Happiness is …..

Not having to work on a Sunday for the first time in quite a while, especially when you had to work on the Saturday and there was snow again and all the buses stopped! By that point luckily I was safely home, it was very bad visibility on the way home but the roads were not too bad and I made it home to my lovely warm house where I could watch the snow fall down knowing I did not have to venture out.

We have had another foot of snow here and so I was very, very glad to be snuggled up under a fleece all yesterday afternoon finishing the dolls off. I spent the morning making skirts and then the afternoon doing the hand sewing.

Dolls 1

I only managed to make 2 skirts each but that is fine, at least they are all finished ready to take with me on Saturday.

Dolls 6

I made the arms a little wider this time and changed the eyes. I made them slightly bigger and used a fabric dye pen to fill them in which I think works well.

Dolls 3

Dolls 4

Dolls 5

I hand sewed all of the bodies up as well this time which gave me more control and didn’t loose any arms in the process this time 🙂 Original pattern details are in this post here.Everything came from stash apart from some elastic and the hair ribbons.

Dolls 2

I am very pleased with the way that they have all turned out, the ‘twins’ are for Anna-Mae and Alice and the pink one is for Avive. I will be seeing all of them over the time that I am in Spain which will be brilliant. I saw Anna-Mae and Alice in August but have not seen Avive since last Feb.

I will be away for just over two weeks so I hope that you all have a lovely Easter break. We are going to Lorca for Good Friday to see the Easter parades and finally see in action all that stunning goldwork we saw on our trip there a few years ago.

Then the following week we have our mini break, can’t wait, I know I have only just got back from Budapest but am so looking forward to being warm!

Take care, thanks for visiting and see you when I get back.


The work / life balance is slowly being restored!

It has been such a busy term so far, I have been breaking my rule of not working weekends ever since I came back from Spain and January has flown by with very little me time. Happily we have a bit of a lull now at least for a couple of weeks then things get really busy again.

I am doing well with the next batch of dolls for the little girls in the family, I cut out three sets of pieces last Sunday afternoon and have already got a pile of completed legs. I am working on stitching the faces at the moment which will take some time.

Doll legs

I was working from home last week for a couple of days and having done a lot of marking over the weekend was able to finish early on Tues afternoon and get in the craft room for a little play and then finished it all up yesterday.

I was planning to make a cushion for my sister for Christmas but then we decided not to do presents for each other. I was very thankful about this due to my poorly arm but I still wanted to make her this one as I have seen so many cute versions on Pinterest.

She has a camper van, which is not a VW,  but we both love them so I made her this cushion for use in her van when she goes to festivals.

VW Cushion 1

I looked for a pattern but most seemed to be ready made or kits so ended up drawing my own. I drafted it out then traced over and cut out the pattern pieces. I put iron on bonding on the fabric before cutting out then assembled it before zig zagging round the applique.

VW Cushion 6

I am so pleased with it, it looks so cute. I bought some fab backing fabric as well. Yes I know I said I was not buying anything else but did not have anything suitable in stash that was large enough and it was only £2 for a fat quarter from Oh Sew Crafty on Ebay. They have lots of other colours as well, pictures from the shop’s site.

VW van fabric


VW van fabric 2

All the rest was from stash, Ellie very kindly gifted me a jelly roll so I used some of that for the windows and tyres and the white spot fabric backing is a piece she bought for the same quilt about 6 years ago and has never made so she thought I might make good use of it. I still have lots more lovely strips including beautiful flowery ones so will share those with Mum.

The yellow is some Dashwood from Simply Solids and the green flower and square design on the panels is some fab vintage fabric that someone must have given me as I don’t remember buying it. Buttons courtesy of my Mum for Christmas. The back is a simple envelope closure and I added poppers as well.

VW Cushion 7

I love it and I hope my sister will like it, then again if she doesn’t it will be a lovely new cushion for me! I have also found some very lovely caravan ideas, I think this would make a nice pouch.This is a free tutorial and pattern from Bev at Flamingo Toes. I would dearly love to own a vintage caravan, they are so lovely but not practical for me really.

