Friday, 29 July 2011

A Pleasant Day's "Work"

My latest bestest friend, Rabbity, (purchased at the Country Living Fair), is bemused by the Den.

Quite frankly, there's old embroidered stuff everywhere! Rather a lot, mostly chopped into or awaiting the same, is on this bamboo rack which used to be in the ultra chic bathroom in my single-girl pad way back when. How times change!

Yet more lives on a thrifty car-boot-bought towel rail. Most items are on here because they fall into one or more of the following Hen's Den vintage embroidered categories: they're larger cloths; they're beautifully worked; they're in good condition. As such, they're keepers I won't be cutting into.

The other day when I was searching for something in my Den, I discovered my stash of embroidered tea cosies in a basket under piles of large pieces of fabric, presumably now too large to be housed with the toppling piles on the towel rails. Today, with a few luxurious hours ahead of me waiting supplies for other projects and with the Munchy at his drama club, it was time to get patching.

Of all the things I make and create, chop and sew, this sort of thing I was indulging in today is my most favourite. Before long, I had a pretty little pile. Oooh exciting!

I decided a 4" square would be best. I used flourescent quilters' tape to mark out the size on my 6.5" square ruler. This makes it much easier when you have a lot of patches to cut. You can see through the ruler enabling you to fussy cut your fabric. Oooh, I do like a spot of fussy cutting (if it's not too wasteful). I keep all the leftover bits of linen and use them to embroider words for brooches, notebooks, dolls' clothes and the like.

To pair with the yummy embroidered squares, I turned to The Stash.

Most specifically, the bestest bit, my vintage stash. I decided on a colour scheme of mainly pink and blue, with touches of green.

Much pleasurable patching later, my creation is starting to take shape. I decided to hand quilt, as the two pieces I've patchworked for this project are relatively small.

But oh my little fingers are bearing the scars already! It could be a while (well a few days) until this one is finished...

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Are You Sure?

Well readers, might I say thank you for your very positive response to the Hanky Panky quilt I showed you (in progress) in my last post. I'm glad so many of you really seem to like it. It's an unusual fabric range, sort of wish I'd bought more now!

But you know how it is, so many fabrics, so little time! Some of you even professed that the Hanky Panky is your most favourite quilt of all those I've made so far (currently totalling 40ish, to allow for WIPs). Wowee!

Then I realised that I'd failed to show you one of the contenders, finished a few weeks ago. How could you be sure Hanky Panky was your favourite if you hadn't seen this one?

Completely different in style, with this quilt I finally made a quilt which falls into my favourite category: "a 1930's style quilt using bright fabrics of the period (repro) with lots of white". I always admire these but I never put much white in my quilts. Who knows why? So I attacked my (ahem) quite extensive stash of 1930's reproduction cottons and set about making this quilt. The block is simple enough although it wasn't until I'd merrily made 120 of them and came to piece the top together that I realised the real skill lay in the accuracy, getting all those points which stand out so well against the white (t'riffic), to join nicely together.

I made the quilt larger than the one in the book as I wanted it to be big enough to go on our bed. Behold, the un-named-is-it-a-contender? quilt!

The pattern came from this book. I LOVE this book! Most of the designs in it are actually executed in not-so-pretty (in my opinion) fabrics but the designs are really different (without looking too hard to execute) and I knew as soon as I saw the book, that I'd actually want to make them (rather than just being "inspired" by the book which is more my usual thing). As you can see, the design of the quilt I made is on the front cover, it's my favourite. The book suggests using 2.5" strips of fabric (jelly rolls if you must), but I just cut my own from my stash.

The back is also a beauty, I think. I snapped up some Cath K fabric with pretty rosebuds on it in the John Lewis sale for half price (why oh why did I not buy more?) and in order to make the backing wide enough, pieced in a strip of 1930's repro fabric squares. The quilt has my fave 70/30 cotton blend batting and plain 1930's style green binding. The quilting (in the ditch) simply followed the outline of the coloured "flowers".

