BP (or Before Pinterest)

Whilst I was sorting photographs after Christmas I found a batch from a visit we made to Hughenden, a National Trust house that was once lived in by Benjamin Disraeli, way back in September. It was a lovely place to visit but on the way round I found a copy of a scrap book made by Mrs Disraeli in which she plans her wardrobe. Clearly the idea that ladies in the public eye have to make a particular effort is not a new one!

Mrs Disraelis scrapbook

Mrs Disraelis scrapbook

Pictures had fabric scraps for reference

Pictures had fabric scraps for reference

Lots of pictures and notes

Lots of pictures and notes

This one please!

This one please!


Because this book was a copy I was able to spend quite some time looking through it. I enjoyed being able to read the notes (presumably copied from an original) which gave an insight on how it must have been to have lived then, and also to have been a person of note. Or at very least a person of notes wife.

I have just joined Pinterest and am intending to make much use of the facility this year. Just imagine how useful it would have been to Mary Anne Disraeli!


Darn that internet connection

Yes, it is still causing trouble. So I am out on safari in Bewdley (in the freezing cold it has to be said) looking for legal wi-fi I can hook in to. See how dedicated I am? It has to be said that buying a coffee and sitting in a local pub aint too bad.

And just to show you this…..O

The pictures of the Patrones coat. Awful self portrait but the management is out to work, and back in the dark at the moment

You may remember that I intended to make hand-worked buttonholes on this coat but after peppering the very few pieces I had left to sample on with test buttonholes I decided to go with a round ended machine buttonhole. I wanted the finished buttonhole to look a little more ‘there’ than my machine was offering so I carefully zig-zagged another pass, slightly wider than the original and falling into the cut area to encase the raw fabric. Looks fine to me.


The buttons were bought a couple of weeks ago (yes, I thought I would need them earlier than I did) and I am very happy with them. I wanted nice, but inconspicuous buttons for this. I would have been even happier had I been able to find a set I liked in one of my four, yes FOUR button tins. My father used to suggest that my mother and I checked the buttons before deciding what to make – he may have had a point. However, everything else for this coat came from stash so I am happy with that.


I wore it out to a Christmas concert in Birmingham on Tuesday night , hot of the ironing board, and declare it both warm and comfortable. I have already decided on my next project and will post soon – or when EE get me back up to speed so that I can access files and post pictures without everything ‘timing out’ before I am done!

I have already chosen my next project so I will be working on that around customer job next. More information soon.

Patrones Coat finished!

Yes, honestly!

I have spent some time over the weekend, and a bit more this morning determined to get to the end of this project. For a garment that was declared not to be an ‘epic’ project this has taken an unreasonable amount of time (and all my fault – I am sure that this could have been made in a fraction of the time by someone with their head in gear!) . And if I wasn’t having problems with my internet connection and strange things going on with the WordPress site I would show you pictures.

I will try again tomorrow. (Thanks EE – used to be Orange  and have presumably ‘improved’ things such that they are now impenetrable for non-geeks like me). It seems I can’t even add tags to this post. AAaaaargh!

Blogiversary and a new skirt

I have been surprised to realise that today is my blogs 1st anniversary. It is still a shock to me to find how many people have visited the site in the past year – and some have even been kind enough to comment on what they have seen! I love hearing from people so please feel free to say something when you call by.

The main intention of blogging was to encourage me to sew more for myself, and whilst my output has not been magnificent it is certainly more than I achieved in the previous year (and I feel is likely to increase as I have started to enjoy making things for myself again). I still feel a bit reluctant to show my methods of doing things – I feel I may be accused of trying to ‘teach my granny to suck eggs’ – so if you see something I am doing and want more detail please ask (I would be thrilled!). I also spent time last year doing a computer course which has been put to good use on occasion on here (did anyone notice that the misplaced post in the sidebar has been sorted out now? – and I did it all by myself!). I still have lots to learn but I think I’m getting better.

Another very happy accident of blogging is that I have connected with others through their blogs and gained lots of inspiration. It was from one of these blogs that I saw the skirt I made. Carolyn  showed this skirt in her round-up from last year and I apologised in her comments – but had to have one.

Carolyns Skirt

Great skirt - awful pose

Carolyns Skirt

Knitted yoke detail

 I can remember making granny squares like this as a child  – and never considered them as possible clothing components. The management was a bit nonplussed at the pile of squares growing on the table before they were all sewn together (I really hadn’t considered that part!), but he is now very impressed and declared it ‘very smart’. I think I should be pleased. I took this skirt away over the weekend and really enjoyed wearing it (warm butt in the cold, snowy conditions!). I had to adapt the yoke section from Carolyns instructions as I am somewhat thicker around the middle than she is but I think it has turned out very well – and I think it will be worn lots. Thank you Carolyn!

 Yesterday I showed a picture of a fabulous hat I saw in the V&A and it was identified as belonging to the wonderful Dame Edna Everage.I found a link to a picture of Dame Edna wearing the hat to ‘Ladies Day’ (!?!) at Royal Ascot races. I hope you can access the picture – s/he looks ‘goooooorrgeous’ (Best Dame Edna voices please!) Check it out.

Again, thanks to everyone for stopping by my blog. Please comment – it makes me very happy! I hope to improve the content even more next year as my IT skills improve.


