Archive | April 2013

Wardrobe of treasure.

Had lovely time on holiday, nice and quiet and spacious compared to London. 🙂

As I’d previously mentioned we had to start redecorating and arranging our flat pretty much out the blue because we had a bit of a mould problem.

We hadn’t intended to do anything this holiday, but staying in a two bedroom house with a livingroom that would swallow our entire flat and was beautifully decorated, made us very keen to get our place as nice as we possibly could when we got home.

So on sunday we tackled my fabric collection. When we moved here 3 years ago, my fabric stash was fairly minimal and Jon had a lot of very bulky band equipment, so my fabric lived in a chest, and then when that broke, our Ikea Expedit cube shelves in the living room and Jons band equipment was contained in a large wardrobe in our bedroom.

Over the years however, I’ve got more into sewing and my fabric has bred and multiplied and taken over the entire living room, whilst Jons band equipment has actually shrunk as more and more technologys gone digital and it no longer makes sense to keep massive bass amps lying around and stuff. Also I access my fabric frequently, but not all that often as I take what i need for a project at a time, whereas Jon does some kind of music practice or messing around with recording software on the computer pretty much every day.

So we decided to swap.

So I moved 8 Expedit cubes, plus one basket, plus a couple of bits rammed in in various places, of fabric into the wardrobe and Jon moved what turned out to be 2 Expedit cubes full of leads and pedals etc, and 3 guitars out.

We have not finished in the living room yet to post pictures of how much better it looks, but here is what the wardrobe looks like. I just about got everything in!


It is obviously bulging at the seams, but there is one glaring gap in my fabric collection at the moment, which is novelty cottons to make alternative dresses with. I think this is because they tend to be quite expensive, but it will be rectified 🙂

How to knock off Vivien of Holloway…featuring UNICORNS!

Finally got round to making the dress I cut out several weeks ago.

Partly this dress came about because I am skint at the moment and had all the bits to make it lying round, so it didn’t require any additional money spent, and partly because half my friends have Vivien of Holloway dresses and they are very expensive and I wanted one too, so I decided to make my own.

The style I decided to go for was this one… the kind of iconic Marylin Monroe dress, in a novelty print. Luckily I had the ideal novelty print from my favourite market stall (as documented here) . Its taken me a while to get round to it, as its kind of frivolous sewing and I had usefull stuff to make and I thought it would be a lot more complicated than what I normally make, which it was, though not half as bad as I expected.

The first issue was choosing a pattern; practically every fashion company now and in the 50’s has a version of this dress knocking around so there were a lot of options to choose from. I decided to go for a modern version as although there are actually patterns from the 50’s that fit me without alteration, it can be a bit hit and miss finding them, and I’d already worked out this was going to be a pattern needing boning, so I wanted it to be as simple as possible.

I ended up going for simplicity 3823  which doesn’t look anything like, but when I google image searched it, a load of lovely stuff came out including several plus sized attempts that looked the part perfectly. Also the other useful looking option was a vogue pattern, which tend to be a lot more complicated, and also I know how to adapt simplicity patterns for my size fairly well these days. Which is just as well really…..

On opening the pattern and inspecting it, I have no idea how one could practically make a mock up (muslin/toille/whatever) without making entire thing lining and all, as the bones were to be sewn into the seam allowances on the lining, so seeing as pretty though it is, the unicorn fabric was £2 a meter, which is a quid cheaper than the lining, and there is enough left over after making the dress to allow me to make something else, I decided to wing it.

As the sewing process progressed it got even more nerve-racking as it became apparent there was no point built into the sewing process to fit the thing as you went along. The first chance I got to properly try it for size was just before I put the zip in at the end!

So I went for a size 16, which is my usual size in simplicity, though a bit of a risk as my weight ballooned about a month and a half ago, and its only just beginning to come back down again. And a size 14 on the tits, cuz simplicity patterns always assume your knockers are enormous, but I enlarged it a bit across the back just incase.

