Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Snoods ahoy!

I'm so happy it's gone a bit chilly, let's get out the snoods!

The blog world seems to have gone mad for them thanks to Karen! Here is one I've just crocheted (using a pattern I blogged last year) which I think will be a Christmas pressie for some lucky person:

It's crocheted from a gorgeous pink wool I got in Loop in Islington, and the flower is done from some cream yarn I had in my stash. I love it and don't want to give it away! It's slightly less snuggly than my snoods from last year as I only used one ball, but I think it still works.

I've also just bought a knitted snood kit from the lovely Nest in Crouch End. They make up their own little knitting kits which are very cute. It combines lace knitting (which I'm attempting to master) and circular needles (which I've never used) so it should be an interesting project.  I don't normally buy craft kits, but they had one knitted up in the shop and I fell in love, what can I say. Plus it's not like it's a mass produced kit so slightly less unoriginal...? Anyway. I'm looking forward to getting started.

I've also got a giant granny square blanket on the go, think it might be next winter by the time it's done though.

Mm time for a mince pie and a cuppa.


Sunday, 13 November 2011

Knitting help!

Friends, I am in need of help from you expert knitters out there. I have been trying to knit a very seasonal snowflake lace pattern:

Isn't it pretty? I intended to knit it up into an ear warming headband. However every time (every time) I knit row 10 I end up with 28 stitches instead of 29, and I can't figure out why! I am beginning to suspect it is a mistake in the pattern, as there is also a mistake where it says "Row 13" but it should really read "Row 12". 

Can any of you shed any light? Is it me, am I doing something silly? Or if it is a mistake in the pattern do any of you know what I could do to add a stitch in without ruining the pattern? I tried just adding one in each time but it resulted in a very wobbly line along the sides! I'm not new to knitting but I haven't knitted in years, so this is very challenging. 

I have been making things, I have some new stuff to share with you soon!


Saturday, 22 October 2011

What? Not another Rooibos

Um, yes, it is another Rooibos. Sorry! (my third, after dotty and grey). It's my favourite so far though. Isn't the cherry print fabric the cutest? And I love the pop of colour from the collar. (They're just iPhone pics, hope you can see ok)

I think I'm trying to direct the cameraman and protesting at having a photo taken next to a bag of soil...

Do you like my yellow cardi? I do too, except it's cashmere (and was v expensive) and it's got a hole after a month! I'm clearly not cut out for expensive knitwear. 

I think that's me for the Rooiboses (Rooibi? Rooiboss? What is the plural?!) for now though. Three is quite enough. I cannot praise this little pattern enough, but I won't rave on about it as I've already done it in my two previous posts. Now I need to get a little more adventurous and try a pattern I've not made before...I'm tempted by the peony, anyone tried it? I haven't seen many versions around the web yet.

How are we all anyway, enjoying the crisp autumn weather? I love it, this week has just been perfect, cold but bright and sunny. I've had the week off and have been enjoying reading, sewing and drinking tea (and wine) looking out the window at the world going past. It's been blissful. If only I didn't have to go back to work on Monday.

Oh, have you all seen this? Knitted jumpers for penguins to protect them from oil spillage! So adorable.


Thursday, 15 September 2011

Why is my stitching all WRONG?! (help)

I know some of you are sewing machine whizzes, and I'm very much a novice, so I'm asking for your help. What would make my (normally very well behaved) sewing machine make this mess on the underside of my stitching?

It will do this all of a sudden, and as it's underneath I won't see it until it eventually jams up. Then I take everything out and put it back exactly the same, and it's usually fine again. I can't understand it!

Is it my tension? Wrong bobbin (it's a drop in bobbin by the way)?

Any thoughts would be much appreciated!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

The Liberty Book of Home Sewing

Oh my god - I have just seen this book, and although I've only seen the cover and one photo, it's set my heart a-flutter...

Has anyone seen any other pictures or reviews or do we just have to wait until October?

Sometimes you've got to think small

My month is off to a slow start, I think I'm a little under the weather as my energy levels are zero. It's sort of self-perpetuating though, isn't it, the more you sit about feeling sorry for yourself the less you want to get up and do anything. I'm a bit of an anomaly in that I'm a bit cross that the weather is warm again (yesterday was really sunny! People were back in flip flops!) - I had resigned myself to "summer" being over and was very much in the mood for autumn (my favourite season) to commence.

