Sunday, 31 July 2011

Lazy Sunday Afternoon

I love Sundays. Now technically, as a stay at home mum, Sunday is really no different to any other day in the week, except it features Sunday lunch. Nice roast, vegetables to force down the children, indulgent pud.. nothing beats it.
This Sunday is especially nice as the husband has taken the children out for the afternoon. Not that I don't love my girls, but you don't need to have children to appreciate a little bit of me time goes a long way. So work out done ( so I don't feel guilty about the treacle sponge and custard), its onto the next project. Never seems to not be a project at the moment. This one is a bit of recycling/customising. Growing girls need new furniture and its very hard to find exactly what you're looking for. In this instance, it has to be pink (everything has to be pink) and with butterflies on. So far, the orange pine bed we bought on eBay for £20 looks like this:
Now, the eagle eyed among you may notice that the husbands shed is also a touch on the pink side. This was not me. He started it. Second coat and butterfly stickers to be added tomorrow then hopefully it will be a bed fit for a butterfly loving princess.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Cake Day

I don't know what's happened to all the cake this week. I could have sworn I baked on Monday, yet today the tins are bare. I don't think its entirely down to me (well I'm pretty sure). Must have made small cakes. That'll be it.
So I'll share with you my store cupboard fruit cake. This is based on an old Delia recipe and is lovely and moist. It is a tea loaf which means that it keeps really well if it actually stayed in the tin long enough for that.

In a saucepan. heat:
150 ml water
150g sugar (I use whatever brown sugar I have as the end result is really treacly but any sugar will do)
100g butter
150g sultanas, raisins.. again what ever dried fruit you like. I've also chucked in dried apricots before now.
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
Simmer gently for about 10 minutes. you will need to keep an eye on it and stir regularly. The first time I made this, it boiled over and a hot sugary goop is no fun to scrub off the hob. Once its a deep brown colour, leave it alone to cool. I sometimes get impatient and try and go on to the next step straight away which kind of works but you run the risk of cooling the egg before it hits the oven and you get strange white streaky bits in it.
Once its cool enough, stir in 175g flour, 1 egg and 1tsp baking powder. quite often I'll also add a tsp of spice, ginger is quite nice. Pour it into a 1lb loaf tin and bake in the oven at 170c for around 45mins. The original recipe says 90mins, but I found in my oven at least, that was way too long.

I make this cake every week and every week it disappears which says it all I think.

And yesterday evening I did as I said. I turned this:

Into this:
And yes I did end up covered in glue but most of it was all over my fingers and not over the fabric which is the main thing. For the pattern, have a look at Laundry day clutch purse. All completed before Torchwood too!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Letting the dust settle.

And it has. Dust everywhere. Every surface has that fine, grainy texture that just doesn't seem to want to go away. But I'm not going to complain, I think I'll just teach the girls how to use a duster effectively! Because I have a shiny new kitchen and everything works. If I sound surprised at that, I don't mean to, its just gone so smoothly so far.
The only thing I don't have and I didn't even consider, is the crap drawer. The one that's always stuffed with bags, batteries, old mobiles, pens that don't work.. I could go on, but I think Michael McIntyre got there before me! I'm now on the hunt for a new home for junk, because its not welcome in the new room.

Tomorrow night, I will quite literally move the kitchen sink, (how we wound up with two, I'm not quite sure), off my work bench and get cracking on my new purse. I get the purse frames at ridiculous prices off eBay then cover myself in glue making the things. I've made several now and can't seem to be able to do it in a non messy way. I got the pattern off u-handbag, nice and simple and adaptable to any size frame.
But for tonight I think a nice glass of red and a browse of Making magazine. I bought it last week, but haven't really had chance to read it properly. Something to look forward to.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

The Frilly Denim Bag

This is my first tutorial so please bear with me. I know what I do but that doesn't always make it that easy to put it across to other people. The nice thing about this one is that it uses up an old pair of jeans and because denim is quite a thick material, you can get away without interfacing. I made the whole of this bag without going near an iron, an adage I try to live my life by!

I haven't done desperately close measurements as this depends on the size of jeans you've got and the width of the frilly stuff you get hold of.

Firstly, split your pair of jeans up the outside seam and open the leg up, then cut two panels from the widest section. Mine measured about 17" x 12".
Next is the creative bit. Pin on your first line of frilly stuff. (I know that this probably has a proper term, but frilly stuff is descriptively perfect). My top line was 3" down from the top, but put it where you like. As long as it looks right and you do the same on both sections so the sides line up, it really doesn't matter.

Sew this in place.
Then pin on the next line. For the width of my frilly stuff, I needed to pin it 2 1/2" down from the first line so that the top was covered by the higher frill. Repeat until you've covered the bag. Because my frill was quite wide I only needed three strips of it to cover the panel.
Then do the same on the other panel.

