Thursday, 6 October 2016

Tunic obsession

Do you find that you seem to obsess over certain items in your wardrobe. Over the past few months all I seem to have been doing is searching on line for Breton tops! I now have quite a few in different colours. What I don't understand is that as a sewer why I'm not making my own!!
They must be one of the simplest items to run up and yet so far I've not made a single one.
Admittedly in the past there were very few places to buy a really nice weight cotton jersey, but today that's not so much the case. Okay some of the nicer knits are not cheap, but at least making your own means they actually fit you!
Well that little obsession has taken a back seat at the moment 'cos I've now progressed to tunics.
Last year in the sale I bought two from one of my favourite retailers. One in a gorgeous gold with cream spots and another in teal. Whenever I've wanted to look good and feel really comfortable, it's been these that I've returned to again and again.Worn with crops on cooler summer days and they go just as well with skinny jeans or leggings for Autumn.
And there's nothing worse than finding that your wardrobe staple is suddenly past it's best, so knowing that I will be very sad when this happens and unable to find exactly what I wanted in a commercial pattern I decided to hack a pattern myself. Never tried it before, but what did I have to lose.
I thought it wise though to try a muslin first, before I started on any of my treasured fabrics, and so what do you test out a pattern you've made for a knit top out of.....A woven cotton of course...'Not!!!

So how lucky am I? I must have been a bit generous with my seam allowances without realising it, as apart from slightly snug sleeves the top worked brilliantly ( thank you dear friend Joan for the fabric! She gave it to me to remake some cushion covers but I think its much better as clothing!).
And once I realised that the pattern really worked,............ well...

Next up came a shorter sleeved more dressy version in a beautiful fabric I bought at the Knitting and Stitching show at the NEC way back in March and my latest...

One actually made from jersey this time. Birch organics maritime sanderling to be precise which I bought on line from Billow Fabrics.
I love it and there are lots more similar designs out there to try...and I even managed to pattern match the pockets, something I'm usually not too good at!

Well I'm still going to be sewing over the next few days but not for me this time. I have another costume to make, a pumpkin for youngest grandson. Hope it turns out as easy and effective as his brothers Tudor one and then I shall breathe a sigh of relief!

Always helps when you have a willing model, Bless him.

Hope you too have a productive week whatever your passion
Jenny xx

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Marvellous Margate

Gosh it seems ages ago that we trundled off for our annual holiday with our lovely in laws. (sister and brother in law), but it's really only five months ago. I think we've crammed so much in this year though that it feels like much longer!

I've called it Marvellous Margate, as we did have a lovely break and to be really truthful, Margate is certainly putting up a fight and in certain parts the regeneration is creating a vibrant vintage and cafe culture which is definitely worth a visit, but like most towns, seaside or not the High Street has and is still suffering from closed shops and not enough investment to bring back the shoppers to make it a thriving community.
Having said that we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the area and especially the wonderful walk from our base at Westgate on Sea to Margate along the seafront. About a mile and a half, past gorgeous rows of beach huts, the lovely beach stretches way out at low tide, leaving rock pools for investigating and at high tide the sea laps right up by the sea wall. Its colours changing from murky brown to vivid green and the brightest blue when the sun shone.

We were so lucky to have a week of dry weather with quite a bit of sunshine, though the wind was often bitterly cold. Not bad for April though!

We managed to slot in a couple of National Trust visits while we were there. Sissinghurst of course and similar but on a much smaller scale, Batemans. We were a bit early in the season to see either at their best but both were still stunning and well worth the visit. We chose well and I think we had our warmest days there.

We also managed to visit Canterbury. Stunning! The architecture and the atmosphere. We dined Al Fresco under a canopy by the riverside watching the punts ferry visitors back and forth. It was very relaxing, and we had a lovely meal too.

There were other places that we visited too, some less exciting than others, but we loved Whitstable and Sandwich.

All in all it was a lovely break, with walks, car boots and vintage shopping too., What more could we want!

