Monday, November 2, 2015

Coral Tulle Dress for a Child

This is my first post from Pune. Yes we've shifted! Again!!! But Pune is my happy place so apart from the not-at-all enviable task of shifting I'm very happy to be back here.

In the time between my last post and now its my little sister who's turned into a serious blogger and I'm super proud of her.  I've been asking her to blog for quite some time and since she always listens to me :) she tried it and now loves it. My sister is a voracious reader and an excellent cook. There are book reviews and yummy recipes and her blog also reflects the funny, witty and sweet person that she is. Do visit her blog : Mixed Bag

And it is her daughter Meera's dress that this post is about. I made it for her (the cutie in the picture) second birthday.

I'm super thrilled that it turned out exactly the way it looked in my head. It started with the lovely coral cotton that I had. The cotton is bottom weight fabric really but the colour is so amazing that I decided to turn it into a dress for Meera. Next I bought some coral tulle and lining fabric (its more red than coral) to make the skirt.

Measurements: I asked my sister to refer to this video for taking Meera's measurements (this is a fantastic channel for pattern making). Once I received the measurements, I compared them with the standard measurements chart from Winifred Aldrich's book Metric Pattern Cutting for Children's wear. I was going to be sewing and sending the dress a few months prior to her birthday, so to account for her growth, I used standard measurements which were a bit larger than her current size. From the book, I went with measurements for a one and half year old which were a little larger than her measurements.

The Pattern: The dress consists of the flat sleeveless body block and the circle skirt pattern. Both were drafted using Winifred Aldrich's book.

Seam Allowances: The dress has an invisible zipper at the CB seam. The seam allowance at CB is 3/4". The side seam and waist seam allowances are 1/2" each; hem allowances - 2".

Cutting the pieces:

1. The front bodice is cut on fold. The back bodice is not (due to the zipper)

2. Similarly for the skirt, for the lining fabric, the front skirt is cut on the fold while the back is not.

3. For the tulle skirt pieces, the circle skirt pattern is placed in such a way that both the side seam and the centre front are on fold. Once cut, a whole circle is formed.

Sewing the dress:

Attaching the invisible zipper - At the CB waist seam, I sewed the bodice pieces to the skirt for 3/4" plus a few stitches more. After doing this, for both the right and left side pieces, I attached the invisible zipper. The invisible zipper extends 2" below the waist seam into the skirt.

Next sew the CB seam of the skirt and cut off the excess zipper.

Sew the side seams of the skirt.

Baste the 2 layers of the tulle skirt to the lining. Slash the tulle at the CB seam till the point where the zipper ends and sew down the edges of the tulle to the lining with very tiny stitches.

Sew side seams of the bodice and attach the skirt to the bodice.

Finish the edges of the armhole and neckline using bias binding.

And this is how it looks.

Hem the skirt. The tulle layers will hang 2" longer than the skirt.  

I added coral lace at the waist by just sewing the lace to the dress at the side seams.

This is how the back of the dress looks. 

I sewed on ready made crochet flowers on the tulle layers; some on the top layer and some on the lower (inside) one.  By doing this, some flowers had a hazy effect against the tulle which I really loved.

I was overjoyed when this dress was completed. But the biggest joy is in knowing that its Meera's favourite dress :). I think children are the hardest to please and they are most honest in their opinions. So I declare this dress a success! :)


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Dastkar Nature Bazaar Bangalore 2015

On Sunday I made it to the last day of  Dastkar Nature Bazaar. And I'm so glad I did. The last few weeks have been a bit crazy and this exhibition came as a welcome break.

Shopping at such places can be quite daunting - everything looks so beautiful you want to buy everything!! Some of my tips for shopping at exhibitions:

1. It's best to visit in the mornings. It's less crowded and stall owners have the patience to answer questions about the product and help you choose.

2.  First just walk around looking at all the stalls and make purchases in the next round. This certainly avoids impulse buying.

