Saturday, 23 September 2017

Reversible By Hand London Victoria Blazer

I only just got around to wearing my recently finished By Hand London Victoria blazer yesterday. This jacket has been 95% finished since April 2017 and I completed the last section of hand-stitching at the end of August. I cut the second blazer out immediately after making my first iteration of the jacket making sure I didn't make the same cutting mistakes as my last one.

In the spirit of Sew Your Stash September this was made with fabric wholly from le stash. The navy suiting fabric I've had for about ten years whilst the red silk Chinese brocade I have owned for probably over 20 years. There was just enough of both fabrics to make up the Victoria blazer.

I modified the lower lapel shape which was fairly easy to do. I made a paper pattern using the original piece  as a guide and angled the lapel including a seam allowance.

As for the construction, I bagged out the jacket by leaving the bottom of the lining / outer open so it could be turned the right way round and carefully hand-stitched together. It was only when sewing the final finish of the jacket it occurred to me it could be reversible, especially since the silk brocade is quite substantial and holds its shape quite well which makes for a decent outer fabric for a jacket.

I'm not sure I will wear the blazer with the brocade on the outside as much as the navy version. I like the hint of red flashing when wearing it the navy way around. What do you think?      

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Now Gallery Wow!

If you can get to North Greenwich before the 24th September I would highly recommend the fabulous Camille Walala exhibition Wahala X Play at the Now Gallery. It's full of Memphis design and Op Art in the form of brightly coloured walls and mirrors arranged in a maze.

It is lots of fun. Before you rush off to see it, the gallery recommend pre-booking free tickets via Eventbrite. You also need to take your shoes off, so break out that brightly coloured nail varnish or socks so you can colour clash with the art!

As I left the gallery a beautiful double rainbow emerged from after a rain storm. It was so cool!

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Vegan Baking Fun

I have tried a couple of sweet treat recipes from Deliciously Ella's blog recently and wanted to share them with you as I tweaked both recipes a little. Both were super yummy and quite healthy because they are made without refined sugar, dairy, wheat or eggs. I have been trying lots 'free-from' recipes recently as my friend Charlotte is vegan and it's always nice to share baked goods with your mates!

First are these lovely Oat, Cinnamon and Raisin Cookies based on this recipe of Ella's which is for her five ingredient cookies (mine ended up with seven ingredients). 

Oat, Cinnamon and Raisin Cookies

I followed 90% of Deliciously Ella's recipe but added 2 teaspoons of cinnamon to give them extra flavour and substituted half a cup of desiccated coconut in place of ground almonds because I didn't have enough ground almonds in stock. They were a hit in my house house as they didn't last long.

120g ground almonds, 1 cup
60g desiccated coconut, 1/2 cup
12 medjool dates, 1 cup
1 tablespoon chia seeds
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
3 tablespoons almond milk
40g raisins

Preheat the oven to 180c, fan setting.
Put all the ingredients (apart from raisins) in a food processor and whizz until it forms a cookie dough. Once mixed, add the raisins and give it a very quick whizz to distribute the raisins evenly throughout the mixture.

Use a tablespoon to take a scoop of the mixture out one at a time, rolling them into balls and placing them on a lined baking sheet. Once you have about 16 round balls, squish them down to form cookie shapes.
Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden. (In the photo above there are only 8 cookies - I only baked half the mixture at a time. I put half in a sealed container in the fridge and cooked another batch the following day).

Next are these scrumptious Sweet Potato and Hazelnut brownies based on this recipe of Ella's. 

Sweet Potato and Hazelnut Brownies

Again this recipes was adapted because I didn't have any ground almonds in stock so I substituted ground hazelnuts instead - but hey, chocolate and hazelnut is a winner! The recipe is about 90% accurate to Ella's brownie recipe but I halved the amount of maple syrup and didn't make the frosting. I think they are sweet enough as they are.

500g of sweet potatoes (about 2 medium)
12 medjool dates
3 tablespoons of pure maple syrup
100g of ground hazlenuts (I ground whole hazelnuts in the food processor)
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
a pinch of salt
100g of ground oats
6 tablespoons of raw cacao powder (I used Green and Blacks coco powder)

Pre-heat the oven to 180C (fan) I had baked a whole tray of sweet potatoes the day before making these brownies so I used 500g and popped them in the blender. In Ella's recipe she has you peel and chop the sweet potaoes into chunks and steam for about twenty minutes, until they become really soft. 
Once they are perfectly soft and beginning to fall apart remove them and add them to a food processor with the pitted dates. I also added the solid coconut oil into the food processor as its not too cold at the moment the coconut oil was fairly soft and mixed well with the potatoes and dates. If the oil is really solid it will combine easier if warm (as per Ella's recipe).

