A Galleon in Full Sail!

Well I tried!

On Saturday we’ve been invited to a 1920’s themed dinner dance, I have to confess I’m really not keen on ‘fancy dress’, I’d much rather just wear what I like, but I decided to try and make a 1920’s flapper dress.

I found a pattern on the internet from a company called Vintage Visage, they have some amazing patterns at very reasonable prices. These are reproduction patterns, so the instructions are how they were way back then! I chose the ‘Vintage 1920’s Easy Make Flapper Dress’.

It was a fascinating read…

‘A smart, up-to-the-minute dress cut out, completely made, all put together within an hour! You may receive a ‘phone call at one o’clock inviting you to a little impromptu gathering of friends at three, and you can go, if you wish, wearing a dainty new frock made in the time you would ordinarily spend wondering what to wear. Such is the delight you can find in making your own clothes now that it is easily possible to make an attractive, becoming dress in an hour’

There is one basic pattern with lots of variations, I decided to try and make this one, I thought it looked elegant for an evening do. I had some blue silk satin that someone had passed on to me which I didn’t think at first was as bright as it looked in the end!

You start by taking your measurements, just blouse length, skirt length, hip and armhole. The top is made from a single rectangle, it’s folded into four to cut the neck, measuring 1″ here and 4 1/2″ there, opened to a single fold to cut the armholes, it’s a very simple T shape. Neck edges are bound with bias.

The skirt is two rectangles 6-8″ wider each side of the top. There are no instructions to hem the skirt, the length is measured from the selvedge and that is left as the skirt edge (no wonder it only took an hour!!) The sides of the skirt are narrow hemmed, the view I’d chosen had a decorative stitch along the edges, I decided to stitch it with perle thread and a basic running stitch. This extra fabric at the side makes the waterfall effect from each hip.

The sides of the dress were stitched together as far as the lowered waist line, then the back flaps were tacked to the front, leaving the front flaps to waterfall.

At this point I decided to try it on, having just had it on Florence, my muse, before. I looked like a galleon in full sail, a bright blue sail at that!!! I tried putting a sash round the middle, but it still looked like a dogs dinner!! I decided it was unrescueable!! I’ll keep the fabric as it is in decent sized pieces if ever I try to make a dress from the rest of the length of silk (there must have been 5m there)

I couldn’t even bring myself to let my OH see it to take a photo of me wearing it, it was just too bad!! So here’s Florence…

Can I just say, this is not the fault of the pattern at all, I love the way it is written and it is actually pretty clear once you get your head round it, I just think I’m the wrong shape for a flapper dress!

Luckily whilst I was hand-stitching the edges down I had a quick browse on pinterest and saw all the long beaded dresses, I remembered a dress I bought ages ago for a cruise we went on, a long, black, beaded dress. I only wore it once, partly because it weighed a ton with all the beads. I tried it on and I think with some long black beads I can get away with it!

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Me-Made-May Monday

Two weeks into May and it has finally warmed up enough to get the summer clothes out. As part of MMMay17 I pledged to wear at least one item I’d made each day for the month of May, so I’m pleased to have a bit more choice!  I keep my out of season clothes in a wardrobe upstairs so I love that day in the year when I go up to get the summer clothes down, it reminds me of when I was little, all the summer dresses were put in a suitcase in the loft for the winter, it was great when we got them down and had a big trying on session to find out which still fitted and which ones I would get passed down from my sister! Luckily everything I’ve got out so far still fits!!

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Monday’s Meander Round the Garden

I was looking out of the upstairs window yesterday and I thought, actually, from a distance the garden looks pretty good, it’s only close up that I think ooh err!! We seem to have more birds visiting now too, so we must be doing something right, we’ve had bluetits in the nest box, wrens nesting nearby but I haven’t quite sussed out where. I think there’s also a willow warbler nesting in one of the shrubs, he’s hard to identify though as he’s flitting about and lets face it, they’re basically very little brown birds!!  Blackbirds and robins are nesting in the beech hedge…it’s pretty tuneful in our garden, especially at dawn and dusk 🙂


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Stitch-a-long 11

Three weeks have flown by since I last showed you my flower lattice embroidery. This is where I was up to…


Last night I managed to finish the diamond with the alliums, hollyhocks and delphiniums. I stitched the flowers on the second delphinium, these are made with short lengths of silk ribbon, gathered along one long edge and the short ends with a french knot in the centre. Continue reading

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Down the Rabbit Hole Quilt

I’m making steady progress on my Down the Rabbit Hole quilt now, it’s a quilt-a-long by Sarah Fielke and I’ve got a  couple of months behind, but I’m catching up!

