FO – Littlest Niece’s cloak

I am back from the France portion of my hols.

This is my great grandmother's house. This section of it belongs to Littlest Niece's mother. It is, I'm not kidding, a minute's walk from the beach.

This is my great grandmother’s house. This section of it belongs to Littlest Niece’s mother. It is, I’m not kidding, a minute’s walk from the beach.


Lunch! This is the life!

Tomorrow I shall be onto the Penzance portion of the hols. I’m afraid I did try to persuade the Gentleman Friend to join me in France so that we could have the second week there (instead of Penzance) as I was *loving* it there. But he likes Cornwall, and didn’t want to drag himself across the channel. So today I drove seven hours across France to the Eurotunnel, and then got stuck in a ghastly traffic jam on the M25I – I thought it’d be clear on a Sunday night…

Anyway. I spent my holiday time profitably, finishing the Elsa cloak for Littlest Niece. I’ve left it in the flat (I was borrowing her mum’s flat this week), and they’ll be going out there next weekend, so she’ll have a hopefully nice surprise.

The cloak was made strictly to her specifications. It was made extra long so it would trail on the floor. It is covered in sequin and crystal snowflakes. I tried to make all the snowflakes unique. There are a couple of duplicates of the smaller ones, but on the whole they’re mostly different. I gave myself a headache on a couple of days, trying to do the beading in the sunshine, because the sequins and crystals were so gosh-darn SHINY! This cloak is definitely Well Bling. I’d say I’m pretty much in touch with my inner 5 year old Princess, and if I got presented with this cloak, I would believe it was properly princessy.

I’ve tried to make it as play-proof as I can. I am firmly of the opinion that however much time I may have invested in this garment, it is hers to play in, and I will not get precious about how she chooses to look after it or not. It’s not like I’ve got any control over that anyway!

I’m hoping that her mum will send a photo of a happy LN modelling the cloak, but for now it’s all off body shots (click through for bigger versions):

The back

The back

Some details

Some details


Some more details

It’s quite a relief to have it finished, and it will be even more of a relief when I hear that LN likes it.

The plan for Penzance craftiness is to finish knitting the Blackcurrant Sorbet Hetty cardigan. It has been on the Naughty Step for the last few weeks as I was having trouble with the sleeves. I’m hoping that coming to it fresh will make them come out alright! I may possibly take elements of a sewing project, in case the knitting doesn’t quite go as planned. It depends how optimistic I’m feeling tomorrow when I’m packing!

The Watermelon Belcarra and a quick OWOP update

Yesterday, I sewed my first Sewaholics pattern. And I wore it to work today. And I’ll be taking it on holiday. It’s so cool and easy to wear. That’s partly to do with the pattern which is nice and loose on the body, not clingy, and partly to do with the fabric I used, which is a very loose-woven cotton, almost muslin-ish.

Watermelon Belcarra

Watermelon Belcarra

It’s the Watermelon, just because of the colours.

What can I say about the process? I had to grade up the pattern, of course, but it was pretty straightforward. I also did an FBA, which was pretty easy. While I’m not the archetypal Sewaholic pear-shape at all, with those adjustments the pattern works fine for me.

I didn’t use French seams, despite originally thinking I would, so the seams are just straightforward sew it up & turn the edges under to neaten. The neatening isn’t exactly neat! It’s functional, in that it will prevent the fabric from fraying, but it’s not a thing of beauty. I slip-stitched the neckline binding by hand, rather than machine-stitching it in place, because I wanted a smooth finish. I also sewed the cuffs on as though they were giant bias-binding, rather than using the technique outlined in the pattern. Again, that was hand sewing, rather than machining.

I haven’t done anything to prettify it. It doesn’t need anything extra- it’s got great big hippy flowers all over it, so I don’t know what I could add!

There is one thing I did that was different to how I usually work, I suppose- I cut the fabric out on a different day than I started the sewing. It was because I was cutting out at a time when I knew I wouldn’t have time to start any sewing. And actually it was definitely helpful. It meant that when I was cutting, I didn’t feel an urge to get straight on with the sewing, so I could take my time and do a good job of it. And when it came to the sewing, I had a really good psychological start, because I’d already got the “boring” job of cutting out and marking up out of the way. I’ll definitely have to try that again.

