Thursday, 8 August 2013

Rag Bag Rescue - East Dress

A little while back a pretty kaftan came into the charity warehouse.  It was too faded and rubbed at the bound edges to go into one of the shops to sell, so I asked if I could do a transformation on it.  

Here it is before I got to work with the scissors!  The colours are really pretty, and I love the Indian block print type fabric.

Being a kaftan, there was plenty of fabric to work with.  

First I made a little dress from a well-used pattern (McCalls 6059)...

Next, I used some complementary fabric from my stash ( might be yarn-dyed Essex linen)  to make some shorts.  I trimmed the pocket edges with scraps from the kaftan...

...And  changed the cuffs into tie ones, with the facings offering another glimpse of kaftan!

I am still loving using a twin needle for most top-stitching.  All those years I didn't know I could simply thread up two spools from the top to achieve this...

There was still a good deal of fabric left, so onwards and forwards it was to find a pattern I could squeeze onto the remaining bits.  The tiered summer top from my favourite Japanese children's dressmaking book was just the ticket.  

I already managed to sell the dress to the manager of the warehouse, so the charity is a tenner up already.  If I can just sell the other two, I hope I will have made about £30 in total, from one item that would have been worth pennies (or less) in the ragbag.  Hoorah!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Tracks of my Years - 1976

In the news:

John Curry won gold at the Winter Olympics, beginning a bit of a golden era for British ice-skating

The first Body Shop, the brain-child of Anita Roddick, opened in Brighton

A heat wave and drought gripped the UK with temperatures in the 90s for the better part of a month

The first recording to be labelled as 'Punk Rock' was released - The Damned's 'New Rose'

Agatha Christie's last novel 'Sleeping Murder' was published posthumously

The first Korean car was imported into the UK - Hyundai's Pony

Hyundai Pony 1984 Utrecht .jpg

In Britain the average house price was £12, 704; a gallon of petrol cost 76p; inflation ran at 16.5%; and the Bank of England Interest Rate was 14.25%


Multicoloured Swap Shop changed Saturday mornings

Open All Hours

The Muppet Show

The Bionic Woman

When the Boat Comes In

In the cinema:

On the radio
(which I carried with me whenever possible)
 so many songs that take me right back with just their opening bars

Don't Go Breaking My Heart - Elton John and Kiki Dee

Save Your Kisses for Me - Brotherhood of Man

Mississippi - Pussycat

If You Leave Me Now - Chicago

You To Me Are Everything - The Real Thing

Lost in France - Bonnie Tyler

December '63 - The Four Seasons

Young Hearts Run Free - Candi Staton

Jeans On - David Dundas

Howzat - Sherbet

Love Me - Yvonne Elliman

Girls, Girls, Girls - Sailor

Music - John Miles

If Not You - Dr Hook

Sideshow - Barry Biggs

Let Your Love Flow - Bellamy Brothers

And this...

Photos from 1976 are few and far between.  But this one was taken on our first family camping trip to France, in Benodet.  Looking back, maybe it was this first taste of France that made me so keen on the country?

What are your memories of 1976?

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Tidying up my sewing table

For a very long time, my battered sewing table looked like this...

Everything I needed was close to hand, but in an awkward way.  The sewing machine was on a couple of chunky crochet mats, a pair of scissors and a seam ripper were normally hanging about nearby,  there was a tin of pins, a pincushion  and an old preserving jar in which to put all the cut threads.  Oh and my self-covered, Cath Kidston radio - don't forget the radio! (The hazardous making of which you can read about here and here.)

But everything was sort-of on the wrong side for me, a right-handed person, and also I kept scooting things off the table as the fabric passed through the sewing machine.  

It was time to create something to serve my purposes better!

First I created some random patchwork.    I made three strips, each of which measured 36" by 4", made up of  2" squares, 4" squares, 4 x 2" rectangles and 6 x 4" rectangles.  I was able to use up lots of scraps I had around the place - quite a lot was Tilda leftovers from another project, but I added in some other favourites, as it was going to be nice way to preserve them!

To make my runner, I cut 

24          2 1/2"    squares
18          4 1/2"    by   2 1/2" rectangles
6            4 1/2"    by   6 1/2" rectangles
3            4 1/2"    squares

I divided those up to make three strips which I arranged differently so each strip was unique, then sewed the strips together to make my 36" by 12" strip.

I found a suitable sized piece of backing fabric (part of a pretty, old, cotton duvet cover) and a remnant of batting.  I quilted the piece with horizontal and vertical lines in a sort-of random way, then bound it with a super long length of 2 1/2" strips which I had sewn together simply (not joined diagonally as you would normally do) and used folded in half.

Then I set about making some pockets to attach to the right hand end, that was going to dangle over the side of the table.

One was to be a thread bin (I hoped fabric would be better for this than the glass had been as threads 'stick' to my rough fingertips - I reckoned I could swipe the threads on the fabric).  This was a lined pocket with a channel sewn at the top and some 'boning' threaded through to keep it open.  Having no actual boning to hand, I used a section cut from the top of a family-size yogurt pot!  Worked a treat!

The other pocket was for small scissors and a seam-ripper.  

These were simply sewn onto the finished runner and embellished with buttons.

My final addition to the runner was a  built in pincushion.  I selected an area about four inch square in the central patchwork strip to the right of where the sewing machine would be.  I made sure this had been quilted all the way round, then cut a small slit in the backing and lightly stuffed the square.  I also squeezed in two small, super-strong magnets (salvaged from old computers) before whip-stitching the slit and placing a neat patch over it.  

This created an area where I can stab my pins, and two corners where I can place safety pins and needles and know they won't end up on the floor (and from thence into my foot!)

My desk looks much more swish now!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Home again, home again, jiggedy-jig

A busy few days away in France - somewhat impromptu - but I'm now back home and catching up with life (well, the washing mostly!)

Whilst away, we were able to enjoy beautiful scenery...

(You could believe you were in the Caribbean - the vegetation, the 38 degrees of heat and the violent cloudbursts!)

Barbecues with family and friends were on the menu too.
(Thanks M & H for a fabulous meal - what you'll be able to do when you have electricity and proper mains water and drainage will be completely awesome!)

Our main reason for this trip was to take this beast of a woodburner - an Ebay bargain at just a little over £200 - over to Mr U-t-B's 'project'.

Mr U-t-B did lots of work, I handed tools to him and did a bit of cleaning, then finally, on our last day, got stuck in to some tiling...

I also managed to finish these...

(Ergo, much weeping was done.)

I also started this - I am already predicting more weeping!

At night we were mesmerised by millions of stars in the inky skies and 
the glow-worms studding our grass (which I'll have to leave up to your imaginations to picture, night-time photography not being my camera's 'thing')
and our early morning wake-up call came from Derek...

...who is still living a contented life with Vanille.  No sign of a baby donkey yet, but I'm no donkey midwife, so wouldn't know unless it was really obvious!