Vintage coat in progress

And so, six months after my gruelling battle to win this beauty of a pattern, work has begun, in earnest. When I was bidding the for pattern, I had the finished coat, clearly in mind and so to be faced with 19 pattern pieces and the usual vague set of instructions, the fear set in.


I’ve made a jacket or two, I’ve even tackled the wicked welts. So what was I afraid of? Doing it justice, I think. If I was going to go to the bother of making a coat – not just any old coat, but the coat of my nightly dreams since battle was won – I needed the right fit, the right fabric, the finest construction, let alone the neatest bound buttonholes. (Something I hadn’t yet conquered !)

I live near fabric heaven, The Goldhawk Road. And so finding the right fabric should have been easy, right? Easy enough when your expectations aren’t stationed on the moon! I searched high and low and eventually found this amazingly eccentric fabric, online at ‘Fabric Dreams‘. Quite apt, really! I initially had tangerine wool in mind so I ordered a few different free samples and then sat under the letterbox for all of 4 days!

When they did arrive, it was a no-brainer. Even though the fabulous, firey fabric was 100% not wool (and not just tangerine, but an entire fruitbowl of colours) and the others were, it screamed at me to be given a chance and so I agreed to put it centre stage. After all, if I was ever going to go to the bother of making a coat, there’s no way I wanted it to go unnoticed, oh no!

I even made a toile. Just the body section. And this confirmed my need to loose some circumference. I had my suspicions that the coat would be a little big, and it was, but was worried I’d loose the nipped in shape if I took it in at the top and let it out at the waist (the usual Ooobop sausage-shape adjustment!). So with some careful measuring, re-measuring, a little panicking and some more measuring, I took out half an inch, vertically, all the way down, from each of the front and back pieces. So as not to affect the silhouette of the design. Incidentally, like a good girl, I had pre-traced all the pieces!

And then to cut the real fabric. Ooooo the suspense, the fear, the excitement! The pieces are massive. I know I will eventually chop off about 6 inches but I wanted to start long so I could make that decision later. But that did mean I had to cut out on the floor. My kitchen table just ain’t big enough! And that, in turn, meant I had to wash the floor… doh! Always something to hamper a plan! Still took three roll outs of the fabric and continual shooing of cats.


Honestly, why do they insist on laying where I’m cutting? It’s not like there’s no other piles of fabric in the house!

Cat on fabric

An hour and a pair of stiff legs later, I had a wonderful pile of cut pieces. It’s quite tricky to cut though the ‘corded’ texture but it doesn’t fray.

Yesterday I sewed the main body sections and oooed and arrred as I steamed those seams open. For all it’s 100% not woolness, it presses beautifully. And I haven’t had to clip any curves either.

pressed seams

It was getting late last night and I did hesitate to start on the bound buttonholes but knew my dreams would be sweeter if I at least had a go. So I tried a few tester ones on some scrap fabric using the instructions on the pattern sheet. They were rubbish! So I went to YouTube to find someone who’d show me how. They were rubbish too! And then I remembered Karen’s fabulous Ebook download which proved to be the perfect method and I’d even go as far as saying I loved doing them!

bound buttonholesbound buttonholes reverse

Practising those stood me in good stead for making the welt pockets too!

welt pocketsPretty camouflaged huh?! Thats without the invisible stitching which is yet to be done. I’ll be fishing around for ages trying to find a way in, when it’s finished properly!

I pondered for ages, wondering what kind of collar I should have. Should it be the big dramatic scalloped one? One of the self same fabric to keep it simple or a little furry shawl collar? I opted for the latter, after going round in circles. Mostly in the shower!

Faux fur is fast running out in the Goldhawk Road. The good stuff anyway. I’m told by reliable sources that no more will be ordered as summer stock will soon be on it’s way! So I was well chuffed to find this short pile, soft-as-you-like, faux fur. Works a treat.

faux fur collarThough I’ve made fantastic headway this weekend, there is still a lot of work to be done. The sleeves, the length, the hem, the lining and the facing behind the buttonholes. But it will be worth it I’m sure. I can feel those sub zeros honing in over the next few weeks but hey, bring ’em on. I’m going to be snug as some bugs!


Basket of Flowers quilt block revisited

basket of flowers quilt block

It’s been a very long time since I sewed a quilt block! Almost a year to be precise! But hey, I’m not going to beat myself up about it!

This is the 24th block I’ve created to date and it’s another version of the Basket of Flowers design, which I make first time round here.

I much prefer the pretty fabrics in this block but I wasn’t so hot on those points!

