I’ve been living up to my blog name this week, dipping into various projects, as mood / inclination, light, time and inspiration have struck: bits of progress on several projects but nothing major on anything.

Last week’s pomegranate dyeing has dried with some surprising results, in particular the nylon lace which started out white and silver. Originally looking very cold, it has resulted in really warm tones, the silver becoming almost gold.

I’ve wound some of the hanks of perlé on to cards, a quiet, mindless task that I can do while talking or watching the telly, or it can become quite meditative, untangling my thoughts as the tangled threads become smooth and ordered, and appear far more appealing to stitch with.

I’ve also started putting the lining of the dress together with long machine stitches, with the intention of using it as a toile. The long stitches will make them easier to take out if any alterations are needed. I have used small tacking stitches to put the zip in, just so I can get the fit right. It really needs a concealed zip, and the lining will be hand stitched to the zip so the fabric doesn’t get caught in it. (This is something that can be a real pain, especially if it’s on the back and you can’t see where it’s caught.)

It still needs a couple of seams doing, the back princess seams, the side seams and the shoulder seams. No rush, as I don’t know when I will see the friend it’s for. I’m considering sending it by post but not sure if I’ll be able to tell on-line if the fit is right or not, nor sure that I trust the post to get it there and back to me. So, I’m stalling a little with it so I don’t have to decide yet! For some reason my photos won’t all download, so sorry, no pics of this.

I’ve also started doing a little more than just thinking about the next travelling pages for Scunthorpe Embroidery and Textile Association next week. The title is:

I noticed the piece of cushioning that you get at the bottom of soft fruit packs feels almost like fabric. It has a regular pattern on it, similar to Aida, and I thought it could be used to stitch on to. I’ve got black and red pieces, and having started reading “The Strawberry Thief” by Joanne Harris this week and liking the book cover design, I realised that the red could be used to cut out strawberries. Reading further into the book last night there’s a reference to the “Strawberry Thief” design by William Morris. I love his work, but haven’t researched it for years, so that will also reference the title for the travelling pages.

When I was learning to draw we were encouraged to work from life rather than photos, so I brought in a couple of leaves from the garden as well as taking a photo of the strawberry plant.

So far, it’s just a quick sketch to get shapes. I was thinking a stylised strawberry plant, but haven’t drawn up anything yet.

I’ve cut out a few strawberries, and some leaves from the flower wrapper that I used for my tulip leaves for the Grasby Embroiderers Exhibition at The Old Rectory in Epworth. It’s much stronger than tissue paper and took machine stitching well when backed with silk. I’ll try hand stitching into it.

Nothing finished this week, they’re all works in progress.

I went to peel a beautiful large red pomegranate early in the week, only to discover it was going soft on one side and the seeds going brownish. It looked most unappetising, much to my disappointment.

I remembered that I’d used pomegranate (with lemons and manky-looking oranges) to dye some fabric quite successfully back in April 2014. I found the instructions on my blog post – Natural dyes – pomegranates.

I boiled it up for an hour, and strained this mess into a Pyrex casserole dish.

Then I added a white fine cotton blouse, covered it and gave it 10 minutes in the microwave; I left it to cool overnight.

The blouse has come out a lovely pale caramel colour. The photo doesn’t look as good as the reality, as with most of the photos at the moment the light is not good.

I added more water to the mush and boiled it for an hour before straining it, and adding lots of bits of fabric, cotton, linen, silk, embroidery anglais, and some perle threads, including some mid-blue ones. As an afterthought I added some of the scraps of Procion dyed turquoise from the dress lining of last week’s blog post – Brave, and lucky. Then I covered it, gave it 10 minutes in the microwave, and left it to cool overnight.

Rinsing in the kitchen sink.

I gave it a good rinse in the sink.

The turquise has left a couple of faint marks on one of the other pieces, so I separated the wet fabrics into the neutrals.

And the blues. As back in 2014, the silk has taken the colour most. They just need to dry and be ironed.

The turquoise hasn’t changed much, just slightly greener. (Artificial light below, the one above is nearer the wet colour, in daylight.)

As well as the lovely soft colours, I like that the fabric doesn’t need pre-mordanting because the pomegranate contains natural tannins.

I have made the most of the kitchen table being clear for a few hours today, it probably won’t be again until at least next Tuesday. Miles and Lera are coming back later for New Year and staying until then.

