Hi

Ah, another poetic blog post title!

I wish I had something amazing and couture to show you all, but in reality I’m just checking in.  Sewing is still pretty much non existent (but scheming… Oh my, the scheming!).  I’ve basically managed in a little over a month to make a teeny-tiny baby dress for my new niece with some matching baby bloomers, cut three shirts for Boy, order some fabric for a friend’s little girl who was born Saturday morning, order fabric for Boy’s friend’s birthday present shirt at the end of this month, lose a stone and a bit, start another course for another exam and still have a partially completed Mad Max Flora in a heap in the sewing room.  Sigh.

Hi

So, a lot to tell you but nothing to show I’m afraid (and this really is a space to show and tell!).  Having said that, by the weekend I may have assembled the new rabbit hutch for Buzz and Woody (who we have learnt are girls) if it’s arrived and be able to show you our latest project in the garden.

I’ve also recently done the summer bedding plants and I have enjoyed choosing the hottest, brightest most obnoxious, bratty colours I could find.  Cerise, purple, hot orange, lime green…  There’s going to be a riot of colour out there soon…

Anyhoo, hope you’re all well and sewing when you get the chance or just enjoying life in general.  Hopefully I’ll catch up again before another month as sped by…

Real Talk

I am in a funk. I’m not entirely sure why, but I am in one.

When I’m in this weird mindset, I want to buy all the fabric and eat all the things. One is no good for the bank balance, the other is no good for me.

I’m also stupid busy. Finding time to sew is just not happening and quite honestly this is adding to if not causing the funk. I’m fantasy sewing all the time in my head – my stash has been cut and sewn several times. Time is not on my side though, or at least it feels that way.

Work is busy, Husband’s business is busy, Boy is amazing and frustrating and life is what it is. I just need to find some equilibrium and some time to just be creative. To create and enjoy the process. Me and my machine, that’s my calm and happy place (unless I’m repeatedly attempting a sleeve or zip – then, not so much).

That’s why the blogging has become sporadic. I have so much I want to say, I have things I made a while ago that I haven’t blogged. I’m starting to put some crazy pressure on myself, which isn’t helpful. I’m just not sure where to start and my time is limited and there are a lot of things I want to do with it; blog, exercise, sew, sleep!

Please bear with me, once I’ve worked out how to get a bit of balance back, I hope to be back here a bit more. And not just rambling at half past nine on a Saturday night!

Belcarra Blouse by Sewaholic

Hello my lovelies!  I’m so excited to share with you the Belcarra Blouse by Sewaholic!  Back in February I got an email to ask if I wanted to test the pattern and after doing a little shimmy of joy I sent back a very happy ‘yes please!’ to Tasia.

You’ve seen the Belcarra Blouse quite a bit on the Sewaholic Blog already as Tasia was wearing it to model the Gabriola maxi skirt.  It is such a quick make but has some lovely details that really set it apart from your usual knit T’s.

Belcarra 2

View A is a simple raglan sleeved top with bias cuffs, View B has the cute pleat / tuck details and View C has the little pocket.  Me being me just had to overload my tester version with all the details so I made View B with the addition of the pocket from View C.

There are no darts in this top so it’s quite a loose fit but to accommodate the bewbs I did need to do an FBA (Full Bust Adjustment).  I used the ‘Fit for Real People‘ Method which adds a side dart.  I did consider rotating the dart out but this added more fabric to the front and that’s not a look I’m a fan of.  However, Stitches and Seams has an FBA method that gets rid of the side dart and that extra fabric.  I’m going to give this a go on my next version.

Whilst I love the fabric I made this top from (a japanese slubbed cotton) it is probably a little too stiff for this stort of top – something much more liquid and flowing would give softer lines and would not crease nearly as much as mine does!  As a result of my fabric choice, my version looks far better tucked in than it does left out.  I wear it a lot to work with this Rachel Comey for Vogue 1247 skirt that I made over a year ago which is another wardrobe staple.

Belcarra 1

In the defence of my fabric choice, because of the slubs in the weave it makes it really easy to find the grain line and also makes the bias areas (cuffs and neck binding) a bit more interesting than just a change in direction of the print.  You could have a lot of fun with stripe placement on this top!

This is a really satisfying and fast make.  It has the potential to be a wardrobe staple depending on your fabric choice and it wouldn’t surprise me to see people with multiples of these in their wardrobes.  I have a number of future versions planned including one with lace sleeves (omitting the pleats and cuff) as I think that will look really cute with a solid coloured bodice.  I have a couple of other drapy fabrics in the collection that are destined for this top now too, particularly as it’s not too fabric hungry – mine came out of less than 2 yards of 44″ fabric.

Who knew that something as simple as a T could be made so interesting?!  Thank you for the experience of pattern testing for you Tasia, I loved every second of it.

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!!