Being Frank…

Accepting my failings

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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: The twirly whirly girly daisy skirt

This is another offering from Vintage Style for Kids.  This pattern has required the most alteration from the printed pattern (basically, throw it away and draft your own !), but was the easiest to make once the patterns was sorted…aside from the pattern the instructions were actually (for once) clear and straight forward.

If you make the pattern for a 7 year old as published then you will end up with a skirt that it 5 metres in circumference at the hem…well I hear the Eternal Magpie with concerns about a 5m hem, so if it is too wide for her it really must be too wide for a 7 year old…all be it one who wears 11 year old clothing.

So I ditched the pattern and drafted my own based on Sew What Skirts tutorial. Essentially you need to decided how big you want the first layer to be and then work out the next layer proportionally to the layer above  (based on how much gathering you think you need). Because my 7 year old was bigger than most 7 year olds I also made my layers a little longer than the pattern originally envisaged.

the skirt in my head was made of lightweight denim with a silver ric rack trim…but because I was winging it here I decided to make a muslin using some cotton that had an accident in the wash…only when I brought t out from storage it wasn’t as bad as I remembered it, the daisies were still white rather than the pink  thought they had gone.

Not the best of photos I’m afraid but the skirt never came back for a rephoto and surprising though I find it, this skirt is actually one of Flapjack Princess’ favourites… I guess when you make something all you can see is the things you didn’t do right but all other people can see, if you are lucky is “look what so and so made for me, they must like me”…which is true…but  lovely though she is I am still too young to have a daughter in law…and I will still be too young when Spider is legally allowed to marry (in about 8 years time I beleive).

Pattern:  Dirndl skirt – Vintage Style for kids

material: red and white daisy polycotton – from Fabricland  think…. 1.4 metres for £8

Thread and notions:Elastic from stash, cotton from IKEA

New: Nothing really, drafting a skirt from scratch maybe ?


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FO: Button Through Dress

This was one of the more successful of my makes from Vintage Style for Kids . There were, as far as I can recall no real issues with the pattern (for once)  and it went together surprisingly quickly…in fact I felt quite confident for once, hey wow, yes, I can sew !

And then I reached the buttonholes…I still haven’t mastered button holes on Gary the Brother P31. Yes I know I need to practice but I wanted to finish the dress in time for Flapjack Princess’ birthday which gave me a week to put buttonholes in…

The week before I’d splashed out on a book about Couture  sewing techniques for clothes and coincidentally was browsing in the closures section (zips mainly) it was here I discovered hand sewn buttonholes, which I subsequently used much more successfully on the PJ’s…the initial ones on this dress were…er..not good…but fortunately when the buttons are done up you can’t see the bodge that I made of them…or the slightly over enthusiastic application of Fray Stop.

It took about 2 good washes to remove most of the Fray Stop and restore the somewhat grubby button holes to pink rather than grey.

I think this was also the first time I tried making my own bias binding, I loved the way it wrapped its way around the arm hole and neck creating a perfectly neat edge…gentle on soft little girl skin.

Unfortunately, despite lengthening the dress substantially it was still too small for my 7 year old model (who was in age 11 clothing by then) so I bought a pair of leggings to go with it and claimed it was a tunic.

I hoped I had learned a lesson from the lilac tunic dress I made last year and chose material which was easy to iron and didn’t crease as much as the linen did… unfortunately I decided to use lace I had to hand for the trim rather than buying some broderie anglaise… that lace trim will be a nightmare to iron

Pattern: Button Through Dress  – Vintage Style for Kids

Buttons: White and pink daisies – bought for another project but spare following a change of plan !

Material – end of roll curtain material (flower fairies) from Dunelm, inexpensive pink cotton from Royal fabrics

Thread – not sure, think it came from IKEA

New – Hand sewn button holes…using binding to finish edges…making bias binding…sleeves

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FO: Strawberry PJ’s (Vintage Style for Kids)

This was the first proper garment that I tried to make from Vintage Style for Kids and after the experience I would not have been surprised if it had been my last ! ( I will do a review of the book shortly but I thought it was about time I started putting up some of the things I have actually managed to do this year.)

