I’ve been crushing on varsity-style letter sweatshirts for some time, helped in no small part by this outfit worn by one of my favourite American style bloggers.
What I used
♥ plain sweatshirt (mine was from eBay, men’s size small)
♥ Cricut mini
♥ Cricut iron-on black vinyl
♥ iron and ironing board
♥ clean cloth or tea towel
♥ craft knife
1. Start by creating your design in the Cricut craft room, which is pretty easy to use: it’s just a case of dropping your letter or image onto the grid and moving round and resizing until you’re happy. I used the ‘Varsity’ font. (The eagle-eyed among you will notice my final design is different to the one above on screen. I decided to go with a different style letter in the end but the principle is the same).
Don’t forget, as I have a couple of times now, that with writing you need to flip your letters on the screen so that when you iron them on your fabric they’re the right way round.
2. Once you’re happy with your design, set the right depth, pressure and speed settings (these will be given on your vinyl). For this type of iron-on vinyl, the depth was set to 3, pressure 2 and speed medium.
3. Cut a big enough piece of vinyl and stick it, clear plastic cover side down, onto your cutting mat. Load your cutting mat into the machine.
4. When the cutting is done, peel away the excess vinyl so that – ideally – you’re left with just the design you want to use and a square of clear plastic cover. I found it quite tricky to do this – most of the time both layers of the letter came away together but if this happens it’s OK. You will see this is what happened when I did it for real.
5. Work out where you want your design to go.
6. Put your design to one side for a minute, place your tea towel over the area you want it to go on to, and iron it for 10-15 seconds to warm it up.
7. Put your design in place, and place the tea towel on top. The vinyl side should be against the material and clear plastic side nearest the iron. Start ironing, using medium pressure, covering the whole area and lifting the iron off and on, rather than sliding it around, so your design stays put. You should iron it for at least 25-30 seconds altogether.
9. Make sure your design is fully stuck, and if so you can starting peeling off the clear plastic cover. When using vinyl, as I was, you have to be a little careful separating the vinyl itself from the plastic. Cricut has special tools for this but I found a craft knife to work well in prising the layers apart to start you off.
9. Wear your sporty sweater with a statement necklace and heels!
Cricut does not seem as well known in Britain as it is in America.
I’m starting to get the hang of the machine and, as with any new craft toy, my head is brimming with ideas now. The instructions that come with the machine and products are sparse but it’s easy to find video tutorials online, on Cricut’s own site or other (mainly US-based) blogs. For me, I think it’s going to be a case of continuing to play around and try things out. I’ve already used it in a second project – some Christmas bunting – which I’ll share with you soon.
I really want to create my own wall decal in future. Some people have commented that the products are expensive – it’s about £6 for a roll of vinyl but you don’t get very much, about the size of a couple of A4 sheets.
That said, it’s a nifty little machine and it’s pretty incredible to watch it at work. It’s a fast, flexible tool that gives a neater and far more professional finish than other DIY methods (this way of transferring an image to clothing, for example).
What do you think?
Neal’s Yard is one of those brands that I buy to treat other people but rarely myself.
Passing a shop always causes me to gape in at the beautiful royal blue displays. So I jumped at the chance to go to a blogger event at the Leeds store in County Arcade.
It was really interesting to learn more about the brand. I kind of knew about its roots in Covent Garden, London but hadn’t appreciated its beginnings as a herbalist, that its products are determinedly organic, safe and ethical and that Neal’s Yard was a pioneer in natural skincare.
I also had no idea Neal’s Yard stores offered treatments. On the night, we got the chance for a taster, in the rooms above and below the ground floor shop. My neck, shoulder and head massage was divine – but over far too soon!
I’ve become a bit more aware recently of the synthetic nasties that we don’t yet really know the consequences of but that go into many of our daily beauty products regardless. So learning about Neal’s Yard’s philosophy and trying some of their deliciously scented products definitely made me think that it is well worth spending a little more for such carefully created creams and lotions.
It was lovely to catch up with some of the bloggers I’d met at the National Media Museum and meet some new ones.
Also, how stunning does Leeds’ County Arcade and Victoria Quarter look lit up for Christmas?
So it’s probably a few months off yet, but we’re beginning to think about how we might renovate the kitchen.
As I’ve said, we’re hoping to have all the upstairs rooms done by the end of this year, and are expecting to get started on the downstairs next spring, when we’ve saved up a few pennies, straightened out the house a little and had a bit of a rest.
Like the bathroom, the kitchen suffers from being small in size and stuck in the 1970s – it even has a serving hatch giving access to the dining room!
Currently we have a through lounge and dining area, with a separate kitchen. We’re planning on building a wall and knocking one down, to create a wide dining kitchen along the back of the house and a separate lounge.
All well and good, but the trouble with knocking down walls in a kitchen is you lose wall cabinet and therefore storage space. And when your kitchen is tiny anyway, well, you could have a problem if you don’t plan it properly.
We don’t have anything as luxurious as separate utility space, so we’re going to have to find room for a washing machine and a dishwasher as well as the usual essentials: sink, cooker, fridge. There’s a big back window and a door in the side of the house that we won’t be able to budge. It also has a few awkward corners and pipes.
One way or another, a lot to work round and fit in. Hence the thinking ahead!
Here’s how it looks now. Ah, the familiar brown 70s kitchen. Horrible isn’t it? Is it even worse than the blue bathroom?
I’m one of 30 bloggers taking part, and we have to create a Christmas decoration with a generous hamper of materials sent to us. We stand to win £250 in Country Baskets vouchers, plus a donation to a charity of our choice.
While we could use our own crafty bits as well, I chose not to because there was plenty to go at in the box I was given and, well, unfortunately most of my crafting supplies are still stuck in the loft after the move. However I did make good use of the cardboard box the hamper came in and the hessian inside protecting the contents!
I’ve wanted to make a festive wreath for ages, so that was the first thing that came to mind. And here’s the finished project!
US brand J Crew is just arriving on UK shores, opening its first London store this month.
With it, us Brits are beginning to take notice of its awesome First Lady, creative director Jenna Lyons.
Because of, well, all of the below, when I saw her sharing her 10 style commandments I sat up and took notice. And then I thought it only right to share them with you.
I’m always interested in blogger meets, as it’s good to meet others who share this strange pastime.
Last week I went along to one at Sheffield’s The Common Room, organised by Emma, who works for Forum Café Bars. It was a chance for her to introduce us to their six venues around South Yorkshire and the events and classes they run.
It was also an opportunity to show off The Common Room’s meaty menu. Meaty because their specialties are ribs, chicken and pork barbecued in American-style smoke pits, and because there are tons of dishes to choose from.
The menu is extensive and varied and they were clearly keen to show it off. We got to sample so much that the amount of food on the table was overwhelming at times. I’m not complaining, mind. Even after all the mains, I still managed to find room for most of a milkshake and a taste of cheesecake.
Early on we tried to log on to the wifi so we could tweet and Instagram our dinners (we are bloggers after all) and find each other in the social media world. The Common Room’s wifi name? Meat Sweats. Kind of says it all.
A couple of weeks ago – it was my birthday actually – we spent the evening at Illuminating York.
Billed as showing the medieval city “in a new light”, colourful images were projected onto some of its most iconic sites.
I enjoy going back, it’s like seeing an old friend: we lived in York a few years ago. I love its mix of old and new, tradition and vitality.
Illuminating York was quite magical at times. I like to see towns and cities diversifying their night-time culture from just catering for drinkers, and putting on events to draw in people of all ages (although it has to be said, the number of people looking at the Illuminating York artworks were outnumbered by those participating in ghost walks).
This year Illuminating York celebrated the contribution of York’s incoming communities, its Viking heritage and the 1,000 years since King Sweyn ‘Forkbeard’ of Denmark was named King of England.
Our enthusiasm for seeing everything though was hampered by our hunger, and husband’s exhaustion from working on the bathroom.
We took in a few key light shows – at Clifford’s Tower, St Helen’s Church, Jorvik Viking Centre, York Minster and the Treasurer’s House garden – before sloping off to a disappointing meal at Gourmet Burger Kitchen.
As it turns out, in terms of styling, the new bathroom doesn’t look anything like I planned it would in my musings before we moved in.
There are a few of reasons why not.
Firstly, regrettably, this is not a country cottage, Scandinavian chalet or the renovation project French barn I dream of putting a bathroom in one day.
Secondly, there are two people in our house and the other one is entitled to an opinion – especially as he’s the one doing the lion’s share of the donkey work (apologies for mixing animal metaphors).
Thirdly, sometimes it’s harder to start with a firm idea of what you want, then shop for it, than to go shopping and just go with what you like when you see it.
All three had an influence. When I asked my husband what kind of look he wanted the bathroom to have, he said (and he probably wouldn’t want me sharing this because it’s not in keeping with the masculine image) “something like a spa.” This didn’t help me visualise what was in his imagination because, as far as I knew, he’d never set foot in a spa, except when I dragged him in one briefly on our recent wedding anniversary.
While I was still semi-committed to white subway tiles on the walls, he found these in Al Murad. I can see now what he meant, and I have to agree it works. After that decision, many other things fell into place.
Things have been a little quieter on the blog over the last couple of weeks because we’ve been tackling the next major jobs on our house ‘to do’ list.
We’re aiming to get all of the upstairs done by the end of the year, so that means renovating the third and final bedroom and the bathroom.
You’ve seen the master bedroom and I would show you the smallest bedroom, destined to be the study, but it’s full of junk that has been displaced from other parts of the house that are being worked on.
Some people moan that bloggers only show the pretty parts of their houses, or themselves in full make-up and fresh from a manicure.
Well here’s our horrid bathroom, warts and all.
It’s probably been like this since 1973, when the house was built, and while everything worked fine its looks have been something of an embarrassment.
It was turquoise blue, the tiles were awful, the floor was lino and, well, the shower set-up was a little out of the ordinary. It’s also tiny but there’s not a great deal we can do about its physical size. The refurb won’t really make it big enough for the both of us, but we’re hoping that making it lighter and brighter will make it feel more spacious.
It was a Friday night and Leeds’ grand town hall was full of hundreds of the city’s most fashion-conscious people.
The DMB (Dress Me Beautiful) fashion show has been going a eight years but this was my first time. The organisers are all about supporting local, up-and-coming and recently graduated designers.
Even better, it raises money for charity. This year’s beneficiary was Bethany’s Smile, started by a 12-year-old girl whose dance school also opened the show with a Gatsby-inspired number.
The atmosphere and energy had no problem filling the huge hall and I was really impressed by the whole show, with many of the designs really capturing the imagination with their courageous style, colour and flair. There was androgynous tailoring, wearable prints, punk and sportswear influences, mixed textures – fringing, feathers, velvet and sheer fabric – and metallics nearly everywhere.
It included a competition for young designers and the unanimous winner – Mabel – will go on to be stocked by expanding Leeds designer clothes store Accent. Mabel’s green ombre dress with exposed midriff was probably my favourite design of all.
I’ll come clean now and apologise for being a bad blogger: this event took place more than three weeks ago, but I’ve been busy renovating two rooms in our house (more to come on that soon) and I took so many pictures at this show it’s taken forever to sort them out.
But here, finally, are some of the most noteworthy looks of the night.