Friday, 18 April 2014

My Ballroom Dress: Inspiration

Now that I have finished my latin dress (link to finished post) my next major project is a ballroom dress. This is quite a step up in complexity from anything I've ever really done before. But I don't really want to spend a ridiculous amount of money buying a custom made dress nor do I want to get a cheaply made dress, so a steep learning curve and hopefully the outcome will be a well made dress for a significantly smaller price tag. I also have a little bit of a challenge since I am going up to intermediate level on the dance circuit next year which means I can wear open dress, the uni circuit starts at the end of October/beginning of November... So ideally I have until then to design and construct my ballroom dress... eeeek!

So this is the first post in a series which will hopefully guide you through my discovery of ballroom dress designs and my (hopefully successful) journey to making my first ballroom dress!


and now onto the actual inspiration...I actually have to say that a lot of the dresses that I have seen online I haven't really liked that much. It seems that feathers and adornments are quite fashionable and I really don't want any of them! 


image source: http://dress.danceplaza.com/DATA/73/74273_1_gallery.jpg
So many feathers! I'd feel like a bird dressed in this! And there are some crazy coloured dresses out there. Pretty much ever crazy colour combination you can think of there will be a dress out there made with it. 



Dresses that I like more are some of the following.




image source:
seahunter ebay store






This dress has a lovely binding on the bottom of it. The crinoline (or horsehair braid) gives it more body. Nice use of patterned fabric as well. Although I'm not such a fan of the sleeves/floats.









image source: Seavex ebay store





Another use of crinoline binding on the hem of this dress although it is a thinner crinoline and there is a significantly longer hemline. Not sure if I like this style quite so much. 
The colour would definitely be noticeable on the floor though...










image from http://designstoshine.com/ballgowns/b13124-isle-de-mint/








This dress I really like the colour of, although I'm not too keen the back, nor the shiny fabric. I think I'd prefer something matte.










image source: swanstudioau ebay store



I love love love the colour of this dress, and I actually quite like the back of it as well. It also uses crinoline in the hem, but in such a way that it is not exposed when it is finished. 
A little bit too much volume to the skirt I think though. 








 
image from fioreballroomdesigns
(http://www.fioreballroomdesigns.com/album_large24.html)





I really like the back on this, although I wouldn't necessarily want it to be so low.
But I want more volume in the hem of my skirt than there is in this one. This just seems to hang there (although skirts like this can move a lot when you spin and turn)
















There are so many different styles and constructions of dresses out there. I am going to have to look at a lot more and then come up with a list of the features that I want/ colour schemes and try to make a design where the features complement each other. 

I also need to have a long look at materials used in the construction of the dresses, most of the materials they use I will never have sewn with before and I don't think I can get away with using t-shirting in it...

We also have a pinterest board where we have pinned a lot of images and dresses for inspiration about ballroom dresses. Pippa is also planning on making her own ballroom dress so expect some posts about that soon hopefully =)


Nikki

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Rag Rug Project

Well this project has been in the works for a little while now, it is taking me quite a long time as I am doing little bits to it here and there. But I thought I would post about my inspiration for making my rag rug and how far I have got so far. Later on I will post a tutorial about it =)

A while back we had a clear out of some old t-shirts and Pippa made some strips from them and crocheted together a phone holder. It was very nice and soft and I thought a lovely way of reusing/upcycling the old t-shirts, which got me thinking about other ways to use them. 

I also saw a few things on pinterest, there are a number of different ways to make a T-shirt rag rug, the main ones are linked below:

You can make a long piece of fabric from lots of strips attached end to end, this can then be crocheted or stitched together in a circle usually:


using a strip and crocheting, then sewing
image from: http://cuadadesign.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/plaited-rag-rug-tutorial.html

Another method uses strips of fabric which are tied through or looped through a backing fabric to provide a ruffled finish to the rug.
a very different finish
image from: http://mollykaystoltz.com/t-shirt-shag-rug-tutorial/
I have decided to go for the second method because I think it will provide a much better feeling under my feet. I actually got the inspiration to start this because I found some hessian bags for sale in a local charity shop and decided they would make a good backing. In hindsight I should have either used half of the bag or got a plastic rug mesh backing to use with slightly larger holes... but oh well you live and learn.

