Thursday, 8 October 2015

Down at the bottom of the garden...

I've been taking advantage of the mild dry weather to work on the shed. Like a woman posessed.

Are any of you familiar with the childrens book, ''If you give a mouse a cookie,'' by Laura Joffe Numeroff?

It goes, ''If you give a mouse a cookie, he's going to ask for a glass of milk. When you give him the milk, he'll probably ask you for a straw. When he's finished, he'll ask you for a napkin. Then he'll want to look in a mirror to make sure he doesn't have a milk mustache. When he looks in the mirror, he might notice his hair needs a trim.'' etc

Well, that was the story of my shed. My shed WAS that mouse. 

The parts where the rain were coming in were growing in number so I decided to re roof it. I did my internet research and trotted off to Wickes for all my supplies. 

I had one day to get it watertight before rain was due. Nothing focuses the mind like a deadline. 
I had to strip off the old felt before I began and the minute I got up the ladder to begin, I could see why it was leaking. What little roofing felt that was up there was very patchy.  
Inspect your shed roofs occasionally people! 

The roof guy in the film I watched...

... mentions nothing of the woodlice, spiders and spiders nests you will find when stripping a roof! Eew.

My biggest fear was finding the roof boards completely rotten and having to replace them. Fixing an entire new roof on is probably beyond my capability. Luckily it was sound apart from one spongey corner. The best tool I found for the job was an upholstery tool called a tack lifter...

 It totally sped the process up.
So here I am, well stuck in. My roof is a single slope. I did 2 layers, going in opposite directions. The first from one side to another, the second from the bottom up. Like tiles so the water will run off.

You seal the edges with the bitumin adhesive and use clout nails to hold it down. It's like wallpapering except you need to overlap the edges. As I was doing it solo I opted for the heavy weight roofing felt so I'd be able to weild the sheets onto the roof without them ripping. 

The bloke in the roofing video also forgot to mention the need for gloves and long sleeves. I got bitumin under my lovely new nails and had to soak them in white spirit to get it out. Also I skinned my knuckles until they bled and got a rash up the underside of my arms.

Once my two layers were on, I had to cut and fix down the edges. 

A typically wonky picture. I was seriously flagging at this point having been at it for 9 hours. 

The rain came the next day and there wasn't a drop of water in the strategically placed buckets inside. Result! 

Next I had to put back the fascia and bargeboards. Seeing as one snapped in the stripping process and they were a bit yucky I decided to get new ones. Finding the timber was a nightmare. In the end I used feather edge boards from a timber merchant to get the length I needed. 

So I thought, instead of just putting back straight ones, why not make them pretty? 

I made lots of measurements and divisions and drew round a glass to get a scalloped edge. I should have used a pencil and not lazily grabbed my daughters gel ink pen. The gel ink bled through my paint and I had to use a stain stopping primer over it. Lesson learned.

The cutting proved to be not so easy. I could manage one side of each scallop,

 but not the other so I flipped it over and re drew the line on the back of the board...

and Bob's your uncle...

Wehey! Obviously, it needed painting now. But I couldn't paint it until I'd fixed the missing putty in the windows! See how it's becoming a massive job? 

So back to youtube I went, watching hours of puttying videos until I felt I was a fully trained master glazier. 
And boy, was I wrong about that! In the end I gave up on the putty knife and opted for a chisel, perhaps because the rebate was so tiny as these are shed windows, not house windows.

So where am I now? 

I painted the trim and window frames (apart from the new putty which has to cure) a white colour and the rest of the shed Willow Green for a change from Country Cream. I like the contrast with the trim. It's never going to be a beautiful shed but it's a bit prettier now. And having watertight garden storage is novel.

I spent a day emptying and hoovering the inside and reorganising the space. 
All because it needed a new roof. 
So, beware of what you start!
Now those red gingham curtains are not working with the green... {sigh.}

Back soon with a post on The Handmade Fair. 

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Recycled Tapestry Bags Galore... and a tutorial. Of sorts.

Alrighty. I have completed not just one tapestry bags but TWO!

And here, for your viewing pleasure, is a glimpse of the journey I undertook. This might not be 'the' way to make a bag, but it's my way.

1. Play about with your tapestries until you have a layout that pleases the eye. This may take several days.

Ignore any funny looks you may get from your family during this procedure.

