Friday, May 30, 2008

half term

Well I failed on the daily posts this week.

I claim half term and various visiting grandparents, I always knew I was unlikely to manage the whole month but it was good to try.

Monday, May 26, 2008

IKEA outdoor furniture

We popped to IKEA today for a few bits and they were having a range of things on 50% off for the bank holiday which included folding outdoor furniture. We got a bench and a couple of chairs to go with a table we already have. They will be useful for events but we may also keep them up at the allotment once we have a tent as it would be nice to have somewhere to sit.

They also had so great led lanterns on half price and a plant stand I am very tempted by so there may be a revisit tomorrow.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Copper Inchies

These are for another swap on ATCs for all. Inchies are one inch square bits of art, in this case embossed stamping on inked card.

Took a bag of random bits and a big bag of clothes to the charity shop. The clothes were mainly tailored jackets and ladies suits that belonged to a friend of my partners parents. Lovely clothes but too small for me. I think she was quite a small lady by the look of things but I was lucky enough to inherit her stash, fabric, some haberdashery and some clothes. I am gradually getting rid of that which I can't use. I also washed a bunch more as they smelt rather musty before I take them up too.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Convertble Dress

I've been coming across this idea on and off for awhile and today I came across not one but two tutorials.

The idea is a skirt with long straps attached which can be wrapped in various ways to give different looks, I think it needs to be a stretch fabric, certainly all the ones I've seen have been. It very much reminds me of the wrap sling I have for Treestump and wearing the two together might end up with accidentally getting undressed when you meant to take the sling off! On the other hand I can see it could be good for breastfeeding if you wore it the right way.

The two tutorials are on Burda Style and rostitchery, both used a circle skirt but you could do it with a straighter tube skirt. Personally the more flare the better, with a circle skirt it has a real Marilyn Monroe look. I would very much like to have a try and do have a nice piece of jersey somewhere though it might be a little heavy as it looks like it would work best in something very drapey. As it is meant to only take an hour or so it sounds like a perfect project to fit round a small baby,

I missed a couple of days posting though I have done a couple on my food blog but hey I still think I'm doing quite well on the post a day thing. Less well on the decluttering it's easier to ignore things because often starting makes things worse mess wise before it gets better and while I want more space I don't want to give up what we have managed so far.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Frogs and silhouettes

Today we released the frogs onto the allotment, can I count that as decluttering? We did remember to take the recycling and vegs for compost too which we often don't.

We set the frogs up with a shallow tray with water and some stones in the long grass at the edge of the plot, the next plot down is kept as semi woodland and we plan to put a proper pond in at that end so I am hopeful they will survive and like it there. I know frogs are living on other plots so we can but hope.

I may try making some paper cut silhouettes following these instructions particularly as my aunt sent me some great pictures of my sisters little boy and he'd make a great subject, as would mine of course.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Making Bags and recycling jeans

Todays decluttered item - listed a bunch of small baby clothes and some curtains on Freecycle.

That said I think I've ordered more stuff this week than I've got rid of though some of that was strawberry plants so they will go straight up to the allotment. The rest was cooking stuff, which I will post about on my cooking blog later and my first order to the new Clothkits.

Anyway on to bags, I have several pairs of Jeans waiting to be made into bags like this or this. I picked them over time from charity shops as I don't wear jeans having never found them comfortable. I am however tempted to send a pair to be made into sandals instead. This great sounding company Recycleyourjeans does just that for the princely sum of £45, a price I think very reasonable for what are effectively custom made sandals. I could just go with them using one of the pairs they get from stock clearance as none of the ones I have are that special fabric wise, I picked them more for interesting pockets. I really wish hadn't cut up the purplely ones I had now.

They also do ready made sandals in other fabrics including hemp as well as more normal things like leather and best of all they are made here in the UK not thousands of miles away and they will custom fit where needed!

However onto making bags from scratch something my friend Julie is keen to have a go at. She recently got a couple of lovely books on the subject that she let me have a peek at and the more complicated of the two I am really tempted to get a copy of. However as she has found out getting the hardware for many bags is not easy so this bunch of ten patterns on the Better Homes and Gardens website seems worth looking at as they mostly seem to use standard sewing items. Of course that means most are fairly basic totes and similar but they have a nice variety. I particularly like the Designer Style bag shown here. The quilted one after it is very summery in look too.

There are lots of other interesting articles elsewhere on the site ranging from fun cupcakes to room makeovers though I don't think many houses in the UK would have room to have a permanently set up area just to wrap presents as in this picture, though using a kitchen unit on wheels with the slide out drawer/shelves that are becoming more common to store things like sewing machines seems a much more workable idea both from this article.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Stuff and Nonsense

Well I did two posts yesterday, had I been sensible I'd have posted about Clothkits today but I was too excited. I even emailed them to say so and got a lovely email back from the lady who runs it. I plan to buy a hat for Small and a doll plus clothing for me at least. There are more items in the pipeline so I will be checking the site regularly.

