Sunday, 31 January 2016

Vintage Pledge 2016

I'm signing up for the Vintage Pledge 2016!
I discovered it at the end of last year and thought about joining in, but decided to leave it till 2016. Fast forward to now and I've got a fair bit on my sewing plate what with the wedding and all... So I decided what better time to attempt my first vintage pattern than after all the stress of wedding planning is over?
MY #VintagePledge
During 2016, I, Emily Kate, pledge to sew two vintage patterns, starting in July!

I actually don't have any vintage patterns in my stash at the moment...but what better excuse to buy some? I always root through patterns at the flea market but I'm not much of an impulse buyer, I like to take the time to research patterns and fabric before committing.
Since 2015 was the year I fell in love with the 1950's silhouette, as seen in my multiple Betty dresses, I cant wait to tackle some authentic 1950's patterns. Maybe i'll even finish knitting my vintage pattern jumper!

Emily Kate.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

A Naked...Cake!!

If you follow me on instagram you may have seen this behemoth of a cake recently... my practice wedding cake. Yes, yes I am making my own cake too. I had planned to do a practice of most things i'm making for the wedding, but this was also to prove a point to my mum and Mr-soon-to-be-Makes that I was perfectly capable of making my own cake too, and it wouldn't look terrible.
Although I spend much more time sewing nowadays; I make a mean Victoria sponge (if I do say so myself). After a few recipe tweaks over the years I would even go as far as saying it's as good as Grannys! (Check out this post for tips)

I do like fondant icing, but I can take it or leave it really, and I can't stand your standard wedding fruit cake. Personsally, I find the plain white wedding cakes quite old-fashioned nowadays and a naked sponge cake is just so delightfully English, (much like me!). So I always knew i'd like a sponge, and when naked cakes became the latest wedding craze I thought I could probably wrangle doing that myself.

Each layer is a different flavour cake. The bottom is carrot cake with cream cheese icing, the middle a plain Victoria sponge with raspberry jam and buttercream and the top is lemon sponge with lemon curd and lemon buttercream. The diameter of the tiers is 6", 9" and 12" as I decided that would allow a wide enough edge for decoration, rather than only a 2" difference. I made 2 cakes for the top two tiers, so 4 layers in total and 1 1/2 cakes for the bottom, or 3 layers.
I made each cake a week in advance, waited until it was cooled completely then wrapped in clingfilm and tinfoil and popped in the freezer. When assembling I waited until the cakes had defrosted before unwrapping them, then used a piping bag to pipe buttercream on each layer, adding extra around the edge. After sandwiching the next layer on top I used a palette knife to scrape of the excess, leaving a 'grouted' effect on the sides.
For decoration I used some strawberries and blueberries and a few cheap supermarket flowers, but when it comes to the big day I'm planning to use some lavender as we're using it as a key flower. I've also got plans to whip up a little cake topper...which might even get it's own post.
Now to the most important did it taste?
Well I was worried it might dry out in the freezing stage, but if anything that makes it more moist as its frozen as soon as its baked. Also having buttercream only inside rather than around the edges too makes it sweet without being too sweet. It was a damn good tasting, simple cake!
Did you spot the Star Wars mug?!
Emily Kate.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Wedding Dress Progress...A Finished Toile

So far my New Years resolution is going rather well. I've resisted going to any fabric stores, (my last trip was before Christmas!) and I've not sewn anything at all apart from cushions ordered from the shop and my wedding dress.

Before Christmas all I had done was purchase a pattern to work from, Simplicity 4070 and made one toile of the bodice part of the dress. Skip forward to now and I'm waiting for the silk I've ordered to arrive and I'm ready to start the actual dress!

