Saturday, 30 January 2010

Bleaching fabrics and decorating

I have been having a little sort out of my fabric stash - seems I have some fabrics that I look at now and think, why did I buy that? Mostly because of the colour combinations. So I thought I would try bleaching some fabrics to see what happened.... Well if the best/worst came to it, I would have plain white fabric yardage - which is always useful to me. So I soaked some fabric samples in a strong bleach solution to see what would happen. I went back to check again a couple of hours later - One fabric was a pale blue chambray, which I did like the colour, but it was faded in parts - while in the bleach solution it had bleached pure white - result:-) The other three fabrics? Hmmm, no change. Left the samples for a few more hours and just a slight change to two of them. Left them soaking overnight and wondered if the fabrics would simply disintegrate, but no, it appears not. One fabric refused to bleach at all, how weird. This one lost some of it's colour, all the black background has turned into a peach colour with sand and black:It now looks like a line drawing but, I'm not sure I like it any better, so won't bother to bleach any more of it.
This one I do like very much - Original on the left and bleached version on the right: Interesting how the spotty coral coloured background has changed from positive to negative, yet the three shades of turquoise haven't changed colour at all. I like the white in the fabric as it now seems a 'fresher' design. One of the shades of turquoise is exactly the same shade as I am about to paint our downstairs loo* - so I will bleach some more of the fabric and use it for something to go up at the window...... Doesn't need to be proper curtains, just something to 'finish' the room off.

*Was going to be Farrow and Ball 'Blue Ground', but when I tried out the tester pot, Himself and I both thought it was much too bright for us to live with. So we went back to Homebase and got a Dulux Colour Mixing tin of paint in a much paler version.

Chic cookie monster.........

Someone I know seems to be very fond of choc chip cookies................. Extremely fond of them......Especially when they are fresh out of the oven - even though we have all stuffed ourselves with moules marinières. Someone still had plenty of room in her pudding tummy....
Had I realised, I would have made more.................Then having eaten hers, she would not have had to eye up her Dad's cookie quite so intentlyAnd she wouldn't have nibbled mine (though I did say she could have a bite)
Meanwhile the Whizz Kid was was working on my computer, building my new website. He left his cookie unattended........ But it remained unmolested - Chic Girl showed great restraint.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Hand dyed heaven

I was lucky enough to be given a fabulous set of of hand dyed fat quarters quite a while ago and I've been hording them ever since, almost scared of cutting into them - what if I spoil the fabrics? Ah, what the heck, I decided, if I don't use them, I'll never know - so I put some together to see how they looked...... Mmmmm, quite nice. Then it was back to EQ6 to design some blocks that wouldn't use more than a fat quarter. I wanted something fairly simple that I could do lots of machine quilting on. Practice, practice, practice and all that!
I starched the fabrics and then decided that with the turquoise included it looked a bit 'South Western' (USA), hmm, not the look I wanted at all. So put that colour aside, figuring I could always come back to it if I felt the quilt needed it. I cut and sewed the blocks together and then had another look - crikey, it was getting huge.I then changed direction slightly and found a rather lovely lime green, which preferred to the red, which looked great on EQ6 (truth is, I hadn't chosen the colour of the real fabric exactly), so in real life I didn't like it. The green strips are a quarter of an inch wide and applique on each block by machine. The white sashing between the blocks is to be sewn on next......

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Sister Act and Liberty's of London....