What do I love about this make? It’s so Summery! It’s a quick easy make, I’m definitely going to be making more of these. I also feel more encouraged to try the Renfrew and Cambie patterns.

However… It’s not going to be my OWOP pattern- I’ve decided on the McCalls straight skirt. I can see them as being a bit more versatile for the potentially transitional weather conditions of early September. I’ll be making one more in readiness, maybe two if I find the time/urge. I’ve posted publicly on Handmade Jane’s sign-up post, so there’s no going back. Anyone else thinking about it?

Inspiration at the V&A

Remember this post when I was saying I wanted to go to some of the Victoria & Albert museum exhibitions? Well today I did! I got to spend Saturday evening and today with my bestie and one of the things we’d agreed we both wanted was to go to see the Glamour of Italian Fashion exhibition AND the Wedding Dresses exhibition. We loved them both!!! Though we agreed that the wedding dresses was slightly more our favourite! No photography was permitted, sadly. However, the V&A have a pinterest board for the exhibition, and a Made In Italy board- it’s not all the items, but it’s a reasonable sample.

I’m feeling all inspired and excited!

And I’m looking forward to the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition next Spring.

Savage Beauty – image from the V&A website


This entry was posted on 13 July, 2014. 9 Comments

OWOP ideas

Handmade Jane has been posting about OWOP 2014. For anyone unfamiliar with it, OWOP is One Week One Pattern, where you are committing to wear garments from the same pattern throughout the week of 6th to 12th September. The choice of pattern is up to you.

I reckon I should be able to do it. The only question is- which pattern? I was thinking separates, because they are more flexible and easier to style differently.

In the skirts department, I’ve got two options. I could go with self-drafted circle skirts, of which I have at least 5, though whether they would be work-appropriate and season-appropriate (early September could be very summery, or it could be very autumnal, it’s a gamble) is another issue. Or I could opt for my TNT McCalls 3830 straight skirt, which I’ve used three times already. All three of those skirts look different, but if I do go for this one, I’d probably try and go for a fourth version before OWOP starts, because I’ve got specific plans and fabric in the stash for at least three more.

McCalls 3830

McCalls 3830 Straight Skirt


If I think about tops, then we’re on thinner ice! I gots none. However, I’ve been working today on getting the Belcarra pattern adapted, and *if* this works out, then I fully intend to make a shedload of them.

Sewaholics: Belcarra blouse

Sewaholics: Belcarra blouse

I’ve got the hippy floral from Goldhawk Road cut out, hopefully as a wearable toile, but I’m off to visit my friend in Greenwich and it’s going to be an overnighter and I didn’t want to start sewing and try to get things done in a hurry. So the intention is to get it sewn up tomorrow, when I get back. Then with luck and a following wind I can get a second one done in the week, before I go off on my hols. I’m seeing it as a potential stash-buster pattern. I’ve got at least four versions in my head for this, so I do hope that it works for me!

So I’m not posting my commitment on Jane’s blog yet, pending a decision. If anyone has strong enough views to try and sway me, I’d be very happy for the input.

Shewd Commercial Practice

I cannot tell a lie- I am a big fan of the whole Alabama Chanin style of making garments. I love the idea of slow hand-sewing, I love the hand-stitched decoration, I love that AC are pretty giving with their downloadable stencils and the books giving you the skinny on how to do it yourself. I admit I haven’t quite got round to reading the books yet, or trying to make anything in the AC style, but that doesn’t stop me loving it.

And in today’s bloglovin feed, up pops this post about a new DIY kit they’re selling, to embellish your very own AC tunic.

Image from Alabama Chanin website

Image from Alabama Chanin website

The price- it burned!!! 130 of your fine American dollars. I wondered to myself, how much would it cost to get the t-shirt and do it yourself without the kit. The basic tunic without the embellishment still costs $98 on its own- fair enough, I’ll grant that it’s organic cotton jersey, which isn’t cheap, but it’s not even one of their hand-made garments, it’s machined. You’re paying $32 for the convenience of not having to stencil the t-shirt yourself, plus a bit of thread and beading that can’t cost more than five bucks! And of course for the name…

Alabama Chanin, I thank you for a world of inspiration, and I salute your business savvy!

