It’s been a while but I’m back

I know I know, it’s been awhile since I’ve put anything and in the mean time quite a lot has happened. I got married (yes I know!), I had birthdays, other weddings, visitors from Australia, finishing quilts, making clothes, the shop is slowly starting to take off and there is a quite a few changes going on at my other job, no more taking it easy.

But I have written a whole heap of entries that I will pace out. Baking success, and failures, trying to to put together the cheapest wedding possible and so on. But today I’m going to start easy with a quick dress I made up quickly for Rockette. I have lifted it from my shops website  (just so you know).

Hello Sushi!

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Since the release of Cotton + Steel’s 2016 Spring collection I have loved this Sushi’s antique’s from Sarah Watts From Porto with love range. I’ve been looking for a project to use this with, and my little one decided this week when she saw it that she and her Rapunzel doll both needed dress made out of it.

I’m was looking for a quick-ish sew and I found it while having a little mooch in my sewing books. Sewing Girls Style is by Japanese pattern maker Yoshiko Tsukiori. It was first time I had used the book but glad I had picked an easy pattern, which was excitingly titled Pattern W.

Coming mainly from using independent pattern makers work for a single pattern, this one was all a bit mad. Parts of the patterns were on different sheets and all of the patterns overlap each other in no particular order. Bit of chaos but once you get used to it , it was straight forward.

I traced the pattern using Swedish tracing paper, and it was only 3 pieces (joy!) , one for the whole dress and two bits for the interfacing on the neckline. The pattern called for linen, and that is great for Autumn/Winter as it would give the dress a more a-line shaped dress. The medium weight cotton of Sushi gives it a more flowy relaxed, less formal look. I wasn’t too sure if it was going to work without the stiffness but, I think it worked out great.

I finished it within an hour and a half, it was so easy and it looks so cute in the amazing cat fabric. There is a jacket that goes with this but it seemed a bit too time consuming.

To make Rapunzel’s dress I just sketched out a basic sleeveless a-line dress on some tracing paper and cut out the fabric. Placing right sides together I sewed the shoulders and the sides together. I then zigzagged around the neckline and folded and sewed the hem at the bottom. I left the armholes because it was 5 pm and I couldn’t be bothered.

Once finished the dress was a bit wide so I tied some bias binding around the waist and tied it in a bow round the back. Done, I’m hoping Rapunzel liked it, it suited her.

You can see Sushi in our shop here , but we don’t carry the book,  hopefully your friendly local independent book seller can help.

I will be back again soon with some more entries!

the geranium in bloom

Well hello! Another rehash of the shop blog! As I nurse my painfully badly bruised knee back to health (thanks Canterbury city council for keeping your walk ways clear of packing tape) here is the one of only 2 May makes I managed this month

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Last week we got our first kids pattern in, yay! I find a lot of children’s dress patterns a bit frumpy, a bit ruffled and a bit over the top. The Geranium by Made By Rae patterns is none of that. it’s basically the Washi dress in kids version. (and without the elastic shirring!) You could have a matching set if you felt inclined. Beauty of this is you can use so many different fabric’s, I love patterns where you can use medium weight quilting cotton- it just opens up the scope of possibility.

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There is 2 different versions in this pattern, it can be made into either a dress or top with three different sleeves versions and three different neckline and the option to make it ruffled or pleated.

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I opted for faux capped sleeve. basic neckline and a ruffled skirt , mainly because I’ve done much gathering and never pleated before and the ruffled sleeves looked a bit beyond my easy, quick Saturday morning frame of mind- and pocket version.everything has to have pockets!

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I’ve made up the biggest size, which is a 5 but it is on the smaller size (I was making it for my skinny minnie) so may need to add extra to the top bodice if need be. I used a meter and a half of the Cats heads in blue by Wee Wander Gallery, the good thing about this fabric is the heads are small enough that I didn’t stress out too much about pattern matching. I can be lazy with stuff like that.

