Book Giveaway: Couture Sewing Techniques by Claire B.Shaeffer

Sunday, January 29

Hello folks, how goes the Sunday?

My sister and some friends came visiting yesterday, so my Saturday was a very happy one. I always love seeing my older sister, as she cracks me up, and being around her always makes me so happy. Yesterday she had me in stitches, and I felt so much better. Here's an old picture of us goofing around....

Now, about this giveaway.

Do you want this book?

If yes, read on.

You might be wondering why I am giving this book away just a couple of days after I wrote about wanting to engage in the art of fine sewing. I have not taken leave of my senses...oh no...all I'm doing is executing my still evolving plan of attack on fine sewing. I have been deliberating for some time now if I should get the revised edition of this book, and I have finally made up my mind to go for it. This means I will now have 2 copies of the same book, which translates into... I have to get rid of one.

This giveaway is the beginning of a series of sewing book related giveaways that I plan on doing this year. I love books. There is just something special about leafing through pages and pages of beautifully assembled papers.   For want of a better explanation of the Dibs-Books relationship, I'll say I'm a Book Addict. I don't like the term bookworm, because it brings a not very sexy image to my mind...and I like to think of myself as a sexy woman....yes I am....I insist I am.....well I am if I say I am....what? the bump? ........ahem....okay then, I am a sexy bumpified that? where was I? Oh yes, the giveaway.

As I was saying, I buy too many books, and sometimes I end up not using them, and they spend lonely nights on my bookshelve, the only exciting thing for them being having to fight for space on the bookshelf with Mr.Dibs's cooking books. Whats the point of having a book that is not used. I figured someone out there would probably give these books the proper attention they deserve. Don't get me wrong, I love these books, its just that I have not really taken the time to get some use out of them, and now I am trying to make space for more books, like Gertie's upcoming book.

You, my friends, have been so kind to me, with your lovely emails, and comments, and texts, so its only fair to pay you back in my own small way.

So, to stand a chance of having this book you need to full-fill certain criteria...... 

1) You need to be a follower of my blog.
2) Be a resident of planet earth. ( No aliens not even you beauties of Pandora or spice addicts of Arrakis)
3) Be a member of the human race ( No hobbits, elves, and certainly NO ORCS).
4) Leave a comment about why you want this book.

This giveaway is open till midnight London time, on the 14th of February 2012.

Coolio. I'm off now. Mr.Dibs marinated some chicken last night with Nandos peri peri marinate, and judging from the sweet aroma wafting into the bedroom, I assume said chicken is being acquainted with the hotness of the oven.....aahhhhhhh exciting stuff.  

The Year of Fine Sewing

Friday, January 27

You all know I signed up for Susan Khalje's course over at Craftsy a couple of days ago. I was so excited about the course, and boy has it been interesting!!. I have not finished watching it yet, but what I have seen so far has made me realise all the sewing I have been doing till date has been child's play.

I've always taken an end product approach to my sewing. By that, I mean I was more concerned with seeing my sewn item, rather than enjoying the process of making said sewn item. I always wanted faster and easier ways to do stuff, and was quite sloppy in my sewing. Do you ever feel that way? Where all that matters is that a dress be sewn, no matter the fudging involved, after all, nobody will stop you on the streets and go

" oii, show me your seam finishes", or " hey mate, why did you not line this dress, or use horsehair for that circle skirt hem?".

Never mind that I always used to admire the things made by bloggers who put in extra efforts to use age old techniques, such as Karen with her coat ( I'm still gutted I missed the Crafter's Ceilidh, where I could have stroked that Coat), or Rachel's cape, or the GLORIOUS wiggle dress recently revealed by Gertie. She says the dress will be in her book. I am sold already on the book based on this dress. I want that book published like YESTERDAY. Got it Gertie? YESTERDAY!!.

Susan's couture class is amazing people. Its been such an eye opener. It made me wonder why I sew. What's the point of buying good quality fabric, if all I want to do with it is quickly process it on my machine? Granted, I have never paid more than £10/metre for a fabric but still...... I realise what I have been doing is cottage fast fashion. Fast fashion on an individual scale. Churning out mediocre outfits which might be better than what is available at Primark, but not up to the standards of, say, Oasis, or (sigh) Reiss. Yes Duchess Kate, I said it, you are not the only one with a taste for good stuff.

What is the point of sewing then, if I can't be patient enough to adjust the fit of a pattern, so it hangs better on my body? Why can't I put more thought into a sewing project? Why oh why? Why do I buy all those sewing books and not devour them for knowledge, or better still make porridge out of them and eat so that the knowledge becomes part of my biological frame ( is that safe?)....imagine the coroner carrying out a postmortem examination of my body and seeing little snippets of sewing techniques oozing out of my bones.
Why do I ignore the advice given in some of the ones I have already read? I'm afraid I won't answer all these whys. I don't want a heart attack.

