Monday, 24 December 2012

Wee Aprons

For two little friends far away to discover when they get back from their grandma's.
I hope everyone has a Happy Christmas! See you towards the end of the week!

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Carol Service

A lot of families and friends came along to the Candlelight Carol Service tonight. Here are a few photos.

There were readings between the carols.

And then a cup of tea and a biscuit or two at the end!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Mince Pies at the shops

Today we had our annual mince pies at the shops morning. Near Christmas we spend one Saturday morning at the local shops handing out mince pies or biscuits and a hot drink to the shoppers. We also invite them to our Candlelight Carol service.

My husband, the Thoughtful Man, charges up a big battery and we have a little fibre optic Christmas tree. He also hooks up a CD player to play Christmas songs the whole while.

Here is Eric who looks like he is not so sure about the weather!

It was raining pretty heavy all day, so we put the table under the overhang. However, Eric is the balloon man, so he was out in the rain the whole time cheerfully passing out balloons to any children who came by. or even to adults if he could get them to smile! The rest of us stayed under shelter. My husband and I were kept busy trying to keep up with Eric by blowing up balloons - helium - and tying strings on them. I am glad it wasn't colder!

These photos were taken near the beginning, so at that point the Thoughtful Man is at the back talking to Councillor Chas Bailey. The other ladies are my friend Pat, Niki - who drove her motorbike on the toy run a couple weeks ago, and Jackie, Eric's wife.

At one point, we were surprised by a lady from the news agent coming out and asking if we wanted a cup of tea or coffee. That was a very nice and very welcome gift!

And we did give out a lot of those biscuits I made the other day! Later, I parcelled more of them up to hand out to the neighbours with their Christmas cards. Some will be kept here, but the rest will be available for after the Candlelight service.

I am going to link this post to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday...not a textile related sample of creativity. But I think sometimes getting out of your studio and speaking to real people can give you a different focus when you get back inside to make things. I think these sorts of things come from the same source of creativity inside you - finding creative ways to be kind to others.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Deliveries - part 2

Today’s delivery was funny.

The Delivery Man who did come didn’t ring the door bell. Instead he seemed to tentatively flap the letter box, and by the time I got to the door had already begun to stick the parcel through.

I opened the door.
'Oh sorry. That’s your parcel.' he said, hurrying away,
'From Amazon'. Already down the path.

No signature mentioned. Smiley
No chance to offer biscuits.

A bit of info for those who don't live in the UK.

Our doors usually have a slot for letters. Some parcels fit in there, too.
When you are knocking at someone's door, you usually flap the letterbox. Unless they have a doorbell...then you ring that, because it might mean they don't hear the letterbox easily. (We do have a doorbell, but sometimes it is hard to see because the ivy grows over it.)

Our front door...the letterbox is in the centre of the door.
Photo taken at night with the door opened into the front hall.

If you have a dog who likes to punch holes in letters grab the offensive thing being stuck into her house, you might mount a box on the wall next to your door that has a slot on top (with a flap that keeps the rain out) for the postie to put the letters in. He is usually glad because it saves on fingers. It might have a tube at the bottom for newspapers. You can just see ours at the left of the photo.

Unfortunately, the dog isn't around any more. Maybe why posties and delivery men are getting so cheeky?

Thursday, 20 December 2012


Today was rolling out and cutting, then baking the sugar cookies and the gingerbread cookies. I will do the icing on them tomorrow. The photo also shows the biscuits I baked yesterday.

So, here is a funny story that goes with the baking.

The phone rings. It's the Amazon delivery man (seemed funny to just say Amazon man...cause they were women, weren't they?)
Will I be in to collect my parcel.
So, I thought, oh, I will give him some biscuits (yesterday's Oatmeal Raisin - 1 and Russion Tea cakes - 2 on a plate).

So when he arrives and says you must be baking. I give him the biscuits. He was shocked - pleasantly.
'Thanks! I wasn't expecting this.'

