Five inspirational blogs

5 inspirational blogsWe all suffer from slumpy inspiration from time to time. Generally for me a crash comes when I’m short on free time. Without time to get lost in my sewing projects or take photographs or just to sit and be I fall into a cycle of work, eat, watch telly, sleep, repeat.

But thankfully there is still inspiration to be found in my RSS reader. I’ve been revamping my list of blogs to read recently, and felt it was high time to share a few of my favourite reads. I love a good mixture, and the 200+ blogs in my reader include sewing, fashion, lifestyle, interior design, science, and grumpy cat. Because everyone loves grumpy cat. Honestly I could have picked twenty favourites for this post, but I thought I stick to a more buzzworthy five.

Randomly HappyJust one look at Elena’s colourful, happy blog lifts my soul. Good blog design is really tricky to get right, not to mention having a really cohesive visual style, and she has really nailed it. And of course she is a wonderful sewer. I found one of her recent posts on sewing a capsule wardrobe particularly inspiring, not least because she appears to share my love of Coco and the Ultimate Trousers. One of the first projects I featured on this blog, aside from the beginnings of my Coco army, was Elena’s easy foldover clutch, which was such a success that I wore it out to my hen party. And if anyone can inspire me to overcome my fear and try making a shirt, it’s her!

Maria Van NguyenNot a sewing blog per se – Maria Van Nguyen (formerly Vanilla Scented) is a super-talented fashion student from Norway studying at Parson’s in New York. Her blog is a mix of stark, minimal interiors, behind the scenes snaps of Parsons and New York life and (my favourite) magazine-worthy images of the clothes that she has designed as part of her course. I love her as a fashion blogger because while she does obviously have an eye on current trends, her own style is evolving almost entirely independently. She is a designer discovering her voice. and it is beautiful to watch. Plus she shares my fetish for grey wool fabric, and regularly whips up the sort of garments that I one day hope to be skilled enough to replicate.

Take Courage BlogI think most people will be familiar with Cat’s beautiful, mid-century, vintage clothing, great outdoors-filled blog. She is a London lawyer who lives with her boyfriend ‘The Texan’ and a new squeedorable kitty called Chutney, and who fits in creating the most amazingly photographed content around what (based on the experience of one of my best friends, also a lawyer for a London firm) can only be the most hectic work/life schedule imaginable. Take Courage is one of those blogs to get lost in; whether she is making, baking or taking outfit photographs Cat’s photographs are a source of endless inspiration for me. Plus her latest posts have been a bit like a Stephen Cartwright illustration, only with a hidden ginger kitten in ever picture rather than a yellow duck. Such a cute kitty.

Ada SpraggNot your Nana’s sewing indeed. This is the newest blog find for me in this list; I think I first discovered Ada Spragg (aka Sophie, writing under the name of her Great Nanna) via Instagram and promptly lost a good few hours to browsing through her back catalogue of posts. Not only does this lady have mad sewing skillz, but her style is really interesting. For someone who wears as much grey as I do (not because I hate colour, but because I really love grey!) there is something fascinating and entrancing about really colourful outfits. Like this one. Which she made using SCUBA, one of my current fabric obsessions (see here and here). Sewers like Sophie are also inspiring me to think more about my sewing plan. At the moment I work on a very ad hoc basis, without giving a lot of thought to whether the finished items will all work together. What I want to start doing is making a coherent plan for each season, like this. Checked culottes and all.

A Beach CottageFinally, sometimes we all need a happy place to escape to. One day in the future I would love to have a little home overlooking the cliffs somewhere like Pembrokeshire or North Cornwall, where I can spend my days roaming the cliff paths, surfing, and sitting at my sewing machine, which is located in the perfect window alcove overlooking the sea. But for now when I want to retreat to somewhere tranquil Sarah’s beautiful beach cottage in Australia is my bolthole of choice. It’s a homely, cosy place where you can find delicious recipes, beautiful interiors inspiration and seaside views. A holiday cottage for the soul. Since swapping city life in London for beach life in Sydney, stylist and photographer Sarah has been documenting the renovation and restoration of her cottage, and I just love her clean, cosy style. If my home one day looks like this, I will be a very happy bunny indeed.

