The Pretty Wall

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I think I mentioned a few times that I’ve been working on beautifying the girls bedroom wall, although I love the wallpaper it’s still been feeing a little empty. It’s going to be on going project so I thought I’d share how’s it’s going so far and ideas I have for what to do next.

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Selection of vintage postcards (blogged about here)

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Children’s 1950’s Maudella sewing pattern envelope

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Cross stitch done by my aunt and/or cousin?! not sure but we love it!

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Cath kidston cross stitch, pattern from ‘Stitch

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Embroideries of the girls, blogged here (might do Rosie again as it’s a little creepy!)

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Belle and Boo picture from ‘Belle and Boo Book Of Craft’

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Cath kidston cowboy, pattern from ‘Make

 

Here are some more bits I’m starting or haven’t put up yet.

IMAG0257Another vintage postcard.

IMAG0259Postcard of ‘Cowboy Joe From Mexico’ by Angela Lizon

IMAG0266Embroidery Pattern from ‘Little Sew and Sew

belle and boo cross stitch

And finally to celebrate the royal baby in style I’m making a start on this Belle and Boo cross stitch pattern, it’s going to take a while and I’ll probably just hang it up in a embroidery loop, might add some of the bobble braiding too.

Just Like Me Knits by Brandy Fortune

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The unique concept behind ‘Just Like Me Knits’ by Brandy Fortune is to give knitters the opportunity to make matching clothes for children and their favourite toy. There seems to be a real craft movement online at the moment for making clothes for dolls, honestly I don’t really get it. However I thought I’d give this book a try as my youngest daughter has her favourite teddy glued to her side at all times, so I knew she’d absolutely love to wear matching clothes with him!

IMAG0129-tilekhlkjh(Love the reindeer jumper.)

I was pleasantly surprised to find that this is actually one of the first children’s knitting books I’ve seen full of cute wearable patterns. There are no block garter stitch jumpers (yuck!) or mini baggy granny cardigans (double yuck!!) just adorable patterns designed with kids in mind. Also the wool choices are stunning and although I never get round to buying the exact wool in the exact shade featured, I’m really tempted to here! Oooh and there is a good selection of patterns for boys too, a real bug bear with craft books.

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My only real gripe is that I’m not sure why it suggests to use circular needles to knit everything! Of course this is an easy problem to solve, you just use the corresponding normal needles, but it did take me a few reads through to realise everything wasn’t actually knitted in the round.

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So far I have made one sock and two cardigans and not noticed any mistakes in the patterns, my sock did end a bit weird but that’s because I didn’t place stitch markers, I just didn’t realise how totally essential they are for socks! Both projects were knitted with the intention of them being for Lily, even though Lily is tall for her age and has big feet I’d still recommend sizing up as there is nothing worse than spending hours knitting something to realise it only just fits and they’ll have grown out of it a couple of months (which is why it’s great to have two girls!).

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Although I’d tried to jump on board with making something for Mr Bear when it came to the knitty gritty of actually spending real time making something for a toy, I kind of lost my enthusiasm and doubt I’ll do it again (unless Rosie begs me of course).  However there are other patterns I will be knitting up for the girls. I’m really impressed with large age range covered (2-10 years), it makes sure its not one of those book where they will outgrown all the patterns before you get round to knitting them.

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The dolls recommended are cute, but rather expensive at around $200. I stopped getting excited about dolls and teddies in my teens so I just don’t get the whole Blythe/Bamboletta thing. That’s why its helpful that included in the book is a really clear guide to grading the patterns to fit the toy your knitting for, as you can see I managed to size down Mr Bears cardigan and I’ve never done pattern grading before.

hats(Such cute hats!)

Brandy Fortune used to host a knitting podcast, which I never even knew existed but now i’m excited to check out what’s out there! She has a blog called Pixie Purls , if you want to see more of the projects included in the book and finished ones then check out the Ravelry page here.  

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‘Just Like Me Knits’ by Brandy Fortune, Published by Potter Craft, RRP £12.99, Available on Amazon UK here.

A trip to Goldhawk road

IMG_2638Recently I’ve read quite a few brilliant blog posts about fabric shopping in London, usually I just stick to a few shops that I know so I thought it would be nice to branch out and see what else is on offer. So on Thursday we headed to Goldhawk road, as it’s only a half hour bus ride away it seemed the perfect place to start.IMG_2637-horz

There certainly are a lot of shops, and some bargains to be had. I’m going to be honest though and say that even though everyone seems to rave about how amazing it is I couldn’t help feeling disappointed. Yes there are a lot of shops, but most seem to stock the same fabrics (at different prices!) which if your looking for a specific plain fabric in certain weight or texture is perfect, but if your after something special, a stand out print not so good. Of course they are there, but you have to rummage (not an easy task with two kids in tow even when your mum comes to help!) and then you have no idea how much they cost.

