Friday Fancies


It's Friday again, and I'm so pleased!  This week has been a frustrating one, largely because some lovely person decided to break the windscreen of my car in the early hours of last Saturday morning.  I was then car-less until Wednesday evening and spent entirely too much time on the phone trying to get everything sorted out. 

Anyway, enough of my troubles, here are some lovely things that have taken my fancy this week.

Lovely Liberty print Tana Lawn.  The Spring 2014 collection takes inspiration from different areas of the Regent Street store, and this print - called Alexandra - is based on the jewellery room.

I think this would look perfect made up into this little top:

This is Teach Me Fashion's (no, I hadn't heard of them either!) Two Tone Singlet pattern.  You can get the pattern free by registering on their website.  I came across a version of this made by Sew Unravelled, and think I'll probably attempt it myself when the weather gets a bit warmer.

I somehow (not quite sure how it happened!) bought an overlocker (or serger to many people) this week, so I'm sure this series of blog posts by Make It Handmade will come in very handy.  She even uses exactly the same serger as I bought, which makes it even handier.

A pretty wrist pin cushion, this is by Heather Bailey, using her Spring Violets free pattern.  I desperately need one of these, and I've actually got some of the bits cut out for one.  I'm going to make a larger one as well (I hope!).

And finally a little bit of fun.  I saw this and - as a confirmed tea addict - thought it was spot on!

In fact, I'm off to make myself a cup of tea right now. 

Have a lovely weekend.  I'll be back next week with some actual proper sewing to show you.

A cushion for your chair...

... or a chair ON your cushion!

It is my mum's birthday this week - today in fact - and she's one of those people you never know what to buy.   She doesn't wear make-up or jewellery, and doesn't really use skin care or body products.  There's only so many books, black jumpers and chocolates you can buy a person, right?

So I decided to make her this cushion. 

I have 4 huge faux suede curtains that hung in our lounge a couple of years ago (if not longer), that I've been hanging onto because they seemed too good to get rid of.  A couple of pieces from one of those made the perfect cushion cover, onto which I appliqued and embroidered a vintage armchair. 

I kind of like the idea of having a chair on your cushion... on your chair!

I've got tonnes of this faux suede... I see many more cushions in my future. 

The Wardrobe Architect - Defining a Core Style

This weeks Wardrobe Architect post from The Coletterie talks about defining a core style. 

Like last week, there is a worksheet to complete and the goal of this one is to

"uncover the styles that make you feel like yourself and attach words and images to them." 

I'm not always very good at this sort of "homework" but this was actually quite fun, and certainly quite revealing.

As the answers this week are quite short, I'll share them all here.

When you are wearing your favourite clothing, how do you feel (e.g. confident, sexy, poised, powerful, etc)?

Comfortable, at ease with myself, confident, attractive, stylish, individual.

When you're wearing something that is not quite right, how do you feel?  What are the feelings you want to avoid about the clothes you wear?

Feel: Frumpy, irritated, awkward, exposed, dumpy.

Want to avoid: mutton dressed as lamb, tarty.

Who do you consider to be your style icon?  What is it about them that appeals to you?

Audrey Hepburn.  Parisienne chic.  Simplicity, elegance, timelessness.

What are some words that describe styles you like in theory but are not quite you?

Floaty, frilly, girly.

Look over your answers from last week on history, philosophy, culture, community, activities, location and body.  List at least 15 words that you associate with your answers.  Think about descriptive words, moods, and feelings you associate with these things.

I couldn't manage 15, but:

Comfortable, simple, dark, muted, tailored, modest, pop of colour, clean, detail, classic, graphic, layers.

Are there other words you would like to add to this list?  What other words describe your core style?

No, that's it!

Look over the answers to all the questions above.  If you had to narrow your list to only 3 - 5 words to describe you, which words would you choose?

Comfortable, simple, modest.

There was a visual exercise this week as well, to collect 15-20 images that represent these 3 - 5 words for you.  Here are mine in the form of a collage.  You can also see them on my Pinterest board here.

