Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Fitting for my Body

I have managed to get some sewing in recently which is good and have spent some time working out how to fit a few staples to my weird body shape, ok so I have only done a small amount of fitting and have still got to work out how to deal with my sway back but that is another issue...

Renfrew T-shirt (top) and Sorbetto Top (bottom). I have finally modified these patterns to fit my shape/tastes.
Some of the Modifications. Top L Sorbetto FBA, I also lowered the Armscye. Top R, Creating facings for another Sorbetto
Bottom, Adding some volume to the Sorbetto sleeve template.

I'm very glad to have finally sorted out getting the Sorbetto pattern to fit me as I think this is such a good shell pattern that I can modify in many ways to get what I want. It did take me a while to work out what I needed to do and now I have to just suck it up and realise that I need to do an FBA which is what I did on my New Look 6123 muslin and other than needing to take some length out of the bottom of the CB seam it pretty much fitted me out of the pack after that.

Left and Middle, Wearable Muslin for New Look 6123, Right self drafted floaty top.

Again I'm quite happy that I have fitted this pattern as the plain version is a nice sheath dress which I think is going to be a nice base for modifications.
I am trying to make another version of this dress that I ended up buying for my friends wedding, which is a fantastic dress, well made, nice fit (which is surprising for me) and when I teamed it with a bright orange jacket, totally out of my comfort zone colour wise.

Closet dress, bought at TK Maxx
I think that with some dart manipulation I could make a bodice similar to this and then just replace the sheath skirt with a more flared skirt and this would be a similar style dress.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Making a Raised Bed

In an attempt to make our garden more productive (and reduce the area of lawn we have to mow) we decided to create a raised bed on one of the sections of lawn. We recently purchased some scaffold planks from Southampton Wood Recycling Project and some 2 by 2's for the corners.



We screwed the planks into the corner posts and not into one another as this meant we could go in from the front of the planks and not into the end grain. We also lined the sides of the bed with pond liner to increase its life span a help hold in water/soil.



The finished bed is 3 planks high which is quite high but it means that we will not have to bend down too much to work on it which is nice. We are also trying out a new (to us) technique of Hugelkultur so lined the bottom of the bed with logs that we had lying about with some other bits of wood and garden cuttings on top. After the wood we layered straw and then soil on top of that.







We have not finished filling the bed yet but are looking for a good source of manure/soil to fill up the top of the bed. We are looking forward to seeing what this bed can produce over the next few seasons.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Slow Cooker Tagine

We have been looking on Freecycle a lot lately to source things for our new raised bed (more on that soon) and I have expanded out to also look at FreeAds and GumTree, well the other day I saw a post for a pair of walking boots in size 7 and as I'm looking to sell my old too small hiking boots I thought I'd check them out. Since they were in Lymington we decided to make a day of it and took a picnic to the New Forest and hiked to Hurst Castle.
To make the day even better we put a Tagine on to cook in the Slow Cooker before we left and came home to the most lovely smell of a cooked meal.

Tagine 1

Beef Tagine:

450g Diced Beef
1tsp minced Garlic
1 Onion, chopped
1/4 Red Cabbage, Cut into chunks

1pint Beef/Chicken Stock
2tsp Cumin
2tsp Ground Corriander
1tsp Ginger
1tsp Turmeric

2 tbs Honey
1can Alubia Beans
1can Chopped Tomatoes
Large Glug of Red Wine (optional)

Brown the diced beef in a frying pan, in batches if necessary, add to heated Slow Cooker.
De-glaze the frying pan with a small amount of the hot water for the stock and add to stock jug, make stock with one stock cube. Add the spices and honey to the stock.

Combine all ingredients in the Slow Cooker, leaving cooking on 'medium' until you are ready for it. At least 3 hours.

Serve with Cous Cous and fresh coriander to garnish

Tagine 2

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

First Proper Harvest

This week we had our first "proper" harvest from the garden, we have had bits and bobs here and there in the past and quite a lot of certain vegetables but this week was the first one where we had a half decent quantity of a range of veg.

This weeks harvest

This selection contained some carrot thinnings which whilst being very small tasted very carroty so we are now really looking forward to the main harvest. One decent sized Beetroot and some onion thinnings which we generally have been treating like spring onions.We also had a number of Green Plums because I took some poorly looking branches of our 'wild' plum and these were attached to them, I don't want to just throw them away but I have got to find a way of using them, any ideas?

Most importantly in this group was our First Ever Potato harvest! This is the first tie we have tried growing them and admittedly started them a bit late as these were a 50p reduced price pack at our local B and Q so we thought we might as well give them a go. We are looking forward to the next two barrels of them :)


We have been slowly picking a few berries here and there from the one raspberry cane that we have and the blackberries growing into the garden from the train line behind.


On Monday I thinned out our beetroots in both the bed and the "window box", you can see the difference in size in the foliage if not the actual "bulb" size.


More Onion thinnings, the white ones are definitely doing better than the red ones which is annoying as we tend to use more red than white but, oh well any is good.


and finally a few lone Broad Beans from our three small plants, these have always been struggling and are never going to give a great harvest...

Broad beans

Friday, 17 July 2015

Abstract Maxi Skirt

When looking for a dress to wear to a wedding the other week I had a very limited time to find something so ended up with an "If I cant find anything else" dress which was nice but didn't really flatter me (and part of it was not on the grain properly which bugged me), but knowing that I might not be able to find anything else I bought it and kept my fingers crossed I might find something else. Thankfully I did, the day before the wedding! So my Maxi Dress was relegated to the 'To Modify' pile where it got a surprisingly quick turn around.

