Being Frank…

Accepting my failings


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FO: Artemis Fowl and the Easy Linen Shirt

Spider’s school, along with many others, celebrates World Book Day by letting the children dress up as characters from fiction. Most schools celebrate it on the 5th March but this year Spider’s school had an actual author coming in on the 28th so brought their world book day celebration forward a  few days.

 Last Saturday I had the following conversation

 Me   “so who do you want to dress up as for world book day ?”

Spider “Butler”

Me “er…why ?”

Spider “Because then I can take …(insert long list of assorted guns and records)  and a Victorian cosh to school”

 Butler for those who haven’t come across him is the bodyguard in the Artemis Fowl books by Eoin Colfer. Butler is Eurasian. Spider is not. Butler is tall, very tall. Spider is 1.25 m. Butler is approximately as wide across the shoulder as he is tall. If Spider turns sideways he pretty much disappears…oh and according to Artemis Fowl “The Arctic Incident” Butler has a shaved head…I used the clippers on Spider once when he was 18 months old and swore never again, my boy looks better with hair !

 Apart from the above mentioned difficulties, it is actually pretty easy to dress Spider as Butler…OK so it is unlikely that anyone is going to recognise that Spider and Butler are one and the same for the purposes of world book day and will simply assume that Spider is going to a funeral !

 Butler wears a suit (a designer suit as he’s a very well paid bodyguard). No problem. School trousers (black)?check. White button up school shirt ? check (thank you sainsbury’s ). Black Tie ? Check (thank you Husband). Armani Black button up suit jacket ?…hold that thought…

 At the time of our conversation I was slowly cutting out and sewing up the Easy Linen Shirt from Sewing for Boys…   I was unenthusiastic and had misgivings. Not with the pattern you understand, the problem was Spider. The ELS is, to be frank, a smock and at almost 8, Spider is beginning to have his own ideas about clothing and at 8 I guess you have to start moving away from the cute stuff you can get away putting smaller children in…at least with boys in any event.

 I just couldn’t for the life of me come up with any plan for the ELS that I thought Spider would go for, apart from a light cotton denim, or what I eventually went for which was a plain black cotton with a contrasting collar, jazzed up a bit by a ribbon around the bottom and maybe some iron on patches…

 The more I sewed though the more unsure I became and I gave up having completed pretty much all of it apart from the collar and one side seam.

 So where were we ? Ah yes, a designer suit jacket in black…”Mum !!!!”

 Spider is fortunate to have an A 1 Grandma. She took the Easy Linen Shirt, finished the side seam, unpicked my front centre seam, drafted her own suit collar, recut the neck and attached the new collar, added button holes and some large black buttons…Spider also has a star of a Granddad who donated the buttons off his suit  (I promise to sew them back on Dad)…

 Resulting in…

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Oh and Mum even made a soft Victorian cosh…

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Pattern: Easy Linen Shirt from sewing for boys

Material:  100% Black Cotton from Royal Fabrics in Leamington Spa

Thread:  Coats Duet in a dark charcoal

New: Working in collaboration !!!

Thanks Mum


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FO: Here’s one I made earlier

It’s not jersey, it’s me.   See I CAN sew jersey



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Admittedly I have no idea if the sizing is right on this because I have no intention of ever finishing it off and putting a real baby in it but it did at least vaguely resemble the picture in Sewing for Boys of the “R is for Romper” and the seams all matched up and looked reasonably neat so it’s not the pattern that’s gone wrong for me…

Suspect it is user error on Tiramisu…suspect I should have cut out the 30 inch rather than the 35…next time I shall measure my back and compare it with the pattern piece (which I should have done from the start, but it’s not easy measuring your own back !)

Anyway, here’s something else I got right…and still haven’t put the snaps on (because Spider says he thinks the pockets at the side are silly and doesn’t seem to like the shirt)

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There should only be ONE pattern…all this choice is just not fair !!!

SO here I am happily settling in this year to sewing clothes for me, I can do this, there is nothing to fear, I know I can sew but…

There is too much damn choice !!!  I am resolute that I will sew Tiramisu…and then I will make 2 more. I have my road map. I know where I am going and then… ooh, look at that interesting  side road, I wonder where it goes…yes, I start wondering off down other possibilities and there are so so sew many possibilities littering my path at the moment.

