Vilene Hot Spots with Minerva Crafts

Minerva Crafts have once again let me have a play about with some new products - and this one was certainly new to me!

This time it was Vilene Hot Spots! What on earth is that I hear you say? Good question.... 

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Secret Sewing and Plotting Plans...

Hello all, it's been a bit quite on the blog of late hasn't it...

Main reason being I just totally lost my sew-jo for a few weeks. It was a busy October and I didn't get much chance to do any creative crafting, however I also just didn't fancy it - happens sometimes right!

I got a bit stuck on something I felt I needed to make but didn't actually want to. Because I couldn't bring myself to start that project I just came to a stand still. The thing in question was going to be a Christmas gift (relax peeps its November, we can talk about it now). As chance would have it, I found the future-recipient of said gift something altogether different and far more lovely and useful from an actual shop.

If any of my close pals or family are reading this - I'm fairly sure they are thinking 'dear god let that be handmade crap this year pleeeeeeeasse'. Schrodinger's Christmas gift. Until December you both have and have not got a handmade present. Mwhahahah.

However, since setting that idea aside it seemed to free up some brain space and the sew-jo came back. A couple of days ago I went a bit nuts and just started cutting out and planning EVERYTHING. It got out of hand.

So there's nothing in particular to share with you today - just some muttering and musing :)

Secret sewing is back on track and Christmas presents are being made - so of course I can't blog about them!

In other news, as my brain went a bit on overdrive, I've been updating my to-sew list and giving it a revamp. We have a lovely new sofa so I'd really like to make a small festive quilt to go on it from the amazing Higgs and Higgs Nordic Christmas fabric I picked up at the sewing bee live.

I may have given myself WAY too much to do before the holidays. Especially as in the midst of all this selfless sewing - I totally got distracted by the Kalle Shirt dress expansion pack - sleeve version - and have to make that.... of course.

Photo: Close Case Patterns
Also of extreme interest is the project going on over at Randomly Happy. Elena is doing a Capsule Wardrobe for Makers series, and whilst I will never be someone with only 15 items in my wardrobe - I seem to wear only about 15. Especially these days as I now work at home and instinctively reach for something comfortable. There is a great pdf download to get you thinking about the activities you actually do in life  and the types of clothing that would be good to create to fit those needs. I think I'll give it a little go - it could be a good project for the New Year and any potential future sewing plans.

There's a few things coming up on the blog soon - another make for Minerva next week and then a bit review of the M7629 shirt in some fab fabric from the Fabric Godmother.

Wishing everyone a lovely week!

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An ode to the Driftless that never was...

Alas, dear Driftless, we could have been such good friends.

The heartbreaking tale of one woman and a pile of &@£@£ expensive fabric that met a bittersweet end.

As a self-proclaimed fan of Grainline Studio and the Lark Tee and Scout Tee patterns - I thought it was about time I tried out the Driftless Cardigan.

Now I don't think I've ever made a cardigan before so this was new territory - and in deepest December (2016!!) when I started this, it seemed like a great idea. (Oh how wrong I would be). A soft cosy thick knit cardy - what could be better right? Hmmmm....

I found some great sweater knit fabric (aka stupidly expensive horrendously itchy fluff maker) a while back from Fabric Godmother - wool knit in black, red and grey, ex-designer stock. It's beautiful (it was beautiful) but wow does that get messy fuzzy thread everywhere.

A bit of Pinterest stalking later I settled on size.... After reading some reviews of the pattern I lengthened it by about an inch or so because - leggings. I also widened the sleeve pieces by just straightening them up (they are tapered) as this gal has arms.

I should have read the signs at this point. Turns out even doing that I could barely get my arms in the sleeves without feeling like I was having my blood pressure taken. And.....oh....the...itching.

Apart from losing myself under a million tons of fluff and thread, the second disaster was the pockets. Now, this is not the pattern's fault - the pockets are beautifully drafted and actually really simple to construct - if you can see what you're doing. This fabric was so thick I couldn't sew it with a regular machine as it just wouldn't take it so the whole thing was serger based. Not ideal when the pattern calls for a lovely sharp corner. So one pocket was bigger than the other and hangs out a bit strangely :-/

The third epic disaster was that it then destroyed my overlocker. I'm not sure if  I hit a pin or what but the loopers full-on bent out of shape!!! No amount of messing with it could fix it so off to the overlocker-hospital it went. :(

And there the Driftless sat for 2 overlocker came back fixed but with a warning, it should be replaced soon - and I just daren't break it again with the same project! The cardigan got resigned to UFO status whilst I desperately got the satisfaction of making something...anything...before my overlocker broke again. However, a couple of projects later I braved it and tried again.

