Monday 29 November 2010


Snow: I hate you and you're ruining my life

Yesterday's post was all lies. I hate the snow. School was cancelled today and it's already cancelled for tomorrow. We have three inches of snow. Go ahead, laugh, North Americans. I dare you. While we were out celebrating Thanksgiving with grown-ups yesterday, somebody stole the entire head off our snowman. It was that awesome that someone coveted it, waited until we left and stole that head right up. Speaking of awesome, the kids and I did crafting for Christmas pretty much all day long. I'm not sure I'll be able to cope with this much fun in my life. Also, I'm thinking of submitting our Christmas home makeover to Oh-Dee-Doh.

Before: lackluster

After: Amazing, classy, flawless etc

Sunday 28 November 2010


((Yay + Yay) x Yay) x infinity


Britain's been having major snow all over the place.

jamie snow

BBC weather says we'll have another five days of it.

maia snow

Even Invalid V2 ventured outside. At the moment, we are all very happy.

jamie and steven

Although I reserve the right to change my mind if the schools are closed.

Addendum: The bravest 2% of the world can see The Worst Pox in the World TM. Click for Squick.

Saturday 27 November 2010


If you geek me, I'll geek you back. But if you gourmet me, I'll probably just scratch my head.

I received an unexpected surprise package yesterday from none other than the illustrious Kat from Housewife Confidential. At first I thought she just sent a hefty amount of bubble wrap and Rainbow Brite tape for the kids (which would have been more than appreciated), but hidden within was a hefty jar of deliciousness. As Kat is a sophisticated grown-up who I'm keen to impress, I've had to pretend I know what it is but I'm assuming it's either ambrosia or manna. Depending on what religion you follow. And pumpkin is involved.

I've gone on record saying if you geek me I will geek you back, but what am I assumed to do when someone sends me something grown up? Obviously, baking is out of the question. She has a beautiful house full of awesome and quirky things. And the only man that makes Kat go all fangirl is her husband. She's pretty much perfect.

If you were me, what would you make Kat?

Friday 26 November 2010


The Good, the Great and the Horrifying

Exciting times here today. Black Friday means lots of sales and bargains and for fabric excitement three of my favourite UK fabric shops are having sales:
  • M is for Make is having a 10% off sale through tomorrow night. Kate started tormenting me earlier this week with a 15% sale on Patti Young knits and I totally resisted until today when the additional discount drove me over the edge.
  • The Fabric Loft is also having a Black Friday sale through Sunday, with lots of nice fabrics and sewing patterns at a discount.
  • Although it's not technically a Black Friday sale (it's a colloboration with Gertie's latest sewalong!), Sewbox is offering 20% of their garment cottons through 6 December. Click on the Gertie link for the code.
Never one to let a bandwagon pass without jumping right on, if you've been thinking about buying one of my patterns enter BLACKFRIDAY at checkout in Etsy and get 15% off.

So that's the good over with... how about the great? I've only been included in one of Babygadget's Christmas gift guides!

With a bonus picture of the Baby Maia. So little, so little hair.

And now the horrifying. See that X at the top right corner of this window? Go ahead and click it if you're easily squicked.............

This was this morning, and by the afternoon she had so many on her eyelids that they nearly swelled shut. I thought Jamie's pox was bad but she has the same number as he had on his whole body, on her upper back alone. She must have hundreds.

Thursday 25 November 2010


Must. Be. Thankful. Must. Be. Thankful.

UK friends: This is pretty much what Thanksgiving in the States is like

Ugh. Why do kids have to be so bloody competitive? Today we were playing Illness Poker and although I no longer have a sinus infection to play with I wagered my thrush and Jamie outbid me with chicken pox and then Maia said, 'I see your chicken pox, Jamie, and I raise you a urinary tract infection.' All right, Maia, you win. You are the ill-est of them all. Well done, have this statuette of Caligula*. Another week sacrificed to the pox, my plans for a pre-Christmas sale scuppered. So perhaps I'm not feeling as thankful as I was last year. Or maybe I just need to look past my self-pity and see the bigger picture.

*As you might have gathered, she is not an appreciative or cooperative patient.

