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

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

Sew-jo, Sew-go, Sew-no! Pattydoo Susie Pouch

I was reading this blog post about when your sewing get-up-and-go gets up and goes.

Recently, I’ve been working on a pair of jeans but my ever changing waistline is making it a long, drawn out process and the very sight of them throws me in a panic.

Usually, when I find the sew-jo flagging I attempt to revive it by trying a simple make using these rules:

  1. No shopping for fabric or notions, stash busting only.
  2. Use a pattern I’ve tried before so there are no nasty surprises.
  3. It should be completed in an hour-ish, not including tea breaks.
  4. It should be pretty and/or useful.
  5. The finished item should be given to a non-sewing (and preferably non-creative) friend who will be so impressed and astounded by my sewing prowess that my sew-jo instantly returns! Luckily I have 2 such friends with birthdays now.

So the only rule I majorly broke was number 2. I couldn’t find an appropriate pattern and my imagination has joined my sew-jo on holiday (or wherever they are hiding together) so I used Pattydoo’s Susie Pouch pattern. This is a lovely, straightforward and free pattern for a zippered pouch, lined, with box pleats on the front. I made the size from the pattern (the small one) then made a larger one to use as wrapping paper for a book I’m giving one of the birthday girls.

This pattern was super simple and if you hate printing off reams of paper this is the pattern for you. I printed one piece. There were no written instructions, only a short video, about 20 mins long, in German but subtitled in English, showing Pattydoo sewing it up in real time.

It really is very easy, you sew strips of fabric together 20160715_162823then fold the box pleats and tack to secure. Sew on the top strip hhthen attach the lining and zip the usual way.20160716_191850 The bottom corners are sewn and snipped to make the bag stand up. The pattern suggests some fleece to give the bag body but I used some firm interfacing I had and that worked fine!20160718_090833

Full disclosure : I love the website! There are loads of very reasonably priced patterns ( €3 or €4) but all pdfs. Most patterns have a tutorial video too. There is an English part and a German part of the website, although they are working on translating more patterns and videos into English, it’s easy enough to get round the German site if you still remember some from school or read Burda magazine a lot.

I can see a lot more of these bags in my future…..

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EDIT:  So the bags were delivered to their respective recipients. The smaller one went to Mimmy,  my best friend since we were very little, little kiddies. My original plan was to fill it with jewellery and/or other pretty things but I didn’t get round to that so she got an empty bag. The larger bag was wrapping paper (wrapping fabric?) for a book I thought my good friend Mez would enjoy. As it’s big enough to accommodate a reasonably large paperback, it should be the perfect size for make up, brushes etc.

Both Mimmy and Mez seemed happy with thir gifts so the whole exercise worked as planned….slowly but surely the sew-jo is returning!

Sew-jo, Sew-go, Sew-no! Pattydoo Susie Pouch

Mum’s Birthday, part 1

This year it was just Mum and I for her birthday.  We had just been to the funeral of a close friend the day before so neither of us was in the mood for a crazy night on the town.

So this is what we had


I wanted to make something frozen mudslide like but mum’s not too keen on chocolate so I made a frozen drink more to her taste using20160709_201254

  • 1 part vodka
  • 1 part kahlua
  • 1 part amaretto
  • 2 parts double cream

This all went into the blender with a handful of ice. Delicious!

Mummy Mudslide…although I suspect someone has already named this drink


My big sister travels to South Africa quite regularly and usually brings back all sorts of breakfast rusks, buttermilk, seedy fruity rusks. Now, if you’ve never tried these before, you’d be tempted to throw one in your mouth like you would with a normal biccy. Do that and you’ll end up at the dentist with half your teeth in your hands! No,  these rusks are for dunking in your tea/coffee.

After much pestering I finally managed to get a tried and tested recipe from  friend of hers from work on the condition that I don’t blog the recipe. Apparently the South Africans are very protective of their family rusk recipes! So sorry, you get a picture instead.

South African breakfast rusks

The process is much like making biscotti so while they’re not much to look at, they taste amazing.


Next time, birthday cake!

