Birmingham Blogger Meet Up!

So much has been going on recently that I want to share.

Firstly the lovely Lizzy from Sew Busy Lizzy nominated me for a liebster award.

Here are the Liebster Blog Award Rules

1.  Add the award icon to your blog! Done

2. Link to your nominator to say “thank you” . Thank you Lizzy! You are such good fun to chat with on twitter and of course I love reading your blog too!

3. Nominate 5 blogger with less than 200 followers. It’s very tricky to tell which blogs have less than 200 followers. Or find blogs that haven’t already been nominated! I’ve made a good attempt at finding some new people to list that fit these two criteria.

My nominations:

frk.bustad – http://frkbustad.blogspot.co.uk

Ida – http://hejaida.com

Helen – http://helenssewingadventures.blogspot.co.uk

Mancunian Vintage – http://mancunianvintage.wordpress.com/

Becky – http://alittleonesadventures.blogspot.co.uk/

All lovely people who I am fairly certain meet my two criteria detailed above.

Take a look and maybe follow them!

This week I won a vintage Vogue pattern from Dotty Doodle.

All thanks to her twelve in twelve pattern giveaway!

We’re calling it the Vogue ballerina dress.

It’s like Anna Karenina meets 80s Opera Gown right?!

I also recently finished a polka dot tea dress and a casual blue and black top and I’ll blog about both once I have some photos to include.

And thanks to Mr AR’s creative thinking I got a new cutting table.

Luckily it can be dis-assembled and hidden away when needed.

So I instantly had to think of something to try it out… And promptly started revamping my sofa cushions by making more exciting covers for them.

Finally I need to share about what a lovely time I had in Birmingham on Saturday!

Marie has already posted a round up so I’ll just add a little more here.

Marie and Kat were so lovely to host our meet up.

There were 16 of us out for the day.

I don’t think they expected so many ladies to turn up but they did so well making us feel welcome with name badges and chocs.

Bet it felt like they were herding cats as we all darted around the stalls at Birmingham’s famous rag market.

There were so many lovely ladies to chat to, all with differing levels of experience in sewing, knitting and blogging!

I leaned a lot from them.

After a lovely lunch we engaged in a swap and I was very lucky in leaving with three new patterns.

The main thing I learned about swaps is bring more stuff! I really underestimated what everyone would bring and I shouldn’t have been so precious about my stash.

Got to be tough with yourself if you want to make a good swap!

I went a bit crazy with my fabric shopping but stayed within my maximum budget for the day.

From left to right, top then bottom:

2m confetti print georgette £2.50 / m
2m red polka dot poly / crepe-de-chine wannabe £2.50 / m
3m black and white satin large polka dot £2 / m
2m black and white tiny polka dot rayon £2 / m
3m of black and white small polka dot satin £2 / m
2m of black and white diagonal crosshatch georgette £2.50 / m

Here we all are!

Truly was a wicked time!

Roisin – Dolly Clackett
Alice – Moonbeam
Helen – Sew Stylish
Helen – Helen Made
Rachel – House of Pinheiro
Catherine – Catherine’s Daze Blog
Amy – Almond Rock
Suzy – Suzy Sewing
Mellie – Mellie’s Workroom
Karen – Did You Make That?
Winnie – Scruffy Badger Time
Kat – Krafty Kat

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Spooky fun

That’s right! I’m still here. Just slightly delayed in posting.

I wanted to post earlier but have been working hard on an odd little project.

IT’S NEARLY HALLOWEEEEEEEEEN!!!!

Ahem. And as the resident family seamstress I was called upon for costume duty.

I’ve mentioned my younger brother, Little Fro, before.

Well he came up with a genius costume idea for his “super-villains party”. Look away if you’re easily frightened.

Tommy Lee Jones – “Two Face” from Batman Forever

This was going to be great fun to do I thought…

LF provided me with two suits; a gross beige one and a serious black business one. He’d got them from a charity shop near him. He also got two shirts; one pink and flamboyant and a more somber dark stripe. And to cap it off two ties; one paisley pattern the other blood-red.

The tie was the easiest.

I cut it down the middle and stitched it down on top of the other with a mad zig zag stitch.

Next up was the jacket. I marked the centre backs of each and then cut including seam allowance, right up and through the collars. I had to keep reminding myself which side had to be light and which dark as that affected which side of the centre back my seam allowance should be. I stitched the centre backs together from the edge of the collar to the vent from the beige jacket. I then fudged a vent in the black jacket. I felt LF could probably use some give in the butt area.

