Wednesday 27 October 2010


It's half term this week and with no chance of getting any sewing done I'd been feeling a bit like an addict deprived of her fix.  Today though, I cunningly suggested making a halloween teddy/soft toy.  This had the double bonus of keeping the boys amused and letting me play with my sewing machine for an hour (hoorah).  We decided to make ghosts after seeing the lovely ghost Justine made for her son here.

My older boy drew the pattern onto white fabric (he's a genius) and all we did then was sew together two pieces of the same shape.  Turn it the right way round, a bit of stuffing and two button eyes later and we had these terrifying creatures to play with...

The ghost is on the left, not to be mistaken for the rancid rag comforter in the other hand!
The genius designer basking in his success
Along the way we had to make a Prince of Darkness style cape for the dominant ghost out of a few scraps of fabric and some ribbon.  Scary eh?

Mohammed Ali-style ghost cape
The boys love them, we had a fun morning making them and I feel like supermum! Thanks for the idea Justine! x

Saturday 23 October 2010

Crafty Christmas Club

Tired of spending a small fortune on gifts nobody really wants?  Fancy being creative and saving money this Christmas?  Then join the Crafty Christmas Club!

The Crafty Christmas Club is a fantastic new blog sharing forum set up by Tilly from Tilly and the Buttons.  In Tilly's words, "It's a hub to discuss your Christmas crafty plans with likeminded people, gain inspiration from other craftsters, share tips and tutorials, and perhaps - most importantly - show off your finished goodies without spoiling the surprise to friends and family who may be reading your own blog."

I've joined the group because I’d love to make some handmade gifts this year - I think they’ll be really appreciated and I’ll get a lot of pleasure from making them.  To test the water, I made birthday presents for my mum and my mother in law this year and they both went down a storm.  Even if it’s just a lavender bag, to me handmade means much more than yet another gift set from Boots.

So this year I’ll be making little purses, make-up brush rolls, lavender bags and of course, 50's style half pinnies!  I’d also like to have a go at this fabric yo-yo necklace – primarily for me to wear at Christmas rather than giving as a present, does that count?!  Of course, if it’s easy peasy then it will be added to my present making list!  But my biggest challenge of all will be thinking of something tasteful yet premier league football related for my older son!  Any ideas would be VERY gratefully received! 

Anyone interested in joining should follow the link above. There are instructions for becoming a contributor on the blog.  Please join in, then I can see what everybody else has been making, which is basically my favourite pastime! x

Thursday 21 October 2010

Pinny frenzy

Remember this pinny?

Well I was so pumped up with confidence after all your lovely comments, I decided to make a few more to sell at Christmas.  So here they are, in suitably 50’s housewife fabrics.  

Chicken fest pinny
Apple pinny

Housewives in action pinny
The first two are from the Alexander Henry Farmdale range from M is for Make.  I love this range and the fabric is gorgeous to work with, really soft and stretchy. I read this about the collection, "these prints celebrate the era when the kitchen had curtains, mum wore homemade aprons and everything was made from scratch and filled with love." which says it all really.

The last pinny was made from some new fabric I got in the Seamstar sale just this week. It was born to be made into an old fashioned pinny!  This is my favourite lady:

Cool ironing gal
It's how I like to think of myself doing the ironing!

I loved making them, they're so easy, and if they don't sell they'll make fab Christmas presents. x

Monday 18 October 2010

Frock wearing dilemma

This dress was one of the first things I made on my dressmaking course and was very easy to make.  I like it because it’s such a traditional shaped dress, or maybe that should be frock?  

The thing is, I've never worn it as I’m not sure which occasion it fits.  If I still worked, then problem solved, I could swan around the office like Joan Holloway (I wish) - but those days are gone. I was thinking of adding a little cardigan and wearing it in the daytime if I suddenly decide to have a ‘smart’ day. In which case, I'd probably need to shorten it so it's more knee length.  I just can’t decide.

