Sunday, 29 April 2012

Parcels and Presents

Yes, I got a squidgy yesterday. And what a wonderful squidgy it was.

Debbe from pieces to love offered a pay it forward last year, and I signed up for it. Yesterday I received an offering through the post. And what a lovely parcel to receive. She has put in an amzing mini quilt, wall hanging sort of thing, which is stunning. It is simple and understated, combining fabrics which are a mix of two different prints in shades of red and black and a soft caramel colour. This is subtle squares set on corner, and bound in black. She has then gone pretty potty on the back with a delightful gingham print covered with flowers. And a cute label to go!
I suppose I had better show you!


extracted contents

and unwrap

to reveal...
Not just a quilted gift then, but look at the extras too, sweeties I may have to share them with my daughter- things taste better that way.

look at the careful layout, and all those perfect points.

pretty delft FQs

does she know about my reading habit?

and this certainly brightened my day!
Now who has been a very lucky one?

Thank you so much, Debbe. I love my parcel.

Now, I did volunteer to pay it forward myself, but only one real 'taker' , though several people who are too busy to play along. If two more would like to volunteer, I am still up for it- I promise, it is fun to get that mystery packet through the post!
If you are interested, let me know.

My lovely dance teacher for whom I am making costumes, gave me a cute and appropriate gift last week. 'Only a little' she said. Well, it is only little, but how well chosen!

my favourite colour is purple- closely followed by almost  all the others!
inches and metric- sanity exists

I generally had a tape measure in my bag anyway, but this is so much more sensible, it will stay done up, and not unwind itself unsuitably all over the other contents of my bag, and I am very pleased with her choice. All the better for being unexpected.

And DD2 also gave me something fantastic lately. I had to pay for it, (1p) but it is a great 'yoke' as my haunt would say.
snips with holder, on lanyard


This goes round my neck when I start, and takes off those bitty bits of thread which drive you potty else. No more raking around for where I left the scissors- and I generally have several pairs lurking while I sew, because I put them down in all the wrong places. They are wonderfully sharp too, and safely fastened in their holder, so they do not attack me!

Goodness me, this is turning into a marathon.

However, I went to a craft and sewing exhibition on Saturday afternoon. DD2 and a friend came too, I was working in the morning, so we only had a couple of hours there. There were workshops and 'taster' sessions, had we had more time, but we had a lovely time amongst the stalls and exhibition pieces. Downham Abbey costumes, quilts of several different styles, lace all exhibited.
And of course you cannot go and buy nothing, can you?
I think I got away light. I bought some of that soluble stuff for embroidering over, that I was keen to try, and some film to produce a mouldable result too, which should be fun to try. Some spotty FQs from John Louden, and vibrant wellies which I coveted since seeing them used in the mouthy stitches group. A piece of plain white, just because it is so useful, and a metre of a print just because I love it. Not too bad, eh?

Also a ribbon technique, I must practise, producing a braided looking result, very simple but pretty.

I still have to work out what length I need to start with, to get the length I wish to end with, but I am sure this will come in useful somewhere.

If you have made it to the end of this you deserve a medal!

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Catch up

I have had a busy week. It has had its high points and its low points. And the funnies - peculiar or ha-ha? a bit of both I suppose.

You know you have those times when the mechanical world rises up against you? Well, it has been a bit like that, in a way. Though not necessarily all mechanical. I suppose it started about 10 days ago, when having got over the washing machine doing a dastardly on us, the shower thought it needed some notice and attention, and wouldn't heat properly. Oh you could get water. And you could get some heat. Only if the water was down to a dribble, and fairly luke warm at that. Not nice. So, having looked at the problem, DH decided, simplest thing, replace shower. At vast expense, when we are trying to frugal. (Did you know frugal was a verb? It is now. )
Well, DD1 came home from Uni for a couple of days, so there are now four of us again in the house, so isn't this the ideal time to remove shower, and look at putting the new one in its place? Of course it is. Except that when you look at new shower, you find old shower box was bigger. So if you just replace the shower you see the rawl plugs peeping out over the top.

