Dance like no one is watching.
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Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Christmas Gifts 2013

Coming in just under the 2013 line (in the United Kingdom anyway) is my final post of the year and it is about the Christmas gifts I handmade this year.

I made these aprons for two lovely little girls.  They are sisters so there was the challenge of making them different, but not so different as to cause arguments!  I used a pattern from a BurdaStyle magazine, omitting a bib panel which I didn't really like and using scraps of fabric I already had.


And log cabins!

I also made a table decoration for my Mother In Law.  It uses applique and embroidery to make a simple design and I made it whilst enjoying all the bad Christmas films in the run up to the big day!

Hope you all have a Happy New Year!



Saturday, 28 December 2013

Top 5 of 2013 - Inspirations and Goals

Top 5 of 2013 - An Annual Blog Series

This is my final post in Gillian's Top 5 of 2013 linkup.  Time to list my inspirations this year and my goals for 2014.


1.  Online Friends

Who could write an inspirational list without mentioning the joy of being able to see people as crazy as you are making beautiful things all over the world!  I read too many blogs to be able to list you all but, rest assured, if you blog about sewing, I have come to visit!

2. Offline Friends

I believe everyone is creative, and I am lucky enough to know quite a few people who demonstrate this in their daily lives.  From my sister, who knits meticulously, to my friend Sarah, who has just started an art class, to these people who I am lucky enough to have photographic evidence!

My friend Siwgr who makes fabulous felt!  I wore this example of her work to afternoon tea this year.

Mr HoffiCoffi, a creator of board games.

My children, who leave little doodles like the one above around the place. 

3. Dare I say Craftsy!

I have started using Craftsy this year and did a bit of research before purchasing a class.  It seems a bit of a marmite subject but I have to say I have really enjoyed the experience.  I loved the teaching styles of Susan Khalje in her couture class and Beth Ferrier in her applique class.

My Cushion Following Beth's Class.

4. Wonderwool Wales

I went to Wonderwool Wales for the first time this year and loved it!  So much inspiration in several huuuuge barns!  Here is a photo of all the... ahem.... 'inspiration' that found it's way home with me!!!


1. Rip More Calico!!!

Honestly, I did it for the first time yesterday and it is such a great way to find the fabric grain - and it makes you feel like the Incredible Hulk.  Win win!

Actually this does lead me on to the next goal.

2. Pattern Fit More Effectively

I am going to be a big girl this year and really get to grips with pattern fitting.  Yes, I am talking about making a muslin and really examining the fit issues.  Full Bust Adjustment here I come!

3. Trying Couture Techniques

Susan Khalje's very gentle powers of persuasion have convinced me to give couture a go.

4. Find a HoffiCoffi Proof Iron

I am HoffiCoffi - destroyer of Irons.  Honestly I just want one with a soleplate that doesn't become all gunked up and is impossible to clean.

5. Understand the 'Pattern Magic' Books

I got Pattern Magic volumes 1 and 2 for Christmas on my request.  Don't have the slightest idea what they are on about... this may be a goal too far!  

Monday, 23 December 2013

Top 5 of 2013 - Misses

Top 5 of 2013 - An Annual Blog Series

My second post for Gillian's Top Five of 2013 link up is all about what did not quite go to plan this year.  Here are my top 5. 

1. 'Leather' Skirt

Urgh, this is the worst thing I have made.  Ever.  In my defence, I was working with a polyurethane coat I found in the charity shop, to make a leather look skirt for a refashion runway sewalong.  But that's no excuse really - it's just ugly and badly made. 

2. Peplum Shirt

Another refashion runway challenge.  I was happy with my finished work, changing a boxy shirt into a fitted peplum, but I still don't like peplums.

3. Fifties Petticoat

I feel a little bit bad about putting this petticoat on the list because I love it.  But that middle panel was not supposed to be there - I panicked and put it in when I realised the skirt was going to be a bit short.  Now it's too long.  Nothing that rolling up the waistband doesn't fix but it was a silly error on my part.

4. Cord Hat 

I decided to make a hat out of truly scrappy scraps of fabric - a headscarf for the lining that was badly damaged and the very, very last scrap of green cord I have had for ages.  The hat was fiddly to make but turned out ok, but was too big!