It might seems strange that someone like me who can pattern draft pretty much any garment I want should be excited about a company that does sewing kits most of which are deliberately easy to make but the thing I always liked about them was the designs printed on the fabric and that hasn't changed plus some times it's nice for someone else to have done the planning for you and the advantage over ready to wear is you can adjust the fit easily so it's the best of both worlds unfortunately I'd be kidding myself to believe I fit a 16 in the hips which is what the skirts go up to but I have small people to dress too.

Item uncluttered today - box of fimo thrown, I probably could have revived it with much work and addition of the softener stuff but frankly it was mostly from the dawn of time and I was never going to do it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


I am sillyly excited about this ! I grew up with clothkits, we didn't actually get that much from them because we couldn't afford it but I devoured every catalogue and cherished the bits I did get. I never did get a doll though however much I wanted one we could never afford it. They probably weren't that expensive but for much of my childhood we lived on a very limited income and I was very capable of making things truly from scratch so I expect mum didn't really see the need. (edit Mum says she never knew I wanted one which was probably true, I probably tried to save for one myself)

However when I heard they had stop trading a few years back I was very sad and when I found the new website I found myself strangely emotional about it.

In case you didn't grow up with them, Clothkits sold pre-printed fabric you made up into clothes, they were very distinctively printed in a style that I suppose was quite hippy and wearing them probably labled you middle class but they were so fun and colourful. They have a gallery with pictures of some of the original outfits on the website so go and have a look.

The new range is printed and designed in this country though obviously the cotton isn't grown here. Hum maybe they should considered changing to hemp that grows here.

I think one of the reasons I like Gudrun Sjoden , which is where I get most things I don't make myself, apart from her clothes fitting me is they are colourful and have two colour stripy tops that remind me of Clothkits. Gudrun Sjoden also have a pretty good ecological policy, one I think is practical without being to preachy and OTT.

Making books

I have made books for roleplay and the like in the past but they have been very simple things. Today I came across a swap on ATCSforall to make longstitch books and realised I had no idea what that meant.

After some investigation I discover that it is a varied technique but basically it is when you stitch together the book with long stitches down the length of the spine going in and out of the spine so the threads are visible on the outside. The picture above is nabbed from wikipedia. I do like the look of this style of book so may have a go at making some notebooks or journals this way.

I also found several blogs dedicated to bookmaking which I think I will be visiting again. My Handmade Books has a whole bunch of interesting posts including this one about longstitch. Sarah at Little paper bird has some very interesting books and is very fond of accordion books by the look of it, she lives over here and has had books in art galleries !.

There is even which has several free online books though as yet I havent' had time to look at them properly.

What I hadn't given much thought to was books as art which is strange as I've made art books and want to try altered books but I suppose books are so much part of my life they are like bowls or something else mundane I know they both CAN be art but I needed reminding every now and then. When you look at the stuff being made by someone like Deckle Edged Bindery on Etsy then you can start to appreciate a book can be so much more than just a rectangle that fits on a bookshelf next to other similar sized objects. Though normal books do have the advantage of being efficient to store on bookshelves and we have enough problems finding room for those we have without wishing them all into interesting shapes!

Paperfaerie makes some interesting sculptural pieces out of old books, at this point it is getting away from books you can use but never the less they were books once and that is an important part of how they look.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Smells and Bpal

Today's decluttered item - a pair of shoes and a pair of slippers, now to little for Small. Taken to school for their play area which is being made over as a shoe shop. It was a garden centre, they change it every few weeks.

Smells are hugely evocative, of all the senses I think smell can effect you most. Certainly when it comes to bringing back memories smell can be very powerful. Also your sense of smell can change over time, particularly when pregnant. I was fairly lucky not to go off food smells but perfume of any kind has been off the agenda until now.

As it happened a few months before I got pregnant this time I encountered and got hooked on Bpal (Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab ) who make wonderful perfume oils many of which are so unlikely you think there is no way they are going to smell like they describe them but they do. I have one that smells of dead roses and another that smells of burnt gunpowder and smoke which happens to be one of my favorate smells probably from running re-enactment cannons and pyros for several years..

They come up with such wonderful ideas to base ranges on too. They have several Neil Gaiman ranges and the newest ones are steampunk based. Then every full moon they do limited edition oils as well . To go with them they do t-shirts and perfume lockets, when they have the clockwork one back in I am going to have real difficulty resisting it.

Monday, May 12, 2008

ATC's and paper clothes

Today's Decluttered Item - Tidied the storage container cupboard and chucked several containers and lids that no longer had partners.

