Christina Sparkle

  1. Autumn Capsule Wardrobe 2014


    This is the third year in a row that I’ve done a capsule wardrobe for Autumn or Fall. It seems to be the season that I plan for the most, and I love having a capsule of items that all go together, especially for work. I know all the items go well together, and I will always look put together. This capsule has a nice variety in colour and pattern that I’m really happy with, the tricky part when creating a capsule is to make sure the outfits don’t look too samey.

    This year, instead of buying most of the items that I don’t have yet, I’ll be making them! The black pussy bow blouse in the capsule will actually be the blouse I made a few months ago. I also plan to make a white polka dot blouse, black skirt and the Breton stripe top.

    I have some white graphic dot fabric that I bought from John Lewis a while ago, I’m hoping this will work well with the Mimi blouse from Love at First Stitch, perhaps sleeveless with a black collar?

    I’m booked on the Coco course with Kitchen Table Sewing which will hopefully result in a perfect striped tshirt for me to wear during Autumn. I have picked up some jersey from a local fabric shop but it is quite thick so I’m hoping to find a more standard jersey weight while I’m in Germany this week. If not, Dragonfly Fabrics have a nice selection which have been recommended to me as excellent quality, but it is quite pricey.

    I also plan to make a black skirt but I’m not sure what pattern to use yet. I have the Delphine and Clemence skirt patterns in Love at First Stitch. I don’t think the Delphine is really my style, the Clemence skirt is a nice, easy pattern and I think in a longer length than I made last time it would be a great option. I also have Miette skirt pattern that I haven’t made yet, I bought it when Tilly Walnes was having a sale.

    One item I do need to buy is jeans. I wore out my last pair a few months ago and have been doing without. That was fine in the summer months but I definitely need a new pair for Autumn. I’ve heard good things about the Gap 1969 curvy skinny, as well as the high-rise skinny. Forever 21 jeans also seem to be a favourite for curvy girls so I plan to try those on while I’m in Berlin. I’d love a high waisted vintage-looking pair of jeans but when you have a tummy I’m not sure it’s really an option.

    Here’s my cat *helping* me with to pick items for the capsule.

    Here’s a selection of outfits that can be made using the capsule I’ve created. I made this using Polyvore and a little help from Photoshop. You can check out the Polyvore collection here, and follow me on Polyvore if you’re a member.


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  2. Shake it Off – Taylor Swift

    This is an unusual choice for me, Taylor Swift isn’t really my style but this song is so catchy – I’ve been hearing it everywhere. The lyrics are just what I need right now.

    ‘Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
    And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
    Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
    I shake it off, I shake it off

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  3. A weekend in Berlin for Two


    This week we are headed to Berlin for the fourth time in three years, but it will probably be our last for a while so I wanted to do a little series of what we did on our city break trips to Berlin for old times sake.

    This is a summary of our second trip to Berlin (but first one without friends), and this time happened to be our honeymoon!

    DURATION: 4 days 3 nights

    STAY: Circus Hotel (or the Circus Hostel opposite for smaller budgets)

    BREAKFAST: Everyday, in the hotel, honey and fruit bread. Nom, nom, nom.

    Tiki Heart – Grab a cocktail and burger with lots of sides. We have visited this restaurant every time we’ve been to Berlin, it’s probably our favourite.

    I Due Forni – Try and go on a quiet night because this place get very very busy. We had to grab someone in order to get seated, grab them again for drinks, and again to order the food. But the pizza is amazing, and the decor… the decor is all your favourite punk bands’ posters signed and graffitied on the wall.

    Hakescher Market – Go for lunch and try the awesome street food. We found a sandwich van with different sandwiches named after areas of Berlin, the Potsdam sandwich was a fave of mine with tofu, ginger and mango chutney.

    Drink lots and lots of German beer.

    Tour Bus – This is super touristy, so it might not be to everyone’s taste but we have found this to be the best way to see the major sights and get your bearings quickly whenever we are in a new city. It also leaves more time for visiting the more unusual spots. The best place to pick up a tour is at Checkpoint Charlie.

    Flea Market – On a Sunday at Mauer Park. The best way to experience this is to sleep late, visit the Flea Market for vintage clothes, handmade goodies, home bargains, and fresh fruit smoothies. Then go for Brunch on the way back at any of the cafes you will find on the walk.

    DDR Museum – Probably one of the most interactive museums you might find, you can sit in a real Travi car, and see what it was like in an East German home during communist rule. This museum is dedicated to life and culture in East Germany before the Berlin Wall came down.

    Berlin Aquarium – As well as seeing the vast array of sealife, insects and reptiles you can find out about the history of the aquarium. This includes the hall which housed a large number of crocodiles without barriers to protect the Victorian public, and the fact that the building was bombed during World War II.

    Photobooth – There lots of photobooths dotted around the city and these photos have been our favourite keep sakes from the trip. After this week we’ll have three, one from each year, in a beautiful frame with a Berlin map background. They all seem to be vintage style with black and white prints for only €2 a time.


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  4. How to: Canned Peaches + Printable Labels


    I’ve been following Visual Heart and her beautiful vintage furniture make overs for about six months. Nicole has even inspired me to tackle my own makeover on a water stained G-Plan chest of drawers that I picked up for £10. More of that soon, I hope!

    This week Nicole has posted this fab tutorial for canned peaches along with a printable label freebie too. Check it out at Visual Heart.

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  5. iPad Mini Pocket Cover

    photo 2

    Last Christmas Andy’s sister got a Kindle and we gave her a voucher to buy some Kindle books to go on it. However, I didn’t want that to be her only gift so to go with the voucher I found this sweet and easy tutorial to create a Kindle cover.

    Fast forward to this summer I wanted a cover for my iPad mini that could go in my handbag and I didn’t need to worry about it getting roughed up too much. This was also at the same time that I got a new dressmaking book and I wanted to get used to my sewing machine again. I remembered that the Kindle cover had fit my iPad in too so I made the same pattern again.

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    Turns out, I was wrong. The same pattern didn’t fit at all but luckily I had enough fabric left to measure it all properly and make a cover that fits perfectly. Using fabric from a couple of fat quarters, plus some fleece/flannel for the inside, I was able to make three whole covers. This is a great pattern to use up remnants.

    So, now I have a Kindle sized pocket going spare. If you, or anyone you know, is interested I have it up on my Etsy shop ready and waiting for a loving home.

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  6. Printable Apple Gift Boxes


    I love these printable gift boxes in the shape of apples, I especially love the detail of using a flower punch to make a bite mark in the apple. These would be so lovely for a back to school gift now that it’s September and we seem to be officially in Autumn. Some worm jelly sweets are the perfect gift to go inside.

    There are three different colours to choose from, my favourite is the pink and green – of course! Head over to Oh Happy Day! to download the design and instructions now.

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  7. Cotton Anniversary Crafting

    Last week was our second wedding anniversary and to celebrate we took a trip down to London to the V&A for lunch and to see the wedding dress exhibition. Gwen Stefani’s wedding dress is so amazing to see in person, so unique and the details are fantastic. I recommend the exhbition to anyone, such a beautiful collection.

    While in London we also had dinner at Cantina Laredo in Covent Garden which was fantastic, when you arrive at your table there is a silver bowl with an avacado and lime in it so they can make fresh guacamole at your table! The service was very quick, I had a red berry smoothie while we shared nachos and salsa, then Vegetarian Tacos with Green Rice and Calabacitas on the side. To finish up we shared Cinnamon Churros with a chilli chocolate dip, Andy’s favourite.

    I’m loving the fact that London is so close now. We were home by 9.30 after dinner and then I drove up to Nottingham the next day for work.

    Before we set off to London we exchanged gifts… I had crafted this cross-stitch portrait of our little family, and made Andy a pair of cotton Pyjama bottoms.


    I drafted my own pattern for the portrait taking inspiration from other cross stitch people on Pinterest. I chose a polo shirt for Andy, and gold shoes for me. The kitties were fun to do too. I think perhaps it needs our wedding date underneath? I love the overall effect though, very us.


    The fabric from the pyjamas was from CallyCo in Cambridge – I was in search of something with cats on but this one really caught my eye instead. Can you spot where I accidentally rolled my rotary cutter over the fabric? I hope not! That caused much pouting and Googling of how to patch a hole, but the holes are almost invisible now so nevermind. I forgot to put some elastic in the waist before I gave them to Andy, but that was probably for the best because I needed to measure them anyway, since this photo was taken elastic is now in place.

    In exchange Andy gave me this amazing embroidered art. I can’t deny that I left some heavy hints about this one but it turned out so much better than I hoped for. It includes our kitties, and the dress is made from the remnants of my actual wedding dress! The bunting is also made with remnants from the cushions I made for the chairs at the wedding. Love, love, love it.


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  8. Cotton Anniversary Ideas


    Today is our second wedding anniversary! Woohoo! That means almost 9 years in total. Wowzers. Second wedding anniversary is considered the cotton anniversary so here’s some of the things I’ve been considering as a cotton anniversary gift. Cotton seems like the perfect excuse for a DIY or craft gift, I tried to combine that idea with Andy’s love for maps and my love for initials/type which resulted in lots of ideas to choose from.

    1 Cotton Candy necklace // 2 Cross stitch portrait // 3 Map fabric // 4 Embroidered art // 5 Personalised cushion cover // 6 Embroidered map hoops

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  9. What to do with your wedding stuff after your wedding


    This coming week is our second wedding anniversary which means our wedding was, like, AGES AGO, and I really should stop going on about it now but there are a few of things I wasn’t able to find advice on anywhere else on the interwebs that I thought I might share my advice for. Number one being what to do with all the wedding paraphanalia after the wedding.

    Once the big day was over we had a couple of big boxes of leftovers (as well as all the glorious photos from family/friends and the official photographer). This included: a bag full of ribbons from our backdrops; scraps of fabric from my dress and the bridesmaids dresses; all the lovely notes and cards people sent us;  all of the left over favours, menu cards and order of service cards; chalk boards and frames and way way more.

    These were all things we had crafted ourselves especially for the wedding, they were the tangible elements to the whole day. I didn’t want to throw them away, but also I didn’t want them to stay stuck in a box to be forgotton forever. So, here’s what we did with some of them:

    1. Give away framed photos as gifts

    Our wedding was at the end of August, we got our photos back about a 8 weeks later, just in time to print them for Christmas. Now, we were aware that this could be seen as the biggest ego trip ever but we tried to be a little balanced and chose to give photo gifts to only our close family members who we were pretty confident would have liked a nice set of photos from the day.

    We gave framed photos as Christmas gifts to our parents and grandparents, alongside more personal gifts and in all situations we gave one large photo which featured the gift reciever (e.g. Grandparents got a whole family photo with uncles, aunties, cousins and all) and a smaller photo of just Andy and I. My mum actually felt that two wasn’t enough and ended up with about 10 photos. We also gave Andy’s parents access to all of the digital photo files so they could print as many as they would like for themselves. Perhaps we underestimated how many photos our family really wanted?

    We bought the frames inexpensively from Ikea. I always buy white frames for everything because I think a frame should be almost invisible to let the photgraphy or art shine out. These frames have just enough detail to be cute, but not too ornate.


    2. Make a scrapbook

    What better way to keep all of the cards and guest notes than in a scrapbook? I tried to fit all of the cards in the scrapbook but there were just too many to keep the scrapbook in decent shape so I created a wedding card book (with ribbon from the backdrops) for all of the cards that couldn’t fit. Now we have a lovely way to save the cards and notes forever.

    Our scrapbook also features all of the printed material I designed for the wedding including save the date cards, invitations, orders of service and menu cards. I’ve ordered them in the scrapbook as you would receive them and included the envelopes and paper bags to try and display them as our guests would have seen them.

    Once the wedding stuff was all in Andy used the rest of the scrapbook pages for our honeymoon. There are plane tickets, Ubahn tickets, museum tickets and more to document everything we got up to in Berlin.


    3. Frame original artwork

    All of the printed material I designed for the wedding featured a beautiful illustration of Andy and I by my talented wifey Taynee Tinsley. I printed this out onto card and it makes a stunning, personalised artwork for our walls.

    I’m really big on personalised artwork in the home. Of course, it doesn’t have to be images ourselves, but concert posters, DIY artwork and crafts all make lovely additions to a home and make sure we look after them very carefully because they are so personal.


    4. Frame anything else you possibly can

    Continuing on the personalised artwork, I also framed a scrap of the patterned fabric that the bridesmaids wore (pink and green, of course!) and the button badges that we had as favours for our guests. These haven’t made it up onto the wall yet, I just need to find the right house with the right nook for them but I’m happy to keep them until then.

    I also wanted to frame the scrabble tiles that Andy had on his cufflinks but unfortunately one went missing – I’m hoping to pick up a replacement when I can at a charity shop or vintage fair, one day!


    5. Make a sillhouette

    This idea I found in the Young House Love book that Andy bought for me the Christmas after our wedding. The book offers instructions to do this with paper and scissors but I went with the second option to make it in Photoshop. I’m sure most people could do a better job then I have but hopefully you get the idea!

    The original photo was taken by our friend Sandra at the ceremony. She was able to shoot a different perspective while our official photographer was at the front for our first kiss as a married couple. It makes the perfect shot for a silhouette image, and another personalised artwork for our wall.


    6. Print a wedding album

    Yes, this is quite obvious, but in fact we didn’t do this till over a year after our wedding. I think we were still recovering physically, mentally and financially and time just flew by. Having all the photos as digital files also meant we were quite spoiled and barely noticed that we didn’t have a physical copy.

    A friend recommended Albelli‘s website who produce beautiful photo books. I downloaded the app and spent a week of evenings choosing from the layouts that Albelli provide to produce awesome results.

    We have kept a large version of the album for best, along with our scrapbook and other keepsakes. Again, we gave smaller versions to parents and grandparents, my sister even asked for her own copy which I wasn’t expecting (‘m sure she has probably drawn mustaches on all the photos). I also have a small version for myself to pop in my bag if I happen to visit friends or relatives that we haven’t seen since the big day. People still ask to see photos now, after almost two years.



    Why did I not think of this before? I love this so much! Any photos that you have in a succession will all make the perfect animation such as the first kiss, walking away, bouquet toss (do people still do that?). I used Photoshop’s Animation panel in frame view because I’m old and for me that is the easiest way I know to make animated gifs.

    Can you spot the moment when Andy’s mum puts confetti down my cleavage?!



    All of these ideas have really helped to make sure the small details of our wedding won’t be forgotton. I love seeing our personalised artwork around the house and knowing we have some beautiful keepsakes forever.

    Of course, we do still have lots more things we could be doing something with. I gave one of the ribbon backdrops to Taynee for her kiddies to play with, and I’m sure I should have those beautiful chalk signs up on my walls. Here’s some more ideas that I haven’t done yet: make a ribbon canopy over our bed, make ribbon artwork, turn our wedding song or reading into personalised art.

    I’m really interested in doing something with the remainder of my wedding dress fabric but I’m not sure what yet. Perhaps a blouse? In fact, as have started dressmaking recently perhaps that’s not such a pie in the sky idea…

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  10. Wardrobe remake: day dress


    This week I have remade one of my wardrobe favourites, a go-to dress for so many occasions. I bought the original dress in New Look, for about £15 last summer just before a trip to Berlin and I intended to use it as summer dress. In reality I have worn it for parties, to work and so many days at home working at my computer. It is comfortable, easy to wear and a very flexible piece in my wardrobe. Unfortunately, it is also has pilling, it is cheaply made (the facing refuses to stay put), it is too tight across the bust and it is too short – there is no way I could wear it without leggings, it constantly rides up when I’m sat down.

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    A couple of weeks ago my Granny picked up this fabric for me from The Fabric Guild in Leicester. I’m not sure what fabric it is exactly but it is medium weight and has some stretch to it which hopefully means it will be comfortable to wear.

    I set to use the fabric to make a replacement for a dress, and to hopefully find success when making a Megan dress from Love at First Stitch. I have tried to make a Megan dress before, but it’s too big and I want to adjust it. Hopefully making the new one to the right size will help me to adjust the first one I made.

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    I also decided to make this new dress with a lining to improve the quality, and hopefully the longevity. Basically, I made two dresses – one in the patterned fabric, and one in a lining fabric. I used a few Youtube videos to help with the sewing together of the two dresses, in the end I have joined the dresses at the sleeves, neckline and along the back seam. It did take a few attempts to get this right, especially as the lining fabric would get caught up in the machine but the result feels great.I even managed to sew the seam allowances to the lining help make sure that the lining doesn’t show when it is worn.

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    I made the skirt in a size smaller than the top in order to better fit my measurements. The stretch of the fabric meant that with a few extra pins I was able to stretch the skirt pieces slightly to meet the bust pieces. This has definitely produced a better quality dress with a much better shape and length for me. I still have some bagginess at my chest so I might try to create some darts at the neckline like the original. I’ve worn it once so far and got lots of compliments. I’m not sure it will replace the original for flexibility, the lining and longer length makes it feel a lot more formal, but I am super happy with the result and love the fact that I’ve been able to recreate one of my wardrobe favourites.