Monday, 19 December 2011

merry xmas

Today I had a little pre Xmas tea party for my youngest son, with 2 of his nursery school friends. We made the Gingerbread house yesterday (all 4 of us had a hand in it!). I used the recipe and instructions from Rachel Allen's Bake book. We also made fairy cakes, gingerbread biscuits and homemade mincepies (1st time I've ever done that). Everyone loved it, so far we've eaten half of the roof!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Tudor Day Costume

Sewn from a pattern in the Easy Costumes for Children book. Came
together very easily.

Somewhere over the rainbow...

Thursday, 24 November 2011


You might have seen a lot of moustaches appearing all over the place. Some looking not quite right. Well if they disappear next week, it's because it's Movember. It's a fun way for men to raise money for men's health charities (and easier than training for a 10k run!) My husband's giving it his best shot, find him here.

Moustache Eraser:
If you can't grow one, you can always buy this moustache eraser from the Tate Gallery shop for £2.50

Or get this cut out and keep moustache from! There's a couple of designs to choose from.

Happy growing!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

falling light

The clocks have gone back and in the 20 minutes since I turned the PC on it's now dark. I caught the last of the day's light to take the photos below. With the cold winter weather coming my mind has turned to warm and snug things to wear. When I came across this book, Northern Lights by Lucinda Guy. I had to buy it as I had fallen in love with the Hulda Pullover and the Twined Socks.

The book takes inspiration from northern European countries Scandinavia, Iceland and the Shetland Isles.

The Hulda Pullover is in the Icelandic section of the book, so I found this shop, and bought my yarn from it.

My yarn came in a dizzying selection of colours, but I followed the exact shades from the book, as that is what makes it, I think.

The reds that go just around the base of the jumper, which lift it.

I love these oh so subtle changes from off white up to black in the yarn selection. This is what makes the stripes so lovely in this jumper with the gradual gradation of colour.

Now have I actually got any time to make it? Not really!

Friday, 4 November 2011

getting organised

My handbag has become a bit of a mess, with my essentials fighting to be found with everything else. I have been very generous, and purchased a few new items to sort my life out. First up is a new purse, as my old one (5 years hard service) is falling apart. I spent more than I normally would, but decided it's used daily and is something that I want to look nice. It's a Radley trifold purse, with plenty of room for everything.

The next item I bought was a card holder for all those reward cards that I have ruining my current purse. Nothing more frustrating when I don't have my reward card on me.

Next up were some zip bags from zpm to keep hold of my pens, hair brush and nail file and other female items that I don't want the world to know about!

I feel all smug now with my new found order!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

on the sewing table

It's been a long time since I've done any sewing, not because I don't want to, but time pressures have placed restrictions on me.

I've bought a few patterns lately, which I need to buy fabric for. And one by one, I hope to make them over the coming months.

Firstly from the wonderfully written and designed Colette Patterns the cinnamon nightdress. I had hoped to make a summer sundress in a light cotton fabric, but now summer has gone maybe it'll be a heavier weight slinky satin/silk?

And hot off the presses the new Jasmine top. This is probably what I will make first. I just need to decide on some suitable fabric. I love the two tone one she has on her website. But it also looks great in one fabric too.

I haven't really made my children any clothing (apart from a shirt from Heather Ross's Weekend Sewing). But Oliver & S get great reviews, so I have purchased the Sandbox Pants to make for my younger son. If I can, I'll adjust them to make some for my eldest, who is a very tall 8.5 year old.

Finally, I was inspired by watching Gertie's Sew Retro class to make this dress. It's a Laura Ashley dress for McCalls M6350. You cannot buy this pattern in the UK (outrage!) so I had to buy it on-line from an eBay seller.

As you can see, lots of variety. I think the boy's trousers and the blouse have the biggest chance of being made any time soon! We shall see.

What have you got on your sewing table?

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Happy Halloween

Hoping that everyone enjoyed Halloween (if they were embracing it) and escaped from it (if they weren't!).

These were our efforts in Pumpkin carving. Designed from l-r 7yr old niece, me, husband, 8yr old son, neighbour!

We saw plenty of amazing designs on our travels last night as well. Inspiration for next year.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Doorstop Pattern Update

I have drawn up a scale version of my doorstop tutorial, to clarify all the measurements. I hope it helps.

