Friday 30 April 2010


Amanda, Queen of Sadland

Drunk with the success of making myself something shapeless and unfitted, I naturally concluded that it was entirely possible to make myself a corset. That's an logical thought process. Nope, I don't need to read any tutorials at all. It's not tricky at all to make yourself fitted cup when you're a G-cup, no sir-ee. Let's see... Going to make the inside lining now before I chop into my very expensive silk shatung for the exterior. First, I'll do lots of gathering:

Ugh, still to much fabric. How about a dart? I put 1/4" ones on a skirt once! It was so easy.

Yes, I will put one right here. I like this dart. Piss off, gathering. I'm going to put darts everywhere.

Yes, four darts per side sounds about right, going this way and this way and this way and this way. No, it doesn't look like I have shattered my breast and Frankensteined it back together, not one bit.

Yay, it fits my doppelganger! Guess I better try it on me. Sh*t, this is incredibly low cut. It's not Spring Hussy week, it's Spring Top Week. Nevermind, I will be able to sort it with my sewing fu when I construct the outer with my very expensive silk shatung. Better pratice the gathered bodice with my muslin.

Nevermind, too bulky. I will just duplicate the lining pieces. Snip, snip, snip silk shatung! Nevermind I've had you forever, unable to cut you because I love you so much. Sew, sew sew silk shatung.

Seriously, WHY ARE YOU SMALLER THAN THE LINING?! I hate you , silk shatung. Cry, cry, cry. Stare, stare, stare. Must. be. fixable.

To be continued..... (maybe)

Thursday 29 April 2010


Pirate boy hoodie

Pirate hoodie- white side

As I mentioned in the Pin Up hoodie post, I was asked to make not one but two hoodies for Soph4Soph. This one is for her one of her middle sons.

Pirate hoodie- neck detail

I was sent both the white and the red colourways of this pirate fabric as we weren't sure that there would be enough of the white one to make a whole hoodie. When I layed the pattern pieces out on the white (which came in two smaller pieces), I reported back 'Yay!' and asked if rather than the mono-colour flannel lining I usually do if she wanted to reverse it with the red.

Pirate hoodie- red side

Little did I know that it would actually be the red I would be short on so after lots o'staring and playing around with different combinations in my head I came up with this as a solution:

Pirate hoodie- hood detail

Both sides of the hood have a fat black flannel band around the face which I'm rather pleased with (if I do say so myself).

Pirate hoodie- back

My favourite view is from the back where you can see both the prints and the black band. This is the first time I've lined a hoodie with another print and I think the black band breaks it up a bit and stops it looking uber-busy.

Wednesday 28 April 2010


A Big Girls' Square neck smocky top

full view

Well, this looks a bit familiar, doesn't it? It's a grown up version of my square neck smocky top. Pedants will be thinking, 'Amanda, you've got that apostrophe all wrong in the title!' Actually, I meant Big Girls' because, woah... busty from the side.

semi side view

From the front though, the combination of pull out clumps of your hair tissue thin jersey and lots of gathering means some pretty nice draping.

neck view

The most notable difference (or not, because you can't see it in the pictures) from my little girl's version is that the neckpiece is not a pre-squared piece, it is mitred strips. And it doesn't have inset sleeves, they are raglan and follow the seam line of the mitred neck. Like the bodice front and back, the sleeves are very gathered to make the end result fluttery.

I didn't use a pattern, I based it on a top I already had in my wardrobe. Normally if I am replicating something, it's a fairly straight-forward trace around each piece and then add seam allowance but with all the gathering I had to do a bit more measurement-based drafting. If you are interested, the process I used is here:

  • Draw a picture of your item of clothing with all it's different pieces. Optional but recommended: draw it terribly.
  • Take all the important measurements like seam lines, and heights / widths of various pieces.
  • Break it down into pattern pieces and summarise their individual measurements.
  • Draft the pieces onto paper, adding seam and hem allowances where required and making any adjustments to fit that you would like. I ended up giving my top more of a shaped waist than the original. You will have to do a bit of guess work as to how much extra to add for gathering, but a general rule of 1.5 times final (gathered) width for light gathering and 2 times for heaps is a good rule. I used just under 2 times but that was probably surplus to requirements.
  • Turn your original garment inside out and study the seams. Write down the order and manner they were constructed. For example, I learned that the when making the (self-faced) neck piece, the seam allowance was understitched to the inside facing. That's a good idea.
I had big plans to make spectacular tops for Made by Rae's Spring Top Week and the deadline is Friday so it's looking more and more unlikely. What do you think, is it worth submitting this one for sh*ts and giggles? Based on the competition, I needn't be making room for a trophy. Which is totally fine, I don't have any space for one anyway.

Tuesday 27 April 2010


Thanks a lot, science.

