Saturday, 18 June 2016

Meal Prepping Healthy Lunches

I take a home-made lunch to work everyday. A while ago (when I was addicted to Instagram) a friend mentioned that there was a 'movement' out there called #mealprep or #mealprepping.

There are people all around the world in the kitchen (usually) on a Sunday night meal prepping their lunches for the week #sundaymealprep.

I thought it would be interesting to photograph my lunches to get involved in the #mealprep movement. Enjoy images of my lunches over a 12-week period.

Turkey or chicken based lunches:

Boiled Egg based lunches:

Home-made baked beans:


I generally base my lunch on some form of protein first; usually turkey, chicken, eggs or baked beans.
I then add fresh salad ranging from avocado, cress, tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, green beans, radishes, celery, grated carrot and spinach.
Depending on the week I have ahead I will add carbohydrates like quinoa, sweet potatoes or oat-cakes.
The next ingredients are for extra flavour or texture like olives, pickled gherkins, sauerkraut, pomegranate, fresh mint, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, raisins, chilli flakes, mustard or smoked paprika.

As for the snacks I usually aim for fruit with yoghurt or rice-cakes and turkey. More time-consuming snacks such as oat-flour pancakes are for special occasions or lovely strawberry chia-seed jam. If anybody is interested in how I made the pancakes / chia jam / baked beans let me know in the comments and I can do a separate post about it.

All these food photos have made me hungry so I'm off to eat some breakfast!
Enjoy the weekend.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Tate Modern New Switch House

The Switch House
Today I had the chance to see the new Tate Modern extension by architects Herzog & de Meuron before it opens to the public on the 17th June. The visit was part of a special schools only event called ASSEMBLY to encourage younger people to engage with art. The new building 'The Switch House' is striking and bold. Lots of polished concrete, glass and beautiful wooden stairs. One of the aims of the new build was to showcase more culturally diverse work and that of women artists.

The Switch House
With 3,000 school children invited to the event you can imagine the atmosphere was rather frenetic. The nerves of the many volunteers and curators of the Tate was palpable as thousands of Primary and Secondary school kids watched, looked at and explored the art work on display.

I am certainly going to return at a quieter time to enjoy the new Switch House and re-discover old favourites in the re-hang of the Boiler House.

I will leave you with a number of rather striking pieces of art - I apologise that I didn't catch get the names of all the artists in my photos below.
Jane Alexander
Jane Alexander
Ai Weiwei

Tony Cragg

Louise Bourgeois
Louise Bourgeois

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Navy Simplicity 2154 Pencil Skirt

I have been very proud of my stash-busting antics this year. In the spirit of the Re-Fashioners 2016 this skirt is even better than a regular stash-bust but a re-fashion from a bustle skirt I made over ten years ago. I bought the fabric from Fabworks in Dewsbury when I lived in West Yorkshire and it began its life as this rather fancy skirt which I wore with pride quite a lot when I first made it. I held onto it for years but it was rarely worn.

Luckily due to the simple construction method for the bustle skirt (esssentially a zip holding the folded fabric together at the back) after the hefty task of un-picking the triple-stitched zip it was back to a single piece of fabric again.

It was only at this point I was able to see what amount of fabric there was to play with and what pattern would work best. I had in my mind a pattern I have used before, the Simplicity Vintage 2154 Pencil Skirt. After MMM2016 I noticed my red pencil skirt gets worn a lot for work so the more sensible navy blue fabric would seem like the perfect pairing.  This pattern popped up on the Great British Sewing Bee episode this week as Tracy used the pattern for her 1960's style jacket inspired by the memories of her mum!

Onto the construction. I gave my past self a pat on the back as I had added quite a few notes to the pattern instructions which certainly helped. In my red version I had used an invisible zip but this time I used the suggested regular zip and sort of hashed up a lapped zip insertion.
It is not my best work but as they say practise, practise, practise. The fabric doesn't press particularly well so I suspect it is a wool and synthetic blend of unknown sources. 

The waistband and hem are all hand-stitched which I think has a better finish for a skirt like this. I chose a 2" hem to give it a little weight at the bottom. A simple vent pleat at the back makes this pencil skirt very wearable as there is no restriction for things like running for the bus / climbing on chairs to put up classroom displays etc...

I extended the waistband overlap a bit more as I noticed on my red version I felt it was a little short and added several press-studs to keep it in place. The bright blue bias-binding you can see at the edge of the side zip is a Hong Kong finished seam which I have added to the internal seams as the fabric was fraying and the zig-zag stitch I had originally planned to use looked a bit messy.