I bloody love autumn, me!
Here are the things I love about autumn:

  • dark, cosy nights
  • winter clothes - boots, scarves, woolens, slippers, pyjamas
  • fairy lights on dark nights
  • red wine and candles
  • build up to Christmas

I feel all cosy just thinking about it!

I have, however, tidied up my sewing stuff, sorted out my languishing pile of WiPs, made a list of small crafty projects and borrowed Cath Kidston's Sew from the library. It's a lovely book (although I probably wouldn't buy it for myself) and has given me a fresh wave of inspiration for crafting small things. I think that's the problem when you're feeling busy and stressed, getting started on something big in the evenings, like a dress, seems so daunting that the tv and a glass of wine wins hands down every time. Sometimes you've got to think small. Big isn't always best. *insert other size based cliches here*

So my list of things I want to make in the next month are:

  • new cushion covers
  • a new needle case
  • pin cushion

I also have two metres of this fabric that is begging to be whipped up into....a Rooibos? A Pendrell? I think it would be quite cute as a Rooibos with red buttons and it could maybe even carry off some red ricrac, what do you think? I'm not usually a fan of ricrac, but something about this fabric is screaming RICRAC ME! (just me?)

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

The one where I make excuses and swear off gin...

Well well, long time no blog...


Let's just be honest here, I haven't blogged because I haven't made anything since my floral Pendrell - well, nothing except another Pendrell in pink gingham which I messed up by stitching the invisible hem in such a large stitch it is anything but invisible. But because of the way you fold the fabric for invisible hemming I didn't notice til I was all the way round, and by then...well I was scunnered. I don't have much patience for hemming at the best of times, so rather than unpick and redo I just scrumpled it up in a bad mood and shoved it in the sewing box. I'll fix it one day. 

So today I want to blog about bad habits. And how those bad habits have been stopping me from being creative. 

I present to you:

Exhibit A

Yes. Yes, that is a massive 50 inch tv. Please believe me, I did not buy this monster, I won it in a competition that I was automatically entered into because I 'liked' a Facebook page. Before this I didn't even have a tv, but since we got it and since I started my current job (which is lots more challenging than my old one) I have been finding myself coming home and just slumping in front of it watching whatever it throws my way. Old episodes of Friends I've seen 50 times? Bring it. Don't Tell the Bride? Yep I'll have some of that too. Come Dine With Me is on all evening you say? Well it'd be rude not to, surely? BASICALLY I've just turned into a boring old COUCH POTATO. Which brings me to...

Exhibit B

Ah, my old friends RED WINE and GIN. To go along with my couch potato habit, of late I have also been cultivating a lovely wino habit. You know, you get home, get your jammies on, put on the tv and unwind with a glass of wine...and then all of a sudden it's bedtime and whoops you've done nothing with your evening yet again? 

But NO MORE, I tell you!

My tv is broken! Ok it's getting fixed tomorrow (hopefully) but it's been broken for 2 weeks, forcing me to go cold turkey on the repeats of My Name is Earl, and I'm happy to report that the habit has been broken, I am no longer a TELLY ADDICT! I've been reading more, and look, I'm even here blogging, that's gotta tell you something. 

So, to keep the momentum going I have also sworn off my other bad habit, BOOZE, for September. Sober September I'm dubbing it, at the risk of sounding like a Grade A Alkie.Don't get me wrong it's not like I'm boozing it up every night at the minute, but I do feel like I'd get more done if I didn't use wine as a stress reliever. 

So, let's see how it goes then shall we? I have some rather nice navy blue material with cherries on that would make either a very nice Pendrell or a Rooibos, haven't decided which yet, and this chillier weather has me itching to get my crochet hook out again - I'm thinking tea cosies, perhaps another go at a hat (last attempt failed miserably) and Christmas decorations. 

What do you guys do in the evenings, and how do you find the energy to sew after a hard day at work? Do you find yourselves drawn into passive bad habits too? I enjoy sewing so much and find it relaxing once I am doing it, but actually gathering the momentum to get everything out and start...ooft it's hard! Harder when the glass of wine and passive telly watching is calling so seductively. In the meantime I'm off to see if I can glean some tips from Tilly's Productivity Project.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Pendrell, I think I love you...

What a little gem of a pattern. I can see why Karen has made umpteen of them. Here is my Pendell, sewn up with material I got for £1/2 a metre in Walthamstow Market.

Ignore the thread hanging from my seam - it's actually just stuck to my jeans!
I absolutely love it, I think it is my favourite make so far (apart from maybe my first Rooibos). 

