Since I’ve Been Gone…

It’s been just over a month since my last post. I had such grand plans to keep posting right up until the wedding but things did get a bit busy. The Mr is still working in London during the week, so things are difficult with two households to run. So planning the wedding has taken priority over everything – I’ve barely made anything not wedding related for weeks! But I thought I might share a post about our wedding and the lead up to it.
When we* I started planning this wedding, I knew I wanted to do as much of it myself and support small businesses too, which is something really close to my heart. The hen do and the wedding were as homemade and handmade as budget and time would permit. So who wants to see some pictures?
*I did run stuff by the Mr, but largely he let me do what I wanted; SCORE!

First of all, then is the Hen Do. Held in Drink Shop Do, it was a lovely sedate couple of hours of embroidering pants, drinking cocktails and having afternoon tea.


 The food was excellent – super tasty food and drink all round really:


 I also made some party bags for all the guests, which included name badges, bathbombs, sweeties and home made cookies (that I took a day off work specifically to ice).
My best buddies Becky, Lisa and Serife had also added lots of special touches without me knowing – Lisa made name rosettes, Serife made a ‘bride to be’ sash and Becky made a scrapbook that included some unflattering pictures of me as a child, and some of me looking slightly more glamorous when I got a bit older.

As for the wedding, I shan’t go on about it other than to say it was an excellent day. It was great to have everyone we love in the same room, to catch up with old friends and make new ones. And I was sober! I have no idea how that happened, but I was just so nervous it barely crossed my mind.

My dress was not made by me – I just couldn’t deal with that level of stress! – but I bought it from an EXCELLENT Etsy seller called Lace Mary. She is amazing and the service was incredible.

The flower in my hair came from LovelyFlowersField and the veil from BelledeBenoir.

The photos below are courtesy of Alex Abott Wedding Photography. I honestly cannot recommend Alex highly enough – for two people who hate having their photo taken, we really were put at ease and all the shots he took are brilliant.

Last but not least, a wonderful cake-topper made by TailorMadeToppers. It’s basically the best thing I’ve ever seen…

World Book Day – What reading means to me

Mab is Mab recently blogged about what books mean to her and it got me thinking. Today is World Book Day, which quite frankly is the Best Day. A whole day dedicated to books.

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t read. For me, reading was not only enjoyable but an escape from everyone else. I’ve never been particularly sociable, and neither is my family, so reading has always featured in life for me – I think we read to avoid each other! It makes me sound dull, but I found the games my school mates played futile and silly, and I could never really work out the rules and social nuances that to most are quite literally “child’s play”. So I used to sit on benches reading Nancy Drew books. At seven, all I wanted was to be Nancy Drew: I wanted a Ford Mustang, to be eighteen, to have people think I was clever enough to solve these ridiculous mysteries. I soon discovered Point Romance (my sister read Point Horror) and I still love the cheesy “boy-meets-girl, happily-ever-after” trope in films and books.

As the youngest, I desperately wanted to be taken seriously so I spent my pocket money on those £1 Penguin Classics you used to get: Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights. I tried Moby Dick but, as the lovely Mr put it years later, “it’s just not a very good book”.

My love of reading grew from not wanting anything to do with anyone, and I still use a book as a means to hide and an excuse to ignore everyone. I’m never without one – I went to a gig alone and sat in the bar reading Skagheads waiting for it to start, sat in traffic on the M25 reading Madame Bovary, whiled away hours on the train with The Goldfinch. I used to drive on nights out with my friends. Nightclubs are awful when you’re sober so, when I got bored of the music and the drunk revellers, I’d go to the loo and sit in a stall and read until it was time to go home. By the way, a book is a great way of making a clutch bag easier to carry.

But now, I also see the social side of books. I’ve been in book clubs and met top girl Liz when she started one in Greenhithe. I studied literature with the Open University. A chance sighting by the Lovely Mr’s friend of a book in my bag the first time I met him gave inspiration for conversation rather than awkward silence while the Mr got the drinks in.

