Monthly Archives: January 2013

Jungle January – Phewww! Just in time!

Beware!  This woman is an enabler.  I was forced, against my will to break my New Year’s resolution after a mere 30 days.  Actually that’s pretty good going for me.  And if I paid by credit card then I’m not actually ‘buying’ anything as such until I pay the card off, am I.

Anyway, it’s Jungle January (Yeay!) and there was no way I was going to miss out because of one silly little New Year’s resolution.  I love animal print.  In my youth my flatmate and I decorated our whole flat in the stuff.  Admittedly I did um and ah for quite a while before ordering fabric – a cotton twill with a bit of stretch from ebay.  It arrived yesterday, so I washed it then had to wait for it to dry.  Tonight I rushed home from work, fed my children beans on toast for dinner (all the food groups represented, what’s the problem?)  then packed them off for an early night so I could knock this beauty together.

P1200594 aI used Gertie’s pencil skirt pattern from her book and cut a size 8.  Because of the stretch I think I could do with taking the side seams in a bit more. P1200592 bBecause of this I haven’t hemmed it yet.  So I’m afraid it isn’t actually finished, but I ran out of time to take photos.

P1200597 cOne more to show its delicious leopard-y-ness. It may not be finished but I definitely sewed Jungle in January. And I think there may be enough left for a dress…

What do you get when you cross a duck with a Peony, (and a bit of Simplicity 2444)?

Answer:  Something like this.


When I got this fabric on ebay about a year ago I had a plan. Those are little brown flying ducks on a red background and it is the softest brushed cotton. I decided I would make a Peony.  Now I love the idea of Colette’s Peony. I love the ones I’ve seen other people make – for example here, here, here and here .  I even had a go myself, in navy but I wasn’t happy with the result.  Since then no amount of tweaking has produced anything like a decent fit.  For now I have accepted that for me it’s not going to work.

I know that the bodice of Simplicity 2444 does fit me, with some minor adjustments.  The neckline is a bit gapey, but I thought I had just about nailed it.  However with this fabric I didn’t want big pouffy gathered skirt.  I wanted something a bit more, well Peony-like.  So here it is – top of 2444 with the skirt of Peony.  I did a Frankenpattern!

P1200543P1200552P1200558It’s not perfect (Yes,  I am aware that this is becoming something of a mantra).  I rushed it and the hem is not quite even.  You can see above, and here:

P1200562– but how often am I going to be walking around like this?

More annoying is the neckline.  Still a bit too much gape, which makes the sleeve look funny in the pics as well:

P1200550I would like to try to fix it because I love this fabric.  I wish the close up pictures had come out better, but they really didn’t show it clearly so I will have to try again in a different light. I can sort the hem out easily and I’m thinking maybe a couple of darts at the back and front neckline? Although that would involve unpicking the facings.  I will have to wait (forever) until I am in a patient mood.

My first Macaron, and a shameful lack of ironing.


I know I’m late to the Macaron party.  I bought the pattern with every intention of joining in the Sew Colette 2 Sewalong with Erin, Rochelle and Sarah.  Sadly work commitments meant it wasn’t to be.  However, when I read that the January stashbusting challenge is to use bits that are less than a yard, this was the pattern I thought of.  I know it says the contrast fabric needs to be about 1 1/4 yards.  I usually find when I am making Colette patterns that I don’t use as much fabric as they say, and luckily that was the case here as I had way less.

I have had this cotton tattoo print fabric since 2011, when I started trying to sew.  I used it to make a dress for my then five year old daughter and had about three quarters of a yard left, plus some scraps. At one point I tried to make a shirt from it but there wasn’t enough  It’s kind of a cheesy print but I love the little blue and red butterflies and roses.


I cut a two at the shoulders, grading up to a six at the bust and an eight at the waist and hips in an attempt to avoid faffing around with an FBA.  I think I got away with it, although I don’t like the fact that these measurements make me sound like a pyramid.  If anything I think this dress is a little too big, but not so much that it’s unwearable.  It’s not perfect but there is loads I love.  The sleeves, the pockets, the fact that it is quite modest but not matronly… The only bit that I’m really not happy with is where the centre yoke attaches to the bodice. I did actually make a muslin of the bodice and it came out perfectly, which obviously gave me false confidence cos in the real thing I totally cocked it up.  It probably isn’t noticeable to someone who doesn’t sew, and I don’t know anyone in real life who does so I reckon I can get away with it if no-one tells on me. And I apologise for not ironing it.  Time is at a premium here. The only chance I had to take pictures was after putting the kids to bed and before the husband got home (and started taking the piss out of my attempts to be photogenic), and I had been wearing it all day.


