Tag Archives: sewing plans

January 2016 sewing plans

Why hello there everyone!  I’m eager to get back blogging again and even more keen to get sewing.  This is the first day of my ‘new’ work-life balance,  and am feeling very refreshed & insanely happy after a fab ski holiday with my family.  Yesterday I was working as a casual in a warehouse but now have a couple of days (kind of like a mid-week weekend- sorry– I am not trying to make anyone jealous here) before I go back to earn more beans.  Still very early days in my thinking & planning about how I meet my bills but the short term at least is sorted.  And now I have time to think & plan. And sew and blog. Yay!!!!!

A wonderful Christmas gift - Liberty Pincusion

A wonderful Christmas gift – Liberty Pincushion

So I want to dive in which means ignoring the catch up on 2015’s sewing outputs & reviews- that will have to wait.  Today I am going to share my thinking with you and ask for any suggestions you may have.  This is for January.  (And remember I still have some Christmas presents to make – a pair of boxers and two shirts).

Of most excitement then for me is having time & space to sew – in my new cottage.   And I could go completely wild & sew completely spontaneous projects.  But I have been sobered by the unpacking & re-packing of my stash of fabrics.  I have also been made sensible by having to home the clothes I make- I no longer have spare wardrobes.  Oh no.  And I have underbed storage (these from Ikea are pretty good value & do a wonderful job) to keep out of season clothing.  If I can’t store it, I can’t keep it (or I have to get rid of something else to make way).  This is finally enabling me to make considered decisions about what I *need* & therefore what I shall be sewing. Hurrah.  At last I have grown up a bit!

[Cough] these shelves are supposed to contain my fabric stash - but they don't yet- there is another cardboard box....

[Cough] these shelves are supposed to contain my fabric stash – but they don’t yet- there is another cardboard box….and I haven’t finished with the sorting and organising yet by any means….

And what else I need to take into account is lifestyle – no more office clothes, a much more casual wardrobe.  OK, so after reading about my new ways of thinking, let’s see what I am thinking about making this month/ next month maybe.

Tops & jumpers- getting practical. 

I need another Linden sweatshirt (or two) in my life.  I have some green sweatshirting & various coloured ribbing- perfect for warehouse work & snuggling in the evenings.  I wear my first Linden sweatshirt a lot and it is decidedly a test garment made with fabric that has fade lines in it.  Making the green sweatshirting up will probably provoke more experimentation….



I have really enjoyed wearing my cowl neck fleece Renfrew – it has jumper status & is great for this time of the year & can get away with being a ‘fleece’ because it has more style.  I will investigate options to make another using some thicker knit (or even fleece) from my stash.

I also need more Coco tops.  My Breton striped Coco is in hardly even in my drawer- either in use or in the wash.

Tops of a more pretty kind:

I will show you later a top that I am going to make from a French magazine I bought on holiday.  But in addition to that I am fancying a chiffon Orla top and have a few options in my stash.  I also feel another Sew Over It Pussy Bow blouse coming on…in polka dot chiffon for sure.  Why the enthusiasm for chiffon? Well it’s easy to look after (first thing!) – I don’t find I need to iron it- plus I have some really cute options in my stash already.

I have also got a couple of pieces of fabric that I plan to make into the Mila shirt. (if I have enough …)

Another gorgeous Christmas pressie - Liberty swoons on

Another gorgeous Christmas pressie – Liberty swoons on

The great trouser ‘mind palace’ (hahaha – just watched the latest ‘Sherlock’ and was reminded of that phrase).  I have been living in my Ginger jeans and need another pair of trousers- my green Chinos are great, but I think could be elevated if they were made out of some fabric with some stretch so I am pondering that line of attack.  However I am determined to get my trouser block at peak performance so that I can whip up a pair of trews that fit me perfectly in next to no time.  Fabric choices are still up for grabs- I do need to investigate my stash however.  And then I have whittling away at the back of my mind how much I love my Hudson trousers & that a seasonal pair could be good for warehouse work too.


I have a huge urge to make the Sew Over It Joan dress in a double knit.  Maybe something from Girl Charlee?   I have been dying to make a Joan ever since it came out.  Could the time be right now?  Also a Rachel wrap dress from Maria Denmark– another knit dress.  And I have already pointed out that New Look 6298 is in my possession and on my radar …

A Vintage Shirt dress perhaps?

A Vintage Shirt dress perhaps?

And I bought this fabric in the John Lewis sale with a Sew Over It Vintage shirt dress in mind – will I make it a long sleeved version?

Spectacular excuse for something special

And if you were being lulled into any sense that this badger was turning overly practical, have no fear.  Top of my creative thoughts is what to wear at a fancy London Awards night that I have been invited to.  Last few times I wore this outfit, but I feel as if something new is needed (especially as the skirt may be a bit tight at the moment following holidays & less running than usual).

