Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Days of Flowers & Fun

It's been a floral, sunny and perfect first week of the summer holidays. We're so lucky to live in a holiday county where the coastline and countryside is fabulous.
We kicked off the holidays with a glorious day at the beach where the girls and their friends had seals swimming alongside them. 

When we chose to send the girls to their school we explained that meant we couldn't afford holidays too. They're happy with this as they really enjoy every day of school so much, but just sometimes I wish we had the pennies to go a bit further afield. That's only sometimes as I see such happy girls who love being at school.
I just thought I'd mention it in case you wondered are these people afraid of leaving Norfolk!

Right outside our door are quiet lanes running through cornfields waiting for us to cycle along. We pedal away until we find the perfect spot to hide and munch our picnic lunch. 

Sometimes we find it's not just us hiding out. 

Last week we managed to come home laden with flowers, eggs and homemade strawberry jam from all the honesty stalls we'd passed.

We've also been fruit picking. Miss Millie turned our haul into a raspberry, honey, lime and ginger cheesecake for Friday night's meal.

I rustled up lots of different salads and then the girls prettied up outside for an evenings dining experience.

Now we're feeling properly relaxed and ready for the rest to unfold. We've so many plans and dreams that I doubt we'll even get halfway through the list, but we'll certainly try.

I do know I'm not getting quite enough sewing time. That does need sorting out very soon. 
In fact, after our fruit picking the girls and I headed off to town where I found the beautiful fabrics up top. 

The delicious cotton lawn was in my head all day Saturday. As I was stuck in a hot city waiting for Miss Rosey while she went to the cinema with her friends any plans for that had to wait. After three hours five red-eyed girls appeared, having watched The Fault in our Stars. I couldn't even cope with Watership Down and even the sound of Brighteyes still sets me off. Although I'd love the story, I've avoided Warhorse because I know that would bring on throat hurting full on sobbing. Miss Rosey was just that bit braver, although she knew she'd get really upset.

On Sunday morning I was up and about fairly early with the house to myself. No one rose until 11am. After two nights of thunder storms with girls and cats jumping in bed with us they were all shattered. 

Finally I could get on with my plans for the lawn that had had me in its thrall ever since Friday. You know that thing when the vintage fabric you've lusted after and known must exist suddenly appears in your hands and you just feel giddy with pleasure. Or perhaps that's just me and I need to get a bit of perspective here. 

Anyways. Sunday morning. It's quiet and I know exactly what I want to do with my treasured find.

This time I was going to make up the Jiffy dress (Simplicity K1609 in case you were wondering) with a bow at the neck.

As the delicious fabric is so floaty and light I decided to fully line the dress so it wouldn't rip and pull out of shape. The pattern doesn't offer tips for this, but all I did was make an exact copy of the dress pattern, but just a little shorter in the length. 

As I didn't have any lining fabric to hand I used a soft lemon striped sheet instead.

By the end of Sunday, straddled either side of meals and other whatnot, I had a finished Jiffy Shift dress.

This is my most favourite, most pleased with and most loved dress that I've ever ever made. 
Can you guess how much I like it?

At a guess I'd say the fabric is 1950's as it's 36" wide and the colours are far more 1950's than 1940's. To jiggle it all about I made it up in a 1960's pattern and lined it with a 1970's bedsheet.

Excuse the mad staring eyes. That's me after two stormy bad sleep nights and one late sewing obsessed night.


The cardi I knitted a while back looked an absolute treat with the dress too. As my mum was staying over and I'm still hiding my tattoo from her (five years on and I'm in my 40's for god's sake) I always cover up. 

Mind you my man has added another tattoo to his arms of the most beautiful mermaid. I must show you as it's his design based on a C19th original sailors one. It's got me thinking about maybe adding another one somewhere else.

All dressed in my new finery I dropped Miss Millie at her friends while I went off to have the Bob put back in my Bob.

Then on the way back I grabbed them and my other two mischief makers to head for a paddle and an icecream.

Isn't summer grand.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Blog Hopping

At the moment there's a thing called a blog hop going on, bouncing from blog to blog to find out more about the how and why we create.

I was asked if I'd like to join in by Jacqui over at Living with Ethel and Claire at Mrs Brown Makes
two very lovely blogs you could hop backwards too if you fancied, although I'm supposed to being hopping you forward really. I think hopping back and forth is far more fun, don't you. 

Oh and before I go off chatting away, a few of you thought I might have meant I was going to stop blogging. Well no that won't be happening as I love it too much. So there you go, you're stuck with me.

First thing to think about is What I'm working on Right Now?

Well there's just no way that could ever come down to just one thing. Like most creative people I'm a flitterer. I love to knit, crochet, sew, make clothes, cushions, bags, quilts, toys, brooches - whatever I'm in the mood for really or what has been niggling away in my head waiting to become a real thing. When I get new yarn or fabric I get excited about working with it so everything else gets dropped.

