It’s hip to be unsquare …

Not a great deal of sewing has been going on lately I’m sorry to say. There are a few patterns out there that I’d love to spend time on, but generally life has taken over …

I can however show you the superbly unsquare, right angle-free, cosy patchwork quilt I made for my boy when he left for university. 

My girl and I made one here before she set off to study up north, so it seemed only right to make one for him too. It looks terribly wobbly here. Ok, it is terribly wobbly. Never mind, he loves it all the same.

Over the years Jimmy has accumulated quite a few Howies shirts and literally worn them to death. In the spirit of recycling (which I know Howies are pretty darn keen on), we’ve produced a cosy reminder of home and, along with a bit of his sisters old jim jams and scraps from a dress I made, there is a little bit of all of us in this quilt. 

I’m wondering who I can make a ‘rustic’ patchwork quilt for next (excuse for a dog photo coming up), hmm, there’s always the latest addition to our family of course …

Every rescue pup needs a left overs, Liberty lawn, patchwork quilt … don’t they? 



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Big collars and frilly yokes …

I have been sewing! 

Not your everyday ‘ooh I think I’ll just run up a ball gown for the fast approaching Christmas works do’ kind of sewing, but sewing nonetheless.

My usually very shy, graphic designer friends and me break out of our shells each Christmas and do our annual piece of marketing … in the shape of a Christmas card. We’ve been doing this for fifteen of our sixteen years together and you can see them all here if you fancy a little giggle.

This year, I ‘made’ our outfits. It involved four identical shirts from the supermarket sale, a curtain from the charity shop and a bag full of lace and ribbon from the local haberdashery shop. I was in heaven!

Big collars and frilly yokes were flavour of the day and using the same fabrics united the shirts giving us the whole ‘one weird family’ look we were after.

Being for a photo shoot, I didn’t have to worry too much about the neatness of my sewing, as long as it looked good on film, it would be okay.

We send out a huge pile of cards each year to all our clients and a few extra too, including the Queen (we even get a thank you letter from Liz, exciting!). Do you remember getting the school photo in a plastic bag with a key ring for grandma? Well, that’s kind of what this was about, just a little freakier. It’s gone down well so far …

Merry Christmas! x


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Jumpsuit for joy (despite the news) …

I have made a jumpsuit, and what a lovely jumpsuit it is too ( if I say so myself) …

This is my Marilla Walker jumpsuit following on from my dungarees, this time in a cool, floppy, viscose, just right for warmer weather (let’s ignore the rain).

This is such a great pattern and I had no problems putting it together. My only stumbling block (and this is entirely my fault) was that I totally messed up my button holes. Ooh there was a little swearing and yes, maybe these did end up in the bin for a day or two before I resolved the issue with a bit of (bad) darning and a handful of poppers. 

What a mess. I guess that from a distance, it doesn’t show, so I can live with it. And, if I hadn’t messed up, I wouldn’t have discovered the beauty of poppers. Not since the days of baby-grows have I encountered poppers. The joy! 

In truth, my sewing machine needs a service as its ability to do decent buttonholes has been in question for a long time. I must sort it out soon, before the machine man is inundated with school machines for the summer!

As you can see, I added a belt just to add a bit of shape, though from looking at the above photo, I must remember not to pull on my pockets or the bum looks a bit tight!

On another note I found a photo! No dungarees but even better, a jumpsuit! Brace yourself, it’s a shocker …

How long are my arms?! The jumpsuit is fabulous, a Mum-made copy of one I’d spotted in a catalogue (such a clever Mum!). This must be 1978 or there abouts and let’s just not mention the hair if you don’t mind. 

Not much changes does it? A photo of a home-made jumpsuit in front of lush foliage and a dislike of looking directly at the camera. Happy days! 


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Dexy’s delight …

Summer 1987, Sheerness market. Luckily, as far as I’m aware, there is no photographic evidence, but that is where I bought my first pair of dungarees and my goodness, I loved them. Teamed with my Doc Martins, scrunch-dried hair, stripy t-shirt and matching boyfriend, we were the Dexy’s Midnight Runners of Kent. Not. Who wears the same clothes as their boyfriend for heavens sake?

Now, well into my forties I find myself (minus the boyfriend) drawn to dungarees once more (stripy t-shirts were never a phase, more a necessity). I didn’t know how much I needed them until I made them!

These are Marilla Walker’s dungarees from her Roberts collection, how could I resist? I made a size 3 which I thought would be too big but it seems my hips, tum and bum are embracing the whole pre-menopausal ‘inflatables’ party, so these are just right.

Perhaps I could take them in a little, but comfort is so important when you get to my age (I’ll be making elasticated waist crimplene slacks next week)!

I actually love these. Comfort aside, they are great to make and the pattern has so many options (the jumpsuit is cut out and ready to sew and there will definitely be a dress too).

My denim was a remnant from a shop in Dorking (a bargain at £3.95) and I lined the bib and pockets with a pretty, floral, charity shop find. 

