A cardi for Granny and a sneaky one for me

swooshing in swoon

swooshing in swoon

I’m doing a lot of sewing For Other People again. I sort of enjoy it but it’s also really stressful. I’m much more perfectionist when it comes to other people, so I can’t merrily bodge along as usual. On the other hand, my sewing improves a lot when I’m sewing for other people, precisely because I can’t bodge along as usual. I decided that my 100% awesome granny would look really nice in a Swoon scarf neck cardi and that this should be what she received for her 93rd birthday last week. Now because she is brilliant, and because I am much more perfectionist about sewing for other people and because it was a gift I wanted it to be really nice…..

So OBVIOUSLY I had to make one for myself.

Checking it works

Checking it works

IMG_1383 IMG_1375 IMG_1388This is a brilliant pattern, and it is FREE. I have had a lot of compliments on this and I wear it all the time. It makes me feel so chic and swooshy. I used a black and white ponte knit thing from, erm, somewhere. It only uses 2 metres of knit fabric but feels like you are wearing metres of it as you swoosh around. In fact, if when I make another I would make the XL instead of the XXL as it is pretty capacious, especially on my non existent shoulders. It has princess seams and a pointy hem. It goes together really easily apart from one bit at the back of the neck where you have to join a curve to a square. I still don’t understand why this is.

This is not what you join a smooth curved piece to

This is not what you join a smooth curved piece to

This doesn't make sense

This doesn’t make sense

I think maybe its to give the neck structure? It’s weird and feels all wrong though. Has anyone made this? Can you tell me why?

You can also see that this cardi has French seams. The pattern calls for it, but I think in both cases my knit fabric was a bit too thick for this. I think it would work on a very thin jersey like the pattern calls for, but not so much with the fabrics I used. Being a beginner who slavishly follows instructions, I did it anyway. It is fine.

Fine from the outside anyway

Fine from the outside anyway

For bulk reasons I decided not to hem either mine or my granny’s version (in a lovely knit from Fabric Godmother) but to finish them with bias binding which I think looks rather jaunty. There is a LOT of hem on this cardi though: be warned you need about 5 metres of bias binding!

So I managed to take the worst ever pictures of my granny wearing it: I assure you, it does fit her properly, she loved it and it looks lovely on her.

Here we are with our cardis on all wonky (like grandmother like grandaughter). Please note scones though: she still makes them herself every time we visit.



And here she is doing her ‘model’ pose, which is a little hulkzilla! And the cardi is even more wonky.


She’s a beauty though eh? Here she is looking gorgeous in duck egg blue with my Dad and very fabulous stepmum in (fake) fur out at a vineyard to celebrate being 93. What a wonderful woman.


Another blummin Moneta, but it is GOLD

I made this Moneta a while ago, but haven’t blogged it because, well it’s another Moneta and I thought you might be bored of them. But I do have a sweetener: LOOK AT THE FABRIC!!

Gold! Always believe in your soul You've got the power to know You're indestructible

Always believe in your soul
You’ve got the power to know
You’re indestructible

It’s wonderful and ludicrous. It is described as a polyester jersey, but feels like a pair of nylon tights with glitter on. It’s almost plasticky. It clings to your figure. It’s odd. The glitter comes off on EVERYTHING. But it washes fine. It seems to have endless glitter. It never runs out. I got it for £3.99 a metre from Remnant House and I regret nothing. My husband hates it. Our car looks like it’s been turned into a mobile disco after I wore the the dress in it for a long journey.

There’s not much to say about this as I’ve made plenty of Monetas before so I will just leave some pictures of me glinting in the afternoon sun. I should have left it sleeveless because the arms keep rolling up in this weird fabric, but there you go. And yes I am wearing it over jeans for the sake of a hasty photo shoot. It’s not my most triumphant make, or the most flattering, but it is GOLD and that’s enough.

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Subtle, non?

Subtle, non?

The T- Jumper

The T-Jumper

The T-Jumper

This is just a quickie post to show off a jumper type item I made a couple of weeks ago from a bargain bit of floral jersey fabric I got for £2 in Brixton and some ribbed black jersey that I had left over from making Robin’s rainbow shirt.  I am not entirely sure what this item is hence the title of the post. It’s a Lekala t-shirt pattern costing a spectacular $2.49. If you hadn’t heard of Lekala yet,. hear about them! They have a huge range of patterns which they print out entirely to your size specification, and you can even ask them to do things like narrow shoulder adjustments IN THE PATTERN for you. Brilliant! They are very much like Style Arc in that the patterns are extremely brief and I would be nervous of trying one of their harder patterns, but for simple things like this t-shirt they are awesome. They also have some really nice free patterns too.



