contact me at

my etsy shop


  • Would you like to award someone special a knitted rosette? See the pattern to knit one here!

  • Little Squares Scarf, (quick pattern).

  • Little Squares Scarf, (step-by-step pattern, with lots of step-by-step photos).

  • How to sew up crochet or knitting with an invisible stitch, step-by-step tutorial

  • Sisterhood Crochet Blanket pattern for square.

  • step-by-step pattern for Sisterhood Crochet Blanket square. Makes crocheting this pattern a doddle for beginners!

  • step-by-step tutorial for some basic crochet stitches

  • Tara's failsafe cup cake sponge recipe

  • knitted slipper pattern

blogs I read

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« A Spoonful of Sewing?! | Main | The Victory Jumper, and other wholesome things. »


Bobo Bun

I caught up with you on my phone today when my students cleared off. Got home to leave a comment and saw what a busy bee you've been Vanessa. Such a fabulous dress and as always you make a great model picking the perfect locations. Love the tartan dress at the bottom, a favourite neckline of mine.

Your knitty mosaic was most delightful too.

Lisa X


Is your dress sweet, or what? That style is definitely YOU. I know how much you like stripes, so the striped shirt underneath goes very well with the dress. Charming. I can hardly wait for you to make another.


Well done Vanessa - I knew you could! It looks great, love the pink and green and the finished dress is really pretty. Love how you are wearing it too. It is quicker than knitting isn't it? But you can spend more time messing about with seams and stuff if you want to! There is something very satisfying about neat seams and stitches that makes it worth peering at them proudly. Mind you I also have a nostalgic attachment to pinking shears too. Fabric is very expensive - partly why I don't do it any more. Most of the fabric shops have closed down so you have to buy on line. They tend only to stock the designer stuff which is very expensive. I stitched a make up pouch and only got a fat quarter for £4 odd, so at £16 a yard it was far too expensive to make anything bigger. If you can find a fabric shop there are still decent normal fabrics for say £4.50 a metre. People who think it is cheap sewing and knitting your own stuff, really are far off the mark! The other dress you are showing is also lovely, and would definitely be very you too. Can't help noticing that the background wall, is colour co-ordinated with green and pink tinges to it. Nice to see your new haircut up close - it looks very pretty and suits you.

Planet Penny

Gosh that was quick, and it looks lovely on you! I agree it's nice to have your hand held when you set off, and thst looks like a fabulous book to start off with. I used to sew a lot when the children were small, but don't seem to have time now. I was very happy the other day when a friend (who had come to me with her new sewing machine a few weeks ago with no clue as to how to use it and needing lessons) came to Open Studios with her little girl wearing a little dress which was her first project. Now there's no stopping her! It's a lovely skill to have.
love Penny and Higgins xxx

Liz W in Missouri, USA (With Lucy)

Well - we were all right and you look just super in your new dress. I especially like the stripped shirt under it, and the boots. It's a great look and I think it's very much "you".
I know what you mean about the fabric, too. When I was in High School, I lived in Florida, and there was a simple sheath dress that we ALL seemed to make because it was easy, light and cool. I remember that it probably cost less than $5 for the whole dress. Not any more. But here's a thought - a neighbor of mine used to find some beautifully patterned sheets - and she would buy them and use the fabric to sew with.
Ah - well. Kind of reminds me of the $16 - $29 socks that I get when I knit! LOLOL People always say "Oh - do you save money that way?" and I say, "No - but aren't they so much prettier - and I made them myself!"

Sharon Garlick

Hi Vanessa, the dress looks fab. I love what you've teamed it up with. I've just started sewing again after many years of just not getting around to it. My mum was always sewing when me and my sister were kids, and we always wore home made clothes, we were always entered into fancy dress competitions [some of her creations were absolutely fantastic], she used to sew all the ballet and dance costumes for my Aunties dance students, make brides dresses, numerous bridesmaids dresses and all sorts. My all time fav. christmas pressie was a sewing kit she made using a large ice cream tub and sticky back plastic and she filled it with all sorts of wonderful bits and pieces including a pink pig pin cushion [which of course I still have]. It's only now I realise how fortune we were to have a creative mum. I really remind myself of my mum now.... bits of cotton everywhere and the children stepping on stray pins that have escaped me. Thanks for sharing your lovely dress with us, its inspired me to try and make some of my own clothes now. Looking forward to seeing your next sewing project.


