Friday, 31 October 2014

Large Autumn Tote Bag

I finished this bag yesterday and I have been undecided whether or not to keep it or list it.  It is not a fancy  going out bag but rather a large functional bag for work.  That is what I intended to make so that I could fit all my folders and lunch and everything in.  I then thought is it too much like a bag for a nanan?
Well anyway I'm keeping it as that was the original intention and it certainly has room for everything.
I used the fleece fabric that came last week but I had to back it with a recycled sheet first as it was just too stretchy. I also used some old grey jeans that no longer fit my sons to make the straps and flower.  I also had some little samples that came with some fabric from Moda a while ago. These came in quite useful as there were quite a few colours there that would have gone with the flower. I'm sure they will come in handy for other little bits of embellishment as well.

 The buttons were from a bag I got from the works book shop, they were with all the card making stuff and were only £1.99 about a month ago, when you think what you pay for buttons they are quite a find, they also had them in black and white. 
I'm sure I will get lots of use from these.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Frugal Errors and Overpriced Coffee

Yesterday we had a quick visit to Meadowhall, it was a necessary trip as son needed new jeans/chinos.  I like to get in and out pretty quick usually as people shuffling along at a snails pace wondering what to spend next just drives me crazy. So after a quick decision on my sons part we got the jeans and then made our way to  the Lego store ( we have to do this, it is the bargaining tool to get him to come and choose clothes he will wear!) we don't go to buy but just look and perhaps think what we might get for Christmas.
So after these brief amount of time we are heading out and we pass Starbucks, now I have to confess that over the past few months I have bought a few of these when we have been near one, nothing over the top maybe three times last month and a couple the month before.  I know you probably think 'so that is just a couple of pounds' but really when you look at it it is such a waste.  If my son has been with me or both of them I've bought us all one, at £3.00 a go that's £9.00 on coffee! To be honest the last time I had one mine was luke warm but I complain? No I was very British and grumbled about it to my son and did nothing.
The other insult about this place is that they charge you  extra to sit inside, you are a customer! Why are they charging extra to drink their product on the premises it's crazy!
Anyway it occurred to me that ever so slightly bit by bit for a couple of months I have been letting my frugal habits slip. I think this happens sometimes without us realising it, it becomes easier to spend money (or waste it) as you do so.  I have been doing the usual justifying that we do, you know what I mean 'I work full time, it's only a few pound, I'm allowed a treat' yes all of this is true but I like the freedom that comes from not having to spend money to feel good and having security behind me.
So I had a bit of a wake up call yesterday about what is important to me, and also felt a little shaken by how easily we can get sucked back into the wasteful consumerism. I walked past the dreaded Starbucks and decided that as we needed milk on the way home I would buy a jar of coffee that would last weeks and not just buy one cup.
I had to pass Tesco and when I looked they had coffee half price from £4 to £2. I came home and made us both my version of the caramel mac which Starbucks lured me in with.  I cannot drink milk I have to have Soya so this is how I made my coffee...
I spoon of instant coffee (half a cup of hot water)
Half a cup of soya milk heated in the microwave then whipped up with a fork until frothy and poured over
A good squirt of Syrup on the top (rest of the family take milk in theirs)
The syrup was from Aldi the other week £1, I use it for pancakes for the children.
Now look, that is as good as the overpriced stuff and I get to sit wherever I like.

I worked it out and the can of coffee says 55 cups on the side so 3.65 pence a  cup plus a bit of soya and a splash of syrup I think it works out to about 8 pence  a cup, as opposed to £3.00! I feel like I must have been in a bit of a daydream because yes we know it's expensive but you think well I'm out and I'd quite like a drink.  So stop and think.
There are a couple of other areas where I think I have also become a bit more free with spending and I need to reign it in.  I have bought fabric twice this month, I told myself it was ok as I have done extra sewing jobs but the idea of doing the extra work is to make money not spend it. I need to get back to sourcing more recycling for materials and not rely on the new stuff.
The weekly shop is always under control so maybe that is why I haven't noticed the other bits slipping away, now that I am mindful of it I think it will be easier to keep in check.
Has anyone else had a similar experience of realising they may have been a bit wasteful? I find it helps me to share as I become more accountable this way. 

