My jungle also has raccoons

Raccoons, racoons, racoons.  Raccoons everywhere!  I love them.  To my mind, they are slightly sassy lady raccoons.  Out for a good time.  In a forest of maracas.


Have you ever sewn with fabric that has faces?  Lots of faces?  I don’t have a lot of experience in this particular field, there were the lilo ladies but they didn’t fret me anywhere near as much as these nocturnal naughties.  I did not want to cut up or sew through anyone’s face.  Or anyone’s tail come to that.  Any road, with 1.90 meters of narrowness and a brutal attitude to the truncation of tails and the bifurcation of faces I fashioned a PJ top and some sleep shorts.

I could fit the left over fabric into the teeny-tiny top pocket that you can’t see because of all the furry, sassy faces.

Talking of tops, this top is Pajama Top 12/2014 #133 which was free in the BurdaStyle Advent Calendar (new to me, loved it!)

IMG_80881, 2, 3 pockets in the front and my first ever attempt at piping.  A nice finishing touch but goodness I found it fiddly.


Back vent.  Drafty!

As fer the sleep shorts.  They are Darcy Boxer Shorts, another freebie pattern.  I am a pursuer of PDFs, a paper-piecer a…  nah I’m all alliterated out.

IMG_8086I chose to make the fly front faux rather than functional.

A little thing that I did notice whilst magic taping these together:

Burda Top – 36 sheets of A4 paper.  One side of A4 cutting and sewing instructions.  Not a full side either and not a diagram or illustration to be found.

Darcy Boxers – 13 sheets of A4 paper, 5 sides of sewing instructions, diagrams and all.

To end.  Pixelated phone photos of me in me jim-jams and a HUGE  thank you to Anne for hosting Jungle January!

Posted in Burda, Burdastyle, Jungle January IV, Sewing | 11 Comments

Jungle January IV – my jungle has a zebra

Zebra Facts

Weighing up to 350 kilos…

Vogue 7433 in a dense polyester and elastane scuba-style knit.





Zebra Habitat

The vast plains and semi-arid grasslands of…

While most at home foraging for information along vast rows of shelving or through the labyrinthine corridors of the Internet, in the winter this creature is a frequent visitor to suburban gardens.


Easily startled, a good picture will take plenty of patience.


Zebra Range

Seen in the plains and plateaus of southwestern Africa…

Well, you know.  The garden, the kitchen, dare I take her to work?

Interesting Facts

  1. You can identify the different species of zebra by the stripe patterns on their:



2. Lord Rothschild had a zebra carriage


3.  This foal has a reeaally fluffy tail.


Fine Print

My love-affair with vintage patterns continues un-abated.  This jacket has shoulder darts, bust darts and a single sleeve piece.

My zebra not-hide was from Stone Fabrics but it’s no longer available, this at Ditto Fabrics looks to be the same.


Hands-down my favourite event of the sewing blogoverse, thanks Anne for hosting another Jungle extravaganza. May all your (animal) print matching be flawless.


Posted in Jungle January IV, scuba, Sewing, Vintage, Vogue 7433 | 9 Comments

Jungle Bells

Jungle bells, jungle bells,

Jungle all the way.

Oh what fun it is to sew for Jungle January.





Jungle January IV

This year, my jungle will feature at least one zebra.



Possibly in jacket form:


How about you?



Posted in Jungle January IV, scuba, Sewing, Vogue 7433 | 12 Comments

Vintage Jacket – the collar that caught my eye



One of those idioms that I until I come to type it I don’t question.  I’m now imagining the literal act of someone catching my eye.  Under what circumstances has my eye become free of its socket?  Am I grateful that someone has caught it?  !Imagination!  If you could just stop right there.  Things are getting a little too Lear for my liking.

Let us start afresh.

A 1964 jacket pattern with a cover image to intrigue.


I can see inside the collar.  How the heck is that constructed?  Sealed envelope.  Darn.  I’ll have to hand some coinage to the man at the seafront  ‘Antiques & Craft Centre’.

So that’s it.  Captured by collar construction.  It’s a puzzling affair of a bias strip folded in upon itself.

