Friday, 23 March 2012

Springing Flowers

Hello readers, here I am, back from the depths of "no internet connection gloom". Not to fear though, I've had plenty to keep me busy. On Wednesday, I headed off to the Country Living Fair which certainly didn't disappoint. I always love this Spring fair and prefer it over the Christmas one. The colours are so pretty, as are the flowers and decorations which proliferate and without Christmas decorations clogging up all the stands (you can only buy so many Christmas decorations?), not to mention the overwhelming pong of dried orange/clove/cinamon thingies, there seems to be more on offer. I headed mainly for items of the truly vintage variety. How do you like my new little tea cosy? Not bad for a fiver, eh?

Do you like my furry vintage lion, he came from the CL Fair, too? He looked at me with sad eyes and a falling-off-ear, so home he came.

Other things keeping me busy have been quilts, of course. I've just finished an order which I'll show you soon, as it's going to be posted today and it's only fair my customer gets first ogle. However, in between bits and pieces, I've also made pretty much my favourite type of quilt. A mix of florals and vintage embroidery, it's a little like the very first quilt I ever made.

The cottons are mainly 1930's reproduction florals mingled with a few blocks of pretty Cath Kidston, whose fabrics always lend a freshness to the scheme. I enjoyed deliberating far too long over which vintage embroideries I could include. These give a really special touch, I think.

Ooooh pretty! It looks quite at home...

But no, no, no. Out into the glorious sunshine (where my industrious other half and parents are hard at it in the garden,) for a bit of a washing line reveal. Please excuse our neighbour's new and disgustingly orange fencing. Why does it come out of the factory orange?

Off this quilt goes to a special new home, to make happy cosy memories with a new family. A quilt to grow old with.

The listing can be found in my blogshop here. Do have a super weekend, whatever you are up to. Now I'd better head out into the garden, too.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

A Slumbery Ta-Dah

Hello readers, greetings from sunny London! Today I am hanging around, (waiting to hear the car is ready to be collected after its service,) so when the sun appeared I snatched up my camera and started snapping.

I thought we'd have a "flannel ta-dah"! I encouraged Vorey to vacate the bed and then set about shaking off the errm, odd bit of cat fur and making the bed look a bit pretty. So pretty, a ginger friend decided to take up residence.

Ummmm, cosy!

I feel a tad miffed that my ta-dah moment has been hijcked so the pictures here are the best I can do. I am very pleased with the flannel, it's so super soft and cosy and I've made it quite a big quilt so there's plenty to get snuggling in, good job as there's generally a fair few bodies in there vying to claim the flannel!

I've had various questions about the flannel so here's a bit of a re-cap in one place. The actual flannel fabrics came from varying sources, collected over at least a year. I've bought vintage sheets and pillowcases, whether from thrifty sources or the backing sheet which came from the Country Living Fair (it was still only £8). You need to check for wear as flannel does get bobbly; some is delightfully acceptable, what you don't want is for the fabric to look worn. I picked up the odd new pretty flannel sheet, TK Maxx is always a good source. My sister assisted by looking out for flannel and bought me a gorgeous vintage-looking piece from Abakhan in Chester. I bought the odd new piece or fat quarter myself, from quilt fairs and also my local sewing shop which sells narrow flannelette sheeting on the bolt with the intention that it be used for baby bedding. Steer clear of the cutesy prints and stock up on the florals and polka dots. I then had two main sources of vintage flannel; one being Kim of Worn and Washed, whose stall my sister and I always head for at the Festival of Quilts. Kim sells strip rolls of 5" wide "pre-loved" fabrics, including flannel. I bought one of those ages ago. I then asked my fabric friend Donna if she had any flannels and she came up trumps with a fab selection. In the end, I think I must have had a dozen different designs from her.

I pieced the top in a pretty much haphazard fashion (so very enjoyable!) I then layered the vintage backing sheet and the batting. I chose Dream Puff batting which is polyester and has a high loft. I felt this would work well with the flannel and give a nice pouffey feel for maximum snuggle-ability. I then hand basted the quilt layers (how boring?) because flannel can be quite loose weave and prone to shifting, also because I felt it would be nicer sitting quilting it on the sofa without lots of metal pins sticking in me.

