Sunday, 1 December 2013

Mini Advent Stockings!

I'm aware that today is 1st December, aka the first day of Advent. But I've been so busy - had a wonderful time at Lewes Artists and Makers yesterday - that I didn't get round to preparing anything. If only I'd spent less time researching blogs and Pinterest and more time making! But I woke up this morning and gave myself a good talking to. I realised that I don't have to make 24 of something for today...just the first one! So I quickly made myself a miniature stocking template (find it here) and whipped this up by cutting out two pieces of stocking shaped fabric as per pattern.  (Don't forget to do opposite shapes for the front and back if your fabric has a right side)  I used fusible interfacing prior to cutting on one side of the fabric as it stiffens it up and it also means you can just draw straight round the template and then cut.  I folded over the top edge (just once, but you could do it twice) with a 5mm seam allowance and stitched.  On the back piece a stitched a folded piece of ricrac about 1 cm in from the back edge of the stocking so that it can be hung up.  I used bondaweb on the back of coloured felt and cut out a number 1 and then ironed it to the front piece of the stocking.  I then placed the fabric right sides together and stitched round the outside using a 5mm, leaving the top edge open.  Using pinking shears I trimmed the edges - the interfacing also means the raw edges won't fray so is perfect for this quick project.  Turn the little stocking inside out and you should have a cute little stocking to hang on the mantelpiece or somewhere equally as festive!  Now repeat 23 times!

I bought the fabric especially a while ago. I was also able to do tomorrow's stocking. When we were younger my mum made some very similar stockings (another idea pinched from her, despite the hours on Pinterest!) and every morning a new stocking would appear with a little goodie inside - a toy, choc or other treat! Jola is still a bit little to get it, so I figure I can use this year to make the advent stockings and start the treat bit next year. I'm so pleased I realised it wasn't too late! And there are still a few hours of the 1st left, for anyone who's feeling as disappointed as I was with myself this morning!

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Wintery Knit Knit

I'm not a very fast knitter. It was probably my first craft, but it is not my craft of choice! I love hand knitted items and would love to improve. My mum's one of those casual, chatting, watching TV, super fast knitters, whipping up a little cardi in a couple of evenings.  I've tried doing it without looking, for about 10 seconds, but I may as well look for all the concentration and teeth gritting it takes!

Anyway, I decided to attempt a hooded cardigan for my little girl. I took great pleasure in searching Ravelry (where I could lose hours!) for a suitable pattern. Found a good one here

But I started knitting it about 9 months ago, for age 18-24 months.  She's now 26 months and it's not finished.  I got up to the hood and abandoned the plan.  I decided to convert the hood into a little bonnet.  And here's the result!...


For the last 8 rows I added 30 stitches on each end and changed to a rib stitch to shape it round the face and allow it to be tied under the chin.  I then folded it in half and stitched the back seam.  I'm also planning on putting a popper on the strap so it's secure.  Oh, and I made a pompom for the top.  It's a little small, naturally, and isn't quite shaped right.  But I'm pleased with it and it looks so cute!

There are proper patterns available - like this one - so sweet!  A much more realistic goal for a non-speedy knitter like me!

Monday, 16 September 2013

Moose Maple Butter

As a family, we're pretty into moose. And maple syrup. And butter. So imagine my delight when Farrah got in touch to ask if I'd like to try a new product called Moose Maple Butter! She promised me that it's the perfect accompaniment to my American Pancakes, and she wasn't wrong! 

I just slathered it on in a manner that would make Nigella proud. It's not hugely strong on the maple front, but my husband and I agreed that this wasn't necessarily a bad thing as it didn't taste as sugary and sickly as a big glug of syrup can sometimes. It was just right. And it looks like they've worked hard on achieving that exact balance.  It's also worth noting that there are no additives or other nasties in it - just natural maple syrup, organic butter and a pinch of sea salt. (Nutritional info can be found on the website). And I've got enough left to try it on some warm crusty bread next, as recommended by Farrah.  Can't wait!

Moose Maple Butter is being launched in the UK in November - you can find more details here. I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for details of stockists.  

