Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane

One Thing……


…..leads to another, and possibly another and yet another.

Paco's Skirt - Finished

Once upon a time, long, long ago there was a lady (and I use that term advisedly – those who know her might well chose an alternative nomenclature) who sewed her own clothes.

Quite happily alone she bought fabric and patterns; cut and sewed and wore the things she made. Sometimes when making these things there were techniques and skills which she didn’t know how to do nor understand, so she researched and learned these things the old fashioned way by reading books.

One day, under advisement from her partner, she trawled the Internet to see if there was any information on making welt pockets.  He, apparently, was adept at making scale models of ‘things’ and was already a member of many well known Internet forums who specialised in such details. Not really expecting to uncover anything of much value to home sewing, the lady was overwhelmed by the quantity and quality of sites that seemed to be in existence solely to help her make some pockets. What was most amazing was that many of these sites were written and photographed by people who seemed to be just like her – sewing at home and wearing their makes with the exception that they were freely sharing their experiences and clothes with the rest of the world. The lady obsessively read, devoured and scoured all the blogs and posts she possibly could and learned so much more than just how to make welt pockets.

After a little while, the lady began to feel slightly guilty about all this taking from others and not giving anything back, so she started her own sewing blog on the off-chance it might just help and inspire someone else – just as she had been helped and inspired by others’.

Like life, the more you put in the more you get out and over time other sewers contacted the lady via comments and email. This made her feel vindicated about the earlier guilt and additionally reassured her that she was not alone. Until this happened she erroneously thought she was a sewing Robinson Crusoe, isolated on her island home. She was really happy when a sewing lady from the same island made contact, then another and another.


This little band of lady sewers and crafters met each other in real life and had occasional outings and cups of coffee together and everything was fine. They went home afterwards and sewed.

One day a New Lady arrived from France via England.  She had magical powers.



The New Lady was motivated and organised…. for years and years the individual island sewers sewed solitary in their separate dining rooms and kitchens but now they were presented with A New Way.

The New Lady used Instagram (janeinireland) to weave her magic spell.

castle-ward-6The isolated island sewers were enchanted. Under the direction and experience of the Lady Jane they negotiated and discussed and planned and one day, equipped with the special tools of sewing, they gathered together at a Castle by a lough.


On the last Saturday in the month of the New Year only six months after she had arrived, Lady Jane arranged for the island sewers to have exclusive use of the stables at the Castle. A large, well heated room with long bench tables for each sewer, lots of power points and a kitchen was made available all day. Tea and coffee, scones and cake, buns and tray bakes magically appeared and just as magically disappeared.castle-ward-county-down

And what did these, until recently, isolated sewers do? They sewed. There was also a lot of talking and laughing; ohhing and ahhing; fondling of other people’s fabric and personal reviewing of patterns but that did not apparently interfere with the main purpose of gathering together.

They made tops and dresses and skirts and coats and home decorations: they cut out and sewed and overlocked and ate and chatted; they swapped unwanted fabrics and patterns with those they desired: everyone went home happy.


Picture via the courtesy of Jane’s IG

I’d like to tell you that they all lived happily ever after – but. of course, that’s not the end of the story…….


Armed with fabric from Fabworks and a pattern from Bootstrap, the lady taped and cut in readiness for assembly on the magical sewing day at the Castle. Just before the bewitching hour, about 4.00pm, the only thing left to do was hemming and a bit of hand stitching. A few days later a skirt was complete.

Not content with only one item, the lady had a little spare fabric leftover which was put to very good use by being transformed into a Paco Peralta draped top.


Worn together, the skirt and top could pass for a dress with a very slight Vivienne Westwood-esque vibe.

The skirt has folds at the wrap. a deep waistband that is practically a yoke and is fully lined, which provided no end of headaches involving mental rotations, inside out flipping and turning, to get right.


All of this was sewn because the lady’s partner bought her a navy blazer for Christmas….and she had absolutely nothing to wear to the ball….

That’s not end of the story either because the Fabworks fairies sent more fabric but we’ll save that for another day…….