I have finally plucked up the courage to cut out the lining for the beautiful Sari fabric dress that I wrote about back in mid-November (“Dress-making”), using a “Vogue” pattern. It’s a princess line, the front and back each made of four panels. Having discussed the best way to tackle it with a dress-making friend, it was suggested that I use the lining as a toile, and make any necessary alterations before I cut the Sari fabric.

The pattern pieces were all out and ready to go, but Christmas preparations and other things got in the way. There were no more reasons (excuses?) to procrastinate about it this morning, so I ironed the dyed fabric and the pattern, and set to.

The usual practice, measure twice and cut once. I kept checking the straight grain, and making sure it was all going to fit. There were only four pieces, needing two of each, but it had to be done 2 x 2, as it wouldn’t all fit on the table in one go. I had a final consultation by phone, to check and confirm where I was adding a fraction to make sure it fits on the waist (which seams).

I was all ready to pick up the scissors, having discussed whether to use pins or weights to hold the pattern down, and scissors or the rotary cutter. I chose to stick with what I know – pins and scissors. Carefully checking which lines to cut on the multi-size pattern as I went, I got half-way round the last piece and….. it wasn’t so obvious, but something didn’t make sense!

Instead of it saying, 6, 8, 10, 12, and 14, it said 16, 18, 20 and 22; odd! All the pattern pieces that I didn’t need were put back in the envelope when we were taking measurements. Also when the friend came to talk through the best way to tackle it, we had taken measurements on all four pieces to check my calculations on bust, waist and hips, and to allow for ease: all fine.

How all three of us (me, at least twice) had missed that one piece was from the other size pattern is beyond me, but fortunately I had started at the shoulder seam and then cut down the centre back. I’d already left the excess on the other three pieces at the hem, just in case we decided to make it longer and, as I was checking which line I wanted, I noticed the larger sizes printed on the pattern.

Very lucky, I quickly swapped the pattern pieces, lined up my notches on the centre back and re-cut round the neck and across the shoulder. The photo below shows how much more I needed to cut off.

If I hadn’t noticed, I would have been wondering why things didn’t match up. It was all cut out and ready to stitch now. Once I got going, it all felt very natural; like riding a bike, it soon comes back. Hopefully the stitching will be the same.

It’s a “Very Easy Vogue” pattern, so if it lives up to its claim, it shouldn’t be too difficult. But if memory serves me well, I used to find Vogue patterns unnecessarily complicated. Time will tell.

Much to our delight and relief, our son Miles and his wife Lera have recovered from Covid and have done two negative lateral flow tests, so can come for Christmas. They are on their way.

I ended up making the Christmas cake on my own. Miles has helped with it since he was tiny, and when he was away studying I would make it with him in the background on Skype or latterly on Messenger. It seemed a bit strange not having him here helping, eating the fruit as he was chopping it, scraping the bowl and nicking the marzipan as I was trying to roll it and put it in the cake.

I’ve done the same Delia Smith Creole Christmas cake since I first saw it on the telly in the late 80’s. It’s done in two stages: the fruit prepared and gently heated with 3 tablespoons each of rum, brandy, port and cherry brandy (some years I’ve substituted different booze); it also has a small amount of Angostura Bitters, which gives it its distinctive flavour. This is then cooled and kept in a jar for a week (or two, or three, once six) but the time doesn’t seem to change it much.

I woke on Wednesday morning thinking it would make a change to make a wreath-shaped cake instead of the usual square, so used two pans without bottoms that my mum had in graduated sizes. Would it work to use the biggest one on the base of the square (again my mum’s), and grease the smallest one both sides really well, fill the big ring and then push the small one in the centre?

Only one way to find out. Yes, it does. I gave the small one a good wiggle almost as soon as it came out of the oven, it all seemed loose; a quick lift on to another cooling rack, and magically two cakes!

There was one slight problem: I couldn’t think how to make one piece of marzipan do the inside of the ring as well as the outside. Colin reckoned I needed to do a separate strip for the inside, so that’s what I did. It looks slightly messy, but I couldn’t think of any other way of doing it, and it works.

I cut some holly leaves from the marzipan and rolled some holly berries, then used a cook’s blow-torch to scorch the leaves a little to make them stand out more.

It’s a sewing friend’s birthday today, so yesterday’s usual stitching round the kitchen table and pot luck lunch became afternoon tea for her birthday, everyone contributing part of it.

