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MOULD!

I haven’t posted for ages again. there is a rather good reason for this, which I shall come too later. but what I intended to post about, before evil black growing things got in the way…..

Nearly a month ago now (14th-17th of March) I went with my Mum and one of her friends to the Knitting and Stitching show at Olympia…

The only picture I took…

knitting and stitching show

Just as we came in, as you can see it was massive. Also it was Really Not My Kind Of Thing!

I had a nice time, and Mums friend who does patchwork had a very good time,and I think if you did cross stitch or decoupage or knitting (though tbh, given the knitting bit in the title of the show I thought they were under represented) it was the thing for you. The dressmaking offering consisted of a couple stall selling all the kind of tat you’d get on Goldehawke Road or a Market Stall in the Rag Market in Birmingham, and one large stall selling Liberty fabric reasonably cheaply and Alexander Henry at a far higher price than I could get it from etsy and a load of other stuff that was mostly overpriced. There was nowhere selling haberdashery stuff (which was a pain as I have a reasonable list of stuff I haven’t been able to get in Lewisham) or patterns, I managed to pick up a french curve from a stall selling quilting equipment but that was pretty much it.

Oh I also picked up a load of silk flowers from Miss Rose and Sister Violet  who the internet tells me is an Australian brand, but for some reason had a stall at the show selling flowers for considerably cheaper than they seem to be priced on their website! Which will be ideal for hatmaking when I finally get into central London as I’ve run out of combs again.

However….there was a stall there selling sewing machines, and Mum bought me an overlocker for my birthday!!! It is a Huskylock S15, so not a super expensive one, but it will do the trick nicely. I will be able to get a much more professional finish on the clothes I make.

So excited! 🙂

It arrived about 2 weeks later and is currently sitting boxed up in our living room as events unfolded that have stopped me getting on with anything for the last few weeks…..

Firstly a sunny day arrived, roughly about the time I offered to have my parents stay overnight and I realised that with Jon and I having been ill so much over winter the state of the flat had got somewhat bohemian. So a week of hardcore cleaning occurred, which would all have been fine, except in the process I pulled a chest of drawers out from next to our bed and realised there was a bit of mould there, and then realised that if there was some there behind the bookshelves would be crawling with it.

We are not habitually filthy btw, our flat was built in the 60’s or 70’s by someone who thought it was a good idea to use only a single course of bricks but an extra dense one, probably thinking that the special new bricks would keep the place warm without needing the expense of a cavity wall. Unfortunately  it does no such thing but the combination of  no insulation the specially dense bricks and the fact someone a few years ago put upvc windows in, means no moisture can ever get out. So we have a damp problem. We have sorted it mainly by buying a dehumidifier and painting the walls of the living room with bathroom paint which is mould resistant and stuff. We were intending the bedroom repaint to be our job for next summer.

There is thankfully no ‘before’ picture of the corner of our bedroom where the bookcases were, but there were 3 of them, two Ikea,one wooden, double stacked with piled up books, in our previous flat we had a small study and had room for 4 bookcases so when we moved here we’d had to condense it down. We sort of organised it when we moved in, but hadn’t really touched it since as it was too much trouble.

We quickly came to the realisation that the solution to this was that a good 3/4 of the books had to go, luckily they have been rehomed in my parents attic, so it wasn’t super traumatic…I don’t think I’d have managed it if we were never going to see them again. And in the  process quite a lot of other stuff too.

We moved here three years ago, although we were incredibly grateful to have found a place we could actually afford in London as Jon could no longer manage the commute from Hitchin, at the time we only really saw living here as a temporary fix, but the recession, family circumstances and skyrocketing house prices in this part of London now make us think we’ll probably be here for a good few years yet. Which is not really something we had adapted for in the way we live in the place.

Getting rid of books (Especially when you know you’ll get them back in the end) is actually easier than I’d though. Its amazing how your tastes change as time progresses, we had duplicates of most of the Harry Potters as we were both really into them when we met, but now neither of us can envisage reading them again for the next 5 years or so.. so they went!

I went mainly for stuff I hadn’t read but was intending to, Jon for certain key books that mean a lot to him, and a load of Fantasy series that are half way through being written, so we’ll want the first few again every time a new one comes out.

We got it down to 3/4 of a bookshelf in the end, which leaves loads of room for additions, though we do hope to get a bit better at using a kindle instead.

Of course getting rid of stuff has meant we now intend to rearrange the flat entirely, which is going to take over our time for the next few weeks. We’ve got rid of the mould though…

In pictures…..

