Catching up

Blue skies and palm trees are my view at the moment

Greetings from the Southern Hemisphere!  I had so wanted to be able to show you the Named Pulmu Skirt finished in all its glory just after the toile post, but I’m afraid things happened and it’s languishing at home while I’m 10 000 miles away.  The black crepe looks fabulous and the skirt shell is complete, but I totally ran out of time to make the lining and finish off.  One more day would have done it!

Holiday packing included my little Bernina

I had a week in Cornwall at the end of September, where the weather forecast wasn’t all that favourable.  So I decided to take my sewing machine and a couple of projects to while away the time when it was too miserable to stand on beaches or roam through pretty gardens.  The dining room of the holiday flat became my dedicated sewing room and I actually did make some progress.  The weather wasn’t as bad as the weatherman had made out.

My sewing room for the week in Cornwall
Pulmu skirt shell complete, awaiting lining and finishing off

One thing I did manage to finish, finally – was Daughter No2’s crochet granny square sampler blanket.  I must have spent around 10 hours sewing in all the ends on the back, mind numbing work, but made easier in the end by a pretty view and a few glasses of wine.  It’s only a year late, but she’s forgiven me and the blanket has pride of place on her bed at Uni.

A real labour of love, the finished granny square sampler blanket

In the meantime, and before I even started the Pulmu toile, I made another pair of Birkin Flared jeans – for me, of course!  This brings my total to 4.

I was pretty impressed with my seam matching this time, no ripping out!

The fabric was a lightweight denim with 2%stretch from Croft Mill Fabric.  It’s a beautiful dark indigo and is fantastic to wear. I didn’t bother fighting with topstitch thread (again) and stuck with the navy blue ordinary thread.  I found a cute button in the stash and voila, a new pair of jeans for me.

The button is far more olive green, but it’s proved impossible to get the colour right.

They’ve been so comfortable, I wore them for 21 hours on a long haul flight from the UK to South Africa and didn’t bat an eyelid.  They kept their shape, I didn’t have a saggy butt or baggy knees and, most of all, they didn’t dig in for all that time sitting in an uncomfortable aeroplane seat.  Where do you find this fabulous fabric?  It’s called “Formality” and can be found, in low stock now, at Croft Mill Fabrics.

First wear!

The pocket linings were cut from one of Husband’s shirts.  He managed to shrink a couple in the wash so the sleeves are now way too short.  I held onto the shirts thinking the fabric would come in handy somewhere (it’s not only lengths of fabric that I hoard).  So my pocket bags are pink and stripey!

Jazzy pockets!

So these jeans are with me down south and I’m loving them in my travelling wardrobe.  I just hope I don’t wear them out before heading back to the big cold, because it would be a shame not to be able to take full advantge of them throughout the winter in the UK.

Birkin Flared Jeans in Cornwall (note the photobomber behind me)

I made this pair slightly longer than my others, not such a good idea when wearing with flat shoes (and in the mud) but perfect for boots when I get back to colder weather.


We all had a fabulous time in the sun and on the beautiful Cornish beaches. I’m always sad to say goodbye.

But three days after getting back from Cornwall I was on a plane and heading south.  I’m with my parents while my mum recovers from a double hip replacement, so there’s precious little sewing going on, although the withdrawl symptoms are great!  I was just getting ready to start sewing for autumn and winter, and now my summer wardrobe is having a second outing to the South!

In the end only one piece for mum, the rest is mine!🙂

I have made a fabric purchase while I’m here (and I honestly cannot say it will be the last, sorry pledge!!).  I was looking for fabric for tops for my mum when I found stuff that just wouldn’t let me pass without purchasing.  But, it will all be used for winter clothes the minute I get back, if not before!

So I leave you with a little bit of South Africa, and hope I’ll be able to do a little sewing very soon!

Elephants at Inkenkwezi


Impulse Buy

We all do it, something catches our attention and suddenly the basket has been filled and the “pay now” button pressed. Usually I’m a little cautions when it comes to buying PDF patterns, unless they’re from Thread Theory, then I just buy them.  It’s a guy thing, no-one else has patterns anything like theirs so I get them for making for the other half.  One day.

The slip this time came when I followed a link to the new Named Clothing collection.  I’ve admired their asthetic for a while, but never taken the plunge.  This time however, my finger slipped onto the “add to basket” button and I’d checked out before I could think!  So what made me part with my cash?  The Pulmu Pencil Skirt!

