Saturday, 19 December 2015

Christmas Make

A work in progress! My eczema has been playing up this weekend which is making it difficukt to bend or straighten my fingers so I'm feeling too antsy and grumpy to finish it off. Not much left, must push through to get it ready by Christmas day.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Mojo slump

I haven't updated in a while, 'cos I simply haven't made anything since the last post!

After finishing the crepe dress, I needed a break and as Craig proposed in August, threw myself into wedding planning instead! The majority of the 'big decisions' are made and most are booked. I've a few secret pinterest boards that are holding ideas until much closer to the time, which will be September 2016. I've already chosen and bought my dress! Realistically, I'm unlikely to be able to sew a more complicated dress with construction so decided to buy one instead. I am going to sew my evening dress though!

I haven't been on nights since September either, which always provided me with more off duty time in order to create. I'm hoping to sit down and get my patterns and fabric stashes organised this week. Hopefully it'll trigger the Mojo again! I read a little while ago on her blog that Lladybird has a box with precut fabric and patterns, so she always has something ready to sew at hand. I quite like this idea as I hate cutting out, but I'm quite indecisive so not sure I can commit too far in advance by cutting fabric ahead of time! She also uses a swatch system to organise upcoming patterns and ideas, which I will definitely try to start doing! 

Thursday, 17 September 2015

New Bike

Craig has been asking me if I'd like to cycle with him for about 3 years now. I have very unstable ankles which culminated in my physio advising me to completely stop running as I'm just damaging myself. Since then, Craig has been dropping hints about how cycling helped his knees and improved the alignment of his legs (which is something I also need to work on, cos my knee caps point inwards when my legs are facing straight ahead)!

So this came home with us on Monday, on my drive home via Halfords and a nice meal with Craig. And with his help, I turned that mismash of cardboard and metal into...


The bike is the men's version as I'm too tall for the ladies sizes (5ft7). The ladies came in a nice light grey with the yellow, so I thought I'd just have to make my version pretty too. I bought these 'Spokins' from TopShop as a laugh for Craig's birthday 3 years and he point blank refused to use them. So they are mine, and are finally now in use! 

I'm planning on using the bike purely on a turbo trainer for a while, which is why there isn't any decor on the back wheel. On a trainer, only the back moves and Craig was concerned the spokins might move and be too noisy on the back wheel... I'm gonna move them there gradually when he isn't looking and prove him wrong!

Monday, 31 August 2015

French crepe Anna dress

This dress was a true labour of love, to borrow from House of Pinheiro's IG theme.

I took my time cutting out the fabric as it was pretty stretchy and liked to move around. I initially tried carbon paper and gave up, going straight to my rotary cutters. I had printed out the pdf pattern so I wasn't feeling precious about cutting the pattern pieces. I cut an 8 on the shoulders and bust, grading to 10 for waist and hips.

I got stuck in with my standard sewing foot and straight stitch settings and the bodice came together really quickly. I used Prym wonder tape on the sleeves which made hemming them much simpler and neater. I'm hoping washing will disolve the tape and reduce the sleeve flicks. I also finished the seam allowances with a 3 step zigzag stitch.

The problem came when I started sewing the skirt. I sewed the entire thing, plus the seam allowances then realised the stitches were badly puckering the fabric, giving an overall tulip shape as each seam curved inwards as it travelled near the hem.

I ended up unpicking the entire thing, then reseting the seams over & over until I eventually had a skirt than fell straight down rather than curving in. For that I used a walking foot, reduced my stitch length and used a narrow one step zig zag stitch with top thread tension of 3, a slowly rewound bobbin with reduced tension and a pressure foot set to 2 instead of 6!

The 22 inch zip went in okay first time, I basted it into the dress first as it was moving around despite being full of pins. I sewed the centre back seam an inch above the bottom of the zip which looked much neater & I don't need the full zip length anyway.

