2018 My year in Books

I love reading, especially on my Kindle which allows me to have a library of over 200 books in the palm of my hand. This year, I surpassed the goal I had set to read 2 books per month. I also read 2 books with the kids. These are fantastic chapter books that all my kids thoroughly enjoyed and were engrossed in the stories:

These are my books, mostly read on a Kindle and a few as audiobooks.

The book that has had a huge impact on my physical and mental health is Gut by Giulia Enders. I highly recommend this book – it is a long read but worth it IMO.

Half the books were from joining the Reese Witherspoon Book Club – I decided that I needed to get out of my comfort zone. A book club seemed like a good idea as I got to read books that otherwise would have never piqued my interest. I will try to keep up with it in 2019 too.

For the first time this year, I ventured into audiobooks and I must say I am a convert! It all started with our trip to France/Switzerland/Italy this summer. We got Phillip Pullman’s His Dark  Materials Trilogy for the trip. 2000 miles later we had were only 1 chapter shy of the end of the series. The kids (being a captive audience) really got into it and when we got home they were keen to also watch the movie based on the book. Spoiler alert – the movie is really bad :-(. Even the kids were disappointed but it was quaint to hear them discuss the differences between the book and the movie.

My oldest son is on the spectrum and dyslexic, he is not at ease around books as I am despite much cajoling from me. But it turned out the audiobooks were the thing for him. When it came time for him to read 1984 for school he asked me to find him an audiobook. We installed an app on his phone and he finds it much easier to listen to books.

I am looking forward to 2019 and what reading delights I will venture into. Have you read any of the books here? Any recommendations for my 2019 reading list? Please share, I’d love your input.

Thanks for stopping by,

Peace and love,

Hila

 

Advertisements

MCBN December: Grainline Studio Archer Button Up Shirt

It amazes me that I have had Grainline Studio’s Archer shirt pattern printed, taped and cut for over 2 years! I faltered at the step of pairing it with a fabric. Still better late than never. I finally used it for my December MCBN make. When I opened the package with the fabric, it immediately clicked for me that the twill weave cotton would be an Archer. I am mildly irritated with myself for taking so long to make this pattern but that’s something I want to tackle in 2019.

In the meantime…..

Here is the link that will take you to the post on the Minerva Craft Blogger Network. Enjoy!

Grainline Studio Archer Shirt (It was a cold day!)

Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful week!

Peace and love,

Hila

 

The Sew Essential #sewgift Christmas charity raffle

I just wanted to let you know about a Christmas charity raffle Lucy Regan has organised with a grand prize of £125 of sewing goodies for the winner. You can see full details on the SewEssential blog here  or on their Just Giving page, where you can buy tickets.

Tickets are just £2 and all monies go directly to the Kids Out charity – a charity, which supports children who have escaped domestic abuse in the form of sexual, physical and emotional abuse.

Often these children arrive at a refuge with only the clothes they stand up in and have never experienced the things many children take for granted – a brand new toy, a day at the beach or a theme park.

Each year Kids Out makes these dreams come true for hundreds of thousands of children and Sew Essential are supporting the cause with their Christmas charity raffle.

The raffle closes on the 20th December so please share as much as possible now to increase the fundraising potential.

I hope you can help with this wonderful cause.

Peace and love,

Hila

Kids Sewing – Silver Lame Pillowcase

It did not take toooo long. The shop that we bought was pretty new so not much people went there. The cutting was not super hard, It was just that I couldn’t get it to be in line with the the case. I made the mistake of cutting the joint that connected the two squares but was easy. Luckily, there were not a single thing like an omega sign  like these ones:⊗ ‰ ℵ ω ψ χ φ υ, e.g.

                                                                                 O – The Pillowcase Maker

This isn’t kids sewing as in I sewed something for the kids. This is kids sewing as in the child creates the item with my assistance where adult supervision is necessary – in this case; the overlocker.

My second son came with me to Fabrics for All on Sunday (I needed more of the red birds Christmas fabric) and the stretch silver lame fabric caught his eye. He said he liked the smooth surface and that he’d make a pillowcase out of it. I stopped myself from inserting my opinion about his vision (it was hard – a new habit for me). 

As soon as we got home he started on the project. He got his favourite pillowcase, laid it over the folded fabric and cut around it. I forgot to tell him about seam allowances but since the fabric is stretch it was fine.

We bought a half meter for the pillowcase. The fabric cost £6/m

He then went on to the overlocker. He has used it several times before but never with jersey fabric. It was quite a learning curve for him and by the end, he had figured out how to keep the seam straight. Some of the seams are wobbly and wavy but the half of the last seam he did is perfect!

Its a simple pillowcase but does the job!
It very good at reflecting light too :-).

Though silver lame is not what I would use for a pillowcase myself, I can see why he liked it. Needless to say, he loves his DIY pillowcase and the other 3 younger kids want their own silver pillows! I am so proud of him because he wanted to sew it straight away and he did. 

