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Cheetah print running leggings

14 November 2014, 13:08

My Fun Sewing Weekend was going so well after I made my galaxy sweatshirt and black travel skirt that I decided to tweak the fit on my Kwik Sew one-piece leggings pattern and test it out on some unsuspecting cheetah-print nylon lycra from UK Fabrics (well, they call it leopard, but I say cheetah!).

I’d made this pattern a few times for myself and many times in classes, but I noticed when I made my crazy cat lady leggings recently that the fit was a bit too loose in places. I totally blame this on my training firming me up further, since the leggings were loose around the hips, upper thighs, and ankles. And perfectly fine at my runner’s calves and quads!

So I shaved off a good centimeter from the front & back crotch curves (meaning 4cm overall), another 1.5cm wedge from the inner thigh on both sides, and then a hefty 3cm wedge from both sides at the ankles. I have tiny, bird-like ankles, and the standard ankle width was just flapping in the breeze… So now my pattern is something like Size Small/XS in the waist and hips & upper thigh, Medium in the lower thigh/knee/calf, and XSish in the ankles. Hooray for custom fit!

These literally took me 20 minutes to cut out and sew together, and I wore them out on my Sunday run around Greenwich Park and back home along the river. These felt so much better for the little fitting tweaks – the cat leggings start to fall down after a few kilometers and pool around my quads (a sure sign they’re too loose above that point), but these stayed in place for the whole 20km run!

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A Week in a Day

7 November 2014, 11:39

I’ve been a bad blogger this week. I’ve been doing lots (as you’ll soon see), but working every weekend for the past three, plus the weeks in between, and some out-of-town trips have all really sapped my enthusiasm to write! So I’m taking the lazy option out and catching you all up with a little roundup – a week’s worth of posts in a day…

Like the Wind workshop


Cult running magazine Like the Wind approached me a few months ago to ask if I’d like to run a “sew your own leggings workshop” at the week-long popup they were throwing together at the end of October. I’d known one half of the husband-and-wife team that run the magazine, but I’d never met Julie before this. Once I found out that she not only owns her own overlocker, but bought it when she sewed her own wedding dress with it(!), I knew we’d get along just fine.

We had five runners who’d only done a small amount of sewing before, but had never touched an overlocker before, and certainly not a coverstitch either! They each picked their own fabric from FunkFabrics’ range, and walked home in some very stylish leggings at the end of the afternoon!

Georgina picked a “Gotham” print, so of course she just had to pose with the Batman art in the gallery!

And here’s the finished set! I saw quite a few little “omg I’m so happy in my leggings” dances at the end, which really reminds me why I love teaching so much. Lucy posted a great writeup of the street art tour and my class, too.

There may be another Like the Wind workshop in the new year if we can work out the logistics, but there will definitely be more up at the Thriftystitcher studio in January and February, to be announced very soon! The classes are very similar, so if you’re a runner you can come learn at Thriftystitcher, or non-runners vice-versa at Like the Wind.

But I was so jealous of all their finished leggings that I treated myself to some Funkifabrics lycra this week (it was difficult, but I settled on this geometric aqua number in the end, because it reminded me of a Lamb album cover!).

Random sweatshirt sewing


When I was pulling out supplies to bring along to the workshop, I came across pieces for this sweatshirt that I’d cut out in February when I was trying to deplete random bits of leftover sweatshirting that was taking up too much room in my little sewing cave. The lavender “sacrificial sweatshirt” came out of that same cull, but for some reason I never quite got around to sewing this blue one together at the time.

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Free Running Armband Pocket pattern (and new Shop!)

17 October 2014, 17:23

I promised you earlier in the week that I had a free pattern on the way, and it’s here!

Please welcome the FREE Running Armband Pocket pattern, a super quick pouch to wear on your arm that takes way under an hour to sew (10-15min for most!) and uses scraps you’ve probably got lying around anyway.

This armband has a pocket on one side with a simple fold-over flap for keeping things like a phone, keys, travelcard, etc tight against your arm while you run. There are no closures – the band just slips over your arm and the stretchiness of the fabric holds it in place.