It doesn’t pay to have a long break from quilting. I am so out of practice and I could easily have made another pair of pj’s in the time it took me to put this little fella together.

I’ve acquired some extra tools in the meantime… a quilting ruler, a new rotary cutter and a larger self-healing cutting mat. Can’t imagine how much longer still, it would have taken without those!

Incidentally, do not ever place your cutting mat on your ironing board, lest you forget that rubber and hot irons aren’t the best of friends! I came to my senses at the crucial moment!

Block Facts:

Name: ‘Basket of Flowers’ or ‘Lily Basket’ or ‘Flower Basket’
History: This design was ideally suited to the dress and feedsack prints of 1930s America, where it was a particular favourite
Level: Set in seams require experience.
No. of pieces: 13

Progress report:

Block 1: The Double Four Patch
Block 2: The Whirlwind
Block 3: The Sailboat
Block 4: The Shoo-fly
Block 5: The Trafalgar
Block 6: The Windmill
Block 7: The Chequer Square
Block 8: The Diamond Square
Block 9: The Cactus Pot
Block 10: The Sawtooth Star
Block 11: To come!
Block 12: The Windmill Sails block
Block 13: The Basket of Flowers block
Block 14: Susannah
Block 15: Road to Oklhahoma
Block 16: Chequer Star
Block 17: Nelson’s Victory
Block 18: Fair and Square
Block 19: Diamond Pinwheel
Block 20: Whirligig
Block 21: Old Maid’s Puzzle
Block 22: Whirlwind Square
Block 23: Windblown Square
Block 24: Basket of Flowers block revisited

Mini Stanley Pyjamas

Mini stanley pyjamas

Little Miss Ooobop has been hassling me for a pair of PJs for so long, bless her. So yesterday, we set off for the Goldhawk Road to track down the very specific ‘cats and dogs’ fabric that she wanted. But of course, the shops were shut. It was New Years Day, after all! In order to relieve the disappointment (me more than her), we drove off, instead, to get a burger and watch a movie!

Now as luck would have it, for all that was closed in Chiswick High Road, Cath Kidston was open! Like some shining apparition amidst the rainy gloom! And there was a sale on. So we duly picked out some Mini Stanley fabric. No cats but very cute dogs!

Cath Kidston mini stanley pjs by the window

I used this vintage Maudella pattern. It’s not dated but could be 1950s if not 1960s. What would you say?


I’m still working on convincing LMO to have the matching top to the bottoms but I don’t think a 9 year old can see past the ‘fogey’ images on the pattern sleeve!

I dutifully traced the one pattern piece. This is something I make a habit of nowadays. Just purely out of the respect for a tissue pattern piece that has happily existed for between 50-70 years. I don’t want to be the one who destroys that amount of history!

So including the careful ironing of the pieces, the tracing, the cutting, the making and the finishing touches, it took all of 2 hours. This is largely down to the magic of my new, though very old, overlocker, which was so generously bestowed upon me just before Christmas. I didn’t realise what the implications of having one were, until all the seams were serged and the hem edges neatly finished in a jiffy!

detail of overlocked seams

I am still going to have to work on the fine tunings of the tensions but it will so totally do me for now!

reading a book in mini stanley pjs

LMO has spent the rest of the afternoon in her new PJs and I’m delighted to have completed my first project on just day 2 of the New Year. Here’s hoping its the first of many more projects to come.

jumping in mini stanley pjs

Happy New Year lovely people x

Photography by DJ Photographic

ooobop! review: Burda Style January 2014

Burda Style Mag January 2014

I had secretly planned to make the December 2013 issue of Burda, my last review. It takes an age to put together. And if I’m ever to make a new years resolution, it must be to claim back more time for more sewing. But it proved to be a rubbish plan. And it appears that I am indeed a love-struck addict of  all that is Burda Style magazine!

So here I duly kick off with some snuggly 2014 fashions of the faux furry kind…

faux fur burda Jan 2014

As much as I want to, I can’t possibly  dive into one of these projects. My pattern is traced, my fabric ordered and delivered and my instructions await for a vintage 50s masterpiece. I just need some time… and space! Boy will the pinned pattern pieces take up a whole of the living room floor!

Have well and proper earmarked that little furry cropped jacket, though (above, bottom, left) . I can totally see myself in it! (innit!)

Happy New Year is the next section. Reporting a bit late for a New Years Eve number but really some goodies here for any party any time… or just any time really!

party clothes burda January 2014

Loving the batwing waterfall top (1st row, 2nd col) which comes with an ‘easy to sew’ verification. I’ve just got a few tension issues to sort on my newly inherited overlocker and I am well on my way to knocking a few of these beauties out, I tell ya!

