Butterick Pattern B5925 - A drapey top with lots of variations

A lovely drapey top with large side pockets, an uneven arching hemline, and a variety of necklines including a distorted one with matching pocket tops.

I made this in a size larger than normal (I'm a dress size 12 to 14 by M&S standards) so was worried that it would be shapeless, but I went by the measurements on the packet.

I think I could have got away with a size smaller but the fit over the bust was quite nice.

I made view A - a single colour - with draped and twisted neckline and pocket tops. I chose a thick cotton jersey in a pumpkin colour, with Gutermann thread colour 649.

The pattern is printed in black on brown tissue paper and comes in 2 sizes - x small, small, medium and large xl xxl. I chose to make the large version as some of the patterns I've made recently have all come up a bit small.  I prefer to buy multi size patterns so I can check the pattern pieces against myself before deciding which I'm going to use.

It was a simple construction and I was delighted not to have to set sleeves in - the top of the sleeve is fitted into place, but the arm, underarm and sides are sewn as one, and they also catch in the pockets.

I'd never made pockets like this so it was a new technique for me and it took me a while to fathom. The twists were made by matching dots along the edges which were designed to skew the seams.

There are 4 variations, so lots of scope for customising. Other views show arms of different colours, differing fits over the body, and different necklines and pockets.

Would I make again? Maybe in a lighter more drapey fabric. I love the colour and features but I topstiched the hem and it doesn't sit as flat as I'd like. A nice warm one for doing the pruning in!!

Chelsea Buns

Yesterday the weather in Rainbow Towers was bleak - one of those spring days which is wet and windy and feels more like January. I decided to stay indoors in the warm and have a domestic cooking day. I love to play at being one of those "Mrs Bridges" types!

I haven't made Chelsea Buns since 1968, but the urge for something sweet and fruity had me rummaging through the recipes, and I found one by Mary Berry in her Complete Cookbook.

It was ok. The buns were substantial (2 gave me indigestion, piggy that I am) and I would double up the filling/fruit next time and put in more spice. I used apricot jam as a glaze rather than honey and it was lovely but a bit of crunchy sugar with some cinnamon in would be good too.

Chelsea Buns (the original Mary Berry recipe, without the extra fruit etc)

500 g of strong plain flour
1 tsp salt
60g butter
1x7g fast action yeast (1 packet)
1 oz castor sugar
200mls lukewarm milk
1 large egg, beaten
sunflower oil for greasing.

Honey for glazing (I used apricot jam)

Make the dough in the same way as you would for bread.  I use an electric mixer. Put all the ingredients into a bowl, and turn the mixer to minimum until it's all blended, then whack up the speed to 2/3 and let the dough hook do the work by kneading it all for 3 minutes. If doing this by hand, knead for about 10 mins until smooth and elastic then congratulate yourself on your strength and youthfulness.

Rub a bowl with a little oil, and put in the dough. Cover with cling film and let rise until doubled in size. With enriched dough this takes about twice as long as for ordinary bread dough.

Prepare the filling (this is the bit I'd double up)

60g butter
30g muscovado sugar
60g sultanas
60g currants
Zest of one orange - I used a lemon too
1 tsp ground spice

Leave the butter to one side but mix the other filling ingredients together and leave.

When the dough has doubled in size, (Mary says this takes about 30 minutes, but mine took an hour) turn it back into the mixer and knead on speed 2/3 for 2 minutes. Remove and roll into a 12" square. Dot the butter over the dough and spread over the fruit, then roll up like a swiss roll and cut into 12 pieces. Put them in a 7x11" tin, cut side up, and leave to prove until the buns begin to touch each other.

When risen, bake for 20-25 minutes on Fan 200 (220 non fan, or Gas 7) Mary suggests covering with foil after 15 minutes. I don't like the brown hard edges, so covered mine with foil before baking and just removed it for the last 5 minutes.

I used apricot jam as a glaze, but Mary suggests using about 4 tblsps clear honey.

Revisting old sketchbooks

Very occasionally I find myself tidying The Cupboard in the studio - it's a dumping ground if I'm honest! I also keep my old sketchbooks here as I can't bear to throw them away. Revisiting sketchbooks can be great, not just to look at but to spark ideas and have a chance to add extra bits to them.

If you google "creative sketchbooks" you can find lots of people making sketchbooks as a finished artworks, running workshops and courses, and just having fun on a theme. The artists ones are sometimes spectacular!

Here's some images, just for the fun of it. I'm toying with the idea of duplicating bits of this blog into a separate creative sketchbook blog and then running it alongside this one as it seems that's where the interest is - judging by my stats anyway! The postings will be duplicated on this blog so there's no need to change, but if you want to tune out of the rest of The Slightly Artistic Woman, then you will be able to visit the new blog instead (details later).

Here's some I made after watching DMTV with the wonderful Laura and Linda Kemshall

This is a page painted black with ink (not paint) and then bleached. It wasn't washed afterwards but left to develop. It hasn't damaged the pages, but if you have a go, take care and wear gloves as if you were cleaning the loo- it's noxious stuff.

Below: Pages from a made sketchbook. The pages were printed after watching one of Laura's videos, and I can't share the processes with you as it wouldn't be fair, but I love how this came out. I'm still cutting away at the pages and adding bits and bobs.  If it rains this afternoon, I think I may lock myself away for a couple of hours and have another crack at it.

Monoprint experiment using oil paints and Dura-Lar

(No affiliations for any products)

Some time ago I bought some sheets of Dura-Lar after watching an artist on Youtube. I didn't use it straight away as I forgot got caught in a creative whirlwind, and it got put with some other stuff in the back of The Cupboard, where I found it this morning.

I think I bought it to try drypoint, but it seems a little thin, so maybe monoprint? Who knows! 😜 Its an archival polyester film treated on both sides to accept water based mediums (in other words, you can paint on it without the paint going spotty and clumpy) and markers and inks. Its reusable, thin, see through, and cuts cleanly.

I tried it for monoprint, but it didn't come out well.  Here's the process anyway - if you want a better how-to please do join me here where I use polythene instead. It would probably suit different type of monoprint.

Here's the equipment. Oil paints, spatula for spreading paint onto the film, masking tape, a frame which acts as a mask for nice clean edges, and some shapes - I've used circle cut outs which were to hand.

You'll also need a sketchbook or paper, and something to clean your hands with - kitchen towel/baby wipes etc.

Use your spatula to spread a little paint onto a sheet of the film. I've used oils as they keep open for days which allows for mucking about a bit, but Open Acrylics would be ok too.  It's nice to be able to smudge the edges of the paint with your finger.

Unless you're an artistic genius or just know what you're doing, then I'd steer clear of ordinary acrylics as the working time is short and they dry too quickly. Caligo printing inks would be good and would stay open for days, but Akua would be too wet I think.

I went a bit mad and used 4 colours. A little ambitious for such a small area in my sketchbook.

I've used a spare mount stuck in with masking tape to hold it still.

I've lifted the sheet with the bronze coloured paint on, and gently pressed it onto the sketchbook page. I've then added some cut out circles as a mask (yes, mine are fabric, but paper would work better - they were to hand!)

 This time I've added some alizarin crimson on top of the bronze.

Then green and then black.  Like I say not a wonderous thing, but an experiment that took a few minutes and has led me off into another direction.

I think less is probably more.