I have done two mosaic ATCs that I am happy with though I noticed when scanning one has lost a tile. The first is styled on the various mosaic tables and so forth I've seen, the sort with a shape done in square pre made mosaic tiles then surrounded by randomly broken larger tiles. The second is more experimental. I cut up a picture of a face and stuck it back down in the right order but deliberately a little out of sinc then put a mosaic frame round it like a portrait, I like the effect, as it is going to a swap at ATCsfor I hope others do to.

I have also been playing with my new paper fashions set as mentioned previously. I did a quick ATC of a mandarin jacket on a tailors dummy, which I like but I think it needs a bit extra somehow, possibly some nice paper as a background or similar I'm not sure.

The person and bag are currently loose but may become a card and the other clothes are also loose as mostly I have just been playing at adapting the basic shapes that the stencil gives you following ideas from the book such as the pleated skirt which is two skirts one on top the other, with slits cut in the top one. I think it is very effective. I was thinking of a washing line for them though I have got glue on the pleated skirt so that may become something where I can put something in front of it like a bag. The various items come with tags to allow you to glue them on to other pieces like the dummy. Skirts etc have a tab at the top so you can join them to tops where as tops have fold over tabs like a paperdoll. The kit has lots of different shapes which you can then extend even more by cutting up and adapting, for instance the mandarin top started as the rollneck top.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


I am going to attempt to declutter at least one thing per day. Today I cleared part of the desk, got rid of a bunch of paperwork and decluttered two chocolate boxes by dividing the remaining chocolates into ones I can eat and ones I can't ie those with gluten in or coffee. The boxes can then be thrown as there was only a few in each box.

This should mean there is now room on the desk for my scanner so I can scan ATC's and the like rather than taking photos which are warped one way or another.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Bits and pieces

Went to Hobby Craft today, mostly to get more needles so the large rip in the marque canvas could be fixed, it got ripped over the Easter weekend when we had high winds and a roleplaying event. Well not me as Treestump was days old but the group I play with did.

Picked up said needles and some felt to try out an idea, also got a new smaller quilting ruler and larger cutting mat which will help with the ATCs, some ink pads for people to do fake brands (roleplaying again) and a book called paper fashions by Klutz. It's really for kids but i think I will use it for card making and the like. It has three really varied stencils to do all sorts of clothing and a couple of manikins, lots of ideas on how to adapt them and some paper, mini clothes hangers and a few beads etc to glam things up, it even has glue so you only need some scissors to get going with it. It's really quite a nice little book, would make a great present, I'd have been over the moon with it as a kid.

Friday, May 09, 2008

V & A nappy covers

Yes I mean it the V&A are selling nappy covers, they are of course ones with pretty vintage designs on them but I still find it slightly weird but in a good way.

I do love some of the things they come up with for the shop. If you think about it having a range of items that are relevant to their collections, useful and not just random tourist tat isn't easy so I take my hat off to them.

Also well as the standard mugs and William Morris noteboooks they also have blackbird clothespegs, a peacock teacosy, some wonderfully bright deakchairs and even a kit so you can graffiti a train !

Finally you have got to go look at the venetian blind t-shirt.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

What a difference a Day makes

Yesterday they were tadpoles with legs who at most sat on the top of the weed and poked their noses above water.

Today three of them are frogs with short stubby tails who's favoured pastime is climbing the walls of the tank. Good job it has a lid or they would be out by now. I think the fourth is a day or so behind the rest.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

My current view

Treestump firmly asleep on my arm. He's in a sling on my front but his head is hanging out and it's too hot tuck him under so he is supported on my left arm as I type! Talk about lack of chin, wonder where he gets that? Oh yes that will be me!

Education and tadpoles

No post yesterday, in my defence the day was manic. The weather here has gone from fairly cold and wet to full summer sun the last couple of days which while nice has been a bit of a system shock. Add to that the baby's eight week check and the doctor running so late we had to leave before getting his jabs and were still late for picking up Small. Then baby being grumpy all evening meant blogging wasn't foremost on my mind.

On the up side I know what I was going to talk about. Those who know me will know a couple of things about me, firstly I am chronically dyslexic though with much help over the years it generally isn't obvious and secondly our family tends to the higher end of the intelligence curve plus I have a lot of teachers in my family. All this adds up to me being very concerned about getting the right schooling for Small, if he is dyslexic, gifted or both he is unlikely to be average which is what our schooling system often seems to be geared for. I looked at state and public (for those not in the UK this means private, paid for schooling!) and even home schooling. The last was never first option as I know he benefits from being with other kids and I benefit from adult interaction.

