Friday, 27 March 2015

Here and Now


Loving ~ that the Easter Holidays have finally arrived and my pooped Smalls can recharge their batteries.

Eating ~ birthday cake tomorrow. Tall Girl will be nine!

Drinking ~ a wee glass of red to celebrate it being Friday.

Wearing ~ pink socks with ice creams on the side. They make me smile.

Wanting ~ My new sourdough starter to turn out ok. It is at the dodgy stinky stage, but I am trying to keep the faith...

Thinking ~ about my friend Morag. I always think of her the day before Tall Girls birthday. We saw her in an am dram production of Copacabana the night before I went into labour.

Dreaming ~ of warm sunshine. We had a taster this morning when it was warm enough to have a cuppa with my friend in the garden.

Monday, 23 March 2015

A seriously big tent

If you asked me Are you a camping sort of family? I would have said Yes! without hesitation, except that we haven't. Haven't camped. Well we did once for one night but with two teeny weeny dome tents and not a lot else.
You see, for five summers I was either heavily pregnant or had a baby and no inclination to make life more tricky than it already was. Then we went off on our subtropical adventure and did lots of campfires and outdoor fun, but no camping. But now we are back, none of us is pregnant, none of us requires a nappy or to be fed during the night and we are definitely up for some more outdoor adventures. So, we bought a tent!
Yesterday we had lots of jolly fun putting it up for the first time...
Clearing a space.

Laying out the footprint (my word tents have changed!)

The excitement of being allowed to hit stuff!

Poles practically long enough to reach pole to pole.

Feeding poles into pole sleeves

Looking good...

Woah! That is a big tent!

Bedrooms for everyone.

Boys and girl.

Mummy and Daddy.

And a porch.

Phew! Big Trouble found a sunny patch for a little rest.

Planning our first adventure already!


Saturday, 21 March 2015

Our World - St Helena on the BBC

For anyone who followed our adventures in St Helena, you might be interested in this lovely and thought provoking film currently available on BBC iplayer.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Denim Dress Ta Da!

I went along to my sewing class this week with two goals in mind: Set in the sleeves of my jersey denim dress and figure out button holes. Both of these scared me a bit, but if ever there was a time to master them, it was under the watchful eye of Brenda, my teacher.
She inspected and approved my pinning. I used most of the pot of pins on the two sleeves, I was determined that those beauties were not going anywhere! 

Mini Ta Da number 1: A pair of perfectly set in sleeves! I am pretty pleased to say the least.

Next on to button holes. My machine is pretty simple and has a 4-stage button hole setting. It took Brenda and I a while to figure it out on some scrap fabric, but after a bit of practice... Mini Ta Da number 2: My first truly successful button hole.

And just to prove that it wasn't a fluke...

I left the class having done three and feeling pretty confident. Yesterday instead of doing the things I was supposed to be doing, I couldn't resist and finished off the other three and added the buttons.

And here we have it: Ta Da!

Once again Dorothy was doing a marvellous job of modelling for me while I took pictures but I did have a go at taking a selfie or two in the mirror. Warning: I am extremely bad at this.

Lets go back to Dorothy who doesn't need to remember to hold the camera out of the way, try and press the buttons without wobbling, focus, stand well and not scowl all at the same time.

So onwards and upwards... I was pondering on what my next project should be when a friend sent me some patterns her mum had collected including this one. I am going to make a long tunic/short dress (have you spotted a theme here?) in this lovely fabric. It is a pretty simple pattern but includes making and using your own bias binding, something I have never mastered. I am hoping that the talented Brenda will be able to sort that one out for me too.

No sewing for me today though, it's off to strip I go... Strip wallpaper that is. Off the ceiling. Yuck!


Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Denim dress - work in progress

I am absolutely determined to get as much as I can out of my sewing course. With this in mind, my current project is a jersey dress. I really wanted to have a go at sewing with a stretch fabric. The pattern, McCall's M6885 is not specifically designed for jersey, but since all the fiddly bits - the button placket and the collar are reinforced with iron on interfacing which stops them stretching, it seems to be working ok. 

I am making view D but with a straight bottom edge like view C and no side ties. I may add these at the end If I think it needs them, but generally they don't suit me.

I have a newly formed love-hate relationship with tailors' tacks. This pattern has a lot of markings and they seemed like a better option than chalk which I find inaccurate, and disappearing pen which I have never used but sounds like a recipe for disaster. The tailors' tacks are a bit of a faff because they do come out at the least convenient moment and you end up with little bits of thread everywhere, but they are quite easy to be accurate with.

