I am offering grateful thanks to Jane [] who did a post on ideal gifts, and she linked to this;


Which led me via a convoluted route to the ever helpful Kate at [do check them out!]. They do all wonderful things in leather, ideal for those us who like to have our wardrobes and accessories handmade. They even have ready mades for those who aren’t keen to do it themselves.

timthumbshoes handmade

The handbag is the Kelly bag of course, and is probably going to be my next make, but meanwhile, back at the ranch I have made two of these [yes two!!]

red MonetThis is the Monet bag, it comes ready cut with the holes punched and the needle and leather thonging to sew it all up – what could be simpler? I made a black one first [bought through Janes’ link from Fabric Godmother] and then this one in Very Berry Red, which I love, from the Simple Way themselves. I also bought one for my daughter Abigail to make and she loves it as it accommodates her i-pad beautifully. Not content, I also bought us both two kits for these;

timthumbHUVSUP0Jyellow purse

So even if you have had no interest so far and are just curious – and if like me you love to try and learn something new, then check these out. They are so reasonable and I agree with Jane, they would make lovely presents, although it may be a bit late for giving next week, but there are always reasons to give aren’t there?

Posted in handmade, Life a Work In Progress, me-made wardrobe, Sewing, Works in Progress | 2 Comments


Since my recent sudden and quite unexpected illness I have lost a bit of weight, so most of my sewing recently has been alterations. Ugh! this would usually bring on a long list of things I would rather do than that. However it gave me a good opportunity to go through my wardrobe, cull those items that really weren’t worth the alterations, discovering other items that would now fit comfortably and not snuggly  and finishing items where the fit was more spot on. Truth be told I had let a few pounds creep on but told myself I was still in the ‘size range’ I normally had so what? We can usually tell ourselves anything we want to hear but given the opportunity I took it and that is why the prospect of alterations was not half so bad as it might have been. I now have fewer skirts, but that means an opportunity to make more! There’s always a silver lining when you’re a seamstress [not literally of course]. I now have a valid reason for looking at more patterns and using up some of the store of fabric I have.

There are still staple items I need, but I have bought the pattern for a cape! Sadly the one I coveted was Vogue 8776, as seen here in Sarah’s make from Goodbye Valentino,

sarah gunn's cape

which looks absolutely great on Sarah but on looking at the pattern, which although Out of Print is still available in their OOP section, I decided that it wouldn’t be as easy to wear and move around [e.g. driving ]


I wasn’t too sure about the horizontal arm opening, I think it would tend to lift the whole cape and be a bit restrictive,  so I  have bought Vogue 8959 instead;


not quite as exciting to make perhaps but which I hope will be more wearable. On a more mundane plane, I have T-shirts and a T-shirt dress to make and I quite like Carolyn’s post on the Watson Bra pattern []. It looks nice and comfy and I have just the stuff. I feel my list of things growing exponentially already!

Posted in coats and jackets, dressmaking, handmade, Life a Work In Progress, me-made wardrobe, Sewing, skirts, Works in Progress | Leave a comment

NOT QUITE LIFE -v- ART! [an apology of sorts]

When you keep a blog-diary you inevitably collect a lot of photos  in your media file. As it is approaching the end of another year of wearing 95% of my own hand made clothes [the other 5% allowed for tights, shoes and coats – although I have worn handmade jackets] I thought I would have a look at mine to assess just what I have, how far have my sewing skills progressed if at all and lastly just where am I going next.

However one thing that struck me about my media file, apart from the atrocious photography, is that I have only one or two photos of me actually wearing the clothes. I usually take the photos in my sewing room on the dressform  [boring] or have one or other of my daughters wear them, again usually against a wall! The ones below are of me btw.

ice cream lady 006 ice cream lady 005

This, despite the fact that the blogs I really love to read and find interesting all portray the makes being worn and usually in absolutely beautiful settings, not just a wall behind. I am thinking of Carolyn [Handmade by Carolyn] and Sarah Gunn [Goodbye Valentino] and the list goes on all over the globe. Carolyn usually has her beautiful dog with her, who almost steals the show!

Now there is nothing wrong with taking photos indoors, usually here in the UK it is advisable due to the weather. BUT to see the clothes as they ought to be seen they should be on a model, not wooden, but living – mea culpa. Now I can’t promise an improvement in my photography skills, believe me I’ve tried and this is as good as it gets, but I can try to at least rope my better half in to take some of the makes actually being worn. There! I’ve said it and it is in black and white [good job nobody reads this blog!]

