Thursday, April 24, 2014

Sewing blissfully. How to avoid feeling frustrated when sewing.

Never have we been more inundated with new patterns launches, mini sewing trends, sewing challenges, community projects, friends requests "oh I saw on Sewing bee they made that couture dress in 8 hours, you can make me a dress in a day don't you?" and many other sources of inspiration.    

Sewing is incredibly social and as in all social activities we as humans want to fit in. Even thou is impossible to take part in everything we insist putting over ourselves an enormous amount of pressure. Sewing, crafting, knitting or whatever is your favourite creative outlet, it should never  feel like a chore, or make you feel you are failing.  Here are a few tips to keep your hobby a joy.

Don't follow the hype:
With so many amazing things going on over the blogsphere is so easy to get excited about taking part in everything. I'm so guilty of over-committing myself. I put my hand up for everything. Is just my collaborative nature.  However, over my sewing years I have lost count of how many times I felt completely burned out. I was ashamed to admit it and would rush my makes just to get it in time for the big reveal, some times sacrificing my down time, which is super important for creativity. Deadlines and overcommitting are a strong source of frustration, so don't follow the hype.
  • Be selective:
Make a note on a post it or notebook of everything you feel you 'want it' with the deadline and keep it where you normally read your blog posts. That will help you visualise everything that is happening before you openly signing for it. See if multiple challenges you would like to take part can be tackled in one outfit.  It really helps to visualise everything that is coming before picking the challenges you are truly excited about.  Don't feel guilty over the ones you don't pick, no one will think less of you because you didn't join the latest 'big thing'. Other opportunities will always be there.
  • Pick the right patterns:
I don't know anyone that sews that don't have a never ending list of projects. Many are added just because you loved someone's version. While providing inspiration is one of the goals I seek over the blog, I know that many styles I make don't suit everyone because I make my clothes for me. Don't you pick your patterns because of their fame, you may get a few more blog hits but not a satisfying make.

My personal criteria in picking a pattern are: I love the style and it suits my lifestyle. I know that style is flattering to my shape. I matched the pattern difficult with my current skill (or a skill I want to practice/learn), I can adapt the pattern to something I want.
  • Invest in knowledge:
Picking the right fabric to work with a pattern is almost as important as choosing the right pattern. A lot of learning can be done reading but I'm a practical and visual learner. Get as many different types of fabrics samples and start your own exploration. Look at the drape, the weight. Feel with your fingers how the fabric behaves. Use sample and practice some stitches. It will help you picking the right fabric for the pattern.

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

My springtime Cooper bag from Colette

Hi darlings,
From planning the fabric combinations and details to sewing, this make was delightful. A perfect project for a day at the sewing club. This was actually my project for February meeting. Due the craziness of project sewn this ended up bottom on my list to photograph.

If I didn't talk too much  (like I always do) my bag would probably be perfectly made, but I sewn the straps wrongly at the start and only noticed too late to change. Can you tell? The flap should stay tucked under the straps, not over it.

Still totally wearable and I love it.  I want to make one for HRH in leather & canvas for our trip to the world cup. If you are new to bag making, I would highly recommend making the cooper.

Here are some details...
Let's talk about the fabrics: They are all furnishing weight canvas. The stripped pink was left over of my first ever apron.  The blue floral and the blue pokadot lining were bought at a local shop near my  in-law's 3 years ago. 

Very similar to Cath Kidston isn't it? The strap's material was sent to me free from Wholeport. 

This pattern would work well as a shopper without the flap. (Mine is hidden inside) I almost omitted my flap once I realised my error. Instead, added to the pattern 2 side hooks for a shoulder strap.

In case you are asking yourself, what pattern is Rachel wearing? That is not a handmade dress. Is from Kate Moss first collection to Topshop. The lining is super short and needs adding some lace on the bottom soon. The headband scarf is left over pokadot from the bag lining and the swimming ladies. The pattern is a mini version of Tilly's Bridget scarf. I'm so excited about Tilly's book launch and made a tutorial how to wrap headscarfs coming up on the blog soon.

Have you sewn any fashion accessory or bag recently? What pattern? 

A little of blog housekeeping. The Betty dress pattern giveaway winner is Anne. Congratulations.

All giveaways in this blog are drawn using

Saturday, April 19, 2014

My Rag Doll: blog tour and my handmade doll

Hello friends,

I'm the next stop for Corinne Crasbercu’s new book My Rag Doll! Oh and feel like an excited little girl. I really enjoyed having a go and making my own doll.

The book teaches a variety of customisable dolls with 11 adorable outfits, including matching  accessories like shoes and personality props.  From London weather appropriated rain coat to a veil bride. 

