Xmas present suggestions – help!

I’ve been asked for my Xmas wish list so “Santa” knows what too get me.

Now before anyone argues it should be a surprise and I’m ruining the spirit of present giving, we’re talking about a list of suggestions of which I’ll only get one or two which will of course keep an element of mystery involved.

And please don’t think I’m unaware that I am a very lucky lady to get gifts at all. I am always grateful for anything I get from the lovely people in my life. Regardless of price! It really is the thought that counts and I always try to put time, effort and humour into my presents for others too.

I also believe anything hobby specific that people wouldn’t be able to just wing buying are fine to set out details for.

So that’s what I’d like help with… the sewing related items.
Patternmaking for a Perfect Fit: Using the Rub-off Technique to Re-create and Redesign Your Favorite Fashions by Steffani Lincecum (Paperback, 2010).

Recently promoted by Sunni, this could solve some of my woes about hanging onto old dresses that just fit sooo well. I like the idea of this but not sure if the instructions will be clear enough for me.

Anyone able to offer a review?

Fabric for Fashion: The Swatch Book by Clive Hallett and Amanda Johnston (Spiral Bound 2010)
This book contains swatches of lots of fabric so you can learn how to recognise them better.

I’m always struggling with this as pictures dont really help and most of the time the fabric I buy it’s unlabeled. Bit of overkill given the price but guess if someone wants to treat me to something I can’t bring myself to buy, that would be nice right?

Any other suggestions?
I have the Sew U Home Stretch book, Famous Frocks and the Colette Handbook. I wasn’t keen on the Burda Sewing Handbook. I also have the Cath Kidston craft books!

I’m definitely not good enough to tackle Gertie’s book yet. And Sew Iconic been getting horrible reviews.

Am I missing out on any good sewing biographies? I loved Edith Head’s Hollywood. If I was into tailoring I think Bespoke: Savile Row Ripped and Smoothed would be good. If I was a spoilt brat I’d ask for The Little Black Jacket but I think that’s a bit costly for a coffee table book no matter how awesome it looks.
I’m tempted by a rotary cutter and mat to stop my slippy and knit fabric going all over when I cut them. I love my fiskars scissors so my first instinct is their rotary cutter. Is that a good assumption? And then what about size of blade and mat?
I have heard you should try holding the cutters to pick the best handle for you but all the cutters I’ve seen were shrink wrapped.

I would love a knicker making kit. I was so jealous when lovely ladies from the sewing community met up in Bath for their class.

The sublime stitching patterns make me want to take up embroidery again.

Gone are the days of sweet little flowers. There are so many cool designs out there!

And I would love some project runway boxsets on DVD so I can watch again. Gosh I love Tim

And now my brain is running dry! Other suggestions are welcome!

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New Look 6808 – FINALLY!

Yaaaaaaaaay I’ve finally finished a new look 6808 top after buying the pattern nearly a year ago.

Why so long you might ask? Well it took me this long to fit it properly.

I made four attempts. FOUR! Yeesh.

I worked out I’m a 8 around the neck, a 10 at the arm holes and bust, a 12 at the waist and a 14 at the hips.

Now I have the perfect fit though. I even added a centre back seam to help the fit.

I used a purply-black poly micro-fibre fabric that I’d used as lining for my fake cambie.

And some pink poly scraps I had for the collar and the sleeve lining.

I’ve never encountered a pattern with lined sleeves before.

Little odd but love the effect I was able to create here.

I drafted the collar myself. I used the neck facings to work out the general size of the collar I needed and a french curve on the front collar pieces. I wish I’d curved them slightly closer together.

There’s a small gap at the front that I don’t mind too much but wish I’d spotted earlier.

I put the collar together using instructions in my Reader’s Digest Sewing Guide.

It’s really well illustrated and has little tips for each different type of collar you want to create / attach.

I didn’t want my collar to have a centre back seam so I had to make sure the collar fit perfectly given my odd extra bit of construction.

The hem isn’t wonky at the back, that’s just where the top slipped on the hanger.

In other news I also got a gift in the post! The pattern I won from Dotty Doodle.

And look how cutely she wrapped it up for me.

NL6808 Review:


It’s a super wearable straightforward to sew top that can be made dressy or casual as required.

There are good variations to create the perfect top you need with long sleeves, collar variations.

And it’s like a blank canvas for embellishment!

Nuff said right?


