I’m probably way behind the times here, but I recently stumbled across the delightful independent sewing pattern company - Salme - which is based in England. Their simple yet chic designs really appeal to my minimalist side...and my tuck-adoring, peplum-loving side! The creator, Elisa, simply describes herself as an ‘architect turned textile designer with a degree in patternmaking’, which just magnifies the intrigue!

Some of my favourite Salme sewing patterns, which are only available as downloadable PDFs, include:

You can buy the reasonably-priced Salme patterns on Etsy and there's also a blog featuring sewing tips, tutorials and useful links. Best of all, I spotted a cute little freebie on there too:

Have you sewn up a Salme pattern before? What did you think? I’m debating which one to try out first!
Friends, I adore a bit of animal print and I was smitten with my first ever Renfrew top...right up until I took photos and realised that it might look more like ugly camouflage print than a sexy tiger print. I'm quite gutted really, as I'm not really a camo kinda gal! Do you see what I mean, or am I being paranoid?

Anyway, despite my fabric print woes, sewing the Renfrew up was a doddle considering it's the first time I've worked with jersey. I picked a medium-weight jersey, which was really, really stable and easy to work with. I used a straight stitch on a regular sewing machine and I naughtily left all my inside edges raw as jersey doesn't fray. Hooray!

Renfrew's cleverly constructed for a really neat finish!

I did, however, commit a cardinal sin by ignoring the grain line for my cowl piece. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough fabric to cut the piece out correctly and Ditto had already sold out, so I figured it wouldn't matter too much. But ignoring the grain line does matter, especially when you're working with jersey! My cowl piece didn't have enough stretch in it to fit the neckline, so I ended up having to take the shoulder seams in and to gather the neckline a little. Luckily, the cowl covers the neckline, so I just about got away with this faux pas, but I strongly advise against it ;o)

Also, because I'm terrible at visualising things, I must admit that I did have some trouble with the minimalist instructions for this pattern. Most of it was absolutely fine, but assembling the cowl neckline did leave me scratching my head for a while. I know, I know...only I could find one of the easiest patterns of all time a little tricky! I do love it by the way and have already bought fabric for future versions.

If you'd like to sew your very own Renfrew, but you're nervous about the jersey aspect, Lauren's written a great post about conquering knits, packed with useful advice and tips. I'm thinking it would make a great pattern for Tilly's One Week, One Pattern challenge!
Mad Men fans and sewing aficionados everywhere, your prayers have been answered! The talented Julia Bobbin has only gone and come up with the most exciting sewing idea ever...the Mad Men Dress Challenge! You're obviously going to want to know how to sign up, so just pop on over here for full details.

Now I know that for many fans out there, Joan Holloway understandably epitomises all things Mad Men, but I must admit that I'm not daring enough to embrace my curves in the way that she does. I'm definitely more of a full skirt than a wiggle skirt kind of girl. Despite knowing this, I was still surprised that my search for inspiration images, kept bringing me back predominantly to ones of Betty Draper. I love the styles of all the female characters for different reasons, but I really thought I'd be more of a Peggy Olson or Trudy Campbell  dresser. It's strange, but then again as long as I get a glamorous, yet comfortable dress out of this challenge, then I don't mind who I channel. 

If I had the body I wanted, I think I'd go for something like this little number:

But realistically, I think I would suit a something with a fuller skirt:

And if I made this, I would change the skirt to a fuller one:

In an effort not to spend money unnecessarily, I reckon I could get away with using one of these patterns from my stash (though I may cheekily have to purchase some new fabric):

Is anyone else as excited about this challenge as I am? Which Mad Men character will you be channelling?
So I finally finished this beauty for my friend's birthday (OK, so it may have been a few days later actually), using some luxurious Debbie Bliss Angel yarn.

Isn't she a fluffy dreamboat!

The colours combined with the clever pattern are like the frothy ocean!

