A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: summer

I finished my latest summer top in short order after my last post, which meant that I met my target to wear it in Florence.

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Fortunately the tight armholes are not too much of a problem.

However, I definitely need a full bust adjustment and possibly a back adjustment too. I see people talking about swayback adjustment quite a bit so maybe that?

For a top made in the wrong type of fabric, I’m fairly satisfied with it. I find the mandarin collar a little constricting around my throat, but I can’t really see myself wearing this buttoned all the way up so that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

This picture was taken on the way to my first commentary spot at the 2018 quidditch world cup. Calling and analysing the matches was a lot of fun, and it was nice to realise how much my understanding of the game has increased in the past two years.

Details

Pattern: Threadcount 1617 view B size 10

Fabric: 1.5m cotton lawn from Sew Over It

Fabric: £19.50

Notions: Around £8

Pattern: £3.22 (second use)

Total cost: Around £27.50

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When I was planning going support some friends at the Quidditch World Cup in Florence, I thought it would be fun to make some supporters’ stash. One of our friends is famous for sharking (flirting/trying to get people into the sport) so I wanted a shark hat to wear in the crowd. I was going to crochet one until someone pointed out how hot that would be in the Italian summer.

Lots of brands sell shark baseball hats for babies, but finding something similar for adults was a struggle.

I managed to find this hat on eBay. I showed a selfie to a fellow supporter, who asked if I had made it. I do have a history of customising baseball caps. From looking at the hat, I thought that I could make something equally good or better, so I decided that I would make another one for her as a surprise. Within twenty-four hours, I had purchased the materials.

You will need

  • Plain baseball cap
  • Fabric paint in black and white
  • Paintbrushes
  • Felt/fabric that matches the baseball cap
  • A small amount of stuffing- you can use fabric scraps for this if you don’t want to buy
  • I also used some scrap red corduroy for the heart eyes

Choose your design

Because I’ll be wearing this hat to support a cute and loving shark, I thought it would be fun to give her heart eyes. I played around sketching some initial designs.

Decide how you want to apply your design

I bought fabric paint in black, white and red, but then I thought it might be fun to add some mixed media elements. In particular, to either applique or use buttons for the heart eyes. Another advantage of appliqueing the eyes was that they covered the vents in the hat.

Because I knew that corduroy frays, I tested out ways of finishing the edges. I decided to slap on a liberal coat of fray check and then use blanket stitch to apply the patches.

I very roughly sketched some lines on the hat with a pencil. I decided to eyeball most of the painting and I think that was the right decision- the texture of the hat affected my painting and it was easier to adjust on the fly.

I did the teeth first, building up layers of white paint until it was opaque.

I did the black next. I had to use a fine brush for all the parts near the teeth.

Again I did a second coat of black to make sure the paint was even.

Finally, I added the grey section. Once it dried, it looked a bit dark so I added a second coat of grey with more white in it.

Don’t forget to iron your design if you want it to be weather proof. Use a pressing cloth to protect your iron.

Next, I glued on my corduroy heart eyes with fabric adhesive. I then blanket-stitched around. I couldn’t find my embroidery thread so I just used ordinary sewing cotton.

For the fin, I cut out a rough fin shape on the fold.

I then stitched it right sides together and added some stuffing.

Finally, I hand stitched it onto the top of the hat. I tucked the raw edges of the fin under, pressed and then stitched along the pressed line. I was in a rush so I didn’t photograph this step.

And you’re done!

Here you can see the difference between using a snapback (with a flat brim) and a baseball cap (curved brim). For me, it’s a matter of preference.


Another upcoming holiday, another garment made up in the preceding week. I spent around 15 straight hours working on my second version of the Threadcount 1617 blouse in this cute cotton print.

I was a victim of the Sew Over It new fabrics newsletter once again! I really must unsubscribe. I actually fell in love with a different fabric in the newsletter and make the hour-long pilgrimage to the new Islington store. Once there, I realised that the fabric wasn’t quite perfect, but I felt that this one was.

Even though I was very proud of myself for managing to make my first version of this top (on a technical level), the finished garment has issues. It feels a little too big in the shoulders and the forward shoulder seams have a very annoying habit of slipping back. But I don’t have another pattern for a sleeveless blouse so I forged ahead. Pattern recommendations will be very gratefully received.

I made few changes to the pattern as written. I took a lot of time over attempting to pattern match. I used the burrito method for the first time and it worked really well.

I decided to size down for the present project, which in hindsight was an error.

