Lavender blue, dilly dilly

Normally I would consider gardening as a waste of good sewing time but the weather over the last couple of days tempted even me out of doors. And there were a couple of things in the garden that required my attention.

Firstly there has been a bit of an issue with the dogs. Normally they are pretty good but recently they have taken to digging in the raised beds. They aren’t exactly small beasties so it doesn’t take them long to deposit half a hundredweight of soil onto the patio. A few plants judiciously placed should rectify the situation.

And then there was the weed problem… When we first moved into our house it took two years of almost constant effort to get rid of the nettles. Some of them were six foot tall. Honest. Now we are plagued by chickweed and couch grass, some sort of creeper from the strawberry family and ground elder. Deep joy.

So yesterday I spent the morning digging and cursing as I filled bucket after bucket with green stuff that I didn’t want in my garden. But the bonus prize was a trip to the garden centre this morning knowing that all I had to do when I got home was pop them in the ground. I’m no plants woman, my modus operandi is to buy something I like the look of, check that I’m not putting something which is going to grow to 4m at the front of the flower bed, then stick it in and if it survives well fantastic.

But the one plant I do have a huge soft spot for is lavender. It’s hardy, pretty, smells divine and makes the garden busy by attracting hoards of bees. Plus it can be used to make lovely hearts and other scented goodies so its a sewist’s delight. I’m working on filling my garden with the stuff. Most of my plants have been French lavender so far but today I found white English lavender, how cool is that!

I couldn’t buy just one plant – it would be lonely. I bought enough to fill an entire flower bed. Which means lots and lots of lovely smelly sewing at the end of the summer. Now that’s something worth gardening for

Cat x

Sew near and yet sew far. Part 2

Well my skirt is finally finished.

I’m sure this will come as a huge relief to those of you who have been following the saga on Facebook. It is still a tad on the large side, but it fits, it’s comfortable and I’m happy with my sewing skills.

One thing it has demonstrated very clearly is that no matter how unhappy I MIT be about my own body shape (currently under review – hence the reason why I had to keep adjusting the waistband) I am definitely not pear-shaped. Sewaholic patterns are specifically for this profile so I going to have to be very careful in future to read all of the dimensions before I start.

I also think that I MIT give designing some of my own patterns a bit of a bash. So long as I take lots of care with the old ruler and measuring tape I can’t go too wrong?!

Cat x

So much fabric, so little time

Oh dear, I’ve done it again! It doesn’t matter how much I try to resist I can always find more room for fabric.

I blame the designers and manufacturers. Gone are the days when all you could buy was brown. Brown corduroy (made myself a pretty cool skirt suit out of that), brown polyester (Charlie’s Angels jumpsuit, but I was only 6 so I’m excused), brown cotton covered in brown flowers (what can I say…).

Thank goodness for Joel Dewberry, Tula Pink, Amy Butler, Kaffe Fassett etc. etc. I can indulge my love of purple and I can avoid itty bitty daisy prints. Not only this but it doesn’t matter where in the world the fabric manufacturer or distributor is, I can find them while sitting supping coffee in my own back garden.

There’s just one little difficulty. It doesn’t matter how often I tidy up, there’s no hiding the fact from Mr Cat that my collection is growing. Which is why I’ve just encouraged him to buy a vintage bicycle to restore. Mountains from a distance don’t look anywhere near as big as they do from close up!

Cat x

Leaping the divide…


Like many fabric addicts, I often find myself musing how life would be if I could devote myself 100% to sewing.

  1. Would I be disciplined enough to work when there is no boss to tell me what to do?
  2. Can I create enough of what people  want to buy?
  3. Have I got the time to devote not only to the creative process but also to the marketing and administrative side of the business.
  4. Is it possible to make sufficient income to justify the time commitment.

I can answer the first point very easily.  This is most definitively a yes since I have run my own successful freelance/consultancy business for the last ten years.  It’s extremely hard work, not least because when you aren’t an employee clients have no problem telling you at 6pm that they want something on their desk by 9am the following morning. Running your own show is certainly not for the faint hearted and I’m extremely lucky in having a partner who is very supportive of my efforts (though I still haven’t managed to teach him how to cook a meal that the children will eat!).

Point two is more difficult as with most creative pursuits there is always a twinge of fear that people are only making appreciative noises to be polite. Plus with so much choice both in traditional retail and the online craft communities, is it possible to create a unique enough product which stands out from the crowd?  My other problem is that I am both a perfectionist and a creative polymath, a combination of traits which mean I don’t really have a singular style or product.

Time! I am sure that some being comes along and steals hours out of my day.  Juggling pets, kids, day job and a plethora of volunteering commitments already accounts for almost every hour right now.  The marketing and administrative parts of running a sewing related business are not remotely frightening or new to me (see point one) but I don’t have any spare minutes for just thinking and creating and that is a bigger problem.  I could of course give up the day job, but actually I find it rather exciting so that’s a non-starter.

And finally – income.  I’ve participated in a number of (heated) online debates about this and I know that many full-time craftspeople get very cross about individuals who run their kitchen-top business without running proper accounts or declaring their income for tax purposes.  Since I run my own business already I can ‘fess up here that I don’t fall into that category.  I can tell you just how much deficit I am in at any one time!  It is very, very hard to make money from a craft business because time is the biggest expense and very few people feel able to charge for the hours they are putting in.  There are occasions where I have made something and then had to price it competitively which means I would earn something like 50p/hour for my labour.  I don’t want to make industrial quantities of the same product over and over again – it’s not enjoyable for me at any price.

So what’s the conclusion then?  Yes I do think that at some point I will find a way to create a sewing related business, but right now I’m really happy producing a small volume of unique products which I sell via Etsy and by commission.  All you have to do is get in touch!

Cat x

Sew near and yet sew far

Esme_top_patternAs my return to dressmaking was not unsuccessful I thought I would have another go – not least because my wardrobe is extremely sparse and I hate  clothes shopping (isn’t that right Kitty?!).

One of the great things about the resurgence in all things crafty is that it is now possible to buy patterns from wide variety of independent designers who are able to get their ideas to market much faster than the larger conglomerates.

I’ve been toiling away at this Esme Top from Sew Liberated this weekend in some lovely London Calling fabric I bought from the nice people at Raystitch.  The colour and style of the cotton voile are a bit of a departure for me as I normally stick with plain colours (well purple actually) but the sun was shining and I was in the mood for adventure.

Esme_topSew Liberated have taken the decision to create very simple instructions backed up by a video tutorial.  On the whole this is a good idea but the video wasn’t well recorded, in particular the sound and I had quite a hunt to find the bit I needed to answer my particular query.  I also ended up putting in the sleeves the traditional way as there was no way I could make them fit without putting in a gathering thread.

I’ve also come a bit of a cropper on the sizing.  You see nowhere on the pattern does it give finished dimensions nor is there any clue as to the nationality of the designer.  It was only when I  tried the bodice on for the first time that I realised my mistake.  In the UK a 12 is a US 10 and I had added a little bit extra so what I am left with is a bit of a tent!  Coupled with the fact that my sewing machine wasn’t playing nice yesterday either I was not a happy camper.

However, it’s redeemable (at least it wasn’t two sizes too small!) and I’ll know for next time…


Cat x