Friday, 6 December 2013

Other Wedding Hand Crafted Items Part 1

Just in case people are getting bored with the wedding theme - I thought I'd do a quick run down of all the additional hand crafted items at our wedding.  This post concentrates on the decorations that we had.

Order of Service
As we had a civil ceremony, we didn't really need an order of service, but wanted something for our guests.  So Peter made an order of service that contained key information, the origins of wedding traditions and facts about us.

UP House
We had the music 'married life' from Disney Pixar's movie UP and wanted to have an UP theme throughout, so we thought having an UP house on the registrars table would be a nice touch.  Then we discovered you can buy helium in hobbycraft - after lengthy discussions (and finding an online equation) we decided that we needed too many balloons to get the house to float!  The house was made from a template we found online and various friends helped me to assemble the balloons before the evening reception.  We loved the result :)

Fingerprint Guest Picture
This inspired our fingerprint guest picture - we bought some proper mounting card and cut it down to A3 size.  After a fair bit of practice sketching I drew on the house in pen and an outline of the balloon in pencil.  We had bought a pink and turquoise ink pads for our guests to add their fingerprint 'balloon' and sign it.  Once home, I rubbed out the pencil guidelines, added our fingerprints and encased in a frame. 

Table Decorations
The table decorations were to add a bit of colour to the tables, but we didn't want them to be in the way of our guests having conversations.  I collected 30 glass ice cream dishes from charity shops up and down the country.  Then we added some floristry beads (the ones that swell up in water - cheap and cheerful from eBay).  Because of the time of year and to help save the pennies all our flowers were fake - we bought over 30 stems of pink flowers from Ikea and cut them down to fit in the glass dishes - after being sprayed in pink glitter. 

Table Names
Our Table Name vases were also an Ikea concoction - conical vase filled with blue sand and pink petals with a photo frame stuck in the top.  Our tables were named after Lunar Society Members, as we met whilst working at Soho House Museum (home of Matthew Boulton, one of the founding members.)

Confetti Cones

We bought our confetti from Shropshire Petals (they have the best tag line 'we grow, you throw') - I went to visit the farm where they grow the flowers and got to choose from the many different petals and colours.  So that people could hold on to the confetti, I made some small confetti cones out of a semi circle of colour paper with half a doily stuck on top.  A covered cereal box with holes in acted as a good stand.  Although a bit of an extravagance, it was worth it for the confetti shots!

Quality Street Sweetie Jars
I really wanted to have a Sweetie Table at our evening reception (truth be told I really wanted a candy floss cart) but once you start pricing things up they get rather expensive.  However, we had a brain wave - with the wedding being at the beginning of November, it is usually in October that supermarkets have very good deals on the Christmas Chocolate tubs.  So we decided on Quality Street, as they are my favourites and bold bright wrapping.  We nearly hit another stumbling block with finding affordable jars, needing 12 I didn't want to spend a fortune.  Thankfully, Home Bargains came to the rescue and I found some glass jars for 79p a piece, with ribbon and label they certainly looked the part!  The labels were made from luggage labels with a 'fake' Quality Street stuck on - safe to say there was a small amount of product testing!

Table Plan
The table plan took inspiration from the Place Names and enabled us to use some of the stickers within a Lego Minifigure Sticker Book, a bargain we had picked up from The Works.

Individual Place Names
This was one of our favourite ideas and longest project for the wedding.  Even before we had got engaged, Peter had the idea that having a minifigure holding a flag would make a cool place name.  So the first thing we bought for the wedding after we got engaged was the first batch of minifigures.  For those of you not familiar, Lego issue a new series once every few months with a different 16 minifigures.  There is no way of knowing what you are going to get - so many hours were spent feeling up the little bags trying to work out what they contained - we did get rather skilled by the end!  Each minifigure comes with a black base, which we sprayed pink or turquoise.  Then we made all the flags, for those minifigures with their hands full, Peter drilled a small hole in the base to add the flag.  Safe to say, this was the most involved project, as we were determined to have unique minifigures for everyone - however, it is probably the most missed project of the wedding and seeing 60 minifigures lined up with their flags was rather cool, I'm sure the odd minifigure will still jump into our weekly shop every now and again.  They also doubled as 'favours' and we got a small bag for each minifigure to be taken home.

We took our minifigures with us on our Honeymoon to Paris - they enjoyed it too!

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Wedding Dress Part 3

So despite a last minute trawl of haberdasheries to match some gold trim (didn't manage to find any) I finished my wedding dress on time.  I bought the vintage pattern ages ago - before we even got engaged (although I did ask permission to buy it first).  The pattern was complete and although some pieces had been cut out at some point, it was in good condition.  I thought that it would be perfect:

Simplicity 1461

However, once I had made up a practice version and tried it on - I wasn't too keen and thought that the neck line and shoulders didn't really suit (so not very keen, that I don't seem to have a photo!).  So out came the pattern drafting books and I created a new top section of the pattern - with a sweet heart neck line and then shoulder straps. 

After a mini practice, this seemed like a much better shape :)

The construction of the dress was detailed in Part 1 and Part 2.  So I will pick up where they left off - using some cord I made my own button loops, by sewing in a continuous 'S' shape to make enough loops to the corresponding buttons. As this was attached to a piece of ribbon I could then insert it between the lining and the dress fabric.  Then I had the job of sewing on all the buttons (28 - who thought that was a good idea!)

I also bought some lace from a fabulous etsy shop (although be careful with UK import taxes, only items under £15 value get through without an additional charge!) - always a risk trying to match colours via the computer screen, but my hunch proved right and they matched perfectly.  After playing about with different locations of the lace, I decided on edging the top and down one side at the back, and also across the straps.  This addition really finished off my dress - I also added some gold ric rac along the edge of the skirt just to give the skirt a bit of sparkle. 

To make the skirt stick out, I bought a petticoat, which my mum edged in pink to match the lining.  And we also had pink wellington boots to match - Which were a good foresight, as we had a bit of a soggy day in parts!

Monday, 28 October 2013


So tradition dictates that you should get a baby silver as a christening gift - however, I decided that I would make something rather more practical for a friend's little girl's Naming Ceremony.  I'd been looking at a fab pattern for baby apron's on Craftiness is not Optional's blog for ages with no reason to make them . . . so this seemed like the perfect excuse.

Although these are a practical gift - there is not reason I couldn't use rather cute fabric - this was called 'Hetty the Yetti' and once I'd found it on eBay I just had to use it.

The pattern is an easy one piece that can be cut out of a fat quarter of fabric - there may even be a possibility to get two cut, but I haven't tried yet.  Then there are lengths of bias binding that are sewn on to create the shape of the apron.

Hopefully they will be hardwearing and practical - I can certainly see them becoming a staple of my 'baby hand made presents'. 

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Smitten Kitchen Strawberry Popsicles

Over the Summer the Smitten Kitchen website had a bit of a popsicle week - of which all looked delicious.  However, I had a problem in that I didn't own a popsicle mould and the one I'd seen on Amazon was just a bit too expensive for an impulse buy (drifting over the £25 mark!) So when I saw some in Ikea for a couple of pounds they where added to our basket.

With a punnet of strawberries in the fridge that were slightly squishy, I thought that I'd have a go at the Strawberry Lime and Black Pepper popsicles.  As I only had half the strawberries required, I halved the recipe and this seemed to work very well and filled all 6 of my popsicle moulds. 

The smell was divine whilst simmering down the mixture and the colour amazing! After they had frozen I wriggled one out of the mould - they were delicious and the black pepper really went well with the strawberries.  Whilst the sun is still shining go and make popsicles :)

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Wedding Dress Part 2

So my Wedding Dress is really coming together and the past few weekends have been spent methodically working through the different stages.  Firstly I had to cut out the lace, material and lining - I'm not sure I've ever taken so much care in lining things up and pinning the paper pattern to the material.  Next job was to tack the lace to the main material piece - with eight pieces to the dress it was a time consuming job, but worth every minute once I started sewing pieces together.  With the tacking I followed the edge of the material and then straight down the middle to keep everything secure.

Cut out and ready to stitch!

The next job was to sew the skirt pieces together, as these wouldn't change when the bodice was fitted.  My mum helped me with the fitting - there is no way I could do this on my own, even with my home made dressmakers mannequin! We spent ages tacking each piece and trying it on and making further adjustments - both the right way round and inside out. 

Afternoon Sewing Supplies
After the tacking stitches had been replaced with machine stitches the next stage was to fix in the boning.  The last time I bought boning for an evening dress I made it was soft plastic rod encased in fabric - this time it was a flat plastic reinforced tape.  I had decided to put some around the top of the dress and down each seam (apart from the front and back middle seam).  After pining it in, I secured it with tiny stitches to the raw edges of the seam - although I found out later the sewing machine stitches easily through. 

Adding in the Boning
The following step was another time consuming trial and error - adding the shoulder straps, working out where the back middle seam would meet and fixing in the buttons and button loops.  Thankfully I had both my Mum and Grandma on this occasion to help pin and tack things in place.  I made the button loops from a silky cord (rat tail I think its called) by sewing the loops onto a canvas strip, taking the cord back and forth in an S shape to avoid cutting lots of little bits.  This was then fastened into the main dress.  Once sewn in place, I matched up where the buttons should be sewn on the other side - who knew stitching 27 buttons would take nearly two hours!! 

Matching up the back seam
After the buttons had been stitched in I made the shoulder straps (twice and the first two the inside seam didn't iron flat) and attached them.  The final stage of this part of the dress was to fix the lining in place.  Just the hem and decoration to go now . . .

Monday, 23 September 2013

Baby Girl Knitted Dress

The last time I wrote a blog post about 'baby knitting' and bemoaned the fact I had no more babies to knit for, a friend emailed me to say I could knit something for her as she was expecting!  This is the result - my favourite baby knit so far - a summer dress.

Again, I knitted the One Year Old size, as I figure that new mums are given loads of new born clothes and that it is nice to have something to put away and look forward too, rather than grow out of quickly.  This cute dress is a free pattern off Ravelry - I love the detailing on the top.  I originally started to knit this in a beautifully soft purple shimmery yarn, but I just couldn't get the tension correct, so I frogged the lot and started again with a firmer yarn in a summery orange.  This time the knit was a lot easier and I could see the pattern emerging - there are a few mistakes in the top, but I was pleased with the overall effect of the leaves at the top of the dress.  This yarn was also more robust and can be chucked in the washing machine - which I assume is a very welcome quality! It was knitted in the round on circular needles from the top down.

Back with button detail
I will certainly put this on my knit again list.  Just have to await some more babies before I can legitimately knit baby things again.  Although I did pick up some great Jean Greenhowe's knitting patterns in a local charity shop the other week :)

Friday, 13 September 2013

Mrs Beaton's Blackberry Gin

As you may have already read in my previous post - I have an abundance of blackberries in our communal garden.  As no one else seemed to be picking them, I thought I'd try a recipe for Blackberry Gin that I found in the back of my updated Mrs Beaton's recipe book - another bargain from The Works.

800g Blackberries
200g Caster Sugar
600ml Gin (or Vodka)

1.2 l Kilner Jar

Wash the blackberries and transfer into your jar - cover with the sugar and give it a good shake - then add the gin.  This has to be kept in a dark place for a week and shaken every day for seven days.  This should enable all the sugar to dissolve, after which it is left alone in a dark place for 2-3 months before straining.  I have various receptacles in our mini cellar awaiting Christmas, when I will bottle it up for presents!  Once bottled up - I will update this post. Now to hunt down some pretty bottles.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Bramble Jelly

In our communal garden we have three apple trees and unkempt boarders full of brambles - this year I was determined to make use of this bounty as we moved in too late last year.  I wanted to make a Jam with both the blackberries and apples, but wasn't too keen on all the pips and chunks that a jam would have in it - after a bit of searching I stumbled across this fab recipe for a jelly - problem solved. 

With the aid of a very tall brother, I collected just over a 1kg of blackberries.  To this I added approx. 400g of apples, cored but with their skins left on (I think this is where the pectin for this jelly comes from).  I added enough water to cover the fruit and simmer until very soft and the apples had practically dissolved.

The recipe then tells you to sieve the mixture to remove the pips and skins, stating that you will be left with a pulp - mine was definitely a liquid rather than a pulp.  I then started to bring to the boil and boiled for the required 8-10 minutes.  However, after testing with the cold plate from the fridge, it was apparent the jelly was no where near set.  So I kept going until I got wrinkles on the teaspoon of jelly I put on the cold plate - this took at least another 30 minutes. 

I then ladled into my jars which had had a blast in the oven (using a new jam funnel - amazing, hardly any jam splattered round the kitchen!)

After leaving overnight, I could label and prettify my jars with my Cath Kidston Jam kit my Aunty bought me for my last birthday.  Looking forward to making the next lot when enough Blackberries have ripened.

Well it certainly passed the crumpet test and thankfully I hadn't over boiled it!

Monday, 5 August 2013

Kestrel's Spring Sewing Swap

Back in June I took part in a Spring Sewing swap organised by 'Kestrel Makes'.  This swap appealed to me especially for the fabric element of the swap - I wasn't disappointed.  My swap partner was Lucy - have a peek over at 'Lucy in the Clouds' for her blog - I especially like her short and sweet 'My week in verbs' posts.

I missed the postman, so had to pick my parcel up from the sorting office in the morning before I caught my train (I don't think I have ever had slower customer service!) After sprinting from the Sorting Office I made my train - couldn't even wait till I got to work to open my huge parcel.  The businessman sitting next to me was most bemused as I unwrapped my goodies - in my excitement, I forgot to take my normal photographs, so all photos are taken by Lucy and she kindly sent me a copy to use.

My goodies were wrapped up in the prettiest small flower fabric and tied up with red ric rac - such a lovely idea.  I am going to use the fabric as a lining for this bag pattern - I have had it for ages, so now just need to find some striking hard wearing material to use as the outer layer.  Inside were various haberdashery items - buttons, lace, ribbon - all squirreled away in my M&S biscuit tins, just waiting for that perfect project.  Also included was a cute liberty mouse pin cushion - you can never have enough pins and therefore need numerous pin cushion - he has come in useful whilst pinning my practice wedding dress!  There was also a small mending kit, which I popped in my handbag, such a good replacement for a tiny 'match stich book' style hotel one I had in there previously.  The final part of the parcel also caused much confusion - a strange looking metal ruler - the ladies of IG helped me work out what to do and is very useful for checking the hem when I'm sewing, as my gauge on my sewing machine is just a series of lines rather than specific measurements.

The parcel of goodies that I sent to Lucy included a lovely yard of fabric, which so nearly didn't get packed up I loved it so much. I also included some edging, an tiny M&S tin with chocolates in (with added felt squares to turn it into a needle case), a couple of vibrant spools of embroidery thread (as I'd spied on Lucy's blog that she wanted to have a go at free machine embroidery), a mini Cath Kidston 'make and sew' booklet and a rather squashed happy hippo.  All was well received and Lucy has blogged about her parcel here.