Thanks and A Parade of Pom-pom Sheep

I am so overwhelmed with the responses to my giveaway (there is still time to enter!) and the lovely comments from everyone so far. I got a little lump in my throat reading some of the comments and was so touched to realise that people actually like what I’m writing. When I asked for feedback, it was in no way a “I want to hear how awesome I am” thing. In the past I have had really low self-confidence and a big case of compare-itis where I always judge myself against others; I read so many great blogs, I’m never really sure what I am contributing to the big blog world.

Some people’s wishes for what they want to see more of on here are actually things I have thought about (such as fitting) but have never posted as I didn’t know what else I could add to the wealth of info on the internet, but you guys have given me a little self-belief booster to trust my instincts and share my little bits of knowledge. I have said it on twitter this week, but I can’t say enough how much I love the supportive collaboration of sewing bloggers 🙂

That was a bit deep, so now for a bit of fun. What do you get when you combine pom-poms, sheep and the zoo? Shaun the Sheep’s Pom Pom Parade!

The Campaign for Wool & Shaun the Sheep's Pompom Parade attempt Guinness record at ZSL London Zoo 3 copy

I totally missed the Campaign for Wool’s plea for people to make pom-pom sheep, which I am a little disappointed about. I loved making pom-poms as a child. My grandma would cut out circles from cereal boxes and give us all her odd ends of yarn, and we would sit winding the yarn to make pom-poms. I can remember turning pom-poms into black cats, snowmen and multi-coloured balls, and how exciting it was when Grandma cut the card away to reveal the final fluffy pom-pom. I think I am going to have to teach my new class how to make pom-poms (it will count as good fine-motor development!).

As I type, the Campaign for Wool’s Wool Room has so far collected 8,035 pom-pom sheep but they want a collection of 10,000 for a new Guinness World Record; they are having a pom-pom sheep-making workshop at London Zoo this weekend, and hope to raise awareness of how awesome wool is at the same time. You may remember I visited Wool House earlier this year (when I had just started my Basic Bella cardigan) but it was lacking in real-life animals (I missed the day when the sheep were there) so this new project sounds like lots of fun.

The Campaign for Wool & Shaun the Sheep's Pompom Parade attempt Guinness record at ZSL London Zoo 8


I don’t think my wrists are quite up to pom-pom making yet, but I have identified my next knitting/crochet projects when I am ready to ease myself back into yarn-work; the next Campaign for Wool project is to create a Woollen Wood and there are some very cute little patterns for butterflies, flowers and bugs that should make good “beginner” projects for me.

*Cute pictures are from Campaign for Wool but have given me inspiration for future makes!


Giveaway time!!!

~~~ This giveaway is now closed 😦 ~~~

A while ago I noticed I was on 95 wordpress followers, and promised a celebratory giveaway when I reached 100. Well that was last week and I honestly didn’t think I would get so many new readers in such a short space of time, so I wasn’t prepared with a prize.

Well, to say a big “Thank You!!” for all your support and lovely comments, I now have collated a bundle of goodies to share with one of my lucky followers!

IMG_20130827_195935[1]One winner will get a parcel containing:

  • 1m of Liberty lawn. It is cream with colourful hand-drawn flowers and fun doodles. It is gorgeous but I don’t think I will be able to wear it to do it justice (see my last post about me not loving cream clothing) so would love it to be put to proper use (not hidden in my pockets)
  • A book of sticky notes decorated with doodles of vintage sewing machines (7 designs in 3 sizes)
  • A Dressmaking Notes sketchbook (because September = back-to-school new stationery)
  • Two lengths of ribbon (each approx 1.5 to 2m long) decorated with buttons and bunting
  • Dressmaker’s wax for smoother hand-sewing (as discussed by #sewcialists on twitter recently)
  • A bar of yummy chocolate

Wow! That sounds like a lot when typed up. And I will send this to anyone in the world (chosen at random) in exchange for giving me some feedback on my blog.

I am almost approaching 200 blog posts and have over 150 followers (on WordPress and Bloglovin’ combined) which is rather overwhelming. I started this blog to document my creations and as a way to get discuss crafting without boring my real-life non-crafty friends. I never imagined so many people would read my random thoughts, so I just blogged about whatever popped into my head, with no idea whether people would enjoy reading it.

All you have to do to enter the giveaway is leave a comment telling me what you like or love about my blog and what I can do to improve my little crafty blog. Is there anything you want me to try and blog more about? In the spirit of going back to school, you can give your feedback in the form of “2 Stars and A Wish” – tell me 2 things you like (specific makes/posts or general things) and one wish for something you’d like to see in future.

The giveaway will close on Tuesday 3rd September at 21:00 GMT when I will select a winner at random. Please make sure I can contact you easily if you win; If I can’t get in touch with the winner within a week, I will pick another winner. Good luck!

