Thursday 28 June 2018

All done #21 Holiday hats FREE pattern links

 Preparations before our holiday in May offered the opportunity for another one of my All Done posts where I use up some fabric stash to its very end.

I have sewn my way to holidays in the past: I have handmade swimsuits, shorts, cotton tops and a hat all ready to go every year. This year, I made a couple of hats for the girls and I thought with all this glorious weather I should share the free pattern links in case you would like to make one.

I have used two patterns. The bike one is a favourite shape because both girls have long hair which is often in a pony tail. It is from Love Sewing: issue 15. I used the left overs of my 1960's dress which has an air of french cycling about it.

The blue one is made from a free pattern you can download from Oliver+s here. It only goes up to a large toddler size but I found a modified pattern on pinterest for a 21/22" version here which was great for Big sis. This is a stretch cotton, left from a pair of summer capri trousers, which made it simple to ease the crown onto the brim. 

Quick post. Work today and tomorrow. See you soon. Enjoy the sunshine. Jo xxx

Sunday 24 June 2018

Impromptu Sewing

I have made an impromptu evening dress. We attended a ball for a reunion of staff, pupils and friends of a school where I worked for ten years as a Primary teacher. The primary school has been an educational establishment since 1618 so they are celebrating 400 years!  

 I knew what dress I wanted, this 1969 vintage pattern, but not what fabric to make it from. I didn't want to buy any so I made a pile then made some decisions. I had silk dupion in a midnight blue and jade green as well as a curtain in mock dupion with embroidered daisies and some purple satin. All worthy contenders but in terms of yardage I was short every time. 

I plumped for the two pieces of silk dupion because I knew they were the same fabric and would behave themselves and with each other. Andy said, "Where have you had that material from?" "Well..." I replied, "It is a long story. The blue is left over from a cocktail dress I made in 1998 for a Young Farmers club fashion competition." He replied, "Do you mean to say that I have moved that piece of fabric to three different houses?" "yes," I said with grin. The green was in a donated bag someone gave me (sorry, can't remember who?)

It is a simple pattern but it deserved a bit of detail. 

The shape is plain. When I tried on the empire line top part it felt like it was going to ride up over my bust with some exuberant dancing so I made it longer. I added a little empire line belt with a diamante buckle button for some bling detail, I don't actually do bling but again it was in my button jar and needed a home. The piping was a fun way to make it look like it was supposed to need two different coloured fabrics. It is lined too which makes it feel super smooth to wear.

I used an invisible zip I already had, but lets face it is not that invisible. I did not have enough time to go and buy a darker one - I kept moving on the dance floor and wore my little jacket for reception drinks. I have had these shoes for years and they make an appearance for nights out.

Ta dah! A summer evening dress. I must confess the reason this dress was made is a vain one. I was going to wear my strapless wedding dress but my builders tan is just too darn prominent; thank goodness this did the job in the time.

A Photofest in my current favourite part of our garden follows:

I did not want to put any fabric back in the cupboard so I made a clutch which turned out to look more like a sponge bag but again, it did the job. I have enjoyed working with fusible fleece of late.

The evening was wonderful. Happy memories. I went to this school as an infant and worked there as an adult. I spotted myself on a photo from 1978 and sat by the headteacher from that time. He remembered me!

Thanks for dropping by. I love it when you call in. Jo xxxx

Thursday 21 June 2018

Machine Star Wrap Skirt

This month my Minerva post was handed over to my own little machine Star. She made the garment and has written a pattern review.

"I enjoyed making this beautiful patterned wrap skirt and even more, I love wearing it." 

Machine Stars wrap skirt pattern review

The tracing paper pattern was easy to cut out and very thick, which made it easy to handle without ripping, however the pattern wasted a lot of paper leaving me to throw it away. 

The instructions were simple to follow and very quick. I would also have loved it much better if the pattern came in more than one size as I had to use darts on the back to keep it up on me. I wasn't to keen on the layout of the pattern pieces on the material as it wasted a lot, instead we used half the material size by using 150cm x 60cm. The thing I liked about this pattern was it's easy to read glossary to help you if you were stuck on a term or needed support that you maybe wouldn't have to hand. 

