Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Wednesday Wonderfuls #94

Happy Wednesday my lovely readers, and Happy Halloween! I am particularly happy today because my Sweetheart and I are celebrating our three year anniversary. This year has been pretty big for us, what with our having to spend so much time apart with all my touring, but this has just made us stronger and now we are living together! I really cannot believe that we've only been together for three years because I feel like I've known him for my whole life! He truly is my best friend and soulmate and I couldn't be happier :)

I am one lucky girl! So you could say that things are going pretty well around here at the moment, what with my anniversary together with some serious home baking and sewing, I had a great week! 

Images, Each Row, Left to Right:
1. Fancy Anniversary hair, 2.Pretty nails, 3. I love vintage clothing labels!
4. Chocolate and raspberry brownies 5. Is that a collar I see...? 6. Homemade scones
7. Anniversary flowers! 8. Lemon cupcake making 9. I love a good bow!

But enough about me! Let's see what else has been going on in the blogosphere this week...

Have a great rest of the week my lovely readers, I know I will!

Bye for now,

Katie xxx

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

A Cape Adventure #2 - Matching Plaid and Bound Buttonholes

Matching Plaid

When working with plaid you have one of two options. Either you can do what all the ready-to-wear manufacturers do and disregard the need for matching the pattern properly, or you can take the definitely-more-professional-but-also-crazy method and meticulously match your plaid. Any guesses as to which route I ended up taking?!

Ok, so there was never any question as to whether or not I would match my plaid, to me it just seems crazy to spend money on such a beautiful high quality fabric and then not do things properly! However, believe me my friends, there is a good reason why high street chains do not take the trouble to match their plaid: it is seriously hard work!

There are all kinds of different tutorials online about how to match plaid, but I decided to use this brilliant how to by the incredibly talented seamstress Tasia of Sewaholic. Tasia's technique (in the most basic sense) involves pinning through your double layer of fabric, matching the plaid at every pin. And we are talking a lot of pins here, and a lot of time spent! 

Pins, pins everywhere...

The experience of pinning my entire length of wool fabric before cutting out my pieces made me appreciate just how time consuming working with plaid really is! And then of course you have to make sure that every one of your pieces is cut so that the plaid will align nicely at the seams, and the the center back of the cape and the collar match, and that the interfacing line up nicely with the outside of the cape, the list could go on and on! But when you see each one of your fabric pieces laid out and perfectly aligned and matched it's really worth it (at least for obsessive compulsives like me!). 

And after all that plaid matching you are ready to cut out your fabric pieces and start sewing! And the first step in my tailoring is going to be...

Bound Buttonholes

This is not my first foray into bound buttonholes, but my previous attempts haven't always been the prettiest of things! This time I was determined to get them right and take my time with them. I used this great tutorial from the Coletterie, which worked really well for me. Before I have used a method in which you make a window in the fashion fabric and form a separate little fabric window behind it, but I much prefer the Coletterie patch method in which these two steps are combined into one. All four (I have added an extra buttonhole after lengthening the hem) buttonholes are looking very pretty indeed!

My small but perfectly formed bound buttonhole :)

Things are going well with my Cape Adventure so far, next time I'll start on my pad stitched collar!

Bye for now!

Katie xxx

Monday, 29 October 2012

A Cape Adventure #1 - Alterations to the Pattern

Welcome to the first part of my mammoth new challenge: sewing and hand tailoring a cape with not instructions! Before I started tackling this bad boy there a few changes that I needed to make to the basic pattern:

1. Lengthen the hem
The little cropped cape is very cute but not particularly practical for the notoriously cold English winter, so I want to lengthen the cape by 4 inches, so that it ends just below waist height. That should help keep me a bit warmer! This will be a pretty simple slash and spread job, no fancy techniques required here :)

2. Move the pockets and make them REAL
The pattern pieces included in this pattern are only enough for faux welt pockets, i.e. there is only one piece (the welt pocket piece) provided. Now I know that these pockets are pretty teeny tiny, but I want then to be real not fake, so I will need to draft my own pattern pieces for the pocket bag and pocket underlay. And I'll also have to relocate these now real pockets 4 inches further down to match the extended hem.

