Relaxing, and getting things done, is soooo good!

Yes, it’s official – I’m retired  so don’t ask me to do a darned thing!

Actually not quite true yet as I still have a very small amount of client work outstanding – but it’s all work that has no deadline so I can actually do it when I feel like that sort of work rather than feeling obligated. How happy am I! I promise this is the last time I gloat ‘coz  I’m retired . Honest.

Anyway, my last post was a frantic dash to get the Jungle January garments posted before Ann slammed the gate closed so I didn’t tell what else I had been doing so I will start here..

In with my lovely knitting ‘Stitching Santa’ parcel from Jo  was a skein of sock yarn in lovely greens. Clearly since it was my gift I had to knit this for myself. Since I had no other knitting on the needles I decided to start January with this. The yarn was a lovely Superwash wool/nylon sock yarn by Knitglobal which knitted up beautifully into very comfy socks. Thankfully they are also very warm because it has been positively bleak here in the UK. Grey and wet. Yuck! There are another couple of balls of Drops sock yarn so I can start another pair whenever I want. Bliss!


..and back


Butterick 6388 front…

I started sewing with the Butterick 6388 pattern and a cheerful red polka dot jersey because …well, it’s miserable in January! Red always cheers me up. However, I really have to say I prefer this as a top (as it was for JJ in the last post). It’s a great pattern – and I certainly see more of these in the (possibly near) future – but I like the top better. The pockets in the diagonal seams are great but inclined to open up a bit when you are wearing the dress. I may go back and sew these closed. The fabric is far from high quality – probably plain polyester jersey from the Rag Market but I have no recollection as it had been in stash for ages. It does have as much stretch as the pattern claims to need but I would much prefer it to be stretchier as it clings a bit. It may behave better once it has been washed but at the moment it is giving electric shocks as there is so much static!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy next choice was another Rag Market fabric – this was an astonishingly good buy at a mere 50p per yard (or whatever length they were selling in that day) and is a very heavy jersey. I should probably have thought more carefully about that weight when I decided to repeat the wonderful Savage Coco Presto top in it. The front (and as it’s cold I did the back too) is doubled so there is a lot of cloth here. I  really should have put a petticoat under that dress before taking photographs – I don’t usually have a sway back problem so I assume the cloth is just stuck to my tights. I really loved this made up as a top and have worn the ones I made last year Yikes!!! it was 2015 a massive amount. They have every right to be looking a bit shabby now. I’m not sure if I will keep this as a dress or shorten it to a t-shirt length. I’m really not good at wearing dresses but I’m trying so hard. Perhaps you could tell me what you think?

In addition to sewing these for me I have been destroying a whole load of good cotton. I really can’t believe how long it is taking to cut the pieces for The Managements quilt! Sheesh! All that time and I’m going to be spending even more sewing it all back together. Remind me whats great about quilting can you?! I can assure you that progress on this project is going to be outstandingly slow. No, even slower than that.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHaving finished the socks I was knitting I have broken out of my sock addiction to start knitting a pattern by Purl Soho I saw a while back and just loved. At the time there didn’t seem to be many made up (and when I worked out the cost of the yarn recommended I could see why!). The Botanical Yoke pullover is shown made up in Cashmere/Merino which would quite clearly be heavenly to wear. As I hadn’t used a Purl Soho pattern (and as I said there was no information on Ravelry about the pattern at the time) I decided to make it up in a more summer appropriate, and purse friendly, Drops Cotton Light. Again I chose a bright red (what can I say, red just feels good in January) and have been enjoying knitting this whilst watching the telly box. I have the body knitted up to the armholes, and one sleeve started, so it shouldn’t be too long before I hit the exciting part. By knitting in this yarn first it will give me the opportunity to test the pattern, check the size (my guage is pretty much perfect), and decide if I love it enough to invest in the cashmere/merino to make a sweater to treasure. So far it’s looking good.

Already we are almost half way through February so there won’t be massive amounts sewn for me now (although there are patterns lined up ready to use). I do have a shirt cut out for The Management, and I really do want to start my coat before summer so I really should crack on. But, and it’s a big but, I am only sewing when I feel like it at the moment – and that feels really good. I have been reading, cooking, exercising, and clearing some of those jobs you always intend to go but tend to get left.

