Thursday, 29 August 2013

A new addition

We have a new addition to our family...

Meet Daisy, a 6mth old Soft Coated Wheaton Terrier. She is the reason I haven't made much over the last few days. Good friends came to visit over the bank holiday weekend, they also have a Wheaton Terrier and had heard that Daisy needed re-homing. When we told them we were looking for a dog, they suggested we contact the breeder, which we did and she was ours.

So the last couple of days have constituted an epic road trip to collect her from Shropshire. So now I'm a bit behind with my projects. I have almost finished the plans for work. I'm almost done making two school skirts for my daughter and then It's the Jacket that I desperately need for work. I'm making this jacket from Burdastyle magazine 02/2013.

I'm going to omit the patch pockets and just use the flaps that are on version 101 instead. I'm making it in a wool blend and not a boucle so the frayed edges wont feature on my version. I'm also including some tailoring techniques to create a more substantial jacket.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Landscape paintings for the 30 30 30 Challenge

Cheviot Hills, Northumberland. Acrylic
I live in the beautiful county of Northumberland, England. we have it all! Stunning beaches, old castles, rolling hills, market towns and all within about an hour from home. To top it all off, Newcastle is only 15 miles away , so we have access to all that city life brings as well, when we want it.

Tree, Mixed Media

The paintings I'm working on at the moment are all landscapes, I've been working on 4 all at once, layering, gluing, painting, spraying. building up layers of washes and also areas of heavy body paint. I almost forgot I had some super heavy body paint and I'd forgotten how much I like using it, until I started applying it to these paintings the other day.

I have been working out in the garden as it's been sunny and warm and I've even hung the paintings to dry on the line with my washing. I've now completed 20 images (I think) that means there's just 10 to go.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Upcycling Kids Clothes - A guest post.

Today's post is written by Martha Buckley, she is a professional blogger and writer. She enjoys sharing her knowledge with others and collaborates with best custom writing. Today she shares some interesting insights on recycling children's clothes. as as I've recently cleared out my children's wardrobes I can totally relate to the things she's sharing here.

There is nothing that seems more wasteful in our society than kids clothes. If you have children you almost feel guilty when they outgrow something. Although we give hand me downs to those around us, there are so many outfits that you almost can’t give away. If there is a stain, or just the slightest of wear, most people are too vain to dress their children in it. What that leaves our society with is an abundance of clothes, made from materials that don’t decompose, that usually end up in landfills. That is nothing but sheer waste. You also don’t want to be the parent who makes their child suffer wearing ugly, stained, clothing because of your environmentally conscious affiliation.

So what can you do with those stained clothes

It is very obvious what to do with the clothes that are still in good condition, you wear them. But for those clothes that are slightly used, or those that are imperfect, if you aren’t going to outfit them on your children, there are other ways to use them. Many of the old styles are coming back again, and mix and match is all the rage. If you know how to sew, why not take the good pieces of the outfits that are still intact and make your own frankenstein version. I know it sounds kind of awkward, but if you look back to the styles of the 70s you will see that the more colorful and outlandish the more trendy clothes were. Bring back the eclectic style by piecing together the pieces that are still good.

If you have children that are older and much bigger than the little ones take those old clothes to let them paint and get dirty. Why let them play in play clothes when you can give them an old t-shirt to throw over their clothes that you never have to worry about getting dirty. The bigger, the better, it just gives them more room to cover their own stylish clothes.

Clothes need not be kept as such

Just because the material started out on clothes doesn’t mean that it has to stay in that form. In the end, material is material. Why not take the material of the clothes, especially the ones you loved them in and make a care blanket for them to take to college. If you make a blanket out of all of those old clothes, it will be like a hug from home. If you are a sentimental person, why not make a blanket for yourself. So many memories can attach to the favorite outfit you have for your children. Keep those memories alive by piecing them into a blanket, or throw, that way instead of putting them up in an old memory box, you will have them to keep you warm on a cold winter’s night.

Children love art

If you are daring enough, cut those old clothes up and let your children make their own art, or donate it to the school, or to the local children’s hospital. If you are always looking for things for your children to do, cut up those old colorful clothes into pieces, hand them some glue and let them go to town. They can make some really beautiful art pieces. When they are done, you can hang them on the wall as wall hangings to display their colorful nature. If you are room mom at the school, cut them into kits for the kids and have them make an art project at their next in school party. Let their creativity run wild while you are upcycling those clothes.

There are so many different uses you can find for old children’s clothes. Often times we are tempted to just throw them into the trash and walk away. Before you do that, think about all the things that they can be made into, all the ways that children and adults can enjoy the material. There is never a reason for material that can be reused to end up in land that just sits and rots. When possible, you should find a new use for those things that you don’t want anymore. Just because no one would want to wear them doesn’t mean there isn’t other value for the material.

