A Shocking Discovery...

... or maybe not so much a discovery, but a realisation that's been creeping up on me over the last few months. 


Readers, I no longer enjoy shopping for clothes!

I used to LOVE clothes shopping, could spend hours at it (and frequently did).  But now, not so much. 

I think there are several reasons for this.

Pretty much everything looks the same.  Whether it's one shop from one corresponding season to the next, or different shops in the same season, I find that if you don't like what's in one shop, you won't like what's in any of them.  I know this is a huge generalisation, but it does seem that there's nothing individual or different available, unless you've got a huge budget (which I haven't). 

Lack of shops catering for my age group.  I'm 43 (although I was recently asked for ID to prove I'm over 25!) and sometimes feel I don't really fit the target audience of many clothes shops.  I'm too old for the younger, fashionable ones, and find that many of the other garments are too frumpy.  I'm not talking about clothes for old people, just ones that aren't aimed at the under 25's or so.  Does this also depend on your budget?  I think it might.

I'm much less ready to accept a less than perfect fitting garment than I used to be.  Before I started sewing so many of my own clothes, I'd try something on, the fit would be OK, and I'd think "that will do".  Now I won't.  Any weirdly fitting part really stands out now and I know that if I bought the garment it would annoy me and I wouldn't wear it.

I'm also much less ready to accept poor quality or poor finishing.  I was out shopping with my mum earlier this year and I tried on a dress that she thought looked lovely.  So did I, until I looked down and noticed a tiny pucker on the neckline.  Immediately I went from totally ready to buy, to "no way am I buying this".  My mum thought I was mad! Picky maybe, but again I knew that it would annoy the hell out of me and wouldn't be worn. 

I could make it - whatever it is - better myself.  I always find myself thinking, "I like this dress but wish the neckline was a bit lower, or the skirt fitted differently", or something along those lines.   Or I could finish it more neatly, or line it, or whatever! 

I've always been fussy, but I'm definitely getting worse. 

In a way I'm disappointed.  As I said at the start of this post, I used to love shopping for clothes.  Although I love making things for myself, I have absolutely no desire to make EVERYTHING.  I can't see the fun in making a pair of jeans, exercise wear or underwear for example, and sometimes its lovely just go into a shop and buy something that fits without all the faffing around with muslins etc. 

How do you feel about shopping for clothes?  Is it something you enjoy, used to enjoy before you started sewing, or have never enjoyed.  I'd love to know.  Why don't you take my poll, and if you want, leave me a comment below. 

As someone who makes their own clothes, how do you feel about clothes shopping?

The Summer at Last! Top and Skirt

When summer arrived in the UK at long last I suddenly realised I had very little in the way of summer clothing.  Luckily I was able to turn to my fabric and pattern stash and create a new outfit in no time.

I'll start with the top, which is made from a metre of cotton jersey I picked up for about £4.00 just because I loved the colour. 

The pattern I found some months ago on Etsy, after a search for jersey top patterns.  It's this one by Tip Top Fit

It came as a pdf download, so the usual taping together and cutting out was necessary.  I actually made a muslin some months ago with an old jersey dress but I didn't get the neckline right so I never wore it (or blogged about it).   The fit was spot on though.  When you buy the pattern you include your measurements, and supposedly the pattern is drafted to your exact size.  This certainly fit me without any alteration, but them jersey is pretty forgiving. 

As you can see I made some changes to this version.  I omitted the frill completely, my boobs are big enough without frills adding to them, and consequently made the back as one piece.   I also added sleeves from a Simplicity jersey dress pattern that I've had ages - I can't remember which one it is.

The skirt is from New Look 6035, which I picked up recently, really for the trousers. 

I used some linen/viscose blend that I've had in my stash for a couple of months.  I made a few changes to the skirt as well, changing the zip to centre back rather than the side, and lengthening it by 4 inches.  I didn't make a muslin, just made sure I'd cut pretty generous seam allowances to each side, then pin fitted it.   The seam allowances are neatened with a hong kong finish and the hem is just a narrow double folded one. 