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Cuckmere Haven

The last time I went to Cuckmere Haven was a painful mid-break up outing when I was desperate to prove we could 'still be friends'. That story does have a happy ending; he is now Mr Big Tree Little Moose, but certainly not as a result of that little trip!  Anyway, I've been wanting to erase that 'last time' memory for the last 8 years, so when my mum suggested going together last weekend I jumped at the chance. As a family we've always referred to it as 'Seven Sisters' but I think that's actually the name for the park above the cliffs. Cuckmere Haven (or Valley) is the estuary bit you walk through to get to the beach. I'm pretty sure Birling Gap fits in there somewhere too, but I'm not sure where!

We got there just before 11am and parking was easy, even for a sunny bank holiday. Glad we arrived at that time though, because when we returned to our car a few hours later the car park was mayhem! Cost of parking seems reasonable at £3.50 for the day. Although it's slightly frustrating that we didn't get it free with National Trust membership; although much of the country park is NT the car park is not. 

It was so lovely to be able to take the dog, Otter. She absolutely loved it! And fortunately there were no grazing sheep in the areas we were walking so she could run freely most of the time. It's worth knowing that there are no dog poo bins on the walk to the beach; the nearest one is by the car park. And dogs on leads on the beach May to September. 

Our little toddler's greatest pleasure is running. And here she could run! The paths are far enough away from the river that she wasn't going to trip and fall in. She would have run the entire mile route to the beach but at one point we put her in the pushchair for a forced break! We took the park trail down to the beach, as opposed to the beach trail, as it was so much quieter and gets you to pretty much the same place!

Once at the beach we settled down for a picnic but a ridiculously crazy amount of teeny tiny flies forced us to relocate backwards onto a grassy spot just before the beach. Which was equally as beautiful. 

The walk back felt quite long! Little J did more running. By this time the route was busy with visitors so I'm glad we came at an earlier time. 

It's such a happy family place for me, full of great memories of cycling, climbing trees, exploring old war bunkers, collecting stones, sea swimming, searching for fossils in the cliffs and more. I'm glad I've been able to take my mind back to those memories, and start making new ones of our own. 

Bluebell Railway

I thought I published this weeks ago but I've just found it in my draft box! Oops! But I imagine that this would be a perfect crisp winter day activity so I'll post it now - just make sure you check the timetable in case it changes during the winter. 

My mother-in-law recently took us all out to the Bluebell Railway as a birthday treat for little J.  Can you believe she's 2!!??  Crazy.  Anyway, it was wonderful.  (Although I'm glad it was her treat as it is quite expensive unless you go off-peak!)  We arrived a few minutes later than planned and missed our train.  The next one wasn't for over an hour.  Argh!  Make sure you check the train times before setting off!  But our dread of trying to keep 2 toddlers entertained for an hour fairly quickly turned around as we realised what was going on at the station.  There's a souvenir shop that has Brio train sets ready to be played with.  There's a cafe for coffee and snacks.  And then there are the trains!  Plenty to see up and down the platform and quite a few chugging through.  We were even allowed to get on an engine with the driver and see them stoke the fire.  You can purchase station-only tickets at a fraction of the price and I would definitely consider that in the future.

Little J and her cousin loved it all.  If I'm honest we probably didn't need to go as far on the train as we did as once it was moving the girls sort of lost interest - you're on the train so you can't see it!  I think they're a bit young for that bit.  But there are a few stops on the line so you don't have to sit on the train for hours.  We stopped off for a picnic and then got back on the train as it headed back.

We all commented on how lovely the staff at the station seemed.  They must all be passionate about their trains!  And the stations and trains are beautiful.  It was absolutely delightful and we've got such special memories and photos of the day.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

American Pancakes

My brother Christophe lives in Alberta, Canada and whenever we go and visit they have that lovely weekend ritual of big family breakfasts with pancakes, bacon, maple syrup, blueberries, bananas, strawberries, whipped cream, fresh juice and hot delicious coffee.  We love it so much we try and do it as often as we can, and since we now have our own little family it's a lovely occasion for us, and an extra opportunity to invite people round.

I've got a recipe written in my binder and I'm not sure where I got it, but it's pretty similar to the BBC Food version, and as that's the first one that comes up on Google search I imagine that's where it's from.  But I tend to do it from memory and they turn out well, so that's what I'm going to do here.

This serves 2 adults and one very cheeky little monkey; about 9 pancakes.  We normally double up if we've got guests.

