Sunday, 21 January 2018

Breaking a Year-Long Silence


I know it has been absolutely ages since I last blogged. Most of you have probably given up on me, so I would just like to apologise - to myself as well as you - for such a long period of silence. When I wrote my last blog post, I had no idea it would take me a year to write another one. The final few months of my undergraduate degree were very full-on and blogging fell by the wayside, but I'm happy to announce that I graduated in July with a 2:1! Since then, I've started back at uni to get my Masters in Medieval Studies, something which I'm really enjoying. However, adjusting to the workload that accompanies a degree of this type is something that I've struggled with. I've been left with little time for creative pursuits like sewing, and I've noticed that my mental health has really suffered as a result.

The last time I sewed anything was over summer, but even then I had little time at home. I stayed at my university house until graduation in late July (without my sewing machine), spent a lot of time in Liverpool with my boyfriend and his family, then returned to university to start my Masters in early September. I did have a lovely summer, but I was only left with about three weeks of sewing time during August, where I did make a few new things including some Cleo dresses, a Penny shirt and a Linden sweatshirt, but after putting so much effort into writing my dissertation, I just felt I didn't have many words left for blogging.

Just recently, in an attempt to satisfy the part of me that needs to be doing something creative, I've started knitting. I've only knit a handful of things before, as sewing is really more my thing, but in the absence of my sewing machine, knitting has become an important part of my free time, allowing me to feel like I'm actually achieving something. I've started to feel guilty whenever I'm not doing uni work, but knitting a few rows every evening helps to alleviate this. So far, I've finished a jumper (JB180) and started a cardigan using the same pattern.

Of course, my heart still belongs to sewing, and my head is buzzing with patterns and fabric choices and things I could make. I try to keep track of all my plans using the 'Saved' feature on Instagram - I know I won't have much time to sew until October when my Masters finishes, but until then, I can still dream of all the lovely things I could be making!

I won't promise you'll hear from me again soon, because I have no idea when I'll next get round to sewing something. However, this year I have vowed to try and manage my time better, to try and fit more fun things into my free time and spend less time worrying and feeling guilty whilst doing them. I work hard for my Masters - I deserve some time to spend knitting, reading, maybe even sewing once summer rolls round!

Until next time, you can always take a peek at what I'm up to on Instagram (@beththegulfmini), where I post far more regularly than on the blog!

Thank you for being so patient with me, and I will do my absolute best to not leave it a year this time! I hope you all have a wonderful 2018,

Beth xx

Saturday, 28 January 2017

So many plans, so little time

Hey everyone,

Today I thought I'd just check in and let you know that I am still around, I'm just going to be very quiet on the sewing front for a while. Whilst I have a few projects I completed over Christmas still waiting to be blogged, I won't be making anything new until Easter, having chosen to leave my sewing machine at home when I returned to uni.

I chose to do this for a number of reasons. Firstly, my house at uni doesn't really have a sensible space to cut out patterns and fabric, or a good place to set up my sewing machine. Secondly, this is a really important year of uni for me and I didn't want to get distracted from work by sewing. However, it is one thing to have these good intentions, another thing to follow through with them!

Whilst I may not be able to sew with no machine, my head is still buzzing with sewing plans, inspiration I've seen on blogs and lovely photos I've seen on Instagram. I have a picture in my head of how I want my perfect wardrobe to look, but achieving that goal is a slow progress and I sometimes get frustrated at the gaps I can see still exist.

Just recently I've also found myself wanting to try new crafts (particularly crochet) and I have a constant longing to read more. I think this is partly a consequence of the realisation that I'm going to have to work hard this semester, so my brain is looking for a creative outlet. I've made myself a timetable detailing how many hours of uni work I should be getting through every week, but I think I need to also consider ways I can continue to enjoy leisure time without just resorting to sitting in front of my laptop binge-watching episodes of The Big Bang Theory on Netflix for the millionth time.

Funds are low at the moment (typical student living) but when I can, I'm going to invest in some new books. I spend so much of my time at the moment reading academic works, I want to spend more time losing myself in fiction instead. If anyone has any book suggestions then do please leave them below! Same goes for Netflix (UK) suggestions - I'm going to be realistic and admit that a lot of my free time will still be spent watching TV shows.

I guess this post was just a way for me to let off a bit of steam about the worries I'm having about how much is resting on these next few months. I am really hoping I have the motivation to power through the amount of work I have to do and still enjoy my time here. I love uni, and I want to stay loving it.

So, thank you for staying with me through my ramblings, and hopefully I will be able to document a few sewing projects soon!

Have a lovely week everyone,

Beth x

Saturday, 31 December 2016

A Year in Sewing

Hey everyone!

With 2016 rapidly drawing to a close, I just wanted to take a moment and look back at my sewing output for this year. You might remember that in December last year, I set myself some sewing resolutions to complete throughout 2016 - you can find them here. Well, thanks to a combination of university and the appeal of other sewing projects, I haven't completed any of them! That's alright though, I'll get round to them at my own pace. For now, I'm just glad that I still enjoy stitching fabric into clothes I love to wear.

