About Me

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Currently, I'm a stay-at-home mum to an inquisitive and often rambunctious three year old girl and her sunny little brother. In a former life, I was a lawyer. I know which I prefer. On the odd occasion that I get some downtime, I knit, crochet, read, sew, sing badly, dance even more so, enjoy a glass of wine and watch bad TV, sometimes in varying combinations of the foregoing and not necessarily in that order of preference.

Friday, 14 August 2015

I Really Want Her Skirt

It all started with a walk into town for lunch.  It was a lovely, warm, sunny day a little over a year ago.  I saw a woman walking along and instantly thought "I really want her skirt".  She looked summery and pretty; the skirt in question was a wrap skirt in a bold pink print on a pale blue background, softened by a pale blue border on the front wrap and accented with a pink sash belt.  I was green with envy.

I liked the skirt so much I was still thinking about it that evening.  I reached for the iPad and began searching.  It was tricky - I hadn't been brave enough to stop her in the street and ask where it came from and Google is only so good as the search terms you are entering.  It took a long time, but eventually I found it.  It was a Boden skirt ('"damn, that will be expensive; I can't really justify that") and, worst of all, it was from at least one year ago.  I could only find one on eBay and that was a size 18, which even I had to concede was not going to work, and was likely to be far more hassle to alter than it was worth.

But the idea of that skirt would not go away.  "I could make that," said a little voice in my head.  The more I thought about it, the more I realised I could.  I started hunting for fabric options.  I started thumbing through patterns looking for a basis.  I thought a lot about what I liked about the skirt, and also what I didn't.  Slowly, a plan came together.  It was a plan that was picked up and put down several times. There were big gaps between buying the fabric and choosing the pattern; between cutting out and sewing; and, all in all, I faffed about with this for about a year.  Eventually I came up with this:

The base pattern is not, in fact a wrap skirt.  It is actually the Delphine skirt from Tilly Walnes' Love at First Stitch.  Why?  Well, when I really thought about it, I don't like wrap skirts.  They slip; they flap open, revealing far more thigh than I feel comfortable with; a gust of wind and they are up over your head faster than you can say "Miley Cyrus".  None of these is a good thing.  I spend a lot of time pushing a buggy. I can't do that whilst holding down the back of my skirt - I might have to put down my coffee!

So, I used the Delphine pattern - a nice, simple a-line skirt, with a neat waistband - as my starting point.  I took the front pattern piece and used that to make a pattern for an additional front piece, that would form a mock wrap.  I made this piece a couple of inches less wide than I wanted the wrap to be, and made up the difference with a panel of complementary spotted cotton, to soften things up and break up the bold pattern of the base skirt.
I had already worked out that I wanted the belt to be a mock belt, sewn onto the waistband, because who can be bothered with all that slipping, and adjusting, and getting twisted.  But this added an extra complication, since Delphine features a centre back zip, which wouldn't work with my mock belt.  So, I did a bit of measuring and worked out that I could ditch the back of pattern and just cut an extra front to use for the back.  I then shifted the zip to the same side as the wrap fold-over and belt tie.  Once all the jiggery-pokery with the pattern was done, this was a really easy sew.  No fancy skills needed.  The zip and turning out the pink belt were the most challenging parts.  It came together really quickly once I actually started sewing.

I'm really happy with the end result.  I do find it funny that I've made a hacked up version of the skirt before I've made a "proper" one (and I do plan to make a proper one at some point as it is a great pattern and I want to learn invisible zips), but I'm pleased to think I have the confidence to attempt this sort of thing.  It has definitely made me more open to rejigging patterns and I now find myself mentally deconstructing clothes I see out and about, comparing them with patterns I own.  It has definitely inspired me. Most importantly though, I've worn this skirt heaps since I finished it back in May.

The Details:
Pattern: Delpine by Tilly Walnes (from Love at First Stitch)
Fabric: mumble, mumble, mumble... all bought from Plush Addict last summer, with big thanks to them for colour matching the pink with the main fabric - you've got to love the internet!