Although this fabric is jersey, it is designed to look like denim. With this in mind I have done all my stitching with a contrast thread just as you get on jeans. This is VERY unforgiving and is making me very careful about the neatness of my topstitching, but I love how it looks.

This is a very time-consuming make, and I am doing the majority of it at home between classes so that I can turn up to class with the next tricky bit all ready to go. Tomorrow I will be setting in the sleeves, and if there is time, making the button holes, something that I have never been confident about.

I have some cute buttons that I am looking forward to stitching on as a finishing touch.

With the end in sight, I have to work out what I want to make next. I have a skirt I want to alter and might do that, but I have time, I think, for one more big project before the end of the course.

If you were me, what techniques, fabrics or notions would you choose to learn next?


Thursday, 26 February 2015

Introducing Dorothy and a Ta Da!

I have been meaning to share this Ta Da with you for weeks but couldn't get any decent pics. J hates taking them for me and the day I wore the dress specially when I was in London with a friend, it was so cold that I really didn't fancy taking my coat off! Upshot is there are no pics of me wearing it. Instead you have my pal Dorothy. Yes she finally has a name. It just came to me one day that that is her name and how could it ever be otherwise!

She has the great advantage of having no self conscious qualms about how she looks. She stands tall and proud and looks fab, even if her frock could do with an iron...

I am super-please with this zip. With a little guidance from my sewing teacher (always tack/baste a zip, sew down the middle strip where the weave is different) it is the neatest zip I have ever managed,

My facing skills still leave a little to be desired but with hindsight I think it will be better next time.

I do love the pocket linings though, and the pockets! Ahh a dress with pockets, an illusive but wonderful thing!

It fits me really well around the bust but is quite loose around the waist which I like. I considered adding some darts to the back of the waist but laziness outdid the feeling that a little more shaping would be good. I can always add them later if I want to.

And, it looks great with my current favourite necklace!

I have been working hard on the next project and have even taken some work in progress pics to show you next time.


Friday, 20 February 2015

A lovely but unusual week.

Once again I didn't mean to be away so long. I have had a lovely but unusual week...
Unusual thing 1: My Smalls are away with J and his parents. They have gone skiing and I have not. I know lots of people love it, but I can't find anything to like about it. Cold slippery expensive...
Lovely thing 1: I have been away on my own to visit very old friends in Cambridge and London. (To clarify, the friendships are longstanding, the friends are, to within a whisker, the same age as me.)
Unusual thing 2: I have had no internet access. My friend's router was bust.
Lovely thing 2: We had lots of time to potter and pootle... I found charity shop treasure of the very best kind, a vintage pattern and a book that I have fancied reading for ages.

Unusual thing 3: I made something for the second time. I almost never repeat a project but the squares I made for the Do You Mind If I Knit blanket never arrived at Lisa's, presumed lost in the post. It is a shame because I had popped a little bit of treasure in for her too. Anyway, I have made five more squares and will be sending them off on Monday. Fingers crossed they make it this time! I have also started free-styling a crocheted hat for myself after enjoying the process of making Tall Girl's so much. Only ripped it back twice so far...
Lovely thing 3: Me making granny squares prompted my friend to get me to teach her. We found an excellent book in a charity shop to jog her memory when I am not there and she set to. The first square was a little wobbly with questionable tension, but the second was better... Hurrah for another hooky convert!

Unusual thing 4: Our living room is empty, the dining room is extremely full, and I have begun: the beige is on its way out. So far I have rolled up the carpet, removed the gripper strips from round the edge, and demolished a dodgy old cupboard. I think I need J back to get the carpet out completely and then me and the steamer will attack the nasty wall paper.

Lovely thing 4: Hip hip hooray for radio four and iplayer! A few hours of demolition passed in a flash as I took the opportunity to catch up with a few of my favourites.

Unusual thing 5: In between the travelling, pottering, pootling, hooking and demolishing, I have found time to slow down a bit this week. I have watched TV in the day, I have had a lie down in the afternoon, I have read books when I am not too sleepy to read more than a page or two and I have thoroughly enjoyed it.

Lovely thing 5: Tomorrow I am going to collect J and the Smalls and I am completely looking forward to having them back. I feel rested and raring to go, and that is both lovely and unusual!