Thursday, 18 December 2014


I said I'd make Frances another dress - I was going to make one from a pink spotty fabric I have with a nod towards being a Flamenco style dress - so ruffles and more ruffles and twirly.  Before I started figuring out what I was actually going to do I made the new curtains for the kids' bedroom.  There was a bit left over of the fabric and Frances decided that she would like a dress made from that.

I used the Absolutely A-line dress from the book of the same name.

I think Frances was hoping that she would be completely camouflaged against her curtains and was quite disappointed when she looked at the photos and found that we could actually see her.  She's still pretty well camouflaged though!

I was just about to sew the side seams when Frances announced that she'd like a bow on the back.

So, voila, a bow on the back.  I used a tutorial I pinned from pattern revolution, which I think has worked out well.

Here's a close up of the bow.  I stitched into place at the top, centre of the actual bow as it is quite heavy and was lolling about a bit.

I added a contrast facing, for a bit of fun.

I think the birds are all being pretty well behaved - they went to kindergarten with her today, so lets hope they haven't been flying around the school and annoying everyone.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Lou Box Top pattern test

I answered a request for Pattern testers from Beth of Sew DIY - this is not something I've done before, but thought it could be fun.  The pattern is for a boxy top that can either be made from woven or knit fabrics and has a couple of neckline options and a few hem shape options.  It's very loose fitting and it's recommended that very drapey fabric is used to make it more flattering rather than looking too boxy.

I must admit here that I'm not a big fan of clothes that are described as boxy - I have a fairly boxy figure without much of a waist, so try not to add to the general boxiness by adding boxy clothes.  I thought if I could find a drapey enough fabric, as recommended, things might be OK.  Of course, there was nothing large enough in my stash - but I found a drapey scarf across at the Brocki.

More red sewing for me.

The pattern is written at a good level of detail (without being too patronising) and fit together fine.  Because of the fabric I chose I decided to do French seams throughout and rolled hems around the bottom hem and sleeves - this is the first time I used my rolled hem foot that came with my new machine, which was fun, but I think I need more practise.

The neckline is finished using self bias binding.

The pattern said to cut the back of the woven t-shirt as two pieces and sew them together leaving a small opening at the back with a button and loop.  While I was putting it together, because of the scoop neck option I realised this back opening wasn't necessary, so I sewed it up - bit of a shame really as it would have looked better without the seam up the back, never mind.

And finally, a picture of me wearing it (head chopped off as my hair was wet).

So, all in all, despite my reservations about the boxy name I think it looks quite flattering.  I'll be interested to see what the other pattern testers came up with.  (#LouBoxTop)

Thursday, 4 December 2014


Last week was all about curtains. 

We're slowly adding curtain poles and curtains to all of our windows - there's no real rush as they all have shutters over them, but it makes the place feel cosier, especially at this time of year when there's curtains up. 

The kid's had some old curtains from our dining room in Bristol at their window, but we decided it was time to have something more fun. 

I made these from fabric bought at ikea.  I learnt to make curtains when I had a temporary job in a made-to-measure curtain shop between degrees, and this has stood me in good stead ever since.  I used my blind hem stitch on my machine for both the bottoms and sides of the main curtain fabric, which worked well and sped things up a little, so I only sewed the linings in by hand. 

Frances now wants a dress from the fabric as there was a little left over - I'm thinking just a plain A-line dress as the fabric is quite stiff and the design quite large.  Hopefully I can get the birds to sit in the right place.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014


It's been really tense around here.... well, not really... I've been knitting some socks for my Mum for Christmas and was convinced about half way through that I was going to run out of yarn for them.  I chose the pattern because it looked interesting and also so I could reduce the amount of stash I have and when I thought I was going to run out I was pretty gutted.  I even "phoned" a friend and there's some emergency yarn winging its way from Finland to here.  In the end I didn't need it, so my plans for stash reduction have only been partially successful, but I'm sure I can find a plan for the extra yarn when it arrives. 

