Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Stuff and nonsense

I have been quite busy, but don't seem to have much to show for it. I've been sewing - I made the Coffee Date dress out of some great fabric I got for £3.40. There was enough left over to make my daughter a dress - still not quite finished.

Unfortunately when I put the zip in I used too much seam allowance - it fits, but is rather tight - so I need to redo the zip - serves me right for rushing. I think if I were to make it again, I'd use a larger size back bodice and lengthen the bodice as well as the waist is a little high for me. I do like the style and i'm looking forward to wearing it.

I Also finished My 50's style dress, but feel it needs a contrast band at the waist - still need to sort this out.

A couple of years ago I bought a dress with some lovely embroidery on the skirt, but the top was a little too tight, and no allowance to adjust it. I turned it into a skirt and have worn it lots since. this year I put it on and realised that I've lost a few inches so it had to be adjusted again. Thankfully it was only a 10 min job to adjust the darts and fit - I'm glad it fits.

Today I popped into New Look - they had a sale on. The cargo shorts I looked at last week were now half price - So I bagged those. I also got a pair of canvas flats for £3 (same as on the model) and a pair of flat court shoes for wearing with skirts and the like, when I want more than a sandal.  All ready for my trip. Only a couple of little bits to get and a whole lot of prep work to do before I get there.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Sale Time

I've been selling some of my work recently. Although I need to do more shows and fairs.
I have 4 large 6 by 4 ft paintings for sale. Until the end of July they will be half price. (£500 each instead of £1000 plus shipping)

These works are stunning, textural and intricate. They would make a fantastic feature on a wall or stunning art for an office or commercial foyer.

If you interested in owning one of these unique, original art works please contact me.

My First Award

A Great big thank you from Kazies Magical Designs for this award. I really am pleased. :)

as part of accepting this Award I have to.........

  • Make a post linking back to the person who gave you the award.... done.
  • Share seven random things about yourself..... read on.
  • Award seven recently discovered bloggers with this award and contact them to let them know they have won..... done, see below!
7 Random things about me:
1. I love all things creative. My passion is painting. but I love all forms of the arts.
2. I adore my husband - he is my rock and keeps me sane. and I love my three wonderful children.
3. I would love to spend some time living abroad.
4. I hate housework.
5. I'm passionate about my faith.
6. I love loud music.
7. I secretly love driving my husband's 1978 Citroen Dyane (but don't admit it).

7 blogs I am giving this award to are:
Tilly & the Buttons - great sewing stuff. lots of great ideas.
Gerties new blog for better sewing. I wish I could do all the amazing corsetry that she does.
Redneedle sewing - some great ideas and craftiness.
Fashion sewing blog - A great site for getting the basics of garment construction and tips for sewing
Two little cabbages and Cie - lots of varied posts - food, sewing, crafts, and a great looking site as well.
So Zo what do you know - I love all the clothes that Zoe makes and share here - they are truly fab.
Puppyfly Boutique- a great varied blog of crafts and creativeness.(teaching, creating and blogging - this woman is amazing)

Get yourselves over to these fab blogs and comment - we all like to know that someone takes an interest in what we're doing Right?

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Mens shirt refashion

My husband gave me one of his old shirts to remake. It was rather too big for him, so I decided to make a blouse from it. However I wanted something a little different.

I used a basic block pattern with front, bust and back darts. I allowed more room at the armholes and lengthened the block to hip length making it slightly A line. I cut the block out of newspaper and taped it together to make a 3D form, which I placed on my dress form to work on.

Once on the dress form I used a marker pen to adjust the neckline, and then drew sections with asymmetrical lines. cut the pattern off the dress form and opened out the pattern pieces. making small darts where necessary to achieve a flat pattern piece.

Having unpicked the shirt I decided to use the front as a button down back and cut out those pieces. The back section of the shirt I used to make the front of my blouse - laying the pattern pieces at varying angles to achieve the desired effect. I added seam allowance and cut out. I stitched the front panel together first and then the shoulder and side seams. I needed a little adjustment at the neck to ensure a good line. then used the left over back yoke to create a bias strip for the neck edge.  This was easy as the yoke had been cut on the bias anyway, so it was just a case of cutting the required width and pressing to conceal the raw edges.

