Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life

3 Comments Quick actions required by the end of the weekend

I was doing some rather directionless browsing this evening. You know the type; dreaming up outfits you’ll never have the time to sew. Luckily, I looked at the site during my on-line travels. Like quite a few UK people, I use the American site and have an account on there. There was a post announcing the launch of their brand-new site. Good news, I thought, the site could definitely do with a refresh, but there is a big snag, all the content on the customer accounts is going to disappear and the message urges you to

“Connect as soon as possible to your customer account on to download your content, especially:

– Your purchased downloadable patterns in your pattern library
– The photos of your community projects (if you uploaded some)
– Everything you currently see on the website that you would like to save

Warning: you only have until Sunday October 20th at 1pm EST to do this”

I am so glad I spotted this, as I have quite a few patterns in my library. Admittedly, those I’ve used, I’ve downloaded, but there were a few good free ones that I’m glad I now won’t lose.

Judging by the comments, there are missed feelings about the new sites; a similar migration has been carried out on the French, German and UK sites. I’m not sure how many of the older patterns they will keep on the site. We’ll have to see what when get when the site is launched.

View this post on Instagram

Dear customers,⠀ ⠀ As you may know, we the current operator behind (formerly F+W Media) are stopping our activity with the site. Nevertheless, the adventure continues and we are pleased to announce to you that “Burda Style Inc” the official producer of Burda Style magazine will now take over the website and social networks of your beloved sewing magazine and brand! Please read below for more information to save your projects and patterns as well as contact information for questions and concerns…⠀ ⠀ With the new editor comes a brand new website, but unfortunately the development of this new website will result in some data loss due to technical incompatibilities between the previous and upcoming website.⠀ ⠀ Therefore, we invite you to connect as soon as possible to your customer account on to download your content, especially:⠀ – Your purchased downloadable patterns in your pattern library⠀ – The photos of your community projects (if you uploaded some)⠀ – Everything you currently see on the website that you would like to save on the side⠀ ⠀ Warning: you only have 7 days from now to do it.⠀ We thank you in advance for your understanding concerning this situation.⠀ ⠀ THE GOOD NEWS FOR YOU!⠀ ⠀ Within 7 days, you will discover a brand new website! It will be updated regularly and will provide you with enriched content dedicated to our passion for sewing.⠀ ⠀ A NOTE FROM BURDA STYLE⠀ ⠀ “Our mission is to provide you with content that meets your every wish and to share with you the entire Burda Style world each month! We sincerely hope that you will like the new version of the website and we apologize for the inconvenience caused by this change of manager.”⠀ ⠀ ANY QUESTIONS?⠀ ⠀ Please feel free to contact Burda Style Inc. at the following email address:

A post shared by BurdaStyle (@burda_style) on


Technophobia – Uploading images to Instagram




  1. (Sociology) someone who fears the effects of technological development on society and the environment
  2. someone who is afraid of using technological devices, such as computers

I’m a technophobe, I’ve said it! I definitely have an aversion to new technology. I still have a video recorder, a tape deck and a Nokia brick.

I joined the Summer Of Basics challenge and when I started reading the rules and guidelines I realised I needed an Instagram account to properly take part. Instagram – really? Is Instadross not the social medium of choice for the selfie-obsessed teenager? Don’t tell me I need to learn something new? I so hate that!

I registered and much to my dismay I found that Instagram only uploads photos from phones. I don’t have a Smart Phone; I bemoaned technology and ranted about the idiocy of social media, forgetting that I’m a blogger and work in IT! But once I’d calmed down I started to think that there may be a way around this, a way that I could get my DSLR camera shots, which are properly edited, from my computer onto Instagram.

I hope these links will be useful for anyone else who likes to resist Smart Phones, instant publishing and generally anything new, like me:

  • Exporting images to your phone using DropBox

This solution isn’t much use for me since I don’t have a phone, but this can be used to get edited images off your desktop and onto your phone ready for uploading to Instagram.

Advantages: It’s free.

Disadvantages: Requires a phone. Can be a bit time-consuming and cumbersome.

  • Using User Agent Spoofing

This is the method that I’m most interested in using. Essentially you use a web browser and configure it to “look” like a mobile device, thereby fooling Instagram into thinking you are using a phone to upload your images.

Advantages: It’s free. Can be accomplished in most web browsers. No third-party software needed.

Disadvantages: Not every feature of the Instagram app is available through the Instagram mobile website.

  • Using Third Party Apps

There are many third part apps available. After reading around this subject it is probably worth bearing in mind that there are some problems with using third-party apps to access Instagram.