~~~ This giveaway is now closed 😦 ~~~

Elisalex the first: Hot Air Balloons

elisalex 110

I had planned to make an Elisalex dress using the turquoise spotty fabric I got for my birthday. However it is such a fun colour that no zips can match it 😦 But fortunately I got some super fun fabric at Goldhawk Road (that Rachel from MyMessings also got) covered in colourful hot air balloons!

elisalex 075

I was super organised that day as I purchased the zippers I needed to match the fabric there and then, so could sew it up in a day (it should have taken longer with proper breaks, but shhh, don’t tell!)

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I did a FBA (full bust adjustment) and made a muslin/toile of the bodice, and it all went smoothly. There is still a bit of tweaking needed on the back, possibly a sway back adjustment, despite a bit of adjusting as I went along.

elisalex 187Can you see the invisible zip? I hope not as I tried SO hard with my pattern matching. Luckily I had lots of extra fabric, as this was not an economical way to cut the pieces due to the complex pattern repeat; you think the pattern has repeated when there are one or two balloons in a line that are different! It’s not perfect but I’m pleased with it for a first attempt.

elisalex 113

As you can see I made the whole pattern, including tulip skirt. I wasn’t planning to, but I was so impressed with the pattern drafting on the bodice and the Victoria Blazer, that I decided to trust the By Hand girls would have designed a flattering skirt. I like the skirt more than I had anticipated – it certainly isn’t as ginormous as I thought it would be around my shapely thighs – however I’m not sure it would be my top choice for everyday wear; I wore it to an open-air theatre show that involved sitting on the floor and it did not work for sitting cross-legged!elisalex 129

Wearing in real-life also told me that the armholes were a little tight, so I will lower them at the front slightly in the next version. Yup, there will be another Elisalex in my wardrobe (though with a gathered or half-circle skirt) as the bodice is such a nice fit and versatile fit.

elisalex 156

And yes, I did add pockets, of course. I was wearing my floral Cambie at a wedding this weekend and people were shocked/amazed that I had pockets for my phone while on the dance-floor 🙂

elisalex 109

It looks good dressed up with heels (seriously, these shoes mostly get worn in the hallway for blog-posing) and also works a bit more casual. And by coincidence I have cardigans that match the colours of the balloons.
elisalex 139



I prefer the look of this dress with cardigans as I think the overall colour of the fabric is too pale for me; the balloons are all me-colours (pink, purple, red and aqua/green) but the base of the fabric is cream. Despite the bright colours, the cream is still there and I’m not sure it is right for me near my face (I had the same feeling when wearing my Self-Portrait Blouse).elisalex 146


I just have one more week left until I go back to school, so I am going to work on fitting some other patterns in the hope that term-time sewing will be nice and easy…


My Blog Voice

Some of the #sewcialists on twitter were discussing what everyone sounds like in real life and so have been recording our voices.

