Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sybaritic Sewing

Alright, alright. So I said I'd try to post more and I haven't. I have been truly, truly, uselessly absent.

But. I don't get to do much sewing right now. It's ages since I have sewn anything interesting, and exponentially longer since I have sewn anything interesting for

So tonight, with a great big heap of work parked very firmly in my blind spot in the dining room, no more than an indistinct silhouette in the corner of my eye, I dusted off my sewing machine and cutting board and made something I have needed for ages. I guess the fact that I needed it means that it is not total self-indulgent extravagance in the truest sense of the word, but it certainly feels like it.

A couple of hours playing around with a set square and a few scraps, and reacquainting myself with my poor neglected Singer, and we have here a brand new makeup bag. Small enough to fit in my handbag, big enough to hold all the things I actually need. Plus, it's got a funkalicious orange lining, and I have such strong affection for orange. Oh, the luxury.

I'd also like to draw your attention (if it has not been drawn by others already) to the glory of oh comely magazine. I may be way behind the times with this recommendation (so, what's new there?) but this magazine is be-oooooo-tiful. I could lose days reading it. If anyone loves me and is wondering what to get me for christmas, consider this a hint.

Now that I've fallen off the wagon it may not be imprudent to assume that you could be hearing more from me. Given the fact that I'm getting an overlocker for my belated birthday (can you say 'Fuck, yeah?!')and am unlikely to be able to resist playing with it far too much when I ought really to be working, that may appear more feasible still. Those of you who know and love the sporadic nature of my blogging will naturally know not to get your hopes up too much.

I will, however, tentatively pledge to have the shop up and running in time for Christmas shopping – at least for those less organised amongst us who don't get all our gifts bought before the clocks go back – as much to force my own hand as anything. Feel free to nag / harrass / abuse / flagellate /otherwise encourage me when I inevitably look like I'm going to fail to deliver. It's actually looking fairly well-stocked at the moment, so it's really just the web design side where I really need to pull my finger out. Be gentle with me though, okay? I have a full time job and a three year old.

Catchya later x

Monday, September 6, 2010

Breaking radio silence

It's been a while, I know. But bereavement will do funny things to you.

One of the things it has done to me is to make me curl up and hide and not have any contact with the outside world. Including you lot, I'm afraid. I've just been feeling too raw. I'm starting to come out of my hole, but be gentle with me, and and try not to give me funny looks when I switch from mopey depressive wreck to frightening fixed-grin-happy and back again as quickly as a very quick thing.

One of the other things it has done to me is to motivate me. When you watch someone die too soon, watch them mourn for all the things they will never get to do, you can no longer escape your own mortality. The finite-ness of yourself. I will not allow any more time to go by while I faff about not following my ambitions to fruition. So, in between the periods of wanting to curl up like a little hedgehoggy ball and offer the world my spikes, I have been working. Really hard. Drumroll please.... Ruby in Blue is going into business. I have been sewing my little socks off producing piece after piece of hand-crafted gorgeousness. Watch this space people. There will soon be a shop, stocked with beautiful things for you to buy for your very own small people. I'd been planning to do it for ages, but this was the push I needed. I am excited.

Coincidentally, the other thing bereavement has done to me is make me very, very busy. I am now heavily involved in my dad's company, and I am currently on a steep learning curve, finding my footing in the world of finance. It's a big step and a huge opportunity. Challenging, different to what I'm used to, and exhilarating.

Oh, and lest we should forget about the small girl, she still needs feeding and cuddling and playing with and reading to and tickling. If anyone knows where I can purchase additional hours for my day, I'd be really grateful. She is still the personification of gorgeousness by the way, and makes me smile a thousand times a day, even when I am an inch away from crying. Just in case you were wondering.

So, lots going on, and very little spare time as a result. It never rains, hey? As a little offering by way of apology for being so absent lately and for the serious lack of actual sewing in recent posts, I would like to direct your attention to the brand new button over there on the right: Sew From Scratch, by the very wonderful and clever LiEr at Ikat Bag. This is the holy grail when it comes to drafting patterns, a whole series of posts that will take you all the way from how to get the measurements you need to having a perfectly fitted sloper for your subject. I'm serious. I have waited my entire sewing life for someone to put together something like this. Anyone who has ever wanted to know, really understand, how to draft a pattern from scratch and have it absolutely perfectly fit your child, then you will want to set aside a couple of hours, some chocolate and some wine, and sit down to read your way through this whole series. Trust me, you will be glad you did.

