Liesel + Co Gallery Tunic and Dress

I’ve had this Liesel + Co Gallery Tunic since Christmas. It was my present from my brother Jamie, although it wasn’t hand picked by him, I kind of bought it for myself, as I know he finds buying present for me tricky. This is one I’m very happy with!

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Ironically I then lent it to my friend, Sara and she made it first. We’re pretty much the same size and have similar taste and are just looking at doing more pattern sharing. She made it up in a dark blue chambray with orange imitation ‘jeans’ topstitch and got lots of compliments. After I saw hers I knew I had to get my skates on and make mine.

Initially I was tempted to make it a black and white gingham, the same as the envelope photo, but I found a pretty white and blue craft cotton in Abakhan for £3.99 a meter. I love gingham and it’s massively on trend this summer, but I already have  skirt and shirt in black and white gingham – both charity shop finds, so thought a change would be good!

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When I first took up dressmaking again, I made a shirt dress, but based on sewing time, since having the kids, I haven’t tackled anything with a collar since. This project offered the perfect challenge as it also included a placket, which was a first for me. I went for the shirt option as I know it will definitely get worn.

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The instructions were really easy to follow and gave lots of extra detail, including hints and tips as you sewed and also split each stage really clearly. As I grab time for sewing on early morning weekend and after the kids go to bed, this made it easy to breakdown the pattern into bite sized chunks.

I loved sewing the collar which was finished with a slip stitch on the underside. The neat placket and box pleat in the back of the shirt were very satisfying to sew. I lengthened the box pleat in the back by around 4 cm and also took around 4 cm off the hem. Ironically them hem was the trickiest part to sew, due to the curve, but the bias helped.

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All in all I’m pretty chuffed with it. It’s super wearable, suits my style and was a snip at around eight pounds worth of fabric. Definitely on the list to make again.

My March Make – Simple Sew Crossover Back Blouse

When I’m not blogging regularly I feel a guilt – the same kind that you feel when you don’t call friend that you know you should. But as with all good friends they’re always there for you, whether you called or not and although I’ve not been blogging, I have been making!

I’ve a couple of bigger projects on the go and a good few waiting to be started, that will be shared in time. I did however manage to make a top that straddled February and March, so my promise to make a garment a month is staying true – well to some extent.

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This time I choose a very simple pattern, a Cross Over back blouse from Love Sewing (Issue 17) The Simple Sew #015 Jersey Top and cross over back blouse dual pattern. The irony is that I think I chose the wrong fabric, which proved a little troublesome at times.

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Blue is one of my favourite colours and I find myself wearing it more and more, as the birthdays pass by. Being quite pale, black tends to wash me out, although I wear it from time to time. I found this blue pinstriped polyester cotton mix in Leons, which is a South Manchester (and Birmingham) fabric shop, but unfortunately not online.

The pattern was really straight forward, with just three main pieces and three facings. There were also sleeve facings and although I cut these, I didn’t sew these on, for reasons I’ll explain.

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The polyester mix was a little thicker and heavier than I expected. Once I’d attached the facing to the main pieces they kept dropping and didn’t even stay in place with a tack as suggested in the instructions. Also the fabric pulled quite easily, so some of the very light tacks are almost visible from the front – well to my eye anyway.

It proves that a test fit is worth it’s weight in fabric, as after sewing the side and shoulder seams I slipped the top on (hospital gown style!) to find that the armholes were too tight. I’m no body builder, but it wouldn’t have been a comfortable wear so I reduced the seam allowance to 5mm around the arm hole and that did the trick.

Based on this rather than added the armhole facing, which I had dutifully cut and interfaced but was quite heavy, I sought out some liberty bias binding and sewed this on, right sides together then hand tacked this on the inside of the sleeve, to avoid any bulk. I’m glad I did as it adds a pretty hidden touch to the top.

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I love the back detail, although again the fabric makes it balloon a little, rather than drape.

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Overall I’m happy with it but wished I’d used a 100% cotton, lawn or even a viscose that would have given it some drape and a more flattering shape. I’d normally wear a long sleeved top under this (I’m a cold girl at heart!), but boat neck won’t allow for this so this top will be broken out when the weather get a little bit warmer.

The bonus is I still have the other top to make which is next on my list.

Winter warmer cushions from Vintage scottish wool

At the last Vintage Home Show at Manchester’s beautiful Victoria baths, I bagged myself a bargain or two. One of my finds was a piece of Scottish wool in a turquoise, green and navy check and at £5 I knew it would be perfect for a couple of cushions, with some left to spare.

