About amandajanehickling

I am a working mother of two who uses dressmaking and craft sewing as a creative outlet.

Summer is coming (so she said)

This blog isn’t about sewing and it’s not about my business.  It is about awesome creativity though, just not mine 🙂

A few weeks ago I decided I needed to try something new. It’s not that I’m not busy, or even creatively stretched, it’s just nice to do something because you can.  And just as I was toying with a beginners crochet book I saw this…..

Yeah, I know probably not the best choice for a first project, but isn’t it lovely.  A normal person would probably have put it in the file marked ‘for when I have some experience’. Nope never claimed to be normal!  This is the kit unboxed (please note sugar fix which was immediately hidden from the kids)

This is from a local craft business called Rhapsodye Yarns.  And what you get is an exclusive, hand made (dyed) product from someone who cares.  Customer service is friendly and thoughtful.  What’s not to love.

But the crunch really was could I make the scarf 🙊  First good news I could understand the pattern, thank you Emily.  So after a couple of goes at my starter chain I was off.  And in my usual fashion I took pictures to show (bore) my friends and family with.  Tadaaaaa


Just love the bright clear colours 💛  And although it has taken me a few weeks I have now finished and I am so very very happy.  I’m in Sunday mode and no-one deserves to suffer that so I got the kids to model it 😉


Once you’ve finished marvelling at the brilliance of the lady who not only dyed the yarn but also designed the pattern.  Why not have a look at her Facebook page and Etsy shop.


PS I was a little worried I’d run out…

Bag full of Pockets.

I recently ran a workshop to make a beach bag and as usual I did a trial make.  You may have seen the result in another blog post, here it is in case you didn’t. 

I was a little surprised at the size, but then who wants a small beach bag!  Still I had pictured a smaller more tote sized bag and now I wanted one 😮
There was only one thing for it, scale the pattern and make another bag.  There were a couple of other design features I wanted to change on it too.  So here it is a smaller tote sized bag with grown in handles matching the fabric.

Can’t see the pockets?  Ah that’s because I made it reversible in case you want to keep your pockets to yourself 😉

Two bags for the price if one, definitely a keeper.  Dot has temporary custody but not for long (and only because she still misses the Prom dress)

Prom 2016

It’s been a little hectic since I got back from holiday.  It was countdown to Prom which meant final fitting time for the dress I have been making.  It has been an absolute pleasure working with Jess and her mum.  I particularly love that Jess always gives good feedback, what can I say, I like a client that knows what she wants ❤

This journey started in February when Jess sent some pictures and asked if I could make “this”.   “Sure” I said, “why don’t you come in and we’ll have a chat”.  It is of course never that simple, before the appointment I found some patterns that were as close as possible so we could talk details.


At the meeting we agreed how the dress would look; style details, colour, materials, length……  But more importantly I got to know Jess and her mum.  I feel when making a custom outfit it’s important to know who I am making it for and that they get to know me because they are trusting me with something really special.  In February it seemed a very long time until June, Ha!

Normally if I’m making for fairs or for me I buy fabric quite happily online but this time it seemed more prudent to get some samples.  While I waited for the sample to arrive I got busy customising the pattern (I did say it’s never that simple didn’t I).  I could use the pattern for under-layer of the dress, however, to create the top layer I need to graft the sheer panel onto the main body, yup that’s as confusing as it sounds!   Still it wouldn’t be fun if it was easy 🙂

The next few months were a blur of cutting, tacking, over-locking, sewing, fittings, discussions.  And for Jess, shoes, underwear, jewellery and unfortunately exams 😦

I will admit I am very very proud of the end result and Dot is still sulking that she can’t wear the dress anymore!  In fact she’s sulking so much I’ve included her in the gallery below but undoubtedly Jess is the star of the show.  Thank you for asking me to make your dress for such an important day.


