I have just come back from a relaxing stay in the Corbieres region in the South West of France. Our gite was a delight and I think you may be seeing some blue in my upcoming work as I was pretty taken with the shutters where we were staying and elsewhere in the region:

gite

I would thoroughly recommend where we stayed – Sliabh amharc (Mountain View) which is a 17th century stone-built long house which sleeps six. Marg and Jim are wonderful hosts and more details about the gite and the area can be found at: http://www.cubieres.co.uk/. We flew from London Stansted on Ryan Air to Perpignan which is a pleasant 1 hour drive away.

As well as finding time to relax and going swimming in the nearby rivers and gorges we also found time to do some sight seeing visiting the pleasant but very very busy Carcassonne with its fairytale medieval city.

carcassone

The architecture and colours provided lots of inspiration:

french building carcasonne 

As well as the quirky detailing:

murel

And the independent potteries which were abundant in the region:

french pottery

One of our favourites was L’Atelier in Esperaza, which also serves crepes and runs day classes. Fortunately I was with companions who were equally happy to do a last minute ‘u-turn’ to go and have a rummage in the Brocante (second hand) shops and yards which we passed. However somethings I just couldn’t fit into my hand luggage:

old singer sewing machine

The brocante market on Saturday morning in Perpignan was a treasure to find:

brocant

And I also found some more antique linen to add to the embroidered table cloth and set of 12 napkins I had already procured in Lagrasse from an antique store (more details to follow in future posts):

antiquelinen

Of course we also fitted some time in for some boutique shopping, and particularly feel in love with a shop – uBu…la suite in Perpignon which stocked my favourite brand Odd Molly and also had a lovely cafe/restaurant. If you are in the region I would definitely recommend a visit (especially during the sale season).

Boutique1

boutique2

So if I had any worries about having run out of inspiration after my HND course, I really needn’t have worried as I now have a wonderful range of rich imagery and fabrics and ribbons to explore over the coming months…

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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….

To celebrate the end of the HND in Fashion and Textiles we were invited to take part in a fashion show at funky glasses designer Oscar and Fitch. Seeing all the glasses laid out was like being in a sweetie shop:

oscar and fitch glasses

And the shelving very eye catching:

oscar and fitch glasses shelves

The clothes were all modelled by the degree Dance students at Telford who were fabulous and whose confidence really showed off the clothes.

bella FEP outfit1 fep outfit

It was great to see all the outfits coming together:

Louise outfit2 danielle outfit dans outfit kathy outfit

The dance routines were great and suited the theme of Full of Eastern Promise perfectly:

full of eastern promise

The show also included the First Year HND Little Black Dress projects – wearing of course some very striking glasses:

little black dresses2 LBD

And the Botanics project completed earlier in the year:

apron and jacket2 apron and jacket3

dans jacket botanics

And our shirts from the 1st year also had an outing. I loved the way that Mark carried off my shirt with its over long sleeves and peter pan collar.

white shirt white shirt 2

kathys white shirt

For more photos go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/bellacranmore/sets/72157619498218554/

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…

It all came together over the last week or so… Here is my organza top complete with three chains of fabric roses:

top with 3 fabric rose necklaces 

The fabric roses are made of a fair bit of fabric and so have a good weight. This means that I did not have to attach them to the top itself and was able to create three separate necklaces that could then be styled in different ways. For example, with a single strand…

top with single rose fabric necklace

With a long and a short necklace:

top with long and short necklace

And with two longer necklaces:

top with 2 fabric rose necklaces

I made each necklace with a tie closure so that the length could be adjusted as required. Each end of the rouleau loop was then finished with a cover button – tying in with the details on the harem trousers (see below…).

ties for fabric rose necklaces

The top itself is light weight and attached with a tie at the back of the neck – inspired by the scarves worn with Salwar Khamis style suits.

top back

The finished trousers are certainly eye catching and not for the faint hearted:

finished harem trousers

I am really pleased with how the buttons up the calf and outside leg worked out. The printed facing on the outside links in with the printing used for the roses themselves, and works well with the cover buttons and rouleau loops.

button and rouleau loop detail

We have a fashion show next week in town so hopefully I will get some pics of the full outfit on a living breathing model!