Christmas Gifts and Christmas FAIL!


Christmas means a lot more to me now that I can ask for presents I really want. You know what it’s like on reaching a certain age. When asked what your wish list is, you wave a hand through the air. ‘Oh, you know… Just get me something.’ But when a hobby hoves into view, suddenly your requests become much more specific!

This year I asked for new scissors. The pair I’d bought from John Lewis when I first started sewing just weren’t cutting the mustard any more – even after a sharpening at MacCulloch & Wallis.

My sister didn’t disappoint. She gave me 10 inch shears from Merchant and Mills. I’m particularly thrilled with them because they’re forged from Sheffield steel – I grew up very near Sheffield and am well aware of the city’s rightful pride in its age-old steel industry.


Another lovely gift – this time totally unexpected – was made for me by my mother. I’m calling it the ‘Table Top Pincushion Pocket Thingamebob Of Uber Usefulness’. If you can think of a snappier name, let me know!


Table Top Pincushion Pocket Thingamebob Of Uber Usefulness

Look at this beauty! Its weighted with a tile sewn into the base. It sits on the edge of your sewing table and acts as a pin cushion, with a dangling pocket for seam rippers, thread snippers, measuring tapes – whatever you want. You could even use the pocket as a thread catcher. I’ve managed to find a tutorial for something similair here. I can definitely attest to its usefulness!


Now, on to the FAIL. The red double knit fabric photographed with my new shears was destined to become a New Look 6000. Specifically, my hope was that it would become a rip off/homage/copycat version of Handmade Jane’s dress here.

Despite a tricky yet successful FBA adjustment, this is not to be. Why?

  • I didn’t toile first. I could have easily afforded to go a size smaller. The back dress section is way too big and I took the side seams in again and again and again. There’s a point at which you realise there’s only so much adjustment you can do.
  • Double knit is not my friend. A surprising admission. Cosy, easy to sew – what’s not to like? But on a figure-hugging dress like New Look 6000, it just doesn’t work for me. I mean, I could make it work, if I fancied living in Spanx every day I wore this dress. But I am of the belief that Spanx is just a modern form of torture aka the corset. Seriously – we fought for equal rights, in order to squeeze our bodies into shrunken sausage skins?Β I’m half jesting and I write this as an owner of a pair of Spanx. I don’t mind them on the rare (very rare) occasion, but I’ll take comfort any other day. Which means I need to choose my outfits and fabric choices with discretion. After two (or is it three?) fails with double knit, I’m throwing in the towel.

What do you think? Are you a fan of the double knit? Have you had good experiences with shears? Do you own aΒ Table Top Pincushion Pocket Thingamebob Of Uber Usefulness? And, most importantly of all, what did you get for Christmas?

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37 Responses to Christmas Gifts and Christmas FAIL!

  1. Im a big fan of knits and I don’t mind spanx if using it sparely… I made for me and mom a pincushion/bin too . Its so useful and pretty..

    I got vouchers for 2 of my local sewing shops, Gingher scissors and books. I also got chocolate cotton reels.. lol made my day! Im planning to get some extra foots with my vouchers and save some for later in the year,

  2. Rosie Martin says:

    Those scissors are glorious Karen! I love the Merchant & Mills packaging. I got some ‘made in Sheffield’ scissors for Christmas too, from a company called Ernest Wright & Sons. They’re quite small so nice and manageable. Enjoy using your amazingly useful thingamy-bobbedy-bibbidy and HAPPY NEW YEAR – may you sew bountifully in 2013! Rosie xx

  3. Kathi Giumentaro says:

    I have had my fair share of fails with double knit dresses. They didn’t work for me. Just when I had given up all hope, I made a blazer out of double knit. I am in love. The pattern is Burda 6-2009-114. I have made 3 so far and love them. They are easy to make and so comfortable to wear.

  4. sophie o. says:

    I’m not too fond of double knits, at least for dresses: I don’t think that what lies below my waistline needs to be THAT visible! I don’t know about Spanx as I don’t own any, but I can imagine how hard it would be to wear everyday. For Christmas I received a crafting book and a sewing book, and some money that I’ve already started to spend on sewing patterns πŸ™‚
    Happy New Year to you Karen and I wish you lots of wonderful sewing and knitting in 2013!