'That's the point!'

I take the 2 parcels and check the address on the top. Yep, that's the books I ordered for people for Christmas.
Please, would I put my fingerprint on this gadget to show I got the parcels? I never had that before, only please sign.

Then I looked at my fingers.

He looked at my fingers.

No print to be seen due to gingerbread dough and flour covering them. So, I tried. but the gadget couldn't see my fingerprint either. Eventually he clicked something and then scribbled in it himself.

'Thanks so much for this!'He said mouth full of biscuit as he went down the path.

I put the parcels to the side to open when the dough has been washed off.

Two minutes later the phone rings.

It is the Amazon delivery man.

'Um, I gave you the wrong parcel.'

? ?

So, he comes back, swaps the parcel which my husband had ordered with the bottom one which was for someone in a nearby road.

He still has the paper plate in his hand...with one Russian Tea cake.
'Can I swap this one for one of the whole wheat ones?'


You know the darker ones.

'You are a bit cheeky aren't you?' off I go to get an Oatmeal cookie and take the white one back.

'How long have you been baking?'
........long silence while I work out a reply. 'Well, I learned how to when I was little, but I have been baking the last couple days and I am doing some more tomorrow.'

'Oh, are you having all the family around then?'
(I must add at this point that he was not from a background where he would have been used to Christmas baking being part of the holiday celebration. Which is why all the curious questions.)

I laugh. 'No, not really. I just bake alot of biscuits and then find people to give them to.' This is true.

His eyes go wide. 'Wow, you are really generous!'

'Thank you.'

I have another parcel coming tomorrow. Wonder if he will be on this route again. SmileySmileySmiley

Wednesday, 19 December 2012


I have been baking today. But I had a rummage for fabric to use for skirts. I wanted something more while the overlocker is threaded with cream thread.

I wasn't sure if I had donated these or not. Glad to find out they were still in the box. The same kind of sample fabric as the wrap skirt had been made out of.

See? It is hand printed in Italy! I probably would have done more with it if brown was a colour that suited me.

The length in the top one is a bit short, and the other a bit long, so I think they are compatable enough to add a band of the one to the other.

I guess this will be one of those 30 min at a time sort of jobs. I have refridgerated dough to turn into cookies and several parcels to do up and send off. Yes I know, I don't ever seem to send far enough ahead of Christmas.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

girls skirt no.5

I caught up on tidying away glasses and dishes from my Mother-in-law today. Feeling alot better. but soon gave up for a nap again.

But tonight while sorting the ironing that didn't get done at the weekend, I decided I would sew up one of the skirts I had cut out yesterday. I think the fabric had originally been a curtain for someone. But I think it looks pretty good as a skirt.

I am finding a method that makes it pretty quick. I am going to have to send some off soon so I can get some feedback about the length of elastic in the skirts. Not sure just what size girls these will fit.

Monday, 17 December 2012


Well the thoughtful man brought back some of his Mum's special things. This little chair was one. I have always liked it, so it was nice of his mum to pass it on.
Wonderful 'made in South Africa' decorative chair.

Actually, quite a few of the things he brought back were things I have always thought were special. His brother and sister also had choices for nice things as well. I think Mum enjoyed being able to choose to give things dear to her, to the people most dear to her as well!

One of the not so nice bits was that when the Thoughtful Man got back very late, he had also picked up some sort of lurgy. So, the weekend wasn't so great for him. And then because I was trying to help make it easier for him, ( As he was getting up from his deathbed sick bed to unpack the van and take it back to the hire place before it closed midday on Saturday.) I ended up doing more than I should both on Saturday and on Sunday. So, I have been fighting a migraine brought on by bad neck and shoulders.

But anyway, more than you wanted to know. He was better and back at work today. Tonight I have cut out 2 more girls skirts from off cuts of things I have made for myself...while I was waiting for it to be a reasonable time to give up for the night.

