Monday, 14 December 2015

Art Teacher Dress

When I was doing A level Art I had an art teacher who cultivated the eccentric art teacher image. She wafted around wearing a dark blue loose fitting art overall, strings of beads and a loose wispy bun. I don't remember her ever actually teaching me anything.  Instead I was just left to paint innumerable still lifes.  She would just hand over some money and send me to buy aubergines for my still life, always pronouncing it in a cod french accent.  Once I arrived at art college it became rapidly apparent that I had been taught nothing at A level, except how to stretch out a trip to the greengrocer's shop into an excellent skiving opportunity. 

Any how, this latest make is a dress, called the Art Teacher Dress.  It is from Autumn/Winter Ottobre 2014.  I had completely overlooked this pattern until recently.  A number of little seeds planted in my mind, I have a love of sack dresses and the ease with which they make an everyday outfit.  I recently read this post on anti-fit fashion on  I saw some lovely sack style dresses on the Toast website.   I have been pinning sack dresses.  Then I was in a shop with a friend and saw similar sack dresses. They were selling for over £50 so I had a little think to myself, went home and had a skim through my Ottobre collection to see what I could find.

 The dress is deliberately oversized.  It has bust darts,and small back neck darts and a back zip. It was a very quick and simple make, giving a satisfied glow.  I was able to trace the pattern on a friday night, and cut the fabric. I was finishing the sewing on sunday night. The dress has front in seam pockets which I love.  They are cut as part of the front top and bottom pieces.  I used some dotted denim from ebay to make this dress.  From the way it washes and irons I would say this is denim/ poly mix.

I love the ease of wearing this dress. Just pull it on and go.  No thinking.  I love no thinking,  I know it is shapeless but right now shapeless is how I feel.  I made it quite short to compensate for the shapelessness.
I actually have made another version but will have to share that another day. How do other people feel about sack dresses and shapelessness?

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Four things

1.  I am having camera problems. Firstly I thought my camera battery had expired,I put in my charger but nothing happened. So I bought two replacement batteries. Now they too have died and I am starting to think it may be the charger. So I sorted the kitchen drawers and found a collection of old chargers and cables. I spent a happy half hour trying cable and plug combinations. No power still. Now what?  I started googling chargers for a canon camera. Pictured are two of the reasons why my camera battery runs low.  If Rocket Girl spies the camera she is off taking snaps. My camera is added to the ever expanding list of Things I Must Hide.  This includes the obvious such as sewing scissors, but also any make up, jewellery, torches, money,decent pens....

 2.  Rocket Girl has discovered woodwork at nursery.  She made this.  It is "a spinner". I don't know what that means either. Today she has gone in planning to build a woodwork model of her best friend who happens to be a dog.  I foresee tears.

I finished sewing my 1980s wrap dress a couple of weeks ago. Obviously I am unable to show you proper pictures but here are a couple of peeks I took before the camera battery debacle.  I like it.  I am hoping it will look relaxed, minimalist chic and not too much like a cleaning overall.
It is reversible!  And it has big sidepockets.  These two things alone make me happy.  

4.  With the denim scraps I started sewing little jeans for dolls. I feel like the Shoemaker's wife.  I am hoping to make some more clothes to be wrapped up for Christmas.  I am hoping to enable Barbie to  step away from her princess/hooker dress habits. The observant will see these dolls' clothes are made from a Simplicity pattern.  My neighbour gave them to me as she had duplicate copies.  Seriously,who knew that these tiny patterns existed?  I didn't.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Woolly things

I haven't picked up any knitting or crochet for a year at least.  If asked what woolly projects I have, I would have said none.  But then this afternoon I found three bags in the dark recess of the understairs cupboard.  I was looking for children's knitting needles as I feel an urge to try and teach Little I to knit again.  She has been learning to sew with some good results.  I need to brainwash her into crafting even more while she is still receptive.  I feel a little guilty about these abandoned and forgotten projects,

While looking for the needles, I found this little space invaders scarf that I started knitting when I was expecting RG four years ago,  Looking at it took me back to sitting in waiting rooms for maternity checks. How I hated those waiting rooms.   I don't have enough yarn to knit much more of it. I am not sure whether to unravel it. The intended recipient (my son) would now consider a homeknitted scarf as social death (along with being seen in public with me, wearing a coat and having a push button mobile).
Then I found this almost complete striped mohair and angora (I think) scarf.  Cast on as a present for a friend maybe five years ago.  It is definitely Rowan.  I don't like handling this type of yarn so the scarf has languished.  I really am determined to finish it now and get it wrapped up for Christmas.