I’m enjoying life. Hope you are too.

Yucky/Lovely December

Oh boy have I had a grotty month – with the exception of the Christmas holidays. I don’t really want to go too far down that rabbit hole but I have been feeling grotty almost all month and it still isn’t sorted out. As a result I have been feeling very sorry for myself (crying at adverts and such on the TV is never good) and haven’t got anywhere near everything I wanted done through the month. All I can really thrill to is the fact that online shopping exists, without which we might possibly have been having beans on toast for Christmas lunch instead of the food that was so wonderfully delivered to the door by a very cheery chap from a local supermarket.
I have deferred some of my client work into January so my ‘retirement’ will be a little delayed, although I will still be doing a fraction of what had been needed previously.

I had intended to have a couple of trips into Birmingham to buy goodies for my #StitchingSanta partners but wasn’t able to do it. I did manage a bit of sewing and crochet for them – the ‘toiletry bags’ from Rhondas blog  which I thought would make great anything bags, and the face scrubbies from the stitchinmommy. Whilst I was reading the comments on Sewchets blog I saw one from Thimberlina who was one of my recipients saying that she wouldn’t mind one of the covered notebooks  – I hope you liked it Ali!

I was pretty miserable when I sent off the parcels to Ali and Hila as I had run out of wrapping paper, the gifts had been largely mail order rather than the Birmingham madness I had imagined, so weren’t even prettily wrapped. I swear I will do better next year and apologise wholeheartedly to Ali and Hila, and thank The Management for his help in getting them delivered at all. I hope you liked your parcels despite the numpty wrapping ladies.

I really was wowed by my two parcels.


Sewing #stitchingsanta

The first shown is my sewing package which was sent by Nikki from beads and barnacles . I was overwhelmed by the gorgeous sewing box she had made, and included goodies too – a matching pin cushion, needle case, scissor holder with scissors, and pattern weights that knock spots off my flat seaside stones. As if that wasn’t enough she included a piece of fabric, a lovely beanie hat knitted by her sister Pippa, knitting stitch markers, and a package with all that was needed to make myself a hot chocolate to have with the macarons she had made. Treasure indeed!

I can’t wait to start collecting my sewing gizmos together into that box – perfect for someone about to change sewing habits to sew for themselves instead of clients. Thank you for everything Nikki.


Knitting #stitchingsanta

Having gathered my breath from opening my sewing parcel I couldn’t possibly have expected the wonders included in my knitting parcel. Jo from Jo through the keyhole had clearly been rummaging in my foggy brain to come up with so perfect a collection. The sock yarn is wonderful – and as it was a gift I have to make socks for me, don’t I? There was also a beautiful knitted shawl/scarf which I will make massive use of as I’m almost permanently freezing at the moment. There was a knitted purse kit which looks like fun, and a dachshund brooch kit with a Mollie Makes magazine (which is new to me) so I’m going to be well occupied once my brain clears. There was also a book called The Great Christmas Knit Off, chocolate, and tea sachets. I confess that reading with a cup of tea and a chocolate is about my activity level at the moment so all of this is massively appreciated. Thank you so much Jo.

This was my first experience of Sewchets fabulous #STITCHING SANTA and it has been wonderful. Thanks so much for organising as it must be lots of work!

I have done some knitting for myself this month but haven’t had the brain power to attack anything that couldn’t be ripped out to start again. My vest is finished and I’m very happy with it (Bessie pressed into action again for photos – you really don’t want to have my mug at the moment 😞). As you can see there was very little yarn leftover – I did start  to worry that I was going to run out!

I made my mum a new tea cosy in a pattern that she must have knitted on more occasions than she could possibly remember. She was very happy, and very amused to have had one knitted for her. The socks were for Jess who loves wearing them as ‘slippers’ (and doesn’t bother taking them off for bed so any nocturnal rambling is with warm feet!).

I’m determined that January will herald a new start, and that feeling better will be part of it (positive thinking!).

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, and wish you a fabulous 2017 .

Kim x

Do you have Gremlins too?

