There is something truly satisfying when a modest charity find turns into more than originally imagined. When you spot something you like, take it home, and find the perfect place for it. Doesn’t always work, but over the years, I have had a few notable wins.
Take the half finished curtain I found a few years ago. As soon as I spotted the blue fish, I fell in love with the fabric. So I paid the princely price of £2 (I know, unbelievable – and it was lined) and brought it home.
It was too long for the bathroom window, so I cut the bottom off and hemmed it. It really worked well in the bathroom. I discovered, printed on the selvedge “Ralph Lauren – Home”. Hmm. I have expensive taste. Somehow it seemed even more of a bargain for my £2 investment.
The curtain is still in use in the bathroom. It has survived the dirty hands, and been washed many times. This is good quality fabric. It’s showing no signs of needing to be replaced.
This left the cut off fabric. It has been sitting in my fabric cupboard, all this time. Making me smile every time I see the fish. They are so beautiful. I needed to make something from the fabric. This week, I finally took the plunge. (pun intended)
After all, I have a good reason. For the first time, I’ve got a dedicated sewing room. Happy times! No longer do I need to clear my current project away, every time we sit down, as a family, to eat. I even can grab the odd 10 minutes to sew. Oh bliss!
I wanted to make something special for my new work space. There was enough fabric to make a cushion. Even allowing for a bit of fussy cutting, to position a whole fish on the front. Using my rotary cutter, I sliced the fabric into three pieces, to make an envelope style cushion.
Hmm. What do I spy? It seems my new area has attracted a helper. Just the right height for him to stand and
The fabric is lovely. I love the fish, but I wanted to make it mine. Like a fairy godmother, I added a splash of mini pom-poms and a sprinkle of sequins. Maybe not quite so many sequins as my assistant suggested, but one in each of the fish eyes would do. (I wonder if he would have suggested so many if it was left to him to sew them on………..)
We had a bit of a debate about which way up this particular fish was meant to be. Fortunately, an “up” symbol was printed on the fabric (first time I’ve seen this symbol – very useful), which proves that this is the way the fish is swimming. Swim, fishy, swim.
On the back, I managed to position two more fish. Ideally, I might have avoided some of the extra blue, but there really wasn’t much fabric left to play with.
Now my new sewing room has a cushion. Before I show you where I put the cushion, do you fancy a quick tour of my new area? So glad you do. Come this way. It’s alright, we haven’t got time for me to show you everything, just the layout.
I have a sewing table, where my machine is permanently set up. Remember the pots I made and turned one into a pincushion. It’s looking quite at home by my faithful machine. And very useful it is too.
Next to the table is my bureau, which used to belong to my Grandma, and before her, my Great Grandfather. I’m using it as my work desk. I can swivel around on my chair from the desk to the sewing table and around again to the ironing board. Even my fabric cupboards are in easy reach. I couldn’t have designed it more perfectly.
Everything is white (at the moment), apart from the bureau and the floor. This is the one room in the house that I cannot reach the ceilings. Really, I mean it. Most of the rooms I can reach without resorting to standing on tippy toes. Old cottages have low ceilings. This room used to be the old wash house. Tacked on the side of the cottage. When we renovated it, we raised the roof just that little bit more and added velux windows. I’m hoping to maximize the light.
So there you are. End of tour. The cushion is to live on my chair. And very comfortable it is too. Avert your eyes from the dangling cables. I’m still setting every thing up. Although the sockets could not be better positioned. Instead, take a sneaky look at the work-in-progress, hanging up to the right, that is next on my list.
My thrifty find, four years ago, really did work out well. I now have a beautiful bathroom curtain plus a fun cushion. And the fabric cost me not a penny more than £2. Just goes to show, it’s worth popping into a charity shop, on the off chance of a bargain. You never know what you will find.
Linking up with Thrifty Thursday.
Yesterday, I put together a St George’s Day after school activity, for the children. St George’s Day is on Thursday, but as it is baking, it made sense to do it earlier.
We made two different varieties of biscuits, using the same mixture. I like using the “Rainy Day biscuit” recipe from the book Nigella Bites. It keeps its shape when it bakes, uses ground almonds and tastes good on its own. A really good, proper biscuit.
We used a shield cookie cutter. If you haven’t got a shield cookie cutter then, you can also use a paper template to cut round. You can see how we did this when making our castle and shield cookies.
Once baked, the children had fun icing the biscuits. We used ordinary icing for a change, but fondant icing would be an even better option, according to the children. Instructions here.
Once the icing had set, using a new paint brush, the children painted crosses on to the biscuits with red food dye on the shields. Really does take a light brush stroke. It’s still easy to make furrows in the icing.
These biscuits disappeared quickly. I caught the last five for a photo, before they too were devoured. (Managed to hide two, for the next day’s packed lunch)
I hung on to half the unbaked biscuit mix and used the shield cookie cutter to cut out more. Half of these, I cut plus signs or crosses in. I found it easier to keep the shape if I cut and moved them on to the baking tray while they were still in the cutter.
Once baked and cooled, I dusted the crossed shields with icing sugar. The other biscuits were spread with raspberry jam. Then the crossed shields were put on the top to make jammy dodgers. Easy! Does make a perfect (yummy) St George’s shield or English flag.
So two variations on the theme. I’m not big on icing, so I prefer the jammy dodger versions. The children like both.
Other St George’s Day activities:
Somehow, I missed out on pottery at school. Apart from the odd coiled pot or ambiguous animal models, I really can’t remember making anything that had to spend time in a kiln. More recently my children have creating clay masterpieces and I have looked on with quiet envy. Hoping that their classes might open up to us adults. (pick me, pick me)
Then, back in November, I made a bid for pottery lessons at an auction, with an amazing, local ceramist, and won. A very talented, patient teacher, as it turns out. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have spotted the progress of my pots.
I spent time in her studio, learning to make pots on her potter’s wheel. That’s me in the photo. Goodness, it is hard work. I felt muscles in my arms and legs being used for, what seemed like, the first time. I have a fresh appreciation of potters. I really achingly do.
Not all of the lumps of clay made it. I found shaping the pots fascinating. A simple subtle movement of my fingers sent the walls curving gently out, or changed the thickness. And then it would all go wrong, wobble and cave in. I had to include a photo of my splats. It’s only fair.
I made five pots. All different. One is a bowl. One has the most perfect dip in the base to cradle a candle. Another was going to be a mug,……except the handle failed. Not easy shaping with aching muscles. I should have started with the handle.
After Christmas, I went back to glaze them. I tried patterns, but not my forte as it turns out. Hey, you can’t be good at everything, so I added a bit more glaze. Two tone, in some cases.
Yesterday morning, at the school gates, I was handed a small wooden crate containing…..oh be still my beating heart…MY POTS. Oh yessire. My finished pots. I couldn’t wait to get home and unwrap them.
So pleased with the results. OK, I may not be destined to be a professional ceramist, but I am more than happy. Always excited to acquire a new craft skill. And, oh boy, is this a great one!
Trying to think how to use them. It would be a shame to condemn the pots to a life behind glass. I’d like to use them.
Middle daughter and I had fun running our fingers round the rims and arranging them in note order. They do make amazing singing bowls for times of meditation, or making tunes, although Eldest has banned us from indulging this whimsy when she is around. (sends shivers down her back) Hmm.
As an avid dressmaker, using one, or two, as sewing accessories does appeal. Chance to enjoy their loveliness on a regular basis. Pincushion?
Joining in the Creative Mondays Blog Hop. Hop on over for some crafty inspiration.