Blog Archive

All Dressed Up but Not Many Places to Go

Hello friends,

Before any hint of lockdown I had decided I needed some new summer clothes.  I have lost some weight recently (deliberately) and a lot of clothes were now too big, or a bit worn out!  Then we became confined to home, and I felt happy and comfortable in a tee shirt and my collection of Miette skirts and dressmaking fell by the wayside.  My cupboard of delicious Liberty Lawn fabrics kept calling me though so I decided to make a couple of dresses for the odd occasions I do anything more glamorous than food shopping at the moment!

I used one of my favourite patterns, New Look 6224, but a view I hadn't used before, the one with flutter sleeves.  I decided to make both dresses in the same style as the fabric was different enough to get away with it.  This also meant I could cut both out at the same time.  Clever, eh? 

I'm really pleased with how they turned out.  The sleeves are so light and fluttery, but provide a bit of coverage from either the sun (Thursday) or the wind (Saturday).  At the moment we are experiencing four seasons of weather in the space of week!

It was nice to do some dressmaking as recently I have done mostly quilting.  I have three on the go!  The quilt for our bed, the wedding quilt for my daughter and her fiance, and a quilted wallhanging.  As the wallhanging is by far the smallest, (the other two are King Size quilts) I decided to make this my project-to-finish-during-lockdown and I'm happy to say I have finished all the blocks and have started stitching them together.  It is a raw-edge applique quilt, and each block was quite labour intensive so took a while.  I'm not going to give away anything else but wait until it's completely finished and then reveal it!  

Oh, I did also make a quick project - a new peg bag!  Ours was literally hanging by a thread so I made a new one from a lovely piece of sturdy calico, which I also used for the lining. I embroidered the front with Sunbonnet Sue, which was a pattern by Anita Goodesign.  The photo isn't great as it's hanging on a white door after I'd given it a final press, but here it is anyway!

Back to joining quilt blocks now!

Take best care,

Donna x 

A Long Overdue Taa-Daa!

Hello my friends,

I hope all is well with you, wherever you are in the world, in these extraordinary times.

The beautiful weather has continued here in the UK, only breaking yesterday with some rain and cooler temperatures  I have spent much of my time in the garden, pottering, planting, keeping on top of tidying bulbs and perennials as they come and go, and making sure to take time to enjoy just sitting in the garden.  We have eaten many meals outside and drunk lots of pots of tea!

I'm not really great at sitting doing nothing so I decided to use the time in the outdoors, in the daylight, to finish hand stitching the set of placemats I started months ago.  I had actually finished four, but you may remember the project grew and grew and I found myself making ten!  If I am making a quilted project that is going to be seen from both sides I like to hand stitch the binding down on the back, rather than machine stitch it, which I often do for a wallhanging quilt.  You may also remember that I loathe and detest hand sewing! Consequently I had parked the remaining six placemats, with bindings full of pins, like so many Very Cross Hedgehogs, for 'another day'.  That day - many days in fact - arrived and lots of tiny stitches later I have a full set of placemats. Here they are...

I am so pleased with them!  The fabrics are all from the 'Hedgerow' range, by Lewis and Irene, and the embroidery patterns are by Anita Goodesign. 

I used the Quilt as you Go method to make the blocks, with an 80/20 wadding (batting) and then quilted them with a layer of heat resistant 'Insul-Brite', purchased from the good people at Empress Mills, Lancashire. 

I make things to be used, so these are in use every single day, and I try to be philosophical about the odd gravy or sauce spot, but I am glad my family are being extra specially careful with them so far!

All good wishes,  

Donna x 

Tales from the Potting Shed

Hello my friends,

I've been feeling very nostalgic recently, partly due to the current worldwide situation and partly due to my big sister sending me the most delightful old family photos she has unearthed.  They are real treasures and have brought back floods of memories.  This past couple of weeks I have been thinking about sheds.  Yes, sheds.  I like sheds, I really do, which might sound a bit odd, but apparently a lot of people do!  

