I Don’t Like Blouses...

I’ve commented before on how I love dresses and how they seem to make up an unusually large proportion of my wardrobe.  Well, I think I’ve discovered why!

When getting dressed this morning I decided I wanted to wear trousers, which is quite unusual for me.  So I found my one pair of smart black trousers and put them on.  Fine, they looked nice, but I needed a top to go with them. 

Hmm... that’s when the realisation hit.  I don’t like blouses.  Or tops in general it seems. 

In my wardrobe I found the following tops/blouses:

2 long sleeved black t-shirts, one v-neck, one scoop neck.  Both of these need to be worn with something over them really.

1 brown long sleeved jersey top with ruched neck, quite smart.  I do like this one.

2 long sleeved striped t-shirts, one white (now off white) with orange stripes, one navy with white stripes.  I like both these, but not with black trousers.

Grey Maria Denmark Day to Night top.  Nice, but not what I wanted today.

Black and white polka dot Sorbetto blouse with ¾ sleeves.  This is what I’m actually wearing.

Lovely green chiffon Zara blouse, which is new and still in the “going out” section of my wardrobe.  I don’t want to wear it to work yet.

Navy and pink pussy bow blouse.  Fabric is rubbish and clings to everything. 

Pink bias Sorbetto blouse with sleeves that looks like a maternity smock.  I need to do something with this!

There were a couple of other tunic type tops that I would wear with jeans, but not smart enough for work. 
I evidently need some more tops, but I hate blouses!  Most of all I hate blouses with collars and buttons up the front.  They never look nice on me.  The collars never sit right and the buttons always gape.

So, I’m asking for your help here.   Can you recommend some good top/blouse patterns that don't have collars and buttons up the front?  I don’t mind if they’re for knits or wovens, just give me some ideas please!

I have found a couple of patterns that I do like the look of.

Butterick 5610, particularly the solid blue version, top left.  I wonder if this could be made with longer sleeves?

McCalls 5561, view C or D, without the elasticated hem.  The photo of this one is rubbish, so I'll show you the line drawing.

That’s one mystery solved.  At least I know now why I gravitate towards dresses so much!

My First Vintage Dress - Simplicity 8498

Well, I've finally done it!  After months of drooling over and purchasing several vintage patterns I've finally made my first one.

Simplicity 8498, printed in 1969 ~ the year I was born!  I didn't know that (the year it was printed, not the year I was born) until I just looked this minute.  How appropriate for my first vintage pattern that it's one as old as me.

I first saw this pattern on the Sewaholic blog a while ago and fell in love with the simple yet unusual shaping.  It was actually pretty easy to track a copy down - I think I got it on Etsy - and it was pretty reasonably priced.

I decided to make mine in some teal jersey/ponte knit I had in my stash.  It's polyester, so a bit clingy without a slip, but it's not too bad.

I really like the little details, the darts at the back of the neck:

the elbow darts:

and of course, the gorgeous front shaping:

I've never used a pattern that incorporated elbow darts or back neck darts before, but they're lovely little details.

I only had to make minor changes, narrowing the shoulders about an inch, and taking the sleeve and side seams in about 5/8" each.  I also had to take a good inch off the sleeve head as my first attempt at setting in the sleeves resulted in some very unattractive gathering. 

I omitted the neck facing, as I really dislike these in general, and opted to use some bias binding to finish the neck.   The most suitable colour I had to hand was navy, so navy binding it was.

I was initially going to top stitch the binding in place, but decided on catch stitching it down, which gives a cleaner finish on the outside.

I'm very pleased with the fit of this, with only very simple adjustments needed.   It's not the sort of dress you'd want loads of, as the design is very distinctive, but I can definitely see a summer one being made, possibly sleeveless.

Bits and Bobs

So, this post is a bit of a round up of random bits and pieces that aren’t really big enough for a post of their own.

I’m writing this while drinking a large mug of tea and watching the snow outside.  I’m nice and cosy though!

