Silver Toaster Sweater

It seems like whenever a pattern goes a bit viral amongst bloggers and on instagram, I’m at least a month (if not longer) behind! So here is my Toaster Sweater. I’m sure you’ve heard of the pattern, but it’s from SewHouse7 and there are 2 versions of the Toaster Sweater – I made version 2. And I really like it.

It’s maybe a tiny bit short to wear with these jeans, so if I make it again I might lengthen it by an inch or two so the top I’ve got underneath doesn’t show so much when I move around!

I do like the funnel neck detail, though I’m not sure it’s supposed to sit exactly like this, but it doesn’t feel strangle-y so I don’t mind it.

The fabric is a lovely silver ponte roma from my local sewing shop, Sew ‘N’ Sew. It has a slightly ribbed texture, which is really nice. I also really like how the sleeves fit – they’re a bit wrinkled here because I’d been wearing it for a whole day.

I like the swingy shape of the back…..

But it does seem to give me a hunchback! Not sure why. I don’t have great posture, but I do stand up straight in my blog photos.

One of my favourite details of this pattern is the topstitching around the slits on the side seams. And I love how the back is slightly longer than the front.

And the corners of the hem look so lovely on the inside because the instructions tell you how to make them perfectly mitred.

This is also the first main thing I’ve made where I’ve used my overlocker to neaten the edges – I’m not quite at a skill level to feel comfortable sewing the seams on it too, especially with a new pattern. And I did have to unpick a couple of bits, so I’m glad I was unpicking sewing machine stitching and not overlocker stitching!

Am I the last person to make this pattern?

Make It: Quilted Cushion

Earlier this year I heard about the Secret Valentine’s Exchange organised by Sanae Ishida and Ute and decided to join in because it sounded fun to make a present for a stranger. Of course once I received my name (Sarah of Northfield Primitives) I was terrified that I would make something that she didn’t like. Everyone who signed up had to fill in a questionnaire of tastes, favourite colours and things, and social media handles and online presence to do a bit of good old-fashioned online stalking! One of the ideas is to use things mostly from your stash too, so I dug through my stash to find fabrics I thought she would like.

Sara listed her favourite colours as blue, mustard yellow, earthy browns and reds, and said she likes old and vintage fabrics, bits of old patchwork and lace. Luckily her colour palette is similar to the colours I like. Since she said she liked patchwork, I thought I’d make a patchwork/quilted cushion cover. I sketched some ideas, working on 6×6 squares, halved into triangles.

I settled on the version on the left and coloured it in to work out which fabrics would go where.

Half the fabrics needed 4 triangles and half needed 8, to make it symmetrical. I then made a key of which fabric matched with which colour on my picture. The corner of the paper is missing because this was my pattern piece for the triangles. I drew a 6cm x 6cm square, then drew a diagonal line down the middle. I then added 1cm to each edge for seam allowance. The total size (36cm x 36cm) was based on a cushion pad I already had in my stash.

I then sewed the triangles into squares. Because it’s symmetrical in all 4 corners, there weren’t that many different combinations in the squares.

I then sewed the squared into strips, making sure each square was facing the right way according to my plan. This hurt my brain a little at various points! Having all the strips made meant I could lay it out to look what it was going to look like. At this point I wasn’t sure it was going to work as I felt some of the fabrics didn’t look great together.

As with so many of my non-clothes makes, I used calico for the back of the cushion and also as the backing for the patchwork/quilting bit. I bought some wadding from my local shop (which was the only thing I bought for this make) and sandwiched 2 layers between the calico (which I had cut down to 38cm x 38cm (with 1cm seam allowance) and the patchwork. I kind of made up the stitching lines and used white thread as I couldn’t decide what other colour would go with so many different colours of fabric. In the end the stitching was pretty much all in the seam lines so it wasn’t too obvious on the front.

Here is the quilting pattern I used (from the back of the front of the cushion):

And here’s the finished cushion!

I didn’t use a zip or anything, I just left a gap to get the pad in and hand stitched it closed. I wonder if I could have added another one or 2 layers of wadding to make the cushion more puffy, but it looks okay. I sent a little package of some fat quarters and other bits and pieces which I thought Sarah would like. I was definitely relieved when she said she liked it!

