Monday, 31 October 2016

Autumn Reading and a Book Challenge

Today I thought I would share what I have been reading this last week or so and also a blog I found which features some interesting reading challenges.  The blog can be found here . It is called purple ink studios and the challenge I like is below, it began in January so I'm very late starting but after looking down the list I've read most of the categories through the year anyway so it is just a case of filling in the blanks. I have put a mark beside the book genres/themes that I have read and I will aim to read a selection from the ones that are left over the next two months.

copied from Purple Ink Studios
Now I am not sure what to do about a book you were supposed to read in school but didn't as I always read what I was supposed to, along with a load of rubbish as well as a teenager. Covering the classics I bought a couple from the charity shop at three for a fiver.

I am currently reading Madame Bovary, Tess of the D'Urbervilles I read years ago but thought I would read it again in the coming months. 

I picked this one up because I enjoyed A country doctor's notebook, and also the TV adaption of it.

This past week I also read Outwitting the Devil which has only just been published a few years ago despite being written many years before, apparently due to family fears of what the church would make of it.  It is really just Napolean Hill's idea of what a conversation of this sort might be like and also his own ideas about what faith is and what an irrational thing fear is and how it can control and hold us back.  Some bits were interesting, others were repetitive and pompous and depending on your viewpoint quite in contrast to many ideas on faith whatever your religion.


I suppose this could be my banned book as he was never permitted to publish it while he was alive.  So I have a few ideas there of what I can be reading over the next few moths it is good to curl up with a book, and I especially like to discover new favourites and new ideas.






Sunday, 30 October 2016

Black Dress Déjà Vu

While we were off on our travels yesterday we happened to walk past a Next store and what did I see in the window? A black party dress almost the same as the one I made for a Christmas party two yeas ago.  I found this very strange as I didn't copy any image at the time or use a pattern I just worked with the fabric that I had.  I have to say I only really wore it over the Christmas season that year as it is just that sort of dress, but if you can make things quite economically it is not such a big deal.  I'm sure it will have an outing again this year.

Here is the dress I made two years ago...

It cost £3.50 for the fringe and the jersey underneath I already had, the neck on mine is slightly different but other than that take away the belt and you have this...


This Next dress is advertised at £70 pounds so quite a difference especially if you only wear it a handful of times.  Now ok you have a super model and lovely photo shoot showing off this dress but ultimately the design is the same.

You can view the original post for my dress here, but this got me thinking that I may start and do a little post each month by choosing a  garment I like and then see how I can recreate it on the cheap or better still by recycling.  I will have a look around and see what I can come up with.

If some of you are already thinking about what you will wear for upcoming special occasions it might be an idea to have a look at what is out there and what you already have.  Can you change the neckline on a dress, add a panel, chiffon sleeves and different belts can all change the look of an item.  These ideas may save you over paying on an outfit that has a very short season.





Saturday, 29 October 2016

A Little Trip

We have just had a night away in a hotel just the two of us.  That is something we haven't  done since before the children were born so eighteen years, quite a long way to travel for one night but we enjoyed it.

Earlier in the year we were watching Location, Location, Location ( you know the one, where people often have budgets of about nine hundred thousand pounds and still act disappointed the whole time!) well on this occasion they featured Cheltenham and we thought it looked nice.  My husband booked it as a one off treat and my mum said she would stay the night with the children and dogs. 

We stayed in the Cheltenham Townhouse and it is such a lovely building, the area was called Pittville Lawn and the whole street was gorgeous with gates at the end and just a five minute walk into town.
I have taken a few photos of the street as it was so pretty...


The grey building at the end with the sign out front is the one we stayed in, very grand but if you lived there you wouldn't have a garden and I wouldn't like that.

This lovely property opposite was for rent, I bet they are asking a small fortune per month.

This is another row of townhouses, there are lots of buildings of this style around the town, they have a lovely feel to them.
I just liked the Autumn feel to this picture.

Anyway back now, and much as I enjoyed it, it was a bit far to return to unless you were in the area for longer, and of course there are other places to visit.  Next time it will be all of us including the dogs travelling somewhere new but not until next year.  It was good to do something different out of our usual routine.



Thursday, 27 October 2016

Another Little Make ( Make up Bag, Treat pouch)

I made this item last week but haven't shared it until now because I wanted to give it to my friend first. I have made a pouch like this before and I use mine as a make up bag but the one here I had in mind that she could keep cat treats in it and hang it up.  My dogs have some treats near the back door that I entice them in with when it's cold and they are keeping me standing in the doorway too long.  So that was my thinking, as I don't have a cat I don't know if this is a similar problem.

Here are the pieces cut out and pressed, I have had the ribbon for some time and did buy it with my friend in mind.  It is fully lined with satin so it can be used for make up if need be.

