Monday, 28 February 2011


Party like a Rock Star

guitar shirt sleeve
Hands up if you're adorable.

Last week I spent about 92 hours grading the 3T/4T and 5Y/6Y sizes properly before taking a deep breath and cutting into a woven.

guitar shirt arms

I knew that this pattern worked fine for knits, but getting your measurements right for a woven is a lot more of a precise science when you can't stretch to fit.

guitar shirt peak

I only had one yard of this fabric so to fit all of the pieces in I had to eliminate hem allowances and bind the sleeve and hem edges. I love the way it looks. Incidently, this green linen has become The Perfect Colour Match Fabric.

guitar shirt neck

For the neck binding I used a strip of the guitar fabric for extra Pop.

guitar shirt velcro

Go ahead and buy some stock in Velcro, because it seems I'm addicted to making these placket shirts.

guitar shirt full

I think if I used a heavier weight fabric and lined it, this would make a pretty swell spring jacket. Yay or nay?

Saturday, 26 February 2011


Here, Kitty Kitty

hello kitty skirt

Last week, one of my favourite people to fabric swap with (Natalie from Soph4Soph) posted pics on FB of some boy cut briefs she made her daughter with Hello Kitty fabric. When I mentioned that Maia would swoon for them, she promptly posted me two different knits and I duly sent some geeky fabrics her way. What I didn't know though, that she included a fab Hello Kitty twirly circle skirt for Maia!

hello kitty twirl

Maia practically had an apoplexy over it. I made the one of the knits into a Go-To shirt and because Nat and I share a supplier I was even able to perfectly match the collar and cuffs to the waistband of the skirt (which is, incidently an ace design and I wish I'd thought of it first).

hello kitty shirt

Do you remember last week when you were in High School and you liked a band / show / actor before anyone else and then when they finally made it big and everyone else liked them and you'd get all indignant and furious because you were the Original Super Fan and they were just pretenders? Yeah. There might be quite a few three and four year olds gnashing their teeth over Maia's Hello Kitty ensemble and constant Hello Kitty chat, because the girl does not even know that there is anything beyond the merchandise.

Incidentally, Soph4Soph is running a comp on her blog that closes at 6PM tonight (Sat 26 Feb). Skedaddle over quicksharp for a change to win a gift certificate.

Thursday, 24 February 2011


My pre-emptive attempt at becoming Reviewer Extraordinaire

I've never posted a review on here before because no one ever offers me anything I want I have heaps of integrity and lots of money anyway. But I'm feeling left out of this review-laden blog world and rather that sit back and wait for the products and experiences to (inevitably) flood in, I'm going to do a review I wasn't even asked to do. You have to make your own opportunities, people.

So yesterday I went to my new dentist:

  • Good magazine selection in waiting room.
  • Tact: New dentist did not even mention my over-zealous attempts the night before my appointment to pimp my teeth and trick him into thinking I floss all the time.
  • Skill: As I hadn't been to the dentist in *cough* three years *cough*, I had one meta-tooth connected by tarter. (Well, two teeth. One on the top and one on the bottom.) Using mad dentistry skillz he successfully separated the meta-teeth into their constituent teeth.
  • Waiting room was the temperature of Hades.
  • Lack of chat: Previous dentist was like long-lost best friend. It was initially creepy when he seemed to remember in minute detail what we discussed at last dental appointment. Turned out he made notes on your file. New dentist was not interested in discussing holidays or becoming best friend.
  • No freebies: Was not offered new toothbrush or sensitive person toothpaste. Previous dentist, as best friend, hooked me up with products.
  • Dental hygienist keep getting my tongue stuck in suction pipe.
  • Zeal: technically this is a Pro (see 'Skill' above) but the separating of my teeth and the evisceration of my gums made me resemble:

Unintended bonus:
  • I have no issues with my teeth that require further work. Steven, however, found out at his appointment that he has two cavities. Me= Moral High Ground. Steven= Dental Cash Cow.
On balance, New Dentist was not as likely to become my friend in real life as Previous Dentist. However, he was way less menacing than First Dentist, who once dropped a (mid-drilling) drill onto my lip and on another occassion almost shot my dad while hunting. Therefore, middling on a personal level. Professionally, seems to know his stuff.

