Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Last Post of 2014, Creating Ms Clauses Costume

New Year is nearly upon us in Ireland, just 90 minutes to go so I better get this in before the stroke of midnight. 

Santa has been and gone for another year.  I had been talking about making a Santa costume for at least 5 years but only this year did I actually get around to doing it.  It took me a week, fully tailored.  I had so much fun making it, and even more fun wearing it.

Here's the journey in pictures...

First toile fitting.  Happy with the shape and fit.
Laying out the £2 red velvet curtain on my parents crazy carpet for cutting out.

Dyeing up silk for the lining.  So hard to find a post box red dye.
 Taking shape
Adding the poppers so the fur is detachable.  This means the garment can be washed and drycleaned.

Adding the poppers to the detachable sleeve cuffs.

Collar and cuffs.  Just the fur hem to do.  Using calico cloth to envisage how it will look.

Buttons on.  These are only for decoration.  A diamonte brooch looks like a glistening snowflake.

Adding sleeve rolls and shoulder pads.

Tacking still visible.

Herringboning up the skirt lining.

Pinning and placing on the silk skirt lining.  Honestly this was the best red I could achieve!

Black pre-folded bias binding for around the inside neckline.

Body lined.  Just the sleeves to do.

Pinning in place and then hand stitching in sleeve linings.

Hooks and poppers added for closures.  The finished garment from inside.
Testing out the tutu.

£3 charity shop patent belt added.

Great swing and oomph with the tutu.

After its first outing I decided I needed boot toppers to complete the costume.  But this will have to wait until 2015 Christmas.

Christmas Eve I walked into town and called into St George's market to wish my friends a very Happy Christmas.  I enjoyed wearing the outfit so much I continued to walk into Belfast city centre.  Seeing the 'Santa bus' parked in Royal Avenue, I waved at Santa and got invited onto the bus and drove around the city waving at everyone.  I got to sit beside the kids and asked them what the big man was bringing.  The kids loved seeing Mrs Claus, and it was worth all the effort to bring big smiles to wee faces. 

I hope everyone had a very special Christmas with loved ones.  I am really looking forward to 2015, I wish you all a wonderfully exciting New Year ahead.  Dream big, because dreams do come true!
Till next year
Christine xxx

Monday, 29 December 2014

Homemade Christmas Stockings

Now that its closer to New Years than it is to Christmas, it is about time I shared my homemade, handmade Christmas home and gifts.  A little late to make for this Christmas, but looking on the bright side, in plenty of time for next year!

So this is what can be made from a checked dressing gown.
Retro dressing gown

Dissecting to get enough fabric to make Christmas stockings
Tracing out a pattern for a giant sock onto card

Measuring out fur, ribbons and stacking up the front and back stockings

Laying out to make sure I have enough of everything

Making up the linings from Irish linen

Fully lined, ready for the fur toppers

All done and hanging across the mantle ready for Santa to fill.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all
Christine x

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Cushy numbers

I love comfort in the home, and no-where more important than the Living Room.  Comfort is diving into cushions and in my living room I have 14 and counting! 

I don't really understand the concept of having 'a good room'.  Rooms, especially 'Living Rooms' are to be lived in.  Somewhere you should feel comfortable to kick off your shoes and throw your legs up on the couch/sofa/chaise longue. A space where your friends should  feel comfortable to also kick off their shoes and relax!  I've had my sofa for 8 years and I can't believe its taken me to now to actually do something more colourful with it.  I mean, its brown!!! I think I have turned into my parents!
So while brown hides melted Dairy Milk smudges, it is also quite, lets be kind here, not very exciting.   Below I have tried to disguise it with a stripy woollen throw from Flaxmill Textiles.

In Belfast we have Titanic Film Studios where Game of Thrones has been based for Season 1-5.  I have been sewing costumes for Seasons 1-4 and we often get remnants and small scraps of fabric.

So I decided to brighten up the brown and make new covers from GOT fabrics.  Printed silk velvets, brocades, gold embroideries.  Velvets are perfect for sinking into on a big sofa...very sumptuous and luxurious! 

Testing out the best colours to match up with the colours in the throw.

Brown and out

 Patching up velvets to make a big cover.  Duck filled cushions....bliss!

Even the smallest scraps can be patched together.

Joffrey notices that now he's a goner, I have used his coat to make a cushion!
Image Credit Helen Sloan HBO

Mum crocheted the throw over the arm of the sofa.  More on my talented mum coming soon.  She's my inspiration.

 All the cushions have different fabrics for the back so can be plumped up either many options! So many colours!

