Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Fifties Atomic

Onto the second of my evening projects! This one has been on my 'to-do' for some time.

Lately I've been finding myself more and more drawn to 1950s design, I've always been a big fan of 60s style but the more I look at decor and fashion from the 50s the more I fall in love with it. I love how clean and modern it looks, the prints and patterns look amazingly abstract and modern, but still with such a 'retro' charm, which somehow seems fresher and less cliched than the typical 60s look.

In particular I've been enjoying looking at the 'scientific' inpired prints that were so popular at the time, particularly Lucienne Day's designs which look almost as though they could be chemistry diagrams or botanical drawings. Her designs were used for wallpaper and fabric prints in popular shops such as Heals, and I love seeing how similar prints were incorporated into the home for what still seems a very fresh look.

With in mind I wanted to bring a little of the midcentury modern look into my flat, and as we needed a small table lamp to brighten up a dim corner of the flat it seemed a perfect oportunity for experimentation.

Cue one rather boring cream table lamp from Wilkinsons:

A fat quarter of Robert Kaufman print fabric found for £3 on ebay, sewed into a simple 'skirt' shaped slip cover:

Et Voila! One 1950s atomic inspired table lamp!

I'm delighted with how it turned out. It looks particularly lovely with the light shining through the fabric but it was hard to take a picture with it on that showed the fabric properly.

Two evening projects

In the run up to Christmas I was being incredibly over optimistic about what I could achieve before the holidays, with big plans for a new skirt, dress, and trousers to wear over the festive season... Luckily as it got nearer I realised how over ambitious I was being and that if I tried to do all that I wouldn't actually ENJOY making any of them, so I took a little break from dressmaking to make a couple of super-quick and easy projects that can be knocked up in an evening.

The first was a tiny evening bag from Made By Rae's free 'Buttercup Bag' pattern:

I cannot recommend this pattern highly enough! So easy to follow, I barely needed to read the instructions and it felt like the bag made itself, but the pleated shape gives it a professional looking finish. Also it can be made from just a fat quarter of fabric (plus lining), so is an excellent way to use up leftovers. I used some green and cream striped floral cotton that I bought as part of a fat quarter bundle, and some left over buttercup (ha!) yellow acetate lining from a recent project. Once I'd made the basic shape I got really over-excited by all the possibilities for finishing touches but settled for a little button and ribbon bow trim. All in all a wonderful project that can be made from start to finish in evening.

The one downside is that the bag is rather on the small side, so really just an evening bag. I photocopied the pattern onto A3 to make a larger version for myself, but check out Tilly's version, recreated as very cute make up bags:

I plan to make lots of all three versions for future gifts!

The second project was a simple covered lampshade but there will be a separate post on that to follow. Having been so obsessed with dressmaking lately it was nice to make a couple of simple projects without any obstacles to overcome, I do love a sewing challenge but it was a lovely break to do some fairly mindless relaxation sewing.

Monday, 27 December 2010

New beginning...

Happy Christmas!

I hope it's been a merry one. It's been a long time since I updated my blog. Oh isn't it always?? Well, yes, but hopefully not for much longer! In the past few months my occasional hobby of vintage dressmaking has turned into a terrible, all consuming, helpless addiction (you know when you're selling most of your 'shop-bought' clothes on ebay, for money to buy fabric, to make homemade ones? Yes that is me...), and alongside my other obsession with seeking out and getting lost in so many wonderful vintage sewing blogs I have decided to step things up a gear and transform this rather absent minded little space into an all-singing, all-dancing REGULARLY updated blog to record my sewing exploits of the year to come.

Oh yes!

I have never been quite sure what the aim of this blog is but I think it's all becoming clear in my mind now! I just have to grasp actually taking some pictures of my finished garments first... To practice this I think I will kick things off with some pictures of some of the projects I have completed in 2010, so hopefully there will be some pretty frequent posts coming up soon to get into the swing of things. Also planned are some features on the blogs that have inspired me. And of course some general posts featuring other lovely finds from across the interweb, inside recipe books and hidden in charity shops....

For now here's some frivolous festive fun while I plan my next post.

Candles from the 1950s1940s and 50s festive greetings

View on Christmas Day

After Christmas dinner

Clean sheets for Christmas!

