Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Handmade gifts

Finally I can post the things I made for pressies.
A drawing of the kids for my MIL.

A handmade totoro onesie for my hubby. I'd been doing a little bit every time he went out and I finally finished it on Monday. I'm so glad it fits. 

Monday, 16 December 2013

Work it Anna, Work it!

Wow it's taken me so long to actually post this - I finished it several weeks ago and have been wearing it to work, but hadn't got round to photographing it.

When all of the sewing blogosphere was a flutter with By Hand London's Anna pattern, my lovely hubby bought me the pattern. I gazed lovingly at the beautifully designed packaging and the clear instructions and waited... 
...for just the right fabric. I wanted a winter version and while visiting South Shields market a while ago I picked up this fabric for £2 per metre. The stall holder didn't know the fibre content, so after burn and bleach tests I figure it's a wool blend. It has a nice handle and is soft and warm. 

Said fabric was washed and I traced the pattern, straight UK 12, and cut out the pieces. One Saturday and Sunday I sewed- following the instructions exactly. The dress went together perfectly, seams and notches matched, what a dream to sew. I truly believed I'd be wearing this to work on Monday. Then I tried it on!

For the most part the fit was good, just minor changes such as extending the pleats by about 1cm and widening the back dart. I think I'm right between sizes and could have used the size 10 instead. However, the back neckline really gaped. I was disappointed as the rest of the pattern was so well drafted. I considered standing with a stoop just so I didn't have to alter it. That's just stupid. So removing the facing and adding back darts to remove the excess.  I've also adjusted my traced pattern to include darts and I've shaved off about 1cm from the top centre back seam, tapering to the original line at the waist.

After wearing it a few times I found that the front neckline also gapes a little, so I've adjusted the front by taking a wedge shaped piece out of the centre front. The next time I make it I'll also add 1cm to the length of the bodice as I'm long waisted and it currently sits just under my ribs rather than on my waist.

I'm glad I made this in a cheaper fabric and i'm glad i've worn it to test the fit - hopefully the next version will fit me better. I'm planning on teaming the bodice with Gertie's pencil skirt. I have a floral fabric  - just need the time to make it.

I do like this dress and now the fit is sorted I'll be making more. I have several Anna hacks in mind already. It's just a shame it didn't meet my need for instant gratification.

Next up will be my suit - again made, just not yet blogged - one day I will organise my life!

Saturday, 2 November 2013

...and it's all made by my own fair hands

Well I'm ready, I've been baking and mounting art work and this is the result of my efforts. 

I've made mini lemon meringue pies and cinnamon buns. The kids have helped by making flap jack and cupcakes. 

Wednesday, 30 October 2013


I've been super busy making art today. This is part of my fundraising for China next year. I'm going with international China Concern. 

I'm selling these pieces they are all priced between £20 -£50. Unmounted. (Please excuse photo quality. I've had to use my phone today.)

Email me if you'd like to buy one. 

I'm also auctioning 4 large paintings. Sealed bids - send me your bid by email by 5pm GMT on Saturday 2nd November. Winners will be highest bid, plus postage/shipping. All are 120 by180 cm approx.
1. Egress

2. Greater and lesser

3. Temporal


Monday, 28 October 2013

Now that's Cowl!

This is a quick refashion I did today. It's the first time I've worked with knit fabrics and the results aren't perfect, but they are wearable.

I got the skirt at my last clothes swap, but it was a small size 8 and was rather too tight at the waist. I thought it might make a nice cowl dress - I was going to do one with Kimono sleeves, but there wasn't enough fabric.

I've been on the lookout for a cowl pattern in jersey and low and behold there was one in this month's Burdastyle magazine. (11/2013 #112) I traced off the pattern and made up the dress. it was rather too big at the waist and lacked definition, so I took about two inches off at the waist on both sides.