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Scottie Dog Handbag

Well I have daylight pictures of the bag I finished yesterday so I thought I'd share. I used the new fabric for the main part but the rest of the materials are recycled, denim, husbands shirt, canvas belt, button from my stash, ribbon etc.  I always have in snap fasteners just in case the mood takes me to make a bag.
 Sometimes I want to make one and I don't have enough denim for the supporting fabric or a long enough piece to make the strap and no alternative belt or whatever then I get annoyed and start thinking about stuff I've got rid of that could have been used!  This is silly of course because we can't save everything, that is called being a hoarder, but if you sew you probably know the kind of thinking I'm talking about.
So here is the bag...
I made this one a bit longer than usual thinking people might need an umbrella at this time of year and it is so annoying when they poke out of the top of your bag.

Two functional pockets one outside one inside.

I have listed it in my Folksy Store and I would be interested if anyone is looking for something in a particular theme to let me know so I can think about making items up for my Store. 
Off now to sew something else.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Half Term Sewing and Dark Nights

Lovely half term! Time to do what I want, that is a very positive thing about October, getting a week off work, other good things are my lovely sons birthday which is a positive in itself but we also always go away for the weekend as his treat. The other lovely thing is its my wedding anniversary this month.
 Now not so good stuff about October, dark nights, cold, dead plants (Ooh yes the trees look gorgeous but the rest of the garden doesn't) and the consumer nightmare in the shops that is Halloween.  Who is buying all that pointless tat? Also what exactly are we supposed to celebrate for this occasion? Zombies, witchcraft and axe murderers? Er no thanks.
I know I sound a bit grumpy about that but really, buy a pumpkin make a lantern and soup of course (don't wast the middle, I bet loads of people do) but the rest of it is just throwing money away.
Speaking of dark nights here is a picture I took at 3.50 when I went to drop my son off at his friends house for tea.
Oddly the sky looks quite bright in the picture it wasn't as I took it, by 4.15 as I was driving back I had to put headlights on and many street lights had come on. I really am a summer person.

Now I have to find some wonderful things to embrace about the dark night so any ideas would be greatly appreciated.  I have already thought I will start lighting candles as they make everything cosy, I was very impressed buy some knitting I saw by Jo at Making it well she has recovered from an illness and been making stuff ever since.  Her sewing is fabulous but her knits fit so well, such a talented person.  I am inspired to knit something although mine wont be anything like hers.
I have knitted years ago but it takes so long I get impatient, maybe its just the thing to see me through winter.
This morning I got in an early swim  and intend to do that everyday this week while I am off as I never get to go in the morning when I'm working as it starts at 7.00 am and I have to leave for work at 7.25.  I go at night and then it is busy.
A new bag was made with little scottie dogs on, I will photograph tomorrow in day light!  I used this fabric that I was charged double for (not happy about that)...

I have a bit left so I may list that one and make a slightly different version for me.
This week I started reading 'The map of time' so far so good.

It is set in the era of Jack the Ripper in White Chappel so anyone who is a fan of Ripper Street may like it. It promises a time machine at some point but I haven't come across one yet, also the author keeps addressing you as you read with things like 'oh I'm straying off point here' and 'let us return to this character' which is a bit odd but I'm sure I will get used to it. 
Back soon with daylight pictures of new bag. 

