Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Another year over........

Well what a year, and how quickly it has passed. I still cant believe that tomorrow is Christmas day!

Like so many others this year my posts have been a bit sporadic, but I'm not apologising as usually it's been because my life has been so delightfully full that I haven't had time to sit at the computer and how many people would love to be able to say that!
I am so lucky to be surrounded by a wonderful loving family and good friends.

That's not to say though that everything is always good.
This year we learned that my darling boy has tested positive for prostate cancer. He is currently going through tests and being very up beat and we are all rooting for him. What can I say except that if love alone would cure him he would be better already.
...and then to the other extreme...our darling girl is to be married in 2015 to her man of 17 years.

 I can say something now as the save the date cards have been issued and all the important things are booked.
To say we are excited is an understatement. She is to be married in the same church as we were 47 years ago, a proper village wedding which I will share with you in due course.
So 2015 looks like being a bit of a roller coaster but I know with all the love we share we will get there.

So I will sign off for this year by just saying.....
 A Very Merry Christmas to you all and all the best for 2015

Jenny xx

Friday, 28 November 2014

Beautiful adjustable hair bands - A Tutorial

So Christmas is nearly here and as well as the frantic shopping and cooking most of us will also be turning our thoughts to what to wear! Of course if you have little princesses the task is even harder as they seem to get fashion savvy at a much younger age nowadays.
One of the things I have noticed though is the number of young ladies (and older ones too) who favour wearing decorated hair bands, and as I make a few to sell I thought I would share how to make your own from a small length of soft elastic, a discarded bra, and a small scrap of fabric.


 24 inches/ 60 cms of soft elastic in the colour of your choice.
I buy mine on line and the bi-fold elastic works a treat and only costs pennies a metre.

One loop and one slider from an old bra.
If it's the wrong colour you can either spray it or paint it with nail polish. Use tweezers to hold the small parts to colour them. If you are lucky to find clear ones these are even better.

Fabric of your choice torn in a 2 inch strip. The length will determine how full the rose is. I just tore a strip across the width of my fabric.


First make your flower.
Take the fabric strip and fold in half with the right side of the fabric on the outside.

 At one end take the corner of the folded edge and bring it down to the torn edge. You will have formed a small triangle.

 If you have a hot glue gun put a tiny dab if glue at the bottom to hold in place. If using a needle and matching thread make a couple of small stitches here to hold the base of the triangle in place.
Next you are going to roll your strip a couple of times tightly to create the flower centre. Again you will need a spot of glue  or a stitch at the base to hold the centre in place.

Now you are going to twist the fabric strip about twice and then turning the flower in your hand glue or stitch the fabric around the base to create a rose shape.

This may seem fiddly and you are probably wise to practice with a spare bit of fabric first, but you will soon get the feel for it.
Once you reach the end of the strip, fold it down again as you did in the beginning making a neat triangle with the end and finally securing it to the base of your flower.
If you want a more open bloom, make the twists looser, if you prefer a tight looking rose keep the twists firm and even. The secret is to keep checking that you are securing the 'petals' or folds to the base with each twist so that the flower does not unravel.
Of course this is only one type of flower, you could make one from layers of felt petals, or my favourite a melted rose made from synthetic taffetas,organza and even dress linings.
If any one would like a tutorial for my take on these, just let me know in the comments.

Next the band. Now this is the bit I love because the band is adjustable and is therefore suitable for babies, through to children and even adults.One size fits all!
First you need to thread about one inch of one end of your elastic through the rescued bra strap loop and sew or glue in place.

 I use a glue called Fabri-tac and it sticks firmly and permanently in minutes,

 but you can easily stitch instead by hand or machine. Keep this join facing you for the next step as shown in the photograph.
Next you need to thread the other end through the slider keeping the elastic flat and then through the loop again.

Finally the trickiest bit. Where the elastic threads behind the centre bar in the slider, pull it out so that it makes a loop standing away from the slider.

 This is so that you can then thread the loose end of the elastic over the bar as well .

Pull this through about an inch and then stick or sew it to hold it in place in the slider.

Just to clariy this picture the two outer pieces of elastic are the main band the inner two are where the loose end has been passed over the slider bar ready to glue or stitch in place.

The finished fully adjustable band

The bi fold elastic has a shiny and matt side, so it is easier to make sure that you glue wrong sides together at the loop and the slider. If your elastic is the same both sides just make a pen mark at each end of the side you are going to treat as the wrong side. It does help to prevent twisting the band.

 So all that is left is to glue or sew on your flower. I try on the band and position the loop and slider at the back of the head before attaching the flower and then I can see more accurately where I want the flower to sit.

Hope this is useful and you will make some lovely creations to dress up your party gear. As I said if anyone wants a how to for the melted rose I will post one if requested. I've included a picture below of one I made earlier so you can see what I am talking about.

Enjoy playing
Jenny xx

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

1940s dungarees, A pattern review.

Phew! Well I made them, the Wearing History 1940s dungarees, but it certainly wasn't all plain sailing. I think I made the common mistake of thinking that as a fairly experienced sewer, I would have no problem!
Big Mistake!

Oh there is nothing wrong with the pattern and Wearing History have done a great job of adapting it to our modern figure shape without losing the essence of the original. It was my hurry to get them done and not as the pattern company suggests, reading up on past sewing terms which was almost my downfall.
That and being in too much of a hurry to make a toile of course.

The one thing I did do was be very honest with my measurements. Despite the fact that according to the pattern sizing I appeared to be making a garment about 3 sizes bigger than I normally would. It was a very good job that I did because even then it really fitted where it was meant to!
The other thing which I almost slipped up on was the low rise. Fortunately I checked this out almost as an afterthought and I am so glad I did. Without losing the integrity of the 40s style when all trousers had a much lower rise than our modern equivalent, I still needed to lift the seam about 2 inches to prevent it almost hitting my knees.

