Friday, 30 May 2008

Marie Claire Idees - what a fantastic magazine

I feel like I've discovered the Holy Grail of crafting, way after everybody else.

I was in a bookshop a week or so ago, and saw this.

Now, believe it or not, this was a total revelation to me. I flicked through and just couldn't believe the inspiration I was seeing. It's an incredible magazine, as the whole world aside from me (I now realize) appears to know. I ummed and ahhed, as it was £4.50. Eeeeek. But I'm so glad I decided to go for it.

Just peek inside (for the one other person who also doesn't know this magazine exists).

I rushed into work, where helpfully I sit next to a lovely French girl.
"I found this really amazing French magazine on the way in. Look!"
"Ah, yes, it is incredible. They have such lovely ideas. It's hard to get here - is that the new edition. It's a shame it only comes out every 3 months."
"I just never knew this magazine existed. I can't stop looking at the pictures."
"Yes, me and my mother always spent hours pouring over it. All the ideas are explained at the back, with templates and whatever else you need. They have this show in Paris every year..."

Well, I wanna go to the show!

I can't believe I haven't picked up on this, but I am very new to blogging. Of course, now I look, extracts are all over the place, and their inspiration. But I hadn't seen it before. So that's what I am so excited about at the moment. Please tell me I am not alone in my ignorance! Somebody else must not have known about this magazine. Please!?

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Make a driftwood boat tutorial

This is the driftwood boat I made for the ShabbyChic forum swap - my first swap - and I wanted to post a tuturial as it was such a fun boat to do. I've had it in my mind to try for simply ages, so I'm pleased I was inspired to give it a go. I owe the inspiration to a coffee morning at a friends some ten years ago, when her artist husband had made simpler versions with just the wood and not additions such as sails as baby mobiles. I've long lost touch, but thank you for the inspiration.

So first, you need to have collected a bunch of driftwood. I've always collected driftwood, and keep a jug of it on my dresser as it looks so precious just sitting there. I soak it in clean water when I first get it home to get rid of the salt, and then dry it out again. Here's some of my driftwood:

Next, play around with shapes. You need two peices to make a simple boat.

You join the two with a small nail and some fabric glue. The nail pushes in easily and the glue helps hold the two together. Once you've joined the wood, you can cut a piece of paper as a pattern for the sail. Lay the wood boat onto a piece of A4, and pencil in a shape that works. Then cut around the shape, and check it in position. A brass eye is added to the top, front and back of the boat to attach the fabric to - you can do this now if it helps position your fabric.

Use the pencil pattern to cut a piece of fabric - double over the fabric as shown by the two pics that follow - so cut with one folded edge, preferably the outer edge:

Fold and pin the fabric sail, then stictch around the edge, about 5 mm or so in from the edge. Leave a channel at the fold so you can feed picture wire through to attach the sail to the eyes. In the picture below, the right hand sail is done, the left hand is ready to be stitched and have the wire threaded through.

Once the two sails are in place, sew a loop of thread to attach the bottom centre sail to the mast.

Finally add a little piece of picture wire to the top as a hook. I also added two button fish, trailing from the back and used Bostick to glue on three buttons as portholes. It's a very relaxing thing to make, and it's fun hanging on the wall. Enjoy! And please do let me know/send a link if you make one. I'd love to see it.

Chic shoppers (or wally trollies!)

Ok, I've been foxed tonight, as I cannot seem to upload pics from my camera of my freecycle find, as promised. So instead, I found this, which tells you why I am so excited:

Clicking on it should enlarge it. Mine, Ethel, is much better than any of these. She's a gorgeous tartan check (she may be Ethel MacArthur!) and I will post a pic as soon as I possibly can, because she's already my best friend and one very classy act. I took her to Legoland today and she was fab. I didn't have to carry a thing - she did it all for me.
However, my littleuns were a little embarrassed and made me feel I should succumb to the wally trolley quite yet. What to do!? (It may not have helped that I was openly asking them to pull Ethel along for little bits! No shame, me.)
She only let me down once, when she keeled over on a particularly tricky hill. "Hang on kids, Ethel's just died" didn't help my kudos (or Ethel's) with the kids either. But otherwise, it was great. But I couldn't meet my 11 yr old's challenge of finding another wally trolley (or Ethel friend as I preferred to call it) in the whole of Legoland. What's wrong with folks. I think everyone should have one. She was vicious in running over people's feet when they tried to butt in front in the queues. What a star!
Right, I have to get on with tomorrow's job of posting a tutorial for the shabby chic swap I did, as it was such fun to make.
I'll set it up tonight - check back tomorrow to see just what it is and how to make it. There, I've promised now. Gotta stick to it.
Night all. x

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

A surprise find and swaps

I have an exciting new freecycle find!
I'll update more about it tonight - I'm testing it today. It's my first real age-challenged acquisition and I'm thrilled, but my kiddies are less sure ;-). Any guesses?

