Friday, 19 July 2013

My yard

I quite like my little yard.  And it really is little.

No idea of the actual size, but its the length of the back door, plus the bin shed ( so about 7ft) and the width of the kitchen plus the back living room, minus the larder, so maybe about 12 ft.

I'm also limited in what I can do in it due to a whopping great manhole in the middle of it and the fact that the house faces sort of South West.  Sun arrives in the yard round about 8am and disappears behind the houses mid afternoon.  It does mean its lovely in the evening, but in the current weather, afternoons are unbearable, well at least for me.

I've grown things over the years, but recently, with working away a lot, haven't had the time, or to be honest the inclination.  But my recent enforced rest persuaded me to look at it again.
So here's the assortment of pots that are on breeze blocks covering the drainpipe and some really dodgy mortar work! Taken with camera on phone, so not the best photo, but you get the idea.
Somewhere in there are potatoes, foxgloves, lavender but this year finally, my jasmine has flowered!

I'm glad I took this photo when I did, as 2 hours later this lovely flower had fallen off.

I've also got some seeds, but apart from the purple broccoli, I've no idea what they are!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

I finished it!

The top is finally done.

Some decisions were made - I decided to stitch by hand.  Two reasons for this, I was watching the tennis, and so it was easier to have it on my lap while the telly was on, and crucially, threading the needle on the machine was beyond me!

My trusty singer isn't much use for dress making, the foot is far too heavy. I've been after a new machine for a while, but resisting the temptation to buy a 'mini' machine, waiting for a decent Toyota to come up on eBay.  I've got a little 'mini' sewing machine which my Mum bought me many, many years ago, and I've only really used it for small craft projects as its basically a toy.

So I tried to use it.  Its small enough to put on the table in front of me, so I took it out of the box. Now it hasn't been used for years, definitely since before Mum passed away, nearly two years ago. It still had thread  in it, bright green!  So first job, thread the needle.  Nope.  Tried using a needle threader, but due to the tiny size of everything, my sausage fingers wouldn't do it.  Took the needle out of the machine and clamped my magnifying glass to the table, still too much like hard work.  I gave up and threaded a normal bog standard needle with basic black thread and off I went.

Here it is!

I'm sure I could have done it better, but its the first bit of dressmaking I've done for ages, so not too bad.

Next, I'll use some new material, and make a top using the same pattern.
I've got 2 lots of material
Some lovely crepe, which feels really soft and would make a
nice top ( the photo was from the website of Abakhan which is where I get my material)

I've also got some heavier material, originally bought for cushion covers for the bedroom, but light enough (in weight) for a skirt maybe (?)

Decisions, decisions

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Make do and mend

Many, many years ago, I used to make lots of my own clothes.  Partly from necessity, I'd just bought my first flat, it was the early 80's and interest rates were rocketing and I had no money; partly because I could never find anything that I liked and that fitted me properly.  This second is due to being what is politely called 'top heavy'!

Even when my son was small, I made him dungarees from old pairs of jeans, and little tee shirts for the summer, but somehow, along the line, I got out of the habit.  It didn't help that Mum lent my sewing machine to a friend of hers and it never ever came back, so I was left with my trusty Singer.

Now I love my Singer, but its not exactly user friendly. I've wittered about it here  Sewing machine  But the overriding problem with it is getting spare parts, they are rare, and very expensive.  Only a few specialist places do them, mainly places that take in and strip down old machines for parts. So I'm wary of using it in case it finally gives up; added to that the fact that it really only sews in straight lines, its too heavy and difficult to manoeuvre for things like dressmaking.  Its absolutely brilliant for curtains and cushion covers! 

My brother got married in June, and my plan was to make myself something to wear.  Those plans were changed, as I spent most of June in hospital, but it sort of left me with the idea of making something.

Having a bit of a wardrobe sort out, I came across this dress. Now its not an amazing dress, but I like the material, but hate the neckline. Its hard to see from this photo, but it comes above the collar line, and is a sort of slash neck, which personally, I find irritating.
I've tried looking at it in the past, but didn't have the confidence to make the necessary decision.  
But, it was either alter it into something that would be worn, or off to the charity shop.

Big question though, how to do it?  Fortunately, hidden in the back of the wardrobe, waiting for me to fit into it again, was my trusty LBD, so using the top of that, I made a pattern out of brown paper.  (that sounds really Blue Peter!)

 Then the dress was unpicked at the seams and the pattern applied.  I forgot to take photos of the cutting out stage, but below is the very crumpled end result.

I then realised that as the original dress had a tie waist, it did have bust darts, but no other shaping, and of course I'd forgotten to copy this from the original dress.  So, guesswork it was, and I vaguely pinned where I thought the darts should go...

 Then I realised that somehow, I had to get the information onto both sides of the fabric.  My sewing  box used to contain things like carbon paper, and tailors chalk, but no more.  I did contemplate whizzing to the paper shop to see if they still sold ordinary chalk ( do children still play hopscotch?) but gave that idea up.

From the depths of my memory (needlework lessons in 1971!) I remembered 'tailor's tacks', so with a bright thread, marked the darts, pulled the fabric apart, cut the thread, and hey presto!  Marks on both sides of the fabric!

Very quickly, before it all fell apart, tacked the dart in place.

Now its all ready for 'proper' stitching, and the big question I sew it by hand, use my trusty Singer, or use the little tiny sewing machine that my Mum bought me many years ago and which is still in its box.

Watch this space.

Post with the finished top Finished at last

These things take time.....

How often have you said that to someone? Maybe they've split up with a partner, or suffering with a broken bone, or maybe they've lost someone special to them. I've done it myself. But do you know something? Until it happens to you, you don't realise how much time. Especially as often, for some reason, time seems to pass so slowly.

Recently, very recently, I was rushed into hospital in considerable pain, and for the best part of a week time passed really, really slowly. I wasn't allowed to eat, and had no concentration, so couldn't read, or do much except sleep. The days lasted forever. Normally, in hospital, the days are broken up by meals and visiting, but I was only drinking water, and in no mood for idle chatter.

That said, I'm glad we've got the NHS. They may fall down in lots of areas, but I couldn't fault the treatment, and heaven knows how much the various tests and drugs would have cost in a country without a Health Service.

After the initial shock had worn off, I did manage to do some cross stitch, inspired by a fellow patient, who was doing an old fashioned sampler.  To be fair, she had known for six months that she was having this particular surgery, so had plenty of time to get all the materials together, but she did set my mind thinking about what I could be doing that didn't require lots of concentration, and could be done almost one handed (having a drip restricts your movement a bit)

This is the result of nearly a fortnights work, not really much to show, but will make some stocking fillers if nothing else!
My trusty little travel kit came in really handy, it's one that I take away with me, and just has some threads which will do some basics, and on this occasion, had a couple of keyrings in it, and also a kite bookmark that I'd already done.