Thursday, March 29, 2012

Squeezing in some crafting...

Over the past few weeks I have found my "creative time" gradually eroded. Elliott has dropped his afternoon naps. So there goes an 1-2 hours each afternoon when I used to be able to escape to my summer house for my regular sewing fix. (Yikes! that's 7-14 hours each week!). He is waking at the crack of dawn now as the sun is rising earlier and the dawn chorus is reaching epic proportions. He is pretty relentless from the moment he wakes to the moment he eventually goes to sleep. By which time I am too exhausted to go out to the summer house and even contemplate sewing. Sigh...So I am contenting myself with short bursts of crafting when I can squeeze it in...namely exploring leather and suede as a crafting material...

You may have already caught my first post for an easy peasy DIY gadget case. These are the trousers I thrifted for £1 along with some leather and "pleather" scraps for 50p from a local craft jumble in aid of the local Air Ambulance.....

This is the scene of devestation free flow creativity on my sewing table. Jewelry and leather scraps, poppers, eyelets, notions, tools (yep that is a hammer you see before you. A great stress buster!)....

I'm having fun just playing with ideas....

and learning how to mystery braid...

The execution of this idea is a wee bit shoddy (eep! look at that wobbly edge!) and definately needs refining, but I'm really liking the basic concept....

Oh, and I've cracked open my sketch book, for a very good reason. I have a rather ambitious but exciting goal in mind, that I'm not quite ready to share yet. It involves an ambition that was thwarted back in my college days, but that I feel I am ready to revisit at this point in my life. Something that could completely change the course that I thought my life was on...

Do you have any long held ambitions that you haven't yet achieved but would still like to try? Have you in fact achieved something that you would never have imagined a few years ago? I'd love to hear some of your stories.

Monday, March 26, 2012

DIY - Leather Gadget Case

Recently I've been playing around with some leather and suede scraps and thought I'd share this super quick project with you.  This method could be applied to any slimline tech gadget such as ipads/phones, kindles, tablets etc. (or my cheap and cheerful mobile!) The leather I'm using was harvested from a pair of 80's pink suede trousers that I picked up from the £1 rail in my local charity shop. So you could either keep an eye out in charity shops for old leather jackets, bags etc OR leather scraps are readily available online from auction sites and craft suppliers....

The first thing I did was make a template/pattern as follows:
  1. Draw around your phone/gadget on paper
  2. Smooth out the lines using a ruler/curve so they're nice and even and symmetrical
  3. Add on a seam allowance to the sides and bottom
  4. I used a cotton reel to draw in a little half circle in the middle of the top line to enable me to access my phone once it was in the case

Then to cut out:
  • I didn't want to use pins to fix my template to my leather scrap in case it left holes. So I stuck it down with masking tape. I seem to recall that freezer paper (?) will temporarily adhere to a surface so I guess you could make a template out of this to solve that problem.
  • I then cut one piece for the back and one for the front. I left the back piece with a straight top edge and cut my little semi circle from the front piece only
  • I made sure I had the right needles for the job!
  • Again, I didn't want to pin my front and back pieces so I used these mini pegs I had in my stash. Paper clips or bulldog clips would work just as well too. I pieced mine so the soft sude part was on the inside and the leather on the outside

To construct:
  • Then with a longer machine stitch (test on scraps first to establish what works best) stitch all the way around the sides and the bottom. Backstitch either side of the opening to reinforce. I used a walking foot on my machine to help feed the leather through evenly. I stitched only half way into the seam allowance to allow for the depth/thickness of my phone. (If I were really accurate I would have measured the width of my phone at the start, divided by 2 and added this to the template at the start before adding the seam allowance. But I was winging it a bit!)
  • Then trim close to the stitching line

Next time I make one of these, I'll probably stay stitch the top edges to reinforce, and maybe try out a bit of embellishment.....but otherwise I'm super happy with my new phone case!

