Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Home Improvements #2 - The Dining Room Reveal

You guys, I'm so excited to finally 'unveil' our finished dining room today! We've worked really hard to transform this room - overcoming some frustrating challenges along the way - and we're calling it a resounding success! For the curious among you I've documented how it all started, as well as listing the said challenges.

What's important to note about this room is that it's North-facing and rarely sees direct sunlight. With this in mind we wanted to strip back the previously oppressive decor and make it as light and airy as possible. On the other hand, we didn't want to end up with a stark and clinical room. We've joked that it looks a tad like a media conference/meeting room, but I think there are enough inviting features for this not to be entirely true.

Unlike with our mid-century living room, we went all out to 'finish' this one with all manner of accessories and wall art...although we're still searching for a cute cabinet or sideboard for the alcove on the right. Next on the agenda is to revisit the living room in terms of artwork, accessories and a cabinet/sideboard too. All in good time I guess...it's quite a costly thing this!

I love that I now have somewhere to proudly display my rather stunning, vintage (30s maybe) tea set. And I think my favourite feature of the room still has to be our revamped fireplace!

Overall it's a more contemporary aesthetic than I usually go for, but I think this room was crying out for it, so I'm pretty happy with the end result. What do you think?

Walls: Dulux Blossom White, Dulux Apple White

Floorboards: Dulux Trade Primer & Undercoat, Dulux Trade Diamond Matt Emulsion Paint (Pure Brilliant White), Polyvine Heavy Duty Floor Varnish (Satin Finish)

Rug & Canvas Print: Ikea

Table & Chairs: John Lewis

Light Fixtures: Lights World

Framed Wall Art: Juniqe

Cushions: Aldi

Saturday, 13 September 2014

7 Days of Hawthorn for OWOP 2014

Can you believe that One Week, One Pattern 2014 (OWOP) has drawn to a close already? I had so much fun and enjoyed the many compliments I received from colleagues and friends, so thank you Handmade Jane for your brilliant hostessing skills!

OWOP confirmed what I already knew - that Colette Patterns' Hawthorn is an extremely versatile pattern. However, I am surprised that it seems to divide opinion so strongly. I really don't know why, because it was lust at first sight for me. I'm pretty pleased with all five of my versions and had no problems at all mixing and matching my way through the week. I'm not a huge skirt-wearer, but Hawthorn could easily be hacked into a skirt, meaning that you could get countless of outfits from this sweet little pattern!

Worn with Topshop dress and shoes 

Worn with asos jeans and sandals

Worn with Primark cardigan and sandals

Worn with Office shoes

Worn with Converse trainers

Worn with Topshop cropped jumper and Office shoes

Worn with asos jeans and Primark shoes

Did you take part in OWOP this year? How did you find?

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Collarless Hawthery Dress for OWOP 2014

My second and final make for OWOP 2014 (One Week, One Pattern) may be considered sacrilegious by some, because surely the collar is one of the sweetest things about the Hawthorn pattern?!? As much as I agree with that sentiment, I really wanted to try out a collarless version that would be easier to wear with cardigans. And guess what? I love it for its simplicity and versatility, aided by the pretty neckline and my gorgeous raspberry chambray.

I'm calling this dress a Hawthery (oooh, snazzy!), because I decided to replace Hawthorn's circle skirt with the gathered, A-line Emery skirt. This was pretty easy to do - the back skirt piece is cut on the fold and I cut two front skirt pieces after adding the Hawthorn button placket to the centre front. The placket was very nearly the right length as well!

As I said before, what keeps this dress from being boring is the lovely neckline detail. As I was feeling less lazy than usual I decided to further embellish it with one of my machine's decorative stitches and also went to town on the armholes and hem. Be warned that I may now be decoratively stitching pretty much everything I make...such fun!

One of my favourite things about the Emery skirt is how the pockets are 'hidden' within the side seam. You'd never know they were there, but for my own kicks I made them using some crazy fabric scraps I found in my stash.

So far, my absolute favourite way to wear my Hawthery is with this navy blue cardigan and shoes! Something about the combination of the raspberry and blue makes me so happy. Am I alone in thinking it looks like quite an 'expensive' combination?

All in all, I'm actually taken aback by how much I've loved making and wearing what is essentially, such a basic dress! Have you been pleasantly surprised by a recent make?

P.S. Chambray looks lovely, feels gorgeous and sews up beautifully. But boy does it delight in creasing and resisting the iron!!!

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Cropped Hawthorn Blouse for OWOP 2014

Eeeeep, happy OWOP (One Week, One Pattern) everyone! I'm attempting to get through the whole week wearing five versions of Colette Patterns' Hawthorn. Three of which you've already seen and two of which are brand new for the occasion. I won't be blogging each day, but I will be sharing my outfits daily on Twitter, with a round-up of them all at the end of the week.

