Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Feeling deflated

Feeling deflated?

It's been a rather flat beginning to the summer holidays I have found myself confined to the house with a poorly girl. Yesterday this was combined with a not-poorly-climbing-the-walls-boy who I happily sent off to nursery today. This left me with a quiet house and a child lying forlornly on the sofa all day watching tv. Suddenly from no where I am presented with some time to sew.

I've been meaning to make something from this gorgeous Jessica Jones fabric since it arrived and this gum drop pillow by Amy Butler seemed perfect. I've had the pattern for years and the one I previously made is looking rather sad and overused. Actually it's probably the most used pieces of sewing I have done.

So for the first time in a very long while, I managed to complete a whole sewing project in one day. Quite an achievement given I usually manage to string them out for weeks if not months. The pillow is pretty straight forward to make, I had a few joining issues where all the panels came together, but I think this was down to me not really paying attention. Slip-stitching a bulging cushion closed was a bit challenging too. But very satisfying when it was all done.

Doing something creative has taken the edge of my cabin fever a little, and set me thinking about some new Amy Butler fabric which I will share with you tomorrow.

Friday, 22 July 2011

End of an era...

my sofa disappearing under a year's worth of school stuff

I know some schools finished for the summer weeks ago. But my daughter’s school breaks up today and the last few weeks have been a whirlwind of sports days, picnics, and the famed leavers assembly as she makes the move from infant to junior school.

It seems that the tradition at our leavers assembly is for the kids to sing ‘Three Little Birds’ by Bob Marley. Even now with a safe few weeks between me and that performance, the memory still brings a lump to my throat as my not so little girl goes off to big school.

At my niece’s leavers assembly they sang ‘Fix You’ by Coldplay and my sister commented that it felt like they were going off to war. Teachers out there – is there a staff room sweep stake on how many parents you can make cry at the end of term?

So with the summer holidays upon us, I hope I get time to carry on blogging and look forward to your comments and hearing what you have been up to too. 

Have a happy weekend,

Monday, 18 July 2011

Under a stormy sky

It seems like this black cloud has anchored itself over Brighton at the moment. But after a weekend of spending a little too much time inside, on Sunday, we decided it was time to venture out.

With a end of year school reports and 5 metre swimming badges to celebrate, we headed to Scoop and Crumb, for hot dogs and ice cream. The basis of any balanced diet.

You almost don't have space for the ice cream after a hot dog, but in the tradition of having a stomach for main and another for pudding, we managed to squeeze in a sundae.

If you find yourself in Brighton, it's a great place for kids or grown ups and it's right next to the beach and pier.

We walked off our considerable lunch through town, stopping to enjoy the South London Jazz Orchestra who happened to be playing in the Pavillion Gardens. Our son was unable to stop himself dancing to the jazz. It was was of those moments you want to take a snap shot of and remember forever. Fortunately I had my camera, so I filmed it AND took a photo. I have a rubbish memory anyway.

I must have taken a hundred photos of Brighton Pavillion, but I still couldn't help myself from taking another, the silhouette is amazing against the sky.

Is there anything more dangerous than a young child with an umbrella? The only consolation was that pranging unsuspecting pedestrians took their minds off the long walk back.

We always stop off at the scrambling wall. As usual the kids were in their crocs, probably the least practical shoes ever for climbing in. How I wish I had invented crocs.

And wherever you are in Brighton, you will always find a massive seagull somewhere with it's beady eye on you. It's worth watching out for them, and if you are eating something or walking with a small dog or child, hang on tight.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Guest blog and dress pattern review

Thank you to Emily for this wonderful pattern review of the Family Reunion Dress by Oliver & S.