I was a total fool though because I somehow managed to enter in my own wrong sizes. I don’t know why I randomly decided my waist was 5 inches smaller than it is (wishful thinking?) so I managed to iorder a pattern which fit perfectly everywhere except in the tummy so I had to add a bit extra back in. I’m also not sure that I printed the pattern out at the right scale so there weren’t boxes/lines round the edges of the pattern pieces  and they didn’t go together quite right. You may wonder why I left this gap, but on other pieces it was apparent that my printer had chopped a bit off so i had to go round and add it back in.

This is not right, is it?

This is not right, is it?

Also ( probably another printing issue) my pattern pieces were very short. It would have made a kind of crop top. So I self drafted a placket out of the same thing I used for the sleeves and neckband to add to the bottom: I like the retro way this looks.


I can’t actually believe that this top turned out ok: the pattern was dirt cheap, ordered in the wrong size, printed out at the wrong scale and made out of cheap fabric, but I love it and wear it all the time. The floral jersey was a total steal from Simply Fabrics in Brixton: It was super wide great quality jersey left in the £2 a metre remnant bin. There was over 2 metres but there was a random hole cut out of it and so the lovely man just charged me £2 for the whole lot. I have plenty left over for some kind of vest top, or maybe a Colette Mabel.  I’m not sure why I decided that the sleeves would be this odd length: I think maybe I just couldn’t decide whether to have a t-shirt or a long-sleeved jumper. To be honest it would have made more sense with long sleeves and cuffs as a kind of lightweight jumper, and when I make it again (in some awesome quilted black and red jersey from Minerva) I will do this. The ribbed jersey is very stretchy with poor recovery so it soon bags at the elbows. But my t-jumper looks cute and is sooooo comfy and is the cheapest thing i have made yet. I like Cheap, Cute and Comfy. In fact, I think I should have the Three C’s as my mantra. Oh and Curvy.

Cheap, Cute, Comfy and Curvy 4 LYF

I’ll leave you with one more picture on my posing with my husband’s bike: I stopped him as he was about to ride off to get roti to take pictures of me in three different outfits. He is a hero. Especially as the roti shop was shut when he got there. But it does go awfully well with the top, eh?

It's good to match your spouse's bike

It’s good to match your spouse’s bike

Peter Pan in a dress

The original Peter Pan collar as worn by Maude Adams looking doubtful

The original Peter Pan collar as worn by Maude Adams looking doubtful

When I first started sewing, I just cut pattern pieces and fabric out without even really looking at them. I would look at the size chart on the back of the pattern (not the finished garment measurements, as I know now to do) find one that covered my size range in an approximate way, cut up the pattern and then cut out my fabric. I did not know about tracing patterns, or any kind of adjustment or fitting, or pattern ease. The result of this is that back in February or March sometime I cut out a Burda 7137 in a size 28 (!), sewed the bust darts (badly), then panicked that I didn’t understand the instructions, folded up the fabric, put it in a box, and didn’t look at it again for a good six months. In that six months I learnt quite a lot, and decided I was ready to take on my UFO again. I took it out of the box, sewed it together really quite easily, tried it on, and screamed. God god the fit was terrible. It was a good three or four sizes two big on the shoulders, two sizes two big everywhere else. The bust darts were really pointy and in the wrong place. The armholes were enormous. I wasn’t entirely sure how to fix this, so basically just added some long tucks to remove some excess fabric in the back, took in the vertical darts at the front and sewed the armholes again with a ginormous seam allowance.

My 'alteration'

My ‘alteration’

This is what is looks like now.

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It's quite a thing.

It’s quite a thing.

The boob darts are still pointy and I have the most incredible shoulder puff.

Quite the 'design' feature

Quite the ‘design’ feature

I could fix this a bit more properly I think now (I made these ‘alterations’ a few months ago), but I’m too excited by sewing all the new things to waste time on this. There are things I really like about this dress: it’s a fundamentally stylish and  flattering shape (fit issues and poor fabric choices aside) and I am very pleased with how it looks with the contrast Peter Pan collar and cuffs. I also learnt how to do back vents and did a pretty reasonable invisible zip.