Things I am thankful for (2010 edition):
  • My micro-family: who keep me amused and bemused in equal measures but who I love with a fierceness that is overwhelming
  • My macro-family: whether you be at home and abroad, thank you for being at the end of the road or the end of the phone, and for the graciousness with which you are happy to switch places
  • My quasi-family: my beloved real life friends and my treasured cyber pals, both locked-and-loaded for shenanigans. Cowl dresses optional but recommended.
  • Scotmid: Thank you for the frozen party food for our very authentic dinner tonight. Nope, not homesick at all. Eating mini spring rolls on the couch with Steven = Thanksgiving. It's the same thing.
  • Ex-pat misfits: who understand that eating spring rolls on the couch on Thanksgiving is slightly tragic and invite you to share the proper experience with their family this weekend. Just like grown-ups do. And did so last year. And those who send you candy corn and Peeps at Halloween because life is practically meaningless without them. True fact.
  • Apple: I might not be able to afford your products be so cool I need an Android phone, but you make Damn You Auto Correct! possible and for that I am eternally grateful
  • Dan Simmons: Thank you for writing a book twenty years ago that I never knew about until Steven's birthday, and thank you for making it sound too scary for Steven to read without pre-vetting. It was awesome.
More than anything (and this deserves more than a pithy bullet point), I am grateful for perspective. Although I was a lot less personally affected than others, attending the funeral of someone taken from their friends and family much too young has reminded me how insignificant my personal grievances are. I am truly blessed and eternally grateful. But also pretty sleepy.

Right, peeps. Let's hear it. What are you thankful for?

Wednesday 24 November 2010


The Transportation Hoodies

transportation hoodies 004

The second edition of Makes for Mysterious Recipient: The Transportation Hoodies.

transportation hoodies Wheels

Follow my shameful adventures of crafting with under-used adorable fabrics, starting with Riley Blake's Wheel fabric.

transportation hoodies car detail

Reversed with chocolate-coloured drill and a car applique.

transportation hoodies 015

Next stop: Alexander Henry's Fly by Day, also making its debut. That's four fabrics in a row that I've been shamefully hoarding.

transportation hoodies 022

Backed with a red twill and plane applique.

I'm finally stumbling out of the tunnel of manic noctural crafting... final edition tomorrow!

Tuesday 23 November 2010


The tunics at the end of the tunnel

autumn tunics 002

I've been working on a Very Big Top Secret Project for what seems like weeks now. Hampered by the pox and assembly line sewing, it felt like I was getting nowhere but finally there's a light at the end of the tunnel. And in that light there's some rather lovely tunics.

autumn tunics 004

This turquoise and green tulip print has to be one of my favourite fabrics, and as such, I haven't sewn with it much. Isn't that perverse? I'm a complex creature.

autumn tunics 008

And this brown bird print is making its sewing debut. I've only had it for five months. Shocking behaviour on my part again.

autumn tunics 006

The colours are lovely and autumnal, and the bird houses are frankly adorable.

Top Secret reveal and a lot more finished garments coming soon!

Monday 22 November 2010



Edinburgh's second coolest person

So on Friday night me and Friend Sarah wore our matching dresses and we were treated like celebrities and we didn't even need to do a choreographed dance or anything. That sentence is like two thirds true and one third lie.

Don't worry, I still have 12 inches of hair. I'm not sure where it is.

I was so distracted by our collective awesomeness (and also the awesomeness of Strawberry and Lime Cider) that I even forgot to try on Ruth's new glasses.

See? Nothing to worry about. The hair is back.

Just when I didn't think the 12 year old friendship experience couldn't get any better, it did. After posting our night out pics on Facebook, I only got commissioned by my friend Amber to make her a cowl dress. That's right, Amber. The original coordinating-outfit-friend from when we were twelve years old. I'm thinking we should totally put on our matching dresses and visit her brother, just like we did before. Except now he's not a day old infant, he's at university. And now I'm officially old.

Sunday 21 November 2010


A skirt for somber occassions

With the leftover grey doubleknit from Sarah's cowl dress, I quickly made myself this a-line skirt for a funeral on Friday. I wasn't sure of the dress code, and felt more comfortable in grey rather than head-to-toe black.

grey skirt longer

I made a very wide waistband rather than using elastic as it always cuts into my sides in an unsightly fashion. With the band, I could also wear the skirt at knee length with the band up or a couple of inches shorter with the band folded down.

grey skirt shorter

All and all, a super-fast and easy skirt that's a pretty good addition to my winter wardrobe.

grey skirt shorter side

Typically, I will probably make another half a dozen now and bore you silly.

Saturday 20 November 2010


Virgin Media has killed me and my children are eating my carcass and my phone is in on it

I've been so busy recently but Virgin Media has decided I can't tell anyone. Our connection is so painfully slow I can't load any sites and I'm thinking I might replicate the entire internet in a notebook for my reference and when I want to blog I will write it all out in shorthand, photocopy it, and mail it to everyone in the world because that would be quicker. I'm trying to run a speed test but the page won't even load and the irony is making me feeling a little bit giddy but mostly just stabby.

And then, in my infinite wisdom, during the week I let the invalid use the computer for CBeebies euphoria-inducing activities so I could do some sewing, and now I can't even get near the computer without them complaining 'it's their shot' and that everything I'm doing 'is taking ages' and they have a point because it is taking ages.

