Monday, 31 December 2012


Review time!  Well I majorly failed in achieving what I set out to do at the beginning of the year!  I was going to make a dress every month of the year to increase my sewing skills and to increase my wardrobe! Well that didn’t work! For the first few months it went well I made 4 dresses and a cheating dress for Miss C all of which I’ve worn regularly over the year.



But then deadline was getting to me, I was making Simplicity 2588 in a lovely navy gingham and it just turned into a disaster when I got the the collar stage.  I’d even made a muslin of this dress which looked good and I had high hopes.  I spent ages making sure that the gingham squares would line up but I think I put the collar piece on the wrong way round and by the time I realised I’d trimmed the pieces and broken my heart!  Its all in a bag, maybe I’ll revisit next year…


So I decided to stop pressuring myself and take a break.  From then on the rest of the year was great, I sewed what and when I wanted, I even got into hand sewing and hand quilted a quilt.I found it relaxing and enjoyable to sit there in the evening sewing away.  This was why I at the end of the year I finally had some success with crocheting. 


My best successes this year were designing and drafting a costume for Miss M and making my Stripy Renfrew top although the kids LOVE the quilt!


I enjoyed the process of making a sloper/block for Miss M and the freedom to design whatever we wanted.  It made me go back to my long dreamed of ideal of having a basic block for me and adapting it.  I’m not going to set myself the challenge of doing this as from past experience I’ve found it doesn’t work, plus since last year I’ve now got 2 jobs and doing a Teaching Assistant course which tons of homework each week!  Hopefully I will be getting more work next year so I’m not going to put any more pressure on myself, but I would like to draft out a basic bodice and go from there instead of buying the same type of dress all the time and making similar adjustments all the time.  I’d also like to make more Renfrews as they are just great and perfect for work in school so I’m on the look out for lovely knits.  I’d like to try more crochet but not sure what yet, it was great to have a target and theme of Christmas for the bits I made but not sure what to do in 2013.  BTW this blog is now 3 years old!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Late to the party!

I bought Sewaholics Renfrew pattern back in the spring when it was first released, I bought some knit fabric in September but its taken me until now to actually make one!  All year I’ve been seeing great tops all over the blogssphere, my usual outfit at this time of year is knitted tops yet I still didn’t get round to making it.  I think I was a bit scared of the whole knit thing but now I’ve made it I don’t know why! 


I made the cowl neck version with 3/4 length sleeves and I love it!


I made a 16 which is perfect for the hips but I think a little wide on the top and sleeves.  I think I’ll use a 14 bust and grade out to a 16, it says something when I’m so hippy that I have to have a smaller bust to hip in Sewaholic patterns when Tasia specifically designs for us pear-shaped girls!!!!!!!!


I’m quite pleased with my stripe matching.  I bought some fairly cheap knit from Fabricland and traced the main pieces so I could cut it from a single layer rather than folded as there is no way I would be able to get the stripes lined up on the fold.  I’m glad I did that and will continue using them once I’ve graded the top. 

Of course I was bound to like the top everyone likes it and its a great cake top which with the right fabric can be quite frosting-like!  Now I need to find some better quality fabric, maybe a nice bamboo knit or sparkly knit!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Starry Night

I said I would do it, and for a change I did.  I’ve been making stars and turning them into a banner.  These stars are really quick and fun to make, pinning and starching them took longer! 
So my Christmas projects this year have been crochet items, I really like it and now am looking for other projects to so as I’ve got the bug.  Now its 10 days till Christmas and I really should knock it on the head but I always end up doing a last minute panic project.  Maybe this year I should stop?  Mind you I haven’t made my mince pies yet…

Winter blizzard

Well I’ve never been successful with yarn and woolly things, when I was a kid my mother taught me to knit, she was a wonderful knitter, but it just never clicked for me.  My tension is very inconsistent and as a kid I didn’t have the patience to invest such as lot of time and effort into something, in fact I once started knitting my mother a tea cosy in green colours to match her kitchen, it took me 6 years to finish the bloody thing by which time the colour of her kitchen had changed! So I’ve never had a great drive to take up knitting but crochet on the other hand has always interested me.  I’ve loved looking at granny squares, flowers, scarves and blankets especially on Attic 24. This year I finally got the but enough to sit down and study it, I wanted to make snowflakes to decorate my shelves and so one evening I sat there for about 6 hours trying, failing, trying again to understand what I needed to do to make something that resembled a snowflake.


Eventually I got it, so off I went to the new Hobbycraft that opened in my town that week to get some wool, whilst I was there I bumped into a friend who is a marvellous crocheter organising craft fairs to sell her beautiful work as well as teaching.  I told her what I was intending to do and she directed me to Lucy @ Attic24 as well!  Great minds think  alike.  So I’ve been crocheting away like made, even taking them to the kids Kung Fu lessons although I did not that everyone gave me a wide berth whilst I was sitting there crocheting away!  Mad woman with her wool!  And this is what I produced…


I strung them up on long garlands and hung them on my shelves


you can just see my felt gingerbread house on the top shelf


Now I’m working on Lucy's Teeny Tiny Stars to make another garland, not sure where to put it yet though, we’re drowning in Christmas decorations as I buy/make something every year but never get rid of anything!!!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012


Sorry couldn’t help but today is 12.12.12 which I think is really cool! Last time this century, never to happen again.


Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Tudor Lady In Waiting

Miss M has been studying the Tudor period in school and this week they had a dress up day where the whole year group coming in wearing Tudor costume.  This by coincidence happened to fall on Miss Cs birthday so I knew that as we were having her party on the weekend the dress I would have to make wouldn’t happen then and I needed to get a head start on it.  So back in half term I got the ball rolling.  Using the fabulous drafting series that Lorraine made a couple of years ago, I endeavoured to make Miss M a sloper/block.  It took a number of iterations before I got something I was completely happy with…




(could do with a little more swayback adjustment)



(finished article with lots of bit of paper stuck back on!)


Making a sloper/block (I’m never sure which word is correct, does it just depend where you come from or is there an actual difference between the two?) was great fun and really answered my own question about what I should do about sewing although it was a lot easier fitting someone else rather than myself.  So much so I’ve asked Santa if he can arrange a sewing session(s) with someone to make my own sloper/block! 

So once we had a base we looked around at Tudor clothing and discussed what it should look like, Miss M wanted it red, she wanted a square neckline, she wanted a long skirt.  Pouring over Lorraine's resources we liked the principle of her Renaissance Dresses


and also the dress on the right


so between these two sources of inspiration we can up with a pattern made from newspaper!


which produced…



I found a curtain offcut for the cream brocade inset for £2 and amazingly I found some trim which matched that offcut perfectly!  The red crushed velvet cost a fortune for a costume but hey, you win some you lose some!

I enjoyed the designing and drafting aspect of this project and I enjoyed sewing it until it got to putting the whole thing together and then the velvet became a bit unstable so a pain in the backside.  I did a handpicked zip and also hand sewed the trim on by hand as I knew it would never look neat if I sewed it on the machine, as it is there's a bump on the zip at the back but to be honest I’m probably the only one bothered about that, as usual all I can think about and see are the negative niggly bits of a project that didn’t work completely perfectly! But for a 1 day costume for school it works, now its been put away ready for Miss C in 3 years time when she will be studying the same subject, as I always say “If they can recycle the curriculum I can recycle the costume!”

Thursday, 22 November 2012

So much to do so little time…

As I said before my life has gotten a whole lot busier lately, sewing has really taken a backseat but I did manage to finish one thing.  Way back in June I bought my self a Jelly Roll to make myself a full sized quilt.

Well eventually I decided to try the Stacked Coins Quilt from Moda but had to increase the size as it was for a cot quilt.  Well after lots and lots of calculations and research and head scratching I eventually worked out how much fabric I needed to complete the project so I ordered backing fabric Moda Bella Solid Sisters Pink, some binding from the Sophie collection Leafy Swirl Pink, some white Moda Bella and full sized poly wadding.

I’d already come to the conclusion that I wanted to hand quilt it as I’ve come to quite enjoy hand sewing (never thought I would say that!!) and we were going on holiday and I wanted a project to keep me occupied if we had rainy days (2012=bad summer!) so I set about piecing it together during the Olympics! 


With some trepidation I unrolled the Jelly Roll


and then started cutting and arranging into groups.  I didn’t have a set idea about how the colour/fabrics should be arranged so its purely random, I tried not to have too many of the same design/colours together within a strip. 

Once I’d started it was clear that I wasn’t going to get it done in time for the holiday so it went away again from a while.  Once I got it back out I realised I’d miscalculated the backing fabric and had to order more.  Now I was ready, so one Saturday whilst watching Strictly I laid out the backing, wadding and quilt top and with the aid of funny safety pins I put it all together. 

Then came the fun part, I sat there night after night, sewing it together.  I wanted to hand quilt because I thought the quilt needed either free-motion quilting in the white areas or stitch-in-the-ditch quilting.  Now, there's now way I was going to be able to do free –motion quilting on this quilt (I don’t have a walking foot, the expertise or the patience to gain the expertise) and I didn’t think my seam lines were straight enough or my sewing accurate enough to stitch-in-the-ditch by machine.  So I decided to stitch-in-the-ditch by hand this way I could control where the stitches are.  So I used pink quilting thread and the worlds tiniest needles to quilt the layers together and I have to say it was lovely.  I really enjoyed the excuse to snuggle under the quilt on the evening watching TV but still creating something.  It kept my hands busy instead of looking for something to eat!  I enjoyed the rhythm of the process, rocking the needle back and for, although I’m not convinced I had the correct technique, but it took me most of October to quilt it and then the binding just took a couple of days.  And where they big reveal you might ask….


extra points if you spot Miss C sneaking into shot!


sorry the pictures are a bit dull, they were taken at night although I’ve tried brightening then in  Here are some daylight shots…


backing showing the stitches coming through, don’t think I was very consistent in my stitch sized, in fact I preferred the look of larger stitches,


lovely colour and I love the contrast with white, I’m always drawn to the Modern Quilts which although I’m not exactly sure what the definition of Modern Quilt is they seem to have high contrast colours. 


binding shot I cut the binding 2.5” wide and sewed with a 1/4” seam allowance. In future I think I would cut 2 1/4” binding as I think its a little too wide, not enough to make me change it but a lesson for next time. 


isn’t ladder stitch great!


mitred corner – back


mitred corner – front


lovely colours in the sunshine!


Action shot!  Its already been used and loved, I’ve fallen asleep on the settee under it a few times and Miss C and Miss M argue over it (luckily its big enough for all of us, that's why I made it this size) and Miss C spent all day Saturday under it as she was ill.  So an all round success!

So there's my first proper quilt, I really enjoyed the whole process especially as it was so slow but I could leave it for days and come back to it and just pick it up straight away.  Very different to dressmaking which I find I can’t leave for days otherwise I forget where I was.   When I finished my husband immediately said ‘What's yours next project?” oh how well he knows me, the trouble is I’m just so busy at the moment with college and work and kids and birthdays and Christmas although I’m half way through making a Tudor dress for Miss M’s school topic!  Watch this space!