Friday, 10 June 2016

Pleated Perfection // Summer Sewing Wish List!

Having spruced up my sewing studio lately with some snazzy new furniture, I can't wait to get constructing some pieces on my sewing wish list, and have decided to share with you a few ideas and inspirations I'm hoping to whip up in the next few months!

Pleated midi length skirt

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First up on the cutting table is this super simple yet desirably diverse pleated Zinnia skirt by Colette Patterns, which I have downloaded ready to go! I'm thinking of choosing the shorter version with a zip, in a navy blue cotton, to begin with, then of course I'll have to try out the button up version! (Is it wrong that I'm excited for button shopping? Choices choices!)

One of my main reasons for wanting to make a lightly pleated, knee length skirt was diversity when styling. You can really dress these guys up or down, stay cool and fresh in the summer with sandals and a strappy T but also layer up with a cute blouse/cardigan combo! Some of my outfit inspirations based on this skirt:

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Pleats and stripes, what more can we want for? I love this combination of girly, swishy skirts coupled with the hard edges of a good stripe.

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Going fuller in the skirt and folding a wider pleat allows for this slightly more dramatic silhouette, balanced out by a delicate yet defined waistband. And let's not forget the beautiful fabric choices here, propelling these skirts into chic occasion wear!

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For endless dreamy, retro inspiration head over immediately to the gloriously fashionable Instagram page of Amanda aka Modern 'June' Cleaver. This girl can wear the heck out of a full skirt but also kills a pencil skirt like no other!

Simple playsuit

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I am thinking of making a pattern mash up of this cute and simple Poppy playsuit from issue 16 of Simply Sewing Magazine and the stylish form and more fitted silhouette from the Salme playsuit PDF found on their brill Etsy store. Ideal for the warmer summer weather, comfy enough for days spent in the garden or by the pool and dressy enough for sight seeing during a city break! This is where a lot of my ideas sprung from:

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Keeping things casual and comfy, these loose fitting, light rompers could be made in all manner of light cottons or jersey, with or without pockets... endless variations!

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The fine details and precise tailoring take the humble playsuit up a notch or two, refining it's soft edges and adding some sweet straps or sleeves.

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One handy way to dress a playsuit up, taking it from day to evening wear, is to make it from a bold print or geometric pattern. I love love love the fabrics used in these outfits, showing just how creative you can get with your home made wardrobe!

A couple of weeks in the Spanish sunshine should give me an extra little boost to get stitching some new pieces for my summer wardrobe. What do you guys have planned to add a sprinkle of sunshine to your lives? Do you have anything special lined up to make or any ideas on how to update an other wise ordinary June?

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Digging For Treasure // Second Hand Book Haul

There are many things I hold dear to my heart and visiting my family in England is one of (if not the most) precious ones- add to this books and boy oh boy am I a happy bunny! It just so happens that on my latest trip back home, my parents, fella and I spent a wonderful weekend discovering the historical treasures and stunning landscape of Wales. Nestled in the grounds of the magnificent Chirk Castle was the tiniest of second hand book sales, that of course I scavenged through, selecting for myself a little collection of goodies to bring back to the Netherlands and cherish forever as a momento of our visit.

The first book that caught my eye was a delicate, old copy of The Scarlet Letter written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, originally released around 1850, this version was published by Mellifont Press Ltd in 1948. Immediately the engraved work of the intricate design on the cover just grabs your attention and this delicate pattern continues inside the book and on the spine. A glorious sized novel, its hardback standing true to the test of time has protected the pages within, showing that it has been lovingly read yet carefully kept. The introduction reads:

The Scarlet Letter is one of the first great regional novels of America; and one of that Continent's first classics, for its author, Nathaniel Hawthorne, was a contemporary both of Fenimore Cooper and of Edgar Allan Poe, and an imaginative writer of supreme genius.
The theme of this book is sin. Its title is the symbol of sin. The story tells  of the effect upon the sinner of her sin and of its strange symbol- the Scarlet Letter 'A' of a detected adulteress, that she must wear embroidered on her dress, for in the intolerant Puritan New England of the 17th century the Wages of Sin earned that badge of shame. It is an unforgettable book and both tragic and powerfully dramatic. But so subtle and skillful is Hawthorne in his treatment that never once could delicate taste be offended. Indeed, despite its theme, The Scarlet Letter wrings pity from the reader for its harassed characters. Indeed, he solicitously shares the sufferings of its four immortal fictional protagonists: Hester Prynne, the erring wife, Arthur Dimmesdale, the false priest, Roger Chillingworth, the betrayed husband, and Pearl, the fatherless child. In short, it is a book that must, and ever will be read.

The other yellowed with age, shining gem that I found was the controversial classic Madame Bovary written by Gustave Flaubert and translated in this Penguin Classics 1952 edition by Alan Russell. The pages may be crumpled and torn, there may be scratches and dashes of ink here and there but this is another elusive find. I love the size and weight of this book, the stand out green that was standard for the Penguin Classics back then, and if ever a book were to have that ripe, truly loved book smell, then it would be this one! And for two shillings and sixpence I'd say it was a bargain!

The story that caused a moral outrage upon its publication in 1857, follows the tale of bored and beautiful Emma Bovary, stifled by married life she longs for passion and escape, although where this leads her holds little to be desired. Heralded as one of the greatest novels of the 19th century, erotically charged and controversially admonished, yet still read and re read today.

My third and final bounty comes in the bright and punchy form of Lion Boy {Big Secrets, Big Cats, Big Adventure} created by Zizou Corder, a Puffin Books novel published by Penguin in 2003. I am quite sure I need not explain what drew me to this book, but the joy grows once you open its pages and revel in the magnificent end pages, the chapter titles, the scattering of tiny illustrations throughout and the sheer imagination that oozes from this small bundle of paper. I had never heard of it or its author but can't wait to sink my teeth into this treasure;

Escape on a voyage of wild adventure and incredible friendship. Charlie Ashanti can speak Cat. He takes it for granted- but when his mum and dad go missing, the cats are the only friends he can turn to. Setting out to find his parents, Charlie stows away on an incredible circus ship bound for Paris. On board he meets six proud, beautiful lions who need his help. With danger close behind and uncertainty ahead, they embark together on the adventure of a lifetime.

So there we have it, a small pile of books stemming from curious minds and unquiet imaginations, travelling through time, passed from hand to hand, continuing to stoke the fire of escape and adventure. Happily crossing my path for the time being, who knows where the future will take these three parcels of joy?! For another loved before book haul head over here!

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

All The Small Things // Currently Loving

Visiting: Family back home in England, Nijmegen {spending the day wondering around the awesome fashion concept stores, the beautiful old buildings and enjoying the sunshine reading in the park}, Friesland {yet more exploring of the Netherlands}.

Reading: Historical novel The Book of Fires by Jane BorodaleDutch book on the go right now is Die Again (or Sterf Twee Keer) by Tess Gerritsen.

Consuming: Grapefruit flavoured sparkling water... HEAVEN, copious amounts of Peanut & Chocolate Fridge Bars!

Sewing: Hand stitched fabric flowers for a wee prototype.

Indulging in: Hotel bathtubs! {We don't have a bath in our apartment, just a boring old shower, so anytime we take a road trip or weekend away I crack out my hoarded Lush supply and spend every spare moment floating in the tub!}

Watching: I lost my heart to the beautiful animated movie Song of the Sea, balled my eyes out at the stunning film The Danish Girl, laughed my ass off whilst watching the fantastic Mr Right starring both Sam Rockwell AND Anna Kendrick, and of course I am a dedicated fan of Ru Paul's Drag Race and seriously can't get enough of the drama, the fashion and the shade!

Buying: Half price wool in varying shades of moody blue with a jumper for yours truly in mind.