Last week I stitched the bias binding stems on, so my job this week was to make 24 sets of big and little circles. Sarah has a nifty way of doing this using tinfoil to wrap the fabric shape around the template and then pressing. It works a treat! I’ve been very impressed with this QAL so far, Sarah produces a video of all the processes we need to do and talks us through it, as well as having written instructions. It makes so much more sense when you actually see it done.

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The small circles are stitched onto the big ones first. I did mine off centre to create a more interesting look (as recommended by Sarah) I used about ten different fabrics for these, most of them I just used twice, but I particularly loved the bee one, so that one appears about six times! Some of the circles are better than others, but it is a learning curve, hopefully by the time I get to the outer border they will be much improved. Continue reading

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April Review

Magnolia StellataCan’t quite believe we’re already a third of the way through May, so I’m a bit late with my April review, but that’s life!

There’s quite a mix of needlework in this review, embroidery, quilting, dressmaking…I’ve finally finished my home decorating so hopefully I’ll have a bit more time for dressmaking in the coming months. I’ve still two rooms to paint (one of which is the landing with long drops over the stairs!) and lots of glossing, but having decorated nine rooms since last September I’ve decided to pay someone to do the last bit, I’m all painted out!!

My biggest finish was a quilt that is going to be auctioned this Saturday to raise money for a childrens cancer support charity in Wales. It’s a pattern called Paisley Splash and I called the quilt ‘Making a Splash for Emyr’, Emyr is the young boy after whom the charity is named, Emyr Owen Latch group.

I’ve stitched three little embroideries, two of them for our travelling sketchbooks at Embroiderers Guild and one was a pretty lavender cross-stitch sachet by Faby Reilly. I’m planning to hang this on a padded coathanger for Otley show next weekend. Of course my flower ribbon embroidery is still on going, making slow but steady progress on that one.

I finally made McCalls 6696, a shirtwaister dress that’s been all over the blogging world, I think I’m the last person to make it, though I have made it my own by making it a longer length. I wore it for the first time last weekend and I love it, you know you get those outfits that just feel lovely to wear, well this is one. The fabric drapes and swishes beautifully, I’m already planning my next one!

My stash report is very slightly improved! I made my dress, so obviously that’s one down, but when I went to buy the buttons I fell for a gorgeous length of cotton to make a vogue pattern dress! Fortunately when I was making my elephant quilt I found a length of dressmaking weight batik that matched perfectly for the backing, so that’s two lengths used from my dress-making stash!

Stash Report

Stash at end of March    54 lengths.

Fabric lengths bought     1

Fabric lengths used         2

Stash at end of April       53 lengths

Not much change but it’s going in the right direction!



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Denman College

20170507_071411Last weekend I was at Denman College, learning lots, eating lots and generally having a wonderful time. Denman is the Women’s Institute college in Oxfordshire. It’s a beautiful Georgian house and they run brilliant courses on all sorts of things, history, gardens, music, cooking, and of course crafts of all types…I always do a craft course.

I travelled down by train on Friday morning, I had a couple of hours to mooch round Oxford before the complementary taxi picked me up to take me to Denman.

The college was pretty full as there was a federation visit on at the same time, my WI is in North Yorkshire West federation (there are about 100 WI’s in NYW) we have a federation visit to Denman every two years and take over the whole college. By coincidence West Yorkshire federation were down there this weekend, ironic seen as I actually live in West Yorkshire!! I thought it might make it a little cliquey, but not at all, it was as friendly as always. I think about half the guests were from West Yorkshire federation.

I stayed in the Moonraker room, which is Wiltshire Feds room, it was very comfortable. All the rooms are sponsored by a federation, they often have a lot of handmade things in them such as pictures, quilts, cushions, it makes it very personal.

20170507_120409My course was Silk Ribbon Embroidery by Marilyn Pipe, I booked it at last years federation visit as she taught us then and I loved it so much I booked to return there and then. She’s a wonderful lady, she creates a really happy and encouraging atmosphere in her classes, helped along by jelly babies!

