Leo the Lion joins the gang.

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Say hello to Leo the Lion.  A new animal to join our gang at TOTZ HQ. 


I made this Lion which will live here at TOTZ HQ with us from 6 of my son’s old Tshirts.  I only needed one half of the Tshirt so really I suppose it was only 3 Tshirts fully used.  They were age 4 or 5 Tshirts.  Lion took more time to make than a bear and there were couple seams unpicked but the effort was totally worth it. 


There are almost double the amount of pieces than bear and they are smaller and fiddlier so I am going to put him on my page at slightly higher price. The pattern is from funky friends website which you can use to make and sell so no problems on copyright.  


He’s been a roaring success though and already been snuggled in bed with my son.  Roarrrrrr the lion sleeps at my house.

Free Knitted Poppy Pattern

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I found this and thought I would type it up and offer it as a free download to print off.

PoppyI can’t knit which is a shame when I see things like this as it’s really lovely. I believe we should honor and respect those that have fallen during war time or fighting for peace and so I believe this is important. I believe in Peace. I believe in world Peace and I long for the day when war is a forgotten memory in man’s tragic past. Sadly it seems the human race is not at that point yet and we live in a world where war not only exists but where it tragically takes so many lives. I will be wearing my poppy proudly.

Download knitted poppy pattern

Download knitted poppy pattern

Here is the download Knitted Poppy

Modern Day Lost Paddington Bear

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I found this story about this lost Teddy Bear and just had to share it.

It’s like a modern-day Paddington Bear: Airport staff discover 100-year-old bear separated from its owner in departure lounge

article-2335228-1A1F249B000005DC-250_634x423Bristol Airport staff are searching for the owner of a 100-year-old Teddy bear found abandoned in a departure lounge. The antique bear, which has one eye and a floppy ear, was found in a bag with a frayed black and white photo dated March 1918 of him in better days being cuddled by two little girls. Unlike famous Paddington, the bear has no tag which says ‘Please look after this bear’, but a message in faded ink on the back of the photo which reads: ‘With dearest love and kisses to our darling Daddie from your loving little daughters Dora and Glyn.’

Staff at Bristol Airport have spent 14 months trawling flight records to see if they could find any two passengers with the same names. They are now appealing to the public to help return the Teddy, named Bristol by staff, to his rightful owner. ‘He’s well-loved, that is for sure’, said Jacqui Mills, spokeswoman for Bristol Airport.  ‘He looks a bit battered but I think that’s because he has been given so many cuddles over the years.

article-2335228-1A200437000005DC-938_634x450‘He was with lost property and we were certain that someone would claim him, but when they didn’t he was passed over to the airport police who took very good care of him and tried every means possible to find his family. ‘The postcard photograph has a second message which reads: ‘Taken on baby’s birthday March 4th 1918, one year and five-months-old.’

Ms Mills said: ‘Photographs were such a rare thing in those days and would not have been taken very often.article-2335228-1A1F24D7000005DC-641_634x912‘A photograph celebrating a birthday may have been taken a few months after the date. ‘Bristol Bear is now living on the corner of Jacqui’s desk. She said: ‘We’ve no idea how he came to be in the airport, or what the story is behind him. ‘It would be so lovely to perhaps find Dora and Glyn or their family and reunite them with this gorgeous bear.

‘He has a missing eye, a very floppy ear and I think he has had an operation to his tummy at some point, but I’m certain he has a few more cuddles in him yet.’

article-2335228-1A1F24A3000005DC-864_634x423Jasper Pearson, son of Sue Pearson who is one of the world’s experts on vintage Teddy bears, said this is an early German bear which would have been made between 1907 and 1910. ‘I cannot say it’s a Steiff without looking at it in person but in its current condition even with the lovely photo is is worth about £350. If we could confirm it was a Steiff it would be worth considerably more.’

article-2335228-1A1F24DB000005DC-317_634x784If the make was a Steiff, Mr Pearson said it could be worth more than £1,000. ‘Collectors always love bears with provenance, and a nice photo of a young owner with their bear is always much sought after,’ he said.  ‘Steiff were certainly the most famous maker of bears before the First World War but certainly not the only one.

