frilly-nilly

frills give me thrills!

frills give me thrills!

Aren’t they lovely? I’m a little bit obsessed with frills and ruffles at the moment. Gathering bobbin threads and carefully pulling them to make the fabric twist and curl and look so pretty.

These particular frills belong to the latest apron i’ve made. I had some Cath Kidston fabric left over in my stash and decided to make my lovely mum a new pinny. I was tempted to have another go at the Amy Butler one i made before, as it turned out so well, but when i saw this 1950s frilly pinny i had to give it a go!

I found the pattern in issue 1 of Sew magazine. (I have to add here that i think Sew is the best magazine i’ve come across so far. Even though some of the patterns they give away free are a little old-fashioned, it does have a few nice bits in it – and next month it has some VERY nice 40s style dress patterns) This apron is based on a design from the book “The Perfect Apron” by Rob Merrett. The pattern was a doddle to do so i’m quite tempted to buy the book – it has 35 different apron patterns!

There were only a couple of glitches in this project…i bought my bias binding from Ely’s in Wimbledon (a quick Sunday rush shop so i could get on with this apron) and they only sold binding in 2.5m rolls. This meant i had to sew a couple of rolls together so i could make the extra long piece required for the all-in-one neck piece and waist ties. This was fine…although there is an annoying “bump” where the two pieces join which sometimes gets in the way when you’re tieing a bow at the back.

i <3 this pocket

i ❤ this pocket

The other good tip i’ve picked up since making this apron is that when attempting to ruffle 3m of fabric down to about 1.3m, it’s always a good idea to tack two rows of stitching close together and pull two rows of bobbin thread together. A recent dress pattern taught me this trick. I can’t believe i hadn’t discovered it before! it stopped me snapping countless pieces of thread when trying to make frills!

Anyhow, mum LOVED the apron so it was a fab little project and only took a few hours. I’m really loving my sewing machine at the moment. i’ve got a few more things to post on this blog soon – including two dresses and an old denim skirt i turned into a handbag – i’m VERY proud of it! i haven’t forgotten my crochet either…the blankie is still underway – slowly but surely i’m getting there! I’m going on holiday next week and will be packing up my crochet bag to try and knock out some more grannies.

mum loved her frilly apron!

mum loved her frilly apron

 I also took an embroidery class a couple of weeks ago at The Make Lounge so i’ve been busy stitching up a tea towel with some very funky Sublime Stitchin’ sushi patterns. I’m really enjoying it and am planning on making a few bits ad bobs that i can embroider and give to people as gifts. I thought napkins would be a nice place to start but am already dreaming of bigger projects – skirts with embroidered embellishment and  bags with funky designs stitched onto them. I keep finding myself going back to the Sublime Stitchin’ website and looking at all her kits – they’re all so nice and only $5 – BARGAIN!

July 11, 2009 at 3:37 pm Leave a comment

iSnug

I’ve been buying a lot of sewing magazines lately; Sewing World, Sew Hip and most recently the newly launched, Sew. For a newbie like me, i find them really useful. A lot of the patterns are pretty naff and i have no idea who they think would wear some of the clothes they feature (a tablecloth dress anyone?) but nevertheless, they contain some good tips and lots of really useful websites for tutorials and supplies. 

I found a fun little project in the June issue of Sew Hip – a laptop sleeve. Now, i already have a (pink) neoprene laptop wallet so didn’t necessarily need another one but with reams of pretty floral fabric to use up (left over from my first dress) i decided to give it a go.

Classed as a “beginner” pattern, it only had eight steps to follow so was a super-quick project to whip up. It was my first attempt at using wadding too. My local sewing shop (WimSew) didn’t have any fusible wadding so i fiddled around with some normal stuff and it worked just fine. The project was also useful for practising with bias binding – especially making sure it curved nicely around at the edges.

iSnug - the more flower, the better!

iSnug - the more flowers, the better!

Whilst the wadding isn’t that thick, it will definitely protect it from getting knocked about or scratched. I added a button to act as a fastener and the pattern recommends you can use pretty much anything, other than magnetic closures which can mess with the techhy stuff inside the laptop. I quite fancy trying a nice ribbon next time – something that can be threaded through a slit in the top section – a little like an old fashioned document wallet from years gone by

iBook loves his new home

iBook loves his new home

 

bright shiny button

bright shiny button

July 11, 2009 at 2:07 pm Leave a comment

grazing on a sunny afternoon

 

gimmick? or god-send?

gimmick? or god-send?

