Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Jewellery Holder Tutorial

I have been looking for a jewellery frame holder for a while, to hang my necklaces from, to stop them tangling up.  I found an example of one that was ok from Cox & Cox for £35.  I didn't really want to spend that on something that I wasn't that keen on aesthetically!

So an idea of how I could make one started to come together in my mind.  Yesterday I was out and about and saw a cheap corkboard, and I was off!


60cm x 40cm Corkboard £4.99 from Burts Homestores,
Staple Gun £4.99 from Robert Dyas
Hooks £3.00 from Robert Dyas
Wadding from stash
Fabric from stash

Cut the wadding a few inches larger on each side of the notice board and firmly staple in place.Pull tight, try not to stretch.

Then attach the fabric (get the right way up) and staple into place firmly all the way around.  Again pull tight, don't over stretch.  If I was doing it again I'd tuck the edges under before stapling.


Close up of staples - see how many I put in.

Front view

Hooks put in (they just screwed in)

Necklaces attached, tangle free, looking alluring!.

I hope you enjoyed my tutorial.  It was really quick to make, under an hour.  I am very happy with how it has turned out.  Please let me know if you do one too.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

2012 Thank You Totes

I have been making these totes as thank you presents for three years now for my children's class teachers.  This year I went with the following measurements:
 w: 49cm x h:22cm for the top rectangle.
w: cm x h: 30cm for the two outer bottom rectangles
w:13cm x h: 30cm for the bottom middle rectangle

Back was w:49cm x h:52cm
1.5cm seams throughout 

You can see the front on the picture below:

  I also made some inside pockets.  One was a flat one and the other was a stand out one, I used directions from Lisa Lam's "Bag Making Bible" book.  They were all fully lined.

I went with three colour ways (the teacher's favourite colours) and my children embroidered the hearts.

I hope you like them as much as the teacher's did.  I think these make a great present, and tend to be much appreciated by the receiver.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Beignet ..a long journey!

Many many years ago (three in fact), I bought my first ever Colette Patterns skirt pattern, the Beignet.  I had my new machine, it allegedly did buttonholes like a dream (best not to look too closely at them!), I bought my fabric and I was all set to make this snazzy little number!

The pattern, itself, is a dream to make.  It has brilliantly written instructions, which are very easy to follow.  Sarai has set a very high standard for other independent pattern makers (and the big companies too).

Of course, my sewing standards are not quite as high as they were needed, and somehow, my hemming was atrocious, with a wonky bottom.  So I unpicked it all and put it away!  For THREE years!!!  Oh dear, was it really that long?

Well I have decided in this financially tight time, to get out all my WIP/ UFO and to complete them.  So the Beignet is finally finished.  It is a red linen skirt, for the spring/ summer.  It is fully lined, so it's quite warm,  I will definitely wear it, and I am pleased with it overall!

I also have a few patterns and fabric brought for some projects that I have not made yet.  I will probably try and do those too!

UPDATE:  Sew Magazine are offering the Taffy Blouse from the Colette Patterns Handbook as a free download to print and make

Wednesday, 27 June 2012


As you can imagine something has to give when on top of a busy life I added in studying for a degree too!  I hate to say it but housework was shafted to a degree. Not the hoovering/ dusting/ mopping/ laundry that gets done every week, but those bigger less frequent jobs.

We moved into our flat 5 years ago and at the start everything was pretty organised and had a place, but as time goes on we have acquired more stuff, the children have aquired a lot more toys and things haven't been kept up as they should have done.

We have 2 big cupboards in our hallway, one is the "bike cupboard".  It has my husband's bike, spares, tools etc in there.  He is a one man workshop!  The other we have organised by using medium and large plastic boxes with lids from Matalan and Asda.  They are all stacked on top of each other. Or on the shelves in the cupbroard.  Each box is for a different thing eg gardening/ light bulbs/ paint & painting tools/ xmas decs and so on.  Plus our drill/ tool kit etc.  We don't have a garden shed or a loft/ attic/ basement to store any of this stuff in so we have to find a space in the flat.  The hoover is also in there!  We have put some hooks on the back wall to hang bags with our welly boots and walking boots in.  Plus an over the door hook for more bags of wellies and the Ocado shopping bags for online food shopping. 

The kitchen is another story, and hasn't had the same attention to detail of late.  I shuld have taken a before photo but I was just too ashamed!  I only have 3 drawers in my kitech (screams NOT ENOUGH!).  The top one is for our cutlery and a few other bits and bobs.  The bottom two are pretty deep so all kinds of stuff has been dumped in them.  Sometimes because there is nowhere else for the item or out of laziness.

