Monday 30 April 2012


Capturing Childhood

image courtesy of Capturing Childhood 

As I talk about in constant, tedious detail, I struggle with photography. With product shots, it might take me a hundred shots to get a handful that are acceptable. But at least product shots are repeatable; the clothes come out on another day and I try to do better. For me, the most frustrating aspect of taking sub-standard pictures is when I'm using the camera for personal and not business use. Special events, impromptu moments, holidays, and just spending time together as a family are the most important things for me to capture and I've had a lot of heartache when I've looked back on my pics.  Every single time this happens, I pester my friend Kat.  'Why does this happen?!', I whine on Twitter.  'What is going on?!', I post on her facebook wall.  'I have attached an album of terrible pictures for you to explain', I email.

Finally, Kat got so sick of me* that she collaborated with another fantastic photographer named Kat and together they designed a e-course specifically for capturing the everyday moments of having kids.  It's a six week module with a group of people all learning at the same time through weekly blog posts, assignments and plenty of scope to engage with and support each other.  And here's the video:

It made me a little bit tearful...... anyone else? Just me then.

So now I'm all signed up** and raring to go.  I'm really looking forward to learning heaps of things.  Kat's really looking forward to me not pestering her.  If you want to find out more, clickety click.

*This may not technically be true. I am very irritating though.
** This is not in any way a sponsored post and I gladly paid the full rate!

Sunday 29 April 2012


This just in... Little Red

An amazing new fabric arrived yesterday... 

little red riding hood full

A riotous scene featuring a blythely skipping Little Red Riding Hood, her something-is-not-quite-right grandma, the leering wolf, ubiquitous foxes and all manner of woodland flora and fauna.

little red riding hood close

It's another buttery soft organic cotton jersey that is as dreamy to gaze upon as it is to sew.  Snap it up here before I change my mind and hoard it.

Saturday 28 April 2012


The Cityscape Jumpsuit

city jumpsuit close

I didn't get a huge amount of fabric when we were last in the States, but I did pick of three colourways of Lizzy House city scenes.  I mean, who can resist?  Other people, probably.

city jumpsuit shorts

There have been rumours there is a season called 'summer', with a warming yellow orb in the sky so it is possible to have bare arms and legs. 

city jumpsuit top

This so-called 'summer' happens in America and some other countries I believe. 

city jumpsuit full

You can also take pictures outdoors there.

Thursday 26 April 2012


The Androgynist

A dolman top for the boy and the jury is still out, the judge is getting impatient, and it might just end in a mistrial.

stripey dolman TEXT

The hesitant model's immediate reaction was that it was 'for girls', but when questioned it was blamed on the fabric rather than the style.

stripey dolman boy side

The quite-conservative husband thought it was fine for boys.

stripey dolman boy full

The nothing-if-not-predictable Maia wished this top was hers.  Which it might be.

stripey dolman urbane

And wishy-washy ol' me think it would probably be fine for boys, although if in doubt it could be masculinised with an applique, a more boy-centric print, or perhaps the subtitution of a normal hem for the waistband.

stripey dolman orton

What say you:  A-okay or pre-book therapy?

Bonus topic of conversation: How much does everyone love Picmonkey?  I like it even more than Picnik!  Last two pictures have filters on them. Urbane and Orton if you're a naturally curious person.

Monday 23 April 2012


Dolman Cool Cat

dolman cool cat top 3

It's a busy time of the year for sew-alongs*!  Right on the back of the Spring Top Sewalong is Elsie Marley's Kid's Clothes Week.  Theoretically I should be able to participate in this one more, as I sew kids clothes for a living and all.

dolman cool cat top 6

So first up is this dolman top, a pattern that I drafted last summer, used precisely once, and then bunged in my to-do pattern pile. My, my, the girl has certainly grown in a year.  Using the same size (which I remembered as being too big), this top has come up a bit small.

dolman cool cat top 4

It's that belly / bum double whammy. As always.

dolman cool cat top 1

Until a couple of hours ago, I thought of a dolman style tee as being a pattern for the girls but now that I've seen it on I think it'd be cute on boys too.  What do you think, mums-of-boys and people-with-opinions?

*I'm actually fomenting plans for my very own sew-along and the pattern I have in mind is for girls.  If there's enough dissent by disgruntled boy-sewers, I'll rethink though. Speak now or forever hold your peace!

