Extreme Chocolate Death

You may recall a while back I made the ‘Death by Chocolate Cake‘ from Mary Berry’s ‘Simple Cakes’ book (and then I made it a few more times…), and it felt aptly named. However, I would argue there is a contender for the the title as this simply named Chocolate Gateau (from the ‘Cook and Enjoy Chocolate’ book I purchased recently) attests.

Incorporating chocolate within the sponge, the filling and the icing, as well as the decoration, it is a diabetic nightmare.


I thought the process was fairly straightforward, although there is a degree of waiting between steps for icing to cool/set, and I added some icing sugar to the frosting mix as it was a bit too runny. This may be because I used chocolate without enough cocoa solids though. My favourite bit is the filling – white chocolate and double cream = yum!

Overall, it worked out fine and was tasty but I would suggest the sponge was a little too dense for my liking. When I think ‘gateau’ I think ‘light’ (even though I know it really just means ‘cake’!) so it wasn’t quite what I had expected.

This cake was decidedly more-ish and even the neighbour whom I hand-delivered a slice to said she ate it all in one go! (She’s a tiny, fragile, skinny lady so I thought she needed the calories!)


Top tip: Enjoy chilled the first few days but then heat for 30 seconds in the microwave as the week moves on – the melted filling is lovely!

Top Tip 2: Share with friends! It’s waaaaay too much to enjoy simply between two! 😉


The Ultimate Project

Last month I’m delighted to say my partner of four and a half years got down on bended knee and gave me a rock to treasure forever. Eek! 😍

(Excuse my wonky fingers and blunt nails. And yes, that’s Loch Lomond for the keen-eyed amongst you – romantic setting, right?!)

And so I now have license to plan the Ultimate Project: my wedding dress.

There’s no date set yet and it may be a while off but it’s impossible not to get thinking and thinking I have! Seriously, I couldn’t sleep one night because ‘my’ dress came to me all of a sudden and I had to get up and draw it (I’m no artist) so I could get to sleep!

Unfortunately – and here’s the bummer – I’m not going to be able to share any details with you! The only person whom I plan on letting into the beautiful fabric fold is my partner (as how on earth can one sew a gown secretly in a shared two-up two-down terrace?!) – and maybe my MoH to get a female perspective.

However, having said that, I will be practising many techniques over the coming months so I might be able to let you know how some of those go!

Now for the nosy part… Have you sewn a wedding dress? (Your own or someone else’s) What techniques/skills did you have to learn or brush up on? Any words of wisdom to share (besides ‘make a toile, make a toile, make a toile!’). And any good fabric suppliers I should consider?

Hit me with your knowledge!

Can’t Tan Kaftan

I’ve been meaning to make holiday clothes for my forthcoming trip to Sri Lanka since it was booked (much earlier this year!) and although I know exactly what I want, nothing has materialised.

Being a true English Rose, even a hint of sun can burn me so I’ve planned everything with skin sun avoidance in mind. (Before you ask, I’m going to Sri Lanka because my sister lives there – I’m not just some crazy sun-phobic looking to test her durability!) I’ve planned maxi dresses and thin tops, big hats (shop bought) and soft cottony shorts. And, for covering up after swimming, kaftans. I’m not normally a kaftan kinda lady but I am nearly 30 so sense is overtaking style. 😉

Prima magazine had a basic kaftan pattern enclosed with its August issue this year so I chopped it out on Saturday evening and had the finished product by Sunday afternoon – win!

I used a cotton fabric I bought online which was much brighter (insert *gaudier* here) than I’d expected so I didn’t have any other use for it. It’s meant to be a peacock print but the blue and white circles stand out more than the feathers… I figured kaftans, by virtue of being the only item one is wearing besides a bikini, can be bright because they don’t have to match anything. Liking my logic?!

And so the Can’t Tan Kaftan was born! Pair with Factor 50 sun cream, large brimmed hat and shade for the ultimate English Rose/Strawberry Blonde experience! 😅

I added the longer hemline at the back ‘just ’cause’ and lengthened the side split because my original cut was too tight across the thighs… Should really know by now I’m a pear and not an hourglass!

Decided on a blind hem for the bottom and top stitched the neckline. Also added slits on the sleeves because I figured that’s more Kaftan-ish than straight sleeves. I didn’t follow the instructions because the assembly was easy enough and I wanted to make the above changes. The front falls to mid-thigh, which was a lucky coincidence as I’m not the best at being accurate with hems.

