Friday, 25 July 2014

red, threads & zebras

My mum asked me if I would make her a red skirt so I dug out the pattern I made from one of her own skirts last Christmas - or maybe it was the Christmas before that?? - and set to. Because I'd made it before and had written down everything I did in great detail - very handy to know I needed 14½" of elastic for the back without having to work it out - it didn't take me long to make it.

When I took it into the care home for her, she was so pleased with it. In fact, when I suggested I took it to her room to hang it in her wardrobe, she said "Not yet, I want to admire it some more." Awwww. :o)

Next I wanted to make myself another Afternoon Blouse with some fabric I had in my piles. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough to make the fancy bit with the button on it and the accompanying facing so I messed about with the pattern taking off that and making it into a (plain) v-neck top. I am so pleased with the way it turned out.

Can you see the teeny tiny reels of thread? No wonder I wanted a top out of it. Very appropriate fabric for me! :oD

Now, what does a person do when she sees another duvet cover on sale at Asda's that has zebras on a white background? Well, she buys it of course. 4 metres of 200cm wide fabric for £9.60? The bargains just keep jumping in my basket! Here it is.

But I just wasn't sure about it. I washed it, hung it on the line, stared at it and wondered if I'd ever be brave enough to wear it. I decided that it wasn't the zebras that worried me, it was the white background. So what did I do?

I dyed it. I knew, because the fabric was polyester/cotton mix, that it wouldn't come out as vibrant as the colour on the box (Dylon Machine Dye, Ocean Blue) but I just have to say ... I LOVE it. I will definitely wear this ... when I get time to cut it out and sew it up!

Monday, 21 July 2014

cutting out

The top I re-made because it was miles too big for me got finished, worn for about half an hour and then got deposited in the bag for the charity shop.

I just don't know what was wrong with it but it just didn't feel good. I blame the fabric - it's a really soft viscose and it moved about all over the place as I was sewing it so it was no real surprise to me that it didn't sit properly. Anyway, it's destined for the charity shop where someone will hopefully buy it giving money to a good cause in the process.

I made this Afternoon Blouse a few weeks ago but never blogged about it - no idea why. This is another duvet cover from Asda's. I think this one cost me £10 but, for 4 metres of fabric - 2 metres like this and 2 metres of a white with turquoise spot - that's an amazing price!

A close up of the button.

And yet another Afternoon Blouse which I made just after the one above. I top-stitched it with white thread because I didn't have a good enough match in my masses of threads and didn't want to go and buy one just for the top-stitching.

The white thread actually fits in perfectly with the button I chose!

This is my next project in the dressmaking part of my sewing life. I've had this pattern since the 1990s and made it back then and decided, after making my dress with the princess seams, that it could be something I might wear now - albeit in a bigger size than I made back in the 90s. I'm going for the shorter version this time but I'll lengthen it by about 3" so it's a similar length to the dress I made.

I went to my local fabric shop and was disappointed to see that their denim was £9.99 a metre. The dress takes nearly 4 metres so that was a non-starter. No way was I paying £40 for a denim dress. I decided to do a search on eBay and found a lady selling a 5 metre piece of denim at a tremendous bargain price of £9.90 - yes, for the whole 5 metres! Okay, I had to pay £12.90 postage but that's only fair. I mean, 5 metres of mid-weight denim weighs a lot so I was delighted to win it.

I had to cut the piece in half to pre-wash it - I couldn't get the whole piece to go in the washing machine! It's now washed and dried and ironed and waiting for me to get it cut out. Soon, I hope.

In the meantime, over the last few days, I've done a massive amount of cutting out of pinnies and shopping bags. In total there are 28 pinnies cut out:

49 shopping bags cut out:

And 15 grocery bags - just another shopping bag but a slightly different pattern.

My cubbies look decidedly depleted but that actually makes me really happy.

