Craftie: Sewing for beginners

Hellos!

So i mentioned in a recent post that i had signed up for a beginners sewing class in Belfast, inspired by my recent sewing machine purchase. I have always loved crafting but sewing is something i have only ever made the MOST basic attempts at i.e sewing on a button or sewing up a rip. However i love vintage clothes, and part of the shopping for vintage clothes is keeping an eye out for a great find rather than shopping for a size.

So far the idea of altering a piece of clothing has been daunting. Now, i do have a few pieces i’ve purchased that didn’t fit and paid someone to alter for me, often paying more than the purchase price to have it altered. My favourite vintage find is a gorgeous real silk, Chinese style dress which still had the tags on it which i found in a charity shop in Antrim of all places, for a fiver (£5)!! Then paying a small fortune to have it altered from a UK size 14 to a UK size 8 but i adore it, although totally haven’t been able to find the right venue to show it off at yet.

I know altering clothes is a long way off but I had to start somewhere and this class really did set a good foundation to learn from.

The Class


The class was at Lizzie Agnew’s studio on Queens Street Belfast. She is an award winning bridal designer from Northern Ireland, creating gorgeous vintage inspired gowns. I discovered The Lizzie Agnew School of Dressmaking through an evening of google hunting for some local basic sewing classes.

Lizzie was lovely, and there were only 4 girls in the class (myself included) which meant that we were able to get the personal time and assistance necessary when learning a new skill. Even though in the class i was working on a much older, industrial model of a sewing machine i was able to develop a basic understanding of sewing machines. So when it came to starting up my machine, for example threading the bobbin, even when i came across difficulties i was able to take me time and fix the problem rather than panic.


  In the class we were taught how to hand sew buttons and hems, basic machine use, machine hemming, and reverse stitch. Using the reverse stitch was honestly the most difficult part and demonstrated something i didn’t know was such a necessary skill for any basic sewing project.

  Lizzie Agnew’s School of Dressmaking offers a ranging of sewing classes from this one day course, to 8 week foundation dressmaking courses through to a bridal dressmaking course for sewing pros at varying prices. Anything beyond the absolute beginners class is a bit pricey for me right now, but maybe in the future once I’ve had some practice. I have made some basic sewing attempts on my machine now, but I am going to make a separate update post 

  More sewing updates to come soon.

Maebhe x

MadeByMaebhe: Terrarium or Fairy Garden

So as seems to be the course of my life at present – I have been sent another curve ball, although this one is a little more positive, I got a new job – not exactly where i want to be career-wise yet. Its a nice progression but it has been an adjustment and the cause of my most recent leave if absence.

However during this down time i have discovered a new love….Gardening. It has been fun to get a little green fingered and create something living. And now i have a little green spot in my room which makes me ridiculously happy.

So i thought i would share my little creation with you and show you how easy it is to make one for yourself.

Here is my glorious little terrarium:

 Its quite a small terrarium on the overall scale of things, although i have already purchased the bowl for my next littl world, but it suits my room and i love it.

Here are all the things you will need to make your own:

  •   Some mini plants – The little potted succulents shown below, I purchased from a local gardening shop for a pound a plant and the little loose plants are from my parents garden (if taking plants for outdoors just make sure to wash the roots well before planting to remove any bugs etc). However there is a wide array of plants to choose from both succulents and cacti so be adventurous!
  • A glass jar or container of your choosing – glass is best and a jar with some depth is easiest.
  • Pebbles/Stones – I choose ornamental glass stones in purple. These are very important as they are necessary for drainage as your container wont have any.
  • Soil – Normal potting soil is perfect.
  • Decoration – Optional – there are some great examples online where some very talented people have used tiny doll house furniture to make miniature gardens etc so get creative.

      

 
Assembly
After you have collected everything you will need it is just a matter of assembly.

1. Gently wash your container and stones with water and a little soap. Rinse well to remove all detergents and dry before planting.
2. Place a layer of stones along the base of the container for drainage.
3. Then add your layer of soil, maybe two inches worth to create a foundation for your foliage.
4. Now the fun bit! Arrange and plant your succulents, cacti etc.I found it easiest to remove my plants from their pots and set them in my glass jar to arrange them first before planting them, so i was happy with the overall appearance.
5. My chosen stones included some large purple bubble like stones which i used as decoration. However you can be as as adventurous as you like, these little gardens are lovely just as they are.
6. And your Done!!! Spray your terrarium once a week, dont over water them as it will drown the root system. so just keep the soil moist.

