Slightly scary sewing!

Work on my Vogue 8548 coat has officially begun!

I'm making view C, with the narrower neck.  I love the look of the wider one, but I know it would drive me mad.

I started earlier in the week by tracing the pattern and cutting out my muslin.  By the time I decided I wanted to make this coat the pattern was out of print, and the copy I managed to track down was actually one size smaller than I really needed.  I've needed to grade up a little, but not much, so adding 3/16ths of an inch to each vertical side of each pattern piece seems to have worked out OK.

Here's my muslin on Rosie, as you can see with only one sleeve so far. 

The weird shadowy lines are from my lampshade!

I've made a few slight changes, but it actually fit me pretty well straight off.  The shoulders are too wide, they are going to need about 3/4 of an inch taking off.  The skirt portion was also a little snug on my hips, and also longer than is flattering on me.  I've solved this by taking 2 inches off the top of the skirt portion, which has meant that the hip area is a little wider, and the hem a little higher. 

I'm also adding pockets - a coat has got to have pockets!

I am debating whether to use bound buttonholes.  Having never made a bound buttonhole in my life I have consulted my Readers Digest Complete Guide to Sewing and have followed their instructions for the two piece piped method. 

This is the result:

What do you think?  Is it neat enough to use on my coat?  And more importantly am I brave enough to do it?

My alternative to bound buttonholes would be enormous press studs such as these.  I don't like the loops that are used on the pattern instructions.

I suppose I should really try and find some buttons I like before I make my final decision.

What would you suggest?  Bound buttonholes or press studs?   If I used buttonholes, what colour buttons would you get?

Walker and Valentino at Somerset House

Flicking through a magazine recently I saw a small piece about an exhibition at Somerset House featuring the photography of Tim Walker.   If you haven’t heard of him, Tim is the creator of fairytale, sometimes slightly sinister images such as these.



I was excited, I’ve long been a fan of his fashion photography, so I logged on to the Somerset House website to find out more.

The exhibition runs from now until 27th January 2013, and entry is free.  Excellent I though, definitely one to slot into the diary somewhere.

Then I decided to flick around the website and see what else is on.   Having been interested in fashion for as long as I can remember, my first click was on the “Fashion” link on the left hand side of the page. 

I then got even more excited to see that from the end of next month there is an exhibition entitled “Valentino: Master of Couture”!


Oooh, just the photo advertising it makes me want to go! 

I can definitely see a visit to Somerset House in my near future – maybe before Christmas so I can also take in the atmosphere of the ice rink.    
Anyone care to join me?




Shades of Grey

I used to love black. 

For years and years I couldn't get enough of black.  If I was buying clothes, I'd see something I liked and my immediate thought would be "I wonder if it comes in black?"

Maybe it's because I'm getting older, but my feelings towards black have definitely changed.  I don't hate it, but I have far fewer black items in my wardrobe than I used to have.  I think one pair of trousers, one skirt, a couple of basic t-shirts and one smarter top that I bought last week.  That's it! 

My neutral of choice is now grey, which I used to hate.  Grey reminded me of school uniforms - particularly when combined with red - which is what I wore for 4 years on a daily basis long, long ago.

But these days I LOVE grey, all shades from the palest pearly grey to the darkest charcoal.  I find it as versatile as black and far more flattering to my skin tone. 

With that in mind I currently have 2 grey projects on my knitting needles.

The first is Kim Hargreaves Wallace cardigan, from her Touching Elegance book. 


The book and yarn were a birthday present from hubby back at the beginning of September. I'm on the home straight with this, even though it doesn't really look like it from this pic.   The grey is darker than it appears here.

Please excuse Rosie rudely exposing her underwear!

I actually have the other front knitted too - just not sewn on yet.  One sleeve still to knit, then the making up, and knitting the collar, cuffs and pockets.  I think I'm only going to do the lower pockets.  I'm probably a bit too well endowed for breast pockets. We'll see about that nearer the time.

I'm also going to need to alter the sleeves a little.  The one I've knitted is almost exactly the right length for me at present.  However, there's still a cuff to be added, which will make it too long. I haven't decided how to resolve this yet, but I've got a couple of options in mind.

This is lovely, easy TV knitting.  In fact I did quite a bit during Strictly Come Dancing last night.  (How good were Denise and James?!)  The pattern is really well written, as are all Kim Hargreaves patterns. 

She has a new book out, called Enchanted.  I'm seriously tempted by it, as usual there are some gorgeous patterns included. 

My other grey project is completely different.  It's a large, lacy shawl/wrap in a very pale grey. 

The pattern is Pachelbel by Carol Sunday of Sunday Knits. 


As soon as I saw this on Ravelry a week or so ago I knew I had to knit it.  I'd been searching for a while for a lacy scarf/shawl pattern but hadn't found anything that floated my boat, then this popped up as a newly released pattern. 

