Tuesday, 15 May 2018

A Comedy of Errors, or Why I Shouldn't Be Allowed Near Fabulous Patterns

Okay if you follow me on Instagram (@Bad_Kitty_Corsets) you will have seen some glimpses of this skirt while I was making it. Due to work (what else?) I hadn't had time to take and edit some pics of me actually in it for this blog.

Cue a couple of weeks ago when I decided to give it an iron and get Sprogzilla to take some shots. Bad mistake. I recently bought a Singer iron to replace my old one. Not expensive and they make nice sewing machines right, how bad can their irons be? Bad enough to not keep a temperature or make steam. It is either glowing like the surface of the Sun or too cool to take out wrinkles on any setting. Plus my "cotton" wax print ended up melting, so obviously not cotton. Aaaargh! And yes, that is a lovely soft focus shot of my wheelie bins. What can I say, folks? I am on a roll.

Anyway, the last couple of weeks have been a total mare. What is not a mare is this fabulous Lisette Pattern, Butterick B6182 and I couldn't be happier about how easy this was to sew, how well drafted this pattern is or how lovely it looks made up. The wax print was a cheap "cotton" from Walthamstow Market and the zip is a vintage one from my stash.

I left off the pockets as although I have a ton of this fabric left I couldn't be bothered faffing about pattern matching. Oh the irony, me being me and trying not to waste fabric laid out the pattern piece without checking that the bottom layer was folded over enough as had to add in an insert into the bottom corner.

 You can tell if you look really hard but anyone staring that hard at the bottom of my skirt is likely to get a strong talking to so I am probably going to get away with it.

I managed to patch up the holes with a bit of fabric underneath that I carefully matched and hand stitched to reinforce the melted bits. The fabric is a bit puckered in places where it caught but didn't quite melt but I can live with that. I never, ever wear a top tucked in so this will hopefully remain our little secret. I haven't pressed this yet so it still looks a little more wrinkly than it does in real life. Honest.

Top tucked in to show the high waistband. Surprisingly comfy

Top untucked

So, in review. This is a completely fabulous pattern and I am an @rse who can't adult. I have done all the adjustments to the top shown on the pattern front so will be adding this to the long list of patterns that I have adjusted and not sewn up yet. If the top is as nicely drafted as the skirt I can't wait. This pattern makes a lovely skirt and I am adding it to the TNT pile as I will be churning out a whole load of these for work. Oh and the only adjustments that I made to this was to add about 4 inches in length.

Back View. You can just about about spot the exposed zip

So, come on spill. I can't be the only one that has had sewing disaster, or two in my case? Have you managed to work your way around it or has it ended up in the bin? 

Take care and have a great week!


Sunday, 6 May 2018

The Skint Garden: Though April Showers May Come Your Way

They bring the flowers that bloom in May.

Hopefully, although the garden has been mostly waterlogged so unless they are water lilies they might not stand a chance.

Hello lovelies, not much to report here from the garden. The weather has been too dull and cold for anything much to start growing. Except the weeds and the grass which took me 4 hours to cut. Should have borrowed a goat.

There are some flowers which have popped out. The rosemary and the French lavender are both in bloom bringing some much needed colour. The lavender is looking a bit neglected but it will get a trim and spruce up when it starts to grow a bit more.

Then there is this mystery plant from last year that was supposed to be an annual but has sprung back to life. Good thing that I never binned it as it looked all dried out and dead. It is such a lovely colour and needs a bit of TLC so I have started to feed and water it again.

Talking of miraculous resurrections, my rhubarb has sprung to life again. From a rotten looking crown that I never covered in the winter to full leafy glory.  It is going to need a bigger pot. I am glad that the weather has been a bit better. I even got some nasturtiums out. These were some of the ones that I found in the drawer. I think that they were from the pound shop but they all germinated so result! They will be mixed shades of cream, yellow and orange when they finally flower.

