National Tea Day – top 3 teas of the year so far | Champagne Twist

Today is National Tea Day, so you can guess the theme of today’s post.

Here are my top 3 teas, of the year so far.

Teapigs Matcha Green Tea Drink - Elderflower - Champagne Twist ChampagneTwist.wordpress.com
Teapigs Matcha Green Tea Drink, with Elderflower – Champagne Twist

3rd – TeaPigs Matcha Elderflower 

teapigs-liqourice-peppermint

2nd – Teapigs Liquorice and Peppermint

Niche Tea, Champagne Twist

1st – Niche co. ‘Skin’

What’s your favourite cuppa? How are you celebrating National Tea Day? Let me know in the comments section.

Thanks for reading.

#EasterSpringDress2017 – The Reveal : part 1

Screen Shot 2017-04-01 at 12.20.42.png

Hello,

The Easter Spring Dress 2017 Sew a long has been a great opportunity for me to tackle my fabric fabric stash and review my Spring Wardrobe. So much so, that I decided I didn’t want to limit myself to making 1 dress for Easter. Oh no, I’m not one to make life easy for myself. I decided to put together outfits for everyday of the Easter festival.  This meant either creating items or completing UFOs to wear everyday from Palm Sunday right through to Easter Bank holiday Monday. 9 outfits with at least 1 element I have made.

Yes, this is a completely mad, totally unrealistic and impossible task but, when has a little thing like that ever stopped me?

Easter for me is a time for renewal. I like to celebrate the long awaited arrival of Spring and new beginnings, whilst remembering the true meaning behind Easter. Whist the focus is Easter Sunday, Easter is actually a week long festival. Quite frankly in these strange times any excuse for a week long festival involving creativity, love, inclusion, chocolate and fun, is a festival I’m signing up for.

 

 

So over the next few days on Champagne Twist, I will showcase my outfits, some which have been made especially, some are adapted and some were UFOs, all completed for the Easter festival.  I hope you will join me on my journey.

Thanks for reading, please sign up for updates, and subscribe of more from Champagne Twist. Spread the word.

April Resolutions | Champagne Twist

We’re already half way through April, so far I have managed, to a certain extent, to keep up with 2 online sewing challenges, (#EasterSpringDress Sew Along and #SewApril2017) completed a number of UFOs and even started making a Chanel style outfit.

None of the above have anything to do with this month’s resolution, as it happens to be Gardening. But never fear, I have planed for April a number of indoor and outdoor creative ideas to share with you.

gardening april

Over the next few days, watch out for loads of creative makes all with a garden theme, including haberdashery tools, home decor and even an outfit!

Make sure you subscribe to this blog for more information. Like and share as well to help spread the word,

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday Thinking – Is there enough diversity in the world of arts and crafts?

Wednesday Thinking The Mid-week Editorialv

When I heard there was going to be a new shopping TV channel dedicated to all things sewing and quilting, it almost made my year.

Then I started watching.

Here are some of the main cast of presenters and designers on the new shopping channel, Sewing Quarter.

Group1Edited.jpg

Picture credit/source: Sewing Quarter/https://www.sewingquarter.com/the-sewing-quarter/about-us/

Only 1 male presenter, no male designers, as for ethnic diversity – well here’s the picture, need I say more?

A while ago, I published a piece about the lack of diversity in the music industry, referencing the issues regarding the dominance of a single artist in the UK charts.  Sadly those same themes appear to dominate the world of art and crafts as well.

As much as I enjoyed the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show, I was saddened that the range of crafts displayed didn’t reflect the wide diversity of the cratfters, producers and makers in the UK. During my 2 days at the show, I only saw 2 crafter/bloggers of colour at the event – Megan of Pigeon Wishes and Chinelo Bally. There also seemed to be very few male crafters live demonstrating at the show.

When I visit areas such as Goldhawk Road in West London, Walthamstow Fabric Market in East London and areas in-between such as Berwick Street and Portobello Road,  I see a united nations of crafters – beginner hobbyists to professionals, shoppers, shop owners, artists, young and the young at heart. So why is this not reflected in the main stream crafting media, fairs and TV shows?

I know there’s always YouTube, but I also know there is a strong appetite for new challenges, materials and techniques. Chinese jacquards, Indian silks, Nigerian Cottons, Japanese Embroidery, Italian Wools are all highly popular at the moment, but there are few places on the web to inform you how to use these wonderful fabric and techniques. When they are showcased, it is usually by people who are so far removed from the historical and social context of these crafts, the results becomes diluted. An recent example was highlighted during a quilting demonstration on Sewing Quarter where the cultural heritage of quilting was only briefly mentioned.

