Friday, 2 August 2013

DIY: Farmfest denim vest

I'm not a music festival lover in the slightest. Actually, that's not even true. I don't like camping. And being unclean. I do love music. But I hate being unclean more than I love music.  I could be knee deep in mud if I know there is a hot shower, a clean towel and a soft bed waiting at the end of the day. If there is not, forget it, not happening. So English music festivals have never attracted me.

Aside from when they are literally up the road. For that reason, this little pearl is too good to miss out on. One mile from my house, does it get any better?

We are moving soon, a couple counties away, and I told a few of my friends they have to come visit our little cottage country idyll before we are gone and live in an attached, terraced house like everybody else. One of my favourite Londoners accepted and I got to spend this gone weekend with the lovely Nicola. We ate too much on the Friday night, went to Farm Fest on the very rainy, cold and muddy Saturday and had yet more food overload on the Sunday. If my whole summer could be like this weekend I'd be one happy (and fat) girl. It was great.

Anyways, back to the music. What does a girl wear?

A couple of months ago I bought myself an oversized charity shop denim jacket and cut the sleeves off (this is the DIY, FYI, no further steps required). I'm not sure if I was going for a grunge or Village People look, but either way, this is a favourite wardrobe item now. It just gives that little something extra to a sundress + ballerinas outfit. I had to take it for a spin in the fields!

As it happened it also doubled beautifully as a blanket. Until it started bucketing, that is.

And the festival? Well, if it hadn't rained it could have been amazing. It was still fun, but involved watching some not very good bands because those tents were the only ones not packed from people trying to escape the rain. What we did see ranged from the I-think-I'm-a-rockstar-because-I've-played-at-Glastonbury-and-will-remind-you-of-that-between-every-song- tw*ts to the mediocre to the good to the amazing. When I say amazing I mean Gadjo. I mean, wow! I could not get enough. It was the kind of music that makes you dance and dance and dance and never stop.

I have my roots in the Balkans but have never much cared for Balkan music. Until I heard it mixed with Barcelonian gipsy funk/ska. Yum!

Random fact: The tiny blob on the top of the hill in the top photo is the Glastonbury Tor. Farmfest is the teeniest, tiniest neighbour to this famous monster.

Right, back to the packing.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Sewing: Colette Iris sneak peek

My photography troubles continue. In my last post I complained about not having a tripod. This time I'll complain about the flash on the camera. One of my loveliest friends visited this gone weekend and we had just the best time. British weather at its best, lots of yummy food and fun activities. However, for some of the time my camera flash kept popping up and I didn't realise until we got home. So I came home with a camera full of washed out photos. Massive face palm moment.

I wore a pair of Colette Iris shorts I made from a curtain (so much Sound of Music inspiration behind these) on Sunday. I've been dying to blog them and embarrassed myself yesterday by taking photos of my own reflection in amazing antique mirrors at the flea market we went to. But to no avail.

So until I get those darn photos, I stole two from my friend's Facebook album. A sneak peek, if you will.

And a bit of what we got up to, through my Instagram pics.

Saturday: Beach time! Who needs South of France when you have South of England? ;) And no beach day without ice cream.

Having people over is the best excuse to buy some fresh flowers (and clean the house?). My local florist introduced me to the 'five pound posy'. Basically a little bouquet for five pounds. Affordable and adorable!

Sunday: After a day of serious flea market shopping what's better than making cobbler, drinking tea and watching girly films?

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Sewing: Darling ranges forget-me-not dress

I really need to get a tripod. The photos below were taken with the help of a wooden stool, a mixing bowl and a cafetiere. As you can guess the camera swayed, the pictures became blurry and  I felt reluctant posting them. I thought I'd snap new ones, but I got cat food on the dress and now it is in the wash. So blurry pics it is. Until I buy a tripod that is.

Whining over, let's talk about sewing.

I loved the look of the Megan Nielsen Darling Ranges dress pattern as soon as I saw it. However, the headache it caused! OMG!

I bought a Liberty archive reprint fabric for this dress and because I love the fabric so much I decided to make a muslin first. I'm glad I made that decision, because I probably made 7 bodice muslins before finding something that worked for me.

Basically, when I sewed the darts I ended up with some weird wrinkles and pointedness around the bust. Not at all flattering.

