Category Archives: Sewing

Lazy Sunday afternoon

I spent this morning writing a job application, which was dull and tedious (all the more so because on current form I’m not remotely confident of even getting an interview), but at least I got it done by lunchtime and had the afternoon to do fun things.

I made a new and improved case for my phone, with penguin-print fabric and a tab and popper to fasten it rather than elastic and button.


(The tab is a little bit wonky, and the perfectionist in me is rather disappointed and wants to declare it a failure, but the pragmatist in me says it’s fine, and I can always claim it’s deliberatly asymmetrical, and PENGUINS, and lalalala SHUT UP PERFECTIONIST I CAN’T HEAR YOU.)

And then I went for a walk, and saw a lovely butterfly.


And, more importantly, I picked 250 grams of blackberries, so there will be blackberry and apple crumble tonight.


And yet…I can do all the fun, relaxing things I can squeeze into the days, and I can be feeling better than I have done in years (and I am, truly), but that still doesn’t make me OK. Getting over a breakdown (and I think reaching the stage where you can’t get through a day at work without crying and have become convinced that people are out to get you counts as a breakdown) is hard, especially when the professional help available is more or less the equivalent of telling someone with a broken leg to rest and not put too much weight on it for a while, rather than re-setting the bone and fitting a cast and offering physio to help regain a normal range of movement. So I still have moments of feeling very low, I get tired very easily, and I’m worried about what the future holds. The days have got noticeably shorter recently, the weather is cooler, and even though autumn is my favourite season I’m worried about how I’ll cope with another winter. I’m applying for jobs, but I’m worried that I won’t get another job and will have to go back to the stressful job that was a major factor in the current bout of mental ill-health, or that I will get a new job and find that I can’t cope with that, and then I don’t know what I’ll do.

A bit of sewing

I got a new phone several months ago. It’s taller and narrower than my old phone was so alas, the penguin case I made for my old phone didn’t quite fit, and I’ve been meaning to make a new case for it for months. I finally got round to it this afternoon.


I used the same fabrics as I did for the pencil case I made earlier this year. That seemed like a good idea, given that I do like the combination of fabrics, but now I think maybe it’s a bit too matchy.


The case is a very snug fit anyway, because I based it on the listed dimensions of my phone and failed to allow for the fact that I have a clip-on case on mine. So I might see if I can find some different fabric and make a second one. I think I’d also prefer a fabric tab with a bit of Velcro or maybe a popper or even a magnetic snap (or would a magnetic snap cause my phone to go loopy?) to the elastic and button.

Actually, I’m finding that I quite enjoy making cases and project bags. They’re much quicker and less fiddly than clothes, so less daunting if I just want to spend an hour or so sewing at the weekend. The only trouble is, I already have so many project bags, and there are only so many things in my house that I can make cases for without turning into Crazy Cozy Woman. I have been idly toying with the idea of setting up an Etsy shop but then again, I’m not convinced that I’m good enough to make things to sell yet…

Spinning and sewing

Given that the fabulous photos posted during last year’s Tour de Fleece were one of the things that convinced me to start spinning, I was looking forward to joining in this year’s myself. I haven’t managed to spin every day, due to being away last weekend and sometimes too tired or late home on a worknight to fit any spinning in, but I have definitely spun more than I normally would and have spun half of a braid of rainbow gradient BFL from The Yarn Yard:

TDF mosaic

I started the second half today:

TDF day 15

I’m not going to finish by next Sunday, but that’s OK. And I think it will be lovely when it’s done and plied up.

I’ve also been doing some Tour related sewing; I’m spinning along with the Archers Listeners group on Ravelry and there are prizes awarded each week to people who’ve posted their progress pictures (I won a big bag of raw alpaca fleece last week – I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with it, but I think I’ll have fun finding out!). I offered a handmade project bag as a prize, and actually got round to making it today so it can go off to its new home tomorrow.


I used this tutorial, which I’ve used before, though I made the outside all one fabric and cut a paper template 30cm tall by 27cm wide for all the pieces. I thought the bicycle print fabric was appropriate!


It’s lined in pale blue, though you can’t really see that in the pictures, and rather than sewing fabric ties I used blue and white spotted grosgrain ribbon. I’m quite pleased with how it turned out and I hope its new owner likes it!

Afternoon Blouse

I made a top!


OK, the fit isn’t brilliant, but it’s no worse than the fit of tops I buy in the shops, and I’m pretty sure the crease running down from the left armpit is actually a wearing crease and not a fitting crease, and it’s light years ahead of my previous attempts.

The pattern is the Afternoon Blouse, as seen on sewing blogs everywhere recently. I graded from a size 14 at the shoulders to a 16 at the underarms and an 18 at the waist and hips and added a 1″ full bust adjustment for good measure (which meant adding a dart), though I don’t know if that was absolutely necessary. The fabric is from a king-size polycotton sheet I picked up in a charity shop a couple of months ago thinking “that will be good to sew with”, as indeed it was.