I personally like having the plain background pieces next to the busy background pieces.

2. Press them flat under a damp tea towel, fuse some fusible interfacing on the back (I think this might add strength to the flimsier bits and also hold it together better when you start cutting.)

3. It's unlikely that your pieces will be square. Square them up with a try square from your toolbox.

4. Do not use marker pen to do this as you'll get marker pen on the ironing board. Oops.

5. Zig zag those raw edges. Twice. Because you don't want the whole thing to unravel.

6. For the next piece, repeat the steps above and make it the same height as the first then pin them, right sides together...

This is really just a gratuitous shot of my fingernails as I've been growing them and for the first time in 27 years I have hands like a laydee!

7. That makes it sound like I'm 27 years old. I'm slightly older than that. Stitch together with a generous 2cm seam allowance and press seam open...

Yes it does look wonky.

Better from the front thankfully.

8. Carry on with your next row pressing the seams open. If you offset the joins it will stop the back getting bulky and will run through your machine better when you join your rows.

9. Join your rows. Press seams open.

10. Check for squareness again. Mine needed re squaring for some reason. If you chop bits off, zig zag your edges again. You can add a strip of the bag backing on to the top if you need to, to give you a decent fold over so you're not losing too much of the design.

11. Ignore the voices in your head, nagging you about the ironing pile that needs doing. Don't stop. If you stop you'll NEVER pick it up again. This is a scientifically proven fact. Stop taking photos of your work to save time. Who needs to see a photo of a seam pressed open anyway?

12. Cut a back piece the same size as the front. Zig zag edges, place right sides together and stitch 3 sides together leaving the top open. Clip corners and zig zag over them. You can also add a gusset at this point if you have nothing better to do or like a roomy bag.

13. Turn inside out and fold in top hem. Stitch this down.

14. Add your handles.


And the other one? I took off the handle to use on the bag above and found a leather belt in a charity shop to use as a handle. My local independent and quite attractive cobbler riveted it on for me and I left the ends of the belt on for added quirkiness. That jangly buckle is going to drive me insane though...

Do come back in a year or so when I'll be finally attempting to LINE the bags. I have now earned a much needed break from sewing and I have to tackle the ironing.

I shall be taking my bag to Kirsties Handmade Fair this weekend where I will no doubt be mobbed by women wanting to stroke it. It's very tactile.
Kirstie will want to commission one and I will tell her I did all the tapestries myself and charge her hundreds of pounds. In spite of this we'll become best friends. We'll go to Magaluf together where we'll get up to all kinds of mischief.

So I'll let you know how I get on with that. 

Linking with...

 Savvy Southern Style

Friday, 11 September 2015

Obsessive? Moi?

I seem to have a new collection. It's a great thing to acquire. It's storable and cheap. Dirt cheap. My tapestry love might have turned into an obsession.


I've still not finished my first bag. But what I like to do when I'm part way through a project is down tools and start another one.

Some of these I already had. The bird above came from a stool I wrote about on here.

Some of these I actually stitched when I was going through my cupid phase MANY years ago.
Oh come on! We all went through a cupid phase didn't we?

Birds and roses...

Cottages and gardens...

Ships and castles...

 Even York Minster. And why not?

  It's like all of English history is here!

The most I've paid for these is £2. I've removed them from dusty old frames and they're ready to be transformed into bags. I like to place them together to see what goes with what as I design my next bag. My husband gives me strange looks.

Look what happens the minute my back is turned...

Bad Bobby has no respect for precious textiles.

When I wrote the post before last, I couldn't recall what it was that set me off on an exhilarating google journey into recycled tapestry.
I have now remembered.
I saw this cushion cover in a charity shop, liked it but didn't need a cushion cover and thought it would make a nice bag.

A seed was sown. (Or should that be sewn? )

Here is my very much still unfinished bag. In case the suspense has been killing you...

It will ultimately have two handles...

The handles are leather and pre drilled for ease of sewing them on. I got them HERE.

They were £13.95 with free postage which isn't bad at all for leather. You could alternatively use an old leather belt and have your local cobbler rivet it on for you. I think I'll do that next time.

The cows are worked in petit point which is laborious to do. (Not by me.)

I thought that stitching the handles on with a contrasting embroidery thread and doing a running stitch round the edges in  the same thread would funk it up a little.