There have been a few more seed purchases but they are mostly the 29p ones from Lidl. It is their own fault for having them at the front door. I have to pass them to do shopping and the odd packet or two jumps into my basket. I can't resist them.

Since they are so easy to grow and the bees love them, I am making the front of the borders mainly chives. I have actually put out some of the dwarf lupins but as the grass is still so wet and a good hiding place for predators I covered them over with little cloches made from the top of plastic fizzy juice bottles. This will help to keep them warm, retain moisture till they establish roots and keep them safe from b@stard slugs and snails. Remove the tops as you still want the air to circulate or they could get a fungal infection and die back.

If you can't be bothered to start off chives from seed yourself,  give the garden centre ones a miss and buy a couple of potted fresh herbs from the supermarket. These always die off if you leave them on your windowsill as they are actually loads of tiny plants all in the one pot competing for water and food. If you look closely at them you can see just how rammed in they are.

I got this one from Asda in the reduced section (38p) and I have divided it into multiple little plants and planted in an circle.

You might want to get them used to being outside first by putting out in the garden in their pot and bringing them in at night if it is going to be cold. Saying that chives are fairly indestructible.

I bought these ones for 10p in the reduced section in Waitrose last year, planted them out a couple of weeks ago and they have gone a bit wild. These were just sad little strands but will form a nice big clump if you look after them. Chives don't like soil that is too poor or too dry so put down a good handful of two of rich compost when you are putting them in and water them for a couple of weeks until they put down new roots.

Purchases wise I have bought two seed compost grow bags from Lidl (£2.98) another bag of seed compost  and three plastic tray and inserts from Wilko (£8.98) and a whole load of cheap Lidl seeds (lost count but they are still there).

I am copping out out totalling up April's spend as it hasn't been much apart from the above and will add it to anything that I buy in May. Too grumpy with the heat to to go and search out all my new seeds packets. I have been out pottering about in the garden for a couple of days but it is too warm to get the final bits of the heavy digging done. Maybe tonight.

So have you been in the garden? Is yours gearing up or winding down? Amy recommendations for last minute sowing? Or is gardening not your thing?

Take care until the end of May!

K Xx

Sunday, 15 April 2018

More Frocking Holiday Snaps

Hello lovelies! I have been MIA for a bit as I have been up in Glasgow taking a few days R'n'R before I snapped and went postal. That's not entirely said in jest.

The weather was truly terrible except for the last day and I came down with a lurgy (which I still have) but I was actually glad to have some down-time as things have been a bit full on recently. Because it was too cold and we literally had horizontal snow we decided to do indoor stuff. 

Here are some photos from the Riverside Museum. It was the first time that I have been inside and I was really impressed, both with the building itself and with the displays. It houses the collection from the old Transport Museum and the Tall Ship is moored outside. 

Definitely something for the better weather. If you are in Glasgow I can really recommend it if you have a couple of hours to kill especially with kids (or big kids like me). 

There was a lot of different kinds of transport and some really witty displays that made good use of the space. These cars and bikes are up at the roof.

The highlight for me though was a selection of vintage dresses including one worn by Audrey Hepburn (the silver discs one by Paco Rabanne from "Two for the Road", also starring that red mini above!). These dresses were in revolving glass cases so please forgive the blurry photos. I think that a couple were Horrockses. 

Wouldn't this car just go so well with those dresses?

They had a little Edwardian street mocked up with shops that you could go inside. One was a dressmakers and there was this gorgeous dress in the window. Such beautiful detail. Beats Primani anyday.

There was one display that I just had to photograph especially for Vix, from the fabulous, "Vintage Vixen" blog. Isn't this bus just the absolute bizz? Beats the boring "corporation" bus livery any day. Hope you like it, Vix.

Well, I am off to take some more photos of my sewing, yes sewing, that I managed to utterly destroy. I shouldn't be allowed to adult. I am just not capable.

Did you take advantage of the Easter holidays to get out and about? Did you visit anything interesting? Stuck in work or just relaxing at home? Hope that you have had a nice time anyway.

