Thursday, 27 February 2014

How to get other people to pay for your clothes

I did another bit of dressmaking last week, following on from the Valori Wells tunic I made a few weeks back.

This time, I bought some fabric on ebay from 'Favourite Fabrics'.  I have used them several times before and have always received my fabrics quickly, which luckily was the case once again this time.  I'd chosen this fabric...

...which now seems to have sold out, maybe as it was only £5.99 a metre.  I hadn't yet decided what pattern I was going to use, but ordered two metres knowing that would be about right.

In the end I chose to use a different pattern to last time - New Look 6010.

Picture courtesy of

I have quite a few blouses of this sort of style and find them comfortable and easy to wear, but recently have found it harder to track down ones I like in the shops, especially at anything like a sensible price.  So making some myself seemed like a good option.  I decided to make view D, but I intended customising the sleeves, which in this pattern have elasticated cuffs, where I wanted a button closure, like on the tunic I made previously.

I was surprised to find that once pinned the blouse out that I had LOADS of fabric left over.  The pattern was a fairly easy one to make, certainly a little more straightforward than the tunic one I used previously, which was this one... 

Picture courtesy of

I created a new sleeve pattern by combining the top part of the New Look sleeve with the bottom part of the Simplicity one.  

And here's the finished article!

I had this idea that with 'The Great British Sewing Bee' back on our TVs, I'd try to do one of task from each episode.  In the end though, I only managed the buttonloops from programme one!   I'm tempted to make Mr U-t-B some dashing striped and piped pyjamas from programme 2, but I think I'm already running too far behind!

I found some sweet little flower buttons in my local haberdashery...

And it fits...

So what about the left over fabric?

There was enough to make another of my oh-so-frequently-made Japanese smock tops...

Now if I just sell this little smock for £12, I make that a free blouse for me!

I have one more blouse pattern to try out and with pay day tomorrow I am considering these fabrics...

Palos Verde Abalone Cove

Palos Verde Miraleste

Palos Verde Lunada Bay

Thursday, 20 February 2014

A little bit of this and that...

The Happy Little Stitchery had its first stitchers on Saturday, and they seemed to have a happy time!

In the morning I got into the swing of things with a select group of two, one of whom I had met at The Maltings Market, along with her friend.  I taught them a bit of simple embroidery so that they could either take home an embroidered hoop picture or a needlecase.  

It was good see which stitches different stitchers found easier and which they found harder, especially as I was having a group of six in the afternoon, and it allowed me to slightly alter the order in which I taught the stitches.

I did, of course, forget to get my camera out until the very end of the day, when two of my afternoon stitchers had already left, but at least I did remember in the end!

And here's some of the work produced!  I have already had two of my friends pop by for a little help getting started on their next, independent projects - one to get a water-soluble line drawn on her fabric (the local shop had run out of pens) and one for a suggestion of what to do next!  

Next came a bit of bunny making.  The sleeves from a beautifully soft but somewhat shrunken cashmere jumper, four 'Sarah Moore Home' bunny outlines, a bit of sewing, snipping and stuffing (plus a wee bit of embroidery, but that doesn't fit my alliterative theme)...

Et voila!
Spring bunnies..

Next, I decided to have a go at designing my own simple patchwork block.  I wanted something fairly straightforward that would be good for teaching to those who want to learn to use a sewing machine.  I used some scrap-booking papers and fiddled around till I got what I wanted...

Then selected some scraps of (mostly) vintage fabric and stitched away...

A bit of further embellishment and this is what I had...

Although it was originally intended as a cushion cover, I found an empty frame, not quite the right size, but rather like this framed!  Another one for my somewhat over-burdened walls!

Today I had an exciting little package in the post.  My Mum had this book when I was a child and I used to try hard to learn stitches from it.  

The one I could NEVER make work was the French Knot.  Try as I might, it always disappeared!  And so it would still be, were it not for the wonders of stitch demonstrations on YouTube!  I think YouTube justifies its presence in the world simply on account of being the place where I finally found out how to  get these little devils to work!  

I am pleased to say that all my stitchers on Saturday mastered No. 21!

Last night, me, Miss U-t-B and her cousin (who is staying with us this half-term week)  went to see 'Cuban Fury'.  It was a great laugh and I came away with the salsa beat so firmly embedded in my head, feet and hips that I had to have a cocoa to calm down before bed!  If you like a bit of fun (and don't mind a bit of fruity language!) do go and see it!

Lastly, I just finished reading this...

A sweet book, I really enjoyed it!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Baby bootees grow large

You may remember these from last year...

Made as part of my challenge to see how many items I could make from one shrunken jumper, they are based on Heather Bailey's Bitty Booties, which you can find out all about here.

