Sunday, 24 February 2013

Wall Tidy Dilemma!

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

With the weather lingering at freezing temperatures I could not face going out so I thought I would make a much needed wall tidy. In my bedroom I have a shelf which is crammed full of hair products, hair brushes, hair grips - basically the hair offering from Boots on a shelf that is about a a foot long by a quarter foot wide. This drives both my husbandy and I nuts so thought a wall tidy would do the trick.

Tools for the job
So with a fabric delivery of a whole host of yummy material on Friday  I selected one to be the background (being green with cream spots) and popped to Ray Stitch (love this shop) to get a half a metre of plain cream  cotton to be the pockets. With all the ingredients ready I was good to get stitching.

I didn't follow any pattern.... I just measured where I wanted it to go (being 12inch x 25inch) and added an extra couple of inches and cut the spotty fabric. The reason I added the inches is because you will need to hem and mitre the fabric and as I've learnt by doing corners this way it will use more fabric. I decided I needed one large pocket at the top for my hairbrushes and a smaller one for my grips and bits. I measured the cream fabric to 10inch x 14inch for the large pocket and 10inch x 9 inch for the smaller one.

I hemmed and mitred all three pieces of fabric (check out my blog Mitered Corners and Headscarf Success! to show how this is done) and then went to pin the pockets onto the fabric. This is when my idea went wrong.... I had made the pockets too big and could not work out how to attach them. This is really hard to explain but tip: always research what you are going to make! I have only been stitching for two months and although I was pleased I felt confident enough to venture forth on my own, I was sadly mistaken and my stitching heaven soon turned into an unpicking hell. I just could not fathom out how to do this so I went onto 'You Tube' and searched 'wall tidy sewing'. After a couple of attempts of following other tutorials I stumbled across one by Sewing Republic called 'Closet Organizer' (link below):

This link basically saved my bacon and after a few minor alterations to the pocket pieces, I pinned the pocket fabric onto the backing piece and sewed together to make my finished wall tidy! All I need to do now is purchase the Prym eyelets and washers plus a couple of suction hooks and this little beauty will be good to go!

Finished wall tidy
All in all I have learnt a few lessons today. I never realised I had so much patience and my new journey of sewing is finding out new things about me. I wonder what other talents and traits it will unearth....

Hint and tips

  • Equipment: Iron, cutting board, metal ruler, rotary cutter, fabric scissors, tape measure, fabric, pins, tailors chalk, thread and a sewing machine
  • Sewing pattern or tutorial - this will save you a lot of stress - especially as you are new to the sewing world. I will not venture forth without one again - or definitely not in the near future
  • Patience - Again, I mention this every time but as I'm setting out on this adventure I can't stress it enough!
  • When doing mitred corners don't forget to make your project slightly larger to allow for the  hem.
Enjoy and take your time!

Happy Stitching x

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Hair Rats and Faux Bangs

Howdy Ladies and Gents,

Suicide roll
A few of you lovely people have been asking how I do my faux bang so thought I would share my hints and tips with you all.

I have been trying to do a faux bang for ages and always with little success. It ended up all messy and notty so I used to give up and put a roller or a suicide roll in the front - see piccies. Now, I kept thinking to myself that this is lazy so I treated myself to an evening at Rockalily Cuts. Rockalily Cuts holds a 'Retro Hair Styling Workshop' - so I had to attend! ReeRee and Pippa show you all sorts of different vintage hair styles -it's a perfect way to spend an evening talking hair and making some new friends! To my delight one of the styles was a faux bang. The lovely ladies showed us two methods to create the perfect faux bang: a) oh natural with back combing, pins and patience; and 2) a hair rat. As my hair is fine and quite long a hair rat is a definite must have!
Now hair rats come in different shapes and styles ranging from the traditional ones (which basically means stuffing an old stocking with hair from your hair brush) to cutting a ring doughnut in half (not a real one - that would be messy and a waste!). The hair rat I use is a ring doughnut cut in half and then tweaked until the perfect size is achieved. Tip: always make a rat nearest your hair colour. For me, by using a hair rat it helps secure my hair and gives me the security that the bang will last all day.
So with the confidence and tips gained from the retro hair workshop I will share with you how I have perfected the technique (NB: my hair is fine with the fringe being down to my mouth):
    Snap Shots!

