I Put a Spell on You

Linen.  It’s one of my all time favourite fabrics to use.  It’s definitely put a spell on me!  I bought this gorgeous sky and white herringbone linen from Ditto Fabrics in January for a pair of trousers.  Unfortunately they don’t have any left for me to direct you to!  I decided not to use one of my usual patterns with wide legs as I had two in herringbone already. I went with a tapered leg style, number 103 from Burdastyle magazine April 2013.

Burdastyle trousers in sky herringbone linen
Burdastyle trousers in sky herringbone linen

I overlocked all the pieces before working with them as the linen frayed quite badly.  I made the 44, grading up to a 46 from the hip upwards.  I like the pressed pleat down the front and am pretty happy with the shape of the leg, although I might still shorten them a bit.  They’re already 6 cm shorter than the original pattern.

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The tee is a modified Maria Denmark Birgitte tee.   Fabric came in the same parcel from Ditto Fabrics as the linen, it’s a lovely soft navy blue viscose jersey.  For the pattern adjustments, I flared out the sides by 3cm and added a shaped hem.  Then  I cut a back yoke and cut the lower back on the fold with enough to add a small inverted pleat in the centre.  It’s just enough to have a bit more movement.

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Inverted pleat, back yoke and shirt shaped hem

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But I wasn’t happy with just one pair of trousers.  Oh no, I had to order plain blue navy linen from Fabworks Online to make another pair to wear with patterned (striped) tees!

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One more pair please!

Worn here with my self drafted cowl drape tee, this is exactly why I made the plain pants!  I realise I hadn’t gone into any detail about this tee, you saw it first back in January with my first pair of Birkin Flares.  I’ve not worn it until now, but it’s going into my suitcase next week, along with the blue trousers.  Both pairs of trousers and the blue tee form part of my “Sew Seasonal Wardrobe” for the Summer.

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Got to have decent pockets..
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Looks like I’m having a definite colour theme this year!

The tee is from my tee shirt block, I’d made the cowl drape pattern back in November last year to make something to wear to the dreaded wedding.  This is the same pattern, but with short sleeves.  The jersey is really something, also from Ditto Fabrics and from the same parcel as the blue jersey and sky herringbone linen!  Of all the fabric I ordered on that occasion from Ditto Fabrics, I have nothing left to find its way into my stash.  Nothing but scraps, it’s all been made up now!  Yippee!  Now what to make with the left-over bits…

 

No Sewing, Plenty of Shopping!

Well, not no sewing at all, but I haven’t got much to report right now as I have no photos! I have a blue viscose tee and blue and white herringbone Burda trousers and a new pair of gorgeous Birkin Flares.  But nowhere to be seen.  What I can show you though, is fabric shopping….

My favourite annual fabric shopping opportunity happened this week, Sewing for Pleasure at the NEC.  I always go on the Thursday, the first day.  You get the best picks first thing on day one!  I went prepared, a wad of cash in my wallet that was all I was allowed to spend and two large carrier bags in which to stuff my purchases.   I was meeting with an ex-student whom I hadn’t seen in about 2 years, so it was going to be a good day!  We had a fabulous time catching up and buying pretty things.

I started at Rosenberg & Son – the only place to start.  As usual there was a crowd 3 people deep all trying to get access to the front to feel and grab precious bolts of fabrics.  Some people have sharp elbows…  Anyway, once I finally reached my destination I bought 2.5m of floral printed twill for a friend (who’s making a dress), 1.2m of blue and white geometric print John Kaldor viscose jersey and and 2.5m of the prettiest green and blue parasol print poplin.  My plans for the jersey is to turn it into a tee of some sort – no idea which pattern just yet.  The parasol print will be the trousers from the pantsuit in the plus size section of the April issue of Burdastyle magazine.  It’s going to look good on the beach next month!!

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First purchases from Rosenberg, Viscose jersey, print twill & print poplin

From there I found Doughty’s.  All 2-3 stalls.  Why so many? Anyways, one of their stalls had a majority of quilting cottons, the others had a mixture of good fabrics, including a decent selection of ex-designer fabrics like Paul Smith.  I bought a metre of pretty navy and white seaside print cotton to make baby things for a friend’s soon to be born little girl.  February’s issue of Burdastyle has some really cute patterns for baby clothes.

