Sunday, 29 June 2014

Coming up for Air!

Well all my lovelies it is so fabulous to be with you all again.  I have been absolutely submerged in academia since I last spoke with you all.  The amount of late work we have to mark and assess has been more than I have ever known in the past so unfortunately for me, I have had to miss out on all your news.  This week the Academic Board will be visiting and the present students will be signed off ready to fly off to universities across the country and I will be free.......yippee.....for a short while before it all starts again. 
I am so looking forward to catching up with everyone and visiting all your lovely blogs to see what you have all been up to. I hope that I never have to again leave my blogging for as long as I have over the past few months - it has been hard being without you all. However, I have been trying to keep going with my crafting here and there.  How are you all doing?  I hope the sun has been shining for you and you are all happy and well.
Last time we spoke I was having mega problems with my phone and camera.  Now my lovely friend Laurence has looked at it and worked his usual magic - he is such a clever man and we are so lucky to have him in our life Folks.  A huge thank you again Laurence, you are a star.
At present I am finishing off some last papers and have taken a picture from our dining room and, as you can see, my sewing machine is set up ready to leap into action once I have finished.  It is so sunny outside and a shame to be inside but then I don't like the sun anyway so I am more than happy to sit in the shade here.  I have some more bunting to put up and some outside lights to make it look nice and magical in the evening.
I will try and take a photograph this evening for you to see it when the lights are on. 
Now down to work - what have I been doing besides marking papers?  As you know I have made contact with a most lovely craftswoman called Bobbie who has been working magic for me on her machine.  She is the most patient and kind lady who has really pushed the boat out to help me with my big 'bag' job.  If you remember I am making some bags for some lovely ladies who are very important to me - some of them are leaving us this coming week so it was important to get their bags finished in time.  I have just one more of these to make but will show you my progress so far.  I have been sharing the photographs in previous blogs so you will remember them when you see them. 
Bobbie is such a treasure - you must visit her website and have a look - she is wonderful.  She has taken all the information I have given her and worked her magic.  Bobbie has been working on the linings of the bags for me as I wanted to personalise them with something special.  She came up with some really great ideas even going as far to put in the colours of my lovely granddaughter's university.  I am proud to say that Lauren has graduated from university with an Hons degree and I am so proud of her.  She wants a bag making for her so obviously it had to be special.  I haven't started on hers just yet - my finish date for her bag will be in July when I am doing a little retro party for her.  Apologies as I haven't pressed her lining yet so it will look even lovelier once I have prepared it properly.  This is one side of the lining.

This is the other side - so cute.
Now these bags below are three that I have now finished (actually there is another one done now but I didn't have time to include it).  I am hoping my friends will like them but I am aware that my taste is not the same as everyone else.
Bobbie came up with the brilliant idea of having their initials on one side of the lining - I thought this was a fab suggestion.
Now I have gone for this little poem on most of the bags as it is one I really like.  I felt that it wasn't too soppy but said what I really felt.  This one is for Maureen who has been a wonderful friend to me over the many years at college and I shall miss her so much. 
This is her bag with a potted plant on the back of it.
I had been doing quite a few bags with the same design and wanted to do something different.  I spied this pattern on Etsy and just loved the caravan shape, particularly with it being a summer bag.  I knew that my lovely friend Sarah would be delighted as caravans mean a lot to her.
Below is the front of the bag - I enjoyed making this one so much.  I don't know why but I love caravans, VWs and washing lines!  I wonder what Freud would make of all this?
The initial inside Sarah's bag.
The photograph below shows the finished bag - I must admit that this one is my favourite at the moment.  Do you like it?
This is the other side of the bag.
And the lining.
Now I have a little tale to tell you about my schoolhouse tunics.  I have made three up to now with another one cut out ready to sew.  I have loved making them and loved wearing them even more.  I never thought I would wear anything I had made - ever!
Now last week we went for tea to my gorgeous daughter-in-law and our youngest Son and our two grandchildren who are 15 and nearly 21.  The photograph below shows me in my Liberty tunic which I love but my Hubby said I looked like a set of curtains - I had mentioned this in the previous post and had some lovely reassuring comments back (thank you so much).  No said anything during the evening and I must admit that I didn't have the courage to say that I had made it.  However as we were going my granddaughter asked me where I had bought my top and couldn't believe that I had made it.  On the way home she sent me a text asking me if I had time could I make her some for her holidays as she loved mine so much!  To say I was pleased is the understatement of the year, I was over the moon to think that a young woman of 21 would want to wear anything I had made.  So I have bought the fabric and am going to cut it out in Rachel's class as I want to make sure that I do as professional job as I can for her.  Watch this space!  Anyway I hope you like my top too
Now my Lovelies I promise I will be catching up with everyone this coming week.  I am so sorry that I have not been visiting you and have missed all your news.  I also wanted to ask your advice.  Lauren my granddaughter has asked if I would do her a retro 1970s tea party for us (just a small gathering).  Have you any ideas with regards food, tableware, music etc?  I have ordered some CDs with 1970s hits and am rooting through my stash to see if I have anything I can use for a tablecloth which looks suitably 1970s cool.  Any ideas warmly welcomed.  Well Folks I must love you and leave your for a short while.  I cannot wait to get back into the swing of blogging once again as I have missed it terribly.  Have fabulous evening/day depending wherever you are in our fabulous world.  Love you all loads, big hugs.  Dorothyxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Friday, 20 June 2014

