Another Coco, a new skirt and a confession

I have to confess to failing to finish the Brighton Pavilion dress mentioned in my last post. I’m still trying to decide whether to sign up for Me-Made-May before the end of tomorrow and I will need that dress if I’m going to be able to get through a whole month wearing handmade items! If I was Hila over at Saturday Night Stitch with a fabulous new blazer I would be a lot happier.

Whilst sorting through my fabric stash for suitable leftovers for my Morsbag challenge I came across several pieces of dressmaking fabric that had been hanging around for a while. One of them, which I think came from Ditto, is some kind of stretch fabric but not a jersey, it feels a bit more like a thin neoprene to be honest! There wasn’t quite enough for Simplicity 2655 (which is a favourite of mine) so I had to make the facing from a small piece of brown polka dot fabric and my overall pattern matching wasn’t brilliant due partly to the limited amount of fabric and partly to a lack of attention to detail. The overall effect is OK and the design is so bright this will hopefully distract anyone from noticing the pattern matching.

Talking of bright colours, I recently popped into The Cotton Wool Store in Petworth and bought some bright green jersey fabric to make another Coco top. I’m not sure what has come over me recently because I’m not usually seen in bright colours or prints but I seem to have had a complete about turn recently. The top is not yet hemmed but I’ve managed to use another piece of lovely Liberty bias binding for the neckline and I was so pleased with the cuffs on the previous version that I’ve used them again. I think they finish the sleeve off beautifully and they are so simple to do.

On the day I was there The Cotton Wool Store was also holding a sale in the town hall and I just couldn’t resist a visit. I picked up two metres of this amazing silk for £8. It is quite a heavy fabric and the flower pattern looks like it has been printed onto the surface with gold paint. I’m planning a very simple evening skirt.  I think that with the very stiff nature of the fabric a dress or top would make me look like a cardboard cut out!

Fabulous Fabric

On the Morsbags front, the current tally is :

  • Bags made : 10
  • Bags given away : 9
  • Bags still to make : 10

After the trapped pin incident on the first bag I decided to secure the handles in place with a small piece of double sided sticky tape before sewing which was very successful.

All the recipients so far seem to have been delighted and I hope all the bags are being put to good use.

An Unfinished Dress

I’ve been trying to work out just how long ago I started this dress and I think it might be four years! I made an earlier version of it in a floral fabric which turned out beautifully and I have worn it so much. All that needs doing to this one is some slip stitching at the shoulders where I’ve turned the lining through and hemming.  Unfortunately I couldn’t work out how the lining attaches to the main fabric along the hemline split (I was doing a sewing class when I finished the last one so had some help) and as a result it has ended up at the bottom of the pile. I’ve now had another look at it and I think because I didn’t have quite enough of the lining fabric (a lovely fine lawn) I had to cut it rather short which means that I can use this as an excuse not to finish it according to the pattern and just finish the split neatly and hem each layer separately. I did pull a loose thread which unravelled some of the understitching around the neckline.  This obviously hadn’t been finished properly so that will also need to be dealt with. The pattern is a Butterick See & Sew and I’m not sure how the envelope got so battered! The jacket is very definitely not my style but the dress is a lovely shape with princess seams and I adapted the pattern slightly on the hips for a really good fit. The fabric is a bit loud but I rather like it! The images are Brighton Pavilion and the fabric came from Ditto in Kensington Gardens in Brighton which is very appropriate.

I am going to make this a project for the weekend so it is ready to wear for the summer. I have finished my first two Morsbags and will be giving one away to a friend this afternoon. I sewed the label on the plain side of the one with blue boats so it was visible but now I wish I’d put it on the side with the patterned fabric as this is more likely to be on show. The floral/stripy image is the reverse of the first image and was constructed from three different fabrics.

The second one will be handed over tomorrow and I’ll then get on with the rest (eighteen to go).

A Savoury Flapjack

As my blog title mentions baking I thought it was time I got on with some! These savoury flapjacks are so quick and easy to make and are perfect for snacks, lunchboxes, picnics and last night they went very well with some homemade lentil and vegetable soup.

  • 125g oats
  • 50g seeds (I used a mixture of pumpkin and sunflower seeds and some leftover pine kernels but you could also use sesame seeds or even chopped nuts)
  • Pinch of mustard powder
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 100g grated cheese (use a mature cheddar for plenty of flavour)
  • 75g butter
  • 1 free range egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons milk (I used almond because that’s what I had but any milk will do)

Pre-heat oven to Fan 170° and line a 20 cm square baking tin with baking parchment. A good non-stick tin would probably be fine without lining but I prefer stress-free removal after baking.

Combine the first five ingredients in a bowl. Melt the butter over a low heat and stir into the dry ingredients with the beaten egg and milk. Stir well and press lightly into the tin.