Did you join in with the Secret Valentine’s Exchange? Or another secret gift exchange? Did you find it nerve-wracking to make something for someone you don’t know?!

February Makes and March Plans

I literally can’t believe we’re already in March. (I’ve been watching a lot of Parks and Recreation recently, so this sentence is my homage to Chris Traeger!) I was moderately successful in completing my makes for February – I made only one thing I planned, but I made 2 extra things I hadn’t planned. I also had a mammoth cutting out session so I still have a few projects ready to go!

In a rare moment of blogging, I’ve actually blogged everything I made in February already (this may come back a bite me on the arse when I run out of things to blog!). First up I made this Colette Mabel skirt, to match the one I made for my sister for Christmas.

my-grey-quilty-mabel-1I also made what I thought would be my entry into the #MonetaParty, which was in the end my first version of the pattern, from the navy-with-white-flecks jersey:

moneta-party-dress-1Then I made my second, way more successful version of the Moneta, which rescued the pattern in my eyes – I felt it was a bit frumpy and not really my style in my first version. It goes to show the importance of fabric choice!

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-6

So my plans for March are pretty much the things I didn’t get around to making in February……including these effing trousers which have been on my to-make list since I started doing these posts back in October! They are at least cut out! I’m planning to tackle them this weekend.

october-planning-simplicity-trousersI do also want to make my Toaster Sweater, which is also already cut out. I think it will be a good top for the still-quite-cold-weather we’re having in Gloucestershire! And I love the silver jersey I’ve got for it. Now if I could only get my overlocker working……

toaster-sweater-fabric

If I have time – which is unlikely to be honest as I’m away for 2 whole weekends in March – I’ll try to make my denim Moss Skirt, which is basically a copy of the one I made for my sister.

I want to try to get some fabric this month to try to make a start on my #2017MakeNine. The Moneta Dress was one of them, so I’ve at least made one. I also have Christine Haynes’s Marianne Dress on there and I do have fabric for that so hopefully that will be made in April.

I also want to get back into refashioning – I have quite a stash of garments to refashion – as that is one of the things I consider to be under the ‘thrift’ part of my blog name! Though as I’m away for some of March, this might have to wait until April!

What are your sewing plans for March?

Definitely my #MonetaParty Dress

jazzy-moneta-party-dressAfter what turned out to be my wearble muslin of the Colette Moneta, I was persuaded by Sarah from Like Sew Amazing (who has a fab new vlog, the first episode of which is about all 6 of her Monetas and features yours truly!) to make another one when she invited me to her house for a irl Moneta Party. It was really fun to sew with someone else – it’s normally such a solitary pursuit, it was a novelty to do it with company!

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-2I feel the main saving grace of this Moneta compared to the other, is the fabric. Eagle-eyed readers may recognise the fabric as the one I used for my Coco Dress. I used the pattern in a different way, centering the space between the diamonds instead of the diamonds themselves as I did for the Coco. I think it works better this way, which is good because to start with I was going to place the diamonds around the bodice in the same was as the Coco. And the diamonds pretty much line up on the side seams. Yay!

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-4The fabric looks even more trippy and like a magic eye picture from the back!

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-7The black fabric is some ponte I bought from my local sewing shop. I had thought they didn’t have that much of a range of dressmaking fabrics, but actually it’s pretty good when I looked closely and ignored the boxes of fat quarters! They have needlecord, lots of patterned cottons and a pretty good range of jerseys for a shop of that size. They also have everything you could possibly want in their massive range of haberdashery items.

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-5I really like the ponte as it has a nice structure to it, making it a lot easier to sew with than the thin fabric from my last version! The jazzy fabric is quite thin, but not too difficult to manhandle for just a couple of seams! The only problem with this combination of fabrics is the skirt pulls down the bodice slightly because the jazzy fabric is much more stretchy.

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-6I again cut out the straight size xs and this time didn’t need to make any fitting changes under the arms – I guess different jerseys behave in different ways. I also cut out the short sleeves instead of the longer ones because I didn’t think the 3/4 length sleeves would work in the black fabric. I did cut out the sleeves in both fabrics and asked Sarah’s opinion and she thought the black would look better – and she was totally right!

