Friday, January 20, 2012

Meringue skirt, 1st Muslin

So after all the alterations and redrawings of my Colette meringue skirt pattern, I finally got a start on my first ever muslin. This was a very new experience. Doing domestic science (sewing and cooking) at school way back in the late 60's no one ever told any of us that you could actually alter a pattern or garment for a better fit. How to make bias binding they did in spades, but alterations were never mentioned aside from in the pattern there was often a line saying 'alteration line, make adjustments here' and only usually refered to lengthening or shortening.

So if alterations didnt exist you can bet your bottom dollar that we were never told to make a mock up muslin before starting.

Anyway, I spent a bit of time on ebay looking for some cheap fabric to make a wearable muslin, after all if you are going to all the trouble of fitting and adjusting, you might as well end up with something for all your hard work. Eager now to get started, and looking at all the muslins being posted for the Sew-along I hunted around in my stash and found a bit of red polycotton that in a previous life was probably a sheet or a table cloth. OK not a wearable muslin but enough to get me started.

And another first for me, I actually sewed along the seam allowance line instead of the 3/8 inch mark I usually sew along (worried about fit again).

I did have a few problems. I had read on another blog that it was important to mark the front and the back as they are slightly different. With my tailors chalk I marked a big F on the front piece. I sewed my seam, I pressed my skirt with my steam iron, I looked for the big chalked F. It had gone, washed away by the steam. And not knowing front from back did cause difficulties when it came to the waist band.

Talking of waist bands, I had followed the tutorial for adding one to the letter, so how come when I came to sew it onto my skirt it was too short? I still havent fathomed it out, my only thought is that when you extend the dart back onto the waistband the dart widens out as it is extended and instead it should be drawn straight up. This still isnt right as you need to cut and join the band on the angle in order to get the curve. In the end I moved the cut bit back to add back a bit and recut out the band. It seemed to work.

With bated breath I tried it on.

It was TOO BIG!!!!!!!!

I carefully measured myself again. I looked at the size chart. Then I looked at the finished garment size. I puzzled.

I have now concluded its not the size chart in the back of the book I should be going by, but the finished garment size because there is obviously a great deal of ease in these Colette patterns (that sounds good but I have no idea what it means) and by cutting out a size 18 and NOT altering it, it might just be the correct size.

Oh and I havent altered the length as that seems to be ok.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Project Life - take 2

I was gaily going along with my Project Life page but I wasnt very happy with my journalling cards. I had collected together a variety of bits that would work from all the digi stuff on my hard drive and going free on line but when I put them into photoshop and tried to match colours it just wasnt working for me.

I had intended using the K&Co 6x6 pads and then print out cards to go with the papers but I wasnt really happy with the results. I then remembered I had been saving some Websters Pages (6x6 and 12x12) for that extra special LO (as you do).

I am much happier with the end result, and when I looked in my diary I found I did have enough photos to cover all of week 1 (I thought I would have to do a whole month for each double LO but its not worked out like that, and I may be able to even do a title page for each month.

Mind this page has still taken me ages, but hopefully now I know what I want to achieve it will get faster as time goes by.

In other news:
I sent an email to another agency in the hope of being signed up and getting a bit of work

Martin ordered his new car on Tuesday. He has one of those deals where you pay off the finance for 3 years at the end of which you decide to pay off the rest in a lump sum, give the car back or carry on paying the same monthly amount and have a new car. He decided to upgrade to a 5 door pergeot in red to replace his 3 door blue model but nothing else has changed in the three years he has had his.

Friday, January 13, 2012


I've never done a sew-a-long before, but in a determined effort to lean better sewing and fitting I am going to attempt all the five patterns in the Colette sewing handbook. I had altered my pattern and went out to buy material.

I had intended buying some cheap stuff to make a 'wearable' muslin (I think most of the stuff I have ever made myself have been wearable muslins really lol) but the only fabric I found that was even half suitable, they didnt have enough on the roll to complete the project. In the end I managed to get some beautiful chocolate coloured cordroy fabric with embroidery and hand sewn sequins on it. So now I have to make sure I get the fit right from an old sheet.

Anyway while waiting for the fabric to arrive I discovered that Sarah over on Rhinestones and Telephones is arranging a sew-a-long for all the items from the book, in order!