- 50g butter - cooled & melted (I normally melt this first whilst sorting the rest out so it has time to cool and doesn't cook the egg)
- 1 egg
- 130g plain flour
- 2 tablespoons of sugar (I like to use golden caster sugar)
- 135ml milk
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- pinch of salt
- extra butter for greasing pan

1.  Whilst the butter is cooling, whisk the egg and the milk together.  I melt the butter in the pan that I'm going to use to make the pancakes so that for the first batch I don't need to re-grease as it'll have some butter residue on it.

2.  In a separate bowl mix together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.  I think technically you should sieve the flour but I never bother and it's always fine!  But I suppose I should say sieve the flour, in case your flour is particularly clumpy.

3.  Pour the butter into the milk/egg and mix together.

4.  Pour the milk/egg/butter mixture into the flour etc, gently stirring constantly until mixed together.  It's the right consistency if you take a spoonful of the mixture and from about 6 inches up drizzle it back into the bowl.  If it sits on top of the rest of the batter and very slowly eases back into the mix then it should be fine.  If it's too runny add some more flour.  If it's too thick add some more milk.

5.  I like to let the batter sit for a few minutes before using it.  I think there's a technical reason for this but I'm not sure what it is.  Something to do with air bubbles?!

6.  If you have one, turn the extractor fan on.  Hot buttery pans can be a bit smokey and doing it now avoids that stable-door-bolting-horse type scenario.

7.  Get your frying pan (hopefully one for pancakes or one with low sides).  Make sure it's greased with butter for each round of pancakes.  Place on a medium heat - allow the pan to warm up.  My pan allows me to cook 3 pancakes at once.

8.  Using a large serving spoon to drop the batter into the pan will give you a good sized pancake.  Just dump it in one spot; avoid the temptation to drizzle it around.  If it's a good consistency it should spread itself slightly - aim for about 10cm in diameter.  Cook for a couple of minutes - when one or two little bubble holes appear through the batter it usually means it's time to flip them.  You can also tell how much they've cooked through by looking at the side of the pancake.  Turn over with a spatula.

9.  Cook on the other side for a minute or so.

10.  Remove from the pan.  Repeat until all the batter is used up.  You should be able to make 9 or 10 pancakes.

Serve with anything you fancy!  Maple syrup and bacon is my fave.  Be sure to invest in some proper maple syrup and don't be fooled by the cheaper maple flavoured syrup.  You can also plop a handful of blueberries into the mixture before frying your pancakes for a burst of fruity deliciousness; they are lovely on their own or with syrup and fruit.  All very yum!

Friday, 26 July 2013

Queen's Park, Brighton

Before moving to Lewes 2 years ago, I spent the previous 5 years living in houses in the Queen's Park/Hanover area of Brighton.  I've spent many sunny, and not-so-sunny, days in Queen's Park - meeting friends, walking the dog, barbecuing, drinking cider, sledging in the snow.  But it's only since going there with my toddler that I've fully appreciated all it has to offer.  Here's a quick run through:

Table tennis tables.  Obviously for quite a specific target audience.  My husband definitely sits in that bracket and was very excited to discover these.

A very extensive kids' playground with something suitable for pretty much every age.  I'm talking zip wires, sand pits, at least 4 different size slides, big wooden climbing frames, little boat shaped climbing frames, all sorts of swings, trains to sit in and climb on, water and sand games - and spread out over a huge area, which means the little ones don't get trampled on by the big ones.  Much.  Here's Jola running as fast as her little legs would carry her when she clocked the fun to be had:

There's also a little cafe and plenty of picnic tables, but I couldn't tell anything much about the food as we didn't have any.  And likewise with the toilet block, but at least there is one.

There is a large duck pond too.  Just be careful with little ones as it's unfenced.  And not really that many ducks.  A couple of geese and then mainly seagulls.  But my little one doesn't yet know the difference between a duck and a seagull so she's happy!

This is now the third time we've made the journey into Brighton for the specific purpose of going to Queen's Park.  It's ace!  On one previous occasion East Sussex Fire Service were there with one of their engines for the children to explore.  We've also been there for little J to leg it about and then have a nap in the pushchair as we walk into town and hit the shops, without feeling guilty about it not being fun for her.  The Hanover area is largely free parking too (although not the immediate roads around the park), so useful if you're going to be a while and don't mind a short walk and the hill.

