Archive | November, 2012

Christmas Drawstring Present Sack*

30 Nov


**Insert rude pun here**

I love a good rude pun. I’ve resisted the urge though as I don’t want you to think I’m peddling filth in my blog haha.

Or worse attract the wrong sort of readers from bad Google searches!

(If you want to gossip about any good ones via twitter please get in touch. I have a couple to share already.)

Today I dug out the Christmas present drawstring sack I made for Mr AR last year to size it up for 2012 presents.

I made it before I started blogging. And had way too much fun messing around with felt and glue.

It’s basically a huge pieces of red felt, folded in half, stitched up the sides.

The drawstring casing was made by folding down the top edge and stitching in place and my string is a white shoelace which I knotted at the end to stop it slipping out.

The Santa took a little longer but only because I was obsessing over the placement. I didn’t really use an official template, just drew up some of my own to guide me, you can probably tell right! But I’m pretty happy with it.

It’s a little less than A3 size so can handle quite a few small gifts and only took me an evening to make!

I definitely recommend whipping one up for someone instead of wrapping paper or if like me you want to fill it with smaller wrapped items.

Hope you’re getting in the festive spirit where you are!

The Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate

24 Nov

Well you can all guess where I’ve been today!


Thanks to a facebook competition from Fabrications I won a free ticket to the Knitting and Stitching Show. It was recently in London and Dublin and now in lovely Harrogate for the weekend.

For those who don’t know the show covers knitting and stitching but way way more; felt-making, toy-making, shibori dyeing, jewellery-making, card-making, and mixed media. The HIC who are hosting said they expected around 10,000 people each day!!

I took the day off work as I thought it would be better to go on a weekday; foolishly thinking it should be less busy than a weekend day. Yeesh, if it was “quiet” then I dread to think how busy tomorrow or Sunday will be.

But it was fantastic to see so many people there eager to check out the stalls and exhibits.

Sadly I didn’t get to spot any sewing celebrities like Karen did but I got to see lots of beautiful embroidery, knitting and quilting displays. Most had *NO PHOTOGRAPHY* signs on which was a shame but I got a couple of photos from displays that didn’t.



I also managed to curb my spending as I am technically on financial lockdown while we save for the new house.

I let myself get 1m of this gorgeous slate grey rayon with birdcage print. It feels so soft and delicious.

I also got this cute vintage blouse pattern with neckline variation and an air disappearing fabric marker.


I should TOTALLY have bought this kid’s pattern and am now kicking myself over it. Who cares that I don’t have any children to make this for. Heck I could frame this bad boy to hang in my living room it’s that cool!



I also chatted for a while with the lovely ladies promoting the Yorkshire School of Sewing. Gillian Hargreaves is a former City and Guilds teacher and she has opened up a sewing centre in Roundhay. I got a booklet about her courses and am interested in some of the pattern drafting courses available, the Chanel jacket class and the LBD session with couture techniques.

Again because of financial lockdown, I’ve entered a prize draw for a course of my choice and have put gift vouchers on my xmas list. If neither of those work out I’ll look into treating myself. I don’t think there’s much of a website yet but you can contact Gillian for details.

I saw plenty of cool exhibits. The Quilters Olympics Quilt (see the Synchronised Stitching block above), a man who embroidered whimsical maps of local areas, knitted armour, The Unfinishable project which was a tent made of incomplete garments (I could have contributed a lot to this one) and last but definitely not least a knitted town.

The town was awesome and therefore popular. I got two quick shots of the fire house and a church wedding. There was a farm complete with knitted vegetable patches and farmyard animals, a school, houses, cars, etc.




I definitely recommend going to the show. There are some additional displays on Sunday and I’m sure the stalls won’t have sold out of much before then. It takes much longer to go around the 6 halls than you think so leave yourself plenty of time.

And let me know if you enjoyed it!

Truffle Progress

21 Nov

After the death of my plaid top I wanted to bounce back into action and work on my Colette Truffle dress.

Super exciting as it’ll be my Xmas party dress yaaay!!

I’m using a gorgeous black and white polka dot satin I got at the Birmingham meet up.

The dots are so cute and large and the satin feels great.

After 3 muslins I got the darts in the right place and think the sizing is “spot on” for the bodice.

So I’ve cut it out:

And with some kick ass purple lining:

But all my skirt muslins were atrocious. I can’t make the hip curve fit, or the darts work or match up with the bodice darts!!!

Bah humbug*

(*hey we’re almost at Christmas).

So I’ve been debating leaving the Truffle unconquered for now. Well at least the bottom half.

If I add another style of skirt on the bottom I don’t think I can call it a Truffle can I?

I’m thinking possibly a TNT gathered skirt as I have them on most my dresses. Probably from my V8723 as it’s a good length.

Or something new and exciting like a half circle skirt. Though my maths skills are a little rusty.

Neeno used this tutorial for some of her half circle skirts.

Hmmm if I’m going to change the skirt up and lose that wonderful talking-point flounce, maybe I should add some other feature?

There’s even a tutorial  from the Selfish Seamstress to help me on my way.