The main change I made, which I hadn’t initially planned, was to add a neckband.

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-3I measured the neckline of the bodice – the front neck was 34.5cm and the back neck 31cm. Added together this comes to 65.5cm. I decided to take 4cm off this length, guessing that this would be enough smaller to sit flat but not so much smaller it puckered the neckline. I’m sure there is a science to this, but my guess was okay. I then added 2cm back on for the seam allowance to be able to sew the 2 ends together into a loop. I cut the band to be 5cm wide. After sewing the 2 ends together, I folded the band in half lengthways, wrong sides together and tacked it all the way around. I then lined up the 2 edges of the band with the neckline of the bodice, stretching it slightly to make it fit. I then stitched it with a 1cm seam allowance, flipped it to the inside and topstitched it with my twin needle.

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-8If you follow me on instagram you’ll have seen that while at Sarah’s house I played with an overlocker for the first time. She had it all set up ready and it wasn’t as scary to use as I thought it would be – I feared the fabric would run away and cut itself in half before I knew what was happening! But it’s pretty much like a normal sewing machine, of course! Some of the insides (which I had time to do at Sarah’s) look lovely so I’m definitely a convert to overlockers, and I even got mine out the box for the first time, having bought it a couple of months ago! I managed to thread it but the stitches were all loopy and no matter how much I changed the tension, it didn’t fix it. Any ideas? Is it possible I did actually thread it wrong and it kind of works but not properly?

I’ll leave you with this outtake from my photos – this was me testing the camera set up, feeling really cold and wearing my glasses (which I took off for the photos!)

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Tilly and the Buttons Coco Dress (Made Up Initiative) thumbnail Book - Colette Sewing Handbook Colette-Laurel-brown-pattern-thumb 2

Possibly my #MonetaParty Dress

This was going to definitely be my #monetaparty dress but I’m currently half way through another one which I like more, so that one may end up being my official entry for the competition/party. This one was probably more of a wearable toile!

But it does have pockets! This is my face when I have a dress with pockets!

moneta-party-dress-1

After asking on instagram, the consensus was to use this fabric which is navy with white flecks, instead of some teal stuff I also had in my stash – which I’m glad about now, because I think that will make a better Christine Haynes Marianne dress.

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I made the size xs and did have to take it in a little under the arms. I think because it’s quite a thin, drapey knit, it looked a bit saggy!

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I also sewed the waist seam with a 2cm seam allowance and not the 3/8″ that pattern says, because I felt it just sat slightly too low to be flattering. I have an H&M rtw dress that is a similar style to the Moneta, but without pockets and with a v-neck, and the waist seam is really quite high, so I was aiming for that, though it still isn’t quite the same.

moneta-party-dress-4

I do like the fabric, but when it’s stretched it goes white, the colour it is in the wrong side. The bodice therefore looks like it’s stretched too much, because the tiniest bit of stretch makes it look too stretched, because of the white showing through. I am wearing it with a navy vest underneath, which you can’t see, because it’s not really see-through, it just looks like it is, if that makes sense?

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Luckily without changing anything except the underarm seam, the xs size fits me snuggly across the back, which is the place I usually have issues with fit.

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The main issue with this dress, and what makes it a wearable toile, is that I messed up the neckline. I sewed it with a twin needle, but it didn’t quite catch the whole hem so I thought I could sew it again, overlapping one row of stitching so I ended up with 3, but that didn’t quite work. So I unpicked all the rows, and sewed it again. But by then the neck was stretched out and doesn’t look great. I wonder if I could rescue it a little with a neckband, but I’m not sure I like the dress enough to go to the extra effort.

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I decided to try full outfits that I’ll wear when wearing this dress, and I think it looks good with mustard yellow, with a cardigan done up (to hide the terrible neckline!).

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Even with the cardigan undone, it distracts from how wide the neck sits on my shoulders. And I’m sure people wouldn’t notice the neckline too badly if I don’t point it out!

