Tag Archives: top

Bad back, a new(ish) hobby and Me Made May ’14 week one.

Sewing is pretty impossible at the moment, I have done something painful to my back and all attempts to work at my machine have left me in agony so I have had to admit defeat until it sorts itself out. This is very annoying as I have a queue of projects including my nearly Dolly Clackett dress, another Emery and my Simplicity wrap dress.   However my sanity has been saved by the arrival of this gorgeous package:

photo 1

I am such a sucker for fancy packaging. We Are Knitters make knitting kits – you choose the pattern and the colours you want and they send you everything you need including needles and a cool label.  I found them when I clicked on an ad. on Facebook, which shows how strong these painkillers are because I absolutely hate ads on Facebook.  I know they are supposed to be targeted to your interests but you are not going to win me over by constantly flashing up ads for weight loss and wrinkle remedies, thank you very much. Show me gin, fabric and serial killer books and I might despise you a little less.

Anyway I found the website, quickly got sucked in and found myself ordering.  I needed cheering up and it made sense at the time- I can’t sew but I can knit.  Okay, I have knitted maybe four things in my life, hats, scarves and a very mis-shapen cardigan for my daughter. And the sensible people out there will ask why I didn’t just buy some cheap(er) yarn, needles and a free pattern from the internet.  However – knitting kit!  All in one bag! Cool packaging!

Now this is the point where I try to justify the cost, to myself as much as anything. I got the Vivian knit tee kit, which is forty eight euros. More than I should be spending, especially as I am a bit crap at knitting but it was ten euros less without needles.  And I can use the pattern again.  The yarn is the softest cotton and is really easy to use and the colours are amazing, I chose orange, natural and deep blue, which is a kind of deep teal-y turquoise:

photo 2This picture doesn’t do it justice, the colours are really vibrant.  The instructions are clear and there are video tutorials on the website if you don’t really know what you are doing, like me. It also comes together really quickly.  This is important. I usually prefer sewing over knitting because I am impatient. With sewing you can see a garment taking shape much more quickly than you do with knitting. I got the kit last week and I have half a top already:

photo 3Look, even a knitting novice like me can knock up half a top in a week! And you can knit anywhere. Okay, not quite anywhere but I can take it to work and knit in my lunch break, and in the park while I am ignoring my kids, and if I got the train I could do it on the train.  I may actually get to wear it for Me Made May.

On the subject of Me Made May I have been a bit crap at getting photos but I have managed to stick to my pledge. So far I have worn at least one handmade item a day every day except one , as follows:

Thursday 1st:  Day of the Dead print Simplicity 2444
Friday 2nd:  Black and leopard Deer and Doe plantain, still to be blogged, with shop bought jeans.Saturday 3rd: Floral Tilly Buttons Mathilde, with shop bought jeans.
Sunday 4th: Stripey Colette Laurel top (still unblogged although I made it last May) and shop bought jeans.
Monday 5th: All shop bought, but the jeans did come from the charity shop.
Tuesday 6th: Black eyelet Colette Laurel dress.
Wednesday 7th: Eiffel Tower print Simplicity 1610? Dolly Clackett dress.
Thursday 8th: Leopard pencil skirt, black top, shop bought but I have had it for over ten years. Must make another one actually.
Friday 9th: Leopard Laurel dress and shop bought leggings.

Thoughts so far (bear in mind I am on strong painkillers) – While I usually chuck on a me-made dress for work I do wear jeans a lot at the weekend.  And I have no interest in making jeans. I prefer making and wearing dresses but it all comes down to footwear.  Dresses can be practical but you do need the right shoes. Most of my ‘dress suitable’ shoes have heels. I live by the beach and spend a lot of time outside when the weather allows, and heels are not practical.  I do have a pair of espadrille type wedges that I can wear with dresses on the beach and I wish I had bought ten pairs but I can’t find any more at an acceptable (very cheap) price.  Maybe I need to learn how to make shoes?


Return of the Cat – Grainline Scout Tee Number 1.

P1220299Yay!  At some time before midnight last night I completed 50,208 words of my NaNoWriMo novel. That was basically all I did in November, apart from working and doing essential family stuff. So I apologise if none of this post makes sense, I am feeling a bit drained and sleep deprived. But Yay!

It’s been emotional and looking at the pictures here it is clear that I did a fair bit of comfort eating this month, drank way too much beer and did no exercise. I shan’t be losing any sleep over it, I like my curves and the extra layer of flubber will keep me warm this winter.  (And I wrote over 50,000 words!)  I do wish that when I put on weight it would distribute itself evenly though, instead of sitting on my chin, belly and thighs.  I also noticed that not exercising definitely has a negative effect on my mood, especially at this time of year, so this afternoon I will be dragging myself off the sofa, finding my skates and hitting the roller rink with my girls. Exercise has to be fun or I will find excuses not to do it. The gym bores me, running is okay if I set myself little challenges (and I can find a babysitter) but I absolutely love rollerskating.

