Taking the Zinnia out for a spin

I’m on a bit of a roll, bit like buses I guess, nothing for months and then 3 at once. Hopefully my sister won’t read this entry until she get’s her present. If not- then I apologise already that I put your gift on various bits or ground and dirt all over Canterbury.

Again this is from the shops blog so a little bit promo esque. There is a few extra things I’ll say, I have difficulty reading pattern instructions at the best of time and this is down to my impatience generally. But I occasionally l have problem with the way a bit is written. This happened with the waist band for the Zinnia. I just went with my gut instinct because I couldn’t make heads or tails of the instructions.

I think sewing is quite instinctive- I follow a lot of patterns to a point but then go off on my own with the bit of knowledge that I have. For me it’s how I learn I suppose.  I think many sewist’s develop their own ways of sewing and that comes from learning from your mistakes. It’s like anything really.

Anyway off we go!


I must admit this wasn’t the first fabric choice that came to mind when I first decided that Colette Patterns Zinnia skirt was going to be my next project. That honour had gone to  beautiful Les Fleurs folk birds fabric in canvas. But then I was afraid  about cutting up such expensive fabric without at least test running it first. Second choice was Melody Millers Trinket Telephones in navy.


But this is where I ran into my first hurdle. The pattern layout was to be cut on the crossgrain and in the opposite direction of the print. Not being a seasoned sewist , I had an idea of how to solve the problem- but not having the confidence or ever working on the cross grain before- I was worried that if I had cut the fabric on the grainline that I would somehow mess with the structure of the skirt.

Luckily my Colette rep is awesome and very lovely and understanding to answer my novice questions, with the above photo attached. I was told that my gut instinct was correct and it will work. I was still too scared to cut into folk birds (they did suggest that if you do use the canvas / linen that I should put a lining in also. I’ve never put a lining in before- bit scary)

So it was my sisters birthday and I promised her a skirt. She liked the Les Fleurs Tapestry in black– so here was my chance to do a test run before I tried the linen.


So I laid out the pattern like in the picture and then had to Frankenstein sew the corners cut from the sides to the edge to get the full coverage. Due to the busy pattern you couldn’t really see where the joint was made thankfully.

Pleats went in easily, and the body of the skirt- including the brilliant pockets (using some of my table runner fabric again!) was finished really fast. But I started to look at the finished panels and thought – this is not going to get around my waist. I sized it up against the waist band and it came up too small (and I had cut the pattern a size up in parts). So out came 2 of the pleats from the two back panels and that remedied the problem.  Always check before you attach the waist band! Zip went in fine, thankfully…I don’t like zips.

We come to the waist band. I’m not really a follower of instructions. The waist band instructions need a bit of concentration. It was late- so instead I winged it. I folded down the seams  by about 1/4 of an inch (old quilting ways die hard) facing the wrong side of the fabric the attached it to the raw edge of the body of the skirt and top stitched it into place. It worked, it probably doesn’t look as good.



This does cause a small problem when you have to attach the button but it would have been fine, had my machine not given me so much grief….But although millimetres off, I’m ok with that.



I’ll be making the zinnia again, now I know it’s quirks and it knows mine. It’s an easy pattern- but may be worth doing a practice run first before you cut into your gorgeous rayon.



Sewing with the Ruby

So you have a meter of a lovely piece of lawn for example , but it could be anything really. And you want a super fast sew , that doesn’t require a lot of construction . Meet the Ruby from Made by Rae patterns!


I had some beautiful Cotton + Steel Cookie Dough in lawn that I have had sitting in my stash for a couple of years, but only a meter of it. I paired it up with some beautiful linen which was not only a great contrasting fabric, but also gave a great weight to the top of the bodice , letting the lawn flow nicely underneath it.

The pattern gives you the option of making either a dress or shortening it to a top. As I only had a meter, a top it was.

