Crumbs, but it’s been a long time since I last posted.  What can I say? I’m a scientist who studies influenza viruses and so these last few pandemic-twitchy months have been very, very busy.  Oh, and in my spare time I moved house.

I did manage to take three days off work last weekend though and I had a very crafty few days.  On the Friday I went to the Festival of Quilts, drooled over the fabulous quilts exhibited and spent far too much money feeding my stash (although everything I bought was very necessary, honest).  The on Saturday I went to the Bust sponsored Craftacular which was very busy but I picked up some great ideas and a few hand printed fat quarters. *cough, cough*  I’ll post some photos of my stash as soon as I can.

Then I Sunday I got down to business and set up my sewing machine in my new sewing room (it’s a one-bed flat but I was determined to get a box-room for sewing in).  The first thing I made was a bright, square bath mat to cheer me up in the morning.  Our new bathroom is tiny so I needed a small bath mat that we can squeeze the door over.

Most of the fabrics are either designed by Lizzy House (Red Letter Day collection) or Anna Maria Horner (Good Folks collection).  Usually I tend to stick with fabrics from just one collection in a project (it’s safest that way) but I just though that these fabrics work so well together.  I love how it has turned out and it really does make me smile in the morning.

The rest of my  long weekend was spent designing and starting a robot quilt for my nephew and making a half-needlepoint, half fabric cushion cover.  Pictures of both will be posted as soon as I take them.

Once we get an internet connection set up in the flat I will try to post more frequently.

This year was my sister’s first Mother’s Day (as a mum).  As part of the celebrations I made her an Emmeline apron using fabric from Lizzy Houses‘s Lizzy Dish collection.  I love Lizzy’s fabrics, they are so bright and vibrant.

When I first saw the Lizzy Dish collection I knew Kt would love it and that it would make a great Emmeline apron.  I’m really pleased with the way the apron turned out, it’s kitsch but easily wearable.

When I asked Kt if she wanted an apron she asked me to add a pocket to both sides.  I obliged happily.  I added darts into the pockets so that they have a similar shape as the skirt and it gives the pockets a gentle curve.

I love making this apron.  The pattern is so easy to do and the shape of the apron is so very flattering.

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.

I’ve been making lots of clothes over the last few months but I find photographing them and therefore posting about them difficult.  The mirrors in the flat are in horribly dark corners so I can’t do standing in front of the mirror and taking the photo yourself thing.  But it always seems that if I wear my homemade clothes in the daytime, when the light is good, R is away and he only sees them (and is therefore available to play photographer) in the evening.  Ah well.  Here are a couple of pictures I have managed to gather.

First up, I made the Trellick Towers skirt by Cloth Kits.  I like this skirt but It would be better for me if it were more A-line.

Last summer I made this summer skirts with a cute flower bud pattern.  This picture was taken one evening in the pub and I think if you look carefully you can see where I was splashed with red wine.

I’m enjoying making my own clothes although R knows when I am working on a skirt or a dress because rather a lot of swearing comes out of my sewing room.

It was my mum’s birthday yesterday.  Happy birthday mum.  For her present she asked me to make her an Emmeline apron with a pocket added to each side.  I had oodles of fun choosing which fabrics to use and settled on three prints from Michelle Engel Bencsko‘s Dogwood collection.

I think this Dogwood collection is beautiful and now that it is so very difficult to get hold of I wish I’d bought a bit more.  By odd chance I picked up the fabric from the post office on my way to hiring a car for a trip back home, so this fabric came all the way to my mum’s house and back only to be cut up, sewn together and posted back up north.

I added the requested pockets, which you can’t really see in these photos unfortunately, but the pockets have darts on the top edge to match the darts in the apron.

I love this apron pattern.  It’s easy to construct and very flattering to wear.  I was a little concerned that the accent fabric used for the waist straps etc. was a little too strong but in the end I think the three fabrics work well together.

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.

As promised here’s a picture of the baby carrier I made for my nephew over Christmas.


I used Sew Liberated’s Mei Tai pattern which was easy to follow and fun to put together.  K says it’s comfortable to wear too which is very important.  I used a strong canvas for the outside of the carrier and a soft cotton for the inside.  It also has a large pocket/stuff sack but I don’t think that’s so easy to use.

I liked the fabric combination so much that I used the leftovers to make myself a fold-up shopping tote.

A wee while ago I was chatting with my mum about a couple of pincushions I’d recently made and she asked me to make her one (apparently my step-dad doesn’t get amused when she sticks her pins in to the sofa arm or cushion whilst she’s sewing when watching the telly).  Of course I said I would and decided to send it as a Mother’s Day gift.  As I was making my sister an apron for her first Mother’s day (post about that to follow as soon as I get  a photo) I wanted the gift for my mum to be a bit more special than just a pincushion.