Since then we have had six weeks of school holidays, most of which was spent out in the garden in glorious sunshine, a fabulous week in North Wales with our daughter, son in law and grandsons, another great visit to the Twinwood Festival and have just returned from a weekend in the Derbyshire Dales where we enjoyed a beautiful walk through Dovedale in glorious sunshine.

So hopefully I'll be sharing some more of our exploits and some sewing news with you over the next few weeks.

Have a good week, whatever you're up to
Jenny xx

Monday, 21 March 2016

Out and about


Its been a busy week here at Winnibriggs House, first getting ready for Olive & Edna's stall at the FOSA Indulgence evening, last Thursday and then a trip to the Sewing for Pleasure show at the NEC on Sunday.

Heidi & I really enjoyed our evening running our little stall, meeting lots of new vendors and chatting to some lovely customers. We took mainly Jewellery this time and we were very pleased with the reaction. Its always lovely to hear that customers like what you are making and we had some good sales. So I have been busy making a few new things to add to our on-line shop

I really look forward to my annual visit to the Sewing for Pleasure show at the NEC. I keep a list of items I have run out of through the year, 'cos although I do purchase quite a few of my supplies on line, Its not always easy to check if what you are ordering is the right size, thickness or colour. So to get the opportunity to find many of these being sold in the same place and being able to see and handle them is always good.
Of course there are always demonstrations and talks too so this is an added bonus.

This year we sat in on a talk about free machine embroidery by Wendy Dolan. It's not a skill I have tried so far, but have always been fascinated by it and Wendy's work is stunning. Her talk was really interesting and she had lots of samples of the different stages of a work in progress so that you felt you would really be able to attempt something yourself. Not in her league of course, but she made it sound attainable, and really wanted you to have a go yourself.
She has produced  a new book, Layer Paint and Stitch which is a great resource and has some workable examples. I think I will be adding this to my book wish list!

My own embroidery however has been courtesy of my Embroidery machine, producing a few of my butterfly hairbands, to also add to our Olive & Edna shop. They make super little presents and as they can be adjusted to fit from babies to adults are very practical. I have been playing with a whole new set of colours.

Well that's me for now, we are off to the Festival of Antiques at Peterborough at the weekend, so am keeping my fingers crossed for dry weather. In the past few years we have been to the October event several times and have experience amazing weather, even a heat wave but have only made it once before in March due to bad weather including a snow storm!. So wish us luck, and if you are thinking of going it is well worth it.

Have a good week
Jenny xx

Monday, 14 March 2016

Indulgence Evening for a good cause.

Hi there
Having just returned from a lovely trip to Bonny Scotland where I visited my sister for a week of complete relaxation, I am focused on jewellery making to fill our Olive & Edna stall at

This fund raising evening has been running for some time and we are pleased to be part of it for the first time to raise money for local special needs schools.

There will be all sorts of stalls from confectionery to handbags, gifts to nail art.....

We have lots of new bracelets, plenty of necklaces, some repurposed and some vintage style. We will also be taking a few of our smaller vintage collectibles, so if you are in the area we would love you to come and say hello.

Jenny & Heidi xx


Sunday, 21 February 2016

Creative Costumes the Thrifty Way!

Once upon a time it was only around Christmas that parents and often grandparents had to put their thinking caps on to come up with some costume or other for school, or any other club that their offspring were involved in
How things have changed!
We now get Roman day, Medieval day, World book day as well as Nativity plays and days when a child can pay something into a charity fund and then wear a costume of their choosing. Now don't get me wrong, especially where learning history is concerned, I do think getting into character does help events stick in your mind, but I do sometimes think that it's getting a bit out of hand.
Since Christmas I have made, or at least almost made six costumes , and we're not even at the end of February yet!
It's okay for people like me who love nothing better than designing and making things, and who have a ready supply of fabric and patterns and what's more time! However for parents who both have to work, what a nightmare it must be! The temptation to go out and buy costumes that will probably never be used again must be very tempting, so here's my guide to making something for nothing.