I have to admit I'd have been lost without Tasia's sewalong, so I'm extremely grateful for that, thanks Tasia. This was mostly to do with the bias binding on the neck and arm-holes, a technique I'd never used before. I now think bias binding is BRILLIANT and want to use it on EVERYTHING! If only I'd known about it for my last make, I could have bias bound the neck and arms and saved myself from faffing about with stupid facings. *doh* I also needed the pictures for getting my head around how to make the sleeves, but once I'd got it they were extremely satisfying to make. I also bodged the arm-hole (the second one I'd done so can't even blame inexperience!) by sewing the binding to the wrong side of the fabric. Lesson learned, don't sew for too long without a break or any food, your concentration will wane!

Another problem I had was the sizing - I cut out a size 12 as I wanted to make sure it sat nice and loosely over my hips. The finished make made me look like a floral clad american footballer! Far too much material in the sleeves and shoulder area. I think I could have got away with the size 10, and I may even need to cut a bit smaller through the shoulders/bust. It was reasonably easy to fix though, I just took in the side seams by about a cm, and then the two front/back seams in by about half a cm up to the bustline then graded it up to take in about a cm/cm and a half through the bust and shoulders. I was worried it might ruin the line of the top, but I don't think it's suffered too badly. 

I immediately want to make another one, but I'm still loathe to cut into an expensive fabric as I think I may have more sizing issues to work through. A gingham version may be making an appearance after all...!

To summarise:
Pendrell = ACE. 

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Walthamstow market fabric haul

So yesterday I went to Walthamstow market to check out the cheap fabric Karen's always raving about. And I wasn't disappointed! I came away with 2m of each of these for around a tenner:


The eagle eyed amongst you might notice that I have been a bit of a copycat. I knew I was buying a gingham similar to the one Karen used for her Pendrell, but it wasn't until later that I realised I've also copied her with the yellow fabric too. Um. Hope you don't mind Karen! Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and all that...

So. Now to decide what to make. Like about 90% of the sewing world, I've recently purchased the Ginger and the Pendrell.

I'm excited! After seeing all the beautiful versions of the Pendrell out there, I couldn't not snap it up, and Sunni's sewalong for the Ginger had me champing at the bit to get my mitts on the pattern. Her versions are just stunning. It also helps that there's a sewalong for the Pendrell, I love having all the tips on-hand.

Now to match fabric to patterns...I was thinking either the yellow or the pink and white floral for a Ginger - what do you think? I'm imagining the yellow with red pockets, something like this version of Sunni's. But I'm torn, because they're the two I'd like to use for the Pendrell too...

As for the gingham, I'm not entirely sure what to do with it yet - I loved Karen's gingham Pendrell, but that might be a little too single white female, so I'm waiting for inspiration to strike! Perhaps an interior (curtain? cushion?) rather than clothing. And I've got my eye on the green paisley-esque fabric for a collarless Rooibos, along the lines of Roisin's version. Or would that be a little OTT?? What say you?

Hope you are all having a lovely Sunday - it's dull and wet in my corner of London, so I'm in clean pjs, full of french toast, and not planning to leave the flat, while Matt makes fresh bread in the kitchen. Perfect! I've also been dedicating a little too much time to my addiction. Yep. I'm addicted to...Guitar Hero. Bet you didn't see that one coming. I spent Christmas a few years ago pretty much sofa-bound with back pain that only champagne and brandy cocktails could cure, and not much else to do other than play my sister's wii. And lo, a passion was born. It was one only indulged from afar over the past few years, but this week we got our own wii (uber cheap as the new one is coming out soon) and I've been shamelessly ignoring my poor boyfriend, working my way through all the levels. I'm sure it will be short lived, but for now it's bloody good fun...!

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Dots and duds

Woo it's finally finished! McCalls 2401 in bright red polka dot, that I started making in March

It wasn't a hard make, it just languished as an unfinished object for a rather long time. I started making the version with 3/4 length sleeves, but then the weather started to get warmer, and I'm afraid I just wasn't 'feeling it'. However a couple of weeks ago I decided enough was enough, I'd make it without the sleeves instead. Sadly the facings etc are all completely different with the sleeveless version, so I had to make it up as I went along. As a consequence the inside is a bit of a mess, but you (hopefully!) can't tell from the outside. 

The good
I liked this pattern a lot. It has a very easy technique for inserting the zipper which I'd never seen before, but it took all the hassle out of it and I'll definitely be using it in future makes. It also has a sweet little split at the back. I have to say, I feel rather sophis in it, it is much more fitted than anything I'd normally wear. 

