Category Archives: makes

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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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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Love in a cold climate …

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The cotton threads have been vacuumed up, the second machine put away and my sewing room is showing very little evidence that me and my girl were ever constructing a quilt in there. But we did, and it’s finished …

You’ll know from my last post that quilting isn’t really my thing, but we muddled through and created a really meaningful, personal and beautiful quilt (if I say so myself!). Once we’d sewn the strips (see last post) together and made one complete sheet, my girl was sent off to pack while I put it all together.

photo 3Choosing a backing fabric took a lot of thought as I wanted to use something I already had in my stash. Luckily this lovely stripe from Tinsmiths screamed “quilt me” and any thoughts of the summer skirt it was intended for, vanished into thin air. To make it the right size, I added width and length with a patchwork border of fabrics we’d used in the main quilt.

Once I’d got the batting sandwiched between the top and bottom layers, I trimmed the edges square and started to tack them together. I’m sure there is a ‘proper’ way to do this but I basically sat in the middle and smoothed all the ripples to the outside edges until it was as flat as a pancake, then I rolled the ends tightly (thank you for that top tip Mum), towards the centre and tacked from the middle out until it was secure.

photo 4With sore fingers, a bit of eye strain and only two days before departure, I whisked it back to the sewing machine and began to quilt.

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photo 5My machine has never taken such a beating. I propped the quilt up on a chair and fed through the layers, row after row, clunkety, clunk! Finally when all the rows were complete, I made some bias binding from the off cuts and completed the make. Here it is finished and drying in the autumnal sunshine …

photo 8photo 10In the panic packing that preceded her departure, I completely forgot to take any photos of it dry, so thank you to My Girl for sending me some pics of it in situ …

P1050261P1050250 It was a brilliant project to do and a pleasure to make it with my gorgeous girl. Apparently, it gets quite cold up north, so snuggle up poppet and thank you for the sewing fun times for sure, I love you! X

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Arrivals and departures …

My girl and I have been united in the sewing room. Dusty cotton fluff flying round us, the calming hum of two working sewing machines, a radio play keeping us gripped and chamomile tea and chocolate for fuel.

We are making a patchwork quilt together …and it’s good.

photo 2aNow before I go any further, I’d like to confess that I am not really that into quilting. I do love a nice patchwork, but when it comes to making them I’m a bit of a mismatched and haphazard kinda gal. Any form of planning bores me a little bit whilst the thought of clashing colours and the luck of the draw is pretty appealing. I rebel against my graphic design training – corners meeting at a precise points? No siree. Luckily, my girl feels the same way!

photo 1aRight now we have got as far as raiding the fabric stash and choosing pieces  with meaning and memories (mixed in with a quilting pack found in Oxfam about 5 years ago). We’ve (sort of) worked out the amount we’ll need for a single quilt (told you I was hopeless!) and started to sew the squares together, pressing as each row is finished.

photo 3aThis isn’t the first quilt I’ve made for my girl. When I was pregnant with her and strapped for cash, I ordered a pack of tiny sample swatches from a quilting company and used them along with some of my own scraps for a cot quilt …

quilt 2

quilt 1photo 3I blame the wonky quilting on the enormous bump that sat between myself and the machine! The day she arrived, our hearts melted, our world changed and our love was immeasurable … I’m sure you know what I mean.

Eight more rows and we’ll have enough (I think) …

photo 5aWith the first quilt being for a special arrival, nineteen years on, this one is for a special and exciting (although at the moment she is terrified) departure. We have four weeks to finish this before my girl flies the nest to wing her way up north to study.

It’s not a “departure” departure, I have it on good authority that she’ll be home for Christmas … !

 

 

 

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Anna the poster girl …

IMG_4300Happy Friday everyone! It’s been so hot here today and lucky for me, I had the day off. Did I sit in the garden and watch the swifts? No I did not, I sat in my sewing room (sun blazing through the windows, iron on, hot and sweaty, you get the picture) and made a By Hand London dress … as you do.

IMG_4285This is my third Anna (I’ve yet to blog about Anna number 2, but you can see the first one here) and I love them all but of course this one is a bit special (what with the gathered skirt and patch pockets). Please excuse the white/ blue/ dead legs, I just can’t seem to find the time to do a fakey on them (and please also ignore that damp patch on the wall, it’s all about the dress, the dress!) …

IMG_4282Apologies for the blurry photos too (so many apologies!), not sure if this was after Jimmy had had a cider or before …

IMG_4281I love this dress, I’d forgotten all about the beauty of a patch pocket too, so you will see more of them I guarantee.

The cotton (which was a dream to sew) is a Rose and Hubble print from Sew Over It (my new sewing crush). I can’t stop looking at their website and I actually do dream about their fabric selection (really, I do). I’d intended to use this for a skirt but the whole summer dress obsession thing took over and I couldn’t stop myself. There is literally nothing left from 2 metres!

Ok, you’ve had enough of the dress and you want to know about my gorgeous poster don’t you? It’s just the bees knees isn’t it? My Lovely Dad gave it to me, a left over from his teaching days (rescued from a skip when the school ‘modernised’). It’s been hanging in their house for years and have tried to steal it on several occasions. Finally he got the message … thank you Dad.

IMG_4303Have a lovely weekend!

 

 

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A Lilou for Lily …

When I found some striped curtains in a Chipping Norton charity shop a couple of months ago, they screamed out (as is often the case) “Buy Me! I look like something from your past!”, a shirt that my mum made for my brother when he was little to be precise, I had to have them!

curtainsThey were washed and ironed and sitting on my sewing table when my Lovely Girl spotted them and asked if I would transform them into a dress for her … With pleasure!

photo 1We decided to use the Lilou pattern from Tilly’s new book ‘Love at First Stitch‘, swapping the pleated skirt for a gathered one and adding essential pockets too.

photo 3It was a perfect sewing project, clearly explained with beautiful photographs and suggestions on variations. I did have to make a SBA (small bust adjustment) as my girl is quite dainty, but found this tutorial from Christine Haynes really helpful.

After quite a lot of trying on and pinning (all whilst knee deep in paint and perspex – her, not me), I felt happy with the fit and sewed up the bodice and lining (with a bit of cotton from my stash).

photo 4The belt (it’s pinned here, hence the wobble) is made following Tilly’s Bow Belt tutorial (swapping the bow for a big, bold, purple and pearl button from my button tin) and it helps to nip the waist in perfectly.

photo 5photo 2All done and I think she likes it. No she loves it, phew! She may wear it to her Final Art Show party at the weekend. She may not (who knows what to wear for definite until the very last nano second, especially at 18?) but I’m fine with her just hanging it on her door for now, it looks good there …

It’s a shame she’s so much smaller than me, I’d steal it otherwise!

 

 

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