I'm going to try to post more often. Don't expect too much in the way of sewing because, well, because of all the things I just wrote about. But I will be trying to add recipes, and generally blog more. If you notice I've been quiet for a while come and poke me with a sharp stick. If someone could also bring me a cup of tea from time to time that would be really great too.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

For my Daddy

I'm sorry. I haven't been here in what feels like forever. The practical reason for this is that I have been without a computer for the last couple of weeks. The real reason though, the reason I have no words and nothing to say, is that my Dad died on Friday. I am numb, and I am wordless.

After a long and awe-inspiringly courageous battle against cancer, which began in his colon and spread through his liver, lungs, spine, bones, and finally his brain, he died peacefully in his sleep in the early hours of Friday morning, surrounded by the people who loved him, with my sister and I asleep on either side of him. He was sixty-one.

I can't imagine a world without my dad in it. He was the most generous, kind, loving, eccentric, wonderful man in the world. He filled a room. He made a party. He lived for music and beauty and family, and for each and every day. He will leave behind him an unfillable space, and a quiet to which we are unaccustomed.

Ruby understands, I think, in the way only a three-year-old can. She had a dream, a week or so before he died, about flying with her Baba, holding his hand. She says he can live in her heart, and that there are stairs in her body for him to get in. She blows kisses out of the window to him at bedtime. She reminds me that he is not ill any more.

It seems wrong, that these few sentences should be all I have to sum up my father, when I would normally find such comfort in words upon words, but for now I am mute. I could talk about the incredible things he has done, the funny stories and the cock-ups, the bravery and the reconciliation, but silence feels more fitting, more natural right now. The words will come, in time, I'm sure.

I love you, Baba. I will miss you forever. I am proud and thankful to have known you.

Always your daughter,

B x

Friday, July 16, 2010

A spanky new look for Ruby in Blue

...courtesy of the lovely people over at Shabby Blogs (yep, up there on the top left corner) and their glorious font of gorgeousness. And, get this, it's free to use.

Let me know what you think - are you a fan of the new look, or do you prefer the simple beauty of our former aesthetic? Leave a comment and let me know. This is a democracy, y'know.

I mean, I'm the boss and all, but I'll factor in your opinions... ;)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Rubyisms, for posterity.

Much to my dismay, Ruby's pronunciation of words is improving exponentially at the moment. I can see some of my favourite Rubyisms vanishing from use entirely in the not too distant future. For the amusement of you fine people, I thought I'd write down a few of my favourites.

Trickult [tri'-kuhlt] (adj.)
Not easily or readily done; requiring much skill or labour to be done succesfully.
[Origin: Compound word, formed from the synonyms 'tricky' and 'difficult'.]

Lilypaddling [li'-li-pahd'-ling] (noun)
The leaf of an aquatic plant, the water lily, upon which frogs may sit.

Swimsuitcase [swim'-suht-keys] (noun)
1. A usually rectangular piece of luggage used for carrying clothes whilst travelling.
2. A garment worn for swimming.
[Origin: compound word, combining the meanings of two related words into one convenient multi-purpose term.]

Annoining [uh-noi'-ning] (adj.)
Causing annoyance; irritatingly bothersome.
eg. 'Oh, that's very annoining!'

Upside-up [up'-side-up'] (adj.)
Correctly orientated; antonym of upside-down.

Boffum [boff'-um] (noun)
The buttocks, or rump.
eg. 'Mummy, stop pinching my boffum!'
[Origin: early mispronunciation, reinforced by sentimental parent and grandparents.)

Oboe [oh'-boh] (noun)
The bend or joint of the human arm between forearm and upper arm.

These are too precious to forget. I sincerely hope I never do. I know there are more, but it's late and I can't think of them right now. Plus, I'm in Cornwall with no internet, and this is turning out to be a fairly tortuous process on my iPhone (on which grounds I would appreciate your understanding as regards any typos). Will try to stop by again while I'm away, but in case the tempermental phone signal fails me, or I an just too busy having a good time, I hope everyone has a great week. Peace x

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

An age old tag, fulfilled...

