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Well here I am, finally posting in 2012. I’ve spent the year feeling vaguely guilty for my blog silence but at least I have been doing a little sewing (including quite a lot of bunting…). However I have big plans for blogging in 2013! Happy New Year!?,

Vogue 7435


A couple of years ago a parcel arrived from a very, very dear American friend. Inside, wrapped in tissue paper and tied with a ribbon, was the most amazing smocked dress in green and violet that she had made for my 2 year old daughter. The pattern she had used was Vogue 7435.

It was without a doubt the nicest present anyone has ever given my daughter and it is difficult to describe the feeling of receiving something for your child that someone has spent such a lot of time and care making. And it was this dress that got me thinking that perhaps I too could sew things and started me off looking through sewing blogs and daring to pick up a needle and thread.

A few months ago I booked myself into a one day smocking course. I’ve always wanted to learn to smock but was daunted by how difficult it looked. Then a couple of days before the course should have take place, it was cancelled due to a lack of participants. I was so disappointed that I decided I’d teach myself. Luckily there are some good tutorials on the internet, and especially this one.

Then I looked around for a perfect dress pattern and realised that you can’t really beat Vogue 7435, so I bought it, turned it over and saw the words ‘ADVANCED/PLUS DIFFICILE’….. I have to admit that it was at this stage that the doubt set in. The pattern and I eyed each other up for about 6 weeks until I decided that it was time to stop being a wimp and give it a try.

I chose a very cute quilting cotton (Lakehouse Dry Goods Pretty Posies Robin) for the dress. It would have helped if I’d read the pattern correctly and bought enough. I started cutting out the pattern only to find that I need a whole lot more to accomodate the width of the skirt panels. I went back to the fabric shop only to find they’d sold out and then had a very stressful time until I found the only place in the world that seemed to still stock it (in America). At this point it was less than four weeks until the dress had to be ready for a christening we were going to.


However finally it all came together. I decided to assemble all the ‘easy’ (as in slightly less difficult) parts of the dress first and leave the smocked panel until last. The worst part of the whole process was gathering up millions (or so it seemed) of blue dots to gather the material for smocking. Very, very, very dull indeed. After that the smocking was really fun to do. So much so, that I’m now trying to think of how I can smock everything! It is extremely sastisfying work and surprisingly fast.

Vogue 7435

And, best of all, when I’d finished the dress and tried it on my daughter, she loved it because of course a smocked dress has a very full skirt, and a very full skirt has an awful lot of twirl…..


Did it


I still can’t quite believe that I pulled it off! I’ll be back soon with a more detailed post. In the meantime I’m just basking in the knowledge that I can stop worrying about the dress.

A quarter done


Finally my charm quilt is starting to take shape. I have this sizeable chunk of about 350 hexagons plus about fifteen strips of 20 hexagons each to sew together. I’ve calculated that I’ll need about 1400 (or possibly more!) to finish. I’d like the quilt to be about the size of a single duvet cover.

Although it’s pretty labour intensive, it is strangely compelling and enjoyable work. Of course I might not be sounding quite so positive at the 1000 hexagon mark…..

Getting there




Smocking without a smocking machine. 1700 little blue dots to string together. What was I thinking?

1700 dots



Tomorrow I’m going to start on the embroidery……

On the go

My inability to do one thing, finish it, and move on to the next thing also manifests itself in sewing. Today I am working on (sporadically)…..

the neckline of a shirt for my daughter


the layout of my first (tiny) quilt



an embroidery experiment that has been whizzing around inside my head for a good few months.

I will post proper pictures when I finally get them finished.

Out of hibernation

Well I thought that I could no longer justify my blog absence and that it was about time to once more dip my toe into the water and write something.

The main reason for my lack of posts has been a rather large house/country move which started in October last year and it is only now that I’m starting to feel settled enough and unpacked enough to get back into the swing of my blog. However I haven’t been totally lacking in creativity over the last few months and have done a little bit of sewing, and even started on the final run of hexagons that I’m going to need for my charm quilt!

In January I made my daughter a couple of Ice Cream Dresses from needlecord. I’ve never sewn with needlecord before and was worried about the heaviness but actually it was pretty easy to sew with. Due to the slightly heavier material I decided to make a slightly easier version of the dress by leaving out the notches from the neckline and pockets (actually I left out the pockets completely on one of the dresses – much to the disgust of my daughter!).