3. Make a list of things you might want to buy - eg. If it's cushion covers note down the size. These are also the best places to buy unique gifts - so make a list of people you may want to purchase gifts for.

4. Carry a huge cloth bag and cash. Some stall owners prefer being paid cash. Also wear comfortable shoes.

5. Carry snacks with you (even if there is a food court.The queues are always really long). You will most likely spend much more time than you planned for.

6. Parking is usually a hassle especially in the evenings. So taking a cab or an auto is the best.

And here are some pictures of Dastkar Nature Bazaar Bangalore 2015

Puppets from the Chitrakari stall from Andhra Pradesh. Read more about these puppets here. Here's a lovely song (one of my favourite songs) that has similar puppets : Mukunda Mukunda 

Handmade jootis. Sad I can't wear them. My feet hurt on wearing such shoes.

Woven baskets

Embroidered vests and bags from Gujarat

A mulmul stole from Kutch

More stoles and dupattas  from Kutch. The right most one is made of pure cotton and the other two are Gaji silk fabric. The fabric has a satiny feel. If  I'm not mistaken, the fabric is also called Mushroo

What I bought? I bought 2 dupattas - one in Chanderi and another one in cotton from the store above, appliqued cushion covers, a pair of silver earrings ( baalis), lovely ceramic kitchenware and a few gifts for dear ones. We had a great time. If you've missed this you can subscribe to Dastkar's FB page and get updates next time.


Thursday, April 30, 2015

DIY Chandelier with Fairy Lights

We moved to our current house in December and though it had light fixtures, the living room was missing a central light source. So I thought - Why not have fairy lights in the living room :)

I love fairy lights. I think they are just magical. I've always had them in my Craft Room. You can see them in this post I wrote a few years ago:  Craft Room They were the flickering type which I think are lovely outdoors. Indoors the non flickering type looks better. I could only find them recently.

My first idea for the chandelier was to wind the lights around a hula hoop and hang it. The Hula Hoop might have been too big for the space available. I decided to go ahead with what I already had - a large embroidery hoop. With some wire, a few chains and 10 metres of fairy lights this turned out to just like what I had in mind. Its very light too.

Here's how I made it

You will need:

An embroidery hoop (mine is 12 inches in diameter)
3 chains ( each measuring 12 inches) - Mine are from my store :
Gold Spray paint
Wire (I used some that I already had. I have them from the time when I used to make stocking flowers) You could use thicker wires too.
Fairy lights - the non flickering type - 10 metres

1. Remove the inner ring of the embroidery hoop. The outer ring will be the one onto which the chains will be attached. Mark 3 equidistant points on this. Insert 3 keychain rings into the ring.

2. The wires that I used are pre-cut into lengths of about 20 inches. Holding the inner and outer ring at a distance of about 3 inches wind each length of wire around the rings securing it by twisting. Since the circumference of the inner ring is less than that of the outer ring the wires will not be perfectly straight. I decided I could live with this imperfection and continued :)  Ensure that there is enough space in between the wires for the roll of lairy lights to go through later. Also the keychain rings should be at the 3 points that were marked earlier.

3. Once the frame is done spray paint it along with the chains. I used gold. Let it dry completely

4. Wind the fairy lights (starting with the end) around the lower ring first and then wind it around the upper ring. Leave enough length to wire it to the ceiling.

5. Attach the 3 chains to the key chain rings.

I then called the society's electrician to help fix the chandelier. He cut off the plug and then wired it to the ceiling. Once we switched it on we were speechless for a few moments. It looked so beautiful!! Even the reflection on the tiles! Everything looks so festive when these lights are on.