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with the wallpaper on, and what was growing behind

IMG_1409 mould 1

once the wall had been stripped and now we’ve put the lining paper up.

Obviously it was completely gross, luckily we think it had only been there a few weeks with the really damp weather.

We are really proud of ourselves for our lining paper attempt. Theres a tiny crack where its not perfect, but that won’t show when the paint is on. Its the first time we’ve attempted anything like this though, and we had only the vaguest idea what we were doing, so its come out mercifully alright!

We’re not intending to paint it for a couple of weeks and have to order some stuff online before we can get on with rearranging everything, so I have had a quiet week to get back on with my life again 🙂

So this week I am sewing together a dress I had cut out before the overlocker arrived, as soon as this is finished I intend to go completely nuts on jersey for a while, I think I’m showing complete self restraint, but actually while we are redoing the flat its better new expensive machinery stays in its box for a bit. 🙂

It is really slippery fabric, I’m having to iron it all the time, if you have to undo stitches it marks like anything,I have no guarantee the things actually going to fit, but if it all works out I will be so happy with it. 🙂

preview….

unicorn bodice

felt deer, mini hats and arty photographs.

I was doing really well for sale shopping till Wednesday. I’d spent 30 quid on t-shirts in Primark (Deep Purple, Roxy Music and My Little Pony and stuff though!) and had managed to avoid the sales along Oxford Street, despite going up there twice for various things.

Then Wednesday lunch time I met my parents in town for lunch, and my mum ended up persuading us all to go round Liberty and look at stuff we couldn’t really afford. So it was all going fine, luckily I’ve gone off Tana Lawn as a sewing material, its too fine to be use for anything apart from sundresses, so we got through the haberdashery without any mishaps. Then we went upstairs to drool over the arts and crafts furniture and saw a sign to a Christmas Shop sale area, so we went in, not really expecting to find anything major.

And thats when I saw him…..

deer1

 

He was sitting on a trestle table along with 10 or so others, some smaller ones made of brushwood and a load of artificial greenery. And he was £34….down from £115.

It was, I admit, a bit of an impulse buy. But to be fair I’ve been after some kind of felt deer ever since I saw this artist at a craft exhibition a couple of years ago, I just thought it was something I’d never be able to afford, or would have to wait till it was long out of fashion for.

He is rather rustic for a felt deer, the one I bought is all in one piece, but several of the others had antlers a bit loose or stuffing coming out, nothing that couldn’t be fixed by a tiny bit of remedial sewing, but they are obviously rather delicate. Also when I tried to hang him on the wall, the loop to do so was in the wrong place so he leaned forwards rather than up and out like a real stags head.

He also looks a lot like someone has shoved antlers on a battle droid when viewed from the side!

battle droid antlers

 

Having failed at hanging on the wall, luckily all was not lost as I knew exactly where to put him.

 

This is my mini hat collection…

mini hats

 

I have taken some beautifully arty photos of it in the past….

arty hats

 

 

but recently the collection has grown a little bit out of control and has mostly been a bit of a messy pile!

So the perfect location for one felt deer looking for a new home and occupation as a hat hanger than 🙂

 

This is a panoramic photo I took of what the mini hat storage area looks like now…

hats panorama

so much better!

 

And here are some arty ones I made with my favourite iphone apps….

faded deer hats

sunbeam deer hatssupernova deer hats

tinted deer hats

 

I am quite pleased with how they’ve turned out, and can’t wait to take some more when it gets summer enough to not need artificial light!

The deer is very happy in his new home, I think he’s gorgeous and  Jon really likes him too, so not so bad impulse sales shopping.

In sewing news, just before christmas I won some tickets to the scifi weekender at the end of February. I went once before 3 years ago, and although books rather than comics or TV are more my thing am really looking forwards to it.

Despite my love of dressing up, I am totally not a cosplay person however, partly because I am usually double the size of any of the characters I’d be dressing as, partly because I find pretending to be someone specific, as opposed to vampire princess, which I have to admit I aim for a lot of the time, really embarrassing! No idea why.

However this year several of my friends are going one of whom is a similar size to me and a complete cosplay queen, so I have agreed to give dressing up a go :-S also if I dress up Jon will, and he is blonde, considerably thinner than me, in his early thirties and fairly muscular, so I am keen for him to give it a go as by scifi con standards he completely looks the part for a range of superheroes, and he’ll regret it if he doesn’t.