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Fun Day Prep (Panic)

I have been a bit distracted recently with arranging to move the workshop.  So it has kind of snuck up on me that I have a stall at the Hollinwood Rugby Fun day on the 2nd of April!  Oops

So this week I have been fretting that I don’t have anything to sell (I do) and decided to put the Prom dress to one side 😥 and make some crafty things.

Still a little bit to do but here’s the progress so far….


Kids tool belts


Bow Pillows


Mini Messenger style bags

Memories are (Mand) Made of this

Before Christmas I’d been helping one of the Sewing Space ladies create some soft toys from her nephews baby clothes.  You may have seen various version of these “memory bears” on the internet.  Inspired I decided to make two for myself (one for each bub), it’s a shame I gave away all of their baby clothes, doh!  So with the only cot sheets to work with ( I’ll let you ponder why I would still have those (!)) this is the first.  Made with Amelie’s sheets.20151218_133531A picture I posted got a lovely positive response on Facebook and a friend asked if I could make one for her little one.  But it seemed she had a similar problem, what to use….

After a little think she brought me his gorgeous christening outfit.  Now cutting up babygrows and vests I can do without a twinge but this was a different ball game (or bundle of fabric if you like).

I will be totally honest I cut and started to make the basic bunny to give myself time to sneak up on it.  The first cut might not be the deepest but in this instance it sure will irreversibly wreck the clothes.  I was fairly sure I could take the features and shape of the outfit and create a bunny looking like he was wearing the same.  So with the painful first cut done and some strategic pieces cut, Bunny would be wearing trousers, a waistcoat and a dapper bow tie.

Here he is a fleecy bunny, stuffed in polyester toy filling and wearing an outfit fit for a prince.

Wondering if he’s missing something?  Yep took the pictures before I gave him his cheeky grin *facepalm*  Even with it though he’s still not as cute as the little guy who donated his clothes so his mum could have a treasured keepsake ❤20160202_194719



Handbags and Gladrags

It’s been a busy week this week trying to catch up from an enforced break last week (sick child).  And a lot of the focus has been on Sewing Space as I kicked off Kids Sewing Club on Monday and had two drop in sessions.  But I still found time to develop an idea I’ve been having for a handbag.

It all started with a handbag kit Barbara brought to a drop in session, you know when something is really neat but not quite “you”.  Or in this case my friend who’s animal crazy.  So created my own handbag design and the cat flap bag was born and although it was a ridiculously late Christmas present she loves .

So all fired up and wanting something I can carry round to demonstrate my skills I began to think about a bag for me.  I had some faux leather left from a commission before Christmas, in fact offcuts but big enough.  And I have recently bought some tartan for a Kids Sewing Club session later in the month, but hey how much tartan do you need for a dolls skirt….

So this is my handbag, it suits me as I love bright accessories, it’s on trend, colour blocking and tartan, and I LOVE it.  I also nearly burst with pride when my husband just assumed I’d bought it  ❤

And if you’re wondering about the gladrags, I was really honoured to be asked to make a prom dress this week.  I can’t wait!!!!

Emma’s Festive Frock

IMG-20151104-WA0000Do you have one person in your life who thinks you can do anything? The consequences are amazing and oh so challenging. My person is Emma my sister-in-law. We’d been talking about her Christmas dress for about four months, yup she’s that Christmas loving person that starts in September! When this magazine popped through my door

We both agreed that neckline was stunning but a fuller floaty skirt would look better. This meant I could split the top and bottom and we could have fun with fabric contrasts. Many screenshots and much debate later I found this….IMG-20151110-WA0001

It’s glitter stuck on a backing with fish-scale lace over the top (in case you were wondering) and I had slight misgivings when I realised I was ordering from a craft supplier not a fabric supplier (!) I waited for it to arrive before trying to match a fabric for the skirt. It was certainly worth the wait but yep it was meant for card making not for sewing……

We had a client meeting (this is business after all) and I’m fairly sure she dared me to try to make a dress out of it anyway. Or perhaps that’s just what I heard 🙂

On with the search for the skirt fabric, welcome to my life a beautiful midnight blue moss crepe, yum. At the client meeting we agreed the full dress would be made from the skirt fabric and the sparkles as an over top. That meant if it all went disastrously wrong we could simply add jewels to the top of the under dress. I like to have a backup plan when I’m at the crazy end of the creativity scale.

