Top 5 YouTube Sites of 2016 | Champagne Twist

Photo Credit ‘Death to Stock’.

These are my top 5 YouTube Sites for 2016 (in no particular order) –

  1. Kristabel Always interesting, and often thought provoking Kristabel’s YouTube channel has given me loads of inspiration during 2016 in the realms of travel, fashion and lifestyle.
  2. Lorraine Pascale My favourite ever chef and one of the most multi talented and inspirational people ever, Pascale proves you can achieve your dreams and eat cake too!
  3. At Home With Nikki If you love anything to do with home decor, you need to check out this youtube channel.  Nikki plus Homes and Gardens to shame.
  4. TED-Ed another highly inspiration and educational resource, Ted-Ed has 100s of videos covering a wide range of subjects – there is something for everyone.
  5. The Resistance with Keith Olbermann – Keith Olbermann is a riot! If like me you were disappointed with the results of the recent US election, check out Olbermann’s posts. If nothing else he will give you hope for 2017.

And as a bonus, why not check out my YouTube channel – Champagne Twist


What were your favourite YouTube sites of 2016? What YouTuber are you currently excited about? Please share in the comments below. Thanks for reading! Please subscribe to Champagne Twist for more.

Great British Sewing Bee 1 hour challenge – week 4

GBSB 1 hour

WEEK 4 – International

This week’s theme on GBSB is ‘international’.  So looking for an alternative challenge, following my far too quickly completed Birdie Cami, I have been eyeing up Sewing Bee’s contestant Rumana’s sewing pattern weights.  At first I wasn’t sure what they were, but now I know, they have become a revelation and an instant must have!

I had been toying with the idea of purchasing some metal rings to use as weights, from the local builders merchants.  But these I think are more environmentally friendly, economical and pretty.

I researched a couple of methods, eventually creating an amalgamation, adding my own little twist. Here are the links, if you would like to make your own pattern weights:

I had a bag of really old rice that I was about to throw onto the compost heap. I mixed the rice with some lavender flowers, to create the filling, doubling up the weights’ role as scented pouches.

Sewing pattern weights construction summary
Sewing pattern weights construction summary
Sewing pattern weights construction summary
Sewing pattern weights construction summary

So here’s the result, 2 sewing pattern weights, with more on the way.  It is certainly a great stash buster, as well as a practical tool which didn’t cost me anything, as I already had the materials.  And as this was an amalgamation of 2 construction methods from bloggers from other countries, plus a couple of ideas of my own, this fits in with the international theme.

sewing weights champagne twist
Sewing pattern weights

In all, both the weights took about 45 mins from start to finish to make. I plan to make at least 8 more, as well as a patchwork storage bag, made from the left over scraps. This potentially means this project is one of my most economical ever. Makes up for burning the fabric for my Birdie Cami.  That’s another successful challenge completed.

I will let you know how I progress with the other weights and the bag.  Next week’s GBSB theme is 1960s.  I feel it’s time to make a 60s style skirt, don’t you?

Thanks for reading, don’t forget to like, subscribe and comment.




Ghislaine Chelsea Hair Tie GBSB 1 hour sewing challenge

GBSB 1 hour sewing challenge – week 2

GBSB 1 hourWell, my favourite contestant is out. Saying that, sadly it was the right decision, but I’m still upset for Ghislaine.

Anyway, yesterday I received a shipment of fabric (don’t worry, I have sewn enough to allow me to buy more fabric – and it was on sale – and you can’t make me send it back!) and as part of the extras, there was a beautiful strip of floral fabric included in the bundle.

I will post about my new fabric purchases later this week.  I have a few plans, so I promise they will not be kept in the stash for long.

I had planned to make a skirt this week, but as the Chelsea Flower Show is on, I couldn’t resist using this lovely piece of floral fabric to make a head tie.

Floral fabric
Floral fabric

It was a simple task, I quickly laundered the fabric and ironed it as soon as it was dry – ish. I folded the strip in half, lengthways with right sides together, and ironed the fold.

Ghislaine Chelsea Hair Tie
Ghislaine Chelsea Hair Tie

I then folded the strip in half again, this time short ways, and traced a curve shape at the ends.  I cut out the curved ends, evened out the sides and stitched around the edges, leaving a small opening so I could turn the tie right side out.

Another quick press, followed by top stitching around the entire edge of the hair tie, making sure the opening was stitched closed and voila, a hair tie. From ironing the laundered fabric to the final stitch, it took me less than 50 mins to complete, just in time for me to see my favourite contestant booted out.