 

While personally I’m not a huge fan of Colette patterns for various reasons, at least they are attempting to reflect their diverse clientele, featuring models who are diverse in both shape and skin colour. It’s at least a small step the the right direction. Sadly, of all the independant pattern designers, Colette patterns is the only one I know of, who actively do so. None of the top 5 UK independent sewing pattern designers do, as far as I’m aware, which sends out subtle messages of exclusion.

It seems a great pity 2 genres; music and arts & crafts, ideal mediums for bringing people together, appear to be doing the opposite.

What you think? Please share your thoughts and comments below.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Elizabeth D Bakes – Vegan Baking Masterclass

This time last week, I was enjoying a great masterclass, held by the owner of Elizabeth D Bakes, hosted by the Piccadilly branch of Whole Foods Market.  Elizabeth demonstrated no less than 3 different recipes – pistachio brownie, carrot cake and lime tart.

My absolute favourite was the carrot cake, with it’s wonderful spicy mix and delicious carrots.  The lime icing really brought out the flavour of the gluten-free cake, much better in my opinion than the traditional cream cheese frosting, and for far less calories.

The brownie while delicious, was my less favourite of the trio, partly because as much as I would love to, I still can’t really get my head around chia seeds.  To me they look too much like frog spawn when reconstituted and they don’t match the flavour and consistency of eggs.

In contrast, the lime pie was a lovely treat – delicious, moist, crumbly and full of delicious citrus flavour. It came a close second to the carrot cake, and it’s nice to know that the entire pie can be frozen at different stages, so that you will always have one ready on standby.

The masterclass was a great eye opener for me. Simply substituting just a few inexpensive ingredients can produce cakes and bakes which are just as delicious as the traditional version, if not more so. The added bonus, these recipes tend to be a whole lot healthier and less calorific, due to their free from, gluten free and/or vegan attributes.

We are all given goodie bags, which included 2 Elizabeth D Bakes banana breads. I shall review the banana bread at a later date. I will also try the recipes given at the event and report back.

5-starOne of the best masterclasses of the year so far – fun, informative and generous  yummy samples provided. Eating cake for Sunday brunch can’t be beaten.

#SewApril2017

Hello,

I’m taking part in the #sewapril2017 challenge over on Instagram. If you love anything to do with sewing and clothes design, please go and check it out.

Champagne Twist on Instagram (@ champagne_twist)

 

sq-neck-shirt-fabric

Cherry Gingham Dress, by Champagne Twist
Cherry Gingham Dress, by Champagne Twist
Clothkits bag and purse set | Champagne Twist - champagnetwist.wordpress.com
Clothkits bag and purse set | Champagne Twist – champagnetwist.wordpress.com

CT Show, episode 15 now live

Hello,

whole orange and fresh coco nut cake | Champagne Twist - champagnetwist.wordpress.com

Episode 15 of the CT Show is now live on YouTube, featuring the Whole Orange & Fresh Coconut cake recipe I posted a few days ago.

More coming soon, so please don’t forget to like, share and subscribe.

Thanks for reading.

Clothkits Big Birdie Skirt Kit – review and construction progress

Clothkits Big Birdie Skirt Kit | Champagne Twist

As I mentioned in my previous Clothkits review, I am new to the company and was excited to try their Big Birdie Skirt and matching bag and purse set.  The kit was beautifully presented, wrapped with a measuring tape ribbon, which is actually accurate!

Clothkits inches measuring tape ribbon | Champagne Twist

The kit consists of a large piece of fabric, on which is printed 6 skirt pieces – skirt front, 2 skirt back pieces, 3 facings – a zip, a spool of matching thread and an instruction leaflet.

Clothkits Big Birdie Skirt Kit | Champagne Twist

Clothkits Big Birdie Skirt Kit | Champagne Twist

The kit includes more than enough thread for the project, I overlocked all the edges of each of the 6 cut outs and still had plenty of thread left on the spool. A good quality zip is also provided, but you could swap this out for an invisible zip if you prefer.

clothkits big birdie skirt kit - 6 pieces | champagne twist

Overlocked edges Clothkits Big Birdie Skirt Kit | Champagne Twist

Instructions – pros and cons

The instructions are printed on a sheet of A4 sized paper, with a few helpful diagrams. In the most part they are clear to follow, but as the instructions say, I would strongly advise that you take a few minutes to read and reread them. There are a couple of minor typos, and the facings instructions were duplicated, but nothing of much concern.

There was 1 issue, the instructions didn’t make clear which size I should cut, but I happened to find details on the Clothkits website, with bust, waist and hip measurements for each size from 8 to 20. All well and good if you have internet access, not so much of you don’t.

There are separate instructions for lining the skirt. You have to call Clothkits for the information, which are then emailed to you within minutes. Nice to have the option, and the extra service is quick and easy, however, for those without ready internet access this could be a problem.