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The front room of our house is my new ‘project’, but rather than been able to get stuck in a splash some paint around, we have to have the slopey floor fixed first, so I am feeling some creative frustration. The room will eventually be a ‘grown ups’ room, with not a toy in sight and I’m hoping for an opulent, but functional feel. I’m struggling a little with colour scheme, but know this fabric belongs in there so thought I’d get started on the cushions.

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After saying I want opulent, I choose a lightweight denim backing as I have a throw to make out of a bright gold faux fur (sounds hideous but honestly it’s not!) and I’d like to use denim for the backing of this too.

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To add some interest and make the cushion look more finished I also wanted a piped edge and I used this tutorial from  The Seasoned Homemaker, as piping is not something I seem to sew very often and just to be sure I wanted to refresh my memory.

I don’t own a piping foot but by a bizarre stroke of luck, I had one from work waiting to go back to the Janome office, so I gave it a go and how much easier it made sewing piping. Specifically designed, with a groove to keep the piping running straight along the feed dogs, the needle sews through a hole in the foot allowing your stitching to be right up against the piping cord.

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I also used it to baste the piping onto the cushion foot and again for sewing on the backing to ensure all of the layers were sewn together neatly and in the right place. Definitely one for my ‘sewing stuff  to buy’ list!

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Rather than a simple envelope back I decided to go for a zip envelope back and found this great step by step on s.o.t.a.k. handmade. Sometime following a step by step makes life super easy, even if you could work it out yourself!

So , I’m one step nearer to the perfect space to relax in – just another 100 or so steps to go!

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Shoes to ‘dye’ for … or maybe not!

Happy new year everyone!

I’ve already had a tidy up in the office/ craft room/ spare room (mainly because my father in law is coming over to stay), when I came across these shoes which have been collecting dust.

One of my New Years resolutions is to finish some unfinished projects, or even unstarted projects and with very good intentions I’d bought a navy leather shoe dye from Fred Aldous in the summer, to see what results I got dying a pair of shoes. The shoes were a charity shop find, so I figure nothing ventured, nothing gained.

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The Dylon Leather Shoe Dye comes with some very clear instructions (you can expect nothing more from Dylon) and the first stage was to wipe over the shoes with white spirit. This was a hurdle as I couldn’t find any anywhere in the house, shed or loft, so I had to buy some!

The dye come with a little brush, but I had a sponge to hand just in case that would be useful and as advised I wore gloves.

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After carefully brushing on the dye the shoes looked like this, which seemed like a pretty good coverage, but this fooled me, as this is only the look when they are wet.

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This is what they looked when they were dry and the leather took on a more water coloured mottled appearance.

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The first coat looked okay, but not incredibly even. I put this down to the brush being too bristley as it left brushstrokes in the dye.

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I applied another two coats, then realised that the uneven distribution of dye couldn’t be resolved on the front of the left shoe. It may be that that area of leather can’t take the dye. I did occur to me  that I’d been too adventurous trying to dye from a light colour to a dark.

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This is the final result, which is patchy in places. I tried on the final coat to use the sponge for a more even coverage but that simply moved the dye around. Maybe I should have left them to dye longer between coats? Or maybe once they’ve dried over night tonight, I’ll polish them and see how they look.

Overall, I’m sure this work brilliantly on shoes that have lost their shine, or are in need of a bit of sprucing up. It was fun trying, which I suppose is what it’s all about.

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Felt Lollipop Garland

To say the run up to Christmas has been busy would be a huge under statement. Two kids, one magazine and another Hochanda appearance and lots of catching up with far off friends have all added to the mayhem – but I’m home and dry now. The only thing not to have had my attention is the blog!

So it’s a festive post today, to sign off for Christmas and show my felt lollipops that I taught at The Handmade Christmas Fair. They are really simple to make – my friend’s daughter Sarah made one and she’s 6!

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I originally made these for a Simply Homemade commission earlier in the year and they’re a good kid’s gift make. For Christmas, I’ve made some red and white ones and put them on a my stair garland (a bargain £4 from HobbyCraft) along with my son Max’s finger knitted garland – another great craft for kids. He chose the colours himself, which are very scandi inspired.

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So here’s the how to and the PDF template for those of you who came along to my Handmade Fair workshop. And if not they’re a simple make for anytime of the year.

Have a fantastic Christmas and see you in the New Year!

