There’s a Fine Line Between Being a Fangirl and a Stalker

I’m a little bit scared that Sew Dolly Clackett may have tipped me over that line.  The whole point of this little frock-fest organised by Sarah at Rhinestones and Telephones is to celebrate the marriage of Miss Muldoon to Dr Nic in May.  The sewing tribute was announced eons ago and entries could be made between the 23 February and tomorrow, the 23 April simply by posting your photos over on the Flickr page specially set up.  And whaddayaknow.  It’s the 22 April and I’m typing this post whilst still needing to finish the never ending hem on my Dolly Clackett Dress and take the photos despite having plotted this dress since the announcement.  Actually since before then because as I said, there’s a fine line between fangirl and stalker.  But, I’ve done it.  And there’s photographic evidence to prove it!

Georgalex 1

I’ve always loved Roisin’s style.  She makes lovely dresses in the best prints ever.  In all seriousness, without her inspiration I’d still be using sensible colours in everything I make.  Roisin’s given me the courage to wear something a little brighter and a lot more fun!  Whilst there is certainly a time and a place for a sensible wool dress, there’s also a lot of fun to be had in wearing something bright and colourful and a little irreverent too.  When I think of a Dolly Clackett Dress I think of Alexander Henry fabric, full (preferably a circle) skirt, a fitted bodice and amazing shoes.  When I think of Mr and Mrs soon-to-be Clackett I think of Paris, Gin, Kate Bush, Pizza and a blue front door.  Does a blue garage door count?

Georgalex 2

I knew exactly which fabric I wanted to use as it has been sitting in my collection for over a year now waiting for the perfect dress.  It’s preciousness brings out in me Gollum like tendencies.  This was no time for a ‘suck it and see’ dress if I was going to use my ‘Home Sewing is Easy’ fabric.  This had to be something I’d love.  And what better than to use a fabric I love in tribute to two people who I’ve had the pleasure to (briefly) meet, annoy online and who are so fabulous?

Georgalex 4

Ladies and Gentlemen, please be upstanding for the Floralex.  Hey, if you’re making a dress inspired by Roisin, By Hand London has to feature as does a pattern mash up!  As I mentioned, I didn’t want the hassle of fitting and I like the way the Elisalex bodice fits me.  Splice on the dipped-hem-circle-skirt-with-pleats from the Flora pattern and you have a lot of fun out of 3m of fabric!

Georgalex 3

 

I may have committed a minor misdemeanour in that the front of the skirt has a seam running down its centre but that was the only way I was going to get the skirt out of 44″ fabric.  It’s not that obvious on first glance and damn it, I love this dress!

I cut everything out on a single layer to make sure I got the pattern placed where I wanted it and then lined the bodice using a plain white cotton and I underlined the skirt in the same.  I then did a kind of flat felled seam thing to make the side seams in the skirt disappear.  I was going to wrap the centre back seam in white bias tape to magic that away too but changed my mind.  It’s behind me so isn’t going to be that obvious (I hope).  And yes, I realise that the side seams are even less conspicuous…

Georgalex details

 

I know the preferred zip insertion at Clackett Towers is that of a hand picked lapped zipper and that is what I have done on this dress.  The canary yellow zip is carefully concealed by the lap and went in quite smoothly.  I did briefly consider an exposed zip but it just didn’t seem right with flirty skirt.  The hem is pressed up and then hand stitched to just the underlining layer so that it’s invisible from the outer edge.

Then, of course, you’ve got to accessorise.  Something Roisin is known for is her shoes and her Instagram outfit shots showing a slice of skirt and the shoes.  Did I mention the shoes?!  These Mel shoes are a direct and blatant copying of a pair modelled by the muse for this whole dress.  I had no idea that Mel shoes are so comfortable.  Seriously – you have no idea your in heels when wearing these things!  And I had to pay a little tribute to Paris and these earrings from Betsey Mae on Etsy are perfect.  I bought a necklace too but it got lost in the print – it’ll be worn though!!

Accessories

So, ladies and gentlemen, please raise your glasses to Miss Muldoon and Dr Nic.  I wish you both a lot of love, laughter and happiness in your future.  Love you guys x

Me Made May 2014

Hello my lovelies, it’s another made week here where my sewing ambitions are again massively outstripping my available time!  On the plus side though I’ve nearly nearly nearly finished stitching my Emery and just have the sleeves to insert and the hem to go…  This dress has taken me sooooo long to make and it’s not the pattern it’s me and everything else that needs doing!!  But I’ll bore you all with that when I actually finish her!