The o-so-cute bustier (bottom row, col 1) is a fabulous party separate. In a quality shiny black, it would rescue any old skirt or trouser in a jiffy. But it would be exceedingly traitorous of me to detract from the Georgia dress before I’d even started!

Another ‘easy’ option is the cerise one-shoulder dress (row 2, col 2). Big attention seeking effect incorporating scant sewing time equals massive win!

Now I’m forever trying to stray from all that is monochrome. It doesn’t make for a very colourful blog, for one. But how can I ever move on when such striking temptation is blatently bowled in my general direction?

black and white burda january 2014

I love the neat mod look, I love the fat stripes of that jacket in the first pic and I love how the skinny stripes behave in the long sleeved jersey shirt. Some interesting points of gathering to achieve all that psychedelia! Thinking this may well be a job for my overlocker too!

Now even if I hated each and every one of this issues patterns (which I don’t, obvs), I would pay double the cover price. Double I tell ya! Just to get this Master piece pattern of ultimate gorgeousness….

aquilano rimondi dress

Such a flatering shape. I love the neck. I love the colour. I love the contrasting leather. I will make this dress. At some point!

Now I’m not really one for fancy dress. But Burda certainly does us proud each and every time there’s an excuse for dress-up. No exception with this months selection of saloon characters, superheroes and exotic animals from the jungle, the sea and even the circus! Take your pick. Creative costuming for the whole fam!

role play burda jan 2014

And if mermaids and snakes don’t do it for you then feast your eyes on all that is classy and plus size.

plus fashion burda jan 2014Burda love a bit of Asiatic influence and I’m personally loving the black and the red (obvs) but I’ll leave the rest of the commentary to you, my lovelies.

Here’s hoping that 2014 buys us all some more precious time to sew some more wonderful creations. Love and luck and the very best of health to you all. Now go party your lil sock off!! xxx

My lovely secret Santa

It takes a special ornament, outside of the colour scheme of ‘no colour at all’ to earn a place on my tree. Yes I hands up to being a total control freak. Especially where my tree is concerned! They know the rules: No toilet roll decorations, no horrid coloured ornaments, and abolutely no tinsel! They respond by ceremoniously gaffa-taping Teddy Crap-Crap to the top of the tree. Teddy Crap-Crap is a rubbish, moth-eaten, hand-knitted teddy in all the rubbish colours of a wrong rainbow. He is as far removed from a fashionista fairy that you can get. They put him at the top where I can’t reach and for all my neighbours to see and point and laugh. I am mostly not amused!

But. Despite my rules of white and glass and glitter and feathers only, this year my Secret Santa gifted me the most thoughtful decoration ever.

secret santa pompom

On first inspection a lovingly hand made red pompom. On a closer second look, a lovely red pompom adorned with buttons and on asking all the right questions I get to find out that all the buttons have been lovingly hand-picked from Taylors, a 100 year old button shop in the heart of the West End of London. They are mostly vintage, 1940’s and 50s glass buttons with a couple of gilt filagree ones thrown in for good measure.

Secret Santa was amazed that I’d never heard of Taylors. I have to say, I actually, really don’t get out much. But now I know about them, They will be hearing from me, I can tell you!

If you can’t make it to the shop, you can order online, but if you just want some virtual shop therapy check out this slide show of photos from the shop. I don’t know how but it takes me there in a real floaty wannabe way!

Now I’d like to ask Secret Santa if she perhaps wove some catnip into this pompom, because Pants the cat is seriously in love with it too!

Pants the cat with pompomHe even did that funny face that boy cats (big cats included) do when they pick up on scent! What’s all that about?!

pants the cat picking up scent

Well, I have to say, its hugely unlikely that I will get a mo to post between now and the big day, so I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all the most wonderful of Christmas wishes and of course the biggest thanks for being part of my ever growing family of fellow sewers and supporters. I love you all xxxxx

A festive full circle

Tartan full circle skirt

Here’s a little something that wasn’t on my mahoosive Christmas to do list! So it’s a small miracle that it’s being blogged here and now. Each and every year at around about this time, I say out loud, over and over that next year I will start earlier with Christmas prep: do my accounts in September, the Christmas presents in October, get the cards sent in November and not take on quite so much work so I can ease in gently and revel in the lead up! Perhaps next year I might take note.

So with all this month’s stressy stuff going on, how on earth did I get it together to make anything new? I stole sleep. Robbed it, right from under my own nose. Three whole precious hours. Doesn’t sound like much in the grand scheme of things but when you are only averaging about five to six as it is, the motive would have to have been significantly necessary. Well I did need an outfit for the office lunch!

tartan circle skirt

I’d like to say it was an impulse make but to be honest I spend a lot of time dreaming about what I want to make so when I eventually get round to making it, it feels like I’ve made it before, at least 4 or 5 times in my head!

