I’m in the Ivy League!

When I bought my flat I gained three sets of curtains. Two were horrid synthetic material, which went into the bin, but one pair with a bold ivy pattern were destined to be repurposed.

What I didn’t realise until I started to cut one of the curtains into pattern pieces, was that there was a hitch. The curtains were made out of several pieces of fabric. I wasn’t exactly going to pattern match but there were some addition seams that I hadn’t bargained on.

As it turned out it wasn’t too much of an issue. I reinforced those seams and continued with the pattern (found in a charity shop). The instructions were not as clear as they could be! But I did discover how to sew a collar without a collar stand. So much simpler with front facings helping the look.

The fabric itself is pretty substantial being furnishing cotton not flimsy stuff. But my sewing machine coped, with a good pressing required along the way.

I’ve used larger buttons than with previous shirts and blouses, selecting a green thread to sew them on.

I’m pleased with the results, vintage-looking and upcycling. I have enough fabric to make matching trousers… but that might just be a bit OTT!

Back in time to shop

This week I’ve been looking at some of my miniature projects. This is a favourite that I made many years ago. The twelfth scale model is based on a photograph from the 1920s, of a general store in Portslade Old Village.

The miniature store
The original from a book by Claire Green on Portslade’s history

I loved making all the items to go in the general store. I had to guess at what was inside. For the outside though I stared hard at the photograph, taking in all the items, and tried to replicate them. The real shop no longer exists having been converted into a house a long time ago. This part of Portslade is a conservation area and contains some charming cottages.

My general store was on the front cover of Dolls House World magazine (issue 53), as well as being featured in an article inside. Not long after that I got a job working on that magazine, before being headhunted to a rival publication, The Dolls’ House Magazine. Being the editor of this monthly magazine was great fun. I saw so many amazing dolls’ houses, miniatures, and makers…. and chatting to the readers was always interesting too. Being a hobbyist myself I knew just how their minds worked.

Although I no longer work in publishing, I still love miniatures and dolls’ houses as much as ever, although I don’t think I’d have the patience to make such small items again these days!

Inside the store

Bought to book

Years ago I had an idea to create a miniature scene with a literary theme. This is the result.

The piece is called Writer’s Block. It shows a writer’s study….there’s a desk, bookcase, fireplace with mirror, clock and candlesticks. Every surface is covered with pages from paperback novels – except the writers papers, and the pages of the miniature books, these remain blank.

The miniature study is set inside an old book. The base is made to look like the edges of a book. The worded surfaces have been aged with washes of acrylic paint.

Writer’s Block
The scene is set within an old book
On the desk is a cup of tea, plate of biscuits, letter rack & pot of pens.
Books fly off the bookshelves revealing their empty pages.

I really enjoyed making this piece. For me it is an artwork rather than a miniature. I think it can weave its own stories if you just look at it for long enough.

Going from door to door

I created two book doors in my previous home, and I loved them. I hope that the new owners did too when I sold the house. With those doors I mostly used sheets of wrapping paper printed with antique book spines to provide the source material. I also added in some photocopied book spines of my favourite paperbacks and a couple of DVDs.

During lockdown I decided that I wanted to a book door in my current house. The doors here are rather nice though, unpainted wood, and it took a while to actually go for it as the first step meant painting the door. But ultimately I thought, it’s only a door and that’ll be the cost if it doesn’t work out (have faith!).

The original door was wood, with a simple Shaker style frame

The door that I chose faces into the hallway. Behind it is the snug, a lovely quiet space, ideal for spending some time with a good read. So entering the snug via a fake bookcase seemed appropriate. The inner panel of the door needed to be painted black, and the outer frame, and fake shelf edges (narrow strips of wooden moulding), white. Luckily I had plenty of paint left over from other projects to achieve this. Like any decorating project where paint is involved one coat doesn’t look good, it’s only when the second is applied that the reality appears. I hate that ‘half way through’ phase. But while waiting for the paint to dry I started to collate the book spines required.

In an ideal world I would love to use real books for a project like this although there is a lot of wastage with the pages unused (unless you have a paper mache project on the go too). But it’s lockdown and no cheap source is available. This time I didn’t have any suitable wrapping paper to hand either. But there were three boxes of books – in perfect condition – waiting to go to a charity shop when restrictions allow, and a printer.