Two posts in one day. I know, it's madness. Well, I was reading my lovely friend Skip's blog earlier, and I clicked on the label "happiness", as you do, and found this post. Seems I was tagged, and quite some time ago, and I never even knew it.

Here’s what to do:

1. Open the first (oldest) photo folder on your computer

2. Scroll to the 10th photo

3. Post the photo and the story behind it

4. Tag 5 or more people to continue the thread

I wasn't going to do anything about it, thinking it's a bit like realising you never paid your library fines, and that it's a bit late now, so the best thing to do is simply never to go back to the library again, but then I opened iPhoto, and I found the 10th photo in the first folder, and I thought again:

It's not one of the ten oldest photos on my computer, so I don't know how it snuck into that spot, somehow hoodwinking my computer and its grasp of chronology, but I'm kind of glad that it did. This is my Dad, and the picture was taken a couple of years ago, when Ruby was about five months old, on holiday in Cyprus.

I keep writing and rewriting this, going into the backstory and and the now-story, but all I really want to say is that I love my Dad more than I can say. He is the most generous, loving, brave and inspiring man I have ever met, even if he does hide it pretty well sometimes behind the fact that he's from Yorkshire.

This picture sums him up for me. It is how I think of him. He's the best dad I could ever have hoped for, and I wouldn't trade him for the world. I wouldn't even swap him for Bill Nighy.

Coincidentally, that was also the week my little baby girl first stood up, sat up, crawled, and grew her first two teeth. Busy holiday for her, that was.

Don't feel in any way obligated to take up my out of date tagging, but here are my five taggees:

1. Pixie at I'll be Francoise

2. Robyn at Rose Lullaby Dolls

So, take it or leave it my lovelies, but I found something rather special doing this, so it might just be worth a shot. A big belated thank you to lovely Skip for that little nugget of love.

The Great Unveiling of the Grand Transformation

I have been threatening to do this for such a long time, and procrastinating so effectively, that I had honestly almost given up on it myself. I made flags for bunting, oh, three hundred years ago, and never sewed them together. I made a roman blind in the similarly distant past, and never hung it. But finally, with (almost) all the bits and pieces in situ, the Great Unveiling of the Grand Transformation can, at long last, take place.

Here, good people, is your before shot:

Not so awful, but just too girly for me, and it all just felt old and cluttered. It felt very much like a baby's bedroom, and my baby is very much a Big Girl now.

So, goodbye to over-saturation of pink and hello to clean lines and bright colours.

Goodbye to chaos and clutter, and hello to a well-stocked bookshelf and a sense of space.

Goodbye to poorly fitting blackout blinds and feeling like a long, narrow railway carriage, and hello to daylight in the day time, darkness in the night time, and a whole lot of feng shui.

The only thing missing is a shade for the ceiling light, which I am going to make out of the same fabric as the bedclothes when I next venture near an Ikea.

We're both pretty pleased with it. Here's to many happy nights' sleep.

Oh, and I'm going to tidy up the old bunting (which is not really 'old', just needs repressing and possibly topstitching because I was too lazy to do it the first time round!) and give it away on the blog, so watch this space.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sunday night refashion.

Not much to report here, except that the small girl did an excellent job as flower girl yesterday. So much so, in fact, that I am considering renting her out on a regular basis to wander round strangers' weddings holding flowers and being photogenic. Gratuitous proud-mummy-shot coming up.

Tonight's project was a simple refashion: a t-shirt I have never worn (t-shirts and I have never really got along) and a strapless dress I have never worn (ditto for me and strapless dresses) into a much more wearable dress.

I'm sure the idea of refashioning is not necessarily to reduce one's wardrobe by amalgamating two existing items into one, but, as far as I'm concerned, one item I am certain I will wear is better than two I almost certainly won't.

Also, this week I have mostly been laughing at these little gems. Happy sunday folks. Peace out.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Three times a bridesmaid

She's only just three, and already the small girl is on her third run of bridesmaid duties. I'm hoping that the old wives' tale doesn't hold true for her. Just in case it does, at least this time she'll have had a shot at walking down an aisle wearing a white dress.

She's wearing it with a little cardie and sparkly white shoes from her last outing as bridesmaid to her godfather, and is over the moon because we're spending the night in a real live castle, like real live princesses.