Jimmy says they make me look “playful”. I’m not sure what that means but I like it …


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Bedtime stories and an old tablecloth …

One of the many things that I miss about having young children is reading stories to them at bedtime. Bubbly bath times, baby powdered skin, warm milk in Beatrix Potter beakers, all snuggled under the duvet. Hairy Maclary From Donaldson’s Dairy, The Tiger Who Came to Tea, We’re going on a Bear Hunt and all time favourite, In the Night Kitchen. Aw, happy days!

Karen’s Made Up Initiative was a reminder of how privileged we are to have books in our lives. All the more poignant as I prepare to wave my youngest off to university this weekend. I would have liked to pledge that I would start and finish a patchwork quilt for my boy to take away with him, but this summer has been crazy busy so that’s going to have to follow him in a week or so (watch this space). Instead I took an old tablecloth and promised to transform it into a top for my girl …


 In my haste, I forgot to do the ‘before’ photo. Not to worry, I’m sure you can picture a square, white linen, embroidered, vintage tablecloth! I used a top that my girl already has as a pattern, it was a bit of a risk but it worked thankfully. 

It was a speedy little project and satisfying to. The tablecloth was £1.99 in the charity shop, so cheap when you think of the time that someone took to embroider it.

Thank you to Karen for giving me a worthy little project to see the summer out, and if you didn’t take part I think you can still donate here!

Well, I’m off to pack my newly adult child a huge bag for his latest adventure. I wonder if he’ll notice if I slip in a copy of Where the Wild Things Are …


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Patrick Grant and moi …

Meet my new boyfriend friend doh ok, look who I met …

Isn’t he lovely? All casual, chilled out and delicious. Where did I find him? At Eroica Britannia of course, amongst a thousand vintage bicycles and their cool beyond belief owners.  

Well, I can’t say much more, three weeks on and I’m still all of a quiver. 

While this photo was being snapped I may have accidently stroked Patrick’s back. I’m sorry, what can I say, I got carried away. When I realised what I was doing, I got a bit girly (I’m so embarrassed) and apologised profusely …

He didn’t mind too much and asked me for my number. Ok, that’s a blatant lie. Actually he does look a bit worried here, oh dear.

I didn’t tell him it was my birthday, or that my dress was made by my lovely mum in the 1970s. I just spluttered something silly like ‘thankspoo datswick, so nice to eat chew’ and ran back to my husband all hot and bothered with a demented grin. Ahh, the joys of being me.

*I immediately sent the top picture to my fellow sewist sister-in-law. An hour later there was a voicemail, ‘OMG that’s amazing, I hope you don’t mind but I’ve cropped you off and made it my screen saver’! The power of Patrick!


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A daring little Rigel …

In life, I’m the sort of woman who sticks to the edge of the pool while everyone else jumps in and has a crazy time (I’ll slip in at the shallow end hoping no one will notice, I don’t mind getting my hair wet, it’s just the whole water up the nose thing). I love curry as long as it’s very, very, very mild and I won’t let anyone push me round the multi story car park in shopping trolley just in case it tips and I brake my nose. I wouldn’t say I’m boring, I’m just a teeny bit cautious. Ok, a complete chicken. A complete cautious chicken.

With sewing, I’m afraid I’m kind of the same. I seem to stick to what I know and just repeat myself with a bad case of pattern indigestion. Well, it gets a bit tedious being so boring cautious (I’m still talking about sewing here, don’t make me jump in the pool). 

So, you’ll be pleased to know, this time I’ve stretched myself …  

Say hello to my Liberty Rigel Bomber! Yes, yes, I know, this party’s been and gone and I’ve missed the jumping in the pool bit but who’d want to get this little bomber wet anyway? 

I’m sure you know all about this jacket from Papercut Patterns and will have seen the beautiful variations out there in the blogosphere, but to be honest as much as I admired them, I didn’t think I’d be capable of making one. Just the thought of welt pockets … hello? 

I made three practice welt pockets before I snipped through my Liberty Lawn and I’m not going to pretend they were easy. I used brain cells that have been in hibernation since the retakes of 1986. But, and here’s the trick, if you take your time and measure, tack and check over and over and over again, it sort of makes sense. My goodness, this challenging your skills business is so satisfying! So, welt pockets, check. Open ended zip, check. Raglan sleeves, check. Sewing with ribbing, check. Hmmm, what else, ohhh how about a spot of lining? As it’s been noted many times, this pattern doesn’t have a lining and boy, if anything needs hiding, it’s the flappy insides of this jacket. 

I should mention the fabric … The Liberty print is Wiltshire J Tana Lawn and was a Christmas present from Jimmy (from ebay) and the ribbing is navy cuff rib from Backstitch. The lining is an old cotton duvet cover from a charity shop and was so beautifully wrapped in ribbon when I bought it that I didn’t see this hidden bit until I got it home …

Oh the disappointment, but it was only £2 and there was plenty I could still use. The lining wasn’t difficult to construct having read this post for guidance, then I sort of made it up as I went along which was a good challenge.  

I added a little loop to hang it while I was at it. I almost added an inside pocket too and wish I had now, maybe next time. 


 I cut a ‘small’ for my jacket erring on the side of caution (oh damn, and I was doing so well!) when it could have been a little snugger. But, I’m pretty pleased with the fit (room for a cropped cardi?). I also added a little to the length of the sleeves and they are perfect, phew!

