8 November 2013

Milly Skirt

Hi all,

The past three weeks have flown by in a blur. I completed the first half of my first module at University, in flat pattern cutting. Our main project was to re-create a skirt from Milly by Michelle Smith A/W 2012-13. We didn't have any instructions on how to do it, just the basic pattern manipulation skills that we learnt.  We had to try to create an accurate representation of the run way image, in calico and black contrast fabric.
I won't bore you with details of how I did it, but it involved a good few pattern drafts, half toiles, full toiles and lots of yoke samples. I am quite pleased with how the skirt turned out, but I am most pleased with the progress I have made with my pattern cutting.

This is the runway image of the skirt.

Here is my interpretation of the skirt, including side seam pockets (which were really satisfying to have made!)

Hope you are all well,

xox Niamh xox

17 October 2013

Very Chocolatey Beetroot Brownies

Hi all,

My mum is currently on the hunt for the ultimate chocolate brownie recipe, and we recon that she has gotten close with the most recent recipe she tried. It has a little ingredient call beetroot in it. I had never had beetroot in a baked good, but I have to tell you...its amazing. The beetroot doesn't bring too much flavour to the brownies, but what it does bring is an intense gooeyness and moistness, which combined with the chocolate just melts in the mouth.

If you want to have a try of these scrummy brownies then follow the recipe below.

Very Gooey Chocolate Beetroot Brownies

  • 275g (10oz) beetroot, leaves removed
  • 250g (9oz) dark chocolate, in drops or broken into pieces. (or more if your a real chocoholic)
  • 250g (9oz) butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 300g (11oz) caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 75g (3oz) plain flour
  • 50g (2oz) cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt

You will need a 20cm (8inch) square tin, with 5cm (2inch) sides.


Prepare the beetroot by trimming the stalks back to about 2cm (3/4inch) from the end, was them carefully under a cold tap. Do not scrub them - simply rub off any dirt with your fingers. You don’t want to damage the skin or tails otherwise the beetroot will ‘bleed’ while cooking.

Place the beetroot in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer, then cover with a lid and continue to simmer for between 30 mins and 1 hour, depending on the size and age of the beets. They are cooked when their skin rubs off easily and a knife can easily be inserted into the centre of each beet.

When cooked, rub off the skins and discard, then cut into chunks. Place in a food processor or blender and whiz for a few mins to form a smooth purée. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F), gas mark 4. Butter the sides of the tin and line the tin with baking paper. 

Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set over a saucepan of simmering water. Leave till just melted, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside.

Cream the butter until soft in a large bowl or in an electric food mixer. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. 

Whisk eggs together in a small bowl for a few seconds until mixed, then gradually add these to the creamed butter mixture, beating all the time. Beat in the purée beetroot and melted chocolate, then sift in the remaining ingredients, fold these in until fully combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin, smooth the top with a palette knife or spatula. Bake in the oven for 30 - 35 minutes, or until the middle of the cake is almost set but still wobbles when you gently shake the tin. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Allow to cool completely in the tin before carefully removing the brownies, and cutting into squares to serve.

They will keep in an airtight container for a few days (if they last that long!)

xox Niamh xox

11 October 2013

Uni Room Tour

Hi all,

So as a few of you may know I am now at University studying fashion design. I thought that I would do a little room tour of my uni room here, as I am quite proud of how it looks now. I have been working so hard at Uni every day from 8.30 till late at night, and it's such a nice feeling to come back to a room that feels really cosy and homely.

