Last year I made 21 items of clothing for myself. A staggering 76% of them either had buttonholes or didn't require a closure...meaning just 24% of them had zips! Out of the three things I've already made this year, my Granny Chic Hawthorn has buttonholes and the other two are knits without closures. 

This isn't necessarily a problem, because I enjoy working with knits and I adore buttons. To be fair, the one-step buttonhole function on my Brother Innovis 10A (generously gifted to me by Bamber Sewing Machines) is amazing to work with, but that's another post entirely!

What IS a problem though is my reluctance to work with zips...pretty restrictive, no? It's not that I don't like them. It's that I suck at installing them - with the exception only of hand-picked and exposed zips. I don't think I've ever successfully installed an invisible or regular machine-sewn zip first time round. Nope, it always takes multiple tries, loads of unpicking, plenty of irritation and a questionable result!

So when I saw Lladybird Lauren's invisible zip tutorial today, it reminded me that I really need to work on my zip-stitching skills. I've got a whole load of tutorials pinned on my Sewing Tips & Tutorials Pinterest board that I should practice and I MUST make time to watch Craftsy's free Mastering Zipper Techniques class that I signed up to ages ago.

I want to be good at buttonholes AND zips, rather than constantly pitching the two against each other. Wish me luck please, because my next two projects require zips!

Do you have a stitching nemesis? 

Wanna know what draws me to vintage sewing patterns? Well, I've pinpointed it down to five key elements which I've shared over at Claire's blog (I Want To Be A Turtle) if you're interested. My guest blog is part of Claire's brand new series - Notionally Speaking - in which she allocates bloggers a single word related to sewing and gives them full license to interpret it in any way they want. Be not being prescriptive, I really think the series has the potential to produce some really rich and original content. I'm honoured to have been Claire's 'opening act' and I can't wait to see what else she has lined up for us! 
** IRONIC UPDATE 23/01/14: My hair appointment was cancelled this evening...I now have to wait a whole week until my next available one!!! Thank you all so much for sharing your honest 
opinions though! I hope I don't spend the next week procrastinating! **

Friends, I think I often give my poor boyfriend a bad reputation on here! Although it's humorous to share his amusing comments about my makes and whatnot, I must admit that he's incredibly kind and way more likely to compromise (especially on home decorating matters) than I am. He's also extremely easy to please, complimentary and supportive in terms of how I dress, my make-up, and usually, my hair.

But there's one major sticking point between fringe (bangs)! Since I had it cut really short last July, he has been very vocal about how much he dislikes it. He tells me it's too harsh and that a side fringe is much prettier on me. And, to be fair, he's not the only one to say this. Which is a great shame, because I really love it and I'm not sure I'm quite done with it yet.

I've been strong at sticking to my guns for six months, and although I try not to let other people's opinions sway me in life, I'm actually not sure what to ask for at my overdue hair appointment on Thursday. 

So I'm curious, what do you think suits me best - short or side fringe? Please be honest, friends and family have been so you won't offend me!

Opinion seems divided so far, but I'd love to know if there's a general consensus...although I can't promise it will change my mind either way!

Remember my recent and beloved Peter Pan collar blouse pictured above? After just its third wash I noticed this...

As you can imagine, I was devastated...but I knew exactly what had happened!

When it comes to sewing curves most of us fall into two camps. Those who leave a generous seam allowance and clip into it. And those who forgo clipping and trim the seam allowance as close as they dare. I fall into the latter camp as I find clipping fiddly and I prefer the flatter results that trimming can achieve. Doing this has mostly turned out fine for me, as I normally work with cottons. But with my black viscose, just like Icarus, I flew too close to the sun (or trimmed too close to the seam).

So heed my warning people - when working with fabrics that fray be VERY careful when trimming seam allowances. DON'T trim too close to the edge or your seams will weaken and eventually come apart. I'll even consider clipping next time!

The saddest thing is that I know I won't replace this collar, even if it's easy enough to do. I'm just not wired that way - once a make is done, it's done! I'd sooner make another of these blouses from scratch than spend hours unpicking and trying to fix this one. Pigheaded, but true! 

I hope sharing this sad tale will help save some of you a whole load of heartache in future. What's your cautionary stitching tale?

A week ago today I had a delightful day in Nottingham (East Midlands...East Side...see what I did there?!?) meeting crafty bloggers at a somewhat unique meetup. The day got off to an exceptional start when I stepped out of the train station and right into the arms of Hopkinson - three floors with vintage and antique homeware, clothes, stitching goodies and so much more. Luckily I had an hour to kill and I ended up leaving with the 1940s-1950s fabrics pictured above (3.5 metres of each!), some vintage buttons and tailor's chalk. I could have bought so much more, but I'd already spent my budget for the whole day!