Pulmu High Waisted Pencil Skirt. (image from Named Clothing)

I fell for the high waist, the seams from what would be a dart on the front and back down to a point at the side, the deep vents, the belt…  Seriously, I’m not sure if there’s anything I didn’t like about it!  So my first ever Named pattern was bought and sent off to my private printer to print the copy shop version asap!  The PDF is layered, you need only print the size(s) you need.  I got the other half to print the whole lot, I don’t want to be printing off different ones each time I want a different size!  Also helps if the person you’re making for is not one standard size.

I’m intending to make this pattern for three different people, and possibly more than one each, if they’ll let me!  Starting with one for Daughter No1, who’s working now and requiring smart clothing.  From her measurements, I decided to trace the UK 6 which looked like it might be a little baggy at the hip.  The first toile was run up in some yellow linen from the stash.  Yes, it was a little baggy over the hip, and actually a bit loose around the waist.  It was also far too long!!  I knew this would be an issue, just needed to know how much.

First Pulmu toile.

Named Clothing patterns are designed for those of a certain stature, tall!  That’s one thing Daughter No1 is not.  At 1.62m, she’s about 10m shorter than the ideal person Named design for.  I chose to shorten the skirt at the hip and above the knee to avoid distorting the shape of the side seams.  I managed to eliminate 8cm from the length without messing around too much with the shaping of the seams and still having good proportions.  The hip line was smoothed out and the high waist reduced by 0.7cm on each seam which gives a much better fit.  The second toile looks great but I was concerned that it was still a bit too long.  Daughter No1 however, loves this length, so who am I to change it??  So now the pattern has been adjusted and is ready for the final fabric.

Second Pulmu toile.

I chose a black crepe (polyester) from Croft Mill Fabric, and got round my self imposed fabric buying ban by getting Daughter No1 to buy it!  As it’s for her, I didn’t see why not!  The fabric should arrive any day now and I can’t wait to get it started.  This is going to be one fabulous skirt!


Summer Dreams

Summer time is for pretty dresses.  Neither of my girls require any new dresses, this year or the next.  So what’s a frustrated fabricaholic to do?!  Sew for someone else, of course!  I decided I’d use up a bit more stash making a summer dress for my best friend.  I also used stash fabric for the toile, hoping it would work out pretty well and be a wearable toile.

The Cami Dress from Pauline Alice

We decided the perfect dress was Pauline Alices’s Cami Dress.  I had the perfect summer fabric, bought from Croft Mill Fabrics last year, or maybe even the one before….  According to measurements, I needed the 38.  My friend has broad shoulders, so I knew there would be an adjustment needed there, I just needed to know how much.

The toile, in a pretty floral cotton print.

The toile was made in a pretty floral printed cotton sent to me by another friend in America.  This is the same friend who sent me the Paris print and the grey plaid from the previous post!  She has a good nose for finding pretty fabrics.  The toile fitted pretty well , the shoulders needed to be 1.5cm wider, the sleeves needed a couple of centimetres in width and the waist needed to be one or two cm wider, for wearing ease.  I also needed to make the skirt longer, by 5cm.

The adjustments were quick and easy to make.  But, as I knew it would happen, my friend loved the fabric and wanted me to see if the toile could be made to fit better.  I changed what I could and added a false hem.  I also finished off the seams on the inside, neatening where ever I could reach.  I picked out some simple dark grey buttons from the button box to complete the garment.

The toile, at fitting stage.

This is a lovely dress to make, it goes together nice & quickly.  The instructions are clear and concise, pattern pieces are on a good quality paper which is easy to tape down and trace from.  The only thing I would (and did) change, is to apply the collar before sewing the side seams.  It’s always much easier to sew a collar on with the garment flat, ie no side seams!

Sewing the collar on before closing the side seams.

Best bit about the dress?  The pockets!  Best friend was chuffed to bits to find two decent sized pockets in the side seams.  She chose the buttons, after digging through all the blue/green/grey options, best friend found these little pink satin covered buttons.  Perfect!!

The cherry blossom print on this cotton is just perfect for the dress.

The dress has recieved loads of compliments already, and I’m really happy to have made her something she loves and feels happy in.


Sewing Sleepwear

Burdastyle pyjama top and self drafted shorts

Sleepwear is not something I make special plans to sew.  In fact, the last time sleepwear or PJs were made was for Karen’s Pyjama Party back in 2013!  The last theme on the Sewalongs and Sewing Contests Facebook Group was sleepwear.  To enter you had to make at least 6 items, not necessarily for one person.  You’ve already seen the kimono I made, so here are the rest of the items.  I used all fabrics from the sash, including trims and buttons.