‘Many of these early factories left few records to help identify the bears they made. We are only able to identify which country they were made in by the design and quality of mohair used to make them’.


The original article was in quite a few newspapers but this one was in the Daily mail


Teddy Bear Facts and Information

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Do you know why Teddy Bears are called Teddy Bears ? Do you know when they were invented and who first manufactured Teddy Bears ?

Here is some interesting information about Teddy Bears.

11372364-standardDo you know who this is ?? This is Richard Steiff the grandfather of all Steiff Teddy Bears. His mother was a seamstress who had turned her hand to making soft toys. He apparently made a Teddy Bear called Steiff bear 55bp which was to travel to America in 1902 but was believed lost as sea as they never arrived. People have searched for the 55bp bear but no single bear has ever been found only sketches of the bears. Steiff obviously made more bears and today the Steiff Bear button in the ear is synonymous with quality and variety.



The modern Teddy Bear is called a Teddy Bear after an American President. President Theodore Roosevelt, who was commonly known as “Teddy” refused to shoot a bear on a hunt that had been tied up. There were several other hunters competing on a hunting trip in Mississippi in 1902, and most of them had already killed an animal. A suite of Roosevelt’s attendants cornered, clubbed, and tied an American Black Bear to a willow tree after a long exhausting chase with hounds. They called Roosevelt to the site and suggested that he should shoot it. He refused to shoot the bear himself, deeming this unsportsmanlike, but instructed that the bear be killed to put it out of its misery. This incident became the topic of a political cartoon.

ideal-toy-corp-teddy-bear-1910An American Toy maker Morris Michtom saw the Teddy Roosevelt cartoon and was inspired to create a new toy. He created a little stuffed bear cub and put it in his shop window with a sign that read “Teddy’s bear,” after sending a bear to Roosevelt and receiving permission to use his name. The bear created by his company has a familiar classic shape head that I model my Memory Bears on.

By 1906 manufacturers other than Michtom and Steiff had joined in and the craze for “Roosevelt Bears” was such that ladies carried them everywhere, children were photographed with them, and Roosevelt used one as a mascot in his bid for re-election.

North American educator Seymour Eaton wrote the children’s book series The Roosevelt Bears, while composer John Walter Bratton wrote an instrumental “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic”, a “characteristic two-step”, in 1907, which later had words written to it by lyricist Jimmy Kennedy in 1932. We all know the song !

Early teddy bears were made to look like real bears, with extended snouts and beady eyes. Modern teddy bears tend to have larger eyes and foreheads and smaller noses, babylike features that enhance the toy’s cuteness. Teddy bears are also manufactured to represent different species of bear, such as polar bears and grizzly bears, as well as pandas.

While early teddy bears were covered in tawny mohair fur, modern teddy bears are manufactured in a wide variety of commercially available fabrics, most commonly synthetic fur, but also velour, denim, cotton, satin, canvas & as we know old clothes from babies or grown ups. TOTZ Memory Bears

Teddy Bears are loved by kids of all ages 🙂







Fabric Suppliers List

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Everyone keeps asking me where I get my fabrics. So I thought I would compile a list of some of my favourite stores from the internet and actual shops to share.

Fabric stores to visit

  • Dunelm – you probably have one of these somewhere nearby. They sell threads, fabrics and ribbons etc. Lot’s of the fabrics are upholstery fabrics for curtains and sofa’s but my local one also does a small range of dressmaking fabrics too usually priced around £7 per m.
  • Abakhans – scattered all over the country I visit the one in Liverpool when I am up there. You can’t beat actually being able to browse for fabric, touch feel and see it so sometimes actually visiting a fabric store is worth the small trip you might have to make.
  • Local stores – I have two local shops near me that sell gorgeous fabrics. One of them is a craft fabric store which means the fabric is slightly heavier than normal weight dressmaking fabric but I have found some gorgeous prints and one of my favourite summer dress makes was from craft fabric. I call this the Alice dress and I actually love this pink starburst fabric.IMG_20140715_045130


