Monday, 6 February 2017

Baby it's cold outside...

So if you're anything like me you will be hunkering down in the warm, and what better place to do that than in your cosy kitchen rustling up homemade soup.

(of course if I was a true food writer my soup would have had its swirl of cream and snipped chives to dress it up, I was just anxious to take the picture and eat it!)

A few years ago I was lucky enough to be sent a book 'Hungry' by the lovely people at Innocent. I've made several of the recipes over time but the section about soup has made it my go to bible when I want some inspiration.
This sweet potato soup recipe comes from that book and it is deeelicious!! Just the job for warming you up on these cold days. And the added bonus is there's usually enough to pop some in the freezer for another day.
The leek and potato recipe comes from The British Cookbook  which I bought at Asda some time ago and is a particular favourite. Can't seem to find it anywhere but on eBay now!

I know this blog is known mainly for sewing but I do love cooking when I'm in the mood and my kitchen is somewhere I love to be. It is one of only two rooms in the house where I have allowed my vintage collecting to influence the decor, (the other being my sewing room of course)

So do you have any favorite warming recipes to share I would love to hear from you if you have. In the meantime I am off  to snuggle down on the settee with a good book and an equally warming whisky and soda.

Jenny xx

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

In a Crazy World at least my ears are warm!....and a giveaway!!

Yes the world has gone crazy, and yes there are some very important issues out there, but we all have to deal with this in our own way. I have two favourite options for this. One, turn off the TV and radio and avoid the Internet ,or two, immerse myself in something I love and hope that some of the awful panic starts to fade.
It's not any kind of solution but it's my way!

And so naturally since I can't just avoid everything I dislike I've decided to embrace number two and hit my sewing room...again.
I completed the sweat shirts for the grandsons and am currently deciding on my next bigger project, but it is sooooooo cold here it's enough to freeze, well just about anything really!
So I thought I would share my favourite headband, earmuff tutorial with you.

You will need:
About 6 inches, (15 cms) x the circumference of your head measured  around your ears plus 4 inches, (10 cms) of fleece.
A small amount of polyester filling. The band is slightly padded for extra warmth and it is a little more flattering
About 4-5 inches (8-10 cms) of Velcro, hook and loop fastener.
Matching thread
Sewing machine, although this project is small enough to be hand sewn if you don't have access to one.
Card or paper to make template.

First of all measure around your head, or your child's as this is suitable for all sizes, going over your ears. Make a note of this measurement.

Next you will need to make a pattern.Take a piece of card or firm paper half your original measurement plus about 1.5 inches (3 cms) and about 6 inches (15 cms) wide. A4 paper was just the 1.5 inches short for my head, so I used this and noted my pattern piece to add that on to the back measurement when cutting out.
First draw a line 4 inches,( 10 cms) down from one long edge.

Next measure from the centre front of your head to the centre of your ears. This is the second measurement. Jot it down.

One short edge of the card will be your centre front. Mark this. Measure along the  long edge from the centre front and mark the second measurement (centre of ear).Mark this again from the centre front along the drawn line. Connect the two marks and draw a vertical line.

Next you will need something rounded to create the slight shaping to cover the ears. I had the backing  ring from some bias tape. Place the bottom of the circle or saucer, whatever you are using so that it is centred over the second measurement line and comes below the bottom line of the band by about 3/8 inch (1 cm) . Draw the curve and then blend that into the bottom line so that it is a gentle dip as opposed to a deep curved flap. This is then your template which is half your band. As I was using fleece and I find cutting it on a fold rather tricky, I copied the template onto another piece of card and joined the two together at the centre front with sellotape. This is also a good way to check you have measured correctly and that the slight dips line up with your ears!

You will need to cut two of these out of fleece, not forgetting to add the extra length at the back seam  if like me your card was shorter than needed, and then right sides together pin and stitch them together leaving a small gap on the bottom edge to turn the band out.

Trim the corners, making sure you don't cut the stitching and layer the seams, that is trim one side to about an eighth of an inch to reduce bulk, then turn out to the right side.

With the bottom shaped edge towards you fold the left side over to the middle and the bring the right side over to overlap this.