So, ok think again. The ideal solution is to just neatly remove the two tiles affected and put new tiles in their place. We always keep a few spare, so dig them out and.... BUT where did they get put? Or were there any left? They are a comon design so we have a few in another place, let us just get them. Different size. These ones are too small. Well, how about the similar ones from the kitchen. These are too big.

Three bears coming to mind? So, do you put in the too small tiles, and cut some and put part tiles in, or do you cut the too big ones, as at least then you only have two tiles for two tile spaces? No, easy answer, look for replacements on the internet. Except that the tiles we want are not a standard size, and are unavailable. Humph.
So spare tiles, not in kitchen, not in garage, not in bathroom, hang on, under the units in the bathroom? A whole box of spares. Saved, phew.

So the next day the tiles can go on. The day after that they can be grouted. And after that they can be drilled to allow the shower to be fitted. So some time next month, perhaps we will have the shower back in use.

And then, on Saturday (last week) we had a break in at work. Not too much stuff taken, but a lot of hassle, as 5.00 am is an unfriendly hour to be going to work, but DH did, and waited around until the premises were secured again. The alarm people had to come and repair the alarm again, and the door jambs have these entertaining strips of metal reinforcement screwed onto them now, six new bolts on the back door, and a couple of foot of brick on the yard wall add to the prison ambience of the place, but, let us not encourage a return visit.

And then the good stuff!

I have spent the last week, in my free time, making skirts. They are a copy of skirts already owned , but in a contrast fabric, which shouldn't crease. It is really curtaining, but makes a fine skirt for a costume.

 This is my start calculation, and I then draw the cutting lines onto wrong side of fabric, and cut and sew.
Broderie anglaise trim, and an elasticated waist- buttonhole elastic helps- and the skirts are ready to use.

Two each of two different lengths, and two more at yet other lengths, so I trust they will fit the children. These are nearly, but not quite, circular, and drape and hang nicely. The odd one at the end is the sample I was given to work from.

Waistcoats in red to follow.

Today I arrived home from work to find a squidgy parcel awaiting me. Squidgy can only be good! 
But I think that can wait for tomorrow, as it deserves a little care of it's own.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

the next skill builder.

I just do not think the spirit of co-operation is present in this ruler!
Before I get properly started, let me just point you across to visit Sunni. She is doing a giveaway, more of those lovely Colonial needle goodies. Go see her, please. You can read my stuff too, if you like!

So the latest block in the skill builder has been posted. Equilateral triangles. 60 degree (Why do I not have a teeny tiny circle thingy to indicate degrees? ) triangles. Not a problem, as there is a 60 degree line on my ruler. Ok, and just how is that helpful? I have put my bit of card down, and laid the ruler on top, lined up on 60 degrees. And just where do I cut??

no, this will not give a long enough edge, just not getting the triangle thing here

Ok I gave in, I used the markings on my cutting board, instead of the ones on the ruler! Much simpler.

And so I got my triangle.
Now, this is the clever bit. I am only using this as an angle template, not a size template. I can see all sorts of other applications for this one, can't you? So it will be taped onto my ruler on a temporary basis, and the rest of the cutting should be simplified, by having a good solid edge at the correct angle! There is even a trick to getting it taped on correctly. Put the tape on near the apex, and stand the ruler on edge while attaching, so the bottom edge of the triangle, and the edge of the ruler are on the table. After getting it a hair out several times...

And then cutting.
I have to say, this was probably the most tedious cutting I have yet done. Each triangle had to cut individually, from a strip the right depth, 3.75". It might have helped if I had a shorter rule, as the length of the rule made it quite unwieldy. Note to self, use the sqaure rule another time, as it will rotate round more easily!

I now have a pile of triangles, and so to sew...

Supper first. More later- perhaps!

But DD1 is coming tonight, so I may not get the chance to sew them together till tomorrow.

Bye for now.

Antique stuff!

I have been having a clear out and a reorganise, with the assistance of DD2. She has been very strong, and made me be equally strong, and made me throw out those silly little bits of ribbon that you know are too small to do anything constructive with, but hang on to just in case, and all the stupid odds and sods that cannot viably be used for anything. I know she is right, but, but, but...