So today is Tuesday, it’s sunny, and I’m looking forward to an afternoon’s television viewing of the Chelsea Flower show, whilst wearing my new hair tie.  Thank you Ghislaine for the inspiration, and keep sewing, I expect a book from you within the next 18 months 🙂

Ghislaine Chelsea Hair Tie GBSB 1 hour sewing challenge
Ghislaine Chelsea Hair Tie 1 hour sewing challenge Great British Sewing Bee
The Great British Sewing Bee - From Stitch to Style by Wendy Gardiner

Book Review: The Great British Sewing Bee: From Stitch to Style by Wendy Gardiner


The Great British Sewing Bee - From Stitch to Style by Wendy Gardiner
The Great British Sewing Bee – From Stitch to Style by Wendy Gardiner

This is a fairly unusual post for me, as I normally wait a few weeks after a book publication, before I purchase and review.  However, as I’m have been dragged back into the Great British Sewing Bee (GBSB) fold, I thought why not take advantage of the special deal currently being run by Amazon (yes I know, but I’m an impoverished blogger – please don’t hate me!)

The book accompanies the 4th series of the GBSB, and it’s a nice and weighty, robust, hard back book. I think it will take a great deal of wear and tear – a bonus for a publication designed to be used as a reference book.

So today, on the first day of publication, I’m lucky enough to have the book in my mits, and so far, I’m impressed.  Starting off with a list of items for your basic sewing kit, the book continues with information regarding sewing machine basics, paper patterns,  fit tips and includes that dreaded first bias cut top that many of the contestants struggled with in the first show.  However, you will be pleased to know that the author clearly explains how it should be done.

Over 200 pages long, the book is stuffed with information suitable for the beginner to the expert. There are clothes patterns for children, women and men – my slight gripe is that the models featured in the book don’t cover the wide spectrum of people living in the UK,. It would have been nice for instance, to see a few more patterns for men, teenagers and babies.  I would also have liked to see more models covering a wider range of body shapes and sizes too.

A huge trick was also missed by not including non- clothing items, such as cushion covers and shopping or book bags.  Now that we have to pay for plastic bags, this would have been a fantastic way to encourage everyone to make their own eco-friendly carriers. I’m very surprised they missed such an obvious way to encourage more people into sewing.  Not everyone goes into this hobby to make clothes.

The Great British Sewing Bee - From Stitch to Style by Wendy Gardiner
The Great British Sewing Bee – From Stitch to Style by Wendy Gardiner

The book is fully illustrated with instructions clear and concise, and unlike some sewing books, there are many patterns that I would like to have a  go at.  The 1960s dress below is of particular interest.

The Great British Sewing Bee - From Stitch to Style by Wendy Gardiner
The Great British Sewing Bee – From Stitch to Style by Wendy Gardiner

There is a separate paper pattern pack included, which is nicely packaged and can be stored away for safe keeping.   I would strongly suggest that if you purchase this book, to also purchase some tracing or Swiss paper.

The Great British Sewing Bee - From Stitch to Style by Wendy Gardiner
The Great British Sewing Bee – From Stitch to Style by Wendy Gardiner

The RRP is £25, however Amazon are currently selling the book for £9.99.  At less than £10, I think that the book is excellent value and a must buy especially if you’re a novice.  It’s worth it for the patterns alone.   At the RRP, it becomes a more considered purchase, but still represents good value.

Despite my initial reluctance, I’m glad I purchased this book, and plan to make several of the items within.  Stay tuned to see how I progress.

Rating 4 out of 5

Credits: Original book cover photography by Charlotte Medlicott
Original book photographers Jenni Hare and Charlotte Medlicott
Book published by Quadrille 2016
Photos © Champagne Twist



henley skirt, champagne twist

The Henley Skirt

henley skirt, champagne twist
The Henley Skirt

I have been rather busy of late with a project which is (fingers crossed) due at the end of the month.  But, never fear, my sewing machine was always near.

I completed this skirt a couple of weeks ago. It’s a self drafted, box pleated number, with in-seam pockets and a side zip opening.  Now the tricky part was the zip.  I had to figure out how to attach both the pocket and the zip to the side seam, whilst ensuring that the stripes matched.  I managed it, but it must admit to a little hair tearing out.

I intend to make a top with the least over scraps of fabric, which I can wear with the skirt to make a ‘dress’ or as a summer top to wear with jeans.

All in all, this was a fun, if challenging make, and I’m very pleased with the outcome.  The only slight problem, it took me so long to make the skirt, I managed to loose some of my Christmas weight (yes I know!) and now the waist is too big.  But I can fix that with some belt loops and a sash.

I’m looking forward to wearing this number now that the sun has paid a visit. Maybe in time for ‘Me Made May’.

Details:  Henley Skirt

Item: Mid length, box pleat skirt with side opening and in-seam pockets

Fabric: Regatta by Michael Miller

Construction: 100% cotton fabric

Pattern: Self drafted

sewing challenge 2016 homemade clothing , accessories and soft furnishings

My next sewing projects include the aforementioned top, 2 Susie blouses, a pattern by Sew Over It, a dress, which is currently waiting for me to finish it, and at some point some trousers – if I can find the right pattern.  Looks like I’m going to have to draft that too 🙂

Thanks for reading.

