8 Dec 2011

Happy New Year

Ooooo it's going to be fireworks and sparkly wine again very soon, so I thought I might tell you about those wonderful champagne flutes I saw on a recent episode of Gossip Girl (yes, I'm watching it). My complex internet search revealed that the glasses are by Crate&Barrel and that there are 3 different types in the Edge Wine Glasses collection. 

Picture by Crate&Barrel
My boyfriend has recently been to the US and purchased the white wine version *can't wait to see them in real* but I am also in favour of getting those lovely flutes one day. How lucky that they ship to Europe too!! Well, I'm up to my ears in writing my thesis so you will only hear from me again next year. Happy New Year's!!! xx

PS: I went to see New Year's Eve in the cinema (now I probably established myself as the total non-film-pro) and they too, used these lovely champagne flutes on their New Year's party. I knew the glasses had great potential ;)

1 Dec 2011

Christmas Window

Oh my, time is running so fast and now this year is almost over again. I haven't even been able to purchase Christmas presents yet (master thesis, you meany!!), however, I did find the time to decorate my room a little bit to get into this cosy December feeling that I love so much. Unfortunately, I got the idea for the fabric-part of my decorations from a book, Tilda's Winterwelt, and cannot share the instructions with you. What I can share though, are the pictures of my little winter world.

With 5 different kinds of patterned fabric (mostly from Tilda, via Panduro Hobby, too) I sewed A LOT of apples and put them all on a piece of string. Combined with my chain of lights and the stars on the window, it all looks very lovely indeed. Here a close-up of the apples:

Speaking of apples, Bratapfel is a very yummy German Christmas dessert and not even that hard to make. It's basically apples stuffed with almonds, raisins, spices and marzipan. Recipes can be found aplenty on the internet. I wish you all a lovely Christmas season with lots of mulled wine and sweets!!!

12 Sep 2011

Dirndl Enhancement

Very soon it's Oktoberfest time again. Whoever hasn't booked an accommodation yet, probably won't have a chance of getting somewhere reasonably priced or a flight/train fare at all. When I went in 2010 with my best friend for the 200th anniversary of the world's largest fair, I was lucky enough to be given one of my mum's old Dirndls instead of having to buy a new one which are usually quite pricey, considering it's only meant to last for a few days of binging. My mum had made that particular dress herself when she was still in her teens (she's not only Bavarian, but a professional seamstress, so it was by no means something super special) and there was enough fabric left on either side of the corset to widen it enough for my figure - yep, I'm bigger than my mum was at 17. However, my own customizations of the pink and purple number began by abandoning the original apron and buying material for a choice of 2 lovely new ones. As usual, I turned to Cath Kidston for my fabric as I love the traditional and yet girly-contemporary approach to patterns and designs. I picked the slightly heavier white Spray Flower Cotton Duck and something very lightweight, similar to the Lace Stripe. In addition, I bought a pink cotton lace ribbon and a shiny white polyester ribbon with little blue and yellow flowers, matching the two different textiles for the aprons. 

Making an apron is no big deal. 
Simply figure out how big you want it to be, copy the measurements onto the fabric in a square + seam allowance (1cm on the left and right, about 4cm on the bottom), cut out of the fabric and sew all around the folded seam allowance, leaving the top bit untouched. Now you'll need to cut out a small square piece of fabric for the top of the apron, which is going to be the supportive piece in the waist, holding the two ribbons on the left and right as well as the actual apron; 2x5cm vertically, and horizontally as long as you would like your apron to be in the front (shorter than the total of the apron, e.g. apron = 65cm, supportive piece = 30cm), + 1cm seam allowance on all 4 sides will do. Fold the square piece of fabric horizontally in the middle and secure the left and right end onto the top edge of the apron (remember to leave 1cm seam allowance on the piece for the waistband while doing so). Now fold over the seam allowance until you have a neat little box around the top of the apron, including the sides. First secure and then sew together, excluding the side bits, regularly crinkling the bigger piece of the apron into the supportive waistband - the left and right side need to be left open for the ribbons which will tie the apron around your waist. The ribbons are actually your next move. Measure your waist and figure out how long you want the ribbons to be so you can tie them around yourself, make a tie and still have them dangling down your dress. The width is entirely up to you as well, I liked mine around 5cm big. Copy your preferred measurements onto your textile: length + width 2x + 1 cm seam allowance on every side and cut it out. Fold this long piece of fabric together, outside in, and sew together the long open edge in a straight line and the small headpiece either diagonally or triangularly. Now turn inside out and iron the whole piece. Repeat the procedure for a second ribbon. Following this, you'll need to insert the ribbons into the open endings of the apron's waistband, and finally sew them together to complete the apron. Details are the best part since you can choose pretty much any kind of ribbon, sequin, plastic flower etc to prettify your apron (and there's so much to choose from!!). Simply sew them on like it suits you best and add or remove as many as you wish. Done!!

Now all that you need to remember is how to tie the ribbon!! 
If you tie it on your left it means you're single, 
on the right means you're married or simply taken, 
in the middle (front) means you're a virgin, 
and in the back means you're a widow. 
For a bit of extra fun, add cute accessories like flowery socks and scarves (it can be a bit cold and rainy during Oktoberfest season) and wear a traditional wool jacket (Walkjacke) on your way to and from the festival. Jewellery should not be too funky and you're very welcome to wear anything heart-shaped. 

