Sunday, 13 August 2017

Making a Bra

Well the last two afternoons have seen me kept busy trying to make a bra, not a floppy one but a structured one with bones.  Now rather than go about it  the usual way and make sure I had everything in place and some decent instructions to follow, I dived in a deconstructed an old bra of mine.  Now this in itself took a while and I have to say what a lot of faffy little bits there are.
Here I am part way through unpicking.

Now I had ordered some lace weeks ago (described as lingerie lace) and some of the notions for bra making.  The lace arrived and my husband said what are you making with this green net curtain! Well I am not sure about net curtain, although possibly? But it certainly was not what I had in mind so really I should have held fire on using that straight way.  I didn't in case you are wondering I ploughed ahead and cut out my pieces!

As I didn't have any moulded cups other than the ones from the old bra I had a go at covering these, in some soft jersey. They didn't hold their shape well with something on them and I felt I was constantly giving them a little smooth out to be sure.

There were also other little mishaps with the lace type, it felt like it was snagging on my hands constantly and I don't have rough hands.  Still in the spirit of not letting it win on I went.  From unpicking and restitching I do feel I have learnt quite a bit about how the garment comes together and I am sure there are lots of little tricks out there to save time, improve fit etc. 

Here are the suspicious looking net curtain pieces. Ha ha

Right this is as far as I got before I decided that this is never going to be worn as it is itchy net style fabric grhhh... I have gathered quite a bit of info from working on it though so all is not lost, the cups sit correctly, it has bones and I have had a play around at trying to sus how to make cups fit without the moulding (but I do need a  bit of that).  In the picture above I had not added the elastic, straps or bow as I would only be taking them off again for my next try.  I don't want to waste any bits.

I will source some better lace and try again, I feel it is important to show that not everything always goes well and that I am constantly learning too, the actual act of hand stitching some bits of the bra was very relaxing as I don't mind that so I will push on and try again. 

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Late Summer Blouse with Slit Sleeves

Todays make is a floaty chiffon and was supposed to be nice and quick, it very nearly was but I snipped it with my very sharp scissors and sat and stared at it for ages!  The problem was a bit of cotton sticking up I thought I'll just get rid of that, then oh dear!   Well I had already decided on the style of the sleeve this just meant they were open a little further up than I planned and as it happens they are probably just right now.

I bought this fabric in Devon earlier in the year for £5, just one metre and I had thought that once I got it home it was a bit matronly however it has grown on me.  It is a cheap and cheerful make and I'm sure it will get lots of wear.  I suppose you just have to find the right idea for every piece.

I thought I would show a neutral image on the mannequin first.

Here you can see the effect on the sleeves.

So this was cut out roughly on the kitchen table, pinned on to stand and then overlocked.

I have found draping fabric on here helps me get an idea if I like the shape I'm making, it is so much easier than constant trying on although I do still do that a lot.

I pinned the neck and to be honest all it really needed was a very narrow hem, the fabric is so fine I thought any bulk would spoil it.

The skirt I am wearing in this image also had a makeover today, it was a bargain ebay buy a while ago.  It was a bit loose on the waist, well you could just pull it way at the back so it gaped, also it was that sort of length to the k nee that stops you walking quickly.  No good for me I walk very fast and I am out with the dogs a lot so I don't need anything restricting my stride.  I decided to shorten it and take it in.

I cut out a V each side because there are belt loops in certain places and this was the easiest option.

Here is the amount I cut off the bottom, it is much more versatile now and in the cold weather I will wear thick tights with it.  You can do something with most items that don't fit, it is always worth a go especially if you intend to throw them out.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Shoe Refashion and Strap Adjustment

Hello I have just come back from a holiday in Somerset so there hasn't been any sewing for a week or so, but now I am back and I just had to tackle these shoes...
Now I bought these before I went away and they are too small as the elastic strap is too tight across the ankle, the other problem was that they are far more colourful in real life than in the picture so I wasn't sure about them either.  The top bead is a really bright yellow plastic and it just wasn't doing it for me.  I thought I would send them back but no the lovely company just sent me a larger pair! 