I think that was a fail.

But, here's the thing. Next weekend I'm going HERE....

So I'm going to need to finish my bag, (or another one) to take with me!
I've got a week.
I'm highly productive under pressure.
So watch this space.

If you're going to Kirsties Handmade Fair next weekend and spot me, come and say hello. I'll be the lady with the recycled tapestry bag.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

A possibly doomed French love affair...

My name is Emma Kate and I'm a furnitureholic. The other week I decided,

 No. More. Furniture.

I thought it might be nice to be able to walk around the kitchen, pass through doorways without having to turn sideways and use our dining room for actual dining. Our lives would run smoothly in our new uncluttered surroundings. We could invite people in to our home without any of the embarrassment that a wardrobe in the kitchen can bring.
Yes. This was to be our future.

The problem was, the very next day I went to the flea market. As I do every week. Just to look, you understand.

And I saw this. This stunning French-esqe wardrobe. I've never ever seen one like this in the flesh before.

(Just imagine the top and bottom are the same width. I'm no photoshop genius.)

Okay, someone had had a bash at painting it, really, really badly. It had a few lumps taken out of it. But nothing that couldn't be sorted. I couldn't believe it hadn't sold already.

I asked the price. ''Forty quid.'' What!??? That's insanely cheap I thought.

So I frowned and said, ''Would you do it for £35?''
It was probably immoral of me. He agreed. ''I suppose you want me to drop it off for you?''

''Oh yes please.''
THIRTY FIVE QUID! How could I leave it there?

So I wandered round the flea market, had a little mooch about but kept returning to stroke my wardrobe. Why did no one else buy it? Did the crappy paint job put people off? I was flummoxed. It was only painted on two sides as it had obviously been up against a wall and the owner wasn't able to move it.

I felt slightly sick as I wondered how to break the news to my husband. I phoned him up when I got to work.

''I accidentally bought something.''

''Oh God. It's not another bloody wardrobe is it?''

He knows me so well. I quickly pointed out that this was a wardrobe unlike any other. If I fixed it up and sold it, I would make a healthy profit. I reminded him that he's always banging on about me not making money. This wardrobe, no, not even a wardrobe, an ARMOIRE, was in fact key to our future happiness.

The wardrobe turned up just as I got in from work and was stashed in the dining room. No problem.
I went off to York for a week and the husband seemed happy. When I got back I started feeling overwhelmed at the amount of things I have to do and wanted to start on the wardrobe. To do this it had to go in the kitchen.
I can't strip things on the nice oak floor of the dining room.

Well, Jason was really angry. He bitched and bitched and shouted at me. Of course I couldn't listen to him or even PRETEND to be sorry as the thing was THIRTY FIVE QUID and it was a done deal. There's no point crying over spilt milk is there?

Look at the mirror!

Foxed to perfection.

The beautifully carved panels!

The wooden mouldings! Yes they are actual wood.

The handles...

It's a beast of a thing and it's not easy to walk around it. But it was THIRTY FIVE QUID!

It's taken me three whole days to strip the main body of it and the cornice. I haven't started on the base.

Here's an interesting thing. I thought it was French but inside I found a little brass label saying ''S & H Jewell'' and it was made in Holborn in London. So it's not French at all. Come to think of it, if it were French, the base would have little legs, no drawer and the top would be more elaborate. This is a Franglais armoire with the typically English large drawer in the base and a squared off cornice. The best of both worlds I think.
Anyway, these guys were in business from 1830 to 1840 so this is OLD! If it were in fab condition it would be valuable.
But if it were in fab condition I wouldn't have got it for £35 at the flea market.

Ze tyically French modele...

So, I was merrily stripping away and I started to think. I'll never find another. I'll certainly never find another for £35.  So perhaps I should keep it. Trouble is, it doesn't really fit anywhere.

Perhaps it would go in the dining room instead of the dresser? I could shelve the inside and have TONS of storage. But would it look daft or too grand? And would I have to swap out ALL the furniture in the room to make it work?

So on to the upstairs. Too wide for the hallway.
My bedroom? It's incredibly deep. I'd have to squeeze in between the bed and the armoire to reach the window. But do I need a double bed? Do I need a bed? I could just lay an old blanket on the floor in a corner and gaze at my armoire as I drift off to sleep. Like some aristocrat who has become hooked on crystal meth and lives in grand squalor. It's a romantic notion. I'm sure you can see the allure.