I have had the sort of spell with my sewing (and knitting!) that makes me think that there are forces at work to prevent me from making progress. Bits of pattern seem to walk off alone, instructions go missing, and knitting patterns go missing from the bag. It would be nice to blame someone else but I suspect it is happening because I feel so disorganised at the moment. I have been trying to be organised, but clearly not hard enough.

My workroom usually looks OK as it has to be ‘within bounds’ for when clients come for fittings and such. Not so my ‘back room’. OMG it is a mess. This is where all of my fabric, patterns, magazines, and frankly anything else I can’t find a home for tends to lurk. I know that I am better at starting projects than finishing – and that tends to get as far as the planning stage where I have got the pattern drawn/copied, found fabric and notions, and….. ground to a halt with it all in a pile. Add multiple projects into the mix and you can see why it has gotten into a state.

Well, I decided that it couldn’t carry on. Inside every Mess Monster is a tidy beast who really wants to get out. Or so I decided.

Pattern pieces, paper and fabric

Pattern pieces, paper and fabric

Tidy pattern and finished hat

Tidy pattern and finished hat

Digging through a pile of papers (a very wobbly pile it has to be said) I discovered the pattern pieces for multiple projects still in my dreams, and also the paper pieces and fabric pieces for a bucket hat that was cut out before we went to the USA. I found the pattern on Rhondas blog, but it was from a site called ‘Lost in Paris’ and the link to Rhondas tutorial is HERE .I did take two of these with me and this one was clearly left behind with not enough time to make up. I abandoned the mess and spent less than an hour sewing this into a hat, and also putting the pieces (all sizes – now correctly marked) into an envelope and into the right place. Score! Multiple stray pieces now turned into a tidy pattern and a hat that can be worn. That can live in The Managements car – he has a sporty two seater which has a roof which folds off and when it does I inevitably end up with the sun in my eyes.

Seam guide

Seam guide

One thing I was reminded of while I was making this hat was how I mark seam allowances that aren’t standard – or just aren’t marked on your sewing machine. It isn’t particularly clever, and I’m sure loads of you already do this, but this is so simple it’s almost not obvious. I use Post It notes (Sticky notes) with the sticky edge along the point that the fabric slides against. I already have a magnetic seam guide which is brilliant on my old Singer machines but not quite so amazing on modern machines. I sometimes use the ‘quilting bar’ thingy to guide wider seams but sometimes that isn’t wide enough. Again, the Post It comes to the rescue. And they are dirt cheap so I’m happy to throw them away once they loose their ‘stick’.

I have an enormous pile of pictures pulled out of magazines and newspapers of garments/outfits I like. I could probably use Pinterest or some other clever electronic way of storing these to good effect but I actually enjoy just leafing through a pile of these pictures from time to time to see what jumps out. Sometimes it’s not obvious, or something has past its ‘sell by date’ and can be thrown away. If I had just put all of these straight into the folder where they live there wouldn’t be half the problem – but it seems quicker sometimes just to drop them on the pile in the right room. More haste less speed?

I also have boxes that my magazines are meant to live in. The copies of Burda are mainly in their box – but occasionally I do get one out just to check the actual picture against my interpretation of the scanned sheet from the magazine. Again, it would be so easy just to put it straight away rather than just adding to the pile. Are you getting a theme here?

If I can keep up the sorting and tidying I am sure it will make me more productive. I could never ‘Kondo’ but I can certainly see the benefit of getting shot of some of the clutter in here. There are projects (with pattern and fabric at the ready) that I had totally forgotten about. It’s truly shameful. The client work is thinning out a bit – although there has been a tendency for some of my clients to come with a ‘shipping order’ now that they know that time is limited. That certainly wasn’t part of my plan!

If I can actually plan my sewing as an extra ‘client’ I am more likely to actually shift some of these. I have always said that I don’t have UFO’s – do these count? If they do I have LOADS of UFO’s! Oh dear.

Larry has a hole!

Larry has a hole!

