Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Not So Wordy Wednesday
























One of the very first blogs I ever read was Alicia's Paulson's wonderful Posie gets Cozy.  I'm pretty sure you will be a devoted follower too, and if not, where have you been?

Alicia has a set pattern for her blog posts; she loads a whole lot of delightful photos and then she talks to us about them in a narrative which follows underneath.  I seem to be blogging less and less these days, quite simply because time seems to fly by and before I know it, another week or even ten days has passed by.  It's not my intention to blog in this way all the time, but as I seem to be playing catch up and I have a real jumble of things to share with you, Alicia's method spoke to me and so today, here I am, giving it a try.

So, we are through half term already which seemed to see us fitting an awful lot into a short space of time.  We did head West later in the week, stopping in Alresford in Hampshire which is a favourite little town.  Some nice individual shops for me, the steam railway for the boys and a lovely cosy pub for lunch for us all.  The weather was quite kind whilst we were in Somerset. I took some crafty bits and bobs with me, mainly a tin full of narrow, teeny strips of yummy vintage fabric.  We made the obligatory trip to Bridders on the Saturday and we also fitted in a flea market.  I didn't feel like I found much this time, seems like there is a lack of stock around, not least because there are no car boot sales, I suppose.  Still, when I unpacked my haul, and needed to find a home for it, I had amassed quite a little treasure trove.  Lots of very inspiring stuff.

Now that the shower room is finished...  Excuse me just a minute, whoah, let's rewind there.  Did somebody say THE SHOWER ROOM IS FINISHED?  Well, after a final push we were frustrated to find we'd been sent the incorrect part for the shower screens so a wait ensued and Handyman Steve went home while the part winged its slow way from Cumbria (thank goodness for buying British, though).  To all intents and purposes, it is finished but I think I want to make something to dress the window, I even bought some fabric yesterday, so when that is done, we shall have a grand unveiling ceremony.  But there are a few snaps today just to keep you going.

I am enjoying having the house back to myself and have done a spot of baking here and there.  I always feel quite unsettled when there is someone here working and find it hard to stick to my little routine.  I tend to hide myself away in my Den, always a source of inspiration and pleasure, and following my energetic quilt listing session last week, I have been swept off my feet with orders and requests for custom work. I started a pretty pastel quilt for a cat lover, today.  This is to include the colours pink and green, which are my favourite, so I am being spoiled in making this quilt, really.  I am making it for a lovely lady who has commissioned me before and it always feels such a pleasure to have people return.

So, I fear it's time to leave my little space here for today and get back to that quilt (more like, I cannot wait!) and look forward to a slice of tea loaf later.  I have some of those pretty raggy fabric rosettes listed in my Etsy shop along with the iPad (other tablets are available) cover, so watch that space if you are feeling like a treat.

Thanks for reading.  Xxx

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Quiltastic

Hello readers.  I was just about to wish you a "Good Morning" only realised it is now past midday so that would have been inappropriate.  It just goes to show how the hours whizz by, though.  I've been up and busy since early this morning.  It was dark and gloomy and steadily, the day has improved weather-wise.  I have spent the morning doing something which is not one of my favourite chores.  But now it is done and I am relieved.  Phew!

Let's get on to one of my favourite subjects: quilt making.  It seems that I haven't shown you any of the quilts I've made for a while; truth be told that's because I love making them, oh yes indeedy, but I do rather loathe all the photographing and listing that then ensues.  Having sold the last two quilts in my shop, I thought I'd better pull my finger out (of its thimble?)

A little stack was awaiting me...



This time of year, my task of snapping and listing is doubly difficult because of the conditions outside.  Even if it is not raining, the ground is damp, as is just about everything else, including my washing line and bench so beloved for my little photo shoots.  Last time, when I snapped the Feedsack Frames quilt, I made do with the living room.  So this morning, it was time to push the furniture to the edges, razz round the hoover and get out the little step ladders.  Then I had to unfurl all the quilts and give them a good shake and a gentle iron.  Finding somewhere to put them to keep them smooth and fresh is the next challenge.  My furry supervisor seems disinterested in proceedings.



In fact, he's asleep on the job!  Are you sitting comfortably?  I have five quilts to show you!  



Just a minute, best check I am appropriately attired?



That will do nicely.  Off we go then.

First we have a simple rail fence design, this is a good one for a relative newbie should you fancy making your own, though you do have to take care to keep those strips straight. I chose my fave colours, pink and green of course, and that lavender-y blue which I so adore. 



I made this to take with me to road test new machines.  In fact, all but for one line, it ended up being quilted on Jenny Janome because she is the best!



I love it.  Simple, colourful and pretty.  It's a good size and feels a nice weight, too.  Looks good in the guest room, it has to be said!  But no, into the Etsy shop it goes. 




Who do we have next?  Let's go for something sweet and simple.  This one I also quilted on Jenny Janome, her first quilt, and my she is a top notch quilter.  This one is quite dinky, it would be perfect for a child's throw, cot or pram blanket I think, but would make a nice little lap blanket, too.  I took a charm pack of very pretty fabric which looked inspired by those yummy vintage sheets of the 1950s and '60s.  It was a range called "Dream On", out a few years ago, but would you believe that I somehow managed to lose it amongst my stash until recently.



