what do you listen to while crafting?

itunes podcasts

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I have been busy with commissions and listen to the radio a lot, generally radio 4Extra, a little LBC & podcasts,with the odd netflix/youtube playing.  So I thought I’d share what I love at the moment:  First up


First up is This American Life, probably the best know podcast and I found it after listening to the first Serial story and then came S-Town utterly gripping.  TAL is a weekly episode, presented by Ira Glass.  Its stories or a single story based on something topical in the US and is staged in ‘acts’ always an entertaing listen.


I discovered this during the summer and have really enjoyed working my way through the weekly episodes up to the most recent.  Liz was a journalist and also did lots of tv work, so good at interviewing people.  There are lots of topics, health related from grass-fed free-range milk, baking with Lorraine Pascale to travel tips.  Engaging and interesting and one I listen to as soon as a new episode is released.


Truly Myrtle is a knitting podcast made by Libby, who is a knitwear designer in New Zealand. Her podcasts are all yarn related, there are interviews, news on yarns and general chat.  Although my knitting is very slow and I maybe only work on 1 -2 projects a year, still find this a lovely weekly listen.

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This is one of my most recent finds, Revisionist History.  There are 2 seasons to listen to and so far I have really enjoyed each one.  Malcolm Gladwell is an author of 5 New York Times bestsellers has been named one of the 100 most influential people by TIME magazine.  There is an episode on Winston Churchill & Frederick Lindemann — whose connection to Churchill altered the course of British policy in World War II. This was the first episode I’d dipped into and it was so rich in detail, I’d never heard of Frederick Lindemann and only the general basics on Churchill.  So far only 2 podcast series, 10 episodes each.

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Walking the dog is the latest podcast I’ve found and love it.  Emily Dean interviews people out while walking their dog, they talkabout all sorts of things funny, chattly and a really great listen.

home front podcast

Home Front is a radio 4 historical drama set during the First World War, each daily (mon-fri) episode is set 100 years ago to the day of broadcast.  They include an historail fact in each episode although the characters are fictional.  It is well written and one can hear all sorts of extremely well-known voices, Toby Jones, Joanna David, Freddie Fox & Anton Lesser to name just a few.  It is available as a podcast and also on BBC iplayer.

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A weekly podcast of the latest Friday evenings comedy show including The News Quiz, The Now Show, Dead Ringers and The Museum of Curiosity.  These always make me laugh, slightly disconcerting to passers-by while out walking the dog!

and finally:

you must remember this

You Must Remember This are stories about secret and forgotten histories of Hollywood.  Interesting and often a story will span 2 or 3 episodes.

I’d love to hear what you listen to and any podcast reccomendation!



Inari Tee top | a review


At the Handmade Fair this autumn Ms T and I met Josie from the Fabric Godmother who is so lovely and has a wonderful online shop.  Ms T fell in love with the Cobra corsage pattern and decided she’d like a t-shirt, so we chose the scuba cobra print and Named pattern inari to make the t-shirt.

Pattern: Inari Tee shirt by Named Patterns.

Fabrics: Cobra corsage scuba.

Notions: Epic polyfil 120, Moon overlocking thread, Prym stretch needle.

Pattern description: loose-fitting tee dress and a cropped A-line tee

Pattern Sizing:  I cut a size 12

Did it look like the photo/line drawing on the pattern once finished?  Yes.

What did you like or dislike about the pattern?  It was a straight forward, easy make.  Didn’t like the cuff detail on the sleeve, too bulky for the scuba.

Did I make  any pattern alterations or design changes?  No.

Would I sew it again or recommend to others?  Yes, would possibly make again.  Brilliant for a beginner and fast – cos somethimes thats just what I want.

Conclusion:  Ms T loves it and that is all that matters to me.


This is not a sponsored post, all opinion are my own, I purchased the pattern and fabrics.


