Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Fly on the Wall

This is a catch-up post as its a month since I last blogged and I thought I'd write a bit about what I've been buying, getting up to and the like.

First off, I treated myself to a whopper of a sign for the kitchen to celebrate my first year of being self-employed. 

We've had an empty wall above the kitchen worktop and for the past couple of years I've set my sights on finding an appropriate enamel sign, but within budget - some of those advertising signs can go for hundreds of pounds!

A few weeks ago we visited a reclamation yard as Husband wanted to source some iron guttering down-pipes for the summerhouse project (that's another future blog post!). This sign caught my eye immediately and though not enamel, I thought it was a great sign-writing example and loved how worn it was. It was a perfect fit for the empty wall space too. After a bit of friendly haggling it was mine and it cost far less than a vintage enamel sign of the equivalent size.

I thought it looked as if it dated from the 1950s and a bit of online research confirmed this, as Campden Dairies Ltd. was established in 1954, but is no longer trading. 

An earlier online buy was a far smaller enamel sign, but one that I thought was quite apt as a Morris Minor owner...

...but things are not as they seem - its actually an advertisement for DeReszke 'Minor' cigarettes! This one has joined the rest of the collection on the back wall.

Work's been keeping me occupied too. I've been out and about in some lovely locations...

...and had some grunty though gorgeous company whilst surveying for bats (pig poo + flies = happy bat feeding):

I love pigs.

Last week I started on this year's first batch of jam - blackberry with berries picked from the orchard. Once the apples are ready I plan to make some chutney as I've only one one jar left from last year.

We've been out and about too and visited the South Cerney Steam Rally with fellow conspirator in knitting and heavy metal: Gilly B and her kids. One of the things I love about the rally is the rides, especially the dodgems. Monkeychild thoroughly enjoyed being 'driven' by Gilly's son H and crashing (on purpose!) into the other kids' dodgem cars.

One event that Monkeychild didn't accompany us to was to see The Damned at Gloucester Guildhall. Husband and I had a brilliant time and the band were on top form both musically and with the banter. I just love those gigs where you can laugh with the band and dance to some bloody amazing tunes.

I'll finish with a classic that gave the Guildhall's floor a good pounding:

Monday, 8 August 2016

Sew Easy: New Look 6389

I recently asked Monkeychild to pick out a sewing pattern for a summer outfit. My only conditions was that it had to be age appropriate and easy to sew. Luckily she choose a playsuit with an elasticated waist from the New Look 6389 pattern.

I was pleased that she choose this as its a versatile pattern, which looks appropriate for a tween and not too grown up. Its also a practical cover-up and easy to change into after swimming, which is what Monkeychild had in mind.

For the fabric, we visited Fabric Land in Bristol as it stocks a wide range of fabrics at really great prices; its one of my favourite shops. Monkeychild chose an Aztec print jersey at £3.99 a metre and I only had to buy a metre and half, so I was happy with that.

As the pattern pieces for View D are for ages 8 to 16, I didn't want to cut them up too much as I'll probably re-use them as Monkeychild grows. Instead, I folded the pattern pieces to follow the cutting line for age 10, leaving it intact for the larger sizes. I only had to make a few strategic cuts here and there, but these can be easily taped up later. 

I'd never sewn with jersey before, so was a bit hesitant about its stretch and how it would sew up. Luckily Husband had just treated me to a new Janome sewing machine and I first put it to good use by using its knit stitch to finish the edge of the cut out pieces before seaming. 

I pattern matched the front okay, but matching the back pieces was a bit iffy, which I put down to me pulling at the fabric too much when sewing up.

The pattern was really straightforward and was just what I needed to cleanse my sewing palate after the #VintagePledge 'Disaster Dress'

The outfit had its first outing on Charnmouth beach on our recent holiday in Dorset and it stood up to its rigorous sand and seawater test!

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

The Disaster Dress! #VintagePledge2016

I was excited when Kerry from Kestrel Makes asked me to take part in this year's #VintagePledge by doing a guest post on her blog about one of the vintage projects that I chose to make.

I knew instantly which pattern I was going to sew as it had been lingering in my collection for a while and always caught my eye. Its a McCall's pattern from 1978 so fitted the vintage brief perfectly. I decided to go for View A as its a maxi dress (natch!), has a v-neck which looks good on me and I was attracted by the bodice detail.

All I needed now was the fabric and I was lucky to find some lightweight polyester in Preston's branch of Abakhan for about £2.00 a metre in their sale. That was a great find as I liked the novelty-style print of prancing horses, cowboys and cacti (the colours are 'me' too) and I needed 4.5 metres of the stuff! 

The cutting out stage was tedious especially the skirt sections as they were very long (I know its a maxi - but there''s long and long!). When it came to sewing up the pieces, the seams started to pucker even though I used a fine needle and had the machine's tension settings right.

After  lot of swearing, the dress started to come together and my next hurdle was the zip. Now, zips and I aren't the best of buddies. I can happily manage small ones, but I had an unwieldy 55cm zip to fit this time. I basted and machined it, yet to my critical eye it didn't sit well. Cue more swearing...

I decided to hand-sew the hem as I prefer the finish to a machined one and this was probably the best bit as I sat outside in the sun and happily stitched for an hour.

I'd been trying on and adjusting the dress as I went along and was hoping that it would look great once finished. But after trying on the completed dress I decided that it wasn't one of my best sewing projects and felt 'meh' when I looked in the mirror.

The skirt is too full and the gathers at the waist aren't the most flattering, but I do like the neck and sleeves, and the length is just right.

I wrote my piece for Kerry soon after I had finished it and was feeling gloomy post-sewing; I even thought I'd consign it to our local fabric recycling centre, but I've worn it at home and its not as bad as I first thought. I don't think that I'll wear it out, but will float about the garden with it on!

This hasn't put me off sewing as we all have our 'urgh' projects now and then, and I think its good to share this 'disaster dress' with other people who might be in the same sewing error boat as me so to speak.

You can read about it more on Kerry's blog here: Liza's Vintage Pledge Project: The Disaster Dress

P.S. My next sewing project was more successful. Its a modern pattern so doesn't qualify as part of #VintagePledge, but I'll post about it soon.

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