Stop the friggin press!

You guys. This is so exciting! I’ve only gone and been featured in this month’s Making magazine. Go and buy it to see me. Or skulk in the newsagent, ease off the wrapper quietly and snigger at me on page 74 for nowt. Or check out this pic…

Making Magazine

I did know that at some point I might be featured as they got in touch a while back for images but seeing it now in print makes me so darn happy. Silly isn’t it? But yay!

After all my complaining about ‘not getting enough time to, like, create and stuff yah’ it’s actually been a hive of activity around these parts in the last month. See that zig zag woolly item behind the mag in the pic above? That’s a top secret item I’m crocheting for my sister who is DUE in December. Yep – gonna be an aunty again. Love the fact that it’s not me this time and I can cuddle a little bundle and then hand it back before it explodes over me. I have my own exploding bundle thankyouverymuch.

I’ve also recently finished a gorgeous baby/toddler cardigan but got no photos alas and alack before I gifted it away. But with the mother’s permission I hope to share some pics soon, modelled by an impossibly gorgeous child.

Anna in progress

And I’ve started my Anna dress! Well, a wearable muslin upon which I have already visited some shrieking errors. Seriously – yesterday I must have shouted ‘I’M A DICK!!! WHY AM I SUCH A DICK???’ about twenty times. The pattern is glorious – terribly simple. But dear readers… I also appear to have become terribly simple. But we’re nearly there – just waiting on the next instalment of the Anna sewalong to help me with the invisible zipper scariness.

AND I went to the Knitting and Stitching Show up at Ally Pally last weekend where I saw precisely NO bloggers. Where were you all? Last year I accidentally ran into two of the most illustrious and celebrated blogger beauties all in an hour. This year you were obviously all hiding from me. I went with my crochet teacher and friend Bridie who was elbowed, nearly knocked over and then run over by a shopping trolley, all by a series of grey-haired knitting assassins clutching decorative sampler catalogues from Brian on stall 41. Fucking scary my friends. After said show Bridie showed me round a pair of knitting needles because, deep breath, I’m going to try my hand at the Miette Cardigan. Seriously, why bother with socks when you can drive yourself demented with a cardigan huh? That little square below isn’t my version of the cardigan by the way. It’s a tension swatch. A TENSION SWATCH! What am I getting myself into….?

Miette in progress

Ahhh, I can hear himself stirring. Better go – back soon. xxx

I’m still here… honestly!

George modelling his crocheted cardigan!

George modelling his crocheted cardigan!

Greetings everyone and a very belated but VERY HAPPY new year to you all! Contrary to what you might have suspected I have not been swallowed whole by the mummy situation… although it was touch and go for a while there.

We’ve now had the unutterable pleasure that is George in our lives for five whole weeks and a day and it’s starting to feel more normal, less relentless and much more wonderful than I ever thought possible. I am determined this not to be a mummy blog though so I will say only this to keep you appraised of his situation. I mentioned in my previous post that  there was a bit more drama around George’s arrival. Basically we were discharged on Christmas Eve last year and brought George home that afternoon. An evening of awfulness followed: my milk hadn’t come in yet and George didn’t seem to want to breastfeed. That, combined with my inexperience around breastfeeding (I mean – who knows how to do THAT straight out of the box, eh?) resulted in George losing an awful lot of his original birth weight. All babies lose a bit but he lost just a bit too much and so we were readmitted to hospital on Christmas Day. Yep – the turkey was in the oven, we’d started to open the presents and the midwife arrived and gave us the news after weighing him. So we trooped back to hospital and spent the next few days topping him up with expressed milk along with some vital breastfeeding support for me, and I’m happy to say he’s now thriving! He’s a sturdy hungry boyo and it’s all good.

Thank you so much for all your gorgeous kind and loving thoughts on the last post. I was in tears reading them – there must be some way of printing them all out and keeping them for Georgie to read when he gets older – he’ll be amazed (and probably a bit puzzled) as to why all these lovely ladies are leaving teary emotional messages for him. We are a lovely lot aren’t we?!