Had a Merry Christmas…

… ate too much, drank too much, did no sewing at all. As planned. I am now feeling a bit guilty for all the non activity and feel like planning the next move. But I haven’t shown you the Christmas prezzys I made yet! (Don’ t get too excited – it was a last minute thing – as usual).

Purple Organiser Wallets

Purple Organiser Wallets'Chez Hoodie' - How perfect!

'Chez Hoodie'!

'Chez Hoodie' - How perfect!

 Pre Christmas I saw a 12 Days of Christmas feature on LBG blog for a fabulous organiser wallet that I knew would be a good gift for my daughter and a good friend. I had just the right fabrics in my stash and with a visit to a stationers and the local quilt/patchwork store ‘Totally Patched’ for batting I was sorted. It wasn’t until I started cutting the Paris inspired fabric I realised just how perfect it was! If you looked closely at the shop signs one of them was ‘Chez Hoodie’ – as a Hood giving a gift to a Hood it was just perfect. I even remembered to put my label in them. (Just as well as when my daughter opened it she didn’ realise it had been made for her – praise indeed!)

Paper heaven!

My darling daughter is probably most responsible for the fact that I have done nothing for what seems like days. I know I never work as well when the house is occupied so having both daughter and husband home meant that the sewing was scuppered – but when you are given a bag full of Stylist magazines (weekly magazines given away free on the London Underground – saved by my fabulous daughter!) there is no possibility of work. Apart from meals and pauses for fabulous TV I have devoured these magazines this week. Fabulous! (Lots of inspiration for sewing so perhaps it does count as work? )
I have been looking at the thread on Stitchers Guild about sewing related gifts. I don’t usually expect anything sewing related as everyone seems to think I would be difficult to buy for (just try! I’ll be happy – honest) but this year my husband found an old book which he bought thinking it might be quite amusing. I could hardly believe it when I opened the parcel – my mum had this book over 40 years ago and I used to enjoy thumbing through it even then. Kindles could never smell like this !

The Art of Needlecraft
The Art of Needlecraft – Published 1935

Looking back on 2011 I haven’t done as much sewing for myself as I would have liked but I have made some real steps in other areas. I took over ‘Material Matters’ fabric sales from Pamela in April and hope I have been able to serve my customers as well as she did. I am still on a very steep learning curve but hope to find next year easier now that I have some things set up on computer to ease the process. That was next, I have completed a computer course this year (and now have a Nationally recognised qualification to show for it!) which I did not find easy. All the knowledge gained is being put into use and I hope that I will continue to improve (watch the website – I am working on another tutorial online which may show some benefits soon!). I have failed miserably to complete 12 jackets in the Jacket a Month challenge – but I have 3 more jackets than before so I win anyway!

Next year I hope to be able to improve my business and do more sewing for myself – it was one or the other this year. Lets see what next year brings.
Happy New Year to all my readers.

Patrones and planning

Yet again I am the lucky recipient of not one but 2 Patrones magazines! My dear friends came back from Spain with these issues last week and I have spent hours poring over them.

I absolutely love the neck detail on the cover picture of issue 308, and the grey dress on page 11 (2nd down, first column on the middle picture) is simple but lovely. I am also looking at several pairs of trousers to try a pair in a wool tweed to go with my next planned jacket – but more if that later!

The other issue was a ‘Patrones Extra Tallas Grandes’ Issue 8. Not quite so much in this issue that I really liked until I got towards the back. Pages 42-45 looked appealing – but also strangely familiar. I trawled my past issues and, sure enough, found these designs in Issue 274 (Especial Fiesta).

Same model, same garments – actually same photographs. Did they think we wouldn’t notice? I love Patrones magazine but this does rather cheat its buyers don’t you think? I still like the first and last tops in the pictures and may make them at some point – but I still have the patterns from Issue 274.


Enough of that – I have finally got to the end of my computer course and passed the exam (Hurrah! I hear you say – perhaps the quality of the blog will improve! – don’t hold your breath) so I have a bit more time to sew for myself. I have long planned to make McCalls 5860 – which I first saw on Gigi Sews site. Gigi made a lovely version of this jacket and I lusted quietly after it – silly really since the pattern was available and I could make my own (not quite as good as Gigi’s) jacket. I thought this would be a very useful ‘anytime’ jacket – the sort you can throw on to go shopping or dress up to go out. The fabric I am intending to use is the stretch velvet  I have in the winter collection. Now all I have to do is decide if I want blue or almond…….


Innocent Pleasures

Innocent hats

This last week has been strange – hot and sunny in september/october in England? Almost unknown. However, as the conditions were so fabulous I have spent all available time ‘putting the garden to bed’ (though in truth I would prefer to put it to sleep – I am no gardener!)

Between client sewing, gardening, and trying to crack on with my IT qualification (slightly more than 50% done now!) I have not made any progress on the birthday jacket (that is scheduled for tomorrow – I am itching to get on now!).

But what of these innocent hats I hear you ask? Well, my husband (a non-knitter) is in an office that has decided to join in the request from the ‘Innocent’ drinks company for knitted hats for their smoothie bottles. You may have seen them in previous years – they are put on the bottles for sale and each bottle with a hat sold generates a small sum for a charity (This years charity is Age UK). They are so cute and quick to knit (I made the 2 stripy ones whilst watching ‘Merlin’ last night) that I thought I would help too.

If you want the details on how to help knit ‘hats for bottles’ check out the details at www.innocentdrinks.com/thebigknit .