Autumn Plans

I’ve been rather absent from the world of blogging recently!  Regular readers will know that my summer was rather taken up with supervising Mr Jane Makes’ post heart attack diet and this will be the final update.

  • Total weight loss : 23 kgs (3 stone 6lbs)
  • Total inches off waist : 17.78 cms (7 inches)

I’m pretty stunned (and pleased) that he’s achieved this with only one transgression when he was left unsupervised at a party for a short while and was faced with what I can only describe as a wall of tiny, delicious cakes!  I took one as I ran out of the door to fulfill my daughterly duties and to be honest if I’d stayed longer I’m quite sure I would have stuffed my face!

When I posted this before and after image on IG as part of this year’s #sewphotohop (entitled Wow!) I think I got more likes than I’ve ever had before!


The before is him looking pretty fed up in hospital faced with a very uninspiring salad.  The after is him in his Lycra about to take his new bike over the Trundle at Goodwood.  He’s still not looking very cheerful but I can assure you that he does smile!  He’s lost even more weight since the after photo was taken.  We’re now working on an entirely new wardrobe and a huge pile of clothes went off to the charity shop the other day.


Talking of entirely new wardrobes …. I’m working on mine too.  A by-product of the diet has been some unintended weight loss for me which I’m actually really pleased about, except that pretty much everything I’ve ever made for myself no longer fits!  I’ve done one or two alterations but am taking the opportunity to start again.

I have a number of favourite patterns which I know work for me and I enjoy wearing so my starting point is to re-trace and re-make them using fabric already in my stash.  My inital plan was not to buy any more fabric until I’d made heavy inroads into what I already have but I met up with vintagerockchick yesterday and we visited Chichester’s finest fabric emporiums!  More on that in another post.


First out of the packet was the Esme Dress from Lotte Jansdotter’s book, Everyday Style.  I’ve previously made two versions which I’ve worn regularly but are now too big.  I’ve altered the blue and white one since this photo was taken but I’m not 100% happy with it.

I traced off a smaller size and made a quick toile from an old bedsheet (my new source of toile fabric having had a clear out of the airing cupboard) to make sure I could get in and out of it (it has no fastenings) and made it up from some cheap and cheerful denim-type fabric from Fabworks.  I washed the fabric before I started but it still turned my fingers blue while I was sewing and the first wash of the finished dress has resulted in some fading.  I’m not too fussed about this – better that than me turning everything I sit on blue – but there was a bit of shrinkage too, although it seemed to stretch out after wearing it for a while!  I love this dress.  It’s so quick to make and this time I added the patch pockets which I really like.  I incorporated in-seam pockets on the original pink version which isn’t part of the pattern but also worked well.

Here’s the finished dress, photography credit to Mr Jane Makes.  Very comfortable to wear, especially when sitting all day at work.

I’m wearing it with a striped top underneath because and my frog brooch which I bought years ago from Accessorize and only recently rediscovered in a drawer!  Also appearing is Erika, the 1960 East German typewriter we found in Oxfam recently.  She’s in great condition and has a new ribbon from Ebay.  She is currently being used to leave each other messages – much more fun than texting.  Just have to remember that she has a German keyboard so the Y and the Z are the opposite way round!

Next up were a new Annie A-Line Skirt, a great little free pattern from Sew this Pattern, and View D of McCall’s 3830 which I’ve made numerous times before.

McCalls 3830

I used another denim for the A-line skirt, this time from Clothkits.  It’s a reversible Railroad Denim which has some stretch in it.  I’m not sure what came over me as it was quite expensive but I got the skirt out of a metre so I can live with it, especially as the fabric is so lovely.  The pattern is straightforward and I really like the bias binding finish on the facing.

I used a heavyweight wool, I guess it’s a boiled wool, from Ditto for the McCall’s pattern.  It’s been on the shelf since last winter.  The jury is still out because I used the same fabric for the waist facing and the result is possibly too chunky.  I’m going to try wearing it and see, I can’t really face unpicking it all now!  It has a lovely shiny red lining and will be very cosy with thick tights when the weather gets cold.  There are one or two previous versions of this skirt that I’m going to refashion to fit me, including this one because I only got around to wearing it a couple of times and this was a special piece of vintage fabric that I’m particularly fond of.


The best bit about making the wool skirt was discovering a new (to me) way to finish the back seam after inserting an invisible zip.  I’ve always sewn from the bottom of the zip down to the hem but often end up with a bit of a bump at the base of the zip which drives me bonkers, often leading to an unpicking and re-sewing session which usually makes things worse.  I remembered reading somewhere about sewing from the hem up and, hey presto, it worked brilliantly.  I will always do this from now on.

Given the weight of this fabric I think the zip went in pretty well, although I’ve just realised I took this photo of it before I pressed the skirt.

Now lined up for re-tracing and re-making are the following.  The Simplicity skirt will be without the frill on the pockets of course as I’m definitely not a frilly person and I make the top from the Cynthia Rowley pattern rather than the slightly odd shorts!  I’m always put off by the strange illustrations on Hot Patterns but the three-quarter length sleeve top is a good shape.

These will be followed by a first attempt at the new Kitty Dress by Maven Patterns.  There will definitely be a bedsheet toile of this one!


Very glad to be blogging again!