A little extra gardening just to brighten up the page: I got a little distracted while shopping for my terrarium supplies and ended up buying two trays of violas which have now been distributed artfully around my parents garden.

If you decide to give these little terrariums a go or if you own one already i would love to see them! It truly is lovely bringing a little bit of nature inside.

Maebhe x

Tea Blog: Baking Bonanza

Hello everyone,

Since i have returned home there has been a little bit a Baking Bonanza in my family home! I have returned home for the majority of my third semester to complete my dissertation – a situation i never thought i would voluntarily put myself in after completing my first dissertation during my BA. But there has been a hormonal/celebratory bout of baking going on in my house during my first week home.

Mum also made Ida Garten’s German Chocolate cupcakes which you can click on the link on her name to check out but they are far too difficult for me to try and explain. 🙂 But they are incredibly delicious and i had alot of fun sneaking as many of them out of the fridge as possible.

And this is just a week before my birthday which resulted in an amazing Doogies Goodies cake. This is the best bakery ever in my opinion and i wont get my birthday cake from anywhere else. Its a bright pink bakery in Ballymena – really close to my old secondary school so i promise this has been a long term love affair with their everything. 🙂

Now back to baking

The Fifteens

The first treat in my baking bonanza  (although there really isnt any cooking involved for these magical buns) I discovered as part of my Masters in Edinburgh is a phenomenon from Northern Ireland.  I didn’t realise until during The business of Magazine lecture, a fellow Northern Irish student ran up to me in a state of shock informing me that nobody else in our class knew what a fifteen was. It is a bun/biscuit which defines my years as high school called a Fifteen. They are called fifteens and I was taught how to make these in Home Economics class and they are incredibly easy. They have 5 ingredients and you are supposed to use 15 of the each of the 3 main ingredients – so Dead Easy :). And therefore resulted in an emergency run to Tesco’s to buy baking baking supplies to make these  for my next magazine lecture. They were well received and i hope if anyone decides to give them a try i would love a photo etc and hear what you think :):

Now some instructions for if you want to give these a go yourself:

Step One.

Take your fifteen digestive biscuits and out them in a bowl or giants resealable bag and break them into crumbs – i used a rolling pin but just whatever your method just make sure there are no huge lumps of biscuit left at the end.

Before:
 
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After:
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Step Two.

Add your marshmallows and glazed cherries – again 15 of each but this is really up to you. You can use as many or as few as you like and if your not a cherry fan you can replace them with another fruit of your choose but these ingredients are for a ‘classic’ fifteen. If you have large marshmallows you have to cut them into quarters or as you can see from mine i bought mini marshmallows and through them all in. The cherries are also best if they are cut in half this means they can be better distributed through out the mixture.

When it comes to quanties – just remember there needs to be, maybe a third, more digustive crumbs than marshmallows/cherries.

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Step Three.

Time to add a tin of condensed milk. In this case I buy a standard tin but as with all my baking method, I eye ball the measurements. Add most of the tin and you want to mixture to combine to form a solid consistency. As we are wanting to form a roll with the contents. so mix until you are happy and its becomes lift-able but still soft and not crumbly.
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Step Four.

Final stage – When you are happy with your consistency like below roughly.
Take a sheet of clingfilm or tinfoil (I did both because my cling was a little narrow but you don’t half to). Layout on a flat surface and shake out a layer of unsweetened coconut flakes and layout on top your fifteen mixture, sprinkle more on top to cover them entire roll (this is easier if your mixture is a little damp).
Now wrap the roll with your wrap of choice and place in the fridge overnight to firm up.
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Finally.

These are the finished fifteens – I planned a photo of the finished buns but my mum got in there first! Biscuit thief! But they didn’t last long after this so you are lucky to see them at all. Just slice up the firmed up roll to your desired thickness with a cuppa tea.

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Please share with we me if you give these a try and let me know what you think:
Twitter: @NeverWhere2306 Instagram: @Neverwhere2306

Also i want to know if anyone else recognises these buns or is it a northern irish thing?

First DIY project: Hollow Book/ Book Clutch

Okay since this is fairly new to me i thought i’d start of slow and give a little tutorial on how to make my fabulous book clutch, which has been become my latest crafty addiction altogether it took 3days to make but should only take 2 if you have everything at hand…unlike me :), however it does need to be left over night ot dry.

