Wednesday 29 February 2012


If Einstein was alive he'd want to talk about these trousers

blue astronaut trousers waistband

And now that's the sky blue astronauts ticked in the box too, only the purple still to sew. Maia is gunning hard for a dress but extreme naughtiness on her part is making it hard for me to acquiesce. I know that the bad behaviour is at least 99% a reaction to having to patch again, but geez. So naughty.

blue astronaut trousers full

Anyway, here be trousers. Not much to add to that succinct summation. I did, however, omit these fabrics from my Know Your Knits post (on account of not having them yet), so lets get all Einstein and talk relativity. Compared to the clouds (and stars) jersey:

Comparative curling - before

These are nearly identical off-cuts being held down.

Comparative curling - after

And here they are when I let go: the astronauts are a lot less curly. Both are jersey knits but the astronauts are a slightly heavier weight and therefore a little bit more straightforward to sew.

Tuesday 28 February 2012


The Chair of Happiness

Following my post of chair-related navel gazing, I decided rather than over-research the complex relative merits of dozens of chairs whilst sitting in a very uncomfortable one and carrying it back and forth between rooms depending on where we needed it most at any given time, I'd just freaking buy one. Most unlike me, I know. But buy one I did, and this is the best 'before' shot I can give you:

chair before
Him: territorial. Her: Hysterical.

The kids would not have been more excited if I wheeled the Messiah into the room. I can only conclude that they should get humble desk chairs for Christmas. And their birthdays. After I could prise them away from The Chair, I loosely followed this tute to recover it.

happy chair after

It was an even more straight-forward job than expected as the back rest ended up completely popping off with a screwdriver so I could just staple the new fabric to the backing. Word to the wise, however, pound the casing back on with a mallet instead of attempting to ease it back on with the screwdriver. I ended up with a small (but inconsequential) crack.

I have an additional reason for happiness today. Those of you on Facebook might have seen that I borked my serger last week. After a kind recommendation from a local friend, two of my machines (the broken serger and a previously broken regular machine that I've been studiously ignoring) were dropped off at NJ Sewing Machine Services in Polmont on Saturday. They could not have been more kind or helpful, and they completely fixed both for me within one working day. Coming in a a third of the cost (were actually talking about almost £150 in difference!) and at three weeks quicker than the local shop I've been using for servicing in the past, I could not recommend them more. Richard talked me through and showed me what was wrong with them, what he did to fix them, taught me loads of things I can fix myself in future and other things that I should really leave to the experts. If you are in Scotland, they're right next to the train station in Polmont so you can easily get there even without a car. Honestly, I've never had a more helpful (and less condescending) service.

Monday 27 February 2012


The Astronauts have landed. Some are more excited than others.

It was birthday party central here this weekend with party invitations for both of the kids so I was pretty excited to use my new astronaut fabric for the very first time.

green astronaut top ribbing

Maia said, 'Do you know how every time we go to a party you make clothes for the present?....'

green astronaut top detail

Me: 'Yeah...'

green astronaut top

Maia: 'Well, that's so boring'.

Friday 24 February 2012


Tutorial: How to sew a small cuff on to a larger edge

It can be pretty tricky sewing cuffs onto leg or sleeve edges, particularly with childrenswear when the pieces are so small. Added to that, as the ratio of cuff circumference to garment circumference increases, the difficulty increases too. For example, a leg cuff on my newborn trousers is 15cm but the leg hole I'm attaching it to is 23cm; that's a lot of stretching to match, and not a lot of space to do it in!

Before I sew a cuff on, I pin the cuff to the leg opening only at the four quarter marks and stretch to match the bits in between as I sew. I'm doing this on my serger, but the same applies on a regular sewing machine. And here's how I do it:

As the video is pretty fast and I don't do any talking, here's the bits that I think are most helpful:

Sewing on the curve:

tip one

Don't attempt to stretch the entire band to match the garment edge, it's much easier to stretch just the edge of the band as it has a cut edge that will naturally fan out. And by leaving the bulk of the band unstretched, you are maintaining its intended circumference rather than stretching it out of shape. And so you end up with a nice neat circle at the end:

tip one part two

Folding up to check edge alignment:

tip two

I tend to pause every couple of inches, and with the needle in the down position fold up to make sure all the edges are flush and to tame any of the curls. Once I'm happy, it's folded back down onto the plate, squashed down with various fingers and sewn again on the curve.

And there you go, a nice and neat cuff in no time at all.

