All About The Boy


Knowing how easily I forget stuff, I was keen to get started on shirt no 2 as soon as possible. Luckily my day off came just before the second session of my recent, shirt-making course, so I was able to get a fair bit of this second version completed beforehand (just in case I needed rescuing).

I worked carefully through each stage, thankfully remembering it all pretty well, even the shoulder yoke bit, which was a bit of a blur if I’m honest. And I actually surprised myself by enjoying the completion of each stage, really taking my time and pressing carefully at each point. Moving the ironing board up to the spare room where I sew made such a difference with this: I have well and truly taken over up there now!

The collar proved a bit trickier this time. My first attempt just looked ‘off’ somehow. It was only when I compared it to my first version that I realised I’d got the collar piece and the collar stand pieces the wrong way round. I very, very carefully unpicked it all, and luckily nothing came off the worse for it, before reattaching it the right way round. I was a bit worried as this fabric (a Japanese, double gauze cotton) felt quite delicate to handle, but it turned out fine.

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It’s a beautiful fabric and I can’t wait to sew up something for myself in something similar. However it behaved quite differently from the crisp cotton I’d used previously. The pocket, which I was so pleased with last time, just wouldn’t sit quite so neatly. I unpicked it once to get it better, but it’s still just a little wonky. The course tutor suggested that it might sit better after washing, as the fabric has a more laundered effect.

I got up to the button hole stage before the second part of the course. This was the bit I was most nervous about, so I was pretty relieved I’d got this far beforehand. Because I was the only person completing a smaller, child’s version I was able to complete both sets of button holes alongside the others on the course. On my fox shirt they went in perfectly using the automatic button hole foot, but on this fabric, it wasn’t quite so easy. I had to unpick one that went wrong, before getting them right (again, with a little help from the tutor).

I’m really pleased with the finished results. There are certainly still a couple of areas to work on, but all-in-all I’ve surprised myself again. I think accepting that a project is going to take a little longer, and breaking it down into manageable stages is the key here. That said, I can’t wait to get back to seeing a little something for myself, and probably something a lot simpler…


A couple of mean and moody shots to finish with, but as you can see there’s a smile itching to break through, bless him!


The Fox Shirt


I can’t tell you how pleased I am with this 🙂 I actually made my boy a shirt, albeit with a little help from the lovely tutor at The Ministry of Craft in Manchester. On Saturday I attended the second part of my two part course, where we fitted the sleeves and attached the button holes. This was a half day session, rather than the full, first day and relatively simple by comparison in terms of skills. No head in my hands this time!

I’ve fitted a fair few sleeves in the past, but realised that it’s a lot easier in my usual knit fabrics. This went in relatively easily, but I ended up with a couple of unintentional, small pleats on each side, which is fine when you’re female, but less desirable on a boy’s shirt… Frustrating though this was, he wore it last night and no one noticed at all, as per usual. The button holes I’d kind of been dreading, but actually in this lovely, crisp cotton they were a breeze.

This course was money well spent indeed, and I’d thoroughly recommend it if you live in the North West. I’m equal parts amazed and delighted that I managed to make this! It’s by far my most complicated and accomplished sewing project. The finish is brilliant (a direct result of the design and a very patient, experienced tutor, rather than my sewing skills), with the shoulder yoke and collars all neatly hidden away. Even my hand sewing managed to rise to the occasion and didn’t let the side down! And my son is delighted with the result, wearing it proudly out for dinner last night 🙂 Job well done, and my maternal guilt eased for a while 😉


RTW Fast – Almost There…

So, I’m well over half way through my three month, self-imposed, RTW fast and it really hasn’t been anywhere near as difficult as I’d anticipated 🙂 So, if you’re attempting the same yourself, or are even vaguely considering it, here’s what I’ve learnt so far:

  1. I’ve actually enjoyed it! Now this really has come as a bit of an unexpected surprise, but it’s been liberating just not even vaguely thinking about clothes shopping!
  2. It’s given me more free time, something I can’t be alone in craving more of. If I do have to pop into town (and I really have avoided it, unless it was truly necessary) it’s been so much quicker without so much as a quick glance in any clothes shop windows.
  3. My bank balance is looking far healthier, obvious but so gratifying! It’s amazing how a £20 pound top in the sales here, or a £30 reduced jumper there really do add up to quite a lot over a couple of months. And do I actually wear these impulse buys? Mmmm…
  4. I have indeed worn my me-mades more often as a result 🙂
  5. I’ve enjoyed just slowing down a bit, having a good sort out (though slowly and thoughtfully) and considering the clothes I do have more carefully – what works and what doesn’t, what’s plain uncomfortable, what’s seen better days, etc, etc.
  6. What’s also pushed me to wear more me-makes is downgrading their status. I have a tendency to ‘save things for best’ (is this a typically Northern trait?) but I’ve enjoyed wearing some of my ‘best’ every day, either for work or just out and about with the kids.
  7. When I do allow myself to go shopping again, I now have a much clearer idea of what I actually need.

And here’s what’s helped me get through almost seven weeks of my RTW fast, with the exception of only an M and S reversible sports bra (reduced to the princely sum of £2.50) to dint my armour. Well, I never promised to be a saint, but for me this really is very good going 😉

  1. Genuinely wanting to save some money really helped me stay focused, after our very expensive, family holiday to Disneyland this Summer.
  2. Being busy elsewhere in your life helps: new A-Level syllabuses at school have kept me incredibly busy reorganising and reinventing resources.
  3. Avoiding the shops, and all those pretty much all-year-round sales signs really worked for me to avoid temptation completly. Sales are my real downfall…
  4. Ditto, unsubscribing myself from the endless flow of marketing emails, and not even opening the ones that do manage to seep through.
  5. I have to do a twice-yearly changeover of my Winter/Summer clothes, so choosing to complete this fast during a changeover period was a useful distraction: being reunited with old favourites is just as good as buying new stuff. I still have a box of heavier, Winter stuff to unpack, but I’m saving it for a ‘treat’ later this month, when it gets really cold and I’m craving something new, although to be honest, I really haven’t felt like that too often.
  6. I’ve got rid of an awful lot of stuff, which has meant I’ve got more space in my wardrobes and have refound some new favourites that had been there all along.
  7. Less choice generally has meant that when I have made myself something, I can now ‘see’ it far easier and I’ve therefore been reaching for them more often 🙂

None of the above is revelationary, of course (apart from maybe the first one), but I’ve found it really therapeutic to make myself do this. It’s so easy to get caught up in the consumer-led society we now live in, but the thrill of something new or mindlessly bagging myself a bargain really does seem to have lost a little of its shine for me. I guess it’s a bit like my annual, dry January challenge, which is never quite as hard as I think it’s going to be, but just forces me to reconsider my habits once a year.

So, this is what my wardrobes (weekend/leisure on the left, work stuff on the right) looked like once I’d cleared out the clutter and bagged up all the high-Summer stuff:

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Believe me, this is far better than they’ve been for a very long time! Clearly the bottom of my work wardrobe still needs a good sort out (next job on the list), but it’s now apparent that while I have a lot of neutrals, which is good, I can’t help thinking a little bit more colour and print would be nice… It’s just lovely being able to ‘see’ this!

Anyone else been having a good, wardrobe sort out or a RTW fast? Have you found it equally as satisfying or a little more trying?