Monday, 30 December 2013

Recycle and Re-use

I've been looking around today and thinking about taking the decorations down but not quite got to it as I know it will look dark without the lights from the tree and village. I usually do this New Years day so I think I will wait until then.  Also need to store again the little gift bags and bits that are ok in the top of my wardrobe as I always re-use the bags and bows if I can.  I also have some coloured envelopes which just have our names written on which can be used for card making or making your own gift bows, I did one earlier and it turned out ok here it is..

As you can  see it is quite a decent size, I put it beside my cuppa so you can get a good idea but you could make different sizes and its a good way to use up odd bit of paper. I got the instructions from another blog here but it was basically cut three strips of paper 27cm, three at 24cm then one at 5cm.  You just twist them into a figure eight shape and glue, then layer them up, just loop the last one.  I stitched through  the middle of the pile of mine to make it secure. it was very quick and you could do them multicoloured or out of fabric.  Thank you Thrifty Magpie for that idea.
I've started my resolutions already as I never see the need to wait for new year to make positive changes, had a good walk with my dogs and started this weeks book it's one I had on my wish list  and bought for myself ( it couldn't be ordered from the library or I would have). It's called  Unstoppable by Nick Vujicic, such an amazing person, I am half way through it  already (oh lovely holidays!).

If you want to find out more about Nick you can do so here, there are also videos of him surfing (yes surfing! that cover photo is real.) with Bethany Hamilton who lost her arm to a shark in 2003 another inspirational person. If you haven't seen the film Soul Surfer I suggest you watch it, but you will probably cry ( I did). 
There are some amazing people out there doing incredible things, try and remember that when the evening news shows you all negative stuff that's happening.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Resolutions and baking

I've been doing a bit of baking today I have thought  recently that I would like to make more of the snacks the children eat rather than buy cereal bars for packed lunches that are full of rubbish, but also making bread. I don't think this would be all our bread as we get through a lot and I wouldn't be able to keep up but at least make some of it.  My husband picked up a bread maker one week but I told him to put it back, bulky to store and well it would feel like cheating.  So while I was browsing last night I came across  Pitta bread recipe on BBC food website by Paul Hollywood and decided I would try these today.  The recipe says strong flour but being impatient and not having any I just used plain white, but hey they came out lovely.  Here is the picture from the website as most of mine have been eaten already (good sign) they were maybe not quite as regular in shape but very similar and tasted fab.

I will have to remember to take photos before devouring the baking next time. I loved watching the Great British bake off when it was on and was super impressed with some of the fantastic stuff made on the show, so I will continue to try and improve my own skills but don't be expecting any three tier cakes, it won't be happening.   
So that is going to be my resolution number one, to bake some bread every week.
I also made some white bean dip (humous) to go with it also from the same website here. I  don't know why I haven't made this before as it is so easy and you just put it all in the blender and add the oil until it is the right consistency. You can also adjust quantities of salt or juice etc. to suit your own taste so this has to be better. I used lime instead of lemon juice as I always have limes in the fridge and it tastes good.  I worked it out and as I  used canned cannellini beans  the cost of making it is less than half what I pay at the supermarket. You could use dried beans which are even cheaper but then you have to boil them for such a long time you have to factor in the cost of gas or electric so I think canned ones are just as cheap. 
Tomorrow I'm making flapjack then I'm going to portion it and put it in the freezer so  I can just take it out to put in lunch boxes. 
I've also found a really interesting blog called The Prudent Homemaker there are lots of money saving ideas on there but some of them are extreme and it is an American site so lots of links to U.S codes and business sites.  The mum who owns this blog must literally never sit still, she has about seven children ( home -schooled)  grows most of their fruit and veg, makes most of the family's gifts and clothes,  cans preserves, gives talks. Wow! She plays it down a little by saying she is home all day and doesn't go out to work but I say she does work as she is educating and caring for all those children while making the best of what they have. 
My next resolution is not to drink any alcohol in 2014 and if I do that it might become ever.  I don't have much but I will buy wine sometimes when we go shopping once a week, quite often I get it home and its not even very good. So I won't be buying any. I will have to inform family of this as if my mum goes away she will sometimes bring me some back as a gift.
Resolution number three is to choose my attitude and make it positive and not let others negativity spoil my day.  I have been reading a really good book this past few weeks called  The Power of Positive thinking by Norman Vincent Peale and it has really made me think how much time I have wasted  worrying over pointless things.

