Friends, what are your views on African inspired prints?

I've been kind of oblivious to date, until recently seeing these three gorgeous dresses: by Heather of Closet Case Files, Lauren of Lladybird and Cassie Louise. Now I'm consumed by thoughts of getting my grubby hands on some and stumbling across The African Fabric Shop has made this a dangerously tangible possibility.

My absolute favourites have to be the African Wax Prints, especially the stunning birdcage one and the yummy apple one! The black and white prints could look very chic too.

Wax Prints

But look at all these other interesting prints too, some of which are hand dyed! The elephants are too cute for words and the batiks are also very appealing to me. 


Oh and the array of animal prints - brilliantly labelled Wild Skins - is sublime! Anyone with me on animal prints or do you think they're tacky?

So what do you think? Do any of these tempt you or do you find them too outlandish? Have you ever bought fabric from The African Fabric Shop and would you recommend it?
Forgive me for sharing a non-stitching post with you today, but the stormy weather we've experienced in the Midlands in the space of a few hours has been extraordinary - so much so that it made the national news! I snapped a few pictures on my Samsung Galaxy SII and I was lucky enough to get them published on the local paper's website, which also features loads of incredible films and photos of the flash floods, gigantic hail, scary lightning and tornado (yes, a tornado in England)!

1:30PM - 28 June 2012

2:30PM - 28 June 2012

5PM - 28 June 2012

It's not your expected summer weather, but pretty spectacular, no?!?

What's it been like where you are in the UK? Were you lucky enough to get bypassed, or did you experience similar conditions?
First, an apology. I don't know where the past two weeks went! All I know is that they must have been busy enough to distract me from blogging and sewing as much as I wanted to. Sorry folks!

Second, blame Karen if this post sounds 'unremittingly celebratory'. Karen set me this challenge after she detected an 'apologetic' tone to my last post. I'm delighted to say it won’t be hard to achieve because I simply love this skirt!!!

I used Tilly's fabulous Picnic Blanket Skirt tutorial (Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3) and I originally even bought some maroon gingham to totally rip her delicious version off. But then I found this Michael Miller Beach Hut fabric and it was love at first sight. 

The beach huts are adorable and I love my contrast waistband and shiny red buttons!
Which is your favourite of the eight beach huts then? I think mine's the aqua striped one with the red polka dot roof and cute curtained window (bottom right).

Despite the shockingly shite June weather we're having, this skirt makes me feel ridiculously happy and summery. So much so that I feel I need to express it by doing silly things like...

...swinging off balcony railings...

...and skipping into the crazy wind!

Tilly's tutorial is fantastic and I would strongly recommend it to stitchers of all abilities – who doesn't love a simple project with a super cute outcome?!? Personally I made a few small changes as I went along, mainly due to my bizarre proportions. My waist is A LOT smaller than my hips, so instead of using my hip measurement to calculate the fullness of the skirt, I used my waist measurement. I’m so glad I took that gamble, because it still turned out very full. Also, I didn’t allow the recommended 1 inch ease for the waistband, because I like a snug fit. Again, I’m so pleased I did this because I used a linen blend for my waistband and it’s quite stretchy. I guess I could have made it an inch smaller in fact, but it’s still ok as it is. Finally, I left my hemming until last just to be on the safe side…it turns out everything lined up perfectly, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Anyway, I thought I'd leave you with something to chuckle at. I've been a long time admirer of anyone who can pull off a wicked jumping pose (especially
Paunnet's super cool one), but my attempts were woeful. The minute my feet leave the ground, I lose all control of my face!

Left: preparing for take-off in a fairly delicate manner / Right: all elegance lost in flight
It's been really hard to photograph stuff this dreary June weather, so I got up especially early today to take advantage of the short-lived sunshine...and lovely it was too!

Anyway, if my original Grainline Studio experiments below could be referred to as the floral series... 

...then today I have what can only be described as the 'abstract animal series' to share with you. I really hope my rather garish taste in jersey doesn't put you off these two patterns, because they really are so versatile and a joy to work with. Personally, I can't wait to make them up with some cotton voile or lawn as well!

What?!? I'm the first to admit my taste in prints can be somewhat questionable...but just look how nicely this hangs!

Once again I omitted the tiny pocket from the Tiny Pocket Tank and I also raised the front neckline a smidge, which is much more to my taste.

I love finishing off the neckline and armholes using Tasia's method outlined in her Renfrew. It's such a professional and neat finish. 

I enjoy chilling in my roomy clothes - so comfy...bliss!

I don't know if you can tell, but the fit my new Scout Woven Tee is much better than the first. I was brave and cut out a whole size down all over this time (from a size 8 to a 6) and it has totally done the trick - I'm very pleased with the slightly 'snugger' fit.

This pattern has some lovely details like the softly gathered (or pleated in my lazy case) sleeves and the asymmetric hemline. 

So that's enough on the garish jersey front. I do promise that I have something other than jersey and other than tops to show you soon...

Here's some gorgeous cotton prints I'm working with at the moment

And a dress I can't wait to show off - it is jersey mind you, but it's not a top! Small steps ;o)

So, how have you all been enjoying your weekends? Did you manage to get much stitching done?
Like all good things that come to an end, so has almost this super long weekend celebrating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee (60 years on the throne). On the upside though, this does mean we have a three day working week to look forward favourite kind of working week!

Although I didn't partake in any Jubilee celebrations as such, I did get a few sewing projects finished (posts on these to come) and managed to make some progress with my knitting. 

Front and side detail...

Sleeve detail...

I started my Panelled Effect Lady's Jumper (from A Stitch in Time Vol 1) back in March and I am only just over half way through! It's because I'm generally really slow at knitting and also the pattern which repeats over six rows is impossible for me to memorise, so I have to refer to the book all the time. I did want a challenge though and I sure got one, but I'm seriously enjoying the process. I just find knitting so darned comforting and a completely different experience to sewing!

What does make me break out into a cold sweat though, is the thought of sewing this finished baby up. I know how to do a mattress stitch, I think I know how to do a backstitch, but I'm sure performing either of these on a 'big' project is not that simple. on earth do you set in sleeves...eeek? 

Can you tell I'm panicking even though I'm probably months away from finishing? Want to help me? I'd really appreciate it if you have any handy tips to share or if you can point me in the direction of any good tutorials, books, knitalongs and so on. I'll be forever indebted!