I think it's a really flattering shape for me, I'll definitely be making more of this style.  In fact I have some bright pink linen/viscose waiting to be cut out already. 

I'm now off down the pub before it rains!  Enjoy the rest of your weekend, whatever you're doing.

Completed Cardigan (despite the heat!)

Thankfully it's a little cooler here today, or at least less humid.  I've found it pretty unpleasant the last few days I must admit.  It seems we're never happy with the weather, whatever it's doing, are we?

It's still too hot for me to wear my new cardigan though, which is why you're seeing it on Rosie.  

It's sort of self designed.  I used stitch numbers from a plain cardigan pattern I found, can't remember which one it was now, and then used the stitch pattern from Esther Socks for the body.   The sleeves are plain stocking stitch, and are elbow length because I didn't have enough yarn to make them longer. All the ribbing is twisted rib, finished with an I-cord bind off.

When I was knitting it I thought it was going to be too small, but if anything it's a bit bigger than I would have liked.  I really struggle with getting knits the right size.  I should probably always knit one size smaller than I think I need.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to it being cool enough for me to wear this.

I'm now planning another cardigan, using some Colourmart Extra Fine Merino I bought a while ago because I loved the colour.

It's called "Geranio" and is a kind of pinky, orangy red.  I have about 1300 yards of it.

I'm torn between 2 patterns at the moment.  I'd really like to do Meridien by Joji Locatelli.

I don't have quite the amount of yarn the pattern calls for though, and no chance of getting any more.  It looks pretty long, so I might be able to shorten it a bit.  I'm not too far off the yardage required.

My alternative is Chance of Showers by Heidi Kirrmaier. 

I've definitely got enough yarn for this one. 

Goodness, I'm so indecisive!  Maybe I should knit this in the yarn I have and then buy some more for Meridien, does that sound like a good plan?


A big box arrived at my house today.

And it's contents were all for me!

That's right...... a new sewing machine!

A Pfaff Ambition Essential sewing machine to be precise.

I think I've mentioned a couple of times that I wanted to get a new machine, and I have actually been saving up for one.   Any money I've made from sewing has been tucked neatly away in my drawer waiting for there to be enough for this little lovely.

However, at the end of last week hubby and I had an unexpected windfall so on Friday afternoon I got online and ordered this.

I got it from GUR Sewing Superstore as nowhere local to me stocks Pfaff machines.  And it came with lots of free goodies too, the most exciting one being an extension table that would have cost an additional £59 if I'd had to pay for it (which I had been considering).

I also got a huge bag of spools of thread (most of which are blue - so if you run short of blue thread, I've got plenty to share!), a few basic sewing notions, a bag in which to carry the machine (should I want to take it on holiday with me) and a trolley to wheel it along on!  I doubt the bag and trolley will be used, but you never know.

She does all kinds of lovely things.  Over 100 different stitches, including 6 different buttonholes, eyelets, more than 50 decorative stitches and an alphabet. 

She also has something called Integrated Dual Feed which ensures even fabric feed from both the top and bottom and loads of other little features that my other machine doesn't have, such as the ability to select whether you want the needle in the up or down position when you stop sewing (useful for machine embroidery), better lighting and a larger sewing space.

I had a little play with her once I'd read the instructions.   Here are a few of her fancy stitches.

Then I used her to turn up a pair of casual trousers for hubby.   I can't wait to use her "properly".  What shall I make first?

Friday Fancies

It's Friday!  And I've got the day off!  (and Monday too).  I think I might do some sewing.  (Now there's a surprise!).

But first I thought I'd share some of my favourite things with you, in a Friday Fancies post.  I did several of these when I first started blogging, but haven't done one for ages.

So, here we go.

Firstly, my new shoes.

Aren't they gorgeous?  I spotted them in a half price sale the other day and just had to have them.  I've got nothing to wear with them, I suppose I'll just have to make something!