A few notes to add. I am in a shared house for uni, so this is not a tour of a university hall bedroom. We share a bathroom between 4, and I do have a double bed. Okay, enough explainations... on with the tour :)
 This is what you see when you walk in. My bed pretty much takes over the whole of the room. I had to get a new bed for the room as the one that was there was broken :( but it meant that I could get this really pretty bed from Ikea. Its so pretty with the ornate metal frame. They are also very useful for hanging bags off.
 On one side of the room I have a dresser and a wardrobe (the wardrobe is actually my old one from home) On top of the wardrobe I have three green Ikea boxes. I find these boxes really useful. I have stationary, art supplies and fabric in these ones. And my room would not be complete without some Ikea faux flowers. They really brighten up the room and I don't have to remember to water them! I brought a small selection of my perfume collection with me.
 More pictures of my bed. I fell in love with this bedding. The duvet cover and pillow cases are from Joules, I got them at House of Fraser in the sale. The quality is really great, but its the print that I love the most. Its covered in bright flowers and the occasional parrot. And its reversible!!! I have a green throw, and another purple furry throw on the bed to make it extra cosy.
 Beside the bed I have a bedside table (also from home) with lamp (also from home, do you see a pattern emerging here?) which I am trying to keep the current issues of fashion magazines on. Winnie my mannequin came with me, so she has pride of place in the corner with a full length mirror behind. The curtains sneaking into the photo are... also from home... but they weren't quite long enough, so I had to cut and sew more fabric from another one onto the bottom. The shelving unit was already here, and I have filled it with books, files, more Ikea boxes, and on top I keep my printer, and a few items from home that make it feel more homely.
And finally this is my desk. I have my desk facing out the window, which gives great light. My desk lamp is from Ikea, and its really great as I can move it closer to my work if I am doing anything detailed (It's also good for when I am using my sewing machine as the bulb in it has died) And there's my laptop, and some more photos

So thats my room tour.
Hope you enjoyed.

xox Niamh xox

2 October 2013

Sammy-Jo Stephenson Bath Spa

Hi all,

I decided to share some really beautiful fashion pieces that I saw this past week. The Bath Spa Masters Fashion and Textiles course has been exhibiting the final collections and I fell in love with Sammy-Jo Stephenson's collection. The information given at the exhibition gives a very good explanation of her work:  "She is a textiles and surface designer specialising in fashion fabrics for Womenswear. Her unique printing aesthetic comes from her passion for the hand-made. Each print design is developed from her meticulous illustrations involving a culmination of techniques, textures and mixed media. Her main theme is rooted in her love of the natural world and the unapologetically vibrant colour palette of botany and wildlife. Sammy-Jo's recent collections focus on mark making and brush stokes, building layers of imagery, which are then refined and developed through digital collage. The resulting collections are an exploration of digital print, screen prints with dye-techniques and hand embroidery"

I really like the delicate nature of the fabrics she has used, and how they drape, which contrasts some of the stronger paint marks in the prints of the fabric.

xox Niamh xox

29 September 2013

Mans Shirt Project

Hi all,

Sorry its been a little while. I have made the move to uni, but unfortunately we have had a fair amount of things to deal with. One of which is no internet, which should be set up on the 1st October!!! But I will continue...
As an introductory project/summer project to my uni course we had to take a mans shirt and adapt it to create a new garment that would be suitable for Spring Summer 2014. This basically meant that you could do whatever you wanted to it (as the S/S14 shows had not yet happened) I started with the GORGEOUS linen shirt that I picked up from a charity shop near my home. It was so huge I thought that it would give me ample fabric to play around with.

After a while of looking for inspiration and a few fabric tests, I decided that I wanted to create ruffles on the top that slightly changed the silhouette and were a different colour (which would make them stand out) I tie dyed them and dip dyed using dylon olive green, which kept the natural feel of the colour that the linen was. I circle cut the fabric to create the frills, and as that required a large amount of fabric the top quickly shrunk to a crop top!

The cream bias binding gives the edge a bit of a pop. I used the old front of the top to create the back of the new top, retaining the button fastenings and also the pockets. (Because everyone needs pockets by their shoulder blades!)

