Category Archives: Uncategorized

Sunny Summer Yellow

V1241 Sheath Dress
V1241 Kay Unger Dress

I usually play very safe when it comes to colour – black and grey with the occasional navy and plenty of neutrals.  However, when I saw this fabric on online I just had to have it.



Ditto Fabrics Brighton have the most amazing range of dress fabrics and this is a Cotton Spandex mix – a graphic rose print in yellow/orange on a white background.


I used Vogue V1241, a design by Kay Unger, which is a fitted sheath dress with gathered side panels, front and back and a wrap bodice with pleat detail and  fully lined the dress with stretch satin crepe in white which gives the dress some added body and is very comfortable to wear.


This is a great pattern for fit, though the gathers take a some patience to get right.   Very flattering shape and easy to wear.   The spandex in the fabric I chose offered a little extra give when necessary.   I previously made this dress in pink linen which also worked really well.

We’re having an Indian Summer here in Scotland this week so the ‘sunshine dress’ should have an outing or two.


Beautiful Blooming July

Well it is now actually August and the weather hasn’t been so pleasant that last few days, so instead of sitting in the garden I’m sitting at the computer.   July was wonderful here in Central Scotland the the garden really flourished.   Here are some of my favourites.


Nothing lovelier than roses on a sunny day.
Nothing lovelier than roses on a sunny day.

The pond has been amazing this year.


P1020120P1020121A few new additions to the garden this year, which have been a great success.

P1020115P1020113P1020112P1020111My vintage ladder display of traditional geraniums and pinks has taken off and really brightens up an otherwise dull corner of the garden.

P1020117P1020118P1020116I think this will be an annual addition to the garden as it has received so many lovely compliments.

Summer in the Garden

It’s great being on school holidays – especially at my age!   I love the garden – well not working in it really, but sitting in it on a sunny day is just lovely.   So far, this summer has not lived up to the one we had last year in Scotland which was really sunny, warm and settled.   It’s 25C and sunny one day, then 15C and raining the next, but c’est la vie!

Rosa Memories

Rosa Memories

I’ve been pottering (or making a nuisance of myself) as I think my husband would put it.    We do have a lovely garden with a small pond and lots of interesting and pretty plants.

We also have a very tall and very boring conifer which has probably been growing for over 100 years.   This year I decided to brighten it up a bit with some very old and rotten wooden ladders (donated by my father-in-law) and some potted pinks, geraniums and osteospermum.    Hope you like it!

Vintage Plant Theatre!

I love roses and pinks or carnations and they are all particularly lovely this year.   These pinks have the most lovely scent.

Pretty Pinks!

I hope you are enjoying the summer and making the most of the long and sunny days.

The Bookend Chairs

I’ve had this pair of lovely Edwardian Carver Chairs for many, many years and I first recovered them before our children were born, in Laura Ashley Regency Stripe Fabric.   In our last house, and our current house, we’ve had a lounge with a bay window and they sit perfectly, either side of a lovely table which I French Polished, again a very long time ago.

Laura Ashley Fabric

I decided I would fully reupholster them, webbing and all, since someone sat on one last Christmas and there was a horrendous ripping noise, as the original webbing gave way.

The chairs are mahogany, which is very hard wood and stripping out the original upholstery and webbing was a bit of a pain.   My hands were aching afterwards as it was so difficult to get some of the nails out, but finally, we got back to the skeleton framework.


I had to glue and clamp some of the framework because it had been damaged in the stripping out process.



Nearly done!Then came the rewebbing, stuffing (again using the original horsehair and some added coir) and finally a calico lining cover was attached.


I used another pure wool tweed fabric for these chairs in a check with plums, pinks and lilac, which perfectly matches the colour scheme in our lounge.   Laura Ashley again, Cranberry Linen floral curtains (made by me when I had the energy) and Laura Ashley Cranberry sofas.


The braid which trims each seat is made from the fabric and antique upholstery pins are used to finish.

I am really happy with these chairs.   They will sit in the window like bookends as long as we live in this house and they really set off our old window table rather nicely.

The Bookend Chairs

This is my last upholstery project for the time being as I’m looking forward to spending long sunny days in the garden (if the Scottish weather is good to us).




Pretty Little Vesta

This little antique sewing machine was sadly in need of some TLC!

P1010924The base and case were suffering from damp and the machine itself needed a complete overhaul and clean.   Dating from 1913 or earlier  (it is stamped ‘Made In Germany’) the little Vesta is a 3/4 size handcrank sewing machine with a long bobbin and transverse shuttle.

P1010926The decals are floral in red and gold and the crank handle is lovely white porcelain.


I think what most attracted me to this machine though was the wooden base which has inches and centimeters markings inlaid along the front and a tiny red velvet pincushion on the lid of the accessories compartment.