Lulu Guinness Modern Day Icons

Lulu Guinness -Modern Day Icons event part 2 – review

Yesterday, I teased about the Modern Day Icons event, at the Lulu Guinness Covent Garden store. Well, as promised, here’s the low down of what was truly a fabulous and inspiring event.

Treated to generous glasses of champers and delicious canapés created by some of the panelists, the early birds were permitted to pursue the glorious store stock of beautiful bags and accessories.

But the real event was yet to come. The audience were introduced to 6 inspiring women, over 2 panels, where they discussed various topics regarding their status as ‘Modern Day Icons‘.  This event is being heavily promoted by Lulu Guinness in their aim to show their “love of culturally interesting women”.

Lulu Guinness Modern Day Icons
1st Panel (from left to right) Meredith O’Shaughnessy, Lucy Brown, Jenny Quintero and event host Francesca Hodge (Photo Source Francesca Hodge Instagram)

Photo source:

1st Panel

Meredith O’Shaughnessy

Creator of the Meredith Collective brand, Meredith spoke of the development of her businesses, offering the insightful tip, to talk to people about your ideas, once they get excited, then you should do something about it.  Ideas need follow up action, “ideas are the easy part”.

Meredith discussed how said running a business is hard work – “you can’t stop, it’s relentless … can be lonely at times”.  However the rewards are there, as her business testifies.

Her company, ‘Ohlala’, provided some delicious macarons for the event. Check out my  review soon.

Lucy Brown and Jenny Quintero

A former model agent and magazine publishing manager, Lucy and Jenny both quit their jobs to develop ‘Jar Kitchen‘ situated in Drury Lane, Covent Garden.

Lucy spoke of how members of her family gave her emotionally support, which proved very confidence building.  I think this kind of support is crucial to self development, especially when you’re embarking on a new business venture.

All 3 ladies are proof positive that hard work, dedication and love for the work you do, can provide life fulfilment.   There will be detractors, but you don’t have to work or collaborate with anyone who shows a lack of respect for your position or ideas.

That’s all for today, tomorrow I will post about the 2nd panel which was a brilliant as the first. In the meanwhile you can read more about Lulu Guinness’ Modern Day Icons on the official website here.

Thanks for reading.

Modern Day Icons part 1

Lulu Guinness Modern Day Icons

Modern Day Icons, Lulu Guinness Event

Lulu Guinness Modern Day Icons
Lulu Guinness Modern Day Icons

Today was one of those days. A rare day when I didn’t feel like doing anything, sapped of energy and on my 3rd measure of anti flu meds, while the world outside was busy running around with their daily lives.

I had recently received an invite to attend a panel discussion at the world famous Lulu Guinness store, in Covent Garden.  I immediately jumped at the chance,  Lulu Guinness is one of my most favourite designers of all time! I’ve collected her bags since I was knee high to a grasshopper.

But then Thursday morning arrived, my head full of cold, the unexpected sun shine, which of course meant the outfit I had planned was completely unsuitable, I resolved my attendance was not meant to be.

As the hours passed from morning to afternoon, my inner voice of reason spoke (we have regular convos, which worries my Mother somewhat) and said, “What on earth are you thinking? Of course you’re going – you’ve been invited to spend an entire evening surrounded by Lulu Guinness bags, and listen to 6 inspiring women talk about their work. Oh and did I mention you’re going to spend the entire evening surrounded by Lulu Guinness bags?”

Isn’t it remarkable how a week long flu can disappear in a matter of moments.

Almost as remarkable, my outfit wasn’t deemed as inappropriate anymore – although that was more to do with the fact that I had co-ordinated my clothes to match my vintage Lulu Guinness bag, and I wasn’t about to start another conversation with my inner Gok Wan.

Lulu Guinness - Modern Day Icons Event, Covent Garden
Lulu Guinness – Modern Day Icons

The venue: Covent Garden.

The atmosphere: Exciting.

The facilities: Put it this way, when you walk into a luxury accessories store and the very first thing that happens, when you’ve barely stepped over the threshold, some kind soul offers a glass of champagne adorned with a strawberry. It’s safe to say when that happens, you’re in for a treat.

Me Made May 16 Pineapple Print Skirt, Lulu Guinness Modern Day Icons Event
Me Made May 16 Pineapple Print Skirt

Having the chance to pursue the beautiful array of handbags and accessories, whilst sampling delicious canapés doesn’t happen every day.  It should.


More on the Modern Day Icons event tomorrow.  Tonight, I’m going to bed, to dream of my evening with Marcie, Chloe, Rachel … oh Rachel …