Baby Walton is here

IMG_3985

Joseph Thomas Walton born 05.04.15 at 8lb 7oz.

IMG_3988

He is the first of many boys in our family not to be born in March although he was due on 25.03.15. I think the little chap got quite comfy in there and nodded off.

IMG_3989

He is a little brother to Ella and a great nephew to me.

IMG_3992

His dad Gareth & mum Natalie have just finished decorating his nursery in their new home which will be filling up with lovely presents for him as we speak.

IMG_3997

It’ll be interesting to see what his big sis thinks of him now he has finally arrived. She was very much looking forward to his arrival but I suspect that sharing mum & dad won’t quite have the appeal she thought.

IMG_4003

We will visit in a few weeks when things have calmed down and the exhausting flow of well wishers of the first few days has ebbed away.

IMG_4034

It’s very exciting and since it has corresponded with me finally finishing the Jungle Chums blanket, it seems a fitting welcome present. I popped it in the post with a few cuddly jungle toys to adorn his newly ready nursery room and hope he enjoys it.

IMG_4037

 

weekend workspace

vintage table cloth

vintage table cloth

Well I have finally got my little sewing corner finished and the wine box shelves are in place with everything just where I need it now.

workspace shelves completed

workspace shelves completed

I started arranging this little weekend workspace in spring 2014 but managed to finish it in October (just not had time to talk about it).

rows of buttons

rows of buttons

I’m really pleased with the use of the wall space that the wine boxes provide and it is an inexpensive way to get storage and shelving.

It also appeals to the recycler in me so ticks many boxes (!!) and only took about 10 minutes to install.

my gorgeous little singer featherlite

my gorgeous little singer featherlite

I have somewhere away from my sewing table and sewing machine to store my collection of vintage table cloths, napkins and cloths, the staggered line breaks up the width and the spaces between are perfect for those long awkward knitting needles.

sewing table

sewing table

There is a stash of unfinished work (no!!) in a trunk nearby and some fabrics in a rather nice basket ready to be turned into something. All this and a commission for the pooch pouches (Sorry it is taking so long, Barb. I haven’t forgotten!!)

cut glass bowl of threads

cut glass bowl of threads

Now I need to find some ever elusive time to sit there and get busy.

scraps and spares

scraps and spares

soft furnishings

JRT cushion

JRT cushion

I rarely make things for myself or our home these days but I have started a range of cushions inspired by our JRT, Max and one of them is now on our sofa.

detail

detail

I’m not the first so nothing new there, there are lots of makers who are putting silhouettes of their pooches on bags, cushions and T-Shirts.

detail

detail

But the covers on our sofa cushions, have become a bit shabby and with a plan to build an extension and fit new curtains soon (I think I know which will be easier), it got me thinking about bringing some of the colours together.

detail

detail

My inspiration for all the decor in our living/dining room has been 2 limited edition lithograph prints by Brenda Hastin. They aren’t worth anything more than about £40 each but I love them with a passion.

Max

Max

The colours are gorgeous and as a result, everything in our living/dining room is based on these colours and the textures in these 2 prints.

The walls are white like the clouds, the floor is american black walnut like the substrate, the sofa is dark grey like the layers of the rocks, the rug is pale grey, winter white and the pale teal like some of the other layers of rock, sea and sky. So far, this is about it really.

weiner!!

weiner!!

It’s a simple and easy pallet that I love and one that I could inject any number of other colours into (if I felt so inclined).

I’m fundamentally lazy though (& scared of colour – can you believe it?) and things stay the same for very, very long periods of time.

I fancy lime, I fancy yellow and I fancy khaki but I probably won’t go there (although I do have some lime napkin rings!!!) so working with the pallet that I have and love, this cushion fits in perfectly. I just need to add more of the colours to the next ones now.

ready to start

ready to start

 

 

I’m going to add to the range with other slightly different cushions (sausage dogs, labradors and other popular breeds) that I will sell but finishing this one has inspired me to make more things for us. I’ll finish accessorising our living room which will enable me to tie together the colours from the prints onto the additional cushions for the sofa that sits in the bright light of our lovely victorian window.

same colour way as our JRT cushion

same colour way as our JRT cushion

Another job to add the ever lengthening list of things to do!!

