Saturday, 31 May 2014

Fabric printing testing

I had a go at printing on some fabric today, I only have the one colour as I wanted to see how it works and how it lasts through the wash before I invest in any more.  I chose aqua (just because I like it) but if I plan to get any more I am going to buy just the primary colours and white so that I can mix my own colours.  I bought it from a shop called the Range and it is a little pot for £2.49, it was £2.99 in hobby craft and the same online, the make is Dylon.  If anyone knows that the cheaper makes work just as well let me know as I saw there were sets of these online and they were reasonably priced.  For my fabric I just used an old shirt of my husbands (he always passes them  on to me for fabric) but it did have a fine raised line in it which does affect anything you print.
I decided to use a potato to try it out first as they are easy to cut into and I didn't really have anything else suitable to print with, I know you can buy all the tools and foam stuff for making your own print blocks but I really just want to see how this works first. To be honest I don't want to be spending much on it so anything from around the house I can use will do just fine. I cut it into a square then I  cut a square from inside that one, that bit was tricky as I had to score the centre square then chip the bits of potato out.  I blotted the potato then as it is full of moisture and I used a small brush to paint the fabric paint on. 
I went along the fabric in rows so as to cover the whole thing, at first I thought I could paint it on then do maybe three prints but the colour fades so much immediately after the first print that you really have to load up the paint before you print each time. 
You can see that you get a bit of variation in the squares I think some of that is of course the way the potato has held the paint but some of it is the raised lines in the fabric.  I quite like that though as it is not too uniform. 
This is what it came out like and I like it but can you see where disaster struck? I dropped the potato just as I was finishing and there is a little splodge in one of the squares.  It now has to be left to dry before setting with a hot iron so I moved on to another bit.
This one I did just using the brush and it is supposed to look like waves.  My teenage son came in and said he liked  this one, he had been laughing and asking me how old I was when he saw me potato printing.
Here they are drying, the yellow one was to see if it would go green on yellow or just sit on top of the colour. as you can see it does go green on this very bright cotton. I used the square again and overlapped it lots,  not sure I like this one though. Next time I will try and cut some stencils but they will have to be paper  so they may go soggy quick. I want to see what the paint looks like with a crisper edge.  I suppose you could just paint a border on things free hand if you are artistic.  I think this would be good for people who do quilting because if you get given fabric you can change the look in lots of ways or maybe just stencil or print on certain little blocks.  I don't what I will use these bits for yet but I want to fix it and then wash it just to test the staying power of the colour, I will let you know how it gets on.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Our Italy Adventure

We just got back yesterday from our trip to Italy and were greeted by the grey clouds and pouring rain!  This is sort of the reason many people like to go abroad for holidays despite the fact that we live in a beautiful country we just don't' know what the weather holds when we book for holidays at home.  I have had a lovely time, so have the children  however my husband is not so sure. He said it was not what he expected, (expensive, crowded, people being rude and too many beggars!) well to be honest he was right on some of those points but it didn't spoil my experience, well the prices did make my toes curl on a regular basis but then we knew that before we went.
We chose a city based holiday so I think that is perhaps the reason my husband didn't see the beauty he was expecting, of course the historic buildings were beautiful but I think he would have preferred a more rural setting. We stayed just outside Pisa in a hotel and though the hotel was lovely and had apparently won many design awards, as a person who likes the outdoors and a bit of freedom I found this a bit restrictive.  for a start there were no tea or coffee making facilities in the room! Anyone who is English will know how ridiculous this is, what no cups of tea when I want?  Going and ordering one whenever you felt like it would not be an option as the hotel prices were so expensive.  We did buy in juices and water for the children and kept them in the mini bar fridge but water is not always enough is it?  The grounds of the hotel were very beautiful.
These were covered beds you could lounge on outside, but the bar for this was overpriced on day one we ordered drinks for all for of us and it came to 10 euros but the next day the children had gone to the room out of the sun and we had a juice each but this time it came to 12 euros for two drinks!  Now how does that work?  The only reason I can imagine is that the waiter brought them over this time but husband ordered at the bar so I'm sure he would have preferred to carry them himself for such a huge difference in price.
Also the hotel room was quite dark and we didn't have a balcony so if  you were in you were in and this could feel a bit oppressive.  I would definitely go self catering if we went again and this is usually what we have done in the past but a hotel seemed like a big treat, obviously it's not so much of a treat as I thought. That caravan of ours must have changed me more than I thought (ha!)
We spent our first full day in Pisa and got a bus straight away at the end of the street, bought tickets at the new agents (tobacconist they say) and the bus came in a few minutes.
I didn't even know my son had taken this picture until I was loading them all on the computer just now.  We had just got off the bus and bought a map from the machine, we were trying to figure out where things were and then we just set off randomly walking anyway.
We decided against going up it, there was a very long que, I had read before hand that you would be rushed once inside and also very expensive again! I was happy to be there and seeing it with my own eyes I didn't feel I had to stand on it to make the experience worthwhile but I do realise lots of people think that way.
This is in the centre of Pisa, we found we didn't use our map at all after that initial first look, we just walked around found the tower by the street signs then just wandered. Always a good way to see everything I think but you can relax knowing you have a map if you need it. We wanted something to eat but not a lot as we had had a big breakfast and knew we would be having an evening meal at a restaurant so we found a bar away from the main tourist trap of the tower.  We sat outside and ordered a pizza and four drinks but when my husband went to pay at the bar a very rude owner said no you cant sit there and only order that!!  So he said come on we are going.  We found somewhere else and ate there.  This was one of the instances of rudeness we didn't like, however the restaurant we ate in near our hotel in the evening had wonderful friendly staff.
I  also had a look in the Desigual shop while I was there, and my husband thought I was very odd for wanting a picture taken outside a shop.  I love it, though I didn't buy anything way too expensive but look at that shop front, so colourful! 

