Sewing Bee update plus living without a phone.

Hello chums!

I got through to Round 3 of the Pattern Review Sewing bee!!!! BUT they have asked for a lined jacket…mmm wonder what will be the final then? Anyway I am super stoked that I got further than my goal of reaching Round 2. :-).

Learning from my last ditheration I spent Saturday looking at what jacket patterns I had and deciding on which one to make. Super organisation is the key here since I have only ever made a men’s coat before here which had no fitting issues and that took me about a month to make. I have 8 days left to make mine.

So I don’t yet have any pictures to show of the jacket I am working on. This is because I have had to live without a phone for over a week now. My phone’s software just went crazy and basically its broken beyond redemption. No I didn’t have insurance on it – we have paid insurance for so many years without claiming that when I got this phone I declined insurance. Lesson learnt.

Its been interesting living without a phone though and I thought I’d share my thoughts on it so far. The distance from a cell phone has allowed me to observe its role in my life with more clarity .

Look up Hila! If the eyes are the windows to the soul, then we’ve boarded up those windows and the soul inside is wilting from lack of light. Walk down a busy street and you’ll notice that in the crowd, not a single set of eyes meets yours. I didn’t notice this because I, too, was always staring on a screen. My eyes felt naked and exposed without a screen to gaze upon. Plus I had forgotten how every set of eyes is unique.

Funny thought – within a few decades, we might see a new medical condition where people can no longer prop their heads upright because spines will have ossified in such a way that necks arch permanently downward from gazing at screens.

I had missed contemplative moments in the garden, long walks with nothing to think about or even a bit of peace and quiet while in the toilet. For centuries, that daily movement enjoyed on the porcelain throne was akin to a holy ceremony, for it was the one time of day one could be by oneself and be sure no one would interrupt. But no more: now for the first time ever, your friends can be there with you along with an endless supply  rapid fire updates on the lives of celebrities, viral videos of people you’ll never meet and so on.

Not having a cell phone was a nuisance for my family too. Mr SNS cant just call me now. Lol.

I am glad this has happened to me. Because I have learnt I don’t really have to be connected 24/7 to everything. I also discovered my rate of reading books reduced significantly since I went on Instagram.

I have already read and finished 2 books since the phone died.

Family meals have been more varied since I have to look up recipes in my cook books and magazines. Browsing leads to “ooh that looks lovely moments”

Rediscovered the joy of my sewing books – I cant just google exactly what I need. I am inspired and excited about some techniques I have been seeing while browsing through the books.

More sing a longs in the house since I cant just connect wirelessly to the bluetooth speaker. Who knew my 3 yr old knew all the words to ‘Solid as a rock’ by Ashford and Simpson!

Mr Bloom, Sid and Andy on CBEEBIES is quite a hotties! I tend to use my screen when I am in the lounge with the kids but no more.

A lot of things were surprisingly easy to accomplish without needing to check online ‘how its done’.

I did get lost a lot though without GPS. I have bought an atlas to keep in the car now.

I don’t know when I will make my reentry but I hope when I do that I will be more mindful of how I use my phone. I forget sometimes that the world used to function perfectly fine without smartphones. Have you ever had to do without a phone too? How do you stay stay mindful? 

As always thank you for stopping. Because I love pictures here are some of my last make in progress.

Happy Sewing!


XoX2015-09-20 10.26.45 2015-09-19 23.08.45 2015-09-19 22.28.45 2015-09-19 22.08.32 2015-09-19 21.16.03 2015-09-19 21.10.35 2015-09-19 21.10.28 2015-09-19 20.57.07 2015-09-19 20.23.092015-09-18 10.31.29



PaulineAlice Carme Blouse + Mindless musings on Round 2 of the Pattern Review Sewing Bee….

Hello all!

Hope your day is good thus far. I thought I would share what I have been up to since my last post after finding out I was in Round 2 of PR Sewing Bee. Getting through turned out to be a double edged sword. Frustrating and joyful in equal measure.

On the one hand I explored (albeit in a rush different embellishment techniques) which was exciting but on the other hand my plan changed so many times.

My main issue was that I want to make things I will wear regularly not showpieces. I also am only using stash items. Lord knows I have a huge stash and it needs to be worked through.

