Monday, 30 January 2012

Snowdrops and Needlebooks


I don't know about you but I love snowdrops. Its a real sign winter is leaving (please, please don't snow this year)
Don't get me wrong I love snow. In small doses. But essentially I am a city girl living in the country and for the last two years we were snowed in for weeks on end. A few days is amusing but then I start seeing mirages of shops in the fields. Even  grocery shopping in Tesco or Aldi sounds appealing. So please please don't snow.
These beautiful snowdrops are in Altamount Gardens, Co. Carlow. Mine are not so impressive yet.

My new needlebook is finished! This should send the problem of disappearing needles into the pincushion.

What a brilliant idea. I can say that without vanity because it wasn't mine.

The cup looks relieved. No more dissection. The cup is a vintage one I had and the orange material in the pincup is from one of my very first purchases on etsy from , who sells lovely bundles of cotton jersey destined for doll projects. The colour matched the cup so well and the jersey material is great for popping pins in.

Roll on spring,
Take care,

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Decorating Childrens Rooms - The Boys

Hello there,

Having never had a brother growing up I knew very little about what little boys like in terms of their bedrooms and decorations. What I learnt is that surprisingly (to me anyway) they care about it just as much as girls.

My small boy takes great interest and excitment over what goes in his room.
His room is filled with vintage finds, some handmade bits, some Laura Ashley things, basically a mix of anything and everything. And of course lots of cars and toy soldiers for me to trip over!!
He recently found a bundle of boys fabric I'd received in the post and asked would I make him a Buzz Lightyear and Robot cushion. I tried to explain that the fabric had to be washed first, thinking he might forget out it, but no, he carried it to the washing machine and put the fabric in. So he won! He sleeps on the Buzz Lightyear one every night since.

I love this poem. It was a vintage charity shop find. Makes a difference from "Boys are made from slugs and snails and puppy dogs tails".

Bunting for boys, he actually stood in front of the sewing machine when I was making this, bless. Its a mix of new fabrics and some old. The dinosaur fabric is from a shirt that had been mostly destroyed with paint. So if you were making bunting for your child's room it is an idea to add in some old clothes fabric, makes it all the more special, filled with memories.

This is a chair I changed, please see previous post for a how to do this.
One wall is a blue colour, the rest are white. I loved the blue colour and I also love white on walls so I went for a mix of both.
My tip for boys rooms is mix in anything and everything for a unique look. I spent money on things like a rug from Laura Ashley and another cowboy chair which was balanced out by my charity shop finds and sale items. I also try not to buy too much in any cartoon character either (Bob the Builder, Dora etc.) because children go through phases so quickly and mostly the merchandised stuff is quite expensive for what you get.
Hope you found this interesting and its not raining too heavily wherever you are!
Take care,

Friday, 27 January 2012

Decorating Children's Bedrooms- For the Girls


I don't know about you but when I was a small girl, most children in Ireland had plain bedrooms (late 70s/early 80s). You sort of got whatever was leftover, or whatever fitted in your room. There wasn't too much in the way of making children's rooms into the magical dreamworlds they are today.
Obviously there wasn't have the choice we have today and childrens things were much more expensive and of course we view raising children differently today.
Since I had my children I put effort into making their bedrooms a little magical, its fun and it won't be long before they stick posters all over the walls!
Some of the Bunting I Make

As a woman with a budget I have tried to find some thrifter ways of making children's rooms individual for them. 

On the left is a cute vintage picture I picked up in a charity shop. The main thing if you are doing this is to clean the item thoroughly! Usually these are dusty and musty. I take the whole thing apart, take the back off and the glass out. Give it all a good clean and wash the glass in washing up liquid. Sometimes I find these pictures have what looks like masking tape on the back which can be easily taken off and replaced.  The picture on the right was a two euro bargain from Heatons. The frame was a dodgy wood colour so I gave it a quick coat with a colour tester.
Homebase actually have free testers at the moment - Dulux Paint Pod range so grab a few if you are in!

The Butterflys are in fact Christmas Decorations that I hung at the bottom of an Ikea shelf to give it a bit of life. These were 20cent a piece after Christmas one year.
Yes thats a Sindy house, am totally reliving my childhood as this is the house I drooled over! Have to stop myself rearranging it, ha ha.

These curtains were another charity store bargain. I lined them with blackout blinds. I hung bunting accross the window, this was the first I ever made so the sewing is a bit off in places but she doesnt mind!

Here is a quote from Jim Trelease:
The prime purpose of being four is to enjoy being four
of secondary importance is to prepare for being five

Boys room to follow,
Take care and happy decorating,

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Inherited Buttons- Just ask your mom/aunt/granny


Are you one of those people who collect buttons? I'll admit it, I have a collection!
It consists of the spare buttons that come with clothes or those that fall off clothes. Or ones I take off clothes that are being binned. (Strictly ones not good enough for hand me downs or charity shops) And the odd one that comes free in a hotel sewing kit.

