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Our Josephine… New Adventures in Childrenswear


Woodland Rainbows and Retro WAHM Weds

Hello Folks! You may be wondering what I’ve been up to since the flurry of sewing tutorials I posted last year. Nobody tells you that when you have a baby, the time when they are small and mostly sleeping is the time to get things done. As the naptimes dwindled, so did my ability to sew and keep up with the wonders of social media; and so time passed, and my sewing pace slowed.

This year my little girl LP turned one, we relocated to the wonderful North West, and I began to put into action my plans to work from home and take care of her – ably assisted by her doting Nanny. Just like LP, everything is in its infancy and I have to embrace the process as well as the end product.

Even before I became mum to LP I had sewn several frocks in anticipation of her arrival. Making for her seemed like the most hopeful preparation; in my mind, I was creating memories with the stitching, and felt nostalgia for a time that was yet to arrive. When LP did make her appearance I was keen to dress her in handmade threads and so just kept sewing the frocks in a variety of prints and growing sizes.

Following some lovely compliments and the desire to be able to stay at home with my daughter while doing something other than mum duties, I decided to sew for others.

And so, Our Josephine – For Kids was born. The Etsy shop is now open, the Facebook page is live and I am absolutely thrilled to be sewing little frocks, with cheer to pass on the joy of handmade. I do hope you like them as much as we do.

WAHM Boden collage

Tutorial: Our Josephine Sews… A Button Up Cushion

Button Back Cushion

I am always astounded by the power of the automatic buttonhole feature on my sewing machine. If you get the settings right, you can make use of the delightful treasures from your button tin with a minimum of fuss.

When I first laid eyes on the Townhouses print from Cath Kidston I knew I needed to feature it somewhere in my home; and my daughter’s nursery offered the perfect solution. Unfortunately you can’t pick it up online anymore, but I bet there’s some lurking in their outlet stores. The buttons I used are vintage ones from my stash – they are rather glorious. The cushion pad shown is approximately 58 x 40, but this tutorial works for any size: you just need to adjust the measurements. For a nice plump cushion cut your front fabric to the same size as the pad, and work with a 1cm seam allowance to help keep your calculations simple. I’ve put my measurements in brackets in case you happen to have a cushion pad the exact same size; I work in centimetres.

You will need:

  • Cushion Pad
  • Fabric of your choice
  • Buttons and button hole foot
  • General sewing paraphernalia

To make it:

1. Cut your front piece of fabric, this should measure the same size as your cushion pad. (58 x 40)

2. Cut your back piece to the same height but add 12cm to the width, this will give you space to create your button placket. ( 70 x 40)

3. Decide where you want your cushion to overlap and cut your back pieces accordingly ( 50 x 40 and 20 x 40)

4. To make your button plackets: turn over your widest back piece by 1 cm, press and then again by 4cm and press again. Stitch close to the seam. Turn over your narrowest back piece by 1cm, press and then again by 2.5cm and press again. Stitch close to the seam. HC Sew close to the seam edge

5. Work out where you want your buttons to go, mark on the narrowest piece where the holes should be made. If you’re not sure how to use the buttonhole feature on your machine, now is the time to consult the manual. If you have no idea where this is, the magic of the internet should help you.

6. Test the buttonhole is working before sewing into the real thing. If it is playing up, check all the settings – trust me here, you do not want to have to unpick a badly sewn buttonhole! When you’re confident it is all going swimmingly, sew your buttonholes. HC Sew Buttonholes

7. Now you can assemble your cushion. Place the front piece on the table right side facing you. Then put the widest back piece on top, right side facing down and then finally the narrow piece with your buttonholes in. Make sure all your corners line up, pin and then stitch all the way around. Clip your corners and turn it out, ideally use a bamboo point turner to ease out your corners.

8. Mark where your buttons need to go and stitch them in place. Insert your cushion pad, do up the buttons and admire.

Vintage Button Detail


Tutorial: Our Josephine Sews… A Piped Envelope Back Cushion

Piped Cushion Corner

This Cath Kidston train print never fails to bring me joy, and with the added allure of red dotty piping this cushion cover is a winner. If you’ve never attempted to make a piped cushion then this is a good start as there is no zip to contend with.