And, it may sound twee, but with a book you are never truly alone. I’ve been on adventures with Huckleberry Finn, fallen in love with Greg from The Chocolate Run a thousand times, and cried so hard I hurt my neck at Black Beauty. Some books stay with you for life, which is more than can be said for people in real life.

Like Alice in Wonderland, I really do go down the rabbit hole with books and can’t stop myself reading. In my first job, I just had to finish a novel before I could do any work so sat in the loos to finish that final chapter before I could log on. The other week, I tripped up the steps reading my kindle on the way in to work because I just couldn’t put my book down.

This World Book Day, I will be rereading Pride and Prejudice. What will you be reading?

Book Review: Delicious!

I’ve never done a book review for my blog before, and it might seem a bit odd as it’s nothing to do with sewing either, but it is a very, very good book. I don’t imagine it’s something I’ll do often as I am voracious reader and get through at least two a week so reviewing might become tiresome for all! I often recommend books to people when they ask, but reviewing isn’t something I’ve thought I’ve doing but, it’s been a week and a half and two whole books since and I still can’t stop thinking about this story.

To be honest, I read this entire book thinking that it actually happened, that it was a non-fiction account of Billie’s adventures through taste, history and, for want of a better term, “finding herself”. I won’t give too much away about the plot, but it really is a riot for the senses, I cried on the bus and I was so disappointed to find the last page. Especially when I found out it was a novel. Oh how I wished that Billie and Mr Complainer and Sal were real, that there really was a Timber Mansion with secret rooms and mischievous librarians leaving a treasure trail, that I could eat Teresa’s homemade mozzarella, taste the salamis that adorn Sal’s deli.

There’s a gingerbread that features heavily in the novel, and there’s even a recipe for it at the end. I’ve not tried it yet, but anything that involves bashing your own spices in a pestle and mortar gets my vote.

It is the brilliant writing of this novel that brings it to life, that makes you think that you really are friends with Billie, that she’s taking you on her journey. And made me think she was real. Personally, I find taste difficult to describe, and I can’t imagine being able to isolate flavours like she does; so writing about it must be quite tricky. Like if you feel music, or trying to describe what a ‘gut feeling’ feels like.

I gave this book five stars. I never do that. I hope that, if you choose to read this, you’ll agree.

And for sewing fans, the sewing posts will resume shortly. It’s just that my sewing is currently top secret. And there’ll be some craft and goodie related posts coming soon, too, so set yourself up with a good book (see above) and check back soon for pretty crafts and homemade frocks. I’m off to Google Candelabras. Don’t ask…

Finding Inspiration: Granny Square Blanket

Ooh, I’m excited! I spent quite a bit of time last night enthusiastically and madly pinning all manner of wonderful ideas to my latest Pinterest board – The Granny Square Blanket. I’ve been toying with the idea of a Granny Square blanket for a long time but was inspired by a pattern I saw in issue 48of Mollie Makes magazine and I’ve been musing ever since.

But what even is a Granny Square I hear you cry? And, moreover, why, in the name of all that is holy, is it called a Granny Square? Well, my dear friends, I have some answers. A Granny Square is a square (duh) made of crocheted yarn that starts in the middle and works out and can, as you will see if you patiently read this post, into all MANNER of wonderful motifs, from very simple to the downright wacky. Why is it called a Granny Square? Damned if I know. Probably because who else has the time to sit around crocheting squares? Seriously though, if you know, please let me know in the comments below. Every day is, after all, a school day.

So, the learning bit out of the way, let’s look at some pictures. As I mentioned, I got a bit excited when I was doing my pinning yesterday. Some of my pictures were of beautiful, grown-up, muted palettes, like this:

Sunburst Granny Squares Blanket: free pattern
Picture from Ravelry

Some were more complex variations of this grown up style using different sized squares:

I am saving this for the idea of using different size granny squares in a blanket. This of course, could be any color combo of 4 of your choosing.

Then, things got out of hand. Sunflower Granny Square? Er, yes please!

How about an owl? An owl?! In frigging crotchet?! To go on a blanket?! Of-bloody-course!

Owl Granny Square Crochet Pattern

Then, there’s this rather tasteful Cath Kitson-esque one, which after seeing the wonderful owls might be a bit of let down.