Online website stores

    • https://www.fabric.com/ – This is an american site so in the UK be aware that if you order over £100 you will pay extra tax. You will however find lot’s of great prints that you don’t see over in British stores. Some of the American Designer fabrics like Michael Miller are cheaper here but obviously the postage is more.PhotoGrid_1403959426483


  • http://www.calicolaine.co.uk/ – Great online store for all sorts of fabrics. I have brought some lovely Rose & Hubble prints from here also my Strawberry fabric.
  • http://www.brightonsewingcentre.co.uk/ – Nice website stocks all the main streak designers Riley Blake, M Miller , R Kaufman & some other great brands too
  • http://www.printstopolkadots.co.uk/gb/ –  Riley Blake, M Miller , R Kaufman, Dashwood Studio among others
  • http://www.emmasfabricstudio.co.uk/ – There are some great bundles of fabrics on this store perfect for project work. Lot’s of plain cottons and flannel fabrics too & all the main designers plus loads more Riley Blake, M Miller , R Kaufman etc. I love the Andover fabrics and you will find them here.
  • http://www.plushaddict.co.uk/ – Great site for whole range of fabrics
  • http://thelittlefabricshop.co.uk/ – Fabric, buttons, ribbons and more.
  • http://www.ebay.co.uk/ – A little obvious maybe and not always the cheapest but certainly not a bad place to look for bargains, roll ends or remnants and also to pick up supplies like elastic and trim. If you don’t mind it coming from abroad it’s cheaper too and more than likely some of the supplies are manufactured in the country they are being posted from anyway so not necessarily inferior quality.
  • http://www.minervacrafts.com/ – This site has a fabulous range of fabrics and notions plus patterns too.

I am giving the following page a special mention as it is the only one I know of that stocks really unusual bespoke prints and will also help you create and have printed your own designs.

  • http://www.spoonflower.com/welcome –  If you fancy designing your own fabric or having some really unusual fabric designs printed bespoke for you this is the place. I bought some amazing Dr Who fabric here that I have never seen anywhere else. You choose your fabric type and the design and they print the amount you order specifically for you.

list updated April 2016

Facebook Page sellers

Some of these pages also have website stores. They might advertise offers or discounts on the facebook page then link to the store to buy. I think it’s easy to forget that facebook has lot’s of small businesses selling through facebook or offering services. Here are some of my favourites. The great thing about these pages is it’s easy to ask the seller questions or their audience too so you get lot’s of help and advice. You also sometimes get to see the things people are making which showcases fabrics that you might not have seen or thought would look great.

There are so many places to find and buy fabric and all the notions like ribbons, zippers, threads etc. I couldn’t list them all so these are just a few that I know of and have used. If you know of a great store that I should add please let me know.

We love fabric in my house and as far as my littlest is concerned the pinker the better but I love them all. Flowers, fairies, space ships, pink, blue, red……….. I think I should follow this post with something about the different designers. Watch this space.IMG_20140708_053547

Medieval costume dress inspired by Arwen gown from Lord of the Rings

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10620743_1537194393179811_8618754685626454262_nWe were invited to help out at our local Parish fete and given the opportunity to display some of my bears and dresses which was great.  It also turns out there was to be a fancy dress theme.  So I figure great a chance to dress up and have fun plus create costumes.  My daughter was easy.  She would wear Princess Sofia.  I just had to plan something for me.

After much deliberation and with input from my son I decided to try creating a medieval style dress.  My inspiration was the beautiful Arwen from The Lord of the Rings.  After posting a collage of some of her gowns on facebook the one everyone loved was this black and red gown.

First thing was to find a pattern that I could work with.
I found a Simplicity costume pattern and ebay provided the materials.
I ended up ordering 4m of red craft velvet and 12m of black velvet.The pattern looks like I don’t have to alter it at all. Simplicity 4940.

