Wednesday, 30 September 2015

New Look 6334 nightdress

Like most things in our house at the moment, my latest sewing project had a few hiccups, including the prospect of it being given away as a costume for the school nativity.

I've got my vavavoom back at last! It's official, so let's get the Champagne out and push procrastination off the bloody cliff. I finally got round to starting and, more importantly, finishing the nightdress for my little girly. New Look 6334.

I bought some lightweight white cotton from the fabulous stall which is the main draw of Whistable Market on Thursdays, and Canterbury Market on Fridays. £3 a metre. It's lovely and soft and perfect for a nightdress. I could have chosen a patterned cotton but this is a mini-me project! My daughter loves my vintage white cotton nightdress, and gets a bit annoyed if I wear my PJs, so when she asked for a nightdress like mine I was a bit delighted. 

I've never worked with such fine material so it was a bit tricky in certain parts especially the delicate finishing of the raw edge on the interfacing. Plus, I've managed to avoid doing sleeves so far, so this was my first time. I did get a bit despondent, and had almost given up on it half way through, but thankfully carried on. It's not perfect (it's got 'wonky' written all over it), but was good practice and the most important thing was that I didn't give up.

Once I'd finished the actual nightdress it looked like an angel costume. I was already planning to give it her preschool for the nativity. But I added some embroidered running stitch around the neckline. Then I went to The Haberdashery in Ramsgate and some lovely blue and red braid 'threw' ITSELF into my basket, so I added that too. 

My machine has been playing up, and I found myself telling it off a few times. Anyone else do that? The main problem is getting the cotton on the spool to catch and be pulled through. I have no idea why it takes thirty tries, but it makes me swear a far bit. 

The rain hadn't stopped when I took these photos, so they're a bit rubbish because there was no natural sunlight! But I hope you get the idea. I also didn't have a children's coat hanger to put it on, so I used a glass jar for a while. The following photograph looks like I've decapitated someone. I think I need a few lessons in photography. Mr Husband, thankfully, came home with a t'shirt for the girly, so I pinched that coat hanger in the end.

Have a good rest of the week everyone, and please get in touch because I love to read your comments. xxxx

Monday, 28 September 2015

Sunday Sevens #5

Is it really Sunday already? Are you sure? Blimey that went quick. This week has been all about sewing, sewing and sewing, days out in the sunshine, surprise presents and staring at middle-aged people snogging on park benches. No, the kitchen is not finished yet!

1. Monday morning started with a lovely present from my little girly-pants. She made me a peg picture of three pink flowers. Adorable. 

2. We went to Hythe and met Mr Husband for lunch by the canal. This picture makes the canal look like something out of Willy Wonker's Chocolate Factory. Ignore my crappy picture, it really is a nice place to have lunch... we even got to watch a very-middle-aged couple snogging on a park bench. When I say snogging, I mean SNOGGING - hands everywhere too. We all stared a bit too much really, especially me. No, they are not in the picture. 

3. While having lunch we went on a conker hunting expedition. Here is a picture of the conkers, sorry - conker - we found. To be honest we were too busy staring at the couple snogging. HANDS EVERYWHERE!

4. On Tuesday I took my little girly and my mum to Ramsgate for a visit to The Haberdashery, an Aladdin's cave of all things sewing. I won't ramble on about it because I wrote a whole blog post about it (cheeky wink to say check it out) but it really was the highlight of the week. I actually dreamt about it on Tuesday night! I'm still planning what I can do with the animal noses with whiskers (yes, I bought two) (you would've as well, don't lie). 

5. On Wednesday I finished the nightdress I was making, and started on a Christmas dress for girly-pants. This is what the floor looked like when I'd swept it. A lovely pile of satisfaction. I love starting a new sewing project, because nothing goes wrong at the beginning does it. It's all easy tracing and cutting. Five hours in and I'm swearing and unpicking and trying to kick the sewing machine. 

6. After all the rain we've had recently it was wonderful to have some sunny days, and on Thursday night we had a lovely red sky. "Red sky at night- shepherds' delight". This picture does it no justice whatsoever. It was gorgeous. Plus, on Friday, as the rhyme promises, it was sunny! Hoorah. Good news for the canal snoggers. 

