An Unusual Penge Garden

|I have lived in London for over ten years now and have come across many a front garden, from the scruffy and unloved to those with beautiful tiled and box edged paths. This is a completely different type of garden.

This little garden in Penge is a feast for the eyes with its incredible array of exotic and succulent plants.

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The owner was kind enough to speak to me about his collection which he has curated from specialist shows and bought from nurseries and online shops.

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There are lots of amazing varieties I’ve never seen before, such as this beautiful flowering plant.

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This house is in a beautiful area of Penge. It’s a lovely area for a walk to end with a cup of tea and cake at Alexandra Nurseries.

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It was inspirational to see someone’s passion for their collection and that they were able to display it so beautifully in a small space.

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Have you come across any beautiful, unusual private gardens?

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In My Garden

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The light in the garden in late afternoon was beautiful yesterday.

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These roses surprised me, we’ve lived in the house for over a year and I didn’t see any of these last year. They are beautiful, huge pillowy flowers with a beautiful scent.

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Perennial herbs – sage, chives, oregano and rosemary survived the winter and are flourishing again.

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This chard was also planted last year. I put a couple in the flower bed and the rest in the vegetable raised beds. They are pretty much the only vegetables that survived the winter, we did have a broccoli but it flowered before it grew much, as well as lots of purslane which no one was very interested in eating. We also had some of the leek today. garden3

I’m so pleased with the lupins. I have tried to grow these for years without success, mostly due to slugs. These were planted last year along with aquilegia, echinacea and verbena bonariensis which have all grown very well this year. I’d love to fill the bed with perennials and shrubs so its a little or no work garden. garden1

The colour is very striking, although I’m not sure it seems perfectly natural. It’s almost a royal blue.

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I’ve also started hardening off the seedlings (all ten trays!) but not everything looks ready to go out yet. Some plants don’t seem to have grown much in the last few weeks, but we haven’t had much sun really.

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I planted Little Leprechaun lettuce and Descartes from Sarah Raven, as they looked very pretty (as with everything from Sarah Raven!). There s also sweetcorn, squash, courgettes, cucumber, artichokes and various herbs. I also have seedlings for cut flowers – cosmos, cerinthe, sunflowers, zinnias, ammi majus, to name a few. There are just a few sweetpea plants (most didn’t germinate) which is a shame as I love them.

There’s plenty of work for me to do in the garden, and I am also trying to get our allotment in some sort of shape for beans and the big veg like squash. Are you growing your own plants from seed this year?

Sunday Thoughts

I’ve been doing some thinking about the blog and have made a few changes, including the theme which some may have noticed. I’ve also decided to add some more lifestyle and personal posts which I hope you will all like.

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One thing I’d like to do is to have a regular post to add some thoughts about how the week has gone, and interesting things that have caught my attention, such as great blog posts, progress in the garden, places I’ve been to or would like to visit or recipes I’ve tried. It will also help me to be able to look back on them all.

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We made two batches of scones this weekend, which the two younger children enjoyed helping with. I used the BBC Good Food recipe, which is reliable and straightforward.

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More crumbs ended up on the floor than in the bowl with this little one’s help, so he was dispatched to his dad after a little while!

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All three children love helping with baking, and it’s something we don’t do enough. Pancakes are made most weekends here but not quite as much cake as we’d all like!

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A bit wobbly round the edges, but delicious all the same.

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Good things this week:

Me Made May 2017 is underway, and I’ve managed to wear Me Made clothes most of the week! I realised I need more skirts and trousers to have a proper handmade wardrobe, as I haven’t made any of those so far.

My sister stayed with me for a few days as she’s come from abroad for a month or so. I got to babysit my adorable nephew while she went out to the theatre, he was a bit sad without his mum but at least let me give him some cuddles. We also went fabric shopping in Lewisham.

I had an article published on Amaliah.com on Fashion Revolution and making my own clothes. Please have a read and a look at the rest of the site which is full of great articles and fashion inspiration.

We did a bit more work on painting our fitted shelves and wardrobes, we might even finish one set by next week!

 

 

 

Liberty Painted Portrait Dress

It’s been a little while since I made this dress but it has a springy palette so provided the weather improves, it should get some wear soon!

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This dress is made entirely in Liberty Tana lawn. The main fabric is Tuesday Trees, which was designed by Lauren Child (the creator of Charlie and Lola). It’s a pretty print with a hint of colour, just enough to complement the patchwork panel.

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The pattern is the Painted Portrait Dress by Anna Maria Horner. I purchased both the pattern and fabric quite a few years ago and it is wonderful to actually see them made up into something wearable finally.

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I used a variety of prints to make up the panel, which was actually very easy to sew. I found it a bit tricky to attach the side panels to the main bodice and had to reduce a bit of the fullness to get it to fit in. The fitting is still fine, I made a size Small.

 

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My only regret is not making the sleeves full length, as it would be much more practical for me in the summer.  I even considered remaking the sleeves but didn’t want to unpick all my stitching and overlocking. This may be an option still if it annoys me enough! But overall I’m very happy with the style and fabric combination, it’s something that would catch my eye if I saw it in the shops and it is comfortable and light to wear (once the weather cheers up!)

 

 

Waterfall Raglan Dress and Top

I managed to send off both my giveaway packages this week, thanks to everyone who took part on Instagram. I made this patchwork pouch out of a stack of my favourite Anna Maria Horner prints using the In Color Order Lined Drawstring Bag tutorial . It took a bit of time as I haven’t done any patchwork in a long time but I really enjoyed the process and love the result.