At present the 'African chair' is holding the small fibre optic Christmas tree...due to no one being up to climbing in the loft after all the house clearing.

and now to bed.

Friday, 14 December 2012

girl's skirt 4

If you are counting, this is the 4th skirt I am doing for Ethiopia.

I took the wrap skirt, cut off the waistband and ties, opened up the waist darts, sewed the wrap ends together as a seam, turned down the top about 2cm and put in elastic!

Just enough of something to do today after fighting the crowds at Sainsbury. That place sure is noisy. It does my head in. Usually the Thoughtful Man does the shopping, but he is being thoughtful for others today. It was a relief to get to Aldi, which is the shop near me, for a quiet chanceto think about what I needed for next week when I start shopping cooking. (sorry, my head was on the news when I typed that.)

Just gutted about the stuff happening in Connecticut. I know people who live in that area. All you can do is Pray.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Too cold

I couldn't face going out in the cold to shop. I don't go into town normally, why would I want to go when it is so cold?

So, I played with some origami ideas that may lead to some ideas for new work - or may not. somehow when I do what the picture shows in the book, it comes out not quite the same. maybe I am not serious enough? I think you have to be serious to do proper origami.

I also dug around in boxes to find a few 'already made into clothes but relegated to possible fabric sources'. and also a couple lengths of fabric that will make good girl's skirts. (not skirts for good girls, but good skirts for girls)

Loved the fabric on the black and gold weird trousers so picked them up in a charity shop or something ages ago.

Made this sample length of paisley fabric into a wrap skirt even greater ages ago.
Both will transform pretty easily into girl's skirts.

Then bundled up warm enough to go round to my friend's house for the evening - just me on my own. That was a nice change. I haven't done something like that for absolute years. Her house was warmer than mine anyway and not more than something like a 2 minute walk.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

jeans bags

Some time last Spring I was asked to teach a refashion sort of workshop. So, I did one about taking a pair of jeans and turning it into a bag.

I posted quite a while ago about the first one of these I made to hold a project for City and Guilds. For a very long time, it was the only bag I used for going down to the shops. (Oops, looks like it needs thrown in the wash!)

1-Chop the legs off the bottom of a small size pair of trousers. This bag was made from a small size pair of stretch velvet trousers. Chop it just above the crutch.

2-Turn inside out and stitch across the bottom.

3-Make straps from strips of fabric from the legs. Pin to see where you like them placed. Then stitch them on firmly.

4- If you like, stitch round pockets, along straps and other areas with a machine stitch or by hand.

5-If you really want to get funky, make a bag pocket and stitch it to the inside parts of the zip...then open the zip to have a cool pocket so you can get to your phone or keys easier.

I made a few samples for my workshop using some of my son's old jeans. I added simple trims because it was only a 2 hour workshop. They have been on the 'to do' pile since then because I wanted to add more to them.

So, yesterday and today I have been working on them. I hope to use them for gifts.

Here are a couple with lace trim.


and they all have the secret pocket where the fly zip is.

I had also developed a different type of bag from the left over legs. These I trimmed with fabric.
I really like how they came out. They have a large pocket on the front and on the back.

Not sure if I will make any more before Christmas or not. Those were the ones cut. I need to work out who else needs presents. My Thoughtful Man and a Certain Young Man have gone to York to move my mother-in-law's things to different locations now that she is in a home. I may spend tomorrow or Friday doing Christmas baking!

I am going to add this to Off the Wall Friday when it comes up. It is over at Nina-Marie's.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Toy run 2012

A couple of my friends went on the Toy Run again this year. Last year Eric went with Niki, this year his wife Jackie went.

Jackie as Father Christmas and Niki as a Christmas Pudding.

Eric getting Jackie sorted on the 'wrapped' bike.

and off they go.

oh and then our friend Jan headed home...we said she was the 'Elf'.