I am considering a cocktail dress – either the Martini from Capital Chic Patterns or else something from a vintage pattern I will unearth as I unpack my sewing room & organise it.  I don’t think I can bring myself to be flamboyant enough to invest in 7m of taffeta for the full skirt in Simplicity 1099 but the long straight skirt & top or knee length full skirt & top could also be an option.   Fabric though?  ?  I need to look at my stash but suspect that I will not have anything this special as I don’t tend to hoard posh fabrics….I am dabbling with these from Fabric Godmother but don’t know if they would be OK for the Martini dress.  This peachskin and this crepe backed satin.


Now this is where I need your help.  Another John Lewis Sale purchase, this boiled wool.

boiled wool

I  would really like to make something out of it to wear now- a casual jacket/ thick cardi of some sort – nothing formal – a good to throw on with jeans would be really useful.  I like the idea of something like this.   But am not sure if a mid weight boiled wool would work.  If it is a jacket it is clearly unlined because you don’t need to bother with linings or even seam finishing with boiled wool- & I wouldn’t want to miss out on that opportunity.   Would New look 6351 be good for it?   I was wondering about a zipped biker jacket, but it is a mid weight not that sturdy? (Any recommended patterns?) I haven’t bought enough to make the Clare coat, maybe I  should have thought that through as I do like the idea of pull on shoulder fastenings & snuggly collar big time. Do you have any other ideas for using boiled wool?

At some point I am also going to start my test jacket before cutting out my Tweedy – going to rock that country look don’t you know?!  So that is also in my plans.

Did I call this a plan for January?  I don’t think so somehow!  Let’s just say that this is the dump of my winter sewing thoughts.  There will also be some running wear – for me & a friend (I owe her a pair of leggings!).  As well as a dress for a friend in time for Spring.  And surely other things will crop up.  But there you have it.  Thank you for the opportunity to write this post as it has helped me work out just what my sewing priorities could be over the next few months with some kind of structure.  Any thoughts welcome!

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

Mistress Whiteboard

Last weekend I hit a significant milestone: I had completed my three month sewing plan. So what’s the big deal, I hear you ask? Well, this was my programme:

And folks we know there’s only a finite number of hours in the day, particularly if you’re sewing on the side to your full time job &/or looking after a family (I’d have even less time if I had a family to look after!)

So what did I do (after the initial panic, but determination to make absolutely everything I had in mind?) Why I went all project planner! This would tell me if it was possible to accomplish all of this with the time I had available to sew. We are talking serious planning, like a pro.

whiteboardThat jibberish  makes sense to me! 

My tools: a calendar/ diary & a whiteboard. Each make had its own deadline – ie when it was needed for – & therefore that became my prioritised list. I then had to look at what my social life was doing for each weekend & allocate weekends for each make. I recorded this in my calendar & also on the whiteboard. It was really clear to me what I should be working on & when. I built in some contingency (which was needed) & am glad to say finished my last piece a day early.

I also managed to squeeze in quite a few other makes that were “off plan” & certainly not in the prioritised list. I need some form of spontaneity, I don’t think I could have only sewn rigidly what was on my list. And having the list enabled me to see whether I could sew something else. And when I was asked to help test the odd pattern I did not turn anyone down (cos, that would have been very frustrating to me – I love helping out as a pattern tester!!) So I also sewed:

Still, you may be thinking, why the big deal? I bet there are people who this is a normal approach for sewing. Well it’s not for me & partly I was experimenting on myself. I tend to be rather a spontaneous sewer – sewing where the mood & current inspiration takes me.

Dragon fly and pincushionDragonfly visiting my pins!

If I am to change my career direction, (at some point) how do I cope when I feel I “have” to do something creative? When sewing is usually something I do after my chores, how do I feel about sewing first & then doing my chores? It was a way to make me think differently about something that is foremost a hobby & a pleasure.

It was really interesting. I achieved everything on the list to every event deadline. I sewed a helluva lot, considering there were off-plan makes too as well as more involved formal wear with toiles.   I even managed some weekend spells on the sunlounger to soak up an early suntan (gotta be done).

But it was different. I felt bound. But was motivated enough to know why – eg sewing a velvet skirt that was being a pain was for a particular posh do; sewing my cheong sam so well in advance was for a particular date & necessary to make sure I could sew everything else to deadline. It did not eliminate the joy of sewing, but it did reduce it sometimes. I think Mistress Whiteboard kept my head down & focussed. Does that mean I am not focussed usually? Well, I sew in the moment & am focussed very much on the current make, perhaps processing options for what my next make will be. And then as I write this the thought that occurs to me “Is that a metaphor for how I live my life maybe? “   DEEP.  Let’s leave that thought there & go back to the logistics.