 

Vintage Apron

ready to wear

ready to wear

All the aprons I make are generally long bib aprons with decorative appliqué.

wide pocket

wide pocket

I have just finished a short waist apron in vintage floral fabric that is decorated with yellow velvet ribbon and I rather like it. It is something I will make again.

pocket trim

pocket trim

It is roughly based on a very old apron that my gran used to use (I think it was hers – it has certainly been around a while) which is very thread bear and much the worse for it’s years of service.

waist band trim

waist band trim

The pocket detail is full width and divided to hold cloths, tools and anything else you need when wearing it, be that in the kitchen or elsewhere.

tie at waist

tie at waist

I love this fabric. I picked it up a few months ago and I have already used for a different apron but I have been waiting for an excuse to use this lovely yellow velvet ribbon for an age and this was it.

 

 

Doggy Bag

dog in a bag

H being a dog in a bag model

One of the guys that I walk with on a morning when I take my JRT, Max, out has a little lhasa apso called Tilly.

She is 14 years old and although she seems incredibly fit for her age, she suffers quite badly from arthritis.

get me outta here!!

get me outta here!!

This isn’t helped by her dense and curly coat which holds all the moisture in this wet and windy weather and doesn’t dry at all quickly.

The damp adde to the soggy coat makes her very stiff, achy and miserable in the cold and wet weather.

I have already suggested that she is towelled down before she goes in the car for the trip home but having seen how she objects to being messed about with (and let’s face it, she has earned her objections at 14), I can see just how tricky it is to manage that.

No point in the little lady suffering unnecessarily, so I have made her a towelling drying bag for her trip home in the car.

The idea is that the ‘bag’ dries the dog as they rest or travel and it keeps them warm at the same time (key for little Tilly).

Couldn’t be simpler to create either:-

1 cut the decorative edge from your recycled towel

1 cut the decorative edge from your recycled towel

take an old towel (this is one that my mum donated to us) which I have dyed (Dylon Woodland Brown) a practical and serviceable colour for using on the dogs when they have been out getting dirty…….

1 – Cut the decorative finished edging off the towel (this one is about 70cm x 110cm – and the size of towel needed for a small dog).

2 – Fold the towel length ways

3 – cut a triangle off one corner 10cm down (on both layers)

4 – sew the short seam (this forms the front)

5 – sew the opposite straight seam (this forms the back)

zip

6 fit zip down back

6 –  fit the zip along the back (allowing enough space for the towelling loops so they don’t catch on the zip teeth). I happened to have a chunky brown zip that had been taken out of something. It is an open bottomed zip and not the full length of the bag but sewn in to fit.

towelling loops need to clear zipper teeth

towelling loops need to clear zipper teeth

7 - forming corners

7 – forming corners

7 – fold open (right sides facing) and sew bottom corners to give depth to base of the bag

trim corner once sewn

trim corner once sewn

8 – turn collar over to allow for threading cord or a ribbon on inside and sew, thread ribbon for tightening.

8 - tie ribbon inside in case the neck needs to be pulled a little snugger

8 – tie ribbon inside in case the neck needs to be pulled a little snugger

Tada!!!

I have added a few extra details such as a towelling tab over the bottom of the zip so it softens the edge in case it comes into contact with a soggy doggy.

zip end sewn into bag

zip end sewn into bag

stitching tab over base of zip

stitching tab over base of zip

zip tab finished

zip tab finished

I have yet to find out if Tilly objects to this method of drying as much as a rub down but we have tried.

I hope it works for the little lady and helps with her aches and pains.

I suppose I ought to be making one for my own mutt too!