Though I’d have to re-cut the back bodice and move the zip to the size. Oh my gosh this is getting complicated.

Any other suggestions to jazz up the dress without crazily redesigning everything?

Maybe just lowering the back into a nice v would be enough excitement.

Eeeeep!! I’m so excited to get this dress together but know I need to make some decisions.

I’ve got until Dec 7th to sew it up but not a lot of free time before then.

Best do some long hard thinking about this!!

Careless cutting – NL 6808 take 2

19 Nov


Oh yes I was smug. I had “conquered” New Look 6808.

I was dancing around the living room in my finished top and thought hell yeah I’m gonna make another!!

I decided to up the fun factor. Thick blue plaid with 3/4 sleeves so it’d be super warm and snuggly!

I whizzed through it. And I lined up my plaid pretty well I thought… bust darts excluded obviously. More delicious smugness.


I was even deliberating adding an exposed metal zipper for extra cool factor. Oh yes I’m that cool ladies…

Then it came to the sleeves:
Attempt 1 – went mental and forgot the direction of my plaid. Ended up with them in a blatantly different direction to the rest of top.

Attempt 2 – correct plaid direction.  Waaaay too much ease.

Attempt 3 – used tips from Casey and Green Apples on reducing ease from sleeves. Reduced too much and couldn’t lift arms/get top off again/thought it wanted me dead.

Attempt 4 – cap sleeves a la version 1. Tried to remove less ease than previous attempt. Still removed too much. Again the top tried to choke me to death but with less vigour this time.

Attempt 5- oh wait I’m out of plaid!! So I resigned myself to having a sleeveless top. Rather than buy more just to mess around with sleeves.

So I started snipping the frayed edges down to apply bias tape (of course they were frayed after all this sewing and unpicking) and had some kind of deranged spasm!

I snipped right into the top! Right in there, nice and big and unrepairable. Oh and did I mention I’m out of plaid!?


Pffftt…. crapzola.

So my top just earned itself a nice place in the bin. At least now I can move on to something else.

Hello Polka Dot Truffle party dress! I’ve left you alone for too long.

Xmas present suggestions – help!

15 Nov

I’ve been asked for my Xmas wish list so “Santa” knows what too get me.

Now before anyone argues it should be a surprise and I’m ruining the spirit of present giving, we’re talking about a list of suggestions of which I’ll only get one or two which will of course keep an element of mystery involved.

And please don’t think I’m unaware that I am a very lucky lady to get gifts at all. I am always grateful for anything I get from the lovely people in my life. Regardless of price! It really is the thought that counts and I always try to put time, effort and humour into my presents for others too.

I also believe anything hobby specific that people wouldn’t be able to just wing buying are fine to set out details for.

So that’s what I’d like help with… the sewing related items.
Patternmaking for a Perfect Fit: Using the Rub-off Technique to Re-create and Redesign Your Favorite Fashions by Steffani Lincecum (Paperback, 2010).

Recently promoted by Sunni, this could solve some of my woes about hanging onto old dresses that just fit sooo well. I like the idea of this but not sure if the instructions will be clear enough for me.

Anyone able to offer a review?

Fabric for Fashion: The Swatch Book by Clive Hallett and Amanda Johnston (Spiral Bound 2010)
This book contains swatches of lots of fabric so you can learn how to recognise them better.

I’m always struggling with this as pictures dont really help and most of the time the fabric I buy it’s unlabeled. Bit of overkill given the price but guess if someone wants to treat me to something I can’t bring myself to buy, that would be nice right?

Any other suggestions?
I have the Sew U Home Stretch book, Famous Frocks and the Colette Handbook. I wasn’t keen on the Burda Sewing Handbook. I also have the Cath Kidston craft books!

I’m definitely not good enough to tackle Gertie’s book yet. And Sew Iconic been getting horrible reviews.

Am I missing out on any good sewing biographies? I loved Edith Head’s Hollywood. If I was into tailoring I think Bespoke: Savile Row Ripped and Smoothed would be good. If I was a spoilt brat I’d ask for The Little Black Jacket but I think that’s a bit costly for a coffee table book no matter how awesome it looks.
I’m tempted by a rotary cutter and mat to stop my slippy and knit fabric going all over when I cut them. I love my fiskars scissors so my first instinct is their rotary cutter. Is that a good assumption? And then what about size of blade and mat?
I have heard you should try holding the cutters to pick the best handle for you but all the cutters I’ve seen were shrink wrapped.

I would love a knicker making kit. I was so jealous when lovely ladies from the sewing community met up in Bath for their class.

The sublime stitching patterns make me want to take up embroidery again.

Gone are the days of sweet little flowers. There are so many cool designs out there!

And I would love some project runway boxsets on DVD so I can watch again. Gosh I love Tim

And now my brain is running dry! Other suggestions are welcome!

New Look 6808 – FINALLY!

10 Nov

Yaaaaaaaaay I’ve finally finished a new look 6808 top after buying the pattern nearly a year ago.

Why so long you might ask? Well it took me this long to fit it properly.

I made four attempts. FOUR! Yeesh.

I worked out I’m a 8 around the neck, a 10 at the arm holes and bust, a 12 at the waist and a 14 at the hips.

