Sunday, 2 March 2014
A few weeks ago I went on a sewing course. It was a basic course, designed as an introduction to dress making and I had been invited along so I could write about it for the local magazine I work for. Our teacher started right from the beginning, showing us how not to be afraid of using a sewing machine and offering some simple but really useful tips. They are probably just common sense to most people, but I need to be told! I have been waiting for an opportunity to practice what she said, and this morning, I had a few hours to myself. I decided to make a patchwork cushion, by machine. It was a practice project, as much as anything.
I used some scraps of fabric to make a front cover for my cushion, measuring 47cm square. I then used an old candy striped tablecloth from Oxfam to make the envelope backing, two pieces 47 x 31cm. I tried to work more methodically and neatly, finishing off properly, but my natural urge is always to bodge something together any old how. Still, at least my tension was correct for a change!
The cushion was soon finished, and now sits on the old pink Lloyd Loom chair that belonged to my Gran.
I shall be returning to work on my big patchwork quilt on March 11th, when I shall hopefully be getting some help with attaching the backing and finishing off.
One thing I did yesterday was go to the village table top sale, where I found a lovely old clay pot with a lid for 50p (pictured far left). It has a local tradesman's name written on it. It's my first sale of the new season so I was pleased to find something. I've used it in my new header!
Friday, 28 February 2014
Has anyone else discovered Tiger Stores? It's a Danish company, which sells inexpensive homewares. A friend told me about a branch in London, and now there is a shop in Cambridge, where I called in recently.
It is a kind of Danish pound shop, with gorgeous Scandi design in evidence. Hum drum items are transformed, such as these heart shaped sponge scourers.
A bird shaped coin purse. I love all these bright colours (modelled on my small stash of 60s and 70s fabrics).
Frames in cute colours.
And Easter eggs in bold brights. Isn't it great? I had a very happy half hour browsing the crammed shelves and filling a basket which came to very few £££s. Also of note, which I didn't buy this time, was sticky backed plastic shelf liner in pop flower designs. There is a huge stationery section to look through.
Here is a view of the front:
Well worth a trip, I'd say.
Friday, 21 February 2014
Lighting: always a tricky issue in a house. I don't think we've got it right at all, but I've finally got a rise-and-fall light installed over the kitchen table. We'd had the same low hanging shade for years, and it always seemed to be in the way, shining in our eyes, or hitting us on the head, and it was driving me crazy when I was sewing. We were well overdue in getting an adjustable one. This is the Brigitta light from John Lewis, in cream metal with a simple fabric cord. It has a pulley at the top, so you can adjust the height to suit the task: eating, sewing, homework etc.
I've been cutting back in the garden and I rescued these buds, hoping they might open in the warmth. I quite like them as they are though.
Have a great weekend.
Monday, 17 February 2014
I know that I do have at least two male readers, so sorry about this, but I am going to talk about dresses.
I am very fond of a dress, especially 1950s styles. I have not had huge success with buying vintage dresses because they are sized very differently to the modern body shape, and although I do know some clever people who can adapt them to fit, I haven't been able to do this. The waists and arms are always very small. So, I am always looking for high street stores who can do a good copy. I have borrowed images from websites for this post.
To date, the best dress I've found for my budget is by Seasalt. This is their Lottie dress (£55, above). I bought one in pale green floral last year, wore it all the time, and I have ordered the sailing boats version for this summer. I can't recommend it highly enough.
This is the green version, a photo taken on holiday in Devon last year (10 million calories about to be eaten! No wonder I don't fit the 50s dresses ;)) My blue one has already arrived and it's lovely although I won't be wearing it for a few months.
Below is a subtle beauty from Toast. Out of budget at £129.
This was from White Stuff last year. I don't own it, unfortunately, but I think it's a great shape and polka dots are a favourite. If you were handy with a needle, this might be okay to copy.
Here is a Cath Kidston favourite from a couple of years ago:
This was in the days when Cath made tea dresses that weren't aimed at teeny tiny teenagers. It's a really flattering length, on the calf.
I do own this dress, original 1950s, but it's just for show.
This one is from Boden, £69. They also do a fab spotty 1950s style shirt waist dress, although I'm unable to upload a photo, and I did notice that some colours had sold out already.
When I was at Newark Antiques fair recently, I spotted a raspberry 1940s dress with collar and buttons. I fell in love with the colour. Several people were eyeing it up, and as I was holding it in my hands I had to make a snap decision. There was nowhere to try it on, so I had to take a guess at the size, and for once, it does fit.
So, there is a small dress selection. If you have any recommendations, let me know.
Wednesday, 12 February 2014
Once I've started making something, I don't like to stop, but a couple of months ago I had come to a standstill with my patchwork quilt. I had finished the top part, but when it came to continuing, I admit I was feeling stumped. I read books on the subject, but somehow I just couldn't understand what I needed to do. I've explained before how hard I find written instructions. I need things spelt out and illustrated and I felt that the books assumed a lot of prior knowledge (and ownership of an all-singing all-dancing sewing machine), neither of which I have. I didn't turn to YouTube because I knew I'd need to keep on consulting the instructions and obviously you can't do that with a video. Enter my friend Lucy....she makes beautiful quilts and she suggested that I come along to her sewing group in a local village hall and bring my project with me.
I was nervous: I thought everyone else would be very skilled and would notice my big stitches and wonky lines. But, although the ladies were very talented, they couldn't have been nicer, or more encouraging, and Lucy was soon sorting me out. We used some big village hall tables to lay out my quilt.
Lucy showed me how to lay the quilt on top of the wadding, and then pin the squares to it, smoothing it out as I went. I needed quilt pins, like safety pins with a bump in them. I have now bought some and replaced all my conventional pins.
Now I have to do something called sewing 'in the ditch.' That's a running stitch, following the lines of the squares, working side to side and stitching close to the seam but not on it. I started last night. I am doing it by hand on Lucy's recommendation. It is not easy, but I am underway and it's a great thing to do on a winter's evening as it is so cosy now that my quilt has wadding attached to it.
Actually the most useful guide I've seen is in the new Prima Makes magazine. There is a very pretty quilt in there with clear instructions. Meanwhile, I am delighted to be back on with the quilt. I've sorely missed having something to make in the evenings, and now I have plenty to keep me occupied. Once the quilting is done, I'll be attaching the backing, and that will require a second visit to the sewing group. I can't wait!
Monday, 10 February 2014
- I'm a freelance journalist living in a village in East Northamptonshire with my husband and youngest son. I love visiting car boot sales, auctions and markets and writing about my inexpensive finds, and also some small craft projects and my attempts at watercolour painting. I'm the editor of a local magazine, so I find out about loads of interesting things that are happening in my community, some of which I share here, too.