Pooch Pouches

cosy cave

cosy cave

Ages ago, I spied a rather lovely dog bed with a flap on the top that meant the dog could climb underneath it for a little comfort & cover. We know terriers like to burry themselves and I think they were actually call Terrier Sacks (unfortunately that name conjures up all kinds of awful images of drowning puppies!!!).

hamlet heaven

hamlet heaven

It piqued an idea for a dog bed

keeping and eye on proceedings

keeping and eye on proceedings

With nothing more than a duvet (hypo allergenic in this case for Max’s skin) and a few metres of paw print fleece, I set about making my own version.

It couldn’t have been easier.

Max likes to get right inside and hide his face

Max likes to get right inside and hide his face

So for any one out there who might want to try the same, here it is in it’s most gloriously simple form.

Cut fleece and duvet to desired size (I based our JRT’s bed on about 700mm square)

You can either turn in raw edges of duvet along cut and zig zag edges (this is where I put the overlocking machine I have long lusted after back to the top of my wish list) or finish it with bias tape for a bit of extra rigidity

Sew up ends and sides of fleece (right sides facing) like a furry duvet cover

Attach duvet at each corner (still inside out – this will keep duvet from migrating in the wash)

Then turn right way (duvet is firmly fixed into corners so won’t have moved)

Turn in raw edges and hand sew the opening closed

Fold in half and hand sew the 2 side edges together (leaving end open for your pooch to clamber in)

it was chilly last night and this was hamlet and max mod of the evening

it was chilly last night and this was hamlet and max most of the evening

Eh voila!!

I love this old campaigner

I love this old campaigner

A Pooch Pouch that is snuggly and cosy when it is cold and drafty.

snuggly warm and sleepy after a lovely long walk

snuggly warm and sleepy after a lovely long walk

My sis’s JRT is on holiday with us at the moment so we couldn’t miss him out. He absolutely loves his, his old bones love being toasty warm and he gets to hide away from all the insanity of a younger model nearby.

and a blanket always helps

and a blanket always helps

I think it might have to go home with him when he goes back to Norfolk.

Instructions for making pooch pouch

Decide on the size you want for your dog (we chose 500 and 600mm square for the 2 sizes seen in the post)

Get your chosen fleecy fabric in measurements that are equal to 4 squares (I got fabric 1300mm wide so bought 2.5m for both beds) with an allowance for a little wastage on the selvedges etc.

Cut it to suit your chosen bed size (i.e. 2no pieces at 500mm x 1000mm for the small bed)

Sew then together (right side inside) along 3 of the sides leaving one of the 500mm sides open.

Turn it the right side out. You have a long fleecy sack that forms the covering of your pooch pouch.

Get a single lightweight hypoallergenic duvet per bed. You will need to cut this down so mark it up with your measurements (i.e. 500mm x 1000mm for the small bed or 600mm x 1200mm for the slightly larger bed)

Overlock (or zizag) along the edges of the duvet that will need trimming to achieve your dimensions

Fold it in half. Push it into the top of your fleecy sack with the fold at the open end of the sack.

This leaves half of your fleecy sack empty at the bottom. Secure the duvet to the open edge of the fleecy sack

Push the empty bottom part of your fleecy sack inside the folded duvet.

Secure the inside corners to the open part of the sack.

Hand sew your sack closed and voila. Your pooch pouch is born

sewing machine cover

my singer

my singer

 

My lovely vintage machine is never put away now that I am lucky enough to have a dedicated sewing space so it gets dust and the lint build up that you already get from sewing is worse for being out in the open all the time.

 

hemming the cover

hemming the cover

 

It’s original storage case is a big old rigid thing that is stored away out of sight and out of mind as it is more about transporting the machine rather than protecting it between uses.

 

Sooooo….

 

top stitching

top stitching

 

I scrabbled through my stash of fabrics to find something pretty but understated that would make a nice sewing machine cover. I don’t want to draw attention to the machine in the small room that I use for sewing, I want it to disappear a little.