NO PINS SHALL GO NEAR THY OVERLOCKER EVER AGAIN!!! I made sure clips were used on all of it. Then the &@£$%$ thing broke again and chewed up a sleeve.

The whole thing got shoved in a carrier bag and back into the UFO pile for another good few months. I have no idea why but a few weeks ago it began to niggle at me - I could feel its presence in the cupboard calling out like some weird telepathic tribble.

Time to bring it out again and deal... to finish or not to finish it, that was the question. Expensive fabric and a £250 bill for repairs makes this hands down THE  MOST EXPENSIVE NON-CARDIGAN in the known universe. This is what £300 looks like people...... :(

I'm an avid fan of Yoga with Adriene (bear with me there is relevance here) and I received an email with the phrase "Out with that which once served but no longer has a place. In with practices that serve, me now." This resonated a bit as this year personally has been one hell of an ordeal and overhaul and I like the notion of just bringing some calm back - but also in respect to all these things we hang on to just because we feel we have to, but serves no real joy. 

OUT THE CARDIGAN WENT. Free from its fluffy shackles it was released back into the wild and donated for recycling of threads to be reincarnated into some other state. God speed fluffy pile of fabric, god speed. May you warm the feet of some other soul in the form of socks...

All was not lost then, it left a parting gift of wisdom. So thank you dear fluffy nightmare, for you have taught me well...some things just do not work out the way we want. Walk on. 

Amateur dramatics aside, I'm still not sure how I feel about making heavier knitwear. For a start, and despite my disaster of an attempt, any kind of sweater knit style fabric seems to be very scarce and hard to find. It's also very expensive when you do find it - so in the end its probably costing way more than a really good quality RTW would - which I know is not the point has some relevance. I love a good cable knit sweater or cosy cardy, I'm just not sure making them is the way forward for me yet.

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When in Rome...Orageuse

Rome is where the heart is....and I bloody love this bird shirt. However it did take a fair bit of labour to get there...

This is the first pattern I have tried from French company 'Orageuse' (which I think means 'Stormy') and... it was an experience! Although not entirely unpleasant...just...weird?

Fabric and notions: This incredibly amazing crepe is from Fabrics Galore - 'Bird Portrait'. The bug buttons (yeah I though birds eating bugs was a nice whimsical feature of this shirt :) are from Textile Garden (absolute amazing stuff if you haven't shopped there before!)

Size: I graded between sizes 42 bust, 44 waist and 46 hips. That was the largest size on the chart :( I know French ladies are beautiful and slim but that did strike me as a bit odd (I'm a UK 12).

As I'm new to this company I did do a toile to test the fit - you never know do you how indie brands differ. To my surprise the toile fit like a dream so that was that I thought. I even managed my first ever pin tucks at the back yoke. (A particularly nice design detail about this shirt).

Stuff that went awry: No joke I spent HOURS cutting this out to make sure everything was lined up, pattern matched, not slipping...just so. Despite my best efforts when I came to put it together it was

The armholes were huge! Down to my waist huge. Visible side boob. However I hadn't noticed this fact until I'd beautifully bound them with green satin. I have no idea why they were huge, same pattern piece, same cutting, same size as toile. Mystery. Rescue plan: I nipped them in where they should have sat and created a tapered dart down the side seam. As the shirt is quite voluminous it could take it. Phew.

In fixing the armholes and trimming excess for 'french' seaming - I cut a hole in the back :( Rescue plan: I stuck it together with interfacing on the back and hand stitched it together. As the print is quite busy it seems to get lost. Also phew.


The measurements and birds defy all known laws of physics. When I went to shorten the shirt - I measured very carefully each side, counted the rows of birds, and cut. But its uneven on one side!!! I still have no idea what's going on there. There are equal bird rows and equal measurements front and back. EQUAL. So how does the left side hang lower?? Oh well - you can't really tell due to drape so never mind. Rescue plan: Leave it the hell alone.

Ordinarily all these quirks would bother me but I actually still really like the shirt once it was done!