Well, one of the girls in the charity shop wondered if it would be possible to make some to fit her.  I'm always up for a challenge!

The perfect opportunity came when a whole heap of woollies came into the shop recently.  They were well worn - picture threadbare elbows and grubby cuffs - as well as unwashed, and therefore most definitely not suitable for the shops.  I couldn't bear to see them head into the rag bag (all 100% wool, mostly hand wash or dry-clean only) so some came home with me and found themselves given the indignity of a hot wash tied into a pillowcase with a tennis ball or two! 

I found a slipper pattern in a Tilda book I have and used the sole pattern as a guide, then scaled up the shape of the upper from Heather Bailey's pattern.  I decided that one layer of the felt I had created would not have been warm enough, nor indeed hard-wearing enough, so used two different jumper backs to cut linings and outers for the slippers.  

Some embroidery was required to jazz up the slippers. I was hoping the rain would give way to snow if I stitched enough snowflakes so off I went!

In the end, not one flake of the pretty fluffy stuff has fallen on us here in Hampshire, but I did finish the slippers...

The sole and the uppers were stitched by machine first (on triple stretch stitch) then finished with blanket stitch.

I hope the recipient will like them when I take them in for her on Wednesday!

Monday, 17 February 2014

Tracks of my Years - 1978

In the news:

A terrible storm ruins four piers - Herne Bay, Skegness, Hunstanton and Margate

Anna Ford becomes first female TV newsreader

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy broadcast on radio

Louise Brown, the first IVF baby, was born

Evita opened on the London stage

The Government announced that O levels and CSEs were to be replaced by a single exam

Bakers go on strike, leading to panic buying and rationing

Average house price £13,650
Gallon of petrol £0.79
Yearly inflation rate 8.3%
Bank of England Year End Interest Rate 12.50%

On TV:

Herbie the skateboarding duck


'Top Gear' goes nationwide, after beginning as a locally produced slot on Pebble Mill

'All Creatures Great and Small'

'Grange Hill'

At the cinema:

On the radio (oh dear -the list really is getting longer, with each one pique-ing my memory the way only music can...)

Summer Nights - John Travolta and Olivia Newton John

Wuthering Heights - Kate Bush

Denis - Blondie

Baker Street - Gerry Rafferty

Don't Fear the Reaper - Blue Oyster Cult

It's Raining - Darts

Dancin' in the Streets - Marshall Hain

Never Let Her Slip Away - Andrew Gold

If I Can't Have You - Yvonne Elliman

Mr Blue Sky - Electric Light Orchestra

YMCA - The Village People

My Best Friend's Girl - The Cars

Super Nature - Cerrone

Ca Plane Pour Moi - Plastic Bertrand

Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue - Crystal Gayle

Love is Like Oxygen - Sweet

The Man with the Child in his Eyes - Kate Bush

Is She Really Going Out With Him? - Joe Jackson

Teenage Kicks - The Undertones

Forever Autumn - Justin Hayward

It was just so hard to choose one favourite amongst the last three, but in the end it had to be this...

I don't have many photos from these years, and those I have were mostly taken with a little Insta-matic camera so the quality is pretty bad.  But this one proves that by 1978 I was making my own clothes.  Tiered skirts were all the rage, so I made myself one though I didn't have enough pocket money to make the broderie anglaise petticoat I so wanted to go underneath!

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Sanity Restored

It's amazing the difference twenty-four hours can make!

Almost everything is back in order in my sewing room, though Rudolph seems to have decided to jump from the wall and play Peek-a-Boo...

My wall of embroideries, cross-stitches and vintage fabric will get re-arranged better when I next re-paper the wall - up till now it has just been a case of bang-a-nail-in-the-wall-and-hope-it-looks-okay...

Far too many boxes to fit under the worktop.  One day I will manage to reduce what I have, but it's not likely to happen any time soon!

I still love this sampler I made when I was expecting Miss U-t-B.   Babies may not keep, but she's still mine, even at seventeen!

My scrapbooking paper  and washi tape topped chest of drawers is still looking cheery...

Lots of little bits of vintage sewing paraphernalia on top of my button-filled mini chest of drawers...

More hand-me-downs from Miss U-t-B - her changing table (made from an old, school, typewriter desk salvaged by Mr U-t-B about thirty years ago), her first dolls' house and a rag doll I made her...

And her little Russian Doll...

The blanket box, filled with fabric (I think you guessed), looks tidy...

And even the noticeboard has got an orderly look about it...

Shame the same can't be said for the burgeoning heap in the corner of the worktop...

And the pile behind the tea-trolley!