Sheeting...... My go to fabric with loads of uses.

To start with its extra wide so a metre goes a long way. It comes in masses of colours. Unwashed it is quite firm, but give it a rinse and it drapes quite well. And of course charity shops are a brilliant source for sheets for very little money and often they are in prints as well as plains.

So when you need a cape, a long dress or tunic it's the perfect fabric.

This Grim Reaper outfit was made for a Halloween costume, so not strictly for school. The pattern I used was for a hoodie which I printed off the Internet for free. I merely lengthened it and  tapered the sides out towards the bottom to give room to move. I made the hood a bit bigger and more pointed towards the back. It took one metre if sheeting which I got from EBay for £3.99.
But the best bit was that when a Harry Potter outfit was needed, I just cut the robe down the front to turn it into school gown. I did line the cut edges  and the hood with some burgundy sheeting, but they could just as easily have been simply hemmed.

The scarf was a remnant of fleece with some tape sewn at intervals to represent the stripes. Grandad found a wand like stick and just polished it up with some briwax.

The Peter Pan costume was for World book day. The green tunic made from an XL mans tee shirt! Loads of these in charity shops for a few pence. The neck ribbing could just be cut off and a small slash made down the centre front so that the sides fold back. Again, I made a collar, but it wasn't really essential. The cap was made from an old felt coat, and the feather from a piece of child's craft felt just cut to shape and cut all around its edges. We had some old green tights which we cut the feet off and hemmed to the right length and school plimsolls would have been just as good. I make children's slippers which I used to sell, so I had some mock suede to make his boots from.

This Zombie costume was literally made from several old white tee shirts, cut into bandage widths and sewn on top of a long sleeved top from Primark, about £2. The leggings were made from a free pattern again on the Internet and the jersey was a remnant off the market for a few pence.
Of course we are very lucky that the boys mummy (no pun intended) is a bit of a whizz with the make up. I think he scared a few people on his way to school!

This costume again started with the black sheeting. A full circle with a hole to put his head through and then raggy strips of old white tee shirt and the black sheeting to represent the feathers. Black leggings were again mine with feet chopped off. We did buy the yellow socks and found the feet on ebay for a song.

Not to be outdone our youngest grandson has also started his journey into dressing up.

Cut up man's shirt, tea towel and a remnant of faux suede for a waistcoat made this a very economical outfit.

Here cheap tee shirt and leggings, black gloves, socks (his own) and pants with just an orange hairband as belt and pieces of craft felt made into cuffs and mask. Another free pattern on the Internet. I made the badge on my embroidery machine, but it could just as easily have been drawn on a piece of fabric with paints or felt tip pens.and then tacked onto the tee shirt.

So as you can see with a little bit of imagination and a few cheap bits and pieces its quite possible to make something very effective and unique!

Hope this has been a bit helpful if you're trying to come up with some ideas.
 I'm off now to finish a medieval knight and a tin man.

PS. Well that turned into Medieval Knight, Tin Man and Stick Man, as youngest decided he would dress up for World Book Day after all.....

But for once no sheeting! Instead all the outfits were based on long sleeved tee shirts and leggings, readily bought at places like Primark.
The Tin Man had an added jerkin made from fake silver leather which I also used for the funnel hat.
The Knight is just grey tee shirt and bottoms, which can be worn again, with a tabbard and a separate hood covered in a cheap mesh fabric for the chain mail.
The Stick man is simply the long sleeved tee shirt and leggings decorated with wood 'knots' and felt leaves with a bit of soft wire sewn between the double layer of felt to make them stand up and a pill box hat again with the felt used to create the look of knotted wood.
I made all the tee shirts and leggings, again because I had the jersey fabric and have an over locker which means a pair of leggings takes less than an hour to make, but these would have worked just as well with bargain basement tops and leggings,
Its the details that make the outfits really.

Well I am off this time but to catch up on all the ironing that has been left this week while I sew, or else I will be packing for a trip to Scotland with very rumpled clothing.

Have a great weekend and a productive week

Jenny xx

Sunday, 14 February 2016

What a Super Swap

A few weeks ago I signed up for 'Mad About Bags' Send a Little Love Swap.

Its quite some time now since I did one of these and I was really looking forward to doing it.

I was partnered with Debbie from Fairy Bluebells Craft Adventure, and I couldn't have been teamed with anyone more perfect.

We are such soul mates, its uncanny the similarities.
We're both from Lincolnshire and love sewing as well as many other crafts. We both love Whitby, in fact we holidayed there last year. We both love hares. We both love vintage. Just before Christmas we both went to Donna Nook to see the newborn grey seals....the list goes on....

And then last week an exciting parcel arrived...Oh generous is this lovely lady.

I love it all and and she has summed me up to a 'T'. The beautiful cupcake soap and the  love heart candle are now adorning my bathroom, the hanging hearts and my most favourite thing of all the rose decorated giant peg is in my sewing room.
I already have ideas for the fabric and trims and of course the sweets wont last much longer,
I've just run out of my Belle and Boo note cards, so now I have some lovely replacements with beautiful flocked hearts on. I do like to send a nice note with any parcels I send to friends and family, it makes it so special and these will be perfect.

So thank you Debbie for such perfect gifts and for your generosity and lovely emails, I feel as though I've found a new friend.

Here's a little hint at some of the things I sent Debbie, I think she is going to show them on her blog, The necklace shown is not her actual one as that had  her initial on and I forgot to photograph some of the things before I parcelled them up!

Have a great week, its half term here so we will be having our grandsons. I've got lots of ideas to keep them occupied and by the looks of the weather forecast I'm going to need them if we're cooped up for much of the time.

Jenny xx

Sunday, 7 February 2016

GBSB shift dress by Tess Evelegh

Well, following on from my last post I did it! Cut it all out on Friday afternoon, sewed the main shell and finished it off on Saturday.

The Great British Sewing Bee Shift dress by Tess Evelegh.

I first spotted this in The Sew Magazine insert in their Sew Christmas 2015

I've always loved shift dresses though in my day, the 1960s, they were not so fitted and didn't really suit my much curvier figure. However on spotting this one I knew it was far more my thing.

 Now don't get me wrong my figure has never and never will be as slim or as willowy as the model here, but sometimes a little more shaping can do an awful lot to trim down your proportions, far more than burying it under metres of fabric.
So having printed out and taped together the free pattern I set to to fit it as best I could.

My fabric though was to be a recycled duvet cover I had purchased in a local charity shop. I loved the delicate trellis pattern and the fact that it had a border, which I could use to good advantage as the bottom of the dress.
 I don't claim to be an expert sewer though I am fairly competent and certainly prolific and luckily this pattern didn't take a lot of adjustment.The princess seams made my FBA (full bust adjustment) reasonably easy. Follow the link if you are unsure how to do this. It has been invaluable to me.

Truthfully for my next attempt I will just add a little more ease, for those long hot summer days which we are going to get this year!! However, though a close fit, it does feel good and I swear it does make me feel slimmer.
 As this was a patterned fabric I did try to pay attention to matching  the pattern at any seams where it was feasible to do so. They weren't all successful but for the most part I am pleased.

It was also important to align the darts in the bodice and skirt, which would probably show even more on a plain fabric!

 Finally I lined the dress with some plain cotton which I had bought to make some huge tablecloths and which had already been washed. It was no longer needed and as this was supposed to be a budget/recycled make, it was perfect for the job.

And voila!

It fits like a second skin and will most certainly be one of my go to patterns for the summer........

Thanks Sew Magazine, can't wait to make up another. 

In fact I have this lovely rose printed denim in my stash that has been calling to me for far too long................

Have a happy and productive week. Mine will include a mediaeval knight costume age 4 and a tin man costume age 8, so perhaps shift dress part 2 may have to wait a little!

Jenny xx