Construction wise it was easier than I thought, I was really nervous as all the hard bits were at the beginning. Boning was a pain, but made much easier by ignoring their instructions to sew it into its casing immediately and I left it to the last possible minute, that way I got to adjust it for length and bending in the right direction before permanently sewing it in.

Oh yeah, and the fabric was evil, it wrinkled if I left it alone for five seconds so I was ironing it all the time, frayed like anything, and wasn’t overly keen on having stitches unpicked.

Anyway, enough boring technical stuff… here it is…..

simplicity 3823 unicorns     unicorns halterneck

you’ll have to excuse my horrible arms in second picture, as usual when I put on weight it goes disproportionately onto the tops of my arms. I  have 3 medical conditions that screw with your weight, but to my knowledge non of them specifically do that to you. i have tried showing doctors and saying ‘this is wierd, help!’ but non of them seem to think theres anything abnormal about it. Anyway….

with a cardigan/bolero how I would normally wear it….

unicorn dress with bolero     unicorn dress 2

which looks much better I think. I am well happy I have a cardigan thingy to match actually. my mum bought it me several years ago to go with a dress for someones wedding I don’t think I fit into anymore, it has been sitting in the back of m wardrobe for ages, and its the perfect colour match for the unicorns.

I’m so relieved, it fits spot on, well ok, it could be about 2 cm bigger for comfort, but then the boning would be pointless. I think it is about an inch and a half too short on the legnth though. (will make it longer next time)

Inside the dress..


pretty tidy lining


underskirt simplicity3823


The underskirt has a built in net petticoat. Actually if I was making this again, I’d either leave the petticoat out, or use the skirt pattern to cut the pieces rather than use the petticoat pattern as although the built in net gives you a fairly nice everyday poof, the shape of the petticoat means you can’t put a proper net one underneath it, which would make it properly foofy. Its ok for now though as i need a knee length black net petticoat and can’t afford one at the moment, (and really can’t be arsed to make one…I hate sewing with net!) so this will do.

neck fastener simplicity 3823


This is the neck fastener, it was actually a bit of a buggerup! I lost the pattern piece for making fabric loops to go round the buttons as it was tiny, so I used elastic I had lying around instead, but ideally the elastic loops needed to be smaller and thinner and they wouldn’t lie straight when I sewed them in, so I’ve had to use oversized buttons to compensate. I almost never have my hair up though so it doesn’t really matter.

We are going on holiday to Suffolk for a week on Sunday so no sewing. When I get back we will be finishing redecorating and reorganising the flat, and then I am going to have to get to grips with the overlocker. (unless I get bored and decide to make my Hello Kitty/Kiss dress instead!)




I haven’t posted for ages again. there is a rather good reason for this, which I shall come too later. but what I intended to post about, before evil black growing things got in the way…..

Nearly a month ago now (14th-17th of March) I went with my Mum and one of her friends to the Knitting and Stitching show at Olympia…

The only picture I took…

knitting and stitching show

Just as we came in, as you can see it was massive. Also it was Really Not My Kind Of Thing!

I had a nice time, and Mums friend who does patchwork had a very good time,and I think if you did cross stitch or decoupage or knitting (though tbh, given the knitting bit in the title of the show I thought they were under represented) it was the thing for you. The dressmaking offering consisted of a couple stall selling all the kind of tat you’d get on Goldehawke Road or a Market Stall in the Rag Market in Birmingham, and one large stall selling Liberty fabric reasonably cheaply and Alexander Henry at a far higher price than I could get it from etsy and a load of other stuff that was mostly overpriced. There was nowhere selling haberdashery stuff (which was a pain as I have a reasonable list of stuff I haven’t been able to get in Lewisham) or patterns, I managed to pick up a french curve from a stall selling quilting equipment but that was pretty much it.

Oh I also picked up a load of silk flowers from Miss Rose and Sister Violet  who the internet tells me is an Australian brand, but for some reason had a stall at the show selling flowers for considerably cheaper than they seem to be priced on their website! Which will be ideal for hatmaking when I finally get into central London as I’ve run out of combs again.