If anything a couple of things dropped off from my normal homelife: a few runs & also better meal planning. Food suffered I am afraid- not that I had loads of takeaways, I just didn’t put so much effort into cooking – I probably had more meals consisting of a load of roasted veg.   Both these things being casualties are something I will have to be mindful of since exercise & eating well are all part of the balance.

And tell you what. The size of the relief I felt on Saturday evening on completing my final make from Mistress Whiteboard was HUGE. I had my own celebration! I made a cake.

What do you think? When I shared my whiteboard photo on Twitter a few people commented that they should do something like that – but should you?  Do you?

It will help your sewing productivity, but at what expense? I’m interested to know. Needless to say I am currently without a plan but my focus is holiday sewing. Just how much can I make for my imminent holiday ….but I’ve taken the splatter gun approach, cutting 5 things out yesterday evening ….!

Everybody loves a do, especially if you sew

Anyone who follows me on Pinterest could be confused by my rather eclectic pinning of late, but it may have given you insight into a couple of occasions I’ve got coming up.  And with occasions comes the eternal (but exciting!) question, “what shall I make to wear?”


 One of the exciting dates in my diary is a posh works do.  Well, I am calling it my red carpet do, but it’s not really.  There’s never any work dos in my general existence, but for once this one is a goer.  Funnily enough we haven’t even decided who will be invited yet, but my thoughts immediately turned to a new sewing project with exceptional novelty potential & I will make something even if I don’t get invited!

I could always wear my 80s “ballgown”, but why would I want to do that when I could be making something else totally unlike my usual sewn fare?  If I am honest I am not a floor length gown kinda gal.  I mean, what if I turned up (once I’ve been invited of course) in a floor length gold lame vision, only to find everyone else in cocktail dresses & knees showing?  If I was it would be this one though.



The kind of outfit I would feel most comfortable wearing is not even a cocktail dress, but something that can be understated enough to fit in with men in sharp suits as well as holding its own with ladies in cocktail dresses or even a summer floaty maxi dress (because there might be some of those around too).   I mean, I’ve no real idea what other women will be wearing.  Some might totally ham it up, others might think, “it’s just a works do” & pull out a Top Shop frock from 2011 (not that there’s anything wrong with either option! – I’m just unsure of the habitat I could find myself in – should I get invited of course).

I’d started looking at vintage style evening dress patterns, some sheath style, others more of a full on early Betty Draper.  I’ve saved some to this board here on Pinterest (It’s a general dumping ground for inspirational clothing that I can’t see myself making for a while, but dig deep enough & you’ll find them).  Some of the 60s sheath dresses had tie back details, which makes me swoon.  But after using my drive to Cornwall last month to think options (yes – I can report that for the full 3.5 hours I went on a mental journey through outfit variations & sewing preferences as well as as travelling 170 miles south.  It was much like the state that you get in when doing a very long run- your mind literally travels …)  So by the end of the journey I had it all figured out.

I am going separates.  Are you surprised?  Now the keystone will be shoes.  I have one pair of smart shoes in black suede (a special pair from Hobbs that are not only the most expensive pair of shoes I’ve ever bought, but are gratifyingly the most comfortable kitten heel sling backs I have ever worn).  My next step was revisiting this scarf  top on the Burdastyle website that got me.  I had spied it well before this “do” came up, but with no reason to add it to my sewing priorities, it would have stayed in my dreams.

It’s subtle, yes.  Stylish & slinky.  The “scarf” neckline gives a drapey –almost-cowl at the front & an alluring dangle of sash from the back neck.  Gor-jee-ous.

To complete the outfit I thought it needed a slim skirt & my thinking developed along the lines of velvet & thigh split.  Hmm.  Clearly skirt length has to be considered with care to avoid the 70s lady of the night look.  Something a bit like this silhouette but without the knotting (this skirt is actually jersey) & with a more modest split.  (Source)

I shall draft it myself.  I have it worked out in my head & don’t think it’ll be rocket science.

Armed with a plan, come Goldhawk Road* last week, I knew what I was looking for- some silk for the top & some luscious velvet.

And this is what I bought –

Rainforest fabric

This is not silk but I immediately felt deep love for this fabric!  It was everything I could have dreamed of & in colours that are vivid yet lush.  A veritable tropical paradise with rainforest overtones to drape for.   I don’t think the photo does it justice.

rainforest and velvet

And to complement it I found the most awesome silk velvet that I could drown in.  It’s a cross between teal & bottle green.  There is no way you can even begin to see its beauty & intensity through this photo – it wasn’t happening.  But I had to show you something.  Even if your imagination is closer to the mark than what I have put before you!Take my word for it.  It is the dogs (& I don’t use that phrase often do I?)

