An Overall Success

I’ve just realised that this is my 100th post on Jane Makes.  A blogging century!

We have a brilliant charity shop in Chichester run by St Wilfrid’s Hospice called Retro & Vintage.  W and I usually make at least a weekly visit and rarely come out empty handed.  Amongst a treasure trove of china, clothes, vintage board games, jewellery, hats and more there’s usually a good pile of vintage dressmaking and knitting patterns as well as some fabrics and notions.  They also have an annual sale in the Assembly Rooms which is well worth a visit if you don’t mind a crush.  The next one is on Friday 26 August from 9.30 am – 3.30 pm.

I don’t have much experience of vintage patterns, although I do pick them up in charity shops when I particularly like the illustrations.  This one for example.  I’d love to make W one of these and perhaps when he’s completed his diet regime the medium size will be the perfect size.

Dressing Gown

The image for these little dungarees/overalls is just so adorable I couldn’t resist buying this one.  I’m guessing the pattern is from the early 50s but perhaps someone with more knowledge of such things can enlighten me.

Weldon’s Patterns were the creation of Walter Weldon, a journalist turned scientist who founded Weldon’s Fashion Journal in the late 1800s.  I believe the paper patterns came into being around 1879. He was also responsible for the Weldon process for recovering manganese dioxide for re-use in chlorine manufacture, which seems a world away from sewing patterns!

This one, which cost me £1, doesn’t have a separate envelope, it’s just a sheet of paper folded into three with the instructions printed on the back and the pattern pieces placed inside.

The pattern was complete and very neatly folded and to start with I thought it was unused.  However, when I looked more closely I could see evidence of tiny pin holes so I’m hoping that Mrs Parker, whose name is pencilled on the front, did actually make them up.  The pattern pieces have no printed markings on them, just a series of punched holes which indicate the pattern piece number, notches, grainline, pocket placement etc.  It’s a one size (age 4) pattern.

I decided to have a go at making up the dungarees as my introduction to sewing vintage patterns.  I used some floral fabric I’d picked up in the same charity shop and had already made a bag from (and have a skirt cut out waiting to be sewn).  The instructions were pretty straightforward and easy to follow.  There were no fit issue either as at that point the project was entirely experimental.

The pattern instructs you to face the front arm holes with binding and I decided to use some floral bias binding along the edge rather than as a facing so I could to add to the overall floweriness.  I continued the binding across the top of the bib as I didn’t like the way it looked when it was hemmed as per the pattern instructions.   I also bound the edge of the back facing and understitched it to give a better finish.  This fabric frays quite a lot as it’s a loose weave so I zig-zagged the seams and if I make this pattern up again I would probably follow the alternative suggestion to use French seams as this would give a neater finish inside.  This fabric is a bit bulky for French seams.

I started with pattern matching on the bib and the straps match each other where they button at the back but I gave up after that and the little pockets are so sweet I wanted them to show up (that’s my excuse).  The repeat on this pattern means that pattern matching requires far more fabric than I wanted to use.

I rarely do buttonholes but was pretty pleased with this one.  I never fully believe my machine will actually do this all by itself!


As the dungarees came together and I realised just how cute they were going to be I started to look around for a suitable four year old to try them.  Luckily one of my colleagues has a little girl who is almost four and when I showed him a picture of the dungarees in construction he said he was pretty sure she would love them.

I finished everything but the final attachment of the straps at the front and the hem.  I just tacked them so they could be adjusted if required.  Ruby was getting quite excited about her assignment so off they went for a fitting.  She loved them and apart from the length they were a great fit.

I’ve now finished them off and here they are in all their glory ready for their new owner.

I’m hoping to get some photos of Ruby modelling them – if I do, I’ll post them next time.


Latest statistics in Mr Jane Makes’ reduction programme :

  • Total inches lost (waist) : 3
  • Total weight lost : 9.6 kilos

He’s pretty pleased with himself!




Experimental Baking

My initial attempt at sugar/fat/egg free baking was surprisingly successful and I can confirm that the carrot muffins responded well to freezing.  Time to try something else.