I found altering the toile really difficult at first because I've only ever made alterations to bodices with darts, rather than princess seams. Its also something you really need the help of another person for, and as I just live with Mr-soon-to-be-Makes it was difficult to find the time to get someone else to help. I ended up putting things off (so unusual for me...) for most of December, and then a few days after Christmas whilst back at my parents, I did another bodice toile which was a lot closer to the mark.
I actually lost the bodice pattern pieces I had originally traced from the paper pattern, so had to retrace them and start again. This time I decided to cut a straight size 12 rather than grading up at the waist as my measurements suggested I should do, and the resulting fit was much better. ...I really don't understand why in a pattern that is designed to be both strapless and an occasion dress, there should be any ease at all in the bodice. Other alterations I have done are as follows:
  •  I took in the seams above the bust point, as the bodice was sticking out rather than following the curve of my bust.
  • The neckline was not particularly sweetheart at all, so I deepened the curve and made it much more pronounced.
  • I also added around 3/8 of an inch or 1m at the front of the bodice, as it was sitting lower at the back.
My first go at using boning I found to be very straightforward, I'm not sure what all the fuss is about! The only issue I have had is that I should have cut it a little shorter, as the seams either side of the sweetheart neckline are sticking up into a bit of a point and the lining is rolling to the front.
The skirt pattern of Simplicity 4070 view E, is actually a half circle skirt. I did sew this up first but found it just wasn't going to be full enough for what I had in mind. I then used the skirt pattern from my Betty dress instead, but the seams don't line up, so i'll be moving them for the real dress.
The Betty Dress pattern from Sew Over It has also come in handy when it comes to the overlay. I used the bodice pattern as it already had the v back and straps I was looking for, but moved the straps over a bit at a time until they were in the right place. I also straightened the back edge from the slight curve it had already.
Last weekend I visited a seamstress friend of ours who's coming to the wedding, for her help on fitting. I was so chuffed to find there wasn't much I had to do at all, just take in the front bodice seams a little more above and below the bust point. It really has to be so much tighter than you think! But on the plus side that should mean its not going anywhere after a spot of dancing and I won't have to do the dreaded un-bridal like pull up of the dress. Also as it's not tight actually on my stomach...plenty of room for CAKE!
I also made a quick mock up of the overlay in extremely thin cheap tulle, that you can barely see on the photo, which also fit surprisingly well!
So what's next? The silk should be arriving on Monday... my brand new Fiskars shears arrived yesterday. I have new needles for my machine, thread and hand sewing needles, and new pins. I even bought a new ironing board cover as the old one is looking pretty icky.
I think i'm about as ready as I can be!
Just doing some spinning...
Emily Kate.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Geometric Print Pencil Skirt

Although I've now been sewing for 2 and half years, I've somehow never gotten around to sewing one of the most simple wardrobe staples, a pencil skirt. I have to admit I'm not much of a pencil skirt wearer, I always think of them as for smart, elegant women in offices and that's really not me. Not to mention I often cycle or walk several miles each day, and there's no classy way to get on a bike in a tight skirt, even if I was so inclined.
However, I saw several beautiful heavyweight cotton prints in my local fabric shop before Christmas and decided this one would make a great autumn/winter pencil skirt. I love the geometric, Aztec style print, but I think it's really something you don't want too much of. I can't imagine doing an entire dress in this print, but its great for a skirt, bag or even jacket.
The pattern I used is from the second Great British Sewing Bee book, Sew Your Own Wardrobe. I find this book quite frustrating a lot of the time, as the patterns I've used had mistakes and missing dots and notches all over the place. The size chart is also in a difficult place to find, and the pattern measurements aren't then listed anywhere near the pattern to remind you of which size to cut. However it has a lot of patterns in it including some great wardrobe staples and even a few men's and children's projects. So all things considered I think it's still pretty good value for money.
I cut a size 14 going by my measurements, but found it to be too big around the waist. Even after taking the side seams in, it's still not quite tight enough. It has a tendency to wiggle down round my hips rather than sit nicely on my waist...which I think results in a much more unflattering fit. Although I am pleasantly surprised at how my legs look quite long in these photos?! 
The instructions are O.K, but I still had to look up how to do a skirt vent online as I wasn't sure I had understood it correctly from the instructions, and ended up doing a slightly different method. 
The pattern also didn't mention understitching the facing, which I decided to do, or any method of stitching down the facing so it won't turn out. I decided to tack the facing to the side seams and darts to keep it on the inside, but as the fabric was so thick and reversible I could probably have stitched it down all the way round, if I could be bothered.
I'm pretty chuffed with my pattern matching skills too, there's the odd slip up down the back seam, but generally the side seams aren't noticeable at all. I also managed to get the whole skirt from 1 metre of fabric quite easily, when the pattern suggests 1.7m!
This may have been my first pencil skirt but I don't think it'll be my last!

Emily Kate.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

My New Year's Sewing Resolution 2016

I don't know about you, but I always feel that New Year resolutions should start on the 2nd January. New Years Day is about waking up at noon, finding there's no milk and just about summoning the energy to go to the shops to stock up on supplies for a film marathon.
No? Just me then. I refuse to believe anyone really starts there New Year diet or fitness regime on the 1st.
This year my resolution is a little bit odd for a it is not to sew.
Or at least to sew just one thing, and nothing else. No trousers, no summer dresses, no jumpsuits....just a wedding dress. And two bridesmaid dresses, if I get that done.
Despite knowing since the end of September exactly what I wanted for my wedding dress, I've done very little about it since then. I am literally the queen of procrastination. I'll buy a new pattern and be distracted by that, or decide I need a new dress for a dinner party.
So no. Just no. I pledge I will not sew anything until my wedding dress is (almost) complete. That is until I no longer dread people asking me how it's going.
But don't fret, this doesn't mean the blog will be on standby. I made a few things last year i've yet to blog about and then there'll be a few work-in-progress posts. The first in just a couple of weeks hopefully!
What are your new year sewing plans and resolutions?
Emily Kate.