Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Tales of a car journey

You'd think that as the children become older and supposedly more sensible and mature that the humble car journey would or should become easier, possibly even a pleasurable experience....I am at this moment in time chuckling at myself at how that is soooo NOT the case. Whether it is the fact that I have such a varied age range among my little darlings with the rather annoying six year old at one end and the slightly moody teenager at the other, I am not sure but it edges on the side of ridiculous, far beyond comprehension so I thought I'd share, surely I'm not alone....am I??

We have plans to go on supposedly lovely trip to Welsh borders for party with male friend so suggest (requesting politely at this stage) that children pack only essential items as with five in the car plus camping stuff, room will indeed be at a premium.
Two children pack sensibly for trip one decides that she has more rights than rest and packs very large bag for self with so say 'essential' items. Hmmm bet you can guess where this is going!
Bag is opened and 'essential' items are checked and passed as all other family members have followed instructions so there is space (just).
30 minute warning is given as to time of departure and need for children to get dressed and consume an adequate breakfast to beat hunger pangs for next two hours.
5 minute warning is given, one child is still cooking toast whilst another is in pyjamas.....
I make what seems like endless journey's to the car hauling stuff from the house. Amazingly there is just enough room for small number of belongings from friend who is to travel with us.
ETD is upon is and abuse in the form of 'I ate you' echos from the upper floor.....
Five minutes later all children are in the car (as is hound) and we are ready for off......
The Little Lady has smuggled her double duvet into the car in the foot well....hmmmm! Decide to make a point of insisting duvet is returned to house so that said child realises that BOUNDARIES AND RULES ARE NOT FOR BREAKING........am confronted with a stand off in the form of said child sitting in the car and refusing to budge. Decide to call off trip until duvet is returned to house....still waiting!
Two (now seemly well behaved children) return to house whilst said child remains in car....with duvet.
Ten minutes later (now late to pick up friend) and said child stomps into house with duvet which she dumps in hall.
Take two...we're off.
I glance into the rear of the car and it seems Miss P has created a cordoned off area for Small Boy (blocking off his area of the car with a blanket suspended between the front seat and rear of the car) because he has a cold. It is not long before red partition is pulled down by Boy who proceeds to sneeze over Miss P.....1st war begins!
Within no time at all the whines of 'Muuuuum....' are ringing in my ears. A large thump is returned from Small boy to complaining teenager who retaliates.....Am glad to have very blocked ear at this point as shrieks and complaints are directed my way!
Distract children with lovely Katie Mellula CD which has soothing effect and momentarily calms situation.. Miss P complains that we have over played CD so radio is engaged instead.
It's not long before the sounds of 'How long until we're there' can be heard......Random time comes from mouth.
Next are the long drawn out bubbling sounds as Small Boy inhales copious amounts of snot back into nasal passage. Everyone is grossed out and gagging at sound. Suggest using tissue to blow out contents but instead am informed by teenager that Boy is covering single nostril and alternating blowing and snorting snot in and out of nostril. 2nd war begins as teenager covers Boy with partitioning blanket to muffle the sounds. Further bashing and tears.......

Friend comes to the rescue with 'Boiled sweet therapy'.

Location of party is questioned and friend sets phone SAT NAV to help us out. Modern technology is not working according to plan. Chaos breaks out as minor discrepancies are heard from the back and I'm distracted but lack of direction from friend and technology. Decide to pull over.
Look at old fashioned fail safe map and familiar self with route, friend takes much needed pee and I offer children packed lunch. Arguments from the Little Lady as to the size of her share of baguette. 'You've given him the bit that I wanted.....' Offer water.....'Mine's the pink cup......mine's the blue...I want purple' Blue cup is given to the child who requested purple....'I wanted purple'....'Yes friend has that one so you have blue'...'Well I'm not drinking it as F has  a cold and it's touched his cup, I don't want a cold'.....arrrrhhhh 'Go without'.....

Show good example by finishing Boys drink not worrying about prospect of cold!

We reach village of destination. But cannot find house, do not have exact address and no phone signal....Small Boy removes his seat belt. I ask him to put it back on...Boy refuses....we stop car and wait until seat belt is re-fastened......sigh......it goes on......
Eventually reach destination.......

Monday, 16 June 2014

A creative moment Jean/skirt style

I've been taking in clothing and curtains for altering for some months now. Amaaaaaaazing how a moment of desperation set the ball rolling and how I quite hap hazardly fell into a little business venture that now supports my family and lifestyle.
It's a funny kind of business, interesting and full of variety in many ways and at the same time a vent for my creative energies. I've met some amazing people along the way so far and each piece of work seems to carry a tale or curiosity that never fails to capture and enchant my thoughts for a moment or two.
I've also learnt quite a lot. My sewing tuition was on a very basic level, at an early age, from my grandma, so I mainly consider myself a 'self taught' sewer and some how seem to possess a skill for being able to make things work. I have a vision of the end result and love making it happen.
When I first started out on this venture I had actually done very little with regards to altering clothing (although had much experience for creating things) and my first few jobs were really experiments in more ways than one. I struggled with charging initially and often completed jobs and charged just a fraction of the cost that I should have charged. I decided that if I thought of this initial period as 'in-house training', a sort of self-guided apprenticeship then that made me feel a whole lot better about doing jobs for a song. Along my journey there have been many challenges - all good of course. I cannot let a challenge slip me by!
The latest challenge was when a lovely lady arrived on my doorstep asking me to change a pair of jeans into a skirt. 'Yes, of course I can do that' is my usual reply and then I worry about how I'm going to complete the job later. This one was no exception. I gave it quite a bit of thought but decided that the job really couldn't be that difficult.....could it?
So I thought I'd share my little adventure with you. Please feel free to be inspired and replicate....inspiration is good! Make it your own if you can.....