7. On Friday afternoon we visited Grandma who had her washing out. This is when a certain girl-pants decided that "the flowers are talking to me and they want some water". So the hose pipe came out and we watched her for half an hour desperately trying to stop the urge to soak grandmas washing. She did well, and it was only the plants and paving that got wet, as well as her whole self. She had a great time.

I hope you all have a great week, and if you fancy a snog in the park - go for it, but I expect your hands to be EVERYWHERE! 

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Aladdin's haberdashery

It's not often you find a real Aladdin's cave, but there really is one in Ramsgate. It is called, rather humbly, The Haberdashery Shop, and is situated next to the car park behind Iceland. This family-run shop has been going for over 30 years, and if you are ever in Ramsgate you should find time to visit and marvel at the treasure trove inside. 

Once inside you can lose yourself looking at the floor-to-ceiling displays of buttons, ribbons, lace, braids, beads, zips, fringes, cords, ric rac, belt buckles, knitting and crochet patterns, scissors, wool, craft accessories and even soft toy noses (with or without whiskers). It is wonderful! If you need anything to do with sewing you will find it here. It's worth the trip just to see the buttons.

When we first discovered the shop my daughter was a baby, and we made our first trip while it was snowing. As my mum always reminds me, I was a bit tired and grumpy that day, and it took us a while to find it (we got lost). Once there, I put my girly in the papoose and she fell asleep nestled up to me, while I spent a couple of hours with my mum searching for ladybird buttons, and all sorts of things we never knew we needed. It cheered me up completely. We usually don't say much when we are having a good rifle apart from "ooohh look at this", "aaahh these are amazing", "have you seen this", and at the end "oh just get it, you'll never see that anywhere else". Now my daughter is old enough to have a look around herself she absolutely loves the shop. On one visit she pretended to sell  buttons to the other customers, which was funny and a bit embarrassing. She also made her first ever purchase here by herself - a silver key ring chain, which she said was a bracelet.

Here are some of treasures we found on a visit yesterday. We went to find five buttons for a jumper my mum is knitting my daughter, but we needed up with a few more things, and we had a great time. The picture is a bit rubbish because it hasn't stopped raining here, but check out the animal noses. I got the ones with whiskers and I have all sorts of plans for them!

When we visited yesterday they were getting ready to move into a bigger premises in the town centre, which will incorporate the haberdashery and the sister shop which sells fabric. The lady in the shop said they would hopefully be moved by Christmas, I cannot wait! If you want to visit The Haberdashery Shop you'll find it at 5a Broad Street, Ramsgate, CT11 8NQ. The sister shop which is similarly called The Fabric Shop is at 34 Kings Street CT11 8NT. You can also visit their website at

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Sunday Sevens #4

For the last two weeks we've had a few domestic disasters. Nothing serious, but enough to be annoying. Firstly the kitchen isn't finished so we're still camping out in the living room. The boiler decided to pack in and then the iPad decided to follow. At one point we had no heating, no hot water, no cooker, no kitchen, no internet and no iPad. The most frustrating bit of all was rebuilding the iPad from scratch, and trying to remember all the passwords. Trying and retrying passwords with upper case and lower case letters is so annoying. This is when Thomas Edison came to mind when he said "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work". So apologies for not posting a Sunday Sevens last week, but here's a little catch up. 

1. My little girly started back at preschool. Only two mornings a week, but it really felt like summer was well and truly over when she proudly wore her backpack. I felt a bit sad. The first morning started with a bang... a bang on her nose. She was excitedly running to get through the gates when she tripped up. So with blood running down her little face I had to hand her over to her teacher, and hastily get back to the house where a man was waiting to fix the boiler. Not a great start.

2. With no cooker I have had to improvise. This is where the internet (when it's bloody working) came into its own. You'll all know this, but I only found out last week that you can steam vegetables in the microwave. I also found out that you can buy sticky rice and salmon fillets for the microwave - who knew?..... Oh, you DID know... EVERYONE knows do they... oh ok. Forgive my ignorance! This is a picture of my littlie eating sticky rice, salmon and steamed broccoli with her chopsticks. A proud moment for me as I've never cooked dinner while sitting on the livingroom floor in front of a microwave.

