Sunday, 7 May 2017

Bonnie Scotland

A few weeks ago I took a little break from sewing and hopped on the train to Bonnie Scotland. To Fife in fact to visit my sister for one of our biannual get togethers.
It's a bit  of a knit and natter session, a reading marathon and on my part a week of complete relaxation and charging my batteries.

I love the train journey there (and back) and never tire of the changing scenery as we wend our way north. My sister has lived just outside Edinburgh for about 6 years now, so my journey only takes about four and a half hours. Before this she lived in Laurencekirk and the journey took all day so that I always arrived in the dark!
The  east coast from about Newcastle onwards is stunning. Glimpses of Alnwick and beautiful Berwick upon Tweed, both of which I have explored on past holidays tempt you to explore further.

This journey was in beautiful sunshine, for us here in Lincolnshire the first really warm weekend of the year and the sun glinting on the water by the coast was magical.
My only regret nowadays is that we are tied to public transport as my sister has given up driving. Oh we don't let this stop us altogether and I must say the bus and train services in Scotland are pretty good. It just means that we no longer get to those remote fishing villages which pepper the east coat.
We managed a visit to Dumfermline, and ventured to Sterling by train. We found we could go from Cowdenbeath which is only manned part time and when we went to enquire about tickets the office had just closed. However there was a public information machine which we decided to try, and thank goodness we did! Within seconds of pressing the button for assistance we had all the information we needed delivered by a charming man ( yes an actual live person) with no problem at all. Well done Scotrail!!
On my final day we were kindly given a lift into Queensferry,

... a pretty little town on the banks of the Clyde. It was lovely to walk the full length and take in the sight of the now, 3 bridges. The rail bridge, the original road bridge and the almost finished new road bridge which I have watched taking shape over my last few visits. A stunning piece of engineering. I wasn't able to get a good shot of all three bridges together, but at least I got them individually.

Our kindly neighbour who then picked us up to return us home had to make a slight detour to pop some shopping in to his mum. You can imagine how my jaw dropped when he drove into her driveway!!

Hopetoun House

She doesn't actually live in the 'big' house but in what must have been the dower house I assume. Which in its own right was a lovely building but it must have been quite a shock for her friends the first time they came for tea, as the only access is down the main drive. She hasn't been here for long and her garden is currently under construction, but the views from it are the stunning parkland and woods of the estate which are now managed by the Hopetoun House preservation Trust
A super surprise ending to my lovely holiday. I didn't get to see in the house as it wasn't open until the week after my visit, but I might have to delay my holiday another year so that I can get to see more.

Its always sad when a holiday draws to a close, but at least I can now catch a train straight through on the way back.

And though its nice to go travelling its oh so nice to come home! (Sorry Frank) just had to do it.

Well another busy week ahead for me getting ready for yet another trip to Wales. This time with our brother and sister in law, hoping to do all the things we didn't manage on our holiday with the young things last year. I'm determined to walk up Snowdon at least and plenty more walking too.
The only problem is the packing. Beautiful as it Wales' weather is not exactly predictable.  I think I might need a slightly bigger case this time!!

Have a lovely week whatever you are planning
Jenny xx

Saturday, 25 March 2017


No I'm not back running, but my dressmaking is taking on marathon proportions and my posts even more so.......

I think I am becoming obsessed! Okay those that know me know I am always obsessed with something, but at the moment it is finding the perfect fitted dress pattern.

So I am whispering this as I know I will change my mind again, but I think I have just about constructed my perfect dress bodice sloper. I say dress, but of course I can now use this for fitting tops and blouses too, so I am a pretty happy bunny. Which is just as well as I have purchased so much fabric in the last couple of months that I could almost open a dress shop by the time I get it all made up!!

I printed off the customised pattern I purchased from Bootstrap Fashions and per their instructions still made a toile to check the fit. It was almost perfect, just needed a bit of tweeking at the armhole to remove the tiniest bit of excess fabric there and voila.....

It's really not that easy taking photos of yourself without looking a right dork!

Anyway, bad piccie or not this is the first attempt. The only issue I have is that I should have shortened the waist to bust dart. Other than that I think it's okay and I like the fuller skirt for a change. The fabric is a stretch denim printed with tiny flower sprigs I bought for another project and It's made up  really well. I have at least 2 metres left so DH could be in for a dress or skirt too!

