Thursday, 30 July 2015

Dress a Girl meets Pocket Love

I've been wondering whether to make a little something to slip in the pocket of the dresses I've made for Dress a Girl UK and wondered if my little friend Emma might like to help. I know she enjoys making things and last week happened to see something she'd made in felt which got me thinking. 
Remember when I made the Pocket Love hearts back in March?? I thought perhaps something along those lines might be just the thing. Not necessarily hearts, more something you might call a "what not".

Well, yesterday I spent a lovely evening with Emma (she's 6) and explained what I had in mind. 

I'd already put together a little sewing kit for her (not as good as Mara's sewing kit as I was in a rush - sorry Emma) and had found a pack of felt with lots of colours, and a few old embroidery threads.
She kept asking if she had to give it all back when I went home!!

She was quite eager to get started and quickly began suggesting her own ideas of what we could make and we settled on a two colour diamond to begin with, decorated with buttons and a little embroidery. 
Here she is, concentrating hard on what's she's doing.

We used some cardboard to draw the diamond template (she knew all about templates and stencils already!) and she chose some pale blue and white felt - influenced by her favourite film Frozen perhaps?!
I cut out the felt diamonds (the scissors weren't very sharp), helped thread the needle and make the first stitch but Emma did almost all of it after that. She really enjoyed adding just the right amount of stuffing to make it plump but not fat!

Here she is  - doesn't she looked pleased?

I was also hoping that Emma might model a couple of the dresses for me as well. Although I haven't made any in her size (she's a very tall 6yr old!), I thought she could wear one as a top with a pair of leggings. 

She did eventually relent and put one on - just one mind! - and it took a LOT of persuading but I think it was worth it.

It was very satisfying to actually see one of my dresses on someone as I doubt I'll ever see the eventual recipient wearing it. Very satisfying.

Dress a Girl - Tina's Allsorts

 Emma's diamond will go in the pocket of an age 12-14 dress and I'll make some child friendly versions for the baby/toddler size dresses.
She's going to make some more for me during the school holidays - I can't wait to see them!! And as I'm also aware of the need for dresses to be sent off to Jayne & Jacqui ready for shipment around the world, we'd better get a move on!!

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Chicken Doorstop Tutorial

It's ready! My chicken doorstop tutorial turned out to be so long that I thought it needed a page of it's own - there it is, at the top of the screen. Or click HERE.

I hope you enjoy it and please do let me know if you think I got anything wrong. Cockadoodle do!!

PS I think I mentioned before that I saw a pattern for a mini chicken HERE. My doorstop evolved from that design but I've made it much bigger, it "faces" the other way, the wattle is made from cord, the shape is slightly different etc etc. You're more than welcome to use my version but please post a link back to me. Thankyou.

PPS I've now found out how to add a downloadable PDF, so when I get chance, I'll sketch out the basics and upload it.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Dress a Girl Visitors

Hello to any Dress a Girl UK visitors arriving here today and Welcome to my little bit of cyber space!
And a big thankyou to Jayne & Jacqui for mentioning me on the Dress a Girl UK website and adding a link on their patterns page.
I think their link takes you to the home page of my blog, so I have now added a link in the side bar to take you to the right place for my mini tutorial. Just scroll down and look for it.
Apologies, if it isn't much of a pattern... When I get chance, I'll write it up properly and maybe make another one so I can take extra photos. If you can already sew, you shouldn't have a problem though.
(Update - I've found out how to add a downloadable PDF, I just need to write something up and add it - I'll try and do it soon though.)

They actually published their latest newsletter on my birthday and it was quite a treat to log in and see it! Getting a mention on someone else's site is just so exciting!! As is receiving flowers from my friends on my birthday. Just look at these -
Aren't they lovely? Lucky me!!