It wasn’t enough that I have the Colette sewing book from last year and was lucky enough to get Gertie’s book for Christmas, not to mention a small collection of Colette patterns plus my charity shop finds (only 5 thank god)…but I’m also slowly working my way through Sewing for Boys and Vintage Style for Kids as my self imposed sewing school…then…I discover that the world has invented (quite some time ago admittedly) magazines with patterns in them….this is so not fair !

Fortunately there was only 1 pattern in it that I might make, but already I’m trying to leap in and make it before I’ve even finished my Tiramisu…I think possibly I need to get a firm grip on myself and put all these temptations out of my head before things get out of hand, there is a strong risk of me doing nothing because I’m trying to do everything…

Well at least there’s knitting, knitting is organised, knitting is slow and steady I know that I don’t have to do everything at once right ? Nope, I appear to have Startitis and have ended up casting on about 5 new things…but that’s not because I want to knit them all right away but more to do with the fact that nothing is catching my interest….

But to be a girl with so many WIPs ? Well I know that this way madness lies…give it a month and I will be complaining about being swamped by things to do…

I am my own worst enemy…I also have a cold and at present am doing nothing…meantime the year is passing me by !


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FO: I am sew in love with Henry (S4B)

Despite the fact that Henry has 17 pieces and comes under the technical ability category of “seriously bloody hard” and involved a lot of new techniques and far far too much sewing of curves and stretching bits out and holding one piece away from the in order to avoid accidently sewing it into the seam currently being sewn…I LOVE HENRY…

He is far from perfect, looking at him critically I can see all the mistakes I’ve made and all the accidental gathers where bits weren’t stretched out enough, but he represents a definite milestone for me – if I made him again and slowed things down a bit, because I was admittedly rushing things at the end because I’d had enough, then I think you might be hard pressed to recognise this as a  beginners article.

That said, I have no intention of making him again and I’m not going to correct his faults, because Spider is coming up on 8 years old and really is not going to have much wear out of him – there are also lots of other shirts in the books I’m working through (and I might remember to lengthen these.

Do you want to see him ?  Well ok…this is MY Henry…

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I will try and provide an “action shot” once I’ve put the snaps on…but it is often hard to get Spider to stand still long enough to be photographed.

He would I think look stunning if made with black cotton and flames instead of the dots, but to be honest I’m more interested in sewing for me this year than for other people and I’m just doing the children’s clothes as “learning curve stuff”

Anyway, here are the details

Pattern:  The Henry Shirt from Sewing for Boys

Material:  Black 150cm width cotton from Royal Fabrics in Leamington Spa, 115cm width multi coloured dots from the same place

Thread: Black gutterman

New: Where do I start ? Well I’ve done yokes before but this was my first yoke/sleeve combi. First time I’ve made something so broken down into segments, it will be my first time putting snaps on a garment, not yet done this as need to find my eyelet tool, there is also a reversed pleat and although I did one of these in my Easy as Pie bags from the end of 2011 I’ve never done one on a shirt before or attached to a yoke, definitely my first collar, possibly my first time topstitching…both the topstitching and edgestitching in this really make a difference to the finishing of the garment.

I am very happy with Henry and consider him a good start to the New Year and has put me in a good place psychologically for finally tackling some clothes for me.

But, before I launch full pelt into clothes for full-sized people I plan another pattern from the Sewing for Boys book as an introduction to sewing knit/jersey fabrics…I have no intention of this one ever being worn by anyone (it’s the first size of the R is for Romper pattern).

Thanks to Stacey and Leila for their individual sew a longs, I found the photographs a big help, thank you


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S4B: Pauli’s Sweater

This is not very good, in fact neither of them are but Spider won’t let me take them back to rectify my mistakes…he likes them as they are. Now this isn’t down to me being an amazing seamstress or anything like that (shame !) but simply because…they’re fleecy. Yes my son is a fleece monster. It’s my fault. When he was born I had a red fleece dressing gown and somehow he has become addicted…especially to the red stuff.

Anyway, back to the garment. Pauli’s sweater is a v neck pullover with a bound collar and as drafted has a gathered waist with a corded belt. Recommended fabrics include sweatshirt, jersey, knits and fleece…easy choice for the Mum of a fleece monster, besides fleeces hides errors quite well.