I cut the offending ruffle off the top of the dress at the waist line, removing the elastic that gave the dress a little bit of shape

I then made a simple waist band from thick black elastic that I use for almost all my waistbands (I now have a reel of it so it is always there when I need it)

Sewing the elastic right side to right side with a small zig-zag stitch.

I then finished the inside of the seam allowance on the serger ( I have to use the blade up at the moment as it is playing up when you try and use it down, I think it might have to go and see the doctor soon)

Voila one skirt from a rather unflattering Primark dress (strapless ruffle tops do not flatter my figure...)

Here is the skirt modeled the other day and I did actually wear it all day despite doing some gardening and cleaning the gutters! But the first day I wore it i found it was very clingy so made myself a 'slip' to go under it from white viscose (what has to be my favorite fabric) and now it feels/hangs much better when worn.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Finding Time to Sew

So I am having issues finding time (and motivation) to sew at the moment. I find its hard to sit down at the machine knowing that there is so much else that should be done (DIY etc) and I have so little time. I am currently counting down the hours till I leave again, I'm off at 6 in the morning tomorrow for 4 days and then off again on Sunday evening... 
I had been thinking that I might be able to participate in Lladybird's OAL and I think sewing the dress would only take me a couple of days at max, I even have the material for it! But I am a long way from finishing the Jumper, even though I cheated a bit and was thinking of using the one that Nan gave me which was part completed in the first place... 

Still so much to go...
Sometimes I feel busts of energy to sew and I get something done, I have a few new floaty T-shirts from the pattern I made from a RTW top the other day. Mostly this was necessitated by the hot weather we are having here atm.

First Version.
I have been enjoying wearing them and made myself a lovely new PJ top from the pattern and some gorgeous Viscose fabric from our local Fabric Land which is one of the nicest tops I have worn for a while, I never want to take it off in the morning... 
I have some jersey lined up to try another one out of when I can find the time, but the pattern might need a little modification to cope with the stretch.

Over all at the moment I feel like my 'time off' should be spent relaxing and not trying to finish something. It doesn't help that I'm shattered at the moment which is reducing my motivation to do anything at all...

I have two and a half days off at the end of the week which I will have to try and make the most of. Does anyone have any tips on how to make the most of limited sewing time?

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Wood Recycling - DIY Projects

Earlier in the week were considering our DIY projects in the garage and trying to find a set of legs for our IKEA worktop. We didn't want to put cabinets under it and it turns out all of the other legs sold in IKEA and other places are all designed for coffee tables. So instead we turned our thoughts to whether we could make a frame to go under the worktop instead. 

The design isn't particularly difficult but would require a reasonable amount of sturdy wood as the worktop is quite heavy and would need to be well supported. We were also looking at getting some wood to build raised beds in the back garden so we can continue our foray into vegetable growing. 

Hopefully our raised beds will look as nicely constructed as these (I wish we could fit that many in...)
We looked at buying the supplies from places like Wickes and B&Q, but the prices were really high for the planed wood and scaffold boards (for the beds). Then we thought that we didn't really need brand new wood, just something that wasn't going to break on us. 

Cue searching the internet for hampshire wood recycling/reclamation... and to our amazement we came across this wonderful place - Southampton Wood Recycling which is just down in the middle of town nestled just behind the high street. We couldn't believe that we hadn't discovered this place before...

They take wood in from a number of sources, separate it up into different sizes and remove the nails/screws from the wood and then it can be sold on from their warehouse. The stock they have changes quite regularly but we decided to go and have a look and see if we could find wood for the table frame. 

Well what was it like?

I can definitely say it was an amazing place! They had a section which sold items made from reclaimed wood, such as planters, scaffolding shelves and even an archway. It really is amazing what some sanding and a coat of paint/varnish can do to wood. 

The rest of the sales area was given over to stacks and stack of wood of all sorts of sizes and lengths. If you were looking for short lengths of wood it was easy to find what you were looking for. Even looking for longer bits of wood we found enough wood with a little bit of searching. We also found some scaffolding boards for the raised beds, although they didn't have lots so we bought enough for the first layer and we will go back later to see if we can get some more. Although we decided to stop there before we bought the whole warehouse of wood...

The wood is priced up by the meter (except for a few offcuts which are just a complete bargain) and you can even borrow a saw to cut it up after if you need to fit it into your car. Since one of the pieces was 3m long to start with we definitely needed to cut it. Luckily most of it was shorter than that and fitted (fairly comfortably) into my car.

All the wood we got in my car (even some scaffolding boards at the bottom there)

The entire of our shop of wood came to £38, which is probably a fraction of the cost that we would have paid buying it new, plus it reused wood so avoided creating more waste and the money raised at Southampton Wood Recycling goes towards training people and providing jobs in the local community. A win, win, win situation. 

When we got home we found that one of the pieces had some great colouring on it, which when we sanded/ oiled up it looked so amazing! Unfortunately since our table frame is going in our garage under a worktop there isn't really anywhere to showcase this. So we decided not to use it for the frame and we would find something to make with it instead. Such a shame, this means we'll have to make another trip to the warehouse again to get more wood to go with it...

Such beautiful colouring on the wood - we definitely didn't want to hide this away.
We've decided that from now on, if we need wood we will try to go to the warehouse first to see if they have suitable pieces, and then only if they don't will we go to buy it new. If you are careful with the pieces you select, the wood is just great, and more than suitable for most projects.

We will post soon about what we make with the wood. First to get out all the tools and get the wood sanded up and looking beautiful!

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