3. Draft facings
So, it makes no sense to me that a gorgeous little cape wouldn't have any facings at all, the creator of this pattern literally wanted pretty much raw edges inside this little number! I know, they must have been insane! It's madness I tell you! Anyway, to appease my rather OCD personality I'm going to draft my own facings for both the front and back pieces of this cape, giving it a much neater, prettier and more professional looking finish (I hope!) This will be pretty simple, I know Gertie did a how to about drafting facings in one of her sewalongs, and how can I go wrong with Gertie as my guide?

4. Add a Lining
Oh, and did I mention that facings alone aren't enough for me? I want to add a lining as well for good measure. Because I'm winging it and that means that I can add whatever I want to the pattern and I want a lining :) Plus it will make my OCDness even happier because all those naughty little raw edges will be hidden away inside said lining. Happy times. 

On top of these basic changes I am also going to tackle bound buttonholes, a pad stitched collar and of course go to extreme lengths to match my plaid exactly. It's all very exciting! I'll be back tomorrow with more about the joys of matching plaid (seriously though, it's hard work!) and bound buttonholes.

Bye for now!

Katie xxx

Sunday, 28 October 2012

My Completed Ripple Blanket - at last!!

 I can finally give you an update on my second ever crochet blanket - it's finished!

This blanket has been weighing on my creative mind for a long time, I didn't feel like it would ever be finished! The actual design itself (found here on the fabulous blog Attic 24, an amazing source of crochet inspiration) is pretty simple and is great fun to do - I found crocheting this blanket very soothing and relaxing - but the problem was I didn't know when to stop! I used a repeat of six different colours, which I ended up repeating five times which created a pretty huge blanket (a lot of backstage crocheting hours went into this creation!). But at last it's finished, and just in time for the chilly weather :)

 The main purpose of this blanket at the moment is to help hide our uber-gross rental sofa, an off-cream leather monstrosity that taunts me with it's lack of style. The curse of renting a place means that no matter how much you long for a 1950s mad men-esque blue/green couch you are stuck with what you've been provided for at least a year, so you just have to suck it up and make it work. So until I have the time (and the funds!) to run up a cover for this sofa in some pretty fabric I will disguise it with soft wooly blankets!

Until we have room for a puppy of our own these pillows will have to suffice! I want a little pug baby so badly! 

Did I mention what my choice of a second dog would be...? :)

I really couldn't have finished this blanket at a better time, as it has already kept me and my Sweetheart warm on the sofa and nice and cosy in bed, it's certainly worth the time it took to make! I love it and it has definitely solidified my love of all things crochet, but I think it's time that I brought out my knitting needles for my next project, I have missed them.

Do you like my above-the-sofa print? I just love it!

Have a wonderful weekend my lovely readers!

Bye for now!

Katie xxx

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Wednesday Wonderfuls #93

Hello there lovely readers, let's pretend it's still Wednesday shall we? I've been enjoying being back home so much over the past few days that my Wednesday Wonderfuls quite slipped my mind yesterday, I hope you'll forgive me! But here they are today, just as wonderful as ever :)

Images, Each Row from Left to Right:
1. Fancy last show party hair! 2. Pad stitching :) 3. A hybrid cupcake from my Sweetheart!
4. Casually caramelising some bananas. 5. My fancy new friend! 6. Bananananana bread
7. Cupcakes for sharing (or maybe not...!) 8. Let's meet Miranda Hart! 9. Headscarf hair

I haven't yet had time to stop and realise that the show is over, I've been so bus y since I've been home! Unpacking alone was a huge task, but I've also been lucky enough to spend lots of time with my lovely friends and family and my gorgeous Sweetheart. I've been baking and knitting and crocheting and throughly enjoying myself, and of course I finally have time to tackle my new sewing adventure, I'm so excited to show you what I've been up to!

But for now it's Wednesday Wonderfuls time!

Well that's it for another week of Wonderfuls, have a great rest of the week my lovely readers!