The fabric is from the V & A and was one of several Liberty print quilting cottons that were produced to coincide with this summer’s quilt exhibition.  I love the tiny seedhead pattern, but am not 100% sure about the colour, it’s a reddy, orangey, coral in real life, which isn’t top of my list but I couldn’t resist the pattern.  I bought the fabric before I actually went to the exhibition and was completely over excited to find these matching covered buttons in the shop afterwards.  

Just noticed I need to twirl the bottom two buttons round so they're all facing the same way!
I’ve suddenly made a decision whilst writing this post, I’m going to wear it to dinner at a friend’s house this weekend.  If it looks old fashioned, who cares?  It’s a proper frock and a lady should wear a proper frock to dinner.  x

Saturday 16 October 2010

Pattern win!

Remember this fantastic giveaway on Debi’s blog?  Well guess what? I WON A PATTERN!!!!!  It’s the beautiful 1930’s tennis(!) or otherwise dress. 

My prize!!!
I can’t tell you how delighted I am, thank you Debi!  Inspired by Debi’s blog, I actually bought my first two vintage patterns last week on eBay. I was about to bid on a third, which was for a shirt dress very like the one on the 30's pattern, but decided to wait and see if I won.  How spooky is that? It was obviously destined to be mine. I'm planning on making the blue one that the lady in the sun-visor is wearing. 

These are the other two patterns coming to live with me:

1950's wrap top with improbably tiny waist

1960's checked dress
I’ll probably start with the wrap top first because I’m lazy, and it only appears to have three pattern pieces -  a beginner’s got to start somewhere!

Miracle pattern - only three pieces
I think I’ll make it in plain red (like the lady on the cover). The other pattern is enticing me to sew view C.  I’ve got an urge to sew something in gingham so this may be the dress to experiment on.

These three can join my backlog of patterns waiting to be sewn (more on that in the next post). x

Thursday 14 October 2010

Farewell fabric

Today I used the last bits of two of my favourite fabrics, always a sad occasion! I got them in the sale at Saints and Pinners back in the summer but only managed to acquire one FQ of the Lizzy House ugly duckling fabric and two FQ's of the flowery turquoise Erin McMorris fabric.  I don't think the fabrics are available any more, which is a bit sad as they're both so lovely. I've been getting them out of my stash on a regular basis ever since, just to play with them, but with craft fairs looming decided to turn them into crafty things.  

Because the ugly duckling is so elusive, the most obvious option was a cushion:

Whereas the turquoise flowers are so retro and bright and lovely, they could be turned into almost anything.  So in their new life, they're now... 

mobile phone holders...

 little purses...

Small purse lined with dark pink polka dots

... and lavender bags.  I don't have any pics of the lavender bags because they all sold out at the last craft fair before I could photograph them.  So far, out of three FQ's, I've managed to make a cushion, two small purses, four mobile phone holders and six lavender bags. Hope they all go to good homes.

Monday 11 October 2010

Cloth Magazine

Hoorah, I’m a winner!  Well, not exactly a winner, but I got something lovely for free which is the same difference.  My prize was a back issue of the long since sold out issue two of Cloth Magazine which one of the staff offered to subscribers on Facebook.  The lucky recipient was me! As if things couldn’t get any better, the issue I received was a special vintage issue (yes!)

I subscribed to Cloth Magazine after reading about it on the Saints and Pinners Blog and became an instant fan. I really like the whole tone of the magazine - it has some unusual and very stylish projects  (both clothes and crafty items), all of which seem to be relatively straight forward to make. 

The magazine’s got a bit more of a fashion emphasis than other sewing mags too and often features ingenious ways of refashioning old frumpy clothes into new ones. The only downer is that it’s only published quarterly so you have to be patient between sewing fixes. 

Friday 8 October 2010

Vintage Patterns

Debi from My Happy Sewing Place is running a fab giveaway at the moment.  Her blog is all about vintage fashion (particularly the 1940's), check out some of her gorgeous clothes. She's giving away one pattern for each decade from the 1930's to the 1960's.  All you have to do to enter is be a follower of her blog and leave a comment on it by Wednesday 13th October.  I'd love to start sewing from vintage patterns but find them a bit brusque and scary looking (I like lots of fool proof instructions personally).  One of the patterns in her giveaway looks very tempting though:  

It's for a set of collars from the 1950's (1950 to be exact).  Sounds like the perfect introduction to sewing from vintage patterns.  I've also got my eye on this beauty from the 1930's:  

The blue dress on the right is my fave, I'm not exactly a tennis playing girl so would have limited use for a combined shorts/dress combo!  If I don't win, then I've decided to make my first foray into vintage patterns by tracking one down.  I'll chart my progress right here..