However, in other news (and now that all the April Fools malarkey has finished and my Twitter feed has blown the ending to tonights Sewing Bee – must learn to not use Twitter until I’ve had a chance to watch the show!) Zoe is once again organising the annual self sewn wardrobe curation and exhibition that is:

MMM14logolarge

I love Me Made May.  So much inspiration from so many people rocking their hand made wardrobes.  I’ve signed up and this year am aiming for a Me Made garment every single day.  This is the same pledge I made last year, but I did struggle on a few days so we’ll see how this year goes!

You can make the month as simple or as challenging as you like, depending on where you are with your self made wardrobe.  Some pledge one or two garments a week, some pledge that everything will be made by them!  It’s about learning about your sewing and your wardrobe and what you actually wear.  Documenting what you wear is down to personal preference – some join the Flickr group, others use IG, some post on their blogs.  I’m going to be doing three or four posts over the course of the month as I find it easier to refer back to later on!

If you’d like to join in, here’s Zoe’s post with all the details and where you can make your pledge!

Friends and Macarons!

22 March 5

I’ve had a go at making macarons on a number of occasions but they’ve never been a rip-roaring success.  Dibs on the other hand is a master.  She makes them as stress relief for goodness sake – that most pernickety patisserie as a form of relaxation!  After commenting on one of her instagram photos she was kind enough to invite me to her home to make a batch (the whole reason I went to London in the first place) and whilst fabric shopping is always great fun, the baking was the best part of the day!

First we made a white chocolate ganache to sandwich the macarons together as it needed to cool before we could use it.  This Craftsy Blog post has some good ratios in it.  It’s simply melting chocolate into hot cream and stirring (vigorously – I wasn’t vigorous enough so we needed a bain-marie) until you have something smooth and glossy.  You then place cling film over the surface so that it can’t form a skin or crust as it cools.  Then it was time for the macarons!

22 March 3

Dibs uses an Italian Meringue method to make hers which involves making a sugar syrup that is then added to the whipped egg whites.  This makes for a more stable meringue and therefore more reliable results.  There’s a description of the different methods here and  I’ve found a similar recipe to the one Dibs used (from Piere Herme’s book) on The Baker Chic blog.  We also discussed why it’s so important NOT to use liquid food colouring (throws the moisture content off) and the demise of her favourite glass she used for filling the piping bags.  We also discussed CBeebies (Our weapon of choice in distracting Noah) and Claire educated me in how to pack my shopping trolley more effectively!

We all had a go at piping the meringue – Dibs is a ninja, me and Claire not so much!  It was great fun trying though even if, once you’ve carefully made all those circles, you end up being quite violent with the trays to ‘knock any air bubbles out’ by dropping them onto the table several times!  Once they’d been left to form a skin they went into the oven for just under quarter of an hour – apparently this isn’t an exact science with a domestic oven!

22 March 4

As you can see though, she got some phenomenal results and once they’d been paired up (mine and Claire’s attempts at piping had made their sizes somewhat irregular!) we sandwiched them together.  We used two flavours – lemon and caramel.  We piped a small dot of the lemon or caramel in the middle and then a circle of the white chocolate ganache around the outside before sandwiching the pairs together.  Once again, Dibs skills in this area outstripped mine and Claire was doing an awesome job of supervising us and looking after Noah.  Then there was time to quickly pack some in a box for me and Claire to take home before making a run for the train!

22 March 6

All bar three made the journey home where they managed to make it until Sunday (Dibs told me that they taste better the next day and it’s true!) and My Dad, Husband and friends who popped in all gave them a massive thumbs up.  The lemon combo was the favourite!

Thank you so much for inviting me into your home Dibs, Noah and Mr Dibs.  I had a wonderful time and have been shopping for the ingredients to have another go at home.  Boy has chosen purple as the colouring for ours (and yes, it’s a gel colour!).  I’m just waiting for the disposable piping bags and some appropriately sized piping nozzles to arrive and then I’ll be having a go at macarooning solo!

Fabric and Friends

On Saturday, I got on the train just gone 7am and headed to London.  My plan was very simple – visit Walthamstow Market and visit Dibs.  Claire very kindly met me off the train at Liverpool Street and escorted me to Walthamstow and showed me around.  Oh. My.  I loved Goldhawk Road when I went last summer and quite frankly I also love Walthamstow but for different reasons.

22 March 1

In my whistle-stop shopping trip Walthamstow seems to specialise in knits, trims and haberdashery.  I did see a couple of places selling African Wax Print and Sari fabrics too but didn’t go in.  Whilst there were plenty of wovens on offer (particularly at Saeeds and the Man Outside Sainsburys) the strong suit really did seem to be knits.  I have to admit to not being a well versed visitor to either area, this is just my general impression!

