Wednesday, December 27, 2017

2017 - Gosh I made a lot of stuff!

 I hope you  have all had a wonderful and restful few days off. I know I have!  Recently I purchased a bullet journal and although I am not going to show you my scribbles, I will say that I am really getting into the planning! This year although I have made a lot of stuff much of it is undocumented. Either here or on instagram ( in some cases I haven't even got photos) which in hindsight I am a little sad about.
Anyway I though I would do a bit of a round up of my makes as best I can and hopefully start a fresh in the new year.

So my #2017makenine overall I was pretty pleased with how this worked out. I have made 7 of 9. My Anna and Cleo dresses have been the best makes as I have made both multiple times and I have worn them all lots! The funny thing about the Anna dress is that I have had it literally years but just never got around to it. The others I have made only once, but with the exception of the Heather dress I will probably make them again. My little Morris blazer was made on Friday night so fairly close to the wire but it  was a quick make and if I hadn't had to put the sewing machine away I would probably have made another straight away.

The fabric was from Fabworks about 6 weeks ago and was an impulse purchase ( the lady in front of me had it in her pile and I grabbed some). It doesnt really show in the photo what a gorgeous combination of green and blue it is, but you can tell that it is a great pattern and looks good with jeans. I am hoping it will look equally good dressed up.

Then there have been all of the other things that have been made. I joined in two sewing challenges on Instagram. One was a to make a shirt dress and I made the little red one above. McCalls m6696 a very popular pattern in the sewing community and I can see why . Good instructions, and pieces that fit together very well. I would definitely like to make this again. 

The other was sleevefest you had to design a sleeve for a garment. I really enjoyed this and spent a lot of time looking at tattoos. The dress which it is in the picture above made the finals at which point I promptly took it apart again as I plan on doing more embroidery on it.

Probably my favourite make of the year has got to be Oriana's prom dress. We planned it and made it together. It fit her like a glove and she loved wearing it especially as it was completely unique for her.
My most used patterns of the year have been the SOI pussy bow blouse and the SOI ultimate pencil skirt. The skirt pattern has been used 6 times. 3 for me and 3 for Elenya . I have made the blouse 4 times, once for me and three times for Elenya. They are the perfect work wear combination. Although my skirts and blouse are too wild to put year I must make some plain stuff!

Knitting wise I have been quite slow. I finished the socks for mum's christmas present and I managed to complete my Agatha Cardigan Andi Satterlund that I cast on last christmas but that has been about it. I have cast Hetty by Andi Satterlund on Christmas day( can you see a recurring theme)  so hopefully should be able to share a finished garment with you in the next week or two.

Anyway that is my round up wishing you a wonderful new year.

A x

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Well hello Dolly!

Afternoon all,

So today I really want  to talk about the unloved projects. You know the ones that you rushed out and got all the materials for, started with such enthusiasm and left in the drawer. Am I the only one who has these ? Surely not!

Anyway I have been trying to declutter over the last couple of months and it seems it is not just me that has a few of these projects ,but the kids did too and were keen to chuck them all out! Well  I couldn't let yarn go in the bin without first having a rummage . It is true what they say one person's rummage is another's treasure.

Some of them I couldn’t work out what they were supposed to be and those went into the local pet charity but two of them I kept.  A pair of striped socks and a little hand knitted doll.
The socks I am yet to find the pattern for so they might have to wait , But the doll I was in love with and I wanted to cast on straight away.

The AK Traditions doll and clothes I bought at Harrogate probably about nine years ago. At the time I was struck by her vibrant clothes and thought she would be a perfect project for a budding knitter. However the yarn is quite stiff ( with lots of knots) and on smaller needles was too tough for little hands. So the project languished, barely started.

So I frogged the few stitches and cast on. The instructions had a lot of faults, just little things stitch counts mainly,but the doll itself didn’t take much knitting,. A couple of evenings in front of the T.V she was done.

As she isn’t for a child I decided to fill her with cloves and cinnamon ( you can’t tell in the feel, because of how packed the stuffing is)She does smell very nice, rather like a pretty  potpourri!

Then it was onto the clothes. This was a little bit more problematic as I couldn’t find most of the patterns. All those lovely pictures and no patterns, very frustrating! I even emailed the company and messaged a couple of people on Ravelry to see if I could buy more. Luckily the knitting gods were smiling on me as cast off the last leg of the doll , I found the patterns yippee!

Ooh the clothes!!! There are so many amazing combinations you could be at it forever, but as I am just on a yarn using spree I just made these.