It took a couple of days of dismantling, cleaning, oiling and rebuilding to get the machine ready to sew, but only 20 minutes to get the tension and stitching adjusted.   It sews beautifully and the bobbin winder works perfectly too.


I used my little Vickers to make Harris – the patchwork pin dog and I’ve also used it to make wool braid at the upholstery class I’ve been attending.

Last weekend I finally got around to repolishing the carry lid and it has come up beautifully.   Luckily this little machine came with all its original attachments and the original key (these are so often mislaid) so  I decided to attach the key to the lid handle with some black grosgrain ribbon.


Now – this really and truly is my very last antique machine refurbishment –  well apart from the old Vickers still hiding in the garage!!!

The Red Jacket

The Red Jacket!

Ever since I made this jacket in Harris Tweed for my Sister I had an urge to make it again, in red, for myself.   So – nearly two years later!



The pattern is Burdastyle 7321 which is very fitted with a curved front, inseam pockets and a slightly fish tailed vent in the back.










I used a red ex Prada tweed fabric purchased from Ditto Fabrics online. This is a fairly heavy woven and textured tweed, lovely to work with, though inclined to fray.






To line the jacket I used a patterned polyester stretch satin (as for my Sister’s) which again came from Ditto and is just perfect for this project.







I just love the oriental print of red, blue and orange flowers and fans. The fabric feels soft and luxurious and the added stretch makes the jacket so comfortable to wear.

P1010852 I piped the lining seams with satin bias binding which just adds a little extra detail to the finish and also lined the inseam pockets.   This jacket was my first attempt at bound buttonholes.   To be honest – they didn’t turn out quite as well as I had hoped (hence no close up shots) but I did enjoy the process, so I’ll try harder next time.


After the jacket was completed I thought choosing buttons would be easy.   How wrong could I be?   Four weeks later and after visiting every button shop I could think of I nearly gave up on buttons altogether.

P1010850The problem being that both fastening and cuff buttons i.e the same button in two sizes were needed and not so easy to find.   Finally I chose these rose gold, beehive shaped buttons from Totally Buttons online.   These are plastic buttons, with a metallic finish and I really had my heart set on metal buttons, but so be it.   I’ve worn this jacket to work frequently, usually over a plain black shift dress or trousers but it’s also great with jeans and a white tee.

Mid Century Rocker Revival

My lovely son and his girlfriend Kirsty live in a beautiful flat in the Dean Village area of Edinburgh.

Kirsty picked up a 1950’s rocking chair for free on Gumtree after watching Kirsty Alsopp’s ‘Fill Your Home for Free’.Chair After!

In the Workshop – Finished!




Looking very sad and neglected the chair spent a few nights in our kitchen where all the battered finish was removed from the wood before it was stained a dark mahogany shade.


Even though the cushions were burst and worn it is a really comfy chair and has a  relaxing little ‘bounce’ because there are springs underneath as well as in the back.

This was to be an upholstery experiment for me, however I well chickened out and decided to take it to the upholstery classes I’ve been going to on Saturdays (see previous post -Captain’s Chair). I’ve learned so much at Colin’s class – and you get to use real tools!  

Firstly the chair was stripped right back to the frame.   The flock wadding was to be reused in the new upholstery.

Back to the bare bones!
Back to the bare bones!

The next step was to introduce some  bounce into the seat base with stretch webbing (or big elastic as a sewer would see it).

New Webbing and the Original Wadding
New Webbing and the Original Wadding


Some Extra Ooomph!
Some Extra Ooomph!

Once the original wadding was stitched into place some additional wadding was added for comfort and lower back support.

The fabulous yellow velvet upholstery fabric came from Cotton & Chintz in Edinburgh, chosen by Chris and Kirsty, and I decided to use this for the back, with the addition of covered buttons in the contrasting grey velvet.

Contrast buttons!

Contrast buttons!

For more contrast, I added grey piping to the reverse side of the back before closing with the yellow velvet.  I was given a free rein as to where and how the fabric was used.


Grey Piping
Grey Piping

Finally the cushion.   This was hard work and the piping was stitched on the Singer 66 Treadle machine in the upholstery workshop.   This old machine can really handle anything.   I have a hand crank model 66 (see previous post) which I used to complete the piping at home.

With a bit of brute force the new cushion interior was inserted into the cover and zipped closed.   Won’t be taking that apart again in the hurry!

Drum Roll!!!!!
Drum Roll!!!!!

I really enjoyed this project.    Hard graft with the hammer and nails and a great experience at the class with Pauline and Menina, two lovely ladies, also trying upholstery for the first time.

My next upholstery project is a pair of matching antique carver chairs I first recovered in Laura Ashley stripe fabric a very long time ago (and hope to do better this time around).

