Saturday, 22 December 2012

The Winner Takes It All and A Long and Winding Road

Hello my sweets,

I hope this Wintery evening finds you well and at the very least cosy.  I'm currently covered in pom poms after upcycling a jumper for Christmas so strong that it had the potential to bring on snow :)

This bad boy was made for Miniclickaganza a little get together with lovely peeps in Brighty

Let me begin by saying thank you soooo much for all your lovely comments on the wedded bliss post.  I was touched and so were all those that were mentioned.  As I said previously it was honour and privilege to be part of two wonderful women's next chapters :)

The winner of my giveaway is another gorgeous blonde :)

Without further do but with much serendipity  I can announce that the winner of the wedding related giveaway is none other than the fabulous Kathryn of Yes I Like That who has just announced her own engagement :)  I do believe there is a lot of good energy that travels through our community only the other day I was saying how appropriate it was that Zoe turned up in my life just as the sewing bug had bitten hard.  Congratulations Kathryn!  I can't wait to see what you whip up.

Well with the important announcement made I can lead nicely into the second half of the title of this post, which is what I got up to post the period I affectionately called Weddageddon ;-)

WARNING: This bit of the post is not sewing related so feel free to switch off.

As you may have gathered my darlings I'm not a gal who does things by halves.  A point that was noted some years a go by my dear friend Jo who when discussing my plan to walk across Spain as I needed time to think post university.  She said when I divulged my plan, "See that's the difference doll between me and you well you and pretty much everyone else.  If I need a think I walk round the park me.  You need a think well then you're staring down the barrel of 500 miles!"  Never a truer word spoken.

Well this time I didn't have that much thinking to do more a spot of decompressing so I traded 500 for just under 100 miles in the form of the West Highland Way.  My darling Grandad who relocated South was from Scotland and I'm ashamed to say I had never visited.  As is often the way when you're a writer you think could there be a story in this?  Well there is if you take a family rescue dog with you :)  The  pooch in question is our darling family pet, Macey.

Lovely Macey perched alongside our Pa

She's a beautiful girl who has been part of our lives for well over a decade.  We rescued her from the RSPCA when my sister and I went to look for a dog as a present to Papa Demeanour who'd been heartbroken since losing our German shepherd, Rumpole.  It was literally love at first sight.  Her big cow eyes said I will love you so much if you take a chance on me and she's never let us down :)  So much so the Demeanours Senior have gone on to rescue a further three pooches who have been wonderful hairy extensions to our family.

I contacted a few magazines and pitched my idea for a long distance dog walk/pet holiday and it proved a winner so plans were hatched over the summer with aim to leave just after the weddings.  I've also agreed to write a free piece for the RSPCA because they are charity very dear our families heart.

So at 5am on the 18th October this year Macey and I saddled up and headed to Glasgow albeit in the luxury of Virgin 1st Class.  We booked in advance, which made it really cheap and with tonnes of complimentary food for me and her it would be rude not too.

Macey always knew if she got the chance to travel by train it would be a 1st class experience ;-)

Five hours later we arrived in Glasgow and trekked out towards Milngavie and the start of our six day trek to Fort William.  We had no idea what to expect and if you told either of us we'd get to ride in a red vintage Ferrari, see a stag just a few feet away, feed deer and walk up through the clouds we would have respectively laughed and ruffed in your face :)

Here our a selection of pictures from our travels as I don't have the words to described how beautiful this part of the country is.

At the start best foot and paw forward

Come on Miss D stop snapping we've got miles to cover!

Day 2 and a swim in Loch Lomond for Macey

These cows gave me my first chance to have a go at wrangling.  I simply said Good Morning and excuse me and they parted. No need for any of that lasso malarkey.

Day 3 in Tyndrum and we stayed in lovely little dog friendly hiker's hut

Day 4 and Macey was so comfortable when the alarm went off and I got dressed she opted for another cheeky snooze ;-)

Day 4 also saw us come face to face with this big fella who took a dislike to both me and Macey, which meant instead of hiking we were jogging for a mile or so :s

The early starts were a bit of shocker but the views were so worth it.

