It was the third one that nearly killed me

OK, so that’s an exageration, but by the time I was finishing the third and final last minute Christmas make I was feeling pretty rough. That’s what coming down with a stomach bug does to you.


Still, if you will leave taping and cutting out the pdf until first thing Christmas Eve morning (the house was blissfully quiet as I was the only one up) and cutting and sewing until after the kids are in bed and you’ve walked your mum home (I’m thinking it was about 9pm, it’s a bit of a blur now), then you don’t have a lot of choice if you need to get it done in time. Let this be a lesson to you me.

I was fairly confident as I knew a tshirt dress, with only 5 pieces (front, back, 2 sleeves, neckband) would be a pretty quick make, but I hadn’t counted on how rough I would feel. I even switched the pedal over to slow mode to help me cope (usually only used when kids are on the machine).

But, I did it, well almost, it didn’t get hemmed until a  couple of days later but it did get worn on Christmas day. And I decided to skip the planned step of adding in some side pockets.


So, this is Nivalis number 2, sized up 2 sizes from last time, one size because the last one is quite slim fitting with not much growing room and the second size because this fabric was a bit thicker and not quite so stretchy as last time (I think it might be ponte). Probably I should’ve only sized up one size as now it’s really quite long, but never mind, she’ll grow.  Also, I left off the tabs this time (that was planned, not just because I ran out of time).

Last Minute Shenanigans II

S0011201.JPGThe apron for my friends vertically challenged mother in law that I made 2 years ago was such a big hit that this year she asked for another one, in olive green. My friend gave me a bag with some lovely fabric that she’d bought and co-ordinating green webbing. (I no some people never sew for others but I have no qualms sewing for this particular friend as she does so much for me and others, for instance she just looked  after our dog for 2 days so we could all go cuddle a baby).


So the morning of Christmas Eve I set to work (before it was too late!). With grey thread because I had nothing appropriate in green and my non-sewing friend hadn’t thought to buy any. I made the neckband adjustable again, like before, and I was a little worried there wasn’t quite enough webbing left for the straps, so I raided my box of bits salvaged from defunct rucksacks and added an adjustable clip there too (takes less strap as you don’t need to tie a bow).


I mainly followed this tutorial to make a slightly fancier pocket on the front, it all got a bit rushed at this point so I may not have followed it exactly. It’s lined in some pinkish fabric from my scrapbox.

All safely delivered to my friend after lunch on Christmas Eve, I have yet to hear if her Mother in Law approves.


Last minute projects I

My son and his bright ideas. Either they’re going to get him a nobel prize or they’re going to be the death of me, I can’t decide which.


After lunch, December 23rd, latest brainwave, his sister, himself and I have to go to the fabric shop and buy supplies for them to make their own stockings with (we’ve always used LSH’s largest socks in the past). And then he refuses to follow my advice. Also he just had to piece the two tartan ribbons he’d got to put around the top of his stocking and find all the wackiest stitches on my machine.  Still, eventually, with a little help from me, the stockings were finished in time for bed on Christmas eve.

30 blocks a quilted


I did it, I made a quilt, from start to finish, all by myself, my very first quilt, and I even finished it on time to give it to my brother and sister in law when we were visiting to meet their new baby.


Fabric: a fat quarter pack I got given for my birthday present from the recipients.  Plus some nice “neutral” orange and turquoise from my local fabric shop. I got the cotton wadding there too.

Inspiration: This quilt here (although mine is clearly more garish and less classy!)


Making the quilt top: Getting everything to line up was, hard? tedious? frustrating? I dunno, it wasn’t as easy as it should’ve been somehow, and the result isn’t as good as I’d like, but things got better once I started doing LOTS of tacking before sewing. Maybe it would’ve helped to read some quilting advice but it all seemed to be either aimed at beginners (in a kind of how to use a sewing machine kind of way), or be needlessly complicated. So I forged my own way, pigheadedly.


Once the quilt top was finished I had to admit to myself that I knew not what to do next and luckily I managed to find a couple of tutorials at the right sort of level for me. Also, I didn’t want to buy any new kit to make just one quilt (actually, I did buy a gridded quilting ruler thingy as I figured that would be useful in “normal” sewing too.  And it probably will be, if I ever find it, it went AWOL in the bombsite that is my sewing room half way through the project). So, I had no special curved safety pins, no walking foot, nada.


I basted my quilt using this method, although shh, don’t tell, but I didn’t use any starch. So any wrinkles are almost certainly my own. I used 2 struts from a recently dismembered sofa as my “boards”.


I took advice from one of the lovely assistants at my local fabric shop and quilted it using a window pane method, rather than trying to stitch in the ditch. I forgot to buy an appropriate turquoise thread for the bobbin, so I used some variated green/white thread instead, and then some variagated blue/white when I ran out. The quilting went better once I worked out to start in the middle of a side, rather than at a corner.  Of course my most mismatched corner is smack bang in the middle of the K on the back in green thread, so shows up loads.



And I bound it using this tutorial, although I had to wing it a bit at the end as I machine attached the binding rather than hand finishing.

Then, just when I thought I had finished, I had over 120 threads to tie off. Yeurghhhh.