Modifications:  My version of the shirt is not exactly what the pattern intended but it is what I wanted. This is what I altered:
  • Regular button placket - I like buttons so I don't want them hidden, the centre section of the placket therefore got removed and I just popped the plackets on like a normal shirt
  • Yoke - the pattern only provides for one yoke piece. It's not lined. Given that there is a load of pleating in the back piece, it seemed a bit weird to have those raw edges hanging out so I created an inner yoke to enclose all the raw edges - Burrito Method!!
  • Yoke had to be cut in 2 pieces to create a shoulder seam. The pattern has one continuous yoke - if your print is directional its going to be upside down on the front of the shirt as the yoke goes over front to back without shoulder seams. I discovered this with the inner piece!
  •  I originally cut the dress length - intending to wear it as a tunic. In the toile I made this was about right - however in its shape shifting state the real version was too long and I ended up cutting about 5 inches off to just below the original shirt line anyway.
  • Shaped hem - I curved the hem at the sides instead of having the side slits. Part happy accident, part not understanding the instructions.  
  • Narrow rolled hem (as I feared taking off too much length)
Yoke - see what I mean about direction??
Personally I found the instructions to be a bit confusingly complex in some parts and and a bit vague in others. That being said I didn't really read them and just ploughed ahead with my own construction for the best part of it - so not sure I get much of an opinion on that one! Just for example though, the instructions state 'sew the side seams with a french seam'. That's all very well but there are 2 vent slits either side of the shirt and there's no instruction on how to actually deal with those or get a neat finish. Conveniently I had chopped off some of the length anyway so side slits were not an option anymore!

Overall: although it took what felt like forever to finish this seemly straight forward pattern and many things were wonky - I love it and would definitely make it again! This meets my criteria for being comfortable, practical but also a bit stylish/bit quirky. I like that the sleeveless design gives a good warm weather option, but great to under a cosy knit. And it covers your bum when wearing leggings - bonus.

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Norwich Sewcials did Great British Sewing Bee Live!

Just over a year ago myself and The Fabric Wrangler decided we'd start up a little group called Norwich Sewcials. Just a little chance for anyone that liked sewing to get together for coffee and chat about our hobbies... little did we expect that over the course of the year so many people would join, help and bring together our great little community.

When the Great British Sewing Bee Live event was announced, of course we wanted to go...but what started with a small trip out turned into..."shall we get a coach trip going?" A little ambitious to say the least but over the course of 3 months we sold out and filled our bus! What a lovely show of support and an exciting prospect.

Off we went on the first day of the exhibition, such an early start but tea service and raffle on board for the journey!

I'm sure so many of you out there got to visit at Excel and there will be so many similar blog posts but I thought it was certainly worth a mention. The day was little short of exceptional!

It was my first time at Excel and the venue was incredibly, so huge! Perfect for packing in all that sewing action... Particular highlights for me would be seeing sewing friends Eliza Sew Little and Melissa Fehr looking awesome in their sports gear. Within about 2 minutes of arriving I had made my first purchase...a pre-order of her new activewear book! Checking in with the Fold Line girls and seeing familar faces from the Sewing Weekender was so much fun.

There was a huge array of fabric stalls, which rather nicely were not repetative at all, they all had something unique to offer which was a very nice touch. 15 minutes into the day I had blown my budget at Fabrics Galore on a variety of novelty prints! (Ooops...although that was somewhat inevitable). Although we didnt see the main show, we did see Jenny Eclair and Patrick Grant!

I was introduced to Higgs and Higgs by my friends who had discovered them on Instagram. Not sure how they had passed me by to date as their fabrics were so beautiful. I picked up some amazing scandi geometric cotton to make a christmas throw. (Bottom left pic)

Another highlight for me was discovering The Arty Crafty Place who were running Indian block printing workshops and selling their kits. Those ladies were fabulous and realy took the time to explain their products, making bespoke kits with whatever print you fancied! I chose these rather hilarious chickens.

In addition to shopping there were some excellent exhibits including vintage handmade items which were exquisite, modern creations and makes from a variety of schools and colleges. In the pic below the dress on the right was from 1930 and had hand cut applique all around the neckline.

Fashion shows took place which were fun to watch and there was a neighbouring champagne bar! (The Fabric Wrangler seemed to be enjoying that one ;) Fuelled by chicken burger and a cuppa we powered on throughout the day right until 5pm when it was time to hed back to the coach.

An excellent day made better by seeing everyone climb back aboard smiling but tired... it was definitely a quieter journey back home!

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La Dolce Vita - When Life Gives you Lemons... B6453

There are so many beautiful pictures on Pinterest of those gorgeous summery lemon print dresses by Dolce & Gabbana and every summer I've wondered...hmmm....maybe I could make one of those?

The lovely Dita in D&G

I hunted high and low and finally managed to track down some great lemon print cotton poplin fabric from eBay - and although it shipped from China it arrived really quickly! (Since buying this I note that Pigeon Wishes also now stocks it if you want to get some from the UK :)

After debating for a while whether just to make a skirt which may get more wear I came to the conclusion that...I just wanted a lovely lemon dress. I know full well it may never/hardly ever get worn but it was one of those projects I did because...I wanted to.