And like with any DIY project there are thoughts to make this better/different:

1. You could use white paint instead of gold to match the colour of the wires of the lights. I think it'll look lovely.
2. You could  hot glue ice cream sticks instead of wires to make a frame

This chandelier story does not end here. The electrician who helped fix this wanted to make one for his house. I explained how I had made this and he asked me if I could get him an embroidery hoop. I did and am looking forward to seeing how his turns out. I should be able to put up pictures of his version soon.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Turn Shoe Boxes into Pretty Storage

I have always stored my craft supplies in discarded boxes - shoe boxes, detergent boxes, etc. And I have tried to prettify them in various ways. I've in the past tried decoupaging them but pattern paper turns out to be quite expensive and a constant supply of a particular pattern is never assured. I wanted a uniform, clean look and painting was the answer. One might not realise this with a couple of boxes but when you have separate boxes for everything from lace,ribbons, zips and tapes to paints, label holders become indispensable. Since I could not find them I made those too.  I'm thrilled with how the boxes turned out.

 If you'd like to make similar ones here's how:

You will need:

1. Old Shoe boxes

2. All purpose primer and thinner

3. Acrylic paint ( I used Camel  Artists' acrylic colour in Cobalt Teal and Gold) and flat brushes

4. Double sided foam tape

5. Old cereal boxes and unwanted business cards.

1: If you are using a folded shoe box, you can glue the edges. I did not after reading a note on the box that said that glue hadn't been used in its making to keep it environment friendly.

2: Apply one coat of all purpose primer mixed with thinner all over the box. You can use wood primer as well, but I find that all purpose primer works better.

 3: Cover 1/2" from the edges of the lid with masking tape and apply acrylic paint on the rest of the box. I used the shade Cobalt Teal.

4: Remove the masking tape and paint the border with gold acrylic paint.

For the label holder:

From the cereal box, cut out  a rectangle (mine is 3 1/2 by 2 inches). Leaving a border of 1/2" all around, cut out (and discard) the inner rectangle. Paint the border gold (ideally the plain inner side of the cereal box since it takes paint better).

On the other side, stick foam tape on 3 sides, leaving the top open  to slide in our label. I used an 1/2" foam tape and cut it to make it 1/4" in width; I found that this makes sliding the label easier. Peel off the backing and stick onto the box, centering it properly.

Cut the unused business card to size so that it slides into the holder smoothly. Write the text on the label after sliding it in; this helps get the text in the centre. You can print your labels as well but I love writing by hand. You can apply a coat of varnish to the whole box. I did not.

And that's it! Your pretty storage box is ready. Since paint has been used here, it will give you a uniform look for any number of boxes that you may add later.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

This Place That I Call Home

I have always wanted to write about my lovely house on my blog. An opportunity for the same came knocking in the form of  'Starter Stories', a series started by (a  New York City based real estate platform), where bloggers write about their first / current house and how they made it their home.  

Ganesh (my husband) and I live in a three bedroom unit in an apartment complex in the city of Bangalore, India. We take life as it comes and don't really plan too much. Maybe our house is a reflection of that since it does not follow a particular style or pattern. Its a mix of modern and the traditional and comprises things collected over the years - gifts, holiday mementos, flea market purchases and loads of hand made goodies (by me :)). 

Welcome then to a tour of my happy place:). 

Image above: This is the main door. What you see hung on the door frame is called a 'toran', an ornamental piece, on either side  of which are bunches of paddy husks - both of which are considered auspicious and are meant to bring prosperity to the house. 

Image above: Our living room with basic brown and beige furniture. We have intentionally stayed away from adding too much here since we love open spaces. The sofa and the chairs were custom designed by us. The french windows open on to a nice balcony with lovely green views. 

Image above: A minimalistic TV unit also serves as a display space for gifts from friends. The painting above it is a traditional tribal style painting from the state of Maharashtra (called 'Warli' painting) usually depicting village life.  