Enjoying: Bee Lovely Hand Cream from Neal's Yard is such a divine formula that sinks into your skin immediately and the scent is almost edible!

Wishing you a lovely week and hope that if the weather can't perk itself up that you have a great book to dive into!

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Something Sweet // Peanut & Chocolate Fridge Bars

Remember when you were a kid and took such pleasure in whipping up a storm in the kitchen, creating delicious yet humble Rice Crispy Cakes? Well my friends, please let me introduce to you it's pimped up, new and improved second cousin twice removed...

These babies are super simple and mega fast to make and whilst tasting like a dream they don't have to be too naughty (just a little bit!)

Something Sweet // Peanut & Chocolate Fridge Bars

A simple fridge set chocolatey treat, filled to the brim with peanuts, it's thanks to the not so secret ingredient dates that this scrummy sweet gets it's chewiness and with the slightest hint of salt these bad boys will disappear before your very eyes! Talking of irresistible desserts be sure to try my epic carrot cake recipe, perhaps even better use the mixture to make cupcakes!

Something Sweet // Peanut & Chocolate Fridge Bars

All you need to do is melt down some chocolate. I brutally deformed a left over Easter Bunny by bashing him into bits, popping it in a large glass bowl on top of a smaller pan a third full with warm water. Don't let the water boil, be patient and let the heat gently melt the good stuff until smooth.

Chop and de seed the dates, these will be delightfully sticky but hang in there, it will be worth the fight! Throw your wee bits of date into the chocolate followed by a barrage of non salted peanuts and mix together, trying not to eat it directly. 

As a final flourish crunch over the mixture a twist of sea salt, mix together once again and add to the vessel of your choosing. I used a shallow oven dish lined with baking paper, if you were a wondrin.

Pop this in the fridge and prepare to be amazed, as within the hour your chocolate treats will be good to go. Slice them into big or small pieces and eat entirely to yourself. I'm kidding, you should at least offer them to your friends and family (ensuring there is a back up tupperwear box full, for your midnight cravings later).

Something Sweet // Peanut & Chocolate Fridge Bars

Great for a little something sweet during your coffee break, ideal to crack out for guests and even better eaten curled up on the sofa enjoying a good book! Give them a try why don'tcha! You could even jazz up the ingredients adding cherries or marshmallows perhaps... white chocolate... peanut butter... hazelnuts... honeycomb pieces...

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Pin Up // DIY Bunting

When it comes to celebrating, whether it's a birthday party, a summer BBQ or simply the arrival of a bit of sunshine, why not add a touch of cheer to the festivities with some hand made bunting?

This super simple DIY allows you to flex your creative muscles with minimal skills and materials required, budget friendly and freshens up a room, window or shelf! I created my very own decorations to spruce up our house for my birthday, but loved the look so much that I have left a couple up!

If you want to have a go yourself, then you will need the following:

- Fabric of choice. There really are no rules with bunting, so treat yourself to whatever takes your fancy or upcycle an old bed sheet or t-shirt even! I used super cheap printed cotton which was incredibly easy to work with.

- Cotton thread in either the same colours as your fabric or try a contrasting shade to amp up the volume!

- Ribbon, tape or bias binding. Something upon which to stitch your mini flags to, again go crazy with the material or colours. I used a basic 2.5cm width ribbon from the local hobby shop.

- Sewing machine or needle and thimble. This is easiest and fasted done on a machine but can be hand stitched easily, if you have the time and patience!

- Basic sewing kit; scissors (fabric and paper), bobbin, tailors chalk, pins, iron, ruler, pencil/ pen and card for a template.

First things first, ensure your fabrics are ironed smooth. Boring part of the job, I know, but essential none the less. Next measure out a basic triangle shape on card, to the desired size for your decorations. Keep in mind the location of your bunting, whether you need nice big shapes to string across the room from corner to corner or perhaps dinky petite forms to hang upon your bookshelf.

