Sunday, 23 December 2012

A top for Faith

I got a voucher for Saints and Pinners from my Mum's cousin last Christmas and had been reminded that I still hadn't used it (long story) a couple of weeks ago.  Said cousin is coming down to see us all tomorrow so I bought some fabric and set about making something so she could see that I was actually grateful for the gift (luckily it was delivered very quickly!).

I don't really do patchwork so fat quarters aren't really that much use to me so I opted for a metre of a few fabrics.  The pattern was 'The O Tunic' which I found in one of my books, 101 Fabric-by-Fabric Ways to Sew a Metre, which was perfect as all it needed was a metre of fabric, thread and a button, all of which I already had.  That never happens!

The only problem I have when making Faith clothing is that when I measure her she spends the next hour measuring me, which is fine when I've got plenty of time to make it but not when I only have one night!

While I cut the paper pattern and the fabric, she sat on the floor next to me cutting her own paper and fabric,  then passed me pins when I needed them.

I love the effect of the white eyes (on the bears!) - from a distance they really pop

I couldn't find my buttonhole foot, so I just made a mini welt pocket-style buttonhole (I don't know if they are technically the same as bound buttonholes or not) because I know how to do those (sort of) and I didn't have time to learn anything new.  That said, I don't think I've done too badly considering it was a bit of a rush job.  I'll just have to finish the seams properly before I wash it.

Friday, 21 December 2012

A coat for Caitlin: Part 2

Well, I finished Caitlin's coat with days to spare.  I messed up the length a bit but as I was planning on stitching some trim onto the bottom of it anyway, I just added a few inches of fabric and stitched the trim over the seam to cover it.

I think it turned out quite well, all things considered.

I really must remember not to use fabrics for the first time on garments for other people when I don't have time to play with hem a bit first.  I would like to make myself a waterproof Minoru for the summer, so I'll have to get practising with the scraps from this coat.

I was so happy to get it finished in time that I rapped it up ready to go before I remembered that  needed to take pictures, so those will be added as soon as I get some!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Sewing bible?

I treated myself to a new sewing book last week which arrived at the weekend and  am totally in love.  I am currently reading it cover to cover and am already thinking of how to improve the next versions of some of my clothes.

How to Use, Adapt and Design Sewing Patterns

I have quite a number of sewing related books with everything from basic techniques to step by step projects to couture techniques but none of them have grabbed me like this one - yes I dive into them every now and again for the odd tip, but I have never sat down and read them.

I have recently started thinking more about how to adjust garments the proper way rather than just taking in or adding to the side seams (please tell me everyone at least starts out doing that?!) but it always looks so complicated to me when I read tutorials on blogs.  This book has made everything click into place and I can't wait to get started on my 'proper' sewing.

Do you have a book that made everything fall into place for you?  What would you say is your 'sewing bible'?

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Faithisms #6

"You are very good at reading.  Daddy isn't.  It is very hard.  He needs to practice"

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

A coat for Caitlin: Part 1

Word is getting around in my family that I am doing some unselfish sewing and on a (very drunken) night out to celebrate my Dad's 60th birthday, my step sister commissioned me to make a coat for her gorgeous daughter Caitlin.  Me being my idiotic (and tipsy) self said I would do it as her Christmas present - it was only a couple of days later that I realised Christmas is ONLY 4 WEEKS AWAY. Doh!

So now I' working to a pretty tight deadline with heaps of pressure to make it good - I feel a big responsibility to make it just right as Caitlin gets cold very easily so I want to make sure its warm enough but not too hot.

M6637 Toddlers'/Children's Lined Jackets, Pants and Mittens McCall's Pattern
McCalls M6637

I've ordered some purple ripstop and some waterproof fleece from eBay and the pattern and zip from Jaycotts so I'm just waiting for it all to arrive then I will be sewing like a maniac to try and get it done.  I'm hoping it will be alright without having to do a muslin and fittings - I don't want to hassle her too much.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

A Negroni for Helen: Part 1

After the coat muslin fiasco I'm going all out with my muslins now.   I've just finished the Negroni muslin for my sister and have done a fitting.  I've never sewn a Collette pattern before and I got myself a bit confused with the instructions in places but I got through it and I like the stlye and construcion of it - it was pretty simple once I got my head round the instructions. 