 Now to sit down and sink into my sofa and listen to this fantastic wee tune from the Celtic Shores.
'Can Ye Sew Cushions' by Jean Redpath.  Love it!

Till next time
Christine x

Saturday, 8 November 2014

On Air: The Great Interior Design Challenge

By the time you read this the show will have aired and our fantastic winner of our heat will have been revealed....

But just in case you haven't had the chance to watch it just yet, I am saying nothing!!  The link to the show is at the bottom of this blog so you have no excuse. 
In this post I would like to share my journey on the GIDC.  It was amazing and perhaps will open the doors to many more adventures.
Once I received my brief, I started researching what my clients wanted.  Highlighting key words that they had asked for 'light airy, family friendly', amongst lots of others.  Preferred colours were also mentioned by the clients so I designed around that.  We also had to up cycle a hat stand and my clients had asked for a wallmounted TV unit to hide their flats screen.
I started my 3-dimensional mood board on my floor, walking past it, adding to, and taking away.  Until I was ready to spray mount it finally onto mounting board. 
The living room floor becomes a 3-D mood board.  Magazine tear outs, tiles, fruit bowls, fabrics, ceramics.

My mood board showing one side of the room.
Mood board, not completed, for the fireplace wall.
My ideas for the up cycle.  A feature light fitting was in my brief so I decided to make a feature chandelier from the hat stand.  The centre pole I used as one of my curtain poles.

Working sketch to show how I planned to construct the light fitting.
Working sketch for TV unit. With fold back concertina doors on piano hinges.
My house was in a complete state of renovation.  The living room was the only one that was plastered.

Some furniture pieces that I could use in the design.

My work space.  Thankfully it was a very hot week in Welwyn Garden City.

Lots of colour and cloth.

Drying room at night and workspace during the day.

Finished room fireplace view.

Finished room, feature wall view.  This is how it should have looked, but didn't, as I forgot to add the orange cushions back into the room! I need to let it go...

Feature cushion in my clients favourite textile designers print.  Made from a tea towel into a cushion.

Wooden mantle and bright yellow flower freshly picked from the garden.

The workings of the TV unit and gold hinges coming through.

Finally I get to put my feet up for 5 minutes. 

I extended my visit to London and got to hang with my best friend Heather, my cousin Lynne and my sister Pauline,  my niece and nephew and brother in law.  The week was 4 days of work, and 4 days of play!

 On air! 

My camera woman Zoe made me feel at ease in front of a camera.  It was great learning about her side of the job.  I think I look as though I have beaded pigtails here!

Inspirational colour and texture details in my living room.  Old button cards with subtle chalky colours.  Stripy pebbles and stones from Achill Island on the West Coast of Ireland.  Wooden pencils and ceramics.
On the show I was dyeing fabrics with Camomile tea from Belfast's own tea company Suki Tea.  The colour achieved was the softer yellow shades on the sofa cushions. 
It was a very sunny June day when we filmed in Belfast.  I love the light hitting all the textures in my room.  I definitely feel very much at home in this room.

Bushmills Whiskey from the North Coast, hand rolled leather roses, candlelight, and an old wardrobe door with gorgeous bevelled oval mirror rests on top of the mantel.  These are a few of my favourite things.

At work in my sewing room which used to be my spare bedroom.  Dad made the shelf above the mirror and added the big light for me.  Here I am making a wedding dress for my friend Claire. 
Click Click here to see the show in full! Available for 29 days from the 6th November.   

Home Grown Talent from Belfast

Award winning Suki Tea.  Business brewed in Belfast.
Here is the dress on the big day!  I loved the happiness of the yellow and it influenced my room in the show.  Claire is a very creative gal and her business is called Tee and Toast full of bright colours.  She also sells in sunny Australia
Image by Jay Doherty photography.

St Georges Market, Belfast. 2014 Winner of the UK Best Indoor Market. Open Fri, Sat and Sunday. Where you will find Tee and Toast and Suki Tea among many other creative. I used to also have a stand here on a Saturday selling my creations.

Image by Jude Malone Creative.
Natural dyed silk scarves with printed silk edging detail.  And the N.I potato sack that I made into a cushion, this was seen on the show..


A lovely thank you card signed by Tom, Daniel and Sophie. 

A wonderful experience, Thank you!!
Best of Irish luck to my fellow competitors Rich and to Luke for their futures ahead!
Follow Rich on TWITTER @HolsterandCycle
Follow Luke on TWITTER @LukeArthurWells
Christine x