It took ages to cut out and thankfully I remembered to cut all the dress pieces on the same grain. I remembered from watching the Great British Sewing Bee that velvet brushes differently up and down so you need to make sure all your pieces go from top to bottom in the same direction so it doesn’t look odd. There was so much black velvet I had to lay it all out on the floor to cut it out. I also did the same with the red velvet for the sleeves. I ordered this lovely satin gold brocade for the sleeves and neck plus some gold lace for the trim.  I know it won’t be identical but it will be close enough to hopefully look good. Since I only plan to make this costume once I cut the original pattern which I don’t usually do but it did save me time.


The sewing of the dress was actually quite easy in terms of which pieces went where but I discovered that black fabric is quite difficult to sew as you can’t see easily where the stitches are and velvet is really odd. It pulls against itself so seems to slip about. You have to watch carefully to make sure your seams don’t fall out of line. I loved working with the gold lace and the brocade though and I love the big long sleeves. In the end though after hours of sewing I was really pleased with the result and couldn’t help wonder what this dress would be like in a gorgeous modern fabric as an evening dress or even a wedding dress instead of as a costume. The costume fitted great though and it was fun to wear.  I loved the detail around the neckline. I can’t wait to have a go at my next costume project. Plenty of sewing between now and Christmas but am planning on taking a bit of time for personal projects in the new year. Meanwhile am looking for excuses to wear this one again.

I wonder if it’s too much for a Tesco shop?


Pink !!!! Pink dresses

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First let me be very clear here.  I don’t like pink on me.  I own no pink clothes or accessories. It doesn’t suit my skin tone. A colour me beautiful (remember them?) consultation way back in 1991 (oh gosh that long ago! ) confirmed me to be a blue tone. I suit blue’s.

PhotoGrid_1406474058364If I wear green it has to be a blue tone green same with pink and red. I’m not adverse to it as a colour but it’s not a favourite. I will confess however to bright hot sexy pink towels in my bathroom and not sure why but a bright pink colander in my kitchen. He he. It’s a pretty colour in nature. In flowers and sunsets and animals but it looks better with other colours. Ok so not a massive pink fan.

So then I go and have a pink flavoured baby.

A baby girl. I have a boy and loved all the cute little boy clothes and oh the thought of pink glitter dresses just seemed all wrong. I swore that I would not be seen dressing her in pink. She would wear blue and purple and girly things in colours I loved. There was a cute summer sailor outfit in pink and blue but I was adamant these pink outfits would be a rare thing. All perfectly fine until age 2 she totally confounds me with an unexpected love of pink! She is a total doll. Very very girly. Loves shoes to the point of obsession and hair accessories and. … pink! So here I am admitting I’ve had to give just a little and embrace a tiny bit of pink.

IIMG_20140712_034711 have found myself searching for and yes buying pink fabric and yes making pink dresses.

They have to be just about acceptable to me so I did lots of searching and found ones I like. she loves them all.

IIMG_20140708_053547n fact when deliveries arrive there is a massive amount of excitement and some hugging of fabrics lol.

I chose a pretty Burda summer dress pattern and also made up a simple short top style dress with a zipper. Burda are one of the only big commercial makers of patterns that say it’s ok to use their patterns to make and sell clothes not just for personal use.

I PhotoGrid_1405202718976made the summer strap dress twice. Once in blue with pink flowers and again in a pale pink. The pale pink dress is my daughters absolute favourite and I love this pattern. I plan to make some of these to sell.

I used a lovely pink fabric with a gold starburst with my pattern and I love this dress so much. Oh yes I admit it despite it being pink I love it and I love it on her. I bought this fabric from a quilt and craft fabric shop in Malvern called Stitch 45. It’s slightly weightier than normal dress fabric but still thin enough to wear and has a lovely brushed soft cotton feel to it.