Bye for now,

Katie xxx

Monday, 22 October 2012

The Start of my Next Big Sewing Adventure...

Now this story starts with two things: a pattern and some fabric. Let's start with the fabric...

Pretty Plaid!

During my time travelling about the UK and Ireland on tour I was lucky enough to visit the gorgeous city of Edinburgh. During my time there I was lucky enough to meet to the lovely Debi who took me on a trip to Edinburgh fabrics where I purchased some of the most beautiful plaid wool in the world. This took place in November last year, almost a year ago, and I still haven't used the fabric. Now that I find myself at a loose end (read: unemployed!) I thought it was about time that I did this fabulous fabric some justice, it was time for some serious tailoring!

And so we move on to the pattern. During my recent move into a smaller home I was forced to sort through my rather excessive collection of vintage patterns, not a small task but one I was very happy to undergo, because during my search I unearthed this beauty:

Swoon-worthy pattern :)

I must admit my heart skipped a beat and I knew that my fabric had found it's pattern soulmate. Now I only purchased 3 metres of the plaid, so I knew I wouldn't have enough for the cape/dress combo from the pattern, but I was mostly in love with the cape and knew that I would have enough fabric for a cape/pencil skirt combo, so all was well (for those of you who are interested I will be using Gertie's Pencil Skirt Pattern from her New Book for Better Sewing). Or so I thought...

I hadn't opened the pattern since I bought it at a Vintage Fair a few years ago, and when I finally did, quelle horreur! There were no pattern instructions!!! I was very disappointed I must admit. Every item of clothing I have ever made, from a simple dress to a full on coat I have always followed instructions pretty much to the letter and I have a great fear of doing something wrong. I have never just "winged" a project as I always think what's the point in spending money on beautiful supplies and then ruining them with my lack of skills? And then I got to thinking about my sewing skills and everything that I have learnt about sewing since I started to make my own clothes and I realised that thinking I have a "lack of skills" is really ridiculous. I have learnt so much and tried out so many different techniques over the past (almost) two years that I'm actually quite knowledgeable on the subject. OK, I may have never been to any classes or courses but that doesn't mean that I can't turn out what I consider to be a pretty topnotch piece of clothing with a professional finish. So what was I worrying about really? Yes, a cape is something I haven't made before, but I've made a coat before and how much harder than a coat is a cape? So my mind was set: I'm going to make the cape on my own, without any instructions or guidance. This is me winging it.

I can't wait to get started!

So there you have it my lovely readers, that start of my next big sewing adventure! I know that whatever help I need I will be able to find somewhere on the big wide blogosphere, so let's see what happens when I really trust the skills I have learnt on my sewing journey so far and properly put them into practise!

Bye for now,

Katie xxx

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Wednesday Wonderfuls #92

Happy Wednesday my lovely readers! Greetings from Birmingham, and my last ever Wednesday Wonderfuls on tour!

Images, Clockwise from Top Left:
1. Home baked oatmeal and raisin cookies 2. Gorgeous new shoes *swoon!* 3. Is that the start of a plaid cape??
4. Cooling cookies 5. More cookbooks, I know, I have a problem! 6. Bound buttonhole!!! Yesss!!!

It has been another hectic week on tour, especially as we now only have four shows left before we're completely finished. After fourteen months of travelling around the UK and Ireland I can't quite believe it's ending, but I'm also so excited for what the future has in store. Plus I couldn't be more excited about my Autumnal and Festive (not quite ready to say the C word yet!) sewing projects which I will finally have the time to complete. I started one of them this week (see the above pictures!) and I cannot wait for it to be finished, but more on that soon...

For now it's time for some Wonderfuls! So here are my picks of the blogosphere this week:

Well, that's it for another week of Wonderfuls, have a great rest of the week my lovely readers!

Bye for now,

Katie xxx

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Gorgeous Glasgow

Hello there lovely readers! I'd thought I'd give you an update of some of my final adventures around the UK as the tour is coming to an end. A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to find myself in the gorgeous city of Glasgow, and what a marvellous time I had there!