@ozzyblackbeard, @ailz_, @seasaltstitches, @loridux, @stitchandink, @janeinireland

#castleward, #sewingtogether


53 thoughts on “One Thing……

  1. Oh Ruth

    Fabulous to wake up to read a fairy story……..I know there is an amazing transformation coming in your lives because I see into the future!

    Absolutely adore your ensemble, so perfectly you.

    As ever, thank you for sharing.

  2. Oh. My. Goodness. How delightful. This is just what I needed to restore my sewing mojo. I am going to organize a tiny little “sew in” soon…I have been missing the comraderie of actually sewing amongst friends! As always, your posts inspire me. xoxox from frigid, snowy, upstate New York. XOXOX

    • Yeah, but I don’t get to go to Birmingham rag market with a fun bunch of sewers, so we’re equal.

    • Could something like this work in near Birmingham?

      • Probably- but it can be complicated [and expensive] to organise. Workspace in itself wouldn’t be hard to find, but not everyone is happy to have un PAT-tested machines brought in…some people have managed to organise such things at eg conference centres, but it depends how much folk would chip in I suppose. I have to admit, it’s a fab idea, but I’m not sure I’d actually want to pack up all my stuff and transfer it and set up again just for the company [and I know I couldn’t afford to chip in with much either]. Know anyone with a GREAT BIG house?

  3. Lovely story and one in which I would have loved to take part but alas I am far, far away… across the sea in Canada. Congratulations on not only have the most glorious experience ever but coming away with such beautiful garments!

  4. Enjoyed the story! What a successful outfit, you look so smart. I’m intrigued Ruth, if you wanted to do an fba would you widen the angle at the bottom of the upper bodice?

  5. Love your story, love your outfit. Lucky you to be part of a wonderful group.

    • Thank you Kay. We’ve only just got started, hopefully there will be many more stories to come.
      We are trying to think of a name for this little sewing group – so all suggestions welcome.

  6. What a great group you have! I love your plaid Paco top. I do not have the talent you do to match the plaid on the bias. Really lovely outfit.

    • Hi Mary. I do not have the talent either, it just turns out the way it does.
      I deliberately cut the skirt waistband on the bias so that I didn’t have to match the checks. Little tricks that turn into ‘design’ elements.LOL!

  7. What a lovely story and the ending is absolutely magical. Can’t wait for the sequel featuring the other goodness those fairies sent…..

  8. Great story, and a lovely outfit to wear with the navy blazer.
    Next chapter soon?

  9. Thank you so much for your constant encouragement. You have made me laugh and desire to get back at sewing for myself. Cheers!

  10. Fabulous story. Fabulous outfit. I’m already looking forward to the next chapter.

  11. Love this story post! Beautiful outfit, too!!

  12. What a lovely enchanted fairy story with a very happy ending. Perfect outfit!

  13. What fun you and your fellow enchanted sewers must have had. Another knockout outfit. Always love windowpane check.

  14. Sounds like a great gathering: a beautiful place, delicious treats, fine company, advice given and received. And a terrific new outfit! Wishing you may more such days….

  15. What a great outfit! Very smart but also unusual.

  16. You are truly blessed with friends who sew and great opportunities and a venue…OH MY…treats and tea all day! Love the 2 piece outfit and all thanks to your hubby for starting the ball rolling!

  17. wow, woman, what a great get-together! and love the outfit, beautiful on you.

  18. Love the outfit particularly the skirt. So jealous would love the have been there! See there is no Prince (or Princess) Charming in your story and suspect you are all sorted there, so if one does turn up I am in need of one (and crikey one who sees would be great)! X

    • Mags, you need to get on My friend has had some very entertaining evenings out…enough to write a book (or blog).
      Take a few days off at the end of the month and come over……

  19. The best story ever! Love the plaid ensemble. Now I know for sure that I need another paco peralta top!

  20. Brilliant!!! I love Jane’s magical powers, and you skirt turned out lovely. The top is fab too.

  21. What a great story. And great outfit (-;

  22. There really is nothing better for the soul and mind than getting together with others to sew!!! My favourite thing 🙂 Love both the skirt and the top combo – fabulous!

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