That was the week that was

It’s a sunny Sunday morning here in London – the end to a perfect week of beautiful weather and loads of exciting stuff going on.

If you don’t know by now, the Olympics came to London this week and the torch relay did the rounds of every borough in the city in the run up to the opening ceremony. (BTW did you watch it on Friday night? Bonkers and brilliant!) The torch visited Alexandra Palace on Thursday night so we headed up the hill to see it go past.

Torch at Alexandra PalaceUm – I took lots of pics but not one of them had the torch in it. See that guy in the white tracksuit? He’s holding the torch – in his RIGHT HAND, which is OUT OF THE FRAME!

My mum was staying with me this week so we took advantage of the gorgeous weather to enjoy a day by the seaside. Brighton beach!

Brighton beachWhilst in Brighton we took a stroll through through the North Laines and came upon Ditto fabrics. well of course I had to nip in and check out their sale which isn’t available online. I picked up three metres of this cute elephant print viscose for just over £15. It has a lovely silky drapey feel to it.

Elephant print viscoseWe also found a brilliant bric-a-brac shop in North Laines, where I came upon a fantastic collection of vintage buttons and threads. I picked up these little babies.

Vintage threadsFinally, I promised my mum  that I would knock her up a Colette Violet while she was here, and I managed to do it! Here’s Jean proudly modelling her very own bespoke blouse, made with cherry blossom cotton from Fabric Tales, all the way from Japan! Hope you like your blouse, Mum! It was my first bout of selfless sewing in a while and I loved it. xxx

Mum is her Colette Violet

OWOP! Day 6…

We’re on the final home straight! Today I went for a more low-key relaxed approach – just jeans and  a cardy with my first Violet.

OWOP Day 6

Karen from Did You Make That? had the fabulous idea of celebrating the end of OWOP! in style with cocktails tomorrow night in B@1 in Kings Cross. I’ll be popping along in my final ensemble. Will you join us?

OWOP! Day 5…

OK it’s getting a little harder now. Far be it from me to complain about the weather – I can’t, it’s just too gorgeous, but it sort of scuppers some of my Violet styling plans, like wearing one under a woollen pinafore. It’s just too hot for woollen pinafores man!

But it’s not too hot for tights. I’m not getting my bare legs out in March – are you serious? There’s about two weeks of tanning and exfoliating to be done before the blue lifts off.

Owop! Day 5

It’s a first outing for the Tuck ‘n’ Silk ‘n’ Lace Violet, teamed up with my Ginger Bodgers skirt, grey tights and some nice little shoes from Office. What are your thoughts on tights and open toed shoes? I think it very much depends on the shoe – if there’s not too much toe, you’re good to go.

Apologies for the slight seam alignment issue there – ideally the blouse opening should be lined up with the front seam of the skirt but I was in a rush!

This pic was taken in the morning (I’m now writing this in the evening) and I am happy to report that all the loops stayed fastened on the Violet and it didn’t crease much at all during the day – except for where it’s tucked into the skirt.

I reckon this is my favourite outfit so far for OWOP! What about you? Have you found a new killer look from this week’s experimenting? I’ve seen some great outfits around the web so far, including Elisalex’s swing top/pencil skirt combo and Mela’s Ginger remix. There are a lot of quiet bloggers out there as well who I KNOW are doing OWOP so I’m looking forward to a bunch of great round-up posts  come the weekend!

Completed: Tuck ‘n’ silk ‘n’ lace violet

Tuck 'n' silk violet

I’m breaking with tradition here by not modelling this make and I do apologise, but I’m displaying my Tuck ‘n’ Lace Violet here on the washing line for the following reasons:

  1. My husband has gone to the Tate Modern for an exhibition so can’t do pics
  2. I am still feeling poorly and snotty and don’t want to inflict poorly-snotty-pics on you
  3. As the result of 2 I am still in my pyjamas despite it being 1.20 in the afternoon
  4. I’ll be modelling it later in the week as part of OWOP!

Does that excuse me this one time, miss? Please?!

Tuck 'n' silk Violet

So I wanted to do something different with this Violet. I had some beautiful creamy gold lace in my stash that was just sitting there and I realised it would go perfectly with the bronze-y silk I was making the Violet with. Remember I got a whole five metres for £15? And it’s vintage Liberty silk?! I love this fabric but it is a BITCH to work with. Pressing seams leaves terrible water marks that you have to steam out, it frays like a mad fraying thing… but it’s gorgeous isn’t it? So we’ll forgive its diva tendencies.

