high top hoodie

Jungle January: the dash of the rusty leopard

I can’t believe this is the third year of Jungle Januaries!  Annie at Pretty Grievances cracks me up with her fabulous& witty  herding of jungle printed makers.    I couldn’t let it pass by unnoticed, could I?  Especially when I had some animal print (I call it rusty leopard, hence the title) fromUKFabrics Online that I’d ordered a while ago (it’s still in stock) thinking that leopard legs would make me faster.  I will never know as I have made it into a top.

high top hoodie

But I am not going to tell you much about this top as it is an as yet unreleased top by Kitschy Koo, the High Top Hoodie.  I was a pattern tester (yay!)  & will save my review of it for when you can lay our hands on your own version to sew yourselves.

High top hoodie

As part of my testing I decided that a sports version would make eminently good sense.  You see it has lots of warm devices – extra long sleeves with thumb holes, a nice covered neck & what hoodie would be complete without said hoodie to keep the draughts at bay.  And winter running  needs must be met.  The fabric incidentally is wicking & silky stretchy polyester – it would make wonderful leggings too.

High top hoodie

I wore it here at the beach, really running (not just posing).  It was a tad chill, hence the woolly hat.  I am wearing it with my Ooh La La running leggings.   It was such hard going that I almost wished I did have leopard legs because would they have made it easier?  They might have?  It was blimmin hard work anyway.

high top hoodie


And just as I decided to goof around, a fellow goofer (my dog niece) decided to give me a whopper on my chops….

high top hoodie


And I loved it.

high top hoodie

And so did she.

high top hoodie

Thank you Muppet Cookson for taking the photos.  Thank you Bramble for cleaning your teeth.


Moneta dress

Polka dot Moneta : #polkadotjanuary

Hello!  It’s almost the end of January and if I am to blog about what I’ve made in time for the two awesome January themes I’d better get cracking.  Today it is  my polka dot Moneta dress just in time for the Sewcialists’ Polka Dot January.  Tomorrow it shall be my contribution to Jungle January!  (Bad planning on my behalf – two blog posts on consecutive days, but hey.  So I am not a blog planner.)

Moneta dress


So what’s the story with this one?  I resisted such a long time getting the Moneta dress by Colette Patterns since I had the Lady Skater dress which is such an awesome pattern.  How could I justify it?  They seemed so similar, plus I knew that the Lady Skater fitted me out of the packet AND had plentiful sleeve options.  But I did like those purty collar / neckline options offered by the Moneta.  And I kept returning to ogle at them.  Also @naomimolly (on Instagram) has to be the most prolific Moneta maker ever beguiling me with dresses of beauty (& clearly practical comfort).

Moneta dress


So there was some kind of special discount offered by Colette Patterns last year & I jumped in for the digital download.  And then prevaricated some more as I have the most wonderful Liberty jersey that I feel is destined to become a Moneta, but clearly, I was not going to test sizing & fit on the length of jersey that had costed me the most I’d ever paid for a length of jersey.  Eventually this black & white polka dot, residing in my stash, volunteered itself.  It’s cheap & cheerful, although has more body that I expected so is actually quite warm to be wearing at this time of year (win!).  The polka dots are the kind that are “painted on”- almost literally it feels- resulting in the underside of the fabric looking like polka dot seersucker with its puckers.   Close up the white dots thinly cover the black background & look distinctly cheap.  From a distance less of an issue?!

Moneta dress

I remember trying to be smart printing out the pdf, but not realising that I had printed out the sleeveless bodiced version & had to hunt around for the longer sleeves that I required.  Such is the luck of the pdf experience.  I decided I would make the plainest longest sleeved version to see how it fit & how it works for then deciding on what options to take advantage of for the Liberty jersey.

Moneta dress

I expected a simple sew & I was not disappointed.  All on my overlocker apart from some of the hems (neck edge, sleeves and skirt hem) that I used my coverstitch for.

Interesting construction to note:  the neck edge in this version is just meant to be a turned edge.  (The Lady Skater has a separate neck band).  I was a little uneasy about this, concerned that it might gape or stretch, so I zig zagged some woven elastic around the wrong side of the neck edge before turning it over and coverstitching through all layers.  It certainly feels more robust, but even then, I could have got a slightly better tension as there is still some slight gaping which I would wish to avoid next time.

Moneta dress

Other interesting construction note: the skirt gathering.  Described as “shirring” in the pattern, you are meant to cut elastic (clear elastic) to a required length (I seem to remember it is based on your waist measurement) & then attach to the skirt like you would elastic to knickers (ie quartering, then stretching the elastic to fit in between whilst zig-zagging to the fabric).  This results in 1. a nicely gathered skirt and 2. a reinforced waist to stop sagging/ drooping.  I found my elastic was at its maximum stretch  when I was doing this, which was fun!