Bake for 25 minutes or until the top is golden and the surface feels firm. Allow to cool and settle in the tin before removing and cutting into bars or squares. As you will see from the photo, the flapjack is quite thin. I have made it before with double the quantity in the same size tin to make a chunkier version, adjusting the cooking time accordingly.

I have no idea how long these would keep in the fridge because they have always disappeared in a few hours!

You could make the flapjacks gluten free by using gluten free oats. Talking of gluten free baking, check out these amazing chocolate brownies made by Kyrie. They look absolutely delicious!

Morsbag Update

There has been good progress on the Morsbags production front over the weekend. I’ve now cut out 20 bags and the handles are all stitched.

I strayed from the pattern on the website slightly for the construction of the handle and just ironed in a hem along each long edge, folded the handle in half and stitched along each edge. There is a tip in another video on the website to use a postcard to measure in from each side of the bag to position the handles which works really well. I’ve got one bag ready and waiting for the Morsbags labels which will hopefully arrive tomorrow.

I’ve really enjoyed a rather more casual approach to sewing. I usually tend to be a bit too fussy and careful but I’ve thrown caution to the wind and apart from a couple of pins to hold the handles in place there has been no pattern matching, pinning, tacking or unpicking! There has been lots of high speed straight (or reasonably straight) stitching and no worrying if things went a bit wonky. Unfortunately I did forget about the only two pins I did use and ended up trapping them inside the folded over handle. Thankfully I managed to poke them out without having to unpick!

I’m most pleased with the bags where I have used two or more smaller pieces of fabric which I’ve joined together. These pieces would never have been used otherwise and were just taking up space. There will be more photos as the bags come together.

A Morsebag Challenge

I have been looking for a project to motivate me in my creative activities and I noticed when choosing my bedtime listening the other day that there was a Woman’s Hour broadcast entitled “A Celebration of Craft”. One of the items featured Claire Morsman who set up Morsbags to encourage people to make fabric bags and distribute them for free to try and reduce the proliferation of plastic bags.

Claire had completed a challenge to make a bag a day during March so I decided I would challenge myself to sort out all the non-dressmaking fabric lurking under the table in my work room and create some bags. There are full instructions on the website, including a short video.

Where did all this fabric come from? Offcuts from curtains, samples, gifts from people who thought I might be able to “do something with it”, over-enthusiasm at the cutting table when IKEA opened in Southampton and, mainly, leftovers from previous bag and cushion making activities where I have bought far more than was actually required!  Here’s one I prepared earlier.

I also have some offcuts of the reprinted Lucienne Day fabric, Calyx, which I was given. I might use some on one or two Morsbags so whoever gets those will be very lucky! I wish I could wear this fabric.

IMG_1916Perhaps I could make a skirt? What I am really coveting is this fabric used by Trish at Trish Stitched. It is fabulous.

Claire at Morsbags doesn’t make anything out of the project and just asks that makers sew a Morsbags label onto each bag to help spread the word. These only cost 5p each and I have ordered 20 to get me started. They won’t arrive until next week as Claire is currently away. She didn’t know when the programme would be broadcast and has been inundated with enquiries which is great.

I’ve decided to cut out all 20 bags before the labels arrive and last night I did seven. I’m determined to use up some of the smaller pieces of fabric so some time will be taken up joining these together. The bag is a bit larger than I had imagined and will certainly hold plenty of shopping.

Here’s some of the first batch awaiting construction.


 I’ll let you know how I get on.   Thanks to those of you who liked and commented on my last post. I can’t really get my head round the fact that people actually look at what I write!






A new Coco top

I have always had a fondness for anything striped, not just clothing but curtains, cushions, ribbon, wrapping paper, bed linen, just about anything really!

However, after my latest making of a Coco Breton top from Tilly and the Buttons using this fabric from The Eternal Maker in Chichester, I have decided to leave stripes alone for a while.  I think I’ll stick with plains and patterns which are too complicated to worry about matching. All went well until I came to the sleeves. Having already unpicked one sleeve because the stripes didn’t match up well enough on the seam I discovered when I came to hem the sleeves that they didn’t match there either! I couldn’t face any more unpicking but thankfully the pattern includes a cuff. I decided to cut this out with the stripe running in the opposite direction and this was pretty effective at disguising the problem. I had intended to have a funnel neck but I didn’t have quite enough fabric and I’m not convinced by the pattern which suggests just turning the edge under on the neckline.   I’ve had this Liberty binding for ages so I decided to use it to finish off the neckline and the hem which I think worked quite well.

It seems like spring might finally be here and my parents’ garden is overrun with grape hyacinths. I love these little flowers and I see that Winnie from Scruffy Badger Time has printed her own fabric with an image of these from her garden. It looks fabulous and I look forward to seeing what she makes from it.