I now add buttons to some things I make so my selection was running low.
And it occured to me, if I had a jar, my mother had one, I must have gotten the habit from somewhere.
So I asked and I happily collected a large collection of buttons and ribbons from my own mother, in perfect condition. I am a minder, so is my mother.

Then I asked my mother in law and was sure she'd forgotten all about it until yesterday when she appeared with two tins full of treasure! Out came the washing up liquid as soon as she had left.

Check out the nylon thread for mending tights. I never knew such a thing existed.

Enough to keep me in supplies for awhile. So my tip is this, ask your female relatives for their jar of buttons (only if they dont use it of course). Its a thing a lot of people do out of habit and the older generations especially. So ask and you might be pleasantly surprised like me.

Take care,

Monday, 23 January 2012

Doll Bunting

Hello there,

Here is a picture of some dolls bunting (Sindy and Barbie size) I made for a dolls bedroom. I was making some normal size bunting and thought a small set would look just as cute in a dolls room.  It took awhile mainly because its tiny! The one below needs a few more buttons and ribbons on it to make it complete.

Doll Bunting

Right, time for a cup of tea!
Take care,

Saturday, 21 January 2012

How to create childrens pictures for practically free

Recycled vintage childrens book

Ikea frame & illustration from vintage book

My children are very lucky to have a playroom of their own.
But the problem is it has turned into a toy storage room (read dumping ground) and rarely played in. This means the toys are dragged everywhere and I can only trip over so many in one day.
I sat in the playroom and realised the problem. It was set up two and half years ago and as you know that is a long time in a childs development. The room was aimed far too young. It has been cleared out many times but really just toy removal.
So today began the mission to make the playroom played in again ( and to return the sitting room to a respectable room so I am not mortified when anyone calls in and have to spend an hour trying to make it decent again)
Its been four hours and I've made a dint. Its amazing how many books, puzzles and toys are just too young I had to subtily moving them out of the room without being caught. I'll transfer to charity bags and bins when children are asleep/out.

I upgraded some old pictures while I was at it.

"New" artwork for children
The top picture consists of three matching frames which I bought in Ikea a few years ago. They were very cheap at the time and have plastic in the frame instead of glass, perfect for children if you have a fear of glass breaking! I removed the three colourful pictures that they contained as they were aimed at younger children.
I inserted pages from old childrens books I picked up in a charity (thrift) store. The top right is an illustration from The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Then the other two are from a Lewis Carroll book,

The pirate costume picture is a page from hardback book that was falling apart. It was too damaged to pass to another child so I added a piece of ribbon to the side of one of the pages to cover the book tear and hung it on the wall. It looks cute and is something new out of something destined for the bin. It probably is too young style wise for the children but the illustrations were so cute I couldnt resist.

I leave you with the Mad Hatters song from the Lewis Carroll book:
Twinkle twinkle little bat
How I wonder where you're at
Up above the world you fly,
Like a tea-tray in the sky,
Twinkle, Twinkle.

All the best,

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Making Doll Clothes Using Vintage Patterns

Hello there,

Last year my little girl asked me to make a dress for her doll. Well actually she asked for a purple haired Sindy doll with a pretty red ballgown. I did explain that I am not a fairy and can't make whatever is wished. I vaguely knew about OOAK dolls and I knew Sindy didn't ever have purple hair so I set about figuring out how to do this. Then the red ballgown consisted of a piece of fabric with a ribbon holding it in place. I got away with it because the recipient is young!! If you've ever worked in miniature, my hat goes off to you!!

I came accross these vintage doll dressmaking sets on ebay last year and am finally going to give them a go. The sets come with fabric with patterns printed into them. You cut out, follow instructions and should have lovely doll clothes. At least I hope I will. It is aimed at children so how hard can it be???? ha ha

Take care,

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

How to Upgrade an Old Chair & Mini Notebooks

Hello again,

I recently found these tiny little notebooks I used to make as a child.

Tiny notebooks
There are pages sown inside, you can see the thread on the outside. The white decoration on the outside is the leftovers of those little circular white stickers you put on paper inside a folder/binder to prevent it tearing.

I found a couple of chairs in a charity shop (five euro) for two and spray painted them and recovered the seat pads. Pink for a girl and blue for a boy, a little obvious but it was their colour choice!
The distressed look is intentional. While the paint was wet I got some sellotape and popped it on here and there and then pulled it off. I wanted it to look like it was aged.
A handy chair for a childs room for around ten euro.
Also I find the old chairs are very sturdy especially for children who like to climb on everything.