Moneta dress

I also put pockets in, as they come with the pattern, and are part of the design.  But I am not convinced by in seam pockets in knit skirts.  They are never quite as flat lying as I would like.  Next time I will miss them out I think.

Moneta dress

How does the Moneta compare then to the Lady Skater?  Have I wasted my money?  The differences I see, create the following distinctions – Lady Skater versus Moneta ballet dancer.

  • Both graceful scoop necks, although the Lady Skater has a neckband finish, whilst Moneta has a turned edge (not my favorite finish) but there are additional collars which are heavenly;
  • Sleeves – they both have different sleeve options – which are different to each other!  Lady Skater has long from wrist, 3/4 length and short.  Moneta has 3/4 length, short & sleeveless;
  • Skirts- the Lady Skater is a half circle skirt (I think) with no gathering.  Moneta is a gathered dirndl – with pockets.

I enjoy wearing both of them.  This Moneta is nice & warm (but then so is my Lady Skater as I made it out of sweater knit & it has long snugly sleeves).  You can see the fit of my Moneta doesn’t quite hit my waistline- something I could alter next time.  I would also consider a shorter skirt- I lazily turned up the hem allowance without trying it on ;-) But if I shorten the bodice, maybe I won’t need to.

Moneta dress

Lady Skater has more of a casual edge than the Moneta, which is just a tad more classically styled.  But then isn’t that what both Kitschy Koo and Colette Patterns are known for, respectively?  For me, the joy of a decent knit dress is the style, comfort & practicality, therefore I have room for both of these in my wardrobe.  Hurrah!  Now, when can I make my Liberty jersey up & just what neckline option shall I go for?  (I am veering towards the tie neck- surprise surprise).  If you want to see what my Liberty pattern is, it’s the same (but jersey) as Jane’s lining to her boiled wool coat , Kilburn Rose.

floral leggings

Legs with nothing but flowers

If you want to get into my head & understand the joy that these floral leggings give me (despite their shortcomings which I will detail below) ,……

floral leggings

then you may want to listen to this while reading on …..

YouTube Preview Image

OK, are you set? Have you got beyond the intro?  OK, shimmy in your seat & dream of sunshine & colour…..smile away….these leggings you see make me want to party!  Or run.  The fabric is a Spoonflower performance knit that I ordered during a free shipping promotion.  The thought of blooms all over my pins could not be surpressed.  The darkish colour felt suitable for a long pair in the winter.   I used the Megan Neilson Virginia leggings pattern which I have executed satisfactorily a few times before, full length there in bamboo.  They have a separate waistband & are single piece leggings (ie just one inner leg seam).  I wanted a simple design.

floral leggings

So they should have been a simple sew, & they were.  I was stingy & ordered just a metre, which was a scrape to get the full length, but bearing in mind my red bamboo leggings are long enough to gather around my ankles, I felt I could get away with losing a bit off the length.

floral leggings

I added a mini inner pocket & what’s that?  OK, a canny keyring sewn in to keep my doorkey safe whilst out without pockets.

floral leggings

So what’s the deal?  Well, I made a terrific mistake.  The most terrific mistake you can make with stretch fabrics.  I did not take into account the percentage stretch needed.  Nor the direction of stretch.  I did not even test my fabric before cutting out.   This fabric has limited (25% )  two way  (weft) stretch.   Not enough for cutting a normal pair of leggings that requires ?40-50% stretch would you say?  So I could have overcome that by cutting a larger size, but with no vertical stretch either, I should also have cut longer legs & a longer length at the rise too & maybe, just maybe, I would have got away with it ….

floral leggings

What happens now is that all the limited stretch goes outwards, making the length even shorter.   And at certain pressure points when being worn  the floral print is stretched to the point at which the print is at its limit eg (lower leg) You wouldn’t believe these were designed as full length leggings would you, but hipster capris?  They pass! (Just beware who is standing behind you when you do your stretches after your run!)

floral leggings

I have been wearing them to run in though.  How could I not?  But I have to hoik them up so that there is enough spare fabric around my joints – knees & hips – to move.  They are probably not the most flattering fit as a result, but as you can probably tell, I don’t care.

floral leggings

I don’t think that people notice this creasing around knees & upper thigh because they are fundamentally jealous of my floral pins.  But, readers, take my story & be warned & hopefully when you choose such awesome fabric you are more cautious & prepared than I was.

