Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


Mystery Blogger

awardThanks so much to everyone who nominated me for this award.

My blogging days were floundering and this was just the kick I needed to get going again.



I couldn’t respond immediately because I might have been a wee bit busy at the time either camping in Scotland or preparing for a journey to Mexico but I’m getting around to it now.

The award description: “Mystery Blogger Award is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious post. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging, and they do it with so much love and passion.” Created by: Okoto Enigma

I was nominated by two of my favourite bloggers – Kim and Coco. What I’ve done is answer all their questions in a row. Thank you ladies, much appreciated.

I have interspaced this overly wordy post with some pics…..

Kim The Material Lady

  1. Do you read, and if yes what is your favourite book?

I read every single night of my life: even if it’s very, very late or early, this is always part of my bedtime routine although sometimes I don’t always remember what I’ve read, so I have to read it again the following night.

Desert Island choice of a single book though is extremely difficult –

  • 13th Valley: Vietnam War, to remind me how futile war is.
  • Handmaid’s Tale: how not to treat women
  • Prayer for Owen Meany: there is some spiritual element to all our lives
  • A Confederacy of Dunces: read it and then tell me what’s is about….but it’s brilliant.

Funny, that these are all American novels – that may surreptitiously say a lot about me and my opinions and preferences. I do like the English classics too and to be quite honest if there are words on a page, I will read them!


Some Book Club members in San Miguel

  1. What is your favourite ice cream flavour?

Vanilla – I can then add whatever flavours I choose.

  1. What is your favourite season, and why.

I love all four seasons because I am a child of the northern hemisphere and enjoy the changes and because I can wear lots of different clothes. However, if I had to select one in particular it would be Autumn/Winter. I can wear my beloved boots ( I have A LOT) and hence more skirts than in summer as I don’t need to shave my legs, and I can always look forward to summer again.


  1. Do you prefer to sew in silence or with entertainment of some sort.

I always sew with BBC4 radio on. Sometimes it’s a drama of any genre just because I love a good story. Sometimes I play a Craftsy class as my computer in is the sewing room but I  hardly ever get to watch the whole video and just hope I’ll learn by sheer osmosis.

  1. Would you sing karaoke, and what song?

Any chance I can get I sing and dance and this is definitely not a pleasurable experience for any listeners – I can’t carry a tune in a bucket! I always stand up and sing my little heart out at any blues, rock and roll but especially Stand By Your Man – go figure!

Coco’s questions:

  1. Whose sewing or style most inspires or influences your sewing?

Easy peasy – your name’s sake – Coco Chanel. Oh, I love my jeans and weird-out gathers and pleats but ultimately, I like tailored and fitted clothes – if only my real life and figure reflected my ideal wardrobe……


  1. How often do you bin a garment and throw up your hands in defeat?

Hardly ever. What I will do however is sew that bad thing up to the very finish but I might never wear it. What I will hopefully learn from the process is how to do something and more importantly, how not to do something. No sewing time is ever wasted nor a defeat – there’s always learning to done.


  1. How often do you pull the latter out of the bin and keep going?

Only once. A Vogue dress I’m truly glad I did.


  1. What is your favorite thing about your sewing space?

I used to sew in the dining room but there were complaints from other family members about ‘stuff’ lying about so I moved into the spare room. It now means that the dining room is clear but we cannot accommodate overnight guests, however I have my own space.  I have a large window that looks all the way to the road at the top of our lane where I can view the traffic and activity and this makes me realise that I am not alone. I like my beat up old wooden sewing table that was bought in a charity shop for £10 and that I’m sure many people would throw out. I sometimes like the clutter and mess until it gets too much and I have a clear up and then everything is right with the world again.

  1. How many sewing machines do you own?

I have two. The stalwart and every day is Janome TXL 607. It is not an especially sophisticated machine; forwards, backwards, zig-zag and buttonholes are all I use but then I don’t mind hand sewing at all. It is computerised which can have its benefits with such features as: needle down, cutting thread, threading needle, sewing knots, and a multitude of sewing feet to cover every eventuality.


The other machine was purchased by my mother in an auction a couple of years ago and is practically industrial in its weight and construction. A German engineered Frister Rossmann 45 Mark 11 circa 1970s. I’m always slightly worried that my poor wooden gate-leg table will not support its weight when placed upon. It takes two arms just to lift it! This machine is great for leather, heavy textiles and for those occasions when you really don’t need a computer telling you what you can sew or not.

