Monthly Archives: February 2013

Stashbusting for the ones I love, and I win again!

Sewing definitely brings out my selfish side.  I have made a couple of things for other people. Actually I first started sewing with the idea of making gorgeous clothes for my daughters, but somewhere along the line I must have thought – Hang on. Why am I spending all this time on them when I could be making gorgeous things for myself.  My girls didn’t really appreciate my early efforts (and to be fair, they were crap) so I made myself a dress instead. And so it all began…

However, Cindy and Emily have officially designated February’s Stashbusting the month of making things for the ones you love. I do love my family immeasurably. I don’t like sewing for them.  I also don’t like sewing home decor stuff. Unfortunately a considerable part of my stash consists of home decor fabrics bought with the intention of sewing for my family.

It was with gritted teeth that I sewed these blinds for my youngest.


They’re blinds. That is all I can find to say.  Okay, I’ll try.  I have had the fabric for ages. My youngest chose it, there are cute little boats, beach huts and light houses. we live by the sea so it seemed apt. They have blackout lining and it would have been so much easier if I had enough fabric for curtains, but I didn’t. I started doing roman blinds then remembered that horrific story about a toddler who got caught in the strings, with tragic results. So I ditched that idea and tried stick on velcro.  Which didn’t stick. Eventually I had to improvise with ribbon ties on the sides. I really need an extra row down the middle, and it is a bit of a faff to tie them up but it’ll do until she is older, when I will make them into proper blinds.


Excuse the rubbish i-phone photos, I was in a rush to get these done, photographed and move on to something interesting.  However despite all my moaning it was worth it to see my daughter’s face when she saw them – I wish I had a picture, she was so excited. It did make me go all mushy. Which is kind of the point, I suppose.

Anyway, over to someone a lot less selfish than me. Look what I got in Kerry’s giveaway!


I received my giveaway prize from the lovely Kerry at Kestrel Finds and Makes yesterday and have it draped over my wardrobe door so I can look at it. How gorgeous is this fabric?!  Thank you so much! Now I need to find a worthy pattern and gee myself up to cutting into it. I have a few ideas but I want to be absolutely certain that I won’t bugger it up. So no pressure then…

I’m on the map – are you?

You probably already know about this but I’m passing it on in case anyone missed it.  Ever felt like you are the only one in real life who is doing this? I know that one of the reasons I started my blog is because I don’t know anyone in real life who sews. I have been accused in the past of being quite antisocial (or ‘on the spectrum’, according to certain friends) but even we introverts need a bit of human contact every now and then. And I just don’t get the required level of appreciation, support and conversation from my family. They try, bless ’em, but I can tell when their eyes start to glaze over and they glance over my shoulder looking for an escape route…

Anyway, Vicki from Another Sewing Scientist had the genius idea of putting together a world map of Sewintists. So now you can add yourself and see who else might be near by for meet ups/coffee/beers/general sewing chat of the kind our husbands tolerate but don’t really get. She also came up with the genius idea of calling us Sewintists, which is how I shall be referring to myself from now on.  I think it sounds so much cooler than seamstress.  It is easy to put yourself on the map -you can click on the picture above to go to the map but I recommend you go over to Vicki’s site here for clearer instructions than I would be able to give.  Go on, it is strangely exciting seeing how many of us there are and all the exotic places we are turning up.

While we’re on the theme of exotic places, my Giveaway prizes were posted at the beginning of the week and should be well on their way by now.  And while I’m reaching out I have decided to bite the bullet and get a Twitter account – I am @amazingtaracat . It may take me a while to figure out etiquette so apologies in advance for any faux pas.

How long for a Bombshell? Seriously…?

Curse that Gertie- she makes it look so easy.

