Author Archives: cartwrightjulia

About cartwrightjulia

My aim this year is to reduce my stash considerably instead of hoarding it. I see fabric, buy it and can't commit to its use; the challenge is to use the fab fabric I have and not to worry too much whether there may be a better use for it. Surely it is better to use it than keep it in a box until I am sure that the perfect dress, household object or bag is calling for it.

My year.

This year I have spent more time sewing than previously and this was a direct result of following blogs and in particular getting involved in Kids Clothes Week. The content on there is amazing and inspired me to have a go.  Another favourite blog has been The self-deprecating tone and the candid description of the outfit construction made me believe that anything was possible. The move from only children’s clothes to clothes for myself has been driven by Sanae sharing her experiences of sewing for herself and I have worn my sewing with pride.  I haven’t blogged about many of my ‘makes’ as I didn’t feel they offered anything unique or insightful.  I have learned from reading many sewing blogs now that I am not necessarily looking for a revelation, but for a shared experience, so I plan to share more.

I haven’t always had the time that I would have liked to commit to sewing;  I must learn to organise myself better in order to free up that time.  When I first started studying with the OU I had a schedule written each week which would keep me on track, I think that would be of use again. It is so easy to get into a sloppy routine.  I need to make time to take photographs of the stages of my sewing and then document my achievements. Currently, everything is written down and saved in my moleskin notebook but I should take the time to transfer some of that information here.

The blogs I enjoy tend to be succinct with lots of pictures and that is a format that I would like to emulate.  My photography skills leave a lot to be desired and I am constantly berated by my husband for not taking enough.  Practice makes perfect, so I’d better take more.

Here are a some works in progress that never made it to the blog:

A bit random but I love making sourdough bread.

A bit random but I love making sourdough bread.

What more Burda!

What more Burda!

These trousers were just too comfortable and have been made so many times.  Maddy’s school trousers are of this pattern but without the elastic at the ankles.  They are such a good fit, impossible from shop bought.

Numb fingers.

Numb fingers.

This bag has no real purpose, I didn’t need another tote, but I wanted to have a go at the one in the Liberty book I received for Christmas.  Sewing the handles on was a real chore and coincided with a debate about thimbles on Did you make that?  I don’t currently have a good one but I will have one in the new year if not for Christmas! I love the finished bag and it has used fabric from my stash which was the main purpose of starting the blog – attacking my ever growing pile of fabric.  I have increased my pile this year but I have also increased my output so on balance I think I have done OK.  I am looking forward to doing better next year but in the meantime have another bag to get ready for Christmas.  Neil is expecting a Walden Cooper messenger bag.  I’d better get on with it tomorrow, after Scout post, shopping, finishing the cover for the cushion pads in the dining room, kids homework, baking, blah, blah,blah. It will be done and wrapped 🙂


Henry’s jumper

I started a jumper for one of my nephews, Henry, a good while ago.  He is growing really quickly so I needed to crack on.  I had never knitted in the round before, but liked the idea of not having to sew the finished pieces together. One row buttonholes are also new to me but I have figured them out too with a little help from here:

The pattern is a free download from Ravelry here: .  I chose only two colours rather than five and I think that works better for a boy, especially this denim coloured tweedy effect yarn.  The buttons were from my stash and are a perfect match.  Time will tell what they were bought for, but it’ll be too late then!

2013-11-16 15.08.36The jumper has taken a while to complete but I am really pleased with the way it has turned out.  I plan on making one for my niece but I will use brighter colours for Matilda’s.  Also, I didn’t like the hem at the bottom so I will add a ribbed cuff next time.  I now know that dpn’s are not scary, I can obviously tackle socks; stripes are not difficult and as long as you don’t join the yarns together too tightly you can adjust the join when you weave the ends in. Who knows, maybe fair-aisle socks next, only joking!

2013-11-16 15.08.25

Busy summer

It’s been a while since my last post, thinking I hadn’t really done anything.  When I look back that’s not actually the case: we had an amazing holiday in France, we had our house upside down, I’ve done a bit of sewing and knitting, started making bread again and now it’s back to studying.

Our holiday was split into two parts: the first being an adventure holiday with Manor Adventure and the second a more relaxing break in a lodge overlooking a golf course both in North East France.  We had a brilliant time climbing, canoeing, and all manner of outdoor pursuits.  It was possibly the best holiday we’ve had, as the kids had a ball and we got to have dinner in the evening whilst they went off doing more activities.  How many holidays are there were the kids dictate the day and then you get to have a romantic evening? I did get some good bruises and a fair number of bites but they were worth it!

abseilingLook at me hanging onto the railings at the top of the abseiling wall – knees bent desperately trying to keep away from the edge! I climbed up the inside on ladders (with a harness), after all the children and other parents had had their go, hoping we may run out of time but we didn’t!!  I still haven’t conquered my fear of heights but I did go over, feeling very pleased that I hadn’t embarrassed Madeleine and Dominic.  Our favourite parts were on the lake where we got to have a go in canoes, kayak’s and on paddle boards; we did seem to spend more time in the water rather than on it though.  We enjoyed that so much that we have joined a local kayaking club, just missing out on the outdoor season, it’s now held in a swimming pool. It will have to be something exceptional to surpass this years’ holiday.

Summer outfit

Summer is sizzling here at the moment and we’re not that prepared.  We haven’t experienced a really warm summer for such a long time it seems.  We’re all short of summer clothes.  I have bought some board shorts for the kids so we can go to the beach without fetching pockets full of sand home and I’ve made Maddy a pair of shorts with matching vest.  The main fabric is left over linen from some trousers that I made for my nephew, and the jersey was bought to go with it.  I’m hoping to make her a casual dress with this jersey too, as it will be so comfortable.

