Simplicity 1365

This is view D of Simplicity 1365 that I made for their Sewing Challenge this year. It’s from their 1970’s vintage range. It is fully lined and the back is high enough that you can wear a strapless bra with it.

More retro than vintage I think

I spotted the pink gingham at my local Fabricland and thought it was delightfully retro…or maybe it just reminded me of school uniforms. I paired it with a plain pink cotton from my stash.

I didn’t make any major changes to the pattern. I lengthened the peplum by a few centimetres and changed the straps so the two sections that form the strap lined up with the side seam….almost, I forgot about the other seam allowance so I’m 1.5cm out.

Pesky seam allowances

O well! I also changed out the buttons and used pearl topped snaps instead.

How to avoid buttonholes

When I was finished it still seamed a little undone so I added topstitching all around to make it look a bit more pro.

The all important rear view

The pattern itself was nice and straightforward and would be suitable for a beginner.  I’m tempted to have a go at view b.

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Simplicity 1365

Carnivorous Plants: Sarracenia, a second coming!

Earlier in the Summer one of my Sarracenia plants flowered! I was amazed as this was the first time any of my carnivorous plants have flowered. And these flowers are beautiful as you can see:

copyright Dr R Naik

I waited it out and played bumblebee with a paintbrush and was rewarded with some seeds. They have gone into the fridge to have a pretend winter before I can plant them.

I thought that was that but no, the same plant has grown two more flowers, tiddlers but still flowers. Amazing!

Carnivorous Plants: Sarracenia, a second coming!

My New Favourite Thing #9 Sew Crafty Dressmaking Journal

After writing this post, I decided to have a notebook moratorium. Then this popped through the letterbox. The new Sew Crafty Dressmaking journal! Their general makers journal was so popular that they added two more to their collection; this dressmakers journal and a knitting and crochet journal.

It’s about A5 size so it fits in your bag and it’s spiral bound so it lies flat when you open it and if you stick swatches in it still closes. There’s space for over 20 projects in there. Each project has a planning section and review section.

Sew Crafty Dressmaking Journal

Each project takes up two double pages (a total of 4 A5 sides):

  1. Page 1 is titled Notes and is a page of lined paper.
  2. Page 2 has two mannequin outlines, presumably one for the front, one for the back. The beauty of the mannequin outlines is that they don’t have boobs drawn in so you could use them any way you want. I almost prefer these to the usual croquis style outline, those are usually way too thin and are an strange contorted positions.

    Pages 1 & 2
  3. Page 3 has a half page section for swatches. The other half of the page is for listing fabric and notion sources.

    Plenty of space for swatches and such
  4. Page 4 is for general information and review. There’s a space for a photo and pattern number. There are question sections (what went right/wrong, what would I do differently?)

    Evaluation time…’s like being at school again!

The only things I would change would to have page or project numbers and have an index. If you had multiple books on the go it may be difficult to find the project you’re looking for…. although it would be easy enough to do that yourself and have the index on the front page or inside cover.

I can see myself getting plenty of use from this and at £12.50 it’s very reasonably priced.


disclaimer:  the good folk at Sew Crafty provided the journal for review,  all opinions and crappy photography however are mine.

My New Favourite Thing #9 Sew Crafty Dressmaking Journal

James Bond Style Measuring

Since the demise of the Filofax, people tend not to carry rulers around with them anymore. Sad but true although even might think it odd if someone pulled a 30cm or even 15cm ruler out of their bag or pocket and got measuring in public.

But there has been many a time where I’ve been at the haberdashery  out and wished I had a little ruler with me. Well my friends, not anymore! I’ve found a ruler in disguise as a pencil, metric and imperial for all you stealth measuring needs. And it’s a full 15cm long…unsharpened! It would take a centimetre to get there.

Here you can see the imperial side too.
If it had a bottle opener it would be perfect

It can’t get any better…except it can! In spite of the cheapo looking box this would make a great gift for the James Bond wannabe (or baddie) in your life. It’s also perfect for “I got you a pressie, mum…o, you don’t like it…? That’s ok.”

According to the website it is

  • Stylish metal-cased multi-tool
  • Small and lightweight
  • Matt black finish
  • Flat-head and Philips head screwdrivers hidden in the end
  • Measure in either inches or cm
  • Black ball-point pen
  • Luminous green spirit level
  • Measures approx. 14cm x 1cm in diameter

It also has a touch screen stylus on the end and the pen ink is black not blue. It has a nice, comfortable weight in the hand when you write. My only concerns so far are:

  1. Can you get on an aeroplane with one without it being confiscated?
  2. I can’t tell if the rulers are etched or printed. Either way, how long would you be able to see the lines in an average handbag?
  3. It weighs 39g. For comparison the pencil is 8g, a frixion pen is 11g and a fancy rollerball is 28g.
  4. why is the spirit level so tiny!

But on the whole I love both these items….now I’m off to practice my stealth movesStudio_20160811_063212

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James Bond Style Measuring

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Not with pretty bells all in a row, row, row unfortunately! Although for years and years I thought being contrary was a good thing…..

The peas are finished and the French beans are about 3/4 done.

