No sewing – but Punks!


My fabrics – for me.

I have had a really good time of late – but very little sewing has been done. I had a lovely day in Birmingham at a meet organised by the magnificent Demented Fairy which she talked about in her post here . She is a great encourager of fabric purchases (as if I need the encouragement), and I came home with all of this despite not really intending to buy anything. The fabric from Barrys for me was really not necessary but it begged me to bring it home – I am still deciding what to do with it. The blue patterned fabric was from the ‘Liberty’ man in the outside market on a previous visit  and I was delighted to see how well it went with this lot.


PJ fabric for The Management – except now he wants a shirt from one

The Management is in need of a couple of new pairs of PJ’s so I was happy to buy these lengths with that in mind. I really hadn’t considered that when I made the first pair in silly fabric it would mean he wants all his PJ’s made to order in future. At least this lot would be OK if he ever needed to go into hospital – I’m not sure what would be made of the tractors or helicopter pairs! The ‘bird box’ stripe and the fine black and red stripe were both from Barrys, but the other stripe was from a new fabric store which was new to all of us – EU Fabrics – still unpacking fabric but happy to take our money. They appear to be mainly wholesale but didn’t object to selling me 4 meters. There was some interesting stuff in here, maybe factory surplus? Anyway, we spotted neoprene and waxed cotton among other goodies and I will certainly be adding this to my shopping circuit.

I spent another few days in London last week. The Management had work based in central London and I bummed in on the trip. He seemed to enjoy the company but it must have been a bit galling to be told about my daily adventures when he had been working!

Tuesday was spent at the V&A, I love that place. I wandered through the underwear exhibition again and have to say I enjoyed it more this time. The photographs of Paul Strand were wonderful, I spent a good while in that exhibition. If you want to see this you will have to hurry as it closes early in July.

Wednesdays treat was a visit to the V&A’s sister site – The Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. There were toys going bag to before my childhood and coming up to date. It was amusing and thought provoking to see how ‘safety’ has become much more of an issue recently. I’m sure we all remember having sewing sets and knitting Nancy’s like those pictured – child services would probably get involved if you gave a child needles now. Sad.


Childrens goodies

On Thursday I had a swim at the magnificent Kings Cross Pond Club. The weather certainly helped but it was wonderful to swim in a ‘natural’ environment rather than a chlorinated pool. Kings Cross has changed immensely since my days living in Watford and traveling into London. There was an exhibition of punk, which was current at around the time I lived in Watford. It was a very enjoyable time in my life but I was never a punk. I probably wasn’t brave enough, and I’m not convinced that the bank which employed me would have approved 😉. This closed on Saturday so if you didn’t get there enjoy my pictures. Sorry that the quality isn’t great.

The Sex Pistols t-shirts relate to a single and album the are in our collection. I really enjoyed looking at this exhibition, and contemplating how the look was diluted and ended up in mainstream. I know that many people didn’t like punk but I think it was just the ‘disruptive influence’ of that particular time and there always needs to be one. And it gave us some great designers – Westwood being the obvious one (and very visible in this exhibition) but not the only one.

I spent some time around Soho in the fabric and haberdashery shops which I thoroughly enjoyed. Since I was sans Fairy I got away without buying fabric – and incidentally the prices make Birmingham shops look positively bargainous – but also without the zips I had hoped to buy for my ziggi jacket. Back to internet sources for those I think.

It will be good to get back to sewing this week. Strangely I have started to feel the creative itch – I just need to get active before it goes away again!

Whatever you are doing I hope it’s going well. 😃

Another Jasper…and other stuff

In my last post a referred to something else I had made – another Paprika Jasper sweater. This one is without the hood as I had a very limited amount of fabric. I really love this pattern and can see lots more made this winter.

My new favourite sweater

My new favourite sweater

So, the details. The fabric is a piece of (probably) polyester ‘stuff” which has been in the stash long enough to have celebrated multiple birthdays. It’s more likely to have been there for decades. I seem to remember buying it from a market stall in Kidderminster which hasn’t traded in a Loooooong time. I had seen a number of cabled sweaters in the fashion magazines, Pinterest etc. and this fabric came to mind. I had just 1.5m of 150cm wide so I knew I was going to have to get creative with the cutting to fit it all in. Delightfully, it fitted with whispers to spare. I always like to have minimal amounts of scrap after cutting out.

Tiny pile of scrap

Tiny pile of scrap

Unexpected bonus!

Unexpected bonus!


I have already worn this lots, and I can confirm that it washes well! It was brilliant to discover I had a ready made ‘spectacle hanging loop’ as I frequently put my specs down and can’t find them again. Must be age.



Looking good at half way.

Looking good at half way.

My daughter was home this weekend and admired the hoodie while I was wearing it so that is a

Jess on the finish line

Jess on the finish line

big seal of approval. She had run the Snowdonia Marathon on Saturday and managed to beat her London Marathon time on a course with mountains!


Which leads me on to the next make. How many of you have used the wonderful Funki Fabrics printed lycra? Yeah, it’s great isn’t it. But how many of you have spotted the winter lycra? Can I send you to the site right now because it’s great – no wait until you  have seen Jess’s leggings.

The lycra has a kind of fleecy back which feels gorgeous. I think it might be just a fraction less stretchy in the width than the standard lycra but has plenty of stretch in the length. I made Jess the normal Shin leggings pattern without any changes and she declared them a success after wearing them on Sunday morning (actually all of Sunday which is probably a good sign). They haven’t been washed yet but I am sure that with the pedigree Funki Fabrics Have it will be fine.