Camper Embroidery

Hope that you have all had a nice week ahead . My Mum arrives on Thursday and we are off to Budapest on Saturday for a few days so I am really looking forward to that. I may just be taking a few pictures of lovely buildings! See you when I get back and thanks for visiting.


Teeny tiny stitching

I have decided to carry on with the Christmas cross stitching, my aim is to do one a month and then by next December I will have all twelve I need and it won’t matter if I hurt my arm or am really busy!

They are mostly very relaxing stitches but the one I am working on at the moment is quite a challenge as it is so very tiny.

Plum Pudding Cross Stitch 1

I am stitching this on evenweave linen so I don’t know exactly what count it is but here is my little finger for size comparison.

Plum Pudding Cross Stitch 3

I have stitched this one before and it is lovely if a little fiddly to do, especially the white topping to the pudding which is difficult to see in the evenings, am just onto that bit with a second one now.

Plum Pudding Cross Stitch 2

Plum Pudding Cross Stitch 4

It is a JBW Design called Plum Pudding and I don’t know if I will carry on and make 6 in total for the friends who I give to as I group or stick to two or three, we shall see.

I have also been doing some not so tiny stitching with another of their designs which I have not done before, a snowglobe one.

Snow Globe Cross Stitch 2

That is a much more manageable size, here is another shot with the little finger for comparison and it is stitched on sparkly aida for extra festiveness.

Snow Globe Cross Stitch 3

Snow Globe Cross Stitch 1

It still features the same lovely little motifs as well as part of the design which make them really special. I usually buy these designs from Sew and Sew , who have a sale on at the moment but Wye Needlecraft also have a good selection including this one.

In other exciting news Mum and I have booked a mini break to Seville for when I am in Spain at Easter. I has been on my wish list for a long time and can’t wait to go, it looks amazing! Pictures from Google.



I have been writing a chapter of a book for work this weekend so have not had much time to sew but here is a sneak peek of what I have been working on, a new venture for me, a little doll for a special little girl who will be one next week.

Doll in progress 1

More on this when she is already to meet the world.I hope that you have had a nice week and a relaxing weekend, take care and thanks for visiting.






Gift ideas

I am thinking ahead for this year with things that I can make for various birthdays as I think it is a great idea to have a supply of gifts at hand.

Jenny of Elefantz recently posted some really good ideas for things to make for a gift stash. I love her ideas for bookmarks and these lovely soup bowl cosies with the free pattern from this link, the pictures of bookmarks are from Jenny’s web site. She has some gorgeous motifs in her patterns for use on book marks and who doesn’t love a good read?

ELEFANTZ simple pleasures bookmarks 1

soup bowl cozy

I know that pouches are always useful for people so will be making some more of those and will also make some more stitching related goodies. Jenny’s designs come in handy for bags as well.

My recent giveaway winner,Daisy Debs, said she liked Liberty and vintage embroidery so I made her a needlecase with both on. I have done this design before on pouches and bags but not on needlecases so will make more of those.

Giveaway Liberty needlebook 1

Giveaway Liberty needlebook 2

Giveaway Liberty needlebook 3

Aprons for kids are a lovely gift, I made four a few years ago using the tutorial from this site. The picture is from the tutorial.

Child's Apron Tutorial

One thing I have been collecting ideas for but not done yet is quiet books, there are so many lovely ideas out there, this is my Pinterest page for them. Ava is one next month so a little young for one yet but I am thinking a bit later one of these might be good. Not sure where this originally comes from but have seen it on lots of Pinterest pages. Isn’t it gorgeous?

Quiet book

I only managed to sneak in a couple of hours crafting this weekend due to having to work the rest but finished off the stitching things pouch so that will go in the stash for Yarndale. I have a nice stash of zips now so am hoping to do lots of pouches over the coming months.

Have been doing cross stitching in between other things, still working on Christmas ornaments! Thought I had better get ahead just in case of injury next Autumn have already completed a couple for this year’s collection which I will share with you in the next post.

Happy crafting, hope the work week goes well and see you at the weekend! Thanks for visiting.