This silk was quite possibly the must frustrating fabric I have ever worked with. It was a challenge to get it sewn up before the whole thing unraveled, and I can't see it holding up particularly well in terms of washing, but its pretty and it only has to survive a day, so fingers crossed, hey? Also, I have learnt a valuable lesson: when sewing a white dress and wearing red lipstick, it is not advisable to bite off threads with your teeth.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Freshly picked pinny

We had a bit of an idyllic afternoon yesterday, the small girl and I. I spent an hour running up this dress, from a great tutorial over at Freshly Picked, and contrary to all precedent or character Ruby spurned Beebies in favour of watching me. "I love watching you sew, mummy," she said, heart-meltingly, whilst proceeding to observe me, chin resting on her hands, head to one side, for a full ten minutes, before getting bored and wandering off to get some crayons and sticky things.

This sweetness was only very slightly marred by the forty-minute screaming session that followed as a result of my tying a bow the wrong way. I'm willing to overlook it though, and store the little watcher in the memory banks instead.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Time travel, courtesy of some strawberries

I went back in time today. Approximately twenty years back as it happens, transported there by row upon row of warm, dusty red berries, nesting in straw. Who would have thought that a pick-your-own garden centre could have such a visceral effect, but there I was again, not much bigger than Ruby, with strawberry juice dripping down my chin and the sun on my back. I couldn't stop picking them.

And the peas, my other favourite things. Just to push me a little further down memory lane, Ruby and I spent a happy half hour shelling them into a sieve, eating half of them raw along the way. From field to plate in under an hour. Beat that, Captain Birdseye. It doesn't get much better.

In other news, the makeup bags have been at it again, breeding like rabbits. Honestly, they wouldn't be out of place on the Jeremy Kyle show.

In the oilcloth family way

Remember the oilcloth purse tutorial? Well, I made the mistake of not checking the sex of that first pair, and it seems that I inadvertently ended up with a boy and a girl. At least that is the only explanation I can think of, since the two of them have quite clearly been breeding. The dirty little buggers.

They have produced no fewer than four offspring. If that doesn't show a lack of self-control I don't know what does.

Like their parents, the babies are made from oilcloth with a shiny silver lamé lining, but their outer skin is a pretty Cath Kidston-esque floral which, frankly, has me doubting the paternity. And I don't know what they are feeding little oilcloth babies these days, but this lot are big. One of them could even be called obese. I blame school dinners.

We love them all the same though. Here they are, all together, the whole happy little family.

Monday, June 28, 2010

And the winner is...

Drumroll please.......

Dawn & Rose

Congratulations, you are the proud owner if the infamously spurned yoga leggings!

Email my with your details at kellyb[at] and I shall send them on their merry way to you.

Tonight is 'me' night. I am making not one, but two dresses for me, me, ME!

Of course, I wouldn't be all that surprised if I inadvertently got sidetracked into something on a smaller scale. Somehow the 'me' projects never quite seem to be realised... I'll let you know how it turns out.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Le Quilt (aka. The Father's Day Project of Epic Proportions)

So, said the cat in the hat. So, so, so...

As promised, here are some pictures (as modeled by the small girl, who can never resist a camera lens anywhere in the vicinity) of the quilt I made for my beloved Baba for father's day, the secret project that has taken up so much of my time lately. You see, I wasn't making it up, I really was busy.

I made it using the Folk Dance Quilt pattern by Anna Maria Horner, and I love the geometric-ness of it. As a virgin quilter, it was a daunting project, but manageable. Very much a case of one step at a time.

It was machine stitched, hand quilted, and is made from 100% natural fibres. The middle of the quilt sandwich (anyone who knows the proper term for this, do please let me know - I have no knowledge in this area whatsoever) is a lightweight bamboo batting, machine washable, tumble-dryable, and perfect for snuggling up on mild summer evenings.

And so, 234 pieces, 13 yards of fabric, 60 hours of sewing, and thousands upon thousands of loving stitches later - the result is one very heartfelt gift, for one very special man.

And this is the man himself. Happy father's day, Baba. I love you xx

One day more...

Hello peeps. Just a mini announcement to say that I'm going to extend the giveaway deadline until tomorrow. The extremely valid reason for this is that I have been sunning myself on the beach all day and haven't got round to it, so, yeah, my laziness and lack of commitment are working in your favour once again. If you haven't entered already, get on it.