Step one:
Find a pair of jeans that fit, you don't want to be adjusting the waist band as well as totally transforming the garment!
Put your jeans on and decide the length you want the finished skirt. Pop a pin or two at the finished length on one leg.

Step two:
You'll need a stitch ripper for this bit......undo the inner leg seams on both legs up to and including the curved bit of the crotch either side.

Step three:
This is the point of NO return.....cut off the legs straight across about 2 inches below the length pin that you marked in step one.
Can you see things taking shape here?

Step four:
Undo the leg pieces. Position part of one piece into the 'V' gap at the from of the skirt and pin it in place. Do the same for the back with another piece (you might have to bring the skirt in slightly here depending on how flared you want your finished skirt and how wide your off-cut leg pieces are. If they don't fit or if you've somehow messed them up you could add another piece of fabric here).

Step five:
Carefully sew the front panel in place. I've sewn mine using tram lines which are common on jeans, I've also used orange cotton to match up with the other seams.
Repeat for the back panel.
Then turn the skirt inside out and trim away the excess fabric leaving about 1cm for fraying.


Step six:
Lay out the skirt and measure down to the length pin. Pin along the same distance from the top along the skirt hem.

 Step seven:
Cut off the base of the skirt an inch below the length markers (this excess is for the turn up).

Step eight:
Turn up the skirt to the length line and iron the hem. Turn the hem back on itself to conceal the raw edge. Pin in place.

Step nine:
Sew up hemline.

I neatened up the raw edges on the inside with my over locker machine but you could easily do the same with a zig zag stitch or simply leave the edges to fray.

Ta dah!!!! All finished :-)

Ed note: Of course mine went swimming well until I reached the hemming stage......I thought I'd neaten up the raw edges of the underside with my rather super cool over locker sewing machine which makes things look really professional :-) and somehow I managed to pinch the wrong bit of fabric and it sewed that too and ALSO cut off a bit of the fabric which it does......arrrrrhhhhh a walnut sized hole right in the butt area. Bugger! Damn! Poops!!!
 'I'm going to have to replace the jeans.....
 not charge for other work......
 my good reputation will be ruined.....'
I spent three days deciding whether or not to fess up or to try and fix the issue. I'm glad to say that all was resolved by removing a section of fabric and inserting another piece. Breathe out, mahooosive sigh of relief. The lady loved it :-)

The story continues.......

The following day I had a call from a friend of said client who was shopping with her friend in the same charity store and purchased the same jeans...you guessed it...could I do the same to her jeans???

Sunday, 8 June 2014

The merry month of May......

Marvellous, magnificent, magical, mysterious, merry,  May........

May, the month where all the mayhem of the Summer begins, (well in my eyes anyway)!
For the past couple of years I've longed to wake with the birds at this delicious time of year and trundle off into Oxford to experience the madness of May morning. Hear the choir singing from the tower at Magdalen, watch the sun rise, laugh at the revellers and just generally be the part of a tradition I know very little about.

This year (for the first time ever) I had two invitations for May morning.....the first was to celebrate a friends birthday with breakfast, the second to join in with a bit of jolly May dancing and madness a little more locally. Well of course, my bed is a very sacred place and an early rising is rarely on the agenda so although I would have loved to have ventured into the madness of Oxford, I instead invited the birthday friend to dance with me :-)
So here we are dancing away in the lovely village of Churchill, Nr Chipping Norton. The church there was designed by the same person as that at Magdalen, it's known as 'Mini Magdelen' to locals. I wasn't serenaded by choir boys and girls but elders ringing hand bells. And the revellers took the form of a large number of worms who were charmed from the depths of the earth by our gentle (thundering) foots steps! 

Flowers are in abundance suddenly in May and warmly welcomed after the dull landscape of Winter.

Love the words to this old song that I remember singing at Primary school.....

May also brought many other adventures...after grafting REALLY hard for a day on a friends farm, the children had the opportunity for a spot of pony riding. I did too although was honestly far too exhausted to do anything other than sit and be escorted in circles.

We visited the Roald Dahl museum in Great Missenden www.roalddahl.com/museum. Such a fascinating and inspiring chap was Mr Dahl, everyone wanted to be a writer on leaving the place :-)

May hosts Oxfordshire's Art weeks where a whole host of artists and crafts folk open up their homes and studios to allow the inquisitive public a little peek at the talent hidden within.
Once again sooooo inspiring, that week everyone wanted to be artists!!

Exercising our wild sides always features no matter what time of year it is.....
Then there was the wedding of my very handsome nephew and his beautiful bride........the opportunities for dressing up are so rare these days.

Thank you May until next year........