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April, 2011:

Vintage April…

Some lovely finds...


What a fabulous afternoon I had today. I met up with Magpie Mimi, a fellow Welsh member of The Sew Weekly Sewing Circle, and we went fabric shopping. An arduous task of course but somehow we forced ourselves. 😉 First we went to John Lewis where as usual they had lots of nice but rather expensive things. I limited myself to buying a white 60cm zip, more on that later, some hooks and eyes and a pack of machine needles. Next was A Vintage Affair in the Morgan Arcade which has lots of vintage patterns, fabrics, trims and notions. I found the lovely full skirted dress pattern above and the hooks and eyes (yes, I know I already had some!) plus a red buckle. The pattern was £6 and all the pieces seem to be complete and unused. I may have to add a couple of inches to the waist but the sizing doesn’t seem too bad. They had several other patterns that I loved but which just weren’t near enough my size. Some were twice the price of this one too. But patterns go for similar prices on ebay.

I had intended on buying some more fabric from the stall in the market but we were so busy chatting over tea that by the time we got there it had closed! Probably a good thing really since I should be focusing on trying to do more sewing before I buy even more material.  I’m taking part in the Sew weekly UK Sewing circle meet up next month and everyone is making a dress to wear to the trip. I’m unbelievably nervous about this and although I have one pattern and fabric in mind – which involves the 60cm zip – I’m just worried as to how it will turn out.  I used to be a lot more confident about my sewing.

Anyway the only way around this is to sew, so I’m planning on making the meet dress as early as possible. At the moment I’m going to see if I can have it ready in time to wear to a pinball competition that Doug and I are taking part in on April 29th. At least that way if it doesn’t work then I’ll still have a couple of weeks to make something else. With that and the other two dresses I’m making at Doug’s I may well have sewn four dresses by this time next month!

My new LYS – Calon Yarns

I have a local yarn shop! It’s called Calon Yarns and it opened yesterday.


It’s owned and run by Lynne Seymour

The lovely Lynne with some of her yarn!


Here she is with some of her gorgeous yarns. This shop could be dangerous to my wallet!

But it’s not only a yarn shop, it’s a craft studio and they have all sorts of classes and workshops there too.


Of course while I was there I couldn’t resist picking up some yarn

ooooh yarn!


This is a lovely, squishy skein of artesano humming bird 100% alpaca in shade AR008, an amazing red mix. It reminds me a little of Colinette’s Fire colourway but is much sweeter, and far less brown, than that. It’s dk weight and the skein is a surprisingly big 150g. There’s also 300m on it.

I love it! It’s so squishy! Not sure yet what it will become, possibly a beret or some gloves or both. I think it would be really lovely for socks too. But I’m also intrigued as to what kind of a one skein wonder it would produce too.

I’m sure I’ll visiting Calon Yarns again soon!





I bought a yellow climbing rose today. Hopefully it will climb the arbour. Before I tell you its name I will tell you my history with this rose – my grandmother used to grow it in her front garden or green as it’s called in some parts of Cardiff. When I was in primary school, every so often she would cut a bunch, wrap them up in newspaper to form a sort of bouquet and give them to me to give to my teacher. Our teachers varied but I can remember giving Mrs Dickens at least one of these. The people who now own the house I grew up in have long since paved over the front garden. Sad but they’re obviously not a fan of roses. Now the name of the rose, don’t snigger, but it’s called Golden Showers.

In my first garden I tried to grow them a few times but without much success. The main reason for this, I think, was because I was trying to grow them in a container. The new plant, in my second garden, will be eventually be planted directly into the soil. I’ve bought it as a bare root plant but it will have to live in a pot for a little while until I get a base for the arbour. But I think those golden blooms will look striking against the blue of arbour. This isn’t the first of my Nan’s plants that I’ve wanted to grow in my garden. She would grow Japanese anemones and “ever lasting”, perennial,  sweet peas. I’ve grown sweet peas before and I have some “old fashioned” sweet peas that I’m growing from seed. They’re not exactly the same as my grandmothers but there’s always next year for the ever lasting.

It’s old history now but I Nan and I didn’t have the best relationship. But when I garden and think of growing her flowers I am remembering some of the best bits of her and continuing them. And that’s all that matters really.


That Old Sew and Sew

Before I became more than a little obsessed with knitting, I used to sew. I made lots of things; trousers, tops, shirts, dresses etc. And at some point I became more interested in my knitting than my sewing. I haven’t sewn more than one thing a year in probably at least five years. In fact, aside from a dress I began last year, and which I still haven’t finished, I don’t think I’ve even posted any blog posts about constructing a garment.

Last weekend Doug suggested that I make a dress. He has a sewing machine at his so I chose fabric and a pattern which took a couple of hours, came back to his and prepared to sew.

I chose Burda 7698, an empire waisted evening dress cut on the bias. The bias, plus gathering of course, helps create a lovely curved drape at the bust. It’s simple but elegant.

Notice I said that the pattern was simple. The hardest part of the pattern is the insertion of the zip and the gathering at the sides but I’m still quite rusty so to be honest, the whole thing was a challenge for me. Firstly, I didn’t realise that the front and back bodice had to be cut on the bias so I had to cut those again. Then I managed to sew the bodice front to the skirt front upside down and didn’t realise my mistake until after I’d trimmed the seam! Ripped out the stitching and tried to fix it but should have just cut a new front bodice piece since I became so frustrated trying to fix it that I ended up bending the needle on the sewing machine. My next mistake was when sewing the front and back together at the right hand side not to match the waist so on one side it was noticeably out. Argh!

I do want to sew more but I find that I’m either too cocky when reading a pattern and go wrong or I misread something. I need to try again because I would like to find my sewing muse again. I’d quite like to try and make at least one dress a month. As summer gets underway I’ll no doubt be busier and busier in the garden but the prospect of having something new and unique to wear every month is appealing. Plus I’d have twelve handmade dresses over the course of a year. 🙂

BurdaStyle is a great sewing resource and through it today I found this site – The Sew Weekly I love it! It’s by Mena Trott, one of the founders of TypePad, and I used to read her original sewing blog Sew Wrong years ago. She started her current blog about a year ago with the aim of sewing a new garment each week. It’s now more of a sewing community/group blog. I’ve only had a little look at it but there are lot of people making some fab stuff from vintage patterns and fabric that they’ve mostly bought in charity/thrift shops. It’s very inspiring and I certainly think I’ll be looking out for old sewing patterns in charity shops in the future.

Here are some of my favourite dresses so far – The Obedient Seamstress Dress, The ‘You Can Do it’ Dress, The Support of my Friends Dress

I’ve joined their community The Weekly Sewing Circle so feel free to add me as a friend if you’re on that site.