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The construction is straight forward, As usual I used the Swedish tracing paper to begin with (used on the GBSB didn’t you know) The rest was a breeze, unless you count when I read the pattern wrong and closed the wrong bit of the bodice – (then lost the seam ripper for a full 20 minutes- That made me loose it). Obviously I’m an impatient person and I only ever skim pattern instructions- always resulting in unpicking, (I NEVER learn).

backbodiceSo that was it. A nice make. It went out for a walk around London on Monday, and it didn’t fall apart which is always a bonus – and it has even been in the wash and come out in one piece on the other side- no fraying whatsoever, winning!

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Making the Bettine dress

Hello, it’s been awhile hasn’t it?

There’s been lots going on, but if you randomly ask me, whats been happening, I will probably say oh nothing much. I’m behind on all of the wedding prep..like way behind and I will say that I got a some new patterns into the store , a whole 6 of them and it took a massive, massive chunk out of my Sunday to add them all on, cross reference everything, do the social media thing pause for a ballet rehearsal (not mine lol! I would look pretty bloody bad in a tutu.) and that was all of Sunday. I think I underestimate how long it takes to do  EVERYTHING.

So this is a bit of a rehash from my shops blog but I know not the whole word reads that so I’ve added it here with a few extra bits. (I’m insinuating the whole world reads this…errr No, I’m fully aware it does not.)

Making the Bettine..this took me 5 weeks to finish..and I went up an arse size in between, why did it take so long?

Reason 1,  I made half of it and then my front room was full of junk and I couldn’t get to anything, finally Mr CM had a BBQ, panicked that people were going to walk through the house and finally cleaned it up. (I was on protest- it wasn’t my stuff clogging up the front room,and I wasn’t going to clean it all up…even if it did get on my tits. I’m sure he will strongly disagree with this and there will be some kind of mini disagreement. With a lot of annoying nasal sounding errrrr’s)

Reason 2 Biscuits.

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So here it is, I warn you there is some shameless linking and promotion in this.

Making the Bettine

It’s May and a lot of sewist are making loads of amazing things for May Makes, which is making me feel unproductive. So I took some action! We have some great budget chambray (£8 a meter!)  in our store and I debated between 3 different patterns to use it with, so I put the question to Instagram- because that’s what you do in 2016 right?

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So I put it out there and it came back that I should make the Bettine, which I was glad for as I wanted an easy fast sew (I say fast.. it took a month!) . The only problem I wish I could foresee was that I ate too many biscuits between cutting the pattern and making the pattern.

I traced all my pieces using Swedish Tracing paper, and this is why I do this, as I had to re trace the size again when I messed up the bottom half.

The bodice came together really easily and quite fast. What I really do want the more dress making I do is an over locker, my zig zag is ok, but it really needs overlocking.

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I did the pocket version , because for me a pocket is essential in all of my clothing. I like walking around looking cool and nonchalant with my hands in my pockets. The first version all came together well, and then I had to put the elastic in…but as you do, I left it, and came back to it a few weeks later

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So it’s a few weeks later, and I thought best to try on the pieces before I sewn it all together. The top was fine, but I wish I knew what happened (biscuits) to the bottom, because that was snug. As you can see on the picture above (the lines at the bottom are the give away). I didn’t want to make the whole front panel again so I just took the back off and made it a size bigger.This is apparently an old tailors secret, how they made garments slimmer- top idea.  It worked, it looks a bit hippy. If I make it again, I’ll make it less fish tail at the bottom .

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For some reason, every time I look at this picture I can hear the song Big Bottom by Spinal Tap.

I just realised how different my language is on my store blog as oppose to this one. We’ve know each other for awhile now- I feel I can be more relaxed.