Also, I've sent my swap for Miss_Phish on the Shabby Chic forum. Here's a clue...(just in case she looks!). This was a prototype for an idea I've been wanting to try for a long time, and I'm really pleased. I hope she is. I plan to post a tutorial this week.
But for now, here's the package:

Monday, 26 May 2008

Decorating: The Laura Ashley wallpaper hunt

First thing this morning, when we realised it was raining too much to go out, I asked

So, who'll help me get the little bathroom ready, and who wants to do some papering?

3 littleuns: Yep, we'll help (bless: they are still at THE age when you can make them think it's going to be really exciting whatever you do!)

Right, we'll have to mix up some wallpaper paste, then get the papering table up, then cut the lining paper...

3 littleuns: Silence.

Okay, let's get going.

7 hours later, who's doing it on their lonesome!!! They did help put the table up, but interest quickly waned!

Still I've got a coat of Dimity on the woodwork, and two of the walls are lined.

I'm planning to use a Laura Ashley paper I picked up in their £1.50 bin last week: Magnolia, in Duck Egg. I'm hoping another one or two will turn up in another bin, as I can't justify the £25 it'll cost to get a roll. So I'll be hunting out Laura Ashleys!

Here's my one roll!

Isn't it lush! I am drooling over it.

It's currently out of stock anyway. But I figure if I begin with one wall, another roll may turn up in another bin!

Also, I bought some lovely barkcloth off cooltrikerchick on ebay. She is so wonderful, and she sells some terrific stuff (I'll save the other thing I bought for another post!). Anyway, it is now termporarily replacing the tatty dirty net sort of curtains we had, and adds a great splash of colour. That's until I decide what to do with it. But I can at least enjoy the fabric!


And after:

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Sewing box transformation

Do you remember this, found at a car boot sale for just £1?

Well, lookee at it now!

And a peek inside...From this:

To this...

Isn't it wonderful what you can do with a pound! And a fabric stash :-)

Now, a message for Angel: just to prove I didn't delete/lose/cut your comment, here it is:
Coooooeeeeeeeeeee, Lackie bottom, its MEEEEEEEEEEE, I dont know about you but I usually eat my apples!!
I love that stool thingy watchamacallit, You didnt really do it did you, nah, you had a proffessional do it for you didnt
Have a great weekend, Im off to a wedding tomorrow, so see you Monday. Love and hugs XXXXXXXXXXXX

I don't know what happened Angelpops - it just disappeared off into the ether, but I cut and pasted it from my email notification. See, I do lub ya! Thanks for the comment. And yes, I bliddy well did do it! Nah! xxx

Friday, 23 May 2008

Diamente couture and apple magic

I thought I'd post one of my loveliest ebay finds.
It's a diamente couture top, made for a fashion shoot in Canada some 50 years ago, and kept in the model's wardrobe ever since. I bought it for very little, initially planning to take it apart for the buttons and beads (as if!), and I now can't imagine letting it go, let alone the horrific thought of pulling it apart (I was told the history only after I bought it and realized it was rather special and asked. They hadn't mentioned it in the listing.). It's all hand stitched, and has literally hundreds of beads and diamente buttons. I can't wear it, but it makes me happy just to look at it. It also weighs a ton!

And in complete contrast, another piccie that makes me smile - taken last October at Wisley - is this one of a lion made out of...

Apples!!! Go on, now you know what to do with your apples this autumn!

Phew. I've done my post for today!

Thursday, 22 May 2008

I've been tagged! Lavender hearts. I quite like this: it'll be fun to work through the questions.

The rules: I have to answer 6 questions about myself. At the end of the post, I then tag 6 people and post their names, then go to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they have been tagged and asking them to read my blog for the rules. Then, I must let the person who tagged me know when I've posted my answers.

1. What was I doing 10 years ago?

I had an adorable toddler, and can't quite believe that she's now 11. And I had an adorable 5 week old baby, who is now 10. How time flies! We were looking forward to a June holiday on the Helston river in Cornwall with their grandparents (my lovely mum and dad).

