Sunday, 22 December 2013

Cute Christmas Stockings

I made a few mini Christmas stockings for either gifts or decorations. I have to confess that these started a little gifts for friends but I couldn't part with them ; (

The main body is made from contrasting felt, machine stitched then hand-stitched with blanket stittch. The snowflake and holly decoration are felt with a variety of beads and buttons for added texture and interest.
The little reindeer motifs are from Paperchase (I bought them last year but they still do them - find them here) and I simply added these with a hidden stitch or two to finish them off. The loop is made with a length of felt secured with a large button.

I am looking forward to finding some small sewing related gifts from Santa inside these babies on the 25th December!

Have you made anything festive for Christmas this year?

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Music and DIY

I have had a jam-packed month or two with lots of things happening at home, work and getting the chance to squeeze lots other things in too - just not ANY sewing stuff!

Let's start with the Music

I went to see the US band called Warpaint at the O2 Brixton Academy on 30th November. They were great; the only downside was my friend Mel needed to get the 11.05pm train out of London so we left the gig at 10.30pm only to find the underground had ground to a halt due to an incident... Soooo we grabbed a cab but there was a diversion on the way to Kings Cross. Mel missed her train. We could have stayed for the whole set after all!! Annoying...

Warpaint image from
Check out their music here:

The second musical foray was after a crazy few days at work during an Ofsted inspection. Chance tickets for The Killers was on the cards - It was meant to be! The Hammersmith Oppollo was an excellent venue - a great atmosphere and amazing showmanship from Mr. Brandon Flowers...

The mad crazy DIY

Its a case of a classic do-it-yourself attitude with house renovation... Let's just knock this built in wardrobe out and see how the room looks.... and then you can't get away from the fact you now have a huge gap in the wooden floor. 

Oh, and yes the ceiling dips slightly in the middle - well we had better get that down to re-board and plaster. Two weeks of dust, rubble, swearing and bags and bags of plaster later and we have a nice freshly plastered room. My boyfriends dad and I did the manual labour a friend of the family did the plastering. Looking forward to painting it over the Christmas holidays.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Pin-tuck Sorbetto

This is my third Colette Sorbetto top (first here and second here) and on this ocassion I decided to slightly deviate from the simple pleat at the front and add pin-tucks to the centre. I franken-patterned the Colette Sorbetto with the pin-tuck section of Tilly's Mathilde blouse.

I added a section of pin-tucking from Tilly's Mathilde blouse onto the centre fold of the Sorbetto
I wanted to make the top in a white cotton polka dot so I could wear it for work with a range of skirts and trousers. Here are the results.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Vintage Fair in Hammersmith

I met my friend Nat at Hammersmith Town Hall at 10am for the P&A Vintage Fair (They are held in London every month in a different venue).

Getting there early(ish for a Sunday) paid off - it was quite quiet!
Nat was looking for 1940's - 1950's stuff and I was on the hunt for 1960's sewing patterns (and any cool stuff really).

We both got lucky - Nat got a gorgeous 1950's hand-made Mexican circle skirt. It is yellow with hand-painted black texture and a hand-painted black and bronze border!
I found a stall with loads of old sewing patterns. After a good systematic rummage through them all I settled for these three babies. And they were only £4 each too!

Vogue 6510, Simplicity 6392 and Butterick 3814

Which one would you like to make?
Which one do you think I should sew first?

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Goldhawk Road fabric finds

Despite living in London for nearly three years, yesterday was the first time I have visited the material-mecca that is Goldhawk Road and Shepherd's Bush Market.
The Material-Mecca Goldhawk Road!
An early morning start with my friend Kris was the perfect way to enjoy the sunshine as we wandered down the market and scouted the best stalls for notions, threads and buttons. Starting at one side of the road we proceeded to experience a crazy world of fabric for every occasion; as you can see from the photos it was pretty quiet and we had the time to browse at our own leisure.

I tried to be restrained and gave explicit instructions to my friend to curb my enthusiasm for mad retro prints, wild colour-ways and unsuitable fabric weights. I came prepared with patterns for my two makes that are next in line (Grainline Archer and Colette Laurel) so I knew what amount and type of materials I *needed* (I mean wanted....).