I loved making the little skirt, blouse and shoes, it kind of made me feel like I was in the  Elves and the shoemaker ( not a bad feeling this close to Christmas). I am not going to make any more clothes for her I don't think as she isn't that kind of Dolly but if ever get to make another I will definitely make more clothes  as there are so many potentials.

I am wondering if I can finish any more wips before my Christmas Cast on ....Watch this space!

Till next time


Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Saga and Success of the Good Vintage Cardigan

Afternoon all,
today I want to tell you about a project that nearly didn't happen. A good vintage cardigan by Fran Morgan. I saw pictures of the front cover of simply crochet way back in late February and instantly fell in love. As soon as I could I  rushed into town to try and get it, but it seemed everyone else had the same idea.

Unfortuantely everywhere was sold out at which point I had a senior moment and instead of looking on Ravelry I decided to download the app and buy the magazine. The app is shockingly bad and it took several attempts to download before I could actually print out a copy.

The next problem was the yarn King Cole 4ply  silver grey, which is the main colour  had been discontinued . What I predominately liked about the cardigan was the grey. Luckily I have a very good friend, Chris , who owns a Fine Yarn in Darlington and she managed to source the grey for my cardigan and for a friend who also wanted to make it and some of the other colours needed.

By mid July I had finally manged to get the rest of the colours together except the Scarlet, which I had decided to substitute for Rose as I found the scarlet too strong against the other colours.  I realised early on that even though the grey was the same dyelots the grey varied from silver grey to brown grey dependant on the ball so I striped the yarn. Everything was going really well, the pattern is easy to follow and with the exception of the sleeve heads could be done in front of the TV, then the ultimate disaster. I ran out of the grey. I only needed two grey stripes at the top of the sleeves and the button bands although I could of done other colours with them.

No where had any more! Chris hadn't got any more, the internet was drawing a blank. Luckily my friend who wanted also wanted to  make it, hadn't started hers and was willing to lend me the extra yarn that I needed. Thank you Kathy!

I am so glad that I persevered with this as I love the finished result! It is so much fun and very cheerful for grey days. It goes really well with denim which is a bonus as it is an excuse to make yet another Cleo although that might have to wait until after Christmas.

Thursday, October 05, 2017


Afternoon all,

I don't know where the time goes, but yet again I am behind on showing you my projects.Whoops!

There was a point where I had quite a lot of lovely handmade socks , just perfect for the colder weather, but they all seem to have come to the end at the same time. In the last couple of weeks I have been stash diving and today I thought I would show you my latest sock making endeavours.

The first pair were Skimmer socks .I saw a gorgeous pair on IG . I found a free pattern on Ravelry . They are toe up which as a general rule I don't like as I usually hate the Tunisian Cast on. However it all went very smoothly and the little socks were an exceedingly  quick knit which used very little yarn which makes them perfect for using scraps. One friend suggested that they would make great stocking fillers as they would be great for slippers on Christmas morning ( good plan , not sure it will be this year) but would like to make more at some point.

The pair I am making at the moment are Hermione's Everyday Socks . Another free pattern from a designer on Ravelry. I had thought about giving these as a present, sadly I think I have made them a little short in the toes for most people. The pattern although nicely written doesn't have many measurements so I was unsure how long the toe would be. My guesstimate was a bit off . It is not a problem they are a perfect fit for me. I do love the pattern and think it goes really well with the variegated yarn. So pretty! What do you think?

Till next time


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Lovely Lady Liberty!

 Morning all, 
in case you hadn't noticed there is steam coming out of my sewing machine at the moment. Summer holidays and children who can fend for themselves ( The twins are now 16 can you believe it)  means that I have been lucky to have lots of free time and I am enjoying every minute of it.

So this is Anna! This is the Anna that I planned! An elegant easy to make pattern in harmony with iconic Liberty peacock feather fabric that I bought from Fabworks months back  and because I bought enough for that ginormous skirt I still have some left yippee!

After my last version that I do really love, I studied lots of other versions online and realised that mine looked a lot drapier in the neckline. So I took a deep breath  and  tweaked the shoulders and tops of the grown on sleeves back down to a size 10 leaving everything else at a 12 and I have to say that the fit is perfect!

I didn't do french seams as my fabric, even after washing was a bit stiff, so overlocked the raw edges and then added a bit of  luxury by adding a lovely silky bias binding to the armholes and facings.

I finished this last week and have worn it lots already. I omitted the split  from this version which makes it very wearable for pretty much all occasions. I left the length the same as the last one and so far so good I haven't fallen over it!

I can't actually believe it took  me so long to make this  pattern up. If you haven't tried it yet definitely give it a go you won't be disappointed ( Although if you are making the long skirt check the length before you start).

