Thursday, 30 June 2011

Katies adventures in dress making land part eight

I had such a long day yesterday, what with having to stay at work a bit later for an open evening, and then driving straight to my dress making class until 9pm (luckily, my friend Vicky gave me a yummy cookie to give me a bit of a sugar rush!).  I felt like I was moving in slow motion, I was not in a particularly productive mood. I have now inserted both sleeves in my dress though, although doing one took about an hour!  I kept catching a small bit of the fabric, causing an overlap, everytime!  Luckily, Janet saved the day!  Typically, the second one was sewn in with no problems at all.  I also pressed and stitched the wrap over vent at the back of the dress, but unfortunately ran out of time to hem it - that is Monday's job :)

  • Always tack sleeves and zips.
  • To always use the same (thickness) of thread on the top of the machine as the one in the bobbin case.
  • Sewing my tacks too big.
  • Having to re-stitch about 1" of my sleeve to the body of the dress three times.
I'm sorry that my dress making posts have been quite boring, and that it is taking me so long to make it!  I am hoping to start a new dress next week, so there will be something new to look at :)

Friday, 24 June 2011

in honour of Gilbert

Today one of our goldfish, Gilbert, died :(
I am seriously so sad.  We brought Gilbert and George when we moved into this house together (incidentally, our first house).  I really wanted an old fashioned spherical bowl, like the ones from Tom & Jerry cartoons!  Poor little Gilbert was almost three years old, which quite frankly, is elderly for a goldfish.  It is just not nice seeing an animal suffering, no matter how big or small.  When we left for work this morning, Gilbert was not looking too peachy, and I knew that he would be gone by the time I returned home.  I am so soppy, I actually feel sorry for George - he's in the bowl all by himself, I swear the pair of them used to play some sort of fish version of tag (or tig for those of you in Leicester).  I know, that sounds crazy, like I'm some mad goldfish woman!  Oh, it is just so sad when pets die.

This one's for you Gilbert! x

Time Lapse Fish Bowl from Steve Poxson on Vimeo.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Katies adventures in dress making land part seven

Above are a few detailed photographs of how my dress is looking so far :)  I arrived at the class really early yesterday, even before the tutor! I'm like the class nerd! I hand stitched the bottom of my zip which needed reinforcing and tacked the neckline before starting on slip stitching the zip to the lining.  Janet started this off, and it looked so beautifully neat, this worried me!  I have to say though, I am so proud of myself and my slip stitching skills - I think I have done really rather well (see photograph three above).  I also attached the neck facing, amazingly the facing fit the neckline perfectly with no need for alteration.  I am truly amazed at how well this dress making is going so far!  Just a few more stages to go; attaching sleeves and hemming the bottom of the dress and the lining.  Oh, and making a belt!  I really hope that it looks good once it's all finished, I'm so excited about potentially wearing it!

  • How to use slip stitch to neatly hand sew the zip to the lining material.
  • Sewing a few mms in from the edge of the neckline, along the facing, helps to keep the facing from coming out onto the outside of the dress.
  • Overlapping a small section of the fabric of the neckline when sewing on the neck facing, having to unpick a few stitches and re-sew.
Here are a few more photographs of how the dress looks on, I'm a bit worried that it is too loose around the waist, and that maybe I should have sewn darts at the front.  Hopefully the belt that I am going to make will make it look more fitted.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Laura Ashley dress

I'm finally getting up to date with all of these blog posts!  This is the Laura Ashley dress that I briefly spoke about a couple weeks ago.  I found it in a charity shop back in my hometown of Luton for £4.  The dress is corduroy, so will probably remain in my wardrobe until the Autumn, which to be fair, is not really that far away!  I was really 'uumming' and 'arrring' over this dress, mainly because of the colour - I don't own anything purple!  I just don't really think that it suits me.  It does seem to bring out the colour of my eyes (green), but in a sort of freaky Hallowe'en kind of way.  Although, while looking at these photographs, I did notice how orange my hair looks - now this makes me happy :)  I think that this would be a great dress to layer up when it gets cold; a t-shirt underneath, some woolly tights, a chunky scarf and some DMs (they are on my wishlist at the moment, I am desperate to buy either some boots or Mary Janes).

