiration!

Have fun with your sleeves!


Dune top and maxi dress

Dune is here! And I’m even writing the blog post to accompany it on the day of the actual launch. That’s a first 😉

If you read my recent blog post about drafting Dune, you’ll know that we were heading towards the 6th version and I thought that would be the final one. Nope. It was the 9th. At least, I think it was, we made so many of them over the course of that fortnight that there might have been more! We weren’t making big changes: it was the combination of getting the kick hem exactly right and making sure there was the right amount of fabric in the back (not pulling across the lower back, but still fitted). We’re talking a few millimetres difference in each draft, but the 6th, 7th and 8th drafts came and went and it still wasn’t perfect. You know what they say, the ninth’s a charm 😉

We were still on the 8th version when we made the dress option. Happily, all the modifications we’d already made to the top came into their own and that one was just as we imagined it straight away! The only issue was that it was the perfect length unhemmed, and so we went back and added an inch to the length to take the seam allowance into account.

So, Dune is a maxi dress! I was so excited and nervous about that. I have never worn a maxi dress before, I always feel swamped in them, and find they just hang down from the hips and make me look the width of my hips all the way to the floor. So what we wanted from this was for it to be fitted to the waist, then gently flow to the ankles without being too voluminous. I tried this on and couldn’t believe how good I felt in it. And then the reaction from the lovely IG sewing community when I posted a toile was just amazing, so it felt like the right decision! This one was made from a lovely soft cotton jersey from Girl Charlee. Here are some shots of maxi Dune in action, so you can see the swishiness of the dress:

Because it’s important to get the length just right on a maxi dress, Rich has written a tutorial for you to make sure that your Dune maxi is just perfect for you: Look for ‘Maxi dress length’ under the ‘Tutorials’ tab in the ‘Patterns’ section of the menu bar; do have a look if you’re planning to make the maxi version!

Of course the basic version of Dune is a summer tank top. As you might know from my last post and the pics I’ve posted on Instagram, we wanted to create a sleeveless summer top that would be flattering and fitted while still leaving enough room to have an ice cream or two! Dune has a subtle cutaway at the shoulder to flatter the top line, but will still cover bra straps. It has both a higher neck option and a scoop neck variation, and a pretty kick hem that has a slimming effect on the legs.

We recommend that you choose a fairly lightweight fabric for Dune, to keep that floatiness over the hips in the top and over the legs in the dress. It will work in a heavier or stiffer fabric, though the effect at the hem will be more structured (but hey, you may prefer that!) You can see in the green floral version above that I used a more stable fabric (polycotton blend, again from Girl Charlee) and it still has some drape, but is slightly more structured at the hem.

Practising my “looking off into the distance” pose 😉

The finishings of the neck and arms are done with bands, which you can either sew up as invisible bands or exposed/ contrasting ones. The method in the instruction booklet makes the bands up into a circle first and then attaches them to the neckline/ arm hole, but if you are a beginner and want a slightly easier method, check out the second tutorial we’ve created, ‘Alternative binding method’ (also under ‘Patterns’ then ‘Tutorials’ on the website), for an alternative way to do the finishings!

The instruction booklet now has a new feature too: a print layout, and a clear indication of how many sheets of paper you will need. We will be doing this for all our patterns from now on!

We hope you will love Dune this summer. And, just in case you wondered why the co-host of Sleevefest is releasing a sleeveless pattern… we will be offering a free sleeve bonus download that you can customise any way you like, PLUS tutorials for how to hack it to create different looks! So watch out for those…

So I’ll leave you with a gallery of different angles. We hope you’ll love Dune as much as we do! Till next time, thanks for reading!


7 talented ladies and their Angelinas!

Today I’m here to show you the gorgeous things some very talented seamstresses have been doing with our Angelina pattern! Every time someone posts a photo of a Valentine & Stitch garment I get such a thrill, it’s the best feeling! If ever I stop feeling that thrill, you may kick me. Or just gently remind me to take pleasure in it again. I don’t think that feeling will stop, though, so hopefully I should remain bruise-free 😉

So I wanted to show you what some of these lovely ladies have been making with Angelina, including ways they have tweaked the pattern to make it a reflection of their style. Shall we start with the dress?

Kelly made this beautiful sleeveless Angelina with a textured mauve fabric. It’s a perfect summer dress, and she chose to keep the neckband t-shirt style rather than sew it down – it makes for such a great casual look with her Avarcas shoes from Mallorca, and I love knowing that she’s lighting up the streets of LA in her Angelina!

You can read Kelly’s blog post about her Angelina dress here! She has some gorgeous photos of both the finished garment and the construction method, and she talks through the pattern and her style choices.

Another solid colour Angelina dress is this knockout bright pink one that Janet made for a friend of hers. A perfect choice of colour to stand out this summer, but still remain elegant! Janet chose the short flutter sleeves, and the whole silhouette of this dress is just gorgeous. What a perfect dress to make for a friend, I hope she will love wearing it this summer! A little birdie told me that Janet has some of this glorious fabric left over too, so there may be a top on its way soon! Janet blogs here, if you want to follow her sewing stories!

