Too grumpy to sew


So my aim this year is about creating a wearable, co-ordinated wardrobe – which for me, means a lot more plains in the sewing diet.  However, I’ve still been hitting the prints pretty hard so far:

Button-hole challenge raglan top

“Summer at 2 degrees” dress

That was supposed to change today, by finishing off a (hopefully) wearable plain muslin for the Clover trousers.  I think I was lulled into over-confidence by fellow sewists’ accounts of easy fitting, and the fact that this simple pattern sews up so fast.  I even put in mock flat fell seams!  And battled on despite Mr B’s ‘helpful’ comment that they looked like Super Mario trousers….

But no, I couldn’t even face picking them back off the floor to get a proper picture for you (sorry, maybe later).  After the indignity of a dowager’s hump, I’ve moved on to a ‘frowning crotch’ – oh, the horror.  Plus loads of space down the back of the thighs (just the back, for some reason?) and weird little wrinkles in the seams at the calves.

Perhaps it’s because I haven’t been out of the house in 4 days (sickness) but I’ve seriously lost perspective.  I will, at some point, gear myself back up for Clover, and go and read the sewalong and all the brilliant trouser-fitting advice out there.  But right now, I’m too grumpy to sew.  Didn’t it all used to be fun?  Rather than this endless fitting palava?

Please help me stop being such a miserable lump – what do you do to get out of a bad sewing mood?

A month of muslins

Finished garments are a little low on the ground here at Diana & Me at the moment, but my sewing machine is keeping busy.  In line with this year’s plan to sew a more wearable wardrobe, I’m using January as a sort of preparation month, taking some time to get things ready for speedier and less stressful sewing ahead….

Ok, so I’ve gone a little bit hardcore on Colette patterns – I’m halfway through Ginger and Jasmine, and started cutting Clover this morning.  But Truffle (main reason for wanting the Colette Handbook) is done, though I didn’t bother with the ruffle:

I think this is actually a good fit on the front – those weird diagonal creases are just because I haven’t ironed it.  And left it wadded up in a ball in the corner for the last week.  But over on the back…

There’s room for a small backpack in all that excess round the shoulder blades!  It definitely needs adjusting.  But I have no idea what this issue is called.  The Handbook only talks about a sway back adjustment, which seems to be excess in the lower back – not up top, like mine.  Help!  Has anyone else had this problem?  Do you know what it’s called, or how to correct it? 

PS. I’ll close the blogiversary giveaway at midnight GMT tomorrow (Saturday 21st).  In the meantime, here’s a better picture (camera works again! yay!)

If you’d like to enter, go here.

And a blogiversary present up for grabs

Wow, thankyou so much for the wonderful comments on my one year post

So, I’ve been making a makeup bag using this super-cute tutorial for my sister-in-law’s birthday later this month.  To fit with my celebratory mood, all the fabric scraps I used were leftovers from this year’s handmade garments.  And, I realise it’s not the usual sort of sewing blog giveaway, but…

I made a extra one!

(Sorry for the dodgy phone photo, my camera crashed. Ugh.) 

It’s made from a thick linen-type fabric, lined with cotton, with those little bunting flags sewn on the front.  It zips along the top, and measures about 9 x 7  inches.  Leave a comment if you’d like it!

Happy blog-iversary to me!

A year ago today, I nervously published my first ever blog post.

Since then, I’ve made dresses:




…and accessories:


I’ve discovered that maxi is an awesome skirt length:

…and a grown woman can wear a petticoat:

I’ve learned how to crochet:

and sew a french seam:

…and that my natural waist line is not in fact just an inch above my tummy button, as I’d previously been  told.

From knowing nobody else who sews, I’ve been introduced to loads of lovely sewists on-line… and in real life!

This year I want to:

  • learn how to sew buttonholes (eek!)
  • start filling up the major missing category in my handmade wardrobe: trousers (EEEK!)
  • and maybe, just maybe, start pushing the boat out towards selling stuff I’ve made.

Thankyou to all of you who’ve commented here at Diana & Me over the past year, and inspired me through your own blogs.  Cheers!

Christmas present round-up

I’d planned ages ago to make  Mr B a cover for his MacBook Air, and once I’d picked the quirky Ikea fabric, I somehow mentally ticked it off as sorted.  And then around the 23rd, I suddenly realised that I still had to make the thing – cue much un-festive angst and panic on Christmas Eve.

Part of the problem was having this skyline to match up:

Yay for iron-on velcro!