Now the astute amoungst you are probably thinking “Wait – didn’t she do a tutorial for this already?” and you’d be right. You’d also be correct if you tried to follow said tutorial and found it a little bit confusing! I know I sure did when I went back to it a few months later and struggled to follow what Previous Me was talking about…

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Dates for Your Calendar

10 October 2014, 13:09

There are some big things happening in my sewing world over the next month or two you should know about (no, not another pattern release just yet though I am working on the next one already!). So get out your calendar and take note of these…

Monday 13 October


Spoonflower have announced another free shipping day (international shipping, too)!. This is a perfect opportunity to try out our Fehr Trade x Laurie King exercise fabrics if you haven’t already. The fabrics coordinate perfectly with my sewing patterns so you only need to buy one yard of wicking fabric to get coordinating colours and prints.


Seen above, the VNA Top and Duathlon Shorts (booty length) in the coordinating “Maps” citrine & black colourway.

For UK buyers, this means you save $9 on shipping, and if you buy one yard of the Performance Piqué it should fall under the HMRC exemption and you won’t get hit with nasty surprise customs charges.

Thursday 16 October


Next Thursday evening I will be teaching the Slouchy Breton Tee class at the Thriftystitcher studio in Stoke Newington (London), and there’s still space for you to join!


Me in my Purple & green Slouchy Breton Tee

This class uses a pattern drafted exclusively for the class, and has the magic ability of fitting everyone I’ve taught so far without needing an FBA! Magic. Stripey fabric is provided just you just need to turn up and enjoy learning the stretch fabric basics, and go home with your own tee and exclusive pattern.

Tuesday 21 October


OMG, it’s the return of the Great British Sewing Bee, but with a twist! The first of three charity specials for BBC Children in Need airs at 8pm, featuring celebrities who have never sewn before, going through a set of three challenges. Dum dum DAH!

I’m super excited for these to air because, well, I may have spent half my summer working behind-the-scenes on these (there’s a blog post ready for when I’m able to post it!), so I can’t wait to see the finished episodes!

Also, I can confirm that these Pudsey ironing board covers are super cute! Serious bargain at £10 (for charity!), if you ask me.

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Lavender Threshold Shorts in Berlin marathon

2 October 2014, 13:28

Thank you all so much for first your good luck messages, and then your congratulations after this weekend’s Berlin marathon! We had an absolutely wonderful (and gluttonous!) week in Budapest, Vienna, and Prague leading up to the race, and we thoroughly enjoyed Berlin, too!

I promised you all before I left that I believed enough in my Threshold Shorts design that I’d run an entire marathon in them – and I did! They performed great during the race – they didn’t ride up in the thighs at all and the little back pocket kept my final two gels safe and secure right up until 40k when I gobbled down the last salted caramel Gu.

You can read my full race report over on my River Runner site, but the short version is that I loved this race and truly smiled the entire way through, ending on a total high as we ran through Brandenburg Gate. This was my fourth marathon and my most enjoyable to date (as well as my fourth marathon run in me-sewn gear!).

You can also see that I modified my RDC vest a little bit, too – during races I like to only use one headphone, and normally tuck the other earbud under my sportsbra. But for longer races, this has a tendency to both irritate and get salt and sweat in the earbud, so this time I thought ahead and stitched a little piece of elastic onto my vest at the shoulder to wrap the headphone around! It worked a treat and is something I’ll definitely do for future marathon and half-marathon tops.

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Turquoise Threshold Shorts and a Purple Zigzag XYT

26 September 2014, 13:45

I hope you all have been enjoying all the book reviews while I’m away on holiday! I thought I’d end this week with some photos of one of my favourite pairs of Threshold Shorts that I sewed myself. These are made in some turquoise/teal aerated polyester and pale “apple green” FOE, both from Sewing Chest. It’s an unusual colour combination but one that I totally love!

Even better is that I realised that the teal matches the purple/citrine/teal colourway of our Fehr Trade x Laurie King fabric designs really well! I sewed up a sample of my XYT Workout Top pattern in the “Zigzag” pattern to show them off together. It’d be rude not to!

