Lounging Pajamas

Because these are no ordinary pjs!  I’ve finally upgraded my sleepwear collection this year, and these are the business.  I chose a couple of Mrs Depew pajama patterns earlier this year, determined that in my 40s I deserved better sleepwear than baggy tees and a couple of self drafted pants.  Last year I made a Kimono Robe, this year I’ve upped my game.

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Mrs Depew 1920s Pajama set 3068

The advent of Independent Pattern Month on The Monthly Stitch galvanised me to finally get cracking on these.   I thought the “New to Me” category would be perfect encouragement!  The pattern is Mrs Depew 3068, a reproduction of a 1920s pattern for a robe, top with either long or short sleeves and ankle length or knee length pants.  It’s one of those patterns you can see made up in fancy silk, trimmed with velvet and worn on the silver screen by a gorgeous platinum blonde.  I’m neither!

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I’d seen an interesting viscose jersey print on Croft Mill Fabric’s site, black with beige, but not all over (no longer in stock, unfortunately).  It looked abstract and I liked it for the pajama top.  The pattern isn’t drafted for stretch fabrics, but as I’m technically a size up from the largest size of the pattern, I figured stretch would be just fine!!  As it turns out, I think it would have worked just fine in a woven.  For the pants and robe I chose a beige viscose, also from Croft Mill.  There was black viscose in the stash that would be used for the bands on the pants and the robe.

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The pants were so quick and easy to make!  They consist of just two pieces, a leg and a band.  Couldn’t be easier.  I’m just not sure where those 20s ladies wore their pj pants, up under their boobs so the crotch depth worked, or with the MC Hammer look…  The crotch depth is – well, let’s just say they look like a baby elephant could fit in! 😀  For the sake of accuracy I’m photographing them as they are, but I feel they’ll have to be altered pretty soon.  I used the overlocker instead of French seams, you only have 1cm seam allowance (3/8 inches).  Although French seams are certainly do-able with just 1cm, I opted for speed!

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1920s Pj construction instructions

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The top was quick too, instructions for making are brief – think Burda on a major diet!  But there is a diagram to go with the minimal instructions and it’s numbered with corresponding notches on the pattern pieces, so it’s not all that tricky.  I left off the band at the bottom, the top was going to be long enough on me without it.  The neck band was interfaced with some of Gill Arnold’s knit interfacing to give it a bit of body and stability, as were the cuffs.  I decided to make the long sleeved version to go with the long pants as I’m intending these to be worn in the winter.  There is a small section of shirring at the shoulder instead of any darts.

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Mrs Depew 3068 Details

On to the robe.  Again, only three main pieces – front, back, and sleeves (in two lengths).  The borders were cut in the black viscose and seamed together in one long length before attaching them to the robe.  It pays to stitch a guideline on the inside to iron under the raw edge so that topstitching from the right side catches all the insides nice and neatly.  Also, although the instructions say nothing (naturally) don’t stitch the mitred corners from the edge of the fabric, start 1cm in so you can turn the corner properly!  The sleeve cuffs are double folded rectangles inserted into the armhole.

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I really like this pajama set and will happily make another!  The viscose feels lovely and luxurious, and I’m sure it will feel cool even in the late summer.  I just don’t want to think of what it will look like after one sleep!   It’ll be like napping in linen… And I’m definitely going to alter that crotch depth issue with the pants.  *edit*  I’m not changing the crotch length any more, they’re so damn comfy to sleep in!!!

 

**UPDATE**

My fabulous pajamas have been shortlisted in the “New to Me” category of IPM2017 on The Monthly Stitch!  Woohoo!! 🙂  To vote for me (if you’d like) – and two other brilliant projects, follow this link.

 

Butter Mellow, Sunflower Yellow

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It’s Independent Pattern Month again!  I have given the whole thing a miss for a couple of years, but decided I’d like to enter again this year.  The fact that IPM2017 is in July instead of June really helped!  The first week’s category is dresses, and I had just the one!  Usually I’d make something for the girls, but neither of them are around at the moment, making fitting and photos a trifle tricky.  I could have chosen my good friend who has had me-mades in the past, but she really doesn’t like being photographed and I didn’t want to make her feel uncomfortable, just to get a free dress!!  So I asked another friend if she’d be interested – the answer! “Oh God, yeah!!”