On the weekend I finally tackled these two drawers and a big awkward corner cupboard.  I got rid of old, no longer fit for purpose kitchen linens.  Moved items to their rightful homes around the flat. In doing this relatively quick job I've made a ton of space!  The bottom drawer has the kitchen towels and teatowels folded nicely and ready to use.  Plus I utilised an old icecream tub for the bits and bobs that I DO WANT in the drawer.  It's not perfect, and I'll see if I can find something a bit bigger for the job.

The middle drawer has utensils in it now, I'll probably get some kind of divided container for them to stop them moving around so much.  What frustrates me is how much DEAD space is above this drawer.  I would really like some removable tray to sit on top that I could store some things in.  If anyone knows of such a thing please point me in the right direction.

It's small steps and I still have to do our larder cupboard which is full of CRAP!  The door is organised as husband fitted a load of handy hooks on it for the broom, dustpan and brush etc But inside it's just not working.  See?  NOT PRETTY!  The wheely rack (which used to be our veg rack in a previous home is just wasting space) and I have too many plastic bags that are not really needed.  This is my next task, along with the upper corner cupboard which is a disgrace too!!

Having had an inspirational look on Pinterest I came across this brilliant blog The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking and a series called 31 Days to an organised house.  I love this series, loads of great, cheap ideas to sort your home out with.

I will be tidying, sorting, binning, recycling as necessary and I haven't even mentioned by bedroom wardrobes!!!!  That's a whole other post!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

It boils down to this

Tomorrow I have a lovely 3 hour exam to cover this little lot on the table, I'm not feeling that confident.

The above is to blame for my time away from here.  It's all for an OU course.  I have 2 more years after this, as long as I pass.

Wish me luck, and I'll see you on the other side!  xox

Monday, 11 June 2012

small raccoon anyone?

Yesterday we went for a walk in the countryside and suddenly a small furry mammal appeared right by our feet.  Here's our video of it.  My eldest son is aiming to become the next Steve Backshall, he has a long way to go as he called the shrew a small raccoon (no they don't live in Britain!)

We had fun and then on our way home a ferret/ stoat/ weasel ran across the road in front of us, unfortunately the camera was not on at that point!

It all made the trip that bit more exciting!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

free craftsy classes

If you haven't been tempted to dip into Craftsy yet (which I thoroughly recommend that you do) then there are a few free taster classes to wet your appetite.

The first is a Sewing Machine 911 - which as it says on the tin is about maintaining your machine

The second for quilters is the Craftsy's Block of the Month.

I have signed up to both of Gertie's courses (more for techniques to apply to projects that I want to make and to the Susan Khalje class, the Couture Dress.

Have you tried any of their classes?  What do you think of them?

If you are after some other free tutorials, then there are some great sewalongs for different clothes patterns on the web.  Also check out Tilly's tutorial for her button down picnic blanket skirt that she made in gingham.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

talking it over

I turned on BBC Radio 4 and started half listening when I realised I recognised the story.  It's a dramatisation of Julian Barne's book talking it over which I would highly recommend.  Catch it on i-player for a week or buy/ borrow the book and its sequel, Love Etc.

Friday, 8 June 2012

independent pattern companies

Firstly an apology.  I've taken a lot on in the last 9 months, hence the lack of posting.  Pretty soon I'll have a bit more time to do some things and with that in mind, the following, new (to me), pattern companies have caught my eye.

In no particular order here are my views:

Sewaholic is a Canadian company run by Tasia.  She only has a few patterns so far, but they are already getting great reviews on blogsville.  I have nearly finished the Cambie dress, and can heartily recommend the pattern. Photos coming in a week or two!

Image of 1202 Cambie Dress

Colette Patterns, have been around for 2-3 years (I've mentioned them before)  Again well written patterns, great blog with tips and tutorials. Also Sarai has written a book, which I have and would recommend.

Salme Sewing Patterns is a company that I discovered via Craftsy that looks really appealing.  It's a British company with lots of contemporary simple tops, dresses and skirts.  I love this pleated T-shirt, I'm pretty sure I'll be making it soon, maybe in a navy chiffon fabric.  These patterns are downloadable, so a bit more faff, but cheaper and quicker to get.

  Image of  PDF Printable Sewing Pattern - T-shirt with pleats

Grainline Studios is small with just 3 patterns, but I'm sure more will be coming soon.  I've downloaded the Scout Woven Tee (below)  for $4.50 which looks like a wardrobe staple pattern.  Good reviews around the web as well about it.
Image of Scout Woven Tee

Pattern Runway has an informative blog and is selling downloadable patterns via Etsy, here are a selection:  I like the style here, again a contemporary look and good feedback.