Mr Jane Makes has a penchant for peanut butter and, although there is now a ban on eating it straight from the jar, nuts are a good source of protein and can form part of the new ‘in moderation’ diet. Faced with some bananas that were deteriorating rapidly in the hot weather, I decided to combine the two in some cookies. The rest of the bananas have been frozen in chunks to go into smoothies.

Peanut & Banana Cookies (makes 16 smallish cookies)

  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 cups porridge oats
  • 1 cup dates, chopped
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 18 degrees (fan oven).  Line a baking sheet with baking parchment (very important).

I’d read somewhere about turning porridge oats into flour so I experimented with one cup of the above amount using the grinding blade of my Nutribullet. It produced a lovely smooth result in seconds so I’ll be incorporating the flour into future makes.

Mix together all the ingredients thoroughly in a bowl.  It was quite a stiff mixture and if I’d had any fruit juice to hand I might have been tempted to add it but it really didn’t need it.

Use a dessertspoon to measure spoonfuls of the mixture onto the lined baking sheet.  I experimented with one cookie to see what happened and the mixture really needs to be pressed down to squash each cookie flat before cooking because the mixture doesn’t spread in the oven.

Bake for 12-14 minutes until golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack – the cookies lifted off the sheet very easily with a palette knife.

I wouldn’t want to mislead anyone by suggesting that these are a replacement for a sweet chocolate chip cookie but after a few weeks with little or no sugar they are pretty satisfying! There will be variations on this theme.

No weigh in this week but the diet is being strictly adhered to by Mr J-M and it is definitely working! A shirt which was previously refused permission for wearing in public is now a perfect fit.

Our meals and snacks are looking very much like this at the moment.


And the winner is ……

Thanks to everyone who responded to my last post with the Orla giveaway.  This time all the names went into W’s latest charity shop purchase, a 1950s genuine Stetson which is apparently worth a good deal more than he paid for it which he’s delighted about.  He spent last weekend cleaning and steaming it – there are a surprising number of videos on YouTube giving advice on cleaning your cowboy hat – and I think it rather suits him.  The toothpick apparently adds authenticity. I have washed the lining since this photograph was taken, I discovered that the picture is actually embroidered and covered with plastic to protect it.

I think I’ve always had a thing for cowboys … I was a big fan of Ben Murphy in Alias Smith & Jones back in the day!


The first name out of the Stetson was ……….


Karen from wakeymakes.  If you’d like to send me a DM on Instagram with your address Karen I’ll get the pattern – and the pink zip – in the post to you. I hope you enjoy making the Orla.

A New Way of Eating

This was originally supposed to be a sewing and baking blog so that gives me an excuse to talk about my latest efforts in the kitchen.  Following W’s heart attack (I still find it hard to write that – or say it out loud – without feeling shocked) he knew that some major dietary changes were needed!  He’s well known for having a hearty appetite and apart from five days when he wasn’t allowed to eat after the previous life-threatening incident (I’ll spare you the details) he’s never been known to refuse food!

I’ve got an ‘O’ Level in Food & Nutrition so obviously consider myself to be well qualified to be his dietary advisor but just in case Mrs Jones didn’t cover everything required back in the day we’ve been doing a lot of internet research.  We’ve always eaten reasonably healthily at home but portion control is not W’s forte and when he’s been unsupervised all sorts of bad behaviour has been going on!

His new diet is now carefully monitored (by me) and involves a lot of porridge, vegetables, oily fish and pulses.  It also includes a daily matchbox size piece of cheese as advised by a good friend of ours who had a heart attack last year, a suggestion supported by the cardiac rehab nurse. This is a small matchbox and not a box of Bryant & May extra long matches as he might have hoped.  He is very determined and there has been absolutely no back-sliding.

However, everyone needs a treat now and again so part of my Googling activity involved investigating healthier, low fat and low sugar alternatives to cake!  I’m reluctant to get on the bandwagon and use coconut oil as it contains an enormous amount of saturated fat and I’m not sure that its apparent benefits make up for this.  I have tried it in the past and am not that keen on everything having a background flavour of coconut!