The Maker’s Atelier shawl collat coat | a review


I love this coat and it’s the second one I’ve made.  The first was what I called a wearable toile as I dived right in and cut out the pattern without reading the instructions, this is designed to be made with a none freyable fabric such as boiled wool or Melton and I used a divine wool & mohair coating, warm, soft and with a little stretch.  So with my mistake the arms felt a little short, although no one would notice – I did.  So when I found a beautiful navy wool melton at the Sewing Bee Live show in September I jumped at it.



Pattern: The Maker’s Atelier Shawl Collar Coat.

Fabrics: Navy Wool Melton and anti static satin lining.

Pattern description:  Unlined raw edged coat with snap fastenings.

Notions: I used epic polyfil 80, Prym Chalk wheel mouse (utterly brilliant), plastic snaps.

Pattern Sizing:  Good sizing, I cut a size 12.

Did it look like the photo/line drawing on the pattern once finished?  Yes.

What did you like or dislike about the pattern?  It was a straight forward, easy make.  I love how simple and clear the Maker’s Atelier patterns are.   Only advice, read the pattern before cutting out to stop you making the same mistake as me.

Did I make  any pattern alterations or design changes?  The only changes I made were to add a lining, in seam pockets and added hem allowances for length 10cm and sleeves 5cm.   Straight forward to do and if your uncertain, the Maker’s Atelier does have a journal piece in how to make a lining.

Would I sew it again or recommend to others?  Yes, would make again and it is a great well written pattern.  And if you’ve never made a coat, it’s a brilliant pattern to start with.

Conclusion:  I love the simple clean lines of this coat, can wear it any where and it always looks smart.  I love the way one can put up the collar for a different look and its great for colder, blustery days.

below is the coat I made before to compare, tricky to see the details but its super warm and cosy.


Flindra | my first knitted shawl


I’ve been listening to the Truly Murtle podcast for quite a while, I love knitting although I don’t do very much.  It’s the calming repetitive movement, slowly the needles produce interesting tactile fabric and my blood pressure drops with the rhythm of the needles.


While listening to one episode while sewing at work, I heard about a KAL [knit a long] and thought I join in, bought and down loaded the Flindra pattern on ravelry and headed up to Loop in Camden Passage.  Its a lovely shop and the staff are brilliant, a veritable cornucopia of delicious tactile yarns.  I chose a Danish organic yarn called Semilla by BC Garn, its soft, comes in an array of colours and wasn’t too expensive.


It’s knitted width ways, so starting off small and growning and has an interesting chevron though the design.  I really enjoyed the pattern, only once over thinking the pattern and Libby was able to explain what I had miss understood.


The different textures are easy to knit, although I am a slowish knitter and did start again once – just wanted it to be right.  The coloured texture was simple and made knitting in 2 yarns seem so easy, it’s also a lovely pop of colour and defines the chevron pattern.


I didn’t block it in a traditional way, I used towels and layed it on top and used my steam iron gently.  Will have to find a space and maybe get a blocking board if I make another shawl again.  Since finishing, my mother bought me the Tuesday pattern and yarn for my birthday, its by Erica Knight who we met at the Knitting & Stitching show in Ally Pally.  I loved the Tuesday and am now slowly knitting it – again do sometimes over think the pattern but its a wonderful soft chunky yarn and now trying to just do what the pattern says!

Vogue 1484 – a review

Vogue 1484

I have been busy with quite a few lovely commissions and although have made a few things for myself and Ms T, not had time to post.  Earlier in the year when the Eve Appeal patterns campaign was on I bought Vogue 1484 for Ms T, she love the shape and thought it would be a fun dress to wear.  Decided not to have the sheer top to the dress and chose this fun bandanna fabric with an anti-static lining.


The pattern matching isn’t perfect, this is down to the pattern not lining up along the print and next time I’ll buy an extra half a meter to help.

One tip I would have when fitting a concealed zip is to tack it in before stitching.  I guess I’m picky to finish and always leave in my tacking if it wont be seen, it means I know where the zip will be and it doesn’t shift when sewn.  I found from instagram I’m not alone with this.

Pattern: Vogue 1484

Fabrics: Bandanna print & anti static lining

Pattern description:  Lined dress (fitting through bust) has collar, yoke, princess seams, bias sleeve and armhole binding, slightly shaped hemline and invisible back zip.

