as autumn takes her place and leaves turn gold and crimson i mirror their returning to the earth for now is the time for rest and contemplation, for quiet reflection and for seeds to settle and germinate.
As well as my beau turning 50, our quirky smallest girl turned 14 earlier this month.
She started guitar lessons (with an amazing teacher) last year and has been using her dads guitar so we thought it was time for her to have her own. She was very clear about the style she wanted; a cutaway with pick ups for an amp and with a matt finish. We were so lucky to find a second hand guitar that fitted her taste and size from our local guitar shop in excellent condition.
As in family tradition, i also made her a birthday pressie. We recently spied a metre of a cute strawberry print cotton twill in a local fabric store and as she really loved it, it ended up in my shopping bag. She fancied a pinafore dress so drew me a picture of what she wanted. i took some measurements and set about creating it. We are both really pleased with how it came out and my invisible zip (at the side) really is invisible (she took a while to find it), so a good result from a pretty remnant.
I really do love making gifts ... i am starting to think about christmas... (not long off), are you?
It would be lovely to share some ideas for homemade gifts. i did run a few posts last year about this but kind of fizzled out in the busy run up to the event. Maybe i should start earlier? anyone up for it? Let me know and we can start sharing ideas and linking up.
my beau has just turned 50, impossible as this seems, it is true.
we are stretching our celebrations out and have enjoyed a family party up in Yorkshire, with camp fire, camping, and cake! made by our girls
they used 12 eggs all from our friends hens who were were looking after during the summer.
'crumb coated' it before rolling out and adding the icing.
they then set about decorating it; all those times watching food nation and the cake programs really helped!!
the raised bed is based on the vegetable one we have in the garden . they used tunnocks wafers for this, with choc butter icing and crumbled flakes for soil. the fence panels were ice cream wafers with the posts in mint sticks.
my youngest modelled their dad in modelling icing, complete with quiff and Magic the cat even got a look in in his favourite spot in the long grass.
i think they did a fantastic job and so did he!
We also all took a family outing to his football club (yes, even me ) for the first match of the season.
Met up with some old friends for drinks in London and we also had a family party tea.
50 is quite a landmark birthday so we are going to continue to celebrate as much as possible throughout his 5oth year.
The idea being to choose one dressmaking pattern and wear the different variations you have made from it everyday for a week.
I wasn't sure what to chose at first but decided that as my new fav pattern is the Hot Patterns 1054 Classic Nouveau pants i would chose that. Even though i only had one pair in linen i thought it would spur me into making another pair in some tougher fabric.
Day 1 - Dressed comfortably for work on Saturday in linen Pants 1054 with brown belt. worn with a red silk printed blouse from East (in sale), my fav old olive slip on sandles and some wooden beads given to me by a friend.
Day 2 - A relaxing Sunday, in the linen Pants 1054 with a vest top, cardy and an old fav scarf tied around the waist and comfy sandles.
Day 3 - tidying the studio. Same linen Pants 1054 (aired) and a blue t shirt (50p car boot bargin) with brown thin belt and brown sandles.
Day 4 - Running my local monthly sewing cafe. Same linen pants 1054 (aired again) Pink t shirt (dug out from back of drawer), cardy and a fav scarf (love the colours & never worn it like this before) and my olive slip ons.
Day 5 - New brown cotton twill trousers, just finished (thank goodness as i couldn't have worn the others everyday!) The fabric was from Caroline at Croft Mill Fabrics. I am really pleased with them and they will be really hard wearing so i will be wearing then in place of jeans (wanting to make a denim pair now too!) Worn with a blouse i made using New Look 6808 (pattern hacked to create buttons at the back) and pumps.
Day 6 - Dog walking with a friend - New brown Pants 1054 worn with old walking boots ( & i mean old - they are 24 years old! still ok despite nearly being ruined by my 16 year old who borrowed then to go paintballing). Worn with my check jasmine blouse & purple cardy & my fav wooden beads.
Day 7 - Final day at home in new brown pants 1054 (again) wearing a blouse i recently cut down from a beach cover up. (i will get more wear out of it this way).
Final thoughts about the OWOP challenge;
1. it made me think creatively to find different ways to style one pair of trousers (or 2 by the end of the week!)