I’m not passing this Mystery Blogger Award on because I think that most blogs that I follow have already been covered and I don’t really want to have to choose another 5 or 10 favourites as I constantly find new ones daily.  However, if you want to you can answer any of my questions on your own, see below……..

  1. About how many ‘friends’ (both real and virtual) have you made because of sewing?
  2. What opportunities has sewing offered or provided you?
  3. If you don’t have a sewing blog but sew – why not?
  4. Could you sew without the Internet?
  5. What’s your favourite fabric?

To finish the award, I’m supposed to now tell you three things about myself:

  1. I live beyond my means.
  2. I’m a wee bit superstitious
  3. I never wash my fabric prior to sewing!





Another Small Break……

This is just the best ever FB message you could ever receive:

“Come and visit me in Mexico.”


Now, I suppose if you live in Mexico that wouldn’t be too exciting but for someone who doesn’t and hasn’t been on a proper holiday for years, this is an offer too good to reject.

I said “Yes”, then I said “No”, then I recanted and I’m off to stay with ReAnn for a fortnight in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.


There are number of ‘firsts’ for me with this trip:

First trans-atlantic flight

First foot fall in USA (even though it’s only for a few hours hours stop-over)

First single long-haul journey.

ReAnn found me via this blog so that is reason enough to keep posting – who knows what else this will lead too?  She has independently travelled the world, is a living role model and fabulous fun to be around. Check out her adventures. 

I’m just back from a week camping (yes, in a tent) in Scotland with two girlfriends. We had an absolute blast and the weather was brilliant. I’ll cover the Me-Mades on that trip when I return from this next one.

I’ve set up a timed post for next week but please don’t be offended if I can’t respond to any comments – ReAnn and I will be having too much fun. So just as I get going again on the blogging front, I am away for a fortnight on an adventure.





Beautiful Life

Goodness, here we are again so soon and all is well….

Recently I lost my right hand…, no, not really,  but my sewing machine is in for service and it kinda feels like it – what purpose do I now serve?

_The+Curated+Closet_+A+simple+system+for+discovering+your+personal+style+and+building+your+dream+wardrobe_Recently, one day in town I was a little early for an appointment and I went to a bookstore and bought The Curated Closet to read in order to fill in the time.  Think of Me-Made-May for people who buy clothes and you’ve got the idea……there are a lot of ‘exercises’ and ‘things to do’ and ‘lists to make’ and ‘photos to take’ in order to achieve your individualised curated closet. Personally, I couldn’t  be bothered with all that palaver but it was an interesting read regardless.

Then, as if by serendipity, Kate sent me a PDF version of her newly released book to review and that has certainly helped filled the not-sewing time. Making Life More Beautiful is also an interesting read. You really have to admire FabricKated – she never seems to sit still and when she does, she’s knitting, writing, thinking, plotting and planning the the next project. Unlike myself, Kate’s blogging has remained consistent and regular. She writes and researches everything, from what other people wear and how they wear it to what she sews and knits and then throws in the odd post about family and exhibitions. You never know what you’ll be reading about from one day to the next. And such is the content of her book. Here are the chapters and what a variety they are:






Make your own textiles 


Based primarily on her blog posts, Kate has enhanced, elaborated, edited and added to her prolific writing to independently produce a book that is beautiful to look at, fascinating to read and with a few added projects, an activity book too. The photography is refreshingly natural and real. Kate completed a photography course (one of many artistic classes she has completed) and the evidence of her learning is evident in the book.

The photographs are of ‘real people’ in natural settings and are simply inspirational on their own. Kate includes her own images and garments which certainly elevates this book beyond the commercial and sets it into everyday and real life.

Maybe a coffee table photography book is next, Kate??

Kate’s book was launched at a grand London location with much festivity and many activities. I wasn’t there in person but if I could I would have. I was certainly there in spirit.

51O173L4ixL._SX348_BO1,204,203,200_Making Life More Beautiful is not so much a set of rigid rules to dress by but a guidebook that gently guides the reader to better and more refined dressing and styling, using examples from real life and the all important advice on how-not-to-wear. It is also Kate’s personal journey through her own life and significant eras and hence, this book is somewhat biographical. We learn from Kate’s mistakes!

