Plans and goals for 2013 – A Review

Do you remember Karen started the sewlution jar in January? Well I threw my name into the jar with this main goal: I am going to make less but what I make will be better. Lets see how I did…

couture couture jacket liberty hawthorn Floral Cambie

I learnt some more couture techniques from reading and online tutorials, which I used to make my turquoise couture jacket; The majority of this was finished by hand, which took lots of time, but was to a finish I’m really proud of. I took my time making dresses this year, using higher quality fabrics, and spending much more time on the muslin process and using better pressing techniques to get a better finished garment. I’m not sure if I have really made less, but most of what I have made will be worn for years to come. I’ve made more classic quality pieces and less impulsive fast fashion garments, so I think I can say my Sewlution was achieved, oh Mistress of the Jar!

Other goals I set were:

  • I will not need to be so sentimental and protective of my creations.
    Did you see the giant bag of clothes I took to the charity shops at the end of Me-Made-May? It included many me-made garments that just weren’t getting worn. A couple of garments were kept for recycling, but these are still in the to-sew pile.
  • donationsI will finish what I have started (or get rid of it/recycle it). Errr… not as much success for this. When I moved house I did get rid of loads of scraps and pieces, but I also had to buy more storage for my stash :-S oops.
  • I will do some of the Craftsy courses I have signed up for! I have used the Block of the Month and Free Motion Quilting courses to make my Black and White and Red All Over quilt,  and I’ve been watching knitting classes to learn how to get a better fit in knitting garments (finished cardigan is still drying, must turn heating up!).
  • I really want to make bunting! I made some bunting for the Crafty magazine fox competition, but sadly I didn’t win (I think my tutorial was much too long for a magazine). But that means that I can now share my super cute tutorial with you all instead!
  • I am going to learn to take better pictures. I have a tripod and a remote control, and have been taking hundreds of pictures to get 5 decent ones for the blog. I set up a proper background to take photos of my girly cupcakes.
  • girly cupcakesI am going to be a better blog-reader. I am better at commenting using twitter, but there is still the issue of getting past comment validation systems on a phone. Still a point to work on as I have loved all the great comments I’ve recieved this week.

retro recipes

  • I am going to explore new recipes. I only made 5 recipes as part of my retro recipe plan, but they were all great dishes that I know I will return to. I will carry on trying the classic recipes, but found it tricky this year with my wrists bandaged up.

I think I had a pretty good go at those plans, but the main change has been my attitude to my crafting; more planning and precision has led to more successes. If you want to read my plans for 2014 you can see them here.

Thank you so much to everyone who has been reading and commenting this year 🙂 Hope you have a fantastic new year and I’ll see you in 2014!


Quick cosy crafting

I have been struggling to keep my eyes open this week and haven’t been awake and out of work long enough to edit the photos of my weekend baking, so instead here is a quick picture of the only crafting I’ve managed to do.
Take one favourite over-sized cardigan that accidentally got in the washing machine, shrunk and felted, and has been in a “I can’t throw this away so will do something with it” pile for almost a year. Fold the sleeves in and the top down, blanket-stitch along the edges and fill with a cushion. Easy-peasy and makes a cosy place to rest your head for a nap.

Plans and goals for 2013

I have just the one row of scallops (and darning in ends on some squares, I had to sew them together first as they were taking up too much/all of my floor space) so fingers-crossed I will be able to take some proper pictures tomorrow.


In the meantime I thought I should get up and stop sitting around in my pjs (just one more row of crochet is currently a couple of hours!) so here are my crafty plans for the year. The first few goals are what I submitted for the sewlution I posted on Karen’s blog – she is going to check we keep them at the end of the year – and the rest will have to be checked by my lovely readers.

