Christmas preparation!

Yes, it is October and Christmas is months away. However, I was given a large bag of damsons from a friends garden and have started to make damson gin. We will be very happy Chez Hood come Christmas. If they are exceedingly lucky I might even share with friends.

Damson gin in the making.

Damson gin in the making.

I do have more plans for things to make as gifts that are a long way from started.When will you start you Christmas preparations?

Paprika Jasper Sweater

Well, I got back from holiday last weekend feeling very much like this sunshine –

But by Saturday I was feeling much closer to this

The Management caught the well known ‘aeroplane cold’ which he promptly passed on to me. I have been feeling pretty gruesome since Saturday and think I have a few days of being kind to myself left before I jump properly back into life. I’m sure a good nights sleep in the spare bed will sort me out (along with a ‘hot toddy’ – whisky, honey and hot water for the uninitiated). I’m starting to fret about not being able to swim but I think I have factored enough ‘snafu’ time into the calculations.

However, before I checked out with the world I did manage to complete the Paprika Patterns Jasper sweater dress I had planned. I like to make the first project after getting home from a holiday something relatively simple to ‘get back into the swing’ and this seemed perfect. The pattern was bought right at the start of September in the Indie pattern bundle and so far it is the only one I have done anything with despite some of the others being really appealing.

There were a lot of sheets printed for the pattern – I don’t remember having a larger number to tape together but that may just be my diminished mental state. Despite that it was easy to tape together BUT there is a void in the taping where there would have been an unprinted sheet in the mix. It may have been that my printer was being clever and not putting the sheet in there, or I may have just outsorted it without thinking. Anyway, if you are about to make this up you are fore warned. There is a copy shop option provided if you prefer to do that.

I bought the navy sweatshirting fabric from Minerva Crafts before I went on holiday and had already washed and tumble dried it to preshrink. This is listed as a clearance fabric but is still in stock today. It is a lovely soft fabric, but with enough body to make it just right for this style. It did shed what seemed like a scary amount of fluff in the drier but is still very cozy.

Front view

Front view

Back view

Back view

The pattern is listed as a two out of three circle(?) sewing level – mid range I suppose – it does have single welt pockets and that glorious hood. Don’t let them scare you. The instructions are backed up with online tutorials if you aren’t understanding the written instructions, and the results are worth the effort. I finished this on Friday (just after I knocked the iron off the board – it was switched off thankfully – and killed it) and took one lot of photographs which were all rubbish. I repeated the exercise with Bessie modeling this morning as blogland really doesn’t need to be aware of just how gruesome  I look at the moment.

The kangaroo pocket is wonderful for stuffing cold hands into, and even though it looks really stupid wearing it indoors the hood is lovely. I seem to remember someone describing the hood as being ‘monastic’ and I can kind of get that (sorry, I can’t remember who at the moment). The button detail is nice but I decided not to make too much of it on this version as I wanted something casual and understated. The princess seams give a bit more shape than might be expected of a sweatshirt which is great and gives extra options for adjustment.

Will I be making this again? You betcha. Maybe the dress length version next time…..

Catch up post

Confession time. When I published my last post I was on holiday with The Management in Croatia – the promised sunshine (although not technically Winter sun so maybe I can get another break on a technicality?). Unbelievably, although I wore both the yellow skirt and trousers there isn’t a photograph at all! As I take most all of our photographs there are rarely any photographs of me on holiday. He could take someone else and no-one would be any the wiser.

Anyway, if you did check on my swimming progress last week and wondered if I was on the bottom of the pool that is the explanation. I have been to the pool since our return so I think I may be back on track – I had fallen behind target slightly by the end of week 2.

On a sewing note I have taped the Paprika Jasper hoodie pattern together and copying that , and hopefully cutting out my fabric, is a job for today along with sorting out holiday photographs (which I have started).

I leave you with a Saint. This picture of Saint Lucy was in a church in Skradin where we stopped to have lunch. Whilst I found the eyes on a dish a bit gory I was intrigued by the cotton reels and what appeared to be a ball of yarn (or a pom-pom). This is Saint Lucy who is apparently the patron saint of the blind and those with eye-trouble. I imagine the lace makers of Croatia must have had occasion to have prayed to her for assistance. There are a few dressmakers I know who would be glad of her help on occasion too.

Saint Lucy with bobbins and yarn

Saint Lucy with bobbins and yarn


Another Swimming Challenge

Way back in April this year I started adult improvers swimming lessons. I am still having lessons but am glad to say I have improved quite a lot! I did a Swimathon at the end of my first block of lessons and was amazed at the distance I managed to swim in aid of  Marie Curie cancer care.