The class this time was silk ribbon hollyhocks. We started off painting the background with watercolour paints. These have the advantage that if you don’t like the effect you can dab it off the silk noil with kitchen roll and start again! Having a little bit of colour in the background just helps give a bit of depth to the picture.


The tops of the hollyhocks are embroidered using stranded cotton and french knots, then the lower buds are french knots with silk ribbon. Marilyn taught us three different ways of creating the hollyhock flower, either gathering along the edge of 4mm ribbon, down the middle of 7mm, or folding the wider ribbon in half and then gathering along the fold. The flowers grew pretty quickly.

We added leaves and stems and then  a few extra ‘twiddly bits’, I stitched some curly lines of back-stitch in variegated thread in between the flowers and also added some french knots and straight stitches along the bottom.


Considering we all started with the same pack of ribbon, our pictures were all very individual and all very pretty.

Marilyn dyes all her own ribbon so we had a lesson in microwave dying as well.

We had a great time, I even managed a bit of fabric shopping as Marilyn had heard of a fabric sale at a pop-up shop in a nearby garden centre and kindly gave me a lift. I got a nice selection of quilting fabrics. There was also Denmans Craft Cupboard; a mini shop jam-packed full of craft  supplies that members have donated, so of course I bought a few things there too!


The food as usual was delicious, we had a big breakfast, homemade shortbread with morning coffee, two course lunch, home-made cake with afternoon tea, three course evening meal…you are well looked after at Denman!


You also work hard! Our first lesson was 8pm on the Friday night, we were back at 9.15 the next morning, stitching all the way to 6pm, although we did have a long lunch (time to go fabric shopping!) and back for an hour after dinner. It’s surprisingly hard work embroidering all day! On the Sunday we had another three hours before lunch, we had time for a good nosy round the other classes to see what they had been creating; beautiful flower arrangements, lovely paintings and lots of fun scandi crafts.


All in all I had a wonderful time and can highly recommend it! Don’t ever be afraid to go down alone, Denman College has such a lovely atmosphere, you can happily join anyone at the dinner table or in the bar, we already have the connection of WI to help start conversation and friendship. Non members can go too, you just pay a little extra!

Our Federation trip is next May, I’ve already booked to do Jacobean Crewelwork 🙂


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Me-Made-May Monday

MMMay17logoA day late but MMMay Tuesday doesn’t have the same ring…

A week into MMMay 2017 and my biggest issue has been getting photos, with my chief photographer away at Uni, and her assistant busy at work, I’ve been asking work colleagues, WI members, tutors…anyone passing really!

Work days for me are sort of wear-what-you-like days as I wear theatre blues all day, my sister saw me in them for the first time a few weeks ago and commented that the trousers really didn’t do anything for me, and that was on a good day when I actually had a pair the right size!

This is me post shift in the changing room, so please excuse the hair!! I made my lavender duster jacket last year and I’ve worn it quite a lot, I could do with a lighter weight skirt to go with it really. My sewing shirt was from the Archer pattern and the dark purple cardigan has been worn a lot, though not so much with the long straight skirt I made to go with it. I love the skirt but for some reason it constantly rides up!

On Friday I travelled down to Denman College, so I needed ‘smart but casual’. This is me all ready to go, suitcase packed, with my teal cardigan and navy Fumeterre skirt.

DSC_0002On Saturday in class I wore my pansy waistcoat, I bought the fabric for this on Goldhawk Road and it always gets lots of comments, by chance I realised it went well with my teal Fumeterre skirt.

20170506_181511We have a three course meal every evening so I like to change for dinner, even though we had another hour of lectures afterwards (they work you hard at Denman!!) I wore my red rose shirt waister for the first time, I only made it last month. It was lovely to wear, it drapes beautifully and just feels really nice.


The weather is still pretty cool here, I’m hoping it’s going to warm up so I can wear some of my more summery clothes before the end of the month….otherwise this could get rather repetitive as I don’t have a huge wardrobe!!