Thats what I made from the mans shirt.
Shopping charity shops can be really fun and changing things you buy makes them so much more unique and exciting. 

xox Niamh xox 

22 September 2013

Sibling Knitwear at ICA

Hi all,

As a part of the ICA Off-Site exhibition at the Old Selfridges Hotel looking at 'A journey Through London subculture 1980’s to now' Sibling showed several pieces of knitwear. 
A collaboration between Joe Bates, Sid Bryan and Cozette McCreedy, Knitwear label Sibling launched in 2008. The premier collection included bright subversions of classic knitwear styles, including the sparkling knits and leopard graphics now synonymous with the label.
Here Sibling present a selection of Iconic Knits, most notably their world touring unofficial mascot ‘Knit Monster’ and the Laura Lees hand embroidered ‘Hell Flower’ look.

My favourite pieces were the huge glove and hat that appeared to be knitted from giant wool or tops. And the massive pom pom people were a little hard to miss!

 This is the 'Knit Monster' Fairisle meets monster, complete with skulls and frankenstein. 

xox Niamh xox

20 September 2013

Room Tour - Home Edition

Hi all,

I have been meaning to post my 'after' room tour for ages now. My excuse... I hadn't sorted the throw pillows. I know, its a really bad excuse. But now I am heading off for Uni, so I figured now would be a good time to do it before I drain all of my belongings from it.

If you want to see what my room looked like before then you can have a look here: Before Room
It was quite a big room makeover, and this is now my room for life at home. I went with quite a neutral colour scheme, so that I could change the look of it with different coloured furnishings (cushions, throws e.t.c) I chose Elephants Breath by Farrow and Ball for the wall colour which I absolutely love. We got a new carpet laid which is cream with a really interesting weave.
Some pieces of furniture are the same, but we changed that desk, chest of drawers and wardrobe as they were not functioning properly (i.e they were broken, or on the brink of falling apart). I love the new furniture that I got so much, its kind of french style with the decorative feet and details and antique brass handles. I don't know how I am going to leave it here!

 The bedding I got was from House of Fraser by Sanderson. The duvet cover is cream with a white damask style raised pattern. The grey throw and pillow are from Ikea, and the turquoise throw pillow is from Next. I got it a while ago and it went with the previous colour scheme I had, but until I change it I am happy with it there. I absolutely love my bed, I got it a good few years ago when I 'upgraded' from my bunk bed. I am definitely going to miss it when I go to Uni! On my bedside table there is a lamp from John Lewis which is a similar antique brass colour to the handles on the furniture with a cream twisty lampshade. And a pile of magazines and books I am currently reading. I just started 'The Fault in Our Stars' by John Green.
My desk area is one of my favourite parts of my room. I love having my desk by the window looking out, as it not only gives great light to work with, but I can also look out at the trees and animals in our garden. I try not to keep too much on my desk, just the essentials, and of course my mini mannequin. I keep a few things on my windowsill. The flowers are from Ikea (yep, they are fake!) So they always bring colour to the room. On either side of them I have a photo frame (antique brass) with a sepia photo of Paris and Port Douglas, two of my favourite places.
 I like to think of this area as my reading area. I have quite a lot of 'stuff' in my room, and these big Ikea box shelves are great for storing the majority of my 'stuff'. I like then using the boxes to put things into. All of the black boxes are from Ikea, and they all have labels which is quite useful. The two slimmer Ikea shelve units next to the big one house my growing dvd collection. I love films and I tend to buy quite a lot of dvds, but I always wait until they are about £3. 

I am an avid collector of fashion magazines, and have been collecting Vogue for a while. New to my favourite magazines is I-D and Lula. I used to get the Beano, for about 10 years (all of the magazines are now in the roof) I keep the annuals that I got in my bedroom. I even have a few annuals from the 60's. My white book shelf was made by my dad, and has been in my room since I can remember. It now houses the majority of my fashion, art and reading books. I want to take them all with me to Uni, but I know I won't have room, so I have to pick my favourites.
 When the shop Pier was around in the UK, one visit we took I got my mum to sit on the 'Satellite Chair' (as I call it) I think they are called papasan chairs. Long story short she loved it and we got two for the lounge. Move on a few years and they aren't being used, so I brought one up into my room. Its the most comfy chair to sit on. You can just curl up with a book or laptop and relax (or fall asleep)

I keep my bags on the back of my door, for easy access to grab when I leave my room. My favourite bag make is Nica because they have interesting little details that I like. But my dream bag would be the Mulberry Alexa bag because it so classic and pretty. (one day.....)
A few little areas of my room. The wardrobe I have has these pole things that extend from the side, which I sometimes use to hang my outfit for the next day on. Recently they have been housing my favourite scarf of the moment and my Helen Kaminski felt hat.

I have my perfume collection in one of the boxes of the big Ikea shelf. I mostly have body sprays which I got in Washington D.C at Victorias Secret. I have really enjoyed wearing them over the summer, but I might transition into using perfume for the colder months. Most of my perfumes are nearly used up, so I have my eye on the Jo Malone counter for my next perfume. They all smell amazing though, I don't know which one to pick.

Finally there is my clock. I got it for Christmas last year as a complete surprise. I had the same clock in my bedroom for the whole of my life and it was probably time to change it. Having the 'Bunnykins teaching clock' hanging on your wall when you are 18 is probably not socially acceptable :) My mum picked out this Thomas Kent clock, and its soo perfect. I love the roman numerals and the colour. Its really big so I have no excuse about being late.

I hope you have enjoyed this look at my room

xox Niamh xox  

17 September 2013

Mallorca: Sunshine, Markets and Seascapes

Hi all,

You may have noticed that I disappeared for a couple of weeks. I was away soaking up the last rays of summer sunshine before heading off to university. We had a great time in Mallorca, enjoying sun, sea and great food! We were based near Pollenca on the north of the island, and spent time enjoying the beautiful town, and others that surround it. Here is a snap shot of our trip...

We stayed in a villa, and the highlight of it was the huge fig tree on the driveway, which was heaving with fresh figs. Every morning we went out to see which ones were ready to pick, and enjoyed them straight off the tree.

The calvari 365 steps in Pollenca were something we had to do again. When I was 5 we went to Mallorca and I apparently ran up and down them whilst my parents walked to the top. I went up at a normal pace this time!
One of the highlights of Pollenca is definitely the Sunday morning market, which was brimming with fresh fruit and veggies, meats, cheeses and interesting hand made jewellery and crafts. It was really a feast for the senses! Photos below show more things there. I loved the leather satchels particularly the embossed one.

On the left is Teixits Vicens, an interiors textiles shop, known for its striped Mallorcan fabrics. It had lots of lovely goodies made from its fabrics, as well as huge rolls of them lining the walls. On the right is a ceramic shop entrance that had beautiful hand made and hand painted pottery.

I can't remember exactly what these were about, but there were these huge sculptures of musical instruments made from stone and metal in Pollenca. They were pretty impressive.
We stopped at a couple of vineyards for wine tastings whilst we were there. (I was on water though!) It was really relaxing to sit in the vineyard looking out at the long vines and grapes.

Cala Sant Vicenc coves were so pretty. I swam a few times and the water was so clear and warm. There were lots of little fish swimming around, but also some really weird looking jellyfish which I wasn't so happy about! (I am kind of scared of jellyfish!)

Sand sculptures line the beach in Port de Pollenca, they are complete with their own little fountains!

Following the lonely planet guide book we drove down to Sa Calobra. As the guide book describes "Feel your heart leap as you take the dramatic hairpin drive to Sa Calobra" and our hearts certainly did leap! At one point I thought my mum was going to have a panic attack! She doesn't like heights, and the road was really narrow with a very very steep drop down. Add to that the huge coaches coming against us almost forcing us off the road, and you can see why she was worried. But it was totally worth it (well in my opinion) The cove was beautiful and for swimming it was amazing.
I will end with another drive we took to Cap de Formentor, where there were some stunning views.
And there is me with one of the great views behind me. I lived in those denim shorts for the whole trip. I hate how I always over pack and end up wearing one thing!

Hope you enjoyed this look at our trip

I am looking forward to moving off to University, so expect some Uni related posts soon.

xox Niamh xox

22 August 2013

Lego Bag and Shoe???

Hi all,

When I was little I was obsessed with lego. I had a huge box of it and would spend hours making my dream house and other bits and pieces. For my 6th birthday I even went to Lego land. I think its amazing what they can make with these little interlocking plastic blocks. Shopping in Swindon I came across some very, very large lego creations (of course going along with the shopping theme!) I thought I would share them with you.

Firstly there is a huge pink platform stiletto with spikes on the toe and heel, a giant sized Kurt Geiger shoe.

And a massive red osprey handbag, complete with clasp. 

What do you think of these lego creations? 
Did you used to play with lego?

xox Niamh xox

Ed's Easy Diner

Hi all,

Sorry my posts have been a little sparse. I have had a lot going on recently as I am getting ready to go off to University. We needed to get some things for the new house, so we went to the Swindon Outlet. Its got great quality pots, pans, clothes, shoes... everything, all for discounted price. In the Swindon Outlet there is Ed's Easy Diner, which my mum and I ate at. It was really atmospheric, with 1950's music and a little jukebox on each table. The food was pretty good too. I got a chicken burger and my mum and I shared a side of sweet potato fries (our weakness!!!) and I even got a super delicious oreo milkshake (yeah did I mention that I am lactose intolerant) Well.. it was totally worth it!

I think its kind of funny that we went to an american style diner in England, and not when we were actually in America. It kind of reminded me of Johnny Rocket. I would definitely recommend it for the fun vibe that the place has.

xox Niamh xox

17 August 2013

Snog Frozen Yogurt

Hi all,

On my recent trip to London I tracked down another frozen yogurt shop that I hadn't been to - Snog. As a fro-yo fanatic I was drawn towards it like a magnet. They have a small selection of flavours which you can choose from. When we went the choices were Chocolate, Strawberry, Passion Fruit, or Natural. Add to that the multitude of toppings, and you have a few decisions to make. The queue was impressive, coming out of the shop, and it looked like there was a disco going on with the lights on the ceiling changing colour.
My first snog was a passion fruit little snog. I went a little sparingly on the toppings (going just for raspberries), as I like to actually taste the fro-yo on its own the first time I try a new place. It was really refreshing and delicious.
 We ended up returning again the next day and this time I chose the strawberry flavour and added the chocolate brownie pieces which were to-die-for!!! Really gooey with a crisp outer. And the strawberry fro-yo was delicious too. A little sweeter than the Passion Fruit, so a perfect after dinner treat.

Have you enjoyed a snog?
Know any other great Fro-Yo places?

xox Niamh xox

12 August 2013

My August Playlist

Hi all,

I thought I would share my favourite music of the moment with you. There might be people here that you haven't heard of, or maybe people and songs that you also love to listen to. I have a slightly varied taste in music, but I love folk and country. Really any song that I can really connect with the lyrics. There are a few up-beat songs and some slower ones. I have been LOVING Hunter Hayes newly released cd. It's got so many great 'get up and go' songs.

I hope you will have a listen to some of these, and if you have any suggestions for me I would love to hear them. I am always looking for new music.

xox Niamh xox

9 August 2013

Welcome to my home town - Bristol

Hi all (and Free People),

When I found out about the Free People competition to be their guest blogger for a month I got very excited. I discovered Free People in New York and it was love at first sight! I am sure that if they do decide to make a permanent home here in the UK there will be lots of others with me welcoming them with open arms. So here is my entry on my home town of Bristol....