Let's go back to high school chemistry class. Remember entropy? I know, that's a silly question. Of course you do. It's the natural tendency of the universe to move from order to disorder. And right now it's on my mind big time.

Image from here.

One of the main reasons for my recent malaise is that my house is getting me down. Despite being lucky enough to have a three bedroom flat, it has virtually no storage space (save for my jam-packed fabric closet) and every single room is full to the brim with stuff. Pressed up along the perimeter of every wall, the stacks get higher and the rooms get smaller in ever-decreasing circles. I try to keep on top of it, I have regular clear outs but the stuff seems to replenish itself. As soon as it's organised, I turn around and it's disorganised again. I make space, by the end of the day the space is filled. I know that this is inevitable having small children but the chaos and claustrophobia make me anxious and depressed.

It affects the business because its harder to motivate when I have to take everything out, and put everything back, often very late at night. It affects the children because we have a holding pen in the living room where they spend most of their time and the too-small space creates more conflict. It affects my marriage because we snark at each other about putting extra stuff into newly-empty space, and argue about whose stuff takes up more space (answer: his). It affects me socially because if someone unexpected calls on us, I'll come out into the vestibule to speak rather than invite them in because I'm ashamed (which makes me The Rudest Person on Earth). There is nowhere inside the house that I can take pictures without peripheral mess, which makes me sad. Yes, I am a real person and a mother of small children but proper bloggers and proper crafters have aspirational lives, right?

So I guess I'm at breaking point with the house, and despite the fact our bank balances show negative a million I need to do something to fix this. I was really jealous inspired by what Skip did with her living room, and I'm thinking about something similar. The living room has to be tackled as a priority as this is where we all spend the most time. I know getting shelves and cupboards aren't a panacea to how I'm feeling but it'll be a start. And I need help: How do you keep entropy at bay? What tips and solutions can you suggest? Whose spaces do you find inspirational / calming / beautiful?

I'll start. I totally want to make this beautiful boxes for my mythical shelves:

Tutorial and image from here.

Monday 26 April 2010


Pin up girl hoodie

I mentioned the other day that the lovely Soph4Soph had sent me some fabric to make hoodies for her progeny, and that you should prepare yourself to die a tiny bit. Well, here's the first one, for her little girl Sophie:

I'm very excited to do these commissions because it's always fun to get fabric outwith my stash... but also because Soph4Soph is a children's clothing designer too. She has an amazing selection of fabrics (which don't overlap mine too much) and I have to fight the jealousy when I see what she's using. Except for this time when I get to partake!

This fabric has lovely bubblegum colours, but it's not over-saccharine. It's lined with cream flannel with red cuffs and waistband. I'd also like to note that Brighton has a preponderence of incredibly stylish children, and second to Edinburgh has the most children sporting my wares.

Sunday 25 April 2010


Just in case you might want to cry or something

I'm probably the very last person in the world to see this video, but if you haven't seen it, you have to.

Hands up who got teary?

Saturday 24 April 2010


Bird coat in duplicate

This asymmetrical coat is for the sister of the little boy in Orkney I made the Automotive Coat for. And speaking of sisters, a certain Sister remarked on the Automotive Coat-- What, reversible??

I hadn't occurred to me that newer readers to my blog might not privy to my compulsion: I must make everything in the world reversible.

The other side of this coat is the orange bird print version that momentarily set the world alight and gave me quasi-celebrity status when it was featured on Babygadget by the delectable Mockduck. Now on the machine is two commissions for Soph4Soph and you will die a little bit when you see the fabrics she sent me...

Friday 23 April 2010


I hearts the internet. And Friend Sarah. And Magners.

Thank you all for your kind words and insightful comments on yesterday's post. Yet again I've been humbled by your support and I'm ever so grateful for the little blogging community we have here. I'm feeling much stronger emotionally today, so thank you. But I'm not feeling physically stronger today, no sir-ee, because of this menace:

Friend Sarah chaperoned me on supervised night release into The World Outside This House and a good time was had by all. Never underestimate the emotionally restorative powers of cider companionship with people at their full adult height, and dancing.

Thursday 22 April 2010


Showing your emotions as a parent: The good, the bad and the ugly?

We interrupt this blog to talk about serious stuff...

Yesterday was not a Good Day. In truth, I haven't had a Good Day in a long time but yesterday was particularly bad: I cried in front of the kids. I have very complicated feelings about this. I do feel that it's important to show them that it's okay to feel sad or angry just as much as it is to feel happy. I know through my own experiences with depression that internalising negative emotions is toxic. But yesterday was more complicated than 'I bashed my toe and it's sore', or 'I'm sad we're leaving Grandma and Grandpa' or 'I'm angry that our oven just broke and I'm not sure how I can make dinner now'. Those are things that easier to explain, fall within the realm of things that are 'rational' to cry about, but most importantly have nothing to do with the kids.