 The little bit of ribbon that I put on the zipper pully is from those tabs you get inside your clothes to keep them on the hanger, does anyone ever really use those?  I always take them out and save the bits of ribbon.

I hope it is useful for something anyway.  As a certain season is approaching which I shall not mention it might be an idea for gifts for some of you.  I know a lot of people are starting on their handmade gifts around now and some of you are already well on your way with them.

  If anyone has any ideas for what to make for men/boys that would be useful.  I would really like to make a shirt for my husband but I know if I spent ages on it and he never wore it I would be a bit peeved,  shirts are a lot of work.   My sons are older now but when they were younger I would make them dressing up  outfits and toys of characters, now teenagers all gifts involve some sort of wifi connection.

Having said that I did see this very useful idea on pinterest...


Now the amount of times I have to say have you got your keys this might be just the thing for both of them. To be honest though there is really never any worry about a teenager forgetting their phone.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Apron from Recycled Materials

Today I thought I would get to work making an apron and make use of my new binding foot. Oh dear what a waste of time that was, it was supposed to be compatible with my Toyota machine, well I cannot get it to sew with that thing on.  I followed the online instructions I saw but no way, it sticks up and just won't feed through with it on.  So I put my regular foot back on and had the binding stitched on and nice and neat in no time, so much for time saving devices eh?  It was a pound so what did I expect.

I had a look at a few ideas on pinterest and got some fabric out and had a play around with it, here is my idea...

I made my own binding from one of my husbands old shirts, I just used the sleeves leaving plenty of fabric for another project.  I later moved the pocket on the image and put it to one side, I also added an applique bird for a bit of colour on the front.  The little images at the bottom are aprons I found on pinterest. So gorgeous and I think good enough to go out in but my son said no mum they are not, so that is me told!

Making the binding was therapeutic if time consuming and I did keep getting my fingers too close to the iron when pressing, I may do another post on this if anyone is interested.  It is a good way to use up fabric and would also make a nice gift for friends who sew.

Here is my messy process of deciding what to do with what...
All pieces  were then pressed, folded etc, ready to use.

I quite enjoyed making this and wonder if my friends are in need of aprons for baking.
I did realise after I took this Photo that my bird was in fact blind, so I hastily sewed on a sequin for an eye.

That little dart in the middle of the top of the apron was a remainder from when the fabric was originally trousers.  Here the bird is still waiting for me to cotton on and give her an eye. (Cotton on, ha, oh never mind)
Lovely binding I think without the aid of the special foot.

I didn't do a tie behind the neck as it is for me, I just measured and then stitched it so it would just slip over my head.
Pocket was trimmed off the trouser leg of the fabric I used then stitched on with a feather stitch in pink in the new location which you can't quite see here.

 I thought I would add an outdoor shot while it is still fine enough to do so.

It feels good to have reused some items to create something I will use, as always I also enjoy looking at what others have made to gain some inspiration but like to put my own twist on things and of course where possible try to use some recycled fabric.  The chambray was a pair of trousers a friend gave to me quite some time ago, knowing I would find a use for the fabric.

Here is a little shot of the binding all wound up and neat...
How useful is that? So don't throw those old shirts away.






Tuesday, 25 October 2016

A New Sewing Tool and Improving on a Project

A little goody arrived in the post this morning in the shape of a new sewing machine foot.  I ordered it a while ago and I was starting to wonder where it had got to, then as if by magic it dropped through the letter box. It is a binding foot and after watching a little demonstration of one I thought I would try it as it was inexpensive from ebay. 

In the past I have never really bought myself these time saving tools and often look on as fellow dressmakers whip out an array of sewing feet that I can't even name. Although it has never held me back I would like to start and become more familiar with these items.

So the first thing I am going to do after playing around with it for a  while is make an apron, not too exciting I know but as I keep splashing myself every time I cook or bake it is the obvious choice, plus lots of binding needed on one of those.  I will be repurposing an old shirt to cut my strips of binding.

I finally got around to a little job that has been bothering me for a while. In 2014 I made a black denim jacket that I love you can see it here, and although I have worn it lots each time I do I think I really should change the lining.  You see when I made the jacket I had the idea of lining it with Paul Smith shirting, which is lovely but if you wear anything with sleeves it grabs as you pull the jacket on.  Of course this is why we have lovely silky linings.  So while it looked lovely in the jacket it wasn't altogether practical.  So while I was shopping a couple of weeks ago I bought some lining fabric in a lovely blue and set to work.


Of course it took longer than I thought, the jacket pieces were many and I had to unpick all the stitching of the original lining where it meets the outer jacket, but I did opt to leave it in as an extra layer.


Some time later and here it is finished, it slides on and off easily now so no need to worry about those sleeves.  But I really should make sure things are hanging correctly on the hanger before I take the photographs.



