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Sunday Sevens #111

As with all of you, I’m sure, these last few weeks have been hectic and I’ve been offline for a large portion of that time. I hope to find time this evening to catch up on some blog reading and see what you’ve all been up to but, in the meantime, here’s my Sunday Sevens.

1. I found this great book in TKMaxx and bought it based on the cover photo!


2. I’m still at the stage where I want to keep my car spotless. Not sure how long that will last.


3. Managed to squeeze in lunch and a bit of shopping with my sister. Tambourine Village in Street again – lush!


4. Our new sofa arrived from Laura Ashley! It’s cranberry crushed velvet and so much cosier than the old leather ones.


5. It sits opposite the one we got off eBay a few weeks ago. I know, I know – I don’t do minimalism:)


6. Our village Christmas supper went down very well as usual. Even though I came off the committee in March, I still seem to get roped in to organise things as before as I just can’t say no to people!


7. We took a ‘plane to Scotland……

8. …..and went to see a pantomime in King’s Theatre in Glasgow.

9. We stayed in a hotel overnight before getting up at 4am to catch another ‘plane to Lapland to meet the real Father Christmas! A separate blog post will follow – eventually:)

10. Back in Blighty a few days later, they opened their new pyjamas. New PJs are a bit of a tradition now at Christmas.

11. For some reason a selfie is a mirror image on my ‘phone, hence the text being back to front, but it’s a pattern review I did for Sewing World magazine.

12. Another Christmas present finished, to be blogged about on Wednesday for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network.

13. More yarn – I have to make another one for her little sister for Christmas. I foresee a VERY late night or two….

14. Friends joined us for an impromptu evening playing Christmas ‘Hangman’. Cheese and drinks aplenty were consumed.

15. Both of my Stitching Santa parcels arrived! Mine are both posted now, too, so I can relax a tiny bit as another deadline has been reached by the skin of my teeth.

I’m loving seeing all your Stitching Santa updates on blogs and Instagram – keep them coming!


Stitching Santa Sewing Idea

Having concentrated on my knitting Stitching Santa swap, I’ve only just started to get on with my sewing swap. Knitting and crochet take longer, so I wanted to finish those handmade items before moving onto the sewn ones, hoping that these will be a lot quicker.

This one took about an hour and I thought I’d share it with you in case anyone fancies having a go themselves. I think it makes a great little gift – I know I’d be happy with it in my Stitching Santa parcel!

I had an A5 hardback notebook in the office, just lying around begging to be made beautiful and, luckily, I found the perfect fabric for a dressmaker in my collection.


I started by cutting a rectangle of wadding exactly the same size as the notebook.


Any PVA adhesive will do – just spread it on lightly all over the front surface of the cover.


Press the wadding on to the tacky glue, then turn it over and do the same with the spine and back cover.


Cut a rectangle of fabric about two inches wider all around than the notebook and spread glue directly onto the wrong side of the fabric.


Lay the notebook cover onto the glued surface of the fabric and press with your fingers. Turn the excess fabric inwards and stick it to the inside cover.


Work around the notebook applying more glue as necessary, mitring the corners as you go.


Use plenty of glue to cover the tiny bit of spine that needs covering. If you choose a PVA that dries clear, any surplus will be invisible when it dries.


Finally, cut a decorative piece of paper to act as an end paper, covering the raw edges of the fabric to achieve a smart finish.



And there you are – a padded notebook, ideal for any seamstress.


I hope my Stitching Santa recipient likes it – I’m tempted to make one for myself!



#Stitching Santa Progress

I’m taking part in both Stitching Santa swaps again this year and thought I’d share my progress so far and perhaps provide a little inspiration for others taking part or, indeed, anyone wishing to make some handmade gifts this Christmas.

I’ve already spent my £10 budget for the yarn swap, so am now able to concentrate on making a few small items to include in my parcel. As knitting takes far longer than sewing does, I looked for some quick makes which could be whipped up in an evening.

This first one is a mini stocking and is a free pattern by Julie Williams (aka Little Cotton Rabbits) on Ravelry. 

The charts are clear and easy to follow – a great introduction to stranded colourwork if you haven’t tried it before.

The finished stocking measures about five inches plus the hanging loop and took just a couple of hours all in.

Next up was a project from Wooly Woofers, a book by Debbie Bliss.

I bought it two years ago, more for the wonderful way the dog models were integrated into the brilliant illustrations – pure genius.

I cast on one night…..

