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

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

The Best Ever Iced Coffee or Frappuccino!



Whenever I go to India there is the most amazing Iced Coffee I get at McDs of all places. Don’t judge, it’s really delicious. When I get home I run through tubs of double cream trying to recreate that sweet, creamy flavour.

Then one day, while sipping a hot Vietnamese coffee I had a brainwave and the easiest, tastiest iced coffee was born. And best of all no fancy equiThen I discovered throwing the whole lot in the blender makes a cool, creamy, delicious drink/pudding to rival any coffee shop. And now that it’s decided to be summer here I thought I’d share the recipe with you

Serves 1  as a straightforward iced coffee, 2 for a blended drink(because youll need more ice). These are the proportions I use but feel free to change them according to your palate or the size of your glass. The glass I used was about 300ml.


  • 1 shot of espresso
  • 1 tbs of condensed milk
  • 1 tbs double cream
  • 150  ml milk
  • a handful of ice cubes
  • 15-30 ml booze (optional but recommended), kahlua, amaretto, bailey’s, frangelico all work well here. Yes, I have tried.
  • ice cream (optional)
  • squirty cream (optional)


If you are planning to blend your drink you can make it in the blender cup. If not you can make it straight into your serving cup.

  1. Make a good, strong shot of espresso.
    Get your espresso on

    If you don’t have an espresso machine, mix up 2 tsp instant coffee with 30ml of water, just off the boil and stir well until all the granules dissolve.

    Look away, coffee aficionados! This crema’s about to get wrecked
  2. Pour the condensed milk into the hot coffee and stir till dissolved.
  3. Add the milk, booze20160721_144932 (if yore using it) and ice cubes and stir gently.
  4. if you are blending, now’s the time. Whizz to your preferred consistency  and pour into a glass.

    Straightforward iced coffee.
  5. if you’re going all out, add ice cream and squirty cream.

    With all the bells and whistles
  6. Enjoy, quick! It will start raining in a minute!

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The Best Ever Iced Coffee or Frappuccino!

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

My New Favourite Thing #6, pattern bags

Well, they’re not really pattern bags but that’s what I use them for. I got mine in my local craft shop and they come in a range of sizes. The ones I’m using at the moment are A5 and 8″x 8″. I believe, in North America you can get a better version in the comic book store. The ones I have are used to put your pretty home made cards in to keep them nice to sell. I haven’t been able to find a 7″ x 7″ bag locally yet.1462343005852-248880145

Me, I’ve been using them to put patterns in. Generally the A5 size is perfect for Simplicity but the larger sizes are good for indies, vogue and other big envelopes.

Perfect for keeping grubby fingers off

genius! I realise I am probably the last person ever to work this out but still! And another fantastic way to procrastinate! 


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My New Favourite Thing #6, pattern bags

My New Favourite Things #2, 3, 4 & 5

Yes, I know that’s a lot of favourite things but in my defence I love a bargain and I just had a birthday. I also realise that they’re not to do with making things really….unless you contact making me pretty (which I do!)  + So here they are, in no particular order:20160422_080251


Nip+Fab Hyaluronic body gel, 200ml


I found this in the bargain section of my local Boots. It was marked down to £2 but when I got to the till it scanned as £1, I also used my NHS discount to bring the price down to 90p….bargain! Needless to say I went back and bought the rest of them!

So is it any good? The short answer is yes. It has a lovely gel consistency which absorbs quickly without having to rub like a maniac and best of all, it left my crocodile skin legs nice moisturised all day long. It’s so good I’d be tempted to buy it full price….not that I’d need to for another year!

Lacura Hydro-Urea Foot Cream, 10% Urea, 150ml for £1.99, Aldi


This is one of those random things they sell at Aldi but not all the time so you have to keep an eye out for it. It’s rich but non greasy and doesn’t make your feet sweaty. I also use it on the dry skin on my knees and elbows.This really is a gem of a product, there is a similar branded cream that costs about £7-8 and isn’t nearly as good as this one.


Nature’s Gate Wintergreen gel toothpaste, 141g for £3.02

Spry Cinnamon toothpaste, 113g for £3.58


OK,  so these two seem less of a bargain. I got them both from here when 8 was getting a load of other stuff. The problem I have is that I can not stand minty flavoured stuff in my mouth, especially when it’s so minty it BURNS! Here in the UK cinnamon and wintergreen flavoured anything is near impossible to find…..unless you are willing to trek to whole foods (other overpriced pretentious shops are available) and spend £10 on toothpaste or sweets. If you do know anywhere I can get this stuff at a reasonable price, please, please, pretty please let me know!




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My New Favourite Things #2, 3, 4 & 5