Christmas Table Setting

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Just a squeezing in a short post (!) on my idea for a table setting for Christmas lunch or dinner. I have stuck with red just because our tree is decorated in red and silver baubles and my table wreath as well as my door wreath are also in red. So I didn’t want to throw something completely radical like turquoise into the mix – even though I love teal/turquoise for Christmas in hot and sunny Australia. Maybe next year again…

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I bought some gorgeous red roses, pink lilies, green molucca and white bouvardia from the local fruit and veggie store and put them into my brown pharmacy bottles that I use as vases. I have four of them so one bunch of each flower was enough to fill them up. As a base, I used the beautiful natural linen tablecloth that my sister brought back for me from Poland. They still make traditional table linens in Poland at very reasonable prices and even large sizes, which can be hard to find.DSC_1700

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For Christmas and other special occasions I use our white bone china crockery and silver cutlery to give the whole table setting a bit of shine. I have used the same candles as on the table wreath and put them in some glitzy votives to add even more sparkle. Then I added some stars and baubles for a christmasy effect. To tie the napkins together, I have some paper flowers that I made out of white card paper. I put glitter on them and a thin ribbon through slits in the flowers to be able to tie them around the napkins. They have been used so many times and are still in great condition!

Only one day til Christmas Day to go now! In our time zone anyway!

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Styling: crockery: Dibbern Germany white bone china with platinum edge, cutlery: BY Christofle, votives: Bed, Bath and Table, brown pharmacy bottles: Chef’s Hat, South Melbourne, stars and mini baubles: bought in Germany, napkins: paper napkins from supermarket, champagne glasses: Marc Aurel, water glasses: Rosenthal

 

 

The Reversible and The Remnant Dress

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Not too long ago I said that I would do a post on using remnant fabric. One of my favourite summer dresses is made of some colourful remnant pieces. I found this beautiful citrus print cotton at Spotlight in the quilting section while passing through and when I had made the dress that I intended to, there were still some small bits left over. I loved the colours and print so much, that I thought I would use every scrap of it for some other garment.

I had seen a reversible dress somewhere and thought I had to make one for myself. Two in one – what a great idea! Especially when travelling with limited space for clothes. For the one side, I used the citrus print combined with white linen from Lincraft for a summer tent dress. I used the same pattern that I had reworked for the French themed dress by copying it, cutting the front and the back into three pieces and adding the seams. Both front and back have the same cut.

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Then for the other side, I wanted a geometric colour blocked pattern, so I used a beautiful orange linen I found at Lincraft for an extremely good price (!) and the same white linen that was used with the citrus print to make an off-centre pattern on the dress. Again, the same pattern was cut up and fiddled around with. The back of the orange and white dress hasn’t got the white linen going down vertically on it because I wanted the front to be different to the back. Like I said, I have used this one pattern for at least 6 dresses! Each one has a very different look due to the use of fabric and/or cut.

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When each side was complete, sewing them together was easy because there is no zip and the dress is wide enough to simply slip on over your head. I love wearing this dress because it is made of natural fabric and is very accommodating, especially when I have had too much to eat! DSC_1561

The idea for the remnant dress came from a picture I saw in a fashion magazine. Unfortunately I can’t recall who it was by. I bought some thick cotton lace from one of my favourite fabric stores in Mentone that no longer exists😦. Then I got a dress out of my wardrobe in a non-stretch fabric that fits me well and traced around it, leaving enough of an edge for seams and keeping the front and back in one piece each, including the sleeves. I cut the dress out so that the bottom edge would not need to be hemmed (and hoping it would not be too short), as it was the edge of the lace fabric. The whole project was pretty risky without using a real pattern, as I had no idea whether the fit would be good or bad, but sometimes I do crazy things!

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I used a white cotton sateen to line the dress front and back, making the front higher than the back to distinguish them from eachother and cover up a strapless bra. I didn’t want to put a zip in, so it had to be wide enough to slip on over my head. For the neck part, I decided to go with a boat neck cut.