This morning I was watching Matt holding George, peacefully watching the Australian Open Final and I thought for the first time: yes this can work and it does feel normal and doable and that was an amazing feeling. So there is life after a baby. I just need to start putting it back in to my days. So far the evenings have been the worst – George is fussy and hungry in the evenings so I’m up most of the night nursing and comforting. But he seems to have turned a corner during the days and has even enjoyed a few three hour naps in the last couple! So if I can get a nap in during the day I’m much more ready to start tackling what I want to do. And with that in mind here’s what I’m planning for starters:

Stick to my promises

Uh-oh. In a moment of madness I threw my hat into Karen’s 2013 challenge and resolved to create a log cabin baby quilt with personalised EMBROIDERY as a feature.  What was I thinking?! The quilt – fair enough. Once you get started it’s fairly straightforward and I’ve already made one for my niece. But I haven’t even begun to learn embroidery. Oh god – I hope Karen doesn’t throw me in the stocks and have people throw craft implements at me if I don’t get on with this pronto. But there’s nothing like public humiliation to get one’s juices flowing eh?

Continue with the joy of Handmade Style

I have been remiss in getting some fab new interviews up on the site. I already have three fantastic features in the coffers and can’t wait to get them out there for you to enjoy. These ladies are the cream of the crop and each have a very unique style. I just know you’re going to love them… when I get them up on the site! Watch out for the first of 2013 later this week.

Get back to making clothes for myself

I’ve still got a baby belly (and a whole lot of stretch marks – gah!) and a bit of a lard arse so it’ll be a while before I’m knocking out fitted dresses but I’m sure I can turn my hand to a tunic or two and I’d love to create a couple more Renfrews (non maternity this time) for my post baby body. I know there are lots of mums out there – any suggestions for great post baby patterns?

Sort out the sewing room situation

So my beautiful sewing room is basically now chock full of baby stuff. And it’s to become a nursery at some point in the future too… so what to do? There might be a way of combining the two for a short while, even in that tiny space, So I need to turn my thoughts to getting that sorted. In the meantime it’ll be a matter of yanking out the sewing machine and setting up on the kitchen table.

And what else – ooh… Watching this little one grow, for a start.

IMG_4207

Completed: The love of my life

george-1Please let me introduce you to George, my last and greatest project of 2012. I should really say ours!

george-8

George was ‘completed’ at 6.02am on Saturday 22nd December at the Whittington hospital in London. His full name is George Thomas Bradfield and he was a sturdy 8 pounds and five ounces. He is just six days old today and he’s already stolen our hearts.

george-9

George was ten days late when a check up scan revealed my amniotic fluid had decreased dramatically.  A previous induction date set for the day before Christmas Eve was brought forward and I was admitted on the spot on the 21st instead. My waters were artificially broken (ouch ouch bloody ouch) and I was left to start labour naturally rather than using a prostaglandin gel to induce. My contractions started at around 4.30 that afternoon. Unfortunately my hopes of labouring in the birth centre were impossible since once they start interventions in your labour you go straight into the labour ward. No birthing pool for me. But gas and air helped…

labour

I laboured for about 5 hours with the contractions getting stronger and longer -averaging about 3 to 4 every ten minutes. But I just wasn’t dilating quickly enough – I was still at 2 centimetres at the end of the 5 hours.

The decision was made to give me a drip to bring up the force of the contractions and induce labour. An epidural was advised (I’d been using a birthing ball, gas and air and the sweet sounds of Marvin Gaye to get me to this point). I quote the midwife here: “you would have to be insane not to take an epidural before being induced my love”. Zoiks!

Epidural and drip duly administered at 10.30pm, I settled down for a long night of contractions and (by this time) old school west coast rap. By 5.30 am there was good news and bad news. I’d got up to 7 cms dilated – let’s hear it for the cervix – but I’d had about 4 bouts of really heavy scary bleeding (later confirmed as placental abruption). The docs decided to take it to the c section and literally within minutes I was holding Matt’s hands, looking into his eyes and whispering  ‘I love you’ (you know, just in case) as the surgeons got stuck in.

george-7

In what seemed like seconds there was a peculiar tugging sensation and then a cry! A baby’s cry. Jesus, words simply can’t express how you feel at this point. You can hear your child but you can’t see it yet and you don’t even know what sex it is. It’s delicious, thrilling, scary and amazing. Matt was asked to peek over and announce the sex and George officially entered the world. We got straight into skin to skin good times and headed up to the post natal ward to recover for the next couple of days.