The overlapped side should be the one that is completely sewn, the side with the opening still is the one underneath at this point.
You will now stitch the hook portions of the hook and loop fastener to the underside of the right overlapped piece. Cut two pieces about 1/2 inch less than the finished width of your band and centre them side by side.

This is the point at which you will insert the stuffing. You are aiming for an even flat slightly padded look, so you don't need too much.You should keep the stuffing about  two inches, 5 cms away from the end which is still open as you will be stitching the loop part of the fastener here. Its a little tricky with the opening but not impossible. You could use thin batting that you would use in quilting, but this would need to be attached when sewing the band together and I thought this might prove a little tricky with the thickness of the fleece.
Once you are happy with the look of your band close the opening neatly with a ladder or similar stitch. There are lots of videos on the web showing the neatest way to do this.
Ease any stuffing away from the end to leave you about two inches to work on and then you will finish by sewing on the loop fastener.
To ensure that you are sewing it on the correct side fold your band as before, with the shaped side towards you fold in the left side to the middle and then the right side to overlap this. If you have it folded correctly the hook part of the fastener will be on the underside of the right overlapped piece. You will then sew the loop part on the end of the left side facing up.

And you are done, A cosy band to keep head and ears warm.

Dress it up with a vintage brooch or even make some felt flowers to add a bit of fun. Why not make several to go with your different outfits! If unlike me you don't have a ready supply of fleece there are sellers on eBay who sell scarf sized remnants of fleece that would be perfect, or you can recycle an old fleece of your own or from a charity shop.

Do let me know if you have a go, I would love to see some of your creations.

Here are a few I made earlier, I hope they might give you some inspiration.

And finally if you want to have a go I have quite a quantity of fleece in basic colours, beige, navy, dark brown and black left over from my slipper making. I will send a piece of your choice to the first 6 people to leave a comment here and there might be a little surprise gift included too.

Good luck

Jenny xx

PS I will keep the give away open until 31/01/17 and then contact the winners for their addresses.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Return of my sewing mojo

Well it seems giving myself a mantra for the New Year is working. Not only did I finish the cord skirt, but have now made the jersey blouse and the grey sweatshirt! Forgot to take pictures though!

Haven't tackled the shift dress yet as I don't suppose I'll need it in the next few weeks according to our weather forecasts. So I've started on some sweatshirts for my grandsons.

I bought this navy and white stripe sweat shirting on line at the end of the year and hadn't got around to making it up.  It's lovely to work with and this sweatshirt hoody is so quick to make up.
I printed the free pattern from Shwin and Shwin for Charlie the youngest, and will buy the older size for Alfie as I can see it being used over and over.

The hood is lined which gives it a nice touch and the pattern suggests ribbing for waist and cuffs but this time I've decided to shorten both a little and leave them plain. I quite like the effect.

I was so keen to get on, I didn't think what I was going to use for the lining until I had the main sweatshirt cut out. All I had was some turquoise jersey or some mid navy, neither of which inspired me, but rooting about in a bag of old tee shirts I was discarding I found just the right shade of yellow, and it's perfect!
Just have to try it on now and do final fitting and I can get it hemmed and handed over.
So next of course is Alfie's, I think I will raid the tee shirts again to see if I can find an orange green or purple for his hood lining as they are his favourite colours. Perhaps I won't be throwing out those old tee shirts in the future, but storing them in my stash!

Finally I do have to confess to one purchase, a denim skirt in Marks & Spencer's sale. At only £14 reduced from £35, it was a bargain and what's more for once the fit is perfect. However I'm still on track as makes are 3 to 1 at the moment!!

Well that's it for now. I am off to help hubby fit the sides of the new cupboards he has already built and plastered in his new room. It seems his building mojo has also returned as I can't believe what he's already achieved in the last few days
Have a good week, I'd love to hear from you whether it's sewing related or just to say hello!

Jenny xx

Monday, 2 January 2017

This doesn't bode well.....

Well I'm already a day late so as the title says this doesn't bode well for my better organised 2017,

However despite this I wish you all a very happy, healthy and peaceful New Year wherever you are.