I have a semi-intentional high-low seam as the panels moved during cutting plus the bodice likes to slip backwards on my shoulders so the back hem is lower. It's a bit annoying but I'm done with this dress now! I hemmed neatly using my 1/4 inch foot however the insides are a mess as my pinking shears couldn't cope with the stretch of the fabric and barely cut it. Most of my seam allowances in the skirt are unfinished as zigzag makes it pucker. 

So in summary,  a badly made but lovely dress!

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Meet Nigel!

We adopted a new kitty last week, called Nigel. 

He's very looooong! He's about a year old, based on his teeth. He's a rescue cat with an uncertain history. He should be fully grown in a year or so, he's going to be a big cat!

He loves a good cuddle, he's such a nice cat. Always purring, always happy to see you.

He was rescued with a horrific inner ear infection due to a bad ear mite infestation. It left him with a head tilt and balance problems, so for the first few days he walked like he was drunk and kept rolling around.

He's doing really well now though, we've been playing with him using Da Bird (BEST cat toy ever!) and he's improved so much he can jump and catch the bait in his mouth. For a cat that used to lose his balance while walking around on the flat, this is amazing!

In some sewing related updates:

I never actually blogged about a grey jersey Aurora top I made for the Edinburgh trip. I thought I'd post a recent instagram photo I took as part of the #sewphotohop challenge run by Rachel, House of Pinheiro. I've not used knit fabrics before, but this was great fun. Quick to make up and the viscose jersey so soft and lovely to wear.

I've also started my first Anna dress! This is the bodice. It's a poly french crepe which drapes beautifully but is horrific to work with. I really should learn to use easier fabrics!! The gored skirt panels have bias cut edges and I knackered the tension so they all curve inwards and made a tulip shaped skirt. I hate it. My seams didn't match up perfectly with the bodice side seams and pleats either - and I only realised once I was ready to put the 22 inch zip in! I'm unpicking the skirt, plus all the seam finishings as I used a 3step zigzag to allow it to stretch with the fabric but it caused it to pucker also. Anyone got any tips for working with crepe?

Nigel's watching you!

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Sewing indie month bundle sale

Today is the last day that you can buy the mega-discounted bundle of patterns from Sew Independent for Sewing Indie Month!

Sewing Indie Month

I bought mine today and splurged on the complete bundle - due to the exchange rate being kind to the British pound, it cost just under £31 including tax. Bargain!!

Thursday, 6 August 2015


I went on holiday with my family to North Wales last week. Dad decided we had to climb this mountain called Tryfan...


View overlooking the valley, from very near the summit. 

See these rocks? The last bit up is a scramble over seemingly endless boulders. The two stones that mark the summit can be seen in the background.

Me, sitting next to the stones. They're named Adam & Eve because they look like people from the bottom of the valley.

Why was there a seagull on the top of the mountain?!

Monday, 27 July 2015

All work and no play...

...means another week without much sewing!

I have been squeezing in some sock knitting in instead, on work breaks and occasionally in the evenings. Despite what the Government seems to think about healthcare workers not working outside of 9-5pm, I worked a mixture of 9-5pm and 12.30-8pm shifts Mon-Fri last week, then launched straight into a run of 3 night shifts of 7.30pm-8am on Saturday. Thankfully my hospital puts us as off duty once we've worked our allocated contracted hours for the week. Tonight's my last 12.5 hour shift and then I'm off until next Monday.

It's been such a long time since I've done any knitting, Chrome has completely forgotten that if I type R I mean for it to go straight to Ravelry! The last two projects I worked on have regressed from WIPs to 'forgotten in a bag somewhere'. I have a hat that was intended as a Christmas present, and a lace shawl that co-ordinated with the outfit I wore to my cousin's wedding over a year ago. One of the Domestics at work no longer calls me 'Woolly' as a nickname, she's changed it to 'Tink' instead - presumably cos I'm always tinkering away at some project, even if it's not wool related!