Starting with a pair of pyjamas for Daughter No2.  The fabric is a very cute Paris print cotton sent to me by a friend in the States.  She chose a pattern for the top from the December 2014 Burdastyle magazine, number 133.  It’s a short sleeve top with a deep pleat in the centre back to create a swing back shape.  There are 3 patch pockets on front.  I used the overlocker for making the pjs, it needed to be a fairly quick make.

Pyjama details

I had hoped to make the cropped trousers from the same magazine, but there wasn’t enough fabric.  Instead I drafted a pair of shorts with elasticated waist and shaped hem.  Hopefully I will come across some plain blue or possibly lime green fabric to use for the pj trousers later on.  Daughter no2 loves the finished pjs, and thinks the top can be made for day wear too…

Sleep masks, just because…

I even made a couple of sleep masks!  The shape and size was just guessed at.  The outside of daughter no2’s mask is cut with the little Parisian cafe tables featuring nicely.  It’s padded with a bit of left over polar fleece and lined with blue stripe cotton from one of the other half’s shirts!  I dug out the cute turquoise circle print bias binding for the edges and cut more of the stripe cotton on the bias for the casing for the elastic.  I made one for me too!  The front is the same fabric as used for the kimono, padded with more of the polar fleece and lined with the same stripe cotton shirting as daughter no2’s mask.  I found some pre-cut strips of chartreuse satin lining to use for binding the edges.  It looks great against the blue.

The best part of the print was used for the sleep mask. She can drift off dreaming of eating pastries on a Parisian pavement.

Next on the cards was a new gown for Daughter No1.  She feels the cold easily and usually spends winter days layered in numerous jumpers, socks and a blanket or two – inside and with the heating on!  Shopping the stash again, we chose a grey brushed flannel plaid.  It’s lovely and snuggly!  I used a Burda pattern, 2661, that I’ve had for ages!

Burda in cotton flannel

Making the 16 (it’s a kid’s pattern) we made the full lengthgown with shawl collar.  Daughter No1 is petite but she wanted the gown to almost be floor length, so I didn’t shorten it.  She recons it’s better to get wrapped up in that way.  How I managed to get all the plaid lined up is still a miracle! The piece of fabric must have been about 4m long, but narrow.  So the pattern pieces needed to be paid one below the other on a very long piece of floor.  Which I don’t have.  It made for interesting cutting out!  The overlocker was used for this project, no faffing around with seperately stitching the seams and treating the raw edges.


Her favourite parts?  The deep patch pockets that hold her mobile phone and a few snacks with ease.  The shawl collar can be turned up to wrap around the neck and keep the chill out.  This is going to be so very well used this coming winter!

Long and warm!

So that’s pjs all done for a little while.  I’ve got a couple of dresses to show off, but am still awaiting photos.  With the weather changing now and becoming a little more autumnal, I think the wait for photos of summer dresses might be a long one.  I might just have to use the few photos I took before delivering the dresses to their new owners.

Sewing Friends are the Best

All friends are good, great even.  But sewing friends, those who know exactly what you (don’t) need to add to your stash of fabric or patterns, or even notions – those are the best of friends.  You don’t even have to know those sewing friends IRL.  That’s just how good they are!

This next make comes courtesy of a sewing friend in America.  We’ve never met, but a chance enounter in Blogland has lead to this, an exchange of fabrics, patterns and ideas.  Del from Curls and Skirls has the opposite dilemma to mine.  She loves prints and patterns and has relatively few plain, solid colours of fabric with which to fill her handmade wardrobe.  I, on the other hand, live in solids (with the execption of some stripes or spots).  My idea of colour blocking is to have one colour on the bottom half and a contrasting one on the top!

So, I said we have the same problem, we should swap!  She agreed and what followed was a very good dig through our collective stashes to find the right fabrics.  You know, the ones you’re prepared to give away, no matter how long you’ve had them, what you originally intended them for etc.  I chose some beautiful linens that I just haven’t got round to using that were the right weight and colour and a couple of cottons.  One piece of linen was possibly not the right shade for Del, but then I’d bought it to dye anyway, not liking the colour, but having fallen for the fabric itself.  I also added a couple of metres of South African Shweshwe print in the most decilious pumpkin orange.

The tricky thing when swapping, is finding the right sorts of things to swap.  My colours run to blues and greys while Del prefers brighter tones.  But I think I had enough stuff in the postbag when I finally sent it!

What I got in return was pretty nice, I can tell you!  Although there weren’t as many items in Del’s stash that would suit me personally, I knew I could use some stuff for the girls.  They can wear anything and any colour and look great!  So, quite a few weeks late in the showing, here’s what Del kindly sent my way.

