26 Jun 2017

Me Made May 2017

Last month I took part in Me Made May over on Instagram - a pledge to wear at least one handmade item everyday in May. I had attempted to join in last year but quickly realised I had not made enough items. This year though, I did it! Okay, yes, I did double up a few times and I've counted two handmade items not made by me but, to be honest, this just highlighted two things I already know and want to change about my handmade wardrobe.

Lessons learned:
1. I do not have enough basics (particularly jersey knit tees!)
This is partly because I've not really got the hang of sewing with knit fabric. To date, I have made two Grainline studio Lark tees and a self-drafted pencil skirt, all of which I like, but they're not my best bits of sewing by a long way. Cotton is just so easy to work with and comes in so many amazing prints, I'm like a moth to the flame! Plus, I don't own an overlocker (nor have I ever used one) which means the finish on the knit items isn't great. I definitely want to try a few more jersey knit patterns, Colette's Moneta seems like a good bet.

2. I'm lacking cooler weather options
So it turns out mine is handmade wardrobe made with fine weather in mind (which is pretty funny given that I live in England where even summer is not guaranteed). About 80% of my stuff is suited for warm weather which, on reflection, makes a lot of sense; I tend to spend the autumn and winter months crocheting or knitting, and spring/summer is my sewing time. It's a crazy craft timetable which left me slightly screwed at the beginning of May when the weather was decidedly autumnal in London, and I quickly ran out of weather appropriate handmade items to wear! Luckily, there's lots of great patterns out there that are perfect for layering in cooler weather (Tilly and the Button's Cleo dress and Grainline studio 's Farrow dress to name a couple).

Most worn pattern: See Kate Sew's Zippy Top - I now have 6, plus I wore two of them twice - so yeah, my Me Made May would've been buggered without the Zippy Top.

Newest pattern: Style Arc's Blaire shirt. I love shirts but up until last month I'd never tried making one (mostly because they looked too complicated - collar, button holes - yeesh). I spotted lots of lovely Blaires on instagram - such a great boxy shape - and thought I'd be a great pattern to ease me into shirt making. Turned out that I couldn't have been more wrong! The succinct instructions (seriously, I've written more detailed shopping lists) were baffling. Luckily, some sewing bloggers had encountered the same problem and written some helpful tips on constructing Blaire. One blogger also pointed out that the Blaire shirt was not the best pattern to attempt if you'd never made a shirt before - I'm with her on that! Once I had the collar and collar stand under control, the rest was fairly straightforward; struggles aside I really do love this pattern. So much so that I started making a second shirt straight after I finished the first, and they're now both in heavy rotation in my wardrobe. I even plan on having a go at the dress version this week :) I've got my eye on a couple of other shirt patterns too - ByHandLondon's Sarah shirt and the Alder shirt dress by Grainline studio.

Aside from the challenge itself, Me Made May was also an excellent opportunity to connect with the wider sewing community. I've certainly started following a few new accounts on Instagram and the wealth of inspiration out there, all thanks to that one little hashtag, is crazy! People make some truly awesome things, my 'to make' list has grown exponentially! Seeing what people are able to achieve, making (what seem to me) difficult items - coats, bras, swimming costumes - gives me hope that, one day, I won't want for anything and that I'll be able to attempt such things myself. Grand plans coming from someone who struggles with jersey knit fabric but hey, 4 years ago I couldn't sew at all, all it takes is practice, time and patience :)


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2 Jun 2017

I ❤ manchester

At 6:15 am on Tuesday morning, I found myself on a train to Manchester for a work event (namely, the UK Space Conference). Although I spent the majority of my time in Manchester Central convention centre, I did manage to get to see some of this brilliant city in the evenings. Two things stood out: firstly, the excellent food and drink options. The first night we descended upon the curry mile (surprisingly enough) for delicious curry at Mughli; and on the Wednesday night we spent four hours in the awesome Albert Schloss - home of beer, bratwurst and Baby Grand Slam (1 stage, 2 pianos, endless requests).