I was lucky enough to receive some fabulous advice on what to do and where to wander from the fabulous Kerry of Kestrel Finds and Makes, so I knew that I had a great trip in store. Thank you so much for your help Kerry, you made my trip so much better than it would have been!

One of the many beautiful sights of Glasgow!

My first stop on my Glasgow adventure was the lovely yarn shop/cafe, the Yarn Cake. This sweet little shop is stuffed to the gills with gorgeous yarns, including blends that are only produced in Glasgow or Scotland, it was heavenly! Plus the cake and tea selection on offer make me ridiculously happy (you all know how I love my cake!)

Keep Knitting and Eat Cake - now that's a mantra I can live by!

I could happily have spent hours in the Yarn Cake browsing the yarns in an environment that was full of the delicious smell of baking cakes, but I restrained myself and only stayed for long enough to munch up a slice of lemon and white chocolate loaf followed by a pit of fresh peppermint tea. I may also have indulged in a few skeins of some stunning scarlet lace weight yarn, but it really wasn't my fault. What was a knitting obsessive to do under such circumstances?!

Miney mine mine mine!

Next on the agenda was a spot of vintage shopping, and Kerry had given me the names of several places in visit whilst I was in the Northern Quarter, my favourite of which was definitely Starry Starry Night. Now I am pretty much a seasoned vintage shopper, I know what I like and I know within about 30 seconds of entering any vintage shop whether or not they will stock the kind of things that I would want to buy. Many times I have been told about a fabulous vintage shop by a friend only to be disappointed by the mostly 1980s stock (brilliant for some, but just not my personal taste!). Well my experience at Starry Starry Night couldn't have been more different. This is one of those stores where vintage items dream of coming when they grow up. It was vintage heaven!

What could be behind those doors?

Behind the quite unassuming shopfront lurks a treasure trove stuffed with goodness from all my favourite eras. I spotted some gorgeous 1950s boudoir slippers tucked in next to some stunning lace gloves and a victorian topper, I could have browsed all day! The dresses for sale were mostly evening wear, not many 1940s or 50s day dresses when I visited, so I think they are much more used to catering for special events as apposed to the everyday vintage wearer, but the dresses were so pretty I will forgive them :) There was also a great selection of brooches and costume jewellery, I was very tempted to buy! I didn't make a purchase at Starry Starry Night, mostly due to my splurge on yarn, but if I ever visit again I will definitely be coming cash in hand!

Oooo... shiny!

My final stop on my Glasgow day of fun and joy was my favourite. It's a miracle I walked out of there with any money left in my account at all! I am talking about the marvellous Mandors, purveyors of fine fabrics and all round magical place. Kerry wasn't kidding when she told me that this place had the best fabric selective in the city! Everywhere you looked were rolls and rolls of gorgeous fabrics, it was incredible!

Just look at it!!!

I honestly think that if I lived close to a place like this that I would never be able to pay my rent on time, but I would have an incredible stash! It really was a magical place, I spent a good hours just wandering about stroking fabrics and cooing over pretty patterns (the shop assistants probably thought I was a right loon!). I knew I couldn't leave without making a purchase, and in the end the decided on some tartan, I was in Scotland after all! When I was in Edinburgh last year I bought some stunning wool tartan (that I've actually started to cut into recently!), so I decided that this time I would buy something lighter with more drape, a dress-weight tartan. I already have a project all planned and ready for this tartan, it's fate is sealed (I'll give you a clue, it's one of the projects from Gertie's Book of Better Sewing! Ooo what could it be!). I'll wait for the big reveal of this project to show you the fabric, but rest assured, it's swoon-worthy!

Which tartan could be mine...?!

In conclusion Glasgow is definitely worth a visit for the crafty/vintage minded gal, I had such a wonderful time and would love to visit again soon. Hopefully when the tour is finished I will be able to take a trip to Edinburgh and Glasgow together, I enjoyed staying in both of these cities so much, plus some of the best bloggers I know call these cities home! Naming no names (Kerry and Debi!!!). :)

I cannot wait to start sewing with my beautiful Scottish tartans, to remind me of those beautiful cities and the wonderful time I had there. I really have gone a bit mad for plaid recently, but more on that another time!

