Sunday, 22 December 2013

Brighton Summer

Towards the end of summer, my lovely Jodie came over from Sydney for a (much too short) visit. We decided that a daytrip to Brighton was in order. Despite London being typically wet and grey when we left in the morning, by the time we got to Brighton, the weather had decided to behave, and we had a glorious day by the seaside. 

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Recently Made and Eaten

Some almost-neon popcorn sprouts - very sweet, almost artificial-sugar levels of sweetness, in fact. 
Half white/half wholemeal bread with cranberries and pistachios. 
Caraway seed cake topped with vanilla glaze and cornflowers - recipe coming soon (i.e. when I remember to post again).
Homemade pizza dough, topped with tomato paste, button mushrooms, jalapeno peppers, salami and cheddar cheese. 

Thursday, 12 December 2013


The last couple of weekends have seen a flurry of activity, lots of paper scraps and bits of glue flying about, and some papercuts sustained in the process. And this is the result of all that. One-of-a-kind, handmade cards, which will be available, as usual, at the Tea Rooms stall. Feast your eyes. 

Thursday, 14 November 2013


Several weeks ago, during an extended whinging session at the markets, Daniel came up and mentioned that he'd spent the last couple of hours attempting to separate some cameras from the tangled rats' nest formed by their straps. It was a very quiet Saturday (even for a Saturday at the markets), and I'd left my book at home. Looking for a way, any way, to pass an hour or so, I volunteered to help extricate the cameras. My reward was to pick any camera I wanted. Most were your run-of-the-mill 1980s/early 1990s point-and-shoots, nothing interesting, until a bulky blue brick-like shape caught my eye.
The Ricoh TF-900! Sounds like some sort of robot from the Terminator, doesn't it? It's slightly larger than my trusty Olympus Trip 35, but still fit into my shoulderbag without a struggle, so I tested a couple of rolls in it. 
There are more photos in my Ricoh set on Flickr if anyone's interested. 

Friday, 4 October 2013

The Garden Party Dress

The warm, golden sunlight in these pictures will probably alert you to the fact that these pictures were taken months ago. Oh well, best get blogging about this dress before winter finally gets here!

The impetus for this dress came about when an acquaintance handed me the invite to her wedding. Dress code - 'formal'...which always brings to my mind some sort of Disney princess dress (like this) - you know, floofy skirt, lots of sequins and tulle, the works. The type of dress that I would wear to a Manowar show, but felt a bit uncomfortable wearing to a mid-summer, outdoor wedding reception. Thus began the hunt for a 'grown-up' dress pattern. 
A quick online search lead me to Butterick B5281, a reissue of a 1946 pattern. Those illustrated babes looked so elegant and sassy, so a few clicks later and I was on my way to replicating that sassy elegance. Unfortunately, elegance is a foreign country to me, as evidenced by the above photo of me hanging on to 2 wine glasses. Oh well, I'll go for sassy then.

On to the technical bits. For the bodice, I decided to trace a size 10 at the bust, graduating up to a size 12 at the waist seam and skirt. The other change I made to it was to hack about 5 inches off the skirt, because I have short stumpy legs. Since it was rather more complicated than my usual patterns, I decided to make a toile first, in the same fabric that would later be used for the lining (a pink polycotton sheet for the bodice, and a navy blue acetate for the skirt, both from the opshop). The dress fabric was two metres of slightly sheer ikat-looking fabric that I purchased last year at the Wimbledon car boot sale. It's most likely a wool/polyester mix - it has no label, but I have a skirt that feels exactly the same, and is about 70% wool/30% polyester.

Constructing the dress was suprisingly easy, although the shoulder-flap bit on the left threw me a little.The trickiest part was probably inserting the side zipper - my first! I took my time and yelled a few unnecessary words, but managed to fit it in without too many wrinkles. It's a lapped zipper, which I thought fitted the whole vintage pattern thing a lot better than an invisible zipper.

Although it wasn't too difficult to sew up, it did take a lot of time much so that I was sat at my machine at 10.30pm the night before the wedding, trying to finish fit the lining in. I cheated in the end, and set in the sleeve lining with big rough basting stitches. The skirt was roughly turned up and sewed with big machine basting stitches. No-one else could see it, and I've since managed to clean it all up. 

Dress - selfmade, necklace - vintage, brooch - vintage, tights - Sainsburys, shoes - from Hong Kong

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The Concrete Jungle

Tucked away in the midst of the Brustalist wonderland that is the Barbican lies an unexpectedly serene secret garden. I'd heard rumours about its existence a while ago, and one sunny Bank Holiday weekend in May (yes, these were from that long ago), I decided to investigate. 

Tucked away behind an almost hidden set of glass doors, the Barbican Conservatory is an unlikely, underworldly respite from the city just outside. There are plenty of plants, as you may expect, but there are also birds, turtles and rather large koi. Even a little wooden bridge over a tinkling stream. 

Friday, 23 August 2013

The Mjolnir Shorts

Look, another new post! Despite my absence from this poor ole neglected blog, I haven't been slacking off. Okay, well, maybe a little...but I've been making stuff too!

These shorts were made sooo long ago - before our summer 'heatwave' (which has since disappeared). It might be sunny in these pictures, but it was still chilly enough for the good old black tights.
The pattern is Simplicity 6337 - if you click on the link, you'll see a spectacularly mum-jeans-esque confection, styled in superbly 1980s fashion. Your first instinct might be to shy away from the computer screen. However, mum jeans (or mom jeans if you're an American reader) are now cool again, according to Elle Fanning and Topshop. 

I've been wanting a pair of highwaisted jeans for a long while, since all my other pairs of jeans were quite literally falling apart. I actually ordered the much talked about Colette Clover pattern last autumn, but worked on a toile, but found that they need way too much faffing about with, so I got lazy and gave up. Then I found this pattern for 50 cents in a Melbourne op-shop, and picked it up mainly because it was so cheap, and who can have too many patterns anyway? Not me!
The pattern languished in the dark for a while, until I found this thickish mid-blue denim, with a nice weight to it, at another op-shop. It's really stiff and sounds like thunder if you try to wave it in the air. I imagine this was what cowboys in Westerns used to wear. 

Anyway, this came together surprisingly easily. I made a toile, found it fitted pretty well, and cut into the denim. It's easy to be fearless when you don't care too much about the fabric. I did make a couple of changes to the pattern though - left out the front pockets, and moved the front fly zip to a side lapped zipper. The insides were all overlocked with my awesome new toy, a Huskylock S21.

I also added some belt loops to the waistband - which is why they are called the Mjolnir shorts. Have you ever tried sewing through about 5 layers of thick denim? It's not fun. My sewing machine definitely wasn't having any of it. Out came the hammer so I flatten the fabric before sewing the loops on, and even then it was hard going. I'm pretty sure I was sweating the whole time.
It ended up very fitted around my bum and hips (great for holding it all in after a juicy kebab), and slightly too loose around the waist. The waistband hits just above my belly button, and I had wear a belt to prevent gaping around the area. I thought I could live with it, but it eventually got too annoying and had to be altered. Which meant unpicking those pesky belt loops so I could take it in an inch around the front about about 4 inches in the back. And then sewing on the belt loops again. 

These photos were taken before the alteration, but I guess you get an idea of how it looks. They are immensely comfortable, and I've seen found that dark grey stretchy denim I purchased in Poland last year, which means there will be a long version of them coming soon.