Tag Archives: sewing

Leopard skin lurve

24 Jan

Here are some gifts I made earlier, in true Blue Peter style. And while it’s not quite the same sewing hit as making a garment to wear, it’s a good feeling to give friends gifts you’ve made yourself. (As long as they like them of course…) So, I give you – or even them – the leopard skin make-up bag and the big cat collar.



As I seem to spend most of my time either reading sewing blogs, musing on sewing projects or actually sewing, I find the short synopses that many sewists share very helpful.

Pattern: Make-up bag – a free pattern given when I signed up to Make It Love It blog and the detachable collar pattern was from Tilly and the Buttons

Fabric: Slinky leopard skin faux fur from Fashion Fabrics in Banbury Oxfordshire

I thought this fabric might spew fur like a spewy thing when cut, but because it was short pile it didn’t, so much so I could attach a small zip pull to the make-up bag quite easily. The only challenge for this Panda was the lining fabric that slinked around and I even managed to cover the zip ends as per the instructions.


A covered zip end will hopefully give some degree of permanence to this gift, she said hopefully

As you can see, I artfully filled the bag with tissue paper to help it look less floppy (a bit of interfacing in construction would have helped I suppose) and then added a lovely red lipstick and matching nail varnish. I didn’t make these. The gift was well-received (I hope) and I plan to make some more as wash bags for the male species children of the house. They will be clean and tidy. Sewing across the pointy corners should, in theory any way, help the bags to stand up; I think this would work better with different fabric and a waterproof lining both of which just happened to arrive at my door in the last two weeks…

The furry detachable big cat collar was easy peasy to construct as you’d expect from the wonderful Tilly and I whipped up two in one evening. I made one with the same lining fabric I’d used for the make-up bag and the second I used an off-cut of organic pin-stripe cotton. The latter will be the gift as, quite frankly, it’s better!


This is the third Tilly pattern I’ve used and she’s just fab, always making me feel like a remotely proficient seamstress. Her instructions are always clear and detailed, perfect for the beginner or rusty sewer like me. I was quietly amused (as I am a lot of the time) to realise that the collar will be for my dear friend Polly Pocket, from a pattern by Tilly Button.

Anyway, I’ll be back, in true Arnie style very soon, having completed another garment this week. My anxious/furious sewing was fuelled while listening to a rather important footie match on the radio. All’s well that ends well this time for Sunderland FC. A new top and a cup final to look forward to: Wednesdays don’t get much better than that.

Back soon!

And sewing aside for one moment, who else could I turn to (lyrically) after a victory over Manchester Utd in a cup semi-final?

‘It’s more than a feeling, when I hear that old song they used to play (more than a feeling)

I begin dreaming…’


Pyjama Party

2 Jan

It’s been a while since I last wrote, but here’s a bright shiny New Year and the twigs have finally got their pjs.  Every time I’ve finished a project I think “damn it” I was supposed to photo as I go and show my shoddy workmanship as it happens. I still haven’t quite gotten over the fact that I think I don’t really believe I have the right to offer anyone the benefit of my limited knowledge. Nevertheless, I have started liking some of the blog posts of my fave sewing bloggers, and believe me, that feels quite out there for me, for the moment.

And lo, mama brought pyjamas from the North East

And lo, mama brought pyjamas from the North East

Back to the jim-jams. First up was Cotton-Eyed Schmo in his elephants-go-walkabout pair. I was too tight to buy two patterns for pyjamas so as I’d already purchased the Simplicity 9781 to cover the children now taller than myself, I thought I’d have a go at “drafting” a junior pair for my skinny nine year old.

Surprisingly it worked without constricting my boy in his vital areas. I started off at Handmade Jane‘s blog and read all about her pj construction for her boys and followed the links. If only I could remember them for next time. I managed to make his pair out of one metre of a lovely elephant cotton flannel purchased from Plush Addict and had my first go at adding some satin bias binding. Sense of accomplishment B+.

The boy with curly toes and lovely pjs

The boy with curly toes and lovely pjs

Next up was the strawberry set for my daughter. Again this fabric came from Plush Addict, and I was really pleased with the quality. So far so good. Measured daughter and cut out according to the pattern guide. Actually I made an effort to trace the pattern with my carbon paper gifted through our Secret Santa at work, sadly no tracing wheel until the big fella visted for real on Christmas Eve, so traced the pattern with a pencil. It worked. Sort of.

Note to daughter with dirty toes: remove nail polish properly pre photos

Note to daughter with dirty toes: remove nail polish properly pre photos

Cut out pieces and they looked rather large to say the least. Got stitching, added more bias binding and voila: a pair of clown trousers with enough room for a small family of guinea pigs and their mobile home.  After quite a bit of growling to myself I unpicked the waistband and cut FOUR inches off the outer leg seams, re-stitched and was delighted to see that they do now look like they should, rather than typical circus attire.