I’m wearing the Tempt cardigan I’ve just finished knitting from Kim Hargreaves Enchanted book.   It’s gorgeous, really cosy while still smart enough that I could wear it to work.  Unfortunately with the horrible gloomy days we’ve had since I finished it I haven’t been able to get a decent photo of it, but I will do so as soon as I can.

You might have noticed I’ve added a couple of new things to my sidebar. 

The first is a button from So I Sewed Thiswho is spreading her enjoyment of sewing this year.  She’s encouraging anyone that wants to join in and sew for pure enjoyment to do so.  So I will! 

I’ll be focusing on enjoyment by making things I love, taking my time over them, finishing them as professionally as I can – but not beating myself up if they’re not “perfect” and maybe trying some new things along the way.

I’ve also joined Did You Make That?’s Sewlution, and I’ve pledged to make a pair of trousers this year, so I’ve naturally added a button for that as well.  Karen’s got a huge number of people taking part in this (187 in total), with all sorts of sewing pledges and it will be interesting to see how many of us succeed. 

And finally, I’ve joined Jacq at A Good Talking To... in the Creative Pay It Forward.

This is a creative version of Pay It Forward Day, which is on 25th of April this year, the aim of which is to inspire 5 million acts of kindness around the world.

Jacq pledged that sometime this year she will send a handmade gift to the first 5 people who commented on her blog post about the Creative Pay It Forward, on the condition that they make the same offer on their blog, Facebook, etc. 
So... if you would like to receive a handmade gift from me, sometime during 2013, please comment below.  It could be anything, knitted, crochet or sewn, depending on what takes my fancy!   The only catch is that you need to make the same offer on your blog (if you have one).  Although I won't be too strict if you aren't able to!
If you comment, please leave an email address so I can get in touch and find out where to send your gift.




Fantasy Vs. Reality - Part 2

First of all, thank you very much to everyone who commented on my last post.  I’m pleased to know I’m not the only one who’s had these issues, and also that I don’t really look like my mini-me!

OK, now on to the second part of my rude awakening from fantasy into reality!  This part is a little different, but surprised me none the less.

Sometime last year I started reading the blog 40+ Style.  I’m always interested to see the outfits and advice that Sylvia presents, and her posts make me think about my own style. 

Recently Sylvia commenced a series of posts around a New Year Style Challenge to find a more stylish “you”.  Each post poses a question about some aspect of style such as why style is important to you, how well you know your body and what suits you, and what is your current style.

The post that has really got me thinking was day 5 of the challenge about how close your current style is to your desired style.  Sylvia suggests collecting images of outfits/styles you like on Pinterest.  Well, I already do that so I thought I’d pop over to Pinterest to have a look at mine.  It’s here if you’re interested.  

I was slightly surprised by what I saw.  Of course there are dresses that would never fit into my lifestyle, these for example.

Gorgeous, but not really practical!

But very few of the things I’d Pinned are actually like items that I’ve currently got in my wardrobe.  And I don’t know why.  Many of them – or similar things – would be perfectly suitable for my lifestyle. 

Perhaps I’ve been “Pinning” for a fantasy life, when I could actually incorporate many of the ideas into things I make or buy.  Or maybe I’m just lazy, I Pin then forget to go back and look at what I’ve pinned.

Anyway, some thoughts that spring to mind when looking at my style pinboard:

I like simple shapes, but with an interesting detail.  I kind of had an idea of this one.

I prefer dresses to skirts; and skirts to trousers.  Hardly any outfits Pinned feature trousers.  The trousers I do like are straight legged styles.  I did already know this.

I would definitely wear these trousers with this blouse.

I like plain fabrics better than prints.  Why do I keep buying prints to sew with then?  I think it’s because patterned fabric looks so much more exciting on the shelf. 

I like navy and red; either alone or together.  Currently I have one navy and white striped top (which gets a fair bit of wear) and one red skirt, which is hardly ever worn.

Who knew I liked navy and red so much?!

I prefer smarter looks to very casual ones.  Strange in a way, because I don’t have a lifestyle that requires very smart clothes.  At work I can’t wear jeans etc, but I don’t have to dress very smartly.  However I would always prefer to be slightly over dressed than under dressed.