Goodies from Del

I’d fallen heavily for the blue and white cotton lawn immediately, so it was MINE!  The red and white print viscose crepe and the plain red viscose I will use for the girls, the cream linen with orange floral print will be a vintage style dress for my best friend and the “nautical” print hasn’t been allocated a pattern just yet, but I’m thinking of PJs….  I’ll make the Papercut Patterns Pnuma Tank for the girls for their work-out gear.  So, I have a print (or two) in my stash pile that isn’t a stripe or spot!

I couldn’t wait to make something from the blue stuff, so in between making little girl’s clothes for a friend, I used a pattern I’d been sent a couple of years ago to test, the Kyoto Kimono from Elise Patterns.  I’d used the short version in the testing for Daughter No2 but decided on the long, robe version for me.  I couldn’t find a link to the pattern anywhere online, so I’m not sure if it’s even still available.

Elise Patterns Kyoto Kimono

Any issues I had with the pattern are down to it’s being in test mode, so I cannot really review the pattern as I’d like to.  I had a PDF A4 version which needed to be unfolded and retaped where it had come apart after being in storage for 2 years.  I traced the extra large…  The pieces are wide! I’d forgotten how wide they were and was worried that it wouldn’t fit the fabric, but I just made it!  Originally I thought I’d go with the longer sleeves, but there wasn’t enough fabric.

Elise Patterns Kyoto Kimono Robe

I used the overlocker to run the robe up, so much quicker than fiddling with French seams!  I made sure the pattern was lined up on the side seams, the rows all line up, but any further pattern matching was impossible due to the size of the pieces and restriction of width.  I made the robe in an afternoon, it really is quick.



The short cuffs finish off the sleeves nicely.

So now I have a fabulous new robe for lounging in, just need lounging pants and top to go with it! Or new pjs.  That may mean buying more fabric, and as we all know, that’s off the cards until the new year.  So I’ll sit tight with this one unless I find something buried in the stash.  This is my first make in the new wardrobe challenge on the Sew Alongs and Contests Facebook group.  We’re to make at least 6 items of sleepwear related goodies.  I do have other items planned, not all for me but I have a very special make to finish first.


So Del, what do you think? Have I done the fabric justice?  Thanks so much for swapping with me, it’s been great to have different fabrics to pat! 🙂

Floral Silk Warabi Kimono

It’s been a while, helloo there!!  Well, I did say back in January that blogging would be sporadic!  The silence since coming back from my holiday is basically due to me sewing loads and loads of stuff, and showing nothing of it here for you guys, but annoying all my Instagram followers with loads of pics of baby and little girl’s clothes!  There will be a write-up soon, but first wanted to show off one of the few adult’s garments I’ve made this month.

While I was away I got an email from Kat, one of the founders of The Monthly Stitch.  If you’ve been following along with Indie Pattern Month this year you will have noticed that there has been an “extra”.  In order to raise money for charities and to take The Monthly Stitch to a new level, three bundles consisting of various patterns have been put together for sale.  I was offered the chance to pick a bundle and make one or more patterns from the bundle in order to promote the concept.  As I was away at the time, I went with the last one, entitled Getaway.

As you could probably guess from the title, this bundle has patterns for holidays.  The pattern chosen to start is the Warabi Kimono top from Waffle Patterns.  I had actually bought this pattern last year and toiled it for myself, but my shape really didn’t do it any justice.  I decided my best friend could do with a new top and started digging in the stash for suitable fabric.  I had to shop the stash as there is this little pledge not to buy anything until Christmas time!

warabi kimono toile
Warabi Kimono Toile on the dress form

I rediscovered 5m of gorgeous silk that was liberated from a local charity shop a few years back for a ridiculously low price.  The colour is perfect for my friend’s colouring and the lightness of the fabric suits the pattern really well.  I toiled the 38, which fitted straight off the bat, the pattern needed to be lengthened by 3cm because my friend is quite tall and is long waisted.

Collage warabi tunic
Details. French seams inside and double turned hems.

French seams were used throughout, the only finish if you’re going with a lightweight silk, and double turned all the hems.  I loved making this pattern, the instructions couldn’t be clearer, Yuki also supplies detailed illustrations so there’s no getting confused.  I have used Waffle Patterns before, with superb results.

I used the copy shop version, I have a huge aversion to cutting and taping millions of A4 pieces of paper together and will now avoid buying a PDF pattern if that option is not included.  What I like about this one is that the pattern pieces all fit nicely onto one A0.  Nice and cheap.  The instructions booklet is also not pages and pages long.  It’s informative, has everything you need and doesn’t have 8 pages showing you how to lay out the pattern pieces.

