The blog is moving!!

I’m moving the blog! Exciting stuff!

A little while ago I bought my own domain name from go daddy for like £3.50, but I’ve been putting off using it for a WordPress site. I understand that this is a free service and they try to limit posting ads on people blogs which is why they charge extra for more than the basic bits and bobs. But I don’t mind having ads and I can’t justify spending ££ a year to use my own domain name or ££ to have a theme I’m happy with or ££ just so I change the colour and size of my font. I love so many things about WordPress, but at the moment it just not a great fit for me. So I’m switching platform to one which I know some people (most people!)  think is actually a step down from WordPress, but since I can have more control over the simple changes I want to make to the blog’s design and use my own URL for free that’s all good with me.

My new URL is www.ideasandinspirations.co.uk and I hope you will all continue to follow me on the new site, using Facebook, twitter or instagram. However if you follow via email I’m afraid you’ll have to sign up again via the box on my new site and if you follow through the WordPress reader you can easily add my new blog too. All you have to do is go to your reader, on the left hand side you’ll see blogs/follow and then edit. Click on edit then just add www.ideasandinspirations.co.uk to the box at the top of the page and click follow. Also if you follow via bloglovin you’ll have to follow the new blog again here.

Thrifty August

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I can’t believe the month is almost over, time really is just slipping away from me at the moment! Anyway I thought I’d add a new feature to the blog to share all my bargain buys over the past month. Times are tight for a lot of us at the moment, but I don’t think that has to mean we can’t have nice things, just that we have to try to be a bit smarter about where we find them.

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(Yes another terrible selfie! I need to buy a proper tripod!) This skirt is from a car-boot and it was new with tags for 50p, there’s a nice man there every week who sells old dead stock, it’s pretty hit or miss, but I did get a really jazzy 80s cardi off him a few months ago, so it’s always worth having a rummage to see what he’s got. The elastic is totally dried out, so I put it away to be fixed at a later date, but when I got this top in the H&M sale for £2 (plus a £5 off voucher) I knew it would be the perfect match and with a belt the skirt stayed up fine (I’m still going to fix it though!).

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I love it when I find hand knit clothes for the girls, they wash and wear really well and you can tell that so much effort has gone into making them. I bought this bright yellow vest for Rosie for £1.50 from our local salvation army charity shop, they had loads but this was the only one which fit her, it’s perfect for layering when the weather turns cold. I also couldn’t resist this 80’s giant snakes and ladders board game for £1.50 (pictured above), the box is just to funny.

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These wedge boots are from the Simply Be sale for £14 reduced from £35,  unfortunately I’m not great with taking care of shoes especially suede type ones so I can’t see them lasting more than one winter.

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Lastly this isn’t really a thrifty find, but I enter a few give-a-ways each month and I finally won one!! This gorgeous goody bag arrived yesterday from Penni at Sew Smitten. I’ve been following her brand on Facebook for a while and love seeing all the things her and her partner (who I went to uni with!) make, now I own some!! It’s well worth checking out, the screen printed teas towels are amazing!

What do sewing bloggers do with all the clothes they make??

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This is a question I’ve been pondering for a long time, most of the blogs I read make an average of two pieces of clothing a month, that’s 24 a year so if you’ve been blogging for say 3 years that’s 72 items of clothing!!!! I’ve found that I don’t keep all the things I make, I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this on here before, but I’m almost the opposite of a hoarder. If it’s not being used, isn’t greatly sentimental and wasn’t a gift then I just don’t feel the need to keep it any more. This goes for clothes, books, cosmetics, well everything really.

When I make something I don’t end up wearing I either give it to charity or sell it on eBay to try and recoup some of the fabric costs. Of course there are also loads of pieces I’ve made that I love and wear regularly. Anyway I thought I’d pose this question to some of my favourite sewing bloggers to find out what they do. I’m so grateful to all the lovely ladies who got back to me with such thoughtful and helpful replies. Here are the blogs I got in touch with, if you don’t follow them already, do it now as they’re all amazing!

