Category Archives: ranting

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.


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My festival Anna and wear your helmet! …

On Thursday, my boy was sixteen. Where did that time go? Oh my!

We went to London for the day to look at fabric bicycle shops. I forced myself to look away from the tube map that showed quite clearly we were travelling at high speed, away from the direction of Goldhawk Road, did a bit of deep breathing and managed to keep my mouth shut. Yes, I was stoic and I made all the right, enthusiastic noises whilst  fixie spotting (there are so many on the East London streets) and admiring carbon fibre wheels. It was a great day. Except my boy pointed out that NO ONE cool bothers to wear a helmet in London. Now, I love cycling and I love cyclists, but as we watched a hipster dart across traffic and almost collide with a white van, I pointed out that not wearing a helmet doesn’t mean you are cool it means you are a dick head. What’s a mother to do? Why the hell it’s legal to ride without one is beyond me.


I digress, sorry … As I am having a bit of bother with my Cambie (almost sorted btw), I decided to take a break and try out the lovely Anna Dress of By Hand London for my boy’s birthday outing. I bit the bullet and cut with confidence into an amazingly gorgeous vintage fabric (see above) that I’ve had in my stash for years and years, it takes my breath away, I love it so much! I’ve been tempted to use it a couple of times now but have always chickened out, then I decided that realistically I will never think I’m good enough to use it and hey, I could get knocked off my bike tomorrow so live for today and cut away!

I didn’t make a muslin (doh!), I checked my measurements and was quite confident that it would work.


It almost worked. I’ve decided I have a narrow back (really?), hence the gape across it. Not wanting to unpick my invisible zip (the fabric is quite delicate), I pinched some of the excess fabric from the neckline and created two new darts, altering the facing to match. Hmm, I think it looks ok, but I wish I’d re-read Karen’s post before I cut it out and too late I noticed Lizzy had the same problem, it’s not just me, phew!

Then I noticed the gape at the front, I’m a bit perplexed in all honesty because I seem to have this problem with every pattern (my London dress had similar issues) and I’m not sure what to do, perhaps the V neck would have worked better?

Anyway (what a rambling post), it’s lovely, I love it and the shape is so flattering, I can see why it’s so popular. I used French seams in the bodice but overlocked the skirt pieces before stitching together (all seven of them!) as this fabric frays for England. I love the pleated bodice and fitted waist, it’s so feminine. I wore mine with a belt on our day out but today I’m wearing it minus the belt and it’s just as shapely.


This is my first make from By Hand London and it probably took me about five hours with all my fiddling about with my baggy bits. It’s actually very straightforward to assemble (for normal people!) and I’m so happy that I used this precious fabric as it suits the style perfectly. I hemmed it the day of our trip up town, half an hour before the train left (phew) and consequently re-hemmed it this morning, only this time straight!




With my boys birthday over, I am thinking this is a good festival dress (it even says so on the packet!). I’m not sure why maxi dresses are recommended for festivals as I see nothing but muddy hems and awkward maneuvers in the very dodgy portaloos, but the shorter version is perfect! As we are off to Green Man very soon, this is definitely coming with me! I’m just hoping it won’t rain quite so much this year …



Right, where’s my boy, I need to permanently attach that helmet to his head and remind him that he may be sixteen but he’ll always be my baby!



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Welsh wool and sunshine …

Just back from a sunny, quiet and beautiful holiday in Wales, it seems so noisy here in comparison (car alarms, church bells and dogs at this very moment!). This was a back to basics kind of holiday, no internet access for a start, no telly either, but a whole pile of books, a pack of cards and more importantly just the four of us having a good time. Yes, I did squeeze my sewing machine into the boot, but more on that another day!


The weather was brilliant (I know! In Wales!) and most days were spent at the beach, reading and eating and eating and reading but we did manage to visit the National Wool Museum one day, and I’m so pleased. It’s a working museum housed in the former Cambrian Mills and if you love textiles, you cannot visit the Teifi Valley and not pay it a visit! The story of the Welsh textile industry, historical recordings of the people that worked there, the smell of wool, the handsome talented craftsman demonstrating the machinery, exhibitions and a rather good cafe to boot, perfect.

