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Friday, 30 January 2015


And some normal sized pillowcases too.
Also shortened curtains in the living room and hung some curtains on the fabric shelving in the sewing room.
Lots of progress and lots of cream thread used!

Am donating the spare bedding tomorrow!

Thursday, 29 January 2015

New square pillowcases

Having not sewn for ages I managed to make 2 square pillowcases for the big square pillows on the bed.
They are perhaps not hugely exciting but they work well with the decor and it was nice to have the machines going and to produce something useful at the end of it all.
As you might imagine I now consider myself to be on a roll and may shorten some cream curtains next!

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Bedding sort out

I pulled the excess bedding from the loft and the storage table/blanket box next to the sofa bed in the living room. There were also some spare curtains and cushion covers
I chose to keep
-   2 x kingsize bedding sets in neutrals for the double bed in the guest room.
-   2 x double bedding sets in neutrals for the sofa bed
-   1 x custom sheet and single bedding set for the small folding bed

I put all the rest for donation (3 medium sized bags). I found the more neutral bedding works better in this house/ with my current style and most of the strongly coloured or patterned bedding, curtains and cushion covers are going off to the charity shop. Hopefully they will be just the fun accent pieces someone else was looking for and will find new homes.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Wearing skirts and dresses

I have a number of skirts and dresses in the wardrobe and have to encourage myself to take the slight effort of choosing to wear them.

I am a chunky pear shape with sturdy legs. I have a few tips which might help other reluctant skirt wearers of a similar shape.

This means in the winter it is sensible for me to buy tights in size XL in the suitable dark colours I will wear - black, dark brown, dark grey, navy. It is also useful to have tall leather boots which fit my calves. I find I wear the ones with a low heel the most, and some benefit from a cushion innersole. The best skirts and dresses for winter hit just below the knee and a either straight or flared.

In summer I prefer a longer length skirt which hits at the bottom of my full calf, comfortable but slightly dressy sandals and a culotte under skirt for comfort. When shorts would be appropriate it is more flattering for me to wear a travel skirt with a silk culotte slip and walking sandals, though these days I do also wear long bermuda shorts despite having rather lumpy knees.

Friday, 23 January 2015

How much is enough? : duvets and bedding

The new king size bed for the main bedroom comes on Saturday. It will be so nice to have a really good quality bed to sleep in. I am very excited. Hopefully it will encourage me to sort through all the accumulated bedding in different sizes and decide what I need for the king size, double (in guest room), sofa bed in living room and folding bed which can go wherever. 
How much bedding do you think you need for guest beds - is one set enough or maybe two? I can't see a need for any more than that. I have a washer/dryer so can launder even in wet weather.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

City Capsule Wardrobe

Here's what I'm packing for 3 days away in London with work in the office and on training so outfits are more business casual than smart suits.
I thought it might be useful for others to see what I've packed.
1 grey/black/white tweed wool jacket
1 plain black cardigan
1 pair dark charcoal grey trousers
1 pair medium marl grey trousers
1 white shirt
1 pink shirt
1 striped shirt
1 grey knit top
black bag, black shoes, black leather gloves and black zipped raincoat with a bright scarf.
Pjs, underwear, socks, toiletries

The cardigan and jacket can be layered if cold, or worn alone with any of the tops and all the items mix and match with each other.
The shoes can be worn with all the outfits and are comfortable for walking around London.
I like to have a second bottom, and a spare of top, socks and underwear.

Now if you wanted to expand this wardrobe further you could add a couple more toning tops, a medium marl grey jacket, plain black trousers perhaps even a bright pink cashmere sweater (I have all these things but am not taking them). With some different shoes you could add a skirt and dress as well and lots more combinations become available to you.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Choose what to keep, not what to get rid of


Choose what to keep, not what to get rid of

I liked that thought

Merging that with the principal about keeping the best/most used where there are duplicates from Bridgette Raes

These were my options when I wanted brown footwear to wear with an outfit. I decided to keep the items on the left and donate the ones on the right.
The boots at top left have a shorter and wider ankle area so are easier to get on and more comfortable to wear, they also don't have the distressed look of the right hand ones so are smarter for work.
The shoes at the bottom left are sleeker and can be worn with a skirt or with trousers. The ones on the right due to the straps look a bit frumpy on me especially with skirts and have very thin soles which means walking across a gravelled parking area is uncomfortable.
I applied the same sort of approach to my black shoes. Definite progress!