I love the Westwood/punk/vintage/rockabilly vibe of tartan. I know that it has deeper, traditional roots and I even have some distant Scottish blood so it feels highly appropriate and very festive!

tartan circle skirt

The skirt is self-drafted full circle with a waistband and lapped zipper. I didn’t line it and chose, instead to finish the insides with Hong Kong seams and a bias finished hem. I feel slightly guilty for machining the hem but I think that’s a small price to exchange for some shut-eye! I’m wearing a tiered organza petticoat underneath. Just one layer. Just to give it a bit of poof!

twirling in tartan circle skirtAnd I went for a shorter length this time. I’ve recently been hooked on below the knee pencil skirts so this 17 incher feels much more party like. Just had to be ready for any embarrassing fashion blunders in this blustery weather.

Tartan was most definitely the right fabric for the job.
The drape is perfect.
It doesn’t need lining.
Its a dream to sew.
Bit fraying but with quick work and seam binding , that’s not really an issue.
It doesn’t crease
Its totally machine washable.
It only took a metre . . .
. . . and only cost a fiver!

tartan circle skirtI didn’t have too much trouble lining up the horizontal patterns but if I allowed a bit more time I could have evened up the design at the sides a bit more. I did however leave it to hang for the statutory 24 hours before trimming and hemming. I know how worth it that bit is now!

I can’t see me getting anything else sewn this side of Christmas, unfortunately. I simply have no idea how I thought I might have chance to finish my coat. The muslin is made and I know what adjustments I need to make but the fabric is going to be looking longingly at me for a few weeks more, I think.

So in the meantime I will just have to resign to the wardrobe what is and twirl in my new tartan . . . while I’m running around like a headless chicken!

tartan circle skirtThanks as always to the fabulous Daniel Selway for his tireless photography favours.
And also to the wonderful Jayne Hepsibah-Sullivan whose Hepsibah Gallery window makes a perfect backdrop!

Our portrait sewn up by Harriet Riddell

Last Sunday we had the absolute pleasure of meeting artist Harriet Riddell at the Hepsibah Gallery in Hammersmith. I love having this little gallery so close to home and I love art and I love sewing so you can imagine how heavenly it was to be sitting with my nearest and dearest, chatting with the artist herself whilst she effortlessly drew us with by means of a sewing machine!

Harriet Riddell portrait

Harriet is a performance mixed media artist specialising in observational drawings in stitch. Which means she won’t copy a photo – only live subjects need apply, and therefore each and every creation is an original. Oh, and she doesn’t do dogs!

And for someone who graduated only a year or so ago, she has a pretty damned fine back catalogue already. I found it tempting to sit on the face of Jeremy Irons who was beautifully stitched into the seat of a chair and mesmerised by the Mexican dancers with their intricately decorated dresses, on the wall. One of her brilliant projects involved sitting outside in the streets of Birmingham, stitching people sat on a bike whilst they pedalled to power her sewing machine. Just how cool is that?

Of course I quizzed her:

Q: What kind of thread do you use?

A: Just the usual 50p kind from Peckham market!

Q: What is this fabulous fabric you are using?

A: Heavy weight canvas from Goldhawk Rd!

Q: Do you ever get stressed from the queues that build up on your event?

A: Sometimes!

Q: How long without sewing can you go without getting ‘scratchy’

A: About a day or two!

Q: What do you love most about what you do?

A: Travelling the world and meeting wonderful people.

Q: What fancy stitch did you use to create the detailed embroidery on the Mexican dancers’ dresses?

A: Oh I never use those. Just do it freehand!

(I can honestly vouch for her being the coolest person ever!)

Even the reverse of this artwork is beautiful. I need to source a frame with double sided glass so it’s not hidden. Any ideas?

Harriet Riddell reverse

Of course the only downside to this wonderful sitting was that now I am hugely inspired by this lovely lady and I want to venture more down the ridiculously wonderful road of freehand embroidery too. Of course I have plenty nuff hours to fill, don’t I?

You will find plenty more examples of Harriet’s fascinating creations over at Institchyou.

And I leave you with some lovely shots that Mr O took whilst our youngest daughter took the first sitting:

Harriet Riddell Harriet_Riddell_2 Harriet_Riddell_3 Harriet_Riddell_4 Harriet_Riddell_5 Harriet_Riddell_6 Harriet_Riddell_7 Harriet_Riddell_8