I am planning at least one more Anna dress this year maybe with a circular or half skirt for the cooler months, but for now at least I am still stitching a summer wardrobe!

Till next time when I have a couple of tops to show you.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Laneway Dress - An Honest Review.

Well today is something a little bit different from me, a review of a pattern.

Back in early June Jennifer Lauren Handmade released the Laneway dress and  I thought, yes I really like that! It had three sets of  interesting elements that I was drawn to. The underbust pleats reminded me of the Anna Dress from ByHandLondon, which I hadn't made at that point and K4097 by quick sew which I had! The collar which is very similar to the Rooibos dress by Colette which I have made here. But most importantly it had sleeves which reminded me of the glorious Anna Hack by the very talented Lynne at Ozzy Blackbeard.

Anyway at the end of July Jennifer put a request up for honest reviewers for her Laneway dress and she specified non gushing. My first thought was how refreshing, because like many others I read reviews of  the independent patterns and without fail they gush. They fail to mention the length of bodices and the lack of pattern markings. As a general rule they don't tell you much about the pattern at all just about how much they love their new garment. Don't get me wrong I can understand why, I mean if you are given a free pattern, you are going to want to be chosen the next time too....Not me I rarely gush. So I  excitedly signed up and sadly wasn't successful.

Never mind I have birthday money and some beautiful new fabric that my clever husband bought me from Seasalt fabrics ( definitely worth checking out). So I bought it! The initial download cost just over £10.00 which is slightly more expensive than many of the  English independent companies. I then sent the copy shop version out to NetPrinters. That cost another £5.00 as the different cup sizes (B,C & D) were all in the same file ( Jennifer has said she will look into this) and then I printed out 15 pages of instructions which makes this the most expensive pattern that I have ever bought!

The first hurdle when making your dress is choosing the size and I have to say that I found this incredibly stressful to the point I almost jacked in! There are good instruction on how to decide on your cup size but after that it is a bit like pot luck as to what you are supposed to do with them. My bust came out at 91.5 and should of been a C cup which as far as I could work out would put me in the size 12 but the closet measurement was a size 12 B cup and then when it was finished it would add another 5 cm all the way round. so I took a deep breath and decided to make  the size 10 C cup.

Having said that the illustrations are incredibly detailed and the rest of the step by step instructions are articulate and easy to follow. Jennifer shares tips that I have never seen in any other pattern ( all of which would be very useful if you were new to sewing). She includes a glossary which again is very helpful, although the words "see glossary" in places might be good .

The pattern is very well drafted and all fits together really well ,

the collar was a dream to fit together, (so much easier than the Rooibos for which I still have nightmares about) my only gripe was the pattern markings, there aren't very many .

It would of been really good if the notches were a bit more visible. I think a lot of the indie companies use the same software, but the darker triangles  that you find from big companies are so much easier to trace (these must be virtually impossible for the partially sighted) . Also, although there is information about how to lengthen the pattern, the actual pattern doesn't have a "lengthen here" line, that would be nice.

So the fit you ask, well the size 10 is a very good fit in the back, waist and sides, however I didn't need the C cup. Wearing the bra that I measured in it was very baggy around the boobs ( not a good look)  I ended up lengthening the pleats and with a padded bra it is still a bit baggy but looks pretty good !

Did I make it exactly as the pattern? No I didn't add interfacing as the facing fabric that I used was a lot stiffer than the fabric for the dress I omitted the pockets as my fabric is too fine to withstand that kind of strain an I also lined the skirt for modesty as my fabric is very sheer!

Would I make this again? Yes ( although in a smaller cup size)
The instructions were very clear as were the diagrams and I didn't have to re read anything.
It was a quick easy make and  I really love the finished product. it is feminine and could be dressed up or down. There are also two other necklines to choose from so you are fairly spoilt for choice . I really  fancy a wool one for winter, maybe with piping.

Was it difficult? No although it specifies intermediate sewer, a brave beginner could take this on as the only fiddly bit is the zip.

Would I recommend it? Yes although it is quite a pricey download, the quality of the instructions and tips makes it worth while for both beginners and intermediate sewers.You also have a couple of different necklines to choose from which means you definitely get value for money.

So that is my review . Did you find it helpful? Will you make it? Let me know!

Monday, July 31, 2017

My first Anna Dress

Morning all,
try not to be too shocked, but today I am going to treat you to some up to date sewing! The Anna dress from By Hand London is one of my #2017makenine. It has been on my things to make for literally years as I rushed out and bought the pattern when it was rumoured that By Hand London were taking all of their patterns to PDF ( I don't think that ever happened). I don't actually know why it has taken me so long to make it up either. There are literally hundreds of inspiring examples all over the internet, not to mention all of the amazing hacks out there! Google it if you get a minute.