The paperbacks were lined up on the printer and the spines copied. I used pieces of wallpaper lining paper because I like the texture of the printed spines. It didn’t matter which book was next to which as ultimately many of them would be cut from their neighbours and re-arranged. And, if you want to try this project yourself you can borrow books from friends and family if needs be. It took several batches, before moving on to books that we already had to provide enough volume for the proposed shelves. I also photocopied a playing card and train ticket to place between the books. I wanted to photocopy some monetary notes but the printed wouldn’t operate when these were on the plate. And I wasn’t prepared to sacrifice a real note. In my previous book door I had a £10 note tantalisingly peeping out from the shelf. My then printer had no qualms about reproducing it. Must be the new plastic notes that are the issue.

The book spines were scanned onto lining paper
Some of the spines were individually cut out and glued to pieces of mountboard

Some of the book spines have been individually cut out and stuck onto pieces of mountboard. When glued in place on the door these will give a slight relief to the books, making it appear more realistic.

Once the door was painted and the shelves glued in place – carefully spaced out, the main creativity began. Gluing the paper spines on the shelves is what it’s all about. The spines can be slightly angled, and interspersed with the ones on mountboard to create a realistic appearance. And there should be gaps left as well. You don’t have to completely fill each shelf. Of course you can have interesting reads next to each other for literary jokes. I put the playing card next to Casino Royale.

The books are being put into place courtesy of wallpaper paste and card glue

The finished door has helped turn the hallway into more of a room, and a quick glance reads as a bookcase not a door, which is of course the fun. I’m now turning my attention to the other walls in that hallway and adding to the interest in this area as a place to linger not just walk through.

The book door opens into the snug, where there are real books on real shelves

Cable table

Not for us the wall-mounted flat screen tv. When I watch home-style tv programmes (and I love them) I don’t understand why if people do have wall-mounted screens they place them so high up. Surely you want your screen at eye-level to view comfortably ?

When we moved in to this house the previous owners had wall-mounted screens in four rooms. When they left they took their devices but left us the mid wall sockets and, in one case, all the trailing cables too (they had a games room complete with Astro turf floor…we gave that away).

Walls in our house are for needed for artwork not electronics. We like our tv to be unobtrusive when not in use. It resides in an alcove, with a deep grey wall (white made the tv stand out) behind it.

The tv at home in its alcove

When we watch the tv is bought forward and angled to suit. But it does mean an umbilical trail of wires (and I understand that a wall-mounted screen avoids this issue). The wires connect the to various gadgets that enhance or facilitate the visual experience. The wires occasionally get caught under the trolley wheels, annoyingly.

Spaghetti junction behind the tv

This morning I created a solution. It’d popped into my head a couple of days ago and was made in minutes. Let me introduce you to the cable hammock! Made from a remnant of vintage Barbara Brown fabric it is hung from a couple of hooks screwed into the (admittedly un-stylish) tv table.

Cables reside in their hammock

Just the main cable visible. The trolley now wheels comfortably when viewing is required. Job done!

Fully booked!

I’ve taken a lot of photographs in my time. But the most important ones are those in which I, and my loved ones appear. Now they’re all in one place.

Like many people I’ve used the various lockdown periods to sort through my photographs. I have a number of actual prints but far more digital images. Last year I made a photo book focusing on my childhood. It has photos of me, my parents and my siblings, covering me from birth to aged 18. It’s absurdly nostalgic!

With lockdown seemingly endless I decided to create a follow-up (aged 18+). This one I knew would be much more of a task to create. For starters it had a 40-year span to cover to bring it to the present, and it meant trawling through both prints and digital images. I knew I’d have to be selective – and creative! It was ‘This is your (my) life’ in photobook form.

I took as the basis for the approach to the book my name. Christened Christiane I now use the easier-to-pronounce Chrissie. The book works through how I got there as my life changed. It embraces various aspects of growing from an 18-year old student, to boyfriends, marriage, work, becoming a mother (the children will ultimately form the basis of a separate book in due course), divorcing, new relationships, hobbies (the miniatures and the creative stuff are already the subject of a previous books so I focused on the dancing & theatre here ), more jobs, friends and finally bringing it up to 2021 & life now.

