Wednesday, 30 October 2013

And the winner is...

So, I had a grand total of 10 entries to my giveaway, which closed last night. Hey, you enter my giveaways, the odds are seriously stacked in your favour!

If I'm honest, I'm a little bit disappointed that more people didn't enter, but then maybe most blog readers are more restrained than me and only enter the giveaways for the things they really, really want (as opposed to thinking: "hey, free stuff, count me in. What was it again?"!). But you aren't interested in how few people entered my giveaway. You are interested in who won it.

I went for the old fashioned route of actual names, pulled, by an independent adjudicator (husband), from an actual vintage glass bowl. When doing this, I was glad there were only 10, and not 100 to cut out and fold up...

And P selected...

Congratulations Bobbi! Pinging you an email now...

Thanks for everyone who did enter. This was my first ever giveaway and I was feeling insecure that no one would want the prizes and therefore no one would enter! It was fun though, so I feel another giveaway may be necessary some time in the future! :)

Sunday, 27 October 2013

This weekend

... has not been about sewing, but then it never is!

I did do some "making", however!

Small Boy is incredibly excited about Hallowe'en! I blame nursery as they've had decorations up all week. Any Americans reading this will be thinking "yup, and what?", however, here in the UK, Hallowe'en has previously only really been about the actual day - with perhaps a party on the closest weekend. In Scotland in particular (and possibly all of the UK, but I can only speak for the area where I grew up), as a child, Hallowe'en, involved "guising" (essentially the same idea as trick or treating) and a turnip lantern, usually with a string handle - yup that's right, my dad would carve out a raw turnip - a million times harder than your softy, easy-scoop pumpkins!! I suppose that was because we didn't really have pumpkins in the shops in the 70's and 80's, whereas turnips have always been fairly plentiful here. Lucky us! Incidentally, parties (for kids at least) predominantly featured "ducking for apples" (fishing apples out of a basin of water, using only your teeth) and "treacle scones" (bread like scones, liberally coated with treacle, hung from a string, the aim being to take a bite; again with hands behind your back). The scones were usually immediately followed by trying to eat a smartie from the top of a mound of flour (again no hands), so the flour stuck to the treacle on your face! You were then sent home a treacly, floury mess, this usually being on top of smeared witch/fairy/cat face painting!

Anyway, here now, as with all things, Hallowe'en is now becoming more Americanised (I don't have a problem with that, but nor do I think we should give up our own customs in favour of another culture's...) with decorations, pumpkins, Indian corn etc

In order to get into the spirit, I decided to carve my boy a pumpkin. He chose the face (Google has some great ideas), and I got to work. It's meant to be Caspar the Friendly Ghost, but it looks a bit more surprised and upset!

We also bought a couple of small edible pumpkins, used above as props, but later this afternoon the medium sized one became pumpkin and orange-flavoured-chocolate bread! Delicious! The recipe is from the Green & Black recipe book (so the choc is meant to be Mayan Gold).

Yesterday was about new things. I finally spent my vouchers that I won at work recently, and treated us to an iPad! It's only an iPad2, the most basic you can get, but still, really cool and it's had so much use already! In fact I am writing this post on it, just to see if I can. So far so good, although I can't touch type on it, and I will need to finish it off on the laptop so I can upload my photos. Most of the time I read blogs, and surf Pinterest on my phone, but the iPad is so much easier for this - and far quicker than my old iPhone3. My only gripe is the Bloglovin app. On some blogs I can't comment. I have the issue on my phone but presumed it was my old phone (don't have IOS 7 on there) but actually apparently this is a fault with the app itself! Seems like a fairly major oversight if you ask me, and one that is particularly frustrating, so I may look to switch readers at some point, if I find another that works better.

The other new thing is that I have new hair!

Photo quality on iPad not great either, apparently.
I have been considering a fringe for a while now, and finally built up the courage to go for it! It's looking good so far because I still haven't washed it, but I like it. Tomorrow may be a different story when I try to blow dry it myself! I think I would have preferred it to be slightly heavier, but I am probably as well to get used to it for a while then decide for my next haircut.

And finally my sewing table! Sewing has been quiet recently, due to other time and energy sapping activities, but I am currently working on another Scout, which is being sewn in order to procrastinate on the coat I have promised myself I will finish this year! My coat was one of the first posts I wrote on this blog. You can see the details here. Last year I managed as far as cutting the lining, then I became overwhelmed at the thought of cutting the main fabric; the thought of ruining it too daunting. But this year I need to do it! Just as soon as I'm finished this Scout!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Giving Something Back: A Giveaway! **Giveaway now closed**

This post is overdue in a number of ways.