Happy Monday to you! The sun is shining and I'm a happy gal today :) What are you up to?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ooooh, she's cheap! #1 - Toddler Bedding

Right. You all know I'm totally addicted to thrifting already. But I'd just like to make it clear. I'm not tight,ok? BUT.... I do resent paying full price for anything, especially when I KNOW that I could make it myself/buy it secondhand for a fraction of the cost.  I could blame this inherent thriftiness on the fact that we seem to be permanently on a very tight budget  But I'd be lying (not about the budget part though unfortunately!). It's really not about necessity. I can't really remember having ever been any other way. I seriously suspect if I won the lottery...I would still thrift. I enjoy the hunt and the buzz I get when I unearth a total bargain or a complete treasure. There's often also a uniqueness to items made or thrifted that I love much more than some of the "identikit" stuff available on the High Street. It makes sound financial and ecological sense to me to shop this way. I also quite like it when my friend's jaws drop when I tell them how much I actually spent on something ;)  So in this spirit, here begins a new series that compares what you could've spent on, say, a High Street purchase, with a thrifted or self made alternative, and just how much cold hard cash it's possible to save as a result!!!

First up, toddler bedding. Yikes! Considering a toddler bed duvet is about 2/3 the size of a standard single, you'd think the price would reflect that wouldn't you? Less fabric, lower price, right? Nah! I found that prices ranged from £15-£50 (Yes! £50!!). Now I'll admit, I have a bit of a hang up about pure cotton for bedding, and you could probably get cheaper poly or poly cotton covers for slightly less. But I wanted pure cotton. Elliott's room is baby blue with a beach/nautical theme. So this set from John Lewis is pretty much what I had in mind...

After biding my time and keeping my eyes peeled for a bit, I found a 100% cotton double duvet set for £2.00 in my local charity shop. Beautiful colourway, in gorgeous as new condition, with a really decent thread count. Two pillowcases and a double duvet cover. A few snips with the scissors and just four straight seams later, I'd managed to make TWO toddler size duvet covers from  the one double duvet cover. Since the set came with two matching pillowcases, I now have TWO identical toddler duvet sets which essentially cost £1 each!

So depending on how you look at it, that's a saving of £24 for one OR a whopping £48 when you consider I would have needed to get two sets (one in the wash, one on the bed!) and it only took me an hour. Yay!  Now, what to spend that extra £48 on......;)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Blog Facelift...

You may have noticed a lack of sewing content of late. It's not that I haven't been busy though. I've been focussing my "Blog Time" on other aspects. You may have noticed a few changes going on around here. The most immediately obvious being my new header! What do you think? Some of you may have noticed a few different headers and fonts being chopped and changed in the last week or so. But somehow my first attempts (though I liked them style wise) seemed a little overstylised and impersonal for this blog. I wanted my header to represent what this blog is about.

"Snippets of my life, through rose tinted spectacles".

(Because I tend to only share the good stuff on here. Who needs to hear the not so good stuff after all?!)So my new header is a literal translation of that. Ok, maybe a little bit too literal/obvious. But I like it:)

I've also been trying to improve the functionality and searchability (is that a word? Should be!) of this blog. So you may also have noticed tabs appearing underneath the header. These will continue to be under construction over the next few weeks. But the first one is finished, yay! I've put all of my "Sewing Basics" posts in one place with clickable (is that a word either?!) images that link to the post concerned....

I'm a wee bit chuffed with myself if I'm honest. This page was constructed entirely in HTML. (I know knew close to zero about coding in html! Really, tech stuff just isn't my forte)  I mean, have you ever tried to drag and drop images side by side in blogger?? Trust me, it doesn't work. So a little bit of googling tutorials later, I had the "code" and the basic instructions to create this page. Then with a little extra input from my big brother (IT whizz of the family), I could make the images link to the relevant pages. Sometimes it's such a buzz to achieve something out of your comfort zone! Hope you like the changes :)

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

LOVE it! #1

I have become a firm fan of Pinterest over the last few months. No longer is my desktop bulging with random photo's of things that have inspired me but I have no idea of how to find them again wherever they are in the internet labyrinth. No longer do I have a ridiculous number of bookmarked sites or blogs that I have added to my reading list, purely because of one article I hope go back to one day. Yes, Pinterest has freed me from all of this. Just because I'm that kinda gal, I thought I oughta start sharing my fave "pins" from time to time.....