If you are a medical practitioner in Edinburgh who is interested in having your services reviewed, please contact me. As a family, we have a lot of experience with the medical profession and have had no less than four doctor, three nurse and four dental appointments in the last month alone! I will provide a balanced review and a relevant True Blood picture to illustrate your service. Examples of my work:

This is me giving a blood sample.

This is me having my smear.

Disclaimer: Obviously I received no compensation for this review. Yet. But if I've blogged about it it's a valid business expense, right?

Tuesday, 22 February 2011


The Sheer Injustice Shirt

rainbow shirt placket

And now I remember why I don't make Jamie things very much: because Maia goes bat-sh*t crazy with righteous indignation. 'WHAT ABOUT ME?!' she wails, 'WHERE IS MY NEW SHIRT?!' Indeed, it is a very injust world when only 96% of things are for you.

rainbow shirt sitting

But there we go then. A new shirt was duly made and the cosmic balance was restored. I stash-busted again with this rainbow french terry I've been hoarding. The placket is emerald green twill, again with velcro closures, and the same used as binding. As you can see, there are (store-bought) rainbow trousers to complete the ensemble.

rainbow shirt kiss

Altogether, she is nonchalant at best but probably closer to the wrong side of louche.

rainbow shirt cheeky

Monday, 21 February 2011


The Android Shirt

android shirt placket

It's been ever-so-long since I made Jamie something to wear. Almost six months to be exact*. I've been watching posts mount up in my reader for Celebrate the Boy month, and I decided there was no better time than now to get cracking on celebrating my boy.

android shirt full

The shirt is made from white looped back terry with a stand collar and a placket made from space invader fabric. It was my first attempt drafting this pattern so I wanted to test it with a very stable knit as, ultimately, I'd like to make this shirt with wovens.

android shirt velcro

I didn't want buttons to interfere with the print of the space invaders, so I closed the placket with two sets of velcro.

android shirt collar

The collar is trimmed all the way around, making it slightly more funnel-necked than it would have been otherwise.

android shirt back

But I wanted a bit of the party in the back. I blame Ottobre.

Saturday, 19 February 2011


On Beauty, on Truth. And my own shallowness.

When you post pictures of yourself you can pick and choose what to share. You filter out ones where you don't look good, you crop out bits that unflatter, you adjust the brightness / contrast to restore yourself to humanity, you make glib comments about your appearance to preempt anyone actually thinking those things for themselves, and to give people permission to laugh about you because, hey- you're doing it yourself!

Does that change when you're posting pictures of other people? My treatment of posting pictures of the kids over the last couple of years has been much the same: filter out the ones that don't flatter them, adjust brightness / contrast, crop out some debris I didn't want shown. Not to hide anything, but to show the pictures and the kids (and myself by extension) in their best light. I didn't feel guilty. It's what we all do.

And then something changed. When I first noticed Maia's eye turning in, I thought it was an aberration and the pictures that highlighted it were filtered out as 'not-flattering'. I used pictures where she was looking down, or away from the camera. But as the months have passed, it's become clear that she has a lazy eye and it's obvious in more and more pictures. And still: I use pictures where she is looking down, or away from the camera.

I've been struggling with feelings of shame each time I post pictures of her because it's come to the point that rather than just enhancing my pictures, I've been hiding something. I've lost my integrity.

She is the same beautiful girl, she has nothing to be ashamed of. But how can she know that if (even unconsciously) I've been denying this is part of who she is right now? I know I have a lot of thinking to do about this and hopefully treatment will be a success, but it's going to be a long road and I need to do better.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011


The Morning After The Night Before Dress

Disclaimer: For the good of your well-being please ignore recent haircut. Groupon's fault. Puffy face? Friend Sarah's fault.

I stayed up much too late the night before my Belfast trip making a dress to celebrate my emancipation. Not that the dress itself was especially time or labour-intensive, but with the packing and list-making and the last-minute texting to Friend Sarah, the final touches to the dress fell too late to be sensible for a 5:45 AM start.

Disclaimer: For the good of your well-being, please ignore paunchiness. Extreme measures obviously required.