Well the larger pair were too big as my feet are narrow and just slid straight to the front, also there was still the problem of the bright yellow bead.  My mum loved them so she has the larger pair and I thought maybe I could adjust the strap on the ankle. So I just cut it at the inside foot, then I played around a bit with a bit of narrow ribbon.  When I was happy with the feel I stitched it into place.

Now as I had started I got a bit carried away, I removed all of the beads but I was left with a gaudy, glittery fabric underneath...
I also didn't like the shape of it at this point so as you can see I cut it straight up the sides, I then covered it with lace as you can see on the right and now it was looking more like something I could wear.   Oh I did leave a few beads around the top as you can see as they were not quite so in your face!

It is amazing how comfy these sandals feel now that I have added that bit of ribbon, and I feel the lace gives a much softer finish.  I know some people will feel they looked better before but they were just not me and there is no point in keeping things we will not use or wear.

Happy feet

Here is the ribbon at the side, not the neatest but not noticeable when they are worn.

So now these are done I will look at shoes in a different way, how many pairs have we got rid of that easily have been given a new lease of life? It makes you wonder, while the lace was tricky to sew on it wasn't impossible. I did prick my fingers a number of times but that is nothing new.  With the range of shoe dyes, fabrics, weather proofing spray etc, that is out there we could all be shoe designers.  I will be on the look out, if you decide to do something similar based on this idea please feel free to link back.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Bargain Gypsy Top Finished

Well I have to say I am really pleased with how this turned out considering I had no idea what to do with the fabric until last week.  My husband very kindly took the photographs but I always feel such a fool posing in items I have made but I do understand that people want to see the garments being worn and not just always hanging on a mannequin.

I rescued the frill that had been put on upside down  and hemmed the side vents, it took a few tries to get the straps in just the right place so they don't show the bra straps but that is always the case, am I right ladies?
I thought I would stand somewhere pretty then saw the cobwebs in the garage window! Oops.

The level is about the same front and back on the neckline.

Happy that the straps stayed covered though.

That side vent lets it hang a bit more freely.

The fabric was quite nice to work with some sort of cotton mix. I didn't use my overlocker for tidying inside seams just a zig zag stitch, sometimes I really can't be doing with the thread hungry nature of overlockers.

I have some more fabric big enough  for a top just waiting to be transformed I will have to get to work on that.  The only thing is I have used it twice before, once in a patchwork cushion and once in the runner  here on the drawers in my hallway.  Is it ok to match your soft furnishings? I am not sure but maybe I will give it a go. The fabric is very bright and I think that is probably why I haven't used it in a garment yet.  Probably a simple top with no fussy fastenings will be best.

Today I have added a few new pictures to Pinterest from something I have been working on, I had them all saved then got around to adding them today.  It is based around faith art, not for everyone I understand, that is why I haven't shared on here but I feel that sort of creativity could be used in connection with poetry or other inspirational works so maybe I will post on it another day in a non-biased way.
  In relation to this I have treated myself to some new coloured pencils, Inktense  they are called, very rich colours.  I am considering this an end of School year gift to myself.  The good thing is I ordered them then got a message saying they were going to give me a £6 refund!  They must have gone on sale as they were £12.95 when I bought them, very good of them to honour it as I didn't know.  They were from Amazon.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Gluten Free Vegan Pizza with Homemade Cashew Cheese

Since I had to cut out wheat from my diet I have found that I miss pizza, bread had been the big one but I have mastered that one now so I thought pizza is just the same surely just a different shape.   Now there are probably master pizza chefs thinking absolutely not, it is different altogether but I just want to eat a pizza so here we are...
Easy Gluten Free Vegan Pizza
Now I really like a thin base so that is what I aimed for, if you want it thicker you will have to adjust the quantities. I just used my bread recipe that I have been tweaking and just used less of  it, I also left out the potato starch in this one. It was really tasty and I will definitely be making this on a regular basis.

30g brown rice flour
40g Quinoa flour
30g SR GF flour
2g of dry yeast (about a third of a 7g packet)
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
5ml oil
100g tepid water
pinch of salt

Put dry ingredients in a bowl and mix except for salt, add water and oil and mix gently then add salt when all ingredients combined. 