With those 2 limitations I foraged around looking at different embellishing techniques. I generally haven’t done much by way of embellishing. I have had misadventures in dyeing – that was starting point for me.

Tried out crosssticthing…too folksy.

I considered stamping hearts in bronze on the linen but it was… meh.2015-09-16 09.45.10Tried machine decorative stitching…

2015-09-14 15.13.53Even made a muslin of Vogue 8280 with modified circle was underwhelming….2015-09-13 19.20.23

I eventually settled on the Carme blouse. Here is my review:

What type of fabric did you start with for your project?

100% lightweight linen in a pastel lilac colour.

What techniques did you use to modify your fabric?
2 Techniques used : Dyeing and Sashiko embroidery.
Machine Dye
This lilac linen has been in my stash for more than a year so I decided to use Navy Blue Dylon Machine Dye. I have dyed fabric previously with mixed results but machine dyeing has been consistent the 2 times I have used it so I felt it was a safe bet that I wouldn’t muck up. I did have to run my washer on empty to make sure there no dye left in the machine. For me that’s the scary part of machine dyeing…

Once I got the colour dyed I went through a long cycle of dithering over what to do to the fabric. I did some cross-stitch, machine embroidery, stamping but each had issues around the time frame. 5 days into the challenge after making a dress muslin I was still vacillating between debilitating indecision and mad panic. It was at this point I came across Sashiko embroidery.I found calm and inspiration in the simple, geometric patterns.
Sashiko is a form of decorative reinforcement stitching or functional embroidery from Japan.
I thought Yes! Running stitch is going to be dead easy and quick right? Wrong!!! Having no luxury of time for changing my mind I stopped looking and committed…well…I had to because I was running out of time -_-.

Step 1. Printed out a variation on the Uroko (fish scale) pattern.

Step 2: taped 6 A4 pages together so I could have a large template to copy from.

Step 3: traced the pattern onto lightweight fusible interfacing. Ok this took forever. Making sure the interfacing didn’t move while writing on it meant I ended up using fine point Sharpie to move faster. 3 hours to trace! 3 whole hours!!!

Step 4: cut the fabric perfectly on grain

Step 5: fused the traced out interfacing to the wrong side of my fabric making sure the abutting scales lined up on the straightgrain and that the bottom of the scallops were sitting on the cross grain. Again that took ages.

Step 6: All that excruciating lining up of fabric and interfacing – move it to the ironing board.

Step 7: Not even my newborn babies have ever been handled as delicately as when moving the 2 piece of fabric.

Step 8: Fused. Phew (huge sigh of relief). Surely the most difficult part is over yes?

Step 9: Gathered embroidery materials (i.e dug around my sewing cave trying to find the embroidery floss bought over 2 years ago….
*. Technically speaking you are supposed to use speciality Sashiko needles and thread

Step 10: Embroidered. I was happy with 3 strand floss. The Sashiko was slow going because you have to make sure it doesn’t pucker.
*There are many rules and ritual behind this craft. I definitely am not anywhere near a Sashiko beginner and I probably broke a lot of Sashiko rules while making this.

Step 11 Gave up after 2 straight days of hand sewing every spare moment I had PLUS burning the midnight oil. I realised I wasn’t going to be able to make enough of the fabric in time to sew a high quality garment. It started off fun but….. ai yai yai! . My eyes and my fingers got sore quickly… I was not hard core enough to endure and finish all the fabric that I was supposed to embroider. More on how I dealt with that later on…..On the plus I had Netflix as background noise during my night sessions and ‘watched’ a lot of stuff 

What pattern(s) did you use for your garment, or is your entry self-drafted or draped?

I used PaulineAlice Carme blouse. With this bee I have 2 extra self imposed criteria 1. To use things in my stash and 2) to make things already on my sewing list that I know I will wear. Having made this once before (and LOVE it) I was confident I would wear the finished garment. My plan was to make enough Sashikoed fabric for the bodice, back and sleeves and the bib yoke would be plain. HOWEVER as mentioned above I could not make enough fabric in time.
It was then that I switched it around and went for embroidered bib yoke instead. Since I had more fabric than just for the bib yoke, I also added a back yoke. I didn’t want the stand collar so I just eliminated that. I was going to have a button placket on the front but I just could not bring myself to cut into that embroidery. It took a looooong time to make! So I didn’t sew the placket. Instead I made 2″ wide bias binding out of the dyed navy linen and finished the neckline. I didn’t want any stitching on the yoke. In order to achieve that I sewed the bias binding right side to wrong side of fabric first then folded the bias binding over the front and edgestitched.
I also lowered the neckline by an inch to make it pullover top. French seams on all seams except for armholes. I used overlocker for the armholes – mostly because I didn’t have time and I needed to finish. It still looks neat on the inside though.