Put the remaining ingredients into a bowl, before mixing in the sweet potato and date combination. Stir well.

I greased the baking tray with a little coconut oil and spread the mixture in the tray. The mixture will not rise during cooking so smooth the top surface to make the brownies look nice when cooked. I cooked the brownies for about forty-five minutes until firm. Remove the tray and allow it to cool for about ten minutes to set. I then cut into squares once the brownies had cooled enough to touch the tray.

Try these recipes for yourself. 100% of the inspiration for these sweet treats comes from Deliciously Ella's blog! (This is not a sponsored post I just really like her food ideas).

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Works in Progress

In the spirit of Sew your Stash September I spent an afternoon cutting out a number of projects ready to sew from my stashed fabric. I may not manage to get all these beauties sewn up by the end of September but I can certainly try my best.

One of these WIP's has been hanging around since last year (Tilly's Cleo Dungaree Dress).

This Cleo is actually 75% finished. I put it on the back burner after loosing interest because it needed some work on fitting. Hopefully I'll get it completed in the next few weeks. The stash fabrics are the burgundy corduroy remnants from my McCalls M6696 and the pink lining fabric I had just enough leftover from my first Colette Ginger skirt.

Next up my second By Hand London Charlotte skirt (first here). This is cut out of the remnants of my Sew Over It Ultimate Shift Dress using this beautiful dark floral mix linen bought from SOI. 

It is hard to see the fabric chosen for my next project. It is a beautiful navy wool crepe that I've had in my stash for ever and I thought it would be perfect for a pair of Sew Over It Cigarette Pants. I used this lovely print remnant from the dress below for the waistband and pockets.

I cut out my third Dixie DIY Bonnell Dress (first and second here) in this beautiful striped / tropical flower print cotton. It was a gift from my friend Sophie from Hong Kong (who always buys me the most lovely fabrics. Previous fabric gifts have been made into this, this, this and this).  Maybe this dress is a little out of season to sew it now?

 And the final item that has been cut out ready to sew is my second McCalls 6696 Shirt Dress in a navy blue printed Chambray I bought from Ray Stitch earlier in the year. Lots to be getting on with!

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Polka Dot Emery Dress

I can't believe it has taken me so long to sew the classic Christine Haynes Emery Dress.

I used two metres of a cheap £2 p/m polka dot viscose that I bought from the Man Outside Iceland at Chapel Street market in Islington. I saw this as a wearable toile if things went well and if it was a disaster it was only £4 and a date with a seam-ripper. 

On a side note I am joining Jo at Stuff Jo Has Made blog who is encouraging us all to Sew Your Stash September! More details here. The three things I have made in September have all been from my stash and I have a pile of garments cut out from stash fabric ready to get sewn up when I get the chance. SYSS is going well so far.

I pretty much followed the instructions to the letter, the only changes I made were how I attached the lining. I used a method I learnt at Sew Over It from the lovely teacher Julie Johnston about hand-stitching the bodice lining to the arm hole for a neater finish. 

Self lined bodice hand-stitched at the armhole and waistline
I had to add a centre seam in the bodice lining due to shortage of fabric

The insides all look nice and neat here

Skirt seams were zig-zagged I haven't worked out how to do French Seams on skirts with internal side-seam pockets yet
Overall I am pretty happy with the dress. The skirt section is a great length for me, but I suspect the bodice is possibly a little big. It is quite loose at the waist. On a positive note it is very comfortable which is important feature if I wear it to work (secondary school art and technology teacher). I may look into slightly adjusting the bodice for version two.

Friday, 1 September 2017

North West to Central London Adventures

The first day of September proved to be a glorious day! A good time for a long walk.

6.9 Mile Walk
Such a beautiful day after a pretty miserable week of grey drizzle and dropping temperatures. It was surprisingly hot and sunny all day.
Setting off at Finchley Road station I walked up the hill on Frognall Road, through Hampstead on Spaniards Road towards Kenwood House. A leisurely picnic stop in the walled gardens fuelled the next stage of the walk through Hampstead Heath, past the ponds where I filled a container full of blackberries (not the biggest or juiciest I have ever seen but tasty).
Next stop at the top of the hill near Parliament Hill Lido to appreciate the fantastic vista of the London skyline.
Then homeward bound through Kentish Town, Camden Market, a quick walk along Regent's Canal through Regents Park and finally Great Portland Street.
Hampstead Village
The beautiful gardens around Kenwood House
The handsome Kenwood House, Barbara Hepworth sculpture and Hampstead Heath pond 
The view from Parliament Hill, blackberry picking, Kentish Town terraced houses, blackberry smoothie at home