The masthead on the cover was fun though time-consuming to create, but I’m really pleased with how it turned out. Behind each of the letters is a photograph. The stylised image of me is from a self-portrait, that in itself tweaked, with the words overlaid on top.

I loved creating the cover for the book

Some of the pages inside were prepared separately using Pixelmator on my laptop before being saved as jpegs. This enabled images to be turned into circles or distorted or cut-out. These were uploaded and combined with regular photographs to create the final layouts. I used my-picture.co.uk as I like their design suite and quality of printing.

The majority of the design was completed last autumn but I waited until January to get it printed so that I could include my December birthday photos.

A selection of the pages..VSO, backstage, tango introduction, the South Downs Conservation project, modern jive and Editor introduction

One of the most tedious parts of the creation was checking the text! I spent 14 years as a magazine Editor so I tapped back into my skill bank for both layout and text editing. Hopefully there aren’t any typos. But I know from previous photo books, sometimes however carefully you check, they can still sneak through!

Travel adventures, broken toe & Dratz Hats!

So now, if my computer crashes, or there’s a technical or un-fixable error I do have my favourite and most poignant images to hand. And when I’m much older than I am now or my memory starts to fail, I will have a great reminder of who I am and what I’ve achieved. Though of course, who knows what life will bring me next that’ll need documentation like this!

Ear we go!

My Bluetooth headphones were losing their foam. Luckily a couple of days ago I found and kept two pieces of foam packing material. I thought they might come in handy. Now I knew what to do with them.

A lot of trial and error with this make. But I changed to oblong shape of the original to circular. I used the foam to shape around the earpieces, sandwiching a piece of netting between. This was all covered in a circle of old tee shirt. This circle had a middle piece removed with another piece of net sewn in place.

Gathered up it with some additional stitching it seems secure. I’ve lost a bit of the mobility of the original foam pads so I’m not sure if it’s the right solution,

Steps to make new ears coverings

I’ll have to see how comfortable they are on my next walk. But it’s all a learning curve. I’ll either end up trying again or buying new headphones. I kept the original though fraying pads, I can always try a different cover.

Little by little again

Yes, I did go on to make more puppet clothes!

I continued to make clothes for the little puppet… then the larger 30inch one. The smaller was 20 inches tall. It was easy to scale up the clothes. At the bigger size it was easier to make pockets on the dungarees and trousers.

I found that blackout lining from a pair of curtains made great material to make their shoes from.

I used the remains of some vintage fabric to make a dress, hair band and bag.

The puppets are from puppet box.co.uk

Little by little

Over twenty years ago I was making dolls clothes. Little did I think I’d be returning to the scaled down wardrobe once my children were adults.

The little clothes are for my eldest son. Well, not actually him but for one of his puppets. Edd is a keen puppeteer, actor, scriptwriter, director, drama teacher. When I first saw this puppet I was enchanted. It stands around 20 inches high.

Unlike a regular doll the puppet has operator’s handles…one behind the head, another at the base of the spine, and one for each hand. When designing up the clothes I had to take these into account. I began with a basic pinafore template cut from an old shirt to see how it would work. Then I moved to other fabrics.

Resting the puppet on a cushion helped protect its head and hold it secure

The dresses were easy. I used Velcro for fastening to make clothing changes easier. I made little shoes out of some leathette. I know that I can improve on the design of these… I’ll have a go using felt.

Snowflake dress
Tartan dress and woollen hat

Wanting to create a male identity I turned my attention to making a pair of dungarees. They were simpler than I imagined. It helped that I’d made human-sized trousers when it came to designing them. I added top stitching in yellow.

Old socks provided the material for the shoes. Cutting off a cuff section and shaping it with seams for sole, heel and toe. I’m very pleased with them.

Dungarees, trainers & hat

I will be making more puppet clothes… some in plain fabrics to allow for a variety of characters to be imposed. And there is a larger puppet that I’ve yet to meet so I’ll be scaling up a bit. It’s feeding my creative needs which is perfect distraction from the re-scheduled Christmas plans.

Ready for action

Christmas cheer gets off on the right foot

It’s been difficult to feel in the mood for Christmas. Limited opportunities to socialise with family and friends. So I took the chance to accept a friend’s request.

I was asked to make a Christmas stocking, with fabric being provided. It was the perfect creative fix. With all the work being done on the house recently my sewing machine has lain idle. Today it was great to be back at the pedal.