Now I have the perfect fit though. I even added a centre back seam to help the fit.

I used a purply-black poly micro-fibre fabric that I’d used as lining for my fake cambie.

And some pink poly scraps I had for the collar and the sleeve lining.

I’ve never encountered a pattern with lined sleeves before.

Little odd but love the effect I was able to create here.

I drafted the collar myself. I used the neck facings to work out the general size of the collar I needed and a french curve on the front collar pieces. I wish I’d curved them slightly closer together.

There’s a small gap at the front that I don’t mind too much but wish I’d spotted earlier.

I put the collar together using instructions in my Reader’s Digest Sewing Guide.

It’s really well illustrated and has little tips for each different type of collar you want to create / attach.

I didn’t want my collar to have a centre back seam so I had to make sure the collar fit perfectly given my odd extra bit of construction.

The hem isn’t wonky at the back, that’s just where the top slipped on the hanger.

In other news I also got a gift in the post! The pattern I won from Dotty Doodle.

And look how cutely she wrapped it up for me.

NL6808 Review:


It’s a super wearable straightforward to sew top that can be made dressy or casual as required.

There are good variations to create the perfect top you need with long sleeves, collar variations.

And it’s like a blank canvas for embellishment!

Nuff said right?


For me it was determining the sizing. I am a freaky body type though. Crazily small shoulders and neckline, small bust, bigger waist, even bigger hips. And it took me a while to grade the pattern correctly. What made it more difficult for me is that all the sizes aren’t on a single pattern pieces. They cover only a few, e.g. 8, 10, 12 with another for 14, 16, 18. Great for anyone who wants to grade between those sizes. Not so great for me.

Oh well.

Would I make it again? And what would I do differently?

YES!! Hell yes I’m making this again. Now I’ve mastered the fit I’m going to be all over this pattern. I’m going to make one with buttons down the back. Another with the long sleeves. Another in view c with the side collar/bow. Another with a pleated panel on the front. Another…. oh I’ll shut up because you get the jist!

Birmingham Blogger Meet Up!

4 Nov

So much has been going on recently that I want to share.

Firstly the lovely Lizzy from Sew Busy Lizzy nominated me for a liebster award.

Here are the Liebster Blog Award Rules

1.  Add the award icon to your blog! Done

2. Link to your nominator to say “thank you” . Thank you Lizzy! You are such good fun to chat with on twitter and of course I love reading your blog too!

3. Nominate 5 blogger with less than 200 followers. It’s very tricky to tell which blogs have less than 200 followers. Or find blogs that haven’t already been nominated! I’ve made a good attempt at finding some new people to list that fit these two criteria.

My nominations:

frk.bustad –

Ida –

Helen –

Mancunian Vintage –

Becky –

All lovely people who I am fairly certain meet my two criteria detailed above.

Take a look and maybe follow them!

This week I won a vintage Vogue pattern from Dotty Doodle.

All thanks to her twelve in twelve pattern giveaway!

We’re calling it the Vogue ballerina dress.

It’s like Anna Karenina meets 80s Opera Gown right?!

I also recently finished a polka dot tea dress and a casual blue and black top and I’ll blog about both once I have some photos to include.

And thanks to Mr AR’s creative thinking I got a new cutting table.

Luckily it can be dis-assembled and hidden away when needed.

So I instantly had to think of something to try it out… And promptly started revamping my sofa cushions by making more exciting covers for them.

Finally I need to share about what a lovely time I had in Birmingham on Saturday!

Marie has already posted a round up so I’ll just add a little more here.

Marie and Kat were so lovely to host our meet up.

There were 16 of us out for the day.

I don’t think they expected so many ladies to turn up but they did so well making us feel welcome with name badges and chocs.

Bet it felt like they were herding cats as we all darted around the stalls at Birmingham’s famous rag market.

There were so many lovely ladies to chat to, all with differing levels of experience in sewing, knitting and blogging!

I leaned a lot from them.

After a lovely lunch we engaged in a swap and I was very lucky in leaving with three new patterns.

The main thing I learned about swaps is bring more stuff! I really underestimated what everyone would bring and I shouldn’t have been so precious about my stash.

Got to be tough with yourself if you want to make a good swap!

I went a bit crazy with my fabric shopping but stayed within my maximum budget for the day.

From left to right, top then bottom:

2m confetti print georgette £2.50 / m
2m red polka dot poly / crepe-de-chine wannabe £2.50 / m
3m black and white satin large polka dot £2 / m
2m black and white tiny polka dot rayon £2 / m
3m of black and white small polka dot satin £2 / m
2m of black and white diagonal crosshatch georgette £2.50 / m

Here we all are!

Truly was a wicked time!

Roisin – Dolly Clackett
Alice – Moonbeam
Helen – Sew Stylish
Helen – Helen Made
Rachel – House of Pinheiro
Catherine – Catherine’s Daze Blog
Amy – Almond Rock
Suzy – Suzy Sewing
Mellie – Mellie’s Workroom
Karen – Did You Make That?
Winnie – Scruffy Badger Time
Kat – Krafty Kat