Before heading off to meet the others I greedily took some snaps too! If you visit Nottingham and love vintage, I urge you to visit can even have tea and cake there too!
Anyway, back to the meetup which was meticulously organised by Sam at Create It Samantha and Kat at Krafty Kat. We met at Wired Cafe for divine tea and cake, as well as some crafty chatter. It was actually really nice not to just talk about sewing, and to find out what crafts some of the bloggers are into. The meetup was 'sponsored' by Home Crafts, who generously provided goodie bags for us all...I felt like a kid again getting excited about a party bag!  

There was also a secret present swap and I was the lucky recipient of this cool brooch kit from Amy at Almond Rock. Understandably, poor Amy didn't really want to hand it over, so I must make her proud of the end result!

So you're thinking this sounds absolutely lovely, but not exactly unique as meetups go. I know you are, don't deny it! But where Sam and Kat really went above and beyond was by organising a 'tour' of the local Cath Kidston branch, where we heard all about the new fabric lines for SS14 and Cath's process for choosing prints. And also by finally trotting us off to The Bead Shop for a free taster session where we made some cute earrings. They have an impressive selection of workshops that I definitely plan on checking out in the future. 

All in all, it was a fun-packed day with a tremendous amount of preparation and thought put into it! Thank you Sam and Kat! And the highlight was meeting such friendly bloggers with a real range of interests, making for some interesting conversations!

Pictured above from left to right:


Hannah - Dainty & Ivory

Kat - Krafty Kat

Kelly - To Become Mum

What about you? Have you been to any good meetups lately? I know a bunch of lovely ladies are meeting on Goldhawk Road for some retail therapy today...

Friends, I'm so excited! Last year I was asked to join the Minerva Blogger Network and I now finally have my first make share. Determined not to embarrass myself on my first network outing and eager to make 2014 the year of the dress, I decided to go with a tried and tested pattern. I've made Hawthorn by Colette Patterns twice before with great results and minimal fitting issues – a sleeveless Neolithic dress version and a polka dot blouse version.

Couple a foolproof pattern with some delicious chambray and lovely lilac buttons...and bingo! In fact, you can get your very own kit here...minus the granny chic floral print! That's a charity shop sheet from my stash, sorry! Teehee!

The Hawthorn pattern has always been a breeze for me to fit and just like the last two times, I made a straight size 6 and only shortened the bodice pieces by a couple of centimetres. One thing I did do differently though was to add 3 centimetres to the collar pieces. Hawthorn's collar is quite delicate and petite normally, but for this version I wanted to make more of a statement with it.

Another thing I like about this pattern and working with such delightful fabric, is the neat finish inside. I was able to overlock all seams, as well as the facings, which reduced bulk as I didn’t bother turning under twice. This is an important factor for me, because the Hawthorn could easily become quite bulky around the collar area.

Obligatory back shot - pardon the large derriere, but I love how well the back and shoulders fit me! 

Also, I totally look like a cross between Mr Bean and Davina McCall in the picture below, but I just had to show you how twirly this skirt is. And this was the best of all the shots...just take a moment to imagine the others!

Overall, I’m really pleased with my first dress of the year. The fit is spot on and having a faux-denim shirt-dress in my wardrobe makes me giddy! I know the floral details on the collar and cuffs make it quite kitsch – not everyone’s cup of tea - but you could skip those or use a print/colour more suited to your taste. Either way, I can’t wait to bust my Hawthorn out in warmer weather with bare legs and cute sandals!

Hope you approve of my first make for the Minerva Blogger Network and that you tune in for next month's offering!

When I shared an update on our new home renovations last October, I was frankly surprised and touched by the interest shown considering most of you tune in for stitching-related topics. So I felt it was only right to follow up with the end-ish result.

We still need artwork/paintings for the walls, a sideboard/cabinet for the alcove on the right and a couple of plants, but we're so happy with what we've achieved so far! Guys, we did A LOT to this room - you can refresh your memory over here if you like.

We had a particularly hairy moment when we painted our 'feature' wall Smurf blue...and I cried! We had to come back before work the next morning, paint it white again and go on the hunt for a classier colour. Which I hope you agree we found in the end!

The boyfriend took a lot of convincing that a mid-century / 60s vibe was a sexy way to go, but we managed to compromise eventually. Turns out compromising is really hard and not our forte! 