I kept the sleeves as the were and stitched gathering stitches over the top of the sleeve and eased them in to make the sleeves fit and give a slightly gathered effect.
Hem and one final press and the top was complete.

I planned to wear it to church this week, but the forecast is for warm weather, so i might leave it until a cooler day.

Quick Coat Improvement

My husband bought this cute duffel coat for our daughter in the winter. She loves it and has worn it almost daily. However, the jute fastenings had begun to wear through and needed replacing.

While in London a couple of weekends ago I saw and bought some polka dot ribbon which matched the lining of the coat. Today I finally got around to sewing them on. I think they look quite nice. not sure how long they'll last though.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Oh no - I gave in.

I have a confession to make. I gave in. I bought a new item of clothing!
It was out of need rather than want. I'm off to Hong Kong and China in a few weeks and know it's going to be really hot. I didn't want to cut up the trousers I have and the charity shops didn't have anything suitable. So I bought a pair of cargo style shorts.

I'm beginning to redevelop my wardrobe and want interesting and unique pieces, not just high street fashion that everyone else has - I suppose it's my way of being individual and recycling. This is going to involve lots of refashioning. Look out for my latest refashion - maybe I'll finish it tomorrow - Pictures will follow.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011


A quick update on my to do list.

  1. Finish Prep for my art and cake fundraiser - this includes making cakes, buying coffee and tea, finishing and presenting fabric brooches, rag bags and sorting out my art work (see my art work page). I also need to tidy up and sort out price lists. Done. And it went really well :)
  2. Finish the dress refashion I started before Easter - it's a simple 50s style dress but I didn't get the bodice right, so I'm redoing it. Done - but I think it needs some contrast around the waist. just thinking about using some of the skirt to do this?
  3. Refashion two dresses that need a bit of an update and a better fit.
  4. Make a dress with the bargain viscose fabric I got today for £3.40 - for 2.5m.
  5. Refashion two of my hubbies shirts (they are too big for him). One is half done - photos to follow soon. I'm trying a back fastening blouse.
  6. Paintings - try out some of my layers ideas using PVA and a range of materials.
  7. Make the crocheted jacket I've seen.
  8. revise how to do drawn thread work and use it on a simple shift dress as edging.
  9. Get hold of the Pattern Magic books and use the ideas to create my own individual ideas.
  10. Organise my first link party, Giveaway, and guest posts.
Well as you can see I've done some stuff and spent some of today manipulating images to work from for my paintings. I'm kind of obsessed with my sewing work at the moment, but I'd like a way to combine some of my butterfly work with the sewing. I'll have to work on that idea.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Visual Arts 11 Degree Show

I was intending to go to Northumbria Uni's dregree show preview last Thursday, but didn't make it. So John and I went today. There were some amazing talented artists, some bonkers stuff and some work I didn't really care for. I could have spent a couple of hours looking at all the student's work, but had an appointment, so there were some I didn't see.

Here are a few of the artists whose work caught my eye. (Sorry about poor photos - only had my phone with me!)

Kate Anderson

This is Kate Anderson's "falling to Pieces". I loved the contrast she made using well loved children's tales with a darker reality - poor humpty!

Kate Hardwick

Kate Hardwick's work looked at the contrast between daily life and war, and showed how far apart they are.

Adam Hodkinson

Adam Hodkinson had created a range of drawings - beautifully executed, which seemed to explore the features of people that made them unique - not necessarily beautiful.

Weijia Ou
Weijia Ou

Weijia Ou responded to his experience of the educational system in China and the contrast to the imagination and desire to play. This resulted in some very striking and thought provoking works.

Kelly Pearson

Kelly Marie Pearson's wax installation was beautiful and disturbing, harsh and fragile at the same time.

Nat Quinn

Nat Quinn's mixed media work, was beautiful. the delicate drawing, scratching and building up of layers was mesmerising.

Annette Searing

Annette Carla Searing's work on MDF was an assault on the senses! - but I loved it. Bright lurid colours and textures created this vivid body of work. I love colour and I think that's why this work appealed to me so much.

Dan Shields

I also loved Dylan Alistair Shields sculpture - made from wood and cardboard.