The pattern is great for beginners, it has very little detail on it and it’s printed on normal paper, not tissue paper making it easier to trace using Swedish tracing paper and then packing it away for the next time.


Construction of this is really straight forward. If you have made the Germanium for a little girl this is the same kind of pattern. Separate top bodice and then a gathered body all  sewn together. There are no zips or buttons either!

There are a few options to finish the raw edges around the neckline and armholes. I went partially lazy, bias binding finished with a sewing machine. I could have made proper bias binding to match the two different fabric., but I’m not the most patient of sewist’s . So although I didn’t make it exact, I did make my own bias binding- but I did not finish it neatly by hand..my hand sewing skills leave much to be desired.


Making bias binding is always easier than I remember. I always go into it dreading it a bit, but end up doing it all quite quickly (even without using my bias binding maker, which is missing somewhere!). The instructions ask that you cut a fat quarters worth, but I didn’t need that much and stopped half way and still had quite a bit of binding left over.

It’s a great little sew and I adore the feel of Cotton and Steel’s dress making fabric, it’s a dream to work with.  The one thing I will say is that when I make this next time, I won’t make the gathers as close together. I’m a busty lady, and the excessive gathers can give my chest a bit of a mountain’s look.

From Runner to Scout Tee Magic

Hello there.

Today is another post from the stores blog. The next one will be too. It would be nice to write one of my ranty blogs soon going on about something or other. But I’m finding less and less time to do anything like that. So Instead your getting a blog about how I transformed some table runners made out of dress making fabric back into a top.


It all started off as a table runner.

I should start, at the start. I bought some of Art Gallery’s fabric Morse Dot in Ash by Katarina Roccella with a view to make it into to table runners for my bright carnival style wedding. It arrived in store and it was beautiful! More softer and silkier than other fabric’s that are in the medium weight category (All of our Art Gallery cotton’s are like this, they are lighter making them ideal for dressmaking as well as quilting). We cut up four meters of it, cut it in half , hemmed them round the edges (all the day before the gathering) and laid them out. They looked pretty awesome.

After the wedding I started to unpack all the decorations.  Pondering on what I was going to do with 8 table runners It dawned on me- after holding them up against me- that I could probably turn at least 3 of these into a simple top. I had made a beautiful top out of the Scout Tee pattern before using rayon (you can read that here). I love that pattern, so I thought I would give it another whirl. I washed them and all the wine stains came out without even needing stain remover, bonus.


I first had to sew the runners together to get the correct width. I was worried that it could look odd having a big seam running down the centre, but I think it looks fine.

I love the ease of this pattern, I used 1.75 meters for the whole thing. You do have quite a bit of fabric left over on the sides. The nice thing about making it out of a medium weight cotton is that I can use it for any other projects. Mine normally go into scraps for quilting (I’m all about using scraps for quilting!)


It’s the kind of sew you could have done in a few solid hours there are only 5 pieces to it front, back , sleeves and the neck binding. I had to redo one of my sleeves because one side wasn’t as gathered as the other side- and that annoyed me. Also watch when sewing the binding on that it’s wide enough to cover the raw edges. On my first go on this top my bias binding was a bit thin and after about 6 washes the binding started to come away from the top (that may also have something to do with it being made out of rayon).

We still have some of the Morse Dot Ash still left in stock , as well as the Scout tee pattern if you fancied making your own (maybe without the middle seam).


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!

Sushi dress 1

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

geranium dress


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.


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.



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!

pockets detail

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.


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!



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.


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?


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.


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


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 .


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.




Simplest of chic tops


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.





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.



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.


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.





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



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.


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.



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.


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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this is the dress your looking for.


After the excitement of my shop launch, it’s all back to business on this blog. Im hardly writing at the moment and when I do it appears to be about Star Wars craft, it’s not going to end I’m afraid as I’ll probably put up some more stuff up later January. Its all Star Wars fever aglow here .