A little Christmas finish

Thankfully my arm was less painful yesterday so I managed to do some machining, finishing off a couple of Christmas versions of the cottages I made at the end of last year.

Christmas Cottages 1

The tutorial for these can be found here at Retro Mama’s site, I originally found this idea on Pinterest and made nine of these in floral fabric which I gave away to friends at knitting as pincushions.They are so cute I had to try some Christmas versions.

The charms I got from Ebay from Rhinoobead and they are so cute. I thought it would be nice to have a tree outside the window and a wreath on the door.I might add some beads to the trim on the roof as well.

I do love making these little houses and obviously so do lots of other people, there are lots of lovely ones on Pinterest including these beautiful examples by one of my favourite bloggers Charise who creates amazing paper pieced designs. I love the way that she has fussy cut the fabric to put people, flowers and animals in the windows and doors, she is so clever!

Cottages - Charise Creates

She has a book coming out soon called Super Cute Paper Piecing which will be on my wish list, I have not really done any of this type of piecing before but since I love my English Paper Piecing would like to have a go at some of these.Her fabric combinations are always gorgeous. She has lots of information about the contents of the book on her blog so do go and have a look.

Super Cute Paper Piecing Book

I am getting on well with the cross stitched snowflake that I started this week, thankfully finger movement has been lots easier as well so I am much happier.I hate sitting watching TV without doing something productive, seems such a waste of time.

The sky is a beautiful blue here and it is sunny but very cold so I am planning a lovely day of stitching, very much a slow stitching Sunday, this has been my first weekend in three weeks where I have not been working Saturday so have been really enjoying it.

Hope you are having a good weekend whatever you are doing, take care and thanks for visiting and for all the good wishes about my poorly arm, your thoughts and prayers have obviously worked!




My new obsession

Since joining the Seamstress Squadron page and starting to look at other costuming blogs I have been spending many happy hours looking at other people’s creations and the information available.

I am amazed, both with the dedication of the sewers and their beautiful creations but also at the level of detail and help available and just didn’t realise there was all this out there. I have also found some people who have used the same pattern as me and made wonderful things.

Look at this beautiful outfit below, I have forgotten which forum it came from but it is using this Butterick pattern that I have and they have altered the shape of the jacket and used the edge of the fabric in such a beautiful way. Isn’t it just stunning!

Butterick pattern 1Butterick pattern 2

Burda jacket pattern adapted - small

This level of information doesn’t really exist in the same way for the medieval re-enactment costumes, there are some people who we use as sources who are very good such as this history of fashion blog but there are some significant differences between what you can find out.

One of course is that there are still lots of Victorian clothes around in museums and even available for people to buy, books, patterns written at the time and lots of wonderful fashion plates from magazines and adverts, especially about the miracles of corsetry. There are even photos as well and Wearing History blog has a fantastic selection of these under her ‘What real people wore’, posts.

Victorian corset ad


The Delineator magazine, founded by Butterick in 1869 is mentioned a lot and this site has some scans of these magazines. Aren’t these gorgeous covers?

Delineator magazine 1

Delineator magazine 2


Another great blog is Historical Sewing, what this women doesn’t know about making 19th century garments probably isn’t worth knowing anyway.

The most we get for medieval is paintings and manuscripts, beautiful though they are it does leave you wondering how they made the garments and what they are made from. I use the Web Gallery of Art as a primary source.

The other  is of course the authenticity, since we work for English Heritage a lot we have to have a very high level of authenticity whereas many people who make costume do it for fun and for events such as balls and Steampunk so they are sharing their interpretations of things.

The other thing that I realised is that since I have such a wide circle of friends who make costume for re-enactment I have tended to go them for advice rather than the miracles of the internet. When I first started re-enacting I made a lot of kit and did do some research but that was a long time ago, 14 years, pre-blogging and pre- Facebook 😉 and there was not so much info out there so I have really stopped looking and use the same sources that I have come to trust.

This links in well to my doctoral research as I am looking at how people gain the skills and knowledge they need to make things for re-enactment so it is useful to reflect on myself as a beginning costume maker for a different era.