Jade Sweeting

Finally Jade Sweeting's humorous and politically driven work, was eye catching, through provoking and culturally relevant.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Handmade Monday

Pop on over to Handmade Monday and have a gander at all the creative peeps on there. I've found new followers and followed lots of others. All different!

I've had a hectic week, After getting back from London last weekend I've had meetings to go to, conferences, as well as lots of time spent getting ready for my fundraiser, which I held on Saturday. It was a great day. I sold some of my home made recycled bags, Fabric brooches, Home made cake. as well as some of my paintings - all made by me! I can tell you I was shattered by the end of the day and relaxed with a glass of Rose.

My husband is on a creative streak as well - of a more alcoholic nature and is in the first stages of making elderflower wine and champagne, and a spiced apple and mango cider - which  hope will be lovely.

I'll be taking a look at the work of recent arts graduates this week as it's time for the BA art and design shows at Northumbria University. So I'm hoping to head into Newcastle to see some of their work - and I'll report on what I see.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Art Fundraiser Review

Wow! What a great day.  I held my fundraiser today for my trip with International China Concern in the summer. I both love and dread these events - mostly because I fear no one will turn up. However, today I had a lot of visitors (with a convenient break for lunch).

It was great to catchup up with friends I haven't seen for a while, as well as meet some new folks and see those who are willing to support me in the work I'll be doing - I'm so very grateful for all their contributions both great and small.

I displayed my work around the downstairs of my house, bags, art work, brooches and some books and videos that we just needed to get rid of. I sold loads, it's probably been one of the most successful fundraisers I've had. Thank you everyone.

It's great to know I have some wonderful friends  -(thank you Julie, Eddie, Anita, Cath, Liz, Eva, Angela, Roger, Carol, Helen & friends, Paul, Maureen, Albert, Pam, Fiona, Richard, Louise, Victoria, Hannah, Fiona, Barbara, Cathryn, Ken and everyone else that came too)

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Art, Cake, Coffee (and a few bits and bobs thrown in)

 Saturday is nearly here. I spent what seemed like ages finishing off brooches to sell in my fundraiser. I'm raising cash to help me go on a volunteer team with International China Concern later this summer.

So Saturday will be busy - paintings to hang, Cakes to bake, price list to write and prints, bags and brooches to display.
I'm selling my art work at discount of at least 20% this weekend, so it could be time to bag yourself a bargain! (see my artworks page) If you're up in the north east of England, call in and see me. I also have a few books, videos and computer games to go as well.
It looks like Saturday will be a busy day - hopefully productive. Please share with your friends.

Smart and Trendy Moms

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Elderflower Cordial

Something I missed off my to do list! Make Elderflower Cordial.
My husband and I have made this for the last three years, we are going to be a little more ambitious this year and also try wine, champagne and cider - all flavoured with elderflower.

So today I was tasked with the job of collecting the first batch of elderflowers. These beautiful delicate flowers can be found in the hedgerows and at the side of the roads all over the UK at this time of year.
I set off with black bag and scissors in hand. However I'd forgotten that abundance of nettles, and had gone out in a skirt and sandals - not ideal! I collected about 90 heads of flowers, enough to make three batches of cordial.

If you've never had elderflower cordial - try it.
  1. Diluted with sparkling water, ice and a slice of lemon.
  2. A little poured over tart red berries instead of using sugar
  3. Use to flavour ice cream ( fantastic served with shortbread and raspberries.
I did a lot of research and found that Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's recipe from The River Cottage Cookbook was the easiest and delicious as well.

You need: 
20-30 heads of elderflowers - freshly picked
zest of 2 lemons and 1 orange
up to 1.5kg granulated or caster sugar
up to 200ml of freshly squeezed lemon juice (3-5 lemons)
tartaric acid*

  1. Shake the insects off the heads of the flowers and place in a large bowl with the lemon and orange zest. Cover completely with just boiled water and leave for at least 4 hrs or overnight.
  2. Strain the liquid through muslin of a clean cotton cloth and squeeze gently to extract all the juice. Measure the amount of liquid and pour into a pan.
  3. For every 500ml of liquid, add 350g sugar, 50ml lemon juice and a heaped teaspoon of tartaric acid*
  4. Heat gently to dissolve sugar, bring to a gentle simmer and skim off any scum. Allow to cool, strain again and pour into sterilised bottles and seal.
*you can make this without the tartaric acid, but it will only keep for  a few weeks in the fridge. It can be frozen in plastic containers and will keep longer. Using the tartaric acid the cordial should keep in a cool place for up to a year - if you can keep your hands off it that long!