A big thank you to all the lovely comments that I have had from everyone who has used my pattern.

Claire xox

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Veg Everyday!

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has written a vegetarian cookbook!! We have been a fan of him since we first saw him on Tv (+10 years ago?) cooking a placenta. Don't ask!

Hugh has pulled together a brilliant vegetarian cookbook that uses easy to get ingriedients and easy to follow recipes. I'm not sure if he realisess that parmesan is not vegetarian, but apart from that it's vegelicious!

These stuffed peppers look fab They are definitely on my to cook list (when my oven is fixed!)

Yummy linguine pasta

Hugh has a few pasties, great for a more interesting lunch box. I also love his take on pot noodles, I'm going to give that a go too.

The book is broken down into the following chapters:

Comfort Food and Feasts

Hearty Salads

Raw Assemblies

Hefty Soups

Bready Things

Store-cupboard Suppers

Mezze and Tapas

Roast, Grill and BBQ

Side Dishes (including sweet asides)

Every recipe is photographed (which I'm a big fan of) and there's a lot of recipes to choose from.

I have already made 3 dishes, all of which were delicious. My favourite was the Pinto Bean Chilli, which could easily be doubled and then freeze 1/2 for another day. I also made the Chachouka which is a red pepper dish with an egg backed on top, very yummy and his pasta souffle which he suggested doing 2 ways (spinach or with courgettes) I made the courgette one which was also lovely.

Patatas Bravas - these look yummy. I'm definitely making them. Maybe for a nice big lunch with lots of things to choose from!

When my oven is mended I should be cooking more dishes. I still have my hob and the microwave! As you can see he has a chapter on raw assemblies if everything breaks down on me!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011


My youngest started school today. He's 4 (nearly 5) and he seems too
young. But he seemed to enjoy himself and came out full of chatter.

Monday, 12 September 2011

wool week freebies

The weather is slowly turning. Cold wet winds are trying to push out our warmer days and banish summer for another year. This change in temperature and climate makes me start thinking of blankets, crumpets, hot drinks, boots, scarves and hats!

So with great timing it's just been UK Wool Week (or Love Wool UK). It's time to get your needles or hooks out! I was in Leeds over the weekend, where there was an event on in the Corn Exchange sponsored by Rowan. On display were some lovely knitted & crochet goods and the lovely people from Rowan have put the patterns for free (yippee) on their website!

Ripple Patch Cushion

Moss Stitch Ripple Large Cushion

My main reason for being in Leeds was to see the Kaiser Chiefs at Kirkstall Abbey on Saturday afternoon/ evening. It was a really good gig, the band are from Leeds so it was a homecoming concert (and it kicked off their UK/ World tour).

I travelled by train, and I'm glad to say they were all on time and they all turned up!

Thursday, 28 July 2011

on holiday

(picture by Ken Ayres)

We are off on our holidays see you in a week or two!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

penpal request

My cheeky eldest son, aged 8, is looking for a penpal to email to over the school summer holidays and beyond. He has had a penpal from Mexico from school but that's now ended. He would like an email pal that is more regular (roughly weekly or so).

If you have a child of a similar age who would like to get in touch with a young Englishman with a love for nature, dinosaurs, rocks, fossils, bikes, sport, cakes and biscuits, music, films, books and just about anything else you can think of, then let me know.

He doesn't mind where you live (UK or beyond) and we can always use Google Translate if English isn't your first language!

He looks forward to hearing from anyone who is interested. Thanks. Claire

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Summer bike ride

Today we went for a bike ride on the South Downs, the UK's newest National Park. The weather was lovely, warm and sunny with just the gentlist of winds blowing.

My eldest son rode his own bike and the youngest relaxed on his dad's. (He even fell asleep at one point). There seemed to be more ups than downs. Or did the downs speed by and the ups drag on.

I never find the country side quiet, well not the South Downs way. It was choca-block with walkers, runners (there was a huge race on) and other cyclists.

We stopped for a picnic where the boys found ladybirds to be enchanted by. In fact the ladybirds were out in force today as everywhere we stopped we seemed to find some more.

It was great that we can all ride as a family. We had been debating whether to get a tag -along for our eldest but he could cope mostly by himself ( and we were out for just over 4 hours). We'll probably get one for our youngest.

I did manage to get stung all down both legs on nettles - it still hurts 6+ hours later. And I'm now very saddle sore as I'm so out of shape on a bike. But it was fun and well worth it!