3. Mr Husband came home one day last week with a little present for the little one. The play-doh barber set! We realised that the advertising on TV had actually worked on him, and not on our little girl. She was nonchalant about it, while Mr Husband was actually late for work as he became play-doh's Videl Sassoon one morning. As he went rushing out of the door, I gave him an eye-roll and then got down to some serious hairdressing myself for about two hours. It is fabulous. Get one for yourself, you don't need to have a child in the vicinity to enjoy it, in fact it's better if there's no children interfering in the fun.

4. My Dad and his wife came to visit us for two weeks along with their one-year-old black Labrador called Jack. We had a lovely time with them, and the weather was actually quite nice most of the time. Amongst other things, we went to Deal and had a paddle in the sea; explored Sandwich and visited the sweet shop; and went on a walk which ended up at the farm shop for treats. Young dogs and children are in many ways alike. They both like eating far too many treats, they both get completely soaking wet anywhere near water and they always need a poo at inappropriate moments. Here's a picture of the ducks we fed in sandwich. 

5. Me and Vivienne Westwood are having a great time together at the moment, we're such great friends. Well actually I'm just reading her book, but I like to dream. She is amazing, and reading about how the punk thing got started is fascinating. Me and my mum went to the Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty exhibition at the V&A, and we have both been reading everything about him and watching everything on YouTube. I have finally got over my obsession with him, but now I think it's Vivienne's turn. Here's a picture of my best mate...

6. I have definitely lost my vavavoom with regards to making things. I thinks it's all the chaos at home which doesn't make it easy to sew, especially when the kitchen table is now used for everything. So I haven't done much. However I had a 'Vivienne Westwood moment' and decided to cut up some of my little girl's old clothes to create two sweatshirts. I can never throw away her clothes, especially when they've got lovely buttons or embroidery on them. So a good solution seems to be to recycle them. These two sweatshirts cost a pound from Asda, but soon they be colourful and quirky. Thank you Vivienne. 

7. My final picture is of my little girly yesterday when she went to the playground with Mr Husband. I wasnt with them as me and my mum decided to join the East Kent Embroidery Guild. We went to our first meeting, after a pina colada of course, and it was fab. So I think this picture of my little girl sums up the week really. She is running as fast as she can to get to the swings. Full of vavavoom! Hopefully my vavavoom will return and I'll be running to the sewing machine or my embroidery box soon. 

Have a good week everyone and get running! Xxxxxx

Monday, 7 September 2015

Sunday Sevens #3

As Ellen Degeneres said, "accept who you are, but not if you're a series killer", and that is what I've been doing this week... no, not serial killing, but accepting who I am. Accepting that I'm not very good at dealing with kitchen fitters, that I do have crafting disasters, and an awful tendency to plan too many sewing projects at once. Oh, and that I gave birth to a shoplifter!

1. The kitchen fitters arrived on Monday! A week late, but let's just calm down people! This has meant that me and my little girly have been out of the house everyday from 8.30am until 6pm. A long time really when you're three, but much better than having to listen to radio one and watch your mummy make endless teas and coffees and chat boringly about soft-closing drawers. This is a picture of what I've mainly been looking at this week: one of many playgrounds. We also went to a play gym, playgroup and numerous caf├ęs. The rest of the time we've been at Grandma's house, enjoying her delicious food and managing to make a mess. There's broccoli underneath her sofa now, thanks to my little girly, but I've left it there just in case she has a fall and needs a snack. I'm such a good daughter. 

2. This is what greeted us at the beginning of the week - an empty kitchen. I like the different paint colours: yellow, bright green and white. Evidence of previous owners. We painted the kitchen white when we moved in. It was bright green and purple when we bought the house, and I wouldn't have bought it had I known how difficult it was to paint over. In fact the whole house had been a victim of hysterical colour-blindness. We had chocolate brown, bright pink, dark purple, bogey green and dark blue rooms to paint over! We spent the first year stoned on paint fumes.

3. I had a proper crafting disaster this week. I wanted to make a pencil box for a little girl I know who started school (my friend Lils) but it all went wrong, and ended up looking rubbish. I finished it though, which is something I don't usually do. Usually I would have chucked it in the bin and the swearing would have continued into the next day. A good lesson in accepting something's just not working but not getting annoyed by it. 