I'll be back later with some pictures of the quilt I made for my daddy for father's day, but in the meantime, can we all breathe a collective sigh of relief that the ritual shambolic humiliation that is England's contribution to the World Cup is over for another four years? Don't get me wrong, for a change I actually feel quite bad for all the people who really do care about football and harboured a preference as to whether we won or not – good grief, that match was painful to watch, even for me – but really, England, it's just embarrassing. Three cheers for no more vuvuzelas. Hip, Hip...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Lined oilcloth purse tutorial

Haven't done a tutorial in a while, so here is one I have been working on for a zippered oilcloth purse with a shiny lamé lining. Obviously, you don't have to use either lamé or oilcloth, but I like how robust the oilcloth is and the lamé... well, I just like shiny things, okay?

You will need:

Two rectangles 4.5" x 9" from your outer fabric;
Two of the same from your lining;
Two little rectangles 1.5" x 2.5" from your outer fabric;
One 8" zipper.

(As an aside, I have recently acquired a set square, and I can tell you exactly how much easier it makes life: a lot easier, that's how much.)

Start with your small rectangles. Fold them in half so the short sides are aligned.

IMPORTANT: Do NOT press anything in this project with an iron. You will regret it. Big, smelly, molten regret. You just need to use some firm pressure with a flat rigid edge. I used the end of the lever bit of my nail clippers (obviously) but you could use anything really. Back of a knife? Just assume that's what I'm talking about when I tell you to press folds in this tute.

Turn the short edges under by about 3/8" and press again, then do the same with the other small rectangle. These will be the little tabs on the end of the zip.

Insert one end of your zipper into one of your little folded tabs, making sure that the metal bit of the zip is enclosed inside the tab. You can trim the fabric at the ends of the zip if they are too long. Stitch straight across, being careful not to hit that same metal bit with your needle.

Do the same with the other end of the zipper, and it should look something like this

Now you are going to make a zippy sandwich. Take one of your outer pieces and lay it right side up. With the zip closed and the pull to your right, lay it face down along the bottom edge of your fabric (if your fabric has a print that needs to be a particular way up, you actually want to be looking at it upside down right now - does that make sense?) then lay your lining fabric right side down on top, aligning all the edges. The tabs will stick out slightly from between the layers. Tack it all in place. I wouldn't recommend pinning here - you get a much better result if you tack.

Stitch along about 1/8" from the zip teeth with your zipper foot. I find the easiest way is to start with the zip closed, then stop halfway with your needle down, lift the presser foot and open the zip up, then put the foot back down and carry on to the the end. It stops the zip pull getting in your way and spoiling things.

Turn the layers of your sandwich back on themselves, so that the two layers of fabric are wrong sides together. Press the folds and topstitch.

You then need to repeat this process with your other pieces. Same drill: outer fabric right side up (upside down printwise, if relevant) Lay the piece you just sewed, right side down with the zip closed and the pull to the left, and then your final lining piece right side down on top. Tack and stitch in place. Open it out like you did with the other side, and topstich. It should look like thsi:

Now, this is a little tricky to explain, but not tricky to do, honest. Make sure that your zipper is at half-open. You want to fold your nearly-purse so that the two lining pieces are right sides together, and your two outer pieces are right sides together. Align all the edges, tack in place, and sew all the way round, just missing the tabs on the end of the zip, and leaving a 2" gap in the lining part to turn it. The two things you really want to avoid here are forgetting to open your zip and forgetting to leave a gap for turning. If, like me, you forget either (or indeed both – yeah, you heard, both) of these things – don't panic, just reach for your trusty stitch ripper and start again. It should look like this:

Clip your corners and turn the whole thing carefully through the gap you left (or, like me, curse your stupidity and return to the previous step). Stitch the gap closed. Tuck your lining inside and use a stitch ripper to gently coax the outer corners into shape.

Ta-da! That wasn't so hard, was it? Looking at this now, I wish I had some metallic thread or something for the top-stitching, but on the whole I'm pretty pleased with it.

I also made a makeup bag version for my mum: Slightly bigger, and I boxed the corners at the bottom so it would stand up:

Let me know what you think of the tutorial, and any changes you think I need to make - happy sewing!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Boom box leggings giveaway: Come one, come all

This week I have been a little naughty and splashed out on some patterns and fabric, including this great pattern for yoga leggings from the lovely Amanda over at Kitschy Coo. I made them out of what is quite possibly the coolest jersey print in creation, fabulous turquoise-green and covered in boom boxes, also purchased from Amanda's great big Fabric Bonanza Mega Sale.

