Sewing, craft and other musings

Monday, 31 March 2014

Turning a pest into a sauce...

As discussed on my gardening blog (use link at the side!) I am still over run with horseradish even though I have tried to exterminate the crop from my herb bed.

When I dug up a massive root of it I knew it was to be turned into horseradish sauce.

The recipe came from 'The Preserving Book' again as it has been the only recipe so far that actually keeps the horseradish fresh and useable for up to two months!

This sauce needed:

300ml white wine vinegar
8 tbsp double cream (at room temperature!)
150g grated raw horseradish
4 tbsp sugar
4 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
12 whole peppercorns

The white wine vinegar, sugar, cloves, bay leaf and peppercorns is put in a large pan and heated until the sugar has dissolved. It is then boiled for 5 mins until the liquid has reduced by half.

The cream is added and boiled for 1 minute until it looks smooth.

The liquid is then passed through a sieve ( to remove the cloves, peppercorns and bay leaf) and then left to stand to cool.

Once cooled add the horseradish and season (with salt only) to taste! Pour into pre sterilised  jars!

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Dinosaur in disguise!

As I have said many times before my husband is a dinosaur nut. And, instead of getting him something rabbit related for Easter this year (to go with the jars I made a couple of weeks ago) I thought I would delve into the world of decoupage again and give him a decorated dinosaur.

The dinosaur template was relatively inexpensive  and the papers were left over from a few previous projects so it was nice to use up some scraps too!

Again I used Mod Podge which dries in a nice matt glaze.

I used two colours of the decoupage papers: camouflage and gold crackle...

The process of actually doing the decoupaging took a lot longer than I had anticipated as I was trying to do this project when my husband was not in the house so tried to fit in doing it between him leaving for work and me taking my daughter to nursery first thing in the morning... This had mixed results as sometimes my daughter let me get in with it and sometimes she didn't!

Eventually I got it done and was pleased that it was finished...

I can't wait to give it to him on Easter Sunday!

Thursday, 27 March 2014


The summer term is always packed with exams and stressing students but the one breath of fresh air is the middle school play which is an adaption of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere called 'London Below' and the set is currently being constructed, script being written and the props are being made...

I sometimes dread when my head of department writes the scripts as you never know what props she is going to come up with. The latest one that she wanted some rats made which can sit on your hand but also not look realistic and look handmade... This is right up my street!

I first made a paper version at my desk to work out how big it needed to be and then took it apart to make a template.

I then found some scraps of felt that I had in my stash of stuff which sits in a basket and cut out a body in the felt and stuck it together.

I cut out two ears and sewed them on and added scraps of red for the inside of the ears.

With a length of red material I rolled it up into a tail - and the fact that it is very creased seemed to help!

I sewed the eyes and added the whiskers...

And voila! A quick rat puppet!

When I make the next ones I hope to do the following:
1) sew down the body to make the seam join stronger
2) use embroidery thread for the eyes to make them stand out a little more
3) stiffen the felt with starch spray to make it more rigid!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Loving mices to pieces...

As it has been a busy time at school I find it increasingly difficult to concentrate on bigger projects to do in my evenings so instead turn to little but satisfying ones while watching tv of an evening...

As ever, I still quest for the perfect craft magazine so was surprised that many weekly women's magazines are jumping on the bandwagon.

The latest in these is prima who have released a 'special' which is dedicated to all kinds of crafts.

On the front of the magazine is a kit to make a pin cushion mouse - perfect for an evenings worth of sewing!

The pattern was clear and easy to find... However, the instructions left quite a lot open to interpretation and could have benefitted from photos for each of the stages as both me and my husband had to re read a couple of the stages for sense!

Otherwise it made quite a pleasing pin cushion - though at the moment it is sat on the bookcase waiting to find a home!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Footsteps and memories...

One of the many joys of having a young baby is the fact that there are many little things you can do to give yourself a memento of when they were very tiny!

This imprint was taken when my gorgeous daughter was only 3 months old at our local children's centre.

Play dough was placed in a clean metal takeaway container and her foot was carefully placed and pushed... Careful that the dough doesn't go between the toes otherwise it can take an age to clean afterwards!

Liquid plaster of paris is then added until the foot is filled and there is about a 1cm deep above it.

Let it dry for 24 hours.