Hello again!

 Well my lovely Friends how are you all - I think you must feel that I disappear in a puff of smoke sometimes.  I set out with the best of intentions of writing to you all and then, things get in the way.  This week has been mega busy with marking and getting my students ready to leave us to go to university.  I still have a lot of work to mark and the whole team have been burning the midnight oil practically every night this week in order to make sure that everything is ready for when the Academic Board come to visit us next week.  The other major problem this week has been my phone as it refuses outright to send any photographs to my blog - what frustration lovely Friends, I go so annoyed with it and have to take it back to the shop to see if they can fix it for me.  So annoying - I had managed to send a few thank goodness and so have enough for this post.   
 However, last week I did have some time out to go to a wonderful vintage fair in Hoole in Chester.  Hoole is the lovelies of little places with really nice little shops and a real old fashioned feel to it, very much a thriving community of people of all ages.  I would love to live there as there is such a buzz to the place.  If you remember I go to Rachel's sewing classes in Hoole so have been finding my way around the place - considering it is on the outskirts of Chester it still has that small community feel to it - fabulous!  I had a wonderful time at the fair and met some really nice people.  I find the crafting and vintage community so talented and inspirational.  A lot of the stallholders were craftspeople themselves so it was so good to stand to talk to them - plus enjoy a cup of tea and some fabulous homemade cakes (all calorie free so they said!).
Now I have been having a go at the schoolhouse tunic and have made two up to now.  Now the second one is my favourite made up from a vintage piece of Liberty fabric which I bought over a year ago from Rachel.  I love it and thought that it looked ok when I had finished.  However Hubby was not impressed and said that I looked as if I was wearing a set of curtains!  Anyway I showed it to my class and they all said that it looked really nice so when my phone begins to work I shall show you and see what you all think.  This pattern is so easy peasy I cannot believe it and I just love making it up.  I hate to say it but I did a far better job on this one than on Tilly's pattern, although I do love hers.