A quick word of warning: whilst we were seated on a bench happily munching on sausage rolls a seagull swooped down and grabbed the sausage roll out of my husband's hand!  Beware!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

The beach at Seaford

Since Jola was about 12 weeks old I've been a bit of a stickler for the bedtime routine. Last week I was talking to a friend on the phone after I'd put Jola to bed and she said that she was just getting her babies ready and then going to the beach for an icecream. I couldn't believe it - she was going out at 7:45! I was inspired! So a couple of days later after teatime, which always happens at 5:30, instead of getting ready for bathtime, which always happens at 6:15, we got in the car and drove down to the seaside. We only live up the road but I've never been to Seaford beach. We went to the Bishopstone end which has pedestrian walkways, ice cream, a little cafe and fish and chips. It was wonderful and I highly recommend breaking out of that routine!

Granted we probably did pay for it with a terrible night sleep but it was definitely worth it. 

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Emergency Icecreams

Knew it was going to be a scorcher but had no appropriate supplies for cool eating. Saw this on Pinterest recently and tried it out today. Brilliant!

Friday, 19 July 2013

Crafty Coasters

I made a bunch of these as Christmas presents last year and I think they fit that old cliché of simple yet effective. Choosing fabrics for particular friends can really make them more than just coasters.  My friend Rae recently acquired a new poodle and a new house, so I made a set of 4 French poodle inspired coasters for her new abode.

For each coaster you will need:
- a piece of fabric measuring 4.5" x 11"
- a piece of medium weight wadding measuring 4.5" x 4.25"
- the usual gear: pins, threads, sewing machine, scissors...

1) Cut your fabric so that you have 2 pieces each measuring 4.5" x 5.5".

2) Place your fabric and wadding in the following order: wadding, fabric right side up, fabric right side down (see photo).

3) Your piece of wadding needs to be lined up against 3 edges of your fabric.  Pin and sew around 3 edges using a 1/4" seam allowance, starting on the long edge furthest away from where your wadding is placed.  This will leave one seam open.

4) Trim corners and sewn edges.

5) Turn inside out, poke out your corners and press.  Tuck in the open edge of your coaster about 1" - measure your coaster to make sure it's square; it should be 4" square.  Press and pin.

6) You will now top stitch the coaster in a right-angled spiral.  I usually start this on the edge of the coaster before your still open seam, rather than on the open seamed edge.  Place your needle 1/4" in from the edge of the seam you'll be following, but right at the end of the coaster.  Hopefully this diagram of the spiral will help as this is the pattern your top stitch should follow:

7) Stop sewing when you're 1/4" away from the next edge - for the first 3 lines this will be the end of the coaster, but from then on you'll stop sewing 1/4" away from your previous line of top stitch.  Make sure the needle is down, lift the sewing machine foot, turn your work 90° anticlockwise, put the foot down and sew another straight line until you get 1/4" from the opposite edge or a previously sewn seam.  You will repeat this action again and again until you have spiraled into the centre of the coaster.  Do a couple of reverse stitches when you've finished to secure the thread. 

I hope this makes sense!

8)  I usually trim the threads in the centre of the coaster and knot the tails at the start of the top stitch before trimming.

Your coaster is finished!  These work as lovely gifts in packs of 4, so repeat the whole lot 4 times to complete your set!  If you're feeling super crafty you could make some matching placemats by hopping over to this tutorial by Chloe at Gannet and Parrot.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Moules Frites aux Sœurs

I apologise if that is bad French!  I'm half French, yet those prepositions and contractions still confuse me!

Anyway...after a wonderful trip to the seaside in France a couple of weeks ago, my sister and I decided that we could definitely make our own Moules Marinière and we definitely didn't need to fall into the tourist trap and pay for a ridiculously overpriced meal.  We hastily and over-excitedly bought 2 kilos of local and very fresh mussels.  That is an awful lot of moules for 3 people, but I didn't really know how to get the fishmonger's attention and get him to stop filling the bag!

Both my sister and I assumed that the other was a dab hand at preparing this particular meal.  We get home:
     "So, what do we do?"
     "What?!  I don't know, I thought you knew!"

Uh oh.  We scoured the shelves and found a couple of old French recipe books.  Neither of which contained the right instructions.  We've both eaten moules marinière a few times in our lives so we just decided to take a stab at it!  And it turned out pretty tasty, so I thought I'd share what we did here in case anyone else finds themselves in a similar situation.

