Book Giveaway

A very quick post today – apologies for the rather poor quality photographs but it was very gloomy first thing this morning!

Whilst looking for something else in a cupboard yesterday I came across this book and remembered that I have two copies, one I bought myself and one was given to me as a gift.


It is a lovely book which follows the history of the floral frock from the 1920s to the 1980s and there are some beautiful images of the dresses displayed both on mannequins and on some very glamorous models.  I particularly like the photographs contributed by some of the actual owners over the decades.  The close-up images of vintage fabrics are also inspiring.

I thought I’d give the second copy away to someone who would like to add it to their collection – it is perfect for anyone with a passion for vintage dresses.

Just leave a comment below and your name will go into the hat, with the winner being drawn sometime after midnight on Monday 7 December.  I’ll send it straight out so the lucky winner should get it before Christmas!

Shopping in Lyme Regis

Thank you to everyone for all the lovely comments on my last blog post which celebrated one year of Jane Makes.  The delay in responding to them was the result of being in Lyme Regis for a few days – a really lovely place but slightly lacking in phone signal and access to the internet!

My second ever blog post was all about a visit to Lyme Regis and it was great to be back exactly one year later.

On the way there we stopped off in Dorchester to stock up on essentials – wine, cheese, fruit and skis!  Yes, W spotted some skis in a sale so for the rest of the journey they were wedged in just over my right shoulder.


He is looking very pleased with himself.  All he needs now is some snow!

We were pretty lucky with the weather over the weekend, although it was VERY windy on the Saturday morning.  My friend and I were so deep in conversation as we walked out along the Cobb that we hadn’t noticed how bad it was until we stopped to look at the view.  We didn’t stay long enough to take a photograph!

I did manage some shots of this almost deserted beach in the sunshine.  There were some VERY brave swimmers in the water at one point!

On to more important things.  Lyme has some great shops and since our last visit several new independents have moved in.  This gave me the chance to continue with my pledge to do all my festive shopping in independent stores.  Here’s where I went.

The Writing Room.  Their website is coming shortly but in the meantime they are on Facebook here.  The owner is Janis Lane who is a writer but it was her husband, Rob, who was on duty on Sunday.  The tiny but beautifully presented shop stocks a range of very tempting stationery including fabric covered notebooks, fountain pens, cards and ink stamps as well as some vintage finds.

Some of us were in here for ages trying out pens and spending our money.  W peered in through the window from time to time wondering what we were up to!  One of my purchases was this little rabbit (or possibly hare) stamp. I’m a sucker for anything rabbit-related.

Next stop was Sew La Di Da Vintage in Broad Street.  The owner is certainly a character, not least because of her amazing hair!   Caroline also runs a sewing school in the nearby Town Mill development and has her own range of vintage-style sewing patterns.  Her latest project is The Doll Collective, a collection of fabric dolls in kit form for you to sew and dress in vintage clothing!  The first up is Lou Lou and she’s already had her first photoshoot which you can see here.  There’s no mention of the kits on the website at the moment as far as I can see but the packing and presentation is really smart.  Each kit comes with the pre-printed fabric for the doll, a tiny pattern for the dress and a pack of pretty decorative bits and pieces.  She even has her own fabric ‘fox’ fur!  I didn’t get a photograph of Lou Lou without her frock but she is printed with all her underwear, including stockings!

The kits weren’t on sale when we visited but I did come away with some new sewing shears.  I’d seen these before on Portia’s blog over at Makery and really liked their vintage look.  They also cut beautifully so I’m looking forward to using them on my next make.  You can see my little scissors badge from MIY Collection in the background!

Further up the hill is Ryder & Hinks with its vintage shop front.

The company are interior designers and I think this is their first foray into retail.  They sell an eclectic selection of things from dustpans to succulent plants.  I was tempted by a leather iPhone cover with a very fancy cable but decided it was a bit extravagant.  I did buy some lovely mohair socks as a birthday present for the friend we were staying with and a book with tear out sheets of beautifully printed Japanese papers.

My final shopping trip was to The Natural Fabric Store which is just outside Lyme in an old petrol station.  The redundant petrol pumps are still out the front.   The Rousdon Village Bakery is right next door – very handy as they serve coffee for people not interested in fabric.  I know, who would believe such people could exist?!

