Because life’s celebrations shouldn’t cost the Earth

Monday, 2 March 2015

Vintage Linen Bunting Tutorial

Antique Embroidered Garland  



Now I'm not known for being overly sentimental but there is something about antique embroidered tablecloths and tray covers that makes me want to swoon!  I think it's the combination of their great age and the hours and hours of work that first went into creating such gorgeous works of stitched art. I don't know how ladies in the 1940s and 1950s found the time to produce them, although the lack of television and internet might have been a contributing factor!


Vintage linens regularly turn up at car boot sales in all kinds of condition and I find that table cloths often show the most signs of wear, particularly in their centres, where crockery, cutlery and hands would have constantly rubbed against the fabric. However the edges, where the embroidery is normally to be found, is usually in far better condition having hung below the edge of the table top and therefore avoided such friction and wear.     


Once the centers are full of holes they're clearly no longer suitable for covering a dining table and besides, in our house, a tablecloth would need washing and ironing after every (messy) meal!  


Instead the perfect project is to stitch up some gloriously shabby chic bunting - Every upcycled garland produced is totally unique and it feels so good to breathe new life into these forgotten treasures!


If you're feeling inspired, I've written an easy to follow tutorial, with step by step photos, over at the Cuddly Buddly blog


Vintage linens are also perfect for pouches and purses.  This kitsch 'Crinoline Lady' was too large for a bunting flag but she works really well on a little patchwork makeup bag.


I love the Spring colours, and they still look as fresh as the day they were first stitched.


You can read more about it here, and having watched episode three of 'The Great British Sewing Bee', I'm feeling very grateful that my sewing is done on a modern Bernina machine, although those antique Singers are so charming. Do you think Mr Larkin would approve of me buying a fifth sewing machine because 'it's pretty'?!


Another string of my upcycled vintage bunting was featured in Reloved Magazine.


The full blog post is here.


The original stitched designs on the tablecloths I used were each so different but I love both sets of finished bunting equally.  I gave one set to my mum and the other is hanging in my kitchen where it reminds me of English summers full of village fetes and weddings!



Happy Repurposing!



Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Easter Hanging Ornament Tutorial

Glittered Wooden Shapes


 

Now that Lent is here, I'm starting to think ahead to our Easter celebrations.  We try to uphold the season as it can feel overlooked in favour of Christmas, yet it's such an important part of our cultural and religious heritage. You can see some of our previous Easter decorations here, including these little cuties;


Created with Sizzix and Quickutz dies by SewforSoul



We always have an Easter tree, a wonderful tradition which originated in Germany where they are known as Ostereierbaum, but they're gradually becoming more common in the UK.  We bring in a tree from the garden and decorate it with little wooden ornaments and eggs, including many we've crafted ourselves.  It's always lovely to add a few new ones each year, so with that in mind I looked through my stash in search of inspiration.   




I came across these little wooden shapes which the children used for their Easter cards when they were younger.  I put aside a few in case the children wanted to get creative again this year and then set about giving the rest a fresh new look.




The first step was to simply give them a quick sand before applying a base coat of white paint. Wood shapes are easy to source and if you get blank ones you won't even need to sand them back first!




Once the white undercoat was dry I stamped the shapes, using a glue pad and one of my favourite clear stamps.  




Whilst the glue was still wet I sprinkled the shapes with some lovely sparkly glitter in a variety of yummy spring shades, before flipping them over and repeating the process on the reverse side.




The final stage was to give the decorations a quick coat of varnish to fix the glitter firmly in place, before drilling a hole in the top and threading with hanging loops.  




 And that's it......Don't they look great!




I now can't wait until Holy Week and we bring in the tree, so that they can take their place amongst the rest of the decorations.



Happy Crafting!

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Style at Home February 2014 - Finally Shared!

Better late than never

As the children are at home this week on their half term holiday, I've not been sewing.  Instead we've been going on fun day trips, in return for one boring day spent in the house tidying......but look what we found;


A copy of Style at Home magazine which featured our family room. It is the February 2014(!) issue and when our copy arrived it was duly read but then found its way into a coffee table drawer where it has languished for the whole year.  


The feature was in partnership with B&Q with an emphasis on storage products and warming colour tones


The room is a great size with a vaulted ceiling and lots of glass.  It has a different feel to the rest of the house with natural wood finish windows and Venetian blinds, creating a harmonious flow into views of the garden.  At least that was the idea, but the 'look' is somewhat spoiled by what's usually in that big empty space......Mr. Larkin's road bike fixed up to a turbo trainer!   



The photos were taken just before Christmas 2013, which explains the string of green and red tartan bunting hanging above the French doors. The leather chair was later moved to make way for our Christmas tree, the high ceiling means we can accommodate a nice large one. As the pictures were taken in winter the light is quite subdued,  but in summer the room is absolutely bathed in sunlight.



It's been lovely having the children at home, although I'm looking forward to having more time next week to write and post some tutorials.  I have done quite a few lately but they all seem to have been guest features for other blogs, it's about time I did some for this blog!




Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Happy Birthday Mr Larkin!

Kenwood BM450 Bread Maker Review


We are very blessed to be part of a fantastic church family, so a few times a year we host dinner for 30 -35 friends.  As I aim to embrace frugal living, the meal consists of wholesome local food usually a starter of soup followed by jacket potatoes with either salad or stew dependent upon the season.  Each family then brings a pudding for a 'shared dessert trolley' but one of our guests, who is a very talented baker, also brings along some of his homemade bread usually a gorgeous Stilton and walnut loaf.  Now Mr Larkin is very taken with this bread and, as I also make soup for our lunch on Saturdays throughout the cold months, he thought he would give bread making a go.  I dutifully went to the shops and bought him some bread flour and yeast and he got to work......but the novelty quickly wore off!  He was itching to watch some rugby on the television and didn't realise that he would have to knead and prove the bread twice, I think he thought he would just give it a quick mix and shove it in the oven! 

