Monday, 31 December 2012

Well here we are almost into 2013..

I don't do New Year's resolutions, but because I don't like housework, I have this thing where I like to start every new year with a clean kitchen and bathroom and no ironing pile, in the hope that it'll be like that for the rest of the year.   It doesn't always work of course but it's nice while it lasts.  The kitchen and bathroom's clean, I'm just off to start on the ironing!

I'd like to wish you all, good health and happiness for 2013, and may all your leaden skies be lit by sunshine and rainbows

(although I investigated the end of that rainbow, and there was no pot of gold!)

Monday, 17 December 2012

Ostrich feather field

This last week we've had a whole variety of weather, from fog, sunshine, rain and frost.  
The frost on the long grass in this field makes it look like the horses are standing in ostrich feathers

Here's a few other things with a frosty coating

My walk was slowed down though, because whenever I see a puddle frozen like this

I've just got to break the ice

Of course sometimes I stamp on one that looks like it's going to be hollow but turns out to have muddy water underneath!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Putting on the glitz

The choir that I'm in gave a concert last night and the dress code was black and glitzy.  As I was on the back row I needed something that would show up on my top half.  Originally I was going to wear black trousers and a top, but when I tried it on I realised the glittery part was at the bottom and wouldn't be seen.
Rather than go out and buy something especially, I adapted this black dress that I already had

I had a bit of black sheer fabric (I think it's organdy) with silver spots on that I made some gathered sleeves with, and added a brooch with a couple of layers of the spotty fabric behind.

I only tacked the sleeves in so that I can easily take them off again - in fact I already have because we're singing at another event this week and the dress code for that is black and red!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012


I've been taking Modern Jive dance classes for nearly a year now and thought it was about time I ditched the jeans that I usually wear for it, and started looking a bit more feminine.
With this in mind I've been rifling through my wardrobe and found this maxi dress


It's quite shapeless so I took it in at the sides and shortened it.
With the leftover fabric I cut a couple of eye-shaped pieces, and sewed them into the armholes to make floaty sleeves, and now it looks like this

Now, dear reader, I'm in need of a bit of help.
Do you remember this vintage Central Park fabric I got from the charity shop?
Well, I've been looking for a suitable dress pattern and I haven't had any luck.
Vintage Vixen suggested I make a maxi skirt from it, and that really would be ideal - and simple to make.  The thing is, I've got my heart set on a knee length dress!
The first thing to spring to mind is a 50s style, but in order not lose any of the pattern it would end up far too long.
My next option is a shift style.  When I hold the fabric up in front of me it just reaches from my knees to nearly my shoulders, so I would probably have to add a bit more of the plain bit as a yolk.  That would not be a problem even if the pattern didn't have a yolk.  
I've got a few shift style patterns but they have curved hemlines, and I need it straight so as not to spoil the pattern.

Has anyone seen a pattern that would work?

Friday, 16 November 2012

A year in the life of a tree

There's a tree that stands in the middle of a farmer's field that I like to photograph, so last year I decided to take a photo of it each month to show how it changes.
I don't know how to do a montage of them all together so here they are month by month starting from last December

December 2011

January 2012

February 2012

March 2012

April 2012

May 2012

June 2012

July 2012

August 2012

September 2012

October 2012

November 2012

Friday, 2 November 2012

Inspiration from my past

When I was growing up my Mum went to upholstery evening classes and made various things, from loose covers for the three piece suite, recovering lampshades and also some velvet cushions that had a basket weave effect on the fronts. 
I've been thinking about those cushions because I fancied having a go at the technique for the basket weave.  She used a bought pattern, and I thought I had it somewhere but I can't find it, so I've been trawling the internet for information.
I eventually found out that it was called Canadian smocking.  The basket weave design is actually called lattice (which is why it took me so long to find because I was looking for the wrong thing), and I discovered that there were other designs too.  
For my project I decided to use the 'arrow' design.  To do the smocking you draw a grid on the back of the fabric and basically just catch a corner of a square with a small stitch and pull it across to another corner in whatever direction the pattern says.  I did a practice piece first with 2cm squares but thought it was a bit big for what I wanted, so I used 1.5cm squares for the actual piece.
There was quite a difference in size as you can see here

This is what it looks like on the reverse

I used some old curtains of mine for the smocking and put it together with some Laura Ashley fabric I got from the charity shop and made this bag (I thought the apples and pears fabric looked quite Autumnal so I've photographed it on a pile of leaves)

I think the smocking looks nice against the patterned fabric but they're not really my colours, so I've put it in my Folksy shop and I'm going to make another one for myself when I come across something suitable in blues, greens or purples.

Canadian smocking is usually done with a plain fabric for the design to stand out, but when I was looking for the lattice design on the internet I came across a cushion which had been made with a subtle check fabric and it is absolutely gorgeous.  Take a look at this on Passion et Couture blog.  I just love the colours, and the extra details round the edge make it really different.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Knitted cowl

I'm not really a lover of long scarves.  
I like my neck to be warm in the cold weather, but I can't be doing with long bits dangling down because I tend to get them caught in things or they slide off me.  Plus they take a lot of room up in my bag if I've made the mistake of going shopping in one and have to take it off because the shops are too hot.

