Posted in Lifestyle, Sewing

Introducing The Wendy Project

Hello sewists!

I have been thinking about my wardrobe and my style a lot this week. It has struck me that I don’t really know if I have a style anymore and, if I do, I don’t really know what my style is. I’m 40 years-old now and, while I knew exactly what I wanted to wear in my 20s, these days I really don’t know what I am doing.

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I am a terrible shopper – I buy things that I think I like but I don’t put any thought into how they might make me feel, if they go with anything else, how often I might wear them. As a result,  I have things in my wardrobe that I have worn once or twice. Things that are OK but nothing much that really suits me and makes me feel great. I’m hoping that my newly reignited sewing mojo will eventually result in a fully handmade wardrobe but I fear that, unless I take action, I am going to end up in the same situation I am with my ready-to-wear clothes – stuck with a bunch of ill thought out me-made items that I don’t want to wear.

So taking is action is exactly what I am going to do. I am starting my own personal challenge on here,  The Wendy Project,  to rediscover my personal style and learn how to plan better for a me-made wardrobe that suits me and my lifestyle.

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Things I already know about my style:

  • I have always loved vintage clothes. My handmade wardrobe must include elements of vintage style.
  • In the past I would have said my style was cute and quirky. While I don’t think age should be a barrier to what we choose to wear, I don’t feel that the cute and quirky outfits of my twenties are going to look that great in my forties. I need to find an age appropriate way to do cute and quirky or re-evaluate if this is really me anymore.
  • I am pretty good at picking out lovely skirts and dresses to wear for work but my off duty clothing is pretty much limited to jeans/jeggings and t-shirts/jumpers. Lazy dressing that has got stuck in a rut and really doesn’t feel like me. I want to have stylish and comfy off duty clothes.
  • I am fairly slim with an hourglass shape and big boobs. I like quite fitted clothing and fit and flare silhouettes.  I have a bit of a tummy and I don’t much like my legs. Generally I am quite body-positive but I consider these to be my ‘problem’ areas
  • I have never been very good at accessorising. I have a feeling that some good accessories would really  help me when pulling a look together.

The next thing I am going to do is have a look in my wardrobe and pick up to five things that I love and that I feel good wearing, to see if that gives me any help in discovering my style. I’ll be back with a blog on this later in the week, so make sure you come back if this is something that interests you.

Back to the sewing…

In other news,  my Anise jacket is now all cut out and underlined. Hoping to get a good amount of it sewed up this week, including my first ever attempt at bound button holes.

Also, I am looking to upgrade my sewing machine soon and thinking about getting a Brother Innov-is 100 but still undecided. If you have any sewing machine recommendations I would love to hear them!

Wendy x

Posted in Knitting, Sewing, Teaching

Some works in progress

Hello again!

Is it just me or has this week absolutely flown by? I can’t believe it is Sunday already and I am back in the classroom tomorrow. Not that I am complaining, it means I am getting closer to my half term break or as I like to think of it -a one week sewcation! I am planning a whole week around fabric shopping trips, textiles exhibitions, sewing classes, learning some new skills and, obviously, sewing up some new patterns. Three weeks to go and I literally can not wait!

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Planning a visit to the Josef Frank exhibition at the Fashion and Textiles Museum, London.

I don’t have any finished projects to show you this week but I have got a few things on my cutting table.

First up: I am making my first ever jacket. Eeeeeep! I am making the Colette Patterns Anise Jacket as the second of my #2017makenine makes.

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I’ve had this pattern for a couple of years now but have always lacked the confidence to tackle it, in case I mess it up. I’ve stopped thinking that way now though and Operation Anise has begun.

I love the sixties shape of this jacket and that it tapers in gently at the waist, while still having that boxy thing going on. I made a toile, cutting a size 8, and that didn’t throw up any fitting issues at all. (I’ve had Colette patterns fit me with no alterations before so this wasn’t a huge surprise). So this week I have sourced and cut out all the fabric pieces.

Finding the right fabric was a bit tricky to be honest. This jacket is for the spring time so I didn’t want it to be made from a wool or anything that would be too thick and warm. But obviously it needed to be made from something substantial.

I settled on this blue cotton and raffia tweed paired with vintage silk for the lining – both from Fabric Godmother.

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All the pieces are now cut out and I’m itching to get started on it this week. There are a lot of firsts for me in this jacket – first jacket, first time sewing with silk, first time underlining, first welt pockets, first bound button holes – but I am not scared. Bring it on!

Also on my cutting table this week is the New Look 6341 made in a bright red  and white floral linen from Minerva.

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I am making this as part of a two-part tutorial on princess seams I am doing for the Minerva Crafts blog. I can’t share too much about it just yet but here is a sneaky peek of the fabric.

