Sunday 28 February 2010


In the beginning, there was fabric. And it was pretty. So I hoarded.

I didn't tidy my fabric closet for an indecent amount of time and it got to be completely unusable, disorganised and shameful. But now it's all organised and tidy:

But still completely shameful.

This is the coat fabric.

Bottom shelf is fabric I have in larger quantities. Next shelf up is babycord.

Then a shelf of regular printed quilter's cotton in non-insane quantities. Just above that is ribbing, blenders (mostly polkadots) and plain coloured cotton.

Top shelf is plain and printed knitted fabric and straight ahead, french terry and sweatshirt knit.

And finally flannel, boy's fabric, Home Decor weights. And above that velveteen and linen.

I've only shown two people my closet because I am so embarrassed that I have this much fabric. So don't tell anyone.

Saturday 27 February 2010


Retro boom box cowl

After a couple more tweaks, I'm happy enough with the adult cowl pattern now to use proper precious hoarded fabric. I made this one with my retro boom box french terry fabric. Look familiar?

Here's tiny Jamie sporting the very same!

I like the hip length muchly.

The collar was made a bit higher, but rather than self-folded it was lined with black jersey so you can see the contrast when folded down.

But I think I like it more folded up. This isn't the fabric I want to use so much it hurts though, so does anyone have any suggestions before I take a deep breath and cut it?!

Friday 26 February 2010


Umm, Jamie? That was not on the list.

Here is my list of nice ways to start the day:
  1. Anything after 9AM
  2. Being brought tea / toast / the paper (after 9AM)
  3. By the sun shining through the window and birds singing on the window sill
  4. Having neck kissed by anybody (provided after 9AM)
  5. The phone is ringing because they want to tell me I have won the lottery
Place note that being vomitted on, in the dark, is not on the list.

Thursday 25 February 2010


Trinny and Susannah: 1 Me: Nil

Buoyed by your encouragement to wear them high and proud when I lamented the high neck / big bosom dichotomy, I made myself a cowl tunic last night. I didn't fall in love with it immediately, because Good God, just look at that:

But it grew on me, and I'm wearing it today. But you can't make me take my jacket off.

Thinking that I could *cough* reduce their prominence *cough* will some changes to the pattern (namely lowering the neck a bit and widening the body so it's not as tight), onto version two. The neck is better methinks. But the body? Urgh. Too shapeless. I think I will shorten it to hip height to balance it out and I can still wear it as an underlayer.

And if you're wondering where my head has gone, at some point without noticing I turned into Nosferatu. So a good day all round.

NB. One thing that has completely delighted me, however, is that the author of Design-It-Yourself Clothes has officially validated The Cool Girl's Club by commenting on my blog. Seriously. Go look for yourselves.

Wednesday 24 February 2010


Tutorial: Wristwarmers from socks

Looking at my stupid non-functional Raynaud hands yesterday, I was thinking that I needed to make something that I could wear to take the chill off my hands but would still allow me usable fingers. With Raynaud's, I can get the palms of my hands warmer by holding onto hot drinks but the backs of my hands are always freezing and it really does affect my total feeling of coldness. So out came the long socks... and in less than twenty minutes I looked like a total hobo. I asked Steven what he thought and he said, 'It depends, are you going to wear them out of the house?' That's the beauty of these wristwarmers: I can still give him the finger. Take that, mittens.

So here's how:
  • Take your socks out. I'm using over the knee socks so I can pull them right up or slouch them for double thickness on my forearms. Cut them off just below the heel.
  • Then cut them again right above the heel.
  • Then cut them again right below the toe seam.
  • So now you have a long sock with an open end and a smaller tube.
  • Turn the band inside out and slip it over the sock (right sides facing) so the raw edges align at the top. Pin the layers together but leave one inch unpinned on both sides (so 2 inches total). This is where your thumb is going to go. If you have socks that only have a pattern on the top of the leg, well done, they sound cool. But remember that you'll need to make right and left ones so the unpinned bit should be on opposite sides.
  • Sew through the layers with at least a 3/8" seam allowance. Remember to use a stretch stitch (that's the little lightning bolt to those of use lucky enough to have it) or a narrow zigzag because you don't want to lose the stretch of the sock.
  • Remember to leave that two inches open (one inch to front and one inch to back)!
  • At the two inch opening, fold down the raw edges and pin. This is where you'll be grateful for using a large seam allowance earlier.
  • Sew this raw edge down along the length of the thumb hole. This takes a little bit of maneuvering to keep the other fabric out of the way. Remember that stretchy stitch.
  • Repeat the process of folding down the seam allowance and pinning on the other side of your thumb opening and then sew that down.
  • Fold the raw edge of the band back into the cuff and pin. Sew a couple of tacking stitches back and forth on both sides to secure it down. I did it this way because I want an open flap to stick heating pads in. If you don't have chronic-cold-back-of-the-hand-itis, you could probably double fold it under and stitch for a neater finish.
  • You're done. Now go beg for money.