Equipment and materials

  • Red felt (10 x 16 cm)
  • White sticky back felt – also from Hobby craft
  • Matching  threads
  • Wooden lollipop sticks ( the wider ones work better)
  • Stuffing
  • Pencil
  • Fabric scissors
  • Spiral template (click here  for the PDF version Template.LOLLIPOP)

How to …

Step 1 – Cut two circles 8 cm wide from the red felt.

Step 2 – Transfer the spiral template onto card and cut out the inner spiral. Draw round the spiral on the  paper side of the sticky back felt

Step 3 – Remove the backing paper from the sticky back felt and stick the spiral on top of on of the felt circles.

Step 4 – Pin together the two circles with spiral on the outside and blanket stitch ( or whip stitch) around the edge of the circles, leaving a 3 cm gap at the base for the stick. Leave a 12 cm length of thread to finish.

Step 5 -Gently stuff the lollipop.

Step 6 – Cut a small strip of sticky back felt – 8 cm x 0.5 cm wide and wrap 6 cm down from the top of the stick.

Step 7 -Insert the lolly stick and position so that the stuffing sits between the stick and the felt circle. Re thread your needle with the loose thread and  sew the hole closed, sewing through the thin felt strip on the stick.

Step 8 – You’re done!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Love Sewing’ Kimono Jacket – My November make

Love Sewing is a great magazine and I’ve been inspired by it since it came out around two years ago. I love the free patterns, the projects, the sewing tit bits that you wouldn’t find out about anywhere else, but I’ve only managed to make a couple of things from it, that is until I’ve been challenging myself  to dress make more.

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This Kimono style jacket by the very talented Fiona Hesford of Sew Girl, (Love Sewing 19) caught my eye straight away and I knew that it was, again, a garment I wouldn’t be able to find in the shops in a fabric I liked. I’m a committed cardigan wearer, but also get very bored of wearing one of the 10 or more cardis I own! Time for something new to keep me warm and help me out of my wardrobe rut!

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As it’s turned out my choice of fabric, a gorgeous wool with chevron pattern through it, from Abakhan has pushed this project over the edge into an outdoorsy style jacket. It’s turned out far more sophisticated garment than something to wear hanging around in the house. The fabric was a snip at £15 and I’m really pleased with the end result. Here’s a few things I did differently, just in case you feel inspired:

  • When I cut out my pattern, because of the distinctive chevrons, I wanted to make sure the front strip matched the front bodice pieces. I laid the pattern strips out length ways along the selvedge and matched this up as best as I could with the front piece I’d already cut. I also cut around 15 cm extra on each long length, then trimmed this away, at the back of the neck when I’d matched up the pattern.

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  • As I was working with material the constantly frayed, I sewed Hong Kong Seams along all of the seams, which means encasing the raw edges with bias binding, to stop further fraying and to neaten everything up.

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  • As above I follow the instruction to sew french seams at the shoulder, but also used french seams under the arms and along the sides of the jacket.
  • The size I cut was a medium (12 – 14) and I’m a traditional size 12 but I could have easily cut a small ( 8-10) to make it fit snugger. I’m happy though with the fact it’s a little on the big size as I can wear it with a cosy jumper underneath!

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And finally a shot of me wearing it – not the best photo ever, but there’s no one home to help with this today! next on my list is a belt from the remaining fabric, to make it uber stylish!

 

 

 

 

 

Felt and fabric boxes

It’s been a hectic week to say the least, but there will be no more prepping as it’s the Kirstie’s Hand Made Christmas Fair in Manchester  – it’s showtime! I’ll be doing one of my favourite things, teaching people to craft and here’s a link are the workshops I’ll be doing. There have been a lot of button ornaments made this week to say the least!

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As part of my Felt Flowers workshop, I’ll be show crafters how to make the flowers and also showing how they can be used to decorate pretty much anything. I thought it would be good to share the felt boxes, that will be shown at the workshop. I created these earlier on in the year for a project in Simply Homemade magazine. They are perfect as keep sake boxes or a nice crafty alternative to Christmas wrapping. They’ll be up there on the stage with me as the supporting act!

Equipment and materials

  • Coloured felt
  • Patterned cotton
  • Bondaweb
  • Fabric scissors
  • Hot glue gun and sticks
  • Iron and ironing board

For a 10 x 10 cm square box

Step 1 – Cut pieces of felt, bondaweb and patterned cotton fabric measuring 32 x 32cm.

