Just the last knockings left to do

This was the last bit of gap that I had to fill in, when I started this evening.

Just a teeny tiny bit left to cover in buttons

Just a teeny tiny bit left to cover in buttons

It didn’t take long.

And now it’s the last bits & bobs to do, lining, hooks & bars, that kind of thing. But before I do that, I need to make a frock…

Ongoing project

I’m bringing my costume making skills into play on my next project.

Pinterest is very good at making you see what your obsessions are. It turns out that I love a bit of button embellishment. As soon as I saw this pin, I knew I was going to have a go at it. Mine would be different of course- no-one likes an out-and-out copycat.

I bought a shedload of buttons on Ebay, in shades of black, grey & white, and last night, I made a start.

Buttons! Buttons! Buttons!

Buttons! Buttons! Buttons!

I’ve got the base made & covered, and I’ve started sewing some buttons on. I don’t know how long this one will take. I’m not even sure whether I’ll have the right number of buttons, or whether I’ll need to order a stack more. I’m trying to take photos as I go along, so that I can do a proper process post, but I may lose patience!

This make is definitely reminding me of my Pink Confetti dance costume which I made a couple of years ago.


And yes, I did put my name in big diamanté letters on my hip belt, so that my name is splashed right across my backside! I still love this costume, because the confetti beading is so rich and textured. I’m hoping that my Button Belt will have the same vibe. Though I’m kind of sad that it won’t have my name all over it… I’m also a tiny bit sad that I don’t have a stash of buttons all ready to use, like my grandmother’s button jar or my mother’s button jar. One day, one day…

Massive Fangirl Squee!

I went to the Thread Festival at Farnham Maltings today. The top highlight of the day was definitely meeting the lovely Tilly Walnes of Tilly and the Buttons fame. She was doing a talk about how she wrote Love at First Stitch, which was *really* interesting. Not that I ever have any intention of writing any sort of book, but it was fascinating to hear how it all came together.

Love at First Stitch

Love at First Stitch

I’ll confess, I’ve read Tilly’s blog for as long as I’ve been reading sewing blogs, but it had not prepared me for how jolly *nice* Tilly is. I am now officially smitten.

I had not anticipated buying the book, I don’t know why it hadn’t occurred to me before today, that there would be copies there for sale, but there you go, the thought hadn’t even flitted through my head. But as soon as I saw it, of course I was going to buy it. Why would I not? It’s a beautiful, not to mention useful, thing, and I spent the next half hour after Tilly’s talk, in the café poring through it and trying to work out what I want to make from it first, and surreptitiously sniffing that lovely new book smell. I’m definitely up for a Delphine skirt, and possibly a Megan dress. It’s a very inspiring book.

And look, it’s autographed and everything!



The other cool thing was chatting with one of the ladies from Gather, about how I really would like to buy their Mortmain dress pattern, if it weren’t for the fact that I’d have to do such a massive grading on it, and how they’re aware that there *is* a market for larger sized patterns. I know it’s so much more difficult/expensive for the independents to do the grading for larger sizes, but it’s nice to know that they are thinking about it.

I was also fascinated by the ladies from the Guild of Silk Painters. I could have watched them for hours!

Hand printed fabric swap – the other side

I posted about the fabric I sent to Louise, a couple of days ago. I’m very happy to post now the fabric I received from her.



Louise took her inspiration from some genuine fifties fabric, and only flipping HAND-DREW all those flowers! They’re beautifully even and I swear you’d never think they were done by hand if you didn’t know they were.

Thank you again, Louise, for a beautiful piece of fabric, and for the additional extra treats!

The truly hand printed daisy lawn fabric

The story so far… You may recall a little while back I took part in Marilla Walker’s Hand Printed Fabric Swap. I was paired with Louise of Elsie May and Bertha. I had decided to go with my idea of a daisy lawn print.

Now read on…

I started by making the stamps. I drew my ideas onto craft foam (man, that stuff stinks!) and cut out the shapes. I used tiny embroidery scissors, because I wanted to be able to get a good curve and sharp angles, to differentiate the petals. I stuck the stamps onto blocks of wood offcuts, generously provided by the Gentleman Friend. We did end up having something of a “creative dialogue” as to whether my daisies are technically daisies or not, given that in real life daisy petals are long and pointed, whereas mine are wide and rounded. I won this argument by virtue of the fact that I’m not doing *actual* daisies, they’re more stylised/conceptual daisies, and in any case, it’s my project and I can call them daisies if I want to, so nyer!

Lots of different floral stamps

Lots of different floral stamps

Once I had the stamps made, I had to do some test runs. I used about 25cm of my fabric length to try various print blocks and colours, and see how much paint I’d need, and so on. Well, you saw the try-outs, I’d picked a green that was too dark. My bad, I hadn’t really thought that through when I’d clicked the “buy” button, live and learn. But I didn’t want to waste more money and time (I was working to a deadline!)  trying to buy more fabric, so I figured I just *had* to make it work.

One of the try-outs, which I tried after taking the disaster photo, was a smaller flower shape, in the white. The smaller shape printed reasonably well in the white, so I tried adding a little yellow centre to it, to see if the white behind it would make it pop. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting it to “pop”, I would have been happy with a slightly damp “pfft”, but it turned out OK, and I decided that would be the one. I abandoned my lovely ladybird idea and decided it was just the lawn.

