Monday, 30 September 2013

Bambury Cross Cardigan

My latest sewing adventure was this charming cardigan.  Its a new pattern available through etsy and I was fortunate enough to win a copy!

I fell in love with this pattern not only because its cute but because its thrifty too.  Its made using an adults jumper.  My selected jumper (well cardigan actually) was a hideous charity shop find by posh label Racing Green.  It was in great condition and a luxurious blend of silk and cashmere.  I knew it had potential and I snapped it up for £5.95. 

well here it is ta dah!  One baby cashmere cardigan for the princely sum of £5.95.

 If you would like to know more about this piece and drool a little further I've been a bit sneaky and written it up more fully over on my new blog dedicated exclusively to sewing!

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Vintage nursery

I shared with you my exciting utility find for the nursery.  Well now it's time for the before and after.  Here it is after sanding priming and painting.  I'm not normally a fan of gloss paint (or bright colours) but for this piece it was right.

This is the wallpaper we've chosen for the nursery.  A beautiful vintage sail boat design by Cath Kidston in lovely bright colours that I think will really stimulate a small child.

image source
The theme is very vintage as you can probably tell.  I've been collecting vintage inspired toys and bits and pieces to decorate the room.  I saw some charming wooden blocks in a lovely vintage shop when we were on holiday.  They were beautifully aged and played with.   

antique wooden blocks via etsy
 I thought it would be lovely to write out our wee boys name in blocks but as they were priced per block this would have been expensive.  Undeterred (as always) I found some very similar wooden blocks in my local poundland of all places.  In order to achieve that lovely distressed vintage look I was after I put the blocks in a net and let my children kick them around the patio for an afternoon.  Then I set them about rubbing the paint off them on the paving, they were most bemused by this but had a lot of fun doing so.

The sweet little trunk (our little man's brief case as we jokingly refer to it) that you can see on top of the drawers was kindly given to us by a friend who heard about my furniture find.  It sets it off perfectly I think.
So the nursery is starting to come together and other than the wallpaper (which we are using on just one wall but is my one extravagance) it's all very thrifty, naturally ;)  

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Storing Apples

I was hoping to post this marvellously thrifty idea last year however, due to the horrible weather in the UK last summer the apple harvest was so poor I didn't have any apples to store.  This year however there is a bumper crop.  The orchards around here, of which there are so many, are literally dripping with fruit and it makes my heart very happy to see.

I build up my apple store in September or October of each year and it keeps us in apples until Christmas, so it's really worth doing. 
To build your own apple store you will need some shallow crates or boxes (I use blue plastic crates that the stall holders at our local market use and give away for free), newspaper and apples suitable for storing.  "What apples are suitable for storing?" you ask.  Generally the crisper varieties work best, apples with softer or fluffier flesh don't, in my experience, store well.  Choose apples that are unblemished for your store, no worm holes or bruises.

Once you have picked your apples select those you want to store and wash them well, I had a little helper as you an see.

 Lay them out  in a single layer to dry.  Wait until they are well and truly dry (the slightest bit of moisture could ruin your whole store so DRY apples are the key).  You may need to turn them to get all the water out of their dimples.  Once your apples are really dry take your newspaper open it out flat and tear or cut it in half so you have single pages.  Wrap you apples individually and lay them in a SINGLE layer in your trays or boxes - that part is also very important for a successful apple store.

Here is how mine looks, for reference.  Keep filling trays until you think you have stored enough.  The reason why I like these blue trays so much is because the stack but still allow air flow.  They may not be pretty but they work well. Oh and did I mention they are free ;)

Store your apples in a cool dark(ish) place such as a shed or garage.  Check your store regularly and remove any soft or rotting apples, sometimes a bruised one slips through.  Don't panic as long as you take it out as soon as you notice it it shouldn't do too much damage  Another thing that can ruin your apple store is mice, beware!  

Happy autumn everyone!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Utility Furniture

Hello all, I know its been AGES.  I felt a bit lost with what direction I should take this blog in and I started working on a new project but then I fell pregnant, which was very exciting.  Then I got really ill and 7months later here we are.  I haven't had a spare ounce of energy for quite some time but today something happened that was so exciting and I just had to share.

As you've probably gathered from programs such as Kirsty Allsop's Fill your House for Free up-cycling furniture is very hip right now.  If I haven't mentioned it before I am a HUGE Kirsty fan, not because I find her ideas particularly new or revolutionary but because she has single handedly made EVERYTHING I love very cool.  Instead of being the strange woman who sews, makes jam, trawls skips for furniture, delights in all things old and making them new again and has an extensive doily collection I am suddenly on trend.  This is a first for me.  Don't worry I won't let it go to my head, I have no illusions that this will  last no longer than 15 mins and I will not only be uncool again but very out of fashion.

Anyway onto what excited me today.  We are in the process of redecorating the nursery and I have been looking for quite some time for a chest of drawers for all those teeny-tiny baby clothes and hats and booties etc.  I knew I wanted to paint the drawers a striking pillar box red so something second hand would be perfect.  I also knew I wanted a very vintage/retro feel for this room.  So I visited our local Emmaus furniture project (they are a great charity - check them out).  Amazingly even they had very few chests of drawers and nothing that fitted my needs but then I saw this....

It seemed to be the right era and in need of some TLC.  By this time my 3 year old was getting very... well like a 3 year old who'd spent the morning in a doctors waiting room and then who's mother had taken her to a giant furniture shop.  I rather rashly decided I'd make it work and I'd take it home with me (it didn't fit in the car with the car seats in so I agreed to go back later and get it).  When I got home I worried it was the wrong thing and I should have held out for a chest of drawers.  Anyway it arrived today and looking at it again the thought occurred to me that it might be utility furniture.

Utility furniture was produced in the UK during the second world war until 1952.  It was a Government scheme designed to address the big demand for new furniture as many people were bombed out of their homes and the number of couples getting married, needing to set up home during this period.  Such families were given ration coupons and could buy a limited number of items of furniture from the scheme.  Some items were not of great quality however this certainly wasn't always the case.

If you want to know if an item is utility look for this mark stamped onto the wood...

 As I pulled out the second drawer a scrap of paper caught my eye.  I love the little clues to a furniture's past you get with second hand furniture.  I once found a collection of vintage seaside postcards in an old wardrobe.  Anyway my hopes of this piece being utility wear skyrocketed when he scrap of paper turned out the be a page from a ration book, thrilling! And sure enough, it's stamped utility wear.

As if this wasn't exciting enough there is a lovely coincidence to this tale.  When my parents were expecting me and decorating my nursery, they were also looking for a useful set of drawers.  They struck upon a lovely piece with two cupboards at either end (my first wardrobe), 4 drawers and a tiled top.  You guessed it folks it was utility furniture and is now my kitchen sideboard!