A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

FO Friday: Floral ultimate shirt 

I’ve got to admit that after my final class, I was worried that I would never finish sewing my Ultimate Shirt. The remaining tasks seemed very daunting for me to tackle on my own. But I went for it, and I’m glad I did!

Here’s how the shirt looks with my specially made tulip skirt. I re-did the hem, which I put off for months because I knew how dull it would be. I was right, it was boring and took two hours, but it looks much better. Having a steam iron (thanks dad!) also makes a big difference, although looking at these pics makes me realise it STILL needs more pressing.

 

I think this shirt is really only wearable tucked in, but shirt tucked into skirt worn on the waist is a look I rock at work a lot, so that’s fine.

Notes on steps taken after third class

Hand-stitching the cuff facing seemed okay as I had already used the same technique on the collar stand. Emboldened by my success, I attached the second cuff.

I next spent about an hour pressing and pinning the hem. Like my unicorn top, the hem looks shit in places, but I don’t want to redo it so I think this is something I will live with for now. I will mostly be wearing this shirt tucked in anyway. Looks like I have found my sewing nemesis- shaped hems.

The next step was scary. Buttonholes. I spent ages thinking about which colour thread to use, which turned out to be a bit of a waste of time. I don’t think I’ve ever machine sewn a buttonhole before because my mum lost the foot for her machine years ago.

I did something I normally never do- consulted the handbook of my machine for advice. I then used some scrap fabric to practice, and the resulting holes looked pretty good.

It was time. I tried on the shirt to ensure that a button would cover the fullest part of my bust, to reduce the risk of gaping. I then measured and marked each buttonhole, which worked out at every 7cm.

I did manage to make one really stupid mistake. I accidentally started one of the buttonholes on the ‘top’ mark instead of the ‘bottom’, meaning that it was about 2cm out. Next time I mark buttonholes, I will use different colours for the top and bottom marks to avoid this happening again.

Since my buttons are fluorescent pink, I knew this error would be very obvious. It was time to do something I had never wanted to do on such a light cotton voile. Unpicking. I practiced unpicking one of my practice buttonholes and managed not to break any of the threads in the fabric. Heart in mouth, I unpicked the errant hole on my blouse. I won’t keep you in suspense, dear reader. I survived, and I don’t think my silly mistake is too noticeable.

I’ve got to say, I absolutely love this outfit! Go me. I’m hoping to engage with Me Made May a lot more this year, and I think this outfit will be a key player.

And pom-pom-pom-pom-pom-

I finished my Unspeakable hat in pretty short order and quickly whipped up a yellow pompom as its crowning glory. Despite spending ages carefully cutting out my cardboard template, the pompom looked pretty crap. I noticed the last time that I made a pompom this way, for my other hat using the same pattern, the pompom was a bit wonky.

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This time, no amount of trimming seemed to bring the pom in to the massive fluffy sphere in my mind’s eye. At the same time, I started to doubt my design choice. Was it a bit simplistic and crap-looking to just have a big yellow pompom plopped on top of the sparkly purple hat? (Note: Looking at these pics, the pompom really doesn’t look that bad. I think this is an example of me being a little bit of a crazy perfectionist.)

As well as ordering a plastic pompom maker from Amazon (I resisted for years since one can make do without, but I now feel this is a false time economy), I remembered seeing some beautifully designed pompoms online some time back.

After some googling, I found this tutorial for making pompoms with coloured designs on them, and decided to have a go at making my own golden snitch pompom.

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This is the design, which will guide me when I’m wrapping the yarn around…

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…this handmade pompom maker. The clever addition of the smaller rainbow of cardboard on the templates at the top creates a space for your scissors, to make cutting the pompom easier.


This pompom turned out okay for a first try, but I realised that I had made the snitch design far too big, so much so that it was difficult to tell what it was at a glance. I decided to try again.

I hope you can tell which pompom is which! I didn’t bother trimming the first one that much as already knew I would be trying again. I made a snitch design on both sides of both pompoms. I’m definitely featuring the better side in these pics.

Definitely feel like ‘trimming my pompom’ should be a euphemism for something…

Double vanilla cupcakes

My baking has declined massively over the past few years. The almost weekly bakes of my early twenties have reduced to making cake for my colleagues on my birthday, plus a handful of ad hoc cakes. This year I wasn’t feeling massively inspired. After looking through my ‘recipes’ Pinterest boards and rejecting most of the items, I settled on the Ultimate Vanilla cupcakes from the Cupcake Project, which I was super into about five years ago. I absolutely love their Ultimate Chocolate cupcakes.


I made a couple of changes that, in hindsight, weren’t a success. I replaced a cup of sugar with a cup of these neon giant sugar crystals I picked up a while ago.

Because the batter is very liquid, the sugar dissolved too quickly and did not produce the little neon flecks I had hoped for amongst the black-speckled vanilla cake. I also used coconut oil instead of vegetable, which was fine apart from the fact that I didn’t melt it fully. I knew the batter was too lumpy, but I couldn’t be bothered to get out my hand blender and blitz it. Mistake.

Overall, I probably would give these cupcakes a second chance. While I liked the Ultimate Vanilla Frosting (basically buttercream) from the same site, I don’t think it paired especially well with the UV cupcake. It’s just sweet on sweet. I think you need a bit of a contrasting flavour in there for balance.