Bye for now lovely readers!

Katie xxx

Thursday, 11 October 2012

ReCraft - A Review

Hello there my lovely readers! Today I'm bringing you a review of a new crafty book, ReCraft by Sara Duchars and Sarah Marks.

ReCraft is a book designed to teach you "how to turn second-hand stuff into beautiful things for your home, family and friends". In the rather lovely introduction Sara and Sarah are described as both growing up around crafts - be it knitting, crochet, sewing, tailoring, you name it! They definitely sound like my kind of people :) - before starting their own crafty business together: Buttonbag. Buttonbag puts together gorgeous crafty kits for children, and from their love of making something out of nothing ReCraft was born. The main idea behind the book is to make you think "What can I turn this into?" rather than "What do I need to make this?" with great emphasis on experimentation and allowing yourself to be creative. This is an idea that I adore, the whole thought of making something beautiful from nothing is very seductive, so I couldn't wait to see what the book had in store!

The book is divided into five sections, all containing different projects aimed at all of the various people in your life: Toys, Baby Stuff, Family, Friends and Home. I'm probably not the best judge of the first two sections as there are no babies in my life right now, However I can definitely see the appeal of the stuffed animals, particularly as each one was made from secondhand clothes, talk about a money saver! You wouldn't even need to pay for stuffing as the book suggests using finely cut up old socks, what a great idea! I could see many of these projects being very useful come Christmas time for anyone with small children in their lives. But the sections of the book that really interested me were the Friends and Home section.

Some of my favourite ReCraft Projects

There are some really great projects in the Friends and Home sections of the book, all of which I could see myself making as gifts for others or just as treats for myself. I particularly loved the book handbag (like all those designer ones out there but for a fraction of the price!) and the Dachshund draft excluder, who could resist such a sweet thing?! The pictures in the book are beautiful and you really will want to fill your home with these lovely creations, I know that I do.

I would say that more experienced crafters may find some of the projects a little basic. There are sections of the book describing basic sewing techniques and tools that would be fairly useless for the keen seamstress or home-crafter, however I still feel that this book is worth a look to more than just the beginner because of the message it puts across. ReCraft inspires it's reader to make the most of their raw materials, whatever they may be, and create things that are both unique and useful. It will help you to work outside the box when it comes to crafting - I am already planning a whole host of homemade Christmas gifts inspired by this book, as I feel now that I will be able to create things that are beautiful but still work within a budget! 

I think ReCraft is a great book, perfect for the new crafter but with a lot to offer even the more experienced among us, and it should definitely be one of your go to books when it comes to making Christmas gifts this year!

(In the interest of full disclosure this book was sent to me for review, but I hope you trust me enough to know that my opinions and non-biased and are my own)

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Wednesday Wonderfuls #91

Hello there lovely readers, happy Wednesday! We, here I am, at the start of my final venue for the tour, and in less than two weeks it will all be over. I am determined to enjoy these last few weeks as much as I can, and I'm happy to say that this week has been off to a flying start! I absolutely adore autumn (probably because it's my Birthday season!) and I am loving the fact that I can finally enjoy all the autumnal past times that I love so much :)

Images, Each Row from Left to Right:
1. A revisit to one of my favourite Manchester haunts 2. My new sewing space :) 3. Gingerbread bundt cake, swoon!
4. Homemade chicken teriyaki 5. Seasonal yarn! 6. Homemade beef stew with herby dumplings
7. Gingerbread cake with fresh whipped cream 8. I need this phone in my life! 9. Ginger, lemon and honey infusion :)

This week there has been much tea drinking, hearty home cooking, spicy baking, knitting planning (I need at least a couple of new cardigans and sweaters!) and of course some fall/winter sewing planning. I literally cannot wait to show you my latest project, I'll give you a little teaser: it involves plaid :) Also my new-to-me sewing desk (a gorgeous 1940s piece I snagged from ebay) has finally arrived so I have set up my own little piece of heaven in a corner of the new flat. As soon as it's all organised I'll give you a little tour of my new oh-so-mini-yet-amazing sewing space. Things are definitely looking good in the world of Squirrels! For now I'm having a lovely time in Birmingham for the next two weeks, any suggestions for activities here for a sewing/knitting/vintage loving gal?

