I need to be straight with you. There will be no real stitching updates from me in the immediate future, simply because there will be little time for me to stitch in. I’ve just got back from a 10-day break and now I have a few busy weekends coming up, including my boyfriend’s brother’s wedding tomorrow – no, I didn’t even make a dress for the occasion as originally planned! Useless, or what?!?

Staying true to my Hazel post though, I promise that dress fitting / making is still high on my agenda during the latter part of the year and you’ve already seen the long list of patterns awaiting my attention. Believe me, I’m itching to tackle them as soon as I can.

In the meantime though, I thought I’d share the vintage delights I recently had the pleasure of stumbling upon and consequently buying. Leicester isn’t exactly rich in vintage sewing supplies, so I always feel super privileged to find any, especially when they are this special!

This 1940s cotton swimsuit is in mint condition and the best news is that it actually fits me...can you imagine how happy this made me?

The bodice has boning for extra structure, the sides are ruched to flatter and the elasticated back is very forgiving. The straps are buttoned on making them easy to remove, I prefer tying them in a halter-neck, but they do button to the back bodice as well.

Splendid (and lots) of vintage / antique lace

My heart literally skipped a beat when I saw these lengths of stunning, drapey 1940s fabric...the colours are so vibrant!

And how could I resist this 1950s fabric?!? It feels like a wool crepe and again just look at those colours!

Any ideas what I could make with this lot? I worry I may just hang them up as eye candy, forever fearful of butchering them if I was to even go near them with the scissors...
So I got back from my glorious 10-day stay in Portugal yesterday and there’s nothing quite like a full day at work to welcome you back to reality. Despite the usual post-holiday blues, I can’t really complain as the weather I’ve returned to is marvellous at the moment and the boyfriend made the wise choice of presenting me with a clean and tidy flat! 

Personally, I love reading and seeing snippets of people’s lives beyond stitching, so I thought I’d share a selection of my photos that best sum up my break. Apologies to those of you who tune in purely for the stitchery...

This trip, I also got to visit the home of my mum's good friend, who is a super creative and talented Swedish woman. She has an impeccable sense of style and is forever making over her home by rearranging things, restoring antique furniture and collecting vintage trinkets. The house is kooky in its structure, to say the least, but she’s done an amazing job at transforming her little courtyard into a really cool space. 

Have you been on a cheeky little trip this year, or are you considering a break at a later date perhaps?
Firstly, you guys are amazing! I can't believe how many of you stopped by and offered kind encouragement and sound advice on my last post. I'm so grateful! Your ideas were all so clever and you've convinced me to try and salvage my Hazel - maybe by shortening the bodice a touch and adding an A-line shape skirt and waistband...a la Lonsdale methinks!

I also want to quickly thank snippa and Johanna for nominating me for awards recently. You're both very kind and I'll look at them in more detail when I'm back in the UK next week...I'm currently sunning myself in gorgeous Portugal!

But the real reason I'm writing today is because of Kerry's (Kestrel Finds and Makes) genius Summer Sewing Swap idea which she announced back in May. I knew I had to play! The concept of throwing your name in the hat, getting randomly paired with a fellow blogger and then exchanging sewing goodies, is simply a stitcher’s dream!

For me, this dream became even more perfect when I found out I got paired with Katie from The Little Red Squirrel. If you haven't had the pleasure of discovering Katie's blog, you really are missing a treat! This beautiful lady will blow you away with her sewing and knitting skills, as well as her fabulously retro sense of style.

Anyway, here's what Katie sent me in the swap:

Some lovely teal cotton pique, pretty pearl buttons, a chic 1960s sewing pattern and a cute 1980s crop-top sewing pattern, together with a very kind note!

Thank you so much Katie for my amazing goodies...I can't wait to get back to the UK to start hatching plans for them. And thank you Kerry for coming up with such a fun concept!

To see what I sent Katie, just hop on over to her post here.
Colette’s Hazel - the land of opportunity of sewing patterns, full of promise and possibilities. This pattern is sweet, simple and fast to make. The perfect little summer number if you like. And there’s solid evidence to back this up, as glorious versions of Hazel are popping up left, right and centre: PaunnetGinger MakesLucky Lucille and The Garment Farmer.

Some bloggers loved this pattern so much, they made it more than once: Sew Country Chick (herehere), Pincushion Treats (herehere) and Colette's very own Sarai  (here & here).