Day 4 was a longest day walking with 19 miles to cover but when we finally made it over Rannoch Moor we were greeted by this dear deer :)

After a long day we made it to Kinghouse Hotel to be greeted by this sign. I knew immediately it was my sort of establishment.  No messing about with check-in it's straight to the cocktail lounge for a dirty martini

I can't recommend the hotel enough.  It was really cheap, staff were lovely and check out the view from our room.  If Carlsberg did hotel views....

There was also some ace inspiration for future outfits on the wall.  I think I could totes pull off to The Manor Born.

Day 5 saw us ascending the steepest part of the walk the Devil's Staircase.  Although it puffed us out it was magical to walk up through the cloudline. Macey's face was a picture as she popped up through them.

Our final home was the aptly named Hobbit House. This baby had a fridge, microwave, two beds, heating and a TV!  Macey and I were both glad to not miss GBBO.

Day 6 and a few miles to go Macey wanted to rock something a little special to go over the line.

Woohoo we made it!  Here we are next to the sore feet statute in Fort William. We celebrated with haggis and fish and chips respectively.

So long Scotland you've been anything but paw - boom tsh! :)

Well that's the story of our long and winding road.  We both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and met some wonderful peeps and I think Macey is continuing to make the other family dogs jealous with her tails (sorry can't resist the dogs puns - last one I promise though).

Reliving the walk has left me pooped so I'm gonna go fix myself a mulled wine and put my feet up for half an hour.

Until next time my darlings always remember to put your best foot forward.

Love Miss D


Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Made it for two weddings but late to my own party...

Why hello there,

How the devil are we all?  This is the post that has been slow cooking away for some time now and I hope is all the more rich and juicy for it ;-)

You would not be remiss for thinking lazy ol’ Miss D she's been sitting round with her curlers in and feet up in fluffy mules ever since she finished her  cake heavy commission.  This my dears has not been the case at all I've simply been in a wedding and post wedding walking whirl.

As I advance through my years life gets no less challenging and in the same vein no less interesting, thankfully.  If you'd ask me at the beginning of  last year if I thought I'd be making a wedding cake for one dear friend and several bridesmaid dresses for another I would have said it's more likely that I'll take gold at 2012!  Reminds me more than ever what a difference a day can make.

Laura and I were told we wouldn't require coats in Spain we were both glad we didn't listen.

As previously blogged I was asked last year by my very lovely friend Laura to be one of her bridesmaids.  Hers is a thoroughly modern love story and one, which I’m glad to have been a part of from the very beginning.  We met when we both decided to take an Erasmus exchange to Spain in our second year at uni. It was in fact at this time I made my first dress (very badly – see evidence below).  It was a crazy few months to say the least but Laura and I became firm friends united by our ability to find humour when all else had failed including the heating.  On our return from Alicante we started our final year and the fun continued.  She unfortunately had a really rubbish housemate think 30 year old Veruca Salt.  I on the other hand lived in a ramshackle 7 bedroom house with 5 lovely guys and 1 lovely girl.  It was a true student house in every sense. 

This dress was held together with sellotape by the end of the night but my love of polka dots was born :)

We used to have really great parties and Laura used to come along, which is where she met my then housemate Nick who was to become her beloved J  Over the course of our final year they fell hard for each other and when we stayed on an extra year after graduation it cemented their feelings but as we all know life can sometimes play you a dud hand.  Nick was due to spend the summer abroad and then go back to his hometown.  His trip got cut short but home he went and Laura followed but things didn’t work out and studies took her back South and they decided to separate.  When I went to get her it all seemed so sad but the old romantic in me believed true love would will out and indeed it did.  Just a few weeks later Nick declared he could not live without her and would go whether she needed to be.  That was 6 years ago.