The second stand out thing about Manchester is it's spirit and I'm not just referring to the city coming together in the aftermath of the horrific events last Monday (although I did go to see the hundreds of flowers laid out in St Anne's square in rememberance of the victims of the bomb attack - it was very moving and heart-achingly sad). Perhaps because it is smaller than London, there really did feel like a community spirit in the city, all the people I encountered were so friendly and helpful, the vibe is effortlessly cool and positive.

I had been to Manchester for another work trip two years ago where I managed to see the stunning John Rylands library and a wander around Afflecks. This visit has only confirmed what I felt the last time: this is one cool city, I need to come back :)








22 Mar 2017

six


 Reading: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. I'm only 13% in but so far so good. It reminds me of a cross between DS9, The Expanse and a teeny bit of Firefly...

 Watching: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (I am obsessed); Iron Fist (meh, not as good as Daredevil but it's held my attention as much as Luke Cage); Abstract (Netflix documentary series where each episode focuses on one particular creative individual - we've had an illustrator, set designer, architect, shoe designer and typographer); Taboo (gritty, grim and kinda creepy period drama starring Tom Hardy and his trademark beautiful face, mumbled lines and weird accent - good though). 

★ Eating: ALL the vegetables. I'm still not really eating meat (unless a friend is cooking me dinner) all thanks to the great food poisoning incident in Deal.


★ Drinking: ALL the tea (with ALL the biscuits)

★ Making: A second Tilly & The Buttons Fran├žois Dress. I'm rather chuffed at how my first one came out (pics soon), it really is a lovely pattern.


 Wearing: Shirts! On their own, with my pinafore dress, under jumpers - layers are the key in this transitional (not to mention changeable) March weather. 

Horrified by: My new passport photos, good god are they awful. It's amazing what not-smiling can do to your face, I honestly look about 10 years older! Vanity issues aside, yay, new passport!

★ Looking forward to: Said new passport as I really need to book some holiday when it arrives. In the more immediate future, I'm very much looking forward to a weekend away in the New Forest. 

★ Musing: Today marks six years since I started this blog. Six! Granted, it's been rather quiet on here for the last couple of years but my plan to write something at least once a month seems to be working. I say it at every anniversary but I love the fact that I have six years worth of memories here, so much has happened in that time and the blog captures a unique little part of it. As ever, I am (pleasantly) surprised that I've managed to start something and not abandon it, this blog is in fact testament that I can start a project and see it though - it's probably the only thing but whatevs. Here's to the next six eh?! 

14 Mar 2017

a weekend in Deal










Seven of us spent the last weekend of February in the very pretty seaside town of Deal. As always, it was SO good to get out of London - I'd not left the city for more than one night since October(!) - needless to say, a few days by the sea was desperately needed.

We arrived at our lovely Airbnb on the Friday evening, had some of the most delicious seafood in this restaurant, before finishing the night in an excellent boozer not 5 minutes from our accommodation. Saturday was mostly spent walking 23km on and around the white cliffs, the views were pretty sweet. We stopped for tea (and a gigantic slice of victoria sponge cake) at the half way point in St Margarets at Cliffe (it's rather cute there too).

As with all our walking weekends away, Saturday night is dedicated to having some well deserved pints and pub grub but unfortunately,on this trip, this is where it all went wrong. Rather than a pub we ended up going to a resturant which gave us food poisoning. We'd planned to spend Sunday getting fish and chips and taking a stroll on Deal pier but this was abandoned as my friend and I were sick as dogs and just wanted to be in our own homes (close to our own loos). Food poisoning really is the worst. I'm gutted that the weekend got cut short, I really liked what I saw of Deal (apart from that one restaurant) and hope, one day, to go back, for the pier, the castle and those fish'n'chips.

10 Feb 2017

three-oh!


I am 30.

I am 30 and it feels fan-bloody-tastic!

To celebrate this magnificent feat of aging I did several excellent things:

1. My work colleagues surprised me with prosseco, cake and an awesome gift (astronomical binoculars!!!). They are the best.

2. I hired out the 70s room at the Jam Circus in Brockley and a load of my friends came to booze the evening away with me.

