Archive | November 2011

better late than never

So for the last week I’ve been ill, having ME this is a fairly frequent occurrence, but this time I had some kind of stomach bug as well, so far too sleepy and painful to post. All better now though.


The weekend before last I went to my friends birthday party in Hitchin, a small town in Hertfordshire where we used to live!

As well as a load of unusual wool (my friend is a knitter) and a bottle of booze, I made the birthday girl a cushion I’d been promising her for ages, and finally got round to making….

the back….

and the front…..

I found the fabric panels on etsy from an american seller last year, and thought they were so kitch I just had to buy them. There were three sets, one went to my boyfriends brothers girlfriend, one is staying with us (which I haven’t made up yet)  and one went to my friend whose birthday it was…

It is exactly the same size picture as an actual face, as demonstrated by my friend..

I had no idea actually how many people would be up for drunkenly snogging a picture of the president of the U.S.A 🙂

In other sewing news, I have made a massive mistake!

I bought this fabric from Ditto fabrics, an amazing shop in Brighton I’ve had many happy purchases from in the past. This time however I decided to buy something that wasn’t printed cotton online, massive mistake!

Looking at the picture on the website I assumed it was the sort of thermal stretch knit you use to make thermal undies or nightwear, the cut out pattern looks very small, and I assumed it was quite soft and would be perfect to make a set of thermal pyjamas. I adored the last pair I had, only I’ve never seen any in colours that aren’t pale pink or baby blue since, which is not really for me, and I don’t count as terribly practical.

So I was so excited to find this and make nightwear in colours I really liked. I bought 3 meters of the green and three meters of the burgundy colour way .

they arrived…. and immediately I realised the scale of the fabric was completely different from what it looked like in the picture…

It is a lot bigger pattern repeat than I was expecting, and the knit although stretchy is much looser and courser, a bit more like the sort of thing you make hippy tops from than thermals.

I washed it, and it hasn’t is far too course for next to your skin and I wouldn’t feel comfortable having such big holes on something I was naked underneath.

It is entirely my own fault. Ditto fabrics offers samples of their fabrics before you buy if you are buying online, and I have a free rail ticket that I could have used to go to Brighton in person and see if I liked it, and I did neither of these things.

It is very frustrating though, I have two three meter parcels of these knits and I have no idea what to do with them. I don’t want to make a hippy top (zigzagged exposed seams and contrasting colours) and I am rather fat so I’m not sure 3 meters will make any of my dress patterns. Because the fabric is so course it has rather a vintage feel to it.

So can anyone suggest what I might do? Or a pattern I might use?

I really want to put it to good use now I’ve bought it!

Rampant Consumerism

On Thursday night, as Jon  was working too hard to sort food, and I was too ill, we went out for dinner to The Ravensbourne Arms, the new (ish) pub in Ladywell, that has now started serving food. We’d heard good things from a few people and their ale is always excellent, but we were really disappointed.
The menu looked good, proper gastropubby, maybe a bit too pubby and heavy for my liking, the only ‘heathy’ options were a tart, but they didn’t say what came with it, and a fish pie ,and sadly I am allergic to shellfish, which often creep in somewhere along the line if these things are done properly. So I went for a half chicken and chips and peas, and Jon went for a burger and chips.
To be fair the chicken was excellent, as was the gravy, the chips however for both of us were a different story completely. they had gone for the gastropub thing of doing skin on chunky chips, except these weren’t chips..they were wedges, well actually they weren’t wedges, they were about a quarter of a potato per chip and they were terribly undercooked.
Jon’s burger was also nearly rare, which was sort of ok, cuz he would usually ask for medium for a burger, except he wasn’t asked, and he said it was rather fatty.
There isn’t a proper food pub around the Catford/Ladywell area, and they have roughly the right idea in terms of menu and prices, its just a shame about the way it was cooked.
We will probably eat there again, as we will be drinking down there fairly regularly and occasionally get hungry, but its not somewhere I’ll put myself out to eat unless it gets a lot better.

Friday and Saturday were quiet because I was still feeling ill and Jon was exhausted after such a long weeks work, however I made time to order my Christmas food shop from Waitrose for delivery on the 22nd.
This to me is perfect, it gives me two days to buy stuff if anything is missing off the order, and it saves the horrors of last year, which was a bit of a disaster as even though we weren’t cooking, we went to my mums, a load of stuff ended up being picked up in the station as it had been snowing for the best part of 3 weeks, before which I was ill, so there was no chance at all of getting out and getting to the shops. Not that its necessarily going to be as bad this year, but we don’t have a car and the local Tesco isn’t great at having full shelves or products that are what I am looking for, so its better to be safe.

Sunday we carried on in the same theme and went into town to try and get started on present shopping. We made a list of roughly what we were looking for, and reckoned the train fare for me (Jon has a season ticket), given most of the items we were thinking of could be bought on Oxford Street, was cheaper than potential shipping from 5 or 6 different websites. It is just as well we did actually. One of the ideas we had our eyes on were these hip flasks from Urban Outfitters, which we thought would do nicely for male relatives…however, as soon as we saw them, we realised they were about half the size in real life as what I would consider normal for a hip flask to be, and didn’t look that impressive. So its good we checked them out in real life first.

Also I saw this… and as I am a sucker for miniature hats fell completely in love.

In the end we got a good 2/3 of the presents we needed to get, so thats a real relief.

Half way through the shopping trip Jon started massively sneezing though, and so spent Monday off work with a cold! I cooked an awesome curry from this months Waitrose recipe cards (ingredients courtesy of Tescos) which was great, apart from only serves 4, not 6 as the card said. And a not so nice Saag Aloo, using a Pataks easy cook sachet and following the instructions on it, didn’t really end up tasting like what you actually get in a restaurant 😦

Tuesday Jon went back to work and in the evening we went to see the Smashing Pumpkins at Brixton. Thanks to my Good Beer Guide App on my iPhone, we found the Trinity Arms, up a back street in this really amazing garden square that looked like it had accidentally lost its way from Chelsea, I’d heard there were posh bits of Brixton, I just hadn’t realised they’d be so near to the centre! Scarily posh looking pub, everything decked out in immaculate Farrow and Ball paint, however, it does a decent pint of Youngs, and proper good quality pub food like the Ravensbourne is failing at, only properly! We got burgers with properly cooked , perfectly sized, skin-on chunky chips, on a two for a tenner deal (!!! 🙂 ), and to be honest I’d have been happy if we’d payed twice as much. The clientele was a lot less scary than the pubs decor suggested as well, most of them were our age, and as the gig drew nearer, a load of obvious pumpkins fans piled in and they were fine with it. Will definitely go there again, and will actually look forwards to gigs being in Brixton now possibly, rather than see it as something to be endured.

Hell Bunny style dress and 1940’s dress

So on Tuesday I had rather a lot of energy for some reason and decided to finish two dresses I’ve had lying round for a while.

The first was using simplicity 2886, which is a fairly unprepossessing pattern, except that I’d google image searched it,and seen some rather pretty versions of it on the internet, and it was exactly what I was after.

The idea for this dress started when I went on a trip to Camden Market a couple of months ago, looking for a winter coat. I didn’t find anything, which is not really surprising given I’m a size 18/20, vintage doesn’t go that large and neither do the Camden Market brands. But it was slightly upsetting at the time. Especially as I completely fell in love with Hell bunny dresses, which I’ve since discovered go up to a size 22 online, (which is going to cost me money) but barely scraped up to a 16 in Camden…

Thing is…what makes those dresses is the gorgeous prints, the dresses are relatively simple, and as I had recently picked up this fabric…

from Goldhawke road for £4 a meter, I decided to make something  Hell Bunny inspired! It was vaguely meant to be for Haloween except I was far too ill the couple of weeks before to sew, so its only just finished now!

I think it came out reasonably well….


The pattern was easy to make and I’d use it again….Halfway through I though I’d made a massive mistake when I lost a lot of width on the bodice because I’d been slightly sloppy in lining each individual layer up properly. However there was plenty of room in the pattern, so when it came to trying it on it fit perfectly.

Inspired by having been overly pessimistic about the fit, I turned to tackling the saddest unfinished piece in my collection…Simplicity 3331 from 1940

I loved this pattern, i think its so elegant, and according to the instructions on the back of the pattern it has a 40 inch bust and a 34 inch waist, which was perfect, as I’m not good enough at patterns to start scaling about something that old, especially with a pointy shaped waist detail.

As it was my first time at using a 1940’s pattern I decided to use the cheapest appropriate fabric I could find, which was this really soft, dark green almost denim style fabric from Birmingham Rag Market, that I got for 50p a meter.

Lucky I did…

It was extremely easy to sew, even the pointy waist detail came out a lot better than I hoped, and I got as far as having finished the skirt and the bodice, I hadn’t added the sleeves or the side zip yet and I thought I better try it on.And very quickly realised it was going to be such a tight fit I’d better not attempt it without my boyfriend around to get me out if I got stuck. And I had the major suspicion that if it was that tight it wasn’t going to fit at all!

So I left it unfinished for about 3 months, hoping that in the meantime I’d loose weight (a change of medication means I thought I was going to quite quickly, but then there were complications). Until tuesday when I decided to finish it anyway, partly for the sake of it, and partly because I had been so sure my other dress wouldn’t fit and then it did, that I was hoping for a miracle!

Obvioulsy it didn’t fit! 😦 It is nearly there….its about a full dress size too small I reckon. First thing I checked when it wasn’t fitting right was the seam allowances on the pattern, which I know can be a problem for 1940’s dresses. They were definitely on there. It was the worst fit around the middle. the top was actually fine, even though it had a lot less ease in it than I’m used to, but I think may be they measured where the waist lies in a different place to where we do on a garment. I always measure just below the smallest part of my waist, and assume that my stomach will be slightly bigger that my was it size. But the dress really didn’t fit on the stomach…it assumed you had a 34″ stomach, as well as a 34″ waist or something. I wonder maybe if its to do with the underwear they wore back then.

Unfortunately, although the pattern has loads of instructions on how to lengthen various bits in order to make it fit, there is nothing about taking it out at all. Which given the bodice bits are all cut at angles is totally beyond me. So I am going to wait,and hopefully in a few months I will have actually lost  a bit of weight and then I will make lots of them, cuz actually (although its difficult to see in that photo…apologies) it is the most gorgeous period style dress ever.


Had an interesting weekend, realistically we weren’t going to manage 5 nights out in 5 days, but we approached the weekend intending to give it our complete best shot……and then failed miserably!

Thursday started well, i met up with my mum at the british museum and went to see the Grayson Perry exhibition. It was really really awesome. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of his stuff before, so I was really quite surprised at how good it was. I’d heard so many dismissive things in the press, but it was really cool and funny and very good in a folk art kind of way. The premise of the exhibition really worked.. presenting his own work along side a load of accidentally cool or kitch stuff from history. I ended up buying the guide book in fact cuz I thought it was that interesting.
I haven’t seriously done art for years, well, I went through a phase when we were living in camberwell, but we had amazing views from the back roof terrace that were just asking to be drawn, but I haven’t actually done art projects properly since we lived in Holloway which was a good 7 years ago now 😦 but I’m intending to start at some point, as we’ve asked for a masonry drill for christmas, so we might finally be able to get stuff up on the walls.Anyways…Grayson Perry exhibition catalogue = massive inspiration. My taste in art as a teenager was pretty much the same as it is now, except that my parents hated modern art and all I’d ever seen really was renaissance and victorian stuff, so all my art books are of those periods. I need a few more that are slightly more modern. I know theres the internet etc, but you can’t print stuff out properly from there, and sometimes you just need printed out stuff.

Anyways…we were contemplating whether to go to Mels gig (Jons a sucker for anything with communist in the title) or Hawklords on Thursday night, but went to neither as Jon is having problems at work again. The kind where he says ‘I have too much work on’ fairly emphatically and repeatedly, and his bosses all suddenly look away in a shifty manner and do nothing what so ever about it. It was kind of the problem with the weekend in general actually, Jon just couldn’t relax because of it.

Friday night however, was a brilliant one. Earlier in the week I’d gone to Sainsburys and bought a bottle of Kracken Rum, which is a nice but fairly standard dark rum in a cool bottle with a picture of a massive giant squid on it. We proceeded to drink lots of it, and decided to go to the Rocky Horror themed dress up night at the Fox on a bit of a whim. Awesome music, all show tunes and 20’s to 50’s classics. Cheap booze, hung out with Gemma and Liz and ran into Mel who had acquired a bloke who wasn’t actually in costume, but was a complete ringer for Dr Manhatten, only in pink of course. Best costume was definitely a bloke who came as the human centipede, with a trail of blow up dolls attached to each other behind him.

Saturday, we got home at about 4am, and I spent the whole day sleeping  with a hangover and ME. I believe at some point Liz and Jon cleared off to go to St Pauls, and then came home and slept as well. Went over to Adam’s and Genny’s rather later than planned  to meet up to go to White Mischief, and got to the club as the doors opened at 9. It was immediately apparent that I wasn’t going to manage standing up till 1am when the Abney Park were on…tried sitting on the ledge at the back of the main room, but its soooo uncomfortable, and I have had stiff/bruised legs for two days afterwards (which is not like me). So we went home, just as everyone else turned up 😦 had a really good time while we were there mind, all the acts we saw were great, loved the proliferation of opera singers 🙂 and it was so much better than last year for not being totally overcrowded. If we do it again we will turn up much later in future, as I’m more fussed about the seeing friends and dancing to cool music later in the evening than the cabaret earlier. However it is the second time I’ve been to white mischief and I’ve been too ill, and the second time I’ve been too ill at an Abney Park gig, so I’m thinking possibly the combination is doomed.
Also bizarrely, Kings Cross is the hardest place to get home from in all of North/North east London …took two hours 😦

Sunday was irritating, I was disappointed from the night before, and all bouncy by about 6pm and wanted to do something, we had agree to stay over at Liz’s and go to David RP’S gig,as Liz lives down the road form the Nambucca, except Liz had a hangover and was too tired to come out, and Jon was stressing about work the next day, so we stayed in and watched Downton Abbey. 😦

However it was probably just as well we did as yesterday I woke up with the evil sore throat from hell and a very bad cold. Which meant, as Jon is still having continuing work problems (hence me being alone in the house to write this at nearly 8pm), we didn’t go to our friend Roach’s music video launch either.

I was supposed to be making the xmas cake this week…thats so not happening either! Oh well! I thought the rest of November was going to be reasonably quiet, but it really really isn’t, so I’ve got loads to look forwards to!