george-5

There’s still so much more to tell about how we were discharged on Christmas Eve and readmitted on Christmas Day but that’s for another post I think. I hope you don’t mind me sharing all of this. It just feels so natural to tell it and important to mark it. We’re now at home having been released yesterday and we’re delighted to be here. We feel like a real little proper family and it’s wonderful. I couldn’t recommend it more!

george-4

I’m having an enforced baby moon which is basically two weeks of bed rest whilst my scar heals. It’s extremely painful occasionally and I need to speak to the midwife about it or at least get better painkillers. But I have everything else I need to hand. Crochet of course! Coronation Street on catch up, a family sized box of Maltesers and thousands of nappies. Oh yes…and this little charmer. Lush!

george-2As a footnote, but an important one, I just wanted to say what an amazing health system we have in this country. I’m a big advocate of the NHS and the people who work in it, and I felt important, cared for and supported throughout the whole process. From the midwives and their students who looked after us (Edna, Malin, Lorna and Alex) to the anesthetist who topped up my epidural before the surgery to the lovely breast feeding counsellor Dawn who lay on the floor to show me how to feed in bed rather than mess up my cot. Each and every one – totally brilliant. Makes me proud.

Handmade Style – questions update

So I’ve been going through all your suggestions for new questions to ask in the Handmade Style series. Blimey you are a nosey lot. I love it. You’re just like me. Given half the chance and an empty house you’d be rifling through drawers, rummaging through cupboards and pillaging the fridge (or is that just me?).

Anyway – loads of brill suggestions, some of which I’ve incorporated into the questions I send out to the lovely ladies who agree to be interrogated. However, as much as it guts me to say this, I can’t include them all. Because a) I want to keep the questions based around style rather than veering into sewing habits and b) I don’t want to overwhelm the willing participant with a zillion questions even though I RLYRLY want to know the answers.

So… I’ve included a new question about what comes first – fabric or pattern – in the creative process, which a lot of you were interested in. I’ve also amended the designer inspiration question to ask about high street stores that inspire handmade style (not all of us follow designers of course) and I’ve added a further question on forthcoming projects which was a genius suggestion. Finally, I added a question that came up a lot: whether our fave bloggers sew on a whim or to fill vital gaps in their wardrobe. I suspect it’s a mixture of both for most but I’d love to hear how people describe their decision-making process, don’t you?

But there were so many brill suggestions – it just shows that there are lots of opportunities for other sewing interview series – why not start one yourself? I’d love to see a series on sewing spaces as suggested by Vicki Kate – how awesome would that be? Heather Lou from Closet Case Files had a fantastic question on how our love of sewing translates into the rest of our lives e.g. baking, cooking, other crafts. I’d read a series based on that wouldn’t you? Sophie O intrigued me with her query on how women in temperate climates style up their outfits in real life. I think that’s a great question to ask around events such as Me Made May or Self Stitched September as we can see real life outfits in action then. Make it Give it had loads of ace questions around people’s journey into sewing and their motivations as well as delving into their guilty sewing secrets – now there’s two more great ideas for a new series right there.

So thank you very much for all your bright ideas and who knows – maybe someone will be inspired to create their own little nosey corner of the internet as a result?

Pregnancy update: We are overdue my friends, by about four days. This baby seems to be very happy inside where it’s warm and dry I think!

Back from my last ever grown-ups-only hols (for a while at least)

Last week I was sunning myself in beautiful Santorini, a gorgeous Greek island famed for its cascading cliff top villages in blue and white stone and the most stunning sunsets. The husband and I had decided it was time for a sun-filled, lazy break to mark the turning point from carefree adults with more money than sense into mature, sensible (mostly broke) parents-to-be.

Oia town, Santorini

Oia town, Santorini

It was delightful to just chill out by the pool and on the beach (always within the shade of a large parasol, mind) and I brought my crochet needle with me! I managed to knock up 24 granny squares whilst away, which is almost another two rows of squares for my baby blanket. Here’s the project so far… I think perhaps another 100 or so granny squares and we’ll be done!

Baby blanket progress

Baby blanket progress

My maxiumus awesomus dress got loads of wear, being the perfect cool cover up for hot hot days. The bump is getting bigger but there’s still just enough room in the maxi for it.