Brave or crazy on the basis of only a few my outfits she asked me to make the bridesmaids dresses!  I was both excited and a little nervous but when she phoned me in September last year October 2012 seemed a long way away - it came around fast.  Thankfully, not long after I blogged about it the lovely Ginger Makes emailed me to say she'd embarked on a similar mission and time goes by quicker than you think.  Taking that into account the bride and I came up with a timetable for the coming months to at least try to keep everything on target.  This proves very useful when one your of bridesmaids is a touring opera singer, another is a very successful business woman running a cheerleading squad, the other is a swing trio singing mum of one with another  bubba on the way and the other is me!

The bridal squad

Right from the start Laura had said she wanted us to go for a vintage look to compliment what she was hoping to find in her dress so we had a pow wow and we both decided we looking for a nicely shaped bodice, cap sleeve, a bateau neckline and a fuller skirt.  I found two patterns that ticked the boxes.

Owing to Simplicity 3592 being a vintage pattern and not so readily available I set about making a muslin of New Look 6723 so we could give it a yay or nay early on in the process.

It was indeed a nay aside from the fact that the black tights and calico combo makes me look like a character from a Dickens' novel albeit a ver chirpy one the design just wasn't flattering.

So we shelved the New Look in favour of the vintage Simplicity pattern.  Whilst I set about bidding for several on Ebay I also decided that all our proportions were so different it was probably best off to make bodice blocks for all of us and then an adapt pattern for each of us.  I've actually only taken a pattern cutting course to make a skirt block but I found an ace tutorial on making a bodice block here and along with my trusted Winifred Aldrich Pattern Cutting for Womens Wear.  Although this sounds like a lot of work I don't regret it at all it made the whole process so much simpler as I knew with just a few tweaks we'd have the right fits for everyone and then it was just a case of adapting the skirt pattern.  It has also made me want to take the next level in pattern cutting at Sew in Brighton.

Anywho fast forward to Summer this year and we'd manage to snap up the fabric we needed from Goldhawk Road for the bargain price of £65.  We went for a steely lavender cotton silk that showed lots of different colours when it was caught by the light.  Laura and I both agreed it would look lovely on our various colourings and was along way a way from the peach parachutes that bridesmaids in the 80s were fated to wear.  

Both Laura and I wanted to avoid creations that would require facial anonymity!

As well as finding the fabric Laura who herself had started to sew was going to make one of the dresses because Louisa the swinging, singing bridesmaid would have her new baby by the time the wedding came round.  It was easier for Laura to fit Louisa as they live close to each other but, which left me with lovely pleasure of making a baby bridesmaid’s dress J

The baby bridesmaid dress pattern Simplicity 2235 so sweet

The months whirled by in a flash and before we knew it was July and we were on Laura’s hen do in London doing the last test fittings. There were some minor adjustments but things were full steam ahead.  At the same time another very lovely friend of mine who you may know, Zoe ;-) asked me to help out with the fitting of her wedding dress and to make the cake for her and Pat’s wedding.  I was absolutely over the moon.  We only met in February 2011 so to be given the honour of such a special baking project was really touching.

Zoe raised a glass to my plan for alcoholic wedding cake

Me being me had also taken on the cake skirt for Macmillan as well as squeezing a trip to Berlin over the summer so it was pretty much nose to the grindstone from August right through to the end of September when Zoe and Pat got married.  They had decided they didn’t want to go for a cutting of the cake affair so instead they asked me to bake 120 cupcakes and they both jumped on my suggestion of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic varieties ;-)  In the end the cupcakes were a mixture of vanilla, chocolate and Guinness with a Bailey’s frosting, lime with a tequila frosting and tiramisu with a mascarpone frosting (recipes for all here).  They were all decorated with royal icing card suits to match Pat and Zoe’s theme.  I was ably assisted I hasten to add by two of my very creative friends Miss Aymi D of picture perfection and Kirstin Stride of many a piece of hand drawn jewellery and more recently purveyor of pretty pants. The girls were invaluable letting me getting on with the baking while they coloured the icing and cut shapes.  I couldn’t have done it without them so thank you.