The owner, Lucy, was away but the person looking after the store was very friendly.  We had previously spotted her designs in another Lyme store owned by her sister but unfortunately I can’t remember its name.  The fabric stock isn’t extensive but is all great quality – mainly denims, linens and wools.  I was really looking for something for another casual Laurel dress but somehow came away with a metre of the purple boiled wool you can see in the bottom right of the picture below.  It was rather extravagant but it is absolutely divine.  I wish now that I’d splashed out on something like this for my boiled wool cardigan as I think it would have turned out more like I’d hoped.

The shop stocks Merchant & Mills patterns and having looked at these more closely I’m quite tempted by the Strand coat, not least because it has a side pocket AND and an in-seam pocket in the waist seam.

Whilst the store doesn’t run classes, there is the opportunity to hire the machines on the big cutting table by the hour – by yourself or bring your friends along.   There are some really heavy duty machines there.  Lucy says on the website that she is on hand to help out if you need her – either with your sewing or getting a coffee from the bakery.  There were some seriously good looking brownies in there when we visited and the croissants are the size of a small loaf!

I think that was it on the shopping front!  The rest of the time was spent walking, chatting, eating and drinking wine/local beer!



Blog Birthday!

I can hardly believe it but Jane Makes is one year old today!


I’d been a sewing blog follower for ages but had never got my act together to start one myself.  That all changed when Kyrie from Kyrie in Kalamityland arrived in our office and set me up on WordPress within five minutes of me suggesting I might like to start a blog!  All I can say is ….

Thank you Kyrie!

I’d just got going when my mother managed to fall and shatter her ankle just after last Christmas which meant she could only hop until it healed! Anything creative went right out of the window and there was a three-month gap in my blogging activities while we got her back on both feet.  She’s a serial bone breaker in the winter so is being encased in bubble wrap from 1 December as a precaution.  My temporary involvement with commodes is not something I want to repeat in a hurry!

Whilst it might be going a bit far to say that having a sewing blog has changed my life it has certainly had a positive impact on it.

I think one of the main benefits for me is becoming part of the blogging community.  It is inspiring to have contact with so many creative people online and meeting them in person is even better.  The first meet up of the new formed sewbees, a group of sewists based on or near the south coast, is taking place on 28th November which is SO exciting!

The need to have something to write about also encourages/forces me to get on and make something rather than sitting around thinking about it. Signing up to Me-Made-May this year was also a big motivator as was The Refashioners 2015 which really pushed me to try something new.  Back at the start of JaneMakes, although I’d been sewing on and off for a while, the main thing holding me back was a zip phobia which meant my options were limited unless I had appropriate supervision!  I then bought Tilly’s Love at First Stitch, followed her instructions for inserting a concealed zip, and I was away!  I can’t believe something I now find relatively straightforward  had been restricting me for so long!

I’m still in awe of what so many of you create and I’m planning to push myself a bit harder over the next year.  I had planned to make a pair of trousers but given that I never wear them – what would be the point?!  My next real challenge is mastering the scary overlocker!

This post is a bit image light so I’m including this gif which W spotted on Twitter.   I always thought the sewing machine worked by magic but it turns out that isn’t the case!


A big thank you to everyone who takes the time to read (and comment on) this blog.  It really is good to know you!

PS : The original intention was for this to be a sewing and baking blog but the baking seems to have taken a back seat.  The problem with baking is that the outcome has to be eaten and we do have W’s waistline to think about!


A Woolly Tale

I have spent the last few evenings wiping up berry coloured fluff from almost every surface in my house!  I suspect it will be like glitter from Christmas cards and be appearing here and there for weeks!

What have I been doing?  A while ago I bought some lovely green boiled wool from Ditto Fabrics with no particular project in mind.  I pre-washed it and it firmed up a bit more than I was expecting so I decided that rather than make a skirt I would try an unstructured cardigan/jacket type of thing.

I found this Vogue pattern and was swayed by the fact that it was made up in fabric of almost the same shade of green.

Boiled wool cardigan

I’m not sure I’m particularly taken with the needle felted version on the left!