Wednesday 22 February 2012


The Recidivist

Guess who's back...

the girl

Unfortunately the two month hiatus from patching has led to her lazy eye weakening again, so it's back on the patches for us. If I understood the doctor correctly (which is never guaranteed), this will go either of two ways. Best case scenario: it will improve and stabilise in a better state. Worst case: it will improve but then decline again after patching is done. Either way, (I believe) these will be the last few months of the regime. If the eye can't remain at the better state without a patch, there's no medical reason to keep patching*. Wish us luck!

*Unless she wears it for the rest of her life. I do not want to be in close proximity to a pubescent , hormonal Maia with a Hello Kitty eyepatch.

Monday 20 February 2012


Where Dreams are made

cafe and oven 013

Watch your back, food bloggers, I have a new oven.

new oven

A place where dreams* are made.

mosaic terrible baking

*If by dreams you mean bad dreams.

Saturday 18 February 2012


Sew Grateful Fabric Winner

Thanks to all who participated in the Giveaway post, what a lot of entries! Without further ado.....

Wondering if this is you? I'll save you counting all the way down... This is what it looks like to be a winner:

Congratulations, Sarah, for a) winning the fabric b) being so cute. Please send me an email with your details and we'll sort you right out with your prize!

Friday 17 February 2012


Cosmonaut Cool Cat

A big box of new fabric arrived from Sweden today.....

astronaut mosaic

The main haul being three different colourways of this amazing astronaut fabric.

astronaut green 1

Each colourway includes five different background colours so they are really great for colour- matching.

And the renegade stand-alone I couldn't resist?

turq cool cats.jpg

This Cheshire Cat-esque print on a bright turquoise background. Again, five different background colours for matching and the faces are up and down so you can minimise your wastage when cutting.

They're up and active as fabric in my shop already, and clothes using them will follow.

Thursday 16 February 2012


Conquering curly knits: Banding instead of hemming

rib binding 008

The biggest anxiety about sewing with knits that comes up again and again whenever I ask is trouble when hemming. There's a lot of things you can do to help this process but the easiest by far: don't hem. There are many ways to avoid hemming (leaving it raw, serging or overcasting the edge, rolling the hem, lettuce edging, etc) but the one I use the most is making bands for the edges. Obviously this isn't the golden solution to all knit projects, but applying a binding to a raw edge can be done to so many garments:

turq star j 3

For a shirt, you can use ribbing for the neckband, sleeve cuffs, and waistband...


For trousers, you can use ribbing for the waistband and ankle cuffs...

front 2

Ribbing quite often give garments a casual or sporty look, so for a dress, you can use a narrower interlock to edge your sleeves and neckband. Although I did hem the bottom edge :) My yoga leggings pattern and boy cut briefs pattern are also both designed to be sewn without hemming so if it gives you angst, my advice is just to avoid it until you get more confident!

This work-around is especially good for sewing a knit with a curly edge as the double folded binding works as a stabiliser and helps you tame that curl. Here's how I do it:

step one

In this picture I'm sewing a waistband onto a pair of cotton / lycra jersey trousers. The serged edge of the ribbing that you can see is securing the elastic to the inside of the band rather than the two raw edges together, and the pin is keeping the ribbing layers from shifting. The waistband is pinned to the trousers at the quarter-points only, and I'm letting the curl hang over in between.

step two

If my right hand wasn't currently taking this picture, it'd be pulling the ribbing / elastic waistband taut between the first two quarter point (needle and foot down at point one, right hand pinching at point two). Once it is taut and matches the width of the trouser edge, I use my left hand to tug the trousers gently so the weight and tautness of the waistband uncurls the jersey edge until all of the edges are flush.

step three

Now you can start sewing, repeating the process between each of the quarters. This technique will also help you stretch-only-the-waistband-and-not-the-jersey as you sew, which leads to the wavyness that we hate with knits.

I'm hoping to organise all of these knit fabric posts (and my tutorials in general) in a much more obvious / less hidden way but in the meantime:

Tuesday 14 February 2012


From the heart. You better listen.

I saw soooooo many creative and inspiring hand-made cards for Valentine's this year. But with it being half-term, there's no school and therefore no one to make cards for. Good news for me as I get to make zero effort, but also good for the six-year olds of Edinburgh because this is the collaborative effort from me and Jamie*:

valentines card

Australasians, I'm sorry it's too late for you to print these to give to friends. North Americans, there's still time.

*When I say 'collaborative effort', I mean that Jamie drew it, wrote Happy Valentine's Day on it, and went to bed. The rest is my doing.

Monday 13 February 2012


Sew Grateful Fabric Giveaway

It's been ever-so-long since I hosted a giveaway here on the blog. More than a year in fact! If that doesn't cause a scandal in blogging circles, I don't know what will*. Let's rectify that right now...


