Sunday, 27 December 2009

The chronicles of Christmas day

We got up a bright and early (well 9ish, I was up until 2am wrapping presents) and wandered downstairs to see that Santa had been, and that there was still snow on the ground. Yay for the semi-white Christmas!


I’m never too bothered about my own presents, well that isn’t entirely true, but I spend so much time carefully choosing, sewing, knitting (worrying) that I’m too intent on looking at other people’s faces, scanning for a hint of disappointment or a flush of gratitude to even look at my own right at that moment. It’s only later that I have the mental time to have a really good look and appreciate the trouble that my family and friends have gone to.

Here are some highlights:

Ma must have been secretly reading my blog because she bought me one of The Aviarium’s beautiful Garden Bird name rods! Honestly they are wonderful things, beautifully packaged, and mum had my name added too. Thankyou ma!


My best friend bought me the absolutely gorgeous book Sew!, by Kath Kidston – just the eyecandy photos alone would be enough, but it comes with pre-cut fabric to make the bag on the cover and lots of lovely homey projects to sew. I love this book! Thankyou Elle :)


I got some other Kath Kidston goodies too, like a flour shaker and gardening gloves from my friend Tracey. There was alcohol from my uncle (did I ever tell you tequila makes me angry, I mean really angry – it’s my own personal housewife’s ruin) and much needed socks and cash from my gran.

Mum also got me this really amazing box full of vintage sewing supplies and hair goodies – I don’t think I’ll ever use them, they are just too nice in their original packaging! This is going to take more than one photo, so bear with me:


Look at this fantastic ‘weekend needle book’!

IMG_8009 IMG_8011IMG_8010

You see? Far too beautiful to use – but then how many needles did the average lady really need for the weekend?

Oh, and I also received a mountain of lip balm which if you know me, you know is a Good Thing – last week, after going to bed, I realised I had left my single pot of lip balm downstairs and decided to go and get it, in the dark without putting my glasses on. You know your house so well you could walk around it with your eyes closed, right? I mean, that knowledge is our best defence against murdering burglars! Wrong, I kicked a cat, missed the last step and fell heavily on my big toe, which with a loud crack dislocated and sent me into shock, whimpering for my mum. Don’t worry, it righted itself the next day while I was at work and became an amusing anecdote that got me out of having to sit through the principal’s address.

Christmas dinner was probably the best meal I have ever eaten – gran excelled herself, even grandad didn’t say ‘not as good as last year’ like usual. In fact, gran got a dig in herself, when grandad stated that she drives him up the wall, gran calmly answered ‘well, I’ve got to have something to do’. Go grandma.


So, I hope you all got your own personal mountain of lip balm, and had a wonderful day to boot :)


Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Another Christmas present…

I made this laptop bag for my best friend for Christmas – I didn’t do a proper tutorial though, partly because there are a million tutorials for messenger bags on the net, and partly because I made it at night and the photos would have been rubbish.

elles bag 4elles bag 3

I used a large scrap of thick, brown, woven wool, some pale blue spotted cotton and a large doily. The only difference between this and a normal messenger bag is that I quilted the inside.

elles bag 2

If you want to quilt the inside of a bag, you need to quilt your fabric before you do any other sewing. I cut all the pattern pieces, basing the size on my own laptop (2 large rectangles, one for the outer and one for the lining, 3 inches wider than your laptop for the width, and 3 times the height of your laptop plus 3 inches for the length) I used a piece of batting slightly smaller than the main pattern pieces so it wouldn’t interfere with the seams.

elles bag 1

After I had sewn the whole thing up and added a strap, I patiently sewed on a crochet doily because it looked a bit boring without, and I’m an avid hoarder collector of doilies, tray cloths and the like :)


Monday, 21 December 2009

Snow, snow, snow, snow, snow!

Every time we get a whisper of snow mum always starts singing the classic White Christmas song, ‘Snow’. So, as you can imagine, every few hours she is breaking into song because our immediate world looks like this;

s1 s2s3 s4 s5s6s7      s12s9s13s8s11 s14      s15s16s17s19s20s18

Chilly, treacherous, but pretty all the same. I took these photos yesterday on a long walk, and I’m glad I did because it’s all starting to melt away now.


