Made Up Initiative- completed!

I had so much fun making these items for the Made Up Initiative! I pledged to make two items back in August and here they are.


First up, the Torchon bookmark. I’d not made much Torchon lace for a while so this was a lovely project to do on holiday in the quiet time after the kids were asleep. I used ecru fils a dentelles thread and a dusky pink Cotton Perle 8 gimp thread which I think work beautifully together.


The only changes I made from the pattern were to swap the leaf plaits for spiders, and the edge fans to whole stitch with a twist before the edge. Like many Torchon bookmark patterns, this pattern lends itself so well to customisation- I’ll write about the different effects you could create, and the stitches I used in a separate post.


I mounted the bookmark onto hessian and some pink linen ribbon which give it some stability.


I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out and it was a good alternative from the Honiton fillings I’ve been wrestling with recently :-/


For the the sewing part of my pledge I made this Bronte top and I have to say it’s turned out to be one of my favourite things I’ve made.


It was refashioned from an old pair of my PJs and some leftover eyelet fabric and as I already had the pattern this was a completely free project- gotta love that!

The raw materials

The raw materials

I used the ribbon which was previously the waistband for the front bodice binding which I think adds a nice feature. The buttons are from Duttons in York.


When I cut the pattern out I kept the original leg hem for both the sleeve hems and back bodice hem which reduced the sewing time considerably and meant I could make it up in an evening. One of the original leg side seams also runs down the centre back:


It’s a lovely snug fit and so comfy- and I can legitimately now wear PJs to work, ha!

And the best news is that (as I write) the initiative has raised over £2500 for the National Literacy Trust. Well done, Karen for organising this and to everyone involved in making things. It’s been great seeing some of the amazing finished items over on Instagram.


Made Up Initiative- my pledge

If you’re a reader of sewing blogs you can’t fail to have noticed the launch of the Made Up initiative by Karen at DidYouMakeThat. This is a beautifully simple idea to raise funds for the National Literacy Trust by donating money and pledging to sew or make something by 10 September.

I was lucky enough to be read to every day as a child, and developed into an avid reader who took a book with me EVERYWHERE. I now love reading to my children every bedtime and both me and my husband volunteer in local schools listening to children read. My eldest is 6 and is just starting to immerse herself in the Roald Dahl books which is just a delight to see. So when this initiative came along there was no way I wasn’t going to get involved!

I’ve pledged to make two things, both with a literary theme. Firstly, I’ll make a lace bookmark, using Torchon lace.

P1120480I went through my pattern files to find a bookmark I’d not made before and unearthed a pattern sheet which looks like it might be from the 1970s or 1980s but unfortunately there aren’t any designer details and I can’t make out the signature at the bottom left, so I’m afraid I can’t attribute it. I’m making design B which contains roseground, whole stitch and twist fans, and I’m going to replace the leaf plaits with spiders.


For my sewing project I’m making a refashioned Bronte top (the pledges don’t have to have a literary connection BTW…. 🙂 I’ve had this idea buzzing round my head for a while now but this pledge has given me the impetus to just focus and do it. I had a short sleeved white Bronte cut out and ready to stitch, but the fabric was a little too see-through and as it was a remnant from another project I didn’t have enough left to double it up. At the same time I’d had an idea for using some old grey PJ bottoms and a remnant of eyelet to make an eyelet fronted top, inspired by garments such as these:

Left- top from Mint Velvet; Right- top from Boden

Left- top from Mint Velvet; Right- top from Boden

I was possibly going to make a Grainline Linden sweatshirt, but didn’t have enough fabric for that either. It was during a 4am baby feed that I realised I could kill two birds with one stone and combine the two. So I’ve cut the sleeves, binding and back bodice from the PJs and will use the white front bodice underneath the eyelet. Those nightfeeds are often great thinking times!!

The raw materials

The raw materials

I’ve got til 10th September to get these made and will post back when they’re done. If you’re taking part in the initiative, good luck and I can’t wait to see all the finished items at the end. If you’re not taking part, you can still donate at the Just Giving site here.

Some finished objects

2013 was deliberately a year for learning- the Honiton, making clothes for the first time and just recently taking up knitting again which I’ve not done since I was 10 (and started making lace!), so everything I made was more than a little amateurish and not to be shouted about. Of course that’s not to assume that things will get markedly better in 2014, but I feel like I’m heading in the right direction. First up for 2014 was a skirt, Simplicity 2451 of which I’ve seen many lovely iterations online (here and here for example).

I practised first on a remnant of fabric from Abakahns (which cost all of about £1.90) but it’s turned out really well:

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Gah, terrible selfie pictures, but you get the idea…

The pattern kind of loses the waistline detailing though

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But I did cobble together a lining which I was pleased about. What I really wanted was a denim version though, so having practised on the patterned fabric, I was a bit more comfortable with the next version, but still ended up making it twice as I had a total blonde moment and put the zip in wrong and messed up the lining. Fool! But I learnt from my mistakes and all was well in the end:

Skirt 1



If there’s not a small child round my feet, there’s a cat.