Anyway I have bought two lots of fabric for this dress now. Some very beautiful liberty cotton from Fabworks ( cutting that out later today )  and this cheap, gorgeous green stuff from B and M fabrics when I went to #sewupnorth which was going to be my toile.

I was little disappointed by the green, as I loved it so much in the shop , but it has bled the green into the cream. It is, I hope, only noticeable to me as I still love it and  you get what you pay for .

I decided on the boat neck long version which reminds me of a purple silk number I owned about 20 years ago.The original length of the skirt was very, very long and although I wish I was this  tall I had to cut 5 inches off of the bottom. I made the  the size 12 bodice exactly as it was and it is a fairly good fit.... although looking at mine in comparison to many of the other versions out there I am not sure that I couldn't have made a sba  in the bust  as I can get this version on over my head without undoing it. This could be however due to the drapey nature of the fabric.

The pattern has lovely illustrations and techniques - french seams throughout . As this was just a toile I chose to just overlock the seams which definitely sped me up. I promise to do it properly on my next version. :)
The pattern had a choice of splits left/right or without. I am not sure if you can tell but I kept the split in for this version as it is so lovely and drapey that I thought it would work well. It does and I think probably has saved me from breaking my neck a couple of times since wearing it. If I decide to leave the split out of the next one I might have to raise the hemline slightly.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Odgen Cami - A pattern better than chocolate!

Morning all,
Happy Saturday!
As I am on a mission of full disclosure. I thought I had better spill the beans on probably my favourite sewing pattern/ dress fabric scrap-buster ever!

My daughters( especially the eldest ) buy a lot of vest tops and camisoles tops and I mean a lot predominantly from Primarni and other fashion establishments. I had  been looking at them, and admiring them, whilst thinking how hard can one of those be?

Not hard is the answer! The Ogden Cami by True Bias is the perfect little top. They are so easy! All you have to do is buy it, print it out and stick it together or if you are lazy like me get to print them  and you are good to go.

The pattern is very straightforward with easy to  follow instructions  and with a little bit of juggling it will decimate any of the larger scraps you come across. You can also make one in an hour. It is perfect for a novice sewer and immediate gratification for everybody else.

This lovely version was made out an odd shaped  scrap that I picked up off the scrap table at #sewupnorth.

 I lined it all the way through as the fabric was a bit scratchy . I do think I like this method better as it seems to create a smoother line and obviously would be a good idea for sheer fabrics.

I have made 6 ( 5 for me and one for the eldest daughter ) so far all out of oddments and I have another couple cut out ready to go. I just love it. If you haven't tried it you really should give it a go!

Friday, July 28, 2017


Morning all, I know right my blog posts are a bit like busses right?!
I thought I would tell you about the #thebigstitch that the British Heart Foundation are running on instagram and other social Media this month.

The idea is that you go into one of their shops, buy something and then transform it into something new that you would love to wear.

When I saw it, I immediately loved the concept, but was a little sceptical that I would find anything that would inspire me. I mean how often do you wander around the shops, with an idea, and come back with something suitable? Pretty much never!  Anyway my friend Sarah and I had a mooch around our local shop on Monday just on the off chance that I might find something. I had looked through all of the women's clothes, all of the linens and was just about to give up when I spotted two perfectly matched men's shirts.

At £4.98 each they were a bit of a bargain and I knew that they wouldn't fit either of the men in my life so I wouldn't feel guilty cutting them up ( I didn't realise my that the daughters would be eyeing them up....).

I took them home and washed them together and although the dark blue did bleed slightly into the white of the other shirt I think it actually enhanced the fabric.

I used my Newlook6483 as a starting point but decided on a bit of a homage to the lovely Dear and Doe Datura pattern so kept the bottom of the patterned shirt exactly as it was cutting it off under the armpits and adding two strips of the dark blue shirt as the top.

 I would love to have been able to have a play at copying the Datura neckline but I just didn't have enough fabric. As I have several of the dear and doe patterns on my wish list including this one the neckline can wait for another outing. As it was I had to unpick the pockets from the navy shirt in order to make facings, which was a little traumatic as my seam ripper and I nearly fell out.
The newlook pattern is designed to have a seam down the back which I took out, however I thing I could of taken a bit more off the back as you can see it is a little gapey. I guess it is probably only me who will be that critical.

Overall I am really pleased with how my little top turned out and I will be stalking my local charity shops in the near future to see if I can find any other goodies for upcycling projects.

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