You see what $39.99 does to you?

So I have decided that this year, 2012, is the year where I go back to the drawing board. I want to make beautiful things that render you all so speechless, you go into your little corners and dream of ways to apparate into my house and steal my wonderful creations. You'd have to be careful though, I have a mean high kick.....I used to take lessons from Bruce Lee in my dreams when I was younger....FACT!!

As a first step, I decided to do an audit of my sewing tools. Ha!! I realised I was sorely lacking in the pressing department. I have neither a tailor's ham nor a seam roll. I do have a sleeve board, which I picked up in a flea market in Belgium last year, but its in a sorry state, and I have to show it some love. My ironing board belongs in the recycling bin, and my iron is on its last legs. So where does that leave me?

Since I am going all fine sewing this year, I suppose I have to start with getting myself a good iron as apparently,pressing is the Key. Can anyone recommend a good brand?

And I leave you all with a picture of my brand new book, which came through the post today. I first came to know about it when Gertie did a post on it. There is also a review on Threads if you are interested.

This is the second book I am buying based on Gertie's recommendations, the first being this one....

What about you? Are you finding yourself making more of an effort with the quality of your sewing?

Guest blogging at House of Pinheiro

Thursday, January 26

Hi everyone, today I am guest blogging at House of Pinheiro.

I review the Roland Mouret galaxy dress inspired Vogue 8280, which was made when I had a waist.

Susan Khalje Couture Class

Wednesday, January 25

Don't you just love the internet?

Last year, Gertie took a class (a workshop really)with Susan Khalje, and I remember thinking I would love to be in her suitcase, so she could take me with her. Gertie always gushes about Susan Khalje and how good she is with couture sewing and with good reason too. Just take a look at her website to discover more about this talented woman yourself.

6 days at her Couture Sewing School will set you back $995....ahem.....I'm not going to comment on that. I imagine you will learn alot in those 6 days, and you will treasure the experience. To get an idea of what those 6 days will be like, you can take a look at Gertie's blog, where she gave an insight into her time with Susan here, here, here, and here.

Now, even if I did have $995 in my piggy bank, which I can VERY MUCH ASSURE you I don't have, I would have had to swim across the Atlantic to attend her sewing school. Any other mode of transport will undoubtedly involve me re-mortgaging our house...I kid you not.

Fortunately, she is having a class on Craftsy, yes, the same people who brought you the Bombshell Dress via Gertie, and the price is a mighty affordable $79.99. I got an email in my box today saying there was currently a 50% discount on the course, so that makes it $39.99.  Not bad aye?

So in principle, you shell out $39.99, and you get this Vogue pattern posted to you

and then Susan teaches you how to make this dress using couture techniques. How cool is that? I am thinking very seriously of buying this class. You could probably buy books on couture sewing that will teach you the techniques, but if you, are like me, and you learn by observation, then this might be worth thinking about. Granted, it will be nothing compared to her Couture Sewing School, but for $39.99 (£26.51) I will gladly take the pattern and a couple of couture techniques, thank you very much.

Now if you will excuse me, I have some MAJOR financial decisions to make.

Freezer Paper Stencilling Winner

Tuesday, January 24

So I have been asked time and time again if I have started suffering from Baby Brain. Each time someone does, I always say "oh no, not me. I don't believe in that". There are some women who swear that they become quite forgetful during pregnancy, and others say its just a fallacy. I did not believe it....until I forgot that I had to choose my giveaway winners!!!

Now you could say it happens to be forgetful once in a while and all that, but, I have spent a considerable time on my blog lately so how come I forgot?

Anyways, this is the result. I still have to figure out a way to get the actual box in here, so in the absence of that, I just copied and pasted the result.

True Random Number GeneratorMin: Max: Result:5
Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Entry number 5 = Sarahlouisa

Can you send your address to my email address please, and along with the text (optional) you will want me to write on the bag.

Thanks everyone who participated.

Catford Sewing and Knitting Group

Hi folks, thank you so much for the lovely words of support you all gave me regarding my missed trip to Scotland, and the health issues behind it. It means a lot to me to know that I have friends out there who care. The fact that I have not even met all of you yet makes it all the more special.