Sunday, 2 August 2015

I'm very good at starting things

I love starting new projects.  I love the process - the planning, the gathering of materials.  I think I've mentioned this before, along with my suspicion that I don't actually have hobbies, I just collect the things needed by those who have hobbies.  One of the reasons I started this blog was the hope that tracking what I'm making and getting to post pictures and write about a project would encourage me to see it through to the end.  Unfortunately, this blog often feels a bit like all my other projects - a series of "starts", brief flurries of activity, and then a lapse (which can last days, weeks, or even months), into inertia.  I am well aware of my problem: I am incapable of monogamy (only in the hobby/craft sense, before you fear a massively ill-judged Ashley Madison "over-share").

If I had the discipline to work only on one project, and not to allow myself to start something new until that was completed, I think I would have far more end products to show for my efforts.  And there is a very real, sense of satisfaction that comes from a completed project.  Me-Made-May and the efforts I've been making since then to wear the things I make has reminded me of how much I like completing things.  Sadly, I am massively butterfly-brained and am easily seduced by the lure of the new.  A flick through a magazine is too-often followed by a flurry of tapping on the Internet, the production of a credit card and then the arrival of another exciting parcel of goodies for another exciting project.  My husband is fond of saying that I'm "long on ideas, but short on execution". There is a lot of truth in this, although since I know I am perfectly capable of executing, and of meeting deadlines, I wonder if perhaps it is more a case of "my eyes are bigger than my belly": I have more ideas than I have time to complete.

This is ok - in fact, I distinctly remember the Mollie Makes girls talking about this very idea at Blogtacular.  But the many, many half finished projects in my life are starting to get me down. When allowed to get out of hand, startitis leaves you with nothing but works in progress and guilty weight of a to-do list longer than your arm.  I need to get some focus and remember that the buzz of finishing something and getting to show it off is so sweet.  I really must take myself in hand.

So, list of half completed blog posts, half sewn purple Cappuccino dress that I haven't told anyone about, massive pile of materials for the Cinderella dress that my dear, sweet daughter has actually given up asking me about (yes, the guilt...), I'm looking at you; and basket of half-completed, just needing sleeves/buttons/those last few rows, I'm definitely looking at you.  I'm coming for you.  I'm making a plan, and I'm going to start (because it feels more positive than admitting I'm just plodding along with the middle, and frankly I just can't help starting things) a new "finishing project".

Seriously, quit yapping and start sewing!  That front seam is all ready to go.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Cappuccino dress

The week after we came back from holiday, I finished the cuffs and hem on my very lovely Cappuccino dress.  I'm delighted with the finished result (and the fact that it appears to wash well, since it has now survived two trips through it and is about to undergo a third).

I've worn it three times already and am planning additional versions, since it is comfortable yet, I think, looks rather stylish.

I think the only thing I'd change next time is that I might cut the hips marginally more generously.  It feels fine when I'm walking but pulls a little when I have both hands in my pockets.  Some may say that is a sign I should show better manners.  They may have a point, but an extra inch round the hips would probably stop me thinking about that.

Certainly, I feel good when I'm wearing it.  Just check that smile!

The details:
Pattern:  Cappuccino Dress & Tunic by Liesl & Co
Fabric: Cotton Poplin: Blue Green Autumnal Print and Moda Bella Solid: 17 Country Red, bought online at Backstitch - massive thanks to Lily for the excellent job colour-matching the solid for the neckline and cuffs.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015


I'm not going to write a long post about how inspiring Blogtacular was, all the great people I met, how even though I felt like a fraud for being there, no-one made me feel like one, or even my thoughts and plans about this blog.  All you really need to know about my Blogtacular is that I met up with a very lovely lady who I haven't seen for a very long time and we still liked each other, which made me very, very happy.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Me-Made-May '15 - the final round-up

Hmm... only two weeks late finishing this off...  Ahem.

So, I left of last time on Day 11 and I was pretty chuffed.  I'd managed to wear something that I had made every day up to that point and completed one sewing project and made decent inroads on a second.

Day 12 saw me finally accept that I needed to do some ironing and as a result I wore my Suri dress.  I threw my Cassis cardi over the top for the school run and felt pretty amazing.  I love this dress.

Day 13 involved a cardigan, although I don't recall which one.

Day 14 was an outing for this little outfit that I originally made for my daughter's christening, almost 4 years ago.  Cardigan and skirt were both handmade; top is LK Bennett.

