Tuesday, 31 May 2016


Only a small hatch this year.   2 of the finally0fertile eggs hatched during the night, 3 more to go. 2 have pipped. 

The special chappy (offspring of Sasha-the-Incredibly-Lucky) in the one blue egg hasn't pipped yet... I hope he isn't going to be dead in shell.

Monday, 30 May 2016


Just a couple of cards made in the last week or so.

The first one was for my brother, who loves Salsa.   I originally made it on black felt with metallic thread, which takes quite a long time to stitch out as the machine has to be slowed down to prevent the thread sgredding.    It looked OK, but when I turned it over to get it out of the frame, I was startled by the back:  black bobbin thread on white stabiliser. It looked really effective,  so I redid it on white felt with black thread. 

And then a Wedding Anniversary card.   This came out so much better than I anticipated.

Tee'd off

Well, I made a sleeveless version of my tee shirt, in excessively stretchy Jersey fabric.   It is far too clingy. It fits snugly over my bust - which is OK - and then snugly over my ample tum - which is not.

It is full of faults - the fabric is upside down;  there is a pinch in the neck binding;  there are a few problems with the second armhole binding. 

But I don't care. I'm really happy, because it's also full of successes. 

I created a pattern from an existing tee shirt, and then I added a gather at the neckline.  To do that, I had to work it all out,  create a pattern for the gather,  then create  new pattern from the two combined.   I also managed to get it on to cardboard for posterity.

I've never made an item of clothing before (unless you count that double sided foldover apron).   I've never used jersey before.  I've never done armhole and neck binding before.     The list is almost endless.

I used my sewing machine to pre-sew the seams, so I could check that I was not making a complete cockup. Then I used my overlocker.  The overlocking on the inside seams is beautiful, very professional.  (Mainly down to the fab-ocity of my overlocker rather than my ability).

I did the happy dance when I'd finished it. 

I don't care that I won't wear it.  I've learned loads from it, including what to look out for on bought patterns.

I bought an online more traditionally shaped tee shirt pattern, with sleeves, designed for women more my shape.   I'm part way through it, and I'll share a bit more when I've finished it.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Just in time. Again.

After my bleeding incident, I attempted the case again.   I used a different stabiliser, and I didn't listen to myself so I used interfacing as well.

It has a tall back pocket for the phone, secured by a tab and kam snap.
On the front it has three credit card pockets (not much use really for a child), and a zipped pocket at the bottom. 

The resulting case was still very thick (so thick that I couldn't quite turn the bottom corners out), but it was otherwise OK.

I did have to re-do a step, because the repurposed jeans fabric frayed like mad. For one of the pieces, between me starting with the project and me finishing it,  one edge had frayed so badly that it was significantly smaller than when I started, and the line of stitching missed it.   Luckily, I had a bit of room on the other side, so I unpicked it, moved it, re-sewed it.

 I could only find heart shaped kam snaps in that particular shade of pink and, of course, I put the blumming thing on upside down. It wouldn't have been noticeable on a round snap. Never mind. 

Finally, I thought about the strap.  I tried to make this in the denim, but it was just too thick and bulky.  So, I used the ballerina fabric, and this worked really well.  I had no idea how long it needed to be.   I put out a call for help, could anyone measure their 10 year old child and tell me how long the strap needed to be? - and got no help and some unhelpful comments. 

I found the leftover pink vest I bought for my neice's daughter, so I measured that... then I measured my husband (no boobs), and picked a length somewhere in the middle.

Miss T. loved it.  Really, really loved it.   It was a bit long, mainly because she is only 8 not 10 (rolls eyes) but it still fit for purpose.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Bleedin' careless

I've managed to achieve 3 separate bloody sewing incidents today.

Firstly, I was looking for some stabiliser in my new embroidery storage. I  have two rolls of stabiliser on a special holder with cutter, like you get in post rooms.  I forgot that the edge of the cutter is serrated and sharp, and I manged to catch the back of my hand.  

3 fingers bled quite a lot in the time it took me to get dowanstairs, open the plaster drawer, get the plasters out, and work out how to open them.

A little later, I managed to miss the end of my fabric  and nick the back of my index finger when using a rotary cutter.  That only bled a little bit.

And, finally, I was making a phone cross body case for my Great Neice.  The emebroidery machine needle was about to become entangled in a particularly thick bit of sewing, so I moved the fabric.  

Yes, of course I stopped the needle first, I'm not stupid.

The fabric was caugt around the embroidery foot, so I wiggled it and snipped until it got loose.  Then, to get it off, I used the foor up/down  button to drop the embroidery foot.   The needle went down at the same time, and got the side of my index finger.   That didn't bleed much and I thought it was OK.

It did, however, bleed profusely when I was turning the damned case the right way out.  If it wasn't for the blood stains, the case would be quite sweet.  

