Friday, 29 April 2011

Bless 'em!

I may not have made any celebratory bunting...

Photo from

Or any patriotic cupcakes...

Photo from

I may not have planned a street party...

Photo courtesy of

Or even a little garden-get-together to raise a glass of this...

Photo from

But today I will be watching (with a tissue to dab away the smiley-tears) and wishing Prince William and  Kate Middleton...

(just in case you don't know what they look like!)

...the 'happy ever after' this more down-to-earth, royal fairytale couple seem to deserve!

PS. Thanks for all your kind comments, especially about Mr U-t-B.  He seems to be getting a bit better now, but no results from the consultant yet.  Fingers crossed for today.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Feel like a dance?

There's a tune on the radio at the moment that has an instant 
Colin-Firth-effect on me.  You know the effect...

'I’m afraid I have to warn you that I’m experiencing stirrings somewhere in the upper abdominals which are threatening to form themselves into dance moves.'

(Gratuitous photo!)
Photo courtesy of The Guardian

Now I know the temptation may be to stick with the photo of Mr Firth, but do try to drag yourself away, I think you'll enjoy this...

Summery sounds!  I think this will be my track of Summer 2011.

Once I 'YouTubed' Caro Emerald, I found that she was also responsible for this one, which I loved at the end of last summer...

She also has a cool line in videos...

I think I'll be buying this CD!

Work-in-progress Wednesday worked a treat.  Although neither of the large project progressed, I did do these...

That's two big Crinoline lady drawstring bags (just need to find suitable ribbon now)...

Seven 'Precious Scraps bookmarks appliqued...

Two notebook slipcovers stitched round, embroidered and stitched to fit, plus one more small drawstring bag...

A good feeling - some of those have been hanging about for ages!

Mr U-t-B had his scan, so hopefully by later this morning we'll know what's to be done to get him back on his feet!  Hope it's quick - I do miss him round here...

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Work in Progress Wednesday

In an attempt to shame myself into finishing some long-ago abandoned projects, I am now nominating my Wednesdays to be 'Work In Progress Day'.  On this day each week I will faithfully promise  not to start on anything new but to push forward with the incomplete.  So to get me started I have photographed a selection of the things that will be getting my attention again.

First, a tapestry that is destined to go atop a piano stool my Mum has been keeping for me.  This was to be a useful extra seat in the dining room and I started it when I was expecting our daughter...15 years ago.  Oh dear!

It's a William Morris design - Strawberry Thief (III).

I think I put it aside partly because our little bundle of joy had arrived and there didn't seem to be time to do it and also because it was getting twisty and I was anticipating the difficulty of getting it straight.  I really need to attach it to a frame I guess.

This is what it should look like in the end...

It's from this gorgeous book, jam-packed full of the prettiest designs.

Also on my hit-list is this...

As you can see, it is a French cross-stitch.  I liked it because it reminded me of my friend Lesley.  

Hmmm...That sounds like I am likening her to a cow so I'd better explain. 
One long-ago day (I think when I had gone to stay with her to make my wedding dress), we took a drive through the Lincolnshire countryside from her home in Louth.  As we drove past a field of cows of varied breeds and colours, I think it was I who commented on the 'mixed-up cows'.  This idea amused us more than somewhat - the imagined conversations of confused bovines, struggling to make sense of life and its meaning kept us giggling for some time.  And it has become a bit of a long-running joke...Hence I had to buy this cross-stitch!

There's also this little heap of 'nearly there' s.   

You can see that I have enough to keep me out of trouble for quite a few Wednesdays!  I will let you know how I get on with things!

Yesterday was a bit of a strange day (to say the least) as Mr Used-to-Bees ended up being admitted to hospital with his back problem.  I can't help but feel enormously relieved that hopefully things will soon move forward, though it is very odd not to have him here making our bedroom look untidy!  On Saturday I had had to take him to the Out-of-Hours Doctor, who prescribed morphine to add to his Tramadol/Diclofenac/Paracetamol cocktail, but even this wasn't stopping the pain, and he couldn't walk more than about three paces without collapsing.  So in the end an ambulance had to be called (because I couldn't get him safely out of the house to seek medical help) and he's now awaiting a scan to find out exactly what is going on.  So my blogging time may well be curtailed over the next days - hopefully not weeks...

Off to work now - maybe the fairies will get stitching whilst I'm out...

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Granny's Button Tin

On Easter Sunday, we had a special family get-together (more of that another time). A few chocolate-y items were exchanged, but I was the lucky recipient of this...

My Granny's Button Tin! 

 Actually, it was more of a haberdashery tin, with an exciting assortment of items.  Lots of bits of ribbon and elastic, a little lace, some pastel coloured cord and plenty of glass-y buttons...

...A beautiful filigree and diamante buckle and some prettily-shaped mother-of-pearl buttons, three sweet diamante buttons, a needlecase and a shiny thimble...

...And another little tin (I do love old tins!)