I think I've done everything I hoped to during my stay-cation this week. Mottisfont Abbey Gardens, Hilliers (of course), Kew Gardens (yes, I made it there!), Lee-on-the-Solent, and sewing. More of my days out another day perhaps.
Anyway, that's all for today - I'm off to write up the tutorial for a chicken doorstop. I've made 4 of them today - the three that were ordered plus a spare, as there was enough fabric for another. Now I have back ache after hunching over the sewing machine all day. Oh how I wish we still had a bath tub...
Chicken Doorstop, Tina's Allsorts

Sunday, 19 July 2015

A busy week planned

I'm on holiday this week. A holiday from home, or "stay-cation" as some people call it. I did have plans for a week away but they fell through, which as it turns out may have been a good thing as I have begun the dreaded job hunting...In fact, I have the first interview with a rather interesting looking company tomorrow morning! Not had an interview for nearly eight years...
My cv is now updated and has also been sent off to another company. I don't want to go flat out applying for just anything. I want something that will tick all the boxes. Fingers crossed. Or thumbs out, as a friend said!

I also want to squeeze in some garden visiting, some sewing, catching up with friends etc. And jam making - although I've actually done that already today! A small batch each of strawberry and blackberry.

After tomorrow's (scary!) interview, I'll be heading to Mottisfont to meet a friend for lunch, a walk, a good natter and lots of photos.I didn't make it out there in June to see the roses but it's usually lovely throughout the summer and the river walk is not to be missed. (And I'm still thinking about a second blog dedicated to just photos. The only thing holding me back is a name for it... Ideally, I'd like a word that means "beautiful image". Do you know one???)

And the sewing? A dress or two, plus a new project!
Naturally, I bought more fabric yesterday...I needed fabric for the new project but couldn't stop myself from buying some for Dress a Girl. It's a 60" wide fabric, so I might make a "Momma Dress". Or I'll trim it down a little and make a girls dress and use the trimmings to make a little bag.

And the new project? -  chicken doorstops. Someone asked me for 3 of these months ago and I completely forgot! Luckily, they were planning ahead and thinking of Christmas. I made some of these doorstops a couple of years ago when I was still doing the Art & Design Market, with some adaptations, along with matching paperweights. They sold very quickly!

The lady who has requested 3 of them said she didn't mind what colour, as long as it wasn't brown. Plus they can all be the same, which helps. There were a lot of fabrics to choose from, as you can imagine! In the end and with some very helpful assistance from one of the staff at my local fabric store, I've chosen a hot pink retro print for the main body and lime green for the base - soft versions, not bright in your face. Plus some thermal curtain lining to make the inner sand bag, as the sand doesn't come through as the weave is so tight.
The lighting was a bit bright when I took this, so you can't really see the lime green colour of the plain fabric properly. But it's definitely lime, trust me! Not sure quite what day I'll get round to making them but when the day arrives I'll be sure to take lots of photos along the way and write up a tutorial. (There are lots of tutorials available for these chickens. Here's the LINK to the original one I used but as I say, I adapted the pattern along the way, not least by having my chickens "face" the other way.)
They're quite simple to make and very handy. I have one myself in shades of peaches and cream. Part of a whole set of fabrics I bought years ago to make a quilt. I'll make it one day...

I'm hoping to visit Kew Gardens this week too. I Love it there - I just wish it wasn't so far away!! And I wouldn't say no to a trip to the beach for some sea air either! And a massage. And a spot of lunch. Maybe a trip to the cinema???
Either way, I'm sure to take loads of photos to bore you with later!! (Although maybe not photos of the massage...)

Hope you enjoy your week too...

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Ta Dah - another dress made

(Update Sept - the pattern link now works!)
Well, I managed to make one dress today, not two. I was late getting started, then half way through we had visitors, plus the design meant it took a lot longer to make - like 2 1/2 hours!
I was late getting started because I was trying to find a dress tutorial that actually had measurements on the pattern pieces, rather than just telling you to print it out - no access to a printer at home you see. I eventually found THIS and decided what chest size I needed to cut, which happened to match the t-shirt I bought to make into a dress but haven't got round to yet. (I didn't want to go ahead and just copy the t-shirt size exactly as the fabric was stretchy but the dress bodice wouldn't be.) Anyway, I made my own little pattern in the end from the t-shirt, like so -
(I actually cut 2/3" off the bottom of the bodice before attaching the skirt, as I thought it was a little long.)
I placed the pattern an inch in from the fold when I cut the back, to allow for turnings then cut through the fold, plus the back neckline was cut about an inch higher too. I also re-cut the armholes slightly so they were a bit more rounded were they met the side seam, to make attaching the bias binding easier.
I stitched and zig zagged the side seams and did a french seam for the shoulders. The back edges were turned over 1/2", then 1/2" again and top stitched.
I put the binding round the armholes first and was delighted to find they were just the right size to fit over the free arm of the sewing machine for stitching.