Kim Hood

Well, I have agreed to do another fund raising swim but this one is a bit different – and an altogether bigger challenge. This one is the Aspire Channel Swim Challenge. Over the next 12 weeks (ish)  I’ll be swimming 22 miles across the English Channel to raise money for people who have been paralysed by Spinal Cord Injury. Apparently every eight hours someone is paralysed by Spinal Cord Injury. It can happen to anyone at any time, and I am aware of this because one of my friends had what she described as a minor fall from a horse and suffered a major spinal trauma. Her consultant said that if it had been one vertebrae different she would have been instantly and totally paralyzed. She was lucky and has made a full recovery (although I am sure she still has days that are somewhat painful though she never complains). Not everyone is so fortunate which is why I intend to swim this 22 miles in 12 weeks. Thankfully we avoid sea water (and the boats in the english channel) by swimming this in our local pool.

I managed to swim 2.7 miles in my first week which is a bit ahead of schedule but means that I am able to relax if I have a particularly busy spell with clients and such. Perhaps this is why my waist is starting to shrink a bit. Hmmm, nice side effect though unexpected.

Maybe you would like to join the challenge if you are in the UK, or you might like to follow my progress over the next couple of months at my Aspire swim Challenge page. I don’t expect to be sponsored by my blog readers but if you feel you would like to contribute to this cause (maybe you have personal experience of how traumatic this can be) I would be unbelievably happy. Here is the link to my Aspire Just Giving page.

Who knows, by December I may even have a recognisable waistline!

P.S. Because it has become so.much colder, and because I bought the Indie pattern bundle, I have decided to make the wonderful hoodie from Paprika patterns. The fabric has been purchased from Minerva and the pattern printed and trimmed. I will be very glad of this as the weather gets colder so I need to get stuck in!


Instant sunshine

I know I have been missing again – but I have been sewing. For me!

I cut this pair of garments out weeks ago with the intention of getting them made up immediately so that they could be enjoyed in the summer sunshine. Hah! Who am I kidding. Firstly, customers always come first. Secondly, I live in the UK – sunshine is rare and must be appreciated when it is there. Where possible no sewing on sunny days!

Perfect for sunny weather

Perfect for sunny weather

As you can see these garments are made as fillers in a summer wardrobe. At least I sound organised. They were cut out weeks ago and left to mature gently while the weather got colder. They are both cut from a linen/viscose blend that I bought from Barrys Fabric Market in Birmingham. I think I may have even scored this from their £2 a metre table. It was pre washed and, though softer, still very nice to handle with a bit of crispness to it. And yes, it will crease like the devil but I don’t care.

Front pockets into the yoke seam

Patch pockets to back

The trousers were from my own block. After making the Vogue 2948 pattern included in the Sandra Betzina Craftsy course I decided I should really dust off the blocks and draft my own patterns again. I use the trouser block from Hilary Campbell rather than Winnie as I found the fit better. (But if you decide to try this check the waist measurement against yours – this block waist is for a neater waist than mine!).

The details on the original pattern were nice so I used that as a starting point. I liked the little front pockets into the yoke seam which were very easy to replicate, and used patch pockets to the back. I didn’t split the legs to give a centre seam as this was the first time in a while that this block had been used, and I moved the zipper to give a front fly. If I make these again I may split the leg to get the lovely Betzina design. I intend to make a separate trouser lining that can go under several pairs that would benefit from the extra layer. I could wear these as they are but….

Back vent, lined and mitered hem.

Back vent, lined and mitered hem corner.

Pockets, always useful for collecting stones and stuff.

The skirt is the same as this one which I based on Vogue 1247 which is a huge favourite across the interweb. Again, the pattern was from my block (Winnie Aldrich this time) and fitted almost without adjustment. Astonishingly I needed to take in the waist a little. Hmm. Because I had a bit of time I decided to make a bit of effort on the finish. My customers get this all the time, me – not so much. I did just overlock the seams but handpicked the lapped zipper and mitered the corners of the back vent. Not very time consuming but with a bit more effort all round on the finish I get a garment I am proud of rather than a rushed finish.

So all finished, and it is now too cold to wear these most days in the UK. I had been waiting (not long , I confess) for a warm day to photograph me wearing these but it just wasn’t working – though I can say I am happy with the fit of both garments and will post pictures eventually. The Management and I do have a bit of winter sunshine planned in the not too distant future so I hope to be able to make good use of them then.