  1. You will need: rollers, a hair rat, hair grips, hair clips and hair spray (headscarf optional)
  2. Wash your hair as you would and then side part on both sides and to the crown of the hair - piccie (1). (I actually thinks it works better on dirty hair and this tutorial is done on three day unwashed hair). 
  3. Tie back the rest of your hair so it's out the way and put in your rollers. I split this section of hair in the middle and put six rollers in - piccie (2).
  4. Leave this is as long as possible - preferably over night.
  5. When ready, take out the rollers and your hair will be all curly - piccie (3).
  6. Take a round brush and brush through - piccie (4).
  7. Take your hair rat and curl the hair over your hair rat and roll towards your forehead - piccie (5).
  8. Insert bobby pins to the side - remembering your faux bang should 'smile' and now 'frown'. As I always where my faux bang with a headscarf it does not bother me how messy the top gets as it is covered. If you want to wear it with a pony tail this part will need to be neat (or however you prefer).
  9. Spread the hair (as it should be mostly in the centre of the hair rat) so it covers the hair rat - piccie (6).
  10. Now I put lots of hairspray on mine as I like it rock solid. You can use a pomade to make it shiny - again this is personal preference.
  11. Now if you intend to wear this in a headscarf you will need to tie back your hair. I think a pony tail to hold the headscarf in place does not work so I grip mine.
  12. Tie the headscarf hiding the hair clips and the messy bit on top and ta-dah you're done!
Faux Bang Success
I would say the biggest tip I can give you is confidence and practice! I'm so glad I went to the Rockalily Cuts evening as it gave me the tricks of the hair trade to do it plus by adding my own twist the bang works 99% of the time! 

Happy Faux Banging x
P.S. You'll be pleased to know I have bought the cord for my Mother's Day wash bag and it is now complete. I just need to wrap and post it. Byeeeeee.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Mother's Day Wash Bag

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

With Mothering Sunday fast approaching I thought I better pull out my stitching fingers and make her a wash bag (as mentioned in a previous post). So without delay I started the hunt for a good tutorial. I simply googled 'sewing wash bag' and lots of great tutorials came up. Again I searched for one that would be slightly challenging and decided on this one by Handmade Jane: Kid's Wash Bag Tutorial

Although it said 'kid's' I knew the pattern size could be easily changed so all I needed to do now was search for some yummy fabric.

I decided to look for fabric that is nautical - well it is a wash bag after all. I headed straight over to my favourite fabric website Fabric Rehab and looked at their wonderful designs under the 'Nautical and Nice' section. In the end it came down to two - Coastal Houses Blue or Coastal Shells. It was a close call but I chose the Coastal Houses Blue because the pattern reminds me of a quaint coastal town in Cornwall, like St Ives, with all the lovely cottages and lighthouses all jostling for position - love it. Also as the wash bag required a waterproof lining (see link in tutorial for this as I sourced it from the same place) the best colour match I could get was for the Coastal Houses Blue. Here is a piccie of the fabulous fabric below:

Coastal Houses Blue Fabric
I patiently waited for the fabrics to arrive and as soon as it did I got stitching! Now, like the other posts, I won't go into detail on how to make the wash bag as this is clearly explained in the tutorial above. What I will do is help aid those who are beginners (like me) and to say how I overcame my hiccups. Below are the tools - plus my sewing machine - I will need for this exciting project.

The Essentials
I took my gorgeous fabric and measured it to 42cm long x 37cm wide. Now, this was my first challenge - to make sure that the fabric was cut straight and all the same size. I used my cutting board, rotary cutter, ruler, tape measure and chalk and got measuring up. I found this doubly hard as I don't have a wide surface, but please do not attempt this on the floor! I tried and it turned out to be a disaster so I took all my tools to the kitchen and used the side board where I had a lot more success. My cutting board has lines across it so provides a good guide to help cut the edges straight. After a lot of patience I cut the fabric the same size. Tip: Cut the fabric about one to two centimetres bigger just in case the lines aren't straight. This will allow you enough leeway so can make any alterations if necessary.