In the third bag I found this crochet zigzag, it looks blanket size.  I had no memory of starting this. In fact I had forgotten that I even knew how to do crochet zigzag.  I am slowly having a vague recollection of crocheting this.  I only have three balls of wool though. Surely not enough for a blanket?  What colours would you add to make it big enough....I am not sure whether to stay with pinks and reds or add white, grey or even go rainbow bright?  

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Today - a mind dump post

Today I took Rocket Girl to a play group that I gave up on last year as I found it too much like hard work.  I stayed half an hour, lost my nerve and went home. I had a little cry, feeling as if I were back at school, thinking I don't know why I cannot fit in and make friends there.  I'm not sure why I find it so hard as I am fine at other groups. I don't really think it is full of evil  witches.  I think some groups just suit and some don't.  Better just to stick to the venues we like.  Maybe I am hormonal. We went home, sat in the garden, drank cocoa (RG) and coffee (me) and made cakes which is Rocket Girl's current obsession.  Feel much better now.

Today I am waiting for a new camera battery to arrive so I can start photographing again.  I have never had a camera battery give up the ghost before.  I would love to show you my two charity shop scores from last week, a Toast coat (hehe) and a big bright bright deep tangerine sweater.  Instead here are some images from when we went to a touring  luminarium in August.  It was fabulous, a mix of cathedrals in sci fi crossed with  contemplative spaces...if it comes to a town near you, I  would recommend a visit.  Even the reluctant twelve year old loved it and sighed "Why can't this always be here?"

Today I am gazing at my newly purchased 80's wrap dress  pattern and kicking my heels as I wait for my ebay fabric to arrive.  I had a great plan to sew this dress in a dark denim as a pinafore.  I have some spotty denim already here but I am not sure a spotty wrap pinafore is quite what I want, so I am restraining my impatient self.  If you do click the link, tell me, is this genius or idiocy to make this as a denim pinafore?

Today I am seriously thinking about my lack of a 21st century phone and all that that can offer. Yes, I still have an old push button phone. I can't access anything like Instagram on it.  I always refused to update until I have a job and an income but now even my twelve year old has a smart phone, (yes, I am paying for it).  I feel like a smart phone is the new normal and my dumbphone and me, well we are anachronisms.  It is slowly dawning on me that maybe it wouldn't cost a lot more than my old phone...AND I could take photos without my camera and its missing battery.

Today I am contemplating dyeing a Dottie Angel dress that I have just finished. I started sewing it a few weeks ago and then decided I hated it, it would not suit me and I didn't want to go down that route. It was the front shaping by tucks not darts that I didn't like.  I almost binned it and then a few days later I decided to try again and I enjoyed stitching it up.  But I didn't follow the instructions after the pocket construction, I just stitched it.  I made it from an old bed sheet of my mum's.  It is pink but I always intended to dye it grey.  I am just waiting for Rocket Girl to be at her nursery and then I can crack open the dye packet.  Fabric dye and my three year old do not mix, I think.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Style 3950 dress - channeling the seventies

I am very late posting about this dress.  I finished sewing it in July but then the summer holidays took hold and I couldn't find the time to get it photographed and written up.  Plus I have mixed feelings about the dress.  I like it on the hanger and I like how it feels on me.  But and this is a big BUT, I am not sure it actually looks that great on me.  

The pattern is Style 3590 from 1972 given to me by Philippa.

I used some ebay chambray - this is a mixed fabric I think, it has some stretch to it which I wasn't expecting.  I have a weakness for chambray fabrics I think they are so adaptable to sit with other colours and patterns. The pattern is really straightforward to sew up. It has a square yoke on the front and back and slightly puffed sleeves.  I added one inseam pocket just to hold my car key and emergency lego found objects, wax crayon, blu tack etc.