Today she posts about measuring and altering the pattern pieces and on a second check already I discover I may have been too heavy handed in my waist alteration, and also that I do need to do the hip alteration. I was also wondering about the length alteration but she has covered that too, so I will be back playing with my pattern bits before cutting out my muslin.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Project Life - my way. Work in progress

I am steaming on with my plan to do Project Life without actually buying in any new resouces. I guess what I am realling doing is a sort of Project 12 with a PL twist.

I was led to the blog of one of the PL designers, one of the ideas she discussed was how she compoimented her PL kit by using 6x6 pads of co-ordinating papers as backgrounds. Wow, what a brilliant idea, because the previous evening I had played in photoshop to try and make all the digi elements I had collected together from various places into one cohesive kit with a single colour pallette. It hadnt really happened to me. I had two K and Co very old pads lurking in my stash, and strangely many of the sheets from Brenda Walter Juliana pad and Tim Coffey Poppy pad do actually work together rather well.

I am using a sheet of 12x12 core'dinations Great White CS to stick my individual elements onto because this allows me to use up the odd selection of 12x12 page protectors I already have and also gives me a bit more freedom and selection over placement within the page.

Luckily enough being a visual learner, I dont have to worry too much about keeping notes, as the photo usually is enough to bring back enough to journal about, plus I am back to keeping up my blog again. I think if I enjoy the January pages and think the system will work for me, I will print out a stash of journalling cards and cut up the pad to make filler cards but I want to see what the finished article is like before I do that, so at the moment progress is slow, but much quicker than a heap of LO's would be.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Mum's birthday

Yesterday was my mum's birthday. A present for once was easy as she had decided money would be in order so that she could buy some new clothes.

We had intended to all go over to her's in the afternoon carrying our gifts and Laura was to order some fancy cupcakes for the occasion as a surprise added treat. She got another surprise though when Kelly and Ollie invited them up to Croydon for lunch, so we had to tell her of our plan and they then agreed to go to Laura's on their way back from Kelly and Ollie's instead.

I made this card for her, a scraplift from one of Bev's LOTV cards but using one of my own stamps. I was rather pleased with how well it turned out.

As it turned out although the cakes looked amazing, they were actually quite naff, Wayne and I couldnt eat ours at all, so next time we are getting Kelly to make them for us!!

In the evening I had been invited along to the leaving do of one of the girls who works for Martin. It was only to Weatherspoons but for once the food was really nice, so I got a steak supper and some pleasant company for a couple of hours. The only down side was that yet again the stupid Sky plus box refused to record for me, and I missed episode 2 of Sherlock. I dont watch much telly so when it does this is it really annoying as the programs I do want to watch are carefully selected. So this morning Martin gave Sky a bit of a rocket.

Sky is being a right pain at the moment, there is a BT Open line being picked up by my software, which is not not secure and even though I have blocked it, every time whoever is using it logs on, it cuts across my broadband width and kills my connection. I have to constantly repair my IP addy just to keep connected and it is driving me potty!!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Christmas dress

Since I mentioned the dress I made for Christmas day in my post yesterday I thought I would put a photo of it on my blog.

I learnt to sew at school, my first sewing machine lesson when I was 7 - they dont do that any more which is a shame because I did actually learn a fair bit, even if I was nearly a whole term cutting out and redoing hand made bias binding! I used to make all the girlies clothes when they were small but have not made anything worthwhile since the '80's.

I discovered
Casey's blog about a year ago, envied the way she looked and her wonderful sewing talent. From there I found the Colettiere blog, and lurked quite a while but never managed to get hold of any of the patterns. In fact I found I was actually more in tune with the patterns on Wearing History (look at the wonderful details on some of those clothes!) but want to hone my skills before paying out so much for the patterns.

I ordered my Colette sewing book in November but it took ages to come, and I had been admiring the Danielle dress on Burdastyle for quite some time.

I had bought some red crushed velvet from Hobbycraft way back when I first saw it but finally thought I would have a go for Christmas.

