Thursday 18 January 2018


Back in November 2015 Zoe from Sozowhatdoyouknow put a call out for pattern testers for her (then) newly drafted Anya bag pattern.  This is was my comment at the time -

i Zoe, I'd love to make a bag and promise to get my a*** into gear and blog about it (I've been a lax blogger recently). If fortunate enough to be chosen, I think I'd make it in a faded denim, incorporating a detail or two from recycled jeans. And if I'm not fortunate, well I'll buy the pattern and do it anyway!

28 November 2015 at 07:29
Well, I wasn't picked out of the draw to be a tester (shrewd move on Zoe's part, as it turned out!) but she did send me the pattern anyway as we'd met up at the V&A shortly before, and just because she's lovely.

I really enjoyed making it and I will definitely be making more more.  It's surprisingly capacious - I'm thinking of maybe using recycled embroidered table linen and using it as a travelling project bag for my sock knitting and embroidery.  I took it to my textile group on Tuesday and got lots of compliments - so not bad for what is essentially a 'freebie' bag!

If you want to make your own Anya bag , you can get the pattern HERE  Go on, you know you want to - and whatever happens - I doubt it will take you as long as it took me to get around to it!

Monday 1 January 2018

New Year

Happy New Year!

I know the whole "New Year - all change" scenario is a bit of a cliche - and we all make resolutions that I bet no-one keeps for more than five minutes.  The only one I had any real success with, was when I decided in 2015 that I wasn't go to buy any new clothes.  I thought I'd only manage for a month or two, but I actually stuck to it for the whole year.  In fact,  while I'm not saying that I haven't bought ANY clothes since, its a very rare occurrence; as a result my dressmaking skills have improved no end (I never said I wouldn't buy fabric) and I usually wear Me-Made most days.

Anyway, I down-graded from the whole 'resolution' thing a couple of years ago, and made 'intentions' instead, which were a bit more successful if less challenging.
When I read Isobel's post HERE, it seems that the current trend is to come up with an aspirational/inspirational word or three to guide you through the next 12 months..
So, that's what I'm going to settle for - one word to aspire to, or be inspired by for 2018.

So, what word to go for? One that instantly came to mind was 'potter', but realistically that wouldn't have required any lifestyle changes at all; then I considered 'declutter' - but  I've been there, done that, read the book and given the T shirt to the charity shop,  and, let's be honest - I probably need to aim a little higher than spending 2018, basically tidying up my sock drawer.

Anyway, I quickly decided on ....
(Absolutely pathetic Photoshop skills, I know)

I'm not sure how far that's going to take me - I think its unlikely that I'll be backpacking across Asia anytime soon but I AM going to explore more of Norfolk ("Oh, big deal" I hear you say) but there's lots of it that I've never visited, I've only been to Norwich a couple of times, so that's on the list.  I'm looking forward to the Makers Month when there are lots of arty textile-y things going on.
I've booked a long weekend break away on my own, and a few workshops which may involve my first foray into AIRBNB.  I'm going to try another walking group - I love the Holkham Walking Women group but we basically stick to two venues - Wells or Holkham, so I'm going to find another one that varies the location too.

Obviously, its not just about geographical exploration.  I've got so many art materials that I've not used and that I'm keen to try out.  I definitely want to do some dyeing, and I'm going to try printing with a gelliplate.

I'm also going to go to find somewhere locally that has live bands, and if I can't convince anyone to come with me, I'm going on my own.  I'm really excited about seeing Kasabian in the summer, but I want to be deafened by loud guitars before THEN!

I realise that none of that sounds ground breaking or exciting, but I HAVE only just thought about it and, after all, baby steps, yeah?

PS - I nearly forgot - I think I'm going to try Kayaking too - if it's possible that I can get in and out without falling in the water - what d'ya reckon???