I used some vintage buttons that I found at a car boot for the dress.  These have sat in my button box for a couple of years and I was happy to have found a use for them.  They have a little diamond cutout in the centre.
There is something funny to me about a pattern that instructs you to buy a belt.  I have worn the dress belted and unbelted.  It is pretty full when unbelted but very comfortable on a hot day!  I am trying to think if I can make this dress wearable in autumn with layers and tights.  I am not sure.  I am also not 100% certain about a square neckline on me and all those gathers above the bust.  Not the most flattering look I think.  I just cannot quite make up my mind if this is a hit or miss.  I really wanted it to be so good that I may be trying to convince myself.  I hope I can drift around in it being a wholesome seventies mother, calm and hip drinking camomile tea while supervising child craft sessions.  Unfortunately it more likely I will be overcaffinated, stamping and shouting while cleaning green play dough off the ceiling and scraping cake dough off the floor. (Been reading too many seventies mum wanna be blogs again, must stop that)  It is my vintage pattern pledge make.  I am glad I made the effort to make it and to join in the vintage pattern pledge - I am a rubbish joiner-inner and have a vague notion It Would be Good For Me if I did more joining in.  Would it?  What are your thoughts on Joining In?  Is this a hit or miss dress?  Above bust gathers anyone?

Thursday, 20 August 2015


 Recently I sewed up a woven tee shirt using the
"Simple Modern Sewing" book and scraps of fabric.  The neckline is too big due to my hasty late night cutting.  But naturally I have a plan to rectify this.

Recently I also took my three children away on the train, to Glasgow.

So no sewing for a few days, just many parks, museums, eating out and a lot of walking.  I would like a medal for taking them on a 4 hour journey and staying in a hostel.  The big two were very good and Rocket Girl was, well, she was a three year old! As you can see in the picture below.  She is laughing here, not crying.

Interestingly, the older children loved Glasgow and say it has changed their ideas about living in a city.  So maybe next year I can be brave enough to take them to London?  I have been promising a trip there for a long time.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Holiday trousers- Cropped Portfolio Trousers

I made a stash busting pair of summer trousers.  I had been eyeballing printed trousers on other people for a while now.  Then while I was trying ineffectually to clear some of my fabric stash, I started pairing fabric pieces with potential patterns this piece of dark blue woodblock printed cotton from my mum's stash suggested itself to me as cropped trousers.

 There was only just enough fabric to cut the trousers out.  I used the Simplicity /Lisette 2245 Portfolio pattern which I used and hashed up here.  It is a simple trouser pattern, just front and back legs and then a front and back "yoke" and a side zip.  I left off the decorative tabs as I had such a small piece of fabric.  This time I was delighted that I cut a size 12 and they fit.  Last time I couldn't squeeze into them once I attached the waist yoke, took it off and added an elastic casing.  I hasten to add I was a tiny bit pregnant at that time. I still wear those trousers, even with the elastic waist, they are now my goto trousers for the messiest play days and playgroups.

There is not much to say about making these up.  I had cut the trousers out about a month ago and then rediscovered them at the bottom of the ironing pile.  I didn't have enough of the woodblocked fabric for the waistband so I used a plain dark blue cotton that also came from my mum's house.  I couldn't lay my hands on the pattern instructions so I just sewed them up. The trousers are just very straightforward, two back darts to add a bit of shape and a side zip.  I like the lack of bulk, the lack of roominess and the lack of pleats in this pattern.  I see potential in this pattern and I would like to make it again in a grey or black ever so slightly drapey fabric for a  more formal look.  I am starting to apply for jobs and need something neutral and smart if I ever ever ever get an interview!  Please any advice on what sort of fabric would be up to the job?

Back to this particular pair, they are great summer holiday trousers. Simple and comfortable, I look down and wonder if I am in pyjamas every now and then.  Isn't that what summer holiday clothes should feel like?  But, and there always seems to be a but, I don't seem to have many tops suitable to go with these trousers. So many of my tops are patterned.   In my mind I can see exactly what I need, but I can't translate that into reality. I would really like a white or cream squarish shape tee, probably woven fabric. Oh and maybe a red one too.  It dawns on me that a Portfolio top would go well with these trousers...though I have my eye on a couple of other pattern options.  But I am stumped for fabric choices again.  Help anyone?