I seem to wear specific colours these days; green, yellow, orange, beige, navy blue, ochre, tan and muted pinks.  Equally, I stay away from just as many; purple (as explained), black, grey, white and bright tones or pastel tones of anything, simply because after years of wearing any colour I wished, I have now realised which ones suit me better.  

Do you tend to stick to the same colour palette?

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

what Katie made

So here it is, finally!  The first garment that I have ever made that a) fits me and b) is made well enough that I feel comfortable wearing it out of the house!  I have to say, I am so proud of myself :)  Seeing as  I had attempted it once, and made many mistakes, the second attempt was much easier and quicker to construct!  I thought that using cotton may be a problem as it's not stretchy (the top has no fastenings) but it fits really well.  I have so far worn it twice since I made it just over a week ago, and I think it shall have many more outings!  I really want to make lots now in different colours and patterns and experiment with altering the collar.  The pattern was an old Prima one that I found in a charity shop in the Lake District for 50p - making the total cost way under £10.  I have most certainly caught the dress making bug.

Katies adventures in dress making land part six

I'm really glad I went along to the class last night, I really enjoyed it and feel that my dress is coming along really well!  I've noticed that I have become more patient with my sewing and not getting too angry at myself when I do things wrong (which is often!).  I think that it helps being away from the distractions of home, dedicating specific time for me to do something that I love, learning new skills and being around other sewers.  It's like a little support network!  It's really making me think that it would be so much fun to begin some sort of craft group.

Janet is really helpful and so nice!  She made me a little bow tonight for the top I made (to er, cover up the small mistake that I made!).  She was telling me about all the wedding dresses that she has made for people over the years, It would be so amazing to be that talented!

  • 5/8 = 1 1/2 cm, now I finally understand what Janet means when she tells me to tack 'five eighths in'.
  • To use Woolite or similar to hand wash the finished garment - dip into cold water, do not scrunch up, and leave to drip dry on a hanger.
  • To use pinking shears to trim the edges of the lining to make it look neater (Note to self - I really need to buy myself some of those).
  • Starting to attach my zip without changing the foot to a zipper foot.
  • Also, not changing the thread from white to red (it's ok though, it was the invisible bit so no one will ever know!)
  • Getting my thumb caught on the machine needle - ouch!
  • Cutting off the excess thread at the start of my sewing when attaching the zip, when I should have tied it first because it wasn't reverse stitched - I was being too enthusiastic!  I need to hand sew a couple of stitches over the top to make sure that it doesn't all come apart.
  • Not checking last weeks pinning of the back seam, this resulted in the two sides not matching up (the fabric must have slipped!), therefore lots of unpicking and doing again!
As promised, here are some photographs of how my dress is progressing!  I was unable to try it on because there are tons of pins holding it all together at the moment, and I didn't fancy being a pin cushion!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

new shop items

I have finally got round to adding some new items to my Etsy shop!  Here is a little preview of what's on offer...

Psssspt... Wallpaper Rose are hosting a HUGE giveaway over on their blog, there are tons of handmade things up for grabs, including one of my recycled map jigsaw puzzle badges (which are now in very limited supply!)  Pop along and have a look!

Katies adventures in dress making land part five

I'm really enjoying going to these dress making classes!  It's such a shame that there are only about four weeks left.  It's so good to have a tutor who is so skilled and who can direct you on what to do next. 
Wednesday nights' class was very productive again.  Janet suggested that I lined the shift dress that I am making, as it would hang better and stop it from sliding.  Part of me thought "No way!  I can not possibly line anything!", but I also thought that it would be really good to at least try to do it.
So off I went, attaching my pattern pieces to the lining and cutting them out.
I sewed darts into the lining and attached the back and front pattern pieces at the shoulders.  I also attached my dress at the shoulders, had a fitting where Janet pinned the side seams, and then I sewed those too.  I was so relieved that the dress fit me!  I was so worried that I had cut the pattern pieces too small (it's a complicated business!).  In fact, I had cut the dress patterns too big!  
I still have quite a way to go, sew the side seams of the lining, attach the lining to the dress, insert the zip, attached the sleeves, attach the facing, make a belt and hem the dress... Phew!  But, so far, so good :)