So what do you think then? Is it a contender?

Someone seems to think so!

(This photo above shows the true pretty colours of this quilt better than the others. Such unco-operative weather today, tut-tut.)

Personally, I prefer it to the Hanky Panky Quilt but am unconvinced that it eclipses the Spangled Spiderweb Quilt (so precious it hangs on the wall with strict instructions that it is not to be used!)

This quilt, we are enjoying for ourselves for once. In the book, it is called "The Picnic Quilt" but I have already made one of my own design called that, and as this isn't to be used for picnics, I need a different name. For now, it's in my quilts list in my sidebar as "30s Flowers Quilt" but if you have a better idea, do feel free to share!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Hanky Panky

There's an attention grabbing title for you! I'm sorry, I couldn't resist.

So what feels like waaay back, last week in fact at the cottage, I started a new quilt. Oh happy days, it's that delicious giddy feeling of being free of other projects and feeling without guilt that you can start something new. The dining room was about to become my country Den.

I've had in my stash for ages, this range of fabrics by Wyndham called "The Hankie Club". It consists of a printed panel and many co-ordinating prints.

I've long loved vintage hankies, their designs are absolutely gorgeous and I have quite a collection of the real thing. Joy then when Wyndham brought out this range. The printed panel consisted of 12 square hanky designs on one large sheet (I'd guess about 44" wide but about 1.5/2 yards long), to be cut out individually. Rather lovely they are too.

I also indulged in a selection of the ditsy floral prints. Too cute!

I've been pondering for ages what to do with the hanky squares and fabric and how to turn them into a quilt. This book is extremely useful. It doesn't contain actual quilt patterns (directions and measurements how to make them) but shows you how to combine blocks and how to lay them out to create different designs. Really gets you thinking about all the possibilities.

With all those pretty fabrics at my fingertips, I settled on making traditional log cabin blocks to intersperse with the hanky squares. I did a little rudimentary maths to come up with the required strip widths to end up with the desired finished block size.

Making the 10.5" log cabin blocks was rather pleasurable and I had ten blocks made in no time. I love it when you have enough blocks to start laying them out to get a feel for the quilt.

Now I decided for this quilt to set the blocks on point (so they look like a diamond, albeit a square one). This means that you need to cut what are called setting triangles to fill in down the sides (and corner triangles too). I sadly discovered that the fabric I had left was not big enough to cut the large squares that are then cross-cut for the triangles. I decided to make more log cabin blocks, this time over 16" so they became quite time consuming (read: knackering).

So no sooner had I laboured to make these perfectly square log cabin blocks, than I did this to them. Eeek!

The furniture shifted out of the way, the sitting room became my makeshift "design floor". So exciting, laying all the blocks out!

At this point, I realised my two days of rest had been rather shattering so I packed all the blocks away and here they sit now in my Den, waiting the next stage.

Oh if only all the washing, ironing and food shopping and stuff didn't get in the way. Very irritating, don't you find!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Hen's Rolls

Having been tipped off by fellow fab blogger LandGirl 1980 and happening for once to have a free Saturday, we prepared to descend on the Vintage vs Antiques Fair in Ewell in Surrey.

It was half an hour on the train out of London Waterloo so easily do-able. The fair was held in a groovy 1970's futuristic building which looked like a flying saucer, but the Munchkin was more taken with this Vauxhall in the car park. Who would have thought it of Vauxhall?!

The Fair was spread over two floors, upstairs being for antiques and homey things and downstairs being for fashion. No guesses that I headed straight down for the fashion.

We had a jolly time chatting with Sadie from FleaMarketChic (that is her beautifully styled stall in the top photo) and we did indeed bump into that LandGirl who looked fabulous in her rosey print dress and red lippy. I have to say that on the whole, the Fair was a disappointment for me. When I think of vintage, I want 1940s and 1950s and it really was apparent at this Fair that so many people now think of vintage as 1980s (often pretending to be 1940s). Each to their own, but it's not vintage to me (especially when I can remember what I consider to be the fashion faux pas of the '80s!) It's official, I am old!