To celebrate the opening of my fabric shop, and to coincide with Debi's Sew Grateful Week, I'm having a giveaway of one metre of the knit fabric of your choice from my shop.

To enter, leave a comment on this post with anything you want to tell me about. Except if it's mean. Internet high fives to everyone who plays along and makes it interesting. I'll post the fabric anywhere in the world except Antarctica. Bonus entries are awarded if you blog / twitter / Facebook / any other cyber-shenanigans but you'll have to come back to this blog post to leave additional comments or I'll lose track. If you are a mysterious person who doesn't have a clickable link to enable me to stalk find you, leave your email address too. I'll close up comments and randomly pick a winner on (Saturday) 18th of February.

*Actually, I do. Monetisation. Disclosure. The proper terminology for knit bindings. Children's underwear.

Sew Grateful Week

Sunday 12 February 2012


The part of Robert Redford will be played by me. The part of fake refugee will be played by Branson.

I have been very touched by the collective good-will towards my finger. The little twins who live across the street have even been praying for me. Don't worry about me, God. Honestly, I'm fine. So I took my bandage off a couple of days ago. The nurse said four days, but I counted the day that she did it, and the day I took it off, and I stayed up very late on Tuesday and Wednesday so those days counted at 1.5 days. Really, it was very close to four days. Apart from Friday (technically the day I should have taken it off), when I had a Robert Redford in The Natural moment, it is healing really well.

To the people who won't get this reference: Robert Redford is a baseball player with a big game and twenty-year old bullet lodged in his stomach. He's at the plate and hits a home run and everyone is like, 'Just look at that guy getting stuff done he's a goddamn hero running around those bases like that WAIT A MINUTE IS THAT BLOOD COMING THROUGH HIS SHIRT WHAT IS GOING ON'. Me and my poorly-bandaged-by-me finger reenacted this scene fairly accurately except for the exploding overhead lights. I couldn't find a single screencap of this dramatic denouement and I was google image searching things like 'robert redford the natural bandage' and 'robert redford the natural blood'. No screencaps. But just look what does come up under 'robert redford bullet wound'...

My old enemy of yore. Nice try, Branson, you are no way heroic like Robert Redford in the The Natural. In fact, The Daily Mail reports the story as 'The Moment Virgin boss pretended to be a refugee and was 'taken hostage' by armed gunman'. According to the Daily Mail (so by rights I'm calling shenanigans'), this was an official simulation with the United Nations but I'm guessing that faking injuries and pretending to be refugee is not a one-off with this man.

For the sadists who wanted to see what it looked like when I took it off, knock yourselves out. Many apologies to my Flickr contacts who saw the picture without any say in the matter.

Monday 6 February 2012


Whatever, ring finger. I didn't like you anyway.

I've been having more and more orders for Kindle 4 covers so last night I decided it was high time to fashion myself a Ghetto Kindle 4* out of several layers of heavy card and cellotape. So there I was, minding my own business, cutting card with my craft knife. And then disaster strikes: the knife slips and shears the side of my finger clean off. Just when I was about to make it big as an International Hand Model**. Faced with the dilemma of what to do with the semi-finger on the floor (if we had a composter the decision would be obvious), Steven and I threw it in the bin. Friend Sarah: I'm telling you right now that if you are called to the refuse facility on official police business because someone has found a portion of a finger, don't be alarmed. We hot-footed it up to our local A&E, only to find it was closed because the genteel folk of North Edinburgh don't get up to shenanigans after 9pm. Home again, I roused retired-pharmacist neighbour and made him clean and dress it.


Once the local folk were allowed to injure themselves again (9am this morning), we made it back to A&E for some judgement and chastisement for not trekking it across the city last night to the open hospital, casual prodding of open wounds, and a less-than-lovingly administered tetanus shot***. But the worst thing, they made me get a divorce:

finger 001

Okay, so technically they made me drag two wedding rings over a swollen mess. But it looks like I've had a divorce. So other than the pain and risk of infection, I now have to contend with people hitting on me all day long****.

To cut a long story short, I'm finding out all the things my left ring finger used to do without protesting. Turns out it's quite a lot, particularly as the ring finger tends to tag along with whatever the other fingers want to do. I am continuing to work, but my pace has slowed a bit due to Minding the Finger. Everyone who ordered before the weekend will be shipped tomorrow morning (they actually turned the light off as I stepped into the post office tonight because my finger took one minute too long packaging things up). Orders that came in over the weekend will be completed and sent within a couple of days.

*Ghetto Kindle: all the dimensions of a real Kindle but none of the content.
** Not technically true although I'm pretty sure scouts have been checking out all the tutes with my hands in them.
*** Big mo-fo bruise already.
****Because in my mind that probably happened a lot when I used to be single.