It was a squeeze to get the shorts out of the remnant linen; there was very little left when the pieces were cut out.  Maddy prefers shorts to be longer and I didn’t have enough to do a hem so I trimmed the bottom with ribbon and pulled some threads to give a frayed edge.

IMG_1251Maddy’s inspiration came whilst we were shopping for thread, she spotted a frog that she had to have.  It was supposed to iron on but it didn’t feel very secure so I went round it with some green thread.  The end result was really good and very well recieved.  The shorts are going to have to be smuggled out of the bedroom and into the wash basket but the top has already been removed.  It didn’t last an hour before juice was spilled down the front, not bad enough that she had to take it off so she was able to wear it when we went for a walk along the seafront.  It was so hot yesterday it was the perfect outfit.

IMG_1275The shorts are cut-off trousers from Burda – 142 05/2011 again! The t-shirt is Riviera from  Sewing Clothes Kids Love.  I am going to make another t-shirt for Maddy to wear with these shorts and then maybe go back to the blue shorts.  I do, however, have a commitment to Dom to make some jeans.  He has been badgering me for a while so the blue shorts thankfully will be pushed down the queue.

Navy shorts for Maddy

Kids Clothes Week went by far too quickly and I only got a pair of shorts made for Maddy from remnants of fabric.  The shorts pattern is 134 from Burda 06/11.  I didn’t have enough blue linen left from Dom’s trousers to make a complete pair of shorts so used some other scraps and I’m pleased with the end result.  The pockets are lined with a floral print to add a girly touch.IMG_1243Maddy’s not a girly girl so I have to take what I can get, hidden flowers will have to do.  It took me ages to fit a zip (not very well) as I had to pull some of its teeth AND I’d never done a fly zipper before.  The tabs were also a pain, as the point wouldn’t run under my buttonhole foot, so I had to improvise and use alternative fabric and square the ends instead.  The fabric from Ikea was left over from the roman blinds I made for the dining room; I thought it would be a good idea to change the waistband to match the tabs so they would blend in. I think the shorts actually look better than they would have done had the tabs and waistband been navy.IMG_1244I was particularly pleased with the yoke at the back of the shorts but I made a massive mistake whilst making these – I never fitted them until everything was finished and they are too big.  I don’t know whether to put them away or unpick and take them in, at least that way I can make a better job of the zip but they took sooo long.  I have almost finished another outfit for her so I will decide when it’s done.IMG_1247


I have been feeling a little under the weather recently and at the end of last week came down with shingles.  It could be because the house is upside down with the building work going on, or because I’m waiting for exam results, or any number of other things.  The rash is on a section of my back where I missed with the suncream last weekend and got sunburn, so I think it may be that.

Although I swim a mile at least twice a week I haven’t felt as healthy as I did when I was running, so I decided to give it a go again this morning as I couldn’t go to a public swimming pool.  I have had ongoing problems with plantar fasciitis for years and was advised to give up running and try something else, which is why I started swimming.  I could comfortably swim a mile breastroke but took lessons because I wanted to learn how to do front crawl; initially it was really difficult, particularly breathing, but it is now my default stroke.  I struggle to motivate myself so need goals to aim for, that is easy with running as there are always races going on somewhere nearby, that’s not the case around here for swimming.  If I lived near London or Manchester they have open water challenges which would be great but we don’t have anything like that.  If the pain in my feet isn’t too bad after a week of steady short runs I would love to take it up again but if not I’m going to have to set my own goals for swimming, whether that’s faster or further I need to decide and set a deadline, otherwise I’ll fall into a rut and get bored with it.  I have also decided to fortify my diet as well; this morning instead of toast and jam I had a green smoothie.  Neil’s reaction was priceless when I gave him one too.  He said ‘my gag reaction is fighting with my swallowing, I’m not sure I can drink it.’  I think I may have to tweak the ingredients, theres no getting away from kale or spinach though.  This morning I made two glasses with 1 glass of water, 1 banana, 1 apple, 2 pears, 4 kale leaves (stalks removed), juice of a lime and about 1cm of ginger.  The first third of the glass was the worst, then I got used to it but it would definitely benefit from being chilled.  Tomorrow the fruit is coming from the fridge and not the fruit bowl.

Something to look forward to – today is the start of Kids Clothes Week so this weeks goal is to get some holiday clothes made for the kids.  Only four week until we’re in France so I need to get cracking! V Excited.

Very little sewing going on here.

I have done very little sewing lately and what I have done, I have unpicked.  Do seam rippers get blunt?!?!  The dress I started is enormous and hangs like a tent.  I made the size according to my measurements but it seems way too big; that is all unpicked ready to be re-cut to a smaller size.  Thank goodness it isn’t a complicated pattern.  I still haven’t started Maddy’s shorts that I cut out a good couple of weeks ago.  I have a bad habit of putting things off that I imagine are going to be difficult – there is a fly zipper in them!

In my defence the house is absolutely upside down at the moment, we are having two floor cavities filled in which means that we currently have three rooms concentrated into one.  The kitchen is an island too, as both rooms which are being ‘done’ lead into it.  I have never appreciated the benefit of trays and fold down tables before.  With the dining room table in the shed and the kitchen only accessible across rubble they have become indispensable.

IMG_1166This is the living room being taken apart, before the electrics have been stripped out by the electrician.

IMG_1189Neil putting his barrow away after a very busy weekend: a very productive weekend.  The old sunhouse was ripped off the back a couple of years ago, but the base was still there and being used as a patio.  This needed to be removed as it was breaching the dampcourse.  Not rocket science but somebody had obviously overlooked this before building another room onto the house.  There was a massive amount of stuff removed from there AND he pulled up the floorboards from the living room and dining room (with help from my dad and son Alex).  What an awesome trio they are.