Cute cupcakes for a princess party

On Sunday I went to visit Vixie to watch lots of Disney films with Georgia and Yoyo the cat.

I got the grand tour of her studio which was FULL of all sorts of lovely crafty goodness. Remember my organisation of my sewing supplies– well Vixie has four of these units, and that is not even her main type of storage. I suppose she is making crafting a full-time business so she is allowed to have more than me, but I was still very envious!

She has a thorough breakdown of the day’s fun on her blog, but I thought I should share the goodies I made…

The purple cupcakes are classic vanilla* sponge, with pink buttercream, sprinkles and fondant butterflies. The pink cakes had fresh raspberries mixed in the sponge and were topped with buttercream, pink sugar and handmade fondant roses. This was my first attempt at making these roses (I’ve never had such a girly day to cater for before!) but I was really happy with how they turned out.

* Yesterday I listened to a really interesting programme about vanilla on Radio 4. Did you know that vanilla flowers are so tiny, only one or two types of bee are able to pollinate them? The farmer interviewed had to pollinate each flower by hand, which goes some way to explain why vanilla is the second most expensive spice.

Recent scientific discoveries

As a little thank-you to Kristen for her generous giveaway, I made her a little card. She is a scientist, so I found this super cute scientific embroidery design at The Floss Box. Of course I posted it before taking a picture for my records (I always do this with gifts), but luckily Kristen has taken a picture of the Cupcakeium.

If I remembered more of my chemistry lessons I might be able to work out what type of element it is from the atomic number…

United Stashes of Awesome Skirt

Could you guess why I was making thread chains yesterday? You might have spotted that the fabric I was sewing was (only half of) the fabric sent to me by the lovely Kristen.

A pattern I have been waiting to sew for ages has been the Colette Ginger and I thought this would be the perfect fabric for a fun skirt, but I totally ignored the instructions and put it together in my own way. I joined all the front parts, including lining, together and did the same for the back. Then I sewed the entire left side seam in one go, lining and all, and repeated for the right side. Why? Well, I’m hoping that if when I lose a bit of weight it will be super easy to adjust*, without having to mess around with unpicking waistbands – the only thing to be mindful of is getting the angle where the two arrows meet right for a flattering waistband.

I wore the skirt today, and went for a lovely walk through Westminster to the National Portrait Gallery. En route I passed lots of London landmarks that I thought would be great to get in a photo with the USA landmarks on the skirt. In the gallery I saw some amazing photos and paintings, including ones of Her Majesty the Queen and Olympic stars (including the caterers), and got lots of ideas for framing perfect photos. Then I left the gallery and discovered it was pouring with rain! I grabbed a quick shot on the way home, but I should add it was the first self-timer outdoor photoshoot I have done.

Just as I had hoped, I think this skirt looks pretty sensible from a distance – I certainly didn’t feel like I was wandering around with

In true blogger-style I spent ages thinking of the perfect name for this skirt, until I was dropping off to sleep last night. United Stashes of Awesome! Why? Apart from the obvious print of the fabric, it came from the stash of Kristen in her giveaway. I found a black invisible zip in my box and had just enough black lining left over from my trousers* so this skirt was made from nothing but sewing stashes. I think that is pretty awesome, and after a day wearing the skirt I think it is rather awesome too.

*There is an article in the current issue of Threads about incorporating men’s tailoring for women. Apparently the way men’s tailor-made trousers are constructed makes it easy to change the size at the waist.
** If there is a way to cut out trousers without having a long strip of fabric/lining left in the middle, please let me know! When sorting my stash out there were lots of these pieces, that might just be wide enough for panels of a skirt if I am lucky.

How to… make thread chains

Don’t you just hate it when you are walking and can feel your lining and skirt sliding and twisting around in different directions? It is super irritating, but it can be fixed in a few easy steps..

I make a chain to join the lining to the skirt at the side seams (and maybe front and back seams if you have these, depending on skirt fullness). Easy peasy, and it stops your lining sliding too much – an inch or so is a good length to allow some movement, but not too much.

p.s. for all those keen eyes, yes that is navy thread on a black garment. I did it *cough* deliberately to highlight the specks of blue in the print, and not at all because it looked black when I was sewing in the evening and by the time I noticed it this morning I’d done too much to unpick it all. Deliberate style choice, totally intentional.

My Miette!

After a heatwave all weekend, the weather is finally cool enough to put on my finished Miette (here and here) and take some photos. Hoorah!

I made button bands from some grosgrain ribbon (I had to match to the colour of the buttons as there was nothing that came close to matching the yarn colour). Apologies for the following close up of my chest, but look! The buttons don’t gape!!It is such a (pleasant) shock to wear a cardigan that fits my curves without being too tight or too baggy in places, it is really making me think carefully about my next knitting project.

p.s. Since it felt too hot for knitting or crochet at the weekend and I didn’t want to be dressmaking and adjusting sweaty garments, I got my sticker collection out and sorted some of my resources. Colour coordinated threads and tools organised on my door for easy access (and minimal tidying up!).Next on my tidy-up to-do list is vacuum-packing some of my fabric!

Crochet-along with Rachell

Guess what arrived in the post today?

A colleague at work has this book and it was the inspiration for my Crafty Resolution. I think I am up to speed with my blanket at the moment, but have been finding myself losing inspiration lately as my commutes have been filled with knitting instead of crochet.

The Little Room of Rachell is holding a crochet-along to work through all the blocks in this book, so of course I had to get a copy. Hopefully this should keep me inspired to keep on crocheting (if I can wait until the CAL starts!)

Review – Doodle Stitching

One of my exciting crafty birthday presents last month was an embroidery book – Doodle Stitching: The Motif Collection by Aimee Ray (ISBN 978-1-60059-581-3) The book was chosen for me because “it looked like it had lots of patterns, not just projects*” and I think this is the biggest strength of the book.The book starts with some Embroidery Essentials and some projects, including coasters, bunting, gift bags and tags, and even jewellery using balsa wood! Aimee gives instructions for making the items in each project, details of the motifs used and stitch choices, and alternative designs that could be used: there is enough detail for a beginner to embroidery, while giving plenty of options to put your own stamp on the projects.The last section of the book is full of motifs in a range of categories, from Alphabets and Circus, to Weather and Woodland Animals. The designs include some traditional subjects but are really fresh and modern, without being either too twee or trendy.** And what is even better, is that the book has a CD with all the motifs on, so you can re-size and combine them to make your perfect design.There are lots of cute motifs, and so far I have been working on a project featuring lots of woodland animals, birds and trees. I love the food and celebration designs (including ice-cream sundaes, picnic sandwiches and slices of pie) – one of Aimee’s projects is a simple shopping bag covered in lovely fruit and veg. There are so many potential projects I could make from this book, it is hard to know what to do next.
This is definitely a book I’d recommend as there are so many ideas and designs – 400 or so, plus a full alphabet – and some have so much detail they can be modified to create other variations.

*approximate quote
** I am really pleased that crafting is becoming cool to do and that there are so many new designers and products available now, however I find lots of things aimed at a younger crafter go for a super-cool street style or a really strong “Make Do and Mend” retro vibe. This is great if that is your style but its not really me, so it is great to see something that is nice and modern without being overly trendy or cutesy.