I have no idea if I like this garment or not. One minute I’m embarrassed by it and the next I’m like “Look at me, so carefree and beachy with my long hair and bright kaftan!” However, with the exception of the Wedding Guest Dress, I tend to feel this way about all my makes.

Right, better move on to clothes I can actually wear in polite company now. Watch this space! 🙃

Agnes Arrives

No, not the much-coveted Tilly and The Buttons pattern – another Agnes; my new Adjustaform 8-Part Leg Form model!


I’ve been eyeing up this version for a while because the fact you can fit trousers/shorts to it appealed to me, so it’s a little more luxurious than a standard model and thus a little more expensive, but I found the cheapest retailer selling her for £109 (Sewing Machine Sales, if you’re interested, with free P&P) rather than the £159 some places charge.

I opted for Version A as she meets my measurements and she arrived the next day by courier, so I didn’t have long to wait to create ‘the not-so-mini’ me!

I’m an awkward 35-31-42 at the moment, so adjusting the hips but barely touching the bust was a bit of a shock! However, I realised it’s easier to put a stuffed bra of mine (32E) on her and do a 32 inch ‘under’ bust because the shape of the cup affects where I put darts and whatnot. Maybe this isn’t what you’re meant to do but it seems to work so far… If nothing else, it’s quite comical to look at!

I think she has broader shoulders than me so I need to remember this when adding sleeves to anything. The main bonus is I can now work on maxi dresses without tripping over all the skirt fabric.

Thank goodness we have organised more storage in the sewing room (aka guest room) so there’s some floor space for her. It’s a snug room now made even snugger but another way of looking at it is everything is close to hand! We’ve added Ikea shelving with boxes above the day bed and a pegboard for hanging sewing tools on, so it’s less cluttered.

Now I’m trying to catalogue all my patterns by garment type and then list the contents of each folder, which could take forever…



Start of a bodice toile for a Burda Magazine maxi dress

Pack Up Your Troubles

After struggling to get back into the right frame of mind for sewing after completing The Wedding Guest Dress, I opted to try out my bag-making skills for a change and, hopefully, a rather easy project. I knew the kind of bag I wanted to make – basically, one with lots of pockets because that’s my favourite type of bag – and I knew what fabric I was going to use (some blue and white striped cotton pique I’d originally bought to make Karl a polo shirt but then realised it was too heavy).

I flicked through some back issues of Love Sewing magazine and found a design for a Cath Kidson-inspired bag that featured tons of pockets. Below is a montage of the projects in that issue (Issue 27) and the bag is the second photo in from the left:


(Apologies that I couldn’t find a better photo of it but I couldn’t be asked to try to find my physical copy of the issue again just for the sake of this post!)

As usual, I started off following the pattern and then got side-tracked and did my own thing. I also put it off for a long time before picking it back up again. That was kind of a problem because I forgot which pieces I’d cut out… And I was so excited to use my overlocker to make impenetrable seams that I started that part too early and had to unpick/snip a load.

Because I’ve used cotton and not oilcloth like the pattern suggests, my bag is a lot floppier than the original but I knew this would be the case and I’m fine with it. The aim was to make a very relaxed, beach-ready bag that could be filled to the brim with all the lazing-on-the-beach essentials. Never-mind that I live practically at the centre of England and my nearest beach is about 100 miles away…

Oh well, at least it’s easy to grab for those spur-of-the-moment-100-mile-car-journeys!


I actually reduced the number of pockets (I know, insane, right?) because I wasn’t sure the bag would balance very well otherwise so I just kept the three along the front and then one inside.

I love the pink straps. The colour combo is very ‘Jack Wills’, which, living as I did for so long in very preppy-dressed Exeter, is hardly a surprise. (Seriously, that city’s population looks as though JW threw up on it).


But what I have that JW doesn’t is some cute penguin cotton for the lining! 🙂


I added the customary Creative Little Cwtch label on the inside and, for a little bit of fun, sewed on a motif I bought from My Fabrics in their sale, which fits the beachy/nautical theme!

It’s not a perfect sew in any sense of the word – some of my top-stitching is very wonky and just in ‘normal’ thread rather than anything thicker – but it’s good to finally finish a project and if it’s only going to get fictitious sand in it why waste tons of time on it?!

Montage time…



(Blue and white cotton pique fabric from Regency Rags; Pink cotton webbing from HaberCrafts; Can’t remember where I got the penguin cotton fabric from – sorry.)