Noticing the wrinkles, and deciding whether to get out the iron.

P1200499Do they show if I put my hands in the pockets?

P1200498How about hands in pockets and moving? No, I need something to distract from my lack of ironing.

P1200494Look! No Hands!

P1200495Long John Silver Stylee?


The Flamingo pose?

Okay, as you can see I’m still getting to grips with my camera.  Whatever.  Three more stash items busted – the tattoo print cotton, the black cotton poplin (still have a couple of metres left of this) and my Macaron pattern.  And a comfy practical dress with pockets that I can get away with wearing for work. I call that a success.

Stashbusting Officially.

Two posts I read recently caught my eye.  Firstly there was Cations’ Stashbusting Sewalong.  I am a longtime lurker on her blog, but this challenge was so close to my own intentions that I had to sign up.

And then I read this piece over at Male Pattern Boldness, on Jumping the shark.  I obviously lead a sheltered life because this is not a phrase with which I am familiar, but what he described, basically making resolutions with no hope of keeping them – well it’s me.  Self Stitched September – Fail.  Me Made May – Fail.  Sew Colette – Fail.  Sew Weekly – well I managed twenty challenges, but it’s still not sewing weekly, is it. And as for the pledges not to add to my stash, well this is how that one worked out:


I have no idea why I got most of this.  The blue and yellow florals are gifts from a friend who was sorting her own stash.  There is about five metres of the black and white stuff – something vintage and full skirted maybe?  The lace print knit could do another Tiramisu, or maybe I should be trying another pattern from my collection.  The bird print silk was a gift – I am terrified of silk but I need to overcome that. And the stripey pink stuff was from my grandmother’s stash – it has little silver threads in and looks much better in real life.

Then there is this lot –


Snake effect PVC anyone? There are a couple of duvet covers here, some Minnie Mouse shiney spotty stuff (no idea what I had in mind,) and the emerald green shiny really is from the sixties. I would love to use it for Gertie’s bombshell dress but there is only about a metre and a half.  This is only a fraction of what I have been hoarding.

And as for patterns, you would have though that this lot would be enough to choose from without needing to buy more?





Again, there are more where these came from.

I have carefully considered all of this and what the Hell, I am still going to give it a go. I am convinced that part of my failure was due to my lack of experience.  I am self taught from the interweb and have been doing this for less than two years.  Did I really think I would spend the whole of May rotating the same three wearable dresses and tops? And was I seriously going to be able to sew a garment a week, hold down a full time job and raise a young family? Taking all of this into account I have made the following pledge:

‘I, Taracat,commit to using at least 12 pieces of stash fabric in 2013. I also commit to not buying any new fabric or patterns until I have used at least six pieces of fabric and four new patterns from my stash.’

I am counting my two Tiramisus, after all I made them this year, and I have a couple of other things on the go.  And this will be the year that I finally get round to making that bombshell dress.  Actually this is starting to look almost do-able.

(Touch Wood)

Don’t you just hate it…..


…when this happens?

I was hoping to have something finished to show, but no, I’ve buggered up the invisible zipper.  Not only do the sides not match up despite the fact that the pieces did before I sewed them, but it won’t zip up any higher than this.  Oh well, best dig out the seam ripper. Anyone guess what it is yet?

Tiramisu No 2 – or ‘Look! No Norks!’

Excuse the crappy photos – someone stole the SD card from my camera. My money is on the little ginger one, or it could be the honey monster. Anyway, I had to use my phone which is not great.

Well here it is, my first attempt at Tiramisu.


As a teenager I was quite happy to wander down to the local shops wearing nothing but ripped Levi’s, Wonderbra, DMs and a smile. If it was cold I’d wear a crop top (just) over the Wonderbra.  This was the era of Madonna and underwear as outerwear, and if you had it, why not flaunt it?  And at least it drew attention from my spots, wonky teeth and the fact that I went bright red and sweaty any time anyone actually tried to speak to me.