I was expecting to have to do a lot of adjustments to get the fit right for Helen (it is a mens pattern afterall) but she doesn't like things too fitted anyway so all I need to do is add a bit of length and add some extra buttons as well as epaulettes.

Won't be able to actually make it until we get a chance o go fabric shopping though which isn't easy as she works full-time and weekends are difficult for me.  We'll get there though.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Exciting happenings

Well, there are lots of things occurring chez Smith at the moment.

Stuart is letting me turn a corner of the living room into my very own slice of heaven - I'm getting a sewing corner!  I can't tell you how excited I am about this - I've started a little Pinterest board dedicated to my plans and I have never been on the Ikea website so much in my life.  He got a gift voucher from work for 7 years service which he is using to buy me a desk (I had already decided on a small £10 desk that would do for keeping my machine on but he decided it wasn't big enough so is spending the whole voucher on one) and has said that he will redecorate the living room and that I can have whatever I want for my little corner.

Also, aside fro the occassional dress for Faith and one top for Mum, the only things I sew are for myself because I don't think I'm good enough to sew for other people.  Well, that is all changing too: my Dad and step-Mum were amazed when they realised I had made my coat myself (I've only been wearing it about 6 months!) and my sister told Dad that I was making her a shirt - he now wants me to make some shirts for him too!

Unfortunately that means I'm going to have to start getting really disciplined with my sewing - no more getting fed up of something half way through sewing.  It also means I am now getting a rather long to do list, so I figured I would alternate making things for me and others:
  1. Helen's Negroni shirt
  2. Finish my Thurlow trousers
  3. Stuart's Negroni
  4. Make myself a waterproof Minoru ready for summer gigs
  5. Dad's shirts
  6. My Crepe dress
  7. Stuart's Minoru
That should mean that I will have plenty to blog about over the coming months

Monday, 5 November 2012

Ramblings about body image

I've been thinking a lot today about body image - both my own and my daughters.

I think that since having her 3 years ago I have tried to appear happy and confident about my body for her sake, both consciously and unconsciously   I am not afraid to be naked in front of her, I am not embarrassed when she stares at my nakedness or asks questions about it.  I tell her she is beautiful and perfect because that is exactly what she is.  When I look at her I see no faults at all - I just see the most beautiful little girl I have ever seen.  Okay, part of that will just be because she is my daughter, but I am sure it is so much more than that:  she still has that pure innocence about looks and behaviours.  I don't think she has ever told me she doesn't like anyone unless she is being stubborn and doesn't want to see Nana!

She is completely unashamed to be running around the house naked, rolling around on the floor flashing her bum, she frequently sits on the sofa and touches herself without wondering if its an acceptable thing to do in public.

I am actually in awe of her freeness and acceptance of everything and everyone.  Even when shopping today and pointing out that a lady had a big bum, it was not done with any negativity, she was merely pointing out something she had noticed.  

I'm not saying that this is in any way down to my openness with her having a some sort of positive effect, maybe its too early to be having any effect at all.  

But what if my relatively unconscious openness will help her to keep hold of her body confidence for  little bit longer.  What if by making a conscious effort to be more comfortable in my own skin, she will be comfortable in hers even once her childhood innocence has been erased by the world around her.

I am by no means happy with my body but I have learnt to accept the body I have: the lumps, dimply bits, wobbly bits, saggy bits, the big bits, the just plain weird bits, more than ever since having Faith.  Pregnancy and childbirth was very kind to me - I didn't pile on the weight or get stretchmarks or stubborn loose skin - but it left its mark nonetheless and rather than being something I wish I didn't have, most of the time I am proud of the way it left me - my boobs may be saggier than I would want, but they are like that because I gave my daughter the best start in life I could give her - how could I be ashamed of that?

Like most people, I have struggled a lot with my perception of myself and it has led me at times down a very dark path of self loathing, something I will do whatever is in my power to stop happening to my daughter.

