Budding Creativity

Buds are emerging. Snowdrops and crocuses poke their heads above the ice-packed ground, determined to flower against their iron prison. April 2021 (lockdown freedom?) appears on the horizon of a calendar that has come to mean almost nothing. Confused thoughts spiral around my head as Instagram reminds me that it’s been almost a year since we entered this strange, new version of the world.

And yet… Life begins, again. I see it in my friends. The pregnancies, the life-changing moves from one country to another.

I’ve been in lockdown. We all have. Not just physically, but mentally.

But here I am to say hello and ponder what creativity in lockdown has meant – for me and also … you? I really would love to hear.

My sewing machine remains a long-neglected friend. She (he?) sits in the corner of my living room. Never discarded, but definitely neglected. I’ve struggled to make clothes over the past year.

Partly, this is because … lockdown. Why bother? I don’t go anywhere, rarely see people. Zoom could be pyjama bottoms and a nice top. Bras have become a nicely academic subject and regular showers a moot point. I have still religiously applied make-up, like a hospital inmate, determined to see the best of the world through a sliver of mirror.

But I’ve found too many mental obstacles to sewing clothes. Having always claimed that sewing was the perfect mindfulness, I found it not mindful enough. It’s a bit like standing in front of a block of marble, knowing that every slam of a hammer on chisel will change the sculpture for ever.

A bust dart isn’t just a dart. It’s the apex. Of life, no. But it sometimes felt like that. Too. Much.

A side seam needed to be judged just right. Too much right. Too much risk of wrong.

There was the constant trying on, undressing and then dressing again. When I could barely find the energy to dress in the morning.

It was all too much. For this tired, little brain at least.

I’ve turned to other creative pursuits. Embroidery. The most basic of knitting. Writing in the early hours. Anything that could allow me quiet thinking whilst the rest of the world slept. Solitude. Our saviour and our enemy during these difficult times.

Yet, here we find ourselves. Friends lost, friends found. The world moves on. Those buds unfurl, popping against the sun’s heat, and it’s an iron-sealed heart that can’t embrace that.

I find myself unfurling, too. A few hundred words of a blog post is enough, surely. Who knows? We’ll see.

My loves! We have so much mental health to unpack. Why not start here, right now? Let me know how you’ve been getting on?

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Clothes To Keep You Cool

Despite what you might think, more clothes can keep you cool during a heatwave!

On today – the hottest day in the UK year – I am wearing a long, viscose kimono over shorts and a silk Ogden cami. (You know they now have more bust sizes in the Ogden cami, right?)

It might feel counter-intuitive to wear more, but the sensation of a lightweight fabric billowing as you tip toe around the garden is ALL THE FEELS.

Of course, you might not be tip-toeing around a garden. You might be stuck in an overheated flat.

You still need to wear more layers!

This is why…

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Hackney Palm House

There I was sat at my desk, Ella happily destroying the new office rug, when I said out loud, ‘I fancy writing a blog post!’

And here I am!

This is my summer lockdown outfit. Shall we pause to consider that I’m also wearing a) jewellery, b) a watch and c) lipstick. It felt SO strange to pick out jewellery. Remember when that was a thing?

The trousers are Simplicity 8389 version D, made in a black silk with a beautiful drape and heft. They feel absolutely gorgeous to wear. I sized down one size from the pattern guidelines – I think I could even go down another size. I took an inch off the leg length.

There’s lots to like about this pattern:

  • It’s easy to sew
  • There are no closures (zips or button holes)
  • The front waist panel lies flat to the stomach
  • Super stylish pleats at the front waist
  • A tapered leg
  • Pockets!
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Sewing A Top For Spring Trends

Let me tell you a secret. I’m one of those rare people who doesn’t pack away winter and summer wardrobes according to the seasons. I just don’t own that many clothes! But this top allowed me to understand that there is room in my closet for a spring top. Light enough to keep me feeling bright and breezy, but with a bit of coverage should a chill set in.

And statement sleeves are a big part of Spring 2020.

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Sewing A Dress In Lockdown

myosotis dress how to sew

Can you snap out of a sewing slump during lockdown?

Lately, I’ve only been sewing items for the home. I couldn’t get my head around sewing scrubs or masks. Equally, I felt no compunction to sew pretty dresses.

But then, I had a stash that was sitting there doing … precisely nothing. In a fit of desperation, I closed my eyes and reached into my secret cupboard, pulling out the first bolt of fabric that my fingers closed around.


