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

Friday, 18 July 2014

Messy Eton Mess...with a twist.

Eton mess is one of those classic English desserts that everyone's heard of, and every gastropub in the country now serves. Legend has it, it came about at Eton after a Pavlova or meringue dessert of sorts was dropped accidentally... much like the story of the tarte tatin. However Wikipedia tells me this is just urban myth and has been around much longer. Anyway whatever the origin, its become quite a fashionable dessert in restaurants recent years but is so ridiculously easy to make, why not do it yourself.

Now I've never been much of a fan of the recent craze in catering of adding an unusual ingredient to things, which somehow works. Hell, I don't even like sweet and sour curry or ham and pineapple. However I was recently brave enough to try the 'ol balsamic vinegar and strawberries tip, and I have to say it really works, really bringing out the flavour of the strawberries. Apologies for the photos... it really is impossible to make Eton mess look anything other than a mess.

300ml double cream
6-8 meringues (go for it if you want to make your own, but mostly I think lifes too short.)
300g punnet of strawberries
1tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tip icing sugar

  • Add 5-6 medium strawberries, hulled, to a blender and blend until mostly smooth.
  • Add the icing sugar and vinegar and blitz again, add more vinegar to taste if preffered.
  • Whisk the cream until stiff peaks form, and break in the meringues.
  • Hull the remaining strawberries and cut in half, add to the cream mix.
  • Serve in bowls or large glasses and drizzle the balsamic/strawberry sauce on top.

This should serve 4 people. It should. Doesn't mean to say it has to though.


Emily Kate

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Salme Playsuit Pattern Review

I've never really seen myself as the sort of person who would wear a playsuits/jumpsuit. Frankly there's a lot of pretty awful ones out there, but recently they've become a bit more stylish and flattering. So I put a playsuit on my list of things to sew for the summer, and after a bit of googling, came across this pattern from Salme patterns Etsy shop. They have some really nice looking everyday wear patterns and are pretty reasonably priced at around £4 ($6).

I used the navy cotton with white polka dots I bought from The Man Outside Sainsbury's at Walthamstow market, and although I thought at first it was a little stiff for a casual fitting item, after a few wears out and a wash I think it works rather well.

Pattern Description:
Playsuit Pattern. Beginner/Intermediate difficulty

Pattern Sizing:
 Size 4-16 US, 6-18 UK
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes. Phew
Were the instructions easy to follow?
 Reasonably, as there were no particularly difficult techniques needed. However I think for a beginner pattern it needed more guidance on which sides should be together when and just generally more intricate details. It assumes a reasonable amount of knowledge already, I only knew how to do a crotch seam from my pyjamas.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I like the end product, although I think there is quite a lot of room in the bodice. I like the ease of the poppers, but they refuse to lie flat. I think there could have been more diagrams in the instructions, and the two pocket lining pieces were different shapes but the same in one of the diagrams.
Fabric Used:
Navy polka dot cotton
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I changed the shape of the pocket lining number 1 piece to match the number 2 piece as I couldn't understand why they were different, as they were the same in the diagram.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I may sew it again, although I'm not sure how many playsuits one person needs! I would recommend it to others.
It's a really comfortable, cute item of clothing great for summer days and cycling, although perhaps not the most flattering due to the extra space in the bodice.
And here it is in action on a Boris bike!

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Birthday Presents!

It was a year ago yesterday I started my sewing life, as I received a sewing machine for my birthday. A year on, and I now follow a 'make not buy' philosophy, making almost all of my clothes so far this year. The reason I got into sewing in the first place was by reading craft/sewing blogs and also the first series of the Great British Sewing Bee. So I've been a regular follower of Tilly from Tilly and the Buttons fame, and when I heard her book was out, it was the first thing on my birthday list, along with the new Sewing Bee 'sew your own wardrobe' book.

I've had a quick read through of each of the them, so here's a quick review!

Tilly's 'Love at First Stitch' book is aimed at those who are just starting to sew, and haven't made anything before. It has only 7 patterns, but ideas for at least one variation on each of them. It also includes the pattern pieces so there's no printing and sticking one hundred million pieces of A4 paper together. Not that that bothers me usually... although the patterns are printed on both sides of the sheet, and over the side which can be as little inconvenient.

The patterns themselves are in my opinion, gorgeous, and I intend to make every single one of them, although they are aimed at a pretty specific demographic of teen-40 year old wish women that I fall into. The steps for each pattern are incredibly detailed and helpful, with photos rather than diagrams, with a colour coded system so you can skip the instructions for a particular technique if you are already able to do it.

My favourite thing about the book is the design variations she includes for each pattern, so you could make several items from the same pattern that are different at the same time, it also encourages you to come up with design ideas yourself. I did think that this book may actually be a year late for me, as I started sewing a year ago and have already sewn a fair few items of clothing. However it is full of great wardrobe staple patterns I think I will make again and again, with also clear instructions for techniques to refer to when you forget.

The Great British Sewing Bee 'Sew your own wardrobe' book is another aimed at beginner sewers, and is an improvement on the book accompanying the first series as it includes the pattern pieces, although they are a little jumbled over 5 pieces of paper. It also includes 'masterclasses', pages where they give detailed instructions on techniques, including the lapped zip I could not master on the tunic from the first book! However the pattern instructions still use diagrams which aren't particularly clear.

 The patterns included in the book include the best ones from the series, like the 60's coat and 1930's vintage blouse, and also men and children's patterns, so appealing to a wider range of home sewers.

However I have already started one of the patterns in the book and have already found several mistakes in the pattern and instructions. Firstly notches that didn't match up to anything, and different shaped pieces in the diagram. Frankly I found this surprising, and a great shame, as otherwise the book is great but as it is aimed at beginner sewers it could be entirely confusing. The mistakes just seem like something that could easily be solved with some proof reading!

So there you go. As you know, I'm not a big fan of reviewing pattern books without actually having used the patterns yet, as that's what really makes or breaks a book... so stay tuned for reviews on most of the patterns included in both books... eventually!

Emily Kate