And while we were looking at some scraps of ancient lace, probably hand made- which I didn't let her make me discard- I commented to her that I had a family frock in the cupboard, which none of mine had ever worn, and that it will be over 100 years old.
 'Can I see? Now? please?' so up we went and got out of the cupboard, the hangers with dress, and Christening robe, and Christening cape.
These were examined carefully. Hand made dress, with all its little tucks and pleats, inside French seams, openwork and lace. Structure of the sleeves, so sweet, never used by my children as it felt too precious.
A soft, pretty, slightly peachy pink, white collar and lace details. hand embroidered little flowers and satin stitch ribbon.

 The pretty faux pocket, It is just so beautiful. I shall let the pictures tell their tale.

Look at the size of those buttons! The detail on the collar, those tucks. I wish I could hand sew like that!

This sleeve is cut in one piece, with fullness at the top and gathered into the 'cuff' which has been embroidered and lapped, but is not a separate piece of fabric.
 Now, I know, because I was given this by an elderly relation, who wore it as a baby, that this dates back at least to 1908. It has a label in it, saying 'hand made' and Eastern Isles. This is Scottish work, and I believe comes from the Hebrides. It is a real piece of family history, and Jeannie Muir gave it to me, along with a silk sash, worn by her mother, or grandmother,  at my great grandfathers wedding.  It is a piece of Stuart tartan, because Great grandfather was a Stuart. I must see if I can get an accurate date for that wedding! I should be able to on the Scotlands people site?

Have I bored you rigid yet?

The other pieces she had to investigate were the Christening set. We know my grandfather wore this robe, and cape, and my father, and his brother and sister, and my brother all wore it, and my three children too. I know these Victorian Christening robes are quite common, but the cape, made from nun's veiling, and originally lined with silk, is less comon.
The silk deteriorated with age, and was replaced with linen, with scraps of the original silk attached, by my Granny, about 50-60 years ago. The silk is gossamer fine and fragile, and the cape is showing signs of age but they are still beautiful.

The little sleeves were a later addition, they are a different fabric, and the lace edging is different too.

This broderie anglaise type trim is lovely, and the tucks are a lovely detail.

This is the cape. At some point there was a matching bonnet, but that disappeared in the way things do. I believe the ensemble was lent out to various folks, and at some stage the bonnet went awol.

The details on this, I believe are applied, not sewn as such, a form of fine braiding couched into place. I cannot inspect the inside, so I am not absolutely certain of this.
On this picture you cn see the triangle of silk Granny salvaged, and the silk tassel, only one of which survives.
The cape has a second cape, and a collar. There are two ties to keep it on, and it just sets baby off beautifully at the christening.

I hope you enjoy seeing these pieces, I am glad to have put them on record, anyway.
I wonder how many other babies may get the use of them in the future, before they get too fragile to be used.

Friday, 20 April 2012


Blogger has changed my stuff! They say it will be better and easier, but I had got used to it the way it was. I don't mind change, but I like to change things the way I want to, not have it imposed from above, as it were. I shall just have to get used to it I suppose.

I have been working, so no sewing to show, but in my reading around, it would seem there are some very generous giveaways happening. Now, some of you out there are very lucky on these things, and others not so lucky, but whichever you are, go over to Kiki because she is giving away an amazing collection of stuff. Thread, books, rulers- everything except the fabric, and the time to use this booty!Just go and see!
Melissa at bittersweet designs is also doing one, with lovely gizmos, Prizes to be won at Rhonda's quilter in the gap, look amazing- but I don't think I qualify-another giveaway from sewhappygeek, and Intrepid thread has a link to a giveaway, as it is Friday

So many giveaways, such generosity around. I hope someone I know will win something, as that is the happiest thing to see. It is vicarious fun!
Sorry for the lack of sewing- maybe over the weekend?

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

What Again? Applecore block.

Ok, so I do not post for a week and then twice on one day. Sorry. Today is my day off, and I have spent a good bit of it sewing. Hurrah!