I then proceeded to hand quilt using big stitches, utility style, with prettily coloured perle cottons, size 8 . Thanks to Kate, I did indeed use a sashiko needle for the quilting which worked a treat and provided many a pleasurable hour in front of the fire in the evening. (You can get the batting, sashiko needles and the perle cottons from The Cotton Patch).

I decided to bind the quilt with strips taken from a vintage candy striped sheet. Oh happy days, I think this is marvellous! It's a budget option if you have picked your sheet up thriftily (I have stockpiled a few over the years), because the sheets are wide it yields very long strips (fewer to join) and the cotton is fab quality so will be hard wearing. I thought a flannel binding would get worn and bobbly very quickly, the edges of a quilt take the most wear. The only thing is that the sheeting is quite thick so a little tougher to hand sew but a price worth paying.

So there you have it, my first but certainly not the last adventure in flannel. I'd still like a shot of the quilt on the line but that all depends on the furry friends, of course! (Update: I've just checked, there is only one ginger there now, Charlie Boy ... but Vorey too. I give up!) I've had some enquiries about making flannel quilts to sell, thank you kindly. I've probably got enough flannel to make one smaller quilt but it will have to wait a while.

As my flannel ta-dah was cut short and as I was in the bedroom anyway, I thought we'd let ourselves go today with a double ta-dah (gasp) and have a look at our bedroom, which you may recall was being decorated at the end of last year.

I've been having problems with both my camera and photo software such that the photos are in disarray so apologies that I have spent time searching for the "before" photos in vain. The paint for the walls was colour-matched by the paint shop to the background of the wallpaper, a trick of which I am fond. I think it looks like a pool of melted vanilla ice cream and is a good foil for everything else that's going on in this room. I painted the fireplace which formerly was very black and masculine. It's not original to the house, although it is an authentic period piece, and wouldn't have been our choice, but we decided not to replace it. I used (many coats of) "All White" by Farrow and Ball (with a metal primer underneath).

Once the main decorating was over, we trotted off one weekend to Bridport with a shopping list which read:

Vintage etched mirror
Vintage glass candlesticks
Old Lloyd Loom blanket box
Old side chair
Old lamp base and lamp shade

Quite unbelievably, we managed to find every single thing we wanted amongst the street market and charity or vintage shops. Here (in the photo above), it's the mantel mirror you can see, a bargain at £14, and the glass candlesticks for £5. The divine rug came from the lovely Clare at Vintage Home, purveyor of the most covetable vintage items. Always worth treating yourself to a few seriously beautiful items to lift the whole scheme.

We didn't feel we could replace the bedside tables which were relatively new. I think they may well get a paler paint treatment, it's just psyching myself up to getting round to it! Likewise, we already had the lovely Barcelona chair. Arguably, I wouldn't have chosen it to go with this new colour scheme but well, it is a nice and comfy chair so it stays, adorned with quilts, cats and so on. I had covered the headboard a while ago using a vintage woollen blanket and the tapestry picture on the wall came from the Country Living Fair. I swapped the bedside table lamps for the ones in our guest room which I preferred. These had previously received a makeover a few years ago when I recovered the shades in my fave Cath K ditsy floral print and added a velvet trim.

The main challenge in this room was to curtain the windows. There was no doubt about changing the previous curtains which had been ravaged by the fierce afternoon sun this room receives, but I couldn't find any vintage ones large enough, with the triple bay window measuring a staggering 14' wide and 10' long. I really wanted Cath Kidston ones in the beautiful linen upholstery fabric but a quotation for over £1200 made me think twice! So, I turned to eBay and watched for a good while for curtains big enough. One day, there they were, £250, an awful lot more affordable and they are beautifully made, inter-lined curtains which apparently once came from a grand house in Dorset. They are now "slumming" it here! I had them dry cleaned (£90, eek!) and replaced the narrow header tape with a deep one which I actually took off our previous curtains as it was in perfect order. They hang much better with a deeper heading tape.