So right now I'm slowly adding a row here and a row there to a large stripy blankie.

I've forgotten about my pink flower cardi for now, but I could get the urge again any day now, who knows.

Instead my needles have been working away at more of these beauties. I realised I just don't have enough and that won't do at all.

Dressmaking has become my main thing at the moment. I'm really trying to push on my skills and set myself new challenges with this. There's so much to learn and as I'm self-taught I'm really proud of all that I've achieved. That said I have a huge pile and bag load of half made things to finish and then a long list of requests also. 

So you see, I can't settle easily on anyone thing. For me it really is about what I'm in the mood for and also what's practical. I can knit and crochet anywhere, but when I sew I take up our huge table where we eat and the girls craft or do puzzles. A crafty room all of my own would be bliss, but then I also love being here in the heart of it all too. We're a creative family and it's a huge part of daily life to be making a something.

My big job right now is a commission for a patchy blanket of floral happiness. I've been asked again and again and have finally said yes. As I have the summer off this year I knew I could fit it in.

Now for the next question - How does my work differ from others of it's genre?

This is a complicated one. I guess we all like to think we're original and certainly not copying others, although we can't avoid being inspired by what we see around us. I used to organise and sell at at vintage fairs and makers markets until a couple of years ago when I decided I wanted to focus more of making without the demand. My dad had just died and I needed to slow down I guess.

Now I'm ready for taking it all up again. I've been selling a few of my Annual Tops and accepting a commission or two. I have plans, just need the oompph that goes with it now.

So to answer the question I'd say my work stands out by the way I put my colours and prints together. I know I've got a good eye for balancing up colour and I think the ones I'm drawn to have become part of my style. I also think it's the little touches such as contrasting facings and bindings on clothes, the spotty strips sewn on patchwork along with the colourful rows of stitches. 


Next thing for me to consider is - Why do I write and create what I do?

Simply put I just feel I need to, I can't not do it. Whatever I'm doing, wherever I am I have ideas playing around in my head, I look forward to getting home and trying these ideas out. I get a surge of bliss in a yarn store or rummaging through piles of vintage fabrics and trims. It relaxes me and makes me happy and that's what life should be I reckon. 

I write my blog for so many reasons, but the main part is to attach a story around what I do, connect with like minded people and to think my thoughts through properly.

I also write stories, one day I might even be brave enough to send them off.


Mixed up with that is my love of vintage. I've always loved old stuff, kitsch stuff and childhood happy stuff. It's all part of being creative to me. A friend said the other day that it must really P*** you off that how you've always been is trendy now so you just look like another follower. I've never  quite seen it that way. I love that there is more of it about and that I can now share it all with more people. My tastes have just evolved. As a teenager I wore 1960's coats with Victorian petticoats and bloomers, now I seem to wear 1970's bedsheets and make my older colleagues laugh at work seeing their bedding mobile.

Last question I have to answer is - How does your writing and creative process work?

My first thought is, it doesn't. It's all a haphazard affair really. I find it easier to be creative when no one's at home as I can really lose myself in the moment. By that I mean no distractions so I don't feel guilty for grabbing my time. Otherwise there's the demands to clear the table, the school run (which thankfully is no more until September hurrah) household chores and going to work when I'm in the middle of something. 


I used to struggle to balance my teaching head with all the stresses of highly vulnerable teens where it's demanding, full on and sociable with the solitary flow needed for me to be creative. 
Simply put I think it's because I surround myself with creative things, I write my ideas down and go with the flow grabbing the creative moment as it arises. 

Hopefully that wasn't too much of a long read for you. 

Now it's time to pass the baton on and send you off blog hopping to two lovely ladies out there.

I'm meant to choose three blogs to join in next week, but I chose two. Rules bring out the rebel in me.
 I'm blog hopping over to Letitia at the Bloggings of Mrs Bertimus and Ada Bee at Vintage Sheet Addict.

I found Letitia's blog a while back now and just felt I was meeting her in person every time I read a new post. She writes openly and straight sharing her passion for art (she's an amazing painter and needlestitcher, along with being an art teacher). We've become bloggy friends and one day I might actually get on one of the workshops she's running at Hope and Elvis to meet her for real. 

This is what she has to say to say hello to you:
Mrs B loves stitching, painting and charity shopping. The kettle's always on and the bissy tin is open for anyone that wants to pop in and visit. There's also a mad Chihuahua in the mix and charity treasures ready to be snuck into the house.