Warabi Kimono Top in green floral silk. I love it!
Fabulous full sleeves
P1150169 The back has a higher “v” and central back seam.

Pictures are on the dress form only for now, my friend has yet to see her present, but I know she’ll love it!  The green of the silk looks fantastic with jeans, so this will be the perfect “dress it up” top.  If you like what you see, visit The Monthly Stitch‘s page to see the other patterns in the bundles and spread the sewing love.  I will have another pattern to show you in a couple of days, also from the Getaway bundle, also a gift!

The Kimono was finally delivered today & I’ve managed to get a couple of photos. My friend is very camera shy so these were taken on the sly!

I love that she’s happy wearing it with shorts in a very casual way, and not just keeping it “for good”.


Fabric Shopping on Holiday

And a pledge…

Three weeks in South Africa, all over now until the next time.  I just hope it’s not another 5 years!  Now fabric shopping on holiday sounds like a fabulous thing to do, buy up all those pretty things you can’t get at home and grab those things that are cheaper elsewhere because of a decent exchange rate.  I really wanted to go with a fairly empty suitcase, to take full advantage of my situation, but I’d made so many lovely things for my Sew Seasonal Wardrobe that were begging to be allowed into the suitcase that I ended up with just 3 kg to spare!  Oops.

No matter, some stuff taken was to be distributed, so I thought I’d do my bit to help the local economy.  Now I must add that Mr Not-Compulsive tried very hard not to let me within 5km of a fabric store, but in the end he relented.  I was directed to a store/factory shop in Roodeport called Chamdor.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a large fabric store!  It was a warehouse!  Thankfully half was soft-furnishing fabric and half the dressmaking fabric was stuff I wasn’t interested in. There was a lot of fleece (going into winter), lycra and poly-blends.

Trims of all descriptions and so many zips!
The central aisle has end to end cutting tables, lined with anything you could want for your sewing project. Fabric stores with shopping trolleys – yes please!!

I saw a girl who was guarding a couple of rolls of border printed viscose & after asking nicely where she’d found them, proceeded to empty the shelves!  There were so many lovely colours and patterns, it was going to be a struggle to decide which couldn’t be left behind.  The price was R56/m, which I worked out to being about £2.25/m.  Man – how could I leave anything behind at that price!?!?

The viscose I couldn’t leave benhid, I bought 3m of each, just to make sure I had enough!

Then I found the button stands and the trim and the zips and the threads and sewing machine accessories….  £55 later I emerged triumphant, two bags in my hands and a husband who kept saying, “I don’t know where you’re going to put all this.”

The Three cats logo of Da Gama Textiles Shweshwe

And then I was good, oh so good.  I avoided all other fabric temptations until we got to the Eastern Cape.  Da Gama Textiles is based in that province and they are the sole manufacturer of authentic Shweshwe fabric.  I was going to have some to bring home, come hell or high water.  The factory shop is located outside of East London and boy was there a lot to choose from!  Original indigo sat side by side with teal and turquoise, greens, reds, pinks, oranges and browns.  This was going to be harder than I thought!


In the end I bought a deep turquoise piece for a dress for Daughter No2, an orange circle print for Del and a striking red design that reminds me of Mid-Century Modern prints for a friend in Chicago.

Shweshwe fabric from Da Gama Textiles
This gorgeous blue will be a dress of some sort for daughter no 2

Now some of you know exactly what I have here, and others wondering what on earth Shweshwe is.  I could go into a huge explanation, but there are many sites you can find the information on, Meerkat Shweshwe sell many different ranges online and have a history of the origins of the cloth, Da Gama obviously have their background in the industry, and African Fabric have good information, as well as a huge range of coloured and original indigo Shweshwe for sale online.

The 3 cats on the reverse of all authentic shweshwe. Beware of copies!

While we were at Da Gama Textiles, we did a bit of bin diving.  Da Gama print more than just Shweshwe.  There are big fabric bins in the factory shop full of test prints, seconds etc that you buy by the kilogram.  We had a little hunt for different pieces of mostly soft furnishing fabrics, and came out with a good selection of bits and pieces that I’ll use to make cushion covers, table runners and other goodies for the summer table outside.  And that was it!  Once we’d distributed all the gifts we’d taken to all our friends and family, there was plenty of room for the fabric purchases.  And 40 vintage patterns….

And now we come to the crunch.  I really don’t need to buy any more fabric this year.  No, seriously, I don’t.  So I made a pledge, and told Mr Not-Compulsive, so I have to stick with it.

Fabric pledge
No more fabric shopping this year!!

Now I have a fabric diet to stick to and things to make…