Using your template, draw round and cut out your flags until you have an efficient amount to dress your desired room. I'm a pro guesser and generally wing it... Besides, using this tutorial you can quite easily add to your bunting until you have the correct length!

If using a machine, choose a nice wide zig zag stitch and along the two longer edges of your flagging, fold the edge over about 1cm, press lightly with the iron if necessary, and proceed to stitching a line of zig zag along each edge. This is partly functional, to secure the folded back edge, but also decorative, so feel free to choose a complimenting coloured thread for this. If you're kicking it old school and hand stitching the edge, follow the instructions and create a zig zag stitch, keeping the stitch nice and wide will do the trick and speed up the process.

Starting a good 5cm's in, begin attaching your flags inside your ribbon by folding the ribbon edge over and sandwiching your bunting flag inside. A handy trick is to ensure the bottom layer of ribbon is a fraction longer than the front edge that lies on top of the flags. This will help when stitching in place. Again, choose your preferred thread and get your machine ready with a simple straight stitch and begin to stitch your flags in place, leaving a couple of cm's between each flag. Feel free to pin each flag into place, if your fabric allows, this may help to keep things nice and secure as you go along, just remember to remove them as you go!

Snip off any threads, tidy away your sewing supplies, borrow a tall friend and get decorating!

Play around with patterns and colours, try mini bunting or vary the size of your flags or ribbon. You can have a lot of fun with this project and develop your idea as you go. Perhaps you could applique someones name, letter by letter, upon each flag, or spell out C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S... Get creative and bring the cheer for any occasion! 

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Fist Full of Glitter // Met Gala 2016

Hurray for Hollywood! I love this time of year, not just because the daylight lasts a little longer and the trees are blossom and blooming but my most treasured fashion event is held in all it's show stopping grandeur- that's right darlings, it's time for the Met Gala Ball!

As is tradition, I'm flinging out a speedy post in honour of my favourite looks from the evening, however hard it is to narrow that list down, oh to rummage through those wardrobes! The dedicated theme to this years shindig was in celebration of the grand opening of the Costume Institutes exhibition: Manus x Machina- Fashion in an Age of Technology at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which features jaw dropping work by the likes of Dior, Chanel and Vuitton, as did the red carpet event itself!

250,000 silk roses and 325 bottles of champagne later, as the glitter settles, let's take a closer look at the gowns that graced the gala.

Nicole Kidman shimmered and sparkled in this spectacular dress and cape from Alexander McQueen, wearing jewellery by Fred Leighton. Honouring all things couture, hitting the right trends (cut outs and milk maid braids), whilst retaining that timeless Kidman grace, this was my favourite look of the night!

The show stopper, was most definitely the glow in the dark Zac Posen dress Claire Danes chose, topped with jewellery by Eva Fehren, for the ultimate Cinderella moment! Besides the incredible light show, just the fine details of the gown itself show true craftsmanship and the soft blue shade was true elegance.

In a striking white Atelier Versace dress, Kate Hudson stands out from the crowd. The silhouette of this dress along with the bold cut out shapes, work perfectly with Hudson's cool and chic persona. Dripping in jewels was the breath taking Poppy Delevingne dressed in the most intricate gown by Marchesa. Such a beautiful array of stones and sequins, following the gentle curves of the gorgeous lady herself, this dress really fits the Manus x Machina aesthetic.

Dolce & Gabbana doing what they do best, make Zoey Deutch a floral princess. The sheer skirt, the dusky colours, teamed with her on point hair, really work together to complete the look. Golden goddess Sienna Miller never disappoints, and certainly in this Gucci number she really makes the grade. I love that she has kept her hair and make up minimal and let her metallic frock do the talking.

Tag teaming on the evening, you have the ever beautiful Emily Blunt and bump working a sparkly blue Michael Kors floor sweeper and The Olsen Twins draped in sumptuous fabrics giving effortless drama and true costume glory.

