Oh my goodness. The Outfit is going awry. Check it out. I tried to get the colours as accurate as I could but everything still looks a little greyer than it does in real life. Think pitch black. BLACK.

I actually dyed both the fabric and the shoes twice. The first time I bought a small packet of black dye for the washing machine and a bag of salt and chucked it all in. Around and around they span and looking through the door (front loader) I was hopeful. But when they came out and then dried, my hopes were dashed. The shoes were ok-ish but a bit motley but the fabric was a solid olive green. Far from the grey I was after. Bother.

It took another week to get more dye and then a bit longer to get them back in the machine. I hunted for grey dye but couldn't find any and settled for more black. To be on the safe side I bought a bigger packet and I tentatively thought I could just keep adding more until it all turned out perfectly.

The story goes downhill at this point. One day, whilst trying to do a million and one other things at the same time (most likely cook dinner, supervise homework, sweep the kitchen floor and talk on the phone) I was struck with the thought that I'd do a quick dye job while the washing machine was free ... Dumb idea because in the chaos I decided to chuck the whole large packet of dye in to save mucking about with copious dye jobs. 

You can imagine what happened. In fact, you can see what happened. The whole belly lot went blacker than black except for the stitching on the shoes which is still too light, the rubber soles which are a decidedly dodgy shades of blue and the elastic which looks worse with the stains even more noticeable. The shoes are a disaster!

I'm trying to talk myself into the fabric. After all, everyone wears black in New Zealand, I wouldn't be out of place? Except I haven't worn black for years. I embrace colour and frills and sequins these days. I'm not sure whether I want a black skirt. Maybe with some top-stitching? Dunno. That might just look odd. 

I think I'll have to take the plunge and see how it goes. I don't think I can do anything to lighten my black fabric and I really don't want to buy more. This is it. I'll have to make it work!

Make me feel better. Tell me about your dyeing disasters!

Outfit 2 - Planning and Casting on

Outfit 2 - planning

February is marching on ... but never fear. Outfit 2 is underway!

Here's a snapshot of what I've got in mind. It's going to have a more casual vibe than Outfit 1 and I'm calling it "cheerfully embracing winter blues and keeping cosy, whilst running about with the kids". Or something like that.

I'm actually taking a leap of faith and going for skinny jeans and a worsted-weight sweater. That might sound fairly tame to most of you, but I've been either pregnant or breastfeeding (or both) for the last decade and have stuck solidly to cardigans... As for the skinny trousers, I'm just gonna do it because I want to, even if I'm shortish with curvy thighs... So, I'm feeling slightly nervous because eventually I have to photograph this outfit and show you all, and because I'm stepping out of my comfort zone. But, what sort of challenge would this be without taking a risk or two? A boring one, that's what.

Anyway, as you can see I've chosen a reddish/tan/blue palette. I've knit the accessories already but I figure you've probably seen enough finished objects for one week so I'll show you those another day. The squishy tan yarn is a very delicious Arbutus cowl and the blue and white stripes are a Here and There slouchy hat. They were super quick to knit and I LOVE them both. Can't wait to show you :)

The blue/silvery fabric in the background is a rather funky Nani Iro print. It's 100% cotton with a reasonable amount of stretch to it and I'm going to turn it into a scoop necked, long sleeved top using a pattern from this craftsy class by Meg McElwee. I'm waiting for some white stretchy denim to arrive and when it does, I'm planning to dye it (maybe a dark mustard or copper, I haven't decided yet) and turn it into some fitted trousers using Colette's Clover pattern.

Right now, I'm casting on my sweater. I've decided to knit Flowing Lines as I've had my eye on this knit since Veera released it. But, since I've suggested a knit along for the cardigan I'm making for Outfit 3, and we're casting on on 1 March, I'd really like to get this sweater finished in two weeks. I know. CRAZY. My only saving grace might be that not only is it worsted weight, but it's Malabrigo yarn. If you haven't used Malabrigo before, believe me, it's like knitting with clouds! I am addicted. This is the pagoda colourway - it's looking a little red in the photos. In fact, it's fairly variegated, ranging from pinky colours to ginger.