Collage seaside print
Seaside print cotton from Doughty’s Fabrics

They always have lots of lovely fabrics, this time I managed to buy from two of the stalls.  On 2 different trips I bought 2 metres of washed linen in grey and white (looks like a cotton & linen blend) and 1.2m of black and white stripe viscose jersey.  I have a pretty good idea the linen will become a pair of floppy trousers, although a friend suggested an unlined jacket, and the jersey is destined to be a tee.  Again, pattern undecided.

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Linen & viscose jersey from Doughty’s

 

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Montreux Fabrics

I found a new fabric store at the show this time, Montreux Fabrics.  They haven’t got their website up and running just yet but they did have plenty of gorgeous fabrics! I particularly enjoyed rummaging through the “remnant” baskets.  Their selection of jersey fabrics was really good.  I ended up only buying 2 pieces, 1.8m of plain blue viscose jersey, again it’ll be a tee of some sort, and 1.4m of white viscose jersey that’s destined for Del.

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Beautiful blue jersey from Montreux fabrics

Just when I thought I’d done all my buying, daughter No2 turned up!  My friend wanted to go back to Rosenberg’s so we tagged along.  Bad decision!  Or maybe not.  Two more pieces of fabric were added to my bags!  Daughter no 2 liked a piece of Liberty lawn for a vintage blouse and then fell for a large floral print stretch cotton for another blouse.  I will wait for her to come home for the Easter hols to pick the exact patterns she wants.

Collage r and s
Cotton prints from Rosenberg & Son

I killed a little time at the Bernina stand, I still wouldn’t swap either of my old machines for one of them.  The overlockers look even more involved than mine!  I looked at the coverstitch though, it has three needles and costs a mere £599.  To sew hems….  Twin needles are much cheaper!

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Overlockers at the Bernina stand

I browsed the patterns stands, picked up one Burda trouser patterns but on the whole I left the commercial patterns alone.

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Looking out bargains at Doughty’s, Interesting print choice & lots of commercial patterns

So all in all it was a pretty fabulous day.  My wallet was empty, feet only a little sore and fabric bags full!  It was all so worth it and I have plenty to sew in the next 4 weeks!

 

 

 

 

 

True Love

Moar linen trousers for me!
Moar linen trousers for me!

Linen trousers mean summer time to me.  I have said it before, and I will definitely be saying it again!  When everyone else is reaching for skirts and shorts, I’m swanning about in my long, wide linen trousers.  So here’s to true love, & making yet another pair of linen trousers – another version of one of my favourite ever Burda patterns, 116 from March 2004.  I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I’ve used this pattern, in both summer and winter weight fabrics.  The last one I made was this indigo and white pair in herringbone linen blend from Fabric Godmother last year.

So I thought I’d make another.  This time I’ve got the most beautiful natural linen herringbone from Ditto Fabrics.  The second I saw the fabric on the website I added 2 m to my basket.  I didn’t even need to think about it. I might have added some other colours to my basket while I was at it.  But that’s for another day.

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The pattern was cut and made in a day, for me this pattern is so quick to make, even when making sure details line up properly.  I love the shape of the hip yoke pockets and the way they intersect with the shaped back yoke.  There is no waistband on these trousers, but for that, they fit beautifully at the low waist/high hip.  This is the second of my makes for my Sew Seasonal Wardrobe and will oh so definitely be packed in my suitcase for our holiday next month.

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The intersection of the shaped pocket (left) and the back yoke (right) at the side seam.

Mr Compulsive and I will be spending 3 weeks in South Africa next month and I cannot wait!  It’s been 5 years since our last visit and I am very keen to see friends and family again.  My suitcase will be a bit empty going out, I’ll need the extra space for the return!  Hopefully I’ll be making a few fabric purchases & I will be looking for more vintage atterns to add to my collection.  I also hope we can find some mid-century modern goodies to bring back.  Top on the list are glass and ceramics, but we’ll look at anything!  Considering the last time we returned with a 1m tall African drum, and the time before we had a 2x3m rug over our shoulder, nothing is beyond the realms of impossibilities.

