Sapporo Coat

A quick post about my Sapporo coats! I really loved the pattern as soon as I saw it popping up on Instagram and bought it soon afterwards. It is an oversized cocoon shaped coat with slanted pockets by Papercut patterns and is available as a PDF or paper pattern. I made a ‘coatigan’ to begin with, using a diamond pattern textured wool fabric from my stash. I bought this fabric a couple of years ago on eBay, with the intention of making a coat but realised it was quite soft and prone to pilling which put me off using it. I almost didn’t finish making it but I was persuaded by the good people of Instagram! It worked really well as an unlined soft jacket . I overlocked all the seams which made it very quick, and hand stitched the hems for a neat finish.

I made the smallest size and reduced the length by about 2-3 inches but didn’t make any other major modifications. As predicted, it has bobbled quite a lot but is still wearable and I’m glad I finished it.

Next I was ready to tackle the real thing. I used a teal and black wool boucle from Fabworks. It has a subtle grid pattern and is thick and warm. I made the smallest size again, and modified the shell by reducing about an inch at the dropped shoulder seam and a similar amount from the whole sleeve seam and the side seam. I did not reduce the length this time.

I really liked the lining fabric pattern which is a pretty lilac and blue flower print on a black background from Stone Fabrics. Stone Fabrics is in Devon but they have an excellent mail order service where you can telephone your order through to the shop and pay for it by card.

I found inserting the lining a bit tricky, partly because I had modified the pattern and also because I had never bagged a lining before. I watched a couple of videos on YouTube which helped me to understand the process and it worked out eventually!

I wore it for our anniversary day out and it was really comfortable and warm. The fabric does tend to catch on things, it’s a bit like Velcro!

I really enjoyed making this coat and it has given me more confidence to try other coat and jacket patterns. I’d love to make a bright wool coat for next year and have spied some great patterns such as the Rumana coat by By Hand London and the Sew Over It Cocoon coat (available with Lisa Comfort magazine). Do you have any coat patterns you would recommend?

2017 in review

This year feels like it has been a turning point for me as I finally feel connected to a global community of makers and creative people through Instagram. I started the year with the aim of developing my sewing and photography skills and decided to do a Makelight course. I have posted about the course before, as it really helped me to understand what I needed to do to improve my lighting, composition, and focus on the colours and themes I find inspirational. Despite having lots of ideas I hadn’t been able to put them across in the way I wanted and wasn’t connected with a wider community, which was frustrating as I have been blogging for a long time now.

This is a review of most of the things I have made this year and some thoughts on what I’d like to achieve in the next year.

Sewing for Me

From top left: Jenna Jumpsuit, I am Cassiopee, Aime Comme Magellan, Kyoto Tee, Named Ninni culottes, I Am Cassiopee dress, Sapporo Coat, Named Kielo dress, Named Esme cardigan

From top left: Named Esme cardigan, Sapporo coat in black wool, Named Helmi shirtdress, Seamwork Almada robe, Kyoto Tee sweater in teal wool jersey and Sew Over It Lizzie skirt, Grainline Studio Driftless cardigan and Sew over it Ultimate Shift dress, Named Helmi shirt in mint cotton voile, Sewaholic fraser, Grainline Scout Tee

Grainline Studio Driftless With Hemlock tee, McCalls blouse, Grainline Farrow dress, Sew Over It Molly top, Colette Moneta dress, Named Imari dress, Sew Kate Sew dress, Grainline Studio Scout Tee, Anna Maria Horner painted portrait dress in Liberty print

What I learned: I got much more comfortable with sewing with jersey and heavier knits. I also used some lightweight fabrics like the silk sari I used for the Seamwork Almada, which was challenging to work with. I finally worked out that I need to do a narrow shoulder adjustment on most garments with a set in sleeve, and have had a go at doing them but need to practise more. I made trousers (not shown, the Tilly and the Buttons Marigold trousers and Hudson pants), and a coat (the Sapporo coat by Papercut patterns). Using Netprinter to print A0 patterns has been a gamechanger as I don’t enjoy sticking together PDFs.

Most worn: I wear my Driftless cardigan all the time as its a great layering piece. The fabric is a lightweight jersey which is warm but doesn’t take up much space. I also wear my I Am Cassiopee dresses constantly. Both my Esme cardigans have also been worn a lot this Winter.

