Dance like no one is watching.
Blog like no one is reading.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

I love the bit between Christmas and New Year. I know a lot of people don't like it - they feel they are just sitting around waiting for the party to begin but I love it. There are no real demands on my time - we still have enough food in the house to sink a battleship, Mr HoffiCoffi is at home and the little HoffiCoffis are still playing with their new toys. It does give me time to think.

I don't, however, love New Year's Resolutions. I don't really think anyone does. But I do like to think about what I would like to achieve in 2011. My initial thoughts are that I would like to make more clothes - hard to commit to because of the time they take, I would like to ice the perfect cupcake and I'm thinking of eating off smaller plates - oh no, sounds like a resolution to me!

Anyway, I will leave 2010 with a photo of one of my last makes of the year. A selection of fabric brooches and wish anyone reading good health.

Friday, 24 December 2010


Sunday, 19 December 2010


Yeah! I've finished them! And all it took was to be snowed in the house unable to get out for three days. Why didn't I think of that before!

Saturday, 11 December 2010

I would love to be able to draw. Most of the items I purchase from Etsy or Folksy involve some kind of illustration. I am completely envious of someone who can create something beautiful just by using a pack of pencils and their imagination.

Unfortunately whatever is in my imagination just doesn't transmit to paper very well! So I have decided to dabble a bit in creating pictures (I am not going to say 'art', me? art? I don't think so.) from fabric.

My first real attempt is this little boat card. I went through a myriad of emotions whilst making it (gosh - maybe I am arty!). I liked it, then I wasn't sure, then I disliked it, then I sort of liked it, then I finished it and I wasn't sure. Still, I have been asked to make some more so I am sure I will come to a firm opinion of it at the end of it.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Yeah! I have finished all the sewing I needed to do before Christmas. Everything I have been asked to do has now been done.

The final thing I have made is this bunting. The material I used was quite thick so I changed from my normal needle turned hand applique to machine applique.

I am actually preferring how this has turned out compared to my hand applique. Which is in some ways a shame as I like to keep the traditional way of doing things alive, and there is something lovely about being able to take hand sewing everywhere with me. I am sure there is a place for both techniques in my repertoire!

So. Everything finished. What now? Think I will finish knitting my husband's socks!

Sunday, 5 December 2010

These are possibly my favourite tree decorations so far. They are made by stamping an image from a card making stamp onto some calico using fabric paint. I did however find that the image faded significantly when I washed the calico prior to cutting out which was probably due to my not ironing the image enough. I managed to save them by going over the image with a very fine fabric pen and it has actually turned out better than the original print because the image has become much sharper. They are backed with some green and red festive fabric and I love the simplicity of them.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Everything gets abandoned. Received a letter from school 'please could you bring your child's angel costume in by Monday". Swear slightly, panic loudly, start sewing.

Now I don't want to give the impression that I would never buy an off-the-peg costume, because I have done, many times. I also ice shop-bought cakes for the school fair, I admit it. But I knew I had the pattern for an angel costume and I knew that I had the most lovely broderie anglaise purchased for a summer dress I was hoping to make myself. I could make a costume without purchasing a thing so felt rather duty bound to give it a go.

In fact it has turned out very nicely even if a do say so myself. I lined the broderie anglaise with a white polyester cotton and I will eventually donate it to the school where it will outlast a nylon fancy-dress costume about ten times over.

I had to amend the commercial pattern slightly as apparently they thought I was dressing a giraffe so a few inches had to be chopped off on the hem and sleeves. The wings were supposed to be made out of card but I tried interfacing some leftover taffeta and, with two layers of wadding and shoulder straps made of loops of elastic, they seem to have worked.

Now all I have to do is sit back and enjoy a traditional nativity sung to the theme tune of Mama Mia!

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Snow has arrived early in Wales. Time for some serious time spent sewing on my lap!

As you can see I have all the essentials at my disposal. A pile of hand applique, a hot water bottle and my Melin Tregwynt blanket. Oooh Melin Tregwynt blanket how do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

Thursday, 25 November 2010


I am surprisingly determined when it comes to sewing techniques I 'don't get'. Usually, if I can't do something I give up pretty quickly (ice-skating? That took about 3 minutes - and it took me that long to get off the ice!) but sewing? Well, I persevere against the odds.