Collage trousers 116
Details

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New Burda linen trousers worn with white Maria Denmark Birgitte tee and Burda linen jacket
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This is my “Bloody hell it’s freezing, have you got enough photos yet?” pose.

Is anyone else firing ahead on sewing for a yet to come summer/winter?

Starting my Seasonal Sewing

With my sewing plans all laid out for easy viewing, I decided pretty quickly on what I wanted to start with.  It will come as a surprise to you that it is neither a Burda pattern, nor a self-drafted one!  In fact, what I wanted to start with wasn’t even a piece of fabric that had made it onto the pile this year, nevermind the season. So much for not getting distracted!!

I’d given in to purchasing the Merchant & Mills workbook after seeing a couple of items online that I liked (and a couple I wasn’t entirely sure of).  I checked images and some blog posts, looking at some of the reviews of the book itself, not just individual patterns.  The one thing I couldn’t see was the sizes the book catered for.  They state the patterns go to size 18 and I managed to find some published photos of some sort of measurements, but they were never clear enough to see exactly what they were.  I thought I’d take a gamble & get it anyway, figuring if it wasn’t going to work for me I could always sell it.

I rather liked the wrap top, called Heron.  Wrap tops don’t always work terribly well on fuller busted figures.  I’d seen this post while conducting my research and figured if it worked on this lady, it wouldn’t look too terrible on me!  I also decided on a linen to make it in.  Deep in the fabric cupboard, in the linens box, languished a beautiful, light weight, warm grey linen.  This is one of those pieces that has a slight sheen to it, no slubs and the most perfect smooth texture.  It’s been hanging around for about 8 years, too gorgeous to make just any old thing from, but perfect for the Heron top.

Warm grey lightweight linen for the Heron
Warm grey lightweight linen for the Heron

The book arrived and was immediately devoured.  There are patterns I will make, others that I shudder at.  The overall asthetic is a bit arty teacher who doesn’t own an iron, but each to his/her own!  I did spot a problem though.  On each pattern page there is a helpful table of finished measurements, diagrams of pattern pieces, fabric requirements etc.  Nowhere could I find a size table. Nowhere.  Please tell me what the point is of providing finished measurements when you have no starting point??

I checked the Merchant and Mills website, perhaps it was there on the patterns you buy individually..  Nope, only finished measurements.  In frustration I googled “size table for merchant & mills patterns” which lead me to a PDF I could download and lo and behold, sizes!!  Am I going on too much about this? Perhaps, but it annoyed me that it wasn’t in the book.

Apart from that, this isn’t going to be a review of the whole book, I have only made one pattern so far!!  From the size table and finished measurements of the Heron I chose the 18 & made a toile in a lightweight calico.  I wasn’t worried too much about the fit in this exercise, but the look.  Sometimes wrap tops feel too enveloping and claustrophobic.  It seemed ok but I needed to make the ties longer, much longer!

Toiling the Heron from Merchant & Mills
Toiling the Heron from Merchant & Mills

The patterns are easy to trace, nothing like the Burda mazes.  Markings are shown with little rectangles and seam allowances are shown as notches.  Most are the standard 1.5cm but on this pattern the side seams are 2cm to allow the armhole openings to appear neater when topstitched.  It’s a really easy pattern to make, not taking long at all.  I used Gill Arnold’s fine sheer polyester interfacing on the front facing and shawl collar piece, this gave the fabric just enough body.  The ties were short for me, I lengthened the short, left piece by 10cm and added that length to the right piece.

I had it finished just in time to wear to Daughter No1’s graduation ceremony in Birmingham at the beginning of September.  I wore it with a plain white Marks & Spencer tee underneath and my pale linen trousers made just before I went on holiday.  After lots and lots of sitting during the day, here it is just before lunch…

Merchant and Mills Heron Wrap Top
Merchant and Mills Heron Wrap Top
Mr W, Daughter No1 & myself after the graduation ceremony.
Mr W, Daughter No1 & myself after the graduation ceremony.