For a wee while I have been thinking that it's about time I gave something back to the online sewing community. It has been very generous to me in the short time I've been blogging. Here's a quick reminder of what I've won:

McCalls 7385 courtesy of Cation Designs
This beautiful embroidered boat brooch, made by Jo of Adventures and Tea Parties, given away by House of Pinheiro
Some beautiful blue striped chambray courtesy of The Polished Button
2.5m of amazing wax cotton AND Simplicity 1609 from the gorgeous Amazing Taracat
Not to mention 3 Liebster awards

And then there has been the amazing generosity of the swap partners I've been lucky to have been paired with (here and here), and finally, I can't not mention the unspeakable kindness of Danielle of One Small Stitch and the infamous large check gingham!

It becomes apparent that I really ought to be saying thank you using more than just words.

Way back in August (I know, I know), my friend Jo and I visited the Coming Into Fashion exhibition at the City Art Centre in Edinburgh. This was a stunning exhibition featuring over 150 photographs and magazines from the Conde Nast archives, dating back 10 decades.

Source - This is the only photo I can remember and can find online!
Photography is one of my favourite art media, and this exhibition didn't disappoint. There were photos galore, spread over 2 floors of the building, literally covering from the 1900's to present day. The only criticism I have is that the information provided for each photo was minimal, featuring only the publication, date and photographer. I would have loved to have known more about the "story" or the concept behind each one. There was one photo of an Italian actor and a female model and when we were looking at it, admiring the model's hair, one of the guys working there (what do you call those people who work for museums and kind of mill about the rooms, usually wearing tartan trousers?) told us the background story of the actor, which involved him moving to the US, having an affair with Frank Sinatra's other half (Ava Gardner, I think) and then being "sent" back to Italy by Frank's mob. And so ended his career! I would have loved to have known that kind of detail about more of the photos.

Anyway, what does this have to do with anything? Well, the City Art Centre has a lovely little shop. And when browsing said shop, I came across these, which I thought would be perfect for a little giveaway on a sewing blog and a nice way to say thank you and to give something back!

4 really cute pin badges on a sewing theme, made by Kate Broughton, and 4 beautiful ceramic buttons made by Stockwell Ceramics.

So, if you would like to be in with a chance of winning these, please leave me a comment below, leaving a contact email address. Closing date is next Tuesday 29th October and the giveaway is open to international readers. I will pull a name out of a hat and will post the winner some time next week. Good luck!

***Sorry, Giveaway now closed!***

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Completed: Small Girl Dress - Selfless Sewing!

I actually finished this before my Fall for Cotton blouse, but didn't get round to posting it at the time. This one was a little longer in the making. Other than my sew-fest the other Friday, I've been really only sewing at my class for a couple of hours a week recently. But this was enough to have managed to complete this dress for my niece's birthday at the end of September.

I made Butterick B4176, and yes, again I made it in Liberty Tana Lawn. This is becoming a bit of an obsession.

I made view B, which is the pink dress above with the cap sleeves.

 Isn't it cute?! As the tana lawn is fairly lightweight and we are headed into autumn, I underlined it with black cotton voile. Black wasn't my preferred choice, but it was all they had and actually it looks OK now that it's made up. The double layer of fabric made the pleats a bit bulky but with a bit of pressing and some steam they flattened themselves down and behaved nicely.

As you can see, I used little turquoise buttons - those at the front are decorative and there is one with a fabric loop, made from bias binding, for fastening at the back neck. The pattern suggested a thread loop but I felt that would be too fiddly when trying to get a wriggly 2 year old dressed in the morning.

The dress was really straightforward in it's construction. Nothing difficult at all. I French seamed the insides, and overlock stitched the sleeves. I hand stitched the hem and also the turned back seams at the back opening.  The neckline is faced with bias binding and the sleeves finished with a turned up seam encasing elastic. This part proved problematic, as the pattern instructions called for me to measure the arm to gauge the length of elastic required. Straightforward yes, but not if you are making this dress as a surprise! Small Boy was called into action as a stand in. Although he is over a year older, I figured their arms wouldn't be too different, and I was right!

The buttons were flat, but I decided to give the one at the back a thread shank, just to help with looping that fabric loop over. I hadn't done this before, but found a kirby grip (bobby pin?) a great help!

 As this wasn't for me, I took extra care - why do we do that? Are we not good enough for our "best" sewing? - and as a result am really pleased with the dress. Unfortunately I kind of usurped Gran's present! My niece arrived at my parents (same day as I wore my Fall for Cotton blouse) wearing her present from Gran - a lovely Boden dress - which lasted until we arrived, our present was opened and Auntie Helen's dress was duly tried on. And stayed on for the rest of the day! So, obviously it was a success!

So, making small clothes versus making adult clothes? Less fabric is nice. It was cheaper (I only used about 70cm of each fabric), and I was able to cut it out on the table, instead of the floor, which was wonderful. It was quicker to make due the smaller seams. But on the downside, it was more fiddly. I found setting the sleeves in much harder because there was less room to manoeuvre. The pattern had me set in the sleeves last, but if I were to make this again, I would leave the back seam to last. I think this would make setting the sleeves that bit easier.

As a parting shot, here is the little lady herself, modelling it.

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