 

This vintage Arthur Sanderson furnishing fabric has a very gentle yellow and turquoise floral print that I really like.

 

finished and fitted

finished and fitted

 

The measuring is easy as it is overall a rectangular shape that needs covering and although there are features that mean it is not an actual rectangle, a good fitting one would be perfect.

 

fitted straight after being made

fitted straight after being made

It is generally 45 x 35 x 25cm and could not have been easier to make.

 

 

pooch pin cushion

drawing up the cutting pattern

drawing up the cutting pattern

 

Ever since the Great British Sewing Bee’s Heather’s little pin cushion dog appeared on the last series, I have fancied one for myself.

Heather’s is very stylish and made in full 3-D so it really looks like a dog. His tape measure collar is particularly fabulous I think.

 

sewing the undercarriage to the body

sewing the undercarriage to the body

 

I wanted something a bit retro that was a cross between Gromit from Wallace and Gromit fame and our dog Max and although it needed to stand firm, I wasn’t too fussed about it being too realistic.

I sketched out what shape (at full size) I thought I wanted and made a pattern for a body with a central back seam and a 3-d underside so that there were 4 legs.

 

the ears need to be sewn inside the right side and all the seams notched

the ears need to be sewn inside the right side and all the seams notched

 

Tip – The base centre seam is where it will be stuffed but I like to sew this up first and iron the seam open. The reason I do this is to make sure that I get a nice neat and sharp join to hand sew at the end (I sew up to the gap I need from both sides and then do the gap in a larger stitch and don’t finish off the ends. That means I can pick it out easily when I turn it the right way for stuffing).

 

getting a nice share finish

getting a nice share finish

 

Getting a neat and even join where the base and top meet is tricky but if you are accurate with your sewing and don’t leave it short of where it needs to finish or over sew it, you should get the perfect join.

 

opening for the stuffing

opening for the stuffing

 

When all the seams are joined and you have your ears attached, unpick your base middle seam between the finished points (see tip above) and turn it the right way (your sharp ironed join will make sewing up at the end much easier and neater).

Push out all the corners and points like the nose and tail with a nice fat knitting needle or similar and start stuffing these extremities.

 

seam join at the rear where the legs and the body meet

seam join at the rear where the legs and the body meet

 

The stuff needs to be firm and so fill the pointy bits and the ends fully first before you start working your way back to the seam that needs sewing up.

 

nearly stuffed

nearly stuffed

 

I started with the tail, then the head, followed by each leg and finally the body. Be careful not to leave any loser cavities which might leave your legs floppy.

 

leg join at the underside of the chin

leg join at the underside of the chin

 

When you are happy with the stuffing and how tight it is, pin up the stuffing hole ready for sewing and stand your pin cushion up to check the fill and also to see that it stands straight. Now is the time to adjust the fill if you are not happy (it needs to be a very firm fill for the pins to slide into the body. Too lose and they dog will give way underneath).

Once it is stuffed it is ready to use or ready to decorate and finish as you see fit.

 

stuffed and ready to use or decorate

stuffed and ready to use or decorate

 

I wanted to see eyes and nose and a collar.

 

eyes nose and collar

eyes nose and collar

 

We have a JRT and he has a few spots on his back which made me think what a good idea to have one place to pop all your pins (Heather uses her dog’s head as well as his torso in Great British Sewing Bee).

 

pins on the spot

pins on the spot

 

Our JRT wears a red collar that would have looked very smart but I love the turquoise in my logo so a turquoise collar it had to be (when my tape measure becomes too tatty to use, I think he will get that too).

 

finished pin cushion pooch

finished pin cushion pooch

 

 

 

home made skincare

jars of lovely stuff

jars of lovely stuff

Last year, friends and I went off to Temple Spa for a catch up and some pampering. It was a lovely treat and amongst the chat and fizz, we managed to shoehorn in a few treatments too. I was so taken with the body scrub treatment that I had, that I bought some of the products they had used along with and ye cream a friend had recommended.