Image above: The house came with light fixtures but the living room area was missing a central light source. I fixed the problem by making this chandelier with embroidery hoops and fairy lights :) 

Image above: The dining area. Though we are just the two of us, we invested in a big solid sheesham (Indian rosewood) six seater. We waited for a long time to get the right set since we wanted chairs without rexin or leather upholstery, which is what most stores seemed to stock at that time. This table has seen a lot of good food, fun and laughter with family and friends. It also often doubles up as a cutting table for my sewing projects.  

Image above: The master bedroom. This white four poster bed was a dream come true for me. We got it custom made and I made these lovely tulle curtains. These curtains bring back fond childhood memories of summer nights spent sleeping under mosquito nets in in my huge ancestral home. Of course we don't need the mosquito nets anymore but these tulle curtains lend the same dreamlike quality to the bed. The beanbag is also made by me.

Image above: My sewing space, in the far corner of the master bedroom. We made up for the shortage of storage space in the house by getting this white unit made from a pair of old castaway plywood boards, which I painted later. The boxes above the unit are also made by me from old shoe boxes (the teal ones) and a discarded fruit case (the pink polka box).

Image above: The dress form is a gift from my mother; I made a cover for it. I love sheer curtains for all my work spaces. The hat was bought at Sorrento during our Italian holiday. 

Image above: My inspiration board

Image above: The study. The box on the extreme right is the box the dress form came in; I have covered it with contact paper and it now holds all my sewing patterns. 

Image above: My favourite shelf! I love how versatile open shelves can be. This one here has my craft books and paint brushes and also serves as a display for a few cute things. The white lamb on top of the shelf is a memento from our New Zealand holiday while the framed picture of he two of us next to it was shot at Callendar in Scotland.   

A few more things that adorn my house. From left to right - 1. A painting of Goddess Durga using the batik technique, made and gifted by my cousin 2. This 'Tanjore' dancing doll  is much loved and has been with us for long 3. A ceramic plaque from Positano on the Amalfi coast in Italy 4. An intricate bead work piece made by my grandmother over fifty years ago which I got restored and framed. 

Image above: Any mention of this house would be incomplete without this breathtaking painting of a 'Bharatnatyam' (a traditional South Indian dance form) dancer that I instantly fell in love with at a street art fair in Bangalore called 'Chitra Santhe'. I love this dance form and have practised it for many years. 

And this is the place I call home. Serene, comfortable and lots of fun.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Baguettes for Valentine's Day

It happened one particular Valentine's day in Mumbai some years ago. My husband had booked us a table in a popular restaurant and we were looking forward to a lovely candlelit dinner. We reached the restaurant to find that it was bursting at its seams and the staff wasn't coping. It was absolute mayhem. We really shouldn't have bothered making a reservation. The whole situation would have been really funny if we hadn't been so hungry. In the end we were just glad we got something to eat.

So for the past few years, be it Valentine's day or New Year's eve we prefer to dine in. And every year I try something new always making sure that the menu is not very stressful. This year I planned to make baguettes to go with a simple pasta.

So for dinner on Valentine's day we had a simple pasta with vegetables in a bechamel and tomato sauce along with sliced baguette toasted with butter and garlic.

I followed 2 different recipes. I halved the ingredients of this recipe: Easy French Bread and because I thought the crust in the pictures looked a bit soft and I wanted a crustier bread I followed the directions stated in this recipe: Dan Leader's 4- hour baguette . I even sprayed the loaf before it went into the oven and then sprayed it again at the 5th min and then at the 15th minute. At 250 deg C it took 40 min to get a crusty French Baguette. It was just prefect.

I made them into 2 mini loaves since I use the convection option in my microwave oven for baking. The put the second loaf in the refrigerator to bake the next day. Crusty bread needs to be eaten fresh.

Since I did not get pictures of the loaf on the first day the first picture is that of the second day.

I baked another loaf the next day. This time the bread was a little bit dry but just as crusty. We enjoyed it with vegetable au gratin. My husband though did not find any difference in the bread. But then he just loves anything I make :)

We had a wonderful Valentine's weekend. Hope you did too.