On to warmer sewing now I suppose.

The Real McQueen

After making the calico toile that Jess tried on for fit on my last visit I intended to make her a ‘real’ version of the jacket that could be worn out. Without all the tailor tacks. Her fabric choice was a very utility style khaki twill weave cotton that I had in my stash. I had originally thought it would be nice to make this in something wonderful but in retrospect Jess chose the right fabric for her as she wanted to wear this in a very casual fashion.

McQueen Kimono Jacket Front

McQueen Kimono Jacket Front

McQueen Kimono Jacket Back

McQueen Kimono Jacket Back

The pictures were taken very quickly before we went out for the day so I apologise for the quality. In addition to that Jess had done her marathon training before we arrived and had already run 8 miles that morning. I think I might have wanted to go back to bed rather than walk around Kew Gardens with the olds.

I think the jacket fulfills the ‘casual’ requirement – but I can see it will probably be returned from time to time to have the back pleats pressed properly again. The fabric does crease a bit (which has helps maintain the crisp folds to the back) and I imagine it may need to be freshened up on occasion. Jess asked for both fronts to be made the same length which I think looks pretty good. I am happy with the result and whilst I would still like to make this for myself at some point I am happy to put it away for a little while. Possibly a long while.

That is the finished report so if you have no interest in making this you can leave now if you want!

The making up details.

Whilst many people seem to be reporting that they have downloaded this pattern not too many seem to be actually making it – possibly put off by the scant (though fine) instructions provided by Show Studio with the download. I am sure that others have made this in slightly different ways I will share my experience.

As I said in my last post about this pattern I had the file printed at a copy shop which meant that I didn’t have to paste all the odd shapes myself and possible doubt my result. This I can recommend.

I needed 2.5m of 150cm wide fabric (although you could probably manage with 2.25 if you squashed a bit more, or made both fronts the same length like Jess wanted). The layout is fairly easy, I laid the main large piece in place and then fitted around that. The pieces are:

  1. Front and back combined. Cut 2
  2. Centre back panel. Cut 1 (I fitted mine in on the fold by folding the pattern piece in half).
  3. Back facing. Cut 2
  4. Front panels (Decorative) Cut 2
  5. Sleeves. Cut 2
  6. Collar/front. Right side piece  Cut 1 (Unless you make both sides the same length in which case use only this piece and cut 2)
  7. Collar front. Left side piece Cut 1.

There appears to be a 1cm seam allowance included in the pattern pieces – I sewed the jacket with this in mind and all the pieces fitted as expected. The grainlines are marked on the pieces but not in the way of the big 4 style patterns. Look closely and you will identify them easily.

I printed out a copy of the instructions from the download file and worked with that. However, I did make a few changes to the order and did a couple of things with this jacket that helped make things clearer for me.

Mark the letters to match in coloured pen.

Mark the letters to match in coloured pen.

Use coloured thread on the coloured 'x' marks to make matching easier.

Use coloured thread on the coloured ‘x’ marks to make matching easier.

I marked the letters on the pattern which needed to be matched in coloured pen, the bulk of the tailors tacks can be made in one colour but I used threads to match the colour on the pattern to mark the coloured ‘x’ marks. This helped when I got further in to the instructions. Don’t skip making the tailor tacks – even the ones that don’t appear to have a purpose help to get the creases folded correctly later.


Following the pattern instructions.

  1. As instructed. I pressed the seams toward CB having clean finished them in lining to neaten as they are visible inside this unlined jacket.
  2. Facing with CB marked

    Facing with CB marked

    The photograph shows which edge of the pattern piece is CB. I got that wrong first time.

  3. After sewing into place I under-stitched to hold flat.

    Bust dart back

    Bust dart back

  4. Bust dart instruction. I found this straightforward but not everyone seems to agree. Ensure that you sew the short seam between markers and then sew the long seam only as far as the clip markers – not all the way to the point which gives you a straighter shape to the front piece.
    Bust dart front.

    Bust dart front.

    I sewed this along the front edge to hold all the edges flat after pressing.