…..and made good progress.

By the second night, and a total of about three hours knitting, the bandana was complete. Here it is after blocking.

I chose the distinctive ‘paw print’ design which was fun to watch taking shape.

Tess was a reluctant model, but I managed to get this photo of her wearing it.

There is also a ‘Scottie’ motif, if you prefer. This image is taken from the book, of a much more cooperative Yorkie. Looks like she’s being bribed with treats!

Another photo from the book showing that one size fits all dogs.

I think this one is going to be next on the list of doggy makes – perfect for Fifi.

I will share more ideas with you as I make things, so watch this space!


#stitchingsanta 2016


Everyone should have received an email from me by now detailing who their #stitchingsanta swap partner is – if you haven’t, check your spam folder.

Please could you all acknowledge receipt of the email, too, so that no one is disappointed on Christmas Day without a parcel to open.

I hope you enjoy finding out more about your recipient and have fun putting together a suitable parcel for them – I know I will!

Here’s a list of everyone that’s taking part, so feel free to click on the links to keep abreast of their #stitchingsanta updates and maybe make some new blogging buddies.

sewchet (that’s me!)
























beadsandbarnacles – Pippa

Beadsandbarnacles – Nicky





















Sunday Sevens #102

Time for another Sunday Sevens as organised by Nat at Threads & Bobbins . Not that we’ve heard much from Nat lately – where are you Nat, we miss you?

  1.  Working on the lacy border for the Baby shawl commission that I’ve been slogging away at for a few months. Baby was due yesterday and I’ve run out of time! Trouble is, I get a numb bum if I sit for more than two hours at a time, so I can’t knit it any faster.

2. Whilst I’m still in my Summer linens and flip flops, I’m looking ahead to more typical Autumn weather and thinking about what to wear on the chillier days to come. I’m making the main view in orange and brown Ponte Roma – very seasonal colours. It’s actually a dress which looks like a skirt and top and I reckon it’ll get a lot of wear as it’s as comfortable as a tracksuit but MUCH smarter for everyday use. In fact, I’ve already got plans for a second one in different colours.

3. I finally got around to buying some spray starch for all those crocheted daisies that I made back in July. What a difference it makes. These are going to be a garland for my upcycled oak dresser.

4. As you probably know, I cook a LOT, so should be pretty good by now. However, cakes are not my forté – they always taste great….but look rubbish. Not this time! I used this Carrot Cake  recipe and followed it to the letter and it actually rose!

5. I doubled up on the icing so that I could put some in the middle, too, and topped it off with the grated zest of an orange.

6. Here’s what’s left of it on the far right after a friend hosted a very successful charity MacMillan Coffee Morning during which over £200 was raised!

7. My iPhone 5s is currently residing in a bag of rice. Why? Dear husband left it in his trouser pocket and it went through a wash cycle. I think it’s too far gone to dry out in a bag of rice. I’ve got 18 months left on the contract and no phone so you can imagine how cross I was. Anyone got a spare one…..?!

8. No.1 Son took a snap of the harvest lunch (as I no longer have a camera phone…). It was taken at the end when people had started to leave  so you’ll have to believe me when I say the hall was full and it was a lovely atmosphere.

9. And finally……#stitchingsanta 2016 has started! Click on this link to sign up and take part this year.



#stitchingsanta 2016!

ButtonThe last two year’s #stitchingsantas were such a roaring success, that I promised to do it all again this year and the time has come to sign up!

It’s a Secret Santa with a difference aimed at all the like-minded crafty folk here on the internet – YOU!

Whether you’re one of the lucky few whose family know and understand you so well that you receive endless perfect gifts based on your love of sewing/crochet/knitting or, like me, your wish list is met with a “What do you want one of those for….what is it anyway?” – #stitchingsanta is for you.

Can you imagine unwrapping a gorgeous skein of wool, a perfect metre of fabric, some vintage buttons or some embroidery silks? Perhaps a little handmade gift has been popped in the parcel too? All lovingly thought out with your interests in mind and guaranteed to be under your tree on Christmas morning. What a treat!

There are TWO categories to choose from – you can enter both or just one but PLEASE state your preference in your email. Choose from “Sewing” or “Crochet/Knitting”.

The idea is simple: if you would like to take part, comment below by the deadline of 31st October and I’ll send you the details of your lucky recipient.