It’s a pdf pattern but I found it fairly straightforward to assemble and trace off my size, and there’s a detailed booklet of instructions. The basic construction is very straightforward, though I did find attaching the facing a bit fiddly and ended up taking almost as long attempting to sew the button on and stitch the overlapping fronts together to stop them flapping around as I did to do everything else, because the first time I did it I ended up with the neckline sitting really oddly. I think the interfacing I used was probably too heavy as the facing feels a bit stiff but I managed to get it looking right in the end.


I’m planning to make more of these; I bought some plain cotton lawn from Croft Mill because what I really want is plain tops to wear with patterned skirts (which are ridiculously hard to find in the shops), and I’ve also got some lovely Liberty cotton salvaged from a dreadfully frumpy charity shop skirt which I think I can just squeak one out of. Though I suppose I really ought to try to tweak the fit a bit first – it needs a sway back adjustment, and I think it might be better just to go straight to an 18 at the underbust as it does feel a little tight there.


As I mentioned yesterday, I finally got round to making the Ginger skirt I’ve been planning to make for a couple of years and for which I traced all the pattern pieces last summer and then never got any further.


The fabric is a quilting-weight cotton I bought three years ago, when I was first learning to sew, with the intention of making a dress, but later decided that I’d prefer it as a skirt. I lined it with a purple polyester anti-static lining, which is great except that I kept sliding down the seat of my chair at work. I definitely think it’s worth taking the time to line skirts, though, they hang so much better and look smarter.

Because I traced and cut the pattern pieces so long ago I can’t actually remember what I did with the sizing, though I suspect I graded from a 16 at the waist to an 18 at the hips, and I know I lengthened the pattern by several inches because I prefer my summer skirts to hit well below the knee.

I think I made a pretty good job of my first invisible zip, and if the back hem dips slightly I’m jolly well calling it a feature.

Ginger back view

I really like the vintagey look of the skirt paired with this blouse, though I suspect it didn’t quite fit in in my office, which tends towards being rather more corporate in culture than I prefer, but it felt like the perfect outfit to wear to see The Two Faces of January at the cinema this evening. I might well make more skirts from the pattern, as it was very straightforward to follow and I like the fuller A-line shape compared to the McCall’s skirt pattern I’ve made before. My next sewing project is going to be an attempt at the Afternoon Blouse, though; I’ve printed and traced the pattern so it might even be this coming weekend!


So, I aten’t dead, I just haven’t had much to blog about; I’m working on several knitting projects (a shawl, two cardigans, and of course some socks) but as I cast all of them on at the same time, and the shawl is in cobweb yarn and one of the cardigans is in laceweight, there’s not been a lot to blog about. And I don’t seem to be in the mood for posting about clothes right now. But, after failing miserably at my plan for doing an hour’s sewing every weekend and not touching my machine for weeks, today I actually got round to making myself some pyjamas trousers (definitely needed as it has got too warm for winter pyjamas and I only had one summer pair as all my old M&S ones had worn through).

New pyjamas!

I actually found it surprisingly easy and enjoyable. Next, I must try to find the time to make the Ginger skirt I was going to make last summer but never got round to…

I love you from the bottom of my pencil case

I’ve always liked writing with fountain pens, and since being parted from my beloved fifteenth-birthday-present Waterman for a few weeks in 2012 while Mim‘s father very kindly fixed the clip I have developed a great fondness for Lamy’s Safari range. It started with a black pen and some blue cartridges which I bought in WH Smith as an interim replacement, but then I bought a purple Al-Star (the aluminium version) and purple cartridges and even though I have my Waterman back I’ve been using that at work; the nib is slightly finer and the Waterman is precious enough I don’t really want to have it in the office. And then this week I decided to add to my collection with a pink Safari and some turquoise cartridges, and I thought that maybe I should make a pencil case to keep my collection safe.


I used this tutorial, though I didn’t bother printing out the pdf pattern but just drew a rectangle of about the right size on some paper and used that as a template to cut out the main fabric, lining and some wadding. It went together pretty easily and was good practice at inserting a zip (I did have to unpick and resew the first side after I’d done the second and realised that I’d managed to stitch it much closer to the zip teeth). And it’s the perfect size to keep my pens safe.


I also finished spinning up the Falkland from last week, which drafted just fine this time so it was clearly just that I was too tired before.


I’m pretty consistently managing to get around 36m of 2-ply yarn from 25g of fibre at the moment, which is a considerable improvement on where I was a month or so ago although ideally I’d like to be managing around 50-60m to get enough to usefully knit with.

I also started spinning up the merino/Shetland batt that came in the drop spindle kit I bought from Hilltop Cloud. Given that it was a carded batt and not tops I wanted to try using more of a woollen spinning technique and I found it surprisingly easy to go back and redraft the partly-spun yarn so that it ended up thinner and more even. I think this counts as progress!


I’ve also been knitting (obviously) – I’ve finished the fourth clue on the Ysolda mystery shawl and am halfway down the leg of my second walking sock. In the end, after looking at where my socks seem to wear, I did an Eye of Partridge heel flap and continued the slipped stitches on the bottom of the heel turn, but did the sole in plain stocking stitch. If that turns out not to be strong enough, I’ll rethink for the next pair. They’re knitting up so quickly it’s not as though having to make more will be that much of a hardship!