My mum and me made some changes. Firstly, I found a problem with the hem because it left a raw edge so when I did it, we folded it over  twice making sure it wouldn't fray or come loose. I was wondering how to wear this skirt and where to tie the ribbon so they could have put that on another piece of paper or fitted it on the second sheet. 

I spent around three hours making this skirt spreading it over two days. It was easy to sew as it was mainly straight lines and no weird shaped curves. The fabric given to me was amazing it had a good pattern and great colours and it was also easy to iron. It was not too thick to sew over layers or to be a summer skirt. It was also good because it didn't matter which way up the pattern was. You needed quite a bit of ribbon for the skirt tie(2.50cm)to go right the way around the waist. We used some ribbon that came on mum's new expensive towels.

Soon I shall be making one for my sister in blue and white flowered fabric and red ribbon. Altogether, I loved this pattern and its instructions. This really helped me get even more into sewing and give me more handmade clothes to wear out and about to inspire people to make clothes for themselves. Heidi xxx😃

There you have it. If you have a budding sewer this pattern was really good, she only needed me to be in the room not actually helping her. Heidi is 10 and can use a sewing machine:topstitching; using zig zag stitch; finishing sewing with a forward and back tack and removing pins as she sews.

Thanks Minerva for a confident sewing experience with beautiful resources. 
Mum xxx

Monday 18 June 2018

Are you Stroking it or Knitting it?

Do you save yarn and stroke it or are you inclined to use it up? I used to save craft materials for some sort of epiphany project but I soon learnt that the best way to showcase the materials I enjoyed buying was to wear them and show them off to everybody, not just the inside of my cupboard.

I bought this skein in Buxton at Easter. It was a treat - a treat to myself for getting through such a dreary wet Easter holiday - but I wanted to knit with it straight away.

I went on Ravelry to find a project worthy of the yarn and 365m of it. In the end, I thought the most sensible thing to do was to do a yarn search for Peak District Yarns in Ravelry and behold one of the dyers patterns came up and I thought that was an ideal way of knowing that one skein would make something wonderful. I ordered the shawl pattern called 'The Torrs'

This was my holiday knitting project, a one weeker. I got it going before I went to ensure it was all going to be OK and then I sat in the sunshine, and once in the rain under a brolly, knitting away. It grew quickly because every other row increases by four stitches so a flexible needle was a must.

I was surprised by the size of it considering it was one skein.

I completed the last five rows at home, it took over an hour to do the Russian cast off on so many stitches. It used the yarn up to the very end which was a joy. I missed the last two knit rows to ensure I had enough for the cast off - glad I did! On completion it looked like a screwed up tea towel but blocking is an essential part of this make where the piece comes alive.
I didn't even know I had two chins, that's selfies for you!

Hooray! a draping shawl/scarf made from wool off a sheep and dyed by a human hand. I really like it - it is for me of course!

Do you have a special skein you are stroking?
Jo xxxx

Thursday 14 June 2018

Making - a scarf with my lovely hand-dyed yarn from the Peak District

Eating - more salad and less bread

Cooking - a delicious family pasty from roasted garlic, feta and potatoes. It was delicious from such humble ingredients.

Deciding - how much work to take on this term to stay stress free and solvent

Wanting - to know why snails, that are known for moisture, choose to cluster on dry wood down at the baking hot beach

Fixing - The digger, the tractor and the dumper truck which all broke in the same week. That's Andy not me!

Building - we are putting down layers of floor insulation. Yawn!

Watching - the sunset at the farm

Considering - making a full on satchel for my big girl ready to start secondary school
Enjoying - making this heart keyring for the 17 year old girl in the coffee shop I frequent to mend her broken heart. She was touched.

Loving - that we have got the garden back on track

Disliking - not being able to say no sometimes

Getting - down my yarn stash with this little boy knit

Buying - a reading hammock, wonderful.