Have a great week!


Thursday, 29 March 2018

The Skint Garden: March. A Natural Disaster.

Last year I moved into a rented Victorian house as I am working away from home and am dividing my time between here and home as best I can. The garden looked okay in the photos, it is a typical long strip the width of the house, but was a bit of an eyesore in real-life. A few half-hearted pots of annuals went in and they really cheered the place up but apart from that, with my horrendous workload and a slipped disc nothing has been done to it since last October and it is looking a bit sorry for itself. I can't even cut the grass as there is so much surface water on it at the moment due to it lying on clay. The garden is really long. The photo below doesn't show it all.

So, I am going to create a new series of monthly posts on reinventing the natural disaster out back and (hopefully) turning it into an oasis of cottage garden loveliness. I know that the place isn't mine but I love gardening, it takes me out of myself, cheers me up and lets me relax. Not being a very talented gardener I feel so utterly happy when anything grows. Plus, all the spare plants can go in my other garden or get swapped for stuff that I haven't raised myself. The garden is mostly grass. It is not smooth at all and is full of hidden dips which makes it dangerous to mow or to walk on unless you know which bits are okay. There is also a large area which is laid to gravel but was laid without proper weed protection material underneath making it a pain to keep up.

There is a tiny budget allocation (£100) to cover everything for the whole year, or until I move out, to be spent in chunks. There is more info on my "rules" here. I don't really want to throw money away on someone else's garden plus I am really cheap I want this to be a challenge and to encourage recycling, swapping and reuse of found things. As it was so lovely last summer outside it would be really nice to have somewhere to sit and read or knit in when the better weather finally arrives.


The weather this year has turned the garden in places into a recreation of the Somme. Soil in the garden is appallingly bad, mostly clay and terrible sub-soil filled with stones. A lot of it was dug out and riddled last year but is now covered in weeds. The soil is pretty loose still thankfully which has made weeding quite easy. It will need some grit and sharp sand dug in at least a couple of the beds as I plan to grow lavender, rosemary and thyme and it will all need some organic matter and a good feed with slow release fertiliser before it gets planted up properly.

I am a cheeky mare. One of my neighbours is renovating the empty house next door and I asked him if I could have the bricks that were skipped. Heavy work, I can only lift 4 at a time, but I have been using them to divide and edge each section of the border along the fence to the bottom of the garden. It is slow going as I am finding the heavy lifting and digging tough. Worth the effort though I think in the end. They are currently sat in a pile on the "patio area" which looks like the place that old slabs go to die and is in a shaded corner of the garden making it a bit useless for sitting out on. I will have to lift the slabs and re-lay them but it is far too muddy for me to even think about that just now.

Existing Plants/Seeds

There were some orphan seed packets lurking in a drawer in the kitchen so there is the following:
  • HERBS: Basil, Dill (x2); Thyme (x2); Chives (x2).
  • VEG: Swiss Chard (x2); Spinach; Courgettes; Globe Courgettes.
  • FLOWERS: Heliotrope; Dwarf Scented Lupins; Nasturtiums (x2 - one "Empress of India" and one trailing mix) plus a packet of blue Lupin seeds that I found in a drawer upstairs.. 
There's was also a packet of 2 tiny rooted Aquilegias (that were actually 3 -  complete bonus!), 2 small rosemary plants, the stragglers of my herbs from last year and a climbing red rose bush in my stash. All of the above don't count as they were bought before I had this idea (see I am cheating already). The garden was also infested last year with Lemon Balm (Melissa) which is lovely and there is some which has been overwintered in a pot. I also have a rhubarb in a pot but I am not sure if it is still alive.

I already have a spade, some hand tools, some tree loppers, a riddle, a saw, secateurs and garden twine. It is not a lot. Buying seed trays is out the window so they are going to be recycled from some plastic ready meal containers and fizzy juice bottles.