I laid a beautiful charity-shop-find tablecloth with drawn threadwork and filet crochet round the edge, a little Christmas cloth that had been my mum’s, and my great grandma’s tea service. The plate that looks like ice is an old microwave turntable. The cake was cut yesterday for the birthday tea, but as I went to cover it, I realised I could curve it round a little more, and almost make it look whole again!

The little cake from the middle has had marzipan stars on the top, again toasted. No doubt Miles and Lera will take half of what is left back home with them (both cakes, depending how long they stay).

It’s crazy, all the things we juggle to fit in for Christmas. I do try to focus on the bits I enjoy doing, making the cards, some Christmassy stitching, decorating the trees, making the Christmas cake and generally the cooking and baking, the getting together with family and friends. I’m not so keen on the tidying up and cleaning, but at least there is an incentive.

Many of the things we normally do will not happen again this year. Our son and his wife tested positive earlier in the week. Fortunately we’d not been with them for several weeks and, providing they continue to recover OK, their 10 days’ isolation will end on Christmas Eve. So, fingers crossed.

We’ve never had Christmas for just the two of us. It would certainly be novel, and we both keep coming up with things we could do. We will cook the best bits of Christmas dinner; for me, the sausagemeat and chestnut stuffing, the homemade cranberry sauce and lots of different veg, not forgetting the sprouts with bits of bacon and chestnuts, and Colin will certainly want roast potatoes. The turkey is much too big for just the two of us, so we will save that until we can eat with the kids or friends later.

But we continue as if it will be at least four of us. Time will tell.

The Christmas challenge for the Allsorts group that I go to was somehow to use text in the piece. Sally suggested I peel the tissue transfer with angels and the word Noel off the burnt-down candle that Colin’s cousin gave us years ago. Part of it had burnt away, but I stood a tealight inside and it still glowed when lit, even if looking a bit past its best.

I carefully peeled it off and used bond-a-web to iron it to a piece of white felt. We were supposed to be making reusable crackers a fortnight ago (I’d done two sets nearly 30 years ago), but the Allsorts session was cancelled because of snow. I’d thought it would work to attach the stitched felt to the centre of the cracker.

I used running stitch with a very fine gold thread around the text, the star, the outline of the angels, and the angel’s curls. It all subtly catches the light.

The cracker-making happened on the morning that we were to bring our finished pieces for voting on our favourites, five dried peas each to share against the one or ones we liked best. The piece with the most won a box of assorted beads.

The crackers are made with either crisp tubes (large cracker) of kitchen roll middle (standard size cracker), using metallic crepe paper. The tutor Kerry had cut the tubes ready for us, and put double sided tape on three sides of the two pieces of metallic crepe for us all. We just had to take off the paper covering the tape, roll up two pieces of the tube on each piece of crepe, and fold in the ends.

Then to decorate the crackers, Kerry had brought a big bag of trimmings, ribbons, etc. for us to delve into. I used my pre-stitched piece of angels and text in the centre but, seeing the pretty ribbons that the others had put on the ends, I had a rummage in the bag and found a little roll of gold musical notation which I’ve attached to each end. The notation will remind me of the many happy hours I’ve spent learning Christmas carols on the piano over the last month or so, some of which are now recognisable.

The centre tube can be filled with little presents or chocolates, and apparently it will hold a box of After Eights! It all looks very pretty and is a great re-use of the candle trim.

Last wekend I had an early Christmas present. A Jenny Adin-Christie kit and workshop at the Lincolnshire Textiles group. What a treat! It was booked in June / July and there were only 16 places, with an initial interest of 20, so it was a case of the first 16 to pay up. I was one of the lucky quick ones.

There was a selection of kits to choose from, grouped together so that they were viable for Jenny to teach together. In the end she was teaching five different kits simultaneously, some overlap of techniques but nevertheless quite a feat.

I knew it would be good having had the privilege of doing a workshop with her a few years ago, but these were more complex kits, which was why it was over two days. I chose to do a Passion Flower, thinking that, of the flowers available, this was more different than anything I’ve tackled myself (completely different league, mind you).

The weather forecast was a bit iffy during the week leading up to it, even waking up to snow on Thursday morning and more predicted for the weekend. And it was Lincoln Christmas market weekend, so getting there was potentially a bit fraught. Sally and I set off much earlier than normal, both very keen not to arrive late, nor to miss anything. There was hardly anything on the road and it was a bright, fine morning. We arrived very early, but too late to help set up the room. It felt very strange sitting there waiting for things to start. We both tend to be fitting in one last thing before leaving to get anywhere, usually arriving by the skin of our teeth!