The fabric was from Abakhan and was something I bought to make some dresses for the little Peeps, however the eldest Peep didn't like it very much so poor old Grandma has had to wear it.  I think it is a cute pattern and looks a bit on the vintage side, just like me!
You cannot really see it properly in the photograph below, I have since made a small brooch out the fabric and pinned it to the top which looks quite effective.  It is so easy to wear with white trousers or leggings and I think I will be getting a lot of wear out of during the coming months.  I am already planning some heavier versions for the winter.  I had even thought of extending the length so that I could wear one as a dress with thick tights in the colder weather.  What do you think lovely Folks. 
Now to the vintage fair.  Well there was lots to see but I had set myself a tight budget as I know that I can get carried away at these places. The basket in the photograph below was one of my buys and I intend to spray it a pastel colour just like the wonderful Daisy who does a stunning job on her baskets and lines them too.  There was lots to look at on this stall and the buyer was so kind and friendly and said that a lot of it was out of her collection but she had a true love for vintage.
Here is the stallholder below - Alison.  I told her about my blog and how I have met such wonderful people from all over the world and would she like to be in it?  She was having a big giggle here saying well I might be famous after all.  She was just delightful to speak to. 
This was Alison's first fair and she was quite nervous about it, although she was really confident when speaking to everyone and was doing good trade. She knew a lot about the fabrics she was selling and it was obvious that she had a great love for textiles and vintage.   
I bought quite a lot of this fabric below - I know that it looks a bit gaudy but it is very 1970s and I know that lots of people really like this era.  What do you think Folks?  These are bolster covers which were long pillows which you put across the bed and then placed your individual pillows on top.  I can remember my parents having these on their bed in the 1950s/1960s.  Alison had three of them and I got them for a good price as they were in perfect condition - didn't look as if they had ever been used.   
Here is another bargain I picked up for £5 for the three - these are settee covers with two arm pieces and a long back piece.  They are in lovely condition and although creased they feel brand new. I just love the crinoline lady and am always keen to get my hands on embroidery with this design on. 
 The lovely lady below is called Deborah and she is a very talented textile artist who had previously worked as a lecturer in textiles so really knew her stuff.  She had simply loads of unusual things to sell and I did buy some pieces from her.  
For some unknown reason I was really drawn to this little nightgown which I think is 1930s all hand stitched and such fine fabric - almost feels like a very soft wool.  Every single stitch on it is put their by someone's hand and you can almost feel the love coming out of it. That may sound silly but I honestly had to bring it home - I wonder where this little baby is now?  The detail is just amazing and these photographs do not do it justice.  It is certainly from a bygone age.
Being blue it is obviously for a little boy and even the sleeves have fine ribbon stitched into them so they can be closed up. 
Although it is difficult to make out the photograph below shows the hem and this took me right back to my convent days when we were making our first apron.  I could not get the stitches 'invisible' and had it thrown back to me that many times that it began to look more like a dishcloth than an apron.  The sewing nun was in despair with me and said that I would never get on in life if I couldn't sew and I would never get a husband - so there!  Looking at the hem on this little gown I can see exactly what she wanted.  You cannot see the stitches underneath the hem - the ones on top are little tacks which have been left in.  Wonderful attention to detail. 
Don't you just love with little smocking detail - perfect. 
Part of the gown has these little embroidered motifs on - obviously the baby's name - Stephen or Samuel - who knows? 
I do love the little blue and pink edging all around the hem - it must have taken hours to sew. 
And finally a little shot of the details stitchwork.   
Well lovely Friends I hope you didn't mind indulging me down memory lane.  I shall treasure this little gown, my Hubby is bemused as to why I would buy something like this?  Well I don't know either except that I love to touch it and look at the care and love which someone has put into it.  I wish I had the skills and patience to do this - sometimes our world goes too fast for comfort and I am one of the worst for trying to cram in 24 hours into 12 - we are probably all very similar, such is the pace of life. 
Well my lovely Friends I do hope you have had a glorious week and will have an even better weekend.  I am hoping that my telephone will be sorted very soon so I can get back on track with everything.  The back of the marking should be broken this weekend as I am working online with my team colleagues to try and get everything done by Wednesday at the latest.  After that I will have a little more time then which I can devote to things I enjoy in my social life, like meeting up with all of you lovely Folks. 
I have to catch up with all my favourite bloggers out there and send them all some messages.  I really miss blogging when I am doing other things and couldn't imagine my life without one now.  Do let's know how you are all doing and leave a message if you can as I love hearing from you all.  Hope to speak to you very soon, take care and have a fabulous weekend.  Big hugs and loves to you all.  Dorothyxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 

Friday, 13 June 2014

Well it is Friday and I am not watching the World Cup - are you?