Back soon, Sarah xxx

Monday, 18 October 2010

Recipe time

Oh my, Autumn is definitely in full swing now! I'm sitting on my sofa with the heating turned up listening to the wind rattle the windows... Seems the perfect time to share a warming seasonal soup recipe. Pumpkin soup is one of those things that to me, has always sounded better than it tastes - I always imagine it as rich and hearty and flavoursome, but I've never quite managed to perfect a recipe. But this one which I've adapted from the Abel and Cole cookbook seems to tick all the right boxes! I think roasting the pumpkin first gives it the depth of flavour which has been missing from my previous attempts, and the chilli gives it a nice spicy kick which keeps the sweetness of the apple and cinnamon from being too, err, pudding-y? The original recipe uses plain toasted pumpkin seeds, but I had a jar of tamari seeds ready made so I used them and it worked really well. I like to toast large quantities and keep them in an air tight jar to sprinkle on things at will, they pep up a salad like nobody's business.

Good lord I am rambling, but recipes excite me! On to the important bit -

Pumpkin and Apple Soup with Tamari Toasted Seeds

1 small pumpkin, peeled and cut into chunks
1 large bramley apple, peeled and cut into chunks
olive oil for roasting
sprinkle of chilli flakes
sprinkle of cinnamon
drizzle of maple syrup
salt and pepper
vegetable stock
squeeze of lemon or lime
soya cream/yoghurt (to garnish)

Tamari Toasted Seeds
mixture of seeds
(I like - pumkin, sunflower, flax, fennel and cumin)
good pinch of basil
good pinch of oregano
splash of tamari or shoyu sauce
black pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 C.
  2. Place the pumpkin and apple on a roasting tray, toss with a glug of olive oil and sprinkle with the chilli flakes and cinnamon. I prefer just a hint of spices so you get the flavour of the pumpkin, but you could add more if you like a kick! Drizzle over a little maple syrup and roast in the oven for approximately half an hour, turning the veg occasionally. It wants to be tender, but not too browned.
  3. Meanwhile, place the seeds in a dry non stick pan, and place over medium heat, occasionally shaking the pan, until they begin to pop. Continue to cook until they are lightly toasted, then add the herbs and black pepper. Finally, add the tamari or shoyu - quickly pour a splash in, then immediately stir the seeds with a wooden spoon to coat them evenly. cook for a few moments more until the sauce has reduced and the seeds are dry and crisp. You shouldn't need to add salt as the tamari is very salty. Remove from the heat.
  4. Once the veg is tender, place the contents of the roasting tray into a large heavy based pan. Pour on enough stock to cover the veg and a bit more (depending on how thick you like your soup -I tend to go for a thick puree that I can dilute later if necessary). Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

In other news, I finished my garland! I am very pro seasonal decorations, by which I mean decorations which celebrate the SEASON. It annoys the hell out of me when shops and places put up Christmas decorations in October, what about the Autumn??? Anyways, excuse the background of my messy messy soupy kitchen, I kind of forgot that our hatch is see through when I took the pictures, I really should have tidied it first. (It is a far more accurate representation of my kitchen than my kitchen post though....)

I hope everyone else is enjoying Autumn? I have become a bit sick of just wittering about myself on this blog and want to make it a bit more interactive, so if on the rare chance that there is anyone reading, please leave a comment! What is your favourite Autumn food to make or eat? How do you celebrate the changing of the seasons? What do you like best about Autumn?

To further this new interactive approach, I am also going to start a series of posts highlighting some of my favourite blogs that I follow regularly. Coming very soon!

Sarah xxx

p.s. small note - after posting yesterday how much I wished there was Apple Day in Bristol this year, my boyfriend found out that yesterday only WAS flippin Apple Day! Honestly I was crushed. I felt like I did when I accidentally went to school the day it major-snowed and was the only person in my class.

p.p.s. I meant it. PLEASE please leave a comment! Even just to say hello! I am going to get my commenting hat on and spread some commenty goodwill on the blogosphere, see you out there somewhere

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Hullo Autumn

Have I mentioned before how much I love Autumn? (And gourds?)

Yesterday I popped into the lovely posh toyshop on Gloucester Road to look for present inspiration for my niece, but ended up buying presents for myself, in the form of nine felt Autumn vegetables, to make a seasonal garland for my living room. I might even take down the paper snowflakes that have accidentally been up since last Winter (then I can make new ones this Winter, woop!) Seasonal decorations should not just be confined to Christmas, oh no.

