Craft fairs and podcasts


I am deep in craft fair preparation this week – Christmas comes early when you own a craft business!

New for this year are these pocket mirrors, covered with fabric.  I bought a hand operated badge machine from a friend who is changing the focus of her business, and having such fun making matching mirrors and notebooks.  It’s good to have a break from sewing (did I just say that?!).


I’ve really got into podcast listening while I’m working.  I always assumed that I wouldn’t be able to listen to them with our slow rural broadband, but they are fine.

My favourites are -

Elise Gets Crafty   Elise interviews all sorts of different people about blogging, small business, inspiration, creativity and motivation.

The Lively Show Jess Lively talks to bloggers, writers and business owners about all sorts of things – too many to list.

Serial  A murder mystery in serial form, a new episode every week.  I came to this a little late, so have listened to the first six episodes in just a few days – gripping, and can’t wait for the next episode!

Can you recommend any podcasts?  I’ve got the bug!

Oh, and if you’re local to me, I have a stand at these craft fairs this month.  Come and say hello if you can!

Killerton Christmas Craft Fair – 8 – 9 November.  10.30am – 4pm.  £1.50 entrance to fair and grounds, National Trust members free.

Hestercombe Christmas Market near Taunton, 15, 16 November (see link for details)

Blackborough Artisan Market ,Blackborough Village Hall EX15 2HH – Saturday 22 November 10am – 2pm

Sewing plans – I really am going to make these!

I am very bad at sticking to sewing plans.  I just get so distracted by the latest shiny patterns and fabric – but I want and need these clothes, so here is my pledge to get on and make them!

I little while ago I won a Drygoods Design gift certificate from Sanae Ishida (thank you, Sanae!) and I put it towards this beautiful silk for a Chardon skirt.


Two Colette Myrtles using butterfly print jersey from the Spring Sewing Swap and plain blue from Evie at  Pendle Stitches‘ fabric sale.  I also bought some linen and cotton from Evie for the summer, and delighted with everything I bought. She has some more fabric for sale now here!


The Colette Mabel skirt looks perfect for snuggly winter casual wear, and I have some scuba knit to try it.


I’ve have a idea to convert McCall’s 6751 into a dress in this black crepe from Minerva.  We shall see – muslins need to be made!


Vintage tweed skirt in Burda 7531 – loved my orange version of this pattern in the summer.


I originally made this vintage brushed polka dot cotton into a Darling Ranges dress, but it wasn’t me.  I felt like I was wearing someone else’s clothes.  So I’m going to convert it using another Megan Nielsen pattern, the Kelly skirt.  Buttons already done!


This Merchant Mills Top 64 in ponte is planned to be a wearable muslin (lovely colour but it bobbles like crazy).  I’m not sure what I want to make it in next.  Some kind of felty wool would be good, I think.


And finally, this amazing border print panel.  It’s vintage, and Swiss.  I thought it would make a lovely Christmas dress, but not sure which pattern yet.  I’d love to hear if you have any suggestions!







Knit top saved! Maria Denmark Day to Night top in mustard gold

Maria Denmark Day to Night top

This is the top I was having so many problems with last week.  The fabric is a gorgeous sweater knit – mustard with gold slubby bits.  It’s a fairly loose weave and very drapey.

I thought it would look good a bit oversized and slouchy, but with the draped neck it just looked awful!  And I had terrible trouble with lumpy seams.

Because it was too big I could just cut it apart and try again.  I noticed the shoulder seams looked fine.  I had tacked them together with a long straight machine stitch to make sure the draped neck facing was in the right place.

So I tried this on the other seams.  You can see here the line of stitches which I am stitching over with my serger.


And look!  Smooth seams


The problem seemed to be the loose weave was making the fabric stick to the serger foot, so it wasn’t going through the machine smoothly and bunched up.  Stitching together the fabric first kept it in the right place.

Really pleased with this now, and it’s something I will wear.  I have to say, though, I am still feeling very wary of sewing with knits.  They all seem to behave so differently, and just go wrong far more than wovens!  I think I’ll stick to firm stable knits for a while.

Patterns: Maria Denmark Day to Night top, sleeves from her Birgitte T
Fabric: Mustard Gold Knitted Slub stretch jersey from here. £11.98

From Mars to a mysterious girl – some book recommendations


I was going to show you a finished object today – that knit top I messed up last week – fixed!  But it’s too dark and rainy for photos here, so thought I’d share some book recommendations instead.

