Monday, 10 November 2014

Dogtooth Print Megan Dress

I've been wanting to make something from dogtooth print fabric for quite some time, as I love the pattern, and when I got Tilly's book Love at First Stitch for my birthday, the Megan dress seemed to be the perfect choice. Incidentally check patterns and dogtooth check in particular seem to be all over the high street this winter, although I had already made my dress by the time I noticed this so I like to think its me that's the trendsetter.

I love the simplicity of the shift dress she's designed, but with elegant slight puff sleeves. The simple dress with a check fabric works really well and is a great staple wardrobe item that could be dressed up or down. I made mine from a double jersey dogtooth fabric so its super comfy and warm and perfect for my day job, erring on the right side of smart casual.

The pattern was very straightforward to follow, as all the ones in the book are. I like the fit of the dress generally, but it is a little roomy all over, I think I could have got away with cutting a size down. My measurements align well with Tilly's size 4, but I wonder whether the pattern allows for more ease than I needed, or perhaps using a stretch knit was the issue.


I definitely will be making more dresses from this pattern in the future, I love Tilly's suggestion of a colour block dress, like my sunshine white/yellow summer dress. I also would like to try lengthening the sleeves and using the Megan pattern for the top half, and a pleated or circle skirt for the bottom like the Lilou dress.
Emily Kate

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Hacking Jacket Pattern Review - Great British Sewing Bee Book

As I decided not to buy any clothes this year, except the odd basics, I have been making a dress for the weddings I've attended. For an autumn wedding I decided since I already had quite a few dresses, I'd wear a summery one I made and make a tailored jacket for my outfit. I used the pattern from the Great British Sewing Bee book that I'd been planning to sew for ages and finally felt able to tackle!

Pattern Description: 
Ladies Hacking Jacket

Pattern Sizing:
 To fit UK sizes 8,10,12,14 and 16.
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes it does, even down to the fabric choice.
Were the instructions easy to follow?
In all honesty... no. The instructions talk about the large dot and the small dot, when in reality there is no difference in the size of them on the pattern. Also when it came to sewing the upper collar to the facing, it didn't mention that this involves going around a corner on one part, and that it is correct that there should be a couple of inches left over at the edge not sewn to anything.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
 I really like the pattern, the only thing I didn't like was the mistakes in the instructions. I would also make it a little bit longer I think if I made another.
Fabric Used:
A cotton and tweed blend in a grey/beige rustic colour, and a peach coloured crepe back satin for the sleeve facings.
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I didn't make any alterations or design changes, the only thing I would mention is that I made the toile up in a size 10 and found it a bit tight so cut more like a size 12 for the finished garment.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes I would, and I would recommend the pattern to others, but only experienced sewers able to understand the dodgy instructions and I'd offer to help!
I love the finished project, and am very proud of it, as my first properly tailored item of clothing. I made a toile first and then was very careful doing each step, which meant I made a lot less mistakes than I can often do. No unpicking was necessary! I think I would make it again in a slightly thinner fabric, perhaps in black, and would add a full lining as the tweed fabric is quite itchy and I wear this one with a cardi underneath.
The dress I'm wearing in this picture is made from the Lilou pattern in Love at First Stitch by Tilly and the Buttons... a review will follow at some point!
Emily Kate

Friday, 24 October 2014

Homemade Wedding Favours

I think a few years ago before the recession, the average wedding cost was said to be around $25,000 in the US, and £18,000 over here in the UK. Now due to the economic slowdown everyone is looking to cut costs. Coupled with the fact that people are moving away from the world of mass manufacture and wanting something handmade and unique, making bits and bobs for your wedding yourself and with family and friends is becoming very popular.

Now when I eventually get married, I'm intending to make absolutely anything and everything I can for my wedding. Not just to save costs and because Mr Makes is rather stingy, but because that's what I love to do. However I realise that's not everyone's bag. But something like making your own favours can be a really lovely handmade touch, not too time consuming, cheap and unique to you.
So when a family member got married a couple of weeks ago and asked me to help do the favours I was happy to help. The groom is Welsh and they were getting married in Cardiff so we decided to do miniature welsh cakes for the favours.

All you need for making your own favours like this is some cellophane wrap, you can get this online, from florists shops, and they even sell it in the Danish shop Tiger. I like the stuff with polka dots. And you need some ribbon, perhaps to match your colour theme, and maybe some little labels (although these aren't essential) Lastly of course your treat to put inside, you could make your favourite cookie recipe, little rocky roads or brownies, or even some fudge. If you don't fancy making something yourself you could buy it instead, although that would make them a bit more costly.

All you need to do is make a little pile of the treats in the middle of a square of cellophane, bring up the corners to meet in the middle and scrunch together carefully without crushing what's inside. Get someone to hold it while you cut a length of ribbon and wrap it around, tying in a bow and curling the ends. Tie on the labels, and you're done!

Emily Kate

Friday, 17 October 2014

Geometric Tapestry Crochet Clutch Bag

In the summer I decided I wanted to learn to crochet, in order to make a granny blanket (still a work in progress!) and then I saw in Mollie Makes a quirky crochet clutch bag. So fast forward a couple of months of a bit of crocheting here and there and I decided I was ready to tackle this tapestry crochet, a technique for creating colourwork patterns in crochet.

I'm not usually a big fan of crochet bags/garments, but I think the geometric pattern and leather flap make this much more stylish than your average crochet bag. It is also big enough to carry books and/or a laptop. Infact its probably best to use it for books and carry under your arm, I find mine is rather floppy and stretches if it doesn't have a book in it to keep the rectangular shape.

The tapestry crochet I found pretty straightforward, although it does require a bit of brainwork to make sure you pick up/put down threads in the right place, and also to make sure you always leave the yarn on the wrong side of your work, I didn't see that mentioned in the magazine article. Your yarn does get in quite a mess, but I found it easier to just sit on the sofa in a mess of yarn all around me and it sorts itself out as you loose balls of yarn. Best to have someone handy to fetch things though....

Now one major issue I had with this project were the instructions in the magazine. This is only my second crochet project so really I didn't have a clue what I was doing, but following the instructions for the first 12 lines or so, before the pattern started, I found my bag getting really quite long, quite quickly. After 12 lines my bag was already 6/7" long, and there are 90 lines to the pattern. It does quite clearly say that each line is double crochet, but from looking at the pictures and the colourwork pattern, I deduced that there had been a fairly major boo-boo of the pattern being written in single crochet, and then telling you to double crochet everything. So I unwound the project back to the start, and halved the amount of rows. Each row of the bag corresponded to 2 rows of the colourwork pattern in the magazine. And then it all made a lot more sense and was the right size!

This video, if you can look past the cringe 80's shirt may help with your tapestry crochet...


Emily Kate

Friday, 10 October 2014

Paris Skyline Pillow

So this is really going to be a post of pictures... After rather a looong time intending to do, and never really getting around to it, I have eventually made another skyline pillow to add to my London, New York and Bristol collection.

I chose the buildings that really make Paris, Paris, at least for me. The Eiffel tower, Sacre Coeur, the Louvre pyramid, Notre Dame and the Arc de Triumph. I also added a little red thread in the metro sign, and a little red heart to dot the I in Paris.

So if you're a lover of Paris and want to inject a bit of French style to your home.... why not head over to my Etsy shop and treat yourself or someone you love to a new throw pillow. And here's London and New York!
Emily Kate

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Autumn Apple Caramel Cupcakes

Whilst doing my shopping the other week I discovered that the 14th - 21st september was infact National Cupcake Week. So I thought of a suitably autumnal cupcake theme, apples, of course and then eventually well after the week had ended, I got around to making them.
I had originally intended to make these cider and apple cupcakes, a nod to my home county of Somerset, the home of cider. They ended up being apple caramel for several reasons, partly because Mr Makes doesn't drink alcohol, and largely because going to buy some seemed like a lot of effort.
Anyway...on to the recipe.
For the cupcakes:
110g butter/margarine
80g granulated sugar
120g dark brown sugar
2 eggs
175g plain flour
100g of plain yoghurt
1 tsp of baking powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
I tsp ground cinnamon
Two good-sized eating apples, grated.
For the icing:
50g dark brown sugar
200g butter/margarine
250g icing sugar
One small apple for decoration.
Large pinch of nutmeg
  • Preheat the oven to 180C and line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.
  • Cream the two sugars and margarine together until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs one at a time, and the vanilla essence.
  • Sift together the flour, spices and baking powder, and add to the mixture along with the yoghurt, alternating a bit of each at a time.
  • Mix in the grated apple and spoon into the prepared cases.
  • Bake for 12-15 mins, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  • Whilst the cakes are baking, for the icing melt 50g of the butter with the brown sugar over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside until cool.
  • Beat the remaining butter and add the icing sugar. Add the caramel mixture to it and beat until fully combined.
  • Pipe onto the cooled cupcakes with a star shaped nozzle in a spiral from the outside in.
  • For the apple crisps cut thin slices of apple, sprinkle with cinnamon, and bake in the oven for 3-5 mins on a baking tray.
  • Cut each one in half and place on top of the icing swirl. I also used some excess caramel to dribble over the top for decoration.
Now these are pretty sweet, so I wouldn't go crazy, but they make a lovely 3pm tea-time treat.
Emily Kate

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Clemence Skirt

I did a brief review on Tilly's book 'Love at First Stitch', a while back after I got it for my birthday in July. Writing that down I realise it was less than 3 months ago, but I've already made both the Clemence and Delphine Skirt (which wants to autocorrect to dolphin!) and also the Lilou dress. I've also just bought some fabric to make the Megan dress. Eventually I will get around to reviewing all of these patterns, but surely the fact I've made pretty much everything in the book (and plan to make the others) is testimony to just how great this book is. If you are thinking of taking up sewing, or know someone who is, BUY THIS. If like me, you have been sewing a while and want to fill your wardrobe with great staples BUY THIS. Seriously, you've got to have a pretty good reason not to have this book on your shelf.

Anyway on to the pattern.....

It's basically an introduction to making your own patterns, as its just a collection of rectangles that need to be adjusted to your measurements. When taking your measurements BE HONEST.... I'm getting to that age where I no longer have the metabolism of a teenager/student, and I'm carrying a few more pounds than i'd like, so I pulled the tape a little tight when I measured my waist, and it is a tad tighter than i'd like it to be. I've heard the best way to find your natural waist is to hold the tape together higher up, under your bust, then wiggle about a bit until the tape slips down to your natural waist.
I used a beautiful medium-weight quilting cotton in an ivory/grey foliage print with yellow birds on it, and had a few issues deciding which way the print should be. I worked it out, only to mess up and do the waistband pattern perpendicular, but I don't think anyone will notice really....

The instructions for the pattern are great, I've done quite a bit of gathering before, but Tilly gives really great advice on how to do it so it is completely even, such as making sure to stitch with the gathers on top which I stupidly haven't done previously. She also explains well how to 'stitch in the ditch' which despite a lot of googling in the past I've never really understood why I had to do it.

I did think the first time I wore my skirt that perhaps with the reasonably thick fabric I should have done a few less gathers, as I usually wear things that sit on my hips, and I felt it was sticking out quite a bit. However after seeing photos of me in it, I think its really quite flattering, and I will definitely be making another, perhaps for next summer. Tilly suggests medium-weight fabrics, but I fancy doing it in a lightweight cotton or viscose, I think it could be really cute, although may need a lining slip.

The background is the beautiful Minnewater lake and park in Bruges, Belgium.

Emily Kate