Off The Cuff

I’ve reached a point in my life where I no longer have a ‘work wardrobe’ and an ‘outside-of-work’ wardrobe. When I was younger (ha! I sound so old lol) I had suit trousers, corporate looking tops, and even nice shoes (with HEELS – shock horror), which of course were super uncomfortable to walk in. Most of that stuff I hated (and has since been donated) and now, if I can’t wear my jeans, T-shirt and trainers to the workplace, I ain’t working there ?

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For the job I have now (I work in finance, for anyone out there that’s new here!), I attended my interview in the sneakers I wore for work that day, which was a BIG thing for me – it’s taken a long while to reach the point of being that comfortable. But now I’m here, I ain’t leaving. Ever. I mean yeah, there is a line – I don’t wear my ‘I am Groot’ T-shirt to the office (it’s awesome though – it has dancing baby Groot on the front), or my sweatpants (people do to Aaron’s workplace, tho), but everything else is fair game ??‍♀️

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You rarely see a guy in a shirt in my office, and if he’s stupid enough to come over-dressed like that he’s usually subjected to a continuing stream of quips of ‘are you due in court later or what mate?’, and you certainly wouldn’t dream of rocking up in a suit. The Finance Director – dad of two in his fifties – can regularly be found in his hoodie. I’m fortunate to work in advertising, which is much less ‘corporate’ than a lot of industries out there – but now, I can’t ever go back to dressing up as someone I’m not for a job. Which probably means that I’ll be in advertising for the rest of my working life ?

I remember when I started out making clothes, and it was ‘do you think I can wear this for work? Is it dull/sensible enough?’ But now, there’s just one set of clothes, that gets shared between workdays and weekends ???

I ‘ve been on a bit of a roll recently with the Grainline Scout tees (which get worn to work all the time) but as fabulous as they are, nobody wants to wear the same thing EVERY DAMN DAY FOREVER AND EVER. I needed some different tops in my life, but let’s be real – how many variations of a T-shirt are there?!

I looked at other possible patterns – some shirts, but more casual ones. I didn’t want anything too formal. The Kalle shirt, by Closet Case Patterns, was bought – but as yet remains unmade. I’m still trying to choose a fabric. I think that I need to have something with a bit of drape in it, to avoid it looking realllllly boxy on me – I feel like there’s potential for it to look like a sack with the wrong fabric.


I’ve been meaning to sew another Deer and Doe Melilot ever since I made the first one – but I needed a cooling-off period because the first one just WENT SO BADLY. Ok so it was partly the fabric choice  – the cats are pretty, but not really me. And salmon pink? ? Not sure what I was thinking there, tbh.

Deer and Doe Melilot blouse

Pretty gross, huh?

That one went into the charity bag. It was also quite poor size-wise – I’d not graded out at the hips when I really should have done. I cut a 38 all over, which worked at the bust but didn’t quite stretch around my hips. When I checked the measurements before cutting the second one, my hips fell squarely between the 40 and 42 (but nearer to the 40) so I’ve no idea why I didn’t grade the first time around – I’m not sure I really considered grading at that early stage in my sewing life, so it probably never occurred to me to do it.

You live and learn, eh.

The collar was also another drama with this shirt – I like my collars to meet in the middle, squarely above the collar stand, but this one didn’t. Wasnt’ even close. whether that’s sloppy matching on my part, or sloppy cutting (or both) or the pattern just wasn’t designed that way I’m not sure, but I was left really underwhelmed with the whole experience and the finished garment.

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But – when I was browsing patterns to see what I could add to my wardrobe, this one came back to the front of my mind. Perhaps I’d give it another go. If I graded it properly and used a nicer fabric, maybe this time around I’d be happier… ?

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I picked up a few 1m cut pieces in the Liberty sale that I happened to stumble across one day when I was in the city (by accident, HONEST), with the aim of making some summer tops – hopefully, some shirts, if I could manage to eke them out of the limited yardage that I had. I browsed patterns online, trying to find some nice ones that didn’t look like they took too much fabric – but didn’t really come up with much.