But it is nothing new is it?  My Mum is terrible for it - she is always putting herself down because she doesn't think she is beautiful - truth is that I look at my Mum the same way I look at my daughter - to me she has always been beautiful because of who she is, what she has done, and how she looks.

So, why do we all feel as though we have to be beautiful to other people in order to have confidence in ourselves?  Why do we allow the world around us to dictate how we should perceive beauty?  And why do we allow it to destroy the self-worth of our children?

Faithisms #5

"That lady's bum is really big"

"You are very good at weeing Mummy"

We went shopping this morning, Faith's first shopping trip in pants (no accidents by the way) and I was proud not only of Faith but me as well.  I've come a long way since having her - before she was born I used to get so embarrassed when any attention was drawn to me (usually by Stuart acting like a fool!) but now I can apparently go into a supermarket and not be the slightest bit embarrassed by my child very loudly pointing out the the lady in the cubicle next to us in the toilets was having a big we just like her, nor was I embarrassed while pushing the trolley when she decided to point out that the lady we were walking past had a really big bum, or even when she told me I was very good at weeing!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Inconsiderate bands...

I just wanted to have a mini rant about musicians' scheduling failures:

Ian Brown is releasing a limited edition collection of his solo stuff (only 1,000 being pressed) so Stuart and I decided to buy it (he is a massive fan after all and you should have seen his face lighting up at the mere mention of an Ian Brown collection, never mind all the bits that come with it!).  So there we were, happy and excited about buying something we will both treasure for a long time as well as buying something purely for the joy of owning it (something that happens more infrequently than him getting up with Faith during the night, but that's another story...).

Then the Stone Roses only go and announce 3 new UK dates next June in Finsbury Park and Glasgow Green, the setting for reputedly one of their best ever performances.  Woohoo... or not as the case may be.  The tickets go on sale on this Friday, right after we've spent £150 on the Ian Brown stuff and 2 weeks before Stuart gets paid.  Now, if it was just the two of us I would happily starve for the next two weeks if it means tickets to see them again, but I can't really starve Faith for 2 weeks - the tantrums would be more hassle than it was worth!!

So, I shall just have to console myself with youtube instead...

Sunday, 28 October 2012

My baby's 3!

It doesn't seem quite right, but its true, I have a 3 year old daughter.  Doesn't seem that long ago that I went to bed fed up of being pregnant to be woken up by the onset of labour.  Its funny the things one person remembers and how quickly it all comes back once mentioned - Stuart was telling everyone how he remembered her first night out of the hospital.  We were staying at my Gran's while our house was being redecorated and put Faith to sleep in her moses basket between the twin beds we were sleeping in.  Stuart suddenly started panicking about it - what if we fall out of bed onto her during the night?  Yeah, stuart - when was the last time you fell out of bed?!

I had completely forgotten about that until he mentioned it, but I remember laughing about it now.

We had a lovely but very busy day.  We spent the morning at soft play with her friends, the afternoon with my Dad and had dinner with my Mum.  She was loving all the attention and presents, and I loved watching everyone doting on her and beng so relaxed and happy (my Dad even talked me through the family tree he's been researching for the past couple of years - something he's never don before).  Only problem is my living now looks like a branch of Toys R Us.

Itried to get some pictures of everyone before leaving each place, but they all came out terrible - my family always look so awkward in front of a camera and Stuart is apparentl the world's worst photographer - he took 5 pictures with our friends in the morning and there is not one of them without a balloon in front of Dee's face!

I need to put together a list of photos to take on birthdays in future - I was so busy enjoying the day, I only got awkward staged shots, didn't even get one of her with the cake Dad bought.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Faithisms #4

Nana: "What did you get for your birthday?"

Faith: "Presents."

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Alma blouse

I have coveted this blouse pattern since Tasia put it on her blog and finally took the plunge when she had her moving sale.  When Gran gave me all that fabric last week I knew the instant I saw one of the pieces that it would be an Alma blouse.  And now it is.

