Just in time for Christmas, there's a couple of new throw pillows appearing in the shop this week. A lovely purple smile one, and a 'shhh..' in blue. I used an italic font for these two, and I love the effect it creates.
If you'd like one of these to brighten up your living room this winter, then just head over to my Etsy shop. Others colours are quite possible on request if you ask nicely. :)
A few years ago, I spent my autumn term of college on an Erasmus placement in the city of Lyon in France. I'm heading back for a visit in just a few weeks so thought it was about time I shared one of my favourite desserts...
Its a beautiful city and I loved the French way of life of buying basically everything fresh, fruit, veg and dairy, at the local market for a bargain price. One of the only things I would buy at the supermarket was brioche, a sweet bread that is sold absolutely everywhere, even in the local corner shop. I could sit and eat an entire loaf, with nothing on it, just for breakfast.
One of my favourite things to cook whilst I lived in France was this chocolate brioche bread and butter pudding, the perfect marriage between a French bread and classic English dessert. I found a recipe online, but its long since been lost. Delia's is the closest recipe I've come across, but I've made a few changes.
12 slices of brioche bread from a loaf
200g dark chocolate
75g butter or margarine
425ml double cream
110g caster sugar
Pinch of cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
3 large eggs
Cut the crusts off the slices of bread and slice them in half, into triangles. Work out how you will arrange them in a shallow roasting/casserole dish.
Put all the other ingredients apart from the eggs into a large saucepan and hear over a very low heat.
Stir the mixture over the heat until the chocolate and butter have melted and the sugar has dissolved.
When the mixture has properly come together, whisk the eggs in a separate bowl and then pour the chocolate mixture over them.
Pour a small amount of the chocolate mix into the dish, then place the bread on top, packing the triangles in neatly.
Pour the rest of the chocolate mix on top and push down the bread with a fork. Leave to soak in for two hours on the side, then refrigerate for 24 hours, or as long as you can bare. If you don't the liquid doesn't soak though the bread properly, although it is still tasty..
Preheat the oven to 180C and bake for around 30-35 mins, until the top is crusty but its squidgy inside.
I can't say it looks too pretty, but it really does taste amazing. The perfect dessert for a cold winter evening. You could even grate a bit of orange in for a terrys chocolate orange style pudding, or add a dash of rum or baileys.
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.
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 planningto sew for ages and finally felt able to tackle! Pattern Description: Ladies Hacking Jacket
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.
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!
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!
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...
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!