A Fine Sewmance

Earlier in the year I popped over to Brighton for the first Sewmance event.  It was well attended but I found the venue a bit claustrophobic.  It didn’t matter though because I met up with some sewing friends which is always a good thing.

Stacie from Brighton Sewing Bee found a new venue for the winter event on 12 November and St George’s Church in Kemptown was a great improvement.  Stacie & Co had worked so hard to get the space ready for the day.  When @vintage_charity and I arrived around lunchtime the church, bedecked with beautiful quilts, was heaving!  We bumped straight into Louise, who we’d planned to meet up with,  and then into Zoe with her absolutely adorable new baby – a lovely surprise.  That baby got a LOT of cuddles!

We had a stroll round to see what was on offer, listened to Josie/Fabric Godmother’s Sewing Story and then decided we needed a snack.  I think Stacie and her helpers had prepared all the food – she seems to have boundless energy as well as being lovely.

I spotted someone buying the gold spot/stag fabric I’ve just used for a skirt from Anna at The Eternal Maker – and the same gold zip!  We  had a quick conversation about using gold thread for sewing the zip.  Whoever she was we will be skirt twins.

I also recognised and introduced myself to another Louise from Not Sew Simple whose blog I’ve followed for a while.

Overall we were pretty restrained (although The Fabric Godmother had some very tempting fabrics) and I came away with just two purchases.  The fabric kit for a baby make from The Eternal Maker as mentioned in my last post and these bangles made from knitting needles from Yellow Bear Wares which are very satisfying to wear.  Mostly though we sat – or walked – around and chatted to fellow sewers – which was just perfect.  All the workshops were very busy – especially the ones where you could make your own floral headdress – and there were plenty of these on show.


It was a real shame the weather was so awful on the day but it didn’t seem to put people off.  Stacie is planning a summer Sewmance, possibly at the same venue, so look out for details of that.

Obviously there were lots of me-made clothes on show in the room.  I decided I wanted something new to wear but with almost no time I went for another Annie A-line Skirt (definitely a TNT) using a really nice remnant picked up in C & H Fabrics a few weeks ago.  I’m hopeless at identifying fabrics but this was a lovely weight with a bit of stretch and the print is a kind of faux tweed.  I love this pattern, it comes together so quickly, although I did decide to add a lining because I thought the fabric might be a bit clingy with tights.

I was pretty happy with my concealed zip and I love the bias bound finish on the waist facing.  I must mention and recommend the iron-on interfacing I bought at The Eternal Maker.  It is woven to replicate fabric and I much prefer the finish to the stuff I usually use which often rucks up at the edges or creases when it’s ironed.

We did find our trip to the loo in the church quite entertaining.  We’d rather hoped it would be through the door marked Alleluia but instead it was quite a route march up and down stairways and through multiple doors, dodging a mop and bucket in the middle of a puddle (of water).  We wondered whether we’d ever find our way back!

Thank you to the amazing Stacie for all her hard work to put this event together.  There was talk of a fabric buying/pattern swapping/sewing chat event in Chichester in the not too distant future.  If anyone would be interested, let me know and we’ll see what we can do.


Exciting News!

Well, we think it’s exciting!  This year hasn’t been the best what with my darling dad having to move into a nursing home and poor old Mr Jane Makes having a heart attack but my dad is being well cared for and is as settled as he can be and Mr J-M is a new (and much thinner) chap!

Onto the exciting bit … I have two really lovely step-daughters who I have known since they were little girls and they mean a great deal to me.  I know they read this blog but I’m not just saying that!  They are both grown up now and living in London.  On a recent visit J told us that she and P are having a baby!  Mr J-M is going to be a grandad and I’m going to be …. I’ve not quite decided what yet apart from very pleased!

I’m now planning some tiny sewing but, as this blog is not secret, I won’t necessarily be revealing too much here.  I probably won’t be knitting as I’m far from an expert but when it comes to baby-related fabrics I’m quite beside myself!

My first purchase was a kit at Sewmance in Brighton on Saturday.  I’ll probably do a separate post on that event but here’s a sneak preview of the fabric.  I’ve looked at the instructions and have no idea how I’m going to deal with something so weeny but I’ll give it a go.


The new arrival is due at the end of March but, given the way time flies, that day will be here before we know it!


Secret Sewing 2016

I don’t usually like to mention Christmas before the beginning of December at the very earliest but the very talented (and incredibly productive) Sheila from Sewchet is once again organised #stitchingsanta and, having had fun taking part last year, I signed up again.


We’ve now received details of who we’ll be buying/sewing for (there’s also a knitting/crochet option) and I’ve been checking out my recipient’s blog so I can plan what to make.  I’d already had a couple of ideas that could be tweaked to suit specific interests so all I need to do now is get on with it! The maximum spend on a gift is £10 but there seems to be no limit on what you can make/sew/knit from stuff you already own.  Looking back over the last three years –  if you are Sheila’s recipient you’re in for a treat!

