The Anniversary Cushion, and Playing Catch Up

I’ve been knitting, sewing and taking loads of photos this summer, but have struggled to find the inspiration to write about any of it. Perhaps it’s down to my tendency to over think, but every time I open my laptop at the moment, my ideas vanish into a muddled…mess. I won’t claim to have a massive following here, but people have started asking when my next post is coming (you flatter me…), so this autumn, I’m going to work on toning up my blogging muscle, starting with my backlog of summer projects that have been lingering in the wings.

Around this time last year, my aunt (and godmother) asked if I could please save the date for a big ‘do’ to celebrate her and my uncles 25th wedding anniversary. There’s a pretty strong crafting strain in our family DNA; my grandma embroiders, my aunt is a very accomplished dressmaker, me and my sisters knit, sew, embroider, weave….

So, I immediately started looking for ideas for an anniversary present to make them, but what on earth do you give to a couple that they will both like??

Anniversary Cushion-1

An anniversary cushion…!

Ok, not the most wildly exciting idea, but I was really struck by this pattern with its lovely intertwining tree motif, and it’s something they can hopefully both enjoy having on their sofa. I chose silver-grey Cascade 220 (for a silver anniversary…) held double to make a big 18 x 18 inch cushion. The pattern recommends using a yarn with a bit of acrylic, but I hate acrylic and I know Cascade wears really well so…

I started it way in advance, but it turned out to be a surprisingly quick knit, only taking a week or so. I worked it entirely in the round to save on sewing up (more details on my ravelry  project page).

Anniversary Cushion-5

The pattern included instructions for one-row buttonholes, which are MUCH better than the usual way – neater, less prone to stretching out of shape, and no weird gaps! I finished it off with some lovely teal buttons, and a slightly too big feather cushion pad…

It was ready by the end of June, and it finally made its way to Belgium a few weeks ago (taking up at least half of my suitcase…).

They seemed to like it!

COS Inspired Camber Dress

In March I went to stay with my sister in Berlin for a few days, and got to experience the joys of city window shopping. I was particularly keen to go to COS, whose stuff I’ve been eyeing up online for months but don’t have any access to (humour me here, us country folk have limited options). I was a bit horrified to discover that none of their clothes actually fit me, but did come away with some ideas about plain boxy dresses and chartreuse contrast panels…

Camber Dress Hanging1

A couple of months later, my vague ideas became a concrete plan to make a Merchant and Mills ‘Camber Dress’ in Essex yarn dyed linen, with a chartreuse contrast yoke (KONA solids quilting cotton in ‘Pickle’). I made the most of my staff discount and bought both at Social Fabric, having spent valuable work time uhming and ahing about colour combinations…

I chose the Camber Dress pattern partly because I really like the style, but also because I haven’t done any dressmaking in a while, and I wanted a straightforward pattern with minimal fuss. With no closures, and a loose fit that would need minimal fit alterations, this pattern seemed like a good reintroduction.

Camber Dress 1

And it was! Mostly… I made the smallest size, and didn’t change the fit of the dress at all, apart from shortening it by a good 12cm. This was partly because a calf length boxy dress seemed like a sartorially bad idea, and partly because I’d miscalculated how much fabric I needed and bought slightly too little. This also meant that after pre-washing, I had to fold, press, and cut my fabric very carefully to squeeze the whole dress out of it, hence the very obvious centre front crease (dress has had several washes since these photos were taken and you can still see it..).

Camber Dress 2

The actual sewing was surprisingly easy. There’s a little bit of wrangling involved when sewing the lined yoke, but nothing too taxing. I chose to invisibly hand sew the yoke lining to the inside, rather than have an obvious line of machine stitching on the outside. I was most dreading setting in the sleeves, which I’ve always found difficult, but these went in really easily and quickly. I guess good pattern drafting does make a difference!

The only major trial I had was seam finishing. Rather than overcome my fear of the overlocker, I decided to make things harder for myself, and make contrast chartreuse seam binding for the inside seams. Something I had never tried…or practiced…and used half remembered instructions for… Needless to say, it was a bit of a disaster. The finished result will do, but it’s not attractive, and would not pass close inspection…

I bit the bullet and used the overlocker at work to finish the armhole seams.

Camber Dress 3

I actually finished this dress back in June, and it’s already become a wardrobe staple. Seriously, I’ve worn it at least once a week, every week since I finished it. It’s comfortable, looks ‘put together’ with minimal effort (great for work) and the slightly heavier fabric is great for unpredictable British summers. My sister Hannah noted that it’s ‘very COS’ when I showed it to her, so that’s my brief fulfilled.

The only thing that would make this dress even better would be in-seam side pockets – I might try adding some if I make it again (which I think I will, I’m starting to worry about what I’ll wear in the autumn when it gets too cold for linen….). The shoulder fit might also need a bit of tweaking – the yoke wrinkles up in an odd way when my shoulders are in certain positions, and I haven’t quite worked out why.

Ultimately, I’m just really happy to have sewn something that I actually want to wear regularly, imperfections be damned!


This is Bun. She’s for my friend Maddy who nearly kidnapped Elijah the elephant when I knitted him last year….


Bun was a bit of a quick travel project during a recent trip to Belgium. She’s another one of Ysolda Teague’s brilliant seamless toy patterns, which look utterly bizarre when in progress, but mean you don’t need to keep track of lots of tiny bits of knitting. I often found myself surrounded by a small crowd of intrigued spectators, who made me promise to show photo’s when she was finished. I still struggle with the disappearing cast-on, and grafting stitches at the end, but the rest was a really fun knit.

I used some very soft, shiny Sublime Baby Cashmere Merino Silk DK in ‘Pebble’ which I’d been eyeing up at work. It’s a nice balance between a luxury yarn and a practical one (it’s still machine washable, you have to consider these things). I’m not too worried, Bun will be well looked after by a responsible adult…


I’ve grown quite attached to her since I gave her a face. Oh well….

Happy birthday Maddy, I hope you like it!