Pattern Sizing:  I did make a toile to help with fitting and the pattern did make to size, the princess seams do really make a full bust adjustment so easy to do.

Did it look like the photo/line drawing on the pattern once finished?  Yes.

What did you like or dislike about the pattern?  It was a straight forward, easy make, not using a sheer probably made this so.  I would love to make another using a sheer or lace and if I have time before Christmas will do.  It’s a great party dress.

Did I make  any pattern alterations or design changes?  The only changes I made were for fitting.

Would I sew it again or recommend to others?  Yes, would make again and it is a great well written pattern.  Not for a beginner, but not tricky.

Conclusion:  Ms T loves it and that is all that matters to me.  And with a little cut off fabric managed to make Flo a bandanna to match x




What do you use to thread your sewing machine or to sew on a button?  There are lots of choices available now from basics to organic threads, embroidery to wooly nylon.  As a child I remember my mother using Sylko threads

sylko thread.jog

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although I am sure there were many others, the Sylko iconic reels are what stay in my memory.  For many years, my go to thread was been Gutermann multi purpose.  It’s strong and comes in a huge range of colours and so easily available.  With the popularity of Aurifil threads amongst the quilters I know, thread weights started to be a conversation point, what weight to use piecing and quilting.  Something that when buying just basic multi purpose reels, I had not considered.  I have tried Aurifil and to be perfectly honest have no idea why it is so popular.  The thread snapped and frayed, it was so bad to hand sew with I binned the reel I had been given at a sewing retreat in utter desperation.

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My go to thread now is Epic 120, its super fine and strong and designed for industrial sewing machines (I buy my thread at Macculloch & Wallis purely because it’s so convenient to get to).  The reels are larger than regular thread, with 1000 metres or 5000 cones.  If your machine can not accommodate such a large reel and does not have an additional spool holder that slots to the top of your machine,


one can find reel holders.  I also really like Mara120, although my closest stockest is over an hour to get to and I’m not a click and buy when it comes to fabrics and threads.  Cost wise these threads are also a great option as they are good value for money and a great product to work with.

tre cerchi

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I have just finished a commission where I need to chain stitch shapes into long lengths for shop backdrops and used Tre Cerchi – a 40 weight thread is ‘Sylko’ pure cotton thread.  It sewed beautifully and gave a good top stitch and formed a strong chain in between.

moon overlocking threads

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For my ovelocker I use Moon polyester thread or Wimsew’s over locking thread – the moon is much better, Wimsew is cheaper.  I have in the past used Gutermman regular threads to sew a rolled hem and this worked well.

polyester plastics to plate

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But learning more about plastics leaching into the sea not just from the bottles and disposable plastics, but fibres from our polyester clothes, I am going to try to switch all my threads to cotton or silk.  Have you tried the cotton overlocking threads, what are your experiences with it?  What are your favorite threads?  Are there any downsides to using cotton rather than polyester on an overlocker?


The WI have a campaign to end ‘plastic soup‘ and this is well worth reading.

Slow fashion October

roald dahl

October is #slowfashionoctober

Slow fashion is the deliberate choice to buy better-quality items less often. When purchases are made, they’re environmentally and ethically conscious rather than trend-driven. The garments are durable and lend themselves to repairs, not disposal. Slow fashion is also transparent: Buyers know where their clothes are coming from, and items are often handmade by artisans.

Consider it the “farm to table” of the fashion world.


I have been concerned for a long time about the ethics of fast fashion, firstly my concern over the sprays used on crops and pollutants pumped into the water, secondly the people who make them, especially after the Rana Plaza disaster brought the horrific working conditions to light.  During the summer after being made redundant I took a course called ‘who made my clothes‘, this helped teach me how to discover exactly who had made my clothes and also where the fabrics came from.  It brought up some interesting issues and also challenged those of us who took the course to do research and share what we found.  Some of the companies I wrote to were brilliant, Community Clothing for instance could tell me where the denim fabric came from and the factory who made it.  Me and Em were able to tell me what country the item was made in and the country of origin of the yarns used, Uniqlo didn’t respond to any emails, facebook or twitter questions.

image top left from Ray Stitch and bottom Celia Pym

I have been passionate about buying British quality products for may years and this has now started to become easier, making my own clothes as well helped – slowing consumption.  Although when buying fabrics, it is the fabric content that lead me, be that wool, cotton, linen or mixed fibres.  Thinking cotton was better than viscose or another man-made fibre, not thinking of who grew the fibres, processed them etc.