It was a good day for it as the weather was more mild than it has been.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Blue flowered blouse

I finnally had time for a photo of the blue flowered blouse being worn. I am happy with the length. I did find that due to the hip width, now I definitely needed the darts sewn to give it some shaping, so I did that today.

As I think I said before, I love this!

Also today I hemmed the red wool skirt. Put buttonholes and buttons on the sleeves of the red dress. Finished the hem of the girl's red skirt. Put an elastic waist and a hem in the yellow girl's skirt!
Also, changed the length of the red herringbone skirt from some time ago. I had made it just a bit too long in the search for the right length not to ride halfway up my thigh when I would sit down. I felt really dowdy in it when standing up, so I took it up about 3 cm. Not much, but should be better. I had done a bound hem before, so this change meant taking the binding off and reapplying it in the new place before trimming the extra and then restitching the hem. It will be worth it though.

So, lots of finishing and sorting in here today!

Oh and a doctor visit. Hurrah! blood tests mean I need more thyroxin, so that should give me the bit of boost I have been feeling I need. (I had thyroid surgery about 25 years ago, and have been on synthetic thyroxin ever since. My idea of enough and their idea of enough never seem to match. But this is a new Doctor. I already like him!)

Sunday, 9 December 2012

missing pockets

As I said, I am making some skirts for the children's village in Ethiopia where my friend works with orphans. They get alot for under 10 year olds and need some things for pre-teens and young ladies.

Someone gave me a pile of fabric. While I still had the overlocker threaded with red, I decided to see what other red I could quickly stitch up. When I pulled out this red corduroy from the pile to see if I could make a skirt, I realised it was already cut away as a skirt. However, it was cut at the hip area to have inset pockets. So, here is a bit of a tutorial on how to cut and develop an inset hip pocket. (like jeans pockets)

So, I found some red in my stash that would go. I intended to gather the waist, just because I don't know who this will fit. So, I laid the skirt onto the fabric and drew in the missing line - up from the side seam and out from the waist seam. (I was using the fabric doubled so as to do the other pocket at the same time.) If you were not planning on having a gathered waist, you would need to give a bit of hip shaping to the outside edge of this piece rather than go straight up. You could copy the hip area of a similar skirt you like.

I used a pocket shape I already had to draw in the bottom of the pocket. Basically you need to make sure you make it deep enough for stuff not to fall out. you could even do it with a square bottom if you like.
Next, I cut the same shape from red lining fabric.
However, the lining would be the front section of the actual pocket bag. It needs to be sewn to the actual skirt fabric. So I laid it under the skirt front and traced the pocket edge onto the piece.

I cut the pocket lining on this line.
Again, this was two layers of lining so to make the other pocket. If I were making this from scratch, I would need to remember to account for seam allowances, but this skirt had been cut from a pattern already, so had the seam allowances already cut on to it.

Next I laid the lining right side together with the skirt and sewed the seam.
Then pressed and turned. I also overlocked the seam, but you wouldn't really need to, because it will be in a place where there is no friction. I top-stitched the edge just to make sure the lining won't roll forward.

Next I sewed the back pocket piece (from the stash fabric) to the lining pocket section and finished the seam edge. The pocket on the left shows the back pocket section sewn to the lining pocket section. The pocket on the right shows the whole pocket folded back into place.
Now, the skirt front was ready to sew to the back section of the skirt.

and so here it is!
I used some of the stash fabric to make a channel for the elastic on the outside, and also some to put on the hem edge of the skirt. This helps the whole thing look like it was meant and not that I replaced missing pockets!

a close up of the pocket.

Because this was not cut as a gathered skirt to start with, I also put a zip in the centre back. It already had a kick pleat, so I sewed that together as well.