Maxine also went for the dress version, and used a lightweight Aztec print ponte from Girl Charlee for the perfect beach dress (she was featured in their ‘June Knit picks’ round-up with this dress! You might spot another familiar face in there too ;))

Maxine did the short flutter sleeves, and a slightly shorter hemline (I think this would also look great over cropped white leggings in the cooler weather!) Plus she added a waist tie in the same fabric, which gives a lovely shape and definition. And did you notice? More Avarcas, from Menorca this time! You can follow Maxine’s dressmaking journey here.

Onto the top! The first sewist to post pics of Angelina on Instagram was @violaisabelle6. She has so far made THREE Angelina tops for her lovely daughter, all with the short flutter sleeves! She lowered the neckline slightly, and has finished the sleeves with a rolled hem and a lettuce hem.

These tops need to stand up to some physical tests as they will be worn at camp this summer – I’m happy to report they got the thumbs up!!

If you follow Lynsey on Instagram, you’ll know she usually goes for beautiful floral prints, but she chose a plain pale pink for her Angelina top, and look how elegant it is! She too chose the short sleeves, and this fabric has such a lovely drape that the sleeves could not be more perfect. Lynsey also lowered the neckline and lengthened the neckband to fit, and I really like the effect it has, especially in that dreamy fabric. You may also know that I have a soft spot for anything pink, so this top got all the heart eyes from me!

And now for my partner in crime for Sleevefest, Diane! Diane is the first person to have gone for the elbow length sleeves, as she says in her blog post here, she wanted All. The. Flounce! You can read Diane’s blog for more details about her Angelina, and of course those sleeves!

The solid colour of this fabric combined with its beautiful drape really shows off the floatiness of the sleeves, and offers maximum swishiness. Diane also lowered the neckline a couple of inches, and raised the sleeve cap to better suit her style.

OK, that was going to be the end of my round-up, but then literally as I was writing, this gorgeous photo popped up on my Instagram feed! Hayley made a DOUBLE FLUTTER SLEEVE Angelina as an entry for Sleevefest! Her navy bandana fabric is also from Girl Charlee UK, it’s a rayon blend and has a beautiful drape, and just look at the lace finishing on the sleeve hems! What a great idea, and a super top. I also just remembered to update my title in honour of Hayley’s Angelina – it went out as ‘6 ladies’, but now they are the Magnificent Seven 😉

Aren’t they all gorgeous? It has been an absolute delight to see these Angelinas and to talk about them, and to see all the different ways these fabulous ladies are using the pattern. Thank you to all of them for allowing me to feature them on the blog! I can’t wait to see what they all make next 🙂

Sewing jeans: Ginger and Morgan (Closet Case Patterns)

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If you follow me on Instagram you’ll already know that I love making jeans. I started making my own earlier this year, when I noticed that all my RTW jeans seemed to be giving up the ghost simultaneously, like they’d all decided together that they wanted to retire en masse. In fairness to my jeans, they were all purchased circa 2009-10, so apart from my two pregnancies when they got a bit of a rest, they had been working very hard for quite some time.

First off I just tried to find new ones. I don’t know whether styles have changed since I last bought jeans, or whether I’m just more picky about fit now that I sew for myself, but nothing felt great. So I decided to take the plunge and buy a couple of patterns I’d had my eye on for some time: The Ginger skinny jeans and the Morgan boyfriend jeans by Closet Case Patterns.

I made my first pair of Ginger skinnies before I used social media, so I don’t have any photos of the construction process, but this is the finished result:

This is the low rise fit with no alterations, so I was pretty chuffed as you can imagine. If you’re planning on making jeans, set aside some time: I’d say these took me about 9 hours in total (though my later ones have gone together a bit quicker as I’m used to the instructions now). The one thing I regretted was having interfaced the waistband: the instructions recommend it for the high rise version, but leave it up to you for the low rise version. Well, it was like having a band of steel round my abdomen every time I sat down (in case there is any doubt, this is not my preferred fit ;)). So I unpicked the waistband and ordered some new denim to make another, skipping the interfacing. That worked much better, though I ran out of topstitching thread so thought I’d just hammer the button on and then redo the topstitching another time… what a fool! You can’t topstitch once the button is on, and you can’t remove the button. So my first pair of jeans are wearable but have an odd-looking only-topstitched-along-the-bottom-edge waistband, so I try to wear them only with longer length tops (note strategic angle of this pic!) They are also a little tight fitting at the back of the knee (you can just see a bit of wrinkling in the photo), so I find that after a whole day wearing them I quite look forward to taking them off.

You can see that they don’t have much give over the knees, though I’m happy to report that so far no stitching has popped open when I move around!