I signed up for Gertie’s Bombshell dress class about, ooh…a hundred years ago. Okay, May last year, inspired mainly by Oona’s, Karen’s, and especially Adri H’s efforts.  I watched a few of the videos then real life got hectic and I put it on hold.  About six months ago I bought some fabric. Then with this year’s stashbusting pledge I decided it was now or never. I have a wedding to go to in April, I have a pattern, a class and fabric.  What was stopping me?  As it turns out – time. I knew I would have a few days to myself this half term when I’m not at work and the children are otherwise occupied. Perfect. Surely it wouldn’t take more than two, maybe three days max? I’d still have time to knock out another Mathilde, maybe even make those blinds that I’ve been promising the husband I’d make (YAWN).

How wrong could I be.  Now this is in no way a criticism of Gertie or the class, they are wonderful, inspirational. Or the pattern, which I knew from the beginning was for a B cup.  My frustration is totally down to my own impatience, attempts at cutting corners and generally trying to get too much done in too little time. It is me, all me, my fault. I hold my hands up to that. Okay. Exhibit A.

IMG_0702Which should really be exhibit B, as it is muslin number two. Number one, a 38 all over caused my children to double over laughing. I won’t repeat what they said, I have some dignity. Number two, a 42 on the front two pieces and the cups looked okay on the dress form.  There I was patting myself on the back at how clever I’d been.  On me it was a different matter. The centre piece stood well away from my chest and there was considerable, let’s just say overspill, at the sides.  It turns out that the bra I have on my dress form no longer fits. No idea why. (Thinks back to all the cake. Pizza. Pasta. Lager. Cider. Apple crumble….what the Hell, it was worth it.)

Okay, on to muslin number three. New well fitting bra on the dress form. Starting to get a bit boring now. Only redoing the cups. Skipped the thread tracing on them. Fortunately as well as re-watching Gertie’s tutorial and reading all the questions and answers I also read Katy’s tips for full bust adjustments on her blog – Sleek Silhouette.  Thank you Katy, you are an absolute star for sharing. Using first Gertie’s draping method then using Katy’s tips for extra adjustments.  Who would have thought that my cups are the same size as my head!

IMG_0707It’s better than number two.  I have pretty much eliminated the centre front problem.  However the cups are now a little wide, and pointy. The centre seams on the cups don’t match the seams on the bodice and the back is now too loose.


I have just cut out muslin number four.  I am getting so sick of that yellow fabric.  I have gone back to the thread tracing. Yes, Gertie was right, it is worth doing.  Tomorrow is my last full free day and I am prepared to miss meals to move this project on. If I could fit myself with a catheter I would. Hopefully by tomorrow night I will have something a bit more impressive to show.

I Won!

I love getting stuff in the post.  I think this partly explains my addiction to buying fabric off ebay, even though I have been disappointed in the past. So when I heard that I had  won my first giveaway I was super excited.  I got some very strange looks in the staffroom at work when I read the email from Diane at Marguerite Designs saying that I had won.

I feel like Diane and I have history.  In a very good way of course.  I first came across her work when we were both contributing to the Sew Weekly.  As a complete novice who barely knew one end of my sewing machine from the other I  was inspired by delicious creations such as this (from a duvet cover!), and this shirtdress.  Do go over to her blog and check out her work – not only does she sew, she also knits and paints.  Comments from Diane and the other Sew Weekly contributors encouraged me to keep going even though sometimes it seemed like I was getting worse at this sewing lark, not better. Then when Kat from Modern Vintage Cupcakes organised a pattern swap I was the lucky recipient of a gorgeous Vintage Vogue pattern v2960 –  from Diane.  My wearable muslin is here, which reminds me, I have another version of this on my to-do list for summer.

Anyway, this is what arrived yesterday morning:


IMG_0644 IMG_0645

How cool is this! I have great plans for the fabric, it is a gorgeous light cotton and Diane was thoughtful enough to include the original label so I know what I’m dealing with. The shell buttons are adorable, and the notebook is exactly what I need but my disorganised self would never have thought of buying. And who doesn’t need more pins and needles?  All packaged in this fabulous tin.  Thank you again Diane for your generosity and your excellent taste.

