Tag Archives: fashion

I may be gone sometime…

11 Apr


Now I’ve written this title, I’m wondering whether alluding to the last known words of a fearless explorer facing certain death is entirely in good taste. Ah well.

Anyway, I have taken possession of The Sewing Machine (hurrah!) so forgive me if I hibernate a little.

I combined the trip with a 2 hour visit to Bath’s amazing Victoria Park playground to keep the wee girl happy, so I didn’t feel too guilty when I then carted her along to Husqvarna Studio to pick up my Janome XL601, complete with add-on quilting package (swoon).

The first thing I did (OK, the first thing, after wrestling with the bobbin winder and wrangling with the automatic needle threader), was to sew some ‘proper’ one-step buttonholes onto Storm’s Puppet Show dress.

I practised a lot first, which was just as well. Ahem. The best bit was when I tried to start a buttonhole with the feeddogs down, thus zig-zagging on the spot for several seconds before realisation hit, which led to me having to practically cut out the bobbin. Duh.


I got the hang of it in the end. They aren’t perfect, but a damn sight quicker, and neater than any I’ve sewn by hand.


The Machine is not top of the range by any stretch, but it has a few cute embroidery stitches, and I particularly like the one you can use to create a scalloped hem. Sweet!


I feel nervous about getting rid of my old heavy-duty machine, which mum taught me to sew on, and I’ve had about 20 years. But I suspect a minimalist is not allowed two sewing machines by any stretch. Uh oh.


Buttons. And a Lisette pattern review (Simplicity 2211)

2 Apr

Do you like buttons? Me, I LOVE me some buttons.


I am quite restrained when it comes to collecting them. For ages my button collection fitted in an old Altoids tin. There are a few too many now to get in the tin, but I try to keep it reined in.

This week though, was time for a button splurge. After much procrastinating (waaaaaay too much stocking stitch for my liking) I finished my Chickadee cardigan this weekend.


I’d already lined up some stunning buttons from The Makery Emporium, which has become my go to place for pretty Japanese painted wooden buttons. I bought nine of these large chintzy ones..


…and also, some tiny ones with tropical looking orange flowers, to decorate a blouse I just finished in time for our mini heatwave.


The blouse is by Lisette for Simplicity (pattern 2211, view E) and this was a dry run for some Liberty Tana Lawn which was too perfect to risk on a first attempt. It’s just as well I did the dry run – I managed to sew the collar on inside out (duh) and had to cut it off and bodge the neckline.

And then the sleeves turned out to be smaller than the armholes, which made it kind of hard to gather them in, as per the pattern – definitely a grading error as I followed all the seam allowances exactly. Luckily my lovely repro feedsack fabric was 130cm wide, not the standard 115cm, which meant I had a little spare, so I recut a new pair of sleeves two sizes larger and used those.



Shame about the ‘wasted’ fabric. It’ll go into a quilt one day. The blouse only needs a metre of 150cm wide fabric if you fancy making it (a little more if you use quilting width).

I do have some glorious vintage glass buttons, which I bought at the first Knit Nation. They are from L Nichols, a company set up by the daughter of buttonmaker Lionel Nichols to sell off her huge collection of buttons he made in his lifetime. She releases them in collections a couple of times a year. Each set is totally unique and priced accordingly. Ahem.


Nearly two years on, they still haven’t found their perfect project. They nearly went on the feedsack shirt, but it just wasn’t quite right.

Their time will come…

One hour project: Clothkits apple doorstop

8 Mar

Ooo, hello Clothkits. What a blast from the past!


As a child I was usually dressed in either:

a) Something my mother had sewn

b) Something my aunt had designed

c) Something from a jumble sale

d) Something from Clothkits, which my mother had sewn

Once my mum made me a dress by tracing a Clothkits pattern onto an old curtain she’d got from a jumble sale for about 15p, thus fulfilling options a), c) and d) all in one garment.

Clothkits died a death in the 80s, but it’s back. BACK! And just as brilliant.

It now has yummy artists like Rob Ryan, Emily Peacock, and Echino Designs (lovely Japanese fabric designer) on board, and has revived some old favourites (I think my brother had this coat) and created some new classics.

Anyway, when I saw their stand at Ally Pally in the autumn I couldn’t resist one of their lovely apple doorstops (minimalism alert – we actually did need a second doorstop in addition to The Squirrel). Especially as they were just £5 (show offer – nice!).


Of course, the kit has since languished in a cupboard for a few months, but when I finally got it out to make it took me less than an hour from start to finish. Great for a present.

Foolishly I forgot to trace the pieces before I cut them, (the nice lady on the Clothkits stand told me everyone does this) but actually the pattern is very simple – four triangles with the point chopped off, a square for the bottom, and a handle.

And, oooo, that lovely Clothkits babycord. Such great fabric (iron it upside down to avoid squashing it).


