I’ve been doing a lot of research and thinking on my wedding dress this week. I was still trying to get the back to fit, and doing some research on adjustments for “sway back”. What really concerned me was that all the information was saying you should only need to adjust by a centimetre or so, and I needed to do a lot more than that.
The other thought nagging at the back of my mind was, “I don’t want to have to do this every time I sew something” (when I stop and think, I’ve never actually sewn a dress that’s fitted me *well*).
I considered making a sloper, but last time I tried, I ended up with a Picasso-esque construction that bore absolutely no relation to my body.
So yesterday I drove across the city and visited a dressmaker, who is going to make me my very own sloper. I know there will be a bodice, skirt and sleeves. She sketched a pair of pants as well, but I don’t think I’m getting them (it’s something I might consider going back for later).
The great thing is that she’s willing to work with my budget – by making the toile and tracing the final paper pattern onto cardboard myself, I’m able to save quite a bit, which is good.
I’ll get the first draft in a week, and make up the toile, so hopefully I’ll have the final pattern the week after.
In the meantime, I’ve been playing around with the overskirt. I’ve worked out what I need to do to achieve roughly this effect, albeit without the flounce at the front (which doesn’t worry me):
But then, as I mentioned on Monday, this photo appeared on Pinterest:
I love, love, love how luxurious this looks. I wouldn’t have it as long, obviously, as I don’t want a train at all, but I can imagine having two layers of tightly gathered georgette (or maybe one less gathered one underneath with a very gathered one over the top).
Not only do I think this could actually end up looking lovelier, but I also like the fact that it would be more economical, as I could cut the skirt across the grain.
It’s a good thing I was able to get a bargain on 10m of chiffon – I think I’m going to have to make a trial of each to see what I prefer!
I’m heading back to Adelaide this weekend for a kitchen tea my mum and cousin are throwing for me, so things will be a bit quiet here. But hopefully I’ll be back with more news next week!
I still haven’t heard anything from the job interview I went to last week, but I have been asked to interview for another position this afternoon. Fingers crossed I will here some good news soon.
In the meantime, I’ve been thinking a lot about my embroidery, and I have A Question:
When you’re learning something new – say a sewing technique, or an embroidery stitch – do you prefer to learn from photos or videos?
I’d really love to hear your thoughts on this.
Lastly, I thought I’d leave you with a photo that’s making me wonder whether I should rethink my wedding dress skirt. It’s just so beautiful …
I’m still having image editing issues, so today I thought I’d share this gorgeous blossom picture by RezzanAtakol. It might be summer here, but that’s no reason not to enjoy this taste of early spring.
Speaking of summer, I can’t go past a gin + tonic in the warmer months. I’ve thought in the past about making my own tonic water, but the key ingredient is a controlled substance in Australia. That’s OK, because now I can make my own infused gin!
Toasted oak ice cream with smoked sea salt and lapsang souchong caramel swirl. I don’t think I need to say anything else, do I? This will be happening.
I love seeing stitching in different settings, so I was delighted to see these gorgeous hand-bound books by Siuyuett. Imagine how stunning a shelf of them would look!
How lovely are these hand-drawn maps? I’m a sucker for maps of all kinds – maybe these will inspire me to embroider a map one day.
Today, I’ve left the best until last. In fact, I’m not even going to tell you what it is. Just click here. I promise you won’t regret it.
[Sorry about the sub-par image quality in this post. My Photoshop subscription has expired, and I’m holding off on renewing it for the time being.]
I’ve made macarons a few times now. I enjoy it, but it’s pretty time consuming and messy, so it’s hard to get the motivation. So I was nothing if not intrigued when I was browsing the supermarket a few weeks ago and discovered packet mix macarons.
For any non-Australian readers, Adriano Zumbo’s desserts are a bit of a legend in Australia. He was pretty much responsible for introducing macarons to Australia, so I was keen to see how this product stacked up. I also wanted to know how on earth they got packet mix macarons to work.
The box came home and sat on my shelf for a few weeks. Then, last week was the Mister’s birthday. I was too broke to buy him anything, and didn’t have enough time (or inspiration) to craft him something, so I decided a bit of cooking was in order. Bring on the salted caramel macarons!
Inside the box was a powdered meringue mixture, a powdered almond mixture, a caramel filling, two piping bags and a circle template. I opted not to use the circle template, instead downloading a printable one.
Making the macarons is pretty simple. You pour the meringue powder into a bowl, add some water and beat for about 10 minutes, until it forms stiff peaks. The transformation was pretty impressive.
The next step was to sift in the almond mixture. If I made this again, I would definitely give the almond mixture a few minutes in the food processor before adding it – I really don’t think it was fine enough at all. And there was a considerable amount of grit that didn’t fit through the sieve.