The project was easy enough, the fabric anything but. It was in two layers…the top a pattern of gold swirls on a red gauze, the bottom layer red silk (a synthetic equivalent). The bottom layer was a nightmare to deal with… it ‘walks’! Experienced sewers will know what I mean.

Two layers bound along each edge

The solution was to separate the two. I used the lining of a curtain for the stocking inside to give it a bit more body. I first attached the slippery red to this, zig zagging around the edge of the stocking shape. Each side done, I laid the less troublesome gauzy layer on top, right sides together. Sewed the two together and turned out. Adding a collar of gold pattered fabric (from a furnishing sample book) was the finishing touch, catching a hanging loop between.

Ready for Santa’s gifts!

As I’d cut off the binding trim from the original square of fabric I re-used it to sew a name on a fabric tag! Job done!

Flat out

I am fortunate to have a creative project to work on at the moment. It has given me lots to think about and to keep me awake at night.

I am working on a two bedroom flat that needs a little TLC. The main area that is currently causing a headache is the small kitchen. I’d like to reuse the existing cabinets, they have real wooden doors not foil-coated chipboard. However their cherry wood colour is not fashionable and it’s quite dark for the small space. It seems a shame to dispose of them. I may repaint them. I’m trying to work out how to keep as many of the existing units but in a reconfigured construction.

The existing worktop is heavy and tiled. I managed to release a corner but it was an effort but it’s given some wiggle room to see the room’s potential. It’s definitely going to be replaced as I will be moving the sink to beneath the window. This will provide better food prep space. Having removed the first bit of worktop I started to take off the old wall tiles.

The wall tile removal was easy to do with the right tools

This will be a rental property so I need to be aware of what monies should be spent where. I know already that most of the rads will need replacing, and the flat needs carpeting throughout. These have to be done – along with a wiring check. So my dream kitchen isn’t going to happen here but it still has to look right.

Deconstruction underway!

Removing some decorative pelmets on the top of the wall units made an instant improvement. There’s a stubborn section at the bottom yet to come off!

A small room is definitely more of a challenge than a larger space. But hopefully in time the results of all the brain ache will pay off!

Fade to grey

The decorator queried our request to paint the new bathroom ceiling dark grey. The walls were to be dark grey too. When we then asked him to paint a bold yellow stripe behind the sinks he really did look at us as if we were crazy!

The previous owners had installed a white bathroom, which looked stylish but was actually quite badly fitted. We couldn’t get the shower to stop leaking, and the bath was just so big it took a week to fill!

The old bathroom had funky flooring and metro tiles but wasn’t for us.

It was amazing watching the bathroom being stripped back to basics. Originally there was a separate toilet where the little window is, and adjoining bathroom judging by the marks on the wall. The skip soon filled up with old tiles, plumbing pipes, and plaster. The suite found a new home to save it from landfill which I’m really pleased about.

Goodbye shower cubicle! Hello bare walls!

Once we’d decided that we wanted a new bathroom we hunted around for ideas…looking through home style magazines, Pinterest, and lots of showroom visits. Having used dark grey elsewhere in the house we knew that we wanted it in the new bathroom. We wanted circular bowl sinks and black fittings. We made the decision early on not to keep the bath here but relocate it to the en-suite (being reworked first). This is why we chose to install two sinks here. It is a bit posey but there is space to accommodate them in the new design so why not.

The painter though we were crazy with our paint choices but we knew it’d pay off!

We saw a fabulous range of modern radiators in a shop in Brighton (the radiator centre.com). We fell in love with this one, named Bubbles, the circular design echoing the new sinks. It could have been painted in any colour too. We had to wait several weeks for it to come from Italy (what with all the current delays caused by the pandemic).

The white circles of the radiator stand out like a sculpture against the dark grey wall.

It took us a while to chose the taps, narrowing it down to matt black made it easier. Then we found these neat unfussy ones. The shower tray and screen chosen along the same lines. We had toyed with getting wood effect tiles for the floor in an earlier design scheme but couldn’t get a close enough match to the landing floor… which sent us down the black and grey route. So many decisions to be made, but watch you don’t pass the point of no return.

We didn’t replace the bath in the bathroom, instead installing it in the en-suite. This way the en-suite will get used not just when guests come and stay.