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The orange linen and the citrus print cotton were cut into strips of varying width and sewn onto the lace, while keeping them in straight lines on the lace pattern. I don’t know why, but despite doing all that, it was not easy to match up the strips on each side when putting the dress together. To finish it off, I edged the sleeves in the orange linen because the edges were raw and I couldn’t hem them any other way.

I would have liked the dress to be a little longer, but on the whole, it turned out well and I love it. However, it does take a bit of wriggling around to take off without a zip!

If you have some beautiful fabric remnants there is always something you can use them for, no matter how small they are. Maybe you can challenge yourself to make a garment using remnant fabric and see what you come up with!

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Styling: gold ring: Lovisa, emerald and silver ring: Lovisa, white and silver sandals: Nine West, orange and green stone thongs: Nine West, green thongs: Apart (German fashion label), sunglasses: Margot by Tom Ford

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells…

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Introducing my first post in the category Stylish Settings! In this segment, I will be posting on handmade things, styling or decorations around the home.

After having lived in Germany for over a decade and having experienced Christmas many times in another culture, I thought I would share one of the German Christmas traditions with you! In Europe when it gets cold and dark in winter, Christmas is an absolute highlight and I always ended up making lots of decorations for the cosy season. One of my favourite decorations was the wreath with four candles on it. Tradition says that you light the first candle four weeks before Christmas, two candles three weeks before Christmas, three candles two weeks before Christmas and all four a week before and during Christmas.

We always enjoyed lighting the candles, drinking a hot tea and nibbling on gingerbread biscuits and Christmas Stollen (you can buy gingerbread biscuits and Stollen at Aldi these days!) Having said all that, I didn’t always stick to the tradition to Hubby’s disappointment and usually lit all four of the candles at the same time – just because it looked nicer!

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To make my wreath, I have used a straw one that I brought in from Germany (you could also use a styrofoam one) as a base and got lots of christmas tree cuttings where I buy our tree (all free!). The tree cuttings will need to be precut to similar lengths and try to use only the end bits of the branches, as they have the nice bushy ends.  You will need a pair of wire cutters, garden scissors and some green wire which camouflages best. Start by fixing the wire underneath the wreath. Then begin to bundle the tree cuttings close together so as not to see the wreath underneath, while winding the wire around them at the same time. This is the bit where three or four hands come in handy! Keep going until the wreath is covered all the way around and then cut the wire using a wire cutter and twist the end around the other wire bits to secure it underneath. Once it is finished, pull out some of the needles here and there from under the wire so that it looks a little fluffy and not flat.

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This year, I decided on a traditional red colour scheme, bought the matching candles and got out my box with Christmas decoration bits and pieces and started rummaging around to see what I could come up with to decorate the wreath. I love red any time of the year but I have also made wreaths using orange candles and blue ones too and think any colour goes. It really depends on your taste and whether you want to make your wreath match the rest of your decor or just let it stand out on its own.

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The candles sit on metal plates that have a long needle going through them. I haven’t seen these in Australia and you would probably need to buy them online from overseas. I just keep reusing mine. The long end goes into the wreath and the other shorter end into the candle. I have fastened the glass baubles and stars using short cut wires that are twisted around the baubles and stars and then pressed into the wreath. There are also silver glittery twigs that are stuck into the wreath. The candles are decorated with hand made velvet bows that are fastened around each candle using silver beads on a wire. Finally, the whole wreath sits on a huge red metal plate that I always use for my Xmas wreaths because no other plate is large enough! Just a little note: due to the size of the candles, they can be a little wobbly on the plates despite the needles holding them in place, so you have to be careful when they are alight that they are not left burning without anyone around, as the wreath dries out relatively quickly and could become a bonfire!

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The other wreath I love to make is the door wreath. It always looks nice and welcoming hanging on the door during the Christmas period. I made a few hearts using felt and hand stitching different motifs on each. Then I filled each heart with dacron and stitched them around the edges with the sewing machine. I made the sign using plywood from the hardware store, painted it and then cut out the “MERRY CHRISTMAS” in plain white paper, stuck it onto the wood and sprayed hair spray on it to give it a bit of shine and hopefully keep the letters in place. Don’t ask me how I came up with that idea… Some kind of varnish would have been better but I didn’t have any so I improvised like I often do… Hair spray is a laquer/varnish isn’t it??

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The hearts, the sign and the other decorations are fixed to the wreath with short cut wires so that they stay in place. The rest of the felt decorations (reindeers, stars and stocking) are purchased ones.

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I hope I have inspired you to make some decorations of your own and wish you happy shopping and not too much stress in your preparations leading up to Christmas Day!

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Le Ballon Bleu Blanc Rouge

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This make is a personal homage to my French friends in the wake of recent events. This dress has been on my to-do list for a long time. I just wasn’t sure of the combinations I wanted to use for the colour blocking and was tossing up between red, white and blue, OR orange, white and blue, OR turquoise, green and white. I was telling my other half about my ideas and said I didn’t necessarily want to do the classic colour mix of red, white and blue. But he said why not? And then I said, do you know what….? One idea led to another and I thought yes, let’s do a French theme and show some solidarity to our French friends at this time.

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Issey Miyake Pattern 1563   Issey Miyake 1563 Pattern

I didn’t have a pattern for this dress in exactly this cut, but there was an Issey Miyake pattern that I had been eyeing for a while with its colour blocking. Unfortunately it’s selling on Ebay and Etsy for around $120! I couldn’t justify that price considering how easy it was to make up the pattern myself using one I already had.

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This is a tent shaped dress pattern that I have used on numerous occasions for other dresses in the past. So I traced it onto some tissue paper along with the colour blocked bits after consulting some Issey Miyake pattern pictures online. Thank goodness for Zara and co. wrapping purchases in tissue paper! It saved me sticking lots of smaller newspaper sheets together to trace the pattern onto and is thin enough to fold away into the same envelope with the original pattern!

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In my good old trustworthy stash, I had some beautiful ponte knit in red from Spotlight, in blue from Clear It (Fashion Outlet store that also sells fabric upstairs, two doors down from The Fabric Store) and in white from Tessuti. What luck! I was considering underlining the dress, but then decided not to because the ponte knit is quite thick when sewing two layers together, so any further thickness would have been too much.

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I had to add on 1.5cm for the seam of each colour blocked bit when cutting out the fabric and used a running stitch to mark the stitching line so that the connection was as exact as possible, without creating a bulge of any sort along the seams. Putting it together was simple and everything matched up really well. Once it was down to finishing off the dress, I was debating on how to finish off the hem, as the dress is VERY roomy and not at all figure flattering. There was the option of leaving it as a tent dress or being a bit different and making it into a “balloon” dress with the addition of a wide elastic on the bottom hem. I tried that out and found that it looked more interesting. I haven’t got a dress with this kind of hem, so I decided to leave it that way. The hem is hand stitched, just catching the thread on the inside, encasing the wide elastic so that it is not visible on the outside, as I didn’t want the stitching to be seen. After having had a look at the photos however, I think I will tighten the elastic a little, as I still find it a bit too loose.

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To style the dress, I was deciding between red or navy pointed flats.  Because the dress is a casual one, I didn’t think that heels go with it as well as flats. I have used the red ones for the photos, as I think they stand out better and because the red on the dress is at the top and the shoes are at the other end.

The dress is super comfortable to wear because of the soft fabric and its width. Maybe I will make another one in another colour combination with a different hem. But for now it’s au revoir and onto the next project….

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Styling: Red flats: Michael Kors, Sunglasses: Zara, Ring: Lovisa