For me it was determining the sizing. I am a freaky body type though. Crazily small shoulders and neckline, small bust, bigger waist, even bigger hips. And it took me a while to grade the pattern correctly. What made it more difficult for me is that all the sizes aren’t on a single pattern pieces. They cover only a few, e.g. 8, 10, 12 with another for 14, 16, 18. Great for anyone who wants to grade between those sizes. Not so great for me.

Oh well.

Would I make it again? And what would I do differently?

YES!! Hell yes I’m making this again. Now I’ve mastered the fit I’m going to be all over this pattern. I’m going to make one with buttons down the back. Another with the long sleeves. Another in view c with the side collar/bow. Another with a pleated panel on the front. Another…. oh I’ll shut up because you get the jist!

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Birmingham Blogger Meet Up!

So much has been going on recently that I want to share.

Firstly the lovely Lizzy from Sew Busy Lizzy nominated me for a liebster award.

Here are the Liebster Blog Award Rules

1.  Add the award icon to your blog! Done

2. Link to your nominator to say “thank you” . Thank you Lizzy! You are such good fun to chat with on twitter and of course I love reading your blog too!

3. Nominate 5 blogger with less than 200 followers. It’s very tricky to tell which blogs have less than 200 followers. Or find blogs that haven’t already been nominated! I’ve made a good attempt at finding some new people to list that fit these two criteria.

My nominations:

frk.bustad – http://frkbustad.blogspot.co.uk

Ida – http://hejaida.com

Helen – http://helenssewingadventures.blogspot.co.uk

Mancunian Vintage – http://mancunianvintage.wordpress.com/

Becky – http://alittleonesadventures.blogspot.co.uk/

All lovely people who I am fairly certain meet my two criteria detailed above.

Take a look and maybe follow them!

This week I won a vintage Vogue pattern from Dotty Doodle.

All thanks to her twelve in twelve pattern giveaway!

We’re calling it the Vogue ballerina dress.

It’s like Anna Karenina meets 80s Opera Gown right?!

I also recently finished a polka dot tea dress and a casual blue and black top and I’ll blog about both once I have some photos to include.

And thanks to Mr AR’s creative thinking I got a new cutting table.

Luckily it can be dis-assembled and hidden away when needed.

So I instantly had to think of something to try it out… And promptly started revamping my sofa cushions by making more exciting covers for them.

Finally I need to share about what a lovely time I had in Birmingham on Saturday!

Marie has already posted a round up so I’ll just add a little more here.

Marie and Kat were so lovely to host our meet up.

There were 16 of us out for the day.

I don’t think they expected so many ladies to turn up but they did so well making us feel welcome with name badges and chocs.

Bet it felt like they were herding cats as we all darted around the stalls at Birmingham’s famous rag market.

There were so many lovely ladies to chat to, all with differing levels of experience in sewing, knitting and blogging!

I leaned a lot from them.

After a lovely lunch we engaged in a swap and I was very lucky in leaving with three new patterns.

The main thing I learned about swaps is bring more stuff! I really underestimated what everyone would bring and I shouldn’t have been so precious about my stash.

Got to be tough with yourself if you want to make a good swap!

I went a bit crazy with my fabric shopping but stayed within my maximum budget for the day.

From left to right, top then bottom:

2m confetti print georgette £2.50 / m
2m red polka dot poly / crepe-de-chine wannabe £2.50 / m
3m black and white satin large polka dot £2 / m
2m black and white tiny polka dot rayon £2 / m
3m of black and white small polka dot satin £2 / m
2m of black and white diagonal crosshatch georgette £2.50 / m

Here we all are!

Truly was a wicked time!

Roisin – Dolly Clackett
Alice – Moonbeam
Helen – Sew Stylish
Helen – Helen Made
Rachel – House of Pinheiro
Catherine – Catherine’s Daze Blog
Amy – Almond Rock
Suzy – Suzy Sewing
Mellie – Mellie’s Workroom
Karen – Did You Make That?
Winnie – Scruffy Badger Time
Kat – Krafty Kat

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Spooky fun

That’s right! I’m still here. Just slightly delayed in posting.

I wanted to post earlier but have been working hard on an odd little project.


Ahem. And as the resident family seamstress I was called upon for costume duty.

I’ve mentioned my younger brother, Little Fro, before.

Well he came up with a genius costume idea for his “super-villains party”. Look away if you’re easily frightened.

Tommy Lee Jones – “Two Face” from Batman Forever

This was going to be great fun to do I thought…

LF provided me with two suits; a gross beige one and a serious black business one. He’d got them from a charity shop near him. He also got two shirts; one pink and flamboyant and a more somber dark stripe. And to cap it off two ties; one paisley pattern the other blood-red.