This was a knit that I picked up when I was out fabric shopping with the fabulous Emmy. She made me promise that I would not be-cowl every single fabric I purchased so I searched her promise for fine print and decided that I could use my cowl pattern without punitive measures if I changed the neckline to a normal one. Emmy, this is not a cowl. True fact.

The fabric is a lot less stable and a lot more slinky than the others I've made from this pattern so I cut it quite a bit bigger. Good: not clingy. Bad: Too capacious all around. I really wanted to make a long tie along the neckline that could left hanging or tied in a bow, but the power and intellect required to do so escaped me at that late hour. Does anyone know how to transition from a neck band to a tie as far as the seams go?

Tuesday, 15 February 2011


Belfast: The City of Broken Dreams

Pretending to sight-see

There was coffee, there was shopping, there was cider, there was food, there was an open fire, there was champagne, there was a shower without bystanders discussing my body, there was sleep, there were chick flicks. There were no children.

Not pictured: person with bad haircut

With hindsight, we did these things in the wrong order. Shopping first. I bought 14 pairs of tights from glorious Primark. I did not get a pair of feety PJs because Ruth and Sarah are no fun whatsoever. Let me repeat that: I did not buy the feety PJs I've been obsessing about for at least 15 months. Ruth is a very dignified person and as such I did not give her the hard sell. Friend Sarah, however, was teetering on the edge of feety PJ heaven. If only the shopping was preceded by this:

Friend Sarah does occasionally have good ideas, and Aspalls would fall in that category. Alas, had we partook and then shopped we would have spent the weekend in cow and tiger suits. The human brain cannot even cope with how euphoric this situation would have been. Instead:

I jest, obviously. Of course Sarah is still allowed in Belfast, and if not granted the keys to the city she at the very least deserves the keys to the Tayto Factory.

The weekend away: already a long distant memory.

Monday, 14 February 2011


Ah, Valentines. The perfect opportunity to get my husband in his pants.

Every year I am distinctly unimpressed with the Valentine's cards in the shops, none of them really express how I feel. So I thought this year I should make Steven a personalised one. I mean, who doesn't love a handmade card? Steven, probably:

After my disastrous misreading of my Groupon hair cut voucher last week, I think it's important to have transparent small print. But I did write 'just kidding' on the inside.

I was feeling a little bit bad about such an insouciant card, so I made him some boxers too. And I felt even meaner when he offered to model them for my blog without me even asking.

I didn't have a pattern, I just cut up one of his old pairs and drafted on that. To make them super comfy, they are french seamed throughout. I am unfeasibly proud of myself for working out the fly. Cooler fabric awaits (space invaders anyone?), but I wanted to make sure these fit first. Those of you who sew for men, let's discuss how gigantic they are. As Steven is slender, I was convinced that these gigantic pants would swamp him but they totally don't. Hmm.

Friday, 11 February 2011


Warning: Not Suitable for Work. Unless you work in Belfast, then it *might* be.

F That detail

Friend Sarah and I are off to Belfast tomorrow to visit the jointly-cherished Ruth. I have it on good authority that it's rude to visit a friend's new house without bringing a house-warming gift. Especially if the house is no longer new because you have been remiss in visiting. For two years. Better late than never, right? But what to bring...

F That censored

I was first pointed in the direction of a slightly vulgar wall hanging by Millie, and I came so close to buying the one she has that says 'Feck It, Sure It's Grand' in the style of Keep Calm and Carry On. I wavered though, because that's just not Ruth. But what is? This:

F That full

Oh, how I laughed and laughed and laughed the first time I heard her say this. When googling it's entymology, apparently it's a Belfast thing. Have you ever heard a better phrase? Here's a tip from me to you: If you're having such a bad week that having a smear was one of the highlights, do something like this. I stayed up late on Wednesday, printing it over and over in different fonts. The only disappointment was that Steven never asked what they were for, because I was going to tell him I was going leafleting. Unfortunately, I can't have such joys in my house with an (almost) literate son. I told him it said, 'Welcome to Our House'.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011


The Redemptive Cover

kindle book full

Although I am generally considered to be a master of subtlety, there was little doubt that I was unhappy with my first Kindle cover. It made one solo journey to The World Outside My House (much like myself) and although I was not openly ostracised I'm pretty sure it's responsible for my lacklustre social life. Who wants to hang out with a Kindle Cover like that? No one.