IMG_3230 IMG_3227

IMG_3228I could have moved in there, lost in a huge dream bubble of carding, warping and weaving, only I think they’d have noticed the nutty English woman who can’t even knit let alone speak Welsh.

IMG_3223Yes, that is my Miz Mozelle dress I’m wearing, (just to remind myself that although I can’t knit or speak Welsh, I can make my own clothes) thank you!

If you go before 2nd November you’ll catch the Kaffe Fassett exhibition and there’s also the work of artist in residence Julie Griffiths Jones dotted about.

Right, off to get my Grandmother’s Welsh wool blanket out of the cupboard and appreciate it all over again …


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The end of May … phew!

Me Made May draws to a close today and although I totally love the concept (thank you Zoe), I have to admit, I am a little more than relieved that it’s almost over …

Despite being very good at not photographing my efforts and the odd “didn’t you have that on yesterday?”, I’m very pleased to report that I managed to wear one home made item five days a week (I pledged that I would wear at least three, so that’s a positive!). I also attempted to make some trousers (another part of my pledge) and after a lengthy battle that threatened my relationship with my brain (such a puzzle), I gave up, so that’s a fail (… it’s fine, honestly and thank you so much for the encouraging comments on my last post!).

What did I learn? Don’t attempt trousers when you are busy and stressed for a start (the pattern and bits of fabric are now shoved in a carrier at the back of a cupboard). I also realised very quickly that I relied heavily on certain items to get me out of a MMM hole. I recorded everything I wore in my notebook but to be honest, I bored myself with the amount of times I wore a Sorbetto, so I shan’t inflict anymore of the list on you. In fact my outfits revolved around three dresses, five tops and this skirt that I forgot to take a picture of! A multitude of cardi’s helped with variety, but ooh, can you see why I struggled?


Losers? My denim Hollyburn is lovely but not with tights and so, frustratingly it hasn’t been worn yet (the English weather!), so a winner really, just not in May. The real losers in fact, were all the cheap fabric makes, my Mathilde being the biggest culprit, I tried to wear it at least once a week but took it off again straight away. I just can’t get comfy in this version (so clingy), I will have to make another in cotton to do the pattern justice.

Winners? The Sorbettos, Laurel top and Violet (thank you Colette) because they suited me and I could wear them with jeans and throw on a cardigan and really didn’t have to give much time or thought to my outfits (quite handy when I’m busy). My Laurel dress also had its share of wear on chilly days with tights and boots.

In conclusion? MMM ’13 was a bit of a struggle for me, but I’m really pleased I had a go. Yes, I am a bit bored  with the repeat appearances of certain tops. Yes, I could do with a few ‘basics’, the Renfrew is going to be a birthday request I think (you’ll see I’ve linked it just in case Jimmy is reading this). Yes, I have far too many polka dot items (is that possible?) and yes, I need to buy some lovely Liberty cotton (I’m shameless, hello Jimmy). But, and here’s the thing, it’s given me an appreciation of the things I’ve made that do work and most importantly …

… a desire to make lots more.

Have a nice weekend! x



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Me Made May days 8 to 14

Days 8 – 14:
8th May: Cold enough to be able to wear my Laurel dress with some tights and boots.
9th May: No MMM today, hectic night before and so jeans and jumper for work.
10th May: Spotty Dotty Sorbetto (this is such a useful top) and jeans.
11th May: Sunny pink Sorbetto to brighten up an otherwise dull old day with a green cardigan and jeans.
12th May: No me mades today either but I’m still on target so don’t be too disappointed!
13th May: My London Dress gets another day out and some compliments too.
14th May: Laurel dress again, with charity shop cardi.

Me Made May is very clever. Like a wise parent of a child that thinks they know best, it gently nudges you in the right direction, allowing you to think you came to the correct outcome yourself without any help whatsoever.