Notes:

  • Armholes are a little tight
  • If  I make this pattern again, I must use an FBA
  • Mashed up hemline shortened by 10cm

This project is a helpful reminder about the dangers of cotton. I’ve been very good about avoiding cotton but got sucked in by a lovely print. While I like the print, this fabric really is not ideal for this project because it lacks drape. I’m glad to have received this reminder because I very nearly purchased a dress-quantity of another cotton and I’m glad that I held off. I am pretty fussy about drape.

Update: I remain a sucker. Went in to Liberty to choose buttons for this top and accidentally bought 1.5m of cotton lawn in the sale.

Since it’s so hot in London, I’ve realised that my wardrobe has a complete dearth of summer tops. Liberty tana lawn is so gorgeous against the skin and has a little drape because it’s so fine. I’m still not totally sold on TC1617 so I’m going to try making a sleeveless version of the Sew Over It ultimate shirt. Wish me luck!

Details

Pattern: Threadcount 1617 view B size 10

Fabric: 1.5m cotton lawn from Sew Over It

Fabric: £19.50

Notions: Around £8

Pattern: £3.22 (second use)


I just about finished sewing my dress in time for the wedding. If I ever mention starting a garment with less than a week before the event I am due to wear it, someone please slap me. This dress jumps straight to the top of the list of most complex garments I have ever made. The difficulty was due to a combination of altering the pattern and working with tricky and costly fabrics. However, as has fortunately been the case often in my craft life, she who dares wins!

My initials are MEAD, so I was kind of tickled by this sign.

This was my first time lining a dress. I underlined the bodice and lined the skirt with lovely navy viscose. I stupidly cut the skirt lining too short, so I had to fudge lengthening it with some ribbon. I didn’t make the best choice in selecting velvet ribbon- though pretty, it’s much stiffer than the fluid viscose- but actually it looks okay under the voile.

For the first time, I added snaps to the dress to stop my bra straps peeking out. It worked pretty well! Here you can also see the guts of the dress- probably the best wrong side finish I’ve ever achieved.

This was such a fun summer wedding. So much so that I forgot to take any pictures except the few next to the sign on the way! Thankfully Glory posted this candid picture that shows the back of the dress.

I love how the scooped back turned out. I will most likely incorporate this change into any further Southports.

Further details about the alterations I made to the pattern can be found here.

Here are my two lovely Southports.


My eyes locked on to this fabric from across a crowded room and I knew I had to have her. I really can’t resist a fruit print and these pineapples are so much fun! I instantly pictured myself in a cute skirt, frolicking joyfully during a mini-break. For a while, I thought that we couldn’t be together. The lady in the shop told me that the fabric was all used for online orders. I was heartbroken. But then I checked the website and was able to buy her there. She’s worth the postage.

I decided to take a risk and try to squeeze this skirt out of a metre of fabric. When I measured the last tulip skirt I made, it took 1.1m of fabric. I really hoped those 10cm wouldn’t cause me too many problems…

Nope! Most sizes could easily be cut from 1m of 145cm wide fabric. I didn’t even have to use a different fabric for the waistband facing.

Having seen the gorgeous sample in quilting cotton in the Sew Over It store, I decided to use lining fabric for the pockets. This cotton-linen blend is quite heavy. I used the pocket pieces for the Day Dress because the pockets on my first tulip skirt aren’t quite capacious enough for my liking.

Doing the pleats and darts was a breeze as the linen in this fabric allows it to hold a crisp fold. I’ve never worked with linen before, either as a knitter or a sewist, so it’s been fun to learn about a new fibre. I’ve just realised this skirt will probably crease like billy-o, but I’ll be too fabulous to care.

I wanted to overlock the pattern pieces as both the fashion fabric and lining fray easily. However, I ended up pulling out my trusty overcasting foot and finishing the edges that way. This is the most excited I’ve been about a project since my zebra shorts and I couldn’t wait to get to a sewing cafe.

I couldn’t find a suitably coloured invisible zip at Liberty or John Lewis, so I decided to use an exposed zip. I followed the same tutorial I used before. I’d forgotten how laborious it is to put in one of these suckers! It took forever. I also had to use a 7″ zip (8″ recommended in pattern), which gives me just enough wiggle room to get this thing on and off. Be careful of using a shorter zip for this skirt if you are pear-shaped!