Step 2 – Position the bondaweb, paper side up onto of the felt and iron on a medium heat. Peel away the paper, position the cotton onto and iron.

Step 3 – Trim the edges to create a 30 x 30 cm square and draw a grid of nine 10 x 10 cm squares onto the fabric side, using tailors chalk or an erasable fabric marker.

Step 4 – Draw a diagonal line from each centre square corner to the outside corner of the felt. Cut away triangular sections as shown in the image, making sure the inside corners are cut neatly.

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Step 5 – Create crisp edges on each outer section and triangular flap by folding each piece inwards, fabric side facing, and pressing.

Step 6 – With the felt side facing up, hot glue a thin line along each edge of one triangle section. The glue should be approximately 5 mm away from each edge to avoid glue on the outside of box. Quickly position the triangle on the corresponding box side. Repeat on all sides.

Step 7 – To create a lid, cut pieces of felt, bondaweb and patterned cotton fabric measuring 23 x 23cm. Repeat stage 2.

Step 8 – Trim the side to create 21 x 21 cm square and draw grid with the centre square measuring 11 x 11 cm and the outer squares measuring 5 x 5 cm. Repeat stages 4 to 6 to construct your lid.

For a rectangular box

Use the same method as above, but cut your felt, bondaweb and patterned cotton pieces into rectangles. When drawing the grid onto the cotton replace the squares with rectangles.

 

Fun, felt Hungry caterpillar story set

My kid’s school is just the best! Everyone and everything is geared towards learning and making sure the kids have a great time while they are doing it. So when the word got around the infant site that I could sew and I was asked by one of the nursery teachers, Miss Camp, if I could make a Hungry catepillar story set. An easy decision that I just couldn’t resist. Firstly because I love the idea and secondly because it’s for the school.

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It’s not an original idea as I’ve worked from a tiny picture I was sent (and unfortunately can’t find to  credit) but I’ve tried to make it my own, by adding a 3D caterpillar and a few touches to make the fruit longer lasting.

I drew my own templates, from pattern card, for each fruit using various bowls and glasses from the cupboard and once I’d cut then out got my four year old daughter to hold them to check the size. (You can see the felt pen marks where I’ve used them!)

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Step 1 – Draw out the number of each fruit needed on to corresponding coloured felt. Remember to reverse your template for the front and back piece of the fruit so your hold is in the right place on each piece.

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Step 2 – To create some padding I used a low loft fusible fleece I had in my stash and fused this to each side of the felt. I drew round the fruit again, reversing for front and back and them cut them out approximately 5mm smaller. To save time you could just make a set of smaller templates. I wish I’d done this but was too near the end, by the time I’d realised. I wanted to make the center firmer, so cut a similar size fruit shape from lampshade making  PVC. I’m lucky to have pieces of the PVC hanging around, but if not you could just use stiff cardboard to stop the fruit from ‘drooping’

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Step 3 – The most complex shape was the strawberry and I cut the stem separately and then machine stitched the bottom half of the stem to the fruit shape. I also cut yellow seeds and hand stitched these on. Any additions such as stems and hand stitches need to be done before you apply the PVC or card.

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Step 4 – Stitch around the edge of each fruit starting at the top and sewing to the center bottom. As the felt will naturally stretch, I then stitch down the opposite side to avoid baggy fruit (!) and to ensure even stitching.  For the fruit with stems I simply glued the stems on to get a clean result, as sewing such small pieces of felt just pulls the fibres and creates a bit of a mess!

I blanket stitched the holes using regular cotton as they were too tricky to machine stitch.

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Step 5 –  To make the caterpillar I took a 15 cm long by 10 cm wide piece of felt. Every 3 cm from the short edge hand I sewed a line of running stitch from the long edge to long edge. I left a long loose end and then gently pulled the threads and tied off and then stuffed this with toy fill. I repeated this all the way along until each section was full and then slip stitched along any gaps underneath.

The face was made by blanket stitching round two red felt ovals and then stuffing very gently with toy fill before closing up the hole. The eyes, nose, ears and legs were all glued on with Gutterman H2 textile glue – my favourite glue! I then sewed the head to the body hiding the stitch underneath the head.

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Step 6 – For the leaf I drew the freehand the design I wanted and then simply sewed over it, applied the PVC and stitched it together.  By attaching a ribbon to the end of the leaf and the back end of the caterpillar the fruits stay on the ribbon!P1010414

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Step 7 – To finish it all off I made a drawstring bag with an apple motif on it so that the fruit pieces don’t get lost!