How does your garment show off your fabric modifications?
The 2 yokes really allow the striking elegance of the Sashiko embroidery stand out. Especially as the white cotton thread on the deep blue linen gives the Sashiko its distinctive appearance.
Its a perfect versatile and easy-going casual top look.. The clean lines and simplicity of the garment design make a feature of Sashiko embroidery. I am really glad I didn’t sew the button placket on the front as the flow of the fish scales would have been interrupted.

Indicate here that you included the required photographs. Remember that the Front and Back photographs must be on a live person (the head can be omitted / obscured if desired):
1. Started fabric [Yes] 2. Front [Yes]:
3. Back [Yes]:
4. [Optional]: Yes
5. [Optional]:Yes

What particular features would you like to point out to the judges?

So the yoke has some delicate running stitching on it. In hindsight I think it’s best to Sashiko a piece already cut out so you don;t have loose threads hanging about. To this end using a pin I dabbed glue on loose ends once I had cut the yokes out. This involved another 24 hours of waiting for glue to dry. The raw side had to be protected so for the front I encased the bib in a silk fabric harvested from an old car boot find that I never wore. I sewed the yoke and lining right sides together on the curved outer edge then turned out to have neat bound edge. Also used the silk for the cuffs. I LOVE this feature so much. The floral print contrasts so beautifully plus the silk feels heavenly against my chest when I am wearing it.
On the back yoke I just folded the seam allowance under the bottom edge of the yoke then placed it over the back bodice piece -wrong side of yoke on right side of back bodice. Edge stitched straight edge and basted the armhole and neckline so it would act as one piece.

Any other details that you want to share about your fabric modification or the garment you made from the fabric?
Sahiko looks easy but I don’t think so. I think you have to really think about how you are going to finish garment before doing the Sashiko. I learnt quite a fair amount doing this challenge. Would I make something with Sashiko in 5 days again? Absolutely not. But without any time constraints I might make something over a much longer period of time. I am very pleased that I have managed to achieve a clean and elegant end result that I will wear and love. I’d like to thank the Pattern Review committee for coming up with a challenge that has stretched me well beyond my comfort zone. Looking forward to the next challenge which I plan on doing regardless of whether I go through or not.

Cue pictures….Back Collage Carme Blouse Interiors Collage picture one sashiko colage sEPT 2015 204 sEPT 2015 247 sEPT 2015 248 sEPT 2015 250 sEPT 2015 251 sEPT 2015 261

I love this Carme top so much ! Unfortunately I finished sewing it Sunday night and couldn’t get pictures done until Monday. It was wet and raining all day so I was stuck with indoor pictures on a poorly lit day. It had to do because of the deadline. I was seriously blown away by the entries for Round 2 proving once again how super creative and amazingly talented the sewing community is. I don’t envy the judges at all.They announce on September 25 who gets through to the next round….will keep you posted!

Thanks for stopping by my little corner of the interwebs!

Happy sewing!








Pattern Review Sewing Bee Round 1 & Sewaholic Granville

Hello all,

How are you doing? I am ok. Its been a little while since posting but I have been beavering away. First of all I entered the PR Sewing bee. Round 1 was a fitted blouse and well I  knew I had to make a Sewaholic Granville in paisley print cotton lawn. It did not take me long to make at all since my focus was on an outstanding finish and there was little by way of fancy details. I believe I just squeaked into Round 2 by the skin of my chin. The level and quality of makes was incredible and tbh I didn’t think I would get to Round 2. But somehow I did. Before I go on to talk about Round 2 here is my review :