Anyways, enough about me, let's see what else has been going on in the blogosphere this week. Here are my personal picks:

So there you have it my lovely readers, another Wonderful filled Wednesday! I hope you all have marvellous weeks, and enjoy the start of autumn, I know I will!

Bye for now!

Katie xxx

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Wednesday Wonderfuls #90

Hello there my lovely readers, happy Wednesday! What a week it's been, I've moved house, celebrated both mine and my Sweetheart's Birthdays (our birthdays are two days apart, crazy huh?!) and now I'm back in Manchester as the tour is returning for two weeks to the venue where this whole thing began. 

Images, Clockwise from Top Left:
1. A bit of a new look for me (psst! it's a wig!), 2. Presents :) 3. My Sweetheart loves a fancy sandwich!
4. I love Autumnal sewing! Swoon! 5
. A magical place... 6. Birthdays are for house picnics

It seems like no time has past since I was last here. My life has changed so much since this time last year (as it is almost exactly a year since we last played Manchester) and being in this beautiful city that is so full of memories really makes me appreciate how far I have come and how happy I am in my current life. It's also a bit emotional as this is our second to last venue, and in less than three weeks the tour will be over. It's a very strange feeling, standing on the edge of unemployment - to say I'm feeling nostalgic would be an understatement! - but I am determined to seize the day firmly with both hands and embrace whatever comes, I am really excited to see what the future has in store! I genuinely feel in such a good place right now, let's hope that things continue in this way!

In other news I finally completed my Bombshell dress this week!!! Can you believe it?! I have already worn said dress out twice and I am totally in love with it. As soon as I'm home again I will try to persuade my Sweetheart to take some pictures of me in it so that I can share :) And also autumn is finally here! It's my very favourite of all the seasons and I cannot wait to get started on some seasonal sewing projects :) And I'm not going to lie, I may have some festive projects in the pipeline too, it's never too early to get started I always say!

But enough about me, here are my picks of the blogosphere this week:

  • As everything starts to get more autumn-y, the nights are drawing in and everyhting's getting colder, why not curl up in your favourite chair with a large slice of this caramelised banana bread with browned butter glaze. Doesn't that just sound like heaven? Now, where did I put those bananas...
  • I love the idea of the fabric flash cards, what a great way to get knowledgable about your fabrics!
  • How sewing ruined clothes shopping - this article is the story of my life and why I'll probably never buy new clothes again
  • I really am in love with Emily Henderson's blog, this article of 15 flea market secrets is a classic example of her awesomeness, plus her tips are really great too!
  • Our new flat is very cozy, i.e. we are seriously sort of space (if you've ever rented an average one bed flat in London you'll know what I mean!) so I am loving these storage solutions from Scathingly Brilliant. You can never be too organised!
  • And finally this article by Kat of Rock and Roll Bride was just what I needed to get myself into gear. If you really want to get something done, then just do it!
So that's it for another week of Wonderfuls folks! Have a great rest of the week and let's all go out and be dynamic!

Bye for now,

Katie xxx

Monday, 1 October 2012

Another Year Older!

Yesterday was my Birthday, I've now reached the grand old age of twenty five! I had a wonderful day with my family and my Sweetheart, we went to the Mad Hatter's Afternoon Tea at the Sanderson Hotel, browsed the fabrics at Liberties of London and also visited the marvellous Ballgowns exhibition at the V&A. I was thoroughly spoilt rotten and loved every minute of it! It was a wonderful day :)

I feel like this Birthday marks a large turning point in my life, both personally and professionally, and I'm very excited to see what the next year will bring. I know that whatever happens I am invested in making this little blog of mine the best that it can be, so I hope you stick around to see where it all goes :)

As always, thanks for reading, you lovely lovely people!

Katie xxx
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