Line a pizza tray with greaseproof paper and oil lightly, spread mixture on paper thinly, just pour it in and spread don't over handle.

Cover and let it rise for about 10-15 minutes it will only be a little rise, then cook for 10 minutes at 200c.  While this was cooking I added peppers and onion to a roasting tin to cook a little.

Cashew Cheese
40g cashews
1 desert spoon nutritional yeast
juice of 1/4 lemon
pinch of garlic granules

Blitz nuts in a food processor keep going until they are as fine as they will go, add nutritional yeast, garlic granules, lemon juice and a little water.  Blitz again and only add more water if needed to make a thick paste.  This is so nice you can eat it as it is.
I know it doesn't look much but it is really tasty.

Cover your pizza with whatever toppings you like, I put tomato puree, the roasted pepper and onion, some tomatoes and the cashew cheese.  Pop back in the oven for 8-10 minutes until hot.  The good thing is the pizza just slides straight off the paper onto the plate and is nice and crisp around the edge.


Monday, 24 July 2017

£2 Gypsy Top with Straps

I have had this little piece of fabric sat in a drawer now for a couple of months, I bought it because it was a remnant and only £2 but I wasn't sure what to make with it.  As it was only £2 it was too good to pass up and I knew inspiration would strike at some point.

Here is progress so far. One of the frills is coming off as it is upside down! But you get the idea.

Last week when I went for something to eat with a friend  she was wearing a lovely top, I mentioned this fabric and said I thought it would be just the thing for something like the one she was wearing.  Now I had the image of her top in mind so it may not be the same but the style is along the same lines.  There was a t-shirt already hanging in my wardrobe that was a similar shape so I used it as a starting point.

This t-shirt is very baggy so as you can see I folded it in a bit.

I cut two long strips and gathered them to make the frills for front and back.

It is now on the mannequin with the side seams sewn and the straps pinned in place, I'm going to do a vent either side at the bottom.

This didn't take that long but I had to start cooking, go off and do my pilates and now I am being reminded that Game of Thrones is on in a bit so I guess it will wait until tomorrow.
This little label that was stapled to the bottom of the remnant made me smile, how often can you make a garment for that price these days?

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Sun Top Quick Make

Another week passed and summer is here for those of us who work in Schools, judging by the weather forecast though it is just in time for the worst of the weather.  Not to be put off by this I made up this sun top today using the fabric from the bottom of the charity shop dress I bought some weeks ago.  I have already worn the dress which has been taken in and up (by quite a lot!) the top should come in handy for wearing under things  on cooler days or on it's own when the sun returns.

Quick to make up and I didn't even need to hem the bottom as I used the one that was already there from the  maxi dress hem.

The only pieces needed were a front, back, two facing pieces for the top and two long rectangles for straps.  I just cut around an existing strappy top.  While I was making this it reminded  me of the quick little things I used to make as a teenager when I first got my sewing machine and also a book I have just read called Micromastery.  While I was reading this book I was nodding along thinking yes! That's me, that is how I learn.

The whole theme of this book was to keep on learning and not to be put off by thinking you have to be an expert at everything that interests you or that you have to specialise. It also suggest that you find achievable things you can do in any topic that interests you so that you have a skill in that area that you can show or use.  I agree with this completely, how many people do we know who go off and do college courses on things or night classes and learn all the theory but can't actually do anything useful. 

I'm sure it is wonderful to learn all you can  about your passion but surely things need to be transferable to life for them to be fun and to  maintain our interest for a longer period?  That is just what this book is about and it even gives you a selection of little skills you can learn (with instructions) if you so wish.

When I first got my machine when I was sixteen I bought fabric immediately, laid out a top and cut around it, I remember it was a big piece of cheap fabric and I had to cut the back again as it was a bit tight.  It was a wonderful feeling to have succeeded at something within a short time and spurred me on to do more.  I think if I had enrolled on a course, grappled with patterns, or sat figuring out what stitches the machine could do I wouldn't have had that same feeling and I'm sure it has to be the same with most things.  I will certainly be using some of the tips from this book in future.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Broccoli, Potato and Cashew Bake and Feeling Good

Just this past week I have been feeling a lot more energised, not as tired in the evening and generally better about things.  I had made a decision a couple of weeks ago to have a break from consuming any alcohol at all, not that I have a lot but I do buy a bottle of wine at the weekend.  There are also times my husband comes home with a few bottles of lager and I will have one of those, again not a lot but it doesn't help when I am easily prone to a sensitive stomach.  So I decided I would have a break (no particular fixed time) and see how things went. 

