Another giveaway – tickets for the Spring Knitting & Stitching Show, Olympia

Hi folks.  Here’s something else to banish the winter blues – fancy a chance to win a pair of tickets for the Spring Knitting & Stitching Show in Olympia, London, 5th- 8th March?

Well, I have five pairs up for grabs!   (Not valid for the Saturday of the show)

The Show celebrates a whole host of crafts, from knitting, sewing and dressmaking to quilting, crochet, cross stitch and home furnishing. Visitors can shop from over 200 exhibitors, attend a fun-packed workshop and browse outstanding displays of fashion and textiles.

I would love to see  The Knitted Farm Competition in conjunction with the book ‘Knit Your Own Farm’ by Sally Muir and Joanne Osborne. They’ve provided four knitting patterns from the book. Download patterns for a cow, pig, sheep and lamb where you’ll also find the entry form and rules.  Additional farm animals and objects are welcome too and prizes for the most innovative and best executed items will be awarded at the show!  If you are a speedy knitter there’s still chance to enter- follow the link above to submit your entry form by 9th February and you have to get your knits in by 20th February.

Sadly I can’t make it this time around.  I have yet to visit one of these shows, but they sound so full of crafty lovely stuff & stitchery that I bet you need to prepare with an early night, & a bag of snacks to keep the energy levels high.  So I am happy to be helping some of you to have a good time on my behalf :-)

If you want to win a pair of tickets, leave me a comment by midnight 15th February and I will pick 5 random winners & post on the tickets to them the very next day.  (I guess this really is only for UK residents – sounds obvious !)

***Thank you to everyone who entered, this giveaway is now closed***

Ultimate trousers

Not another pair of Ultimate Trousers…and a giveaway

Hohoho!  Guess what?  I have made another pair of Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers. Yes.  Not content with a pair in denim, ditsy drill, linen, suiting & houndstooth enter my navy sateen Ultimate Trousers!

Ultimate trousers

I bought this beautiful sateen from the Fabric Godmother – read on for a special offer & a giveaway!

Ultimate trousers

It won’t take long to read this post, because there are no surprises – the pattern worked its usual magic, but let me tell you that the fabric seems to have elevated, what I consider to be a top trouser pattern through sheer virtue of its quality.  It sewed so easily, it’s a semi crisp but at the same time is soft with some give from the lycra.  It holds its seams once pressed (& OK, might hold onto creases through wear a bit too, but that is easily forgiven.)

Ultimate trousers

I wouldn’t say it is warm enough to make up as proper winter weight trousers, & I am not the kind of gal that wears tights under trousers (I think I might be missing out here).  However, on days that feel the warmth of the sun rather than our current freezing temps, these trousers are warm enough for me, with socks of course.  They will truly come into their own in Spring and Autumn.

Ultimate trousers

But, hey.  It’s another navy revelation as well.  Don’t you just love navy?  Isn’t it so smart, yet softer & less severe than black?  And this is a proper deep luscious navy too.   (There is a downside- white cat hair/ fluff).  Is that contrasting overlocker thread an affront or a delight?

Ultimate trousers

Onto the special offer & giveaway.  Josie, the Fabric Godmother will post the winner 2m of sateen in the colour of your choice (go & check out the red & beige as well as the navy and please someone buy the silver & make disco pants!  ).  What’s more, this is open to anyone, anywhere in the world.

Ultimate trousers

Just leave me a comment telling me what colour you’ll pick & what you’ll use the fabric for.  I’ll pick a random winner in a week’s time, out of all comments left by midnight 13 February GMT.

*** This Giveaway is now closed, but  ….Josie is offering 10% off any fabrics (apart from sale) at the Fabric Godmother by using the code


at the checkout.  This fabulous offer is valid until the 10th April!  Woo hoo!!

(Wearing my Ultimates with my Merino Coco. )


Anise jacket

Anise jacket

Apologies in advance for repeating this post- but through all my laptop debacle & having to use the WordPress app on the iPad I have inadvertently deleted some of my recent posts.  I am trying to put it right, but I’m sorry I lost all of the lovely comments you all left me.  I need to keep a record of this jacket on my blog though, so here it is again.  Hopefully word for word.  If you missed it the first time around, hopefully you’ll enjoy it.

So here it is, the most proud moment of my sewing history I think I can say. I am reporting back on my Anise jacket and I am stoked. It’s lined, it has welt pockets and bound buttonholes. It has the cutest Peter Pan collar that sits with such a lovely roll over the neckline. It fits me like a glove, with enough room for a cardigan or sweater. I feel a little je ne sais quoi in it, when I wear my beret and leather gloves. It’s cute, cosy, but most of all, I feel I have done a really good job. You might be like me with the things you make – the first one to point out the flaws when someone offers you a compliment? Well, that is my default position too. However for this jacket there is only one slight 80 degree corner at the inner lining I would hastily show you if you said, “nice jacket”. And for me that is a record. I see just one flaw, & if you see any others, please keep them to yourself & maintain my illusion!!