I made it twice. The second one was made with specially chosen camouflage fleece (£8per m from Royal Fabrics) but before I had cut it out I received an emergency request for a “Dead Soul” costume for a greek play at school…it just needed to be a black tunic. So as I had already traced off the pattern I splashed out another £3.50 for a metre of black fleece from Fabricland.002

Pattern: Pauli’s sweater from Sewing for boys

Material: Fleece, less than a metre (150cm wide)

New: Binding a v-neck…I think I need more practice on this one as I didn’t manage to get it right on either of them

Mods:  I didn’t bother with creating the ties at the bottom, this lengthened it a bit but as Spider is pushing 8 rather than 7 (the largest size) I probably should have added more length. He didn’t need a gathered in waist although in a younger child I can see it would have its uses.

Pattern seems well thought out. Instructions clear. No errors in the pattern. All mistakes were of my own making !

I liked this but due to the sizing I won’t be making more…also he wants a hoodie and I already have 2 small boy hoodie patterns in my collection which I have been promising to make for 2.5 years


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FO:The trousers of doom

About a year ago I acquired, in pretty much the same week the Colette Sewing book and Sewing for Boys. The Colette book has been well read whilst I try to pluck up the courage to actually make something for me, but Sewing for Boys kinda got neglected whilst I struggled with Vintage Style for Kids… well, when I finally put VSfk on hold and picked up S4B I kicked myself for not starting it sooner.

It’s a fantastic book. The instructions are clear, the patterns just need tracing off, none of this sticking god knows how many bits of paper together, there don’t seem to be any errors in the patterns and where they are there is a web page with errata.

And if I needed any sort of encouragement, well there is a group sewing themselves through the whole book so last July I joined the party…

Ok, I sort of joined the party…I sort of joined the party by finishing thing weeks after everyone else.

Spider, is at the top end of the age range for this book…and he is starting to be very fussy about what he wears and I knew before I started that I’d have to steer away from cute prints and perhaps mainline on the colour blue. So after much thought I decided that Spiders Treasure pocket pants would be blue with a blue camo print…and if he didn’t like them he could always wear them as PJs…

I need not have worried as it turns out when I finally finished them it was difficult to get him out of them, let alone getting him to keep still long enough to be photographed in them – so here is an action shot for you.


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So if Spider loves them so, why you may ask are they the “Trousers of Doom” ?  Admittedly they took slightly longer than planned, but that was partly down to my own ineptitude in that I sewed the wrong seams together, then couldn’t find my seam ripper…added to having to bundle everything up each time we need to use the dining room…  all that is pretty much par the course for me when it comes to sewing… but no, these trousers exercised a malign influence over Gary the Brother PS-31.

You see the camo fabric is tough, really tough, tough enough to survive non-stop wear by an active 7 year old but also tough enough to almost kill a Brother sewing machine…Gary is not a happy machine at the moment and I’m not sure I can face taking him back to the other Gary to have his insides looking at  ( a service is about £60 and Gary is worth about £69 on the secondhand market).

The camo fabric is a very tough thick cotton, a bit like denim aside from the nasty sounds my machine started to make I managed to get through 3 needles. The first was a very narrow miss for both my eyes and Spider’s…he was standing by my side asking a question as the needle went “ping” and part of it shot out of the shaft, grazing my cheek and burying itself somewhere in the kitchen near the bin (still not found it).  The second needle wasn’t quite so dramatic, that one just bent and the third is still in the machine but  so blunt it won’t even go through tissue paper…lesson learned, next time use a denim needle.

Anyway, here is a non action shot…sorry about the stains but the only chance I get to photograph them is when they have been taken off to be washed.ick 012


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Yay ! Finally the trousers of doom are finished…

This isn’t the reason for 3 months silence… but they have been a bit of a trial… I’ll tell you about the shortly if I can get my boy to both wear them and stand still… in between trying to make these trousers there has been a lot of knitting and some unusual activities…well for me at least these last 4 years.

ETA: Gave them to him sunday morning, they are a bit short in the crotch rise area but he doesn’t care, loves’em, gave me a great big hug…makes the evenings of cursing Gary the sewing machine worth it !