The patten used here is Gertie's B6453 for Butterick. The absolute perfect sundress pattern in my opinion. I made a wiggle dress version here and so the fitting had already been done and I could just whip it up without too much hassle!

Alterations to the original pattern include making the skirt a half circle skirt... I really don't like gathers at all and I find a half circle way more practical and flattering. I also raised the waist line 1.5cm but I'm now not sure if that was unnecessary and is now a bit high....small details.

The skirt is also hemmed with a really nice lemon bias binding I found on the market.


I know I went on about it last time aswell but THE best feature of this is that it has sliders. So much more practical for getting real wear out of something. I found these rose gold ones on eBay aswell.

The shaping on the back of this dress is excellent and I do personally love a low back/v-back dress or top as I find them quite elegant looking. But let's be honest its all about the lemons with this one!!'s now September and the chances of going anywhere that requires a dress like this is slim however I'm glad I made it. I enjoyed the process a la Randomly Happy and found it came together in about a week as I did it in little sections in the afternoon/evenings. Sewing this way has been quite fun as you don't notice how quickly everything comes together when concentrating on one task at a time. I do feel that as this was made with mindfulness and concentration on its individual parts - I have ended up with a well made and joyful dress!

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Talking trousers - Geometric 'ponte pants'

I may have cracked the trouser code!? (I hope I haven't spoken too soon) And oh my......are they so so comfortable.

In my eternal quest to get trousers to fit - I have basically learnt that the whole things rests on the crotch curve. Get that bad boy right and everything else may be a straight forward fix. Now that elusive crotch curve is not easy to find let me tell you - I've had years of searching! Prime example here.  It has taken a lot of trial and error to find the exact right fit but the Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans and Carolyn Pyjamas just about has it spot on for me. So I use that curve on most trousers that I make (which to be fair is not many.....).

 The other pattern which I found quite useful was Simplicity 1696 which helpfully let's you pick your size through many measurements not just waist and hip...but booty size too! I've written about these here but unfortunately those lovely trousers have long been gone as I put on weight. I had intended to remake them in a larger size however have not got round to it...

Letting comfort reign supreme however I did decide to use my very butchered version of Simplicity 1696 to make a pair of pull-on ponte trousers! My floral trousers had been made from this pattern but changed and altered so much that they barely resembled the original. It did however provide me with a base TNT pattern to use for other projects such as this with some stretch.

The pattern for these is really no different - I kept the hip curve and even the back darts for shaping - the only difference is that as ponte is so stretchy, there's no need for a closure at all. The waistband is simply a strip of fabric with flat elastic inside.

Top = Ogden Cami

The fabric has been in my stash for a while however it was bought with the intention of making these, so its nice for something to actually materialise for its intended purpose! It is a geometric print jacquard ponte from Fabric Godmother (which I have just seen is on sale!) It's very nice as although stretchy, its got good body and texture making them a bit more interesting.

Apparently navy is my new favourite colour...

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Ikat Lodo - True Bias with Space Invaders!

You know a pattern is a great one when you make multiple versions... and the beauty of the True Bias Lodo Dress is that it only takes a couple of hours and results are glorious!

I've posted about this dress before when I made a classic stripe version so won't go on too much today but once more the construction of this is a thing of greatness. Check out the space invader insides! This was just some leftover cotton from the stash.

The fabric for this one was Ikat ponte from Girl Charlee UK  and one meter was perfect! It's a slightly thinner ponte that my stripe version however its lovely and soft and stretches well. 

This dress certainly meets my 'throw on and go' criteria that I love so much!

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Sewing Weekender 2017

This time last week I was lucky enough to be at the Sewing Weekender! Hosted by Kate and Rachel (The Fold Line) and Charlotte (English Girl at Home) this took place at Murray Edwards College in Cambridge.

I must have had a good time and been rather occupied as I seem to have a complete lack of photographs for most of the weekend!

This year's event was absolutely fantastic - there was nearly a sewing machine per person and the tables laid out in long rows this year which made walking around/chatting and general logistics much better. The fabric and pattern swap had grown so large it had its own room alongside Elle (Sew Positivity) who was doing embroidery machine tutorials!

I took a seat at the end of the room and was soon joined by the lovely Eliza Sew Little and Amy who are just wonderful human beings generally - in fact I was struck by how friendly and amazing everyone was, this sewing community of our really is something special.