Next came the neck binding and I allowed about 12" extra at each end to form the ties at the back. After stitching, a light steaming at the centre front makes the binding shrink a bit and lie flat.

Then I started making the skirt. The 40cm length I had bought was just right and had been cut beautifully straight so didn't even need to be trimmed. I decided to cut about 6" off one side edge so that the overall width was 36". I did a big seam allowance in the back as I needed to leave a small opening and turn under the edges at the top edge where it meets the bodice, to be sure there was enough room to put it on over a child's head.

For the hem, I turned up an inch, then another inch and stitched. Then I put lengths of gathering stitches around the top edge before pinning to the bodice and pulling up the gathering threads. I did it in quarter sections to be sure I got the gathers nice and even. The gathered skirt and bodice were then securely stitched together and as all the gathering might have felt a little scratchy against a child's skin, I found a piece of leftover binding to cover it. You'll have to excuse the blue thread showing on the binding - if I'd used white in the bobbin it might have pulled through to the front. (It's just occurred to me, that if you put the wrong sides together when you attach the skirt, so the seam is on the right side, then cover the seam with a pretty binding, it will also look really nice and you won't have to worry about any scratchy bits on the inside.)
And that's it! Doesn't sound like 2 1/2 hours work does it?...And here's the finished dress -
Dress a Girl
I haven't put a pocket on it yet but I will before I send it off.

If you want to have a go at making a dress yourself and have access to a printer, then THIS website by Jen is a good place to start. She's made a nice patchwork panel skirt on her dress too that I quite like the look of. May have to give that a try one day...

UPDATE ; For those who would like a pattern to print out for the bodice (One size only, finished chest size 20"), try the link below, or drop me an email and I'll gladly send it to you -

PS And in case you're wondering, no, I haven't started work on my cv either...

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Can't resist a bargain !!!

I took a half day yesterday. A friend at work had invited me to join her and some colleagues for a birthday meal but I was supposed to be having my hair cut at the same time. Luckily, my brilliant but very busy hairdresser, managed to squeeze me in mid afternoon so a half day was called for. I rarely take a half day but I do enjoy them.
Normally I don't have that much time to whiz round the shops in Winchester - I have to do a little each day when there's something I'm after. But I had 2 hours to fill. Woo Hoo! I did a circuit of the charity shops to see if there was anything I fancied but nothing really grabbed me. I'd already found a gorgeous pure silk summer dress earlier in the week - and it was my size and only £9. Bargain! It's looooovely and floaty. I can't wait for a really hot day to wear it as it will feel like I've got nothing on! Then I popped into M&S for a wander.
There's not much left in their sale now - it's mostly all the crap brought in from other branches in tiny/huge sizes. But there was one maxi dress in a size 14 that looked nice. And it was reduced to £18 too. I can never resist a bargain...I decided to try it on, even though I thought it would be too small but lo and behold, it was a perfect fit!! So that was my birthday meal outfit sorted! Shame I didn't see it before I bought the purple dress for my niece's wedding last month, as even full price it was still only half the price. If you see what I mean! Never mind.
I finished my shopping spree in C&H Fabrics. They had a display in the window with some fabrics that were 25% off, so I thought it was worth a look to see if there was anything suitable for Dress a Girl dresses. And I saw this -
Well how does a girl resist?! I thought it would look nice if I did a mid-blue bodice and animal print skirt, so asked for 20cm of blue and 40cm of print. Not having the pattern details with me, I had to guesstimate and figured that would be ample, allowing for seams and hem etc. And it would only cost £7.60, including 25% of the printed fabric. Well, the lady on the desk asked for less than £5 which I queried, as I was worried she'd only cut 20cm of printed fabric but no. It was now 50% off - Bargain!! So I asked for another 40cm!! I'm sure I'll have something plain in the cupboard I can use for the bodice - or I could just about squeeze out the baby size from 40cm I think. I'll have a go tomorrow.
I must go back through all the pins I saved on my Dress a Girl Pinterest board too, and look for a dress with a proper bodice and see if there's a pattern I can download. And boys shorts...I still haven't got round to making any shorts...
Actually, let's just have a quick look now... and yes, THIS by Jen of My Measuring Tape might be just the thing. I can extend the binding round the neck edge to make ties, rather than have buttons. Perfect.

