Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Retro Aprons

So at the moment I am preparing some stuff ready for a stall I'm sharing with a friend at the weekend. The event is a vintage/retro fair and the rest of the stall will be full of crockery, vintage clothes, old suitcases, 1940s sewing patterns...

I thought that I'd have a go at some retro-style aprons, the picture on the left shows one made out of an old dress with a groovy yellow 70s  floral print.  The dress was too full of holes to fix, but there was enough good fabric in the skirt for my purposes.

I was excited to learn that making gathers is really simple - I just set my sewing machine to the longest stitch length and sewed along the top edge of the fabric. Then you just pull the bottom thread (gently) to make the gather. I fiddled about with it a bit to make sure that it was even, then I sewed the apron skirt into the waistband.

I have a couple more aprons in my collection, including one in red/white polka dots, but I think this yellow one (with natty patch pocket) is my favourite!

And I know I should probably be spending my evenings glued to the sewing machine, but as it's getting darker I feel more of an urge to hibernate. Plus a self-imposed sweat shop regime kinda takes the fun out of making...

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Essential Sewing Kit

So I thought I'd have a stab at creating my Top 10 of essential kit... This is a list of things I think are essential, I'm sure you have your own version...

1. Notebook
So this should be a notebook where I sketch out ideas and plan things, and it is (a bit). But as I am a bit impatient and tend to just jump in and have a go, I tend to write things down after the event to remind myself how I did it. I do love notebooks in general though as I'm a secret stationery fetishist!

2. Sewing Machine
This is my trusty Riccar Reliant 55 - they don't make them like that any more (they really don't, the company no longer exists). It was second hand when I got it as a teenager, which is some time ago now... I've had it serviced recently by a local business who very handily come to the house, not as expensive as you'd think

3. Scissors
I had some John Lewis Vouchers a while ago and treated myself to some really good scissors. These are Fiskars dressmaking scissors and are good and sharp. They are the main reason that I have a (high) bolt on the study door to prevent little fingers getting hold of them.

4. Iron
Well who would have thought it, I've found a use for the iron! It's pretty ancient and the steam bit doesn't work - I use a plant sprayer to mist with water sometimes. It's really handy for pressing seams.

5. Pins
These are glass-headed pins. I've no idea whether that's a good thing or not but the colours please me. I do covet one of those cute little tomato pincushions but feel that I could probably make one (but of course haven't got round to it yet)

6. Magic pen
This is really nifty... You use it to mark up fabric and then simply spray water on the marks after cutting out and they disappear - woo! Before I got this pen I was using whatever manky biro I had to hand, not good.

7. Measuring tape

I have a couple of these because I'm always losing them. They are at least cheap...

8. Spare bobbins
I particularly like the word bobbin, I think it's a Mark Radcliffe hangover. It's also a useful swear-replacement word. When I got my sewing machine all those years ago it came with just one bobbin, took me a while to realise that you could buy more and so have a range of threads ready to go. Must get some more of these...

 9. Sewing Machine Needles
It is with similar embarrassment that I admit that it took me a while to realise that you had to change the needle on a sewing machine (blush). Ideally you should use a new needle for each new project, it really makes a difference to the quality of stitching.
10. Needle threader
I confess that I wanted to put seam ripper in at number 10, but couldn't find it, so instead it's this little chap. Very handy for the sausage-fingered among us!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Why I love the train...

This weekend I had a lovely time visiting an old friend in Oxford, but I did take a couple of things with me to finish off on the train. Major benefit of the train over the car in my opinion is that you can sew, knit, read etc. whilst rushing through the countryside (and of course drinking gin at the wheel of a car tends to be frowned upon too...). Tidying up loose ends is not one of my favourite things as I'm often anxious to get onto the next project, so using a bit of travelling time was ideal.

This photo also shows my natty stripy ironing board cover, courtesy of one Ms. Kidston. I wouldn't normally be so flash for household goods, but I had a birthday voucher burning a hole in my pocket. The same voucher also paid for some really nice cake tins, one of which will be playing host to the Christmas cake very soon (more on that story later!).

Plans for the week ahead focus on some serious making for the Retro Fair. As well as some lovely gathered aprons, I thought I could make some hairbands to match... watch this space! But for tonight probably just relaxing in front of the Great British Bake Off.

Friday, 16 September 2011

A making day

Today I have been making some more mini bags for a friend who saw them on my stall last weekend and would like to stock up on Christmas presents. I also made myself a hairband out of some scraps of the red fabric that lined my daughter's bag.