Winter leggings

Winter leggings

I have bought more fabric in black for me so I hope to make some warm leggings for myself really soon. They will not only be worth having for running (stretching the definition the way I ‘run’) but also for marshaling at Parkrun, and to wear as an extra insulating layer under my diving dry suit. These are going to be so useful I should really get on ASAP.

I must make a comment about my coverstitching. As you may know I bought the Janome coverstitcher which I have been very happy with. However, on this garment I started to have problems with the thread getting stuck and breaking – lots of unpicking and bad language. I was confident the cops were Moon (which is a Coats thread and usually pretty reliable) and they had behave beautifully on the overlocker. However, I decided to change all the threads to Gutterman reels and try again. Perfection. I can only assume these reels were an inferior brand and the Janome didn’t like them. So, anyone having problems with a coverstitcher – before you start fiddling with all the dials try changing your thread. I will not be saving any pennies with ‘cheap’ thread in the future as it costs too much in time if I make a mistake.


Swimming update

You might have noticed from my ticker in the side bar but I have now swum half the distance needed to complete my swimming challenge. I was thrilled to be able to get this far in the official half way point as I had been on holiday for one week, then ill another. I am now pretty confident of finishing the English Channel distance (22 miles) by the required 7th December deadline.

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!


Swimathon done!



Yay me! I managed to swim the required 64 (yes, 64) lengths of the pool to complete the distance for the Swimathon. I was told that I could carry on for as long as I needed for my ‘swim down’. My what? I presumed she meant time to cool off but thought I would just try to carry on to 70. I miscounted and managed 72 lengths before staggering out of the pool for my shower. (I only know how far I swim by using a Swimtag that does the counting for me!)

I was pleased to feel fine the following morning – prior to my lessons I would have barely been able to move my neck after 10 lengths. For the sharp eyed (and date aware) among you I can report that we ‘adult improvers’ were allowed a session all to ourselves midweek so we wouldn’t be intimidated by ‘good’ swimmers.

I can also tell you that I have been working on the first pair of trousers/pants from the Sandra Betzina ‘Pant Fitting Techniques’ class from Craftsy. More on that next weekend – I wont be sewing this week as I am abandoning The Management’ to visit my mother for a few days. However, I will say that I hope if you are sewing it is going better than this. Harrumph.

Tidying loose ends – and making jeans

I don’t know if anyone else will hold their hands up to this but I can procrastinate at Olympic level. Probably gold medal Olympic level. One of the things that is guaranteed to sit me down with a magazine and a cup of tea rather than doing what I am supposed to be doing is chaos. You know the stuff – the pictures of garments from magazines for your wish list, repairs/alterations that shouldn’t take long (once you actually get down to it), projects cut out – or even started (UFO’s) and sitting awaiting attention.

Well, in two separate magazines I have read recently had articles about/by  Gretchen Rubin who is a happiness guru. Who wouldn’t read that? She has written a book called ‘Better Than Before’ and what was detailed in the article I read was very interesting – and eye-opening. She identifies the sort of problems that I certainly recognise, but then suggests ways to correct them dependent on what category you fit. One of the main things to stop you being effective/happy is just that – chaos. So, how to improve?

There are four categories to choose from  – Upholders (self-directed, follows rules easily), Questioner (needs to know why they should do something), Rebel (do I need say?), and Obliger. Guess which I fall into? Yes, obliger. The sort of person who can hit deadlines, demands, and responsibilities – just not if they are for themselves. The doormats of the habit world. Humph.

Ms Rubin suggests that we can all be better by making things into good habits rather than choices. Makes sense, easier just to do something than to decide if you want to do something. As an obliger I can improve my chances of actually doing what I want for myself by committing to accompany someone (exercise buddy, class or such), or announce my intent.

Following reading the article I have gone back to writing myself an achievable ‘to do’ list daily which includes something for myself daily. That may be to go for a swim, or to sew something that will make my own life better. Stress the my own as opposed to family – which I know I would do anyway.

Velvet Jeanius

Gargoyles of the world unite…

Velvet Jeanius

Not a bad rear fit.

Progress? I found two pairs of velvet jeans which had been cut out in January, prior to my client flurry, which I knew fitted as they were from my Jeanius pattern. Since they counted as clutter/UFO’s I decided to get stuck in on those.

I hadn’t cut the pockets and zip guards/facings so I had fun riffling through the scrap bag to find suitable innards. I thought these looked pretty.

Great 'scrap' inners

Great ‘scrap’ inners

I am glad to shift this long standing project. Velvet jeans. Just in time for spring. Perfect. Despite the bad timing I am happy to have them done and feel a blockage has been shifted so I can get on with other stuff now. I promise, no more Jeanius for a good while – we are all getting bored with them (despite them being such a good addition to my wardrobe).

Another result of reading the articles, and thinking about how I intended my life to change somewhat now that I am reducing the amount of client work I intend to take, is that I have decided I really must reduce my stash. I had a fair amount of fabric left from when I stopped trading as The Material Lady and I don’t want it all hanging around. When I get things sorted into what stays and what goes I will list some of the ‘fabric to go’ for sale on this blog. Not all will be ex-TML fabric – I have to confess to buying more fabric than is reasonable for longer than I can remember so there will be all sorts of things. Probably even some Linton Tweed.

On another note, I have been taking ‘adult improver’ swimming lessons (I have only wanted to do this for about a year….). Yes, I am a scuba diver but actual swimming was never my ‘fun’ activity because my neck was always so sore afterwards. Janet Street Porter identified the style as swimming like the Loch Ness monster recently! Anyhoo, I am now better and have signed up for a swimming challenge next week to swim 1.5 km and raise some money for Marie Curie Nurses. Wish me luck!