Beauty, etc.

Several years ago, Wizards of the Coast released shiny new corrected editions of the core Dungeons & Dragons sourcebooks. This prompted the GM of my weekly D&D group to, having bought the new copies, generously pass his old 2003 copies on to me. The books are still perfectly usable, but after 13 years of weekly consultation the spines are peeling and the covers are coming loose, so I decided to re-cover them.

First up: the Monster Manual!



Note: You may wish to skip this one if you have issues with eyes in places they should not be (glass, moderately realistic) and/or stitched wounds (leather + heavy thread, not massively realistic).

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Travelling sock bag

I mentioned in my 2015 roundup post that I’d been experimenting with sock-making using the ancient technique called naalbinding. I’ve done three test socks and am nearly finished with my first pair of real socks, which is very exciting.

Before Christmas, when I was trying to get my head round the process, I decided to make a project bag for the in-progress sock so I could take it with me when travelling to visit family. It’s a simple lined pocket with the corners boxed, made from two rectangles so that both patterns show on the inside and the outside. I can’t remember how I did this, but here’s a halfway photo from just before I put one side inside the other.


And the outside:


I also made a tiny zipped pouch to keep the scissors, needle and safety pins (I use them instead of stitch markers) contained and make sure the yarn doesn’t get caught on them in transit.


The back of the pouch has another pocket with a loop of grosgrain ribbon in it, which I clip the safety pins onto when they’re not in use. The needle goes in the back panel.


The finished bag has enough room for a whole sock and a sock under construction, the scissor pouch and the in-use ball of yarn (with a bit of shoving). It fits nicely in the front pocket of my rucksack when travelling.


I made the bag and pouch to coordinate with my patchwork bag, which has become the home of my yarn oddments. They’ve got a lot of use in the last few months and it’s amazing how handy something this simple can be.


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Tales out of Anchor


The preceding three costume posts were all for the same game, Tales out of Anchor Event 2, held at YHA Langdale in the first week of February. Here you see the finished outfit.

My entire character, never mind the outfit, started with the tailcoat, which is proof that you should always look in the charity shop even if you were in there last week. The reason my TooA character is a Navy man – or the closest equivalent when you live on a flying island and pilot a zeppelin – is so I could turn up in this coat. The rest of the costume was made to go with it.

Photos taken in-character by photographic wizard Tom Garnett. Period effects on the top picture also by Tom.


Waistcoat: Harlots & Angels Sweeney (pattern | post)
Shirt: Heavily modified from Vogue 8772 (pattern | post)
Trousers: Heavily modified from Sewaholic Thurlow (pattern | post)
Red cravat: self-drafted
Tailcoat: Sue Ryder Vintage, Headingley
Boots: Duo (now owned by Ted&Muffy), end of line sale

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A fancy waistcoat

I made this for Tales out of Anchor, an indoor LARP for which the kit brief is approximately Regency with touches of 1930s China. Other pieces in the same costume: frilly shirt, knee breeches.


This is the Harlots & Angels Sweeney Waistcoat pattern. H&A are a small indie company specialising in costuming/steampunk who sell their paper patterns through (among others) Fabrication, a Leeds indie maker shop. This is the first of their patterns I’ve used; the drafting seems good; I can’t speak to the quality of the instructions as I didn’t really refer to them.

I cut the second-largest size, curved the CB seam in at the small of the back, took 1″ off the shoulder and 1/2″ out of the armscye at the side seam. I omitted the pockets and adjustable back. Everything went together nicely and I love the way that the lapels fall – there’s no roll line or extra reinforcement in there; they fold that way all by themselves.


Piping is home-made from black cotton twill and string. Buttons are plastic with a dark mother-of-pearl effect and came from the Knitting and Stitching Show 2015 (… I think.)

The fabric is a mystery grey-blue synthetic from the Dress Jacquard box at Abakhan in Mostyn. When I first picked it up, I thought the fabric was a border design but it’s actually not: there’s a plain section giving way to scattered motifs and then a wide patterned section, but the repeat is perpendicular to the grain rather than along it. I cut the body on the cross grain to get the pattern going in the right direction and placed it so it’s patterned at the left side seam, with the motifs petering out around the front and back until it’s plain at the right side seam. I love how it came out.


In-game photo by Tom Garnett. TooA runs into the night, and the sections after sunset are conducted entirely by lamplight.

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Knee breeches

I made these for Tales out of Anchor, an indoor LARP for which the kit brief is approximately Regency with touches of 1930s China. For the same costume: frilly shirt.



The ultimate ancestor of this pattern is the Sewaholic Thurlow, but all that’s really left of it is the fundamental proportions and the crotch curve. These have about four inches added above the waist, no waistband piece, six additional darts, side button closures instead of a front fly, and waist facings with the grain running around the body (essentially an inside-only waistband.) I also shortened them to knee-length.

A note if you want to shorten regular trousers into knee breeches: on full-length trousers, the side seams are partly pulled into line by the shape and weight of the cloth in the lower leg. Cutting them off below the knee means the seams splay out; I needed to take  about an inch off the outseam at the knee and maybe another inch out of the front (only) at the inseam to get them to hang straight. A similar alteration would probably be needed on most other trouser patterns or indeed if you were physically shortening existing trousers.