I am overjoyed with my fabric – all in all this has cost £20 so far.  I have some lining I can use for the skirt, so for  my “red carpet” my bank account is feeling chilled.

I’m planning to make it next month.   Seriously how crazed must I have got to ?  I spent the weekend project planning the things I feel I have more of a commitment to make & have now allocated weekends & sewing projects.  Will I respond well to that kind of discipline?  Or will it take the pleasure away?  We shall have to see.

Want to know about another of my four “dos” this summer?  One of my best friends is throwing a party for a “special”  birthday on 4th July – so her theme is – America.  Nice & broad so that guests can justify any kind of outfit- even if it is red, white & blue!

Pinterest will have given you a clue as to my chosen outfit.  Oh this will be funny & so not becoming of a woman in her mid 40s.  But I shall laugh.  “For the 4th of July, Matthew, I am going to be a cheerleader”. Here’s my pinboard Cheerleader Chic….

As well as an outfit – I am tending towards a version of the Lady Skater Dress – at this stage- although I do like the idea of a skirt & tank top too (don’t worry – I promise you no midriff!)    I clearly have to make pom poms, find an awesome wig & make up a routine!  Any places you know I could look for help, please let me know!  I’m new to this. But would like to provide a more authentic kind of routine than this …

YouTube Preview Image

My research will of course include watching “Bring it On”, “Bring it on again” & “Bring it on some more”- & I know my son will have no complaints about that when he comes home!


* Please don’t ask me which shops they came from!  The rainforest fabric came from “the shop that also sells Liberty”.  And the velvet was from a shop along the same side of the road, with a downstairs full of velvet, fleece and other concoctions.

Lovely things and lovely plans

It’s true that I’ve been a bit below the radar recently. This post has been in my head for weeks. So I’m combining some loveliness: some gorgeous things I’ve been lucky enough to have won in giveaways ( yes, me! I seem to have had a lucky streak), and finally an attempt to de-clog my imagination with all the lovely things I’d love to sew this season.
So first on to what I’m considering gifts:
Check out this brooch from Ladybird Likes. I was amazed to win this courtesy of Amy at Almond Rock. A big thank you Amy and to Ladybird likes as I chose the beautiful lady but she popped in the flutterby brooch too.

Then Evie at Pendlestitches was in cahoots with Simplicity and I got to choose a pattern as my prize. Now I’d been ogling this Cynthia Rowley set of separates (1783) for a while and therefore my choice was easy. I am bursting to make these up, there’s something about the trousers and the blouse I’m entranced by.  The blouse, by the way is woven & deserves to be made in silk I think …

20131004-124321.jpgAnd while I’m at it I have to give a shout of thanks to the guys at Coats crafts for sending me this vintage pincushion and thread set.  

20131004-124458.jpgWant to know something bizarre?  I didn’t have a pincushion!  It’s true.
And these awesome lace edged zips which I am aiming to embellish something unexpected with….

And if that wasnt enough, I feel as if I’ve been on a bit of a winning spree, having also won this mother!!

It’s a big ‘un folks!!  Party on down!  (after the marathon….;-)  )
Now I’m not trying to gloat. I am just counting my blessings as I’ve had rather a tough year so far, and this is a stackful of bounty when you look at it altogether.

So, onto plans.
My head has been and continues to be all awhirl with trying to get some sense and order to what to sew next. Ive been a bit of a pinball sewster, knocking from one quick project to the other without any real strategy. It’s been great, rather decadent sewing!! But. There are things I need for the winter. I’m talking jackets and outerwear. Those makes that require time, patience and a number of sittings ! Not to be made in one afternoon. The opposite of hedonistic sewing.
Remember my plans to sew a coat? From starting contemplation in August 2013, where did they end up last year? No where. I didn’t even cut the pattern out. So in no order of priority here are some of the coats and jackets I would like to sew this season:
Simplicity 2508 in this awesome wool

I’ve seen that Minerva sells faux leather piping! That could be a match made in heaven and fits with my vision for this fabric.
Ok, I also have the fabric and pattern to make a Minoru

And lets not forget the beautiful vintage vogue jacket, (3007) pattern lent to me by Jane

20131004-125927.jpgTeal wool with floral lining.  The teal doesn’t show up very well in this picture sadly.
And finally on the jacket front, I’ve found the perfect pattern, from this month’s Burda mag ( 10/2013) andfirst time I’ve bought one,  to finally use some Chinese brocade , a gift from my Mum a couple of years ago now

20131004-130347.jpgIt’s got a mandarin collar, princess seams and fitted waist.  CUTE as a button.
And whilst I’ve got other things tinkling away, and jackets and outerwear will keep me very busy ( and scared!) here’s something else I want to scare myself with: making this wonderful Super130 wool into a nice pair of trousers, maybe these Winnie (has to be dont you think?!) wide-legged trousers by Maria Denmark

20131004-130712.jpgAnd to blurge out even more of my ideas so you can get a feel for what it’s like to be in my head, mirroring the stateof  my sewing room:

  • A wool Chardon skirt
  • A wool Miette skirt
  • A needlecord shirt dress
  • Some more Renfrews
  • A pair of flannel PJs
  • A merino cardigan
  • A Darling Ranges dress in burgundy linen
  • Polka dot leggings

And that’s not including the gifts I’m sewing for family and friends ( not for Christmas presents either). Hmmm. Good job I’ll get some of my pre- marathon life back!!