I don’t have a webcam so I recorded myself using a microphone; to make up for not seeing my face I have added a few cute pictures of me when I was little 🙂

Autumn Sewing Plans

sewing plans

I have a couple of finished garments to show you, but before I show you all my sewing I though I should share my plans for autumn back-to-school sewing. At the beginning of the summer, while bored from my break from sewing (saw the physio this week and the rest has helped) I decided to draw all the things I was planning to make. Last year I made a personalised croquis* using the instructions in the Colette Sewing Handbook and I printed some out to doodle my wardrobe plans. I’m not normally one for planning my sewing, as you’ve probably worked out by now, but I was preparing for a blogging meet-up shopping-trip and had time on my hands.


  • A By Hand London Victoria Blazer. I have already shown you the blazer I made, which turned out pretty similar to the original idea; plain dark jacket with contrast (spotty) lapels.
  • A dark grey or black Hummingbird skirt. Last autumn/winter I lived in my black cord skirt, so another plain dark skirt is a basic wardrobe necessity.
  • A “plain” t-shirt to go with my patterned skirts. This was the plainest jersey I could buy; I am attracted to fun prints in fabric shops, but there is a space in my me-made wardrobe for plainer tops to wear with the snazzy prints! I’ll use my jersey t-shirt block for this, with self drafted cap-sleeves.

aubergine skirt

  • Last year I bought LOTS of aubergine-coloured corduroy and I haven’t made any clothes with it yet! I love cord skirts in winter, so am going to use it to make a Hummingbird skirt.
  • My wardrobe needs a plain navy top or t-shirt to match with my navy skirts. Still haven’t bought fabric for it yet.


  • I love the new Colette Patterns Hawthorn shirt dress; it is cute without being too vintage or girly looking. In my head I imagined a dark purple fabric with a subtle print, with a plain collar and cuffs. Whether this fabric exists in real life is still under investigation…


  • I’m pretty sure there will have to be a few adjustments made, plus my first time making sleeve plackets, so I thought I should plan to make a wearable muslin of the Hawthorn blouse; If it is in a busy print it should disguise any mistakes I make.


  • I got this turquoise dotty fabric from Paris as a birthday present, and thought it could be a great first go at an Elisalex dress bodice, with a Cambie-style gathered skirt. I have seen so many lovely Elisalexes and variations, that I had to give in and get the pattern too.


  • I love my Tiramisu dresses and really want a long-sleeved cosy one for the winter, in a heavy ponté jersey. Not black, so maybe dark purple/plum or maybe a deep red or pink…


  • When fabric shopping with Jo from SewLittleTime I bought some pink polka-dot jersey that we thought would be great for a Hummingbird peplum top. I didn’t even own the pattern, but Jo had the measurements written down so I bought some fabric in the hope of owning the pattern.
  • My second self-drafted pair of jeans were a much better fit, but the knees are already starting to fade from so much wear. Time for a new pair of jeans, in a dark almost-black colour.

So those were my plans at the beginning of the summer – stay tuned to see which plans stayed the same and which ones changed! Is anybody else getting excited about autumn sewing (despite it still being summer!)? What are you planning to sew?


*The croquis was made by taking an accurate (and unflattering) photo of myself in underwear and then tracing over it, to get an accurate outline of my body. I used an edge-detector tool on the computer to generate my outline and printed it in pale grey. The final image shows what I actually look like, and not what I think I look like, so my sketches of my designs look more realistic.



By Hand London Victoria Blazer


So I finally jumped on the By Hand London bandwagon, and can’t believe I didn’t do so sooner. I’ve met the By Hand girls on a couple of blogger meet-ups and they are so tall, slim and stylish I just didn’t think I would suit their patterns. Then at a Spoolette gathering at SewDixieLou’s house we all played dress-up in her Victoria Blazer and I was convinced (despite Claire’s version being many sizes smaller than mine would be). One birthday wishlist later and here I am, a By Hand London convert (garment number two is in production as we speak!)