To serve: dilute to taste at least 5:1 water to cordial.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

To do list

I'm getting to the stage where i need to list the stuff I have to get done (creative stuff that is). You can all hold me to account and make sure I get it done - question me, harass me and ask to see evidence.
So here goes:
  1. Finish Prep for my art and cake fundraiser - this includes making cakes, buying coffee and tea, finishing and presenting fabric brooches, rag bags and sorting out my art work (see my art work page). I also need to tidy up and sort out price lists.
  2. Finish the dress refashion I started before Easter - it's a simple 50s style dress but I didn't get the bodice right, so I'm redoing it.
  3. Refashion two dresses that need a bit of an update and a better fit.
  4. Make a dress with the bargain viscose fabric I got today for £3.40 - for 2.5m.
  5. Refashion two of my hubbies shirts (they are too big for him).
  6. Paintings - try out some of my layers ideas using PVA and a range of materials.
  7. Make the crocheted jacket I've seen.
  8. revise how to do drawn thread work and use it on a simple shift dress as edging.
  9. Get hold of the Pattern Magic books and use the ideas to create my own individual ideas.
  10. Organise my first link party, Giveaway, and guest posts.
Any help with any of these would be gratefully appreciated.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Embroidered refashion

Not strictly Handmade, but more hand embellished. (Check out other creative posts on Wendy's Handmade Monday.)  I got this tunic at a car boot a couple of weeks ago. I needed to brighten it up - so I replaced the buttons with something brighter and used a chain stitch to add a little more colour to the neck and hem.

London Baby!

 No blogging for the last few days as I've been in London. It was an early birthday treat from my Mum and sister. While I've not made anything I've had chance to wear my purple silk dress and get some creative inspiration.

Once we had arrived and left the bags, we headed up to the South Bank, greeted by a bright white London Eye against a foreboding sky. sure enough it was not long before the heavens opened and the thunder bellowed. We sought refuge at the roof garden of the Festival hall and took a look at the amazing photos from Helmand.

The brollies came out and we dashed up the south bank, arriving at the Tate modern rather bedraggled. After a couple of hours looking at the art that I've become so familiar with over the last few years teaching, we'd dried out and the sun was coming back out.

Time for food - so off to Borough Market. This is a real foodie market, with suppliers. and only a few places selling food to eat there and then. we opted for the healthy option of a salad - it was delicious. Later we returned for cheesecake - I've never seen so many different types of cheese cake in one place.

The next day dawned sunny and bright, we headed over to the Methodist central hall at Westminster, as there was an exhibition I wanted to see. Wesley's cafe was a welcome surprise, good quality food and drinks at a very reasonable price.

It was trooping of the colour , but we wanted to avoid it, so we decided to Head up to the Adam Gallery in Cork Street to see the work of Barbara Rae. Mum and I both love her work and it was great to see it close up - it gave me some ideas for my own work.

We didn't want to do the usual shops that are along Oxford and Regents Street, so we decided to head up to Portobello market. I loved this market - if you are a thrifter, or love vintage clothes there's a good range of stuff here. the market seems to stretch along the whole of Portobello Road, each section has a different focus, from antiques, food, clothing. I stopped at The Spice Shop. We regularly order from here, via the internet. it was great to be able to go into the shop - the smell was fantastic.

After pounding the streets, we returned to our hotel for a quick change, then it was off to Browns for a pre theatre meal. I knew we were going to see a show, but mum and Libby had kept it secret. Les Miserables! it was excellent, funny, sad and life affirming.

Sunday, Camden market beckoned - it was raining and breakfast was had in a small coffee shop inside the market. Again, more interesting and unusual items to buy. and food stalls galore. It reminded me of being in Hong Kong markets - stall holders offering you their wares and vying for your business. Lunch was Moroccan tagine at a stall and then the sad bit - heading back to the train station, where we went our separate ways - hopefully it won't be long before we get chance to do it again.


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