Sunday, 30 June 2013

Quilting... the Rockabilly Stitch Way

Hello Ladies and Gents,

Well I thought I would update you on one of my stitching projects as it has been a while. A little while a go I shared with you I was starting a stitching project for a good friend and now it is successfully completed! For my birthday my good friend and sewing advisor bought me a sewing book called 'Cute and Easy Quilting and Stitching: 35 step-by-step projects for you and your home' by Charlotte Liddle. I browsed through the pages and found the perfect gift to make for my friend - a baby quilt. After reading the pattern I knew I could make it - especially as it seemed quite simple and you can customise it as much or as little as you want - perfect for me!

Option 1 - Template
So the first thing I did was raid the fabric stash that has been growing over recent months. I looked through what I had and decided that I had enough fabric to follow the pattern so I went for it. My fabric was all ready washed so the next thing I did was iron everything...this ensures the fabric is smooth and easy to manage. I then had to make 30 squares of 4"x4" in order to make the quilt element. Now to do this I started off by cutting out square templates out of paper (option 1), pinning them to the fabric and cutting around them. After a few attempts of this I was concerned the squares would not be even so I thought of another way (option 2) - to use a
Option 2 
metal ruler, a 
rotary cutter and the markings on my cutting board. This method made the squares more even, less fiddly and a lot quicker to do. I cut out 7 plain fabric, 5 spotty fabric and 18 flowery fabric (4 different flowery patterns). With the squares I went on to design the lay out the quilt. Once I was happy with it, I then started sewing with my faithful singer machine (not hand sewing I hear some of you cry!). One day I will hand sew a quilt but this pattern can be done either way but I really wanted to use my
Quilt Pattern
machine as I hadn't used it since I cleaned it and put a new needle in. On using the machine I couldn't believe what a difference it made, so top tip, do maintain your machine and change the needle frequently! My machine has only had light use but even I, a beginner, could tell the difference.

This is where I became lazy and in hindsight I should have done this a bit differently. Instead of pinning a row of squares together, I just took two squares and sewed them using the pressure foot as the guide. I did this for each square and ended up with five rows of six. A thing I'm not lazy about (which I'm sure my husbandy will disagree on) is ironing the fabric as you go. Once I had five rows of six squares I ironed the
The lazy way...
seam to make it lie flat and keep the material in shape. When joining the rows together I did pin the edges and again followed the pressure foot as the guide. With all rows now joined it was starting to look more like a quilt! Again don't forget to iron the seams open. The next trick was to cut out the boarders....

Pinning the boarders
Now this is when I had to use maths to solve my problem. The two shorter pieces were the same width as the length of the quilted pieces (5x4"=20). I cut out two pieces of 20"x2" in the plain fabric. I then cut the long side pieces which had to be the same length as the quilt, plus the boarder - the total measurement being 28".  I cut out two pieces of 28"x2" in flowery fabric. I pinned the shorter boarder to the quilt and sewed with the sewing machine. I then pinned the long boarder and again sewed this on.... I was very pleased with myself at this stage and was having loads of fun doing it! 

My quilt was almost complete and all I had to do was attach the backing piece. For this you use one piece of material in what ever design you like. Again, I used a floral design and cut the fabric 24"x28". I pinned the fabric (right sides facing) and stitched around the edge leaving a four inch gap at one end so the wadding can be inserted. Once stitched I turned the quilt inside out and ta dah... I was finished! And I truly was finished as there has been a change of plan since its original use. Once completed I wanted to show off my work so I put it over a little table we have. My husbandy saw it and loved it so much we now use it as a table cloth! So I best get cutting more squares and making another one for my friend as the baby is due very soon! It just shows how versatile this simple pattern is. Without the wadding it is not a table cloth and with the wadding it could be used as a quilt. Sewing is a great way to express yourself... take a pattern and put your own stamp on it... and you'll have loads of fun doing it!

Top tips:
  • Equipment: Fabric (30 x 4" squares, 2 x 20"x2", 2 x 28" x 2" and 1 x 28" x 24"), Cutting Mat, Rotary Cutters, Fabric Scissors, Pins, Iron, Ruler and Sewing Machine.
  • Use what ever fabric you like - it's your quilt!
  • Do pin the squares may seem tedious but you'll have a much neater outcome - trust me :)
  • Do maintain your machine and change the needle frequently! My machine has only had light use but even I, a beginner, could tell the difference.

Happy Quilting x

Thursday, 20 June 2013

'Coles Vintage Tea Rooms' ... another hidden gem in Rayleigh

'Anyone for tea?'
Greetings Ladies and Gents,

Today's blog is all about the delights of Rayleigh, Essex! I wrote a blog on Lindy Lou's (which is in Rayleigh) in March and I can't express how super this shop is. It sells primarily replica patterns for men and women from the 1940s along with some original vintage pieces. The great part about this shop is that there is no pressure to buy anything but I bet you don't leave empty handed! 