Day 15 involved a little bit of phoning it in as I was trying to get packed for our holiday, so for most of the day, the only homemade thing on display was a headband.  I added my green jumper when the weather turned cooler.

So, I maintained momentum right up until Day 16, when we flew to Florida.  I took my Spire Smock cardigan with me on the flight, since I always seem to really feel the cold on planes.  I was glad I did - it made a convenient pillow for the children.

Things rather fell apart on the self-made clothing front at this point.  I had realised the problem when I was packing.  The problem is I haven't made many clothes and most of the ones I have made are knitted.  As a result, most of them are wool, and not really suitable for 90o heat.  The dress that I made, although it is a very light cotton, has sleeves (and I discovered on the school run is a little prone to the "why yes I have been running and agree the cardigan was overkill" armpit) so I didn't even bother to pack it as I was fairly sure it would go unworn.  I didn't bother rushing to finish my Cappuccino dress for the same reasons.  Both are absolutely perfect for what passes for summer in the UK, but don't quite cut it in the Florida sunshine.

For a brief while, I harboured delusions of running up a t-shirt or two to take away, or maybe even a sleeveless version of one of my existing dresses.  For once, I sensibly dismissed this as nonsense BEFORE I spent hours cutting out fabric, made my peace with the fact that really only my lovely Boden-inspired skirt was going to get worn and so only packed that.  I wore it 3 times while I was away, including on my birthday and on a very happy trip to the Magic Kingdom.

And so, just like that, Me-Made-May '15 was over.

I didn't quite achieve my goal - by my reckoning I managed 19 days of wearing things I had made and my goal was 5 days per week, so I was short by a day or two (depending on whether you feel the need to pro-rata the part week at the end of the month - spot the anal lawyer...), but I'm really happy with my efforts.  The main thing I took from it was a really clear idea of the kinds of clothes I wear, how happy making things I made myself makes me feel, and what I need to make more of.  So, t-shirts, sleeveless dresses and skirts have all jumped up the sewing list and I'm definitely hoping to have more homemade clothes to take on my next holiday.

I've also enjoyed reading about others' exploits and seeing the lengths some people go to in order to wear handmade clothes.  Don't get me wrong, I'm impressed by people who make their own underwear.  It just doesn't really interest me.  I don't think I'll be running up my own pants any time soon.  Pyjamas on the other hand.... watch this space.

Monday, 11 May 2015

{this moment}

Joining in with {this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour and remember.

To see more, check out the comments to Soulemama

Me-Made-May '15 - progress so far

The main lesson I've learnt this week is that I need to take photos as soon as I get dressed.  You'd think, since I have two small children, I wouldn't have needed to figure this out, but apparently, I'm either naively optimistic or really not that bright.

As predicted, I've mostly been wearing knitwear, but this has the advantage of making the dressing pretty easy - the uniform of jeans and top stays much the same.  It has been a useful reminder that I generally really like the stuff I knit and just don't wear it as often as I should.  So, without too much effort, I've managed to wear something I made every day of the month so far, and I've enjoyed pulling out stuff that hasn't been worn for a while.  I like that it makes me think a bit more.

So, what have I worn so far?

1st - my wonderful yellow Antrim pullover, with navy jeans and a white 3/4 sleeved top.  There's no pic of this on the day because, after a picnic in our local bluebell wood, it was pretty filthy.

2nd - my wine red Spire Smock cardigan, with more jeans and another white 3/4 sleeved top.  Sorry, not very imaginative - I have a style, it seems, so I guess 3/4 sleeved tops should be pushed up the sewing list for next year!!!  No "on the day" pic of this either because, inexplicably, I didn't learn my lesson from Friday and, even more inexplicably, I decided the back of Mr Man's chair was a good place to hang my cardi while we were eating dinner.  One enthusiastically consumed yoghurt later, and the cardi was heading for the wash...
The eagle-eyed amongst you will spot the change in my hair and the much more "put-together" outfit.  This was taken the day was went to by Birdie's first shoes, way back in 2011, back in the days when I made an effort.  All 3 items of knitwear are me-made.  Does that get me a bonus?

3rd - Finally some sewing!  I wore my Butterfly Coco top with a pair of jeans.  There's even photographic evidence this time!  Yes, that would be me, on a carousel, with my daughter and her godmother.  Kew Green Victorian Fair was a lot of fun.