kindle book detail

But Kindle is taking a field-trip with me this weekend to whole 'nother country* and I feared the locals would not take kindly to the old cover. I'm not sure how open-minded they are about such things. It was safer to make a better cover.

kindle book pocket

The lovely Kym asked me recently if I could make a cover like a book for a Kindle. It turns out I can, with a bit of thought and some rough treatment of my scissors. Here is a helpful visual of what it's like to read a book:

kindle book action

Yes, I realise that it might initially assault your eyeballs that the Kindle pocket is on the left. But..... look:

kindle book tilted

Beyond the fact I screwed up (which is also true), being on the left means it tilts the way I want when reading in bed and I can keep everything huddled under the duvet except my poking finger and my head. It tilts because I created three channels for thick board to slip into so it has a spine, just like a book.

kindle book spine

The elastic holding the hard covers closed should keep the precious cargo safe even in the carry-on bag of doom.

*It may or may not be a whole 'nother country. Depends on how parochial you are feeling at the time. Without kids, and with Friend Sarah, I'm feeling heaps parochial.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011


The Cherry Terry bubble tunic

bubble tunic close

Another misfit knit has made the journey from fabric closet to garment. This one is a Juicy Couture lycra terry with a cherry print. It's 110% too saccharine for my tastes. The girl, however, has no problems what-so-ever with bubblegum pink.

bubble tunic front

To tone down the OMGPink I trimmed the neckline and cuffs with an emerald green ribbing that comes ever so close to matching the green in the stems.

bubble tunic skirt

Using the Go-To shirt as a block, I dropped the waist and added a bubble skirt.

bubble tunic side

Ready to take on the world*.

*Speaking of taking on the world, would anyone be interested in taking over the running of my life? Special consideration given to applicants who speak computer and / or are willing to fight with people.

Sunday, 6 February 2011


Where I display astonishing ineptitude and indecision

I've made no secret of the fact I hate my current website with the heat of a thousand suns. In fact, I've found maintaining and updating it so stressful that I set all my stock to zero a year ago and promptly ignored it. I sell my patterns through Etsy, my sewn goods by word of mouth and my sales through the blog and Facebook. But I've kept my site up, for 6 billion pounds a year, because I don't want to lose my email address. Crazy, no?

Now, three days before my site expires I am in major-flailing mode. I don't want to pay 6 billion pounds a year for a defunct site. Neither do I want to lose my email addresses. But, I have Top Secret developments that require a rather snazzy website. Alas, website-building-aptitude remains at sub-par. Sub, sub-par. As we speak, I am either pulling my hair out in clumps or foaming at the mouth.

Home page

All weekend I've been trying out different sites / interfaces / shops / packages / black magic voodoo solutions to my conundrum and the screenshots above and below are what I'm leaning towards.

About page

It's a WIX site-builder, but the e-commerce option has the most convoluted work-arounds ever so I fear I'm going to have to host the shop elsewhere. I'm leaning towards Big Cartel for the shop, but I can't test my ability to make a good looking shop without pre-paying six million pounds.

Contact page

At last count, I'm going to be paying someone for hosting (as Wix don't host), paying Wix to redirect it to, paying Big Cartel to host a shop (which can't be because Wix will have it), and paying an email hosting company to keep my email addresses. I make the grand total to be 8 million pounds and four different things I need to remember.

Please, please, pretty please, OH DEAR GOD HELP ME:
  • Are the above pages lovely enough to justify a Wix front-site (redirecting to sales site)? Or should I just bypass Wix and have a shopfront at with Big Cartel?
  • Big Cartel: Thumbs up, thumbs down? Is it really pretty or is that not possible for mere mortals who speak in English and not HTML?
  • Do you know of magic super-secret website builders? Do not say because I will laugh in your face. If truly super-secret (which would make me happy x infinity), email me. I won't tell anyone except Friend Sarah.
  • Best methods of suicide that would still enable your dependants to receive life insurance payments?
Thanks in anticipation. Off to chew the carpets like Hitler*.

*Not an euphemism. True fact.