We read a lot on holiday – we do talk to each other too! – and this years selection was a particularly good one.   Here are my top six.

The Martian – Andy Weir.  Astronaut Mark Watney is left behind on Mars after an accident in which the rest of the crew believe he is killed.  This is the story of what happens next, and it is brilliant.  Exciting, technically interesting, and often hilarious – I don’t often laugh at loud at books, but I did reading this one.  I insisted Mr D read it straight after me because I wanted to talk about it with him.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler.  Quirky and original, it’s very difficult to talk about this book without giving away the twist (which comes early on).  So I won’t!  Loved it.

An Abundance of Katharines – John Green. Former child prodigy Colin only goes out with girls called Katharine, and always gets dumped (19 times).  Very funny, and his friend Hassan deserves his own book.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky.  This is another quirky, funny, coming of age book, with an eccentric central character – but it is much more than that and incredibly moving.  I was left quite stunned by the ending. Well worth reading.

The Devil in the Marshalsea – Antonia Hodgson.  A historical thriller, more Mr D’s kind of book than mine (I thought), but I absolutely loved it.  Great characters and a real sense of time and place.  Fascinating insight into prisons in the eighteenth century.  I’m looking forward to the next in the series.

The Girl with all the Gifts – M R Carey.  Another book with a twist near the beginning which I won’t give away.  Melanie seems such a sweet little girl, so why is she strapped in a wheelchair at gunpoint to go to class.  And nobody laughs when she says she doesn’t bite.

Quick and easy tomato tart

Our neighbours, who own the farm that surrounds our house, gave us some beautiful tomatoes this week. Very ripe, and need to be used NOW! This tart is a great way to use them.


Packet of ready rolled puff pastry
Jar of pesto
Ripe tomatoes




  • Unroll the pastry and lay on a baking sheet
  • Score the pastry around the edge with a knife – don’t cut all the way through.  This will produce the raised edge of the tart.
  • Spread with pesto (I use the whole jar)
  • Thickly slice the tomatoes and lay in rows over the pesto.


  • Bake in a hot oven (around 200 C) until the pastry is golden brown and the tomatoes are soft.
  • Eat!  Leftovers are good reheated the next day.


Navy linen skirt and some thoughts on not making everything…

Simplicity 2451

This is Simplicity 2451 in the navy linen I used to make my holiday shorts.  Not a huge amount to say really, apart from it’s a great pattern (4 years old!) with many, many lovely versions on the interwebs.  This is view C, and the only change I made was to omit the back vent.  I seem to be able to walk ok…


I planned to show you this skirt with a me-made knit top, but it went horribly wrong.  Lumpy seams, wavy hem – the only good thing is it’s also too big, so I may be able to salvage it.  I haven’t yet made a successful t-shirt.  I know other people can do it, I’ve seen the pictures!

I signed up for Goodbye Valentino’s Ready To Wear fast this year.  I thought it would be easy – I did the Seamless project for 18 months.  But that was two years ago and I had lots and lots of rtw clothes then.

I broke the fast in the summer because I needed t-shirts and vest tops to go with my lovely me-made skirts.

I’m going to change my approach to making clothes.  Instead of trying to make everything, I’m going to focus on things I enjoy making and which have a reasonably good chance of being successful.  I know it’s good to try new techniques but I hate wasting precious sewing hours (and fabric).

It’s also really nice to go into a shop and just buy something!  So I shall plan my sewing AND my shopping for this winter.  Maybe even a Project 333 33 piece capsule wardrobe.



Wardrobe Architect colours scarf

Way back in March, when I was following the Coletterie Wardrobe Architect series, I chose some sets of colours to use when planning my wardrobe.  I think this has been the most useful thing I’ve learned so far for planning.  Choosing some colours which work together mean that separates are much more likely to form outfits!

I thought I’d use the colours to make a fairisle scarf – which will go with everything, and also remind me of the colours.

Sarah Hazell Fairisle scarf


The pattern is by Sarah Hazell and you can find it here.

I also like these colours for winter -


Perhaps I’ll make some gloves with these – I haven’t finished the scarf yet!