Next up is Ada Bee who is a lovely lady to have in blogland. I was touched and suprised when she wrote to me years back, before starting her own blog, to say how reading mine and Jane at Teawagontales
had kept her happy during tough times. Through her blog Ada shares her passion for life, bringing colour into her home, her love of family and friendship. She shares lifes ups and downs, but there's no misery here it's simply a sharing of life's realities and how her family deals with it. At the moment life has taken a change of direction so although Ada may not be able to take part next week? I still wanted to send you off to read a lovely blog in case you haven't visited there already.

Monday, 7 July 2014

I've been here and I've been there

A fair old while back when other bloggers found their way onto Instagram I just didn't get the allure.
I have an account on Flickr, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook, but I hardly ever visit any of them. 
Life is too crammed full of other things to lose myself in there.  I guess it's all down to which ones work for you so don't go thinking I'm judging if you like them.

I really thought I'd feel the same about Instagram, but actually I'm now fully signed up and loving it. It works for me because it's visual and speedy. I can dip in and out on my phone or ipad wherever I am.

Blogging will always be my favourite place as I love to write and take photos. I love the connections I make with other people, although due to the above and life in general, I seem to be reading less and less blogs.

Now I have to switch between my bloggy head which always seem to be a week behind the news and my IG head which is right on time. 

So in the spirit of general catching up I thought you might like to see the latest fabric finds.

Being kind, as I was out and about with my man, I bought a tiny glass Pug as a suprise for him.

On our dash back to the car to hurtle into the school run traffic we passed the most fabulous window. A new opticians had the decorators in. Personally I think they should keep it like this and work around them.

Meanwhile, back in IG land there's a lot of showing things and then getting a case of the I wants.

A very inspiring lady, who goes by the name of daisybeenecklines, showed her cardi found in Sainsbury's. After the very very nasty gold buttons were binned and red ones added she had one gorgeous cardi indeed. A few people wanted one, me included. Nothing doing in my neck of the woods until my blog friend Penny sent me one as a gift. I'm really touched by her kindness, but then if you  read her blog you'll know how lovely she is.

Yesterday I got my cardigan parcel and so I've changed my gold buttons to white. No photos to show you as I was racing about to teen parties and the like inbetween button sewing.

 Today we'd planned to go to the Lanes Festival to make up for missing the Lord Mayor's Procession the day before (due to teen parties and only having one car). Well it rained and rained and rained so we wimped out and stayed home.

That means I found a moment to get my making head on. I made a flat cake, got halfway through sewing a new skirt and rustled up some mini bunting.


You see I painted the blue shelves stone a few months back when really I wanted them to be white. Now they're white and I'm loving them, but I still need to paper the back as the paint just won't stick there? 

They were looking too minimalist for the clutterbuck house we live in so mini bunting was definately needed.

 In other breaking news, I've unpicked, re-cut and sewn the collar on my blouse. 

Buttons have been added to the back and hemming just waits to be done.

 First though I need to add a triangle to each of the sides as I've made it too tight at the waist. I could stop eating sweet stuff, but I think the blouse will get sorted quicker than my growing waistline.

I think I must have helped my waist shrink a bit on Friday mind you as I walked miles. 

My man and I had a day just for two. No plans at all. We just dropped the girls at school and then said where shall we go then?
A short while later and we were at the coast.

We headed straight for the sea, down all the steps to the shoreline to a waterside cafe we know. 

We hardly ever eat breakfast, this time we shared a veggie fry up and sat and watched the world go by.

Then we headed off for a long walk, explore and much needed time together. 

We might live together, have a family and work together, but finding time to enjoy the company of each other gets lost in the day to day most of the time.

Our mini holiday was just what we needed, although we did feel a bit guilty. My man said maybe we'll tell them we've hoovered and done nasty things all day.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Patching together my Summer

 I saw a couple of patchy bags on Instagram recently. That got me to thinking about making my own bag.
In my stash I had three odd shaped squares of barkcloth that were too small to do anything with.

I loved these squares and felt sad that I didn't have more. It's always the way with vintage fabric finds. Mostly there's only enough for small makes and so you have to be even more creative about what you do with it.

 I chose a few other bits of barkcloth to add to the three cream and floral squares and then got chopping until I had twelve the same size.

All patched together, I took my threads into the garden with a man of mine and a jug of Pimms to run colourful stitches along the rows.

The next morning it was a quick job of making a lining and base before stitching the whole thing together.

I'd planned to use pale blue ready made handles, but when I got them they just weren't right.

Now I need to make cloth handles which I'll have to stitch on the outside as there's far too much unpicking needed otherwise.

On a roll with patching I decided to get on with making a new cover for our sun brolly.
 Last year I thought about it all summer long. This year I thought it was about time I got on with it.

 Being as it was such a hot and sunny day I pictured us sitting under it on the lawn later on. I even baked a cake to eat while we lounged about. 