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I wanted to make the Itch to Stitch Anza Dress, which I had a pretty good feeling she’d like, and I was right!  We chatted fabric choices while I took her measurements and then I went home to trawl the interwebs to find what she wanted.  I sent a few links with something along the lines of what we’d discussed, and then threw in a curveball, a graduated, ombre viscose with geometric pattern – the reply was instant! “That one!”

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Based on her measurements I traced the size 2 with D cup, grading out to the 4 at the waist, moving on t the 6 over the hip.  I’d printed off the A0 version of the PDF, it’s so well laid out!  There aren’t any pattern pieces overlapping onto different sheets and minimal wasted space.  The PDF is layered so you could just print the size(s) you needed.  Using an old sheet for the toile, it went together really well.

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The Anza Dress toile in a fetching pink sheeting

 

I followed all the instructions and used all the pieces, checking the pattern instructions as well as the fit this time round.  I’ve never used an Itch to Stitch pattern before, and now I’m quite tempted to try another.  The instructions are spot on, enough info if you need it, and clear enough to skim through and move on.  The toile fitted just fine, I like patterns with cup sizes, no need for FBA!  The dress is described as knee length – my friend is on the petite side but liked the hem length as it was, below the knee.  So I didn’t shorten the skirt part and thankfully there were no other adjustments required.

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The fabric is a viscose from Fabric Godmother, that is more like a voile, it’s a very lightweight viscose!  I had already decided when I saw it online that it had to be cut with the gold at the hem, graduating white through grey and into the solid black for the bodice.  The overlocker came in very handy for the construction, as did my daylight lamp…  Sewing black on black is a killer on the eyes as you get (a little) older!  The fabric was more challenging to work with than the old sheet had been!  Perseverance and patience were the name of the game, neither qualities I have in abundance.

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Ombre Border Print Viscose from Fabric Godmother
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Anza Dress, pocket and hem details
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Bodice details & vintage buttons

The dress itself took me two days to make, that’s including resetting the pockets about 4 times, and eventually recutting one front because I’d stuck the seam ripper through the fabric while taking off the pocket – again!!!  It was so wiggly!  Anyway, it’s all worked out fine in the end and I’m really chuffed with it!  My friend bought the fabric, the elastic and black bias binding I used for the drawstring came from the stash, as did the vintage faceted buttons.  They’d been sent to me by another friend who lives in the States.

 

 

We took the photos after work, (she’s a florist) and she’s informed me she’s not taking it off.  Her partner will have to take her out tonight, she has a lovely new dress to wear!  I think I might like to make another in linen, or a nice cotton, but I will steer clear of  viscose voile for this pattern, and never make one in silk…

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UPDATE!!

My dress has been shortlisted on The Monthly Stitch in the top 14 dresses, so the voting starts now!  Follow this link to cast your vote, and see who else is in the running with more fabulous dresses!

EXTRA UPDATE

Thanks to everyone who voted for my friend’s lovely new dress, I was one of the 8 winners of the dresses category and will be donating my prize of 3 Victory Patterns to the Makers for Grenfell fundraiser, run by Portia Lawrie.

 

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!

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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.

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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.

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Warabi Kimono Top in green floral silk. I love it!
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Fabulous full sleeves
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https://wordpress.com/post/bellemegan.wordpress.com/3374 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!
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I love that she’s happy wearing it with shorts in a very casual way, and not just keeping it “for good”.

 

Life in Colour

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Koh Sok National Park – Thailand

Daughter No 1 has been sending home the most amazing pictures of her travels, currently touring Thailand.  These photos are making me want to go there myself!  The sea is the most beautiful colour and everything seems to be so much more vibrant than here in the UK.  I thought I’d show you another of the items I made for her travelling wardrobe.   Daughter No 1 had chosen this Vogue pattern V9008 last year at the NEC.  We (I) never got round to making the pattern up for the summer, it just wasn’t that sort of summer here in the UK.  So when it came time to decide what she was going to pack in her rucksack, she remembered this shorts pattern.  She liked the pale blue colour of the envelope, but not the pleated style.