The Melilot it was. I already had the pattern, so there was no excuse not to, really, and it wasn’t like I was drowning in other choices.

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The Melilot is a casual shirt with dropped shoulders, which can be made with either long sleeves, or short sleeves with a cuff. You can choose to add the rounded collar, or leave it off and have a mandarin collar instead. It also has… drumroll please… BUST DARTS. If you’ve followed my epic pursuit of A Shirt That Fits Me Well you’ll know that I’ve been looking for something without bust darts, because I don’t like breaking up prints, but I think I might have lost that battle.

After the shambles of the salmon-cat first attempt, I retraced the front and back bodice pieces with a size 38 at the bust transitioning to a 40 at the hips (which is what I should have done before). I also retraced the collar stand, just in case my last one was a bit sloppy. All the pieces fitted on the fabric, with a teeny little bit to spare. I didn’t cut the pockets, yet – I cut them for the first one I made (the one that ended up in the charity bag) and in the end left them off the finished shirt because I didn’t like them. So this time, I was gonna make the shirt and THEN see if I want to add the pockets afterwards because I wasn’t sure if I didn’t like the pockets because I really didn’t like the pockets or because I didn’t like the shirt. I figured this way, I wouldn’t cut into the remaining fabric for nothing – not that there was much left, mind you.

The Melilot is actually a really quick sew, with good instructions as always from Deer and Doe. The inside is nicely finished with French seams, which makes me SO happy – I hate it when designers cop out on the finishing, especially when seams could so easily be enclosed. I got the whole shirt (minus the pockets) out of the 1m piece of fabric, which is about 52 inches wide.

The cuffs are super easy to attach, and they are finished cleanly on the inside ??

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The hem, as always, got hit with the bias tape. I don’t care that it’s a curvy hem and therefore there are slight tucks at the corners of the hips where the bias doesn’t quite work (which is why they don’t tell you to do to it that way in the instructions). They’re tiny, and I really don’t care ?

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I used up some vintage buttons that’d I’d previously put on a dress that I made verrrry early in my sewing days, which was hideous. The buttons were so pretty that I salvaged them off the dress before slinging it out – they are a mother-of-pearl finish. They are white though, which is strange for me – usually, I don’t really gravitate towards that colour, but there’s something about them (the rainbow shiny-ness?) that draws me in.

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I’m not really sure how I feel about the finished shirt, though. I think it’s the fabric – I’m not that keen. I liked it better as fabric, rather than a shirt on me. I’m not particularly in love with that green splodge on the front, but as the fabric space was super limited, pattern matching or fussy cutting just wasn’t on the table. The shirt itself is actually okay – the fit is WAY better than that previous shambles that I made, and I think I’d give it another go in a different fabric. I even don’t mind so much the rounded collar – usually, I’d go for proper sharp, pointy collars, but this one is alright. Perhaps I’m getting soft in my old age. I like the way it looks with my high-waisted jeans, and it doesn’t automatically call me out as the ‘finance person’ at work. I’ll probably give the long-sleeved version a bash for the winter.

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This shirt is a bit high-maintenance, though. I mean, you have to iron these things, and the bust darts make that a drama, believe me. And the sleeves are pretty tricky to get the iron round, too. It’s not like a T-shirt that I can roll up in my cycle bag and be done with it – it’s gonna look pretty sloppy by the time I get to work. It would be fine for the husbeast – because believe it or not, in the men’s showers/changing rooms at his workplace, they not only have hairdryers but they also have an ironing board, complete with iron ? I don’t even have hairdryers in mine so when it’s hair-washing day I just have to brush it, put it in a clip so it doesn’t drip on my neck and hope for the best ??‍♀️

I’ll be honest, the fact that I have to iron these shirts puts me off wearing them a little… I know, I know, that’s SO lazy. But I’m time-poor – that ironing time could be used for sewing ? I spend enough hours doing things I don’t want to (read: going to my place of employment to earn money to pay rent) so I fo sho don’t want to spend my precious little free time ironing. My mother, who even took it so far as to iron socks, would be turning in her grave to hear me say this I’m sure. BUT – I bought a set of saucepans the other day, like, a proper grown-up matching set of decent ones, so this balances it out, right? I’m a good domestic-person?* ?