I hope you had a good weekend too.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Thank-You Tote Pattern


I made this pattern last year for my son's teachers and sensationally failed to take any photos of my efforts. I got my act together this year!

Last year I used linen for my outer fabric, this year I used a cotton drill fabric. Any medium weight fabric should be good, especially if using a medium calico as a lining. This should give your bag the right amount of body and structure. He had 2 class teachers again so 2 bags have been assembled.

The pattern:
120cm x 65cm - Linen/ Cotton Drill/ Medium weight fabric - Bag Front
100cm x 52cm - Calico/ Lining fabric - Bag Lining
5 x 13cm x 13cm coordinating Patchwork squares

Cutting List:

Front of bag:
13cm x 52cm piece of linen,
32cm x 52cm piece of linen
4 x charm pack squares and 1 piece of linen/cotton drill that is embroidered (we did a simple heart - see above photo). approx measurements 13cm x 13cm
30x30 coordinating cotton fabric for inner pocket

Back of bag:
50cm x 52cm piece of linen/ cotton drill

2x 50cm x 52cm calico/ cotton -
30cm x 30cm coordinating cotton - pocket
2x 13cm x 110cm linen/cotton drill/ patchworked squares

Sew all the patchwork pieces together (I centred the embroidered square).

Sew the 13cm x 52cm to bottom edge of patchwork strip

Sew 32cm x 52cm to top edge of patchwork strip. This is the front of the bag.

Sew front of bag to back of bag, right sides together around the 2 sides and bottom (use 2cm seam)

Make a bucket bottom by sewing a triangle across the bottom corners (about 8cm from the point). Trim point off.

Add slip pocket to lining, this is now the RS.

To make a slip pocket, hem the top of pocket by turning it over twice by 0.5cm and stitching down. Turn in the other three sides by 0.5cm and press down. Pin onto lining and sewdirectly over where you have turned the three sides over by 0.5cm.

Repeat sewing the lining together, RS together - pocket needs to be on inside(BUT LEAVE A 10CM GAP IN THE BOTTOM EDGE FOR TURNING)

Repeat making a bucket bottom in the lining

Attach lining to main bag. Put the bag (right side facing out) inside the lining. You will see the wrong side of the lining. The RS of lining will be touching the RS of the bag.

Line up seams, and pin round at the top. Sew together (2cm seam) at the top edge.

Turn the right way round, by pulling the outside of the bag through the lining. Sew up 10cm hole at the bottom of the lining with a zig zag stitch. Press entire bag, top stitch 0.5cm from top edge to keep lining in place.

Attach handles by sewing them firmly on (I sew a square with an X inside at the top of each strap to the fabric - see above photo )

handle options:-

  1. Tough woven ribbon.

  2. Main Linen fabric - 13cm x110cm - sew together with 1cm seam, turn out.

  3. Patchwork handles
Trim all threads, press and your bag is ready to go!

dressmaking notions

I have been watching the lessons for the Sew Retro Bombshell Dress on There are a few tools that Gretchen uses, that I think would come in handy. She gives US links, but I've tried to track some of these things down in UK/ Europe.

Bracelet Pin Cushion
I have found it impossible to find anyone selling this fancy pin cushion bracelet in the UK but you can get it in France (except the postage to the UK is ridiculous! I could almost swim to France from where I live !!! Crazy) It's by Bohin - called a bracelet (dore) pelote velours. Here are some links : shop 1 & shop 2. Can anyone explain why postage to the UK is sky high from France?

If anyone knows of a UK shop selling these, please share! I have to say I think I would feel very professional wearing this as I sewed!

Tailors Ham

This is not as glam as the pin cushion, but probably more useful! It's for ironing curved seams on. Costs around £10. Link 1 and Link 2.

Dress Form
This is the biggest layout for any keen dressmaker. But what a brilliant tool. Great selection from here. I would love one of these. Expect to pay £100 - £150.

Waxed Tracing Paper
Gertie gets it from here. Not sure where you get this from in the UK. Have you ever seen it for sale? Following a thread on a sewing forum, people like the Clover Chacopy tracing paper. Get it here for £3.31 + p+p. You will need a tracing wheel/ pen as well.

Do you have any must have dressmaking tools? Or any that are a waste of time?