Then remove the plaster carefully and use a dry toothbrush to get rid of any excess dough.

And there you have it. I have mounted my daughters on a cheap memory box frame with a sheet of patterned paper...

This particular one is so easy to do that I am thinking of doing one when it is her naming ceremony too as she has grown a lot since this one!

Saturday, 22 March 2014

The perfect present for a 6 month old...

When my husband was looking for his next cross stitching project he saw this kit and just knew that he wanted to sew it for our daughter who has just turned six months old.

My husband dedicates a lot of time to reading our daughter books of every kind but she especially loves the Mr Men books. So when he spied a height chart with mr men he simply had to give it a go.

The hardest part was trying to find the right place to start as finding middle of such a long project was not easy... But once he started on one the rest fell into place.

He has probably taken about a month to complete the project by completing a bit every night...

When he finished the pattern he also wanted to dedicate it to our daughter... Her nickname is 'little face' hence why it says 'for face'. My husband was particularly pleased with this as he didn't follow a pattern and did it freehand.

The piece is now waiting to be stretched and framed and hopefully will be enjoyed for years to come...

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Sleeping dragon in progress...

It is not often that I decide to take on a massive project. Especially when I am super busy with work.

But, with the easter holidays looming I thought it would not matter and I would find time to do it.

I have always wanted to make a model of a sleeping dragon - a name that has stuck from an early age - so when I got sent some fabric to make something with for a competition (I wasn't quick enough to enter, unfortunately!) I thought a sleeping dragon it would have to be!

First of all I made a paper version...

And then it was taking the model to pieces...
and lying them on the fabric and tracing around them.

Cutting out and labelling then commenced...

And this is where I am up to now...

So much still to do...

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Mammoth robotics!

I have said before that my husband loves anything that is really old (fossils, dinosaurs etc) so when this little project came up he simply had to make it!

It comes as a kit with easy to follow instructions but with many, many pieces...

For my husband it also had the added bonus of electronics to play with too which he said had clear instructions and took him a lot less time that he had anticipated.

The project took him an evening to complete but it was a wonderful way to while-away some time...

It also acts as a great thing for my daughter who thinks there is nothing better than watching the mammoth move across the coffee table... A definite success!

Monday, 17 March 2014

Covering the drawers...

There is always a project or two that you simply MUST do. And this was one of them...

I had recently discovered the delight of filling up my evenings with art and crafty kind of stuff and when I wasn't doing that I was reading about art and crafty type stuff (when I do something it always has to be at 100%!)

Simply homemade had this quirky little project to help use the bundle of free papers that came with the magazine that month. All I needed was the drawers in question, a length of red ribbon and some red paint.

I have tried to find the drawers since but have failed. I have put a link to some similar ones on the bottom of the post...

The knobs of the drawers were carefully removed (by saw) and the drawers were measured out on the paper. The paper was then stuck using a high quality glue.

The sides were also then measured in the same way and paper stuck down.

The ribbon was then measured across the drawers, cut to length and then stuck down.

The knobs were painted with red acrylic paint and stuck on the ribbon. It was left to dry for 24 hours.

It now sits in my daughters nursery which holds little bits and pieces... Very effective indeed!

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Something fishy...

One of my many obsessions is pufferfish... I think they are possibly the most comical fish of the underwater world.

I was given a Pom Pom kit by my mother as she knows that I need to keep busy. And the fish came in one of them along with a couple of other fish but the pufferfish needed to be made first!

The instructions were fairly easy to follow but I had to be very liberal with the fabric glue as the Pompoms were very difficult to stick stuff too. The hardest part was the spines as they were made out of small lengths of pipe cleaner which were then a challenge to stick.

However, I love it. And I can't wait to do the rest!

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Insects in disguise...

Sometimes there are stocking fillers and little gifts which are just pure and unadulterated joy. They get you to create something which give you hours of enjoyment afterwards too.

 These were just such a gift.

Bought for my husband my mother thought these would be a great little kit to keep him busy. I think the spider one was first and then the rest followed.

 What I have not included in the picture is some of the smaller insects that come in the pack as they did not move with us a couple of years ago... They were too fiddly for my very rushed packing!!!

 I love them. They are a unique little craft but someday my husband wants to make the templates himself... I will keep you posted!