For anyone who doesn't know Desigual is Spanish and based in Barcelona but they have stores all over the world but I have not been in one until now, I usually look online, in the UK the stores are in London so not near me anyway.  I walked around and oohed and arghed at all the lovely colours, dresses and bags then a sales lady came over to tell me that if I spent over 100 euros I would get a free holdall.  (not happening)
We went to Florence the next day, again a quick bus, then an hour on a train and we ere there. Very, very busy in Florence, beautiful  buildings but so crowded, you are literally walking into people and you sort of get swept along in some points.  We found it a bit more difficult to navigate our way around here as the street are so close and the buildings so tall you can't seem to get a good feel for which direction you are going. We found our way to the Medici chapel and museum which is somewhere I wanted to see and paid to go in there, I have been reading about Leonardo de Vinci and his connection to the Medici's  it was also good to see the statues by Michelangelo in there. Quite amusing I thought was that the ticket lady just threw the tickets on the counter at us! Rude again but you have to laugh. You were not allowed to take pictures in there though which was a shame as it was amazing.
Here are a few pictures of Florence...

What I did find was that it was hard to have much choice to eat when you are a vegetarian, I had pasta with tomato or margarita pizza, now I was expecting to be eating all different types of pasta with lovely sauces but as I don't eat meat I had only the choice of two things.  I did ask in one restaurant if they could do me some vegetable and pasta and I was told no just cheese with pasta, very odd.
Our last day we went to the city of Lucca, and we agreed that this was the prettiest place.  It is a walled city, once a fortress and the walls are now pedestrian walk ways with people running or cycling around the top. We walked around then down into the town for a look around, much more relaxed and very clean.
We were on top here and you can see some of the wall at the other side, this is the view outwards. 
This is the view down, once you cross the street you are in a maze of old buildings.  The town is enclosed by the wall.
We bought yet more pizza from a deli here and ate it on the steps. (must eat lots of fruit now I'm home)
It really is a lovely place Lucca and I would recommend a trip there if you are holidaying close enough ( we were an hour away by train).
Yes that is a bag in my hand I did buy something, I bought a little jacket from a shop which I think is probably their equivalent to our Select or something like it as it was very reasonable. No designer labels for  me. On that note though I looked in the window of Prada in Florence and the clothes were just plain ugly! I tend to think you like what you  like and the label has little to do with it. I said to my husband I didn't see one Italian charity shop, do they have them?
Finally how pretty is the airport? There were lots of these statues outside the building on the grass we checked in the bags then went and sat back outside to make the most of the sun before we had to come back home, this was at 8.15am yesterday. I'm looking out of the window now and the sky is full of grey clouds.
Now extravagant holiday over I will back to saving and keeping myself in check.  This was our first holiday abroad in about 5 years so well planned and saved for. Things I would do different, definitely self catering, a more rural location ( though close enough to get public transport) and we are thinking of maybe using the ferry or tunnel crossing next time.  I don't know if that will be to Italy we may try France (maybe take the caravan), but I would like to see Italy's Lake Garda one day, but that could be a longer way off. I think it's good to have things to look forward to, but I always like to make sure they are well planned, well within our means and at the best deal. 
Oh something I was massively impressed with was the Italian supermarket, we went in and bought some cold stuff to eat on our final night as we didn't want another overpriced meal out and the food on offer in there was unbelievable. A whole section just on olives, seafood, fresh produce just gorgeous, we bought all sorts a cooked chicken for meat eaters, spinach pie and salad for vegetarians, plus drinks and puddings.
We took it up to the hotel roof terrace and had a little picnic, we probably shouldn't have but oh well.  Like I said self catering next time.
We booked this holiday last September, hotel and flight separate and sorted all our own trips and transfers, we found the hotel we were staying in was now double what we paid.  This just shows that a bit of forward planning works.   On a final note I went and did all the food shopping for the four of us for just over a week yesterday in Aldi when I got back. I spent less than what it has been costing us for one family meal in Italy!!! Ouch.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Why so much spending for holidays?

