Monday 31 October 2011


The Viking Raid

Full length 2

Seeing as I started with a Viking Hat for The Train to Crazy's Handmade Dress Up Series, I thought I'd finish with two full blown Viking costumes for Halloween.


We had two parties over the weekend, a nursery party this morning, and we're out guising tonight so at least they're getting heaps of wear for the million hours I spent on them. I've taken more than two hundred pictures so far and haven't been able to catch a single full length picture where they are both in focus and looking normal.

Full length 1

A brown jersey tunic for the boy, a red velveteen tunic for the girl, four faux fur legwarmers, four faux fur arm warmers, two faux fur capelets, ten faux suede ties, and two padded and stuffed hats. By my calculations, that's about ten different hateful fabrics. And I have a (probably fatal) lung condition from all the faux fur I inhaled.

slightly dopey

The Nordic talismans on the capelets were purchased from a shaman on Ebay. No joke.

like a boss

See how they strut the streets of Edinburgh like a boss. But wait... isn't something missing?

viking vampire

My screwed up Freudian Viking Projection Fantasy is complete.

Friday 28 October 2011


Kit and Caboodle

cowboy hoodie 008

I was in a bit of a bind last week when I was asked to make a hoodie with very short notice. Luckily, I have bags upon bags of projects that have been cut but not sewn from the era when I did craft fairs and worked sweat-shop style to a schedule. It didn't save me heaps of time, but probably an hour of cutting and two hours of faffing about staring at fabric wondering what to make.

cowboy hoodie 009

I've been wondering for a while if I should be branching into kits as well as patterns. Kits are a great introduction to a project, and remove some of the stress and cost of picking components yourself. For a hoodie, you might buy your pattern from me, your fabric from another place, your ribbing from another, your zipper from another... all that shipping adds up! The fabric, pattern and notions would be included, and obviously you can use the pattern again and again.

cowboy hoodie 010

I have to admit, I don't have a lot of experience with sewing kits. I bought a few Clothkits a couple of years back but shamefully never made them up; I just really liked the fabric. Because their pattern pieces are actually printed on the fabric itself, I think it's slightly limiting if your child has a figure quirk like long arms or big bum. So I think I'd definitely be providing the fabric required as an even piece, but not pre-marked or cut.

What say you, hive mind... Do you like kits? Would you be interested in them as an introduction to a pattern? What things appeal or put you off?

Wednesday 26 October 2011


Branson: The Final(?) Chapter

'The European Court has found that pursuant to The Human Rights Act, all European Citizens are entitled to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of LOLCATs...'

'I think you'll find that Kitschy Coo isn't actually a European Citizen.'

'Now, wait one minute, Branson. She's a god-damn American citizen and we do not stand for this sort of thing.'

America doesn't stand for this sort of thing.

'Hmm. Let her phone the call centre two dozen times. They will have a script for that.'

India responds.

The religious respond.

'What is going on down there?'

Branson is busy.

'Sort it, Branson.'

'I guess I could let her speak to someone in the UK.'

A Scouser knows his stuff.


Kitschy Coo bathes in its glorious warmth.

((THE END. I hope.))

Friday 21 October 2011


If you like then you shoulda put a sleeve on it

fox party frock

After the success of the Cinderella Couch Dress, my friend Justine asked me to make another party frock for her daughter with my recent(ish) haul of fabrics. 'I have the perfect fabric in mind,' I said, 'My precious foxes!' She couldn't believe that I'd be willing to part with some given how often I've been using it. My reputation clearly preceeds me.

fox party frock sleeve

But part with it I did, and at Justine's request I added a short puff sleeve to the party frock pattern. I admit there was much staring and frowning required to figure out how to integrate a sleeve into a fully lined bodice so the seams were hidden. I got there in the end but the process definitely had me flummoxed. In the end I sewed it in the round to the shell fabric and then sewed the shell and lining together with the sleeve hiding between... Can anyone point me in the direction of an easy(ier) way to do this?

Thursday 20 October 2011


The Missing Season Tunic

red euro flowers tunic

I made this tunic for Maia's good pal for her birthday a couple weeks ago, thinking that she'd not get a wear out of it for awhile. It must have been prescience on my part, though, as we seem to have skipped autumn and moved right onto winter. Today never made it out of single figures (that's in the thirties and forties if you prefer fahrenheit). At least there is velveteen to keep the small folk cozy.

red euro flowers tunic detail

It's too soon for this malarkey, and I have the purple hand-claws to prove it. Let be British for a moment and discuss the weather. How is it in other parts or the world? Unseasonably cold, unexpectedly warm, or just as you have learned to expect?