Number four is to do more exercise I already swim and walk the dogs but I'm going to aim to do something ever day.  Now I have two x box games which are fitness and dance central so I can do those,  also the dogs need walking but I can only count this if it is a substantial walk ( but I do walk fast)  I swim twice a week as I have membership and I also have a pilates work out on the laptop so no excuses really not to do anything. 
Number five is to read a book a week,  I have perhaps watched too much T.V this year I checked my Goodreads list and found I had only added 15 this year well that is a bit rubbish.
So there we have five that I can stick at, and two of them my friends can pull me up on if they catch me complaining or drinking! 

Friday, 27 December 2013

Lovely lazy Christmas and a bit of sewing

I'm having a lovely time enjoying the Christmas break and I hope you are too. I haven't been anywhere much just out with the dogs but I did get to go and have lunch with my two lovely friends today so that was good and  a reminder from one that I haven't posted recently so here I am.  Now that I have recharged a bit by being away from work I have done a bit of sewing, I started this patchwork cushion this morning and I have just finished it when I got back from my outing.  It is a central square and then you just keep adding a rectangle as you go around, I literally just cut the fabric as I went along and used lots of prints.  I'm sure the patchwork experts will be saying no that is not how you do it you are supposed to plan and see what colours go where etc. Well I like the cushions to look a bit wild so never mind.

I've realised since I finished it that the deer fabric I used near the bottom has resulted in all the deer having their heads missing, whoops! I like the riot of colour any way.  I first saw a cushion similar to this a few weeks ago on this blog  attic 24 Lucy does mainly crocheting but she had done a post on colourful cushions so if anyone out there knows if there is a name for the design on my cushion let me know.
Also read some fabulous craft books while I've been off all from the Tilda series.
I think the fairy tale wonderland was my favourite although some of the figures and creatures look very intricate to make, they do come with patterns but my books were from the library so I wont be using those, but good inspiration and gave me a few ideas for themes I may make things around.
I also made today a make-up bag/ clutch purse for my Folksy shop  I used the cherry vintage fabric again wow that stuff is lasting to say it was a piece left from a dress.  I thought I might make a few of these and see if they get any interest.

It is lined and has a zip so I suppose it could be used as a small bag to hang from your wrist. I have a full week left so I will crack on and be sure to make more. 
Also having ideas about making dolls so hopefully will have something to show on that front soon. Right I'm off to list that make-up bag on folksy then a cup of tea and my book. Have a lovely Christmas and I will leave you with this image of my tree. 

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Turquoise Tartan Dress and another bag

I've been busy these last couple of weeks and managed to get a bit more sewing done, I bought some gorgeous turquoise tartan from the fabric shop  two weeks ago and made up a lined shift dress with zip.  I'm really pleased with how this turned out and the fit, again I didn't use a pattern as I feel they are all pretty much the same and once you have made a few dresses you no longer need to bother with over priced expensive patterns.  I urge anyone who sews and uses patterns to take the plunge and buy some cheap fabric and  deconstruct a dress that fits you well and have a go at making your own.  Once you have done this  a few times and changed the styles and yes made a few mistakes, you will save a fortune on paper patterns.   I had a straight dress that I like but I didn't take it apart, I don't need to do that anymore, I just lay it down and cut around it  allowing plenty for the seems and trying on. I make up the dress and also put in the zip, I try it on and it is only at this point that I mark all the darts using pinning, it is best to try on the dress inside out to do this  and you will get a perfect fit. You can also figure out if you need to take in the side seems at this point and if the neck is where you like it.  When you have made all these adjustments you can cut out your lining and mark them all on here also. I could give you endless instructions and some pattern making books I've had from the library make it look very complicated but the best thing to do is jump in and have a go.  Buy some fabric that is cheap and you have nothing much to lose and you will learn, it's far cheaper to do this regularly than take a course.   Here is my dress below.

Here I have unzipped it so you can see the black lining, I already had the lining so it only cost me for the fabric and zip which came to £6.00 for the fabric and £2.80 for the zip, the dress fits perfect and when you consider people pay  around £6.00 for a pattern alone you can see why I don't bother. 