Not bad for a first go - I'm thinking this will be paired with leggings, boots and my teal coloured cardigan.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Come on baby light my fire - well my lantern anyway

I was fortunate enough to get a place on the lantern making workshop, run by the Bait project at Woodhorn Museum. I've never made a lantern before, although I've done a little bit or work with wiillow, but not very successfully.  This was opportunity to learn some tricks from the professionals before working on the project with a group of students at school next half term.

We learnt how to cut the willow safely and a few tips on joining pieces securely.
A wire loop is attached for hanging the lantern.

The Tissue paper is cut to size before gluing on. This is not just ordinary tissue - its called wet strength tissue as it's less likely to disintegrate when wet and dries taught and strong.

The PVA glue is watered down and sponged onto the covered table, before the tissue paper is laid on it, covered with glue and then very carefully applied to the frame.

One layer of tissue is applied, before the decoration is added - in our case we used black craft paper. then another layer of the tissue is added - sandwiching the design between the two layers.

These lanterns looked stunning, and although they were a little soggy to take home, the final dried versions look great. I cant wait to do these with my students.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Spinning Plates.

That's what it feels like I've been doing this week. Work is soooooo busy and getting time to keep up with the blog is rather difficult at the moment. It can feel like my creativity is being sucked out of me at times - which I find very frustrating!

I am sewing in short bursts and am still working on the jacket I started  way back in August. it's slow going and I'm sick of the sleeves! One went in perfectly and the other - it's just rubbish. no matter how I adjust it it's wrong. I think I might have stretched the fabric after setting it and resetting it so many times. I'm going to give it one more go, then whatever it looks like will have to do!

I'm also in the process of sewing 9 bodices for a scene in Phantom of the Opera, which is the school performance this year. They are basted together - lining fabric only. I'll check fit on Monday and then I can start with the shell layer - Satin! ugh!

I have a few other projects in the back of my mind, My Daughter wants a particular costume and i've yet to start on that. Must do it this week! - what do you think? Pretty?

I have some clothes for the Swap last month that need a refashion and I'm beginning to think about what I'll do. I also have the Anna Pattern and have to get some good fabric to make it up in.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Challenge, Creativity and and Charity

I've been away from my blog for the last month or so - it seems like work has consumed all my life and is starving me of creativity. In a bid to bite back I'm using my creative outlets as a way to raise much needed finds for my trip to China next year to join a short term team with International China Concern. On the 26th October I'll be teaching my first sewing class, learning how to make a simple top. there are still a couple of places if you are interested! and on the 30th of October I will be undertaking a 24hr paintathon. where I will make art for 24 hours solid. I did this several years ago and it is no mean feat, particularly at 3 in the Morning.

So from 9am on the 30th to 9am on the 31st I'll be painting, drawing, printmaking and offering those who visit a chance to see art in action and perhaps make their own unique piece of art!

This will be a sponsored event, and i'll be selling the work produced, also to raise funds for the trip. I'd love it if you could consider partnering with me or would like to come and see what I do. Please contact me by email if you'd like to do this.

I'm also taking commissions for portraits and a special rate of £40 or an original graphite drawing, so if you're after a special gift for someone this could be your opportunity!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Bikini or Bather?

What's your preference? Are you a Bikini Girl or do you prefer a bathing suit? I cam across this Video when a friend shared it on Facebook. It's an interesting perspective and I'd love to hear your thoughts about it.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Tailored jacket

Im making a tailored jacket. Im trying to use some couture methods along with faster techniques.

Im using a charcoal grey wool blend that is machine washable. I've finally finished basting the underlining, which has been strengthened with fusible interfacing where needed, and marking notches etc. I have stitched the darts and bound buttonholes on the fronts and now ready to tape the roll line and pad stitch the lapel.

This is all new to me and Im using Gerties book for better sewing as a guide. I'll be posting progress over the next couple of weeks, but I already know this is going to be a slow sewing project. I want to get it right!

Thursday, 29 August 2013

A new addition

We have a new addition to our family...