Firstly, Instagram very strongly encourages users to upload images from their mobile devices. Accounts can be flagged or even closed when uploading from other sources. (Spoil sports!)

Secondly, to interact with Instagram and post on your account, some of these apps and services require your login details. It is worth being cautious before handing over login details to third-party services.

Here is a summary of the ones I’ve found. There do seem to be other apps mentioned on line, but many seem to no longer be available. There are also a variety of apps that provide interaction with Instagram, but don’t seem to actually upload photos. This article provides a summary of those that can be used by Macs.


BlueStacks emulates Android apps on your desktop. This is tutorial for using BlueStacks.

Advantages: Can run the Instagram app and any other app of your choosing on your desktop.

Disadvantages: It costs. Seen reports that BlueStacks doesn’t work well on the Mac.


Uplet is written exclusively for Macs. There’s a good tutorial on how to use it here.

Advantages: Straightforward to use. For Macs only.

Disadvantages: It costs.


There are PC and Mac versions for Gramblr.

Advantages: It’s free! Can be used by PCs and Macs.

Disadvantages: Some reports of bugs (see here)


Deskgram is an app that has PC and Mac versions.

Advantages: Can be used by PCs and Macs.

Disadvantages: It costs to upload photos.


For more information on this topic, this article is a good starting point. There are screenshots and some information about many of the methods and apps I’ve mentioned above.

I managed to set up my Safari (Mac browser) “as an iPhone” and uploaded my first photo to Instagram. Here’s a screenshot the result. It doesn’t look amazing, but I relied on Instagram to resize the photo for me. To get a better shot I really need to resize my photo into a square with PhotoShop – I’ll try that later.

Instagram Screengrab

Am I delighted that I’m now using Instadross? Not really, I’m not ever going to be someone who snaps pictures and publishes them insta(gram)ntly on line. Has it changed my reluctance to try new technology? Absolutely not; I’m a deeply entrenched technophobe still! Time to turn the wireless on for some music……


Happy Blogiversary 2017!

Happy New Year to you all and Happy Blogiversary to me!


Wow, this blog is now three years old! What is it that people say about musicians – that the third album is tricky? Well, I guess that is what I have found with blogging and sewing this year. It’s definitely been a tricky third year for me. for a number of reasons. Firstly, my Mum went into hospital this year for a hip operation. She’s much better now and the operation was definitely a success, but it was a worrying time. She lives a fair drive away and I stayed at her house after the operation, but the stay was made difficult by a work crisis. Without exaggerating, there have been several work-related crises this year and they have required overtime to sort out. In short, it hasn’t been the easiest time and sewing has had to take a back seat.

Strangely, looking back at my blog, I’ve noticed that this lack of time isn’t necessarily reflected in my blog stats. Surprisingly I managed 46 posts (slightly up on the previous year) and made 12 garments (again slightly more than the year before). But it is with some trepidation that I look back at my 2016 goals as I expect I have managed little from them:

Make some warm clothes

Well, this one I think I have made some contribution to. I learned to knit this year – quite an achievement. I made a scarf and a have half-made a shrug. I have also been more mindful to make more long-sleeved tops and trousers, rather than skirts and short-sleeved items so that my home-made wardrobe covers the winter season better.

Onion Scarf

Use my own embroidery designs in my garments

This is probably the most creative ambition here and having a tiring, busy year, it wasn’t likely to happen. Let’s hope I get to indulge my creative side more next year.

Have a wardrobe clear-out

This was just too much hard work and didn’t get attempted. I think it could feel rewarding, but I kept on feeling that the task was too daunting and I needed solid time to make a dent in my generally disorganised bedroom. Yesterday, Mr Steely and I bought a new unit to store CDs and DVDs and we have done some organisation in the living room,  so perhaps there is hope?


Meet other sewers

I attended my first meet-up this year, so I feel much more part of the blogging community and it’s a good feeling. I really enjoyed Sew Brum and you’ll be sure to see me again in the coming year. Perhaps I’ll be able to manage another meet-up too.

Sew Brum


Increase my skills in dyeing

I have done a little more dyeing this year. I finally had enough onion skins and walnuts to dye with these. They were both very successful as dyes and even better didn’t stink when they were boiled, unlike dock leaves! I did completely fail to grow any plants that could be used as dyes in the backyard. Everything, pretty much got eaten by slugs!

I’d really like to try some more dyeing and perhaps this year I could buy some plant-based dyes as well, such as woad and madder.

