yes… another one! (i really like these, so get used to them – i plan to make a few more yet!) When i first visited the haberdashery a few weeks ago to pick up some material i saw this pretty blue broderie anglais material. It wasn’t cheap (the material for the top cost £6) but it was so pretty.. i had to have it. And i finally ran it up yesterday. Went up like a dream – i finished making the bulk of it, and the shirring, yesterday. I also bought some matching blue gathered broderie anglais trim, and i hand sewed this to the hem while i was watching the World Cup England vs USA match yesterday, and the Formula One this afternoon. Its still not quite finished – i want to use some more broderie anglais trim to make straps, but i didn’t quite have enough – i’ll have to go back to the haberdashery next week to pick some up.

this is the prettiest of the shirred tops i've made so far, i think. They just keep getting better!

but for now, here’s the photos. I’m really pleased with how this came out. Next up: remember this dress that i sweated, slaved, cried and swore over? This is how it looks now. Dreadful, and this is over jeans and a vest! I can’t wear it on its own any more, so i’ve decided to rescue the bulk of the material and rework the dress – i’ve started seam ripping already…!

More photos behind the cut – enjoy, as it’ll be a while before the dress is ready…!



I just got my new skirt finished – and of course, i had to have photos taken and to share them here!!

me in my new skirt

Its a basic A Line skirt, with triangular panels set into the bottom of the skirt, both front and back. I have two identical skirts in a red and a brown patterned material, which i love, which i bought  last summer, but wanted some more in bluey shades.. hence this one. i’m planning to make another in a blue patterned material, (which i may do slightly differently, just to ring the changes) but first up.. this one!

Next: some more shirred tops, possibly a shirred dress. see what i feel like, really…. more photos behind the cut!


i’ve been busy at work on another shirred top, after going a bit mad in Abakhan Fabrics! One good thing about this kind of top is that you actually don’t need a great deal of fabric, and thus i can pick up all kinds of bargains in the bargain bins there. i think the material for this top cost around £2, which is pretty good going really.

me in my snazzy new top, all done!

I am really pleased with how it turned out, although, as with the first top i made, i’ve learned quite a few lessons from making it.

(lessons behind the cut, along with more photos…)


I’ve recently fallen in love with a sewing technique called shirring. It uses elastic threaded through the sewing machine to make the material ruch up (its also called ruching) and is a very handy technique for making fast, easy tops and dresses. I’ve particularly fallen in love with this dress, and i’m going to have a go at making something similar with this material (with the band at the base running around the bottom of the skirt). but not yet.. first i had a go at shirring and working out the dimensions for a simple top, by making up a muslin – which for once, went so well, i think i’m going to keep it and wear it:

this was a material given to me ages ago and i never found a use for it, but when i was sorting through my stash, i found it and thought it would make a nice top, so i was delighted when the muslin turned out so well...

as always, the rest of the photos are behind the cut… i also got to work on refashioning a skirt from a pair of red denim jeans, although i think i need to lose a few more pounds before i’ll feel really comfortable in it. i’ve another pair of jeans to do this to – a pale blue pair as well, which i’ll probably do over the weekend. I’ve plans for lots more items – we’re going to Michiel’s parents for 2 weeks in August, and i realised that a lot of my summer wear doesn’t fit very well any more, hence all this sewing.. i don’t want to be still sewing the week before we leave, getting all stressed out!

if anyone is interested in tutorials on shirring, then there are some good ones here, here, here, here, here and here. its fun and very easy to do!


A bit of an update on various cards i’ve made in the last couple months…. First up is the mothering sunday card i made for Mom, as i’m really proud of this one… subsequent photos are behind the cut.

Mothering sunday card i made for Mum this year...

This card is made with parchment, and the holes around the outside took some doing!! Still, i’m really pleased with how it came out – the flower petals are embossed and coloured in with glittery inks so the petals sparkle as well – which you can see better in photos behind the cut…


I worked on making another bookmark over the weekend, after i trudged into town to get some more tools on friday – some specialist parchment glue, a large ball embossing tool, a flower puncturing tool, a square puncturing tool and an arrow punturing tool as well. I also stocked up on plain parchment paper and bought some seriously cool black vellum as well, which works just the same as plain parchment paper except.. its.. well.. black. and you can’t see through it, which makes copying patterns a tad difficult, so i’ll have to come up with a way around that one. But just as an example, making the box out of black vellum would be seriously cool, as the markings and gold paint would show up really well.