I dug out a ball of now discontinued Regia World Circus Colour in 3752, a blue self-patterning yarn that alternates between light & dark blue, with some green & navy thrown in for good measure. According to Ravelry I stashed it back in April 2011 so it's about time it was used! It's quite pretty, and a mindless knit. Think this is the 8th pair of socks I've made now, and the 6th one using Silver's Sock Class. Highly recommended pattern if anyone fancies knitting socks - it'll hold your hand all the way and the photo tutorials are brilliant for beginners. I still use it cos I know it will just work!

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Quilt HSTs

According to

HST's are 2 6/8 finished size. (2 & 3/4 inches)

Add 6/8 + 7/8 = 13/8 = 1 5/8. Plus 2 inches so 3 5/8.

Times 2: 6 10/8 = 7 2/8 inch large squares to make 8 HSTs at a time.

Posting this here to help me remember! So used to metric, I keep messing up inches.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Solid plan of action

Right, plan of action for the crepe du chine & viscose is sorted!

My plan is to make view 3 of Colette's Aster blouse, then buy more and make Tilly's new Bettine summer dress. The next few weeks will be brilliant!

Join the aster Sewalong!

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Not the most exciting week

I haven't been doing that much creatively since returning from Edinburgh, I've been working lots instead.

I have treated myself to a new 45mm rotary cutter though, mine was a cheap & cheaply made 20mm one that I bought off eBay last year. I had used it a fair amount and the blade was still fairly sharp but the plastic it lived in was falling apart. Sometimes it clunked as it rolled and cut unevenly, so by pressing harder to avoid that it cut into the plastic guard and the blade would get pushed into the cutter so it was barely clearing the plastic to cut anything. It used to loosen itself over time too. It was my first one so these may be common issues, but I have waved goodbye to it as I couldn't find any replacement blades for it either! 

I also picked up some quilting rulers, a 4.5 inch triangle and a 6 inch square. I spent a few hours cutting out squares ready to be sewn & cut into 8 half square triangles but otherwise haven't touched my sewing stash all week!

Three metres of floral crepe and three metres of black & cream clover viscose arrived too. Any hints on how to best use them? The viscose isn't sheer if I lay it over my arm but while drying I noticed I could see the window fairly easily through it!

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Long Weekend Away Diary

Not long arrived back home from a lovely long weekend in Edinburgh. I've never been before but it's an absolutely stunning city. I'm not an architect or particularly interested in architecture but the buildings and the location is gorgeous.

I woke up very early on Friday morning, hated my 4.30am alarm after going to bed gone midnight! (Had to wait up for some friends to arrive, they were stopping over pre-stag do in a nearby city.) I was a bit anxious as I was flying on my own for the first time. Craig & our friend James spent 10 days cycling from Lands End to John O'Groats and we'd made plans to meet in Edinburgh and stay there for a few days over the weekend. Unfortunately it took them 8 hours to get to Edinburgh and they arrived at 9pm, but I went for the cheapest flight and arrived at 8am! I'm not that great at being my own company in public places. I'm more than happy to stay in & read, but I can feel uncomfortable travelling on my own for such a long time with no one to talk to!

Thankfully the flight went really smoothly, I caught the bus into town and guesstimated when to get off. I'd heard that Edinburgh was made up of two distinct areas, New Town and Old Town. I walked through New Town without realising that's where I was! It was about 9am so I made a beeline for the first Costa I found and woke myself up with a coffee. They really do mean large when you order a large! It came in a bloody soup bowl!! It took me an hour to finish it, but tbh I had meant to spend the day slowly so I didn't mind.

I then wandered around New Town for a while, I tracked it on Sports Tracker and I did a nice loop around some of the streets! I should have taken a rucksack really, dragging a cabin suitcase behind me wasn't always the easiest with the slopes & people milling around. I walked pretty aimlessly then found a shopping centre and walked through that, then gradually made my way to Old Town. It's a really odd feeling to be looking down off a bridge and find that there's no water underneath you as expected, but a massive train station instead! I went and had an early lunch in Pret then lost an hour in there too. I was sat there during the minute silence for the Tunisian massacre last week which was a poignant moment.