There was no doubt the fabrics looked 20151126_150910awesome together so time to cut and stitch. Except it’s NEVER that easy with anything for Emma, did I mention she’s tall, slim and not in a million years a standard size. So first job was to lengthen the pattern, remove the skirt, find a suitable transplant. Done! Well not quite that quickly I’m using artistic license.

Things quickly took shape for the underdress. And after some wrestling and persuasion for the bodice too.

20151130_153505 IMG-20151204-WA0001 IMG-20151204-WA0003

So how did it turn out? It was stunning, the structured bodice really contrasted with the floaty skirt and the whole thing was perfect for Em’s figure and personality. RESULT! Worth every risk, worry and broken nail 🙂


Sewing Space is open

Thought I’d update you all as I needed a rest!  In just over two weeks I have gone from having an idea, a vision of what my company should look like to being ready to open my doors.  WOW

The response to my idea of having a space where people can come and learn to sew but where the focus is also about having fun and meeting people has been phenomenal.  And it’s really motivated me, nice when no-one thinks you’re crazy 🙂

I signed the lease last Monday, moved in this Monday and with lots of help from my fabulous support network we’ve cleaned, painted and moved all the gear in.  Don’t worry about the bare walls we’ve got plans for those once the paint is dry.  I am like a kid just before Christmas I am so EXCITED!

So here it is Sewing Space.  Come and join us you’re always welcome xx

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Hello There

Well I guess this blog has been a bit quiet for a while.  You might be wondering why and I can quite happily tell you I’ve been busy 🙂

Since my last blog I have completed my sewing course and I’m waiting for my certificate (me and thousands of teenagers I suspect).  I’ve also enrolled on a course to get qualified to teach adults. Seems odd since I’ve been doing that for years, but I believe there’s always something to learn from someone else.  Plus more certificates so my kids realise even adults can get awards.

Speaking of my kids, CGG has started telling people “mummy sews for a living” which is cute.  I’ll be honest I didn’t know how to talk to a 3 and 5 year old about redundancy, the feelings of loss, uncertainty and the whole horrible situation.  So I didn’t. I might be over protective but it felt right.  So I guess they’re not really that aware how big a deal this is.  And it’s about to get bigger!

Yesterday I signed the lease on an office space.  Why? because if you’re going to dream, dream BIG.  I get the keys next Monday and first workshops will be in September.  Between now and then I need to decorate and furnish, set up a booking system, get all my coaching plans and “how to’s” done.  And this is just the beginning, I am so EXCITED!  So from MondaySewing Spacewill be born and I look forward to welcoming you all to the “Social Sewing” experience.

Starting Again

Well OK maybe not quite.  But certainly somewhere quite close.  I’m now half way through the Fashion & Textiles course.  I expected to brush up on some of my techniques, I expected to learn some new ones but what I didn’t expect was to really start to understand the difference between sewing for a hobby and sewing as a business.  It’s been great 🙂

I had written a business plan and it includes sales projections, product costings, overhead calculations and of course my dream of holding mutli skilled craft workshops.  But it doesn’t come close to describing the step up I am now making in the accuracy of my cutting, sewing and finishing.  Or the difference between making one of something and making (hopefully) dozens.  All of which is fundamental to making a success of my new venture.

And there has been an unexpected bonus of being able to observe an experienced tutor handle a group with a huge range of abilities.  Making sure that we work as a group but each individual learns at a level they need to achieve and stay motivated.  I’m really looking forward to the next two weeks.

A few snaps of my course work (I think you’ll see more of the fabric boxes I love them!)