Ages ago I bought Rockette some Star Wars fabric with a view to make a dress for Christmas. I had the idea of a jersey top because all of her favourite dresses are jersey based with this medium weight cotton skirt. But as December approached I still didn’t have any jersey and not having actually sewn with it before, I was scared…. so I cheated.

1 Cheap plain black top from Next and half a meter of fabric later and it was pretty straight forward. I found quite a few tutorials on pintrest but all I did was use one of Rockettes dresses for the sizing and cut the top to the same size as the bodice




Then I used the full half meter length, cut it in half and then sewed the seams together using a french seam as I hate raw edge’s. I made a gathering stitch along the top.


This is where I stopped taking photos. It was 11pm and the light in my front room is bad for any kind of photography. I slipped the jersey top head down and joined the two together.

It lacked the shape I was after. I then sewed a thin elastic on top of the seam, which did improve things. But next time I make this I’ll try it with stay tape or bikini tape to make it more lightweight. Med weight cotton and the elastic together made it a bit more bulkier than I would have liked.


I would have liked a much more defined gather. I thought I had done enough to give it a good gather and make it “fluffy” but I think I lost a lot of it when I sewed the bodice to the skirt. Next time….


To finish I wanted a cute little pixie collar. All I did was draft the shape on some tracing paper, (including the seam allowance) cut out 4 pieces and 2 bits of interfacing . After sewing then together I left the end at the shoulders open, then tried to fold them neatly under & top stitched. I attached it with a running stitch to the top (running/ slip stitch on the back) . I tried to be lazy and do this with a machine but it turned out awful.


She was happy she wore it on boxing day and it held together (except the collar which needed resewing).

Thanks for everyone who had a look at my new online shop last week! it’s been great and have had some amazing feedback from some well respected pattern makers, it’s been thrilling. The highlight was the nod from Colette patterns. If you still haven’t had a sqizz come have a look !



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May the felt be with you.

wpid-20151104_135218.jpgI’m sorry I didn’t realise how long it had been between posts. Hopefully this will be only for a short time and in a few weeks we can get back to normal. While there is still a lot of planning going on at Crafty Mastermind towers I have forced myself to not to work 24/7 and take a few hours away to do something relaxing and requires little effort.

I still have my mum’s gift to finish (yeah it’s now October so almost 3 months overdue) and there had been progress. But then a friend of mine was getting rid of an unusual craft book called Star Wars craft from his collection, and as Rockette is such a fan I thought I’d give it a crack.

But in the end I just took inspiration from the book and from Pintrest.  I started with a Wampa. In the book this was meant to be made by face cloths. I do have a ton or Ikea wash cloths, but I am also partial to a bit of felt so I just made it up, yes his rough and his horns are sewn badly but his cute and angry and quite a lot of comedy.


Inspired I took to Pintrest for ideas. Rockette loves Chewbacca so I found something kinda similar and then just cut in to the felt. Yeah I had no template or anything I just reckied the whole thing. I’m impressed they all turned out the same size (after a few cutting errors). Especially as they were mostly done after 11pm.


Princess Leia is my favorite, after I attached that roll neck, she looks weird without it.


Ok and my Ewok, bless him isn’t perfect but his cute.



They were all made with normal felt and sewn with normal thread all with a dodgy blanket stitch. They really didn’t use up a lot of felt at all .Rockette did try to sew some stuck the stitches in the wrong place and then got bored, maybe when shes a bit older..(and I’m not so precious about how they need to look) .

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Now I’ve got the itch to make more, but time poor. I’ll get round to Yoda next.

While on Star wars stuff I was in Carnaby Street yesterday and went past my favorite shoe shop in the whole world. (even though I haven’t actually bought anything from there yet, I need an occasion) and saw an amazing window display.


Yeah R2 D2 heels! God knows how your supposed to walk in them. I wouldn’t except on carpet only. There were more delights inside…


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Oh I can’t afford the likes of them (£110 for ballet pumps!) but for sheer creativity they are boss.