Sunday, 3 November 2013

Pretty Pink Polka!

Guys, I am grinning like a Cheshire cat, and why shouldn't I?? Look at what I made!!!!
This is the by far my pride and joy, my most favourite skirt.. and it makes me feel like I might be getting somewhere with my sewing!!!
I wore this skirt to work and was complemented several times, with one women asking me where did I buy it from!!! EEEEKKKK!!!

Anyway I shall stop squealing and tell you a bit about the skirt itself. The pattern is Simplicity 2451.  This is the first time that I have attempted one of the Big Four patterns. As I beginner I have to confess that this was a bit of an eye opener to me. Unlike the indie patterns that I have sewn from previously, the instructions here were concise and I didn't have a lot of hand holding. I had to get K's mum to look at the skirt several times before I was sure of what I was doing.

The fabric is cotton poplin, and although is is so pretty, it was not the ideal weight for a skirt. So I lined the skirt with some acetate lining, and used this tutorial from Moonbeam. I came across her blog and oh my word , I was blown away. Alice, not only has sewn herself some pretty awesome outfits, she made her own wedding dress, and I don't mean a simple dress... oh no no.. this dress has 7 layers!!!! and looks like high end designer make! OH MY WORD!  and here am I getting uber excited about making a skirt!!

Anyway, back to my skirt... I teamed this with my Sorbetto Top ,and it works really well.The pockets make sure they are everything that you need to ensure that your iPhone and purse are comfortably nestled :) I definitely want to make another one , as it is such a delight to wear!

Fabric : Cotton poplin Pink Polka dots( Croft Mill Fabrics  ) ///Zipper and lining (First for fabrics) ///Some lightweight fusible interfacing for the back opening.

Alterations to original pattern: I used size 8, but then shortened the hem a bit. I added a lining as mentioned above. I hand sew the zipper as the foot I ordered of amazon doesn't fit my machine, even though it did say it would! pffttt!!

Monday, 28 October 2013

Wohoo!! My Wiksten Tank Top!

After the saga of my Darling Ranges dress, I decided that I needed to make something that was morale boosting, which meant putting  my beginners level sewing skills to use and be delighted with the end results.
So, I dug out the Wiksten tank Top pattern from my slowing growing pattern stash. This pattern was an absolute delight to work with. The tank is flattering and although the weather is cooling down , the design enables me to wear it with a cardigan. 
The fabric used was a gorgeous Crepe de Chine , which was free from fraying! Hurrrahhhh!!!!

The cute little pockets is a nice bit of detail that requires very little effort ..

I used size XS and it fits perfectly. I have to be honest and say I didn't make a muslin. But I am also going to make an excuse -- my muslin is still in the post.Once it arrives I will be Muslin making here on... 
I am very excited that my top is perfect, and I cant wait to make some more of these. 

Monday, 21 October 2013

Learning Curve: My Darling Ranges Dress

The Darling Ranges pattern by Megan Nielson, is cute, feminine, and wonderful to wear.. if of course you are not a dafty like me and select the right fabric for your abilities ( ie NOT slippery polyester),make a Muslin ( so that you know that the dress will fit) and know how to contain fraying fabric.
As much as I love this dress,The fabric was an absolute nightmare to handle. It was ridiculously slippery, which meant the pieces were not cut evenly. It frayed and frayed and frayed.. oh lord did it Fray...

I used the XS pattern, which works really well, except in the bust area. The dress is ever so tight around there, which means the buttons have gape between them... But the skirt is sooo pretty and falls so beautifully.

The tighter bust means that the seams at the waist are misaligned... but hey ho, that's what learning curve is all about!

I do have some gorgeous polka dotted pockets though :)
The fabric was the most difficult bit of the dress.. ( if i haven't mentioned that before :p) but the pattern , instructions and overall ease to make the dress are simply brilliant....