And so it is with a little bete-noire called 'foundation piecing'. It's a form of patchwork where fabrics are sewn directly on to a thin template right sides together and then 'flipped' over to cover a specific area of the design. But I don't get it. My problem is that I can't envisage the direction the fabric will go once flipped and so I have problems cutting the fabric the right size to cover the area needed. And then I go and use the wrong colour fabric and have to unpick it.

Anyway, enough excuses! Here is my... well... Santa.

There is a piece of his hat missing (hence the button!) the seams don't match and I obviously felt defeatist before I began because I used a dark thread throughout which is showing through. And he looked so good when I designed him on my quilting software!

Ah well, he's going to sit with me on my chair and look accusingly at me through his lovely vintage button eyes. And I will ask him to make me better at foundation piecing for Christmas!

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Here is my second attempt at creating a tree decoration. It is filled with polyester stuffing and pulled together in the centre by a vintage button either side of the star. I love the vintage buttons I used but the whole decoration lacks a 'wow' factor I feel. So fairly easy to make but not visually stunning. Back to the drawing board....

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

I have been making a lot of Christmas decorations recently and I am finding myself embarking on a mission to make the perfect one.

Have you spent hours trawling around shops looking for the perfect bag, or the perfect pair of shoes? I am still looking for a pair of shoes that look elegant in themselves and actually make me look elegant - rather than looking elegant themselves and making me look like a trampling elephant. Ah, but I digress...

The perfect Christmas decoration for me would be something that looks stunning yet takes very little time to make. I have found small doesn't mean quick - just fiddly!

I will share photos of my endeavours in upcoming posts. This one is exhibit 'a'...

It's cute but as it's cross-stitch it took a while to make, and unfortunately I cannot claim ownership of the design, it was in one of the many magazines that I hoard. Still, if Santa gave me more hours in the day I would definitely make more of these as I do like them. However, that is unlikely to happen so back to the drawing board!

Monday, 15 November 2010

I have finally finished the campervan bags! Eight little beauties in all, each one different, all equally loved by me...

...except this one's my favourite!

I hope the recipients will love them as much as I do.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

I am still making campervan bags and I have now almost got them down to a fine art.

Check out the linings...

Only five more to go!

Monday, 8 November 2010

I had a poorly sick little HoffiCoffi at home today so decided to make play dough to amuse him. I have never made it before and it was really easy to make, people have been telling me this for years but I didn't believe them!

You just need flour, salt, vegetable oil and warm water. It also said to put in cream of tarter which I didn't have - I took a gamble and put in baking powder and it seemed to work!

Have warned Mr HoffiCoffi not to eat the strange pastel pastry that is lurking in the fridge!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Sometimes, you can be sewing like a demon but some projects just take time to complete.

To stop becoming disheartened I would recommend delving into the wardrobe to unearth some long ago forgotten homemade item. Put it on and remember that, even though things take time to complete, the joy you or others get when it is eventually finished is definitely worth it.

Friday, 29 October 2010


Despite being half term I am still finding the odd hour to continue with my production line sewing. One bunting now completed, eight bags in bits almost ready for assembly and two more buntings to be started. I'm loving it!

Friday, 22 October 2010


Am I allowed to talk about Christmas yet? I think people who like to make things should have special dispensation to talk about it earlier than normally allowed by sane, not even thinking about shopping until December, people. Plans have to be made. I was laughing at a book the other day when it gave a 'Christmas Countdown' starting at 10 weeks to go.

"Ha, ha, ten weeks to go? Why worry about Christmas with ten weeks to go. Chortle, chortle. Hang on... it's nine weeks until Christmas isn't it? Oh my goodness, I've got to start sewing NOW!"

So, my little production line is busy whirring away, both inside my head and on my sewing table, powered by more tea than you can shake a plantation at. Of course, doing little bits of everything means nothing is finished - so I have nothing to show for it as yet.

So, if you would be so kind, please take the pile of fabrics above as my little test card.... normal service will be resumed soon!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

There are some lovely ideas in craft books written for children. They are usually quick and easy to do and I think a childlike quality in a crafted item is appealing.

The drawing above was adapted from a project in a book my daughter has called 'Christmas Fairy Things to make and do'. I have made it into a Christmas card.

And whilst on the subject of crafts for children. The little HoffiCoffi's made a wonderful collage today whilst Mr HoffiCoffi was running a half marathon. (I stayed at home and ate sweets!)

Naturally, Daddy is the runner in the green top winning the race!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

I wonder when I will be brave enough to cut into my 'proper' stash of fabric.