This scarf took forever to make though, so I don't think I'll be treating myself to one any time soon! Despite only actually having to knit one row of pattern within a four-row repeat, the yarn (70% Super Kid Mohair, 30% Silk) was very tricky to work with at first. But it did get easier with time thankfully. At the beginning (and if I ever took my eye off the ball) I found that it was all too easy to accidentally pick up extra stitches, but the benefit of this particular pattern is that it also hid mistakes quite well!

The pattern is from a Debbie Bliss booklet called 'a fine romance'.

Call me a glutton for punishment, but I bought the same yarn in a purple colour and I quite fancy having a go at this cropped jumper from the same booklet:

The eagle-eyed amongst you will have spotted my 1940s-style, half-moon manicure above. I used this super easy tutorial from Wayward Daughter and I'm pretty pleased with my first attempt.

A week ago today I celebrated my 29th birthday and was spoilt with delightful stitching goodies from family, friends and colleagues alike. I thought I'd unashamedly show off share some of them with you, as I'm sure you'll appreciate them as much as I do.

Beginner crochet supplies, cute fabric and the perfect card.

A sweet coat pattern – after much deliberation and despite seeing many lovely versions of the Minoru jacket, I think The Abbey Coat is much more me!

A pretty snazzy Cath Kidston knitting bag.

The piece de resistance!

A Stitch in Time Vol.1 is filled with stunning vintage knitting patterns from 1920 – 1949, that have been adapted to fit our modern bodies and that have been knitted up in modern yarns. As you can see from my post-it filled copy above, it's absolutely thrilling. It's steeped in interesting historical information and the quite frankly, the photographs are pure unadulterated filth! Yep, you heard me! Call me a pervert, but I've already spent hours pouring over this book and I've got Vol. 2 well within my sights.

Anyway, because you're a special bunch, I thought I'd treat you to a sneaky peak of a few of my favourite patterns from this divine book! Remember, this is just a small collection from this gem-ridden treasure.

Have any of you knitted from this book? I'd love to know! Suzy's recently knitted a very chic cardigan from it, making me even more eager to get stuck in!

The Sew Grateful Week has been amazing, don’t you think? I’ve loved the giveaways, tutorials, reflections and project posts that have taken the blogosphere by storm and that have been lovingly collated by the week's mastermind, Debi. I know it’s only just finished, but bring on the next one I say!

An awful lot of you entered my giveaway, but there could only be one winner I’m afraid...

Congratulations Stephanie from The Naked Seamstress! I’ve only just discovered your blog and I’m very excited that I did! Please leave a me comment with your email address so I can get in touch about posting these lovelies out to you:

 ***Since posting this, the lovely Sam from All things quilty...and sewy , commented that she buys all her Liberty fabric from Shaukat & Company. At a mere £13.75 p/m and  who can blame her?!? They even stock the Spring/Summer 2012 collection too! Thanks for sharing this with us Sam!***

Waking up to temperatures below freezing consistently has seriously made me crave some brighter, warmer weather. Nothing that admiring some pretty fabric online can't soothe, so I took myself off to Liberty.co.uk to check out its much talked about Spring/Summer 2012 collection.

It certainly helped to brighten up my spirits and I didn't even succumb to the temptation, but it has spurred me on to save some money up for even just one metre of some buttery-soft goodness!

Here are some of my absolute favourites:

Have any of the prints from this new range taken your fancy?
Continuing on the theme of Debi's Sew Grateful Week (6-12 February), I want to express how grateful I am to all the generous people who create online tutorials. There are too many of you to name - and ones I haven't even discovered yet - but I must say a special thanks to Casey whose wonderful tutorials I've used in abundance!

I can honestly say that online tutorials have taught me some truly priceless skills and techniques and have given me ideas I could never have dreamed up! But I don't underestimate the precious time and effort that these beautiful, talented people dedicate to photographing / filming and sharing such educational tutorials. The online sewing community is selfless like none other and I feel very privileged indeed to be a part of it.

Back in January I even outlined a number of tutorials that I want to try out this year and I'm happy to say that I can tick my Sew Grateful project off this list – the Vivat Veritas Scalloped Waist Skirt!

