52 week sewing challenge

I often (most of the time) sew whatever I am in the mood for. Most of the time it involves smocking, but lately I haven’t been feeling like smocking, although I am still doing quite a bit of it. At the end of 2018 I came across a FB group called ‘52 week sewing challenge‘.  There is a list of 52 ‘themes’, with sponsors and prizes every week, by random selection. The prizes wasn’t the drawcard for me, it was the different themes every week. I felt as if it could motivate me to do a bit more than just smocking, and more of a purpose to my sewing.

Week 1 was a well-needed ‘Organise your sewing space‘.
I am lucky to have a lovely room for my sewing, with an amazing sea view, comfy chair, lots of space, tv and even a woodburner for the cold winter days. I used the time to sort through my ribbons and lace and elastics, even sorted my smaller pieces of fabric according to colour to make it easier to find the perfect colour for applique. My machines were dusted and cleaned, threads sorted. All bits and pieces picked up from the floor. I am happy to say that I have been keeping it relatively sorted between projects since week 1

1:52 Organise sewing space

Week 2: Sew an UFO
I finished a ‘peppermint swirl’ dress for a doll. The skirt part was completed when I made the girl dress. But after it was given to a little girl, the doll skirt part was forgotten. And I didn’t really feel like finishing it. So it surfaced as the UFO as I thought it would be a shame not to finish. It was a quick sew, but it felt good to get it done.

2:52 Sew a UFO

Week 3: Sew a Pattern you own but never tried.
This was an easy pick as I started this little dress a few weeks earlier. But I bought the pattern last year and simply never got to it. It was Isobel which I bought for Violet Threads Patterns

3:52 Sew a pattern you own but never used

Week 4: Sew Something Red
This one caused me a bit of a headache as I never really sew red. And I only had one piece of red fabric. It is Shweshwe fabric which my friend brought me when she visited on Christmas day. I started the dress earlier than week 4, but only made the button holes, added buttons and completed the hand work during week 4

4:52 Red

Week 5: Sew something with fancy seams
I had fabric left over after I made the Week 3 dress, and the neigbours just became grandparents of a little babygirl. I smocked a whole outfit, with smocked bloomers and also embroidered little sandals. My fancy seams were ‘french seams’ which I quite like using when I smock a bishop style dress. It is so much neater. Again I finished this little dress during week 5, after starting it a few weeks earlier

5:52 Fancy Seams

Week 6: Sew something to make sewing easier
I have been thinking about a place to keep the hoops for my embroidery machine, therefore this was the perfect opportunity to make something for it. I embroidered the pockets, and then sewed it all together, attached it to a clothes hanger. And it is perfect! The hoops are out of the way, but also in a safe place, and within easy reach

6:52 Make Sewing Easier

Week 7: Upcycle something
A while ago I rescued a shirt from the rubbish bin. My husband couldn’t understand the logic behind the rescue, but I knew exactly what I wanted to use it for – to make a little dress! Not an original idea at all, I saw it somewhere on the internet at some stage. Part of the reason I wanted to give it a try was because I have never done shirring with elastic on my sewing machine before and always wanted to try it. I saw mum doing it when I was a child, and remember she was never very keen to use this method. In the end it was easier than I thought it would be. And the dress looks pretty

7:52 Upcycle

Week 8: Sew something with knit fabric
The plan was to make myself a top with knit fabric, something I haven’t done for many years. But it is the challenge for this week and I needed a top last week. One of my goals this year was to try and sew myself underwear, including a bra. I had a practice run a couple of weeks ago, it was less successful. But the next one has been cut and parts of it sewed. I hope to finish it on time for this week’s challenge

These are the first themes of the challenge:

Week number From Date To Date Qtr Challenge
Week 01




Organize Your Sewing Space
Week 02



  Sew a UFO
Week 03



  Sew a Pattern You Own But Have Never Tried
Week 04



  Sew Something Red
Week 05




Sew Something with Fancy Seams
Week 06




Sew Something to Make Sewing Easier
Week 07




Upcycle Something
Week 08




Sew Something with Knit Fabric
Week 09




Sew Something Green or Environmentally Friendly
Week 10




Sew Your Oldest Fabric
Week 11




Sew Something that is not Clothing
Week 12




Sew a Woman’s Pattern
Week 13




Sew Something with a Collar

First quilt for 2019 finished! I started this Sweetest Things sampler at the beginning of 2018. They released one block a month. Next month the post on how to finish the quilt will be posted, but I knew how I wanted to finsh it. Have to say, I am glad it is done. I used supersoft minky for the backing