  • I am going to make less but what I make will be better. I’m specifically thinking of seam finishes, precise measuring and cutting, perfect fitting. I have enough cheap and cheerful tops I have made and worn but some of the most recent ones are starting to look shabby – it is okay to make a few fun tops in a crazy print but, after jumping on the blogging bandwagon and reading Overdressed, I think my wardrobe should be built to last. I want to make a proper winter coat by the end of the year and make more hand-knitted items.
  • I will not need to be so sentimental and protective of my creations. If I don’t have a wearable garment I will still have enjoyed myself and learned skills, so I need to stop being so protective of the unwearable garments and actually turn them into something else! At school one of the current trends is how children view learning – do they feel success when they have got 10/10 or is the challenge and learning experience more important for them? Which is more important – the finished garment, or the lessons learned in the process?
  • I will finish what I have started (or get rid of it/recycle it). (see above) At the moment I have 2 blouses, a skirt and some jeans cut and partially made – the jeans were left until I lost a bit of weight before fitting them, the skirt went horribly wrong (how can 2 makes with the same pattern differ so much?!) and the blouses have slight sleeve fitting issues. No wonder my pin-cushion looks rather empty!
  • I will do some of the Craftsy courses I have signed up for! This year I did the Couture Dress and Jeanius courses and they were amazing and I learned SO much. I have other courses lined up in my account that I need to find time to do, plus I have lots of techniques in my pile of Threads magazines and books waiting to be used.
  • I really want to make bunting! I’m very surprised I haven’t actually made any yet, so this year I will get around to making some to jazz up my little flat. I have some crochet books that could be perfect for making little things to hang on garlands, or I could recycle and reuse all the fabric/projects going spare.
  • I am going to learn to take better pictures. The blogs I love reading are the ones with great pictures, and I want that to be true for this little crafty place. I think my pictures have improved, but they are not always as good as they could be, so I am going to learn to use all the settings on my camera properly and make the most of natural light. I suppose I should include taking better action shots.
  • I am going to be a better blog-reader. I LOVE reading comments from readers on my blog but I am not great at commenting on other blogs. I catch up on blogs on my reader apps on my phone or iPad, but there is no comment option on them, and by the time I have got home via the supermarket and made dinner etc then I have forgotten what and where I wanted to comment! I am going to try to star the blogs I want to comment on so I remember when I get home and can have a comment session, however I am finding some blog platforms wont let me comment from the iPad – if anyone has any apps to help me keep in touch please let me know.
  • I am going to explore new recipes. When I say new I mean new-to-me. I acquired some of my Grandma’s old recipe books but haven’t tried any of the recipes yet. Instead of looking online for recipe ideas I will look for inspiration in books! In my snazzy blog button you can see my Grandma’s old red binder (full of cuttings and handwritten recipes) and The Radiation Cookery Book (the 35th edition printed in January 1949, designed for fancy new gas ovens!)

retro recipes


Birthday Butterfly Reveal

Could you tell what I was making with my butterfly fabric last week?
Pictured is a very tatty Burda Sadie pattern which has been adapted many times to create endless variations of a simple t-shirt. Last year I added a full length skirt to create a summer maxi-dress, but I thought the lovely butterfly fabric needed something a bit more special.
I drew around the existing pattern (in green above) and then used my french curves to change the neckline to a v-neck, and create little cap-sleeves.

The sleeves turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself, and I think I will use this again if I need/want to make short-sleeved tops. I also played with the waist-line to make a feature of where the top would join the skirt (with flat piping around the seams – not quite so easy in jersey). The waist is lower than I planned, due to the effects of stretch/gravity, but I couldn’t face undoing all that piping to adjust it (maybe I can make some gathered or pleated waistband details?)

I finished all the seams with contrast bands in a deep inky purple I had left in my stash (which means it perfectly matches a shrug I made with the same fabric). The shape and depth of the neckline is pretty spot-on, and has an applique facing (inspired by an article in Threads this month) which was much easier to get the shape right than by using bias-strips.

I also discovered a new potentially-embarassing-if-neighbours-walk-past posing-spot in the stairwell of my building, but since it was late at night I decided the risk was worth it. I was on my way back from birthday celebrations at the Southbank where we bumped into this character..

Big Ben Wenlock

I think one of my summer holiday activities will be to track down as many Olympic mascots as I can – I have been told that there is a Wenlock/Mandeville decorated like a phonebox near St Paul’s.

Stitches and sutures

Urgh! Not another cold/sore throat/cough/flu! Luckily there is a slight silver-lining – a day off work and 5 hours a night awake sat on the sofa means I have plenty of time for hand sewing. This means a lot of progress on my dress (expect a final round-up tomorrow!) and finally giving a special someone some much needed medical attention.

***WARNING*** The rest of this post contains gruesome medical details that some readers may find unsettling***

Due to the effects of old age, Percival the penguin has been in need of some reverse-liposuction for a year or so, but due to waiting lists on the NHS he has had quite a long wait for treatment.


But yesterday the wait was over. After a small dose of anaesthetic, a small incision was made on his back and medical-grade implants were inserted to his head, body and neck, before the opening was sewn shut. To aid his recovery, Percival then received a short course of deep-tissue massage therapy, which has been proven to reduce the risk of rejection of the implants.


He seems to be recovering well, and now needs to wait for his stitches to heal before he can have a sponge bath (a camera phone flash seems to do wonders for his complexion).