Category Archives: Sewing

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 🙂


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.

Free at last

On Tuesday I took my end of module exam, so I now have about twenty hours a week that I didn’t have last week.  It felt like it went ok, so hopefully when I get my result in August I’ll be happy.  Open University is great for flexibility, but I somestimes struggle motivating myself. I am looking forward to the time off between now and October and I no longer need these, yay.

IMG_1149I decided to cut out the fabric for Maddy’s shorts that I had traced a little while ago; I also decided to make myself a dress, a very simple dress to get me going, but nevertheless something for me to wear.  Both of these are now cut out ready to start tomorrow.


There was just enough fabric here for Maddy’s shorts, I only needed to use some scrap fabric for the pocket lining.

IMG_1154I’m not convinced about this fabric, but thought I would use it for the first sewing project for me for a long time.  I bought it a couple of years ago from a sewing event at the Birmingham NEC and have never got round to using it.  I also bought some lovely paisley fabric at the same time, but daren’t cut into that until I have made something else first.  This pattern should be ok as there’s very little to fit.  I have extended it by 4cm because the length looks too short for me to wear without leggings, but apart from that it is the same.  I’m looking forward to making it tomorrow, but I don’t think I’ll be wearing it without leggings for a while yet as the weather is not great.

In the meantime I used an old shirt of Neil’s that was going in the charity bag and some more fabric that I’ve had for ages to make Maddy some pj’s.  I bought the fabric as it was in the reduced bin, but I’ve never found anything it could suitably be used for before.  It is perfect for pyjamas and she has gone to bed in them tonight so obviously a success.


Another throw/blanket

There is less than a week until my end of year exam so I am concentrating on revision rather than sewing or knitting.  I have started a jumper for my nephew which will grow quicker than my cardigan, hopefully keeping me motivated with my slooow knitting. It’s less antisocial than sewing as knitting needles are more portable than a sewing machine, but I have managed to use some more of my stash.  When we chose the fabric for the curtains from Ikea we both loved this fabric but I had no idea what I was going to do with it.  I decided to make a blanket for the front room but didn’t expect to be using it for some time yet as the summer had apparently arrived.  Summer has now been and gone so Neil has nestled underneath it with his book whilst I traced a pattern for shorts which Maddy will hopefully wear when we go to France, if not at home.  Where has the sun gone?Pretty birdsIf I can manage just an hour a day sewing or tracing/cutting it will stop me getting too anxious about the exam and add to the kids’ summer wardrobe.  My confidence is growing so not too long before I face the challenge of sewing for myself …maybe.

Summer Dress

As this year’s challenge was to work my way through my fabric stash, obviously I went out and bought more.  To be fair, I went to buy a zip to turn the left over linen from Dom’s trousers into shorts for Maddy and this fabric looked so summery that she needed it.  I’d made some leggings, (Riviera from Sewing Clothes Kids Love) with leftover navy jersey from Dom’s t-shirt, which I thought would go well with the dress until it got warmer (fingers crossed we get a summer this year).  I am trying to use all the recenty bought fabric up so it doesn’t disappear in the chest with the stash. The dress I had in mind was 142 from Burda magazine 04/2011 and it was relatively easy to put together.IMG_1092

The first challenge was the pleats in the front of the dress, the instructions didn’t appear to make any sense until I actually had a go and realised that the second fold overlapped the first; I should have just gone ahead earlier rather than looking at it frowning!  The second challenge was the invisible zip, but again that wasn’t difficult, just the idea of it was a bit daunting.  The final challenge was the hem – how could I remember how to set a sleeve but stumble on a hem?  When I added a seam allowance I continued along the line of the pattern, which obviously made that circumference larger than the inside of the dress to which it was to be sewn.  I frowned a bit more, and contemplated, and decided to add a ribbon to the edge and then sew that to the inside – that did the trick!  Next time I will taper the seem allowance in, or I may just add ribbon again as it is quite cute.

The dress is lovely and I have met the challenges. However, I think next time I will make the smaller size and lengthen the pattern, as I did with her trousers, because it is a bit too big on her.  For the trousers I made an age 6 and added an inch to the top and a couple to the bottom.  I assumed for a dress the size wouldn’t be such a problem as it wasn’t fitted around her waist.  I made the age 7, because that is closer to her height than the age 8, but I’m not sure whether it’s because of all of the fabric in the pleats or whether the dress is too big but it’s super spacious.  I think it might benefit from a reduction in length so I may remove about 3 inches but then it might not be suitable without leggings.  It’s probably not much of problem as there are very few occasions that we can persuade her into a dress!Be a tent!