So, what am I going to do about my discoveries?

Immediately, nothing.   I've already got a couple of sewing projects planned, which don't necessarily fit into what I've discovered, but I'm going to continue with them anyway.  Actually, thinking about them, they're both quite simple shapes, so they probably DO fit.

I’m not going to rush out tomorrow and buy a whole new wardrobe or a huge pile of fabric and patterns to make a new wardrobe.  However I am going to go through what I’ve got and look at it bearing my discoveries in mind. 

I’m then going to work towards creating myself a new capsule wardrobe for spring, either by making or purchasing a few items that fit my style pinboard and coordinate together.

I’ve already started putting together a Pinterest board for a Spring capsule wardrobe.  I’ll share what I decide I want to make / buy in a later post.

Do you have a Pinterest account?  And do you actually use it as inspiration, and go back and look at what you've Pinned, or do you just "Pin and Forget"?






Fantasy Vs. Reality - Part 1

Do you ever get an idea or image in your head, only to find that reality is somewhat different?

It’s happened to me twice this week, so I thought I’d write a couple of posts about the differences I’ve encountered.

First up was a blog post by Handmade by Carolyn.  She’s calling it the paper doll project and not only does she plan to wear only self made clothes this year, but she’s going to draw her outfits on a daily basis.

What a great idea I thought.  Drawing clothes was always a favourite pastime of mine when I was younger so I decided to have a go with what I was wearing yesterday. 

Carolyn is using her Fashionary to do her sketches.  I visited their website to find out exactly what a Fashionary was – and now I know I  really want one! – and found you could download sample templates.

Here’s the drawing I did.  It's not coloured in because I was wearing a grey jersey dress with a frilled hem, black tights and black shoes and I thought that would be too dark to photograph well.

"Model" Me

Great, I though.  I look fantastic!  Except my body is shaped nothing like the stick thin model figure of the Fashionary template. 

"I know", my next thought was, "I’ll make myself a croqui" so I can see what I really look like in this outfit.   I didn’t actually use the tutorial I linked, my method involved photography, tracing and more photography, but the end result is similar. 

And scary!

This is what I REALLY look like in the same outfit. 

"Real" Me

Hmm...... not quite so attractive now, is it?!

Now I already knew that I wasn’t 6 feet tall with a size 0 figure, or whatever models have these days, but I was a bit shocked that I looked quite so wide and well, lumpy. 

I’m not really sure how I feel about this (except that I want to lose about 10 pounds now!) but that was in my plan anyway.  Hubby and I started eating much more healthily after New Year, so hopefully the scales will drop a bit, and my mini-me won’t be quite so wide.

I’m not even sure why I’m sharing this with you, but strangely I feel a bit better about it now that it’s “out there”.  

Maybe I should try the exercise again with a different outfit, one that doesn’t hug my curves quite so much, and covers my chubby knees!  I always knew I hated my knees!
Thanks for reading my ramblings.  I hope my drawings didn't scare you too much!
My other revelation wasn't quite so scary, but I'll save that for another day.

Here's one I made earlier...

It seems as if it's a while since I've blogged about anything I've made, which is pretty much the purpose of this blog, so without further ado,

Here's one I made earlier!

Not that much earlier - I think it was a couple of days after Christmas, but I've just not got round to telling you about it yet.

It is the Maria Denmark Day to Night Drape top.   It's a new-ish pattern, and the first Maria Denmark one I've tried.  I saw Scruffy Badger's awesome pink butterfly version and knew I had to make my own as soon as possible. 

Sadly at that time I didn't have any jersey in my stash, but a shopping trip a couple of days after Christmas yielded some black and grey lace patterned burnout jersey.  As soon as I got home I downloaded the pattern and set to work.  My husband couldn't believe how quickly I made this!  It only took a couple of hours, from purchasing the pattern online, to wearing.

The pattern doesn't include sleeves.  Maria says that the sleeves of her Birgette Basic Tee can be used, but I used the sleeve from a jersey dress pattern I already had and it fitted perfectly.