Let’s talk about the top first – as I mentioned with my first, ombré samples, the Spoonflower tech fabrics have no vertical stretch, so you’ve got to add some into the patterns. I chose to demonstrate the super-easy cheat’s way, which was to just draw two horizontal lines (one above the waist and one below), and spread these out when I cut the fabric!

I separated each by 2cm and this seems just about right for me. It also has the bonus of making it easy to stripe match the front and back, as you get a little “window” for the zigzags!

I chose to use the Y back here and I even paid attention and switched coverstitching threads from purple to citrine so they blend in nicely. You can’t see it, but I’ve also used purple power mesh for the built in bra, so it’s a very attractive little running top!

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Fehr Trade x Laurie King fabric - first samples

20 August 2014, 22:08

Thank you all so, so much for your enthusiasm and compliments on the launch of our fabric designs last week! I’ve been swamped with work (which is great!) but managed to squeeze in some time to sew up the first two samples – a VNA Top and Duathlon Shorts (booty length) in the coordinating “Maps” citrine & black colourway.

So if you buy one yard of the “Maps” citrine/black VNA fabric and one yard of the “Maps” citrine/black Duathlon fabric, this is what you get! Cool, eh? There’s more photos of me modelling at the end, but I know loads of you were waiting to see finished versions first before taking the plunge!

Having cut out and sewn both, I took some photos throughout the process, and have a few tips as well. The previous post shows you how to lay out your pieces onto the different zones, but in real life, I know my makeshift cutting table (err, desk!) isn’t big enough to hold the full yardage.

So the first thing I recommend is to cut the fabric apart along the different zones and trim the white borders.

This makes it a lot easier to match up the edges so you can fold the zones in half and cut on the fold (or in the case of the Duathlon shorts, cut two layers at once). It also means I can fit the fabric onto my cutting table!

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A speedy weekend

13 August 2014, 12:16

Wow, thank you all so much for your enthusiasm and support for the new fabric designs – I’m so glad you all are as excited by the idea as I am!!

Unfortunately, however, I didn’t get a chance to sew them up into samples over the weekend because I was up north in Bolton competing in the British Transplant Games! On Saturday and Sunday I raced in the 3km “mini marathon”, 1500m, 800m, 400m, and 200m (my planned mixed relay race was cancelled due to poor weather).

The bulk of my races were on Sunday (in the sideways rain!), and I’m proud to say that I competed in my own designs – a VNA Top and a pair of Duathlon Shorts, booty length. I must say, this particular combo makes me feel so speedy and confident that I just loved racing in it. Also, if you haven’t tried the booty length, adding silicon “gripper” elastic to the hems makes a world of difference – they don’t budge at all, and were comfortable enough to wear under my team tracksuit all day.

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An extended weekend full of sewing

15 July 2014, 11:34

Last week saw the end of a very good but busy work project, so what do I do when faced with a bit more time and mental energy than usual? Why, I sew of course!*

Liberty, but not as we know it


I received some lovely Liberty gift coins for my birthday, and because Previous Me knows Future Me so well, I had stashed some extra birthday cash along with it in the suede pouch, knowing I’d forget all about it and be pleasantly surprised. Which is precisely what happened!

So now armed with £60 to play with in Liberty, I decided to take advantage of a rainy day and go shopping. Now, I know loads of you go weak at the knees for anything Liberty, but I don’t. I find most of the traditional Liberty prints to be painfully twee and nothing I’d ever, ever wear. So I was thinking I’d see what was on offer in their jerseys, but first I got waylaid by the remnants table, where I scooped up a vaguely-African print silk twill (1m for £25, seen lower left).

The jersey selection was really small and mostly ditzy print (gag), but I kept being drawn to a dreamy, blurry, triangular print that came in a few shades, but only in Tana Lawn. I finally decided that if I kept coming back to this print then I should buy it and figure out a project later. So 1.5m of the palest colourway came home with me (seen upper left above) and brought my grand total to £58. Now that’s budgeting!

Refashioned suede wristlets

A friend had recently given me two skirts which no longer fit her, a suede one and a silk one, and mentioned that I might want them for the fabric. Of course! So I chopped up the suede one on Sunday, making two of the free Cake mini wristlets.