This sweet little skirt stole my heart when I first saw it last year and I don't know why it took me so long to make it. With just two pattern pieces and clear instructions, it's really quick and simple to make. A word to the wise though, this pattern comes up VERY short. I'm only 5ft 3" and I added 3 inches to the bottom of my skirt and would have added a couple more if my fabric was wider.

Taking our current UK weather into account, I opted for a winter version by stash-busting some lightweight wool blend fabric that I've had lying around for yonks. I can't wait to make a pastel-coloured spring / summer version or two! 

My boyfriend (whom I mustn't antagonise too much as he's also Chief of Photography) suggested I go tight-less for our 'shoot' as he thought the first outfit was 'dowdy'. Well thanks very much! Clearly the concept of a chic winter outfit escapes him ;o) Anyway, to prove to him how versatile this little skirt is, I brightened it up with a floral top and gave him a twirl!

Here's a closeup of the scalloped waistline for you all to feast your eyes on

I do love this skirt so, but it's by no means the neatest garment I've ever made! I kept messing up the hemming on the lining and had to hack away so much of it that the only thing left to do was just to overlock it! I overlocked and turned up the skirt's hemline too, in an attempt to keep as much length as possible. Oh, and matching up the stripes was a bit hit and miss ;o)

Have you posted / plan on posting a Sew Grateful Week project? I think Debi's whole concept is absolutely heartwarming and it's so exciting seeing how it has taken off across the blogosphere!

When Debi announced that she was hosting Sew Grateful Week during 6-12 February, I just knew I had to jump on board and express my gratitude to the online stitching community. I had always intended on a giveaway for my Birthday, which is on Thursday, so it seems like the stars have aligned for this one! 

I'm 'sew grateful' for very many things, but today I want to take the time to say a special thanks to you my dear readers. I want you to know that I appreciate each and every one of your comments and that the encouragement and advice you continue to give me is priceless.


And because actions speak louder than words, I am giving away something that I hope you’d be delighted to win any week of the year.

One lucky reader will win:

Simplicity 5940 - a sweet little dress in a Size 18 ½, for petite ladies, that will hopefully easily lend itself to some lengthening if needed (Bust 39”, Waist 33”, Hips 43”) AND 1.5m of a beautifully breezy cotton voile.

This giveaway is open to anyone in the whole wide world, as long as you follow my blog. Please enter by midnight (GMT) on Sunday 12 February and a randomly-chosen winner will be announced on Monday 13 February.

Are you taking part in Debi's Sew Grateful Week? I've got a related project post coming up later on this week!
During the wee hours of Friday morning, a group of knitting and crochet fanatics roamed the streets of Leicester, bombing landmark buildings and statues...with glorious yarn! All in the name of kick-starting Dave’s Leicester comedy festival and bringing a smile to people’s faces, which it absolutely achieved. If you’re on Twitter, search #cheekyknitting if you fancy reading people's reactions and seeing loads more photos. 

Sadly, because of work on Friday morning I was unwilling unable to attend the yarn bombing itself and the less said about my pitiful contribution the better...

Luckily, other people put a tremendous amount of effort into it and their beautiful creations seriously helped to brighten up some of Leicester’s city centre landmarks.

Buildings targeted included the Leicester City Council, the Leicester Mercury’s HQ and the Highcross shopping centre 

And some of Leicester's well-known statues got a makeover too

Sporting Success statue (photo by Neil Goodall)

Now, I'm aware this next bit may sound totally biased of me, but I think that some of the best pieces out there were made by two of my very talented friends.

Bollard covers - the red & blue one was made by A Krafty Kat, Cedric and the other green & pink one were made by Amy Goodall

Amy also made this vine with flowers which adorned The Leicester Seamstress statue
(photos by Amy Goodall)

Have you ever been involved in yarn bombing? I’d love to hear more about it!

If you haven’t, I strongly recommend jumping at the opportunity to join in. Yes, it is precious time away from working on projects for yourself, but it’s so exciting knitting on the sly and being involved in something bigger! And it’s totally worth it for the colourful outcome and to see people taking time out of their busy lives to stop, take a closer look and have a giggle!