Saturday 4 February 2012


Know Your Knits. Or My Knits. Either. Both.

Isn't it funny that I was so focused on all the work that goes into Launching the Business as the end-goal that I forgot that once launched that's when the real hard work starts? So funny. The good news: I'm drowning in orders. The bad news: I'm drowning in orders. The best kind of drowning.

know your knits

Anyway, I wanted to talk a bit about fabric. Specifically, knit fabric. And even more specifically, the knit fabrics in my shop. I know that some of you are still scared of sewing with knits (and you very kindly told me all the reasons why) but knits are not as intimidating as their reputation. In fact, they're a real delight to sew. I'm planning a lot of informational / instructional / tutorial posts about sewing with knits but first let me tell you a bit about some different types and the pros and cons of each.



These are the three 100% cotton interlocks currently in my shop. Interlock is the perfect fabric for those who are just starting to dabble with knits because they are reasonably thick and don't curl at all when cut:

interlock cut edge

Interlock is pretty stable so provided you're following the basic rules of sewing with knits (correct needle, low pressure on the presser foot, don't stretch while sewing) it doesn't wave or bobble.

There's really no downside to sewing with these interlocks, they're a dream (and in particular a fantastic beginner's fabric). They are very soft and perfect for things that will be in regular contact with small bodies. However, if you want to be picky and demand a con, they are all directional prints so there is greater fabric wastage when you cut your pattern.

Good for: T-shirts, easy fit trousers, rompers, blankets, hats, bibs, burb clothes, bedding

Not so good for: Leggings or form-fitting designs that rely on stretch recovery to keep their intended shape.

Cotton / Lycra Jersey:


These fabrics are predominately cotton but with the added element of lycra. They are still soft and appropriate for apparel, but with the added benefit of extra stretch recovery. There are different weights of cotton and cotton / lycra jersey, but as a general rule the heavier weights will be easier to sew. The ones in my shop are medium weight, ten thousand times easier to sew than tissue jersey but not as straight-forward as interlock. The downside:

jersey cut edge

Edges that naturally curl when cut. As an example, here is a jersey cut edge alongside a bamboo interlock and cotton interlock cut edge:

comparison cut edges

I can see some of you physically blanch at the thought of curly edges but there are lots of things you can do to make sewing these a breeze. Do not fret, I'll post a lot of resources about this soon.

Good for: General apparel plus form-fitting designs like leggings, underwear, skinny tops etc where stretch recovery is important to maintain the intended shape
Not so good for: Non-apparel like bedding or blankets as you'd prefer the softness of interlock

Bamboo Interlock:

bamboo interlock

In essense, these two are interlocks so all the previous good points apply. Nice and thick, stable, no curling edge:

bamboo cut edge

Fantastic fabric for beginners. But these fabrics are also extra special in that they are a blend of organic cotton and bamboo viscose. The feel is soft, but also quite slinky, and the bamboo viscose means that there is greater stretch recovery than 100% cotton interlock. It's a combination of the best bits of interlock and jersey: softness / stability and stretch recovery.

If I had to pick a downside, like the interlock prints these are also directional so there will be some wastage when cutting your pattern, especially if you are print matching.

Good for: General apparel plus form-fitting designs like leggings, underwear, skinny tops etc where stretch recovery is important to maintain the intended shape
Not so good for: Nothing. There isn't a single thing these wouldn't be good for.


There we go then, a basic introduction to knits. Obviously, these are specific to my actual shop but the tenets are the same no matter where you are shopping. In my humble opinion, interlocks are the best introduction to knits that you can find. If you are not scared of knits through experience or bravado, cotton / lycra jersey is fantastic for the extra level of stretch recovery.

As before, I embrace all of your angst about knit sewing and aim to sooth. Leave a comment if there's a particular concern and I'll do my best to help!

EDITED TO ADD: Now here's Part Two with organic cotton jersey and velour added to the mix.

Wednesday 1 February 2012


The Big Reveal of Top Secretness

Turquoise cloud trousers by me. Sublime gorgeousness courtesy of Kat.

I could never be a Secret Agent, it's too hard. The culmination of nearly a year's information-gathering, form-filing, Google-Translating, VAT-registering, stealth-sewing, photo-editing mayhem is ready to be shared. What's new with me?

Big Reveal clothes

Oh, you know, just a whole new clothing range... What else, you ask?

Big Reveal fabrics

A Scandi fabric shop!

Stayed tuned for more information over the next couple of days, but for now if I don't get out of this computer chair I'm going to be hospitalised.