I'm also planning some things for the Retro Fair at the Trinity Centre on 2 October. I'm sharing a stall with my friend Ursula who has a great collection of vintage clothes and crockery. I'm planning on making some cute pinnies and maybe some pegbags in retro prints - think they would fit in well!

Today's photo shows a corner of my workroom, with my trusty old sewing machine and the dinky sewing box that my lovely brother gave me (thanks Luke!). I'm lucky enough to have the run of the spare room for my sewing activities at the moment as my children share a room, but I know that one day soon I will have to relinquish it... Maybe a shed in the garden is the answer?

Saturday, 10 September 2011

We love robots

Phew! Just a quick post to say what a great time I had at Redfest this afternoon. The weather was kind to us and the rain stayed away (although it did get a bit breezy at times). I borrowed a gazebo from a friend which we managed to construct with fairly minimal hassle.

I made this little felt robot as a mascot for the event - as robots were the theme of this year's festival.  He was supposed to be a friendly robot but I think he looks a little sinister... We were asked to donate a prize for the tombola so he was it. Hope he found a good home.

I sold a few bits and pieces, and chatted to some lovely people. We were pitched next to Sew Be It and Verity Bloom who had some amazing stuff on their stall.  Feel all enthused and have lots of ideas for my next stall.

Now off to put the children to bed so that I can relax in front of Dr Who (too scary for them!)

Friday, 9 September 2011

A quiet night in

Friday nights didn't used to be like this - there was a time when I went out to bars, restaurants, the cinema or maybe even the theatre... But for now, I'm knackered and just waiting for the howling chattering upstairs to subside, so that I can enjoy a large G&T, without having to break off in the middle to bellow 'back to bed!' up the stairs.

And also of course putting final finishing touches to the stall (the weather is not looking promising but I am ever optimistic). I will not have exactly this layout tomorrow as I am sharing a pitch, but thought I would try it out for future events. I have been looking for inspiration online and found some great advice and tips on the Folksy blog about this very subject.  The main things I have taken on board are using different levels, and spacing things out (you can always have a stash of spare stock under the table in case of a sudden rush).  I just have a little price labelling to do and then I can relax...

Thursday, 8 September 2011

All you need is love

I spent most of today in a storm of toddlers and glitter, a craft session at St George Community Centre that was part of RedFest. Many robots were made, as well as flowers on a stick (toddlers love any craft activity that involves a lolly stick!) and one very messy table where biscuits were daubed with lurid red icing before being liberally coated with sprinkles.

So it was a bit of a relief to get home and have a cuppa...  I'm looking forward to some serious sewing time tomorrow, but for now have been pondering display techniques. I read somewhere about using a bunch of sticks in a vase to show small hanging items, so I had a bit of a trawl through the park on the way home.  With a bit of judicious use of gaffer tape, I have managed to arrange the sticks (fairly) artfully and have hung lavender bags and some heart-shaped rose sachets.

I don't usually go in for hearts and flowers, but I think we could all do with a bit more love in the world at the moment!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Mini me

A productive weekend, have been working on some mini versions of my denim shopping bag.  Youngest child is shown here modelling the prototype (which explains the slightly shaky photo - she is never still!). I think they are super cute, and plan to make a few more ready for Saturday's stall.  I'm getting quicker and hopefully more accurate in my sewing - really trying to concentrate on finishing them neatly.

Today was of course Sunday, so a chance to eat some MEAT. We cooked roast lamb with rosemary from the garden, served with our own runner beans and carrots, together with new potatoes (from Mr Sainsbury).  Followed by apple crumble and ice-cream. My good friend Ursula joined us for lunch and in the afternoon we popped down to the organic food fair. We scored free entry as she is reviewing the event on her blog UrsulaWrites - worth a visit as she is much more prolific than me on a whole range of subjects, there are also some of her great short stories.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Back to school...

Apologies for the boasty post, but I've just got back from a mini-holiday with the children - visiting some friends in Switzerland. This morning I was standing looking out at vineyards! We had a wonderful couple of days with mountains, swimming, paddling in rivers and picnics galore. Now it's back into real life to get ready for school on Monday.

New school shoes were purchased last week along with new daps (what they call plimsolls round these parts).  There may be a bit of name-tape sewing to be done - not my favourite kind of stitching it has to be said! I also need to focus my mind on RedFest next weekend, where I am sharing a stall a couple of local crafty companions. So far I have only made one new bag, plus a bit of fiddling around with some new ideas. Time to get off the interweb and get my head down over the sewing machine...