You all have the eternal gratitude of Mr.Dibs, who woke up at 6:30am on Saturday morning to the sounds of me crying on the phone to House of Pinheiro , who was on her way to the airport, and trying her best to console this hysterical person on the other side of the line. After she managed to calm me down, and we hung up, all Mr.Dibs could say was “she sounds really nice”, to which I snapped “They are all very nice”. He got a better understanding of my last statement when I told him the girls were sending me a parcel through Houseof Pinheiro. How can you not love being a part of such a generous and loving sewing community?

Which brings me to a more serious matter.....

St.Laurence Church, Catford.
 Home of the Catford Sewing and Knitting Group.

A couple of days ago, I got an email from a lovely lady called Delphina, telling me about a new sewing and knitting group in Catford, in South London, which will go into operation at the end of the month. It is council-funded ( how cool is that?), and it is completely free to join. However, since it is Council funded, priority is given to Lewisham borough residents. Delphina did point out the fact that they have space for 12-15 people, so she’s certain of the fact that a few non-residents might also be included.

Unfortunately, I live very far from Catford, but I am sure one of you might be able to take advantage of this wonderful initiative. I wish I had one like this in my borough.

So here are few FAQs about the Catford Sewing and Knitting Group.


1) How much does it cost?

Nothing! We are a 'not-for-profit' community group funded by Lewisham Council. However, space is limited so we operate 'first-come-first-served' at tables.

2) Where do you meet?

From 11am - 5.30pm (6pm final close), every Saturday, except the 3rd Sat of each month, in the 'Youth Room' at St Laurence Hall, Bromley Road (

3) Do you teach sewing, knitting, embroidery, crochet etc?

We do not teach classes in sewing, knitting, embroidery or crochet. We are an informal drop-in for people who already know how to pattern cut, sew, knit, crochet or embroider and are confident in completing projects on their own. We provide a supportive environment only.

4) Do you provide sewing machines?

No. Our small budget does not cover this. Everyone must bring their own sewing or knitting machine, materials and yarn. We also do not provide spare needles, scissors or bobbins.
Rolls & Rems dressmaking shop in Lewisham is a 10-min bus ride away and stocks an impressive range of fabrics, yarns and haberdashery items at affordable prices.

5) Do you allow children?

For Health & Safety reasons, we cannot allow children under 16 in the room.

6) Is there wheelchair access?

Yes. St Laurence has full wheelchair access.

7) What facilities are there?

The room can hold approx. 12-15 people in all. We have one cutting table, a dummy, a steam iron, ironing board and full-length mirror. Please note: St Laurence has no wifi.

8) Do you provide refreshments?

We can provide a limited supply of tea and coffee.

9) Can I bring my own lunch?

Yes, sandwiches are fine. You must take your rubbish away with you. Catford High Street has a wide range of eateries and a large Tesco if you prefer to go out for lunch.

10) Is there parking?

Yes. St Laurence has parking in the rear for approx 25 cars. If this is full, the nearby streets of Culverly Road and Penerly Road are free to park on a Saturday. Just make double sure you are not on a line or blocking anyone's driveway!

11) What buses/trains stop nearby?

If using public transport, we recommend you use a sturdy trolley or suitcase to bring your machine, fabrics and sewing box. Catford is well served by two rail stations and many bus routes stop near the hall;

PLEASE NOTE: Any table left unattended for 45 mins will be given to the next person waiting.
Your machine and materials will be carefully removed and stored for when you come to collect.
You join the group on this understanding.







MARCH 2012


APRIL 2012


MAY 2012


If you, like me, are not physically able to be a part of this group, you can still keep up to date with their activities by following their blog....yes, its up and running already.

Have a lovely week everyone.

Sew Weekly: Simplicity 3673

Sunday, January 22

I finished the simplicity dress during the week, but as I was home all week, I could not wear it to work for my friend to take a picture of it, and by the time Mr.Dibs comes home, its already too dark to take nice pictures.

I'm feeling much better today, so I decided to do some posing. I whipped out the afro wig for some reinforcements.....

I probably should have added more length at the front. The hem is quite wide, so I can always undo that and redo the hem with more allowance at the front.

 Mr.Dibs said I looked like a grumpy cow and ordered me to smile....

The dress called for lining, but I did not have any suitable lining at home, and going to buy one was not feasible so I just used bias tape on the armholes and neckline. The top ( I cut size 16) was massive. So either my babaloons have not become as big as I think they have, or the pattern is just sized for bigger busts. To rectify this problem, I made two tiny pleats at the neckline. I don't know if you can see them, but they are there.

I also used a velvet trim at the waist (bust?) seamline.

This is the first maternity wear I have completed, which is such as shame as I only have 10weeks left. I am still convinced I can make more, but as my body has already proven, I should not make plans.