I started off around the outside first and then started filling in the middle. In an ideal world I would just use fabric from old t-shirts and other suitable clothing, however it's hard to find t-shirts that are in a wide variety of colours, I would mainly have had a yellow and blue rug with white edging... so instead I may have bought some fabric from fabricland in a wide variety of colours to make my rug look really cool. 


Here is some of my fabric:


ragrug5

And it cut into strips:


ragrug6


The start of my rug with it's white edge:


ragrug1


Further into the project, still a long way to go though:


ragrug2



and how it looks at the moment.... I'd say it might be about halfway finished...possibly 

ragrug4


Well there's still lots more to do, so next time I sit down in front of the tv I'll be sure to get the rag rug out and add some more strips. I will post a tutorial when it is complete =)

Nikki

Monday, 14 April 2014

Colour Inspiration: Bouquet

This colour pallet could be used as inspiration colours for a wedding, birthday party or just redecorating the lounge.

The image was from here, but the original was from Style Me Pretty, but the correct link is missing so if anyone knows it please let me know.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Weekly Roundup: 13th April

Monday:
We went to Ikea again and bought some flooring to put down in the downstairs toilet as an extra layer between our toes and the cold terracotta tiles. It will also hopefully stop it being as damp in there
http://www.ikea.com/gb/en/catalog/products/70238112/
New Flooring

Tuesday:
Nikki baked Creme Egg Brownies.
creme_egg_brownies_icon

The recipe was posted on Thursday, and we have been doing some blog 'spring cleaning' and have updated our Tutorial and Recipes pages to be nicer to look at and easier to find things so go and check them out and pick up this yummy recipe whilst you are there...

Wednesday:
Nikki baked strawberry and almond traybake, and I finally tried the cooked ham hocks that Sainsbury's do for dinner. It was wonderful and there was more than enough for three of us for dinner and leftovers for me the next day :-)

traybake


Thursday:
I volunteered at BHF again for the afternoon and came back with two new tops... Nikki left to stay at her other half's parents for the weekend.
My other half went home today as well leaving me home alone to find a suitable pattern for this lovely material in my stash:




Friday:
Home alone on Friday I caught up with some blog posts and general organisation, before deciding to create a pattern for this peasant blouse that I wanted to produce. Shortly after I finished drafting the pattern I got invited out for drinks. Would there be enough time to make up the top to wear out that evening...

Well apparently there was, although the sleeves need adjusting to remove the poofyness:


Saturday:
I did some more organising which resulted with me being sidetracked by a WIP so i spent a lot of time sewing up the bodice on that.
Also all this cleaning must be having some affect on me as I ended up ironing a set of curtains! but couldn't put them up as the tension rod was too small for my window :-( 

So I treated myself to another version of the peasant blouse with modified sleeves. I'm loving these 'instant gratification' projects and also the practical wearable additions to my wardrobe.



Saturday, 12 April 2014

Spring Cleaning: Fabric

Continuing on from last week there has been a lot more spring cleaning going on in this house... As you can see the charity shop pile has got a little bigger, even though I have taken one of the bags down already.

ForCharity


This week we have mostly been focusing on the Sewing Room and the Lounge, which used to be our fabric storeroom... We have managed to move most of the fabric out of there now and just have the Large boxes of scraps for Draught Excluders etc.

Most of the fabric has been boxed up and has made its way onto the shelving in the Sewing Room/Guest Bedroom. Here is what it looked like before:



Sewing Room
During Tidying...

Definitely at the stage of tidying commonly known as looking like a bomb has hit, the places definitely looks worse in the middle of tidying than it did at the start. Or at least in my case it does.

Fabric Boxes 2
The shelves afterwards
Afterwards all the fabrics are all boxed up neatly by type:

Fabric Boxes
Neatly in Boxes
All the little things that come with sewing, Thread, Elastic etc nicely put away in their own boxes. Hopefully this means I can now find what im looking for with out too much hassle.

Thread boxes etc
Threads, Elastic, Ribbons and Buttons each in their own place
threads
Now Hopefully I can find the colours we have.
Next to make the Lounge usable once more...