Sewing plans for next year: I will be sewing with some favourite prints I have had stashed for a while, as well as trying some more trouser and coat patterns. I have bought the Jeans course from Closet Case Patterns so I need to have a go at those too. I’d like to make some bags and zip purses as well, and be more confident with setting zips and buttonholes. I am happy that I have managed to sew quite a lot of items that I wear regularly and will be making more basic cardigans and tops.

Fabric/pattern stash: I’d really really like to reduce my stash as it is ridiculous at the moment! I can easily make 30-40 items from fabric I love, so it doesn’t make sense to keep buying more at this stage. There are a couple of prints I would like but I am trying to hold out at least until my birthday… I have plenty of patterns too so am hoping not to buy more of those either.

I haven’t made as much for my daughter as I have done in previous years but I did make her some pretty dresses and clothes that have been worn regularly. Now she is at school there aren’t as many occasions to wear nice dresses! I will be making more for her and the other children this year. I’d like to make her a good wool coat for next winter.

A few other makes here, including some knitting and baking, as well as clothes for my boys. I didn’t knit as much as I’d have liked because I got stuck on the Find Your Fade shawl! Next year I’d like to make at least one sweater for me, and more accessories for the children.

I have really enjoyed styling homegrown flowers and telling stories through pictures on Instagram in the past year. I have grown flowers for a few years now but I enjoy planning and taking pictures and have missed not having any in the garden over the winter! This is one area in which I’d like to improve, as I’m not always satisfied with the quality of my pictures yet. I am considering learning Lightroom or some other editing software to help with this, but at the same time I’m aware that I don’t really have lots of time to spend on this at this time.

It’s also important for us as a family to do things together and I want to focus more of my time and energy on getting the basics right, like being organised, healthy and using my time well. I would like to use all the resources I already have rather than spending more time and money acquiring more in the next year, which is why I am intending to have a low spend year. It would be unrealistic for me to say I will spend nothing but I will try my best to consume less and be more mindful with my spending. I hope you all have a wonderful start to the new year!

 

I Am Cassiopee review 

I started writing this while waiting for the RAC man to do his thing fixing my punctured tyre this morning before work. I think it’s the first time in a few months I’ve had literally nothing to do! Luckily the RAC gave me priority as I needed to be in work quickly and it was all sorted within 45 minutes.

I bought the I Am Cassiopee pattern at the Great British Sewing Bee Live show in September, and thought it would be a great match for this viscose from Fabrics Galore. I really liked the I Am Patterns stall, as they had a file showing all the different patterns as well as made up samples to look at. I have my eye on the Artemis and Pan designs too.

You do need to trace off the paper pattern which I found a bit time consuming but not difficult. I did have to add a tiny pleat at the back of the neck to get the facing to fit so my tracing may not have been completely accurate!

The pattern is classed as a beginner level pattern, and has raglan sleeves which are easier to fit than set in sleeves, and no neck closures to worry about. The gathering could be tricky for a beginner but otherwise it is straightforward. The fit is very loose on the body with lots of ease.

The cuff detail on the sleeve gives a nice finish and is easy to do. You can see here that some of the dye has come out and there are white specks all over the fabric. I have also managed to pull the fabric at the front which has left a thin white line just below the gathered waist.  This is a bit disappointing but not very obvious due to the pattern. The fabric itself is a drapey viscose which has a bit of body to it so is ideal for the shape of the dress.

I find this dress really comfortable to wear and it feels very stylish due to the monochrome abstract design. The only thing I wish I had done is to add pockets as I have them in nearly all of my memade dresses now and can’t manage without them!

I think this is a great pattern for adventurous beginners or intermediate sewists who want an easy to wear dress that can be styled for winter with boots and tights and cosy layers. I am planning a colourful midi version next!

Growing Flowers for Cutting

I decided to share a round up of my garden flowers this year, as I’ve really enjoyed growing them and using them in flower arrangements. There are lots of pictures in this post!

This year I grew quite a wide selection of flowers as I wanted to use them as cut flowers for the house as well as fill up a large empty border in our new garden.

First up sweetpeas. I didn’t plant these early enough so ended up buying some plug plants from the garden centre. They did fairly well at first but then the support fell down in strong winds! I enjoyed them while they lasted.

I found lots of Nigella in the allotment and decided to plant some directly into the soil in the garden, as well as Cerinthe and California poppies. All the flowers came up to my surprise, as I haven’t had much success with direct sowing in the past.

The majority of the flowers were actually grown in module trays and planted outside after first frosts. The ammi visnaga was one of my favourite plants for foliage as well as the frosted explosion grass on the right.

