Thursday, 30 September 2010

Going crazy

Apart from spending Wednesday in school with some delightful (no, honestly!) Year 4 and Year 6 children, I have spent most of the week sewing like mad to get as much as possible ready for this Saturday's Maltings Market.

A large part of this has been sewing of the variety that one wants NOT to mention when it is still September! So I'll just give you a tiny peek.

Crazy patchwork in reds and greens, with snowy themes...

...salvaged buttons, ribbon and lace...
...reclaimed fabrics and a bit of embroidery.

I'll show these items in their full glory when it seems a little more date-appropriate!

I have also been putting the finishing touches to some cushions.

With apologies for the rubbish photo!  The gremlins are still chucking their tools about it would seem, and so, as I sit here tapping away at gone 11.15, I have (after more than two hours trying!) jettisoned all attempts to upload photos from the good camera and have opted for the one that casts a yellow-hue and all round air of fuzziness to everything I snap!

For these cushions I have used mostly Tilda fabrics for the patchwork and applique, with some vintage fabric for the backing. They have an unusual continuation of the message on the back, embroidered in chain stitch.  The message was  Mr Used-to-Bees' idea, and one which I think will prove a hit!  I'm going to be mean and leave it shrouded in mystery so that it can be a surprise for anyone who might come to the Maltings and see them!

Well, much as I would like to continue, my bed is calling!   I've got a busy day tomorrow as I'm being sociable at lunchtime, helping with a Cake Sale in the afternoon to raise funds for my school's annual Shoebox Appeal and then I need to get everything ready for the Maltings on Saturday.  Eeek!  Don't expect a peep from me tomorrow!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Ways to disperse gloom

Well, I don't know about you, but here in Hampshire we seem to be have been languishing endlessly beneath the sort of gloomy sky that could take the bounce out of even the cheeriest of people.  It's even got to Tigger!

Fortunately, there's always something to help one keep one's chin up!

So as I sit down to one of them, namely...

...I will share some others.

First, remember that parcel I said I'd tell you about 'tomorrow'? Well, apologies for the short break in service as I never did get up to the computer yesterday, overcome by a small wave of tiredness post all-that-driving.  But now I'm ready to share!


 Ditsy prints...

Soft blue and pink florals...

Something with a bit of zing...

And a bit more rosy loveliness...

All courtesy of Sal Snippet, a link to whose ever-expanding shop of vintage fabrics you will find, ladies (and gentlemen?), up a bit and to your left!

With that I shall leave you, as there seems to be a gremlin lurking somewhere in Blogland who has chucked a whole toolbox of spanners into the works to prevent me from uploading any more photos!  Such nice photos too!

Till next time!

Monday, 27 September 2010

554 miles later...

I have returned! 

I am feeling quite intrepid, having managed to get both my colleague and I safely to and from the pretty village of Argueil near Rouen.
We set off bright and early on Saturday and chatted our way through the sun-drenched Surrey and Kent countryside. A rather rough crossing to Calais followed, then a lovely drive through the rolling hills of north-east France. 
The directions we had been given then proved impossible to follow (a small matter of missing road numbers, stationary lorries hiding signposts and me not having taken a map), so we were quite lucky to arrive at our destination only a little late.  And what a magnificent destination!

But by this time we were feeling a bit disgruntled, and beginning to think that the whole idea of taking a group of 9 and 10 year olds on a residential trip to France was an extremely bad one!  We both desperately wanted a cup of tea (an essential after an eight-hour journey, I think!) and the orange juice offered just didn't hit the mark!

It was then suggested we go for a wander into the village just beyond the gates to the manoir, as it was the village's annual fete. My mood lightened when I saw that the fete also involved a vide-grenier! Although I didn't buy anything (it was gone half-four by this time, so all the best bits had probably been sold), it was still fun to look.

Argueil is a pretty village, with lots of the beautiful timbered buildings so typical of Normandy. Sadly, I neglected to take photos - just wasn't thinking about my poor little blog!