So then I tried to blog using my phone but it won't let me type actual words or even characters into the body of the post but titles of blog posts is apparently a-ok with my phone and then I had an aneurysm and I can't even Google what medical intervention I require and when I die of angry Steven is going to need to bring a corporate manslaughter lawsuit against Virgin but he'll need to go to his parents and use their computer for research.

UPDATE: I kid you not. Within five minutes of posting the above the internet was cured. Now Virgin wants me to look like an a**hole.

Tuesday 16 November 2010


Return of the Nocturnal Crafter

deer coat 002

Those of you who have been archiving and analysing my Twitter feed would have noticed that a couple of weeks ago I crossed over into certified hysteria over the fact that an additional child was finding her way into the marital bed during the night. I'd reach a semi-acceptance of having three in bed (if by acceptance you mean writing epic doggerel bewailing the situation), as you would expect from having the same thing happen seven hundred and fifty three days in a row. But when another child demanded access to me, my bed, my blankets, my pillow, and my ears - and that child vociferously fought with the other child over said access and kept everyone from actually sleeping, I lost my sh*t. At first, internally, as I gnashed my teeth and wailed about how my life was over. But then one night at 4AM when I hadn't been to sleep yet and Maia was screaming about not having enough blankets, and Jamie was complaining that she scratched him, and Steven was sleeping on the floor in Jamie's room, and they commenced an actual brawl on top of my supine body, I lost it with them. I shouted, 'NO. MORE. CHILDREN. IN. MY. BED.' and dragged them back to their respective beds in their respective rooms, and returned them again and again for the rest of night.

deer coat 004

The next day, the three of us sat down for a proper chat between zombies. Although our attempt at making them share a room had been the impetus for Jamie's sleep problems to begin with (he was a Model Sleeper beforehand), there was nothing to lose by moving them in together again, especially as they were both complaining that they were scared during the night. So that's what we did. The three of us tidied up Jamie's room, we moved some furniture around, and they became roomies.

deer coat 006

I've been keeping a secret from you: I have not had a child* in my bed since. They are taking the responsibility for keeping each other company during the night seriously. Yes, they are sleeping less than they did before as they talk instead of going to sleep, and both wake up at stupid o'clock, but there are no children in my bed. And so things changed for me. Without the need to get myself absolutely bone tired so I could sleep through ear tuggings and kidney punches, I could work during the day like a normal person. I've gotten used to getting a reasonable amount of sleep again; I've taken a book to bed to read. If my crafty output has been a little less prodigious, and my blog posts more sporadic and less sleep-deprived bizarre, that's why.

deer coat 009

And now the dreaded pox. One definite week without child-free daylight hours to work and another one expected once Maia catches it. And so I return, the Nocturnal Crafter.

*Steven is technically an adult.

Monday 15 November 2010


Dear Childhood Parakeet, I'm sorry* and all, but please call off the karma

On left: BAMF On right: Approximation of Childhood Parakeet

When I was a girl I had a parakeet (that's a budgie to you Brits) and its beak fell off and it died. I suspect that's the way this sinus infection is going to go for me. That is all.

*Addendum: When I say 'I'm sorry', I mean in the generic empathetic sense, not in the personal responsibility sense. I was in no way responsible for the beak falling off. It was mites. Allegedly. Personally, I've always thought it was a sinus infection.

Sunday 14 November 2010


The Catch Your Death Cowl

cowl dresses 012

As I mentioned yesterday, this week I attempted to make Friend Sarah recreate my 12 year old self's friendship experience. If you weren't friends with me as a 12 year old (and let's face it, most weren't), it meant dressing in either matching or coordinating outfits with your BFFs. On New Year's Day 1991, me and my friend Amber sported white t-shirts, black waistcoats, black cropped leggings and side ponytails to visit her new brother in hospital. I know, haters gonna hate. Although Friend Sarah suffers many indignities for being my friend, waistcoats and side ponytails would be pushing it. Probably.

cowl dresses 011

The above cowl dress in a grey and red check is my newest dress. Obviously, due to current sinus-related maladies you're not going to get a modelled picture. If you've been watching The Walking Dead, picture this dresses on one of the zombies and that's pretty accurate. No, wait. Here is a modelled pic:

cowl dresses 006

This is my hand heading up into town to meet Friend Sarah on Thursday night, when I got drenched by an Edinburgh monsoon and lo and behold- caught my death.

cowl dresses 015

This is the dress I made Sarah. It's a rather nice marled double knit with a lovely drape.

cowl dresses 014

Obviously she doesn't get a print or pattern lest she upstage me.