I'm really pleased with the finished top.  It's just the sort of thing I like to wear; comfortable but reasonably stylish, looks good either dressed up or with jeans. 

The sleeves are slightly too short - despite measuring several times - but I've got enough fabric left that I could either replace the sleeves completely or sew a deep cuff on the existing ones.   I bought 1.5 metres of this fabric, but I could easily have got the top out of 1 metre.  I'll definitely be on the lookout for fabric to make more of these. 

I Won an Award!

Thank you so much to Jenny at Jenny Sews 2 for nominating me for a Liebster Award.  It’s my very first blog award and I’m honoured to be included.


The Liebster Award is awarded to blogs with less than 200 readers to bring them into the limelight and hopefully increase their readership. The rules are:

Post 11 random facts about yourself.

Answer 11 questions posed by your nominator.

Nominate up to 5 other blogs for the award and ask them 11 questions of your own.

So, to kick off, here are 11 random facts about me.

1.       When I was little I wanted to be a fashion designer, and secretly still do.

2.       Pretty much the only thing I love doing more than crafting is reading.

3.       At school I studied both maths and art at A Level, and was the only person in my year to do so.

4.       I have a younger sister who is adopted.

5.       I have a secret passion for stationary, I love pens and notebooks!

6.       My favourite ever holiday was 2 weeks in Croatia which I organised without the help of a travel agent.

7.       I can’t ride a bike.

8.       I often drive around 500 miles a week (or more) for work.

9.       I love living in a small town with countryside on my doorstep and would never want to live in a city.

10.   I really don’t like cheese and onion flavoured crisps.

11.   I desperately want to visit Paris again.

Now for my answers to the 11 questions Jenny asked me:

1.       How long have you been sewing? I’ve been sewing as long as I can remember.

2.       How did you learn to sew (did you go to school, self-taught, mother, aunt, uncle, etc)? Mostly self taught, although my mum used to make a lot of clothes when I was little, so gave me some help.

3.       What motivates you to sew? So that I can have clothes that aren’t exactly the same as everyone else’s and also because I love the creative process.

4.       What is your favourite colour? It varies alot.  Currently I love all shades of grey and deep pinks, purples and teal.

5.       What is your favourite place to shop for fabric and notions? I don’t really have a favourite place.  I buy a lot online because I don’t have a great selection of fabric shops near me.

6.       What’s your favourite type of project to sew? Dresses without a doubt. They are also my favourite garment to wear.

7.       Will you sew a new challenge this year, if so, what will it be? Yes, I will be attempting trousers.

8.       What’s your least favourite type of garment to sew? I don’t really have one, it depends on my mood.

9.       Do you have a sewing room? No, but I wish I did.  I work from home, so our small bedroom is my office rather than my sewing room.

10.   Do you or would you teach others to sew? I haven’t taught others to sew, but I would like to.

11.   How often do you buy patterns or do you draft your own? I haven’t yet drafted any patterns of my own, but I’d like to learn how to.  I buy patterns when I see something I like, so probably far too often!

And finally, I’d like to nominate the following blogs for a Leibster Award:


I’d like to ask them these questions:

1.       Do you do any other crafts in addition to sewing?

2.       What is your favourite item you’ve made?

3.       How often do you sew, and would you like to do more?

4.       Do you have an unfulfilled ambition and what is it?

5.       As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

6.       What is your favourite food?

7.       Would you rather listen to music, watch television or read?

8.       What sewing tool wouldn’t you be without?

9.       What sewing tool did you buy that’s a total waste of money?

10.   What is the one pattern you’ve sewn that you’d recommend to someone else?

11.   What is your number one crafting tip (sewing or otherwise)?


New Year, New Goals

I’m not one for making New Year’s resolutions, they always feel too much like rules to me, something to beat yourself up about if you fail to achieve or stick to them.   They seem kind of negative, I suppose because they often take the form of “I will not......”

However I do like the idea of setting myself some goals for this year, things to work towards in a positive way.

I have quite a list, so I’ll try to group them together in some way.