TPhotoGrid_1405959647961he final pink dress and my absolute favourite is the same pattern using a Michael Miller wee wanderer fabric. This one is called whisper woods in pink. It is so pretty.
Am I converted to pink? No! It’s still not my favourite but I must confess I like the fabrics I chose and love the dresses. I do hope she outgrows her love of pink but in the meantime I will cope and maybe even love just a little. As parents we make concessions for our kids and sometimes we learn from them too !

The most amazing movie dresses.

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I am completely incapable these days of watching a movie or tv show and not being captured by fabulous costumes and gowns. It is time for me to start looking at fabrics for my Queen of Hearts costume. I am using a period costume pattern and will hunt for fabrics in the right colours. Meanwhile I thought it might be fun to search for the most amazing costume dresses I could find to give me inspiration and oh just because they are beautiful.

Prince Caspian
Queen Susan gowns in this movie are amazing. No idea what sort of period the inspiration comes from but they are fabulous and I am realising that great movies can be made even better with great costume
Lord of the Rings
Arwen gowns are just beautiful. I’ve seen plenty of cosplay versions and some are good some not so good. The original movie gowns are breathtaking and of course Liv Tyler is stunningly beautiful as the elven princess Arwen. I have a small crush on Aragorn too lol.

Elizabeth The Golden Age
This movie has so many amazing gowns. The costume makers must have worked so hard. I can imagine the yards and yards of fabric and hours of work. The dresses are spectacular.

Gone with the Wind
Scarlet O’hara had some iconic dresses. Amongst them is the white ruffle dress that seems to inspire so many of today’s wedding gowns also I love this green and white one.

This is a recreation of a personal favourite of the Gone with the wind dresses and I am in awe of the talent required to make this dress. I also wish I had the waist not to mention cleavage to get into this.

Cinderella , Ever After
I just love the dress that Cinderella played by Drew Barrymore wears to the ball at the end. It is one of my all time favourite costumes. I love the wings.

Mirror Mirror another movie with amazing dresses.
This movie must have had a team of seamstresses and tailor’s working for hours. So many awesome dresses. My absolute favourite is the Wicked Stepmother played by Julia Roberts wedding dress.

I also love this huge red dress she wears for the ball.

Oh and yes a tad envious of Julia Roberts figure too.
The dress we first see Snow White in is also stunningly beautiful. It has a peach bodice set against a yellow embroidered skirt.
Later we see Snow White in the blue and yellow dress that’s inspired by her famous Disney outfit.

Snow White and the huntsman
Again an army of seamstresses must have been employed and what amazing costumes they created. Charlize Theron is amazing as the Wicked Stepmother and looks stunning in some of her movie gowns.
Pirates of the Carribean

Sewing Basic Equipment list

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I’ve been asked by some people what things you should have in your sewing kit.  So after some thought I figured it merited a short blog post.  Here it is.  My list of basic sewing equipment.


Basic Sewing Equipment

1. Needles.  I have a small pack of various needles actually bought in a supermarket.  So these don’t have to be super expensive.  I like the ones with big ish eye openings as they are easier to thread and sometimes I use embroidery thread and this won’t fit through a small eye.
2. Pins.  I have two packs.  One is fine dressmaking pins that are 0.6mm thickness the other are these pretty glass headed pins that are 0.65mm. I think they are pretty and great for most fabrics.


3. Scissors.
I use 3 scissors. A small pair of needlepoint scissors that are pointy and sharp. An ordinary size pair mostly for normal use. A large pair of dressmakers scissors. Flat bottomed perfect for cutting fabric. Most bought on ebay for an average cost so again not expensive ones.

4. Threads.
I tend to use Gutterman or similar quality threads as I am putting them in a machine. Why? Because cheap threads tend to shed fluff more which clogs up inside your seeing machine. I have a huge collection of colours as I am fussy about matching threads to the material I am using.

5. Measuring tools.
Tape measures and rulers. I don’t have expensive quilters rulers and measure rulers I used 2 clear flexible rulers that I had in school. I also have a variety of tape measures but my favourites are these wind up tapes with a button that snaps them back into their case. Saves time winding.