I've cut up fabrics that have been sitting there for months, if not years. I've used fabrics for the linings of the bags that have been sitting there just as long, if not longer. It's a great feeling to have all those bags and pinnies cut out and ready to sew but it doesn't mean I'm going to do them all in a rush. No way. After all, I have that denim dress to start first. And a red skirt to make for my mum. And another Afternoon Blouse cut out and another 2 dresses planned. :oD

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Almond Biscuits

Here's the recipe for the almond biscuits I showed the other day. This is another of the recipes from my Auntie Mary's collection. She was my mum's oldest sister and she was an amazing baker and always had so many good things on the plates when we went to visit her.

A few years ago, I asked my cousin if she would send me Auntie Mary's recipe book so I could copy them all and she was kind enough to do that. Douglas scanned the recipes for me and I then printed them all out. It's a great source of memories both of recipes but also of Auntie Mary - a lot of the recipes are in her hand-writing. :o)

Almond Biscuits - makes about 24

200g/7 oz butter
90g/3¼ oz caster sugar
½ tsp almond extract
280g/10 oz SR flour
25g/1 oz ground almonds
glacé cherries for decoration

Heat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/GM 4.

1. Put the butter in a large saucepan and slowly melt.
2. Take off the heat then add the sugar & almond extract and stir together.
3. Add the flour and ground almonds and mix to a smooth dough.
4. Roll into small balls and put on to baking trays spaced well apart.
5. Flatten the tops with your hands (or a wet fork or tattie masher).
6. Top each biscuit with half a glacé cherry.
7. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown.
8. Leave on the baking tray for 2 or 3 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
9. Eat. :oD

As you can see from the photo, the outside edges of mine got slightly browner than they should have done. It didn't make any difference to the taste - they were still delicious! :o)

Monday, 14 July 2014

around the world blog hop

I've been nominated by my blogging friend, Jo from through the keyhole, to take part in the Around the World blog tour. Thanks Jo! I will now attempt to answer the questions!

What am I working on right now?
For my the tartan bee shop: I have a pile of bags cut out waiting to be sewn ... some time soon. (See photo below)

In dressmaking - I made a top on Saturday which is - believe it or not - far too big for me!

Today I unpicked all the seams and cut it out at a smaller size. This one seems to fit me better. Fingers crossed that it still will when I put the sleeves in.
I bought another duvet cover out of Asda's this morning (for £5) for another dress like the one I made last week. Here's the duvet washed and drying on the line:

How Does My Creative Process Work?
When I make for my tartan bee shop, I buy fabric with an idea of what I'm going to make with it. I know if I'm going to make bags with a piece of material or pinnies (aprons) or both. I love to buy fabrics for those that are interesting. Let's be honest, going food shopping isn't exactly the most exciting thing to do so, if you can do it using a bag (or bags) that make you smile, then it has to be better. I also like to buy fun fabrics for pinnies. If I could, I'd keep one of every fabric as a pinny but I just can't do that. The kitchen drawer where I keep them is hard enough to close as it is! :oD

After I've got the fabrics chosen, I'll usually spend a couple of days just cutting out loads and loads of bags and pinnies. I won't necessarily sew them all up at one time but I like being able to sew up a couple when I have some time or the urge to do it. Here's the pile of bags in the crate waiting to be sewn.

Buying fabric for dressmaking is a completely different thing. I freely admit to buying fabric without knowing exactly what I'm going to use it for. I might know I want to make a blouse or a top with it but I won't know which pattern I'm going to use until I get it on my sewing room table. It keeps my dressmaking interesting for me that way and, after all the years I've been sewing, I don't think that's going to change any time soon.

How Does My Work Differ From Others In Its Genre?
I suppose, since I made up the patterns for the pinnies and the bags myself, they're different from other people's but they're not unique really. I mean, they're shopping bags and pinnies - nothing too unique about those! I like to think the fabric is the way to make them stand out. Same for my dressmaking. I could make the same pattern as someone else but I doubt they'd choose the same fabrics as I do.

I'm also proud of the finish. I have a quote in my sewing room which says "If a job's worth doing, it's worth doing well" and I try to stick to that rule. If I'm not 100% happy with something I make, it won't even get near my Etsy shop. If there's a flaw in it anywhere, I won't sell it to someone else. That's why that kitchen drawer is hard to close!!