New Year - The Breeders

Saturday 23 December 2017


Unlike some people who make life difficult for themselves by committing to write a post for everyday of December, I have barely managed one!  So, here it is.
Earlier this week I made a Christmas wreath ....
Not my typical style - all very natural and rustic - not a sparkly bauble or ribbon or glitter in sight, but I was very pleased with it. I didn't have anything on the door that I could hang it from though, and I don't have the kind of door which takes one of those purpose-built metal wreath-hanging things, so I went to the Pound shop and bought a plastic suction lever hook.  
That lasted for about a day, before a clattering at the front door revealed that one hook wasn't man enough for the job.
Not to be defeated, I hastened back the next day and bought another two hooks and lined them all up next to one another, in the hope that if one fell off there would still be two more.  A kind of 'belt and braces - and then another belt' idea.  Anyway, so far its stayed put.  
My other 'handmades' this month have all been made by other people - the first is Harold the Hare from Flint Cottage who were at Thornham Christmas craft fair.  He's made from recycled wood and painted lavender grey on one side and left natural on the other.  Check out their instagram page HERE for other designs

He's going to sit in my window, but I've photographed him in front of my tree - just to prove that I am fully entering into the spirit of the festivities. 
Then I helped out a friend at the Blackthorpe Barns Christmas Fair.  I didn't seem to do very much 'assisting', but I did quite a lot of 'acquiring'.
I bought this wonderful handknitted and natural dyed cotton jumper by Jacki of Island Knitwear 

How's this for coincidence - I first met Jackie at a garden show at Capel Manor, Enfield about 25 years ago when I was married and living in Woodford. I bought two jumpers from her then, a natural colour one which unfortunately I no longer have, and a denim blue one - now somewhat faded, but which I still love and wear. By chance, she happened to have the next table to my friend at Blackthorpe.  We swapped stories - I've divorced, she married, I moved to Hertford, she moved to Scotland, I moved to Norfolk, and she moved to Suffolk, and there we were - sitting next to one another at a craft fair.  Now, you don't get that if you shop at Primarni.

Then a beautiful and unique clock, made from recycled timber - an old fence post - and slate, made by a very talented man who makes them as a hobby (and doesn't have a website I'm afraid) 
I love this, it now stands in my hall on a secondhand sideboard I bought in Dersingham, amongst my Dad's turned wooden bowls, pots and apples.
And finally, a lovely stitched fabric picture from Sparetime that I bought at the Christmas Fair at Burnham Deepdale.
I haven't suddenly turned into a shopaholic - in fact, since I decided not to buy clothes and to make my own instead, I mostly avoid shopping - but it is lovely to have beautiful unique things that give me pleasure whenever I see them.  And I just totalled up what I spent - altogether my purchases add up to £160 - which equates to a quarter of a pair of the cheapest Jimmy Choos, or 134 packets of HobNobs, depending on how you measure your wealth.

I promise next time I'll return to 'handmade by me'

Have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Wreath - Opeth   (For the uninitiated - including me until about five minutes ago - 'OPETH' is apparently a progressive death metal band from Sweden.  Check out the track - you'll find its  a great antidote to all the jolly Christmas music on the airwaves at the mo!)

Monday 27 November 2017


Back to simple sewing again.  I made not one, but two Tilly and the Buttons Agneses (Agnii??) this weekend.  Not very much to say about them,  except that this is one of my favourite top patterns, its smooth and close fitting and is perfect for layering.  I had bought some beautiful flamingo fabric on Thursday, and I was going to cut that out on Saturday morning, but I suddenly realised that I hadn't washed it, and although it was tempting to cut it out without bothering, well, we know how that sometimes pans out, don't we?
So, as I'd got all organised and ready with my pattern, I had a hunt round to find what was washed - and I found some bunny fabric I'd bought sometime last year.  
Oh yes, very age appropriate, as usual.  I used my slightly adapted pattern - a size 5, graduated to a size 4 at the hips.  
I've mentioned before that I don't really go in at the waist, or indeed out at the hips.  When you look at those 'know your shape' guides, I'm not a pear, or an apple, or a triangle, or a rectangle.  I'm more a lumpy tube.  Or, if I must be a vegetable, maybe a cucumber, gradually transitioning towards a marrow.
Oh, and I lengthened the sleeves by a smidge too.  Anyway, it was all done very quickly, all made up on the overlocker, apart from the neckline and the hems, which I topstitched with a twin needle.