Amongst the sewing now planned for tomorrow, I also need to update my cv. I've been saying for a long time - ooh, 6 years - that I'm going to look for something else but there are now things happening at work which may end up with enforced job hunting, so I thought I'd make a start. I saw something advertised in the press this week which sounded really interesting but I need an up to date cv first.
So if you, or someone you know, is looking for an experienced accounts assistant, able to work proficiently in all ledgers, plus payroll, preferably within 15 miles of Southampton please do let me know...

To finish today, a couple of photos of a lovely apricot rose in the garden.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Where to start? ...

I feel as if I have a lot to say today - not unusual for me! I've written a little list of what I'd like to bore you with talk about, so I'll just get stuck in and see how far I get.

First up - Dress a Girl Around the World (have a look HERE).
I'm still sewing away making dresses for this project - and thoroughly enjoying the process too, I must say. I'm quite getting back into sewing - it was my first love in the crafting world and I have hopped from craft to craft over the years but I do seem to have come full circle. The main reason I moved away from sewing was that it started playing havoc with my back - only to be expected I suppose when you sit hunched over the sewing machine for a whole weekend at a time! I'm trying not to sit there too long these days but it really helps that the dresses are quick and easy to make anyway. I made another 2 yesterday and one more today. Am I using my stash of quilting fabrics? Like hell I am!! Having discovered that the local fabric shop has a small range of Rose & Hubble cottons at £5 per metre, how does a girl resist?...
I've made 11 so far. Would you like to see?
The longer dresses in the photos are in the largest size requested, age 12-14. They have a slit either in the side or the back, plus a contrast pocket. One of the blogs I looked at when hunting for patterns and info, suggested putting the pocket on the side rather than the front. That way the dress is reversible should it become ripped or stained perhaps. I thought that was a sensible idea (sensible being my middle name...) so have done that with most of the dresses I've made so far.
Dress a Girl Around the WorldDress a Girl Around the World

On the left, is the little dress I made with a t-shirt as the bodice. It turned out ok I think, although I'm not sure what will happen with vigorous washing etc...I have another t-shirt but haven't used it yet. On the right is a toddler size dress that took just half a metre of fabric - is the pocket too big?...

Dress a Girl Around the World
Dress a Girl Around the World

And the 2 on the right of course, are the first two I made. Two months ago now - doesn't seem that long.

Next on my list is facebook of all things. I always used to say that I would never have a facebook account and it was a waste of time - try talking to each other! But I joined up in April so I could see what a friend was up to in the Philippines (here's a little of his trip HERE.) He told me about someone else making dresses, so I looked her up on facebook and found out about the Dress a Girl project. I would never have known about it otherwise. I was even able to send her a message without knowing her email address.
And for those friends who do put a lot on their page, I almost feel as if we've had a little catch-up. So yes, facebook does have it's place in the world I suppose. And yes, I also have a page to go with the blog - although I hardly ever put anything on it! Must try harder with that. So if you've followed the link in the side bar and found little on it, I'm sorry...One day I'll join the 20th century and get a smart phone so I can post all sorts of rubbish all day! Or maybe not.

Third on the list was to share some photos from my recent visits to Hilliers along with the roses and lillies blooming at home in the garden but on second thoughts, I'm still toying with the idea of having a separate blog just for them having been inspired by Sandra, so I'll leave them for another day.

I had another trip to the Mayflower this week, to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. This was the set for the entire production -

If you look closely you can see the Dog in question, lying murdered on the stage! It was a very good production - I can see why it won so many awards. And the actor who took the role of the central character Steven was very good. Steven reminded me of someone I used to work with - the voice, the mannerisms, the way he said things, even what he said. Spooky!

