Thursday, 31 August 2017

Marilla's Top + Top Shop Top

Two new tops. Both from re-fashioned fabric.


First up is a relaxed V neck top by Marilla Walker. It is view D from the Robert's Collection and I have been meaning to make this for a while now. I wanted to use a fabric with a nice drape, cue this M&S wrap skirt that I bought from Traid in Camden a few months ago. I bought it for the black geometric viscose which seemed ripe for a re-fashion.

After unpicking the waist-band and removing eight darts I was very lucky to squeeze this top out of the remaining fabric. I cut the V detailing at the back on the cross-grain to take advantage of the interesting silhouette.
I used French Seams throughout and sewed them down for a faux felled seam - I actually really liked the effect of this technique more on the inside than the 'right way'. Maybe next time I will use this technique on the outside as a feature?


Cool V detail at the back!
I used a black cotton to face the neckline which has given it a nice bit of stability.

There is nothing nicer than a well-behaved facing
Marilla's instructions are great and her construction methods direct you to make a beautifully made garment. Lovely on the inside too (just like Marilla).
When I finished this top I realised my friend Charlotte would love it and so this will be gifted to her tomorrow - I hope she likes it!



Next, a quick and easy re-fashion on a Top Shop dress that I bought in a second hand shop purely because it was 100% silk and it was a bargain at £6.00. It was however one size too small for me. Never fear, I knew I could chop it up into a top as the dress wouldn't fit over my hips. A simple rolled hem later and voila, a new silk top!

Done. Two Autumnal-looking tops ready for the next season.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Summer Sketchbook 2017

















At the end of July I was lucky enough to go to San Francisco with my sister-in-law Karen. We stay with our long-time best mate Mel who lives in Mountain View. She has a lovely apartment where we crash and enjoy the pool, gym, sauna and local places to eat. We had an amazing time and like last year I also decided to take a sketchbook with me to record our adventures. I collect postcards, maps, leaflets, stickers and take a whole bunch of photos to add to the sketchbook. Some of the sketches of Mel and Karen were done from life whilst lounging around the pool!  

Unlike last year when I came home with an almost finished sketchbook , this year it seems I was having too much fun to get much sketching and painting done. It must have been something to do with trips to Santa Cruz in a Mustang convertible, walking through Redwood forests in Big Basin or biking around Stevens Creek nature reserve!

When I completed last year's summer sketchbook I made two colour copies and gifted them to Karen and Mel at Christmas - they are kind of expecting the same again this year so at least I have until December 2017 to get it completed!





This is the equipment I take with me for holiday sketching and painting which all fits into my San Francisco pencil case (of course).

The concertina or zig-zag sketchbook I am using this year is one of Cass Art's own brand. Last year's was from Seawhite. Comparing the two I would have to say the Seawhite has the edge in terms of quality of paper and how it holds the watercolour washes and more intense paintings better.  
A few pencils, fine-liners and Daler Rowney Acrylic paint markers which have pretty great coverage and bold colour.
The Derwent fillable paintbrushes are great if you can't get easy access to water for painting on the go. The Cretacolor watercolour pencils are also very useful for working outside - you can always add water later on in the day for washes.
I have had this mini Windsor and Newton watercolour set for a while now and I love it. You can change the watercolour pans which I often swap with a larger watercolour set I have. Great to mix / match the palette you need for different places.
I am looking forward to adding more of my holiday memories through collage, sketching and painting into my summer sketchbook.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Published Book Illustrations

Way back in February I gave you a sneak peak of some illustrations I was working on for a children's educational text book. The process I used to create these sketches was a straight forward approach. After a few rough sketches, internet research and observational sketches, the initial image is drawn out. I then use a combination of Staedtler fine-tipped pens and Windsor and Newton permanent markers for the cross-hatching, texture and fine detail.

'Think Talk', a critical thinking book for Key Stage One has now been published and I wanted to share the final images with you. The written text tasks are written by Sally Paggetti and Valsa Koshy.







 A few close up sections of the images used in the book. I am really happy that most of the illustrations got used in the final book.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

North, South, East & West London Adventures

I have been enjoying a staycation and have had a few little adventures in London with friends this summer. Here is a summary of my many outings around London with maps and links so you could explore these places for yourself too.

3 mile walk
Setting off at Dalston Junction I explored the Dalston Eastern Curve Gardens for a pot of tea and then visited the outdoor market where I happened upon this rather shabby chic looking fabric shop, Dalston Mill Fabrics.
Next, a leisurely walk towards Stoke Newington where I discovered a gorgeous garden oasis just off the high street called Kynaston Gardens. A refreshment stop at an independent organic supermarket called Harvest N16 then down Church Street which is full of lovely artisan cafes, antiques shops, gift shops and the odd charity shop.
Finally, a chill out on a park bench at Clissold Park before a further amble towards Finsbury Park Tube station.