Tuck 'n' silk Violet collar

I used no less than THREE brilliant Colette tutorials. One for making little loops for the buttons, one for making tucks and one for adding a lace overlay to the collar. My tucks leave a lot to be desired and some of my loops are a little bigger than I wanted but overall I’m pleased I attempted them and I reckon it adds a vintage feel to the overall make.

Tuck 'n' silk Violet tucks and loops

Another beautiful day here in London! I’m going to go and have a shower now, nip over to the garden centre to lust after plants and stop feeling sorry for myself! Have a wonderful weekend!

What a to do list! Sewing projects to see me through… well quite a long time actually…

First off, thank you so much for all the lovely comments on the March Minoru. It’s really encouraged me to stretch myself a bit more and try more complicated patterns! I’ve worn it out and about already and the high collar has protected me from all these nasty gusts of cold wind and rain in London. Plus I can pretend I’m Wilfred from the Bash Street Kids:


And with that in mind (well maybe not the Wilfred bit – delete that), onto my next couple of sewing projects:

1. One pattern, one week

The inimitable Tilly has come up with a great challenge for stitchers everywhere with OWOP. The idea is to work a week’s worth of styling around your favourite pattern, whether that means making multiple versions or just trying to style one garment in a different way each day. I’ve chosen the Colette Violet for my week; I already have two versions here and here and I plan to make a third in time for the challenge. In the spirit of ‘trying new things’ I’m going to follow these excellent Colette tutorials on adding a lace collar, tucks and button loops – all to the same blouse!

Here’s the fabric and lace I’m using – do you think they work together? I think they do but in a really sweet old fashioned way.

Lace for violet

If you’d like to sign up to the challenge there’s still plenty of time. Head over to Tilly’s site for more details.

2. Mad Men Sewing Challenge

The super-gorgeous Julia Bobbin has unleashed a deadly combination of sewing and Mad Men obsession on us all: make your favourite Mad Men dress… by the end of March. Pinterest has been buzzing with inspirational pictures and (almost) audible gasps of delight since then. I’ve now got my vintage pattern, fabric and notions. I just have to do a quick muslin to check fit and we’re off. Here are the bits:

Mad Men

3. Nette’s Autumn Love dress pattern

I downloaded this free dress from Nette waaaay back last year and have been meaning to get stuck in for ages. Check out her version here – it’s adorable. I may have to grade up the pattern though (as she’s a little ickle) so it’s on with a muslin (post Mad Men of course!) and then I’ll be using the leftover grey corduroy from the March Minoru.

4. Ginger skirt, shortened

I love all the Gingers I’ve seen out there so far but I fancy shortening my version so it’s just above the knee. If I have enough of this gorgeous teal corduroy left then we’re on!


5. Sewaholic’s Renfrew

On a day trip to Brighton recently I bought this fabulous black and white stripey knit from Fabric Land. It’ll be perfect for Renfrew and I’ll be committing to memory Lauren’s Conquering Knits guide beforehand.


6. Finally! Finally! I get to work on the Hazel which I bought last year. I already have all the fabric ready to go. This will be a perfect spring dress – love the colour combination of grey and pink.

7. More granny squares!

I’ve got about 30 or so made up so far but I reckon I need about 200 to make a substantial blanket. This is gonna take a while…

8. Ooof and I almost forgot the Negroni for my homie

Yes my first venture into sewing for men (and sewing for someone other than myself for that matter) will take place later this year. We have the pattern, we just need material. Maybe a nice plaid for the wearable muslin and then whatever he wants for the main event. I think he’s torn between fifties prints and space robots at the moment…

There are more on the list: the Colette Truffle from the Sewing Handbook, a new Peony with lining… but this is quite enough to get my juices flowing thank you very much. So that’s pretty much spring sorted for me. How about you?

Colette Violet – the sequel

So I have a bit of a confession to make. I had intended to do something different with this version, maybe some piping or something round the collar. But I was so excited to be whipping up a blouse in a day I just kind got on with it instead. So it’s pretty much a carbon copy of the previous Violet – but in a different fabric. Hey – if it ain’t broke etc.