One of the products I bought was the Sugar Buff. I loved it so much that I literally bought everyone I know a tub of it for Christmas.

It is very lovely but pretty expensive. If you use it regularly, and with any kind of enthusiasm you can get through it very quickly. Once I’d got to the bottom of my tub of loveliness, I decided to see if I could save some cash and have a go at making something similar myself.

Using only what I had to hand, on a whim and without a shred of research to help me out (bit crazy when you consider everything you need can be researched on the internet now) I set about combining some sea salt, some solid coconut oil that I had in the bathroom cupboard (superdrug coconut oil to treat hair – not perfect but a cheap alternative and on hand) and some essential oils that I use in burners around the house.

It was a success albeit it limited; the salt I used was a bit too coarse so the texture wasn’t quite right.  Not one to be thwarted at my relatively rubbish first attempt, I did a bit of research on the internet and invested in some of the basic skincare ingredients from Summer Naturals (please don’t buy palm oil for any of your home made recipes as it is only farmed from devastating natural habitats and is about the least earth friendly beauty product money can buy).

I have bought lavender oils and other essential oils and products from them before so felt safe in the knowledge that it is pretty good quality stuff. They don’t cater for all your needs but they go a pretty long way.

Ironically, my sister gave me some gorgeous bath salts and also some really lovely hand made Bath Melts in a hamper for Christmas. She had made them herself from a recipe on the be beautiful blog and so my interest was peeked again.

I have had very little time to do anything with my purchases but with a hostess and a birthday gift requirement for last weekend, I opened my box of delicious smelling goodies and set about seeing what I could create with my £50 of ingredients.

creams, balms, oils and scrubs

creams, balms, oils and scrubs

Here are some of the recipes that I have used (all variations of those found on the internet and changed to suit my own requirements as I have sensitive skin with an oily T zone skin and delicate high colour areas around my cheeks as well as constantly dry hands):-

FACE OIL

50ml sweet almond oil (or jojoba)

10ml Vitamin E Oil (good for your skin but also acts as a preservative – you can also use Olive Oil instead)

10 drops Borage Oil

3 drops Lavendar Oil

5 drops of Geranium Oil (Rosemary is a good alternative to Geranium for less sensitive oily skin)

Mix them all together and put into a bottle (a spray top bottle is easiest to use and less messy)

Tip – I added Lavender and Calendula flowers which make it look pretty but they are a bit of a nuisance in use.

I have been using this face oil most successfully at night. Once I’ve cleansed I then applying it to my face and neck which makes my skin feel lovely in the morning. I’ve also been using it during my morning shower when I apply to my face and neck but also all over my body just before I am done.  It is just lovely.

rosemary and lemon zest sugar scrub

rosemary and lemon zest sugar scrub

SUGAR SCRUB

3 parts organic brown caster sugar

1 part Coconut Oil (Shea Butter can be used instead)

3 teaspoons of freshly chopped Rosemary

3 teaspoons of Lemon Zest

1 tablespoon of Sweet Almond Oil (or Jojoba Oil)

Melt coconut oil in a bowl over hot water

mix into other ingredients

put into clean sterilised jar, decorate if required label (include date)

Variation – I also used Lavender flowers and Caledula flowers instead of Rosemary and Zest for half of what I made

rosemary and lemon zest hand & body cream

rosemary and lemon zest hand & body cream

HAND AND BODY CREAM

50g Cocoa Butter

25g Beeswax (reduce this and increase cocoa butter to change consistency)

2 teaspoons of vegetable glycerin (optional)

30ml Sweet Almond Oil

10ml Vitamin E Oil

10 drops of Lavendar Oil

2 teaspoons of Aloe Vera juice

melt the cocoa butter and bees wax in a glass bowl over hot water and stir in the rest once is has cooled down.