I aligned the fabrics and pinned the wrong side of the cotton fabric to the wrong side of the waterproof fabric together. I then pinned the right sides of the waterproof fabric together so that the right side of the cotton fabric was on the outside. Tip: Remember to remove any pins you do not want. It is hard to explain, but when you pin the cotton and the waterproof fabric and then pin these pieces together you will know what I mean! I followed the tutorial to the was challenging but I enjoyed it! Again, I forgot to check my bobbin and thankfully it ran out when I had done around the edges but it could have been a disaster! Tip: Check your bobbin before sewing!

After cutting my fabric, it took me about 90 minutes to make the wash bag. I enjoyed running the fabric through the sewing machine and watching the pieces of fabric merge together to make a fancy finished item. All I have left to do is buy the cord and thread it through the whole that runs around the top (this maybe a trip to town next weekend - any excuse!). I am so pleased with this little wash bag and I know my mother-in-law will be too.

The Finished Wash Bag
Hint and tips
  • Equipment: Iron, cutting board, metal ruler, rotary cutter, fabric scissors, tape measure, fabric, pins, tailors chalk, thread and a sewing machine
  • Patience - Again, I mention this every time but as I'm setting out on this adventure I can't stress it enough!
  • Check the bobbin for thread - I was lucky this time, but do check it - especially stitching large amounts of fabric
  • Do not cut the fabric on the floor. Use a table, kitchen side, anything that would can look over.
  • When cutting fabric the same size I would recommend you cut the fabric a couple of centimetres larger just in case the fabric is cut wonky - you can always trim it down
  • Remove any excess pins as you go or they may end up inside your wash bag - ouch!

Enjoy and take your time!

Happy Stitching x

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Eyebrows... the Vintage Way

Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen...

Way back in the early noughties I graduated from university. I couldn't wait to get my photos of the graduation day. When they came through the post I took one glance and almost died as I never had realised how bad my eyebrows were. They were like two privet hedges perched on my forehead. For some reason this photo captured them in all their hairy glory and at once I had to attack them with a Flymo. Since moving to London eyebrow maintenance has been much easier as there are plenty of places that do brow-maintenance and my preferred method is threading. I actually find threading almost relaxing. Threading is by far the best way to remove those pesky hairs - it removes all the fine ones and gives you a great shape... that is if you don't want anything other than a standard TOWIE. Since following the alternative look I have asked numerous different threading beauticians to do the 1950s arched eyebrow.... but to my disappointment all have said "no".

Recently I found out that Lipstick & Curls were doing a Vintage Mini Makeover over at What Katie Did in Notting Hill. Lipstick & Curls specialises in vintage hair and make-up and they featured in lots magazines, worked with a number of different vintage clothing brands and have worked with celebrities including the late great Amy Winehouse. I read what delicious treatments were on offer and to my delight I noticed 'Brow Grooming Session, Pluck, Shape and Style!' on the list. This could be just the ticket for the style I've been after for ages so I made an appointment and allowed the little buggers to grow like a meadow.

Eventually the time of my appointment came which was handy as I had the Amazon Rain-forest growing on my brow. I got ready in usual fashion, applied make-up but held back on the eyebrows. It's surprising how much eyebrows finish off your face and I did feel a little naked when I left the flat. Here is a picture before (this is approximately eight weeks growth):


For those that don't know I thought I'd better let you know a bit about What Katie Did. What Katie Did is a faux vintage lingerie and hosiery boutique located at the north end of Portobello Road, Notting Hill. WKD offer the most gorgeous selection of underwear ranging from bullet bras to waist cinchers to stockings. They also sell Besame cosmetics and Bernie Dexter pieces (I was lucky enough to receive the Bernie Dexter Scarlett Poppy dress at Christmas). WKD is one of London's retail gems tucked away in a discrete location under the Westway and in my opinion independents like WKD make London... well... London. In the past twelve months I've bought some gorgeous lingerie and the best stockings and hold ups and it's a real pleasure to shop there. The girls are always friendly and helpful (and stunning). On this occasion Katie herself was there and it was a real pleasure to meet the lady who is the inspiration for the lingerie and hosiery.