(The colour on the left is more accurate…)

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My teal mixed-print VNA Top and bonus booty shorts

11 July 2014, 13:15

I showed you a casual version of my new VNA Top pattern a few weeks ago, modeled by my athlete friend Anne, but one of the great things about this pattern is that it works equally well for both exercising and lounging about. Just change the fabrics and go up a size and it’s ready to throw on with jeans!

Since you’ve already seen one casual version, I wanted to show you my favourite workout version – actually, this might be my favourite workout top ever – I just love how the fabrics coordinate together!

If you’ve used any of my patterns before, you know how great they are for using up small pieces of fabric – because sportswear fabric can be expensive and I hate wasting anything, but also because it means you can coordinate tops and bottoms really easily! I made this VNA Top using a Spoonflower print I fell in love with, printed onto their Performance Knit base (though now that they’ve released their Performance Pique, I actually prefer that to the “knit”!), and when it finally arrived, I saw that the teal colour in it coordinated perfectly with the mint space dyed supplex I had leftover from my minty XYT Workout Top, but also with a bunch of mis-printed “Run to the Beat” technical tees I got given for refashioning. I couldn’t believe my luck!!

I cut the Upper Front in the Spoonflower print, the Lower Front & Back from the “hint of mint” supplex, and the Back and Bindings from the refashioned race tee. Three different fabrics in one top, but the shared teal colour mean they look great together!

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The Spring Race Challenge podium

9 July 2014, 15:32

The Spring Race Challenge officially came to a close this week, but that’s no reason you should stop sewing your own exercise gear, or challenging yourself! But I had to draw a line somewhere so I could stop and draw a winner from the enormous (and sweaty!) pile of entrants, and I don’t think we can carry on calling this “spring” much longer, or the Aussies really will be into spring!

Everyone made such an effort in their sporty makes, and many of you said that you wouldn’t have pushed yourself to either a) sew exercise clothing nor b) sign up to a race if it wasn’t for this challenge, which is such a boost! Because seeing others exercise is such a big motivation, I want to show you all the entrants so you can see how great me-made exercisewear can be. And that it’s not just bonkers-me doing it!

(Though if you would like to know more about lil-ol-bonkers me, Karen from “Did You Make That?” interviewed me for her own Sporty Summer Sewathon and she asked some great questions!!)

The Sweaty Sewists (in order of submission)

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Anne's casual purple VNA Top

25 June 2014, 13:24

Wow, thank you all so much for your support and purchases of my new VNA Top pattern! I know many of you like to see how patterns look on a real person so I’ll be sharing the versions I made with you over the next few weeks. As with my Duathlon Shorts, I like to mix things up and use local athletes as models, both so that you’re not always just looking at me (boring!) but also to highlight what total badasses these ladies are!

For this pattern I was totally lucky to bag my friend Anne to model for me! Anne was big into roller derby for a number of years, has competed in triathlons and standalone open water swims, ran her first full marathon last year, and is at yoga and spin classes pretty much every night (seriously – she makes me look lazy!).

Here she’s wearing a VNA Top I made from a purple ponte jersey so you can see how well it works both as casual wear with jeans, but also when it’s made in just one solid colour!

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The Spring Race Challenge - prizes!

24 June 2014, 12:53

Hands up if you’ve been motivated by the Spring Race Challenge to sew up some lycra and go out and be active… ooh yes, that’s rather a lot of you!

Well, I’m pleased to report that there’s now another reason to be motivated to enter before 7 July, and that’s because I can finally announce the prizes, which will go to one lucky entrant, chosen by random draw.

Sewing Chest has very kindly supplied a special activewear kit full of goodies to sew at least one workout garment (and likely two, if you’re clever with your cutting)! It contains:

It should be enough for you to sew, say, a pair of PB Jam leggings in black with red contrasts, plus a black XYT Workout Top with a red upper back and FOE edges… or a pair of black Duathlon Shorts with red sides and a black VNA Top with red lower front and bindings… Or any other combo you choose, really!