Anise jacket 1


I have made a couple of more complex semi-tailored items before, with my Vintage Vogue jacket, my Spearmint coat and more recently my Andy coat, so anticipated a lot of groundwork & preparation and quite a lot of nerve-wracking techniques in making this jacket. You have to be patient with a make like this. I would suggest it will not be completed in a day unless you are pretty pro or don’t sleep.

Anise jacket 2


I chose this grey flannel fabric for the outer and polka dot satin for the lining. I also used calico (muslin) for underlining. It took me about four sittings to make this (quite long stints- between 4 and six hours). It was my post Christmas – pre New year make. Something to lavish attention on having sewn like a whirling dervish as I made Christmas presents for friends and family in every spare moment.

The Anise jacket pattern by Colette patterns, has a supplementary instruction booklet you can buy if you need more help, but I have to say that the instructions were extremely clear in the pattern alone. Maybe though I have a few coat makes under my belt and so have those experiences to build on.

It’s funny that there is a whole lot of work that you have to do for a jacket like this before you start constructing the jacket itself, eg attaching the underlining, thread tracing the pattern markings.

If you opt for bound buttonholes you need to make them as one of the first steps, which feels odd since buttonholes and buttons are usually one of the finishing touches for a shirt or skirt. You can make this jacket with regular buttonholes, but I was always going to make bound buttonholes, and can never make bound buttonholes any other way than without followingKaren’s e-book. It is my bound buttonhole bible! And I think they look pretty smart this time.

Anise jacket 3


So having completed the buttons, you then get on to engineering the collar. It’s cut with two pieces- an upper collar and the undercollar. The undercollar is cut on the bias. There is also an extra piece of interfacing, with its own special pattern piece that looks like a stretched sliver of a crescent moon. This is for reinforcing the collar roll, and I am convinced it’s what adds to the collar behaving itself beautifully, with enough loft before, yes, rolling as it folds. When I mentioned this to my Mum, conversation went along these lines,

Anise jacket 4


ME:”There’s even an extra piece of interfacing like a crescent along the collar at the neckline”

MUM (matter of fact) :”Yes, I know”

ME: (In my head) “How come you know all this stuff – there is nothing you don’t seem to already know! I wish I could know as much about sewing as you do!” You see I can remember my Mum going to evening classes in the 70s, when classes like “tailoring” were run up & down the country at local technical colleges, even in Somerset! Sigh. OK back to the story, the Anise story.

Anise jacket5


I can’t remember if I made the welt pockets before or after the collar. But what a joy they were to make too, but you feel more practised having four bound buttonholes under your belt – welt pockets follow similar principles, with that nerve inducing & very final slashing through the centre of the rectangle you’ve just sewn in the actual front of your jacket, for the pocket linings & welts to get manipulated within.

Anise jacket 6

I’m afraid I have no drama to recount about putting the jacket pieces together to make a 3D garment.  The sleeves are cut in two pieces & set in with some gathering stitches at the sleeve head.  This fabric by the way sucks up gathers like a sponge, absorbing the tucks into its wonderful dense self.  And it is like a blanket.  I love it!  The jacket lining has special pieces for the front & back, but uses the same sleeve pieces (but with a shorter hem).  The centre back is designed for a massive expansion pleat.

Anise jacket 7

Attaching the lining to the jacket- this time I made the decision not to bag the lining.  That was quite a biggie for me as it is how I have done it before, & you know me, I try to machine as much as I can.  This time, however, I followed the instructions in the pattern – attaching the sleeves to the lining at their hems, then handsewing the lining sleevehead into the lining body.   The main hem is handsewn – first the jacket’s hem itself, then the lining’s hem is handstitched but hidden under the lining’s hem fold.

Anise jacket

My most fiddly bit is the front facing corners where the lining at hem & facing meet to form a right angle.  One side is better than the other, hence one side being 80 degrees & a bit squirched.

So, I promised to share the trials & tribulations with making this jacket, & I have to say they fall mainly into the whoop whoop department.  And working with this flannel was a joy – it was easy to press underneath a silk organza cloth, with steam.  I had no problems with it at all.  And it is very forgiving, handstitching just disappears within its dense fibres.

Sewing this jacket has helped me decide that I need more makes like this in my projects, so that some at least of my future handmade wardrobe is invested with risk & learning (as set out here).  I don’t need to always make fast clothes!

ANise jacket 9

A big thank you to my Dad who took the on location photos.  Aren’t they so much better than my usual! And I’m wearing my new Miette skirt..

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… 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