Why Do I Create What I Do?
I've always loved making my own shopping bags and pinnies with fancy fabrics so, when I decided to open my Etsy shop, it just seemed obvious to me to keep making things I was good at making and see if I could sell them. Sewing with Christmas fabrics has always made me happy so I started adding some Christmas things into my Etsy shop. I actually just re-listed them for this year. Christmas does start in July, doesn't it? LOL

In my dressmaking, I just make whatever I want. I've always loved being able to make things that other people don't have. I bet I'm the only person in town - perhaps even in Britain - who has a couple of tops and a dress made with (different) duvet covers from Asda's! That pleases me no end.

~ ~ ~
I'm going to be a bit of a rebel here and not nominate specific people to carry on the blog trip. Instead I'm nominating all of you who are reading this to answer the 4 questions on your blog then let me know when you've done it so I - and others - can come and take a look.

Here are the (original) questions:

1. What are you working on right now?
2. How does your writing/creative process work?
3. How does your writing/work differ from others in its genre?
4. Why do you write/create what you do?

Thanks again to Jo for nominating me. It was harder than I thought it would be to think of the answers as to why I do what I do.

Friday, 11 July 2014

blogging from my camera

This is another post where I just show you photos from my camera with a few words of explanation.

First of all, I made some new cushion covers for the livingroom. They're made from this Ikea fabric which Douglas and Joanna bought for me on a recent visit they made to that store. (I had Tilly whilst they were away - I'm sure I was more exhausted than they were when they got back! LOL)

I didn't know what to make with the fabric - bags or pinnies to sell? - when I realised it would be perfect fabric for the new cushions I'd been planning in my head for a long time. The fabric is so much fun - every time I look at a cushion, I see something different!

There are 5 on the big couch (where I sit):

And 3 on the wee couch (where Douglas sits):

I did some baking. These are almond biscuits which I'd never made before. I'll definitely make them again - they are so delish!!

And last but by no means least - a dress. That fits! Yay! I was so chuffed with the dress that I asked Douglas to take some photos before I'd even sewn the hem up - it's just pinned. LOL

He took this one outside with his iPhone.

The back of the dress:

It has pockets! Woohooo!!

I knew if I kept them long enough, I'd one day find the perfect use for these green buttons. Today was that day.

The pattern is this one:

After all the shenanigans I had trying to get dress bodices to fit me a few weeks ago, I'm really so pleased with the way this dress turned out. I'm even more pleased that the fabric cost me £5. Yes, you read that right. £5. It was a single duvet cover from Asda's with front and back made of the same fabric so I got 4 metres of polycotton fabric for £5. A-ma-zing! :o)

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

sewing for the tartan bee

I've been busy sewing things for the tartan bee shop this week and I made myself sit down and load them in today. I don't know why I always leave the loading in until I have a lot to do. Every time I do it, I tell myself not to do it like that next time and yet, here I was today loading in 12 new items. Och well, they're done now. Yay! :o)

First of all there are four new shopping bags. (There were 6 but Joanna took a fancy to 2 of them so she got a very generous family discount on those.)

And there are 8 new pinnies (aprons). I wanted to keep some of these for myself but I have plenty pinnies and certainly don't need any more so I managed to keep my greedy little paws off them!

I have a few more shopping bags cut out and ready to sew - I think there are 15 in the pile - so I really should get on with those soon. Maybe. :oD

Thursday, 3 July 2014

rings and fings

I gave myself a rest from dressmaking the other day and played around making some rings.

They're made from cover buttons which are glued with hot glue on to ring blanks. As long as you keep your fingers away from the hot glue, it's a fun game!

Then I took some earrings which I'd got on sale - I think from Matalan?? - and cut the stalks off using pliers. (Yes, I was watching Wimbledon on my iPad at the time.)

Then I used more hot glue to stick them on to kirby grips with pads on them.

Next I made some more kirby grips with covered buttons and a ring and a pair of stud earrings.

The earrings were made with a smaller size of cover buttons - 11mm. (The ones I used for the rings and kirby grips were 15mm.)

These are a great way to use the tiniest of pieces of fabric from my scrap boxes which I can't seem to make myself throw out. I think I could make them for the next 10 years and I still wouldn't have used up all the scraps! :oD