30 September 2014

September Playlist

A little trip down memory lane for me this month, bookended by some 2014 music. Rdio is seriously under representing this month (my choices can't be that dated?!). Anyway, I hope you enjoy!


27 September 2014

Sewing Saturday: By Hand London Georgia Dress

Remember those sewing and dressmaking classes I attended? All that sewing I said I was (going to be) doing? The Sewing Saturday series I started? And a sewing page on the blog I made? It happened, honest. And now it's time to revisit all of that.

I've been wanting to share my sewing escapades with you lot for aaaaages! But only now — after moving house, trying to more effectively manage my time, lots of work (the day job!), some travel, and of course, procrastination — am I finally at a point where I can start doing that. And I'm really excited for you to see what I've made so far!

You've already heard about totes bags, cushions and more in the Sewing Saturday posts thus far, with pretty pictures on the sewing page; which I've finally updated and shall endeavour to keep updated. But what I've not shared yet, are any of the dressmaking projects I've completed; a good number now! So that's what's I'm going to do.

Be warned: I'm a novice sewer, and certainly not a sewing blogger, of which there are many awesome examples! Also, I cannot promise excellent photography: the problem with trying to show off clothes is you have to wear them and get someone to take photos of you. Good ones. But I'll try.


By Hand London — Georgia  |  £9 PDF Pattern  |  Variation 2 (skinny straps)

My first dress! Well, that isn't strictly true. You probably don't remember — I'm not even sure I do, or want to — but I tried to make a dress before; New Look 6968. But, it remains in my fabric drawer, unfinished. I'd become fed up with it; the cotton fabric, the fitting issues and not really wanting to wear it. Maybe I will finish it one day...

Anyway, so I was apprehensive about starting another dress and not finishing it but as it was for a friend's big birthday party, I couldn't really not finish it, else I'd have nothing to wear. But just to be safe, and to avoid forced feedback, I didn't tell anyone I was constructing my attire for the evening.

I have a couple of photos from the evening itself but none that show enough of the dress to be suitable here. Instead, you get a shot in our sunny garden.

Geometric print, stretch cotton sateen. Purchased during a a fabric trip to London's Goldhawk Road, ~£7 per metre. 
Sizing and cutting
A couple of points:
  • Size: based on the finished garment measurements, and accounting for the amount of stretch in my fabric, I graded the pattern between a UK 8 bust : UK 10 waist : UK 12 hips. This is not the sizing you see in the photos, see Fitting and alterations below.
  • Adjustment(s): according to my measurements, no Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) or Small Bust Adjustment (SBA) was required. I made a toile of the bodice in some cotton from my stash and was happy I did. Whilst a FBA or SBA was not necessary, it was very helpful in determining this without using my geometric fabric.
  • Fabric: I was going to have alternating panels of black and print à la House of Pinheiro's panelled Georgia dress, which is beautiful! But in the end, I wanted all of mine to be in the fab geometric print that I'd been waiting to use, and did the straps in black stretch cotton sateen. Also, it might look like I cut some of the pieces wonky but there was a slight slope in some sections of the fabric. I also didn't pattern match because a) I think it's fine and b) would've taken an age and more brainpower than I have!

Pattern instructions
In general, the pattern instructions were very good and the BHL's sewalong posts helped a lot. I got somewhat confused between some of the images in the pattern instructions and those in the sewalong posts. This may have been due to my beginner skill level but I personally found the sewalong instructions more accurate. I contacted BHL for some clarification and they were quick to respond and very lovely. 
Fitting and alterations
After trying it on, I needed to alter the pattern quite considerably, but some elements also fit out of the packet:
  • Skinny straps: I shortened these by ~1" but they were still a little too long so would shorten them further if making again.
  • Side seams: the whole dress was too big so I shaved 1–2" off the side seams, to fit my body shape. I could've spread this reduction across all of the panel seams but this worked fine (and I was in a bit of a rush), especially for such a busy print. Ultimately, I think I could've cut at least a UK 8 all round. 
  • Lower back: I have a big booty and a relatively small waist and under-bust area. This meant I had a lot of a fabric hanging loose around the lower back area. I came in by 1" at my waist, grading out to my hips. Even if I'd cut a UK 8 all round, I suspect I still might've needed to bring this area in.
  • Under-bust: there is still a little bit of loose fabric here but actually, I don't think it looks too bad.
I now just need to make these adjustments to the pattern pieces! Ya know, when I learn how to do that properly.
  • Seams: An overlocker gives a professional finish, as seen on clothing in fashion stores. But since I don't have one of those (on my wish list!), I pinked all of the seams. 
  • Lining: I lined with white cotton lawn, although in hindsight, perhaps black may have been better. Due to time constraints, I just tacked the lining and really must sew it in properly.
  • Hem: Again, due to time constraints, I opted for a double-turned topstitched hem. I planned to have a blind hem but as the fabric is so busy, you can barely see the black cotton, and where you can see it, I quite like the look. So I probably won't change it.
Overall, a success I think! And I would make this again. I now want a black version with the wide collar straps. Lessons learned? I should allow more time for sewing as this took longer than I thought, especially with the alternations.

Working on...

Tilly And The Buttons — Lilou Dress  |  Traced pattern  |  Book £10 on Amazon

After settling into the flat, and purchasing a desk for sewing and blogging purposes mainly, I set out to kit out my sewing space (more on that soon!), including some relevant literature. I'd given myself some breathing space to see whether my zest for sewing and dressmaking was going to continue now I was no longer attending classes. And I'm very glad to say it has! If anything, I'm even more eager to progress and excited by the possibilities for developing my skill(s).

After much consideration, I opted for:

The first two contain patterns; 7 patterns you have to trace or draft for Love At First Stitch, and 5 full-sized tissue paper patterns for The Colette Sewing Handbook. Whilst The Sewtionary is an excellent A to Z, spiral-bound reference book for sewers of any skill level.

Of all the projects I could choose from Love At First Stitch, I have gone for the last project: the beautiful Lilou dress and shall be added a scalloped neckline. I've cut a size 2 in some blue cotton with white polka dots I picked up from Abakhan fabrics in Manchester for ~£7 per metre.

I look forward to sharing more of these with you!


Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I purchased all items mentioned myself and all views expressed are my own.

22 September 2014

Pinterest Pron: living room

As I may have mentioned, I recently moved house — for the fourth time in my two years in Bristol — and now reside in a lovely garden flat with a friend. Spread across two floors, with south-facing bedrooms and garden, it's a beaut. And after nearly four years of doing without, it is wonderful to have a garden!

My new flatmate and I have very similar tastes and may have already mentioned, we have various decorating and crafty projects in mind for the house.

What I might not have mentioned is that I am essentially addicted to Pinterest. I mean, who isn't? I can scan it for hours and often do just that. Those who don't like it, don't get it. That can be the only explanation because it's a massive droolfest! If it were possible to experience a physical manifestation of overindulging in Pinterest, I would be going through it. On. The. Daily.

It is the place I bookmark, and covet, all of the things I want in my life. In my house. In my wardrobe. And so on. So I thought, from time to time, I'd share some of my pins with you. Cue the Pinterest Pron series. Note to self: stop starting series you don't finish. Sssh!

Just to clarify the title, I really wanted to call it the Pinterest Porn series but that didn't seem like a good idea, and whilst I wasn't sure how many people would get the pr0n reference, I really wanted to call it that anyway...? This series was initially spawned by the idea of comparing my house inspiration with the reality but then I thought, keeping it more general might work better.

First up, let's stick with the house inspiration theme and have the living room edition.

Some must haves in the living room, and actually throughout the house, were contrast or pops of colour; some bold and striking prints, and unusual furniture.

What are you coveting for your living room?


20 September 2014

The year in books: September

Slowly navigating my way through the year in books project, alongside my Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge of 20 books. Still one book behind schedule but there's time.

If you read last month's post, you'll know it was a rather disappointing read. Thankfully, this month has been super which definitely makes up for it!


We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves - Karen Joy Fowler (2014)

date finished: 10 Sept 2014  |   ASIN: B00EZTLN62   |   pages: 310 (Kindle)

If you've read any reviews of this book so far, you may well have read many times what I am about to say; I cannot tell you much about this book without giving the storyline away. But oh how I want to!

Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2014, this story of a family tragedy grabbed my attention and pulled at my heart strings. Rest assured I'm not an overly emotional person or someone that regularly cries at books but this one got me. I read it whilst on holiday in Italy last week but it was engrossing and very easy to read, and yet not simplistically written as that might suggest. I can truly see why many of the reviews have been 4 or 5 stars. I rarely rate anything 5 stars but this is genuinely deserving of that accolade. I also never re-read books — apart from as a child, I genuinely cannot remember a book I have read more than once — but this one, I actually plan to read again! I might even buy it in paperback form as the cover is so beautiful and the story therein so captivating.

Now, please can someone else read it so that I can talk about it?!

rating: ★★★★★


I was actually debating ducking out of the book club I'm a member of mainly because I felt I wasn't getting a great deal out of it but with anything like that, it's variable and I should give it more of a chance. So, September's book is another book club book; The City & the City by China Miéville
Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad finds deadly conspiracies beneath a seemingly routine murder. From the decaying Beszel, he joins detective Qussim Dhatt in rich vibrant Ul Qoma, and both are enmeshed in a sordid underworld. Rabid nationalists are intent on destroying their neighboring city, and unificationists dream of dissolving the two into one.
Has anyone read this? What did you think?

September link...

A brilliant, weekly source of Kindle bargains can be found over at A Bit Of Mel Time, she even creates handy weekly Amazon wishlists for you to follow.

What are you reading?


Want to take part in The Year in Books project?
Visit Laura's September link-up post at The Circle of Pine Trees blog to add yourself to the list and grab the button she's very kindly created. You can take part using the hashtag #theyearinbooks on Instagram and Twitter. There is also a Pinterest board and a Goodreads group. I know; great, right?

18 September 2014

Stupid cupid?

This post, technically the second in the dating series, is long overdue. But that also means I have amassed a number of entertaining messages and interactions to share with you all.

So, after my fairly dismal 'success' on Tinder, I thought I'd flirt with OKCupid, pardon the pun, and it being free was particularly enticing.

A quick intro to OKCupid, to set the scene, for those who don't know. This New York based online dating website suggests potential matches based on your answers to a database of questions, coupled with which answers you are willing to accept, or which ones you consider completely unacceptable, in a suitor! Each match is given a percentage and you can filter them by age, education, location, etc. The aforementioned questions are endless; you can answer as many, or as few, as you wish. The more you answer, presumably the more accurate your matches become. Those are the basics.

And now, I suppose, for context purposes, my profile. A fairly generic description, I'm sure you'd agree, and standard, Facebook-esque photos.

You can fill in sections entitled 'I'm really good at', 'The first things people usually notice about me' and 'The six things I could never do without'.

And after joining back in April, the weird and wonderful messages haven't really stopped. Everyone has to start their message somewhere but some of these message are golden, and are one of the main reasons I am yet to deactivate my account. Here are some of my favourites:
"Do you like brownies with or without nuts?" There was no mention of brownies anywhere in my profile.
"Hi H r u" Zero English skills 
"...Speaking of "bumbling", the word can also mean jewellery for the bottom"."
Thank you. For that. 
"Hey sweet, you are so cute xx" My profile correctly displays my age; please talk to me like I am 29. Not 12.  
"I probably don't match your criteria and I'm really only after 1 thing, but thought I should tell you..... you are incredibly beautiful x" +1 for honest. -10 for the rest.
"Hey! I fall in love with your username. [ He proceeded to start a conversation about my job and then remarked it was a 'lame' conversation topic. ] ... I got a better idea, and sciency in natures, do you know how much does polar bear weigh?" Nope. Also: a) OKCupid highlighted this as 'one of the best messages you've received'. b) He may have been Polish?
"Wow what an amazing women x" I don't get it. 
[ After receiving several messages from him already, none of which I'd replied to ] "Were you in Pam pans last night? :-)" Err... what?  
After an intro e-mail that I didn't reply to, the following were all from the same guy:
Jun 29 "Love you to take a chance" Not gonna. 
Aug 1 "Love you to take a chance, I know I have written already." Yup. Still not gonna. 
Aug 16 "What do I have to do to persuade you that I think we would click." Give it up mate.
Normal service resumed.
"Well there's a quandary." Do tell?!
"Baby i love you xxx 3 add me in wots app [ telephone number ]" You're confused about what this is my friend. 
 And finally, this was both the best and worst exchange to date, from a 22 year old chozzer:
Chozzer: "hey, if you reply to my message i will read your profile, otherwise I will not waste my time as i spend too much time reading long profiles and writing long messages for no reply." I wouldn't normally reply but this aggravated me so much, I couldn't resist.  
Me: "This is probably the worst OKCupid message I've ever received, and there's been a lot! [ I meant a lot of bad ones... not a lot of messages. ] You have a terrible attitude and you have little hope of finding a date with a nice person with a message like that." And breathe.
Chozzer: "well there we go. I can tell you what is wrong with you and why you are on this site instantly. You think that everything a person is comes across in the first message and that is ridiculous. As for that first message, it actually works well and it's surprising my attitude is so good considering i have been on these sites four years." There are so many holes in your argument and so contradictory compared with your first message.  
Me: "*for years" Passive aggressive.
Chozzer: "no, i have been on this site four years. The number four. That's how bad it sucks. just a load of hypersensitive idiots. Like one girl, said she wanted to meet up sometime but needed to wait till payday, i offer to pay and she never replies. I wait a few days, ask her if she got the message because i wondered if it sent as sometimes messages only show in the sent box, and she gets all hypersensitive about it and i get this: Ok dude. Seriously, calm down. "I'm moving house this weekend. I'm busy. I don't need you hounding me. To be honest...the fact you are being so full on already....not good. I retract agreeing to meet & wish you best wishes to find likeminded people. You're FAR too full on for me. " The funniest thing is, she spent so long arguing about that message, yet she could have just acknowledged she got my other message in the first place and saved that. See most of you women on this site are like that. Guys cant win unless it's grovel grovel all the time. Hell i can't even think about a girl on this site without them getting upset...." Yes. OK.
Me: Silence.
But I must say, despite showing you several funny and slightly cray messages, there are of course a number of good ones and my making fun is certainly not intended to be malicious. End disclaimer.

In general, I have become quite fascinated by the disparity of how men and women approach dating, including online dating. And there have been several interesting studies, of which Jon Millward's Cupid On Trial is one such study.

Jon sets out, over a four month period, to answer the question: Is online dating a different experience for men than it is for women?, creating 10 dummy profiles in the US and UK to investigate. If you're even remotely interested in the topic, I definitely recommend reading the article, but he has also conducted other interesting trials including analysing the last words of 478 death row prisoners, plus he has some great infographics! Re: online dating, you may not be shocked to discover the inference that women on online dating websites get a lot of messages from men, and if the woman is attractive, she is inundated. There are other intricacies that are perhaps also not surprising, but interesting.

So, who else has tried online dating? Good, bad or ugly?


Heart image credit: Gopal Vijayaraghavan, CC BY 2.0