Finding some festive mojo

DSC_0022_editFor anyone who feels that you-know-what should be confined to just one day in December, this might not be the post for you…  Because I love Christmas more than just about any other holiday in the entire year. And why should so much amazing food, and light, and family fun be restricted to just one day? The trick is not not exhaust all your festive feeling in one go. So no tree for me yet, just a few little festive touches to add some special glamour to the everyday grind of getting up and foraging for underpants.

My Christmas buzz started a couple of weekends back with a visit from one of my best friends. We mooched around town in the pouring rain, and sought sanctuary in the beautiful sanctum of peace and glory that is Liberty. If I could live anywhere in London it would be Liberty. I’d make a tent out of strawberry thief print tana lawn in the haberdashery department, and conduct daring raids on the Charbonnel et Walker stand for salted caramel truffle sustenance. At night I’d unpack all the Diptyque candles and make my little tent smell like Christmas. And I’d invite everyone over for sophisticated tea parties in the homeware department, where we would recline in faux-Moroccan arm chairs and rest our feet on random life size leather pigs (yes these are real). But I massively digress.

I’ve had one of those weeks that has been crazy busy, but a lot of good stuff has happened. From little things like the release of a new Pokemon game, which is mostly responsible for my blogging fail over the past week (#sorrynotsorry), to much bigger career-type things that feel very exciting. Plus also the looming Big Adventure. I have two weeks of work left before I disappear for three months so everything is a little manic! But because of that, I think a few Christmas treats, like the first homemade mince pie, some cheap silver lights from Sainsburys, and a not-so-cheap scented candle that smells like the best mulled wine you ever drank, are a completely legitimate way of finding a bit of fun. Especially when you’re so busy that you can’t remember how the hairdryer works.

I plan on being back to normal sewing behaviour and blogging schedule (Wednesdays and Saturdays) next week, but until then please do feel free to join me in my Liberty Christmas fantasy land.

Contrast yoke Coco (aka a Total Style Departure)

DSC_1387_edit-4There has been a definite trend to my sewing over the last few months. Lots of grey, navy, white and black; chic wintery colours. I’m actually working on something more seasonal in grey wool at the moment; this little Coco dress was a sideline that I’ve been toying with for a while. Presumably my choice of neutral colour palette is responsible for what could be generously described as a colour outrage.

Meet Yoko, the contrast yoke Coco. Yes she is the terrible, irresistible pun that just keeps on giving. Breaking up the beautiful harmony of my neutral capsule wardrobe band with her hippy notions of colour and contrasting stripes. Look at her there, disrupting the creative vision of carefully coordinating separates. I often like to think I have my personal style nailed, but sometimes the temptation to experiment with something wildly outside my comfort zone is just too, well, tempting.


I’ve been oggling the contrast yoke Coco variations on Tilly’s blog for a while now, trying to decide whether the departure from one simple colour is a little too zany for me or not. What swung the decision was the huge pile of knit fabric scraps I have lying around the house – I hate having excess remnants. In this case I had stripes left over from this Coco, and a splash of red from this one. All it took was the return of my overlocker pedal, which I foolishly left at my parents’ house, to bring this baby to life.

And you know what, Frankenstein may have rejected his monster, but I adore mine.

DSC_1387_edit-3I’m just sad that it’s now too cold to show off the short sleeves or beautiful contrast stripes!


DSC_1371_editHaving an entire Saturday to myself is such a luxury these days, that I really like to make the most of it. My eyes pop open of their own accord at around 6.30am, I sneak a toe out from under the duvet, followed by an entire leg, and sneak off to mine and Chris’s shared study for some solitary sewing time.

Sarai from Coletterie posted a few weeks back about her sewing rituals. I think we all have them, I know I certainly do. I mean hell, I have different rituals for most nights of the week. Especially when I have a few free hours that are mine all mine, I like to savour them and run through all the little steps that make that time doing something that I love all the more satisfying. During a long stressful week I find myself yearning for those lovely tranquil moments and willing the weekend on just so I can enjoy them.