I urge you to look at the rest of the board, and I’m sure you won’t be able to resist making an owl granny square. Even if it’s only the one to put in a lovely grown-up blanket… There’s also an absolutely magic Tetris one. Absolute genius.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, and I’m looking forward to sharing my progress, just as soon as I’ve decided on my theme.

Shop Review – Fabric Land

There is such a wealth of excellent fabric shops online now, and they cater for all budgets. I’ve been hunting for a crepe de chine for a pretty party dress for a while now and, having discovered that you can get some very beautiful Liberty crepe de chine for an eye-watering £49.99 per metre, I decided to look elsewhere, just so that I didn’t have to remortgage the house to wear a pretty frock.

After googling “crepe de chine” I stumbled across Fabric Land. After my eyes became accustomed to what is possibly one of the worst bits of web design ever, it’s an absolute treasure chest of excellent and cheap fabrics.

After some perusal, I settled on ‘Morning Glory’ at a much more affordable £3.99 per metre.

They also have a really good range of linings and interfacings, which I also made use of!

You can’t order online, but you can order by phone or by email. I wrote down what I wanted because they were closed by the time I’d finally made my choice and took the post-it with me when I left for work the following day. I had to travel down to the London office so, having arrived much too early for the train, I decided to give them a call. After reeling off my order, we then had the nightmare of address and payment details while the train announcement lady went mad with her announcements, and then the train announcement man kept telling people not to skateboard in the station. So I was not surprised when the parcel arrived incorrectly addressed (thank heavens we got the house number and postcode right!)

I was really pleased with how quickly my fabric arrived – I ordered on Thursday morning and our friendly post lady knocked first thing on Saturday morning. So I’ve been spending the weekend making a party dress, but you’ll have to wait a while for that post.

What shops do you like to use for your online fabric shopping?

Stationery Lovers Christmas Swap

I never thought I would, but I have fully embraced the world of social media. Particularly after the summer’s Northern Sewing Meet-Up, I am definitely ringing all the bells to herald The Internet. Even if I still don’t know what html is.
So, imagine my delight when I heard through Twitter (of course) that there was a Sewing Secret Santa AND a Stationery Lovers’ Christmas Swap. I joined both, of course, and set to work researching my partners for each.
Obviously, I’m quite late in blogging about Christmas generally but, I got round to it eventually (it was lovely, I stayed in with the Mister, I had two weeks off).
I’ll blog on the Sewing Secret Santa another day (the pictures are on my old phone and I can’t find the lead to get them off. It’s been two weeks…) but for today, here is what santa brought for me from the delicious world of paper:

mini picture cards, ‘don’t forget’ stickies with a little fox, pen and pencil, pretty greetings card, tree document markers, squirrel notebook

I’m not sure where any of it comes from, but it is all totally beautiful. I particularly love the squirrel notebook as it reminds me of my walks around St James Park when I worked in London. And this little card is good for reminding me that it won’t always be this cold!

I had a small issue with this swap, in that my partner didn’t swap anything. Or, if she did, it didn’t arrive and she didn’t reply to my email checking she’d got mine ok (post was horrific this Christmas). But Emma from mabismab kindly sent me this to compensate, and so that I could still join in. Hoorah!
Overall, I definitely recommend getting involved in these present swaps. Who knows what treasures you’ll find? And, if you spent Christmas buying people boring presents (my dad asked for extension leads), buying things you love but for someone else is even better than buying things you have no interest in, even if the other person loves it.