Monday, 24 October 2016

Organising, Reusing and Books

This past month I read 'The life changing magic of tidying up' by Marie Kondo, it must be popular as I have had it on order for ages at the library.  I thought I would give it a go even though I find it difficult to see magic in that subject.

I sat and read the whole book early one Saturday morning, not because I was so riveted but rather I was busy looking for the magic.  For me sadly there wasn't any but I did pick up a few tips which is always good.

The books goes through Marie's life from  early childhood and how she has always loved organising and tidying for all of her family. I have to say I am impressed that she has made such a huge success from something that she loves,  for it to have taken root in her childhood and she has built on that enjoyment with a business and a writing career.  If you watch any of her organising videos she is big on rolling clothes and items to maximise storage space, this is something I have taken on board as I was having issues with finding tights and t-shirts in my wardrobe because I kept them stacked on a hanging shelf unit. 

In this case it has made life easier if not exactly magic.


The good thing about the book is that Marie admits over the years  she has tried may methods of storage but the best thing to use is boxes, shoe boxes if you have them.  I loved that as so often we are told that if we want to get on top of things we just need to buy a certain object to solve all our problems.  When all you really need to do is utilise what you already have on hand.  So with that in mind I went my wardrobe pulled out all of my tops and tights and grabbed a few boxes.. A couple would not fit back on the shelf unit without a bit of a snip so I  cut them down and taped them back together.. Long sleeved t-shirts were rolled and put on one box, tights rolled and placed in two others and strappy tops in the last, and they al fit neatly back on the hanging shelf.

Bobbly tights!

If I need these items now I just slide the box out to get what I need and I can see clearly what is there, whereas when you stack items you have to hunt through the pile.  Marie does have some slightly odd ideas about thanking your clothes for their service as you put them away, I wont be doing that but it doesn't hurt to feel gratitude when so many have so little.

Overall there are some common sense ideas that we just fail to see or use sometimes and it is a nice little reminder that freeing the clutter does make your mind more peaceful, again all respect to Marie for finding her passion and calling but is it magic?   I really feel that we are always learning something and I did learn some new strategies here.

My next book 'Mindset Matters Most' I read over the last few days, I felt this promised a lot more than it delivered.  After reading the reviews for this book and some saying it was the best book they had ever read I felt excited when it arrived.

I love books on mind matters and positivity and while many present the same ideas  they are often in a new way with new little gems thrown in.  I thought this was going to be like that, it wasn't.  The first half of the book keeps repeating what it is not going to tell you to do, how it is not self hypnosis, thinking good things into being etc. Right near the end you are given the tips on what you should do each day to reach your potential and they are exactly that, visualising, writing a script, self talk  and so on, all the stuff the book claimed it wasn't.  The only disclaimer being that of course you need to take action, you can't just will success your way.  Not wanting to be negative though,  if this is the first book of this style that you are going to read then you will probably find lots of useful insights, it is just that I have read a few that are almost identical. 








Sunday, 16 October 2016

Vegan Salted Caramel Chocolate Cheesecake

I have been making lots of new things lately mainly on the food front.  One of my favourites at the moment is walnut cheese I absolutely love it, this week I also made a cashew cheese which is good in lasagne but not as great on toast.

The other day I saw this recipe for Vegan salted caramel cheesecake and I had to try it out.  All natural ingredients so you know exactly what you are eating and it is another raw recipe so mostly blender and freezer.  The most time consuming thing is bringing it all together, you can find the recipe here at My Vibrant Kitchen

Here is my version not as deep as the one in the recipe but my tin was large.
 In the photo on the blog it has got fancy drizzled chocolate on top, I chose to just grate some.

Now I enjoyed it but I found it sweet, that is probably because I don't eat many sweet things anymore and you really do adapt, you do, trust me.  So if I was going to make it again I would probably leave out the maple syrup altogether but that is just my taste.  It really does serve ten, there were five of us for lunch today and there is half left, you don't need a bigger slice as it is rich but all healthy ingredients.

Last night I watched a film I have been wanting to see since I saw it advertised, Captain Fantastic.  I really enjoyed although my husband said what a load of nonsense.  It is about a man bringing his children up in a remote place, home educating and away from society. The children are fit, intelligent, resourceful and of course a little different but I loved the way the film contrasted the way of life between the family and that of their in-laws.  The views on over sedated, shopping addicted masses I can relate to, however the opening scene with a slaughtered animal was a bit much for a vegetarian!  Also there is a very anti Christian message running through the film but I can deal with that, I accept the views of others and people often make some very good points even if I don't agree.  But in one scene a child states 'we don't hate anyone do we? Except Christians' whoa! hold on Hollywood, I don't hate anyone at all, so what's all that about then some agenda going on I feel.
So now you know what to expect, it really is an interesting film.




Little Bird Black Dress

It seems to me that I may have a bit of a thing for fabric with birds on it, I don't know why I have only just realised this.  I pulled ...