Friday, 28 June 2013

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Tuesday, 25 June 2013

A new dress - Simplicity New Look Pattern 6145

Did you catch the Great British Sewing Bee a few weeks back? What did you think? I loved it!  I haven't really sewn many clothes before and the contestants made it look so easy I thought I must have a go...but when do I squeeze it in??

Funnily enough, I was contacted shortly after the series finished and asked if I would like to choose a Simplicity pattern to make and review......eeeer, yes please!

The first challenge was to choose a pattern - there is a huge amount of choice on the website but as I hadn't made anything before I went for a simple shift dress marked "EASY".  (Easy for some - I hadn't made sleeves, sewn darts or an invisible zip before!)

I don't mind saying I was a little daunted when opening the pattern - there is a huge amount of information squeezed into those little packets.  But once I had decided which of the variations to make, I realised I could just ignore more than half of those instructions - who hoo!

With this particular pattern, there are 4 different sleeve options and 2 collar options - not bad for the price.  I went for the simplest looking one - no collar and short sleeves.  The dress pattern was simple enough, only 6 pieces (1 front, 2 back, 2 sleeves and 1 neck facing) and after an emergency call to my Mum to ask what under-stitching was (seems obvious now!), things had progressed well and I was on to the invisible zip.

This was my first invisible zip I might add.  I needed the help of you-tube on this one - this video was particularly useful and made it look so easy.  And in truth, it really was - look!

Next challenge - sleeves, pleated sleeves.  And again, this was a lot simpler than I had thought, I guess this is down to the straight-forward instructions.

And ta da....a dress, with zip, darts and sleeves.  A proper dress.

Although I'm not in love with the dress and I might even change the sleeves to something simpler, actually making it and following the pattern was really easy.  The instructions are concise (I did find myself reading them several times...out loud) but with a little help from the wonder that is the Internet, they are straight-forward and easy to follow.

Would I make something again?  Absolutely - I am impressed with my zip and sleeves (I can actually move my arms when wearing the dress!) so I will certainly be giving dress-making another go.

How about you?  Have you made anything for yourself?  Can you recommend any patterns?

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Room for Improvement - decorating on a budget recently launched their "Room for Improvement" competition to bloggers; the idea is to change the feel of a room for a mere £50.  Yes people...£50!

So what did I choose?  Well, the Mr and I have lived together for 13 years and have never quite agreed what should go on the walls in our home, so we have always ended up with a make-do to fill the space or even worse, nothing!  So I decided to use the £50 to get something up on our living room walls. old fabric covered canvas and ....nothing.  We've lived here for 5 years people and still have nothing up on that wall!

I decided to use the money to buy picture frames - the biggest I could afford.  When you're on a budget and want something that looks good, there's only one place for it - IKEA.

I brought three 50 x 70 frames (£12 each) and one 70 x 100 frame (£16) all from the Ribba series and all in white.  I think these frames are pretty good for the money - they have a good finish, come with fixings and all come with picture mounts included.

To be honest, I have brought much more expensive frames and thought they looked cheap but when you spend £16 on a large frame, you can't help but be impressed with it!

At this point, I had spent my entire budget (plus £2!) so had to think hard about what to put in the frames (it hasn't been unknown for me to hang up an empty frame I might add, but didn't think that approach would cut it here.)

I have a large stash of fabric, so decided to pick some coordinating fat quarters - so that filled my 3 smaller frames.

The bigger frame proved more tricky.  The picture size was too big for a fat quarter and I didn't have any other suitably sized pattered fabric - could I paint something using Little Miss L's paints???  Tried and failed - in fact Mr L thought it was one of her pictures!

My last idea seemed to be a good one, I got out my Silhouette Cameo and cut 3 stars to use as templates.  I raided my fabric again and found some linen and red fabric - perfect.  I decided to cut the stars in different sizes to represent each member of our little family and simply sew them onto the linen (there are currently arguments as to who is the big star!).

Ok, so the're not the greatest pieces of art but they're more personal than buying something off the shelf.  They make our living room feel more "finished", I choose these colours purposefully to add splashes of colour around the room so in fact, they are very "bespoke" if you will!

And there you have it - four pictures for £52 and I'm really happy with them.

Do you have any tips for decorating on a budget - I'd love to hear them!