Perfect combo with my Surf to summit top.

surf to summit top

Surf to Summit Top

My fave running top for winter?  It rapidly became the Surf to Summit top, Fehr Trade’s latest pattern.  I was actually a pattern tester before Christmas but what with Christmas and the laptop malfunction it’s taken me all this time to blog & retrieve photos.  And all the meanwhile I have been regularly pulling this top off the drying rack to use as soon as it is ready.  The red is my absolute fave & I shall now tell you why.

surf to summit top

Have you seen the surf to summit pattern yet?  It is another clever design from Melissa as we all come to expect, Melissa adds practical styling & very clever piecing.  This is a princess seamed, raglan sleeved, long or short sleeved top with options for fold-over hand warming mitts (long sleeve only of course hahaha), turtle neck, half zip neck, back shaped hem for cyclists, elasticated back pocket.   So far I have made a turtle neck out of some slinky smooth sports lycra from UKFabrics online (not sure if there is any of this left now) then I made the half zip version out of some apparently thermal wicking fabric I scored off eBay yonks ago.  (It’s rather fluffy, perfect ski base layer potentially, and so sorry I do not have any links to share)

surf to summit top

Now I was a tester & whipped these two tops up pretty quickly – they are a breeze to make with the raglan sleeves particularly.  Note the versions I am wearing are tester versions and since then Melissa has tweaked the pattern slightly to make the turtle neck facing behave better, she’s also altered the half zip facings, but I did not have any noticeable issues when I made it.

surf to summit top

As it was such a long time ago that I made these tops I am trying to remember how it was, apart from being swift.  The half zip top clearly takes longer to make, but there are some clever facings to make the zip insertion nice & straight forward.  This is one of the first times I’ve done this kind of zip, so at each step I was enjoying learning a new process.  I am sure my zip insertion can be improved!

surf to summit top

I had some strange quirk of a fit adjustment that was so easy – I found the armholes needed more of a scoop as they were a bit high under my ‘pits.  Accommodating deeper more scooped armholes was easy with raglan sleeves – no unpicking required.  Melissa advised me to stick the sleeve back inside the body, so that I could get at the seam that joins the sleeve all the way around, & take some extra off in a nice smooth curve from say mid chest around to mid upper back.  I eeked little bits at a time until I was happy with my armhole scoop.  If only all fit adjustments with an overlocker could be so pleasant!!

surf to summit top

What else did I learn making these tops?  Oh yes, the facings are top stitched in the ditch to keep them in place.  Being a raglan top there are four seams that can be used for this purpose.  I was concerned about sewing with a normal straight stitch on an area that could potentially be stretched so much- but no, the straight stitches have not ever given me cause for worry, they do not appear to give any rigidity to an area of stretch, have no fear & be brave!

surf to summit  top

The process for sewing the mitts is almost as genius as the wearing of them!  There are no awkward sewing manoevres required, honest.  And wearing – folded one way they are just part of your sleeve, fold the other way & they form a neat hand pocket.  Oh I love them!  I might feel a bit like I am in a morph suit, but they are a good thing to have on hand in case of emergency cold fingers.  At the moment I am beyond handwarming long arm mitts, I have to say.  At the moment I am wearing a pair of running gloves plus fleecy mittens, but come the spring, I know I shall be leaving mittens behind safe in the knowledge that my extremities will be protected by sleeve mitts- which can be folded back again when I warm up.  No future incidents of glove-falling from pockets & getting waylaid with these sleeves.

surf to summit top

The reason I am constantly wearing these tops is because it is cold, yes.  The fit is so comfy though, I never thought I’d enjoy wearing a turtle neck – I am funny about things around my neck you see, & would not normally choose it.  But in the winter, it’s ideal for giving a bit more coverage & keeping the draughts at bay.  I love the way the red fabric feels against my skin too.  I think it is 4 way stretch and silky so I could have used it for leggings, but as a long sleeved top, it feels luxurious.   Whilst I like the half zip, I prefer the no zip variety, just because it is less fussy to wear around my neck. If I hadn’t been so busy with Christmas gift sewing, I would have made more, and I have a few fabrics “waiting” by my sewing machines for that opportune moment.

surf to summit top


Lightwaves shawl

I knit a shawlette, but the observant amongst you may have seen that before Christmas, when I showed a poor photo here.

It’s the Lightwavesshawl by Susan Ashcroft and it’s made using Rowan Alpaca, from Black Sheep Wools.

It took me nigh on a year to knit it not because there is a load of knitting ( a load of stitches, yes, all on a long circular needle;-) )

But it took me a long time due to my ‘omg I don’t know how to do that’ inertia.


