Saturday, 17 August 2019

Cool Summer Tops

This summer has been hot!  Well, that is until the schools broke up at the end of July.  August has been windy, wet and quite a bit cooler.   Is it me, or is it that the weather is much more humid these days?  Maybe it's my age, but as soon as I start to do anything I feel hot and sticky.  Not a nice feeling.  So time to make some cool summer tops:

First up is the Super Basic Tank Top from Halfmoon Atelier.  This is a free pattern if you subscribe to her emails.  As the cost of patterns is quite significant I do love a freebie!  I made this in the pink and white stripe jersey and I have made an orange one, and have a red one ready to sew.  It has a similar scoop at the back which I really like.  I love having bare shoulders and arms on a hot day although these days I tend to wear  tank tops only in the garden.  I do like to get a tan while I am gardening.

Second I made a 'shell' top from this gorgeous 'countryside' border print.  I have had this short length of fabric in my stash  for ages, but have no idea where it came from!  I had just enough to squeeze this shell top made with Simplicity 8061.  The pattern has several different necklines and now I have nailed the fit, I will make some more!

Last but not least I made this loose shirt in a gorgeous yellow print slinky fabric from More Sewing.   This is really loose, and lovely to wear on those really hot days.  It is made from McCalls M7629.  I have some more 'slinky' fabric in a dusky pink print to make another.

Both pairs of shorts are from Lands End.  I ordered the dark blue pair when I received an offer, and liked them so much I ordered the brown ones, which by then were in the sale.  Bargains!  They are smart enough and long enough to wear outside the garden!

Monday, 17 June 2019


I have been wanting a casual jacket for ages.  Something a bit smarter than a cardigan, but easily thrown on and off, and won't get creased and dishevelled looking.  I found a likely contender in my vintage sewing pattern stash.  Vogue  1772, a DKNY Vogue American Designer pattern from 1996.  

I have made it before but in the fabric was too light and I didn't line it so it didn't really work.  I decided to use up some red ponte I had in my stash already.  

This time, I decided to line it as it would be easier to slip on and off without catching on clothes I would be wearing underneath. The jacket has some great details,  princess seams and some cute little darts at the waist.  Hard to see in these pictures. It looks really smart in the picture on the pattern, but that one is made from woven fabric, and I was making mine from fabric with a little stretch for a more casual look.    I decided to keep it even more casual by omitting the buttons.    For fitting, I graded the pattern out to the hips, and I had to narrow the shoulder seams.  

I am wearing it here with a t-shirt I made from some fabric left over from a dress.  (I had to use a red band to lengthen it as I didn't quite have enough fabric!)  The jeans are from a local charity shop.

It goes well with my latest dress make, another shirt dress, a combination I wore to my niece's wedding back in May:

Next I decided to make a hoodie from another vintage pattern.  I had some grey tracksuit fabric with a lovely soft fleece backing, which I thought would be perfect for this 1990s pattern, Style 1041.

And here it is:

I really love this jacket!  I put in a black zip and top stitched in black to match.  This really is a 'slip on and off ' jacket that I will get a lot of use out of this one, especially at this time of year when the weather is a bit dull and cool.  Hard to think that this time last year we were basking in Mediterranean temperatures!

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Devil's Dyke Walk

Yesterday was a Bank Holiday here in the UK, so we decided to go a bit further for our walk with Barney, our Springer Spaniel.  We have a goal to walk along the South Down's Way, little by little!  The South Downs are a range of chalk hills that run some 100 miles from east to west in the South-East of England.    They are not very high, up to about 270m, and are flanked by the sea on the South side and the Weald on the north side.  The South Downs Way is a long distance path that runs the length from Eastbourne, East Sussex in the east to Winchester, Hampshire in the west.  We have walked a small part of it, north of Worthing towards the west and the east, so we decided to drive over towards Brighton to the next bit of the path from Devil's Dyke. 

Devil's Dyke is a deep V shaped dry valley to the north of Brighton and Hove, surrounded by hills of just over 200m high.  It has many legends surrounding it, my favourite is that the devil was digging a trench to let the sea in and flood the many churches of Weald inland of the downs.  He stubbed his toe on a large rock, which made him very angry and kicked the rock over the hills towards the sea.  It is said that the rock can still be seen in a park in Hove! 

Starting out at the car park, we were immediately on the South Downs Way.  The path is well signposted and very well maintained.  It is busy with ramblers, dog walkers, families and cyclists.  We headed west to meet up with the point at which we had turned around last time we walked from that direction.

Here's the view to the east, with the next hill and a peek at the flat expanse of the Weald - the land between the North and South Downs.