4. We went to Whitstable on Thursday and visited the market. There is a great fabric stall here selling all sorts of good stuff as cheaply as £3 a metre. I got some needle cord for a dress I want to make for my girly, and some fine white cotton to make her a nightdress. And this was where it all went wrong!...

5. The next day I went to Canterbury market early early. I knew the stall I got my material from on Thursday would be in Canterbury on Friday. All night I'd been planning and looking through my patterns, like a crazy woman. The reason being that I'd spotted some lovely cotton twill for a skirt for me, and some nice material perfect for a coat for my girly. So on Friday I got to the stall early and went to playgroup with a heavy bag of fabric... plus eight sticky buns. 

6. I now have four sewing projects to do, and no space to do them because the kitchen is still not finished. Here's a picture of the kitchen in progress... looks like more playgrounds will need to be visited, and more broccoli will be going under a pensioners sofa!

7. On Saturday we all went to Canterbury again. This time it was to visit the library. I had to return seven overdue books! SEVEN! One of which was my daughter's, but she managed to get out of any fine. I on the other hand had to pay £16! When I got home and looked in my bag I found evidence of shoplifting. My daughter had put a strawberry calculator in my bag without letting me know, and we'd effectively shoplifted it. I'm not sure now karma works - did I get the whopping library fine because of the shoplifting, or a free strawberry calculator because of the fine? Either way I'll have to go back and pay for the calculator, which is now heavily soiled, but at least I can calculate the next library fine myself. 

Have a lovely week everyone, and return those library books or karma might give you a strawberry calculator! Xxxxx

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Embroidered seashore gingham dress

Oscar Wilde said "I never put off till tomorrow what I can possibly do - the day after" and this is definitely the mantra I employed while making this dress. I procrastinated so much that I thought I'd never get it done before Christmas, never mind the end of summer.

I had an idea that I wanted to do some chicken-scratch embroidery on gingham. That was it really. I just wanted to embroider something. But after seeing £3-a-metre fabric on a great stall in Canterbury, I decided I could make an embroidered dress for my little girl. And what would be easier than a pattern I knew already - the Oliver + S seashore dress. A lovely, easy, simple pattern which looks fabulous when finished.

I had to cut the fabric first and then embroider the material as much as possible before sewing it up. The embroidery was easy. I worked out a pattern on paper to get some symmetry and a good shape for the heart. I enjoyed embroidering in the car while my daughter slept - even if I did get funny looks from dog walkers in Sandgate.

Unfortunately, the red and white heart I originally designed looked a bit OTT in real life. In fact it looked a bit like corset embroidery. Not something you need on a three year old's dress! If you need a stripper costume for a toddler, I'm your woman! So I unpicked the red and kept it simple.

This is when the laziness crept in. It was going too well, too easy. So I stopped, and watched a lot of My Kitchen Rules (MKR) Australia! As soon as Pete and Manu had bored me with their stock phrases "the star of the dish", "yum" and "melt in the mouth", I just couldn't stand it anymore. This dress needed finishing and the star of the dress was the embroidery.

Now for a short break... As nothing happens... Lots of cornetto eating, but no sewing...

After more cornetto-eating and MKR-watching, I finally finished the embroidery....

Then another long break... Wine drinking now... Tweeting, pinning and instagraming...

Then on Friday after a night looking after my daughter who had, as she puts it "a terrible case of the sniffles", I knew I couldn't just sit on the sofa. I had to keep going or I'd fall asleep. So instead of housework, I decided to get the dress done, and it only took four hours in the end.

I just got on with it and it was quick. I even did the button holes without pausing for breath and they came out fine. I spent ages choosing the buttons and eventually decided on some vintage glass ones from my stash. I painted them with acrylic paints so that they matched the material.

And ta..dahhh... Oliver + S embroidered and hand-painted seashore dress!

My little one wore it on Saturday and she looked cute in her new shoes from The Elves and the Shoemaker in Canterbury. We had lunch in Wagamamas and I just closed my eyes when she had ice-cream for dessert. Ahhhh, my embroidery!