It’s knit over circular needles with a combination of stocking stitch and garter stitch. Nothing particularly scary there, except keeping accurate count. And even the pattern advises of a mid way stitch marker. But the complexity comes through the creation of the waves which are formed using short rows. This clearly was my first short rows experience but hey, I am not phased by them now. The short rows enable you to knit each colour block almost in one continuous row- short rows are deployed for going backwards and forwards to knit the deep parts of each row, to create a wave effect.

The pattern was really good with extra links for knitting short rows. I cannot fault it, more my knitting ‘L’ plates. I probably almost followed the pattern, but it will not be the most polished rendition on Ravely I bet. But then, despite the appearance of a couple of knitted things in the space of a month that might lead you to think the contrary, I do not knit a lot.

So, despite this being unpolished and with plentiful flaws, I am really pleased I tackled something that felt like a steep learning curve for me. I love the colours and the softness of the yarn. Although if I made it again ( and I do have a quantity of yarn left that could be used) I would change the order of the colours to be more rainbow like and blended… Thanks Dad for braving the wind and being my beach location photographer supreme!


Madrid tote for the sewist

Ok so the verdict on my laptop is not good. After a few hours of diagnosis over the kitchen table it had been referred to a specialist, with a corrupted hard disk partition. I am devastated, naturally, but know it will be in good hands. I am crossing my fingers, toes and eyes for a speedy recovery.
But in the meantime I am not able to blog about any of my makes that need a photo of me wearing them, (from my camera) nor the makes I’ve already photographed, but that’s not the end of the world. I have a few ideas about how to get around that and spread some sewing delights.
Like today’s. I made the Madrid tote from Colette Patterns’ online magazine, issue 1 last weekend.

I had some proper oilcloth ( not the cheap PVC that I was taken in by last time ) bought from a local shop – it’s Vintage Happy by Lori Holt of Bee in my Bonnet and it is covered with, yes, vintage snippets from dressmaking catalogues. It’s a fascinating read! Garment descriptions, gorgeous line drawings of day dresses, the shape of a paper pattern as well as the lady drawn in her foundation garment glory. I have lots left too, so am thinking about making a set, maybe make up bag, travel set….
Anyway, onto the tote. Supplies. I bought some ready made handles which are made by Prym and seem to be available from a lot of online stockists. And if they sell bag handles the likelihood is that they will also sell the magnetic clasp too. And that’s all the hardware that I bought in. I bought from Jaycotts, but Minerva also sells all sorts of bagmaking stuff too. My lining was a stash find- Some left over gingham that was so off grain I am too embarrassed to show much of the off non pattern matched seams.

The Madrid is one of the patterns included with Seamwork if you pay the subscription, but all of the articles, as you probably already know, are freely available online, and in issue 1 there are articles to help you get your head around sewing bags- with extensive tips around bag hardware and sewing leather ( or similar ) for example. I found it really helpful as I have never sewn leather nor have I ever used hardware in bag making and it’s quite daunting, isn’t it? So with a reputation for demystifying techniques that could be perceived as complex, I knew I was in safe hands and not risking too much, by following Colette Patterns’ Madrid bag pattern and attempting a few firsts:
– using a magnetic clasp
– successfully sewing oilcloth
– using ready made bag handles

And there, look, magnetic clasp and bag handles

So as you’d expect the pattern consists of different sized rectangles, and you can use contrasting fabric for the top part and bottom. As I had such fab oilcloth I didn’t want to break up the design so went for the even easier approach and used the lining pattern to cut my outer bag pieces too. I also cut two interior pockets, knowing that a big tote is a cave of abandon when keys / phone / a pen/ purse are required to be found.

I cut the strap that comes over the top so that one of the fancy ladies in her day dress would be centred.


Isn’t she lovely ?

The patterns with Seamwork are also all put together with the premise that they are quick makes and relatively easy sews. I made mine using a couple of hours on a Sunday. It is straightforward. I was prepared to deploy countermeasures for sewing my oilcloth, should my foot stick, but surprisingly I had no problem on that front.


I was careful using pins, but did use pins ( minimally) along the stitching line.
The bag handles are sewn on by hand and this was easily the longest most time consuming step. The only word of caution I would offer on using the bag handles like this, is about where you attach them. They have a certain amount of bulk and you need to allow enough room for the top bag seam allowance as well as a little wriggle room to get your sewing machine foot through for top stitching. If you wanted a double line of topstitching just plan ahead with where you put your handles.