Fabric is a mystery navy twill from the Sue Ryder charity shop in Headingley – Leeds sewing/costuming people, GO; they have amazing vintage clothes and frequently amazing vintage yardage too. From a burn test it’s wool/poly; it responded very well to steam + pressure on thick seams so I reckon there’s a decent amount of wool in there. (My mother doesn’t have a clapper, so I used a long straight piece of Brio #lifehack.) Buttons came from my mum’s stash and ribbon from the Samuel Taylor 3-for-£1 bin.

This was cut and sewn over a long weekend at my parents’ place, with all the machine construction done on Mum’s Elna, praise be to its auto-sizing 1-step buttonhole function – I love my workhorse Brother but I would not want to do 22 buttonholes with it. Six of them are the actual fastening; the other 16 are for the knee lacing, which is non-functional – there’s a facing underneath which is sewn into the hem. I handsewed the buttons and the hem at home.


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A frilly shirt

Every LARPer should own one! I made this for Tales out of Anchor, an indoor LARP for which the kit brief is approximately Regency with touches of 1930s China. Links to other kit pieces for this event to go here as they go up. Photos taken post-event, after two days of wear …



The bodice block on this is my old workhorse V8772 (pattern | my versions), with the front cut on the fold and all the darts omitted (just left unsewn, except for the shoulder darts where I eased the extra in.) For the collar, I used the V8772 collar stand pattern piece and made it taller. The sleeves are self-drafted, with a very flat sleeve cap to give a wide sleeve, which is then pleated into the cuff. The cuffs have little circular flounces on them, which are double-layered and quite stiff.


The cuffs and collar are interfaced with calico and are lovely and solid.

The edge of the CF ruffle is the fabric selvedge – this fabric frays like anything and responded badly when I tested narrow-hemming some scraps. The raw edge of the slit is enclosed with pre-made white bias tape which also forms the neck ties.


The tape is a little bit of sewing history: it came out of my late grandmother’s stash, untouched – still in its plastic – and is probably around 40 years old. It felt kind of weird using it up; I’m glad I was able to put it to use but there’s also something slightly odd about it.

I flat-felled all the seams. The hem is finished with the last of the white bias tape, turned and blindstitched by hand.


The fabric is white Oxford shirting from Croft Mill, bought just about a year ago specifically to be a frilly shirt and then sat patiently in the stash until I got to making one. It has a very slight sort of piqué texture and is so fine it’s see-through – not completely, but enough to clearly indicate the colour of anything underneath. Gorgeous stuff.

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Top 5s of 2015


‘Tis the season! Tis the season for the annual sewing roundup hosted by Gillian at Crafting a Rainbow.


I haven’t sewn as much this year as last year, and I’ve blogged much less. Some of this is for good reasons: I made a conscious decision to read more books; I’ve done a lot of stuff for LARP and Brownies; I’ve started going to tai chi classes. But I have also had several spells of illness, and over summer/early autumn (prime sewing/photography time with good light) work was absolutely vile. It’s eased off now and I have my fingers crossed that it’s going to stay that way.

I did get a decent amount made, though, so onto the actual sewing!

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I don’t have a cravat problem. You have a cravat problem.

(Your problem is not enough cravats.)







Purple silk dupion!


Black and blue!


Red with dragon!


Yeah, I went a little overboard with the cravats. Turns out I really like how they look on me. The red, grey, and blue/black ones have been getting a lot of use with my work wardrobe, as has the original blue-purple one. The white hasn’t been out yet as it goes with none of my shirts. The red dragon and the purple silk I’m saving for special occasions – first up a Regency-inspired LARP in February.

They’re very satisfying to make: they’re very small/quick (you can comfortably get one out of a fat quarter, and they take maybe forty minutes most of which is narrow-hemming), but they look very polished now I’ve figured out how to clean finish them with a minimum of handwork. There will undoubtedly be more.

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Long time no blog! September/October’s always mad busy at work, also the light is going and the Elf is a reluctant photographer.

There are things in the to-blog queue, but hey! I made a cravat!


I did buy a pattern for a pre-tied cravat, but was deeply unimpressed with it and decided to draft my own. It’s basically a long strip that narrows in the middle; the full thing’s almost five feet long, but you can piece it without trouble if you place the seams so they’re hidden by the knot when tied.


I got this one out of a fat quarter – two strips 50cm x 17cm and one 50cm x 12cm with a bit left over.


I folded the narrow piece into a tube and pressed it with the seam to the inside, then pleated one end of each wide piece to the same width plus hem allowance. (Got this slightly wrong, but eh.) The pieces are French-seamed together.


I put a narrow hem down the long edges of the wide pieces, then folded the free ends into triangles and hand-stitched the centre seam.


Done! Turns out it’s really hard to take photos of your own neck.


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“The present content of the window appeared to be worryingly metaphorical …”


“At the top, worked into the rose window itself, was the familiar banded face of Haldora […] Then, taking up most of the height of the window, was a toweringly impressive cathedral, a teetering assemblage of pennanted spires and buttresses, lines of converging perspective making it clear that the cathedral sat immediately below Haldora.” Continue reading

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