On arrival we were treated to the biggest goody bag you've ever seen - thank you to the lovey sponsors. An alien and tortoise pattern! How perfect!

I had a bit of a *swoon* moment when Elena - my all time blogger-girl-crush-fav-sewer - of Randomly Happy fame came over and brought me some turtle fabric that she had found in the swap!!! Unbelievable times. I did however manage to maintain my chill this year which was a significant improvement on last...

One particular highlight of this year was an impromptu 'ninja challenge' whereby Melissa (Fehr Trade) and Fiona (Diary of a Chain Stitcher) were called upon to pick a pattern and fabric from the stash giving Liz and Sue 1 hour to complete it!

Both were incredibly good sports doing this, despite the apparent regret about 5 minutes in, However they produced fairly wearable garments in 55 minutes!! It was declared a draw...

I actually did a fair amount of sewing this time which was odd as chatting and tea drinking were a large part of Saturday! However I made my 6th Ogden Cami so that may account for speed as this has now become a bit second nature. And I wasn't the only one! Check out all these ladies who also made the Ogden!

I missed out on going to the pub dinner at night as by this point I was really struggling with a bad cold and the start of shingles :( so I made an executive decision to stay in my room and sleep it off a bit (not before getting Wagamama's on Deliveroo to the room haha). In fact Sunday morning I nearly went straight home but decided to pull myself together for the last few hours. I'm so glad I did as Sunday was one of my favourite days. It just seemed so chilled out, everyone in good spirits finishing projects and stopping for talks by Melissa Fehr on active wear and Elena regarding mindfulness and sewing.

These were both excellent talks as Mindfulness is something of particular interest to me and Elena's speech about remembering to breathe resonating with everyone there! Melissa was also modelling some excellent sportswear from her forthcoming book - can't wait to buy that and give it a go to make some fun yoga gear! I didn't manage to get pictures of the talks but you'll just have to trust me these ladies were beautiful outside and inside. Great women, very inspiring.

Despite Saturday being an absolute washout weather-wise - on Sunday the sun came out! I managed to get a quick snap of my project for the weekend. A 'faux' jumpsuit comprising of the Ogden Cami and some loose trousers very vaguely based on Carolyn PJs. Essentially I traced a crotch curve that I know works, then just winged the rest a bit. Straight legs that were big enough to go over my hips and an elastic waist band. To much surprise it actually worked!!

The fabric is from Minerva Crafts and is a beautiful soft tropical print viscose. I was kindly given some of this for an upcoming make for them in September (keep your eyes peeled) and I managed to squeeze this jumpsuit out of 1.5m of leftovers!! (It's very wide fabric ;-)

I went to try these on in the toilets and the cheeky Eliza Sew Little STOLE MY ACTUAL CLOTHES!! I was therefore wandering around in my faux jumpsuit for the rest of Sunday. No massive deal but I though the style was too trendy/cool for me however I realised that is ridiculous and just wore it. Talk about secret PJs. We later went on a walking tour of Cambridge at lunchtime and damn were these comfortable.

A massive thank you to everyone who set up, sponsored, helped, and attended at this event - it was wonderful to meet you all :)

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Tortoise News and Variegated Thread Testing with Minerva Crafts!

I was very lucky to get selected to test a product for Minerva Crafts and was send a beautiful box of variegated embroidery threads!  

In other news - I can announce that the namesake of this blog - Clyde - our beautiful Hermans tortoise has now got a brother! (Brother from another mother ;)

 We have welcomed Sammy into the family. He's very sprightly and settled in so well - despite the fact that he is over 100 years old!!!!!  

For more information on tortoise welfare or for caresheets and general advice please see the Norfolk Tortoise Club website and Facebook page.

When Ogden met Carolyn

Just a really quick post today which may not even be worth a mention but here we go anyway...

I thought I would just share how great a combination the True Bias Ogden Cami and the Closet Case Patterns Carolyn Pyjama shorts are for some summery PJs! A match made in heaven...

I actually made the Odgen cami in this Minerva Crafts turtle print last year at The Sewing Weekeneder. Needless to say it did not get worn however I couldn't bring myself to get rid of it. This print however lends itself rather well to PJs! Having made some winter Carolyn Pajamas I knew that the pattern fit well and so whipped up the shorts version at Norwich Sewcials Sew Day a couple of weeks back.

The best bit? Pockets of course!

The other little pattern hack I did which was seen on Instagram several weeks ago, was to make the Ogden Cami in drapey black viscose, and added a cross over back strap for detail. I love this version! This is my 5th Odgen! Made in a couple of hours it really is instant satisfaction...

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