I did use my zip foot too, but with the layers of oilcloth and lining plus seam allowances, it did not like it that much.
So the bag ? A delight. I’ve used it for work on a non gym kit day and it fits all the usual crap without busting at the seams.


I got a few positive remarks ( everyone is used to seeing me with a beaten up old Berghaus rucksack!) and it also started a conversation about sewing, which has to be an excellent thing?

Here it is stuffed to the gunnels. So now I know my ay around Madrid, maybe there’ll be another ….. Has anyone else enjoyed Madrid-making or even exploring Valencia? (the extra clutch bag pattern in issue 1)

Goldhawk road

2014 to 2015 : a summary

First of all thank you all so much for your comments & objectivity, support & sympathy about my “Young” Burdas in my last post.  I felt so vindicated when you left honest feedback that supported my own feelings!  It was like a sigh of relief.  No pleats for me next time!  Anyway, I will be responding to comments more specifically later on…but need to get this post out – at last…continuing my Top 5s of 2014, (hosted by Gillian at Crafting a Rainbow)  here is the review & look forward.

I needed time to think about this post, afterall it’s the kind of thing that could be reaaaaallllly long & navel gazing had I written it before I’d come to the end of my own conclusions.  Thankfully for you I drafted something that acted as a kind of purge, that then enabled me to do my own real review to end up with my own personal headlines.  Much more useful & interesting I hope!

So let’s get nerdy.  Fancy seeing some sewing stats?

2014 makes

I made 97 garments / accessories for me in 2014.  That is *rather a lot* even by my own rating, considering a mere handful were made in December as that is when I was concentrating on sewing gifts for Christmas.  In bullet form then, I made (some are yet to be blogged):

  • 10 skirts
  • 19 dresses
  • 10 pairs of trousers
  • 1 pair of shorts (but by golly I love em)
  • 2 bikinis
  • 14 tops/ shirts/ blouses
  • 7 cardigans/ jumpers/ hoodies
  • 5 pairs of knickers
  • 21 things for running in ( from leggings/ shorts/ tops…bras)
  • 3 coats/ jackets
  • 1 pair of PJs
  • 7 accessories (scarves, hats, bags)

On top of this I also made 20 gifts for others including 5 shirts for my men boys, 5 ties & a cardigan & skirt for my Mum.  That has reached new levels of unselfish sewing. (For me)  Now that is an achievement !!

How did this compare to previous years?  Well in 2012 I made 59 things and 2013, 66.  Oh, alright, you want to see that in a fancy chart?

wardrobe growthThis shows number of things I sewed for me each year

Is this reaching danger levels?  Fear not.  As part of my sewing over the last year, believe it or not I am getting a lot better at making every day wearables, although, some might say that the number of dresses has once again reached levels of frivolity, & they might be right!  I do not wear all my dresses a lot, but some are in pretty solid rotation (particularly knit dresses).  And some of my makes from earlier years are worn lots – still.  Others seem to reside in my “ironing pile”.  Hahahaha!!

Another comparison between years…..because I like charts …

2012 2013 2014 comparison

New category this year – running clothes, previous years I would have recorded them amongst leggings & tops, but there are so many that I thought they deserved their own space this year.  It looks like the only things I made more of the previous year was skirts & PJs …

So what surprises me about 2014 productivity levels is that it felt like a non stop year for me in all ways.  Doh! That’s an average of 2.25 makes per week  (albeit different levels of complexity).  So it seems sewing was part of that non-stop merry-go-round.

And alongside this I tried to keep my running ticking over, with 4 half marathons, a 10 mile race and a 10k with 674 miles underfoot.  Now that’s not nearly as much as the previous year, in part due to there being no marathons in the mix.  However, running became overshadowed by too many other lovely things to do.  Seriously though, 2014 started intentionally & ended as my *party year* – in that it was a year of fun & friends with lots of trips away & so many more to London than usual that I feel it’s become my second home ;-).


However, as a result I reached the end of the year burnt out.    And it affected my running – it meant that I put in the bare minimum (& sometimes not even that) resulting in 3 half marathons that were just so hard (far less enjoyable when it is such a struggle) & so much slower than I am usually able to run.  My learning from this – you only get out what you put in.  So true for me.

My biggest running achievements in 2014 therefore were not speed related, but the races I enjoyed the most. I loved running the Great North Run again but with my friend this time. He was totally lapping up the atmosphere and my abiding memory is his delight at the crowds and the things they did to cheer people on (my fave is the Elvis singer stationed about a mile and a half away from the end). It was also a particularly awesome last mile, turning to run along the coast and being played “chariots of fire” music and the recorded commentary from an hour or so earlier letting us know that this year Mo Farrar won the race!