Tilly Francoise Dress

Well, well, well; it has finally happened. A dress I’ve made that I actually really do properly love! And it fits as well.
Tilly & The Buttons has done it again, a deceptively simple dress that will flatter almost everyone and, for those who made the Tilly Coco as well, a chance to make a more tailored dress and try and some new techniques. Although I’ve been sewing for a long time, I’ve never done darts like this before and this is a first for self-covering buttons (I love it, I could do it all day).
I had a couple of issues:
1) I thought I’d melted the zip with the iron when I went to try it on the other day. Luckily, after trying it again today before I took it out and replaced it, it was probably just getting caught in Monday’s thermal vest.
2) I have a job reaching for the zip to get it all the way to the top. With the Mister in London during the week, let’s hope this doesn’t lead to a Phoebe from Friends incident.
3) I have come so close to matching the pattern on the back.
4) I need a couple of little darts at the neck line to take the fullness out of the shoulders.
5) My front facing won’t lie flat.
But all in all, I love this dress. Look at that beautiful tab!
I’ll definitely be making many more of these dresses – it’ll become a wardrobe staple I’m sure.
A note on the fabric – it comes from B&M Fabrics in Kirkgate Markets. It is kind of a twill weave tartan and it doesn’t get stuck to tights. Warm and practical: double win.
What would you use to sew a Francoise?

Judy’s Vintage Fair…in LEEDS!

I have moved house! Twice, actually, since my last post August. I now, very much permanently, live in Leeds. And I love it.
Although I’ve been a number of times before (obviously) I’m really enjoying exploring the city, our new village and the surrounding area. Today has been no exception and we went to Judy’s Vintage Fair at the Corn Exchange. I’ve been to these fairs before in Spitalfields in London, and to be fair, it’s much the same – vintage clothes and accessories and vintage style clothes and accessories. I bought some vintage-style sunglasses for £5, even though the Lovely Mister said they were too big for my head (he thinks everything is too big for my head, mostly because I have a small head).

The Fair was also a perfect excuse to use my new bag! I made this!

Not the tote bag, actually; I bought that and all the ingredients to make this and some other projects from this month’s Mollie Makes magazine from Cloud Crafts. I’ve only just discovered this supplier and I shall definitely be using them again – my parcel arrived super quickly, and it is an absolute treasure trove of goodies for all kinds of crafts.

Lunch was courtesy of Crowd of Favours, my favourite place to eat in the centre (we’ve been there twice already and we’ve been here six weeks) and had burns night food (game pie for me!) and a shot of Laphroaig (which I obviously pointed to on the menu). Usually, I like a bourbon but this was super tasty – smokey AND peaty. I even had it without a mixer, which pleased the Mister no end (I once poured Co-Op own brand coke at 79p for 2 litres into a thirty year old Jura. I thought he was about to have a stroke).
Things are still pretty busy for me, but it’s so good to be out doing things and making stuff again. I really missed it!

Foxy Frock Part 1

I swear, I need to get less busy. Surely, it shouldn’t be a treat to sit down?! I’ve finally managed to squeeze in a little bit of sewing. It’s taken me many weeks to get to this point, but today, I sewed the Clemence skirt to the Lilou bodice to make a jolly good start on my first Tilly & The Buttons ‘Love at First Stitch’ project.
So, I traced off my pattern (good little me), failed to make a muslin (the bodice darts are off as a result – bad little me) and started pinning the bodice pieces to that lovely fox fabric I bought at Leeds market on the Northern Meet Up I went on a few weeks ago. Then this happened:

Yes, the pattern is too wide for the fabric and there is not enough fabric to split into panels. I’m not going to lie, my teddies did get thrown from the pram – I really wanted to do a pleated skirt! – but then I got a grip, got my ruler and drafting paper and made the pattern for the Clemence skirt.

Soon, I had all my pattern pieces, used the tiny bit left over to cut the bow belt pattern and some pockets and barely had enough fabric. Very pleasing! I finally managed to get it all cut out, sewed the bodice, realised I had slight bagginess on the side front boob area, but it’s not too bad and I’ll do a bit more…adjusting before I sew the lining to the bodice. I really should make a muslin!
The mister went out tonight, despite his horrible cold, so I had a guilt-free evening of sewing. The skirt is now sewn to the bodice, I put it on me and I LOVE it! I can’t wait to finish the wee little thing. Despite how keen I am to get it done, I did not fancy inserting an invisible zip when I’m a bit tired. So I’ve got some sewing to look forward to.
Also, I’ve decided to make generic petticoats for my frocks. It’ll save money on lining, and time too! So once I’ve got a little slip for under this one, I can wear it without fear of it getting caught on my tights and riding up.
I’ve got the love back :-)