The cushion pad shown is approximately 35 x 35 but this tutorial works for any size, you just need to adjust the measurements. For a nice plump cushion cut your front fabric to just 1cm wider in width and height, this is to allow for the piping. Work with a 1cm seam allowance to help keep your calculations simple. I’ve put my measurements in brackets in case you happen to have a cushion pad the exact same size; I work in centimetres.

You will need:

  • Cushion Pad
  • Fabric of your choice
  • Unfolded Bias Tape – 4 x the circumference of the cushion plus 5cm
  • 5mm Piping Cord- 4 x the circumference of the cushion
  • Zip foot (or piping foot if you have one)
  • General Sewing Paraphernalia

To make it:

1. Cut your front piece of fabric, this should measure 1cm more in width and height than your cushion pad (36 x 36).

2. Cut your back piece to the same width but add another third to the height, this will give you space to create your button placket (36 x 48).

3. Cut the back piece in two equal pieces, turn and press the short edges by 1cm twice and then stitch.

4. Prepare your bias tape by wrapping it around the piping cord and pinning as you go. Using your zip or piping foot, stitch as close to the cord as you can leaving 2.5cm open and without cord at either end.

Unfolded Bias Tape and Piping Cord
Sew Bias Tape

5. Take your top fabric and draw a curve on one of the corners using a glass, cup, roll of tape – whatever you have that is round. Cut the curve out and use that as a template for the other three corners. Do the same for the back pieces (just the top of one and the bottom of the other) to mirror the front piece.

Use a glass to round corners

6. Place the top fabric on a flat surface with right side up, pin your wrapped cord around it with the flat edge flush with the outer raw edge. In order to finish the piping neatly you should have an excess of bias tape and should start  and finish stitching (still with the zip foot) 5cm from each end keeping as close to the cord as possible.

Pin and Sew Bias Binding

7. To close finish the piping neatly, make the end points of the cord meet. Overlap your bias tape around them by at least 1cm. Pin and sew in place once again keeping close to the cord. I never worry about the raw edges.

Sew overlap bias

8. Now to assemble the cover. Place your piped piece onto a flat surface, right side up. Take your first back piece and place right side down on top, then do the same with the second piece. Pin all the way around and stitch, still with the zip foot and keeping as close to the piping as possible. Notch your curves and turn right sides out, press for a nice finish.

Notch corners

9. Pop in your cushion pad and admire your new piping skills.

Cushion Trio

Tutorial: Our Josephine Sews… A Square Zipped Cushion

Bus Cushion

The zip is a marvellous invention, and sewn neatly it gives a really nice finish. There are many methods for inserting a zip and every sewist has their own take on it. Why not give this method a whirl and see if it suits you.

You will need:

  • Cushion Pad
  • Fabric of your choice – I’ve used the spectacular Cath Kidston bus print!
  • Zip foot
  • General Sewing Paraphernalia

1. Cut the front and a back piece of fabric to 4cm wider and longer than your cushion pad. Your zip can either be the exact same length as the sides of your square cushion, or shorter; often I find that I use whatever I’ve got in my stash. You can always cut your zip shorter if need be.

2. Put your fabric right sides together, pin along the bottom edge, lay your zip on top and mark the start and end of where the zip opens. Move the zip out of the way and sew using a 2cm allowance; start with a regular length stitch, changing to a tacking stitch at your first marking and again switching to a regular length stitch at your second marking.

3. This may seem a bit counter intuitive but we are going to sew each side of the zip separately. This should enable you to sew with more precision.  Fold your fabric so just the raw seam is on the right and the rest of the fabric is to the left. Open your zip and pin the right side face down along the seam with the teeth in the centre. Change to your zip foot and sew along the right side of the zip teeth, you should only be sewing through the zip and one side of the seam.

Right side of zip right



4. Close the zip and repeat on the other side. If you have difficulty sewing past the zip pull, use a seam ripper to open up your tacking stitch and move it past the zip foot. It may be a bit fiddly but you can remove the foot to do this, making sure you keep the needle in the fabric to stop it from moving about too much.


other side

5. Unpick your taking stitches to reveal the zip underneath, open it up.

Finished zip


6. Pin your fabric right sides together, sew around the three remaining sides with a 2cm seam allowance, finish the sides as you wish and trim your corners and turn right side out. Press, push out the corners and pop in your cushion pad.

bus and train

My Makes: The Door Hanger Do-Over

Have you ever finished making something, looked at it and straightaway decided that you could have done better? This happened to me recently when I set to work on some hanging pockets intended to create some handy additional storage.

