Safari Adventures

There has been a bit of silence round these parts as I have been away on safari! Well, not quite as exotic as that sounds, but I needed a safari suit for a murder mystery dinner party in the depths of West London.

Apologies to my Australian readers, but my character was a loud and brash Aussie businessman who wears a safari outfit, and this was my me-made short-notice costume. I got the invite with costume details while on a Spoolette shopping trip to Goldhawk Road and was rather disappointed to discover I wasn’t going to have the chance to drape myself in Oriental silks (the mystery was set in China), but I had just bought some calico for muslins/toiling.

safari b

I made the long shorts using my self-drafted/traced pj pattern, adding a few extra inches of ease all around. Luckily it was winter and I had to wear tights underneath, as the calico was a little too see-through to wear in public. I found some home-decor weight fabric (a remnant I got thinking I’d use it to make tote bags) that was just big enough to fit the By Hand London Victoria blazer on. I lined it with scraps of rusty red and leopard print I had (I was just a bit too late for Jungle January) since this was fancy dress, but I quite like the mix-and-match lining.

The first Victoria blazer I made fitted amazingly in the stretch twill I used, but it was lucky I made this “wearable muslin” as this stable fabric was a touch too snug around the arms. Wearable for an evening, but good to know for a future everyday version.

safari a

No Australian outfit would be complete without a cork hat. I joked that as a non-drinker I should use milk bottle tops instead of corks, but then I found these cut little wooden spools! I borrowed a hat from a friend and sewed them in place, but they got very tangled during wearing. Strewth! Finally I used a scrap of faux fur to make a moustache (not pictured here) to complete my outfit.safari c


Onesie + Fleecy = Cosy!

Happy Boxing Day everyone! I hope you all had a lovely day full of family and friends and yummy food. I had a good day at my parents with all the family eating too many roast potatoes, and today we all feel like a lazy sofa day. Luckily I made just the thing in November that is perfect for chilly days on the sofa; a fleecy onesie! onesie 2

Before I continue this post I will clarify that I originally made this for Children in Need pyjama day at school. As an early years teacher I need to show enthusiasm for these things so decided to whip up a onesie as I have plenty of pjs already. I started making this the weekend that I moved, as a crafty project to recover from a hectic weekend of moving; only my machine was unpacked, so I used regular scissors to cut the fleece from the market.

I used my trusty pj bottom pattern (traced from an old but comfy M&S pair) and used the bodice and sleeves of the Hawthorn blouse, cutting both parts with generous ease and seam allowances. the hood was made from two quarter circles cut as big as the left over fabric would allow. This was very much a trial-and-error/fancy dress costume make – extremely rough and ready on the inside and there was lots of best-fit fitting going on. But the result is SO cosy I’ve had to keep it and wear it more (especially at my dad’s big old house).onesie 3I added way too much ease when I first sewed it together and had to take out a lot before it became suitable to wear in public, but I made sure it has enough ease for snuggling on the sofa comfortably. It is badly finished on the inside so I think I will take my pinking shears to the seams to neaten them up so I can get more wear out of it without feeling too embarrassed about my handiwork. This was my first lapped zipper and it wasn’t so bad, so I may try a lapped zipper again on a more serious make!

onesie 1I couldn’t create a plain blue garment so I jazzed it up with some white pom-pom trim around the hood and a giant pom-pom trimmed initial on the back (I told the kids at school it was A for awesome and amazing). Annoyingly my pj pattern is one piece for each leg, so no seams for side pockets, so I added a little patch pocket with more pom-poms to hold my phone or tissues.onesie 4This might be one of the silliest things I’ve made all year, but it is definitely one of the cosiest! Of course I am joining the onesie-trend with a sense of irony, but actually I can now understand the appeal. I’m not sure I’ll wear it out of the house though. Well not yet!


Last weekend was fab. It was the long-awaited Spoolettes Bowling Night!