The Burdastyle pattern was a free download but only went up to a size 16 so I had to hunt the web to find out how to grade the pattern for a larger size. My only mistake was that I didnt bother with the most important step, measuring myself, taking the assumption that since I had been trying on dresses in the shops at size 20 then that must be the size I was.
In actual fact I think that I must be nearer a Burda style size 18 once the full bust adjustment has been made (this is the reason I have to buy larger sizes off the peg, as shop made dresses do not take into account thos larger busted ladies with narrow shoulders and small(er) bodies and the reason I want/need to start making my own clothes. I did manage to get the fba spot on though even if the rest of the dress is obviously too big, despite me taking in a full 2 inches on the side seams after the final fitting.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Meringue skirt

With my birthday money I purchased a copy of The Colette sewing handbook. My intention is to get good at the basics including altering and fitting and then start buying a few 1940's/50's vintage dress patterns as the styles are far better suited to my body shape than todays fashions.

I have had a go at grading up two patterns I already had and had a small degree of success (my Christmas dress I graded up too big, and the other dress I have made needs me to sort out how to grade the bottom half to match the top when the measurements of my body dont match the pattern top and bottom. But at least I have started the learning curve.

The first pattern in the book is the meringue skirt. The patterns in the book go up to size 18 which measure 2 inches too small on the waist for me and 4 inches too wide on the hips, so while I am still searching for a suitable fabric I thought this afternoon I would have a bash at altering the pattern peices.

It turns out to be quite a monumental task. With the help of the book it would seem I have to

  • cut out and trace the pattern so that I can preserve the original pattern pieces that come with the book
  • use the slash and pivot method of altering to make the waist bigger (I have decided to leave the hips for now as it is an A line skirt and should take the difference, no idea if this is right but for now ...)
  • slash and lenghten pattern as I dont like just above knee length and want it a bit longer.
  • change the waist from a simple facing to a waist band which is a whole lot more of altering and redrawing a la tutorial on Colettes blog.
  • redraw the whole pattern out again as by now its probably going to have more cellotape than paper holding it all together

And thats before I even get near to a bit of fabric. Phew!

Its a steep learning curve and very labour intensive but hopefully worth the effort when I finally get a wardrobe full of clothes that I actually like and which fit.

366 - no go

I'm still having no luck with Photo 366, I am beginning to think I must either have a total lack of imagination or perhaps its because I really dont want to be recording stuff that really has no meaning or connection for me.

The next prompts have been

Day 4 Pretty. I probably could have come up with something for this one except I didnt remember to check the prompt until the following day.

Day 5 excitement, well the most exciting thing that happened all day was the christmas tree which I had put outside ready for collection next week, blowing down the road in the gale. I had to go collect it, but it was certainly too cold and windy to stop to take a photo

Day 6 Frost. Well our temps on the SE coast didnt get below 3 degrees last night and with the sea wind speeds there was no hope of any frost. Some people baked cup cakes and took photos of the frosting but we are still wading through the Christmas cake and diets start next week. Someone did take a photo of their fridge freezer .. but I dont really want a photo of ours.

However I do have better hopes for Snap 2012, another photography challenge on UKScrappers. It is going to have weekly themes, this weeks being cold, so I have started with a photo of myself wearing my new Fedora ready to go out and brave the winter clime.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Project Life - my way

This year the trend in scrapping seems to be towards Becky Higgin's Project Life. It seems everywhere you look people are getting ready to do some quick scrapping using journalling cards and background papers, cut to 6x4 sizes and then with the addition of photos, all put together like jigsaws, in 12x12 page protectors that have been divided up into 6x4 pockets.

Now I was a bit curious and went over to Becky's site to read the blog and watch the video's all about it. I really wasnt impressed and couldnt see the point in it all. It didnt seem to be much up from sticking your photos into a slip album and adding a couple of lines underneat to say when it they were taken and who of. I guess that since my family and friends rarely look at my scrapbook albums (and I have over 20 very full to bursting 12x12 albums plus some mini books) that the whole point of the game for me is not so much the telling of the stories, although the stories are there if anyone should care to look, but the actual pleasure I get from planning, cutting, sticking and seeing a page come together. I couldnt see that I would get anything out of doign Project Life.

