The Sewing Weekender

imageA week ago I was at The Sewing Weekender- a much anticipated weekend of sewing indulgence.

A number of posts have already gone up about what went on and they all have much better photos than me- yes, I was so busy enjoying myself and chatting I forgot to take photos. So I thought I would concentrate on what I enjoyed most/ got out of the weekend rather than running through the format.

1. Seeing other people’s makes

I love reading blogs and the ideas and inspiration they provide for dressmaking. So what could be better than seeing makes in real life? Of course everyone had a project on the go so you could wander around, look at the fabric, ask what was being made and chat about the pattern. In some cases the end result was even worn on day 2- not in my case though as my Scout Tee didn’t even get started until 10 minutes before lunch break on Saturday!

Then of course people were wearing outfits they had already made.  Plenty of indie patterns on display, and plenty of inspiration for what I would like to make next.

Of course this probably means I will end up buying more patterns….

There were quite a few TAB Cleos around, with at least 2 being made . All lovely but not for me ( too young!)

However I did fall in love with the Anna dress( By Hand London) and despite initially dismissing the Charlie Caftan the versions I saw being worn have made me rethink. Lastly there were a few Orla dresses around including Self Assembly Required in her lovely modified one which have confirmed my wish to make up this pattern




2 Talking to people who love sewing.

I attended on my own. Everyone was so friendly though and of course there was never a problem regarding what to talk about! The organisers and sewing prefects were super friendly and really interesting to talk to. Elle ( Sew Positivity) was really knowledgable about machine embroidery and shared her sewing background whilst we made the lovely sewing weekender patches. Melissa ( Fehr of Fehrtrade) has inspired me to have a go at active wear. I make lots of dresses and really don’t always get the opportunity very often to wear them – a combination of British weather and lifestyle. BUT I go to the gym daily so as she pointed out I’m an ideal person to make active wear!

And of course I chatted to so many other attendees. One of the highlights was meeting Kathy ( Sew Dainty )who I was paired with in the  Secret Valentine earlier this year. We have exchanged a few blog comments since. So lovely that she was actually using the little bag I made too!  I also met Zoe who had chatted to me on Facebook and saw her Linden sweatshirt I had admired on line . Rachel( rach against the sewing machine) who I sat next to on the first day also gave me some tips on walking feet ( more expenditure planned)

There were so many others too, and I picked up so many tips. I enjoyed chatting to you all- and I think the pre attending tip of making something simple was a great one as I’m sure I spent more time talking than sewing.

3. Goody Bag and swap

Well let’s be honest who doesn’t enjoy this! The Goody Bag was amazing. It was just like Christmas- but ( in my case anyway) with more surprises! Thank you sponsors- so generous .  It was great seeing everyone’s faces as they pulled out their treasure!

The swap was great too. I managed to send some unwanted patterns to a good home, and of course acquired some new ones.


So thanks Kate and Rachel ( The Foldline) and Charlotte (English Girl at Home) for a well organised fantastic weekend. Would do it all again tomorrow





Baby bandana bib and matching booties


imageMy friend has just become a grandmother. I’ve known her since ours sons were babies and she stepped in when my childminder let me down a couple of weeks after I returned to work.

We are still great friends and regularly go on shopping trips- fabric included. She does her best to restrain me from adding too much to the stash

And now her son has a lovely little baby boy.

So as I have made him a couple of things. The little booties are made from a pattern published last year in Simply Sewing magazine


They are lined with plain fabric and have elasticated top. A bit fiddly to sew ( not used to such tiny items)

Then I made a little bandana bib – really quick and simple- from a free pattern I found on the web at Project Nursery.

To back this, and make it absorbent, I bought a hand towel from the pound shop and cut it up as I didn’t have any towelling. It worked well and I have enough for another two

imageFinally to complete the gift I made a really simple card!


Say No to Fabric Stashing- failed again!


I “needed” some white jersey to line a Moneta dress bodice which I was planning to make – so  I started to search on line.

I found the white jersey ( of course) but there on the same site were numerous other bargains that I just couldn’t resist.

Result – another 10 items of fabric added to the stash!image2

Lovely jersey which I will probably make a Pauline Alice Aldaia

with. I bought the pattern last year as it has so many interchangeable options for a jersey dress – and it’s on my #Make Nine list for the year.

Then this one


Thinking a plain jersey would always be useful, and yellow is very in this year. It happens by chance to be a perfect match for the fabric above. Opportunities for colour blocking with any leftover fabric? Maybe an Itch to Stitch Vienna Tank ?