Ooops a bit too sunny in Shepherd's Bush!
The first hit of the day was from Fabric House Ltd where I discovered not one but two gorgeous prints for £4.50 a metre. I asked for a metre and a half of each print but due to some printing faults near the selvedge he gave me TWO and a half metres of each for the price of a metre and a half!! The first is an abstract print that reminds me of blurred street and car lights on a dark rainy November evening.

Abstract print £4.50 p/m Fabric House
The second is (unusually for me) a dark floral print that is a semi see-through chiffon-style weight. This reminded me of the A/W2103 Givenchy collection I had seen in Marie Claire the day before!

Dark Floral £4.50 p/m Fabric House Ltd
Givenchy A/W 2013
I thought the Colette Laurel would look awesome in the abstract print and make a second Grainline Scout Woven Tee with the floral fabric with silky black bias-binding.  
What do you think - Will these prints work with the selected garment patterns?

The final fabric of the day was a cotton black and white gingham for my Grainline Archer button-up shirt (a homage / copy-cat of Andrea's at Four Square Walls) which I bought for £2 a metre from Orya Textiles.
Black and White Gingham £2 p/m Orya Textiles
I am excited to get stuck into these makes but I know I have loads of work deadlines to hit over the next few weeks. I will need to heed Lauren from Lladybird's advice and find the time to squeeze little sewing tasks into my working week.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Black spotty Scout Woven Tee

This is the first Grainline garment I have made (the Archer button-up shirt is next in line) and the construction was made really easy with simple instructions and a visual guide via Jen's blog at Grainline.

I have seen loads of cool versions of the Scout Woven Tee on various blog pages and my favourite versions have to be:

1. Dark grey spot version at Stitch and Witter
2. Black and white geometric print version at When all you need is..
3. Colourful geometric print version at Sown Brooklyn

Back to the Tee. I cut it out yesterday to save me the boring job of assembling the PDF paper pattern and cutting out the fabric so I could go full-belt on sewing duties today. It took me about two and a half hours to construct the Tee because I got a bit confused with the neckline and had to refer to some online tutorials to guide me through. I don't think I did it correctly but it looks OK in the end.
I added my own bias binding to the sleeves to match the neckline.

The size of the bias binding doesn't quite match at the neck
and sleeves so I should call it a 'wearable muslim', right?!
Alterations I made straight on the paper pattern were:

  1. I cut the smallest size at the shoulders, graded to the next size up for the bust area and the next size up again for the hips (as an experiment) It seemed to work. I have quite narrow shoulders and it fits beautifully around the neckline and shoulders.
  2. I also created the classic Hi-Lo hemline. Next time I will need to lengthen the body to sit a bit lower. At the moment it hangs just a bit too high for my liking.

The hemline isn't wonky a big gust of wind blew it as I was taking the shot.
Although I have seen many images of the Scout Tee I suppose I didn't realise how loose fitting it would be and the back of the Tee has a lot of loose fabric that doesn't hang as nicely as I would like. Maybe it will drape better after a wash... who knows?!

I have tried wearing it with a belt and it looks quite nice, but I think the whole point of this Tee is that its supposed to be a loose fitting easy to wear top. Next time I may try to bring it in at the side seams towards the bottom of the Tee (maybe I didn't need to grade to the larger size for the hips considering the fit is so wide anyway?).

Any suggestions about how to adjust the fit so its not soooo loose fitting at the back?

Friday, 30 August 2013

How do you store your PDf patterns?

Over the past few months I have built up a very small collection of sewing patterns, some of which I have used and some are on the long list of creative things to do.

Paper Patterns:
Simplcity 2154 - Red pencil skirt completed August 2013
New Look K6123 dress - To do list
Colette Ginger skirt - Cerise bias skirt completed August 2013
Colette Laurel dress- Fabric cut for the top and ready to sew
Sewaholic Crescent skirt - To do list
Traditional sewing patterns are easy to store and file because they have an envelope with an image on the front for easy identification, whereas PDF patterns can be easily mixed up or sections lost / mixed with other PDF patterns.
Today I organised my PDF patterns into these lovely double pocket plastic files (from Paperchase 3 for 2 right now!) that have a section for the instructions and for the assembled paper pattern.
A very satisfying, quick and low budget job; and look how pretty they look in their coloured files!