2. 5 things on my to do list today?

- Tidy the house (already failing on that one)
- Work out how to do a decoupage plate project I've seen that uses interfacing under fabric (no idea, so still failing on that one)
- Collect 2 children, go back 40 mins later to collect 3rd after rehearsal she has, go and to deliver one to Beavers, go and take one to Brownies, go and collect first from Beavers, go and take 3rd to guides, go and collect 2nd from Brownies. Go and collect 3rd from Guides. Phew.
- Collect mum and bundle of old frames and deliver them to antique shop. Remember to leave frames and bring mum back.
- Have a huge glass of wine and try and make a tote.

3. Snacks I enjoy?
Crunchie bars, yum, nuff said.
And cupcakes of course.
And millionaire's shortbread.
Olives with anchovy stuffing.

4. Things I would do if I were a millionaire?

- Get some ducks

- Get some chickens

- Buy lots and lots more fabric, especially any Jane Churchill. And probably a bit of Cath Kidston. And some Michael Miller. And Designer's Guild. And Laura Ashley. And I don't know I'd be able to contain myself...

- Take friends away on a holiday
- Give some to a good cause
- Give some to family - send mum to Paris (and a return ticket of course!) where she's always longed to go

- Take a career break to do a textile course
- Buy a bit more fabric
- Consult an interior designer for advice!

5. Places I lived?

I was born in cough-cough. We moved to Richmond when I was ten and stayed. I went to UEA, so lived in Norwich for 3 years, then moved back with my folks for a year or so, then lived in Bath for a bit. Then to Portishead, then Bristol, um, then Wimbledon, then Epsom.

Now I have to tag 6 other people. I hope you haven't been tagged before...

Trixie's trinkets
Raspberry grace
Shabby angel
The Giantess

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Wholemeal bread success?! :-)

I may be speaking too soon, but look what I've just done:

Now, I've fought a long experimental battle to cook a wholemeal loaf my kiddies will eat. And this is the first time it's been soft (a particular combination of wholemeal and strong white flour). It's also the first time I've used no salt and no sugar. So far so good.
And so into the oven they go...

I'll update once they are out! Yum. Fingers crossed on this one.

Yummy, yummy, yummy is the verdict! Look!

I wish I could share it with all of you. Eldest wants salt in the next one (I usually do salt bread, but didn't this time), but aside from that gives it the thumbs up mark.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Car boot finds

We had a car boot yesterday, to get rid of a few boxes of stuff. Unfortunately I went wandering, and look what I found:

A sewing box. I'm inspired to work on this because of what the wonderful Vintage Pleasure did with hers. It had bits and pieces inside as well (including lots of colour headed pins in the lid!).

And also:

...which also has bits and pieces inside, including some buttons for my collection!
I can't wait to get started.
I also came home with some gorgeous Jane Churchill fabric, enough to make blinds for my bedroom windows. I'll try and post pics of it a bit later. So all in all a good morning.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

The kindness of strangers... and fabric!

I've been the lucky recipient of three acts of kindness from complete strangers this week, and I mean generous acts of kindness. I don't know what I've done to deserve it as I've had a bit of a poor week in many ways and I've been so touchy I feel I'm walking around with a big black cloud above my head.
One of those strangers I met today at a car boot of all places. We decided late last night to do one this morning, as we'd collected an obscene amount of stuff. It went well and we got some much needed funds in rather than out. But the best thing of all: I met such a wonderful person there. She was selling off some absolutely divine (no other word for it) fabrics... for peanuts. She's a professional curtain/blind maker, and once a year has to have a major clear out, and fortunately I bumped into her on that once. How lovely is that: especially as we rarely have car boot sales.
Anyway, having snapped up some of her fabrics - can a girl have too much fabric?! - we got chatting and I was telling her about my blind and how funny she'd find it. Then she offered to come and talk me through my next blind (I bought some Jane Churchill fabric from her for my bedroom windows for a sum so embarrassingly small, I'm not going to admit to it). She started like me 25 years ago, when her children were young, and got hooked. I can see this happening (though not me running a successful fabric business, just the getting hooked part!). She also very generously gave my daughter some stunning fabric hearing that she loves to play with fabric.
So I'm feeling as though I've had a rather special guardian angel on my shoulder this week. My turn to pass it on and help people next week, I think.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Night time visitors: hedgehogs!