2. that wearing the same trousers 4 days in a row felt skanky (they were aired but even so!)
3. the challenge motivated me to finally make my 'land girl' pair.
4. i found things in my cupboards that i had forgotten about.
5. wearing scarves around the waist feels beautifully bohemian & i will continue to do it.
6. finally it was a lot of fun and it has been great seeing everyone elses outfits too.
a few years ago i was seduced by this dressmaking pattern from Hot patterns. i love 1930's and 40's fashion and loved the period vibe of the trousers or 'pants' as they are called, so ordered the pattern from Susan at Sewbox. The following post shares my inital thoughts when making the toile over 2 years ago, leaving it as i thought they would never suit me and then my revisiting the pattern and finishing the trousers a few months ago.
Hot patterns is an independent pattern company that i had not previously used . Based in the US, it was set up in 2005 by Trudy and Jeremy, both originally from London who focus on easy wear high fashion styles plus some lovely vintage inspired styles.
I was looking forward to trying the pattern. It came in a useful large envelope with the multi-sized pattern printed on durable strong pattern paper. I have to admit that i was a little disappointed that there were no illustrated instructional steps and only wording as i am a visual learner as are many of my students. Sewbox do now mention this and advise that the patterns are not suitable for complete beginners. On looking at the hot pattern website it looks like they are addressing this and starting to add illustrations too. The pattern is rated advanced beginner, and details a fly zip, some easy to make belt loops, a curved waistband and the turn ups.
When i make patterns usually freestyle and check up on techniques i am less confident with in one of my sewing books. The instructions state the process of putting the garment together and anticipate that you had already made a muslin (toile) before starting to check for fit; this is something i would definitely advise, especially when using a new pattern company.
One mistake in choosing this pattern was to think that my legs were as long as the drawn models on the front, not so, i'm afraid! My advice to my students is to always do an image search for the pattern you are wanting to make as this gives a real version of what the pattern looks like made up on real people with real proportions. it can also help with showing variations in different fabrics. Sadly this search didn't throw up many images so i started with my toile. (still thinking my legs would look fabulous and long!)
Since making more clothes for myself these past few years (before this i made for others mainly whilst working as a costumier), i have learned more about my own proportions; my natural waistline is actually very high (and my crotch very low), which can make it look like i have short legs! I am still working on being objective about my figure and trying to enhance the good bits... it is a learning curve and so much harder to do on oneself. i think i much prefer to make for others. having said that i would love a totally me-made wardrobe.
The toile (made to a size 14) showed that i needed to add 5cms in the crotch length to accommodate my high waist. As i also have a hollow back i needed to shape in at the waist and took 2cms out of the centre back. I made the toile in calico and have some terrible pictures which i am not sharing.... i then recut the garment in some linen which i had brought really cheaply as light damaged stock from a mill shop and set to making it up.
I then got to a stage where i thought that they just didn't suit me and what was i thinking. The design is a full leg with large turn ups but they felt like clown pants... i got disheartened and put them to one side and there they stayed for hmm, about 2 years.
A few months ago i took them in the the dressmaking class i co-teach, for a laugh really, and also to illustrate that we all get it wrong sometimes . I put them on and my teaching collegue said she liked them, i was shocked. She fitted them on me and she agreed that the turn up was too large so i reduced it to 2.5cms and set about completing the alterations, adding the waistband and finishing them. I have to say that they are so comfy and i really like them now ; )
I found a lovely belt which finishes them off perfectly and they go well with my new Jasmine blouse from Colette patterns. Here i am unleashing my inner 'land girl' digging the spuds in my brother in laws vegetable garden. I now want to make some in a harder wearing cloth so i can wear then for veg volunteering at my local CSA. maybe i will make some proper land girl dungarees too?
