Monday, 9 September 2019

slower and slower

So my poor neglected machine has been left to it's own devices for a good while. Life has rather got in the way, but recently I have succeeded in spending a wee bit of time making a gift for a friend. I have loads of projects in my head, but getting them out of the head and into reality?

We were invited to a friends house for a meal. They had recently had an extension put on, and had decorated mainly in grey, with just wee splashes of deep red. As they are also mad enough to house four rescue cats, this felt an appropriate gift?
 A view of the back
 and some piping...

Yes, that butterfly is 3D. So now I must find the time to get it to them!

and now to find even more time to play    make the next gift.....

Sunday, 31 March 2019

Odds and ends..

I am remiss, I have not been keeping up, but then not a lot of sewing has been happening...

This is mainly because other duties are superseding the sewing room,, including more and more hoops to jump through for work. It is not work itself that is the hassle, but the extra bits, which one must do to keep working and for which one does not get paid....

However, that little oven glove appeared and was given to someone who, strange though it may sound, loves dachshunds. And blue.

Well, I think they are jolly wee dogs, too.

I have also done one or two other small items, but they somehow forgot to get themselves a photoshoot. I expect I had other stuff to get on with...

And we did squeeze in a holiday, where we managed to hit, accidentally, on the Spanish version of Sewing Bee!
Completely different, and oh so much more challenge... I loved it. Even though I speak no Spanish! Try it, when you can find the time- Maestros de la Costura... It takes a completely different tack...

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

A small round up...

What has happened to my blog? Life. That is what.
New responsibilities - no, you do not want to know- leave me a lack of both time and energy, so here is the quickie version

A young friend likes squirrels, so she received this oven glove with some squiddles on..

 My DD2 requested a tote bag in the same fabric as she already has a purse, and a handbag...

This fabric was bought at the festival of quilts, and this bag was made for my dear bestest of friends. I do hope it is seeing some use.

 This wallet is from the Zakka style book- My lovely K, my son's fiancee requested it be made a little larger than the pattern, as she wanted to get an A5 notebook into it.
Why is it not quite so simple as one expects to upsize a simple design like this?
Anyway, here it is, The slightly larger version!

It was also not simple to get the right zip for it. You need a zip a couple of inches longer than the measurement round half the wallet. I could get plenty of choice just too small but the right length. That was awkward. Not helped by not wishing to drive 12 miles to maybe be able to find it. And not wishing to wait for it by post.

never mind- the job got done.

And then, a quick round up from the house at Christmas.  DD2 and I went on a wreath course in 2017, so for 2018 we wanted to make our own. We managed to blag spruce offcuts- a bootfull - for free from the local Christmas Tree farm, and we had the rings from a well known source, bought our wire and went for it

On my front door

made for DD2's friend
Landed on my Dad's front door

 This was our tree this year. No tinsel, we used the organza usually used to tie the bows on chairs for weddings

 This year's cake. No, it did not last very long.

And our festive table. Seven of us sat down for Goose.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Harvest, cooking more than sewing!

It is autumn again, and the damsons have been long disposed of- into damson pickles... I made some in 2014, and then, as you do, I forgot about them. Then, this summer I came across them, when I had friends staying for the weekend.
With four years to mature, oh, wow! but they were good. 
So, almost all my damsons that had not been made into jam, went into pickle... If you never made damson pickles, and you have a glut of damsons...

Wash and prick your damsons. A kilo or so... believe me, you cannot have too many pickled damsons!

prepare some sweet spiced vinegar, Why does cider vinegar come in such small bottles?

Ok, 2 bottles of cider vinegar. Do not be over fussy, you could use wine vinegar, and if all else fails use distilled malt vinegar.  These go into your saucepan.

Add around a pound and a half of sugar. Yes, I used common or garden white, but I think brown would add a depth of flavour.
Add some spices.
Maybe, cinnamon , cardamom, star anise,allspice, what is in your cupboard that you love?

and the zest and juice of an orange or a lemon.

Bring that lot to the boil. You can be pricking those damsons while you are bringing that up to boil. Boil it for 5 minutes or so. , and allow to cool a little.
Add the damsons now, and bring back to the boil.

Let them simmer gently for a little to ensure they are tender, and then pack the damsons into sterilised jars, use a slotted spoon, to drain most of the vinegar off.
Now bring that vinegar back to the boil, and boil quite hard to reduce the liquid.
Pour this over your damsons and seal those jars.

