What I got for Christmas…

My Christmas presents this year mainly had 2 themes: tea and sewing. You can’t say my family and friends don’t know me! I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while….well since Christmas! But I’m glad I waited because my uni friends and I had our ‘Christmas 2’ last weekend and I was really lucky to get some sewing presents from my friend. We did Secret Santa this year, buying for 2 people each, because as people have paired off, the group has grown to 10 people and that’s a lot of presents to buy! Me and my 2 girlies meet up more often than the whole group does and we all discussed who we were buying for when we met in December but I didn’t notice that Farn only told us one of her people – because the other one was me!

I got these 2 books:

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They’re really good books and cover a lot of techniques. The sewing one covers loads of things like drafting and sewing pockets, collars, how to sew pleats and everything else you could possibly think of. The crochet one is also great and will hopefully help develop my crocheting skills – and help me not forget what I had already learned! It will also go well with a book one of my other friends bought me for my birthday:

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For the Secret Santa I also got this amazing box of threads and bobbins:

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Another of my presents, from my mum’s best friend was some lovely fabric:

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I’m hoping there is enough of the blue to make a dress – probably an Emery, if I ever finish my first one! Here’s a close-up – it has lovely little yellow flowers on.

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And I think there will be enough of the cream flowery one to make a blouse, possibly a Colette Violet.

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My sister got me some really sweet retro dressmaking and knitting cards, which show you all the techniques you could possibly think of, like sewing for special occasions, setting in sleeves, knitting aran and cable knitting, and everything else. So between the cards and the books I don’t have an excuse for getting any technique wrong!

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Possibly the pièce de résistance of my crafty presents came from The Boyfriend’s mum. I got a lovely vintage-style flour shaker and inside were some little packages. I first opened this:

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And I thought ‘ooh, lovely, some thread. That will match the fabric I’ve just been given.’ Then I opened this:

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And I thought ‘oh, good, needles are always useful.’ And then I opened a present that contained these:

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They’re personalised labels saying I’ve made things!!!! It was so great that I happened to open them last! I’d been thinking for ages that I should get some labels to sew in my me-made clothes and now I have some! I’ve been slack and haven’t sewn any in yet, but I do intend to sew one of these in each of the things I’ve made so far 🙂

Book: A Beautiful Mess Photo Idea Book

If you haven’t already discovered the blog A Beautiful Mess, you should check it out now. It’s written by 2 sisters and has posts on crafts, fashion, interior design and recipes. And it looks great – it’s part of the reason I’ve been trying to improve the look of my blog, all-be-it very slowly!

The other thing about A Beautiful Mess, is they love photography and have written a book of tips for taking good photographs: A Beautiful Mess Photo Idea Book. It’s already out in American but doesn’t come out until November in the UK, so I ordered a copy of it from American because I didn’t want to wait!

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As you could hopefully tell from the photos in my previous post, on my first Grainline Studio Scout Tee, I’ve been trying out some of their tips. Some of them are so simple, I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of them before! I’ve been trying to find good places to take the photos of the clothes I make, and I had never thought of sticking some fabric to the wall to make the backdrop more interesting! I’m still going to try to hunt around my neighbourhood for good walls/ fences/ doors but for now, and while it’s too cold to go outside anyway, I can take pictures indoors that don’t all have to have a boring white wall behind them!

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I also think I’ll give the paper backdrop a try when photographing food.

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I really like this blackboard paint backdrop idea, it looks really good – especially with these particular cakes!

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I also tried some of their tips on photographing a collection. I spent ages trying to take a good picture of some of my wool, but I think it’s quite difficult to photograph wool! Maybe I need more practice….

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There are loads more technical tips (like focusing on something unexpected or how to use filters and lighting) and artistic tips (like how to style people and use colours) and a section in the back about what to use your printed photos for. I’m going to carry on practicing and hopefully my pictures will improve! You can check out the blog for loads more photography tips too.