2019 ideas

I actually think this is the first time I write ‘2019’ anywhere, and it is already the 10th of January! Yes, it is here. It arrived quietly in our house where everyone went to bed around 10 ish. I was awake at midnight to send messages to my children spread all over the world, and to family in South Africa

The year started with us giving the lounge and computer room a good clean. We washed the carpets, washed windows, polished everything, the new curtains (which I bought early in 2018) went up. Rubbish into the rubbish bags. It looks sparkling clean there. I then gave the kitchen a good clean too, although it is one room I like clean and tidy all the time

My ideas/plans for 2019:

  • Breadmaking! I want to bake bread and bread rolls and everything bread related and would love to do it at least once a week. I have never really been into breadmaking and used the breadmaker for dough for ‘vetkoek‘, a yummy SA dish I make about once a year. We love having it with mince meat, mustard and tomato sauce. But this year I want to bake bread in the oven. Mix it in the breadmaker, but bake in the oven. Of course, as it happens when you plan stuff like this, the breadmaker decided it’s not on and stopped working. I ordered a new one and it should be here tomorrow. Tomorrow morning I am going to get the ingredients for a basic white bread and bread rolls
  • Sew underwear. Since my breast cancer journey my breasts are quite uneven and I find it hard to find comfy bras. I tend to wear bralettes now, but they are not really very pretty. And I love pretty undies. No, I am definitely not going to attempt a fancy bra!!!!! But I have found several bralette patterns and tutorials which I am keen to try.
    I have also found several easy panty patterns, different styles and plan to try those as well. And when I decide which ones are the most comfy, after trying all these patterns I am going to make myself really pretty underwear sets. I started thinking about this last year already and bough stretchy lace and knit fabric for the big undie sewing year 🙂
  • I am going to sew for myself! I need new tops and  have several patterns I want to try out. My fabric is ready, just need the courage. When my children were small I made all their clothes, as well as my own. But life happened and I just didn’t get to it for many years. Not sure how well it will go, after so many years of not sewing for myself I have lost a bit of self-confidence
  • Sell online. Last year I tried one market, I didn’t enjoy the experience and do not even want to think about it again. But I have joined a FB group where members sell their goodies. It is open to the public, but they have quite strict rules to sell. Luckily my stuff past the test, my care labels are ready. I added my advert for Reading Pillows a couple of days ago and basically immediately received my first order. The pillow has been made, it has been paid for and will be posted tomorrow. Eventually I am going to add dolls clothes and other bits and pieces. But there is no rushIMG_3289.JPG
  • Hardanger. Yes, this is the year. Kathy, a fellow blogger is developing an online course/tutorial to follow as a SAL. My materials are ready. I am ready 🙂 Can’t wait!
  • I also hope to finish my SS2 quilt. Still 7 blocks to complete, then crochet the border rows. It won’t take long to complete, I think if I set aside a week and make a block or two everyday I can get it done quickly. I planned from the beginning to make a 7×7 quilt and I am happy with the size. Mollie is happy with it too
  • Finish the Honeybee quilt. The last block will be released this month, with instructions on how to complete the quilt in February. I should be able to have a completed quilt by the end of February. It is such a pretty design
  • Make cloth shopping bags. Here in our town there are no more plastic shopping bags at the supermarkets and we must take our own bags/boxes/container. I found a lovely pattern for shopping bags. It even has a lining which will make them stronger. The plan is to use cheap, but strong, calico
  • Make machine covers for my sewing machines. I do sew a lot, but there are times when, for example, my embroidery machine is not used. I am going to make pretty machine covers for the embroidery machine, the sewing machine, the serger and the cheap sewing machine


I have a long list of things I want to sew, some in the above list, but many just random ideas or patterns I want to try out. I want to embroder the shopping cloth bags, I want to embroider the machine covers before making the covers. I need a new bag for my Hardanger supplies as I gave the one I made for myself away. I am busy making touletry bags for my daughter and her partner, to be mailed to Canada. I also want o make my daughter a zipped infinity scarf, to be mailed with the toiletry bags. I want to smock and make a rainbow dress. Maybe a rag quilt………

Sewing room update

This is a very cold winter and we have found that heating this old house is turning out to be a very expensive experience. We mostly use a woodburner upstairs, which means it is lovely and warm there and still freezing cold downstairs. It is the same on the days we decide to use the heat pump instead of making a fire, but although the heat pump does the job upstairs it is very expensive to run

At first we considered installing a heat pump downstairs too, but when my husband retires we will be on a limited income and definitely would not be able to afford to run it upstairs and downstairs, it will simply be too expensive

So we decided to get a second woodburner downstairs in my sewing room. Of course I am very happy about this because the is my ‘hang out’ space with all my needlework stuff, a comfy chair, television, books and sewing machines and fabric. A very expensive one-off expense, but the payoff will be cheaper living costs in future winters.