They have mock-buttoned cuffs on the bottoms, and a big wide waistband that can be worn folded down or turned up to save little tummies from draughts.

The leggings and I are very much in love. Upsettingly, Ruby does not feel the same way and, what with children being unrepentant sociopaths with little or no cognisance of other people's feelings or emotions, she has no qualms with letting me know this fact, or with point blank refusing even to try them on.

My heartbreak and devastation, however, are your gain, because it means these beauties are up for grabs. They are a size 2T, but I think fairly roomy.

I'm sure you know the drill by now: comment on the post to enter, and if you blog about the giveaway or share it on twitter or facebook you get two entries (be sure to let me know in your comment that you have done so!) and I will get the small girl to pull the winner's name out of a hat on, let's see... how does Sunday 27th work for everyone?

Good luck everyone, get commenting xx

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ruby in Blue is on Facebook

Hello lovelies. I know I've been really really rubbish lately, but it's because I've been working on something BIG and it's for a certain father of mine who happens to be a follower – Hello, Baba! – and so I can't blog about it until after Father's Day.

What I can blog about, though, is the fact that we now have a new facebook page so if any of you nice folks fancy heading over there nd becoming a fan (or even suggesting it to your friends?!) it would be very greatly appreciated. And I promise that there is sewing goodness to come in the near future. Peace out x

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Late night whimsy

So, here I am again. Silly o'clock and no sleep to be had.

But I have made a little something, which is, well, something.

It's uncharacteristically pink for me, and very girly, and yet I kind of love it. I more than love the fabric, with its fanciful print, and I love the red heart buttons that clash a bit, in just the right sort of way. I think I dodged twee by an inch or so.

I'm not sure how much wear this will get, as it really goes with nothing the girl owns, but when I saw the fabric I knew I couldn't not make it. Oh, if only she had some red patent Mary-Janes. How good would that look? Or would that be overkill? Might have to settle for Converse high-tops for now, although I kind of like the incongruence of that too.

Quiet now, brain. Hush.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

In the immortal words of Take That... (Or: Anyone can learn to sew)

... "We've come so far."

Every time Ruby stays over at my parents' she comes back with something or other that she has begged, borrowed or stolen. Last week she came back with a little pink dress she had found hanging on a forgotten hook somewhere, the first thing I ever sewed for her.

It wasn't that long ago, maybe two years, but I'd kind of forgotten about it. I'd forgotten that when I started out I really didn't know how to sew. I just knew that I wanted to. Obviously the girl has grown in the interim so you'll have to forgive the fact that she looks like an extra from Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, but whatever allowances you make for that you will surely wince, nonetheless, to see the flaws in the shaping, the way the upper bodice gapes while the lower bodice barely makes it across her belly...

... the, um, generous armscye and the poorly finished seams.

The wonky stitching...

... the seams that didn't quite stand the test of time ...

... and the raw edges ...

... raw edges everywhere you look.

It made me really happy to see how for I've come in what seems now to be quite a short time. I've learned everything I know from sewing blogs, tutorials and books, from my marvelous mum, and from good old-fashioned trial and error. When I started I couldn't sew a buttonhole; I didn't know how to set in a sleeve. I had never sewn elastic, never used bias binding, never sewn a rolled hem or a french seam. Back then I didn't know what a placket was, let alone how to sew one. If something got ripped, or stained, or outgrown, it went to the charity shop, or in the bin. Now when Ruby outgrows a dress, I make it into a skirt. When my jeans don't fit properly, I alter them. I couldn't find a dress I liked enough to wear to my friends' wedding next weekend, so I am going to make one instead.

Two years ago I was no better at sewing than when I walked out of my last needlework class aged eleven. Now I feel as though I've always sewn. There is so much that I still want to learn, I'm standing right at the foot of the mountain, but it's not intimidating any more. I don't look at something I want to make and decide against it because I don't know how to sew in the zip, or what to do with the interfacing, or because I don't like the sleeves quite like that. Not any more. Now I look at something and work out how achieve what I want to achieve. I know that few things are as hard as they look.

So, that was the first dress I made for Ruby, which was only ever worn once or twice, which never really survived the wash, but which, like everything else I make her, was stitched so lovingly, with so much care. It was my prototype.

