Carry On Seamstress

When sewing becomes so consuming that your inner stitching voice tells you are not an extreme sewist but a sewing glutton it’s time to take stock. My recent gluttony has resulted in chaotic buying & sewing. My stitching wizardry lacked purpose and the naughty step was getting crowed. An end to this harum-scarum purposeless activity was urgently required.  Vintage Pledge 2016 hosted by Marie at A a Stitching Odyssey & Kerry at Kestrel Makes is just the ticket!

Hello!

Hello!

It’s perfect for converting feverish to focused without stifling structure, there is only one rule: vintage or reproduction patterns must be used.

I have been stalking the Simplicity 1950’s reprint 1258 blouse pattern for sometime, I even tried to draft a pattern myself, (miserable  fail).

During my last ‘short cut’ through the Northern Quarter I ended up in Abakhans & left with the pattern and two fabric candidates. (& a few other bits n bobs).

http://www.kestrelmakes.com/2016/02/my-2016-vintage-pledge.html

http://www.astitchingodyssey.com/2016/01/sign-up-to-vintagepledge-2016.html

Making a 1950’s outfit was my initial pledge, the green & pink cabbage roses fabric was deemed perfect for version B.

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The usually laborious task of cutting out was significantly improved by my new shears, I read about them on the Colette blog and as my others had were not cutting the mustard anymore I indulged myself. I love them they cut effortlessly and can be used in either hand with no pesky knuckle rubbing.

https://blog.colettehq.com/news/inside-our-tool-box-giveaway

The most difficult part of the construction was the neck, I pinned and tacked it several times onto Matilda but it wouldn’t come together. I decided to apply a few ‘amendments’. Just as I was about to snip a tidgey bit off the neck pleats I realised I had applied the neckband upside down! If you make it ensure you don’t confuse the neck facings with the neck band. My trusty Prym seam ripper removed the renegade stitching without damaging the fabric.  Any tiny holes were smoothed out with the magic red ball, if you’re are in the market for a new quick unpicker I find the larger size easy to grip & it multi tasks as a turning tool! At £2.19  from fabric world it’s  a real investment in saving time, money well spent indeed.

http://www.fabric-world.com/large-stitch-ripper-611203cl.html

Simplicity 1278

The Hattie

If  I make another I wouldn’t bother with the side zip as it doesn’t really need one & I can slip it on without undoing it. I may make a knit version in a snugger fit but I’m not sure how the neck would drape?

I made a high waisted grey denim pencil skirt to wear with it, not a vintage pattern as such: a copy of my fave but worn out Gap denim skirt. I wore them both later when I went out for tea and a few beers with the Wolf. Of course I ran out of time so hastily tucked the un-hemmed top into the unfinished waistband of the skirt!

Our afternoon started with some lovely beer and we somehow ended up in Abakhans on route to the next pub. I knew I was pushing my luck so quickly decided  upon some pink wool and tried to engage the Wolf by involving him in the quest for suitable lining fabric.  Although I love the fabulous floral design chiffon it is not sewing friendly & maybe a little too transparent for coat lining.  During the next beer a design was sketched out by the Wolf, quote of the day ” a military style to balance the feminine floral’!

Sadly my stitching gluttony reared its greedy head again the next day, instead of waiting until I purchased the right pattern I decided to draft a topper coat. I read a fantastic blog about topper coats (also known as car coats) I thought it would be perfect for my next vintage pledged item. The examples included in the post conjured of images of me dashing around supping cocktails & kimono sleeved style looked simple pimple.

http://www.handmadejane.co.uk/2016/02/topper-talk.html

The lining fabric is almost vulgar in a charming nylon sofa cover kind of way and the type of thing Barbra Windsor would have worn so I will call it the Babs.

The Babs

The Babs

In my wanton haste I didn’t pay enough respect to glorious but sly slippery fabric when cutting it out. The, (almost  needs a hem and fasteners), finished result has a Starlet vibe going on. This has inspired me to adjust my original vintage pledge to create Carry On Film wardrobe. This gives me more scope and justifies watching all my faves again in the name of research!