The bad
I was too lazy to make a muslin, so as a consequence there were a few fitting issues, mostly around the shoulders. I always seem to have the problem that the back gapes at the neckline and the shoulders look too 'blocky'. Does anyone know what type of adjustments I should be making, is that a common problem? I fixed the gapiness by hitching in the shoulder seams a few inches, but the blockiness is still there, I decided it wasn't worth unpicking all the interfacing to fix (lazy), plus I wasn't sure how to go about it. 

And now for the ugly....
I refer you to my last post where I announced I was making a top from the Japanese sewing book. Well. It's hideous. Just hideous. A dud dud, if you will (do you call clothes 'duds' where you come from??). It's unfinished as it was so unflattering I couldn't bear to work on it any further. 

Ok, the make itself is not bad, but seriously. It made me look about 9 months pregnant. Thankfully there is a lot of fabric in it, so it can probably be repurposed somehow! I've not seen any pictures of this top actually on a person (as opposed to on a dummy - Mildred is taking one for the team and modelling it for me) - has anyone else made it? Perhaps it's just universally unflattering! 

Anyway, I've settled into my new job, have more energy now that the weathers picked up, and have got my sewing mojo back, so hopefully it will not be as quiet around here as of late. I spent today in Walthamstow Market, as recommended heartily by Karen, and picked up 8 metres of fabric for around a tenner - bargain!! I'll share my purchases in my next post. 

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

All talk and no trousers (dress)

Ok, I'm a wimp. I have chickened out of making this:

The Japanese characters made my eyes go fizzy, I'm not sure I can tackle it on my own! I'm going to make the blouse version instead, seeing as Kate at M is for Make kindly gave us lots of tips in her recent sewalong, and I won't feel so alone in my quest with her virtually by my side. 

I'm making it with this fabric also from M is for Make. Ta to Jane for suggesting a voile. 

I've set aside Saturday as sewing day, so fingers crossed my fabric arrives by then (nothing like cutting it fine). 

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Sewing productivity challenge

Well. I think it's fair to say that my sewing mojo has upped and left. Toodleoo mojo, see you later. There are a few reasons for this.

  • I'm still getting settled into my new job - although the worst is over, I've got out of the habit of sewing in the evenings (is it me or is it harder to sew when the sun is shining? Doesn't help that my sewing space is a dark corner!) and it's hard to get back into the swing of it. 
  • My work in progress - a red polka dot McCalls 2401 that I started aaaaages ago *blush* - I'm just not feeling it. The sun is shining and this dress is tight and has sleeves, plus it's proving a b*tch to fit properly. Sorry McCalls 2401, I'm just not in that place any more, all I can think about are floaty summer dresses. 
  • I don't work opposite John Lewis (with its oh-so-tempting haberdashery) any more, so fabric buying has waned somewhat. 
However Tilly has saved the day and proved an inspiration (yet again) with her sewing productivity project.  I'm not officially joining in as April is a bit of a hectic month for me, but I'm finding everyone's sewing productivity posts both comforting and inspiring. It was great to hear that others find themselves grinding to a standstill when working on an uninspiring project - Tilly's advice to just put it aside and start on something that excites you just made perfect sense. Why didn't I think of it?! Karen's productivity pie charts put me to shame, how much does that woman fit into a day? Basically Tilly's project made me see that it's not just me finds it hard to find time for sewing and that this doesn't make me an uncreative loser, just busy. You're never alone in the blogosphere, eh?

So. McCalls 2401 duly set aside, I'm off to pick a more inspiring project. I'm thinking this:

It's from my gorgeous Japanese pattern book from M is for Make. So summery, comfy and easy looking (to wear, not make, I hasten to add). I want a soft, cottony, drapey fabric, it has to be just right, so I'm not going to buy online. This may mean it takes me a while to get started as I'm not so handy to the fabric shops any more, but it'll be worth it to wait. If I hot foot it I can just about make it to Beyond Fabric in my lunch hour. No more excuses!

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

I got an award. Now give me your ideas. And a malteaser bunny.

Well, I feel like I have been neglecting my blog somewhat over the last wee while. I've been neglecting my crafting too if I'm honest. I started a new job at the end of February and am finding it very tiring being a newbie. They are breaking me in very gently, which is lovely, but I'm very keen to take on my own responsibilities and start managing my own time again, I find it a little stressful not to be in control. So the upshot is, I'm knackered every evening and just want to lie on the sofa reading, or watching 30 Rock. I am hoping to get back into the swing of things this weekend and get my red polka dot dress back on track.