I have to say that my perfectionist tendencies came out big time when installing the zip. I found myself getting very frustrated that the two sides weren’t symmetrical. Fortunately, I decided to give myself a little break from the machine and try the skirt on. I was very relieved that it fit! I decided to use my mother’s old trick of cutting some pattern pieces on the selvedges to save finishing those edges. The problem with doing that on the centre back seam was that I wouldn’t have been able to let the skirt out if it had been too small. I’m not sure I’ll do it again in future.

Even though I realised the zip looked absolutely fine when I tried the skirt on, I also noticed that the placement of the pattern isn’t amazing on the back. There are lots of pineapples cut in half. As usual, this is something that I would probably ignore if I bought this skirt RTW, but it bothered me that I hadn’t foreseen this problem. I just need to take it as a reminder to be more mindful of pattern placement when using such a bold print in future.

Fabric: 1m (145cm wide) cotton-linen mix from Sew Over It

Pattern: Tulip Skirt by Sew Over It (size 10)


The second instalment in my quest to stop lunch being the most irritating meal of the day is this filling roasted sweet potato, quinoa and goats cheese salad. I realise that eating things like this (stopping to Instagram it first) makes me a hopeless millennial stereotype, but apparently that’s my destiny.


Couldn’t you just filter the shit out of that? Then eat it?

I’ll be adding this to my rotation of lunches. I think the goats cheese balances the sweet potato beautifully, the quinoa adds grainy bulk and the pumpkin seeds give a pleasant bite. I leave the skins on my potatoes (cutting out any dodgy bits) for the triple threat of added nutrition, saved time and reduced waste. Rule of three FTW!

I’ve also started adding dressing to more of my salads. It does add calories, but I think the secret of store bought salads is the dressing punching up the flavour. For me, the added pleasure negates the calories.

Ingredients

  • 1kg sweet potatoes
  • 1tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 green or red chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • A handful of finely chopped coriander stems, optional
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup dry quinoa (if you’re not on the quinoa bandwagon, sub another grain, bulgur or couscous)
  • 200g baby leaf spinach
  • 50g pumpkin seeds
  • 200g goats cheese, cut into small chunks
  • A handful coriander leaves

For the dressing

  • 1tbsp French mustard
  • 1tbsp honey
  • 2tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed or finely chopped
  • 1tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 6tbsp flavourless oil

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C
  2. Chop your sweet potatoes into bite-size chunks. Peel if desired.
  3. Add sweet potato chunks to a roasting tin with the olive oil, garlic, ginger, chili and coriander stems, if using. Rub to ensure a good coating of oil and even distribution of the spices. Season, then bake for around 20 minutes, until the sweet potato is soft and golden.
  4. Cook quinoa according to directions on packet. I rise mine in a mesh sieve for a couple of minutes, until the water runs clear. I then toast the damp quinoa in a tablespoon of butter for a couple of minutes to open up the grains. Finally, I add double the volume of water to the pan (in this case 2 cups), bring to the boil, cover and simmer until the water is all absorbed (15-20 mins), then turn off the heat and leave to steam for a few more minutes.
  5. For the dressing, Combine the dressing ingredients, aside from the oil, in a food processor or hand blender and blitz until smooth. Add the oil slowly, through a funnel if you have one, until smooth.
  6. In a dry pan over a medium heat, toast the pumpkin seeds until golden and fragrant.


Combine the baby leaf spinach, quinoa, roasted sweet potato, goats cheese and coriander. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds, season and dress to taste. This salad can be eaten warm or cold. Enjoy!


While looking up uses for frozen bananas, I came across the idea of using them to make a fake ice cream.

It’s super easy. You simply blitz them up in a food processor or hand blender, after leaving them to thaw for a couple of minutes.


First they just get broken up.


Then they develop a creamy texture as you whip air into them.

Then there are tasty add-ins. I like a tablespoon of peanut butter per banana.


A couple of teaspoons of cocoa powder is also good.

This is as close as I got to a styled pic.

I think the ice’cream’ you get is pretty good. The texture is nice and smooth, quite creamy, and it’s sweet. However, I have a highly suspicious palate. It knows when I’m trying to trick it. So I do think you can tell the difference between this and real, delicious creamery ice cream.

I was crazy for this idea when I first discovered it, thinking that it would revolutionise my snacking life. Never again would I find myself jonesing for chocolate when there was banana ice cream in the freezer at home. With time, my ardour has mellowed. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean that you should. I like this idea for when I need to eat some fruit, but I’m too lazy to go to the supermarket. I’m not sure it’s the substitute for unhealthy snacks that I had hoped.