*Don’t actually care ?

Yeah, we’re still cycling to work. 20 miles a day for me, 26 ish for the husbeast. And although we’re much more chill about it now than we were a couple of years ago (stress levels were HIGH), there’s still the total knobheads on the road that don’t look before pulling out, or try to overtake you when it’s unsafe. And last week I almost got took out by an unsupervised feral child on his bike (with stabilisers) that was weaving about all over the show through the park, and into the marked cycle lane that had several commuters in it. The parents were god knows where but if I’d have seen them they would have got a piece of my mind, believe me.

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But on the plus side – I’ve finally lost some weight ?? (as a caveat – I’ve had to go back on to a Ketogenic diet to do this, so it’s probably water weight for now, but it’s still the only diet that I can seem to stick to and lose weight on without getting majorly hangry or feel like I’m dying all the time).

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I’m slowly building up my low-carb, high-fat recipe arsenal again (we did this diet for a fair amount of time a few years back, too) – last week’s effort was a cheesecake (this one, if anyone is curious) which I thought was the absolute pinnacle of my baking career to date. The husband said he would prefer a lemon one next time though. Either way, we scoffed the whole nine-inch pie over the course of a weekend. This weekend’s baking shenanigans involve a low carb pizza base (because pizza is my absolute weakness) – I’ll report back on the success. Don’t worry, I am eating salads and salmon and avocados and all the other healthy sources of fat as well, I’m not just living off high-fat junk food ???

**Full disclosure – the photos of this shirt were taken a little while back, before I put on weight. I currently don’t fit into the black jeans I’m wearing with the shirt, but it’s my goal to get them over my ass again ???

Out of curiosity, because you guys know I was whinging that the scales weren’t moving despite my Tour De France efforts, I tried on the super-tight skirt I made for the Indian wedding – you remember the one – and there’s a smidge of room in it. Definitely more room than there was at the time of the wedding. And I managed to squeeze myself into my gothed-up Bleuet dress that I made a couple of years ago for lunch with a friend yesterday (it was a bit tight across the bust, though), and I remembered how much I liked it. Perhaps I’ll make another.

Deer and Doe Bleuet Dress Alexander Henry Heart of Darkness Fabric

So I’m trying to broaden my ‘summer wardrobe’, but at the rate I’m going summer will be over before I even finish anything. I’ve just bought the Republique Du Chiffon Violette Dress, to make with the Indian rayon that I showed you on last week’s post, and also the Papercut Patterns Sway Dress, in the hope that at least one of them will be a keeper.

Please keep your fingers crossed for me ???

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Sway Dress

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Next week on the blog is my first stab at the Megan Nielsen Dawn Jeans – subscribe below to have it drop straight into your inbox!??

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  1. Romy
    July 7, 2019 / 7:15 am

    I think your shirt looks great, and I like that it matches your hair ? I’ve made a couple of Melilots but have made changes – I made a pointy collar version for my friend and I used bias tape on the hem too, I tried their fold and fold again method but it was a hot mess of tucks and puckers so bias tape is 100 times better. I have made the curve less curvy in other versions too to make that easier. Looking forward to seeing your Dawn jeans, they’re on my to sew list ☺️

    • Sarah
      July 16, 2019 / 7:16 pm

      Ahh thanks Romy! I’m just not sure the print is ‘me’ ?
      I can NEVER get a good ‘fold and press’ hem on a curved shirt. Never. Like yours it was all over the place with little folds ??‍♀️ I’ve shortened the curve on a shirt for the Husbeast in the same way, but never actually thought about doing it for this pattern – thanks for the tip! ?