However….there was a stall there selling sewing machines, and Mum bought me an overlocker for my birthday!!! It is a Huskylock S15, so not a super expensive one, but it will do the trick nicely. I will be able to get a much more professional finish on the clothes I make.

So excited! 🙂

It arrived about 2 weeks later and is currently sitting boxed up in our living room as events unfolded that have stopped me getting on with anything for the last few weeks…..

Firstly a sunny day arrived, roughly about the time I offered to have my parents stay overnight and I realised that with Jon and I having been ill so much over winter the state of the flat had got somewhat bohemian. So a week of hardcore cleaning occurred, which would all have been fine, except in the process I pulled a chest of drawers out from next to our bed and realised there was a bit of mould there, and then realised that if there was some there behind the bookshelves would be crawling with it.

We are not habitually filthy btw, our flat was built in the 60’s or 70’s by someone who thought it was a good idea to use only a single course of bricks but an extra dense one, probably thinking that the special new bricks would keep the place warm without needing the expense of a cavity wall. Unfortunately  it does no such thing but the combination of  no insulation the specially dense bricks and the fact someone a few years ago put upvc windows in, means no moisture can ever get out. So we have a damp problem. We have sorted it mainly by buying a dehumidifier and painting the walls of the living room with bathroom paint which is mould resistant and stuff. We were intending the bedroom repaint to be our job for next summer.

There is thankfully no ‘before’ picture of the corner of our bedroom where the bookcases were, but there were 3 of them, two Ikea,one wooden, double stacked with piled up books, in our previous flat we had a small study and had room for 4 bookcases so when we moved here we’d had to condense it down. We sort of organised it when we moved in, but hadn’t really touched it since as it was too much trouble.

We quickly came to the realisation that the solution to this was that a good 3/4 of the books had to go, luckily they have been rehomed in my parents attic, so it wasn’t super traumatic…I don’t think I’d have managed it if we were never going to see them again. And in the  process quite a lot of other stuff too.

We moved here three years ago, although we were incredibly grateful to have found a place we could actually afford in London as Jon could no longer manage the commute from Hitchin, at the time we only really saw living here as a temporary fix, but the recession, family circumstances and skyrocketing house prices in this part of London now make us think we’ll probably be here for a good few years yet. Which is not really something we had adapted for in the way we live in the place.

Getting rid of books (Especially when you know you’ll get them back in the end) is actually easier than I’d though. Its amazing how your tastes change as time progresses, we had duplicates of most of the Harry Potters as we were both really into them when we met, but now neither of us can envisage reading them again for the next 5 years or so.. so they went!

I went mainly for stuff I hadn’t read but was intending to, Jon for certain key books that mean a lot to him, and a load of Fantasy series that are half way through being written, so we’ll want the first few again every time a new one comes out.

We got it down to 3/4 of a bookshelf in the end, which leaves loads of room for additions, though we do hope to get a bit better at using a kindle instead.

Of course getting rid of stuff has meant we now intend to rearrange the flat entirely, which is going to take over our time for the next few weeks. We’ve got rid of the mould though…

In pictures…..


with the wallpaper on, and what was growing behind

IMG_1409 mould 1

once the wall had been stripped and now we’ve put the lining paper up.

Obviously it was completely gross, luckily we think it had only been there a few weeks with the really damp weather.

We are really proud of ourselves for our lining paper attempt. Theres a tiny crack where its not perfect, but that won’t show when the paint is on. Its the first time we’ve attempted anything like this though, and we had only the vaguest idea what we were doing, so its come out mercifully alright!

We’re not intending to paint it for a couple of weeks and have to order some stuff online before we can get on with rearranging everything, so I have had a quiet week to get back on with my life again 🙂

So this week I am sewing together a dress I had cut out before the overlocker arrived, as soon as this is finished I intend to go completely nuts on jersey for a while, I think I’m showing complete self restraint, but actually while we are redoing the flat its better new expensive machinery stays in its box for a bit. 🙂

It is really slippery fabric, I’m having to iron it all the time, if you have to undo stitches it marks like anything,I have no guarantee the things actually going to fit, but if it all works out I will be so happy with it. 🙂


unicorn bodice