I'd been wanting to try out an Oliver + S pattern for a while, but for various reasons hadn't got round to it. However, when I saw the 'Family Reunion Dress' pattern on their blog I knew it would be perfect - we were due to go to my aunty and uncle's 25th wedding anniversary party, Munchkin needed a frock, and that it was such an appropriately named pattern was obviously a sign that should buy it :) I liked the look of the pin tucks, the button-up back and the yoke.
But horror of horrors, my favourite stockist of pretty patterns and desirable fabrics (M is for Make, obviously :) did not stock it! With a bit of a persuasive email to Kate I managed to have the pattern land on my doormat a few weeks later. There was about a month before the party, so I had plenty of time. I decided to make up a muslin to make sure everything fitted and to practice the pintucking, and so I traced off the pattern pieces and cut them out of some cheap cotton I had in my stash.
And then I found out I was pregnant. Hurray! And then about a week later the morning sickness kicked in. My sewing mojo went out the window. I was in bed before 9pm most nights. If I wasn't in bed I was busy eating savoury snacks to try and keep the nausea at bay.  I couldn't focus on any particular task for more than 10 minutes without needing a lie down on the sofa. Progress ground to a halt. The forlorn pieces of cheap cotton started to gather dust on the sideboard.

Fast forward to a week before the party, and I knew I had to get my skates on or accept defeat and pop in to M&S to buy a back-up. So I took a deep breath, ate a bag of japanese rice crackers and started to sew.
As I was so short for time I had abandoned my muslin, but I was still worried about sewing the pintucks, as I hadn't done any before. Before I made a start on the 'proper' dress, I took my dusty muslin pieces and transferred the pattern markings on the front and back, and then had a pintuck practice run. This was most helpful, and meant I felt more confident when I sewed them on the final dress. If you're not quite sure about getting them right, I'd recommend it. One of the things I loved about the pattern was the detailed instructions, and the steps on pintucks are no exception. There are a couple of handy hints on getting a neat finish, and there's a glossary as part of the instructions if you don't understand what any of the terms mean.
I plodded along through the rest of the pattern, stopping for savoury snack breaks and naps where appropriate. Everything is explained along the way, and the diagrams that accompany the instructions are very clear. I often struggle with commercial patterns from the big four as there aren't enough pictures for me, but this was perfect. I think the whole thing took me 3 or 4 evenings to complete, although I really wasn't at my best and I think under normal circumstances it would have taken 2. The trickiest thing about the whole process was finding buttons that matched my fabric, and I ended up sewing them on the dress in the car on the way to the party!

The fabric I used was a quilting weight cotton, and I think it was ideal for the style of dress. Anything heavier and you wouldn't get the crispness of the pintucks - although a babycord might work. It would be perfect in chambray as well, and you could use scraps of a contrasting fabric for the neck facing and the button tab, and maybe a bit of applique on the body of the dress. You can sew the pattern in a blouse length as well, which is what I'm planning to do with another pretty print that I've found, once the morning / afternoon / evening sickness abates and I can stay up past 8pm.

In conclusion, it was a lovely pattern to sew. Even down to the paper that the pattern is printed on, it oozes quality. The fit was perfect - my daughter has not long turned three, and her measurements matched the pattern envelope exactly for size 3T. The design and sewing techniques that are used produce a very high quality dress, and one that I am sure I'll be passing down to Munchkin's little cousins (and maybe even a future sister?).
Thanks Emily and congratulations - I hope the morning sickness has eased by now! Keep your feet up,


Monday, 4 July 2011

Cat prints

My latest blog over at Boden is about how to do simple printing by making a stamp. Do go and take a look. It's such an easy way to make a really effective fabric print, I think I even surprised myself.

Make sure you use an oil based fabric paint, a first attempt with water based paint was rather unsuccessful.

I hope it's lovely and sunny where you are. Summer has finally hit Brighton. Well, for this week any way.

In further news, Loulouthi is on it's way to me... who fancies a give away?

Friday, 1 July 2011

Tutorials from the interweb

There have been some great few tutorials floating round the interweb lately. So many that I decided it was time to collect them all up in one place for you.

First up is this gorgeous Spinning Stars quilt pattern by Anna Maria Horner using many fabrics from her Loulouthi collection (this is imminent at M is for make - I promise!)

A tutorial for an oval bathmat by Cloud 9 fabrics, which is a great way to personalise your bathroom.

A simple baby quilt design by Monoluna - wouldn't this look amazing with a bit of foxy?

Another lovely quilt pattern by Oliver & S.

And finally, such a simple, but brilliant idea for sewing buttons from Oliver & S - I'll definitely be trying this.