Five people that win… July

1. Tunnocks teacakes.


For their services to my belly, and their invaluable contribution to the commonwealth games opening ceremony.

2.       Caitlin Moran’s merch

I was lucky enough to score a couple of tickets to the opening night of Caitlin Moran’s book tour to promote her new novel “How to Build a Girl”. Although I have since read the novel and found it wanting*, the merchandise from the (very fun) night has continued to give me joy.

Behold, the Feminist Necklace. Wear with pride and whilst patriarchy-smashing. IMG_20140704_083740

*I may have reached Peak Moran. Although I have always loved her writing, her novel just seems to be a retelling of the tale we’ve heard before in both her articles and her previous book “How to be a Woman” (perhaps the similarly phrased title should have been a warning). I think she needs a new story.

3.       Grosvenor Light Opera Company

In other words, some light self-congratulation. We recently finished our week-long run of The Mikado in Islington Arts and Media School, and in August will be taking the show to the Harrogate International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival. I joined the company (chorus member 4 lyf) last year, when we did Patience, and I haven’t looked back since. I have so much fun doing these shows that I am considering joining the committee next year as I want to get more involved. Although the week of the show is always knackering (especially when you take into account the aftershow party), the joy of being on stage and singing your heart out/hamming it up makes it all worth it.  So, if you’re in Harrogate in August, or even fancy joining our next production, why don’t you check us out?


4.       Zac Efron riding topless on a horse.


Hello ladies.

I’ll just leave that there for you.

5. This Grandpa and his mad dancing skillz.

Villain of the month – well, I did waiver about awarding this to Secret Cinema for their amateur bungling about the cancellation of Back to the Future, but as I am off to see it next Sunday I thought I would wait and see what they are offering up before joining the hordes of complainers. Fingers crossed it’s all worth it!

So instead, I award this to the humble handshake. Which apparently is villainously spreading germs all over the place, and instead we should be going around giving everyone fistbumps instead like some kind of deluded 14 year old.

Will file this one under “not on my watch”.

If you can spend a perfectly useless afternoon in a perfectly useless manner, you have learned how to live.

After the camisole, I decided to try a new pattern that I’d heard a lot about on other blogs – the Afternoon Blouse from Jennifer Lauren Vintage. Being a sewing newbie, I don’t have much confidence about knowing what fabrics will work well with what patterns – but after seeing other versions on the web in Liberty lawns, I knew I’d found my next project.


Props are not as random as it looks – I’m using them in my show and thought I’d give em a whirl.

I decided to go with the white and blue fabric, because I thought it had a Hokusai feel to it which worked well with the Kimono sleeves. What with this, and my starring turn* in The Mikado, I’m coming over all Japanese.

This was another pdf pattern, but Jennifer has brilliantly arranged them so you only have to print out the bits you need, and they are on separate taped together sheets – so much easier to handle.

The make itself was really straightforward – any mistakes are completely my own, and because I was a bit hamfisted around the interfaced neckline. However, it’s turned out alright in the end – it’s really simple and easy to wear, and fits really nicely – how she’s managed this with no darts, I have no idea.


This was my first attempt at grading a pattern – I was a 12 in the bust measurement, and a 10 at the waist. I don’t know if I did it right (just drew a sloping diagonal line to join the two lines at an arbitrary point, and then matched up the traced pattern to make sure it was the same on front and back), but I think it’s worked out ok.

Must have a fan in every shot.

Must have a fan in every shot.

The only thing I’m not happy with is the button. I was in such a rush to finish this up, I chose one of the buttons I already had, rather than wait till I could get out to a shop. This is easily changed though, and at least I can wear this in the mean time until the right button comes along!

Today’s quote is from Lin Yutang.

*as a chorus member

Liberty is the chosen resort of the artistic shopper.

So you may have guessed from my earlier posts that I have a problem with expensive fabric and luxury haberdasheries? Well, helloooo Liberty sale. 



But look how beautiful they all are! All in a soft drapey lawn.

So after my bank manager had had a stern word, I then set about working out how to use them – top/blouse patterns for a metre of fabric anyone? Well, you’d think it was an impossible ask, but when, during a visit to the guys at the fantastic Crescent Trading off Brick Lane with my Shoreditch Sisters, they let out the secret that fabric requirements on patterns should be taken with a pinch of salt, I began to wonder…

My First Liberty Lawn make (I feel this deserves a fanfare) was the camisole from the GBSB book. I omitted the frilly placket (is that the right word) and buttons, and decided not to make my own bias binding (I couldn’t bear the risk that I would mess it up, as I’ve never made it before, and think of all that lovely Liberty lawn all forlorn and unusable if I did), but happily I already had some in my stash which matched perfectly.

Totally need a better mirror for my selfies.

Totally need a better mirror for my selfies.

This was a really simple and quick sew (if you don’t include the time it takes to print out the pattern and tape the thing together. Maeby helped with this), and it was really satisfying to be able to cut this out and make it up in less time than it took for one team to do ball sportsing better than another team done did kick ball sportsing. Or something*.

It fits pretty well – I didn’t want to end up with a tent a la the tunic from the same book, so tried this on when it was pnned together to make sure that it wouldn’t result in any wardrobe malfunctions, and the only thing I would say is that you probably need an extra pair of hands to help you pin the cross-over straps in the right place. (I was pretty bossy and insisted they aligned properly and were symmetrical. Poor boyfriend. But that’s the price you pay for world cup addiction).

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I can see myself wearing this for lazy days in the garden, soaking up the sun. It’s a perfect little quick stashbuster, so I can see myself making a few more of these for some instant gratification.