I needed to supplement the charm pack (which is a pack of roughly 42 pre-cut 5" squares) with fabric from my stash, in the form of modern polka dots and the like and also, some real vintage sheeting.  


This morning, I've had fun turning the Munchkin's room into a girly den.  I love it.  Him?  Not so much.


I did quite a lot of quilting on this one, even though it's small, as I felt it would liven up the squares and well, I was enjoying the quilting so much, to be honest.  A touch of tangerine binding was the perfect finishing touch.  Groovy baby!

Onwards, let's hop to something rather colourful, shall we?  Remember that photo with the socks up there?  You do?  You also may remember this quilt when it was in its infancy?  First, I cut myself A LOT of strips of gorgeous fabrics, all inspired by feedsack quilts I had seen on Pinterest.  I sorted them into different widths and each went into a box.



Before long, such was my enthusiasm for this project, I was basting and pinning.  The Munchkin decided it made the perfect backdrop for his zoo???


I quilted this one very simply.  I've said it before, I will again: swirly twirly quilting is not really for me.  And certainly not on a quilt that's already this busy.



I really haven't been able to do this quilt justice with a photograph in this dingy weather.  It is much clearer and prettier "in real life".  Luckily, this is what my customers always say to me when they receive something from me!  It has a jazzy minty green backing and some rather striking binding.



Back to mellow, I decided a while back to try my hand at a "low volume" quilt.  This has been a bit of a trend in quilt making and involves the use of pale fabrics which aren't too shouty and arresting.  I'm not sure how successful I was at achieving my brief, pale is not really my thing, but I am pleased with the "sort of low volume" outcome.



I pinched the Munchkin's bed again; well, he does have the only single in the house!


Sigh!  How I wish it could stay looking this way.  Oh well, maybe somebody will buy it for their little princess and send me a snap, then I'll be content.  The fabrics may be pale in colour but they are certainly interesting in print.  Something to enjoy looking at each bedtime.

Talking of which, you may recall that I hopped on this years QAL (that's quilt-a-long to you and me) with the economy block quilt.  (Scroll down a little and you'll see my blog post with a few details in case you fancy it yourself.) This is a deceptively simple looking block.  There's a lot of precision cutting for a start, not to mention the time spent deliberating on choosing just the right fabrics.  No fabric is used twice in this quilt.  It pays to have a good stash.  I cut as I went along, making up enough for about ten blocks at a time.  I wanted to sew that many each day but I didn't always achieve my target.



Making each block was rather enjoyable.  Putting them together was a different ball game.  It was only then that it became apparent just how many points there were to join up.  Oooh, not sure I will tackle this again in a hurry!

Then there was all the sandwiching and pinning but that was the easy bit. Perhaps I will start doing that in my sleep soon.  I decided on very simple in-the-ditch quilting.  The quilt is so busy and colourful, I didn't think it could take an awful lot more.  Quilting can be solely utilitarian, for the purpose of holding the layers together, or it can be decorative.  Here, it was solely the former.




It's a fun quilt, that's for sure.  Each block has a fussy cut centre of novelty fabric, surrounded by two layers of complimentary jazzy fabrics.  I really pulled out a lot of my stash making this one.  I think it would definitely liven up bedtimes!  Think of all those stories to be made up, taking each block as a starting point.



Thank you so much for sticking with my quiltastic never-ending blog post today.  I hope it has inspired projects of your own or if not, a little spree in my Etsy shop!  It's always nice to treat yourself or someone special.  There you will find all of these quilts awaiting new homes, all sizes, all fabrics and for all purses!  

I need a sit down after all that.  But I think I might just make a start with these...



Xxx


Monday, 10 February 2014

Home Sweet Home: The Shower Room Makeover

Howdy readers.  I come to you today with alternative tales of hope and woe!  You see one reason I have been a bit busy of late is that we've embarked on a room makeover here at the HenHouse.  And what do you know, it hasn't gone exactly to plan.  Are you sitting comfortably?  Do you have a cup of tea (I might have something stronger!)  Then let's begin.


We've been here in my beloved HenHouse for getting on nine years now and having moved about a fair bit whilst I was studying, this is the longest I've been in one place (barring my parents' home way back).  We've done our bit to put our stamp on most rooms in the house and it was becoming glaringly obvious that we needed to turn our attention to our ground floor shower room which looked as it did when we moved in.  Despite having added in a few girly bits, there was no getting away from those grim black tiles and blue painted walls (can you tell we bought our home from a single bloke?)  It was making the room very dark and the fittings were also looking dated and not to our taste.


I must stress though, that this project was intended to be a bit of a revamp.  It was NOT meant to be a blow-the-budget, rip-everything-out and have-the-bathroom-of-your-dreams type make over.  I'd been pondering our new scheme some time with the help of my trusty Pinterest boards.  The boiler cupboard needed to stay, the loo was ok and could stay too, as could the floor.  But the rest needed attention on a tightish budget.


Somebody else obviously liked the mirror and wash basin as they went onto Ebay and soon found a new home.  I do like a bit of recycling and I was happy to have a few pennies for my revamp pot.


