Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Japanese inspired Buchanans!

After making my Paul Frank dressing gown using Gather's Buchanan Dressing Gown pattern I have had a few requests from friends to make them one of their very own.

First up is for a friend I am visiting in San Francisco next week. She bought me this beautiful double sided Japanese cotton from Tokyo with instructions to make something nice out of it.
The fabric is a mid-weight cotton which is printed with pretty red cherry blossoms on one side then a geometric sashiko-style print on the reverse. Mel now has a lovely dressing gown to remember her fab Tokyo trip!
Due to fabric restrictions I had to slightly shorten the length of the dressing gown but as she is a good couple of inches shorter then me I think it will be perfect for her. 



My next make is for my boyfriend's sister, Karen. She absolutely LOVES pandas and when I saw this fabric I knew it had to be a Buchanan dressing gown for her too! In 2005 Mel, Karen, Chris (my bf) and myself visited Tokyo and saw pandas in Ueno zoo. Karen was in her element!


Detail shots of both dressing gowns:






I added ribbon into the seam on the panda version so you can tie the dressing gown closed to prevent the inner front from slipping down. I only thought of this modification after completing the red cherry blossom version. It's a nice idea that I will use for future Buchanan's.





I am really happy with how these dressing gowns turned out. The construction was so much easier having made one before and I used French Seams again throughout for a neater finish. It is the perfect pattern for a gift and I already have ideas for my sister-in-law for her Christmas present. If I start now maybe it will be finished in time for December!

Do you have a go-to sewing pattern for gifts?

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Michael Brennand-Wood Workshop

Michael Brennand-Wood
Michael Brennand-Wood
Ever since seeing one of Michael Brennand-Wood's art pieces at Cartwright Hall in Bradford in 2007 I have been a big fan of his eclectic style. Born in Bolton he knew from an early age that he loved making and creating with all types of materials. His grandparents were a major influence in his fascination with making as they taught him sewing, embroidery and engineering skills. You can see this juxtaposition of delicacy and more brutal elements in his work.

I spotted a July workshop with Michael at the Selvedge shop in Archway earlier in the year I didn't hesitate to book it as a end of school term treat. The theme of the workshop was 'Lines of Thought'. He started by discussing his work, showed us amazing experiments and some of his final art pieces. The main focus of the day was to just be free to try things out and have fun.

Here are some of the art pieces he showed us for inspiration:







There were five of us on the workshop and after seeing the above art pieces we were raring to go.
I started by wrapping a wooden frame with threads, ribbons, fabric and washi tape.


Then I began adding string, beads, ribbon, washi tape, paper maps and wires.







The workshop was lots of fun. We all enjoyed using the hand drill to twist wires to trap and wrap threads, fabrics and other textures. It has been a great taster for experimentation and exploring the properties of different materials that I am sure to develop further in the future.

Check out lots of other cool crafty blogs at #handmademonday organised by Julia of Sum of their Stories.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Hand-Made Zig-Zag Sketchbook

I have always been fascinated with zig-zag or concertina sketchbooks but they can be quite pricey little numbers. Here is a cost effective way of making a sketchbook for not very much money at all.

Materials and Equipment:
  • A1 cartridge paper
  • Card x 2 A6 (mount-board / grey board / general card)
  • Glue
  • Double-sided tape
  • Ribbon or string
  • Scissors / craft knife / paper trimmer
I re-used grey board which can be found on the back of good quality sketchbooks and some left-over mount-board for the front cover. Of course you can use any type of card for this sketchbook and decorate them in a variety of ways. I am planning another blogpost on this idea soon.

Onto the instructions...





Double sided tape is used to hold the ribbons in place here as it is a strong hold. If you were using a PVA glue or mod-podge craft glue that would work perfectly well too.





I will report back later when my new hand-made sketchbook is full of artwork!

Check out lots of other cool crafty blogs at #handmademonday organised by Julia of Sum of their Stories.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

1980's Dress Re-Fashion

Two weeks ago I bought this bold 1980's dress from Fara charity shop in Islington for £2.00. It is a lovely printed viscose with a nice drape in a cheerful bold red with purple and white floral bouquets.

The fit of the dress was not quite right. The main issue was the too generous bust allowance and shoulder width (even taking into account the 1980's fashion for wider shoulders).


The bodice of the dress has large red buttons at the back opening until the waistline then an elasticated back-band with a zip too. The skirt has an interested gathered section at the front and the seams slightly taper towards the hem. It has a split in the back of the skirt for easier movement.

I decided pretty much straight away that I would cut the dress into two sections so I could have a skirt and a cropped top. I set about this task by ripping the overlocked stitches with my un-picker and removed the zip. I sewed the open seam left by the zip opening and hand-stitched a little rolled hem at the top of the waistband above the gathered elastic.

As for the top, I blind-stitched a hem all the way around, re-positioning the button bands a little higher. I tried the crop top on and the shoulders were still too wide so I put a row of gathering stitches in the ditch of the shoulder seam and secured to the neck facing on the inside.

Now I have two garments to wear from one ill fitting 1980's frock and you can see the skirt in action below. I will get some photos of the cropped top when I get a chance.



Have you re-fashioned any clothes recently?

If you are on Instagram there is a competition in conjunction with the British Heart Foundation to up-cycle garments you buy in their stores. It's called The Big Stitch details of which can be found here. You have until the 31st July to get your entires onto IG tagged with #thebigstitch.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Halcyon Times at Hatfield House

My friend Charlotte and I escaped the craziness of the city for the tranquility of Hertfordshire at the beautiful house and grounds of Hatfield House. Hatfield House is the home of the 7th Marquess and Marchioness of Salisbury and their family. £19 well spent for a full day of culture, calm and creativity. We explored the gorgeous house and quizzed the guides in every room about the interiors and stories of times gone by.

Then onto the cultivated gardens that are designed and managed by Lady Salisbury herself. After a tasty home-made picnic of delectable treats we embarked on one of the recommended woodland walks around the grounds. After our meandering stroll we chilled out for a second picnic of the day and a spot of watercolour painting.

We took full advantage of the 11 - 5 opening times and made our way to the train station just 2 minutes walk from the entrance gates at about 5pm.

Insiders tip: If you sign the back of your ticket and ask the staff to stamp it with the HatfieldHouse stamp you can use it as a season pass to enter the gardens and grounds for the rest of the summer season for free! Charlotte and I have already pencilled in another day trip next month!





Elizabeths holds a rainbow with the inscription “Non sine sole iris”, “No rainbow without the sun”, reminding viewers only the Queen’s wisdom can ensure peace and prosperity.