we have lift off ...

Thank you for your good health wishes last week, cyber TLC really is the way to go.

So reading practically everyone else's posts about "the Big C" made me realise I had some serious catching up to do - Big Time!

A fair amount of my work: necklaces, bracelets, earrings and bags, has finally been packed up (forgot to take photos, can you believe it?!) and sent down to the Open House Sales in Brighton which means, yes yes yes, it's catch up time ...

I bought this book recently and have to say I'm really glad I did, there are some lovely ideas that I can actually see myself doing. Her previous book, "Make", had such poor reviews I didn't even bother researching it but I flicked through this one in my local book shop and loved it immediately. My first project - this hottie cover, and I have THE person in mind.

Naturally I can't say any more at this stage, however I just know it'll go down well.

Obviously the lack of rosie posie pinks and ribbons gives the game away ever so slightly ...

When I make something I really enjoy trying out a new skill and this time it was quilting. This was such a lovely project to do but in hindsight there were a couple of things I would do differently ...

Firstly, I would make the stitching slightly smaller and closer together but secondly, and more importantly, I would try my absolute hardest to engage my brain a bit better and put all three backing pieces on the correct way round (oops) ...

Not at all convinced by Ms Kidston's instructions though - she mentions marking out a 3 mm diamond grid but really means 3 cm, and then her method of making the rouleau buttonhole loop on such a narrow piece of fabric is just plain silly in my opinion. It is way too narrow a piece to turn inside out and I ended up halving the fabric lengthways, ironing it down, turning the two outside pieces into the centre and ironing once again. I then closed the whole lot up and finished with a slip stitch. Much easier and, neatly done, it barely shows.

And now that it's finished? My advice is even if your own hottie fits comfortably within the marked seam line, add the extra 2 cm all around anyway. There's not much room for an overfilled bottle here, put it that way!

I do hope he loves it!!

Now then, what's next ?!



OK, so the last two days I had the plague - or that's what it felt like anyhow. I know all about it you see because, quite by chance, our daughter has been learning about it at school. We've also been reading this book every night (although I have to confess she does get a bit restless from time to time, namely when nothing gruesome is happening! She keeps saying "when's someone gonna come down with it?").

Anyway, back to my plague, and the fact I am now waiting for the buboes and tokens to appear - and if you a) have no clue what I'm talking about, b) haven't a child learning about the Stuarts at school, or c) fancy some gruesome reading anyway, read here and here. The very good thing about being confined (!) was being able to spend a much needed day in bed, which involved catching up on a little light reading - namely Ros Byam Shaw's Perfect English Cottage - and thinking what luck to have chosen a time when hubby wasn't on his work travels and therefore on hand to administer copious hot lemon and honey drinks - so inconvenient when Mummy gets ill isn't it?

My plague symptoms by the way were/are chesty cough, head ache, runny nose ... hmm

Melodramatic? MOI?!



Monograms? Lovely. French monograms? Yes please. Antique French monograms? Now you're talking!

Cross stitch, satin stitch, rembourre - any old stitch so long as it's hand-stitched. Red, white, cream - no matter, just keep them coming! I'm a sucker for these things and if the initials are any from our family? .... just try keeping me away!

How about this one - an absolute beauty. French, antique white, slubby linen, hand-stitched centre seam, my daughter's initials - but she's 6 years old for goodness sake! Only how could I possibly have passed up such a golden opportunity - it was ticking all the boxes, it was begging to be snatched up

A pair of unused vintage French pillowcases with our initials ... foolish not to

initials on towels - everyone needs towels

vintage French linen markers and wooden embroidery block - love them so much

and because one can never have enough of such things (!), I made a "skirt" to wrap over a simple lamp shade for my sewing room. I cross stitched our initials on it using an old copper monogramming stencil.

But there's more of it stashed away in my overfilled cupboard - linen sheets that can only be used for small projects except for wonderful monograms; and not forgetting a couple of 19th C chemises (monogrammed, naturally), one of which I wore as a dress last Summer and then thought to myself "what on earth are you doing, this is not only old - it's white"!

