Sunday, 29 September 2013

Supplies, Vintage and Stuff!

It's been a crazy hectic time here these past few weeks! Since moving the studio again (and then again, after that.. phew) I've had to drastically down-size to make room for the things I really need and so have opened my very own supply store on Etsy with the intention of de-stashing my.. rather large stash! It's so hard letting go of some things but I know I'll probably never use them, and unfortunately 'probably never' isn't 'probably will' and thus I have to let it go. *sigh*. My inner hoarder is screaming at me to keep everything but I just can't!

Here's a little selection of what's on offer. From beads, findings, vintage sewing and knitting patterns, fabric, leather off-cuts and even vintage clothing! I'm very happy to find that there are people out there who want my de-stash stuff, and so long as there is demand, I shall deliver.

Happy browsing ♥

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Create because you can, not because you have to.

We've just returned from a week in North Devon, celebrating a lifelong friend's wedding which was so so beautiful, pretty much everything was hand-made, with so much time and love gone in to every lasting detail it really was one of the most beautiful weddings ever - some images from the day can be found on the official photographer's blog here.

What with the wedding, days lounging on the beach until darkness, watching the sunset, fighting through crashing waves, walking for hours along riverbanks and through sand dunes with no real destination, upon returning home I've never been so inspired to create - I even found inspiration for a new dress in a washed up pile of rocks at Putsborough Beach (of which I've brought a few home as a reminder).. I'll be collecting fabrics for this over the next few weeks or so.

As for dresses, I actually started on a brand new dress today and have spent the last few hours playing with materials and my Singer, the living room looks like a fabric bomb has hit it. It's very much based on the dress I made for my wonderful friend in Canada which you'll find here.

Some progress shots?
I've been having so much fun these past two and a bit years growing my tiny little business that I completely forgot to slow down and take a break - even throughout my holidays I'd continue working..! I LOVE running my little shop, it means everything to me and I love all the people I've met who support me and make it possible for me to do what I love - over the last couple of months it's sort of exploded into something so much bigger than I ever imagined, every spare minute of my days and nights have been spent working hard on my etsy shop and bookbinding, I totally forgot about all the other things I love to do as well! 
Some of you may have noticed my etsy shop is currently in 'vacation mode' and will remain that way until at least the end of this week and possibly a little longer whilst I re-visit all the stuff I've not had time for like dressmaking, illustration, photography and generally being creative.

I'll announce on facebook / twitter once I've re-opened and if you really want to stay up to date, you can use the 'notify me' button in my etsy shop using the link above. 

Until then, never forget - it is ok to slow down from time to time. Don't miss out on the other great things life has to offer and always take time to create because you can and not because you have to. 

Happy creating - I'm off to explore my fabric boxes..

Saturday, 18 May 2013

My Beautiful Singer 185K

I picked this little gem up online at what I consider to be a HUGE bargain at just £20.00, I was slightly worried having bought it totally on impulse without even having a chance to test it out or even find out what model it was! With only one photo and no description other than the fact that it's a Singer and the bobbin was bunching I took a punt (but a justified punt at £20) and it appears to have paid off as she works wonderfully!
I have a bit of a habit of buying on impulse, and it usually means I'm about to embark on a journey of total money-wasting nightmarish-ness. When I picked this up from the previous owner she told me there was some bunching going on with the bobbin thread but she never got around to fixing it. I didn't test it out before I cleaned her up and oiled her but I'm pleased to say that she appears to be working perfectly and as so many others have said before, the 185K sews the most beautiful straight stitch I've ever seen! She came complete with table and what appears to be most if not all of the original accessories. The only issue I'm having is getting the bobbin to wind but I think it's just a case of buying a new tyre but I can use the winder on my other machine so it's all good.

The table does need a little bit of work but I'm hoping M will do something for me since he's a woodworker n'all but it's still totally useable! In the meantime, here are some photos. I'm a little envious of my fellow 185 owners in Canada or the US, as their versions (the 185J and 185) are a lovely green colour - I'm not too keen on the tan/brown of the British version but I suppose I can learn to live with it!
Check out the stitch to the right of the foot - beautiful!
Well, I'm off to find some fabrics and start making another dress like the Secret Garden Dress and Ragdoll Dress

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Bank Holiday Car Boot Booty

Did you all have a wonderful Bank Holiday weekend? I enjoyed every bit of it! My sister H and I were up at 5:30AM on Saturday to do a local car boot, now - apparently that wasn't early enough as by the time we got there we were really far back in the queue! 