4th - my navy Cassis cardigan with a stripey 3/4 sleeved top and, yes, more jeans.  I even took a pic!

5th  - a green Rose sweater, with.... yes, you guessed it, a white 3/4 sleeved top and jeans but, in the pic I'm sat in my office/sewing room because I'm working on one of the WIPs I mentioned in my last MMM post.


6th - not only am I wearing something I sewed, you can also see my legs!  And I took a picture.  Yes, this is me wearing the new skirt I finished on 5th.  More to follow re the skirt.  I also made the cardigan - it is Capri by Sarah Hatton, from Rowan 43, in the much-loved and sadly missed Calmer yarn.  Love this cardigan.  Ravelry informs me I made this in 2008 - can't believe it is 7 yrs old, but know it is true.  It has washed beautifully and been worn so much.  Probably my most worn knit.

7th - two Colletts got in on the action on Thursday, because I wore my wool/silk Siivet pullover with a brown vest and jeans, and Birdie wore a very lovely little dress I made her from half a metre of Alexander Henry "La Paloma" fabric that I bought at a Stitchcraft expo at the Excel Centre in March, teamed with some purple cotton and cream bias binding.  I think I posted this one in my last round-up, although I have had to modify (read "remove") the sleeves since then as they were a bit tight.

8th - back to the Cassis cardigan, with jeans and a navy 3/4 sleeved top this time.  No pic, because... who knows, I must have got distracted.

9th - more cardigan action this time as I wore a denim skirt, brown boots, and a white and navy striped t-shirt plus my creamy white Twist & Shout cardigan, which I forgot to photograph.

10th - back to the green Rose sweater but with a similarly green top underneath this time.  Mr Man spilt his breakfast down this before I even had time to think of a photo.

11th - the Coco top is out of the wash so has been worn again.

I will concede I'm not wearing the widest variety of things, since three items have already been worn twice, but I'm still wearing stuff I made and I have realised I do tend to wear the same things regularly, whether I made them or not, so at least I'm making sure some me-made stuff is getting some airtime.

In other news, having already hit my goal of completing one of my sewing WIPs, I've made some decent headway on the other in the last couple of days too.  My Cappucino dress is definitely taking shape.

Friday, 1 May 2015

{this moment}

It's been a while.

Joining in with {this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour and remember.

To see more, check out the comments to Soulemama

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Me-Made May

My recent class with Zoe Edwards has led to me discovering her blog, her amazing talent for refashioning and upcycling and the rather wonderful Me-Made-May challenge.  I have a feeling my friend Julia did this last year, after she had been bitten by the sewing bug.  The idea is, basically, to wear as much handmade stuff as you can during the month of May.  You can shape the challenge in any way you wish and Zoe offers loads of great advice on how to do this, and on what the challenge is (and more importantly, isn't about) here.

It got me thinking.

I don't have many me-sewn garments - running total currently is 1 skirt, 1 dress, 1 top and a rather hastily made and poorly constructed headband.  BUT, I do have quite a lot of knitwear accumulated over the last ten years of knitting regularly and I don't really wear any of it as much as I should (or would like to).

I need to be realistic about my challenge - I don't have tons of time on my hands and we're going away for the second half of the month, so sewing lots of new garments just isn't going to happen.  We're also going somewhere pretty sunny so most of my knitwear is not going to be making the trip with me.  So, with that in mind, I am making the following (admittedly conservative) pledge:

"I, Lyn of Domestic Witterings, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '15.  I endeavour to wear me-made garments at least 3 days per week for the duration of May 2015.  I will also endeavour to complete one of the two WIPs I currently have sat on my sewing table."

The things sat on my sewing table, in case you are interested are my Cappuccino dress (see my last post) and a skirt that I've been playing around with since last summer - it is based on the Delphine pattern from Love at First Stitch (you can see it on there on the cover), but taking inspiration from a very lovely Boden skirt I saw a lady wearing while out and about in Ealing.


I've been bitten hard by the sewing bug in recent weeks.  Watching The Great British Sewing Bee really inspired me, and I've been having fun making nighties, a skirt and a dress for Birdie.