Sunday 22 April 2012


The Spring is Cruel Top

Turquoise cloud print tshirt

Despite my best intentions to participate more in the Spring Top Sewalong over on Made by Rae, the pool closes in a couple of hours and (just like last year) I have a single last-minute entry.  Next year, right?

Turquoise cloud print tshirt side

I get pretty jealous of all these lovely lightweight and / or sleeveless entries by people who live in less cruel climates.  Right after these pictures were taken my arms got frostbite, gangrenous and then fell off. Continuity-buffs, you will also note that my hair got be-ponytailed during the picture taking. This was due to extreme wind whipping my hair across my face and interfering with that soul-searching look I am sending you through your computers.

Turquoise cloud print tshirt full

But nothing says Scottish spring more than inappropriate attire and clouds, so this top gets two ticks for both style and theme.

PS. Thanks so much for all your sweet comments on my Missoni dress. I would have responded to everyone individually but I was too busy blushing.

Saturday 21 April 2012


The Mission Impossible Missoni Frock

missoni frock full

After much procrastination and angsting, I finally cut into the Missoni fabric on Thursday to make my dress. For Friday.  I am nothing if not predictable in my last-minute ways.  Unfortunately the cutting was disastrous.  I thought it would be easier to cut on the fold so I painstakely matched all the zig-zags up the side seam, but when I unfolded it must have been off grain as the curves on the left side bared little resemblence to the curves on the right.  So I had to true up the sides, which inevitablely threw off the zig-zag matching.

missoni dress side

And never the twain shall meet.  The loose-weave sweater knit was also so unlike any fabric I've ever sewn (or ever will again to be honest) that it needed mahoosive fitting adjustments. Three times I had to take it in and all the curves that followed my measurements turned out to be unneccessary.  That'll teach me to make my muslin out of basically a polar opposite fabric*.  In all seriousness, though, 97% of party-goers would not have noticed the abysmmal pattern matching.  I must learn to accept compliments graciously rather than saying things like 'But just look at how the zig-zags are so unmatched!'**.

missoni dress back

I kept the natural zig-zag edging at the bottom after tidying up all of the dangling yarn tails. 

Steven and I full

And here is my supremely handsome husband.  The End.

*It probably won't.
** I probably won't.

Friday 20 April 2012


Ask and you shall receive. Especially if you ask to be a loser.

Pictured: winners    Not pictured: me

It's that time of the year again when the MAD Blog Awards come around and I swither over whether to be gauche and mention it.  Well, today is the last day to nominate and I figure that because I haven't bombarded everyone with an all-encompassing Facebook / Twitter / newsletter / mail-merge / leaflet-drop-from-a-biplane campaign for noms, I'm allowed to be a teeny bit gauche. 

There are a bajillion categories*; many which I am automatically excluded from because of subject matter, and some of which I would receive only ironic votes but if you are so inclined I would really appreciate votes for Best Craft Blog and Best Small Business blog.  You don't have to vote for every category (as I didn't purely because I don't read blogs like that or I wasn't sure exactly what they even meant) but you do have to vote for a Blog of the Year to access the other categories.  If you're struggling for a Blog of the Year vote, I voted for my friend Kat at Housewife Confidential as she could by rights win 75% of the individual categories and is an all-round good egg.  Click the button below to nominate!

 MAD Blog Awards 2012

*MAD Blog Post of the Year, Best Family Travel Blog, Best MAD Baby Blog, Best MAD Blog Photography, Best MAD Blog Writer, Best MAD Craft Blog, Best MAD Blog for Family Fun, Best MAD Blog Family Life, Best MAD Food Blog, Best MAD Home Blog, Best MAD Schooldays Blog, Best MAD Small Business Blog, Best MAD Fashion Blog, Best MAD Thrifty Blog, Best New MAD Blog, Best Pregnancy Blog, Most Helpful MAD Blogger, Most Inspirational MAD Blog, Most Innovative MAD Blog

Wednesday 18 April 2012


Robots in disguise. As kung fu masters.

robot shirt 2
Benign-ness is obviously a trait passed on from the maternal side

If I didn't know better, I'd think that someone had been watching too much America's Next Top Model with all these editorial shoots we've been having.

robot shirt 5

Actually, it's more like: too much Power Rangers.

robot shirt 9

Which by definition is any Power Rangers.  Maybe they (and yes, Maia has been bitten by the Power Rangers bug too) are watching it ironically? 

robot shirt 13

The things we tell ourselves to make it feel better.