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I also really like it with my Colette Astoria – it sits just at the right place to hit the waist seam. It looks like it could be a top and skirt. This is how I wore it to hang out with Sarah from Like Sew Amazing today to have a irl #monetaparty, where I sewed most of my second Moneta, which is looking more promising, as long as I don’t mess up the neckline again!

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I couldn’t resist showing you this outtake from my photoshoot, where The Boyfriend came out of the room which is behind the doors I use as my backdrop! You can’t see him, but I like the photo my camera, which was on a timer, took of me!

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Twin Mabels for Twin Sisters

You know how I was making those skirts for my sister for Christmas? Well one of the 3 I made in time for Christmas was a Mabel made out of this cool quilted jersey from Fabricland (though we got it in grey and it seems to be only available in khaki now).

This is mine:

my-grey-quilty-mabel-1And this is my sister’s:

phoebes-grey-quilty-mabelLike us the skirts are more fraternal (non-identical) twins than identical twins. They are both a size small – I traced off a size bigger in this pattern after the too-tight original Mabel I made a couple of years ago. Phoebe’s is 3 inches longer than mine, which was the length she requested. I made mine in the standard length for the pattern, which hits me just on the knee.

I’m pretty pleased with my pattern matching skillz on both, if I do say so myself! This is Phoebe’s:

phoebes-grey-quilty-mabel-3And this is mine:

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Mine isn’t quite as good as the  pattern isn’t uninterrupted – I’ve got two poofy bits and 2 flats bits (technical terms, obviously!) next to each other, when they should alternate. But at least the lines match up.

I managed to mostly match them on the waistband too, at least in terms of the vertical lines, if not the horizontal zigzags perfectly.

phoebes-grey-quilty-mabel-4Mine was a bit better matched across the back – sorry Phoebe! One of the back panels of hers ended up slightly on the wonk – I guess the fabric wasn’t perfectly folded in half. I haven’t done a huge amount of pattern matching, so I’m pretty pleased with how these turned out 🙂

my-grey-quilty-mabel-7I love the little kick pleat at the back!

my-grey-quilty-mabel-3These are definitely really quick skirts to sew up. At least they are when you don’t sew the waistband on upside down, without realising until you’ve finished the skirt and topstitched the top edge to stop it rolling. Though I’m just guessing that this would be really annoying and time-consuming to fix……… I actually didn’t topstitch the top edge of mine because I was feeling lazy!

my-grey-quilty-mabel-5I used a twin needle (heh!) for the hem and stitching in the ditch of the bottom of the waistband, and topstitching the top edge of Phoebe’s skirt, but for mine I just used a normal zigzag for the hem and stitching in the ditch. You actually really can’t see the stitching on this fabric, so it didn’t matter to me too much on my own whether it looked all professional like a twin needle makes it look.

my-grey-quilty-mabel-8I modelled the skirt with a tight rtw top tucked in, so you could see it, but I’ll really wear it with this black jumper in the Winter, and maybe my Astoria when the weather gets a bit warmer. I actually wore it exactly as in the above photo to work on Monday and I got quite a few compliments. And I love saying ‘thank you, I made it’ when I get complimented on something I’ve made. #sorrynotsorry.

Who would you like to wear matching clothes with?

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Wardrobe Architect Week 3: Exploring Shapes

wardrobe-architect
This week’s Wardrobe Architect exercise is about finding out which shapes of garments you like wearing – and possibly more crucially, which shapes you don’t like wearing. Some of the things that contribute to the shape of a garment include ease (tight or loose), length, neckline, waistline position, sleeve length, and fullness. There’s a really helpful worksheet you can download from Colette to help you rate the different aspects of each different garment, to help you see which shapes you like. I think we’ve probably all sewn things that we didn’t feel great in, or weren’t the most flattering, and I feel like this week will be the beginning of me working out what’s good and what’s bad!

The worksheet has you grade different elements of different garment types, where 0 is hate wearing it and 10 is love wearing it.