And believe it or not, I heard yesterday that I have won another excellent giveaway! Sewing bloggers truly are some of the most generous and kindest people.  Wait and see what else I won….

A Late Valentine for Mathilde…


I just love it!

And I think you should all go over here, to Tilly and the Buttons, and buy your own pattern NOW!

As I said before, of all the things I have made for myself, this is the one that I am proudest of.  I love the orange buttons. I love the fabric even though it is a deadly slippery polyester and I cursed the whole way through sewing it.  Tilly recommends that you use something that is not slippery if you are a beginner.  She definitely knows what she is talking about and I suggest you take her advice. Having said that the instructions are so clear that even I, as a beginner, was able to steam through with no other problems apart from the ones caused by my fabric choice.  Look! I even did french seams:


You can see in this close up that there are tiny dots of orange, so of course I had to have orange buttons.  I already had some in my stash but they were not quite right, so (for my sins) I found these here on Etsy. They were delivered super quickly in time to finish it for my weekend away.


I do know that it is by no means perfect. The more observant among you will see that there are only six buttons. The pattern calls for seven and I think it would be better with more but there were only six available. And as with my Tiramisus, I probably should have waited for the sewalong instead of steaming in and ignoring anything that looks ‘long’. I am slowly learning through my failures that all of these things (Interfacing, pressing, tracing pattern markings, staystitching… I could go on endlessly) are actually essential if you want something wearable.  I should have taken more time with my tucks. They are a bit, well lets just say variable?


They actually look much worse in that photo, where for some reason I’m pushing my chest out, than they are in real life.  My  friend (who is usually brutally honest)  reassured me that I am the only one who would notice. Apart from the rest of the sewing community of course, who are clued up to these things.  And even though I cut a 2 at the shoulders, then up to a 3 at the bust, hips and waist there is still a bit of extra fabric around the neckline.  I get this on pretty much everything, so it is definitely me and not the pattern.  It also looks like the back isn’t matched up properly, but I promise it is, it just looks wonky in the photos.  And the top of the back does lie flat, despite evidence to the contrary.  I think it had been squished down by my coat – I may put a hook and eye at the top to stop this happening (yeah right, like you’ll ever get round to doing that!)

So there it is. It’s not perfect but I love it. I love it so much and I am going to make loads, in every colour and fabric and each one will be better than the last until Tilly is forced to take out a restraining order to keep me away from her blog.

Sew Grateful Giveaway – And the winner is…….!

Sew Grateful - my first ever Giveaway!

…Wait and see.  First you have to listen to me rambling on.

I would just like to say how ****ing Grateful I am to all of you. And to Debi for hosting this week. I was worried that I wouldn’t get any entries.  I’m not exactly well known round here and I thought I might end up begging people to take the patterns.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Fifty one people made the effort to come on over and leave a comment! You are all the best and I wish I had fifty-one patterns to give you all one each.  Actually I do have at least  fifty-one patterns and I am definitely planning on giving more away, but I’d like a little time to sew them myself as well first, if that’s okay?

Anyway, back to the draw.  I’m afraid I could not be bothered to try and figure out the whole random number generator thing so I did it the old fashioned way – numbers in a hat, allocated on where you are in my comments list. Okay, a wash bag, not a hat.IMG_0631

And to make it completely unbiased I got someone else to pick the numbers out.


I had to redraw a couple if the pattern had already gone to someone whose number had already been picked, if you get what I mean.  Anyway, without further ado, the winners are as follows:

McCall’s 2075, the jumper, goes to the gorgeous ELlin at ellikitty. I will definitely be heading over there to check out what she does with it.

Butterick 9941, the 60s shirtdress goes to Nikki on the other side of the world. If you’re not too jealous check out her blog here – Nikki’s Stitches – she already has the perfect fabric lined up.

McCall’s 7815, the dress with the gorgeous lace border is off to Ashley at Craft Sanctuary. I loved her Peony by the way,  I saw it on Burdastyle when I was just about ready to give up on mine and it inspired me to tweak it and keep going.