You may think I'm mad, but this was so much better than chocolate!

Monday, 25 April 2011

Musical Memories

A while ago, my Mum was having a bit of a clear out when she came across some long-ago-left-behind belongings of mine.  I'm pleased to say that rather than just chucking them out (as many a person might have done with stuff that had been left behind some twenty plus years ago) she brought them back to me, and I have had happy times looking through them.

Old school books, a scrapbook full of pictures cut out from birthday cards, bits of art work, newspaper cuttings, all my 'A' level essays and the 'piece de resistance' (can't do French accents on Blogger), my 'Smash Hits' scrapbook...

 In the days when you could go to Boots or Woolies to buy your singles...

...for less than a pound, I used to get 'Smash Hits' every week.   

The lyrics, that was what I really wanted it for, because it is always kind of embarrassing when you get caught out singing the wrong words. 

Like the time I sang 
'Bless my cotton socks, I'm in the nude'
to 'Reward' by the Teardrop Explodes,
or the 'pork sausages' line in Bohemian Rhapsody 
or Roxy Music's warning, 'Legs stick to leather'...

I used to have a den in the hayloft above my parents' garage where I'd pin up lots of the lyric pages, plus selected posters and cool pictures.  They're mostly still there, the drawing pins half rusted away, paper flapping in the gentle breeze let in by the wooden cladding.  But fortunately, once I'd filled the low wall of the hayloft and the sloping ceiling, I started putting my favourites into a scrapbook instead.

I can't fit the whole page onto the scanner, and I didn't think to take a photo instead (and am too lazy today to go and fetch the camera now!) so you just get two-thirds of a double page spread...

This page features UB40 at the start of their career (I say the best bit) and the one-hit wonder band, Split Enz (though I'm pleased to say that  Neil Finn from Split Enz later had great success with Crowded House).

So take a trip back to 1980 and enjoy these musical memories.

I liked the bloke-y ordinary-ness of the band...

And the thoughtful lyrics...

I can remember how real the threat of nuclear war seemed in those days.

This one is a bit of an 80s classic - the make-up, the hairdos and the shadowy 'atmospherics'.  Love the over-excitable keyboard player, and the one who looks like he crept onto the little stage, behind the band, just to share the limelight.  Or is he there to catch the drummer?

More memories from my Smash Hits Scrapbook another day, if people like them!

Friday, 22 April 2011

Meet Poppy...

You may remember Christina was told not to get too comfortable in Poppy's bed.  Well, with one thing and another, she did get to enjoy its snuggly loveliness a little longer, as Poppy took a while longer getting here than originally thought.  But she's arrived now and here she is...

Turns out she prefers sitting on the daybed anyway!

Poppy was made from a very old pattern - I reckon about 1977.  

My sister and I bought the pattern and each made a Holly Hobbie doll.  Hers was really perfect, mine a little less so, as I remember! I've used the pattern a few times since - Christina being one of the incarnations, along with another pair that were Christmas presents for my cousins two girls the same Christmas Miss U-t-B got Christina. Not bad for a pattern that cost 40p!

I decided against the button eyes for this new doll and embroidered them instead, as poor Christina does look a trifle surprised - nay, shocked - most of the time.  And I stitched the mouth with a curve and a heart as I always do either that or a curve and a cross (kiss) on dolls I make.

If I made another I'd try to remember to reverse the hands - the way they are in the Simplicity pattern means that the doll ends up with palms facing forwards - I prefer thumbs in towards thighs, thumbs out looks like 'attitude' to me!

In true thrifty fashion, her body and limbs are made from an old heavy cotton pillowcase, so she only cost the price of a pair of girls socks and the £2 something I paid for a ball of mohair for her hair.  I tried to curl this like we did with our original Holly Hobbie dolls - wrap strands round a pencil and steam them over a kettle - but it didn't work, so straight hair it is!

Her dress is not the Holly Hobbie one but a 1930s style dropped waist one with Peter Pan collar and contrasting sleeve bands and attached belt.  It's made from part of an outfit I made for my graduation and I'm pretty sure it was Liberty fabric, though I can't identify it.

She also has a little pair of knickers (French style - ooh-la-la!) made from an old -possibly 1930s - hankie.  But she wasn't up for posing in her undies.

'What sort of a girl do you think I am!'

So there we go - another thing to take to 'Vintage' at the Maltings in a couple of weeks time!  I hope that she and the bed will make a nice centrepiece to attract attention!

All the while I was making her, something was bugging me...Can you spot what it might be?


The deeply, deeply unattractive ironing board cover.  

It has been offending my eyes for a good few weeks (since a prettier cover that had been placed over it got inadvertently slashed) and now that it has moved upstairs to my den it was too much to bear!  So today it got covered - no glue this time though!

Ah!  So much better!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Daftness explained...

Thanks for all the lovely comments about the makeovers I posted yesterday.  I will now give a few more details, though before I do, a warning! 