My other prototype turned three yesterday, but this one can't be improved upon. She's perfect just the way she is.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Carbon Positive blogging

I have to say, it has never crossed my mind that my blog could be generating CO2 emissions. Never even thought about it. Then I saw this post over on Eco-Strip Down and it made me think, so I pottered over to Ixpo which got me thinking even more.

Ixpo is pioneering the Plant A Tree initiative, planting one tree for every blogger who signs up, which means that this is actually a practical difference in the world that you and I can be a part of. I'll bet that the CO2 generated by your blog never crossed your mind either, did it? It may look like a tiny amount, but apparently someone highly intelligent has worked out that every visit to your blog causes about 0.02g of carbon dioxide (think computer usage, electricity hours and server cooler systems). That may not sound like much, but add it up and an average blog attracting 15,000 hits per month generates 3.5kg of CO2 a year. Now, I may not be attracting 15,000 hits a month (yet!) but here is the other beautiful aspect to Ixpo's initiative - it won't cost me a thing to offset my carbon emissions anyway, and you can do it too.

Click on the green "Carbon Positive" button on the right to add a button to your own blog, and Ixpo will plant a tree in your name. All you have to do is write a post about it and email them with the link, and you too can proudly wear your green button. I don't know why this concept appeals to me so much, but it really, really does. It's made me smile to think that because of something very simple I can do, there will be one more tree in the world that I am leaving my daughter, and in my mind that's enough to make it worthwhile.

Addendum: Sorry I've been a bit absent lately. There's a lot going on and it's taken over a bit, but normal services will be resumed shortly, I promise. x

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Insomnia-induced creativity

If jet lag is the mother of industry, then insomnia must, at the very least, be a distant cousin of productivity. I have forgotten how to sleep. My body seems to have forgotten it needs sleep. Actually, that's not strictly true. When I do sleep, I sleep really deeply and really well, but I am down to about five or six hours a night – four and a half last night – and I am a big fan of sleeping. I love to sleep. Until I had the small one, I was a nine or ten hours a night girl.

So, while I am not necessarily thrilled about this state of affairs, it is true that fewer sleeping hours mean I have inadvertently got my wish for more hours in a day – more waking hours at least – and I have been making and doing and fixing and... did I mention making?

I have very nearly gotten my act together and finished Ruby's room. I have finally screwed the dimmer switch, which I wired in over a year ago, to its back box. I have put up the roman blind I made for Ruby's room, with my very own drill. Yes, all right, it's pink, but it's still a power tool, okay? I am woman, hear me drill things! Rah.

I have bought and bravely ridden a bike, with my precious spawn on the back, on actual roads. This clearly was not done at night, so doesn't strictly qualify to be included here, but it is kind of a big deal for me, seeing as how I haven't ridden a bike in well over a decade. It was the shame and lasting trauma of failing my cycling proficiency that did it, you see.... So I am somewhat proud of my newfound roadworthiness, and thought I'd just squeeze it in there.

Sewing-wise, I have done loads (and thrown away a fair proportion of it on account of it being embarrassingly badly sewn tat, which perhaps goes to show that insomnia is not all good – but let's not dwell on that). Success stories include a shirt-to-dress refashion using this tutorial (I'll stick a piccie up when the girl is not asleep in such close proximity to said dress), a few nighties, since the girl, for no obvious reason, has renounced pyjamas, and a nice little bunch of summer dresses and tops, all from half yards I have been collecting.

This is my pick of the bunch:

A sweet little smock top made using Anna Maria Horner flannel;

A stripy pinafore dress....

.... with a cute appliqué on the back (which, because I quite like how the heart-on-the-bum-look turned out, we are going to pretend was not accidental);

And Ruby's election night dress, a lovely soft peasanty tunic, based on this tutorial, completed at about three o'clock in the morning when the reds and the blues were neck and neck, and I gave in and went to bed.

There's also a really awesome skirt, which happens to be in the wash, but you get the point. I think I have made more in the last week than I have in the last month put together. I have also learnt that lining and reinforcing things, while taking a little more time, makes oh-so-much of a difference to the end result. So, in conclusion, as much as I am wary as to what the long term consequences of sleep deprivation may be, as long as I can keep up this kind of productivity I am not going to complain. For now at least.