As I was there I tried on a few things and of course I was itching to buy but January/February are not good months for my bank balance. So I finished my cuppa and got myself ready for preening. I was greeted by Amanda from Lipstick & Curls. She sat me down and started plucking my eyebrows... I felt a bit sorry for her as they were very untidy but she charged on and after 15 minutes the job was done! Verdict...... WOW! Amanda had given me the perfect eyebrows, she had finally given me the look I have been after for ages!

I'd like to say a massive thank you to Amanda of Lipstick & Curls and to all at What Katie Did for a wonderful morning. Please, please, please get together again, I will be first to book. 

Happy Eyebrows!x


Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Rockalily Cuts and Pink Flashes!

Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen,

A subject that always has been close to my heart (or should I say my head) is my hair. Since being a teenager I have been obsessed with it - from the colour, to the cut to the style. I would describe my natural hair as dark blonde and fine and a bit volume-less. In my teenage years and still to this day, I'm always looking at products to help add volume to my hair starting with shampoos and conditioners and then styling products. One thing I have always loved is the excitement of the hairdresser experience. From the time I make the appointment I think about what to have done: short, bleached, red, trimmed, highlighted - I'm sure I bore everyone to tears talking about it! For a while now I've been going to Rockalily Cuts on Kingsland Road, E2. 

Rockalily Cuts, Hoxton

My latest visit was at the weekend; I booked it weeks ago and have been looking forward to it ever since. I showered, dressed, put headscarf on (to hide my dirty great rootz) and off I trotted. Transport links to the salon are super with the nearest overground station being Hoxton (and there's tons of local buses).

As soon as you grace Rockalily Cuts you see straight away its like no other salon you've been to before. It's totally unique and very special. Every effort has been made to make you feel relaxed and comfortable. There is real attention to detail in making the shop look and feel different to the norm; it's like no other salon you've been to. I was offered a nice homely cuppa (I've been offered Babycham before) while I waited for the gorgeous Lucie.

Roots 'r' us
Lucie (stylist and creator of hair magic) ushered me into her chair and told me to whip off (oo-err) my headscarf. I did and revealed some of the longest roots known to man. To put it in perspective they were longer than some motorways; but then I haven't been for 16.. that's right, SIXTEEN WEEKS! This is definitely too long and I will try my hardest to go at least every 10-12 weeks in future. Lucie went on the attack and began mixing the colour to banish the roots; then she applied enhancer and I sat there cooking away like a cupcake.

Enhancer added

Whilst the colour was doing its thing Lucie and I chatted about having a pink flash on the underside of my hair. Now I have been talking about this for months and months but when it comes to hair I'm a bit of a wuss. Sounds daft doesn't it? I have a tattoo of a half naked pin up girl on my leggy and I'm worried about a lil' splash of pink in my hair... so I thought funk it and decided to go for a candy-floss pink!

Pink flash

So after half an hour in the oven it was time for my hair to be washed. It was a wash combined with a lovely head massage... very relaxing. Lucie then parted my hair ready to add my pink flashes! As she was applying the dye to my locks I started to panic a bit because out of the bottle the dye looked more like lobster colour! As soon as it went on I wanted it off but Lucie and Emma were superstars and helped put my mind at rest reassuring me it would all sort itself out. Of course they were right and it was candyfloss pink perfection. I felt very embarrassed for my flip out but was over the moon that it had all gone to plan; sorry ladies, I should never have doubted you!

After the colouring Lucie then carried on with my haircut. I have the utmost respect for her, she is clearly very talented and before long I was sporting a new doo. She dried, curled and then styled my hair in to two perfect victory rolls...... ta-dah, I was complete. My hair was immaculate - creamy blonde, candyfloss pink flashes, perfect cut and styled to full vintage glory. 

Rockalily Cuts is a unique salon in East London - I don't think there is anywhere else quite like it. It is not just a hair salon, it is a place where you go to relax, make friends, chat and when you leave you are guaranteed a truly magnificent cut, colour and style. I actually look forward to my hair growing so you can go back again. I only found out about Rockalily Cuts by chance. I was on the train to Manchester last year and I got chatting to a girl who told me all about it. If we haven't started talking I may never have known about it. 

Thanks to Ree Ree, Lucie and the team for a great day...see you soon x

Vintage magic