Wearing - Dresses. Hooray!

Wondering - Why I can never get flapjack out of the tin!

Thinking - how much the girls love being outside

Feeling - content

Jo xxxx

Monday 11 June 2018

It is time for the full story

I think now it is time to tell you the full story with the backdrop of photos from a very special place, a place you have visited if you have been reading this blog for a while. The cabin. Grab a cup of tea and settle down.

My grandparents were farmers. My dad was second oldest of four brothers. He passed his 11+ in the 1960's and went to Grammar school. His bothers stayed at home and farmed so did his many cousins. We lived a very separate life to his farming brothers: later having a large house, company car, foreign holidays, an interest in education. We still however had this link to dad's home village; helping out at harvest time, staying there as children through the summer holidays when dad did his renovations on our derelict house. My grandparents tried to get planning permission to turn the milking sheds into a house for their retirement but planning restrictions in the 1980's were more restrictive than now in rural areas and sadly, for my Grandad, it never came to fruition. After my grandparents died my dad picked up the baton and tried to get permission to build a home there for his retirement - again it was difficult but he was tenacious.

Who wouldn't want to have this as their early evening view? My dad took 10 acres of land as part of his inheritance, including the milking yard, before selling the farm house and the rest of the land to split with his brothers - the initial farm was no more. He continued to try to build a house. He succeeded in gaining permission around 2012 and we decided to build a cabin in 2014 in the field so that we could stay there, help him build his house and the children could visit their grandad when he lived there. 

In the meantime while building reglulations were going through, we all liked to go to the farm cabin for a cup of tea with my dad and his wife after we had mucked in with farm tasks like hedging, shearing, vaccinating lambs etc. The cabin blew down in 2016 but I have my fathers tenacity, and I encouraged Andy to build it again. 

When we found out that my dad had cancer in 2015 we came to a crossroads. He seriously asked us if we would like to live there, carry the family baton and build the house he had tried, and succeeded in getting permission for or should he sell it all. My family tie felt so strong that we decided to take it on - we had no idea how to build a house but didn't want to let the land go. We loved the pond, the views, the freedom it gave our girls, the restorative pleasure it gave us all and the opportunity to have a little slice of rural Shropshire.

We started to think like people who were going to change their lives. We planted fruit trees and went to the Grand designs show. We bought Bruce who loved to chase pheasants and run like a mad dog... but that was only the naive start.

As my dads health worsened over the years we had to learn how to look after sheep at weekends, do some land management because we are always at the mercy of mother nature and primarily build a house from his drawings. 

Andy decided to give up work temporarily in September 2017 to help my dad try and see the vision of his house plans and be his carer/companion. Although dad had given us this project, he was not actually ready to let it go. It was one of the things that helped him hang on to life for so long.

 They built the foundations together through chemotherapy breaks and in January 2018 in those -10 degree conditions, when Andy's water bottle and yogurt froze in his lunch box, and it was too cold for my dad to be outside, Andy took delivery of a timber frame for a house and helped to erect it.

It was hard for Andy to work with my dad. They are very different people and dad's drive to still be in control was at times infuriating but we tried so hard for him to see as much of it as he could. His last visit there was to see the roof tiles on. He told me that he wished he could see the stonework on the outside but he knew that he wouldn't. 

So this weekend we all stayed at the cabin to tread the fields that are now ours, to feed and water the sheep that are now ours and take stock of a half built house that is now ours.

We watched the sun go down which was a deep red globe and felt very lucky and unlucky all at the same time, a phrase I had said to my dad only a week before he died when I thanked him for this special rural gift.

So there you have it, in the background of sewing clothes, knitting, crochet and family life we have been building a house. Other peoples house builds can be a bore so I have not mentioned it here before but it might pop up it in my news over the next few years - there is not a time frame - Andy has just got a new job. Our weekends will be a steep learning curve in house building without my dad to advise us but we will be fine. A new chapter begins as the sun goes down on the last.

I carry the baton for the third generation. Exciting isn't it? Thanks for listening. Jo xxxxx