The book offers only one basic pattern and is divided by stages: Making the doll, where you can pick 5 different faces and hair styles. Than follows by your choice of outfit. Meaning that you can make combination of faces, hair and clothes you desire. The book says "make 11 rag dolls", but you can make so many more with your own creativity.  
This book offers a fun a way to start on a rag doll making journey because it gives the tools to explore making  awww-dorable creatures.  You will find hard to give them away. I would say this isn't a total beginner project and be mindful of details like buttons when making for children under 3.

What I love the most is the quality of the details on each doll. The author inspiration of children's books like Beatriz Potter  and Sarah Kay really shows as the dolls have definitely a personally ingrained in them. 

I have found the aesthetics to be very pretty and clean. Every outfit more exciting than the previous.

The only negative about this book is the lack of illustrations. I would love to see the 'How-To' of the doll illustrated by pictures or illustrations. Only text instructions for a those with english as a second language can be quite confusing. 'Skeins'? what is that? Lol.. so many words I had no idea what they meant. Not much of a problem for the outfits because I just sewn them as I would my own clothes.

To do a honest review on books with patterns I always try to make at least one pattern because you cannot base a project book only by looking at it. I can really see myself making more of these dolls. The process was very enjoyable and was shared with Cris (and her sewing machine) as my mine was still on the her annual revision. (Ps: I have now bought a second machine #Sewaddicted)

The pattern requires to be enlarged 120% or bigger and do not including the seam allowances. My doll size was kept at 100% because I could print it directly.

Let me introduce you to Lady Godiva in her winter rose pyjamas.

The name was given by my crafty friend Trudi because I posted a work-in-progress picture of my doll and well, she wasn't dressed! For those not educated in English folklore you can read about it here. I couldn't give her another name... so catchy!

The basic doll pattern is clever because the 3D shape of the feet she can stand up. Her outfit was based on the blouse (page 24) with a gathered skirt. Used the basic shoe pattern with free hand cut bows to make her slippers.

Pyjamas with pockets, of course! The fabric was baby fleece scraps Cris had on her stash.

To be honest, she isn't perfect but I'm so proud of this first attempt. Don't use cheap calico because I used for the body and it was too thin. The embroidery stitches show a little bit. There are some imperfect corners on the curved seams but its all part of her personally.

I have an extra copy to giveaway but since there has been so many recent giveaways I'm keeping it to be part of a blog-anniversary giveaway bundle.

Book is available in May but you can purchase an electronic copy or the dolls patterns individually.

* Book Images used with permission by Stitch Craft Create. 

Disclaimer: Please note that i'm not paid to write book reviews or be part of a blog hops but I do receive a review copy of the book from publishers/distributors. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Happy Easter: How Brazilians gift homemade easter eggs.

Hello friends,

I have another sweet treat for you. In Brazil we love filling our easter eggs with Brazilian favourite recipes like brigaddeiro; prestigio; fruit; doce de leite; giving them to our friends during this time of the year.  

I made it for myself and thought you may like to have a go and is super easy to make with kids to give to teachers, serve as individual desserts after easter lunch...  You will find hard to resist not eating it all by yourself.

The flavours and decoration are really up to you and what you like eating. I'm teaching you to make: Brigadeiro Gourmet, summer fruits compote and fresh coconut prestigio. Make it one flavour, add fresh strawberries on the top, decorate with mini egg. Another big favourite is to fill with ice cream.

Gather your ingredients:

Brigadeiro Gourmet:
In a saucepan, heat half of the condensed milk can, 1 heaped tbsp cocoa and 1 tablespoon butter.  Stirring constantly with wooden spoon  cook  low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick and shiny and  you can see the bottom and side of saucepan when pan is tilted.  cool completely. To avoid get very thick, add 1 tbsp of double cream after you taken from the heat. It will be very creamy. Normally there is addition of sugar on original brigadeiro recipes but this would make it too sweet for me.

In a saucepan, heat half of the condensed milk can, 50  freshly grated coconut and 1 tbsp butter.  Stirring constantly with wooden spoon  cook  low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick and shiny just like brigadeiro. 

Summer fruit compote. 
500g mixed berries (blackcurrants, blueberries, raspberries, redcurrants, strawberries) 
50-85g golden caster sugar
1 tbsp Vanilla Extract
With all the fruit similar size, add all ingredients into a large pan with 2-3 tbsp water. Bring to the boil then simmer for 3-5 mins. Don't overcook, or the fruits will not hold their shape. Let it cool.

Layer your fillings
Rach's tip: Don't use hot fillings as it will melt the chocolate egg. This recipe will fill one 145g easter egg with fruit compote left over.

Gift them half in a cute box like" Maria gourmet".

Gift them whole by making a hard chocolate cover to protect the filling by melt half milk, half dark  (50g) chocolate and cover the filling. Let it dry complete. Put both halts together and wrap your gift in pretty fabric.

Too delicious to give it away, sorry not sorry..... yummmmmmm