Friday, 10 September 2021

Teenage Tartan

My daughter had expressed an interest in a short plaid dress. I had set about raiding my pattern stash to find something suitable and when I saw this fabric on Minerva I knew it was perfect and my daughter agreed. This fabric is perfect for transitional pieces like this dress. It definitely says autumn/ winter to me.

Just a day after the fabric arrived, I broke my arm, so over the last 4 weeks, my daughter has made this dress. She’s done all of it, with supervision of course. There was a deadline as she wanted to wear it to the theatre on Tuesday and she is off to uni next week, so it had to be completed. It was done with just an hour to spare!

The pattern is from Burdastyle Magazine 05/2017 and is pattern 112. We lengthened the sleeves to be full length and made the skirt shorter. We cut the size 38, but in retrospect, the 36 would have been a better fit.

Bethan is generally confident with the sewing machine and has made a few small projects over the years, but has never made a dress. This probably wasn’t the easiest of projects for a beginner and it’s not perfectly sewn, there was also rather a lot of unpicking. She handled it really well all things considering. I felt rather frustrated at times, where I wanted to help, but couldn’t.

As with all Burda magazine patterns, the instructions are, well, Burdalike. So we freestyled it. If I had been sewing, this would have been fine, but for Bethan, the order of construction meant there were a few tricky bits and misaligned seams, not helped by the nature of the fabric - it's synthetic, need I say more!

Bethan struggled with the fabric a little as it did fray rather a lot, which meant matching edges was tricky. It’s also easy to get the right and wrong sides mixed up, so we used masking tape to mark the wrong sides.

This sort of design really does benefit from some serious pattern matching, but for a newbie sewist, we didn’t really focus on that too much. Plenty of this design is on the bias, so it’s not a massive detraction if there are some bits that are not perfectly matched and it is still better than most RTW.

I’m not sure if Bethan really enjoyed the process, but she undertook it with determination and can proudly say ‘I made this.’ (and it’s way better than the first garments I ever made). It's already packed into her case ready to take to University next week.

Monday, 30 August 2021

Skate Progress


So I was just starting to feel cnfident in the skatepark. I'd started to relax and really enjoy it, when I fell and broke my arm - 'really confident' I hear you say!

I was actually stood chatting, turned around and landed awkwardly. When I'm skating, I'm aware of keeping good balance and falling to my well padded knees first, and squatting to avoid massive impacts. Because I wasn't 'skating' I wasn't paying as much attention to my body position. Lesson learnt!

Anyway, this is just a little montage of my skating progress since the end of March. I know I'll be taking a step back once I return to it, but that's ok. Progress is never completely linear anyway.

Sunday, 29 August 2021

Mid-year Musings

Out, Out for my birthday meal

Yes I know that it is way past the middle of the year, but at this point, just before school returns, I often find is a good time for reflection.

As ever, the summer term was crazy busy, COVID19 played a part in disruption and some of our leavers had to isolate at the end of term, which was sad for them. The last day of term was spent on the beach with my year group, which was really nice.

Finished casted hand

I also had the opportunity to attend an art teacher residential in Leeds, which was amazing and left me with a lot of ideas for teaching my subject over the next year.

Alginate Cast

As part of the course I took part in a sculpture workshop and we cast our hands! great fun, but not something I can do with a co-hort of 150 children.

casting the Jesmonite

I was truly ready for the summer holidays. The first weekend was hot and I even ventured into the Sea, in a bikini no less. Something I haven't done since I was a teenager.

I enjoyed the relaxed pace of life, walking the dog, sewing and skating. All in all just chilling out.

Out out and John is pulling a silly face.

It was my birthday at the end of July. It was quiet, my mum and Ian came up and we headed out for a lovely meal with the rest of the family. 

The boys at my birthday meal

My husband bought me a new overlocker and with the birthday money I had I new skates, which are currently being built!

My new skate boots, ready for mounting on plates

John and I spent a lovely weekend with friends in Cheshire. We also had some work to do in the bathroom. so started with that on our return. 

Superb job done.

The flooring had been bought 7 years ago - yes 7! We bought a new sink and cupboard as the old one was damaged. cladding was replaced, sanded and repainted by me. John did pretty much everything else, helped by Bethan. 

Bethan Helping

We had some leaks, but they were finally sorted and new bathroom furniture is in. There is still more to do, but it will have to wait.

New flooring down

A couple of weeks ago John and I were at our regular skatepark session, when I slipped and fell, breaking my wrist. I wasn't even doing anything impressive at the time. 


A&E took x-rays and decided that my wrist needed reduction and an operation the next day. Once the wrist had been manipluated and a back slab put on, I was allowed home and told that that I'd be in the next day for surgery.

The clinic called in the morning and let me know that they had decided not to operate as the reduction was in a good position. I went back on the following Tuesday for another x-ray to check everything was fine. It was. Follow up appointment for Wednesday. I went and the x-ray showed that the joint had begun to collapse and now required surgery.