And I’m off work next week too!  Woo hoo!!
I think I’ll have one bigger thing on the go for me as I sew something for someone else. What do you think I should start with?

What’s going on?

Just a quick one as I seem to have finished packing for a trip up North….


Boy these trainers are skanky, but I haven’t managed to wear my shiny new ones in enough to take the risk for the 13 miler Great North Run this weekend. Ive also managed to recycle my running bows! .
I’m mega excited, not only staying with a dear friend and having the chance to see a part of the country I’ve never visited, but to run alongside rather a long way behind Mo Farah will be awesome. It’ll be my biggest race event and I’m hoping a pleasure after all the million mile runs we’ve been pounding shuffling in preparation for that auspicious first and only ( yes, I say it and mean it) marathon in a few weeks time. If I have any Great North Run revelationary moments I shall share with you. But let it be known, I’m not running for a p.b. but for the experience ( even if weather is not looking good….I just don’t know what to wear and am therefore packing rather a lot of kit it seems!!) anyway, the race is being televised, so I shall wave if I see a camera :-).

And in sewing news, last night I cut out …

A rather fetching combo for autumn….but I shall keep you guessing. And I will be dreaming about making it up next week, with luck.

Have a great weekend everyone xx

Bring it on, 2013

Happy new year everyone!  As I write Gary has opened all of the doors and windows  to blow the new year in throughout the house. I love this custom, I love the significance of the new year and the opportunity to make a fresh start and set out some intentions.
Now I haven’t reflected on 2012 properly yet, and with such a lot of blogging to catch up on will make this a catch all: mini review and look ahead, all in one.

This is now my second year of not buying anything RTW (except sportswear & undies) but even there I have ventured into vest & knicker making & even made my own running top.  

My running stats show that I’ve a new level of commitment & always astound me:

I’ve been on 109 runs in 2012, run for over 83 hours, covered a distance of 483.5 miles & burned off over 55,000 calories.  Yeah!  That feels good!  All set for 2013 on that score….just need to get over my grotty cold 🙁

My 2012 sewing year has been following a practical route, filling wardrobe gaps but with the addition of the odd whim, but making 62 things for me. As a consequence it’s felt like a year of sewing separates, illustrated below:

When compiling this I was shocked to see just how many tops I’ve made (26 in total, a couple yet to be blogged).  I was also surprised that my dress count was higher than I expected (8) as to me it feels like far fewer – I am currently suffering from an apparent N.E.D syndrome (Not Enough Dresses).  Dolly Clackett, can you advise? 😉

So I’ve seen that there have been lots of very interesting “Top 5 makes” (both hits & misses) being blogged which is a great idea, but challenging! What are the criteria to help you decide?  If you are like me, what passed earlier in the year, in different weather, feels out of reach & I am drawn to newer makes which I have been wearing a lot.  However, I shall focus on 5, but will cheat a bit & apply it to patterns as opposed to garments.  This feels sensible for me, since the success of a garment is dependent on the style, fit & pleasure in making it up with the feeling at the end that you want to make more.  What better sign of success?  So based on that, I am also surprised (but it’s very logical)  to see that Sewaholic Patterns is by far the winner (& they are all inde patterns).  Here starts my 5:

Sewaholic Renfrew cleans up & is an obvious choice.  I have made 9 this year including one gift for my Mum (which she hadn’t realised was made by me until she looked for the care label!!!) & an as yet unblogged but awesome fleece version.  I have been loving my merino version & the plain grey marl one also gets pulled out weekly.

(hopefully clicking through all of the pics will take you to the original post)

Sewaholic Thurlows– I have only made one pair but they fit like a dream & are exactly the kind of trousers I love – suitable for work & yes, even not work.  They can be dressed up or dressed down & as soon as I finished them (as part of Lladybird’s sewalong) I wanted to launch myself into making more.

Sewaholic Cambie Dress – I have made two of these, and was lucky enough to be a tester.  They fit so well & are adaptable to different occasions – work & play time when I want to make a bit of an effort.  I feel so girly in the full skirted version & have worn the polka dot A line version heaps to work.