The second is very tongue in cheek. Made from Makower fabric sporting caravans and campers, with mauve check linings to the patch pockets which I have folded over and fastened down with spotty buttons. I think it has a real vintage vibe and will be perfect when I am manning my Olive & Edna stall at the Vintage Flea Market at Lincoln Showground on Sunday 23rd April.
This time I think I have got the fit just right.

Finally I have made up another dress from an old Vogue pattern 2659 which I made about 2 sizes ago!! I love the original that I made in a dark brown firm stretch fabric, but I look like a litter of piglets stuffed in a bag in it now. This version is in Ponte Jersey. A bit thinner weight than my original, and I'm not over the moon with it but it's okay.

I shall have to try to source some fabric with a little more body to it, or lose some of mine lol!!

So that's my dress journey to date and as for the encore......

I told you I wouldn't go to the NEC and return empty handed..

The top is a duck egg blue with a sort of pumpkin design in orange, next down a taupe and white fabric with a London skyline sketch in  stripes across it. There were lots more I could have bought but as I had already made a couple of purchases on line before we went I was trying not to get too carried away. At least I didn't buy another machine this time!
The bottom two are the ones I  bought on line....,
The deep dusky pink is to recreate a 1940s dress I made when we first went to Twinwood for the Glen Miller Festival and the final piece is a grey/mauve with tiny balls of wool unravelling.

As you can see I have plenty to keep me out of mischief at the moment, but I'll be having a little break imminently as it's time for my spring trip to Bonnie Scotland. Shame it won;'t be warm enough to model any of my new creations, but at least we do seem to be getting a few more bright and sunny days now.

Well if you've got this far you're definitely gonna need a big drink, so enjoy and I think I might join you.

Jenny xx

Friday, 24 March 2017


Well as I said after the denim dress I got down to remaking the muslin to address the issues I had with the  fit of the bodice. It wasn't much, or so I thought, but wanting to get it right I went back to the original pattern. This time I decided to do a few more actual body measurements to compare to the pattern before I made the muslin.
What I found straight away was that the distance from the apex to apex on the pattern was too wide for me, so I adjusted that and then found that despite the fact that I had already done the full bust adjustment  there was still too much fabric in the armhole. Fortunately there are lots of super tutorials on the web for dart manipulation and so following one of these I pinned out the excess by creating a dart in the armhole tapering it towards the bust. I then marked this on the muslin with my frictions pen and transferred this onto my pattern. Then by slashing and pivoting the dart I was able to move this excess fabric and incorporate it in the side bust dart. Of course I made more work for myself by starting with a pinafore pattern with much deeper armholes, but eventually I managed a much better if not perfect fit.

I really do love the dress now, but am going to search my stash of patterns to find a regular sleeveless bodice that I can really fine tune. I made a belt as well for this one and like it both ways

In the meantime I have purchased a custom fit pattern from bootstrap fashion, which allowed me to put in all my correct measurements including chest, under bust, full bust, hips etc. as well as indicating if I have a flat or rounded tummy, shoulder width and even the circumference of my arms! You can in fact  add even more measurements if you wish, but for now I just stuck with the areas that cause me most fitting problems ..
I've printed  it all out now,  assembled it and compared it to the final draft I made myself and it looking pretty promising.
I shall try it out (on a muslin again) over the weekend and report back,
I hope I haven't bored you too much, but I like to keep a record of my fitting journey to refer back to as I don't always remember what I did with each pattern I use. I should really keep a note book!

Happy sewing or whatever is your happy place
Jenny xx

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Denim Love

Although I'm not a designer jeans kind of girl, and in truth don't really understand what anyone can do to a pair of jeans to justify them going from a few pounds to several hundreds (especially when they rip out half the fabric you pay for), but I do like denim as a fabric.

Anyway when I stumbled across a lovely soft washed denim in of all places our local Boyes, I couldn't resist it.

I had just the pattern I wanted to use from Angela Kane. It's called a pinafore as it's cut to allow for a tee shirt underneath, though I intend to wear it as a simple dress.

In the unlined version on her site, she has suggested just turning the seam allowances in. That's not something I could live with and so I decided to go with a self made bias binding. I usually do the continuous binding method, but didn't have enough fabric to do that this time, so I just cut my regular 2 inch strips along the bias and joined them all separately.

I mostly use a Frixion pen when needing to mark things nowadays as with a mere touch of the iron it disappears.
I subscribed to the Angela Kane site a few years ago and have made several of the designs. All very classic, but one of the benefits of the site are the wonderfully detailed videos. Even as someone who has sewn for years I have found some very useful tips.
Of course that doesn't mean to say that everything always goes right. When like me you have to lower the bust apex as well as do a full bust adjustment, it can and did give me a bit of a headache. Add to that a sway back and you can understand why I sometimes still have to refer to my fitting bibles....