I was a little nervous about walking through a field of cows!  These were young bullocks, quite small still but very healthy and shiny looking.  They were curious of us, and Barney was curious of them!  Needless to say, we kept him on a short lead through this field.  We came across some much larger bulls in the next field, but I think they were used to us humans and took no notice of us as they lay there chewing the cud in the sunshine.

Here's Barney posing while we stopped to drink our flask of coffee.  We sat on the scarp side of the hill and admired the lovely clear view to the north over the Weald to the North Downs in the distance.  It is a patchwork of  farmers fields, with hedges and trees in between.  You can make out small towns in the distance.

Here's a view along the back of the Downs, showing the steep scarp slopes.  We love to drive along the little road  below the hills that winds its way along through pretty little villages.

Nearly back at the Dyke, I was taken with the patterns of paths on this hillside made by sheep.

I love to look down on the towns and villages below.  It is great to see where towns and villages are in relation to each other.  This view is looking down onto one of the pretty villages, Poynings.  

Of course the camera doesn't do this justice, but this is a view down into Devil's Dyke itself.  You will have to take my word for it that the sides are very steep, and it is a long way down!  There is a pub to the left of this picture and there were lots of families walking around this part.  There are people in this picture right down at the bottom, but they are so small I am not sure you will be able to see them.  

I looked up Devil's Dyke on Wikipedia before writing this, and found out that Devil's Dyke was even more popular in Victorian times!  There was a train station here with a branch line from Hove, which was closed in 1938.  There was a cable car across the valley and a funicular railway up the steep north side from near Poynings.  Apparently in 1893, 30,000 people visited during the same bank holiday!  You would never know this now, although there are small clues to where the buildings were.  It just seems like very pleasant countryside, and rather glorious with the blue sky and fluffy cloud backdrop.

Next time, we will park at the same car park and walk East.  Hopefully we will do that quite soon

Monday, 13 May 2019

Spring Flowers

Bluebell woods are one of the spectacular sights of the countryside in England at this time of year.  The English bluebell is a lovely flower with its drooping bells in stunning shades of blue, and carpets the woodland in a haze of blue.  One of our favourite dog walks at the weekend is Slindon Woods about 30 minutes drive from here.  We decided to go over there on Bank Holiday Sunday to see the bluebells.  The weather was cold and a bit dull, and some of the bluebells had already finished!  But we found enough to take some photos:

 We took a flask of coffee and sat under these intriguing branches of an oak tree to drink it.

A few days later the sun was shining, so I took a walk around my garden with my camera to try and capture some spring colour:

And finally, I potted up 3 tomato plants and a Black-Eyed Susan in my greenhouse.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Me Made May 2019

It is that time of year again!  Zoe from SoZo blog has been hosting MeMadeMay now for 10 years!  The idea is to wear Me Made clothes all month.  Lots of sewists join in posting on Instagram (#MeMadeMay2019) and blogs etc, making all sorts of pledges to wear more of their home made wardrobes.  I am linda.pierce.5623 on Instagram.

I have taken part a couple of times before, and have generally pledged to wear at least 1 item of Me Made clothing each day.  This year I wanted to change it up a bit and try to wear items that I don't wear very often, my skirts and dresses. 

Before I started sewing my own clothes again, I hardly ever bought a dress or skirt.  My measurements just don't coincide with RTW skirts and dresses - I am too pear-shaped!  This is one of the reasons I started to sew again, and the reason I go to classes each week.  But, even though my me made dresses and skirts fit Ok (most of the time!) I still don't wear them. I am happiest wearing jeans and a top.   I want to try and find out why that is.

I love this skirt and have worn it quite a bit in the autumn and winter.  The shape lends itself to boots and pleather jacket.  The pattern is Kwik Sew 3877, and I have made it several times and will definitely make it again - maybe in a plain colour.

Another Kwik Sew 3877.  I bought this fabric from Fabric Land, and tbh it is not very good quality.  I originally made it shorter but recently lengthened it.  I inadvertently scorched the fabric a bit with the iron so I think this skirt will go to the charity shop now.  The jumper is a bit small and has joined the skirt in the charity pile!

I love this pinafore dress!  I feel quite cool and trendy in this (LOL!).  The fabric is a printed baby cord, and has lots of colours I can pair it with.  In fact, I bought an orange-red top and a cream top today, both of which will look OK.  Here I am trying out a new look (to me), wearing my sneakers with a dress!  The pattern is the Cleo dress fro Tilly and the Buttons.