Thursday, 23 July 2015

A tale of two tops

Back in May  when I bought fabric for my birthday I planned to make a pair of cotton tops.  I had been eyeballing the Painted Roses tee in summer 2014 Ottobre for a long while.  It is a simple woven tee shirt.  Oh, how I thought I was so clever, filling wardrobe gaps with simple tops.

First up I made the tee shirt in grey dotted liberty fabric.  This fabric was inspired by a painting in the National Gallery.  It is called Melanie Atai and it is lovely.
But, but, but I cut out a 38 and although it fits okay on the bust it is too big on my shoulders.  I also put the sleeves in very messily.  I am torn now, I like the shirt but also think it looks like a 1980s building society uniform.  (It's in the shoulders)  I am cross with myself for my sloppiness.  I wore it a lot after making it but only with a cardigan on top, hiding my sleeves of shame. Now I have bit the bullet and begun unpicking those sleeves. I am a naturally careless sewer and it can take a huge amount of effort to slow down and take more care in my sewing. I know I should, I know I can but sewing seems to pull out my slipshod, hasty self. In part this is down to having only small snatched moments to sew in, so I rush to cram in as much as possible.

The Riley Blake geeky fabric was narrower so I had no room for sleeves. I went down a size and I am happier withthe fit, especially round the neck and on the shoulders.  I cut the back slightly longer and curved the hem.  I have been wearing this top frequently, it filled a wardrobe gap, replacing worn out holey tops.
So, my two woven tops have not been the instant success I expected. I need a bit of sewing calm and patience to get the grey top right. Insert laughter here, those are not abundant qualities in summer holidays. Anyone else feel their personal qualities are reflected in  their
sewing approach?

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Work in progress

 As summer rushes on I am swept up in the current of parties, school and nursery events.  I have a back log of finished makes to show, but I am not going to show them now.  Instead this is what I am currently making.  I was inspired by reading about the
Vintage Pattern Pledge to finally make up a vintage pattern.  This 1972 Style 3590 pattern was given to me by Phillippa.   It was last year I think.   I like the square neck shape, the buttons and the yoke with gathers.  The pattern is labelled "Sandra" and I cannot help but wonder who Sandra was.  She had carefully cut out the pattern for the short sleeved tunic.
 I am making View A, the dress version.  I  hesitated for a long time over the puffed sleeves, not sure if anyone over the age of ten should wear puffed sleeves.  But then my upper arms are not what they used to be and I want some coverage some days.  So I am going to test the puffed sleeves by making and wearing them.  If people shout and point in the street, well then I will know the true power,horror and affront to scoiety of middle aged woman in puffed sleeves.  But most likely no one will even notice except me.
You can see I have gone wrong stitching the sleeve insertion and caught a bit of the yoke, creating an annoying tuck, so the next stage will involve my unpicker.  I am sewing it up in tiny stages when the littlest is at nursery or asleep, in between taxi driving the big two around.  I have a list of jobs as long as can be but I am steadfastly ignoring them to finish my dress for holidays.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

FO: Sailor Top Stash Bust

You can't get much better than a simple stripey tee.  Easy to wear with some many things, bright and simple.  I love my striped shirts but have been lacking a short sleeved version for summer. And  sometimes it is good to have a quick project with simple straight seams and a satisfyingly fast end product.

Lovely Jessica sent me a piece of striped jersey last year.  It has a nice weight to it.  I love striped fabric (told you that already haven't I?) and I was delighted to receive it.  I'd thought of many ways to sew it but couldn't decide.  But I am trying to sew up my stash and the fact that I had this nice jersey unused was really starting to bug me.

 Finally I settled on Marilla Walker 's Sailor top. I liked Marilla's versions, especially the dress version but wasn't sure.  Then I was finally swayed by Helen of grosgraingreen's version. 