I made a muslin first, which I did fit, but as you can see from my mannequin,when I made up the denim I somehow managed to make the top too big! That must be a first.

Admittedly the dummy is a bit smaller than me at the top but it still required a bit of adjustment.

So here it is with the further adjustments made.

I'm quite pleased with the final result though not so much with the vertical bust darts. So I have already made a new muslin correcting that for my next version. I intend to make it again in the pretty green spotted cotton I showed here, though this time I will line it. (And there's a video for that too).
I just realised when I took this photo, that the skirt I was wearing was an Angela Kane too and even had the same pockets!

It's only a few weeks now to the Knitting and Stitching Show, and so it looks like I will have used all the fabric I bought at the last one I went to. I'd better start saving again then. I can't imagine I will go and not bring anything home.......

Have a good week
Jenny xx

Monday, 6 February 2017

Baby it's cold outside...

So if you're anything like me you will be hunkering down in the warm, and what better place to do that than in your cosy kitchen rustling up homemade soup.

(of course if I was a true food writer my soup would have had its swirl of cream and snipped chives to dress it up, I was just anxious to take the picture and eat it!)

A few years ago I was lucky enough to be sent a book 'Hungry' by the lovely people at Innocent. I've made several of the recipes over time but the section about soup has made it my go to bible when I want some inspiration.
This sweet potato soup recipe comes from that book and it is deeelicious!! Just the job for warming you up on these cold days. And the added bonus is there's usually enough to pop some in the freezer for another day.
The leek and potato recipe comes from The British Cookbook  which I bought at Asda some time ago and is a particular favourite. Can't seem to find it anywhere but on eBay now!

I know this blog is known mainly for sewing but I do love cooking when I'm in the mood and my kitchen is somewhere I love to be. It is one of only two rooms in the house where I have allowed my vintage collecting to influence the decor, (the other being my sewing room of course)

So do you have any favorite warming recipes to share I would love to hear from you if you have. In the meantime I am off  to snuggle down on the settee with a good book and an equally warming whisky and soda.

Jenny xx

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

In a Crazy World at least my ears are warm!....and a giveaway!!

Yes the world has gone crazy, and yes there are some very important issues out there, but we all have to deal with this in our own way. I have two favourite options for this. One, turn off the TV and radio and avoid the Internet ,or two, immerse myself in something I love and hope that some of the awful panic starts to fade.
It's not any kind of solution but it's my way!

And so naturally since I can't just avoid everything I dislike I've decided to embrace number two and hit my sewing room...again.
I completed the sweat shirts for the grandsons and am currently deciding on my next bigger project, but it is sooooooo cold here it's enough to freeze, well just about anything really!
So I thought I would share my favourite headband, earmuff tutorial with you.

You will need:
About 6 inches, (15 cms) x the circumference of your head measured  around your ears plus 4 inches, (10 cms) of fleece.
A small amount of polyester filling. The band is slightly padded for extra warmth and it is a little more flattering
About 4-5 inches (8-10 cms) of Velcro, hook and loop fastener.
Matching thread
Sewing machine, although this project is small enough to be hand sewn if you don't have access to one.
Card or paper to make template.

First of all measure around your head, or your child's as this is suitable for all sizes, going over your ears. Make a note of this measurement.

Next you will need to make a pattern.Take a piece of card or firm paper half your original measurement plus about 1.5 inches (3 cms) and about 6 inches (15 cms) wide. A4 paper was just the 1.5 inches short for my head, so I used this and noted my pattern piece to add that on to the back measurement when cutting out.
First draw a line 4 inches,( 10 cms) down from one long edge.

Next measure from the centre front of your head to the centre of your ears. This is the second measurement. Jot it down.

One short edge of the card will be your centre front. Mark this. Measure along the  long edge from the centre front and mark the second measurement (centre of ear).Mark this again from the centre front along the drawn line. Connect the two marks and draw a vertical line.

Next you will need something rounded to create the slight shaping to cover the ears. I had the backing  ring from some bias tape. Place the bottom of the circle or saucer, whatever you are using so that it is centred over the second measurement line and comes below the bottom line of the band by about 3/8 inch (1 cm) . Draw the curve and then blend that into the bottom line so that it is a gentle dip as opposed to a deep curved flap. This is then your template which is half your band. As I was using fleece and I find cutting it on a fold rather tricky, I copied the template onto another piece of card and joined the two together at the centre front with sellotape. This is also a good way to check you have measured correctly and that the slight dips line up with your ears!

