Thursday, 27 February 2014

Birthdayness

It's that time again, as I celebrate with home made cake being another year older and of course wiser (repeat after me: I am wise, I am wise, I am wise). This year's month of fun (that's right, I claim the entire month of February as Birthday Month) is an eventful one for sure. Filling my days with packing and organising, meeting some gorgeous people for coffee fuelled ramblings, lots of lovely food and spending some treasured time with the people I love, be it on a day out or via skype!


On the day of my birthday I took a little trip with my folks to the wonderfully historical and quaint town of Shrewsbury; spending our afternoon treading the cobbles, crushing on the beautiful boutiques and basically being spoilt rotten (right on!).




Come take a look around! Some of these buildings are beautiful and so old (bit like me now!), the way they lean into each other is almost mesmerising, creating little walk ways and secret passages. Oh the stories these bricks hold. One thing I love about these towns that cherish their past, are the signs dotted around on the walls of particularly notable buildings, giving you dates and information on its origins.










Another highlight of the day was discovering some truly gorgeous little shops, jam packed with trinkets and treasures galore! I was so distracted by all these shiny pretty things that I only remembered to take a few snaps here and there. I could have spend hours popping in and out of the stores here and stumbling across unexpected delights at every turn.








After treating his favourite girls to some fancy chocolates from the fancy pants chocolate shop, dad drove us home, stopping for a really nice stroll along the river in the sunshine, at Iron Bridge, on the way back. Someone somewhere must have known it was my birthday as the sun was giving a winning performance, and the air was full of that old wood fire smell (my absolute, number one, favourite). We took in the views from the infamous bridge and soaked up some much needed vitamin D.






We had such a brilliant day roaming around Shrewsbury and Iron Bridge, and I of course had a little spring in my step the entire way. There was many more birthdayness later that day, but being the greedy gal that I am, I will share all this excitement out into several more posts!!

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Older and Wiser

"How puzzling all these changes are! I'm never sure what I'm going to be, from one minute to another.” Lewis Carroll.



// “I cannot for the life of me understand why small children take so long to grow up. I think they do it deliberately, just to annoy me.” Roald Dahl //



“I suppose it's like the ticking crocodile, isn't it? Time is chasing after all of us.” J. M. Barrie.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

DIY Shirt Alteration

I spotted this shirt from across the store and lost all senses as I threw myself towards it. The fact that it was in the men's section didn't strike me as unfortunate, just look at that print! How could I possibly resist? Especially at Primarni prices, you know what I'm saying! As if written in the stars, this retro car print shirt found its way into my excited mits and home we went to make an alteration or two.




As you can see from the image below, despite buying the smallest in the men's sizes, this shirt was still going to swamp me. I decided to do some simple adjustments to the basic fitting and silhouette, to suit a wee shrimp of a gal like myself. I have laid out my process step by step, please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or queries, maybe I can help. This really is a no fuss tailoring job, nothing fancy, just a quick pin and tuck to give it a more feminine (and short!) shape. The creative options, whilst making your alterations, are pretty limitless, see how artistic you can really get- I mean, its Primark, no worries if things go wrong!


// Original state //


// Fine details //


Ok, my first step is a boring but seriously essential one. Iron the shirt. This makes everything easier, trust me. Then try the shirt on, in front of a mirror or a handy friend, and decide how long or short you want to go. I used tailors chalk and made a little mark, in front of the mirror, whilst in the shirt, to get an idea of how much to chop off.


Take the shirt off, button up and lay it nice and flat on a desk or use your ironing board. Using a measuring tape or ruler measure the length of the centre front seam (with the buttons down), from the joining seam just below the top button, right down to your mark. Trying to be as even as you can, follow the measurement out, either side of your original mark.




Rather than keeping the hem of your shirt the same length the whole way around, as a simple design feature it can look quite nice to take the side seams up an inch or two. If you choose to do this (as I did), measure the side seam from the under arm down, and rather than taking this to your hem level, count up an inch or two (depending on where on your body you'd like it to sit). Use your ruler or free hand to join this mark to your centre one, rounding off the edge to create a smooth line.




A handy way to find the measurement on the back of the shirt, is to place a pin from the front, following the line of your desired hem. From the centre back of the shirt, you now know where your hem lies. Do the same to the back, as we did to the front and join the hem line together.




Now you have your hem line sorted, lets add a seam allowance. The seam allowance gives you a nice bit of space to neaten and finish your edges. I made mine by marking a line underneath the hem at a 2cm point, all the way around the shirt edge. Next, carefully cut the excess bottom of the shirt, along the lowest chalk line, like in the image below.