But what do you say when you are crying because of the relentlessness of being a parent? That Jamie's constant begging for food every minute of the day makes you despair? Or that the fact that 98% of everything that Maia says is a whine makes you see red? That they never listen? Or they never stop fighting? Because I also know that giving children a sense of responsibility for their parents' emotional well-being is very toxic. What a burden to bear on tiny shoulders that what they do or don't do can make me cry.

So what do you think about children seeing their parents cry (both as a child yourself or now as a parent)? Is it healthy or does it just create panic? I'd love to hear your thoughts, unless of course your thoughts are that I'm a bad mother. I'm just not up to hearing that right now.

Wednesday 21 April 2010


Coming soon: I take on the big 4, kick *** and become a film star

I don't have a good history with commercial patterns with their silly seam allowances and nonsensical instructions. Or their crazy sizing that deems me more than two times bigger than clothing stores, which is Not Good for the ego. But with Vogue Patterns having their big ol' pattern sale and me having my big ol' doppelganger, I reckoned the time was nigh to add some new patterns to my growing arsenal. My entirely unused arsenal, but, hey. Don't judge.

Have a little look at what I got... I think you can sense a theme, no? I am completely and flabbergastingly into dresses just now. Which is insane because I don't wear skirts or dresses as it's freezing here and I have purple legs. And I certainly don't need dress-up dresses with belts and pencil skirts and waspish waists because they require non-sneakered feet and tidy hair. And occassions that are appropriate. I have worn a dress-up dress exactly twice in the last four years and one of those times was because I was the bride. Maybe it's more the occasions that I'm pining for?

So here's my favourite Big Girl sewing blogs, responsible for giving me delusions of grandeur and a deep sadness for lack of occassions to dress nicely:
  • KidMD: The Cool Girl who was cool way before the rest of us. Resident expert on correcting fitting and current BFF after she showed me her doppelganger. We've been discussing our naked bodies ever since. Which basically goes, 'ZOMG they're identical'.
  • Gerties's New Blog for Better Sewing. Don't let that mundane title put you off, it is made of awesome. I'm really inspired by her adventures in vintage styling and her blog is a veritable hotbed of interesting discussions on body image and gender in fashion.
  • The Selfish Seamstress: I can't believe I'm even telling you this... She is more funny than me.
Here's a depiction of how my live is going to be after I make these dresses:

Yep, that's basically me in the green dress. No one Every one already tells me that.

Monday 19 April 2010


The automotive coat

There is a little boy in Orkney who's getting a very special coat for his birthday this weekend. His mum told me that he's into automobiles in a major way and together we found this amazing multicoloured vehicle fabric from Riley Blake.

Clearly, living in Orkney means Thinsulate and a hood.

The other side is a mossy green babycord that's so soft I suspect it's made of baby ducklings.

While I'm on the subject of Riley Blake, I think I have a new favourite designer. This fabric is begging me to make a quilt out of it.

And this one is telling me that I need to clean out my garage and start turning regular fabric into oilcloth because it would make the most awesome raincoat ever.

Gratitude to @thatkat for showing me the umbrella fabric. Anyone else have a fabric to lose sleep over?

Sunday 18 April 2010


My slightly NSFW doppelganger

If you are related to me and male, please leave my blog now. This post is not for you.

After the kids were in bed last night, I stripped down to my underwear, we broke out the cling film and wrapped me up like a present. Before you start thinking 'Amanda is an oversharer', I want to reassure you that we had non-kinky motivations. Then we covered me in duct tape like so:

Again, not kinky. Fast forward 12 hours of stuffing and padding later, and I have a dress form just like me!

I bought far less duct tape than I should of so it's a bit lumpier than it should be. But likewise, covering me in cling film and duct tape makes me less lumpy so maybe we're even?

I've been wanting to make a dress form for ages because I have a really hard time adjusting the fit of things while I'm wearing them. I've been desperate to join in on Spring Top Week hosted by Made By Rae but I wouldn't have been able to make the top I wanted to without a dress form. Fingers crossed that it's more or less accurate, but the way it's modelling my new dress gives me hope!

Although I didn't do everything she said to do (more fool me) the tute I read before embarking is here. Oh, and readers? The fact you now pretty much know what I look like naked is something we shouldn't discuss unless you want me to die of embarrassment. But if I find out what you look like naked then we can be BFFs and discuss it all day long.

Saturday 17 April 2010


Scotland's Next Top Model

Tyra would be proud, because this girl looks fierce.

I was a little bit scared when I saw it in my blog reader because that face is saying 'I Do Not Like'. But when I clicked through, I breathed a sigh of relief because it's all good:

I know it's hard to tear yourself away from staring at her gorgeous hair, rocking skinnies and snazzy shoes but Manga Girl tunic looks rather nice too. And stop coveting that bookcase, look at the Care Bear Hoodie:

She pulls it off with ablomb. Thanks to Kirsty for letting me post the pics!