Friday, 11 April 2014

My Latin Dress: Finished!

So I have finally finished my latin dress! See all my posts about the making of my latin dress here. I have to say it took me quite a while to actually finish off the last little bit, because the fit of the top of the dress wasn't quite right and I put it off for a while. In the end all it needed was the neck strap to be shortened a little which raised the dress up a bit. I also put in hooks and eyes so that I can actually get into the dress without difficulty.

Ta-da! Here it is on me just after being finished.




I have to say I'm very pleased with how it turned out. If I made another dress in this style I would probably use stretch fringe though, because it is a little bit of a wiggle getting into it. Also I would make the top of the leotard wider as it seemed to shrink slightly when the fringe was added (although that might not happen if I was using stretch fringe)
I would also try to find sew on stones to attach to the top layer of fringe as the stick on ones seem not to stick very well to it.


So I have worn it a couple of times since I finished it, and here are some pictures of me dancing in it, Unfortunately there aren't very many since I only wear it for the team match and not for my actual latin competition as that is restricted dress.






Hopefully there will be many more photos when I get the chance to wear it more. But I'm very happy with how it turned out. If I get a chance I might try to write a post about how much it cost me to make it in comparison to how much it might have cost me to buy a dress of similar quality. 


Nikki

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Creme Egg Brownies!

Well it is coming up to easter now and part of that means creme eggs! I love these, and I wanted to do some baking, so I decided to combine the two and make some creme egg brownies. The recipe I used for this was a modified version of Mocha Brownies.


brownie_title

Recipe: (Makes 32 ish)

110g/4oz Butter
130g/8oz Plain chocolate in pieces
350g/12oz brown sugar
4 eggs
2tbsp coffee powder (dissolved in water and cooled)
170g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder

Optional:
110g/4oz roughly chopped pecan nuts
55g/2oz apricots chopped
55g/2oz dates chopped
Mini creme eggs (halved) to decorate
Large handful of Chocolate chips


brownie9brownie10
chopped fruit (dates and apricots)halved creme eggs 



Method:


  1. Grease and line a baking tray, pre-heat the oven to 180 deg C
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate together until smooth and set the mixture to one side
  3. Place the sugar and eggs together in a bowl/mixer and cream together until fluffy (this can take a while if using quite dark sugar)
  4. Fold in the chocolate mixture and cooled coffee and mix thoroughly.

  5. brownie8
    Mixing in the chocolate mixture
  6. Fold in the fruit, nuts and chocolate chips (whichever you choose to add)

  7. brownie4
    Add the fruit and chocolate chips
  8. Pour the mix into the prepared tin, then add the creme eggs to the top of the mix.

  9. brownie3
    Pour the mixture into the tin, make it fairly level
    brownie5
    Creme eggs arranged in the brownies, looking good
  10. Bake at 180 deg C for approx 25mins.
  11. Leave to cool and cut into pieces.
brownie_title
Looking good, and they definitely went down well, I've only got a few left!
Tips:

A few tips on how I might do it differently next time or important things to note:
brownie13
The amazing creme eggs! They taste so good.
I used mini creme eggs because I thought they would be much easier to portion up, however they got a bit swallowed by the mix, to make sure they can be seen I would probably either use the full sized eggs, or add them part way through cooking, maybe 5-10 minutes in, that way hopefully they won't sink/melt their way all the way into the cake. They still taste amazing though!
brownie2
The eggs have been slightly swallowed up...
I didn't use any nuts in this, because I tend not to have them in brownies (plus I know a couple of people with nut allergies) but if you like the texture then add them in. I substituted them with the fruit which does add a different flavour so bear that in mind when you choose what fruit to add.

It is quite a rich brownie mix, so you can cut it into fairly small pieces and it doesn't seem too small, although since it's soooo tasty you will probably be wanting multiple pieces anyway!

I have an issue with cooking brownies sometimes because I tend to overcook them and not manage to make them gooey. So just be careful not to leave them in the oven for too long. I would probably take them out a little before you think they are done, because they will stay warm for a while. 

Enjoy baking (and more importantly eating) them!


Nikki

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