After that I bought a ticket for the green open top bus tours and made myself comfy. I was so tired I ended up just sitting there and went round 2.5 times! The guide changed after the first so it was interesting to hear the different stories they were saying, plus I definitely remember a lot of the info now. I caught the sun really badly though, it was a gorgeous day and I just didn't twig that I might burn as I was being kept cool by the bus movement.

I could pick up the keys to the flat at 3pm so I lost another hour walking out of town and after a stressful fight with all 3 door locks that stood in my way, FINALLY got to stop, chill out and promptly fell asleep! The flat was gorgeous, really nicely decorated, lovely and bright and cosy. Craig & I took lots of photos as we've been saving snippets from different hotels or homes we've been to for inspiration for when we hope to move next year. The guys finally arrived at 9.45pm and we crashed out with a takeaway pizza.

Had a lovely lie in, the sofas were really comfy and the three of us were pretty tired. Having cycled 1,000 miles the guys had far more justified reasons for being tired than me though!! We wandered into Old Town and I got to play at being their tour guide thanks to the 2.5 hours spent on the tour bus. We had lunch at Mum's which was really nice. I had two pork & leek sausages with cheese & onion mash, plus caramelised onion gravy - lush! After that we walked around and ended up calling into Mary's Milk Bar for some excellent ice cream. After a couple of pints in random pubs we went to Camera Obscura which was great fun and a brilliant recommendation from several friends!

Despite lots of photo opportunities I completely failed to take any of my new top! I hurriedly sewed the Aurora tank top from my subscription to the Seamwork magazine on Thursday. I wanted to have something to surprise Craig with, plus I'm starting to feel that I need to fill my days off with sewing or else I don't have anything to show for them! I guess I'll have to post about it another time, but I'll just say that it's probably the best fit I've achieved so far - and the first ever knit project I've sewn! WOoohooo!

After another drink we started walking back to the flat. Despite being advertised as close to the city centre it was a full 45 minute walk and I didn't feel that confident navigating the bus routes. Maybe next time? It was good to walk off some of the food though, except that we found a random chinese hot pot restaurant and ended up going in for some lovely food. Then we headed home and watched some bad movies on the TV.

Sunday was an awesome day because we didn't do anything and it felt great! We raided the local corner shop and Craig made a fantastic, although incredibly garlic heavy spaghetti bolognese. He makes a great version, but this one had an entire bulb of garlic in it plus another bulb of garlic in the homemade garlic bread. Bloody hell, I think I finally felt like my taste buds had reset on Monday evening despite lots of tooth brushing! Probably kinder to the general population that we didn't leave the house on Sunday!

After a nice breakfast James went to meet up with some friends so Craig and I walked back into town to the New Town part. We had a nice afternoon wandering around the streets (I got to be a tour guide again), had a couple of pints in different places and had a really nice meal in a random pub. I opted for balmoral chicken which was chicken breast topped with a large slice of haggis, served with veg and a whiskey cream sauce. Craig had a double decker burger where the second 'burger' was an equally large slice of haggis!

I then dragged him to a bar I'd seen recommended on Buzzfeed & Trip Advisor - Panda & Sons. It's a themed cocktail bar, made up as a 1920s speakeasy and it's awesome! I won't spoil the surprise on where it is or how to get in, because Craig definitely had more fun and confusion being completely in the dark about the place! Craig had an Emperor's New Clothes and a Rum Dappler which were both really nice, especially the rum dappler which is simply rum and a blitzed whole apple and really refreshing. I went for a cocktail which isn't on the current online menu but was really nice and contained rum, sherry and agave syrup, plus a Trolley Trampage which was served with the spirits in a tin can & the fruity mixer in a small bottle served in a mini trolley!

Today has been spent getting up at 4.45am, stressing over buses and flying home. I think the 3 of us had a really good time in Edinburgh and we've been talking about renting the flat again for another long weekend in April or so, as we definitely have a lot more sightseeing to do! I'd love to see the castle, the 1617 house, have something to eat in the Elephant House and visit the museum next time!