At this point, I made my first mistake. I decided to look at the mixing video on the product website to see how their mixture looked at the correct stage of macaronage. I mixed mine to that point, but it didn’t seem right. I decided to trust what I’d seen online, but I should’ve gone with my gut instinct. In hindsight, it was definitely undermixed.
The next step was piping the shells. The kit comes with two piping bags, and I really liked them. They’re really sturdy, and they have a cutting line that forms the correct size opening, so no faffing about with piping nozzles. If I could buy these piping bags on their own, I would – they made the process a lot easier.
The shells are then meant to sit for 10 minutes, before being baked one tray at a time (the recipe is meant to make about two trays but I made three and still had some batter left over – but I was getting tired by that stage so I stopped).
I definitely think 10 minutes isn’t long enough. My second set of shells sat for about 30 minutes, and turned out much better. Overall, the first set were cracked, the second looked good but a lot of them stuck, and the third had really uneven feet.
The final step was to mix the caramel with softened butter until it formed a creamy ganache. It was pretty straightforward to pipe this into the shells and assemble the macarons.
They definitely weren’t the prettiest macarons I’ve made. I had to pick over a lot to find any good enough to photograph. Flavour-wise, I found them a bit sickly, although the Mister (who is a much bigger caramel fan than me) enjoyed them. The insides were suitably chewy, but I wish the outsides had been crispier.
Overall, I think these would be great for someone who wants to try macarons for the first time. It’s much easier than making them from scratch (especially the Italian meringue method, which I prefer). However, I wouldn’t rely solely on the instructions on the box and the videos on the website – I definitely recommend checking out some other instructions. My favourite resource is Secrets of Macarons by José Maréchel, which has clear instructions with great photos, but there are also a lot of guides online, such as this post over at Kitchen Musings.
So would I make these again? Probably not. Apart from anything else, there are so many macaron variations out there that I shy away from making the same flavour more than once. Next time I’ll be making them from scratch.
I’ve been busy this week organising wedding invitations. They went in the post today, which is very exciting – it makes the whole thing seem a lot more real.
This has meant that I haven’t had a lot of time for wedding dress fitting. I’ve done a little bit of work, and … it hasn’t been overly satisfying. The front is fine, but the back is just so difficult to work out. The big problem, of course, is that it’s really difficult for me to see my own back. To be honest, I’m not really sure what I’m going to do.
So today I decided to take a break and play around with some embroidery.
It’s really changed my mind about what I want to do. The embroidery? Meh. It’s not doing anything for me at all, and I just didn’t like the way the stitching sat on the texture of the fabric. But those sequins – be still my beating heart! I bought them from Alison Cole just after Christmas, and they’ve been sitting in my sewing room calling to me ever since. So now I’m thinking of just scattering sequins down from the shoulders of the bodice – it should be much more achievable than fully embroidering the bodice.
Of course I have to get a bodice that actually fits first. We’ll see what happens.
OK, famous might be stretching it a bit far, but I am beyond thrilled to be featured on Mr X Stitch. I’m a big fan of the blog, so when I posted the tutorial for my Ombre Sampler, I wanted to send the link in (what can I say, I’m pretty proud of it!). To be honest, I just emailed it off on a bit of a whim – I never really expected to get a response. And to be featured … it genuinely is a bit of a dream come true.
(On a side note, I have a job interview today, so I’m hoping this luck continues!)
Since this is a bit of an embroidery day, I thought I’d share a sneak peek of the next project I’m working on.
It’s going to be another sampler! And I’m pretty excited about this one. It was partly inspired by an image I found on Pinterest, which it turns out is from a Design*Sponge post on UK illustrator Kat Heyes’s gorgeous home.
I’m assuming the picture is by Kat herself, but I don’t really know. Ever since I saw it, though, I’ve been playing around with this sampler idea in my head, and it’s great to get down and start stitching it up. Can’t wait to show off the final result!
I’m having image-editing issues at the moment. This unfortunately scuppered yesterday’s Foodie Friday plans, which I’ll hopefully be able to post next week instead (sneek peak: it involves macarons!).
I was worried that I wouldn’t have a header image for today’s roundup, which would have made me sad. But Penelope & Pip saved the day with their new Stock Photo Friday column – check it out!
One of my old workplaces posted this image on their Facebook page. It combines two of my favourite things – books and infographics – so of course I couldn’t resist it.
It’s always fascinating to see how much fabric can change depending on what processes it goes through, and this gorgeous transformation is a beautiful example.
Who knew trees were artists at their core? I really wish I could see more close-ups of these fascinating sketches.
And finally, as stressful as the wedding dress process has been (and continues to be), it’s actually increased my desire to keep sewing after I finish. I have a feeling this post on fashion drawing could come in really handy. [Please note A Beautiful Mess seems to be down at the moment, but I’m sure they’ll be back up soon.]