Friday, 14 March 2014

Getting cosy...

First of all I need to make a quick confession. This week has been a school production week so I have not been able to write on the blog... This upsets me quite a lot but, as the next production is not for a fortnight so it means I can get back to writing and crafting!

 So, I needed a quick project to get my fingers busy once again so chose another free gift to get things going. This gift was from Mollie Makes and was a mug cosy.

 The instructions were clear and easy and templates were simple but effective. The mug I wished to cosy was wrapped in the neon pink felt and trimmed down to size.

The diamonds were cut out of the grey and white felt and then laid on the pink felt. The instructions said you needed to stick the diamonds onto the felt but I couldn't find my fabric glue so skipped that step.

 A thick silver thread then sewed the diamonds to the felt.

 The Velcro was then sewn onto the felt and a button was used for decorative purposes.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

The heart of the matter...

After the success of the crab cupcakes my husband wanted to test his baking skills.  But, not to be outdone by my red velveteen cupcakes he decided to make a giant rainbow coloured sponge heart cake!

Again, this recipe was from 'Zombie ate my Cupcake' by lily Vanili... And she shows you how to make lots of mini hearts as cupcakes and how to make rainbow coloured cake.

My husband painstakingly bought all the ingredients making sure that he bought gel food colouring rather than liquid colouring...

He made six colours of sponge mix and then carefully layered it together.

Once baked he rolled out some fondant to make the outside layer and dyed the icing pink.

For the fake blood he used tinned summer fruits...

The cake tasted amazing and our nephews loved it! Gruesome but nice!

Friday, 7 March 2014

Getting shirty with the Stuarts...

The play I am currently doing the costumes for is certainly creating many challenges for me and I am certainly relishing them.

The problem of budget is still looming especially when I realised that we needed some very specific shirts for some of the male actors.

In 1665 in England, male shirts were very tailored and had big lacy collars. But because I was making these for non fault characters I needed to come up with a 'junior' version of this.

I bought a couple of cheap white shirts and cut off the collars and unpicked the pocket from the front.

I then set about pinning the shirt into the shape that I required. The trickiest bit was the sleeves but it got easier with each one that I did.

I found some off cuts from some previous costumes and made a simple collar that was similar to some of those I had seen in John Peacocks book 'Costume from 1066 to the present' and then pinned it in place.

It was then to the sewing machine and sewing everywhere that I had pinned - quite a feat with the mere quantity of them!

I dressed the mannequin again and added the black sash which helped with the sculpting.

I was so so pleased with the result and now can't wait to see it on the actor who will certainly bring the costume to life!

Thursday, 6 March 2014

A bump for a World Book Day...

Between the school I work at and the nursery I send my daughter to there is no getting away from World Book Day.

I was informed last week that the children at my daughters nursery would be taking part in this day by reading from their favourite books and dressing up as characters from books... My heat sank. My daughter is only six months old (in fact 6 months today!) and has problems knowing what is edible and what is not so dressing her up in fancy dress was not something that I relished. On top of that is the fact that the show that I am currently working on with my school goes in to crazy week and I felt I really didn't have the time to be faffing over a costume.

While coming home inspiration struck ... What about a decorated baby grow?

My husband is good at copying from pictures so he offered to copy a Mr. man from my daughters bookcase... And he chose Mr. bump.

The character was drawn on a plain white baby grow with sharpie which didn't bleed...

She looked a little cutie!

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

A head of royalty..

I am still neck deep in school production. But, as I keep reminding myself, I love doing this stuff and I am getting to do lots and lots of crafty type stuff as part of my job and there is simply nothing better than that.

One of the many eras which takes place in this play is 1485 and is a scene which takes place between Elizabeth of York and Cecily which requires Elizabeth to have some regal head wear.

It also needs to look pretty on a stage and match the massive white dress that she already has. And had to be easy to put on and remove. And not take loads of time up.

So I came up with a very simple design.

I measured the actresses head and then used a strip of ribbon to use as the main head band. I then crisscrossed the other strips of ribbon across the head (twiggy was in use again!) and pinned them in place.

Once I was satisfied I sewed the ribbon down until it was sturdy enough to hold its shape without the head.

I added the gems for a bit of sparkle under the theatre lights...

The headdress looks amazing on the actress.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Maid in the nick of time...