The negative is that, because the sewing room is downstairs, immediately below the lounge, the flue had to be channeled through the lounge and we now have this big round black pipe running through the lounge area. On the positive side – when the woodburner is going downstairs the lounge will automatically be heated a little bit too. And because heat rises this could mean that we will only have to light both fires on extremely cold days. Or that is the theory 🙂

Does it look good with a flue running through the lounge, where there is already a woodburner? No, not necessarily, but we have to heat this place to have a comfortable and affordable life and the sacrifice had to be made. If this is where we will be in the future we had to do something about heating it and this was a good solution. I even think it could be a positive point when we eventually sell the place as it would suit a big family and they can use the sewing room as a children’s place. There are still plenty of other bedrooms left to fill with said children

I love my sewing room even more now as I can see myself all snug and warm, sitting in my chair with hand sewing, in front of the fire, watching perfectly good rubbish on the tv. With the cats enjoying the warmth with me (the sewing room turned out to be a ‘no man, no dog’ area)


We will be hanging blinds in the window next to the woodburner as curtains could be a fire hazard.

The woodburner wiil not be used this winter as I am leaving for my trip to see the children in 3 sleeps’ time. Still can’t believe this is happening as it was a very late-minute decision to take the trip now. Friday we will drive over to Christchurch we the airport is (about 3 hours over the Southern Alps), then fly to Sydney, then Hong Kong and at this stage it seems Japan! After a few weeks in Japan and then Hong Kong it could maybe be New York, before leaving for Canada to visit my daughter. According to her I will be there for at least a month

I am potentially planning a little detour when in New York – maybe fly to Tampa, Florida and surprise an old primary school friends who lives there. We haven’t seen each other for nearly 50 years and I think it could be time for a catch up. We’ll see if this plan comes together

I have packed some hand appliqué blocks to sew a my daughter’s. This is for a cat quilt I was tempted to make. Once a month a block is released of this mystery quilt (The Little Red Hen’s Wooly Mysteries)  and the layout will be released in December. Seven blocks have been released already but I joined quite late and haven’t made a single block yet. In preparation to my trip I prepared all seven blocks, packed thread and needles and hope to come back home with completed blocks. The face details will be embroidered and the plan is to use small buttons for the eyes (Can’t believe I am making ANOTHER quilt!!!!!!)


In the meantime I am up to date with the Splendid Sampler and the Sweetest Little Things QAL’s. I have made all the blocks released up to date. When I come back there will be two Sweetest Little Things blocks to make and quite a few for the Splendid Sampler.

Baby present

I find it difficult to make boy things and therefore it is always a challenge to put together a gift for a baby boy. Decided to make a nappy/diaper bag with lots of pockets and just add some diapers, knitted cardigan and booties (yes!!!!! I knitted those!) and a smocked romper.

Next time I will make the bag a bit bigger, but in general it is very practical. Hope the new mum loves it

Several years ago I bought a sewing magazine with a lovely smocked dress on the cover – I specifically bought the magazine because of the dress. At that stage I just couldn’t find the perfect fabric to use for this dress and the magazine was put away. And I totally forgot about it. A few weeks ago someone posted the cover photo in a smocking FB group and it reminded me that I always wanted to make the dress. Found the magazine and realised I now DO have the perfect fabric. And yes, it has been made and I am so glad I waited for the correct fabric. And so glad I bought this fabric last year because I wanted to use it for another dress, but it wasn’t right for that dress and I put it away. It all came together in the end 🙂



label bag

I feel like a grownup, although I have been one for longer than I can remember. The reason? My own little logo and labels!!!!!! Yes, I now have a label to sew on the smocked dresses – with my own logo, the care instructions and ‘made in New Zealand’. I also have a smaller label with only my logo, to use on bags and other needlework. Oh, and I nearly forgot – teeny weeny little size labels for the dresses. No, I am still not going to sell the dresses, but it will be nice to get my name out there – a little girl will be wearing a smocked SP dress!!!!!


This is not important to me, but it is nice to have it and I have been thinking about getting labels for a while. Shelley, at Labels by Shelley, designed the logo from a very basic idea I had. And I love what she has done. The good thing is that I can also use the logo as a watermark on my photography. See……. grownup stuff!!!