Thursday, 17 July 2014


So, when I saw that Sewcialists had made July be oonabaloona month I just KNEW I had to take part. Seriously. I have MAD SEWING LOVE for Oonaballoona (creepy stalker like sewing love if we’re going to be specific about it) – so I decided to take part… the challenge being to sew something Oona-inspired… and immediately, I hit a bump in the road… and by bump, I mean mountain…
I am not Oona. I mean, that’s obvious, but I’m about as FAR from being Oona as it is possible to be and still sew. Oona sews in bright colours and clashing prints ALL THE TIME… I prefer muted plain fabrics (because I’m boring snoring, and prints scare me). Oona sews FASHIONABLE clothes that are ON TREND (no really, she even made hareem pants), I sew clothes that look like I should live in the 1950’s (no really, I wish I did). Oona adds thigh high slits to show off her AMAZING LEGS, one of my sewing goals is to update my wardrobe to be more modest… Oona is tall and skinny and gorgeous (I MEAN SHE’S AN ACTRESS PEOPLE) – I am short, and curvy. Oona is SO AMERICAN, I mean, COME ON, she uses the word ‘y’all’ – I AM SO QUINTESETIALLY ENGLISH I WROTE A POST ABOUT SCONES (remember, rhymes with gone, unless you’re in Scotland/are the queen)…
As you can see – me, sewing something Oona-inspired? So not going to happen.

Look! I took a photo of me... by some
steps... to be JUST LIKE OONA
But then I remembered something, something that had been floating in my mind for a while, something that was ON TREND, something that would require BRIGHT COLOURS and a BOLD PRINT, something that would be GLAMAROUS… something that might, just MIGHT, be worthy of being part of an OONAPALOOZA

So, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you… THE OONA MAXI!
I even… in honour of Oona, have posted PICTURES OF MYSELF WEARING THIS DRESS, rather than the usual mannequin pictures (which will undoubtedly return next week!)

Pics to show the back of the dress...
it's the same as the front
I’ve wanted a Maxi dress for a while, but I’m not really the right shape for an off-the-shelf maxi – for starters, I’m pretty short, so they’d always be too long, and more importantly, maxi dresses all seem to be strapless, or have spaghetti straps, or a plunging neckline… Now, I don’t mean to be graphic here, but I am of a bust size that means that not wearing a bra is NOT AN OPTION… So I needed a maxi that would work to those specifications.

I decided the simplest thing to do, would be to make a peasant style dress – with elastic under the bust. I know peasant style dresses suit me (even if they do accentuate my ‘mumsy’ figure) – and more importantly, they’re super quick and easy to make! And I had a pattern that I could totally cannibalize to turn into it (which just meant I had to lengthen it really)

Didn't have a new york style street to
photograph in... so went to the park
The only thing I don’t like about this, is it’s not QUITE as long as I’d hoped, it looks awesome with heels, but not so great with flats. However, if it was much longer I’d be tripping over it all the time! So perhaps it’s a good thing. It took me a couple of hours to make (in between cooking and chatting), I decided to make it on Saturday evening, and then wore it to church on Sunday morning! That’s what counts as a sewing win. It’s super comfy, it feels like wearing a nighty, but it’s appropriate outdoor wear! Maxi dresses are the future! I may be on the hunt for more cool fabric to make a few!
Oh, and cost wise? This cost less than £5 to make and I still have a meter or so of the fabric left (although not of the lining) – admittedly, I did buy it from the £1 p/m section in my local fabric shop – but it’s awesome fabric! So it totally works!.
Complete win! £5 and a couple of hours effort and I get a new glamourous, OONA INSPIRED dress.
Thanks Oona!


I might not be oona-style elegant - but I'm thinking I don't look dreadful in this maxi!

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Broderie Anglais Skirt

It's just like it looked in my head!
Do you ever get that thing where you mentally plan an outfit, and then realise you’ve included an item of clothing you don’t own? I do this all of the time – mostly it’s with stuff that I used to own, but don’t anymore – I have a moment of ‘oh, those shoes would go perfectly with this’, rummage around to find them, and then realise I threw them out five years ago...