In other news, I finished my patchwork quilt/duvet hybrid! The top is quilted, but it also has a extra back with poppers to put a duvet in, so it can be a duvet cover, or go on its own on top of the bed, clever huh? I finished it at just the right time, when it's suddenly very much AUTUMN. It's really great Autumn weather, golden sunshine and chilly nights - I think the fornight before clocks changing is one of my favourites, not yet having given into the ever-present dark of Winter, but feeling all cosy in my little flat with blankets and candles. Plus I've been rewatching Gilmore Girls from the very beginning, it's the perfect, cosy comforting Autumn viewing... I wish there was Apple Day at St Werburghs this year, I've never felt so much like I could be living in Gilmore Girls at when I went to Apple Day...

Other than that the days have been filled with obsessive watching of Mad Men, Uno paying, baking crumble, parties with bonfires, listening to Nancy Sinatra and planning sewin projects. I keep meaning to do a separate sewing post, but I know I'll never get round to it so I'll squeeze it in here, after finishing this post I'm going to cut out this vintage Maudella dress pattern in lovely bright blue gabardine from John Lewis haberdashery, ooh!

I also got this pattern on Ebay so I can start knocking up lots of lovely gingham shirts for George, my first men's pattern, I'm kind of excited.

Right, Sunday is slipping away and I've got pottering a plenty to do... For tonight's dinner I am planning an Autumnal treat of crepes filled with mushroom ragout... so ta-ra for now xx

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Come on in my kitchen

A slight deviation from my usual blog topics and a post on one of my most favourite of things, home! Or, more specifically, kitchens...

Kitchens have always been my favourite room in the house, right from when I was very little, arranging the furniture in my dollshouse, to now, slowly taking over my the tiny kitchen in my little flat with all manner of vintage kitchen clutter.... Even when we were teenagers having a bad time in secondary school, me and my best friend Kim would phone each other up before school on blustery grey days to say "bring a tea bag", so we could spend breaktimes hiding out in the little pretend Food Technology kitchens at the top of the science block, drinking tea and watching all the cooler kids sneaking off up the lane to smoke.

This post was inspired by my second trip to Jacob's Antique Market in Cardiff, where I picked up the two Kathie Winkle dinner plates above (having given myself specific dinner plate purchasing limitations). There is just something about 60s and 70s kitchen things that make me feel all warm, the orangey-brown colours remind me of my friend Anna's kitchen when I was in primary school, tiny with a brown rayburn and brick tiles, my heart is so full of happy kitchen memories!

(illustration by Ruby Star Rising)

Actually I credit Anna's house for a lot of my favourite things today, it was the first place I was allowed to walk to on my own (being only a 5 minutes walk through a field thus avoiding any roads) and I used to stay there almost every weekend but it would always be a last minute thing - an invitation to stay for supper followed by me and Anna dragging piles of bedding (candy striped flannel sheets and floral duvets) out of the airing cupboard to make a bed on her floor... Such a safe and welcoming place, I hope if I ever have a family our home can be like that to other people's children. At the moment all my homey/mothering instincts are inflicted on people too tipsy to walk home and touring bands!

Anyways, a bit of a long post but I wanted to share some more pictures of kitchen inspiration.

My mum and dad's cat in the kitchen window of their first home

Kitchen inspiration from Design Sponge
I really want this print I saw at the V&A

Hornsea spice jars
I couldn't possibly do a post on kitchens without lovely pyrex

That's it for now, I have a post on quilts and vintage patterns in the making.. check back soon! Sarah x

Saturday, 21 August 2010

KnickKnacks, Cocktails and Jazz...

Gosh, I am sorry for the late-ness of my updating! My ultimate blog goal is 2 entries a week, with things to show of what I have been doing... I made a new dress this week, with SLEEVES, which is jolly exciting as I've never done that before, I shall save that for my second update though because for now there is catching up to do.

Picking up from where I left off, we journeyed off to Cardiff for a weekend of fun, to visit George's mum and see Calvin Johnson play. While we were there we went to Jacob's Antique Market, which is just amazing, three Aladdin's cave like floors packed with beautiful and crazy objects - crockery, furniture, clothes, military things, sci-fi memorabilia, kitchen equipment... I was on a budget so didn't buy anything but my imaginary shopping basket was full of 1960s coffee sets and vintage brooches. I will go back with money for sure! If you're in Cardiff I heartily recommend it, you can easily spend a good half a day there AND they have a little tucked away greasy spoon cafe in the midst of it all. Top banana!