I have been out to the shops today to get some required bits for our holiday, that is what prompted this post and my shock at the amount of money that was being spent! I am really looking forward to my holiday in Italy and it is something we have planned for. My parents are coming to take care of the dogs and I went out to the shopping mall today as my oldest son needed some trousers, youngest needed sunglasses and light slip on sneakers, plus sun cream.  That was all we really needed and I had got some trousers for my younger son to take with us last week which were greatly reduced from £25 to £5.  I know people like to have nice things to take on holiday but the sheer volume of what some people were throwing into their baskets was just unbelievable!  I was off work today as school closed yesterday but the shopping centre was packed, is everyone off today?
This is what I saw

 The school holiday is next week so there were lots of people buying for holidays and I could hear a few conversations as I stood in the que but do people really need so much new  stuff?  All you hear on the news is about how everyone is struggling to pay bills and mortgages due to all the price increases and yet go to any shopping centre and I'm sure you will see loads of people loaded up with bags. Many of  those people will be unemployed.  Ok I'm making assumptions but this is based on conversations with people, parents of children etc who complain about their finances and then buy unnecessary things, tell me that their children would never wear clothes from a certain shop (What??) or make sure their children have  a new outfit for every single kids party, disco or whatever.  It is I know, none of my business and I  want my children to have what they need, however I work for it and I don't buy excessive amounts of anything I feel for myself or them.  I will be hemming a couple of pairs of trousers later down into shorts that are a bit short in the leg but are still good, I will be taking away with me some of my refashioned clothes and I will be very grateful that I am in a position to able to travel.
Looking forward to seeing this
I hope to have lots of images to share when I get back, we are just going for 5 days as the flights worked out so much cheaper to go Sunday to Thursday  as I always need to travel in school holidays. We also booked it all back in September and we have found that the hotel is really expensive for anyone booking last minute.  
I hope all the people out doing their insane mad shopping trips today also enjoy their holidays  and haven't ran up too much debt to spoil it all when they get back. 

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Fabric Print Ideas

I nearly bought some fabric last week from a lovely website I found through the blog Four Square Walls (It's a really good blog and she must never stop sewing!) however being an american site the postage on the fabrics I chose was just ludicrous, $27.00 for just 2 metre.  I was really disappointed as they had lots of print jerseys which you just don't see here and I have not found anything similar on any   other online fabric shops. I went through the process of signing up, creating a password and entering all my details before they informed me of the postage costs.  I think it would have been a site I frequented had it not been for the cost of postage, I really do not understand why they are charging so much and they are probably missing out on a lot of UK customers due to this.  The site is Girl Charlee and I've just had another peek and got cross all over again, I may drop them a message and ask why the high postage.
How cute are these? This is just a small sample.

   Anyway after that little moan it got me thinking about having another go at creating some of my own designs on fabric  using fabric ink.  I had the disaster dyeing incident earlier in the year and haven't really tried that again since but I think some delicate prints on a plain background may work and hopefully be more successful.
I would like to do some screen printing at some point but that is messy, uses lots of ink and getting the repeat right over large areas could be difficult.  I saw some great ideas on Handmaker's factory blog here are some images...
I love this orange on a neutral background and using the toilet roll tube, fab idea. I think I would like a skirt in that design and I hope they don't mind but I'm going to copy it when I get back off my holidays.  I will share the post with them when I do because the blog is all about sharing ideas and encouraging others to reinvent items.  I just wonder about the staying power of the ink through washes once you have completed it? I'm sure there will tips about such things out there.
I have also brought home the fashion design drawing books from the library that I ordered.
This one is £18 to buy
This one I've been looking through and had a go at some of the tips, it is really good I may jot down notes but after 3 weeks if I still feel a need for it the price is only £3.99 on Amazon.

This one has gorgeous illustrations but maybe more complex than the last so I will pick the bits I need but it wouldn't be one I would invest in. Maybe for the  more advanced.