We were all given our kits: they looked too beautiful to open, even once the lid was off. The tissue paper was held together by a tiny sticker, which I peeled off as carefully as possible. We had had a list of requirements to bring: basic sewing kit, hoops, a stand and watercolour brushes. However pretty much everything was in the kit, and carefully labelled on the packets which stage of the kit it was for, including the right needle for each bit. Something I have a lot to learn on.

The photo below doesn’t do it justice. It was only taken at the end of the day, after confirming with Jenny that it was OK to blog about it, and to put photos on my Instagram account. It is nowhere near as neat and well-presented after I had been dipping into it all day. The instuction book on the left gives stage by stage photos and illustrations, as well as clear, understandable written instructions.

Jenny’s mum makes up the kits, and her dad turns the tiny wooden elements; the attention to detail by all of them is phenomenal. The tiny beeswax heart for waxing thread is melted and moulded by her daughter. And her husband manages the “shop” and deals with the payments, and does the lifting and carrying. It’s a real family business.

Jenny is Royal School of Needlework trained and her own work is exquisite. Her teaching skills are remarkable, breaking down the complex elements into manageable and achievable chunks. She even makes the non-painters of the group feel able to do the silk-painting element.

I never manage to get the hooping-up tight enough, so Jenny gave it a few tugs to make it drum tight, before we started couching down the wires, and then buttonhole stitching around the petals with tiny, tiny stitches which are going to take a while (after Christmas!).

We were shown how to do each section, there are more than one of most of them to do. The tiny wooden stigmas are about the size of my little finger nail. How her dad turns them is beyond me. They were tricky enough to hold and stitch, I felt all thumbs at times.

Even with my really strong glasses I could hardly see what I was doing on the needlelace. This is the first one.

The purls all had to be cut and threaded on to the wire with the beads. Some are a bit squashed and they are not very even in size, but they are impoving with repetition; lots more to go.

The stamens are wired and buttonholed before silk-shading the centres.

This is as far as I got in the two days, which went very, very quickly, a sure sign you’re enjoying yourself. A lovely on-going Christmas present, first the rest of the stitching and then the finished orchid.

Much to our surprise the weather went foul and wet on the Saturday, and soon dark, which was a shame as Jenny and family were going to the Christmas Market (where they got very wet and cold). On the Sunday afternoon we thought the traffic would be bad, but it wasn’t. We were happy with what we had achieved and feel confident that we can finish the project with what we have learnt and had demonstrated. If necessary we have the very comprehensive instruction book with Jenny’s hand drawn illustrations as an aide-memoire. All we need is time to stitch!

I must recommend Jenny’s highly professional kits and workshops, and her website http://www.jennyadin-christieembroidery.com is a visual treat. A lovely lady, too!

This five week block of Mags Bradley’s painting class has whizzed by. I really don’t know where November went, I only realised I hadn’t turned the calendar on from October on the 19th November!

We painted apples, early on. I used some russets from the garden, this year the best (and biggest) they have ever been. I pruned the tree a bit harder than I usually dare, and it paid off, but not so with the other eater, nor the cooker, both smaller and less fruit on them this year. They flower slightly earlier and I think a frost caught them both.

I chose these three for their variation in colour and texture.

We did quick sketches on cartridge paper to start with, and then added some colour. The room has lights that give multiple shadows, so I played around with them a little, just as Mags had said only to put one shadow in! I quite liked the idea of using the shadows to abstract the fruit. Lots of corrections, but we don’t use a rubber as we go along.

I didn’t finish my “proper” painting on watercolour paper, intending to get back to it at home, but the apples had changed too much before I managed it.

The following week we had to take flowers to paint, and these were all I could find in the garden.

I more or less finished this in the class. It just needs a little tightening up in places, in good light, which doesn’t last long even when we do get some at this time of year.

I was a week ahead of myself on this one. We were meant to be doing a little group of three, which it sort of was: one tree, one tin and one felt bird (if you don’t count the handmade decorations in the tin, see the top picture). There were lots of good memories of making or receiving them. I thought if I could paint it OK, it would reduce down (it’s more or less A3 at the moment) to make our Christmas cards.

I thoroughly enjoyed drawing them, and was quite pleased with the drawing. There were a few tweaks from Mags on perspective of the tin, and the suggestion of making the bird bigger. I started painting it in class, and went away with the instruction to keep it simple.