Today’s quote is from Oscar Wilde.

*I feel like I need to clarify here that I actually do like watching football. But one game every so often is sufficient. By the time we’re halfway through the group stages in the World Cup I thought my brain was going to come out of my earholes every time I heard that “Brazilllll BRAZIIILLLL” theme tune that ITV thought was so catchy and not at all annoying.

If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.

After the shorts, came the dress. There was no stopping me now. After seeing so many fantastic versions of this online, I decided that my first dress would be the Anna dress from By Hand London. There’s not much I can add to the plethora of things that have already been said about this dress, other than to say that I love it. And I especially love the compliments I get when I’m wearing the dress. And the look on people’s faces when I say that I made it! Delightful.

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Lookin’ awkward…

I used a purple cotton lawn from (you guessed it) John Lewis for this – it was on sale, and as I’d used this exact fabric before (for a Collette Sorbetto top), I knew what I was getting. I was so nervous about making a dress, I didn’t want to make any mistakes using a fabric that I was in love with, so thought this would make a good first attempt. Safety first.

If in doubt, ham it up.

If in doubt, ham it up.

Turns out, I love this dress as it is. I think it could do with a brooch or something to liven it up (perhaps a noughties-revival corsage, Carrie-style?), but it’s a nice simple dress, which is perfect for this summer weather we’re finally having. I made this up in a size 14, as the measurements completely matched mine, and it fits just perfectly. And no mistakes in this one too – not even in the invisible zipper, which is actually invisible for once! The instructions on the pattern were so easy to follow and, without meaning to sound too corny, it does feel like you have a friend sitting next to you telling you what to do next. I can’t wait to make this dress again, once I’ve found the perfect fabric (anyone fancy a trip to Walthamstow?), and I’m looking forward to making something else from these guys.

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Today’s quote is from Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy.


The Ancient Mariner would not have taken so well if it had been called The Old Sailor.

Next up was possibly the most complicated pattern I’ve ever sewn – the Kwik Sew shorts pattern. I actually saw the pattern on Handmade Jane’s blog, as one of the ones she was planning to make, and in fact our makes have ended up quite similar!


Happy shorts.

Happy shorts.


I really love these shorts. They have again come up really roomy – even though I took into account the amount of ease in the pattern when selecting my size, so I definitely think I will go a size down next time. 

Extra space for pies.

Extra space for pies.

I made these up in a navy linen-poly blend (I think) I got from John Lewis, so not cheap, but I wanted to be sure of the fabric I was using to give me a better chance of doing it right, and it coming up as it said on the pattern. I also wanted to go Full Nautical.


Although the pattern was complicated (for me, a beginner!) – the first shorts/trouser pattern I had made – once I’d taken a few deep breaths and read the instructions out loud a few times, it did all come together properly. This is possibly the first time I’ve made something without any (major) mistakes, proof positive that it pays to take it slow sometimes.

I think I got carried away with the poses.

I think I got carried away with the poses.

The buttons are from John Lewis, and I stupidly didn’t take my tape measure to the shop, so they are slightly bigger than the pattern suggests – but it doesn’t matter. And this is the first time I used the one-step buttonhole function on my new machine (oh, did I mention I got a new machine? After having to reattach the presserfoot mid-sew one too many times on my aunty’s old machine, I decided to regift it to my sister and use my birthday money to splash out on a  new Janome – and I love it!).

Check out those button-holes. Hubba hubba.

Check out those button-holes. Hubba hubba.

I am really proud of these (hence all the silly photos). The bigger size doesn’t matter too much as I can just wear them sitting on the hips rather than on the waist, and they are so comfy. A great addition to my handmade wardrobe.

Today’s quote is by Samuel Butler.


From the manner in which a woman draws her thread at every stitch of her needlework, any other woman can surmise her thoughts.

Oh this blogging lark is just too hard to do when you don’t have wifi. We are still having all sorts of problems with it, although we currently have it working just about, but only when we have the landline off the hook. Not ideal.

Anyway, I thought it was about time I told you about some of the things I’ve been making. After having a looooong break from sewing (mainly due to being mid-project and then suddenly deciding I hated what I was making, but then feeling too guilty to start anything else – and then having not one but two disastrous attempts at PJ shorts), I’ve had a fairly productive time of it recently. Especially during the world cup when I am no longer drawn into what’s being shown on the telly. I’ll endeavour to update you chronologically over the next few posts, and you can judge for yourselves whether my sewing skills have improved at all.

First off was this one, from my to-do list. It’s the tunic top from the first Great British Sewing Bee book, and it’s made using some vintage flowery satin-y fabric from The Shop on Cheshire Street. Beautiful fabric, not so beautiful make. Based on my measurements, I sewed up a size 14. But look how big and roomy it is! This is not how it looked in the book. And I think there was something screwy going on in the instructions for adding the interfacing and turning it all inside out. I followed the instructions to the letter (at least I think I did) but it just didn’t work. Could there be a step missing? Anyway, I ended up having to machine sew my slip-stitched shoulders as it just didn’t stay together, so now there’s a weird bulk that shouldn’t be there. And the fabric, although beautiful, doesn’t half like to fray so there’s threads coming out all over the place.


Colour. Colour everywhere.

That said, I actually have worn this quite a few times – it’s good for holidays and sunny days when you want something bright that gives you room to have as many gelato lunches as you wish.

I think next time I’m going to a) sew a size smaller and b) scout around the internet for some better instructions for the interfacing. I’m determined to try this one again, as it’s the kind of top I’d wear all the time (if a better fit) and I love an exposed zipper.

Today’s quote is from Honore de Balzac