My other top race experience this year has to be the Weymouth 10 miler. I ran with my running ladies, who had trained hard over the September to get their mileage up from the usual 6 miles or so. The race route was brilliant – lots of sea views, and even the hills were not as bad as we were imagining. But what was best was running to support our group achievement, (we are the Run Ragged Runners !)  helping each other along and keeping the motivation going. I usually run races on my own, (just because no one else is foolish enough to do them with me) so this was the best kind of novelty for me.

So I  can apply this learning to my sewing too.  I have had a whirlwind year & 2015 is all about slowing down & putting more effort in. I can see I have become more confident at tackling harder projects, requiring greater levels of precision and skill. Yes, I need quick makes, I love racing things up in an evening on my overlocker, but the things I am most proud of are those that look special and have taken more time You don’t know yet that my last make of 2014 is my most proudest make- ever.  I shall be able to show it off next week.  It’s my Anise jacket & I sewed it after Christmas over a number of days.

Cherie boot

So my focus this year?   I feel strongly about going down the quality route – spend on quality not volume.  Take fabrics that scare me and make a much higher proportion of garments that are “high hitters“, that is things sewn from expensive fabric that involve more careful planning, thinking and sewing perfection. I saw a programme on TV recently – the finalist of British Portrait Artist of the year, Christian Hook  (who was incredible- super talented,  creating the most incredible paintings and for the show I watched, painted a portrait of Alan Cumming). And I noted the two things he said he brought to every portrait – “risk and learn” – this resonated with me. I shall try to incorporate that more into this year.

Running in the summerRunning shot with the ladies last summer

And slow down.  This applies to sewing and running as I have done something crazy.   I have a ballot place for the London marathon!  Funnily enough I hold nostalgic memories about marathon training. Good job too as one of my running friends shocked us by announcing that she was going to run in the first Bristol Bath marathon in October! We were all so shocked! And I just couldn’t let her train alone – so have signed up for it myself!!   I am still in shock after my first & only marathon experience.

And of course more wigs and even more fun.

So that’s 2015 planned out for me!

I hope it’s a great year for everyone x

miette skirt

Miette skirt of fabulousness

So happy new year one & all! No I have not fallen off the face of the earth at all, but was in danger of doing so -I was in desperate need of a break from all things over Christmas which means I have absolutely loads to catch up on now that I have had loads of good family fun, friend fixes & sleeeeep! I feel rested & fresh for the joys of 2015.

I do plan to write my mini review of achievements and goals for 2015, but do not have all the facts to hand & as I am dying to get blogging again, and have been very tardy blogging a lot of my 2014 makes, I will dally no longer and show you something groovy.

miette skirt

I’d been inspired by this version of Tilly’s Miette skirt, and so when venturing out into Goldhawk Road recently with the ever  wonderful Jane, had some checked/ tartan fabric on my shopping list.

miette skirt

By the time I had satisfied many of the other things on my shopping list (I had put lots of planning into this pilgrimage to Goldhawk Road, as you do) I was extremely pleased to discover a fetching collection of plaids in one of the last shops we visited.  Don’t ask me which shop I purchased this from, but I also purchased some navy viscose with amazing drape to make a 1940s tea dress  ( a snip at £2 per metre).  Anyway, this fabric is some kind of nice polyester mix suiting and I was instantly drawn to the colours: magenta and bottle green. The decision was easy, and I think this fabric was about £7 per metre. I bought two metres, planning to make a Miette skirt with a wrap but not ties. The ties can take up quite a lot of fabric, and in the winter, I felt that this skirt will be layered upon & so ties and bows would become squashed/ lumpy/ compromised (despite my original inspiration rocking ties big time).

miette skirt

It was important think about pattern and matching when I was cutting it out, so I cut each piece individually, laying out cut pieces against its pair to work out how the pattern would align. the Miette skirt has some cool chevron opportunities with diagonal centre front seaming. This check is a rectangular check, like many , and as a result you are never going to get each row forming perfect chevrons, but I did manage to conjure it up so that the green ones match.