Wednesday 19 October 2011


The Sentimental Panda Hoodie

panda hoodie detail

When a customer chooses one of my all-time-favourite-but-long-neglected fabrics for a custom order, that's pretty much me at peak excitement. It's a lovely cherry red fine-wale cord with a retro panda print.

panda hoodie

And the reverse?

panda hoodie polkadot side

My trusty black and white fine-wale corduroy.

And here's a bonus trip down nostalgia lane... a baby Maia in the first hoodie I ever made:

A special fabric indeed.

Tuesday 18 October 2011


The Jetsetter Pouches

jetsetter pouches

I've been so wrapped up in this internet malarkey, I omitted to tell you about Belfast. Actually, I've been so wrapped up in this internet malarkey that I've forgotten Belfast. Distant memory, my friends.

jetsetter pouches brown

But I did make us these matching purse-sized makeup bags so that we would fit in at the swanky hotel.

jetsetter pouches blue

Once we flashed these around a bit we got special treatment everywhere. The only downside to our VIP experience was the bedding situation:

belfast hotel
As chaperones at my middle school dances would have said, 'Leave room for the Holy Ghost'.

I was very much looking forward to the rose-strewn king feather bed (I might have gone so far to taunt some of my mum friends on Facebook about it), but unknownst to me Ruth made it to the hotel first and asked to be switched to a room with single beds. Can you believe this? She bed-blocked me. But obviously, once the receptionist had been asked for single beds I couldn't go back and say, 'Well, actually....' without appearing to have nefarious intentions.

Saturday 15 October 2011


A comedy of errors

I know, my internet woes are very boring. Each day this week it's been cut off an hour earlier than the day before and I was starting to worry that eventually it would be cut off before I actually had it and a whopping great hole would be ripped in the Time-Space Continuum and before you know it it's the apocalypse again. So I called Virgin this morning. Hereby follows a (fairly) accurate representation of my experience:

Virgin robot: Press one for..... press six for.... please enter character four.... press five for.... press six for.... press two for.... press nine for... please enter character one..... press two for.... press four for.... press one for.... press six for....
Me: Press. Press. Press. Press. Press. Press. Press. Press.

While I am on hold, other people* have breakfast:

Technician one: Hello, how can I help you?
Me: I have terrible internet problems blah blah blah...
Technician one: Okay, let me somehow take over your computer so you are embarrassed you when you realise what sites you have open.
Me: Okay.
Technician one: I have fixed everything. It all works now.
Me: Oh really?
Technician one: I have fixed everything. It all works now. Goodbye.

After hanging up the phone, I confirm that the internet does not actually work. Let's start the process over. Meanwhile, some people take out their garbage.

Technician two: Hello, how can I help you?
Me: I have terrible internet problems blah blah blah... Your colleague told me he fixed it but he didn't.
Technician two: Okay, see that blue light on your computer, is it on?
Me: Yes.
Technician two: Great, your computer is on.
Me: --
Technician two: See that green light on the monitor, is it on?
Me: Yes.
Technician two: Great, your monitor is on. You can see things, right?
Me: --
Technician two: See that green light on the router, is that on?
Me: Yes.
Technician two: You have the internet. Is there anything else I can do to help?
Me: I don't have the internet.
Technician two: You have a problem with your computer.
Me: No I don't. Every single device has the same problem at the same time.
Technician two: When you fix your computer, the rest of your devices will start working.
Me: That is not even possible.
Technician two: I am transferring you to the 'It's Not Me, It's You' department.

Meanwhile, other people are on the phone too....

Person three: Hello, how can I help you?
Me: I have terrible internet problems blah blah blah...
Person three: Can I have your account details?
Me: Blah blah blah.
Person three: You do not have an account with us.
Me: You are a joker.
Person three: I'm going to have to transfer you back to the beginning. Ask whoever answers to 'warm transfer' you back to me.

Person four: Hello, how can I help you?
Me: The last person I spoke to told me to tell you to 'warm transfer' me back to him.
Person four: What is this thing you speak of?
Me: No idea.
Person four: Well, who were you speaking to?
Me: I don't even know what is going on.
Person four: I'm going to transfer you.

Meanwhile, in another part of the world....

