February Favourites

Monthly favourites time again and this month is an odd bunch I will admit, but worthy all the same.

My strawberry slicer, I know a lot of people will say its a silly gimmick and that I am perfectly capable of chopping my own strawberries, but anything that gets me excited about eating fruit for breakfast is a winner with me.

The powerhouse of blogging that is Dana aka The Wonder Forest has a second blog all about blogging (I can Build a Blog), which I have been a fan of for a while now. When Dana started a YouTube channel last year I was an instant fan. I have been catching up this month and loving her no nonsense advice. I'm just not sure if I am brave enough to put our blog up for review but I love the advice she shares about being a better blogger. 

I picked up this shade of nail polish when I was at Bicester Village last month, not because it was Michael Kors, but because I LOVED the colour. Envy is the perfect Pink/Purple shade with a great formula and a stubby flat brush, Yum!

Accessorize always hit it out of the park with pretty stuff for your tech and this season is no exception.  I was torn between the golden pineapples and this Flamingo... as you can see the flamingo won.

Finding these little beauties in my fave stationary place Fox and Star was a game changer, MT Nano is a handy gadget you use to make neat cuts in your washi tape. It's the little things.

How was your February? What have been your favourites? Are you loving a TV show? Anyone else loving the new season of Suits? Let me know in the comments below.

Have a great weekend, but pop by on Sunday for a little competition....

Sammy xxx

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Sewing Tips: Basics #1

We had such a great response to our post last month about How to Fall in Love With Your Sewing Machine, so we thought we would share some more of our sewing tips with you today. We are starting with a few basic things and we are planning more of these so if there is anything specifically that you would like tips on, maybe bias binding or zips? Let us know. Also why not check out my fabric buying tips and pattern advice from last year. Lets get going..,..

  • If you're not sure which colour to use on a jazzy fabric try and stick to the most dominant colour or the colour of the background. If there isn't an obvious choice go for the darkest colour, it will always show less that a lighter thread. 
  • The same theory applies when trying to match a thread colour in general, if you can't find a perfect match go a shade darker as it will show less.
  • Threads will always look darker on the reel than off it as a single strand. Guttermann threads have a little magic trick to help, their bottoms are loose so you can twist them to free the thread loose to check it against your fabric. 
Machine needles:
  • Most brands of machine needles will fit any domestic sewing machine. When you are looking at needles their sizes (ie. 90/14 or 80/12) refers to the thickness of the needle and therefore which fabric they should be used on. The lower the number the finer the needle and the finer the fabric you will sew with that needle. 
  • There are different needles for different types of fabrics too. Jeans needles are especially for working with Denim and densely woven fabrics, Ballpoint needles can be used for jersey fabrics, but also for silk. Stretch needles are for use with Lycra or swimwear fabrics and quilting needles are designed to go through lots of layers at once. Try and stick to using the right needle for the right job. 
  • We advise that you mark up your needles so you know which are which when they are out of their packets. I use nail polish, but you can use coloured sharpies. The sizes are written on the needles but it is so tiny it can be hard to read. 
  • If you have put a specialist needle in,  remove it when you have finished the job and put it back in the packet so you don't forget which needle is in your machine. 

Tricky fabrics:
  • If you are sewing with waxed fabric or pvc, leatherette or anything sticky you will need a Teflon foot to get a smooth stitch. Not go one of those? Dive into a drawer and use some trusty Scotch magic tape (the one that is slightly misty) to cover the bottom of your normal foot. It is a great alternative until you can get a hold of the real thing. 
  • Sewing jersey or anything stretchy or slippery? Sandwich your fabric with tissue paper to get an even stitch. Or use scraps of interfacing which you can then remove by tearing away when you have finished.
  • Tack, tack, tack. It may seem laborious but it will be worth it in the end.
  • Taken your measurements but still unsure which size to cut out from your pattern sheet? Take a garment similar to the one you want to make that you like the fit of and lay it over the pattern pieces. This will give you a good idea of whether you are on the right track with sizing.
  • If you are working with tricky chiffon or jersey fabrics try cutting out your pattern with a rotary cutter and mat. It stops the fabric from moving around as much as when you use scissors. 
  • Always keep your best scissors for cutting only fabric, cutting paper (even pattern tissue) will blunt them faster. Also avoid using them on beaded or sequin fabrics unless you remove the embellishments from your seam edges first. Avoid wired edge ribbon too.
  • Don't waste your money on cheap scissors, especially pinking shears. Generally speaking you get what you pay for with scissors. A good pair, well looked after should last you a lifetime. 
What are your top tips for sewing, Is there anything else you need or want to know more about? I have had a lot of questions about bias binding lately, is that something you would be interested in as a post here?? Let me know if there are any specific areas that you want tips about and I will see if we can do a post on them.

