FO: vintage drawstring bags

It is both wonderful and rare that I make something that I am truly happy with. None of my projects are perfect, and while these bags are no exception, I can say that these are one of my favorite sewing projects so far. I am really pleased with the fabric combination. The vintage seersucker is also one of the loveliest fabrics I’ve sewn with. I guess it’s nothing fancy, but it really is just so sweet!

These are another christening present, but because the sewing was more time consuming, I only embroidered initials.  The two fabric idea came from the Liberty Book of Home Sewing, but I didn’t follow the pattern in the end. The bag in there was open at the top right side, which I didn’t want. In the end I followed an easy tutorial created for Beads of Courage bags. Frustratingly I cleared my history and can’t find the exact one I used anymore.

I think it’s the colors and fabric combination that makes me so happy with this project. I found the seersucker in a charity-cum-vintage-haberdashery/fabric shop and knew it was the perfect fabric for the recipient. There wasn’t much of it, so a toy tidy wasn’t an option this time. My mum friends suggested making a drawstring bag as I wanted to make a useful present again. The striped fabric was the most suitable matching fabric I had in my stash. It is from a vintage cotton Etam skirt that I shortened several years ago (and no longer fit into, sob!). It is lined with plain white cotton. The bright green embroidery and hot pink ribbon keep it from being too shabby chic, I think, and give it a light modern side.

This was a time consuming project, to be honest, but I think these will be very useful. And now that I’ve mastered the techniques, I already have a couple planned for us, including one to hang by the dining table to store bibs in. Life is all about weaning these days!

FO: Oven mitt


This project hails from my metaphorical (or maybe literal…) pile of unfinished projects. Specifically, this mitt was supposed to be a Christmas present for a friend in 2015. Oops. In my defence, that is the Christmas we moved house! Anyway, I finally managed to finish it & gave it to her last week. She loved it – as expected given how much she loves foxes.


Making oven mitts was pretty straightforward. I didn’t buy a pattern, but instead just traced my own double oven mitt. I have concerns about how heat-proof it is, given I just used polycotton quilt wadding, but I’ve asked her to let me know (I forgot to test them).

Overall, I was pretty happy with these. It was my first time using bias binding on a curve, and as you can see I had mixed levels of success with being even. I was pretty disappointed with it, but I did find sewing it so stressful that I just couldn’t go back and redo it. I was really pleased with my pattern matching, though, and with the binding on the pockets. Next time I’ll practice a bit more before I take on bias binding.






FO: Vintage dress



I feel quite confident in describing this as a vintage dress. I may have sewn it in 2016 on a modern sewing machine, but the pattern, fabric, and zipper are all vintage, so I think it is pretty authentic. I suppose that’s not that important, but I do think it makes it unique.


This dress is made from a pair of curtains (50s/60s, at a guess) that I bought for a whopping £3.50 at a charity shop. I forgot to measure them, but each panel consisted of two pieces sewn together; one panel made the bodice, and the other became the skirt. Each panel was quite short, so I used the original hem & cut off the top instead for the skirt.

I absolutely adore this fabric, so I was determined to make this a great piece. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite meet that goal. As you can see, it’s wearable, but very far from perfect. My pleating isn’t great, I didn’t pattern match around the waist (and I have a travelling waist, i.e. it’s at different points on my body throughout the circumference), the darts are pretty rubbish, and I think I stretched the neckline.


But I guess there are some okay things about it. While overall the dress is a little big, it did allow for a good bit of movement. The armholes weren’t quite right, but overall I was reasonably happy with how the sleeves turned out. And best of all, I think this is probably the best finish I’ve had on a garment so far. I love how the satin bias binding looks. So much so, in fact, that I might go buy more and finish the other seams the same way (because let’s be honest, overall it still looks pretty rough!).P1060249


I wore the dress to a colleague’s wedding and did get a few compliments, though they were all from colleagues who know I sew & had probably guessed I needed an ego boost! It still felt nice to debut, though, and I hope I have occasion to wear it again soon.

