Sunday, 31 January 2010

Fake sheep and buckley things

This is the second waistcoat I've made from my pattern, and it's for Munchkin's friend Harry, who was two this week. The outside is an old pair of trousers of mine that I had been saving to turn into something else, and the inside is fake sheep :) The buckley thing (that's the technical term) on the back was originally on the back of the trouser waistband - I just shortened it a little so it was scaled down to fit a two year old. I cut the back piece using the side seam of the trouser leg as the fold line. Nifty, huh?

I had yet more problems with construction on this one, and ended up nearly crying over the shoulders (don't ask), but I got there in the end, albeit in a slightly wonky manner. My lack of knowledge on how to put things together is slightly annoying, but I'm trying to remedy it by reading a few books and making more toiles. It just seems to be a bit of a steep learning curve...

I've had a slow craft week for one reason and another, but I'm back to normal next week so am hoping to crack on with a few projects. Including putting together a tutorial for a little activity me and Munchkin did when we were snow bound :)

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

I'm going to make you cry.

Properly cry. Wobbly lip big sigh snotty nosed crying.
Read my friend Kat's post and try not to well up.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

My very first pattern :)

It's not revolutionary, but I designed it from scratch and I am ridiculously proud of it. Mr pickledweasel bought me Metric Pattern Cutting for Children's Wear and Babywear for Christmas, and by Boxing Day I'd drawn up a basic body block for Munchkin :)

I then drew up a sleeveless body block and started working on a waistcoat pattern. After I'd done my first draft I made a toile (although mine was made from spare sheeting, not linen like Chanel do). And realised I'd sewed all the way around the armholes on the wrong side, so it wouldn't turn the right way out :D

I also realised The scalloped edge I'd put at the bottom really wouldn't work, so I went back to basics and started again. I made another toile, and did a fitting with mademoiselle munchkin. I was happy with the fit but added an extra half cm everywhere as I wanted to allow a little bit of growth room and the fabric I would be making the waistcoat from was a fluffy sort of towelling and babycord, so I had to allow for extra bulk.

I'm really happy with the finished product, although my construction method was slightly haphazard - I ended up leaving the armholes open to turn the garment through and then found it very difficult to sew them together - lesson learnt.

I'm making another one for a lovely little boy whose birthday is on Sunday, using fake sheepskin for the lining and a pair of my old trousers for the shell - it's better than it sounds, honestly :) My next job is to make a trouser block for Munchkin, and then draft up a trouser pattern with added room in the bum for cloth nappies, which is my biggest gripe with shop bought trousers. Then on to grading so I can do bigger sizes. It's all very basic, but I'm learning so much, and it feels brilliant!

And this is what happens if you ask Munchkin to smile for the camera :)

Monday, 18 January 2010

Poppy Seed Head Messenger Bag

Grandma Pickledweasel very kindly bought me One Yard Wonders for Christmas, and last week I finished my first project from it. In the book it's a child's messenger bag, but I wanted to make an adult version as a present for a friend. She has two munchkins and is always running around here there and everywhere, so I thought it would be great as a 'Right, we're off to the shops' bag that she could bung her keys, wallet, tissues and a box of raisins in if she was just popping down the road.

I didn't change the size of the body of the bag, I just made the strap a bit longer. Actually, a lot longer - so long that you'd have to be fiddling around near your knees to get the bag open :D So I did a cunning thing and looped the strap inside the bag and stitched it. I'm going to get a D ring (is that the right word?) to hook on to the loop, and then give her a little clippy key ring to go with the bag. She can put the clippy key ring on her keys, and then whenever she uses the bag she can just clip the key ring to the D ring, and she won't have to root around at the bottom of her bag for her keys.

The fabric was from Ikea, and I used half a metre, which was the princely sum of 50p in the sale. It was the last piece in the shop, and I'm gutted there wasn't more. I did get some more fabric from the same range but with a different print - much larger and more abstract, but not as good as the poppy seed heads. I just about managed to squeeze the pattern pieces for the outside of the bag on to the fabric I had, so I line it with something else, and I used a linen chambray that you might recognise from Munchkin's Liberty wrap dress.

The project was pretty easy to follow, although I could have done with a few more diagrams and a bit less text, but that's just the way my brain works. I did have to completely reposition the velcro though, even though I followed the instructions on where to place it to a tee.

Only problem now is that I like it so much I don't want to give it away!