Three floral stretch fabrics. The middle one is my favourite when opened- it has the best drape. I may go on a Moneta -make binge after the success of my first one ( yet to be photographed and blogged)

Some bright summery stretch fabrics – I’m imagining days by the pool / sea. Nt sure exactly when though as both my summer holidays are booked and involve cycling around the Loire ( June) and cycling from Venice to Croatia ( September). Not exactly the right match….

The far right piece is a Scuba bought as much to ” have a go” with a fabric I have never used before as anything

image4 (2)

A lightweight daisy woven. I may try a Grainline Scout Tee – another popular pattern that so far hasn’t made it into my collection.


This is a “honeycomb” textured stretch jersey for a top>

And finally a completely random purchase of silver and black stretch fabric


I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to do with this! It will have to wait for the festive season though as I just cant see me wearing a top out of this at any other time.

And of course , the piece of white jersey that started all this


All the fabric was bought from Fabworks – and most of it was on the sale ( that’s my excuse)


The James Dean jacket is finished!


As always these projects take much longer than anticipated, but finally the red jacket for my son is finished.

If you remember from my first post it was a pattern hack / modification of 2 patterns and a rtw jacket





All the alterations and pattern hacking were worth it as he has just the jacket he wanted. And a further upgrade was made to the final design – the jacket is lined( which of course added time to the project). Yes, it has black lining in the sleeves to slip it on and off easily but the star of the show is definitely the lining for the jacket body. Pure inspiration!

The fabric lining was found on Ebay by searching “James Dean fabric” . It’s actually a Hollywood Stars compilation but features the man himself.

This does confirm my belief that you can buy anything on ebay.

All other pattern hacks were successfully applied

Smaller collar than the original Lekala 6006 pattern, but using the collar stand overlay from the pattern which has worked really well ( after figuring out what it was and how to do it by searching the Internet)


Addition of flat bottom band and cuffs (self drafted). Narrower sleeves


Addition of welt style pockets- again using online resources plus referencing his H&M jacket for position/ sizing etc


Addition of lining using modifications to the basic pattern I hacked together.


It took some persuading to get him to model the final jacket but I managed to get a few very un-posed snaps as he wore the jacket out for the first time last night.


Overall thoughts on this project

It’s really difficult to find men’s patterns

The Lekala patterns provided a good cheap base for hacking, but instructions are really poor – you need to have good sewing knowledge to use them

After all the effort I hope he wears it LOTS!


Rebel without a cause


“Can you make me a jacket?” Says my 26 year old son .

Sewing has been on complete hold for almost 2 months. Our bedroom has been completely refurbished and decorated- which has meant that whilst new wardrobes etc were being done ALL the contents of the room have been stacked in my sewing room ( plus the garage and conservatory). So access to everything has been impossible.

But that question , and the start of moving stuff back has kickstarted the sewing again.

Of course , it’s never that simple. He doesn’t want any old jacket- he wants to be a rebel without a cause. His vision is a red jacket that sort of crosses over between his black H&M jacket and the James Dean red bomber jacket – in red of course

Luckily ( and incredibly) given a self imposed ( or is it husband imposed) fabric buying ban , there was a piece of red fabric in my stash! About 30 years old I think – not quite James Dean era, but suitable.

Then it got difficult. I have made very few men’s clothes, and therefore do not have many patterns. Easy I thought, as I started the online search. I couldn’t believe how few menswear patterns are put there. Of course it’s even more difficult when son knows EXACTLY what he wants.

So in the end I have bought 2 Lekala patterns and plan to do a mash up. I haven’t tried this brand before, but I’ve put in his measurements, ordered the PDFs and spent hours assembling the 2 jacket patterns.

lekala 6006for bloglekala 6057 for blog

They seem HUGE to me – well I am used to sewing size 8/10  for a 5′ 2″ female dresses and he is a 40″ chest , 6 foot male.

So the plan is to take the basic shape from Lekala 6057 and add the facing from this pattern too ( Lekala 6006 is lined) Collar and pockets will also be taken from Lekala 6006

First step has been to amend the patterns

I have added height to the front of the Lekala 6057 bomber jacket to match Lekala 6006 and incorporate the shirt collar.

Sleeves have been lengthened on Lekala 6057 to allow for changes to the cuff.

This has been cut out as a toile in a rather fetching yellow patterned old sheet

First try on last night has indicated that fit is generally not too bad- but the sleeves are too baggy ( I think Lekala 6057 is designed to have pleats in the sleeves to be inserted into ribbed cuffs) . So next stage is to try to remove some of this excess on the toile and adjust the sleeve pattern. I will also be experimenting with the facing from Lekala 6006 to see how to add this to my mashed pattern.