This is cosmos ‘cupcakes’. I love the perfect bowl shape and frilly edge, so pretty. I couldn’t get these to last well in a vase but they are lovely in the garden. Any tips on keeping them alive once cut would be appreciated! 

I went overboard with the sunflower vanilla ice. They are about 8 ft tall and produced masses of flowers, and i think there are at least four plants! I got a little bit fed up of them after a while and will try another variety next year. I might plant one Vanilla Ice but not much more.

This vase is a combination of dahlias with annuals. I grew pink dahlias as well as red and darker colours, however the pink ones thrived and the others didn’t do as well!



I did manage to grow one pale dahlia, this stunning cafe au lait flower. It only produced three flowers though. 

These pink roses are from the front garden and are very pretty and delicate. I also have a David Austin rose I dug up from our last garden on moving day, which has really thrived.  The petals drop very quickly so they don’t do well once picked but they have a beautiful scent and are nice for styling. 


I love putting together little posies of different colours in assorted vases. They remind me of boiled sweets!

The cosmos are still going strong in the garden. The border itself is not as pretty as I’d like as the colours are quite distinct and separate, it looks a bit wild!

Next year I plan to grow fewer pink flowers (!) and more foliage plants. I’m also planning a tulip patch for spring time, just for cutting! Really looking forward to growing and styling my own tulips. I will also try some new varieties of dahlias too.

Rachel Top

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There’s been a bit of a blogging hiatus again! Ramadan was busy and then we had the usual end of term madness. You may have seen some of my makes over on Instagram but I will try and catch up here as I’ve made quite a few new things recently that I want to share.

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This is the Rachel top by See Kate Sew. I really liked the shape of the sleeves and the exposed zip at the back.

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Ruffled sleeves are a big trend this summer and they are everywhere at the moment! It was actually very easy to add the ruffle.

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I added a pink exposed zip which pops against the dark blue Art Gallery print fabric. This is a cotton voile from the Katarina Roccella collection.

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I wore it with some pink Biden Richmond trousers and an Inayah collection sleeveless crepe jacket. I also have quite a lot of aqua in my wardrobe so it coordinates well with other items. It is a little short for my preference and has a bit of a maternity look to it because of the gathers above the bust so I’m not sure I’ll make it again but I learned a lot doing this project and will use the skills again.

My Kitchen Garden

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Today I have a quick tour of my kitchen garden. One of the first things I did when we moved house is plan the garden. While house hunting, I didn’t even consider anything without a good sized garden so it was wonderful to finally find something within our budget with plenty of space for planting and growing, as well as for the children to play.

I ordered these raised beds from Quickcrop who provided an excellent service. My husband assembled them for me and I laid them straight on the lawn, with weed suppressing membranes for the path areas (tucked just under each raised bed edge to prevent weeds coming through). I then emptied the pea gravel on top and had the raised beds filled with compost (I think I bought a tonne bag and divided it between the four beds). It’s not perfect and we haven’t got round to finishing the edges, but I’m really pleased with the result.

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Lettuce Descartes from seed, bought from Sarah Raven. It’s such a pretty, soft lettuce.

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I also planted red iceberg which is working well as a cut and come again salad crop. Last year I bought a living salad from Lidl and planted them out individually, which produced lots of beautiful lettuces.

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This bed is for tomatoes and aubergine, and there is a swiss chard plant leftover from last autumn which is still producing leaves. The marigold (Calendula ‘Nova’) has self seeded everywhere after I planted it last year.

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In other beds we have herbs, cucumber, courgette, spring onions, carrots, radishes, dwarf beans and Swiss chard growing. I decided to plant the vegetables I might need to look after more closely and herbs I need while cooking at home, while the other veg has gone in at the allotment.

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An Unusual Penge Garden

|I have lived in London for over ten years now and have come across many a front garden, from the scruffy and unloved to those with beautiful tiled and box edged paths. This is a completely different type of garden.

This little garden in Penge is a feast for the eyes with its incredible array of exotic and succulent plants.

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The owner was kind enough to speak to me about his collection which he has curated from specialist shows and bought from nurseries and online shops.

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There are lots of amazing varieties I’ve never seen before, such as this beautiful flowering plant.

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This house is in a beautiful area of Penge. It’s a lovely area for a walk to end with a cup of tea and cake at Alexandra Nurseries.

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It was inspirational to see someone’s passion for their collection and that they were able to display it so beautifully in a small space.

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Have you come across any beautiful, unusual private gardens?

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