Monday, 3 August 2015

The Tessuti 'Lisa' Dress...

... Summer Sewing.

All I seem to be doing, at the moment, is stitching up pieces for my summer holiday wardrobe. Expect the next few blog posts to be all about sewing summer dresses. I've had my eye on the Tessuti Lisa dress for a while and finally found some fabric which I thought would suit this beautifully.

My usual fabric shop, Barry's Fabrics in Digbeth, Birmingham, came up trumps again with this heavy cotton (almost denim) blue with white polka dot fabric. This is a little out of my comfort zone but I felt like being brave and I think it paid off, I love this fabric!

Now, just before I talk about the Lisa dress pattern, I just want to warn you that this blog post maybe a little boring! Why?? Well because Tessuti patterns are just so darn tooting good!!!!

I have used Tessuti patterns before, I made the Lily dress when I first started sewing and I was so greatful for such clear instructions. It's the same again with this one. An easy peasy, print at home pattern, means I had a beautiful new dress in about 4 hours!





So, what is so great about this dress? Well everything really. The shape, the super clear instructions... but what I really love are the pockets.

I'm not sure how or why anything would be designed without pockets. These ones are nothing to be scared of, even if you are a beginner.











The button placket was a part of the pattern that I thought would get me into a bit of a confused muddle but again, with the clarity of the instructions, it was done without me even thinking about it. First time, no unpicking and perfect button placement. It could've been a fluke but I really don't think so. As long as you just follow what is in front of you, Tessuti have got your back!  







 
I also love the gathered waist of this dress. I do really like gathered waists on most dresses or skirts. What's great about this one is that it has a contoured high waist line. I feel it just adds a bit of interested to a simple design. Also the high waist line is going to be perfect for concealing the holiday tum that I'll no doubt gain, from eating ice creams everyday and fish and chips by the sea, when we go to Whitby next week.


I am really happy with the first of my holiday makes and think I will be making this dress again before too long. I want to make a plain blue denim or black one so that I can layer it during autumn time, but let's not think about cooler days just yet!


























Thanks Tessuti for another great pattern. I'll be sure to try out another one soon.

Amy x

Monday, 20 July 2015

Lavender and Orange Cupcakes...


...a recipe for grown up cupcakes. 

Hi folks, I'm really excited to share this recipe with you today. I haven't made cupcakes in such a long time, so I've dusted off the Kitchenaid and made these ones, which I think are just perfect for the summer months. 




These cakes are so simple, I know I say that all the time but these really are. I am not a professional baker in the slightest so if it's on this blog it's easy... trust me! 

On with the recipe.

You will need:



6 lavender flowers (plus extra for decoration)
125g lightly salted butter
125g caster sugar
finely grated rind of 1/2 an orange
2 eggs
150g self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

And for the icing...

150g icing sugar
6-7 teaspoons of orange juice
Purple food colouring (I used gel colouring)


How to make them:

First, line your cake tray with 12 cup cake cases and pre heat your oven to 180 degrees c. Next, cream the butter and the sugar together, until you make a smooth and creamy mixture which is very light in colour. 

Now you need to add all of the ingredients but leave the eggs to one side, just for the moment.



Just to let you know, if your lavender is still in flower when you add them, pull the flowers out of the bud first (not sure that is exactly what I mean!?) and then pull the bud away from the steam and put both the flowers and the buds in the bowl. The picture above should show you what I mean. Before you add the buds to the mixture, give them a little squeeze to release more lavender loveliness and combine all of the mixture.




Next, beat the two eggs in a small bowl and then add the egg slowly whilst mixing the cake mixture. 




Once all of the ingredients are well mixed together you will have a classic looking cake mix. Evenly distribute the cake mix between the cake cases and bake for 20 minutes or until risen and just firm to touch. 




Transfer the cooked cupcakes on to a wire rack and leave them to cool completely before decorating. 

Decoration:

I can not, never been able to, never will be able to, decorate cakes beautifully with all the swirly whirly icing. It's just too hard! But runny icing I can do, so these cakes were perfect.





Make the icing the same way you would with water but use orange juice instead. Add the orange juice, a teaspoon at a time, until the icing is the consistency of thin glacĂ© icing. You want the icing to trickle over the edges of the cakes. Add the purple food colouring a tiny bit at a time so that you make a soft lilac colour. 

Before the icing sets completely you need to decorate them with beautiful, edible, flowers. I decided to use lavender and viola, both picked from my own garden. 


Look how beautiful they are! So simple, yet so pretty. The colours just say summer to me and the taste... mmmmmhmmmm! 

I'd like to make these again and host a little garden tea party. I wonder what other cakes I could make with more flowers from my garden... rose water cupcakes decorated with roses? Ideas!!!