I found this week really interesting, because I have never felt that I really have "a style".  I've always loved clothes, but to my mind at least, have been a bit haphazard in what I like.

Of course, this now means that I need a whole new wardrobe!

I can't wait to see what next weeks exercise is.

"Longing" for a cosy sweater

For my January Minerva project I wanted to knit a cosy sweater.  I spotted some lovely looking Sirdar Freya yarn and decided it would be perfect.  I often struggle with “winter” yarns, as the nice ones normally contain a high wool content, often with angora or mohair, and I’m very sensitive to wool and find many of these yarns too scratchy for me to wear.

Sirdar Freya however is perfect.  It’s 55% cotton, 31% acrylic and 14% polyester and has a lovely tweedy look to it.  I know some knitters don’t like synthetic yarns, but this is a blend I’m totally happy to knit with as it means I end up with something I can actually wear!

The pattern I chose to use is Longing by Kim Hargreaves, from her book “Enchanted”.  I’m a long time fan of Kim’s patterns and have several of her books.  This one has deep ribbed hem and cuffs while the main parts of the sweater feature a simple mesh pattern.


This one is actually written for aran weight yarn, held together with a strand of laceweight mohair (itchy!), and the Freya is bulky (or chunky) weight.  I ended up knitting the smallest size, and it’s come out just about perfect.

I used about 6 x 50g balls of yarn for this sweater.  The yarn is very light, so you get good yardage per ball.  I have some yarn left over, so have plans for a cosy cowl that I can pop on if my neck gets cold. 


If you’d like to knit your own cosy – and non itchy! – sweater, you can buy a kit of 8 balls of this yarn here.

The Wardrobe Architect - Making Style More Personal

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last week or so, you've probably read about Colette Patterns Wardrobe Architect project.

In the introductory post Sarai asks if any of the following sound familiar:

  • You acquire things you don’t use.
  • You feel regret over purchases, whether it’s fabric you’ll never use or a blouse bought because it was on clearance.
  • You tend to buy quantity over quality more than you’d like.
  • You buy things that are “close enough.”
  • You don’t have a chance to think very deeply about your purchases, like the environmental or ethical impact.
  • When buying fabric, you go for the bright and shiny instead of the fabrics you really like to wear.
  • You make clothes that don’t really fit your life well (another party dress?)
  • You have an overwhelmingly long list of sewing projects you want to make and no idea of how to prioritize them. This can actually be kind of stressful for me.
  • You feel like your wardrobe is all over the place.
  • You don’t know how to put outfits together from what you have, so you keep acquiring more instead.
Well, I can safely say I could identify with 80% of the above, which is quite scary!

For years (long before I started making my own clothes) I've struggled with having a wardrobe full of individual items that don't really go together - or maybe only go with one other item - and that I don't really like.  I'm hoping that by following along with this project I might be able to change that and actually create a wardrobe that works for me and that I love.

This weeks post asks us to think about a number of things which might influence our style and aesthetic choices.

  • History: Your personal history and life events.
  • Philosophy: Your religion, spirituality, or general philosophy.
  • Culture: Your cultural background and the aesthetic values you grew up with.
  • Community: Your friends and the people around you.
  • Activities: Your interests, activities, and hobbies.
  • Location: Where you live.
  • Body: How you feel about your body.
I was going to answer each of these points separately, but aware that might make a long and not particularly interesting post for you to read, I'll try and condense things a bit. 

I don't really feel that my history, philosophy or culture have influenced my style unduly.  I'm not religious or spiritual in any way, and I come from a white, British family with no particularly interesting history or life events.

I suppose - and I suspect this is the same for many people - what influences my style the most is my body, or how I view my body. 

I'm not very tall - 5'3" - and am of a generally curvy figure.  I tend towards being slightly overweight, or slightly overweight in my eyes anyway.  Ideally I would weigh about 10 pounds less than I do now - and I am trying to do something about that, but I do like food so much.  Anyway, that's a whole other topic. 

Being curvy, my waist is much smaller in proportion to my hips.  I find it hard to get trousers that fit me well at all.  If they fit on the hips, they are enormous around the waist.  I've never found a pair of trousers that fit my waist, because I can't get them over my thighs!  I often have the same problem with skirts too. 

I also intensely dislike my knees, and you will never see me in a short skirt or heaven forbid shorts.  I seriously cannot remember the last time I wore a pair of shorts. 

Because of the above factors I tend to prefer dresses, but I would love to have some cool separates that I could mix and match. 

I'm pretty much always cold as well and spend a lot of my day sitting down, either at a desk or in the car.  Jersey dresses do work well for me (usually with a cardigan over), but it's hard to find nice quality jersey locally to me.  In fact it's hard to find nice fabric locally at all!

I do tend to buy quite a lot of clothes (or fabric) in the hope that things will coordinate miraculously, and consequently don't spend that much money on each piece.  I'm hoping that if I'm able to consciously - rather than randomly - coordinate my wardrobe I can buy less, but buy better quality.

If you've stuck with me through my ramblings, well done! 

Is anyone else joining in with this?  I'd love to know your thoughts.

Friday Fancies

Hooray!  It's Friday once again, and time for another round up of things that have taken my fancy this week. 

I've done these posts intermittently since I started this blog, but I'm going to try and make them a more regular feature this year.

First up, the Bryn Mawr knitted dress, designed by Alex Capshaw-Taylor.  

I'm under no illusions that I'd have time to finish knitting this before Spring, but it's definitely going into my queue to be knitted next in time for next Winter.

Also, you should definitely visit Alex's blog to read about her totally amazing hand knitted wedding dress.  It's gorgeous!

Next up, a very useful chart about sewing machine needles, and which one to use for which job.  I need to pin this up right above my sewing machine and get used to actually changing the needle as appropriate!


Now I've never had the slightest interest in sewing my own underwear (that's what Marks & Spencer is for), but this pattern might just change my mind.  It's one of Gertie's new ones for Butterick, and very pretty.


I'm trying to up my intake of veggies and healthy stuff, and I can't wait to try this yummy looking chargrilled cauliflower salad, by Yotam Ottolenghi.  I've actually been searching for this recipe for ages, and stumbled upon it this week. 

Finally, because I'm a bit of a geek at heart, and I recently watched the last Harry Potter film, the evolution of Neville Longbottom.

That's all for this week.  Have a lovely weekend.

Adding to my pattern collection...

I had an email today from Sew Direct about their pattern sale.  Always dangerous!

If you're a member (which I am) they normally offer 50% off the cost of all their patterns, in addition to receiving their monthly magazine.  Currently, their sale offer is buy one pattern, get 2 free!  That's a pretty amazing deal in the UK - I know that in the USA in particular you can often get amazing deals on patterns, but not so much here.

Anyway, I decided I needed to take advantage.  Although I didn't particularly have any patterns in mind, I wanted at least one knit top pattern.

I found this one:

McCalls 6513
 I have at least 2 pieces of fabric in my stash that will be perfect for this - probably the long sleeved, fully wrapped design on the right - a dark grey viscose jersey and a lovely purple textured wool mix knit.   Sunny of A Fashionable Stitch has made a lovely version in dark grey, so I'm going to blatantly copy hers!  Oh for a yellow skirt to go with it.

 I've been thinking of making a jacket for a while.  I don't like jackets with collars though, so my choices have been a bit limited, but browsing around I found McCalls 6611. 

McCalls 6611

The pattern photo is pretty awful, but there are some lovely versions floating around the internets.  Sew Busy Lizzy has made two for starters.   I have some black poly/lycra stretch suiting with a slightly glossy coating to one side that I think will work for this - at least for a (hopefully wearable) muslin.

My third pick was this Vogue dress, 1371, a Tracy Reece design.  I couldn't find any evidence of anyone having made and written about this, but I thought it would be really pretty for Spring/Summer, and you know how I love my dresses!  I love the split neckline, although I'll probably omit the little bow.

