#stitchingsanta Reveal

I hope you all enjoyed the festive break whatever you were doing to celebrate.


I blogged here previously about this year’s #stitchingsanta organised by Sheila of Sewchet and there are now lots of reveals appearing as everyone shares what was in the parcels they sent out and received!

My recipient was Sharon over at Creativity and Family and I feel I know her really well having studied her blog in so much detail! She is a very creative lady with a lovely family and I was really pleased to be putting together some gifts for her

On the making front I thought that one of Zoe’s Anya bags would be a perfect gift.  I’ve already blogged here about the first one I made as part of the pattern testing process.  I went on to make a second one as a Christmas present for the lovely lady who helps my parents ….

This one is made from a curtain remnant and has a grey and white polka dot lining.

For Sharon’s version I decided  to use another floral fabric.  The pretty fabric I had was slightly too lightweight for the outer part of the bag so I strengthened it with a layer of interfacing which seemed to do the trick. I went for another polka dot lining and decided to make a small zipped purse with the spotty fabric – this time with a striped lining.  The design was from a Simply Sewing magazine giveaway earlier in the year and the pleat matched the Anya bag.

I then found a tiny zip in my collection so made an even smaller zipped purse, this time with the stripes on the outside. My final make for Sharon was a little lavender bag using the lavender flowers from my friend’s French garden.   Almost the final make …. I had a big padded envelope to send the gifts in but I wanted something to hold them all together.  Enter some very heavyweight calico that had previously defeated my sewing machine but this time I managed to sew up a quick sack which I tied at the top with a ribbon.

I nearly forgot to mention what I actually bought for Sharon!  She has such a wide range of crafting interests so it was quite tricky to choose but in the end I bought her some pom pom makers.  I also forgot to take a photograph before I wrapped them but I have some and they are brilliant!  I also chose some yarn for felting in lovely shades of purple/mauve as I know Sharon enjoys felting – again no photograph!

Here’s (nearly) everything before it was wrapped …..

And ready to go in the post …..


It’s quite nerve-racking choosing gifts for someone you have never met but I was relieved to read her latest blog post – she certainly seemed pleased with everything.

When my own parcel arrived I was very good and hid it away until Christmas Day. When I came to open it I was SO pleased to see that it was from Beth of After Dark Sewing. I’ve been following Beth’s blog for a while and she was the winner of my recent fabric giveaway.

The contents of the parcel were beautifully wrapped – like fabric origami.  I love this fabric! I may use it for a zipped purse but am also tempted to use it as a pocket lining with a plain fabric. We’ll see.

This little brooch is just perfect. I love anything in miniature and this has tiny scissors, safety pin, sewing machine, mannequin and my initial. The brooch was in a little drawstring bag with some pot pourri which I’ve been carrying round in my handbag it smells so amazing!

Beth also sent me this pattern which has lots of options. Having said previously that I never wear trousers I can imagine making these in a lovely linen. I think I’ll get plenty of use from this pattern for next spring and summer.


Next up was a sweet little lined zipped purse filled with chocolate coins. Did I mention I like small things?  Finally there were some pretty magnets for tethering all those important things on the fridge.

Such lovely presents – thank you Beth and thank you Sheila for organising #stitchingsanta.

Happy New Year!

It’s A Wrap!

I had so many plans for innovative Christmas wrapping this year including making some cornstarch dough labels I’d seen on Pinterest.  HA HA HA!   In the end I only just managed to get my cards in the post by the final posting date!

What I did achieve was around an 85% success rate with my pledge to restrict present buying to local or independent shops.  This was assisted by the shopping opportunities around Tewkesbury and Lyme Regis, a trip to London with W’s girls and and couple of vintage fairs.    Clothkits in Chichester was the source of my #stitchingsanta gift.  My own #stitchingsanta parcel has arrived which is very exciting!

I did have to resort to ‘the high street’ for a few things but this year there wasn’t the usual regular arrival of brown cardboard boxes in my office from a well-known online retailer!

Despite the lack of handcrafted cornstarch labels, after two midnight finishes I have finally (almost) completed the gift wrapping.  This is something I really enjoy doing, I just wish I hadn’t left it so late.   I’m a big fan of plain brown paper so stuck with that again this year and invested in a small amount of fancier wrapping paper to brighten things up.   I’ve stuck to red and white spots, checks and stripes for the theme and all the ribbon used will be recycled!