Miette skirt

I wanted to experiment with the direction of the pattern on the pockets so also played around on position of grainlines as they would look on the cut out skirt pieces before deciding on how to cut them out. The pockets I also cut out individually to make sure they matched as a pair. The top of the pockets therefore are almost cut on the bias, and I considered adding a line of interfacing to stabilise the seamline here, but didn’t actually in the end, and it is OK as it the fabric is reasonably robust and not that drapey.

miette skirt

Out of sheer laziness I made the waistband half the width it comes up in the pattern. This was because I wanted to use that wonderful waistband vilene and it just happened to be this width.  All the foldlines and seamlines are incorporated into the vilene & it was just easier to go with that as it gives such a nice finish.  Due to the mechanics of making the wrap & tie waistband, the pattern is drafted with a six piece waistband – three pieces for the waistband front with three pieces for the waistband facing.  This is what the skirt looks like if you make the waistband by using only three pieces folded in half & omitting the facings.  (Apols if I have just lost you there in some waistband piecing vortex!  But you never know, someone might appreciate it!!)

miette skirtMaking the Miette skirt up is a quick sew. Very satisfying. It was a Boxing Day make.

miette skirt

I think making it without the ties saves a lot of time too, as I can remember they are very long pieces to turn the right way around.  I discovered these gorgeous vintage buttons in my button stash & made two buttonholes – both on the outside as i want to show them both off as a feature.

miette skirt

I’ve been wearing it a lot since. It’s a perfect winter skirt with tights and boots.  The first time I made it, I described it as “cute meeting utility” & have to say that I am almost taking the pockets for granted this time.  What this skirt does for me this time is to make me feel girly yet warm, which is often a challenge in the winter when you feel the cold like I do – trousers are often my first resort as I think they will be warmer.  It is so lovely to have a cosy swishy skirt to wear.

miette skirt

All I need to take me into deeper winter are some thermal tights ….M&S will be getting a visit :-)

Glad to be back blogging again – I will probably be appearing a bit more frequently as I catch up on some of the things I have been doing over December (& possibly even November! yikes)

Happy New Year everyone – hope it’s filled with sewing, fun & friendship x

….and breathe…..

Hello lovelies!  I need to wish you Happy Christmas before it’s too late!

I hope you all have a most wonderful time doing what makes you happy.  I am hosting this year and we are going to use our outdoor pizza oven to cook some of the roast!  Even if it’s standing under a golf umbrella with wellies on…or wrapped up with scarves & gloves.  Of course we won’t eat outside, that would be foolish.

I have to confess that I took too much on this year & upon reflection all those hand made ideas that in themselves seemed relatively simple & straightforward, all add up.  It turns out that I have made something for everyone I give to this year.  And for some (ie my men boys) they got more than just the one handmade.  I have felt like I have been on a mission & gift-sewing bossed everything else (apart from work & the odd run).   I have some makes still to blog about but couldn’t get the time in before now, so will have a couple to show you after Christmas.  I should either have started earlier, or considered taking some time off before hand.  But, without giving anything away, the final two gifts were completed today …& now the house is all prepared for hosting & an evening of cooking/baking awaits me.  I have some Christmas Crooners to keep me company.  Marvellous!

In terms of sewing, I am mega excited to be sewing for me again.  Want to see what I’m going to be concentrating on this holiday?

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This is my December and January project for the Minerva Blogging Network.   I am making a *big project*.  Yes, at last I am making a jacket.  The fabric I chose is this blankety grey flannel, it’s quite thick & felty, a true charcoal grey, with a faint mottled tweedy appearance.   This jacket is going to be an everyday jacket, one for going to work, or wearing with jeans at the weekend or on an evening.   But because I want there to be some secret fun & jollity to something otherwise sensible on the outside, I’ve chosen a polka dot lining, a satin. This is rather a statement – these polka dots are a couple of inches in diameter!

Also in my bundle of materials is calico for the underlining, some interfacing and also shoulder pads.

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Looking for buttons I thought these would look good with the grey- my chosen jacket is double breasted & so the buttons are definitely a feature. Have you worked out what I am making yet? I have plumped for the Anise Jacket by Colette Patterns.

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I have had this for a year or so now & it’s about time it got made! I shall be making the full length sleeved version, and am looking forward to rocking the welt pockets and I feel I should really make bound button holes as well. I feel as if I have a mountain ahead of me.  It’ll be worth it though, and do you know, I am really looking forward to it.   It fits with my sewing ethos for 2015….but you’ll have to wait to hear about that another time.

Have a most wonderful Christmas everyone, thanks for all of your support this year, it’s been a blast!

Top 5 of 2014: hits and misses

I kind of missed the boat on this last year, a review of sorts, hosted by Gillian from Crafting a Rainbow. 

I did find everyone’s top 5s interesting reading last year, (lots of inspiration, temptation and honesty) and there are a few starting to pop up this December, so I thought it would be an interesting exercise for me to do too, before I get too overwhelmed with Christmas *stuff*.  If it’s not your thang, it’s not your thang.  I will condense mine into just two posts- today it will be Top 5 of 2014 – Hits & Misses.  The next one, probably some time after Christmas will be my highlights, reflections and goals.  As I start to write I do not know what my final lists will be – consider this a live experience….