Person five: Hello, how can I help you?
Me: You could come to my house and stab me to death.
Person five: Ma'am?
Me: I have terrible internet problems blah blah blah...
Person five: I'm not authorised to speak to you as you are a 50mb customer. I will transfer you.

Person six: Hello, how can I help you?
Me: I have terrible internet problems blah blah blah... You are the fifth person I have spoken to during this epic one hour and thirty minute conversation.
Person six: It is a known fault in your area.
Person six: There has been a fault for ages.
Person six: Your internet loses its connection constantly.

*Disclaimer for legal types: Any resemblance to real people, be they Richard Branson or not, is purely coincidental.

Friday 14 October 2011


The mini, *mini*, MINI mod dress

minimod dress full

When in Belfast I bought a dozen long sleeve t-shirts in different colours for layering; this stripey one is my favourite. However, the t-shirts are too tight to me to feel comfortable wearing them by themselves. Ergo, I decided I needed some jumper dresses.

minimod dress pockets

The mod vibe is strong right now, so I made the cut drop-waisted with double top-stitched centre seams. The pocket flaps are decorative rather than functional. I used a brushed-back french terry for a bit of stability. It's nearly impossible to photograph detail on full black, but you might be able to see it if you squint hard enough. No squinting is required to see that it is far too short for a respectable lady of my age.

minimod dress

All this Amanda-centred-sewing was precipitated by an invitation to socialise with Friend Sarah and some of her police pals tomorrow night, and having nothing to wear. Chances that I would get arrested for indecent exposure? Considerable.

Thursday 13 October 2011


The Catriona Dress

When Maia's lovely nursery nurse asked me a couple weeks ago if I could make her a dress for her brother's wedding, I admit I baulked at the idea. Making clothes for other adults who don't share my rough measurements is hugely outside my comfort zone. But Catriona is so sweet, and she was a bit distressed about being unable to find anything off the rails, and it's her brother's wedding and therefore majorly important to her, so I said I'd try.

catriona dress unmodelled

She brought an old dress that she wanted me to copy, and I made some changes to make it more flattering.

catriona dress darts

The original dress was elasticated along the top edge to keep it up, but I eliminated the elastic and substituted three overbust darts onto each size so it would mold around her curves rather than cut into them. The fabric has a bit of stretch so the top edge is stabilised with twill tape.

catriona dress waistband

The original dress was empire line but being large of bust, the seam hit across the bust rather than under it. Empire lines in ready-to-wear almost always hit the large of bust at the wrong place. Ask me how I know :) So I eliminated the empire line and added a curved waistband instead for more waist definition. If I'd had more time I would have liked to see what it looked like with a single-coloured band rather than a matching one.

catriona dress skirt

The skirt is gored (twelve of them) and super-full. The circumference was nearly three and a half metres!

catriona dress modelled

And here it is yesterday at the last fitting (pre-hemming and zipper). She loves it so much that I'm happy I accepted the challenge. I can't wait to see the professional shots without light switches and carpet detritus.

Wednesday 12 October 2011


The State of the Girl

eye patch 1

It's been eight (long) weeks since we started the eye patch regime. At the initial appointment to access her eye problems, we found out that the vision in her lazy eye was poor enough that her brain had turned off the signals from that eye completely. Even with her glasses on, she couldn't see past the first line of the eye test! With instructions to patch six hours a day, they were hoping to see a fifty percent improvement in the bad eye. And now we've had our first follow-up appointment and.............. There's been an eighty percent improvement! The bad eye has almost equalised with the good eye, so we only have one month at four hours a day and one month at one hour a day.

eye patch 2

We are all beyond pleased, and so proud of how brave she's been. It's not been easy, her confidence has taken a serious knock and there has been some major angsting, but she has never refused to wear it and for that I'm eternal grateful.

eye patch 007

I've been continuing to make her new patches based on her complaints feedback on the earlier ones. The rolled hem edges were proclaimed scratchy, so I started binding them in satin bias binding, which also has the added benefit of stabilising the dome shape so her eye can remain open. The stiffer dome shape (and also the large size) has also ensured that peeking around the edges wasn't possible. The optometrist said that my version is better than the one that the NHS has been recommending so that was a bonus :)

Addendum: As far as I'm aware, there's no one who reads my blog who currently has a patching child and would therefore be interested in a tutorial, but if that ever changes or if someone finds themself here who wants to know how to make one just leave a comment.

UPDATE: The tutorial is here!