Great excitement tonight: hedgehogs, the first time we've spotted them in our area. And two healthy ones, with no signs of disease or ticks, which are so rampant on hogs. We got the children up, and they were thrilled as they'd never seen hedgehogs before. They were all very quiet, to try not to scare them, but wanted pictures, so we risked two. Half an hour later when I checked, they were snuffling contentedly, so I think we managed to make them feel welcome.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Re: Patchwork wall

I have so many things I want to blog about: I can see a post a day will be an easy challenge at the moment. But I think it's time I blogged about my patchwork wall. This is something I am incredibly proud of, as it kind of set me off on my current love of patching together and making do. I was inspired by the wonderful Vintage Pleasure and her patchwork wall here.
She was inspired by a book - I can't remember the title, but will try and find it as I wanted to buy it but ended up with the wrong one.

I'd had a few wallpaper samples as we are trying to decide on wallpaper for my eldest daughter's bedroom, but my middle daughter loved the patchwork effect. I was lucky enough to walk into Laura Ashley when they were selling off some rolls for a £1, so I also snapped three up. Then I set to cutting out, using a picture frame to square off as I haven't got a set square. I cut to random sizes and then popped them on the wall in small areas with blu tac to see the effect, before pasting them on (with wallpaper paste).

The whole thing took about 3 hours, and was ready for my daughter's return from Brownie Camp. She was thrilled. Elder daughter now wants a similar effect! I also thought I'd use the technique on the inside of our understairs cupboard, but that's a little way in the future.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Those little projects

I thought I'd post about the little things I'm working on at the moment: sometimes, they are easier as they are small and relatively quick (though I don't seem able to do anything particularly quickly). But small is very satisfying.

So first, I picked this up at a car boot for a pound, inspired by the desire to find something to house my daughter's rock and mineral collection.

A couple of coats of paint later and she's thrilled with it. I'll have to post a pic once we've put it on the wall and she's put her (3!) rocks in it.

And then one I am currently working on... a tray table, which I picked up for £2.50. Here it is before:

And during:

I'll post an after picture soon, I promise, but I'm not as quick as some! (I'm working on it.)

I've also been painting a small skirting board in the kitchen in the F&B Dimity, as I'm considering using it all over the woodwork - bit fed up of white. It's looking yummy. So that's my day so far: not sure I've achieved much!

Monday, 5 May 2008

My new kitchen dresser moves in

Look at my heart-shaped pebbles! Peek behind them! What's that?! It's my dresser! At long, long last, I have one.

I am so thrilled this latest arrival: a dresser I found on ebay. I'd intended to repaint this in a Laura Ashley cream, but the colour is fabulous and though it's not a colour I'd have chosen, it's really lifted my kitchen. I've been lusting after a dresser for ages, but needed a small one, and they are incredibly hard to come by it seems to me. The person I bought it off agreed - she'd had so much trouble this dresser was especially commissioned.

So here are pictures undressed:

and dressed:

After having it made, she'd used a paint effect/wash to show off the wood grain. It works perfectly.
So, for the first time ever, I'm able to display my special bits and pieces. Somehow my kitchen seems more homely. And I can put out my collection of heart shaped beach pebbles!

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Re: Cabinet makeover. Year One!

Okay, I am hoping to do this fairly quickly.
This is my cabinet, found recently, and in a bit of a tatty state. I'll post pics of progress as I go thru the day.

11.00 am So first I've taken the doors off...

12.45 pm
And now it's sanded and ready for cleaning up with a damp cloth prior to undercoat going on...

2.30 pm The primer/undercoat (all-in-one) is now on. Reminder to self: avoid ball and claw feet in future and avoid furniture with fancy trims!

5 pm: Trish: THANK YOU, you are really helping with your comments. And all you others who have commented on the Shabby chic forum.
So I've managed to get the first coat on, bar the doors, which are fiddly, so I'm ignoring for now! I chose a Laura Ashley: Linen, and delicious it is too.
Here's how it's looking now:

9.50 pm Okay, well it's now got a 2nd coat on, and I'm about to screw the top piece back on. I am incredibly pleased with how much I've achieved. Thanks so much for the encouragement. I now need to find a suitable fabric... watch this space.
But I think I have to call it a night for now. Sleep well all.

Well, two days later, and I'm trying to decide what to do about the fabric. I've got a metre of this CK, and will need at least another metre and a half. So expensive. Or a cheap green gingham, may look just as good. So I'm not sure what to do.
Any advice appreciated!