Top Row
  1. I love this idea for a ladder repurposed as a magazine holder/bookcase
  2. I'm keeping an eye out for an old plate rack to turn into a space saving book "shelf" for Elliott's books
  3. Baking sheets + spray paint + magnets for bright and cheerful magnetic notice boards. Ingenious!
  4. A thrifty way to create your own collection of milk glass
Middle Row
  1. This pendant light shade would be easy peasy to recreate as it is. But how quirky would it be made  by repurposing vintage wooden rulers or even an old wooden venetian blind
  2. This is such a cosy and personal patchwork throw made from old flannel shirts or woolen jumpers
  3. This headboard makes stylish and decorative use of salvaged wood strips
  4. I just love this cover of this notebook. I'm cooking up ways to create this using textiles and embroidery.
Bottom Row
  1. What an ingenious and quirky idea for repurposing spice tins
  2. Beautiful wallpaper. Makes me want to try some lino prints or silk screen printing.
  3. I love this idea for repurposing old maps into personalised wall art
  4. Simply gorgeous colour palette from Cacharel

Mr Blue Sky

There. Now that's what I'm talking about!


Monday, March 05, 2012

Rainy Days and Mondays......

Hmmmph. I'll be honest. Rain makes me cross. I know we need it, and I know my garden will look the greener for it. But I can't help it. It just puts me in a stink. If it has to rain at least give us some thunder and lightning. A good old drenching and then let the sun come out. Not this constant drip drip, pitter patter, and gloomy skies.
The view out of every one of our windows

It has literally not stopped raining all day. Oh how cruel to give us a fleeting taste of Spring, with mild temperatures, blue skies and bright sunshine....only to snatch it back, cackling, and give us this instead. Bunkum!
Yep this is a post moaning about the weather. I am British after all. To be really really British of course, you have to be standing in a queue, for Fish n Chips, at the seaside, on a rainy August Bank Holiday, with a stiff upper lip. . . . . and moaning about the weather!!

Friday, March 02, 2012

I'm Baaaack!! + Thrifty Finds # 33

You can't see me right now, but I'm doing a little happy dance. A bit like this. As you can probably tell by the fact that I've posted this, WE ARE ONLINE!!!! HOORAY!! Friends, there were times when I thought we weren't going to make it...dark days....shudder...;) Seriously, I feel so out of practice after almost 3 months of almost complete internet abstinence. When we went back online I looked at the laptop and thought, "what do I do now" I sat there for about 10 minutes warming up with a bit of Ebay, spent another 20 minutes stretching out by clearing out my email inbox (really! The amount of junk in my inbox!). Then I really broke into a run and started checking out my reading list on Blogger. Erm, oops, before I knew it, it was midnight. I'd forgotten how much t'internet can hoover up time!

Anyhow, I thought I'd restart my blogging nice and easy (so as not to pull any muscles) with a little show and tell of some thrifty finds during  my internet break. I think I must've used thrifting as a blogging substitute, as there is much more (read s***loads) than this little selection to share. But plenty of time for that!
Above: Crown Devon Lidded Bowl Circa 1960's - £3 from our local charity shop. I love the chunkiness, the colour and pattern of this pot. I've seen lot's of highly glazed versions of this but I rather liked the matt finish on this one. Currently housing my hair accessories on a shelf in the bathroom! Not quite what the maker intended I suspect, but hey, what can I say, it goes with the colour scheme!

Above: Pyrosil Square Lidded Casserole Circa 1960's - £1.50 from our local charity shop. I already had the little Pyrosil dish in the background so you can probably imagine me clapping my hands like a delighted sealion when I came across this one to keep it company.

Above: Vintage Mixing Bowl Circa 1930's - £3 from Emmaus - These are pretty iconic and I have been after one of these for a while. By British company T G Green (best known for the equally iconic blue and white Cornishware) they are known as "Gripstand" Mixing bowls (also known as Yelloware in the US/Canada I believe) because the little wedge shape you can see near the base allows them to sit at a tilted angle for whisking and such like. Clever stuff!!

Above: Set of 3 Poole Twintone Cups & Saucers - Circa 1930's - £2 from our local charity shop
I just love Poole Twintone. I love the gorgeous colour combinations and the fact that something made over 80 years ago can still look so fresh and modern. That's great design don't you think?