I then discovered I didn’t have quite enough of the green fabric!  Having forked out on a Vogue pattern I looked around for alternative boiled wools.  I found this one from Clothspot which wasn’t quite as expensive as some of the others I looked at and is the most glorious berry colour.  I decided against pre-washing it and just steamed it vigorously before cutting out.

I recently purchased some Swedish Tracing Paper on the recommendation of Portia over at Makery.  This is amazing stuff which can be used for tracing off patterns and making toiles.  One of the advantages is that it is 1m wide so there’s no sticking together of bits of tracing paper that aren’t quite big enough!  It doesn’t tear easily (except when you catch the edge of the arm hole on the corner of the table and pull it hard!) and sews very well.  Here’s my toile which I cut in the smallest size.

The jacket is a VERY simple construction and I sewed up the toile in no time at all.  The rather surgical looking stitching on the sleeve is a dart which you construct by removing a triangle of fabric and zig-zagging the flat cut edges together.  The stand up ‘collar’ is cleverly created by a row of top stitching on either side of the top section of the shoulder seam.

This is not a fitted garment so I continued to the main event in the same size without any adjustments.  I’d read that sewing with boiled wool could be tricky and it was best to use a ballpoint needle.  I just used the needle already in the machine and it sewed beautifully, even the top stitching.  I did think about trying to temporarily stabilise the cut fabric from behind for the sleeve dart before I sewed it but in the end I just pinned across the cut to hold it together and sewed very slowly.  I ended up with a small gap where I went a bit off piste so sewed over the whole thing a second time.  I had thought of doing this anyway as I wasn’t convinced it would hold together in the long term.  By the time I did the second sleeve it was getting late so I just whizzed straight down the dart without pinning or extreme caution and it was perfect!

The sleeves went in really easily with no easing required.  I appear to have limited spacial awareness and every time I set in a sleeve I have to put the garment on Doris to work out how it should go together!

Boiled wool means there is no finishing to be done to seams or hems and you can make this jacket in no time at all EXCEPT

I put on the finished garment, looked in the mirror and was underwhelmed.  I went downstairs and W’s expression was definitely not encouraging.  It did absolutely nothing for me.  This is what I didn’t like and what I did to resolve it :

  • The back is intentionally longer than the front and maybe I missed something in the construction but it just looked wrong.  I was a bit concerned about this when I made the toile but decided it would be OK in the actual fabric.  SOLUTION : I chopped it off level.
  • The sleeves were too long.   SOLUTION : I chopped off a couple of inches.
  • The sleeves were too full.  SOLUTION : I took them in, starting at 1.5 inches at the cuff and tapering in to the underarm.
  • The unfinished side seams just looked untidy.   SOLUTION : I top stitched them either side of the seam and trimmed them back to the stitching to match the collar seam.
  • The back of the collar area made me look like Quasimodo.  SOLUTION : I used the same process as the sleeve dart.  I measured out an equal distance from the centre of the back and marked a long triangular shape around five inches long.  I chopped this out and zig-zagged the edges together.
  • The collar and front were just too floppy and looked scruffy.  This was really the fundamental problem.  SOLUTION : I decided to zig zag round all the edges to give a firmer finish.  This negated all the benefits of using boiled wool and not having to finish hems etc. but I wasn’t giving up on this make because I really like the fabric.   Apart from the fluff which is produced every time you so much as show it the scissors and it also appears to have turned my sewing machine pink!

At the end of the whole process I realised how much more confident I am than just a few months ago when I would have just abandoned the project in despair.  I certainly wouldn’t have chopped a chunk of fabric out of something in such a cavalier manner!

Here’s the final outcome.  I have to say that I’ve accepted that such an unstructured shape is not really for me and I’m not entirely sure what I will wear it with but we are a lot further forward from W’s dubious look the other evening and I think I will give it a go.

Just spotted a thread that needs trimming on that sleeve but hopefully the picture shows how relatively invisible the sleeve dart is.  And try as I might there is no way that the jacket will drape in a waterfall fashion at the front like it does on the pattern image!




In my last post I announced my eschewing of RTW clothing but also mentioned that I may not be quite so self-controlled when it comes to buying fabric.  Josie at the Fabric Godmother held her second open day on Saturday and the temptation was almost overwhelming!  The place was bursting at the seams with an fabulous array of fabrics (and sewists) and there was some serious swooning going on!