 Now, I am a beginner in this sewing lark, but even I can recognise when a pattern is just wrong. When I printed the pattern out for the Girls Pyjamas, having taken great care to ensure that it was printing at the correct scale it was clear that there was no way the PJ bottoms would fit a normal sized 7 year old as they were far too wide and far too short… and aside from that my 7 year model was already wearing clothing that would fit most 10 year olds…she is a very tall girl !

I decided to abandon the bottom pattern and just make my usual kids pj bottom…the top wasn’t too far out but the pattern didn’t quite match the instructions, most notably on the buttonband… but I busked it and bodged it and ended up with something that just about worked.

And then… I had to do buttonholes…and no matter how many times I practiced I just couldn’t get the machine to do ones that I was happy with….my tension was wrong and so  became tense…and so the PJ’s became a UFO…

Then one night Flapjack Princess and her brothers came for a sleep over. At bedtime there were tears, the Flapjack Queen had forgotten to pack pyjama bottoms… Spider offered her some of  his (because he is a gentleman and hates to see his girlfriend in distress)…but unfortunately FP is so much bigger and taller than her Beau.

Inspiration struck as I remembered the half made PJ’s with their almost complete PJ bottoms. 5 minutes with a bit of elastic and a safety pin and the bottoms were ready. Let me tell you these PJ bottoms were a hit…so much of a hit that the lady took them home with her and it was another 2 months before her Mum returned them to me so that I could remove the safety pin and sew the elastic in !

After that I knew that I had to find a solution to my buttonhole problem…I took my courage and my patience in both hands and dived into the world of handsewn buttonholes.  I am not going to pretend that they were a pretty sight, they were lumpy and bumpy and decidedly grubby (a wash and a press helped) but they went better as I went on…and yeah I felt proud when I had finished.

I am therefore pleased to say “I made that!…but it took me 6 months “

pattern: girls vintage PJ’s from vintage style for kids

material: Strawberry polycotton, from Mo’s of rugby and red cotton from Royal Fabrics in Leamington Spa

New:  gathering, piping, sewing a yoke, sewing in sleeves, edging with bias binding


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Vintage Style for Kids : Progress Report

I am finding this book “challenging”. The patterns as several users have remarked are not easy to piece together AND it is  my personal feeling that there are errors in the pattern over and above what can be put down to the lack of knowledge of an inexperienced sewer.

Because my main model (there are more girls patterns than boys) is much larger than an average 7 year old I’ve been taking this slowly and measuring the pattern pieces against her measurements before cutting out  and adjusting the pattern in length and size. That said some of the patterns have seemed small compared to standard measurements for a 7 year old.

My model unfortunately is now wearing age 11 clothes so I may need to reassess how I progress this “project” as I’m not sure I’m going to get a good fit with the rest of the girls patterns with so much adjustment.

Despite the lack of photographs and posts on this blog about finished objects I have so far finished:

  • a pair of girls pyjamas
  • the button through dress
  • the toothfairy pillow
  • my version of the laundry bag (will redo later following the pattern)
  • A pair of curtains, substitute for the duvet cover (we don’t need more duvets !)

I have just cut out the pattern for the Dirndl Skirt and, well lets just say I have “issues”. I’m going to adjust the length of each strip anyway as my 7 year old is tall. I am going to leave the width of each strip about the same as the pattern because the strips are gathered and the waistband is elasticated so I can easily adjust the pattern for my model’s actual size. However I am a little worried about the instructions…Tier 4 is a very very wide strip anyway but according to the pattern I’m supposed to cut 4 which would make the skirt incredibly wide at the bottom as tier 4 is 1.5 metres wide !

Fortunately I have a copy of Sew What! skirts which has instructions on the proportions for a tiered skirt so hopefully I can use this as a guide.

