I bought a meter of beautiful turquoise wool twill fabric at the Festival of Quilts two years ago, from the Fabrics Galore stand.  I must have bought it in a fit of bravado and confidence.  Once it was tucked into my stash, working with it terrified me.  I was convinced it would be a nightmare to cut, or that it would unravel before I could could stitch the pieces together.

One of my resolutions for the new year is to work my way through my stash, because it is rather taking over my sewing room.  I’m not going to stop buying fabric for specific projects, that would be crazy, but I’m going to try to use the fabric I already have where possible.  Except for the bits that I can’t bear to cut into. Er, oh dear.

Anyway, so I decided to use the twill to make a skirt using instructions from the Design-It-Yourself, Clothes book by Cal Patch to draft the pattern.  My mum bought me the book for Christmas and I was itching to try it.

blue twill skirt with red buttons

Crumbs, it is not a book for beginners.  That isn’t a criticism, just a warning. I learnt so much making this skirt. It’s a skirt of many firsts.  This was the first time that I’d worked with a fairly loose weave fabric, the first time I’ve drafted a pattern with darts (and it nearly fits my tummy perfectly so I am definitely a dart convert), my first patch pockets, flat-felled seams and fringe hem (although that last idea came from Sew What Skirts). It wasn’t easy to make and there was quite a lot of swearing but I love the red buttons and stitching against the turquoise and black.  The waist is little lower than I usually prefer but I can adjust the pattern if I make another someday.

The twill was pretty scary to work with but I’m very glad I turned it into a skirt. You never know, before this year is out I may find the courage to make one of the trouser patterns from the book.

I think it’s going to take me sometime to work out how to adapt patterns before I construct a garment.  At the moment I still slavishly follow the pattern, reach the end and then have to figure out how to tweak it to make it fit.  This dress is a perfect example.

blue cord dress b

It gaped in various places and I didn’t enjoy wearing it.  Then I took it home to Yorkshire with me to get some advice from my mum and my granny. We spent a fun morning pulling and prodding and poking me/my dress, deciding where I could add in extra darts/tucks etc. It was great having three generations together, talking about sewing and I learnt a lot from both my mum and my granny that day.  I went back down south with a plan and tweaked the dress so that now it fits better and I enjoy wearing it.  It’s comfy, warm and gives a pleasing silhouette.

I didn’t know it at the time but that day is very special to me now. It was the last time I saw my granny.  She was a wonderfully independent and interested woman.  I know that she was proud that my sister and I enjoy crafts.   Her quilts were my introduction to patchwork and I owe some of my love of fabric to her.  I think it amused her that I enjoy embroidery.  When I was 8 and declared that I wanted to learn to play the harp she was a key instigator in obtaining lessons for me.  When I was in high school she joked that she followed my school terms and holidays by the colour of my hair.  Not that I remember her complaining when I visited her with pink or black or red hair.  However, when my mum remarried she did request that my sister and I didn’t turn up in our Doc Martin boots.  I think I wore platforms instead.  I miss granny.

Today R and I met up with some ex-labmates and we all played tourist in London.  This gave me a great excuse to wear my new summer skirt.  The skirt pattern is Study Hall skirt by Anna Maria Horner and the fabric is part of the Red Letter Day collection by Lizzy House.

I love the Red Letter Day fabrics and I’m very happy with the way my new skirt turned out.  The pattern is a bit of a faff, with lots of pattern pieces, but construction was easy and the instructions were clear.

I’ve been living in London for nearly six years and have seen many of the sights but today was my most touristy day.  We sat in the sunshine, on the huge steps at the bottom of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square.  Directly in front of us was the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben’s tower but the road to it was closed off.  It was closed because as we watched, up drove a horse and carriage carrying the Queen and Philip returning from the Trooping of the Colour.  We giggled.  We hadn’t realised today was the big parade day.

On a whim we walked down The Mall and ended up in front of Buckingham Palace.  There was quite a crowd and it turned out that the whole royal family were due on the balcony for a flyover by a variety of RAF planes.


Needless to say R was in his element, naming the different uniforms that surrounded us and being wowed as the planes flew over head.  I giggled.


A very fun day was had.

Remember this?


Well, I finally got around to making the asymmetrical skirt on the front cover.


It’s worked out a little tighter around the hips and loose around the waist than I would have liked but it is very wearable and I like it.  The skirt is quite formal, in a cute, quirky sort of way, and it will probably be a staple I turn to when I have presentations or lectures to give.

This was actually my second attempt at making it because initially I tried before the corrections to the pattern and instructions came out and I got myself into a pickle.  So if you are going to make it I suggest you go to the magazine’s website and look up the corrections.  I found the skirt a fiddle to make but once I got the pattern right it was easy enough.  And I learnt how to use the automatic button hole stitch on my machine!  I’m still al little wary of buttons so when I wore this for the first time (dinner with Rs sister and boyf in Sheffield) I made sure I took with me a safety pin in case the worst should happen and a button fell off.  It didn’t.  All the buttons are holding true.

The second issue of Stitch is out now and hopefully my copy is flying its way across the sea to me right now.

I’ve just come back from a relaxing and energising holiday in France. The holiday was much needed. In the preceding two weeks I had to run my most important experiment of my year, the stakes were high and the hours were random. My small rebellion against working two weekends in a row was to make a dress during what remained of my weekend, which may seem rather nuts but I wanted to do something for me. Why I chose to make my first ever dress (when I’ve been putting it off and procrastinating for the last two years) I have no idea.

I bought an “easy-to-sew” Simplicity pattern (4119) because I liked the overall shape (of the least frilly option) and it only required 1.5 m of fabric. The first lesson I have learnt is that when choosing patterns construction details, such as pleats, are very important. The construction went ok, considering. I tried to make adjustments as I went along; I shortened the shoulder straps and brought in the side seams of the skirt because it was just too tent-like (the pleats at the front made me look somewhat pregnant). I also brought in the back seam when I inserted the zip. I did make a bit of a mess of attaching the bodice to the skirt and had to unpick and redo most of it, but never mind.

For fabric I decided (with some reservations) to use the Robert Kaufman Oriental Cats that I’d picked up in Derbyshire, initially for a fun, floaty skirt. I think I’m happy with the fabric choice, I was worried that the fabric would be too cute and that the dress would make me look about 12. The fabric was rather fussy to cut/piece together, especially with my lack of experience but I’m pleased with the overall result.

Another purchase at last year’s Festival of Quilts was 1.5 metres of fabric from Heather Bailey’s Freshcut range. I turned it into an a-line skirt that I’m rarely out of. The zip was a pain to put in but in the end I got it in just about stright. I’m not good with zips. Ah well. I’m currently in the process of making a new summer skirt and I’m battling with the zip this time around too, but I think I’m making progress.

As a detail I oversewed part of the pattern with satin stitch.