Lesson noted for the next pair of Gingers…

The next jeans I tried were the more relaxed fitting Morgan boyfriend jeans. Again, they fitted straight out of the packet, and I like them even more than the Gingers (which is high praise indeed!) I made this Capri version out of gorgeous organic denim by Amandine Cha.

it’s fully reversible and I do slightly prefer the darker side (which you can see in the turnups), but I made these using the lighter side because I’d already made my husband a pair of shorts in the darker side and didn’t want to go all “Howard and Hilda”…

This still makes me laugh 30 years on! To see Howard and Hilda in all their matchy-matchy splendour, look for old videos of “Ever Decreasing Circles” on YouTube 🙂

The mistake I made was with the buttons. I hadn’t clocked this with the Gingers as they have a zip fly, so I hammered in my jeans buttons to correspond to the centre of the buttonhole, as I would with ordinary buttons. But because there’s so much pressure pulling on the buttons, this makes the fly gape a little. At first I didn’t realise this was the issue, I thought I must have just gained a little weight!! So I didn’t realise I should rectify it for my second pair, which followed quite swiftly:

I’m ambivalent about these ones, but take full responsibility for my own ambivalence: the pattern calls for denim with no stretch, but I had a length of the stretch denim left after my second waistband attempt, and so I thought it might make for a super-comfy pair of jeans if I used the stretch denim on the boyfriend cut. Well, it does, they are indeed super-comfy, but they’re also not the most flattering, as they just look a bit too big (you can see it more on the photo of the back). BUT, how gorgeous is the red topstitching?

And I couldn’t resist playing around with one of the decorative stitches on my machine for the back pocket detail. I attached the buttons as I had done the previous time, and again there was that gaping at the fly, even though the jeans were actually quite roomy on me. And the penny finally dropped (OK OK, what I really mean is I showed it to my husband and he explained it to me): the buttons need to be attached at the furthest point of the buttonhole in order to sit perfectly.

This is the face of someone who spent ages getting a fly perfectly installed, only to hammer the buttons in the wrong place.

So onwards to the next pair of Gingers, armed with all the lessons learned.

When I finally got round to starting these, I couldn’t remember whether I’d cut out Gingers or Morgans! Turned out the jeans were Gingers and the pockets were Morgans. I still have no idea why.

For this pair I reduced the seam allowance around the knee to 3/8”, and it has given me plenty of ease to wear them comfortably all day.

I also went for red topstitching again (thanks to some encouragement from my Instafriends!), and although in the end I couldn’t use that lovely faux leather trim, I did get happy with the rivets:

Is it just me, or does it feel a bit wrong to spend hours making a garment and then punch holes in it so that you can poke your rivets through?!

I also decided to assemble and attach the waistband with a 3/8” seam allowance, as on my other pair I did notice a little bit of hip splurge, and let’s face it, no-one needs to see that. So it was a bit of a punt, but I gave it a go and I’m so unbelievably happy with this tiny modification! The rise is just perfect for me. The one thing I wish I’d done is put two buttons on the waistband (one above the other) since it’s now 1/2″ deeper, so that’ll be how I do the next pair. At least I got the button placement right, finally!

Hello, most favourite jeans ever!

Also, my favourite little tip for the waistband: as is usually the case with turning out a point, the instructions advise you to snip diagonally across the corner, making sure that you don’t cut into the stitches. But just before I sewed this waistband, I was pulling down my favourite pair of RTW jeans and I noticed something (I’m not the only one who inspects RTW clothing to see how it’s constructed, you all do that too right?!):

That’s what a RTW buttonhole looks like after 9 years of tireless service 😉

See that bulge in each corner, that looks square-shaped? That’s not a clipped-off corner, that’s all the seam allowance folded over inside the waistband corner. So I thought I’d give it a go, as I’m always quite nervous about how long those clipped corners will last before they start fraying. Plus this would involve no cutting or sewing, so the worst that could happen was that it wouldn’t work and I just would follow the instructions.

So I sewed the waistband and waistband lining right sides together as instructed, but then instead of clipping the corner, I grabbed hold of it with the thumb and forefinger of one hand, turned the waistband right side out with the other, and used my point turner to get the insides sitting flat and the corner looking neat. And it worked! I don’t know how this would work on a point that isn’t a right angle, but I’m so pleased with it as a little trick for this (or any) waistband. No need to worry about cutting too close to the stitches or about the corner fraying!


If you look very closely in this pic, you can see that the top of the waistband above the button flips outwards a bit – hence my desire to put two buttons on next time. I”m sure it won’t be long before I’m making Ginger #3…


But for now, the next stop in my jeans adventure is the Jalie Eléonore pull-on jeans. I’m really excited to try a different style, and will report back soon on how that goes!

I’ve finally washed my fabric. It’s all crinkly now and needs a good press. Photo taken of unwashed and unwrinkled stretch denim in all its glory.

Thanks for reading my adventures in sewing jeans, have a great end of the week and till soon!

We’re now on Bloglovin’!

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This is Rich, on one of my rare outings onto the blog! Following up on comments from some of you, this is just a quick post to let you all know that you can now follow our blog through Bloglovin’- just click on the link above if you have an account with them (and if not, signing up is as simple as can be, and it’s a great place to find and follow blogs about sewing and much more!).

Right now though, I’m going to get back to finishing the pattern sheet for Dune – I’m very excited! I’m also working on a sleeve-related tutorial for all of you taking part in Sleevefest – more about that later in the summer…