I think it suits Mr B – sensible but interesting on one side (the skyline) – and kinda crazy on the other:

Hah! Getting the dimensions right was a headache – the MacBook Air is 1/2″ thick at one end, 1/8″ at the other, and curves across the horizontal axis as well.  The cover is pretty snug (what with the interfaced fabric, lining, and some interlining in the middle) but the Macbook does squeeze in!  Hoping it will ease a bit with use…

Having finished that just in time, I could turn my attentions to my presents.  Here’s the sewing-related ones:

Thanks, family and friends! Finally, after entering every giveaway I could find with no result, I have my copy of the Colette Handbook.  Plus extra Colette patterns!  It’s gonna be Colette madness here at Diana & Me in January…

But for now, I’m starting a little Christmas tradition for myself.  After my multi snood making, I’m left with lots of little oddments of Rowan Big Wool, just  perfect for a chunky little heart:

This is my 2011 one – and each Christmas I’m going to add another, creating a garland of heart bunting that grows a little every year.

Have you got any Christmas crafting traditions?

Need an excuse to drink cocktails at 3pm?

Nope.  When Roisin first mentioned the Bombshell dress meet-up, my hand was straight up in the air.  Every occasion I’ve ever met up with sewing bloggers has been hilarious, encouraging and unbelieveably fun, and this one ticked all those boxes.

If you read Dolly Clackett, Did you Make That or Handmade Jane, you’ve probably already have seen a version of this picture (and hopefully there’ll be another couple from Suzy Sewing and Lazy Stitching…?)  Well, we had a very patient waiter.  (Ladies, we should have got a shot of him!)

 Three Colette dresses, two Bombshells, and a partridge in a pear tree.

I mean, my peaches and picnics dress.  I did plan to make something new in honour of the meet-up – I’m working on a wearable toile of Vogue 1241 – but sometime on Friday afternoon I realised it would take up the rest of the day through to Saturday morning.  And I had the washing up to do.

I’m assuming Roisin is also taking a picture to my right  here, but she may just be telling an awesome animal-related story.  You know, I’m sure we would have been able to just talk about sewing all day long (we have enough material!  Sorry, couldn’t resist that) but in fact we meandered on to all sorts of other interesting topics.  Suddenly nearly five hours had passed… and honestly, that wasn’t just because we had three cocktails each.

Oh, and I was so chuffed that Roisin and I turned up in almost matching shoes… and then found a Wizard in Oz poster on the way out of the BFI:

I seem to remember at least 2 other people round the table mentioning getting the Bombshell dress course –  if you ever need someone to come and celebrate your achievement with cocktails, I’m there.  Book me a seat in the banquette!

Once upon a time:

I’m having one of those weeks where everything seems to converge on a single idea.  Do you know what I mean?  You read something on the web, hear a song, have an unexpected conversation with a friend, read a book – and there’s somehow a theme that multiplies more and more as it keeps cropping up.  Sometimes it’s even just one word, but it resonates specifically with you right now.

In this case, I keep running across the concept of story.  I’m reading a fabulous book: A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller, one of my favourite authors.  The subtitle is ‘What I learned while editing my life’, as it’s a collection of thoughts that started out of being asked to edit a memoir he’d written into a screenplay.  Sounds narcissistic, but actually he has a gift for making beautiful and profound statements (without sounding as trite/naff as I would if I tried to do it.)

“Something changed after I visited my father.  Perhaps it was visiting my father and hiking the Inca Trail too.  I was living a story, a life designed and lived with intention.” p.154

That’s what’s resonating, wanting my own story designed and lived with intention.

So what’s that got to do with this sewing/crafts blog?  Well an obvious part in that it’s a part of the story I’m living; it’s something I’m nuturing to see what it grows into, where it takes me.  But more specifically because I also came across this this week:

That little bit in red jumped out:

Put yourself on a deadline, so that every week you will finish one story.

Investigating further today, this is a quote from Ira Glass speaking on journalism, so she was actually talking literally about a story.  But not knowing that, I took it in line with that concept I’m swimming in, and exactly what I liked was the flexibility of it – to create and complete something every week, but not too rigidly or prescriptively… it could be equivalent to a couple of short scenes, or a huge intricate epic.  And then to see where this story takes me, over the next year.

Funny enough, just this week an email came through from the Sew Weekly, looking for new contributors for 2012.  Ooh, I so toyed with applying for about 5 minutes – look, it’s a project-a-week commitment! just like I’ve been thinking!  But to be honest, I think there was too much wanting to be ‘someone important’ in the blogosphere.  And right now, I need something less defined (not just clothes-making), more me-led.

