Cat Chronicles – The Official Complaint


I would like to lodge a formal complaint.  When exactly can we expect normal service to be resumed?  We are creatures of habit the large one and I and, quite frankly, lately, things have just not been up to scratch.  Absolutely no pun intended, scratching is a fundamental feline right and I will not have it mocked here thank you so very much.  And of course it falls to me to make the complaint.  I mean look at her:

St Gertrude knows I love my sister but she’s not exactly the sharpest needle in the pincushion so it falls to me to raise the issue.  Just look at me.


Consigned to the hard wooden chair beneath the kitchen table.  You don’t think that looks so bad?  No?  Regard my sister and I in these shots:

This is where we should be right now, on top of the wool.  Or, at a push, atop some newly laundered fabric.

When, may I ask, can we expect full-scale crafting to begin again?  We require pattern paper to lie upon.  We require you to sit at the machine-that-makes-a-noise-but-I-don’t-hate.  I need to be on top of the kitchen table watching the bobbin whirl and batting the seam ripper to the floor.

I mean we have seen glimpses of normality.  There was wool at the weekend, there was wool at lap-time (19:30-19:45 GMT precisely).  But there was moaning too.  Something about knitting four rows and then having to undo ten when she realised that she had made a mistake late last week and isn’t that just a metaphor for how life as a whole has been recently and why don’t I just buy everything off the internet like a sane person anyway.  And she gets so tetchy when we play catch the loose yarn.  Why play with two separate coloured balls of wool if you don’t want me to catch both colours?  I am hard-wired to seek, locate and destroy moving objects.  Fairisle my furry ****.


May I respectfully suggest that as the youngest has fully integrated into big school and as the older male has returned from his travels (smelling of hotels and airports) that you, older female, you i) adjust to your new job and your new hours ii) yarn-bomb the desk-of-your-own-for-the-first-time-in-a-decade and iii) carry on sewing.

We await your answer.  We await outside in the wet, on top of the fence, accumulating droplets of water like some sort of cloud, waiting for you to stop using the machine-that-I-hate-with-every-fibre-of-my-being.


Regards, the-smaller-of-the-two-felines-that-share-your-property.




Posted in Cat Chronicles, knitting | Leave a comment

1930s’ Blouse – Great British Sewing Bee

In remnants of red gauzy linen, cream checked cotton and a uneven oblong of flowery vintage something.


The pattern I used was the ’1930s’ Blouse’ from the book that tied-in with second series of the Great British Sewing Bee – ‘The Great British Sewing Bee: Sew Your Own Wardrobe’.   Don’t have the book?  Here is where you can download the patterns from the publisher.

Not being able to muster the required 2 metres of fabric to make the full length blouse, peplum and all, I managed a two thirds maybe three quarters version:  There’s an extremely minimalist peplum and a zip instead of a true-to-the-era placket, hook and bar.

Sewcialists!  Will this suffice for a last minute entry to Scraptember?

Posted in fabric scraps, foraged fabric, GBSB, Scraptember, Sewcialists | 14 Comments

Nautical but Nice?


The last of the OWOP hacks.  This dress is YET ANOTHER survivor from OWOP 01 and aptly demonstrates that when I re-started this sewing malarkey I had much less quality control.  Exhibit ‘A’ m’lud:


In my defence this was more or less my first attempt at a zip of this length (22″?)

Not terrible enough for you?  How about this!  No idea how to deal with too much fabric at the back seam?  Not a clue about attaching a lining to a zip?  Perplexed by both lining and outer shell meeting at the shoulder?  You are not alone, view my seams of shame:


Trust me, my friends, I have made good my mistakes.  And added a square neckline.  I was aiming for nautical… which it almost is in this shot:


However, when I took her to work I paired her with barely black tights and a cardie.  Not so much nautical as nurse-like.

angels(Image used for discussion and for those of you who like to be reminded of obscure 70s  British TV Series.  Copied from this site)

Round-up post later in the week.  In the meantime, many, many thanks to Jane for organising!

Posted in #OWOP14, OWOP, Sewing, Vogue 1739 | 6 Comments

Take a bow, bow.


Despite being a HUGE Liberty geek I don’t know the name of this print… so… this is Vogue 1739 in something blue.  This frock is yet another survivor from OWOP 01, there are so many of them!  I sure don’t know how to throw my hand-mades away.  I blame the tana lawn it washes and wears fantastically.

I have updated this version.  I un-picked and re-cut the top section as there was always an excess of fabric.  I had originally cut a UK size 10 throughout whereas I actually need closer to a UK 6/8 at the top blossoming out to a much larger size lower down.  Here’s a ‘before’:



Here she is now:

Do you like the bow?  Even if you don’t take to the bow, trust me the fit is better and due to my better understanding of under-stitching I have even more or less tamed the accursed lining fabric.  What do you know?  I have learned something in the intervening years!