Very occasionally however, this happens with clothes that have yet to exist – and on Friday, I’d just had my nails done (shellac nails, they're awesome, unless you have nails that grow super fast like mine do...), and was deciding what outfit would best match them to wear to my grandmother’s the next day (for her 90th birthday party... in which I hid in a corner because nobody told me about the dozens of strangers I'd be forced to share the room with... even if they were all old and adorable), when I thought I should wear the white, gathered broiderie anglais skirt with my denim jacket… at which point, I realised I didn’t own said skirt… BUT THIS WAS NOT A PROBLEM.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

The Coat

The Coat that was in my head
So – I realise that the middle of summer is not the right time to be posting a blog about a coat. But seriously. This coat has taken FOREVER. So, I can’t remember how long ago I dreamt up the idea for this – the first time I came across that super soft fleece stuff – I don’t know what it’s called… it’s like fake sheep wool, but SO SOFT, like you have NO IDEA HOW SOFT. The softness of this coat is immense. Anyway, so I envisaged this coat, in navy blue, with a white collar and white cuffs turned back.

And then I didn’t do anything about it

Look at that adorable flash of Red
Mr P is a genius
I try to limit my fabric spending, I always have a million and one projects on the go which I already have fabric for, so I try really hard and not spend money on fabric until I’ve run out of things to make with the fabric I already own – but my work gave me a fabric voucher for my leaving gift (now, it’s worth noting her, this is not the job I’m in now (obviously), not the job before this one, but the job before THAT), so I decided to spend the money on the coat that I’d been dreaming of – and bought enough super soft amazingly soft fleece, and some navy blue corduroy, and a pattern. I started out with Burda 8292 – but wanted more flare in the skirt, so self-drafted some godets (or Bidets as Mr P likes to refer to them as), I also rounded the collar a lot, because I wanted that soft peter-pan look.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Failure on the First: Chocolate Fudge Cake

Chocolate fudge cake failure

I know what you’re thinking – how can anything involving the words ‘CHOCOLATE FUDGE CAKE’ be a failure. Well… me… that’s how.

This tale starts off with a planned trip to visit some friends one weekend, and during the week before I turn to Mr P and say ‘Hmmm, if I have time, I might make a chocolate fudge cake to take with us this weekend’ … wait no, let me write that correctly… “Hmmm, if I have time, I might make a chocolate fudge cake to take with us this weekend” which resulted in him telling said friends that I was making a cake… he’s a crafty so’n’so… ensuring he gets his cake that way!

So, anyway, I make the chocolate fudge cake the night before… I know you’re all dying to know, so here’s the recipe (hailed as magic chocolate fudge cake, because it contains no dairy and no eggs)

10 oz SR flour (less 1 tablespoon)
6 oz caster sugar
1 tbs cocoa powder

The chocolate fudge icing is really the crème-de-la-crème of this recipe (please note, not crème-de-la-crème-de-la-edgar! I AM NOT TRYING TO DROWN MY FRIENDS… also, kudos if anyone actually gets that reference), it’s even better, because there are NO QUANTITES, which means you must do it by taste, which means LOTS OF TASTING CHOCOLATE FUDGE SAUCE and invariably burning oneself on it… but oh well.
Melt an equal quantity of dairy free margarine and golden syrup together until the mixture is smooth – to taste, add cocoa powder and icing sugar (I know this is called something different in America, but I can’t recall what it is) until the mixture tastes goooooooood. WARNING, this will solidify really quickly, it will also not look elegant on your cake as it splooges everwhere and then turns into gooey fudge… but it tastes so good it doesn’t matter.

“Where’s the failure” I hear you all cry… well, it’s coming… So, I made said, inelegant, but tasty looking cake – got home from work, and removed cake from the fridge in order to take it with me. We got half an hour down the road to our friends (a 4 hour drive away… this is a long way in England) and I realised THE CAKE WAS STILL SAT AT HOME… WHAT A FAILURE.

Actually, I decided that I wanted the cake so much (and so did everyone else) that the next day, I made cake AT MY FRIENDS HOUSE. It was like friendship cake. Chocolaty fudgey friendship cake.

Which also meant that Mr P and I had a second cake to eat when we got home.
Wait… why was this a failure again?

Lesson learnt: Don’t tell Mr P about plans until they are definite… he will share them with the world just to get cake.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Rosebud Dress

Please excuse the photos taken with it pinned
to my ironing board - I don't have a small
enough mannequin
So, I’m guessing if you’re here, then you know about sewing blogs, and if you know about sewing blogs, you must know about Lindsey from The Cottage Mama. Lindsey’s work is truly incredible – most of us make clothes for children for them to wear, she makes tiny works of art to put on her children – seriously, the time and effort she must put into each and every piece, it’s like couture, but for kids. I’m a massive fan of hers. 