It’s nice to wear, if only I had made it more roomier. I can’t wear leggings with this, it’s like that 5 mm or extra fabric underneath is just too much to ask (and that was after I made it larger!) Maybe I’m giving myself too much seam allowance? I just wanted to get it done in the end as with most of my makes. For example that Nerogri men’s shirt is almost finished shirt is still sitting in my basket a year later just because I put the placket sleeve in upside down and I really cant face it…so close , so far away. I tried this week after I finished the Bettine, I was like “YEAH , BRING IT, I CAN FACE ANYTHING!!” Then rockette woke up and came downstairs and I had to do breakfast and then Adventure Time was on and I said, I’ll do it tomorrow…..which I did not.

I’ve started on a kids dress which shouldn’t take that long. Who mentioned unfinished quilts? No One? Good.

Great British Sewing Bee has started again, and Tuesday morning a colleague said to me (as with bake off..another person tho) You should be on that show, you would be great on it. Again let me explain why, purely because I would be the sweary, loose cannon ,wild card that would be screaming at the end of each challenge “shit shit ,Oh F^&&^£k this who’s got a GLUE GUN ? STAT!!” I panic even watching that show, it would only go bad if I went on it..plus I don’t really have the skills…the ballroom dress skills..If I did I’d be making my own wedding dress. (I’m not having a ballroom gown though).

You can get the Bettine dress pattern, the fabric and all the other bits from my shop The Crafty Mastermind, but hey- you already knew that!

Enough of this gas bagging. TTFN.

BTW- Lack of Eurovision comment this year. I still can’t talk about it, it’s too painful, and too infuriating.

 

 

Glitter joy.

glitter jarsWell what brought this about? Well I’m (finally) getting married this August, yes this August..that’s not far away in planning terms. As a song once went”money too tight to mention” and this has lead us too the D-I-Y weeding of the century. I’m no stranger to doing parties on the cheap..looks like pintrest, came from e-bay kind of thing. But this is hardcore, multiplied by a thousand.

Were going for bright laid back BBQ so I have confetti punches and round punches and glitter all over the house. So I started making the centrepieces. I have seen jars very similar to these in my local fancy department store selling for about £4.50 each.  But I thought I’ll give it a crack see how it goes. Was pleasantly surprised. Even though my kitchen has suffered.

This is a good thing to do with kids too , Rockette made some mess but on the whole did a good job after I touched it up.

All you need is old jars, PVA glue and some glitter. (look for big tubes at discount stores like b&m bargains for  £1.69 and e-bay etc as you do use a lot of it. I know paper chase have nice colours but your going to push doing even 1 jar with their little tubes.
DSC_0153First just squiggle the glue round the jar. If you wanted to do a half covered jar, you could always cover the point with masking tape for an extra neat finish (I was lazy)

Then get a paint brush, or like me a cheap plastic kids knife and distribute the glue evenly around the jar. One important point here. If you are doing a half jar, make sure you don’t have any glue on your fingers when holding the jar from the inside. Its very difficult, nigh impossible to remove later on.

 

 

On the first go we laid the glitter on the plate and rolled the glue in it. This didn’t give proper coverage. Its better to shake the glitter over it and let the excess catch in a plate underneath.

 

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Let it dry. Let it dry then put on another coat of pva glue…thats it..looking good.

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Just make sure it’s evenly distributed, sometimes dabbing works better.

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Not sure how robust they will be, but they have been sitting on the microwave for a couple of days with no probs.

Like I mentioned earlier, my kitchen suffered. Put down some sort of newspaper or cover. I can’t vacuum or mop it off the floor either . Im not complaining too much about it, it looks a bit magical.

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In the shop the big news is that I’m taking pre orders for Tula Pink Hardware! This is a first for the UK  (I know can you believe it?) If you wanted some awesome sewing gear just head on over to the shop! www.thecraftymastermind.co.uk

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Things that still make me homesick

I’ve lived away from home for so long my homesickness for Melbourne is fewer and further in between, but sometimes It flares up. Normally this will happen In January and its cold, wet and miserable in England and I yearn for the big blue skies and northerly winds that burn your face off.