First thing this morning- after I made bread, and got that cooked, I went off to some warehouses I know, and bought a roll, yes, 29 metres, of white polycotton. Not for me, but for someone else. So I will be reimbursed. Also, at the other warehouse, thread, and 60yds broderie anglaise trim,  and some bias binding and a covered button tool for my daughter. I just think at the price it came out, it was silly not to.
The fabric warehouse was something else! They have net, and polycotton, and sequin fabric, and holographic fabric, fur, jersey, prints, oh almost everything. The prices are really good, but minimum cut is 25m. So not really for your average home sewer. And I could not justify buying anything other than the white poly. Maybe net another time, but for now that was all.

So home again, and I was able to sort out the sizing samples of tutu bodices, so I have a large and a medium, not in good fabric, but to try on as a guide for doing the real thing. Makes sense to me.

I used a tip I found on t'internet, and cut patterns out of freezer paper, ironed onto the fabric, and cut out from that. Saves on pinning and unpinning. Amazing how much quicker it is. and they are reusable. So win-win there.

Having done that, I was then at the point where I could do a little something for me, so I did the apple-core block, which is the latest in the skill builder. Leila pins everything to hold it all, but I followed Lucy's tip and just sewed it. This is so much easier than all those pins, and quicker, and, it works.

Now, you do know I am lazy, don't you? well, having printed the template, I layered my fabrics, in threes, and drew round the template on the top piece, pinned the three together within the apple-core, and cut out three at a time. We only needed nine cores, so that was three lots of cutting, and then play with layout. 
So, having decided this, the cores are sewn in three rows, that is the easy bit. Line up the lead edge of the convex of one and the concave of the other, under the presser foot, needle down and away you go. Pin free, easy.

Believe me now?

It is much easier to do this with the convex curve underneath and the concave one on top. So that is done. Now the three rows have to go together. Not so easy. Starting at one end and sewing across all three is a bit tricky. On the bottom row I decided to sew the middle cores first, and then do the outer ones. It sort of made sense to me.
And guess who forgot to take a photo at that point?  Who, me? Hmm.

Then the lot had to be starched within an inch of it's life, trimmed to 10.5", and borders applied. I had some fresh green left from a stash bee block, so that went on. Pretty, I think.  And here is the finish, so, all in all a busy and productive day.

Ok, so whats for tea? I am starving!

And I have linked up with Freshly pieced, Lee is hosting.

work to be done

I am a little behind on my skill builder blocks, I have just done the tumbler block, but the apple core will have to wait a bit. First of all, PROOF! I can clear away the sewing, so that our dining table can be used. Feels most un-natural these days to be able to see the table, put a cloth on it, and use it for eating.

Why? having friends to stay for a few days, and we do not all squeeze well into the kitchen. At a pinch we can get six round the table in the kitchen, but eight is just too much. So a mismatch of chairs, and get out the 'good' cutlery, so there are enough knives and forks to go round, and we are away.

It was lovely to have my friend from school days and her crew to stay. They are setting up a website for me, which I hope, when it is done, you will all look at and make rude remarks, feedback is very helpful, though it has nothing to do with sewing.
My daughter and hers made eclairs for the first time- they are ahead of me, I have never done choux pastry- and they were amazing. The recipe said 'makes six to eight' They made twenty! Big ones too. Gorgeous.

The house is now back to normal and the machine is back in place, so the tumbler block happened.
I procrastinated like crazy on this one. In the end, I would have been better with a slightly bigger template, but what is done is done and that is that.
Selecting fabrics was not easy. I am still using the same collection, but getting enough big enough bits, without cutting into the really useful sizes was difficult. I am mean with my fabric, a bit like money- if it is in a note, I do not want to break it, as I feel it then vanishes? The coins disappear so fast, but if there is a tenner there, it has potential. Silly, but I have been like that since small.
So, cut pieces for the tumbler, and arrange them, sew together pairs and check that I am happy.

Oh dear, Despite significant care being taken, not all of them align correctly. Hmm.

So that standby, seam-ripper was manipulated, a few times, to get a better result. I could swear I lined them all up the same before sewing, so why do they come out diffferent? Gremlins in the works. Only answer.

See? some of them work straight off. Actually I think I only had to redo about four of them. Four too many, but only four.