Because this room faces onto the road, we put up some simple Ikea roller blinds in a light fabric, just to shade the room, which we keep down all the time. They are great and let the light in but obscure the view. I opted for some pretty glass curtain hold backs from Laura Ashley.

I did indeed find the lamp base and shade. I have become quite obsessed with lamps recently but that's another post! The vintage glass lamp base was £5 and cleaned up a treat. I stockpile old lampshades from charity shops for a few pounds and like this one, I cover them with vintage fabric. You may have seen this sort of style in Cath K, they're pretty easy to make for yourself. I dislike overhead lighting (practical though it is for certain purposes) and am a big fan of lots of task and table lamps. We already owned all the vintage pictures, radio and so on.

We also came up trumps with the blanket box at the vintage market. I've yet to recover the lid as I can't decide on fabric (the original is pretty but damaged) but this has been a great find as I have been able to store all the bedding in here and free up space in my utility room. It is also, of course, an extra kitty seat!

It is now a home to my vintage embroidered sachets, one for your nighty, the other for hankies (for which I do have a little weakness).

The chair, well yes, we found that ready-painted round the street market. Unusually, I even bought the cushion on it, also from the street market (it's one of those things about which I usually think "I can make them myself") but I just really loved the fabric. They were both very reasonably priced and it's always nice to support your local hard-working vendors, don't you think? The print is an original Eileen Soper which accompanied the Enid Blyton nature stories for school rooms back in the 1950s. (That rather delightful vintage double wedding quilt recently arrived from America, via eBay, oops.)

The Munchkin is a hardened thrifty shopper with a keen eye for a good vintage cushion!

And you probably spotted the wallpaper already. When we moved in, there was a whole wall full of built-in wardrobes which were great for storage except they didn't have any doors to hide the clutter. Finally, we have had simple MDF doors made which are painted inside and papered on the outside with this pretty, vintage-looking Anna French rosebud wallpaper. The paper has been sealed with a special decorators' matt varnish.

The vintage knobs we had stock-piled from the architectural salvage stall on the Bridport street market. This wall of wardrobes with doors has probably effected the most change to the room, now it generally looks pretty tidy.

I approve, says Charlie Boy. Don't forget the eidy?

At night, it's rather a nice place to relax, too.

Well, Jacky Ginge thinks so!

Monday, 12 March 2012

Wash Day Not-So-Blues

Ah, Spring has sprung here in the capital, readers. It is a glorious day and I have spent most of it out in the garden where it seems there is much to do. I decided I'd also have a little change round on my Bagpuss table. It's a work in progress but I have put my hyacinth tablecloth on which seems appropriate and my little light-up-bunny. Cute or what?!

One thing I really love when the weather improves is that instead of cluttering up every radiator with laundry, I can finally peg the clothes out on the line. They also seem to smell so much nicer and look somewhat brighter, when they've had a blow in the sunny breeze, don't you find.

Once I started hanging my washing outdoors last week, I realised I needed to make a new peg bag as my last one must have blown off the line and was found sometime later in the bushes, having been chewed by our foxy furry friends. Naughty! Note to self: do not leave peg bag on the line once finished with each day. A quick shifty on the good old internet found a simply darling vintage peg bag. Oooh, I want one of those, I thought. I popped the image onto my Pinterest board for future reference (don't you just love Pinterest?)

The lady who owned the vintage peg bag had been kind enough to draft a pattern and write out a tutorial. I didn't have the facility to enlarge the templates so I just sort of drew my own out on graph paper and altered the size of the front pinny a little bit. I also lined the top half of my peg bag so the same pretty fabric would be on show. Then onto choosing the vintage embroidery for the little pinny, the ric rac trim, the binding, the braid. Oooh, happy days.

I even painted the wooden hanger, so giddy-in-love was I with my new peg bag!

You know, of course, that my peg bag obsession did not stop there? Not when there were polka dots, feedsacks, gingham to conquer!

I've popped a few in my blogshop and you'll find the listing here should you be interested. Don't forget, it's Mother's Day this Sunday, 18 March.