Fast forward twenty (ish) years and I’m pleased to announce that age, experience and a good dentist have given me enough confidence to no longer need to hide my personality behind acres of boobage.  Not that I don’t occasionally get the puppies out for special occasions, but in my line of work an unintentional flash could have catastrophic consequences.  As a short arse I often find bought garments that look gorgeous on my taller friends hang just that little bit too low for decency on me. I leave the house thinking I look great, only finding the top heading southwards throughout the day.  However I do find that high necklines can look a little bit frumpy on me, and who wants to look like a frump?

Cue Tiramisu. Look!  I can move! No norks!

IMG_0472Leaning forwards – no norks!

IMG_0474Sideways – still no norks!

IMG_0475And leaning back – nothing!  (Not too far, mind, I’m not a gymnast and I don’t want to spill my gin and tonic.)

The only time I had any slight gaping was lying on my back trying to type and drink at the same time.  It is unlikely I will ever be doing that in public, so not a problem.

I made a 30D and it came together really easily.  The only slight hiccups were when it came to attaching the front bodice to the waist band, but Steph has addressed these issues here.  I sort of wish I had waited for the Sewalong before steaming ahead, but this is a pattern  will definitely be coming back to, so any more problems and I can always refer back to it.  In fact I am so impressed with Tiramisu that I have completed my second, using some slippery synthetic floral stuff I got in the same bundle as this fabric, from a lovely woman selling her stash on ebay.

IMG_0488 IMG_0487

It is such a quick pattern to sew, totally appealing to my need for instant gratification. With the second I actually cut the back bodice, front and back skirt pieces on the fold, making it even quicker to knock together.  And as soon as I have made enough stuff to justify buying more patterns, Pavlova is at the top of my list.

Finished (just about) – Tiramisu wearable muslin and face ache


I’m not modelling this because I had dental surgery today.  My face is swollen. I look like a Jim Henson puppet and it hurts to smile.  I will try and get some pics of me wearing it when I am in a better mood, but I wanted to post because I am soooooo impressed with this pattern.  This is seriously the first pattern that has ever fitted me perfectly as is, straight out the packet with no alterations.  I have a sack load of me-mades that I keep meaning to try and alter to get a better fit. Like most women I am not exactly the shape the majority of manufacturers had in mind when they produced their patterns.  I have a narrow back and shoulders, largish bust for my frame, wildly fluctuating waistline and pearish hips.  Despite this I have been very lazy and only recently started making muslins (toiles?).  If I’m honest I have only really started now because a) it is a damn good way to get through the crappy stuff in my stash quickly, meaning I can then justify buying more fabric, and b) if I am going to use the lovely stuff I have been hoarding because I am scared I’ll screw up and waste it I want to make things that I will actually wear.  The fabric I used here is a very synthetic knit I got off ebay for next to nothing – look how dodgy the print is at the bottom.  I haven’t hemmed this yet so i will probably just chop that bit off and make it a bit shorter – I’m only 5 foot 2 so I always end up chopping stuff down anyway.  Right – off to try and unwind.  Anyone ever tried drinking coffee through a straw?

Stash of shame…

Okay, things have been getting out of hand.  I appear to have accumulated a shitload of fabric.  You know you have too much when the stuff you are storing under the bed is actually pushing the mattress up in the middle. It’s got so bad I shake when I photograph it.  For example:

This… 3 stash

This…1 stash

This lot…5 stash

Not to mention the UFOs…0  stash

and here…4 stash

Then there’s the patterns….

I do not have a dedicated sewing room,  just a corner of the kitchen.  My stuff is taking over the house.  Before we went away for Christmas we lost the cat for three hours, only to find he had been sleeping the whole time between rolls of fabric.

I need to take action. I am therefore resurrecting this blog in order to document my efforts at sewing through my stash. I do not need any new fabric (hopefully if I keep repeating that then I will start to believe it).  I also need to use some of the many patterns I own that I have never tried before I can justify getting any more.  This should, in theory, be a big motivator.  I have a list that runs to about three pages of patterns I absolutely, definitely must have, along with the new fabric that will be perfect with them.  I am going to try and resist buying anything until I have completed at least, let’s say five items from existing patterns and fabric. That should be manageable, shouldn’t it?

Right, so let’s get down to it.  For my first project of 2013, let me present to you….6 stash