Striking a pose like a pro Hailey Baldwin works the red carpet in a thigh split Tommy Hilfier dress, cut to perfection with a deliciously dark take on glitz. While Riley Keough dared to bare in Diane von Furstenberg. Simple in form yet the glimmering gown spoke volumes as each shimmer caught the light.

In a Burberry, patterned gown, Naomie Harris looked truly gorgeous. The long sleeves gave elegance, the fitted to fluted skirt offered red carpet drama and her hair and make up just complemented the over all look. Giving regal realness Sofia Sanchez de Betak wore the heck out of this ultimately luxurious Dolce & Gabbana ensemble.

My offerings to you are but the tip of the iceberg, be sure to dive deeper and check out all the sparkle from the Mets most glamorous evening. Before I go, honourable mentions from the Gala go to Blake Lively and her Burberry lovelinessdrool worthy Idris Elba rocking a suit by Tom Ford no less and the cheeky trio Jenna Lyons, Jennifer Konner and Lena Dunham all in stylish J Crew tux with matching specs appeal.

I'd love to hear which red carpet looks were your favourites, what you thought of this years theme and whether you too thought there was enough silver to sink a ship!!

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Tailor Made // Design Your Own Wardrobe

Amongst a sea of mass produced, identically churned out fashion, those that stand out in their own right are often the folks that adopt a personal style, put together with an exciting mixture of pieces- high street, thrifted or even self made. It is this care free, one of a kind look that allows us to express our own individuality through the use of clothing and creates a fun and practical voice by which we communicate visually.

Creating your very own signature look doesn't have to mean going against the grain of mainstream fashion or shunning brands in order to appear too cool for school, it can simply be how you put an outfit together or dressing for your body over seasonal trends or even, designing an entire piece yourself!

Those naturally gifted with a needle and thread will have no doubt, already adopted hand made pieces into their every day look, but for the creative fellow with lack of time, resources or skills there are some seriously epic ways to amp up the volume and tailor your style to your every fashion need!

The clever clogs over at Gorgeous Couture, offering luxury British fashion, have hit the nail on the head with this immersive website, full to the brim with stunning outfits custom fit to your body measurements at the click of a button. You simply choose the garment you desire, in the colour of your choice, hand over your digits and await a beautifully bespoke item, letting the professionals do the work!

In my opinion, there really isn't an easier, more versatile way to change up an existing outfit into something seriously instagram worthy than by accessorising with some killer jewels. And what better way to do this than by using the incredibly stylish services of Diwah and design your own statement jewellery! You can either buy straight from the Diwah collections (good luck choosing just one item!) or take control, choosing the style, the components and arranging them to suit your every desire, in a seamless online process! Believe me when I say, the website is super fun and provides the best parts of jewellery crafting- minus the fiddly construction! There is so much to choose from that they narrow down their Aladdin's cave of beads and beauties into super stylish themes, such as Tribal, Sea Breeze and Rebel. Once you're happy with your new game changer and the order is placed, you receive not only your jewellery but also a personal note from the jewellery designer that made it for you!

For on the go inspiration check out the Instagram page from Diwah for gorgeous statement necklaces and fresh ideas!

When it comes to designing your own footwear, there really is no alternative option that to pay Shoes of Prey a visit, a sure fire way to put a spring in your step! Following their online guide you can design to your hearts content until you have the pair of your dreams, at a super reasonable price too! From soft buttery suede brogues to your new summer sandals, create your own kicks and transform your look in a hop, skip and a jump!

Finally, for all your customising needs, be sure to check out the wonderful world of Etsy! Most Etsy stores offering handmade articles will no doubt provide a customisation, allowing you to pick and choose, tailoring your wardrobe as you go! Awesome shops such as Tmeprinting will have you sniggering into your coffee at their geek friendly slogan tee's, LEAPprints let you do the talking and will put the sass in your shopping by adding a quote of your choosing to fine cotton canvas totes and why not add an individual touch to a classy boudoir staple and have My Everyday Party sprinkle your name in glitter?!

So what are you waiting for? Flex those design muscles and get busy transforming your look into something more you!