In progress: vintage dress

Ages ago, I wrote about starting on my next sewing project: another 60s dress, this time with sleeves, made out of a pair of vintage curtains. A colleague’s wedding is coming up in a couple of weeks, so I’m going to make sure I get it done in time for that. I just need to attach the skirt to the bodice and insert the zip now. Once it’s done, I’ll be sure to share some photos of it out and about. But in the meantime, here are some photos of its construction.

So that’s what’s happening in my sewing room. (No, not a real one!) Do you have any long term projects on the go?


PS I still haven’t blogged about the new house, but one of the things I’m loving about it is how much softer the light is. Much easier to get decent pictures!


Coming up

The blog has taken a backseat so far this year, mainly because I’ve been feeling a bit exhausted and lacking in creativity. We’ve really not done any decorating in the new house. I haven’t knitted anything. I haven’t sewn anything. I’ve been doing lots of reading (there’s a post in there somewhere) and cooking instead.P1040317.JPG

At last, though, I’ve been turning my thoughts to what I can make. I’ve picked out my next knitting project & a few things to sew, and started pondering a few special presents.

The first project will hopefully be the most straightforward one, as I’m using the pattern for the sleeveless 60s dress I blogged about last year. This gorgeous fabric is an old pair of curtains & is viscose. My birthday’s on Sunday, so if all goes to plan I will be wearing this to dinner. The bodice is nearly finished already.

P1040319.JPGI’ve also got plans to make a pleated skirt from some green wool I bought in Birmingham, and a Sencha blouse.

And on the knitting front, I’m going to make this very special Blue Willow jumper. Isn’t it amazing? This is going to be a long term project, I think!

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Finished: Vogue 5096

P1030791     Ta-da! The button-back blouse inspired by my Helsinki charity shop buttons is done, and I am very pleased to say that it looks just like I imagined it. I’ve already worn it twice. Can you tell I’m a little in love? Completing another item for the Vintage Pledge is a great feeling as well.P1030798

Any credit for success goes to the pattern. It was surprisingly easy to follow, with the exception of the sleeves. Those gathers were not intended, though luckily they look okay. The pattern says you should “shrink the fabric to fit” and I just couldn’t figure out what that meant. Do you know?

Vogue 5096 / Vintage 60s Sewing Pattern / Blouse Shirt Top / Size 16 Bust 36P1030767

The final blouse fits just like I wanted it to, is very comfortable, and I think it looks quite elegant. I was shocked that the sleeves are exactly the same length as the hem of the body. (I know you can’t tell in these photos, but that’s because I’d been moving around a lot & they were a bit wrinkled.) My favourite detail in the pattern is the tiny little darts in the sleeves. Beautiful! The buttons are of course the star of the show, and I’m really pleased with how they look even if my bound buttonholes are terrible! For the body I used white linen found in the Birmingham Rag Market for £3.50/metre. I also lined the front using basic acetate lining, stitched in by hand so it is nice & tidy. This is especially good because I forgot to zigzag my edges & they are not particularly pretty.



I am ludicrously proud of this seam.


Vogue 5096 update


My button-back blouse is coming along well, though unsurprisingly it’s not perfect. I had to make several adjustments because it was one size too big. I thought I might be able to get away with it, because it’s meant to fit fairly loosely, but unfortunately not. As you can see, I took out about an inch vertically in front. There was still awkward bubbling around the armholes, so I spent some time reading about fitting issues. It’s  hard to tell what they are when you know nothing about tailoring! Similar problems can be caused by completely different parts of the pattern, so finding the right one is a challenge. In this case, it seemed most likely that the armhole issue was caused by the difference between my bust and upper bust…don’t ask, I’m not sure I can explain what that means! The upshot is that I tucked out a small amount of fabric horizontally above the bust & it seems to have worked.P1030552P1030556

Once I was happy with the fit of the muslin (as you can see, I was lazy and didn’t include the sleeves) I went ahead and cut out the pieces. The majority of it is sewn up already. I’ve followed the pattern’s recommendation to make bound buttonholes. I was really nervous about these, but I’m fairly happy with them as a first attempt. I’ve no idea why I didn’t practice them on different fabric first. The edges aren’t very sharp, and the fabric doesn’t match up like it’s meant to. Oh, well. They won’t be that visible when the buttons are attached… And I did at least have the sense to work from the bottom up, so hopefully the more visible buttonholes are a bit better.