I like to think i’m not one of those people who jumps on the bandwagon of every little trend that appears. I try to avoid fashion disasters (wet-look leggings, hareem pants) and opt for a more *classic* look that should always be in style – that’s the idea anyway, whether i pull it off is another matter! I’m usually late to the party when it comes to new bands, spotify, the latest TV show, the new “it” bar in town etc. However, i think my resolve may have been broken with Graze.

I can’t remember where i first heard about Graze – must have been in a newspaper or somewhere online – the PR machine has most definitely been working. It’s a relatively simple concept – they post you food to snack on throughout the day. Your customised box should always include 3 of the coveted “five-a-day” which for me is fantastic as until chocolate gets added to the fruit and veg list, i struggle to get five-a-day.

I’ve opted to get the box twice a week. It’s £2.99 a pop so i’m trying to work out if its cheaper to get my food posted rather than picking it up during the weekly soul-destroying trip to Sainsbury’s. One of the best things i love about it is the fact that the fruit is literally ready to eat. i’m not a terribly fussy eater but i hate peeling oranges and getting messy fingers. I don’t like preparing pineapple at some god-awful hour in the morning to take to work with me. I hate apple skin. I suppose i am a *little* fussy :). So, for me, the fruit in the Graze box is fantastic.

The box is also full of dried fruit and nuts and a little “treat” – which for me, to date, has included dairy free chocolate buttons (healthy smarties if you will) and yoghurt covered apricots. Aside from these being super foods and helping to keep everything regular, i really wouldn’t bother buying them at the supermarket so it’s nice to try something new.

It’s worth checking out the website: www.graze.com as because they’re still new, there’s lots of offers to entice you in.

June 21, 2009 at 2:45 pm Leave a comment

a pinny for your thoughts

I picked up Amy Butler’s In Stitches book from Liberty’s Haberdashery  a few months back and have been waiting to have enough time to sit down and attempt one of her projects. Well, this week i MADE time! I’ve had some lovely russian dolly fabric in my stash for a while  – about a yard or so – and thought it would get used up on some bag linings. But when i found the apron pattern in In Stitches, there was no other option than to use it for that!

The pattern requires additional fabric for the trim  – a little around the top and bottom edges and also to edge the pocket and make the gorgeous apron ties. I picked up some brown and cream polka dot super-cheap fabric from WimSew in Tooting for about £2.50 a yard – it matched perfectly.

polly pocket

polly pocket

The project went fairly smoothly – Amy writes all her pattern instructions in inches which isn’t terribly helpful for us metric Brits but that didn’t prove to be too much of a stumbling block. Her pocket measurements are also a little on the small side (i’m not sure what you’d *usefully* be able to put in a pocket that size) so i think i’ll make a bigger one next time – and possibly make it a double-pocket – in the centre of the apron. She also adds a little hook on the side for carrying a tea towel around with you, whilst cooking. I did add the hook (which is quite useful for hanging it up) but personally, i wouldn’t like to carry a tea towel around on my apron, spoiling it’s lovely look. (unless of course, it was a beautiful hand embroidered tea towel – maybe then it would be a different story!)

I think it took me about 7 hours from start to finish, including drawing out the pattern. I’m SO pleased with how it turned out – i feel like a proper 1950s housewife when i’m wearing it! It has to be worn high up on the waist – almost in a matronly fashion. The russian dolly fabric is from the Japanese collection on Fabric Rehab – a brilliant website for the prettiest (and not super expensive) fabrics.

Sadly the apron hasn’t inspired me to set about cleaning my house like a 1950s housewife but i guess you can’t have everything!

1950s loveliness

1950s loveliness

 

beautiful chocolate and cream bow

beautiful chocolate and cream bow

The pattern was great for practising little pleats  – there are about 12 of them all the way along the front edge. They give the apron a lovely shape. I spotted another apron pattern in new magazine Sew yesterday. It’s a full-body apron but has the cutest frill edging along the bottom. I still need to practice ruffling/frilling as i think i often pull my bobbin thread too much and it ends up snapping 😦 but then, that could mean my thread isn’t very strong. So that apron is definitely one i’m going to try next.

