Wednesday, 20 October 2021

No Waste Sewing

 I try not to waste anything, it is part of my DNA I think. I especially try to use up my craft materials the best way I can. Today I have a few things to share that use up my purchased fabrics to the very end.

My fourteen year old has been struggling to find T-shirts that are slim enough but old enough in design for her size. She needs a child size but they have unicorns/fairies/princess slogans on - you get the idea right? So I made a pattern purchase that was rather an investment - The Rio Ringer T-shirt by True Bias. It is not a massively versatile pattern but it does come in a range of smaller sizes which was what I was after. It was eye wateringly expensive but I knew it would work for two of us. The fact that it worked out for all three females in our house made it even better value.

I ordered three colours of jersey from Minerva which I thought would work well together: a red stripe, blue and yellow.
Firstly, I made a size 2 blue T-shirt with a join down the back. It saves on fabric and my girls like it because you can see which way round it goes without the need for labels. It was a touch small for Heidi so Megan snaffled that one. Next up I made size 4 in the pink stripe and this was a good fit for Heidi. She liked the high neckline, the slightly curved waist and the contrast bands. Finally using up the last sizeable pieces I made a size 12 which was a good fit on me.

To cut multi sizes from one pattern without going out of my head with tedium tracing off each size, I simply roughly cut out the front, back and sleeve pieces then used dressmakers carbon paper and a serrated wheel to trace through the paper straight onto the fabric. The wheel has been a new purchase for me and it has been a game changer piece of kit for transferring darts and markings. It was the perfect way to trace multi sizes from one pattern. 

 We found the neckband to be a little tight causing some ripples around the neck but I will just add another centimetre next time, that's all it will need.

Heidi liked the T-shirt shape so much, I found some other jersey pieces and got creative. There was a small piece of blue striped and chocolate brown for a front paired with a yellow back which I trimmed with the yellow and brown. That one had a 1970's vibe about it.

I spent a mindful hour listening to the radio the other evening while cutting out all of the last little pieces into underwear parts. Both of my girls love these knickers which is a size up from the largest Speedy Pants pattern by Waves and Wild (free pattern). Essentially, I made my own sized pattern based on my girls leg and waist size from the speedy pants pattern shapes then used picot elastic. 

And if that wasn't enough for you, I pulled all the thin pieces tightly to roll the jersey strips into garden ties. Jersey makes fab garden ties for tomatoes etc. because they are snugly allow the stems to grow without cutting into the stalk.

All done jersey but not all done with the Rio ringer T-shirt pattern. There is a T-shirt dress which my big girl would like for next summer - without unicorns!


Thursday, 14 October 2021


Enjoying - the slow season change this year. Nothing to harsh or nasty all in one go; a slow wind down into Autumn.

Wearing - my new autumn inspired shirt in a plum colour cotton lawn.

Celebrating - The youngest's birthday with a Death by Chocolate Cake from her new cookbook 'Jane's Patisserie'. Meg had followed this blog for a long time and asked her Nanny to get her the book. We had a kind of 'Bake Off' moment where we sat watching it cool down and were too impatient for it to do that properly. We iced it anyway and the icing melted and oozed out of the sides. Luckily, it was in the fridge during this process so it set at a funny angle. Who cares? It was the most delicious cake Meg has ever made.

Hanging - from a harness at Go Ape in the Wyre Forest as a birthday treat. We all went on it so we only have terraferma photos!

 Using - my Jamie Oliver 30 minute meals recipe book. I love it because obviously it takes around 30 mins to make a great meal but the best thing is there are a range of side dishes I would never have thought of which include lots of veg. This is a broccoli pasta sauce ( I may have been a bit more liberal with the other veg there) accompanied by melon and prosciutto ham salad with a strawberry smoothie dessert. It was a big family hit.

Buying - some re-usable plastic straws which you can slide open and wash easily in light of this smoothie hit.

Loving - my new vase. I saw it in an antique shop for £8 and thought that the short 14cm height would be perfect for home grown flowers which often have shorter stems than shop ones. Modern vases are either too wide in the neck and leave a big hole in the middle or are really narrow and make the flowers stand to attention. 

Being - blown away by a rainbow I saw over our house on Tuesday!

Patching - THE jeans. Yes, they are still going...

Finishing - a huge pile of log cutting ready for colder days. Bloke has really relished this task over the last few weekends.

Pulling - up most of the Cosmos and courgettes to give the garden a general tidy before it all gets really slimey. 

Teaching - my eldest how to skin a pheasant. I appreciate that this photo and concept isn't for everyone but it is important for us to use what we have and not waste anything.

Slogging - it out making curtains. I hate making curtains, however my friend has a stock trailer and I have a sewing machine. He took my sheep to market and I have made his curtains. Sometimes that is how things work.

Mucking - out the studio. It had all gone a bit feral in there but normal floor space has been resumed.

Watching - the views as ever from our back door. 

Thanks for dropping by. Are you enjoying the changing season?