I had thought it would look pretty good with a longer sleeved tee underneath, I think black, grey or white would work pretty well, so the next item to be made from the table of goodies was an off white viscose jersey.  I chose the Maria Denmark Brigitte tee, bought with a birthday discount.  A standard tee, nothing fancy, I chose the 3/4 slightly trumpet shaped sleeves and v-neckline.  It needed an FBA to fit across the bust but otherwise was just fine.  This is the first time I’ve made a Maria Denmark pattern for myself, & I’m hoping to use the sleeves from this pattern for the Day to Night Drape top.

Maria Denmark Birgitte in off white viscose jersey
Maria Denmark Birgitte in off white viscose jersey

Putting the Heron & Brigitte together works fabulously well, and even better with my wide legged black linen Burda trousers!

P1120934-1P1120923-1P1120917-1Ok, I know it could be longer, especially in the front, and Kimono sleeves always look funny on the fuller busted, so I don’t think I’d get it too much better than this.  But I’ve worn this top a few times now and can’t really complain about anything.  It also irons really well, & with linen that’s a massive bonus!

P1120926-1P1120915-1That’s the Brigitte tee sticking out, I like these sleeves very much, and may only change the length of the body of the tee.  For me I feel it’s just a wee bit too long, around 5cm or so could easily be lost from the length.  I do want to make anther tee to wear with this top, one with long, tighter fitting sleeves, probably in black.  I might also make another Heron top!  I found, buried deep in the ironing basket, a piece of dark grey wool with a fine mustard/gold pinstripe that would look fabulous in this pattern!  (Heaven knows where – or when – I got that fabric!)

Two out of 21 there, my next project was already chosen!  Here’s a glimpse…

Wrap Jacket #117 Burdastyle 09/2015
Wrap Jacket #117 Burdastyle 09/2015

More wrapping, we’ll see whether it works on my frame or not!

Shatta-Proof!

Burda trousers and tee
Burda trousers and tee

More stuff to show you all!  I’ve made another pair of linen trousers – no, you cannot have too many, they’re like shoes and handbags, didn’t you know??  This time I used a khaki linen from Fred Winter’s in Stratford on Avon and cut another TNT Burda pattern, 102 from July 2008 magazine.  This pattern needs no adjustments other than to shorten it by 4 cm, perfect!!

Burda 102 from 07/2008
Burda 102 from 07/2008

The linen is great, a soft, medium weight that won’t get all crunchy and crisp after it’s washed.  As the overlocker was still out from the last pair I zoomed round all the pieces leaving everything nice and neat.  It’s a really quick pattern for me, they were done and dusted in a day.  They have a straight cut leg and angular pocket, just simple trousers really!

shatta collageApologies for the creases, I decided to wear them before photographing could take place, and we all know linen loves to wrinkle.  I must learn not to “wear” my makes before showing them off!

To go with them I thought I had to make another of the Burda tees I made in the blue Ikat jersey.  I had 1 metre of “shatta” jersey from Fabric Godmother which, although it’s all madly patterned and in a lot of colours I don’t wear, I liked it.  It looks great with these trousers and I’ve tried it with darker ones too, with positive results!

wpid-dsc_20150615143947881-01.jpegI took no chances with the stretch though, ironing Vilene bias tape to every single neckline and sleeve opening edge.  This jersey drapes beautifully, is soft and light and was not going to be allowed to get away with being naughty.  The stabilisation worked a treat, although I may have overdone it a bit, the stock of bias tape has been much depleted.

Lots and lots of Vilene bias tape to stabilise all the stretchy areas
Lots and lots of Vilene bias tape to stabilise all the stretchy areas

I like it so much I’m tempted to order a metre of the blue version in the same jersey!

DSC00075-1I have at least 2 more pairs of trousers to make up, in linen of course, but I need to get cracking with Daughter No2’s prom dress first!  If you follow me on Instagram you’d have seen my toile progress so far, and I think it’s looking good!  So watch this space, sometime before the 3rd July there’ll be a (hopefully) gorgeous dress to show you all.