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Going Green - Losing my Bottle

If you're wondering why I haven't posted for a week, it's because I've misplaced my camera. I say misplaced (rather than lost) as it turned up this evening in the laptop bag. What a ridiculous place to put a digital camera! Far more sensible to store it, for example, in Munchkin's bedroom under the futon, or in the cat food cupboard. Which were among the many, many places I looked for it before I found it in the laptop bag :) So although I have had a very crafty week, including drafting my very first pattern for Munchkin and sewing a fully working , non-wonky garment from it, I haven't taken any photos :( So I thought I'd let you know how my green resolutions were going instead, and illustrate them with rather random photos that I've found in the depths of my pc.

Because of the snow, our bins haven't been emptied since before Christmas, and as I went to try and squish one more yoghurt pot into the recycling bin I was horrified by the amount of plastic our household gets through. We do recycle it (or at least the bits we're allowed to, there seems to be a very complicated coding system when it comes to plastic, and the tub you're looking at invariably is PET 74.5 rather than one with a swirly arrow symbol and a number 1), but it's much better not to have it in the first place.

Milk is the biggest culprit in our house, as we go through litres of the stuff and it all comes in big plastic bottles. My mission this week is to try and find out who our local milkman is, as this must be miles more environmentally friendly than buying milk from a big supermarket. Primarily because when your milk bottles dance home behind the milkman you send your glass milk bottles back they get washed and then can be used again, rather than going through all the energy-heavy processes plastic needs to be turned into something new. Dairy Crest offer an online service where you can place orders and your local milkman will then deliver them (so much more sophisticated than notes in bottles :).

The other thing I've been doing - and I loved this one because it involved shopping - was de-plasticifying the shower. No, not taking out our plastic shower tray and replacing it with one made of hemp or anything, but aiming to have a plastic free shower routine. It was easy enough to stop buying shower gel as I have 4 lovely bars of soap that I have received as presents over the last year, and until last week they were languishing in my underwear drawer acting as drawer fresheners. Now one's in the shower and ones on the side of the sink - bye bye liquid hand soap!

Shampoo was a bit more difficult, as I'd seen shampoo bars for sale on Etsy, but as they all seemed to be from the States it seemed silly to buy a product that needed flying halfway across the world in order to be a bit more environmentally friendly :) Lush seemed to be the only high street retailer who sold shampoo bars, so I pootled along to my local shop. I bought New Shampoo Bar and Jungle conditioner. I am a complete and utter convert. I will never go back to a bottle again! The shampoo bar is meant to stimulate hair growth, and as mine is weak, wibbly and falling out a bit, I thought it would be the best one for me. I haven't noticed masses of new hairs sprouting from my noggin, but my hair seems stronger. The conditioner leaves it lovely and silky, and I've stopped using the multitude of de-frizz products I used to slap on my hair after a shower, and just blow-dry and leave it. My hair smells lovely and looks very shiny.

I thought I'd give bottle free moisturising a go as well, and bought a Therapy Massage Bar. The woman in the shop said although it was called a massage bar it worked well as a body moisturiser as well. It is made mainly of cocoa butter, and so when you rub it on your skin it melts just a little bit and is absorbed. I only shower every other day, and I've noticed that my skin still feels smooth and soft the day after I've used it. It has a really velvety scent, and even mr pickledweasel has commented on how nice it smells. I don't think it'll last very long though, so it might work out to be a bit pricey, but it's worth it! I've started alternating it with body lotion I got for Christmas so I can make it last until pay day :)

So, in summary - I'm getting a milkman, have softer hair, and smell nice. This green malarkey is pretty easy, n'est ce pas?

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Grandma - my favourite photo

The lovely Kym from Sugarmouse has tagged me to show my favourite photo. I have a squillion favourites, of Munhkin, and of me and mr pickledweasel, and some of my brother when he was diddy, but I plumped for this one to share with you.

This is my grandma on my mum's side, in her back garden in Wolverhampton. Her name was Winifred, although everyone called her Rose, which was her middle name. I think this was taken in the seventies, although it's hard to tell - she had a 'save for best' policy with clothes and very rarely wore anything new, so was still wearing polyester slacks 20 years after they'd gone out of fashion :)

My uncle Mick took the picture, and he's captured her perfectly. I think she's probably saying something along the lines of 'Day be daft, purrit away!'*. She kept a meticulous house, and was about to sweep the yard or do some weeding or something. I love that she has curlers in her hair.

She died when I was 23, and I miss her very much. I would have loved her to have met my daughter, I'm sure they would have got on famously.