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Finally, I have a new project on my knitting needles. I am test knitting a beautiful new cowl pattern by Rochelle at Lucky Lucille. More details about this coming soon but she is a beauty. You are definitely going to want to knit this!

In other news, my GCSE class have started their textiles coursework this week. A class of 23 girls and one boy tackling sewing patterns for the first time. It’s fun. Chaotic but fun. And my A-level class are busily finishing off their current projects before starting to prepare for their final exam. I’ll share some of their work in a future post but it really is stunning. One of my girls was offered a place to study fashion and textiles at the University of East London this week. I was so incredibly proud of her that I burst into tears when she told me. Textiles teaching is a very emotional career!

Posted in Sewing

Completed: Toaster Sweater 2

I have a few unfinished projects on my sewing table at the moment,  including some secret sewing for an exciting collaboration with the Minerva Crafts Blog that I can’t tell you about just yet, but aside from all of that I did manage to whip up a cosy little top this week.

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This is the Toaster Sweater 2 by Sew House 7 Patterns. It’s the January pattern for #projectsewmystyle, a year long sew-along resulting in a 12 piece capsule wardrobe.

I’m going to be dipping in and out the project rather than making all 12 garments, partly due to other commitments but also because a lot of the patterns just really are not my thing at all.

I can’t say that the Toaster Sweater 2 is my usual style to be honest, but I really love it. I made this out of a navy blue sweatshirt fabric and it’s warm and cosy and perfect for lounging in at home on a chilly night. It’s not something I’d wear out of the house though. Nothing wrong with it, just not me at all.

Making it was really straightforward… I am not a massive fan of a high/low hemline so I lengthened the front of the sweater so that it’s the same length as the back. Other than that, I cut a size M and didn’t make any other changes to the pattern.

It fits me really well but if I were to ever make it again I think I would take a large wedge of fabric out of the back and make it all a bit more streamlined.

Not much more I can say about this really. It keeps me warm, it looks cute, it was easy to make. The end.

Posted in Sewing

Completed: Sew Over It Ultimate Shift Dress

I was back at work this week and finding it a bit of a struggle getting out bed while it is still dark outside. But, early mornings aside, I’ve spent much of the week sewing and drawing. Not that different to my holidays really except this week I have been sewing with children  in a classroom instead of in my living room with kittens!

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I decided to kick off my 2017 sewing with a nice easy project and one that I have been meaning to make for a long time now – Sew Over It’s Ultimate Shift Dress – made from a fab geometric print cotton from Minerva Crafts.

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I have sewn a couple of Sew Over It patterns before – the Ultimate Wrap Dress and the Ultimate Pencil Skirt – and I am a bit of a sucker for their retro packaging. The instructions are always really clear and it doesn’t hurt that I seem to fit their measurements perfectly,  so there are hardly any alterations to make.

The Ultimate Shift Dress is marketed as a beginner friendly pattern and it really is. Apart from maybe a Tilly & the Buttons Coco, I don’t think I have ever made an easier dress.

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There are a few style variations within the pattern, including different sleeve lengths and the option of turning it into a top. I went for the standard dress length, with short sleeves. Once again I found that this SOI pattern suits my measurements almost straight from the packet. The only alterations I made were to raise the bust darts by 2cm and to add an extra cm to the width of the sleeve to accommodate my chunky upper arms.

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It could not be easier to put together.

It is basically a front piece with bust darts and two back pieces, sewn together with a centre back seam. Plus set in sleeves and facings. There are no zips in the dress, but instead a hook and eye closure and cute little key hole opening.  I actually love this type of fastening. If you can pull your eyes away from my weird hairline,  it looks really elegant, no?

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I have quite a curvy figure and, being a medium weight fabric, the dress hangs off my boobs rather than skims my curves. So for me I think it looks a lot more flattering if I wear it belted. But for someone with less boobage I think it is such a great sixties shape when worn without a belt.

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This dress took about two hours to make – that’s including overlocking all of the pattern pieces and hand sewing the hem. A quick and easy make to start off the new year and the first of my #2017makenine projects completed!

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Posted in Sewing

Completed: Simply Sew Annabelle Dress

This is Annabelle! Isn’t she pretty?


Annabelle was given away free with last month’s issue of Love Sewing Magazine and she is an absolute beauty.


I quite liked the look of the dress when I first saw the magazine cover but I wasn’t that fussed to be honest. Yeah it’s nice and all but nothing that special and there’s so much else to sew and so little time. Then I saw the purple version inside the magazine and it was a total game changer.

I loooooove this dress! Made in a delicious plum ‘peachskin’ polyester from Sherwood Fabrics. A colour I never wear and a fabric type I would never usually go near – but look how lovely the fabric drapes on the model.