Larry front

Larry front

As it has started to get colder here now I have started to dig out my jumpers. I do wear them during cool summer evenings rather than a coat, but as I am a fairly warm person they have been tucked away for a little while. Imagine then my horror when I got my lovely brown Larry out the other day and discovered a hole in it. Right in the centre of the front. No hiding that! It is a fairly neat hole so I wonder if I have actually cut one of the loops whilst I have been sewing and not noticed. I have checked all over and can’t find any more so I don’t think it’s moth. I loved this sweater but it had got a bit large (I have shrunk a bit but not too much so I think it has grown), and it was a pretty expensive Rowan yarn so I am thinking of pulling this out to re-knit. Kate from Fabrickated has been knitting lately, and seeing all of her posts relating to knitting has been making me want to start a new project so maybe I should concentrate on this.


Tea and warm crust. Yum!

Tea and warm crust. Yum!

Thankfully not everything has been working against me. My sourdough starter, from which I make bread and cakes, has been behaving beautifully. I may just be imagining it but I find sour dough bread easier to digest than store bought bread – maybe something to do with being allowed to take ages to go through the making process? Anyway, my loaves came out of the oven in fine shape, and since The Management wasn’t around I got first dibs on the still warm crust with butter. Delicious!

So, maybe I just need to be better organised and that darned Gremlin will move out!

Who ordered Autumn?

Before I went away to America I had a load of fabric in a pile hoping to make it up for summer. Clearly that didn’t happen – and some will certainly not cross into the autumn range even if used as a layering piece. Because in my absence autumn arrived to Bewdley. Yup. Full on. Crispy mornings, leaves changing colour, the house is now feeling distinctly cool. I swear it was warmer outside today but I suppose that shows it is well insulated!

I cleared a few of the more ‘urgent’ jobs from the heap for clients last week (it isn’t that big these days which is a joy!) before having a weekend in London. This weekend was primarily a visit to Ealing to my daughter but we were also able to visit the Tate for the Georgia O’Keefe  exhibition. Well worth the time – and The Management said that he saw somewhere that there are none of her pictures on display elsewhere in the UK. None. We saw some in a gallery in Chicago so I knew I was going to enjoy this . The other reason for the visit was that I have been training for Ealing half marathon – and this was the weekend. Can I just say that I had a great time, and my daughter paced me all the way round beautifully! More info on my running blog if you want it.

Anyway, as a result of all of the running I have changed shape a bit – partly back towards my original blocks so it is mainly a good thing. The other good thing is that because most of my trousers and skirts are now too big in the waist I really need to either alter them (Boo!) or make new ones (Hurrah!).

Probably time to put away the fabric I got out for summer wear and go stash diving for what I need for the cooler weather. I always enjoy doing this as I inevitably find some fabric I had completely forgotten buying!

Have you changed to sewing for the next season yet?

Could this be the best reason to sew?

Clearing up papers and bits in my sewing room I found a piece I saved from the London Evening Standard from when I was last in London. This is from the 9th June edition and I meant to share it way back – but it got buried. Anyway, if you haven’t seen this prepare to be shocked…. or amazed.



If ever there was a reason to sew – or indeed learn to sew then I thought this was it. Do you want to be able to just scan someone to copy their outfit? Or be scanned? *shudder*

Big changes to come

I have made some big progress this month (as it has been almost a month since I last posted again) – some sewing and some just life.

The Management and I went on a weeks holiday to Cornwall only a week after I spent the  mid-week in London so constructively. I don’t feel bad about being away so much of June as I have worked pretty hard between trips to ensure I wasn’t going to fall behind schedule. The Management certainly needed a break – and this was a great opportunity to chill out, enjoy the wonderful sea air on walks, and chew out some big life decisions.


Enjoying a cliff walk on our 38th Wedding Anniversary

The biggest outcome from the week is that he has brought forward his retirement date to March 2017. Now, there is no point in him being retired and us not being able to do what we want at the drop of a hat because I am stuck on an order so….. I have decided that I will be stopping taking client work in December. My normal December/Christmas rules will apply so that effectively means that I will be finished all client work by Christmas this year! I was a bit uncertain about this decision at first but I am now seeing lots of benefits – the major one of which will be more time to do the things I want to sew. Hurrah! I have started telling clients and the response is OK so far, with the exception of the first I told who cried!