Lovely in strawberries and pink fur

Lovely in strawberries and pink fur

Lastly, the camera shy 16 year old. The stars on blue (rather than 45) was ordered from myfabrics.co.uk before I realised that it was based in Germany not the UK. Dumbelina. I’d invested so much time looking for fabric that he would like, I couldn’t face starting from scratch again despite the hefty postage charge. All was going well until I trimmed the length as he wanted them skater boy style and I cut the second leg shorter than the one I’d already hemmed. I ask you. Anyone would think I wasn’t quite compos mentis after a severe lack of sleep on New Year’s Eve.  I sustained an injury competing in Just Dance – a fairly innocuous move to Superstition by Stevie Wonder rendered my left arm immobile. Yes, I know, but pulling a muscle in your arm is super painful and cramps your dance and sewing style. Good job the other arm was still in working order, meaning  that I could still reach my prosecco and bark orders from the sofa. Happy days!

Wishing you much love, health and happiness in 2014…

No pjs for M dog

No pjs for M dog

‘What were the words I meant to say before you left?
When I could see your breath lead where you were going to
Maybe I should just let it be and maybe it will all come back to me
Sing, oh, January, oh.’

All dressed up and somewhere to go

23 Dec

Once again, a long period of work and other life has gotten in the way of sewing, but earlier this month I did manage to finish the Factory Dress by Merchant & Mills in time for our Christmas do. While it might not be a Christmas dress per se, more like a work dress really, I was determined to wear my own creation to our small but perfectly formed festivities, and hope desperately that I didn’t unravel at the table…

Material used: some lovely cotton flannel in a pin stripe from Ray Stitch. ‘Slight’ blunder in the cutting out having cut out the pieces so far I became distracted, returned to the kitchen table, and cut a pocket out of one on the front bodice pieces. To say I was annoyed with myself was a polite understatement. Raging fury more like. Having castigated myself loudly, I sat on the naughty sewing step for a full 24 hours. Hurumph. Anyway, I order another half a metre and patiently waited for it to arrive. In the end, all was well.

I followed the instructions pretty well and all was fairly straight forward to sew up for a novice like me. I was particularly pleased how the collar turned out as, having learned from my earlier blunder, I slowed right down and really took my time. Nice and pointy, huzzah!

A good collar,if I say so myself!

A good collar, if I say so myself!

The only thing I struggled with slightly was knowing when to finish my edges – I tended to overlock the edges before sewing each piece but this didn’t always work. Anyway the end product is something I can wear and feel just a little bit please with myself. I certainly think I’ll make this pattern again but most definitely falls into the autumn/winter pattern category for me.

The Factory Dress

In amongst the chaos of December, I’ve also made one out of three pyjama bottoms for the sprats, finished my 2013 top twenty songs (in my fishy alter ego) for Mad Mackerel music blog, and been to Berlin. Not at all bad for a Panda, I’m sure you’ll agree?

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year – let’s hope it’s a good one without any fears.

Welcome Mathilde: I’ve been expecting you

23 Oct

Hey there, I’m the Panda that sews. Let’s give me a capital letter as I am a proper noun, just a bit shy really. I do other things too, but maybe later.

First out of the stalls on my sewing voyage of discovery is a Tilly & the Buttons pattern that I rather stupidly read as a beginner pattern: hi there Mathilde. Wrong: Mathilde is not a beginner, she’s intermediate, unlike me. Actually it’s her sister Miette I should have gone for, but she’s happily now also in my possession, and I’m waiting for the arrival of a parcel from Ray Stitch to get busy. All hail Tilly for enticing me into the wonderful world of sewing once again and leading me down the garden path to a whole world of fabric fun.

MathildeI followed the fabulous online instructions on Tilly’s website to the LETTER for Mathilde, and I’m feeling just a bit pleased with myself that it all worked and actually seems to fit. I’ve even been out in it. Albeit in the dark and to a friend’s house five minutes walk away. Still little steps. Mathilde is made in a Michael Miller fabric, Hawthorn Blossom, bought from the lovely lasses at Bedecked in Powys. Of course I bought it online; I can’t go shopping in my panda mask now can I?

My sewing vocab increases daily. I am now building a stash, quietly and secretly. (Previously I thought a stash was family silver hidden from granny, ready to sell to fund some ne’er do well Med cruise. Hey ho.) I now have an invisible zipper, a foot to go with, and some basic know-how in how to marry the two.

Mathilde2It’s a jolly good job I decided to ‘rediscover’ sewing with Google and his mates, otherwise I think I’d be lost. Yep, little steps.

Oops, here we go… I knew there was a song in there somewhere.

‘Something good tonight made me forget about you for now.’