Colette Violet blouse– I have made four so far & am basing my current make on it with some redrafting (oooh…exciting!!).  I just love its styling: Peter Pan collar, easy pretty fit, & whilst I mainly wear it to work, I LOVE wearing it to work.  It also featured as my One Week, One Pattern (OWOP)  item…

By Hand Charlotte skirt – this is a new comer, so why did I chose it?  Well, I have to say that it’s another pattern that I adore, & my second version is already cut out.  I have worn this to work & also on a Sunday.  It works both ways- work & play (I think I am spotting a hidden criteria for having chosen my top 5).

But can I also give a couple of other big shouts to those things that wanted to be in my top 5.  First of all big shout to Maria Denmark’s patterns as her tops (of which I have three: Birgitte tee, Day to Night Drape Top & Kimono Tee) are SO versatile & fit into my work/ play wardrobe perfectly.

I also want to make another Victory Patterns Hazel dress as every time I wear it (usually to work) it gets complimented & being jersey is great for wearing when I have to get changed into fitness gear & stuff it in a bag to take home – much easier than separates, & a bit more robust being jersey.

So that’s last year’s leaders.  But then on top of the sewing, what else have I discovered this year? Why, I have a fondness for a spot of tomfoolery !

This blog has provided me with an excuse to mess around and I’m so grateful to everyone who reads this blog and tolerates me in my silliness….let me tell you I am suitably encouraged to carry on in 2013 and have a few ideas up my sleeve. Sewing’s fun, right? And so is blogging and connecting with this wonderful world of like minded sewing and crafting enthusiasts.

So in 2013 I shall not make any resolutions but have pondered about how to carry on the good work in alignment to being clearer about my lifestyle preferences for this coming year (with the aim to develop them as habits).  In a few words, there is too much clutter in my life in general, books that I don’t need that gather dust, clothes that I don’t wear, kitchen cupboards containing jars with sell by dates as old as my cat. “Things” get in the way both physically but even more importantly psychologically.  It’s time to get more minimalist, clear out clutter, & in terms of sewing, get a lean mean fighting fit wardrobe filled only with quality well fitting clothes. That means getting rid of the things I don’t wear any more and concentrate on quality not quantity. Reduce sentimentally clinging to things because “I made it”.   I feel I’m getting there, but will I ever finish?  I think I am aiming to reach that critical mass, where I feel I don’t have too much but equally most everyday occasions are well provided for.  This requires thoughtful planning & buying so that I have that nirvana-wardrobe with outfits rather than singular garments.  (Remember the rule of 3)

It feels organic & an on-going process.  At some point I will be able to take out as I add – this will be an indication that I’m closer to my goal.  However, too much planning & order would make me VERY unhappy, so not to deny my need to be spontaneous & frivolous completely I am going to permit myself a fanciful & fun makes allowance.

So what this translates into in a more nutshell like form is:

  • Quality not quantity – including attention to detail & thoughtful planning
  • Be more scared (ie use that more expensive fabric, tackle more complicated garments, bigger projects, get closer to perfecting fit)
  • Carry on the blogging fun (a catch-all for some ideas I have been brewing up  🙂  )
  • Sew a dress a month

There.  What do you think?  I am already pretty clear about the immediate items in my “quality” list & will share them in a later post.  As the title says, Bring it on 2013!  Let’s make it a cracking year.

Sewing plans for winter/ autumn

Now you have probably gathered that I am easily distracted, easily influenced & terribly tempted by what I see popping up on others’ blogs.  Is there any point in me making a list, a potential plan for this season’s sewing?  I think so.  It will provide just a little bit of focus & also anticipation as I pack away my summer wardrobe & bring out my less substantial winter wardrobe.

What worked well in the summer was a coherent colour coordinated wardrobe of mix-&-matchables(err, don’t I mean separates?).

So to recap my themes for after the summer success:

  • Colour – a great mix & match capabilities but with enough verve & energy that they all make me feel good
  • Adorable patterns
  • Some great solid colours in skirts/ trousers also clearly needed to compliment the pretty patterns
  • No ironing is a strong factor
  • And last but not least, comfort …

Apply this then to my sewing plans for the next season.

Ideally I would plan colours from scratch, but I need to use my not unsubstantial stash.  My ideal colour palette this winter would be purple, grey & greenHowever I cannot escape black, much as I have tried to avoid it – there is too much in my fabric pile waiting to be transformed, plus some navy too.  I shall have to avoid making as dull sombre wardrobe as it’s colour that I love.  And as  I’ve got plenty of greys there is a real danger of dreary drabness so this will be a real challenge.  On the positive, I suppose there is not much that doesn’t go with grey…(my hair! ha ha!)