The collar was tricky. I essentially had to flip the seam allowance so it was pointing towards me. That way when the collar was folded over it wouldn’t show on the outside edge. I had to grade the seams right down to stop it from being bulky but it came out pretty good!

The shirt was a similar matter, except the two shirts were slightly different sizes and had different style features!

I thought the best I have to do is make the neck match up so he can do his top button up ready for his tie.

I matched the centre backs with seam allowance and sewed up the back and collar in the same fashion as the jacket. I had to move a lot of buttons on the front placket though to get them to fit through the new holes.

Finally the trousers. I’m most amazed how these turned out.

One thing not in our favour was that both pairs of trousers were slightly too small for LF.

I carefully unpicked the crotch seams and preserved the beige trousers zip front.

I didn’t want the mess of installing a brand new zipper so I just used the fabric surrounding the existing zipper to make a flap on the black trouser leg.

I aligned the zip first. Then stitched in place. Because I’d maintained the zip I felt I should maintain the button as well.

Then I rejoined the crotch and butt seams. I tried to use as little seam allowance as possible, did two lines of stitching AND rang my serger over it all for strength. If they were going to be tight I didn’t want to take chances.

In the end I thought it was rather neat and considering this was supposed to be a quick job I probably agonised over it waaaaay more than I should have!

Little Fro was so happy with the result. The trousers were too tight but that didn’t stop him dancing all night apparently.

He got ready at my flat so I could see the whole transformation and be on hand for any alterations.

His make up is totally creepy. You can see how he’s straightened and backcombed his ‘fro on one side and slicked it down on the other.

And here is a photo from the party where they made him pose in terrible lighting. Hoping I get sent a better photo of him in full glory.

He wore different coloured shoes to complete the look as well. Dedication!!

Now I wasn’t going to let the suit go without a little try on myself, so for your enjoyment here I am looking like a loon in my glasses and no make up.

Enjoy!

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Sewing Admin

Organisation is becoming a MUST for my sewing spot.

I already try to regularly clear my sewing tools away, rather than leaving things strewn across my table but that’s not enough.

I have a ludicrously small amount of space and I keep catching Mr Almond Rock cringe as he looks over at the various cuts of fabric and pattern pieces spreading over our second sofa in an aggressive manner!

First up I tackled my patterns. I was originally keeping them in a set of three plastic drawers. The drawers were a dreary grey colour, the handles had broken and I barely fit what I need in them anyway.

To the trash!!

Instead I bought this little beauty. It’s an expandable document holder in grey and black with what reminds me of Blackpool on it!

(yes it is also grey, I’ll give you that, but you must agree its not dreary right?! Unless you have bad childhood memories of rainy days in Blackpool)

It’s got oodles of space for all my commercial pattern envelopes, my prima patterns that I keep in A4 ringbinder inserts, as well as my own patterns and any traced patterns that are just folded up pieces of baking paper.

The envelope tops peek out a little so I can find them quite quickly which helps.

Its made such a big difference already to the space.

Next up I decided to purge my scrap bag. Or should I say scrap BAGS.

Yes there are two. One for fabric left over from projects and the other with ufos and wonky muslins in.

I attacked both.

Less that a fat quarter or this red plain cotton? TRASH!

Dress muslin with shoulder sewn back to front?! TRASH!!

3 metres by 5cms long black wool?! TRASH!!!

Top muslin that’s about 8 times too large and covered in dust and what looks like fabric paint? TRASH!!!!

etc etc….

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t like throwing away what could be valuable to someone else but trust me I was not letting go of anything usable.

I filled a big carrier bag full of scraps which was quite rewarding.

Finally I’ve organised my cord. I got a lot of this gifted to me and although I do use it for braided jewellery this stash isn’t going down in size very quickly.

So I got this cute little teal washing basket! It holds everything nice and neatly.

Sorted.

What sewing admin do you try and do regularly?

Any tips for a lady with zero spare space?

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Refashioning to the max-i

I call this the Promaballoona project.

If you don’t know about Oona and her “recent” Promaballoona you’re missing out. I wanted to go but had my own deadlines to work to and couldn’t whip up a dress in time (or sort the minor matter of flights out).

Watching with jealousy as everyone else got ready, attended and had a kick-ass time made me think of my own “prom” gown. I use air quotes because I’m talking about my graduation ball from University instead.

I was such a silly girl. I bought a vintage 70s dress that made me feel like a Bond-girl in the casino…

…problem was my kick ass dress didn’t help me have a kick ass night. There was no James Bond to liven things up!