This 'recette' is for 2 kilos of mussels.  This could easily feed 4 - 6 people.

2 kg of clean Mussels 
6 bulbs of some spring onions we'd used in a salad the day before - or try shallots, chopped
4 gloves of garlic, finely chopped
1.5 glasses of white wine - make sure it's a tasty one so you can enjoy a few glasses with your meal.  Or drink the whole lot whilst cooking and find something else suitable for dinner.  Of course we didn't do that.
A couple of large knobs of butter
A splash of olive oil
A large handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
A pinch of salt and pepper
A load of potatoes chopped up into chips
We suspect that at some point your supposed to put some cream in.  However a) we didn't have any cream, and b) we weren't sure when to put it in.  So we decided to omit it.
Before tackling the mussels, my sister used a deep fat fryer to start the chips.  On a medium heat deep fry the chips for about 6 minutes.  Remove from fryer and set aside.  Then turn up the heat as much as possible.  While the oil is heating up prepare the mussels.

1.  Find a saucepan large enough for your mussels.  Splash oil in pan, add butter, and place over a medium heat.

2.  Once butter has started to melt chuck in chopped onions/shallots and garlic and allow to soften, moving it about with a wooden spoon occasionally to prevent sticking and burning.  Make sure your pan doesn't get to hot.

3.  When the onions and garlic are nice and soft place all the mussels in the pan.  Throw over the wine, some salt and pepper, turn up the heat a bit and put the lid on.

4.  Leave the mussels to steam for about 5 minutes.  When the mussels have opened remove from the heat.  We were fortunate enough to have a glass topped pan so we could judge by our eyes rather than time, but I reckon 5 minutes will do it.  

5.  Now carefully put the chips back in the fryer for another 3 minutes.

6.  Sprinkle the parsley over the mussels, give it a stir and then place the contents of the pan in a lovely serving dish.  And serve.

7.  Remove the chips from the fryer, give them a good shake.  And serve.

Et voilà!  Bon appétit!  They were wonderful - you could tell they were fresh and hadn't travelled far.  None of that weird chewiness where you resort to an open-jawed, no biting, weak smile to convey delight and maturity of your taste buds!

Remember - don't eat the mussels that haven't opened.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Un Petit Round Up

As a fairly new blogger on holiday I soon felt a little ill-prepared.  I really should have put something in place for whilst I was on away so that there wasn't a massive gap between posts.  But alas I didn't.  So in lieu of preparation I thought I'd give you a little round up of what we've been up to so you know I haven't just abandoned the blog.

My parents have a lovely house in a tiny hamlet called Goupilleau du Pinier on the border of the Loire-Atlantique and the Vendée regions of France.  There are only about 5 houses in the hamlet, the others inhabited by friendly French folk with fabulous French names like Didier, Catherine, Pierre and Loulou.  It was a perfect place to holiday with a little one - not too far to drive but far enough that you feel 'away' and the weather to be better, amazingly tranquil but only a short drive to towns, beaches, markets and other holiday delights.  If anyone is interested in staying there then send me a message and I'll put you in touch with my mum.

My parents' house at Goupilleau du Pinier - the perfect place for a relaxing holiday!
And here are some of my highlights...

Moules Frites - fresh local mussels with proper chips.  Deelish!  Will write about this more soon.

Family bike riding in St Jean de Monts.  I chose to ignore the little voice in my head that was saying, "Really?! A toddler on the front of the bike with no safety apparatus!?" and away we sped!

He read a whole book!  This is unheard of for a man who barely wants to sit still let alone read.  My dreams of a lazy beach holiday have been reborn!

For the last 5 years or so I've had my eye on some amazing green Mary Janes in a baby shop in Brighton.  You're right - my little girl isn't even 2 yet, but since I started popping in for presents I've had them in mind for my own little one.  When the time finally came it turned out they cost a fortune and my little girl's feet were too wide.  Imagine my delight when I came across these in a French shoe shop in the sale and just what I wanted!  You may curse me for saying this but I'm a little bit gutted that it's too warm for her to wear them straight away!

There's something really special about eating fruit straight from the tree and our first cherry picking experience didn't disappoint.  So tasty!  