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Embroider Yourself Calm

jenny blair embroidery kit

How are you staying calm in lockdown? If you’re struggling, I recommend a spot of embroidery.

easy embroidery

This is my first attempt at embroidery and I’m happy! I bought my kit from Jenny Blair and can’t recommend her kits enough, if you’re also in the mood to learn a new skill.

Embroidery is fun! It’s also calming.

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A House Of Hackney Cushion Cover

house of hackney cushion cover

If you’re anything like me, you need a badger in your life. Preferably, one holding a cocktail!

I don’t know about you, but I simply can’t concentrate on complex sewing projects right now. Also, I have a big stash to delve into and a desire to make my home an even happier place to be in. For obvious reasons.

So, I dug out this House Of Hackney velvet, from their 2011 Hackney Empire range. Isn’t it to die for?

cording on a velvet cushion

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Guest Feature – Ella’s 5 Lockdown Lessons


So, there I was, having a lovely snooze – I was chasing squirrels in the gardens of Buckingham Palace, it were right grand an’all – when blow me down, if I didn’t hear the strangest noise. It sounded all, like, snotty and undignified.

I leapt off the bed and padded through to the office. There she was, wringing her hands and wailing in front of the laptop.

‘What the blooming heck is wrong this time?’ I barked, leaping onto my favourite chair.

She looked over at me. You’ve never seen a face like it. Well, you probably have, seeing as she constantly posts photos here, I mean, give me a break, who needs to see that many dresses? Or her noggin? Anyway, it wasn’t a pretty sight. All red and blotchy.

‘Ella!’ she cried.

‘That’s my name, don’t wear it out.’ I’d been awake for two minutes and she STILL hadn’t given me breakfast. ‘Come on, spill.’

‘I just don’t know how … I can’t … I mean…’ She was doing that crying thing again. ‘I don’t know how to make everyone feel better.’

‘Is that all? Come on.’ I circled a paw through the air for her to hand the laptop over.

She slid it onto the dog table and opened the screen. ‘What are you … doing?’ She stared as my paws started to fly across the keyboard.

‘Don’t worry,’ I told her. ‘I’ll make it sound like it’s you writing. Just like I always do. Now, go get me breakfast. And whilst you’re at it, light me a goddamn cigar.’

She shuffled off, all pathetic like, and I started writing…

ella writes a blog post

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A Quick & Easy Sewing Project

how to sew an oven glove

If you’re anything like me, home cooking has suddenly become a THING – even if it wasn’t before.

With that, came a realisation that my oven glove wasn’t that great. But here I was, a Sewist who:

  • wanted to sew
  • without being challenged
  • had a stash
  • had time

So, off I went! I delved into my stash for:

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Five Ways To Create In Lockdown

adult colouring

The world currently feels divided between those of us who relish our creativity and those of us who … just can’t get going.

If the latter is you – or if you want to inspire a friend who might benefit from an injection of craft – I thought I’d round up five home-friendly creative projects that could help.


You may remember the spurt of adult colouring books a few years ago. I predict a resurgence! It’s calming, comforting and gives you the opportunity to colour in a gift. Check out the free downloadable template from Jacqueline Colley that I coloured in recently, with a dear friend in mind.

Isn’t it just perfect?

If you fancy a spot of colouring in, I strongly recommend these Caran D’ache Swisscolor color Pencils. They’re gorgeously waxy with great pigmentation.


If you don’t fancy sewing, you can always knit. Right now, Whitney Hayward is generously sharing her knitting patterns for free, in support of the community.

Please don’t think you can’t knit! If you can learn knit one, pearl one, you can knit anything! Even one of my most complicated shawl patterns is basically knit one, purl one.



A couple of years ago, my mum announced that she could no longer knit because of arthritis. I was bereft. The hobby that we’d shared for certainly all of my life. But you can’t keep a good woman down! She discovered blackwork and was soon creating the most stunning pieces. She even inspired me to buy my own embroidery kit.



Lots of people are inspired to write their memoirs right now, or even the novel they’ve always had burning inside them. Could that be you? Or might you even … start a blog? I wouldn’t be surprised to see a return to this format, as we all crave long form, more meaningful ways to engage with each other. I have a few blogging tips. It’s all about the fine art of conversation…



I know this one sounds crazy, but bear with me! I’ve recently really enjoyed watching Youtube make up videos. So calming, late at night when I can’t concentrate on reading. The queen for me (and many others) is Lisa Eldridge. You’ll quickly learn that applying make up is a craft like any other. And a swipe of lipstick keeps us buoyant in trying times. If you’re into the vintage look, Timeless: A Century of Iconic Looks is a great book.

lisa eldridge

I hope that helped. What other creative activities could you recommend? I’m all ears!

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