Tuesday 23 February 2010


You are cordially invited to my pity party

This is my daughter on the way to nursery today.

This was my response, in front of other mothers.

This is how I feel because I have a shiny new mysterious near death illness: vertigo.

This is my Facebook fan page, which has now disappeared.

This is my stupid non-functional Raynaud's hand.

This is me in prison because I got a court summons today for not paying a council bill. That I didn't even know about.

Please add your own self-pity to join in the party.

Monday 22 February 2010


I am a gypsy cowgirl

Something very strange must have happened to my body when I was having babies because although I fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes, the tops are all too short. So I did a very quick recon yesterday using a too-short sweater and a too-long gypsy skirt. This is what they looked like in all their unflattering glory:

No, I don't have filthy handprints all over my body, they're on the mirror. Don't worry, I cleaned it. And then I cut the waistband off the skirt, and cut the sweater off under the bust:

Gathered the skirt to fit the top and sewed them together:

I'm channeling my inner- backstage technician, lurking about and changing sets.

There, that's better. Believe it or not, I have this same gypsy skirt in olive green. Is it worth doing again?

Sunday 21 February 2010


Marimekko and Cloud leggings

In my pursuit to finish my leggings pattern I had to make another two pairs, one with a leg cuff and another with a button cuff. The pattern will includes these two options but also the un-banded hemmed leg that the starry leggings had.

These Marimekko ones have a banded cuff and are size 18m/2T. Although Maia is two, she normally wears 3T to accommodate her largess in the booty department, but these still fit her perfectly as the fabric has such a good stretch recovery. The big print actually makes her legs look so spindly that I'm tempted to make myself a pair. To wear to the circus, or a rave.

And these brown clouds leggings have a button cuff. Unlike the first pair I made, these have a massive big button on the band rather than three tiny ones. And they're a 3T/4T so at the moment they are pretty slouchy at the ankle. Thanks to all the people who volunteered for testing, hopefully they'll be ready to go soon!

Saturday 20 February 2010


The Sew-Along Nitty Gritty

I can now officially move the apostrophe from The Cool Girl's Club to The Cool Girls' Club because it's not just me anymore. We have heaps of members. And as a club, we need guidelines. So here's how it works.... A sew-along is basically a bunch of people who are all working on the same project at the same time. I was rather ambitiously thinking that we could work through the book, one pattern at a time, but I guess we'll need to see how the first one goes. Do not be put off by my obsessiveness.

So what do we do?
  • First off, you'll need to get the book. For my UK friends, Amazon have it £10 here. For my American pals, Amazon have it for $16.50 here. Apologies to anyone not from the UK or US, I hope I haven't offended you so much you hate me forever and still find it in your heart (and your Amazon) to join in. If you don't want to buy the book, check out the library to see if they have it or will acquire it for you.
  • I've started a Flickr group for the sew-along here. Please go and join it. Not only will it be a place for us to post our pictures but we can talk amongst ourselves about how cool we are help each other out if anyone gets stuck. I see a future where we worship at the feet of KID-MD, as she is the doyenne of making adult clothes and is mighty helpful.
  • If you have a blog, please take that nifty picture from the top of this post and gently place it in your sidebar with a link. I will love you forever if you blog about joining the sew-along because your readers are cool too and might want to participate. If you don't have a blog, print out that icon at the top, laminate it and wear it on your lapel. And tell everyone you meet about the sew-along so they can join in too. This is a good barometer of whether they are cool and should be your friends.
  • Okay, now we all make a skirt and rock it like nobody's business. And we take pictures (or borrow the ones that the newpapers take thinking we're celebrities) and post them in Flickr. Or email to me if you have an aversion to Flickr. And then we all blog about our skirts, and other people's skirts until skirts become the number one search term on Google. And then we ostracise everybody that didn't join until they cry and want to join the club too and then we let them because we're nice like that and fame hasn't gone to our heads.
So, the big question is the time scale. Let's imagine that everyone takes a week to get their book, and then a week to get measured / familiarise themselves with the book and week to get fabric and notions... How does the 20th of March sound for a completion date? It seems like an awfully long time away for me but I appreciate that other people sleep and perhaps have lives outside sewing. What do you think?