Classic Indigo & White for the Summer

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Cracking on with sewing for me, I’ve been on a real binge!  I cut out two pieces of linen for trousers, one a khaki linen from Fred Winter’s in Stratford on Avon, and the other the most beautiful blue and white slubby herringbone from Fabric Godmother.  I couldn’t avoid buying the herringbone, the minute I spotted it online I just had to have it, and I knew exactly what I wanted it for!

Bringing out my tried and tested Burda trouser patterns, it had to be my favourite wide swooshy style, 116 from Burdastyle magazine 3/2004.  I made a bit of a boob though, and I hang my head in shame…  You can only buy whole metres from Fabric Godmother, and this pattern calls for 2.2m  You need that extra length because of the width of the trouser pieces, especially in the larger sizes.  There is no way to get them pieces next to each other.  So knowing I had 20cm less, you’d have thought I’d be really careful in cutting out.

Well, I put the fabric on my cutting table, which is shorter than 2m, so I carefully folded the piece that would otherwise have draped off the end, and proceeded to place the back, pocket pieces, facings, yoke & zip underlap in the space next to that piece.  Then I happily cut it all out.  Then I moved the folded fabric to the centre of the table and unfolded it.  You can guess what happened next, can’t you…  There wasn’t enough length left to cut the front.  I think my cries of anguish could have been heard in the fields surrounding our little town.  Then came the sound of me trying really hard to kick myself in the butt.  Man I was cross, what a TWIT!  A cup of tea and lots of deep breathing later I decided to wing it.  I couldn’t buy another 2 metres just because I was so unrelentingly dumb that day!

I decided I’d have to piece the front, with the join as low down on the leg as possible to minimise anyone noticing.  I hoped that the vertical pattern in the weave of the fabric would make it less obvious that there was a horizontal line where you didn’t expect to see one.  I marked a 1cm seamline and on the paper marked the position of a dominant “stripe” in the weave to line up with.  Once the main piece was cut I moved the paper over and cut the remaining 25cm, lining up those markers.  Then it was just a question of pinning really carefully to ensure the patterns and stripes lined up as perfectly as possible.

The zip underlap is nicely shaped and has the button fastening attached.
The zip underlap is nicely shaped and has the button fastening attached.

For the construction I overlocked around everything pretty quickly as the fabric was rather prone to fraying.  Because the weave is loose and the fibres slubby, this cotton and linen blend frayed more and quicker than a “normal” linen.  I took my time lining up the pattern on the lower leg, and I think it’s worked out pretty well, I have to look for the horizontal line, so I don’t think anyone else will notice it when I’m out and about!

The back shaped yoke, makes for good fitting!
The back shaped yoke, makes for good fitting!

I do love this pattern, the way the yoke fits in the hollow of the back is perfect and this is the one pair that doesn’t pull down in the back, unlike all my other trousers.  One thing I’ve noticed after wearing them for a day, as the fabric is a little on the heavier side, I could probably take the width of the legs in a bit.

Detail of the intersecting lines of the front hip yoke pockets and the back yoke and the seam taped hem.
Detail of the intersecting lines of the front hip yoke pockets and the back yoke and the seam taped hem.

They’re also pretty long.  I have already shortened the pattern in the leg by 6cm but I think I need to take the hem up another 1.5 to 2cm.  Which would be a bit of a pain, because I decided to support the inside of the hem against being rubbed by shoes and the ground by stitching in a piece of seam tape to the inside of the hem.  So before taking it up more I’d have to unpick the tape.

Another tnt Burda pattern.  I know I'll make more.
Another tnt Burda pattern. I know I’ll make more.

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wpid-dsc_0689-02.jpegBut I luuuurve them!  What I will need now is a white tee or two, I have plenty of blue ones! Tia Dia posted 3 tees she’s made recently, I’m quite tempted to use some of the patterns she’s tried as they look so good!

Sewing double – twice!

Bellatrix the Fourth
Bellatrix the Fourth

April for the Monthly Stitch sewists is “Sewing Double” month.  We all have those tried & tested patterns that we have no problem running up quickly, loving the fit, style, etc.  My favourite pattern this year just has to be Papercut Pattern’s Bellatrix Blazer.