    Bust dart fold at armhole edge. (C & Y Markers)

    Bust dart fold at armhole edge. (C & Y Markers)

  5. Points C & Y need to be folded down in direction with the right side of the piece facing you. This will now complete the bust dart and you can see how this will work on the body as you hold the piece up.
  6.  This seems like the simplest instruction on the pattern, folding shoulder notches to make a dart. However, I looked closely at the photographs on the Show Studio page and this should just be stitched at the shoulder edge to create a tuck, not a dart like I sewed. I guess it is personal choice but the tuck looks nice.
  7. Point P joins with the bottom of the opposite point. This creates a dart which is pressed on the inside.
  8. As instructed.
  9. As instructed.
  10. One point N is the top of the part sewn in part 9.
  11. Point M-M. I had problems eventually pressing the tuck without this 1cm stitched section distorting the garment so I unpicked this and left it. The tailor tacks ensure that you are making the fold in the correct shape.
  12. See above.
  13. As instructed.
  14. As instructed.
  15. This is where it starts to look as if it might just become what you thought!
  16. Not Yet! I wanted to sew the sleeves into place and neaten the edges at the armhole edge before sewing the side seam – by waiting I thought I would get a tidier finish.

    Front edge detail.

    Front edge detail.

  17. Fold the pattern in half to determine the short edge. This is important and will impact later if you get it wrong. I clean finished the bottom edge only before hemming.
  18. I clean finished the bottom of both piece 1 before hemming these separately from piece 4. Check that the side seam is still going to match the length of the back piece when the seam is sewn with the facing.
  19. The long edge of piece 4 will extend beyond the hemmed edge of piece one when folded. You can see the finished detail in the photograph. 
  20. As instruction.
  21. As Instruction.
  22. As Instruction (though slight obvious difference if you are making edges equal).
  23. As Instruction
  24. As Instruction
  25. As instruction. I did this by hand to get a nice tidy finish.
  26. As Instruction. Clean finish as these will be visible.
  27. As instruction. Also clean finish.
  28. Don’t think you are getting this wrong when the sleeve seam isn’t level with the side seam – it sits slightly toward the front.
  29. As instruction – I clean finished.

    Side seam detail with facing.

    Side seam detail with facing.

  30. Now is where I sewed the side seam, folding the facing up to enclose the front piece. When the seam is pulled out and pressed towards the back it gives a lovely clean edge.

I tacked the folds into position on the back before pressing, clapping, and leaving the jacket on a hanger overnight to cool and set the creases.

By the time you get here you deserve to go and get a strong drink!


If you are thinking of having a go at making this jacket don’t be put off by the amount of instructions – most of what is done is fairly intuitive, and hopefully what I have been able to supply will help a bit too. Let me know if you make one!

A Management moment at Kew.

I spotted a raffia plant in one of the glass houses at Kew and got quite excited. “Did you use raffia at school when you were little” I asked. He looked faintly bewildered and after further explanation as to the use of raffia he replied

“No. We learned Latin”

That’s me told.





Hey presto!

Can I just tell you how happy I am? I mean really, really happy.

I saw the pattern for Savage Cocos Presto popover top a while back on Fadanistas blog and thought it looked great, then again on Shams blog  and knew I had to buy it. I loved the simple shape, but it was different to most t-shirt style tops you see offered. Shams is a similar shape to me (but with less tummy lumps) so I knew when she made it and was happy with a fit almost straight off the basic pattern I could be in luck. This pattern turned out to be my unicorn pattern. I made the large size directly from the pattern. No changes. Not a one. What do you think?!

Presto frontage

Presto frontage


Presto reverse.


The fabric is a very fine viscose single knit jersey that I bought several weeks ago with the intention of turning it into my basic t. It is magnificently soft and was not expensive so I bought it in this cream, pale pink, and a soft peach. I knew I had previously bought t-shirts from GAP in a very similar fabric – and then remembered that they were relegated to bed wear as they felt too fine for general use. Doh!

I downloaded the PDF over the weekend and taped and traced on Monday night. I cut the fabric out yesterday after I finished client work with the intention of making it today. It took about an hour. Yes, an hour – and that included threading all three machines in the correct thread. Zippy make.


The fact that this t-shirt has a double front as part of the design meant that I had found a use for this lovely, but currently unloved fabric. I cut the back double too (though the pattern can be made up with a single back) but left the sleeves as a single layer. The collar/neckline can be left to ‘flop’ or if the fabric plays ball can be made to look like a shawl collar.

The weather here in Bewdley has turned cold and wet today so the double layer t-shirt is fabulous as it just adds a little bit of extra warmth without actually conceding that autumn may be sneaking up on us (I did see that the trees are starting to change colour on Monday). I know I have some brown merino wool jersey that I bought and decided was too fine for the project I had intended it for in the stash. I think I have just found its purpose.

I will do my best not to bore the pants off you all with this pattern but I honestly think I have struck gold. A pattern that needed no alterations. Whatever will they think of next!



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