Anyway. The lovely Jem over at Beautiful Clutter was kind enough to award me the Liebster blog award.

Thanks Jem! I believe the Liebster blog is one which recognises smaller blogs and maybe even helps them to get discovered by more people and become bigger blogs! If you don't read Jem's blog have a peep over there and be prepared to be very jealous of her marvellous collection of pretty things. The rules of the award are that you must link back to the person who nominated you and nominate some smaller blogs (I think it's under 300 followers - I'm just going by your Google reader subs so apologies if you have heaps of followers elsewhere, take it as a compliment!) to receive the award too.

Without further ado, I choose:

Scruffy badger whose smiley posts have been keeping me entertained all the way through Me Made March, which she has nailed.
Matilde heart Manech who is constantly posting beautiful things - "a blog for dreamers, crafters and optimists" - what's not to love?
Ree Ree Rockette - also hailing from Crouch End (although we have yet to meet IRL), Ree Ree is an inspiring rockabilly gal who is launching her own fabulous range of lipsticks.
Gastrobabble - I have the pleasure of knowing the gastrobabbler in real life (a co-library spod until I left for pastures new *sob*) - her foodie blog always has me chuckling away.

I'm looking forward to seeing what blogs they all pick.

Speaking of picking (nice segue), can I pick your brains? I bought some lovely wool at Loop a few weeks ago and I'm at a loss what to crochet with it.

Any ideas? If you are a crocheter what is your favourite thing to crochet or what are you currently working on? I need inspiration and I need it fast! I've been inspired by this gorgeous flower scarf from Attic24 but I'm not sure the colours really lend themselves to it, plus I don't have the pattern. Yet. ;)

And now for a nice cup of tea and a malteaser bunny. Yum!


Sunday, 20 March 2011

Tutorial: how to make an oyster card holder

Hello, hope you're having a lovely Sunday. I thought I'd share how I made my oyster card holder from last week - it's very simple and I don't expect that any of you experienced sewists wouldn't be able to figure it out for yourselves, but hey, it's as much a reminder for me as anything else! Also please excuse the mishmash of photos - I've made two versions and I've just used the photos that best illustrate what I mean at the expense of continuity.

It's great for stash busting and uses next to no fabric - you could use up the teensiest scraps if you didn't mind it all being mismatched. It's also good because you can knock it up in less than 30 minutes!

I used some scraps and one of the fabrics that I bought in the V&A last week:

Using an old plastic card holder as a template I drew around it and cut out two strips of the floral fabric for the main body of the holder and one of a plain navy for the pockets (although if you are working with very small scraps/want a different fabric for each pocket, cutting out the navy piece isn't essential at this stage, I'll tell you the dimensions they need to be in the next stage). If you don't have an old holder, the dimensions are roughly 7.5cm by 21cm but test it with a credit card when you're sewing it up to ensure it sits snugly. 

I then chopped the navy piece in half and hemmed it along one edge to make the 'pocket' pieces. These should be about a third of your length each, so roughly 7cm wide by 7cm long after hemming.  

You then want to iron some interfacing to the wrong side of each of your floral pieces. I think mine was a medium weight one, I just found it in my scrap box. 

Now it's time to make a sandwich. Lay the bottom floral piece right side up, arrange your pocket pieces (also face up) on top, with the hemmed edges pointing towards the middle, then lay your top floral piece face down on top of everything. Hopefully you can see what I mean in this photo, this is the 'sandwich' opened up like a booklet:

In the first version I sewed the ribbon on at the end (it was something of an after-thought), however it's neater to insert it at this stage, as shown here (my second version!):

You just need to ensure that the ribbon has enough ease to go around the card and close up the holder without scrunching the cover flap up, so you can't just lay it down flat as shown in the pic above - I learnt this the hard way and had to unpick, hence no photos, but all you need to do is put a teeny fold in the ribbon (held with a pin or a small running stitch) just to make it a bit longer, about a cm will be perfect. Told you I was making it up as I went along. 

Pin it all together and sew, leaving one of the small ends open (in this photo I've sewn a little bit of the end closed, but having had another go I think it works better to leave the whole end open):

Clip your corners and trim as close to the stitching as you can, then pull it all out the open end, remove the stitch/pin from the ribbon and press (if you are like me you may briefly swear and think you've sewn the pocket piece at the open end on the wrong way, but panic not, this is all right, you probably haven't!). Arrange your holder so that the pocket piece at the open end appears inside out (the other should be the right way out on the other side) like so: 

Stitch along this open end, clip away any excess material as close to the stitching as you can, flip the pocket the right way round, press, et voila! Done. 