I love these textured tiles! Though, initially the tiler laid them in a horizontal line that just looked wrong. I came home from work, saw the results and almost wept. I’d left instructions for them to be positioned ‘portrait’ but somehow it didn’t work out that way. I put an anxious call through to the plumber who was coordinating all the tradesmen. Luckily the adhesive hadn’t quite set so the tiler was able to remove them the following day, without damaging the newly lined wall and reapply them. Both he and the plumber agreed that the new format was so much better. I still don’t get why the plumber and tiler when deciding how to line up the tiles didn’t send me a photo by text to check the pattern before applying them. But at least they were sorted. Anyone planning home renovations- make sure you get every aspect down in writing if you can’t be on site to confirm detailing!

The new rainfall shower is fantastic!

We had pocket doors fitted to the bathroom and en-suite. In the old bathroom the opening door banged into the shower cubicle every time you entered the room. Now you just step into the room and it really seems enormous! We don’t have a young family, but now there is easily space to sort that morning rush for the next owners who may have little ones (though we’re not leaving any time soon!).

The original en-suite was actually just a sink and the shower, which we turned into a proper little bathroom. There was enough space to do this and I still don’t understand why the previous owners didn’t create this fully functioning room in the first place.

The en-suite is painted in the same dark grey. The tiles we chose are in metallic shades of copper and dark brown (soon to be discontinued it seems). The window is now in proportion to the revised room size. With the dark colour the small space really is snug and welcoming and not a white box. We have a large round mirror to mount on the walls echoing the circular mirrors used in the main bathroom (and repeated with a single sink here). Remnants of the tiles are creating the windowsill.

The en-suite includes a bath

It seems to have taken ages, not withstanding delays due to suspected coronavirus isolation, general illness, and supply chain delays (plaster is the flour of the DIY world it seems). But the end is in sight. Bathroom storage needs careful thought and new towels and stylish soap dispensers are sought. But by and large it’s done. Not to everyone’s tastes I’m sure, but ours, and that’s the point.

Booking in

In lockdown we all had to find something to do to fill the hours. It gave me a chance to create some photo books. I’ve since become obsessed with pictorial documentation.

I’d already created several such books. The last two recording a two week trip to Italy. It was an amazing holiday, great weather (until we were in the open air theatre in Verona, when rain stopped the end of Tosca).

The Italian job

So in March I started to catch up with other holidays; Paris, Vienna and Berlin. It was great looking back at those days away. But I really enjoyed designing the pages, and particularly the front covers. It reminded me of my years in publishing.

Mini breaks in book form

With the daily lockdown walks becoming a feature of the spring I made a point of taking photographs every day. I turned them into a book. It’s probably my favourite. I loved using panorama and montage images alongside regular single shots. It really captures the months of March through to early June. It took me a while to work out how to combine separate pictures with letters for the cover. But having learned how, I’m using it again in one of the photo books I’m currently designing.

For the next project I turned to the subject of dolls’ houses and miniatures. I enjoyed placing my iPhone inside my dolls’ house to get many of the images.

With so many photos on my struggling laptop I thought it about time I deleted some. This was the inspiration behind Event. Curating the many events, such as exhibitions, craft fairs, dances, tours, I’d been to.

After Event I came up with the idea for Place. This resulted in two books, one focusing on my immediate home area. If you’re like me you’ll take loads of photos when visiting a stately home, or countryside area. This made me focus on the best or most descriptive of the place. I used a postcard motif throughout the books where I added suitable text.

There are more books in the pipeline. I’m trying to design whole pages now using the Pixelmator app, then uploading that to the photo book website, rather than all the single images. My brain is often designing up combinations when I’m travelling to work on the bus, or trying to sleep!

I use my-picture.co.uk to create the books. I like their advanced editing tools and the rapid return of the projects. I’m loving the process. Maybe I’m a frustrated graphic designer!

Iron ore door

It’s too hot! We have windows and doors open. But through drafts, welcome though they are, can cause our kitchen door (with its glass panel) to bang shut.

The solution has always been to use a lump of iron ore, found on a local beach, as a door stop. Practical but, not to beat around the bush, it looks like a lump of poo.