decant into a sterilised jar

Variations:-

10 drops of Borage Seed Oil

10 drops of Orange / Tangerine Oil

10 drops of Rose Water

The oils you use can be almost any you like the smell of or know to be particularly good for what you want from a hand & body cream

The consistency is quite solid and to make it into a lotion you need to put the warm mix (as above) into a blender and slowly blend in warmed water (same amount as your oils etc and this could be rose water). Blend until you get the creamy consistency you want.

lavendar and calendula sugar scrub and hand cream

lavendar and calendula sugar scrub and hand cream

CUTICLE CREAM

25g of Coconut Oil

1 teaspoon of Sweet Almond Oil

2 drops of essential oil (any flavour you like)

Put all ingredients into a glass bowl.

Melt over hot water and pour into a clean sterilised container

bath melts in moulds waiting to harden

lavender and calendula bath melts in moulds waiting to harden

LIP BALM

25g of Coconut Oil

1 teaspoon of honey

Put all ingredients into a glass bowl.

Melt over hot water and pour into a clean sterilised container

Variations:- You can use petroleum jelly instead of coconut oil and a tiny bit of lipstick into the mix if you want to add colour.

rosemary and lemon zest bath melts

rosemary and lemon zest bath melts

BATH MELTS

recipe as link above to BeBeautiful blog recipe

bath melts ready to use

bath melts ready to use

ROOM DIFFUSER

Equal parts of Sweet Almond Oil, vitamin E oil and 10 drops of Jasmine Oil

I had some carrier oils left over so decided to try this and it is working well. I repurposed an old diffuser that had dried out.

sugar scrub tub with a little floral decoration

sugar scrub tub with a little floral decoration

I still have some of what I bought left over for my next batch of making but for my £50 I got the following:-

4 medium kilner jars of sugar scrub

3 small kilner bottles of face oil

4 small kilner jars of hand and body cream

3 spice kilner jars of cuticle cream

1 spice kilner jar of lip balm

3 medium kilner jars of bath melts

1 room diffuser

That is 18 pots of skincare and a room diffuser which average at less than £5 each (less than £3 each if you take out the cost of buying pretty jars and recycle containers instead).

In the meantime, I’m very happy with the results and can’t wait to get ‘cooking’ up the next lot and just handling the ingredients for making these lovely things has softened my dry and troubled hands.

I’ve learned loads and will be trying more new things next time but I don’t think I will be running out of scrubs and creams any time soon though, I got a huge amount for my £50.

kindle case

kindle keyboard

kindle keyboard

I have a kindle keyboard that my husband bought me not long after they were first launched and I absolutely love it. I never thought I would be able to leave paperbacks behind but I have and I have never looked back.

 

new case lining

new case lining

I know the kindles have evolved and now have illuminated screens and colour and bells and whistles  but I’m happy with my old style black and white screen keyboard kindle. I have an iPad Air so if I want colour, the kindle App on there and I can have all the same books on that too if I need to.

 

But, the kindle is small and neat and it weighs nothing so I prefer to have that in my bag rather than the iPad and unless the battery has died, I pretty much have it with me everywhere I go.

 

detail

detail

Recently I started having problems with it crashing and it needed to be rebooted all the time. A little research on the internet revealed that the hard case that was bought with the kindle caused problems with the way it connects to the kindle and shorts it out. Eventually causing permanent irreparable damage.

 

No sooner read than the hard case was off and I’m very pleased to say that there hasn’t been a minutes trouble since.

 

button fastening

button fastening

So my poor little caseless Kindle needed some clothes.

 

I liked the cases I made for V’s birthday and I also liked the same black fabric I had used so off I went to measure up and make up my new kindle case.

 

tada!

tada!

It works a treat and I’m very happy with it.

 

On reflection, it probably doesn’t need the flap and it could simply be an open topped case perhaps with a button fastening over the top rather than a fastening flap but it fits perfectly and my kindle is now snuggled safely in it’s case in my bag ready for the next chapter of my current read.