I also had a bit of excitement in my "online life", as well as some sad news. Sad first.
I saw something on Pinterest that said the author of one of the (many) blogs I look at regularly had died. Winkie Flash of a creative being succumbed to a particularly bad bout of depression and took her own life. I feel as if I've almost lost a friend, as I've used several of her patterns myself and she filled her blog with so much fun and colour. So sad...

And the excitement? Well, again on Pinterest (don't you just LOVE Pinterest??) I saw a stripey crochet blanket, much like my own (HERE) but in brighter colours. Well, I pinned it - naturally - then followed the link to Ravelry to see who made it. Her name is Hannah Davis and after giving a bit of info about her blanket she said it was inspired by Julie of Little Woollie and ME!! Yes, little old ME! Woo Hoo!! Who'd a thunk it??!! She also has a nice blog with the most amazing tutorial to help you make your own blanket - even a complete beginner could follow her instructions. They are so clear and include step by step photos that are beautifully composed and shot. Well done Hannah! Oh yes - and she's on facebook!

Well, I think that's everything on my list. I might even go and update facebook now. Might...

RIP  Winkie Flash

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Busy busy ...

Has it really been 3 weeks since my last proper post?? Well, let's just say it's been very busy at work!! LOTS to do before taking a week off, coupled with a colleagues' sickness/holiday so covering for her too. Then a week off, then back into the thick of it trying to catch up! Joy...
I had a relaxing week off for a change. I usually try and pack in as much as I can to make the most of that precious time but for some reason this summer I didn't.
It started with a family wedding, which was lovely - not had a family wedding for years. Then a 2 day break in Kent. I went Canterbury Cathedral - I went 30 years ago and have wanted to go again ever since - a visit to Sissinghurst (glorious) and a slightly damp trip to Howlett Zoo (one of the best zoos I've ever visited).
Back home, I had a couple of visits to Hilliers (naturally), a wander round the Flower Festival at Winchester Cathedral and a mammoth jam making session.
I don't want to fill the space with masses of photos again - I'm still thinking about a blog just for pics - so I think I'll just concentrate on Canterbury.

As I said, it's been 30 years since I last visited Canterbury Cathedral and my memory of it was a bit off if I'm honest. I recall it being HUGE with a big circular stained glass window at the West End. Well, it is big, but in comparison with Winchester, it didn't feel huge. And it doesn't have a circular west window. I wonder where I saw that?...
I must have spent a good 2 hours (or more) having a good poke about and taking plenty of photos, not only of the architecture but also the magnificent stained glass.
I nearly skipped the Chapter House as it's "outside" the main building. I'm glad I didn't though as they have a special exhibition on at the moment called The Ancestors. They're currently repairing and conserving the great South Window, so the glass had to come out. A perfect opportunity to conserve the glass too. And put it on display at a height that allows you see it properly. It's also been on show in America.
You do have to wonder why stained glass windows have so much detail as they are placed so high you really can't see them.
I was talking to one of the Guides in the Chapter House and he said the glass on display is thought to have been made in the 12-13th century and was originally in the clerestory windows. (The clerestory is the really high level, just below the roof. How would you ever see them??) He said because they were placed so high, they were not destroyed by Henry VIII's men during the Reformation. They were later taken out and placed in the South Window. They depict some of the Ancestors of Jesus.
They have now been cleaned and conserved and placed in a really nice exhibition that's well worth a look. They have built a lovely "light box" to mount several of the windows. (Be quick though - it's only on until August 23rd.)
Here are some photos of just one of them. Wish now I'd taken a photo of the blurb so I can tell you about it. But I didn't...
The Ancestors, Canterbury Cathedral

The Ancestors, Canterbury Cathedral
The Ancestors, Canterbury Cathedral

The Ancestors, Canterbury Cathedral

It's not until I look at these again now, that I can see just what a fabulous job, not only the original artists did but also the conservators at the cathedral. They could have been painted just yesterday.
It really is worth making the effort to go and have a look if you're in the area and like stained glass. 
Here are some links to Canterbury's website should you want to read a little more about the stained glass and see some of their photos.

Below is a short video from the website too. As it starts, the figures on the far left are the ones in my photos. It's quite a nice website and worth taking 5 minutes having a good look round it. Enjoy.