I was rushing around my home the night before looking for stuff to sell and felt a little bittersweet about having given it all to charity or away on Freecycle in the weeks before to make space as we moved home/studio for the millionth time in a couple of years so I ended up with only a small box of bits to sell and a few books. On another note, what's kind of funny is going to my favourite charity shop and picking out things I like only to realise I donated it last week - ugh!.
The day started off absolutely crazy, I was hanging H's clothes on a rail as quickly as they were selling and people were turning boxes of bits upside down before we'd even got them on the table, set-up took twice as long as it should have because people were coming around behind the table where we were and rummaging in boxes we were yet to set out and in the boot.
Definitely not much fun first thing in the morning when all you can think about is where your next cup of tea is coming from but we coped and it eventually calmed down! During the huge rush for a small but very confusing moment I actually thought I'd sold H's coat that she'd been wearing to a customer. Fortunately not though, She'd never have forgiven me!

I did end up keeping stuff from our own stall, I can't be the only person who does this? All of a sudden I got this overwhelming feeling of ownership over stuff I never really needed or wanted.  
I want that, can I have that?
I NEEEEED it - gimme that.
When things quietened down a bit I went off in search of a much needed cup of tea. It only took about thirty seconds for me to return with a 3/4 size beginners guitar and rather gross looking vintage leather case to drop off to the car. The disappointed head-shake from H when she caught sight of me said it all but y'know, these things are necessary requirements in my life, besides - if I've just got rid of a load of stuff then I have room to fill the space back up, right?
I'm sure M thinks our bed is giving birth to guitar babies, there's a serious collection going on under there (I can't really play very well either but shhh).

-OK, round two GO AND FIND TEA. This time I was much better behaved bringing only the tea back but perhaps that was because I had no hands free to rummage? I spied a vintage satchel on the stand opposite us on my way back. I thought the days of finding awesome stuff at car boots were long gone after I found the last satchel, which has since become my most used bag ever! To begin with I left it as I'd just bought a bag, but after another hour had gone by and it had been staring at me the whole time I couldn't resist so went and got it for a bargain £3. It needs a little TLC but nothing a bit of scrap leather and some thread can't fix. I can even put to use the stitching pony M made for me a couple of years ago!
The ugly leather case and pretty vintage satchel, both £3 each!
Then I had one more look around the stalls nearby us. A house clearance guy had a crate filled with hand embroidered linen, tray cloths, lace and such, I managed to bag the lot plus a tiny vintage liquorice tin all for £5.00
The vintage Nigroids liquorice lozenges tin,
it goes nicely with my vintage typewriter ribbon tin.
I sense a new collection coming on - Small AND functional!

After spending pretty much all the money I made on the small amount of stuff I had for sale I thought that was that. I vowed not to hit another car boot for at least a few weeks and even then, only go when I'm looking for something specific.

Well, that was a very very short-lived vow because on Bank Holiday Monday I happened to be passing another car boot as everyone was packing up and picked up these cute glazed pottery critters that I had to haggle UP because it made me sad that the maker was selling them so cheap!
I only picked up the hare to begin with, I chatted for a bit then paid and started walking away then the smaller pieces caught my eye, so went back and bought them. Then as I was walking away again I had to take the big bears too, I didn't think they'd like leaving their cubs y'see.. ahem.. I have no idea what I'll do with them, I think the heart in the bottom right of the photo will become a pendant but the rest.. not a clue! I can't remember what I ended up paying in the end as I spent in three transactions but to give you an idea of why I haggled up, the sellers wanted around 20p-30p for each piece.

This haul wasn't bad for me, I'm renowned for bringing complete rubbish home from car boots so I like to think I didn't do too bad considering my previous 'treasure' finds. I do regret buying the ugly vintage case which I did try to re-sell on our stall towards the end of the day but evidently no one actually wanted it which didn't surprise me. It does fit my laptop nicely however, so once it's aired a bit it will most likely become the home of that!

Did you visit any car boots over the weekend?

I'll leave you with a beautiful treasury one of my newest journals was featured in which hit the front page of etsy yesterday - super chuffed!

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Colette Sorbetto Tank Top Pattern Review

During my self-induced Pattern Therapy sessions (hah) I decided I needed to make myself some new tops for Summer since my wardrobe consists of the same colour palette: creams, khaki greens, smudgy browns and dusty Pinks! Seriously - If you've seen me anywhere around over the past 12 months you'll think I always wear the same thing! 