Here’s my overview:exploring-shapes-worksheet
Then there’s another section with more specific necklines and sleeves to mercilessly judge:

exploring-shapes-worksheet-2

Skirts

According to my scores, I mostly like skirts which are mid-thigh or knee length – I’m too short to pull off midi! And I like them to be fairly straight in style, including pencil-type skirts, though I don’t like them to be too tight. I found some photos to sum up my taste – some of the photos are things people have sewn from patterns (including one I made myself!) because it seemed like a not-terrible idea to find things I might actually be able to recreate!

exploring-shapes-skirts-1 exploring-shapes-skirts-2 exploring-shapes-skirts-5 exploring-shapes-skirts-4exploring-shapes-skirts-3  exploring-shapes-skirts-6-2(All image sources can be found on my Wardrobe Architect pinterest board)

Dresses

I definitely wasn’t surprised that what I like are shift dresses, without waist seams. Also that they are quite loose and hit me mid-thigh. I feel exposed and uncomfortable in mini-length things, especially if I have to sit down!

exploring-shapes-dresses-2 exploring-shapes-dresses-3 exploring-shapes-dresses-4 exploring-shapes-dresses-6

I also quite like the 60s-style high waisted look. I think this will be a silhouette I’ll experiment more with. I’ve been meaning to make a Tilly and the Buttons Megan Dress (from Love At First Stitch) for ages, so maybe now is the time!

exploring-shapes-dresses-7exploring-shapes-dresses-1
(All image sources can be found on my Wardrobe Architect pinterest board)

Trousers (Pants)

From my scores of trousers, it seems that I like most styles and shapes – really fitted, somewhat fitted and somewhat loose. Also I’m quite flexible when it comes to where they sit on my waist.

You can’t beat some classic black skinny jeans!

exploring-shapes-trousers-2 exploring-shapes-trousers-3

I do also like wide-legged trousers, though there is a limit! I think being short I can’t pull off giant trousers.

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I also like these more boyfriend-y shapes. The Morgan Jeans are on my #2017MakeNine list, so I’ll be making myself some this year.

exploring-shapes-trousers-5 exploring-shapes-trousers-6
(All image sources can be found on my Wardrobe Architect pinterest board)

Tops and Blouses

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I like loose, boxy tops. I hadn’t really thought explicitly about what length of top I like, so that was interesting to think about – I like tops just above hip level. I don’t mind the odd cropped top, but with high-waisted bottoms. I think the tunic length on me would just throw off my proportions because I’m short. Weird how basically all the photos I picked are monochrome!

exploring-shapes-tops-1 exploring-shapes-tops-3 exploring-shapes-tops-5 exploring-shapes-tops-6

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(All image sources can be found on my Wardrobe Architect pinterest board)

 

Jackets and Blazers

I wasn’t really surprised by how I scored the different styles of jacket/blazer – I kind of knew I like quite loose, slightly boyish shaped jackets, in a length that hits on or just below my hip bones. Jackets are definitely an area I want to move more into, given the office I work in is fairly smart, and I feel a bit more put together and grown up if I’m wearing a jacket. This first photo is the hacking jacket from the first Great British Sewing Bee book, so that’s definitely on my list to make.

exploring-shapes-jackets-1 exploring-shapes-jackets-2 exploring-shapes-jackets-4exploring-shapes-jackets-3
(All image sources can be found on my Wardrobe Architect pinterest board)

Cardigans

I found it really hard to find pictures of the kinds of cardigans I like wearing! I like round necked, plain, fairly fitted cardigans – it’s one of the few things I prefer to be more fitted and not as loose. Maybe I’ll explore with other styles in the future? Since I now live in a very cold place, I like the idea of some over-sized, snuggly knitwear!

exploring-shapes-cardigans-1 exploring-shapes-cardigans-2 exploring-shapes-cardigans-3 exploring-shapes-cardigans-4
(All image sources can be found on my Wardrobe Architect pinterest board)

Outerwear

Apparently I like grey and yellow coats! I also like them to be loose, and I love cocoon shapes (which weren’t really covered on the worksheet). I have a duffle coat which is more hip length and I like that, but I also love my Freemantle coat, which is a bit longer – you need to have some long coats, for warmth if nothing else! I may have to make another Freemantle because I really do love it. I might try making it more round necked, though, as the v is very deep so not super warm when it’s really cold unless you’re wearing a giant scarf!