When I saw a knitted cowl that Alex had made on Daisie Days I thought it would be just right.  That was last winter and I never got round to knitting one, but when Alex showed another one recently and emailed me the instructions, I had to get cracking.
The pattern called for super chunky yarn and 10 or 12mm needles.
My biggest needles are 8mm, and as I wanted to get on with it, that's what I used and improvised with some purple and blue double knitting out of my stash, knitted together.

I cast on a few extra stitches to allow for the difference but figured it wasn't vital and you just keep knitting until you get the length you want.

Obviously mine isn't as chunky as it should be but I'm really pleased with the end result and I love the colours together

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Out of the fog

The fog and drizzle that's been hanging about for the last few days has cleared today and when I ventured out I noticed this big clump of toadstools growing on a tree stump in the garden

The miserable weather hasn't bothered me though because I've been playing about indoors.
A friend asked me to make her a patchwork denim bag.  She gave me an old pair of jeans and a denim shirt to work with, and asked me if I could make a feature of some of the embroidery on the shirt.  
On one side I put the two shirt pockets.  One pocket had a small ink stain at the bottom but that was easily covered with one of the silver buttons off the shirt, and I sewed on a few more to make it look deliberate

The other side incorporates part of the embroidered collar 

I've picked out the dark red colour on the embroidery for the lining and added a couple of pockets and a key fob.   I've lined the pockets in the denim which I really like against the red.  The zipped pocket has got another zipped pocket inside at the bottom, to keep important things safe  ;)

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Forward slash t-shirt dot com

My husband gave me a couple of t-shirts which are quite thick so I thought I would make myself a long sleeved t-shirt for the colder days.

I laid a t-shirt of mine (with the sleeves tucked under) on top of the grey one, and cut around it, slightly larger to allow for seams.
I used the sleeve pattern I made for this and pieced together grey at the top, blue in the middle, and the original grey sleeves at the bottom.
For interest I sewed a strip of the blue diagonally across the front leaving the edges raw to curl naturally.  I wanted to cut through the blue to reveal the grey behind so drew straight lines of different lengths within the strip and sewed round them, and then cut along the lines.  I also sewed a couple of pieces of the blue on the inside above and below the strip and then cut through the grey to reveal the blue behind.

I did the same thing on the sleeves but with the grey showing through the blue.
After attaching the sleeves and sewing up the sides, I removed the ribbing on the neck and added a strip of blue, and another along the hem, allowing them to curl up, and this is how it ended up


And now dear reader be prepared to be amazed   (which is something I'm always saying to my family about my often quite insignificant achievements, but this is truly amazing! (well I think so))
Remember the challenge I set myself to run up a specific hill?         Wait -  no I haven't done that, so don't applaud yet!

No, what I have done, is....   (drum roll please)  .........

jogged for twenty minutes without stopping!!!

I know, I can't believe it either!

I thought the Couch-to-5K running plan must be wrong when it expected me to jog for 20 minutes non-stop when the session before was two eight minutes with a three minute walk in between, but I did it!    I've still got another four weeks of the plan until I can hopefully do 30 minutes non-stop, when I will attempt my hill run.

As good as this milestone feels though, I'm not enjoying it at all and once I've got fit enough to run up that hill, I'll probably go back to a brisk walk. 

Sunday, 7 October 2012

All around the world

I've received a lovely parcel through the post from Claire at Sweet Birdy Love. She's been on holiday to New York City, and as well as seeing the sights,  she also did some crafting whilst she was there, and made some momentos of her holiday for two readers.  
I was lucky enough to have my name chosen out of the hat and this is what I received

How cute is this squirrel on the needlecase?
 and there's an acorn on the back

Whilst in NYC Claire went to the biggest trimmings shop I have ever seen,  and she sent me this gorgeous embroidered ribbon

There's also a handmade postcard (with real stitching round the edge, which I love) and two crocheted hearts.

Claire did some yarn bombing in NYC so I think I'll do some myself with these hearts.  It's good to think there'll be some of her handiwork all over the world  (Claire's from Australia)!

I'm sorry if I haven't commented on anyone's blog lately but I'm way behind with my blog reading and am trying to catch up at the moment.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

What a difference a dye makes

I've got a pink coat with a white flower pattern which I always loved until I saw someone else wearing the same coat!
One of the reasons I like to refashion clothing is because I don't want to be wearing the same as everyone else, so I decided to dye it.  
I'd also got a lemon coloured linen shift dress which I bought for 50p in a charity shop but it was too pale for me, so I thought a blue dye would do for both, producing a purple coat and green dress.  I bought a Dylon machine dye and also threw in a deep pink t-shirt and a white t-shirt of my son's which had a mud stain on the back which I have never been able to get out.

Here's a before picture

and after

I'm really pleased with how they've all turned out, some with unexpected results.
The lining of the coat and the buttonholes didn't dye, and I think the pink looks great with the purple and blue

The buttons are white so I'm going to change them for pink, purple or blue or maybe even paint them because would you believe out of all those buttons I've got, I haven't got any big enough?

The dress turned out blue, perhaps because it was such a pale yellow, but the embroidery around the bottom, which wasn't really noticeable before, didn't take the dye so now shows up yellow.

The stain on my son's t-shirt doesn't show now and the pink t-shirt is now purple with blue edging.

Another bonus of dyeing the coat is that the colour before was really Spring/Summer but as it's quite warm I can now wear it all year round.