*If you can't understand a word of this, have a look at this BBC site or try this translation service :)

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Indian Midnight Dress

A poncy name for it, I know, but I really think it fits with the fabric. This is the stuff I bought from Abakhans a couple of weeks ago, and it was such a small piece I was really worried I wouldn't have enough to make a dress, but I did!

The pattern is Heidiandfinn's Ruffle Jumper Dress (but without the ruffles). Dead easy to sew, simple instructions, and I like the fit too. Although I think next time I'll make it longer. The lining is made from an old black jersey top of mine, and softens it a bit as the material is quite stiff, almost like a canvas.

Munchkin hates it. I put it on her this morning, with some pale pink tights and then a pair of black leggings over the top of the tights (it is -5 here today), and she screamed like a banshee and clawed at it like it was made of nettles or something. After about 20 minutes of tears and writhing on the floor, I took it off her. She made me take the leggings off as well.

Then she chose this sugary confection to wear instead (careful with the comments people, it was a present from a relative...). This is her telling me all about the kitty on the front of the dress.

We're still snowed in. You may think this is the photo I took just before Christmas, but no, it's the same road but it was taken yesterday. My car is stuck and can't go anywhere, and to make matters worse Munchkin's pushchair is in the boot, which is frozen solid. I went down to the car today to try and defrost it with a hot water bottle, but Munchkin has decided she is allergic to snow and wouldn't stand on the floor. I couldn't even get the door open so I could sit her in her seat while I chipped away at 3" of ice! Normally we would just wrap up warm and trek off to the library or the market, but we're well and truly housebound. I have a craft organised for this afternoon, and lots of Peppa Pig and the Wotwots recorded that we can watch later, so we should just survive :) Anyone else suffering with snow-induced boredom?

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Going Green. And Grey.

Happy New Year! Hope you all had fun on NYE. Me and mr pickledweasel watched The Turn of The Screw, shared a bottle of red, and were in bed by 11pm :) We've never been much into NYE, it's always seemed a bit of an anticlimax. The new year had still arrived when we woke up the next morning, so I'm guessing we didn't miss much.

On New Year's Day we went to watch the Whitworth Duck Race in stupidly cold weather. We didn't stay until the bitter end because it was just too cold, but we saw the winner cross the line. 800 plastic ducks floating down a weir is truly a sight to behold. Here's Munchkin and mr pickledweasel in the hats I made them for Christmas, trying not to look like they've lost the feeling in their faces because it's -1.

So on to the inevitable resolutions. I'm always really wary of making a big long list of things because I'm often unrealistic about what I can achieve and end up feeling despondent by November because I haven't done have the stuff I wanted to do.

So I've decided on a theme - green. I'm going to try and do my bit for the environment, because I've seen far too many tv programmes in the last month about how we're messing up the world and it scares the bejeezus out of me. They're tiny little resolutions, but hopefully they'll add up to making a bit of a difference. I'm not going to bore you by listing them all here, but I might write the odd post about how my efforts are going as the year progresses.

The other thing I'm going to work at is me. Not as in some massive personality overhaul or extreme diet or anything, but just at being more comfortable with myself. And confident! Gah, if only you could buy confidence in a bottle. Staying at home with Munchkin is good fun, but it has properly wibbled my sense of self. I'm still not really sure who I am any more, whereas I had quite a strong sense of identity before popping a puppy.

So there are little things I'm going to do to try and help. It's not about getting the old me back, because I'm not that 'me' anymore, but it's about relaxing a little and accepting who I am now. The first thing is to stop dyeing my hair. After munchkin was born I had a colour put through it to help me feel a bit more glam, and then as the colour grew out I noticed how much grey I had and so I started to dye it on a regular basis. But it's a faff, and it's very bad for my hair (which has become horribly thin and weak - oh the joys of motherhood!), and it's lots of nasty chemicals too. I'm going to grow grey gracefully :)

Munchkin is going through the lovely imitation phase of play, where she copies everything I do. As I was standing in front of my mirror a couple of weeks ago, slapping on a full face of make-up after having straightened my hair, I could see her watching me as she was sitting on the bed. I started to think about the example I'm setting her. I don't want her to grow up thinking that this is what women have to do every day before the leave the house in the morning. I don't want her to see grey hair as something to be disguised. It's normal! It's just society that says it's not. So here's my beautiful grey roots in all their glory. I'm hoping I won't end up like my Dad, who had a full head of white hair by the time he was 40...