But what about me? Putting my terrible track record aside, was I lucky enough to end up with a glorious dress that actually fits? Was I heck!

But even for me this is a first - my Hazel makes me look pregnant...FRONT AND BACK!!!

This is the face my mum says can turn milk sour. I'd have to agree with her...though I have good reason to be annoyed, no?

It’s all my fault of course. I only made a muslin for the bodice and then proceeded to stupidly ignore the niggling voice in my head telling me that the shape of the skirt looked too narrow for my shape. I told the voice to go away and that the skirt looked fine on everyone else...but of course not everyone else’s hips are about 3 times wider than their waist. Aaarrrggghhh! I didn’t bother finishing this Hazel, as I simply didn’t have enough fabric to fix the skirt. So to get the fit I want I’ll have to start again from scratch. But I think the skirt can be fixed relatively easily by making it wider/bigger and then either into an A-line shape, more gathered like a dirndl skirt or pleated.

Hazel is definitely a pattern worth persevering with though as it comes together easily and you can make it as simple or as embellished as you like. Despite my skirt fitting issues, I was surprised at how well the bodice fitted considering I don’t even have the straps in place. A word of warning about the amount of ease in the bodice - my ample bust measurement corresponds to a size 6/8 but to get this fit I had to cut out a size 2!?! And for once I didn’t even have to shorten the bodice pieces, which does probably mean most of you will probably need to lengthen them though.
Initially, this whole disappointing experience smacked of déjà vu and I wallowed in self-pity over the fact that I'm destined to never ever make a dress that truly fits and that I truly love and wear to death. You should have been there, it really was a sorry sight. After indulging myself for a little while, I got bored and managed to pull myself together long enough to establish three facts:

1.    I practically live in dresses.
2.    None of these dresses are me-made.
3.    Nothing will give me greater satisfaction than making dresses that fit.

And with those facts established, I began to think more calmly and clearly. What I need to do is work harder to achieve my goal. So far this year I’ve had loads of fun experimenting with jersey, making cute blouses and even a couple of lovely skirts. But I think most of it has been a diversion tactic to distract me from tackling what I fear most...dresses! So for the latter part of this year, I will mostly be concentrating on honing my dress-making skills and on quality over quantity. This is not to say that I won’t be making anything else or that I won’t be jumping onboard any exciting sewalongs, but without focussing on what I want to achieve how do I truly expect to achieve it?

My 'Hazel that could have been...' look!

The loose plan (I say ‘loose’ as I also have a bad track record of sticking to plans) is to strike while the iron is hot and ‘perfect’ my Hazel first. From there I hope to delve into my stash and work though my everyday patterns like Macaron, Rooibos, Ceylon, Darling Ranges, Simplicity 8138 and Simplicity 2591. Then I want to move onto a few breezier patterns like Lonsdale and Cambie as well as some vintage beauties I've had forever like Simplicity 5940, Simplicity 8483 and Simplicity 3411. Finally, I’d like to graduate by drafting some designs of my own that have been swimming around in my head for a while. Wish me luck!

What’s your sewing nemesis...or are you lucky enough not to have one?

Have you ever stepped out of your front door to be greeted by three GIANT CROCHET LIONS? No, I didn't think so! This has been the spectacular view from my doorstep this week...

Aren't they just incredible and GIGANTIC?!? Understandably they are protected from the elements by a glass case, but it does make photographing them a little tricky!

Just look at that detail - those straight lines and perfect circles!

Not the clearest of shots below, but one that gives you a sense of the sheer scale of the project set against the backdrop of Leicester's Curve theatre.

So, what's this is aid of I hear you ask? To celebrate the rich textile heritage of the East Midlands of course! These lions were hand crocheted by Shauna Richardson with 36 miles of yarn, using a 10mm hook and the wool of 150 Derbyshire Dales sheep...WOWZERS!!! You can catch this display in Leicester until 10 July, but to find out more about the project, including its tour dates across the country, hop on over here.

So friends, are you suitably impressed? If you crochet, what's the largest thing you've ever made...if you have a link to share, even better ;o)

I tried learning to crochet earlier this year, but I was pretty terrible. I finally managed to crochet a decent-ish granny square, but a week later I had literally forgotten how to do it. FAIL!!!