I am making myself one costume from scratch and constructing two others from premade bits and a bit of crafting.

I am constructing one for Jon and hopefully making one for him from scratch.

I am nervous about this, the sewing involved is not too taxing, but I have my first cold of the year already and only two months to do it all. I am not good with deadlines. 😦

So we shall see. Obviously no sewing piccies till its over, so will have to find something else to blog about….

 

obviously all photos are copyright to me and if anyone steals any I will be most displeased!

blackberries and diy

Haven’t posted in a couple of weeks as Jon has just had the week off work so have been horrendously busy.

Behind our block of flats is an overgrown patch of wasteland that used to be the carpark for the block before the council stopped maintaining it. We have lived here for 3 years and it has never been remotely useful for anything like that, and for most of the year I ignore it, except looking out the kitchen windows occasionally it is a lot prettier than a carpark would be.

However towards the end of august each year we go on an expedition into it because the entire patch of land is utterly covered in brambles, which means blackberries, lots of blackberries as no one else ever uses it.

 

Out of these we made blackberry gin and a blackberry and apple pie! 🙂

 

We got just over a litre of gin in total and the pie was yummy, although its a bit rustic looking as the sink blocked half way through what was meant to be our cooking evening, so after two hours of dismantling the u-bend I was too tired to make it pretty looking.

A couple of days later we were passing the station on our way for a walk and spotted there were a load of blackberry bushes hanging down from the viaduct, finishing just above head height, covered in blackberries and no one had had them yet!

So we popped home (its really not far from our house) and came back with a step ladder…..

 

This is Jon up the ladder picking the blackberries. I added a black border to the photo, but the light and the general graininess are genuine, I used no effects on this photo at all! 🙂

We used this second lot of blackberries to make sorbet, but it took a couple of days to freeze and then got half eaten pretty much immediately, so there was no chance to take photos!

This week whilst Jon has been off we have been doing a load of long term tidying and sorting jobs, and going to the paralympics.

Probably the most impressive job we managed was making over this chest of drawers….

 

It was Jons when he was a little boy, I have no idea how old it is, I suspect only 30 years or so, but it is reasonably solid construction pine. The problem was it had these really ugly wooden knobs, half of which had fallen off, making two of the drawers virtually unusable. The knobs were attached to big metal spikes that didn’t look to be coming out very easily, so we couldn’t just put some pretty crystal knobs from John Lewis in their place.

So about a year ago I found these antique/vintage square handles on ebay, bought them and have been waiting for the opportune moment to swap them over ever since.

It took us half an afternoon and all the next morning. Some of the metal spikes came out relatively easily, but 3 of them just wouldn’t and Jon ended up having to saw them off and file them bak flush with the wood so we could get the new handles over the top.

We gave it 3 coats of wax and putting the new handles on was really straight forward.

 

This is it afterwards, looking much better! 🙂

 

And this is the drawers back in situ in our bedroom, I think they look a lot nicer, and now we can actually access the bottom two drawers we’ve been able to have a good clothes tidy out.

Talking of clothes, I got two of the 3 garments I was intending to do last month finished, but have stalled completely on the third garment.

I am attempting to unpick, turn into a pattern and remake and old h&m cutsew I bought about 7 years ago that has been worn so much it is no longer black but grey and dropping to bits.it is taking a lot longer than I had anticipated, unpicking overlocked stitching is murder, and I am having to take notice of the construction as i am going along. But it is my first time trying to draft a pattern this way, so I am learning a lot from it, and if I get it right   I will have the most amazing pretty t-shirt blouses ever. However it is driving me up the wall and I really need a load of long sleeved tops for winter, so hopefully I will crack it soon!

 

it can’t rain all the time!…….(I hope!)

Hadn’t realised it’s been an entire month since I posted on here, but actually I’ve been super busy and done quite a lot, its just taken till this week to collate it all together.

So started the month by trying to make some jam..Image

I haven’t done this for 3 years since we lived in Hitchin, but I want to make some onion marmalade at some point, I mean £2.50+ for a piddley little jar at tesco – rip off! And Lewisham market had peaches for £1 for about 1.5kg, so I bought £3 worth and had a play. Well its very nice tinned fruit! And my biggest jam pan does not take 4.5kg of fruit, which is good to know, but meant I couldn’t boil it enough to set it properly else it would over boil. Oh well, it was my first attempt in years, and it goes very nicely with yoghurt and ice cream! :-S

Then I spent two days trying to dye my hair purple and burgundy. So I’ve been having problems with hair dye for ages, salon and home permanent colour washes out in about 3 weeks so I thought I’d give La Riche Directions ones a go as someone said they were better. 2 days and many hours wandering round with my head covered in dye later, this happened….Image

and lasted for all of 3 days/2 washes. Which was most irritating, so now my hair is back to the manky faded red it usually is. Oh well!