Here is a skirt I have made out of an old bedsheet!

The problem is that I always have to redraft pattern pieces if I am making a skirt. One of the reasons I was drawn to dressmaking in the first place was because I was having trouble finding skirts that would fit me in the shops. I have a respectable waist measurement but a hip measurement that sends me to the biscuit tin every time I think about it! So if I make a standard size to fit over my hips then the waist is far too large. So I make a toile (practice) skirt every time.

I find then thought that once I've cut it out and sewn it together, put in a zip (first time doing a lapped zip - so had to practice that) I can't bear to leave all that work unfinished. And once finished, I can't bear not to wear it!

So, how do you disguise the fact that it was a bedsheet? I decided not to dye it because it is a polyester/cotton mix and I wasn't sure if it would dye very well. So decided to fabric paint it. I can't take credit for the flower design - it is from Lena Corwin's book 'Printing By Hand'. I also added a co-ordinating border using a piece of fabric bought at the charity shop (a.k.a. donation boutique!)

I am hoping to wear it with these shoes....

which were also purchased from my local donation boutique. Only problem is that after five minutes wearing them I can't feel one of my toes.... that can't be good!

Friday, 8 October 2010


Yes, I am aware that the above sock looks a little bit... well... weird. It looks like something Twiggy could wear OVER her wellies but I assure you it works... thus...

You see, the ribbing makes for a very good fit even over my... ahem... substantial ankle and calves!

These are destined to be for Mr HoffiCoffi. Well, I say these, I've knitted one.

The thing is, you start all excited about the prospect of knitting your own socks and it is truly amazing how, with pretty much no sewing involved, you can manipulate a tube of knitting into a fully formed sock. You marvel at the emerging pattern from a stripey ball of wool, the anticipation of whether you will be able to pick up the exact amount of stitches around the gusset (not my favourite word that!), those few stitches at the end and voila! It's amazing... the first time.

What? I have to make another one? But I want to make something else now!

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Normally, I act like a sane person and buy Birthday cakes. At other times I will do the second best sanest thing and ask Mr HoffiCoffi to make one. This time, however, with an increase in my allocated 'housewife' hours I decided to have a bash and make it myself!

Now, cakes are not a huge strong point of mine. I like making them but I don't have a real flair so it was with some trepidation that I started on my cakemaking exercise. But there is nothing like jumping in at the deep end is there? So I decided to make six cakes!!!! (All will become clear).

The first ones - ok, quite pretty.

The second batch - yeah, not quite sure about this...

The final bake - oh my goodness woman, what are you doing?!?

Once cooked, "sorry Mr HoffiCoffi, could you just decorate the top? I've been making these cakes allllll day!".

Cracking job Mr HoffiCoffi!

Then, why not stack them up into an implausible tower of a cake to make the long walk up to the swimming pool party look like an episode of Laurel and Hardy!

Luckily, it was all worth it when cut open....

Like all good epic tales, here are the end credits:

Thanks to:

The Idea of the Cake * The Internet
The Idea of the Top of the Cake * A book
Cake Decoration (not the icing - I made that!) and Chief Comedy Cake Carrier * Mr HoffiCoffi
Blue Cake Dye * Kindly supplied by Miss R
Official Photographer * Mrs J

Oh yeah, tasted ok as well!

Thursday, 30 September 2010


Gosh it's been over a week since I blogged. It's not that I've not been sewing - far from it. I've been having one of those weeks where I start something, and then another project sort of pushes its way in. Could all crafty ideas please form an orderly queue!

I decided to make party bags for an upcoming swimming party. The party is on the weekend so these little bags got to sharpen their elbows and push their way to the front of the sewing machine. Many thanks to my Mum for buying me some elastic just at the time I needed it! Little sewing supplies like that always come in handy don't they.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

See, I told you those campervans will get everywhere! This is a skirt and top I made as a present for my daughter's friend. I've blogged the skirt pattern previously as I have made it up in a lovely yellow ice-cream fabric for my daughter.

Will stop making campervans soon!

Thursday, 16 September 2010


I have gone a little bit camper crazy recently!

I made these bags for friends using a simple campervan design. The wheels and windows were stencilled with fabric paint while the rest is machine appliqued. I loved choosing the fabrics to use for these designs and had to think quite a bit about the lining of the bags as they are reversible, like so:-

You may well see this bright design cropping up in future posts as I love choosing the colour combinations so much I keep making things with it on!