Hoping to get the buttonholes on the PJ’s and dress finished by the end of the week and make the skirt in time for my model’s birthday at the end of the week…then…then I shall concentrate on the boy patterns.

When I make the rest of the girl patterns I may just make the smallest versions  as after all I don’t have to make them for anyone in particular and I am mainly working my way through this book as a learning exercise on small things, learning the techniques…and in fact it is my fear that things might not fit my models which is slowing me down.

The problem is that if I do that I then have to add 5 more patterns in as I’d ignored the baby chapter on the grounds that I don’t know any small small children.



At the weekend I moved out…to my parents…but only temporarily…(and Mum and Dad only live 5 minutes round the corner)

You see I had an attack of space invaders…originally it was going to be the Photographer, his friend Dan, 2 dutch photographers and the Teenager. As it was the dutch gentlemen didn’t come but the boys that were there (apart from Spider) range from 5ft 9 – 6ft 5 and the house isn’t that big.

So me, various bags of works in progress, my sewing box and my sewing machine and knitting all moved out to the otherside of the village.

Did I get a lot done ? Er…no…but I have some good excuses…and I did tidy me up which was at least something…

With Mum’s help I finally plucked up the courage to cut out Spider’s curtains but Hitch#1  the needle seemed too far over to the left of the plate and despite concentrated studying of the manual we couldn’t work out why.

So I decided to stick the first of the VSfK patterns together with the aim to cut the girls PJ’s out at the very least. Hitch#2 the reviews on Amazon warned that the patterns had errors and might not be right and were difficult to stick together, so bearing that in mind and the fact I had to increase the lengths slightly (because my 6 year old model wears age 9 clothes and the biggest size was 7-8) I took a tape measure to all the pattern pieces… the PJ bottoms were titchy, they wouldn’t even have fitted a 5 year old…same problem for the boys PJ’s.

That pretty much was it for the weekend. I gave up on making anything and went off with my Mum to have fun shoping at The Bramblepatch (quilt shop near Daventry)…we did…it was not cheap…but oh it was good (Michael Miller £6 per metre…in a boy pattern !!!!)

So now…with the perspective of just under a week I’ve solved Hitch#1 but that was because I hit Hitch#3. Hitch 1 turned out to be that the stitch length dial had been turned to the max (never expected it to be the length dial).

Hitch#2 has been rationalised. Flapjack Princess came round with her Mum yesterday and I took the opportunity to measure her…I think all the other pattern pieces will fit, it’s just the PJ bottoms that are too small…so I’m just going to adapt the bottoms from another pattern.

So what was Hitch#3 ? Well the little divert on the top of the machine that channels the cotton when you need to wind the bobbin on has moved, and then the screw fell into the machine. I just couldn’t work out all the bits I needed to unscrew to take the machine cover off. Fortunately the screw  came out when I turned the machine upside down…However I can’t get the divert back into the machine and screw it in place unless I can get the cover off 😦  I can still sew…but only until I run out of what is currently on the bobbin…

Nothing for it I guess… It’s time to take the machine to see the professionals.

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FO: New term, new bag

At the end of the summer term I decided it was about time that Spider had a gym bag…6 weeks off ? Plenty of time…there was a pattern in Vintage Style for Kids: Fiona Bell for a laundry bag, that would do. I then put the book down and skipped out to enjoy the sunshine…

It was with a sense of shock on the 1st September that I realised the summer was over and school was back the following week.  Who had stolen my summer ?

At that point I picked up VSfK and read the pattern…hmm that was a lot of material…hmm again, that sure was a complicated method of making a sack like bag with a draw string and I’ve got less than a week, I’m busy at the weekend and I’m working every day between now and the start of term…

If I’d followed the pattern then this would have been the first item I made out of VSfK but I chose to make an oversized marble bag instead and use a nametape instead of appliqued letters… I’ll make the bag again properly another time.

It’s nothing special but it’s distinctive…and Spider likes it (would have preferred Star Wars or Dr Who, but this’ll do)