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I added welt pockets and faux cuffs to add a little oomph, I am still considering the best type of hem to use.

This weekend I will be making Butterick 5813 version A or B in  green linen with Hong Kong seams: Inspired by Joyce Sims in Carry On Teacher.

The Joyce

The Joyce

Hopefully I won’t fall off the wagon again and my pledge will give my stitching and purchasing some direction.

 

Make me!

Material can be very demanding you shop, dream, plan, justify, splurge and when it arrives it masters you.  When the fabric takes over there is no going back. It’s as if I really do have cloth between my ears!

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Retro Inspired Top

I try to keep a leash on my fabric buying and have stuck to my self imposed ban on buying clothes. Since July I have only bought shoes, tights & underwear. During 2016 I will master underwear & jeans making. I have worn 90% of the garments I make for myself. The guilty bunch on the naughty step will soon be transformed too.

During a new year fabric sale browse I spotted some beautiful Michael Miller fabric from fondantfabrics.co.uk To my delight The Wolf & The Beauty had listened to my ramblings about sewing bits and bobs & surprised me with some plunder. Full marks to them as I had forgotten mentioning most of the pretties.

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The Magnificant Mesmerising Material

http://www.fondantfabrics.co.uk/online-fabric-shop/prod_3379684-Make-it-Work-Tan-Michael-Miller.html

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http://www.fondantfabrics.co.uk/online-fabric-shop/prod_3347701-Couture-Vintage-Fashion-Michael-Miller.html

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I obviously needed some kind of bag to hoard, I mean keep my treasures in and this fabric is perfect.

The fabulous fabric arrived speedily, (with a couple of other fat quarters that are essential) & before I knew it I was racking my brains for a way to turn three fat quarters into a top! I had no choice, the fabric whispered and cajoled demanding to be worn.

‘ I am too chic to fester in the sewing loft justifying your addiction, I refuse to hang out with the 50 candy coloured zips in limbo’

Ok, I succumbed and considered how to eek out a top from such magnificent yet meagre material. Cutting fabric economically is important to me in the name of sustainability (& I am a real Scrooge). After much thought I decided upon hacking the wonderfully reliable & versatile Sorbetto top.

https://www.colettepatterns.com/catalog/sorbetto

 

I had half a metre of Make it Work and a one FQ of Couture Vintage. After much deliberation and tea I decided to extend the shoulders out to make cap sleeves. As my days of crop tops are long gone I added a deep contrast hem. To add to the retro feel, (and mimic the neck of the dress on the fabric), I also drafted a Peter Pan collar.

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Lacking sufficient fabric to bind the armholes I used a pink polka dot vintage dress fabric I had bought on my last homage to Abakhans. This was also used for the collar lining and to add that extra 50’s touch a jaunty neck tie!

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After spending an indecent amount of time looking through my buttons I realised that there was nothing suitable. Rather than getting lost in an online shopping time warp I took Ma Julie’s advice again: go shopping in your own wardrobe!

The perfect embellishment was hanging out (literally sharing the same hook) with Fifi my French curve. A tiny pair of scissors charm purchased two years ago at a craft fair.

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I did wonder if it was sewing overkill, but hey that’s the way I rick rack  and roll! Just need to sew it on now………………………………..

Off course the Material Mafia is organised and the fabric I deliberated on, but sadly left in my basket like a pining puppy, emailed my brain and must be bought! I thought it prudent to buy some more sewing charms too.

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http://www.fondantfabrics.co.uk/online-fabric-shop/prod_3155061-She-Who-Sews-Paper-Dolls-Black-Quilting-Treasures.html

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This time I won’t be a Scrooge so I can expand my sewing choice slightly.  Ma Julie bought me some Haslams Dress Cutting System pattern books. So this weekend I will be identifying, then making…….whatever the fabric tells me to!

 

 

 

 

 

Supporting a Sewing Habit

I stepped outside my selfish sewing world today & pondered on the impact of my weekend & holiday binge sewing on the Beauty and the Wolf. I also considered the effect of weekday cold turkey with occasional high spikes of joy due to a mid-week sewing fix on them. Although I’m not about to nominate them for a Nobel Peace Prize I fully acknowledge that living with a compulsive sewist requires great tolerance.