The idea is that we give a few sneak previews before Christmas without giving the game away so once I get started I’ll be doing that either on here or IG.   The full story will be reported in the New Year.

My recipient last year was Sharon from Creativity and Family and I really enjoyed making presents for her.  My gifts came from Beth at After Dark Sewing.  Since then both of them have become Etsy entrepreneurs!  Here’s a selection of the gifts we gave each other.  I use the little zipped purse all the time – although it obviously no longer has the chocolate coins in it – and I loved Beth’s fabric gift wrapping.  The fabric itself became pocket linings in a pink dress.

I’m off to Sewmance in Brighton on Saturday with @vintage_charity so I’m hoping I’ll get some more inspiration there.  I’m also looking forward to meeting up with some other sewing friends, including Louise from Seams Odd, Louise and @lois.h.



Congratulations to Rosie from DIY Couture for exceeding her fundraising target for RNIB’s Wear Dots Raise Lots campaign.  For those of you who didn’t noticed the profusion of spots on IG recently, Rosie set her own challenge for sewists to make something dotty, donate to the campaign and post a picture on social media during October.

I hadn’t even thought about taking part but, as previously mentioned, I bought this fabric from The Eternal Maker on my day out with Vintage Rock Chick.  Gold spots and stags heads for a party skirt!  I already had the sparkly gold zip but had never before found the right project to use it on.


I’d had Simplicity 1109 for a while and thought it might work.  A quick bedsheet toile later and I realised that I really loved this pattern.

I made a size 12 toile but sized down to a 10 for the final version.  The advantage of this pattern is that you really only need to toile the waistband and, if that works, the rest should be fine.  However, I toiled the whole thing to (a) see exactly how the pleats worked and (b) practice the exposed zip insertion.  The pleats are actually pretty straightforward as long as you mark them up carefully to make sure you know which direction you’re pleating in.  I did have a dimwitted moment when I thought I’d cut the waistband incorrectly until I realised I was trying to match up the side seam of the waistband with the side seam of the skirt section.   Once you’ve made the pleats the original side seam is no longer at the side – which is why there are notches to match up!  Concentrate Jane!

Onto the final version.  Early on I realised the fabric was not wide enough to accommodate the considerable width of the front section of the skirt.  There was going to be a Plan B with another fabric but I REALLY wanted to use those gold spots.  A couple of helpful people on IG suggested hiding a join in a pleat and that’s what I did.

I cut out the two back pieces then cut the remaining fabric into two strips and carefully pattern matched them (as carefully as I ever pattern match anything).  Rather than cut the fabric on the fold, I traced out a duplicate pattern piece and joined them together so that I could move the whole front section around on the fabric to so that the join hit just the right point of a pleat to ensure it was hidden as well as it could be.

I’d been pretty gung-ho with a marker pen when I was making the toile to show when the pleats went but I was obviously more cautious with the real thing.  I used lots of tailor tacks and bits of post-it note instead.  Once you join the front and the back pieces together you are left with a fairly substantial piece of fabric to attach to the waistband!

I decided to add a lining to make sure I achieved maximum fullness from this skirt.  I’d set my heart on a purple swishy lining fabric but couldn’t find anything locally. I had to go up to London last week and it so happened I had a few minutes to spare before my work appointment so I went one stop in the ‘wrong’ direction on the tube to Sloane Square and found exactly what I wanted in Peter Jones for £3 a metre.

I cut the lining fabric to exactly the same size as the skirt but rather than pleat the top I gathered it and attached it to the waistband facing which worked OK.  My only slight reservation is that I should have cut the lining slightly longer, particularly as I ended up using a smaller hem on the skirt than I’d originally intended so there’s more of a gap between the bottom of the lining and the hem of the skirt than I would have liked but who is going to notice!

I’ve tried what I would call a semi-exposed zip before and not liked it but this one is completely exposed and given its very sparkly nature it really needed to be on show.  I think it was a success.  The only thing I did differently from the pattern instruction was to hand stitch the bottom of the zip before flipping it up because my machine wasn’t happy sewing past the rather chunky zip stop.  I used a gold thread to stitch the zip which worked well.  Thank goodness I didn’t need to unpick it because the stitches disappeared into the zip completely!  A tip for using metallic thread on the sewing machine – which may be obvious but wasn’t to me straightaway – use a plain thread for the bobbin.  My first attempt resulted in split thread and machine unhappiness.

I then got completely carried away with the whole metallic theme and bought gold bias binding to finish the hem!  It was quite stiff which has had the effect of making the skirt really swirly and “sticky-outy” which is exactly what I wanted!  I also used the metallic thread to hand sew the bias binding to the main fabric.  Another tip – go very slowly when hand sewing with this thread, it snarls up/splits very easily.

I love this skirt.  I don’t know what else to say other than that I can really recommend this pattern, I think it would work with all sorts of fabrics.  I’m planning a denim one too.  Or maybe another sparkly one.