The pattern gives instructions for 4 different sizes; a scarf, a stole, a shawl and a wrap.  The one shown in the pattern photos is the shawl.  I've cast on for the stole, but I'm now debating starting again for the shawl.  Although I do want this to be something that can be worn as a big scarf with a coat, so perhaps I've got the right size on the go.  It's looking as if it's going to be about 20 inches wide. 

There's not much to show on this so far, just a few inches.  It looks as if it's going to be pretty though. 

I'm using one of my favourite yarns - Colourmart's Shiny Cotton fingering weight, a blend of cotton, cashmere, angora and viscose.  It's extremely soft without being the slightest bit itchy.   

I saw a lovely grey felt cloche hat in Marks and Spencer yesterday, which I think would look gorgeous with this - and with my blue and grey coat when I make it!

Two Down, Four to go!

I recently posted about my winter wardrobe sewing plans, which consisted of 2 tops/blouses, 2 skirts and 2 dresses.  Oh, and a coat - I'd forgotten about that! 

Make that two down, 5 to go!

Last week I managed to sew the first item, a blouse based loosely on Colette Patterns Sorbetto. 

I say loosely because I made quite a few changes, as you will see.

Firstly I cut the body on the bias.  The first Sorbetto I made is quite boxy on me and while I do like it, it's not the most flattering garment I own.  I had experimented with a bias cut sleeveless Sorbetto earlier in the year (I wear it in bed) and the shape works much better for me with a bit of drape to it. 

Secondly, it has sleeves.  Not just any old sleeves, sleeves with gathered cuffs and buttons, and buttonholes!  (I don't like doing buttonholes!)

I used a sleeve pattern I downloaded ages ago, and basically lengthened so it was about 2 inches longer than I wanted the finished length to be.  I made some narrow cuffs and loosely pleated the sleeve fabric into them, finishing each with a buttonhole (which worked really well - maybe I should be less scared of buttonholes?) and a button from my button tin. 

I also added 3 buttons at the top of the front pleat, which I had inverted and only sewed down the top 2 inches.

So there you have it.  A somewhat altered Sorbetto.  I wore it on Sunday with skinny jeans and boots, and it looked pretty good.  So good in fact that hubby asked where I bought it!

That simple little Sorbetto took me a week to complete, so I was wondering how long it would take to make my next project, a dress from Burda 7301.

2 evenings!  That's how long!  Fabulous. 

This is made from a polyester ponte knit, so no finishing of seam allowances was required.  This considerably speeded up the process, as this part normally takes me ages. 

I made a few changes here as well, although only minor ones to improve the fit.  

I started by shortening the skirt 2 inches.  I should also have shortened the bodice by an inch I realised when I tried it on.  The bust pleats were sitting far too low.  I solved this by taking the shoulder seam up an inch, but next time I'd do it properly and shorten the bodice in the correct place.

Ugh, our garden needs some work!

The back darts had to be enlarged, as it was very loose.  I ended up making them about double the width at the base as the pattern showed.  I also took the side seams in between the under arm and the waist by about an inch each side.

I know it's supposed to be semi-fitted, but it was just a bit too shapeless for my curves.

I also omitted the notched neckline, as these have a tendency to flop down and annoy me!

Managed to capture the edge of my wheely bin "tripod"  in this one! 

I'm not sure the fabric was really the best choice for this style, but I'm happy with the end result.  It's exactly what I want from an "everyday" dress.  Stylish (I hope), but comfortable and it's not going to crease however long I spend sitting in the car - which can sometimes be a long time!

Based on these two finished items (and my failed knitted skirt) can you tell what my favourite colour is?!

Right yarn, wrong project!

So I’ve spent the last few weeks knitting a skirt – the Chelsea skirt to be exact – out of some totally gorgeous tweedy yarn.
This is what my skirt should look like!
Initially I struggled with the stitch pattern, but persevered because I loved the look of it so much. 
Yummy colour, yummy stitch pattern.
Once that was sorted, I then struggled with the waist shaping, and had to undo several inches and reknit to include more waist decreases.  I’m obviously a lot more curvy than the person the pattern was written for!

Yesterday I got to the “trying on” stage...... and it looks awful on me!  It totally makes my curvy bits look heavy rather than curvy, and makes my slim(ish) waist look definitely not slim. 

I seem to struggle with this quite a bit – see a pattern or finished item, fall in love with it, make my own and hate it!

I thought I’d got better at knowing what suits me and flatters my shape, but on this occasion it appears not!  I’ve been overtaken by a case of the “oooh, pretties” which has driven all sensible thoughts out of my head. 

This affliction seems to affect me more with knitted items than sewn ones, which is good I suppose, because I can always unravel and reuse the yarn.  Much harder to reuse fabric you’ve already cut up!

Happily, I did manage to finish sewing a blouse at the weekend that my husband thought I’d bought when I tried it on to show him, so I’ve not lost my touch totally.  I’ll share more details of that with you soon, cos I’m quite pleased with it. 

Please tell me I’m not alone, and that you’ve knitted or sewn things that you love the idea of, but just look awful on!  And do you have any "rules" for deciding whether a project is going to work for you?