Maxi et le bump!

Maxi et le bump!

So now, after two weeks of working from home throughout the Olympics and then a week on hols, it’s back to the grindstone in the office – argh! I love September though – love that back to school feeling… now I just want to sniff pencil cases and get new leather satchels and break in patent leather shoes and such like. I’ve got over 300 unread blog posts to catch up on (forgive me if I just drop in and enjoy without leaving comments!), a nightie to finish and a new dress to start work on and the prospect of a new winter coat to get excited about.

Ooh and later this week we’ll have another special guest dropping in to tell us about her handmade style. Yay!

Finally, I did an awful lot of reading over the week and I can highly recommend the following books if you’re looking for some inspiration:

  • The Book of Dave by Will Self – takes a while to get into it and you have to read some of the dialogue out loud to yourself in order for it to make sense (you’ll see) but very good and frequently funny.
  • Narcopolis by Jeet Thayill – Bombay seen through the eyes of a collection of drug addicts. Read this in just a couple of sittings. Heart breaking in places. Longlisted for Man Booker 2012.
  • Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris. No – not a sewing book dear readers but a family memoir. Hilarious. If I was to write about my upbringing, I’d do it like this.
  • The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman. My husband enjoyed this more than I did but it was still an absorbing and riotous tale of history, literature and um… physics and teleportation! Also long listed for the Man Booker.
  • Any Human Heart by William Boyd. I started this on the plane on the way home and I can’t put it down. It’s a fictional memoir of journalist and novelist Logan Mountstuart and his passage from his teenage years between World Wars to (almost) present day. There was a TV adaptation a while back which was excellent but I think the book is even better at getting under the skin of the protagonist.

Right – recommendations over! Back to school with you all!

Completed: Petrol blue polka dot pretty

Petrol polka dot New Look 6864

Hooray I’ve finished my second version of New Look 6864. This time I’ve shortened the dress length, fully lined the bodice and underlined the skirt with silk charmeuse and added contrast piping to the midriff section to compliment the creamy polka dots in the fabric.

Petrol polka dot New Look 6864

I love this pattern – it’s so easy to knock up, despite what seems like complicated instructions for attaching the bodice to the top yolk and the midriff section. The only fiddly bit was sandwiching the piping in there but with some patience and plenty of pins it all came together.

Inside of New Look 6230

I used French seams on the side and centre seams and slip stitched the yolk facings to the lining. See how neat it is? If the zipper wasn’t on the other side I reckon this could be reversible! Maybe not… :)

Petrol polka dot New Look 6864

I couldn’t find ready-made piping in the right colour to match the polka dots so I tried tea-dying some ivory piping first with hilarious results. Then I realised I had loads of calico for muslining which was the perfect colour match! One length of cording and a piping foot later I had just enough to circle the empire waist. I wanted to include piping on the neckline too but that would have been a real headache when I looked at how that part was constructed and I’m glad now I didn’t as it might have been a touch too prissy.

Petrol polka dot New Look 6864

I must reiterate – this is not a maternity pattern, so you don’t have to be preggers to give it a go. I just cut one size bigger in the skirt pieces and gathered a bit more to give me more room. This will last me at least another month or two I think.

Total costs: 

Pattern: Already used so not counted as cost

Fabric: Approx three metres of petrol blue polka dot from Ditto Fabrics – £22.72 inc delivery

Lining: Approx two metres of grape silk charmeuse – £3 bargain

Zipper: About £2

Thread: About £3

Piping: Cord and calico from stash

Total: £30.72

Time taken: About 6-8 hours in total

I also think this could work with a stretchy knit and no fasteners as long as you finish the arm holes properly. Perhaps another version in the pipeline? Ooh maybe I should just move onto something else now…!

And in that very spirit I’ve traced and cut out the pattern pieces for this Kwik Sew 3486 which Dibs so kindly sent me. This one is a maternity pattern and I plan to use my recently purchased elephant print viscose from Ditto fabrics to knock up version A with the sleeves.  I find the envelope illustration terribly mumsy – am thinking if I hike up the skirt and sleeve length and use a fun print it’ll seem a lot less vanilla. What do you reckon?

Kwik Sew 3486

What are you working on at the mo?