Well you wouldn't think this would bother anyone else would you? However when my mum and mother in law plus her husband came for lunch last weekend you would have thought it affected them. I didn't bring it up but when the wine came out they said why are you not drinking, I replied I didn't want one, oh why not? I stated I was giving my body a little rest, oh that's just silly! Have one , just one, why not?   So strange as this was I declined and stuck to it but I can't get over how bothered they were by it.

So that said I'm not suggesting that my increased energy is just down to cutting out a few glasses of wine but I have been more proactive at sticking to other things I like do and that make me feel good.
Everyday for the past fifteen days I have done a pilates routine with Robin Long , often two as these ones are short.  I have done these before but sometimes in the past I have missed days telling myself I was tired or I had been busy that day, no more of that, they take no time at all but you can really feel it the next day so I know they are effective.  Some of the routines you feel more than others.
I have made time to read every day and also practice my guitar and learn a few new songs, this always makes me feel relaxed.

The cook books have had a rest and I have made up quite a few new recipes this week,  further more I have enjoyed everything I have had to eat, there have been lots of fruit salads as all the lovely fruit is in season.  In addition to the fruit salads if I felt a bit peckish later in the day I have had a thin slice of my homemade bread toasted, this has kept me off the crisps, another bad habit I had fell into.  So while I do have a healthy diet being vegan there were still a few slips with the salty crisps and the beer and wine, if I can try to keep these things out it gives my body an easier time processing everything.  It's not for everyone I know, I'm just going with what works for me.

So one of the things I made this week was a Broccoli, Potato and Cashew Bake.  Now this is what I did and there are no precise amounts as I was just popping things in as I went.

Two good sized potatoes were peeled and finely sliced, then I put them in the microwave for seven minutes. I set that aside and fried a red onion and a couple of cloves of garlic, at the same time steam the broccoli.
Then I mixed vegan cheese sauce powder with a little water and poured that into the frying pan, along with one heaped tbsp. of nutritional yeast flakes plus salt and pepper.
Next I added a little more water then some alpro soya cream.  In the blender I added a handful of cashew nuts and blasted those, then I put half in the cheese sauce mixture.
Lay the broccoli in an oven proof dish, place the potatoes over the top pouring over the sauce, then more potatoes more sauce and finally the last of the nuts on top.  I gave the top a little drizzle of olive oil too.  Bake for about twenty minutes.
I enjoyed it and it was well balanced nutritionally, the good thing is there was enough left for work the next day too.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Quinoa Bread and Other Food

After my success last week with the gluten free bread mix I went to Aldi to try and get some more. However they had put the price up well either that or it was on offer when I bought it, so it had gone from 75p  to £1.79.  I didn't really want to spend that much as making it myself was supposed to be money saving. 

I decided to get some more flour so I could do my own mix but I have noticed that a lot of recipes use a mixture of GF flours.  While we were out I went in Holland and Barrett and they had Quinoa flour reduced from £8 to £2 so I bought that. (I would never pay £8)

Yesterday I thought I would just have an experiment at mixing a few flours and see what happened, this is the recipe I came up with...

Quinoa Bread

100g Quinoa flour
50g brown rice flour
50g potato starch
100g gf plain flour
300ml tepid water
15ml olive oil
7gm dry yeast
1/2 tsp xanthan gum

Put the flour, yeast, water, xanthan gum and oil in a bowl and mix gently until all combined, pour into a 1lb loaf tin and cover.  Leave to rise, mine did take about 20 minutes but keep an eye on it.
Bake in the oven on 200c for 30 minutes.

This loaf didn't look as pretty as last weeks creation but it is actually lighter, it also toasts really well.
It has more air bubbles I think and I wouldn't have cooked it any longer as it is just right.

