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After all the sunny weather in Scotland combined with a holiday planned in Greece I spent this weekend making a summer dress. I treated myself to my favourite Cath Kidston mini strawberry print and went for a very girlie and simple smock dress.

cath kidston strawberry smock dress

And here is the back view:

cath kidston summer dress back

I was originally inspired by the 8 Dollar Dress Tutorial on Burda Style, however I ended up following the directions in the brilliant Making Stuff: An Alternative Craft Book. The smocking involved winding shearing elastic on the bobbin of my sewing machine and using a co-ordinating thread on the top. As I sewed around in circles using my machine feet to measure an equal distance from the previous row (avoiding the need to mark lines on the fabric), the fabric naturally started to gather up giving just the effect I was after.

The pattern was very simple and involved creating a rectangle that was comfortably wider than my hips (the widest part of my body) and 5cm longer than the length I was after to accomodate the hem and seam allowances. The final measurements of the rectangle were 115cm wide x 85cm and seem to work for a 10/12 dress size.

As ever I wasn’t happy just leaving the dress at that and started playing with some ruffles. First along the bottom hem:

cath kidston smock dress ruffle bottom

And then down the skirt:

cath kidston strawberry dress ruffle detail on skirt

And then along the top edge:

cath kidston strawberry dress

Despite the experiments, as someone who tends to put off decision making I have kept the dress plain for the time being but have kept the ruffles close by for when I feel inspired to get my sewing machine out again….

For my latest artist date I have been playing and creating fun headbands and fascinators. This was inspired by the short introduction to millinery on the HND and is well timed with the opening of craft superstore Hobby Craft in Edinburgh which has proven to be a good supplier of headbands, ribbon and fabric glue etc. Here are some rather ‘arty’ photos which demonstrate that I have never really got to grips with the timer on my camera!

feather fascinator

And a close up of the feathers and the covered headband:

feather headband

And as every girl knows, if one feather headband is good, two must be even better…

brown feather fascinator2

This close up shows the different colours of the feathers with blue and purple highlights:

brown feather fascinator

And of course with the summer wedding season getting into full swing, something a bit more over the top is also going to come into good use:

wedding fascinator

And with all the Suffolk puffs I have been making it was inevitable that one made it into one of the pieces:

wedding fascinator2

And who could resist such a  healthy plumage of feathers and net:

wedding fascinator3

If you are interested in having a go yourself feathers can be bought from C.J.Milinery and from etsy shops such as Do You feel the scent? However one of my next projects may well be making my own feather pads. Since I have started wearing my feather headpieces friends and family have started offering me bags of feathers…

My artist’s dates over the last couple of weeks have involved making a few, and then a lot, of Suffolk puffs (also known as yo yos). Although I am not specifically following the Artists’ Way at the moment I am keen to create some space to explore some ideas on my own without any pressure of trying to sell or meet any specific brief. The idea is just to play and to let go of any specific results.

I bought a decent sized bag of gorgeous interior design fabrics from a closing down sale a couple of weeks ago and have been playing with the different textures since. I started with small Suffolk puffs which then started to grow:

suffolk-puffs-smaller

And then moved onto some larger ones using dinner plates as a template:

suffolk-puffs-larger

I am not sure what I am going to do with them all yet but there is something very satisfying about arranging them all on a mannequin:

suffolk-puff-spray

As the fabrics are all vintage inspired I have used vintage buttons which I had inherited from my mum and my Great Aunt. Some of them are just so beautiful. Not sure if I am going for total body cover yet or not, I will just have to wait and see where inspiration takes me next week…

Inspired by my new favourite tea house Loopy Lorna’s here in Edinburgh (complete with hand knitted tea cosy with every pot and fairy cakes topped with every colour icing imaginable) I have been inspired to do some tea related crafts myself. It was fun to spend the weekend making up kits as I could just enjoy the making process without worrying so much about the end result. In fact these kits were my perfect Artist’s Date

First off a gorgeous strawberry tea cosy from Laughing Hens purchased from K1 Yarns. Knitted using Rooster yarn made from 50% baby alpaca, 50% merino wool it was a joy to knit and knitted up very quickly:

strawberry-tea-cosy

And goes very well with my new vintage rose tea cups and the spring sunshine:

tea-cosy2

I then made up this pretty fairy cake trinket box from Rex Crafts:

teacup-candy-box

The kit would be perfect for children who are interested in learning to sew as it comes complete with everything required (except the small amount of stuffing required) including a plastic sewing needle and pre-perforated holes for stitching. That said this inner child is pretty happy with the result…

I had a wonderful weekend keeping myself busy by making up the Amelia Magazine Apron Dress Kit that I bought on line from organic retailer Gossypium. Designed in collaboration with the wonderful Amelia Magazine and London print designer Brie Harrison, the dress comes pre-printed on high quality cotton baby cord.

pattern-layout-amelia-apron-dress1

And is absolutely gorgeous from the front (complete with apron pocket):

amelia-apron-dress-front

And also from the back (complete with apron ties):

amelia-apron-dress-back

And similar to the old clothkits kits it comes with a small purse:

amelia-apron-purse

And as if that wasn’t enough a larger bag kit came as free with Issue Ten of Amelia’s Magazine:

bag-free-with-amelia-magazine

It was a real pleasure making these garments and accessories and I couldn’t recommend them enough. The dress is a bargain at £25, and I am sure that I will be getting a lot of wear out of it over the coming year…