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Cassiefairy's thrifty little lifestyle blog – DIY crafts, sewing, food & fashion – what more does a girl need??


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Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside ~ Nautical textiles & DIY roman blind

Do you ever buy some fabric just because you like it but have no idea what you’ll end up doing with it? I actually got this fabric from Abakhan over a year ago and at the time I thought it might be the inspiration for a kitchen makeover. But during the year, my tastes have changed and I no longer fancy a nautical theme in my kitchen. I’ve since moved on to lolly pops, bright colours and googie shapes, but whether this will still be my plan when I actually get round to decorating the kitchen is another story! However, as you’ve probably gathered from reading my bathroom blog posts, I’ve moved my coastal-desires over to the bathroom and I’ve since realised that the fabric will look equally fab in my beach-hut inspired room.

Although there’s not much call for soft furnishings in a bathroom, privacy is still essential so I decided to use the ‘Porto’ lighthouse fabric to make a blind for the window. I followed a basic blind pattern and I spent a few enjoyable hours at my sewing machine making a cute roman blind. I always thought that it would be pretty difficult to make a roman blind and if you read through tutorials online, it’s quite easy to get baffled by all the measurements and 40-step instructions, but I found out that it’s not all that difficult, and if you want to revamp your windows (or even just show off your sewing skills a bit!) have a go at following my ‘simple’ tutorial for making a lined roman blind.

You will need

  • Curtain fabric
  • Lining fabric
  • Matching thread
  • Length of self-adhesive hook and sew-on loop fastener the width of the batten
  • 3 lengths of cord – each twice the length of the blind plus the width of the finished blind
  • Small plastic rings
  • Square wooden batten the width of the blind
  • 4 pieces of wooden dowelling, the width of the finished blind minus 3 inches (I used 4 garden canes) If your window is long, or you would like more folds, add extra dowelling.
  • 4 screw-in curtain wire eye loops

Step 1

Work out the size of your roman blind by measuring from the top of the window to your required finished drop, adding 2 inches to the top and add 4 inches to the bottom hem. For the width, measure the width of the window, subtract 1 inch to allow for smooth movement either side once it is fitted then add 1 inch either side for attaching the lining to the side seam. Position these measurements on your fabric so that the pattern is central – if you have a stripe or repeating pattern, make sure the lines are straight and there is an equal pattern either side. Cut out your blind fabric.

Step 2

Use the same measurements to cut your lining fabric, adding 2 inches to the height for each dowelling pocket – so for my three pockets, I added 6 inches to the length. Cut the lining fabric and mark your hems – measure up 4 inches from the bottom and mark a line across on the back of the fabric, and do the same at two inches down from the top. Divide the rest of the fabric between these lines by the number of dowels you would like to use and mark a line across on the back of the fabric at equal intervals – I wanted to include 3 dowels, so I divided my fabric into three equal sections and marked a line at each point.

Step 3

Fold along the dowelling pocket lines and press with an iron. Pin and stitch a straight line at one inch from the fold to make a pocket for the dowelling. Repeat for each of the dowelling pockets. 

 Step 4

With the right sides of your fabric and lining facing each other, match up the edges and pin down both sides of the blind. Stitch a hem down one side at one inch from the edge, sealing one end of the dowelling pockets. Insert the dowelling canes at the open edge, then stitch a one inch hem down the side of the blind. Turn right-side out. 

Step 5

Working on the reverse of the blind, turn the top edge of the blind and lining down by one inch and press with an iron, then turn down another inch and press. Pin the stitch-on loop fastener across the width of the blind, covering this top hem and stitch in place at the top and bottom of the loop fastener.

Step 6

Still working on the reverse of the blind, turn the bottom of the fabric and lining up together by 2 inches and press with an iron. Turn up another two inches and place iron-on hem webbing along the top of this hem. Follow the instructions to iron on the webbing to glue the hemming down. This keeps the hem in place while you slip-stitch the hem to the lining – making sure you don’t stitch through to the front of the blind.

Step 7

Insert the bottom dowel into the hem pocket and hand-stitch the edges together to seal the dowelling into the hem.

Step 8

Working on the reverse of the blind, stitch the plastic rings along each of the dowelling rod pocket seams in three places – 4 inches from each side and in the very centre. Tie the pieces of cord onto the bottom ring and feed up through the other rings to the top of the blind.

Step 9

Screw the curtain wire eye loops into the batten at the same intervals as the rings on the back of the blind. Apply the stick-on hook fastener to the batten and attach the batten at the top of your window recess – we used grip adhesive because there is a lintel above my window!

Step 10

Attach the blind using the hook-and-loop fastener and feed the cord through the curtain wire eye loops and out to the side. Attach a cleat to the wall where you would like to tie off the blind. Knot the cord together at the bottom and pull up your new blind to create the folds and tie off using a cleat.

DIY bathroom roman blind-1 DIY bathroom roman blind-2

And this is what my blind looks like after I enlisted hubby to install it in the bathroom.  I’m really quite happy with how it turned out and it’s nice to have the extra privacy (and I’m sure extra warmth in winter!) in the bathroom. I’ve still got more fabric left over so watch this space for more projects! Next up on my list is more storage in the bathroom and I’d love to build a towel shelf over the door. I’ve been searching online for tutorials and found a great channel on YouTube which shares easy DIY projects from start to finish. Here’s the one I watched about making bathroom shelves and after all my adventures with a sander I’m sure that I’ll be able to recreate this!

What do you think? Can I do it?! I just need to find some more wood (hopefully free or found in a skip, like the shuttering we used for the bathroom floor and storage wall) and I’ll be able to start on my next project for the bathroom makeover! I’ll post more updates next week because we’re sure to be doing more DIY in the bathroom over the weekend and I’ll take some photos to share with you. In the meantime, have a fab weekend :)

 

 

Cosmopolitan Blog Awards 2014-2


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Why I started my blog & how I ended up in the Cosmo Blog Awards!

What happens when your dreams come true? I’m not sure, but I think that’s kind of how I’m feeling about being a finalist in the Cosmopolitan Blog Awards.

As a teenager I remember spending my pocket money on glittery Spectacular nail polish and Cosmopolitan magazine, and spending hours reading it from cover to cover. It’s amazing how much effort teenagers will put into reading when it’s not a school assignment, isn’t it?! I’ve grown up reading this publication for the last 17 years and (as it is so often described by countless women around the country), Cosmo was my bible.

Photos of the Cosmo Blog Awards article that I snapped on my phone back in the Spring when I was considering entering!

I dreamed of one day being a journalist, having my work published and my articles being read by girls like me. And now, thanks to all the votes that my lovely friends, family and super-kind Cassiefairy.com readers submitted for me, my Cosmopolitan heroes are actually reading MY work! And I just can’t quite believe it. It’s actually unreal. Surreal. And if I think about it too much, it gives me a total writers block and I can’t finish my…

Over the years I’ve found countless reasons to continue working on my blog and to try to make writing my full-time job, but there was only one reason why I started the blog: I wanted to get better at writing. Just like an artist draws in their sketchbook and as a photographer snaps photos every day, I wanted this to be a place where I could practice writing and try to get better at it. I had no real concept that people could read my writing and I was kind of doing it just for me. It was my online sketchbook of ideas, photos and articles, and I’m still using it in pretty-much the same away. Practice makes perfect, after all. And I’m sure I’ll get there one day ;)

What happened when I heard I’d been shortlisted!

So after exercising my writing muscle almost daily on the blog, I started to get a little better (well, it couldn’t get much worse! – don’t just take my word for it – my early articles are all there in the blog archives for all to see, eek!), and readers started to keep coming back for more. And I’m so pleased that you did because it spurred me on, and every kind comment lifted my heart. I’m definitely still learning from every post I write and I still cringe at articles that I published only last year. And my photos still leave a lot to be desired (today’s are phone photos, sorry about the quality). Of course, I’m my own worst critic and despite a few articles that make me smile, I’m still not sure I’m doing it 100% right, but who can ever really claim that anyway?! Most importantly, I’ve been writing every day (or sometimes twice a day when I’m feeling particularly motivated!) and it’s really become my passion. The blog is as much a part of me and I am of it, so I can’t imagine my life without it. What on earth would I do with my time if I couldn’t write?! Writing for a magazine is my big dream and I don’t know if I’ll ever get there, but hey, I’m SO enjoying the journey!

Actually, writing that last sentence has just made me realised that perhaps I already AM a published magazine writer? Albeit on my own blog. But the point is that there are many fabulous ladies out there who actually ARE reading my articles every day and seem to be enjoying my work. It’s thanks to them that I’ve even got a place at the Blog Awards and that I have this opportunity for Cosmopolitan to check out my writing. I am forever in your debt and if you ever need anything from me, just ask and I will be happy to help you out. And please keep coming back to see me and carry on telling me what you think of my writing, because your feedback is what’s most important to me.

Blackberry pastry recipe 3


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My GBBO pastry recipe ~ Blackberry tart

Around here the blackberries seem to have ripened earlier than they have in previous years. I’ve been picking on-and-off for the past couple of weeks while hubby and I go on our evening walks so I already have quite a lot of blackberries ready to use up in my autumn cooking. The theme for this week’s GBBO and The Great Blogger Bake Off if pastries so I decided that a blackberry tart would be a fun recipe to try out. Blackberry picking autumn

Rather than making a pie filling with the blackberries and loading it into a rough puff pastry case, I thought I would make a jam, which would then be spread onto the pastry like a big jam tart. Blackberries can release a lot of juice while cooking so I thought that this extra process was better than ending up with a soggy bottom! So here’s the recipe for the jam which I found on the BBC Good Food website:

Ingredients: 900g blackberries, 900g sugar, 1 and a half tablespoons of lemon juice, 50ml water

Bring the washed blackberries , lemon juice and water to the boil in a large pan and then simmer for 15 minutes. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved then bring back to the boil for around 10 minutes. Test with a jam thermometer that 105C has been reached, or to check whether your jam is done without a thermometer, drop a blog of jam onto a chilled saucer and wait for a minute before pushing your finger through it (be careful not to rush into this, it’s soooo hot!) . If the jam wrinkles, it’s ready!  Allow to cool for 15 minutes before pouring into sterilised jars and sealing. It should make about 4 jam jars.

Blackberry pastry recipe 1 Blackberry pastry recipe 2 Blackberry pastry recipe 3 Blackberry pastry recipe 4

I used this jam to spread onto the rough puff pastry and here’s the recipe that I followed from Bero:

Ingredients: 225g plain flour, 150g lard and margarine diced and mixed, pinch of salt

Mix the flour and salt and stir in diced fat with a knife before mixing into a stiff dough with water. Roll out into a  thin strip then fold into three. Turn it one quarter of the way round and roll out again before repeating the folding and rolling three times. Chill for 15 minutes then use to line a pastry case, like this tin that I got from Wholeport with a loose base to make it easier to get the pastry out. Spread I the jam onto the base and use leftover pastry to make a lattice over the top. Brush with egg yolk and bake in the oven at 180 degrees for around 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and crisp.

Blackberry pastry recipe 5 Blackberry pastry recipe 6 Blackberry tart - jam and pastry recipe

Serve with fresh blackberries and vanilla ice cream!

Loads more lovely bloggers are taking part in #TheGreatBloggerBakeOff so check out the hashtag via twitter and instagram to find more delicious recipes!

LFW daily edit - footwear trends from ASOS


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Tuesday Shoesday ~ London Fashion Week, Sept 2014

It’s London Fashion Week and I for one can’t get enough of all the live video streams, Instagram photos and live catwalk updates via Twitter. Yes, I’ve been absolutely glued to the coverage and as it’s Tuesday Shoesday I thought I’d post an update on my favourite footwear trends that have been shared during the course of LFW. One of the most interesting updates has come from ASOS and I’ve been keeping an eye on their daily edits since the start of fashion week.ASOS daily edit for LFWOne of the uber-fashionable in-house stylists at ASOS, Megan Ellaby has been guest editing the “Daily Edit” platform throughout London Fashion Week and I’ve really enjoyed reading her advice and getting ideas for looking stylish at LFW. I can see why she chose these fabulous shoes as part of today’s Daily Edit – they sum up the colours and shapes for Autumn/Winter perfectly: 

LFW daily edit - footwear trends from ASOS

As you can probably tell from my other Tuesday Shoesday blog posts, I’m a big fan of the ox-blood colour trend for this season and these chunky loafers with gold chain detail are my idea of the perfect autumn shoe. Of course, mixing textures and fabrics is a key trend for Autumn/Winter 2014 and these ASOS boots and DKNY Active trainers combine different finishes in the same colourway in order to tap into the texture trend. I’m definitely on the look out for a pair of ankle boots for this winter and I’d love a low-heel just like these, so Megan’s fashion week tip just might end up in my wardrobe later on in the season!