The biggest learning curve though was the button placket or as the pattern puts it left facings. I could not get my head round cutting both front and back double. Especially as I was using denim.
I had decided to deviate a little by lining the front and back bodice, as I don't like faced openings, and so cut one each of the the side facings plus a second in lining fabric to keep the bulk down a bit. I also lined the pockets. I would be interested to hear how others dealt with the button opening as if I had followed the original directions there would have been five layers of fairly thick fabric once they were fastened! Perhaps I still misunderstood the pattern here!
I did eventually sort it out to my satisfaction whether right or wrong, and I do love the finished garment. It still niggles me though as I like to know what I am doing wrong if I can't fathom a pattern.
As you can see from the pictures I wore these to the latest pop up Olive & Edna shop last Saturday and they were really comfortable and very practical. I think they will be getting quite a few outings in the future.

Thanks once again to Claire at Liberty Rose Grantham for the friendly welcome and help, and to all the lovely folk who came and supported us. If you are interested in Vintage and Collectibles there is a Vintage Fair at the New life Church St Catherine's Road Grantham this Saturday, 22nd November and another that I will be attending at Liberty Rose on Saturday 6th December. So do come and say hello if you are in the area.

Off now to make vintage pinnies and some more Christmas slippers,

Jenny xx

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

On my doorstep

Its so true what they say that you rarely see whats under your nose.
We try to get out and about every couple of weeks and are often scratching around to find somewhere we haven't visited.  But twice in the last few weeks we have found glorious places so near to home I am almost ashamed to say we have not been before.
Today I will share out visit to Wollaton Park in Nottingham.

The day we chose followed a very wet and windy Saturday and we were expecting it to be overcast with a fair chance of more rain, but to our delight the day dawned bright, crisp, even sunny and amazingly warm!
Wollaton Hall was designed by Robert Smythson and completed in 1588 (the year of the Spanish Armada) for Sir Francis Willoughby. The exterior remains much as is was originally and is considered to be a masterpiece.
The interior was remodelled in 1642 following a fire and again in the 18th and 19th Centuries by Sir Jeffry Wyatville for 6th Lord Middleton.
It opened to the public in 1926 and is home to the city's Natural History Museum.
As well as the stunning house, whose period rooms you can visit by joining one of the guided tours, the grounds are well worth a visit. Stunning in Autumn they would make an excellent place for Summer picnics, with acres of space (approximately 500 now, though originally it was 790 acres). There are deer and plenty of wildlife and birds as well as formal gardens.

My post is a little picture heavy, but I hope it conveys the space and delightful variety of vistas. We thoroughly enjoyed the visit and indeed the Natural History Museum and will certainly be keeping this in our places to revisit book for next Spring and Summer.

Have a lovely week and I hope the sun keeps shining a little longer for you as it certainly is here today.

Jenny xx

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Autumn fashion....Yes Please!

I seem to be having a skirt fest at the moment!. Despite the fact that as a hands on nanny I spend most of my time grovelling on the floor, or leaping about like some mad woman playing on the wii and therefore am more likely to be in my jeans, I do like to wear skirts and dresses.
Over time my taste has gone from the tailored smart to the comfy casual, preferably with thick tights and boots!
My pattern of choice at the moment is the pencil skirt from Angela Kane. After downloading a couple of her free patterns, which I quite liked, I decided to sign up. Now for just £25 joining fee I can download as many patterns as I like. Since there are about 28 ( and new ones being added) I think, that's not bad value at all. One of the best things though is the you tube tutorials. Even as a fairly prolific sewer, I have learned some excellent tips and short cuts.

My first attempt....1991 curtain fabric! I love it and am tempted to make a coat too. I have enough material!!

 You only got the bottom of this photo 'cos I was pulling the most stupid face!

A lined wool tweed, and a close up of the back pleat which I much prefer for Autumn/Winter skirts, much less drafty!

I also made an unlined brushed moleskin with patch pockets, but I loved it so much its been worn and is now in the wash.

I have made another Ponti dress.....

I wouldn't have thought of wearing the mustard with orange, but couldn't be bothered to change. However since the scarf does have both colours in I might be tempted. At least its very Autumnul!

In between busily sewing cushions, bunting and Christmas decorations for our next Olive & Edna pop up shop, I have also downloaded a 1940s dungaree pattern which I hope to wear on the day.......

Saturday 15th November 2014

I'd better get a move on or I could be wearing them with the pins in still...not a good look and somewhat dangerous!

If you are in the area do pop in if only to say hello and taste the wonderful cakes!

Jenny xx

Friday, 10 October 2014

A bird in the hand.....

Quite literally...

  This darling little fellow must have mistaken the reflection in our french doors as his flight path out of our garden!. DH was in the kitchen when he heard a thump and out of the corner of his eye he suddenly saw something drop. As he looked out of the door he saw this blue tit on its back on the patio not moving. He really thought that he was dead. He picked him up and gently cradled him and slowly he began to move.

He was obviously stunned, but didn't seem at all frightened as DH continued to quietly talk to him. He sat still for what seemed ages, though I know it was probably only for a minute or so.

As he recovered  he certainly didn't seem in any great hurry to fly away. I am sure that DH has a touch of the Dr Doolittle's about him as he does seem to have a real rapport with wild animals and birds.  I think being born and bred in the country, around farm animals and nature does make a difference.

So finally our feathered friend hopped onto DHs thumb, had a look around and flew off into the rambling rose above the archway outside the kitchen door apparently none the worse for his accident and having given DH and me a few minutes of absolute joy in watching him make a full recovery.

Isn't nature brilliant

Jenny xx