Pattern/Kit

As the kit doesn’t include a separate paper pattern, and I wanted to make a skirt lining, I traced the cut out pieces onto Swiss paper. My tracing will enable me to use the pattern for future projects, thus making the kit very cost effective. I also drafted in-seam pockets, but you could easily add patch pockets from the fabric remnants, if you wanted to add your own touches.

On me for some reason, the A-line design fits more like a straight skirt, but I still like the shape.

Tip – Do not discard the remnants. Clothkits have been very generous with the fabric they provide, with many of the left over pieces featuring printed motifs, many of which I used to supplement my Clothkits bag and purse set.

Value for money

At nearly £40, initially the kit seems expensive, but bear in mind that the fabric is baby corduroy, which features a lovely printed design by Jane Foster. Everything to make the basic skirt is included in the kit and there is extra fabric with printed motifs, if you wish to embellish your skirt further.

Construction

In all, it took about 2 hours from start to finish (not including the planned extras) to make the skirt.  I took my time and overlocked the edges, otherwise this skirt can easily be made in under an hour. For beginners, I think this is a lovely, quick and simple skirt, which is very attractive and fun to make.  For more experienced sewists, there is plenty of scope to add your own embellishments, especially with the remnant pieces of fabric.

I especially like the fact that I am able to make use of the left over pieces, which adds to the value of this kit. The customer support is very good, as is the product itself.

In marked contrast to the bag and purse kit, I really enjoyed making this skirt. I plan to add a few more embellishments, but for now here is the almost finished item.

Jane Foster Big Birdie Print A-Line skirt Clothkits | Champagne Twist
Back skirt view – Jane Foster Big Birdie Print A-Line skirt by Clothkits

CKits cover

4-star

 

 

 

 

 

Clothkits bag and purse kit review | Champagne Twist

Clothkits bag and purse set | Champagne Twist - champagnetwist.wordpress.com
Clothkits bag and purse set | Champagne Twist – champagnetwist.wordpress.com

 

I am new to the Clothkits phenomena, which I’m reliably informed was a huge thing back in the 70s and 80s. Clothkits were as the name suggests kits made up of everything you need to make a dress, skirt or doll, all in a kit, including fabric with the printed pattern ready to cut out, doing away with the need of a paper pattern. The system appealed to newbie crafters as well as sewing people who were time short.  After a hiatus, Clothkits were relaunched about 10 years ago, and this year seem to be making a strong impact for people who would like to start crafting.

Clothkits bag and purse set | Champagne Twist - champagnetwist.wordpress.com
Clothkits bag and purse set | Champagne Twist – champagnetwist.wordpress.com

I came across Clothkits after watching the Sewing Quarter, where the demoed a wonderful skirt kit.  Sadly by the time I got around to ordering, they has sold out.  Fortunately, a few days later the kit came back in stock together with a matching bag, which I immediately snapped up.

Yesterday, a week after ordering, both the kits arrived, and I immediately set to work, thinking the bag and purse kit would be the easiest and quickest, before embarking onto the skirt.

Upon opening the well presented package, I was surprised to see how small the printed sections were.  Where I was hoping for a large tote, the final piece was barely large enough to enclose a computer tablet. I add at this point that in my haste to order the bag before it sold out, I didn’t make a note of the size of the bag, and assumed it was the size of a shopper tote, but as you can see below, the Clothkits bag is considerably smaller.  The only picture on display on both the Clothkits website and the Sewing Quarter website show the kit all wrapped up, so you can’t gauge how big the finished bag will be, until you purchase the kit.

Source: sewing quarter.com

So already disappointed, I ventured on with the project, to discover that the rest of the contents where equally ungenerous when compared with the skirt kit. The thread reel was smaller than the one included with the skirt kit, the lining fabric was barely adequate for both the bag and purse, leaving little room for error.  I had the use the striped lining horizontally for the purse and vertically for the bag in order for it to fit, which is a pity as the 2 items won’t exactly match.

There was also little scope for pattern matching, but as this kit is aimed at beginners, and it was lining fabric hitch no one else would see, I could let that slide. I like the striped fabric, but for this kit, maybe a plain lining would have been more suitable.

Clothkits bag and purse set | Champagne Twist - champagnetwist.wordpress.com
Clothkits bag and purse set | Champagne Twist – champagnetwist.wordpress.com

From the instructions, depending on pot luck apparently, the kit includes either webbing, printed straps, or as in my case, extra cord fabric which you cut out yourself. For a supposedly pre printed kit, I thought it was rather odd I had to work out how to cut out the bag straps, while the main body of the bag and purse was printed with cut out lines.  As an introduction to Clothkits, I found this more than a little disappointing.