Fabric : 100% polyester  ( From Ditto Fabrics ), Polyester navy Polka dots for pocket lining (from The Remnant kings) ///Buttons: 5 5/8 c black plastic buttons  (John Lewis )

Alterations to original pattern: I used size XS, lowered the waist by 2 inches, as high waisted dresses aren't particularly my thing. I also shortened the hem, as the dress was way to long for me.I am 5.2'' (160cms), so have to alter probably everything I will ever make.

I haven't decided if this dress is going to be modest enough to wear outdoors as the gape in the bust area, is pretty obvious. But I have definitely learnt a lesson here, and that is to make a muslin beforehand...
I am loving the learning curve, although sometimes extremely frustrating, it is teaching me to persevere, be patient and make the godforsaken Muslin :)

Monday, 16 September 2013

Autumn- Winter Sewing Plans

With Autumn here I think it is best to start making sewing plans for my wardrobe. I have been lurking at patterns online and fellow bloggers and think I need to make a wishlist of all the lovely patterns I would like to sew.
Now this is a 'wishlist' and definitely not a' to do list' as I think that would be setting high expectations for myself and then beating myself for not being able to meet it. I think sewing and blogging are fun activities and if I cant keep the fun element in it because I have stressed myself out trying to juggle a job, life and everything that comes with it... then it is not worth doing. 
So here we go. 

Kelly Skirt number 2 - In Burgundy Corduroy that I have in my stash. This skirt is so versatile, and I am loving wearing my blue one . I cant wait to make another one!

Darling Ranges Dress - I do have the Megan Nielson obsession at the moment. I have already made one of these that turned out okay, but not something I think I couldn't wear in the outdoors ( more of this later) . I am hoping to find some lovely pale blue Chambray and hopefully sew this before it is too cold to wear it. Although I think I could wear it with some thick tights a chunky Cardi and a warm deep red scarf that I am currently knitting.

Named - Batwing top : Have you seen the amazing Named pattern collection?!!? Omg!! I was floored! Sleek lines, clean cuts and something so clinical, yet so desirable. As I have yet to reach to the heights of being an intermediate seamstress, I am hoping to get cracking on this wonderful top. What fabric do I use though? Wool blend??

Colette Anise- I love Colette, although I am not sure if all of their designs would suit me. However, the Anise is something that I have been eyeing for a while now. I would love a Teal, Bright Red and Burgundy ones. Although realistically, it would break my bank to buy all of those expensive wool fabrics and I probably need to have some variety in my wardrobe. If the right fabric comes along, I am hoping to get one of the above mentioned colours made for this year, in the long sleeve version. And since I live in the North of England, out winters last a while, which gives me plenty of sewing time :) 

Lady Skater- This extremely versatile dress has been on my mind for a while now. It looks so flattering. I LOVE  Pings version of this and have bought my cheapy knitted fabric , and orders some clear elastic and double stretch needles. I have been running away from Knits for a while know, simply because I don't know how to handle them, but Ping told me that she used her regular chepo machine to make her wonderful versions, which gave me the confidence to try them out. If it does work out, I am sure there will be a few versions of this dress in my wardrobe. :)

This is Ping Version. She looks adorable and it fits her so well.. I do have a sewing crush on the girl :D

Mathilde Blouse number 2 - Finally last but definitely not the least I would like like to recreate another of the wonderful Mathilde blouse. I made one of these before and I love how it looks and fits me. I have this idea of this green version with pearl buttons and a green lace yolk. If I can source this fabric, you will hopefully see this version , that is currently in my head :)

What are your sewing plans looking like? 

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Life of... Pie :)

As corny or cheesy this may look.. we had the most amazing pie for dinner...
This is a Steak and Ale pie. I used Gordon Ramsey's recipe, which you can find here .

Changes I made:
Omitted the mushrooms, as K thinks they feel like slugs. (!) Added a dried chili, as i like my food spicy. Chili in a Steak and Ale pie?? you ask... Try it , you might actually like it.
Used Black Sheep Ale, and 5 rather than 2 sprigs of the recommended Thyme.

