Sunday 31 March 2019


It feels a long time since I have made something that I have been really chuffed with. I make things all the time and am mostly satisfied and happy with what I make. 

Today is Mothering Sunday in the UK and my family asked me what I wanted to do. I asked for a few hours sewing time without interruptions. I made this top in two very pleasurable hours this afternoon.

I was even more chuffed because Megan loved it and wanted to wear it straight away. 

My day got better as I took some terrific photographs;not always easy in the winter months. Today signals the time when I can get camera happy to take much better blog photos for a good few months.

The top is a hash of an Ottobre top I have made twice before. It has a zip placket but I always make a mess of it. Trying to sew a placket and a zip in jersey is a tricky business. I altered the pattern to make a keyhole with a button loop instead. I drafted a facing for the inside to make this possible.

The fabric was kindly given to me by my Auntie who had made a cape for her grand daughter and had no use for the leftovers. I even managed to use her hood which she had cut out and sewn ready but didn't end up using. There was just enough fabric to squeeze out a front pocket. The reverse of this fabric is as good as the quilted front so I used it to make the cuffs and hood band.

I am really chuffed with this project all round and so is my little girl. I can't think of a better way to spend Mothering Sunday than sewing for my family.

Jo xxxxx

Wednesday 27 March 2019

Button Jar

Just like the bottom of a cereal packet where all the small bits gather, my button jar seems to do the same. I don't even remember buying these. I think sometimes when you buy a mixed bag for crafts, there are a large proportion of the small ones. In reality they don't get used in my garment making, they are just too small.

I decided to make a set of jewelery inspired  by the colours of spring. 

Rummaging through my jewelery box I found some fish hook earring findings and metal stems. There was also a pretty packet of seed beads.

It made a lovely set of earrings. Unplanned, I made a necklace because it was half made in the craft box. The wire had the clasp all fitted and some odd beads threaded. I don't know where it was from but I randomly added some buttons. 

Really pleased with my little bit of happy up cycling. 

Have a good week. Jo xxxx

PS. Apologies if I flashed up a knitted item blogpost. I was missing a photo and clicked the wrong one to publish. Whoops!

Friday 22 March 2019

Something out of Nothing

There has been a bit of a mission here lately to use up some of our unwanted stuff. There is a new Guide badge book out and my Big girl and I had mixed feelings about it. It is supposed to reflect the modern girl but we were left a bit wanting on the creative side of things.

Rightly, gone are the days where girls are only expected to cook, sew, hostess, flower arrange etc. I was quite a tom boy as a teenager and the guide leader had to specially order the farming and woodwork badges that I achieved in the 1980's. Now badges include: vlogging, your personal brand, campaigning, mixology for non-alcoholic cocktails! To name a few. We were not sure what to think about them. 

We agreed that girls shouldn't think that their role is solely to be a housewife but in our house of creative makers we all like to be engineers, problem solvers and skill builders.

After much discussion about feminism, Big Sis chose the upcycling badge in order to shoe horn in her own interests. She is a keen recycler with green credentials. She decided to turn a shirt into a summer skirt. She had watched the Sewing Bee episode 5 where reusing fabrics was the key theme. 

This was her inspiration as well as a shirt skirt that was now too small, see the tutorial link on the left hand side. This shirt was a wonderfully soft Boden linen mens shirt but it had a tear hole in a prominent place on the sleeve. 

She removed the pocket, and cut it just under the sleeves. She made her own elastic casing and decided to keep the shirt hem shape. 

To add to it she spotted a piece of cotton lace to trim the edge. She reattached the pocket. The look on her face when she thought this was a completely original idea was priceless.

Next she went through her clothes looking for things that she could change. She found a chewing gum coloured t-shirt and remembered she had been given a tie dye kit at Christmas. She dyed the top with her dad and was really pleased with the results.

We love having these skills in our family, it makes us who we are. She is hoping to get her upcycling badge next week and has started on an art apron next. Whittling was a close second so she might start that badge in the summer.

Any thoughts on the new Guide badges? Do you remember one you worked particularly hard on?

Jo xxx

Monday 18 March 2019

For Little Boys

Still stash busting. I started this little collared jacket estimating yarn amounts. I came up short. I predicted however that a one year old wouldn't mind a two tone knit. 

We bought him some stretchy jeans and thought it would make a perfect first birthday present.

The rib pattern is ideal for growing with the baby, it stretches on the width. The pattern is from Sirdar Little Sweet peas Design G.

The buttons were from my button jar and were the perfect size and match. A scrap metal skip is arriving at the farm today, my target is 1 tonne.

Jo xxxx

Tuesday 12 March 2019

March ing...

'Marching' on with my postage stamp quilt.

Getting - All my WIP's done and not starting anything new.

Baking - A couple of fruit cakes. Not everyone in our family likes it but it was my turn to choose lunchbox cake for a change.

Building - Still more floors to clean up, this time a reclaimed parquet floor to sand and varnish. The scaffolding has come down which is a good milestone.

Wearing - Dickies work trousers a lot lately... so chic!