She has released a free pattern, WHICH JUST MAKES ME LOVE HER MORE, The Party Dress was originally released as a sketched pattern, but has since been rereleased to her email followers as a proper pattern, in sizes 6months through to 10 years (I KNOW!) - and it is just ADORABLE. I decided that I wanted to use it to make my flower girl’s dress for the wedding, but before I did that, I wanted to do a wearable toile, to see how long it would take, and to judge which size I needed to make it in. 

I braved the button box for these
Now, a few weeks ago Mr P’s mother gifted me a HUGE bag of fabric – she doesn’t really sew anymore, and she had a lot of things from Mr P’s grandmother, who used to make bridal dresses when she worked! I was obviously, completely delighted, FREE FABRIC, that’s the best kind of fabric – and whilst I was rootling through it choosing what I would take away (all of it), our little niece was “helping” me. I decided on a whim to ask her what she would like a dress made out of, and she picked out some pink poly-cotton, and some sheer green fabric, I couldn’t tell you what it is. I was dubious at first, but then I stumbled upon these darling little rosebuds – I have SO MANY OF THEM, I only used a few for this project, as I felt too many would have overdone it, but it made for the perfect dress. 

I wasn't convinced on
the colour combo -
 I lined the whole thing in dark green lining fabric (also from Mr P’s mother), and the buttons were from the button box she gifted me, OH YES, I GOT A LOT OF TRIM WITH THIS STUFF TOO. TRIM AND BUTTONS AND ZIPS AND ALL SORTS OF VINTAGY GOODNESS. 

Yes, the ironing board is
leaning against my dressform
 I will admit, the button box overwhelms me at times – I have OCD, and the mismatched array of buttons doesn’t sit well with that, HOWEVER, I managed to steel myself for long enough to search through and find some buttons to go with the dress – at the time, I also managed to find the CUTEST buttons for her flower girl dress, but you’ll have to wait to see those. I didn’t hem the green sheer fabric, just used the selvedge as the bottom hem, it kept it nice and light, and was neatly finished already – I’ve still got loads of all of these fabrics left, so suggestions would be welcome! (Although I’ve a plan for part of the sheer fabric, but not a lot of it…) and this was such a quick and easy sew, I made most of it in an afternoon at a friend’s house! (Craft Khaleesi, go visit her for AWESOME SCALE MAIL KNITTING).

Such cute button loops
Decorative stitches are the best!
 I finished the armholes and waistband by hand – because I like hand-finishing things. That being said, this is not the neatest sew I’ve ever done – it’s for a little girl, so I’m not bothered, because much though I love my little niece, she is VERY GOOD at destroying things – so I don’t expect it to last five minutes in her hands! I think one of the cutest features on this were an accidental feature! I hadn’t bought any ribbon or spare fabric with me to make button loops, however, I discovered that I’d cut the pieces for the sheer overskirt too long – so with a bit of chopping, I had enough of that to make into some adorable button loops, with the use of a decorative stitch on my machine – as advised by Craft Khaleesi, and oh my goodness, didn’t they just turn out cute? 
Hand finishing!

Overall, a pretty adorable little dress I think – I’m hoping the recipient likes it, and I’m feeling really confident about making the flower girl dress :-D as it should be even easier to sew up, as it’s only got one layer… I say should be… famous last words!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Why I Sew

Oh goodness – what a tricky question. I guess, in part, I sew to create. I’ve always said that my true passion is making clothes, and sewing is just a convenient way to get there. Growing up, I enjoyed textiles classes at school if only because it was the only ‘arty’ sort of subject that I was any good at. All my friends at school were very artistic, and I felt like the dunce of the class whenever we were doing painting, drawing, or clay modelling – but in textiles my work was passable. I was always overly ambitions as well, our final textiles project was to make a piece of clothing from a pattern – everyone else chose pyjama trousers (as our textiles teacher recommended) and I chose a fitted shift dress, which I made in a lilac fabric (I still remember it) and actually, I didn’t do too badly (although my grandmother put the zip in when she came to visit!)

I didn’t really sew much once textiles stopped being a compulsory subject, the occasional flag when we’d made a cool den and wanted to put our mark on it, or some clothes for my dolls (yes, I’m talking about being between the ages of 14-18 – I have delayed emotional development, so I act quite a lot younger than I am) until I graduated from school, and decided on a dress I wanted to wear to results day – which just so happened to be a dress that existed only in my head – so I made it (badly, I hasten to add, but I made it none-the-less)

That turned into a bit of a theme, wanting clothes that didn’t exist, like the time I was in my first year at Uni, and wanted a denim mini skirt with yellow ribbon edging to wear out (that evening) – I didn’t own it… I did own a torn pair of jeans though… I hand stitched the entire thing, because I didn’t have a machine with me!