A long time ago, at the beginning of the summer, there was talk among some sewing gals about making our own bowling shirts for a trip to the bowling alley. Many many emails were sent and eventually we arranged a date that the majority of the Spoolettes could do (if you want to know what a Spoolette is, read Claire’s blog here)

Everyone looked amazing and had responded to the design challenge reflecting their own style; there were vintage-style shirts, quirky fabric choices, a couple of bowling dresses and lots of amazing hand-embroidery (putting my machine embroidery to shame). As with any blogger meet-up there were lots of cameras everywhere you looked, so check out more photos on the blogs of Claire, Nicole, Fiona, Sally, Janene.

b b b b bowling! d

b b b b bowling! bb b b b bowling! cb b b b bowling! a

My shirt was a modified Hawthorn blouse (have I shown you my Hawthorn blouse and dress yet? oops!). This was my second Hawthorn creation and I used the bowling shirt to test out some modifications (more on the fitting in a later post, I promise!)

I cut divided the pattern to create a contrast stripe down the front and back centres, and made the collar and sleeves in contrast black fabric. This was easier than I expected; measure and mark distance, draw seam allowance on either side of the line, and fold back to cut out fabric.

hummingbird skirt cDespite not trying too hard, I actually did some pretty awesome stripe-matching! (see the chevrons below) And look, I’m not standing in a hallway! I think I’ve found a good photo-shoot location in my new flat, but it relies on nice sunlight which has been lacking today. (I got dressed ready to get some pics of my Hummingbird skirt I’m wearing without the bowling shirt, but the sun had gone by 3.30pm ūüė¶hummingbird skirt aI cut out some felt shapes and free machine embroidered them onto a scrap of fabric to create a logo. My machine did not like what I was doing at all, but its not bad for a first attempt at machine embroidery (though I definitely need some stabiliser before I do much more).

hummingbird skirt b

It was such a fun night, I can’t wait for the next Spoolette adventure!

Review of 2012

Everyone else is doing it, so I’m going to follow the cool crowd and do my own review of the year. I love seeing reviews of the blogs I follow and remembering all the inspiring images and projects I have read and followed through the year, so I hope you enjoy mine as much.

I tried to pick just 5 or 10 top makes over the year, but as I looked through all my pictures* I saw so many makes I forgot about (because they have seamlessly merged into my wardrobe, not because I never looked at them again!) so here, sorted into categories, is my round up of the year…

In the category of Most worn garment of 2012 the nominees are:

most worn 2012

In the category of Best Fancy Dress of 2012 the nominees are:

  • Self-drafted boiler suit (worn to Secret Cinema showing of Promethius)
  • HRH The Queen cloak and sash (worn to a birthday party)
  • And the winner is… HRH The Queen! I loved this night out, the cloak was great for waving while dancing, and it can probably be reused for future parties with different themes.

fancy dress 2012

In the category of Most time-consuming make of 2012 the nominees are:

  • Miette cardigan (it has been a decade since I last knitted an adult-sized garment)
  • Peacock dress (hand-beaded, couture finish in expensive silk)
  • Colette Sorbetto (lots of pattern adjustments to get the perfect fit)
  • Jeanius Jeans (making a pattern from scratch and lots of muslins)
  • Minoru jacket (again, lots of muslins and adjustments)
  • And the winner is… The Peacock Dress! When people admired this dress and asked me to make them a dress, I added up costs of materials and my time (at least 15 hours of beading, 6 hours of fitting and tweaking, and many, many hours of construction including 4 hours hand-sewing the hem!) to give a quote of just a little under 4 digits. Surprisingly nobody made further requests…

most time consuming 2012

In the category of Most unusual craft location of 2012 the nominees are:

  • in a cable car over the Thames (going between Olympic venues)
  • on a beach in the middle of Camden at 7am (after the start of the last leg of the Olympic Torch relay)
  • outside Buckingham Palace while waiting for Olympic cyclists to arrive.
  • And the winner is… The Beach in Camden at 7am. A beach in Camden is pretty unusual. Being there before breakfast is even more unusual. Sitting in baking sunshine by 8.30am in England is definitely the most unusual happening!

most unusual location 2012

The final category is for projects that I would never have believed were possible a couple of years ago (well possible for other people, but not me!). In the category of Most life-changing make of 2012 the nominees are:

  • the Peacock dress (sewing with silk, couture techniques, hand beading)
  • Jeanius jeans (making a pair of jeans without a proper pattern)
  • spotty Burda blouse (I’ve never even managed to buy well-fitted woven tops before)
  • Miette cardigan (not just a knitted garment, but one that fits without gaping!)
  • Minoru raincoat (It is a coat. I can wear it when it rains. I don’t get wet!)
  • And the winner is… the spotty woven Burda blouse. The other nominees may be fancy or more technical, but as a curvy girl I have never worn or owned nice woven tops (without them looking unflattering) so this blouse makes anything seem possible. Plus, when I tried on the finished blouse I wanted to wear it immediately, which is always a good sign.