I had left my cutting board out on the dining room table, so that I was already to go  on Sunday morning with the washed and ironed flamingo fabric

I was up and dressed by 7am, and by the time I went out at 9.30 I had another Agnes.
Very satisfying.  and enough left of the bunny fabric to made a dress for Gracie, once I've taken a pattern from one of her dresses.  Much more age appropriate.

Agnes - Johnny Flynn

Saturday 4 November 2017

Girl With The Red Shirt

I'm ridiculously delighted with my latest make, and I suppose I could just show you pictures, and tell you how I made it, but that wouldn't be me, would it?
The idea started in February this year when I was watching The One Show.  Now, I don't often watch it, mostly because I'm usually listening to the Archers at that time, but occasionally, especially in the winter, I might catch the tail end of it.  
On this particular episode they were interviewing Danni Minogue, and I really loved her shirt.  You can see a little bit of it here
I haven't previously styled myself on Danni Minogue, nor indeed on either of the Minogue sisters.
(Well, apart from the tiny gold leather hotpants, but in fairness I hardly EVER wear those anymore.)
 I just kept thinking about that shirt though, and after trying to find a similar one online to no avail. I then searched for fabric, and found something very similar from Higgs & Higgs - here
I'm ashamed to say it then languished on my ever-increasing pile of fabric, while I cracked on with quicker makes.  But then I saw it again, and determined that it WAS going to become a shirt.

I looked through my pattern stash, but there was nothing that exactly matched what I had in mind, then somehow I came across Simplicity 1538, which seemed just the ticket.  I had a browse of the internet and saw some lovely versions, so that was the decision made.

I started on it last week and I made my mind up that I wasn't going to rush it (it's not like it was an 'emergency' garment project, but I wanted to make it slowly and carefully.  I have made shirts in the past, with varying degrees of success, but not for many years.
I wasn't sure whether to go for a 14 or a 16, but in the end I went for the larger size, as I detest gaping shirt buttons. I made no alterations at all to the pattern I have to say it fits just as I wanted.

Thanks to my niece Sarah for taking the photos yesterday.  I only wore it briefly for the photoshoot, as she had her two gorgeous girls Grace and Bethany with her and one or other of them always manages to smear me with some form of food detritus.  Even when they're not eating.

As I say, this wasn't a quick make - the shirt has a back yoke, a two-part collar, proper cuffs and front bands for both the button holes and the buttons. 
I only mention this because I saw some cotton shirts in an expensive ladies dress shop whilst I was mid project, and they only had a band on the side where the button holes were, but the button side was just folded over fabric.  AND they were more than five times what this cost me, which was just over 20 quid.
I used a soft iron on interfacting in the front band, collar stand and cuffs, and a slightly heavier weight in the collar, to make it crisp.  The cuffs are slightly on the wide side, but it means you can move your arms without feeling restricted, which is a good thing.  
Its always a bit nerve wracking making the button holes - the rest of the garment is finished and nigh on perfect, and it only needs ONE disastrous buttonhole .... but I had several practice goes on a scrap on interfaced fabric, and all went well.  That just left the vintage pearl buttons which I sewed on with red thread.  I won't put it in the wardrobe at the moment, I just want to look at it!

I will definitely be making more of these, and it lends itself to using contrast fabrics for some parts of the shirt.

Anyway, thanks for the inspirations Danni

Incidentally, other thing to come out of that episode of The One Show - I started watching Nashville from Season 1 (starring Sam Palladio - the guy with the guitar).  I'm on the last season now which I bought as a Box set and now I'm having to eke out the remaining episodes as I'm going to miss them when they're gone!