Anyway, here are the socks:
I really like them -  I love how the colours dither (hence the name of the pattern) and I can see some other versions in the future.  I think they're quite a unisex pattern, so I can see some blues and blacks and greens going well together for David.

They're ravelled here.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

JJ blouse finished.

I little while ago (back in April!) I blogged that I had started the JJ blouse using some of the fabric I bought in Vietnam.  After my old sewing machine playing silly buggers, this is now the first piece of clothing made fully on my new machine :-)  I'm really enjoying sewing on it.  Anyway, back to my JJ blouse.  I had originally thought of doing some pin tucks on either side of the centre front instead of the ruffles that are on the original pattern, but then changed my mind and decided to leave it completely plain as the fabric is quite busy.

I cut a size 36 bust grading to a 38 around the waist.  A lot of people have complained about the pattern directions - they were a bit confusing, but with the help of this tutorial and looking up how to do a continuous bound cuff opening in my trusty sewing book it went together fine and fits well. 

The only changes to the pattern I made apart from the obvious omission of the ruffles is that I put 6 buttons down the front rather than the 4 the pattern said, I also didn't do the belt ties. 

I did do French seams everywhere.  I love French seams and how finished and professional the inside looks with them.  I don't want a serger as I love French seams so much.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

mermaid costume

I've been sewing this mermaid outfit recently for F.  When we were in Vietnam earlier in the year she found this sparkly pink Lycra material on a stall in the fabric market we visited and its been destined to be a tail ever since. 

 It's basically a tube skirt with some pieced together shapes to make the flippers.  I also got some pink net and sewed that inside the flippers to give them a bit more dimensionality - it's quite long as she wanted to be able to lie around and have her feet covered, but then she's able to hitch it up and be able to walk around.

She needed a top to preserve her modesty so I picked up some plain t-shirts and attached another bit of the Lycra to it and sewed it into the side seams of the t-shirt.  I also gathered the centre so that it looked like a bikini top.  

And here's both of them getting ready to go to a Halloween party.  R's going to need a new costume soon as he's had the dinosaur one now for a couple of years.  I'm thinking of a lion next.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

upcycled jumper cushion cover.

Hello blog, I've been away again - this time back to the UK for a bit of blighty time.  The weather was surprisingly good, and apart from a bit of a luggage diversion (3 bags decided they wanted to be a day late and one bag decided it wanted to go for a holiday on its own for a few days to Rhodes) we had a great time.

I'm now waiting for my birthday present to arrive - we bought it in the UK and are having it shipped back - it's meant to be delivered today so I'm very excited. 

While we were away I did a bit of knitting.

I finished off some socks that are going to be a Christmas present for David.

 They're the waffle rib socks from Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted Socks book.  I was gifted the yarn by my friend Quinn when she moved back to the US and I can't remember what it is, but it's pretty nice.  (Ravelled here).

I also knitted this flamingo for Frances - my Mum had got all the yarn etc together and then gone off the idea of knitting it, so I took over.    

It was a pretty simple knit although my row gauge was off so I add a few more rows to the neck and wings.  It has a bouncy ball in its bum, although the kids haven't figured this out yet! (only a matter of time).  (Ravelled here)

Since we've been back I've been working on refashioning an upcycled cushion cover.  An old jumper of David's was being relegated so I thought I'd turn it into a cushion cover - the first version involved chopping off its sleeves and filling in the neck area - I wasn't particularly pleased with my effort.  While we were in the UK I picked up a copy of Sew Magazine in it was a pattern for a patchwork cushion cover (it also has a pattern for a flamingo, but that's for the future).  So I've now cut David's jumper up further and turned it into a jumper patchwork cushion cover:

It was originally grey and black horizontal stripes with the brighter blue as ribbing around the bottom.  I decided to cut the main part of the jumper up so that some of the pieces have the stripes running horizontally and others vertically.  I like the effect - especially with the addition of the bright blue ribbing running across.  It's backed with some half cut up black sheet that happened to be just the right size to make an envelope opening in the back using the existing hem.