Monday, April 30, 2007

where did April go? ...

I can't believe that tomorrow is May and that it has also been nearly two weeks since my last post. The sand is slipping too quickly through the hour glass at the moment which is very frustrating and a bout of tonsillitis didn't help. Although I still made it in to work (I know I'm such a martyr) but it did mean that I was totally washed out by the time I got home and so blogging and crafting were placed on the back burner.

But I did receive a wonderful button package from Anna as part of Vintage Button Swap Deux. I really love these red flower ones and need to think of something special to use them on. Packages with foreign stamps on them do so much to raise the spirits.

I also signed up for Flibbertygibbet's Fabric Swap 3. What can I say I just love receiving happy post and surprise fabric makes for some very happy post.

In an attempt to keep my hand in with the crochet I decided to have a go at making one of the crochet baskets in the Erica Knight book Simple Crochet. Here is the result it took me a ridiculously long time but in my defence I was poorly because it really isn't great.It didn't help that I didn't count the stitches or rows but rather used my 'that looks about right' guage. On this occasion it was not calibrated correctly. Hence the odd shape that lends it a charm all of its own at least that is what I keep telling myself.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

skirt ...

The hemming had to wait until today. Work just so gets in the way of my projects! As you know I made the skirt using the Wendy Mullin pattern that comes with the Sew U book and it is the first project in the book because it is relative simplicity.I decided to use some of the Martha Negley 'Marigold' fabric I bought from Liberty a while ago. The only problem is that the fabric isn't that thick so without some sort of lining you would see a little too much VPL. I had no traditional lining fabric so used some quilting calico instead. I had concerns about it being too bulky but the two together have a nice weight to them. Although the calico may ride up horribly when I walk but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.It is a straight forward pattern consisting of just six pieces, eight if you want to line the skirt. I chose to use a zip at the back of the skirt but Wendy shows you other possible options, such as elasticated waist or drawstring. Wendy provides good instructions on inserting the zip and doing the darts. I have to confess that I hate darts if you don't take your time to execute them properly they can let the whole garment down and make it look homemade in that bad way. So for further instructions I referred to this book

it really is my sewing bible. The photos in it are very dated but the knowledge it contains and the instructions it provides are superlative.

I opted to put the waistband facing on the outside of the skirt and use contrasting fabric which is one of the many permutations that Wendy offers instructions for. In fact there are so many ideas and options that you could make a myriad of skirts all completely different but from the same basic pattern. I could have added pockets, ruffles along the hemline, bound the hem, shortened the skirt oh the possibilities really are endless....

The one bone of contention though is the size, there has been some conversations on other blogs about the small size of the pattern pieces. The skirt comes in XS, S, M or L pattern sizes and I had to go for the medium one and it is a snug fit I am a UK size 8-10 so the sizing is an issue especially as the book gives no details on how to size up.

But I like my new skirt and I hope the weather continues sunny so I can wear it and therefore I think a little leg dipilation is called for this evening.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

booty-licious ...

I thought I would share with you a little snapshot of some of the booty I brought back from Paris.
There's some fabric for tote bags, a couple of pieces of the most amazing wool felt, felt hearts, crochet hooks, thread, buttons, some more buttons, thick strap tape.

Also in the case coming home were biscuits, sweets, sirop, shoes, a skirt, books, toys. But I could have bought so much more.

I had a wonderful weekend. My Vintage Button Swap package got sent out to my partner in Stuttgart - just in time to meet the deadline.

Saturday saw me spending the day at Flibbertygibbet's home being taught to crochet. Several of us gathered to be plied with tea and cake whilst Emma Seddon taught us the fundamentals. It was a wonderful day, Emma was a great teacher, the company was good and Flib was the perfect hostess. And a huge thank you to her for arranging it all.

Now it is all back to normal and that means back to work but hey at least the sun is still shining as the gorgeous scent of jasmine wafts through the open windows. The perfect weather for a new summer skirt! So today I have been working on the Sew U skirt that I said I would make ages ago, it just needs hemming, and I hope to post a photo or two tomorrow.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

paris was wonderful ...

what can I say it was the most perfect three days. The sun shone, we enjoyed good food, delicious views, delectable shopping. The city did not fail to impress.

We had a huge hotel room that more than accommodated the three of us which meant we all slept well and so had plenty of energy for exploring the city and staying out well past a little person's usual bed time.

The view from our hotel window was fabulous.Yes, that's the Eiffel Tower.

The first day we just wandered around and soaked up the ambience and got our bearings. On the second day we first went to see the Sacre Coeur. Sadly the funicular railway was closed and according to the notices will remain so for the forseeable future. So rather than take the shuttle bus we climbed the steps avoiding the hawkers who were starting to gather.

At the foot of the Sacre Coeur there is the most fabulous fabric district. Buildings full of the most wonderful fabric and most of it ridculously cheap. I was so busy gawping open mouthed at all that was on offer I forgot to take any photographs. I also only bought three meters of fabric. Talk about a wasted opportunity!

Then we went on to see the Arc de Triomphe which my little fella insisted on calling the Arch of Triumph. We had watched 'Funny Face' the afternoon before travelling and that is what Fred Astaire called it. Then a brief walk down the Champs-Elysees before heading off to Boulevard Hausmann to check out Galeries Lafayette.