I was also trying to avoid the addition of alternatives to refined sugar which crop up in many recipes – maple syrup (an old favourite on porridge), agave syrup, honey, etc. which are still sugar at the end of the day.  I’m also not sure about Stevia which is apparently 200 times sweeter than sugar and has no calories, particularly as it has been found to lower blood pressure and W’s is already being kept low with medication.

I finally found a recipe for a fat, egg and sugar free carrot cake here.  The sweetness is derived from dried fruit which is high in fruit sugars so not for excessive consumption but OK for a weekend treat.  I adapted the recipe by using spelt flour because (a) I already had some and (b) I think it has a more interesting flavour than wheat flour and is apparently more easily digested.  I also decided to bake the mixture in individual muffin tins which dealt with portion control.  I did find I had to add extra carrot juice, a least three times the amount stated, to achieve the right consistency.

I really wasn’t convinced this recipe would work but I was wrong!  The ‘muffins’ were delicious warm and cold and will hopefully still be good after being in the freezer which is where the bulk of them are stored. The best compliment was my sister eating a whole one as she very rarely eats cake/puddings/biscuits.

I now have plans for variations on this theme involving other vegetables, nuts and dried fruit and will report any successes here.  Following a comment from Linda at RemakeRemodelRecycle on my last post suggesting I feature healthy meals and tasty salad ideas from the new regime I may just do that too.

I’m also tempted to report regularly on W’s progress in terms of weight and inches lost – just to encourage him in public.  As of 13 July the statistics are as follows :

  • Inches lost (waist) : 2.5
  • Kilos lost : 7

Pretty impressive, even if it does sound a bit like an entry from Bridget Jones’ Diary (and I’ve mixed up Imperial and metric measurements).  I’m very proud of him and he is looking more handsome than ever!



Life Laundry and a Giveaway

I’ll start by thanking everyone for their good wishes for Mr Jane Makes’ recovery.  He’s making great progress and the diet is working, a belt is now required on his shorts!  He’s supposed to have a daily walk but is also back on his mountain bike for a gentle ride down the road.  In my opinion the roller blades should wait a bit longer!

The life laundry project continues following my recent wardrobe cull and ironing fest.  During my sewing plan planning exercise (yet to be completed and implemented) I carefully reviewed my pattern collection.  It’s not extensive but there are a good number that have never been used or even opened.  I decided to be ruthless, particularly as I’ve just signed up to a subscription to Seamwork magazine so there will be more patterns coming along in the future!

I’m a big fan of Tilly’s Coco pattern and there are several Cocos in my wardrobe to prove it.  As a result I was tempted into buying another pattern for a top, the Orla.  I’ve seen some lovely examples of this made up, not least by Becky at Back to Blighty, and Becca over at Redwsews who even got personalised advice from Tilly on her hemline when we were at the Knitting & Stitching Show earlier this year.


Sadly, I know I’m not going to make this top –  it’s just not quite my style.  Absolutely nothing against Tilly’s patterns and her book, Love at First Stitch, is single-handedly responsible for teaching me to insert an invisible zip without supervision.

The upshot of this is that I’m going to give this pattern away to someone who will make use of it.  It is pristine and unopened and I’ll throw in one of these zips, also bought from Tilly, which are exactly the right size for the exposed zip at the back of the Orla.

Just leave a comment below (saying which colour zip you’d like) and a name will be pulled out of the hat on Monday 18 July.  Please feel free to bid on someone else’s behalf if you’ve already got the pattern yourself!

There may be more giveaways in the future as life is streamlined further to free up time and space for the important stuff!

The Heart of the Matter

Life has been a bit hectic round here over recent months, particularly since my darling dad went into a nursing home.  I now have elderly parents in separate locations needing lots of attention and support.