Cobra french beans

The courgettes are getting their second wind and the cucumbers are filling out nicely. My kiwi plant I bought last year has put on plenty of foliage but there’s no sign of fruit or flowers.

Self fertile kiwi…..but surely it needs some flowers?

The blueberries have plenty of fruit (though not very sweet) and are thriving now that they are in the correct ericaceous compost (oopsie!).

Blueberries….they do so much better in the correct soil….who knew!

This is part of my second round of methi (fenugreek).

Methi, you may have seen it in your local Indian shop or market and wondered what it is

I usually cut it 2 inches from the soil and dig it in. Like peas and beans it adds nitrogen to the soil so I throw a load of seeds on bare land over winter to act as a green manure/weed suppressant and dig it in at the start of Spring There’s no need to buy the fancy, expensive stuff. I get a big bagful from the Indian shop for a couple of quid. The chillies are doing quite well but there’ll be more about them later


… I’m such a tease(!)

This year, I made my own fertiliser out of comfrey. I’d heard all sorts of horror stories about how it spreads everywhere but so far, so good. I planted two lots into neglected parts of the garden so that if it did spread it wouldn’t be a disaster. This picture is from one seed sown in spring.

Comfrey: more tea, Vicar

Bear in mind it’s had plenty of leaves removed for fertiliser making. All you do is get a bucket or watering can and fill it up with loads of torn up leaves. Top it up with water and leave it for a week. Top it up with water again. I tend to keep it covered be a use it is stinky stuff! I dilute it 1 part comfrey tea to 10-ish parts of water. Then keep topping up your bucket. Comfrey grows FAST.

One of the plants I grow because of the expense/food miles issue is Physalis or syphilis as it’s known as in our house. It’s super easy to grow, it needs plenty of heat and water but really, if you could grow tomatoes you could grow these.

Physalis/syphilis starting to fruit. When the lanterns go papery, you’re in business!


The other thing I do is cut the spent heads off the sunflowers and leave them to dry. I can plant the seed next year and the birds are grateful of the excess come winter.

Dead sunflowers, hanging upside down😦 but actually🙂

I choose what to grow based on the following:

  • What tastes better fresh, plucked from the plant and straight into the mouth. Peas for example and tomatoes and strawberries just warmed by the sun.
  • What is easy to grow and delicious?
  • What is difficult to find fresh in the shops?
  • What is ridiculously expensive in the shops?
  • What incurs ridiculous food miles?
  • What is only available in bog standard varieties? Eg tomatoes
  • What gives a good yield per square foot? Eg climbing beans?

Over the next few weeks many of the garden centres have seed sales so now’s the time to start thinking about next summer’s crop.

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How Does Your Garden Grow?

My New Favourite Thing #8 Mini Croquis Books

I have a confession: I am a note book junkie. Wherever I go I have at least one notebook in my bag. My preferred size is between A5 and A6 and quadrille style paper although quadrille can be tricky to find over here so blank or lined will do. I hoard them much like I hoard fabric. Some are deemed too pretty to use and others I can’t bring myself to sully with ink or such. So I’m on a constant search; fabric and notebooks…don’t even get me started on pens!

I use these books for all the usual stuff, I don’t have a smartphone so my notebooks act as a retro smartphone. I also use them for inspiration; if I see an interesting outfit or detail I’d like to recreate, I rush to draw it out. The problem is that my drawing skills are rivalled only by a 4 year old who’s just learnt to hold a pencil correctly. By the time I come to review my “drawings” the original inspiration is long forgotten and bears little if any resemblence to my picture. 😥

Until now….browsing in Waterstones I found these tucked away behind the A4 and A5 spiral bound books. The answer to my problem!

These mini fashion sketchpads come in a packet of 3 mini notebooks.

As far as I can tell so far, each notebook has 4 different ridiculous poses, ridiculous in the way only croquis can be (who stands like that!?). Here’s a selection of the poses for your entertainment 20160803_14252620160803_142619And they are all front views. Each pad measures 9cm/3.5″ ×16.5cm/6.5″. Perfect handbag size. Like most template books, the printed lines disappear if copied or scanned so you can pretend you’re a top notch fashion illustrator alongside all your other skills and talents!

And best of all, people not thinking you’re some sort of pervert for surreptitiously attempting to photograph them. Everyone’s a winner!

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My New Favourite Thing #8 Mini Croquis Books

Organising Your Feet

The Works always seem to have lovely wooden boxes in stock. I got this one there but could not for the life of me find a link to it.

In my excitement I put the masking tape on before taking a picture of the box naked

Anyway, I thought it would be the perfect size and shape to keep the most commonly used feet handy and close to the sewing machine. At the moment, all my feet are kept in a biscuit tin in a wardrobe all the way across the room. If I want to change feet I have to….dun dun duuuun…GET UP! O the horror!

So I got out my tin of trusty black board paint and got busy painting the lid (inside and out) and the tops of the inside dividers.

I give it two layers of paint and let it dry completely before priming the surface with some plain white chalk. I labelled the sections using normal chalk but I’m pretty sure I have a chalk pencil somewhere round here which would look a lot neater but this will do for now.

*sigh* no more getting up for feet!

The best bit? It’s just the right size to slide under the extension table…..aah, simple things!

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Organising Your Feet