You will need to cut two of these out of fleece, not forgetting to add the extra length at the back seam  if like me your card was shorter than needed, and then right sides together pin and stitch them together leaving a small gap on the bottom edge to turn the band out.

Trim the corners, making sure you don't cut the stitching and layer the seams, that is trim one side to about an eighth of an inch to reduce bulk, then turn out to the right side.

With the bottom shaped edge towards you fold the left side over to the middle and the bring the right side over to overlap this.

The overlapped side should be the one that is completely sewn, the side with the opening still is the one underneath at this point.
You will now stitch the hook portions of the hook and loop fastener to the underside of the right overlapped piece. Cut two pieces about 1/2 inch less than the finished width of your band and centre them side by side.

This is the point at which you will insert the stuffing. You are aiming for an even flat slightly padded look, so you don't need too much.You should keep the stuffing about  two inches, 5 cms away from the end which is still open as you will be stitching the loop part of the fastener here. Its a little tricky with the opening but not impossible. You could use thin batting that you would use in quilting, but this would need to be attached when sewing the band together and I thought this might prove a little tricky with the thickness of the fleece.
Once you are happy with the look of your band close the opening neatly with a ladder or similar stitch. There are lots of videos on the web showing the neatest way to do this.
Ease any stuffing away from the end to leave you about two inches to work on and then you will finish by sewing on the loop fastener.
To ensure that you are sewing it on the correct side fold your band as before, with the shaped side towards you fold in the left side to the middle and then the right side to overlap this. If you have it folded correctly the hook part of the fastener will be on the underside of the right overlapped piece. You will then sew the loop part on the end of the left side facing up.

And you are done, A cosy band to keep head and ears warm.

Dress it up with a vintage brooch or even make some felt flowers to add a bit of fun. Why not make several to go with your different outfits! If unlike me you don't have a ready supply of fleece there are sellers on eBay who sell scarf sized remnants of fleece that would be perfect, or you can recycle an old fleece of your own or from a charity shop.

Do let me know if you have a go, I would love to see some of your creations.

Here are a few I made earlier, I hope they might give you some inspiration.

And finally if you want to have a go I have quite a quantity of fleece in basic colours, beige, navy, dark brown and black left over from my slipper making. I will send a piece of your choice to the first 6 people to leave a comment here and there might be a little surprise gift included too.

Good luck

Jenny xx

PS I will keep the give away open until 31/01/17 and then contact the winners for their addresses.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Return of my sewing mojo

Well it seems giving myself a mantra for the New Year is working. Not only did I finish the cord skirt, but have now made the jersey blouse and the grey sweatshirt! Forgot to take pictures though!

Haven't tackled the shift dress yet as I don't suppose I'll need it in the next few weeks according to our weather forecasts. So I've started on some sweatshirts for my grandsons.

I bought this navy and white stripe sweat shirting on line at the end of the year and hadn't got around to making it up.  It's lovely to work with and this sweatshirt hoody is so quick to make up.
I printed the free pattern from Shwin and Shwin for Charlie the youngest, and will buy the older size for Alfie as I can see it being used over and over.

The hood is lined which gives it a nice touch and the pattern suggests ribbing for waist and cuffs but this time I've decided to shorten both a little and leave them plain. I quite like the effect.

I was so keen to get on, I didn't think what I was going to use for the lining until I had the main sweatshirt cut out. All I had was some turquoise jersey or some mid navy, neither of which inspired me, but rooting about in a bag of old tee shirts I was discarding I found just the right shade of yellow, and it's perfect!
Just have to try it on now and do final fitting and I can get it hemmed and handed over.
So next of course is Alfie's, I think I will raid the tee shirts again to see if I can find an orange green or purple for his hood lining as they are his favourite colours. Perhaps I won't be throwing out those old tee shirts in the future, but storing them in my stash!

Finally I do have to confess to one purchase, a denim skirt in Marks & Spencer's sale. At only £14 reduced from £35, it was a bargain and what's more for once the fit is perfect. However I'm still on track as makes are 3 to 1 at the moment!!

Well that's it for now. I am off to help hubby fit the sides of the new cupboards he has already built and plastered in his new room. It seems his building mojo has also returned as I can't believe what he's already achieved in the last few days
Have a good week, I'd love to hear from you whether it's sewing related or just to say hello!

Jenny xx