A rare morning of good light the next day so I continued painting, expecting to ruin it at any moment, but enjoying the process. The candles are copper foiled stained glass; the fairy, the one that was topless for many years; calico tree with different stitches and beads and bells; the babousha, Christmas Pudding and bauble and bird are all felt with simple stitching. I’d quite surprised myself by the time I’d finished painting, a completely different style from anything I’d done before.

I didn’t get as far as taking it to the library to have it scanned before this week’s class. I couln’t decide whether to put a cloth or table to ground it all, nor where to put it if so. Mags suggested that I strenghen the colours and add some baubles to the tree, add some shadows under the tree and put some shadow under the calico tree (too heavy – they got softened out).

Right at the end of the class Mags helped with adding a cloth, which I quickly painted in so that I could go and have it scanned on the way home. I need to tweak it down in size and print off the cards, then hopefully get Colin to write them all. The handmade Christmas card with his illegible writing has been our trademark greeting to family and friends for 25 years now!

I’ve been working on the Travelling Pages to do a Travelling Book for SEATA (Scunthorpe Embroidery and Textile Association). It was decided to change the way of working the Travelling Books. Previously we all had our own book that travelled each month, either a small group or latterly bigger groups. Some of the time it worked beautifully, passing on the book you had for a month and taking home a new one to work on for the next month. Other times it was discovered that somebody in the group had taken the wrong book, or occasionally one had not been returned (somebody on holiday, ill, or forgotten it), which proved somewhat problematic at times as geographically we are quite spread out.

So a new format was decided on, which hopefully will work more easily. We each have our own book which we keep rather than passing it on. And each month the folk that want to take part, or are able to, do a piece of embroidery (or whatever) that fits an A5 book, and another page showing inspiration, method of working, stitches, etc., the page signed and dated. Both pieces are put in a blank envelope, and early afternoon everybody who has put one in can take one out: a lucky dip. We then put the pages into our own books.

There is also a box to put in theme ideas, and one will be pulled out at around the same time. This will have advantages and disadvantages: when you knew who was in “your” group you could get ideas for the theme long before you got the book (just hoping somebody else hadn’t had similar thoughts); or if you knew you were going to be on holiday for the meeting, you could get in front of yourself and have it all ready to put in at the previous meeting. I rarely managed this, usually finishing it off on the morning of the meeting, even if it was only sticking it in the book having been waiting for something to dry overnight. I’m planning on being more organised now!

The theme this month was Autumn, certainly something that inspires me. I love the colours and crunching through the leaves in the woods. It seems to have lasted a long time this year. The leaves started changing colour in September, and it has only been this last week or so that the temperature has dropped rapidly and now most of the leaves have dropped.

I watched a TextileArtist.org Stitch Club workshop on felting on transparent fabrics with Jeanette Appleton a couple of weeks ago, and thought that I could adapt the idea a little, stitch leaves on to the transparent fabric and then felt it.

Organza with leaves stitched in different weight threads

The piece has much more texture than just using merino tops, and has an almost smocking-like appearance. It’s certainly something to experiment with further. 

I’ve missed the challenge of Travelling Books since lockdown and I’m pleased that they have started up again, albeit in a slightly different format. It was an opportunity to try something new, work with a theme that you wouldn’t normally consider, or use colours or stitches out of your comfort zone, and two A5 pages wasn’t too onerous. 

Left hand page – inspiration, method etc.

And what a treat to get a piece of somebody else’s work in your book! I’ll have to get out the two that I’ve got and have a look at them again.

It seems fitting that the weather has changed for the colder, and sleety rain on our way home tonight, as it’ll be December next week, and I can start Christmas things properly, instead of the odd sneaky play.

Much to my surprise this on-going project doesn’t seem to have featured in my blog before. It was started many years ago at the Allsorts group, a workshop with Carol Money. Carol’s a tutor I went to for many years at Adult Education classes or WEA, whichever she happened to be teaching at the time. This was when they kept moving the goal-posts on numbers in the class, whether we could stitch for enjoyment or had to have an outcome, venues that were available, etc., etc.

It consists of pieces of fine leather stitched (glued?) on to calico, then tea-stained muslin stitched betwen the “stones”. As usual I altered mine, to make it the stonework for a stained glass window. The muslin was turned through and caught down at the back. It stayed like this for a long time.