More glamorous looks for A/W14 that I just can’t get enough of are these outfits chosen by Megan. The colours are ideal for the season and most importantly each of these looks would be the ideal accompaniment to my burgundy leather shoes! I love subtle checked patterns and the shape of this playsuit is on the more vintage side of the fashion spectrum, so I am definitely putting this on my wish list – I’m imagining it with a chunky belt and thick thermal tights for winter. The claret jumper will work with almost everything in my existing wardrobe and will help bring last years’ shirts and skirts bang up to date. My favourite of these looks is the midi skirt. Even though I’m not yet sure that I can pull off this length being only 5ft 2 I certainly want to try a midi skirt with tucked in slogan jumper to recreate this fabulous casual-glam look. I know that ASOS have a great petite section so I think I’ll browse around for a midi skirt and take the plunge!ASOS LFW 14

The shopping edits by the enviably on-trend personal stylists at ASOS will continue beyond LFW so be sure to check back on the Daily Edit page for up-to-the minute updates on what’s hot this season. Now that I’ve found it, I know I won’t be able to tear myself away – I like to think of it as ‘research’ for work rather than shopping  – haha, any excuse, eh?!

 

 

back to school shoes for autumn winter 2014


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Tuesday Shoesday ~ At the school gates…

Autumn term. It’s finally here. I wait and wait for September to arrive for two reasons; firstly, as a perpetual student I’ve always loved starting a new course each September and relishing the potential new learning experiences it can bring, and secondly, because I see it as the start of the run-up to Christmas! I’ve always found that the autumn term flies by in  flurry of fireworks, Halloween and festive events and in no time at all we’re singing Alde Lang Syne.  And I really can’t get in trouble for saying the ‘C-word’ too early because from today it’s actually only 100 sleeps til Christmas, woop!back to school shoes trend for autumn winter

The start of September sees countless children all around the country heading back through their school gates to carry on learning and I always feel slightly jealous of the teenagers who get to spend another year at high school, surrounded by their friends, learning something new every day. They might not see it quite that way at the moment (as my little sister can testify!), but I know I’d love to relive my school days and I’m sure I would get more out of it the second time round; I think I’d appreciate it more – especially compared to the ‘real world’ of work!

Not only are the little ones heading back to school, but it’s the same in colleges and sixth forms around the country, and soon university students will be moving back into their halls of residence in time for Freshers’ week. And according to the National Student Survey we’re all loving it; This year’s results showed that student satisfaction is at a 10 year high! Are all the students around the country as keen on education and as easily excitable as me? I’m not sure, but one thing’s for certain; whether we’re going to primary school, high school, sixth form, college, university, leisure learning, work or even doing the school-run… we deserve ‘back to school’ shoes!back to school shoes ideas for autumn winter 2014It’s one of the perks of going to school – that day at start of September that your parents take you to the shoe shop to have your young feet measured and to choose a new pair of school shoes. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a say in which pair you wear and I remember always choosing a Wizard of Oz style sparkly shoe, although each year I seemed to end up going to school in black leather lace-ups. Well now that I’m a grown up, I’m actually glad that my mum made these decisions for me, as it has definitely influenced my style over the years – just look at the ‘back-to-school’ shoes that I’ve chosen for myself this year – a gorgeous patent pair of lace-up shoes from Clarks.back to school shoes for autumn winter 2014

This style of shoe is called the Busby Fizz and I mainly chose them because of the deep ox-blood burgundy leather, which is sums up this season’s footwear trend perfectly. They are great all-purpose shoes so I know that I’ll be able to wear them for most occasions during the autumn term. Thankfully, I AM starting a new course this September so I get to treat myself to all the essential back-to-school kit, including a new pencil case (okay, it’s mostly full of make-up!) and I’d love to get a new satchel, but that’s another shopping trip! Okay, the course I’m studying is an online Journalism course, but that doesn’t mean that I have to go without new term shoes!

The casual lace-ups that I’ve invested in look classy with dresses, will pair up nicely with trousers or jeans, and I love wearing them with cosy coloured tights. It’s my nod to the Autumn/Winter 14 footwear trends of rich colours and interesting textures, although I’m sure that I’ll be wearing these all through the following year too. It’s a style that doesn’t date and the colour is subtle enough to remain on-trend for years to come. I’m certain that I’ll be wearing these when I start another course next year and lets hope my sister doesn’t try to pinch them when she goes off to college too!

busby fizz shoes for autumn term