Now, it’s Saturday and definitely time to get my sew on again! i’m going to pull on my apron (known affectionately as my *cinders* apron) and have a go at making some knickers…watch this space for pictures of my success/failure!

sewing? Baking? YAY - Cleaning? Yuck

sewing? Baking? YAY - Cleaning? Yuck

June 13, 2009 at 1:07 pm 2 comments

california dreaming

It feels like i haven’t blogged for ages and i guess that’s because i haven’t . I’ve been lucky enough to travel with work recently and spent some time in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Although I’ve visited both before, it’s always fun to go back – they seem to embody the two extremes of American culture…the gross all-out indulgent, over-the-top stereotype yanks in Vegas – to the fake stick-thin pneumatic blonde clones in LA. Both are great places to people watch!

viva Las Vegas!

viva Las Vegas!

Despite being in LA for work, we managed to pack in a fair amount of fun stuff too. I have a particular soft spot for Santa Monica. I suppose it’s the Brighton of California (which seriously bigs-up Brighton!) and this year we took part in our now annual tradition of renting cruiser bikes and cycling south to Marina del Rey along the beach path. It’s an amazing route, passing Muscle beach, then on down past the hippy shops and tattoo parlours in Venice Beach passing runners and roller bladers out enjoying the scenery as well.  This year was a little different though. I’d been doing some research before i left as i’ve deseprately wanted a cruiser bike of my own for some time. Well, i found a shop in Culver City and on my last day i headed there, hopeful that i would find one that they could ship back to the UK for me. Despite an initial hiccup (the shop not shipping to the UK) i contacted Virgin Atlantic who fly bikes back for FREE as they’re classed as sports equipment – so, in short, Hooray…here is my new set of wheels:

my sweet new ride

my sweet new ride (and wilfred)

I’ve already been out and about in my little corner of south-west London showing it off and have attracted quite a few stares! I don’t think i’ll be riding it on the road though as with those handle bars it can be a little wobbly sometimes to say the least! it also doesn’t have conventional brakes – it has coasters – which means you have to peddle backwards to make it stop. Not terribly practical for all the red lights in London town.

I’m hoping to take it down to Brighton soon though and try and re-create some of that Santa Monica magic! Let’s hope for an *amazing* hot summer!

June 12, 2009 at 2:38 pm Leave a comment

my love is like a…cup cake

I was in Ayr, near Glasgow, over the Bank Holiday weekend – attending a friend’s wedding. Ayr is famous for being the birthplace of poet and serial ladies man, Robert Burns. His cottage is being renovated at the moment so we didn’t get to venture inside. Instead, we wandered along the sea front and walked the “lang Scots mile”

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Sadly the sun didn’t shine a great deal for us and the wind blew and blew. Traditional Scottish weather! The wedding was held at a hotel by the Brig o’ Doon (“bridge of Doon”) It’s a late medieval bridge used as the setting for the final verse of the Burns’ poem Tam o’ Shanter. In this scene Tam is on horseback and is being chased by the Nannie the witch. He is just able to escape her by crossing the bridge (over a running stream) narrowly avoiding her attack as she is only able to grab the horses tail which comes away in her hands. There were lots of paintings in the hotel depicting this scene from the poem – many of them showing witches and ghouls (and the odd skeleton – which was good as my dress had skulls on!)

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Aside from eating Haggis for the first time – both deep fried and minced – we also got to enjoy lots of bagpipes! There were plenty of kilts and sporrans (i’m grateful to say i don’t know what was underneath!) and a fair amount of whiskey was consumed. I have to say, the cake probably raised the biggest smile from me…being a cupcake addict – this was perfect!

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I also managed to complete another granny square for my blanky. Current square count – 16…but really, who’s counting? 🙂

May 26, 2009 at 11:12 pm 1 comment

queen of the desert

Drag queens have large feet

Drag queens have large feet

I spent last night singing along to drag queens and admiring their feathers and sparkles at the stage version of Priscilla Queen of the Desert. It was fantastic! It was sequin-central, full of camp disco classics and of course Priscilla – the best looking bus in the outback!

Jason Donavon was superb and the Kylie jokes raised a smile amongst everyone in the audience. I’ve spent the past hour making a Prescilla playlist on Spotify and want to go out and buy the film on DVD – i can’t believe i didn’t have it already.

The costumes the three leads wear are completely outrageous – massive shoes and gigantic wigs. I definitely fancy going to a fancy dress party as a drag queen!

May 22, 2009 at 10:04 pm Leave a comment

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