Since I made-over the radio, my highly active imagination has gone into over-drive - have I inadvertently turned my radio into a fire hazard?  

If I post these details, will I find myself at the centre of an enormous compensation case when fabric-swathed radios around the country ignite and cause devastating destruction?  
(I told you my imagination was, well, imaginative!)  

So you have been warned!  I have been watching my radio closely, and so far it shows no signs of spontaneous combustion, but you know...At your own risk as they say!

For both the worry-free drawer makeover and the radio I used...

Fabric glue from Hobbycraft - I have found this one very good so far!
Cutting mat, rotary cutter and ruler
Water soluble pen
Small paintbrush
Sharp craft knife

And a pair of sharp scissors too.

Then it's simply a case of carefully measuring up the surfaces you want to cover, adding between 1 and 2 centimetres to both length and width to turn over the edges, and cutting out the fabric.  I prefer to use the rotary cutter for speed and accuracy, but you could use scissors.  Whatever method you use, you'll have an easier job and a better finish if you  cut on the straight grain of the fabric.

Next paint the first surface to be covered with glue - make sure to give it a thorough pasting, but not too much!  It will probably look like it's drying before you've finished, but it will still be tacky enough to hold the fabric.

Grab your piece of fabric and centre it on the surface, making sure to get it the right way up if it is directional (I've rather too often put a fabric on and then realised it is upside down!) Gently smooth it onto the surface from the centre outwards, making sure there are no trapped air bubbles.  If it goes a bit wrong, you can generally lift it and reposition it if you're not too slow to notice.

Cut triangles from corners of each overlap, then paint a little glue on the adjacent surface and fold the overlap over, pressing down firmly.

If the surface you're covering has 'bits' to work round, you will need to mark these onto the fabric with your soluble pen (before applying the glue) and cut them partly away, then make little snips to allow the fabric to sit on the glued surface with an overlap onto the 'bit' that can be cut away with the craft knife.  I do the cutting away a short while after gluing the fabric so that the glue has dried a bit.

The front of my radio was way too complicated to try to do as one piece, so I simply patchworked it -top, middle and bottom strips, corner pieces and side strips.

When applying fabric onto an adjacent surface I don't fold the overlap over but press it onto the edge to mark it, then cut it off with sharp scissors.  It then lies over the overlap of the previously covered surface.

I finished off by painting a tiny bit more glue onto any raw edges - belt and braces approach.

Anyway, hope that helps! 

Oh!  And the wax I use on top of the Annie Sloan paint (no, I'm not being paid to promote it...) is Annie Sloan's Clear Wax.  I did try to use the 'Antique Pine' Beeswax I already had, but it turned the colour an unattractive sludgey hue.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Give a girl a bottle...

...of fabric glue, that is.

And some transformations will take place.

First, a set of drawers - the kind you can buy from Ikea, designed to hold CDs.
Miss U-t-B had bought this two or three years ago and half covered it with 'Deco-Patch' papers, but then got bored.  She's been busy these last few days having an Almighty Clear Out (so big it deserves capitals) and this was one of the things that she wondered if I could use.  Er, that would be a yes!

First I stripped it of the deco-Patch papers, then gave it a coat of that wonderful Annie Sloan paint and waxed it.  Then I covered just the drawer fronts with a very pretty vintage French floral fabric.

It looks lovely with the shoe trees I bought from Tracey of 'The Vintage Bothy'.

Although I love the way it's turned out, I think it will be coming with me to the 'Vintage' fair at The Maltings the Sunday after next, as I really haven't got anywhere to put them!

As I was doing this, the radio was sitting on the cutting mat, looking rather, well, plain.  So that was when I got one of my dafter ideas...

My own Cath Kidston radio!

Mr U-t-B thinks I'm barking mad!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Monday Memories

Sometimes, even the bad photos are good!
Fuzzy, overexposed images of a holiday in Cornwall when I was six.
Memories flooded back...

We were staying in a tiny cottage with my Dad's twin sister, her husband and our three cousins.  I remember very cramped sleeping quarters - not that it mattered!

Was this a view from the garden?  Sea in the distance.  The washing line was normally full of swimming things...

First family holiday and first time in the sea.

Did we all have those navy blue, white-skirted, sailor-style swimming costumes back then?  Me and my cousin Jocelyn are both wearing one!

Uncle Keith braving the waves in shirt and rolled-up trousers.  Stephen, Jocelyn and Roderick gazing out to sea, trying not to feel the cold.

Sandcastle building.

My sister, brother and I all in matching cardis - did Mum knit these on her machine?

Rolling down hills.

  I remember how us six children would arrive back from our days out and sit down to a tea of white sliced bread and Gales honey.  There was an ad at the time for 'Nimble' bread.  'Six slices a day is the well balanced way', it said.   We all tried to eat six slices each teatime - but we weren't eating those little round slices of Nimble!  Sea air makes you hungry, you know!

Happy days!