How about it lives in the shed in case we ever build an extension? I could hang a chandelier in there and win 'Shed of the Year.'

Or I incorporate it into the dressing room/built-ins I'm yet to build? Build around it. The husband is appalled. He doesn't want a mish-mash of styles. Such a spoilsport.

So what do I do dear reader? Ditch the husband and run off into the sunset with my armoire? Buy a bigger house? 

Gah. I just don't know.

But what became of the passionate love I was feeling last time I blogged? Turning tapestry into bags? Well, I'm pleased to tell you that I'm not all mouth and no action! I started planning a bag and took all my bits up to York with me. There's a great sewing machine at my dads and I figured that if I sewed in the evenings it  would save me from watching Ice Road Truckers or shows about Building Oil Rigs.

Best plan ever.

Here's a sneaky peak at my bag so far...

I still have to finish and line it before I show it to you properly. I'll save that for another time.
Er, along with the sofa.

Finally, the eagle eyed among you might have spotted that I've been nominated for the Amara Interior Blog Awards. Thank you to those who nominated me. I'm truly flattered.

This year however, I won't be begging for your votes. I've realised these things are designed to bring bloggers to the attention of sponsors and that is an avenue I've decided not to go down. I'm bored of American blogs taking forever to load because they're so clogged up with ads. I'm fed up of commercials blaring out at me whilst I try and read. And I've seen many a good blog go down the pan with sponsored posts. If I wanted to hear about steam cleaners and homewares I'd watch the shopping channel. It's tedious.

Also I'm all about second hand shopping, saving the environment and upcycling. Why would I want to share with you the new range of sofas from a high street store? It's not me. I have no hidden agenda. I'm not prepared to sell out for a £20 sponsored post payment.

No. I'm here to bleat on about things I like. Cheap things. Old things. Painting things. Making things. Improving things.

You seem to ''get it'' more than my friends and family and for that I'm very grateful. I love sharing with you. Thank you for reading. x

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Recycled tapestry love...

So, um, I was totally tidying the living room to show you the new sofa but I accidentally started with the inside of my filing cabinet. A whole day and two sackfuls of shredded paper later, the living room isn't any tidier. In fact it may be worse. But at least there is some semblance of order in a small part of it. When I get around to taking pictures of the living room you can rest assured that it'll be lovely inside and out.

I have developed a new love which I'd like to share with you today instead of my sofa. Well, strictly speaking it's an old love but it's used in a new way here.

Tapestry. I love the texture, the warmth and the meaning it holds for me. My mother was a keen stitcher and I used to spend a lot of time at it too. We made pictures to frame and cushions galore. But those tapestry pictures have fallen out of favour and I just can't cope with too many cushions. I even have a pile of completed tapestries that I never made into anything. So what to do with them all? Hmmm...

Here are my beloved vintage tapestry handbags.

They're very pretty but won't hold much more than a lippy and some keys. I'm a big bag kinda gal.

As luck would have it I stumbled across these amazing bags on the web, all made from upcycled tapestry!

Cool or what? Anyone could do this...

The bag above makes me think of Fiona.

I love that it's something grannyish used in a new and practical way. No point having a pile of tapestries in the loft right?

Oh my word, someone's been busy!

But what if you don't have a stack of them in your loft?
I picked up two large framed tapestries for £2 each at the boot sale on Sunday. Er, just to add to the pile in case I run out. I'm sooo making one of these bags. There are some great bag sewing patterns to be found on ebay...

But why stop there?
Have you ever seen a tapestry lampshade?

How sweet are they?

If you have a little more time on your hands, how about covering your sofa?

Embellishing a coat?

There are some very creative people out there. I love these ideas.

An entire coat made from vintage tapestries?

Stunning. I'd be smiling too.


What about this inside out deconstructed tapestry skirt?

Certainly different! I hope you've enjoyed this post and you've found something that inspires you. I know I'm not the only vintage textile junkie. I will no longer be passing up those old tapestry pictures and firescreens that no one wants at the boot sales any longer.

If only I could find my bag sewing pattern. It's somewhere in the living room. Better crack on with the tidying...

Most of the sources for these pictures can be found HERE