Somehow though the hype catches you up. All over UKScrappers people are posting about where to get the kits, which page protectors to get, who did it last year and lots of other enthusiastic stuff. So I took another look, and I was rather taken by the pages done by Laura. I found myself looking online for divided page protectors, but with everyone else and their wife already ahead of me it wasnt an easy task.

Could I use the stack of 12x12 pp's and my sewing machine to make some divided pockets? I dont sew very well in a straight line at the best of times and on slippery plastic? The conclusion was!

Then I had a brainwave!!

Why use divided page protectors at all? Why not just use the pp's as they were and simply divide the page itself up?


It was a simple task with a pencil, a ruler and a set square to drawer 6 6x4 inch rectangles onto a sheet of white 12x12 card stock.

I especially liked the layouts Laura has done that when joined together they made up into a bigger layout, now it would be simple to do that because I was really working on a 12x12 anyway.

The next thing I did was to go through all the zillions of digi kits on my hard drive. Choosing one was really hard but I finally settled on Wild Sorbet by Micelle Coleman, alongside some wonderful Karma cards I also found on her blog My Second Mile, and coupled with some Jessica Sprague journal blocks that I had got free from one of her classes, I soon printed out my first few home made Project cards.

So now all I want is a few photos (still not managed to get enthusiastic about the Project 366 yet). Watch this space and lets see it it works!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012


Once more UKscrappers are running their 365/6 photograph challenge, an attempt to get us all using our cameras more. Each day a prompt goes up on the blog site and we all have a go at interpreting it with an every day occurance photo.

I got bored with it last year but as I hadnt been using my camera much in the last 3 months - or blogging either, and want to get back to doing both, I thought I would give it another shot. So here we are, day 3 and already I have failed miserably!!

Day 1 prompt word was CELEBRATE with the question 'How are you celebrating New Year. The web site was abound with photos of champagne and fluted glasses, streamers, fireworks. I was totally stumped though because we simply didnt celebrate. For 2 reasons, firstly in the last three years any effort we have made has just fallen flat (last year's golf club event) but more importantly because Morrisons do not recognise bank holidays and because Martin had lost his banked day, he was in the middle of working a 7 day straight. By ten I was in bed reading and he was on the settee snoring, and on New Years Day he was back in the garage by 8.30 and I was playing home alone. Not only that I had some sort of virus that had left me feeling totally exhausted for 5 days. Urgo? No day 1 photo

Day 2 was the word NEW, interpret how you wish. Mmm, well I had had some new toys for Christmas and they were all lovely and what I wanted but nothing really stood out apart from my new PC game that refused to install on my laptop because of incompatible graphic card issues. The other things had been books and tools for scrapping and sewing, great pressies but nothing I really wanted to take a photo of. So Day 2, no photo.

On to Day 3, today. Today the prompt is UGLY - just when I was starting to feel more positive and ready to start the new year properly. I simply refuse to even think about ugly in my present mood. Hence Day 3... no photo!!!

Today I am under instructions from Wayne to take Laura out and make her spend some money on new clothes and boots. Its blowing a hoolie and the rain is lashing down and we have to wait for the Sky engineers but if I can get her as far as one shop I will ... watch this space!!!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Clearing the decks of news for new year's blogging

Well the year has got off to the start I expected, early night last night as Martin had to get up for work today, broken by a 3 oclock Happy New Year text from one of my daughters which I am positive she sent well before midnight but which took 3 hours to get to me. Martin was gone by the time I woke up so now I am home alone until tea time.

I thought it would be a good chance to put down as much as I can remember about December since I seem to have got out of the habit of blogging. And since I cant remember when I did what it will probably be a bit of a disjointed post but hopefully it will let me get a heas start on properly blogging again in January.


I had an interview in a school in Ashford that wanted 1:1 KS2 teachers for 2 days a week and for 2 hours a day for £25 an hour. However yet again that I didnt have enough experience in KS2 SEN. In fact the only reason they interviewed me was because I had mentioned that the girls were dyslexic and assumed I would have experience there.

So with no work, it has left me with plenty of time to spend with Laura and little Finley, and for us to try and hunt out some Christmas spirit.