Hello all you Lovelies out there, how are you all doing.  Hubby is firmly ensconced on the settee, eyes glued to the screen watching all these men dashing around a pitch with a ball.  Oh dear do I sound cynical!  Sorry to all you football fans out there, I am sure you are all having a fabulous time, but sadly it does pass me by.  Apart from the football how is life treating you all?  I hope you are all happy and busy, it is so good to be back to see you all.   
I am still very busy at work as you can imagine as all the final work is coming in for marking and students are getting tense, hoping their grades will be good enough for university.  I have a lovely group this year of around 100 or so students and they have been superb (well nearly all of them) and I am keeping everything crossed that they will be successful as all the hard work.  I am sure that many of you will be going through a similar time if you are teachers or parents or students. 
I only have a few pictures to share with you tonight Lovelies as I am keen to catch up with your wonderful blogs - I just haven't had time this week but I am hoping things will get a little calmer soon and I am really have some serious blogging time.  You may remember that I had made some bags for my wonderful colleagues just to say thank you for all their hard work but I also wanted to make some very special ones for those who are sadly leaving this year.  It is so hard to say goodbye to fabulous folk who I have seen on a daily basis and life won't be the same without them all.  I have about eight of these bags to make and the lovely Bobbie Oliver is also on the case as you will see  once they all come together.
I have used two designs which I really love.  The house and washing line is my favourite and will be on one side of the bag and the flower on the other side.  The design for the house comes from a lovely little book which I have had for a while called Scandinavian Stitches by Kajsa Wikman.  It is such a lovely little book with loads of ideas for projects.  This particular design was taken from a piece of wall art but works well on the bag front - I hope!  The plant in the post is one I have used before from the lovely Bustle and Sew - Helen is a really talented lady with lots of fabulous designs on her website so do pop over and see her.  The fabric is part of my stash from the Rag Market from Birmingham and I cannot wait to go and get some more........really good value.
As all of my special ladies work in different parts of our organisation and do not really know one another then I thought to save time I would do similar designs for quickness really as time is running out quickly.  The insides of their bags will all be personalised with their names in so I don't feel too guilty about them being similar.
Honestly Folks I really find doing these so soothing and therapeutic and can really recommend you all have a go. I can really go overboard with my gorgeous buttons and crochet butterflies - I am in heaven Folks.
I have ideas to make something similar for the Little Peeps using their old dresses and tops, will be a nice way to remind them of their childhood when they are older.
However, I must be getting more confident as I am now working on producing my own designs to use rather than relying on another designer to do the work.  I have loads of ideas in my head and hope I can come up with a couple of useable ones for my bags.
The one below is my favourite because it is pink - I am not a lover of blue Folks although it is supposed to be my lucky colour.  All my life I have been drawn to pink and red so this fabric really fits the bill, I love it.  I think the heart button is so dinky and cute.
The other side of other bag is partly the design of Bustle and Sew and partly Scandinavian Designs.  I am not sure why I am always drawn to houses and washing lines but I am - do you like houses?  Perhaps it is because a house is just about the only think I can draw!
I have the rest of the bags all cut out and ready to have the applique put on them and I will show you them all once they are finished. 
I have a few more pictures to show you all Folks but cannot get them off my phone at the moment as it is being 'synced' - whatever that means.  I made a top this week from the easiest pattern you can images, well if I can do it a baby can.  I finished it last night at sewing class but it was too big so I have to adjust the sides now - eeks I hope I don't made a huge mess of it all.  I will show you this tomorrow.
Finally this was a gorgeous little tin I found in a thrift shop for £1 last week - it is in lovely condition and I am waiting to fill it with some equally gorgeous buttons.  I think it is from the 1950s/early 1960s and had toffees in.  This was a popular Christmas gift in those days along with a box of three pocket handkerchiefs - how times have changed folks as I couldn't see the children of today being that happy with such a gift from Father Christmas can you?
Well my Lovelies I am off tomorrow morning to visit a vintage fair in Chester so will hopefully find some little gems to show you and, I hope, to have finished my top and might even wear it tomorrow......yikes never thought I would say that. 
It is so hot and humid here tonight, almost as if a storm is brewing big time.  It has been really hot in work today so not comfortable at all.  I hope the weather is being kind to you wherever you are in our wonderful world.  Hope to see you all tomorrow, do leave a message if you have time as I love to hear from you all.  Many apologies to my fellow bloggers as I have been remiss not visiting much this week, I have really missed you and hope to catch up with everyone this weekend.
Big hugs and loves to Everyone, Dorothy:-)xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Hello Everyone - did you think I had forgotten you?

Hello all my favourite People, how are you all doing?  It has been a little while since we last spoke - I won't go into the ins and outs of work as you know I have done all this before.  All I will say is that, thankfully, I am back with you again.  I hope you are all well and happy.  I have missed you all so much.

I got home yesterday, a bit fed up with work and found a little parcel waiting for me in the hall.  I had not idea what it was and opened it up quickly. Look what I found - such a gorgeous letter from Jackie from the lovely Jackie's Crafts.  Do go over and check her site out as it is wonderfully entertaining and so useful for ideas and tips.  I was so grateful to the lovely Jackie for taking the time to write personally to me.  Jackie had also included a gorgeous handkerchief holder which is so useful and in my most favourite colour - thank you Jackie.

Look at the fabulous card below which Jackie had made herself, it is wonderful and one I will keep forever. You are so talented Jackie. 

Also look what else I got - isn't it perfect..........I haven't quite fathomed out how mandalas work yet even though there are hundreds of blogs showing us all how to do them - it always take me ages to figure new things out anyway.  Jackie your gorgeous mandala really helped me understand why everyone is raving about them - thank you so much.   You put all my favourite colours in too Jackie -  perfect!

We had the little Peeps last weekend so it was all systems go.  In the back of my cupboard in the sewing room I found a half completed bag and we wanted to make something sweet for my gorgeous daughter-in-law.  I had found a beautiful heart on a tea towel that I had in my scraps bag and came up with this.  It fitted the colours of the bag just perfectly.  Do you like it?

On the other side I had put a panel which a lovely lady called Bobbie Oliver did for me.  I found Bobbie on Etsy.  She is the most wonderful lady who is immensely talented in everything she does.  I just adore her embroidered panels which really add something extra to anything you make.  Look below to see what Bobbie did for me on this bag...........I just love it!  Lesley did too. 

