Sunday, 27 July 2014

Dipping a Toe in the North Sea

Arghhh such a backlog of photos to post! I was planning on just doing one more wild north post, but I have too many nice pictures so I'm afraid I'll have to bore you with a couple more. The east coast was an easy drive from where we were staying, so we spent a couple of days exploring; plenty of interesting rock pools and long golden beaches. Surprisingly empty too, especially compared to my local beaches in Dorset!

Just another reason why I fell in love with Northumberland! As well as big green hills, lots of beautiful beaches too :)

Monday, 21 July 2014

Bright Colours Wild Textures

Well hello there, things are still pretty hectic around here! I have just got back from a conference in Portugal (pics to follow!), and am still in between moving, although I hope to finally be settled and reunited with my sewing machine some time next week. In the meantime, here are some pretty close-ups from Northumberland; I have tried to identify the species, the geek in me insisted ;)

Monkey flower of some kind I think


Heath Bedstraw

Yellow flag iris

Possibly wild Thyme


Common spotted orchid

Lichens are difficult to identify!

Green seaweed? Looks like the Grinch's back to me...

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Turn Right at Nowhere

I'm back to bore you all with holiday snaps! I spent the last two weeks up in Northumberland, right on the Scotland/England border. It might not sound very exotic but it was brilliant and beautiful and the first proper holiday my boyfriend and I have had together for a fair while. We stayed in a lovely house literally in the middle of nowhere, miles from civilisation and nestled in amongst the very green hills. It was stunning and I wanted to stay there forever! We did re-enter civilisation occasionally when exploring the local area, but we also spent a good amount of time rambling in the wild from straight out of the back door. The best day was walking to Scotland up the tallest hill we could find. I was pathetically excited about going over the border, as I had never been to Scotland, and there is a certain amount of novelty in being able to walk right there! Plus we had a friendly chat with some Scottish people at the top, over the fence that marks the border, which tickled us a little as they were on Scottish soil and we were in England. Good times, can I go back please?

The home valley - our house is in those trees at the bottom

Our lunchtime view looking down at Scotland

Always bringing up the rear!

At the cairn at the top, looking at Scotland

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Dots in the Sand

Well hello there! Slightly unplanned blog absence, but life decided to intervene and keep me very busy, including preparing for an unplanned house move. However, here I am checking in, and I'm off up north for two weeks from Monday, so I hope to get plenty of scenic pictures to bore you all with.

This post is, however, one of those with me filling every frame, although I've squeezed in some of the beautiful beach, just because.

I went to my cousin's lovely wedding this weekend (Congratulations if you're reading this!), and thought I would make use of the beautiful Anna Sui silk organza that I won through the Grainline Studio blog during the new Christine Haynes book blog tour, so thank you Jen and Christine for the fabulous fabric! I have never sewn with anything quite so precious (and slippery) so was worried I wouldn't be able to do it justice, but I hope it looks respectable ;)

The pattern is the ubiquitous ByHandLondon Elisalex, which I have now made a few times. I made a gathered skirt this time, so I could utilise the border print. I underlined the bodice and skirt with white taffeta, and also lined the bodice with white cotton. Underlining worked well to make the silk more stable, and helped me keep those pesky circles and dots reasonably straight!

Although it is wearable, I'm not that happy with the fit in the end. When I first inserted the zip the bodice was too tight, particularly around the waist, so I reinserted the zip using bias binding (slightly unorthodox?!) to give me a bit more space. However, this has now made the back gape and folds have appeared under the bust and on the back waist. I'm not really sure what I'm doing wrong with fitting, I've fiddled in various ways with this pattern each time I've made it but never seem to get it quite right. I guess I should probably go back to the start and make some test versions, or maybe I just need to do some more sit-ups?!

Anyway, to the pictures!

 This rolled hem foot is bloody marvellous and I suggest you all go out and buy one immediately :)

 Thank you Mr Greencoffeepot for your fabulous photography skills :)

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

The Green Grass of Home

I had a lovely May bank holiday weekend looking after my grandparents' house and pooch whilst they were at a wedding. The Saturday was particularly glorious; sunshine, luminous green grass and spring flowers. There was plenty of wildlife about, including a sparrowhawk who decided to join us for breakfast on the patio - I WON'T have what he's having...

Let the Dorset tourist board advert commence!

Spine of Purbeck - Poole harbour on the left

The stick muncher herself

Both sides still alive!

Fetch Cara!

Not so native wildlife

Sparrowhawk having breakfast

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Victory and the Hedgerow Dress

I finished my Sew For Victory dress in time! I posted a little while ago about my bodice muslin using the Colette Hawthorn pattern as a base, and my adventures in scallops, so here is the final product. I'm not sure the pattern of the fabric is very 1940s, but I couldn't resist it! The scallops do get a little lost, but I know they are there and I am quite pleased with the outcome. I ended up doing split tulip sleeves using the tutorial in Gertie's 'New Book for Better Sewing'.They came out well and it makes the dress much more summery; I think I'll be wearing it a lot! I'm also happy with the raised neckline and the length of the skirt. It was really fun to play around with a pattern and see what I could come up with, and I really enjoyed looking at patterns and photos from the 1940s for inspiration, although I am probably drawn more to 50s and early 60s silhouettes. Right, more poses for you!

Pockets of course!
I really tried to make an effort at finishing the insides properly. Side seams are french seamed, I bound the waist and armhole seams, and used pinking shears to trim the facings.

To do the scallops, I drew out a template after testing spacing and size on my muslin. I then used carbon paper to trace sew lines onto the facings, so it was nice and easy to stitch up. I clipped the curves well then went for topstitching to make it all behave! There are two scallops on the skirt front, then I stitched up the rest of the front. Someone post a pic of a vintage pattern on the flickr group that used scallops in the same way, so I stole that idea!

So overall, as I'm sure you can gather, I am pretty pleased with my first sew for victory make! I think I'll try and make something a bit more authentic next year ;)

Thanks Baoxiu for the posing photos!

Wednesday, 30 April 2014


I've decided to join in the fun with Zoe this year! My home made wardrobe isn't that extensive, but  I do wear everything that I've made quite a lot, so I hope I will manage to achieve my pledge. I won't be posting daily photos as I haven't yet come up with a good strategy for photographing outfits, but I will try and put some summary posts together.

'I, Julia, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '14. I endeavour to wear at least one me-made garment each day for the duration of May 2014. I will also try to end the month with no UFOs.'

I also hope to go for quality not quantity for my sewing for May, by making some really well finished garments: A Grainline Archer with the lovely striped linen that has been in my stash for months, and a fabulous dress to wear to my cousin's wedding in June.