Ever since I finished this cardigan


and posted the details on Ravelry [I.D.Creatficrafts] I have felt like a fraud. Reason being it has bugged the life out of me because one side, the button side of the front ribbing, was too tight. This was due in part because not enough stiches were picked up along the edging. It annoyed me so much that I tended not to want to wear, even though I fudged it by crocheting a pseudo edging.  I knew that it wasn’t right but short of undoing the whole front band with its fiddly collar, which didn’t appeal, what was I to do? Well, in short, this:

IMG_20150809_122021_hdrLooks drastic doesn’t it? It felt it! But I had a cunning plan Baldric! I treated the cut off part as you would a steek. In the picture above you can see that I have started to sew in the loose threads to make a tidy edging. I did it with the bottom ribbing too. And then, with a just a little bit of ribbing;

IMG_20150809_122051_hdr IMG_20150809_122209_hdr

You get this;


All done!


Not perfect, I know, but I’ve scratched that itch.


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That is, do you do too much? I thought of this when hemming the legs of my DH’s trousers.  I had remembered some advice given by a couture tailor about not trying to ‘nail down’ your hems and seams. He said that very often the hems on couture garments are often just caught by two or three threads in the garment itself and that is sufficient. With this in mind I made sure that only the tiniest marks were made on the outside of the trouser legs but that the hems were nice and secure. After all the expert himself assured us that our garments would not fall apart!

I have often been guilty of ‘over-sewing’. Of wanting to put too much into a garment. This is probably quite a natural reaction to having taken a lot of care and effort with whatever it is you’re making and wanting to make it ‘wear-proof’. I have, on occasions,  used inappropriate finishes in an effort to do a ‘good finish’, e.g. adding seam tape and bias binding to seams that didn’t really need it and that ultimately spoilt the hang of the garment – and yes, ‘nailing down hems’ too.

Let’s make it quite clear though, I am not advocating shoddy or quick finishes. It is important to be proud of your work and to finish anything you make to the best of your abilities. The couturier was merely reminding us to direct our energies to what really matters and to finish delicately. The inside of a garment should be as beautiful as the outside, if not more so. Despite the fact that few will ever see it, you will know and make wearing the clothes far more pleasurable.

It is odd how various snippets of sewing gems come to mind whilst doing the most mundane of sewing jobs, but it confirms what we all know, that the wealth of sewing knowledge out there is invaluable. Tips we think we may never need can often be used in unexpected ways. We can never know enough and would we want to anyway? That would mean the end of a very enjoyable journey in increasing our knowledge and skills. Don’t you agree?

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Literally,- as to date I haven’t yet managed to get take any photographs of recently completed makes, so apart from listing them [just so that I don’t forget myself where I am] – show and tell will have to wait a bit I’m afraid. We’re very happy that our #3 daughter and husband have come over from New York for the family wedding in June. Lot’s of family visits [Cheshire, Sussex and Leicestershire] So lots of driving for me on the cards but taking it fairly easily in between.

Just for the record, the list of finished items to date yet to be photographed are; Black jacquard Islander jacket #4; the Badgley Mischka V1399 dress [in Royal Blue] pattern pictured in previous post; 3 skirts [assorted, one self drafted] and a Burda style ‘chanel’ cardigan jacket. The list is growing so I will have to find the time for the camera to come out soon. Although I signed up for the Craftsy course for the Badgley Mischka dress I didn’t use it as it really was as Vogue say ‘Easy’, so I just cracked on without and sewed it up. It went together without any problems and I am quite happy with it. It will probably be my ‘wedding’ dress -i.e. my grand daughter’s wedding, not mine.

So a busy time ahead for a couple of weeks, but I thought I would check in just in case you thought I’d dropped of the planet. Back soon.



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Summer, that is. Yesterday was a truly beautiful English Summer’s day [I’m not being separatist, it is merely where I  live and have weather!*]. The sun was warm, almost hot, and there was just the slightest breeze. The birds were singing their little hearts out and all was right with my world, the bees were buzzing and the chickens laying and enjoying dust baths – idyllic? Yes, but only for the day. Today, in the true tradition of English weather [see supra*] it is grey and dismal, cold and raining. So I guess yesterday was Summer.

