Time for 2018 Secret Valentine Exchange

6DE95CA0-CEB6-440C-BD63-6F12549D42FBI participated in the 2017 challenge for the first time and enjoyed both making and gifting and receiving a little surprise through the post. Last year I sent my gift to Kathy of Sew Dainty who I have subsequently met at The Sewing Weekender and follow her prolific blog. So when I saw a 2018 secret Valentine Exchange pop up I immediately signed up

The organiser s, Sanae and Ute, of the challenge pairs you randomly with someone and send you a short profile about their likes plus a name and address. I also filled in my profile form which would have been sent to someone else( it’s not a direct gift swap).you are asked to make/ put together a small portable gift from existing stash materials and send it out by February 7th.

The  information I received for sending a gift was

Abigail ( lives in U.K.)

Favourite Colors: Pastels
Preferred Designs, Symbols, etc.: Anything floral, girly, sparkly

The preferred designs were a challenge as I don’t do a lot of girly , sparkly things! Unfortunately there was no link to a blog so no major clues there, but Abigail’s Instagram confirmed the sparkly!

i decided to make a little bag ( again) . Clothing really isn’t an option when you don’t know anything about the person’s size. I “cheated” – the fabric, which I hope will be to Abigail’s taste – came from the scrap box at my local sewing club. Flamingos are in yes????


I also added a few little goodies which I hope she can use in her own projects – some lace, beads and labels

And lastly I put a short letter in the parcel so she can find out a little about me

In return a parcel has arrived in the post for me- and excitement, it’s come all the way from AUSTRALIA ( turned out it was from Tasmania when I opened it.)


My presents were from Dot who knits and crochets and works in a craft shop on the other side of the world.


If you you are wondering what the item in the bottom right hand corner is ( I admit I was before I read the letter enclosed): it’s an apple cozy to stop apples getting bruised in your bag! Dot has obviously made quite a few( picture below is from her Instagram)

So thank you Dot from Tasmania

and what a wonderful idea #2018sve is connecting people across the world


A departure from dressmaking


My sewing skills are currently being applied to some upholstery work!

My son ( remember the one who wanted the red James Dean jacket? Here) has requested another make, but this time it is a project to cover a tub chair.

He had his eye on an Ikea Tullsta tub chair, but there were two problems – the coverings are not in his chosen colour ( mustard to match the grey white and mustard colour scheme in the living room of his new house) and they cost from £80-120 . Given he has just bought his first house with his girlfriend, there isn’t a lot of spare cash floating around.


They have done an amazing job of sourcing second hand items on Freecycle and Facebook marketplace. They were lucky enough to pick up a free ikea Tullsta tub chair on the former. The cover was very battered and faded, and one leg couldn’t be screwed into place as the screw fixing had fallen into the inside of the chair.


So over to the handy parents. My husband has a bit of a reputation of being able to fix anything  and justified it by fixing the leg.

My task of course was to create a new cover.

First part was to source the mustard fabric( an estimated 4-5 metres based on internet searches). I soon found thatupholstery fabric doesn’t come cheap! The solution ( a brainwave) was to buy some ikea curtains. Unbelievable it was cheaper to buy these and cust them up than buy fabric!


So fabric obtained  the next stage was to take the existing covers off( secured by what seemed like hundreds of metal staples) and use the existing cover as a template .  I carefully wrote on and photographed every single section of the old cover BEFORE doing this so I will hopefully not be in danger of mixing up pieces and will remember what goes where



( cutting out on my new Aldi wallpapering table after seeing this on Sewin the UK being bought for sewing)

Following sewing up some of the main seams the chair was ready for a quick fitting!


  1. At this point the front of the arms were not attached, or the seat base cover and front of base of chair- and all looked good so I went on to do this.

On my next fitting I hit a problem – I had eliminated the central back zipper on the cover ( looking at more recen5 versions in store this had been done).but when all the front panels were attached I could no longer pull the cover onto the chair. To solve this I have opened up one of the back seams and will hand stitch closed. I decided not to insert a zip as this seems pretty pointless as the whole cover is staple gunned to the frame so will not be removed for cleaning.

I also discovered that the inside back of the chair had collapsed backwards. So back to the man who can fix anything who with some ingenious use of duck tape, cardboard and other trickery has solved this!

Cover ready for staple gun with all panels sewn.


The next stage was to make the cushion pad cover- much easier. I reused the zip too.

And finally out came the staple gun to attach the cover to the framework and the chair is finished


It’s not perfect but a huge improvement on th broken battered( but free) original. With a total cost of £18 for the fabric( zip and other materials reused) and nearly all of one curtain left for sofa scatter cushions( or any other future projects) it should pleas my son!