Some great points there Martha, Thank you for sharing. We are lucky to be able to recycle and reuse most of our clothes. Those which are past useable are made into proggy mats, quilts etc, and the remaining fabric is taken to the local recycling centre, which uses it for a range of different purposes depending on it's fibre content.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Cool Crochet Dress

I never thought I'd use the words Cool and Crochet in the same sentence. That was until I found this vintage pattern on Etsy a few months ago. If you've been following my blog you might have seen it before.

So the story goes  - I saw a lovely crochet dress in Monsoon, but couldn't afford it, and the neckline wasn't quite right for me, so I started looking for a pattern. Once I say this I started to plan it's making, working out the right size hook to use and sourcing the correct cotton. After some research I found that my local wool shop stocked it.

I knew it would take me a while and planned top do this as I recovered from my Hip Arthroscopy. I could take it with me into hospital and could cram it into a bag, bit easier than carting a sewing machine about!

I followed the instructions carefully. I find visual instructions better then written , so it was a bit of a challenge as they were all written. The skirt part ended up way too big and I had to take out  two whole columns of motifs to make it fit, as I'd already finished it It was a bit of a pain, but not too difficult to fix.

The instructions for the sewn in lining were very vague and I decided to sew a separate slip dress. I used the lining from Pattern 103 01/2012 Burdastyle. I omitted the zip , but added a back seam to help fit it a little better.

I like the fact that I could also wear it over the top of my white linen trousers and a vest top as well as the dress.

So what do you think?

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Collette Sorbetto Variation

I discovered the Collette Sorbetto top pattern earlier this year and have made two so far. I haven't sewn for a few week after having an operation on my hip, but have just completed my first two projects for a while. I made a slip for under the crochet dress I made while I was recovering (soon to be blogged) and a third Sorbetto with the left over fabric.

This Sorbetto version has extended, Kimono style cap sleeves, which I drafted using a tutorial from Threads magazine. The front pleat and neck edge are finished with bias trim. I decided to use this beautiful red gingham trim with a picot edge, which was given to me by Helen at Grosgrain Green during the spring sewing swap. Isn't it lovely?

If you haven't already discovered the Sorbetto - it's a free pattern and can be found here.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Oh I do like to live beside the seaside...

The Northumberland coast is stunning all year round, but especially so in the summer. This is where I live and this week I've been off the crutches and walked down to the beach. (photo by Newbiggin by the Sea, Northumberland on FB). I've also just had my first Physio class and I feel great, for the first time in ages I feel like I can move normally - more please!

Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland. Acrylic, Oil and pastel

Anyway, inspired by the beautiful county where I live with it's long sandy beaches and stunning castles. I've created three pieces for my 30 30 30 Challenge. These stunning castles are all within 45 minute drive from home. This is a stunning place to live.

Dunstanburgh Castle. Northumberland. Acrylic, Oil and pastel

Not everyone thinks so as some goverment minister suggested that the NE of England is desolate and would be a suitable place to undertake Fracking (hydraulic fracturing). Maybe it would be better to Frack his own back yard, not our beautiful county - Rant over.

Lindisfarne Castle. Northumberland. Acrylic, Oil and pastel

I've now completed 18 pieces of the 30 I set out to do. The question is, can I get 12 more done before I return to school on the 2nd September? In the autumn they'll be sold off to help me raise funds to go on a short term team with International China Concern next April.

Saturday, 3 August 2013


It's not a word that make you think of beautiful is it? But I've seen images of people who are undergoing chemotherapy and have lost their hair and there is something beautiful and stunning about seeing someones face with it's bone structure evident and not covered by hair.

Chemo, ball point pen and coloured pencil

A friend of mine has had aggressive breast cancer in the last couple of years and has undergone several surgeries as well as Chemotherapy. She is a remarkable person, and sees her time having chemo as part of the aspects of her life that that have contributed to who she is. As part of my 30 30 30 challenge she asked me to create a portrait of her, based on a photograph of her during her Chemotherapy.

Chemo, Oil paint
I found myself so taken with the image that I created two versions, one in pen and coloured pencil and one in oils. I have to say working on these pieces have been my favourite work so far in the challenge and it's been a privilege to be able to create a portrait of my friend from such a challenging time of her life. She has agreed that I can share these with you. I hope you agree that she is stunning and beautiful.

Thursday, 1 August 2013


I'm sure you all know how great Bernina sewing machines are. I've been on the look out for one for a while. The school I used to work in had 4 basic Bernina machines and they were amazing. despite all the silly things kids did with them, they continued to work well and with a little TLC produced lovely stitches every time.

Well I managed to get my hands on a Vintage Bernina at a reasonable price, it was sold as spares or repair as it hadn't been tested and had been a school machine, so had a few scratches and was a bit dirty. As soon as it arrived , it was out of the box and tested. The stitches were generally even, but the tension was a little tight. As it was such an old machine I had it serviced straight away. A friend of mine services machines for Sew Green in Lancaster and as he was in the North East to visit family he brought his tools and made sure the machine as in tip top condition.

Now I just need to decide which will be the first sewing project for my new "old" machine, and I need to get a few bobbins and a couple of essential feet.

How many of you sew on a Bernina? what is your favourite make of machine?


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