Initially I was going to make one dress. I found some bright pink cord and wanted something with a pattern for the band at the bottom of the dress. However it turned out that patterned pink cord was almost impossible to find. I eventually found a gorgeous patterned cord on Prints to Polka Dots which appeared to me to be pinker than it was. When it turned up I realised that I needed an eye test because the main colour is actually a lovely coral red with hints of teal and pink. So now I had a length of pink and a smaller length of patterned cord and needed to match both.

Luckily I love close to a really nice fabric/yarn shop and by chance in early January they received a shipment of patterned and plain needlecord and there I found a deep teal and a sweet sprigged pink flower printed cord.

The first dress I made was the teal one. This cord was actually verging on normal weight and was quite bulky to sew with which is why I baulked at the idea of pockets. To add to this, the much lighter weight patterned cord has a percentage of elastane and so had an annoying habit of changing shape as I sewed. However with a bit of effort I managed to make the dress and I am so pleased with how it has turned out.




The second dress should have been a lot easier as the two cords were pretty much the same weight, however I made a slight hash of the top stitching on the bodice of this one, especially on the back. Having said that, it has now been worn numerous times and machine washed (and tumble dried) and it is standing up well and the wiggly stitching is hardly noticeable at all.




This was the first time that I sewed dresses without pre-washing the fabric and I was slightly worried about that. I made both the dress in the size 5 pattern as my just 4 year old daughter is rather tall (and the size 4 Ice Cream dress I made in the summer is a bit of a snug fit for her). When I washed the pink dress it shrunk slightly but nothing too much. As yet I haven’t washed the other dress but I will probably be more careful about that due to the difference in fabric colours and weights.

I really enjoy making the Ice Cream Dress. It is a satisfying project which produces a lovely looking dress that my daughter is really happy to wear. I will definitely be making lots more. Actually I’ve got some needlecord already lined up to make dress number 3. Could that be classed as overkill?!


I’ve been wanting to try my hand at crocheting a doily for quite some time. If I’m honest, I’m not the kind of person that would decorate things with doilies or use them as mats. There are limited things to do with a doily, as far as I’m concerned. However, I have an unexplained weakness for doilies. A few months ago I came across this wedding dress and it awoke my urge to learn how to make doilies.

As sewing and large scale projects are not very easy at the moment, due to the mountains of packing cases and general confusion, I realised that this would be an ideal time to learn how to crochet a doily. I found this pattern on Ravelry and picked up a metal hook and some cotton thread and jumped right in, and I have to say that I just loved it! It was really relaxing crocheting – an ideal project for TV watching or chatting with friends, and what is more it is totally portable. I’ve got a long way to go before I’ll be making very neat doilies but it was a satisfying first attempt.


So now that I’ve found my doily inspiration I now need to come up with something that I can make the doilies into and that is when I thought back to wedding dress and the effect of the doilies over a bright colour…….. and so I’m now planning on making loads of dark blue doilies of different shapes and sizes to be attached together and made into a full skirt with bright (pink?!) underskirt for my daughter. I’m thinking it might look rather sweet.

Dropping by

I felt that I couldn’t let September completely go by without even a measily one paragraph post.

It’s been a very full-on month since my last post, involving an largish annual event I organise and then buying a new house and contemplating the nightmare of packing up my house and moving, so there has been little mental and actual time for crafting and sewing.

I had rather optimistically thought I could sneak in the time to join in the Jump Rope Dress sew along and had got as far as buying the pattern and the (absolutely lovely) fabric. I’ve even managed to pre-wash the fabric so perhaps I can convince myself that I’ve started the project?! Does that count? Anyway I hope now to get on with that over the next couple of weeks.

I’ve also been trying out some new embroidery techniques and hope to have evidence of these to show you some time very soon. And I’ve been pattern buying and book buying, and I’m still slogging away at my hexagons. However the one area where I’m really lacking in any photographic evidence of all this!

So all in all I think it’s best to forget about my lack of blogging in September and start concentrating on all the stuff that I promise to show you in October.