Toaster vs Talvikki


So the idea for this blog post came when exchanging comments with a fellow blogger Sonja at sewingalacarte

I had already made the  Sew House Seven Toaster sweater ( both versions , but this relates to version 2 )  and was on my second make of it. Sonja meanwhile had just posted her second Named Talvikki sweater. See her post here   I commented that I loved her sweater and had considered making a Talvikki sweater myself , but thought it may be too similar to the Toaster sweater to justify adding to my pattern stash.

So we decided we would both undertake to make the pattern we had not made before during January, write a blog post to compare them  and answer the question whether it was worth having and making both the Toaster and Talvikki. As I write this I have no idea what Sonja has concluded !


So here are my views. But please also take a look at Sonja’s here. I will be interested to see if our conclusions are similar

Design wise there are quite a few similarities.

In my view both have a relaxed style with a split hem and raised neck. Both have inset sleeves  without cuffs.


And both in my opinion elevate a standard sweatshirt to something a little more stylish.


Here are my two original Toaster sweater makes


Blog link here


Blog link here

Both have some adjustments to the standard pattern – alteration to shorten body ( I am 5’ 2” and short waisted so I always need to do this) and slightly reducing / lowering the side vents to keep me warmer around the middle. The first version is in a cloque fabric and is slightly less drape than the second red version which is in a loose knit/ boucle effect fabric. Both fabrics have worked well and the finished results have been worn lots.

So on to the Named Talvikki -and here it is


Having  read a number of pattern reviews ( including Sonja’s) I decided to go down a size to ensure the finished sweater didn’t swamp me- and I am pleased I did. Again I have done the same adjustments as the Toaster sweater. ( body length and shortening the length of the side vents).


A very different choice of fabric though. This is a sweatshirt fabric and plain as I felt that this would show the darts off to their best advantage. For me these are the main difference between the patterns and it’s a lovely detail.



The fit of the Talvikki is definetely more relaxed, with wider sleeves- but I like this equally.


The neckline looks – and feels- more different than I thought  it would from the line drawings. The Toaster sweater has a slightly more draped effect( it’s not extreme) but still comes up high and across the neck. The Talviki is more funnel shaped and supported by a separate neck facing stands up, but not tight to the neck highlighting the lines of the darts. I like them both!

Both  were really easy to sew up, particularly with an overlocker. One difference that I did appreciate was that the Named instructions were very specific about when to use an overlocker( if using) vs a standard machine which I found very helpful,

In my view the Toaster sweater is more versatile when it comes to fabric choice as a patterned fabric does not disguise the detail. There are also no darts to consider either for the need to actually see this design detail or in terms of  interrupting a pattern. However the darts and neckline on the Talviki are a lovely stylish detail so with the right fabric choice ihey give interest to a plainer fabric.

My overall opinion/ conclusion? I love them both ! I am glad I have made both and do feel there were enough differences to justify adding to the pattern stash. Will I make more ? Well I certainly have more fabric ready and waiting to be made into sweaters but I also have two other sweatshirt patterns waiting to be printed off. Maybe  a Grainline Linden vs Sloane sweatshirt comparison is in the pipeline?

And that’s my first #makenine2018 completed. Good start!



Any thoughts.? Anyone else made both the Toaster and the Talvikki


Toaster Sweater 2 a second make


Proof that I really like the SewHouse Seven Toaster sweaters- my second one in two months.

Not much to add to my previous post as this was a straight remake of the previous one without the mistake made in cutting out the neckline!

The fabric was bought during my recent stay in Reading at Fabricland. It only cost £7.50( and I have some left over) . I’m not sure exactly what it is- it has a boucle type finish , is fairly loosely woven and medium weight- it has really good drape so works well with this pattern.

Pictures taken in front of my Christmas tree just before taking it down





Time to start on those plans for the New Year.

I enjoyed the process of making a hit list of things to make in 2017, and looking back on what I had actually done versus plans so I’m definetely doing this again for 2018.

E41D8128-029E-4C47-900E-D34494822744So, I have my 9 patterns. Two of these are carried forward from 2017 but all others are new plans for a new year.

Style Arc Top.  I acquired 4 patterns in the Black Friday sale , all of which are knit tops with a bit more interest value than a plain tee. I plan to make one of these up ( the visual is the Kylie knot top) .this will be my first Style Arc make

Orla Dress. There have been loads of these in blogs last summer. My turn to belatedly jump on the bandwagon ready for ( hopefully) summer weather this year

Sew Different cocoon coat. I love the wool version I made in 2017 and plan to make a lighter weight version for spring wear.