You may already know this person as a follower of their blog but, if not, have a good look around their blog and try to put together some gifts that they would really appreciate. See my experience of previous #stichingsantas for what to expect: –

Gifted to my Secret Santa recipient 2014

Gifted to my #stitchingsanta recipient 2015

Received from my Secret Santa 2014

Blogging about Secret Santa 2014

Blogging about #stitchingsanta 2015

Received from my #stitchingsanta 2015

I will update this page with details of the blogs that are taking part so why not follow along and make some new blogging buddies!

How To Enter: –

  1. You can enter from anywhere in the world but I will try to match countries in order to keep postage costs down.
  2. State which swap(s) you would like to enter and send your email address, blog site and postal address to me at by midnight on 31st October 2016.
  3. I’ll email you the details of your recipient by 7th November.
  4. Spend a maximum of £10 (€13, $15US, $20AUS) excluding postage.
  5. Blog about your #stitchingsanta (linking back to this post) and share using the hash tag on social media.
  6. Post your parcel in time for Christmas – check last posting dates well in advance!! International dates are much earlier in December.

UK Inland: –


I hope lots of you join in – don’t forget to share, share, SHARE with your own followers, the more the merrier, HOW exciting!

Here’s who has signed up so far: –

sewchet (that’s me!)
























beadsandbarnacles – Pippa

Beadsandbarnacles – Nicky



















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Sunday Sevens #101

Time for another Sunday Sevens as thought up by Nat at Threads & Bobbins – click here to find out more and how you can join in, too.

  1. The Boys both won their football matches quite convincingly this weekend. No.2 Son’s team won 9-0 and he scored a hat trick. No.3 Son’s team won 5-2.

2. I treated myself to this mug by Wrendale Designs – I love this particular range and I’m hoping this is the first in a collection that will fill the hooks on my newly renovated dresser. Might have to put them on my Christmas list though, as they’re a bit of a luxury at ten pounds each.

3. I have a few commissions already for Christmas and this is my favourite so far – four kids’ bobble hats. I’ve made a sample in cream complete with the fabulous pom pom, which I love. The commissioned hats will have faux fur bobbles though, as preferred by my client.

4. Sewing lessons are still going strong – this is one of my Thursday after school groups.

5. Looking ahead to this year’s #stitchingsanta, I have been collecting goodies as and when I see them and thought that one (or both) of these books would be good for the knitting one. Just one pound each in our local charity shop, I’m sorely tempted to keep them for myself…..

6. I also picked up this cute little pot which will be perfect for all those patés that I make.

7. Talking of cooking, this is a new favourite of my ever-hungry family – a sausage plait. Delicious hot or, even better, cold in lunch boxes to make a change from sandwiches.

8. Jam making began in earnest this week and I am so glad I invested in this gadget a few years ago. It’s a vegetable mill and takes the effort out of removing seeds from blackberries.

9. Batch one is labelled and in the store cupboard. This jar went to the chap who, very generously, put his surplus apples out on his wall for you to help yourself.

10. Friday evening promised to be one of the last opportunities to have a picnic, so 11 adults and 19 children met in the park for cricket and a picnic tea. I took a platter of paella, still piping hot from the oven. Yum!

11. No.3 Son finished his corduroy trousers in time for the Autumn chill which has just arrived.

12. I made a very successful batch of Yorkshire puddings. Sadly, they don’t always rise as well as this.


13. Mr H-L has dropped two stones without really trying, annoying though that might sound. He now has two brand new suits costing £400 each which fall round his ankles at the slightest tug. What a waste!

14. We went to our dear friends’ house for a lamb roast on Saturday – what a great night that was!

15. I can’t finish without showing you their inventive solution to the toilet problem. With fifty guests and only one toilet, our host came up with this idea for a homemade urinal, situated around the side of the shed. A water bottle (the kind you get in offices) trimmed and attached to a pipe which led into a tray full of cat litter to soak up the liquid and any nasty smells – genius! There was even a privacy screen, battery powered light and alcohol handwash, too.


#stitchingsanta Reveals!

It has been totally brilliant, not to mention ridiculously exciting, to watch all your #stitchingsanta parcels coming together over the last couple of months.

I’ve loved seeing how thoughtful and creative everyone has been, really getting to know their recipient through their blog and sending the most appropriate gifts possible.

For those of you new to this concept, and for anyone considering joining in next year (yes, I’m going to organise another one!), here’s the link to show you what it’s all about – #stitchingsanta 2015.