We searched long and hard for a mirror and originally we both had something much bigger and grander in mind. But we couldn't agree on the colour of the frame, the shape of the mirror and various other petty details. When I randomly spotted this 1940s (I think?!?) beauty in a local charity shop for a mere £25, my mind was made up. I text the boyfriend a couple of pictures and anxiously awaited his disapproval. Even then, I had to have her and sheer stubbornness meant I carried her the 15 minute walk home...all 10 kilos of her. My fingers were bleeding when I got back (she's mounted on solid oak), but I was elated. She fit right in and even the boyfriend finally agreed that she looked 'nice enough' and could stay in the living room. One small battle many more to go!

Even though this was a really challenging process, I'm kinda hooked now and can't wait to slowly tackle the rest of the house. If you follow me on Pinterest, you'll see just how obsessed I've become. Sadly, the boyfriend doesn't share my taste for all things vintage and I fear many more compromises are on the horizon.  

So, there you have it...our new living room! Would you like to see more of these kind of posts from me in the future, or have you had quite enough now?

Also, if you've become an expert at negotiating and compromising with your partner when it comes to home improvements, please do share your nuggets of wisdom!

** Post-publication edit, since so many of you have asked about our sofas! They're from the Opal range at absolute steal in the sale right now! **
Well, there sure seemed to be quite an appetite for keeping the Pattern Pyramid Giveaway going and I want to thank you all for entering! Right now, there can only be one winner, but at least we know there will be many more winners to come!

Without further ado, the 24 patterns go to...

...the lovely Joanne over at Sew Little Time! Although the patterns are destined to stay in the UK for now, I have no doubt that they'll cross oceans again in the future. So congratulations Joanne and be patient everyone else - your time will come!

You've already seen the above collage in my 2013 round-up post, but not all of the featured projects had been blogged about then. Even though we're all pretty much done with reflecting on the past, I do think the unblogged beauties deserve their 15 minutes of fame!

With so many friends having babies last year and expecting babies this year, I'm always on the look-out for cute baby patterns. And I struck gold when I came across a sleeping sack pattern in Anna Maria Horner's book called Handmade Beginnings - which I've already reviewed here if you're interested. Not only is the sleeping sack super cute and suitable for both sexes, it's also quite an impressive gift and actually really useful!

I've made two of these to date (with many more in my stitching future for sure) and have lined both with some wadding - even though the pattern doesn't call for it - for a warmer, snugglier outcome. My fabric and other materials (wadding, flannel and velcro) predominantly came from Minerva Crafts, apart from the little chick fabric from Fabric Rehab and the bias binding fabric from my stash. Yes, I made my own bias binding...both times!

Although this pattern is only sized for 0-3 months, it really would be simple to adapt for an older baby by just adding the necessary length and width. I love the pattern's peg-bag shape and the fact that it fastens with buttons for babies to potentially choke on! All in all, I had loads of fun picking out fabrics and sewing these up. Better still, I was proud and excited to hand them over to my friends, who seemed delighted to receive them!

I was also asked to make this cute dress for a close friend's little girl as a special Christmas Day dress. My friend picked this pattern from Tie Dye Diva and chose both lengths of fabric from Fabric Rehab. The idea was to have a Christmassy dress that could then be reversed and worn the rest of the year...mission accomplished, don't you think?

One thing that really upset me during the making of this dress was an annoying mistake on my part. As usual I was cutting it out on an evening and feeling a little tired, so I stupidly cut the back on the fold instead of the front! I was gutted because it meant I'd have to piece the front and my poor friend had spent a fair bit of cash on the fabrics and was really excited about this dress. I worked really hard to line up the patterns as perfectly as I could and although I did do a good job, I'm still a little disappointed that this happened in the first place. My friend was nothing but grateful for and complimentary about the dress though, so that was a huge relief!

Anyway, that's it for 2013 makes from me now. I have two 2014 makes to show you next, as well as loads more in the pipeline.

Farewell 2013!!!

P.S. Apologies for the quality of these pictures, they were all taken on my smartphone at home, in the garden, at work...whenever I could fit them in during gloomy days.

My obsession with leopard print is well documented. I have countless of leopard print RTW clothes, undies, shoes, wellies, a coat, umbrella and other accessories. I've also sewn up a fair few things using leopard print fabric and will probably continue to do so until I'm too old to carry it off. I went a step further this New Year's Eve by applying leopard print eye make-up, but I did have the good sense not to coordinate my outfit! I think my boyfriend was a little worried when I eagerly proclaimed that it could totally work as an everyday or even wedding-day look. And, no, I wasn't even joking!  

Don't worry, I haven't completely lost the plot. I know this post has nothing to do with stitching. But I also know that a good number of you have a soft spot for leopard print too. So I figured I'd share the love by linking to the easy peasy YouTube tutorial I used. You case you want to look this 'cool' too ;o)

So, what do you think to leopard print eye make-up? A step too far or a bit of fun?