Chilli Tears

People who wear contact lenses should NEVER prepare chilli peppers without wearing gloves.

NB This is more of  a public service announcement than a ploy for the sympathy vote but why do I always forget until afterwards?

(Sniffles off and hopes the Sweet potato and Spinach curry is worth it.)


Summertime Blues Jacket featured in Sew Hip #8

This is the original sketch I did for my latest published Sew Hip project.

The final version shows some slight variations in terms of fabric choice, and also how the patchwork was done, but it is still quite close.

The fabric is a jelly roll once again – can you detect a theme yet? – this time in glorious sea blues and greens, topstitched with orange.

It is a little extra work to use a jelly roll like this as you have to “create” the fabric first. This does have advantages though – it gives loads of scope for making your own version entierly unique, and also for recycling fabric or using up small bits that aren’t enough to make a garment with on their own. It made me appreciate that while I’m a big fan of recycling for lots of reasons, it isn’t always a low cost option in terms of time. I guess this will be a factor in why sometimes recycled goods can seem expensive, and why as a rule it is more sustainable to choose to reduce and reuse if possible before considering recycling.

Ok so here it is, still in batik but in a different colourway for my son.

The hood here isn’t pieced because I didn’t have enough of the right colour strips in my jelly roll, but it used up a little of my gingham stash and saved a little piecing time too.  

The lining is a stretch terry towelling. The ribbing started its life as a tshirt of mine. It does mean that there are seams in the sides of the ribbing, but  I was having trouble locating the right colour and that tshirt had seen better days. It is a much happier being an ex-tshirt.

PS many sandcastles were made this day on the beach

Wrap Road Test

Mobius Wrap on the beach

Mobius Wrap on Porthmeor Beach, St Ives

Well, more of a beach test I guess. Half term break saw a bunch of us camping in St Ives, Cornwall.  I don’t know how this happens but I’m generally last in the queue when it comes to sewing but I just managed to finish a Möbius wrap for myself before we left. In fact this is a lie, I finished the sewing bit before we left, but the fringe bit was clipped in Cornwall once we’d pitched the tent.

Mine is a bit longer than the pattern calls for – mostly because I just got carried away when I was cutting out the strips. I had to  cut them because I’d bought thin 1/4 yard pieces – a direct result of falling in love with a fabric collection that isn’t available as a jelly roll format. (The fabric is the Al Fresco collection by Michelle D’Amour, I bought it from  Patchwork Corner ).

I think I might remove some of the strips as it is a little too long for my preference, but it still came in very handy on the beach:-

  • for covering up bits that were in danger of burning
  • for protecting against the brisk ocean breeze that popped up every now and again
  • for covering my modesty when trying to get changed from my swimsuit into my dry clothes (used in conjuction with a towel!)
  • for protecting my Cornish pasty from the voracious herring gulls

And at the campsite:-

  • for warming my shoulders as the sun went down while sharing a glass of wine or two with friends
  • for those midnight trips to the shower block
  • for holding a ball of wool in while knitting (it sits in the folded bit in the front very nicely) – you don’t want sand and bits of grass in your lovely new ball of yarn

I’m a frustratingly slow knitter but something about Cornwall always inspires me to buy wool. It is a peculiar weakness of mine when in St Ives.  It does mean I get to spend quality time in nice craft and knitting shops though, meeting some very lovely people (hello Norma and Heidi  at Kuiama Crafts in Fore St, St Ives and to Kay Bartlett and her bears in the House of Bartlett gallery just on St Ives harbour ). 

frescoknittingThis time it was a very tempting little “Sock It To ‘Em” Starter kit containing everything you need make a pair of socks, including a ball of clever Opal 4 ply varigated yarn that makes patterns all on it’s own. I’ve not knitted socks before so I don’t know what possessed me really; I have started, honest, but I can’t promise to actually finish the socks any time before Christmas. Even though I’m a sock rookie I’m enjoying it, but a though occurs – any ideas how to get the patterns on the socks the same?  or shall I go “dangerous” and have intentionally odd looking ones?  

A batch of wraps has been popping up on the Sew Hip Flickr pool, I can’t tell you how much I love seeing what others have done with the design, and seeing the different ways of wearing it.

Almost makes up for being back behind the keyboard and not on the beach!

Adrienne’s Mobius Wrap


A friend of mine who has shared many sewing adventures and quilting epics over the years has made the Mobius wrap up in some beautiful batik fabrics.

The fabrics were from Hoffman’s  version of a Jelly Roll which they call a “Bali Pop”, this one is their “Mulberry” colourway. Adrienne opted for the ragged edge version, and I think she’s made a very fine job of it.

This is the first wrap I’ve seen completed by someone other than me, so it’s a bit special for me.

We don’t live very close so I don’t see her very often but Adrienne is a source of encouragement and inspiration to me. Just last weekend she completed the Playtex Moon Walk, not just a  stroll round a park, this was a 26 mile marathon walk and quite a challenge. Amazing. If Adrienne were here with me I’d give her a big hug, but the way she’s wearing the wrap it looks a bit like being hugged – it isn’t quite as good but it will have to do. 

Well done, and hope your feet recover soon. (At least sewing is a sitting down job!)