So that was the weekend before last, and then last weekend I finally had my (very) belated birthday party! The theme was 1960s Cocktail Parties and may I just say how impressed I was by the effort everyone went to! All our lovely friends came looking super sharp and with contributions to the bar, and all in all it was super fun! I wore the dress I made in the Spring - a vintage pattern made up in (ebay-ed) liberty print, I always had 60s cocktail parties in mind while making it.

This photo is a bit unrepresentative of what the night was actually like as George and I were just messing around before any guests arrived, sadly that was the only dancing... But we listened to lots of jazz records and drank martinis and whiskey sours, my new favourite drink!

Whiskey Sour:

2 parts bourbon whiskey
1.5 parts lemon juice
1 tsp sugar/sugar syrup

Stir together and serve over ice with a twist.

Oh my they were so good. Steve mixed some lethal Old Fashioned's too, which played a significant role in my overall tipsy-ness. Hee. I want to have another cocktail party now! We are still working our way through the left overs from the bar... I think I'm addicted to super sour cocktails, my most recent discovery is vodka and grapefruit juice (a 'greyhound' apparently), yum o yum. I love classic cocktails... they seems so much classier than the terribly named ones you get today, full of old-fashioned glamour. We bought proper cocktail glasses and I'm getting far too used to sashaying about the kitchen in my pretty dresses drinking cocktails and feeling sophisticated in the most lovely of ways!

As the last two weekends have been busy ones I'm enjoying a nice quiet at-home sort of weekend for this one. While I've been writing this there's been a very dramatic thunderstorm going on and I've been feeling all cosy, sitting with the lamps of, drinking lapsang souchong and listening to Sufjan Stevens getting drowned out by the hammering rain. Lovely! Another post soon as I have my dress and some beautiful 50s blouse patterns to share.

Sarah x

Friday, 6 August 2010

Hey wait a minute Mr Postman

Today was a three parcel day, yes yes, I have been ebay shopping! I think one of the nicest things about ebay is getting parcels, and they're not just any old mail-order type parcels, it really is like getting proper packages as they have been handwrapped in different ways by different people, which is MUCH nicer.

One was my birthday present to myself, a vintage 50s duvet cover from Etsy which I bought back in March and has been around the world twice since then, but finally it arrived on my doorstep! Sadly it turned out to be a rather expensive purchase as first it was lost in the post for several months, leaving me thinking I would never be able to see it, but then it turned up back in the USA again! So, a second lot of postage charges (plus extra for priority service so as not to take any risks!) and a customs and handling charge later, and here it is, on my bed, and I can truly say that it was worth the wait and the expense, for it is beautiful! And a perfect excuse for Clean Sheets On The Bed which is one of my most favourites of life's small pleasures.

Also this week I've received 2 lovely vintage sewing patterns for blouses, photos to follow soon, I'm rather excited as I've got dresses pretty much down to a t now but blouses are a whole new adventure! So today has been pretty good, parcels and then a lovely evening involving hairstyle experimentation, card games and packing for a weekend away...

I had a practice run doing a beehive, which is how I plan to have my hair for my belated birthday party - the theme is the party scene in Breakfast at Tiffany's, not rigidly so, that was just the best way I could think of summing up the sort of party I want it to be - sort of a Summer night, apartment block, 60s cocktail party, all listening to jazz lps and swooshing around in vintage cocktail dresses drinking martinis. The perfect excuse for a beehive! I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out for a first attempt - I used Strawberry Koi's video tutorial, which was so brilliantly easy to follow. I didn't go for mega height - it's only got one kneesock (yes, kneesock) in there for volume, but I like it very much!

Wearing my hair like this gave me a strong urge to sashay around my bedroom listening to 60s girl groups, so I had a pretty perfect evening listening to the Shirelles, making up the bed with new bedding, and packing for our little weekend trip to Cardiff to see Calvin Johnson.