Disliking - Having our farm sheds burgled and losing power tools we need for our house build. The girls were a bit upset losing their motorbike too.

Buying - Wool for a new jumper but I don't have time to make it yet, Maybe next March!

Thinking - About tidying up the garden. 

Enjoying - The promise of Spring around the corner with a few sunny days out walking.

Loving - This sock pattern from Christina. It is my second ribbed pair and they are so comfy to wear.

Wondering - Shall I use black or white thread for the finishing on my swimsuit??! Now there's a conundrum.

Learning - How to apply swimsuit elastic all over again. I had forgotten how to do it.

Watching - The Sewing Bee on the BBC whilst shouting things at the telly - mostly encouragement you understand.

Fixing - the hoover, my sewing machine, seams in leggings, missing buttons - the usual...

Making -  A charity shop table cloth into a beautiful apron.

 Deciding - What to put in my best friends '50 things in a box' for her 50th Birthday an idea I got from Sum of their stories. The apron from above went in.

Feeling - The itch to be a horticultural queen and get outside.

Jo xxxx

Thursday 7 March 2019

Use it or Lose it

I had a rare whole day to myself the other day just a haircut booked and a trip to the dog groomers so I decided I wanted to make another bra. Two of mine had actually worn out - holes, grubby, fraying edges, stretched out elastic etc. These casualties were two M&S ones. Maybe by working on building our house I have given them a good stretch painting ceilings!

I have made about five bras since I learnt way back in February 2016 so I felt confident about rummaging through my stash and whipping up a bra. I had got really good at it(see this beauty). I had more stuff than I thought in my stash boxes however, some of this is not really big enough to do anything with but with lingerie sometimes you only need small bits for some parts. I had quite a range of notions, elastic, wire casing etc. Some of it had been given to me from an ex market trader in haberdashery.

Treating myself to this glorious afternoon of sewing,I decided to open a whole new kit I bought about three years ago. Alarmingly, as I started to make it, I realised I couldn't remember all the things I had learnt. It was a bit like learning French at school and then not remembering any of it when you actually go on holiday as an adult. It was all gone.

It meant that making this bra felt like the first time all over again. I couldn't remember the best stitch lengths or which needle to put in my machine. I tried a few but mostly had seam lines like this until I used a super stretch needle. There was a lot of unpicking.

 I couldn't remember how to apply elastic or even which way round some pieces went! Think Leah on the sewing Bee with her swimsuit.

After a lot of swear words and shouting at my machine, I resigned myself to using this pink bra as my new learning bra which was fine as it turned out because there was not any pink shoulder strap elastic in the kit which seemed strange. I went for a pink/black combo which made for a slightly racy version but in the end the fit on the bust was excellent. The sewing quality is not great because I kept switching the gauge and it needs a tweek under the arms which I have transferred onto the paper pattern pieces for next time. I did however, use lace so it felt like I was was moving forward. The pattern is the Marlborough version from orange Lingerie.

I made two pairs of knickers to go with it and have decided to cut out another bra in black and continue my revision. I have found out with this project that if you don't use a skill, you soon lose it.

Tenacious as ever. Jo xxx

Sunday 3 March 2019

Lady Kina Knit

 I have had this pattern in my Ravelry queue for a long time. I couldn't work out if it would look too old on me but I decided that if I made it neat and small it might be something I would wear.

After taking on a huge bag of donated wool I kept back these two colours. I don't know what you would call the one - it is not pink, not even antique pink. It is not brown, it is similar to the colour of raw kidneys, it is an 'offally' good subtle colour. I had five 50g balls. 

Can I be honest and say that I based this whole cardigan on two buttons which I had for my birthday! When paired with the other colour, lets say a slightly mottled dark moorland green, it was a match made in heaven. I had three 50g balls of this one.

They are vintage yarns so there was not a yardage count and it was DK not aran (worsted)as the pattern stated so I was taking a punt all round - as usual! You can tell the yarn is old, it was 59p a ball!

I got lucky with the sizing and it was a wonderful make. It needs a good blocking. Luckily, with the stripes in rows of four, it is easy for me to replicate this pattern again in exactly the same size.

This is it before blocking.

I wanted it to be a solid colour really but it was just too darn risky with the unknown yardage I had. I ended up using about about four balls in total so I could have made it all in the kidney colour. Maybe next time...

A tip for me to remember next time is that I used a 5mm needle to cast off from a 4mm needle to ensure that the bottom edge held its A-line shape and didn't pull in. (this is an evening shot under artificial light)

The pattern is free from ravelry and there are lots of makes to peruse. I particularly liked the classy grey version with 3/4 sleeves made by Christina from My colourful life. It is an easy top down knit with some very long rows across the shoulders but it soon got faster as I started the body section. I liked that the front bands were knit as you go because when I add a button band it always curls.

I made the second size which, as mentioned, was a guess because of the yarn but it turned out to be a great fit. Sorry I don't have any photos of me in it. My weekend farm face is just not willing for the camera today and I am not sure which colour long-sleeved T to wear underneath? 

Happy knitting indeed. Thanks for looking. Have a good week. 
Jo xxxx