Dreaming of Avalon
Handmade Jane
What Katie Sews
Buttons and Birdcadges
Charity shop chic

I’ve been mulling over the best way to share all the helpful tips, somehow copying bits of the messages seems a bit creepy? So I decided to just make a quick list with the key answers:

  • Refashion –  Where possible try and fix what you don’t like about a garment or re-use the fabric.
  • Giving to charity – This is a popular option because you don’t really have to worry about the quality of your sewing, however it can be quite heartbreaking when you’ve spent hours and a serious amount of money on fabric making something to just give it away without knowing how it’ll end up.
  • Giving to friends/hosting a give away – I remember reading Handmade Jane’s post where she gave away some of her handmade wardrobe (If I was smaller I totally would have entered too!) and it was a real success.  Jane mentioned in her reply how nice it was to give them to other sewers who could appreciate the amount of work that went into making each individual garment. I also love the idea of giving to friends and family. However there is a flip side, I remember reading a post on a sewing blog a few months back (I’ve searched and searched but I just can’t seem to find the original post) where they listed all the pitfalls of sewing for family & friends.
  • Selling on Etsy/Ebay – A good way to recoup your costs, but it can be a struggle to make enough money to cover the time you spent making the garment.
  • Keep them – If you have the space, then this is a good option because personal style can evolve so in time you might fall in love with something your just not that keen on right now.

I hope this is helpful, it’s the kind of list I wish I’d seen last year when I was just starting out. I think I’m now finally starting to work out which fabrics, colours and cuts work for me so hopefully I won’t have quite so many bits I just don’t know what to do with!

Hever Castle

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Just a quick post to share some pics from a trip to Hever Castle we went on last weekend with my mum. It was once owned by the Boleyn family and is absolutely tiny! At just over an hour outside of London it makes a great day trip and we were lucky enough to go on a day while there was jousting! I think in future I’ll have to combine these day out posts with a finished piece of clothing to make them a little more exciting, but for today you’ll just have to make do with loads of random pics from around the castle!

IMG_2647 IMG_2649 IMG_2653 IMG_2655 IMG_2657 IMG_2660 IMG_2661 IMG_2667 IMG_2671 IMG_2675 IMG_2683 IMG_2687 IMG_269278-Lily-meets-the-Royals(This pic is stolen from my mum’s blog, I would add a link to her post but she’s put a really horrible picture of me on it, we’re talking double chin, gappy teeth the whole she-bang!)

The Pretty Wall

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I think I mentioned a few times that I’ve been working on beautifying the girls bedroom wall, although I love the wallpaper it’s still been feeing a little empty. It’s going to be on going project so I thought I’d share how’s it’s going so far and ideas I have for what to do next.

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Selection of vintage postcards (blogged about here)

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Children’s 1950’s Maudella sewing pattern envelope

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Cross stitch done by my aunt and/or cousin?! not sure but we love it!

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Cath kidston cross stitch, pattern from ‘Stitch

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Embroideries of the girls, blogged here (might do Rosie again as it’s a little creepy!)

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Belle and Boo picture from ‘Belle and Boo Book Of Craft’

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Cath kidston cowboy, pattern from ‘Make

 

Here are some more bits I’m starting or haven’t put up yet.

IMAG0257Another vintage postcard.

IMAG0259Postcard of ‘Cowboy Joe From Mexico’ by Angela Lizon

IMAG0266Embroidery Pattern from ‘Little Sew and Sew

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And finally to celebrate the royal baby in style I’m making a start on this Belle and Boo cross stitch pattern, it’s going to take a while and I’ll probably just hang it up in a embroidery loop, might add some of the bobble braiding too.

Just Like Me Knits by Brandy Fortune

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The unique concept behind ‘Just Like Me Knits’ by Brandy Fortune is to give knitters the opportunity to make matching clothes for children and their favourite toy. There seems to be a real craft movement online at the moment for making clothes for dolls, honestly I don’t really get it. However I thought I’d give this book a try as my youngest daughter has her favourite teddy glued to her side at all times, so I knew she’d absolutely love to wear matching clothes with him!

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I was pleasantly surprised to find that this is actually one of the first children’s knitting books I’ve seen full of cute wearable patterns. There are no block garter stitch jumpers (yuck!) or mini baggy granny cardigans (double yuck!!) just adorable patterns designed with kids in mind. Also the wool choices are stunning and although I never get round to buying the exact wool in the exact shade featured, I’m really tempted to here! Oooh and there is a good selection of patterns for boys too, a real bug bear with craft books.

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My only real gripe is that I’m not sure why it suggests to use circular needles to knit everything! Of course this is an easy problem to solve, you just use the corresponding normal needles, but it did take me a few reads through to realise everything wasn’t actually knitted in the round.