I took part in both the knitting/crochet swap and the sewing swap but, before I show you all the amazing things I received, I thought I’d show you the final handmade gift that I included in my sewing swap parcel.

A hexagonal French ‘Cartonnage’ sewing box (pattern by Tialys on Etsy) which nearly didn’t get sent as I only finished it an hour before the deadline for Christmas post!

Cartonnage sewing box 3

It took quite a few hours of construction over a week or so to complete, the glued parts needing overnight to dry before moving on to the next bit.

Cartonnage sewing box 1

It’s a lovely pattern though, and I thoroughly enjoyed making it – I first saw it on Lucie’s blog as she was a tester for the pattern before its release and it is designed by the talented Lynn who blogs over at Tialys.

Cartonnage sewing box 2

The box made it into the parcel along with the other things which I blogged about here and was posted to the loopy-but-lovely Ali, better known by many of you as THIMBERLINA.

stitching santa

Below is the bundle of presents (blogged about here) that went off to my knitting swap recipient, Pippa, from Beads & Barnacles.

The first I knew of Pippa was when she signed up for the swap, so I spent some time looking through her blog to see what kind of things she might like before deciding on a few. There are fewer handmade items obviously, as knitting takes so much longer than sewing.

stitching santa gifts

I took a chance by not adding sender’s details on either parcel so they would be a surprise until the last moment, as I had blogged in detail about all the handmade elements in the run up to Christmas.


Ali, bless her, hadn’t even received my parcel but had already sent me these lush quilted coasters as a ‘thank you’ for organising the swap!


The fabric she used was ace and had funny, and perfectly apt, little quotes in speech bubbles all over it. Thanks Ali – I love them!!!


Now, onto the myriad of gorgeous things that I was gifted.

As the organiser, two people had to draw the short straw and have me as their swap partner, so neither were able to blog about their parcels.

I chose Joey, from Littleblackdogsa, to be my knitting partner as she lives in South Africa and the post can be notoriously unpredictable. It wouldn’t matter if her parcel didn’t reach me for a few months but, in fact, it arrived in plenty of time!

yarn stitching santa

The outer bag was quite badly damaged when it arrived, but the contents were intact so I put everything in the bright red bag that she sent with it and it stayed under the tree until yesterday.

Yes, you read that correctly, yesterday – Boxing night to be exact. Why? Well, it certainly wasn’t because I have masses of will power or patience (quite the opposite, in fact) but because we host Christmas for the family and I spend two days cooking, tidying and making sure everyone is having a good time. I wanted to wait until lunch was over and they were all watching a festive film in the lounge so I could open and photograph my parcels at leisure.

Boxing Day lunch

And this is what Joey sent me!

yarn stitching santa 1

Would you like to see them in more detail?

Firstly, there are two Indian cotton tea towels onto both of which Joey had crocheted a beautiful border. Far too nice to use, really, but I will.

yarn stitching santa 2

A pretty pin cushion in the shape of a pear. Can you believe I only have one pin cushion which I keep in my sewing room? This one will be used on a daily basis by the children in my sewing classes – I think they’re going to love it.

yarn stitching santa 7

Four fab cakes of organic cotton yarn, local to South Africa, which I am thrilled with and can’t wait to use – crochet hooks included!

yarn stitching santa 5

A length of festive cotton tape featuring the music of “Jingle Bells”, some hand sewing needles and an atmospheric South African sunset disguised as a fridge magnet.

yarn stitching santa 3

I love the little rustic angel that she included, too – I am guessing it is handmade from recycled materials?

yarn stitching santa 4

Finally, there were some sweets, a project bag and a card with a lovely message inside. Thank you so much Joey – I am thrilled with all the thoughtful gifts that you obviously spent a lot of time putting together for me!

yarn stitching santa 6

By the time I had finished opening and photographing Joey’s parcel, I was dying to open the one from my sewing swap gifter and almost forgot to take a picture of the parcels themselves!

sewing stitching santa

Teresa, the smiley one who blogs over at Navybluethreads, sent her gifts in two separate packages which arrived a day apart – I only knew there was going to be another parcel when the first one arrived labelled ‘Part 2’!

Look at all this!