A friend of mine had also asked me to make her a bag that she wants to give as a gift so I have also been getting on with that.  I had a leather bag that someone was giving away and the top wasn't very nice  I also had some new fabric with butterfly design that I bought for myself and had only used a little of.  i bought purple ribbon from hobby craft and a bag strap from the charity shop.  Finally I had a floral second hand dress with lots of fabric in it and some denim of course.  
Here is what I came up with

I cleaned up the leather with leather leaner and it came up lovely and soft, it has a zip fastener and I used the dress as the lining I like it so much  I want to keep it but I can't as it is promised to someone else even though they haven't seen it yet.  I love purple.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Clothes Dyeing 2

Well I dyed the T-shirt but it did not come out well.. When it was wet it looked ok but then you have to wash it and when it dried it appears to have strange patchy marks all over it. Its a shame because the mark on the back looks a bit like a pattern. If that was even all over it, it may look like an effect but its not!
Here is the before

Here it looks like flour is wiped down the front, Oh dear more strange patterns on the back.  Now I only wore this T shirt rarely under things before so it can continue its life in that way now.  I used the correct quantity of salt so maybe I just didn't stir it enough.  I'm sure these dyes are better if you are just brightening to the original colour and not changing it completely. I think any future dye attempts will be done naturally.
I have a lacey effect jumper with a low neck I will probably wear it under that as the neck area at the front looks ok.
I found some good ideas at Burda Style, the flower mashing dye job below looks great.

I think that is the way to go next time, not trying to get it even, if I stencil it on or use an item such as a leaf or petal then I think the results will be more acceptable.  So I have learned something, how not to do it.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Natural Dyes For Clothing

Just recently I bought a dye for a t-shirt of mine that I really like but it is beige, and beige is not really for me. To be honest the t-shirt wasn't very expensive in the first place and I could have just bought a new one.  The thing is there is nothing wrong with it and I like the style so I thought I'd give dyeing it a try and put in some denim pieces while I'm at it to give some of my bags a new shade as a background.  I haven't tried it yet, I am going to do so later.  It is a Dylon one that you put in a bucket ( I didn't want to risk the washing machine one but if anyone has tried it let me know)
This is the colour that I went for, I really like purples and I think this is more purple than red.
Now I know that dyes have chemicals in them but we all wear  clothes with such dyes everyday, this is all the reason to wear our clothes for longer. We can update them, donate or change them into something new.  So I did have a conscience when I bought this dye, so I've been looking at natural alternatives to dyeing clothes and there is loads of information out there on this. Here are some ideas at this blog

 There are also instructions for experiments you can do with kids which is a great way to get the children involved and bring up some interesting questions about preserving and recycling.  I think I will try some of the ideas at Planet Science .
I will post before and after images of the garment to be dyed even if it is a disaster.

I've also seen this lovely book for anyone with little girls Sew Pretty T-Shirt Dresses  I'm sure lots of clothing items could be saved in this way.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Custom Child's Bag

I was just asked earlier today if I could make a little bag for a toddler as my friend wants to give something a bit different,  a gift she can keep. I used my recycled bits and bobs as usual but I have to say it probably took me a while longer than I anticipated as working small is fiddly! I also hand embroidered the child's name on the front as little girls like to have their name on  things.

I did two little handles she can hold, I didn't want anything over the neck as this could be dangerous.
I lined it inside also with the same little butterfly fabric that is on the front.  Also no buttons or fastenings as she wont be able to work them yet.

It isn't very big but when she has done playing dress up with it and is a little older she could keep her crayons in it.  She could also hang it on a peg in her room to keep hair accessories or things like that in.