PDF Patterns:
Colette Laurel dress variations booklet
Colette Sorbetto top - Version one completed July 2013, version two August 2013 and fabric cut for version three....
Tilly's Mathilde blouse - Completed July 2013
Grainline Archer shirt - Paper pattern assembled, just need to select a fabric....
Grainline Scout Woven Tee - Fabric cut out and ready to sew.....

How do you store your PDF patterns once they have been assembled?

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Summery Sorbetto

I dug out my old faithful Bernina today because I fancied whipping up something simple and speedy. I decided on the Colette Sorbetto (free pattern) and focused on improving the fit and length of the top from the previous version (black and white stripy Sorbetto).
First thing I had to do was adjust the pattern by adding 3cm just below the armhole and above the bust darts to not only lengthen the top but to lower the darts too. On a previous attempt I tried to lower the darts using an online tutorial but it really didn't work so I went with a simpler option.
I then also added 3cm in roughly the same place at the back so the notches would still line up (which they surprisingly did!). I also altered the hemline by curving and dropping it by about 6cm at the back so it is a comfier fit (and will tuck into skirts and trousers better too).

I chose a beautiful cotton voile (Wish by Valori Wells Designs) that I purchased at Guthrie and Ghani a month ago. The fabric has a complex paisley-like design with 16 colours in the repeat pattern!
Here is the finished Sorbetto with purple bias-biding on the neck and armholes. I chose not to apply bias-binding to the hemline because it is quite stiff (I'm hoping it will soften in the wash) and wanted the hem to be more pliable for tucking into skirts and trousers. For a neater finish on the inside I used French seams for the side and shoulder seams. Overall I am quite happy with my new summery top - I just hope we continue to have this lovely weather so I can enjoy wearing it now rather than having to wait until next year!

Friday, 23 August 2013

Patrick Caulfield at Tate Britain

I managed to sneak a whistle stop view of the Patrick Caulfield exhibition before it closes on the 1st September. I have always loved his work and it was great to see so many of his large paintings in one place together.

Monday, 19 August 2013

UFO busting - Simplicity 2154 Pencil skirt

Another UFO (un-finished object) that has lurked alien-like in the wardrobe since July is the Simplicity 2154 pencil skirt. I attended a two-part workshop at Saturday Sewing Sessions in Chelsea which was great fun. There was only one other attendee who was also called Caroline who made her pencil skirt in royal blue fabric.

Back to the skirt.... well the evening sessions happened to be on two of the hottest days of the summer and the workshop was held in a cute little textile studio space with windows that could only open a tiny bit so we literally were in a sweatshop!!

During the cutting out stage I drafted from a smaller size at the waist to the next size up on the hips to fit my measurements more accurately. Despite this I still needed to take quite a big chunk off each side seam (which included re-doing the zip three times!!!). Note to self - always baste stitch in the zip just in case......

At the end of the workshop I 'only needed to.....' hand stitch the waist-band, hand stitch the hem and finish off the side-seam where the zip was located.  Now after the re-sewing of the zip three times I had fallen a little bit out of love with this skirt and was beginning to think I would never finish it but I read Lladybird's blog about 'How do you find the time to sew so much?' which made me re-evaluate some of my spare bits of time. Hence the blitzing of the UFO's X-Files stylee!!

Almost finished pencil skirt
Delightful colours and styling on the Simplicity cover ; )
I applied bias-binding to the exposed seams around the zip area because the zig-zag stitch wasn't sufficiently keeping the fabric from fraying
The finished pencil skirt!

UFO busting - Colette Ginger skirt

The first UFO (un-finished object) I have busted today is the cerise Ginger Colette skirt that I almost finished as part of a two-part sewing workshop at Ray Stitch in Islington back in June!  I would have got it finished during the workshop time if I hadn't tried to be clever and pimp the pattern to include pockets and extend the length of the pattern by about 4 cms.
The (ex) pockets in the side seam of the Colette Ginger skirt

I also decided to line the skirt, which again added to the construction time.... Enough excuses back to the finishing of the skirt. Well, after trying the skirt on with the addition of the side-seam pockets I realised that it badly affected the fall of the skirt and gave me extra 'hips'!!
Sooooo, after all that additional work I decided to sew up the regular side seams and cut out the pockets. I ironed a rolled hem on the skirt and lining and quickly sewed them up and here is the finished article!
Finished Colette Ginger skirt with lining!