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Happy making!

Spring Bulb Planters – the pot that just keeps giving…

If you’re a crafter you’ll know the feeling when you create something in your head, that either it might not even work, you don’t know if it exists or you have no idea how to do it. For this idea it was the later, as I’m not know for my green fingers and rely heavily for advice from my friend Dave ‘who lives near the beach’, my Mum and my Step Mum, Trish.

This idea is was born from trying to creating some different Christmas presents, that are not run of the mill and are economical and fairly easy to make.

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So to explain, the ‘Pot that keeps on giving’ is a long thin plant pot, planted with Narcissi, Tulips, Mini Tulips and Miniature irises, in such a way that there will be some colour bursting out from February through to April. I looked up if this was possible and found some great advice from Sarah Raven, who digitally held my hand during the process. You can find her guide to layering bulbs here.

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And here’s how to do it.

Step 1 – You’ll need a long thin planter (mine measure 33 cm high and 25 cm wide at the top) and a selection of bulbs, that will flower at different times throughout spring. As you can see mine are from Asda, so nothing too special or particularly expensive.

Step 2 – Cling film the planter while it’s empty to protect it from frost and also so it can look as good as new when you remove it! Place crocks or broken pots at the bottom of your pot.

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Step 3 – Add compost to roughly a quarter of the height of the pot. This is based on three layers – a quarter of compost between each one.

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Step 4 –  Place you first layer of bulbs in the pot, points upwards. I choose Narcissi because they were the tallest of my flowers and flowered first.

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Step 5 – Layer up another quarter of compost place your next bulbs in position. Tulips next for me, and just three per pot.

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Step 6 –  Repeat the compost again and add the final layer of bulbs, which for me was around 10 cm below the top of the pot. I used Miniature Irises (the white bulbs) and one mini tulip in the centre.

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Step 7 – I’ve put this picture in simply because I like the colours of the mini tulip bulbs!

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Step 8 – Cover over with compost, place tray under each post and water well. Store in a sheltered spot until you need to deliver your presents.

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Hopefully this will work and I’ll be able to update you next spring when I visit the lucky recipients! Sarah Raven held my hand during the process and you can find her guide to layering bulbs here.

To finish then off I am going to try and illustrate (again not my strong point!) a label for each one picturing the flowers.

Let me know if you give it a try…

 

Tilly and the Buttons Arielle skirt – My October make

Since making two tops in the kids summer holidays I set myself a target of making one garment a month. That’s not quite gone to plan, as it’s now the end of October, but I’m going to claim that the Arielle skirt is possibly a ‘two month’ kind of project.

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It’s the first smart ‘garment’ I have made to date and I chose it because it’s not the kind of skirt you see in the shops. The Tilly and the Buttons packaging is just gorgeous. The instruction booklet very clear, with step by step photos in a very Tilly style which were importantly easy to follow.

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The wool tweed, is something I came across in my ‘large fabric’ box, which is normally reserved for old charity shop curtains, I will eventually make some use of. The fabric is lovely, medium weight and grey – one of my favourite colours – and I really have no idea where it came from. It’s possible it was from my lovely French friend Maud who skipped off to Qutar last year leaving me all sorts of crafty things and some pretty nice furniture to boot.

Anyway, to spice up the  grey I thought I’d go for a citrus contrast – one of my other current favourite colours – so this is the lining I chose from Leons in Chorlton, South Manchester and the buttons from the old faithful Abakhan.

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I’ve taken to tracing all of my pattern with baking paper, which is a fairly time consuming way of starting out on a pattern, but when using an indie pattern I simply don’t want to spoil it! Also at some point I might want to make it for someone else or in the very, very long term my daughter might want to make it – she’s 4!

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It’s a pretty fitted skirt with a gorgeous curvy waist. I’ve discovered after my ‘fit buddy’ (aka Mum) had pinned me into the skirt, that I have the waist and hips of a boy with next to no curve at all. It meant a lot of pattern alteration, which gave me a few headaches, but I’ve been very conscientious and remarked all my pattern pieces ready for the next time I make it.

One tip I would give is to tailor tack the buttonholes and button positions onto the fabric, as this was critical when my mum fitted the skirt. It would have been impossible to know where the buttons and buttonhole would have lined up, if I hadn’t hand stitched them in.

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The verdict is I love it and I’m wearing it today for a visit to the Sewing Made Simple office, so somebody had better ask me if I made it!