More pictures outside, with my clutch which served as my inspiration...

This week's Sew Weekly challenge called for the use of buttons. I am now 1 week behind on the challenges, but I am going to do them all the same. I know that at some point in the year, I will catch up with the rest of the girls.  I have been making cover buttons lately, and I still have to choose what I will use for my next challenge amongst these two sets....

Which do you prefer?

A little bit of biology

Saturday, January 21

Saturday 21st January 2012.

That is the date of today.

I'm not saying you don't know what today's date is.

I am just saying it is Saturday 21st January 2012.

In my Calendar, it is marked "Crafter's Ceilidh"

Yes, the same one blogged about here.

The same one that was supposed to provide me with 1 final bout of fabric related excitement before I became  too heavy to wobble anywhere.

Following the natural order of things, I would have been sitting on a train en route to Edinburgh, via Darlington, to meet-up with some lovely ladies. I had made up numerous scenarios on how I would scream when I met the other girls, right down to the pitch of my voice when I finally said "Hi, I'm Dibs, and its so nice to finally meet you" to people I have  been admiring for some time. I even had a dream about meeting Roobeedoo, yeah Roo, thats how much of a fan I am.

What I did not count on though, was the small matter of biology. I was so sure the only thing that could possibly stop me from going to Edinburgh would be a really expensive train ticket. I did get a really good deal on my train ticket, so all I had to do was cross my legs and wait for today to arrive.

My body however, had other plans. I have been having mobility problems lately. This started to get worse just after christmas, and even though I have spent more time at home than at work since the start of this year, I was so positive I would be better by today. And so I let my excitement grow. On monday, as I was limping to work, the guard at the gate gave me a sympathetic look, and said I should not have come in to work. I smiled indulgently, and wobbled along.

My manager upon seeing me hanging unto the walls for support as I made numerous mandatory bladder emptying trips, quickly ordered a taxi for me to go right back home, with strict instructions not to come to work until I had seen a doctor. 

I did see a doctor, and she told me I was suffering from Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction. Yes....I thought the same thing you are probably thinking right now. What a fancy name, for a not very fancy ailment. When I went home, I checked online, and found this description from

What is symphysis pubis dysfunction? 

The two halves of your pelvis are connected at the front by a stiff joint called the symphysis pubis. This joint is strengthened by a dense network of tough, flexible tissues, called ligaments. To help your baby pass through your pelvis as easily as possible, your body produces a hormone called relaxin, which softens the ligaments.

As a result, these joints move more during and just after pregnancy, causing inflammation and pain, known as symphysis pubis dysfunction or SPD. 

The result of this, my friends, is that I am now reduced to using my phone to call Mr.Dibs, who is almost always watching The Big Bang Theory, and asking him to bring me a glass of water in bed. If I have to empty my treacherous bladder, I either have to creep to the bathroom, or reach for my phone and call Mr.Dibs to report to the room for his ever increasing Florence Nightingale duties. 

I'm sorry if you rather not be reading my unglamorous health problems, but I am just so disappointed I am not presently in Scotland, that I wanted to share my pain.......yes, I am that mean. 

I'm looking forward to seeing pictures of the event. I don't know how I will feel seeing all the fun I am missing now, but I can't wait to see them. How pathetic is that? Mr. Dibs said I will get to go to other meet-ups, that my life does not have to end when Noah comes along, and that he could look after him while I met everyone on the blogoshpere. True I know, but it will not be the same. It will not be the Crafter's Ceilidh. 

What about you? Have you ever made plans for an event and ended up not going?

Have a nice weekend everyone.,,,oops, time for another blowing session into my tear soaked hanky.

Enabling Blogger Threaded Comments

Wednesday, January 18

This is a non-sewing related post. Its related to our blogs...those of us who use Blogger. I'm sure by now anyone who uses Blogger would have noticed that they can't reply to comments from on their posts. That was one of the first things I noticed after I signed up to Blogger. I used to have a blog on Wordpress called Love it!Sew it! . I used it in 2010 to write about my wedding planning.  I stopped using it because I wanted a fresh start, and I did not like the name of the blog anymore, so I set up a blogger blog.

I remember the shock I had when I realised  Blogger did not have the same threaded comments functionality as Wordpress. I started experimenting with various HTML codes to address the comments issue, and for some time, was able to reply to some comments, but unfortunately, if I did not reply immediately after said comment, my reply would only appear after the latest comment, and not the actual comment I wanted to reply to.

