Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Try-Out Tuesday

I wonder if you've been around long enough to remember when I started trying out a new recipe each Tuesday and posting it here, because I'd got in a rut with my daily cooking?  Anyway, it didn't last long - first I kept trying out recipes that didn't seem worth sharing, unspectacular as they were, and then I gave up trying-out and slunk back off into my cookery rut...

Anyway, I have a different sort of try-out to share today.  
I signed up for a swap (something I've never done before) with Very Berry Handmade.   It's a textile, artist trading card swap  - I thought it would be fun to try 'something new', which incidentally is also the theme for the cards. 

So I have been trying-out.  

I hadn't realised how small ATCs usually are - I was thinking postcard size, but then read the instructions and found out I should be making something 2.5" by 3.5", roughly playing card size.  

But as I like small, this suited me fine.  

First I seized some tiny Liberty scraps.  I have a sugar bowl full of teeny-tiny bits right next to my sewing machine - can't bear to chuck 'em!  Ali, who is organising the swap has a Folksy shop full of small pieces of Liberty Tana lawn, so it seemed appropriate to start with these.

Eloise for the sky
Claire-Aude for the garden
Betsy for the windows
Wiltshire for the door
One whose name I've forgotten for the roof!
A piece of French vintage mattress cover for the house itself

Machine- and hand-stitching were added, plus a tiny shell button for part of the flowerhead.

Hmmmm...Not sure.

Let's try something else...

This time I printed a little saying about new things onto a scrap of linen, then hand-stitched it on to a bigger piece of old linen, before embellishing with some rainbow embroidery.  I think the amazing double rainbow I had seen a few days before had seeped into my brain...

Hmmmm again.  Began to wonder if I should have joined in with this!  Decided to have a look at the Flickr group to see if I was vaguely on the right lines.  Worried some more...

Had one more go - a celebration of fabric selvedges!

Still at the Hmmmm stage...

I have got to be ready to get one in the post by next Monday, so would be trying-out for the rest of the week, except that I am going away for a few days on Thursday. So I have this evening and little bits of tomorrow to have a dazzling, light-bulb moment and come up with an amazing idea.   Why does inspiration disappear when you most need it?

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Tracks of my Years - 1970

Now where were we?

1969 last week, so now we're entering a whole new decade.  

The 1970s...

It's funny when you look back and think about the decade you feel you 'belong' to.  For me the 1970s are, for better AND worse, what I associate myself with most strongly.  Rather strange considering I have now lived through the better part of four other decades, during which time I have  done far more, and more memorable, things.  

So what was in the news?

The break-up of The Beatles 

The near-disastrous Apollo 13 mission 

The age of majority being reduced from 21 to 18 in the UK

British Leyland announcing the end of Morris Minor production.  How could they?

The Mark III Cortina going on sale. How could they?

20 year old Richard Branson starting the Virgin group

In spite of their motivational and uplifting song 'Back Home', the England team failing to retain the Football World Cup.

The first Glastonbury Festival being held  

Jon Pertwee becoming the new Doctor Who.

'A Question of Sport', 'Mr Benn' and 'The Goodies' showing on TV for the first time; 'Andy Pandy', 'Randall and Hopkins (Deceased)' and 'Scooby Doo, Where Are You?' bowing out.

At the cinema

(Tissues ready for the first one...)

(Feel this one might be useful in an episode of 'Pointless'  - Films of Barbra Streisand)

On the radio

Mungo Jerry - In The Summertime
(with some of the dodgiest lyrics since Gary Puckett's 'Young Girl' two years previously)

Simon and Garfunkel - Bridge Over Troubled Water

Lee Marvin - Wanderin' Star  

The Jackson Five - I Want You Back

The Carpenters - Close To You

Sacha Distel - Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head  

(Try to tell me you don't see Paul Newman on a bike now! BTW if you watch the video on YouTube you will see that this could never be made nowadays.  Two people on one bike, an apple, a trailing skirt, precarious perching by a barn door and bicycle stunts on rough ground - Health and Safety would never allow it!)

Bob and Marcia Young - Young, Gifted and Black

Bread - Make It With You

Marvin Gaye - Abraham, Martin and John
(which always brings me to tears...)

T-Rex - Ride A White Swan

Joni Mitchell - Big Yellow Taxi

But for this week's musical clip, having established my love of cheesy pop earlier in the week (must go and listen to Malta's Eurosong again!) I present to you 'The Partridge Family'...