Grainline Linden sweatshirt. Am I the only person who hasn’t made this? I wear a lot of casual clothes and have seen some lovely versions so time to try this pattern out myself

Named Pattens Talviikki sweater. I’m planning to make this up to compare it to my Toaster sweater

Itch to Stitch Marbella dress. A carried forward from 2017  pAttern.

Patty-do dress. A company I found after reading Kathy’s( Sew Dainty) blog

Sew Over It Ultimate trousers. Still on my list – try to make trousers

On the plus side , I already have all these patterns- and I suspect I even have suitable fabric for them all in my stash

AND, I have just been reading RED W SEWS blog on her 2018MAKENINE and saw her excellent idea of combining patterns with fabrics to help reduce the stash….so here is my unashamed rip off !



2017 – my first year of blogging and a review of the year



So the year is ending and I thought  I would look back on what I have managed to do!

First my blog. Looking at the stats I was amazed to see that I have published 20 posts. ( excluding this one) Amazed because I think I never get round to writing anything and certainly find getting decent photos a problem.

I have joined a couple of interesting Facebook groups where I always try to share my makes / posts too – The Dressmakers Blogging Network which is a communication forum for bloggers and Sewing in the U.K.


No, I don’t have many followers, but I have a few people who comment regularly, which is lovely, and feel I am starting to make a few virtual sewing friends ( hello Sonja if you are reading this)

I have completed 14 projects this year( not all blogged); but have “failed” to complete/ take part in all the challenges I aspired to! I also failed to get pictures of two tops that I made for presents





At the beginning of the year I published my #2017MAKENINE challenge. Well I may have sewn 9 items, but they certainly weren’t the planned ones! Easily distracted? Me? My excuse ( if I need one) is that I get tempted by new patterns, items needed for unplanned events or requests ( my sons jacket) . So here is a comparison of what I intended , and what I actually did ( as close as possible to original plans)





As you can see from the pictures of makes I didn’t manage to make the nine garments. the Toaster sweater is the only pattern made , although I have also got the Maria Denmark skirt cut out and currently in progress.

However some of the intent of the other plans remained. I did make a jacket for myself ( and for my son). The ITS Arenal Top was replaced by the ITS Newport Top ( so I made a top plus first try of an ITS pattern).A jersey dress was also sewn – the Bettine. The biggest miss was the intention to experiment with trousers. I’m going to call this a 5 out of nine result. And ,yes, I do plan to set myself a #2018MAKENINE challenge as I enjoyed the relaxed nature of this particular challenge.

I successfully completed( big cheer) the Secret Valentine challenge. I loved the surprise element of this and the fact that I corresponded with Kathy ( Sew Dainty) , follow her blog and subsequently met her at the Sewing Weekender. All as a result of being asked to make a gift for her.


I also optimistically signed up for Sew My Style  tempted by already having the Toaster sweater and intending to make it. Unfortunately this was the only garment I made. Oh well, maybe 2018. I saw a post stating this was happening again in 2018 – it was actually asking for moderators/ bloggers to help. Yes I was tempted, then reality struck – I just won’t get around to making the number of garments required- especially if they are not patterns I really really want to make.

Another  sewing highlight was attending the Sewing Weekender . This was so much fun and pure sewing indulgence. I hope I can get a ticket next year, and would love to attend more events like this or sewing meet ups in 2018


Finally  I did a quick look at my fabric stash. Much easier to do- and track- as I have logged all my fabric onto the Cora app during the year. Unfortunately it also means I can see how many pieces of fabric have been added this year. Time for confession – 45 pieces,. Now my excuses start – 15 pieces were “free” ( donations, swaps, presents) but that still means I’ve bought 30 pieces of fabric.


I can feel a New Year’s resolution forming…….


TAB Bettine Dress

I have made two of these Tilly and the Buttons Bettine dresses always an indication that I like the pattern!

This is the first one I made- a lightweight fabric from Ditto fabrics Brighton. I buy loads of fabric and always love a bargain but I have noticed recently that many of my favourite makes have been with fabric purchased from thei shop. It’s not cheap, but the fabric quality is fantastic.

There are plenty of reviews out there for this pattern so not much I can add. The  elastic waistband casing is easy to construct and gives a neat finish. I love the neckline. I only made one adjustment – bodice shortened for my short waist.

The pockets are lovely. I like the tulip shaped skirt – but I am aware it’s not liked by everyone. I’m not sure whether a pear shaped figure would find this flattering .


My second Bettine dress was also made with fabric purchased from Ditto Fabrics. ThIs time a fine needle rod- heavier and less drape than the dress above, but still soft enough to work with the pattern. This is intended as my mid season dress as it’s great with black tights and boots.


So I would recommend this pattern for a relatively  easy sew  and will probably even make it again – considering trying a jersey fabric on the next version