I used denim from an old pair of jeans, and some pretty ballet-related fabric.   The recipe also called for stabiliser, and I actually had the right one in my stash!    However, I think the denim was plenty thick enough with out the stabiliser,  so when I make it again, I think I'll omit the stabiliser.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

More stuff

Took time out to visit Windsor Horse Show on Friday. It's been 5? (maybe 10!) years since I last went.  It was in it's new location, so it can't have been more than 12 years.  The children bought me membership for this year, so we could go on any day(s).   Wednesday was cancelled, Thursday we had some other stuff we needed to do,  so we went on Friday.   Weather was glorious - warm but not baking,  and we had a good time.

We couldn't go yesterday (Saturday) so I gave my tickets to my cousin's wife, B,  and daughter,  Miss .  Miss T is just learning to ride, and she's about the age when I first went to RWHS (co-incidentally it was Miss T's Nanna,  my aunt,  who took me).

B and Miss T returned my tickets last night.   It's my cousin's birthday today, and I managed to complete my cousin's birthday card, just in time for them to take it home with them.

 Like my DSIL, he loves fishing (as does his daughter, Miss T), so I used the same template as I used for DSIL's card.

 I changed the child into a girl by using pink.  Luckily for me, Miss T has short hair, so I didn't have to try and lengthen it!

I also learned from my experience creating DSIL's card, and used a light colour for the text.

Today I've been attempting to create a pattern from an existing T shirt.  I've done the back piece, and it's looking quite reasonable (so far anyway).     I've still got the front and the sleeves to do, and these are both much trickier because they are gathered.

The picture is from my first attempt at this on Thursday. .   I wasn't sure I'd got the method right for dealing with the shoulder seam (which you can't get to in the first tracing).  

 I ended up cutting the pattern out and laying it back on the tee shirt, just to see if  I had got my alignment correct. I did a bit of a happy dance when it worked!

I redid it all today on fresh pattern paper (luckily for me my roll arrived on Friday),  and I used my learnings from the first attempt (for example: put in more check measuring points, and put them in at regular intervals,  to make it easier to align the adjustments).   It looks OK, although I am itching to cut it out to check.... I can't do that yet, though, I still have to draw on my seam allowance lines,  and I want to wait ungtil I've got the front done too.

The front (and the lseeves) are a bit trickier, because they have gathers.  This means there will be  fair but of adjustment drawings to do, and I just need a bit of time to psyche myself up.

I suspect I'm also procrastinating,because once I've got the pattern pieces......well, I'll have no excuse.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Running Behind

I'm running behind.  I've got 4 birthdays falling in the next 3 days, and I'm so far behind that I considered buying birthday cards instead of making them.   3 of them have to be in the post today.

At the last minute I found a really special design for DH's BIL. 

It was a strange website,  a chap's wife used to do embroidery (I think) and retired,  but some of the special designs he sold via a page on his website.  It was obviously a small hobby thing, as the designs are sent by email after payment (instead of being able to download).

I paid, and waited.  Then I realised that my email providers spam blocker is a bit aggressive, so I logged in to the control panel to look at the messages which were blocked (didn't even reach my spam filter).   It's always like looking under the sofa, or moving the fridge... a lot more c*ap than you want to see!

Anyway, I couldn't see anything untoward, so I emailed the chap to ask him to send.   Some time later, I emailed again.  Then I emailed again from a different email address today.

Then I realised he's in Canada, where the fires are, so he's probably got a bit more on his mind than worrying about a random purchase.

So, I had to whip up something else.... a bit simple, but it's the thought that counts. (Font is Whimsy from Bunnycup Embroidery)

I had already identified a design for my SIL.  I saw this last year and thought of him (and of my cousin). 

I was just typing that this would be great for the other card I have to make, except it needed to be a little girl...and I've just realised what I can do to make the boy into a girl.  I could make the trousers pink, and match the stripes in the tee shirt to the trousers.   The little lady in question has short hair, so that will probably work. 

I'll have a go later.

And, finally,  my DSS2.  This one was a bit of a pain.  The stitch time alone (never mind actually pulling the designs together first, hooping, changing threads, getting the colours coordinated in the right places, cutting and trimming) was 75 minutes.  I spent a couple of hours last night, and then some more time this morning.

Part of me thinkis I should just have gone for the R robot with text "ichard", which was my original plan... but the R robot was not obviously a robot   Anyway, it doesn't matter, it's done now.

So, I need to do one more card today, and then I can have a got at some clothes stuff...  I went on a "copy your clothes" workshop on Tuesday, and I need to try and get this Tee shirt done before I forget what I've learned!

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Darling Buds of May

I opened the back door the other day to be greeted by a cherry tree in full blossom.  It was amazing,  I don't think I've ever  seen quite so much blossom on it. (Photo doesn't do it justice)

The pear tree was similarly endowed, and the quince was starting t show blossom.

And then a couple of days later.... the blossom has done its job. It's browning, thinning, dropping off. It happened so quickly.

The other apple trees are developing blossom now.

Fingers crossed for plenty of fruit....I'd better think about what to make

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Eggs on

It's that time of year again.  