I’ve already made the biggest wish list of things I’d like to make (it contains 24 items on it!)  So I clearly need to prioritise my hugely long list into things I’d wear the most, (that’ll be work clothes then) but ticking away in parallel will have to be coat sewing (a Minoru and my Simplicity 2508.  Hopefully this can be a slower project that gets dipped into when I feel like it.   So non coat sewing could look like this:


In the summer my most successful tops were those that I was comfortable wearing to work or for casual that also gave me added delight.   The delight factor is important I realise, I need to be besotted with my tops, they need to be pretty or characterful in some way (I’m thinking of that polka dot chiffon Simplicity 2154) .  Therefore for my winter sewing I shall be making two types of adorable tops, frilly or preppy blouses and sophisticated cowl necked knit tops.

Frillies: using a vintage pattern as a starting point I shall be channelling Joanne’s delectable favourite:


to make a blouse from these florals.  On the left some cotton/viscose? from Jane in a swap and the right is some poly chiffon.  I can immediately tell that the chiffon will be a success as it will be no iron!

A Cowl necked Renfrew  or two– made from some more expensive knits – a black wool blend jersey and a steely blue bamboo knit (they are not that exciting to photo, but appear later when I discuss dresses).  It’s not like me to buy classy fabric, but in this instance they were on sale & I couldn’t pass it by,.

I have already mentioned dreams of sewing my own cardigan.  I’ve three lengths of acrylic knitted fabric to experiment with – & they are all grey!   Andrea has recently made a Renfrew cardigan, so it possible!   & I have a few other ideas percolating away…

Next up, work skirts & trousers.  I have fabric & even a UFO!  Let’s start with the UFO –

using this 80s pattern (Vogue 2155, Calvin Klein) I made a start on this last spring.  Something about it wasn’t working for me so it has been draped in various places around my sewing room.  I think the waist is just a little too high & I overfitted it when I received Barbarella to an exaggerated over-fishtail skirt effect.  I shall revisit it.

And whilst we are looking at that pattern, I also like the trousers.  I’ve got that fabric awaiting decision.  The question is this 80s pattern (or a variant of) or run with the success of my latest pair (as yet unblogged) that I have managed to fit a bit better?  The fabric is super 130 & therefore I am under pressure to get them just so.  To be honest it fills me with more than a little fear to sew such special fabric…I am likely to “go muslin”.

 Casual skirts/ shorts:

I have some silk blend mini dogtooth check to make some Thurlow shorts (love the idea of wearing them with chunky woolly tights!)& I could be organised to join the Thurlow sewalong hosted by Lladybird.

I’ve also some baby cord in navy for the Vogue 1247 skirt with the awesome pockets.  And the fabric I swapped with Jane?  Possibly a Simplicity 1245.

What about dresses you might ask?  What I have learnt about dresses is that for them to get worn a lot it helps if they are non iron ;-), therefore a jersey dress could be useful as my Monday morning work dress.  I might have enough of this black polka dot, or else construct something with this frilly skirt & some contrast(showing the knits discussed earlier).  Possibly a Renfrew dress?

Or another version of the Simplicity 2580 cowl neck dress, but add long sleeves?  This must be top of my dress sewing list.  But I also fancy making a Darling Ranges dress & a ditsy needlecord Lisette shirt dress (the straight variety).

I also fancy making me some leggings, having a couple of patterns including the Papercut ooh la la leggings….

Can you believe this is my shortlist?

It appears that I have invested in some unusually more expensive fabric (for me).  It will be interesting to see how my sewing behaviour is affected by this!

How are your plans progressing?

Top of SB’s summer pops

Ok so today was the day when I packed my summer clothes away for the winter.  Bye bye pretties, I shall miss you & all that you signify.

I’m thinking about my plans for autumn sewing but before I spell out my intentions for sewing during the forthcoming months, I wanted to do a quick review of my most successful makes this summer because I thought it might help me work out what I should make for the coming season. So what do I mean by successful?  My criteria are centred around usage and frequency of wear.  And looking at this there seem to see a few themes that crop up! So, here’s my very own handmade summer hit parade:

At 8 : Dotty cambie (sewaholic) dress…the a line version (blogged here). Why? It’s such a great look for work, comfy, smart but altogether scruffy badger. I don’t mind ironing it as there is not gallons of skirt, I’d say it gets worn at least once a fortnight.

At no. 7: Built By Wendy Breton shirt.….(blogged here) it’s so comfy! I’ve worn it most after work in slob mode with shorts, or with trousers. Even though its neck is wide and gives me the flash dance look, it’s been the perfect comfy weight top for the mild but not that warm evenings we’ve had in August & also in September.

Number 6: Chilli red ginger skirt ….(blogged here) it’s just easy to wear for work, smart casual. Nice colour, coordinates with so much. Downside? Being linen it creases and can look a bit scruffy, but gets pulled on once a week I’d say.

Coming in at number 5: Teal simplicity 2451 skirt…..(blogged here) it too is a great weight work skirt. It has lots of coordinating tops and is just so easy to throw on and feel less dressy, like you need to in the summer I think. I think this one gets worn weekly too.