I don't really know how to adjust patterns properly yet (I will do though) so I just made the darts a bit wider to make it fit better - I much prefer more fitted tops than the semi fitted style of the Alma.  This worked perfectly on the muslin, but the fashion fabric is a bit less sturdy.  Unfortunately it pulls a bit, making me look like I'm trying to squeeze myself into a too tight top.  I thought that the long sleeves would be too much floral and would make the top a bit mumsy, so I went with the cap sleeves instead.  I need to adjust them somehow though - they're too boxy for me.

The problem I have with these fitting issues is that if I take the stitching of the darts and sleeves out, it will leave needle holes in my top and I think that would look worse than the pulling, so I'm just going to have to live with it.

The gorgeous fabric was given to me by my Gran.  That in itself is a massive plus point, but add to that the fact that not only does it come from my Gran's stash, but she acquired it from her mother, who bought it on her travels back in the day from (she thinks) India.  So, not only a beautiful fabric, but a piece of family history!

I am adding this to my list of patterns to be altered and re-attempted because I do love the style of it, I just need to try my adjustments again.

Friday, 12 October 2012

A sewing first!

So proud of my little girl today - she used a sewing machine for the first time!

Well, sort of (I'm not a completely irresponsible mother!).

I cut a sample of some fabric to see how it would wash and had to do a zig zag stitch around the edge to stop it fraying first.  Faith came over to have a look (I usually only sew when she;s in bed so it was all a bit new and intriguing finding out what that thing next to her dolls house is actually for), so I sat her on my knee and she held the fabric as it went through.

I'm pleased to report that there was a massive grin on her face as we were sewing and she wanted to do it again once we had finished, she seemed very proud of her acheivement!  And I was so relieved that she enjoyed the experience - my hope of a sewing daughter remains in tact!

Thursday, 27 September 2012

A cambie

I had a bit of black and white striped fabric from my Mum that I didn't know what to do with, until I remembered this pattern from Sewaholic.

It irritates me when I go into shops and the stripes haven't been lined up properly, so I've never really thought about using striped fabric in my sewing.  How wrong I was.

It was so satisfying (and not as difficult as I thought it would be) to match the stripes up on the seams.

I didn't make many changes, just added an inch to the side seams of the bodice and omitted the lining.  I think its more of a wearable muslin than the finished article - I need to do something about the neckline (it bags a bit), I'm not crazy about where the skirt falls on my knee, and I want to sort out the shoulders, but I'm pleased with it as a first attempt.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012


Last week we went to Cyprus with some of the family.  Hot, sunny and gorgeous.  As they say "a picture tells a thousand words".  Indeed they do:


Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Faithisms #2

"Mummy, I got my finger in my BUM!"

My wake-up call this morning

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Kaftans and calamities

While Stuart was at training, I used the opportunity to cover the living room in all my sewing bits and set about making a kaftan or two to take on holiday.

I really should have just gone with my first instinct to sit in front of the television and finish the tub of Ben & Jerrys that was calling to me from the freezer.

I had left my pins at mum's house but decided to forge on anyway, so the fabric was slipping all over the place while I was trying to cut it and sew it, resulting in wonky edges and seams.  So I gave up on that one and got out the gorgeous John Kaldor fabric that I have been too scared to cut into for years.  Big mistake. 

It is slightly heavier than the other (cheap polyester) fabric I had been using and didn't slip around so much.  I was doing really well, sewing slowly and carefully, until Stuart came home.

Now, this may sound like of a bit of boyfriend-bashing (and believe me, I went a bit over the top with it in the moment - something I deeply regretted straight after) but really it was mostly my fault for allowing this to happen.

Anyway, the tutorial I was following called for me to cut down the front of the kaftan I had just spent so much time and care on.  I thought the easiest way to do it would be to wear the kaftan and ask Stuart to cut it for me after giving him what I thought were clear instructions - 'cut down the middle the curve out towards this leg slightly then straight down'.

He cut down the middle, then curved out towards that leg slightly.

Me: Now straight down the leg
Him - curving out more, and more
Him: You told me to curve out
Him: Well how am I supposed to know what you meant?

Cue an argument about how he's an idiot and I wasn't clear enough and me storming out, throwing myself on the bed and sobbing.

Overreaction? Hmm... maybe.

