Category Archives: Uncategorized

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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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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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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Findings, bindings, buttons and more …

photo 1I’ve just spent a couple of lovely days in the company of my parents and we did the obligatory trip to every single charity shop in the county. As you do.

My parents are the king and queen of charity shop shopping and they have trained me well. Our time in these wonderful little havens is generally spent spreading ourselves out, searching for Bob Dylan CDs and Donna Leon books (my dad, not me) and patterns, fabric, buttons and other exciting notions (me and my mum). Once Dad is certain there is nothing left unturned, he’ll wait patiently outside eyeing up the pound shop, while my lovely mum and I continue on our very important mission.

denimYes, that is 2.6 metres of pink denim for £3.99 that you see before you! Before that, hooks, eyes, binding and buttons complete with their own tobacco tin (complete with their own tobacco smell) for 50p.

And what’s this? Could it be …

photo 5-1

photo-8Only Ann Ladbury’s “Dressmaker” A Sewing Guide for Beginners! Yes it was £1.99 and yes I am feeling a little bit smug excited!

I should have stuck with illustration, look at this fabulous artwork!

photo 3photo 2-1

So many pretty pictures and saucy ladies looking hot in dressing gowns draped over car bonnets! What’s more, it’s come complete with untouched, well looked after, still in their packet, patterns!

photo 2Not only did I find all these goodies, but something else, even better and more exciting happened …

My lovely Mum only went and cracked my biggest fear and showed me how to knit!

knitOk, ok, I know it doesn’t look like much, but to me it isn’t a long, acrylic based scarf type ‘thing’ full of errors and missed stitches. To me it’s a thing of beauty, an art form, a much longed for skill (seriously!) and if you’ve read this post before, you’ll know why.

I can’t actually cast off yet, so it may be a very long scarf for an unsuspecting doll (if I can find one). My parents had to leave in the end. They were worn out from my demanding charity shop regime and quite frankly I think I frightened them with my ability to simultaneously knit and jump for joy. Knitting needles in hands whilst leaping about hugging and squealing shouldn’t be allowed.

Gosh, I’m exhausted … By the way, can anyone recommend a good knitting book for beginners?


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Tintastic sewing space …

I have a new sewing space …

photoNo more stepping over pattern pieces just to get into bed, no more picking pins from sore toes, no more magnificent amounts of dust on the duvet, no more thread in the bed. Whoopee! I have to keep stopping what I’m doing just so I can go and have another look at it and shuffle my vintage tins about!



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Consuming not creating …

I have given up on my laptop, he has been sitting unused and alone in the kitchen for two weeks now and is slowly morphing into a coaster. He’ll be a chopping board soon if I don’t rescue him. I feel ashamed to say that I have given up on him, the pulsating green light of his battery life is fading and my interest in him is waning. I haven’t written a blog for ages because it just seems cruel to put me him through the frustrating agony of attempting to do anything at all with the old codger.

I now have an ipad. I don’t want to seem ungrateful … (deep breath) but, does anyone else get in a pickle publishing posts? Am I the only one who can read blogs no problem, but try and leave a comment, things go a little (ahem) weird? A little research has shown that it can be done with a vast amount of apps and patience but for heavens sake, I’m a simple kind of gal and anything involving my brain having to think outside the box (computer wise that is) well, I’m as low wattage as they come. I almost miss my comatose laptop, I feel robbed.

Don’t worry. I have discovered that at certain times of the day, the much used family mac is free for my use and do you know, it’s amazing! Faster than a trolly sweep in a vintage fabric shop (ok maybe not that fast), it makes a nice change to write whilst sitting in a chair rather than lounging on the bed and then forgetting that there’s tea to cook and falling asleep with the charger burning a hole in the duvet.

So it’s not all bad. Participation and commenting should soon resume! In the meantime, I have discovered there is some truth in the saying that the ipad is for consuming not creating …

imageI’m very naughty, sorry.


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My hardy Laurel …

Say hello to my Colette Laurel dress number 2 …


Squint and ignore those wrinkles, instead focus on the lovely colour and the usefulness of this little number. If I keep my arms down and perhaps forward a little, like I’m about to pick up a small child, those wrinkles aren’t quite so bad, honest. Oh bum boils, I hadn’t noticed them when Jimmy took the photo, but later that night when I was lying on the sofa watching Educating Yorkshire (bloody brilliant), my armpits started to die and it dawned on me that there was something not quite right! 


I think I know what happened. I cut the fabric (as before) in a slightly A line shape but once sewn up it felt a bit shapeless. I debated putting some darts at the front but in the end decided on the easier option (doh) of taking it in at the sides. I may have started too high up and hence have a little less room for my ample (excuse me while I laugh my head off) bosom. I shan’t do that again, that’s for sure.

The fabric is from last years trip to Walthamstow, a very cheap teal crepe and quite a weighty and tough one too (heaven knows what the composition is as it’s a tiny bit scratchy!). The only changes I made were to create that slight A line shape, lengthen the sleeves and add a little bib detail with black binding and a couple of buttons from my stash. I do love this dress despite the “issues”. The versatility of this pattern excites me and I’m tempted to make yet another in denim, patch pockets and all, as I’m sure I’d wear it lots.

Right, off to watch One Man and his Dog with a mug of chestnut soup. Batten down the hatches, there’s a storm brewing!




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