Saturday, 24 September 2011

Burn baby, burn...

Well another craft fair done with. Hmm. Sold even less than last time and last times sales equalled one bag. You get the picture. But on the plus side, I did get to meet some lovely people, make some new contacts with possibilities of Christmas markets (and lets face it, if you can't sell then, then there's no hope!) and I got my hand embroidery on!
So that's what you can get done in four hours. More productive than variations on eye spy? Probably not quite as entertaining but there is an end product.

Never mind. I'm not down beat, quite the contrary in fact. I find I'm in the position that I have too many ideas of what I want to do, its just that they're not big money spinners! Can't have everything I suppose. So after spending a sunny morning stuck in a town hall, and the afternoon at the playground its time to play with the new toy. I hope the sewing machine doesn't take offense at being shunted to the side lines for a while but burning stuff is just so much fun.

This was my first attempt at pyrography. After ripping out half of the downstairs there is plenty of wood floating around the exterior of the house, so plenty to practice on. I have to say though, I'm pleasantly surprised with the outcome and I'm kind of wishing that I'd used a cleaner piece of wood now.
Steam punk fairy.. (this might get the addition of a few watch parts)
Kitchen Witch.

All designs from Urban Threads

Loving the smell of burning wood in the evening!

Take care. xx

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Old for new

I have a confession. Right now I really should be doing a workout as its been a little while. But instead of flinging myself around the front room like a mad woman (behind the privacy of closed curtains I hasten to add), I fell asleep whiile putting Pambers to bed and didn't wake up until eight o'clock, by which time I deemed it too late. So I'm baking cakes instead. Double badness! But I will have happy chocolatey children at lunchtime tomorrow.
As you probably already know, I'm a great one for reusing things that have outlived their initial purpose. I found on the Urban Threads website (one which my husband has already dubbed the "you're not on there again" sirte) a tutorial for turning a pair of old combat trousers into a skirt. Their version is fantastically embroidered as you would expect, but I am no where near a competant enough embroiderer so I fell back on a bit of applique.
It uses the final scap of my favorite red manga fabric too and I'm well chuffed with the results.

All you need to do is take an old pair of trousers and cut them off at the length you require. If its denim you're using you don't need to worry about a seam allowance, if not add on an extra couple of centimetres. Then cut up either side of the inside leg seam.

On both sides continue the cut upwards along the central seam until you reach the fly on the front and an equivalent point on the back, then pull one section across the other so that the bottom seam forms (roughly) a continuous line. Pin in place tucking the raw edge under, then sew. Trim the excess from the underside and repeat on the back. I had to remove a bit from my pair of trousers to make them fit which I trimmed out from the central back seam. Hem along the bottom edge using a double seam. Your skirt is now finished. I added the applique first fusing my chosen pieces on with bondaweb then securing it in place with a zigzag stitch.
For more comprehensive instructions and more photos check out the machine embroidery tutorials on Urban Threads.

I now have to focus and prepare for my next craft fair which is at Central Hall in Wymondham, Norfolk on Saturday morning. Pop along and say hello! Fingers crossed its a touch busier than last time!

Finally, for tonight, is there anything happier than a small child covered in ice cream?
Sticky cheeriness!
Take care. xx

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Frilly Aprons

Greetings! My parents said to me this week that I must have been busy because I haven't posted as much recently. I have, but I couldn't tell you why, its just been one of those weeks that's slipped through my fingers. Given that Wilbsy started pre school this week and therefore technically I have three hours a day that are a little freer with only one child to look after, there should have been some more time available to me, but I feel like I've been busier than ever. But having spoken to other mums apparently this is generally the case. Once again, that me time vanishes into the void...
And so to business. I have been making things virtually every evening, but there are several unfinished projects lurking in the workshop, like some cafe curtains for the kitchen, but a lack of ric rac braiding means those will have to wait. And I did have a clarinet service to do too. (Proper work.)
I made a few purses from an Amy Butler pattern for a few of my lovely Avon customers:
And then these beauties which I have had to hide from my girls or they'll be heading in that direction!