Of course, no pie is complete without a pun- so here is mine..
Unfortunately neither Richard Parker, nor Thirsty No-Name were able to make it to dinner. they had other plans, that involved some sailing!

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Jumped on the Mathilde Bandwagon

So like dozens if not hundreds of crazy sewing bumbles around the blogsphere, I succumbed to Tilly and the buttons, beautiful Mathilde blouseI started reading her blog during The Great British Sewing Bee and then became obsessed with her souvenir Mathilde blouse.

This pattern is easy to follow and Tilly has very detailed step by step instructions on her blog. These are an absolute godsend when you are a novice like me. Every single step was new to me- pleats, french seams, button holes, gathering , attaching sleeves, applying interfacing, back blouse closure techniques, collar facing, sleeve gathering (Whew!!!). Obviously the knowledge of learning these many techniques in one go wasn't enough for me, that I decided to make my own fabric buttons as well. 
I faced quite a few hurdles on the way, not due to the pattern or the instructions but simply by my inability to pay attention to details and my rather deceptive looking heavy hand. But more of that on another day.
So, as I mentioned the pattern is a joy to work with and the end result is this unbelievably cute top that can be dresses up or down . 

Fabric : Polyester Navy Polka Dots ( From Remnant Kings ) ///Buttons: 6 5/8 Cover buttons  (John Lewis ) ,(The Little button shop)///Some lightweight fusible interfacing for collar facing, back opening  and cuffs.

I used the size 2 and have made no alterations to the pattern.The buttons were covered with some red fabric that I had in my stash.
When I decide to make another one I will probably make a more dressier version which would probably include a lace yolk!!

Saturday, 10 August 2013

My Kelly Skirt

There are few patterns around that are a breeze to make, but also look so polished that they might be mistaken to for a high street purchase. The Kelly Skirt from Megan Nielsen patterns is most certainly one of them. I bought my pattern last week and started straight on to making it.
The instructions were a breeze to follow even for a novice like me. I absolutely love this skirt. I have worn it with my White broderie Anglaise Sorbetto, several times already. It makes a classic feminine look and because this is my first ever handmade outfit, I am squealing with excitement. 

My Navy Corduroy Kelly Skirt 

The super cute cat face buttons!!!! 

Polka dotted pockets !!!

Fabric : 100% Navy Corduroy ( From the sewing box, Morpeth), Polyester navy Polka dots for pocket lining (from The Remnant kings) ///Buttons: 5 5/8 wooden buttons  (John Lewis ) , 2 cat face buttons for the pockets (The Little button shop)///Some lightweight fusible interfacing for the front opening

Alterations to original pattern: I used size S, but then next time I make this pattern I will look into making size XS as I have had to take in 2 inches of the waist after I tried on the finished garment. Maybe worth measuring myself properly in the future! I took about 3 inches of the bottom hem, as I like my skirts slightly shorter. I added some cute cat face buttons to the sides of the pockets and used 5 instead of the 7 front opening buttons suggested in the pattern. 

Sorbettos Galore - Round 1

One of the first things I did when I decided to give sewing a go was to browse online for patterns that gave me the assurance that I could make something wearable at the end. A lot of people tell you ' Oh just buy a square of fabric and practice sewing'. That is all well and good, but unless you make something that you can use or wear, the exercise seems tedious and futile. When I stumbled across the Sorbetto Top from Colette patterns, I decided that this was the right time to take the plunge into making garments for myself.
I have whipped up three different versions of this very versatile and elegant top, and feel the itch coming on to make another one.

My First Sorbetto- Broderie Anglaise with back button closure 

Fabric : White Broderie Anglaise for top , slightly ribbed White Cotton for Bias binding (Both -John Lewis) ///Buttons: 7 5/8 wooden buttons  (John Lewis again) ///Some lightweight fusible interfacing for the back opening.