6. Marking pens
You occasionally have to make marks on fabric. I have a tailor’s chalk wheel which is fab and works well on fine fabrics and dark colours but I use washable felt tips most of the time. I buy super washable and they are just perfect.

7. Seam Ripper.
Remember not to hack away with one of these as they are pointy and sharp and you can end up with holes in your fabric or items in places you didn’t want far too easily.

8. Hem / Seam gauge.
This might not be absolutely essential but I find it so useful as a small measuring tool. It also has a pointy end great for pushing corners out in sewing Eg collar or cushion corners. It’s designed to help measure hems and seams. For me it’s part of my essential kit.

If you are using a machine you will also have feet and bobbins and other bits but I think they need their own entry. So watch out for my sewing tips post 2.

Pirate cosplay costume

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My son’s school summer gala is Pirate themed.  They have the Pirate of the Carribean theme as the main song so when it came to planning a costume I knew this one would be fun. 

We searched the pattern websites and found a Burda pattern for a boys pirate costume.
My son said straight away that he wanted the jacket. So I ordered gold braid and a deep red velvet fabric from eBay sellers and awaited delivery.
And waited. And waited. Hmmm sometimes the problem with eBay is things don’t arrive on time or when expected or at all. The gold braid arrived but no fabric. Clock ticking I opened a dispute with seller of fabric and had to make an emergency fabric purchase.
So here we are. Deep red with black pattern swirls and gold braid at the ready.
The pattern pieces are quite straightforward so that part was easy. I also found I had thread a perfect colour. So the next step is to start sewing.
Came across a problem with the gold braid. As soon as you start to cut it the whole thing frayed and unravelled. I had a great idea to use glue but this made the braid stiff and hard to sew. In the end my mum came to my rescue with the idea of sewing across it before I cut. Phewwww I was about to give up on the braid!
image I also changed the pattern slightly and decided in some places to have the braid go from seam to seam rather than in short lengths. This means the ends are enclosed in the seam and less bulky plus less likely to fray.
I did this on the pockets and then on the cuffs I alternated which in the end I think will look fab.

Once I had started to assemble I could begin to imagine what it will look like and am loving the red fabric. I sewed the braid onto the fabric with a single line of stitching down the middle of the braid using black thread.

I must confess I sort of ad libbed when it came to placement. The only thing I did find was it’s thinner and less weighty than the velvet would have been so it needs interfacing to stiffen it a bit. The cuffs and inside facings had iron on interfacing anyway but I also decided to sew in medium weight interfacing on the jacket front.
This should mean the jacket will feel more like a jacket than a shirt. I left it un interfaced on the back as then it won’t be too hot and I decided the stiffness wasn’t so important on the back.
I finished up with all the pieces ready to assemble with the braid all sewn on. At this point I had to take a break ( go to bed) getting to this point has taken better part of the day. Probably about 5 hours.
part two assembly

The first stage of assembly was sewing the pocket flaps on. Because of the braid I decided to top stitch the pocket flap down too so that it lay flat on the jacket front.
I am chuffed with the sleeve cuffs. I will confess I also deviated from the pattern here too. I top stitched the top cuff seam again to hold the braid more securely and also to create a professional finish. Then I stitched the bottom of the cuff inside out so there was no hand at Itchington and no seam inside.
In fact I decided to top stitch all around the front seam to finish the seam and make it lie flat. I also decided that to hide where the braid had been folded and stitched in short lengths maybe buttons would work. Out came my nana’s old button tin.
I think all nana’s probably have a box or tin of old buttons. I found some fab metallic buttons that will add a lovely finishing touch.
I sewed a few on and they do indeed look great.
The jacket was then finished according to pattern instructions and I am chuffed with the end result. At the last minute I decided to cut up an old white shirt and create sleeve ruffles to go underneath. The whole thing is great. About 12 hours of cutting and sewing in total.