 

 

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Peace and love,

Hila

 

 

Halla Coat from Named Patterns: Breaking the Pattern Book

A few months ago MinervaCrafts and Quadrille offered me an opportunity to review a sewing book that would be released in November. I eagerly signed up along with 4 other bloggers to make something from the book, write a review and of course take pictures.

Book Cover of Breaking the Pattern by Named Clothing

As soon as I received the book I was immediately taken by at least 6 patterns so selecting what to make for the MinervaCrafts blog was challenging! In the end, I used the logic of sewing for the weather I am in right now. Plus the coat pattern is called Halla kinda loosely alliterates with Hila. Hila’s Halla sounded fun. My fate was sealed :-).

If you’d like to read my 800 word review of the book then please click on the link here: Hila’s Halla Coat which will take you to the post. You can check out the other makes from the book posted by the bloggers over there.

Halla Coat – Breaking the Pattern

I love (lurve) the colours of the boiled wool! I have my eye on the mustards and the emerald green….

Have you also got Breaking the Pattern; A Modern Way to Sew? 

Thanks so much for stopping by! Until next time Happy Sewing!

Peace and love,

Hila

NB: Quadrille Publishing provided the book. Minervacrafts provided the materials. I did all the hard work of tracing, sewing, taking pictures and writing up a post. So yeah – all  opinions are 100% my own. I was under zero obligation to proceed with the review if I didn’t want to.

Christmas 2018 Sewing Plans

I have been making the most of the autumn sun, getting organised for winter and stocking up for Christmas. I love December for all its excitement and sparkle. Its the month that always goes by at a dizzying rate; school productions, Scout troop/colony parties, Christmas pantos, tree trimming, the twins’ birthday, daily mince pie baking….the list goes on.

This year I have added two new things that, depending on how well it all goes, could join the pantheon of our Christmas traditions. The Santa Dash and Christmas sewing.

Santa Dash

Apparently, there is a run through town centres done in a Santa costume! It is for all ages, abilities and pets are welcome. The organisers raise money for St Gemma’s Hospice. Instead of unilaterally signing up the family for the event, I sought consensus. The first thing the kids asked was “Do we get chocolate at the end of the dash?”. To which I answered “Yes. Absolutely.”. And that was that. My husband, on the other hand, was less keen (he is very suspicious of me now – on account of all the hints I throw around about how running/yoga/gym/swimming are SO good for wellness). But the kids swayed him. So we will be doing the Santa Dash in December! I am hoping we all have a great time and can make it an annual fixture. Wish me luck. x

Christmas Sewing

For years I have considered Christmas sewing but for once I started considering it in time to actually do a little bit of it. Like most of my sewing life  – it was a random idea that started it all. For some reason, I woke up with a vision of a vintage style skirt in Christmas fabric with a border. Something like this..

 

Christmas Theme Skirt 

The very same day I stopped by Fabrics for All to have look and et voila I found a cotton poplin border print tablecloth that fit the bill.

Christmas Fabric – Fabric For All

I couldn’t be happier with this fabric – its bright and just the right weight. I plan on making a dirndl that doesn’t require a pattern. I will be adding pockets at the side seam using a pocket pattern piece from a McCalls M7242 that I have made before (I realised that I need to make another one of these dresses).

As most trips to the fabric store happen for me – I picked up other bits and bobs of fabric. My eye was caught by the red birdies on a navy background. The fabric is a brushed cotton twill that is so soft to the touch. I just knew that I had to make matching pyjamas for the whole family! At only £5/m it is a great bargain. I have traced out New Look 6170 for the younger 4 kids trousers. For the 3 adult sizes, I used a different pattern.

Brushed cotton from Fabrics for all – lighting is so dull. The red is much brighter irl.

Pocket piece that I will use for the skirt.

I drafted the simple pyjama pants pattern for my oldest son using Winifred Aldrich’s book.

All five pants cut out – ready for sewing.

I am also going to give making Christmas theme pillowcases a go – I have been inspired by Tialys’ adventures in home furnishings so I am starting small (and simple).

All the pattern pieces are cut out. I want to have everything ready for next week Saturday when we decorate the house for Christmas.

It’s not much by way of Christmas sewing – but it is a start and I am excited! So I am curious, when would you recommend to start planning for Christmas sewing and when to start the actual sewing itself? Any insight is greatly appreciated.

Thanks for stopping by!

Peace and love,

Hila

I made a video the day after buying the Christmas fabric and was so excited I made a video about the plans.

The Frida Kahlo V&A Exhibit

My husband and I went to see the Frida Kahlo exhibit at the V&A.

I had no idea what to expect. I confess this is my first time going to see a special exhibit that has to be paid for separately.

Before I share my thoughts let me give a bit of background. I found out that the exhibit was happening in December 2017 while leafing through a magazine at an indoor play centre. I told my hubs straight away that we would be going in July to see it. I have loved the few paintings by Frida that I had come across though I knew little about her. To prepare for the exhibit, I decided to read up on her life and her works.