For me, I know I have gaping holes in my wardrobe, but the little girl in me (very, very deep inside and refusing to go anywhere because who wants to grow up?) continues to make sweet dresses. Me Made May watches over me each morning and knowingly smiles as I stand in my undies at the open wardrobe and sigh, “Bugger, what the hell can I wear today?” I think it’s time to except MMM knows best and make myself some trousers …

and I will, just as soon as I finish this dress …




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What to wear …

Well, this could be a very boring post about Me Made May as I haven’t taken any photos of my outfits! I know, it’s very naughty but to be honest, I’ve just been having a nice old time and not worrying about capturing the fashion of the day and I’m afraid you’ll have to take my word for it that I have fulfilled my pledge for week one. So, here’s a run down of days 1–7 …

May 1st: Panic! Is it May 1st already?! I didn’t plan the night before plus I am late for work, so out with the Violet blouse teamed with shop bought (sorry) trousers.
May 2nd: My bright little Laurel and jeans (yes I know, jeans. Damn).
May 3rd and 4th: Erm, I spent these two days clearing out the loft and wore my ancient Levis with my daughter’s t-shirt. It’s Ok though, in my pledge I said I would wear me made clothes for three days a week (phew!)
May 5th: Are you still with me? My purple Sorbetto, spotty, dotty number (the one with sleeves) … and jeans of course.
May 6th: OOh, exciting it’s hot enough for a dress for a friends BBQ! My newly altered London dress today!
May 7th: And its hot again so on with my Swishy Swashy dress. Two Simplicity 2444s one day after the other!

So, what has the challenge done for me this week? Well, I swear my London Dress would still be sadly hanging in the wardrobe with its saggy neckline had it not been for MMM’13. So, I’m very happy that I had the kick up the backside on that one! I’m also looking forward to ‘re-stitching’ some of my early makes and that may expand my choice a little.

And then there’s the question of making some trousers (I haven’t forgotten the pledge), I just need some courage and I’ll get going on that. In the meantime, I can’t stop looking at this … exciting!



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Me Made May …


May is always a funny month (clothes-wise) for me. All winter I wear warm thick tights and boots with skirts and dresses and all summer I wear sandals or pumps with skirts and dresses (unless it’s the summer of 2012 when only wellies were worn). I love wearing skirts and dresses, this is a fact.

Now Spring, well that’s a grey area – too warm for tights and too cold for bare legs and I wind up wearing jeans which I neither like nor dislike, all the time. It gets soooo boring!


Thank goodness Me Made May is just around the corner. I have decided to take a good hard look at what I have made and ask myself ‘why is it that I NEVER HAVE ANYTHING TO WEAR!’? In fact, I hardly ever wear what I make and looking at this little lot, it’s something I need to address. Am I making what I fancy rather than what I need? Am I in a rut? I think so. So …

I, Amy of Sylkotwist, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’13. I endeavour to wear at least three items of me made clothes each week for the duration of May 2013. I will revisit past makes and snip and stitch so that I’ll want to wear them and make a pair of trousers because there’s more to life than jeans. Oh, and I will have fun in the process!’

Thanks to Zoe and good luck to everyone participating!


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No excuses …

Happy New Year! I have no excuses for my absence or lack of sewing, just a head full of silly stuff that has pushed all the lovely stuff into a tiny corner. I read in a magazine this week (yes, I have time to read magazines?!) that “a thought can only take up as much space in your head as you allow it to” (Pause Button Therapy by Martin and Marion Shirran, perhaps I should buy the book?). The idea being that by simply repeating this mantra stops your brain from allowing the thought to build up out of all proportion, magic!


Any old how, Christmas and the run up to it, as for everyone, was hectic. We went to Wales for the New Year which was heavenly. Beautiful landscapes, long walks in the fresh air and plenty of farm animals to entertain, all good for the sole.

As I have no projects on the go, I should show you what my mum made me for Christmas …


Two crochet flower corsages and two pairs of fingerless gloves (the photo does not do these justice) which are very useful when typing in the cold (Oh dear, I’ve just noticed the dog hairs on the teal gloves curtesy of the sheep dog where we stayed)!

I treated myself to two new books on a boxing day walk through town. The Works had Dottie Angel’s Granny Chic for £5.99 which was a pleasant surprise and the much blogged about Sew U Home Stretch also £5.99. I am now itching for a caravan with crochet blankets galore and a vintage curtained area for an overlocker so I can make a knitted fabric based capsule wardrobe!


I have also just purchased two new patterns (everything in twos), the Colette Jasmine blouse which I have needed for some time and the new Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt which looks like it may make my bottom look massive but I’m going to try it anyway!