The tie was the easiest.

I cut it down the middle and stitched it down on top of the other with a mad zig zag stitch.

Next up was the jacket. I marked the centre backs of each and then cut including seam allowance, right up and through the collars. I had to keep reminding myself which side had to be light and which dark as that affected which side of the centre back my seam allowance should be. I stitched the centre backs together from the edge of the collar to the vent from the beige jacket. I then fudged a vent in the black jacket. I felt LF could probably use some give in the butt area.

The collar was tricky. I essentially had to flip the seam allowance so it was pointing towards me. That way when the collar was folded over it wouldn’t show on the outside edge. I had to grade the seams right down to stop it from being bulky but it came out pretty good!

The shirt was a similar matter, except the two shirts were slightly different sizes and had different style features!

I thought the best I have to do is make the neck match up so he can do his top button up ready for his tie.

I matched the centre backs with seam allowance and sewed up the back and collar in the same fashion as the jacket. I had to move a lot of buttons on the front placket though to get them to fit through the new holes.

Finally the trousers. I’m most amazed how these turned out.

One thing not in our favour was that both pairs of trousers were slightly too small for LF.

I carefully unpicked the crotch seams and preserved the beige trousers zip front.

I didn’t want the mess of installing a brand new zipper so I just used the fabric surrounding the existing zipper to make a flap on the black trouser leg.

I aligned the zip first. Then stitched in place. Because I’d maintained the zip I felt I should maintain the button as well.

Then I rejoined the crotch and butt seams. I tried to use as little seam allowance as possible, did two lines of stitching AND rang my serger over it all for strength. If they were going to be tight I didn’t want to take chances.

In the end I thought it was rather neat and considering this was supposed to be a quick job I probably agonised over it waaaaay more than I should have!

Little Fro was so happy with the result. The trousers were too tight but that didn’t stop him dancing all night apparently.

He got ready at my flat so I could see the whole transformation and be on hand for any alterations.

His make up is totally creepy. You can see how he’s straightened and backcombed his ‘fro on one side and slicked it down on the other.

And here is a photo from the party where they made him pose in terrible lighting. Hoping I get sent a better photo of him in full glory.

He wore different coloured shoes to complete the look as well. Dedication!!

Now I wasn’t going to let the suit go without a little try on myself, so for your enjoyment here I am looking like a loon in my glasses and no make up.


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Sewing Admin

Organisation is becoming a MUST for my sewing spot.

I already try to regularly clear my sewing tools away, rather than leaving things strewn across my table but that’s not enough.

I have a ludicrously small amount of space and I keep catching Mr Almond Rock cringe as he looks over at the various cuts of fabric and pattern pieces spreading over our second sofa in an aggressive manner!

First up I tackled my patterns. I was originally keeping them in a set of three plastic drawers. The drawers were a dreary grey colour, the handles had broken and I barely fit what I need in them anyway.

To the trash!!

Instead I bought this little beauty. It’s an expandable document holder in grey and black with what reminds me of Blackpool on it!

(yes it is also grey, I’ll give you that, but you must agree its not dreary right?! Unless you have bad childhood memories of rainy days in Blackpool)

It’s got oodles of space for all my commercial pattern envelopes, my prima patterns that I keep in A4 ringbinder inserts, as well as my own patterns and any traced patterns that are just folded up pieces of baking paper.

The envelope tops peek out a little so I can find them quite quickly which helps.

Its made such a big difference already to the space.

Next up I decided to purge my scrap bag. Or should I say scrap BAGS.

Yes there are two. One for fabric left over from projects and the other with ufos and wonky muslins in.

I attacked both.

Less that a fat quarter or this red plain cotton? TRASH!

Dress muslin with shoulder sewn back to front?! TRASH!!

3 metres by 5cms long black wool?! TRASH!!!

Top muslin that’s about 8 times too large and covered in dust and what looks like fabric paint? TRASH!!!!

etc etc….

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t like throwing away what could be valuable to someone else but trust me I was not letting go of anything usable.

I filled a big carrier bag full of scraps which was quite rewarding.

Finally I’ve organised my cord. I got a lot of this gifted to me and although I do use it for braided jewellery this stash isn’t going down in size very quickly.

So I got this cute little teal washing basket! It holds everything nice and neatly.


What sewing admin do you try and do regularly?

Any tips for a lady with zero spare space?

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