Steven’s Suit

It kind of all started a few years ago, when I was making Catie’s wedding dress with her and Daisy was making the groom’s tweed suit. I was impressed. I mean, a tweed suit… you know you’ve arrived when you can make a tweed suit, right?

I expected it to be, you know, fine, but to look home-made, if you know what I mean. In reality it was magnificent. She said that tweed, far from being difficult and requiring years of secret knowledge acquisition, was actually really biddable and forgiving to work with.

So I threw down all my other projects and immediately went shopping for tweed. And then got distracted by other things, and years passed, and anyway, long story short, not long ago, Steven asked me about making him a tweed suit and I signed up on the spot. Nothing like a client and a deadline to sharpen the attention span.

So we went shopping, at a fantastical place, fantastically named The Fancy Silk Store (Birmingham) Ltd. and bought our tweed, a lovely, thick, brown wool tweed with rust accents. We considered silk for the lining, but I advised against it because Steven is going to actually wear this suit a lot and silk tends to perish quite quickly. We chose a deep-dark-purple-brown polyester lining that suited the fabric beautifully and will last.

I then had a bout of anxiety and imposter syndrome so bad I found ALL the excuses not to start. That lasted a few months.

But in the end I got over it and just got to work. Of course, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I was making it in my head. Things pretty much went fine, and tweed *did* turn out to be quite nice to work with.

Horse hair interfacing not so much. I think I will do some more research there.

At least half of the project, time-wise, was fiddly hand finishing. I don’t mind that so much, because while it’s tedious and time consuming, you can at least watch old episodes of Buffy while you’re doing it.

And the whole thing came together beautifully in the end. I was almost absurdly proud of it.

Even the fact that the last part, the waistcoat, had a whole string of sort-of-disasters that required whole parts to be taken apart and re-cut, and one welt pocket that got sewn together three times before I got it right.

Thursday arrived and so did Steven. I’d finished everything I could do without a final fitting, and he patiently waited for me to hem the trousers and finalise a few other things. And then, the moment of truth. See for yourself.






Steven was gratifyingly pleased, which is always nice. He says he will be wanting a lighter, summer suit as well. Hooray!

With that under my belt, I’ve decided to run a course to teach *you* how to do what I did. Join me the first week in September at I Make Everything HQ for the first ever Tweed Suit In A Week course.

Breakfast Foods

We had a festival of breakfast (called BreakFest) at our house this weekend. See my other blog for the full story:¬† but meanwhile, here are some highlights. Come on a course! We eat very well here…

Blueberry muffins and pecan coffee cake…

Homefries with carrots and greens…

Brioche French toast with berries and whipped cream…


Full English breakfast with local meats and halloumi for the vegetarians…

And home-smoked salmon with buck’s fizz on the deck.

Food, glorious food. No need to eat for the next few days now.

Tudor Splendour Taking Shape

I love my Tuesdays. All day playing with lovely fabrics making whatever I want to make for the department. Shame about the commute, but it’s worth it.

Today I took some super-fancy fabric of the sort we just have lying around and made some sleeves and some ornamental stuffed sleeve caps.

I had LOADS of fun (towards the beginning and sore fingers towards the end) making the criss-crossed wrapping and pearl decoration. None of it is ready to be put together yet, but here’s an idea of what goes where:

More on this subject every tuesday I hope…

Other Things I Am Making

While I’m not finding a lot of time to make sewing-crafty stuff, it’s because I’m building a shower. Here’s the frame for the curved bench seat, because I think it’s a basic human right to be able to sit down in the shower. It’s better than falling over while washing your toes.


Slow going with the craft these days, partly due to paid work (in not crafts) and partly due to building a bathroom so that I can have a bathroom for the first time in 6 years, and so that I can get the hell on with having residential courses here.

But also, I’m about to line up a bunch of one-day courses, so watch this space and feel free to request one if you fancy a particular craft.

Also… nom nom nom, this is my favourite new omega 3 recipe: grilled mackerel with seedy salad. The sort of thing I will be serving on my residential courses.


So I learned to knit as an adult (as much of an adult as I’ll ever be).

In fact, I learned to knit about two years ago. I’m 44.