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Liebster Award

Emma Jayne from Clipped Curves kindly nominated me for the Liebster Award which is for bloggers with less than 100 followers.

Thank you Emma Jayne! In the expected format I will answers the following questions:

1. If you had to describe your style by comparing it to a fictional character, who would that be and why?

In my head I think I am channelling a bit of Carrie from Sex and the City meets Dana Scully from the X-Files. Carrie for the fun, exuberant aspects of my wardrobe against the no-nonsense work ethic and practicalities of Scully's shirts and trouser approach to the 'office'.

2. Do you have any other hobbies / obsessions as well as those you blog about?

I am interested in keeping fit and I captain a team of 60+ indoor rowers on my other blog: Caroline's Rowing Blog. The team is called Empty the Tanks and I set up the team in 2009 to guide and encourage people keeping fit and participating in Indoor Rowing events around the world.  I have entered a number of competitions over the years and I have achieved the following results:

  • 6th place at the World Indoor Rowing Championships in Boston, USA in Feb 2011
  • Silver at the English Indoor Rowing Championships, Jan 2013
  • Bronze at the English Indoor Rowing Championships, Jan 2012
  • Gold at the English Indoor Rowing Championships, Jan 2011
  • Silver at the British Indoor Rowing Championships, Nov 2009
As well as keeping fit by indoor rowing I enjoy cycling, drawing, painting, etching, printing, DIY and cooking.

3. What is your favourite thing you’ve made / posted about and why? Remember to show us!
I love my Clothkits Trellick Tower skirt because I love the print so much although it has been the least challenging garment to make from my blogged clothes so far!

 4. And the least favourite?
It has to be my crazy Top-Shop re-make dress that is out of this world orange and psychedelic!

5. If you could only make 3 more things and then you had to quit sewing forever, what would you make and why?
1) I would make the Grainline Archer shirt - because I haven't managed to successfully sew a collar or shirt placket yet. It looks like an uber-cool pattern.
2) The next thing I would sew would be the Laurel by Colette Patterns. It has so many variations though and I haven't yet decided which one to go for!
3) The last thing would be a sewing challenge of a fully lined jacket. I haven't yet found a pattern that I would like to try yet - any suggestions?

6. Where do you find inspiration?
I do love a good fashion magazine and will treat myself to at least one a month to get inspired, drool over lovely colours, finishes and ideas. I also check out other sewing blogs, fabric shops, vintage and charity shops. I also get inspired by the general public; there are loads of cool and stylish people pottering around London to 'borrow' ideas from!

7. How do you feel about the whole lining vs facing vs binding debate (I may be imagining that it’s a debate)?
So far in my limited clothes-making repertoire I have sewn things that are relatively straight forward but I do love a French Seam and bias-binding to finish a seam.

8. What is your least favourite part of sewing (and do you do it anyway or cut corners)?
I am not keen on cutting out the paper pattern or assembling the printed out PDF patterns so I like to do this all in one go. I purchased the Colette Laurel last week and have cut out all pattern pieces whilst chatting to my friend : )

9. How do you like your surroundings when you sew? i.e. Do you clean up as you go, listen to music, face the window, watch telly? Basically describe your sewing situation.
I haven't got a designated sewing area at home so I have to drag out my very heavy Bernina downstairs to the dining table. This slight inconvenience  means I am always determined to get all the sewing machine aspects of a project done at one time. I think this is why so many of my UFO's are all incomplete at the hand-sewing stage. 
I like to listen to the radio or some of my Spotify compilations;  I am totally feeling the Yeah, Yeah Yeahs right now and have major style-lust for Karen O!

Karen O, lead singer of Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs
10. If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?
I would love to meet Andy Warhol, hang out at the Pop Factory in New York and have a chat about his eccentric style and approach to art. Following that I would also be intrigued to meet husband and wife design team Robin and Lucienne Day - I so love their work!
Lucienne Day textile design circa 1950's
11. Do you prefer to make things for yourself or others
Around Christmas time I make quite a few little stockings, decorations, corsages and bags for gifts for family and friends. I only make clothes for myself but enjoy sewing whatever / whoever it is for!
Christmas Stocking decorations made from felt, hand embroidered with beads and blanket stitch