Addendum: It's definitely the pox.

Saturday 13 November 2010


The Posts that Never Were

Two days ago, I started writing a post about me and Friend Sarah recreating my 12 year old friendship experience complete with snazzy coordinating outfits. Yesterday I started writing a post about a newborn girl who entered the world dramatically in her own living room.

Today, all I can muster is a dramatic representation of our up to date family portrait:

From left to right.

Jamie- Chicken pox. Or not chicken pox. Medical opinion is divided. Please note smile. These pox don't itch, they're merely exciting.

Me- The Mother of All Sinus Infections. Please note irritation to all areas of face.

Maia- Crying because she does not have Chicken Pox like Jamie. Please note model hair and multicoloured eyes.

Steven- Happy because he's going to the football. Please note how his smile is so big it creates eye crinkles.

Wednesday 10 November 2010


The Capacious Be-Pocketed Changing Bag

changing bag front

As mentioned in previous posts, my adorable friend Claire is currently (over)due her third baby. To cheer her up (and remind her that she will soon be carrying approximately four stone of baby accessories), I made her a super-sized changing bag. I'm helpful like that.

changing bag front pockets

Under the messenger flap are two external deep pockets.

changing bag side

To both sides are deep elasticated pouch pockets for keeping keys / wallet / phones / beer bottles safe and handy.

changing bag zipper

To the back a rather large zippered compartment for Xanax and candy bars.

changing bag inside

Because I hate ironing on interfacing, instead the bag is inner-lined with stiff canvas so it can stand up all by itself. Inside, there are a further two pockets to keep nappies and wipes segregated from an interior gigantic enough to accommodate lots of extra clothes, blankets, snacks. The strap is double sided with a length of webbing hidden inside so she can safely cart wine boxes to baby group. In short, the perfect bag for a person with all the attendant glories of Being No Longer Pregnant.

Addendum: Friends, next time the Jehovah's Witnesses come proselytising, please can you convert so I no longer put myself under pressure to make your birthday and holiday presents? Also, become celibate. I'm currently not spending enough time messing about on the internet.

Sunday 7 November 2010


If this was my toiletries bag I'd fill it with testosterone

Steven is a hard man to shop for and an even harder man to craft for, but I wanted at least one of his birthday gifts to be handmade. When I saw the lovely leather in Mandor's a couple of weeks ago, the dark brown / black skin struck me as testosteroney enough for man -crafts. And so, I finally gathered the courage required to cut into the leather and fashion it into a toiletries bag.

It's a bit bigger that the make-up bags I've been making as I wanted it to be capacious enough to fit his shaver and other various manly accoutrements. The dotty fabric has been in my stash forever and has a spot that's a perfect colour match. Steven was impressed enough that he didn't think I made it.

My verdict for sewing with leather? Painful. Obviously I couldn't pin at all because of the puncture marks, but most frustrating was that it didn't want to feed through the machine and sewing required a lot of pushing and pulling (especially tricky when I was trying to hold the two slippery surfaces together!). Any tips for sewing leather?

Saturday 6 November 2010


Round up, roll up, Ottobre

Despite being a subscriber to the Ottobre children's magazine for a couple of years, I don't actually make very many things from their patterns because of the tracing / seam allowance sadism. Is it possible to resist this though?

No, I don't think it is possible to resist. It's the cutest thing I've ever seen.

I'm really drawn to this loungey suit too, probably because I'm still hankering for some feety pjs.

When I recently renewed my subscription, I added the woman's magazine too. The majority of the clothes are not my taste as such, but I really like this knit dress.

And I'm pretty partial to this sweatshirt too with its zippy raglan seams. And I must say I find the 'real life' models really refreshing too! Has anyone attempted Ottobre Women patterns and have any feedback to pass on?

Wednesday 3 November 2010


If Minnie Mouse got pregnant she'd totally love this top

My lovely friend Kat has just announced the impending arrival of her third child and ordered me in a bossy way asked me to make her a maternity top. Being afraid of Kat and her mystical powers of back-chat (she even insults me in Spanish), I couldn't refuse. But I could make her wait an unreasonable time before I started it. Sorry about that.

Pattern available here.

The pattern is very clever. It has a cross over wrapped bodice and two nine feet tails that go round and round and preserve your modesty. And other than the cutting it's very easy to make*.

This is my adorable friend Claire modelling the top, who was due to have her third child yesterday. I'm so glad she delayed child birth so she could model for me. Obviously I haven't done any hemming yet, which is just as well because I inadvertently made each side of the wrap seven feet too long. Seven feet too long. Ergo, Claire has 32 feet of fabric wrapped round and round her stomach. She's such a trouper.

*For other people, obviously.