Colette Violet: The sequel

Again I used fabric from Walthamstow market at £2 a metre. Bargainous. The buttons are vintage and are from a stash my mother-in-law gave me a few years back. I love their larger size – they make me feel like a kid again for some reason!

Colette Violet: The sequel

I absolutely know I will make this again. I just can’t resist how easy or how cute it is. I’m in danger of slipping into Violet-dependency though…

Colette Violet: The sequel

In other news, I’m woefully behind on the Minoru sewalong. I’ve only just cut out the fabric. Plus, I know I won’t get any sewing time over the next couple of weeks so I’ll miss the deadline completely.  Thank god for blogs where you can go back in your own time and start again!

I’ve really been enjoying Sewaholic’s Renfrew pattern-testers cropping up all over the place. Karen and Jane‘s are particular highlights – fantastic versions and a great advertisement for the pattern. One for the list.

And finally, I’ve mastered* crochet! I’ve been whipping up granny squares when I get a moment for the last couple of days, ever since my friend Bridie came round for another tutoring session last week. I shouted and cried all the way through (sorry Bridie) but I got there in the end. I’m not up to the crochaliser standard yet, more’s the pity.

Yay for crochet

*When I say mastered I mean I can do one version of a granny square and my tension is probably all wrong but I’m happy as Larry just knowing that I’ve got the basics.

What about you? Any new crafty skills you’re learning? Does it feel weird being an absolute beginner again?

Completed project: A vintage-style Colette Violet

I’ve wanted to do the Colette Violet for a while. I’ve been thinking it’s more practical for me to have more separates in my wardrobe since (as lovely as dresses are) I’m more likely to reach for them on a bleary-eyed Monday morning in the dark. Plus I wanted a nice blouse or two to take with me on my holibobs that would be light and fresh in the heat but would cover and protect my pale Irish upper arms.

Colette Violet

I was inspired by the vintage feel of Lauren’s and Nette’s versions so I chose a very lightweight floral cotton and adapted the pattern so it was a much tighter fit (more details below). The buttons are vintage – doncha love the pink pop of colour?

Colette Violet

Lordy that’s a bit of a Prozac gaze isn’t it?!

Colette Violet

A closer look at the peter pan collar.

Colette Violet

Noof noof fluffy Gracie.

Pattern review: Colette Violet (short-sleeved version)

Difficulty rating for StitchandWitter: 2/5

Fabric used: Just under 2m of a lovely vintage-style floral cotton from Walthamstow market

Total cost of dress (not including pattern): Approx £8.50 (think fabric was about £2 a metre, buttons were £4.50 for six)

Fitting issues: Now I knew the Colette Violet is supposed to be a loose-fitting blouse, so I decided to cut out a size 8 from the pattern. But once put together I realised I still wanted a more slender fit. So I hacked off a good bit on either side (see pics below). I also knew that Colette patterns often need a width reduction across the shoulders on me, so I did it right this time and took about an inch off either side at the top of the armhole.

Altering pattern

Making issues: I’d previously made a blouse with a peter pan collar and got incredibly confused with the placket and the facing so it ended up being hideous inside (although it was one of my first sewing projects last year). This time, it went like a dream, with Colette patterns’ lovely relaxing yet instructive voice guiding me though each step. I now feel like I can go back to that vintage pattern and try it again! My buttonholes still aren’t perfect. I get this issue on my machine where I can see occasionally it’s not leaving the stitch in the fabric. Not quite sure what’s going on there – may have to consult the manual.

Skills learned: Adding a placket.

Anything to add? I tried to finish the edges of the facing with self bias binding like Lauren’s fabulous version. I followed Portia’s excellent tutorial for making bias binding – what a breeze! But then tragedy struck – my masking tape is evidently the stickiest EVER and my fabric is soft and thin – the two became inextricably linked and wouldn’t be separated. They are now locked together in their hellish fabric/paper union in the sewing room bin. Ah well. I just turned the edges under a quarter inch instead.

Will I make again? Yes – without a doubt, especially now I have my alterations in place on my tracing. I plan to do multiple versions  in all these fabrics, maybe adding piping to the collar and front edges too:

Fabrics for Colette Violet

Have you made anything multiple times? How do you keep the process fresh so you don’t get bored?