I also found the level of service was pretty hit or miss, I think that stuff matters especially because I don’t have a lot of spare cash at the moment, which means I have to save up to buy fabric so I want the experience to be a positive one. In one shop a man followed me everywhere literally at my elbow (which always makes me cringe!), while another tried to charge £5.99 a meter for a low quality printed poly-cotton which is almost double everywhere else I’ve seen. I guess that is a bit unfair because for the most part the shop assistants were both helpful and friendly. And also almost everyone cut the fabric on the generous side.

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Maybe once you learn the shops that work for you it’s a more pleasant experience, but I don’t think I’ll be going back any time soon. I’ve been spoilt by my local fabric shop which stocks the most lovely prints in good quality fabrics, is always welcoming and the girls can play with the toy basket. I’m not giving up on exploring what the other fabrics shops around London have to offer though, Walthamstow market sounds great and definitely on the cards for a visit sometime before Christmas!

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Anyway I did buy loads of lovely fabric and my mum treated me to some to, which of course makes up for it not being as fun as I’d hoped it would be.

IMAG0219Offcuts bin synthetic blend chiffon fabric – 1.5 m

IMAG0216Another synthetic blend chiffon from a different off cuts bin – 2.3m

IMAG0224Cotton voile – 1.6m

IMAG0233Lightweight denim – 1.65m

IMAG0228silk blend – 2m
IMAG0226viscose – 2.1m

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Cotton Lawn – 2m

IMAG0218cotton voile – 2m
IMAG0235As you can see I’ve tried to lean more towards the colours I like to wear (mainly blue!) and simple repeat prints. I’ve found that although I love the bolder colourful fabrics when I’ve actually made clothes out of them they don’t really suit me and I end up not wearing them.

Ooh and here are the bits my mum picked out for herself and grandchildren:

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Sorry if this post was a bit moany, maybe its just me I tend to find to much choice overwelming. I’m less kid in a candy store, more kid at reasonably well stocked tuck shop window.

Sewing Lily Clothes Week!

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I feel like I’ve been a bit of selfish sewer so far this year hardly making anything at all for the girls, now the summer holiday has come round I’ve really noticed how few practical clothes Lily actually has. Since she started school full time, I’ve mostly just been adding to or replacing her school uniform with only the weekends to worry about casual clothes. We have another five weeks together before she goes back so she definitely needs more things to wear! I’ve decided to dedicate this week to sewing Lily as many clothes as I can and work my way through some of my stash of smaller lengths of fabric.

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So today is these button up shorts, totally influenced by Ashley from Sew Ashley Sew’s lovely take on Oliver + S sailboat pants pattern. I love Oliver + S patterns they are simple yet stylish, but way too expensive to buy in this country!

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I decided to draft my own using a 1968 Style Pattern (2124) as a base. I used floral needle-cord fabric left over from this dress which I posted about year ago tomorrow (which is my Blog anniversary!).

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My pattern was a slight fail and it’ll need quite a lot of tweaking before I use it again, so I ended up winging it a bit while sewing the shorts together.

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Which is why the pleats at the front were more of a necessity than a style feature and little bit off centre.

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 They fit her well and she loves them, really that’s all that matters and now I know how to fix the pattern so there aren’t as many mistakes next time. I’ll keep you updated with how I get on with ‘Sew Lily Week’, now I’m off to watch ‘Tales from the Royal Bedchamber‘ on bbc4 and order some Gok Wan knickers à la Bethany from Arched Eyebrow.

Clothes labels and Spoonflower review

IMAG2521My package from Spoonflower arrived last week! At the start of June I blogged about my search for labels to put in the clothes I’ve been making with the intention of selling and was so when happy when I came across a tutorial for making them via Spoonflower.

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So here is my logo for my clothes label, it was really hard to come up with name which expressed what I’m all about that wasn’t already taken! I uploaded this image to spoonflower and repeated it to get a fat quarter of fabric which ended up looking like this:

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IMAG2527From the close up you can see the colours have lost some of their vibrancy, I’d read warnings before ordering my fabric that this would happen so to balance them out I made the colours extra bold in the original image.

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I spent an hour one morning watching ‘Real Housewives of Atlanta’ (yeah I love that crap!) cutting the fabric, ironing and stitching to create these:

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So happy with how smart they look once sewn in and really grateful to Sarah from ‘While they snooze‘ for the original idea of using Spoonflower to make labels!

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I’m so impressed with Spoonflower’s service not only did they keep me updated on my order throughout but considering the postage from North Carolina to the UK was only $2 it arrived really quickly! There was even a cute little handwritten thank you on the invoice! I’m really tempted to design and print more fabric now! I ordered a little fabric sample book and the silk crepe is lovely quality if not a little out of my price rang at $34.20 a yard, a girl can dream though!