Anyway, what have I been doing? Well, washing all the fabric that I bought on the trip to Birmingham with the Demented Fairy ( and re-washing the piece that got coloured when it was sitting with another damp piece. Thankfully the transfer dye came out. Phew), cutting out the first pair of PJ’s (the bird box cotton since you ask) and a shirt in the red/black and white stripe for The Management ,  and planning a few things for myself that are still waiting in a heap. I have been blog stalking and coming away with loads more to add to my wish list (great, but not really helpful). The client work is up to date and the garden looks loads better so I can only hope that my own ‘wishes’ come true pretty soon.

One of the things that many dressmakers who are willing to do alterations are asked to do is alter clothing that has been ordered online – often allegedly ‘made to measure’. I confess I have probably made a fair amount of money over the years putting these right for people (and disappointed a few whom I had to tell there was no possibility of making their garment work). This isn’t another of those. This time I have an alteration to style on a garment that a client ordered – but I’m getting ahead of myself and she has given me permission to show photographs, so here we go.

A lovely client of some years standing has a wedding later this year, she will be the mother of the groom. After some searching online for what she might like to wear she came up with several options from the same source – V Bridal. Anne is very tiny so she knew there would be no huge hat (like the picture), and she thought the jacket sleeves weren’t right for her. The idea was to make a similar dress in silk rather than the synthetic offered by the company but the cost of the fabric and my estimated bill made this significantly more expensive than the offered dress/jacket. And no beading.The decision was taken to order the outfit and see how she felt about it when it arrived. I took the required measurements and they were duly sent off. I initially tried modelling the skirt to see if I could work out how this was done and was happy to see that I was almost exactly like the dress when it arrived.

I had Anne put the dress on so I could see – it was a pretty darn fine fit. The website says the dresses are made to exactly the measurements given – no wearing ease allowed there! She had just been on holiday and claimed to be at her heaviest, but we both know from past experience that she will lose weight in the run up to the wedding as she loses appetite under stress.

As you can see she looks great in the outfit, and once the sleeves were altered to be the simple straight sleeve she wanted she looks much more in proportion (You can’t really get the impression of just how weeny she really is from the pictures – and I can see she has already lost a bit of weight). The quality of the fabric was pretty good, and the construction was great (the sleeves had a base fabric for support and tulle to hold up the ‘puffs’in addition to the main fabric and lining). Bearing in mind the cost of the dresses on the website I can see the appeal of ordering to fit – and on this occasion it did fit well. With this in mind I would hesitatingly recommend the company – just take accurate measurements and make sure that you bear in mind there is no ease built into the measures you give. They were apparently very helpful by e-mail, and delivered the dress/jacket exactly when they said they would. For that alone they deserve a Hurrah!

I intend to get stuck in on the PJ’s and shirt for The Management next, but have every intention of being next in line after that!


Now a sick sloth.

In the evening after I wrote my last post, a mere four days ago, I realised I had a bit of a sore throat. Nothing awful – a bit of a scratchy feeling that almost everyone in the UK has at present. Not so the next morning. Full on streaming cold, coughing, sneezing, and verging on deaf from time to time. Not funny, and it got worse later in the day when I started getting giddy, off balance, spells – presumably all connected with the stupid ear clearing problems. Cue a day sulking on the sofa, which has turned into several.

Now, I am probably in with a whole bunch of you who spent a few days after the holidays sorting out stash. I included my yarn stash and was quietly amazed at how much sock yarn I had. Yes, I like knitting socks. No, they rarely use up all the yarn. Why not make use of this ‘leftover’ yarn to make socks. There was certainly enough of it. There was other yarn too but we can gloss over that for the moment.

I spent some time blog hopping and generally  wasting time researching online and saw references to knitting two socks at once. I have used other videos from Knit Purl Hunter when I have been uncertain and can recommend them with great confidence. This is a way to ensure a matching pair no matter how random your yarn selection is (provided you divide it into two balls to knit from). My brain definitely wasn’t up to using multiple balls of yarn so I selected a couple of balls that ‘sneaked’ into my last yarn order from the Wool Warehouse.

Toe up socks - two at once!

Toe up socks – two at once!