After our journey to Rayleigh we needed to re-fuel so we 
Decorative lamp shades
headed straight to Coles 
Vintage Tea Rooms. When we came to Rayleigh in March we saw this little cafe but decided to head home instead as it was so cold! This time we made sure we had plenty of time and went for a snack-let. On entering the cafe you are hit by the attention to detail. It's decorated like a 1940s tea-room with art-deco lights, old newspapers, vintage tea sets, bunting and even an art-deco bathroom! We sat down and ordered some lunch - I ordered ham, fried egg and bubble and squeak and husbandy ordered Cumberland sausage sandwich both with lashings of tea. 

Afternoon Cream Tea
The food arrived and we tucked in - I haven't had bubble and squeak for an age and it was divine - I even managed to grab a mouthful of sausage and it was scrumptious. After eating our lunch we were toying on whether to have cake now or later... but as I'm weak the decision to eat cake was now! There was a counter displaying a vast array of different cakes from chocolate to coffee and walnut to scones. I ordered my favourite cake which is the lemon drizzle cake and husbandy ordered the Afternoon Cream Tea. The Afternoon Cream Tea came with two scones, jam and clotted cream plus strawberries and small pieces of chocolate brownie all beautifully presented on a cake stand with a pot of tea. The lemon drizzle cake came with a sprinkling of icing sugar and a strawberry. The cake was just so light and moist - my mouth was having a little party and it did not want to end! My husbandy said that they were the
Lemon Drizzle Cake
best scones he 
had ever tasted (and he has tasted a few!). The tea at Coles Vintage Tea Rooms (which makes a damn fine cuppa) is there own infusion and the tea selection is endless - you can even buy the leafs to make your own at home! The food was delicious, the cafe had a relaxed atmosphere and the staff were friendly - my idea of a perfect cafe

My Handsome Husbandy
After all the indulgence we thought we best stop otherwise we would need to buy bigger clothes! With full bellies we waddled up to Lindy Lou's where the search to cloth my man began. My husbandy is a tall, slim fella (6ft 4in) and has trouble finding trousers that are long enough... so with some thorough searching through the racks we found a good selection of 33 inch leg. He tried them on and it was like they were made for him! He also wanted a jacket, but didn't have the one he wanted and we thought 'bum', but to our delight the owner said she could make a made to measure and even in the same fabric - smiles all round! We were in Lindy Lou's two hours...the time just flew by. We walked away with two pairs of trousers with a jacket on order... plus a head-piece for me!

Rayleigh is a true hidden gem in south Essex. Not only does it have a great vintage shop and splendid tea room but it is has plenty  more to offer... I could spend a whole weekend there and still need longer. It has a lovely high street with shops you normally find on a high street plus other shops you wouldn't expect to find. I wanted to rummage through the charity shops and fabric shops but ran out of time! There is also a healthy vintage scene in Essex - especially in Southend-on-Sea - so come on; what are you waiting for... 

Happy Indulging x

P.S. Nearest Train Station: Rayleigh (trains leave London Liverpool Street approx. every 15 mins). Only a 8 minute walk from the station. 90 minutes in the car from West London and ample of parking.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Sewing, Facing and Invisible Zips.... The Finale

Dear Ladies and Gents....

Let me firstly apologies for the delay in getting the final installment to you on completing the 'A' line skirt - mostly to 'The Thrifty Stitcher', Claire-Louise - life has got in the way and now I will finish what I started.

So with all the sides overlocked it was now time to join all the pieces together. With the pieces pinned together and the sewing machine set to a straight stitch, follow the tailors chalk line to join the two back pieces to the front piece - taking the pins out as you go. Now its time to insert the invisible zip! Take the 10 inch invisible zip and line the top of the zip with the top of the skirt and mark with tailors chalk where the bottom of the zip is to go on the fabric. The zip goes right side down onto the right side of the fabric - this is then pinned into place (remembering to be 15mm away from the fabric edge). On the sewing machine change the zipper foot to an invisible zipper foot. Align the foot over the zip. To align the zip, it should go down the small hole to the left as you look at the sewing machine and stitch as close to the zip teeth as you can remember not to backstitch as it may damage the fabric and needle. Sew down the side of the zip until the place where you marked the fabric. Top Tip: You need to go as far down as you can so its secure but not too far down otherwise you will catch the zip lever and snap the needle. Also remember as there is not back stitch at either end don't forget to unpick the last loop and manually tie a knot. Now, do the same the otherside. Un-zip the zip and pin the zip to the right side of the fabric remembering to keep the same distance from the fabric edge. Top Tip: do not panic at this point! My brain could not work out how it would work, but trust me and the experts - it does! Do the same as the other side and slip the zip teeth into the right hand hole on the invisible zipper foot. You're almost there! Now swap the invisible zipper foot to a general-purpose foot. Start at the top of the zip and stitch as close as you can get and then all the way to the bottom of your skirt and ta-dah you have a skirt-ish!! I appreciate this is complex but do persevere... once done it is so satisfying! A great tutorial to help you out is 'How to sew an invisible zip' by ctquiltingvideos - link below.