  • Insert pins the right way around, so that they are easier to remove from the fabric while you're running it through the sewing machine.
  • Make sure the fit around the bust is accurate so that the darts sit well.
  • Sewing one of the darts very badly!  It was such a pain to unpick too, because it was on lining fabric, fiddly!
  • Cutting the pattern pieces too big (better to have more fabric than less though!).
Sorry that this post is way overdue, I did want to get some photographs of my dress to post too, but I am having some real problems with lighting on this dull and rainy Sunday afternoon in June!  I'm back at the dress making class tomorrow evening, so I promise some photographs in Tuesdays post instead :)

    Happy Fathers Day

    My favourite photograph of me and my wonderful Dad :)

    Friday, 17 June 2011

    my vegan week part 5

    Day five

    A peach soya yogurt.

    A small salad (mixed lettuce leaves, cucumber, tomatoes, green pepper and grated carrot), topped with houmous and linseed, a banana, a Nakd pecan pie bar (YUM!) and a bottle of water.

    A homemade banana and raisin muffin when I arrived home from work.

    Red lentil casserole (with peppers, onions and tomatoes) with chopped vegetarian sausages.

    It is Friday, and I feel completely and utterly exhausted - I fell asleep for two hours earlier this evening!  Steve saved the day with dinner, because I am so tired, I couldn't be bothered to even think about what to eat for dinner, let alone cook anything!  I was all ready for a cheesy pasta bake to be honest, something stodgy and filling.  Steve came up with the recipe by himself, the sausages were made from a veggie sausage mix from Asda where you just add water and mould into shape.  This was the first time we had tried them, and they were not too bad but lacked a bit of flavour.  I wonder if you could just add some extra ingredients to the mix to make them more interesting, e.g. garlic, cheese, onions etc?  Anyway, the meal was really yummy and was just what I needed!  I'm now so glad I didn't cave and go for a dinner laden with dairy and/or wheat, this means I have made it five whole days dairy free,


    Now that I have achieved what I set out to do, I will not be posting my little food diary every day, but will keep you posted on new recipes and foods that I try that are dairy free.  I think I will be returning to eating some dairy from now on, but will not be consuming as much as I was before this week, the soya stuff really is too good!

    Thanks again for all of your helpful and inspiring comments and tweets :)

    P.S. Sorry that my latest dress making post has not been published yet, it is still requiring some photographs which I am yet to sort out because I have been feeling so tired tonight :(

    Thursday, 16 June 2011

    my vegan week part 4

    Day four
    Today has not been such a good day, I have had terrible stomach cramps for pretty much the entire day.  Part of the reason behind a week long dairy free diet, was to see if this helped my digestion, but now it appears that bread is also a culprit!  So that's one more thing I will now need to eat less of.  This resulted in me not eating any lunch today, I didn't feel hungry and couldn't face it, I just wanted to curl up into a ball!  The stomach cramps did ease off though, just in time to visit our friends for dinner :)
    A bowl of bran flakes with vanilla soya milk (I know, an odd choice, I wouldn't recommend it) topped with linseed.

    Nothing :(
    Oh wait, two cups of water.

    A banana when I arrived home from work.

    Homemade (by my friend Ivona!) lentil curry with pitta bread (I braved eating some wheat!).
    Followed by homemade (by me!) berry crumble with soya custard and soya ice cream, mmm!
    A glass of water.

    We had a really lovely evening tonight, our friends invited us round when I said I was being vegan for a week, saying that they had a vegan recipe that they were cooking for dinner one evening.  I politely provided the pudding!  A very simple crumble (substituting the butter for Pure Sunflower spread), with a choice of soya custard or soya ice cream (or both!)
    I hadn't tried soya custard before, and I thought it was yummy!  It was more runny and less sweet than Ambrosia custard, but that isn't a bad thing!  The soya ice cream went down really well too!  I have had it a few times before, and love it!  It's definitely worth a try if you are yet to!  I brought some from Sainsburys for about £2.00.

    I'm really starting to get into this dairy free diet now, I wonder how long I can keep it up!

    Wednesday, 15 June 2011

    vegan banana muffins

    Those if you that are already vegan will probably be familiar with this recipe, or an adaptation of it.
    I have been making these muffins for about four years, they really are delicious, and in my opinion, tastier than cakes that are made with eggs :)
    They are also incredibly easy to make!