After that came out so well I  made a banana and pecan loaf as I was on a cooking roll, I find on days when things go wrong I get grumpy with the whole being in the kitchen thing and lose motivation.  Not so on this day so I carried on and did more baking. 

The only worry I have now is that when Holland and Barrett run out of the reduced price quinoa flour I will have to go back the drawing board!  I also found some amazing snack olives and pea crisps all reduced, the pea crisps can be bought from Aldi as well I have noticed.

For the rest of the afternoon we had family round for lunch but I did manage to take off the bottom from the charity shop dress I bought and there is just enough fabric  left over for a sun top.

So the piece that I have placed beside it here, was then cut out into these pieces below.
I'm going to utilise the original hem that is on the bottom.

I will share later in the week when I get around to sitting at the machine.  It will be useful for the summer or wearing under items later in the year.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Gluten Free Bread Success

Finally I think I have found a little packet mix that is Gf and tastes good.  I found this packet bread mix in Aldi a few weeks ago and snatched it up as you don't often see any Gf items in there and it has been sat in the back of my cupboard ever since.  Earlier today I though I would give it a try, it was quite difficult to mix as I don't have a food mixer and bread paddle just a small blender with a couple of blades.  After sitting on the worktop for about ten minutes under a tea towel I was pleased to see it had risen, in it went for 35 minutes in a 1lb loaf tin ( well actually a 2lb tin as that was all I had but I put a ramekin in one end as a stopper and shaped foil up to it!) and it came out like this...
I have just tried  a slice with some vegan spread and it is soft and tasty, my only issue now will be if they ever stock it again.  It  is called Bakels gluten free white bread mix, it was 75p and you need a sachet of dry yeast so another 15p there.  Looking at the ingredients I could probably reproduce it if I just do my own flour mix but it is just the initial outlay of buying the expensive flours to start with. 

If anyone sees it on sale anywhere else please let me know because even though it is a packet mix it is still less expensive than the Gf bread I have been buying at £2.39 for a titchy little loaf.  It makes me really cross how much they charge for all the Gf products so I make a point of not buying them now aside from bread that is.  It would be wonderful if I could permanently scratch that off the shopping list as well.

Bread is not the part of a meal it used to be but it is still handy for when I'm at work for dipping in soup or putting beans on, I do like the odd slice of marmite toast too but again this has never been the same since I had to switch to GF bread.  It will be interesting to see how it keeps, I have made Gf bread before and it didn't freeze well but the shop bought ones do (must be all the chemicals!) so hopefully I can freeze a few slices.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Sewing for Children

When my boys were small I would make sleep suits and vests and little jackets with hoods.  As they got  older I didn't make as much day to day wear as the choices for fabric for boys was not as inspiring and often worked out as expensive as buying ready made.  However I always made  them dressing up clothes, it used to be power rangers in every colour, pirates, Peter Pan which later became Robin Hood and anything they came up with I would make. 

There has been opportunities to work on the dresses of friends children over the years including a couple of flower girl dresses and some every day wear.  These have been shared before but as I was asked last week to do some more it reminded me and I looked through the pictures, here are a couple.

I really enjoyed making these and my former colleague said she is going to have a look at fabrics and get in touch, apparently this little style is quite hard to get in her daughters size.  The little hair slides were also quick to make.

Another dress I enjoyed making was this flower girl dress, the fabrics were beautiful and that is often the difference with having something made.

People often have flower girl dresses shipped in from China only to find they are tissue paper thin and don't live up to the photographs. It is worth finding someone local who can make these sort of items for children, that way you get exactly what you want and it is more unique.

It is wonderful to see so many bloggers sewing for their own children, I really enjoy seeing all the different creations and while my boys are teenagers now and don't want mum sewing their clothes they still come to me with repairs and sleeves to be shortened.  I look forward to making little items for friends in the future.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Quick Hanging Basket

My husband came home  from work today with a hanging basket he picked up at Home bargains at lunch time, it was £2.50.  That will do, seeing as the one we saw made up  the other day was £12.   I had plants already from the ones I bought on Sunday so it was up in no time.  I know you can get the plastic ones for about £5 but they usually only have about two plants in and I think the actual basket on this one is much better.