My trusty handyman arrived ready for action at the beginning of January.  An auspicious start; New Year : new shower room.  He's worked his magic on our kitchen, other shower room, bedroom and sitting room and probably some other areas besides.  I must make good tea and cakes as he keeps coming back.  

Day one and the official ripping out ceremony went well.  Hurrah. Be gone manky old shower unit! Every blow of the chisel to those black tiles was sweet indeed.


Will you be surprised if I tell you that it wasn't long before disaster struck.  Living in a nearly 140 year old house is largely a pleasure.  I can while away many an hour admiring the intricate coving and ceiling roses, lighting fires in the beautiful cast iron fireplaces with their marble surrounds and loving the light which floods through the huge sash windows.  But with a house this old, there are nearly aways surprises waiting for you when you start looking underneath.  Aaarrgghh! In this case, it was moisture in the walls.  The old shower had definitely been leaking.  Oh pants.  So off came all the old plaster.  Steve-the-Handyman is not looking too impressed either at this stage.  The dust, oh you wouldn't have believed the incredibly fine dust and how it managed to travel up three flights of stairs.


It was definitely a case of looking worse before it got better.


Meanwhile, I'd spent a lot of time on the internet sourcing all the new items we needed at the best prices for the shower room.  They started to arrived and occupy other rooms in the house.  There was no getting away from the new project.


In my head, my vision for the new shower room definitely was going to be clean and bright and fresh but with a vintage edge, of course.  I decided not to go all out girly (so hard!) and a bit of an Art deco influence emerged amongst the images which attracted me.


(Image: englishtapware.com.au)

Certain features were added to the "desirables" list.  I really wanted an old cabinet to paint and put a wash basin on but I couldn't find anything I liked, I wasn't prepared to shell out for a new one which wouldn't have that old look I wanted anyway, so I ended up going for a regular basin which I got a really good deal on.  Something square and sturdy.  When we went to Pickering back in October, we stayed in a lovely country house hotel in Malton and the bathrooms were stunning.  Very restrained and neutral but classy.  I decided to go for the same tiles they had there.  Can't beat a brick tile.  Good and cheap, too.

(Image: wallsandfloors.co.uk)

This room doesn't have a bath but it's quite a good size, so I felt we could go for a sizeable shower, probably a walk-in type with clean lines but hopefully a bit of a wow factor.  Something easy to clean, too.  I saw this one in John Lewis which I rather liked and it had the advantage of being made by a quality British manufacturer from whom we'd bought an enclosure before.  I wasn't going to pay John Lewis prices though, so I went through the manufacturer direct.

(Snapped in John Lewis!)

Whilst I was out and about in the shopping centre, I may have picked up a few little accessories, just to keep me going.


Other images were grabbing me.  I liked the idea of some wall lights.  Finding some wasn't so easy as they had to be special IP44 rated ones, suitable for use near water in a bathroom.  This really cut down my options, as did price.  Vintage mirrors?  Oh yes, I love those anyway, that was pretty much a given and I had two to choose from already.  I paid the same for my vintage mirror as I sold the other old one on Ebay.  Good stuff.

 (Image: housetohome.co.uk)

There definitely had to be a bit of a vintage vibe going on.  I also wanted one of those wooden wall cabinets (inspired by Nikki and her lovely collections at Nostalgia at the Stonehouse).

 (Image: theguardian.com)

Lace, there definitely needed to be lace in there somewhere.

 (Image: sonjabannick.de/tinehouse)

Walls-wise, they were mainly going to be tiled in the wet areas and otherwise, painted in a pale colour. I wanted a feature wall though, and plumped for wallpaper.  I thought nothing too pink, twee or floral.  This is my idea of that!  (From good ole' Cath K.)


Meanwhile, and at least three weeks in, the shower room still looked like a no-go zone.


I carried on my planning regardless.  I had pinned an image which had gorgeous old vintage cream wallpaper with blowsy roses on it but what I really liked was the door surround picked out in a contrasting paint.  So off I went to my local trade paint shop to play with colours.  Always sweet agony deciding.


Finally, things started to look a lot cleaner and the tiles were going up.


I got my hands dirty too.  The poor dining room became my painting den as I set to it, transforming some old wooden furniture I had found thriftily.  (The little set of drawers is not for the shower room.  I have other plans for those, oh yes indeedy.)




I do not want to see any paint again for quite some time.

Unfortunately, here we are at the start of week 6 and the shower room still isn't finished.  I'm hoping (again) that it's now a matter of days.  Things have really moved on though and as of today, most of the decorating has been done bar the odd final coat here and there.  I'm liking how it is looking.


It is definitely looking a lot lighter (although it is again a very dull and rainy day here).  I'm doing my best to keep the faith and see the finishing line.


I certainly haven't been idle and I'm itching to get that wooden cupboard on the wall and play with arranging my stockpiled vintage goodies.  I've enjoyed visiting flea markets and making a few Ebay purchases as well as bringing together some pretty bits I already had elsewhere in the house.


Let's hope it's not too long before I can show you how everything has come together.

Fingers crossed. Xxx