So I’m starting with what’s left of this week – hopefully I’ll have something small but complete to show you tomorrow!

I’d love to know if it resonates with you too x

The great wool migration

Anyone noticed how woolly the blogosphere’s been getting lately?

Marie’s just taken up knitting, Karen’s having a snood giveaway (enter by Wednesday!) and just check out the amount of wool-related planning over at the Crafty Christmas Club… Must be an autumnal thing.  Sun sets earlier, leaves start falling, crafters work their way through huge piles of wool.

My wool affair goes back a month or so, to just before my holiday.  See, a few days before the trip, having more or less sorted washing / ironing / packing / making the house presentable in case any potential buyers came along while we were away, I had an attack of craft withdrawal.  Sure, there’d be lots of things to see and do, but what about all the in-between times – whole days at sea, afternoons sitting out on deck, all those hours that Mr B spends in the shower…

So I found myself at the checkout in Hobbycraft with £40 of wool. Oops.

As well as my chunky snood, I decided to try my hand at crocheting granny squares.  I remembered tearing a page out of Mollie Makes for a flower design, but could I remember where I’d hidden it?  Course not.  So I turned to Google and found this Sunburst Granny Square pattern:

What do you think?  Just experimental so far – not totally convinced on this colour way, but I really really like the pattern.  (And funny enough, I found the Mollie Makes version yesterday – and it’s almost exactly the same.)

Have you migrated to wool yet?


…is absolutely gorgeous.  I’ve wanted to visit the fjords for years, so this holiday was really exciting.  It’s one of those places where the water and the air feel clean and fresh and lovely, and (though all the fjords start looking a little bit the same after a while) there’s always a good view – the water, the cliffs and pretty small villages.

We stopped off in a village called Flåm, and got a train up the mountain for views of the valley and some pretty impressive waterfalls:

Near the top, there was a little hotel miles from anything but this train line, but doing a roaring trade in waffles and coffee for tourists.  All the waitresses were wearing these dresses, and one was kind enough to let me take a picture:

I wondered if it was a sort of traditional Norweigan dress, but between the shy waitress and shy me, I didn’t manage to ask.  I like that little detail of the metal closure at the neckline and the bands of colour repeated down the dress; and it should be a fairly easy make.  Maybe in a different set of colours?

In between glimpses of waterfalls, there were a lot of long tunnels through the mountainside, which was actually perfect for finishing off my crochet project.  By the time we got back down to sea level, I’d completed this:

… another snood using this tutorial (I’ve already got one in smoky navy).  This teal Big Wool from Rowan should co-ordinate nicely with a lot of other garments to make some autumn-proof outfits.

Then on to Oslo, which was a really interesting city to wander round.  Lots of statues, and interesting architecture:

And then I caught sight of this sign down a side road, and had to go investigate:

Yes, a Norweigan fabric shop!  Thus, having teased Mr B about taking photos of common old pigeons in a city with a thousand-year history, I went and got all excited about common old wool.

Most of the fabrics (with my rough and ready mental-maths conversion rate) seemed to be about £18 a metre: eek.  Though there were lots of big red ‘SALG’ signs, which seemed hopeful, in the end the language barrier was a bit too daunting and I wasn’t sure what was what.  I started getting souvenir anxiety – you know when you really want something special to take home, but there’s so much choice and nothing in particular that jumps out at you?  I know it’s ridiculous, but it stresses me out (has done ever since I was 6 and sobbed my heart out in the gift shop at London Zoo).  So I took a deep breath and left, reminding myself that wandering round a fabric shop is a nice experience in itself, and there’s no rule that I have to bring fabric home just because it has the appeal of coming from another country.

Not far away, there was inspiration for another make:

How cute is that obi style belt?  Fab idea, and it’s another one that would be fairly easy to replicate.  Given that grey is almost always my natural colour of choice for clothing, I’m trying to stay away from it for my new projects… but oh, doesn’t it look good with that strong pink?

Due to gale force 10 weather conditions, we ended up in Oslo for a bit longer than expected, which meant that we got a night out with my my brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and her boyfriend.  Walking through most of the city centre trying to keep up with my brother-in-law and ending up at a place tucked round the back of a petrol station didn’t seem promising, but it turned out to be my favourite kind of cosy bar:

Looks more like a library than a bar, doesn’t it?  Lots of wonderful vintage maps, globe lamps, leather chesterfields and mid-century armchairs – I wish I had room in my house for a cosy dark space like this.  And just to round things off, Mr B and I were told we had a “delicious dialect” by a Norweigan student.  Thanks for having me, Norway, you were great.