I did run up a quick taggie blanket out of the leftovers and some ribbons from my stash.


Ridiculously small cute niece didn’t really pass comment on the quilt, but she did try and stuff one of the ribbons of the taggie into her mouth when it was dangled near her. Her parents definitely seemed impressed though, although amusingly they’d completely forgotten about the fabric they’d bought me!

As the quilt only took half the width of the wadding I bought, I still have as much again left in my stash now, so there may be more quilting in my future, but not any time soon.




Secret Summer Sunshine


This is not a pair of jeans. I have nearly finished my 5th Liana’s, but procrastination and life in general keep conspiring to get in the way.


This is the scarf I’ve knitted my mum for Christmas, finally finished, ends woven in, blocked (kind of) and all ready to wrap. Not bad going considering that I bought the yarn at the beginning of January planning to make it for her mid March birthday.


Yarn: 3 skeins of Rowan Alpaca Colour one each of  Emerald, Agate and Garnet.  The colours change subtly within each skein, which I didn’t realise at the start.

Stitch: moss (seed) stitch, cos I like the texture and who wants a scarf with a right side and a wrong side.

Inspiration: My Birthday Scarf, as several times whilst I was making it my mum said she liked the randomness of the stripes, but it wasn’t in her colours. I’m pretty sure these are more her colours and I hope the substitution of baby alpaca for silk is acceptable too.

Length: All the yarn. And with 3 skeins, rather than the two last time, it makes a proper scarf. In fact, she will probably complain this one is too long. Also, this is a tad narrower at 35 stitches rather than 42.

Top Tip: For moss stitch, use an odd number of stitches so you start each row on the same stitch. I made so many less mistakes on this scarf than the last one.

This scarf was knitted in so many different places, including a long winding journey at the top of the front of a double decker bus winding its way slowly through Devon on a  Sunny day in May (it’s a long way to the VW specialist garage), and I like to think a little bit of all those places is knit into the scarf.

Fingers crossed she appreciates it.




Black and Fourth

For my next pair of  jeans I didn’t want any denim that fell apart too quickly or was annoying to work with, so I took some advice from someone else in the Thanksgiving Jeans sew a long that you could get away with a little less than 20% stretch on the Liana and got a load of fabric samples sent to me from a very helpful woman at Ditto Fabric after reading Melissa sing praise to their denim on their Fehrtrade blog and eventually I ended up buying 2 stretch denims and a non stretch one, including some black stretch denim which I thought I’d whip myself up another pair of quick Liana’s in, but this time using the straight leg variation.



Quick, ha, I forgot I’d have to tape the straight leg variation together, trace new fronts and backs and it turned out a couple of missing pieces too. Oh well, at least this denim was a lot nicer to work with than the metallic stuff and whilst only time will tell how it wears, it certainly feels a lot better quality than the stuff I bought locally.

So, interesting things about these jeans. Number one, cool fabric gifted to me by visiting sewing friend that I aused for the pocket linings, inside waistband and fly shield and also used as inspiration for my back pocket design. I loved how this bluey grey colour went with my denim and this is a real secret personal touch (as it won’t be seen when worn) that makes making my own so special. Amusing story about this gift?  She brought more of the fabric with her, but decided at the last minute that she couldn’t bear to part with it all and took the larger bit back home with her. Gotta love a fabricaholic. And it was all for the best as I had just the amount I needed.


spot the topstitching

Fact Number 2, using upholstery thread instead of topstitching thread for the first time, another tip gleaned from reading the Fehrtrade blog. This made a big difference in how easy it was to thread my needle and worked well, apart from the epic fail of failing to notice that the charcoal grey thread I bought so exactly matched my not quite black (sold as grey) denim ,that my carefully chosen pocket design to pick out one of the seed heads (or whatever they are)  from the lining fabric doesn’t show up at all. Boo. Oh well, I know it’s there. Serves me right for not doing a test sample before sewing (in case you’re wondering why I didn’t spot this sooner, I made the pockets first, tracing the design onto paper and sewing through that and the denim before tearing the paper away).


No 3 – don’t skim read that bit about clipping the centre front seam to a point below the circle on the pattern, or you will end up with a zip fly with a hole at the bottom that you have to end up zig zagging shut.


No 4 – do not attempt flat felled seams with a half inch seam, not even if you find a tutorial saying it’s possible, not even if you try it on scrap fabric and it seems to work, or you will end up with unravelling inside leg seams that you need to mend with good old zig zags before you have even finished your jeans. (No, there is no pic of this, but trust me it’s ugly. Instead you have a pic of my waisband, after I had to rip it out and redo it as one side was significantly taller than the other. Now it is only slightly wonky. Note also, the prym popper thingy that I used so I didn’t have to mess with button holes.)


However, that all said, they are jeans, they are finished, they didn’t sit in the naughty corner for months, the fit is good (although if making the straight version again I might slim down the lower leg a little, they’re wide enough to flap as I walk which I wasn’t expecting), they don’t look “home made” (not unless you examine my inner leg seam anyway) and they go with so many things.


The moral of this story, if you’d like to make jeans, but it seems daunting, then know that it gets easier the more pairs you make and the hard work up front pays off as you start to be able to knock them out relatively painlessly.