Now after many long years of knowing that is usually the case, why do I mention it? Because today I wanted to take photographs. Poor photographer that I am, even I know that you need some light to take reasonable photographs – and that we have not got.

I have another post waiting to go that just needs a couple of ‘after’ photographs. I also need to take photographs of my latest make – another Islander Express jacket in lovely black Jaeger jacquard fabric. This is the fourth time of making this jacket and I never cease to be amazed at how well drafted it is. The pieces go together perfectly. Janet Pray never disappoints,  unlike the English weather unfortunately.

On another note, I have signed up for the Craftsy ‘Inside Vogue’ series to make this dress.


I have a wedding to go and wondered if this might do. Another make outside my usual style, but that seems to be the theme lately. I’ll be back when the sun comes out [don’t hold your breath].


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REVIEW – Islander Motor City Jacket -CRAFTSY

biker jacket

   I chose this course and this pattern for several reasons. Not in any order – they are; [i] I really like Janet Pray’s Craftsy Classes. She shows you really practical and efficient ways of doing something you thought you were doing well for years [and were wrong] and [ii] I really wanted to move away from my usual style of jacket and stretch my skills a little. This jacket is a little out of my comfort zone for style and incorporates details I have never tackled before. A definite challenge and one I couldn’t resist.

With the aid of  a previous class I have made three of these jackets below with the help of Janet’s ‘Sew Better,  Sew Faster’ course and I learned a great deal, so I’m glad I took that class. Janet has a clear and simple way of explaining and debunks many sewing myths we previously accepted without question.

Island systems 004

001ice cream lady 006

So how did I fare with this latest course? I won’t say that it was without some problems. Mainly of my own making. Mostly with buying the zips.  The Motor City jacket has 7 zips. Four zipped pockets, a zip on each sleeve and an asymmetrical zip up the front. I originally bought all open ended zips and had to get the proper ones for the pockets as the open ended zips are generally too heavy and clunky to fit small pockets and unnecessary anyway.

Despite having worked through one of Janet’s classes before and eventually getting my head round her order of working to sew the previous jackets, I still had to get used to it again this time which tells me that I didn’t adapt fully to this method to use at other times. Most of us are used to sewing a garment in the designated way the pattern dictates but Janet introduces as many industrial methods of working into a home sewing environment as possible which means sewing in an order you may not be used to but speeds up the process. The sewing is divided into sections which follow a logical order and all the sewing is done in that section before pressing. I must admit that is the hardest part for me, I am so used to pressing as I go – an inefficient way of doing things, but ingrained. I must admit it is far smoother to do things Janet’s way.

This pattern is well drafted and the only difficult part for you to do is trace off the pattern accurately [rather like Burda, but less confusing] and add all the markings to your pieces. After that it is a piece of cake and it all goes together like clockwork. The instructions are clear [not like Burda] and the video and the booklet really leave no room for error.


I have finished my jacket. I made it in a charcoal fine needlecord and put in a black ‘silky’ lining, probably some form of man-made but quite soft and fine and used black zips. I had toyed with the idea of coloured zips but my natural conservatism [small ‘c’] won out.  I am very happy with the finished garment and have already worn it a couple of times. #3 daughter tells me I mustn’t wear it with a skirt only trousers, so I have dutifully worn it with trousers so far, but it does feel a bit ‘biker-chick’, definitely not something I am comfortable with,  so I shall be wearing it with skirts more often than not I expect. But I am most happy that I now have the confidence to tackle projects that at one time I would have avoided and my standards have gone up a notch. Thanks Janet.