The pattern is a free pdf.  It is square shaped with a clever diamond gusset in the shoulders. The basic square shape reminds me  of sewing simple tops for dolls! I mean that in a nice way.
  It was easy to put together. I cut and stitched it in one evening while everyone else watched a film.  Snip, snip, sew, sew.
  I just managed to squeeze front, back and sleeves from my jersey piece. I didn't have enough striped fabric for the gussets so I used left over red rib from this dress.  I love  the little bright peep of red.  I also used some red ribbon to stabilise the neck on the inside.  

The final top is great for our on off summer. It's on a constant wearwash rotation at the moment. And just this morning I saw Jenna's Sailor top!  Now I feel a bit of serendipityis  in the air.  

Photo opp stolen by RG  

Trying to show the gusset
So, if you want a simple quick sew tee and like a blocky simple shape, I recommend you try the Sailor tee.  It's great for using up a small piece of jersey.

Thursday, 18 June 2015


I haven't written a "recently.." post for ages but I have blogged so little lately that it seemed like a good way to catch up.  So,
Recently....there's been playing in the rain,
 Planning our summer holidays, reading US blogs always surprises me as they start summer holidays so much earlier.  Here we still have a month to go, but I have been quietly booking a few free or low cost workshops.

 There's been much fun in puddles...
Sort of recently, but actually a month ago, it was my birthday and I was given some money to spend.  I bought this sweet star necklace from Bybjor.  I love it and it arrived in lovely packaging. I also bought two pieces of fabric from Clothkits. A metre of each, spectacles and some pale grey dotty liberty fabric.  I have already stitched the liberty up and will share soon,  It's lying in a crumpled heap waiting to be ironed.  I was also given this cookbook.  The beetroot hummus was lovely but for my children it was A Step Too Far.  "When can we have some real hummus?"  I had to eat it all.  For three days.  
My favourite old friend sent me this bracelet.  
Recently, my sewing is mostly about this confection.  a mermaid outfit for Little I to wear in the local carnival in just over a week,  It is um...a work in progress...
What has everyone else been up to?  Anyone else sewing fancy costumes?  Or failing with hummus?  

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Me Made May - the end

Ottobre Autumn Mood tee, Tate skirt
So, Me Made May is at an end.  I wore me made every day but didn't photo every day. I have put in most of my photos here - anything not me made is second hand I think.  So, what did I learn?  Well, I do like the versatility and wearability of a denim staple...I wore my denim Portfolio dress four or five times, my Tate skirt four times, and my V1247 count. I like the denim pieces as I can add colourful and patterned tops without being too crazy lady. I also fell back into love with my V1247 bright green cord skirt.  In fact I am thinking making another V1247 skirt as I like it so much. I realise that my default photo pose is slightly hunched, hands in pockets, not sure what conclusions to draw there.
Vogue 1247 skirt in green cord

Ottobre Autumn Mood tee, Tate skirt

Sew Lisette portfolio dress, aka Simplicity 2245
I finished my Amazing Fit trousers as seen below but the fit isn't amazing YET and I have to unpick and take the waist in a bit.  I wore them twice but they aren't quite right yet.  I plan to blog fully about them soon.  May was so cold that I have a large amount of summery me mades that were not worn at all...sleeveless tops and shorts, summer skirts and dresses all remained in the wardrobe.
Simplicity 1696 Amazing Fit Trousers

Ottobre Summer '14 painted Roses Top 

Butterick top, Vogue 1247 skirt
Sew Lisette Traveller Dress, aka Simplicity 2246
Tova tunic blouse, Sew Liberated Skinny 

Me made apron, V1247 skirt

Sew Liberated skinny jeans, Painted Roses top from Ottobre (unblogged)

Just had to include this for the ghostly child image
I am glad I took part as it got me out of my jeans and top rut, and I enjoyed wearing my skirts and dresses.  I love my red jeans.  I love being able to say "I made it" if someone compliments an item of clothing.  So anyone else have fun with May?  Thank you to Zoe for organising it again.  This year I was slightly out of the community as I'm not on flickr or instagram but I think that was good for me as I would never have kept up with so many images and people!