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I used a pink and red striped Tula Pink print for the top of the bag which I think complements the colours nicely. I hope its new owner enjoys using it, and I’m thinking of making another one for myself.

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I’ve been meaning to share this top for a little while, its the Waterfall Raglan by Chalk and Notch patterns. I made both the top and dress versions for my daughter.

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I used a beautiful Art Gallery Fabrics knit for this. The fabric is from the Fleet and Flourish collection  by Maureen Cracknell and is called Swifting Flora Fond.

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I cut a size 5 for my daughter and it fits her well with some room to grow (she is just over 4 but quite tall).

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The loose style of the top looks great over trousers. She doesn’t have many tops at the moment so I am planning to make a few more using this pattern.

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I made the dress using a jersey which is overlaid with a cream corded lace which I bought from Simply Fabrics in Brixton.

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At first I thought the fabric would be fine to use as it has a jersey base but when I did the stretch test I found that it only had about 20% stretch due to the lace which is bonded on to the jersey. When I initially sewed the sleeves they were a bit tight so I unpicked and sewed them again using a 1/4 inch seam instead, which gave a bit of extra room.

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I also  used a thinner fabric to make the facing for the neckline and turned that inwards which made the neckhole a bit bigger. waterfall3

It’s a great dress for twirling in and the fabric makes it special. I also bought some velvet as I have seen some beautiful velvet versions online too.

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Fleur and Dot Dress

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A quick post about my daughter’s birthday dress! I’ve been making quicker than I can blog recently so I’m going to post a few projects with less waffle. This is made using the Fleur and Dot Peter Pan Collar dress pattern (it’s not quite finished in the above photo!).

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I bought this gorgeous fabric as soon as it came out last year. It’s from the Lavish fabric range by Katarina Roccella. It also comes in a beautiful white and pink colourway. I made a small change to the finishing of the cuffs as I wasn’t happy with having the overlocked edge showing, so I turned the edges over twice for a neater edge instead.

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I cut a size 5 and my daughter just turned 4. She is tall for her age so although it’s a little bit big now I’m happy she’ll get some decent wear out of it. The pattern was straightforward with only a few pieces to cut (bodice, collar, sleeves). The measurements were provided for the skirt. I was a bit unhappy about the very small age ranges provided for a not inexpensive pattern. This was a preschool pattern which came with sizes 4,5 and 6. Infant size and Youth are available separately. I don’t plan to repurchase the Youth size but will probably look for a similar pattern with a wider age range.

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I finally bought a tool for adding the popper fasteners which is a huge improvement to hammering them in with the little plastic tool that’s provided. I did put the buttons in the wrong way round at first though! Luckily my husband was on hand to get them out but I don’t recommend doing this!

Altogether it was a fairly quick sew. I learned a few new skills and am less intimidated by press studs!

10 Hijab Friendly Sewing Patterns


As a hijab wearing dressmaker, I look out for patterns that are easy to adapt to my requirements. It’s actually quite easy to alter the length of most patterns (sleeves and hemlines) so if I really like a pattern I will still buy it and see if I can make some changes, but this extra step can be daunting if you’re a complete beginner. You can also layer clothes of course and this can work really well for dresses and tops with short sleeves etc. I like having some clothes I can wear at home (when not in hijab) without paying a  high street price for something I won’t wear all the time.

I’ve put together a selection of patterns which can be adapted for a versatile modest wardrobe. You can click on the link in the title for a downloadable PDF pattern, paper patterns are also available for some of these patterns.

Grainline Farrow Dress 

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This is a beautiful dress pattern with long sleeves and simple lines. It would be easy to adapt into a long dress but also looks great with slim leg trousers. I am planning to make one in a Liberty lawn.

Chalk and Notch Waterfall Raglan 

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I’m really looking forward to making this versatile pattern as it can be made as a dress or a top and there are some great pattern hacks. The swingy shape means it is loose fitting on the body but still fits neatly around the shoulders and arms.

Sew Over It Lola Coat (part of City Break capsule collection)

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This is a beautifully draping coat which would be a good cover up in Spring/Summer. The fabric could be a challenge to work with but the end result is stunning.

Grainline Driftless Cardigan 

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I have already made one of these and am planning at least one more. It can be made in a heavy or fine gauge knit to suit the season, and is a great layering piece.

Named Inari Dress 

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I really liked the shape of this dress before but the long sleeve bonus pattern piece makes it even more versatile. It is a good shape to wear with trousers as it is not fussy and there is no shaping at the waist (which can look odd with trousers).

Sew Over It Nancy Dress

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The Nancy Dress is a simple loose fit Jersey dress with panels, which would make a useful tunic dress over jeans or trousers.

Sew Over It Ultimate Shift Dress

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I’ve made this dress once already and I’m sure a few more dresses and tops will be made with this pattern. It’s great for statement colours and prints which don’t need a lot of fussy design details. It’s a good beginner pattern and a quick to sew staple for more experienced sewists.

Named Kielo Dress

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I love this pattern as its elegant and has a beautiful shape. It does have a split at the back but this could be altered or I would maybe just wear leggings underneath. It also comes with a free long sleeve pattern addition that can be downloaded separately.

 

Liesl & Co Everyday Skirt 

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This is a good basic skirt pattern which is simple to sew up. I have plans to make at least two maxi length versions before Me Made May.

Colette Moneta Dress

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Having just taken part in the Moneta Party, I had to include this pattern as its very versatile and a great pattern for jersey.

A few of these should find their way into my wardrobe before Me Made May, which I’m planning to join in with. Do you have any sewing patterns you’d recommend for a modest wardrobe?