Before we stitch the hem it's a good idea to take in the side seams, if needed. Turn your shirt inside out and put it on, doing up the buttons (fiddly job when inside out!!), and jump in front of the mirror or borrow your friend again. Now we want to pinch the side seams on both sides, to a comfortable fit, lying flat against your body, but not too tight. (This all depends on what kind of fit you're after of course). Very, very carefully pin from the under arm down to the hem, getting a roughly similar amount on each side, then wriggle out of the shirt, avoiding the pins (durrrr).


Button up the shirt again and lie flat on your surface. Measure the distance from the original side seam, (starting from the hem up), to the pinned line of your new side seam and mark the line with your chalk. When you get to the under arm and sleeve, taper the line towards the sleeve using a curved line, unless you have plans to alter the shape of the sleeve itself. Once you have matching sides, stitch along the line on your machine. In the absence of a sewing machine just keep your hand stitches nice and small and close together.






About two inches from your new side seam out (towards the original seam), trim the shirt back, cutting off the excess fabric. To keep the edges nice and neat I used a small zig zag stitch on the outer side of the new side seam (between the trimmed edge and the stitching… See image above!). If you have an over locker at hand then serge away!! This isn't desperately necessary, but it sure helps secure the edges and prevents excess fraying as you wear. You can now trim the edge even more, leaving a small amount next to your zig zag stitch. Working on the inside, open the seam like butterfly wings, and iron flat, then flip the shirt over and iron the side seam on the top side.




You should now have a gorgeously fitted side seam, tailored to your own body shape, finished neatly and super secure.


Next we finish the hem. Working on the under side, turn the bottom edge up 1cm and iron all the way along, then turn it up another 1cm and iron again. If you have used a 2cm seam allowance this should now have bought your shirt up to your chosen hem length! Carefully top stitch all the way along the bottom edge of your shirt, creating a lovely hem. You can even go crazy and use a contrasting thread!


As a finishing touch I used a bright pink embroidery thread and stitched over my button thread, to add a little detailing, and I folded the sleeves up and put a few discrete stitches to hold the fold in place. The options for design features are plentiful, you could swap your buttons for new bold ones, you could round the collar into a Peter Pan shape or even shape the sleeves into a cap sleeve! It's really up to you.




// Fitted and finished! //




// With my fluffy candy coloured birthday jumper //




One, tailor fit, retro print shirt, after an easy alteration. I hope this opens up a few opportunities for you now, with the knowledge that fitting to your personal shape can be an easy way to fix an ill fitting garment creating a more flattering silhouette for your own body, to breathe new life into an old item or to simply redesign a feature or two making it a one of a kind piece of clothing.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Wander Round Worcester

The other day I took a little drive out with Poppa Bear to Worcester. While he was busy with work business, I made myself busy strolling around and taking in the atmosphere. Worcester is a really lovely place, with a huge mixture of shops and cafes dotted between the old historic buildings. I spent my afternoon window shopping, relaxing with a latte and wandering around the beautifully breath taking cathedral.


Amongst the delightful fabric and home wear shops I spotted so many gorgeous things, can't wait to show you!!


// Just look at these beauties!! //


// The cutest sewing box. What better way to house your tools then in an actual house! //


While we're on the subject of crafty treasures… I hit the jackpot, big time! Behold:








Like a kid in a candy store, these drool worthy bundles of colour and softness captured my full attention! Visions of all the fluffy creations I could make from this vast array of yarns, were buzzing round my mind. The differing textures, thickness, hues and shades, oh the options are plentiful! I re he heally found myself taken with the thick oatmeal coloured wool with the fluro hints and the chunky sea green number.


All of this colour and knitting related excitement (yes, I really am that sad), got me all a flutter, and to give myself a moments tranquillity I made my way to Coffee Dough, where I enjoyed a much needed latte...


// (… And a muffin… Don't tell!) //


I rounded up my afternoon, before reuniting with my pa for the journey home, by taking a really pleasant walk around the magnificent cathedral and grounds. The history of this town is still heavily felt as you walk the narrow streets, and the cathedral itself is truly incredible. The sheer size and beauty inside is awe inspiring, the silence is thick with peace and seclusion as you make your way around the stain glass windows. Steeped in history and full of character it's easy to lose yourself and let go of time. 










A really nice day all round and a great way to kick off an eventful week packed full of birthdayness. Have you ever been to Worcester, or do you know of any other little towns to spend an afternoon?

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Lullaby To A Little Jitterbug

I love Sundays. I love the promise of waking up naturally, with no vile intruding alarms disturbing my slumber. I love the relaxed air that comes with decision making on a Sunday. Reading in bed for an hour with a coffee? Why on earth not! Eating a late breakfast while the sunshine pours through the kitchen windows, whilst catching up on my favourite blogs? You betcha! How about treasure hunting around an antique market or a vintage fair? Well, as it happens, I did just that, last Sunday!