Thursday, 15 January 2015

More work on the wardrobe

I hung some more clothes which I would wear in Spring Summer (lighter colouring mostly) up on the rail in the loft with the other summer items I moved earlier, plus the brown with orange items which say Autumn to me. I will look at them when the appropriate seasons come and donate anything that's not working for me. My style is definitely evolving to something which is slightly less colourful/patterned so it will be interesting what I think when we get to April.

I now have the suits and jacket outfits back in one wardrobe, shirts/blouses, date night and special occasion up one end of the other. The mismatched trousers, skirts and jackets are now on the rail for attention.

I've put quite a few things I wasn't wearing in the donation pile including 1 pair of boots and 6 pairs of shoes. I had bought new boots/shoes in the last year and just not got rid of the ones which were less comfortable/suitable. I also decided to donate some tan wool pants which I have really struggled to make work. I have some similar dark brown ones which work better with my colouring, so will launder and donate the tan ones, and hopefully someone with dark blonde hair will enjoy them.

I mended the skirt which is part of a black skirt suit with cream piping trim, it had a little section at the bottom of the zip which had come undone. I have a skirt and a pair of trousers which need the waistbands altering which are waiting in the sewing room.

Question: One of the pairs of trousers in the donation pile are me-made and have a black invisible zip. These are quite expensive to buy. Is it worth me harvesting the zip from them do you think?

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Wardrobe Colour Palette

I've made this little palette of colours which I will keep in the wardrobe.
The orange and brown tones are probably going to get stored up in the loft on the hanging rail until next Autumn, somehow in Dec-Feb I don't pick those colours as much as during the Sep-Nov period.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

More wardrobe sorting

Having taken a few suits out of the wardrobe and put them on the rack the two areas of hanging space still looked quite full. So I decided to research a few different approaches on culling the wardrobe.

The most helpful for me have been at Bridgette Raes and there were a few points that I picked out as I read the various posts.

- avoid duplication, when culling ask if there is something you like better that fills the spot.

An example for me is I bought some new dark brown chelsea boots to wear with my dark brown based trouser outfits. The new ones are really comfortable with a short and fairly wide ankle section and are going to be the ones I always pick. This meant I could let go of some older chelsea boots in a distressed style which have a taller tighter ankle and are less smart as well as less comforable. I could also release some brown mary janes which looked quite frumpy. I will always pick the new boots over these other two items.

- realistically look at your life and consider how many days you have to wear this type of item.

I have a formal office job with lots of meetings. I have therefore lots of opportunities for smart pant suits with a shirt type outfits, also co-ordinated suits and dress and jacket options. I can dress down on Fridays. My weekends and holidays tend to be very casual using lots of Craghoppers hiking/travel clothing. I have a few special occasions, and a few date nights. I don't have much place in my life for busines casual type clothing.
So lets say, in one 4 week month I have 16 fairly smart business wear days, I have 4 dress down Fridays, I might have 2 casual social occasions and 1 more formal one, 8 weekend casual days and weekend casual evenings (I often change when I get in from work).
16 - smart business wear
8 - very casual wear
4 - dress down Fridays
2 - casual social occasions
1 - smart social occasion

So this says to me that about half my wardrobe should be smart work clothing based around suits, jackets etc. Also unless I wear my business casual on a Friday, it doesn't have much place in my life.


So the next thing I am going to do is pull out 16 smart business outfits to keep and see how much of a dent that makes!

Wardrobe sorting not sewing

I've got my Ikea Mulig clothes rack up and am ready to have a good sort through the wardrobe.
Let's hope I can release the things I'm not wearing.