Sammy xxx

P.S. The gorgeous sewing poster in the first photograph is by Rebecca Stoner, you can now buy them at Sew Crafty Online, Yay!

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H's New Home Haul

So big news in the H camp this week, I have moved!  It's been a long time coming, but finally I have my own place!

I am sure there will be some other features along the way, but for now I thought I would show you a few bits and pieces I am coveting to make my space my own.  Now just to wait for the bed to arrive!

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J'adore it: Haute Couture

I have always been fascinated by Haute Couture.  The art of fine sewing, bespoke sewing, painstaking detail and hours of labour to produce a garment so exquisite it is barely believable.  It is fashion at it's highest level.  It is fabric artistry.  I love watching the catwalk shows on YouTube and recently I have been coming across some videos from some of the masters of haute couture and just had to share them with you.  The attention to detail is staggering, it is a joy to watch these amazing artists create these garments.  I literally can't stop watching!

The first two videos are from Dior and the cutest thing about these is they are creating miniature dresses of famous Dior designs, they are exquisite.  I also love the video that takes you on a tour around the exhibition where these miniatures were on show (read more about the exhibition HERE)

These other videos are from Chanel and Schiapparelli showing the processes involved in their couture collections. They are totally fascinating. 

What do you think? Are you itching to get your hands on an embroidery frame and have a go? Or is it all a little too much and you would rather watch from afar? Is it not your kind of thing at all? I would love to know your thoughts. I am completely addicted to watching these if nothing else!

I hope you enjoy watching these videos as much as I did, if only to appreciate the work that goes into each piece of clothing.

Have a lovely weekend
Sammy xxx

Images and videos via Dior, Chanel and Schiaparelli on YouTube.

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Let's meet... Wolf & Moon

This month we had a chat with Wolf & Moon who make the most amazing Jewellery!  H has a few of their necklaces and shared the love with Sammy for Christmas with a pair of earrings, so it must be good!  We sat down for a chat with Hannah to find out a bit more about her.

Valentine's Swap

 A few weeks ago I saw via the wonderful world of Instagram that Ladybird Likes was setting up a Valentine's swap.  Now, I am not into Valentine's Day and it doesn't really bother me either way if people celebrate it or not.  I think it's nice if you want to and just as okay if not.

Anyway, I do like a good swap and so I thought I would get involved.  My swap partner was Emma and Zoe from Ladybird Likes had given us our Instagram names so that we could do a bit of finding out about the person.

Mine arrived last week, but I decided to wait until Valentines day anyway, as why not.  I got loads of lovely things and Emma had totally got that I am into owls and tea!  I can't imagine why she would have got that feeling!  There were chocolates and sweets too, which came in handy for my packing yesterday!  The Chai tea will be a little celebration for later in the week, but more about that another time.

Thanks so much to Emma and the lovely things she sent, I am loving the postcards too and they will adorn my walls soon.

Hope you all had a lovely time whether you celebrated the day or not!


Love it: Simply Sewing Magazine

I have a quick question for you, is there room on the heaving shelves of the craft section in your newsagent for yet another sewing magazine?  My first answer if you had asked me a month or so ago when I first heard about Simply Sewing would have been a big fat no.  However, as I saw images and samples coming my way via their publishers and on social media my initial thoughts wavered.  Finally on Wednesday the real thing landed on my desk and I have to say I was reeeeaaally hoping it was going to be as good as the promise...

The great news is that it surpassed my expectations, like, a-lot.  I was excited to read pages of good looking projects, realistic projects that are actually wearable using stylish fabrics.  Packed full of really great tips and tricks for beginners and seasoned sewers.  A good variety of clothing, home sewing and crafty sewing projects make the first issue a nicely rounded overview of what is to come in future issues.