My version is made in some lovely stretch black “posh cotton coat” that I got from another Claire at the latest Goldhawk Road meet-up and with black and white star cotton lining/cuffs/collar. I followed the pattern instructions as written (adding french seams to the sleeves) and used a left-over scrap of stripy bias-binding to finish the arm-hole seam. When finished I hand-sewed the lining armhole to the outer-jacket (on the train at 8am, getting very funny looks from other travellers).
blazer details

I was on the train to visit a friend in Newcastle. One of our day trips was to the beach and a paddle in the refreshing North Sea. I was excited to have a real photographer and a proper location to get photos and I gave her instructions of the look I was after: SewBusyLizzy style gazing into the distance at the beach (see her first 2 versions of ByHandLondon’s Anna dress).

So there is Lizzy in WINTER (photo from her super blog) and here is me in SUMMER…

blazer back

Hmmm… despite being the middle of August, the North Sea doesn’t look quite as lovely as the Australian beach does it? It was definitely weather for sleeves (over another unblogged self-drafted tee).

blazer front

I must make sure I thank my friend H and her little 3 month old assistant.

baby toes

Retro recipe #5 – Chocolate Slices and Crispy Crunch

It has been a long, long time since I posted a Retro Recipe from my Grandma’s binder, partly due to trying to be healthy. However if there is ever a time to eat yummy snacks it is on your birthday! This recipe is definitely not healthy, so stop reading now if you don’t think you can avoid the temptation…

retro recipes

I wanted something easy to make and that wouldn’t have the oven on for hours on a hot day, when I found recipes for different types of Fridge-Cakes. I couldn’t decide which recipe to use, so I made both.

The first was a classic Rice-Crispies-Square recipe, made with toffees and squidgy marshmallows. I decided to add some Rolos to half the mixture, and this variation proved most popular.

crispies 3

The second recipe was a chocolatey Rice-Crispies-Square made using Mars bars, instead of melted chocolate for a rich caramel flavour. It was yummy as it was, but again I mixed things up and added some Smarties to the basic mixture. I also made some of the squares with cornflakes instead of crispies.

crispies 2

All five varieties were sampled by a range of people; from my brother, to my colleagues, from friends to the bar staff who saw us eating the goodies. There were two clear winners: Cornflakes “as I just always prefer cornflake cakes” and the extra chewy Rice-Crispies-with-Rolos.

crispies 4

Here are the two winning recipes:

For both recipes: Prepare brownie tin or cake tin by lining with foil. When filling with mixture, tin may not be completely full so fold foil up to make divider.

Chocolate Slices

75g or 3oz margarine or butter
3 Mars bars, chopped
Approx 75g or 3oz cornflakes

Melt butter and Mars bars in a saucepan, stirring until all melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Add cornflakes until you get desired consistency. Press into tin and leave to set in fridge, before cutting into squares.

Crispy Crunch

50g or 2oz toffee
50g or 2oz marshmallows
50g or 2oz margarine or butter
Rice Crispies (approx 2-3 cups)
1/2 pack Rolos, chopped in half

Heat toffee, marshmallows and butter in pan until everything has dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in enough Rice Crispies until mixture is fairly stiff. Stir in Rolo pieces and press mixture into tin. Chill in fridge and then cut into squares.

I’m not sure if you can tell from the photos, but I cut tiny squares. These recipes are both very rich and sweet and delicious, so small portions were needed! I am not normally a big advocate of small puddings, but with these less is more!

crispies 1

Bunny Skirt!

back to blueYou may remember that at the end of June I went through a Navy Blue Period. Well here is the first (yup, I blogged badly out of of sequence) of my blue garments (garment three was worn to a sewing-blogger gathering, but I returned photo-less. I am trying to get some nice pictures of it, I promise!).

bunny 3

As you can clearly see in the close up at the top, this skirt is covered in little bunnies!! I had originally wanted to make a Cambie with this fabric, but Stone Fabrics only had a little piece of it left. Did I still want to order it? Errr, yes, of course!bunny 1

With such a small piece of fabric, the obvious choice was to make a Ginger a-line skirt. I have used the pattern before so I knew it would fit, and the simple style would show off the print. There isn’t much to say about the skirt; I used an invisible zip, lined it in navy and finished with a loop and button on the inside (my new favourite alternative to a hook-and-eye)

bunny 2

As soon as this skirt was completed the weather got really hot, so this skirt got overlooked in favour of floaty maxi-dresses and skirts. The weather cooled down a bit towards the end of July and I wore this skirt to Zoo Lates (zoo fun for grown-ups at London Zoo).
bunny 4

My Bunny Skirt got to meet some real-life bunnies and it even got a close encounter with a snake!snake

The Bunny Skirt even got to meet some Sewing Bloggers a few weeks later at Goldhawk Road (photo from the lovely Roisin at Dolly Clackett.