The only photo I have of said hat is on a friend's head during Me Made May.  Last seen in my wicker basket full of hats and scarfs, never seen on my head.

5. Brown Shorts Remake

Again, nothing actually wrong with these.  They are a simple refashion of an old pair of Mr HoffiCoffi's jeans into something rather cute for summer.  My only error in these was trying to get the things on.  Think I got as far as my knees.  Enough said.

So, there you have my top five misses of 2013.  I realize there is a touch of Goldilocks and the Three Bears about it all as I seem to be complaining things are too big, too small or too long.  Hopefully next year I'll get it juuuuust right!

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Top 5 of 2013 - Hits

Top 5 of 2013 - An Annual Blog Series

I thought it would be hard to come up with my top five hits for Gillian's Top 5 of 2013 link up. I gave up blogging for most of the year but, of course, not blogging does not mean not creating!  So here is my top 5 of 2013.

1. The Ikea Dress

So called because it is made out of an Ikea duvet cover found in a charity shop.  A vintage 60's Butterick pattern was used.

2. Gingham Shorts

I made these for my daughter after she fell in love with a similar pair in a rather pricey catalogue! I had all the material already so my only other outlay was the price of the zip.  I used a modern Burda pattern but self drafted the heart shaped pockets to recreate the look of the much coveted shorts.

3. Floral Skirt 

This is a self drafted skirt pattern and the fabric is an old curtain found in a charity shop.  The photo was taken on holiday and I feel I blend into our sun tent on the beach quite well!

4. Plaid Re-Fashion

I enjoyed sewing along with the Refashion Runway girls this year.  My favourite refashion was turning a long plaid skirt into this dress.  It's quite festive so it may well be what I wear on Christmas day!

5. Ruffle Cuff Socks

Finally, I couldn't let my top 5 go by without slipping in a bit of knitwear.  These socks are designed by Ann Budd and are knitted up in Noro Silk Garden yarn.  Cosy and just that little bit crazy!

So there you have it.  These are a few of my favourite things!

Friday, 20 December 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas.

I had intended to make hand knitted intarsia baubles for all of my friends.  However, five hours later, still struggling with my first attempt - knitted in the round on teeny tiny needles - well, let's just say I had a change of heart! 

Maybe if I start in January for 2014.  That fair isle jumper is a long way off........

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Applique Cushion Finally Finished!

I have finally finished something! 

I splashed out last month on a couple of Craftsy courses.  One of which was Machine Finished Hand Applique by Beth Ferrier.  I personally loved Beth's teaching style and her applique technique was not something that I had thought of doing and gave, in my humble opinion, good results!

I am conscious that I do not want to give away Beth's technique as I feel that would be unfair to her but I will say that it uses an applique thread which I am not a fan of.  She did suggest an alternative thread which I found easy to source and I couldn't resist a photo of the lovely starter pack I purchased.  You can see the cushion below all basted and ready to quilt.

My meandering free-motion machine quilting is getting better - apologies to my family as I seem to control the fabric better if I sing at the same time!!!!  No, I don't know why either!

This cushion is destined to become a present for a friend and I am itching to try a quilt using this technique.  Could take me a while.....

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Refashion Runway Season Two - Halloween

I did manage to finish the penultimate Refashion Runway challenge - but a bit late to be included in the sew along roundup.  

I used the two sparkly tops pictured above, together with the now disassembled leather skirt disaster and a bit of red fabric from a bargain bag of Ebay scraps.

Not being much of a dress up person myself I decided to make something for the children to wear on dress up Friday in the club I help to supervise.  We don't really celebrate Halloween where I work so I decided to avoid any obvious scary motifs and the colour orange so that it could double up as a bit of a Christmas outfit.

It was really quick and simple to make.  I just cut wedges out of the bottom of the tops and sewed them together to make a cape and a skirt panel which I just sewed back onto the discarded top section.

I also made the cape reversible and matched the back panels of the skirt with this colour combination, so hopefully it will work whichever way you wear the cape.  I think it will get a lot of wear so I am hoping my overlocking will take the strain!

Friday, 25 October 2013

Will Work For Fabric!