4 mile walk
I had a few friends staying at the weekend who wanted to see some different sides of London, so we started with a bit of culture at the Tate Modern. We perused the regular galleries and also saw the Alberto Giacometti and Fahrelnissa Zeid exhibitions too. My favourite was the Zeid show because of her beautiful use of colour and abstracted pattern.
We then walked along the Southbank towards London Bridge and took Fenchurch Street towards Whitechapel and the start of Brick Lane. On a Sunday Brick Lane is full of amazing food stalls and we ate huge portions of gorgeous vegetarian food from the Ethiopiques stall.

3.2 mile walk
Starting at Kensington High Street tube I walked towards Holland Park for the Design Museum. My friend Charlotte and I saw the California: Designing Freedom exhibition which has a 2 for 1 ticket deal on until the 28th August if you want to check it out for yourself. I really enjoyed it. It's full of colourful graphic design from the '60's onwards and chronicles the influence of new design and technologies from California (skateboards, apple macs, google) and how it has changed the world.
We had a komucha stop on a bench in Holland Park before walking through Hyde Park towards a cafe called Raw Press on Dover Street. The food was lovely but the service was a little abrupt and unfriendly which was a shame.

1 mile walk
The main reason for this visit was to taste the delights of breakfast at Farm Girl Cafe. Absolutely scrumptious food. Service is a little full on at the weekend because it is so popular but you can overlook that when your food arrives! I had the Buckwheat Pancakes and my friends enjoyed an Acai bowl. Both dishes were lovely!
To walk off the food we ambled down Portobello Road and watched the stall holders getting ready for the day ahead. A great vibe in this part of London on a Sunday morning.

2.2 mile walk
A solo adventure in Vauxhall and Pimlico to get to see some art exhibitions before they finished. First up is the free Newport Street Gallery owned by Damien Hirst. A lovely walk from Vauxhall through the gardens, past the City Farm and onto Newport Street. I saw the penultimate day of the Ashley Bickerton: Ornamental Hysteria exhibition which was a rather strange collection of paintings, assemblages, sculptures and mixed media work.
I walked to the Tate Britain along the river and across Vauxhall Bridge to see the Queer British Art exhibition. Which was pretty quiet on a Saturday morning. There is some great art to see here with a wide range of styles, genres and artists exhibited.

What have you been up to lately?

Sunday, 20 August 2017

CJ Made 5 Year Blogiversary Giveaway Winner!


I had four lovely ladies enter my 5 year blogiversary giveaway.
Kathy E, Sonja, Jenne and Claire all contributed some wonderful comments and ideas about what to do with the above selection of crafty goodness.
I selected Sonja as the winning entry as she is a follower of my blog who had some really fab ideas about what to make with the spoils.
Congratulations Sonja!
Sonja - I have sent you an email requesting your address so I can send you the winnings!

Friday, 18 August 2017

Sew Over It Alex Shirt Dress


I signed up to the Sew Over It Alex Shirt Dress class when there was a 20% off everything promotion a while ago. I opted for the Islington branch as it is much nearer where I live and work. I bought it as an end of term treat after a crazy academic year. I have the skills to make this dress without the need of attending a class but I wanted to use a drapy viscose fabric and I thought it would be nice to have some hand-holding along the way.

Enter the fabric. A fabulous viscose from Stoff and Stil which I bought a while ago after Karen, Foldline, Jane and a whole bunch of other lovely sewing bloggers visited the headquarters and were given a discount code for everybody to use. It is an abstract print with dark charcoal grey, navy, black, white and pink splodges, brushmarks and dashes all over it. I love it. It also has a good weight to it as well.

I began by making a few alterations on the paper pattern straight away. As with all patterns I added 4cm to the sleeve length (even though the style is to roll them up). I also moved the pocket placement up by 2cm because it seemed to sit better on my bust area. The length of the shirt dress is very long even for my 172cm height standards so I left that as it was.



Before I cut out the pattern I pinned the selvedges of the folded fabric all the way down the length to keep it from slipping. This helped enormously when cutting out the shirt back which is on the fold. You could alternatively cut them out flat. I took my time with the construction of the shirt. Pinning then hand basting carefully to avoid any slippage of fabric. I think my efforts paid off as I really like the final dress.


I am really happy with my choice of buttons. I took a trip to Ray Stitch in Islington as I know they have a very good selection of buttons. I wanted something very plain and had chosen completely colourless buttons when at the last minute I spotted these soft pink translucent versions of the same button which I think works SO much better. I used some pink thread from my grandma's stash to continue the pink theme!

The hem was finished with self-made bias tape which took quite a while to make and I will cover that in another blogpost as I took step-by-step photos along the way.

Finally, the finished dress. I styled it with and without a belt and I think I prefer the silhouette in this particular fabric with a belt.
What do you think folks?








I will certainly make another Alex Shirt Dress when I find the right fabric. I don't have any fluid fabrics in my stash at the moment so I will keep an eye out for just the right one over the next few months. I am not in a hurry to buy any new stuff though as I have a whole heap to use before I can allow myself to buy more!