Not only does my wardrobe consist of the same colours, but also the same style of garment, namely the trusty tunic, thus begins the search for the perfect tunic pattern (I can only change one thing at a time, and this time it's the colour, NOT the style, K?). Whilst looking for the perfect tunic pattern (still searching if anyone has any suggestions!) I re-stumbled across the Colette Sorbetto tank top and since it's a freebie download from the website, decided to give it a go.
I've had to peg the tank for 'aesthetics' - more on the sizing below!
The top itself is a basic tank with no closures (yey) and a box pleat down the front. This would be a great starter project for beginners using only two pattern pieces and just a handful of basic techniques. It's easily adaptable if you want to make adjustments too which is my next challenge.

The pattern prints out onto 25 pages which includes all your instructions, there's no colour coding so you can print out in grayscale to save your ink. It was simple to piece together and the fact that I have a guillotine REALLY saved me some time cutting out each block! 
I found the fabric requirements to be very generous, suggesting 1 1/2 yards of a 45in or 60in fabric but I used a 60in fabric and managed to squeeze the pattern into just half of that with a 27 inch cut for the size 10. If you want matching bias tape you'll need more and I can't vouch for any size larger than a 10 as I haven't made them! You'll definitely need more if using a 45 inch fabric. 

I have SO much of the fabric I used so this project would help use a bit more up (I really have to start using the materials I already have and stop buying new stuff and squirreling it all away). It's a lightweight cotton given to me by my grandmother last year so the ideas was to make a pyjama top to match the knickers I made using the same fabric a few weeks back. 
I won't lie, the length of the original scared me - I'm used to wearing my tops swinging around my hips, this is WAY too short for me but I wanted to follow the pattern accurately to work out adjustments for the next one and for a PJ top this length is just fine.

Now, sizing.. Because this is US sizing I made sure I took all my measurements to get the right size and came up somewhere between a 6 and an 8. The pattern recommends taking the larger measurement and cutting this size so I should have cut an 8. Somehow when I came to actually cutting the pattern though I managed to follow the lines for a size 10 and only noticed when I finished - I think there must have been a mental note embedded in my brain telling me I'm a UK 10 so cut that, urgh.
To make things easy I just went with it and made up the 10 BUT it didn't matter this time round, firstly because this was just a trial to see how the pattern goes together and secondly because it's only going to be used as a pyjama top so actually, the larger size is ideal. I'll pretend I did it on purpose ok? OK?! When I re-make I'll have to go for the 8, maybe even the 6.
See those gaping arm-holes? That's kinda what it looks like on me!
This pattern is so easy to follow and I'll definitely be buying from the Colette range in the future. All techniques are fully explained before going ahead to do them so if it's your first time you can't really go wrong! The one and only bit I really really hated was applying the bias tape. This was horrid - not because it was hard, it was just too tedious for my liking! If I'm going to go through all that effort again I'll definitely make matching bias (although I have my eye on this amazing panda fabric from The Eternal Maker, and some blue spotty bias similar to the stuff I used that goes really nicely)!

I'll definitely be making more of these, in the smaller size for day-wear! Adjustments I'd like to make are the following:
Add a peter pan collar with buttons down the pleat
Add lace on pleat
Lengthen into a tunic
Lengthen into a dress (maxi, anyone?)
Invert the pleat
Buttons down reverse

All in all I'm happy I have a new set of PJ's, I've used up some more of this fabric which seems to be never-ending and I have a new pattern to play with - yey!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Hello Spring!

I've just returned from the post after sending out all my outstanding orders which means I have a rare afternoon free to myself! To celebrate I've poured myself a nice cool drink and have flung the windows wide as the weather is stunning today, it actually feels like Spring FINALLY! I'm having a go at making the Colette Sorbetto tank top using some vintage fabric my grandmother gave me last year. I made a pair of knickers in the same fabric so the idea is that I'll have a new pyjama set should everything go to plan! Photos to follow if all goes well.