I'll raise you a Guinness and chocolate for a Margarita and lime!

What did slip my mind at the time was the fact I hadn’t got round to making my dress for the wedding :s  There was no way I could go in RTW especially not with Zoe being so supportive of my sewing endeavours.  So I did want any good seamstress would I cut out my dress the night before then had some port and sewed it in the morning.  It was to the wire but I still had time to make a hair bow because I thought the beehive needed a little gigi.  I will add though it wasn’t meant to be so last minute because my original plan had been to sew Simplicity 4908 as gifted to me by the very excellent Lana of Lazy Stitching.  It didn’t happen though because the bodice pattern hated on me L  (princess seams are meant to be winner for curves I'm convinced in my case this is not the case) I fell back onto the bodice pattern I’d designed for my bridesmaid dress and the skirt from 4908.  It was a match made in heaven and I even got a mention in the speeches for last minute nature of my clothing.  

I called the look Latina Minnie Mouse

As you’ll have seen from Zoe’s posts she look an absolute picture and so did Pat.  It was a wonderful wedding where I cried and danced.

A pair of handmade crackers :)

Any thoughts of resting any longer than the Sunday were out the door quicker than Mo Farah on the track because the following weekend was Laura and Nick’s wedding.  The week was filled with final changes and hemming and by Friday I was good to go.  

All sewn and ready to hem eek!

Not for the first time I found myself travelling across country on a train with multiple garments and a sewing machine.  Thanks be that I came for the rehearsal though because I went to several wrong churches before I found the right one.  Honestly I felt like Dustin Hoffman at the end of The Graduate J Once we had the rehearsal we did one last fitting and then Laura, her Mama and I headed to the hotel for a well deserved dinner and relax with chocs and wine aplenty.

Laura and her lovely Mama

The next morning the alarm rang at 7am and thanks to our legendary cheerleading bridesmaid, Sara and equally legendary twin sisters aka the beautifying team the getting ready went like clockwork despite there being six ladies to ready and a baby.  Honestly Frank the wedding planner from Father of the Bride had nothing on our gal :)  She could run the country that one!

It was a super emotional day and the first time I choked was when our very beautiful bride clocked how lovely she was in the mirror as pictured below.

Just perfect :)

The whole day was just a massive show of love from the tears in the church with Steph aka the sister-in-law singing opera, Laura's Mama's beautiful speech, Louisa singing the first dance with her trio the Spitfire Sisters with little baby Poppy strapped to her.  

A whole of love in this photo.

Spot the baby bridesmaid so sweet :)

Despite having a whole wedding to plan and a business to run Laura made us all individual presents.  She's a complete doll xxx

And finally my crafty skills performed one last win.

I always have a needle handy and handy it was when it came to popping Laura out of her dress at 1am

So there you have it that was my wedding whirl and whirly it was but my heart definitely got a bit bigger over that fortnight and I still get a bit teary when I think how touched I was to be able to be a part of the start of the next chapter for two very dear friends of mine.  I love you girls and I raise a glass of the good stuff to you and your beloveds may the road rise up to meet you at every turn :)

All this celebratory talk brings me nicely to the fact that I forgot my own celebration.  My blogiversary passed me by on the 24th October.  I can't believe I've been waffling on for a year and people are still reading but for this I thank you.  I write for a living so to do it for pleasure and to know that people out there are entertained by it makes me very happy.  So to send a proper thanks I'm doing my first giveaway and it's wedding related. 

Just leave a comment to win the bridesmaid dress pattern, the almost was wedding guest dress, the first vintage dress I ever made for my friend Lana's wedding last year and 3 metres of polka dot crepe

You've got until midday until on Saturday 15th December GMT and the winner will be chose at random and I'll post worldwide.

Phew if you're still with me well done bit of an epic post but you wait until the next time when I tell you what I did to relax after the weddings.  It involves a dog, several mountains and a very sore foot.

Until next time remember always carry a needle because you never know when you'll need to pop a bride out of her frock.

Love always Miss D