This skirt caught my eye on Pinterest earlier in the week.  I've no idea where it's from, but I'm going to have to try and recreate this pleated look I think.

This is a great idea for adding interest to a plain cardigan front.  I'm going to have to give this one a go as well.



A very pretty illustration.  Found on Pinterest with no link, so I can't tell you any more about it than that I love it.  I have a whole Pinterest board of Fashion Illustration.  One day when I've got some free time in which I'm not sewing or knitting, I'm going to get my pencils out and have a go myself.


And lastly, because it's Friday, chocolate cake.  This recipe has been in my family for as long as I can remember, my mum used to make it for all our birthdays.  It's so easy and so delicious. 

Chocolate cake:
2 ounces cocoa
8 ounces boiling water
4 ounces soft margarine (don't be tempted to use butter!)
2 eggs
7 ounces plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

  • Sift cocoa into bowl.
  • Gradually add boiling water and mix until smooth.  Leave to cool.
  • Beat margarine and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Gradually beat in eggs.
  • Mix flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder together in another bowl.
  • Fold flour mixture into creamed margarine and sugar alternately with cocoa mixture.
  • Pour into greased tin and cook for 45 minutes at 180 degrees C.
Chocolate icing:

2 ounces margarine
3 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons sifted cocoa
16 ounces sifted icing sugar
  • Heat margarine and milk in saucepan until margarine is melted.
  • Remove from heat and add cocoa powder and icing sugar.
  • Beat until smooth and glossy.
  • Leave to cool and pour over cake.
You can vary the amount of icing sugar to get a thinner or thicker icing.  This amount will give quite a thick icing.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend.  If you make the chocolate cake I'd love to know what you think of it.

Marfy Muslins

I took the plunge this weekend and made muslins of the 2 Marfy patterns I purchased recently.

Firstly the wedding dress.  This is Marfy 3167.

It has been lengthened to ankle length, and the skirt altered to an A line shape.  The bride will be coming to try it on this Thursday.   I hope it fits, because I'm actually really pleased with how it looks.

I have to say, it went together like a dream.   Each piece (admittedly there are only 4 pattern pieces) fitted exactly as it should.  The main dress is basically a shift style, with the skirt drape attached between the underbust seam and the right side seam.  At this stage you can probably see I've made the drape completely separate and have just pinned it in place over the seams.  I want to be able to take it off to fit the dress properly.

I can't help but think this is going to look gorgeous in the silk double crepe she's chosen, as to my mind it looks pretty good in the calico!

Buoyed up by the success of this one, I decided to make the muslin for my top, Marfy 2112.

Again, this went together like a dream, the 3 pattern pieces fit perfectly.   It does need a few alterations, mainly adjustments to make the hem wider so it doesn't bunch up above my hips.

You can see there's a bit of wrinkling just above my bust on each side, but I think that's related to the fact that the hips aren't quite wide enough, so it's not sitting as well as it should.  Also the fabric is quite stiff and I'm planning on making this in something with a bit more drape.

The back is definitely not wide enough at the hem and I think it could benefit from some darts to give a little bit of shape.

There are no facings included in either of these patterns.  The wedding dress will be fully lined, and I think I'm going to use bias tape in place of facings on my top.

First impressions of Marfy patterns are good!

Open for Business

Good afternoon all!  I'm so happy it's Friday.

I have some very exciting news to share with you today.  It's something I've been thinking doing for a while, but today I have finally opened a shop on Folksy where I'll be selling my machine embroidered pictures and some small accessories.

I've called the shop Stitched Up by Samantha.

I actually started the process a few weeks ago, but then life got in the way and I didn't have time to make anything to stock in my shop.  However I now have a bit of stock listed and hope to add to this in the coming days and weeks.

I've got business cards too - how cute are these?

Once I've had the chance to build up a bit more stock I'm hoping to do some local craft fairs.  I've got a stack of picture frames I've been given, just waiting to be filled with lovely pictures.