The next thing to do is to sew the panels together. Put them right sides together, line up the frills so that they make a continuous line around the bag, then sew together. I stitched up the sides first then tucked the frill that hung out the bottom in before attending to that bit. Turn right side out.
It was at this point I decided to put the pleats in. not the best time, I admit. It is a bit easier to do them before you sew the sides together, but on this size of bag its simple enough. From the central point, which is the seam of the jeans, I marked on a point at 2 1/2" then another inch, then another 2 1/2 ", then another inch on each side. Match the marks together pointing in towards the centre, to give two pleats on each side. (I really hope that makes sense!) Pin in place.
The strap was made by cutting off the waistband of the jeans. Perfect width and length and no folding or hemming or interfacing involved. Pin this on the right side of the bag, facing downwards. And make sure its not twisted. Done that before. Several times. Then all you need to do is machine base in place.

So that's the outside done, now to the lining. Here again, you can do what you want. In this instance I didn't add pockets because I wanted to create a quick bag. I also didn't put in any kind of snap or zip fastening, but if you want to do that, then now is the time. I cut two pieces the same size as the outside and sewed the sides and the bottom together. Just make sure that you leave a gap in the lining of about three or four inches to turn the whole bag through.
I then put the bag outer inside the lining, right side to right side. I pined the side seams together, then the central points together, then put pleats in the lining to match up with pleats on the outside. (Again, this is a fast way to do it, not necessarily the correct way.)
Now the fun bit (that's if you haven't been having fun so far). Machine stitch all around the top, then turn your bag out throught the hole in the lining. That's my favorite bit, when you can see your bag in its near completed state.
All that's left to do is slip stitch the gap in the lining and top stitch around the top of the bag. Take it easy at this point. This is definitely my swear word moment. Not only have I lost countless machine needles to denim but its also the most obvious piece of stitching on the whole bag and if you mess it up at this point its really irritating (that's me being restrained!)
So that's it, all done!
Any questions I'll try my best to coherently answer, all comments gratefully received.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

First Craft Fair

So I've been producing these bags like a crazy bag obsessed lady for a while now. Every time I see my friends I have a different bag, obviously for road testing reasons- to make sure the stitching, strap etc is long enough; not just because I have fallen in love with the latest scrap of fabric and creation from it. I decided to have a shot at selling them. I have listed them on etsy and folksy (check them out! (Please)), but nothing beats people being able to pick them up and have a good look. My photographic skills aren't up to enough yet to be able to capture them as I like to see them.
Anyway I sat in a cold hall, with quite a lot of other cold stall holders and waited...and waited...and waited.
To be fair, it wasn't what you'd call busy. In fact it was a long way from what you'd call busy. My dad helpfully told me that everyone was going on holiday today, so they were all obviously sat on the  motorway, not visiting craft fairs. If it wasn't for my dear friend who gave up her morning to come with me, I would quite possibly have suffered a severe case of boredom. As it was, we were getting to the stage of writing a list of things to do at a craft fair. Game of porn I spy anyone? Her suggestion not mine!!
But I did sell my first bag to a member of the general public, my first sale to someone I don't actually know, so that has to be a good thing. And I also got some good ideas of what to do next time. Bags for boys. Hmmm..

Came home to my nearly finished kitchen. One more day with the electrician  and we're in. I've already got things in cupboards, as the cupboards are disappearing from kitchen number one.
And this is what hubby looks like after a long morning with the girls!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Its chaos here. Seriously. We're in the process of fitting a new kitchen into our current dining room and its just getting to the messy stage. The plumber has been in today and done a sterling job in the face of a barage of questions from daughter number one. Who is three years old. But whose knowledge of plumbing is now good enough for her to give the plumber an appraisal of his work Apparently he did a very good job!
So on an evening like this, once the girls are sound asleep (while the peace lasts), I take myself away to my workshop. This is my do everything place. My sanctury. Somewhere I can tuck myself away, shut the, I wish it was a door, but currently its just a stairgate; and do what I want to do, or need to do. Sometimes its in my professional guise as a musical instrument repairer and the place (and me) gets very messy with key oil, duraglit and soldering equipment. Or sometimes its with the sewing machine out and the latest piece of material I've just purchased from the fabric shop. It doesn't really matter. Its my hideaway and I love it.

This evening I decided to make another bag from a pair of old jeans. In my efforts to lose weight after having the children, I've ended up with quite a few pairs of jeans which no longer fit. Most of them have now a new lease of life as bags or aprons.
I made this one a while ago. Its big, with loads of pockets and carries everything I need; nappies, juice bottles etc, plus my stuff too. Tonight I went for a slightly more refined version, more summery, with a few pleats thrown in for good measure. I love putting pleats in a bag, (think I'm slightly obsessed) but it creates a lovely shape and structure.

Once I've got my pictures sorted, I'll post a tutorial.
This is my first posting and it wasn't as difficult as I expected it to be. I kind of launched in there, hope you'll forgive me for that!