Friday, 7 December 2012

on a red kick

another mini-wardrobe?

one red wool skirt with black lining... needs lining stuck in, waistband and hem.
I got rid of a red skirt I had made a while ago because it was too snug and became too short when sitting down. So, I wanted to replace it. This red wool is lovely!

one red dress (same as the red girl's skirt) needs buttons on cuffs and hemmed. (okay, M'Lady is not zoomed out to my size.)
not so sure I like this. So, I will have to see how accessories work. I haven't properly tried it on yet, only to see if it was okay before putting in the sleeves.

I am beginning to discover that a sheath dress, even in princess line, is not really me. I think I am going to try a 2 piece dress...maybe it will work better. After all, I am a skirt and blouse girl. But, it will make a nice Christmasy outfit anyway.

Tomorrow is the first Saturday in 4 weeks I haven't got some sort of meeting! So, I will putter in here and get at least one of all these things finished.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

yellow girl's skirt

Amongst other things, including starting a refashion of a t-shirt I no longer wear, I started sewing up the other skirt I cut out the other day.

I decided to leave the pockets off this one. The main reason was that this fabric was a bit too sheer, so I used some remnant of a cream blouse fabric which was also too sheer for wearing on it's own. I have made a lining for the skirt, but I am sewing them together as one. Which would have done my head in to add pockets.
This yellow skirt still needs the elastic waist and a solution for the 'two layers together' hem.

In order to work out how much remnant I had, I needed to cut out the blouse, too! I have a plan to layer it with a solid. When I get to that, I will show you what and why.

I got some advice and some measurements from a lady called Jenny who lives in Australia and sews for girls ballet. Her measurements will be more in line with the size of the Ethiopian girls than standard measurement charts because girls of pre-teen/early teen years who dance are generally slim.

I was concerned that there wasn't enough room at the bottom of the skirt for movement. Jenny pointed out that Winifred Aldrich says in one place that a 'slightly gathered skirt' wants more like 12 cm altogether added to front and 12 cm to back. I did 10cm on back and 6 cm to front. So, I have added to the patterns and will cut the next ones a bit bigger.

So, there are several projects on the go in here at present. Tomorrow I will have to resolve some of them before I begin to get overwhelmed!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

red girl's skirt

Edit: I got the blouse done and it is in my wardrobe! I need to just wear it and not 'wait for something special'!
Got the first skirt sewn for the Ethiopian charity. I need to hem it up, but am getting some input on length measurements for mid-calf for pre-teens. I think it will have a deep hem for letting out.

This is the fabric that was £1 a metre, (not the wool, but I think I only paid a bit for that anyway at a fabric sale somewhere.) I don't know the fibre content of this one, but there are flecks of shiney bits in the weave. I have a dress cut and partially sewn in this too. And I think I have enough to make another girl's skirt.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Blue Flowery blouse - 2

Over a month ago, I started this blouse with the blue flower fabric I have been saving all these  years. Then things got rather busy!

But today I put on the cuffs and collar and front button stands. and hemmed it up. Tomorrow the buttonholes and it will be done!
I love it already!

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Name Badges 2

The other day I posted about the little gingerbread ladies we were making for name badges for a Ladies Christmas tea today.

Here is how they turned out.
We even got the men in on helping cut out the wee aprons and the felt!

Here is a bit of discussion when we were preparing - about something monumental I expect! ;-)

Here is everyone enjoying the tea!

I love this meeting every year. It was a priviledge to host it. It is just a really special time for the ladies from some of the different churches we know to get together and sing and enjoy one another. To feel special in a way that sets you up for the busy weeks to follow.

And here is my name badge.

Can you see? I wore the outfit I made in January.

Now that was funny. I have lost a bit of weight since then, so here I was this morning in my slip sewing darts in the waistband to get it to fit...and even then I had to find a belt so I was not having to worry about losing my skirt when I was up in front! LOL

Hope you find something special that helps you get into the spirit of the season so you can spread a bit of joy to others, too.

I am linking to this week's Off the Wall Friday at Nina-Marie's.