Most of the instructions were easy to follow, although I’m not sure if that would have been the case if I was an absolute beginner.

Adjustments:

  • From the leftover material from the skirt kit, I made inner pockets for both the bag and purse.

    Clothkits bag and purse set | Champagne Twist - champagnetwist.wordpress.com
    Clothkits bag and purse set | Champagne Twist
  • I will purchase some webbing to make a longer crossover body strap, as the handles I was supposed to make from the ‘left over’ fabric as instructed, were far too small.
  • I added a piece of the ribbon used to tie up the kit, to the zip pull to create a pull tag.

Clothkits bag and purse set | Champagne Twist - zip pull

  • I attached the inner lining of the purse, by sewing it by hand. I used a natural coloured thread, which matched the lining fabric for a better finish. I didn’t like how the red thread showed up on the inner white and black striped lining fabric.
  • I will make a button closure for the bag, using the leftover scraps from the skirt kit. Details will be posted as soon as the webbing arrives and I have completed the bag.

In short, had I not purchased the skirt kit, I wouldn’t be able to make the bag work for me at all. For £19.95 plus £2.95 p&p, I don’t think this is good value for money, as the bag is far too small to be useful for an adult, unless you have the skills and knowledge to make it your own. I still have to purchase webbing, as cord fabric handles I don’t think will give a nice finish to a bag of this type. This should have been a quick project, but it will take me a couple of days waiting for extra supplies, for a kit that I think should have included webbing in the first place.

Clothkits bag and purse set | Champagne Twist - champagnetwist.wordpress.com
Clothkits bag and purse set | Champagne Twist – champagnetwist.wordpress.com

The purse is the one saving grace for this kit, but it’s not enough to save this product. If I was a starter, this kit would have discouraged me from buying any more Clothkits. In short, very disappointing, and in marked contrast the to skirt kit, I regret purchasing this bag and purse set.

1-star

Yes, the rating is harsh, but when compared with similar products, including other kits from the Clothkits range, this particular one just doesn’t make the grade. I’m glad to say that I’ve started the Clothkits skirt kit, and so far I’m very impressed with the product and can’t wait to finish it, and start wearing it.

I will post my full review of the Clothkits skirt kit on Thursday, so please stay tuned for that. Don’t forget to subscribe to keep updated on all things new on Champagne Twist.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

How to make a mini travel sewing kit

spring clean - march

As part of this month’s Spring Clean theme, I am posting related articles to help with every day tasks and organisation. Today’s post is about creating a mini travel sewing kit for sartorial emergencies.

Whether you sew or not, it’s a good idea to carry a sewing kit in case you lose a button or a hem unravels. Here’s how I made my mine:

  1. 3 needles, 2 ready threaded
  2. small scissors or snips
  3. spare shirt buttons
  4. thread bobbin, with about 5 different coloured threads
  5. safety pins, in various sizes

Plus, a small container to hold the above items, such as an old sweet tin.

mini travel sewing kit | champagne twist

Needles –

sewing needles | champagne twist - champagnetwist.wordpress.com

Place 3 needles on a small fabric scrap. Thread 2 with white and black threads, leaving one spare. This will help save time in case you’re in a hurry.

 

Small scissors –

scissors | champagne twist - champagnetwist.wordpress.com

If you have one from last year’s Christmas cracker, this is where it becomes useful. If not, raid your sewing kit or consider purchasing a pair.

Spare buttons –

white shirt buttons | champagne twist - champagnetwist.wordpress.com

You could make a small paper envelope to store spare buttons, but I just usually keep 2 or 3 loose in the tin.

Thread bobbin –

thread bobbin card | champagne twist - champagnetwist.wordpress.com

Wrap different coloured threads around a small piece of cardboard. The colours I use reflect the colour of the clothes I usually wear. Adapt the thread colours according to your daily wardrobe.  Add extra black and white thread, as these tend to be the most useful.

Safety pins –

safety pins | champagne twist - champagnetwist.wordpress.com

These are quick to use, if you don’t have time to do a temporary repair. I used a piece of ribbon to store my pins together, but you could use a small envelope, pin them on a fabric scrap or simply pin them together.

 

 

mini travel sewing kit | champagne twist - champagnetwist.wordpress.com

Add the above 5 items in a box or tin, place in your every day travel bag*, and you will never be caught with a lost button or unraveled hem again.

*Note, if you’re travelling by air, chances are you will not be permitted to fly with sharp objects such as scissors. Check with your carrier before you add your sewing kit to your hand luggage.

mini travel sewing kit | champagne twist - champagnetwist.wordpress.com

I hope you found this article useful, please comment below and add your suggestions. Do you carry a sewing kit? What’s in yours?

Don’t forget to subscribe for more tips and tricks. Thanks for reading.