Pre Op

I was given a covid swab, sent home and told to isolate. The consultant expected the surgery to be on Tuesday, which would mean isolating for the whole of the bank holiday weekend, but I got a call on Thursday telling me I would be having surgery on Friday. Friday came and in I went. The hospital is close by so it was a quick journey in. I was just a day case so was home by 5 ish. I had a nerve block and light sedation rather than a general, which meant I was up and about very quickly after the op. However my arm was completely numb for some hours. If youve ever seen Hary potter, where he loses the bones in his arm? then this is how I felt.

Post Op

I didn't sleep well on Friday night due to the pain, freqntly waking and clock watching for when I could take the next lot of painkillers. I pretty much spent Saturday in a painkiller induced haze! some of which made me feel quite sick! However, I did sleep much better last night. I'm hoping to get out for a little walk today and get some fresh air.

Saturday, 21 August 2021

Summer Sewing



During the lovely warm spell we had a few weeks ago, I decided to make a simple summer slip dress. Typically, as soon as it was completed the weather cooled and it was sat in the draw waiting for a warm day.
Last Thursday was that day (which turned out to be more eventful). I popped on the dress and headed into town for a wee shopping trip with my daughter (fabric shop vouchers right).
This is a Burdastyle dress from the magazine. I can’t find exactly which one. All I remember is that it was a lining for another dress. The dress is cut on the bias and is super simple to sew up. It’s just two pattern pieces and some bias binding.

I have made this before and found that the front gaped a little as it was too wide, so I narrowed it just a little. I also ended up taking in the side seams just under the arms a bit. I’ve now made these changes to the pattern pieces.
Despite this being bias cut, it still has back waist darts to give shaping and bust darts. I sewed this up in this tiny skull print Dashwood Studio cotton poplin. The fabric is smooth and handles well. It has enough body that I didn’t need to consider a lining. Making bias binding with this fabric was a breeze. It presses well and holds its shape, but equally while wearing it didn’t crease much, making it perfect for holiday or travel wear.

I was originally going to make a longer dress but thought knee-length was better for this fabric. I had 3m and this dress took about 2m. The rest was made into shorts.

The day was certainly interesting. My daughter, hubby and I headed into Newcastle. First up my daughter and I headed to Pure Ink for new piercings. I got my nose done and my daughter had her nose and conch done. We celebrated her results and acceptance at Salford Uni with a cheeky Nandos and then headed to John Lewis for fabric. I bought rigid denim for some Dawn jeans. I was going to buy some needle cord, but it was badly faded and the shop assistant didnt seem to want to offer a discount, so I left it.

We had tea at home and my hubby and I set out for our regular session at the local indoor skatepark. I had big plans for dropping in on the big ramp, but while I was still warming up I slipped and landed awkwardly on my wrist. I knew it wasn't right and after 5 mins with an ice pack on, it was quite obviously broken, so we headed to A&E. Hence the following photos are of me sporting an attractive pink cast.

I digress, as I mentioned before, I also made shorts from this lovely Dashwood Studio skull print cotton poplin. I thought these would make cute skate shorts, but broken arm and I suspect once this cast is off it will be back to longer trousers!

The pattern I used is a bit of a mystery. I found it free online last year but now can’t find the source. I did make it up last year, but didn’t love the fabric and passed on the shorts to a friend. You can read about the pattern details here.

I altered the pockets so that they are anchored in the fly front and made them a little deeper. Shallow pockets are such a waste of space.

The zip and button were from my stash. The orange zip fits perfectly with the orange in the print. I’ve already worn these way more than the ones I made last year. Hoping that the rest of August brings some nice warm weather before I’m back to work in September.

Wednesday, 18 August 2021

Long Awaited Wedding


What seems like a very, very long time ago, my friend Fliss asked me to make her wedding dress. She was due to get married last August, but with ever changing COVID restrictions the wedding date was changed. Fliss and Carl got married last week and had a fantastic day. 

Fliss sent me some photos from the day and has given me permission to share them here.

We spent several months deciding on the style, fitting a toile and finally making the dress. It was made in a white duchess satin and lined in cotton. the bodice was a simple princess seamed, boat necked style and the panelled skirt was full with a longer back than front. 

The dress was simply embellished by a diamante detail on a ribbon at the waist and small pearl buttons down the back.

Fortunately the dress was just about finished before lockdown hit last year, but it did need hemming before Fliss collected it last May. Fliss is the same height as me, so I set my dress form to the correct height and went from there. She was happy with the length, which was a relief.

I checked in with her a few weeks ago just to check nothing needed to be altered before the big day, but all was good. I think you'll agree that she looks stunning and her and Carl look so happy. I'm wishing them all the best as they start their married life.