18 Aug 2011

The Lamp Shade

Quite a few years back, I bought a white 70s lamp from a little shop in Würzburg (Germany) and I really did love it for its uniqueness. Unfortunately, over the years, I have become tired of looking at its super-swirly pattern and that called for change of shade. I started my quest for an entirely new lamp shade which soon proved to be a lot more difficult than I thought. Everything looked either completely boring-meant-to-be-modern (and still ludicrously expensive in some cases) or way too plain. The local DIY shop only offered me some kind of frame made of a ring for the top and one for the bottom and suggested I try fiddling with a fabric of my choice until I had a lasting solution. That didn't satisfy me either. Luckily the well known Swedish furniture shop have LÖBBO on offer in various sizes and even colours. So I bought one of those medium sized plastic sheets (you have to transfer it into shade-shape yourself via a push-fit system). Moreover, I got myself the kind of fabric I thought would suit me best for the time being, a spray-on glue and double-sided adhesive tape (only 5mm or less in width).

1. Lay out your fabric on the floor, and put the plastic sheet of the shade above it. Add 2cm on all 4 sides of the plastic and cut out of the fabric. To prevent its edges from fraying, sew all the way around with a 5mm wide zigzag stitch.
2. What follows is the glueing part. Protect the floor with old newspaper and put your plastic sheet in the middle (outside up). Get your spray-on glue and spray evenly all over the shade, don't forget the edges!! If you have a helping hand, get it now, and carefully place the prepared piece of fabric onto the plastic. Any air bubbles caught in the middle can be removed with strokes from the inside towards the edges.
3. Remove from the sticky newspaper and turn around. Now you'll need the double-sided tape which will go on the top and bottom inside edges of the shade; this will fix the fabric onto the plastic on the inside as well (spray-on glue would be too messy here, as you only need a very small part to be sticky). Fold over the edges of the fabric and press onto the tape.
4. Follow the instructions that came with the shade and give it its round shape via the push-fit system. It's a bit tricky at first, but once you get a couple to fit, the remaining are not that hard any more... 
5. Put the edges of the left and right side neatly on top of each other and glue together with some double-sided tape to make the white plastic sheet completely disappear under the fabric. 
6. Now you basically just need to screw the new fabulous shade onto its lamp base and there you go. If you don't have a base but a cord set, all of these instructions work just as well. Just get LÖBBO one size up and don't hesitate to choose a new fabric and off you go! 

Both of my choices of fabric are Tilda by Norwegian designer Tone Finnanger, who produces so many lovely things and patterns that you just don't know what to make first and which fabric you will love most! If anyone actually follows my instructions and creates a new lamp shade for their home, do let me know, I would be delighted to hear from you!!!

17 Aug 2011

The Rocking Chair

This wonderful rocking chair once belonged to my late great-grandmother, who gave it to my mum when she was a teenager, who gave it to me when I was in my teenage years. It used to be covered with a horrible green cotton fabric including some kind of tree application, so as soon as I had the chair in my room, I removed that monster. Unfortunately, and despite all its prettiness and vintage-style, the uncovered chair was immensely uncomfortable and impossible to relax in due to the solid rattan strings in the back. To solve the problem, I tried covering the chair with as many cushions as I could find, but it still wasn't any more comfortable (the cushions were moving around, falling off and I had really just created a mountain-valley climate with soft padding next to hard rattan areas). I had no other choice as to strip the old upholstery of its green yuck and cover it with something new. Luckily, by that time, I had already discovered Cath Kidston and knew they sold their lovely patterned fabrics by the metre, too, and without further ado, I purchased 2m of the Faded Flowers Cotton Duck fabric. It is described as "a firm Cath Kidston favourite. Vintage inspired, this versatile print will add a feminine touch to your home." Just what I needed...

The actual making of the new covers was relatively easy: Simply copy the outlines of the foam padding onto the fabric (2x) and add 2cm seam allowance. Cut the two pieces out of the fabric and place on top of each other (outside in), fix with needles all around at the seam allowance. Sew it together, leaving the straight bottom side open to insert the foam padding. Once you've finished, turn inside out, stuff the padding in and fit it into the cover. Fold the leftover seam allowance of the straight bottom side into the cover and stitch up manually. Ribbons on the top will help to tie the cover onto the chair. Should the inside padding be moving within the cover, add buttons in the middle and sew onto the cover, all the way through the foam padding.
Procedures for the top and bottom cover are exactly the same and once you've done one, the second one will be child's play :) The accessory cushion covers are actually made from what was left over of the Faded Flowers Cotton Duck fabric. But I'll explain how I made these another time, going into detail particularly over the cute little mini ball ribbons framing the cushion cases.

Everything started in 2006...

This kitchen gear always reminds me of my lovely au pair family.
… when I left school and my parents’ house for the first time. Although I had originally planned to go studying straight away, I decided to take a different route into my new “grown-up” life. My long-term highschool boyfriend and I had split up a few months before I finished my A-Levels and this was the kind of kick I needed to decide a gap year would actually suit me much more than jumping from school right into university. Working as an Au Pair for a year seemed a great choice because not only do you neither have to pay any rent nor spend any money of groceries shopping, but you also got paid for looking after kids which I am used to (thanks to my 2 little brothers) anyway. I started working for a lovely English-French family with 2 girls who lived in the very heart of London and I instantly fell in love with everything about the city and knew this was where I wanted to live and work myself one day. It didn’t take me long to get used to the buzz of London and I had the time of my life and met the love of my life. Once the year was over, I went back to Germany to study at the University of Mainz where I graduated with a Master’s degree 5 years later. Being away from my boyfriend for that long, having to explain to people that a long distance relationship can actually work and that I was definitely going to move over to London afterwards (no matter what) cost a lot of energy and strength but it was totally worth it. I am now living in a beautiful apartment in central London with my lovely boyfriend Joe and actually managed to get a decent job and a couple of promotions relatively quickly. I couldn’t be happier! If anyone ever wonders if a gap year is the right thing to do, I can only say “Yes, definitely!” It allowed me to grow up a little before uni, I am now a fluent and accent-free in the English laguage and I have met some great people including Joe.