Easy Short Sleeved Dress Pattern - Elastic Waist,  Short Kimono SleeveGorgeous Pussy Bow Blouse PDF Pattern that you can make at homeGathered Sundress PatternWomen's Draped Skirt Pattern

Here are a few other sites that I still need to look at:

Victory Patterns

Megan Nielson - who also has maternity sewing patterns.

And a recent blog post by Gertie on fitting dress patterns helped me choose more wisely what size Cambie Dress Pattern to cut out.  I suggest you take a look!  It's about looking at the finished garment size rather than the measurement table e.g. if you are 34 bust, 28 waist, 36 hip you need an x which usually leads to a wrong size dress.  I've certainly found that, ending up with huge waistbands on skirts etc.

Happy looking and hopefully I'll have a few projects sewn up soon!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Wedding Guest Outfit

I have a wedding to go to this summer, and I'm just playing around with Polyvore to create a fantasy outfit!
Wedding Guest Outfit

Friday, 24 February 2012


I must apologise to all my readers for not updating my blog for a while. I have taken some extra studying (on top of working/ children etc) and my free time is spent reading and writing essays. This is going to go on for the next 3-4 years, so apart from the summer holidays I won't have much free time.

I do sometimes leave the house to go and experience some culture. Lately I seem to be doing this more and more. Last night I went and watched John Osborne perform his very funny show, John Peel's Shed. John talks about his life through his experience of listening to the radio and his love of music. He has a really nice easy going delivery, and he's not afraid of sweetly humiliating himself to provide the many laughs that we had. If you can catch him it's a great night out.

Buy Radio Head here

He has also written this book, that the tour is based on.

On Valentine's day we went into London and watched One Man Two Guvnors. This is a very funny farce, with a bit of audience participation to boot. It was a really enjoyable night. As we came straight from work we needed a quick and cheap bite to eat beforehand. so we tried Leon on The Strand and were really impressed by what was on their menu. A really nice quick and nutritious dinner.

Oh and if you want to snaffle yourself a free Lisette/ Simplicity pattern, then buy the current issue of Sew magazine which has the Traveller dress as its giveaway this month.

traveler dresses sewing pattern

Even if I'm not sewing, I'm still thinking about it! And if you love Liberty then check out these shoes with Clarks. There's a whole range of Liberty print shoes.
Finally if you haven't tried it, I thoroughly recommend Pinterest (my page is here) Go on, take a peek.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

proudly presenting...

Haunt for the Xbox Kinect, made by my husband & his colleagues.

It's a fun, family friendly haunted house game (definitely not scary) suitable for age 7+.

You use your whole body and you arm acts as a torch/ flashlight to illuminate the house as you walk around it.

Click on above picture to see full image.

You duck out of the ghosts way, and can then strike it or dazzle it with the torch to get rid of it!

Image from Haunt

Really please that Microsoft has put it on their market place, do check it out, really is a fun game!

Very proud of husband and Zoe Mode.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

new(ish) beginnings

I'm hoping everyone has had a good start to the new year. Our Christmas and New Year celebrations were brilliant, we spend Christmas with family and had friends over for New Year's celebrations.

I did a lot of cooking and baking (as we had good friends stay over 4/5 days) and I used my new Veg Everyday book with great success. Definitely a new favourite! For dessert for NYE I made a pavlova topped with cream and passion fruit from my Nigella Lawson's "How to Eat" book. It always gets a big thumbs up from people who eat it. Another thing that worked well were the mince pies I made using Rachel Allen's recipe (just 1 jar left to use up this month!). Note to self, halve recipe as I don't need 5/6 jars of mincemeat! I made another huge batch of them this week and both my husband and I took them into our respective workplaces, and they were eaten pretty quickly!

Yesterday to help usher in spring I bought 2 pots of narcissi bulbs and some tulips from our lovely local florist, Miss Mole's Flower Emporium. I thought they all looked gorgeous lit up last night in these two gorgeous tea light holders that my sister bought for me.

My new(ish) beginning is that I started an Open University degree course in English Literature back in October. It's hard work, and a lot of reading and essay writing. This is my way of an apology for few and far between blog posts since the autumn.

If you want to see some more of me(!) on the web, I've recently opened a pinterest page as a one stop shop to link to all ideas/ recipes/ likes/ inspiration to ideas on the web. It's a great free resource.

Take care for now. xox