July 31, 2006

The first movie I ever saw at the cinema was The Slipper and the Rose. And I've loved it ever since. It's a musical Cinderella and, as any good musical should be, both hilarious (sometimes unintentionally) and tear-jerkingly sad.

Tie One On's theme this month is musicals...

The Slipper and the Rose features plenty of aprons, most especially during the song 'Position and Positioning' which takes place below stairs at the Prince's castle (the pictures at the bottom of the poster).

All the costumes are gorgeous and sumptuous and the servants clothes are great for swishing and totally useless for working in.

I've made a purple satin apron with decorative stitching around the edge. I also made the swishy red satin circle skirt underneath but it's not quite finished so it's a good job you can't see it properly :)

I have absolutely no idea when I will wear a purple satin apron but perhaps domestic goddesses need that bit of gorgeousness?

This was the first thing I've sewn using my new sewing machine. Trust me, satin is not a good fabric to test with...

July 30, 2006

I always thought jam-making was akin to alchemy, secrets known only to silver-haired members of the Women's Institute.

But... shhh! don't tell anyone... it's dead easy to be this form of domestic goddess. All it requires is a 4-year old having fun at a fruit farm, followed by a big pan. I'm sure if I was serious about it I'd have stirred it more often and used a thermometer and all carefully balanced flavours but the ramdom throwing everything in tastes yummy.

July 24, 2006

I'm sure when I was little the school summer holidays were only about a week and a half... This the first one I've faced as a parent and those six and a half weeks look mighty long on the calendar.

Still, DD has my crafting all lined up. I'm not allowed to make any creative decisions myself but I have to do all the boring stuff (i.e. the work...).

There were tears all round on Friday and our vases-made-out-of-a-postal-tube-and-some-plastic-cups held up better than I expected against the stacks of chocolates and wine bottles.

And today I got to make my first quilt. I hope seeing Belle and Sleeping Beauty in (their eggbox) bed together doesn't traumatise anyone too much (or remind you of Love Island)...

I would love to be a quilter but the sheer size of a real quilt is a bit of a challenge for instant-gratification me. I loved that I could make this in about an hour while watching telly. Either the Polly Pockets are going to get a lot of quilts, or I need to figure out how to attach them together.

July 16, 2006

What do you mean, June's over already? :)

Here's my contribution to the blue month of Project Spectrum. Influenced by the picture Akbar Witnesses the Drowning of Two Members of his Retinue from the V&A, I knit my square for Knit a River.

Moss stitch (quite rough, that river), Twilley's Freedom Wool.

Knit a River are continuing to collect 'protest' blue squares until the beginning of next year if you too want to knit your governmental pressure for water aid.

July 15, 2006

I'm going to gross someone out here, aren't I?

How to make an evening bag from the unused contents of your lingerie drawer...

you need:
- a pair of knickers (panties, briefs)
- a piece of matching, solid cloth, approximately the same size as the knickers
- half a metre of 1cm wide ribbon
- 2 bra underwires (you can buy these in haberdasheries if you don't want to dismantle a bra)
- half a metre of thick elastic thread
- small safety pin

This is not a good project to get rid of those grey-ing knickers that really ought to be replaced. And there's no way it's going to work with a thong...

It is, however, an ideal way of using pretty knickers bought by you or your partner in an optimistic moment of sexy lingerie that now languish at the back of the drawer. Shortie knickers with flimsy gussets work best: the longer the leg, the deeper the bag that can be made.

Here's what to do:

Turn the knickers inside-out, cut off any labels. Match up the top edges (this will make the bottom edges sit a little out of shape), pin the front and back together just above the gusset.

Cut a straight line across the bottom from one side of the knickers to the other. The cut should retain the full length at the sides and remove the gusset completely.

Sew this line, leaving 0.5cm seam allowance. This needs to be a strong seam: if using a machine sew the seam twice, if by hand use very short stitches. If the fabric will fray or is very delicate, zigzag or blanket stitch the edges.

Cut the lining to size. The lining gives the bag its strength so it needs to be made from a solid fabric. I used a piece cut from a tshirt which matched perfectly but the stretchiness can mean the bag gets pulled out of shape. A canvas or upholstery cotton might work better.

You need two rectangle shapes (or a larger one folded in half): width, the measurement across the top edge of the knickers plus 1cm seam allowance: length, the measurement from the top edge of the knickers to your new seam plus 3cm for the elastic channel.

Sew one side of the lining, leaving a 0.5cm seam allowance (these seam allowances are small because otherwise they will show. You can always cut bigger and trim after sewing). If the material will fray, zigzag or blanket stitch the edge.