The Spring Knitting and Stitching Show

I reported in my last blog post that I would be visiting the Knitting & Stitching Show at Olympia on Saturday with Clarinda Kaleidoscope, Butterflies & Lemon Drops and Red W Sews.  The threatened snow didn’t materialise, although there was a sprinkling of icy hail on the ground when we arrived at Clapham Junction.  We were taken by surprise at the length of the queue to get in but it moved pretty quickly once the doors opened.

We agreed on a methodical approach, moving along each aisle in turn so we didn’t miss anything.  I’m not great with crowds and this is one of the things that puts me off these shows. It does end up being a bit of a battle to move around in the busy areas – especially with the many trolleys being towed round filled to bursting point!  I do also wonder about the relevance to knitting or sewing of some of the stands!


  • Spending time with like-minded friends who don’t think that stroking fabric is weird! Travelling with Su made the train journeys fly by – we didn’t stop talking!
  • Meeting Lauren from Guthrie & Ghani who was demonstrating at the show but was having a sit down on Tilly’s stand when we saw her. She is so lovely and certainly blooming with her baby due in six weeks.
  • Catching up with Caroline from Sew La Di Da Vintage who I met last year at her shop in Lyme Regis (when I took these photos). She was selling her patterns and showcasing her amazing doll kits. I’d already seen Lou Lou but she’s now been joined by Bertie. I wish I’d taken a photo of him – he has a monocle!  Clarinda Kaleidoscope bought a pattern from Caroline for a gorgeous and glamorous deck suit – and later found the perfect fabric to make it up. You can read all about it on her blog here.
  • Seeing Tilly take the time to advise Becca (Red W Sews) on her Orla top which had a misbehaving hem facing!
  • Last, but obviously not least, looking at all that fabric.  There was a pretty wide choice and it would have been difficult to come away empty handed.  It would be fair to say that some of us bought more than others!

My choices were :


An Ikat design fabric from the Sew Over It stand – and cut by Lisa Comfort herself who was doing an amazing job in a tiny space.  I’m planning an Esme dress from the Lotte Jansdotter book I got for Christmas.  I’m pretty sure I’m not going to look as stylish as Lotte in her various versions of this dress!


I’ve traced off the pattern (I just know I could never cope with a Burda pattern – this was quite enough of a faff for me and there are only three or four simple garments and some bag patterns on the sheets!).  I think I’m going to make a quick toile to check the fit as this dress has no fastenings and the temptation will be to make it too big!

An organic barkcloth with a 50s vibe from Higgs & Higgs for a skirt – pattern yet to be decided.   I’d seen this fabric several times on Instagram and it resembles the iconic Calyx design by textile designer, Lucienne Day.  I have some offcuts of the (very expensive) reprint of the original Calyx fabric given to me by my sister which may also be turned into a skirt.

A VERY bright pink denim from Fabrics Galore – also for a skirt and definitely one with pockets.

I think I was quite restrained.  I was bearing in mind that I’ll be at The Fabric Godmother this Saturday on a course and will almost certainly come away from there with more fabric!












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!






Fabric Shopping

We have a pretty good choice of fabric shops here where I live in Chichester.

  • C & H Fabrics is a chain based in the South and South East of England and stocks fabric, patterns, yarn and haberdashery.
  • Clothkits are based in The Hornet in a converted pub and if you don’t know about the company the website is worth a look to learn about their story. As well as fabric, yarns and haberdashery they run regular courses and the shop is home to Maria Pulley who is a brilliant dress designer. I’ve done a machine embroidery course and another entitled Professional Techniques for Dressmakers run by Maria. I really enjoyed both. I was very enthusiastic about continuing at home with the machine embroidery but the specially purchased darning foot has never been out of the packet. Another challenge for the list.
  • The Eternal Maker is based in Terminus Road, an industrial estate near the railway station. Their cavernous premises houses a very large collection of fabrics, patterns, yarn, haberdashery and a lot of buttons – they also run The Button Company. Their coffee shop serves really good cakes!

Although I do prefer to buy fabric in a shop where I can see and feel exactly what it’s like, I do also buy online and have had recent successes with purchases from Clothspot, Tissu Fabrics (huge range of jersey fabrics) and Raystitch.

I spotted this denim top on Net-a-Porter. I don’t buy clothes from them, I was just idly browsing the web to try and re-stock the fake tan my sister bought me for my birthday last year and it was the only place that had it! I have to say their packaging is gorgeous if rather extravagant. Back to the point, I decided the outrageously expensive top was not dissimilar to this Cynthia Rowley pattern for Simplicity which I have made up before so mounted a search for denim/chambray fabric and came across Sherwoods Fabrics for the first time. They have an amazing range of denim as well as a good selection of other fabrics. Definitely worth a look, although I’ve not ordered anything yet.

Simplicity 2192

Kyrie of kyrie_in_kalamityland has just bought some lovely dark blue gabardine from Calico Laine for £5.99 a metre and it looks like there are some very reasonably priced fabrics on there.

I am also hankering after this fabric from the Village Haberdashery when it comes back into stock and, having checked up on current availability (still Coming Soon), I found this double gauze which I think looks rather fun. I’ve just been working with this type of fabric so I know it makes up well despite its tendency to fray.

Have a great weekend!