I do have one of my new Hawthorns to show you today though, which was also my Day 1 outfit! I followed this nifty tutorial for making a cropped blouse and I really like it! I only wish I had washboard abs to wear it 'properly', but I'm loving it layered up for now.

I just about managed to squeeze this out of less than a yard of vintage fabric. I bought it ages ago on Etsy and was beginning to give up hope of finding something suitable to make with it due to the yardage. I'm so happy I managed it, the two are a match made in heaven. I even found the perfect vintage buttons for it in my stash. Don't you love it when everything comes together so effortlessly?

There's nothing really to say on fit and construction that I haven't already covered here or that the tutorial doesn't go into. What I can say though is that I particularly adore how this cropped Hawthorn blouse nips the waist in. It makes mine look seriously small (please ignore the junk in the trunk) and I can seriously get down with any clothing that does that.  

How are you getting on with OWOP so far?

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Flossie's Pinafore Goes Reversible

Ok, can I get a "How cute!"? I defy anyone (broody or not / with or without children) not to find these little dresses adorable! Embarrassingly, it was waaay back in January when Jeanette (aka Lazy Seamstress) asked me if I'd like to try out her Flossie's Pinafore pattern, but I'm glad I eventually got round to trying it out. The occasion couldn't have been better either - first birthday presents for two special little ladies!

The pattern itself is nice and simple, with just two pieces printed out on high quality paper. It has a sweet little front V-neck and I like that the buttons are actually at the back. I decided to go ahead and make my dresses reversible, so I skipped Jeanette's instructions altogether. As a result, they've come out a little more like tunics in length than dresses. Had I even glanced at the instructions beforehand, Jeanette clearly states that the pattern is designed to be short and advises that extra length might be necessary. So even though this pattern is really simple and highly versatile, I would recommend you at least look through Jeanette's helpful instructions.
The cherry on top in terms of my timing, is that everything in Jeanette's Etsy shop (Flossie's Garden) is currently on sale, including her pinafore kits which include the pattern, fabric, buttons and thread!

On an unrelated note, who's excited about One Week, One Pattern kicking off tomorrow? Are you taking part? I'm off to finish my fifth version of Colette Patterns' Hawthorn in the hope that I can create seven fun outfits...

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Learn to Sew with Lauren - Blog Tour

You probably already know Lauren Guthrie from the first series of The Great British Sewing Bee and I'm almost certain you've come across her beautiful haberdashery, guthrie & ghani. It'll come as no surprise then that the GBSB finalist just released her first book - Learn to Sew with Lauren - and I was excited to receive a review copy from Octopus Books.

The book itself is filled with beautiful photography aided by the pretty fabric choices which I bet you can pick up from Lauren's haberdashery. To me it feels a little crowded at times, but the overall aesthetic is lovely enough to overlook this. 

As the title suggests, the book is aimed at beginners, with a detailed first third comprising of all manner of information and tutorials. It guides you through the basic tools needed, how to read patterns and understand the markings, techniques like setting in sleeves, different types of zip insertions, a variety of ways to hem and much, much more.

Like most crafty books aimed at beginners it has a wide selection of simple projects, including a clasp purse, an oven glove, an apron, a bow-belt and roman blinds. My favourite of the lot are the three pictured above - a weekend bag, a pathcwork quilt and a boarder cushion.

What does set this book apart from others for beginners though, is the very welcome inclusion of dressmaking projects. Lauren has designed her book cleverly right from holding your hand on the easier projects, all the way through building up your confidence and flexing your creativity with a spot of dressmaking. The multi-sized patterms - including pyjama shorts, a yoke top, a skirt with pockets and a collared dress - are all included in full scale. They're overlapped and need tracing, but it's a small price to pay for what you get with this book. 

If you're local to Birmingham and free this Saturday (6 September) then why not attend the official book launch at guthrie & ghani? Don't worry if you can't make that though, because Lauren has developed a series of workshops designed around projects in this very book!

Do you like the look of this book? I think it would make a really great gift for someone wanting to dip their toes in the stitching sea.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

#vintagepledge round-up: over half way there!

We're over half way there and you guys are making excellent progress with your #vintagepledge makes! You were super productive in July and August, which calls for a celebratory and inspirational round-up. As always, you produced some gorgeous separates, but dresses won out once again. To see more pictures, read about construction details and explore any of the blogs below, you can locate them through my dedicated Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge Pinterest board...enjoy!

If these makes don't get you all pumped up for vintage patterns, I don't know what will! I know I'm lagging behind with just one of my five down, but I assure you that I have another two in the pipeline and then two more to decide on!

How are you getting on with your #vintagepledge?