NB for people who are here for technical fabric information and not Power Rangers (ie everyone): this is just about the nicest knit in the world to sew.  Soft yet firm, stable, very little curling of edges, and perfectly on grain.  Non-sewers, awesome tee is this way.

Tuesday 17 April 2012


The Stripey Missoni Muslin

missoni muslin full

It's down to the wire here, with only three sewing sleeps until the soirree and I'm still swithering about cutting into my Missoni fabric.  The first draft and mock-up over the weekend was, shall we say... less than successful.  Which is a particular shame as I used the fabric I intended for the lining fabric.

missoni muslin neck and sleeve

Most of the fitting issues from the never-to-be-shared muslin one were through the upper bust and arms.  The dolman sleeves were too tight and pulled the neckline wider than it should have been, baring my bra straps.  And my shoulders. 

missoni muslin back

It was also too tight across my hips and upper thighs so I added some extra ease.  Version one went straight down from my hips; stripey version two tapers a little bit.

missoni muslin side

The side view is still causing me angst as the bosoms are being smashed pretty flat.  I am hoping that this is because the stripey fabric has very little stretch to it.  It also feels kind of nasty, in case you're wondering.  I suspect it's acrylic.

missoni muslin belted

And finally with a belt, because if I do make the Missoni, it'll probably be belted.  And at least three inches longer.  Muslin one was not this hootchy, I'm blaming the fabric again.

Proceed with caution or mission: abort?

Sunday 15 April 2012


Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair

maia haircut

Guess who got eight inches shorn off their hair?

NB. It looks no shorter.

Friday 13 April 2012


The unintended consequences of being tidy

I had an epic five hour cull / clean / organise of our bedroom today and look what I found under the bed!

missoni detail

Before you think I am so rich and privileged that I could forgot I had genuine Missoni fabric under the bed, it was in a vacuum pack. After coveting it hardcore over a long period of time, when a discount code popped up last summer I bought it right up.  It should have been about £35 a metre! Of course, about two days after buying this spendy fabric Missoni collaborated with Target and I felt marginally jaded.  Day-dreams of people thinking that I was wearing a designer dress were replaced with thoughts of people thinking I was wearing a Target dress.  Which is absolutely fine, before anyone says 'Hey you jerk, I wear Target dresses.' It just didn't tally with my year-long covetfest.  So half through petulance and half through not knowing what to do with it, I stashed it away safely.

missoni selvage

But just look at those pretty colours.  I can't stay mad at those zigzags. Or that selvage (although I reserve the right to get mad if I attempt to keep them and have to hand-sew them to massively tidy them up). 

And now we have a Plan C* for the party (in six sewing sleeps), and that is to use the Missoni for something simple and sheathy like this:

Source Pinterest

It's a sweater knit with enough stretch that I shouldn't have to resort to zippers, but the weave is loose enough that it should probably be lined.

Today's burning question:  Best plan ever or waste of semi-precious horded fabric?
Bonus points: If I had this fabric I would ___________.

*Plan A: make a Macaronesque dress, Plan B was the much less stupid 'wear one I already have'

Thursday 12 April 2012


Tartans and Macarons

Ever wonder what fifty tartan sashes look like all stacked up? Well, wonder no longer:

fifty tartan sashes

Steven's aunt and uncle are having a very swish anniversary party next weekend and I was commissioned to sew up fifty sashes for the ceilidh dancing.  I definitely brushed up on my cutting in a straight line, sewing in a straight line, and ironing skillz.  Oh dear god, the ironing.

With seven sewing days to go, I'm still considering making my dress.  And would you believe I'm thinking about revisiting the abortive Macaron?  That's right, this one:

To augment the process I'm thinking I could probably Frankenpattern it with my self-drafted posh dress pattern:

The bodice and waistband are already well fitted (including the eleventy bust darts), but I'd have to re-draw the neckline.  And fabric yardage constraints might mean I will have to un-Macaron the skirt too. So really I guess I would be channelling the spirit of the Macaron whilst doing the hard drafting work myself.

What say you- a plan or a folly?

**Addendum: Actually I could just wear the dress pictured above but that lacks the last-minute pathos and panic that I have grown accustomed to.