Wednesday 6 October 2010

I need to get sewing!

Last Saturday saw the first of my pre - xmas Craft Fairs.  I've only ever been to one craft fair (outside on a windy May day, with all the joys of putting up a gazebo, never again) and my son's summer fair at school so it was a bit of an experiment.  This one was run by Ealing Mums in Business and the two women who organised it - Erin and Shelley - did an amazing job.  Not only was it packed to the rafters, but they seemed to have got the demographics just right for potential buyers of my lovely fabric bags and accessories! Almost everyone seemed to be carrying Cath Kidston shopping bags and whipping out Orla Kiely purses. Consequently I was thrilled to actually sell quite a lot of my things - yay.  

My best sellers were lavender bags



and these retro owl cushions

Anybody who grew up in the 70's immediately wanted one of these!

Although it was fab to sell so much, it got me worrying that I need to make more stock for the other fairs to avoid the horror of running out of stock on the day, or even worse, having a fair to go to and nothing to sell!  I've got six weeks until the next one so I think I'll be spending a lot of time sewing.  I got started yesterday on this fabric bundle:

The Woo Woo bundle!
It's the Little Birds Woo Woo bundle (love the name) by Valori Wells from a great new online fabric shop I've just discovered called Backstitch.  It's amazing what you can squeeze out of three fat quarters.  

Small purses, just need to add snaps and they're done.
I made six small purses and cut out the fabric for four large purses but then realised the birds were all facing the wrong way (doh).  So I chopped them up and will turn them into lavender bags instead.  I've still got quite a bit left so it was a really good purchase.  Will keep you updated on my other makes..

Monday 4 October 2010

Socialite Dress

I've been wanting to make this Anna Maria Horner 'Socialite Dress' pattern for a while but wasn't sure the style would suit me - it's quite a loose fit and being on the curvy side, clothes that are too loose often make me look, shall we say, pregnant!  Then I saw a few lovely versions made up with belts - genius!  Not little fabric scrappy belts but big, substantial thick ones that nip you right in at the waist, which for me, changed the whole look of the dress.  

The pattern and fabric both came from M is for Make, one of my favourite fabric and pattern sites.  It's run by the lovely Kate who has given me TONS of great advice and help ever since I started sewing.  She also stocks gorgeous, unusual fabrics and patterns.  I used one of Denyse Schmidt's Hope Valley fabrics which are all beautiful.  It took me a long time to decide which one to use but the colour finally swung it (I like grey).

So here it is..

I'm glad I went with the grey as I can actually wear the dress in the Autumn layered with a cardigan and boots (as I did today).  

As this was the first pattern I've attempted without the help of my sewing tutor, I read the pattern all the way through about four times (seriously, I'm so sad!), just so I knew exactly what I'd be doing and I really think this helped.  Size-wise, I went with a medium which was perfect (I'm a 10/12).  Once everything was cut out it probably took two afternoons to sew, one uninterrupted and blissful, one with the kids whining down my ear the whole time so not quite so enjoyable.  It's a great pattern for a reasonably confident beginner to attempt as it has no zips, buttons or fastenings of any kind - hence the V-neck and loose fit in order to get it over your head.  The language is friendly and it explains every single stage, even down to back stitching at the beginning and end of each seam, which could be quite annoying for a more experienced sewer, but for me was fine.  The gathering at the front and back took the longest, but this was because I wasn't entirely sure what I was doing!  It came out OK though.  
A slightly better view of the gathers
I'll probably make another one for wearing in the spring/summer, in which case I'll make it longer (there's an option on the pattern to do this).  With tights, it's fine, but I'm not displaying my knees!  


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