Turn the top edge over and then over again to create the channel for the elastic. The turnover should be on the 'wrong' side: the same side as the seam. Sew along the bottom of the channel. If you use fabric from old clothing like I did, save yourself a job by using the existing hem turnover as the channel.

Sew the bottom of the lining and three quarters up the other side. If the material will fray, zigzag or blanket stitch the edge.

Turn the knickers the right way out and insert the lining, 'wrong' side to 'wrong' side. Turn over the top edge of the knickers and pin to the top edge of the channel on the lining. Sew along this edge. You may find it easier to handsew this seam.

Leave a cm or so not sewn on either side of the unfinished lining seam.

Measure the length between the points of a bra underwire. Cut the elastic twice this length plus 6cm. Attach a safety pin to one end and then push it through the channel.

Once it's through, knot the ends tightly leaving about 1cm of tail on each end and distribute the gathers evenly. Tuck the elastic in and handsew the final piece of lining together and to the top edge of the knickers.

At this point, the knickers will be wider at the bottom than the lining. Push your finger into the bottom corner of the lining and meet it with the same bottom corner of the knickers. Pin and make a small stitch attaching these together. Do the same with the other corner, then distribute the gathers evenly.

Cut the ribbon into two equal pieces and fold each piece it in half lengthwise and pin together. Sew the edges together. I found this much easier to do by hand than by machine. Feed the underwires through the tube you have made (the ribbon will twist a little) and sew the tube shut leaving a tail of about 2cm at each end. Trim off any frayed ends.

Position the underwires centrally on each side. Fold the tails of the ribbon in half and pin to the lining so that the end of the tail is undermost, next to the lining. Don't try and sew the underwire 'handles' to the knickers, it will put too much strain on the delicate fabric. Sew all the way round the ribbon tail, firmly attaching the handles to the bag.

There, you're done. Go out and let your knickers have some fun :)


July 09, 2006

I've spent most of last week installing an exhibition about the sixties and despite many traumas it has come together brilliantly.

Yesterday was the opening day and L did a fab and groovy job of painting 60s designs on all comers. It was great watching her: she had a true artist's confidence of line.

Now that tattooing has almost officially become an art form, I wonder if body painting might be the next 'is it art' question? It'll certainly be celebrated today at the World Cup final.

July 08, 2006

More wonderful parcels :)

My One Skein secret pal sent these lovely things and a great insight into the day she bought them. It was so interesting to discover a little more about her. The yarn is unbelievably cuddly and I love the card - it had a pattern printed on it!

Sandra sent me these magazines as part of the Mag swap (there were also beautiful badges made with liberty fabric and oh-so-yummy Belgian chocolate). There's more details at the Flickr group.

I was blown away by French crafting magazines: it's an entirely different mind-set to the ones you can buy at a newsagents in the UK. This spread just summed it up for me: how to make a mosaic candle holder next to an advert for gorgeous lingerie. I don't think UK crafters are expected to want nice knickers...

I've been so lucky in my swap partners so far: I've so much enjoyed discovering new ideas and new ways of doing things.

But I'm really struggling with the person I'm supposed to be spoiling in the One Skein swap. I've sent 2 parcels now and not got any response until I've enquired a good while later if they've been received. She's posts a lot on her blog and her forum so I can see she's got lots of things on the go keeping her busy, but it's not like I want a fancy response. A quick acknowledgement would be nice, a thank you even nicer. I feel like I'm being petulant about it, but when you spend time and money on someone you don't know it's nice to get some sort of feedback. I'm really unsure if I should bother with the August bit of the swap - what do you think?

July 06, 2006

L is for... locally grown vegetables
(yes the alphabet is running backwards for a bit...)

I've always been pretty hazy about which things are in season when: I'm a child of the seventies, our birthright was to have anything we wanted on our supermarket shelves whenever we wanted it!

I didn't even know fish had seasons until I discovered the BBC's monthly guide to in-season foods. This is a great reference and because it links straight to their recipe database, it inspired me to try new things. It's forced me not to be stuck in the rut of grabbing the same old apples, bananas, carrots, lettuce etc.

And, of course, it radically cuts down on the food miles. I commuted 70 miles on one of the busiest motorways in the UK for two days of the week up until last year. I was constantly cursing the lorries. But there again I was still automatically buying apples in July - not because I desperately wanted apples, but because I just always bought apples. Some of those lorries (and more lorries in New Zealand or South Africa) were because of my buying habits.

Last year I discovered Northern Harvest, who deliver food from their own farm and those around them to homes in a radius of 50 miles. Suddenly there's excitement when something first comes into season and desperation to buy lots of something as they warn there's only a week left (we had a LOT of pears a month or so ago). I get to choose my vegetables by COUNTY (not country) now.