Meanwhile back at the ranch here is the first make recorded in this blog and here is the most recent. No improvement in the photos but quite a bit in the production.

 red dress 004

Posted in Blouses, DRESSES, dressmaking, handmade, knitting, Life a Work In Progress, me-made wardrobe, Sewing, Works in Progress | Leave a comment

SIMPLICITY 1609 – Lady in Red.

red dress 004

I just had enough material to finish my crimson Simplicity 1609 – the 1960’s tribute shift dress mentioned in my last post. I didn’t quite have enough to cut out the facings as per pattern, which were drafted all in one piece. I had to redraft the neck facing and sleeve facings separately in order to use up all available material. I didn’t line it, I shall make have made a separate undershift/petticoat to keep the fluidity of the design. Rightly or wrongly I thought that perhaps a fixed lining would ‘ground’ the shift too much. I overlocked the facings and side seams and bottom of the hem and it looks quite tidy inside but I can’t leave it without a lining of some kind because the material is quite scratchy.

red dress 005red dress 006red dress 008

For such a simple frock I was taking no chances. I find that the simpler the design the more careful the execution has to be if it is not to look ‘home made’, so as shown in my previous post I tacked all the markings, the balance lines and the darts. I also made up two toiles to get the skim-fit just right. In the end I cut it out and my first finish was just a tad too loose, so I had to go back and take in the darts at the back. I toyed with the idea of undoing the front and side seams and taking them in, but I didn’t have to and was I pleased about that!

So there you have it. I have a few projects in mind next. I really love Sarah Gunn’s Vogue 8776 cape

sarah gunn's cape


[] and would love to do it in just that tweed. However, I have a long list of ‘want to’s’ and a couple longer list of ‘need to’s’. Disciplining my mind is the problem at the moment to concentrate on keeping on task – whatever that is. My initial relief on getting back to sewing has waned a bit and I am now getting a bit annoyed with myself. I have a lot going on in the background and sewing is really my relaxation and escape I suppose, but it isn’t quite doing its job at the moment.

Looking back over recent posts I saw that in one I had listed the makes that I had not photographed or posted, one of which was my dyed ‘denim’ short sleeved blouse. This is just a plain shirt type blouse made from some no longer white cotton sheeting that I put in with other things I was dyeing navy blue. The result was quite a pleasing denim colour. I put a white collar band on it to lift the colour a bit. It is a very useful little blouse and I wear it more than I initially thought.

red dress 009  red dress 011red dress 012

Like most sewers I have to make myself strike the proper balance between sewing clothes I wear daily [such as underwear – on my ‘need-to’ list] more tops and skirts and those items where I feel I really need to stretch myself and improve my skills, coats and jackets – and yes, Vogue 8776!


Posted in DRESSES, dressmaking, handmade, Life a Work In Progress, me-made wardrobe, Sewing | 4 Comments


A lady can change her mind can’t she? Well, I certainly can, and have. In this post I made a point of saying that my so called ‘mystery’ Burda M104 jacket  wasn’t meant to have a lining. I put one in and took it out again. It didn’t seem quite finished to me though and even although I wore it a couple of times and it seemed fine I wasn’t quite satisfied with the finish.Well, this time I put it back in again and it was fine. I even played around with the embroidery stitches on my new machine. A long way to go there, I think.


It took me a while to figure out what was wrong in the first place and it was the first principle of dress making – making sure that the grain of the fabric runs perpendicular to the hem/floor. It was the front facing and front of the jacket which weren’t on the true together. This made the front of the jacket swing to the side. Then when I went to put in the lining, trying to force it straight it bagged and looked most peculiar. This didn’t show up so badly without the lining but nevertheless was there.  Such a basic, elementary thing, but so important as we all know it makes all the difference between success and disaster. Fortunately I managed to put it right.

So this time I am taking no chances. I am sewing Simplicity 1609.Simplicity 1609

I was drawn to it  by pure nostalgia after watching the Children in Need edition of Great British Sewing Bee and one of the Hairy Biker Dave Myers’ make in his  episode’s final makes.[There are lots of clips on YouTube]. It was so reminiscent of the shift dresses I used to make that I just had to give it another go. Sometime ago I managed to get 2yds of quite a loose woven woollen material in a lovely warm red. I think it cost me about £7 and has been in my stash for quite a while. I had a  shift dress in this colour when I was making shift dresses  so I deemed it just right for this. So back to basics;


I tacked both the vertical grain line and the horizontal. All the pattern markings were tacked as well. I considered that as the design is so simple the balance just had to be right to hang well. I also have a matching lining to go in. Whether fitted or a slip type underdress I haven’t decided. We’ll see how it goes. I have to change my overlocker thread to crimson so that I can clean up the seams, not quite looking forward to that, although why I don’t know it is never as bad as feared, why do we hate it so? I also have to source a 22″ red zip, a trip into town I think.

And finally, the almost final stage of the pistachio ensemble. The lining is in, not without a bit of fiddling. I wanted to attach the hem of the lining to the jacket. It just didn’t work. In the end I just hemmed the lining and let it hang free. The material is so temperamental it shows every bruise. I still haven’t decided how to close it. Top-stitching around the edge of the jacket made it ‘frill’, and that little episode took a lot of unpicking, so I am a bit wary of trying a buttonhole. The jury is still out on that.