If I make this skirt again I may move the zip to the centre back seam as I find it tricky to fit the waist and hip curves and add the zip in position in the right spot. On the red version I had to sew the zip in three times due to bad fit! I managed a 'reasonable' effort this time around. It is not perfect but it doesn't offend me enough to change it!

Overall, I think this will be a good addition to my working wardrobe.

Pattern: Simplicity 2154 Vintage style 1960's Pattern = Free (from stash)
Fabric: 1 1/2 metres of wool synthetic blend twill from Fabworks = Free (from stash)
Zip: 12" navy zip = Free (from stash)
Bias-Binding: Blue Bias-binding from Ray Stitch = Free (from stash)
Interfacing: Free (from stash)
Press Studs: Inherited from my Gran's stash! = Free
Gutterman Thread: Navy from stash

Total: Free!

Have you got any Go-To patterns? 

Monday, 6 June 2016

Black & White BHL Flora Dress

I started the By Hand London Flora dress in April and have worked on it a few hours at a time finally finishing it yesterday. It is not a quick make. With this sort of dress you want to take your time and take care with it.

I have had the pattern in my stash for quite some time. The fabric has also been in my possession since a trip to Birmingham in 2014 to see my friend Hayley who happens to live in Moseley the home of the lovely haberdashery that is Guthrie and Ghani. I bought two metres of this beautiful viscose fabric for about £8 per metre.

The Flora pattern calls for over two metres of fabric so this is where the fun began. I had to put a centre front seam in the front of bodice version one because I couldn't fit it onto the fold. I also had to use the selvedge for the skirt centre back seam.

The fun of paper pattern tetris! 
I hadn't intended to make the dropped hem version of the dress and as you can also see I had to fold the pattern back to the next size down on the skirt length as I just didn't quite have enough fabric.

The instructions were very clear throughout but due to a few silly mistakes I had to unpick the bodice a few times. You sew. You unpick. You learn.

The centre front seam is barely noticeable due to the busy print
I didn't have a concealed zip in the stash so used this 14" black zip
The overall fit of the Flora dress is OK, the skirt is beautifully swingy but the bodice needs a little more taking out of the side seams and also at the back where I inserted the zip.

The bodice is fully lined with some white organic Bamboo from 'le stash' that I bought from MacCulloch and Wallis last summer. I cut out the lining for both the bodice and skirt but decided just to line the bodice as the Bamboo affected the drape of the viscose skirt.

The lined bodice with satin bias-binding on the waistband to stabilise and neaten the edge
What hand-stitching?

The lining is hand stitched at the waist and zip. I decided to use some black satin bias binding to finish the hem of the skirt and luckily had enough left to use around the waist of the bodice lining. This addition seemed to stabilise the lining fabric and also gave me a definite edge to sew with as the slippery bamboo was prone to fraying.

The faux flat-felled seams of sorts with the satin bias-bound hem

As I had decided to forgo the lined skirt I realised I needed to tidy up the seams on the inside of the skirt so created a faux flat-felled of sorts. I ironed the seam allowances open then tuned each side under and sewed them both down parallel to the central seam. It hard to explain but you will probably get the gist when you see the photos.

Overall I am pretty happy with this dress. The fabric makes a huge difference to the feel of the garment as it has a lovely weight, handle and drape. I am looking forward to wearing it somewhere nice as I realise this is the first 'party dress' I have sewn!

Enjoying the sunshine in Regent's Park

Luckily all the components of this dress were from my stash rather than purchased specifically for this project. Costings are as follows:

Pattern: By Hand London Flora = £9.00
Shell Fabric: Two metres of Guthrie and Ghani Black and White patterned Viscose = £16.00
Lining Fabric: One metre of MacCulloch and Wallis Bamboo lining = £6.00
Satin Bias Binding: Three metres from stash
Zip: 14" black from stash
Gutterman Thread: Black and white from stash

Total: £31.00

Saturday, 4 June 2016

London Kings Cross Granary Square Adventures

I met a friend on Friday for a gorgeous brunch at Caravan Kings Cross. After we scoffed some lush food we went for a wander around the area. It has changed so much in the five years I have lived in London and we came across some beautiful little events at Granary Square.

We set off to look at the London Pond Club outdoor natural swimming pool (behind UAL buildings) and stumbled upon PunkX exhibition that showcases the early work of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren circa 1967. There was an impressive collection of clothing from their Kings Road SEX boutique including the now infamous Sex Pistols 'God Save the Queen' t-shirts and the bondage inspired trousers and jackets. I love the punk attitude of just giving it a go!

The amazing Skip Garden and London Pond Club (a further 5 minutes walk behind Granary Square) was very inspiring with such beautiful plants and inventive ways for urban gardening. I am definitely going back as they have a lovely little cafe too.