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Frugal shop

I went and did my shop this morning straight after church at Aldi. I try and do this whenever I can as it is quiet usually at that time and I try to get in and out as quick as possible that seems to keep costs down.  It does also mean that I sometimes forget the odd item but we are surrounded by shops so it is no big deal if I have to run in and grab one item occasionally.
Today was not so quiet as all the people who are usually in bed have got up because the clocks went back and they got an extra hour! I felt grumpy having to share my usually quiet supermarket with so many other people grr! Any how shop done and I managed to get it down to £40 this week. Mainly because I didn't need any toiletries or cleaning stuff and there were some good offers on the super six stuff, peppers (pack of three) satsumas, apples, plums, mushrooms and butternut squash all 69p.
I have this week off so there will not be any rushing in at tea time thinking quick what am I making, and while I do generally plan what we are having there are days when I come in and think, oh I just want to do something quick. Being off work this week will save all that hassle.  I'm also going to make sure that when I make a curry and veg casserole etc. I'm going to do a couple extra to freeze to save me some time the week after.  Here is some of what I got...
I had already packed away some of it before I took the photo but other than the box of cereal and biscuits its all fresh stuff and no ready meals or things like that.  I think when people overspend on their food shopping those items are usually the culprits.
Ready meals are usually disappointing and not at all filling so if you can get out of the habit of buying them it will save you loads.
I do have a ready fresh soup there, I could have easily made this as I have plenty of veg so it was only when I got home I thought what have I put that in for?  I also noticed as I was checking my receipt in the store that the pudding my son chose for today was £2.99! A bit more than I would usually pay but he is a big help and was running around getting me the milk and stuff so when he asked I said put it in then.
I must check my receipts more often as I went to the fabric shop yesterday and only noticed when I got home that I had been charged for a half meter and not a quarter making one piece of fabric £7.00 for a fat quarter ( if you sew you know that is a tiny bit of fabric!) I had some other bits and notions and stuff so I didn't check in the shop, also she was chatting and asking me about my sons so I suppose we were both distracted.
 The thing is the shop is right across town so the time and fuel to get there is hardly worth going back.  I must be more careful, it's no good saving in area then losing it in another.
I bought the overpriced fat quarter for a bag I am making for my store so lets hope I eventually make back the cost. I also bought the fabric for the cowl neck dress I shared the other day and some tartan for the skirt. watch this space.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Autumn Sewing

I have been wondering what to make this Autumn/ Winter as anyone who sews will know that it is difficult to find fashionable fabrics in stores that don't cost a fortune.  Honestly I find it very difficult to find new stuff at all because so few of us do it now they don't have a very good turnover of stock.  You can go in from one season to the next and still find the same stuff!
I think the crafting fabrics get replenished more often maybe as more people do quilting and smaller items but a lot of people shy away from clothing I think.
I like knits and jersey fabrics for this time of year but the patterns available in a lot of shops are so old fashioned, even online it's not much better.  I did find an online shop called Charlie Girl they have lots of gorgeous prints but the postage was absolutely ridiculous (something like £20 for my £11 pound order!) It is a US site but it isn't that expensive to post from the US so I don't know why the extortionate amount.
I spotted this lovely dress...
This is from the Burda Style site, now I wouldn't buy the pattern as I have shift style dresses and it is an easy shape to make without the pattern if you just lay on top of an existing item of a similar shape, allow generous seam allowances and try on as you go.  You probably will get a better fit doing it that way any how. I have not done a cowl neck before but how hard can that be? Not very I bet .
Now I need to  find some reasonably priced knit fabrics in good colours and patterns and this would make a few good work dresses with thick tights.
I really like the fabric in the picture, I have a lot of black though so maybe I'm playing it a bit too safe to go for that, anything too wild can look a bit too dressed up for work.  Must investigate options for this one.
I also really like this skirt...
Also from the Burda Style site but I already have a dress that I made last year in that type of fabric if you remember from my earlier post 

So you see I tend to go for the same kind of things but I don't wear that dress very often it is a going out dress. A skirt would get more wear but maybe I need a different colour.  I like the way it is cut at a different angle at the bottom. I will have a browse, charity shops, online etc and see what can be done. Recycled would be best of course.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Make way for Christmas

Now I know a lot of people will be thinking please do not mention Christmas just yet! Well I really don't get why it has become such a headache for some people and lets face it, it will be here before we know it.
I can understand people who are struggling seeing it as one more thing to budget for, but that is it, you need to budget for it and not get sucked into the buy everything lie!
We all decided years ago (about 17 to be exact) that we would not buy for the adults at Christmas, there was one child in the family at that time (my nephew) and that has only grown to four children over the years. It immediately took all the stress of 'what shall I buy, will they like it, did I spend enough?' We all breathed a sigh of relief and have not looked back. We buy on birthdays, this is more one to one and spread out through the year.
These were 10p card packs bought on sale just after last Christmas.