I do have lots of things in mind to make which I will mention here just for my own reference. I must not forget the new Negroni shirt I have planned for Jimmy (a belated anniversary gift, he’s been so patient). The Ginger skirt that is now downloadable from Colette (as are Jasmine and Crepe, exciting!) and a dress which I’m hoping to recreate from memory using a mixture of patterns I already own (it could of course go horribly wrong). It was a vintage, velvet delight that I saw in Summertown just before Christmas. I stupidly told myself that I didn’t need it and even as I left the shop I knew I was making a mistake. The fact it didn’t have a price tag is why I hesitated, but I so regret not asking. Anyway, it’s gone now so I’ll never know! Perhaps I’ll recreate it, and my version won’t have the little hole in the sleeve or the musty smell …

As a final thought, I am working with an illustrator at the moment (in my day job) who is driving me mental with his fluffiness at not meeting deadlines, honestly you wouldn’t believe the excuses he comes out with in his emails  for not actually doing what he should be doing. It has occurred to me that maybe, just maybe I could possibly be his sewing equivalent? Oh Lordy! Just a thought, but I don’t like it …

I’ll be back x


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What’s next …

Reverse, 2002-2003, by Jenny Saville

On Saturday, we saw the Jenny Saville exhibition at Modern Art Oxford. It was brilliant, it took my breath away, you should see it if you can (hurry though it’s only on until 16th September). I took my parents and teens on Friday and was so impressed, I insisted on another trip with Jimmy the very next day!

You really need to see the scale of her paintings to appreciate the impact, but if you can’t make it, take a look here.

Today I have been thinking about what to make next. I have done an awful lot of thinking and an awful lot of looking at what everyone else is making. You are all making a lot! I have ordered some samples so hopefully I’ll be able to pair up my patterns (of which I have plenty to be getting on with) with some material (of which I haven’t enough)! Watch this space …

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Real women, spots and all …

This time last week I was at the Green Man festival hiding under my duvet while the rain hammered down on the roof of my tent sounding like bad interference on a broken radio (not the weather of last years festival). Outside my bunting was sodden, the ground was quickly turning to thick, muddy slop and and I know I wasn’t the only one wishing I’d stayed at home …

Ok, I was the only one.

Jimmy and the teens all seemed to take this set-back in their stride and not wanting to be a party pooper (my girl turned 17), I got my fetching waterproof trousers and wellies on and braved the chocolate custard (positive thinking) footpaths. Actually, it wasn’t so bad, the sun did come out a few times and the atmosphere at Green Man is always lovely and friendly, so what’s not to like (the mud?!).

Anyway, why am I talking about the Green Man festival on my sewing blog? Well, great bands aside, Metronomy, Beth Jean Houghton, of Montreal, The Walkmen, King Creosote and John Hopkins, Tuneyards, oh and so many more (notice I’ve not included Van Morrison or Dexy’s … sorry but no, no, no!), I was really taken with watching other festival goers this year. So many lovely people to look at and so many outfits to examine in the loo queue too.

(A nice gin and tonic every now and again helped me through it)

On our way to Wales, we stopped at a service station and I fell for the old ‘treat yourself to a magazine’ number. I bought myself the September issue of InStyle, what terrible mistake that was. Now, I’m not a huge magazine lover anyway, but this one really got on my nerves. Talk about being packed with adverts and unrealistic, pouting women who make you feel a bit poo about yourself while you’re sinking in mud, wearing filthy jeans and a dodgy hat to hide your greasy hair. It seemed like everyone featured in it had wealthy or celebrity connections and it started to really get on my pitta breads. Daisy Lowe is gorgeous of course, but honestly, her mother is Pearl; Stella Tennant might be ‘fashion talent’ (?) but she happens to be the grandaughter of the Duchess of Devonshire; Victoria Beckham is in the guide to the ‘hottest 100 designers’ (did she struggle at art college?) then there’s Georgia May Jagger (I can’t think who she could be related to), all that pandering and gushing (“5 reasons why we love Blake Lively” … urgh!) to beautiful women and I was almost vomiting.

Phew, got that off my chest. The Green Man festival was brimming with beautiful, natural women of all shapes and sizes. I can’t believe I subjected myself to the utterly pointless page turning of this magazine when all I had to do was leave my tent to see unique individuals with their own personal style and bucket loads of airbrush-free, natural beauty at all ages and they were REAL WOMEN!

Have a lovely weekend! x

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