Friday, 30 May 2014

Interview with Cat from Through A Cat's Eyes

I am super excited to welcome Cat from Through A Cat's Eyes to my humble corner of the internet. Cat is absolutely lovely, and has been blogging for well over seven years now, and I've been a reader of her blog for a very good portion of that time!! I'm so happy to call her a friend, so when she asked me to answer a few questions for her own blog (you can check it out here) I didn't want to waste this opportunity to ask her some questions too! 

Hi Cat!! Welcome to my little blog. First of all, can you describe your blog - Through A Cat's Eyes - in one sentence?

Hello! Thanks for having me. ^_^

Through A Cat's Eyes is my baby; I've had and loved it for almost 7 years now and it really is an extension of me and my personality. That's the only way I can describe it!

You've been blogging for a long time now, what are your tips to newer bloggers to stop the 'bloggers block'?

Don't force it: If you don't feel like writing a post, don't write a post. Readers can sense when you don't want to be writing so make sure you're doing it when you really want to.

Make sure you're blogging for the right reasons: I think it's really easy to start blogging with the wrong intentions now that the blogosphere is so big and popular. Please don't be one of those bloggers who are only after PR samples and money! Just be in it for the right reasons and stick at it, and I can pretty much promise that you'll do well. ^_^

Don't get bogged down with numbers: This is incredibly difficult and, to be honest, I've been guilty of getting bogged down with the numbers. Really try not to compare your blog to other people's. Just stick at it, don't get disheartened and do your own thing!

What is your favourite 'thing' (place/hobby/product/person/etc.) you have discovered through blogging?

I've made some amazing friends through blogging (Holly, Charli and Amber, I'm looking at you!!) and have just met some wonderful people in general, which is awesome. As for products, blogging has pretty much introduced me to most of what I use... I really rely on blogs to introduce me to new skin-care and make-up products and, as a beauty blogger (I don't stick to that, though), I get to try out lots of new stuff to review. It's hard to pin-point one product! Blogging has also given me an amazing hobby - my blog is my pride and joy. :D

Who are your top 5 bloggers, the ones you get routinely inspired by?

Wow, that's difficult! I read an awful lot of blogs but if I have to choose 5, I'll probably have to say Etc Llymlrs, EssieButton, LexieAlexandra, The Lovecats Inc, and...*drumroll*...Oberjean! And no, I'm not just saying that because I'm on your blog right now; I genuinely love your blog. ^_^

What do you think has changed, good and bad, about blogging, since you first started?

Pretty much everything has changed since I started blogging. When I started, blogging really wasn't a 'thing' and it definitely wasn't a trend like it is now. I'd never heard of any big bloggers or anyone who had made a career out of blogging, and the 'blogosphere' wasn't even really a developed thing yet. In a way, I miss what it used to be like: I was part of an amazing, small community of bloggers all around my age and we were all friends. There was no competition, bitterness, elitism or plagerism and, unfortunately, the blogosphere is full of that now. I've mentioned this briefly before but I really feel incredibly excluded from the blogging community now because of the elitism, even though I've been here for 7 years. opened the flood-gates! :'D

What is your favourite skin care product?

On a lighter note, my favourite skincare product is the La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo + because I honestly feel like it keeps my skin under control. Being a teenager, I have quite a few problems with my skin and I do get spots quite often but since I started using the La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo +, my skin's been behaving a bit more.

If you could go back to your past self and tell them something, what would you say?
Stop caring so much!! I used to care about what everyone thought of me way too much (I still care but no where near as much) and I would put so much pressure on myself to get the best marks in all of my classes and to never ever get in trouble...ever. There are more important things to be worrying about, when I used to think that getting sent out of PSE was the end of the world. Also, don't care so much about everyone liking you; it ain't gonna happen. 4 years ago, I would go home after school and cry because a stupid ass-hole in my year called me flat-chested. Now, I'd laugh and politely tell them where to go. Stop caring!!

If you won the lottery, would you tell anyone? And, what would your dream wardrobe end up being?

No. Instead, I would go on a shopping spree and buy stuff for all of my friends and then surprise them with a load of presents. Then I would tell them that I'd won the lottery. dream wardrobe would be really quite grungey; full of amazing vintage bomber jackets, ripped denim, band tees and muscle tanks. Then I would girly it up with some florals and silver leather (I have an amazing silver bomber jacket from the mens section in ASOS but my family refuse to leave the house with me when I wear it...) :D

What hobby / interest do you turn to whenever you are bored out of your mind? Why?

I usually play my ukulele and sing when I'm bored (or sad; it really cheers me up), or I blog. There's just something so relaxing about making music and blogging is quite comforting for me because I've done it for so long. Both of them are default hobbies for me when I'm bored.

Which book do you force people to read (in a nice way!!)?

Starter For Ten by David Nicholls! I'm obsessed with Starter For Ten - the book and the film - so I'm always nagging people to read and watch it. :'D

Go check out her blog over at Through A Cat's Eyes, you won't regret it!

Ciao and stay squiggly!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

sewing the high street: using a sewing machine

Hello!! This week's instalment is a wee bit late, and is due to my stressing out over my final deadline. This means I won't be posting a new Sewing the high street for 2 weeks so I can focus more on my deadline. I'll be going over the parts of a sewing machine, threading up and a few tips and tricks :)

sewing machine anatomy

For the most part, sewing machines tend to follow the same sort of pattern (pun intended). The past couple of decades hasn't seen much in innovation and just more changes to design and enhancement of the process of sewing. So, when you come across a sewing machine it will be pretty similar to the one I have in the photos below, just with changes to the design, positioning of buttons and dials, and how fancy it is (the one featured not being fancy, heh)!

There are a lot of stitches, even on this cheaper sewing machine, but for most people they will only really be using variations of the straight stitch, zig zag stitch (for edges) and the button hole function. Most offer dials to change the stitch but more modern ones also have digital displays or buttons that light up (woahhH). Usually 1 or A is your best bet for a simple straight stitch.

On the front of a sewing machine, along with stitch options, you will also come across ways to change the tension. My one has that option near the top left as a dial, but some have it next to the stitch options as well. You don't really need to fiddle with that, but the tension is your first port of call when your sewing machine is acting up - such as if it misses stitches or there is poor stitching.

The back will most likely have the holes for power and your foot pedal as well as an on button. In addition, the lever for the presser foot (the part which touches your fabric) tends to be at the back as well, and changes position ALL the time depending on which sewing machine you use (so don't get used to the positioning of it!).

This dial is basically how you can "manual" sew, and I find it super useful to start off stitching, press the reverse to secure the stitch and stitch forward a couple times. This is just my way of doing things to start things off slowly but most people just like to use the presser foot all the way through. 

The dial is really for making sure the needle is in the position you need it - if you need it down for turning corners or if you need it up and out of the fabric once you have finished sewing to cut the threads.

It's super important to know that you must only roll the dial towards you. That is the direction the needle goes and it can mess with the machine if you turn it away from you!

threading a sewing machine

Threading a sewing machine is always a bit fiddly but machines always have little arrow guides to show you the way to go! Follow the directions, and make sure to see if there is a little nick or hole above the needle for your thread to go in. This is so the thread goes straight down towards the tip of the needle. Then, lower the foot and try and stick your thread through the needle head for 10 minutes and then get someone else to try and watch them do it within 10 seconds (this happens way too often for my liking...)!

Once you are threaded up, now is the time for the bobbin. The bobbin is what is seen on the wrong side of fabric but in any case should be as similar a colour to your top thread as possible. In this instance I chose a different colour to make it more obvious but it shouldn't really be.

Machines are all different when it comes to which direction a bobbin must be placed in, and it's pretty important to get it right as it does not sew properly if it is in the wrong way. So make sure to check the manual for the right direction. For mine the right way is when the thread is pulled and the bobbin rolls clockwise, so I place it in with the thread popping out....

...and I hold the top stitch (shown in white) and turn the MANUAL sewing dial towards me so the needle goes down and up (one rotation). If it doesn't pick it up after one rotation go once more (it may not have been a full rotation) and that should pick up the bobbin thread. Lift the presser foot up and pull the bobbin thread up and out. Pull both threads until they are about 15cm long and lay them behind the presser foot.

actually sewing

Now it's time to actually sew! Yay! So once you are threaded up, make sure the presser foot is up and pop your material in. Before you begin sewing you must always lower the presser foot. Now, have a few goes sewing straight, turning corners, anything you fancy.

Once you've finished flick the presser foot up and pull the fabric out carefully. Leave some bits of thread on the fabric and cut it off the thread still in the machine.

There you have it! Fabric now stitched together... 

tips n tricks

Here are a few tips and tricks you will learn as you sew more and more, handily put here for your convenience!

- It's super easy to pop thread through the clip/hole above the needle if you lower the needle into the machine before you do it, and contrastingly...
- If you lower the presser foot and raise the needle using the manual sewing dial it then makes it easier to put your top thread through the tip of needle
- Use your reverse stitch (usually on front of sewing machine either above and to right of needle or a push button on front of sewing machine) at the start and finish of stitching so that it sets the stitch and it is less likely to unravel
- To turn corners, simple leave the needle in the fabric and lift the presser foot. Then turn your fabric to the direction you need, lower the foot again and continue sewing

Pressin' the reverse stitch

Those are just a few off the top of my head, the more you sew the quicker you get at it, the easier you find things and the more you find little tips and tricks to make things easier for yourself!

I hope you enjoyed this week's post!

Ciao and stay squiggly

This week I am busy with final deadlines for assessment so will not have the time to do much sewing. However as soon as the deadlines are over I'm technically into summer!! So the following week I'll actually be moving on to the garment itself and show you guys my progress. See you in 2 weeks!