Off to my niece's hen party - dinner at a local Italian restaurant.  I decided to wear this red crepe fitted dress with the unusual jewel neckline.  Somehow the neck doesn't sit quite right , and I find it really difficult to pair with a cardigan.  I can't say I feel very comfortable in this - not really me!  But it was nice to wear to the hen party dinner.  Pattern is Simple Sew Loretta jewel neck dress.  Below is a selfie at the hen party with my Mum.

Back to my Cleo pinafore - can't you tell I prefer something more casual?  This time paired with light grey tights and brown ankle boots. In the past, I have worn this with black jumper, tights and boots, or with a t-shirt in the summer.  It is very versatile.

This is my latest make, a shirtdress in this gorgeous embroidered denim.  I have made the waisted version of this a couple of times and feel very grown up in them.  This one is a little more casual.  I don't usually wear blue, except for jeans!  I was a little apprehensive both because of the colour and the loose fit with a belt - would I look like a sack tied in the middle?  Looking at this phot, I am pleasantly surprised and am thinking that I will wear this alot, both layered and on it's own in the Summer.

Finally, this long autumn leaf print skirt.  I love the fabric, but hardly ever wear it!  I am wearing it now as I write, and have realised that there are several things I don't like about it:
*it is too long on me
*it is a bit small and sits too high on my waist
*hence I feel frumpy in it
*it crumples too easily and needs ironing all the time

By the way, the pictures were taken as selfies on my phone in my conservatory, in my garden, in the spare bedroom, and the last one in my bedroom.

One week in I already have some thoughts:
*I need to make some items out of plain fabric to go with the myriad of patterned items of clothing I have!
*It's been really cold this week, and I find tights and shoes a real problem!  It's OK if my boots go with my dress/skirt, but I just don't know what shoes I should wear.
*There is a certain length I feel comfortable with - it is just about knee length.  Some of my dresses and skirts are a bit short and some too long.

Monday, 29 April 2019

12 quilts in 2019

I have decided to set myself a challenge to use up some of  my copious stash of quilting fabric and make 12 quilt tops this year.  Then I intend to do a 'free-motion machine quilting' class and learn how to do it properly before I set about quilting them.

I used to go to quilt shows and fabric sales and buy lots of stuff!  The fabric has been languishing in my stash for up to 10 years, so it is definitely time to do something with it.  Some of my purchases have been kits to make a quilt, and some have been odd fat quarters that I have liked.  For example, here's a picture I took of some fat quarter bundles I bought at a quilt show in 2012.  I used the Christmas fat quarters for Christmas bunting as gits for my friends a few years ago, but I still had the blue, pink and white fabrics!

The blue and pink fabric have become baby quilt tops.  I love these 2 quilts!  I found the triangle pattern online and it was so easy, I completed it in an afternoon.  I love that the large triangles make it look so modern despite the prints being a little old-fashioned.  I bought the sashing fabric sometime later to go with this set of fat quarters.  I have enough to do the backing too.  The blue one is a windmill pattern, again found online (Pinterest has been my friend here!).  The dotty fabric used as sashing was bought separately.


This next quilt is the first one I made this year, and it was during sewing this that I decided to challenge myself to at least 1 quilt per month.  I bought this kit at a class I went to at a local quilt shop.  The owner held the classes in her own home, and it was a lovely atmosphere.  She has sadly closed down now.  I made this 'disappearing 9-patch' quilt in the class, and bought this fabric to make another one exactly the same.  (Not sure why I wanted another one exactly the same but heho!)    I have to say that I am not in love with this one.  I don't really like the orange 'background'.  The patterned fabric has little cartoony dogs on it, which was why I was attracted to it.  It is by Basic Grey, and I had a charm pack (precut 5 inch squares).  I still have enough of the border print to do the backing.

Another quilt that I had wanted to make for a few years is made with some of my vintage embroidered linens.  I collected some vintage embroidered tablecloths sourced from eBay and local charity shops.  I sold some of the perfect linens on my Etsy shop, but kept back anything with holes or stains.  I managed to cut out some pretty embroideries to use in my quilt.  A friend had answered an advert for some vintage cotton lawn scraps, which she shared with me, and I also used up a few ditsy prints of my own.  Originally I was going to sew the blocks together without sashing in between, but decided to use up the scraps of linen.  I am really pleased with the final quilt, it is so pretty!  I bought a green ditsy flowery duvet cover from a charity shop that I will use for the backing.  So pleased to have made this quilt almost entirely from second- hand fabrics.

I am now working on a 'wonky star' quilt using some gorgeous plaids.  This pattern comes from a really old quilting magazine, Popular Patchwork, February 2003.  Each block is hand sewn, but I expect that I will machine sew the blocks together.  I am about half way through making the blocks at the moment, but may make the quilt bigger.  I have loads of plaid fabric!