I've put up a new hook in the utility room so now I have no excuse to leave my far-too-pretty peg bag outside to the menaces of the furry foxes!

Monday, 5 March 2012

Nursery Days

Well, it has been a pleasant surprise today to find the sky is actually blue and the sun is shining! It seemed just right to show you some pretty spring-coloured beauties I have made in recent times. They all have something of a children's nursery theme about them.

Most of the dolly quilts I have made have tended towards the sludgey variety and one day, I simply thought to myself, I'm going to make a doll quilt in my favourite sugary shades. I didn't follow a pattern because as you'll see, it's just a very simple design of nine-patch blocks alternated with white setting squares and triangles.

Each block features one ditsy flowered cotton and a solid pastel coloured fabric, generally 1930's reproduction designs. Hopefully, you can just make out the pretty flower-shaped hand quilted design in the plain white blocks. I traced the motif using a water soluble pen and an acetate stencil.

Cute? It measures about 17.5" square.

For my little play about with child-themed things this morning, I just had to include this pretty-in-pink gorgeous crib that has been subject to a Hen-style make-over. Some pink eggshell paint and lots of delightful vintagey bedding later, this rather unique crib is just ready for a special little girl.

It has a new mattress and pillow, flannelette sheet, vintage wool blanket, vintage embroidered crochet-edged pillowcase and of course, a traditional patchwork quilt, made just the same as I make my regular sized quilts. I can't not mention the little top sheet though, can you see how beautifully it is embroidered with little pastel-coloured bunnies and flowers. Delightful!

(The details of this super crib can be found here in my blogshop should you be interested in re-homing it.)

Last but not least, some time ago, I happened across a really lovely vintage linen textile hand embroidered with cute animals. I decided it would be stunning in a patchwork and so have incorporated the embroidered patches into a crib-sized quilt. It measures approximately 34" x 42".

I interspersed the embroidered patches with nine-patch blocks which are made in a dazzling array of realllly gorgeous candy-coloured 1930's reproduction-style fabrics. I then machine appliqued some pretty heart motifs onto the other white blocks and hand quilted round these with perle cottons.

I think this would be adorable in a little one's nursery and I really enjoyed working on a slightly smaller project, much less heavy than the usual quilts I make and the colours and embroidery, well they're just darling.

(This Sweet Treasures quilt can be found waiting a special new home in my blogshop here. Sold now, many thanks.)

So there you have it, a pretty collection of divinely-coloured-rather-special items! Roll on Spring...

Friday, 2 March 2012

Flannel and Fur

Hi all human readers, Mummy is letting me blog as she is having a beyond pants week, she says. She's feeling poorly and has far too much rubbish stuff to do but she won't bore you with the details. She's worked very hard sorting and tidying the utility room which had become a bit of a "dumping ground" apparently. She enjoyed the bit where she put her pretty things on the shelf and even some pictures she bought at last year's car boot sales on the wall. It's a work in progress, still lots to do in there, she say wearily.

Never mind, because we are doing all the resting for her. This morning, she woke up early and decided to get on with hand quilting the flannel for a bit as she hasn't made any progress on it for a week. We got pretty excited as she headed back to bed with the flannel. We decided to help her and keep her company.

Charlie Boy is obsessed with the flannel so he dived straight on and started some serious purring.

Even Vorey Puss joined us, he won't usually come near me as I'm a bully-cat mummy says, and he sat right on mummy's lap which she said was not helpful and in the end she did make him move.

Better to find yourself a quiet corner of the flannel straight off, I've found. I asserted my rights up front by staging a flannel sit-in. It certainly is very cosy.

Mummy is pleased though, as she did manage to finish all the hand quilting this morning. Yippee she says. She then made two runs to the charity shop (for once she was actually taking things to the charity shop) and came back thinking she'd get something called "the binding" on the quilt. I'm afraid she came into the bedroom to find we were still doing what we do best and were having a good old cat nap.

I don't know what binding is but I know it can wait.

Have a purrfect weekend. xxx

P.S. Don't forget the sale in Mum's Etsy shop. Thanks to all you lovely customers, she says.