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Image from Vogue Patterns. V9008

We bought some pale blue cotton poplin from Croft Mill Fabrics to make view C.  There was only one problem she had with the style, no pockets!  It was easy to quickly draw a pattern for some in-seam pockets.  I toiled the 8, in according to the measurements.  I knew there would be adjustments, I almost always have to fiddle around with the waist and sometimes need to make a swayback adjustment for her.

I found some African printed fabric in the stash that I’d been given and knew I’d never use for anything else and made the toile.  Wouldn’t you believe it, she loved the fabric so much she wanted me to fix the toile up and finish it off properly so she could pack it too!  Someone else did that to me a couple of years ago…

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The toile that wasn’t

As suspected, the sides needed to come in, dramatically, and I needed to take the back in more.  I enlarged the dart in the back to make it 1cm and narrowed the back yoke to make it fit better.  The side seams needed to come in enough to effectively make it a size 4!  The pattern’s smallest size was a 6.  The length was perfect.  Daughter No 1 wanted clothes that would be comfortable as well as suitable for wandering around towns and cities.  As you can see, the toile is now a complete, wearable pair of shorts with a zip and button from the stash.

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Vogue shorts in blue cotton poplin

Adding the pockets was easy and definitely made a difference.  I don’t know why no pockets were included in this design. Where’s a girl suposed to put her phone, nevermind her hands??

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I love how these fit now.

I had also bought some floral cotton from Clothspot to make the short version for purely beach wear but she decided she had enough shorts by then so although I’d already started them, I stopped to work on other things, like that silk dress!  The unfinished foral shorts have languished on my cutting table for the last few weeks, waiting for me to just finish them off and move on.  February over at the Monthly Stitch is UFO month.  Perfect motivation!

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This is how far the shorts got before being abandoned. Only the hem and waistband to go!
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Finished floral shorts! Something awaiting the return of the wanderer.

Back to sewing! That stash isn’t going to “bust” itself….

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Ready – Drape Top & Paisley Print Gabriola

Ready for Summer!
Ready for Summer!

Round 2 of The Monthly Stitch Indie Pattern Month competition is in full swing, this week it’s separates.  I had considered all sorts of things for this one, but as I’d started cutting a Gabriola for Daughter No1 before my operation (and got no further) I decided I’d finish that and whip up a suitable top.  She loves the Maria Denmark Day to Night Drape Top and as her sister appropriated the other grey jersey version I made, it made perfect sense to sew up another.

This is the first Gabriola I’ve made for Daughter No1, I got her to try on Daughter No2’s Winter Gabriola for size, and it nearly fell straight off!  Ok – size 0 with adjustments then…  I made the smallest size and then took in an extra 3cm from the waist, grading down to just past the hips.  The Sewaholic patterns are drafted with more hip ease, but it was not needed here. Other adjustments were to shorten the waistband – naturally, but I think that next time I’ll make it narrower too.  You’ll see in the collage that although I made the waist considerably smaller, the skirt still sits below her natural waist, causing drag marks at the back.  I might even draft a shaped waistband, it may fit better.  I also needed to shorten the skirt.  I took out 12cm in the length and I think it’s perfect, long enough to be a proper maxi, but not so long that it’ll drag in the dirt.

separates collageThe fabric she’d chosen is cotton lawn with a “hippy” print, a muted colourway with paisleys and half moon shapes.  It was bought from Stitch Fabrics at the NEC earlier this year, with the specific intention of making a Gabriola.  I love the colours and print, it’s going to look great with a number of tops from her wardrobe and has that washed out, faded summer look.  It’ll also soften with washing and I think it’s going to be well worn this season!

DSC00020-1As far as the Drape Top goes, I just cut the pattern exactly as I’d done before as I’ve made a fair few versions of this pattern now.  The fabric is a dark grey jersey from my stash – never ending jersey!  I never use the elastic on the armholes, it just doesn’t work with my sewing machine!  As it is, the application around the neck is about as much as the poor old thing can handle.  Now I thought I’d try an FBA this time around, but on checking the instructions for doing on on the website the measurements weren’t different enough.  But when I look at the garment I’m sure it needs one.  Daughter No 1 is happy with it though, the drag lines don’t bother her at all.