Alterations to original pattern: I used size 2 and lowered the neckline by 1.5 inches to make it a bit more feminine, increased the hemline by 2 inches for that tiny bit extra coverage when I sit down. Added the back button closure, to add shape, make the top more fitted and ultimately make it the main feature of the blouse. :)

Thursday, 8 August 2013

The Best* Chicken Curry in the world !!

Oh the spicy goodness!! 
 * Based on every chicken curry I have ever eaten .

Ingredients : 

Chicken - 500gms (cut into bite size pieces)
Vegetable oil - 2 tbsp
Garlic paste -1 tsp 
Ginger paste-2 tsp
Dried red chillies - 2 ( deseeded if you like your curry mild) 
Coriander powder- 1 tbsp
Garam masala powder- 1 tsp 
Tomatoes - 1 can ( chopped ) 
Cashew nuts- a good handful
Salt to taste 
Chopped Coriander leaves - to garnish 
Ghee ( Indian clarified butter)- 4 tbsp - optional 


Soak the cashew nuts in enough water to cover them for 30 minutes . Then grind to a fine paste. Keep aside, this will be added in the end. 
In a large skillet heat the vegetable oil. To this add the garlic paste and saute until slightly golden. the paste will spit so be careful not to get stung. Ass the chillies and the garlic paste and saute till the aromas are released (~1 min). Now add all the powdered spices (coriander, turmeric , garam masala) and cook it through. The trick to getting well rounded flavours in Indian Cooking is to ensure that the spices are cooked through.(2-3 minutes).Add in the tomatoes and mix well. Again cook it through ( 5 minutes) .
Now it is time to add the main ingredient, the chicken in. Ensure that the chicken is thoroughly coated in the tomato spice mixture. Add 100mls (or less if you prefer your curry thicker) of water and let it cook on a medium flame for 10 minutes.
Once the chicken is cooked add the cashew nut paste that you made earlier on, and blend well. Add the coriander leaves and ghee( if using) on top and give it one final stir.
I normally leave the curry for about 10-15 minutes after this to let the flavours mingle.
I normally serve this with some chapatis or parathas and some Cucumber Raita!

* Recipe from my personal family archives

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Korean Beef Stir Fry

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What you need ( Marinade): 

500gms of beef fillet- sliced into thinish strips
2 -3 garlic cloves crushed
1'' piece of ginger grated or 1 tsp ginger paste
3 medium spring onions ( scallions) finely chopped
80 ml of  Soy Sauce ( I used Amoy dark)
1-tbsp of ground sesame seeds 
Few rounds of freshly crushed black pepper
Salt to taste. 

Season the beef strips with salt and pepper. Mix all of the other ingredients in a non metallic bowl. ( I used a glass pyrex dish). Place beef in the marinate. Cover in clingfilm and leave to marinate  for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight. I made this marinate after dinner one night for next nights dinner. No, I am not organised, but rather was very keen on trying something new. 

What you need ( To cook)

2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp of crushed sesame seeds
Sesame oil to drizzle. 

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok on high heat. Using tongs drop the strips of marinated beef into the wok and stir fry for 2-3 minutes. I did this in batches as my Wok isn't the biggest. 
drizzle some sesame oil and 1 tsp of seeds on the beef once cooked. I served this with some egg fried rice. 
Seriously nommers!

*Recipe taken from a photocopied page of a friend who doesn't remember where she got it from. - if i ever do find the source I will put a link to it here 

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

My New Sewing BOX!!!

I am so Spoilt!! I received this A-MAZ-ING!! sewing box from K as a very early birthday present. It is so pretty. I have already populated it with all my sewing bits and bobs. In the long run I will definitely  need some ribbons, bobbins and some permanent thread storage arrangement thingy. But for now I can't stop staring at this beauty .
The best  about having a sewing box like this, is not only is it super functional and ergonomic, it is also so incredibly delicate and pretty that when not in use, it make great eye candy and would add a touch of class to any room :)