(And now, once David Cassidy has faded from your mind, tell me you don't see Hugh Grant...)

Here's another picnic photo.  Picnics really were the thing, and seems like we always had picnic weather in the summers back them (Ahem!)

This time we're in the New Forest (quite a way from home - a big adventure) with family friends.  I think we may have gone there due to my disappointment at having gone for a camping holiday earlier in the summer with my 'best' friend David, only to come down with German Measles a day into the trip, and having to be fetched home!

We spent lots of time with this family - the two girls were the same ages as my sister and I and their brother was more or less my brother's age - perfect companions.  I always think of Parma Violets, trying to pick out the tune of 'Oh My Darling Clementine' on a guitar, pretend wedding ceremonies, yellow bridesmaids' dresses, 'Long-haired Lover From Liverpool' (well, not all memories can be pleasant!) and the Jackson Five when I think of our times together.  

Where would you go for a picnic, given a pleasant sunny day and good company?

Friday, 24 May 2013

Mini Rag Bag Rescue

You may remember my Sarah Moore bunnies from a while back.  

They have all headed off to new homes, thereby making a nice little sum for the hospice. 

The loveliest thing happened after I posted them on here - Sarah Moore herself left me a comment!  

Anyhow, bunnies made, there were still lots of bits of soft and snuggly cashmere jumper bits left over.

I decided I would use a simple pattern.  Luckily I found a great one in the blog 'Rhythm and Rhyme' - the Seriously Cute Mouse, which you can find here and make some pocket pets.

It proved to be a bit of an addictive pursuit!

Very soon my work room was practically teeming with little characters.

Mice with long tails...

Then the mice morphed into bunnies with twinkly eyes...

...and little birdies who chirruped away...

Little scraps of Liberty fabric got thrown into the mix 
(I can almost never throw scraps of Tana lawn away!)

You may recognise this bunny from the pair of shorts made from a rescued baby cord skirt.

Apart from the cashmere jumpers, I also used grey flannel fabric from another 'Rag Bag Rescue' pair of shorts.

Well, those kept me out of trouble for a while! 
Quite a few have already sold, making a few more pennies for the charity shop.   At the shop, I'm pleased to say they now save me any likely candidates for my shrinking techniques!

I've still got some good pieces of felted jumper left and I found a fab pattern from the French pattern makers, Citronille.  Will bring you the results once I get round to making them...

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

A Confession...

I've been struggling with this for a while...

I'm not really sure if I should blurt it out on here...

I mean, I know it's not cool, but I feel it is time to face facts.

I love cheesy pop!

So Saturday evening's Eurovision Song Contest was a must-watch.  Miss U-t-B and I sat down and enjoyed it together (Mr U-t-B being away at the moment), revelling in the whole spectacle and the special touch that only Graham Norton could bring to proceedings.  

Come the voting, once it was blatantly obvious that this was not the year when the UK would do well again, we were rooting for this chap, Gianluca, the singing doctor from Malta.

A song that manages to combine a ukulele, an irresitably upbeat tempo, a catchy refrain and the lyrics 'risk assessment's his investment' should, in my opinion, have won Malta their first Eurovision crown!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Tracks of my Years - 1969

What did 1969 bring us?

Neil Armstrong and Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin walked on the moon. (My parents decided to get us children up to watch this momentous occasion.  Needless to say, I have absolutley no recollection of it whatsoever!)

Half a million visitors went to the Woodstock Festival.

Children's television saw the first episodes of Sesame Street, Scooby Doo, Chigley, and The Clangers.

The Space Hopper bounced into our lives.

Rather a malevolent grin, methinks...

Lulu the elephant ran amok on Blue Peter.

The first B & Q opened its doors, spawning, perhaps, a nation of DIYers, who'd rather not be....

Lulu married Robin Gibb, Paul McCartney married Linda Eastman and John Lennon married Yoko Ono (though not in a joint ceremony!) dashing the hopes of many hankering after a pop star husband.

The United Kingdom shared first place in the Eurovision Song Contest in a four-way tie, with Lulu's Boom-Bang-a-Bang.

Charles, Prince of Wales's investiture took place at Caernarfon.  Bet he didn't think he'd keep this title quite as long as he has!