Weighing onion skins

I know many bloggers like to plan what they do for the next year, but when I consider how difficult it has been just to sew a handful of items and blog about them this year, I shy away from any planning. (Sometimes the blogging really did feel like a chore, not because I didn’t want to blog or sew. It’s just doing anything creative when I feel tired, feels like a chore.) So, I’ve decided to keep it simple. I’m keeping last year’s goals and adding just one new one to the mix.

Reduce my Stash

I have little storage space at home and the stash is just too big in its current form. I know this is going to be a difficult task as there is probably more than a year’s worth of fabric in there. The other thing I have discovered about the stash is that if it stays for a few months in the stash, it will probably stay there for years. I often buy with a purpose, but if not used immediately, I change my mind about the item I’m going to make. Next, indecision creeps in and finally I don’t make anything with the fabric as I don’t know what to make! I think that for me a policy of “Buy Then Make Immediately” seems to work best.

Are you a planner or just create on impulse? What works best for you?


Sew Brum 2016

On Saturday I went up to Birmingham to attend the Sew Brum Meetup. This is the first time I have been to this event although it has been around for a couple of years. It is open to bloggers and non-bloggers alike and is organised by Charlotte from English Girl at Home.

It is the first time that I have met many of my fellow bloggers – I certainly had a feeling of “I know you, but we’ve never met”, it felt like a weird case of “déjà vu”. You are all a fantastic bunch and it was great to finally meet a few familiar (online at least) bloggers and chat to a few new faces too.

We started the day in the Birmningham Museum Tearooms. The museum is a fantastic, almost cathedral like building. I felt almost guilty that I wasn’t going to take a look around. Apologies for the next few photos. There were taken on my rubbish phone, as I’d forgotten my camera.

Birmingham Museum

Birmingham Museum

I recognised our sewing group immediately; it was all those familiar fabric prints that gave it away! I couldn’t quite believe how many people there were!

Tea Room Birmingham Museum

Tea Room Birmingham Museum

First stop was the Rag Market. I had already looked around the rag market a fair bit in July, so apart from more interesting trim / braid from one of the outside stalls, I thought I’d give this a miss and go to Barry’s.

Barry's fabric store

Barry’s fabric store

This time I had written down a wish list and had some exact measurements noted. I bought 1.5 m of a beautiful Wool / Merino ribbed knit. This is going to make a most fantastic winter jumper.

Our last stop in Birmingham was at Guthrie and Ghani’s in Moseley which is a short bus ride from the centre. First of all I had a bite to eat at The Dark Horse pub and then took a look at the fabrics in G&Gs.

The shop is beautiful with everything presented in temptingly attractive fashion. I succumbed to two bolt-ends. First, a viscose jersey with white cherries on a navy blue background. I haven’t made many t-shirts because I had many of these from my pre-sewing days, but it’s now time to replace some of the more grotty t-shirts with some new ones. There is only 0.6m in length, but it a wide fabric (152 cm) and navy and white are easy to team with another fabric if needed.

Brum fabrics

I also picked up some white cuff rib. I didn’t have a particular project in mind for this, but it will come in handy for a jacket perhaps, although I’ll consider dyeing it a darker colour first.

Upstairs in Guthrie and Ghani, there was also a pattern swap. I exchanged a dress pattern that I’ll not use (I’m not a dress person) for this interesting Burda tunic pattern. The pattern seems designed for fabrics such as boiled wool and I thought this pattern would be good for a warm winter tunic.


The event just gets bigger and better each year. I’m sure you’ll agree that Charlotte did a fantastic job organising the itinerary, attracting sponsors and securing all the fantastic donations for the raffle. Thank you Charlotte for running this tremendous event!

Leave a comment

Me-Made-May ’16 Pledge

me-made-may'16I did enter Me Made May 15 very much just in spirit last year. I had found that daily photos was a tricky task, but at the end of the month I felt I had some how missed out on the event. This year I’m going to make sure I document what I do. Plus looking back at my makes over the last year there are some favourites that I can add to the mix including my Peter and the Wolf trousers, the Hacking Jacket and my 3/4 sleeve t-shirt

I, Steely of, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’16.  I endeavour to wear at least one me-made item each day for the duration of May 2016, and (the more difficult part) take a photo every day and post round-ups on my blog.

Leave a comment

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly


TheGoodTheBadandTheUglyAt this time of year the airwaves, are buzzing with everyone’s reviews of their year’s sewing makes. There are lots of “top 5” posts out there. I don’t think that would really work for me; I’ve only made 10 clothing items this year so there isn’t much to choose from. I thought I’d do my own take on a 2015 review with “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”. So, I’m limiting my post to just talking about 3 makes and casting a critical eye on them. It takes, I think, a few wears to really be certain about whether a garment is a hit or a miss and looking back at older makes after a few months or more (2 years in the case of the dress) is, I think, a worthwhile undertaking.