They have adjusted well & consider it normal to have an unfinished garment hanging on the fire place.

Hanging around until the decision to add buttons is confirmed.

Hanging around until the decision to add buttons is confirmed.

They appear to accept that any candle holders, jars, saucers and vases will become magically filled with assorted buttons.

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I think they quite liked the Bewitching Bats I pattern tested, they lived on the fire place for a month until I ‘accidentally’ left them at Ma Julie’s Halloween party today.

Bewitching Bats

However I think there are a few factors of my sewing footprint that are beginning to cheese them right off. I will start my audit with a few visuals of the physical impact: please note that I am no friend of housework & see no merit in the ‘Ground Hog Day’ like activity. So yes parts of my gaff are untidy but I choose life.

A sleeve pattern fluttered down from my sewing loft, chilled on the landing for a while,  sat on the bathroom cabinet for a rest and then spent sometime on the loo! I last used this pattern for my entry into the Sewindie Month pattern hacking contest sometime in September so it’s about time I moved it.

Fluttery sleeve

They also have become very adept at faking interest when things are sewing well & sympathy when things sew wrong. Although I feel that the Wolf could have shown some vicarious remorse when ‘his’ crazy dog destroyed by £0.80 charity shop pattern.

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I only nipped upstairs to get my scissors and she shredded it up like it contained the secrets of her mind. Although she did guard my shortlisted fabrics for the new Wren dress.

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My lovely family have  developed  touchingly sweet patience, tact and diplomacy, a few sample quotes to illustrate this:

The Beauty ‘mum, you know you have a no sewing on a school night rule – do you think you could close the loft hatch in the week as all the heat escapes?

Wolf ‘would you like a hand getting that ( insert any of the following here; mountain of fabric, heap of bits & bobs, mini ironing board, pile of pebbles, toy retro sewing machine, packet of needles) up stairs?

Bless them, I move things eventually (or hide them) sewing bits & bobs need time to acclimatise to new environments, rather like goldfish .

On a positive they have acquired great stitching wizardry knowledge thus enhancing their willingness to listen & contribute insightfully. My creative craftiness also provides them with scope for humour too. I overheard them laughing recently, they were trying some tiny shoes (yes I am still moonlighting as a shoemaker for some unknown reason) on the dog!

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I didn’t get a photo as their gleeful mirth was covert but here are the shoes, I announced that I was going to make adult sized pairs for everyone as Christmas presents. They swiftly told me they had slippers or didn’t wear them!

The Wolf has also become sneakily  creative at linking things to sewing where he needs to. There was a moth flying around & he refused to kill It, he justified by telling me that they make holes in clothes so i can make some more. He also linked the importance of the food chain to sewing when I refused to care about the diminishing bumblebees. (Somehow cotton won’t grow if all the bees die out, I can always use knit fabric though?)

The both only mildly mocked me when the vintage toy sewing machine and ‘won’ on eBay arrived.

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I am a happier person since my sewjo returned and maybe there are one or two things they would like to change but all in all the positives outweigh the negatives……..don’t they?

Sewing Indie Month Pattern Hacking

My project for Sewing Indie Month 2015 is a pattern hack, well more of a mash up as its a combo of two patterns with an extra flip!

Sew Independent my nth Pattern Hacking

Sew Independent September 2015 Pattern Hacking

The Sugarplum Dress  from Lolita patterns has a knit skirt & the top is made from woven fabric. As I had fallen in love with the Sorrel Top from Seamster patterns I decided to flip  it. I used a stable knit to make a Sorrel top and a cotton twill with a slight stretch for the Sugarplum skirt.