Hide them for about 4 years and then they will be glorious!

No, seriously, let them mature for about a month, or two,.

I was told they are good with cheese and cold meats. They are also gorgeous with two or three dropped into greek yogurt, with a drizzle of that vinegar liquor.... ahhhh. Good stuff!

So this year my little pear tree also decided to produce a crop! I got two whole kilos of pears!

So I have also made pear pickles. An adaptation of Delia's recipe...

 11 little jars of pear pickles...

And there is the left over sweet spiced vinegar, which I cannot bring myself to throw away...

I have come to the conclusion that with just two of us at home now, all children having left the nest, small jars are the way to do it. They are big enough for a good taster, but not so big that the stuff goes off before being eaten once opened.
Also a perfect size for mini gifts!

Sunday, 9 September 2018

belated- yes I went to FoQ this year...

Well, I am sure you have seen the pictures elsewhere, so you will excuse my lack of them sooner. If you are bothered at all.
I did take some pictures of these jackets. Which I was rather beguiled by. Yes, a bit of me covets this, but I could make something like it if I wanted, but when would I wear it?  I am just not sure.

 Here is the back. so much work went into this lovely item. I love it!

And this is striking in it's red and black drama. less wearable somehow than the previous one, but still amazing. 

 I saw many, many quilts. Lots of talent, lots of imagination, almost nothing I felt I wanted to take an image of. But this one, I liked the flow, and the feel of it.

I attended a lecture by Ricky Timms. I was not sure what to expect from it, but he was excellent- a good and entertaining speaker, with some intriguing ideas to bring into play sometime... If you get the chance-go!

I took a class while I was there. Jenny Raiment was doing a twiddle workshop. It was only an hour, but you came away with a 'good start' on a patch suitable for a small cushion cover.

I came home and finished it. Quilted it some, and did a back. I also bought the bits fro a second one while there. Jenny had cut too many, and sold three spares to us, for a very reasonable fee- thanks Jenny. So I got one, and made up the front of that. 
My DD2 came for the weekend, and promptly adopted the first, so I finished the second and it also went off to hers. She has a couple of cushions, supplied with her furnished flatwhich she was not loving the covers of, so these have brightened her life a wee bit. 

The quilting on the back was just me, playing and taking whichever turn I fancied. She likes it, so that is good. I used a variegated thread, which just lifts the whole thing withouit screaming at you.
I need a LOT more practice with piping, but DD2 will excuse my inadequacy there!

Following from that, I started a belated gift, for a friend.
I used Jenny's technique for the corners, and appliqued a heart in the centre.

A simpler approach to the back

I think I got good value from that workshop? 

Wednesday, 8 August 2018


First, may I apologise to anyone who has commented and got no response. Blogger, in their infinite wisdom, have stopped forwarding comments to my email, so I do not always register they are here! I should be able to catch them eventually, unless someone comments on a fairly old post- I do love to know you have been here, and enjoyed ( or hated, even- I do not always love what I have done) some of my projects..

Now to the point of the post!

Some things take their own time. I think the Brazilian Post office comes in to that category.

Last year we did a swap. It was a Winter/Christmas swap. I drew they loveliest of ladies for whom to make. Sil, who lives in Brazil. The last day for posting was on November, but I knew I had lots of making to get on with, so I got my parcel off early. So my package went in the post towards the start of November.

I had pretty sparkly frosty looking fabric to give the 'chill factor'. and with some blue and crisp white on white, I thought a little scene would appear- Birdies in the snow, a few left over leaves, and we are set.

A wee play with borders,  some careful mitring,  fairly simple quilting, and I had a result. 

sorry about the 'Freds' in the picture... 

I know Sil loves all things Christmas, so I popped in a home made ornament, for her, reckoning 6 weeks in the post? Max, she will have this for her tree... 

And I sat back to wait..... and wait.... and wait!

Eventually I contacted the swap mamas. What should I do? Should I start again, now months later, and send another one? Or should I leave her in the lurch- no swappy quilt on her doorstep? Either option feels unfair, but what could I do? Post office here cannot trace it past our borders, Brazilian post is notorious... 
Mamas said leave it. So, reluctantly I left it. 
Then, this week, a whole 9 months later, News!

The package has arrived! 
Sil's beaming face is all that I could have hoped for, she is such a joy to give to, as she shows all her delight in the offerings . 