Then things got a bit more successful and I made a top….Image

It is another Sewaholic Renfrew top, and in loads of ways is my most successful so far, I got a sensible looking neckline this time, except the jersey I used, although really pretty was £3 a meter off Goldhawke Road and was stretchy as anything and stretched like mad as I was sewing, as it has mostly cleared up with a go in the washing machine, I am taking a lot of the responsibility 😦 and must remember to actually wash fabric before i sew with it! But the neck being so wide after I’d totally nailed the technique for getting the neckline even is totally annoying!

Then last week I went to my mums and hit the charity shops in one of the small country towns nearby. Countryside charity shopping is the best! Especially pet charities and hospice shops where they don’t make a habit of sending choice vintage down to London to make more money.

So in the first shop I went to I got this…

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A totally amazing 80’s prom dress for £6! Not sure if it’ll fit yet, despite having been back 5 days I’ve barely seen Jon and I need him to be around when I try it on incase it doesn’t! If it doesn’t I will chop the skirt off and use that and not the top or something.

In the second shop i found this…

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A really cool vintage hand mirror. Was really happy to find this as it was cheap, is not scratched or pitted at all and was actually on my list of things to buy this month. (realised I needed one whilst trying to dye my hair.)

And then last of all I found this beauty….Image

Now every one else thinks its hideous, and true it was made in bits rather than one piece and doesn’t have a makers mark, so it obviously came form a fairground or woolworths at the time, but its all iridescent an pearlescent and pink!!! And it is sooo big, its not obvious from the picture, but its the size of a Barbie and Ken! And the features and the way its carved is done so well for something that bad quality, that until you see its jointed not whole it looks a lot better than it is.

It is still at my mums at the moment as I couldn’t carry everything back, but I can’t wait to get it home and I know exactly where its going to go! 🙂

This month I have to take some medication I am not overly keen on, so may be suffering a little from side effects of it. However I have 4 new sewing patterns and an endless stack of Renfrews to get through, so hopefully the ill will let up long enough for me to do stuff! 🙂

t-shirts and posters

After several months being slightly under the weather and rearranging my fabric collection in increasingly elaborate ways…..I finally perked up and have actually sewn something. 🙂

Behold my attempt at the Renfrew Top by Sewaholic..an independent pattern designer.

I’ve seen a lot of pictures of these on the internet and I hadn’t seen a bad/massively unflattering one, so I was hoping it would work out alright. And for a wearable muslin I don’t think its that bad. the fabric was from Rolls and Rems in Lewisham, which is my local fabric store, and I use it fairly often for basics and emergencies, so I shouldn’t slag it off too much…but the quality is apauling, as is all the jersey they have in at the moment. For £4 a meter I’m not that impressed. I mean I know really good quality jersey can be ruinously expensive, but when a fabric shop is selling something that is basically primark quality for a price where the finished garment will cost as much as/more than it would cost at primark…one does wonder whom the target market is exactly. Hence it is clingy and stiff and see-through, so you can see the top of my trousers through it…which is not a great look.

However I will probably wear it again, as its a fairly attractive print (little black bows – if you can’t see from the photo) and I constructed it, so it should last a while longer than something actually from primark.

As far as the instructions and the fit goes, it was fairly straightforward, though I did have to look up how to sew with jersey on the internet first (was my first attempt). I will take it down a size on the main body for my next go, as its actually a bit loose (that makes me so happy 🙂  ). The only thing I’ve seriously had to alter is the bottom of the sleeves. I have quite small wrists anyway, but I had to take the cuffs and the sleeve bottoms in massively to fit/look normal . The lady who designs the patterns and all the people doing early attempts of this one I saw are all a lot thinner than me. When one puts on loads of weight, unless one gets massive water retention, your ankles and wrists do grow a bit, but at nowhere near the rate the rest of you does. Thus when scaling up a pattern from a (Uk) 10 or so to a (uk) 18 or so, although you need to scale up the wrists a bit, you don’t need to do it by as much as you do the tops of the arms. Otherwise it gets a bit 1970’s looking. 😦

But it was easy (albeit a bit untidy) to fix on this one, and will be easy to fix properly on the next one…which is using proper expensive jersey (eek!) and is already cut out!