It would be nice to one day have one of those fancy machines that does all the embroidery for you. That said I do like to sit and hand sew things, it just doesn't have that professional look. Oh well it does have the handmade look though.  It measures 14cm across and is 12cm deep.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

New shop

I have just spent the last few days trying to set up a website with shop. I used which was good as they allow you to set up a site for free and they have templates. However nothing is ever quick is it? This seems to have sucked up lots of my time and some things didn't go as planned you have to go to paypal to sort out your shipping and it seemed to only want to let me have prices based on value whereas i wanted them based on location. For example if I am shipping to USA this was a bit confusing. You can find my Fabbags shop here.  Also my items are one off and it doesn't give you a sold sign on your item as it sells which is something I need really. Oh well I will give it a go and see, I have still kept my Folksy shop also at my folksy shop

Monday, 28 October 2013

Handmade roller blind

I have caught up on a few things this last week. The first thing is I have been meaning to replace the roller blind in the bathroom for a while now and I had the fabric but I just hadn't got around to it.  I bought the fabric earlier in the year from IKEA for £5 pounds which I didn't think was too bad and it's quite a heavy fabric for curtains or upholstery. I took the one down from the bathroom and just removed the fabric from the roller. I then took out the panel from the bottom that makes it hang straight, I laid it out on the fabric and cut a piece allowing for a hem up each side and a channel for the plastic panel at the bottom and hemmed. This really took no time at all so I don't know why I have left it so long.  My husband then got his electric stapler and stapled the fabric to the original roller blind tube. ( If you don't have one of these you could go with my original idea of strong fabric glue, or there are quite strong tapes now that even hold up pictures!)
We put it up and it has transformed the window. Sorry the picture is dark, these dark nights mean that if you don't get time in the daylight you have no chance of a good picture.  I think the orange goes well with the mosaic in my tiles ( sorry you can't see this in the picture)

Now I know you may look and think well shouldn't the birds be the other way? Well you may be right but because of the width of the fabric this way it fitted with the  meter I bought and of course I don't mind.  The mechanism in the blind still works perfectly well and it means I have a new blind for a fiver in just the fabric I wanted.
The other thing I caught up was some more cushions for the living room. I showed a few some weeks ago but this is ongoing as I wanted to replace all of them.  I have done two more using up my fabrics and charity shop pillow cases etc. They are both different designs as I like them to look random. Unfortunately again the picture was taken in the evening so it does not do the colours justice.  
If you look at the cushion with the heart in the center you can see a bit of the cherry vintage fabric that I made someone a dress with a number of weeks ago.  I like to use up all the little bits. 

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Autumn mini break

Last weekend we went away in our caravan to make the most of the late sunshine. I've been trying to get on here to post but I have been getting an error message every time. That is the reason for my absence. we went to Sherwood forest caravan park which is brilliant for a short stay as at the weekend you do not have to leave on the Sunday until teatime so this gives you another full day. We were right beside the river so we had a lovely view when we sat outside and there is loads of room the site is big but scenic so this is great for walking the dogs. Here are the dogs I have two Jack Russell's.

We visited Newark on the Saturday which is a nice town to visit and we have been there before, there is a castle and another good walk along the river with a market in  the town square, always good for a look around ( you don't have to buy anything you can just look. Shocking I know!) 

The weather was amazing all weekend so this made it a wonderful inexpensive get away but things would have been very different if not for the weather. We even managed to eat outside both evenings. In October! We had jackets on of course and the children rode around on their bikes.  On the Sunday we visited Rufford Abbey and I will definitely be returning here again, lots to see, and once you have paid for parking entrance to look around the ruin is free. 
Here is the wonderful nature reserve part that you can walk around.  There are places to eat and a children's play area but mine were a bit old for that and I would take a picnic as eating at these places is always expensive for what you get. It is always better to eat outside if the weather is nice anyway.  

After we got back last Sunday evening I feel like I haven't been able to catch up with everything that needs doing around the house. That is the one downside to a weekend away when you work full  time.  This week has seen a drastic decline in the weather however and it is much more like Autumn now, I  had to have the heating on already. I know I should wear a sweater and I do but I also need to get the washing dry and the dryer is expensive and ruins clothes. 

Monday, 23 September 2013

Skater style dress

I have been a bit of a procrastinator this past week, I have done very little sewing, no posts and very little activity ( I usually swim a few times a week) but after seeing a relative yesterday who isn't well, it made me think I need to get on with stuff. I came in today got straight on with finishing a dress, cooked the tea then went for a swim. I don't feel any more tired than I would have done had I flopped when I came home so it just shows you sometimes we just need awake up. the dress I finished is of the same style to two others I have made, one is sleeveless with pleats in red, the other is shaped to the waist  and patterned ( I made that one for my holiday) and this one in navy blue is short sleeved.