The big fabric bows are from a remnant which I tore into strips – strangely satisfying!

What’s on your Christmas list?  On the sewing front I’ve asked Santa for a walking foot for my sewing machine and a learn to use your overlocker course at The Fabric Godmother!

This will be my last post before Christmas so I hope everyone has a very happy time.  See you in the New Year!



Secret Sewing

A few weeks ago Sheila over at Sewchet announced the launch of this year’s #stitchingsanta.


I decided to take part as I like making presents for people, although there usually comes a point as the festive season looms closer when I decide I must be mad!  In my previous job I had quite a large team and, as we worked in a creative environment, handmade gifts seemed particularly appropriate.  One year I knitted at least a dozen scarves and the next I made a similar number of fabric bags!  What was I thinking??

There were two categories to choose from for the #stitchingsanta, sewing or knitting/crochet.  I picked sewing.  There’s a spending limit of £10 in terms of any purchased gift but looking back at blog reports of last year’s efforts there seems to be no limit in terms of the number of gifts that you choose to make to accompany it!

Once I received details of my recipient I spent some time reading (stalking) her blog to check out her tastes.  I did notice a day on my blog stats around the same time when there was suddenly a large number of views against a much smaller number of visitors.  I suspect someone may have been carrying out a similar investigation!

My recipient has quite a wide range of crafting interests which made it difficult to know what to buy but I found something I hope she’ll enjoy using.  I’m not going to reveal any more about the handmade contents of the parcel I posted off yesterday other than to say that it might just contain another Anya Bag!  As you can see I’m going for red accessories for my gift wrapping this year – stripes, checks and polka dots!  I kept these ones quite simple as they’ll probably get a bit squished in the post.


I hope she likes her #stitchingsanta presents and I’ll reveal all after Christmas!

And today’s winner is ……

Thanks to everyone who commented on the book giveaway post – I wish I had a copy for all of you!


The names went into W’s panama hat and the one that came out was Gill’s from Vintagerockchick.  The book is now wrapped up and ready to post.

Gill, if you’d like to email me your address at janeybmakes@gmail.com I’ll send it to you straightaway so it gets there before Christmas.

Sewing Friends

I always say that one of the best things about writing a sewing blog is becoming part of an huge sewing community. Even better is that sometimes you get to actually meet up with some of those people and make great new friends.

Last Saturday was the inaugural meeting of the Sew Bees, a small group of sewing bloggers based along the south coast.  I had already met two of the members, one on each of this year’s open days at The Fabric Godmother.

Springystitches and Clarinda Kaleidoscope are both lovely and write really great blogs which I’ve been following for a while. Clarinda (who I’ve also met up with for lunch) provided the best photograph of the day.  Thank you!  W thinks it is funny that I have ended up framed by the security thingy and am rather in the spotlight, something I would normally avoid.Sew Bees

The lovely Sew Bees in the picture (l to r) starting from the person immediately next to me are :

Seamsoddlouise, butterfliesandlemondrops, Clarindakaleidoscope, springystitches, Daisy Creates in Sussex

We all met up in Brighton at the excellent Ditto Fabrics in Kensington Gardens.  Gill, the owner, has been running Ditto since 1983 and has an encyclopedic knowledge of fabrics.  She was so welcoming and I think we all learned something new.  She even set fire to two pieces of fabric, one real wool and one a synthetic version to show us how to distinguish between them – the burned edge of the wool fabric will stay smooth while the other will be rough and bobbly.   We also found out that the term ‘ponte Roma’ can be used to describe a whole range of jersey fabrics and it is important to ensure that you are buying the real deal – which has a great drape and feel.

The shop is quite small but the range of fabric is amazing and we were in there for ages – no-one emerged empty handed!  Here’s just a tiny selection of what’s on offer together with my haul for the day.