Anyone got any good strategies for this sort of thing?

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

A Black Wardrobe with Accessories

Over on The Vivienne Files Janice is taking a plain black wardrobe and accessorising for different imagined women. Its a fascinating process and I wondered what it would look like if I tried several sets of accessories.

Now I must admit I do not usually wear all black since there are lots of other things in the world you can wear instead, but I do have several black dresses I have sewn myself, so I decided I would accessorise this one from Vogue 2989.
I've picked 6 choices, and would probably also wear low heel black leather knee high boots, custom made to my calf width than the shoes pictured.
First up with my favourite pashmina style scarf, I've shown it with some red/black earrings but actually would probably pick up the rich amber or pink tones instead. I love this scarf so much and often wear it with my various winter coats which are black, dark brown, navy and dark purple to give a lift of colour near my face.
My second choice is oversized pearls. I often wear pearls because their soft off white lustre is very flattering. However I find it works best for me if everything is a little oversized. The biggest beads in this necklace are really quite large and the brooch is several inches across. Somehow the size makes it deliberate rather than twee.
The third option is this wonderful 'old-gold' coloured bag, necklace, bracelet and simple stud earrings. This is an absolutely fabulous metallic for me as this bronzy colour is not too shiny, but still has plenty of richness and warmth. In fact I need to find some summer sandals in this colour as they would be so great with lots of my wardrobe.
The fourth option is a more classic gold tone and uses my favourite motif, leaves. I doodle leaves in margins and buy things with them on. I particuarly wear this set with dark brown. The necklace and earrings are inexpensive high street buys but the brooch was inherited from my late grandmother and is very precious to me.
This 5th option is mother of pearl. The earrings purchased with silver frames, but the necklace I made myself stringing a pot of tiny pearl beads with the beads from a much shorter broken necklace. This is a great set to just drape round the neck at go, and works especially well with turtlenecks.
This final set is various items from Fluke Jewellery in Orkney. These are exceedingly special pieces which were all gifts and I love the way the whale fluke necklace, starfish earrings and eagle ray brooch can all be worn together or separately. The ray can also be worn as a necklace.

Anyway I hoped you enjoyed my take on what I would wear with an all black outfit. Maybe my Vogue 2989 dress will get out a bit more now.

Thanks Ruthie

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

No sewing at all, but some other stuff and some planning

Today I didn't manage any sewing, though I did set up my new digital recorder for the TV without any assistance which gave me a few 'girl power' happy moments.
I also moved some more things out of the main bedroom so there will be space for the new carpet to go down on Friday.

Sewing wise I could really do with a list of things I wish I had in my wardrobe and then actually sew them.
A few have occured to me so I will start a document on my computer as I'm less likely to write a shopping list on the back of that!

List is started, but I'm keeping it to myself for now. It includes nightwear, altering a lot of curtains and a few knit tops, one jacket and one pair of trousers so far. Anyway let's see how it goes.

Monday, 5 January 2015

A bit of sewing

Today I shortened the curtains in the study/guest room so they don't drag onto the radiator under the window.
They do look better.

I also took down the Christmas decorations.
Maybe next year I'll put fewer up.

That's all folks!

Sunday, 4 January 2015

House progress

Ordered new king size bed for the main bedroom yesterday, so decided it should also get new carpet which is being fitted on Friday. The local roll end shop had a light neutral wool berber carpet at a really good price which I was happy about, since the current carpet is quite tired.

I got on and moved the existing double bed through to the Study/Guest room where it does fit, though not with loads of excess space.

The new bed will take about 4-5 weeks to come, but the carpet fitter was keen to come sooner rather than later, so looks like I'll be sleeping in the back room for quite a few weeks. I don't see the point in moving the old bed back after the carpet is fitted.