Claire took me to the far end of the market and we worked our way back towards Walthamstow Central.  I loved our first stop where we bought fabric at £1 or £2 a metre.  I came away with a print test run on what is (we think) Rayon that cost £2/m and as there was only 2m I bought it all!  I also bought a gorgeous brushed navy twill, a very stable striped knit and a solid navy.  10m of fabric for £18.  I’d be lucky to get 2m of knit for that price locally.

22 March 2

Over the road was another fabric shop with similar prices where I bought a pink leopard print knit.  I think this will probably become a Tiramisu and a pair of cropped leggings.  We’ll see how it goes particularly as I’ve now noticed it’s got lots of little runs in it.  It only cost something ridiculous like £1.50/m so whilst it’s annoying it’s not the end of the world.  I know I got change out of a £5 note for it!

We then went into a haberdashery and trim shop where I spent £14 on thread.  12 cones of overlocker thread which are identical to the ones I use at home and paid £4 each for – these were £1 each!  The Coat’s Moon thread was 50p a spool – vast improvement on the £2 I usually pay.  Whilst I only bought black , white and navy and some moon thread to match the pink leopard knit this shop had every single colour under the sun.  Salmon pink, neon orange, sage green, dusky blue – you name it, they had it.

22 March 7

Next stop was Saeed’s.  This was a complete contrast to the other shops in the area in terms of space, general presentation and how the fabric was displayed.  I bought 3m of a digital print linen to make Sewaholic’s Gabriola and spent the most per metre I had all day; £6.  £6!!  I am sure that locally this fabric would be at least £12/m if not more.  The staff were so friendly and helpful too – I can’t recommend them enough!

As we went down the market we popped into another haberdashery where there was a wall just full of beads and sequins.  I only bought 2 bags of trouser hooks – each bag was £1.  I was starting to become completely overwhelmed by it all.  The number of trims was insane.  Pompom, braid, bias tapes, ribbons, diamante, beaded collars…

We then found the legend that is the Man Outside Sainsburys.  I bought a dress length of cotton lawn and also of an alleged silk blend.  I’m inclined to believe him as it has the most beautiful drape.  Being such a dork I didn’t even ask the price when I saw the silk – I just wanted it!  I was gobsmaked when he only charged me £5.50/m for it and £2/m for the lawn.  He also had a lovely drapey fabric with an enormous digital print of magnolia in black and white on it.  Quite frankly, a trip to Walthamstow is worth it for him, Saeed’s and the insanely cheap first shop and my favourite of the day The Textile Centre (the one with the green writing outside at the end of the market nearest the tube, hiding behind a stall selling saucepans of catering proportions).

22 March 8

It was mental how many people were in there.  It was still a pleasant experience though as the staff were doing all they could and apologising for the delay.  I came away with 3m each of an Ikat style knit in blue and purple and 4m of the same hummingbird border print knit that Karen used for her Coco.  These were all about £2/m!  They also had a sequin fabric at £5.50/m which I loved but had no idea what I’d do with.  I’ve seen a gown online though with a similar silhouette to BHL’s Anna that was a full on sequinned number so that is now haunting me.  Not that I’d have anywhere to make such a gown!  Whilst we were there we were told about their other store on Watney Market (Called Paul’s Fabrics) which is apparently twice the size…

Whilst we were there Dibs caught up with us and did some quick shopping herself before we all headed off to her home to make macaroons!  Which I’ll save for another post as this one is ridiculous already!!

Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Bat Shirt!

Seriously, it took me so long to work out how many Nah Nah’s there were in this title and I’m still not sure it’s right!  Anyway, behold the Bat Shirt!

Bat Shirt

Boy has got a serious Super Hero thing going on and this has lasted nearly a year!  His favourite hero is Batman, which I think is kinda cool as he told me it’s because he hasn’t got any super powers but is just really really clever and strong.  He has a point, although I’m sure the fact that Bruce Wayne is a billionaire or something probably helps!

This shirt was made back in January, but photographing a marauding four year old is hard!  I have no idea what he’s holding in that first photo – I think it might be an apple.  Or it could be a toy car – anyway he’s definitely not standing still!

The pattern is The Thomas Shirt pattern by Felicity Patterns.  It’s a PDF that cost less than £5 and I am so pleased with the result!  She states in the description that it’s a generous fit and she’s not wrong.  In the end I used the age 4 length and one of the skinniest cuts as Boy is not bulky – he’s like Husband and very lean.  Even so the shirt is a little big on him, but I hope that means we’ll get a year or so of wear out of it.