  5. Tamsin says:

    Shame about the double knit dress. I’m not sure quite what double knit is, but one of my gifts was a swatch book as mentioned by Tilly some time ago, so I’m hoping to find out soon! I also got a French curve, and a hand crafted seam allowance guide. Happy New year and happy sewing for 2013!

  6. Steph A says:

    OMG, I’m making that Table Top Pincushion Pocket Thingamebob Of Uber Usefulness! What a fanTAStic idea! That’ll solve my messy area.

    For the past couple of years I’ve gone out and bought my own Christmas pressies! Sounds odd, I know! It’s just so much easier. It’s true, by the time you hit your 40’s you have most of everything you “need”. This year I bought 3 sewing books that I’ve been in desparate need of (well, drooled over), and a historical book on maths “Prime Obsession”…to match my sewing obsession!

    Enjoy your new scissors, they’re wonderful. It’s amazing how Good scissors feel in the hand!
    Have a Happy New Year!

  7. black label says:

    well now you can cut up your NL6000 FAIL with those bad-ass shears! πŸ™‚ have a good 2013.

  8. Andrea says:

    I made New Look 6000 in a double knit and I never wear it! I blame the pattern, not the fabric, though. I guess the silhouette is just more form-hugging than I’m used to, so I’m not comfortable wearing it at all. I’ve ventured on with cardigans, Renfrews and pleated skirts in double knits — and wear them constantly.

    • Ooh, you may have just inspired me! I have about a metre of that red double knit left and I agree that it could make a very cute skirt. My new Threads magazine even shows me how to make an uber professional waistband. Thinking, thinking… Thank you!

  9. CGCouture says:

    I didn’t get anything sewing related this year, but I did get a spiffy new camera and tripod so that maybe my pictures will turn out better (ha!). I can’t wear polyester without sweating like crazy, so I’m not a fan of any DKs that I’ve ever seen locally, but if I could find one not made of poly, I’d probably be interested in using more DKs–I think it would make fantastic lounge pants for cooler weather. πŸ™‚ And I totally need my own pincushion of uber usefulness, that’s an awesome gift! πŸ™‚

  10. Linda Smith says:

    Have made the Pincushion Organizer linked in your post and it’s a piece of cake! Just don’t overfill on the rice or it becomes very hard to stuff it your pincushion πŸ™‚

  11. Sam says:

    Those are gorgeous scissors, and the pin cushion thingummybob looks amazingly useful.

    Sorry to hear the red double knit is a fail. It’s such a gorgeous colour, hopefully you can do something with what you have left.

    I got some french curves from hubby, and a 1 metre ruler that I’d asked for – which is bent! Apparently he couldn’t think where to get one, our local art shop told him they’d order one but it wouldn’t be in until the New Year and it would be Β£28!!!! He found one in a local independant DIY place, but it was the only one they had and its a bit bent. Never mind, it does what I need it to!

  12. Oh what a shame about the red double knit, but I’m flattered that you wanted to pay homage! The one I made has been my go-to party dress this year because it’s so warm! Having said that, I don’t wear my NL6000 without industrial strength foundation garments…. I’ve also made two Renfrews with double knit and they turned out OK, so that could be an option with any leftover fabric?
    I got a hula hoop for Xmas and I LOVE it! x

  13. Zoe says:

    Wishing you a Happy Christmas and a fabulous new year Karen. Zoe and Pat xxx

  14. Juliet says:

    I love knits, and that red would have made a fabulous homage. Mind you, I love knits because I have an overlocker, which makes the sewing world a much easier place! Sadly I got nothing sewing related this year! I did, however, get a beautiful handmade spice rack from my little brother.

  15. alibobs says:

    I got some Ernest wright scissors a few years ago and was very excited as a former Sheffield student. This year I got a rotary cutter and mat (no idea how that will get home on the train as it is too big for my suitcase!) and a couple of craft books.