3. A lovely dinner with my parents and sis in Richmond.

4. For my actual birthday, Mitch treated me to what was, essentially, a perfect day: breakfast, a visit to the wildlife photographer of the year exhibition at the Natural History Museum, followed by cinema (La La Land - loved it) and a v.lush dinner.

So yeah, here's to 30. Time flies when you're having fun, especially when you have the best husband, friends and family ever (and a tiara and handmade William Morris dress to celebrate in). ❤

20 Jan 2017

2016: in review

Back in January I made a vague list of ideas to keep in mind for the year. I've been attempting to write a review of 2016 based on that vague list for the past 15 days (15 days people!), so instead I'm going to ignore that list and write what I like.

Although lots of shit things happened in the world in 2016 (brexit still hurts, watching Charlie Brooker's 2016wipe gave me heart ache about it all over again) it was also the year that Mitch and I moved into our new home which was (and continues to be) the best thing everrrrr. We've hosted dinners and a christmas party, had our parents over for lunch and friends for tea, but actually the best thing about it is lounging around in our pjs watching netflix at weekends. Because. We. Can. 2016 has also been the year that we got stuck right into Peckham - the pubs, the restaurants, the library, burgess park and the community garden (FYI, I bloody love l living here).

It was an excellent year for travel, both around the country - weekends in Brighton, the Brecon Beacons, Edinburgh and the Peak District - as well as a couple of trips abroad - four days in Helsinki and a glorious week in Sicilly.

2016 saw me get my craft on, particularly in the dressmaking department. I made more clothes this year than any other (10(!) In case you were wondering, 5 dresses and 5 tops). I think I'm most pleased with the two recent dresses (the tartan one and the William Morris print dress) although it's the good old zippy tees that got the most wear over the summer. Aside from the dressmaking, I got back into crochet, quilting and (right at the very end) knitting. Yes, all in all, a very productive year.

In other news 2016 brought a new hobby (bee-keeping), a new job (hello astronomy!) and the start of something I've been meaning to do for over 10 years: learn to drive.

As well as the tragic national and international events that took place in 2016, there was also some sad news closer to home; in November, my granddad passed away. He was 92 and had had a full and exciting life, although things hadn't been the same since his wife Nancy, my nana, died two years ago. His passing meant that my dad and his brother had the emotional job of going through all my grandparents things in order to clear their house. I've inherited a few choice items: my granddad's giant spoon (carved with the accolade: World's Biggest Stirrer), a couple of my nana's cook books as well as a handful of the old games my sister and I used to play when we went to stay with them. I have great memories of granddad - going to Great Yarmouth and sitting in a deck-chair refusing to take his shoes and socks off, wearing a knotted handkerchief on his head; showing me how he took cuttings to grow all his tomato plants; his shed full to bursting with every kind of 'handy man's' kit you can imagine; his laugh (watching Norman Wisdom or Tommy Cooper); the bowl of sweets he always kept by his chair (humbugs, worther's originals, fox's mints); his most over-used word: "saff" to be used in most contexts, "saff me" being my favourite. The last time I saw him, he was smiling, I was telling him about the delicious Horlicks-flavoured icecream I'd tried recently (he loved Horlicks, it's all he would drink at the end) and that's how I'll always remember him, smiling a big toothy/gummy smile very similar to my own.

Yes, a year of ups and downs, and I'll bet that 2017 won't be plain sailing either. Given the national and international events of last year, 2017 will mean more change, change that will hopefully inspire action and pull people together rather than drive us further apart.

In my own little world, I have a feeling that 2017 will be big year - my 30th is in a couple of weeks, I'll hopefully pass my driving test (fingers crossed) and we have some rather ambitious travel plans (everything crossed!). Saying that, I actually keep coming back to a 'less is more' mantra for 2017. Inspired by multitude of documentaries on Netflix (thank you The Minimalists) and my friend who recently moved into a new flat and ALL her belongings fitted into a taxi, I am ready to recycle/give away/sell some of my things, as well as give serious thought about what I do decide to bring into our flat. The bottom line is, I need to stop buying stuff, particularly stuff I don't need, I want to have a proper go at making things myself or better yet, doing without it, we shall see...

A very belated, but no less genuine, happy new year to you all :)

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