Held in the magnificent town hall of Birmingham, Lou Lou's Vintage Fair gave my 'day of rest' a little excitement and nostalgia, as my mum and I sharpened our elbows and hit the stalls!


// Birmingham Town Hall //


// Comfort is key, shopping outfit ready for a rummage //


The fair consisted of original pieces of history, in all manner of form, second hand watches, antique cups and saucers, rails and rails of fashion through the ages and everything in between. There was even a fantastic performance from The Glamophones to put a shuffle in the shoppers steps. Cake stalls laid out with a gorgeous selection of sweetness to choose from, with your tea or coffee (essential for keeping up the old energy), and a retro salon as the cherry on top!


// Two wonderful finds that I so nearly purchased //


// Step this way, accessories galore //


// Some of the bounty on offer //


I had such a great time wandering between the stalls and rails, and even had a quick catch up with my gorgeous friend Gillian, who also happened to be getting her vintage on. There was so much to look at, hidden beauties just waiting to be found and re-homed. And discovered I did! I was immediately won over by this incredibly unique red cape, and couldn't resist trying it on. After that there was no turning back, I had to have it, and have welcomed this little number into my collection.






With a smile on my face and my new garment swishing in its bag as I merrily swing my arms in joy, much to my budgets dismay, I stumbled upon a skirt suit from the 50s, and fell in love. The colour of the tweed, the detail on the collar, the sweet silhouette given by the short length of the jacket and its sleeves… I really couldn't walk away from it! Thankfully, as there was nowhere to try it on, the measurements of the skirt was written on the tag, and with a big deep breath and my fingers crossed that it would fit, I rescued this 50's wonder. And, may I add, even haggled and won myself a reduction (I'm turning Dutch already).




I'm so pleased to announce that it fit like a glove, with the exception of the skirt being rather long on these wee pins of mine (a common occurrence), so with a little nip and tuck I intend to transform it into a pencil skirt, much more flattering a shape. This little suit offers quite a range of styling options, I can easily wear the jacket with some skinny jeans and a swipe of lippy, or the skirt with a retro blouse and some heels or for those moments when I've overdosed on Mad Men, both together, with a wiggle in my walk and a giggle in my talk!


// Its all in the details //


I'm thinking of biting the bullet and trying out an outfit post or two (I'm rubbish at having my photo taken), and I will feature these vintage items mixed up with my everyday wardrobe, shake it up a bit and see what happens! I hope you gorgeous lot have a lovely Sunday, however you choose to spend it. Do you have a favourite Sunday ritual or activity?


Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Pour Some Sugar On Me

I'm beginning to see a pattern in my posts// photographs // day dreams… That many of them include cake of some (any) description. So true to form, this here ditty is dedicated to the mighty birthday cake. Being the little nerd that I am, plotting my own birthday cake seemed a highly valued task and have therefore, been sourcing inspiration for the treat to be crowned victorious in the choosing. I have a week to decide and make the master piece that will fill my belly with joy and sparkles and happiness, so my research I have done! No stone has been left unturned in the search and here are some of the most radically exciting sweet treats that have my wee cogs turning with creative desire:


// image:Emma Wollum via Pinterest //

I love the gradient colour effect and the most elegantly piped rose petals! 



The colour way of this little beauty is simply gorgeous. Its combination of textures and complimenting colours hit every note. Not to mention the sprinkle tier!! This cake speaks to my inner 'mermaid dress up, tea cups and unicorns' self… In a sophisticated grown up kinda way…


// image:  bloglovin.com via pinterest //

Of course, the classic vanilla frosting and sprinkles… And why the fudge not?



Hello there you sassy thing! This little number is naughty but nice and quite the show stopper with its contrasting sponge.



All hail the mouth watering crown a top the proud head of birthdays. How fine does this cake look! Regal and divine, and down right delicious.



Peachy pink smush frosting. Such an effective idea, lures you in with its delicate hues and tactile appearance.



Quality not quantity. With this triumphant treat we have flair with substance, a carrot cake like no other. No need for multi- tiers, the proof is in the pudding and this quiet yet fancy piece speaks for itself.


My head is all a fluster with frosting and fondants! With so much intriguing inspiration I will no doubt satisfy my needs for a celebratory little cake next week. I won't kid myself, however, that I will be capable of recreating anything quite so glamorous and professional as these bad boys, but it sure has given me food for thought! If you have any suggestions or tips for baking cakes then I would be super thrilled to hear them.