After tea I finished the other bridesmaid dress, so that is another  job out of the way and finished off the miracle morning the book I couldn't get on with last time.  After looking back I couldn't see if I had posted about it before but anyway it was better this time.  It mostly focuses on having a good positive morning routine that starts early and leads you towards getting more done. 

 I do wonder if I enjoy certain books more depending on what mood I am in to begin with, does anyone else feel this way?  The part about habits feels spot on , I know there are things I have been doing for years which come easily because they are routine.  In short if we get through the first, difficult weeks of forming a new habit and make it to a month we will have incorporated it into our lives.  There are a few good habits I would like to add.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Hemming a Bridesmaid Dress

This week I have been asked to take up two dresses for a lady used to work with, they are a very pretty chiffon on top,  so two layers to deal with.  When I have something like this I like to take my time, items for myself are usually rattled off in a hurry but not things I do for other people.

A few people have mentioned to me that they are over cautious about taking up skirts and dresses, any skirts at all that is.  If you measure accurately where you want the skirt to finish and put a line of pins there this will keep you on track, don't rush! I take longer with this part if it is something is special than the actual sewing because once you have this bit right that is most of the work done.

It is a bit crumpled I know, not my doing they are both folded into small bags I think they have been ordered from somewhere.  That faint line of pins you can see is the finished length so I will leave an inch below that and cut there, it is double thickness here so both pieces will be folded towards each other so no raw edges are visible.  To get my finish length I measured 5 inch up all the way along the bottom as that was how much I was told.

I had  a little dip there so I sorted that, now the pins in this picture have been moved as I carefully folded the layers up in line with the original pins then replaced them to keep both layers in place. It was then stitched close to the edge.   I then repeated the process with the chiffon layer but this time I only took off 4 inch  so it would hang below.  One  dress down and then I was very hot, so I will finish dress two tomorrow and share a few more pictures.  The cool shower  I had when I came home from work has worn off so no more sewing this evening.

Food this evening consisted of chickpeas, onions , tomatoes, garlic and all manner of other things cooked in a pan with spices, no recipe to follow just throwing in whatever I fancied and it was delicious.  It makes me wonder why I bother with the formal recipes at times, more success seems to be  had with the throw it all in pan method.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Just Gardening

Today has been mainly a case of getting on with the garden, we go through phases I think where we believe we are on top of it and then we leave it for a while and there is nothing in the pots and the weeds creep in.  So while we have it fairly low maintenance anyway it was time to put a bit of colour in, and pull a few more of those weeds.  Hottest day I think so not the easiest task but there will always be an excuse so we got on and did a bit, there is still a lot of topsoil needed for a bed down the side but that was not something to be bought at the local garden centre.  It can be bought cheaper and delivered in a larger quantity I think.

We didn't go too mad, we bought a couple of dahlias yesterday and another today and a few packs of bedding plants at 3 for £6.  It has made the front of the house look a bit brighter and filled a couple of pots on the back, I still need to do the hanging basket, there are plants left for this but we decided the actual basket had seen better days so we need o source another in the next couple of days.
A few on the front

A dahlia for each side of the door, I already had all the pots.

There is actually a grape vine in this pot that never has any grapes.

Amazing what a difference a few flowers can make but of course the sun is also shining and that always puts a better light on everything too.

I have started to re-read The Miracle Morning which I originally read and said it wasn't very good but now it feels altogether different, funny how that happens sometimes and the saying goes you are not who you were a year ago so this time around I am getting something from it. It does make me wonder about all those books that have gone to the charity shop though because I thought they were rubbish, maybe if I had held on to them  I would have enjoyed them at a later date.

That last thought however brings me on to something I was thinking about earlier in relation to clutter. The bottom of my wardrobe seems to have got out of control and I was tidying it and adding the shoe racks when I thought 'what happened to getting rid of an item a day?'  Now that was something I started a while ago as a war on stuff but it has somehow been neglected, so I am beginning again to remove one item a day (it doesn't matter how small) of useless stuff from my life.

Making a Bra

Well the last two afternoons have seen me kept busy trying to make a bra, not a floppy one but a structured one with bones.  Now rather than...