Sunday, 20 December 2009

Thrifty and quick(ish) dog toy tutorial…

I needed a quick Christmas present for my uncle’s dog and it needed to be thrifty too. I decided to gather my brother’s old t-shirts and make something chewable and tuggable – dogs like tug-of-war, right?
I came up with this:
It was really easy to make, but because it needed to be gift-worthy I added a few steps to make it neater than I would if it were for my dog :)
You will need:
3 differently coloured man-sized t-shirts
Sewing machine
Door knob
t shirt toy 2
First, gather 3 old, huge, blokes t-shirts
t shirt toy 5
Then, starting from the hem, cut the t-shirt in one continuous spiral to create a strip about 2” wide and 3 metres long.
t shirt toy 3
Do this for all three t-shirts.
t shirt toy 1
If this is for your own dog, you can skip this step, but I needed it to be neat and tidy and giveable – even if dogs don’t care, humans seem to!
Sew each strip, face-to-face, lengthwise to make really long tubes. It takes ages, but it will hide all those seams and slightly raggedy edges you have.
Now turn each strip right way out using a chopstick or knitting needle and lots of patience.
I forgot to take pictures from now on, (doh) but hopefully my words make sense.
To make the handle:
Fold each strip in half lengthwise, and then find the centre of the doubled strip. Hold them all together so you have 2 strands of each colour in your hand. About 6” from the centre, tie the strands together with a scrap of fabric. Now plait the strands together until when you hold the centre of your plaited bit, the loose ends all hang level.
Hold all the strands together (there should be four of each colour), untie your scrap of fabric and re-tie it tightly where the plaited middle bit ends.
This is your handle. Now loop this over a door handle, gather your coloured strands, and plait away until you have about half a foot left.
Tie a big knot in the whole thing, trim the ends and you’re done!
Finally, give to a dog and hope it lives through Christmas day (the toy, not the dog) :)

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Snow day…

It snowed on Thursday, and then on Friday too. It was hellish getting to and from work (skid, argh, “it’s alright Beccy, the car has stopped”) but it does look pretty!


Two of the chooks have never seen snow before, and didn’t know what to make of it. Tailless Dave was happier on dry ground.


While I’m at it, some pictures of the inside of the old homestead.


Pretty much all the decorations are vintage except for the tinsel and lights, and were picked up in charity shops – I got a load of old glass baubles (that I didn’t really need) last week, 5 for £1.


We like to bring in a lot of greenery at Christmas because the tree is fake and it’s nice to have real things sometimes. We don’t usually light the fire because, frankly, the central heating does a much better job. But around Christmas we always set it, and then light it on Christmas eve (if we can leave it that long).


Sometimes we light it just after Christmas too, and mum chucks all the dead greenery on there, which (for reference) is an excellent way of starting a chimney fire…


Sunday, 13 December 2009

Mum’s birthday tool roll tutorial…

So you’ve made your brushes (and maybe whittled some wooden tools – that’s them on the right), but now you need somewhere to keep them safe and tidy. I used some vintage fabric snagged at a car boot sale and some fancy stitching to make a roll to keep em all in.
What you will need:
Approximately half a metre of fabric
Half a metre of ribbon
Tape measure
Tailors chalk or pencil
It is worth knowing what you are going to put into your tool roll in advance. Because I wanted it to house various things of different widths, I needed pockets of different sizes. I laid out the brushes and wooden tools on the table along a tape measure. It turned out I needed to give each thin brush an inch, the wider brush two inches, the widest brush four inches, and the tools an inch and a half. This gave me a length of 22 1/2 inches, to which I added an inch either side. If you are making pockets for specific things, make sure you write down each measurement!
Measure the tallest thing you are going to put in your roll and add an inch – mine came to 12”.
These are your final measurements – I needed to cut two pieces 24 1/2” by 12”. The third piece, which will be your pockets, should be 1/3 as high as the main piece. I cut mine 4” by 24 1/2”
Start with your pocket. Fold over 1/4” at the long side, and press.
Sew down the fold with a fancy stitch you’ve never used before, and likely never will again (ooh, that’s pretty!)
place your pocket on one of the main pieces, lining up the edges.
Fold your length of ribbon in half, and place the folded bit slightly over the edge on one side of the main piece.
Place your left over main piece face down over the whole thing and pin.
Sew through all layers, leaving an opening. Turn the whole thing the right way out through this opening.
It should look like this, a puffy mess. Press flat, making sure the opening is pressed even with the sides.
Now grab that list of measurements and your tailor’s chalk and mark your pockets.
Now sew your pockets, going slightly over the edge of the top of the pocket. I sewed all mine at the same time, hence the diagonal threads, I snipped them off after.
I topstitched around the whole edge to close the hole and stabilise the roll – hey look, I did use that fancy stitch again!
Now pop in all your carefully measured tools and marvel as you roll it up and tie it neatly with the ribbon, and think “That thing’s huge, I wish I’d put a carrying handle on it” :)