Monday, 31 August 2009
Wednesday, 26 August 2009
Sustainability is something I've been interested in for quite a long time. And I've learned that the mantra reduce, re-use, recycle is in that order for a reason. Whilst our family does participate fully in local recycling schemes, I'm aware that in fact, recycling is the least environmentally effective of these three possibilities (but still much better than chucking stuff into landfill).
In terms of resource use, reduce is better than re-use, and re-use is better than recycle. As an example, it takes more energy to melt down and recycle glass into new bottles, than to sterilise a milk bottle for re-use.
Unfortunately, in the modern western lifestyle, reduce seems the hardest of all to achieve. It means getting a grip on your shopping habit, and not buying stuff in the first place. I can't claim fabulous success at this, but I have made a little progress.
I love reading, but last year, I vowed to stop buying new books. I've bought only one new book since then (The Hummingbird Bakery Cook book, and only because there was no other way of getting my hands on a copy that I would actually be able to use in the kitchen). I'm still reading as much as ever, though!
The public library is a good solution, although being rather forgetful, I often get stung for late fines. So I tend to patronise charity shops. I'm lucky to have an Oxfam bookshop near me, which has a large selection.
I also recommend joining Bookmooch - an online book exchange scheme. This works using a points system - no money is involved. You get a point for every book you send to another person, which you can then swap in exchange for books you want to read. This way you can read (almost) the latest novels for the cost of posting off a few of your previously read books. I've also successfully sourced new-ish books for my teenage daughter off there.
Wednesday, 19 August 2009
After pinning the crotch seam is an excellent time to check fitting - it's much easier to adjust the fit before you sew the crotch seam. Turn the trousers the right way out and pull them on. If they are too big, you can pin inside to indicate any changes needed, and re-sew the inside leg seams if necessary.
- cut the pieces a bit smaller so I don't have to adjust and re-sew. I already cut down my paper pattern in anticipation.
- make sure I cut both pieces in the same direction on the fabric (which means, for a vertically-oriented print, buying 3 yards to be sure of having enough)
I have my eye on some Kokka fairytale fabric for the next pair, just got to save up a bit of money first!
Sunday, 16 August 2009
One of the lovely things about the garden is the way it changes in response to the turning seasons. Now we're in late summer, yellow flowers keep coming on ds's pumpkin plant, and two tiny pumpkins are starting to form. Here's one of them:
On past experience, these will not be giant hallowe'en pumpkins - they were planted too late. More likely to be baked pumpkin - or maybe even pumpkin pie - than jack o'lanterns.
Most exciting of all, a baby corncob has appeared on his sweetcorn plant!
We had some space in our vegetable patch, caused by having pulled all the lettuces and most of the spring onions. Dh planted some turnip seeds in some of the gaps, and this weekend we went to the garden centre for young brussels sprouts and leek plants. I love the idea of home-grown brussels sprouts with our christmas dinner. Here's our raised vegetable bed with winter veggies added to it:
We've also lifted all the potatoes - I haven't had to buy any for weeks.
A small local exchange scheme is also happening in our street, as we gave our neighbours some of our glut of runner beans, and in return have received courgettes and a promise of cooking apples, when they are ready. Which means baked apples, apple pie and Dorset apple cake will be on the Autumn menu.
Monday, 10 August 2009
Thursday, 6 August 2009
I'm posting the instructions here as a tutorial.
2 rectangles of cotton fabric, each 41 cms wide x 45 cms tall
Scraps of fabric in different colours and patterns, which will contrast with main fabric
Fusible bonding, e.g. bondaweb
Embroidery floss in contrasting colour to main fabric
85 cms piping cord
Draw clothes templates on paper. I cut out my original shapes from a clothes catalogue and then scaled them up slightly using squared paper. Alternatively, you could try scanning them and then enlarging using your printer, or enlarging them on a photocopier.
Select some fabric scraps big enough to cut the clothes shapes from. Fuse one side of the webbing to the reverse of the fabric scraps with a hot iron, following the manufacturer's instructions:
With the short side of the rectangle at the top and bottom, lay your fabric "clothes" on one of the fabric rectangles with the right side of the fabric rectangle facing up and the paper side of the clothes shapes facing down. Arrange to your liking. I laid a piece of embroidery thread along the top of the clothes to be the "washing line" to help position them, as shown in the photo below. Remove the backing papers and fuse the pieces to the rectangle of fabric using a hot iron.
Set your sewing machine to a close zig-zag stitch and stitch carefully along the outlines of the clothes to secure the appliques in place. You can use either matching or contrasting thread. If you want to use matching thread, and need to change the thread for different "clothes", the bobbin thread will show only on the reverse, so perhaps you need only re-thread the upper thread. But this is probably not the approach of a purist!
With a fade-away or water soluble marker, draw a line along the top of the "clothes" where the "washing line" should go. Using an embroidery hoop to keep the fabric taut, hand-stitch with embroidery thread along this line. I used chain stitch, but you could try back-stitch if you prefer.
If you want embellishments on both sides of your bag, repeat steps 2-5 for the second rectangle of fabric.
Pin the two rectangles of fabric together with the right sides facing. With a 1 cm seam allowance, stitch from the top of one side, down to the bottom corner, pivot, along the bottom, pivot, and up the other side. Leave the top open. Clip both bottom corners. Press the seams open.
To make a channel for the drawstring, fold over a double 2cm hem around the top and pin in place. Leaving a 3 cm gap at one side seam, machine stitch near the bottom of the hem, backstitching at start and finish to secure the seam.
Insert the piping cord through the channel and fasten the ends into a reef knot to secure.
My dd and friend were pleased with these, so I count it a success!
Sunday, 2 August 2009
Given the dreadful exchange rate, we decided to stay in the UK this year, and chose Dorset as our destination.
This was partly because of my love of celebrated children's author, Enid Blyton... What has that got to do with Dorset? Blyton took holidays in the Purbeck area for many years, and this location forms the background to many of her books. Five years ago on our first visit, we went to the wrong end of the County to experience the Blyton connections, so this time I made sure we were in the right area.
This is Corfe Castle - the inspiration for Kirrin island in the Famous Five series. There is also an Enid Blyton themed shop, Ginger Pop, in Corfe village, but I only had time for a quick glance in it.
The local geology is very spectacular. Dd had studied the Old Harry formations in KS3 geography, so was interested to see them for real. I was glad ds was safe in a beer garden with dh at this point, as otherwise I would have been consumed with anxiety. The cliffs on the headland were towering - about 180 ft of almost sheer drop. Other impressive natural features we saw included the Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove.
We had a good seaside time on various beaches. Here's ds getting down to some sand action at Swanage. I was enchanted to find a traditional Punch & Judy show on the beach there, although they had sanitised it slightly- i.e Punch did not beat Judy nor the baby, and nor did he cheat the hangman's noose. But he did caper up and down hooting "that's the way to do it!" in the proper fashion.
We stayed in a charmingly cosy thatched cottage - with gable eaves, an inglenook fireplace (we lit a fire one evening, but only for ambiance - it was far too warm to need it), a roll-top cast-iron bath and an aga (unlit - definitely too hot).
Although I took my knitting with me, I hardly did any of it. The Regatta shawl border is proving rather complex and making me swear. So I abandoned knitting in favour of holiday fun. Now I'm nicely relaxed, hopefully I'll be more inclined to knit.