Tag Archives: stashbuster

Tallulah Pattern Review – the Jubilee Dress

24 May

When I was a stroppy teenager the thought of the Royal Family made me MAD. It’s wonderful to be a lot older and able to embrace my inner hypocrite!

While most of the time I’m still not that keen on our rather odd ‘rulers’ I am enjoying the national spirit that seems to have taken over this summer.

This week I saw the Olympic torch and finished Storm’s Jubilee dress. How terribly patriotic!


This sweet halterneck was meant to be one of two dresses for her birthday, but it is sweltering at the moment so I just had to give it to her straight away.

Tallulah is dress number 2 in Jenifer Paganelli’s lovely Girls World pattern book  and is a simple breezy sundress. Perfect for a hot summer’s day (although you could always put a little shirt underneath it.


The fabric is Sweetwater for Moda – Reunion Vanilla Baby’s Bunting and had sold out at Country Threads, when I went back to buy more for the lining.

It’s an American design, but it really is like it was made for this super-British summer – shame they didn’t do a red colourway too.

Anyway, of course, I didn’t need the extra bit after all. What IS it with pattern allowances? The pattern said 1.1m of fabric and 35cm of lining. I had just 1m of fabric total and was left with plenty over. Eyeroll.

This is a very simple dress, and I really like the shape of it. Like the Mary’s Sash Dress from the same book, the pieces all seemed to fit well, although the front piece was longer than the back so I had to trim that at the end. My only mod was a double seam around the bottom hem and side vents to make it super neat.

After taking her lunch in her paddling pool, Storm retired upstairs to get out of the sun for a little jam session and some pictures.

She recently broke one of my guitar strings from playing too hard. She really gets into it…



Is it just me, or is this pure Elvis?!


OK, self indulgence over.

Oh yeah, while I’m here, remember the Ma’am Mat?


I couldn’t resist. I swear it tastes better. Happy almost Jubilee!

Poorly girl dress: Oliver + S Puppet Show pattern review

21 Mar

Oh hello! Long time no speak! Sorry for my rather extended absence. Storm has had croup, which was Not Good, but luckily she wasn’t poorly for too long.

Anyway, to cheer up my poorly girl I made her a dress. It’s the longer version of the tunic from Oliver + S Puppet Show pattern and I am very pleased with it.


I’ve not used one of their designs before, and I was pretty impressed. Quite a few of the markings on the paper pattern weren’t mentioned in the instructions, but I could figure out what they were for so, no matter.


The finished result is very neat (OK, neat for me) and I love the collar especially. I used some polka dot Lecien fabric and a smidge of Amy Butler I got as a remnant (I have no idea what it is – sorry).


The pattern did call for way more fabric than I actually needed, which I found a bit odd, but I am a canny cutter, and I didn’t bother with the bias trim for the edging, opting to cover up my slightly, erm, relaxed hemming with pretty velvet ric-rac instead.

I made the size for a 5 year old. It’s a bit big but she will grow into it (and boy is she growing!)

Ta dah!


I also have the Oliver + S Jump Rope dress pattern  so that might be next (once I’ve finished a couple of designs for actual work, ahem).

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!


One hour project: Easy ironing board cover

4 Mar

Ironing bites, doesn’t it? I have a semi-official, ‘no buying clothes that need ironing’ rule, which means that apart from the occasional shirt, I don’t have to iron.

But when it comes to sewing, I’m the opposite. I iron A LOT. If you want to sew anything, then your iron is your friend.

A firm hand with a steam iron can fix a wonky seam, square a quilt piece and dry that fabric you forgot to wash but are desperate to cut out, like NOW.

My ironing board has seen better days and recently has been leaving a grid like pattern when I turn the temperature up, so I realised it needed re-padding and recovering.

Probably something to do with this…


Happily, this is a very easy job.

Here’s how.

1) Take off your old ironing board cover. Commercial covers are usually held on by cord (cheaper than elastic), so look underneath and you’ll find a fastening like this:


2) Unwind the fastener and remove the cover. You’ll find a layer of foam or wadding.


3) Take that off, and place it on top of your chosen padding. I’m using an old towel, but left over quilt wadding works well too. Draw around the original padding, closely, using dressmaker’s chalk (or a felt pen if you haven’t got that).


4) Cut it out. Now lay it ON TOP of the original foam (the more padding the better). Trim it to match if it doesn’t fit.


5) Now place the new padding on your chosen cover fabric. I’m using a mid-weight home furnishing cotton, by Amy Butler, but any mid-weight smooth cotton is fine. This piece just happened to be the right size and needed using.


6) Draw around your padding, leaving a 3in/7.5cm seam.


7) You can finish the edging with zig-zag stitching or an overlocker, or, use pinking shears – the easiest option (especially if you remember to use them to cut out with, unlike me).


8) Fold over a 1in/ 2.5cm seam and pin. You will need to make small pleats at the corners. Make sure they all go the same way, as this will make threading through the elastic (see next step) much easier.


9) Sew a straight seam around this edging, making sure it’s wide enough for your elastic (I used 0.5cm elastic) and leaving a 1in gap in the seam.

10) Attach the elastic to a medium safety pin and use that to push through the gap, and feed the elastic around. This is the fiddly bit. Pin the other end of the elastic to the fabric so that the tail doesn’t disappear into the casing.


11) When you’ve threaded it all the way around, tie a very tight reef knot in your elastic and push the knot into the opening. Overstitch the gap and make sure the ruffling caused by the elastic is pretty even. But remember, it won’t show!


12) Return the various items to the ironing board in this order: original foam, new padding, original cover, new cover.

13) Voila!
Your ironing board is as good as new, and you’ll get a pristine finish every time you use it. Not that you I’m saying you should


Secret birthday project #3: Storm’s new dress

29 Feb


Being almost four years old is pretty tough when it’s someone else’s birthday.