How to update/upgrade an old chair:
1) Find suitable old chair, the seat pad needs to be lifted off for recovering so check that it can be done.
2) Clean chair and remove seat pad. Spray paint in chosen colour.I spray outside because it has very strong fumes. (And once I sprayed some of the kitchen table by mistake-eek!!) Spray paint is about 7euro in the art and hobby store or about 10euro in hardware stores. If you can get it cheaper in Ireland please do tell me where! Aldi and Lidl do them from time to time.
3) Cover seat pad in material, you don't need much fabric for this so it shouldnt be too expensive. I used fabric glue underneath to hold in place but you could staple or use other things to keep in place. I used cotton but oilcloth would be lovely too. This presumes a clean seat pad. If the seat pad is fabric you might have to change this too, depending on where you got it from of course.
4) Once paint is dry, place seat pad back on and there you have a one of a kind chair, that didn't cost the earth!

Take care and bye for now,

Sunday, 15 January 2012

The Braclet Entreprise (Age 9)

Hello there,

Last year I was at the family home in the backgarden  checking out the spring flowers with my two little children (small kids very fond of flowers!) and nestled on top of a daffodil was "treasure".
Closer inspection revealed it to be part of a braclet I had made when I was a little girl. It must have fallen off in the garden, buried for nearly twenty five to finally re-emerge.

The old and the new
I cleaned it up a bit, we must have used my dads fishing wire to thread them. On the right is ones I made recently for my little girl's dolls.
My friend had received a load of beads as part of her birthday present from her granny. We made them into braclets and then took our merchandise to school to sell. I remember the notebook (an early "waiting list", ha ha) where we would write the colours and order details. I think the prices ranged from 10p to 25p.
The braclet became the must have accessory for little girls in our school.
So popular we ran out of beads.
This was the 80s, there was no beads to be found in Ireland so my friend wrote to her granny in Greece to send some more beads urgently. They arrived but the colours were mainly brown. Hence the amount of brown beads in the braclet above!
Soon a new braclet arrived on the scene (electronic wires in different colours, freed from local electronic factory). We blamed A-Ha for this! Remember those black wire/rubber braclets they wore?
Beads were out and wires were in.

My daughter was greatly impressed with the garden treasure so next day I found myself ordering up a lot of beads and threads. Would have done anything for the selection in the 80s!!

More to follow...
Good night,

Saturday, 14 January 2012

The Nuns and the Sewing Machine , my early days of crafting

Hello there,

I am a fairly recent convert to the world of crafting and creating. But I take any new phase seriously (just ask my husband!). Lots and lots of phases, trust me.

In order to take my new hobby to the next level and actually sew properly I needed a sewing machine and they aren't cheap. Not shockingly expensive but dear enough that you'd want to use it to justify it.

Of course I haven't looked at a sewing machine since secondary school when the nuns insisted we should all have this talent (from age 12). At the time we thought it was the most old fashioned and sexist thing in the world. Now I understand!! At last. Sorry Sister, forgive me I was young and arrogant!!! I no longer want to rule the world!

We spent the first year of home economics sewing class (there was cookery as well) making a pillowcase which was proudly displayed at the end of the year. Mine is still going strong today. The second year we advanced to making a bathrobe.
My dad entrused me with a ten pounds to buy the required material and dropped me at the door of the fabric store in Dundrum, Dublin and I bought the cheapest cotton from the bargain bin and used the rest of the money to buy a book and chocolate. (It was the late 80s, ten pounds was a decent amount).

The next home economics class all the girls pulled out their bags of towelling material and I took out my hideous cotton fabric (I said cheap not stylish). Pattern cutting and sewing began, I was finished within the month and bored. Watching people get this huge towelling material jammed up in the machines was only entertaining for so long!

We also had a little copy book where we would attempt each type of stitch and then glue it in to the copy as we learnt it. The problem with learning stitches was the nun, Sister F (being discreet here) would hide it under the desk as she did it and then tell you to go off and do it yourself. You'd ask for a demo of the blanket stitch and she'd sigh and grab the needle and material and hide it under the desk. A minute later she'd produce the specimen with a glare. As she was sewing under the desk we could fill her hair with all the little cut off threads. Ah yes, we were hilarious. I still don't know why she hid the sewing though. 

So that was the last time I sowed anything, except the odd loose button.Half price sale on sewing machines so in I went to town and returned with my new machine. I followed the manual diagram by diagram and sewed happily for an hour. Till it jammed. And then it looped all the thread underneath the material. The top was prefect but the bottom, enormous loops. I threaded, rethreaded, changed thread, adjusted tension. Cursed a lot. Rethreaded, changed bobbins, cursed some more. This went on for nearly a week and I considered returning it. Then I remembered youtube. Two minutes later I had the answer. I missed slipping the thread through a little hook near the needle. Sorted. And its been working since! How we survived before youtube I don't know.
Next instalment, the beaded braclet business (primary school)

Good night and take care!