Meet Daisy, a 6mth old Soft Coated Wheaton Terrier. She is the reason I haven't made much over the last few days. Good friends came to visit over the bank holiday weekend, they also have a Wheaton Terrier and had heard that Daisy needed re-homing. When we told them we were looking for a dog, they suggested we contact the breeder, which we did and she was ours.

So the last couple of days have constituted an epic road trip to collect her from Shropshire. So now I'm a bit behind with my projects. I have almost finished the plans for work. I'm almost done making two school skirts for my daughter and then It's the Jacket that I desperately need for work. I'm making this jacket from Burdastyle magazine 02/2013.

I'm going to omit the patch pockets and just use the flaps that are on version 101 instead. I'm making it in a wool blend and not a boucle so the frayed edges wont feature on my version. I'm also including some tailoring techniques to create a more substantial jacket.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Landscape paintings for the 30 30 30 Challenge

Cheviot Hills, Northumberland. Acrylic
I live in the beautiful county of Northumberland, England. we have it all! Stunning beaches, old castles, rolling hills, market towns and all within about an hour from home. To top it all off, Newcastle is only 15 miles away , so we have access to all that city life brings as well, when we want it.

Tree, Mixed Media

The paintings I'm working on at the moment are all landscapes, I've been working on 4 all at once, layering, gluing, painting, spraying. building up layers of washes and also areas of heavy body paint. I almost forgot I had some super heavy body paint and I'd forgotten how much I like using it, until I started applying it to these paintings the other day.

I have been working out in the garden as it's been sunny and warm and I've even hung the paintings to dry on the line with my washing. I've now completed 20 images (I think) that means there's just 10 to go.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Upcycling Kids Clothes - A guest post.

Today's post is written by Martha Buckley, she is a professional blogger and writer. She enjoys sharing her knowledge with others and collaborates with best custom writing. Today she shares some interesting insights on recycling children's clothes. as as I've recently cleared out my children's wardrobes I can totally relate to the things she's sharing here.

There is nothing that seems more wasteful in our society than kids clothes. If you have children you almost feel guilty when they outgrow something. Although we give hand me downs to those around us, there are so many outfits that you almost can’t give away. If there is a stain, or just the slightest of wear, most people are too vain to dress their children in it. What that leaves our society with is an abundance of clothes, made from materials that don’t decompose, that usually end up in landfills. That is nothing but sheer waste. You also don’t want to be the parent who makes their child suffer wearing ugly, stained, clothing because of your environmentally conscious affiliation.

So what can you do with those stained clothes

It is very obvious what to do with the clothes that are still in good condition, you wear them. But for those clothes that are slightly used, or those that are imperfect, if you aren’t going to outfit them on your children, there are other ways to use them. Many of the old styles are coming back again, and mix and match is all the rage. If you know how to sew, why not take the good pieces of the outfits that are still intact and make your own frankenstein version. I know it sounds kind of awkward, but if you look back to the styles of the 70s you will see that the more colorful and outlandish the more trendy clothes were. Bring back the eclectic style by piecing together the pieces that are still good.

If you have children that are older and much bigger than the little ones take those old clothes to let them paint and get dirty. Why let them play in play clothes when you can give them an old t-shirt to throw over their clothes that you never have to worry about getting dirty. The bigger, the better, it just gives them more room to cover their own stylish clothes.

Clothes need not be kept as such

Just because the material started out on clothes doesn’t mean that it has to stay in that form. In the end, material is material. Why not take the material of the clothes, especially the ones you loved them in and make a care blanket for them to take to college. If you make a blanket out of all of those old clothes, it will be like a hug from home. If you are a sentimental person, why not make a blanket for yourself. So many memories can attach to the favorite outfit you have for your children. Keep those memories alive by piecing them into a blanket, or throw, that way instead of putting them up in an old memory box, you will have them to keep you warm on a cold winter’s night.

Children love art

If you are daring enough, cut those old clothes up and let your children make their own art, or donate it to the school, or to the local children’s hospital. If you are always looking for things for your children to do, cut up those old colorful clothes into pieces, hand them some glue and let them go to town. They can make some really beautiful art pieces. When they are done, you can hang them on the wall as wall hangings to display their colorful nature. If you are room mom at the school, cut them into kits for the kids and have them make an art project at their next in school party. Let their creativity run wild while you are upcycling those clothes.