Heavy, but unattractive

Before it got too unbearable in the heat I popped up to my sewing studio to solve the visuals. I sat the iron lump in the lid of an egg box, packing paper around it to hold it secure. Then I sewed a triangular wedge shape, using fabric from a discarded pair of corduroy trousers, adding a loop at the top. Leaving a seam free I put in the box of iron and, not having any wadding, I filled around it with trimmings and off-cuts fished out of my sewing bin. Finally I hand-finished the last seam.

Job done, the doorstop is now a little more stylish.

Weighty results

Wrap it right

I was delighted to discover a local charity shop was open last week. Even better, I found three clothing patterns. One of them was this wrap top with a dress option (Simplicity K8137).

So I gave it a go. It’s pretty easy to create – at least no buttonholes as with the shirts that continue to enjoy making. I’m not convinced I’ve got the fit quite right now it’s done. It’s an American pattern- not sure if that really makes a difference. But next time… and I think I will make it again, I’ll have a better idea of where it could be improved for my shape.

Being a wrap too it is a bit too ‘bosomy’ for my liking. If I wore a lacy camisole beneath I wouldn’t feel quite as exposed. I did add a couple of ribbon ties to the inside so that I could secure it to the right. The outer ties fasten to the left.

I would like to have a go at the dress option though. I’ll be able to work on the fit when I do. Still, I like the peplum look. And, it’s great to have a different sewing project after making coronavirus masks.

It’s a wrap!
Simplicity K8137

Chococat gets ahead

When my friend Nick got in touch to ask me to make a surprise birthday present for his partner, I was initially reluctant. I really tried to put him off.

Nick had asked me to make a mini hat…I used to make lots of these, another one of my obsessive makes. He wanted a particular style, and at first I offered him a couple that I’d already made. But no, there was a favourite character that he wanted me to create as a hat. His persistence paid off, particularly once he sent me his drawing of what he had in mind. It was then that I knew I could do it, and I was hooked.

IMG_0915

 

Chococat is a fictional character produced by the Japanese corporation, Sanrio. It’s a bit like Hello Kitty, who is possibly better known to the uninitiated. Luckily I had some black fabric, and I already had a base hat in my stash. Without this it would have taken longer to sort. And, of course, I ended up really enjoying the task. A stroke of luck was having two white cover-all buttons with gave the perfect eye-shape. The ears were relatively easy, the black fleece material, lined with felt, sat well on the fleece-covered base, forming the right shape naturally.

My main challenge was making the whiskers.  I really wanted something like fibre option cables, but this was lockdown, I used thin slithers of black felt. In fact, thanks to lockdown, the whole collection of the finished hat had to be carefully timed and done with some secrecy on Nick’s part.



Making the hat bought back all the joys of when I was making lots of them – which I had taken the opportunity to have another look through. They’re still gorgeous! And, as ever, I got my creative fix, and of course the joy of knowing that there’s a lucky birthday girl with a unique piece of headwear.

PS received this image from Nick…. happy birthday Olympia!

Reaching for the stars

With so many clothes in my wardrobe there isn’t room to hang them all. Many of the dresses that I’ve made are in bags on a top shelf. With the summer coming up I thought I’d take a look and see what should make it to the rails.

I certainly have my favourites, but some of the dresses I knew weren’t quite right. The fit wasn’t perfect or the length. Anyone making their own clothes will know that some clothes just don’t get worn. Made, but then packed away.

It was like this with my Lego Star Wars dress. The way the pattern fell meant that I’d gathered the skirt section rather than cut panels. But the dress felt bulky to wear as a result. I could either just pack it away, or accept a re-make, even if it meant sacrificing some of the fabric.

I’m enjoying making blouses just now and the Star Wars skirt section had just enough fabric to make one. I chose New Look 6407, and this is the result.

New Look 6407 re-make

With the scraps of fabric there’ll be enough to make a face mask or two (if I can get elastic!). This pattern too is a learning curve, but at the moment I have time on my hands.

Now you see it…

Scratching the creative itch today was really simple, but satisfying.

Like most people in lockdown we’re enjoying watching films. We are happy with our tv (43in) and didn’t want to big it up, so we opted for a screen and projector. This way we could get more of the cinema experience (it’ll be a while before we can do the real thing).

To test our idea we opted for an inexpensive fabric screen and small projector. It worked, a bit of a faff to set up and connect to improve sound quality . But it showed the potential.

