Simple little things

Third trimester, and I’ve never been so tired in my life (and thanks, but please don’t leap in to enlighten me on how much worse it’s going to get once the baby’s born).  Fortunately, I do get short energetic bursts periodically, just enough for a step or two of a mini-project…

I picked up this top for £5.50 after a little indecision, as I usually don’t go over a fiver in a charity shop, but it is Monsoon, with some lovely silver embroidery on the placket.  I took in the seams at the sides and the back, leaving the front nice and full, and shortened the sleeves.  I actually took the extra out at the shoulder (cutting the sleeves off at the shoulder seam, shortening, and reattaching) to keep the finished gathered cuff:

Maternity top restyle

Taking some length off the sleeves is a small thing to change, but makes a big difference – that original length always looks a little awkward to my eye, sliding about and making the wrists look gangly.  Now: a much-needed addition to the maternity wardrobe!  Just not while it’s 27 degrees outside.

Next up, a restyle on a display box from a junk shop for £1.  I’ve had it for years, waiting for a purpose… which arose recently when I wanted a new way to store my stud earrings.

Display box

The fabric choice was entirely dictated by the weave – it was one of the few things in my stash that would easily allow the earring posts through it to bed in the foam squares underneath (and the foam came from the stash too, hoorah for free projects!)

Earring display box

None of my jewellery’s valuable, but it all has good memories attached – these earrings range from the smiley faces I bought from Camden market at 15, to the wire drops made bespoke for my wedding day, to the sparkly crowns Mr B bought to cheer me up on a glum day…  I’m enjoying being able to see them all in their new home.

And then a little paper project – a hand-stamped birthday card of seasonal strawberries:

birthday card pic

What’s your opinion on mini-projects?  Satisfying creative fillers or just distractions from the big stuff?

(By the way, thankyou lovely people who commented on my last post – the MRI results came back positive, so that’s one more worry off the list x)

Return to Sender

Earlier this year, two of my best friends went to India, and brought back some gorgeous fabric for my birthday in February.  (I’ve enthusiastically started at least two projects using this stash: no finished items so far…)  Having lugged it back across contintents in their suitcases, I wanted to make something this month that would be both a Christmas present and a little memento of their trip.

First up, a book tote for my friend in the middle of her masters degree in neuropsychology, using the red/gold woven fabric she gave me.  (I used this tutorial, which was very quick and straighforward to follow.)

The cream section actually comes from an old skirt:

…after my mother-in-law cleared out her wardrobes recently, she handed me a big sack of clothes to adapt to my heart’s content.  And though this is not a colour I’m usually drawn to, I jumped at all the beautiful floral embroidery:

And then for my business-woman-by-day/artist-by-night friend Nella, a babushka!  No obvious connection, except that I’m a little obsessed by babushkas right now, and wanted an excuse to make one.

She’s a traditional babushka with her big apron and sweeping fringe, but with an Indian fabric headscarf and henna-style embroidery.  And blue hair, cos she’s a tiny bit of a rebel. 

There’s a proper stitch-fest going on, with blanket-, stem-, chain-, running-, back-stitch and some french knots thrown in.  So fun just to make up as I went along!

Onwards and upwards – these cats aren’t going to crochet themselves.  Hope your last few days of Advent are settling down for some Christmas peace – I’m looking forward to a carol service this evening to kickstart the festive mood.

Spending, sewing, thinking, saving

During May, I set myself a challenge of curbing unnecessary spending.  So, apart from food, fuel, and toiletries, I allowed myself three ‘extra’ purchases –  I couldn’t go completely cold turkey.  And the big three turned out to be… an e-Book, a tin of Dylon dye, and a saucepan (for dyeing in).  Turns out I could go without most things for one month, but not craft materials.

Here I am perfecting the stylish use of Co-op-advert-as-apron:

Wanna see what went in that saucepan?

I’ve had this cotton knit dress hanging around for ages – I spotted it in a charity shop and fell for the intricate detailing at the neckline. I took it in at the princess seams, up at the hemline, lopped off the sleeves, and got a fairly good fit, but somehow it never got as far as my wardrobe.  Turns out all it needed was a colour change…

I’ve blogged in more detail about this dress, and the inspiration behind it, over here at the Sew Weekly

Anyhow, now that it’s June, in theory I can go back to my happy spending ways… talking of which (bear with me here) have you ever read Tender is the Night by F.Scott Fitzgerald?

 I know it’s a great work of literature and all, but I found it pretty long-winded.  I’m a fast reader, but I almost lost the will to finish it there in the middle.  But.  It does have one of the most awesome descriptions of a shopping trip, possibly ever:

“Nicole bought from a great list that ran two pages, and bought the things in the windows besides.  Everything she liked that she couldn’t possibly use herself, she bought as a present for a friend.  She bought colored beads, folding beach cushions, artificial flowers, honey, a guest bed, bags, scarfs, love birds, miniatures for a dolls house and three yards of some new cloth the color of prawns.  She bought a dozen bathing suits, a rubber alligator, a travelling chess set of gold and ivory, big linen hankerchiefs for Abe, two chamois leather jackets of kingfisher blue and burning bush from Hermes”.

If I were to go on a crazy Nicole-style spree right now, mine would go something like this:  the Sewaholic Renfrew pattern, a walking foot for my sewing machine, grosgrain ribbon in twenty different colours, a huge bunch of crocosmias, and yards and yards of yellow chiffon.  Ooh, and yellow spray paint, some merino wool in a bright bright blue, one of these beater whisks, the Wiksten Tova pattern, a box of Laduree macaroons, a beautiful bra or two, masses of silk jersey, and some handmade jewellery from Etsy.  And while I’m here, some heart-shaped teacups, Teapigs licorice & peppermint teabags, some thick Guipere lace, and a really snazzy camera.

But, fun as that would be, I’m learning something about this slower pace of spending.  I like being more intentional and really considering whether what I buy will be used and/or appreciated… not just played with for 5 minutes and then discarded or stored away.  Fitzgerald follows up the grand shopping list with another list of “some of the people who gave a tithe to Nicole” in factories, farms, plantations and shops, the “ingenuity and toil” behind “such processes of hers as wholesale buying”.  His final comment on the trip is “She illustrated very simple principles, containing in herself her own doom” – isn’t that intriguing and provoking?


So no mad splurging this month.  Instead of adding things to the shopping basket, I’m pinning them on Pinterest – maybe to buy in future, or just to enjoy and inspire.  I love moseying back through these pins for a personal visual feast!  If you’re interested, I’m at: …I’ve even got a board just for sewing patterns.

What would be on your dream shopping list right now?