I did something I have never ever done before and bought the exact same fabric. It was reasonably cheap – £9.90 a meter – so I figured it would be a good choice as a wearable toile.


This dress is so lovely. A wide neck band set on raglan sleeves; gathered shoulders; a fitted waist band with gathers above and below and a concealed zip in the side seam. Beautiful.


I had a few problems with the pattern though. I cut a 12 – according to my measurements – and the dress is huge on the bust and hips. The neck is so big that it constantly slips off my shoulders and shows my bra straps – not the worst thing in the world but it does mean I can’t wear it for work unless I am wearing a cardigan over it. Again, not the worst thing in the world but a bit irritating. I also added a couple of centimetres  to the waistband after I had traced the pattern  – probably taking it up to a size 14. This seems to fit me fine.


When I make it again, and I will make it again, I am going to cut a size 14 waist and a size 10 skirt and bodice. Then I am going to take a further 2cm or so out of the centre front bodice and neck band.

So it is clearly not one of those where it fits straight from the packet but that is the reason why we make a toile, I guess. Fitting issues aside, this is a gorgeous dress and it is very much a wearable toile, which I will wear a lot.


I think I might start adding a bit more purple to my handmade wardrobe too. I never really considered it as ‘my’ colour before but I am pleasantly surprised by this.  I think it works well with my pasty northern English skin tone.

Have you made an Annabelle? What do you think of the pattern?

Posted in Blog, Knitting, Lifestyle, Sewing

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

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I love the start of a new year – empty diaries, endless self improvement lists and so much hope for the coming year.  I wasn’t actually planning on setting any resolutions this year, but who am I trying to kid?! I can’t resist a bit of goal setting.

So, in no particular order, here are a few of my goals for 2017:-

1. Be a happy blogger.

When I started this blog just a few months ago,  I had no real plans or hopes for it. It was just meant to be an extension of my Instagram account really. A place where I could share photos and a few details of what I have been making. I pretty much told myself that there are enough sewing bloggers already and what could I possibly have to say that is not already being said plenty of times over. But now I realise that this doesn’t matter. I am doing this for me and if anyone else is inspired by it then even better. I really like writing this blog and I am having so much fun documenting all of my makes and interacting with other bloggers.  Also, and this is the big goal for me, I am particularly keen on using this blog to showcase handmade fashion forward clothing for the slightly older woman. I am 40 years-old and I hate it whenever anyone says ‘it’s a bit too young for you.’ I firmly believe that we can all wear what we damn well like at any age. I want to show my readers how to do that with a handmade wardrobe. If I happen to inspire anyone while I am at it then I will consider it a job well done. 

2. Commit to #2017makenine

If you follow me on Instagram you may have already seen that I have pledged to take part in Lucy Lucille‘s 2017 make nine. This is an initiative to make nine garments over the course of the year, with the focus on slow fashion.

In all honesty I hope to make a lot more than nine garments this year but these are the ones at the top of my list – either because I have had the pattern in my collection for ages or because it is a new skill and challenge for me.

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  • Top row, l-r  – Gertie’s Princess Seam Bodice Dress; Sew Over it Ultimate Trousers; Sew Over it Ultimate Shift Dress.
  • Middle row, l-r – Hermione Everyday socks; M Madalynne Bra (Simplicity 8229); Colette Patterns Anise Jacket
  • Bottom row, l-r – Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress; Slopes Pullover; I Knit London Brioche Kit Scarf

3.  Take part in #sewmystyle

Have you heard of this? It is basically a year-long sew-along starting this month. It has been organised by Alex from Bluebird Fabrics and aims to raise awareness about the pitfalls of fast fashion. They have selected 12 patterns, one for every month of the year and the goal is that by the end of the you will have your own little capsule wardrobe.

Starting with this piece for January – the Toaster Sweater (v2) by Sew House Seven.

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Such a lovely idea and, while I don’t think I am going to take part every month, I am pleased to be joining in for January at least. 

I will finish with a couple of resolutions that are not sewing related…

4. Get fit

2016 was the year in which I lost a lot of weight through Weight Watchers. Give or take the few pounds I have put back on over the holidays, I have lost around 20lbs in the last year. I am now a UK size 10 and, even though it is far from perfect, I  have a body that I no longer want to disguise under baggy ill fitting clothes. But I haven’t done any exercise while I was losing the weight and it’s all a bit flabby and out of shape. This year I want to get fitter, stronger and make the best of the body I have. Hmmm, maybe I could make some new gym clothes as an incentive!

5. Save

I have been a bit too spendy this past year. I really want to put an end to this and start saving more regularly. This means a halt on fabric and yarn shopping until I have used up some of my stash.  I have put it in writing so I have to do it now!

I could write a load more goals for the year but I think that is probably enough for now.