It is not Tilly Walnes on the cover (although they could be twins!) She does grace the pages with an interview and a great up-cycling project.  I don't want to show you too much because I don't want to spoil it for you all, but how cute is this little bunny bag below!  I have seen a few versions of these but I love the grey and blue colour scheme they have used for this series projects.

I think it has hit a great gap in the sewing magazine market, a sweet spot for those of us who spend hours on blogs and Pinterest yearning for the 'sewers' version of Mollie Makes.  The layout is clean and crisp with great photography throughout.

The clothing projects are trendy but not too fashion forward so as to limit their appeal.  I think their crafty cousin (Mollie Makes) would be very proud of what they have given us in the d├ębut issue.  I only wish they had gone with a different name for a magazine, with such style it could have taken a more unique title. The project on pg 43-45 offers up a far more interesting option for a possible title??

They are onto a winner signing up one of my favourite bloggers Portia Lawrie for a regular feature and for now at least there are a bunch of great sewing tips in the back pages.

You may have noticed there was no photo of the free fabric that came with my issue... well I couldn't help myself and whipped up a couple of quick zip pouches, a drawstring bag and some embellishments with my freebie.  What will you make with yours?  They have their own hashtag set-up too, tag your craftiness with #sewcialsparkle .

So, yeah, I'm a little smitten with this new offering, I can't wait to see what's up next.  To find out why I am so excited pick up your copy from all good news agents now or sign up for a subscription and get the first 3 issues for £5, Bargain!

Have you already grabbed your copy??  We would love to know what you think, Let us know in the comments below. Seriously tell me what you think, I am off the International Hobby, Craft and Stitch on Monday and I want to take all my comments and yours to the team behind Simply Sewing. Have a great weekend.

Sammy xxx

P.S. To be clear for anyone who remembers a magazine a few years ago under the same name, this is not the same magazine and it has no affiliation with the publisher who ran that magazine.  Simply Sewing is published by Immediate Media, who were the owners of the late Cloth magazine before it's run was cancelled.

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Make it: Geometric Heart Cushion + Free PDF Download

Love is really in the air as there are just 3 days until Valentines day. I have just added some yummy felt packs to my online store Sew Crafty Online so I wanted to make something to show what you could make out of them. I have been lusting after a geometric cushion for a while now as you can tell from our latest Pinterest board so I thought this project could be the perfect solution,

February Food round-up

Yey, we made it to February, to the snow, to the cold and to the month with Pancakes and Chinese New Year!  What's not to love!

So with that in mind I thought a little round-up of fun food for February was in order.

First up is some dairy free pancakes - of course you can make them non dairy free too, but I thought it would be good to find a recipe that I could have this year.  As I do love pancakes and I don't seem to have them enough!  These ones are from the BBC Good food website, always a great resource for all kinds of recipes.  I have found that its really simple to find recipes for people with intolerance's here too, alongside a search option by the ingredients you have in the cupboard.

Next up is these Sweet Potato Fries - I mean who wouldn't want some of these!  I would skip the cheese part, but apart from that they look so yummy.

Then, of course to go with some fries, try out this Vegan Burger that I saw Jamie making with Ellie Goulding on his Friday Night Feasts programme with Jimmy.  I do eat meat, but this looked so good to try and its always good to have some meat free days, so why not make them really really tasty!

and last, but definately not least, with Chinese New Year upon us soon, why not try your hand at these Chicken Wontons, how good do these look!  I really want to try these and so I feel the year of the Dragon will give me the excuse to have a go.  Not that I need an excuse really, more of a reason to get off my backside and have a go!

I hope you enjoyed this little round-up and of course you can always give one of these a go for Valentine's day.  Although I am not sure the meat lovers will appreciate a Vegan burger, but you could try!  Failing that, there is always the meal for 2 at M&S!

Now, I'm off to make a big shopping list,

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Make it: XO Valentines Gift Boxes

It is almost that time again where I have to engage my romantic side and come up with a gift idea for my hubby that doesn't involve my go-to Lego or Star Wars. It can be hard after 10 years together to come up with new ways to make your other half smile but I always think that the memories you share are the best way to celebrate Valentines. This year I have made my Steve a couple of little gift boxes, one filled with his fave chocolate and the other with my favourite memories of our time together.