The yarn is Drops Fabel print which is 75% Wool, 25% Polyamide in common with most sock yarn. It forms a sort of ‘fair isle’ pattern as you knit. I have knitted lots of socks, not all blogged – after all, how many pairs of socks are interesting? – so I was confident that my brain could handle that but would it cope with two at once? Initially it was a bit difficult until the toe increases had been completed. Not brain difficult – just difficult to maneuver the stitches in the way I needed in such small numbers.  After the increases I went into ‘automatic pilot’ and just knitted a few rows (circuits?) at a time between reading a book, watching tv, making tea, and listening to a podcast. They are coming on fairly well now, as you can see, and the instep increases have been completed. I’m a little worried about the heel turn because at the moment I’m not sure I have the brain capacity for that despite feeling a good deal better.

Going back to the podcast – am I the last person on the planet not to have heard of ‘Serial’  ? My daughter recommended it while she was here at Christmas and it seemed like a good ‘I don’t actually have to do anything and can still enjoy this’ activity. Hooked. I’m still uncertain if this is fact or fiction. Feel free to tell me if you know – it wont spoil it for me.

I have done some work on the brown trousers. Only the waistband and hem to be completed now. The fabric has turned out to be much stretchier than I had anticipated so I am still dithering about what to use as interfacing to stabilise the waistband.

Thanks for all the suggestions as to what I could use the fabrics I showed in the last post for. There are some really good ideas there but, again, I am dithering about choices. I will let you know when I decide.

Before I leave you can anyone tell me when Vicks Vapour Rub became VapoRub? I’m sure it worked better when it was spelled properly.

New Year Sloth

Am I the only one who seems to have forgotten how to sew over the Christmas break? I have been ready to get going again, really wanted to sew. Boy have I been making some truly basic mistakes. Anyway, as a result of that I have been taking the trousers really slow (when I haven’t been taking them apart!). They are coming on now that most of the fiddly bits are done so I have great hopes that they will be finished without any more unpicking – and fairly soon!

The Management is properly back at work now, and most of the jobs strictly relating to the holidays are out of the way. I have even spent some time just generally tidying my workroom and stash. I hadn’t quite got down to sharpening pencils but that probably wasn’t too far away when I decided I really just had to get on.

During the work avoidance (and stash shuffling!)I did some planning. Here are another couple of fabrics that I found and really think should be used soon, they also co-ordinate with the brown of the trousers so all I have to do now is decide what they should become. Easy eh?

Pre washed fabric - what could it be for?

Pre washed fabric – what could it be for?

The pumpkin coloured fabric on the left is a felted, knubbly, wool jersey. It might have been a boucle once upon a time and is supposed to be dry clean only. Yeh right. I was pretty sure it would shrink a bit when washed but it should be OK from here on. I think I want to make a long waistcoat/vest out of this. I have seen a few in magazines and whilst I have a couple of ideas I think I need to get the pencils out and start sketching.

The brown on the right is a merino wool jersey. It is lovely. and I have what seems like loads of this to play with! I am sorely tempted by another Savage Coco Presto top – although I think it could probably be useful lengthened into a dress. Whatever it is to be made into I think it should be soon – it is getting cold here. Not Alaska cold I’ll admit – but cold enough to want a nice Merino ….. (fill in the gap).

Since these have both been washed they are ready to be worked. Any suggestions will be gratefully received (although I can’t promise I will follow!)

I truly hope your plans are coming to fruition faster than mine!







Je suis finis!

Well I made it. Just before the 7th December deadline I have completed the 22 mile Aspire Channel Challenge. I finished my last lengths in my swimming lesson this morning with the people who have given me the confidence to even try this.

I have to say an immense thank you to the people who have contributed to my fundraising. I was aiming to raise £100 but thanks to everyone’s awesome generosity I have exceeded £200.  Again, thank you.

So, to anyone who is looking at any challenge – big or small, fundraising or just for yourself – my advice is JUST DO IT! You might be very surprised (I am!) And it’s a great feeling. Even if you don’t succeed, at least you tried. How do you know what you are capable of without stretching a bit.

I saw a lovely quote recently that said something like ‘aim for the moon, even if you fail you will still be amongst the stars’.

So todays challenge from me. Do, or plan to do, something you didn’t know you could. Backward roll anyone? Bound buttonholes? Knitting a sock? Whatever you decide to do enjoy your challenge and tell me about it.

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?