This entry was posted on 10 July, 2014. 2 Comments

Oh! My! Stars!

I got the BEST Spring Sewing Swap partner EVAH!!!

I always love a swap or a secret santa with online people, because it’s interesting to put together a package of goodies for someone else, and what’s not to love about getting a package of goodies back in turn from someone else? So When Kestrel Makes announced the Spring Sewing Swap 2014, I wasn’t backward in signing up for it. I was paired up with Anne of Pretty Grievances, and it felt like it was a match made in heaven. I’ve always admired her style and wit- if you don’t know about her Wearable Wednesday posts, you totally need to go check them out!

I put together a parcel of stuff for Anne, ummed and ahhed about whether I was reading her style right, whether I had picked the right things to put in it. And like the Queen of the Last Minute that I am, I just about got it in so that she should receive it in time for today’s deadline. I think that between them Royal Mail and USPS got it there in time.

Meanwhile, on the receiving end of the swap, I got the note from Parcelforce that they’d tried to deliver a parcel to me a few days ago, and managed to get to the Post Office to pick it up today- and OH what a complete delight it was to open it, and paw my way through all the Lovely Things that Anne put in. I am now feeling mortified at how mean and paltry my own swap package for her was, because Anne has sent me a TON of amazing stuff!

Lookit all the pretties!!!

Lookit all the pretties!!!

Let’s just have a wander around that little lot for a while. Let me point out the fabulously colourful and floral fabric (Ann knew I can’t resist a floral). And there’s about four metres of the stuff- plenty for a Summer Sundress! I’m not sure what sort of fabric it is, rayon maybe? But it’s beautifully soft and very wearable, and I can’t wait to use it. Plus there’s American candy there wrapped up in the bow, and a dinky little notebook with its own pen, very handy for writing down all my sewing plans.

Pattern Goodies

Pattern Goodies

Then there were three – count ‘em! – patterns. PLUS a Burda Style magazine, which contains some beauties. I’ve got no excuse now for failing to go through the Rite of Passage that is trying to trace off a Burda Style pattern.

Shiny shiny things!

Shiny shiny things!

And I swear Anne emptied the contents of her jewellery drawer into my parcel, because there’s a glorious selection of beads and shiny things for me to play with…


Anne, you are a diamond girl – you read me like a book!

The Blinging commences

It’s coming along…

The neckline of the Elsa c;oak

The neckline of the Elsa cloak

I’ve done edge-beading, with sequins and seed beads, in the hope that it will give the cloak enough weight to be swish-able, but not make it so heavy that it can only fall down. The sequins are a pale iridescent blue, and although I would have preferred cup sequins, because they give a lot more sparkle, I couldn’t find any when I was looking, so I’m using flat ones, that I have to keep taking off the string, which is a mild irritation. One I can live with, as the colour is very pretty.

I’m adding sequin snowflakes, and I’m not even going to attempt to make them at all symmetrical. I’ll do as many as I can stand- I got started on them this evening and at the moment I seem to be quite slow at making them, so it may not be as many as the actual (cartoon) cloak.

And the final addition is AB crystals. Again, I’ll need to be careful about the weight they add to the cloak. They’re quite heavy around the neckline, because that part of the cloak doesn’t need much in the way of movement, but I’ll be adding them, rather more sparsely, onto the body of the cloak. They’re acrylic, so not as heavy as crystal ones, but nevertheless, the hundred-odd that I’ve glued on so far are making a significant difference to the weight of the piece, so I know I’ll need to be careful.

I think I’m going to break my “one project at a time” rule, because if I only work on this, I won’t get anything else done before I go away. So this weekend (subject to the Gentleman Friend having Ideas about what we should be doing) is when I start trying to get the Belcarra blouse pattern to work for me.

This entry was posted on 28 June, 2014. 6 Comments