Before long we upgraded. A pull up screen came courtesy of eBay (my partner thankfully being able to pick it up en route from work- at a safe distance). We set the projector on our coffee table, connected it up, and sat through our first film (the most enjoyable Truth & Mercy.. the Brian Wilson story ). After the film we began to wonder about making the whole accessibility of the projector easier, while freeing up the coffee table for…well, coffee, popcorn, beer, etc.

Come breakfast time my partner delved into the pantry for supplies. In the pantry we have a couple of IKEA trolleys. Lightbulb moment.

The trolley width was the same as the projector. It’s middle basket shelf the same height as the coffee table. Spanners at the ready the trolley was swiftly emptied and re-configured. The middle basket needed to be turned upside down. This meant the projector could then sit on the metal perforated base. Ideal when in play.

Now you see it….

Very happy with the outcome but it just needed one thing. And this is where the creative fix comes in. I decided to make a dust cover for the projector using a remnant of Barbara Brown vintage fabric. I’d already made a couple of cushions from it (and a dress) previously. I love it’s geometric design and colour palette.

Now you don’t!

Neat. Dust free. Stylish. Itch scratched! Looking forward to our next film night!

It’s curtains for curtains

The problem with being an addictive seamstress and in lockdown is that I’m beginning to use up my fabric stash. I’ll need to be strict otherwise I’ll run out of supplies and I’ll end up looking at the soft furnishings at home. Actually that’s a lie…I’m already eyeing up the curtains!

I love this particular design with its bold leaf pattern. The curtains came originally from Dunelm Mill, and have already done their stint of duty at my brother’s house before hanging in my bedroom.

The curtains are curtains.

Gazing at the design every night before sleep, and again on waking it wasn’t long before my mind had fashioned the curtains into clothes. I found my brain was working on perfecting my trouser pattern, adding pockets and a front, rather than side, zip.

With remaining fabric I thought maybe I could run up a waistcoat? They’re pretty easy to do. I enjoyed making one from an old pair of denim jeans the other week. So it’d be simple to do a variation on that.

Old jeans provided the fabric for this waistcoat

Sometimes the only way to get projects out of my head is to do them for real. So I did. Using the leaf design curtain. The trousers I am really pleased with, the fit is great. And I lined them too. I kept the curtain care label and sewed it into the back of the waistband. The two pockets worked really well (using the original curtain lining). And I fashioned a front zip and belt loops.

Old curtains new clothes

The remnants were just enough for a waistcoat as I thought they would be. I’m not a fan of the buttonhole attachment on my sewing machine (my last machine had a much easier foot) but I’m persevering. I only wish now I’d chosen the design with one button rather than five. But it’s done. The secret with any construction is to press well between the stages.

I really like my living room curtains…..it’s only a matter of time!

PS: luckily when I was given the curtains, there were three panels. Two still remain at my windows!

Suiting the summer

Coronavirus and lockdown has meant that more of us are focusing on our hobbies. This is not difficult for anyone who sews. I’ve just binged on Netflix’s ‘Next in Fashion’ and it’s set my creative fingers twitching.

Before I can start anything new however I had to complete this outfit. I’d made the trousers months ago, and a crop top (featured in a previous blog). I’d also had a dress cut from the same fabric but I wasn’t happy with it. Luckily with some careful pattern placing I was able to re-use the dress to create a new top.

I turned again to my current favourite pattern, New Look6376. It is a really easy pattern to sew as there are basic seams only, and few of them! It is also an ideal pattern to adapt once you’ve seen how it works.

With my re-make I used the dress lining to make facings for the front panel and around the top of the back. This eliminated the need to make bias binding for the armholes and neckline.

I cut the back panel (from the multi-motif design part of the original duvet) from two pieces of fabric (rather than on a fold line creating a single pattern piece). I used this to set a button and fabric loop at the top of the back central seam. I also cut the back panel longer than the pattern dictated, extending the front to match the new side seam length.

From duvet cover to summer outfit

I will be making more of this coordinated look. Another time I’ll be looking to add pockets to the trousers, with a front rather than side zip to them. I also want to add cap sleeves to the top.

I just hope that there’ll be some summer left to go out and show off my new wardrobe. Meanwhile, stay safe & stay busy!