I'm trying my best at the moment not to buy any new pieces of fabric, but to use up some of my existing stash, which currently fills quite a large box. And then some. Anyway, this used up two such pieces plus a piece of calico and some bias binding.
This is how its done:
  • Cut an apron shape. I took mine from an apron I already had. Its 40cm long and 30cm at the widest point, (so an ideal fat quart size) You want to cut two from the calico.
  • From your patterned fabric you need to cut a pocket shape and an identical one from the calico too, then two strips 15cm by 80cm for the frill.
  • Place the pocket pieces right sides facing and sew around the edges leaving a couple of inch gap along the top edge for turning. Turn the right side out, fold the raw edges in and press, then top stitch along the top edge to close the gap. Sew in place on the front side of your apron, back stitching at both ends.
  • The frill is next, and this is made a whole world easier with a gathering foot for your machine. Couple of quid on eBay and quite frankly I wouldn't have bothered with a lot of frilly things without it. Firstly, join the two strips together, then do a double hem of 5mm along one edge. The easiest way to do this (and I tried a couple of ways in the course of this) is to iron the edge over 1cm, then tuck the raw edge under. Always press then the job is simple. After you've sewn the hem then gather the other edge. If you don't have a gathering foot, then a straight stitch on the longest setting will do, pull on the bobbin thread to make the gather.
  • Centre the seam of the frill at the centre of the apron, then pin around the bottom half, right side to right side.
  • Stitch in place.
  • Next, place the other apron piece over the top, right sides facing, pin in place and sew all around the edges apart from the top edge. Turn and press.
  • All that's left to do is the binding. Press your binding in half. Edge the top first, Then cut a piece about 2m long which you use to create the straps, edge the sides and the neck strap.
  • That's easier to see on the boys version which is made in exactly the same way but without the frill. Obviously.. far too girly.
So that's it. It took me a couple of hours to make three, so they're not a major project. I love things that can be finished in an evening. Gives me a slightly smug sense of achievement.

I would have got this post written a bit earlier this evening, but I got drawn into a website I just found. Its called Urban Threads and its amazing. Now I'm not usually one for embroidery, but this has completely inspired me. Not just that, if you dig a little deeper you'll find tutorials on other things to do with their designs. I can sense a bit of wood burning coming on....
Take care and happy weekend to you. xx

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Speedy Supper

I love cooking, but sometimes, certainly more often these days, I find that my time is limited and my attention divided so its useful to have a few very fast store cupboard recipes in the bag. I can't remember where this one came from, but I've been cooking it for years and its always a guaranteed cleared plate meal.

Chorizo and Tomato Pasta

Serves two (and two children)

Put enough pasta to feed the desired number of people on to boil. (The pasta that is, not the people).
In a frying pan pour in a tin of tomatoes. Add half a chorizo (About 100 - 150g) sliced along with a pinch of salt and sugar, a grind of pepper and about half a teaspoon of rosemary, fresh or dried, doesn't matter. then stir in a couple of tablespoons of creme fraiche or cream, stir and leave to simmer until the pasta is ready.

I have tried adding mushrooms to this and also putting in a pinch of chili flakes too for a bit of a kick.


Thursday, 8 September 2011


As I write, the air in the house is pungent with the odour of chutney. Having harvested all of the damsons off the small tree in the back garden, then left said fruits to sit in the greenhouse for a few days while I decided what to do with them; it was becoming a rather pressing issue today. Do something or have to throw away the lot. So I now have three jars of damson jam and nine jars of damson chutney which will be ready and matured just in time for Christmas, not to mention a pair of stained rubber gloves from trying to extract 300 odd stones from a hot jammy mixture. And I still have half a bag of damsons left. Gin next me make that is, not drink!

Its been a busy old time. Rollers have been working over time, paint has been painted, flooring has been laid (by Mr B, not me I hasten to add) birthdays have been had and the toy stock has once again increased! Eldest daughter Wilbsy is off to pre school on Monday and she is extremely excited about it. I'm surprised to find I have mixed emotions about it like most parents I imagine. Its another sign that my little girl is growing up.