My goal for this month is to repair and darn a few things, replace a zip in a pair of jeans for my daughter – maybe even teach her how to!  Having said that I’ve never replaced a zip in a pair of jeans.  Go though my wardrobe and if I’ve not worn something, see if it can be altered so I will wear it or donate to charity.  I also have an idea to make a few things, work load dependant.

Are you going to take part in #slowfashionoctober ?  If you’d like to read more about it, pop over to Fringe Association and not just a label.  If you’d like to learn more about slow fashion and more about the impact of fast fashion on people and out planet there are some good resources, this film by Thread is worth watching, as is The true cost.

wash bag – a little jungle fun

At the festival of Quilts in August, my daughter fell in love with this adorable quilting cotton at the Sew Hot stand.  So while buying some outback wife barkcloth for a dress for me, we bought a fat quarter of Bwindi Forest Moutain gorilla in green designed by Katy Tanis for Blend fabrics.  Miss T had decided she wanted a washbag for a university field trip, it needed to have a water proof lining and be large enough to hold all her lotions and potions.  After some thought she drew a shape and asked me to make it, initally I made a calico toile, added a 3 inch gusset and enlarged the shape by 2 inches all around.  This proved to be massive and I cut the inclease to 1 inch – inches easier as I am waiting for my new reading specs to arrive!


I used a water proof fabric I had from my old job, after we cleared the studio – no idea what it is – would have been used to make snow boarding clothes many years ago.  To begin with I quilted the whole fat quarter quite heaverly and then cut out my pieces.  The gusset was cut and I inserted the zip before constructing the bag.  The lining as handsewn in afterwards, as I found that the quickest and easiest way.


Delighted with how it worked and Ms T loves it.


Criss Cross Quilt


I managed to get this quilt made quite quickly given all the work I have on at the moment.  It’s heading to my cousin who is recovering from surgery due to a horrible cancer.  Now she has recovered from the initial surgery, the chemo has begun and I thought a quilt would be something she could curl up under and give some comfort and give her a hug from me even though we live so far apart.


The main fabrics I bought from Janet Claire at The Festival of Quilts, blues are A’s favorite colours to wear and Janet’s fabrics are so lovely – so from a 10′ layer cake of Aubade and a solid dark blue from Doughty’s also bought at FoQ.  After a little indecision,  I chopped into each square and went from there.

Once the quilt top was made I added a border to 2 sides, just to make it a little larger and then found a great cross hatch fabric at Fabrics Galore for the backing.  For the quilting I decided to follow one of the cross lines and ended up using washi tape to have a line to follow.  Five lines of stitching, to mirror the five rows or squares width.  Once I had finished I hand embroiderd a qulit lable and now just need to post it off.



Land Girls

Over the past few weeks I have been working on a costume commission, the dungarees are a pattern based on an original Land Girl overalls.  While sewing I’ve also been watching/listerning to Land Girls on Netflix.

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The pattern I chose has a wonderful story attached, it came from Violet Florence Page’s pattern collection found in a garage in New South Wales – well worth a read.  I will review the pattern at the end of September when I can show the full outfit finished and worn by the actress who commissioned it.

land girl doll

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With war looming ever closer, the British government who wanted to increase the amount of food grown within Britain reformed he land girls in June 1939.  The majority of land girls were already living in the countryside, although over 1/3 came from large cities – must have been quite a shock for some of them and a breath of fresh air.  Lady Denman was their honorary leader, she had been a suffragette and was also the first president of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes.


women’s land army statue at Alrewas, Staffordshire

Truely amazing band of women.