Monday, 24 February 2014

The Great British Sewing Bee- series 2 episode 1 review

Yay! My excitement upon discovering the new series of the sewing bee was to be aired this spring was quite considerable, and, as we do not have a TV in our flat, I logged on to iplayer as soon as the show become available on the replay. Last year I blogged about series one and wrote a short review of each episode which generated a fair amount of interest so I decided to continue with my mini reviews this year.

I should probably say that I felt a small amount of jealously watching the show as I applied to take part myself but sadly one of the researchers informed me that they film midweek and, as a teacher, this would have really not have worked for me! But yay for the people who made it onto the show as they seem like a lovely group of people, although the episode was not without some rather twee, British drama...

First challenge was, drumroll please... A sleeveless shell top! Easy peasy lemon squeezy although some of the poor contestants had never tried this before so didn't get their tops finished. It's really mean that they rank the finished garments, I think announcing the winner and runner up would suffice as the poor bugger who comes last probably could work that out for themselves from the feedback they receive and from having the sense of sight, but hey! There were some lovely tops made but my favourite was Jenni's as I loved its funky 70s print.
Jenni's top

To be honest with a top this simple and without variation choosing a favourite was really down to which had a nice finish and which was the nicest fabric to suit the project. The winner of the first challenge was Heather and this was well deserved I'd argue as even through my fuzzy laptop screen I could tell it was finished expertly and would feel wonderful to wear.

Heather's top
The second project of the episode challenged the contestants to customise a boring woollen skirt into something, erm, less boring? I was not overwhelmed with the results but one customisation job really stood out to me as the most aesthetically striking and wearable and that was Chinelo's pencil skirt with a peplum- I will be doing this myself asap! That is a woman with serious talent, her ability to drape and draft without a pattern is just incredible and really made her stand out in the second challenge...

Chinelo's peplum skirt- nom nom nom!
The winner of this skirt customisation challenge, Tamara, did really not float my boat but did show enormous skill with fabric and trimmings.
Tamara's frilly skirt

The final challenge was to make a silk nightie, and there were some interesting results. I think most of the contestants chose a half decent pattern (although drafting your own un-tested pattern is perhaps not the best idea when under time pressure if you ask me!) but many fell down on their fabric choices. Although a stiffer silk might be easier to work with than a more fluid silk, who wears a stiff nightie? Just not quite fit for purpose.
My favourite was this stunning creation by Chinloa, which the amazing woman created without a pattern?!? It is without a doubt the sexiest creation of all the nightgowns, and if I am honest, the only one I would wear myself. Amazing skill.
Chinlelo's gown

Julie's winning gown was also lovely although my aversion to diamontes would prohibit me from wearing anything quite like it myself, it did show incredible skill, just wow!

Julie's gown

A final note which rings true with my own sewing philosophy from Julie (sewer of the week!)- 'Your better off doing three things fantastically than 10 things rubbish'

A little something to make Monday rather more bearable...*sigh*

Thanks for reading and happy sewing, and let me know in the comments what you made of this episode!
 x x x

Christine Haynes- Chic and Simple Sewing Baby-Doll Blouse

What a lovely book!

I have not tried a pattern book as such before, and this one tempted me from the shelves of 'The Works' in Bury St Edmunds whilst visiting my mum. And I must say, I am impressed.

Chic and Simple sewing contains many lovely patterns, which are all full size and preprinted in a pack at the back, many of which I would actual like to make for myself or a friend. Often I have been put off buying books as they require you to download them and print (I do not own a printer, alas!) or to blow up on a photocopier, which sounds awfully clunky and cumbersome.

I chose the lovely Baby-Doll Blouse to begin with, super simple and very pretty for the hot weather. I chose a simple cream poly-viscose blend with tiny heart prints from Fabric Land, or to be exact, my friend Z chose it, yum!

There are many amazing versions of this blouse and also the dress version, which is exactly the same but with a longer hemline.

I just love the simple vintage feel of this blouse and wanted a simple pretty little weekend blouse (cringe but could not think of a better way to word that...) I chose a lightweight, drapey fabric because I did not want it to stand out like a tent away from my body.

My favourite part of this blouse is the way the yoke is entirely faced with a cute opening at the top the neck at the back. It is so super tidy and neat looking I just love it. I also like the little gathered sleeves and the casual feel to this finished garment. My own gripe is the sizing as I am not a tiny person but I made the smallest size in this and it was massive, and thus pretty unflattering, so I found myself taking in the front and back panels lots in order to achieve a move flattering fit. Make no mistake, I know this is meant to be loose fitting and smock-like in style, but it looked ridiculous (too ridiculous to photograph). I could have accommodated an 8 month pregnancy stomach and with the adjustments it would probably accommodate no more than 5 months of pregnancy bulge.