These activewear kits will soon be available to buy from Sewing Chest, too, which should make it super easy to buy all the bits for coordinating sportswear in one go!

I’ll also be throwing in a bumper prize pack of all four of my sewing patterns (if you haven’t got them already!) to the lucky winner so she can have some new patterns to go with the new fabric, too.

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My light-up, twinkling running jacket - the sewing bit!

16 May 2014, 10:16

You heard all about the electronic components earlier this week, but the sewing of the jacket itself was in no straightforward, either! If you missed the video of the LEDs in action, have another look:

You might think, that, as a pattern designer for exercise wear, I might view other exercise patterns as competition. On the contrary – when I first saw the StyleArc Steffi jacket, my first thought was “Brilliant! Now I don’t have to draft it myself!”. I’ve got enough ideas in my head for patterns already, so I’d rather refer folks to other good patterns if I can rather than constantly reinvent the wheel.

This pattern was a birthday gift from my inlaws, and I was initially concerned because they’d bought me a size 10 instead of the 12 I’d asked for, but as it turned out this fits me really well anyway. It’s a smidge too tight in the chest for me to run in (my trainer has me focus on pulling my shoulder blades back to open up my chest for better breathing), but is utterly perfect as a warm-up, cool-down jacket, so hurrah for happy accidents!

I chose to do my colourblocking like it’s shown in the technical drawing – I used a grey/black sportshell as the main body, then I used the black reverse of this black/grey “budget” sportshell as the contrast panels. The main sportshell is really nice – a soft, technical jersey with a thin layer of fleece bonded to the inside – it feels really RTW and high quality. The budget one, well, lived up to its name. The grey side looks a bit naff, there’s no fleece, and the black side is just smooth like the other fabric’s grey exterior. So it was fine for my purposes here, but I wouldn’t recommend skimping if you want a similar jacket – go for the more expensive option and you won’t regret it.

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My light-up, twinkling running jacket - the electronics!

12 May 2014, 17:41

This is an epic jacket, and something I’ve been wanting to do for, ooh, 6-7 years at least. You see, I really liked the idea of wearable electronics, and clothes that do something and interact with their environment, so I started buying LilyPad components many years ago with the hopes of making something.

Then I realised that I know nothing about circuits and electronics, and it all seemed really confusing every time I tried to sit down and learn about it. Finally, I decided that I’d bring my suitcase of tricks (no really, I have a little yellow plastic “suitcase” with all my beginning circuitry stuff in it!) along to France on holiday and I’d sit down and teach myself how to do it then. And I actually did!

LilyPad is the sewable line of Arduino products, made especially for folks like us. They’re easy to attach onto clothes, and (apart from the batteries) are machine washable, too. For this jacket I used a LilyPad battery pack (I started with the Coin Cell one but it wasn’t quite enough power), a Lily Twinkle controller, a bunch of LEDs, and a spool of conductive thread.

I used a mix of the regular LilyPad LEDs and the Micro LEDs because that’s what I had – the micro green ones were much brighter than the bigger purple ones, but you can really only get about four loops of thread around each terminal of the micro ones, so if you need to connect it to more than two lines, go for a bigger one. The Twinkle controller is really just a tiny board with four connection spots for LEDs and makes them fade in and out randomly (though you can connect more than one LED to each spot & they’ll twinkle in unison). I wanted to make things easy for myself this time around so I left out any input sensors, though I do have an accelerometer in my stash…

I’d thought to bring along this “Fashioning Technology” book and between that and this Lilypad Twinkle tutorial, I pretty much taught myself how to make a simple circuit to do what I wanted. When I go to do my next project, I’ll need to read a few different chapters and watch some more tutorials, I’m sure!

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Angel's Duathlon Capris

9 May 2014, 12:26

You’ve already seen my first athlete-model, Claudia, rocking the Booty Short length, plus a ton of different versions from around the sew-o-sphere, but I wanted to show you a pair of my Duathlon Shorts pattern I made in the Capri length for my friend, hero, and inspiration, Angel Dee!