The kaftan's ruined though, and I'm not sure what to do about the fabric situation.  Need to cool off for a couple of days before I can look at it again I think.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Just what you want to hear...

...when you've spent the past week pouring your blood, sweat and tears into making a dress (that you aren't exactly head over heels in love with after all that graft) and you slip it on and show your darling fiance the finished article and his overwhelming reaction is...

It's fine, it looks nice

Aren't those the words that fill your heart with joy and make you realise that you really are the luckiest woman alive to have such an enthusiastic, encouraging, sensitive man. 

What do you mean sarcasm?!

(I do actually like it now, it looks much better with a belt - I really need to start accessorizing)

Anyway, even as I was sewing this dress, I didn't really think it was very me - I'm more of a knit girl than a woven girl, but as we were taking these photos I decided that I did like it, especially with the belt and heels, and it made me feel like the girl I used to be before I had a baby and tuned into a bit of a slob!

I've not done a dress anything like this before - princess seams, circular yoke, proper adjustments to the bodice.  The armpits are a bit baggy, but I'll probably be wearing it with a cardigan anyway, so I think I can live with it.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Mobile sewing

When Stuart bought me a Singer 127 for Christmas last year, I was over the moon - I have spent years coveting old sewing machines, dreaming of owning one.  It honestly is the best present he has ever bought me.  So why have I let it sit in the corner of the kitchen for so many months doing nothing?  Well, because it was a pain in the backside to lug out every time I wanted to do a bit of sewing, and I just could not get the hang of getting the shuttle set up properly.  The past couple of weeks, however I have had it set up on mum's kitchen table and have made Faith's shirred dress and am in the process of making a dress for me.  I now thread the machine almost without thinking, including the shuttle that has caused so much frustration and have even stopped automatically going for the foot pedal when I start sewing a new seam (seriously, after using it for an hour you'd think I would remember that THERE IS NO FOOT PEDAL!).

I am now even more in love with the thing than when I first got it.  I though it would be a bit of a ball ache making whole garments with it, especially adult ones, but I much prefer it to my modern one.  Its just so easy and reliable, and I feel more in control of it - I have a tendency to speed up way too much on my Brother just do get it done quicker, unfortunately the results are rather wobbly.

Anyway, the point of this post was that it is so nice to be able to take my sewing outside to take advantage of the lovely sunshine.  If only it were like this all summer!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Faithisms #1

"I love going under your bottom"

She was using my legs as a bridge to go under

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Cheats shirring

As part of my quest to use up all my fabric and make clothes for our holiday, I made Faith a simple stirred dress. Unfortunately the only elastic thread I could find in the local shops was black and as the fabric was so light I decided to cheat a bit.

Instead of winding the thread around a bobbing (which would show through on the front of the dress, I used cotton thread to stitch 13 rows 1cm apart and just fed the elastic thread through the channels and tightened it to get the shrewd look.

I'm actually really pleased with how it turned out. Even Faith decided she likes it now that its finished (she was not impressed the two times I asked her to try it on to check the fit, in fact, she said she didn't like it and immediately disposed! Aren't kids great at knocking your confidence!)

Saturday, 28 July 2012


You know those days where you just don't get a thing done, despite constantly doing stuff?  Well this is one of those weeks.

I set myself a challenge to use up all the fabric I have stashed around the house and am determined that I will use some of it to make clothes for Faith and I for our holiday in 5 weeks (yay!).  Well, when I've tried to sit down and get things started I've been distracted by having to sort out meal plans for the bloke's low carb diet for his upcoming fight, I've pinted patterns that I just can't get to fit together properly.  Last night I gave up and just cut the pattern paper (something I hate doing) but then realised that the two fabrics I had planned to use don't quite match.  Gave up on that and started planning a playsuit for Faith but remembered that for once I had actually put all the washing away straight away and hadn't got any of her clothes downstairs to use as templates, decided to practice some smocking instead and lo and behold I don't have any needles big enough for the elastic thread to go through!