However, i just got finished with the bookmark, and of course, wanted to show off my work. I think you’ll all agree that its a beautiful pattern – so intricate and pretty:

blue bookmark with fringe - apologies for the flash, its protected by a clear plastic and some kind of flash off that is almost inevitable.

The fringe is made from blue embroidery silks, which i simply threaded through holes made on the base of the bookmark, then knotted in a diamond net pattern, which i really liked and will probably do again in future. I’ve taken more photos in closeup, which are behind the cut as usual.

In other news, since its monday…. another two pounds off last week! I’m now on 215 pounds, or 15 stone 5 pounds. This is 19 pounds off what it was when i started at the beginning of January, and a whole 30 pounds what it was off my heaviest, in April ’08. I really don’t think this weight loss has anything to do with the diabetes (other than being the motivation) or my diabetes medication – Michiel followed the same diet last week, and he lost almost 3 pounds. I do understand why that’s the case (which i’m not going into here, that deserves a whole blog post of its own) … it just baffles me why the medical profession are so adamant that a low-carb diet is unhealthy and not the way to go…. either way, i’ll be keeping this up and i hope the weight loss continues too… If it does, at the same rate, then with a little luck, by the end of March, I’ll be 14 stone something… thats powerful motivation. i haven’t been 14 stone anything since.. well… i dunno how long. certainly more than 10 years!


Yesterday was rather chaotic. I had decided to make a parchment card for Michiel’s Mom – she’d fallen and broken her arm a few days ago – and wanted to get it finished yesterday so i could pop it into the post today. I finally finished it at 1.30am last night – very very tired and rather grumpy, as when i was doing the perforations, the paper shifted, and as a result, when i tried to match up the perforations on the other side of the frame.. they didn’t match up. Arrrgh!!! I ended up sending it anyway because the middle of the frame was okay (the picture of the flowers) and if i was going to redo it i’d have been there at 6 am (i worked on it, with a break for dinner, for 8 and a half hours or so) or later. Not an option.

Parchment get well soon card - this was made from 2 seperate designs from "Parchment Craft" by Martha Ospina.

So i just have to hope she forgives me for sending a less than perfect card – but she knows i do crafting, and am still learning, so she probably will (she’s a lovely lady, she and i get on well, in fact, i get on well with both Michiel’s parents). Parchment craft is a huge thing over in the Netherlands, apparently, so it really wouldn’t surprise me if it turned out that she’s done it – or one of Michiel’s family has – and if they have, then i’ll definitely be tugging their sleeve for pointers!!

I used felt tip pens together with water to make the flowers and build up the various strokes. They're also embossed, as are the gold curliques on the frame around the flowers.

Still, i am pleased with the flowers – I still can’t draw for toffee but the beauty of parchment craft is that i can trace a line drawing like this, then colour it in my own way – and as i get more experience with shading, both with pens/pencils and with embossing, that’ll only help in terms of being able to draw designs of my own one day. I like the outer design of this card too – the curliques around the frame, perforations in the middle, and i’m sure i’ll repeat this in future with variations – different types of perforations, different colourings, different pictures inside the curlique frame, and different sizes of frame too – this was an A5 size card, once folded, and it would be good to do smaller designs as well.

Next project: I’m not sure. I would like another bookmark, i really like the one i made the other day, I’ve been using it the last few days with the books i’ve been reading. However, i do usually have more than one book on the go at any one time (which drives Michiel nuts – he can’t understand how i can do that), so i do really need another one. or two. And they’re good for gifts, too. I’m running out of parchment too – i have two large sheets left – so this kind of precludes any large projects. Although its the first birthday of another of Michiel’s nephews at the end of February, so i’ll have to do a card for that before very long. I’ll have to give it some thought i think, although there are some other things that are demanding my time as well – the kitchen needs a going over, I’ve bought a bookshelf to put in the kitchen for jars and things to go onto, and its still in its box – and there’s a load of laundry to deal with too!

for now, though, chinese stirfry tonight (made with quorn pieces – and lots of veggies, its a super healthy dish and one we both love, and i try to cook it at least once a week), the finale of “popstar to operastar” (which Michiel has been thoroughly enjoying) and i have a huge pile of books to work on from the library, including one i’m going to report on here, once i finish with it, “The diet delusion” by Gary Taubes which is very very interesting…

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