We finally decided that our closest state school was worth trying. All the local state schools have a high level of immigrant pupils, often newly over here which has good and bad points. On the plus side it is wonderful for him to socialise with such a wide range of people but the downside is something like half his class didn't speak English at the beginning of the year. Obviously all the schools here have to put a lot of time and energy into getting their language skills up to speed and this school manages to get the overall English ability to above national average by the end of the year, no mean feat. However you can't help worry that is at the cost of teaching the kids who don't need help. His school however has a gifted kids scheme too and he has been very happy there. They have him and another girl doing separate maths lessons as they are ahead of the rest and he is learning to read rapidly, not something I was confident I could teach. If needed once he can read I think I could teach most other things.

They give stickers out most days for all sorts of things but recently he came back with one saying head teachers award because he had filled in all the missing numbers on a snakes and ladders board which went up to 100, which was wonderful but we always knew he was good at maths. The thing that really got me in the last few days was walking back from school he sang the whole of the alphabet song correctly. That is something I still struggle with and I couldn't say the alphabet at all till I was a teenager!

I can't fault his teacher she is wonderful and even if he has problems later on which all my family have at some point she will have given him a great start. We try to support her as much as possible be that supplying boxes or fabric I have spare to make things with or tadpoles.. because mum had hundreds in her pond.

We kept some at home and took some to school. Ours had a couple of accidents so we ended up with only four, school were more successful in keeping theirs alive however we have been feeding ours more fish food and being only four they have more space and it is really interesting to see the difference. The tadpoles at school are still tadpole shaped, small and black where as ours are frogs with a tail! Ours have grown much faster than the on line articles on keeping them said they would.

All I can say is even with a camera with a good macro setting taking photos of them is hard. They move fast, hide well and getting the camera to focus on them not the glass is fun!! The white smudges on the picture above are flakes of fish food on the surface of the water.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Quilting Ruler Problem

Yesterday's posts were on my cooking blog.

I love quilting rulers, and rotary cutters. I did plenty of patchwork before I even heard of them and when I did I thought they were just another fad, something to get more money out of me .. how wrong I was. They make cutting strips accurately SO easy it is silly.

In case anyone is thinking what is she on about. They are transparent rules marked up in two directions for accurate measurements. Two directions you say how is that? Well instead of being long and thin they come in various shapes, such as the one above, and you can measure across them so say you want a strip 10" by 2" you take your ruler and lay it on the fabric so you can see the edge of your fabric under the 2" line then you cut along the edge and you have a 2" strip you can then cut to length.

They may look expensive at first glance but they are well worth it. I have a couple of fairly large ones for fabric use but now I have a problem.

What problem is that?

Well you know those ATCs I've been going on about well the same rulers are really good for measuring them out and the tiny mosic squares I've been cutting but the rulers I have are 12" square and 6" by 24" which is overkill and don't balance well on a laptray! So I now need smaller ones too!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

More free images from Lisa Vollrath

To celebrate the American mothers day she is doing another run of free downloads which can be found here. We had our Mothers day a while back but that doesn't mean the images aren't worth downloading as there is always next year and anyway they are usable for other things.

There will be one a day put up until the 11th and if you like vintage images are well worth checking out

More Rainbows

Well I finally finished my rainbow ATCs to go along with Dominic's ones. Three for the swap and one for the host, I think I will let them chose which is which. I actually found that such a simple subject was quite hard to do well and I still not one hundred percent happy with all of them but I can't think how to improve them either. I really need to set the scanner up as the camera warps them. They should go in the post directly after the bank holiday and if I'm lucky I will have time to do the mosaic cards for a second swap the same person is hosting. If not they will have to be sent separately.

The check pattern one is made from woven strips of cut up magazine and I do like the look. When Small saw it he asked if the pieces moved hence the sliding block puzzle. It does work though it sticks rather so you have to be gentle but I think I know how to make it better next time and I think I will need to make at least one more for Small.

The other two are mainly paint and pen and based on Small saying rain and sun make a rainbow when he did his.. hum seems like he is my muse, well I could do worse.

That reminds me of a story about my brother when he was at art school. They had a project to do something in the style of a young child so he came home and got our little sister to draw him something for which he got a high grade. Afterwards he admitted to his teacher what he had done and they said that was perfectly acceptable and a good way to do it.. perhaps they would have said differently of he was doing fine arts not graphic design but then they may not have set that challenge in the first place.

Friday, May 02, 2008

A post a Day in May

Jenny B over at Allsorts is doing a post a day in May and she is inviting people to join in. What could be sillier to commit to with a baby under 2 months? On the other hand I sit next to the computer to feed him and it doesn't have to be anything specific..Having something to mark the days isn't a bad thing, I know from experience I can lose days when I'm at home all the time. I have also decided the post could be here or on my food blog. I'm a day late starting of course though the last entry on my food blog was posted on the first even if th time stamp says otherwise, I just started writing it before and left the stamp as it was because it was about things in April.

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