We have had a lovely Christmas and New Year with lots of get togethers and some fabulous presents. A couple of which were definitely not planned.
I signed up for Tracy's Cracker Swap back in November and while trying to print something out to include in my parcel my printer decided to give up the ghost! So off to our local shop we went to try to find a reasonable replacement. I went for a wireless one thinking this would make things so much easier,  But no not a chance. So okay, for now we'll connect it by cable and sort out later! Doesn't work when your ancient computer still has XP installed. So to cut a long story short, we invested in a new laptop and then our son (the computer whizz) spent almost four hours setting everything up!!!
Needless to say said swap has not taken place yet. My Partner Lynn couldn't have been more understanding and in fact had reasons herself to delay our exchange, so we will be sending our crackers off anytime now
Despite this we have had a good time and are now looking forward to this New Year.
One holiday already booked in beautiful Wales again and another planned for later on.
We are booked to help with some decorating for our DD and family and have a few projects lined up here. The main one being a man cave for DH with some storage and a new airing cupboard to be created from part of the bedroom he is taking over. ( It is quite large) 

My other plan is to sew more than I buy in 2017, not only because I enjoy the sewing part so much, but to be honest, I get so disappointed when I shop for clothes. I love colour and there are only a handful of shops whose clothes I like that seem to embrace this.
Anyway I've already made a start and have just completed a cord skirt with some fabric I bought at the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching show.
I used an ancient New Look pattern, 6030 and am quite pleased with how it's turned out.

My only regret is that I didn't use the contrast cotton for the waistband facing as the cord is quite thick. However that's a note to myself for next time!
I am following this with a jersey blouse for which I will use my trusty tunic pattern, shortened and with short sleeves.

I've also got fabric lined up for a cosy half zip sweatshirt in this lovely grey fleece backed fabric printed with tiny stars and the first of my summer weight shift dresses. A gorgeous chartreuse cotton with cream spots. Just a few bits to be getting on with.

I guess my next thing will be to cull my wardrobe to make room for them, some to sell and lots for the local charity shops, recycling at its best.

So what are your plans? I hesitate to say resolutions as this seems to put the mockers on them straight away lol! Whatever they are I wish you well with them and would love to hear what you are up to.

Jenny xx

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Tunic obsession

Do you find that you seem to obsess over certain items in your wardrobe. Over the past few months all I seem to have been doing is searching on line for Breton tops! I now have quite a few in different colours. What I don't understand is that as a sewer why I'm not making my own!!
They must be one of the simplest items to run up and yet so far I've not made a single one.
Admittedly in the past there were very few places to buy a really nice weight cotton jersey, but today that's not so much the case. Okay some of the nicer knits are not cheap, but at least making your own means they actually fit you!
Well that little obsession has taken a back seat at the moment 'cos I've now progressed to tunics.
Last year in the sale I bought two from one of my favourite retailers. One in a gorgeous gold with cream spots and another in teal. Whenever I've wanted to look good and feel really comfortable, it's been these that I've returned to again and again.Worn with crops on cooler summer days and they go just as well with skinny jeans or leggings for Autumn.
And there's nothing worse than finding that your wardrobe staple is suddenly past it's best, so knowing that I will be very sad when this happens and unable to find exactly what I wanted in a commercial pattern I decided to hack a pattern myself. Never tried it before, but what did I have to lose.
I thought it wise though to try a muslin first, before I started on any of my treasured fabrics, and so what do you test out a pattern you've made for a knit top out of.....A woven cotton of course...'Not!!!

So how lucky am I? I must have been a bit generous with my seam allowances without realising it, as apart from slightly snug sleeves the top worked brilliantly ( thank you dear friend Joan for the fabric! She gave it to me to remake some cushion covers but I think its much better as clothing!).
And once I realised that the pattern really worked,............ well...

Next up came a shorter sleeved more dressy version in a beautiful fabric I bought at the Knitting and Stitching show at the NEC way back in March and my latest...

One actually made from jersey this time. Birch organics maritime sanderling to be precise which I bought on line from Billow Fabrics.
I love it and there are lots more similar designs out there to try...and I even managed to pattern match the pockets, something I'm usually not too good at!

Well I'm still going to be sewing over the next few days but not for me this time. I have another costume to make, a pumpkin for youngest grandson. Hope it turns out as easy and effective as his brothers Tudor one and then I shall breathe a sigh of relief!

Always helps when you have a willing model, Bless him.