Black and White and Red All Over Quilt (part 10)

Before I get into patchwork I want to say a big hello to all my new readers (and of course hello to my long-term readers!). Hello! It is so nice when my inbox pings to tell me that more people want to read my thoughts, and it was especially nice to re-meet Tania on Saturday who was wearing a dress made after reading my Cambie FBA tutorial 🙂 I am almost at 100 WordPress subscribers so there may be a celebratory give-away coming up soon….

Drum-roll please… here are the final two blocks for my Craftsy Block of the Month sampler quilt!

Left until the very end, because they looked tricky to cut and tricky to sew, are the curved piece blocks. Amy recommends buying these templates but I really wasn’t sure how much I’d enjoy these blocks and be desperate to make more of them, so I just printed off her templates and stuck them onto an old thick box. This worked pretty well with no injuries to myself or the pieces, but was still a hassle to cut them out (especially cutting all the waste from the L-shaped black pieces). Joining the curves wasn’t easy, but was not as tricky as anticipated – I actually pinned thoroughly on these blocks – and if you are a dress-maker who can sew princess seams then they should be pretty straightforward (it is just the tiny size that makes them tricky).

Well the first block was The Chain and is a variation on the classic Drunkard’s Path patchwork. Once all the individual units were sewn there was a bit of thought needed to position all the squares. Again there were lots of seams so I chose black for the background (also looking at the balance of all the blocks, I did not need any more white). The finally design is fun but still pretty calm at the same time, and it was great to only have to worry about nesting the corners of the blocks.

drunkardThe Chain Blockcleopatra puzzleCleopatra’s Puzzle Block

The final block I made was Cleopatra’s puzzle and it was definitely a puzzle to cut and sew. Maybe if I had done the corners in black as well the cutting would have been easier, but I was thinking about the overall balance of the whole quilt and didn’t want a “plain” two-print block. I really like the look of this block and the impact of the colours I chose; I was not so keen on the construction of it, especially trying to match two curved seams.

So that makes twenty different patchwork sampler blocks! I am still trying to be good and rest my wrists, but luckily I have plenty of un-blogged makes and recipes to keep you entertained for a few more weeks until I can get back to crafting again *fingers-crossed*

Other posts in the series:
Part 1 – Slashed Blocks
Part 2 – Half-Square Triangles
Part 3 – Nine-Patch Blocks
Part 4 – Star Blocks
Part 5 – Dresden Block
Part 6 – Hexagons
Part 7 – Log Cabins
Part 8 – Foundation Piecing
Part 9 – Foundation Paper Piecing

Black and White and Red All Over Quilt (part 9)

The penultimate pair of blocks I made were Foundation Paper Pieced blocks. These involved sewing fabric onto perforated paper, folding the paper to trim away the excess, and repeating in sequence until the paper was covered. The first block was stitched in a simple order, but the direction of the lines and triangles changed to make the fun final design of the block.

5 Friendship Circle Block
geeseCircle of Geese

The Circle of Geese is a really fun and bold design, but required a bit more thought following the instructions. Luckily with foundation paper piecing all the pieces are labelled and you just have to follow the numbers in sequence. I really like the finished block, although there are a lot of seams (which is why I chose to use black as the background for this)

Other posts in the series:
Part 1 – Slashed Blocks
Part 2 – Half-Square Triangles
Part 3 – Nine-Patch Blocks
Part 4 – Star Blocks
Part 5 – Dresden Block

Part 6 – Hexagons
Part 7 – Log Cabins

Part 8 – Foundation Piecing