I was really enjoying sewing along with the Refashion Runway challenge when I had a phone call offering me a second job!  The last fortnight has been a whirlwind of trying to fit in working with all the usual household things and so sewing has gone out of the window for a while.  Any tips on how to juggle the work/kids lunchbox/sewing triangle gratefully received!

What I do have to show for it though is the fact that a tiny trickle of this second income is going towards some very lovely things.  I treated myself to some flannel and fabulous buttons from Ray Stitch.  The flannel will hopefully be transformed into the sixties dress pattern above, which I got from a charity shop - so long as I have the time to cut the pattern out for the elves to come and sew in the night... the elves and the shoemaker is real right????!

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Refashion Runway Season Two - Leather

To quote Craig Revel Horwood on the television series Strictly Come Dancing, this week I had an 'absolute di-SAH-ster dahling'!

Being a bit of a rock chick I have in the past been known to put on a bit of leather.

This photo was taken twenty years ago.  Twenty years ago, deary me.  Anyway, I've still got it..... the leather skirt that is - not necessarily the mojo!!!

Anyhow, I certainly wasn't going to chop into my precious skirt so off I went in search of a bit of charity leather.  There was none to be had.  The best thing I could come up with was this dodgy coat, with buttons missing, that looked like something that the token 'bad boy' of a nineties boy band would wear whilst perching on a stool.

And no, it's not even leather.  Only the best fibre content for me...

Nothing shouts quality more than a heavy percentage of polyurethane!

So, in for a penny, in for a pound, I decided to mix it with a bargain bag of fabric scraps I got from Ebay.

I only used the lighter fabric pictured in the end.  It was a shiny stretchy material which was hemmed on two sides so I've no idea what it was in its previous life!

After some playing around I came up with this....


Now, I am aware that I hated the peplum last week, and I really don't want to be the type of blogger who people think is trying to curry favour by saying they hate everything they make.  I don't usually.  I've just been trying to push myself a bit by making things a little out of my comfort zone and I suppose the success rate is lower when this is the case.  It is also very badly sewn.  The back seam just puckered up and in the end I just pretty much gave up with it.

I do like the pockets though!  This was a happy accident because I cut out the back of the jacket for the back of the skirt and then realised that the only large pieces of coat fabric left had pockets on them.  Should pear shaped girls have huge pockets on their hips?  ... um, no Miss, but I like them!

I'm afraid this skirt is going straight into the pile marked 'try again' and you will probably see it in some other form next week -  It's Halloween time!

You can vote for an actual, properly made, properly leather refashioned item here.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Refashion Runway Season Two - Peplum

When I read that this week's refashion was based on peplums, I must admit my heart sank a little.  I've never been a fan of peplums.  As a fully, fully paid up member of the pear shaped gang, the last thing I want is a bunch of fabric accentuating my widest part.  I know peplums don't have to sit on the hip but you don't see many bust peplums about!  Still, a challenge is a challenge. 

I bought this blouse - which is five sizes too big for me - in an Oxfam sale for one pound.  This meant that I didn't mind experimenting a bit.  I started by pretty much unpicking everything.  That meant all the waist darts, bust darts, side seams and sleeve heads had to be dismantled, and I was left with this..

I then cut out a new bodice using the colette peony pattern and assembled the new bust and waist darts.  I then had a wobbly about the sleeves.

I could not decide whether to have little cap sleeves or keep the original cuffs.  Cap sleeves are more 'me' but then, as you have already gathered, peplums are not very me so why not go the whole hog with a different style.  A cup of tea and a sandwich later, I looked again at the photos and decided that I could not discard such a nice detail as the sleeve cuffs, so I kept them long.

And this is the finished result.  The peplum itself was simple to do as I just gathered the bottom section of the old blouse and put it back onto the smaller bodice.

Here I am wearing my new peplum at a friend's house.  Am I now won over by the peplum?  Sorry - I am not!  It was an easy style to wear but I still don't think it is very 'me'. 


I did have a lovely morning though.  I was attending a macmillan coffee morning, raising funds for a cancer support charity.  Coffee, cakes, chatting, cats and charity.  Can I add couture to that list?  Not with a peplum!!!!

You can vote for your favourite in the competition here.