I've decided not to set myself any sewing resolutions at all for 2017. I'm in my third year of university, it's a busy time and I want to put my effort into studying. I will still try to make time for sewing whenever I can, I just want to be able to choose projects based on how I'm feeling at the time, not on what resolutions I made at the start of the year. Hopefully this will mean I continue to create a wardrobe which works for my everyday style, rather than one off pieces which don't fit in with the rest of my garments!

So, now for a look back on my sewing in 2016, what worked and what didn't. I've blogged 13 items of clothing this year, and completed 5 more whilst I've been back home for Christmas. This is definitely down on previous years - in 2015 I made 28 garments and 34 in 2014! However, I put the decrease down to an increased workload at university.

My top three favourite makes of this year are as follows:

Geneva Raglan Top

Megan Dress

Backless Emery Dress

All three are worn regularly and the dresses in particular fit into my signature navy floral style. However, not everything I've made this year have made it into my regular wardrobe rotation. Here are a couple of garments that haven't seen any wear this year and why:

Flora Dress
The By Hand Flora Dress is a gorgeous pattern and I really want to make it up in a different fabric - the (rather ugly!) fabric I used to make this dress was some cheap cotton I found in the bottom of a box at my university's craft club. Perfect for practising sewing a pattern I'd never used before, not perfect for day to day wear.

Renfrew Dress
Yes, navy is my colour, but without a pattern like flowers or polka dots, I will very rarely reach for a dress. This is a really comfy garment, but it's seen virtually no wear because it's just too plain for my usual style, and as a general rule I wear woven dresses far more often than knits. Lesson learnt!

Overall, I've grown really comfortable with my style. I know what I love to wear and sew, so even with the decreased sewing output I suspect coming up in 2017, hopefully I'll have a greater chance of sewing garments I wear on a regular basis. Navy floral fabric is more or less a must for me to reach for a dress in the morning, as is a heavily gathered skirt. I'm going to keep this is mind when planning future makes, and am looking forward to getting started on adding to my wardrobe in 2017!

To all of you out there, I wish you a wonderful, happy, healthy and creative year, and thank you as always for reading,

Beth x

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

2016: A Reflection

Hey everyone!

With the year coming to a close, I thought that today I'd take a look back on 2016 and reflect on both the good and the bad. For me personally, 2016 has been a wonderful year. I feel like I really hit my stride at university; I love living independently, studying what interests me and learning how to manage by myself in the wider world. I also took part in two national demonstrations (one against Trident and one against austerity), spent my first full year as a vegetarian (as opposed to the eight years I spent as a pescetarian - someone who eats fish but not meat) and celebrated me and my boyfriend's first year anniversary.

However, in many parts of the wider world, 2016 has not been a good year. Britain chose to leave the European Union, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, there have been dozens of terrorist attacks all over the world, mass shootings and a 41% increase in hate crime throughout Britain following the Brexit vote. It's at times like these when we should be standing together, supporting each other, not demonstrating divide and hate.

2016 has also become known as the year of celebrity deaths and this, too, is devastating. So much talent has been lost this year, so many inspirational people. But whilst you spare a thought for those whose passing is big enough to make the headlines, please remember all the people whose deaths have gone unnoticed by the media, but who are just as important and just as worthy of mourning and remembering.

I watched Pride earlier on this evening, which in part was what motivated me to sit down and get this blog post written. A funny, moving and completely inspirational account of how the LGBT community came together in a show of solidarity with striking miners, it has really reinvigorated my love of activism, socialism and the fight for peace. I don't identify as LGBT, but I do identify as a socialist and a feminist - and when you stop to think about it, they're all interlinked. The fight for peace and equality is something we should all be invested in, no matter who you are or where you come from. That is why in 2017, I want to get more involved than ever in trying to make our world a better place. In March, I'll be attending the 'It's our NHS: National Demonstration', and I really do hope that you will consider coming along too. I also want learn as much as I can about the feminist movement, so am aiming to join the feminist book club Our Shared Shelf, which was founded this year by Emma Watson.

I know I'm just one small person in a sea of voices and I know that at 21 years old, I'm still young and inexperienced. But I don't want my life to be harmful in any way - I want to reduce my impact on the planet, I want to care for animals rather than contributing to their deaths through the meat industry, and I want to help people who need it. I want to use my life to fight for equality and peace, and I want to help inspire others to do the same. If we all work towards the same goal, we stand a far greater chance of achieving it than if we work alone.

I will aim to be back at some point before the New Year to share my sewing achievements of 2016 and my plans for next year!

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you have all had a wonderful Christmas and have a lovely week,

Beth x

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Christmas Sewing List

Hey guys!

With the exception of my dissertation oral presentation tomorrow (I am absolutely terrified, keeping my fingers crossed it goes ok!), I have finished my work for the semester and am free to start planning all the lovely things I'm going to sew over the Christmas break.