My brothers share the same birth date, but were born two years apart, and I know it was often hard on them to have to share that special day whrn they were little. But even worse when it’s not your birthday AT ALL, but someone else’s.

With my dad’s 65th luncheon, and one of Storm’s little friends’ birthday parties the day after, I knew my wee girl might find last weekend tough, so I made her a special dress to wear to both events.

It’s from Jennifer Paganelli’s (of Sis Boom fabrics) wonderful Girl’s World pattern book, which is a mini treasure trove of girly treats – dresses, flowery hairbands, bags, and banners.

Storm got the first dress in the book – Mary’s Sash Dress, made up in an Amy Butler Love print I bought as a 2m remnant from Get Knitted a while ago. She picked it out of my fabric stash one afternoon, half-wrapped it around her and asked me to ‘knit her’ a dress with it. I was surprised she chose such a bold (non-pink) print but I jumped at the chance.

I used up almost all the fabric (the skirt is suitably twirly, and the sash is v extravagant), and added some pom-pom trim, just for fun. It was lovely seeing her dressed up all weekend, and every stitch filled me with joy.


If you’re new to sewing, this book is great, as the patterns are really simple and every single step is explained.

The dress took me a couple of evenings and I’ve already lined up the fabric for Storm’s birthday dress in June. Hopefully, that won’t be quite so much of a consolation prize…

Here she is in the sandpit at Sunday’s party. Heck, I didn’t say she had to save it for best now, did I?!


Secret birthday project #1: The Test Card quilt

26 Feb

We spent a lovely day at my parents yesterday, and I got to give dad his birthday presents.

Last year I asked dad for his old work shirts, to make him a quilt. It was just before his birthday and I hadn’t finished my first quilt yet, so I knew I wouldn’t get it done in time. I stuck them in the bottom of the airing cupboard and almost forgot they were there.

Fastforward to a few weeks ago, when my quilting bug struck again, and I found them while digging through fabric for my Village Cricket quilt (for some reason, quilts have to have names in this house).

It seemed rather self indulgent to be making a quilt for me, when I still hadn’t started dad’s so I bit the bullet.

Once I’d cut up the shirts into usable fabric pieces I thought might work together I laid them out, thinking they could be a Log Cabin design (not all of these are his shirts btw).


But I wanted to make a ‘man’ quilt, and this arrangement seemed too fiddly and fussy for dad.

Instead, I settled on a plan of 7in wide squares and rectangles, in a random layout. To break it up a bit I made some 7in square(ish) blocks out of swatches from Deckchair Stripes.

This is what they looked like, nested in the gingham bag they came in. Love it!


I bought a whole pack for £15, which I thought was a bargain for 60 strips, and used about a fifth of them, settling on blues, with a few bright colours.


They’re all named after sports. Darts was my favourite.

A lot of the swatches were wonky, so I did some evening up, being very fussy about squaring off the shapes.


Which left me with this little pretty pile.


Then I sewed them into threes.


And cut them into squares.


The blocks took an afternoon, but were perfect for the bright zings of colour the quilt needed, among the grey, black and dark red check of dad’s shirts.


Then I laid it out, and pieced it in a couple of evenings. And here it is. (Well, the top anyway)

I’ve not finished the quilting yet (luckily, dad is the patient type). I’m using bright blue embroidery thread (DMC 995), again, to add a flash of colour.

It reminded me of the BBC Test Card (although when I looked it up, I thought, not so much actually).

The quilt is backed with a soft flannel sheet so it’s ultra snuggly, and once again, the wadding is good old Bamboo Blend.

He seemed to like it. Yay!

Quilting the easy way. Part two

20 Feb

Turns out I got a little obsessed after I cut out my latest quilt. The next day I pieced the whole thing. Ta da!


I’m not sure I’d recommend doing all this work in one go. By the end I was definitely getting slap dash, and so the finished result is a little, erm, relaxed in terms of how many corners are squared up. Oops.


This was the first time I tried using a quarter inch seam rather than three-eighths. Three-eighths is definitely easier, but the lady at Country Threads was faintly horrified when I suggested going back to a bigger seam allowance. Haha. Turns out, that gets problematic once you’re making more complex blocks as nothing adds up.

But, heck, if it’s just squares I say go with what works for you. My first attempt (using three-eighth seams) was definitely neater.

Anyhoo, I’m onto the quilting now, which is a very nice way to spend an evening in the winter, as sitting under the quilt all evening while you work on it gets seriously warm. I like hand-quilting, as it gives a more uneven, rumpled finish. And it also doesn’t flatten out the quilt the way machine quilting can do.

Lay your backing fabric (mine is a nice old white sheet) down, then your wadding (I use Bamboo Blend, which is really soft) and your quilt top in a sandwich. Your wadding and backing should be about 5cm/2ins wider all round than the top. Smooth the layers out and then safety pin them together.

Start pinning at the centre and work outwards, so you can smooth any wrinkles to the edge of the quilt where, poof! , they vanish. Curved safety pins make getting through all three layers easier. I used normal dressmakers pins on my first quilt, and spent every evening I worked on it stabbing myself accidentally, and picking up pins when I’d finished (and missing one every time).


I use a medium length embroidery needle (nice and sharp) and 4 strands of embroidery thread. I’ve seen 3 strands recommended by Jane Brocket, but 4 is easier, as you can double up two, and use a loop knot to start.

For this quilt I’m using a running stitch and quilting at the end of the squares, in a grid across the quilt, 2 squares apart. I’ve done all the horizontal lines, and once I’ve done the vertical ones I’ll be back to show you my stitching and talk bindings. Ttfn!