There are so many different uses you can find for old children’s clothes. Often times we are tempted to just throw them into the trash and walk away. Before you do that, think about all the things that they can be made into, all the ways that children and adults can enjoy the material. There is never a reason for material that can be reused to end up in land that just sits and rots. When possible, you should find a new use for those things that you don’t want anymore. Just because no one would want to wear them doesn’t mean there isn’t other value for the material.

Some great points there Martha, Thank you for sharing. We are lucky to be able to recycle and reuse most of our clothes. Those which are past useable are made into proggy mats, quilts etc, and the remaining fabric is taken to the local recycling centre, which uses it for a range of different purposes depending on it's fibre content.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Cool Crochet Dress

I never thought I'd use the words Cool and Crochet in the same sentence. That was until I found this vintage pattern on Etsy a few months ago. If you've been following my blog you might have seen it before.

So the story goes  - I saw a lovely crochet dress in Monsoon, but couldn't afford it, and the neckline wasn't quite right for me, so I started looking for a pattern. Once I say this I started to plan it's making, working out the right size hook to use and sourcing the correct cotton. After some research I found that my local wool shop stocked it.

I knew it would take me a while and planned top do this as I recovered from my Hip Arthroscopy. I could take it with me into hospital and could cram it into a bag, bit easier than carting a sewing machine about!

I followed the instructions carefully. I find visual instructions better then written , so it was a bit of a challenge as they were all written. The skirt part ended up way too big and I had to take out  two whole columns of motifs to make it fit, as I'd already finished it It was a bit of a pain, but not too difficult to fix.

The instructions for the sewn in lining were very vague and I decided to sew a separate slip dress. I used the lining from Pattern 103 01/2012 Burdastyle. I omitted the zip , but added a back seam to help fit it a little better.

I like the fact that I could also wear it over the top of my white linen trousers and a vest top as well as the dress.

So what do you think?

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Collette Sorbetto Variation

I discovered the Collette Sorbetto top pattern earlier this year and have made two so far. I haven't sewn for a few week after having an operation on my hip, but have just completed my first two projects for a while. I made a slip for under the crochet dress I made while I was recovering (soon to be blogged) and a third Sorbetto with the left over fabric.

This Sorbetto version has extended, Kimono style cap sleeves, which I drafted using a tutorial from Threads magazine. The front pleat and neck edge are finished with bias trim. I decided to use this beautiful red gingham trim with a picot edge, which was given to me by Helen at Grosgrain Green during the spring sewing swap. Isn't it lovely?

If you haven't already discovered the Sorbetto - it's a free pattern and can be found here.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Oh I do like to live beside the seaside...

The Northumberland coast is stunning all year round, but especially so in the summer. This is where I live and this week I've been off the crutches and walked down to the beach. (photo by Newbiggin by the Sea, Northumberland on FB). I've also just had my first Physio class and I feel great, for the first time in ages I feel like I can move normally - more please!

Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland. Acrylic, Oil and pastel

Anyway, inspired by the beautiful county where I live with it's long sandy beaches and stunning castles. I've created three pieces for my 30 30 30 Challenge. These stunning castles are all within 45 minute drive from home. This is a stunning place to live.

Dunstanburgh Castle. Northumberland. Acrylic, Oil and pastel

Not everyone thinks so as some goverment minister suggested that the NE of England is desolate and would be a suitable place to undertake Fracking (hydraulic fracturing). Maybe it would be better to Frack his own back yard, not our beautiful county - Rant over.

Lindisfarne Castle. Northumberland. Acrylic, Oil and pastel

I've now completed 18 pieces of the 30 I set out to do. The question is, can I get 12 more done before I return to school on the 2nd September? In the autumn they'll be sold off to help me raise funds to go on a short term team with International China Concern next April.


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