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So far I have made one sock and two cardigans and not noticed any mistakes in the patterns, my sock did end a bit weird but that’s because I didn’t place stitch markers, I just didn’t realise how totally essential they are for socks! Both projects were knitted with the intention of them being for Lily, even though Lily is tall for her age and has big feet I’d still recommend sizing up as there is nothing worse than spending hours knitting something to realise it only just fits and they’ll have grown out of it a couple of months (which is why it’s great to have two girls!).

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Although I’d tried to jump on board with making something for Mr Bear when it came to the knitty gritty of actually spending real time making something for a toy, I kind of lost my enthusiasm and doubt I’ll do it again (unless Rosie begs me of course).  However there are other patterns I will be knitting up for the girls. I’m really impressed with large age range covered (2-10 years), it makes sure its not one of those book where they will outgrown all the patterns before you get round to knitting them.

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The dolls recommended are cute, but rather expensive at around $200. I stopped getting excited about dolls and teddies in my teens so I just don’t get the whole Blythe/Bamboletta thing. That’s why its helpful that included in the book is a really clear guide to grading the patterns to fit the toy your knitting for, as you can see I managed to size down Mr Bears cardigan and I’ve never done pattern grading before.

hats(Such cute hats!)

Brandy Fortune used to host a knitting podcast, which I never even knew existed but now i’m excited to check out what’s out there! She has a blog called Pixie Purls , if you want to see more of the projects included in the book and finished ones then check out the Ravelry page here.  

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‘Just Like Me Knits’ by Brandy Fortune, Published by Potter Craft, RRP £12.99, Available on Amazon UK here.

A trip to Goldhawk road

IMG_2638Recently I’ve read quite a few brilliant blog posts about fabric shopping in London, usually I just stick to a few shops that I know so I thought it would be nice to branch out and see what else is on offer. So on Thursday we headed to Goldhawk road, as it’s only a half hour bus ride away it seemed the perfect place to start.IMG_2637-horz

There certainly are a lot of shops, and some bargains to be had. I’m going to be honest though and say that even though everyone seems to rave about how amazing it is I couldn’t help feeling disappointed. Yes there are a lot of shops, but most seem to stock the same fabrics (at different prices!) which if your looking for a specific plain fabric in certain weight or texture is perfect, but if your after something special, a stand out print not so good. Of course they are there, but you have to rummage (not an easy task with two kids in tow even when your mum comes to help!) and then you have no idea how much they cost.

I also found the level of service was pretty hit or miss, I think that stuff matters especially because I don’t have a lot of spare cash at the moment, which means I have to save up to buy fabric so I want the experience to be a positive one. In one shop a man followed me everywhere literally at my elbow (which always makes me cringe!), while another tried to charge £5.99 a meter for a low quality printed poly-cotton which is almost double everywhere else I’ve seen. I guess that is a bit unfair because for the most part the shop assistants were both helpful and friendly. And also almost everyone cut the fabric on the generous side.

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Maybe once you learn the shops that work for you it’s a more pleasant experience, but I don’t think I’ll be going back any time soon. I’ve been spoilt by my local fabric shop which stocks the most lovely prints in good quality fabrics, is always welcoming and the girls can play with the toy basket. I’m not giving up on exploring what the other fabrics shops around London have to offer though, Walthamstow market sounds great and definitely on the cards for a visit sometime before Christmas!

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Anyway I did buy loads of lovely fabric and my mum treated me to some to, which of course makes up for it not being as fun as I’d hoped it would be.

IMAG0219Offcuts bin synthetic blend chiffon fabric – 1.5 m

IMAG0216Another synthetic blend chiffon from a different off cuts bin – 2.3m

IMAG0224Cotton voile – 1.6m

IMAG0233Lightweight denim – 1.65m

IMAG0228silk blend – 2m
IMAG0226viscose – 2.1m

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Cotton Lawn – 2m

IMAG0218cotton voile – 2m
IMAG0235As you can see I’ve tried to lean more towards the colours I like to wear (mainly blue!) and simple repeat prints. I’ve found that although I love the bolder colourful fabrics when I’ve actually made clothes out of them they don’t really suit me and I end up not wearing them.

Ooh and here are the bits my mum picked out for herself and grandchildren:

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Sorry if this post was a bit moany, maybe its just me I tend to find to much choice overwelming. I’m less kid in a candy store, more kid at reasonably well stocked tuck shop window.