Then I went on a workshop with Jan Dowson, where we made our own “fabric” using snippets of fabric, threads and silver paper trapped between a piece of calico (with bond-a-web ironed on) and chiffon over the top. I could see many uses for this (like a sunflower piece in Sandra’s travelling book some time ago), but thought it would work for stained glass.

It does. I always felt it needed some stonework or leading over the window, but never came up with the right thing to do it until we did Hungarian Braided Chain Stitch with Alex at “In The Stitch Zone” a couple of weeks ago. The idea woke me up in the middle of the night, it’s a heavy enough stitch to work with straight enough edges.

All I needed to decide on was the right colour perlé thread: the black and the dark brown were too dominant, the grey the wrong tone.

The thicker slightly lighter tan was too shiny. The one on the left was just right (sounds like Goldilocks in the Three Bears Cottage).

The stonework isn’t quite symmetrical, so it doesn’t look quite even. I’m wondering if a twisted cord on the left side will give the impression of a shadow, and make it look more balanced. It has moved on a stage, a bit nearer a finish. It’s yet another example of how different tutors give me different skills that feed into my work. It would have been completely different if I had finished it at the time with Carol.

When I was a teenager I used to make a lot, if not most, of my own clothes. I was one out of four in my year group of about 100 girls who took “Dress” (needlework) ‘O’ level. This was partly due to the fact that although the teacher was very good, she was also very scary. I still refer to my needlework books for how to do things like concealed zips or how to do a particular type of seam. We had to do annotated diagrams for all the skills we learned, and sometime I’ve found them more use than YouTube.

It used to be much cheaper to make things of reasonable or good quality than to buy them. I remember the teacher taking us as a class on the bus into the centre of Birmingham and looking at the clothes in Chelsea Girl. She told us to look at the dreadful seams, badly put in zips and uneven hems on poor quality fabric and telling us we could make much better ourselves for less money.

This certainly appealed to me, particularly once I had 50p clothing allowance when I was 14. Mum still bought my school uniform, a winter coat and shoes, sensible ones! But apart from that I had to clothe myself. It was my choice, it meant I got to choose my clothes and I learned to budget in the process. I soon went back to wearing socks for school as it was all too easy to snag tights and they were soon full of ladders (with clear nail varnish to stop them running any further).

So making things made my 50p go further. My nanna also used to help especially with the hems; I would rustle up a dress in the week, stand on a chair for nanna to pin it up and get it level, and leave it with her to hand sew the hem in beautiful herringbone stitch. I’d collect it the following Saturday, often repeating the process. I didn’t like the hand-sewing, far too slow and needing more patience than I had at the time!

My mum sold fabric by the piece on a party basis at this time. It used to arrive once a month in various fabrics and lengths, and my mum, sister and I took turns to have first pick. But I’ve barely made anything in the way of clothes since we moved here in 1990.

Other things and interests took over, also patterns, notions and fabric became much more expensive in comparision to what you could buy ready-made. But it is still something I keep saying I want to get back to.

When visiting a friend a couple of years ago, an Indian friend who was staying with them was packing ready to move on and gave her the beautiful sari fabric above. I said I would make it up for her. She lives two and a half hours away, so taking measurements and fitting has been inpractical since lockdown.

We went there for a weekend at the beginning of August and a bit of draping took place. Measurements were taken, but no final decisions made. The fabric is very fine, and needs lining, but it’s a difficult colour to match, not quite blue and not quite turquoise. After a little consultation with another friend I was going to cut off the beautiful border and use the same fabric for the lining.

I then came across a Vogue pattern in a charity shop for 25p, less than I was buying patterns for in the 70’s. I thought the border would work well down the centre panels.

The friend came for the weekend a few weeks ago, and measurements were re-taken, decisions were made. A bit scary, but the border was cut off, leaving about 1cm at the edge of the gold, the very pattern part put away for now. The pattern pieces were laid on the fabric which was just about long enough to cut an outer layer and a lining if I narrowed the skirt. By the time she left, I had something to work with. We had done some pattern alterations on sleeves at school, so I planned on using a similar technique.

When I did the dyeing day a few weeks ago, I realised the Turquoise Procion dye was pretty close to the sari fabric. So on a good blowy day last week, I put in the washing machine a length of very fine cotton fabric that is the perfect size, with the Procion dye, salt and washing soda. I put the cotton pillowcase in when I washed it through to make sure it was not going to run. On the line while wet it looked an almost perfect match, but it has dried to more like the pillowcase colour. The right tone but lighter. Now I just need to brave cutting it all out.