The nice thing about learning to knit in middle age is that, as a crafty person, I’d tried just about every other manually dextrous fiddly skill there was, so it came relatively easily. But I know a lady in my local knitting group who is older than me, way less manually dextrous/spacially fluent than me, who is knitting the most amazing, complicated garment. She’s been at it for 3 years, has frequent advice and remedial help from the more experienced knitters in the group, and almost certainly couldn’t knit even a simple thing on her own, but by golly has she got learning stamina.

Learning a new skill in middle age is almost always really difficult and most of us shy away from it. We say we “can’t” and what we really mean is we are afraid of all that hard work. We are afraid of the feeling of having tried really really hard and not got very far. It’s horrible feeling. I feel it with foreign languages. I never did learn one properly.

But this knitting-challenged friend of mine is my inspiration this week. I am getting back in the saddle with learning things that are difficult for me, dammit. I’m going to get comfy with that feeling of perpetual-near-failure at languages or plumbing or any of the other things I’m finding challenging right now and I’m going to persevere.

And when I’m tired of that feeling, I’ll sit and watch bbc documentaries and knit something.

my latest knitting adventure

Knitting Adventures

Here’s a quick update on the sweater I started.

This yarn is so gorgeous. I have another stranded thing I’m working on that’s on a back burner, and I very much wish it was made of yarn as nice as this, because I’d be much more excited to go back to it.

This is definitely the best Icelandic style sweater I’ve made so far. Hopefully I’ll make many more.

Mosaic Beginnings

So when I was last at my mother’s house in Vermont, I was rifling through her things, as I am wont to do, and I found the most beautiful, amazing cast glass pie dish in the world, which I had never seen before, but which apparently is a family heriloom, having belonged to my great grandmother.

It had a truly fabulous texture-pattern, hard to discern in detail, but I figured a rubbing would give me a good place to start if I ever wanted to do anything with it.

Later, as I was contemplating what sort of giant, circular mosaic to do with the big area in front of the front windows, I came across the rubbing and had a sort of clouds-parting-angels-singing moment. So I scanned the rubbing and started to develop it with a black pen. Here’s where I got to:

I’ll probably put something interesting in the middle, not quite sure what yet. There’s also a border to go round the outside, that was on the sides of the pie dish. So there’s work to be done on the design, and more work than I want to think about on the actual mosaic. It will take many, many back-breaking weeks to make. But it will be pretty spectacular.

First Corset Course a Success!

A roaring success of a first time through the Corset In A Day Course at riversMEET craft cafe!


Happy birthday to me. I made a cake, partly because it’s my birthday and partly because it had been so long since I did it, I wanted to make sure I still could.

Turns out I’ve still got it.

I’ve got this amazing fluffy sponge cake recipe from the internet, and this time I added some lemon rind, and made the filling buttercream with the lemon juice. Very zingy.

I got a lot of my inspiration to learn this stuff from Margaret Braun’s book, which included these lovely little curls for lightening up the whole silhouette of the cake.

I made them out of some old sugar flower paste that had been opened a long time and was really dry and crumbly. I figured I’d try to bring it back, just to see if I could. It turns out if you add a bit of water (wet fingers while working) and work it a while, it comes back to perfect, as-new pliability. The blue also made a lovely base colour to give the gold paint some depth.

I did the sugar paste in one big blanket over the whole cake, since it was only about eight inches high and six wide. I’m glad I have developed my skill, because it was slightly challenging, but it worked pretty well.

A quick base coat of black, just because it’s what I had. But next time, I’m definitely doing crazy bright colours.

Piping curls… I really need more practice at this. If I’m ever bored again, I will just mix up a batch of royal icing and sit piping curls onto a vertical surface, just to improve.

Meanwhile, they come out good enough to paint them black in preparation to give them the antique, broken, slightly rough look that I love.

Getting there… time flying… need to get on with it if I’m going to get out of here on time.

The gold paint. I love this bit. Although it is SO time consuming. I was glad this cake was so small, thinking back over some of the huge ones I’ve had to do this paint job to.

I do love the effect though. Happy birthday to me. I’m going to do this again soon.