I barely had any friends in my year, and the ones I did have weren’t attending. I got some nasty comments on my dress. And I had a pretty lame night overall.

I cringe when I look back on it.

Errr and for the record NO, I’m not putting any pictures on here as I’m cringing all over again at the thought! *Shudder*

It’s all okay though because I gate-crashed my friends’ ball the next year while I was doing my MA and we had an amaaazing time.

Ahem, anywhoo I still loved the dress and had wild ideas every now and then to chop it up and refashion it.

I’m not really a maxi dress girl being so tiny. And the huge flouncy sleeves just swamped me really.

But check out that gorgeous flower detail. That had to stay.

The dress is pure acrylic, which is partly why I think it photographed so incredibly badly with flash and without. But it looks good in person trust me.

First I unpicked the sleeves and sewed the arm holes as if the dress was always strapless. A little fiddly since I didn’t unpick the whole back bodice so had to turn the seam allowance inside and topstitch into place.

Then I removed the skirt and lining completely. The skirt is a lot tighter than my uni days since my derriere is now more pronounced!

So I made a new skirt pattern that was more gathered and swishy then the maxi column skirt and cut the lining and fabric out.

I then sewed it all up and made sure I added pockets to the skirt. Because who doesn’t love pockets!

The zip was a bit tricky. The dress had a lapped centre back zipper.

Due to my unpicking and altering work I had to upick the whole thing and turn it in to a centre back zipper. It actually came out rather neatly!

I finished the whole thing in about 7 hours (split over a series of nights) and wore it out on Saturday to a lovely dinner in Harrogate.

Dinner was for my Mum’s and Brother’s joint birthday celebrations. We went to the amazing William and Victoria Restaurant in Harrogate.

I still think I made it a touch too long. I wanted it at knee level but it’s just over my knees so still makes me feel a bit titchy! I’m going to take up the hem a couple of inches to raise the va va voom.

I’m really pleased that I now have a dress I can still wear and can hopefully create some happier memories to associate with the dress.

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Red Velvet… cupcakes, not the film*

My Autumn/Winter sewing plans are coming along nicely…. Twinkle nearly done and other bits and pieces cut, traced etc.

But I decided I needed a different creative outlet this weekend.

BAKING!

I love baking because I get to work out my stress and then I get a sweet reward at the end.

I wanted to make red velvet cupcakes for several reasons. Here are just three:

1. I’ve been pinning and reading about lots of buns/cupcakes/muffins lately. Guaranteed to make me feel jealous and want to pick up my whisk.

2. I was telling my mum off for not updating her website with more of her creations and got inspired/hungry. I mean hello?! The “Jimi Chew” Grand Marnier chocolate cupcake, with choc cream cheese frosting and chocolate straw heel that she made as a joke for her W.I. friends!

3. Because there’s nothing nicer than when you’re saving money (so can’t buy loads of foodie treats or go out to nice restuarants or for yummy cocktails) to make something using everything in your cupboards and end up with a delicious treat. No buying necessary.

So I got out my trusty fairy cake recipe. It’s on the side of the Tate and Lyle Caster Sugar packet and is the most straightforward and simple recipe I’ve ever tried for buns. Better than a lot I’ve tried from cookbooks.

They never go wrong and you can adapt as you need! I added one tablespoon of cocoa powder and a LOT of red food colouring. You don’t need to add a lot of chocolate as you just need a hint of the flavour and best not to interfere with the colour coming through.

When the buns were done I added cream cheese frosting which you make by adding icing sugar to cream cheese and whipping it lightly to sweeten it. Throw some sugar sprinkles on top and you get yummy cupcakes!

Perfect to enjoy as dessert after a nice dinner or with an afternoon cup of tea.

I wouldn’t recommend after 9pm though, in case like me you are very susceptible to e-numbers! All that red food colouring had me awake twitching all night.

And I’ll be enjoying the last one (I altered my recipe to only make 6) tomorrow night while I watch Sunday’s Downton Abbey.

Mmmmmm can’t wait…

*For those of you who aren’t familiar with the film “Red Velvet”, it stars Henry Thomas and it is about a man and woman who have a chance encounter at a laundromat type place which then leads onto him telling her a story about a birthday party where everyone has been killed by a madman in a white jumpsuit…

So good family fun basically. NOT

It definitely shouldn’t be confused with Henry Thomas’ actual family friendly film, E.T. (He was Elliot!)

And here ends Almond Rock’s review of films NOT to watch!

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