There were Christmas cards and a letter – Teresa, you should be a doctor with writing like that, beautiful but illegible!!! No.1 Son and I worked it out in the end though!

sewing stitching santa 1

With the help of the newly-translated letter, this is what Teresa sent: –

Loads of amethyst-coloured knit fabric which WILL be made into the dress on the pattern that she included. She knows that I like strong colours and, being a lady of ample bosom herself, obviously knows that the wrap dress is perfect for that. I will make the long sleeved version and wear it with long boots during the Winter.

sewing stitching santa 2

I simply cannot resist any pretty vintage lace, fabric or doilies that I come across in charity shops, so when I opened these I was beside myself with excitement! I believe most of these came from Teresa’s stash so I am doubly grateful – I wouldn’t be able to part with any of mine!

sewing stitching santa 5

With my new sewing school, The Stitch Academy, in mind, she kindly sent me a publication that would be ideal for the children to use as their skills improve. The stocking pattern is brilliant, too, but I already have it so I hope she won’t mind if I pass it forward to somebody else to enjoy?

sewing stitching santa 3

Teresa even thought of The Boys – they will absolutely LOVE making these fox brooches and fishy keyrings!!

sewing stitching santa 4

So many generous and thoughtful gifts but my favourite from Teresa has to be this one – a beautifully soft infinity scarf, handknitted by the lovely lady herself, in a self-striping yarn of various jewel shades which looks exactly like it does in the photo. I just love it!

sewing stitching santa 6

What more can I say, except a huge ‘Thank You’ to Joey and Teresa for all the fabulous gifts, and a massive pat on the back to all the #stitchingsantas that signed up for this swap and made it so successful and enjoyable.

I hope you all had as much fun as I did – judging by the blog posts I have seen so far, you did and I wasn’t the only one who was more excited about this present under my tree than any of the others!

Look out for the swap again next year when I get the feeling we’ll have an even longer list of participants than the thirty-five that took part this time.

Happy New Year to you all!



Sunday Sevens #68

Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series where you show seven-ish photos of your week. Visit Nat at Threads & Bobbins to find out how YOU can join in.

  1. We took The Boys to a local farm to choose our Christmas Tree. Don’t you just love the farmer’s hat with tractors on it?

Christmas tree shopping

2. The tree stood in the corner of the dining room for a couple of days before we had time to do anything with it ( I was sewing). In the end the men put it up in the corner of the lounge.

Putting up the tree

3. Another day passed before No.1 Son realised it wasn’t going to decorate itself so got into his Santa Onesie and did it by himself (whilst I carried on sewing…..)


4. No.3 Son decorated the little ‘fake’ tree that we put up in the kitchen room each year whilst dressed up in a Prince’s outfit, as you do.

Meanwhile, I did some sewing.


5. Remember those Angel costumes I made last week for The Boy’s Nativity? We went to said production on Tuesday. What you can see in the photo is the ENTIRE school which amounts to 100 kids aged 4-11.


6. One of the activities in the advent calendar was to get into PJs and drive around looking at the Christmas lights.

Christmas lights

7. The Boys took flasks of hot chocolate and I took a glass of Bailey’s:)


8. On Wednesday I started my ball gown for Mr H-L’s annual company ‘do’.

The ‘do’ was two days later.

There were 78 pattern pieces.

It took me over three hours just to cut it out…..

Cutting out

9. My Thursday class finished their skirts in time for Christmas and were VERY pleased with themselves!


10. I was also very pleased with MYSELF as I finished the dress with an hour to spare on Friday morning. Here it is all lined and ready for the corset to be sewn in.

Ball gown

11. Hubby and I drove the two and a half hours to Stanhill Court Hotel where the company puts us all up overnight and where the party is held.

Stanhill Court Hotel

12. Here’s a sneak peek of my dress laid out ready on the bed.

Four Poster

13. We stopped at the services on the way home to rehydrate after the previous night’s excesses. A brass band was playing Christmas carols for charity so we sat outside and enjoyed the music for a while.

Brass Band

14. This morning I’m getting on with the last of my #stitchingsanta gifts which involves glue and……

Tialys hexagonal sewing box

……more sewing!!!


#stitchingsanta – NOTICE

I have just found out (an hour ago) that somebody who signed up for the #stitchingsanta never received the email from me regarding a swap partner.

If you see your name on the list below, YOU HAVE A PARTNER!

All emails were sent on 4th November and contain full details of the recipient. Please check your junk/spam folders or I can resend the original email.

Please, please get in touch if you haven’t sorted a parcel out for anyone, or there will be some very disappointed people out there – I will help as much as I can.

In fact, could you all please leave a comment at the bottom so that I know who has definitely sent, or is sending, their parcel(s)?

sewchet (that’s me!)