Vanessa, I just finished my first knitted dress, sewing one sounds so much faster. Your dress is so cute and the color is so perfect for you. Well done,

Vintage Squirrel

I feel excited for you!! I love the shape of the dress, it's length and the gathering below the neckline. It really suits you, Vanessa!
Katie x


The dress is lovely, Vanessa. Sadly, it's long been impossible to sew cheaply unless you're lucky with a local fabric shop. Fabricland was always good for me but there isn't one where we live now. They are online though,( and might be worth a look. Otherwise it's sales, markets and sheer luck!


Wow Vanessa, well done, your dress is gorgeous! :)
Vivienne x


Lovely blog, wonderful dress.......I am going to get the book, and find some perfect fabrics and have a go at something in it...inspiring.
Nattie x


Vanessa, I think you have got the sewing technique captured. As others have already commented, the trick is finding fabrics that you love and that are affordable.

Once upon a time, New York City was a city where dressmakers existed, fashion designers had NYC workshops to make up their designs, and many women made their own clothes. This was the NYC that I first encountered, and as someone who did make her own clothes was lucky to enjoy.

Designers now manufacture their designs in faraway places. Women who once made their own clothes now work many hours and don't have time to sew. Dressmakers might still exist...I am not sure.

Anyway, the many fabric shops have dwindled. You can no longer just spend hours browsing through pattern books, and find beautiful fabric bargains (bolts of fabrics left over from famous designer sample making.)

I loved making my clothes, making the fit precise, using a lining color that only I knew existed, learning advanced sewing techniques, having a unique wardrobe, in styles and quality that I could never have been able to afford readymade.

Those days are over, over here. Many reasons for this.

Gosh, don't let me lower your wonderful esprit in the discovery of the joy of sewing. I sitll have my original Singer in the closet, waiting for its next opportunity to see daylight!


Alice and Raymond!!!

the dress is fantastic Vanessa! You look super cute in it, I love it and see that it may become a new obsession for you! Well done, I would love to learn to sew some day!
Do you know what? I've started spinning and I am feeling the same way about spinning as you do about sewing, I felt like I was coming off a high the other day after I spun my very first ball of wool! it's that feeling of accomplishment I think, and now I just want to spin and spin and spin.....
tomorrow I've got a big oral assessment so once thats over.... well....!!!
Give douglas and ellie a kiss from raymond!
Love Alice XXX

Alice and Raymond!!!

p.s Oh! And because of your jane Brockett love and review of her book, I ordered it from the Book Depository, as it's not available in NZ for weeks yet, and it arrived today! Yay!!!


Beautiful dress, well done Vanessa. Love the colours.
We are lucky enough to have a very good fabric stall on our market which isn't too expensive.
Carol xx


Hi Vanessa,
Your dress is lovely well done you!, the colour suits you too. I really like the style too. Ooooo the tartan material is gorgeous, i love love love tartan. I was watching Trooping of the Colour on saturday am and there was some soldiers in red stuart tartan. And i thought i`d love something in that material. Them you show a pattern & its in tartan!!
Take Care
LOve Carole from Rossendale xxxxx

The Muse of The Day

You did it! By the look of the results you got, I would say your Saturday and Sunday afternoons were well taken advantage of. Now that you have caught the fever, I say keep going. I can see what you meant about the color choices keeping all your wardrobe "together". I have a few pieces that I have made that as I was making them I thought how "nice" for me to be making something on my own - a charming pursuit, but now that they are hanging in my closet, they have proven to be my go-to pieces over and over again. I made them JUST the way I needed them to be. I feel the same frustrations on this side of the pond when it comes to finding the perfect fabrics. On my blog sidebar, under "Sewing Blogs", there is one blog called "Shop The Garment District". It is an up to date what-is-on-sale-where in the garment district of New York. If you ever have to go to NY, I would say that a quick pop into that blog before you hit the garment district is a must. You can also order on line from all those places, but of course shipping it across the pond to you will be costly. I like to see and feel my fabrics, too, before I purchase them, otherwise I feel like a hunter shooting in the dark. The next pattern you are considering tackling will look lovely on your frame as well. I am looking forward to it. Carolina