I wore my top out for the first time this Sunday with my lovely pal who chose the fabric. We ate sushi on the South Bank, wondered down the the Tate Modern and I braved the cold for photos with St Pauls. Later we wondered down to Covent Garden for Snog frozen yoghurt which was ah-mazing, I really must go back asap! Here are said photos:

Snog frozen Yog- yum!

If you like this blouse I recommend Christine's book, its just lovely and so simple to make.
Thanks for reading and happy sewing! x x x

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Kirstie Allsopp's Handmade Party Crowns! DIY Paper Pom-Pom Crown Tutorial

This festive season I fell for 'Kirstie's Handmade Christmas'. As did my mother, who watched the show for a second time just so I could see and appreciate it with her without any complaint. As a result I bought her a copy of the lovely book to accompany Kirstie's crafty show for her birthday, which as it so happens, (regretfully for my bank account), is close to Christmas!

Kirstie worked with Rosy Nicholas on the show for this craft, who was adorable.

Our fave craft from the Christmas special show was the paper crowns which we worked on and modelled over the festive season. The girl helping was stylish indeed and I had no idea that making paper flowers could be so easy, fun and seriously ADDICTIVE! Could this be the new crack of the crafting world? 

Although this is from the Christmas show this is most def a trans-seasonal project, I'm thinking birthday parties, summer festivals, maybe even as decorations hanging from the ceiling. It is very easy to adjust the size of your flowers depending on what you fancy.

Luckily my mum always has an impressive stash of crafting papers in her handmade arsenal so we got to work straight after the show. Check out Miss Allsopp's Christmas special and you will no doubt be impressed with the crafty Christmas crowns- far superior to the lowly  cracker crowns which are, incidentally, always too small for my freakishly large head. The flowers are made by concertina-ing a pile of about 8 sheets of colourful tissue paper then securing in the middle with wire before opening up to reveal the 'petals'. Magic. We then attached these to old hair-bands. I was so shocked that this worked it was obscene. Just look at my expression of pure joy:

Here is a great demo to show step by step how to create one flower:

On the show they also combined traditional woollen pompoms in amongst the crowns which looked really lovely.

My mum's friend Chris gave her a gift wrapped in beautiful patterned tissue paper so I created a simple flower for my mum from this- thumbs up for recycling! 
Again, enjoy the expression of joy:
Now for some various photo of paper flowers, enjoy!

Cat Crown...


Thanks for reading and happy crafting! x x x

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Vintage Pattern Challenge: Vogue 8744 and Mcall's 7902

So December and January's Vintage patterns have been somewhat delayed in  getting to the internet world, but as they make rather a dapper pair what is the harm in posting them together as an ensemble!?

A pretty blouse comes courtesy of Very Easy Vogue (8744) which I foolishly made less easy for myself by using a pretty, yet fray-happy crepe-de-chine from Fabric Land. The finished garment hangs really nicely with the lovely frill but the blood, sweat and (metaphorical) tears nearly stopped this garment from being completed at all, particularly the minefield that was the curved French seamed side seams. If I had time to tend to my overlocker it may have been employed at that moment but sadly we are not currently friends...

But on a purely pattern-related note, this was a simple and effective make which looks stylish and not-too-80s, I would recommend! Should you ever stumble across one at your very own carboot sale. I love how it has turned out and can't wait for the warm weather so I can bust my first vintage blouse in the sunshine!

The skirt (Mcall's 7902) worn with this blouse was a great success and I have already worn it to work, only to be informed by one of my pupils I look like I am going to college (when worn with a white blouse, I guess I can see where he was coming from...)

This pattern was super easy to construct and had POCKETs yay! I feel cute in this and think it will get good wear across the seasons. I did lots of top-stitching over the elasticated portion of the waistband (yes, I continue to avoid zip insertion...) This top-stitching was not in the pattern instructions but why wouldn't you? It looked a buldgy mess without. I really like that only the back was elasticated with a smooth front and really do want to try the cute trousers in this pattern, as that was actually the reason I bought the pattern in the first place.

Perhaps they would be cute in a light weight floral viscose for the warm weather, or maybe even linen, possibly? Although the wrinkles may not be worth it....

Winds of up to 20mph will not stop me taking awkward photos in the rain...

... not at all...

Ok I've had enough now

Close up of the teeny tiny hem on the front flounce

Waist band/sleeve detail

Neckline, tres 80s


The ever so pretty frilly front!

Pockets, nom nom!

I actually love both these simple but effective vintage patterns so if you get the chance, snap them up!
Thanks for reading and happy sewing x x x