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Mum’s Birthday, part 1

Make your own pattern weights

If you like rotary cutting, tracing patterns, can’t use pins on your fabric, etc etc, you’ll know how vital pattern weights are. Usually I just reach for the closest heavy objects, books, scissors, cup of coffee (you can guess how that one ended). So I nipped into John Lewis to see what they had. Of course I left empty handed and decided to make my own instead. This is how to do it:

  • Rummage around in the garage. Look for something weighty and flat bottomed.  Failing that go to a DIY shop and see what they have there. Washers are popular and inexpensive (and can be painted up to look like biscuits). I found some square and rectangular washer type things.
    Expect the man in the shop to look at you funny as you attempt to explain what you’re looking for

    On their own they weren’t particularly heavy but remember, you can stack them to get the weight you want.

  • once you get home give them a good wash to get rid of any greasy bits or labels and allow to air dry.
  • stack them up and decide on how heavy you want them. At this point you can glue them together if you like.
  • I cover mine in Washi tape.
    Around the edges first

    I start by sticking a strip of tape around the edge to keep them together and then cover the remaining sections with more tape

    Fill in the rest
  • I use different tape for different weights. The lighter ones are best for tracing patterns onto paper and the heavier ones are best for cutting out fabric.

    Left- 82g; Middle- 152g; Right- 69g





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Make your own pattern weights

Ikea Magazine Rack Hack. Or how to organise your magazines

Every few years I will try to bring some organisation to my life. Unfortunately,  cleaning, tidying etc are my least favourite things to do. I can’t bear to chuck anything away. And quite frankly it’s just as well this time!


I found a load of these Ikea magazine racks in various stares of disrepair hidden away in cupboards all around the house. Some needed a little glue and TLC, all needed a good dust.

I wanted to paint them to start with but I’m planning an overhaul of my sewing space and I’m not sure what the new colour scheme will be so I thought I’d go simple.

Blackboards seem to be all the rage these days so I decided on a little blackboard panel on the front of each file. I used this cheap and cheerful paint from wilko.

First I wiped the wood down with a dry cloth. I only realised after I’d finished the first few that I should have given the front a light sanding to give a nice smooth surface….o well, I did that to the last lot. I used masking tape to mark out the area I wanted to paint.

Regular masking tape and that fancy painter’s masking tape

I used a non-bristle brush to paint on a thin layer, left it to dry for an hour then painted on another thin layer.

First layer on…you can see some streaky bits all right

This gave a good, even coverage. I let it dry overnight before removing the masking tape.

Tape off….nearly done

Although it didn’t say on the instructions, I’d read somewhere else that you’re supposed to prime the surface before you start writing all over it. I used the long edge of a piece of chalk to cover the black surface then buffed it off with a clean, dry rag.

Priming the blackboard surface


Job done!

All done!

Now only another million things left to sort out!


Ikea Magazine Rack Hack. Or how to organise your magazines

My new favourite thing #7, muslin face cloths

Waaaay back in the day, when my small sister was a baby (late 80s), muslin face cloths were everywhere. I got my one with a tube of hot cloth cleanser stuff and I rediscovered how fantastic they are! Especially for getting gunk off your face without getting your hair and clothes soaked. So I had a mosey around the local supermarkets and I couldn’t find them anywhere, neither in the adult beauty section nor the baby section.

So I went to a specialist baby shop…they had cloths of all colours of the rainbow! Pinks, blues, gender neutral greens and yellows! All in massive packets of 12. I started to leave, disappointed but on the way out I had a rummage in the bargain section (habit really, I don’t even have a kiddy). Guess what I found…? A lone, solitary cloth, 60cm x 60 cm

I got it home and cut it into quarters.

Quartered up and ready to sew

I hemmed the raw edges by folding them over twice as sewing them down. That was taking too long so I got out the hemmer foot which gave me a messier but quicker hem.

Top: hemmed with hemmer foot. Bottom: hemmed the proper way but forgot to mitre corners

So all done! I’ll have complexion perfection in no time!


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My new favourite thing #7, muslin face cloths