I'd arranged to have some eggs sired by Sasha - the original Sasha, that is, not the current girl who was hastily renamed Sasha when Sasha turned out to be a boy.  The joys of promising to name a chicken after someone!

I digress.

You may remember that Sasha, the original Sasha (let's not start that again) was very lucky: I managed to find someone who was willing to take in a Lavender Araucana cockerel.  He started a new life with lots of ladies. Elaine, his new mum, had kindly offered to let me have some fertile eggs sired by him.

I'd arranged the hatching schedule to coincide with late May bank holiday, which meant that theyd be grown and moved to the allortment before DH's next bout of parent sitting.    Working backwards, this meant we needed to put the eggs in around Sunday 9th May.  I'd contacted Elaine, checked that Sash was going to be put in with some Leghorns, so we'd have blue egg layers (Sasha's blue egg gene is dominant over the Leghorns' white egg gene).   

We put all the allotment chooks on to Breeders pellets at the beginning of March. This meant that they would have been on Breeders for 8 weeks by the time we separated Henry with his chosen wives, They only needed to be together for a few days, we could collect the eggs, add them to the 6 I was getting from Elaine,  and we'd be off.

And if Poppy was broody at the right time, we'd see whether she'd raise some of the chicks.

Then life intervened.

The warm weather turned a whole load of the allotment girls broody in one go, including the ones we would normally choose to breed from.  There wasn't any point separating the flock - there were only a few girls that Henry was running with, so we'd just have to make do.

It didn't matter unduly,   they are all for the table so we didn't have to worry too much.

Then Elaine was robbed. All her Leghorn flock was stolen. Sasha wasn't with them at the time, otherwise he might well have gone too.

We debated whether to wait - but decided to go ahead anyway.  Poppy had gone broody, so the timing was right.  

Elaine very kindly gave me some other Sasha-sired eggs.  The hens are from a Red Sussex cockerel crossed with an Araucana female. 

It will be really interesting to see how they turn out, The boys will be for the table, any girls will be kept.

Watch this space

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Spring Clean

Much later than normal, I did the first spring clean of the allotment chook houses yesterday.   The large shed, the home made monster coop, even Mrs' old coop, all got emptied,  Poultry Shielded,  dried,  and dusted with both Stalosan and copious amounts of Diatom..

We've got a lot of hens broody at the same time.   The monster coop has 6 lovely nestboxes, 3 each side,  and 5 of these had broody girls in, all chirruping and growling.    The shed has 3 large mini-coops in to act as nest boxes, and 2 of these had girls in.    

Mrs' coop had all the eggs in.  We had been thinking of getting rid of it, so it's probably just as well we didn't.

While I was waiting for the coops to dry, I scrubbed and disinfected the drinkers and the water butts. Then I disinfected all the brushes.      We had only just enough Aubiose to refill the nestboxes and line the poo trays.

It took about 3 hours in all, and I could hardly walk when I got home. I'dmanaged to get a big blister on one heel, and my back was killing me.

But at least it's done.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Give us a toile

I am determined to make an acceptable tee-shirt.

I have an ancient tee shirt which is made of very thin cotton and a little Lycra.  It has a teeny tiny amount of gather at the gorgeous scooped neckline, which makes it very flattering for a lady of my shape. It's too fragile to wear anymore and, for some time now, I've thought about making a version of it.I have been thinking about this for about a year now.

Youtube videos abound with tales of how to make a tee shirt.  However, they don't include this sort of gathered neckline.  I've previously bought some patterns (I've even bought the same pattern more than once, by mistake) which vaguely have a similar neckline, and maybe have gathering.  They aren't quite right.

I initially thought I could just add some gathering using a gathering foot... but I realised that would pull the shoulders down.  I watched a video on how to adjust a pattern, but when it got to the technical bit, the lady demonstrating assumed a level of knowledge I just didn't have, and it was beyond me.

I found a pattern that was fairly close, and I bought it.   I also learned how to use an overlocker and bought an overlocker.  The pattern is still too daunting for me.    I really needed to get on with it.

I invested (pun intended) in an online tank top pattern which was allegedly super easy.  I printed the 19 pieces of paper and carefully stuck them together.   I bought fabric.  Several sorts.

I was convinced that this wasn't going to fit me, so I decided to make a toile.  I bought calico (oops, should have been muslin. Never mind).   I cut the pattern out.  I cut the calico out.    I read the instructions (stupid unclear photos!!), and I watched some videos on using an overlocker to make tee shirts.    I decided that the pattern I'd bought was going to be too small, so there wasn't any point making the french seams, I might as well practice my overlocking instead.  I overlocked the sides, lovely job.     I hesitated about the shoulders. I couldn't quite see how overlocking would work on this style, maybe I needed the sewing machine?  I left them pinned and tried on the toile.

Too tight across the bust. Too long in the body.    Thank goodness I'd only wasted calico and not the expensive fabric.

I've booked to go on a copy-your-clothes workshop next week.  I'm sure once I have the right pattern, the right size,  I'll be able to do it.    I've seen the videos, it doesn't look that hard to actually sew the bits together.

Does it?