Maria Denmark Day to Night Drape Top and Sewaholic Gabriola
Maria Denmark Day to Night Drape Top and Sewaholic Gabriola

So there you have it, a bit of a stashbust and a quick sew, that’s my entry for the Separates category.

Up next is a bit of fun with a super stretchy viscose jersey, it took all my patience!!

A Rooibos Dress in African Print

Rooibos dress from Colette Patterns
Rooibos dress from Colette Patterns

My idea of slow sewing certainly didn’t include stopping sewing altogether, but during the last two months, that’s exactly what happened!  I will  get back to the self drafted trousers etc, but in the meantime, I have been able to sew again, and this is the first project I’ve finished!  I definitely wanted to enter The Monthly Stitch’s Indie Pattern Month again this year, so that was part of the motivation.  Also, I was getting really bored of not sewing.

DSC09973-1You’d have thought while I was unable to sew that I’d be mindful of what I was doing online, but instead of living vicariously through everyone else’s sewing, all I wanted was to join in.  So if you can’t sew, you shop, right??  I have added to my pattern stash, and the fabric stash is a fair bit bigger too.  Ooops!

The first piece I bought was intended for this project.  I had the Colette Patterns Rooibos dress pattern from last year, but had never managed to find something to make it in  Not to mention that at the time daughter No2 had more than enough dresses in her wardrobe.  Still does if the truth be told.  But this was a match made in heaven.  I chose an African wax print cotton from Fabric Godmother.  I had thought of a Shweshwe fabric, but had already fallen in love.

Rooibos toile
Rooibos toile

Following many online disappointments and rants about the drafting of the patterns, I got a toile ready, with trepedation!  Colette Patterns are supposed to be drafted for “curvy” shapes, but the measurements on the envelope (once I’d converted them to metric) were pretty close to daughter no2’s, except for the hip which was one size up, as always.  I cut the 2, grading to the 4 from waist to hip in case she needed it. The shape of the skirt though showed I didn’t need that step, so I reverted to the 2 throughout.

Hmm, not exactly lining up!
Hmm, not exactly lining up!

I did have a couple of issues with the drafting.  The front midriff piece was too long to fit the front bodice, but only on that joining seam – the skirt pieces fitted the bottom seam of the midriff perfectly… You can see the little folded away bit in this photo of the toile. So I cut the centre front accordingly.

Pleated out section in front midriff piece
Pleated out section in front midriff piece
Extended back darts
Extended back darts

The other blip was the length of the back darts.  They are wide and very short, resulting in “back boobs”!!!  So not a good look.  I lengthened the darts to 7cm so they finished just below the shoulder blades, and the fit was greatly improved.  After trying on the toile, daughter no 2 decided the length as it was was perfect for her, which meant adding 3cm to the bottom so I could actually turn up a hem.  And that was all I needed to do to the pattern!  Thank goodness, because I had read many posts of despair from sewists using various Colette Patterns.

Completed toile.
Completed toile.

DSC09970-1The fabric was a breeze to use, I’d tossed it into the washing machine as soon as postie had delivered it, ironed it and waited for the opportune moment to get cutting.  Which means I waited for daughter no 2 to pin the pattern to the fabric – under my supervision – and manhandled my rotary cutter (left-handed) around all the pieces, trying not to cut into the pattern, and not go all wobbly.  It worked out pretty well.  The facings are interfaced with Gill Arnold’s fine sheer polyester fusible, the hem edge covered with a lovely chocolate brown seam tape and the seams finished with a simple zigzag.  I was not ready to shift heavy sewing machinery around in order to use the overlocker, and sometimes I think the humble zigzag gets overlooked in favour of its more glamourous cousins.

DSC09972-1I really like the way the dress turned out.  We eschewed piping and contrast pieces because the fabric was so beautifully printed and busy.  No attempt was made to pattern match, I really wouldn’t have liked to have tried!!  Now all we need is suitable summer dress weather so it can be worn, and not left languishing in the back of the wardrobe.

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This then, is my entry for the Monthly Stitch’s Indie Pattern Month 2015 Dresses Contest, which runs this week.