DEBBIE 014     DEBBIE 015

Jacket; Burda 01/2003/M104; Skirt Burda  8849 ;Top self drafted. Dress; Simplicity 1609

Posted in coats and jackets, DRESSES, dressmaking, FIBRE CRAFTS, handmade, Life a Work In Progress, me-made wardrobe, Sewing, skirts, Works in Progress | Leave a comment


The inclination to sew has only just crept through the door this week, after being absent for a couple of weeks or so due to a sudden and unexpected indisposition and being confined to bed. Usually this doesn’t deter me from doing something, but perhaps the fact that I couldn’t raise the energy to even think about it tells you something of how I felt!

There is sewing to show, however. I had already completed a couple of things and had only to take the photos. I need to do this to keep  up the record of things I’ve been making [good or bad] as it does help you keep track of any progress in your sewing skills, and even a blog which nobody reads but you is an excellent way to do this. What it hasn’t produced so far is any noticeable improvement in my photographic skills, but we can’t have everything, so please bear with me.

First up is my version of a skirt I liked in a well known UK store, which made its name in underwear [it was rumoured that Maggie Thatcher bought there!]. I first saw it in a vibrant yellow, which I preferred but I could only find this colour, which they also do. My friend tried one on – and they were obviously designed for the younger market as they were quite short. It is a long time since I wore skirts several inches above my knees, in fact I never did, just on the knee or below was more my style, so I drafted mine a decent length for me. My version is not quite the exact of the original store one, but I like it.

Nov 2014 004   Nov 2014 003 The pockets are faux.

Whilst mooching around in the store looking at the RTW new styles I saw a little black jacket I liked. It had interesting fastenings of little bows. I drafted a pattern from my favourite jacket which is on the same style[-ish]. I had some dark grey wool that I thought could be used as a practice piece. The result is not quite what I envisaged – a bit boring really, but I’m a little pleased with the detailing. I lined it in case I wanted to wear it, but I don’t think I will. Changes I would make if I made it again; shorten it, lower the front neck a smidgen, and put a little more shape in the front princess seams and in the side shaping. It looks a bit shapeless on the dressform, but here it is for what it’s worth.

Nov 2014 008Nov 2014 007

My current project is using up the fabric left over from this skirt.pistachio 008

I called it ‘pistachio’ for want of a proper name for the colour. It is a ghastly fabric to work with really, and if I thought the skirt was difficult then the jacket is a nightmare! I thought I would like to line it with a heavier lining – not quite sure if it is a good idea yet, still working on it. This is a picture in progress;

Nov 2014 001Nov 2014 002

Hopefully the little issues currently making my head ache will be resolved soon and I can show you the finished article.

Posted in dressmaking, handmade, Life a Work In Progress, me-made wardrobe, Sewing, skirts, Works in Progress | 6 Comments


Do excuse the dreadful puns, but my cautionary ‘tail’ has a serious note. My #3 daughter’s cat has just returned after being missing for almost a week. My daughter was distraught; there are coyotes in the woods not far from where she lives and she was convinced her cat had been on their menu.

The Monday had been a public holiday in America and the weather had been warm and beautiful for October in Upstate New York so most folk had been busy mowing and putting their gardens to bed for the Winter. You’ve guessed it! The cat had noseyed its way into someone’s shed or garage and been accidentally locked in. Those of us who are cat owners, or had a cat at one time, would most likely have had a similar incident. When the owner of the garage or shed  next opens the door, the cat shoots out. Pierre was incredibly lucky. Normally by now Winter sets in there and folk have no need to get their tools out again until Spring! Winters there are very cold [sub-zero] so it could have been goodbye Pierre! My daughter and her family had done a neighbourhood check, but of course no-one had seen her [despite the name, Pierre is female]. SO the moral of the tale is – please check for any visiting pets before locking up for Winter. Mind you it can happen any time of year, but incarceration would be for a shorter time then as we go in and out of our tool sheds. So please be extra vigilant.

Really my timely reminder isn’t mine at all, but Patience Strong’s. It amused me and I copied it out and then forgot about. Feel free to be amused, irritated or both – but there’s an irritating ring of truth here somewhere;

TIME IN HAND By Patience Strong.

[a counsel of perfection!]

When a busy day you’ve planned – give yourself some time in hand – so that jobs don’t overlap. Try to leave a little gap – between the things you have to do – a tiny pause enables you – to get your balance with no need – to rush around at breakneck speed – never poised or punctual. Try to make an interval – so that there is time to spare – instead of hurrying everywhere.


Sometimes it’s beyond your power – to arrange a crowded hour – in a way that leaves a break – giving you a chance to take – a few brief moments to unwind. To be ahead and not behind – thus conserving energy – for the next activity….Up to most things you can stand – if you have some time in hand.”


Not much more to add to that !



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