I've got so many happy childhood memories of visiting Mont St. Michel; I really wanted to show Ben and Jola and start making our own memories.  We were a little disappointed to discover that you now have to park on the mainland and take shuttle buses to and from the island, which we didn't think would work with our brief visit.  I managed to persuade Ben that it'd be worth it, even if we could only stay 20 minutes.  Fortunately they both loved it!  Ben loved the Diagon Alley-esque magic of the narrow streets and tiny staircases, and Jola just loved the bus!

And now back to normality!  I'm so happy that we've come back to some lovely sunshine!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Friday's Challenge

Not only do I have a chest of drawers full of scrap fabric, I also have an old wicker chest full of larger pieces of fabric that I'm not sure what to do with.  They are either ugly or an odd texture or old clothes or just don't really have an obvious purpose for any of my current projects.  Think upholstery samples, worn out clothes, old curtains, that sort of thing.

So yesterday I set myself the challenge of coming up with one or two projects using an old pair of my jean's and one of Ben's unwanted shirts.

Mission accomplished!

I've been meaning to try this shirt-to-dress idea for ages...and I've finally done it!
To find out how to transform an old shirt into a pretty little frock you can check out my tutorial here.

And I used a small square of my old jeans, along with some other fabric and wadding, to make this pot holder / oven mitt.  You can see what I did here.

Square Hot Pot Holder

The other part of my Friday Challenge was to make something using an old pair of jeans.  This is what I came up with...

1.  OK, so this first bit has nothing to do with my old jeans!  Cut a square of cotton 9 inches by 9 inches.  I had a few scraps of this tea cup fabric left over from some coasters that I made for Christmas presents last year so I stitched them together to get my square.

2.  Cut an 9" x 9" square from your old jeans.

3.  You'll also need an 9" x 9" square in heavy duty wadding.  If you haven't got the really thick stuff you could also use a couple of layers of less weighty wadding.  I got mine from Fabricland in Brighton and I've been assured that it is 'combustion-modified', which basically means it won't burst into flames.  Pretty crucial for an oven mitt.

4.  Once you have these 3 squares layer them as follows: wadding, cotton fabric right side up, denim square right side down.  Pin.  Using a 1/2 inch seam allowance stitch 3 sides of the square.

5.  Trim corners and seams and turn inside out.  Press.

6.  Turn the open seam inwards half an inch, press and pin.  In one corner I tucked in a folded piece of 1 inch wide fabric braid to form a hook.

7.  Once pinned in place top stitch around the whole of the square about 5mm in from the edge.  This will close up the open seam and hold the tag in place.

The dress formerly known as daddy's shirt!

And yes - don't worry - daddy did know about it!

What's great about this is that most of the hard work has already been done!

1.  Find a dress that fits your little one.  You will use this as your stencil for the outline of the dress. 

2.  Place this dress on top of the shirt - lining up the collar/neck line.  Using tailor's chalk draw the outline of the dress on the shirt.  Be sure to make it wide enough around the waist, bottom and skirt.  Mine could have done with being a bit wider as the orange dress is made in a much stretchier fabric.  I realised too late!

3.  Being sure to add a seam allowance, cut out the shape of the dress in the shirt.  I'm going to use a french seam which will require twice the amount of usual seam allowance for your side seams (not the arm holes).

4.  Pin and stitch the side seams of the dress.

I've used a french seam here.  This is neater and feels smoother against the skin!  To do this line up the seams wrong sides together.  Pin and stitch both side seams.  Trim excess seam allowance.  This feels counter-intuitive as initially your raw seam is on the outside of your dress.  Now turn inside out and press.  Pin the seams again and stitch using the same seam allowance.  The seam will now be on the inside of your dress and is a very neat finish.

5.  Pin and stitch bias binding around the arm holes.  To ensure a neat finish allow for a little overlap and be sure to fold and press the ends of the binding before pinning in place.

I've made my own binding but your local haberdashery should have a good selection, including pretty patterned binding.

6.  Pin and stitch bias binding around the bottom hem of the dress.  This really neatens it up and looks very sweet if it matches the binding used for the arm holes.

It's that straight forward!  I'm now hoping that Ben will be having another clear-out soon!

I didn't get the chance yet but I think that changing the buttons over to these will make this dress extra sweet!