Have we reached the half-way point?   I think that we have fellow, jolly OWOPers!

Posted in #OWOP14, Liberty trees of blue, OWOP, Vogue 1739 | 4 Comments

Sweetheart Hack

Vogue 1739 in a Cath Kidston print for OWOP Day Two.  Currently sporting a sweetheart neckline and a side zip, both of which are deviations from the true pattern.  Ha!  This is a deviant dress, that amuses me muchly!

The same as yesterday, this is another survivor from OWOP 01 and another dress that is saved for Sunny Sunday Best. Can you spot which pictures are from OWOP 01 (2012) and which are from OWOP 02 (2014)?

How’s your OWOP going?


Posted in #OWOP14, Vogue 1739 | 2 Comments

Up, up, OWOP and away!


Good morrow dear readers, are you OWOPping?  I am and I have (foolishly?) chosen to re-visit the pattern and indeed the very garments that I wore for the inaugural OWOP.   What pattern could hold such sway I hear you say?  Well it’s this:


Vogue 1739 (1996).  The bleached out looking dress on the right which is, and I quote:

“Fitted, A-line, lined dress, above mid-knee, has back zipper.”

Exciting stuff, hey?  Here’s my almost-but-not-quite-Vogue-1739 in liberty carline:




I adore this dress.  It wasn’t the first that I made but it was my most experimental.  It’s cut on the bias, I left out the zip and I’ve hacked at the neckline and made a weird keyhole/tie/button thing.  If we were to meet in person I would tell you the whole backstory to the weird keyhole, I would point out the remains of a yoke piece at the back and I would draw your attention to some very shoddy shoulder stitching.  But hey, I’m going to save you from all that, I’m going to tell you that this dress cheers me.  I save it for high days and holidays.  Days such as the one in 2011 where we took a trip to London Town to see Tate and Tennant making Much Ado About Nothing:


I love that this dress has been saturated in the joy of this and other Occasions-with-a-deliberate-capital-O.  It’s as if that joy is captured and reflected back on the most ordinary of days.  Sometimes we all need a bit of reflected joy.

Posted in #OWOP14, Liberty red Carline, OWOP, Vogue 1739 | 4 Comments

Help! Moths* ate my lucky dress.

What to do, what to do?  You need your lucky dress.  You take it out of the cupboard knowing that, the last time that you looked at it, it had a small nibble by the back split.  Something irritating but not too obvious.  Gah!  It didn’t miraculously heal itself whilst hanging in the wardrobe unworn and worse than that, there are more holes.


I know that this fabric has a tendency to moiré but I think that you can see the damage?   Curses thinks/thought I.  But, what did I do?

I sliced off the offending areas and re-attached the remaining undamaged fabric.  Luckily it was:

1) pretty long.

2) I’m pretty short.



3) The bottom few inches were unscathed meaning that I could retain the very invisible ready-to-wear hem.

Would you like to see what it looks like now?


Back split

Back split

Side - inside view.  Love the quality of my overlockering  on the lining...

Side – inside view. Love the quality of my overlockering on the lining…

Back split

Back split


Rescued but I don’t know how long she’ll last.  Methinks therefore that an interview-friendly shift needs to go onto the ‘must sew’ list.  Any suggestions?!


* Must be the biologist in me but I feel the need to re-assure you that I know that it is the caterpillars that do the real damage…

Posted in refashion, Sewing | 5 Comments

One link leading to another and discovering…


Oonaballoona from Kalkatroona:  A sewing star of celestial proportion.  One of those folks who are able to radiate warmth and energy using just thought and text and screen.  The link that laid me at the feet of O from K was The Sewcialists who have declared July 2014 as Oonapalooza Time.  Here’s their First Roundup.  Cool hey?

What did I make that could possibly reflect even a tiny proportion of Oonaballoona’s infectious joie de vivre?

I made this jersey dress (#114) from Burda Style 02/2013.  Which I’ve had a bash at before.  It’s fashioned in a multicoloured mosaic print from Stone Fabrics.  Boy is this fabric bright.  Your husband musing ‘that’s a bit bright’ kind of bright.  Tennis ball bright.


Hi-Vis jacket bright.  I can just about carry it off.


IMG_3121Whilst I love the draped front I’m not sure that I’d do battle with this particular pattern again.  There was a point during construction where I thought that the only way that that droopy drape would stay put was if I staple-gunned it to my sternum.  Thankfully, after some experimental hacking, tinkering and top-stitching I was able to PUT AWAY the staple-gun.  Whew!

How about you, will you dip your toe into the #Oonapalooza pool?



Posted in Burda, jersey, Oonapalooza!, sewalong, Sewing | 18 Comments

Sport and strawberries – effort and reward

Fruit?!  I know, I know, you just want to see the sewing but I wish to draw an analogy and so I beg a minute of your time kind ladies and sirs.

