Monday, 7 July 2014

Guilty feeling...

Uh-oh... I've just discovered another place to spend my money. The newest member to the Oxford indie gang is Gilt & Grain - purveryers of lovely vintage and antique furniture. Perilously close to my house, full of very lovely stuff, and with some of the best prices I've seen inside bricks and mortar.

Last week saw two visits, and now three items are nestling comfortably with me at home. A cute little 50s coffee table, a cool posy vase, and this awesome planter...



Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Wonder fabric Wednesday

A nice bit of vintage fabric eye-candy from this weekend's bric-a-brac shop rummage...




Friday, 13 June 2014

How to: Make a Lunch Bag


Here's a quick and easy project to make your summer lunch hour feel sunny - even when it's raining. A lunch bag that will be the envy of your work colleagues!

I went for an understated-&-cool-outside/fun-&-flirty-inside approach – but choose the fabric to match your style. The point is to remind yourself that it's not all about work work work!

What you need:
  • 1 fat quarter of outer fabric (needle weight corduroy, lightweight denim or canvas)
  • 1 fat quarter of inner fabric (quilting weight cotton)
  • 1 fat quarter of firm sew –in interfacing
  • 1 kilt strap (or you could also use an old belt)
  • Small strip of bias binding (optional)
  • Matching thread
What to do:

Step 1: Cut 2 rectangles 26cm wide x 42cm tall out of the outer fabric, inner fabric and interfacing. 

Step 2: Pin the sew-in interfacing pieces on to the wrong sides of each outer fabric piece.  Sew around the edges of each piece with a tacking/basting stitch, to secure the interfacing in place.

Step 3: Place the lining pieces on top of the outer fabric pieces, right sides together, and pin along the top edge. Sew in place with a 5mm seam allowance.


Step 4: Fold the lining pieces back over to the wrong side of the outer fabric sections. Press the seam along the top edge, and then top-stitch close to the finished edge.

Step 5: Secure the lining in position by pinning in place around the remaining 3 sides of each bag section.

Step 6: Mark 6cm in from both sides and the bottom, of each bag section. Then, sew along these lines, sewing through all thicknesses of fabric.




Step 7: Using the stitching lines as a guide, trim off the bottom corners of each bag section, about 2.5mm below the stitching.



Step 8: On the outer fabric side of one bag section, position the buckle part of the kilt strap, about 16cm down from the top edge, and carefully stitch in place.



Step 9: Place the bag sections on top of each other, with insides together. Sew together down each side, and across the bottom section with a 5mm seam allowance, leaving the cut-out corners unstitched.

Step 10: Trim the seam allowances to approx 3mm.

Step 11: Turn the bag inside out. Fold the bag flat and then press along each folded seam.


Step 12: Still with lining side out, sew down each side, and across the bottom folded seams with a 5mm seam allowance.


Step 13: To create the flat bottom of the bag, take one of the bottom corners and fold the cut edges together so that the side seam meets the bottom seam. Pin and stitch together using a 5mm seam allowance.


Step 14: Neaten the raw edge of this gusset seam with a zig zag or overlocking stitch, or for a smarter finish, encase it in bias binding.


Step 15: Turn the bag right side out. Bringing the side seams into the middle, fold the bag along the stitching lines and press down each side to create the side creases.




Step 16: Sew down each folded edge, stitching close to the crease.


Step 17: Nearly there! Roll over the top of the bag to work out where to place the last half of the kilt strap. Position and then stitch the strap in place – and voila! You now have a lovely bag ready to fill with your fella’s favourite lunchtime snack!


And another thing.... If you're making this for your fella or a little person - and have time on your side - embroider a secret message on the inside of the bag lining so that Mr Right or Little Miss Perfect will read your love-note every time they eat lunch.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Big, billowy blouson

This is my latest Burda Style make. Big and billowy and easy to wear.

 There's a yoke and pleats in the back - perfect for spontaneous outbursts of kitchen dancing...

... and the sleeves are as big as the wings of a bat.

There's a story behind these sleeves, which are made from 3 orange-like segments (for extra volume, of course). For one hairy moment I thought I'd run out of material, but thank goodness for highly patterned vintage fabric. What you can't see in these photos is that each sleeve now 'features' an impromptu patchwork section. Gotta love a 'feature'!


Wednesday, 4 June 2014

How to: Make a Terrarium

I love plants, I really do, but they just don't seem to know it. The plants in our house are a tough crew - the survivors.  So, I've decided to play to my strengths, putting something pretty in a pot and then forgetting about it for a while. Cactus and succulents - they're the plants for me. And I get to say the word 'terrarium' a lot. Which is good.


So here's my quick guide to making a terrarium. It's all very obvious really!

 You will need:
  • Catcus & succulent compost
  • Gravel - finding this was the tricky bit! I took the girls to our local aquarium one rainy afternoon and bought aqua gravel for fish tanks. 
  • selection of succulents and cacti (none of those I bought cost more than £1.99)
  • An open or closed glass container - large kilner jars work well
  • Spoon
  • Small handed helpers (optional)

Step 1: Spoon the compost into the jar - you can also put a layer of gravel and charcoal at the bottom first for extra drainage if you are using plants that need more water than cacti


Step 2: Position your plants, starting with the largest. Settle them in nicely with a little more compost.


Step 3: Spoon a little gravel over the potting soil. You can stop here, or if your helpers have happened to gather moss for you...


 

 Step 4: Add a little moss, spritz with a little water, and your gorgeous terrarium is now complete!





Monday, 17 March 2014

The love and hate of dressmaking


This dress and I have a history. The fabric and I first met in a Margate bric-a-brac shop just after Christmas. We thought we'd get on well. Then I noticed the pattern in the February issue of Burda style. We introduced ourselves over a cup of tea and decided to give it a go. The dress progressed, friendship blossomed. All was going so well. Until, dress completed, we had a major argument during the first proper fitting when it became apparent that instead of being a lovely, low-fuss, 60s inspired shift, she was actually a big brown swirly sack. With pockets. And frilly sleeves. 

Feet were stamped, nasty words were said, we decided to never speak to each other again. 


Then, after a good night's sleep and a bit of perspective, I decided to be the bigger person (after all, I was actually the person in this relationship). We talked it out and  realised that instead of making alterations, the only thing to do was to take the whole dress apart, cut it out in the next size down, and then, finally stitch it back together again. 

Two nights later, dress finally finished,  the relationship was well on its way to being mended. It's been hard work, but I feel I've grown as a person, while the dress has, well, become a smaller but better dress.

In the end, it was worth it.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Retro tunic


There's no denying it, Esther is most definitely not our baby anymore. Making this tunic reminded me how big and grown-up I felt Freya was when I made her a dress from the same pattern a couple of years ago. I'm starting to understand that thing they say about second children never really growing up in their parent's mind. It's something we've got to watch out for, I know - to see Esther as she really is, right now - not just in relation to her older sister or to our own sense of her as the "baby". 


Anyway, the tunic looks looks nice too.

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