Finally, the branch in the photo isn't just randomly placed there to look arty. Oh no. I'm going to make apple branch buttons (I say confidently, having never done it before). If they look any good, they'll go on the shoulders of my sweater. For jewellery, my mum is sending me a brooch that belonged to my grandmother that she thinks will be perfect. It's coming from New Zealand so will take at least a week to get here. It needs a little repair work, but I think it will be perfect too.

Pincushion tutorial

flower wreath pincushion

Remember I made this colourful, flowery pincushion for a swap? Well, I thought some of you might fancy a flower wreath pincushion too ... so, here's a tutorial with lots of pretty pictures showing you how to make one for yourself. Have fun!

To get started you'll need; fabric (I used heavy linen for the wreath and Liberty prints for the flowers. You only need a tiny amount of fabric for the flowers - so save those scraps!), cardboard, a ruler, a pen, a sewing machine (although, you could sew everything by hand if you fancied), scissors, thread, stuffing (I used wool roving, but any stuffing material would be fine) and fabric glue (not essential, you could hand sew instead). And, don't forget: ironing makes your sewing look even better!

We'll start by making a template for the wreath base.


Measure and mark a curve 1/2" (1.5cm) from the corner of your cardboard (make sure your corner is a right angle!)

Measure and mark another curve, this time beginning at the first curve you drew and extending 3 1/2" (9cm). Cut along the two curves.

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Fold and iron the fabric for your wreath base into quarters (in half, and in half again). Lay the template along the folded corner of your fabric and cut. Your cut piece should open out to be a circle with a circular hole in the middle. Iron flat and repeat, so that you have two circular pieces.

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With right sides together, sew the two circles together around the outside (with a seam allowance of about 1/2" (1.5cm), leaving a gap of about two inches (5 cm). Mark a circle 1/2" (1.5cm) in from the centre hole. Next, snip almost to the seam around the entire circumference and, almost to the circle around the centre hole.

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Turn the wreath right side out (this may take some thinking - it did me!), carefully fold the central clipped edge inwards and iron. With as small stitches as you can manage, hand sew the centre closed. 

Stuff the wreath through the opening on the outside edge. Just make sure that you stuff it nice and tight! Hand sew the outside opening closed and do your best to shape the wreath into a doughnut.

That's your wreath done! Now, to decorate it...

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Cut a cardboard circle with a 2" (5cm) diameter. This will be the template for your flower petals. Cut five fabric circles for each flower.

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Iron the circles and then iron in half, and half again.


Knot the end of your thread and sew a running stitch along the long, raw edge on your petal. Pull the thread tight and continue along the next petal. Don't cut your thread! Keep going until you've stitched all five petals. Pull the flower tight and secure the last petal to the first petal, knot and cut your thread. Isn't it pretty? 

There are several options for the middle of the flower. You might like to use a button. A covered button might be nice. I've made little "puffs", and here's how...

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Cut a cardboard circle with a 1 1/2" (4cm) diameter. This will be the template for your centre "puffs". Cut a fabric circle for each flower. Knot your thread and sew a running stitch around the circumference of the fabric circle. Pull slightly with the right side of the fabric facing out.


Pop a small ball of stuffing into the middle. It helps to press it down with a pen while you pull the stitching tight. Stitch the edges closed and secure. Turn it over - there's your puff!

I decided to glue the puffs to the middle of the flower with super-strong fabric glue, because I wanted them evenly squashed in the middle. You could hand stitch it on if you don't have glue, or don't want to use it. Repeat for all your flowers.

Next, we'll make the leaves...

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Cut a cardboard circle with a 3 3/4" (9.5cm) diameter. This will be the template for your leaves. Cut a fabric circle for each leaf. I made two sets of two leaves. As before, iron flat, iron in half and then in half again.

flower wreath pincushion flower wreath pincushion

And, as before, knot your thread and sew a running stitch along the long, raw edge of the leaf. Pull tight and carry on to the second leaf. This time, pull the thread tight and secure at the end of the second leaf.

Now, you should have a wee pile of pretty flowers and leaves. Arrange them on your wreath to see how you like them. This took me FOREVER! Pins are useful to hold things in place while you make up your mind...

flower wreath pincushion

Glue, or sew, your leaves and flowers in place. You're done! Now all you need are pins...

flower wreath pincushion

If you have any questions, just let me know!

As always, I'd love to see photos of anything you make using a Truly Myrtle pattern or tutorial - feel free to show off your lovely things in the Truly Myrtle Flickr group!