Oh very niiiiice! Well done you!
This could be your summer hobby and knitting your winter hobby! :)
I myself am taking lessons for a lady who is an excellent seamstress and having so much fun with it too! I've had two lessons so far and already learned lots! I have plans for the future for my new knowledge!!! Watch this space... ;)
Have you thought of finding fabric in charity shops? Not just unsewn fabric, but size 18 skirts, etc that you could chop up and resew? I love the idea of reusing old material, and i always look out for nice stuff in the charity shops.
xx, Veronika


There was a time when knitting and sewing for yourself was the cheap option,not so nowadays- even remnants of wools and fabrics are costly...I still make for myself, but now I make more special clothes/knitting-I spend most of my days in old gardening/painting gear,so every day home-made stuff would be a bit wasted on me!So the things I'm making and planning now tend to be embroidered/have lovely buttons etc. and are clothes to,as my Nan used to put it, "see me out'.When I lived in Holland there was a brilliant fabric shop in the city that had wonderful remnants and I stocked up-a couple of metres for a couple of euros,how could I resist? So I'm slowly working my way through my stash.Sadly, even that shop has gone now.


Your dress looks wonderful, and I'm glad you are excited about sewing. You should be since you can produce something like that! Cute!


Vanessa you are so talented ... I've been admiring your perfect gathers on the bodice, hope you don't mind but I was taught to sew by my Mum who is most particular about such things!
Oh I just love your fabrics and that checked dress in the final photo is so wonderful ... sewing is such fun especially in the warmer months, I've just been cutting inches off my winter skirts from last year which suddenly looked way too long and "drooby" now my knees are showing (under black tights!)
Happy days at your machine ... Love Barbara


beautiful dress!!!! love it, really suits your style! wish i coulod make such things x

Jenni at Baa-me Kniits

I love that doll and me are old friends, its the perfect style :-)

slim grey suits

I'd be grateful if you could create a criss-cross dress. Recently, I've been busy browsing such designs and I'm finding them cute!

Insurance Check

Wonderful dress.......I am going to get the book, and find some perfect fabrics and have a go at something in it...inspiring.

cheap nike free

Ich habe bewundernd auf dem Mieder Ihren perfekten sammelt, hoffe es Ihnen nichts ausmacht, aber ich lernte, von meiner Mutter, die am meisten insbesondere über solche Dinge ist nähen!
Oh, ich liebe es einfach Ihre Stoffe und kariertes Kleid, dass in der letzten Foto ist so wunderbar ... Nähen ist so viel Spaß, vor allem in den wärmeren Monaten, habe ich gerade Schneiden Zentimeter über meinem Winter Röcke vom letzten Jahr, das sah plötzlich viel zu lang und "drooby" jetzt meine Knie zeigen (unter schwarzen Strumpfhosen!)

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Hello and welcome!

  • Hello, my name is Vanessa Cabban, and I'm so pleased you've dropped by! I'm an artist and illustrator, working from home. I have two Miniature wire-haired Dachshunds, Ellie and Douglas. I love being part of the blogosphere, reading your comments, and feeling like I'm part of a community. I hope you enjoy reading about my small world.

Books I have illustrated!

  • The Best Gift of All

  • Book and dvd,(narrated by Kevin Whateley), of Bringing Down the Moon

  • There's a House Inside My Mummy

  • The Magic Donkey Ride

  • Down in the Woods at Sleepytime

  • Dear Tooth Fairy

  • Dear Mermaid

  • No Place Like Home

  • Diamond in the Snow

  • Bringing Down the Moon