    Makes one dozen muffins

    You will need:
    3 ripe bananas
    1/4 cup oil or melted margarine (I used Pure Sunflower spread, and didn't melt it as it is very soft and easy to mix)
    1 cup sugar
    2 cups flour
    1 tsp. salt (I used a pinch)
    1 tsp. baking soda

    Optional: Add a handful of walnuts, oats, raisins, chocolate chips, currants, coconut, or all of the above!
    (I used raisins, oats and chopped up dairy-free chocolate)

    1.  Mash the bananas (overripe ones make the best bread). Add the oil/margarine and sugar, then mix well.
    2.  Sift the flour, salt, and baking soda together and add to the banana mixture. Mix until the flour is blended, but do not beat.
    3.  Pour into muffin cases or a bread tin and bake at 360°F (180°c) until a toothpick comes out clean (I bake for approximately 20 minutes).

    Here are some snaps of the baking process!

    place your muffin cases in a baking tray
     add three bananas to a large mixing bowl
     mash the bananas
     add the margarine and sugar and mix well
     sift the flour, salt and baking powder into the bowl
     because I like to make different flavours using one batch, I divide the mixture into separate small bowls
     add a handful of whatever you choose!
    fill the muffin cases,
    and after twenty minutes...

    my vegan week part 3

    Day three

    Today I had a yummy lunch - lots and lots of salad!  I really do love salad, such a vegetarian cliche as well, i.e. rabbit food.  
    I have noticed today that I have generally started to feel much better about myself, I seem to have a bit more energy since ditching the dairy three days ago.  It will be interesting to see whether or not this remains to be true by the end of the week.  I have also been feeling much more full than usual, and this is a real surprise to me!  Normally after meals, I still feel hungry, but that's not happened at all yet this week.  
    I was lent a booked called Veganomicon by a friend, and had a look through it last night.  It has some really tempting recipes in it, I think that I might just have to buy a copy for myself!  I'm still not sure I could become a vegan full time though, but I'm still thinking about eating a vegan diet from Monday to Friday, giving myself a chance to nibble some cheese at the weekends!

    Two slices of brown seeded toast with pure sunflower spread with (too much) marmite, and a glass of water.
    I had to do some scraping, my lovely boyfriend made me breakfast, but hasn't mastered the marmite application process as he hates the stuff!

    An apple at break.
    I'm seriously obsessed with granny smith apples <3

    A big, fat salad (mixed lettuce leaves, cucumber, tomatoes, yellow pepper and grated carrot), topped with houmous and linseed, a soya yogurt, a banana and a bottle of water.

    A homemade banana and oat muffin when I arrived home from work.

    Dinner (yet to be eaten!)
    Fajitas (peppers, onions, tomatoes, marinated tofu pieces in seeded wraps).

    I'm off to my dress making class in about an hour, so Steve will be preparing the fajitas in time for when I get home - I can't wait, nom!
    I have some more vegan banana muffins in the oven right now, and will be doing a post all about how to make them when I get home tonight (after eating the fajitas, obv).

    Sorry that there are no photographs today, but to make up for it, here is a video that I think you will enjoy!  Also, lots of thanks to everyone that has left comments or tweeted me with recipes and advice, it is much appreciated :)

    Tuesday, 14 June 2011

    Katies (additional) adventures in dress making land

    Janet, my dress making tutor, runs a course on Mondays as well as the Wednesday session that I attend.  As it is nearing the end of term, she has allowed the classes to come to either or both sessions, which is great!  So now, I will be doubling up on sewing time when I can!

    I went along tonight (in the top I made!  I will get some photographs posted very soon, I'm so proud of myself!).  I decided to begin making the dress which I have had the pattern pieces cut out for for a while.  It was a pretty productive class, I managed to over lock everything I needed to, attach interfacing to the facings and insert darts.  I will be back again on Wednesday to stitch the shoulders together and then pin it all together and put it on the check the fit.