McCall’s 9072, the jackets, trousers, shorts and culottes is also off to the other side of the world – well done Ellen, whose wonderful blog is here – Button Lover.

And finally, the most popular pattern by far, the lucky winner of Colette’s Peony is Brandy at A Series of Vintage Sewing Attempts     (I refuse to put the ‘unfortunate’ in there, because your attempts are anything but unfortunate).

Congratulations to all of you!  I’ll be in touch shortly, and please please let me know what you do with them. I can’t wait to see what you all come up with.

Sneak a Peek at my finished Tilly blouse….


My Mathilde blouse.  Before I tidied it up.  It isn’t this shiny in real life, I promise. I should be modelling it, and I promise I will but I have a damned good excuse.  I finished it late on Friday night to wear to my friend’s hen-do this weekend. It was an eighties themed do but we were meeting before at Harvey Nichol’s Restaurant for brunch in normal clothing, so as not to give the game away. Perfect opportunity to get some ‘on location’ pics, I thought. If not there, then surely at some point in the day before we got changed into our eighties gear. What I failed to take into account was this:


Which led to this:


And this:

IMG_0587 b

Then this:


Finally resulting in this:


And no, I did not make the dress. £2.50 from the charity shop.

I will post about my blouse when I am feeling less fragile. I can say that firstly I think it is the best thing I have ever made, and secondly, someone in Harvey Nic’s actually asked me if I bought it there! Now they may have been taking the piss but I don’t care, I’ll take compliments where I can get them.  And wait until you see the back!

Sew Grateful – my first ever Giveaway!

Inspired by Debi at My Happy Sewing Place  (gushing post to follow tomorrow) I am participating in my first ever Sew Grateful Week. I won’t be doing all of her suggestions. For example I still consider myself a beginner so there is no way I am qualified to give a tutorial.  I am however doing my first ever Giveaway so come and get ’em!  I have five, yes five patterns to give away.  I wanted to make sure there was something for everyone, so they range from a size 10 / 32 inch bust to an 18 / 40 inch bust. Some of the envelopes are a bit tatty but as far as I can tell all the pieces are there.

First up:

IMG_0557McCall’s 2075, Misses jumper and blouse in a size 10. 32 1/2 inch bust.  Apparently it is from 1969. I did plan on making this in jewel coloured cordurouy, but it is way too small for me so makes more sense to pass it on to someone who won’t need to mess around so much with sizing.

Next up:

IMG_0554Butterick 9941, a 1960’s shirtdress. Size 14, bust 34. Loads of potential here, I could see it made up in pale blue gingham, channeling the early Mad Men Betty, but I have about three other very similar patterns.  This one needs a new home.

No 3:

IMG_0556McCalll’s 7815; from 1965, Size 18, bust 38. I love the idea of this but with the best will in the world it will never fit me. I still plan on making something similar with the lace around the bottom though.

Then there is this:

IMG_0555McCall’s 9072, Size 18, bust 40 inches, copyright 1967.  Likewise, love it, want to make all of it but do not fancy trying to make it fit me.

And finally:

IMG_0558Colette Peony, uncut, size 0 to 18.  I so wanted this to work but it’s just not for me. I want to pass it on to someone who can make it look good.

To enter please leave me a comment saying which one / ones you would like if you win.  I want to give all of these away so don’t hold back, and I’m happy to post anywhere in the world.  I will pick winners at random this time next week – Monday 11th February.

Can you tell what it is yet Rolf ?

New pattern, but I persuaded my husband to reimburse me, so technically I didn’t buy it.  IMG_0521

Yes, they are Tesco’s economy beans (just in case anyone at Tesco’s wants to pay me for advertising)

IMG_0523I’ve had the fabric forever, so it’s stash busting….


And I’ve even done french seams! Like a proper sewist!

Now if someone (anyone?) will just take my children off my hands for a few hours I may actually get to finish it.