The nighties have proved very popular, the skirt remains unworn (despite being declared to be "beautiful" when it was first produced) and the armholes need re-binding on the dress after it turned out that the sleeves were too tight.  It has been that way for a few weeks now.  Hmm.  Really should do that.

Then I finished off the Butterfly Coco that I started planning over a year ago (!!!!!) but procrastinated about endlessly (and it turns out unnecessarily, as it was very easy and I'm really pleased with the end results).  I may, or may not, manage to blog properly about all these things at some point in the future.  Who knows.  I'd certainly like to.
Please excuse the awful photography, frowny face, roly-poly tummy, laundry and small boy trying to push me over - I'm crap at taking pics at the best of times, I had to crop this one heavily so you couldn't see the rest of Mount Laundry, I haven't been running anything like as much as I should and it is really hard to concentrate when a small boy is trying to push you over.

The success of the Coco go me thinking seriously about sewing for myself and before I knew where I was, I'd signed up for the Cappuccino Dress Sew-along on the Oliver + S blog.  That didn't work out so well in terms of timing and it is still sat on my sewing table, collar completed but not much else.  Oops.  It does look pretty though:

But the ideas kept flowing and the fabric and patterns kept being gorgeous.  More collecting, not much sewing.

I soon realised part of the problem was nerves.  I'm largely self-taught - my gran taught me a bit when I was younger but the more I do, the more I realise she did the tricky stuff for me and I did the easy bits.  So she'd cut everything out, she'd sort the fitting, she'd handle the zip, and I'd do seams. Consequently, I can sew, finish and press a seam like nobody's business but I worry endlessly about cutting things wrong, not adjusting my patterns properly and fiddly things like buttonholes and zips.  It is one of the reasons I enjoy sewing childrens' clothes, particularly girls' things - I've never yet needed to add a zip to anything or found a buttonhole that couldn't be replaced by a press-stud.

I realised what I needed was a class.  I love books and learn well from them, and I'm sure I could do all sorts of things via YouTube videos, but what I really love is learning from another real-live human being.  I've toyed with sewing classes a couple of years ago, and even extracted a promise of a class as a birthday present from Hubby.  I never got round to booking on, partly because of babies and small people and life in general, but mostly because I couldn't find one that was going to result in an end product that I really wanted in my wardrobe.  I'm a stay-at-home mum.  I don't get out a huge amount without at least one small person in tow and, no matter how much I try to kid myself otherwise, a prom dress, a pencil skirt or a 1940s dance dress aren't really appropriate for grubbing around in the park or crawling on the floor at playgroups.  The garments may be lovely in and of themselves, but they would languish in the back of my wardrobe and it felt like a lot of money and effort for something I would hardly wear.  I know the skills are transferable, but I get so little sewing time (or me-time in general), that I'm loathe to use it for anything less than a fully-functioning part of my wardrobe.

Then I saw The Village Haberdashery was running a course to sew the very lovely Deer & Doe Sureau dress in the company of Zoe Edwards, she of the fabulous (but I will concede new-to-me) blog, So Zo' What Do You Know.  It was only a couple of weeks before the course. Before I could second-guess myself, I booked.

Best decision I've made in ages.  Not only did I have a fab weekend, meeting some lovely people, not least of them Zoe, but I also came away with this! (It looks better on me than it does on the hanger, I promise!)

To say I love this dress is an understatement.  Is it perfect?  No, but what handmade garment will be?  It fits, in all the right places.  It looks nice on (I will try to get some pics next time I wear it).  It features a zipper that I installed myself (and that you can barely see). I've already worn it twice and I can't wait to make another one.

I've also come away with bags of confidence about my sewing in general and tons of ideas for future garments, both for me and for the kids.  Of course, since the workshop, almost two weeks ago, the kids have conspired to be utterly rubbish at sleeping so I haven't managed to sew a stitch (other than to add the buttons to my dress), but I remain hopeful that garments will soon be appearing.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Last Year

It  has been a while.  What have we been doing?  Being swamped by life mostly.  Caught up in the day-to-day and not noticing the weeks drift by.  Almost a year has passed since I last blog.  My, how the children have changed.
March - June 2014, if I'd managed to keep up with the 52 Project, would have looked something like this.