The Plan

I have also ordered Aquilegia "Nora Barlow", Thyme, Bee Balm and Garlic Chives from eBay. (£3.96); Vervain, Shasta Daisy, Cosmos, Feverfew and Lemon Catnip (£5.25); and bought a rake, seed and cutting compost, plant labels and some blood, fish and bone meal (for the rose bush) from Asda (£9.26). I also bought three packets of seeds from Lidl for 29p each, bless 'em. (Cornflowers, Cosmos and Californian Poppies) and also bought some seeds from Wilko (Linaria, Borage, Echinacea, Swan River Daisies and Achillea) which came to a total of £3.50. On the whole the colours scheme will be whites, reds, pinks, blues and purples with the odd dash of pale yellow flung in places. Most of the plants that I have chosen are the "beneficial for pollinators" kind as I love butterflies and bees. I am also going to try to grow some of the seeds in the waste ground at the back of the fence which is really another part of the garden. It belongs to the house but is just full of rubble, nettles and brambles. It gets lots of butterflies.

No idea what will come up or indeed if anything will. The border is well over 60ft long and about 3ft deep sloping down to about 2ft. That is a whole lot of plants. When I moved in there were a few stumps in the borders which are growing back in as Laurels. Not my favourite plant but at least they will provide some structure and greenery. The place is a complete mess right now but I am really looking forward to seeing what I can do with it. Gardens always look a bit forlorn at this time of year. I will tell myself that anyway. I am actually looking forward to all the hard work ahead and have been binge watching Monty Don and Alan Titchmarsh on Netflix. Don't mind not having their budgets but I really do wish that I had someone to help me with the hard landscaping parts. Still no pain, no gain!

March Total Spend: £22.84
Total Remaining: £77.16

So do you have a garden? Like to grow things? Have any tips for creating the perfect cottage garden or have you got a different planting style? Do you find gardening difficult or think that napalm or mono-block is the answer to everything? Do tell.


Monday, 5 February 2018

Out With the Old. In with the New (Look 6471).

Okay, so maybe it's a wee bit late for the end of November deadline for the Sewcialists' TNT Month  (only 3 months but hey, who's counting?) but I was almost finished at the time and considering my recent sewing output that was a major achievement. November I was up to my eyeballs in work as we were winding down towards year-end and it has not let up since, maybe even got worse, not ideal for sewing or for taking photos. This top has been finished since the start of December but unblogged as I never managed to get any dodgy phone pics until now so thanks to a grumbly Sprogzilla.

So this is my second version of the NL6471. This time with long sleeves and in some sort of crinkly poly fabric that I bought from Fenwick's in Newcastle a few years ago. They weren't obvious at the time but there are a few printing faults in this fabric so I am not best pleased. This is one of those rare occasions when I actually paid full-price for a fabric as it has a lovely vintage feel to the print. It is busy though, a bit like wearing your Nan's curtains. 

Currently, my wardrobe is desperately short of things that feel comfy and look smart-ish for work. This year I am going to try to live up to the "dress for the job you want" mantra. Being a bit of a bag lady most of the time I could do with scrubbing up a bit now that I am supposed to be a responsible adult. Still not really sure that the top lives up to its legend. After seeing photos of me in it, it is probably the least flattering thing that I own. The fabric hangs weirdly off my not inconsiderable bust and it just makes me look HUGE (not mentioning the 10lbs of Christmas-related chub at all). If I didn't love the sleeves and the fact that it goes so well with my necklace I might have consigned this to the charity shop pile but it has a reprieve for now.

Definitely something more drapey for version 3 (that is already cut out in something suitable that I have had in my deep stash for about 15 years!!). I have had this necklace for about a decade and think it was from Monsoon but can't remember exactly. It's only been worn it once since I bought it but it's quite a good match for the fabric and the style.