Slight trimming, and sew the rows together, and the block is done. I have not yet sliced the edges to size, but I am pleased with the finish. Yes, I know not all the seams quite match exactly, but please don't look that close.

So why is apple core taking a back seat?

I have other fish to fry! It is back to costume making again, I have some swans to dress, and some waltzing flowers, and a few characters to put skirts onto. Originally I was told 16 swans, but that has now turned into 11, which feels a lot more manageable. The added complication, I am making tutu bodices, which have to swap to go from swans to flowers. I will have to ensure they are secure and 'anchored down' but can be removed and changed easily. I am sure we will come up with something.

Exciting! We went fabric shopping on Sunday and I think it will be amazing! Watch this space.

Monday, 9 April 2012

for a daughter

I have two very lovely daughters. They are both, well, would you say, adult?
I think so, most of the time...
So my second daughter is off to college in the autumn, and, among other things, she needs to take a sewing kit with her. She will want a sewing machine, but that is not really feasible, a sewing kit is.

As a young adult, my aunt gave me a small sewing kit, in a roll. She made it herself, based on one she had been given at the age of 8. That makes it 1926. A long time ago. Her mother was abed of having my Dad, and she needed the kit for school, so my grandfather was tasked with buying it for her. He went to a small drapery in Cork, and brought back the roll, which is still being used now, by said aunt, though the silk cover is somewhat the worse for wear.
Anyway, she copied the design for me, and I have now amended it, for DD2. Apart from anything else, she has to have dressmaking scissors in hers, which would be too large for a kit the size of mine!

She will also require the usual, pins, needles, tape measure etc, so these need a place to go, and also somewhere to stash a few cotton  reels makes sense. This has been swirling round my head for a few days- well, weeks really- and so it came into being yesterday. Isn't it strange, you gradually gather a stash, and then, with a project in mind, there is great difficulty choosing exactly what you require from your stash. No shortage of actual fabric. Not even a shortage of suitable, or co-ordinating fabric, but your actual, 'I want to use this for the job in hand' fabric? Different matter.

But I am quite pleased with the result. Of course, I would make changes if I did it again, but wouldn't anyone?


This is where I started, as she also needs 'small pointed scissors' and I got some of these years ago for the girls, when they got to the point when they would be needed. DD1 got hers in her kit for her 21st, when she got her sewing machine, D2 has hers now. And, I hope, with the attached mini-pinny, it should be obvious to whom it belongs.

And here is the inside of the etui. Elastic loops to hold reels of cotton, to the left. A double pocket and top flap for big scissors, next to that. A felt needle book next, and then an elasticated pocket for other notions.

We will have tape measure, pins etc, and I have put in a tailors chalk, but I must get her a thimble. Not a thing I use a lot. I have a couple, but really do not get the hang of them at all.

Outside?  Yes that is her pin cushion/ measuring tape in the shape of a cup cake. Pretty but not always quite practical.

I got this 'frosty' fabric before Christmas, and it will still be pretty when the glitter falls off.
And with bits in, it starts to look ok. If you look carefully, there are a pair of pinking shears in that pocket on the left, tucked under the flap, so they won't fall out!

Do you know?  The binding was the hardest to choose. And then I got it wrong. You would think I would remember how to put a binding on by now!

First, when I cut it, I looked at the width I was cutting, and thought, 'that is far too wide, where on earth is all that going to go?' quite forgetting I would be ironing it in half along it's length!

So then, having, luckily, cut it the 'too wide' anyway, I started sewing it on.Wrong side out. Stooopid!

So halfway round, when I came to the seam, I realise, and it had to come off, be ironed in half, and restarted!

But te mitred corners worked better than usual. Oh, I have the theory of them off pat. It is only the execution that doesn't always quite work as the theory says.

So all done and rolled up- Sewing scissors do not quite roll...

so it may look a bit lop-sided.

Oh, the one I was given- you want to see?
Not quite large enough to hold a pair of dressmaking scissors, and originally held three cotton reels. The ends were cut off old wooden Silko reels, as templates for the endsbut only two gutermann reels fit in. There is a mini pocket for a packet of needles, and a pocket with flap for scissors and tape measure.
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