At the start of the month we took mum to Canterbury Catherdral to join in Chaucer school's christmas concert, something Wayne and I have been doing for the last 4 years but in the past it has been to see Laura singing in the choir. This year Laura got to join in from the audience rather than the back of the Cathedral and we all got to sing together. It was shorter than normal and there were less people performing (most of the staff being out on maternity leave) but we still enjoyed it and despite the windy cold weather, walked back to the car with warm fuzzy christmassy feelings.

After that though it became a bit harder to find 'Christmas'. We visited several shopping centres but it did seem as if no one could be bothered with the tinsel and christmas songs this year. In most of the towns we were hard pushed to even tell it was December at all with the lack of effort the shops had put into displaying and most of our local high streets had only put half their lights and trees up. Undeterred we kept trying though.


Laura and I left Finley with Wayne and went to the Christmas Dicken's Festival, going on a Saturday instead of a Sunday this time round. We got confused by the signs and ended up at Rochester airport park and ride which was a bit scary as we ddnt know our way around from there. I am glad we did though because its a long time since I have seen the festival so well attended.

For some stupid reason the council had decided we must all walk on the left. Whoever came up with such an unworkable idea needed to be shot. We were totally gridlocked in the middle of the highstreet because you were not allowed to swing out to the right to get around the market stalls and there were so many people attempting to cross the crowds to get to the correct side of the street that in the end no one could move. On previous years we all managed to dodge and weave our way through, there was a great sense of camaradie as we all tried to avoid each other, but this year all that happened was that stuards raised everyones tempers and we all stood in frozen lines, moaning about the absurdity of it all. In the end Laura and I got pretty good at nipping down side streets but it did mean me missed many of the little shops and boutiques that make the day.,

We did get to see and hear the bell ringers though and really enjoyed the show as we sipped our mulled cider and spiced wine.

We finally managed to fight our way though the crowds to get to the German Christmas Market held in the grounds of the Castle - even here the council had interfered and made it one way in, one way out. The problem was the way out was down three sets of very steep steps, meaning parents with buggies, prams and pushchairs all had to carry them down, causing more conjestion. People had to queue back into the stalls just to get to the stairs. There was total chaos and no hope of actually seeing what was on the stalls. I felt sorry for Laura as it was her first time and it really was nothing like it had been like in previous years, all atmosphere lost and too crowded to actually see anything or join in.

She did seem to enjoy herself though, and the parade was good. I managed to fall over a wall in the dark as we all made our way to the Catherdral grounds to sing carols,
and we did have to leave a bit early to avoid the crowds, not that it helped as we managed to get lost in the back streets in the dark and then had to wait ages for the bus for the P&R to get through the traffiarc.

I did have fun though and hope Laura will go again next year.


Still seeking some christmas spirit, Laura decided we needed a trip to Bluewater to see their christmas display. In other years this has been absolutely magical, with all the lake lit up, huge reindeer all over the place and an ice-ring, winter wonderland and german market outside the main building. Yet again we were sorely disappointed, as they had moved the display into their new arena which takes up about a quarter of the space of the outside area. The theme was Christmas in New York and basically consisited of the ice-ring, a few christmas trees with fake snow at their bases, and a few stands charging exorbatant fees (£2 for one slide down the very small snow slide?????). No atmosphere, no christmas music, no german market or magical decorations. To make matters worse it was on the top floor and the lift was out of order. We walked to the next lift and walked back but we did see people with buggies attempting the stairs in a very dangerous mannor. As well as this let down, Bluewaters itself was not really decorated at all, I know there are regulations in just how much they can do because of fire risks but in the past there had been swags and garlands over the railings and stairs, but not this year. We left very disheartened.


We did finally find some Christmas spirit, we had been looking online at all the local churches to find a Christingle Service we could take Finley to, but they were either all late Christmas eve (the family were all going to Laura's for the evening) or simply weren't happening this year, but All Saints where I had got married, were holding Carol's around the Yew Tree on the Wednesday before Christmas. Laura and I went along and it was totally wonderful. At first I thought it was going to just be a few of us, but I glanced around when we started and was amazed to see people stretching right back from the church to the lych gate. We sang about 16 carols accompanied by Whitstable Brass Band, and then went into the new church hall for mince pies and mulled wine. We both really enjoyed it. I saw a couple of my old parents and one even recognised me and said hello back.