Holiday Fun

I have been so looking forward to a week off work – and so far it has been really lovely.   As usual I had my list of household tasks which had been put off for too long (cleaning cupboards etc.) and I really wanted to make a start on a dress I have been thinking about for ages using a Vogue Balmain 60’s pattern and some lovely vibrant blue fabric.    So what have I actually achieved so far?    This little guy!

Harris - My Pin Dog
Harris – My Pin Dog

Inspired by Heather Jack (Great British Sewing Bee Winner 2014) who was supported through every project by her faithful Pin Dog, I decided to attempt my own ‘Scotty’ version using some of the many offcuts and scraps of Harris Tweed I have accumulated over the years.

My Very Own Pin Dog
My Very Own Pin Dog

The pattern was a freebie from the internet x 200% and the body was constructed of Harris Tweed scraps in patchwork.   The lovely velvet ribbon bow was saved from a Links of London Christmas gift, received from my husband some years ago and it was so pretty I couldn’t bear to throw it out.

Harris now has pride of place on my sewing trolley!

Harris Making Sure I Keep my Sewing Tidy
Harris Making Sure I Keep my Sewing Tidy

Thank you Heather – for your inspiration.   You are such a worthy winner and you were so disbelieving that you had actually won!!!.


MadMen 3 Challenge Dress

Can’t believe I haven’t watched Season 6 yet.   Too busy sewing my MadMen Dress for the Challenge hosted by the lovely Julia Bobbin.

Actually I have cheated outrageously on this challenge as I actually made my dress last summer.   I had planned on making a 60’s two piece dress for this year’s challenge, using a lovely original vintage pattern.   However that has had to wait due to curtains, blinds and upholstery projects.   Think I need to give up my day job!!!

More than a bit crushed, but remember - it is only March in Scotland - so still at the back of the wardrobe!
More than a bit crushed, but remember – it is only March in Scotland – so still at the back of the wardrobe!
The dress Betty is wearing in the photo on the right has many similar features to my dress.
The dress Betty is wearing in the photo on the right has many similar features to my dress.
Love all of these!
Love all of these!


The pattern was from as US seller on Etsy and although the packaging was in quite poor condition, the pattern itself was perfect.   No adjustments were made to sizing at all (due to good luck rather than good judgement).   I decided on version 2, sleeveless and with concealed buttons under a central placket.



I used a pindot cotton print in French Navy and Cream and lined the dress in royal blue silk with an underlined bodice.   The buttonholes and placket were a new challenge for me but, despite how it looks in the photo, when the dress is ironed it all looks great.

I decided to go all out with a self fabric belt and the buckle is an original vintage plastic which I had in my button box.



This is probably the the nicest vintage pattern I have ever used
This is probably the the nicest vintage pattern I have ever used

To add a bit of a twist the dress also looks good with a tan leather belt.

In the photo I am wearing (not that you can see them) a fabby pair of vintage marcasite and faux pearl clip on earrings, which I love but which are pure agony on the earlobes after about 2 minutes.


I have loved taking part in the Challenge this year and, all going well, I will have my two piece ready 2015!!!

I really should have ironed the dress before the photos were taken!

Adventures in Upholstery!


Doesn’t sound very exciting does it?   For the last three weeks I’ve been going to  a class in traditonal upholstery all day on Saturdays and I’m absolutely loving it.   The class takes place in a tiny village on the way to Aberfoyle – about 40 minutes drive from my home in Central Scotland.   The  workshop is a tiny schoolroom attached to the original school master’s house.   Cosy and quaint , it’s like stepping back in time, several hundred years.

In the workshop

My tutor believes in natural products, recycling materials and ethical sourcing so it is just great to use natural jute webbing and hessian, recycled flock filling and sustainable coir or horsehair.

My first project is the complete revamp of a mid century vintage rocking chair for my son and his girl friend.  This is a major starter project and great fun – post to follow as this progresses.

I also took along this  antique captain’s chair which belonged to my mum and dad as a little side project.

New webbing

Padded with coir and covered with calico
Padded with coir and covered with calico.

Hessian webbed, hessian based, stuffed with coir, covered with calico and a layer of flock, before a finally being covered with fabulous Harris tweed from the lovely people at the  Harris Tweed & Knitwear Company it has taken on a new life and a true beauty.


I am so proud of the finished result.  

The final trim which is attached with upholstery pins,  is actually bias fabric as I didn’t really see a decorative braid working well on the tweed.   The oak frame was quite dirty and tired looking after being in storage for some time.   I stripped back the dirt using wood restorer, then applied a generous coat of wood polish and oils blended.  Finally I applied two coats of Liberon natural beeswax and buffed this to a lovely burnished sheen.   The natural patina of the wood and wear to the arms etc.  still  glows through maintaining the character of this lovely old chair.