    • To not reverse stitch on thin cottons when inserting darts, as it may pull the fabric.
    • To sew darts from outside to inside.
    • That you can use similar shades of cotton when sewing/over locking if you do not have enough of one - twist them together and hold against the fabric to check if they match.
    • Not to attach neck facing pieces together until the garment is constructed, just in case it needs adjusting.
    • Cutting the wrong interfacing, oops!
    • Sewing one of the darts a bit wonky, and having to unpick it and do it again.
    • Not being able to curve the over locker very well (lovely Janet stepped in to save the day before I chopped off too much fabric!).
    Here is just a little photograph to show you the darts that I sewed :)  Hopefully after tomorrows class, I will have some more interesting photographs to show you all!

    my vegan week part 2

    Day two

    Seeing as yesterday I was surprisingly full up all day, I decided on smaller meals for breakfast and lunch today.  I used unsweetened soya milk in my porridge, and didn't really like it as much as the vanilla flavoured one (even though that was quite sweet).  It has been suggested that I try rice milk instead, so I will be putting that on my next shopping list!  The idea of being vegan on weekdays was also suggested to me, which I think is a very promising idea.  I do currently have a bit of a craving for macaroni cheese though (here come the cheese cravings!), but I am, once again, full up after a big dinner.

    Bowl of porridge made with unsweetened soya milk and topped with linseed, and a glass of water.

    A mug of peppermint tea when I arrived at work.

    A tomato at break (I know, it sounds odd, but that was the childrens' snack at playtime today!).

    Leftover spicy lentil casserole (I only ate half, really not much of a fan), soya yogurt, apple, banana and a bottle of water.

    spicy lentil casserole

    A homemade banana muffin and a glass of water on returning from work.

    Vegetable korma (cauliflower, carrot, red and yellow peppers, tomatoes and white onion).
    I made the curry using a korma curry paste and coconut milk.

     vegetable korma

    I did prefer the curry tonight as opposed to last nights casserole, but I am finding these vegan dinners a struggle. We normally eat a lot of curries too, so it's probably all psychological!  I have been kindly lent lots of cook books from various friends, so I am going to have a look through some later to try to discover some tastier things to eat!  I might see if I can find another lentil casserole with perhaps tomatoes, chilli and peppers in it, in my head, this would be tasty!

    Monday, 13 June 2011

    my vegan week part 1

    Day one

    I completely understand that I am very sad, but I have been so excited about doing this vegan diet for days; shopping for dairy free goods and perusing the health food shops and online has been enlightening.  Finding savory recipes though, has been less fun.  I have now made a meal plan for the week, but have had to dig though tons of things which either included ingredients that were hard to find and/or expensive, or that, to be quite frank, sounded disgusting!  

    This morning, I unusually leaped out of bed about half an hour earlier than usual to prepare my lunch and to make some porridge for breakfast.  

    So here is how I've stayed away from dairy today!

    Bowl of porridge made with vanilla soya milk and topped with linseed, and a glass of water.
    (The vanilla soya milk made it taste delicious, although was quite sweet.)

    An apple and a mug of peppermint tea at break.

    Falafel, houmous, tomato and mixed lettuce leaves sandwich (on brown, seeded bread), a banana, raspberry soya yogurt and a homemade vegan banana and oat muffin.  Oh, and a bottle of water!

    A homemade banana and raisin muffin and a mug of chamomile tea on returning from work.

    Spicy lentil casserole (potato, carrot, parsnip, onion and red lentils) with rice, and a glass of water.

    I am incredibly full up (probably all of those carbs from dinner!)  To be honest, the meals that I have eaten today hasn't been largely different to what I would normally eat as a vegetarian.  And so far, no cheese cravings!

    Let's see if this gets harder as the week progresses!  I wanted to share some photographs, but I am having some camera issues at the moment.  Hopefully I will be able to post some later in the week :)  The plan is to do a little write up everyday this week, so keep popping back to see whether I have accidentally/purposefully eaten something with dairy in it!

    PS I finally found issue two of Mollie Makes today, yippee!

    Friday, 10 June 2011

    Laura Ashley

    There is a branch of Oxfam which I used to be in practically every day (when I worked in the area of Leicester that it is located), but I rarely get a chance to have a browse anymore.  However, a few days ago I thought I would pop in as I was on my way to the post office (to post some What Katie Found sales - yippee!)  And what did I find?  This cute Laura Ashley top for a mere £2.99! 
    I love that it's polka dot, and I love the button fastenings on either side.  I think that it would look a lot better worn with some high waisted trousers or a skirt though, annoyingly, I have neither of these.
    I brought another Laura Ashley item when I was in Luton last weekend visiting my family, a purple corduroy dress (again with button fastenings at the side and at the shoulders) for £4.  I had a little chat with the elderly lady working there about how I much prefer the old Laura Ashley prints and designs compared to modern ones.  I'd almost forgotten that I had even purchased it, so I will have to get some photographs of that soon to share with you all! 
    I seem to have developed a skill for hunting out vintage Laura Ashley items recently, not a bad skill to have acquired if you ask me!