The inside will look like this: 

I hope that all makes sense! If you have any questions or anything is unclear please just ask. If you have any tips on an easier way to do it or an alternative tutorial please feel free to leave a link in the comments. 


Monday, 14 March 2011

Complaints and card holders

Hello hello,

How is everyone? I'm recovering after a HUGE disappointment this weekend. One of my good friends from university got married on Saturday, we were all set to head up to Scotland on Friday, clothes ironed, bags packed, timers set for the lights (yes, I do that - I was burgled once when I was on holiday), car loaded...and then I turned my car on only to be greeted by an ominous beeping sound and an angry looking (!) symbol on the dash. Despite Matt warning me he thought that meant something was wrong with the brakes, I refused to accept it and pulled out of the space...oops, no brakes. Swiftly rolled back into the space and called the RAC. Long story short, my back brake caliper had gone so it had to go into the garage. Knowing it was a small job, I remained hopeful we would be able to set off, but it was not to be, the garage didn't have the part, blah blah blah. Unfortunately by the time I'd realised I wasn't getting the car back in time it was too late to sort out trains or alternative car hire. So I didn't get to go. Gutted is not the word.

Luckily I have a fantastic boyfriend who knows just how to cheer me up. Pizza at Fratelli la Bufala in Hampstead on Friday, then on Saturday a walk up Portobello Road followed by the V&A where I picked up these two lovelies:

I never made it to the Quilts exhibition and I think it's just the dregs of the fabrics left at the V&A, but I think these fabrics are pretty special. My McCalls 2401 has been put on hold due to lack of a zip (oh how I miss working opposite John Lewis!), so in the meantime I've whipped myself up a little oyster card holder:

Simple but effective, and way better than the yellow IKEA holder I've been using for nearly 3 years. I took photos to remind me what I did as I was really just making it up as I went along, so I might write it up as a wee tutorial here, as much to remind myself as anything else.

Happy Monday everyone, I hope you had fantastic weekends and enjoy your week.


Saturday, 5 March 2011

Pattern/fabric pairings - advice needed please!

Hello bloggy friends. I'm all a dither and can't decide which patterns to make with which fabric, so I have turned to you for advice.

I want to make this pattern (bottom left view):

Using this fabric:

My question to you is, will an entire dress made out of red polka dot fabric be...well, a bit much? If it was a swingy skirted affair I wouldn't think twice, and I am a massive fan of the bold and busy print, but the more sedate style of dress is holding me back from making the cut. Perhaps it's just the picture on the pattern sleeve that is skewing my judgement as I know both Tilly and Jane have made it in much funkier fabrics which looks fab...

What do you think? Yea or nay? How do you decide on your fabric/pattern pairings?

I probably won't get started on the project for a while, I'm totally zonked this weekend after my first week in my new job - taking in information and being 'switched on' all the time is tiring. But I am loving it so far, so big smiles even if it has meant my crafting energy has been reduced to zero recently. I'm off to a wedding in Scotland next weekend so I was hoping to stitch myself something to wear but it's completely not going to happen!


Sunday, 27 February 2011

Weekend round up: Cath, caravans, contact lenses and colleagues (and other things that don't begin with 'c')

Look! Look what my lovely LOVELY colleagues got me as a leaving present!

It's only the Cath Kidston sewing box I have been coveting for aaages! I cannot wait to get all my sewing bits and bobs into it. They also gave me a voucher to spend in VV Rouleaux - I adore this shop, it has every trim, button, embellishment you could wish for. What an amazing lot, I loved working there. I will especially miss these three:

Dewey Decibelles: the final line up
I start my new job tomorrow and I have to say I'm rather nervous, but excited too. You never know some of them might be crafty ladies too, I do hope so. 

In other news, my parents came to stay for the weekend. Sadly the soggy weather put paid to our walking plans but we managed to pack in a few excellent meals (Bistro Aix in Crouch End got a BIG thumbs up) and caught the Queen exhibition at the Truman Brewery on Brick Lane. It was very interesting, with lots of Freddie's costumes, fashion drawings and even the pattern pieces of one of his white jumpsuits on display. If you're in the area check it out, it's free. I also tried contact lenses for the first time and am a complete convert - why did I never try them before?!