I felt so frustrated and disappointed that I actually watched TOWIE to make me feel a bit better.  Don't get me wrong, I love watching bad TV - Four Weddings, Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, Jeremy Kyle - but my word that programme takes the biscuit, absolutely terrible.  Definitely had the desired effect though!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Summer time!

The past few days have mostly been spent celebrating the long awaited arrival of summer.

Faith and I have literally set up camp in my Mum's back garden and have sat out their for two days solid.

While Faith has been playing, I have been scouring the internet and printing and bookmarking patterns and tutorials for skirts, tops and dresses I can make for our holiday.

After sorting through (and adding to) the copious amount of fabrics I have stashed under the bed and in the kitchen, I have set myself a challenge to use up all the fabric I have by the end of the year.  There is a lot of summery cottons and jersey that I want to use for holiday clothes, so I need to get started on it this week, which means that there should be plenty of sewing posts popping up over the next few weeks.  I'm really looking forward to it - I've not done any 'proper' sewing for so long.

Friday, 13 July 2012


I've recently joined pinterest and despite my early misgivings about the whole thing (why would you want to share everything you like with everyone else?), I am now completely obsessed.

I have gone completely overboard repinning everything I vaguely like and having been on for just a matter of weeks, I am the proud owner of 13 boards, 227 pins and 82 likes, and I have acquired 2 followers in the past couple of days!

Is it really sad that I could spent all day on that website given half a chance, and that I get a ridiculous sense of pride when someone repins one of my pins?!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Zzzz hehehe zzzz

We had a lovely afternoon with my Gran today.  Faith was on form the moment we got there, running inside to say hello then immediately proceeding to dance and spin and insist on playing football with Gran.
Her new ritual is to turn the rug over then fold herself and her toys up in it and pretend to sleep.  Of course she can't help giggling between snores!

Monday, 9 July 2012

The week that was

Its been pretty quiet here this week - we've just been hanging around playing, walking and shopping.  We did do some 'bakings' as she calls it.  I have to admit, I usually cheat and just buy a pack of cake mix - its much easier and less stressful than trying to get Faith to either wait while I measure ingredients or help me with it, anyway I am most definitely not Nigella Lawson so at least with a mix I stand a chance of baking something edible!

(Oh and don't tell anyone, but of the 12 cakes we made, 10 were scoffed by me.  I'm such a pig, but they were lovely!)

Monday, 2 July 2012

This is the one, this is the one...

I went to see the Stone Roses at Heaton Park with the bloke yesterday, it was AWESOME!

We got to Manchester at half 9, queued from 12, gates opened at 3 and we got to the stage straight away and stayed there, in the centre, until 10.  The bloke was shocked I lasted so long - it was my first concert and when the roses came on there was a massive surge of people trying to get as close as possible.  After a while though the awesomeness of being so packed in wears off and turns into pain so we got out ( I was pretty impressed by the bloke - in spite of the crush, he somehow managed to push people back to clear a space for me to get out!) and went to have a more civilised time dancing and just enjoying the last hour rather than having to try as hard as possible to keep your spot, stay standing and find a tiny bit of space to breath. 

How many people can say their first concert was a Roses one? 

So, at my first concert I:

  • Was centre front for most of it
  • Was nearly the cause of a fight (some bloke grabbed my bum - Stuart was NOT happy)
  • Danced sober without caring about people looking (another first)

The whole day was incredible, I just wish I could have lasted the whole set in the mosh pit

Now I've just got to plan the next gig...

Friday, 29 June 2012

Chasing birds and collecting gravel

What is it about toddlers? I took Faith out this afternoon to the local nature reserve for lunch and a walk. While we were walking she kept stopping to pick gravel up off the path and show it to me.  Admittedly, as far as gravel goes, it was pretty and sparkled when the light hit it, but do we really need to put handfuls of the stuff in my bag to show daddy?!

When she was bored of the gravel she noticed to two birds that hand been walking on the path a little ahead of us for a few minutes.  As soon as she saw them she just had to Chase them.  She did this a few times during the walk.

Then we went to a park and the gravel investigation began again only this time she enlisted the services of another little boy to help her in her quest. It was so cute to watch them follow each other around, and when they had finished playing together he ran across the park to give me more gravel! So generous!