  2. Caz
    July 7, 2019 / 9:56 am

    I wander whether you would like the #iamhermes shirt pattern from @iampatterns. I haven’t made it personally but I have seen some lovely shirts and shirtdresses pop up in my IG feed. ?. I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog every sunday morning, the handsome husbeast writes a pretty cool blog when he does a takeover too.

    • Sarah
      July 16, 2019 / 7:21 pm

      Ooh, thanks for bringing that pattern to my attention – I haven’t seen this! The shirt-dress version will look like a total sack on me (so staying away from THAT ?) But the regular shirt could be good… I wonder how the armscye is on their patterns – the problem I’ve found with every single brand other than Deer and Doe is that the armhole almost comes down to my armpit! ? But only one way to find out, so I’ll give it a try – good to see that they do some men’s patterns as well, I don’t think the husbeast is gonna go for the dungarees but I could give their T-shirt pattern a try ??
      So glad that you enjoy the blog every Sunday! ? I have been nagging the husbeast to finish off his next blog post, it’s in the works and I saw him working on it last weekend so hopefully not too much longer… ?

  3. Cindy
    July 7, 2019 / 11:07 am

    Hello you two,
    I really like this shirt and the fabric, yes I agree a pink splodge on the front would of been better than grotty green, but I love it, and if you hadn’t mentioned the green splodge I’m sure I wouldn’t of noticed it. I find that if you dont tell people, “it’s nice but…” that they would never of seen the “but” that bothers you.
    Yes I’m still here in 50 degrees and I did get very burnt driving to get a friend from the airport, only a 20 minute drive but face arms and neck got fired.. but ok now, getting a nice brown color to return to Blighty…
    Take care x

    • Sarah
      July 16, 2019 / 7:24 pm

      Hi Cindy!
      Ouch, 50 degrees… that’s pretty warm ?
      I have a habit of doing just that – going ‘ah thanks’ when someone compliments something I’m wearing and then proceeding to go ‘but I don’t like’ this that or the other ??‍♀️ I think I’ll chalk this one up as a toile and use a better fabric for the next one ??
      Safe journey back to the UK!

  4. Amanda
    July 8, 2019 / 2:13 pm

    Great fit with the shirt, looks very neat. I like it on you, round collar and all.

    You know, the Kalle shirt doesn’t do it for me – it looks like it just hangs off the bust in a really unflattering way. Much prefer the one you sewed!

    • Sarah
      July 16, 2019 / 7:26 pm

      Thanks Amanda! ? I think that your feelings on the Kalle will be exactly my feelings… it’s gonna hang off my boobs and make me look pregnant ?? A lot of people get a really good result (that I’ve seen on Instagram, anyway) but then that’s what happened with the Hinterland dress that I HATED on me ??‍♀️ So maybe I’ll stay away…

  5. July 11, 2019 / 5:50 pm

    I bought that pattern last week! And I sewed a placket for a Kalle this weekend. Great minds!

    I’m using the Merchant & Mills tencel twill, it’s so gorgeous. Soooo buttery and divine! I may sew with it forever ?

    • Sarah
      July 16, 2019 / 7:50 pm

      Ooh tencel twill DOES sound like an absolute dream… I bet that would be good for a nice loose pair of casual trousers too ?
      Looks like we’re both in the same carriage of the Shirt Train, heading west ??? I’m not sure on the Kalle for me… I need to find the right drapey fabric otherwise it’s gonna look like a maternity top ??

  6. July 16, 2019 / 3:39 am

    I love the melilot shirt pattern – especially in a dark background print like this one (just finished a long sleeved black floral one – ‘winter’ in southern hemisphere ;o)

    • Sarah
      July 16, 2019 / 8:41 pm

      I’m moving on to a long sleeved one too! Do you make any adjustments to your versions?

  7. April 29, 2020 / 8:18 am

    I feel really happy to have seen your blog and look forward to so many more entertaining times reading here. Thanks once more for all the details.

    • Sarah
      May 18, 2020 / 8:12 am

      Ahh thank you! So happy to hear that you’re enjoying the blog! 💜

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