I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconut (Macaroons)!

Okay, so I’ve been very absent online recently. And that’s due to having misplaced my ‘sewing mojo’ somewhere; handsome reward offered for its safe return. It’s mostly been too hot to bake and, although I have been crocheting, what I’m currently making is a present for someone and if I share any details about it they will guess straight away!

Bearing the weather in mind, I opted to make a quick, simple recipe yesterday, courtesy of the Silverspoon caster sugar packet:

I tasted coconut macaroons well before I ever had French ones (both are delicious so, no, I’m not going to choose between them) and I’ve always loved the texture of desiccated coconut. When I saw how ‘no frills’ this recipe was I reckoned it was worth sticking on my fridge for a time when I wanted to bake but not in a hurricane-has-swept-through-the-kitchen kind of way.

Seriously, the trickiest bit about this recipe was probably separating the eggs. Or trying not to use all the melted chocolate up on dipping strawberries (yum!) whilst waiting for the macaroons to bake.

I probably was a little overly cautious about the length of time I baked them; they could perhaps have done with being a little more ‘golden’ than they are. If you’ve ever seen my fried eggs you’ll know I’m not adverse to a bit of under-cooked egg white…

Oh, and I didn’t add the lime zest, by the way. It seemed a bit unnecessary and I didn’t have any so… *insert shoulder shrug and ‘meh’ sound*

They taste rather delicious! 😀

A Beautiful Welsh Summer Wedding

On Thursday I watched one of my best friends of eight years marry her childhood sweetheart in a beautiful Welsh wedding in the shadows of the Brecon Beacons. She looked stunning in her sweeping, lace gown which perfectly complimented her petite figure and warm tan. But most beautiful of all was her beaming smile, which I don’t think left her face all day! 😀

It’s not for me to post photos of someone else’s wedding online for all to see so you’ll just have to take my word for it that it was beautiful. 🙂 But I am able to share with you a few photos of my finished Wedding Guest Dress, which I finished in the nick of time!

As a recap, I used New Look 6401 as a base pattern but I made some adjustments to suit my style and tastes. First, I adjusted the bodice to ensure a better fit on my figure, and I decided the back would meet at a higher point than the original pattern. The long, drapey ties for the bow at the back were lengthened further and a ‘peek-a-boo’ back was added towards the final stages as I struggled to get the fit to work otherwise. I added a narrow band under the bust to connect it to the skirt rather than attaching the skirt directly to the bodice as, again, I felt it complimented my shape more. I used a very narrow hem to ensure the gown was floor-length at the front and had a short train at the back (which was repeatedly trodden on by other guests but I loved it so it was worth the hassle!). I also added a side-seam split on the left-hand side to ensure there was plenty of movement for dancing! I managed to avoid any fastenings whatsoever so I was pleased!

So, here it is! 🙂

Dress front Dress front2

And now for the back…


I don’t think it’s quite as clear in these photos as in reality how the back looks as the bow had dropped a bit – probably because I’d been seated beforehand. I really didn’t think that part through, I realised; I had to sit against a knot for the entire day!! 😉 Hopefully, you can just see that there’s a band of fabric across the bra-line (for the precise reason of hiding a normal bra so I didn’t have to wear an uncomfortable ‘invisible’ one all day!) and then there’s a ‘peek-a-boo’ gap, which I added when I had trouble with the fit of the waistband.

The night before the wedding I was holidaying with family in North Wales and so I was able to model my dress to my Grandma. Here reaction was priceless and so meaningful to me! She proudly paraded me to another caravan (yes – I strutted around a caravan park in this get-up, which led to a few funny looks!) to show some other family members. It was a relief as I was nervous by this point that I’d totally misjudged the dress and would look like a complete idiot at the wedding and be quite clearly the guest who had made her own outfit. Crippling self-doubt is a very common problem for me.


I had the cutest shoes from Debenhams to wear with the dress, which were a lucky find in a sale a couple of days before. I’d also had Shellac nails done at a salon as my nails are always painfully ugly so what better way to compliment them than with a 10-minute clutch bag make?! Basically, I looked at clutches but couldn’t find one I liked so I envisioned making one. Needless to say I left it too late in the day to make my ideal bag so I tried to think outside the box… I grabbed a cushion cover from my car that had been waiting to go to a charity shop for weeks and quickly whipped up a perfect-sized sparkly clutch! One press stud and a bit of cardboard (for rigidity) later and hey presto! What do you think?