I could count the 1940s dress on a couple of fingers and there was not an awful lot more from the '50s. True, there was the odd lovely piece, take this little number for example.

Anyway, all was not lost. I bought a cute pinny and some vintage 1930's magazines and other than that, the pennies went on having my very first 1940's "do". Behold my barnet, mid-transformation. Mr HH found far too much pleasure in taking snap after snap of me during the backcombing session...

But gradually, a roll began to emerge. Yay, victory indeed!

I could get used to this pampering. Pass the champers, dahling!

And there I was, a mere fifteen minutes later, all perfectly coiffed, vintage style!

(My dress was enjoying its first outing after I discovered it at a very wet and muddy Shepton Mallet Flea Market last Sunday. £20, a wash and a mend later, and it just goes to show that you can still find original, truly vintage pieces at reasonable prices in not necessarily the most obvious places!)

Thursday, 21 July 2011


Hello dear readers, hope this post finds you all tickety boo. We're back from the West Country though it was quite a wrench to leave, especially as we left in radiant sunshine and arrived back in London to grey rain! I was thrilled to find that "The Dahlia Man" near the cottage has once again started putting out his display of amazing blooms and honesty box so I was able to purchase these amazing flowers for a mere £2. Ah, I have enjoyed this view over the last week, another thing it was hard to leave.

Maybe it's just been too long since we've had a decent break away from town life but it really struck me how peaceful it is in the country, very little traffic, no noisy neighbours and I'd lie in bed marvelling at the silence, just the bird song to keep me company. Some blue tits were coming right under the thatch near the window, pecking away looking for insects. It's a view from my bed in the country about which I certainly can't complain.

Ah yes, that bed, there's nothing like your own bed is there?

In the bedroom, I have this little beauty corner. I've collected the few bits of antique crystal and silver from fairs and collectables shops over the years, the lampshade is beautiful if fragile and was bought from a car boot sale for 5p! The mirror and chest also came from antique shops (I coveted one of these mirrors for years). My mum found me the vintage embroidered runner which is really lovely, she has a knack for hunting out these things. I find plenty of vintage embroidered cloths (think I've come home with about ten this time), but it's not easy to find them on coloured backgrounds.

What I really wanted to show you are these stunning 1940's cosmetics, a box of face powder and a tube of cold cream (both still full!) I bought these from Lizzie a while back at Shepton Mallett and I really love them, there's nothing like this old packaging and they're in amazing condition. I recently saw a divine 1940's toiletry set on the www but it was pretty expensive. Still, these things are becoming rarer all the time and I confess I am still tempted!

Anyway, I've digressed a bit there as what I really want to talk about is this (which is what I was meant to be photographing in the bedroom!)

You may remember the blog post (I'm afraid I can't remember what date it was, though) where we picked this chair out of a skip at an auctioneers. It was looking very sorry for itself with wet soggy, ripped upholstery.

In April, it was time for a makeover. (It's taken me this long to get a reasonably sunny day this last week and take the final "ta dah" photos.) I wouldn't like to pretend I know much about upholstery or that this is a perfect job but as a free chair, I think we've made the most of it.

Off came all the old coverings, a thorough wash down ensued and then a strong hessian sack was stapled over the base springs. I then used a piece of newspaper to make a pattern of the seat.

Some thick foam went on top of the sack which was then wrapped in some leftover quilt batting to smooth the corners. Then it started to get really exciting!

I was let loose with my favourite colours of pink and green and raided my stash of both modern and vintage fabrics to make a patchwork. I loved it at this stage such that I didn't really then want to cut it up!

(Looking stylish in my work clothes of old stretchy trousers and Crocs!)

But chop the patchwork we did and a staple gun later, some vintage braid (found cheaply in a charity shop) and a glue gun et voila.

Ted is happy with his free chair!