Hope you too have a productive week whatever your passion
Jenny xx

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Marvellous Margate

Gosh it seems ages ago that we trundled off for our annual holiday with our lovely in laws. (sister and brother in law), but it's really only five months ago. I think we've crammed so much in this year though that it feels like much longer!

I've called it Marvellous Margate, as we did have a lovely break and to be really truthful, Margate is certainly putting up a fight and in certain parts the regeneration is creating a vibrant vintage and cafe culture which is definitely worth a visit, but like most towns, seaside or not the High Street has and is still suffering from closed shops and not enough investment to bring back the shoppers to make it a thriving community.
Having said that we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the area and especially the wonderful walk from our base at Westgate on Sea to Margate along the seafront. About a mile and a half, past gorgeous rows of beach huts, the lovely beach stretches way out at low tide, leaving rock pools for investigating and at high tide the sea laps right up by the sea wall. Its colours changing from murky brown to vivid green and the brightest blue when the sun shone.

We were so lucky to have a week of dry weather with quite a bit of sunshine, though the wind was often bitterly cold. Not bad for April though!

We managed to slot in a couple of National Trust visits while we were there. Sissinghurst of course and similar but on a much smaller scale, Batemans. We were a bit early in the season to see either at their best but both were still stunning and well worth the visit. We chose well and I think we had our warmest days there.

We also managed to visit Canterbury. Stunning! The architecture and the atmosphere. We dined Al Fresco under a canopy by the riverside watching the punts ferry visitors back and forth. It was very relaxing, and we had a lovely meal too.

There were other places that we visited too, some less exciting than others, but we loved Whitstable and Sandwich.

All in all it was a lovely break, with walks, car boots and vintage shopping too., What more could we want!

Since then we have had six weeks of school holidays, most of which was spent out in the garden in glorious sunshine, a fabulous week in North Wales with our daughter, son in law and grandsons, another great visit to the Twinwood Festival and have just returned from a weekend in the Derbyshire Dales where we enjoyed a beautiful walk through Dovedale in glorious sunshine.

So hopefully I'll be sharing some more of our exploits and some sewing news with you over the next few weeks.

Have a good week, whatever you're up to
Jenny xx

Monday, 21 March 2016

Out and about


Its been a busy week here at Winnibriggs House, first getting ready for Olive & Edna's stall at the FOSA Indulgence evening, last Thursday and then a trip to the Sewing for Pleasure show at the NEC on Sunday.

Heidi & I really enjoyed our evening running our little stall, meeting lots of new vendors and chatting to some lovely customers. We took mainly Jewellery this time and we were very pleased with the reaction. Its always lovely to hear that customers like what you are making and we had some good sales. So I have been busy making a few new things to add to our on-line shop

I really look forward to my annual visit to the Sewing for Pleasure show at the NEC. I keep a list of items I have run out of through the year, 'cos although I do purchase quite a few of my supplies on line, Its not always easy to check if what you are ordering is the right size, thickness or colour. So to get the opportunity to find many of these being sold in the same place and being able to see and handle them is always good.
Of course there are always demonstrations and talks too so this is an added bonus.

This year we sat in on a talk about free machine embroidery by Wendy Dolan. It's not a skill I have tried so far, but have always been fascinated by it and Wendy's work is stunning. Her talk was really interesting and she had lots of samples of the different stages of a work in progress so that you felt you would really be able to attempt something yourself. Not in her league of course, but she made it sound attainable, and really wanted you to have a go yourself.
She has produced  a new book, Layer Paint and Stitch which is a great resource and has some workable examples. I think I will be adding this to my book wish list!

My own embroidery however has been courtesy of my Embroidery machine, producing a few of my butterfly hairbands, to also add to our Olive & Edna shop. They make super little presents and as they can be adjusted to fit from babies to adults are very practical. I have been playing with a whole new set of colours.

Well that's me for now, we are off to the Festival of Antiques at Peterborough at the weekend, so am keeping my fingers crossed for dry weather. In the past few years we have been to the October event several times and have experience amazing weather, even a heat wave but have only made it once before in March due to bad weather including a snow storm!. So wish us luck, and if you are thinking of going it is well worth it.

Have a good week
Jenny xx