I am going to give it to him before our traditional Shepherds pie dinner, then we can open them up and go through them all whilst we eat so we can enjoy remembering our best times together.

What are you planning for Valentines? In searching around for inspiration I found some great ideas from some of my favourite bloggers. Click over to the links to get some ideas for your loved one.
Head to Lovely Indeed for the perfect 'Galentines' prep, Sugar and Cloth for these cool Lipstick glasses, The Crafted Life for a collection of great printable Valentines cards, Oh Happy Day for these adorable crackers, Paper and Stitch for gorgeous gift bags, and Handmade Charlotte for the perfect fun dessert.

Sammy xoxo

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Love it: Cuttlebug Die Cutting Machine

At the beginning of January I made a sneaky purchase with some of my Christmas money and bought a Cricut Cuttlebug machine. I already have a Silhouette Cameo (which I use a-lot) and have had a Sizzex bigshot in the past but I donated it to H's work as I used to find it was a little cumbersome and therefore didn't really use it.  I love my Cameo but I wanted to do some work with foam and felt and due to the way that the silhouette cuts, you can't really use it well with felt.

I had heard great things about the Cuttlebug and loved the look of the compact design, what I also loved was that they brought out a limited edition one in stylish vintage green! It always helps to have pretty craft tools right.

I had some dies left over from when I had my Bigshot, I was a little annoyed to find that I needed to buy an extra 'C' plate in order to use them in the cuttle bug as it only comes with an 'A' and two 'B' plates. However some of my existing dies worked just fine and it came in the post super fast, then I was able to use all of them.

I had heard things about plates slipping and curving after time, but so far I haven't had any problems with either of those things.

If your not sure what the dickens I am talking about or what a die cutting machine does, it's basically a mangle with two rollers that uses metal dies to cut through paper, card, foam and fabrics.  You insert your material and a metal die in between the plates and the rollers push down with even pressure to cut and emboss the shape of your die in to the material.

As I said I particularly wanted to use it for cutting foam and felt, both of which it does beautifully. The only downside for me is that I am limited to the dies that I can buy ie. those that others design in fixed sizes. I think I have been spoilt with the freedom that comes with the Silhouette design studio software of being able to cut any design in any size. Having said that there are hundreds of dies out there and lots come with multiple size options.

The Kirsty Allsopp model does come with a few dies and an embossing plate but I did buy a few new dies as well of course, I think my favourite has to be this two part bow one from dimensions, this triple butterfly and the roll up rose.

As you can see I have been going a little crazy with the bow one!

This heart one will be really useful for Valentines and beyond and how beautiful are these feather ones. I bought my cuttlebug and all these dies from Crafts U Love which is one of my favourite places to buy craft supplies online.

All in all I would highly recommend this model if you are thinking of investing in a die-cutting system and can't commit to an electronic one. I love that you can use almost all of the other systems dies with it and for me the compact design means I am far more likely to keep it on hand and actually use it on a regular basis now. I am looking forward to trying out using it for some faux letterpress projects too as I have seen a few kits that you can use with these machines. Keep your eyes peeled for when I share my experiments.

I hope that helped if you are on the fence about getting one of these. Have you ever had a go with a die-cutting machine? Ever been fascinated to try one? Do you have one that's your favourite? Let me know your recommendations for places to buy dies from too please, I am a little addicted! I am looking for some good alphabet ones next.

Sammy xxx

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Check this out: Sketch

Way back last November we went along to Sketch in London for a little treat to ourselves and so I thought we should tell you all to go, it was amazing.

If you have not heard of Sketch, it is a restaurant in London famed for it's lovely food and unique decoration.  There are a few different eating and drinking areas to Sketch and all are decorated differently. The Gallery where we went is currently decorated by David Shrigley of greeting card and forth plinth fame.  The plates, salt and pepper pots and menu's were all decorated with Shrigley's unique style with around 239 new works adorning the restaurant walls.

The food really was lovely and we are planning on going back for afternoon tea soon as it looked so good.  Definitely a place for a special occasion or just a treat, why not!  Also if you follow them on Facebook, there is currently an offer to get £50 off your bill until the 1st March 2015 for Lunch or dinner, no Afternoon Tea unfortunately.


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