    Thursday, 9 June 2011

    dairy free

    As some of you may already know, I'm a proud vegetarian (since circa 1996).  I have often thought to myself that I would love to be disciplined enough to be a vegan, you see, vegetarianism isn't too much of a challenge seeing as I hate the smell, taste and texture of meat, however cutting out cheese?  Now that might be a problem.  
    While we were in the Lake District last week, Steve said that he was thinking about cutting out all meat apart from fish (which he loves).  I of course thought that this was a great idea!   Steve is practically a vegetarian anyway, never eating meat at home.  This prompted me to think a bit more about the whole vegan thing, and that it would be an interesting challenge for a set amount of time (Sorry, but I just don't think I could give up cheese forever!).  Also, my diet lately has been really bad, I eat far too many cakes and biscuits (Although today not one sweet thing has passed my lips!)  I feel like I have got myself into some really bad eating habits and I need to change that, I feel so unhealthy, bleugh!

    So, it is decided, next week from Monday to Friday, I will be eating a vegan diet!  I did want to do the entire week until Sunday, but we will be at a wedding on Saturday so chances are I will be eating nothing all day if I continue it!  I will definitely be conscious of what I'm eating though, and try to stick to vegan food when I can :)

    What I thought would be interesting, was if any one else wanted to join me, by either choosing a vegan or vegetarian diet for those five days next week.  If you do, leave me a comment below to let me know!  I am going to document all the recipes and foods that I try, so if you are taking on this challenge too, I can include you in my posts :)

    Lastly, if anyone knows of any delicious vegan recipes or products (lunches, dinners, puddings or snacks!)  please let me know!  I have just been to the supermarket and stocked up on some dairy free treats, including chocolate rice milk and soya yogurts!

    Katies adventures into dress making land part four

    A few days ago, a friend of a friend kindly gave me a big bag of fabric.  One of the fabrics was quite a large piece of black and white stripey jersey, and I thought it would be perfect for attempting the top pattern, which I found in the charity shop in the Lake District last week.  So, on Monday, I optimistically cut out the pattern pieces and fabric and began sewing.  At the last stage, I realised my serious comprehension problem regarding pattern instructions.  I read them over and over again, and still had no idea what to do!  So, I decided to take it along to my dress making class, knowing that Janet would be able to tell me what to do at the drop of a hat!  

    And here it is, in its almost complete state!

    • how to insert a zip (I watched a demonstration, which Janet made look incredibly easy!)
    • To pin or tack the center markings (it makes matching pieces together much easier)
    • sewing together the wrong part of the collar, making it impossible to join together until I unpicked it and tried again.
    • making a bit of a mess when sewing the facing under the arm holes (this just needs to be hand stitched to neaten it up)
    Not too many mistakes made yesterday, I even pinned the facing to the top correctly all by myself!  The bottom of the top needs to be over locked and then hemmed, and then it's done!  I really love the pattern, I want to buy some more fabric and make another one!  This could turn out to be a classic :)

    I had hoped to start my shift dress tonight, but again I was far too optimistic!  If I get time this weekend, I might try to begin it myself at home (if I feel brave enough!)  Here is a little snap of the fabric that I will be using...

    Now if only I didn't have to go to work and I could stay home all day and sew instead*sigh*....

    Tuesday, 7 June 2011


    A couple of weeks ago, my friend Boa (first name, David), tweeted me to ask whether I could make him a bow tie. He requested this recycled green floral fabric that I have previously used to make hair bows.  I accepted the challenge willingly - I have wanted to attempt making a bow tie for a while, so this seemed like a good opportunity to give it a go.  The process was quite simple, and I really enjoyed making it!  Overall, I am pretty pleased with it, I think I might even make some more to sell in my shop, what do you think?


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