It’s perfect for work, where I’m now in a much more casually dressed environment and I haven’t really stopped wearing it this past week- it just goes with everything. Yay!

I also made a house for my daughter’s 3rd birthday at the weekend, inspired by the Great British Sewing Bee Christmas Special, but using instructions from here.


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She is always talking about her imaginary purple house where her perfect ‘Purple Mummy’ lives and they do all sorts of special purple things. So now she has a real purple house. And it’s great for when we go out visiting people or for coffee- she has something really portable to take and play with. It’s just a shame that her big sister sat last night and picked all the embellishments off it so I need to repair it already <sigh>.

Finally, I’ve just finished a wrap dress using the Sew Over It pattern I won in a giveaway by Karen at Did You Make That.


Wrap dress

The headless woman after a long day in the office

It was really quick and easy to make and is super comfortable to wear. The fabric is a jersey knit which behaved brilliantly and looks great with boots and thick tights, and will be equally as good in the Spring with bare legs and flats. The instructions were really easy to follow and I had absolutely no problems at any stage- I’ll definitely be making another one of these sometime soon.

So not a bad start to the year so far. And just because I like lists, here’s what I made in 2013- they’re not perfect but they’re mine:


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Version 1- my first ever top! Version 2- cap sleeves! Version 3- Ah, I love this top! Here’s a close up of the spots and Broderie Anglais trimming:


  • Mathilde tops x 2 (one without photos for no reason whatsoever)


Blogged about here

  • Miette skirt in navy spotty/snail print fabric



  • Navy pencil skirt (boring so no pictures)

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All the fabric for these was from Abakahn’s- the two on the outside are some kind of polyester/silky stuff- the right hand one was a nightmare to work with, repelling pins and fraying everywhere but the spotted one was a bit better behaved. The version in the middle is a jersey so was very forgiving for a beginner like moi.

  • Girls dresses (blogged about here)
  • Clothkits skirt (let’s not go there- I was bought this as a kit a few years ago, took far too many attempts to get the lining and waist facings right and then it was way too big, so I’ve adjusted it and it’s wearable… just. There are no pictures, it’s better that way. I was just glad to get it out of my UFO pile)


  • Torchon Lace strip for Mathilde (as blogged about here)
  • Various Honiton motifs and Honiton heart


and technically I finished this in 2013 although the bulk of the work took place in 2012:



  • Sewing machine cover


I used the denim leftover from this to make the Simplicity skirt, and the side-panels and lining inside used leftover fabric from my first Sorbetto. The applique I made up myself.

And for Christmas….

  • Advent Calendar (from a kit)
  • Apron (for a gift)

So the fact that I got into sewing probably distracted me somewhat from the lace but I certainly feel that I’ve been creative. And anyhow, lace takes a lot longer, honest 😉

(Nearly) all handmade- Mathilde top with lace edging

I took a bit of a break from my Honiton a couple of weeks ago to make a strip of Torchon lace to use as a trimming for this Mathilde top.


(Excuse the creases- I’d been wearing it all day…)

I bought the lawn fabric at Fents in Skipton but there wasn’t quite enough to do the sleeves as included in the pattern so I made some short sleeves instead, and used a navy satin bias tape to finish the facings inside. I lengthened the pattern so that I could either wear it tucked out over skinny jeans or tucked into a skirt- it looks good both ways.

I found a pattern for a lace edging using whole stitch fans with a twist on the threads before the last pair of passives, which I thought would be fine when I was making it



but now I’ve worn and washed the top a couple of times I’m starting to wish I’d used a design that was a bit wider and more open. I think it still looks ok though and adds a bit of detail between the yoke and the body.



It was nice to be able to combine the lace and the dressmaking for the first time and have something to wear which I have made entirely, (other than the buttons, which I bought)

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Next on my list of ‘lace to wear’ is a Peter Pan lace collar- I’m still trying to find the perfect pattern though so it’s back to the Honiton for now.

Golden Hands

I spent a couple of happy hours at the weekend looking through Mum’s collection of Golden Hands magazines from the 1970. There’s some classic pictures in there- more than a touch of Margot Leadbetter about some of the outfits and some of the knitted children’s clothes are bordering on the cruel- but the thing I loved about them were the really clear dressmaking instructions (which will never date) and the multiple ways to amend basic clothing patterns.


The sections on bobbin lace making are not quite as in-depth and to be honest I didn’t think the instructions were that good (something like Pamela Nottingham’s books are much clearer for the beginner) but it was good to see the origins of the resurgence in bobbin lacemaking that took place in the 1970s and 1980s.

Golden Hands 1

I also found some patterns tucked into the pages on making baby clothes which had been cut out of the local newspaper from the summer of 1976, when my mum would have been pregnant with me- I wonder if they ever got made?? I like finding things like this- it gives me a real sense of continuity and pride that my love of creative things has clearly been passed down. I hope I can do the same in the future.