Friday, 13 August 2021

Kalle 2 ways

Wow - I have had this post ready to go and just not got around to sticking in the photographs. it was the beginning of june when I last posted, but I've made a few things since then, including 3 Kalle garments, two pairs of shorts and a slip dress. 

I am soooooo late to the party that is the Kalle shirt dress by Closet Core patterns. I have had this on my 'to sew' list for years!!!!!

In the space of a couple of weeks I have made 2 versions and almost finished a third. In all versions the only alteration I made was to lengthen the pattern by 2 inches. I also cut a straight size 6. The ease of the pattern accomodating any difference in my measurements to the size table.

Version 1 - Shirt Dress

I made this one out of a waxed print that my friend Alli bought me for my birthday a couple of years ago. I didn't worry about pattern matching as it's quite a random print. I made a full length version with the regular button placket. I followed the instructions on the website rather than using the written instructions and it took me a little while because I was following them super carefully.

The only part I had issues with was the collar. I found the 1.5cm seam allowance too much. I also didn't really like the construction technique here - personal preference and in future I'll use the Grainline Archer technique as I find it gives me better results.

I really like the finished dress. Even with the added length I find it a bit short and will probably wear with leggings or shorts underneath just for comfort. This will be a great transitional piece as the design is perfect for layering in cooler weather. It's also loose enough to wear when I'm skating - with shorts, so I don't flash my underwear when I bail!

Version 2 - The tunic

I made this one from some Art Gallery fabric, which was sent from Minerva in an exchange for a review - you can read that here. I followed the same construction methods, with the exception of the collar - so much easier. Again I used the regular button placket. I'm a bit non plussed that the instructions have you remove some of the front in order to install the placket - it seems rather wastefull.

This is a beautiful fabric for a shirt. In my opinion I think that the tunic length is a little long. This version didn't need the extra 2 inches in length. It's versatile though and I've worn it to work as well as casually.

I have 90% made version 3, but it still needs buttons. this is the cropped version. It will be a while until it gets completed as I've broken my arm.


This is such a versatile pattern. I am sure it is going to become a staple of my pattern collection and I'm now wondering why it took me so long to get around to sewing it up.

I would like to know which version you prefer.

Friday, 4 June 2021

DIY skate bag

I’ve started a new hobby recently. I’m learning to roller skate. It’s not completely new to me but it has been 30 years since I skated regularly. Back in the day, I had big bulky skates that I used to slip on and off my feet like slippers and NO protective gear. I skated everywhere.

For Mother’s day, back in March, my family bought me a pair of quad skates. I decided, wisely, that I also needed a full set of pads and a helmet (I am not 16 anymore!!!!). Since buying the skates I have been finding local places to skate and some not so local places to skate. I needed a good way to get all my kit there - which is a long-winded introduction to this project. Let me introduce to you my skate backpack.

In all honesty, I could have bought a skate bag, but they are mostly pretty boring and I loved the look of this cotton canvas which I was sent to review as part of my brand ambassador role for Minerva, plus I’m always up for the mental challenge of working out how to make something to suit my needs.

I had a look at a few rucksack patterns and was originally going to make one with a zippered top, but when I couldn’t find quite the right zip I decided on making a roll-top rucksack.

I didn’t use a pattern for this I actually pretty much made it up as I went along and consequently I think it does need a couple of tweaks to the design.

The basic bag is a simple rectangle, with padded straps and a front flap and a horizontal adjustable strap that keeps the skates in place. I included pockets on the side panels. One with a zip and one without. I think these should have been a bit deeper to be really useful. The zippered one comfortably holds my skate tool, so that’s fab. The lining has an inner zippered pocket which is great for keeping valuables safe.

As the skates are quite heavy to carry (around 3KG) plus the skate gear I knew that I’d need to sew the straps in securely and provide padding to prevent the straps from digging in. I don’t think I’d want to carry this lot too far as it’s heavy, but it is at least all contained.

In addition to the cotton canvas that I used as the shell layer, I used some cotton poplin from my stash and some offcuts of quilt wadding and foam wadding to pad the bag. I also used 3 clip fastenings and two strap adjusters and about 4.5m of nylon webbing, Which I bought locally from The Sewing Machine Guy.

The straps were sewn inside out with a double layer of wadding and then turned and sewn into the back of the bag along with the hanging loop.

The back of the bag also had a double layer of wadding for back protection as did the base.

Rather than padding the entire shell, which would have been incredibly tricky to sew through. I padded the lining instead, which still gives structure, but allowed me to reinforce the seams with double rows of stitching.

The horizontal strap is sewn through the back of the bag, which means it encapsulates the contents of the back and the skates on the outside. The padded flap then secures the skates in place. In retrospect. I should have integrated the horizontal strap with the front flap which would have given more stability.

The bag is super roomy and I can comfortably get all my gear inside and room to spare. It would actually make a good overnight bag too.

I’m so happy to finally have a bag that ALL my gear fits into!


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