Oh, and can those of you who aren't terrified by my fascism and want to come and play regardless either leave a comment here or send an email to with your relevant details (web addresses etc).

Friday 19 February 2010


Your chance to join the Cool Girl's Club

I'm really excited about some proper big girl sewing books I received this week. But I'm the most excited about this one:

To date, I've only used one commercial pattern to make something for myself and I wasn't altogether happy with the results. I've been put off doing more commercial patterns because I'm a non-standard shape and full-bust adjustments scare the bejesus out of me. But with this book, you take twenty four body measurements, like so:

And with all your measurements, you can draft a pattern specifically for you. In principle it sounds very exciting. Quite technical, but I like technical.

There are fifteen designs included and I think I'm going to start with a skirt. Because not only are these skirts lovely (and they use less measurements) but I'm pretty sure I'm going to look as cute as this model. After I've had my legs broken, lengthened and re-set, dyed my grey hair away, lost six hundred pounds and had a breast reduction.

So anyway... I've been thinkng for a time about organising some sort of group activity through my blog. A swap is out because I can't think of a theme. But does anyone fancy a sew-along?

Thursday 18 February 2010


Tutorial: Pocket keychain

I made another pocket key chain to adorn my keys and thought I would share how to make it. It uses just the teensiest bit of fabric so you can make one with some scraps from another project. And you'll need a snap (I used a sew-on one) or some velcro for the closure. So here we go...
  • Prepare your pattern pieces. Those are inches:
  • Cut out one of each, in both an exterior and lining fabric:
  • Right sides facing, sew the exterior piece to its corresponding lining piece all the way around except for the bottom. Sew close to the edge. Lift your foot and pivot at the corners so they are nice and sharp.
  • Clip your corners:
  • If you're using quilting weight fabric, you should iron on some interfacing to the wrong side of the lining piece where the snap will be sewn onto the tab. Just where this blue square is:
  • Push and pull the pieces right side out through the opening in the bottom. Tweezers are your friend.
  • Use something pokey (blunt pencil here) to push your corners out to nice sharp tips.
  • Press flat.
  • Lay the non-tabbed piece on top of the tabbed piece (linings facing) and press down the tab to make a crease.
  • Sew one side of the snap to the tab, above the crease and centred. If you're neat, sew just through the lining so you can't see the stitches from the other side. Or if your stitches can be seen on the other side, you could sew a button on top to hide them. Both would be awesome.
  • Lay the un-tabbed piece back on top of the tabbed piece (linings facing). If you want to save yourself some aggravation (which I didn't, it was too late for lucid thoughts) I recommend sewing on the other side of the snap now. Fold the tab down and mark where it falls on the untabbed piece and sew it on. If you're a perfectionist, sew only through the lining again.
  • Okay, ignore the missing snap for now. You've done it better. Pin the two layers together so that all the edges match up.
  • Sew all the way around close to the edge. Make sure you front and back stitch a couple of times at the top of the pocket as this bit will be under pressure. Lo, the snap has appeared!
  • Cut a length of 1" ribbon that is 4 inches long. Press each end under a quarter of an inch and then in half so the ends match. Press some more for good measure, it's very important they're even.
For my husband's keychain I made self-binding for the loop bit but this way is much faster and you're not sewing through quite so many layers. If you do want to use fabric instead of ribbon, use your legendary math skillz to cut a piece of fabric that once edge-finished, is still 1" wide by 4" long.
  • Slip the raw bottom edge of the pocket inside the folded-over ribbon and pin in place.
  • Turn sideways and make sure the top edges of the ribbon are even.
  • Sew a boxed X to secure, making sure that it captures the fold in the ribbon at the top and extends slightly lower than the raw edges of the pocket within the ribbon sandwich.
  • Slip on your key ring and admire.
  • Hide some money in there so your husband can't steal it.
  • You can even hide folded paper money in there for your 'Run Away from Home' fund: