The Dolly Clackett Challenge – the 3-in-1 Rock the Frock Dress

Busy Elle Bee, Design, Feature, Life

3-in-1 Rock the Frock dress #sewdollyclackett

3-in-1 Rock the Frock dress #sewdollyclackett

3-in-1 Rock the Frock dress #sewdollyclackett

Well, it took me a while, but I’ve done it! I have made a dress in the style of Dolly Clackett, which shall ever more be dubbed the 3-in-1 Rock the Frock Dress.  It was a challenge – I combined the skirt from Simplicity 2444, the bodice from Colette Patterns Lily dress and used the pocket pattern from the Cami dress by Paulice Alice.  I happen to consider the pocket pattern the best ever drafted, hence I have reused it on every skirt and dress I have made ever since. The fabric is a vintage Cath Kidston pattern in blue cotton, which I found on Ebay ages ago, and had been saving it for a special project. I reckon the occasion of a wedding a special enough :) I made the collar in a contrasting solid white cotton fabric. I’ve added a yellow polka dot grosgrain ribbon using it as a belt. I have some left over which I will use to make a head band. Why yellow? Because I thought a white belt was too obvious and using yellow was a bit more adventurous, which is in keeping with the Dolly Clackett ethos – that’s my excuse anyway, and I’m sticking to it. The dress is also fully lined, with a white cotton voile. So that’s …

  • Something old – vintage Cath Kidston print
  • Something new – a new frock
  • Something borrowed – I ‘borrowed’ the style of the dress from the 1940s
  • Something blue – the dress!

I must say I’m looking forward to wearing this number, and have already styled it up with a little navy blue cardigan and ballet shoes.  It is so nice to be able to wear a cotton dress with a skirt that can not be confused as a belt. I of course will have no chance in hell of winning a prize but it was simply lovely to take a small part in the upcoming wedding celebrations of 2 lovely creatives I have been following for a while.  Please hop on over to the flickr page and wish the happy couple Roisin and Nic all the very best. Also check out all of the beautiful outfits created in honour of Dolly Clackett.


Next on the sewing agenda – something yellow I think! hmm …

Sarah Eyton Designs - cuffs

Accessories Design Workshop Hosted by Sarah Eyton – Review

Busy Elle Bee, Design, Feature, Life

I’m still fuming about the results of Great British Sewing Bee final. I have been slightly comforted by the thought of Chinelo’s fabulously successful workshops, but I’m still fuming!

So I took myself off to the accessories design workshop yesterday afternoon, and was treated to yet another brilliant craft making opportunity. This time I created a bracelet made of felt.  Yes you read that correctly, felt.  Not your thin, low quality felt that you get for a £1 a bag at the pound shop, this is the lovely, luxurious, thick, high quality felt which apparently can no longer be sourced in the UK without great difficulty and considerable expense.

This is such a pity, because as a material, felt offers the crafter a cornucopia of uses, from jewellery, bags, accessories which compared to other fabrics offers durability and is more environmentally friendly to produce.

Sarah is another amazing designer, producing beautiful accessories which may look simple in concept, but belies the delicate detail and superb crafts(w0)manship of her designs. Her bags alone can rival any top designer accessory designer you can think of. As an avid collector of bags, I can see myself purchasing several of Sarah’s creations in the future. (If my bank manager is reading this, I am of course only joking!)

Sarah Eyton Designs - cuffs


Above: Sarah Eyton Designs Cuffs from the Frosted Collection

Picture Source:

Check out Sarah’s website for more information and her lovely shop.

The workshops are increasing in popularity, so if you can go this Easter break, make sure you book early to avoid disappointment. Click here for more information and to book your place.





The Great British Sewing Bee Farce – a disappointing finale to a disappointing series

Busy Elle Bee, Design, Feature, Life

What on earth were they thinking?

Like many, last night I watched the final of the Great British Sewing Bee on BBC 2,  cheering on my series favourite, and hoping to get some inspiration from the programme, which has been rather lacking this series.

By the end of the programme, I fell down in my chair, screaming ‘NOOOOOOOOOO” at the top of my lungs at the television in complete disbelief – Chinelo, arguably the best, most naturally gifted, most consistent contestant of the series, was beaten, by a woman who a) was too embarrassed to tell her friends about her hobby, seemingly because they were too posh to sew, and b) failed to demonstrate an original creative concept.

Yes, I may be accused of being biased – my favourite didn’t win, but in my defence, Chinelo from day one of the competition illustrated just how gifted an individual she is.  She designs and makes couture standard clothing having only picked up the art about 2 years ago. Heather, the contest winner, despite 30 years of experience, resorted to using over 20 meters of expensive fabric, to make a dress that was simply dull, finished poorly and didn’t even fit her model that well. For most people 20 meters of fabric would have made an entire wardrobe of clothes. Even one of the judges made a comment questioning how such extravagance managed to pass the budget handlers. Simply using expensive fabric does not in itself show skill and creativity, if anything it illustrates the exactly opposite.

Even the 3rd finalist was hard done by. Tamara was not a favourite of mine, but she did ably demonstrate a lot of original ideas and creative direction in her sewing.

I admit, after sleeping on this result, I am still bitterly disappointed for Chinelo, and a little annoyed at the judges.  I never understood how or even why Heather managed to get past week 5, when other, far better sewists were deemed unworthy to go forward into the next round. When Lynda was left out of the final, I literally had to fight back the tears.

Compared to last years worthy winner, who’s standard of sewing and original design concepts were far superior in my opinion than the 2 judges, encouraged many to pick up a needle and thread and start creating things with cloth. This year, we have a winner, who was too ashamed to tell her horsey set about her sewing, often talked about her fondness for a glass of gin and unlike the other finalists, never won a challenge throughout the entire series. All she did was ‘play safe’. Play safe? Some one please hand over the caffeine enriched tea, I need to stop yawning.

The BBC have really shot themselves in the foot with this one.  For years fabric crafters have tried to encourage people of all abilities and social backgrounds to sew. Last year it was so refreshing to see a lady win because of her truly amazing gifts, and not because she was a size 4, 21 year old from Chelsea. (No offence intended towards size 4, 21 year women from Chelsea.) This years winner, will not have the same effect, unless the idea is to encourage well-to-do equestrians to forgo Bond Street for Berwick Street. Somehow I don’t see that happening.

If it was just a case of an unworthy winner, I don’t think I would have felt as bad as I do. However, overall this year’s series lacked the fun and ingenuity of last year. Complaints were made about the tie-in book as it didn’t include patterns over a certain size, which considering that the average UK dress size is 16, you wonder how this could have been overlooked. This year’s tie-book is said to have addressed the majority of the concerns, but having glanced over the publication, I’m yet to be convinced it is a good buy.  After watching this year’s series I’m left wondering what is the aim – to encourage viewers to get creative with some fabric, or merely to cash-in on the ‘Great British’ tv competition concept.

Why for instance, did they not include the tie making task when there were men still left in the competition? Why was there such a heavy focus on dressmaking? Not everyone has children to make clothes or, so again, why the emphasis? And why little girl outfits and not little boys? Don’t we want more men to enjoy the craft? Surely they could have included soft furnishing making tasks like cushion covers and even soft toys. And why for goodness sakes did they insist on couture standard sewing and then award the one competitor who doesn’t have couture standard skills?

I for one am not looking forward to the 3rd series of this utterly disappointing show. Oddly enough, there is new garden competition based on the ‘Great British’ concept starting next week.  Oh dear!


Cherry blossom season in Japan

Busy Elle Bee, Design, Feature, Food, Life, Music, Photography

Cherry Blossom Season from Lauren Astir on Vimeo.

In celebration of the famous Cherry blossom season in Japan and to welcome Spring, please enjoy this lovely video by Lauren Astir on the Vimeo channel.