I followed the instructions that came with the pattern and didn’t make any changes – the yoke is a double one so the inside is all neatly finished in the same way Grainline’s Archer is.  There aren’t any flat felled seams but for a casual shirt like this I don’t have a problem with that.  The hem is just overlocked, turned up and stitched.  Not the neatest looking finish when you can see the guts but it’s plenty robust enough.  This shirt is in heavy rotation and is standing up to the consequential numerous trips in the washing machine just fine.

The fabric came from Plush Addict (who don’t seem to stock it any more) and this shirt came out of 1m.  The buttons came from eBay although I did make a bit of a mistake in that the shirt buttons up ‘girl’ style as the buttons are on his left hand side rather than the apparently correct for boys right hand side.  I wasn’t aware of this until Husband pointed it out.  Boy doesn’t care though – I’ll just try and get things the right way round when I make the next version with another Batman print!

7 Hours, 179.9Km & 5871Cal

Yep, goal 1 of my self imposed fitness challenge is complete!

Earnt Flora

As a result I have ordered Flora and I have already bought one length of fabric for her, have plans to mash her with Elisalex and Sewaholic’s Gabriola and also involve her in Sew Dolly Clackett.  Oh yes, I can NOT wait to get my hands on this pattern!  And it’s so much the sweeter for having worked for her.

For the next fortnight I’m working for Tilly’s Coco – not my usual aesthetic but the top length looks so fabulous on Oobop and I need some lovely solid coloured tops (working for this and filling a wardrobe hole?!).  I’m also planning a day in London which I am really really looking forward to.  I don’t often have a day out on my own (the last one being the Goldhawk Road meet up I went to last summer) and this time I plan to visit the legendary ‘Man Outside Sainsbury’s’ on Whalthamstow market and see what he has to offer.  I’m after fabric for Flora, Emery, Gabriola and Coco (and lets be honest, what ever catches my eye!!).

Bound Button Hole Practice

Also known as, damn – I’m very proud of myself!

You all know I was swapping out regular old button holes for the glitz and glam slightly couture bound buttonhole.  There is no way on this earth that I was going to hack holes in my gorgeous wool and cashmere blend fabric without testing this brand new to me technique out first.

I’ve had Karen’s Bound Buttonhole eBook since she launched it.  I bought it as it was a technique I wanted to try out ‘some day’ and because I love reading her blog and wanted to support her self-published effort.  Being completely frank, without that little eBook there is no way this would have turned out as beautifully as it has.  If you haven’t done so already, buy her book. It will stand you in excellent stead when you want to use this technique.

Bound Buttonholes 1

Because the Milano Cape pattern by Papercut isn’t designed with bound button holes in mind, there aren’t any markings to help other than where to make a button hole.  So I needed to determine the width of the button hole myself.  Using the notes in Karen’s book I measured the width and depth of my button and added a smidge to determine how wide it should be.  I included the shank in my measurements and I’m not sure that I should have done.  Anyone with more experience than my one button hole have any advice on this?!

Even though this was just a practice I carefully thread basted my lines after marking them with chalk to make things easier (and whilst I photographed that step I haven’t included it in my collages – doh!).  I did deviate from the prescribed welt size as I wanted something chunkier.  Instead of cutting them 2cm wide (making each lip 0.5cm) I cut them 4cm wide so that each lip was 1cm.  I like these proportions better.

Other than that, I did exactly as I was told and I am seriously happy with the outcome.  To say this practice run has increased my confidence by a billion miles is an understatement.  I now know that my buttons will fit, that the fabric presses beautifully (and smells like wet dog whilst doing so – wool, I do love you!) and that I can totally and utterly make eight of these bad boys in the real thing (eek!).

Bound Buttonholes 2

Little win, big happy!

I’ve also got to recommend the button covering service I used.  I posted the cheque, order form and fabric at 22:00 on a Tuesday night and when I came home on the THURSDAY they were on my doorstep!  It cost me £8.00 to have ten of these dual dome buttons made which to me is an absolute steal.  In short, if you’re in the UK and want the most beautifully covered fabric buttons then I can’t recommend www.buttoncovering.co.uk enough.

Next step in Mission Milano is pre-treat what feels like miles of wool/cashmere fabric which I’m too chicken to lob in the tumble dryer with a wet towel!  Anyone got any film or series recommendations that I can watch whilst I steam a mother load of fabric?!

And… Have you heard the By Hand London news? They’ve launched a kickstarter campaign to start printing fabric! I’ve made a pledge… It’d be great if you can help too. You all know that I have some serious love for those patterns (2 more rides and Flora is mine!).

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