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It was just too good a shirt to be wasted! When my lovely boyfriend handed over a shirt that was rather too snug a fit I just loved its fabric design. It had a montage of tiny photos of punk singers in mono (or rather a blue/grey colour). But how exactly to use the fabric in a new guise?

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Various options ran through my head, including some kind of clothing for myself, but I knew in my heart of hearts that I had to re-sculpt it and hand it back, in a wearable form. That meant one thing – yes, boxers!

Laying out my pattern pieces revealed that there wasn’t going to be enough of the punk fabric to cover, especially as I wanted to keep the photos ‘the right way up’. An easy solution came with using a contrasting fabric to form the waistband area. You’ll see that I used a red/white dot fabric – I did try the same in blue/white, and black/white, but the red was just fab. Simple, effective, job done!

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And I do have a few remnants that enabled me to make this simple cross body bag (step by step instructions coming soon) so I’m happy to get my own punk piece too. 

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I’ve completed my first project using my new sewing machine – boxer shorts! And they are so easy to make.

My boyfriend is a fan of the boxer so it was one of those ‘lightbulb’ moments when I realised that I should make a pair for him – testing my new machine at the same time. I looked into buying a paper pattern for making boxer shorts, but at £9 I thought that was a bit steep for what was a simple garment. When I looked on line (and visuals on You Tube) the various tutorials made the construction look so easy. All I needed was a pair of boxer shorts to take apart and use as the new pattern. This striped pair were to the scaffold!

Using a seam ripper I deconstructed the old boxers. One of the problems with worn fabric is that fabric can easily tear. Wanting to keep the shape intact I ‘mended’ torn areas with patches of iron-on interfacing. I ironed each piece, picking off as much as the old thread as I did so. The boxer shorts are made up from four pieces – and I labelled each with a pen on the reverse (front & back, left and right). The trickiest part of the construction is the fly so I checked how to sew this on a few video tutorials before I set to with my machine.

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Having made knickers before (very easy and very satisfying) making boxer shorts is even easier, there is less elastic to sew in for one thing. I bought an elastic I hadn’t used before- with a soft side to go against the skin – so I didn’t need to thread the elastic through a casing. Instead I pinned the elastic at the centre back, front and the two sides, and stretched it as I sewed it against the inside of the waistband.

I’m pleased with the results (bespoke tailoring for my favourite model!) and have made a couple more pairs since – getting better at doing so by creating flat fell side seams for a neater finish. I was able to use up some of my fabric stash in making these first pairs, but I’m looking forward to sourcing new designs too. Boxer shorts take so little material that it’ll be a great project for those fabulous fabrics that I can’t resist! And it is just brilliant to have a working sewing machine again!

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I am chuffed to bits to be described by Viva Lewes as a ‘creative whirlwind’ in  their latest issue (November 2016). I recently sent their editor three photographs that I had taken in the town during a day’s outing back in the summer. I used one of my favourite (and very simple) techniques of shooting an image through a glass decanter bottle stopper. This inverts the image and results in some amusing images. The photos that I sent in focused on the War Memorial, although I had taken other sites around the town including the castle, railway land, brewery, and churchyards.

The editor had emailed me to say that he was going to feature one of my photographs but I  never thought that Viva Lewes would ‘Google’ me too – and discover this blog – but I’m really pleased that they did! I hope that all my Lewes friends, and my ex-colleagues at The Guild of MasterCratfsmen will be as delighted as I am to come across this feature!

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It’s not that I haven’t been busy. I have! But the summer seems to have morphed into the autumn. I have very much been concentrating on my photography rather than my sewing crafts of late. The start of the new term with my camera club has prompted this activity. But this summer I have taken fewer images than in previous years, instead I have been re-visiting old images and taking a creative eye to them. Some I have turned into canvas prints.

I entered this image – which I’ve called The Plum Chair into this evening’s camera club open print competition. It was taken at a friend’s house and is a variation on a still life, which I have then given a ‘stylised’ effect using my favourite app. The judge was a little critical of the ‘whiteness’ of the window, but if I’d cropped it out I would have lost the delicate shadow of the chair. And I didn’t want to darken in out as I didn’t want it to blend into the wall. I like the painterly effect of the finished image (used because I did’t think that the photograph was as sharp as it should have been, and this effect disguised that) and find it very contemplative image (and shades of France though it was taken in an English kitchen).

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It scored well getting 19/20. So I’m pleased with that.