I took some pics whilst putting it together, with you guys in mind.  You’re most welcome.  If I didn’t lose you at Lear, have a look at this, it’s fascinating:

First you fold the short end in and then you fold the entire collar in half lengthways.  There is only one collar piece and no interfacing.  Naturally I cut two collar pieces because.  Because where’s the fun in stressing over too little fabric when you can cut two long, long pattern pieces on the bias from a double layer only to find out later that the collar is constructed from a single piece of cloth.  I’m not at all bothered by having done that.

On the hanger:

And on me:



Cold winter light long shot:


This is probably my final #vintagepledge:  Thanks guys.  After this I will be pledging my allegiance to all things animal:  Jungle January IV.  Roar!

Posted in #vintagepledge, Sewing | 4 Comments

Midnight Jungle

A three-hander.  Sequel to My Jungle has Birds and Butterflies.


Cast List

Agent Velvet Black :  Velvet has always been in the shadow of her brighter and more popular colleagues: Intense Violet, Bahama Blue-eyes and of course the fiery red-head – Burlesque.  But not this time, this time Agent Black will truly make a difference.

Pattern Patsy (A.K.A. Style 4844):  She’s just passed the big 4-0 and Pattern Patsy’s future is unclear.  Is she destined for stardom?  Will her name ever be Up In Blog Titles all over the Internet or will she end up forgotten?  One in a long line of patterns that just don’t make the Big Time.

The Mystery Maker:  Just what is this dame’s role in the whole shebang?  Was she just in the wrong place at the wrong time or did she mastermind the whole affair.  We may never know.

Plot Synopsis

They meet.  They mix.  Things get a little tangled and a lot messy.  In the end Pattern Patsy is hung out to dry.



The Moral of This Tale

It’ll all come out in the wash.  Probably all over your best M&S undies.



Posted in Jungle January, Sewing, Style 4844, Vintage | 9 Comments

Fair Isle Finished: Memento and Metaphor


A finished thing!  Reason to rejoice forsure.  I’m far from expert in these matters and a perfunctory glance at the Wikipedia entry would suggest that this patterning is not for the purists.  In my defence, it is rendered in a limited palette and I worked in the round.  It’s the alliteration that I was after, can we leave it there?

Seeing as I am the slowest of slow knitters this scarf has been on and off me needles for… Well.  It’ll be two years in January.  Yep, you read that right.  Two years.  It’s a truly astonishing pace of production.

As a consequence of my supersonic speed this scarf has been a constant companion through the seasonal cycle of diminishing day length to long hours of languid sunlight and back again.  With its motifs marked out by pools and patches of bright and shade this scarf is both memento and metaphor.

Accompanying me through the most joyous arrivals, the warmest of new connections and some particularly significant departures – sharp memories are firmly knotted into this fabric.  Our lives are as woven as the strands of this scarf.  Some people are alongside us for the bulk of our journey, others we pick up along the way.  Those that drop from our lives before we are quite ready are not forgotten as their stories remain forever entwined with ours.

It is only possible to see the patterns in the dark because they are bordered by the light.





Posted in knitting, Natural Dye Studio, yarn | 5 Comments

Expectations and Assumptions – Butterick 4743


One of the many things that I love about working with an older pattern is drawing deductions about the time that the pattern was written.  I have no clue where you would start to search for contemporary accounts from seventies seamstresses.  The archives of Houseparty or Womans Weekly?  It matters not, I’m shunning the rigorous research of my day job in favour of amusing myself by making wild assumptions and drawing dubious conclusions.  Here goes…


imageButterick 4743 has no copyright date but is clearly priced at the princely sum of 65 pence.  I’m going to assume that this makes it post decimalisation and therefore post 1971.  The styling suggests to me that it is not very far past the post of 1971.

Nary a mention is made in the instructions of the need for an overlocker or a coverstitch machine.  The seam finishes suggested are all zig-zag, turn under and stitch.  The assumption is that your interfacing will be sewn in rather than ironed on.