I haven't been sitting idle on the makes this week either. It just wouldn't feel like I had used my time efficiently if I didn't have something to show for my evenings, and with a couple of craft fairs and art shows coming up, not to mention Christmas (say it quietly so as not to scare people!) I need to get a few new things on the table.
I put together these cute little fairy aprons from some ex curtain fabric and taking a pattern from an apron we already had.

Next up a wallet made from a pattern that feature in this months Mollie Makes magazine. I need one to match my bag as the little coin purse is far too small for anything but coins. (That's my excuse anyway and I'm sticking to it.)

A trip to Hobbycraft on Monday furnished me with some steam punk jewellery items. I can see steam punk cropping up with me from time to time, it appeals to the teenage goth I once was. The result, a very jangly bracelet.

 And finally, an end to the pile of jeans I have been turning into bags and aprons. I got left with a lot of odd sized remnants and that combined with the need for a new skirt and some inspiration from the Joe Browns catalogue resulted in this:
I took the best fitting top section I had and cut it just above the crotch.
I then cut a load of leg sections and stitched them all together, using a running stitch and a zigzag stitch to finish the edges.
I then sewed a running stitch along the top once the skirt section was long enough and gathered it. After that, all that's left is to attach the top to the bottom and that's it. No hemming required. One easy (and free) new skirt.
I've realised I'm always writing this during Torchwood and have absolutely no idea what's going on despite half watching it for weeks now, so I'm going to sign off and catch up. Take care. xx

Thursday, 1 September 2011

what to do with hubby's old jeans..

Apart from make sure that he no longer needs them first! Obviously. When I first started I did a tutorial making a bag from a pair of old jeans, this one's a pinny. Many thanks to norfolkhomemademum's other half for the donation of his jeans. I hope she approves of what I've turned them into, well one leg that is. Haven't decided what to do with the other one yet.
(Modelled beautifully by my ironing board, the only volunteer in the house at the time. Too frilly for Mr B!)

This is ridiculously simple. First, cut up the side seam of the jeans and open out. Cut off the bottom hem then cut a square to the desired length. This one was 56cm long. Even up the width so that the seam runs central- the back of the leg is usually wider, then round the bottom corners.
Next cut two 10cm strips from a piece of standard with material which you join together to make one continuous length. Then you need to hem one of the edges, fold it over by 0.5cm then fold again, iron and pin before straight stitching.
Next you need to gather the other edge. Either do this by sewing a running stitch on the widest setting the pull the bobbin thread to gather it. Or do what I did, buy a cheap gathering foot off the Internet and the job is done in minutes. I think a smiley face is appropriate here :-)
Then you pin the frill on to the apron. Match the seam on the frill with the central seam on the apron, then right sides facing, pin it around the edges.
Sew it on with a 1cm seam allowance, then zigzag the edges to prevent fraying. Iron the frill open with the seam folded back against the denim then you want to top stitch it to hold the seam down flat. its at this point I had everything crossed for the safety of my machine and my life- maybe that's a slight exaggeration; but the old girl doesn't like denim and certainly doesn't like many layers of denim, but she did it. Bless.

Pocket next. cut two pieces of what ever shape you fancy and pin right sides facing. I copied the shape of a jeans back pocket. Stitch around the edge, leaving a two inch gap for turning. Clip the corners so that they turn to a sharp point then turn out and iron. Honestly, my iron has never seen so much action since I started this crafting You can either slip stitch it close or just make sure that you catch it when you sew it onto the apron.
You're on the home straight now. All that's left to do is the waistband tie. You need a strip of fabric that measures about 160com x 10com, you'll probably need to join two pieces together to get this. then iron both the edges in 1cm and fold in half. Find the central point of the waistband and place your apron in the middle, so that the waistband folds over the front and back. Pin it all together and sew along the open edge of the waistband from one end to the other, Tidy up your edges and you're all sorted.

This is the first year I've been doing this crafting thing, and it's quite scary how suddenly the run up to Christmas starts. My craft shop has been stocking Christmas material and ribbon for weeks now. As someone who usually blankly ignores Christmas until December, I found myself leafing through my Christmas crafting books yesterday evening. Ahhhhhhhhh! That was still only August!
BTW, thank you very much to Pink Chihuahua Kisses who mentioned me in her blog yesterday!
Take care.