So with all this stuff going on, the old crafting/sewing has fallen a little by the wayside. I have picked up this red polka dot fabric though:

Isn't it cool? I have been searching for a red polka dot fabric for ages, but all the ones I've found have been a bit cheap and see-through. This one was a bit more expensive but won't need a lining to prevent flashing my underwear! I don't have any specific plans for it though - any ideas?

I also picked up this pattern:

I have been looking for a plain dress such as this for ages - I'm going to make a floral version of the bottom left image, but I really chose the pattern as it looked easy to adapt. Yep, I'm going to try my hand at adapting patterns. Eep! These may be famous last words but let's hope not! 

Oh. And I also had a sewing disaster. One of those pieces that just seem jinxed from the start. A mixture of a bad fabric/pattern combination and general stupidity on my part. I'll maybe post about it here soon and see if anyone has any innovative ideas as to how I can save it!

What have you been up to? Hope you all had/are having fabulous weekends. I left my parents off at Stansted this morning, and now I plan to spend the rest of the day watching 30 Rock, eating crisps and trouncing my boyfriend at Streetfighter II (my parents brought me my old Sega Megadrive!!!) and generally resting up before my first day tomorrow - perfect!


Sunday, 20 February 2011

It's all about meee!!!

My first blog award - how exciting! Thank you to the lovely Handmade Jane for tagging me as a Stylish Blogger

So, the rules of the game mean I have to post seven things that you may not already know about me. I'm not sure I have 7 interesting things, but here goes!

1. I'm quite competitive. I do try not to be and used to deny it vociferously, but I have finally faced up to reality. After all, second place is first loser. 

Matt feeling the pressure at being on an Articulate team with me - WE NEED TO WIN!!!

2. I am originally from Northern Ireland - I moved to Glasgow when I was 18 and stayed there for 8 years before moving down to London in 2008. My family still lives in Ireland. They live in a pretty country cottage near the sea, very close to Dunluce Castle. The nearest town is Bushmills, which boasts the oldest whiskey distillery in the world. 

I get homesick for this place :)

3.  I love books and have an MA in English Literature from the University of Glasgow. My favourite book is Jane Eyre and I love everything the Brontes wrote. I hate James Joyce and have never managed to read Ulysses all the way through. Marian Keyes is my favourite chick lit author and I've read all her books. I also have an MSc in library studies from University of Strathclyde. Could I be any more bookish?! Big. Geek. 

4.I have a terrible memory and can re-read the same books countless times, re-watch the same films, re-have the same conversations...much to the boyfriend's chagrin! On the up side, my goldfish like memory means I'm rarely bored...!

5. I'm really nosey. Like REALLY nosey. If I was invisible for a day I'd just snoop on people, and one of my favourite things to do is poke around other people's houses (with their permission of course). It's also another reason I love blogs, because you get to find out what people are up to. I think it's one of the things that makes me a good librarian though - we just like to know things! 

6. Following on from the last fact, I was one of those kids who just never stopped asking questions. Why? Why? Why? After I'd been pestering my mum with lots of stupid questions one day, I made the fateful mistake of asking her 'mum, what happens if you eat the end of a banana?', to which she replied, exasperatedly 'oh I don't know, Carly, you die!' From then on I was terrified of eating bananas. How do you know how far down you can eat before you get to the poisonous bit?! Surely you take your life in your hands every time! And to this day, I still don't eat the last inch or so of bananas. Just in case. 

7. I'm scared of: dirty dishwater, daddy long legs, moths, butterflies, spiders, birds (particularly pigeons), cooked tomato skins in my mouth, people touching my feet...

Phew! That was harder than I thought!

The other rule of the game states that I have to nominate 7 other stylish bloggers to receive the award - I have chosen:

Amy from Diana and me
Lucy from Tricky Seams
Suzie at Su Sews So-So

Looking forward to reading your 7 things! :)

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Rooibos take 2 and a dressmaking first

Hello! On a roll with the Colette Rooibos, I had another go using a grey gabardine and floral cotton. I think it turned out pretty well, have a peek!

excuse the silly picture, I hate having my photo taken!

collar detail


I cut this one a size smaller than my previous version and I think it worked much better. I also took more care when fitting the bodice side seams, getting Matt to help me pin it evenly and mark where the seam should go. Moral of the story: if you take your time and do things carefully, they turn out better. Who'd have guessed?

I have to admit it was hard to sew something in grey, purely because I have an overwhelming love of bright patterns. But I wanted to sew something that would be nice for work, and I think this is perfect for a "worky" dress. The gabardine feels lovely and makes the dress feel that bit more expensive, although it was a bit trickier to sew with than my usual cottons as it's a bit slippery and pulls out of shape more easily. 