One of my main reasons for going along was to meet up with Becky from springystitches.  I’ve been following Becky’s blog for some while and she was one of my original inspirations.  She was as lovely in real life as I thought she would be and she was wearing this very dress on Saturday.  Given the amazing choice I think we were both pretty restrained.  I had planned in advance to buy some of this mustard denim and I wasn’t disappointed.  It is great quality and I think may become another Brumby skirt.

I really love the shape of this skirt which I have previously made in grey denim but the fabric is just a bit too stiff and I feel rather like I’m wearing a cardboard skirt!  I also failed to master the exposed zip the first time round so there is unfinished business here.

Becky and I both homed in on the Venice Modal and Silk Jersey which is the softest, smoothest fabric ever!  I went for the Plum.  The picture on the website doesn’t really do it justice and I’m not sure my own picture does either.  It is so silky I suspect it will shown every bump so will have to be made into something drapey.  I certainly won’t be using it for my first overlocker project, I have something very cheap and cheerful for that!


That was it for me – just two purchases (plus some matching thread) but there were several other fabrics I had a good look at which may end up being ordered online.

On our way to Hove we decided to call into Emmaus in Portslade.  Emmaus is a world-wide organisation which enables people to move on from homelessness into a supportive community.  The residents are known as Companions and work full time collecting and reselling donated items.  Our first experience of Emmaus was in France where we visited an enormous complex with room after room piled high with crockery, glassware, pictures, books, fabrics, tools and, most incredibly, complete sets of 1950s kitchen units! I do sometimes regret that I didn’t buy some of the French linens which were considerably cheaper than I’ve seen them elsewhere.  Another time perhaps.

The set up in Portslade is much smaller with a shop, a café and a garden centre.  There was some promising looking vintage clothing and a really beautiful art deco cabinet but what we actually came away with was a pair of vintage motorcycling goggles for W!  I hope you’re ready for this photograph.

You may be able to make out some writing on the box in blue biro which reads “glaze this area only”.  Someone has obviously had the goggles glazed with their own prescription lenses and what is amazing is that this appears to match W’s own prescription.  He’s thinking of making use of them on the ski slopes this season.   He’ll certainly attract some attention!



Seasonal Change

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been packing away my summer clothes to make room for autumn/winter wear. This activity has made me realise that only two new RTW items have been added to my wardrobe since the beginning of the season when I signed up to this year’s Me-Made-May.  It was pretty satisfying to see how many me-made clothes I was putting in my bag when we went away recently.

In case you were wondering, the little handmade lavender bag on the right is a prototype. There are more to be made.

One of the two RTW items was a lightweight cream cotton sweater which I have made a lot of use of but the first time I wore it a seagull landed an enormous poo on the sleeve!!  I think it must have been a sign!

On reflection I don’t think I actually made a conscious decision to change my shopping habits, I’ve just gradually realised that I feel much more comfortable wearing things I’ve made myself. I often find myself rejecting outfits when I realise they don’t contain anything me-made.  I do still buy underwear (I’ve not yet attempted me-made underpinnings yet) and shoes (apart from my handmade espadrilles).

My venture into refashioning as a result of this year’s Refashioners meant that I started spending more time in charity shops looking for suitable men’s shirts to dismantle and this has led to some great finds – and not just shirts.  These have mostly been for W but I have just acquired a Cerruti 1881 black coat (100% wool) in great condition which has avoided an expensive investment in a new winter coat.  Doris looks great in it, I just need to turn the sleeves up.

I have more than enough fabric in stock to make clothes to see me through this winter, although strangely I don’t seem to have quite the same level of self-control in fabric shops as I do in ones selling clothes!  Online offerings are also a huge temptation.  Over the last few days almost every glance at Instagram leads me astray and I ordered this lovely Japanese Selvedge Denim from The Fabric Godmother.  It really is gorgeous.  I have to confess I didn’t really know what selvedge denim was and bought it because I really liked the slub finish.  Now I’ve read all about it I shall have to see how best to incorporate the selvedge into whatever I make.

Given the earlier reference to autumn I thought I’d finish with a collage of some of the pictures I took in the Cotswolds recently focusing on that theme.  It seemed a shame not to make use of them!