***UPDATE***

This dress has been chosen by the judges as one of the 15 shortlisted for your vote!!  pop over to the page showcasing all the other wonderful entries and pick your favourites.  You have 3 votes & I’d be very greatfull if you liked my dress enough to include it in your top three.  There are some fabulous dresses entered, so good luck in choosing just 3 to vote for!

ps, I have to add a bit here, kudos to all left handed sewists out there, during my enforced time as a left handed sewing machinery operator I have found it really cumbersome.  Everything is set up for the right handed of us.  Well done people, hats off to you!!

Sewing Cake – or something you want, but don’t need.

The Monthly Stitch has an amnesty running this month for those of us who wanted to join in with a challenge, but either ran out of time or steam!  August is a rubbish month for me to sew in, it’s summer, school holidays, we go away for a bit & the other half takes time off to relax too.  I got some things done, but not the “Sewing Cake” challenge.  Now as I read it, “cake” in the sewing world is the stuff you don’t necessarily need in your wardrobe, but is is most certaily the pretty stuff you want! Scratch that, that definition belongs to frosting!  Trust me to get it all wrong!  🙂  Just goes to show there’s always something new to learn.  So, cake is normal stuff, everyday sewing, and the stuff you want but don’t need is the frosting.  What have I made then, cake or frosting? 

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On re-reading the “blurb” for August’s challenge I realise I can make whatever I like, as long as proper cake is involved somewhere, either as a print on the item, or as something to eat!  I’m off then to make something cake-y & will photograph Daughter No2 with it just as soon as she’s home from school later.  In the mean time, I think we need a new definition, cake is fancy, yummy & not somehting you should be sewing (eating) everyday!  Or is the every-day sewing stuff really bread?

birthday TMSI’d bought 1.5m of pale blue cotton chino twill from Croft Mill Fabric last year, with the intention of making a pair of trousers.  Needless to say that didn’t happen, then we got the Papercut Bellatrix pattern and all thoughts of trousers went out of the window.  Daughter No2 has 5 of these already, so did she really need another?  No.  But she wanted one!  Therefore, this Bellatrix Blazer is most definitely cake!  It’s also the first Bellatrix I’ve made since the Paris print one where I haven’t had to squish in the pattern pieces.

Bellatrix Blazer - CAKE!
Bellatrix Blazer

I lined the jacket with some blue floral print cotton lawn I’d bought from the Remnants House in Bude whilst on holiday last year.  I’d grabbed it, then afterwards decided the print was too busy for me, so it languished in the stash.  I tried to sell it to someone who’d love it more, but that failed.  When the decision was taken to get on with the Bellatrix, I knew what the lining would be!  Of course there is loads left over, but one of my students kindly agreed to take it off my hands to make a skirt.  The sleeves were going to be lined with white haboutai, but when I went digging in the linings box I couldn’t for the life of me find it!  oops..  Instead I used a bit of lilac lining left over from goodness knows what.  It works really well with the pale blue & the print of the lining.  Job well done, I’ve used all stash materials!

Floral cotton lawn for the lining & pocket bags
Floral cotton lawn for the lining & pocket bags

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Once cut out and interfaced this jacket is quick to go together, after making 5 already, I should hope it would!  I do think that this one needs some closure though.  At the moment Daughter No2 is too busy wearing it for me to add something to it, but I did get some interesting closures for an edge-to-edge finish from John Lewis a while ago, so perhaps I’ll be adding those.  All in all a successful project and one I could get done quickly to get me back into the swing of things.

DSC09631-1Daughter No1 pinned a black lace skirt to her Pinterest board for me to look at, found here.  Would you know, I have black lace (albeit without a scalloped edge) from Kat from the Stash Swap last year, and black satin in the silks box, so I really should be getting on with that.  She also wants the Day to Night top from Maria Denmark so I need to check the jersey stash to see if I have the right stuff.  I’m determined to make decent inroads into the stash, but there’s so much loverly new fabric coming into the shops right now…  I must resist.

Don’t forget the By Hand London pattern giveaway – you have until Friday midnight GMT to add your creative reasons as to why you should win either the Anna or Elisalex pattern.

I’ll leave you with Daughter No2’s model pose…

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