Chanel Jacket Workshop

p4290195As a bit of a treat I spent the day on Saturday at Bamber’s Sewing Machines in Eccles at Lorna Knight’s workshop on how to construct a jacket “Chanel Style”. Lorna was at pains to point out that the workshop was orginally developed by Terry Fox, and there were certainly some very comprehensive notes included, but Lorna herself really knows her stuff and is a very sympathetic tutor. As well as running her own sewing academy offering sewing workshops and courses, Lorna is a regular contributor to Sewing World Magazine, and is one of the experts over at (click on the link to see some articles she has written about techniques for making lingerie, another of Lorna’s areas of expertise). As if that weren’t enough, Lorna has written two books and has another in the pipeline.  We were in good hands.

p4290200All of the ladies on the workshop came away with a half jacket sample, purposely left unfinished so that we could remind ourselves of the techniques and take a peek at the construction again.  (Pictured is some hand stitching attaching a stay made from silk organza to the front edge of the jacket).

p4290197The fabrics we used to make the sample were top quality – silk  dupion and organza, and the main fabric was one of  the fancy weaves from Linton Tweeds, again in 100% silk. It behaves beautifully when you work with it – trouble is that now I’m completely spoilt for using anything else!

 I learned a lot both from Lorna and also from some very lively ladies on the course (thanks so much for the tip about silk sleeping bag liners ladies, there were many other topics of conversation it’s probably best not to mention on a polite blog! Suffice to say we had a good giggle).

A thoroughly enjoyable day – I’d recommend it to anyone who has basic skills and wants to further them, or if you’re like me – loving that Chanel style and just wanting to have an uninterrupted day of sewing goodness.

So when will you see my very own Chanel style jacket? Well, that is a very good question that I just can’t answer at the moment. The problem is indecision. First of all I can’t decide if I should go with the commercial pattern I already have or draft my own.

 Vogue 7975It will be quicker to use the commercial pattern – even after making the alterations I know I’ll need to make it fit just so (after attending yet another invaluable course at Bamber’s – this time a Palmer Pletsch fitting workshop run by the inimitable Celia Banks). But I’m not sure about the princess seam style line. Due to the construction techniques Lorna so deftly showed us, Chanel jackets want a simple shape, although I do want a small amount of shaping at the front.  I think I might prefer the shaping to be in a seam that ends in the armscye rather than at the shoulder though…hmm I’ll have another think about that tomorrow.

p4290202Secondly I can’t decide about fabric. I do have this Linton Tweed that I got from the Sewing For Pleasure exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham in March. I really like it – trouble is it is really just a skirt length (Linton Tweed’s stand had a bit of a deal on them). I’ll have to do a bit of creative pattern layout to see if I can possibly squeeze a three quarter sleeve length jacket from it….otherwise I’ll have to save my pennies up to buy another length as I don’t think I’ll be able to match this.


Sounds like I’m making excuses for not starting this project doesn’t it?

 You’re right, I should just go for it. Well perhaps I’ll sleep on it tonight ……( I wouldn’t hold your breath for that jacket if I were you!)

Möbius Wrap featured in Sew Hip magazine #7

This is my latest design published in Sew Hip magazine. The pattern for the wrap can be found in Issue 7.  In fact, I’m thrilled to say, it even made the cover. A wonderful compliment! (And yes that’s me too on page 98 sewing the hem of my ClothKits skirt – at least you know which pages to avoid now!) .

The wrap is based on the idea of a Möbius Strip. The construct is used quite often for knitted scarves and wraps (usually unintentionally by me – I’m not the world’s most able knitter!) but not so commonly in woven fabric.  I liked the idea of constructing it this way because once all of the fabric strips are sewn together you really can’t tell where you began and finished. 

This is what it looks like in a different set of fabrics to the ones used for the sample garment in the magazine – this one was made from a “jelly roll” of “Charisma” fabric by Moda (for my sister 🙂 ). Jelly rolls are strips cut from each fabric in a collection from a designer. I like the look but it can be too busy for some people to want to wear as a garment. Happily it  isn’t obligatory to use a jelly roll for making the wrap – you could choose fewer fabrics or a more limited colour scheme to calm it down a bit.

It can be made from fat quarters instead of a jelly roll if you prefer, or any strips of fabric. The first few commissions I’ve done for Sew Hip all revolve around the design challenge of making items from 2.5″ strips of fabric. All of the projects would lend themselves very easily to “wardrobe refashions” or fabric recycled from worn or unused textiles.

Here is the Obi Belt made from a pair of my son’s school trousers (we go though quite a few pairs of these as none of them have indestructable knees!). A percentage of them get made into shorts for the Summer – but sadly we just don’t get that much Summer so I “harvest” the trouser fabric for other projects.  The fabric for the ties was offcuts of hand dyed silk dupion leftover from a previous sewing project.

As usual, if you make a Mobius Wrap I’d really love to know how it turned out, you can share your pics of any projects you’ve made from the mag in the Sew Hip Flickr group .

Cherry Blossom Time

Cherry BlossomNot the biggest tree, not the bluest sky, not all of the blossoms are out yet – but there is still something about seeing the first cherry blossom that makes me feel very glad indeed.

allbutafewAs the nights are getting lighter it gets harder for small people to drop off to sleep. So it is also with great gladness that I’ve managed to track down a second hand copy of my very favourite story book from my childhood to share with my son at bedtime. It is a book of short stories called “All But A Few” by Joan Aiken. It is written in her quite straightforward and no nonsense style that doesn’t patronise the reader, whilst still being imaginative and fanciful. They are really magical stories to read on these early Spring evenings with the shoots and blossoms magically appearing where there were no signs of life before.

The copy I’ve got is in far from perfect condition. A previous owner has colourfully written their name on the inside cover….and “improved” some of the black and white illustrations. I would never have done this to a book when I was younger, but now it makes me smile because that reader obviously loved the stories too.

My son seems to be enjoying them, I hope they make him remember and smile when he is grown.