Monday 9 April 2012


Adventures in negative ease

orange top full

After taking some time to mull over your most helpful advice on how to remove the drag lines from my Renfrew shirts, I concluded that if you don't want any wrinkles and pulls in a knit shirt, it needs to be tight. So I went down even smaller than size zero (although I stuck with 8 at the bust for the front piece), changed the fit through the shoulders and sleeves, and moved the neckline down.

orange top side

In short, I pretty much un-Renfrewed it.

orange top full 2

In no particular order, here are some things we're going to pretend never happened:
  • that I made a top out of this fabric
  • that I'm trying it on with red jeans
  • that I have a glaringly obvious dark coloured bra on
  • that there's all that detritus in the background
  • that my camera is still taking consistently terrible pictures

The good news is that I removed the drag lines. The bad news is that it's hello-police-I'd-like-to-report-an-indecent-exposure tight. Should I cut into precious fabric or make another muslin (with the changes you are going to tell me to make)?

Sunday 8 April 2012


Happy Easter

happy easter

Hope everyone is enjoying their Easter, be it with chocolate eggs or otherwise.

Friday 6 April 2012


International Day of Anticlimax

Well, I have to say that you guys have really upped your sneakiness this year. Last year I had 54 delurkers, this year a mere 19, despite an increase of 161% in my overall visitors. This leads me to conclude that not only are all the extra readers I've picked up this year sneaky, but that their sneakiness has somehow affected my long-term readers. Although I am sad that you just like me less than last year not to have reached the giddy heights of 2011, I keep reminding myself that:
  • It is quality not quantity that matters. This was an excellent crop of delurkers.
  • Most likely the majority of you gave up delurking for Lent.
Because graphs are fun, let's break down the blog visitors over the last twenty four hours:

According to Google Analytics, I had 620 unique visitors since yesterday's post. Regular commenters who continue to indulge my dorkiness are sneaky like a cat (i.e. just want to poop outside), the more elusive semi-sneaky raccoons are quite possibly sneaky but on this occasion magnanimous, and the brave squirrelly souls who genuinely delurked are sneaky but obliging. Visitors specifically to the International Day of Delurking post or to my general blog address who did not comment (46%!) are sneaky like almiqui, which have an inner sneakiness so profound that they successfully convinced the world they were extinct. That leaves the 44% of visitors who were to busy looking through my tutorials to partake in shenanigans, and 4% of visitors who are sketchy and came in via questionable search terms. I'm giving the side-eye to you, person who googled 'a girl pooping herself'.

Thursday 5 April 2012


International Day of Delurking - 2012 edition

The absolute worst thing about being bed-ridden over the weekend was missing the anniversary of International Day of Delurking, my favourite event from last year. It is the day that we celebrate the army of readers-but-not-commenters, and invite them to say hello. Now, enticing a lurker out of their lurkiness (or even their Reader of choice) is never easy but I have recently disabled word verification to ease commenting, and I've prepared a whole new litmus test of my blog visitors' relative sneakiness. Horses, pandas and alligators are so 2011.

Google Image Search declares this cat the most sneaky animal in the world. Google, adjust your algorithms as this cat is not at all sneaky, but forlorn. Ironically, if he was allowed to poop outside, he'd probably be heaps more sneaky as he'd have to find places to do his business without the neighbours getting angry. On International Day of Delurking, the role of Obviously-Not-Sneaky-Cat is played by the regular commenters. Substitute a desire to poop outside with 'comment regularly and be celebrated for it' and we have a direct match.

Now we are into the grey area: the creatures that are allegedly sneaky but Google Image results do not prove beyond a doubt. Occasional commenters who would really prefer to lurk (but might have a question for me), today you play the role of Possibly-Sneaky-Raccoon. For photo-ops and meal-sharing you put on a brave face to hide your sneakiness but your true nature is the raccoon at the back.

At last, we have Legitimately-Sneaky-Squirrel who waits for you to be so preoccupied with capturing the perfect shot with your camera that you won't notice when he sneaks up onto your backpack. With the preponderance of photo-taking angst from me this year, all we need to do is substitute backpack for 'blog' and Sneaky Squirrel becomes the perfect metaphor for Kitschy Coo lurkers. Don't fret, lurkers, I've noticed you on my backpack and love you just the same.

Well, I hope I've done enough anthropomorphising to land me some comments. Regular commenters, do you relate to Not-So-Sneaky-Cat? Occasional commenters, which of the five raccoons best encompasses your nature (or are you best suited to 'raccoon not pictured)? Uber-lurkers, I am giving you one more bonus conversation starter:

The almiqui: super sneaky or super scary? Discuss.