I started this a few weeks ago but the weather was still  quite warm and the jersey is quite heavy so I had no inspiration to finish it as I like to wear things when I finish them. However now it has cooled down I know I will be wearing it soon.  I had this belt a while it came with some primark jeans ages ago but I never wear it with the jeans, I knew it would come in handy.  I think this dress would also look good with a long sleeved t shirt under or a little cardi.  Has anyone else been feeling they haven't got on with things recently? How do you motivate yourself when you are feeling tired from work and think of a million excuses why you haven;t done whatever?
I often read this fantastic blog  here  the positivity blog is full of inspiring advice whenever you feel in a bit of a slump. I also think it is good to focus on a couple of things you want to achieve outside of work and not make yourself a massive to do list as this could just leave you feeling worse if you don't accomplish everything.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Pikachu toy from all purpose cloths

This past week my son has been asking me to make him a pikachu toy, I said I would do it then when we had been to the craft shop we forgot the yellow felt even though we were talking about it while we were in there! I quickly thought how I had used all purpose cloths before when I had made him some other toys ( Arx from the Astrosaurs books was one of them) and we still had to go to the supermarket so I decided that was what I would use. They are not as thick as felt but still quite useful for some craft projects and sometimes you can get them in a roll of pastel colours for about £1.50 the ones I bought were yellow as that is what I needed and came in a pack of three for 99p. they are quite a good size 40cm by 34cm.

I only used one and a little bit so I even have some left to clean with. I wasn't sure exactly what this thing looked like as he only had a picture which was obscured on a little game so we went online to find this..
Now I think it's a funny looking thing anyway but mine looks a bit different. I used a fabric pen on the ends of its ears, I just cut one piece for front and back about 30cm tall, separate pieces for the front arms (legs?)
and separate pieces for the tail. I stuffed these then inserted them into notches that I made on the front and back. I used soft toy stuffing but you could use any scraps or old tights that you have and of course it will be machine washable. I  used  some black denim on the eyes and a bit of pink felt for the cheeks ( I had no red left).  Here it is...

Now that he is finished I realise that  he needed to be more chubby but never mind my son is happy with him. 

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Vintage style dress

I said I would post a picture of the vintage dress from last week with the owner wearing it and she was happy for me to do so so here it is.  It looks much better with a body in it as it is halter neck and hanging it on a hanger just didn't do it justice

I love the cherry fabric that she chose ( apparently it was found on ebay) and I think the style really suits her figure. Here is a picture from the side.

She bought the underskirt from china so here it was out of the packet and  bit bunched up and will need a bit of a steam to get the layers hanging nicely.  She came earlier in the week and she was going to be  wearing it to a wedding yesterday, I hope she had a great time.
I was back at work this week so I feel I have not done enough sewing, I always feel it takes me a week to get back into to it after a holiday my body needs to adjust to someone else's enforced routine rather than my own ( Oh to be able to work from home full time, Sigh!) I have some grey fabric which is plain  and also some which has little horses on and I hadn't decided up to now what I was going  to do with it well now I have.
 I  think a skirt similar to this but I wont be using a pattern so it wont be exactly the same and also it looks quite high waisted and I'm not sure if I want it that high. I have in mind what I want to do with the blouse but I cant find a picture of it, something like the shape of the one below.

However this looks like it  is made of jersey and my fabric is cotton so I will do a side fastening I think with buttons or a zip I must get these done this week. I have to go now my son wants me to make him a picachu toy!

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The old caravan makeover

I recently spoke about our caravan holidays and how they are a great way to get away without spending a fortune. well I would like to share the makeover we did on our previous caravan with you. it was a four berth marauder and we got it about four years ago, my husband had been wanting a caravan for a while as he always loved the caravan holidays he had with his family as a child and his parents had one.  I wasn't too keen at first and one of the main reasons was the initial outlay for equipment and all the accessories, I also wasn't sure if it was for me but after some persuasion we decided to have a look on ebay.  We looked at loads and the main thing that put me off at first was the interior of a lot of the caravans, I didn't want to spend too much but I also didn't want to holiday in something that I though was ugly.  We decided that the best thing to do was look for one with cupboards that I could live with as the seating, curtains and flooring we could change.  We found the Marauder which was in good condition and put in a maximum bid of £900 and got it. Here is what it looked like when it arrived.
Now it wasn't bad but what you cant see from the picture is that the seating is a really washed out blue and pink and with two dogs that dark blue carpet was not practical as I would need a washable floor. The units were good though and not too dated being a light colour with simple silver handles. Here is the other end of the van.