Posted in coats and jackets, dressmaking, FIBRE CRAFTS, handmade, Life a Work In Progress, me-made wardrobe, Sewing, Works in Progress | 4 Comments



On Saturday I took my four youngest grandchildren [3,9,11 & 14] over to Reading to visit with Harriet, another grand-daughter who is married and very crafty [I could say handy, but her home is 19 miles away – boom! boom!]. She had done this project with a young home schooled lad she helps with his  crafts;


Aren’t they  awesome? We thought so and immediately thought we would like to do some too. The white shoes and sharpies were duly bought and Harriet kindly set her Saturday aside to help us do these;


Caleb [14] is into grown up simplicity and just wanted to do ‘elements’. I didn’t want to show my ignorance and ask. But I really loved his shoes nevertheless.


Jacob [11] is a fan of Five Nights At Freddie’s. I’ve never seen the cartoon, but have been assured these are faithful renditions of the characters. Anyhoo, my ignorance aside, I thought they were great and very well drawn.



Carrie [just 9 this week] is obviously a fan of ‘Frozen’ and designed hers with her favourite characters and snowflakes. She was rightly very proud of hers and I thought they were beautiful and envy-worthy to those of her friends who also love Frozen, who will probably be green when they see these!!


Phoebe [3 nearly 4] had a lovely brave effort at flowers on her shoes, surprisingly us all, and then decided she would far rather colour the inside of her shoes. They were her shoes and her call, so that was fine.



The problem we had to bear in mind with all this is that Sharpies will do bleed on white canvas shoes, so pretty soon in we learned that we had to halt just short of the line where we wanted to be.

Oh yes, and I had a go too. Here are my efforts [I’m not giving my age];

!9 april 2015 018 !9 april 2015 022

!9 april 2015 020 !9 april 2015 019

 On a completely different note, I have always defended my chickens against those that say they have no brains. My girls have personality and are very intelligent I’ll say. That is, until I saw this earlier this week. I don’t know if this picture is clear, but all three girls tucked themselves into a tight corner of one of the empty veggie patches to have a dust bath. Now there are several of these empty veggies patches, they could easily have had one each, but they wriggled and squiggled for quite some time, taking some time pushing each other out of the spot, ending up on top of one another. They finally compromised into this;

!9 april 2015 010

I have dug this patch over and weeded since this photo but they seem to have returned to sanity now and have shown no interest in the newly dug patch.

Finally a few optimistic photos of things to come.

!9 april 2015 013 Apples and pears!

!9 april 2015 012

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I apologise for the radio silence. This has been due to two things; I have been very busy Craftsy-ing and have signed up for several more classes – drinking in all the help I can get, also for a few days I have had another post all drafted and just waiting for my BH [better half] to take some photos of me actually wearing the outfits I have completed that haven’t yet been blogged about, but life has entered a bit of a conspiracy on that second one but hopefully I will have something to show soon, hence the title of this post.

I have to admit to going a bit overboard with signing up for yet more classes, but these are all so good. I have the excellent Pam Howard on Modern Jacket Techniques and Jacket Fitting Techniques[two separate classes]. I have another brilliant Janet Pray on [would you believe?] The Motor City Express Jacket, which is a biker jacket complete with 7 zips! Now there is going outside your comfort zone. But I can’t wait to get the pattern [which comes with the course and is sent from the US] and get started. Of course, I will need more fabric – that goes without saying, but meanwhile I am trying to make some sort of order with the fabric mountain   stash I already own. Lastly, but by no means leastly on the sewing front, I have Kenneth D. King’s Pocket Construction class which is so clearly and superbly given.

These four classes will give continuing excellent guidance for all sorts of sewing skills and applications, not just for jackets and pockets. They give you an insight to the excellent standards that professionals adhere to. Sewing can be a bit like driving, the longer at it probably the more bad habits you acquire. These Craftsy courses for me are a bit like an Advance Driving course.

As if all that wasn’t enough, Craftsy had a 50% sale! So I also bought a Beyond the Basics [weaving] OK-ish but nothing really that new to me, but enjoyable, also ‘The Weekend Duffle Bag’ which looks fun to make. So there you have it, the Confessions of a Craftsyholic. Still sewing behind the scenes!

Posted in dressmaking, FIBRE CRAFTS, handmade, Life a Work In Progress, me-made wardrobe, Sewing, Works in Progress | 3 Comments