Monday, 25 August 2014

Make Mine a Port Wine

Working in academia does have some perks, namely that there are many conferences, and they are frequently in interesting (and hot!) places. This summer I got to go to a big one in Porto in Portugal, and in amongst the hours of presentations we did get to have some fun, those Portuguese know how to party! I also seem to have got a dangerous taste for expensive Port wine, that stuff is tasty :)

The old town is really beautiful, if a little dilapidated in places, but there is a big push for regeneration at the moment so you frequently find shiny renovated buildings right next to ones where you can see the sky through the roof. Everything is seemly randomly placed and mismatched, which give the place real charm, and is a bit of a contrast to orderly Georgian Bath! We explored on foot and also got to do a river trip, so plenty of tourist pics for you ;)



View from the town hall balcony

Clérigos church tower, was the tallest building in Portugal when completed in 1763

City centre olive grove
Famous Lello and Irmao bookshop, unfortunately no pics allowed inside





Sea mist rolling up the river, expecting a pirate ship any moment!


Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Accidental Stash

I appear to have accidentally accumulated a fabric stash! I started my sewing journey with good intentions - only purchase fabric for specific projects (I can see all you other sewists laughing now). Ha! That didn't last very long of course! Too many beautiful fabrics, and too little time. Plus half the fun of sewing is planning future makes. Now that I am finally moved in to my new house and have access to my machine again, I am plotting and planning. Here are a few pieces from my stash, and potential plans for them, any suggestions? I know I could use some more neutrals and plains, especially as the boyfriend is on my selfless sewing list!

Some curtain-weight fabrics, the flowery one of which I have previously used for an Elisalex, which I love. About a metre of each, I hope to use one or both to test the Kate and Laney Tap shorts pattern, view B with the big pleats for me!


Some fun lightweight jersey. Not really sure what to do with this one, only bought a metre for some reason, so maybe a Deer and Doe Plantain, or perhaps a Grainline Hemlock if I can squeeze it on. Thank you for all the free patterns you amazing people!


Some stripey linen that I have owned for way to long without doing anything with. Got three metres of this I think. I was originally going to use it to make another Grainline Archer, but I'm now thinking I might use it to make the Lilou dress in Tilly's lovely book, with the awesome pleated skirt! I haven't had much luck getting the Elisalex bodice to fit properly (see this fitting disaster area), so I'm thinking I might start afresh with a different pattern. I know it is just because I don't really know what I'm doing, but perhaps a change will help my patience!





Crazy African wax prints! Bought from Middlesex textiles which is really quite cheap, prices are for six metre lengths, and most prints are less than £20. Not 100% decided on what to do with these, I spilt with my recent sewing convert friend, so have 3m of each. Probably a dress from the horses and a gathered skirt from the crazy green. Maybe some fun PJ bottoms?

And a quick project to get the sewing muscle memory working again (curtains next!). My keychain lanyard broke, so after seeing this post on Made Peachy I thought I might as well make my own. I used ribbon and the hardware from the old, so it was a very cheap and easy job :)

What are your sewing plans? Autumn sewing already or well behind like me?!

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

Grasses

Heath Bedstraw

Yellow flag iris

Possibly wild Thyme

Bird's-foot-trefoil

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 :)