Sewing Bee Round 1 – Fitted Blouse

Pattern or style used and how it fits the criteria:
I love the Sewaholic Granville shirt. I have made it before and spent a lot of time sorting out the fit but once I nailed it it was well worth all the time and frustration! So when I saw this competition I knew it had to be Granville for me. So Granville is a perfect criteria fit because..well…its awesome. Seriously though its designed for wovens. It has a button closure and a collar. The fantastic shaping is achieved by bust darts, a yoke and two princess seams at the back. The side seams also curve in towards the waist. This combo means it can really follow the body contours. It has set in sleeves.
And I made it using cotton lawn.
(I think I ticked all the boxes phew… step…)
Fabric Used-Material Content and Yardage:
The fabric is a deliciously gorgeous lush cotton lawn (100%) which I purchased at a local market.I bought 1.5m (sorry for the imperial guys I was raised on metric and have never been able to get my head round imperial). I saw the paisley print and it was love..sweet love at first sight. I can squeeze a Granville out of 1.4m by using a different layout to the suggested one. I have also traced out the pattern and reduced the seam allowances to 1/2″.
The fabric has good handle with a good amount of drape not too stiff and not too flowy either. But this babey can hold a crease like no other. It was such a pleasure sewing and ironing it.

Describe your closure:
The closure on the Granville is a simple button band of 1″ extension folded over an interfaced backing. The backing has a seam allowance to tuck under so as to encase raw edges. This is for both sides. I used lightweight interfacing because my fabric is so fine I didn’t want it to stiffen up too much. For the first time I used fray check on the button holes – it was a bit meh for me. It did make it easier to slice the buttonholes open though. Sewed regular buttonholes.

Describe the other components you used (e.g. buttons, collar, sleeve type, trim, pockets, contrast, etc):
For buttons I used some reclaimed buttons from an old Crew Clothing shirt of my hubby’s. I decided to sew them in with the navy so that there would be little contrast between the white buttons with the dark center. The shirt has a stand collar which was fun to sew up. The upper and under collar were interfaced using lightweight interfacing. I trimmed just under 1/8″ from the uninterfaced pieces to get the turn of cloth which produced a very neat collar I am incredibly ridiculously proud of. My collar points are as perfect as I can get them by using a technique I found on a shirt making blog.
I didn’t put pockets because I never use pockets in front of my boobies. Looking after 5 little people means I bend over A LOT and nothing stays in a shirt pocket.
For the cuffs I took a page out of my favourite RTW Uniqlo work shirt cuff and cut the corners to have a nice shape. I love it especially since it means no turning corner points.

Describe the fitting technique(s) you used to achieve shaping:
My fitting issues with the Granville were at the back. Its drafted for the pear shape body type. The front was fine and I didn’t need to do anything with the bust darts. There was a lot of pooling fabric at the back which I got rid of by pinning out a wedge along the center back. I pinned (actually hubby did cause I cant pin my own back Once I was happy with the back I had to do some maths to determine how much needed to be taken out at waist then dividing that equally among the 4 seams (2 side seams and 2 princess seams). Then it was a case of coming in 3/8″ at the waist and tapering to zero at underarm. Downward I reduced the flare of the shirt at the hem to have a more fitted snug the bum kind of look.

Indicate here that you included the photos required – Remember that the required 3 photos MUST be on a live model (although head may be omitted/obscured) and blog links are NOT allowed:
1. Front [Required]:yep!
2. Back [Required]: Roger that!
3. Inside detail [Required]: AB – so – Lu -Tely!
4. [Optional]: mmmm ok then
5. [Optional]:uh huh!
Describe what you like most about this blouse:
I love the way it goes with just about anything! it looks great tucked into a skirt for a more formal look or tucked with jeans for a casual weekend look. Its very comfortable. I can move my arms without restraint because of the yoke design feature. Its a versatile pattern.

Describe your biggest challenge in creating this blouse:
For this particular blouse the biggest challenge was sewing flat felled seams. I had not done completely flat felled seams before and I am very pleased with this outcome. I even did them on the armholes! This is a set in sleeve so it had all the gathering at the sleeve cap to contend with. I trimmed the sleeve side and flat felled over the sleeve ( hope that make sense). The tailors ham came in really handy here because of the curve on the armhole. I probably should have Googled a tutorial but I was in such a good groove making this that I didn’t and just went with the flow. It wasn’t all smooth sailing – I unpicked the first armhole twice before nailing it. I doubt that I will ever make a set in sleeve without flat felled seams again – they are so neat and professional looking. Worth all the hassle.

What other information would you like to share about this blouse and your process?

