Monday, 25 July 2011

I'm with Gertie - Taking the Bombshell Dress Class

Although I've been pretty busy, I have been planning and getting rather excited about some sewing projects.  Specifically, I've signed up for Gertie's Bombshell Dress Class on Craftsy.

I've got the fabric and I've been watching the videos in spare moments so I'm prepared to get going.  I'm really enjoying the videos, which are very clear and helpful - I'm learning a lot about different ways of doing things (thread tracing looks like a brilliant idea for very fitted garments) and I love that I can ask questions and see what others have suggested or asked already.  What an exciting learning possiblity to add to all the different ways of learning!  I'm raring to go!

What about you, have you done any sewing courses/classes?  Have you taken any online courses?

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Cherished Collections Blog Tour - Vintage Jewellery

This shell box was my Nan's.  I remember when I was little, I would go to her house with my Mum and often one or two of my Aunts would be there.  They'd sit in the kitchen drinking tea and talking grown-up talk, which, of course, I found terribly dull.  So I'd go to Nan's room and play dress-up, which generally involved me putting on her jewellery and some heels.  And by putting on her jewellery, I mean all of it.  At once.  Then I'd appear in the kitchen in all my regalia and Nanny would say "Ooh, here comes Lady Godiva!" or "Look at Fanny Adams here!"  (She often called people Fanny Adams, though I only recently found out where that came from.  Slightly macabre when you find out the origin!)  This box was always on her dresser along with other trinket boxes and pots and perfume sprays and powder puffs and all those other obligatory old lady things.  In it, I keep a few pieces of my most special jewellery, those things with the greatest sentimental value.

By no means do I have a massive collection of vintage costume jewellery, but because of those childhood memories and because I'm lucky enough to be left with a few items that were my Nan's, the pieces I do have include some that are very special to me.  I'd like to share them with you as part of Casey's Cherished Collections 2011 Blog Tour.  If you don't know anything about this fun venture: dozens of bloggers have been photographing and posting about their own collections, whatever they may be (and there are some amazing ones out there) and Casey has organised us into daily roundups.  Check them out and be prepared to drool and squee!

Here is my little offering (not all of which fit in that box, of course - it's sadly not of Tardis proportions!) ...

I originally took lots of individual photos of the pieces, then took a couple of shots of them all jumbled together, but I decided the 'group shot' looked much better - it's like a jewellery party!

Some of these pieces used to be my Mum's and some were my Nan's (her Mum), others I got on Ebay or at charity shops (for a couple of quid here and there).

To the right you can see two small fake pearl necklaces - I love the clasps they used to put on jewellery, they're so pretty:

These were my Nan's and are probably from the 40s or 50s. 

We always thought Nan's pearls were all fake, since our family is working class and was never exactly well-off (I remember whenever I moaned about not having this or that, my Mum would always tell me about how she and her brothers and sisters had to share a bed when she was a child, so I was bloody lucky.  Fair point, Mum!).  However, for my BA graduation, my Mum re-strung a particularly pretty set of pearls that used to be Nan's and discovered that they were, in fact, real!  I should imagine they're cultured, but I don't care, they're lovely and I can remember these from my forays into Nan's jewellery boxes:

It was wonderful being able to wear these for my graduation, like Nan was there in some way.

They can be worn with the clasp at the back ...

... or at the front ...

(I look so pissed off, don't I?!  Hahah!  I don't mean to, I had just finished work and I was trying to get the photos while I still had some daylight and I was concentrating on getting the camera at the right angle into the mirror!)

My Mum's Dad used to buy her marcasite jewellery and I have a couple of pieces of that, my favourite of which is the matching snake brooch and necklace you can see in the jewellery party picture.  My favourite bits are their green eyes:

My Nan and I shared the same initial, so another favourite for me is one of her brooches:

And it's got a bow - what's not to love?  Despite missing a couple of rhinestones, this one looks great on a jacket lapel.  The diamante necklace was also Nan's, though I worry about losing it, so I picked up another one at a charity shop that I can wear more often, though it's a bit more glitzy (it's at the bottom centre of the jewellery party pic).

Well, I think I've taken you through the key pieces - I don't want to bore you by going through each item, but I hope that's given you a taster of my little collection and I hope you enjoyed this one and the others on the tour. Do you have a collection, yourself?  (Or maybe even a few!)  I'd love to hear about your collections or jewellery-related memories - I think it's the stories that make objects special, not the carat of the diamond or the maker's mark.

Happy collecting!

Friday, 15 July 2011

Ikea Owns My Soul, or setting up a sewing room

I love storage.  I love organising.  I was actually really happy that at work yesterday I got to arrange rings in a set of tiny drawers according to their size.  Sad, but true!

So, I'm taking a very short coffee break from making a desk and drawers and storage boxes and re-sorting through the store-room-come-office-slash-sewing-room to get it perfectly set up and organised.

I had an Ikea trip on Wednesday night, so I'm armed with all the organisational bits and pieces I need for there to be a place for everything and everything in its place*.  BLISS!

* I might have to make a cute little sampler of that phrase, actually ...