Also  other changes

-can I redraft / change the shoulder / sleeve? At the moment  the shoulder is slightly more of a dropped line than sitting on the shoulder. Not too sure how difficult this is going to be.

– Also ( and hopefully easier) slight reduction in width of the main jacket body ( taking in the side seams) and replacing the bottom gathered bomber style of Lekala 6057 with a straight non gathered band like his H&M jacket- both slightly easier requests than the sleeve/ shoulder change I hope!

-reduce the height of the collar and change the angle of the point slightly to resemble H&M jacket

So all in all a good start I think but plenty to do!

One comment, I have sewn quite a bit over the years and my thoughts on the Lekala patterns are that the instructions are not for beginners! They are very sparse, no images and there has been quite a bit of head scratching. It has helped that I have made the Rigel bomber in the past but I definitely have needed the toile to figure things out.

Next installment will hopefully be sooner than 2 months and whilst I originally hoped it would  feature the red jacket in progress, realistically with the number of changes another toile is required. Just hope I can get my son to do the final modelling!


Moving my Sewing Space


imageThis is it – the new location for my sewing!

When I started sewing again I initially used the dining room table with all the downsides of clearing up every time I wanted to sew even for a short time. Then I decided to use my son’s old desk ( not the one in the photo- much smaller) and happily used that in my bedroom until last autumn.

Well it worked for me, but husband wasn’t quite so keen on the stray pins


Then in October I got a new overlocker for my birthday from my husband ( was there a cunning plan ?) My desk was too small to fit both a machine and an overlocker side by side.

I already owned the larger desk – made up of two old base units and a kitchen worktop bolted together – this had been my first sewing table in my first house( about 30 years ago!) . Unfortunately it does support my belief- never throw anything away!

The new location is my son’s bedroom.This has stood virtually unused for nearly 6 years ( a hoarder, and sentimental…) while he has been at university. Yes he does come home to visit, but as his course( medicine) has progressed “term” times have become increasingly longer as his course extends beyond normal uni dates , and visits home became shorter. So at Xmas I asked him if he minded if I moved my sewing into his room. No sentimentality there- he was quite happy! Realistically his home is now Manchester and having passed his finals last month and planning to stay there for the next 2 years for his hospital job he really won’t be back here often.And the final part of the motivation- our bedroom is being re-fitted so everything has to be moved out.

Yes the planets aligned and the sewing space moved accordingly.

As you can see my machines sit perfectly side by side and there is even room for a coffee mug!

On the right is my tool caddyimage

I think this was originally for cleaning materials but I keep all my essentials to hand here- it means that if I want to hand sew in front of the TV or cut out downstairs on the dining table ( it still has its uses) I can quickly and easily transport everything.

I also have other containers holding desk bits and pieces And containers holding cotton,labels lace and ribbons and finally a box holding my zips.

last but not least the fabric stash

imageIt hasn’t reached the ceiling yet But maybe when I get to all that fabric at the back of my wardrobe from sewing 20+ years ago( does that count as vintage?), it just might…….

which is why I should be sewing, not writing my blog

2017 Secret Valentine Exchange

This year I took part in the 2017 Secret Valentine Exchange – the first swap I have done. #2017sve

I found out about it on a blog ( good old Bloglovin) and signed up . The idea is that the organisers take some info from you, eg likes ( colours, type of fabric) and then send your details on to someone who puts together a secret Valentine parcel for you. In return you also get someone else’s details and make / put together something for them. The idea is to use your stash and creativity.

So firstly I put together a little something for my Valentine. This was a lady called   Kathy, alsoo from the UK. A bit of blog stalking was also undertaken to see who my blind date was!

I knew she liked floral prints and turquoise/ purple so I went through my stash and used some fabric to make a little make up pouch. It’s lined with waterproof fabric and I managed to get hold of a couple of Clinique samples to put inside it.


I also sent her a letter to tell her about myself and was absolutely delighted when she emailed me back to say that the parcel had arrived and tell me about herself too I really hope she liked the bag and that we may even meet up one day in the future.

So today it was my turn to open my parcel. It was a bit like Xmas- it had been sitting waiting for the last week and I had no idea what was inside . How exciting!

YFes- my details had definitely been read carefully- favourite colours teal and purple. Inside were loads of bits and pieces- it was like a little treasure chest

Thank you Eleanor

i really enjoyed taking part in this swap- sign me up for next year!