Long Time, No Post

It’s been a fair while since I last posted, & things have changed a bit around here since. But more on that later. For now: look! I made a skirt!


It’s from an old pattern from my mother’s collection: Style 1961. (It’s worth noting that googling “Style 1961 pencil skirt” will get to absolutely nowhere, if you’re looking for the pattern…) There was a long and short option, with or without a waistband. I went for the long one (goes without saying when you’re 5’9″!), no waistband. I put together a toile from an old sheet, made a few adjustments aaand… didn’t touch it again for 2 months. Maybe even longer. In spite of having a lovely sewing space in the new house, I really lost my sewing mojo in the move.

So I did what many modern sewists would do in a time of sewing-related difficulty: I turned to the sewing community of Reddit for advice. Continue reading


A follow-up: New House, New Studio

I recently posted about how I’ve been feeling unusually optimistic about this particular New Year, not least because I’d just moved into a new house in a beautiful part of Co Sligo. Now that most of the unboxing and settling in has been accomplished, I thought I’d share a few images from my new studio.

It’s set up in “sewing mode” today, so the ironing board is up and the BurdaStyle handbook I got for Christmas is out. Current project: the skirt included in the book. (I’ve had some nice red light-medium weight cotton for ages now & it’s great to finally have the right project for it.) I’ve only just traced out the pattern & I’ve still to mark out the seam allowance (yawn!) & lengthen the pieces. I thought it’d be a nice quick project to snap out of the “sewing block” I’ve had for a while but hey, I may as well do it properly, right?

One important feature of any studio should be the pictures-of-your-heroes section. No? Just me? Right. Either way, my besties Polly Jean & Joanna are up in front of my desk to keep me company.

The best feature of this particular studio, though, is the best thing about this new place in general. The view. It’s incredible. We’re right at the bottom of a beautiful valley, beside a lake and surrounded by mountains. (Well, Irish-grade mountains, referred to internationally as “big hills”.) Anyways, it’s gorgeous. The weather is pretty changeable here, which makes for an ever-changing view. I don’t know if I’ll ever get the chance to live somewhere this beautiful again!

This picture absolutely does not do it justice, but I’m sure it’ll give you the right idea. This is literally the view out of the window:

What’s your setup like? Do you have a studio, or just a corner of the kitchen table? What’s important to you in a workspace?

Eureka! (Well… maybe.)

Finding the right pattern can be hard sometimes.

When my mother & I heard there was going to be a sale in Róisín Cross Silks, we knew there was no point denying it: we had to pay them a visit. We first discovered the place when my sister got engaged last year. Once it was decided we’d be making the wedding & bridesmaid dresses ourselves, silk was really the only way to go. Or so we convinced ourselves. (Honestly, how many times are you able to justify buying top-quality material like that? Who among you could resist it?! 😉 ) Judith, the owner, was incredibly helpful and didn’t seem at all perturbed by our 2+ hour rooting sessions in the shop. (We got what we wanted in the end & the dresses turned out beautifully.)

Anyway, to cut a long story short, when my mother and I returned to the shop for the sale and I found nothing I could really think of a use for on the shelves, I hit the remnants basket. And hit the jackpot. I found 7m (!) of printed silk for €40 (!!!), neatly folded and secured with tape. This is stuff that is usually closer to that price tag per metreNaturally, I snapped it up. Let’s face it: it would have been morally wrong, as a home sewist, to do otherwise. Here is what it looks like:

Printed silk

It’s not quite as dark as this, & the grey has a sort of purplish hue. Isn’t it amazing? It drapes beautifully and feels like only 100% silk can: amazing. There are some minor printing flaws in a couple of places which presumably explains the reduction, but nothing a bit of careful pattern placement can’t overcome.

Of course, now I had to figure out what to do with it. Continue reading


I’ve just finished binding the second journal to its cover boards, so the pair is finished. Don’t they look great together?

I’ve definitely got to up my game, though – it took me far longer to make them than it should have. There’s definitely room for improvement in the execution, too. I’m hoping to buy a vertical plough for the studio so I can even off the page edges properly – a craft knife just doesn’t cut it.

If you’ll excuse the pun.

Now: what should I try next? Maybe a longstitched journal? Hmm. First, I’ll put together that tutorial: how to make a quick, cheap handsewn newsprint notebook.

Getting Up to Speed

Ah… it’s nice to have a new place to share my projects. Here’s what I’m working on at the moment:


I’m muddling through a dress at the moment. I’ve made a lot of changes to the pattern, mixing View D of Vogue 8766 with a Burda dress from the 12/2012 magazine. This is (gasp!) the first time I’ve made a muslin for any dress I’ve attempted. This  is mainly due to the pattern changes I’m making, but also because the fabric is Magee Tweed and therefore very expensive. (I honestly don’t know what I was thinking when I bought it – €40 pm?! – but it is really nice.)

The skirt part of the dress needs a lot of alteration, and I’m sort of stuck at that point at the moment. There’s really nothing exciting about altering a muslin.

Continue reading

Time to Introduce Myself! (First Post Nerves)

Well… hello!

To quote my brand-new About page: My name is Yvonne and I love to work with my hands, mainly in book arts, sewing and crochet. This blog is a place for me to share projects I’m working on, post tutorials and hopefully get to know some fellow binders & crafters worldwide!

This is my first WordPress blog, and in a way, my first real blog. At least, it feels that way. I’ve had a couple of Tumblr blogs – for my photography, and then to keep myself occupied when I moved home last year – and they’ve both largely run their course. I think this one will be a bit more permanent. I’ll be moving to a beautiful part of Co. Sligo in a fortnight, and that’s when I’ll be getting the wheels in motion on my new business, a bindery called Needle & Flax. (I’m excited about it, & pretty anxious to get started!)

This blog will be a parallel venture where I can share more than just business. My mother taught me how to sew when I moved home last year, and we also took a crochet class together before Christmas. I learned to make books in a summer course at the NCAD in Dublin, and it’s something I love to do now. So those are a few things you can expect to see here on the Needle & Flax blog. I hope there are other crafters out there who will enjoy reading about my projects, and help me get better at the crafts I enjoy!

I suppose I might as well get on with it & write an actual post.

Is there anybody out there? … Hello?