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

First Forays Into Knitting

I was never very interested in knitting ... until I saw these gorgeous vintage patterns that Liz has posted over at Zilredloh.  Even better, that lovely Liz has shared these knitting patterns with us lucky stitchers for free!  In particular, the 'Aqua Waves' and 'Diamond' jumpers caught my eye, but I also love the two striped jumpers further down the page.

When I saw them, I knew I had to take up knitting so I could become good enough to make these pretties.  It makes sense really, I do love a nice piece of knitwear (one of my nicknames is 'Cardi Clare' because I'm rarely seen without a cardigan - sad but true!) and I said a while back over at JoaT that I needed some stitching to do while sat relaxing on the sofa, away from the sewing machine, so knitting is just that!

After reading some book reviews, I got my hands on Purls of Wisdom by Jenny Lord (over on the right), which I'm loving and I've gone back to a scarf I started waaaaaaay back at the beginning of last year (sorry scarf!):

And it's now nearly finished!  Those pink arrows mark where I was up to before I picked it up again two weeks ago.  See how wobbly it is!  Ooops.  But, unlike my previous attempts at knitting, I've not made any mistakes in the knitting or dropped any stitches, and I think I've kept the tension quite even since I picked it back up.

I don't remember what yarn this is, but it was in a set I got in the January sales last year to make a 'lacy scarf', so the instructions, yarn and 8mm needles were included.  So I'm planning to finish this off and then start on a chunky patterned snood (or cowl) from Ravelry in this fabulous aran:

Those colours!!!! 

Monday, 11 July 2011

Pretty Things 2 - Kittens!

Hello lovely readers!  Well, my trip to my mum's ended up being a bit longer than I expected!  I had a lovely week, first visiting her, then she came back to Nottingham with me for a couple of days.  I was planning to do a blog post or two while I was with her, but I actually enjoyed having a bit of time away from the computer.

Plus, I was a bit distracted by KITTENS!

Mum lives with my sister and nephew and they recently got two kittens.  They are too cute!  I had planned to try to steal them, but Mum was watching me too carefully (damn!).

Here they are:

The black one is Gizmo and the black and white is Rizzo - they're both boys, but were named when they first thought Rizzo was a girl.  Oops!  Anyway, that's them asleep, but the camera woke them up:

But then I must have been too boring, because they yawned and went back to sleep:

Yes, the great thing about kittens is that they can make anything into a toy.  Really.  There are bits of my mum's potpourri all around they house where they've been batting it between the two of them.  And if you put anything in Mum's seagrass waste paper basket, well, that clearly must be a toy for them, why else would you put it there?!  That boor bin gets knocked over, climbed over, jumped in and bits of paper get pulled out and torn up.  That white thing under the chair is a piece of kitchen roll that the kittens got out of the bin and attacked!

As well as playing with kittens, I did some knitting (more on that another day!), mooched around some shops with Mum and watched some films with the family.  All in all, it's been a very relaxing week - aaah  :)

Monday, 4 July 2011

Pretty Things 1

Good morning all!  I've been working on a couple of bits to share with you, but last week was a bit hectic, so none of them are quite ready.  I'm also visiting my Mum this week (and I'm going to try to steal her kittens ... or at least take some photos of them to share with you!), so I might not be able to get them finished until the weekend.

I am working on the aprons, so I hope to have those ready around the end of next week - they're looking rather pretty, if I do say so myself!

But in the meantime, I've got some pretty things to show you ...

I recently started working part-time in a jewellery shop.  Which is a dangerous occupation when you love jewellery as much as I do!  I've been really loving Lola Rose lately and treated myself to a couple of bargains in the sale (half price - yay!).  Anyway, I just wanted to share some of my favourite bits with you (I'm not trying to be a salesperson, just a jewellery fan - Lola Rose doesn't pay me, and I'm deliberately not mentioning the name of the shop where I work!).

If you've not heard of Lola Rose, they make really fun, fresh jewellery that's carved from semi-precious stone - it's not moulded from plastic or resin, this stuff is real jade, agate, quartzite, etc.  And because it's stone, it's actually cold when you first put it on, which is strange, but a very Good Thing in this hot weather we're having at the moment.

Isn't this ring a pretty colour?

I'm also loving coral colours at the moment, as I've just discovered they suit me quite well (who'd've thought I'd be wearing what is effectively orange lipstick?!  Not me!) and it's a great spring/summer shade.  It's no surprise, then, that I'm a fan of the coral quartzite in the range at the moment:

I got a necklace that goes with that flower bracelet and this ring:

Which is great because it's elasticated, so it fits a wide range of people - huzzah! - and I can wear it on most of my fingers - double huzzah!!

Even cuter, apparently Lola Rose refer to their pretty velvet packaging as 'sleeping bags':

How fun!  And practical: these semi-precious pieces need looking after as they can chip or even shatter if dropped onto a hard surface, so their 'sleeping bags' keep them safe and look pretty in my jewellery box!

I hope you've all had a great weekend (it's been sunny in the UK - wewt!) - I'll be bringing you more pretty things in the future, little visual treats of all kinds  :)