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Down the Rabbit Hole

denman-house-72pxI’ve just had a fantastic weekend at Denman College learning how to do hollyhocks with ribbon embroidery. Denman College is a wonderful old manor house owned by the Women’s Institute, they run all sorts of courses, historical, fitness, craft, music, I just do the craft courses (no surprise there!!) It’s about four hours away by train and of course I needed something to do during those four hours…

I’m way behind on my Down the Rabbit Hole quilt, it’s a block of the month quilt designed by Sarah Fielke in Australia. I’ve been really impressed so far, she releases the pattern and written instructions each month, but she also does a video which makes everything so much clearer. She also has a facebook page so we can see what everyone is doing, get ideas for colours and general encouragement. Block four has just been released but I’ve just finished block one!!!

This is where I was a few days ago;

In my defence I was trying to get my Splendid Sampler quilt finished first before I got too engrossed in this one, and then I had a charity one to make for the Hands2Help Challenge. If I’m honest though I was also procrastinating over the thought of making my own  1/4″ bias binding. I’ve tried making bias before with one of those little contraptions, they make it look so easy at the shows!!! I really wasn’t that convinced that it was going to be as simple as everyone made out…it was!

Sarah uses a hera marker to make the crease in bias, I’d never even heard of these before, but they are a nifty little tool, not only does it make a nice deep crease but you can also use it to hold the fold down when you’re ironing it, saving the risk if burnt fingers! Once I’d buckled down to it, it really didn’t take long to make the bias. I used two different shades of green to add a bit of variety.

I made the centre circle a couple of months back, there’s more about the process here. Having cut the background (slightly bigger to allow for fraying whilst working!) I arranged circles around the centre, these are the patterns for the flowers which go around the circle. There’s meant to be 26 circles as Sarah doesn’t like things too regular, I don’t do random so I’ve got 24! I could then tack the stems on all going straight out from the centre as instructed.

Having the video makes all the difference, Sarah is great in giving us little tips like matching the thread to the applique not the background and which way to hold the fabric ( sew towards you when doing applique). I used a miliners needle again and did tiny stitches all along the edge. I’m not sure mine were as tiny as they are meant to be, I seem to recall they should be bigger than a 1/16″, but not as much as an 1/8″, I reckon mine are a generous 1/8″”, but that still looks pretty small to me!

So what did I do on my four hour train journey? I stitched my stems down! I wished I’d had time to prepare a few flowers too as I ended up starting another project for the journey back…but more of that another day!

My next job is to applique circular flowers on each stem, each with a centre, so I need to get prepping whilst this quilt is still in the portable stage!

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A Ladybird Inchie

At Skipton Embroiderers Guild we’re putting together a book showcasing our work and (I think) our history as well. We’ve been asked to each make an ‘inchie’, these will all be stitched together to make a book cover.

I’ve been intrigued by inchies for a while but never quite got round to determining just how you make them. My pinterest page has lots of inchie pictures, I love the idea of a group of several mounted together…one day!

For those of you who haven’t come across inchies, they are basically a 1″ square of embroidery or textile art of some kind. Obviously when you only have 1″ to embroider there are limitations, but it’s amazing what people do with one inch!

After much thought I decided to keep it fairly simple and do a tiny embroidery. Whilst I’ve been stitching my flower lattice embroidery as part of the Stitch-a-long, I’ve mastered how to embroider a ladybird. I decided to do a few blades of grass and a ladybird climbing up one.

I chose a soft green-grey quilting cotton as my background, I laid some calico behind to help by giving me something to start and finish stitches on.

I drew around my 1″ die cutter with a soft pencil to give me a guide. We’ve actually been asked to make them 3cm square, which the pencil line pretty much is (by chance!) I used a variegated DMC thread in soft greens, beiges and blues to do a few background grasses with just straight stitches, a few french knots and a couple of fly stitches.

Next I used a green perle thread to make the main stalk, couching it down at the bend. I didn’t couch it any further as I knew the ladybirds legs would effectively couch it down too.

I stitched the outline of the ladybird first in black DMC thread, this helps to pad out the satin stitch later. I used a couple of french knots of the head and little straight stitches for the antenna and the legs.The 1″ die cutter gives you an idea of just how small this is!


I used satin stitch over the back with a single strand of DMC and then added three french knots for the spots. He came out slightly slimmer than I anticipated so I embroidered a line of  red stem stitch along the top edge which is now his other wing! It’s just enough to fill him out a bit.

I rather like my ladybird and I definitely like stitching inchies!

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