However this doesnt just have to one for the Girls but with one minor subtraction one a bright red ribbon it can simply become a hollow book to hide anything your please: from hidding your money from your siblings or your favourite sweeties, while looking to all the world like your doing something educational….reading a book 😀

So What your going to need…..

1. a good sized hard back book – mine is a 437page long novel so because your dont want to go through all the pages, some need to be left dor support, its needs to be a good size or you’ll struggle to fit anything into it. But dont worry to much about weight, because it becomes lighter without the pages unless your going for a very large book. Mines also just has a plan black finish with silver writing on the spine but you can get a prettier one if you like 🙂 p.s. charity shops and 2nd hand bookshops are great for getting cheep hardbacks – dont destroy any important books, or your parents without asking :s

2. a Stanley knife – To remove the pages to great your hollow space – just be careful please.

3. PVA glue and a OLD small paintbrush – to make your hollow space solid and to atach your ribbon or magnet (alternitive closure).

4. Felt or fabric – to line your hollowed book. p.s. is a little finiky to do.

5. A ribbon or fabric – to act as a closure for your book. Or a magnets – i didnt because it seemed harder on some of the tutorials. Sorry.

6. Clingfilm or Cellophane
So lets get started…..

  • First you need to work out the size of the hollowed square space your going to cut out. The most important is to leave ruffly 2cm/roughly3/4 of an inch from the outside of the book where the pages edge is, for support whithout only about 1cm between your hollow square and the spine. and 1-2cm above and bellow.
  • Also leave a couple of pages(3) at the start of the book before you start cutting – 1 to hide where you attach your ribbon and 1-2 pages to add to the hidden effect of your book.
  • Next take your stanley knift and begin cutting out your square. You can draw your square onto your book with a pencil to help or cutout  a cardboard square template to help, but make your template smaller then your desired size as it will get harder the deeper into the book you go. I free handed mineand it turned out okay. Remove the cut out pages as you go to make it easier.
  • If it begins to dovetail a bit, meaning the sides start to slope in a bit done panic, it wont be perfect and you can go back to touch up the edges when your done.
  • DONT go all the way to the back page – I stopped at 375/437, so depending on how deep your book leave 75-100 pages to support it.
  • Once you have cut to out your space, take your PVA glue and place a small amount (size of a coin) into a dispoible plastic lid or tub, and use your paint brush to coat the inside of your hollowed space. Give it a good coating as well as the seal between the next uncut page and the walls of your hollowed space to keep the bottom attached to the walls. Go back for more glue of desired.
  • Now we need to leave this over night to dry. Take a sheet of clingfilm/cellophane and place this over your hollowed space – this stops the glue drying to the first couple of spare pages and close your book and place something relatively heavy ontop to force the pages together. I used a piggy bank, but you can use encycopedias or more hardback books and leave over night to dry.
  • Mine was ready when i returned from Uni- next day, so remove you clingfilm and tap the sides to make sure they are hard. We are now going to attach your Ribbon. You need 2x 30com pieces of ribbon, whatever colour you like, so its long enough to tie and glue down 4cm to the back of you hardback cover. Pva on the back of your ribbon and place in the middle, on the inside of your cover as well as dot glue on the rest of the back of the cover and more on top of the ribbon.
  • And the press the first page of your book to your glue coated cover. As seen below this will hide were the ribbon is attched inside your book. Repeat on the back cover .
  • If you want to start lining your hollowed space right away rather than wait a couple of hours to dry, i’d advise using hair clips or bulldog paper clamps to hold the ribbon in place and try not to force the cover to wide open while your working on the inside or the ribbon might move or lift.
  • As im sure you can tell from my 2nd photo my lining didnt work perfect so be careful when your measuring the lengths of the base your space if the walls of your space are tiy you can leave them or cut more felt to the length and depth required and it will help to protect the pages from things like your phone moving about inside.
  • Using another coat of PVA coating the sides if attaching felt there but now also adding a coat of PVA across the bottom of the hollowed space to line the bottom and your done! but leave for the rest of the day to fully dry before filling or using.
  • For the magnet closure you have to create a space using a stanley knife on the inside of the hardback cover where the ribbon alternativly is as well as a small space for the other magnet between your hollow and the outside edge of your book. make sure they match and glue securely in place. The magnet will work better for just using a hiding place but will work for the clutch also just be carefull have much weight is in the clutch.
  • And Enjoy! 🙂 🙂
I hope this was help, i’d love to hear and see any of your works or version and any critiques on how your feel would improve my blogging.
But thank you for taking your time to read this and i can’t wait to hear from your’s soon.
   x