Jewellery Design Workshop

Jewellery Design Workshop hosted by Hayley Kruger

Busy Elle Bee, Design, Feature

Jewellery Design Workshop

Another day, another workshop, this time learning how to make a statement necklace.  I managed to make 2 pieces in the 2 hour workshop hosted by Hayley Kruger yesterday. The picture shows my second attempt, my first attempt I plan to showcase with my dress in the near future – watch this space!

As ever, the hardest part is getting started – the array of choice in beads and jewels was outstanding, and if I could, I would have happily stayed all night just making jewellery pieces.

The process is remarkably simple, I learnt new techniques in beadwork including linking chains to create necklaces.  Hayley is a remarkable jewellery designer, originally from South Africa, who not only creates collections for major fashion shows, she also teaches her craft at the London School of Jewellery.

A lovely way to spend a Thursday evening, creating statement pieces, which will hopefully drag me from the ubiquitous black urban uniform, into a colourful peacock as we enter the Spring season.

For details of more free creative workshops, check out the Triumph website.

The Edible Garden Show 2014 - logo

The Edible Garden Show 2014, Alexandra Palace – review

Busy Elle Bee, Feature, Food, Life

The Edible Garden Show 2014 - logoAfter all the hype, I was actually surprised by how small the event was but saying that, it was well organised and there was plenty of seating space, with a large area for diners. It was busy, but not to the point of nausea.  For me, the venue alone ticked all the boxes, illustrating the advantages over the terrible Earl’s Court.

The only major down side -  the Suttons stall were full of rather pricy plants, with several sales assistants, who were more interested in taking money, than helping customers with their inquires or purchases. Every time I passed the Suttons stall, all the sales assistants were in deep conversation with each other.  Not the friendly, helpful or polite impression I was expecting from one of the nations major plant and seed seller. Sadly this experience stuck out and set a negative tinge on the entire visit.

There were a good variety of talks by the likes of horticultural greats such as Pippa Greenwood, Christine Walkden and James Wong.  I was slightly disappointed with the  cookery demos, the audience sat and watched the chefs cook and then that was that!  It felt like watching a live version of a Jamie Oliver tv cookery show, without Jamie Oliver. Please can someone give Christine her own TV show, she is simply superb!

There were lovely chicken and turkey exhibits, with plenty of opportunity to seek information about how to raise your own, although I did feel a little sorry for the poor fowl being stared at all day by a bunch of strange people. I hope they will soon recover from the ordeal.

The other exhibitors were interesting, but I didn’t feel the positive or active audience engagement.  It all felt a little flat to be honest. But being fair, it was the last day of the 3 day event, and even I struggle when the clocks go forward and I miss an hour’s sleep.

Ticket prices were reasonable at £12 (£16 for two), but all in all, it didn’t  really live up to the hype of being the ultimate grow your own event.  More like an extra long edition of the Gardener’s World tv show for wannabe Tom’s and Barbara’s.

Rating 2.5 out of 5

Summay – I did consider giving a rating of 3 out of 5, but the experience I had at the Sutton stall was such a disappointment.

For more information check out

My Kate Bush Moment

Fashion illustration workshop, hosted by Louise O’Keeffe (Review)

Busy Elle Bee, Design, Feature, Life

There are few times in your life when you walk into a situation a little wary, apprehensive and quite frankly scared witless, and then having experienced the moment, walk away proud, confident and clutching a bunch of self made paintings.

Last evening I attended another of the Triumph workshops, and now I am very happy to say that I can paint! OK so I’m no Turner, but heck, Rome wasn’t built in a day.My Kate Bush Moment

Besides, if I can achieve from nought to this in under a couple of hours, give me a week and I could rival the Sistine Chapel!

The Eye Has It

The tutor for this session is the remarkably talented Louise O’Keeffe, a freelance illustrator and print designer based in London, whose website can be found here.  She is also as it turns out, a brilliant tutor.  Before this class I said I couldn’t draw for toffee. I can’t say that now :)

Louise gave the class loads of tips on how to paint with inks and craft pens, showed us great techniques, really encouraging the artistic side of our personalities.  I had a fabulous time, and can’t wait for her next class.

Check out other fabulous craft workshops at the Triumph Facebook page and book your place now! They are all free and you get to take your work home for no charge.  There aren’t many things in London you can do for free, take advantage and learn a new craft, if will change your life.

Louise is also appearing at Harvey Nics this Mothering Sunday, for more details, please click here.

Chakra Hand Block Print Skirt by Busy Elle Bee

Fabric Flower Brooch Tutorial and Chakra Hand Block Print Skirt

Busy Elle Bee, Design, Feature


Chakra Hand Block Print Skirt by Busy Elle Bee

Just a quick note about a skirt I recently made, the Chakra Hand Block Print skirt. Details can be found on my BEB Extra site.

There is also a fabric flower brooch tutorial which you can make using just fabric scraps.

And, soon there will be a post about a co-ordinating headband I made, again using left over scraps of fabric.

Well I did say I was working whilst I was away!  Stay tuned for more from the hive!

Thanks for reading.

Busy Elle Bee :)



New season, new look!

Busy Elle Bee, Design, Feature, Food, Life, Music, Photography



Yes it has been a while – well too long in fact, but I’m back  - bigger, bolder, brasher than ever! I have loads of new content and loads of things in the pipeline for your amusement and entertainment.

First up, a new look blog for the new spring season. Like it?

Second, more articles – have you checked out my latest review on Yvonne Ellen’s up-cycling work shop? If you haven’t yet, please do and make sure you don’t miss Yvonne’s next work shop.

Third, the old sewing machine has been doing over time recently – and I have a wardrobe of new clothes to showcase, so stay tuned to!

And if all that isn’t enough,  there will be new tutorials, tips and exclusives on all things creative. So make sure you visit regularly for more from Busy Elle Bee!

Thanks for reading :)

Upcycled Crockery

Up-cycling vintage crockery workshop, hosted by Yvonne Ellen (Review)

Busy Elle Bee, Design, Feature

Upcycled CrockeryHello,

Long time, no hear! I know – but I have been doing loads of interesting stuff which I will blog about in the not too distant future, I promise.  I just wanted to tell you about a great series of workshops including the fabulous Yvonne Ellen workshop, which I attended yesterday.

Maison Triumph, the rather nice under garments store, is hosting a series of workshops for creatives, innovators and creators.  They include, Fashion and textile design lead by Sindiso Khumalo, Perspex design lead by Lili Colley and Up-cycled vintage lead by Yvonne Ellen.

Yvonne Ellen is a vintage up-cycle designer whose wonderful work was recently featured in Etsy. Yvonne kindly and ably taught us newbies how to re-create some of her designs on vintage crockery.  You can see my efforts in the photo above. There are other up-cycled vintage workshops planned, and I am very tempted to go back – but maybe I will give others a chance first!  I warn you however, up-cycling vintage tea cups is very addictive.

Most of the workshops start at 6pm, and are a lovely way to spend a couple of hours learning new crafts and discussing creative business strategies with other liked minded people.  All I can say is, if you are in the area, and you’re in the craft business, you need to attend these workshops. Oh by the way, did I mention that all the workshops are free? Yes F R E E !!!!

I was surprised how quickly I relaxed and how a relatively simple process can produce such beautiful results.  I have a new string to my bow, as well as pressies for my Mum and Granny.  Incidentally, the butterfly sugar bowl in the background is going to be a candle holder with matching saucer for my Mum, and the yellow cup in the foreground is to be filled with handmade chocolates and is going straight to my Gran.  Mother’s Day 2014 sorted!  I even had time in the 2 hours to make a little treat for myself – I let you guess which one of the items above is for me.

The workshops are set to continue until June 2014, I strongly suggest you book your place as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

Check out Maison Triumph’s Facebook page for more information about the free workshops and a rather marvellous competition - Maison Triumph

and check out Yvonne Ellen’s website for more of her brilliant designs - Yvonne

Thanks for reading, see you soon :)