exploring-shapes-coats-1 exploring-shapes-coats-2 exploring-shapes-coats-3 exploring-shapes-coats-4
(All image sources can be found on my Wardrobe Architect pinterest board)

Well there we go. I don’t think there were a huge amount of surprises for me, but it was interesting to look at the specific design elements I like and like to wear – sometimes I look at things and think ‘I really like that’ but I don’t analyse why, so sometimes I sew things I think I’ll like but then don’t, because it doesn’t fit with these scores. I’m definitely going to try to remember to come back to this post when I’m planning my makes!

p.s. Sorry this is going up a day late – I was writing it yesterday evening and was still going at past 11, so I figured there was no point forcing myself to stay up and get tired just to finish it a couple of minutes before midnight, just to have it be published on the Sunday.

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My first commission (sort of!)

A couple of weeks ago, one of my colleagues sidled up to me and asked if I would be able to sew something for a surprise party she was organising to celebrate the CEO working at the company for 20 years. The idea was to do a sort of raffle, but where all the names in the hat are the CEO because every team bought him a silly gift. So they wanted something to keep the gifts in, which is where I come in!

bag-for-work-2I made a sack! Like a Santa’s sack but in company colours instead of Christmas colours. I bought 1.5m of purple fabric from my local shop – it’s quite a sturdy cotton twill. And it matches the branding shade of purple pretty closely. I measured that the sack should be about 70cm x 85cm, with the writing (on the other side of the above photo) taking up 30cm x 50cm. I made a photoshop document of 30cm x 50cm, typed the writing and made it as big (in Tahoma font) as it would go, which was size 180pt.

bag-for-work-5I printed the letters, cut them out then cut 2 of each one out of the white fabric left over from my Quiet Books (1 & 2). I cut them out twice because I was worried a single layer wouldn’t be thick enough, and the letters wouldn’t look totally white. I zigzagged around the edge of each letter to help it not to fray. It took ages! There are 27 letters altogether!

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Another part of the branding/logo for my work is an ear of corn, so I used the leftover fabric from my Mustard Victoria Blazer and Astoria to applique it on. I drew the shape onto paper, then used that as a pattern. Because it’s a knit, I used a straight stitch rather than a zigzag to sew it on.

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I originally wasn’t going to make a gusset, but when I measured the fabric, it was about 30cm too long (folded in half) for the height I roughly wanted. So I measured 25cm from the ‘bottom’ (the fold was down one side), then cut off the 25 cm from both sides. I have one of these left as I only needed one for the gusset. I used my own tutorial from my tote bag post to put the gusset in because I forgot how to do it! And I used all french seams, to make it a bit stronger. I did cut through the fold on the side and sew the seam again, to make it uniform, but if you’re in more of a hurry, you could use the fold as either the bottom or one of the sides.

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The final thing to do was to sew a channel at the top for the drawstring – which is where the extra 5cm from the height comes in. I folded the top down by 1.5cm and stitched it, then folded it by another 3.5cm and stitched it again, as far away from the top of the bag as possible, to leave a channel for the ‘string’. You can leave a gap in this final line of stitching to get the drawstring in, but I decided to unpick the side seam a little (making sure the stitching lines were secured and unlikely to undo), so the drawstring wouldn’t pull the top of the bag inside out.

The CEO really liked the bag, and the fake raffle thing worked really well! Also, we were all convinced he knew about the party but he really didn’t which was pretty cool! I’ve called this my (sort of) first commission because I got the money for the purple fabric back, but I didn’t get paid for my time. I guess because it was for my day job, it was a slightly awkward situation. I did mentally add up how long it took me to make, and it was 9 hours – it took ages to cut out and stitch all the letters! If I was paid minimum wage for those hours, I would have earned £65 but all I got was the £8 for the cost of the purple fabric – I didn’t get money back for the fabrics and drawstring I already had in my stash. I did sort of mention that I should charge for my time, but then I chickened out. How do you justify your worth for work done? It’s not like I would do my admin paid work at home in my spare time, but I found it hard to charge for something I do for a hobby.