Clothkits, welcome back (OK, I know it’s been a few years). You guys rock!


Love your buttons, change your buttons

14 Feb

Cheap clothes = nasty buttons. Sad but true.

My cheap clothes come from charity shops, so they’re cheap for a different reason, but often they still can’t escape the nasty button curse. Evidence, if you will…


Yes this top is a little bobbly, but I love it, and it’s got loads of wear left.

Quick fix.


Get an AMAZING button, like this one (I wish I could remember where it’s from. I still have one left – try The Button Queen for similar).

Carefully cut off the old button. You’ll probably find the buttonhole is slightly the wrong size for your new button, so cut the hole a millimetre at a time (on the inner edge of the garment) or sew it up a little (on the outer edge of the garment). Both these fixes will move the button away from the garment edge. Maybe sew around the edge of the buttonhole for good measure to neaten it.

(Handsewn button holes are way prettier than factory sewn ones)

Sew on your new button, and finish by winding the thread around the bottom of the button, and fasten off.


This will raise the button from the surface of the garment slightly, so it’ll sit nicer.

Stand back and admire your lovely new garment. A nice button will make you happier if you are wearing it, than if it’s in a button jar.

I am obsessed with buttonholes and buttons at the mo, as I’ve just written all about them for the next issue of The Knitter  – it hits the shops on February 21 if you need to know more…

Oooooo, new design in The Knitter!

31 Aug

The latest issue of The Knitter is out and I’m super chuffed – my design is on the cover!

Here it is…

It’s knitted in Rowan Felted Tweed and Kidsilk Haze and is called Rothko.

In all good newsagents as of Monday. Hurrah!

Thanks to Frances, who did such a splendid job of knitting it, and Belinda and Sarah, who helped with the first and second drafts, when I couldn’t see the wood for the trees…

Designer profile: Sarah Hatton

26 Aug

A slight twist on Fabulous Pattern Friday this week.

Last week I wrote my weekly FPF post for The Knitter, about Sarah Hatton’s fabulous Classic Cardigan and I was going to do a similar version here, but I felt like that wouldn’t be doing her justice.

So here are my top 5 favourite SH patterns. Drumroll please!

Classic cardigan/ SarahHatton.com

This is from Sarah’s website, which she launched after going freelance. Don’t you just dig that fabric trim?

Honeysuckle/ Rowan 45

via knitrowan.com

Honeysuckle is also available in The Knitter, issue 7 and it’s my personal favourite, knitted in Rowan Kidsilk Haze. If you’re going to make it, it’s worth considering knitting it in the round rather than flat, to avoid having to seam it.

Wallis/ Rowan 38

Wallis sweater

Batwings rock. don’t they? This one has a simple lace pattern and a great drape. Thanks to JadeBlade for letting me use her fab pic.

Patti/ Rowan Studio 1

via knitrowan.com

How cute is this? It’s in Felted Tweed DK, which has got to be one of my favourite yarns ever. OK, those pleats mean a lot of fabric, ergo a LOT of knitting. But totally worth it. Plus, you can download the pattern for free from the Rowan website. Hurrah!

Embrace/ Rowan Studio 14

I love Fair Isle like you wouldn’t believe, and this is just perfect; reminiscent of all those 40s Fair Isle yoked twinsets, but with a totally modern shape. I couldn’t find a ‘free’ pic of this, so here’s a link to the loveliest version of it I’ve ever seen.

Which is your favourite Sarah Hatton design? Recommendations please!

Felt badge making. Literally hearting it.

29 Jul


Working for the lovely peeps at The Makery is truly ace.

Not only do I get to dream up classes to teach even more people how to knit, crochet and sew (hurrah!) I also get to hang out at The Makery workshop in Bath. It’s a truly delightful space, with shelves overflowing with fabric, ribbon, buttons and felt.

But sometimes I need to talk to The Makery’s owner Kate, quickly, so I pop into The Makery Emporium instead, as it’s closer to the offices of The Knitter, where I have my ‘proper’ job.

Last week I swung by Bath’s best haberdashery to discuss a sewing workshop, and somehow left with three needle-felted hearts, and a mini square of thick grey organic felt too. Total cost £2.72 (with my tutor discount – yay!)

It was the perfect mini project. That evening I sat down with the husband, a big bowl of salty popcorn, and a good film, and by bedtime I had a new (giant) badge! I can’t really call it a brooch, as it’s not exactly ladylike in proportion…


As well as my Makery goodies, I added a few cute buttons, and finished the edge with blanket stitch in some amazing handspun wool I bought from Two Sisters Stringworks on Etsy.

OK, it didn’t exactly reduce my burgeoning to-do list, but a quick easy project was just the treat I needed before wading back in to the ol’ pattern spreadsheets. Happy times!