I’ve met Kate IRL (she’s one of my favourite blogging friends) and a more hospitable and welcoming host I couldn’t hope to meet. Here’s our night of Six Napoleon dresses 20161028_205233 which Marijanna (on the left) organised.

In her own inimitable style, Kate says it as she thinks – she is a truly no-nonsense girl.

“Isn’t it amazing? Today the democratic medium of blogging allows anyone to communicate with many, freely and easily, turning the old publishing model completely on its head. I wanted to write about a subject that would inspire me. I work in housing, I have a family, I enjoy travel, architecture and good design, I love London, and at least three times a day I think about food. I might have landed on any one of these subjects, and sung like a canary.”




So while I can only try to emulate Kate’s candour on style, colouring and life, I simply feel compelled to make my own reference to the inconsistent misuse of the apostrophe throughout the book.  From the front cover and inside fly page, to dates and otherwise scattered throughout, the apostrophe seems to have been inserted at random with no thought (knowledge?) whatsoever to meaning or grammar. Please tell me I am not the only person still alive who knows how and where to use the correct punctuation, including the elusive colon and its cousin the semi-colon, not to mention brackets?

Anyway, if you can read beyond the punctuation errors this book will happily fill a summer’s afternoon and you will find yourself delving in and out throughout the autumnal days and long winter nights for inspiration, advice, happy images and the knowledge that it was written and produced by a very accomplished sewer/knitter/blogger/writer/photographer/shoe-maker/critic/jewellery-artist/ weaver/mother/art lover/CEO/daughter/wife/home-maker/friend/blogger. Have I left anything out?

To me, this will will be henceforth be known as Kate’s book, until she publishes another that is……






All Together Now

This is for One of Our Own.

You may or may not know Spotty Dog Social Club, written by the ever smiling Two Toast. A pioneer of Lagen look, expert purveyor of Tina Givens patterns and, of course, exquisite sewer – and I haven’t even mentioned the knitting….

Please swing by her blog. Please. You will not be disappointed and very pleasantly inspired.

Do not leave comments here but send them directly to Lorraine. She needs us now.



Do Ya like Dawgs?

There’s sewing for yourself, which is the best: there’s sewing for others, which is nice: then there’s sewing for dogs!


Brad Pitt in Snatch: “Do ya like dawgs?”

Now, I’m not a dog-person; I like the things well enough but having never owned one, I suppose I don’t truly appreciate the two-way love, affection, friendship and inter-dependability that goes along with ownership. However, I do understand the bond between owner and animal.



A few lengths of polar poly fleece (machine washable!) and some fat quarters of Kaffe Fassett quilting cotton and  you too can make the dog-lover in your life very happy – not to mention the dog!

Four dogs and a cat…..


A dog lover recently told me that dog blankets should coordinate with the colour of the dog so that cast hairs are not so obvious. And that they get dirty easily, so that machine washable requirement is a necessity.

These are really useful items to protect your sofa, other people’s sofas if you’re visiting, car seats and a soft, comfy base for any basket, carpet or fireside mat.

Here’s Luna’s –


Luna is not actually blue and magenta but her’s was the prototype and made with fleece that was already in the house.

Then Pedro – a golden labrador and while only a pup right now will grow much larger, so this is the biggest at about 75cm X 100cm.


Then a double dog blanket for Bella and Lulu, in natural colours.


And because I have a cat – one for Eddie


Take some quilting cotton, cut into 5″ squares and draw the letters for the dog’s name. Cut around the letters with pinking shears; place upon one layer of fleece about 3″ from the edges and zig-zag in place. Personally I like my random mix of capital and small letters and the somewhat wonky placement. You could always take more care if you wish.

Cut another layer of fleece same size as the first; right sides together, stitch around three sides. Turn right side out, fold in the raw edges of the fourth edge and sew closed. Job done!

You could always add some large hand made blanket stitches around the edges for that extra finishing touch. Even add a layer of batting for extra comfort but be sure to catch the batting in the side seams to hold it in place.

DSCN7469And don’t ever forget your label because although the dog may have a personalised, couture and unique blanket – you made it!

Orders taken………… and make of dog, size and colour. POA.