And at number 4, Maria Denmark kimono sleeve tee (also worn in photo above, blogged here)…..über versatile this top, despite and because of its plainness it is versatile to wear at work, at home with so many different things. A winner as it is always in the wash, a sign that it’s needed!

Third on the hit parade is this dress, a cowl necked polka dot jersey, simplicity 2580(blogged here)  is a great work dress for a Monday. You know, eyes struggling to keep open, not always as prepared as you should be after the weekend? This dress survives no ironing and is comfy and smart for a day in the office. I am thinking that I need an equivalent with long sleeves in the winter….hmmm

Near but not quite at the top at number 2 is Simplicity 2154 polka dot chiffon blouse…(blogged here).  It is fair to say that I am in love with this top. Not only do I adore its style, its polka dots, its turquoise-matchee red appeal, but get this….it does not need ironing! And it dries overnight on the airer. It is also a mega success because it too gets worn in work or out of work, and is one of those items that you organise a white wash around just to get it clean again!

 Top of the summer me made pops then, it has to be my red cigarette pants (blogged here).

I think without fail they are my clothing of choice at the weekend for at least one day ….I’ll try to give my other me mades a chance for wear, but I could actually wear these every weekend, all weekend. Their stretch content makes them comfy, their bright red makes me feel energised and happy. The cut is perfect and whilst the fit isn’t, it’s good enough. Hurrah ! I clearly need to capitalise on their success and make another pair….I do have some black fabric with some stretch…..

So what are my themes:

  • Colour – red white & turquoise- great mix & match capabilities but with enough verve & energy that they all make me feel good
  • Polka dots – & not just any polka dots, pretty polka dotted fabrics
  • Some great solid colours in skirts/ trousers also clearly needed to compliment the pretty patterns
  • No ironing is a strong factor
  • And last but not least, comfort …I must be aging for this to be important, but let’s just say this is not the first time the “c” word appears on this blog as a plus point!

Do you have things that you have made that you reach for? What’s your criteria for a successful make? Do you let that inform your sewing plans? Do let me know?!  I am now going to digest this learning & hope that my sewing this season could be as successful.

You can tell there’s a chill in the air….

It’s true, isn’t it? For all us northern hemisphere peeps thoughts of more cuddle-some makes are to be seen popping up around the blogosphere as there is definitely something of autumn in the air….whether it’s that morning dew that remains on parked cars until the sun raises the temperature, or the smell in the air of damp cooling earth, not to mention the shortening days. So it is not with surprise that I’m thinking of autumn/ winter makes. I’m telling you I have started a sewing wish list and it is huge!!!! Therefore it is still in Evernote, work in progress, to be rationalised. Today I had an energising package arrive from jaycotts ( half price simplicity patterns until later in September to all you uk peeps). First of all, following my bound buttonhole adventures and the satisfaction of checking out other sewsters’ cool sewing kit, I ordered one of these chalk markers….not expensive and most definitely a truly accurate marking tool. Having also seen karen’s success with using wonder tape or steam a seam as she used for facilitating tricksty hems particularly in slippery uncooperative knit fabrics, I popped some in my cart to give a go as well. And pins…..pins…can never have enough.


But of most excitement? A few simplicity patterns, funnily enough all project runway ones. I’ll show off the ” no plans yet” couple, which as they we half price and I have seen SO many gorgeous versions of I couldn’t be rude….
Simplicity 2444 ( it has really interesting darts from the waist) and potential for an autumn dress with a stand up roll collar and simplicity 1880 which after sunni’s shirt dress sewalong has produced an awesome volume of inspiration….but what I loved about it? The half placket and the front and back yoke…I sincerely do not have anything like this in my pattern stash…


Ok, so those are just additions with no plans ( as yet), but huge excitement to have selected a pattern for some fabric I bought this summer for my coat. Here’s the fabric


It’s hand washable which was a surprise, but is nice and cosy feeling with a nice wool content. Woven too, so I can forsee bound buttonholes being interesting
No lining as yet.

I have been on the hunt for a suitable pattern, would have loved to see a vintage 60 s style, but had fixed in my head that I wanted a round collar, knee length, some waist definition but semi fitted. In the end, this came to the fore most readily….
Simplicity 2508

I’ve already drawn my croquis

I don’t think I want the front upper chest flaps like this one here, what do you think?

I am also thinking I’d like to bring in some contrast fabric, possibly…collar? Chunky contrst buttons…Pocket flaps? Cuff bands? OR I could make a detachable fur collar….which might appeal to me. Any ideas?

And on top of this? I’ve also a burning desire to make a minoru …no fabric but at least I have the pattern. I’m thinking jumbo cord for that one.