So what's this "dressmaking first" I hear you ask? Well, I actually wore this dress to work! All day! And the bust seams didn't burst Babs Windsor style, and the hem didn't unravel and the world didn't end. It's the first time I've ever worn one of my self-stitched garments out to meet people (as opposed to just wearing it wandering around Crouch End where no one will really be paying attention to me). I have to admit I was really nervous, particularly as I knew my friends at work would know it was self-stitched and therefore pay more attention to it than they perhaps otherwise would. But it was all fine, phew! Do you get nervous wearing self-stitched stuff too, or does it pass?

I have a few days annual leave now, so I'm hoping to whip up an easy Butterick dress in red. 

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

BHLDN: love at first sight. And gin.

BHLDN. Otherwise known as the website that made me throw a strop and demand Matt propose right this instant.* If you are planning a wedding, believe me, you need to check out this site. But this post is not about weddings, as I am not engaged. Luckily for us single ladies (oh oh oh, oh oh oh) the site also does a pretty spectacular range of fancy dresses. So this post is about gin. Gin fizz to be exact...

May I introduce to you, the "gin fizz shift"

and look at the back!

I'm very much taken with this dress, particularly the colour and shape (I'm not too fussed on the florals - a bit fussy for me, and I'd add a few inches to the length as my legs are not quite so gazelle like as the model's). It looks a bit 60s and I love the cut out detail on the back. Plus it's called a gin fizz shift, and I love gin!** Fate I tell you. It's going right into my 'inspiration' folder for when I am a more accomplished seamstress. 

Has anyone else been swooning over this delicious site? It only launched yesterday and it's already one of my firm favourites. 

* (tantrum only in head, am not a marriage crazed mental)

** my favourite gin is Hendricks. In case you were wondering. Or would like to buy me one.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

A weekend round up: cards, cloths and vintage buttons


I've been a little quiet on the old posting front, not because I've not been creating, just nothing has seemed worthy of a whole post to itself. I've been painting my furniture to brighten up my living room (duck egg blue if you're wondering). I've sewn a table cloth (you can see it in the background of these snaps), but that's not terribly exciting to blog about, is it. I've also finished my second Rooibos, but I still need to decide about which (if any) buttons/embellishments are going on the front before I post it here.

I mentioned in my last post that I was creating a silly, googly-eyed valentine's day card for Matt - well he obviously had a similar idea because this morning he presented me with a handmade card too. We don't traditionally celebrate, so this was a nice surprise. Perhaps he'd been noseying on my blog and saw I was making him one! Here are some snaps:

two exciting looking envelopes!

who's that peeking with the googly eyes?

it's a chimp!

my hilarious card from Matt - inside it has a lovely pic of me haha

We did quite a bit of vintage browsing this weekend too - firstly at the North London Vintage Market in Crouch End where I picked up these buttons:  

It seems a shame to take them off the card somehow, but it'd also be a shame not to use them! Does anyone else have this dilemma?! I also picked up this sequinned appliqué piece that I'm thinking of making into a headband:

I can't quite work out what it's meant to be (floral? I think it may be upside down in this pic) - answers on a postcard! This was the first North London Vintage Market, but hopefully it won't be the last - there was tons of interesting stuff, a lot of which was vintage fabric, lace, buttons and other sewing bits and bobs. I could have spent a fortune, luckily I'd only taken a limited amount of cash with me. 

We also went to The Old Cinema in Chiswick for more browsing (no buying unfortunately, all far too expensive). It's such a fantastic shop though, I'd definitely recommend it. They obviously take a lot of care with the displays and the way the stuff is laid out. We came across this delightful pair:

It's a set of 50s night lights - I don't know about you but I'd have been scared stiff if this was my night light - creepy! I also rather liked this scientific equipment, I'm not sure why. I was picturing it filled with fabric remnants and buttons! Sadly its £150 price tag meant it stayed on the shelf (much to Matt's relief - he prefers a minimalist approach to décor whereas I'm a junk shop hoarder).

I'll be back in a few days with my latest Rooibos, and potentially another dress too - I have some lovely red fabric (courtesy of Seamstar, whose speedy service impressed me greatly) that is crying out to be sewn up. I have Butterick 5305 in mind - a simple dress that I think will look good in a block colour but could also look amazing with bolder fabric choices. Now I'm off to Google Reader to see what you lot  have been up to over the weekend.