Friday 16 April 2010


Draw, Glue, Glitter, Make

After yesterday's angst-fest about the placement of my new banner, it's now happily resting more-or-less where it should be and bestowing my blog with 450% more prettiness than it had previously. The lack of a pretty banner has been bugging me for awhile now and my own efforts at making one made my blog 450% less pretty. So I asked for recommendations on Twitter I was pointed in the direction of SheDraws.

Main site linking Folksy / Etsy / Blog / Twitter

Those of you active on Folksy will definitely recognise her work; I first came across her with her entry in the Folksy/Howies competition. She makes adorable things with her illustrations:

Page one of Folksy

But she also has turned her talent to banner design and has made all of these:
Other banners made

Armed only with a vague notion of what I wanted and liked (because I didn't really know myself), Laura made the perfect banner for me and I'm much happier with the way my blog and Etsy look like now. And just because I'm gushing, I think you should go right now and read her blog post on the difference that photo editing makes to your product shots (including before and after pictures!). It's essential reading for anyone who's crafty.

Disclaimer: This review is in no way sponsored or discounted, I'm just very happy with my banner and committed to supporting other independant makers!

Thursday 15 April 2010


Someone put me out of my misery. Please.

If you were on my blog last night between the hours of 6PM and 1AM, you would have seen some crazy stuff going on with my header. Too big. Too small. But unlike Goldilocks, never just right. I resized it GIMP at least four hundred times, renaming it each time:

I've re-uploaded each of these files to the header, but it will not fit no matter what I do. I googled the bejesus out of it but can't find an answer. I'm pretty sure that there's something in the HTML that's preventing it from fitting even when it's the stipulated 660pixels wide. Something like this:

Please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please can someone tell me how to fix this because I have a beautiful shiny new header and I want to put it up!!

Wednesday 14 April 2010


A stay of execution of sorts

A couple of the Cool Girls have asked for a stay of execution in the t-shirt sew-along. Being a benign autocrat, I have agreed. Don't think of it as a stay of execution though (that sounds like t-shirt making is punishment), think of it as a longer gestation period. And we're gestating Cool; these things take time.

This is my first t-shirt, and although it is a little bit cool, it's not officially cool. Having the kids around 24/7 means the house is in an extreme state of disarray and I can't find my Cal Patch book. They probably flushed it down the toilet or set it on fire or ate it. But I made a couple of changes to my cowl neck top pattern to turn it into a t-shirt.

Short sleeves, semi-low round neck, hip length, normal 100% cotton pink interlock with turquoise binding at the neck. It probably fits better than any store-bought t-shirt I have but that's damning with very faint praise indeed.

I'm going to tell you my sordid secret: I'm a G-cup. Normal (non-gathered) t-shirts either fit my bust but swamp my waist or cling pornographically across my chest but fit my waist. This one more-or-less fits both but I think plain t-shirts just don't do anything for me. I am going to try again with a printed cotton with a lycra element and see how it goes. Any thoughts on the fitting? Or indeed, t-shirty attire on the large busted? I leave you with my children making fun of me, as always:

And a new deadline! Now due 15th of May (a whole two weeks extra to get prolific).

Tuesday 13 April 2010


Me and my shadow

For those of you thinking I've finally lost it (and I probably have), that's a Thrush. Geddit? Because these childcare-free days and nights honestly didn't seem long enough, you know, without my BFF turning up to hang out. Again.

Monday 12 April 2010


Operational debrief

Apologies for the lack of posting here. We are halfway through the nineteen day / 456 hours / 27360 minute nursery Easter break and I have commenced Operation: Keep the Children Out of the House at All Costs Lest I Kill Them. Here's a breakdown of our day:

Total buses journeys taken today: 6
Movies watched: 1
Number of times I threatened to take them home before the movie even started: 16
Number of times they complained 'Is it over? / I want to go home / I don't like it' during the movie: 116
Number of times I muttered 'I don't know why I bother, you little ingrates' to myself: 2639
Number of times they said 'That was brilliant!!' at the end of the movie: 2
Paper crowns procured from Build-a-Bear: 2
Aggressive employees practising the hard sell to toddlers in Build-a-Bear Company: 5
Shit-fits that I wouldn't, in fact, let them build a bear: 1 (Maia)
Number of coffees in a fishbowl consumed by yours truly: 1
Handles required to lift the coffee: 2
Inane DVDs purchased: 1
Very inane DVDs purchased: 1
Number of times I remembered Edinburgh is really rather beautiful: 1
Well behaved children at the playground: 2 (my own, of course)
Feral children at the playground: 300
Ice creams consumed: 2
Moments captured: 1