Vogue 1371

One other pattern I want to get is the By Hand London Charlotte skirt, a pencil skirt with peplum and frilled hem variations.  I'm pretty certain I'd only make the plain unadorned skirt, but I do like the double darts.  I think you can just about see them in this photo.  I haven't made a pencil skirt in a long time, and this one looks really lovely.

By Hand London Charlotte skirt
Have you picked up any new patterns recently - or got your eye on any?

Butterflies for Isabella

Just a quick post from me today, but I wanted to share my latest free motion embroidery with you.

A friend of ours recently had her first baby - a little girl born 4 weeks early - and I wanted to make her something.   I knew however that she'd been inundated with clothes and toys, so I decided to go a different route and make an embroidery for her. 

I used scraps of Liberty print tana lawn to cut out butterflies of various sizes which I attached to the backing with bondaweb as usual, then embroidered with different shades of pink.

For the name I found a pretty - but still readable - font online and printed out the baby's name.  I then traced this and pinned the traced outline in place on the backing.  I embroidered once around the edge of the letters - which was quite fiddly! - before removing the tracing paper and filling in the outline with more free motion embroidery. 

Luckily I already had the perfect frame to hand, so I was able to mount and frame it as soon as I'd finished it.

I'm not sure if Isabella herself liked it, because she was asleep when we visited, but her mum and nan were very pleased!

I had a little cuddle when we visited - she is tiny at just 4 pounds 14 ounces, but is the prettiest baby. 

I hope she'll hang her picture on her bedroom wall and enjoy it for many years to come.

Goals for 2014

I've shared my hits and misses of 2013, and I also gave you an update on my 2013 goals towards the end of last year.  Now it's time to share some goals for 2014.

Keep better records of my projects.

This one I'm copying blatantly from Gail at Today's Agenda, because I think it's a brilliant idea.   I record my knitting projects on Ravelry, but sadly there's no sewing equivalent.  What I have been doing up to now is either trying to remember what I did (doesn't work!) or writing notes in a notebook.  This works up to a point, but it's hard to find things, as you can only note them down in order that you did them.  Fine if you just have a few projects, but what about when the notebook starts to get fuller?

How about a ring binder instead, with a separate page for each project, that can be filed in alphabetical order, or by project type, or changed around as and when I see fit?  Sounds excellent to me!

And it gives me the excuse to go and buy some pretty stationery.  Like I need an excuse to do that!

Make better fabric/pattern choices.

My failures from 2013 were all down to the fact that I hadn't considered fabric or pattern choice properly before starting a project.  Sure, I made trousers that fit me, but I don't wear them because I don't like the style.  That dress that looked so lovely in red on the pattern envelope?  It would have been much better in a darker colour for me.

Make clothes that flatter my body shape.

In a nutshell, this means things that show off my waist, as this is the smallest part of my body.   It doesn't mean clothes have to be figure hugging, but that they need to give some indication of shape between my chest and hips. 

Make a French jacket.

Leisa of A Challenging Sew is hosting a Marfy free patterns sew-a-long starting in January.  Over each of the first three months of the year she will be making a blouse, skirt and jacket.  I doubt if I'll make the blouse or skirt, but I'd love to make a "Chanel style" jacket and I do have some fabric in my stash that would be perfect for it.  

I haven't decided yet whether I'll follow the standard or couture method, as Leisa will be sharing both. 

Make something from the Alabama Studio Sewing + Design book.

I was given this book as a Christmas gift and would love to try some of the techniques.   I'd love one of the kits, but they're rather out of my price range!

Improve the photography of my finished projects.

My husband has a fantastic digital SLR camera, and loves photography, but is reluctant to help me photograph my finished projects.  I need to work on getting him to help me take better photos to show my finished projects off to their best advantage.  I'm often envious of the gorgeous photographs on other blogs.

Work on building up Stitched Up by Samantha. 

I've set up a Facebook page to promote my textile art and link with other makers.  I'm investigating local craft fairs for this year and would like to attend at least 6 over the course of the year. 

I think those goals should keep me going this year!  I'll be keen to record and report on my progress. 

Have you set yourself any goals this year?