You see, it occurred to me as we munched our way through possibly the last bowl of home-grown, organic, free-range, cruelty-free strawberries that there is a connection between sewing and strawberries.  No, it is not to do with the much discussed price of a bowl of strawberries and cream at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.  Nor do I mean that my sewing is prone to aphids and mildew.  What I realised as I ate the last of our garden-grown strawberries is that, although they were delicious, they have required some considerable effort:

In the autumn I tended to the individual plants, making sure they were weed-free and had plenty of space. In early summer, I lifted the developing berries onto a bed of dry leaves in order to dissuade the slugs and woodlice from making them their meals or homes.  As the fruit has ripened I have fended off snails aplenty (we appear to offer suitable habitat to every polymorph of the banded land snail, I swear we could house a national collection) and it’s been a daily race between me and the blackbirds to see who spots the ripe fruit first.  All in all, it has been hard work.  But we have been rewarded!  The fruit, although variable in size, knobbly and misshapen, has been fragrant and sweet and we have shared it with the legions of invertebrates and birds that share our patch of green.


I think that it is the same with home sewing.  There is much effort involved and, for me, although my ‘reward’ – the finished sewing product – may be a little misshapen and knobbly, it’s hand-grown, me-made, and the sense of achievement is fragrant and sweet.

Oh my gosh, after all that, finally, tell me, what did you sew?

OK, you ready?  I sewed:

The culottes are New Look 6626, for which I have no envelope and no date.  I suspect them to be of an early 80s origin but I’d love to have a precise date, can anyone oblige?  I cut a size 12, which, when the origami-like sewing was over, was surprisingly close to my preferred fit although I did have to make very narrow side seams.  And a tiny hem.

The top is based on the bodice section of the dress pattern created for the V&A Golden Age of Couture Exhibition.



The whole outfit had quite a croquet vibe,

and is pretty sport friendly:

“Snow, rain, thunder… Lightning!”


What about The Secret Sporty Thing?

Oh my goodness! Have I forgotten to tell you what my Secret Sporty Thing was?  You have been most patient.  The Secret Sporty Thing, the Thing that necessitated the wearing of long sleeves:  It was tree-top, it was an adventure and it involved ropes and helmets*.  Here’s some evidence of me and my close kin stepping off something high, I’m about 2 minutes in:

Karen, thank you for being an effusive, gracious and inclusive host.  Sporty Summer Sewathon, I salute you!




* High Ropes Oxford:  Most brilliant!



Posted in New Look 6626, Sewing, Sporty Summer Sewathon, V&A Golden Age of Couture | 10 Comments

Finding beauty in the discarded.

Many is the hour that I have happliy wiled away browsing through the baskets and boxes that line the back wall of my favourite local charity shop, for the back wall doubles as an impromptu haberdashery.  Picture me if you will, balanced unsteadily with one leg either side of an overflowing bag of second hand bed-linen contentedly stirring the contents of the newly-arrived button bowl.

I try to put out of my mind how sad I feel that the shop has felt the need to add a sign that reads ‘Please don’t steal these buttons, it’s all money for the hospice’.  How can anyone resent their 5 pence a button asking price and choose instead to steal these time capsules?  For each of these sometimes very grubby little objects tells a story, from its colour and form to the number of compadres that have survived.

There was this party of two.  Made of glass and pressed into the shape of, is that a waterlily?

Or this singleton, made of metal, and surely, surely belonging to someone or something connected with the sea:

A mermaid?  No wait, the salt water would have caused her buttons to rust.  Although, maybe that’s why this is the only button to have survived.

I come back with a palm-full that I gently clean.  For many it is necessary to use my nail to ease away a greasy, sticky film that smells of woodbines.  One of the past owners was most certainly a heavy smoker.  Here they all are drying in the sun:

I almost immediately find a need for one of these new buttons, for I have fallen foul of Landmark Number 2Irreparable damage to a painstakingly produced object.  In trimming the corner of a top that I am making for the Sporty Summer Sewathon I cut through a very visible section of, nope not the lining, but the main fabric.


Do you see?  Right by the lower neckline, near to the seam with the shoulder strap and the front.  Arrgghh!  It will drive me mad to look at this so I am going to cover it with?  I don’t know yet, here are some choices:

1) One of the buttons from my latest visit to the impromptu haberdashery.


2) Some clip on earrings that could double as dress clips:


3) A pair of small plastic flower-shaped buttons:


4) A solitary elephant:


5) A white dog with a dodgy eye patch:


6) One or two of a pair of brown dogs:


7) A small, heart-shaped, shell button:IMG_2491What do you think, which button should adorn my sloppy scissor work?



Posted in sewalong, Sewing, Sporty Summer Sewathon, Thrifting | 7 Comments