When I was a child my Dad had his shed at the bottom of the garden.  If my memory serves me correctly, it was a brick built affair, with a galvanised water collection tank outside.  Dad wasn't really into gardening (but did grow beautiful dahlias and Virginia Stock).  Dad's shed was for Mending Things, and woodwork.  He was a fabulous woodworker and built us all sorts of things, including a huge (to us) Wendy House, a doll's house bungalow, furniture for my teddies, oh - all sorts of wonderful things, some of which I still have.  A real treat was to be given a small piece of scrap wood, helped to clamp it in the wood vice, and free reign of the files and sandpaper.  I loved the wood planes and the curly ringlets they made, but they were sharp so I was only allowed to use them if Dad helped me.  I remember making a fish.  A beautifully tactile fish that felt as smooth as silk.  I loved that fish, and was proud of it.

Dad's shed was a haven for spiders.  Great big, fat, black things.  Dad would never harm anything but the spiders scared me, so he would collect them up in a big bucket and put a piece of wood across the top so they couldn't escape.  If I was feeling particularly brave I would slide the wood to one side and peer inside, but that took a lot of courage, so I didn't do that very often.

At the end of the day. he would release the spiders into the garden.  That was the kindhearted Dad he was.

Later on I was fascinated by my Step-Dad's shed.  He was a very keen gardener and his shed was a proper Potting Shed, in which he occasionally Mended Things.  My Step-Dad was an early riser all his life and first thing every morning he would go down and unlock the shed, fastening it back with a cast iron hook and loop.  Open it would stay, all day, from Spring to late Autumn, ready for a potter in a few spare minutes.  My Step-Dad built a small lean-to greenhouse at the back of the shed in which he grew cucumbers (always Telegraph) and raised a few seedlings.  I was allowed to place my own tray of seedlings in there too and I loved that.

Two of my most treasured gardening items, that don't live in the shed, are books.  Both belonged to my Step-Dad and this first one he gave me when I had flown over from Canada, where I was living at the time, when my Mum was taken seriously ill.  Step-Dad and I sat in the garden together, after we had taken turns to spend all day at the hospital with her, and we looked in the book for ideas for my garden at home.  I said I was going to the shops to buy a copy the following day, but he insisted I took his home with me, and the memory of that time makes my eyes fill with tears.  I love this book and the memories attached to it, as by the time I left to return to Canada my Mum was well on the long road to recovery.  

The books even contains snippets he had cut from newspapers.  How special is that?

The second book my Mum gave me when my Step-Dad died.  We had always consulted the book together and used to laugh at the unhappy face Adam the Gardener always wore.

At our home today we have three sheds and a garage.  DH Mends Things in the garage, one shed is for his work tools (he is a gardener by profession), one is a small storage shed in the vegetable garden, and the other is My Potting Shed.  Oh, I love my Potting Shed!  It was built to my own drawings (well, sketch) with big windows, lots of storage shelves and hooks to hang things up.  Oh, and a cast iron hook and loop so I can go down the garden every morning, unlock the door and fasten it back for the day...

Over the winter it had got very untidy, which troubled me, so a couple of weeks ago DH spent the afternoon helping me to sort it out. He's very good at sorting out. We recycled lots of unnecessary clutter, and put back just the things I need (and a few I probably don't, but can't part with yet, just in case I find I do!)  Would you like to come and have a look?

On the left is my potting bench, with two potting trays so I can (try) and keep the compost contained when I'm sowing seeds or potting on seedlings.  At the back are seed and seedling trays and my hand mower.  We aren't short of mowers in this house, but I don't like using the big electric and petrol ones DH has for work, plus I love the soothing noise hand mowers make.  It is so light, quick and easy to use I cut the lawn every two or three days, as I love the freshly mown look.

Over my potting bench are hooks for my garden tools.

Moving on around, I keep my plastic pots on high shelves to keep them out of the way.

Underneath those shelves is storage for all the bits and pieces needed for gardening, mostly sorted into trays and storage boxes.

Over the door are hooks for my compost sieves...

...and the shed sign I painted for my Step-Dad many years ago.

Lastly are my terracotta pots, safely stored at ground level, under the potting bench.  

I like all sorts of terracotta pots, but my absolute favourites are old ones, and I always look out for them in junk shops etc.  These are a few of my favourites.  I do use them every year, mainly to grow basil plants in, safely on the greenhouse bench.

I hope you've enjoyed a little potter in my potting shed, and a wander down memory lane.  Thank you for your company.

Keep safe,

Donna x