The last couple of weeks have been focused on my schools production and after finishing a couple of maid's caps I then needed to finish the dress.

The dress started off with loads of black lace around it and buttons down the front. They were the first thing to go so I had a basic black dress.

I then cut the pieces of the apron from an old white flat bed sheet (boiled at 90o first in the washing machine!) and then sewed them together.

I then pinned on the white lace and then sewed it  on.

I then pinned the apron to the dress.

I used invisible thread to then stitch the apron to the dress.


P.s. The picture of the dress is on an awful metal mannequin... I am begging the school to buy a proper one for the department as it would make life so much easier!

Monday, 3 March 2014

Pillow talk...

On the back of the successful make of the maids cap for the school production I was working on I got to try my skills at another type of servants cap from a different era...

After looking at some pictures from John Peacock's wonderful volume  '1066 to present day - a complete guide the English costume design and history' I got an idea of what the hat shape would have been like.

I drew out three pieces from my pillowcase... Two to make up the flat front part and the third to make the back.

The front section was sewn together right sides facing and then turned inside out.

I used my polystrene head (fondly called Twiggy Kaput - long story!) to shape the back and stuck a load of pins in it until I was satisfied that there were not going to be any holes when I got round to sewing it and that it vaguely looked historically correct!

I then sewed it together and then neatened it up... Simple as!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Now on bloglovin'...

I am still relatively new to the world of blogging but am loving every minute. It is nice to part of a community which is worlds away from my day to day life as a theatre technician, wife and mother and something I can indulge in solely for my own pleasure. I also love reading what other people have been up to and what issues they feels strongly about. For this reason I have signed up to Bloglovin'. It has been a fantastic find and a great way to keep up to date with the blogs that I love... I am now trying to link this blog to my account... And I hope that when I hit the publish button it will all work... This is more of a rambling post just to make sure the post link works ... I will be posting again this evening with another project I have been working on which, I hope will be far less rambling!!! Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Maid from pillowcases...

After starting back at the school I work at after 6 months maternity leave I was thrown back into the craziness that is a school production.

With my sewing skills I usually end up on costume which gives me the excuse to sew during the work day which is never a bad thing in my book.

One of the many challenges of this production was the fact that we had zero budget to work with. And no materials to speak of...

I discovered in the drama props cupboard (known fondly as 'The Cupboard of Doom') a couple of white pillow cases and a couple of aprons I had thrown together for a previous production so thought that those would make a good base for whatever I needed to come up with.

The play itself moves through many time periods so the costume needed to reflect that. In a couple of scenes there was the requirement for some servant costumes so that is where I started.

In 1880 the maids cap was quite small and perched on the persons head... Using part of the pillow case I had found earlier I started fashioning together some sort of head piece - sewing the fabric carefully on an ancient and clunky sewing machine!

And this was the finished result... I am currently finishing another maids headdress but for a different era ... I will post that one too when I get it done... Who would have thought that a pillowcase would make excellent headwear?
P.s I had to buy a polystrene head for this project but found it quite difficult. I recommend Amazon for this as they are certainly the cheapest by a long way...

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Crabby about cupcakes...

Amongst other things I love baking. I am not allowed to do it often as my husband says he would be the size of a small house if I was allowed to bake as much as I wanted.

However, this said, he buys me books with weird and wonderful recipes in them which makes the whole not-baking thing a little harder to do.

When we first moved up to York my husband discovered an amazing shop called 'give a dog a bone' (which can also be found in the list on the right). It sells everything for comic book lovers and those who like retro chic... It also sells the most amazing selection of books which you probably wouldn't find in your local Waterstones!

The book he bought me was 'Zombie ate my cupcake' by Lily Vanilli

The book contains recipes for cupcakes that really should be called anti-cupcakes because they don't have cute, pastel designs or pretty flower decorations... They are the cupcakes from horror stories!

The first batch I attempted were the 'crazy crabs' cakes as they had the base of red velvet cake (which is one of my favourites).

The recipe uses American measurements but there is also an English equivalent... The recipe is easy to follow although the amount of ingredients needed seems enormous... You can substitute various elements at your discretion... I didn't dye my marzipan purple but instead used a silver edible spray...

The final result was certainly pleasing... And I can't wait to see which batch I will do next!