In other creative stuff I’ve been doing this week… I can’t remember whether I mentioned last time, but I sent one of those pictures I made last time as a test print.

The resolution was workable with, so the printing company were obviously talking rubbish! However I was a bit annoyed because what was referred to on the website as a ‘poster’ was actually a giant photo..on thick glossy photo paper. I know its not much of a distinction but I was a bit pissed off, cuz I wanted them to look like cool posters I’d picked up somewhere, not artworks of some kind, which is what photo paper made them seem.

I asked around for a few days and did some research on the internet, but I couldn’t find anybody who would print 6 actual posters on poster paper as one offs, not a large print run, for anything approaching a realistic price.

Whist I was procrastinating, the company I used in the first place for the test print, sent me an email with a one day only sale code, which got you 50% off for any prints you had done that day.

So I bit the bullet and went for it with them. I’m still not too happy about the excessively shiny (when I took the photo I couldn’t stop the end one having a massive reflection mark on it 😦 ).. but I don’t think it looks too bad…

Only 4 of them worked well enough as that size image for me to be happy putting them up, but at the price I ended up paying for them, having two rejects doesn’t matter at all really.

They’ve properly brightened up the bedroom, 🙂 though I might shop around for a better printing company before I attempt any more.

the art of putting up posters.

So we bought our flat two years ago, and found rather quickly that the walls, which are made of two layers of very dense 70’s brick, really didn’t like having holes drilled into them.

We got the builder when we moved in to put some hooks up for pictures and mirrors and things, but as we settled in we tried to put some up ourselves using our black and decker drill and couldn’t get more than a couple of centimetres into the wall.

So we spent the past two years, firstly waiting for a friend to lend us her masonry drill, which never happened, and then saving up to buy one ourselves, until it was pointed out by my dad that , given we don’t intend to stay here forever anyway, and given the sort of drill we’d need to make any kind of dent in the walls would cost over £200, and given we don’t have that many framed pictures to go up at the moment, it really is bad value for money to buy one. And apparently blue tack doesn’t damage the wall if you take the residue off using nail varnish remover, so its a far better idea to use posters.

This has been a bit of a poser. Somewhere in my parents attic, waiting to be rescued next time I go to see them, are all my posters from when I was a teenager, a few of them are still cool, a lot of them just scream 18 year old. And I think thats the problem with posters in general. We haven’t had any on the walls in 8 years, everywhere we’ve lived, be it rental or bought we’ve used framed pictures. And thats what I was planning for this place, I was on the lookout for gold baroque looking picture frames from local charity shops, ready to fill with incongruous images of pop culture figures and photographs of twisted tangled branches, preferably both at once. I’m not really in the headspace for posters anymore.

We had a good look on the internet anyway, I think if I’d been buying/stealing posters regularly for the past 8 years, and had loads to collage everywhere all over the walls, I’d be a bit more up for band or film posters. I mean we really like music, but if you just buy two or three, thats kind of defining your taste in music and your taste in art publicly a bit more than I feel comfortable with. I always over think things, but to me for example, a lone Manics Street Preachers or Suede poster says ‘I was 17 in the 90’s’ whilst a Lady Gaga poster kind of says ‘I’m not 17 now, but I’m going to pretend I am’.

Hopefully over time, we will organically get posters of things we are into and build them up into a mass of images, and then maybe we can fill our walls and still look cool.

However for the moment, we decided, after several hours of browsing that the immediate problem of filling our walls wasn’t going to be solved by buying a personality off the internet. But we still really need something, every time I take a picture of our flat, I am totally struck by how plain it looks and slightly dingy with endless ikea book shelves and then nothing. So I decided to make some.

Coincidentally I have a couple of new iPhone photo apps that needed playing with. 🙂

So I created these photos……

  

   

  

yeah, ok they are of our toy collection, but they are for our bedroom, which has a lot of wooden furniture and a fairly old fashioned, and matching(!) bedspread and curtains, and desperately needs glamming up.

I am hoping to get them all on the walls as A3 posters, with one A2 sized one to fit a particular space, however the online printing company I am using thinks they are too low resolution, so I have sent one off for a test print to see what happens.

If they don’t work I will make some more along a similar line.

I can’t wait. Its a so much cooler, and cheaper, way of decorating the walls than buying loads of commercial posters I wasn’t massively happy with anyway.

BTW Photos are copyright to me and anyone attempting to use them without my permission will be in trouble!