I don't want to turn this into a total advertisement, but I'd just like to take this opportunity to say that I am willing (and very happy) to accept commissions, so if you would like a totally personalised item please do not hesitate to contact me, either through the shop or via the blog.

I've never done this sort of thing before, so any suggestions for would be greatly welcomed.


Oh my goodness I must be mad!

Not only have I agreed to make a wedding dress for a friend of a friend for her wedding in Italy in mid-September, but I've agreed to do it using a Marfy pattern.

The bride had a definite idea in mind - this bridesmaids dress from Dessy, but didn't want it in satin, which is the only fabric they supply it in.

Having searched all the big 4 pattern catalogues the bride hadn't found anything she liked, and I suddenly remembered Marfy, so I suggested she look there.  She immediately found something she liked the look of.

I don't know if you've heard of Marfy.  They're an Italian company (actually quite fitting for a wedding in Italy) and their patterns are advertised as being advanced.

I took the liberty of ordering a pattern for myself as well, and they both arrived this morning, which is pretty good as it was Tuesday or Wednesday when I ordered them.

This is the one I got for myself - the top in this outfit.

This is how the patterns come:

There are literally NO instructions, apart from a very few comments printed on the pattern itself.

Mine pattern has 3 pieces, one for the back:

And 2 for the front:

No facings, no seam allowances or hems included.  That's it!

At the moment I'm actually too scared to unfold the dress pattern, although it doesn't look as if it can be that hard - can it?  I've made plenty of shift dresses, it's really only a shift dress with an added drape to the front - isn't it?


I shall cheer myself up by thinking of the gorgeous fabric I ordered the other day.  2 yards of Paris map printed cotton that I got from Etsy.

I'm going to make a dress with it, I just have to decide which pattern to use.  I want a simple shape, kind of shift dress like, but with a defined waist so it can be belted.  Any suggestions?

On my needles...

There's been so much sewing going on around these parts recently that you might think I've forgotten about my knitting, but in fact I've got 2 projects on the go at the moment. 

The first is Clear by Kim Hargreaves, from her latest book Spirit


I'm a great lover of Kim's designs, they're always simple but with a twist. 

I'm knitting this with some Katia Pima Cotton bought very cheaply from my local yarn store before they closed for refurbishment.  For some reason I decided to start with the sleeves - I'm not sure why - and I have one and a half done so far. 

I often get bored part way through a knitting project, so like to have a couple on the go that I can switch between, which is what I'm doing at the moment. 

My second project is one that I'm making up as I go along.  It's a cotton cardigan - the yarn was bought from a local charity shop for the huge sum of £4.00.

This is what it looks like so far:

As you can see I'm knitting it top down.  I started by casting on for the back and working to the underarms, then picking up stitches for the fronts, and working these to match.   I've now joined the pieces and have a good 2 - 3 inches of the body knitted.  I'm loving it so far!

The stitch pattern is so pretty, it looks like rows and rows of butterflies.

I'm planning on using stocking stitch for the sleeves for 2 reasons.  One, I think the plain sleeves will contrast nicely with the patterned body, and two, I won't have to worry about shaping them and working the lace pattern at the same time!  Is that being lazy or being sensible?

This will be the first time I've knitted a garment without a pattern, so it will be interesting to see if it turns out as it looks in my head!

Blogiversary Giveaway Winner

Thank you so much to everyone who entered my 1st Blogiversary giveaway last week.  Thanks also for your lovely comments on the post, and throughout my first blogging year.

I have now picked a winner, in a most scientific manner.   I printed out all the comments, and folded them up, then piled the folded slips onto my bedroom rug:

Without looking I jumbled them all up then picked one:

As you can see the winner is Claire, from I Want To Be a Turtle.   Congratulations Claire, I'll be in touch with you to get your address and find out your likes and dislikes colour wise.

Thanks again to all who entered, I'm really sorry I can't send you all a prize.