So to round up this top is a very simple sew although this fabric was a challenge. It was quite shifty when I was cutting out and I hand-basted everything before sewing it on the machine.  The neckline was a bit of a struggle this time around. I ended up ripping it out 3 times and finally lowered the neckline by about 1.5 inches on this version but this was the only additional change that I made (see this post for the others). Looking at the pics I could do with a slight sway-back adjustment but that would be easy with the centre back seam. It isn't rippled in real life.

If you are wondering why all the photos have my head cut off then behold the horror that is me after a 10-hour shift in the office. Half a head but that is all you are getting since I was a make-up free zone and looked like I was going to cry. It was bloody cold today so I layered it up with a black silk cami and a velvet swing jacket from Biba. Swing jackets and big boobs are not best friends I think but this jacket is nice and has a big bow detail on the back collar.

Anyway, to recap I really enjoyed taking part in the TNT Month Challenge and have something on the cards to use up some more stash for the current "Sew Stripes" one. Challenges are great as they make me do stuff. I might not be sewing fast but I have got my mojo back, which is fabulous. I am now even contemplating the Sticher's Guild SWAP 2018 after seeing the rules on a post by The Demented Fairy and have started embellishing my RTW item. Thanks to everyone at the Sewcialists for the MoR reboot!

So are you sewing any challenges or making anything? Or completely side-tracked by life or work? 
Do tell!
Take care until next time.
K xx

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Book Review: Draping: The Complete Course

Hello Lovelies! I was packing up some stuff to bring from home when I came across this book. I thought that I had reviewed it but can't find the post anywhere. I must have been having a senior moment. Doh!

The book in question is "Draping: The Complete Course" by Karolyn Kiisel, published by Laurence King Publishing. The book itself is  a pretty weighty tome, standing in at a very informative 320 pages plus a DVD with 32 video tutorials.  

I don't know how many of you have tried your hand at draping or even want to give it a go but are a bit clueless where to start. If so then this might just be the book for you. The main body of the text is preceded by an introduction outlining all the tools that you need, followed by three sections covering Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced Draping. 

Each of the main sections is broken down into several subsections all covering draping theory along with some projects as examples for each technique. Each section is illustrated with a mixture of full-colour photographs and diagrams.

The Beginning Draping Section covers:
  • Draping the Woven Panel

  • Dresses (Like this copy of Audrey Hepburn's iconic Givenchy dress from Breakfast at Tiffany's)
  • Corsets (my favourite section and a garment that I have draped many times. This one is Lacroix, Darlings).

Intermediate Draping covers:
  • Skirts
  • Blouses 
  • Trousers
  • Knits
All of the above in every variant you can think of including bodice variations, seaming, darts and dart positioning and sleeves all all kinds. It is really, really comprehensive. I love the two blouses below, especially the Gibson Girl style.

Look at these bonkers Harem Pants as worn by the glorious Nijinsky in the Ballet Russes

Advanced Draping Covers:
  • Coats and Jackets
  • The Grand Gown
  • Draping on the Bias
  • Improvisational Draping
My favourite are the grand gowns and there are some great ones as inspiration, everything from Lady Gaga, Glinda from the Wizard of Oz to Vivienne Westwood frocks.

I am going to caveat this review by stating that I have't had a chance to do many of the exercises in the book (except the corset ones) but am hoping to give at least a couple of the others a go this year. 

So to round up, this book has pretty much everything. Even if you will never give draping a go then the information on darts, grain lines, seaming and a wealth of other topics contained within would provide you with a better understanding of how garments are constructed and how patterns are made. There is also good information on fashion history. This along with the colour illustrations makes for a lovely book and a really interesting read. I think that this book would be invaluable if you want to design and make garments to your own designs or where no commercial patterns exist, like historical costuming or cosplay, and would allow you to create or copy just about anything. If draping is something that you fancy giving a bash then I can't recommend this book enough.

Have you ever tried draping or designing your own garments? Do you make your own patterns or think that it is all too much of a faff when they are so readily (and cheaply) available?

Hope that you are having a great week!
K xx

Disclaimer: I bought this book with my own money. All opinions are most definitely mine.