Bristol is the heart of the South West, and its where I have lived my whole life. I guess I know it quite well by now. It's such a colourful city, with so many different things happening, a huge diversity of people, and so many interesting places both old and new. I have tried to whittle it down a bit to give you a snap shot of what its like here. I hope you enjoy. Oh, and welcome to Bristol...

St. Nicholas Market is set in the old city, and its brimming with character. Packed with stalls selling everything and anything you can think of. The smells of incense and fresh cooked food entwine and beckon you in (the free falafel samples are pretty tempting too) You can find an amazing bargin here on clothes, fabric or handmade goods. There is even a hot sauce stall! 

 I have always loved the Christmas Steps, they feel like they have jumped out of a Charles Dickens novel. I have never counted all of the steps, but I challenge you to. Dotted along the steps are small boutiques and specialty shops. From vintage furniture, to brass instruments, and the Bristol Cider shop. Each first Saturday of the month there is a crafts market here, another highlight of this little area.

You would have to be walking around with a paper bag over your head to not notice Bristol's amazing street art. Art shall no longer be restrained by the walls of a gallery. The best place to see the street art is Nelson Street, where the walls and buildings that edge the street tower over with giant murals and paintings. My favourite piece of street art has to be the most subtle one. The walls of the old police station became thick with dirt, and by washing away this dirt it exposed the stone underneath. This building has now come to life with birds, swallows and flowers where the wall has been cleaned.

Bristol is Banksey's home town, and he has truly left his mark here (literally) The image on the left is at the bottom of park street, and it always makes me smile. There happened to be art in progress when I had my camera out.

I had to include this place. Flavalanche is my favourite frozen yoghurt place in the UK. It's not been open for more than half a year, but I am already nearly through my first loyalty card (just two more to go!!!!) Self serve can be bit dangerous first time round, as you can't tell how fast its going to come out (I learnt the hard way!) They have a really great flavour selection, and change them frequently (my top picks are mango and the dulce du leche). This is definitely one of my top place in the whole of Bristol.

Cabot Tower is a great place to go to get a view of the city. On a clear day you can see for miles. And if you don't fancy the narrow stair case climb to the top then you can relax on Brandon Hill, along with the ducks and crazy squirrels. Those squirrels can sometimes get a little too friendly (but they do pose for photos on demand)

Welcome to Clifton. Clifton is my favourite area of Bristol. There are lots of vintage shops, quirky interior shops, and loads of independent cafes full of character and delicious smells. Wandering around window shopping here makes for a perfect afternoon, followed up with a cup of tea (well, we are British!)

The Primrose cafe in Clifton is a very popular place to head. The food is amazing and the service is great. Delicious cakes demand room to be left. And sitting alfresco in the sun feels like you could be in another country.

Lunch time today included a falafel wrap with tomato and chilli relish. It was amazingly good. (Mouth watering here as I type)

The Clifton arcade is a treasure trove, lined with vintage shops. There is a great bakery at the end which  fills the arcade with sweet smells.

Shopping for vintage is always exciting, as you never know what you will find (even if its only window shopping) As an avid fashion history fan I love finding out more about different eras of style through the enthusiastic shop owners. And trying on hats is always fun.

Clifton is beautiful, with it's Georgian buildings and quaint cafes. This flower shop had me drawn in with it's arrangements spilling out onto the street.

The Crescent in Clifton looks out with a stunning view. Walking along it feels like you have been transported to a different era. I like imagining who has lived in these houses. There are some lovely flowers edging the balconies and doors of the houses. Oh, and there's me with a post box. 

Finally, finishing up with the Clifton suspension bridge, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. This is an iconic image for Bristol, and a handy way of getting from one side of the river avon to the other. Whenever you fly into Bristol, if you are on the right side of the plane you should be able to see this landmark linking the land together.

I hope you have enjoyed this look at Bristol, and if I have inspired you to visit then we would love to see you here.

xox Niamh xox