Sunday, 16 June 2013

My little veg patch

I thought I would do a post about my tiny little veg patch! I definitely do not have green thumbs and more or less do not know what I am doing when it comes to gardening. Our flat came with a tiny little front garden, which I think is really meant to be more ornamental than anything else. All the other front gardens on our street just have stones and maybe a bay tree - so this is perhaps not the done thing.

Anyway, Theo built the little raised bed for me, using some scaffolding boards from Brighton Wood Recycling Centre. I was really surprised how reasonably priced they were - I think we got everything we needed for about 30 quid. We also stained it a light blue colour - nautical blue for the seaside and also something to weatherproof it.

I bought some seedlings (lettuces, cabbages, rosemary, sage, lavendar, nasturtiums, leeks, thyme, coriander) and also planted some seeds (radishes, baby leeks, spring onions, carrots). I used a planting plan from the River Cottage Veg Patch book which is a really great book for basic info.

Amazingly everything seems to be thriving! Perhaps with the exception of my rosemary which doesn't look quite as healthy as everything else. Anyway, the first pic is from week 1 and the second pic is from week 4 - really satisfying!

I'm so pleased that we've managed to make good use of an otherwise wasted space. I used the first of my produce last night by putting some coriander in my stir fry - absolutely delicious!


Thursday, 30 May 2013

1000 Cranes blouse

I recently stumbled across the most incredible fabric shop - and, amazingly, it's within easy driving distance of where I live (could be dangerous). It's called the Eternal Maker - in West Sussex - and they stock lots of Japanese imported fabric as well as literally zillions of other designers as well. It's like a big warehouse on an industrial estate, so you'd have to know it was there to find it. Luckily they also sell things from their website, a service which I recently tested and to my delight they delivered everything super quickly.

I recently discovered Rashida Coleman-Hale and her lovely fabric designs. Specifically, I came across this washi tape design, but unfortunately I seem to be a little too late on this one, as I can't seem to source it anywhere. If anyone is able to help me I would love you forever! 

Anyway, her newer designs are also just as lovely including this beautiful crane print, which I fell in love with. I bought 1 metre and made this little blouse. It's similar to the polka dot blouse I recently blogged - I thought simple was best as the fabric design really speaks for itself. 

More rubbishy instagram pics of myself I'm afraid. I'm thinking maybe I should invest in a tripod so I can use the self timer and get some better photos! 

I'm pretty happy with how this has turned out, although I may not cut the neck quite as wide next time I make this top - it falls off the shoulder a little more than intended. This was really a practice run for a top from this beautiful Nani Iro fabric, which I also managed to find at the Eternal Maker as well, having previously only found a tiny remnant (I made this leather pouch from it). I feel almost too scared to cut into it!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Simple polka dot blouse

I came across some lovely silk/cotton blend fabric in Ditto in Brighton, with a gorgeous polka dot pattern. I found it hard to resist and bought some to make this blouse from. I drafted the pattern myself, but it was really straightforward, as there are no darts or anything, so it's just a t shirt shaped pattern. 

I used French seams for this, which is probably my favourite seam finish - so clean and easy. It does take a bit longer, but I really like the results you get. I made my own bias binding to finish the neck and sleeves. I recently learnt to make my own continuous bias binding which was a revelation to me! So much quicker than sewing endless strips together one by one - I should have known there was a trick...anyway I used this tutorial if anyone is interested. 

And here's a crappy instagram pic of me wearing it. I need to find a better way of taking photos of myself! 

DIY zippered pouches

It's my sister in law's birthday on Saturday and I wanted to give her a really nice gift, but unfortunately I don't have a lot to spend. So I thought I'd root around the supplies I already have and make her something. A little while ago, I bought some gorgeous Nani Iro double gauze, imported from Japan. It was the most beautiful print, I just couldn't resist. But sadly they only had a small remnant - far from enough to make a top. I have since sourced some more which is winging its way to me, but we'll save that for another time. But what I did have was just enough for this project. I also had some leather stashed away (I've long wondered whether I'd ever find a use for it!). Anyway, I stumbled across this gorgeous tutorial for a leather pouch and thought I'd give it a go - here's what happened!

The leather was easier than I thought to work with. I put a leather needle in my machine and it actually went through quite easily. You can't really pin it though, so I used paperclips which worked fine. To make the toggles I used a leather punch to make holes in the patches, which also seemed to go surprisingly well. 

By the time I'd finished that, I was on a bit of a roll, and had another scrap of fabric that I wanted to put to good use, so I made a simple zippered pouch that is probably about the right size for a pencil case. She loves drawing, so hopefully it will be a good place for her to stow all her pencils. 

I can't wait to give it to her - I hope she likes it! 

Triangles quilt

And so....drumroll please....I have completed my first proper patchwork quilt! It was a labour of love and took me aaaages and is also far from perfect. However, I am very pleased with it. 

It was inspired by this beautiful quilt which looks far more perfect than mine! 

Part of the beauty of this for me is that the quilt front is pieced from fabric scraps that I've been hoarding for the past 15 years or so - so it's really meaningful for me to be able to see them every day, and that I've finally managed to find a project that is able to use up all the little tiny pieces. I knew I'd find a use for them one day! 