I thoroughly enjoyed making this shirt. My focus was on creating a shirt that was as neat on the inside as the outside. I feel like I achieved that and that makes me very happy ;_)

And some picturesGranville 4 Granville 5 Granville Shirt Details interior and exterior Granville Sewaholic Granville 1 Sewaholic Granville 2 Sewaholic Granville 3 Sewaholic Granville

For Round 2 In this round you will add surface embellishments to existing fabric to make a piece of fabric (or fabrics) something truly unique. You will then make a garment out of the fabric(s) that you embellished. Because the embellishment process may take additional time, participants will have TEN days for this round.

Mmmm yeah! I was like WTF!!! Anyho spent all day feeling nonplussed by the challenge because I couldn’t think of what to do aside from dyeing fabric which seems very boring…I am looking into embroidery now. I learnt how to do embroidery a long time ago when I was around 9yrs old at school. I happened to speak with my mum telling her about the challenge when she reminded that I used to be so good at embroidery that I got a 1st in show at the county show a couple of years running. Something I had relegated to the dustbins of my memory for some reason. So the short of it is : I am exploring embroidery and will see where that takes me. I may not feel very excited about this challenge but, by golly I will give it my best shot!

On to other mundane things I have had to deal with sewing wise: this happened yesterday and I was not impressed (that’s putting it mildly):
2015-08-29 21.31.40

I had been wearing it all day and this happened around 6pm in the evening. Luckily I was back home when it happened. Cant be bothered to reinstall an invisible zipper . It will either be a lapped zip or an exposed zip. Jury’s still out on that one. Have you had a wardrobe malfunction too? Has said malfunction been fixed? I really like this skirt and I really ought to fix it as soon as possible but….there are so many things to sew!!! Argh!!! Why did nobody tell me the life of a sewcialist would be so filled with mind boggling dilemmas!

Rant over. Thanks for listening 🙂

….and  for stopping by this little corner of the interwebs.



The Made Up Initiative – M6696 completed!

Hello everyone!   As you may recall I pledged £10 to make McCalls M6696 here for the Made Up Initiative. Made Up Initiative is the brainchild of sewcialist extraordinaire Karen Ball aka Did you Make That. Its raised over £2300 as of posting for the National Literacy Trust. Its pretty awesome being part of such a wonderful community of sewers :-).

I made this dress in a fine cotton lawn that attracted me with all these lovely summery shades. Its the same fabric used to make my beloved Vogue V1440 top. I love this fabric so much despite my apparent inability to pattern match plaids.

mccall's m6696mccall's m6696 4

mccall's m6696 3
mccall's m6696 5mccall's m6696 1

Everything went well sewing wise except for 3 things. (I will try to be brief):

1. The lawn is quite a loose weave so when interfaced it shrunk considerably such that for my waist band and button band they were shortened by about 1.5″. I had to merge with scraps. In future when working with this type of fabric I will block fuse then cut the pieces.

2. I folded a bias cut button band in half so it actually doesn’t lie as flat as I would like. In future if I am cutting on the bias I need to sew 2 pieces together.

3. Something went with the pleats – not sure what but I ended up loosing 2 pleats at the button band end. Next time I will press the pleats with the pattern paper still on to ensure I get them perfectly right.

mccall's m6696 6mccall's m6696 7 mccall's m6696 8mccall's m6696 9 I didn’t bother with a neck button since I wouldn’t ever wear this buttoned all the way up.mccall's m6696 10mccall's m6696 11 mccall's m6696 12mccall's m6696 13mccall's m6696 14McCalls M6996For the inside yoke I used pink cotton voile. Armholes were finished with fancy floral bias binding which I do likey 🙂 PicMonkey CollageDespite all the hand stitching involved – I finished it in time to enjoy a brilliantly sunny weekend. I love this dress. Like really love it! Love the length. Love the gathers at the back. Love the pleats. Did I mention its got pockets (I was so busy twirling I forgot to get shots with my hands in my pockets).Will I be making again? Yes! I am very excited about the variations I want to make. This pattern is a keeper for me and I am glad this challenge came along and I sorted it out.

For more details of the awesome Made Up Initiative hosted by Karen of Did you Make  click to  Karen’s post here for full details. Go on and make a pledge too!

Thanks for stopping by and Happy sewing everyone!