I won't bore you with the details of our time at the chateau (which involved getting so chilled that I had to go to bed with my pyjamas, a jumper, a dressing gown, a pair of socks and two duvets!) , but we did manage to re-discover our enthusiasm for the trip and its associated link with a French school, so will hopefully be back there within the year.

The journey home seemed to take forever, probably because it was raining and extemely windy, so I had to keep my foot off the accelerator.  So it was all the more cheering to arrive home at quarter to five to find little Miss Gorgeous doing the ironing, and Mr U-t-B in the throes of preparing a joint of beef with all the trimmings!  A BIG joint of beef.  (If you read about last Sunday's joint you'll know that Mr U-t-B cannot be trusted to go to the butcher by himself, and as I was in France, that is just what he did!)  2 kilograms divided by 4 (3 + 1 friend)  = rather a lot.
So two hours or so later, look what I sat down to...

What a clever husband I have!
Because this post has been a bit short on pretty things to look at, here are some gratuitous and completely unrelated photos of tins...

And the bundle of loveliness that has just arrived from the very lovely Sally of Sal's Snippets...

More detail tomorrow!

Friday, 24 September 2010


It put a smile on my face to see a red 'We tried to deliver your parcel...' slip on the hall floor when I arrived home yesterday from a busy day teaching French.  Well, a smile and then a small harrumph of annoyance because I would have to wait till today to collect said parcels (yes, not just one, but two!)

 So I was up early this morning to go into town and fetch the goodies home.

 The bigger of the two contained...
Four mini hot water bottles, which I'd been trying to source since December last year (not that I'd tried that hard!)  More of those in another post.

The second was from the great Tikki Fabric and Patchwork shop in Kew.  I have been there before, but being a bit pushed for time this week, and trying to save a bit of diesel, I decided to use their mail order service. And it was fantastic - ordered Wednesday, arrived Thursday.  You can't say fairer than that!

So here is what lay within...

The top layer is some stitchable vinyl.  I like to try out different things.  Not yet sure what I'll do with this but will do some thinking over the weekend. 
Then some...

I have been wanting some of this for a while to make myself some new oven gloves.

Then the real fun...

Sevenberry Liberty inspired floral quilt fabric, pale blue
Sevenberry quilt fabric, small floral in pale blue 

Lecien Roses quilt fabric, pale blue form Mrs March antique collection 
Retro Europe map/cruise fabric
Rosalie Quinlan Grandmother's Flower Garden fabric by Lecien pale green
Philip Jacobs patchwork quilt fabric Delphinium pink
Westminster quilt fabric by Fabric Freedom, cream circles

Yellow kids retro fabric

Isn't Christmas Jolly quilt fabric by Mary Engelbreit for Moda, Toss Green

If you like these fabrics, do take a look at the website or if you're in the Kew area, see if they are open!

With all that loveliness come into the house, it's just a shame that I'm going to be away on a school reconnaissance mission all weekend!

Not much in the way of craftiness went on yesterday.  With it being the first day since before the summer holidays that I had been into school teaching, I was reminded how sapped of creative get-up-and-go I am after 6 lessons of very vocal teaching. So I blobbed out in front of the television and enjoyed first the delights of Mr Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (love the Stew Club idea!) and then Mr Gareth Malone's Extraordinary School for BoysHooray for Gareth - was so pleased his efforts were not in vain on the measurable-difference front!  Just went on his website to get that link and found that his wife has just given birth to their baby, a little girl...How lovely!

So off to do a bit of creating...I'm going to be frustrated all weekend as I drive through rural France on behalf of my school, and will be longing to get back home!  

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Buttons, ribbons and garden sewing

It's been the perfect autumn day today.  A misty morning, dew-speckled cobwebs and that kind of sunshine that breaks through mid-morning and reminds you how lovely September is.

So time for a bit of outdoor craftiness.

Our garden is rather small - it's not quite perfectly formed, but I love it all the same!