With that in mind, I thought I'd put together a list so you can see what I'm hoping to make. I've not sewn since August so I'm planning on getting a lot done over the three weeks I have off, so if you have any more suggestions please do comment them below!

Cleo pinafore & dungaree dress - sewing pattern by Tilly and the Buttons

First up is the Cleo pinafore dress from Tilly and the Buttons. I am absolutely in love with this pattern and have got some absolutely gorgeous aubergine needlecord ready and waiting (I got the fabric as part of the kits Tilly has made to accompany this pattern, they're awesome and make the process so much easier).

I can definitely see a dress like this becoming a wardrobe staple for me, I've always been a huge fan of both dungarees and dresses, so to combine the two seems like a genius idea!

Evelyn Wrap Front Romper Teddy Sewing Pattern Ballet Style Lingerie PDF Instant Download Tutorial

Next up is the Evelyn Romper from Ohhh Lulu. I've had my eye on this pattern for ages, so I've finally taken the plunge and ordered some black satin from Abakhan to have a go. It's different to the kind of garments I usually sew, but I'm looking forward to trying something new. Plus my pyjamas usually consist of old t-shirts that I've had since I was 10 and some bottoms that don't match, so it'll be nice to have something a bit posher!


I was inspired to sew the Ogden Cami from True Bias Patterns when I saw Erin's gorgeous versions. I've ordered some teal crepe from Minerva Fabrics to make my own. Although my heart lies with dresses, I've been trying to get into the habit of wearing jeans a bit more often in the cold winter weather, so adding a few more tops into my wardrobe to wear with them is definitely a necessity.


Finally, the Astoria Sweatshirt from Seamwork Magazine. I've already got three of these in my wardrobe (navy, cream, then a colour blocked one with a cream body and navy sleeves). However, I've been wanting a burgundy one for ages! So I picked up some burgundy sweatshirt fabric from Ebay and am looking forward to adding another Astoria to my wardrobe.

I'm also planning on doing some selfless sewing and making a sweatshirt for my boyfriend with some grey sweatshirting fabric I have (I've never been much into grey, but he swears it goes with everything).

So, that's my sewing list for the Christmas holidays so far! I'm 99.9% certain it will grow, especially as I'll be able to visit my home town's fabric shop for the first time in almost four months!

Do you have any sewing plans for the holidays? I'd love to hear about them!

I hope you've all had a fabulous weekend and, as always, thank you for reading,

Beth x

Thursday, 17 November 2016


Hey everyone!

It's been a while, I know, and still no sewing going on around these parts. I miss my machine so much! It's sitting neglected and a little dusty in the corner of my room. Third year of university is leaving pretty much no time to indulge in sewing, so I'm finding myself semi-stalking Instagram, Pinterest and sewing blogs for some much needed inspiration. I have a long list of garments to make over the Christmas break, I can't wait to get started!

In the meantime, I thought I'd share my final make from over summer with you. I was running out of suitable stash fabric by this point, so the fabric I used is reasonably awful, but it worked well as a means of testing a new style...the faux wrap of the By Hand London Flora!

In a nicer fabric (this is some really cheap cotton stuff I was given from the Craft Club at my university; I really dislike the print, far too much pale pink for my taste), I think this could easily become a pattern I use over and over again. I made up a size 6, which is usual for me. When finished, there was a little gaping at the neckline, but I remedied this by adding a line of stitching down where the wrap pieces cross over, a quick and easy solution. 

Like normal, I swapped out the drafted skirt pieces for a simple gathered rectangle, my favourite style and the one I've used with almost all of my handmade dresses. 

Overall, I really like this dress. The bodice neckline is a little different to what I'm used to, but I have so many dresses similar to each other that it's good to try something a little out of the ordinary (note the navy floral fabric though...that's not going anywhere any time soon ;) )

As usual, thank you for reading, and for bearing with me through all the long silences. I'll try and write again in the next few days with a sewing plan for all the garments I want to make over Christmas!
Have a wonderful week everyone,

Beth x

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Navy Sewaholic Renfrew Dress

Hey guys!

No sewing has been going on around these parts as of late, as I foolishly decided not to bring my sewing machine to uni this year (never fear; this should hopefully be rectified next weekend!). However, I do have another make completed over summer to share with you.

This is another Sewaholic Renfrew hack - like with my other versions, I just cropped the bodice pieces and added a gathered skirt to make a dress. This is so comfy to wear, especially in the snuggly navy jersey I picked up at the flagship John Lewis store on Oxford Street in London.

As per usual I sewed up the smallest size (0) and didn't have to make any fitting alterations. I'm really pleased with the finished result, it'll be great to wear once the colder winter weather arrives. I adore winter clothing and am thrilled the cooler autumn weather has at last meant I can switch back to wearing tights and cardigans.

Here's a closer look at the bodice. I've never really managed to get on board with the 'secret pyjamas' trend which seems to have been sweeping the blogosphere as of late, but this dress does fit the requirements!

That's about it from me today. Hopefully I'll be back soon to share another finished make once I have my sewing machine back!

I hope you all have a lovely week, and thank you so much for reading,

Beth x