I’m in love with this pattern, I’m in love with this fabric and I’m so pleased with my skills reaching a new level. To be perfectly honest, I’m not entirely convinced that this jacket is really ‘me’ but, hey, it’s good to test yourself and try new things … Ok, where’s the pool party, I’m jumping in!



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A cosy quick one …

Ooh, I did enjoy this make! I made my Lily a Buchanan (from Gather) for Christmas in a soft cotton black watch tartan with dark green contrast trim and have been meaning to make myself one ever since. This time, I used a brush cotton vintage paisley fabric that I found years ago in (you guessed it) a charity shop and some contrasting purple poly cotton. The paisley was destined to be pillow cases, but this is so much more exciting … Poor Lily got the rough, “cripes, it’s almost Christmas and I need to whizz up a pressie quick as I can” version. Thankfully, with this make I remembered to make the whole garment with french seams so it’s lovely inside and out.  I did make a slight boo boo with the one patch pocket (which, incidentally is a perfect, patch pattern for fellow pocket lovers). For a start, two would have been handy (Lily got the ‘in seam’ ones of version 2), but also, I used the purple to line it with and that shows on the outer edges. Never mind, we can call it a design feature! One last thing to mention is that it comes up a little short, so you may want to add a bit to the length. In this case I had nothing left over of my tiny vintage fabric find, so I extended the length using more of the poly cotton.


Described as suitable for ambitious beginners, I would recommend this pattern to everyone. I can see a few of these hanging on the back of my bedroom door for all seasons and it’s actually the first thing I have ever made that I wear every day! 


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Liberty Mimi, so good I made it twice …

  I’ve made a couple of garments from Tilly’s Love at First Stitch now, the Lilou for Lily and some Margot jimjams, but it was Tilly’s design hack of the Mimi that really got me excited and her choice of fabric that had me falling head over heels …


The fabric on the left (and Tilly’s choice of make) is Liberty Lawn Oxford B and living so close to Oxford I thought it would be rude to not buy some (ahem). Then I saw the beautiful Ciara C another lawn, which happened to be designed in my birth year so another absolute must have in my humble opinion!

I know this all seems very indulgent and extravagant from a sewer who likes nothing more than making things from old curtains and charity shop finds, but there is a story … In a moment of I have nothing to wear desperation and much deliberation, I ordered a handsome looking blouse from Jigsaw with great hopes for it solving all my wardrobe worries. It cost (brace yourself) £89 and apart from the fact that one armscye was bigger than the other, you didn’t even get cuffs! It was returned and Jigsaw were very apologetic but it was a good reminder as to why I like to make my own clothes. Now, here’s the exciting bit. With postage the Jigsaw blouse cost me £93.50 (as my northern Jimmy would say, How Much?!) and for £93.06 (including postage) I realised that I could have 4 metres of Liberty lawn fabric which would not only make me two blouses but give me deep sense of smugness satisfaction and as an added bonus make me happy and let’s not forget the change of 44p to buy some sweets fruit! 


Ok, back to the Mimi. This pattern was a dream to make up, so hats off to Tilly. That combined with the quality of the fabric made this project a joy to sew, I will definitely think again about quality over quantity next time I’m in a fabric buying mood.  


The only change I made to Tilly’s pattern hack was to create the long collar in one piece for the top section but two pieces for the under collar as I couldn’t squeeze that out of the 2 metres. No one will ever see the seam so it doesn’t matter, but I thought it might be helpful to know that it does seem to take up a lot of fabric!

I did mean it when I said I’d made two because I liked it so much. Here is the version very much like … ok virtually the same as Tilly’s …  



Just to be a weeny bit different, I cut this blouse straight at the sides making it a little more boxy and added a pop of colour to the front and back yoke with some bias tape. I also made the ties a bit shorter so I can also wear it in a loose knot without it hanging in the washing up bowl …


I wore the Ciara version to a meeting last week, it was a retrospective, end of project meeting involving a room full of very clever publishing people and (my worse nightmare) Post-it Notes and group discussion. I think I made a bit of a fool of myself (best not to ask) but hey, I was wearing a homemade Liberty Mimi so at least I felt good!


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Itching …

I am at work, so a speedy post while my work buddies get in a quick round of computer golf (coffee time in our office is a 15 minute work free break involving a visit to the virtual green). I am abstaining today, because quite frankly I’m rubbish and always come last!

While they play, I am twitching in my swivel chair and itching to go home and it’s only eleven o’clock. This ‘need’ to go home is a sensation I’ve not felt for ages (well, not sewing related anyway, we all have days when we’d like to run out of the office and hide behind a bush, don’t we?). Today after a period of sewing blues, I am tingling! I want to go home, tidy my sewing room, pop on the radio and get down to some serious stitching. The reason for my excitement? This arrived today …


My outrageously extravagant (and deliciously naughty) purchase of Liberty prints. I hold Tilly completely responsible (it’s easier this way) and am unashamedly copying heavily influenced by her latest make.

Oh heck, golf is done, coffee cup is drained and I must return to work mode … bye bye for now.


Filed under ranting