20140811_201324 20140811_193009

I don’t think there is much point in going back to spend time fiddling around with a dress made in £2.99 a metre polycotton, though if I am going to wear it out the house I am going to have to sort out those bust darts. I love the style though so I will however definitely TRACE a smaller size with bust and shoulder adjustments and make another one in a better quality fabric ( I also didn’t read the fabric recommendations: it said use wool, linen or heavy crepe, not the cheapest polycotton you can find plus a random fat quarter of fancy V&A cotton) and I will line it.

I will have the chance to do this very soon (but not for me, alack) as I am making this very dress for a crafty friend who is going to wear it to a Christmas wedding that she has done all the decorations for. The fabric she has chosen is both gorgeous and much better quality.

So pretty

So pretty

My friend is roughly the same size as me except shorter, and thankfully my cutting of the pattern pieces does not mean that I can’t trace a smaller size to make the alterations. I’m cutting the lining to use for a fitting this weekend: I can’t wait to see how this dress turns out with my newfound knowledge of how to avoid creating Madonna tits.

I met sewing ladies

Me and Cashmerette

Me and Cashmerette

It was exciting. We ate halloumi and chicken in The Breakfast Club and then marvelled at the barbies stuck on the ceiling and drank Diamond Lil beer (which has a pink feather stuck on the bottle: I liked that way too much: so easily pleased) at The Friendly Society. There were lots of brilliant ladies including my all time ultimate sewing heroine Cashmerette, Diary of a Chain Stitcher, What Katie Sews, Lazy Stitching, Seamless, two of the glamorous By Hand London ladies and Tilly from the Buttons! What an excitement. They were all super duper nice and were wearing the most lovely things they had made themselves. It was amazing to see some really good sewing! One day mine will look like that. One day….

Now I know what I don’t know now



Hello everyone,

I had dinner last night with my wonderful mum who is an avid blog reader and avid sewist (rediscovering her skillz) herself. She was saying that I should start doing tutorial posts advising on various techniques, like other esteemed bloggers. I replied that I would definitely like to do that in future, but I had to, y’know, learn the techniques first. Cart before horse and all that. Then she said, why don’t you write a post about all the techniques you don’t know? As weird as this sounds, I thought it was a jolly good plan. Because as a beginner, there is a LOT that I don’t know. But I do know what I don’t know, which is a large step forward from when I started. Then I knew nothing at all. Now I know at least some of the things I need to know.

This blog post is beginning to sound like a weird version of 2 Unlimited.

“Know know, know know know know, there’s know limits….”

 No no limits, we'll reach for the sky! No valley too deep, no mountain too high No no limits, won't give up the fight We do what we want and we do it with pride

No no limits, we’ll reach for the sky!
No valley too deep, no mountain too high
No no limits, won’t give up the fight
We do what we want and we do it with pride


I thought I would write a list of the things I need to learn to become DEAD PROFESH and then I could revisit this every now and then and tick things off with a smug flourish.

So here is The List (in a kind of stream of consciousness order fresh from my brain)

  • Blind hems
  • Lapped zips
  • Trouser flies (you know for jeans)
  • A full lining for a dress
  • Pin tucks
  • Sewing with silk
  • Hand embroidery
  • A proper bag
  • A coat
  • Adjusting/upcycling ready to wear
  • Using a clapper
  • A shirt with a proper collar
  • Welt pockets
  • Puffy sleeves
  • Making my own bias binding
  • Using piping
  • Slash and spread grading
  • Narrow shoulder adjustment (that works)
  • Shirring
  • Making a cuddly toy
  • Using a French pattern (!)
  • Drafting my own pattern
  • A men’s tie
  • Knickers
  • A bra
  • Scuba/swimsuit fabric
  • Lace

Are there any other skillz I have forgotten that I need to know to become DEAD PROFESH? Which of these do you think is the hardest for a beginner? Which is the most fun or useful?

Miss Fat and Beautiful 1962

I’ve got lots of things coming up to blog about: I just need to get some  photos taken, and the ridiculous amount of darkness we have been plunged into is not conducive for lovely sunny bloggy photos.  But I have been making things! And I have a fancy new sewing area too. It looks so smart….

So for now I will just leave you with this fantastic film from 1962.


Let’s just take a moment to appreciate that young ‘plump and lovely’ women no longer have to dress like matron going to church.

And let’s also take a moment to reclaim the phrase plump and lovely.

I’m feeling pretty plump and lovely today: are you?

Ooh matron

Ooh matron