I took advantage of the September bonus sun and did the cutting outside using my trusty giant homemade birthday card as a board. Cute little labels for each pattern piece are provided. As the skirt is made of many similar shaped pieces its an excellent idea.  Another great feature of the pattern are the symbols used to indicate where pieces join. Both the  illustrations & instructions are perfect in fact even constructing the giant jigsaw pattern was simple thanks to the skull & cross bone overlays.

http://www.lolitapatterns.com/shop/sugar-plum/

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I had already made a Sorrel top so had the pattern cut out and to my absolute joy I had made collar patterns in freezer paper! I adore the design of the collar but cutting jersey into this shape is like catching a slippery eel. I had to make a few tidgey adjustments as I wanted it a bit snugger than my first attempt. Rather than cut it I snipped the edges and flipped them in.

http://seamsterpatterns.com/huge-sale-a-new-sewing-pattern/

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My decision to use the woven fabric for the collar presented an extra construction conundrum. I was already sweating at the thought of joining the skirt and top : do I apply the woven rules or knit rules? In order to give the collar a bit more flexibility I cut it on the bias.  As it is a bit heavier than the knit I used a lycra for the facing,  sewing it all together was like taming worms.

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In order to ensure that the skirt & top fit perfectly I made plenty of sewing pit stops to measure & adjust.

I sandwiched  strips of the knit between the skirt and waistband & after a few wibbly wobbly disasters added stay tape between the top & skirt.

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Surprisingly the collar doesn’t pucker and pull and the skirt & top join together in perfect harmony! I was so pleased with the dress I couldn’t wait to wear it for work even though I hadn’t overlocked the seams yet. I realized when I decided to change my shoes that overlocking wasn’t  the only thing I hadn’t done. As I bent down the center back skirt seam spilt down the middle! I had tacked the seam when fitting the zip but forgotten to finish it.

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Sugarplum Dress & Sorrel Top Hack

Sugarplum Dress & Sorrel Top Hack

The dress is super comfy and has fabulous side pockets, the design & cut of the skirt make it so easy to fit. I have just started making a skirt in black denim, I will decide in the morning if its going to become a dress or stay a skirt…….or maybe I will introduce another top pattern……

If you are feeling kind & like my dress please vote for me using the link below: click on my photo (number 7) and a little red heart should appear.

https://www.sewindependent.com/2015/08/31/pattern-hacking-sewalong-contest-2015/

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Cardboard Lilly

I love making clothes for the flower fairies but I often get the sizing wrong, usually dresses are far too small.

Heart shaped pocket with gingham bias trim

Heart shaped pocket with gingham bias trim

I thought that it was about time I introduced cardboard Lilly, my baby sized 2D model, she helps to make dresses for Lilly Rose. Matilda my marvellous dress form takes care of her, they have become firm friends.

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The adorable real Lilly Rose in a dress that actually fits her. With the help of Cardboard Lilly.

The adorable real Lilly Rose in a dress that with the help of Cardboard Lilly actually fits her

My youngest Flower Fairy, Lilly Rose lives in Holland and after many epic fails at making her clothes that fit I drafted a 2D version. When she was very young it took me three attempts at a sleeping sack before one fit her. I made a few dresses for her when she was a tiny little baby. Very few fit her and if they did she grew out of them in a week.

Third time lucky

Third time lucky

I did use the Beauty’s vintage, retro Baby Born doll, does 21 years old count as very vintage or retro? I recently learnt that there are strict rules about these things, fair doos but please enforce some about shabby chic. This term often means cheap & shoddy but splashed with chalk paint. Goodness me where did that rant come from I didn’t know I cared so much?

I love the flower fairy fabric if I used to make a tunic with matching bloomers, I think it fit her for the duration of the photograph.

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Lets get back to Cardboard Lilly’s crafty creation, I asked her lovely Mama to send me her height & weight. I used a baby measurement guide and armed with a ruler several felt tips, pencils, my beloved French curve (Fifi) I set to work. As she is 2D she looks much wider than a real child because I drew her to scale. Imagine putting a Baby Born Doll through a mangle, you get the idea. Apparently, my Uncle put caterpillars through my gran’s mangle (the one in the back yard, she was posh so had two) & ate them!

With a very cross face, due to Sunday morning sums, I drafted her onto a flattened cardboard box. She looked wrong without a face so I drew her one but without hair she looked a bit drag queen. Hair added, a bit of color & cut her out I eagerly tried a dress on her.