In Leeds, we have a well-stocked Arts library that had over a dozen books on Frida. I read three book – my favourite was Kahlo by Gerry Souter. Over the months even my kids got in on the Frida love and they loved leafing through the giant art books studiously examining her paintings. They liked the ones that had a lot going on like this one…….

My Dress Hangs Here by Frida Kahlo 1933

They played at trying to tell the story of the picture. They were fascinated by the fact that she survived such a horrific accident and still lived her best life.

By the time we went to the exhibit, I felt like I knew enough to be able to get the most of this possibly once in a lifetime opportunity.

It was really packed. We all ended up ignoring the whole personal space rule otherwise you couldn’t get a chance to see properly. I was annoyed at people taking pictures in the exhibit despite all the signs saying not to.

I had decided that I wasn’t going to be taking any pictures or doing Instagram on that day because I wanted to savour it through my own lens and it was the right decision.

The dresses are magnificent, beyond words. Despite the beauty of the selection of clothes on display, it was the previous room that made the most impact on me. The bright clothes are juxtaposed with all the turbulent imagery of her medical paraphernalia. The steel and leather corsets, the prosthetic leg that was made for her amputated leg. All driving home the incredible amount of pain she endured. Gazing at them I couldn’t help but wonder if she had known that she would be so famous – would she have behaved differently or done things differently? I doubt it.

As I exited the exhibit lost in my mind thinking about Frida and her life, in awe of her resilience, fortitude, passion for life; I was jolted back into the instant gratification brightly lit world of our modern life in the museum shop. I was surrounded by loads of Frida merchandise. From the tacky to the luxe. Brightly coloured earrings and little cut outs of her dresses. It was quite jarring.

Its probably standard and something that I will get used to as I go to more special exhibits like this. I have a healthy respect for commerce but this felt ……odd…for me. I felt robbed of my introspective dialogue. It felt like an intrusion. I bought a few bits and bobs to take back home to my kids – they had so wanted to come with us.

As I paid for the merch, I couldn’t help but wonder who is profiting from all this? I hope the money ends up with the people of Mexico whom she loved so fiercely.

It was interesting to see it with my husband who knew little about her. He liked that it did a good job of painting the person. It wasn’t about the art. They expanded on the Frida Kahlo myth; building the character for a new generation. He enjoyed it too.

Our next V&A trip will be to see the Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibit. I am interested in this because I watched an Amazon Originals show called The Collection which was loosely based on Dior’s post war “New Look”. Though the I didn’t ultimately like the show enough to want to continue watching another season – the designs were exquisite.

Thanks for reading. Did you go to the Frida exhibit? What were your thoughts? I’d love to know.

Peace and love,

Hila

 

Kids Sewing – Skater Dress

Earlier in the year I made some Skater dresses for my twins which they loved. Unfortunately, the pink and white dots did not survive very long. The material was not the best. I had made a promise to make a replacement.

Luckily for me, the fabric was already available that she had selected herself when I took them with me to Fabworks. You see, they have developed their own unique tastes and I can no longer get away with picking what I believe will be “cute” for them. I have learnt the painful lesson of lovingly sewing a garment that had a luke warm reception from one and outright rejection from the other. They are very involved in the process now – much less heartbreak on my part. 

On their side – they absolutely love the garments sewn with their input. SO much so that getting them to change out of the garments is a challenge. 

Cotton jersey from Fabworks Mill Shop.
The dress has been washed several times and the fabric has held up exceptionally well for the £4/m price range.
Always nice when I manage to get the neckband flat like this.
Replacement Skater Dress in purple jersey fabric. Leggings are pattern from Ottobre Kids Design.

I don’t know why its taken me so long to realise that of course, they love the things they are involved in more. Its the same with food – my kids will eat anything they have had a hand in making or growing at the allotment. In the past, I have indulged them when they happened to be with me while I was fabric shopping or when I made birthday dresses. But now I see an opportunity to do an activity together – wherein I help them to create the visions they have in their heads. I will try to be open to what may otherwise seem like odd combos to me and I am excited to see where that will take us. Should be fun!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Peace and love,

Hila

Kitchy Coo Skater Dress

The girls’ skater dress is described as funky yet functional knit dress has a fitted bodice, high neckline and a curved flared skirt. With a generous cut, the dress is designed to be worn for up to two years per size, here the skirt hits at the knee in the first year and just above the knee in year two. There are options for a sleeveless, short sleeve and long sleeve version, with bodice pieces drafted specifically for either sleeved for sleeveless.

Its only available as a PDF on the Kitchy Coo website. The size range is from 18months to 8 years. I traced the size that corresponds to 4 years age (4T) and the fit was spot on. The instructions are easy to follow and well supported with pictures. Just like the Lady Skater dress its also easy to sew up.