Then the Eiffel Tower. Little Fella was impressed that we had name checked pretty much everything in the "Bonjour Paris" song in 'Funny Face'. I was kind of impressed too at the speed of our sightseeing but that's the benefit of the French Metro system. We didn't go up the Tower as the queues by that hour of the day were so long, so instead we went and had ice creams.

On the third day we got up early again and walked up past the Louvre to Rue Monmartre where I went to Mokuba and got totally bedazzled by all the ribbons then took a hop skip and a jump over to Rue du Jour and La Droguerie. We then walked back along the Seine to buy a tacky souvenir (Eiffel tower snow globe) then rushed off to buy PJ's for the little fella and a book for the big fella. Quickly back to the hotel to check out then out again for lunch and little more wandering this time over to the Jardin du Luxembourg.We went to no museums as the weather was just too good to waste indoors and it was great that the little fella got to play in a few of the many parks in Paris. I am still shaking sand out of the pockets of his jeans. It felt like we were away for a lot longer than just three days and I think it was a definite hit with the little guy as he cried when we left.

Monday, April 09, 2007

bread, bags and au revoir

There is nothing like a few days off work to get you motivated. So fasten your seatbelts and I'll take you for a ride through my productivity.

First up bread. I decided to try my hand at No-Knead Bread, the New York Times bread recipe that has been doing the rounds in Blogland for sometime now.
All you need is flour, water, salt and yeast. Which are all mixed together and then the mixture is left for 18 hours - yes 18 whole hours - this is not a bread to make in a hurry. After all those hours the mixture is like some bubbly witches brew. At this point the mixture is folded in on itself and then left for another couple of hours to rise. It then gets cooked at a high heat in a big casserole like a Le Creuset. After all that time you then have to wait for the bread to cool before tasting. So after all that time was it worth it? Well I think it looks fantastic and it tasted not bad althought I would perhaps add a little more salt which is not like me as I rarely cook with salt. I think it would also be lovely with chopped walnuts baked into it.

Another tote bag - this has been packed and will be coming to Paris, for all those purchases I hope to make!It is made from linen blend fabric in a lilac and aqua as well as the scrummy cupcake fabric.

I am also rather pleased with myself - I have finally made something from some of the strips I received from Flibbertygibbet's first strip swap. I made this cushion cover from the fabric Sarah over at Made for Moot sent to me. It is just a very random log cabin type of patchwork that I machine quilted but it was good fun to work on.

So tomorrow - Paris here we come! Thank you for all your suggestions and ideas plans have been formulated and the weather promises to be on our side so here's to a great couple of days.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

bag lady, part 2 ...

You didn't believe me when I told you I was on a roll did you? Well as proof here is the bag I made the other evening. It is a very simple idea that is made from scrim and linen and just has cord threaded through eyelets for handles.

The fabric applique is just stuck on using heat'n'bond but I think I will stitch around the design with some embroidery thread - maybe just a simple running or back stitch.

It was inspired by these upmarket paper carrier bags .As far as the other bag goes, thank you for your helpful suggestions, as a result I cut out a piece of mountboard and covered it with some of the lining fabric. Hey presto with the board in the base of the bag it is suddenly far less saggy and looks a lot better.

The Easter holiday has now begun, as my son broke up from school today, after the yearly spectacle that is the Easter hat parade. It is a shame that the weather wasn't as gorgeous as it was yesterday. It was rather overcast as they paraded around the playground and the wind whipped a few hats from little heads.

We have nothing much planned for the rest of this week as I still have work but I am not working next week so we are heading off to Paris en famille. I can't wait I am so excited - a week off work and Paris - what more could a girl ask for?!

We are going via Eurostar and because we booked it quite late it is actually cheaper for us to go out on their Leisure Select ticket which is akin to First Class. The Standard fare was more expensive how weird is that? but it means we will start the trip in style.

But can I send out a plea for help? I have a few ideas of places I would like to go to and things I would like to see but does anyone have any ideas of things to see and do with a 7 year old boy? Any and all ideas will be most appreciated.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

bag lady ...

a girl can never have too many bags can she? Well going on this premise being true, at least for me anyway I thought I would have a go at making this bag from Lotta's book.
It seemed a simple pattern - just cutting various blocks of varying sizes from an outer and a lining fabric. The instructions also seemed to be straight forward enough. So all in all a perfect Sunday afternoon project.

Well, I cut my pieces out alright - denim for the outside and an Amy Butler floral fabric for the lining. I decided I would line the little side pocket although the pattern doesn't call for this. I wish I had also lined the front pocket as the instructions regarding adding twill tape to the edge of this pocket is a little confusing - I ended up doing my own thing.
I wish I had also followed my gut instinct and added something to stiffen the base. Some heavy duty interfacing would have done the trick. The front and back panels would also benefit from some support but if the base was more rigid then they could get away with being a little floppy.

I would also make the handles ever so slightly longer so I could sling the bag over my shoulder if I wanted to.

Anyway, I'm off to make another of my dollie tote bags but different from the usual corduroy ones. What can I say, don't stop me, I'm on a roll - what a shame it's Sunday evening and its the start of another working week tomorrow.