Other times , when things feel a bit complicated and I want to go back to a time when I was a lot more baggage free. This is when I get homesick.  And then sometimes, like today I was listening to an old album by The Ice Cream Hands while avoiding all other jobs that needed doing, whilst claiming putting together a play list is “an important job”.

Music is a funny thing preying on emotions and bringing up feelings, such as home-sickness, or to pin point a particular time. The thing is, if someone said what does it feel like? I couldn’t answer it. More like if you get the chills or pins and needles, but in a good way.

It reminds me of the time when I was a wide-eyed kid and had to Interview someone for a school project and in some weird way it came about that I could interview Chuck Jenkins who would go on to be in the Ice cream hands, but at the time was in a sadly ignored band called the Mad Turks (this could have had something to do with the shit front cover).

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Champagne glasses are a nice touch.

I asked him a few dumb questions because I was only 15 and he answered them in a very dickish way like a snarl wrapped up in a leather jacket. I went away with his record,and a signed poster. The record I didn’t play until I was 20 and loved it & the poster I gave to a second-hand record store. I don’t blame him for being a dick, he was 25 and probably thought he  deserved more than sitting in a 80’s designed office and have to tolerate a kid who hasn’t heard his music. Poor snarling man, I love his work now, no damage done.

All this from one video.

 

I’m not sure how this blog ended up finishing like this today, It was supposed to go another way,  but there you go.

 

 

Easter sewing joy.

As it’s Easter I wanted make something using some of the great bunny fabrics we stock, although I couldn’t choose between Ghost bunnies or the Moon bunnies. What I did know was that I wanted to make the Brumby from skirt.

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It had a zip, so was hesitant (I’ll get onto to later). But I gunned for the ghost bunnies after asking on instagram. For the inside pocket detail I used some of my own stash, bright pink with birds was a good contrast even if you can barley see it.

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Used my  Swedish tracing paper again, loving that stuff! I then measured out just under a meter and a half (130cm to be exact) of the ghost bunnies for the medium size. It was so easy to whip up, I mean super easy. If it wasn’t for the zip, I would say this is perfect for a beginner. Unless that beginner wants to learn how to put in a zip.

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I’m always too excited when I make these kind of things, so as usual I didn’t pre-wash my fabric, but being med weight cotton it should be fine.  But the pattern matching in the middle I probably should have thought about more. But in a weird way I like the half rabbits, like they are synchronized.

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The instructions were straight forward, but perhaps made some of the steps sound a little more complicated then they actually were. The pockets were fun to make and easy.

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I also didn’t have any problems with the gathering as I had in the past. I was worried that the waist band was going to be to small but once I attached it, it was a bit big really. Although I think by the time I got to the waist band, I was doing what I always do and just ignore the rest of the instructions and make it up as I go. Because of this the inside waistband had a raw edge which I folded under but the stitch work is pretty wonky under there. Too wonky to take a photo.

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attaching band

Shall we talk about zips?  The instructions with the pattern seemed a little bit complex, and as it’s only my second time putting a zip in I went to my trusty Love at first stitch and followed Tilly Walnes tutorial.

OK I got cocky, I put up on instagram this…

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But I was only half way through, dick. I wasn’t concentrating when I put the 2nd part in it sewed it on the wrong side of the skirt. Being stupid I didn’t realise this had happened until I put the skirt on, so all the seams were done, the skirt was hemmed , it was finished. I did contemplate taking it apart to fix it but I just couldn’t be bothered. And besides who was really going to see it?

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What people could see was the other dickish thing I done  was not match up the top of the zip. What is with the stupid gap?? Again I could have fixed this but again it would mean a lot of unpicking for something that not many people would really see (stop looking at my arse).

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After all of that, I’m really happy with it. The interfacing I used was left over from another project and was too stiff for my liking, next time i’ll do it with a soft to medium weight one.