Fast forward to 2012, and Blogger have FINALLY solved the problem. If you look at my last post, in the comment section, you will see that I now have a similar threaded comment functionality to Wordpress blogs. I did not do any coding this time. Blogger did it. YAY!!. And activating it is dead easy. Just use the following steps:

  1. You need to set your blogger comments to "Embedded below post". This means you will be able to comment on the page itself, and not in a pop-up window.
Settings - Comments - Comment form placement - (Embedded below post)

    2.  Change your blog post feeds to "Full"

Settings - Site Feed - Blog Posts Feed - (Full).

Make sure you save your changes. That should do the trick.

I know my interface might look different to some of yours, so if you are using the newer Blogger interface, you might want to take a look at this post, or this. They should be better explained than mine in any case.

Hope this helps.

Sew Weekly Challenge Inspiration

Monday, January 16

So this year I joined the Sew Weekly sewing challengers group. If you have not heard of the Sew Weekly, which I think is highly unlikely, you might want to pop over here

Last week was the Accessories Challenge Week. I started something, which I still have to complete. So yes, i have already failed the challenge, as the week is already over. I don't mind though. I do not think I will be able to follow EVERY challenge, or finish every challenge on time, but I will try to participate to the best of my abilities.

So the challenge was to sew something which was inspired by an accessory.

My inspiration was one of my Lulu Guinness clutches:

And this is what I am making. A dress with an empire line waistline. I bought the fabric from walthamstow Market for £2/metre. I bought 3 metres, but I am using about 2 metres, or just under. It is a really soft stretch cotton fabric, and feels like velvet. So because of that, I am using a velvet trim on the waist seam line.

I am using the top half of this Simplicity pattern:

I cut size 16, but it is too big ( as I found out afterwards), so I am having to work some magic on the dress. Hopefully I should have it sorted. I really want to make this dress, AND finish it. It would do wonders for my confidence as I have not completed a single item since July last year. Shocking non?

I'm hoping to have it completed by Wednesday, and have some pictures up.

What are you all working on right now?

Freezer Paper Stencilling Project and Give Away

Friday, January 13

Howdy everyone?

I have not written in a while, I know. I really don't have any excuse to be honest. The one excuse I have ( which is a valid one mind you) is becoming a sing song ( yes I have not been well) so I will just chalk my inactivity to good old laziness. I might not have been sewing, but I have been busy doing other things, which shall be revealed in due time round these parts, so watch this space.

I don't have any new year's resolution. I never succeed in keeping them, so I don't set them. Having said that, I am going to say this year I hope I can do more craft related things, not just sewing. There are many new things I would like to try this year, when the time is right. Some of them ( like making leather bags) involve really toxic materials. I have been advised not to attempt using them until I am once more a single entity, having found the strength to expel a certain somebody from my body.....the little parasite....not my friend Vicks calls them that.

So, tonight I decided to do some fabric printing. I bought some plain shopper bags from ebay last week, to practise on. The idea is to customise my outfits and other fabric related projects by printing my own fabric. I'm thinking table linen, tea towels, skirts, tshirts, and in future, Noah's onesies.

Last year I went crazy and bought three books on diy printing, but as usual, was too lazy to make anything. I have been buying up a storm lately, stocking up on things I might like to use in my crafty projects when I am on maternity leave. So today after work I pulled out one of the books, and went down to business.

The pictures are a bit camera seems to be sick....I'm still working on Mr.Dibs regarding an SLR camera.

Using one of the images provided at the back of the book by Lotta Jansdotter, I traced the image unto the dull side of my freezer paper.......

Then I cut it out with a craft knife......

After cutting it out, I ironed the freezer paper unto the bag, shiny side down.Then used a sponge I had at home ( Mr.Dibs used to use it to clean his car) to apply some fabric paint to the cut stencil. You must put a cardboard or something hard between the two layers of the bag to prevent ink going to the back of the bag.

 Normally you are supposed to let it dry, but I was so impatient, and wanted instant gratification so I used my heat tool to dry the paint.

When it is dry, carefully peel away the freezer paper from the bag. It will come right out.

And there you have your new shopper. It looks really plain, so I am considering adding some words to it. That, will be a project for another day, or maybe not.

A spot of modelling.....trying to hide my ever expanding bump.

I am giving this bag away. If you like it, and want it, just leave a comment stating the other crafty things you want to try this year.

Whoever wins the bag will have the option of receiving the bag as it is, or if they desire, I can customise the bag further with whatever quotes they want on it. It could be your favourite saying, song title, or even the name of your blog. So start thinking of what you will want printed on the space above the bottle and cup.

This giveaway will close on Sunday 22nd January 2012 at midnight, London time, and is open to everyone, irrespective of geographic location.

Its Friday tomorrow. How excited are you about the weekend?