Angel’s not only a super fit runner (she just ran London marathon, too!), but she’s also finishing her personal trainer certification after years of dreaming and working office jobs. Sometimes it’s all too easy to assume that super-fit people have always been that way (I know I’m guilty of that, too), or just “have great genes” or something, but Angel works hard – not only is she a mum to a teenage boy(!), but she’s overcome her fair share of serious health problems, too, which makes her enviable abs even more laudable! (Seriously, check out the #AbsLikeAngel hashtag on Twitter!)

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Post Marathon Thank You

17 April 2014, 14:29

Thank you all so, so much for your well wishes, support, and donations for Sunday’s London Marathon!

If you’re interested in my full race report, please head over to my RiverRunner site, but the short version is that it was super tough in the hot sun, but I managed to finish in 3:30:37, which is a new PB for me, an automatic Good For Age place in next year’s race, and a Boston Qualifier as well!

My rainbow Duathlon Shorts were the perfect choice, too – super comfortable with no tugging or chafing whatsoever, and the pockets were big enough for me to cram in four gels and a pack of Shot Bloks and not have them bouncing around everywhere.

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Tomorrow

12 April 2014, 14:13

Tomorrow I run the London Marathon.

(Actually, I’m way more excited than that sounds. Add in a “Weeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!”)

I will be running in my newest Duathlon shorts, so I’ll be sure to share some photos of myself in them for the Spring Race Challenge! Remember that if you’re entering the prize draw, you need to link to your photo in the comments of that post – I’ve seen some great photos already but they need to be added there so I don’t lose any.

If you’d like to track me during the race tomorrow (it starts at 10am BST), I’ve detailed three different ways you can do so over on my Riverrunner site. I’ll especially need comments after 2.5 hours in, so that’s about 12:30ish local time (or 7:30 EDT).

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Digitally printed fabric comparison

3 April 2014, 12:57

I recently placed a small order at Spoonflower for the first time in three years since they now do “performance knit” as a base fabric option! I mostly wanted to see how it compares against other wicking lycras and also FunkiFabrics’ digitally printed (non-wicking) lycra, as it could potentially be a great source of wild running prints for me.

I had stopped ordering from Spoonflower because their international shipping was taking an excessively long amount of time (over a month!!) and getting lost fairly frequently. I also stopped because, at the time, the only knit fabric they had was the organic cotton interlock, which both faded in the first wash and had zero recovery, and was pretty much useless for my purposes. But in the past three years, they’ve added a bunch more knits to their range and sorted out their international shipping, so I tentatively made a small order to try them out again.

I ended up getting three samples and a fat quarter, all of the performance knit (plus a swatch book), and I’m really impressed. Spoonflower’s performance knit is a smooth lycra base with about 40% widthwise stretch and no lengthwise stretch. They print onto white base lycra, and although the weight is thinner than FunkiFabrics’ base lycra (which has four-way stretch), I’d still feel fine using it for actvewear, though you’d want a busy print to distract from any lumps and bumps.

I’m also relieved to report that they’ve sorted out their international shipping – I ordered on 13 March, they shipped it on 17 March, and it arrived on 31 March. Much improved!

Now, the price. I always expect that I’m going to get shafted on shipping fabric from the States (and I’m usually right!), but the shipping on my above order was only $7, which I found wholly reasonable. In fact, I started getting curious so I actually worked out a price comparison for having digitally printed lycra shipped to me in the UK:

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Assorted updates

2 April 2014, 13:05

Argh I’ve done that thing again where I get really busy in my sewing cave (and elsewhere!), ignore my laptop altogether, and end up accumulating a full week’s worth of posts that I can’t face writing. This usually bogs me down mentally for a few days until I realise I have to face the laptop at some point, and I work a “computer day” (I much prefer “sewing days”!) to clear the slate.

But a-ha! I gotcha, “internet day”, because I’m going to cram together all the updates I really should write about in one big go. Didn’t see that coming, didja?!? (frollicks off to the sewing cave…)

Birthday gifts


Thank you again so much for all your compliments on my galaxy print birthday dress last week! I’m not sure what I did right, but I ended up getting an awful lot of lovely sewing gifts this year…

Clockwise from upper left: