Weekend Round-up: 29 September 2011

Spring is here, and along with it the first buds on one of my David Austin roses. I’m so excited to see it bloom – especially having never grown roses before.

With the warm weather coming (especially with the move to Brisbane), I’m thinking of picking up some gorgeous cotton prints and whipping up a few of these adorable skirts.

I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to bake something as much as I want to bake these White Peach, Rose and Basil Hand Pies.

And more baking: for the most part I loathe bananas, but I make an exception for banana bread. This recipe from Smitten Kitchen looks like one I’ll have to try out.

When we move to our new place, I want to celebrate by buying new tea towels (seriously, there are so many stunning ones out there). I think these gorgeous watercolour designs might have just moved to the top of my list.

The gorgeous blue embroidery definitely caught my eye in this article about stunning Castelo Branco embroidery from Portugal over at Feeling Stitchy.


Wedding Dress Wednesday: origami edition

Last week I finally found the designer behind the dress I love so much. Her name is Leanne Marshall, and she won season 5 of Project Runway (a show I’ve sadly never had a chance to watch). You can check out more of her work here. I love the way her wedding dresses have such a natural feel, almost embracing the Japanese ethos of wabi-sabi – the appreciation of imperfection. It’s a refreshing change from the structured flawlessness of so many other wedding dresses.

I was also fortunate enough to find a full-length image of the Julietta dress, which shows the hem of the skirt.

These discoveries meant I was extra inspired when my copy of Drape Drape turned up unexpectedly early on Friday. As soon as I had a chance I sequestered myself in my sewing room and started examining the pattern. If you look at the view in the header, you’ll not be surprised to hear that I was a little daunted. All those lines, and not a change in weight, colour or style to distinguish one from another!

At first I thought I’d trace the design directly onto some spare satin I had lying around, but I quickly realised that was a road to insanity. Instead I traced it onto infinitely easier-to-manage tracing paper, where I was left with a crazy, confusing piece – and this was only a quarter of the skirt!

I was still utterly perplexed, so I set to a little origami. A few folds and pins later, and I had a piece I could pin to my dressmaker’s dummy. Suddenly it all became much clearer:

That big, jagged curve down the left-hand side of the skirt pleats together to form the lovely draped shape – it’s the big pleat closest to the side (which you might be able to make out sitting behind the smaller pleats) that swings the fabric around to form the drapes across the hips.

To get the shape I want, I think I need to move the pleats closer to the centre, and change those small pleats to gathers – this should move the drapes further down the skirt, and provide a softer shape.

I also know I need to bring that centre front line closer to vertical, otherwise I’ll never be able to cut the skirt pieces out of a single piece of fabric. I’m still not entirely sure how I’m going to get the lovely soft fall down the front of the skirt. I can foresee more origami in the coming weeks!

Musings on pattern darning

I have a embroidery crush at the moment, and it goes by the name of pattern darning. I will confess that it is so far an unfulfilled crush – I haven’t actually picked up my needle and tried it out. But lovely creations like this tempt me so much:

These gorgeous patches by Karen Barbé are the first thing that whetted my appetite. I love the combinations of colours and stitches to create such lovely little textural patterns.

Then there was this gorgeous little scissor fob by Betsy Morgan. Betsy mentions that she found the pattern darning fairly tedious, but that isn’t enough to dissuade me! I love the way it looks both rustic and contemporary all at once.

I’ve done a little research into the technique, and I love the idea of using it to create some pretty pins, similar to these lovely creations by Allene La Spina from Urbahnika.

Sadly my time at the moment is all taken up with wedding dress preparations, as well as job applications in preparation for our move to Brisbane, so I’m not sure when I’ll get the chance to experiment with this.

If you’ve tried pattern darning, or you have another technique you think I need to check out, I’d love to hear from you!

Weekend Roundup: Apple Tree edition

Landscape With Tree (c) Dan Peretz

Landscape With Tree © Dan Peretz

We’ve got an inspection on Tuesday, which means a lot of cleaning this weekend. I’m preparing myself by looking at beautiful landscape photos (although this probably isn’t the wisest thing, since it’s sending my wanderlust into overdrive).

Here’s a peek at what’s been inspiring me this week. Have a lovely weekend!

  • I’ve only had apple chips once, but they were incredibly tasty and addictive, so I was thrilled to see this recipe for them. (A Beautiful Mess)
  • Purl Soho and Egg Press have teamed up to make this gorgeous seasonal embroidery kit. I can’t get enough of that wood grain! (Purl Bee)
  • I’d never heard of kokedama (a Japanese way of hanging plants) until I saw this tutorial. Now I want a balcony just so I can hang a series of them. (MAKE)
  • Aesthetic Outburst is releasing her book You Are Awesome: 21 Crafts to Make You Happy at the end of the month, and it’s filled with some of the most fun and ingenious craft ideas I’ve seen in a long time. (Aesthetic Outburst)
  • Jessica over at How About Orange used polycrylic to turn gorgeous origami blossoms into sturdy little sculptures – this has lots of potential for different decorating ideas. (How About Orange)
  • Finally, I might never be able to afford this stunning kilim runner, but in the meantime it’s causing all sorts of embroidery ideas to run through my mind. (Etienne)

Foodie Friday: Wild Mushroom and Duck Risotto

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that, besides stitching, I really, really love cooking. The Mister was getting home on Tuesday (he works away), so I wanted to cook something special. Last week we got a delivery from Somerled Wines, and apart from two very enticing bottles of wine, there was an amazing-sounding recipe for Duck and Mushroom Risotto.

It’s a pretty impressive feat that this sounded good to me, since I normally loathe mushrooms (not so much the taste as the horrible rubbery texture). But I trotted into the Central Market and picked up some chanterelle and dried wild mushrooms, as well as duck breasts and some good quality risotto rice.

The recipe took a while (all that stirring), and it was a little gluggier that I would’ve liked, but the final result was well worth the effort:

Wild Mushroom and Duck Risotto / Needle & Cloth

The star was definitely the mushrooms – the wild mushrooms were reconstituted and fried off before being stirred through the risotto. Meanwhile the fresh chanterelles were soaked in the stock and wine mixture that was used in the risotto, before being added to the dish at the very end. I loved the vibrant golden colour of the chanterelles while they were soaking:

Wild Mushroom and Duck Risotto 2 / Needle & Cloth

Finally, I feel it’s my duty to warn you what happens if you don’t keep an eye on your feline overlord when you’re taking photos. I’m just grateful she doesn’t have a taste for human food!

Kaylee / Needle & Cloth

Wedding Dress Wednesday: Chance discoveries

After I found a skirt I wanted to recreate, I had to start thinking about the style of bodice I wanted. As I mentioned before, I really wanted shoulder straps. I feel in love with the idea of a low-cut back – the problem being, of course, that I had no idea how to make one. Obviously I could’ve tried to taking a regular dress pattern and removing a piece from the back, but I was worried that would just end in the whole thing falling apart!

Instead, I went hunting for patterns, and eventually found this one:


I looked online and found a version where the stitcher had added pleats at the shoulder to give a more sweetheart effect to the neckline (do you think I have been able to find it again? Of course not!). I wasn’t sure whether I would need to add a panel to the waist, but I figured it would all work out once I started sewing.

But everything was soon to change! On a quest to figure out more about the skirt, I asked advice from a work colleague who has a background in fashion design. She wasn’t sure how it was constructed, but she found a photo of a dress with similar skirt construction, which I noticed came from Drape Drape.

Of course I had to order a copy! It was only afterwards that I stopped and looked at the bodice:


It was exactly what I wanted, and made me realise just how much I was settling on the previous pattern. Now I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of my book so I can get started on my mock-up.

The wedding dress begins

I love working with fabric – whether it be sewing a garment, or stitching a piece of embroidery. But I think I must have been gripped by insanity when I decided I wanted to make my own wedding dress.

The truth is, the majority of wedding dresses just don’t appeal to me. White isn’t my colour, and I certainly don’t want a dress that means needing assistance to go to the toilet!

For a long time I’ve thought that I would want a lovely shade of antique silver. The style eluded me, however. Being of rather petite build, I knew a straight sillhouette would work best. I didn’t want anything too plain however – something flowing and ethereal seemed more fitting to my dreams. First, I thought about trying to recreate this Vera Wang dress:

Vera Wang wedding dress

For a moment I was lost in luxurious layers of fluffy georgette. Then it dawned on me just how much fabric a skirt like that would take, and how frustrating it would be to cut out all those layers and stitch them in place. Plus, I had a funny feeling those raw edges would have me tangled up in loose threads and stumbling down the aisle.

So I kept looking. Then, one day, I stumbled across this dress on Pinterest:

The bodice wasn’t what I was after (I yearn for the comfort of shoulder straps), but that skirt. And now, armed with 10 metres of cheap chiffon, the challenge is one to make a successful mock-up of that gorgeous skirt. To be continued …