In sewing class I have been trying to get on with some work and will show you all what I have done in the next post. However my lovely sewing teacher Rachel found this super pattern last week and guess what it doesn't have any buttons or zips!  This sounds just perfect to me so I sent for one before they all went.  Rachel had made one this week and was wearing it on Tuesday and it looked perfect.  She is going to help me make one so all I need to do is get some fab fabric ready for her.  You can make it in any length so I think I will be making it into a longer length tunic and I can hopefully wear it with white trousers in the summer.

Now it has been a really full week and this Sunday I was asked very unexpectedly to do my first shift at Blist's Hill!  Well it was a baptism of delight I must say.  I got there nice and early but was quite nervous as I didn't really know what I would be doing and how it was all going to work.  I didn't even have much time to take any photographs today as I was so busy.......however I have put a lot of pictures on before so you know what it all looks like.
There is a lot to learn but today was just getting used to being in the house and obviously relating with all the visitors.  We have to light the fire when the houses are opened but, as it was my first day, the lovely girl I was working with, Melissa, had already done this by the time I arrived.  I was placed in the Duke of Sutherland's cottage which is an actual cottage which was taken down brick by brick and then very carefully rebuilt at Blist's Hill.  It would have belonged to the manager of one of the mines and he lets out two of the rooms in the back to the local doctor who uses these for his patients when they come to see him.  I will give you more about the history in later posts.
The range is just gorgeous and Melissa had black leaded it all on Friday so it looks in tip top condition.  Below you can see the fire just getting going. 

Below is the little scullery which would have been used to prepare all the vegetables ready to be cooked on the range - it is amazing how these women managed to feed their families so well with so little help.  On the lower left of the photograph you can see the brown sink which is so shallow compared with our big white ones today and the draining board is wood so is scrubbed each day - no plastic here.  Everything was so labour intensive and our world is so different.  I can remember my Grandad making paper edgings for put on his shelves in the kitchen and I thought they were adorable when I was little.  I always wanted some in our house but Mum would never put any up.  I suppose they are equivalent to our bunting.  Some creative soul has made up some really pretty ones for the house.  On the clothes maiden there are a couple of aprons and a long pair of women's drawers - very good for draughty cold cottages.

In the corner there are two sewing boxes, a small one for a little child and a bigger one for the Mother of the house.  These created a lot of chat among the younger girls who came into the cottage.  I was able to show them all the silks inside them - there is so much interest in crafts today and it is wonderful.

On the wall was a wide range of books which the Victorians would have read - many families were just too poor to own any books other than the Bible which every house has.  The family in this house was obviously a little more affluent so could afford more books.   

Below is the room which the doctor would have used to meet up with his patients.  It smelled of polish and disinfectant.  Often families couldn't afford to pay for the doctor and his prescription (two payments) so they might just go straight to the pharmacist and ask for some pills to help them recover.  Today we take so much for granted here in the UK but this is how it used to be before the introduction of the Welfare State.

Well Lovelies what did I wear?  My little Peeps thought I would be wearing a gorgeous silk gown of red or purple - how I wish this could have been!  However, the lady I am portraying is lower/middle class and this is the dress she would have worn.  I couldn't wear any makeup and could only wear jewellery which were appropriate to 1900.  I wore a little china brooch of flowers on my blouse and some tiny earrings to match.  I couldn't wear my bracelet or watch so it all felt a little different.  I took my crochet bag which I made years ago plus some hexagons to make up if I had time.

I do love my hat which is so pretty, I shall post a better photograph in another post.  I was asked not to show any flesh at all at any time apart from my face and neck.  I have to wear my hat outside at all times which felt strange at first but I did get used to it as the day wore on.
I had a fabulous day talking to all the visitors coming into the cottage - lots of them were interested in the patchwork I was doing and the bags I had made.  It was lovely as I had quite a few compliments about my work and one French lady took lots of photographs of my bags.  The children were just a delight and I asked them what the toasting fork was used for - one little boy suggested it was for taking teeth out and another little girl suggested toasting an animal of some sort on the fire!   They couldn't grasp the fact that there was no electricity at all at that time - they were all very interested in the old flat irons and were intrigued that they had no leads on them to plug in. 
All in all an exhausting but gorgeous day.  The sun came out and I enjoyed every minute of it - I left home around 7.45 am and got back around 6.45 pm so it was a long day but I am going back next Sunday for another dose!
Well my lovely Friends I am so glad to be back with you all again.  I hope to hear from you all soon and will be writing to you again very soon.  Have a fabulous day or evening depending where you are in the world.  Big hugs and loves, Dorothyxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx