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

Sunday, 14 September 2014

One Week One Pattern 2014

After doing Me Made May this year, where you have to wear at least one handmade item/garment each day of the year, I was keen to do another sewing challenge. So when I heard about One Week One Pattern hosted by Handmade Jane this year I decided to give it ago. The idea is to have a few different versions of one pattern, and then wear a differently styled outfit featuring one each day.
I couldnt decide what pattern to use, I had ideas for a couple of different Mimi blouses, from Tilly's Love at First Stitch but hadn't really left enough time to sew a few versions. Then I decided to maybe do another couple of versions of the button-back blouse, even a dress version, but again it was a bit late.
So I decided to use the tunic pattern from the first Great British Sewing Bee book. After my original version, I've already made 3 other versions, 2 tops and my colour block dress hack. I've been hankering after a lace top or dress for a while so thought this was perhaps the perfect opportunity to make a version of the tunic in lace.
I've finally got a phone that's instagram- enabled so I've been taking a photo of my outfit each day to here they all are.
This is one of my favourite dresses nowadays, and Mr Makes too, he calls it my sunshine dress!
I used the scallop hem tutorial on the Collette website for this top, I think the poplin fabric was a touch too stiff though, they can stick out a bit. 
This is the first tunic I made, in a beautiful liberty flower print, goes well with my green jeans. 
This one is a shorter version, in a heart print viscose that I accidentally made with the hearts upside down.
Here it's teamed with my nautical Delphine skirt.
The last version is my new lace one. It's just some low-cost eyelash lace fabric from china, and I used a purple/grey viscose for the lining. Instead of facing, I made up a top in each fabric and sewed them together at the neckline and armholes. It took me several tries though and lots of unpicking before I realised how to do it! I used a zigzag stich for the lace then cut away the excess, leaving a not particularly visible seam. I made the lace top layer a little longer than the lining to show off the eyelash scallops at the bottom.  

Emily Kate.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Learning to Crochet.

I've been wanting to learn to crochet for ages, as I've always wanted a granny square throw blanket. I tried a while back, by watching a few youtube videos, but I didn't quite understand which hole I was supposed to be putting the hook through, or how the square was constructed of stitches.

So then I tried again a week ago and found this great video by Jayda. She takes it really slow, and really explains how the square is constructed with double crochet stitches.

I decided for my blanket to do lots of small 3 round squares in coordinating colours, like this beautiful blanket.

I wanted the same kind of random colour effect, but decided to choose just a few colours that go together pretty well. I'm not sure Mr Makes would be a huge fan of a really colourful one either...

So here are all the colours I chose:

The blues are a bit lighter than they look, and I've decided to do extra ivory squares, so the blanket doesn't look too dark. The wool is all acrylic and double knit and I'm using a 4mm hook. And here's how I'm getting on.... this is really only after a couple of hours work, I think it should grow actually pretty quick.

Rather than stitch all the squares together later, I've used the join as you go technique, which is so much easier and means you can decide on the order of the colours as you go too.
I have to admit that I've never been a huge fan of crochet, I prefer the look of lines of knitting rather than crochet, and there is often quite a lot a naff crocheted stuff out there. However since I've started I've found lots of things I can't wait to make, including an oversized clutch from Mollie Makes I'm going to attempt soon!
Emily Kate

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Perfect Lemony Cheesecake

Before I left home to go to music university, I couldn't really cook at all. I knew how to make a cake and could do pasta and jacket potatoes, but that was pretty much it. However when I had to cook, I realised I really enjoyed it and baking in particular. Mr Makes would come to visit every other weekend and I'd make a big effort to bake a new dessert each time. This was the first cheesecake I ever made, just a simple recipe from a student cookbook but it was a big winner and quickly became one of his favourites! Its super quick and easy to make, just needs to be made in advance of any dinner plans so it can set properly. Its also very light due to the jelly, so its pretty easy to consume a whole one between a couple of people in a short space of time.... I'm assuming of course...I'd never do such a thing.

For the base:
200g of digestive biscuits
85g of melted butter or margarine
1tbsp of brown sugar

For the filling:
A pack of lemon jelly
200g of cream cheese such as Philadelphia
4tbsps of caster sugar
Zest and juice of one lemon
1 300ml carton of double cream
Pinch of cinnamon

  • Grease a loose bottomed flan/tart tin.
  • Break up the lemon jelly into a mug and fill up the mug with boiling water. Tip into a jug and add another 1/4 of a mug of boiling water. Stir until the jelly is dissolved and set aside to cool.
  • Crush the digestives and mix with the brown sugar. Add the melted butter and pack into the bottom of the tart tin. Chill in the fridge.
  • Whisk together the caster sugar, lemon juice and zest and cream cheese.
  • Whisk up the cream in a separate bowl then mix into the cheese mixture. Add the cooled jelly mix gradually until it's fully incorporated.
  • Pour into the tin and put in the fridge to set for at least 5-6 hours.
  • Sprinkle with cinnamon and add a lemon slice for decoration before serving.