Right, must go - I'm off to try on the shirt with the gold leather hotpants....

Girl With The Red Shirt - The Pocket Gods

Wednesday 20 September 2017


Yesterday was the Textile coffee morning at Thornham, and surrounded by all those lovely textile-y ladies, I always feel duty bound to wear something I've made.  It was a bit chilly when I went out, so I wore my newly 'pimped' charity shop jacket.  
I bought the tweed jacket a couple of years ago from a charity shop in Pokesdown near Bournemouth when I was staying with my cousin Annie.  I was attracted to the colours - purples and maroons - it was 100 per cent  wool, fitted perfectly and I seem to remember it was six quid.  Even better - when I tried it on, the pockets were still sewn up and I don't think it had ever been worn.
Its been hanging up in my wardrobe, awaiting transformation ever since, so this weekend I finally decided to customize it.
I changed the two plastic buttons on the jacket for two beautiful vintage glass ones  (they cost more than the jacket!) - and then I added an assortment of others, some vintage, some new. In fact, the purple heart button was one I'd made in my pottery class. 

I added a bit of vintage lace to one of the pockets, and some velvet ribbon to the cuffs, and a few tweed patches.  
Now I think about it, this must have been planned for quite a while as I'd bought a pack of tweed offcuts from FabricAffair at one of the Knitting/Stitching shows ages ago.
I also added a beautiful tweed corsage made by my friend Sarah Burt from the Thornham textile group 
Anyway, I'm really pleased with how the jacket turned out it and it got a few nice comments, and when we went to the Deli next door for more cofee, I remembered to get some photos for the blog.
Underneath the jacket I wore my first Esme dress from the Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Style book
Ignore the pose - I was getting advice from the group on the most flattering way to stand for photos - but it just looks as if I've lost a leg.  I don't remember that happening to Mrs Beckham.  Anyway, here's the alternative pose, 
and a close up - excuse the creases, I'd been sitting down for a few hours.  The fabric is a lightweight chambray with little stars on.  
I love the pattern - really easy to follow, simple to make, and I'll be making more from this book.

Jacket - The Courteeners

Sunday 27 August 2017


I have just made a Named Clothing Paola Turtleneck Tee.  It takes almost as long to say that as it does to make it.

This all came about because I'd seen such a lovely version on a mystery blog, that not only did I put the pattern on my to-buy list, ( I got mine HERE) but I also immediately ordered the same fabric too. Now, given that this sewist blogger was such an inspiration, I'd love to credit her and say thank you. However, despite (literally) hours and hours trawling the internet, I have failed miserably.  So, if you recognise this as the exact same Paola that you made,  or you know who did,  please get in touch!

 Anyway, here it is -
The fabric is a grey quilted Ponte Roma, £12.50 a metre from Dragonfly fabrics - still currently available.
Checking my measurements against the pattern, it was a toss up between 42 and 44.  Taking into account the thickness of the fabric, I decided to go for the larger size.  I'm glad I did, it fits just as I wanted, but if I make it again in a finer jersey, I'll think about going down a size.  Also, if was an 'under-layer' that I intended to tuck in, I'd probably make it a bit longer too, but that's not the version I wanted this time.
It took no time to cut out - only four pattern pieces - Back, Front, Sleeve and Collar, and not much longer than that to sew up.  I made the whole thing on my overlocker, except the sleeve and bottom hems, which I stitched with a wide zigzag.
I have tried it on and I'm delighted with it, and it'll look great under my Cleo dresses, but it is FAR too hot today to bugger about trying to take photos of me wearing it, so here it is on Lola, in my (currently) tidy & organised sewing room.
As the weather seems to have perked up, it may be a while before I get to wear it, but now I have this padded snuggly top with its cosy neck, I should be able to delay putting the central heating on for even longer than usual this year.

Turtleneck - The National