So far, so what, you might say.  Well, I suspect that the seamstresses of the 70s had no expectation that their hand-fashioned garments would have the finish of shop-bought knits.  Maybe in expecting to fashion your buttonholes by hand your expectation was that the entire garment would look hand-made.  And, that looking hand-made was a good thing.

What say you my fellow seam finishers and my fellow #vintagepledgers?




Posted in Butterick 4743, jersey, Sewing, Stretch, Vintage | 6 Comments

Vintage scuba

An oxymoron if ever there was one.

I wonder if the creators of McCall’s 8118 envisaged anyone fashioning their dress in such a fabric?  Given that in the year of its making both the Russians and the Americans were slipping the surly bonds of Earth, vacating their crafts and having a bit of a walk about in space, maybe they did imagine such a fabric.


It’s pretty sturdy, possibly it would be suitable for orbital undergarments.  Although.   You’d have to watch yourself on re-entry as I suspect the high polyester content would make it a bit of a melty mess of a fire hazard.

It was the details of this vintage pattern that lured me into a little flutter on a well-known auction site:  Notched shawl collar, welt pockets and a fold-up sleeve finish that you only find out about when you come to construct the thing.

That sleeve finish would sit more satisfyingly in a traditional dress fabric.  The spongy nature of the scuba creates, to my mind at least, a little too much bulk to be attractive.  I’m going to be wearing that sleeve hem flapped firmly down.


For full length photos we’ve got some iPhone selfies:

Thanks to the brilliant Better Pictures Project I’ve been thinking about arm angles and I’ve popped myself into the shade.  So much to learn!  I’ve even had a little dabble at editing, although this feels very much like cheating because I was just tinkering with the filters on instagram:


Finally, I’ve added a new badge to my social sewing area.  I’m a regular user of patterns that some would consider past their prime so I thought that it was about time that I formalise this fandom!  #vintagepledge


Posted in #vintagepledge, McCall's 5881, scuba, Sewing, Vintage | 4 Comments

Autumn rules!

Rule One: log fire flickering and guttering in the grate

Rule Two: cats recumbent on the hearth rug, paws stretched in sleepy supplication to the flame

Rule Three: the distant rattle, crack, whistle and pop of Bonfire Night pyrotechnics

Rule Four: A car alarm oscillating incessantly

Probably set off by all the suddenly-not-quite-so-distant-fireworks.  And they’ve woken the cats.  Methinks it’s time for some therapeutic yarn wrangling.  But what to choose?  The never-ending knitted scarf:


Or the crochet hexagon of hexagons:

I can’t decide.  Let’s talk about something else, a little sixties scuba number.  Yes!  You absolutely read that right.  A sixties pattern in a scuba knit.

What do you think?!


I’m a terrible tease so I’m going to pop fuller details into a later post.  Time to tend the logs in the grate, calm a couple of cats and wrestle with some wool.

Autumn rules!




Posted in #vintagepledge, crochet, knitting, McCall's 8118, scuba, Sewing | 1 Comment

What I did on my holidays.

Or.  Everywhere I went, my trousers followed.

Where did your sewing follow you this year?  Mine tucked itself neatly between the sun-cream and the woolly socks and trailed us to a northerly Shire where the roads were steep and the locals were friendly.  Much is made of the English North/South divide, but honestly, being a at-least-fourth-generation Southerner I can safely say that when you ask your spouse a question a native resting on a bench nearby does not usually respond.

Lost Southerner:  “I wonder if there is a short cut to the car park from here?”

Friendly Local:  “Aye lass, there’s a path up back.”

Taken aback, but grateful, Southerner:  “Gosh, thank you.”

Friendly Local:  *returns to the task of rearranging the contents of his shopping bag*

Sew.  The sewing.  These are two pair of almost-but-not-quite Margo trousers.  One in a nautical linen from Guthrie and Ghani, one in a floral cotton From Hong Kong.

I’m rather in love with the flare although you (well, I) have to be careful that you/I don’t catch the hem and land teeth first on the cobbles.


What would the locals have made of that?

A footnote of outtakes, just for Gillian and the #BetterPicturesProject.  Here’s me somewhere new, trying to capture movement and even trying a prop!







Posted in Margo, Sewing | 4 Comments