Before that though I did manage some sewing.
I decided to ease myself back into it with something simple – Grainline’s Scout Woven Tee. I really wanted to join in Sown Brooklyn’s Wanett’s Scout Sewalong on Kollobora earlier this year but didn’t get round to it. However after looking on Kollobora at what everyone else managed to come up with it seemed the obvious choice for a quick, satisfying, stress free project.

I loved making this.  I think it is the ultimate quick project. I used the last of the eyelet cotton that I got at the London Meet Up, the same stuff I used for my Laurel LBD.  With hindsight I think the fabric might be a little stiff. It doesn’t hang as well as I’d like, you can see how it wrinkles at the back.

P1220306However part of that is because I didn’t allow for the fact that my hips have grown due to a month of sitting on my arse writing, eating and drinking. I will definitely make it again with more room at the hips in a fabric with a little more drape.

The neck was finished with black satin bias binding and to make it even quicker I cut it so that the scalloped edge of the fabric was at the hemlines. A couple of hours later and I had a new top.

Time to for a quick dance to one of my all time favourite tunes for celebrating, and a shameless plug for my old flatmate Len, who produced this version. Not that he needs it:

P1220291P1220295Twerking? At my age? More likely wind.

P1220301Now I’m now going to chill out and do nothing for an hour before skating. I’m knackered…

Duck! My Hawthorn crop top refashion – perfect for relaxing on the M25.


You know you are obsessed when you start planning things to make for specific activities.
Look – ducks!   Perfect for the Taracat Family Annual Shooting Competition.  Not that we shoot ducks. Or anything feathered or furry,  just clays.  I have had mixed reactions when I tell people I like shooting.  People have strong feelings about guns, which they should, but clay pigeon shooting is a sport in the same way that archery or golf are sports. Actually I think golf can be way more dangerous. I have lost close family members to golf.  They used to enjoy coming round,  spending time,  were able to hold intelligent conversations.  Then they tried golf and all of a sudden they had no time for their old friends or family, it took up all their money,  they were constantly thinking about their next fix….
(And before you say it sewing is nothing like that. )

Anyway at the risk of sounding like a psycho I find shooting relaxing, and very rarely picture the faces of my enemies as I squeeze the trigger. And despite only getting to practice when I go home to my parent’s place I am also the unbeaten champion in my family.  So obviously I needed a new top in which to celebrate my certain victory.

Some of you may recognise this fabric. It is the same stuff I used for my Simplicity 2444 bodice and Peony skirt frankenpattern,  blogged about here.

P1200552 Now when I say I used the same fabric, I mean exactly the same fabric.  The Stashbusting UFO and Refashioning challenge that I mentioned in my last post has really made me think about what I wear and what just sits in the wardrobe neglected. This dress was definitely in the latter category.  I have worn it out once and even though I love the fabric the gaping neck and slightly uneven hem bugged me so much that I never wore it again.  I could have tried to fix it but that would mean raising the hem to a length I don’t wear.  With my fabric buying ban in place I need to get ruthless so I decided to resort to something a little more drastic.  Does it count as refashioning if you just totally ignore what it used to be and just chop it up to use the fabric for something completely different?

I didn’t have enough fabric for the peplum top but inspired by the crop top tutorial on the Colette blog I cut out the main Hawthorn bodice pieces from the skirt and the little bits from the dress bodice and some scraps that I’d had the forethought to save when I made the dress. I lengthened it by an inch or so. After two children my crop top wearing days are over. I also added a wide waistband and extended it to make two ties that are long enough to wrap around and tie at the back or the front. I figured this would also give me a little more coverage. I added buttons from a local charity shop, fifty pence for four. IMG_2535Unfortunately despite my best efforts this top still reveals a little more flesh than I wanted.  It looked fine on the dress form:


and it’s okay when I’m sitting down:

IMG_2499Standing up, however, and it does this at the back:


And this at the front:IMG_2506I can kind of hide my muffin tops by hoiking up my jeans and not breathing

IMG_2514Or strategically holding the bow in place

IMG_2523But any kind of movement and it climbs up to show off my stretch marks.  I know why. When I lengthened it I should have also made it gradually wider to accommodate my hips. As it is it is not wide enough so rolls or scrunches up and sits on top of them.  In addition I only had four buttons and was hoping that would do but I also need to add a popper/ press stud at the bottom.

Despite all this I will definitely wear this top. I love the style and the fabric and it looks pretty good over a longer vest top.  It is definitely as keeper, which is more than I could say for the dress.  And now I have figured out what I need to change I do plan on making another.  I guess that means it’s a success.

Anyway, enough about the top. How did I do with the shooting?  And where are all the action shots in the woods pretending to be Elmer Fudd?

It didn’t happen. You could say that pride comes before a fall. After all the effort making this top and talking about how I was going to whoop everyone’s arses we then got stuck on the M25 for three hours on the way there and totally missed the shooting. We did make it in time for a fabulous family dinner and then headed to the village pub for a couple of pints, so it could have been worse.  I was annoyed at first but there was nothing we could do about it so no point in getting stressed.  On the positive side it did motivate me to make something new out of something I had given up on. And I also get to hold on to my unbeaten status, in my own head at least.