I’ve signed up to Did You Make That?’s Sewultion and pledged to make a pair of trousers that fit me this year, so I suppose that should be top of my list of goals. I’m not sure what type of trousers they will be.  I could tie this in with another goal, which is to make at least one pattern by an independent designer, and use Sewaholic’s Thurlow trousers.  However I do tend to prefer straight or slim legged styles, so I’ll leave that decision for another day.

Sewaholic Thurlow trousers

So, my second goal is to make at least one pattern by an independent designer.  Who and what should I choose?  I can tell I’m going to be spending many happy hours browsing various websites to help me decide.

Some potential pattern choices ~ Colette Clovers; Victory Patterns Nicola dress; Sewaholic Pendrell blouse; Style Arc Julia jacket

Thirdly, do the Craftsy Couture Dress course that I purchased ages ago.  I even have fabric for the dress, just haven’t got my head around sitting down with my laptop and sewing machine at the same time.

Make things I will wear regularly, not just things I’ll wear once or twice and then shove in the back of the cupboard.  This means considering fabric, fit and styles that work for me and fit into my existing wardrobe. 

I’m not going to set a definite goal of a number of items to sew this year, but I would like to think that one a month is achievable.



I have fewer knitting goals but that doesn’t mean I’ll be knitting less!

My first goal is to knit more from the patterns and pattern books I already own, rather than immediately start looking for “new” patterns every time I want to knit something.  I could in all honesty knit for several years without purchasing a new pattern, but I’ll stick with making at least three items this year from patterns I already own.   My knitting library needs to be my first stop when looking for a new project.

Secondly, knit things I will actually wear regularly. I love knitting, but often seem to enjoy the process more than the finished item.  I need to look at my pattern and yarn choices to make sure they fit into my existing wardrobe, be it coordinating with items I already have or filling a wardrobe gap.


Life in General

My main goal for my life in general this year could be summed up as Quality over Quantity.  I could apply this to various areas of my life. 

Unlike some bloggers, I’m never going to not want to buy clothing – sometimes nothing beats a new top or dress that you haven’t made yourself – but I want to concentrate on buying better quality items and fewer of them.  Do I really need 3 cheap tops that look tired after a few washes, or would one more expensive one be better?

I can also apply this to what I eat.  I want to eat more healthily consistently this year (and hopefully loose a few pounds along the way) but I know I’m never going to be able to give up my chocolate fix.  However a small amount of good quality chocolate has got to be better than a larger piece of cheap stuff in so many ways, not least for my waistline!


This sounds like quite a long list of goals, but I’m confident they are all achievable without too much difficulty.  To help me keep track of how I’m doing, I’ll be creating a new blog page where I’ll list my goals and update my progress throughout the year.


A Year in Knitting and a Pledge

Welcome to 2013!  If you were out celebrating last night I hope you had a wonderful time and aren't suffering too much today. 

I thought I'd start the New Year by telling you about a new knitting project I'm starting today, one that will last the entire year.  Along with several other members of the Anthropologie Knits group on Ravelry I will be making a Sky Scarf, using varying shades of blue and grey yarn to knit one stripe each day that matches the colour of the sky.

I am using 7 colours of Rowan Wool Cotton DK, and will actually be making a Million Stripes Loop cowl rather than a scarf.  I'll share my progress each month with you, and hope to be able to show a beautifully striped piece, rather than just grey, grey, grey!  But you never know with the English weather!

These are the colours I'll be using.

If necessary I'm happy to add extra colours into the scheme as the year progresses.

On a related note, I saw this article recently about a knitting clock that knits one stitch every 30 minutes for a whole year to create a scarf. 


I'm not one for making New Years resolutions - I never keep them - but today I have signed up for a stitching pledge over at Did You Make That?  Karen is asking us to put our money where our mouth is and is going to keep a jar filled with our pledges so she remind us of them at the end of 2013.   We can then own up to whether they were achieved or not! 

My pledge is to make a pair of trousers that fit.  Slightly scary I have to say, I find the prospect of sewing trousers even more daunting than making a coat.   But I always have trouble buying trousers that fit, so it would be good to learn to make my own, tailored to my shape.