Top to bottom we have :

  • Purple denim with a bit of stretch.  This is destined for another Colette Laurel dress and was a very popular choice, going into the shopping bags of two other Sew Bees!  The chambray Laurel I made a while ago has become my go-to dress and I know I’ll make good use of another one.
  • Blue jersey.  This fabric has a great texture but I’m not sure what I’m going to make with it yet.
  • Heavyweight jersey with a subtle diamond pattern.  This is a lovely fabric which may become my first Coco dress (I’ve got a pile of Coco tops but have never made the dress).
  • Red patterned wool.  This fabric is fabulous!  It’s really substantial so I’ll probably stick with a plain, smart skirt for work to wear with a jacket.

All but the wool are destined for a pre-wash over the weekend.

You may have spotted that I didn’t introduce the person on the far left of the photograph!  Just as we were working our way towards the door to leave Ditto someone walked in all muffled up in a hat and scarf.  We both looked at each other and I realised it was Kate from Fabrikated who I met a few weeks ago at Karen’s Made Up meet up in London.  What a coincidence! Kate had never been to Ditto before but was meeting up with family for lunch in Brighton.  A lovely surprise.

We then headed off to The Manor in Gardner Street for lunch and then on to the Brighton Sewing Centre just round the corner in North Street.  I decided I’d bought quite enough fabric for one day but couldn’t resist one of these sparkly zips and I wasn’t the only one!  I’ve no idea yet what I’m going to use it for but I’m sure something will come up.  The photo doesn’t do it justice.


After this everyone headed home and I popped up the road to see my sister.  It really was a brilliant day and definitely won’t be the last meet up for the Sew Bees.  I don’t think we stopped talking the whole time.  This included the time I spent on the train with SewingSu on the way to Brighton – the first time we’d ever met was when I got on at Chichester.  I knew we’d get on – we were both wearing purple tights!

Testing, Testing ….

As a long time follower of Zoe over at Sozowhatdoyouknow I thought I’d volunteer when she put out a call for testers for her new bag pattern, the Anya.  I was quite excited when she emailed me to say she’d like my help and for once I decided not to leave things to the last minute and got on with it straightaway!

Quoting from Zoe’s blog :

The Anya shoulder bag pattern is a deceptively voluminous, lined shoulder bag with an optional button tab closure which measures up at 38cm (15″) wide and 27cm (10½“) high without the straps. It can be made in a variety of woven fabric, from heavier quilting cottons to upholstery fabric and curtaining. It requires just 80cm (32″) of outer fabric and 65cm (26″) of lining (or less), so it is an excellent stash buster as well as a great show case for prints and solids alike. 

The outer layer of the bag is designed to be made from a heavier weight fabric and although I wanted to make the test version with fabric from my stash, frustratingly I had used up most of my supply of this type of fabric when I made 20 Morsbags a while ago!  In the end I decided to go with a medium weight cotton with a very sewing/haberdashery themed print which I bought ages ago but never found a use for.  The lining was a piece of lovely Robert Kaufman chambray left over from this make.  The pattern calls for a medium to heavy weight interfacing but I didn’t have any so used two layers of what I had to hand which worked fine.

I did have to discipline myself to make sure I followed the pattern to the letter rather than just deciding I might know a better way as I often do!  I also made notes as I went along to make sure I could give Zoe (hopefully) constructive feedback.  The whole thing came together really quickly and I really enjoyed making it.

There are some very helpful tips in the pattern including making sure that when you top stitch the straps you begin stitching from the same end of the strap for both rows to avoid the strap twisting.  I’ve also always avoided making things with buttonholes and this forced me to do one properly and I don’t really know what I was worrying about.

I sent off my feedback to Zoe and it was really nice to see where this had been incorporated into the final version of the pattern!  The pattern is now released and you can buy it here.   The instructions are really clear and there are lots of photographs which make it ideal for a beginner.  There’s also now an extra page at the end with a condensed version of the instructions – really useful as a quick reminder once you’ve made the bag a couple of times.

There is so much scope to make this bag your own with different fabrics and I’m already working on two more as Christmas presents (I can say the word now that we are in December!).  One is using a curtain fabric remnant which definitely gives a great finish and the other with a similar weight fabric to the first bag.  I think I might try another one with short straps and an inside pocket.

There is a giveaway on Zoe’s blog at the moment (deadline midnight on Friday) so check out her latest post with images of all the testers’ versions of the Anya.