By the time I’d reached my second year at uni, I’d stolen my mum’s Toyota – which I mostly used to make kit for LRP events – which was all I made throughout uni, until I started working, and needed a black skirt for work, and I happened to have some black corduroy. The rest is history!
Mostly, I love being able to envisage something in my mind and then create that thing. I’ve never been the sort of person who can imagine a picture, or look at a landscape, and then transfer that to paper – but I can envisage a dress, or see a skirt that I want to copy, and make it for myself!

Recently I’ve gotten more into hand sewing. The ladies over at Simple Simon & Co wrote a wonderful post entitled ‘Heroes of Homemaking’ – I won’t go into it now, pop over and read it, but the essence is that the dull tasks are when we can let our mind be free. I’m terrible at setting aside time to pray each day (I have a friend who prays in the shower, but oddly, I just can’t pray to God when I’m naked… which is stupid…) but I pray whilst I’m swimming lengths of the pool in the morning (which is a fantastic start to the day!) and I pray whilst I sew – mostly I pray around the garment, either thanking God for creating the amazing people who went into the pattern designing, and the fabric making, or thanking Him for giving me such a wonderful gift. If I’m making a gift, I often pray to Him to help me be a better friend or relative to that person – at the moment, I’m doing a lot of work on my wedding dress, which means I’m praying for His help to become the wife that Mr P needs.

Handsewing has also become my portable hobby – I used to read all the time (on trains, in cars, anywhere I had to be sat down but didn’t have anything to do) but sadly, the M.E. has affected my concentration sufficiently enough that I can’t do that anymore, but I can sew! Although sewing requires concentration, for me, hand sewing is very repetitive, so good for someone with a memory like a goldfish!

In short I sew because I love to create. I sew to keep my hands from being idle. I sew for love, love of fabric, love of clothes, love of God and love of the people I sew for.

This is me at LRP with some of the people who I love dearly. I made the top and skirt
that I'm wearing (although not the corset) (I'm the one in the green skirt btw)

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Patchwork Elephant

Rubbish patchwork - adorable elephant!
So, my friend Chrissie loves elephants, with a passion and I found this pattern by Katie over at Made By Enginerds - so I decided I simply had to make her a patchwork elephant for her birthday. Now, a quick disclaimer – I CANNOT DO PATCHWORK, the patchworkyness of this is SUPER MESSY, but it does look quite cute and quirky.

I made a couple of pieces of patchwork that were big enough for the pattern, and then cut it out. It was really quick and easy to sew up, although there was almost a HUGE DISASTER, when I was clipping the seams to turn it right side out, I slipped and almost cut his trunk off – however, this actually turned out really well, because I just stitched around the accidental incision I’d made, and it made his trunk look a lot better (I wasn’t so keen on how attached the trunk was on the pattern).

Look at that under-ear multicoloured deliciousness
Giving gifts to friends who can sew is always a little nerve-wracking, so I was delighted when Chrissie posted pictures of my little patchwork elephant all over facebook :-D. I’ve never made a stuffed toy before (incidentally, I stuffed him with offcuts of some really soft fleece which will appear for your viewing soon in the form of a COAT) and this was a really easy starting point. I’ve got a few more soft toys planned (mostly because my friend Ruth has a ragdoll pattern that I’m dying to try out!), but I would heartily recommend this one if you’ve not really sewn 3D shapes before.

I did debate making him out of just one fabric, but I liked the crazy patchwork, maybe because I loved Elmer books as a child – although this elephant isn’t quite so colourful! (Also if you don’t know who Elmer is, you totally should!). I made the ears out of just a single piece of fabric, as I thought the patchwork could get a bit overwhelming.

The tail is made out of a plait of several threads of embroidery thread – I think it looks so cute, and kind of matches in with the odd colour scheme that he’s got going on!

His eyes are badly embroidered on. I say badly, because the embroidery itself isn’t actually that bad (I used a woven wheel, it's actually really simple), but because although I measured and marked the eye points, I did it before I sewed him up, and must have not sewed him up perfectly (surprise surprise, this is me, queen of speed over perfection), and so the eyes are quite wonky when you loo k at him head-on. But hey! Let’s not judge an elephant just because he has wonky eyes.

Katy x

p.s. apologies for the terrible pictures, I had to take swift pictures of him before I parcelled him up to be posted off, so they were taken in the dark, with the light from my bedside lamp -.-