Joining the facing
Now there is only a couple more part to do and one of them is fixing your facing. A facing is not required all the time but for this skirt one was inserted. To create the facings trace the pattern onto dressmakers square patterned paper using the pattern from the skirt. Before tracing remember to take out the darts and measure down approximately 3.5inches - do this for both the front piece and back two pieces. This then needs to be pinned to the fabric and cut out using fabric scissors - remember to place the front facing on the edge of folded fabric to make one long piece and cut out two back pieces. Once cut out pin the back pieces to the front pieces remember the 15mm hem line. Once the three pieces are joined together, overlock the sides and the bottom. Once overlocked, pin the right sides together at the top of the skirt. Now to ensure you don't go over you zip, mark each side with a pin - this will be your start and end point. Go back to the sewing machine and sew the facing to the skirt. Turn the facing into the skirt and its almost done!

The hem ready to the hand-stitched
The final part of the skirt is the bottom hem. As I wanted my skirt to have a more vintage feel I hand sewed this by using a herringbone stitch. I would describe this as hand sewn zig-zag stitch; only catching a tiny thread on the outer fabric and catching the hem as you go - this should also appear invisible on the outside. I decided to do this bit at home as the day was all ready drawing to a close - but one thing was for sure...I had made a skirt :)

Top tips:
  • Equipment: Hemming ruler, fabric scissors, fabric, dressmakers square patterned paper, pins, sewing machine, invisible zipper foot, invisible zip and patience!
Useful websites/ blogs:
  • 'How to sew an invisible zip' by ctquiltingvideos -

Blurred photo of finished item!
I wear the stunning blue skirt regularly and its been complimented a great deal. I never appreciated the time and effort it takes to make a garment and I now have first hand stitching experience. Before I made a skirt I used to think about where my clothes were made and now this is more important than ever. I do try and buy British made where I can and that is why businesses like Vivien of Holloway and other independent shops are so important to me and to keep the British textile industry alive.

For anyone learning to sew I would highly recommend 'The Thrifty Stitcher'. The course is relaxed with clear guidance and support. The day goes so quickly and you will learn a great deal of skills in a short amount of time and retain them for years to come! Again, I'd would like to say a massive thank you to Claire-Louise and to all at The Thrifty Stitcher for a wonderful creative day - I will use all these wonderful skills to make another skirt and other clothes! 

Happy Stitching x

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Me? Nominated for a Liebster Award? Read on....

Today's topic is a little different to the norm. Recently I was nominated for a Liebster Award by the lovely Claire Szabo (aka  I was so touched at this that I had to enter as it would be rude not too after being nominated and I hope I've not left it too late! This is also great for new bloggers like myself to try and put them on the blogging map! 

So to accept the award there are a few rules:
  • Each blogger should answer the questions the tagger has set for you.
  • Choose eleven new bloggers (with less than 200 followers) to pass the award on to and link them in your post.
  • Create eleven new questions for the chosen bloggers.
  • Comment on their page to tell them about the award.
  • Each blogger should post eleven random facts about themselves.
  • No Tag Backs!!!
So the questions I got asked are below...I thought these were great questions... 

1) If could sew an outfit for someone famous who would it be?

I think it would have to be Will Ferrell. I totally adore this man and think I am his number one fan! He is so flamboyant in all his films, I actually think he would be like that in real life. I would make him an orange and green stripped zoot suit with a cream frilly shirt – a bit like Tom is modelling below!

2) If your sewing machine could talk, what's the first thing you would ask it?

“Why do you work  smoothly one minute, then jam the next?"

3) Where is your most favourite place in the world?

London town... I love it so much! It has so much to offer and as the saying goes:

"Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford."
Samuel Johnson

Every time I go into town I see something new and it excites me so. The buildings, the people, the atmosphere, the smells, the hustle and bustle.... you can't experience this anywhere else in the World.

4) What's that one song that can make you feel better about a bad day?

'Frustration' by Soft Cell

5) How would your friends/loved ones describe you in five words?

Giving; Considerate; Truthful; Loyal; Stubborn

6) If you could go back to college what would you study?