We are going tomorrow evening so we can spend Saturday going to the the bootsale and Jacob's antique market, we tried to go last time we were there but it was shut, so I could only gaze longingly up at the windows which looked absolutely crammed with treasures... I'm so excited! Also on a very tight budget so I will have to behave myself and not get too carried away, but I hope I end up with at least one small find.

Sleep time now as it is past my bedtime, but there will be a sewing post coming up soon, I've got a whole load of projects on the go and am desperate to get started with blouses...

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Missions acomplished!

A special little extra post because I just realised I've achieved two of my 2010 resolutions on my blog 'To Do' list! Ace. I'm glad I made the list because it was super satisfying ticking them off. I shall go to bed feeling pretty pleased now :o)

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Bedtime ramblings

Hullo there. I am nice and cosy writing this. A new computer means that we now have wireless internet, and so I am able to write this tucked up in bed with my laptop on my, err, lap! I like escaping to my bedroom sometimes. Of course I share it with George so it is not completely MY room, but as he has his little music room to escape to it's sort of understood that the bedroom is my little place. We're both kind of protective of our own space.

You know, it's nothing special or anything, but it has nice little corners of my things, and lovely colourful vintage bedding... My favourite times to be here are late afternoon when the sun shines in and the mirror balls sparkle, and before bed, especially on Summer night with the window open and radio four on the radio, just pottering and winding down before sleep. Like now! Eventually I'd like paint it a different colour and to set up a sewing corner, with shelves for all my haberdashery bits and bobs and a wee folding down table thingumy for my sewing machine, and then it really will feel like my room. One day! In the meantime I like coming here just to read or potter.

Continuing with the theme of sewing, I have loads of projects I'm desperate to make and don't know where to start... My new job means OFFICE WEAR (or 'Business Relevent' clothes, according to the dress code, err, what?), I don't know, something about all those years at school being forced to supress any hint of individuality means any sort of strict dress code just really grates on me. I can't stand just being an identikit city office worker, ugh. BUT, my plan is to combat this by making up all my favourite dress patterns in office friendly plain materials.

So far I've made up Simplicty/New Look 6799 in navy blue, using the flared skirt version (pink one above) and it worked out really well, and is totally office friendly with heels and cardi, but still very much ME. I plan to make the straight skirt version in black too. Photos of both to follow!

My office fabric mission did lead to the accidental purchase of some pretty floral fabric though, oops. But it is so rare to find nice fabric these days, it's the one thing I truly hate about dressmaking, I keep finding beautiful patterns which I visualise made up in lovely vintage-esqe florals, but it's so hard to find what I have in mind. So I pounced on this when I saw it...

The fabricland stuff is the creamy-pink one, the bluey-green is from my Mum's scrap bag and just about my favourite fabric EVER, I was delighted to find this quite sizeable piece in among the other odds and ends. You just don't get fabric like that anymore, sigh (not without spending a fortune in Liberty, anyway...) I have been mmming and aahing about what to do with it for months, and I think I might have settled on this quite plain top from the 'One Piece Of Fabric' book I got from the V&A, the fabric is so floaty and pretty I think a plain top will be good as the fabric will speak for itself....

I'm not too keen on the massive lace tie though, I think I might make a plain, medium width blue cotton tie to pick up the blue flowers in the pattern.

Right, too much rambling! (I definitely need to learn to write little and often...) I have been trying to get to bed at a reasonable time each night so I'm at my best for my new job, I find it so hard to give up prescious evening time though. Even though I love bed and sleep, going there on a weeknight just always seems like giving in to getting up for work again. Hey Ho, tis Wednesday tomorrow thus halfway to the lovely weekend.


Monday, 19 July 2010

Aaaaaah Blog! I've missed you!

I've been computer-less for about 3 months, which has been a mixed old bag - Good Things: More books read, more sewing projects completed, photos actually printed, less time wasted, more quality time with George (I say quality time, what I really mean is UNO time), Bad Things: missing the vast pool (ocean!) of inspiration I've gotten so used to having at my fingertips. I spent hours last night catching up on people's crafty blogs (and finding new ones!) and felt so happy and at home, hee. With a whole new sewing pattern shopping list.

Things are good, anyway... I finally left the job that had been making me so unhappy for so long, I went to (and fell in love with) Stockholm, I started a shiny new job that so far seems much more promising in the health and happiness stakes and think things are looking UP.

Here's some pictures from wonderful Stockholm.