Enjoy x

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Make Your Tent a Stylish Retreat...


DIY Glamping...


Hello, how are we all? Spring is (kind of) in the air and last week me and the fella (and the dog) hopped off to The Cotswolds for a few days, for our first camping trip of the year.

I love love love camping! Most of my holidays as a child were camping ones, my dad still has the two man tent the three of us spent the week in Cornwall in!! 

Anyway, we've had our own tent for a few years now and for the past couple of summers I've thrown out the sleeping bags and really tried hard to make our tent something a bit different, more of a home from home. I thought I'd share with you some of the VERY simple choices I have made when it comes to our 'Little Blue Tent' and with the camping season upon us you might find some inspiration for your own tent...

Choosing a tent... 

I guess this is the most important part, you may already have a tent that you love but I just wanted to share our choice with you because why we chose it has really made a difference to the comfort of camping. 

The bloke in my life is a bit of a giant and when we were looking at tents we needed one big enough for him to sleep in comfortably. We chose this tent because it was adaptable. This tent is actually a 4 berth. It is supposed to have a partition down the centre to convert it into two separate rooms. We just don't bother putting up the partition, not rocket science I know but the difference is huge! Something to think about when buying a tent, can it be adapted in some way to suit your needs better?

Bedding...

I think people think I'm a little bonkers where I start pulling out my duvet and pretty sheets when camping but this makes the biggest difference to me. Think about all the 'glamping' pictures you've seen on Pintrest... not a sleeping bag in sight! A king sized duvet and king sized air bed is definitely where it's at. 


Mine were from Primark, cheap as chips and oh so much more comforting to snuggle down into on a chilly night in a field. Don't forget scatter cushions too. I use them as floor cushions throughout the trip or even as an extra prop up when you're

lying in bed with your book.















Also, the throw at the bottom of the bed... people laugh at me, but they don't laugh when you're the one with all the extra blankets keeping the chill away ;-)  

Accessories...

First stop is to raid the hedgerows and the campsite recyling, to make yourself a flower arrangement that will last the duration of the holiday. 
Homeware accessories... camping... really??!?! Yes, really! You have the lovely bedroom now you need the lovely cups to drink your morning cuppa out of and the matching cutlery set. 

There is nothing more annoying than going camping and realising you haven't got a teaspoon to stir your tea, or a bowl to eat your cereal out of. Been there, done that, learn from my experience. The easiest thing to stop this from happening is get yourself a picnic basket. They are already all kitted out with everything you need so you don't even need to think about it.















We bought a new one this year from Homesense and it seriously leaves you with not a lot else to think about. You won't loose anything because everything has its place and it's so much nicer using things that look pretty don't you think? I bought the mugs separately from eBay. A couple of quirky enamel mugs also need to go on your camping must have list. 

You must not forget your oil cloth bunting and solar powered fairy lights to make your tent stand out. It also helps you to find your way home across the dark fields! I also hung fairy lights inside the tent this year. Just use your Christmas lights, get more use out of them instead of just once a year. Again, so much more cosy than an old torch.

Seating...

Now, I'm not the biggest fan of those fold out canvas camping chairs. Yes they have a hole for your beer bottle but they are just not pretty in the slightest. Swap them for traditional deck chairs. I got ours from Ikea a couple of years ago. 


More scatter cushions...
They are a little bit of a pain to transport but look how inviting they are and just put your beer bottle on the floor or even on a rustic, wooden fold away table. Again, I got ours from Ikea, I think it was £20!

Now sit back and enjoy your creation...





Just putting in that little bit of extra effort to make the tent more homely really makes my holiday a more enjoyable experience. It's nice to look at and you somehow feel proud of the little haven you've created. You might get some looks from fellow campers but I like to think of them as looks of admiration. 

I still have a must have list, next I would like some old fruit crates that I can turn over and use as bed side tables and solar powered storm lanterns that I can leave outside in the day and bring in to use as bed side table lamps at night. 
















I just want to leave you with one more tip. Keep your camping gear as camping only stuff. You don't really want to be pulling your own duvet off your bed into a muddy field and if it's all kept together in a camping box, like we have, then it's easy to just grab and go.

I hope I have inspired you to spruce up your tent or maybe even show you that camping can be comfortable. This isn't an extensive guide, you might need something to cook on for instance but maybe I've just helped you look at camping in a different light. 

Now go and find yourself a wonderful camp site and enjoy the long summer days under canvas...


Amy x

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

The Emery Dress by Christine Haynes...




The story of my Emery dress. I went a little off piste...

It seems I'm a little late to the party with the Emery dress, in fact I'm late to the party with Christine Haynes patterns. 

I came across this pattern whilst on the hunt for a dress style that I've been after for a while and my Instagram pals came to the
rescue! In fact it was Amy over at What Amy Made, that did something similar, who recommended the Emery, thanks Amy :-)








This was my inspiration
*image from Pintrest*...
So, what did I want? I wanted a dress that was gathered at the waist but loose in the bodice. I also wanted it longer in length then most dress patterns I had. I guess you could describe it as a more relaxed 50's style dress. 

...and this is my
finished piece.













                   



I had never used a Christine Haynes pattern before, and although some of the terminology was more for an intermediate dress maker rather than a beginner, I was impressed with how easy this dress came together. The simple design also allowed me to go a little off piste, with confidence.

To get the "relaxed" fit, I did a couple of things. Firstly, I sized up by 1 size and I also left out the waist and back darts. I did keep the bust darts, mainly because the material was very heavy and I didn't think it would fall well without some shape in that area. Looking at the picture below you can't really see the darts, I think they're a little low, but that was completely my own fault. 
 

Due to leaving out the darts at the back of the dress, the pattern matching didn't go to plan at the side seems. I felt I had planned it well, but the pattern on the fabric was a little tricky. 


More pattern matching woes on the skirt of the dress, which completely flummoxed me, must try harder next time but I still blame the fabric! Pretty good fabric though, hey?? So all is forgiven there. You can also see in the picture above that I didn't insert a zip. This is because I up sized, bonus! FYI; I HATE inserting zips.

I also HATE inserting sleeves...
... but these fellas went in like a dream.



Must learn how to pose.

I am so pleased to have found this dress pattern. In principle it's a really basic design, which will give you freedom to make it your own, I'm already planing my next one. I must do one in plaid, which was my intention this time but I couldn't leave this fabric in my local fabric shop. 

Almost forgot about the pockets, gotta love a good pocket. 

Go and make the Emery and make it your own. I'd love to see it.

Amy x


Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Spring Favourites...

These are a few of my favourite things.

Hi, I'm back! So I haven't blogged in almost one month. It hasn't been through choice, just by being a tad busy. I seem to come out of hibernation in Spring and have a calender full of things to do, people to see etc. 

Everything is fine and dandy here, lots of lovely things going on... the annual trip to Cornwall, gardening, birthdays, flowers, flowers flowers... Yup, all good. 



I thought I would do a bit of different post to what I have done in the past. No baking, no sewing, no house renovation but a post about some things I've been loving during the past month away and a few things I've been up to. You might find some ideas for how to make your home more 'Spring Ready' or maybe a couple of items you might like the look of. 

So, what do I love at the moment...

All things Cornish (surprise, surprise). I think I'm still on a bit of a holiday come down but this one seemed to be a really good year. The weather was a-maz-ing!!! I'm pleased I bought a few (a lot of) trinkets back home with me to remind me of just how special that place is.


First stop, of course, had to be Poppy Treffry. This has become a bit of a tradition for me in recent years. Within hours of arriving, I have to get to St Ives and stock up on goodies. This year I came away with (more) tea towels, an iPad cosy, a pad and this lovely candle which I have come a bit protective over and don't want to light in case in runs out. I just love love love this shop so much! I have one of the tea towels framed in my dining room. If you're ever in St Ives you must go and visit the shop in the magical Fore Street, you won't be disappointed. I can't say the same for your wallet though! ;-)




Next up, Saltwater sandals!!!

If you know me, you'll know how much I love these sandals and I am so happy they're back on my feet again. I bought my first pair a couple of years ago and still love them as much now. I'm on to pair number 3 and already eyeing up pair number 4! It's the colours, they're too pretty and I think they have 17 different types. Go and have a look at Mini-Mi to get a pair with free delivery. Plus the lady behind Mini-Mi is super helpful, especially with sizes because they're a little unusual. 

I've also been loving...




...my home. I always love my home but it feels different this spring. Last spring I think the dust was still settling from the renovation but this year we're done (almost) and it just feeling lighter and brighter then ever. I particularly enjoying the light nights when I come home from work. I forget what the house looks like in daylight during winter. 


And what is spring without flowers? Flowers in vases, pictures of flowers, floral prints! You name it they're out. I've put an Emma Bridgewater carrier bag into a picture frame, (is that the prettiest carry bag you've ever seen?!?) and I've tied scraps of pretty fabric around jam jars. You can never have enough of flowers around you, of any kind... in my opinion!


And last, but definitely not lease, blossom. Oh blossom, I heart thee! The blossom tree in the garden is filled, with what seems like, tons of pink paper pom poms and they make me smile every time I look outside. 

Ah spring... you're wonderful.

I think you might be my favourite of them all.

Amy x