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But it sits well, I didn’t have any difficulty with the gathering or anything like that. It was a straight forward delightful pattern that I’ll make again. Maybe in the Moon bunnies or The Mustang pink arrows for Summer…just need to concentrate more!

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Im now on etsy!

To Pay pal or not to Pay pal has been a touchy subject when I was building the shop. If I included it, it would have made the website less clean, clunky and difficult as there was no program to automatically include it. But it’s been annoying me that I couldn’t include it . So the easiest way around that was to open up a fabric only store on Etsy.

etsy store

etsy store

To make things uncomplicated for now I’m only shipping to the UK via this site, if you are of International ilk and would like to purchase stuff. Or if you would like to purchase patterns and habdash it will still need to be placed via the shop www.the craftymastermind.co.uk.

Yay well that’s now done!

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Kitty Lacy needs a utility belt.

It was world book day last week, Initially my lil rockette wanted to go to school dressed as Sleeping Beauty, which was a boring idea. So after a thought about what costume I could cobble together in a week I managed to convince her that maybe she could go as Kitty Lacey the hairdresser in the Fairytale Hairdresser series. Im not a massive fan of these books in one sense mainly because of the formula. All of the princesses have a problem (wicked witch, not human, evil step mothers etc.), normally they haven’t met their prince but after a make over and a new hair do, they do and they normally get married. She is really very effective.

Of course all is well now they are married, which makes me question what message am I giving my child. Why would any of these princess’ want a career or anything like that? (This why I prefer the book Interstellar Cinderella which is much better, she just wants to be a mechanic and refuses the princes proposal preferring to be head mechanic, it is brilliant).It is targeted at 4-6 year olds so I suppose I’m not the right kind of audience.

Even so, I still thought this was a better character than Sleeping Beauty… I stated my case as such , lets rationalise-, Kitty Lacy is an independent business owner and an expert in her field, she’s a problem solver and has a creative eye, which is perhaps why you should consider going as her for WBD Instead of that lazy Sleeping Beauty ,Rockette agreeded. The real reason I suggested this was because the costume is made up of jeggings, a t-shirt a blazer and a pair of boots. She has pink & purple hair which I sorted with pink & purple hairspray (she was thrilled with that!) So it took little effort.

Until I thought that she would need some sort of hairdresser utility belt to hold all of her tools in.

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There was little on tutorials online for a hairdresser belt, so I made it up as I went along…

(Sorry about the bad photos it was late at night, the light isn’t great in my front room)

I cut two rectangles of contrasting fabric for the front and the back of the main pocket piece and then put some wadding in the middle. For this I just guessed the size on my child and then held it up against her to make sure it wasn’t too big or small.Lazy I know, but it’s not rocket science. I put that bit to one side.

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I then did the same with the front pocket, I cut a piece the same size as the first pocket, then folded it in half.  I sandwiched the two pieces with wadding and the sewed the lines to make the pockets. Again I just looked at what needed to go into the belt and made the pocket sizes accordingly. I finished the top part of the pocket with bias binding.

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Once this is done, I put the front pocket on top of the back and clipped bias binding all around it, except for the top and top stitched the binding to sew it all together. If you wanted to add an elastic loop to add some hair straighteners then do that at this stage. Fold the elastic in half and put it flat against the binding on the back.

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To finish sew the bias binding to the top making sure you leave enough either end so it can be comfortably tied up.

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It came back in one piece but the hairdryer was too big and that ended up in her school bag.  It only took about an hour, piece of cake.

Is it to early for Eurovision chat?

On a different subject entirely, the UK entry has been selected for Eurovision and for once the public have voted for the best song. I liked this song by a long shot, fingers crossed the UK do better this year….but better than Australia? Doubt it, and I’ve just seen Russia’s entry and well..it’s really very good and so is France’s. It’s only 2 months away and I’m already listening to my best of Eurovision play list & planning the party I’ll bring back this year.