Don't be alarmed, she hasn't been beaten the dents are from my knees.

Don’t be alarmed, she hasn’t been beaten the dents are from my knees, although I did catch Lil Lou waltzing her around in a rather clumsy manner.

During this process the Beauty left the room as she said she felt uncomfortable around Cardboard Lilly. How rude, I think it was sibling rivalry as she is my only & favourite daughter. I reassured her using the modern method of social media

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I thought my idea was quite genius although I did have to give her hair a trim as cardboard hair doesn’t flatten & clothing wouldn’t go over it. She also has a slightly bent arm to help with fitting. She modelled the whole Strawberry Garden Collection with a certain panache.

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The adorable Lilly Rose could have dresses that fit her for more than a day, alas she has now outgrown Cardboard Lilly.

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She helped with a few of the dresses I made for my delightful  niece but most of them were still too small as she grows every minute!

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The next model to join my sewing entourage will be a pair of baby feet as I have developed a bit of a shoe making habit. There have been a few disasters but Giggy’s doll now has a growing collection of tiny shoes. They were so small they wouldn’t even fit her Badgesty.

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Sewing Indie Month

September is Sewing Indie Month, it’s also a very busy time at work for me but I stole time to make the Mississippi Avenue dress at the weekend. This pattern is one of ten in the first bundle, It’s the third I have made, along with the Salt Box Top & the Sorrel Top.

Sew House Seven pattern part of the Sew Independent bundle one.

Sew House Seven pattern part of the Sew Independent bundle one.

Its more of a summer style pattern but I wanted a dress I could wear for work during autumn. I used a slightly heavier fabric than those suggested on the pattern & planned to exclude the shoulder ribbons. I forgot about this when cutting it out and didn’t make the necessary adjustments. Without the bows it is a bit low and gapes at the pits. I like them now & as the Beauty pointed out ‘ they balance the dress’.  Her and the Style Counsellor (my fabulous sister) have an eye for these things.

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http://sewhouse7.com/collections/alberta-skirt/products/the-mississippi-avenue-dress-top-1

I also used baby pink for the facings partly because I was a bit short on fabric as I used some from my Utrecht stash. The main reason, as with the pink rick rack coyly peeping out of the front panel, was the to match some new shoes.

I bought some rather splendid shoes that are very similar to a black pair I already have, to justify/ensure good value I bought them in pink. I didn’t take the purchase lightly and gave it due consideration. I had no choice as they weren’t available for a week anyway, I also consulted the Beauty.

To buy or not to buy: the Great Shoe Debate

To buy or not to buy: the Great Shoe Debate (yes we also had a similar meaningful discussion about men’s hats).

They look a bit florrie on that photo so here are the beauties again, Ta Da!

Good parenting

Good parenting

Right, back to the sewing now, the dress was easy to sew and the pattern simple to follow. It took me donkeys years to piece together, tape, trace & cut but I think it was because I was tired. I attempted the mammoth jigsaw on Friday night but gave up, it was simple pimple in the morning. Now that it is cut out it will be easy peasy to make another & I certainly will.

The second Sew Indie Month bundle contains lots of great patterns for knits and a fabulous coat. Its amazing value & there are three competition sewalong’s to go with it but I have a back log of patterns so am not allowed to buy it.

http://www.sewindependent.com

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Although I have oodles of fabric I am very short of knit so I ordered a tidgey bit to make the Sorrel Dress. Or maybe something from the second bundle, if I was buying it that is………

Pink Rick rack trim around the front panel

Pink Rick rack trim around the front panel

Sew Little Time

Fitting in some time to sew has been quite a challenge recently but I managed to complete one garment & some sewing preparation for the week ahead last weekend.
imageAs the Wolf & the Beauty were paying homage to their grand passion (watching football) I spent the day making the Saltbox Top from Blueprints Sewing http://www.blueprintsforsewing.com

I took advantage of the empty house by cutting out the pattern in the kitchen, I need to spread out PDF patterns like a jigsaw before I tape & cut them. I wasn’t completely alone & Bowie decided to join in with the stitching wizardry by helping me with the cutting out.