The Good

Without a doubt, my helicopter jacket is in the good category. This year I have been consciously trying not to rush my makes and this jacket, which took me quite a few weeks to make, benefited from this enormously. I wanted desperately to get this jacket right as this was going to be a replacement for a much loved and worn jacket – I really didn’t want to have a jacket that wasn’t a worthy successor.

Jordan Jacket - Side View

Helicopter Jacket

I spent such a long time doing all the stop-stitching and matching all those helicopters across the panels, but all the extra care has definitely paid off and this jacket more than equals its RTW replacement.Finished 4

Original post – Helicopter Jacket

The Bad

My “bad” make is a dress that I haven’t blogged about at all. It was made back in 2013 before I started blogging.

If you are a follower of my blog you’ll know that I don’t tend to wear many dresses. I’m just not a big fan of them. I feel too dressed up in them and I’m too used to wearing jeans and t-shirts. I have been shifting my wardrobe so that I’m wearing more skirts now, but dresses are still a step too far for me.

Outfit 1 - Wrap dress

The question is why on earth did I decide to make a dress at all when I don’t wear dresses? When I first started sewing in earnest I was very uncertain of my abilities. I was very easily influenced by what other people on the “blogosphere” decided was “easy” and what was not. For this reason, I thought I would pick a garment that didn’t have any technically difficult fastenings, so no zips or buttons. Surely, that would constitute a good beginner’s project?

Over the past two years, my confidence has grown, of course, but more interestingly I have discovered where my skills are strong and where I need to improve.

Now, I wouldn’t be put off, or daunted in any way by a project that demanded the use of a new sewing technique. This year alone I have tried my hand at a huge array of new techniques, silk shading hand embroidery, piping, hemming knits, etc.

In contrast I have found that my fitting skills are often stretched. I have learnt in the time that I have been sewing that my body shape is far from a standard size and for virtually every pattern that I use I have to make changes. In fact, when I use a pattern from some companies, like Burda, the pattern I use seems to be radically different from the original, I often change every single pattern piece in at least one dimension.

Returning to my dress, I did make some fitting adjustments, but only with the circumference measurements. Basically, I made sure the bust, waist and hip measurements were correct, but these changes were not really enough. There are two further areas that I should have adjusted. Firstly, the body is too long, so this means that the waist tie either doesn’t sit quite on the waist or a bit of gape appears across the chest. I tried to compensate by taking a little off at the shoulder seams. But, there is no disputing that the fit is not quite right.

The end result is that I always wear this poor dress with a t-shirt underneath to “fill it out”. It’s strange no one has commented on the fit, but then I’m sure I’ve become far fussier in my assessment of fit over the last two years and perhaps I’m the only one who notices this fault.

What would I have done differently?

  1. Probably not make the dress at all! I only make clothes that fit into my usual style now. If it requires learning another sewing technique or tons of difficult top-stitching I don’t care!
  2. If I did make the dress, I’d probably spend more time establishing a better fit. Actually, given what I have learnt about my shape, I would probably draft, at least the top half, from scratch using bodice slopers, rather than try to go from the pattern.
Lucinda blouse toile

Should I finish this blouse?

Weirdly though, I still wear this dress to work. Perhaps I’m really stubborn, but for something that is in my “bad” category it does get worn – at least once a month. I’m not really sure what I’m going to do with this dress. Shall I keep it as it is, or shall I remodel it? I had made a toile for this shirt in the remains of the fabric. Perhaps I could cut up the dress and use it to complete this shirt?

The Ugly

I have worn this tunic very little over the last couple of years. It is actually very comfortable to wear and fits a treat. The tunic was sewn from a vintage pattern that I won in a giveaway. Sadly, I found that the pattern wasn’t complete and the very garment I really wanted to make was missing some important pieces. Thus, I was forced into my first pattern cutting foray. From the existing pieces I gleaned some information, but I did lots of measuring to get a fit I was happy with.


So what went wrong? I’m blaming the fabric! I wanted to find some crinkle cotton or seersucker, but just couldn’t find any at all. (Of course, I know so many more websites now, I’m sure I would find something). I bought some cheap crinkle cotton fabric in a local store. It was an off-white, so I dyed it a pale green, but unfortunately it didn’t dye evenly. It’s odd, I have dyed lots of clothes, but this the only time that I have had a something dye this badly and I’m not sure why.