Saturday was a fun day - we drove to Ruislip to have lunch with our favourite Rellies - not just lunch it turns out, but sherry and nibbles and then a three course meal with wine - I could have done with an afternoon snooze, which was unfortunate as along with The Rellies oldest Daughter, The Willowy Dr., her partner B and his two delightful offspring A & H, we were off to the underground to catch the tube to Oxford Circus where we had to dash to get to the London Palladium in time to see the matinee performance of Sister Act. Great show it was too, all the actors were fantastic. So good to see Ian Lavender as the priest and Sheila Hancock as the Mother Superior. The stage mechanics were just amazing, with various bits of the stage floor moving around in ever decreasing circles. I took this photo as the show ended. It shows the stained glass windows and the statue of the Viurgin Mary that got bigger and shinier as the show progressed. Here is a shot of the rather intricate ceiling:When the show finished we came out of the theatre and saw Liberty's immediately to our left, but as we only had ten minutes before it closed it was always going to be a struggle to actually do any shopping there. Well, what do you know, 6pm came and went and no one threw us out, so we carried on looking. This is the beautiful entrance, it would have been so easy to have bought up armfuls of flowers I picked up a beautiful silk scarf in the sale and hastily put it down again even though it was reduced to a mere £275! I was so shocked I didn't even register what the full price was. The fabric and habby is on the third floor and it's astonishing how fast one can sprint up stairs when the clock is against one! Hmmm, much reduced in size from last time I was in here, but I had heard as much from others so it didn't come as a total surprise. But there still seemed plenty to look at. I drooled over a few shelves of fabrics, but was not tempted enough to buy, I needed more time to choose. To me, the braids and trims were more interesting at this point. I would like to have spent longer looking but will save it for another day when it's just Himself and me. I did buy some stripey braid that will probably form part of a bag. So hardly a big spender, but if I'd had more time, dear reader...............They still hadn't called time when we left the shop at nearly 6.30, so goodness knows what happened to closing time on that particular day. We briefly glimpsed at Carnaby Street, but that did all seem to be closing, so with reluctance we turned away and headed back to the tube. Where a huge supper awaited our return - we chatted to our Rellies way into the eveing and finally got home at 1.45am on Sunday morning!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Birthday Boy

Ha, how things conspire. Time just slips through my fingers like water.
Well I did finish this cushion:Which I'm rather pleased with, my piping looks pretty good, even though I do say so myself!

It was Lanky Boys Birthday at the weekendWe went to Nando's in Bristol. Where they seem to put chillies in everything.
Himself, Lanky Boy and the Whizz Kid are very keen on the hot chilli sauces, but the Chic Girl and I have more respect for our insides (not really, the sauces are just too hot for us). We had the most miserable serving waitress you could imagine, I would have taken a photo of her constant scowl, but she looked as if she might not like being 'papped' and since I love my camera.......... However we did have a fun time.

I found a free, first issue of a new needlecraft magazine on the web called' Needle' from the hand embroidery network - it makes a very interesting read.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Driving with idiots and then sewing squares

n Back to work today and a very scary, slooooow drive it was too. Oh, the main roads were fine, but getting the car off our sloping drive and down our snowbound road and out of our village - ugh, just horrible. What shocked me was the number of F*%$!wits that insisted on driving not ten* centimetres from my back bumper. Presumably they felt the traffic wasn't going quite fast enough for them because they were driving in their 4x4's. Wasn't just me who noticed this either, as both Himself and my boss said they had had the same experience. My boss even had one bloke who overtook her when it wouldn't have been safe without any snow, let alone in todays conditions. Tch, cretins.

*Ok - I know, I know, you've told me a million times not to exaggerate, so maybe it was only twenty centimetres from my bumper then!

Yesterday I had great fun sorting through my 'Japanese' fabrics, well only one or two are genuinely Japanese (slightly different 'feel' and weave to them,) the rest are American but with a 'Japanese' design. Anyway, I wanted to make a cushion cover and so started cutting lots of one and a half inch strips and then squares. Sewed them all together: backed them with some 80/20 white wadding and quilted the black squares with a squiggle design, using Superior Threads black bobbinfil in the bobbin and Superiors Rainbow 844/Midnight Shadows on top. Hmmm, I promise I have quilted these squares Look, here's the back so you can see:The squiggly slightly messy bottom left bit, is my 'tester' piece, which is cut off later when I square up my rectangle - ha ha ha, that makes perfect sense doesn't it? I shall finish this cushion tomorrow - more pics then.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010


No going out work today for either Himself or me, because of the snow that fell all yesterday evening and overnight.
What a difference from yesterday. At 10.55am, I heard a now sadly all too familiar, loud low pitched drone and so dashed inside to find my camera, it was another plane bringing back dead soldiers to RAF Lynham and then the drive through Wootten Bassett, which is very close to us,The streets will be again be lined with people, paying their respects. It's very sad that it has to happen at all, but I'm glad the boys were bought home yesterday rather than today, because of the many hundreds that now attend each repatriation, all the traffic is in chaos for hours afterwards. Adding snow to the equation would have made it ghastly for everyone.