 

Simplest of chic tops

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It’s been so long since I blogged about anything! Social media is sucking all of my time up like an evil black hole. I’m still making my mums quilt..but there is a light at the end of that tunnel, but in between I wanted to whip up something fast that I was selling in the shop.

I picked probably the easiest thing to make and one of the tops I had on my list of things to do since I went to see Ride in October and wished I had made it to wear then.

I picked Grainline Studios studios Scout top which you can find here. It’s perfect for beginners or if you want to make something straight forward that wont make your brain explode.

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I traced the pattern using the Swedish Tracing Paper, it was the first time I used this properly and it was awesome!!! I fashioned it into a mock up to get the size about right. the beauty is that it’s soft enough to bend around all your curvy bits and you can stick pins in it (I’m sure you can sew it together too) It’s cheaper than using cheap fabric and it means I could re-use the pattern again, double bonus.

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Anyway I wanted to trail it up because A) I always accidentally make stuff too big for some unbeknownst reason and B) the fabric I was working with isn’t the cheapest of fabrics even by my own standards.

But my god what a beautiful fabric!!! It feels like silky luxury but it’s a rayon. It’s Cotton + Steel Zephyr Gust in black, lovin’ it. As I have never worked with rayon before I was nervous..literally crapping, but it was great! I even remembered to change to a smaller size needle so the holes wouldn’t be too big. There’s a point , don’t stick too many pins into this, it doesn’t like it.

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I used a meter and a half of this amazing fabric to make the top, but the with the way the pattern was laid out there was quite a bit left over running the width. (Im sure I can use it  to make a kids skirt or bits of a quilt). The whole pattern was in 3 easy parts, front back, sleeves and bias neckline. The instructions were straight forward and easy to follow, even inserting the sleeves was too easy. I haven’t done a lot of  curved binding so I was pretty flipping nervous…but it turned out awesome….amazingly.

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I’ve got to do some press shots this week, I think I’ll wear this as it’s now probably one of the coolest things I own.

Not to sound like a dirty cheap salesman but you can find everything to make this top in my amazing store The Crafty Mastermind. If you know anyone who would love to make this, or are starting out in dressmaking let them know! Alright sales pitch over.

The hacked skirt

 

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I feel like calling this a peasant skirt as I’m sure this is how my grandmother probably constructed skirts in the 50s cause they were too poor to buy stuff. But that wasn’t the origins for this creation. I ripped this off from my Cath Kidson skirt that I bought 2 years ago. Every time I wear these I always get compliments, even once during an interview.

It looked like a simple construction, two square pieces sewn together with pockets inserted then gather the top held together on top with a coloured elastic band. No problems. I had bought 2 different  kinds of Riley Blake fabrics at least two years ago, it has taken that long  for me to make this.

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Finally with steely determination and the confidence that I could do it in a few hours I embarked. I used a pattern from a chambray skirt I made, inserted the pockets and gathered it. It was looking goods albeit a bit massive, a bit size 16 which I thought would sort itself out once I put the elastic on.

 

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Thus began a painful two days of why the fuc£ is this happening?? The gathering was unravelling, and falling out and it was one of those things where I just made it a whole world worse by trying to sew over the top of it to secure it. That didn’t stop it from unravelling so, I SEWED IT OVER AGAIN. By this stage it was a massive mess of fraying, different size stitches. I should have stopped and thought about it. When I did sew the elastic on, the skirt it was so fluffy it made me look enormous, there was way too much fabric.

An hour of unpicking later I left it for 2 days to rethink the whole sorry affair. In the end I cut off about 20 cm from one side and re sew the pocket, but the elastic was evil, there was no stretch. I left it again.

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Finally decided that I would place the top of the fabric as far down to the bottom of the elastic as possible and stretch it a bit while I sewed it on, it seemed to work, Still putting over my head when I want to wear it. Im going to try it again with some french man fabric to see if I can make it a bit better.

 

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