Pattern Cutting made easy – Gillian Holman

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Pattern cutting made easy: a step-by-step introduction by Gillian Holman is a simple guide to pattern drafting and modification. As a teacher of pattern cutting and sewing for over twenty years Holman knows just what information is helpful to dressmakers. Its brilliantly concise and straight forward to use, each guide has a simple set of images on one side and numbered bullet point instructions on the other.

Pattern cutting page 1

Although there are instructions for creating block pattern pieces from scratch Holman suggests using manufactured patterns as a base, because drafting your own without guidance is difficult and prone to mistakes. This makes sense, if your not planning on using the pattern for a commercial purpose then why make life more complicated? It’s much simpler to use a basic pattern block you’ve already used and worked out the fit issues with.

Pattern cutting page 2

The book is split into three main sections, skirts, sleeves and bodices with added instructions for creating trouser and jacket blocks. Within the three main sections are multiple variations of cuts, for example within the skirts section there is a circle skirt, fish tail and box pleat just to name a few, all of which have clear instructions on how to modify a basic skirt block to the desired design. The same is done for sleeves and bodices with a wide range of collars and pockets to.

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I used this book to draft my own pattern inspired by the straight cut 1940’s dresses I’ve been reading about recently. As a base pattern I used Colette ‘Pastille’ it’s a good simple base and I’m pretty much a set size with only a few fit adjustments needed. I’ve wanted to make a wrap dress for ages and even tried drafting my own pattern about a year ago but it turned out terrible with a huge gaping gap at the front!

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So when I saw the instructions in this book to do it properly I jumped at the chance, reading through before I started I was a little worried they were to complicated, but once I started sketching it out on paper it all came together and they really made sense. I also modified the skirt block to make it more a-line and created yolk blocks all with help from the instructions in this book. Here are probably to many photo’s of the finished dress, I’m really pleased with how it came out I love contrast of the king fisher blue bias and the bright pink floral fabric:

IMAG2482(lol! not the most flattering camera angle!)dress 3

dress 29781849940733-826x1024Pattern Cutting Made Easy: A Step-By-Step introduction by Gillian Holman
Published by Batsford, RRP £16.99, Available here on Amazon.

Crafty Monday

This is my weekly post to share what I’ve been making, it’s not on a Sunday again, weekends can be a bit busy so I might just permanently move the day for this post.

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I’ve really got into crochet recently and want to learn everything I can, it’s so exciting when your learning something new and it finally clicks in your head! I went back to the issue of Simply Crochet I bought back in January and found this great pattern for a crochet cushion. I backed the crochet with this lovely yellow vintage fabric I’ve had in my sewing box for over ten years, while the backing is made from a fat quarter I picked up at the craft fair back in March.

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Here is a sneak peak at the dress I’ve been working on for my review of ‘Pattern Cutting Made Easy‘ by Gillian Holman. It’s a modern take on all the 40’s style dresses I’ve been inspired by lately and I don’t think I’ve ever used so much bias binding before! It’s almost finished so hopefully I’ll be able to post the review tomorrow.

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Two more books arrived for review last week ‘Just Like Me Knits‘ by Brandy Fortune and ‘Granny Squares‘ by Susan Pinner. I’m totally in love with the granny squares one, right now I would cover our whole flat in crochet if Terry would let me! I’ve already made a start on some socks from ‘Just Like Me Knits’ if you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll know I’m a very slow knitter so I figured the sooner I make a start the better!

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I’ve picked up a few crafty bits since my last post:

IMAG2447Paul Smith fabric for Terry’s shirt

IMAG245480s Knitting book from Copperfield secondhand book shop in Wimbledon (love this shop!)

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Vintage 40’s sewing pattern – I fell in love with this pattern on eBay and although it says it’s a nightdress I would probably just make it as a maxi dress. However when it arrived it was still sealed(!?) so I’m in two minds as to whether to open it or not!

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Loads of sewing bits from my local RSPCA charity shop, I also picked up some bits here for my spring sewing swap partner (I was quite late in posting Kat’s pack so once she’s received it I’ll do a post about all the lovely bits she sent me which arrived today!)

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Project runway pattern free with last months sew magazine – I like pink polka-dot dress (far left) and that the pattern has princess seams – something I’ve never sewn before!

Theshop

(image source: the vintage guide to london)

Lastly since reading Katie’s post on her blog ‘What Katie Does‘ I’m dying to go to this shop called ‘The Shop’ in Brick Lane! It’s literally stuffed with vintage fabric, I’m going to spend the next couple of weeks saving up then go and have a proper rummage around!