To make my mum’s gift more useful I thought I’d add in a small sewing kit.  I’ve been getting quite obsessed with travel sewing kits and which components make up an ideal sewing kit.  Whilst doing some research I stumbled upon an article for a Hussif or Soldier’s Housewife.  I was amused at my sewing hobby colliding with R’s TA weekends and sent him the link, all excited about how soldiers used to have to carry sewing kits with them.  His response was “Used to? We still do!”  Anyway, I decided to make my mum a Hussif so that she can keep her sewing essentials handy.

hussif or soldiers housewife
hussif or soldier’s housewife

I’m fairly pleased with the way it turned out (and my mum likes it so that’s all that matters).  It is very much a prototype and I found that I made some of the (many) pockets a little large* because I was afraid they’d be too small to use, however it does work and holds all of my mum’s sewing essentials.  There are three sheets of felt for storing needles, saftey pins and pins, a pen pocket, a pocket for buttons, another for thread, a large pocket for scissors plus room for a seam ripper and a thimble.  And as requested it has a matching pin cushion.

I decided to make the Housewife and pincushion from Heather Ross’s Day on the Beach fabric because whenever I look at this fabric I think of my mum and the many summer holidays we spent playing in the sand and sea on the Normandy coast.  I think we’ve established that I like fabric but it’s rare for a design to evoke such strong happy memories and a feeling of well-being in me.

*After receiving the gift my mum has made a couple of alterations by adding the ribbon ties shown in the picture to secure the scissors etc.

I’m on holiday for two whole weeks!  To start off the holiday R and I went to Kew gardens today to stroll in the sunshine.

Kew gardens glasshouse

The magnolia blossoms were spectacular.


I love daffodils, they’re so cheerful.


Obviously whilst in Kew I had to pop into Tikki patchwork to browse (and *cough* pick up a little fabric).

In other news, the person who I made one of my swap bot projects for has said some very kind things on her blog and I’m very glad she liked the pincushion.

I can’t believe it’s been two months since my last post.  The lack of posting is due to my forgetfulness at taking photos of my projects before I send them onwards and not due to a lack of sewing.  I have been doing lots of sewing.  I’m finding that a little sewing at the weekend sets me up for the next week and that if I don’t find the time my week is sluggish.  Luckily some of my recent projects have gone to family so I hope to get photos soon so that I can post about them.  But anyway, in this post I can talk about two projects whilst showing the pictures of one because really this should have the title Chocolate birch handbag No. 2.

Chocolate birch handbag

This bag came as a kit from Ink & Spindle.  I first stumbled upon the company in about December of last year.  I saw the chocolate birch fabric and thought that my sister would love it.  At the time the only way they were selling this fabric was as a bag kit with a pattern called Aiko Tote by Lara Cameron.  I figured K would like the bag so I put in an order.  The company is based in Australia and my order went in too near to Christmas for it to arrive before the New Year but that was ok because I’d planned on giving K the bag for her birthday.  However, when it arrived I fell in love with the fabric, the brown is so rich and the birch trees so beautifully printed.

I had a crisis of conscience.  I thought that K would love the bag too so I felt guilty at wanting to keep it for myself.  In a bit of a panic I asked if K would like me to make her an Emmeline apron for her birthday, she said yes and I figured that as she didn’t know that I’d planned to give her the bag she wouldn’t mind the change in present.  Oh dear, I found the perfect fabric for her apron but I had to buy it from the USA and it didn’t arrive in time for me to make her apron for her birthday.  I panicked again.  Luckily another tote kit in the chocolate birch became available from Ink & Spindle, so I snatched up the kit for myself and gave K the first bag for her birthday (I made her the apron for Mother’s Day and will post about that when I get a photo of her wearing it).

After a wee wait, the second kit arrived (along with a couple of other fabric bundles I couldn’t resist buying) and yesterday I found the time to make it.  When I made the first bag I learnt from the pattern how to make inside pockets as a part of the lining and outside fabric (rather than patch pockets) and I adapted the pattern to include a small outside pocket for my travel card using the same technique (see first picture).

The kit comes with everything needed to make the bag, including iron-on interfacing and the magnetic clasp.  Lara Cameron‘s pattern was fun and easy to put together and includes inside pockets that I’ve stitched so that they hold my diary, a pen and my phone.  The pattern also taught me a different (and easier) way of forming square corners on the bag bottom (the corners are cut out when the fabric is cut rather than at the end).  For both bags I also added a key fob and an inside zipper pocket for valuables.  The interfacing that came with the kit is pretty sturdy but for my bag I swapped in heavier, fleecy sew-in interfacing for the bottom of the bag it help it stand on its own.

For K’s bag the kit came with a white spotty fabric whilst mine came with this red print called Acacia.  I love the vivid red and that the bird theme is continued from the outside in.  I’m very pleased with my new handbag.  What with all of the extras that I put in the design and construction took me all of the BBC’s 2005 version of North and South and one and half episodes of the BBC’s 2006 version of Jane Eyre (about 6 hours and yes, R was away for the day doing TA things).  Time well spent I think.

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