This is the fourth incarnation – and most certainly will not be the last!  The fabric is a gorgeous pistachio-y green medium weight linen that was part of my haul at the Sewing for Pleasure 2 weeks ago at the NEC.  It was going to make a vintage bolero to go with an early 50s sundress I’m making but….  I miscalculated the conversion from yards to metres.  I bought 1m but should have got just 20cm more and it would have worked.  Never mind, as you can see, Daughter No2 is pretty pleased I cannot do Imperial to save my life.  As usual, she’s come out the winner!

DSC07857-1Only one problem, 1m is barely enough for Bellatrix.  I had to cut the sleeves on the cross-grain to fit them in & had to forgo the matching facing pieces on the peplum thingie.  I had toyed with the idea of doing some contrast fabric for the welt strips and the front that forms the outer collar, but it would have restricted the number of outfits Daughter No2 could have paired it with.

DSC07854-1The lining…  I did say at the end of the last post with those MAD trousers that the lining in the jacket would look familiar  🙂  I used almost the rest of the handpainted cotton for 90% of the lining for the jacket, the exception being the sleeves.  I dug out some left-over bremsilk for the sleeves.

DSC07859-1I used Gill Arnold‘s fine sheer polyester fusible on the linen peplum pieces, the front & facing front & on the back above the shoulder blades & into the armholes.  For extra structure on the shawl collar I used a fusible canvas, also from Gill.  If you’re going to use a stiff interfacing like this, make sure you remove the seam allowance – you do not want that bulk in your seam!

Interfacing , front & undercollar and the back
Interfacing , front & undercollar and the back

As usual, the whole thing went together really quickly, and..  I have fixed the sleevehead vs armhole issue!  YAY!  The answer (for me anyway) was to raise the sleevehead 1cm, keep more of the height on the front than the back, and merge the extra into the existing shape at the front & back notches.  I forgot to take a photo to show what I mean, but next time I’ll put up a picture.  This adjustment has now finally worked, the last time I didn’t leave enough height on the front, so it was still a little short when fitted into the armhole.

DSC07852-1The sleeve fits really well now, and there is plenty of movement without the drag lines that appeared on the previous versions.  So, there it is, four Bellatrix blazers since the start of the year.  I have some pinstripe cashmere blend wool that I think will be enough to make another – that can wait a little though, I have a feeling another couple of linen or cotton canvas blazers are lurking in my near future! How many times have you used one pattern?

DSC07858-1Three blazers

Three blazers

Clockwise, left to right: le Bellatrix Blazer français, Curtains for Bellatrix and Bellatrix III

I have another “sewing Double” project to be getting on with this month, so bye for now, I have silk chiffon to cut up!  🙂

Post Excitement

Isn’t it fab when sewing goodies arrive in the post?  It’s exciting when something you’ve ordered appears in the posite’s hand, but when it’s something you’ve been waiting for, and don’t even know what’s in there, it’s even better!  I participated in TJ‘s One cool thing / One strange thing swap this month and my randomly selected sender of fabric goodness was Jeyco, although I didn’t know who’d I’d got until the stuff arrived!  So the parcel with Japanese stamps on was squealed over – big time!!

Here’s what was inside:

Liberty print cottons from Jeyco   Blue paisley print Liberty cotton, 0.6m;  Beige and turquoise Liberty print cotton, 2m;
Gingham silk and Japanese Pattern  Lime green silk gingham, 1.2m;    
Madly colourful print: Orange, green and yellow print fabric, 2m.

This is what Jeyco thought was the coolest item in the package, and I have to agree with her, although I thought the sewing pattern was a pretty close second and the silk, and the cottons….  So what to do with all this stuff???  That green gingham is going to find its way into a jacket, I was thinking of a grey linen jacket, and to have that silk to line it would be loverly!

The Libertys, I thought the blue would line a cropped navy linen jacket I have on the go at the moment, and the turquoise and beige is going to be a blouse/top.  It’s so pretty!  I stood no chance with this mad print, the moment Daughter No 2 saw it she wanted it!!  I’m feeling a 60’s dress….  Such excitement over the post!

Now to find the time..  there wasn’t any of that in the parcel!  Thank you so much TJ for organising this little swap, and Jeyco for sending me all cool stuff!