Monty Python's Flying Circus aired for the first time,enriching our lives with The Ministry of Silly Walks,  the Fish Slapping Dance, the Lumberjack Song, Spam, Dead Parrots and the like. 

The new seven-sided 50p coin was introduced to replace the ten-shilling note.

 In the UK, the death penalty was abolished for murder.

In the cinemas...

On the radio, some absolute classics:

Marvin Gaye - I Heard It Through The Grapevine

Fleetwood Mac - Albatross

Frank Sinatra - My Way

Johnny Cash - A Boy Named Sue

The Hollies - He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother

David Bowie - Space Oddity

Mama Cass - It's Getting Better

Bob Dylan  - Lay Lady Lay

Hits from 'Hair' abounded - this one really takes me back, though actually to a bit later when it was one of the tracks on the first, and for a long while only, cassette tape our family owned.

And for this year's photo, this one from a series taken on a picnic.

Picnics were a real favourite!  Ours were normally beside the River Thames at either Remenham (near Henley), Goring, Sonning, Wallingford or Shiplake.  Sometimes we would paddle, or even (when older) swim.   Just thinking of the cold roast chicken, the hard-boiled eggs and tomatoes, the 'empanadas' (pasties, my favourites were filled with sweetcorn)  and the orange squash kept cold with loads of ice cubes makes my mouth water!

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Sew-and-Tell Saturday - Burda Style Girl's Bell Skirt

When I first saw this pattern, Burda Style's Girl's Bell Skirt #149 I thought it was just the cutest.  It is a downloadable pattern which slowed me down in getting round to making it, as I had never before bought an electronic pattern, and I was a little wary!

I need not have worried though - the downloading, printing and piecing together of the pattern were a cinch, and now I have the advantage that I can reprint the pattern whenever I want to.  This could be the start of a something - there are so many electronic patterns out there, I may never re-surface!

I had a couple of lengths of fabric in my stash to choose from, but as decision making isn't my strong point, I  decided to make a pair of skirts.  I loved the gingham of the original, but chose two florals - 'Flora' by Lauren and Jessi Jung (Moda) and 'Scattered Roses' from Lecien's Anew collection by Brenda Riddle.  

A lack of any suitably light-weight fabric meant I was going to omit the underskirt from the ones I was making.  I have now found some fabric that I think is light enough to make a good underskirt and isn't prohibitively expensive, so I may make another skirt, full-blown version, very soon.

The pattern is labelled as 'Advanced'.  I think it was fairly straightforward but a couple of aspects required attention to detail and care, or the use of a more difficult technique, which might be the reason for the 'Advanced' rating.

The pocket flaps are part of the detail I liked best, and they were one of the tricky bits.  In the pattern, piping is called for, but as I had none and was desperate to get on with the sewing (shops being shut as it was Saturday evening!) I used ric-rac.  I love the finish carefully applied ric-rac can give.

Careful pinning, tacking and stitching are needed to ensure a good finish - time-consuming, but not really that hard.

The other difficult part was the insertion of an invisible zip.  

I had never used an invisible zip before, and didn't have the correct foot for my machine.  I watched a few YouTube clips and then had a go, using the zip foot that came with my machine.  The result was okay, and it wasn't too hard, but I decided to buy an invisible zip foot and see if it made a difference.  

It was actually trickier to do the job with the correct foot, but the finish is that much better, so I guess it shows that having the right tools is important!

I found just having written instructions a little irksome - the diagrams and pictures you get with traditional dressmaking patterns really do help!    I'm not sure I'd want to do a really complex pattern from just written instructions.  Luckily, this one wasn't too complex.

So here are the finished skirts...

I need a four year old model, don't I?

The Burda picture of the skirt shows the sash tied at the front, but in the diagram on the pattern, it looks like it should be inserted so it looks best tied at the back.  If I were making the pattern again, I would decide whether it was to be back or front tying and insert the sash parts accordingly.  Or else cut four sash lengths for total adaptability!

I used a twin needle for the waistband top-stitching...

...and for the hem.

I love the way the gathers onto the waistband are concentrated towards the centre...

I think this is what gives the skirt its sweet shape.

Would I use another Burda Style downloadable pattern?

Oh yes!

Flower tunic


Shirt dress


Wrap dress

But to keep me busy whilst I make a decision, Miss U-t-B (a small 16 year old) would rather like me to make a Bell Skirt to fit her!