Since last week I had on-and-off been creating some slipcovers for notebooks, some with vintage labels and some with some girly, Paris-inspired fabric.  Mr U-t-B was very keen that I get them finished as he thinks they will be popular at next month's Maltings Market.  I was a bit slow though because all sorts of things had gone wrong along the way.  First, some of the labels I was so excited about creating from the children's book illustrations were a bit rubbish - too pale or too small to use - what a waste of effort (and the precious 'Bubble Jet Set 2000' liquid)!  Then I chose some paler, thinner fabrics for the backing, and regretted it because the lining fabric showed through.  So I decided to add some padding, using up some dressing gown-type remnants I'd been given by a very kind friend last week (thanks, Liz!).  And then the covers seemed too bulky...

Today I decided to finish them off - maybe they'd look better then.  First the girly ones got some ribbon and a vintage button...

Then some golf themed ones...

Can you read the quote?

'I'm gambling that when we get into the next life, Saint Peter will look at us and ask, 'Golfer?'  And when we nod, he will step aside and say, 'Go right in.  You've suffered enough.'  

Jim Murray
And finally some chocolate themed ones!

Also with quotes.

'There are 4 basic food groups: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate and chocolate truffles.'

'Make a list of important things to do today.  At the top of the list, put 'eat chocolate'.  Now you'll get at least one thing done today.'

Gina Hayes 
I never met a chocolate I didn't like. 

Deanna Troi

In the end, they do look okay though I'm not wholly convinced about that padding.  But look at my poor finger now...

Time to learn how to use a thimble, methinks!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Vide-grenier finds

  I have a new reader - my mum!   So I thought I'd post photos of some of my French finds specially for her, as it is undoubtedly through her influence that I prefer the pre-loved to the new!

Here's this years haul of small items.  Lots of grubby linens (ooh - I love the smell of a bathtub full of Oxi-Action and washing powder!), some pretty tea and coffee cups and my star items - the preserve pot, the pot-bellied sugar bowl, the teapot and the cake stand!

These cot linens remind me that gorgeous girl is a chip off the old block - they are hers, bought to go with the Art Deco cot that she bought.  I can't believe that I haven't got a photo of that - it's gorgeous, with chunky curves, an unusual clear bar (for teething?) along one end and a beautiful metal swallow swooping across the end.  Sadly it's still in France!

Here's the other star large item.  It might not be complete, but with my clever husband and parents around to patch up the veneer and create a front and base, the two ends are going to be a spectacular daybed sometime!

And guess how much?
Bet you can't...

I'll write it at the end of the post, so you can guess properly!

Another chip-off-the old-block items, one of a pair.  I think they were two euros!

So that was this year.

Here's some from the year before last.

The sewing machine is a real beauty.  Love its rustic wooden cover!

It's very attractive inside, but I neglected to take any photos of that!  It has lovely marquetry on the top, including chevrons that are one centimetre wide.  No searching for the tape measure when using this beauty!

And here is the star from last year!

I was looking for an old bike to put a basket of flowers on and prop up against a wall decoratively.  It had to have 'curve' (as well as kerb?) appeal - I like a nice sweeping curve on the frame, and it had to be old.  If I remember correctly this was the only bike we saw at the vide-grenier that day, and boy did it match my criteria!

Look at the beautiful detail...

And the saddle!

(Have I really become the sort who gets excited about a saddle?)

And unbelievably, we got this gorgeous thing for just over twenty euros, part of a clever deal done by my sister-in-law.  She was at the vide-grenier with the express intention of finding a sewing machine base, but ONLY the base (she wanted it for the garden).  The stall that had the bike also had a sewing machine-less base.  The lack of machine was made much of in the bargaining, hence the price for the two - forty-five euros!

Turns out the bike is from about 1919.  Having survived in such relatively good condition for so long, it would be almost criminal to have it outside in all weathers, so it is awaiting a light restoration, and will then be propped against a wall, but inside!

And the bed?

Ten euros!

I'll sign off now, with apologies if the text is all over the place.  I've done this on the laptop and I can't make things behave!