But surely I can't be alone here? Please tell me I don't need some kind of gentle help?!!!

Have a lovely weekend



I'm so excited - my daughter is starting to show an interest in sewing. Creating is definitely where her skillset lies. She loathes maths because she finds it difficult but when it comes to arty things, her imagination runs wild. At school she does after-school clubs such as felt sewing, stone painting, watercolour painting, pottery and then comes home with some unbelievable stuff. For instance, I have a square felt cushion on my bed (one side purple with a green flower and the other pink with a purple heart), which I absolutely love. All the stitches are so neat. But she's not called "Magpie" for nothing - always homing in on anything bright and shiny. But now she's got her eagle eyes on my fabric stash and, aaaaaargh, my beads!

Over a recent weekend we had some seriously good girlie time together in my sewing room. I let her choose her fabrics and embroidery floss then I sat by as she set to work making a bookmark, as illustrated in one of my favourite books of the moment. All very timely really, since her school was holding a make-a-bookmark competition to tie in with a topic they had been working on all week.

She picked out some antique Bavarian fabric (pink of course, although had it been purple that would have been even better) for the backing and decided on a theme. Next up, a pencil drawing of a princess on natural linen, followed by a running stitch over the outline to bring the picture to life, even giving Princess some silver slippers! Then we did a joint effort on the sewing machine, me operating the foot pedal whilst she took charge of the fabric and, hey presto, a bookmark was born ...

We had such a lovely time doing that and the end result was, I think, absolutely gorgeous. However, the real thrill for me was very definitely that she was taking such an interest in the choosing, the sewing and also the wondering of who had owned that fabric before us, so many years ago. Priceless!

And since you may be wondering about the competition? Guess what ... she won. Hurrah!

Enjoy the day x

(PS - and on the subject of winning, thank you so so much to Jeanne for nominating me for a newly discovered blog award. I am thrilled to bits and have already been told off by my son for "boasting"!!)


morning has broken

Like the first morning! With the latest downpour behind me and the children safely ensconced in their schools, I decided to take an impromptu stroll in one of our local parks this morning on the way home.

Although there was the constant threat of yet another shower, I did manage to appreciate the beauty, and the wonderful peace - hardly any other people, just a few dog walkers and the occasional jogger. Perish the thought, where's my cuppa?

I wonder what you're doing? Whatever it is, enjoy your day.


cold ...

Be gone this cold weather.

There's a limit to how many clothes one can wear at any given time before being unable to move and despite the fact that the heating is on here, I just cannot get warm today.

There's only one thing for it - the power of imagination, mind games, brain trickery. I'm going to warm myself up by looking at some photographs. Photographs taken when I know it wasn't as cold as this but they were still taken in Autumn. At Half Term. Two weeks ago. No less!

Aaaah, that's better! Tell me, how do you warm up?

Enjoy your weekend.


poppy day

I love poppies. The very sight of them has the ability to evoke a myriad of emotions. In the warmer months, we have bright red ones dotted around our garden and with their huge silk-like heads and velvet black stamens, they are stunning. They herald the start of Summer which is a happy time; holidays beckoning and promises of blue skies, visits to the beach and swimming in the sea.

But the thought of them at this time of year means something very different. It's about those poor brave souls who fell to the earth, in the sea, on the beach, never to get up again.

I'm not really sure why but after getting my paper poppy the other day I thought I'd check my fabric stash for pieces with yet more. They are cottage garden plants after all so there ought to be a few. If it was a rose I was chasing for I could fill several books with photos but poppies, sadly not so many. Mental note to do better!