This morning I snuck from between the sheets early (and in the dark, the winter downside to being a morning person!) to finish of this blog post. Normally my rituals include working out and blogging on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but this has been a mental week. All the more reason for some sewing time!

My caffeine tolerance is really low, but I do like a cheeky weekend coffee. Weak and milky with a splash of gingerbread syrup, poison to anyone else but delicious to me. I like to have a candel burning while I sew, although obviously high up where it won’t set my fabric on fire. Something fancy like Jo Malone or Diptyque – I’m totally happy with Sainsburys super cheap candles in the rest of the house, but I do like a bit of luxury in the sewing space. Last but not least, something trashy on Netflix. I was watching Gossip Girl, until I realised that I was two season in, had worked out who Gossip Girl was, and didn’t care. Now I’m onto some seriously bad sci fi called Lost Girl, which is enjoyably bad thus far.

Today’s project is twofold: finish the muslin for my Tilly and the Buttons Françoise dress, and start on the real thing. I have two different fabrics lined up. The first is a beautiful grey wool from my stash that I’ve already used a lot (the Capital Chic Mahattan and the Tilly and the Buttons Delphine). It’s so delicious that I’ve already repurchased it once – does anyone else do that? The second is a slightly more fiddly red crepe from Sew Over It, that I think will look beautiful, but I am slightly terrified of. Wish me luck!

So that’s me, all set up and ready to sew. Please tell me that I’m not alone and that other people have funny little rituals as well!

Me made somedays

DSC_1343_editFirst up, who would have thought there were so many former (or current!) Sylvanian Families fans out there! Thank you so much for all love on my silly little post about dressmaking for tiny bears, it really made my weekend. I was even featured by the lovely Harriet in her ‘Lazy Sunday Links‘ round up, which is a serious honour, and I am extremely grateful.

I wanted to share a few photographs today that show another ‘me made’ outfit in action. Although serious, regular, obsessive dressmaking has only been my thing for the last few months I am already building up a small collection of me made garments that I wear a lot. I mean every day a lot. Chris took these photos for me ages ago, and to be honest they’re not the best shots of me. I really wasn’t feeling photogenic that day! But the outfit is a winner, and one of my favourites at the moment. Take one edgy mini in grey wool and add a classic striped top: fashion magic.



Yeesh, more awkward pos-ang. Anyhoo, do I even need to tell you whose shirt pattern this is? Yet another Coco to swell the ranks of the global army. I myself command a modest battalion of six so far, although two of those are scheduled to be dismantled because, well, they need rethinking.

Capital Chic Manhattan skirt

The skirt is another Capital Chic pattern, the Manhattan mini skirt, which I knew I had to make the moment I saw it. This is the A version, slightly shorter and with a chunk taken out of the front hemline. I actually had a bit of a nightmare getting this skirt to fit properly. Clearly I’m just too generous in the Kim Kardashian department for conventional skirt sizing, and normally the styles I go for are pretty free over the hips. My first attempt – the size 12 – was too small across the hips. So I cut the size 14 instead, and still ended up having to let the side seams out by 1cm on each side. Once I’d made those adjustments of course the waist was too big, so I took the excess out of the back seam when I fitted the zipper. This has made a slightly strange dip in the back waistband, bit as I am a scruffy little otter who always has her shirt untucked, I don’t think anyone will notice.

Speaking of zippers, let’s have a quickie close-up…



That chaps is my first ever exposed zip. Not too shabby huh? This is also the first time I have lined a skirt, using a simple white cotton from my stash. When I started to really work on smartening up my dressmaking skills, I had only ever sewn in zips by hand in a really rough and ready fashion. Now I bet even the most fiddly of zip insertions couldn’t phase me! (Although please don’t test me on that).

Getting dressed in the morning has always given me far more pleasure than it should, and putting together outfits combining clothes that I have made is a whole new level of euphoric awesomeness! These pieces may be very simple, but they give me enormous pleasure.