Pincushion Swap

I've just taken part in my first swap - a pincushion swap, organised by Rachel at House of Pinheiro.

The idea was to create a pincushion from bits and bobs in your stash and send it to your allocated swap partner. My partner was Kate from the lovely blog Trestle and Bunting. Kate is crafty, green fingered, a foodie and makes the most fantastic sock creatures, she is clearly a talented lady - take a peek.

Here's what I made for Kate...

It's a scrap fabric, flower wreath pincushion! I raided my shockingly large stash of Liberty prints and combined them with some bone-coloured heavy French linen. I had no idea I had collected so much Liberty over the years! Time some of it was put to good use. My pincushion is pretty bold eh?! I love the bright colours and had fun making it. To be honest though, the whole thing was slightly nerve-racking. I wanted to make something a bit different and also wanted my partner to like it. Oh, the pressure! Totally self-imposed of course...

I came up with this crazy colourful wreath idea and crossed my fingers that it would be up Kate's street. I think it was - she said it was very tactile and she loved the flowers. Phew!

If you'd like to have a go at one for yourself, I'm making a tutorial to show you how, step by step. The flowers are especially fun. Pop back! It'll be ready later this week.

And, here is the lovely pincushion that Kate made, and sent to me...

pincushion swap - from Kate

Cute!!! I just love the beads and pretty tassels! And, her card is so lovely. I've tidied up my sewing table today and pinned it to the wall behind my sewing machine so I can enjoy it while I sew. My new pincushion is right there too, full of shiny new pins :)

Thanks Kate!

Hello Yellow! Skirt

Hello Yellow! Skirt

I'm sorry to go on and and on about the weather, but you know, this is England... Anyway, it's still been gloomy and in desperation, I issued a challenge to the sun by making an electric yellow skirt. A skirt that can't help but make you feel good.

I'm loving this 70's throw-back look. Big, bold, unashamed blocks of colour, round pockets, big belt loops, red top-stitching and a long A-line cut.

Hello Yellow! Skirt

Like my tea party skirt, the fabric is from Ray Stitch. The yellow is a Klona woven cotton, in the Corn Yellow colourway and I'm pleased that it's made right here in the UK. The funky red, white and blue patterned trim is also cotton, it's called Red Grid and is from the Pinelope range by Anna Griffin. 

I've used the same pattern as for my tea party skirt, Simplicity 2152. If it's not recognisable as such, it's no wonder. I adapted it pretty significantly. I used the same yoke because I was so pleased with the fit of my other skirt, but cut out the front and back without the panels. To do that I lay the front panel pieces side by side, overlapping them at the top so they were the same width as the yoke piece and gently tapering them away from each other towards the bottom. I cut round them as if they were one piece. I did the same with the back and made both longer.

Hello Yellow! Skirt

I'm super proud of the pockets. They're patch pockets, although sewn into the side seams, and they're lined with the red print and top stitched. I drew the general shape I wanted onto baking paper and then cut it out in the yellow and the print. Then I sewed the right sides of the fabric together along the curved edges, sandwiching the piping between them on the longer curve. I found a great tutorial for flat piping here. Once turned right sides out and gently pressed, the round, lined pocket was ready to sew onto the skirt front. When the front and back were sewed together, the sides of the pocket are secured in place. The second pocket is a mirror image of the first.

Hello Yellow! Skirt

The zip is a cheery red that peeps out at the back and I've lined the yoke with the red pattern. I found a great idea for the zip here. Instead of lining it up at the top of the yoke, I overlapped it a bit, zipped it right up, and so avoided getting a wiggly stitching line around the fastening part. I then zipped it down, folded the top of the zip down and now it's neatly encased in the yoke.

The tie just makes it I think - it was Zoë's idea! I showed her the skirt semi-completed and wondered out loud what it seemed to need ... something else ... "A belt" she said. And it was, though perhaps not the belt she had in mind. I attached belt loops to the yoke before I added the lining so there's no visible stitching inside and made the tie from lengths of the red print cut on the cross. It has a sliding tie knot to move it up and down so I don't have to undo it to take my skirt on and off.

And, you won't believe it! Today it was warm and the sun shone :) The only thing left to do is paint my toe nails ...