Jo xxxxx

Friday, 1 October 2021

Sewing for Us

I have been sewing up a few items for Autumn. I love wearing cord in Autumn and Winter. Dianne from Sew, Create and Recycle sent me some patterns for a fabric exchange and one particularly caught my eye when I opened the parcel but I put it away ready for Autumn. Now, here it is: the Anneka Tunic by Simple Sew.

I lined it because I think cord is more comfortable when it is not fighting against your leggings or tights as winter wear. It has deep patch pockets and room round the waist for stew and dumplings with apple crumble for pudding! I love wearing this new pinafore; it has a swedish kind of vibe.

I also made a pair of winter cords because, lets be honest here, I can't get in many of my winter trousers from last year! I have had it with this burda pattern now. I used it to learn to make jeans about seven years ago and have made three pairs from it in total but the zip fly instructions are rubbish and I always have to adjust the back yoke so it is time for a new one next time I need jeans style trews.

Another pattern from a magazine cover was The Fiona Set by Sewgirl from Simply Sewing magazine. Maybe Dianne sent me this one too, I am not sure. I cut a size 8 in this so that my big girl would have something to wear if we have a meal out. She has been having something of a clothes dilemma of late because she is so leggy and slim however, adult clothes are too big in the waist,bust and shoulders and the oldest children's clothes are too short in the arms and legs and covered in unicorns!

She has had her hair cut in an older style which has literally been a weight off her shoulders. She likes her dress, it is still a touch big at size 8 so maybe she can save this one in her wardrobe for next year. I thought she might be tired of me making her things by now but she has seen the potential in me making things that she can choose an age appropriate fabric design for.

I sew for Minerva making videos and sampling fabrics, so I probably sew every other day which at first I found hard to deal with from a green point of view. I was making so much stuff that I didn't even need which made me uneasy but now I have found my rhythmn and my family or friends are delighted with the 'by-products'. This teddy bear gillet and hat went to my friend's daughter - hasn't she got just the cutest smile ever? 

Another set went to my dancing friend who is soon to become a grandma to a baby boy. 

Finally, I made a top for myself. I like the puff sleeve craze at the moment but I don't suit the extra width at the shoulders with my short body therefore I plumped for the Assembly line Cuff top paired with challis fabric with plenty of drape. Puff sleeves without feeling silly! Dress, trousers and top: autumn sewing complete.

I like sewing for us.

Jo xxxxx

Friday, 24 September 2021

Pick, Cook, Repeat


My three word gardening post his month very much surrounds the picking and preserving end of the growing season. There are baskets of fruit and vegetables grown on the small holding and foraged from the fields. They all arrive right now. With a very convivial September climate here in the UK this year it has been a bumper harvest.

We mostly try to eat produce straight away but when you pick nine courgettes and 3.5kg of beans in one picking there needs to be an element of preservation.

Today I decided to enter wholeheartedly into full kitchen chaos. I strained four bottles of raspberry and blackberry vodka which had been brewing for a month; I made plum jam; courgette and pesto soup; one gallon of damson wine and a batch of 'Glutney'.

Glutney is a recipe from River Cottage garden which is interchangeable depending on what you have loads of. This one has apples, courgettes and yellow tomatoes. Obviously it is never quite the same twice so this one is lighter than the last one which I made with red tomatoes but it all tastes good with cheese or sausages.

I am succeeding in getting the last of my tomatoes to ripen using hanging bananas on the training wires in the greenhouse. I was sceptical but it works.

Preparing and blanching beans has been a family event after our evening meal, we have quite a production line going and the freezer is getting full. I tried to just freeze the raw beans but they were not as good as when I went to the trouble of plunging them in boiling water for 3 mins then into ice water for 3 mins.

We have been seasonally vegetarian eating as much as we can. My mum's favourute was beetroot tarte with feta cheese.

Stuffed courgettes were not a hit - too soggy and reminiscent of watery stuffed marrow I had as a child but we ploughed on through that one. Much more popular was a Sunday dinner heavy on the veg and light on the ham.

There are flowers in vases cheering us along in our harvesting endeavours.

In the flower borders I have had to cull some of the cosmos. I grew them from seed and pricked them all out laboriously hoping they would fill my borders until the shrubs filled out but in fact, they have crowded out the shrubs growth so I had to pull some out. It was hard when they were putting on such a show but needs must.

No hills in sight early in the morning on this day but the sun has been shining through in the afternoon.

The piece of vintage farm machinery is in there somewhere!

The dahlias are going strong but I am having to dead head them every other day. Finally, I planted out my Asters which I grew from seed into pots so I am hoping for a little show before the frosts.

This weekend we are all off to the Malvern Show which is usually in spring but has been moved to Autumn. Lots of inspirational gardens to see and I am sure there will be some plant buying too.

I will leave you with a super special early morning view today. I usually post an evening sunset but this morning's version was beautifully serene.

Happy gardening! Love Jo xxx