He then decided we should look into buying a bread machine.  I wasn't too keen as my parents have one and the bread produced is very heavy but as we were only looking to bake a loaf to eat with soup we decided we could overlook this and it was also nearly his birthday, so I got 'Ebaying'.  I found a listing for a Kenwood BM450 and put in a winning bid of £11.50.  The seller very kindly delivered it at 6.30 the following morning on his way to work!  

These bread machines originally retailed at £150 but luckily prices have come down and most shops now stock them for around the £90 mark.  


Kenwood states; "Our top-of-the range, artisan bread maker offers superb baking performance and versatility. This bread machine has a convection fan to control the temperature for an even bake and a rapid bake function that can have a loaf baked and ready in under an hour. The BM450 has a wide range of programs and an automatic ingredients dispensing system. It offers a 58-minute rapid bake function, 15 standard baking programmes and a further five that you can set yourself, to time each baking stage - pre-heating, kneading, rising and baking.  The BM450 Bread Maker blends striking contemporary design with intuitive, touch-sensitive controls to create a sophisticated, easy to use bread maker that's perfect for keen bakers and bread lovers. It has a viewing window and an internal oven light that makes it easy to keep an eye on baking progress. There's also an optional, round bread making pan for creating round loaves and sweet breads. The combination of black metal, stainless steel and glass, gives the BM450 a distinctive stylish look"


The stainless steel finish is much more attractive than some of the white plastic models out there and whilst I don't usually worry about aesthetics when choosing appliances, it's worth bearing in mind that bread machines are fairly big and won't easily store in a kitchen cupboard but this one looks great on the worktop.


So how was the bread?  Well, we were expecting a very heavy loaf like the stuff produced by my parents' machine, but technology must have moved on in the last fifteen years as the bread is beautifully light.

We made a wholemeal loaf first but devoured it before I could take any pictures, however it was a lovely size and shape with a very even colour.  The BM450 offers a choice of light, medium or dark crust and we chose medium.  The next loaf we attempted was a traditional farmhouse white;


Once again we were very impressed with the results, another light loaf with a pleasing colour and appearance. 


Far from being a dense loaf only suitable for dunking in soup, it also makes great sandwiches.  Eldest child declared that it was 'even better than the bloomer loaves from the shop'  Wow, high praise!

Farmhouse White

As it's half-term this week the children are at home and we have been busy experimenting with lots of different ingredients, just chucking in whatever we had in the fridge.   Below is a chilli and cheese loaf with poppy seeds and crispy onion!


We made it with white flour as I thought wholemeal might be too heavy.  It turned out a wonderful golden tone having soaked up the colour of the chilli infused cheese.


Chilli Cheese from Aldi, at a great price


The poppy seeds were part of a Christmas gift range at Sainsbury's and were just 10p in the January sale!

 Another soft and airy loaf

We've also made a Stilton and walnut loaf (of course!) as well as brioche, a tropical tea bread and a lemon drizzle cake.  The breadmaker also has a jam function which we might try after we've been brambling for blackberries in the Autumn. 

The children's favourite feature is the large viewing window and internal light.  The instruction manual warns that if the lid is opened during the proving/rising cycle there is a danger of the loaf collapsing, so for excited cooks this offers a risk free method of checking progress!

In the interests of fairness I do have a couple of minor niggles with the product.  The measuring device Kenwood provides is a real faff and I found much easier to use separate spoons, especially when swopping beween wet and dry ingredients. These multi-coloured ones were a £1 from Asda.


I also found that the markings have started to wear off the measuring beaker, it would have been so much better had they have been embossed into the actual plastic.


 These are the only negatives I've discovered so, all in all, we are absolutely delighted with our £11 bread maker.  We use it everyday and as our ingredients come from either Lidl or Aldi a large loaf costs us approximately 30p plus according to Which an average of five pence worth of electricity.  In fact I would even go so far as to say the BM450 is worth £90!

Happy Baking!





Thursday, 12 February 2015

SewforSoul DIY Printed Candles - Featured at Wayfair.co.uk


I was so excited a few months back when Wayfair contacted me to ask if I would write a craft feature for them and I'm thrilled to be able to announce that my Valentine's DIY printed candle tutorial can now be seen over at Wayfair.co.uk.


If you haven't yet visited Wayfair, you're missing out on a fantastic shopping experience.  They carry a  jaw dropping range of items for both home and garden, as well as hosting a lovely inspiration page where you'll find a myriad of crafting projects from their selected bloggers.


The tutorial is super easy and allows you to transfer any image to plain candles using just an inkjet printer, tissue paper and a hairdryer.


You can see from the photo above that I used LED candles for mine and I just love their soft glow with realistic flickering action.


Clip-art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy 

 

Don't they look gorgeous when 'lit'?


Monday, 2 February 2015

SewforSoul ~ Sewing World Magazine

Felted Wool Hot Water Bottle Cover ~ February 2015




February's Sewing World Magazine is in the shops now and features one of my repurposed sweater projects;


A hot water bottle cover with an adorable sleeping fox applique


The tutorial is really easy and as felted wool doesn't fray it needs only minimal finishing



The magazine is full of great makes including a lovely tartan cushion by Fiona over at Celtic Thistle Stitches.