I also got plain card packs on sale from Hobby craft for the ones I will make, so some of the spending is already taken care of.
People say but I enjoy the giving, so why are so many people in debt, stressed out and complaining about it? A lot of it has to do with expectations and you need to decide whether or not those expectations are your own or other peoples.

The meal on Christmas day also seems to send many people into a state of panic, do you not cook the rest of the year? If not why are you inviting ludicrous amounts of people to your house on a day in which you feel the meal is vitally important.  If you are not confident cooking then don't invite everyone, if you want to be hospitable then invite but ask that all chip in and bring something.

The main event should be getting together and enjoying that feeling of togetherness, anyone who is more concerned about a burnt Yorkshire pudding is perhaps not as close to you as you thought. ( U.S readers may not know what a Yorkshire pudding is -it's a batter made with eggs and flour cooked at a high temperature in the oven until it rises and usually served with Sunday lunch.)

My children usually decide what they want about now and we get it sorted at the best price after doing a bit of research online, they know how much they can ask for and if they want something that comes to more they can combine it with the gift they get from grandparents etc.  This has never needed to be done as we usually manage to find what they want at the set price.

Don't leave it until last minute, that is the key thing I think.  If you know it will be a struggle then start saving in January if you must, why are people rushing around in December when everything is top price it makes no sense.

It is coming! Don't stress, spend as little as possible and just enjoy the twinkly lights and time off work that what I think anyway.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Make it fit!

I have done quite a lot of clothes alterations this past week, not for myself but for other people.  This is not always the most exciting aspect of sewing but it is one of the most useful and cost effective uses for the hobby.
I had a bag full  of dresses, trousers, jackets etc. at the weekend that a friend dropped off, I replaced a zip for a colleague of my husbands and last night I took in two shirts that my husband had just bought. He always buys them for the collar to be comfortable but then they are too wide in the body.

My friend is short so her trousers will always be too short, plus she has lost weight.
Now many people would see losing weight as an ideal excuse to just get rid of all their clothes and buy new. Well that could cost an awful lot of money, despite the fact that some people may object that by the time you have paid for alterations you could buy new, that is not really true is it?  A nice pair of trousers may be £20 at least, a local person would charge far less to make them fit for you.  There is also the fact that you may still need length adjustments , so on top of the new price you may still need to have them taken up for them to be perfect.
It is also the case that you can buy great bargains at charity shops and sales if you find some one to do your sewing for you. You never have to think oh that is too long, a bit big etc, just grab the bargains and have them fitted to you.
Often when I buy things at charity shops even if they are my size I still like to alter the length or tweak things a little, it make them more to my taste.  This is something you can't always get from just going out and buying new because we are all different heights and not many people are a fixed size waist and hips.
If you have seen this dress in an earlier post that I got from a charity shop I pretty much took it apart. It was a size 14 I think, (I'm an 8) and floor length maxi.  It was shapeless also, I gave it structure, raised the hem while maintaining the border at the bottom and sized it down.  Maybe you have clothes that just need some time and attention,  it will save you money and save those clothes ending up in landfill.  Why not find a local seamstress.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Fabric, Books and Under the Weather

Well the last couple of days have been a little unproductive as I have not been well. I am wondering if it is the change in the weather all of a sudden but I have had a bit of everything.  they say you don't catch cold from the cold (I know it is a virus) but why is it as soon as the temperature drops everyone starts dropping with it.
My fabric arrived but I have no energy to get started so it will have to wait, I am also now confused as to what to do with it.
The tartan fabric is lovely and soft and would make lovely winter cushions so a bag no longer looks likely. The fabric with the birds will still be a skirt but the birds are a lot smaller than I thought so they do not give the impact I had hoped.
If I go down the route of making cushions though I will have to replace all of my living room cushions with wintry ones. That feels like an unnecessary expense so unless I can come up with a frugal or recycled way of sourcing knit or fleece fabric we will have to see.  My patchwork cushions are perhaps more suited to spring summer, hmm.... unwanted woollies anyone?