I was really grateful to get a phone call from my boss this morning telling me not to come in today, I did not fancy driving in all this snow. I notice that no one else around here has taken a car out either, but quite a few dog walkers have gone past the house.Love this snow doughnut:
Champagne doesn't think much of the snow either, but refuses the indignity of the litter tray!:This Mahonia bush is fairly protected by our outside boiler:

Himself worked from home and I did some BQL 'management' and then some sewing - Hurrah, I finished a UFO destined for our sofa - supposedly for Christmas: Hmm not bad, it's only three weeks late!
To help me through the cold, I also some ate more of our Christmas chocolates he he:-p Now I have a very sweet tooth, but my word these M&S ones are very sweet, even for me:(Oh don't worry, they'll still all get eaten trust me!) These posh Marc De Champagne are really, really delicious:but so rich I can only eat a maximum of two at a time! Pretty box no? These are rather nice too:but again quite rich.

The last of the decorations came down today - ah, shame. I've just got to pack them all away now, urgghh.

Used up the last of the smoked salmon and Philly cheese for supper - this is a lovely, quick and easy to make dish. Should be ready to eat in about fifteen minutes.
Cook pasta shapes, but please do not add any salt to the water. (these usually take about 12 minutes or so to cook)
Chop half an onion and a clove of garlic, and fry in another saucepan in a tablespoon of olive oil until the onion is opaque. Add a large roughly chopped courgette, some torn up fresh basil leaves and some freshly ground black pepper.
You could also add some frozen peas to make the dish go further if you want.
This all takes about 10 minutes.
Then add approximately half to two thirds of a 200gm tub of Philadelphia cream cheese (although mascarpone or creme fraiche works too) stir into veggies.
Stir in roughly torn up chunks of sliced smoked salmon. (Roughly chopped up Bernard Mathews turkey ham is good too)
Taste mixture and add more black pepper if you want - now do you see why you don't need any extra salt?
Drain off pasta
If your pan is big enough stir the pasta into the sauce, but if not tip the sauce over the pasta.

Gah, now if I'd been clever I would have saved a couple of basil leaves for decoration and called it a 'serving suggestion'...... but I'm not.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Party, party, party

On New Years Day we went over to Bristol because Chic Girl and the Whizz Kid were having a party. It was a Zombie party, but we totally forgot we were supposed to dress up - doh! Never mind, Himself and I were still allowed in. We hoped we could watch David Tennant do his last Dr Who. (Boo hoo.) Chic Girl wanted to watch it too, so we sat down together in one room with the TV, while other people made party preparations in the rest of the house.
Chic girl as the Cheerleader in Heroes: Even zombies have to eat:
The Whizz kid was a pirate zombie, with his brother as a Smurf and his beautiful sister as a spider woman!:
Do you think maybe he should think about switching to de-caff after lunch?
That huge tarantula only wants a Bacardi & coke:

The food was superb, my favourite being a whole salmon cooked over a welcome barbecue. A tall zombie king had made a delicious 'guts' dip which was mainly beetroot - there was also 'brains' which was a garlic-y horseradish dip. Yum.

Chic Girl lost her pom poms to this party girl who clearly had paying close attention to how it was done, she danced in time to the music very well indeed.

Before it got too late in the evening, we all walked over to a local playing fields to set off some fireworks. After a few drinkies this seemed like a 'very good idea' - however, standing in the freezing pitch black with something akin to the 1812 overture going off in front of us - we did discuss what we would do if the police came. Some wag thought we should aim for a 'super ASBO' between us, but a few people pointed out that their jobs might be at risk, so some settled on a fictitious local address's and everyone else decided that scattering in all directions to anywhere except the Whizz Kid and Chic Girls house was the best course of evasion from the law. As each car drove past, we all looked around nervously and tried not to look suspicious, which looking back on it now, considering 95% of us were dressed as zombies was probably rather optimistic. Fortunately the boys in blue did not turn up, so we carefully (it was very icy) made a hasty retreat back to the house. Later on we went into the back garden where the fire was heating up nicely and let off some sky lanternsSomeone suggested that it would be a good idea if the air inside was warmed over the fire and they were far easier to light and float up, unlike the ones we launched on Christmas day.