Bowie can't read very well, she thought it said salty bone.

Bowie can’t read very well, she thought it said salty bone.

A great feature of the pattern are the houses that make matching up accurately much easier. I normally only use PDF patterns for baby & children’s stuff but the Sew Indie Month bundle was too tempting to resist.

The top is made from two pieces of fabric making it ideal  for using up left overs, or one metre or less impulse/indulgence buys. I had plenty of the linen left that I used for the Taffy Dress. Something with a pattern was required as a contrast & the two fat quarters of Retro Beech Houses from http://www.elephantinmyhandbag.com was just the thing. I love this fabric so much it was in danger of becoming a Material Museum piece.

its described as an easy to make pattern & I agree but I messed up a bit with the apex of the triangles on it. The back is every so slightly wonky & the tip of the roof has been nibbled off on the front. This is because I didn’t trust the pattern & decided that I knew better than the designer! After all I studied fashion draft & design for a full two hours at college when I left school. (Long story, my friend an I saw some boys we knew during the induction tour. We were parted from the group & couldn’t find them so went home & were too embarrassed to go back) whereas the designer is fully trained & has a wealth of experience.

Back view, it's not as wonky as it looks.

Back view, it’s not as wonky as it looks.

I ignored the instructions when joining the diagonal seams as it looked like it wouldn’t match up. It’s the same error I often make when joining bias tape, I match up the edges instead of the seam allowance. I have made a note (ticking off) to myself on the pattern instructions for the next time I make one.

Regardless of the mistakes I love it and have already worn it, I might make a shift dress version next time.

https://www.sewindependent.com/category/sewing-indie-month/sim-2015/
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I usually spend sometime lesson planning for the week on Sunday’s but as the students are not back yet I did sewing planning for the week ahead. I knew that my withdrawal symptoms would be severe so I prepped some simple relaxing sewing to complete mid week.

Front & back view of one piece

Front & back view of one piece I used up scraps & crazy blocked some pieces to use as burp cloths for Stockport Early Essentials. The relaxed freestyle sewing was nice after two pattern following sews & I would enjoy completing them later on.

Crazy blocking

I finished early on Tuesday so I had time to finish the burp cloths, I used up ribbon scraps too.

Burp cloths for Stockport Early Essentials

Burp cloths for Stockport Early Essentials

Wednesday night there was a football match on so I cut out the Sorrel Dress pattern (the next one I plan to make from the Sew Independent Bundle).

By Thursday my two lives were overlapping slightly, in a meeting at work we discussing teaching hours and I made the following contribution ‘I don’t have my calculator with me so I have added this up by hand’. Later on in the morning I lost ten minutes gazing at curtains turning them into a coat in my mind. Creative Catherine and controlled Cathy were melding into one.

I later received three fabric fixes, a lady at work gave me a bag of fabric, amongst the swag some regal purple velour. Perfect for shorts & a cape I am making for a colleague’s charity boxing match outfit. I was then given a bag of cream leather and an invite to have a nosy through a treasure chest of fabric the Performing arts department were throwing out. (It really is in a pirates treasure chest – I must photograph the plunder)

Then the icing on the cake, I checked my personal email when the I got home and was chuffed to bits to receive photos of my Dutch flower fairy babies. The strapping lad Oliver modelling his fried egg apron & petite Lilly Rose in her bib were waiting in my inbox, just what I needed!

My handsome first born always says that Oliver has a pie head (large head), his lovely mum had to cut the neck strap so it would fit. Well, you need a bigger space to keep a larger brain!

Invisible omelette making

Invisible omelette making

Lilily Rose, the youngest flower fairy

Lilily Rose, the youngest flower fairy

I didn’t get a start on the weekend sewing last night as the Wolf & I went to Foodie Friday – a few ales were sampled and we were fast asleep by ten pm!

Not to worry it’s a three day weekend thanks to the bank holiday, plenty of time for  stitching wizardry.