most groundbreaking 2012

Looking through all my pictures there were so many that didn’t make the nominations, so here is the best of the of the rest 2012

Top row, left- right: Sorbetto top, giraffe crochet hat, Birthday Butterfly dress
Middle row, left-right:
Summertime skirt, Embroidered Embroidery case, iPad case
Bottom row, left-right:
Blogging meet up and shopping, Denim Traveller dress, United Stashes of Awesome skirt

A lot of great crafting and great memories this year, I hope you have enjoyed reading all about them on my little blog. Thank you to all my followers and for all the lovely comments. Happy New Year!

* I am aware that some pictures haven’t been blogged, or some makes haven’t been photographed. Sorry. Will try and do better this year!

A Royal Refashion

Yesterday morning I bought these rather large, shiny and feathery earrings on sale.Hmm… a bit big for my taste, what to do with them… What if I were to break them up with wire-cutters and pliers, what could they become?*
A whole sash-worth of medals fit for a Queen! Hem a long strip of lining fabric to become the sash, add some fur and ribbon to the top of a cheap bed-sheet for a ceremonial robe, and cover some card with LOTS of glitter to make a crown and… hey-presto! A fancy dress outfit fit for a Queen!

A friend had her annual birthday karaoke do and this year the theme was “Best of British”. She was Amy Winehouse, there were policewomen, cricketers, Olympic Games Makers, a traditional British gentleman, Boy George and Freddie Mercury (from the ‘I Want to Break Free’ video, complete with vacuum attachment) and I was HRH The Queen. Here is Her Majesty singing Total Eclipse of the Heart with Miss Winehouse – lots of passionate gesturing and pointing happens to look just like a royal wave. The crown barely survived the night -there was nobody to carry an umbrella over my head – but the rest is going into storage and is going to the top of my Best Fancy Dress Outfit list. I also sang The One and Only because it is an awesome song, but it turned out to be a good song for the Queen to sing.

I took some cakes and it was easy to make them themed with just some red and blue icing (and Haribo sweeties for the birthday girl). They aren’t totally accurate but under the flashing disco lights they looked good enough. And people were a little too tipsy to notice that some were a bit over-baked!

* It is slightly worrying how easily they fell apart, I barely had to use tools. I also have 14 feathers that I need to find a use for… any suggestions?

Cute cupcakes for a princess party

On Sunday I went to visit Vixie to watch lots of Disney films with Georgia and Yoyo the cat.

I got the grand tour of her studio which was FULL of all sorts of lovely crafty goodness. Remember my organisation of my sewing supplies– well Vixie has four of these units, and that is not even her main type of storage. I suppose she is making crafting a full-time business so she is allowed to have more than me, but I was still very envious!

She has a thorough breakdown of the day’s fun on her blog, but I thought I should share the goodies I made…

The purple cupcakes are classic vanilla* sponge, with pink buttercream, sprinkles and fondant butterflies. The pink cakes had fresh raspberries mixed in the sponge and were topped with buttercream, pink sugar and handmade fondant roses. This was my first attempt at making these roses (I’ve never had such a girly day to cater for before!) but I was really happy with how they turned out.

* Yesterday I listened to a really interesting programme about vanilla on Radio 4. Did you know that vanilla flowers are so tiny, only one or two types of bee are able to pollinate them? The farmer interviewed had to pollinate each flower by hand, which goes some way to explain why vanilla is the second most expensive spice.

This weekend I will…

…be making a jumpsuit/boiler suit/onesie. Why? To wear to the cinema next week of course!

Yup, weird I know. I can’t reveal exactly what or why as it is top secret (or Secret Cinema to be precise) but it seems like a fun challenge. I am going to combine my classic PJ bottom pattern with a lengthened bodice from my shirt dress – that should work shouldn’t it? And if it doesn’t, it is only for one night!

p.s. Hannah has nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award! ūüôā Thank you! I am really touched that she has been inspired by my blog, but I need some thinking time to decide who I am going to nominate.