    I definitely need a pincushion like that (or two) as I can never find one when I need to.

  16. I think your new shears are fabulous and, although I have good scissors, I’m tempted to put such things on my wish list for either my birthday or next Christmas (in fact, my son suggested that). The first pair of dressmaking scissors I owned – a gift from my parents, of course, when I was about 10 or 11 and doing sewing at school – were made in Italy. I still have them and they remain my favourites BUT they are a bit on the small side, hence my having acquired some larger, lighter shears along the way.

    I love the colour of the fabric and feel your pain regarding the lack-of-wearability of the resulting garment. I’m on the side of those suggesting you use it to make a skirt or Renfrew top. And the thingummy bob? I’m in love!

    Cheers, and best wishes for New Year.

  17. Nettie says:

    I also have one of those Thingamebobs – made for me by my super clever and thoughtful sister one xmas. Uber useful, indeed! Enjoy the new shears – not much beats great new scissors. I treated myself to new Fiskars this year. Happy New Sewing Year πŸ™‚

  18. I love the gift from your mom! so useful…I wanted to make one too but never found the time. What a shame for your dress. I also have the pattern…will make a muslin to avoid disappointments. Best wishes for the new year.

  19. Roobeedoo says:

    I have been pondering double knit for a tube-like skirt… now you’ve scared me!
    I absolutely refuse to wear anything like a “girdle” as beloved by my mother.
    And I LOVE the tabletop thingummy – I need one of those! πŸ™‚

    • No, don’t be scared. I have a double knit pencil skirt that I love. It’s just dresses – for me, it’s not working.

    • Jen (NY) says:

      Oh, I used to have a wool double knit tube-like skirt and I wore it to death. It was somewhat form fitting. I’m not skinny and it looked fine spanxless. It was a really simple pattern, but I think it just depends upon the individual fit…

  20. quiltyknitwit says:

    Super nice gift from your mom! I bought myself yarn because my sweet husband bought me floor mats for my car…

  21. Karen says:

    Don’t like double-knit wools, either to make or in RTW… No thingamebobs in my stocking, but I did get a gorgeous book on Balenciaga’s fashions which I am devouring (along with a few Christmas cookies!).

  22. Mary says:

    What wonderful gifts you received for Christmas! No Christmas sewing gifts for me, though my birthday was earlier in December and I did receive a serger (…it helps when you place the order yourself with DH looking over your shoulder and providing the credit card number). Just finishing a double knit dress (B5523) and it worked out well, but mainly because it doesn’t cling to the body.

  23. Amy says:

    I made a pincushion with a similar design last year, and it’s been a great asset to my sewing table. Unfortunately, I didn’t think about my fabrics well enough before I made it, so it’s rather unattractive. Oh well. Anyway, congratulations on your wonderful gifts, and sorry to hear about the double knit…

  24. gingermakes says:

    Wow, those shears are so cool! How awesome! I’ve never tried a double-knit dress, although I just finished off a skirt in a slightly-heavier-than-the-average-doubleknit and I’m loving it! It’s thick enough to avoid putting every last figure detail on display.

  25. Stephanie says:

    Lovely looking scissors! Hmm Sewing related Christmas gifts? The highlight was a post 1906 Flora design Dorcas thimble, in my size, (tried on and then hubby took credit for it as my gift!) found in an antique shop. I lover it, its so comfortable, And from kiddies, a plastic sewing box with lots of threads in many colours with flaps that folds down, great for repairs and storage of sewing stuff.

  26. LinB says:

    Hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate double knit. The End.

  27. ZoSews says:

    Those scissors look awesome – as does theTable Top Pincushion Pocket Thingamebob Of Uber Usefulness!

  28. I recently made a dress out of a double knit and I love it, but I do have to make sure I wear the right underwear with it. It has more of an a-line skirt and a slightly relaxed bodice, so I don’t feel like it’s showing too much… It has proven to be the perfect family gatherings dress, since I feel like wearing pyjamas all day and the stretch provides me with loads of extra space so i can stuff my face!

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