In the end I made the darts a bit smaller (thinner), a tiny bit longer and placed them a bit further down. Helped massively!

At this point I was tired of the dress and still not completely convinced by the pattern. So I put the Liberty fabric away for more successful sewing days and decided to make the dress up quickly, no thinking, in an affordable material to be on the safe side.

The forget-me-nots were in full bloom and I fell madly in love with them. I ordered a floral cotton in forget-me-not blue and set to work. I didn't really have enough fabric, so the dress had to be sleeveless.

And...I love it! So worth all the trouble. It's really my ideal kind of day dress. Simple, versatile (looks good with wellies and with heels!) and incredibly comfortable. And the colour, ah the colour. I just want to put on this dress, take a pile of books and find a meadow full of cows to laze away the summer days in.

Have to make it up in the Liberty fabric soon!

Disclaimer: Aside from the bust issue I have to say that both the pattern and the instructions were an absolute delight to work with. Beautifully printed pattern, stunningly packaged and presented, fantastic instructions, and excellent resources on the website.

I'm certain it is my lack of experience altering patterns that resulted in so many attempts at adapting the pattern to my size. Somebody with more experience probably could have solved it immediately. Or somebody with common sense would have used the tutorials on the Megan Nielsen blog instead of going for the trial and error approach.

Overall: can't wait to get my hands on some more Megan Nielsen! I have my eyes on the Kelly skirt next.

But now if you excuse me Fonsie and I have a meadow full of cows to find.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Sewing: Happy Sweden day T-shirt blouse

Today is the national day of Sweden. Celebration time! Sweden is a fantastic country and although I'm both an immigrant into and as of recent emigrant out of it, I love it to bits and pieces.

I love it a little extra because it means I get the day off work. ;)

What better way to honour the day than frolicking around in the country side dressed in blue and yellow.

Before and after.
Note that left image shows accurate colour. I took the photos of the finished blouse in way too bright sunshine.

T-shirt blouses are big this season and I made a variation on one aaages ago (remember this post?) using a Burda easy pattern. I think Burda is ok, no more no less, but Burda easy is an absolute gem. It is actually easy. And fun. And wearable. Perfect for beginner sewers.

I love this variation because it has an open back.

I made my blouse from fabric I got out of chopping up a charity shop dress. It is a beautiful deep blue cotton with a turquoise flower pattern. Perfect and cool for hot summer days.

The chickens and I have the same hair colour.

So what did I do with my day off? I went charity shopping, relaxing in a beautiful meadow and chatting to some horses I encountered along the way - see my Instagram, link to the right. Then I came home and made lemonade for reading in the sun. Perfect day!

Monday, 13 May 2013

DIY: Knitted jumper to cardigan

Now that spring is here and the temperature is sometimes gorgeously warm and sometimes there are still some chilly winds, I find my favourite wardrobe piece is the cardigan. It is the perfect layering item.

The before and after.

However, it is just me or are great cardigans harder to find than great jumpers? Especially when trying to find them in charity shops.

For a while I have been thinking about how to turn jumpers into cardigan. I had a go with a jersey sweatshirt and it turned out great just cutting in the middle. However, that was a dense woven jersey that doesn't fray. But cut into a knitted jumper and it will start unravelling faster than you can think "Shouldn't have done that".

So I consulted my best bud Google. And it came up with something called steeking. That involves some skills with a crochet hook, so let's face it, I wasn't going to do that. Time for some good ol' trial and error.

I found a gorgeous salmon pink jumper in a charity shop opposite my dentist last time I was there. But weird, weird shape. Like it was knitted for somebody with a looong torso, broad shoulders and tiny little arms. Perfect for this experiment! Read on.


  • Jumper
  • Binding (not pictured)
  • Scissors
  • Felt tip pen (not pictured)
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine (not pictured)
  • Needle and thread (not pictured)

Right, I seem to have lost my process photos (and which others I wonder?!), so all you get is a description. Luckily this is supersimple.

  1. Mark out the middle. This bit won't show on the final item, so I just used a felt tip marker.
  2. Zig zag a couple lines on both sides of the middle. The aim is that this will prevent unravelling. Cut between the zig zags.
  3. Sew on binding on each side. This can be bought ready made or be made. I made mine from left overs from this project.
While this is supereasy take care to not stretch the jumper when sewing. I did ok with one side, but the other definitely stretched, Ah well, still wearable. 

Also, buttons. Personally, I don't ever button my cardigans unless they are very fitted, so didn't bother to think of a way to add buttons. However, if you want to, I guess you could make the binding wider and sew button holes through the binding. It's a guess, let me know if you try it.

I feel like Ferdinand the Bull in this photo.

My dream life: living in pastels, wearing pretty shoes, smelling the flowers and reading books.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

DIY: Anniversary dress with little leather flowers

Hi guys,

I've been a horrible blogger. Given promises and breaking them.  No excuses this time. The blog and I have been going through an identity crisis. But more on that topic some other time.

Now, leather.

Leather is huge this spring. If you, like me, are not all that into looking like you just stepped out of an S&M dungeon or Batman’s cave, there are still ways to wear this trend. For example, the leather can be the detailing rather than the main event.

That’s the idea I’ve gone with for this DIY. I have this dress that I wanted to wear to a work thing a couple months back. Luckily I had the sense to try it on beforehand, because when I did I noticed it was stained. Well-known fact about me is that I’m clumsy. Well-known fact about white, off-white, cream, nude, beige is that it attracts clumsiness like it’s not even funny. Put these two evils together and every time I wear something light coloured I spill my morning tea all over it. This happens with such regularity that you could bet on it and you’d be a rich man/woman within short.

Luckily, there are many DIY solutions. Tie dye. Or dye the whole thing. Embroidery over it. Camouflage with beads or sequins. Cover with pretty fabric. Hide with applications. This DIY is brought to you by the latter. 

So let's get to it. Supplies:

  • Dress with stains (keeping it classy, I know)
  • Faux leather
  • Paper and pen/pencil
  • Scissors (I used a MUCH smaller pair than pictured)
  • Needle and thread
  • (ignore the pearls, thought about using them as centre of my flowers, but xx hours in I changed my mind)

Firstly, make a template. Draw a flower on a piece of paper and cut it out. Simple five petal will probably be easiest.

Pin the template to the faux leather and cut around it. Repeat about 150 times. No joke. This seriously does take forever. So put a movie or some podcasts on. Or just make the flowers 10x larger and cut only a few.

Pin to dress in any pattern that takes your fancy then sew the little faux leather flowers onto the dress, in a pattern or just randomly. If you thought the cutting was annoying, you're in for a treat.

I did about 80% of my dress in something like 7 h, realised I had messed up my stitches so the flowers started coming off and went back and redid all that work. Luckily I had some radio documentaries and buckets of tea (quelle surprise) at my side.

Josh and I had an anniversary recently and after all that work this really was the only dress I could even consider wearing to our anniversary celebrations.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

DIY: Retro sleeveless blouse with ruffles

Happy Easter guys!

I hope you are all having a lovely Easter weekend, whether you are celebrating or not. I’m fighting the last of a persistent cold/flu/pain in the ass (I know, every other time I post I am sick, I really have no idea what’s wrong with my immune system this winter) and therefore not getting up to all the stuff I was hoping to. But still enjoying the time off from work, watching movies, editing photos, spending time with Josh and eating too much sweets.

A couple of weeks ago I was shopping in my charity shop mecca and found this amazing vintage (80s) pink cotton shirt. It had a high neck with ruffles and was a couple sizes too large. I fell hard and immediately. This was DIY material extraordinaire.

You know I have a thing for sleeveless blouses. And just like my last sleeveless blouse was inspired by Mad Men, so was this. You see, a while back I was catching up with the fifth season.  I spent a Saturday sewing, watching Mad Men and drinking prosecco until the wee hours. It sounds superdorky. And it was. But also magnificent for the soul. And it left me with the craving to make another sleeveless blouse.

Sidenote: I should have ironed the shirt before taking the before photo. 

You’ll remember I posted some inspiration pictures on the topic of ruffles. As the shirt I had picked up already had ruffles it felt like a given that ruffles instead of sleeves would be the DIY.

And it turned out to be the perfect Easter blouse.


  • Oversized shirt
  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Measuring tape/ruler
  • Shirt that fits to model on
  • Not pictured: marker pen
  • Not pictured: iron

And here's the how to:
Remove the sleeves. If the shirt is too large just cut them off. If the size is right, use a seam ripper so you don't accidentally remove too much fabric.

Lay over the blouse you are modelling on. Make sure the collars and buttons are aligned. Pin the two blouses together in a few places so they don't move.

If you need to alter the size on yours, make some markings.
Marking 1: where the armholes end (see pic to the left).
Marking 2: How much you need to cut off all around. This will be about 1.5 cm (seam allowance) from the edges of the model blouse. If you are not sure this will be enough, be conservative and leave more. Remember it’s always easier to cut off more later if you removed too little fabric than try to fix it if you cut off too much. J

Cut where the markings show.

Turn the blouse inside out, pin the front and back fabrics on each side together and sew with a straight stitch. Zig zag the edges so the fabric doesn't fray. Press flat with an iron.

Now arm holes. Start by ziz zagging all the way around both so the fabric doesn't fray. Then measure around one armhole to know how long the ruffle needs to be.

And finally some ruffles. The fabric for this will come from the cut off sleeves. Each sleeve won't be long enough to get the needed length. Soo, do the following:

Iron the cut off sleeves so you have a clear folding line. From the folding line measure out the depth of the ruffle + seam allowance. I went for 3.5 cm ruffle + 1 cm seam allowance = 4.5 cm in total. Cut a strip with this height. From the left overs, fold again and cut off another folded long strip with same height. Sew the two strips together so you have a really long one. Zig zag the open long ends together.

Repeat with the other sleeve.

Now on to ruffling. Rather than me adding 15 steps to this how-to to show how to make ruffles, check out this excellent video.
I pressed my ruffles flat with a hot iron after to get a "folded" look to match what the blouse already had around the neckline.

Finally, attach the ruffles to the armholes. All around each armhole, fold in 1.5 cm of fabric or whatever seam allowance you measured out and fasten the ruffles with pins. At the end of each side of the ruffle strip, angle in (see photo above) for a nice look.

Using a straight stitch, sew all the way around. Iron flat.

And what goes better with pastel pink over Easter than chickens?

Sunday, 24 March 2013

DIY: Studded card holders

Many of my DIYs are born out of necessity. E.g. I fell in love with second hand piece but it's too large --> DIY. Or stained my favourite blouse --> DIY. You get the gist. A while ago I lost my Oyster card and with it the card holder. I bought a new Oyster card but didn't get around to getting a new holder for it. Luckily I had some dusty pink fake leather and silver studs. The inspiration came from Valentino.

(Sidenote: I don't live in Bath or London. Just travelling through now and then.)

This is such a tea time craft - a cup of tea, some studs and glue and you'll be welcoming those rainy Sunday afternoons with open arms.

And on to what's needed:

  • Fake leather or other sturdy material
  • Studs
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pen
  • Pliers
  • Exacto knife or something similarly sharp
  • Some serious industrial strength glue, E-6000 is the crème de la crème of craft glues
  • Not pictured, but bobby pins are hugely helpful

Fold the material and measure and mark the needed width and depth. Make sure to leave some room for glueing the sides.

Press the prongs of a stud into the material so it leaves marks. Use the exacto knife to make holes through the marks. (If using an exacto knife, make sure to be careful to not make the holes too large.) This will help fitting the prongs of the stud through neatly.

Place studs wherever you want them. Be creative and make a studded bow/flower/whatever and glue on. If placing studs vertically or horizontally, use the ruler and pen to space evenly. With the pliers, close the prongs.

Glue the sides, fold and use some bobby pins to add pressure until the glue dries.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

DIY: Turban headband

Yesterday I mentioned that I chopped my hair myself. Well, some days I love it. Some days I don't. So I whipped up this black velvet turban headband to add something fun to bad hair days.

So easy, so quick, and so much fun! Here's how:

Let's start with what you will need.

  • Any material with some stretch. I found a stretchy black velvet dress in my local charity shop - win!
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine/needle and thread

Step 1: measure around your head. Of all my measurements this is the only one I actually know weirdly enough.

Step 2: cut a strip that measures lengthwise 2 x your head measurement. Height...about 15-20 cm, or 8 inches.

Step 3: fold the long strip (pretty side in), sew the long edges together and turn inside out so you have one long tube.

Step 4: sew the short edges together so you now have a loop.

Step 5: twist the loop twice and fold together. Bam, done!