I decided to re-do all the seating so took off all the cushions and went to Dunelm Mill and managed to get some fabric I liked in the reduced rolls. I made fitted covers then hand stitched each one to the seats so they wouldn't move about I also covered all the fabric buttons and my husband made me a gadget to push the button through the cushion so they looked professional. This made the cushions look much more fitted.  We discovered a bit of damp so my husband opened the front wall and replaced some of the board and trim and also put down a laminate floor with some left over from our previous house.  This had been stored in our garage( glad we kept it now!).  I then papered the wall around the window as the board had been replaced. Looking back on these photos I'm quite sad we let it go as we put a lot of time into it and had lots of cheap holidays but my older son needed a bit more room to sleep and the bunks in this one were quite narrow.
Here it is after its makeover.

I decided to keep the curtains as they were in good condition and went with the colour scheme. After 3 years of holidays in it and getting away about 5 times a year we resold it on ebay for £1100, the man who bought it was very pleased with it and it was just for him and his wife. The caravan we have now is a five berth and a bit younger and at the moment we haven't made any changes but we may do at some point if needed. I think part of the Marauders charm for me was that we made it our own. 

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Somerset and Charity shop finds

I have been on holiday this last week in our caravan to Somerset. We stayed on a  working farm which had pitches and also static caravans, the field we were on was fantastic as it was huge with beautiful views and there were only four other caravans on it which were all really well spaced out.

Here you can see the lovely setting for watching the sun go down in the evening. There were donkeys in the field opposite which were friendly and my son enjoyed going over to see them, one did try to eat my hoodie though!  It was only young.

We have had a caravan for about four years now and this means we are able to get away a lot during the school holidays to different places for a reasonable cost. I work in school myself and family holidays during the school holidays can be really expensive. The caravan gives us the opportunity to have lots of breaks, without it we may not get to see so much of our lovely country. We don't always get good weather though and this can sometimes spoil it but that could still happen even if the holiday was costing a fortune. We loved the site which was called West Hill farm if anyone is interested in going, the only down side was there was only one toilet and shower each for male/females however they did appear to be in the process of building a new shower block and we never had to wait for the facilities as it was not a busy site. That is the way we like them and we always stay clear of the huge camp sites as they just don't have the same feel.
We always try to get out and see as much of the area as possible, one of the first places we visited and returned to more than once was Weston-Super-Mare which I loved  and can't believe I've never been before.

The weather was fabulous which helped of course but a lovely place. The sea front was spacious and clean and views out to sea were so good you nearly forgot you were in usually grey England. 

We had some lovely meals sat looking out to sea and we usually eat in the caravan but it was so lovely with the sun shining that when we visited we ate at one of the restaurants on the front. I had a gorgeous Greek salad.
We also visited Minehead which was smaller but also very nice, the beaches here were also very good. There is also a lovely tree lined street full of shops and small coffee shops with quite a few charity shops thrown in, always good for a look around.

We visited the small habour of Watchet also but I didn't think it was somewhere you could make a day of. It was pretty and had a small railway station with steam train and a boat museum ( also very small) 
We also always try to make good use of our English Heritage membership where ever we go and while we were in the area we visited Cleeve Abbey and Mulchelney Abbey (I may have spelt that wrong) The membership pays for itself after a few visits and it makes for lots of days out.

I mentioned the charity shops well I managed to get a few bargains while I was there, in one town I found an animal rescue charity shop up a side road and I got a yellow skirt for £1 and a blue dress for £2.45 in another shop I got a patterned dress for £2 and here they are..

This dress is a bit long so I will perhaps shorten it, i also think it would look good with along sleeve t shirt under ( I have one in brown) thick tights and boots for Autumn/Winter.

Another Shift Dress

The dress I made today is from the free New Look pattern I got with Sew magazine last month. It is very similar to the scuba dress I made bu...