So, that is now home, and I think, after 9 months we should call it a baby!

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Wedding fun!

I cannot show all the people in this, as I do not have permission, but I had a ball making these dresses

This is the beautiful grey lace laid out on my bedroom floor being cut. As the fabric is one directional- though would anyone have noticed if I had cut panels upside down? Possibly not, but I would have known- I had to cut each piece on it's own. 
Why my bedroom? Because it has a large floor area, and is carpeted. If I am crawling all over the floor to cut, please have some sympathy for my knees!

The dress has an under layer of pale antiqued pink satin. again has to be cut all in one direction- how come I did not know that before?  I have made stuff up in satin previously, and cursed it as it snags and pulls, but this heavy satin from Watson and Thornton in Shrewsbury was a dream. Is sewed nicely, hung beautifully and was just amazing. The gentleman there was really helpful too. Great stock, and knew what to tell us. I recommend it!

The pattern was a vintage Vogue 2903 and in common with a lot of Vogue patterns was slightly unusual in construction. 

The dress is a princess seamed dress. All very straightforward there, yes, but, there is a yoke under the neckline, and the sleeve is hung from the yoke, and the side panels, without being stitched to the centre panels. So the centre panels are effectively sleeveless, and float free, - and hang beautifully I may say- so the original instruction tells me to construct the dress and form the sleeveless bit before putting on the yoke. 
Having made a toile I decided it would be simpler to make the centre panels and do the shoulder straps before adding the side panels. And it was. Much easier, and gave me a better finish. The other bit I changed, was the facing construction. In the original pattern the front and back facings are each in two pieces, which are then stitched together at center front and back. I looked at it carefully, in case there was a non straight of grain seam there, but it looked to be straight, so, I cut these on the flod instead. This reduced the bulk at the centre necklines, which helped a lot. 

In this image you can see how the shoulder 'strap' sits with the side panel sewn on. 

I had cut the under layer and overlocked to the lace before I started construction. This gave me much more stable fabric to work with, and seemed to be a good move. 

The instructions tell you to tack the pleats in place. I did this by hand- shows just how dedicated I was, hand sewing , even tacking, is not my thing!

As the lace has a very pretty border, we wanted to use that around the hem of the dress.So this border was carefully trimmed off, and stitched on at the end, onto sleeve hems and onto dress hem.

The sleeves have a slightly unequal underarm length, which is gathered to fit on the long side. The end result looks lovely, though I had not met this before. 
As the dress is very heavy I added ribbon loops from the underarms to help hang it up. It also has very wide neckline, and without these the dress wuold have fallen off the hanger in no time. 

This is just before doing the lace trim on the hem, when the lady tried it for a fitting. 

 We then made a 50's style net petticoat to go underneath.

She reported back from the wedding- so many compliments, she was thrilled with the result, and especially that the dress was unique!

So, the other dress?
Was the littlest bridesmaid's dress.

It started over coffee and cake.
The bride could not find the right dress for her youngest bridesmaid. She wanted her to be a 'mini-me'. I am familiar with this, as my daughter requested her youngest bridesmaid be a 'mini me'. In this instance though, the brides dress was quite sophisticated, off the shoulder, and not what you really want a 9 year old in.  However, covered buttons, yes we can do that, collar detail, yes,  and can we tie it in with the adult bridesmaids, who are in a pastel rainbow of colours...

I made a few suggestions, and it was decided the dress should be made.

They found an ivory crepe which matched the bride's dress perfectly, told me what was wanted, gave me measurements, and left me to it!
I found a bodice in one place, invented the skirt, sorted the collar, which was to mirror the brides dress detail, and I was given ribbon to use.
 The ribbons on the waistband are the same colours as each of the bigger lasses, the collar mimics the bride's dress.

and there are little hooks on the back of the bow, with hand whipped eyes on the dress, so they are all but invisible, to support the bow, or it will drop funny.

The bow is invented, and sewn together, so it did not need to be tied, and the ribbon tails left to flow free. I have seen the photos and she looks beautiful!

The skirt is part circular, and sadly the crepe stretched unevenly, despite being left to hang for a bit, It ended up nearly straight... Ah well, you cannot win all the time!

Tip for a bow like this- The sash is 3" wide, but a 3" bow looked wrong. So I made the bow 5" wide. Much better! I graded the ribbon out to the edges to look right.
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