Emily Kate.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Tote Bag from Great British Sewing Bee Book

I've been sewing like a fiend this summer (although not blogging like one!) as I bought lots of fabric with birthday money and have loads of new patterns to try out with my two new books. However I realised if I carried on at the rate I was going my little flat was going to end up full of clothes and maybe it was about time I sewed something other than dresses and skirts. The bag featured in the first GBSB has been on my list for ages so I decided to get around to it. You can always do with another tote bag, especially as its the perfect size for books or in my case, music.

After rather a long time looking at all the exciting upholstery fabric in Fabric Galore, I settled on a oldly world map print, which suits me pretty well being a bit of a geography geek.
The pattern was relatively easy to follow, even if the wording was confusing in places. Although I realised it only told you to stitch the tabs on to the front of the hag, with no mention of the back. Luckily I realised, but again mistakes that could be easily rectified with a good proof reading GBSB!
It was also my first go at sewing leather, or in my case pleather, which I found a bit tricky. Tip: practice on scraps first to get the stitch length/tension correct!

Anyhoo, overall I'm happy with my bag and intend to make it again. I think I would add a zip or popper though for securities sake, maybe even a pocket or two for the oyster card...

Emily Kate.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Pattern Review: Burda Prairie Shirt Dress #107 04/2011

This was my first attempt at a burda pattern, not famed for being easy for (relative) beginners. This has been on my list for ages as I loved the style and have wanted a casual shirt dress for ages. I made sure to read each stage through many times, and I'm pretty happy with the result.

Pattern Description: 
A modern prairie classic with a short collar, full skirt and frayed hems. Difficulty: intermediate.
Pattern Sizing:
 Size 36-44
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes it kind of does, but before I made the alterations for it to be more fitted around the waistline.
Were the instructions easy to follow?
 Compared to other patterns I've done, no. But from what I've heard about Burda patterns being impossible to decipher, it wasn't too bad. But at no point does it to tell you to stitch the buttons on!
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I don't understand why there was a need for buttons that were concealed where the two skirts joined, if they weren't going to be used, so I didn't do them.  I was unsure about the frayed edges at first, but went with it anyway, and I think they do fit with the boho look and feel of the dress. I also found it to be much too loose around the waist, making it rather unflattering on me before I did alterations.
Fabric Used:
A floaty soft cotton with a leafy print from Walthamstow market.
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I didn't do the frayed edge at the part where the bodice meets the sort as I thought it might be a bit messy, I also didn't have the button band extending over that seam as I didn't quite twig that bit of the pattern till it was too late. After I had made up the whole dress, I added darts in the waist seam either side of the front and back seams to take out the excess fabric there was in the waist.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I wouldn't sew it again, as its quite a particular style of dress I think you only need one of. I would recommend it to others, but suggest they check the bodice fit.
It's a nice floaty summer dress with a boho feel to it. Although I was disappointed when the waist was too big, after the alterations it looks much better, and the belt breaks up the print as theres a lot of fabric. Its not my favourite dress I've made but I'm happy with it and it has had quite a bit of wear already.

Emily Kate

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Flea Market Shopping

My parents have always gone for a traditional / country living style of home decor rather than the modern chrome/minimalist style that came into fashion a few years ago. Well they are country bumpkins after all, what do you expect! So when they bought a Victorian house and started renovating, they filled it with vintage furniture. They found a flea market not too far away, and have been regulars ever since.
The 'shabby chic' style of home decor is very much in fashion at the moment, and there's stores and market stalls full of upcycled wooden furniture painted in Annie Sloane or Farrow and Ball paint. But if you find a good market you can cut out the middle man and get a bargain, whilst also giving a once-loved piece of furniture a new home.

So here are a few of our bargain buys!

A lovely ceramic bread bin.
A chest I'm going to sand, wax and use for keeping shoes in, when I have a bit more room!
A hallway cabinet or chest.

This is my favourite, a small cabinet that my dad made into a washbasin by cutting a hole in the top and fitting a ceramic sink bowl in. 

So if you've never visited a flea market, why not give it a try. Pinterest is brilliant for ideas for quirky upcycling projects and you can even find some great vintage fabric and clothing.

Emily Kate