Next up was something more dramatic and scary, hence no blogging or IG posts over the last week or so. Ten days ago W (aka Mr Jane Makes) had a heart attack!  Anyone who knows him will be aware that he’s pretty active – skiing, roller blading, cycling, table tennis – but unfortunately a couple of his arteries weren’t aware of this.  I’m not going to dwell on the details because this is a sewing blog but thanks to some truly amazing emergency care at St Richard’s in Chichester and Queen Alexandra in Portsmouth he was home again on Wednesday with a couple of stents in his chest.  Some major lifestyle changes are in hand – specifically no more unsupervised eating – we don’t want to be back here again.

Hospital Bed

What I am looking forward to is all the things he is going to be able to do over the next few weeks as specified in the literature he was sent home with.  For example :

  • Week Three : Preparing meals
  • Week Four : Light housework and gardening
  • Weeks Five & Six : Vacuuming and washing windows
  • Weeks Seven & Eight : Light carpentry and DIY

He’s never been able to do these things before (apart from being a whizz with the vacuum cleaner)!  To encourage him I picked up a 1964 DIY magazine from the Vintage & Very Nice market in Chichester on Saturday.  It’s a classic, especially the adverts! Self adhesive wicker effect PVC to decorate your home, boat, car or caravan anyone?

Obviously I’m making light of what was a truly horrible experience for him and the rest of us – this is the second time he has traumatised us with a life-threatening event.  I’m just so very relieved to have my beloved back home in one piece.  He may not be a DIY expert but I love him very much.

Everything that has happened recently has certainly made me think very hard about life in general, and particularly the stresses we all face on a day-to-day basis.  Other recent events have also had an impact and whilst I don’t want to get into a political discussion here I do feel shocked and disappointed that those in ‘authority’ can behave in such a Machiavellian and self-serving manner when the future of our country is at stake.  From all the blogs and IG posts I’ve been reading it would seem that the sewing community is pretty much united so there is hope for us yet.

I’ve decided the only way forward is to keep sewing, an activity that has been rather sporadic chez Jane Makes recently.  I needed to break myself back in gently with something very simple, an A-line skirt.  I didn’t have a suitable pattern in my collection and really wasn’t up to drafting one so downloaded the free Annie A-line Skirt from Sew This Pattern.  It really is basic – front, back and a facing.  As it is simple it needed to be just right so I sewed up a quick toile with some seemingly never-ending fabric I bought in a charity shop years ago for £3.  I cut the size 12 which was a snug fit a few days ago, but stress and the elimination of all ‘bad’ food from our house means that it is now just right!  This picture makes the fabric look nicer than it is – it is very thin and has always had a slightly odd smell but it is fine for toiles.


The skirt fabric itself is an African cotton print I bought from Tinsmiths when I was on holiday last year.  It was a 5.4 metre length and I gave half of it away via the blog as I knew I’d never use all of it!  I had originally displayed it on Doris like this ……


…. so I knew an A-line skirt would work.  I didn’t actually follow the pattern instructions because I wanted to add a lining but one of the suggestions I did use was to finish the edge of the facing with bias binding which does look really neat.  I had just enough of some leftover Liberty binding which co-ordinated quite well.  I didn’t bother with pattern matching as the fabric is pretty busy and I wanted to have enough left over for another project.

The instructions do look pretty comprehensive and straightforward and this would be a great pattern for a beginner – it could make a nice gift with some fabric and notions.  It would also be ideal for embellishment – patch pockets, trimmings etc. so I’m sure I’ll be making it again.  There is a separate download for a pocket but I’m not sure it’s a design I would use.

I love the shape of this skirt and it is a great fit.   The only problem is that I don’t really have much to wear with it.  I decided to go completely mad this morning and wear it with stripes having seen a few examples of the stripes/floral combination around recently.  As W is recuperating he’s now around when I leave for work and gave his approval so I’m hoping he was right.  He did offer to take a photograph but photography isn’t mentioned on the list of new skills that he’s about to acquire!

Annie Skirt

Stay calm everyone and keep off the saturated fat!  Happy sewing!

STOP PRESS : My boss has just commented “that’s a pretty skirt”.  I don’t think he’s ever said such a thing to me before and we’ve known each other for over 20 years!