I’d spent a whole morning sewing, so pleased to be getting on with a project from my to-do list. I gave it a final press, proudly hung it in place, then realised that even though it looked splendid, I’d neglected to line the pockets making it a bit floppy and only half as useful as I anticipated it would be. I might have said aloud “oh, it will be alright”, but what I really felt was a huge sense of disappointment – those few precious hours of stitching not bearing the results I wanted.  It hung there for a while, until the other morning when my thoughts turned to the possibility of a do-over – I couldn’t resist.

When I was finding my way around dressmaking last year, there was a whole parade of do-overs, but these changes were wrapped up the sewist’s best tool – the toile and it felt ok to remodel until I was completely happy. The number of times I shifted darts, moved waistlines and pondered sleeve options were innumerable, so why when it comes to interiors projects should it be any different?

With that in mind, I gave myself the opportunity to try again and slowly unpicked my less than handy work. I lined the pockets and even slightly changed the construction to make it more sturdy; and now I have a functional, hanging tidy, ready to filled with baby essentials when the time comes. Although I’d rather get it right first time, there is no harm in a do-over, now what else can I rework?

Something for a Sunday: Handmade Christmas Cards

Crafting for Christmas can be a rather eventful pursuit, filling your Sunday afternoon with glitter and glue sticks, scrabbling about to locate your address book and contemplating the price of stamps these days.

There is something lovely about making and receiving a handmade card, and if you don’t have chance to make your own, there are a wealth of options available from wonderful independent shops and designer-makers. I am a particular fan those from Oh Squirrel and Curious Pip.

Leafing through my old craft books, I found this tutorial. I really like the way there is no carefully styled image of what the finished product should look like. Also the suggestion to write the message in nail polish must have ended in a smudged mess for many a maker. The book cover is of course pure joy too, published in 1964 by Abbey Library London. So have a read, and why not give it a whirl?



Tutorial: Our Josephine Sews… An ever so useful Bag Holder Set

The Sewists: Exclusive Project

Working on The Sewists was an absolute joy, and you may have noticed that the first project in the book, a heritage pin cushion, is by yours truly. I really like writing tutorials, and plan to do lots more – so when I was asked to contribute an exclusive project for Laurence King, I was pleased to share the Tote Pal project. It’s a bag for your bag; a little something to stop all your bits and bobs jumping out of your tote as you gad about town.  Head over to Laurence King and click on associated material to get your free download.

My Makes: The Zipped Purse

I have made many a zipped purse in different shapes and sizes, in fact there is a great tutorial for one in The Sewists if you fancy giving it a whirl.

Josephine Perry Zipped Purse

This is one of my favourites, it is made from a vintage fabric I spotted at the Country Living Fair from Calon Company a couple of years ago. The Calon stand is actually one of the best at the show and I always find something great to add to my stash.

I am very fond of the bright orange zip and the print never bores me. When I was working out sizes I made it long enough to accommodate a hairbrush in case of emergency preening. It’s great how versatile these purses are, plus they make a lovely handmade gift that you can personalise to your heart’s content.

My Makes: English Paper Piecing

Whenever anyone asks me about starting to patchwork, I always say that if you don’t start, you won’t finish. I spent years looking at patchwork quilts, touching the different prints, wondering if I’d ever get round to sewing one. Then one fateful day I just did it.

Patchwork Collage

The fabrics come from a variety of sources, some are precious old ones that would have been left languishing in a cupboard if I hadn’t embarked on this project. I think a quilt is a good way to preserve and appreciate the treasured pieces in my stash; enabling them to be useful as well as beautiful.

This patchwork only comes out sporadically (thanks Clueless) and every time I marvel at the colours and the patterns. I love the crinkle sound of the paper and the tiny stitches I have to pop my glasses on to achieve. I have no idea when this project will be completed- but it will, in time and then I will probably start another one because as Mary Poppins said “Well begun is half done.”