My friend Anna gave me some very exciting National Trust spreads for my birthday, and I can see these being incorporated into bakes soon. If only to stop me from eating both jars by the spoonful.

Happy birthday to me

I finished sewing my fairytale Cleo dress just in time for my thirtieth birthday, which was yesterday. Hence a finished object being presented on a day other than a Friday. Gasp! Behold my now-haggard form.


My 30th was a mix of immaturity- cake for lunch and going to a ball pit (albeit an adult ball bit)- and age appropriate activity. The evening was spent at the Newport Street gallery.


There’s so much discussion when you’re a woman turning 30, and plenty to think about. When is it time to worry about settling down and having kids? Do I want to settle down and have kids? Am I happy in the life I have created for myself over the past three decades? Am I too old to wear a mini-dress with little mushrooms on it?


I have few comments on the Cleo dress pattern. Overall, I think it’s cute though I’m still not sure whether the style actually suits me. The dress was a quick make- two evenings in total, including plenty of mistakes and unpicking. I think the most time-consuming part was sewing all the patch pockets. I found Tilly’s tips on working with corduroy very helpful.

I made the size 2, but I probably should have just gone for the 3. I let the side seams out a bit as the dress looks nicer on me with a bit more room around the hip area. I made the dress quite short, the hem was over two inches.

I can see no reason not to add in-seam pockets to this dress. I may add afterthought pockets to this mushroom dress if I feel it’s going to get a lot of wear.

Pattern: Cleo by Tilly and the Buttons

Fabric: 2m needlecord in print, plus 0.5m in plain. I had leftovers of both

FO Friday: An Unspeakable hat

I finally sewed my fancy golden snitch pompom onto my purple hat and, overall, I’m happy with how this project turned out.


Here’s what the inferior back pompom looks like.


I am a bit worried that I am the harbinger of the current horrible weather as I will definitely be wearing my hat this weekend!

Yarn: 3 balls of ‘Essential Knitting’

Pattern: Classic Cuffed Hat by Purl Soho (free pattern)

Ravelry project page

WiP Wednesday: Fairytale Cleo Dress

I’ve been seeing quite a few Cleo dungaree dresses (pattern by Tilly & the Buttons) on soc meeds since the pattern was released. At first, I wasn’t sure about the whole dungaree dress thing (despite the obsession I developed over the Lazy Oaf Catafore, which led me to create my Cateralls). But, as often happens, the more I saw, the more I liked and I have now jumped firmly onto the bandwagon.

I decided to make the patch pockets out of plain black needlecord to break up the pattern a bit. Even though I think the mushrooms are adorable, they are very bold. I ordered the plain black needlecord online, and was disappointed to find that it is less black than the background of the mushroom cord. However, I couldn’t find any needlecord IRL in west London, so I will be proceeding nonetheless.


This is how the two cords look together. I love the way the black creates an effect of negative space on the print.

I dithered for a while over whether to cut  a size 3 or 4. According to the measurements given, the 3 could potentially be on the small side. However, a lot of the Cleos I’ve seen online look like they err on the large side, and I mostly wear a 10 in RTW clothing. So I decided to go for the 3.

Due to the crazy fabric plus my laziness, I will not be doing the front and back seams on the dress pieces. You can just about see in the pic below that I marked off 1.5cm from the centre of the front and back pattern pieces to account for the seam allowance.

I was hoping to gain access to an overlocker for an hour or so to finish the edges of the pieces before I proceed. In the end, I used my trusty overcasting foot.

I also considered adding in-seam pockets to this dress, but no one else seems to have done this, and I  was  concerned there was a reason not to. In the end, I couldn’t be bothered but it may be something I consider if I make another version of this dress.

Gardening re-set

A couple of years ago, I moved into my first house in London with a garden. Despite my terror of creepy-crawlies, I cleared it and planted some pumpkins that I’d grown from seed. Unfortunately the pumpkins succumbed to some kind of parasite or something after they flowered, so they never grew to full maturity.

I moved house again in September. Even though my new house also has a (nicer) small garden, gardening was pretty far down on the list of my priorities. However, I did buy some cute hedgehog-shaped herb planters from the shop at the Wellcome Collection.


My dad also gave me a very thoughtful Xmas gift, which was an urban farm kit containing the materials to grow an indoor herb garden.

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All of these things convinced me to switch the focus of my limited amount of gardening time from outside to inside. I occasionally worry about the fact that I am dying a slow death due to to levels of air pollution in London. Someone once told me that going for a run outdoors causes more harm to your health than good due to the dodgy air. No idea if that is a fact fact or an alternative fact, but it stuck with me and I decided to buy some plants that claim to have air-purifying qualities; a peace lily and two varieties of aloe vera.

I also bought these from This Way to the Circus on Etsy.

* Cat with heart eyes emoji*

Soon after my plants arrived from the internet. (Garden centre, what??) I followed the directions as best I could to re-pot them.

I’ve got to say that I’m thrilled with how they’re looking so far. I am considering creating a spreadsheet for perceived levels of air cleanliness over time.

Before long, I was struck with the fear that I may not be able to keep my plant babies alive.  I have killed many a plant in my time. Hopefully the investment I made in these plants will help encourage me to look after them properly. If I manage, I can see more greenery in my future.