Ellie and I are thinking of taking some classes to help us adjust patterns. For our medieval garments we either have tried and trusted patterns or use existing garments as patterns so we have not much experience of fitting the more complex Victorian shapes.

I have been rapidly adding things to my new Steampunk Pinterest pages such as these amazing outfits below. I love the lilac dress in the background here.

Victorian outfit 1
Victorian outfit 2

And since I already have a black velvet jacket wouldn’t this skirt be lovely with it? Of course none of this may ever see the light of day as actual garments but it is fun researching!

I am off to Ellie’s tomorrow on the first leg of the journey to Caldicot Castle, please pray for fine weather for us as we really want the event to be a success!

I will be back next time with hopefully some more progress on the jacket, even if it is only a post about how hard the fitting is and am planning to devote the weekend to putting it together. Wish me luck!

Take care and thanks for visiting.




Plus difficile? Pattern matching with a difference

So today I made a start on the Steampunk jacket. My intention was just to iron the pattern, a top tip from the Seamstress Squadron forum,  then cut the pieces out and have a little think about how I might lay them out.

However I have ended up with a jacket all cut out and so far I am very pleased 🙂

I was a little daunted when I opened the pattern, I hadn’t looked too carefully at it when I bought it as it was late at night and it was on sale and well… there may have been wine involved 😉 I just thought, ‘ooh how pretty’ , and clicked.

The back of the packet did not inspire confidence with its, ‘plus difficile’, rating and when I looked at the instructions it felt a bit complicated. But I managed to make the wedding jacket for Amanda from a similarly complicated pattern, with a lining, so as I sorted the pieces and worked out how it all goes together I felt a bit more confident.

I am intending to alter the pattern a bit though, what I did not realise was that the front panel which is in the contrast dark blue on the illustration is cut like a facing then folded back and stitched onto the main front.

I am also not making the back longer and there will not be a bow. And I wanted to use these three tablecloths to make it, kindly held up by Jake, excuse the lack of light it, it has been raining here all day.

Steampunk linen jacket 5 tablecloth

Steampunk linen jacket 6 tablecloth

Steampunk linen jacket 7 tablecloth

Add to that the fact that I am a bit spatially challenged anyway when it comes to layouts and what could possibly go wrong!

I tried all of the pattern pieces on all of the table cloths and eventually decided on a layout that I liked.

I could have left it there, it took me about two hours to pluck up the courage to cut into Amanda’s fabric but that was £40 a metre silk and the end of the roll and this was three tablecloths costing £12 in total so just thought why not go for it so I did.

Steampunk linen jacket 14 cut frontjpg

I am very pleased with the way it has turned out, there was plenty of fabric and I have managed to match motifs easily to the pieces. To my surprise the smallest tablecloth had enough for both front pieces.I will have to lose some of the design at the bottom though as it is too long at the moment but love the shoulder pieces.

Steampunk linen jacket 13 cut back

I am especially pleased with the back and the way I have been able to stagger the stitched motifs. Below is one of the sleeves, front and back piece. I like the trailing design for the arms.

Steampunk linen jacket 12 cut sleeves

I also love the way the three different designs go together, they have all been stitched with the same palette of threads and I think they work very well.

Steampunk linen jacket 15 cut layout

I was expecting less cohesion which would have been fine.

Steampunk linen jacket 16 cut layout closeup

The look I am going for is slightly bizarre anyway as this jacket will probably be accessorised with stitching charms etc and worn with the purple top hat but I think it is splendid so far.

Steampunk linen jacket 17 cut layout closeup 2

I will have to do some serious fitting though as had to cut out a size 24 to accommodate my generous bosom, luckily having made clothes from scratch before I know how strange the sizings can be and will have to do lots of cutting down of sleeves etc.

Will be a few days before I can do any more work on it and I need to underline it, have lots of cotton in my stash that I will use for that, some old curtains will do nicely!

I do really love the, ‘make do and mend’ attitude of the Seamstress Squadron, so many people making wonderful things out of old curtains and adapting charity shop clothes, it is perfect!

Until then take care and thanks for visiting.