I did truffle out these lovely vintage pieces - a bold Liberty print with the large red opium poppies mentioned earlier and an old American feedsack with a much daintier variety,

a 1950's hand embroidered peg apron I bought from Ebay a few years ago,

and my favourite of favourites - this amazing 19th Century French hand-stitched quilt, sadly in desperate need of the TLC I've not yet been able to afford it. I bought it quite some time ago but I suspect it came across the Channel with a few friends, namely carpet beetles (or should I say attagene des tapis, given it's a French quilt). It was either that or the Mother-in-Law's antique rug we acquired at about the same time, but that's a whole different story. Thankfully they're no longer but the poor quilt spent several months in and out of the freezer as a result! It survived the big freeze all right but it does pong a bit I have to say, so now it lives in the conservatory whilst I think about a Plan B. Any ideas gratefully received!

So I thought I would have a first attempt at embroidering my own poppy and immediately reached for this book for help. Originally bought for my children, I'm embarrassed to admit I've now got it on a "long loan" as I love the drawings so much!

Anyway, I decided to make it into a lavender pillow and give it to my mother. She lived through the second World War as a young girl and I remember the stories she and my father used to tell me when I was growing up myself. She said we all needed to live through a war in order to be a better person and although there's no doubt she would have had it a good deal harder than my own children do now, on this day I think I can imagine what she meant.


crafty afternoon

Every so often, mostly on days when it's raining, we have what the children call a crafty afternoon! Out come all the boxes filled with stuff, our creation station if you will, and we fashion something out of a variety of things including glitter, fabrics, pipe cleaners, egg boxes, card, glue and anything else we happen to have squirreled away. You know the sort of thing.

One morning recently I thought it might be nice to actually allow them to draw on their clothing for a change and invested in some fabric pens. Berol fabric pens like these to be precise.

Using pre-washed white tee shirts, the children put a magazine layer inside to avoid fabric run and set to work on their designs. Much thought went into this but once decided on their themes, they took to the task with gusto. Actually it was great fun watching them and, once they'd got the hang of the pens (because they aren't as smooth on fabric as they are on paper), they beavered away for the best part of the morning, which meant I got some time to do some "me" stuff too!

Once "painted" the tee shirts were left to dry (which takes upwards of five minutes, depending on the temperature), and finally set by ironing, using a cloth for protection. And within a matter of a few hours, the children were delighted to have a completely new and very original tee shirt, ready for wear and what's more, they wash really well. Fashion designers in the making perhaps ...?



Our daughter has been coveting a peacock feather for over a year now. It started on our holiday in California, August 2008. After much searching we found a beauty in a Wholefoods store, as you do, and carried it around with us for a further week or so. Unfortunately they're not completely strong, especially once the quill gives in to constant resistance, and the poor feather became more and more ragged until finally it was consigned to a bin in the departure lounge at San Francisco airport. I'm not convinced it would have been allowed on the plane anyway, although we may have charmed our way around it in the same way we did over the apples we forgot to declare on entry into the USA. A cardinal sin that could have set us back $300, or worse, before we'd even hit the shops!

She's tried several times at our local petting farm in Dorset who keep a pair of peacocks, clearly hoping they'd eventually take pity and yank one out to placate her, but to no avail. The owners are now on full notice to keep one aside for her whenever the moulting should happen.

But oh joy of joys, the day has finally arrived and she is now, at last, the VERY proud owner of not one but two gorgeous feathers from an extremely generous but no doubt cold male peacock.

At the end of a good day's outing to Lulworth Castle, we finally found them, on sale at the animal farm there, and Jemima was so thrilled, the lady gave her an extra feather. Which goes to show, politeness never goes unnoticed! Only trouble is, now I hear that having peacock feathers inside the home is considered bad luck, so they've been relegated to the wendy house, oops!

I think I've managed to make amends by giving her a vintage embroidered table runner I bought recently - which just happens to have a beautiful peacock at either end.

I was hoping to make this into something but it's been strictly forbidden. Watch this space!

Then I remembered I had a stash of gorgeous 1920's bugle beads in all those wonderful peacock colours, so I decided to make them into this bracelet, complete with vintage rhinestone clasp for even more sparkle. The good news? This gets to stay in the house!