Horrible streaky dyeing.


I managed to cut my fabric pieces around my dyeing disaster and then I came across the next problem. The fabric is a really loose weave. It tended to get mangled in the machine and I didn’t do any back-stitching to try to avoid this. The casing for the elastic and the shoulder ties were especially fiddly to create, because the fabric frayed so much.

Tunic - sleeve close-up

All this would have been fine, but I do think that basically this top just looks scruffy. It looks like it has been stuffed at the back of the drawer and then just thrown on. No amount of pressing seems to make a difference to its general shabbiness. I know it is supposed to be a crinkle cotton, but the hem just doesn’t sit right and nor does the facing. I’m putting the whole problem down to the cheap fabric, or am I missing something? Is there a better way to make those hems sit better or that facing stop curling to the front, even after it has been under-stitched.  I truly do think this tunic pattern has got potential. I’m imagining it could be a great throw on summer top. I’d like to make another, but will it be just as ugly?

Original post – Sage-coloured tunic

Sometimes I find myself succumbing to the temptation to just document the successes and gloss over things that didn’t work so well. I’m sure like most people, mistakes, while annoying, teach you just as much as the triumphs. So, it’s been good to evaluate in detail those three makes – I can learn from each of them and I welcome all your comments, perhaps I can learn some more from your wise words too.

1 Comment

On being the headless woman….

My Mum discovered my blog this week. It has been the first time a real-world person has visited my blog! Yes, after all this time! It did prompt an interesting discussion. My Mum seemed to think that I am “particularly modest” by posting my customary headless photos. Modesty, however, isn’t actually the reason why I’m headless. My primary concern is privacy and I thought I would write a post exploring this. What are your opinions about privacy in the blogging world?

Headless Woman

I think my cautious attitude about my online presence relates to a couple of work-related incidents where the real and virtual worlds collided. A former colleague, who was an avid Facebooker (is that a real term?) called in sick one morning. He then updated his Facebook wall with a humorous “I’m taking a sickie from work” post. This colleague was sacked at a later date. I suspect that the Facebook incident may have been a contributing factor, although there were other reasons too. The other occasion that springs to mind involved another colleague of mine. She used to recruit staff on a fairly regular basis as she was the head of a large team and she used Facebook as a tool to aid her selection of prospective new employees. She would view their Facebook entry and made snap judgements on the person, based on their looks, content of their Facebook page etc. She particularly liked it if their page was public and she could see all their drunken exploits. If the page was private, she could still search for the person and get their profile, a name and picture. I guess, unless you decide to keep the “blank head”, your profile picture is still out there.

Now, I don’t think there are many red-faced, inebriated shots of myself in existence, thank goodness, and I’m not such an idiot that I would write something publicly, that would jeopardise my employment. But I still feel that whatever I do outside work in my free time is my own business and nobody else’s concern. Likewise, I would like the skills and experience in my CV only to be used by a prospective employer and not to be to judged on my looks, as that isn’t relevant at all to my profession.

Then there are other people who you may not wish to see your online presence, what about an ex, you acrimoniously split from? Or anyone else that might use your personal information in a malicious way? There are many examples of “revenge porn”, where ex partners have shared intimate photos of a former partner online. In the case of Malin Sahlén, a model. Her photo was used, without her permission, by the Sunday Mirror as bait for a Conservative MP.  Jack Monroe, who writes about on budget cooking, has been documenting her ongoing problems with that most spiteful of publications, the Daily Mail. Everyone has a write to a private life and not have the press or the virtual world speculate about their relationships, sexuality, health etc.

Actually, I’m not writing this to alarm anyone, just in case, this is worrying anyone. These cases are, thankfully, few and far between. If you’re happy with your online life and the data / images you post, that is fine. The web is a fantastic resource to connect with people and share experiences, particularly ones that your immediate network of family or friends might not be able to relate to. I truly applaud the bloggers out there that share quite private aspects of their life, you are braver than me!

Sometimes I feel like posting a full-length photo of myself on line, I think my sewing creations would look so much better without my brutal cropping. It would also prove that I do, in fact, have a head; regular viewers may have been wondering about this…. But, after nearly two years, I’ve become comfortable with my headless blog. It’s anonymous and I can keep my virtual life at arm’s length from the real world. I write only with those who share my passions in mind, after all. I don’t really relish the casual observer from the real world commenting on what I happen to be wearing at work.

So how do you feel about privacy on the web? How does this fit with your blog? Do you make any privacy concessions? Does headless-ness put you off reading?