Top 5 Hits of 2014

So I’m supposed to pick my top 5 makes this year.   And looking through my handmade wardrobe page was not the best idea as I have more than 5 firm favorites!

So I will vote based on wear as opposed to adoration, but mention a couple of the adored as well :-)  (I’d say that is a positive, wouldn’t you?  Maybe I am getting better at sewing for a working every day wardrobe?)

Most worn summer dress has to be my first Hepworth dress, from Sinbad & Sailor, with its sister following close behind.  It has been so useful for work – smart, pretty, great fit & very comfy to wear (plus pockets !)  I would also wear this out of work too, its style is just *me*.

Most worn autumn dress is my Hot Patterns Iconic Shirt dress- the fabric is so easy to wear & care for, & it tends to be the dress I pack in my rucksack for changing into at the office after my early morning exercise session.  You really can pack it up the night before – roll it up, stuff it alongside towel, other essentials & pull it out 12 hours later to look as if it’s come straight off the hanger.  Oh yes – I haven’t had to iron it after washing either, & condsidering things can languish in my ironing pile for seasons, it’s a quality I value!.  It also looks & feels a million dollars & I love the size of the collar (even though it might be on the large side of retro!)  (There’s still 10% off Hot Patterns at Sewbox up until Christmas if you follow the link above to my original review).

Most worn exercise item – duathlon shorts by Fehr Trade – in various shapes & sizes.  I was hooked on wearing the shorter (but not hot pants) version as much as I could.  Just love getting my legs out.  Such a floosie.  And since I love getting my pins in fresh air, I also love the Threshold shorts as well, but haven’t posted about my latest pair yet …

Most worn casual lounging wear – my Hudson pants!  The floral Hudsons are also in my adoration list, but got worn incessantly after work, therefore featuring firmly in my Top 5.  The grey ones are now in constant rotation now that it’s colder, but can never be as cute as the florals ;-)


Most worn combo (this is a cheat so that it looks like 5 top makes, but actually I am squeezing in two for the price of one!)  My Breton Coco top with my denim Ultimate trousers.

I could go on & on about Breton tops being part of my style history since I was 17, so making my own means that I can perpetuate that look and keep to my no-buy-RTW pledge.  The Ultimates are just the most wonderful royal blue & with that retro cigarette shape fit my aesthetic with the advantage that the element of stretch makes them super comfy.

Also on the adoration list, my tomato shorts and my vintage sari wrap dress – both part of my vintage pattern pledge this year, and my Laurel LBD –   I love wearing it, it makes me feel *just right*, a classic simple dress that fits my style.  Be prepared to see more Laurels in my 2015 life.


 Top 5 misses

Now it’s the misses that are most interesting, am I right?  What came to pass after the photos were taken?  How much of a feature in an everyday wardrobe were some of the things I made?  Do I really wear clothes like that in real life??!!!  You’re not going to get answers to all of those questions I am afraid!

This is hard.  I look at what I have made & I am pleased with most .  Therefore to get any value from this exercise I need to dredge my memory for those things that get worn less – or not at all.  This will also include things I am not 100% happy with and have identified remedial work.

Easiest to start with recent history – my red Bronte top – unwearable really due to being too small – wrong choice of fabric.  I do not want to feel like a mummy.

Next up, my Robe Sureau – beautiful pattern, gorgeous fabric, but it is too low in the neckline, gaping out also makes it far too exposed.  I need to shorten it by taking it up at the shoulders.  Future makes need a wedge taken out of the CF somehow.


This VNA top was a tester top & the fabric is just too thick & sweat making to make it a viable running top.  OK so it’s lumo & covered with millions of tiny shiny bits, but it’s just too plain clammy.   Luckily I have other VNAs that are made with better fabric.

Now don’t be too shocked – My elephant Jamie Jeans do not get chosen purely because I made them a bit too small.  Boo hoo.  I feel I am always “pulling” at them (in the wrong places!), they are more than a tad uncomfy.  Hopefully I will lose a few inches around those parts when marathon training gains momentum as I love the details on them …gold ric rac, elephants on my bum …

And this last one might surprise you.  I have only worn my Edith “Oona” blouse once this year.  I think I made it quite late in the summer, and had rather a selection of similar tops that got preference.  I hope it will come into its own again next year.

So there you are.  My top 5 hits & misses.  I am going to enjoy everyone else’s recaps.  It’s an interesting thing to do- it might just surprise you too!