I am learning more about my own figure and starting to find clothes that suit me and 'feel' me so my advice to myself is to keep on making and to use my friends experience to gain a more objective perspective and also to be my 'fit buddy'.
our basil has been growing really well; my man seeded a few trays of it in the greenhouse and has been keeping them well watered.
our youngest teen loves pesto and asked if she could make some. after many trips to the shops when we forgot to get the pine nuts we finally suceeded and she set about making some.
the ingredients you need are as follows;
basil - large bunch or more
parmesan - 50 grams
olive oil - 70 - 100mls
pine nuts - 50 grams
lemon juice - 1/2 a lemon to taste
garlic cloves - 1
salt and pepper to taste
There are many recipes online for pesto. my girl and her dad followed one in our food processor book (as above, but altered the quantities to suit as it was too oily using 100mls). They also added more than one bunch of basil and a little lemon juice which was not in the original recipe.
Process wise it's super easy; wash and pat dry the basil leaves,. Peel and crush the garlic. Some recipes suggest toasting the pine nuts but they didn't bother. Basically put everything in a food processor and blitz. I would suggest adding the oil slowly to judge the consistency and adding the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.
Some of the pesto was put in a tub to take on our camping trip and the rest was put into ice cube trays and frozen for later.
i have just enjoyed spaghetti and some defrosted pesto for supper : )
prom day arrived and after a trip to the hairdressers with her friends, she put on her dress...
it really was a perfect colour for her as it was young and fun. her hair had been styled naturally and looked pretty. i was so pleased that she was happy and felt great.
here are a few more pics...
her shoes were pale pink suede wth a small bow, her clutch bag was made to match and the earrings were carved mother of pearl roses which were a birthday present from her sister from highland angel at not on the high street
a great time was had by all so it was worth all the work. it kind of made it more special too that we worked on the dress together though i am in no rush to make a wedding dress for a good few years!
as well as being a sewing teacher i also work as a craft workshop leader and run activities at events.
one of the arts centre i work at host a brilliant indoor music festival each year with real grass turf laid throughout the centre. Saturday afternoon is the family craft afternoon and in the past i have led various activities including paper bead jewellery making, woven sunshines, and paper flower making.
This year we hosted a pre-Westival free drop in workshop to make paper pom poms to decorate the centre for the event. they are so easy to make and if you fancy creating some of your own, there are some great tutorials about. we made some large ones but also had some smaller ones from pre cut tissue paper circles. it was a fab day and over 70 pompoms were made.
the acoustic stage is always in the gallery space and as there was no exhibition booked in during Westival then participants of the drop in day were also invited to join some professional artists to create some art for the walls and also paint some chairs.
this is a follow on to part 1 and part 2 of the process of making my daughters leavers prom dress.
once the bodice was completed i was happy as this was the most challenging part. Next it was the skirt...
the skirt was made of three layers. the first being in the lining fabric. this was constructed with darts at the waist for shaping and to keep any bulk to the minimum. it was then cut as an A line to create some foundation for the fullness at the hem of the top two skirt layers so they didn't hang around the ankles.
The next layer was the satin which was lightly gathered at the centre waist and sat over the lining with a little more fullness at the hem.
the top layer was the beautiful silk chiffon which was also gathered at the waist but kept flat at each side to contour the hips.
once all three skirt layers were joined they were attached to the waistband. we used my very old overlocker to neaten all the seams; here is my girl overlocking, it was great to teach her how to do this.
An invisible zip was attached to one side seam and then the linings were stitched in with a slip stitch to keep everything neat from the inside
the final job was the hems and we had 3 of them!
initially we were going to roll the hem by hand on the chiffon but if frayed so much that the turning was greater than i had anticipated and my girl wanted the skirt to be as long as possible. As i had already cut the length i decided to try a roll hem on my overlocker. it sewed beautifully much to my surprise so it was the perfect answer. the other two hems were also hemmed on the overlocker.
overlocking hems to me seems to feel like it's unfinished or just lazy, but it really gave the best finish in this case.
here are my samples on each of the fabrics...
when she tried it on we were both very excited and also very relieved that it had all come together.
i also made a little chiffon flower for her hair and a sweet bow clutch bag using a tutorial i saw in Love Sewing Magazine issue 1 . i found the fabric for the outer bag in my stash and it matched her little suede shoes, which also had a bows on. the bag lining is a patterned silk which was passed on to me by a special aunt so it felt perfect using it for this occasion.
much to mine and my family's amazement the dress and accessories were finished with days to spare. as i am usually an 11th hour girl this felt a little strange but good at the same time!