Maths! I thought this as early on as the end of my first term at University…but stuck with what I was doing. I really enjoy maths and when I do maths in my current job it really makes me happy :)

7) The one thing you can't live without?

Tea...I'm totally addicted to tea. Betty's tearoom teabags are the best...I now don't take sugar anymore which is a big thing for me but now wonder why I had it in the first place.

8) It’s date night and 1985, who do you pick to go out with and why? Andrew McCarthy, Emilio Estevez or Judd Nelson?

Andrew McCarthy...I was a massive St Elmo’s Fire fan and I used to swoon over him and Rob Lowe…. what a combination… I best stop or I may get arrested!

9) Who is your style icon?

I don’t have one! I’ve never really followed the crowd when it comes to styles… I went my own way and made lots of mistakes but looking back the mistakes are funny now. I love women who are confident in what they wear and more importantly enjoy wearing it!

10) You just got detention? What's the thing you most likely did to get in trouble?

Talking! This is a family trait and I could talk the hinds leg off a donkey! I was always at the back chit-chatting about something or other (usually boys) and was often sent out for being disruptive!

11) You're playing spin the bottle. Who DON'T you want it to land on? 

Chris de Burgh

So my questions my chosen blogger nominees are...

1) If you held a fancy dress party what would it be?
2) Swimming costume or bikini?
3) Tea or coffee?
4) Tattoos or no tattoos?
5) What was/ is your favourite toy and why?
6) What is your favourite sewing tool (excluding sewing machines and overlockers)?
7) Thong or knickers?
8) If you were to do a burlesque act what would be your song to dance to and why?
9) Which series is the best series of Star Trek?
10) Flats or heels?
11)You can star in any movie you choose… who and why?

Now the bit you've all been waiting for... the 11 facts about moi!

In 1997, I went on the Kilroy show with my Mum. At the time I thought a perm and a see-through lace top and black bra was a good idea….looking back this was not a wise choice!
I love Will Ferrell! I just love everything about him – especially as he always strips and sings in his movies :)

I’ve always wanted to work in a pet shop! It sounds random but I’d love it! I love all animals and I’d have the added bonus of looking after them and get paid for the privilege!

I had only been to London four times before I moved here… once as Brownie in 1989, once to visit friends in 2003, as a birthday surprise in 2005 and the final time to find a flat in 2005! I now can’t imagine living anywhere else!
I’m a secret trekkie…well not so secret now! Original Series and Next Gen are definitely the best… I do like Riker (only with the beard)….

I’m nuts… no as in allergic to nuts. I’m allergic to all tree nuts! That doesn’t include peanuts as they’re legumes.

I failed GCSE textiles….and now I’m a stitching enthusiast who has totally caught the sewing bug! I hated textiles at school… I think it had something to do with the teacher… such a shame as I would have a few years of experience under by sewing machine now.

I’m obsessed with the weather… I have five apps on my phone and always go with the best prediction – however this year is proving hard to find decent weather on any app!
I have a pet guinea pig! His name is Mr Black and he has a double bedroom as his house. He is so adorable and his favourite food is cucumber. He was in the monthly guinea-pig magazine….claim to fame.

I detest horror movies... all things horror... especially zombies. '28 days later' totally freaked me out and it just gives me the creeps. 

I epilate... stuff waxing and shaving... epilate all the way. I ain't gonna lie, it does hurt, but now all the pain has been worth it!

And now my nominees...
1) Betty Blues Loungerie - a super sexy blog! This lady makes amazing 1950s lounge wear! It's gorgeous and I'm saving up for some. I hope she visits London again soon.

2) Handmade Jane - this blog is excellent for sewing beginners and have followed the wash bag tutorial. A great blog to help on your sewing journey.

3) We'll Meet Again - Great read on all things vintage!

4) Countdown to a Vintage Wedding - I love reading this blog about how she is organising her wedding! I can't wait for the next installment. I also think she is fabulous x

5) Incendiary Blonde - The passion in this blog just oozes out of the page - great read from a very talented lady!

6) 101 Reasons why I'm single   - This girl is super and her tweets and blogs brighten up my day!

7) Pintucks and Peplums - Although this blog is a little out of date, I still love the photos and what it has to say.

8) A Brighton Belle - A fabulous vintage read

9) Sparkly SuperNova - A blog on a mixture of things - well written and well presented. Great twitterer too!

10) Sew Retro Rose - A lovely blog on all things vintage and sewing... what a great combo!

11) Quiet Vintage Sewing - Again, another great read for all things sewing and vintage!
So that's it! I hope you've enjoyed this little trip into my world. I look forward in anticipation to what my nominees have to say and hopefully I could be a winner!

Happy Liebster Awards x