Well - instead it rained like you've never seen. Apparently there was lots of flooding in Norfolk that afternoon. Ever since then it has rained and rained. The best rain was saved for this weekend so my new brolly has hung limp and wet, probably getting stinky too.

Being inside more than usual I've been attacking the knitting again. I've finished one side and I'm halfway through the back of my short cardi. Problem is I'm not sure I like the pattern any more or if I'll wear it. I've seen quite a few I fancy knitting up more. Not easy trying to decide whether to pull out all those slowly worked stitches and to start again or keep going because I might like it after all.

As a reminder to me of what lovely summer weather looks like. On summer Solstice we met up with friends with a picnic for an evening walk. 

The girls ran ahead with the dog, bounding through the cornfields.

In the middle of the woods we came upon a ruined church. Once the village had been sited here, but had eventually moved further down the hill to drier land.

After trampling through bushes and trees we came upon old brick kilns too. 
I forgot to upload that photo from my phone.

It was a magical evening. Hushed girls voices came to us from their hiding place in a field while we ate and drank. 
Pure bliss.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Learning As I Go

Here I am again. 
I was going to write a post last night, but I got distracted by a bit of post-war drama and my knitting instead.

Tomorrow the girls and I have a special extra day off. 
 School's in this County close for the Norfolk Show each year. Some close tomorrow and the rest on Thursday. We used to have fabulous family days there so I feel sad when we don't go, but it's darned expensive now. Anyways we have to get stuff sorted for Miss Millie's two day Bushcraft camping adventure so we thought a bit of mooching and maybe a ladies wot lunch treat instead.

All in all I have an extra day with my girlies, just us three.Woohoo.

Now I've still been busy sewing along these past few days.
My night time knitting's a slow old thing, one day there might actually be something to show you.

Do you remember these fabulous fabrics I found on the May bank holiday weekend. The purple's been re-born into a bag, the blue is in bits slowly becoming a coat and as for the big brash rose print. 
Well a couple of weeks ago I was buying breakfast pastries before work and I spied a sewing magazine with a great free pattern. I can't remember the name of it right now, but there you go, that's my mind a lot these days.

 Anyways, I was saving the black and greeny rose 60's print for exactly the right dress and there on that magazine was exactly the perfect dress shape.

It was a dream to make up. In fact it took a whole night of football until 1am to stitch it together. 
I changed the pattern about a bit to suit my height and longer rib cage and I was off. 

Now I'm thrilled with the dress apart from two things. One, I kept it to the 1960's hemline, but I think I'll have to lengthen it as my knees shock the hell out of the dress. And for two, I just don't do black at all. I have nothing black to go with it so it's not been worn in public and roadtested yet. 

For me if I can wear handmade in public for a whole day, feel great and the outfit doesn't rip apart then it's an all round success. I love the dress, but it hasn't loved me back yet.

Even so I really enjoyed making this and as I love the shape I'll try making more of these dresses. That was before finding a fabulous book in the library.

I'd not come across Gertie before, she also has a blog you know, so it was all the more exciting to find this gem of a book. I'll be ordering my own copy once payday comes around as I want to make pretty much everything in this book too. All the clothes in it are exactly the styles I love so I'd better get stitching hadn't I.

 A dress I absolutely love in it is a drop waisted cocktail dress in a sassy leopard print. Well I'm sold on it and fancy a saucy hussy dress for myself before I get too old.

I thought I'd kick off first though with a Peter Pan collar blouse where I had to draft the collar myself.

 Now having used up nearly all the longer lengths of fabric I'd got in my piles and being on the skint to very skint side I turned to my trusty pile of 60's and 70's bedsheets for inspiration.

 I chose a white with pink rosebuds in the end, although I think a polka dot is made for this pattern.

 I re-drafted the blouse pattern for my shape and then followed the instructions on how to draft your own collar. That's the thing that interested me about this book. It's about the more advanced dressmaking techniques I want to learn and all in designs that I love. 

To make a lot of the designs you have to re-draft the patterns and there are brilliantly written explainations to help you learn how to do this. As I want to keep on learning all I can then this book hits all the right buttons. It even uses boning and horsehair stiffeners so it's serious stuff!

 Now at this angle it looks like I've done ok with my Peter Pan Blouse. Actually my collar's gone wonky and shrunk on one side and I've yet to sew all the buttonholes down the back.

For sanity, as I've got to unpick facings and bias bindings, the blouse has been stuffed in a bag for now.

I did find a few other things to get on with between then and now mind you. I'll show you those makes next visit.

 Thanks for stopping by and leaving your encouraging words. 
I was really pleased you enjoyed reading my last post so much. 
The fact that you say you find this a happy place to visit means a lot.
I write honestly and from my heart, it's how I am.

Now I believe bed is calling as my eyes are struggling to keep open. 
Night night.