This one is more basic but feels like a child's book ( maybe it is)
Not one I'd buy
So I will work through these over the next few weeks and see what I get out of it, i may find that the book on  my wish list is no longer required now that I have these. I think the library is good for learning all sorts of things and it doesn't cost you anything to try something new that way. One of the annoying things when you sign up for paid courses I have found is that there is always a number of set books you have to buy which are generally quite expensive.  It makes you think well couldn't I have just got the books and done it on my own.  I did eight years worth of courses with the OU and I'm glad I did and sometimes you need those qualifications on paper.  I do  think however that anything you are learning for your own personal development can be done now using books and there are so many how to videos on the internet.  There is no excuse really not to try something new. Just don't go trying to operate on yourself!

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Tree Seat

I was busy last week but I said I would share what my husband had made with the free decking boards  he was given.  It has been a week but to be honest the next day when I wanted to photograph the finished seat it rained, I managed to take a good photo as soon as the sun made an appearance so here are the images of our new tree seat.

Here is the shape all cut and laid out on the floor, he made a tiny one first which I forgot to take a picture of just to check his measurements. The whole deck below it needs re-staining, that will be another days job.

Here it is complete with legs, I don't think it needs a back rest. It just gives this little corner of the garden a bit of interest.  We had some paint left from the garden arbour so he managed to paint it all to match at no cost, he just finished painting and then it rained.  The paint was ok, it's under the tree and I think it was quite quick drying.  I had to wait a couple of days though to take a picture without rain.

The rather past it fence has come down at the side also this week as we have opened up that top bit of garden. The remaining fence at the back is a bit mismatched as you can just see the other fence panel poking over the top in the picture. We are going to get some reed screening to cover the back fences to make it more attractive.  The arbour is also moved to the top in new position so I will take more photos as it all takes shape up there.
I was really pleased with this as it didn't cost anything, the bits of deck were given as the owners were throwing them away and the bits of paint were left over.  The tools my husband already has as these mount up over time when doing jobs around the house, also some were passed on from his dad. 
 I saw a garden tree seat here...
It's very nice but £129. If anyone is interested in a seat like this but doesn't want to make one the site is Coopers of Stortford

Monday, 5 May 2014

Girls dresses

I was asked to make two dresses after last weeks experiment in making the baby girl dresses.  The lady asked if I could make her one with the little orange birds on but I only had a small piece left and she needed size 18-24 months.  I asked if would be ok if the back was different if she really wanted that design as I have looked and the store online where I got it no longer has any. She said yes as this was the pattern she liked, she also wanted another dress making form the little design I sent her last week with the wildlife creatures on it.  I have been busy today making these up.
back ( yes it needs an iron!)
I had to incorporate a little of the bird fabric into the back as the panels that come over with the button holes show at the front. I also added a stripe across the back, there was just enough.  I really did use every last bit of that fabric!
I have done buttons on these dresses at the shoulders as they are for a slightly older child but it would probably be ok to do the same on the smaller sizes.  The lady who these dresses are for also asked if I could do some matching hair slides...
I have enjoyed making these today so I hope they are well received. My husband has been outside all day making something with some free decking boards that a colleague of his was going to throw out, it has turned out really well so I will share that tomorrow. Has anyone else been busy creating today?

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Dress Mannequin

Today when my husband came home he had a box with him,  the children were wanting to know what was in it, maybe something exciting? For me yes but not really for them, I had ordered a dress mannequin of Amazon and here she is...
I would have liked to take a picture in the daylight but it has been so overcast today that I have just used the image from the Amazon page. Hopefully she will be wearing some new designs or refashions soon and you can see the real thing then.
I used to have a proper dress form that was adjustable before I moved, unfortunately the stand broke and after that it was sat in the cupboard for a while, we did try it on a tree stand but it was quite heavy for it and kept falling over.  I have often though I should have kept it and we probably would have come up with a solution by now.
A dress form such as the one above which is like the one I had is £115 now, I should have kept it.

 Anyway I have this one which is a size 8-10, the measurements of the mannequin are about an inch bigger than me all over which is not too bad as I will just make things very fitted on it and you still have to try them on yourself eventually for final fit. The smaller size would have been too small, I think you would struggle to get one of these that fits exactly as we are all so different but it is good to be able to hang clothing ,see the back, check hems and try different things out on it.  The mannequin was £22 so a fair bit cheaper than a dress form. This was an item I put on my wish list, now often I will put things on my Amazon list and just later take them off. It is good for this reason as an item sits there for a while and then after a few weeks or a month I might think nah, I'll take that off. Other things I might later decide that yes I would like them, it is usually books or music (quite often used at a low price from an affiliated seller)  My husband knew that I wanted this and that I would still want it later so he said just order it. I did just that, sometimes I think if there is something you will get use from such as an item for a hobby or also an activity or course that will make good use of your time, then there is nothing wrong with investing a little bit in something for yourself.

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...