Until then, I'm excited to announce I now have NEW colour leather journals! This Dark Forest Green is one of a number of pretty new colours available for 2013, I think it's my new fave! I have more colours coming soon but for now these will have to suffice - which is your favourite?
AND you can now buy lined journals straight from my shop (in the past you had to contact me prior to this!) This should make transactions a whole lot easier for everyone without the backwards and forwarding of emails and etsy convos to see if I can do them!
I'm excited to say that I have moved my studio - again! This time into a smaller space so it's a bit of a squeeze, just as I think it's looking nice and tidy and everything fits I remember I have a whole bunch of other bits to bring over so I imagine I'll be shuffling around for the next few weeks until it's 'perfect'. It's also going to mean getting rid of a lot of materials so I'll be opening a supplies shop on etsy for this purpose. More on this soon.

During my huge-clear-out I'm also hoping to knock up some new tutorials so keep your eyes peeled! I'm off now to attempt this tank top - wish me luck! I'll leave you with a treasury featured on the front page of etsy on Thursday featuring one of my journals!

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Pattern Therapy - Dyslexia Busting Flirty Thrifty Floral Short Shorts

I can't be the only one who avoids shop bought patterns can I? Back in my pant post I mentioned how rusty my pattern cutting skills were. Well, I also really need to brush up on pattern reading skills! I've been dressmaking for a while now but have fallen into this irritating habit of avoiding shop bought patterns because they scare the heck out of me - and I don't think it's just because if I'm making for myself I can be a really really lazy seamstress. 

My dyslexia has always been a total pain in the backside when doing anything remotely academic. If I have to read it first, it's 100% going to take me 10 times as long as it should. I need to either see or do, to learn anything. With a deficit in working memory, short term memory loss and a 'below average' comprehension score, I find it really hard to follow the simplest of instructions, especially when I have to read them, so this pattern reading lark was a little test to see if I can train my coconut in to thinking it's cleverer than it actually is. Let's call it pattern therapy. Yeah I like that. T.H.E.R.A.P.Y.

"Read. Now read again. And again. Well done. Ooh what did that bit say? OK now read again. OK good, now sew. NO NO WAIT. WAIT WAIT. Read again. Double check that bit. hmm.. Tea break."

If I'm one day going to be the super pro dressmaking lady I hope to be I need to dream big and start small - easing myself into this new pattern reading territory with a nice and simple starter project. I had a rummage through a whole bunch of old patterns that belonged to my grandmother and picked out a 1969 McCall's (9784) misses dress and shorts pattern with a little "Time saving QUICKIE" logo that I liked the look of! I opted for the shorts as a nice easy make to start with. And a nice easy make they were!
I was super happy to find I didn't need to buy a single thing for this project which I LOVE. I used supplies I already had and the fantastic floral stripe fabric which used to be a curtain came from my stash, originally bought from a car boot sale for about 50p. I have literally so much of this fabric it's about time I actually started using it. 
I also want to point out that after not bothering to check my measurements against the envelope or even try them on whilst making to see if it was going to be worth the effort, I'm happy to announce that they are the perfect fit - which means this was a very smooth make indeed.
I found this particular pattern really easy to follow, with minimal 'extra effort' steps apart from the occasional traipsing off to press fabric and seams which I should be doing anyway. The only thing that bothered me was the zip and that was my own fault. Let's not talk about the zip, I got there in the end and that's all that matters. It definitely took me longer than it should have, but I made it through the entire pattern (many times) and my shorts look like shorts! The only alteration I made was to the length, turning them up twice as much as the pattern states and outwards to make the turn-ups a feature as opposed to inwards to make a tidy hem. I really really love these, the pattern could easily be altered too - I'd definitely like to try making them with a slightly heavier fabric next time and a wider waistband.

I loved doing this, so I now challenge myself to work my way through the entire pattern box.
 Here's to Pattern Therapy ♥

Tuesday, 5 February 2013


WHAT! February already? 2013 is going so fast and with my tax return having taken up pretty much all of January I'm excited to get started on new things. To kick things off I just had to share what I've been doing this afternoon because it's way too cute not to. Meet Fox - how sweet is he? He's not finished yet but I had to post a quick photo! All hand drawn, cut and sanded, he needs a bit of varnish and he'll be good to go to a new home (unless he permanently attaches himself to a chain around my neck, fine by me!). The start of a new collection? Maybe!
On another note, exciting times - I logged onto Etsy today to find that one of my leather bound books was featured on the front page yesterday and as a result someone snapped it up super quick! Below is the treasury in question, lots of beautiful items in there to peruse if you have the time. I'm excited to say I've bought a bunch of new materials for more books so they should be ready for the shop in no time. New colours for Spring yey!