The back is made from an old duvet cover - I love the print and didn't want to throw it away! So it's been re-fashioned. I did buy a few little bits of fabric to finish off the back - including a lovely bit of Liberty print (Mitsi I think it's called - a Japanese flower print). 

The binding was an absolute delight to do. I had been dreading it, until I found this great tutorial which walks you through step by step. I decided to finish the back binding edge by hand, and I'm glad I did as it has given a really clean finish. I then read lots of information on blogs about whether to put it in the dryer or not. In the end I decided I would put it in the dryer, and it's given it that lovely crinkled look, which is what I was after. I used a bamboo batting. 

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

yellow sunshine dress

I have just been camping in Spain which was gorgeous - anyone in the UK will understand how lovely this was given that we have had such a cold and endless Winter. So I was really excited about it and made a new yellow sun dress for the occasion. 

I got the fabric from the Cloth House in London, an absolutely beautiful shop - if you have never been you should definitely try and pay a visit. There are actually 2 of them really close together on Berwick Street. One is more beautiful than the other and is 100% stacked full of temptation. It's pretty expensive as well, but as soon as you get through the door you will be unable to get away without buying at least something. There are even videos on the wbsite so you can get a little taster of what it's like. No 47 is like a dream...Anyway, I fell in love with this yellow fabric which has tiny pink polka dots on it (you can't see that in the pictures).

I also tried out horsehair braid for the first time, and was pleasantly surprised (check out Gertie's great post on the stuff here). It stiffens the hem, so it keeps the skirt held a bit more rigid along the bottom edge than it would be without it. Definitely a technique to try out again in the future! 

DIY liberty baby outfit

I love Junkaholique - it's such a gorgeous blog, filled with loads of inspiration and many Liberty fabrics! She's so creative, I love checking out what she has been up to to give me ideas for my own projects. My friend has recently had a baby of her own, so I took inspiration from Artemis's gorgeous DIY baby stuff to make a little gift for my friend. 

Here's the result - I used some leftover Mitsi fabric to make a patch pockets, and made some matching bias binding to go around the neck and to use as a drawstring. I drew out my own pattern, so I hope it fits! 

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Easter cookies

Today I made some white chocolate and pecan cookies (from the Hummingbird cookbook), as it's Easter and all. I really like the recipe. You have to roll the dough out into a sausage shape and then leave it to firm up in the freezer. After an hour or so, you chop it up into discs which means your cookies end up relatively uniform in size and shape.

I had this really sweet striped tissue paper which came as packaging from Selfridges, so I sewed it up into a little bag and punched a hole for a bow. I also printed out a little sticker. I'm going to give it to Theo when he gets back from work - hope he enjoys it! White chocolate and pecans are two of his favourite things, so I'm thinking that it will be a winning recipe...


In other news, I've been doing tons of sewing recently. I need to take some photos so I can write about them on here, it's taking me ages to get round to it!

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Weekend cupcakes

Today my new Kitchenaid got its first outing - very exciting! Theo had to work today so I thought I'd potter about and make some cupcakes. It was really nice to use an electric mixer rather than do it by hand, and it seemed to make the whole process a bit tidier too. Sometimes it creates so much mess! I just love the way cupcakes look, they're so pretty. 

And finally, here is a gratuitous picture of one of my lovely kittens too. He is 18 months old, but he's enormous (6kg - and still growing!). He still behaves like a kitten though. Happy weekend to you all, hope you're having fun. 

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Wiggle dress

I am an avid follower of Gertie's new blog for better sewing - she makes gorgeous retro clothes that fit really well and generally look amazing. She also quite recently published a book with really lovely patterns, including one for an incredible wiggle dress which I fell completely in love with and couldn't resist buying the book! 

I need to dress quite smartly for work, but I also find that shop-bought dresses tend not to fit me - they are often tight over the hips and loose at the waist. Not a good look! So I thought I'd make one instead, and I'm really happy with how it has turned out. 

I did a pattern making course a few years ago and have become obsessed with fit! So I can't help but make quite a few toiles before I'm happy to start on the final garment. Doing that also gives me confidence to buy more expensive fabric which will generally give a much nicer finish than something synthetic. 

I went to Soho in London to buy this fabric and bought a wool/cashmere tweed to use, which has such richness of colour which I unfortunately wasn't able to capture in these photos. The weave of the fabric means that it sometimes appears different colours in different lights. It's a really deep forest green - I love it! I was quite cautious when I bought it, so I made sure I had a little extra just in case. In the end, there was enough left over for me to also make a pencil skirt. I've worn both the dress and the skirt endlessly, so it was definitely a good investment to splash out a bit on the fabric. What have your experiences been with using better quality fabrics?

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Holiday in Wales

Just wanted to share some pics of a recent camping holiday in Wales. We stayed in a yurt which was amazing! It had a bath in it which had hot running water. This turned out to be necessary since it was November and even snowed at one point. There was also a hot outdoor shower which I braved even though it was so cold outside! We are usually quite hardy campers and spend many nights a year under canvas, but it was nice to enjoy a little bit of luxury. The yurt was near Abergavenny in Wales, which is a stunning place. Do you have any favourite camping spots?

We also spotted this castle from the road - it's Raglan Castle - and it looked gorgeous so we stopped to have a look around. 

One day we'd like to build a little woodland retreat somewhere remote so that we can escape from the hustle and bustle of life in a city.