In view of the fact that I have very little working space in my flat and the fact that I had two colours to work with, I had to do my printing over several sessions, spanning the whole of the August bank holiday weekend. The first thing was to print the white flowers. I decided I wanted the flowers to be approximately 10cm apart, and eyeballed it. The lawn is therefore not entirely geometrically even! I had worked out that it was easiest to apply the paint to the stamp rather than trying to dip the stamp in paint- the paint is too thick and the stamp is not thick enough for that to be useful. I started using a paintbrush to cover the stamp, but it soon became clear it was easier to use my finger, I could get a much more even coverage. I did one set of white flower stamps which was about 70cms of my metre, in one sitting on Friday evening, left it out to dry and did the second set on the Saturday. I did a smidge more than the requisite one metre, because I was on a roll.

The white petals

The white petals a-drying

On the Monday, I did the yellow centres. I just finger-painted them on (this project has been very much like being in primary school!). So this fabric really is “hand-printed”. Again, I had to do it in two goes, and I gave it plenty of drying time between them, because the yellow paint wasn’t “soaking” into the fabric like the white one, it was resting on top of the layer of white paint.

The petals with the yellow centres

The petals with the yellow centres

Gratuitous close-up of the daisies

Gratuitous close-up of the daisies

Once the yellow paint was dry, I ironed the heck out of it, to set the paint.

Then I washed it again, to check that it was all ok. Because if it wasn’t, I had a load more printing to do, and not much time to do it. That was a real heart-in-mouth moment! But hooray, all was well- it survived the washing machine and the hot tumble dryer, without ill effect, so I could safely send it out in time for the 2nd September deadline. Though, as it turned out, Louise and I agreed a time extension, so it’s only now that it’s ok to post about this fabric. Gosh, it does seem like a long time since I did it!

Given that this was my first ever attempt, my hand printed fabric turned out way better than I expected. Although, that isn’t saying much – I had very low expectations! It wasn’t perfect, far from it. But I like what I created and I hope Louise can find some creative use for it.

It’s been an interesting project, because it was all so new to me. Now I’ve got more of an idea of what I’m doing, I’d like to do more fabric-printing. I’ve got lots of designs (“designs”, she says! They’re just ideas and doodles) I want to print, and more importantly, use. The ladybird will happen one way or another. And the Gentleman Friend has put the idea of cherries into my head. Then there’s a load of seashore prints I’d like to try (maybe in a nautical navy). So it’s a big thank you to Marilla, for making this happen!


P.S. If this has inspired you to think about hand printing fabric yourself, word on the street is that Marilla may be hosting another swap in the not too distant future.

P.P.S. There will shortly be a What I Received post, but this one has been sitting in my Drafts folder for quite some time- and at last I can post it!

One Week, One Pattern 2014 Round Up

Here’s my One Week, One Pattern in collage form.

OWOP collage

One Week, One Pattern? No, make that TWO patterns!

I was actually aiming for (and I consider I succeeded with) Double OWOP, in that my main pledged pattern was the Belcarra Blouse, but I stuck with my McCalls straight skirt pattern for the bottom half, in accordance with my original plan. The two patterns complement each other well. It may not be in keeping with the “style things different ways” element of OWOP, but it is nevertheless all about the “wearing your favourite patterns” element. There was a fair amount of mix’n’match, and I don’t care that I repeated the Dress Of Many Colours, because I love it and there won’t be many more opportunities to wear it this side of Christmas.

Day 1: Cadfael & Cats Belcarra + Counterintuitive Black Birds Skirt
Day 2: The Dress Of Many Colours
Day 3: Watermelon Belcarra + Black Denim Skirt
Day 4: Imperfect Polka Dots Belcarra + Counterintuitive Black Birds Skirt ÷ Total Selfie Fail
Day 5: Cadfael & Cats Belcarra + Black Denim Skirt
Day 6: The What Could Possibly Go Wrong?! Belcarra + You Mean I’m Wearing Orange Skirt
Day 7: The Dress Of Many Colours + Mahoosive Yellow Lily Hairclip

It’s been an interesting week which, much like Me Made May, has very much focussed my attention on how much I do wear my hand-made clothing. I wear me-made quite a lot, but until the Belcarra splurge I didn’t have any tops to go with my skirts. I do feel like I’ve gone some way towards redressing that balance. All four of these blouses will work with various of my skirts, (not just the straight ones!) so I’m happy that the push to make those tops has resulted in a stronger and more unified me-made wardrobe.

The Belcarra pattern has been really useful and it’s definitely become a TNT pattern for me. Although I’m slightly Belcarra’d out right now, I can still see myself making more of these, in the future. It’s a very versatile top, it works with different types of fabric, and as I’ve mentioned before, it can be a good stashbuster, which reduces my fabric storage problems, and it’s good for mixing fabrics and colours, which makes for easy wearing.

What I did notice from this week’s mixing & matching is my need for simple plains & neutrals. The Watermelon top had to go with simple skirts because it’s so gaudily patterned (I’m saying that like it’s a *good* thing, your mileage may vary). The You Mean I’m Wearing Orange?! skirt needs a very plain top, because it’s brightly decorated. Normally my plains & neutrals are provided by my shop-bought clothing, but now I’ve twigged this, I’m going to try to acquire & use more plain and neutral fabrics. I will still try to embellish those makes in some way, but more carefully, and with a consciousness of keeping the wearing options open. That limitation could be a creative spur! Self-coloured embroidery… Appliqué-ing with the same fabric as the garment… Subtlety… No, I don’t believe I can manage that last one, any more than you do!

A million thanks go out to HandmadeJane, who was hosting this challenge, and to Tilly and the Buttons, for creating it in the first place. I’m starting to sound a bit like Nicholas Parsons in Just a Minute now, so I’ll stop digging this particular hole, and just say that it’s been fun!