This kind of thing would work with old jumpers.

While I have been feeling rubbish I have been reading Thinking fast and slow by Daniel Kahneman ,if you are interested follow the link in the side panel . It is really interesting and I love books that teach you about how you think and why. One small thing in it stuck in my mind and it was about an experiment where students were asked to read an amusing text, some held a pencil in their mouths sideways forcing them to smile. The others held it pout fashion, the ones smiling found the text more amusing.  Basically if you make yourself smile more you naturally feel better.  I have read about this before but we need these reminders don't we.
I have some little Amazon ads down the side of the blog now, don't know how this will work or if it will but I thought I'd give it a little try as I shop on there for my books and with Christmas coming I'll be buying off there for my children too. Nothing too invasive.
Oh, I also bought myself some B vitamins thanks to Pam in Texas for reminding me about that I'm sure when I recover I will feel the benefit.

Friday, 10 October 2014

New fabric on order and it's Friday Yay!

I'm feeling good mainly because it's Friday.  It has to be my favourite day because even though I have to go to work ( I know I shouldn't think like that, but I do love days to do as I wish) it has the whole weekend stretching out before it.  Now we don't always accomplish everything we might like at the weekend but on a Friday there seems endless possibilities.
For me this weekend there is going to be more sewing. Making my jacket after a few weeks absence has reminded me that my mind is clearer and most at rest when I have a sewing task to get on with. I have some bits of fabric left and a large piece which will become a dress but sometimes the leftover bits force you to become more creative.
I also have a large bag of alterations that someone dropped off the other evening which will keep me very busy and has also inspired me to buy some fabric for me. The cost will only be a small amount out of the money I will make from the alterations, I ordered from fabric rehab. I may have mentioned them before, it is a gorgeous website but they sell by the fat quarter which many of you will know is not a cheap way to buy fabric, especially if you are a dress maker and not a quilter.
I ordered this...
This will become a large tote bag for me, the kind that can hold a ring binder for work ( and my lunch of course) and any other bits and bobs. Unless it arrives and it just has to be something else.

I also ordered this ...

Now this I will make into a skirt but I really want to find some fabric in the royal blue to make a top but more of a jumper, so something with a bit of weight to it to go with the skirt.
Now I don't know when this will arrive so for the  meantime I will have to make do with what I have.
I don't feel at all guilty about my purchases as I know the items will be made by myself here in the uk.  I also appreciate the time that goes into making things so I don't shop excessively and my fabric purchases are very well spaced and it all gets used up.  I often read about people with huge fabric stashes (I look on in envy too). Ok just kidding that is totally up to the individual but for me I would have the nagging voice going 'when are you going to make that up, come on when?' and that would just drive me potty.
Soon it will be time to make some Christmasy things (Spell check did not recognise Christmasy) well as made up word I can spell it how I want then.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Sherwood Weekend Break

We just had a nice weekend away at Sherwood forest Holiday park with the caravan. It was nice to get away and have a relaxing time.  We didn't take the TV, some friends took their caravan too and we just went out in the day, talked, ate and read. here is a picture from the site as the only ones I took on the phone were of the dogs!
It is actually a bit blurry but you can see better if you follow the link here  and there are lots of photos on the site. My son said it is good to go away for the weekend as it make it feel longer, I think that is probably due to the change in routine.

I started a new book while I was there called a Discovery of Witches, it is ok so far.  I chose it because it was supposed to be along the twilight style but more for grown ups.  I will let you know how it goes.

The book is the start of  a trilogy but if it doesn't wow me I wont be going for all three. 
So tired again this week and it is only Tuesday, I wonder if it is due to it getting dark early now or if there is something I am missing, loads of other people complaining of being over tired too. Something in the air maybe?

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...