 

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My day wasn’t going as planned. Poor timing led to the cancellation of brunch out in town. No timing led to an aborted photo session (I couldn’t get my wireless shutter release to release!). Instead, a wealth of domestic tasks looked to be the highlight of the day until saved by a simple project.

Several weeks ago I had picked up a couple of storage boxes, clad in a bright jungle with parrots design. Not to my taste. I’d been keeping an eye out for a replacement paper to re-cover them with. Yesterday I found it – an old, paperback copy of DH Lawrence’s famous work, Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Old paperbacks have a great patina with their yellowed pages rather than the crisp white of a modern novel.

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I didn’t pay any attention to the precise words on any page, but merely tore pages from the book, shuffled them, and tore them into smaller pieces. These I decoupaged to all sides of the two boxes (including the insides) using some leftover wallpaper paste. I shall leave them to dry throughly overnight before applying a coat of varnish.

Simple project. Creative need satisfied. Effective storage ready. Since these boxes can often be found in charity shops at bargain prices, it’s easy to create a matching set using this idea. Any paperback pages will do, just pick a favourite!

 

 

 

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It was such a lovely day today with gorgeous sunshine, and I was heading in to work. Luckily doing some stuff in the office meant that I didn’t have to be in uniform. It was such a perfect spring day that I chose to wear my perfect spring dress. Very fortunate as it turned out!

The dress was made from a fabric that I’ve long admired when they hung as a pair of curtains at my mother’s house. The design is delightful – with daffodils, tulips and bluebells on a creamy yellow background. When mum gave her room an update it was my chance to snaffle up the fabric and create my frock.

While I was in the office a call came through, there was a wedding later in the afternoon at the Pavilion, and a witness had called in sick. Would I step in? Would I? Well of course, and I felt I was wearing the perfect dress. And, unexpectedly, considering that I didn’t know the happy couple until they walked into the room in their finery, I found it all very moving, and even shed a tear or two. I put it down to the harpist playing ‘Danny Boy’ – or maybe I’m just a hopeless romantic at heart!

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A fabulous fit while I wear this spring garden

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Well the zip brooches went down a storm at the craft fair – as I rather hoped that they would. I explained each time to those who spotted them that the brooches were made from up-cycled zips as no one guessed their origin. And those who bought loved the fact that they came with their own display pillow. Often its that little touch that will clinch a sale, especially if the item is intended as a gift (and its never too early to shop for Christmas).

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It was good to bring along some goodies that I’ve had for a while, alongside my Dratz Hats. And I was pleased that my newly-decorated hat boxes, not only served as containers to transport the hats, but they made useful display plinths too. I love hat boxes.

Of course it was too much to hope that all my crafts would sell, but the remaining zip brooches will go onto my Etsy site (https://www.etsy.com/shop/DratzHats) and I have already taken a few more photographs of them. A couple of the shots included using a vintage top hat from the 1920’s/30s that I collected from a blacksmith’s forge (I know – there’s an unexpected pairing!).

I took along my lovely neighbour, Lucienne of Lulalupin.com, who had a table to display her own visually stunning pieces (I am so in awe!). And there is nothing like shared creativity to get those ideas flowing …I so love a project!

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It’s a well known fact that if you want something doing ask a busy person. And so it was I found myself saying ‘yes’ to producing publicity material for New Sussex Opera’s production of King Arthur despite having many other demands on my time. I guess I like a challenge. And I do like opera.

So after submitting a number of possibilities,  I’ve finally tweaked the chosen design enough to the satisfaction of all. I was asked to come up with a design that included traffic cones. You may think this is an odd ingredient considering that we’re talking about a  Baroque piece. But this production has been given a contemporary  edge by Director Boo Wild, and traffic cones will play their part. I have to admit that I am intrigued..and since I intend to see the production, I guess I will discover with my own eyes just where they belong!

This is the DL leaflet….

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My current obsession is making mini hats. I have so many ideas that I can’t sleep. I find myself just looking at the ones that I have made when I should be going to bed…instead I’m just tweaking with a ribbon or a bow, thinking about adding a jewel or a feather trim. I am really enjoying fabrics in this way, as well as exploring the possibilities of paper mâché and  decoupage. It’s also given me a whole new prey to hunt when I’m on the charity shop safari.

Like any creative, I am learning all the time and improving my hat technique with each one. I’m working out how best to use the different fabric types and how varnish works to alter the feel of them. Needless to say even while making these my mind is already turning over another sewing project…that one too stopped me from going to bed while I worked on a paper pattern. But that’s another story for another post!

If you want to get ahead....

If you want to get ahead….