I have it made up with clean bedding, plus my alarm clock and a bedside light ready for bed time tonight.
At least if I sleep in there for a month I can be sure it will really work for guests.
I'm going to get my grandmother's teasmade out and try letting it make my morning cuppa, then straight into the shower, rather than going downstairs to make tea first thing as I'm hoping it might speed up my mornings a bit. We shall see.

The guest room decor is evolving based on what stuff I have that fits. Lots of white/cream/silver/light wood, a touch of dark brown and some gold in the curtains. I have a three part canvas of autumn leaves that will work over the bed plus various items in black frames I want to arrange artistically on the opposite wall. The current office chair is a clashing bright green and a bit big, so am looking for something smaller - the Ikea JULES swivel chair looks quite appropriate.
I can always wheel it out of the room if its a bit cramped for guests.
updated to add I found a single white folding chair in the conservatory thats works fine in there, so will use that instead and save my money.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Ideas for using Fabric Scraps?

I am looking for ways to use up various fabric scraps in items I can sell at charity craft events locally or give as small gifts. I want to avoid buying anything extra if at all possible, so I am not out of pocket when I give all the proceeds to the charity.

My recent makes as gifts or for the charity craft fairs have been
- cushions
- aprons (full)
- scarves (loop style)
- shopping bags
- stitched Christmas cards

I am thinking of doing
- plastic bag holder
- gift wrap holder
- half aprons
- minature owls
- minature bears
- stuffed hearts
- bunting
- draught excluders
- shoe bags
- laundry bags
- boiled wool slippers
- fleece scarves
- Christmas stockings

Are there any other ideas out there? Links to tutorials would be particularly appreciated.

2015 Goals: Progress

I've moved 7 boxes of sewing related items (mostly fabric) up into the loft area.

I've also constructed an Ikea hanging rail in the loft, and moved my summer clothing up there to hang from the rail. The garments are grouped together and each group covered with a clear plastic bag to act as a dust cover. These are hanging items such as jackets, blouses and skirts. My tee shirts, sandals, and casual summer items were already up there in storage bags.
When I get to April and the weather warms up I'll bring the items down, try everything on, decide what I will keep for the coming season and donate the rest.
Hopefully it will also highlight the new items I need for summer. However for now it has removed the noise and should make the all season/winter wardrobe sort out easier to do.

I also have a new donation box on the go and have already added a few items into it.

I need to have a marathon ironing session now, so I can get all my nice shirts back into circulation.
I have ordered some non iron work shirts from Charles Tyrwhitt in the sale which replace a silk blouse which ripped on the sleeve seam and a striped cotton shirt which shrank slightly and had always been a pain to iron.
These are semi-fitted shirts, so have a little shaping without being extreme, so I hope will work well for me. If they do I shall keep an eye out for other suitable non iron shirts from CT in future.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy New Year

Last year I managed a SWAP and a few other things, made lots of small crafty items and the big achievement was buying my own little house.

New Year is traditionally time for New Year Resolutions, but I think I'll have more success if I have Goals which I work towards.

I think my main goal this year is to deal with my backlog of stuff in a methodical manner.
- Give away to local charity shops things which I don't use which could be used by others.
- Sell a few higher value items I don't use.
- Throw away/recycle some of the old stuff that I just need to get rid of and which can't be used by others.
- Use up some of my supplies, particularly sewing and crafty type stuff.
- Store the things I do love and use in an easily accessible manner

I recently had the sleeve split on a very worn silk blouse and the back seam rip open on some very old PJ pants. I also have lots of under things which are exceedingly worn and tired looking. This is the year those things are getting thrown out and replaced with a smaller number of nicer ones.

A secondary goal is to set up my teeny study/guest room so it is usable and welcoming as a guest room and invite a few of my more distant friends and relations to come and stay should they so wish.

So in order to break it down I am going to set a 3 month milestone when I will review my progress and see what I have achieved between today and the end of March.

- I will donate, throw out or use up something for every day of the week. This may be something I do each day or may be once each week covering several things, depending on my schedule.
- I will get my guest room ready before the end of March and send some invitations out to the friends and relatives who wanted to come to stay, but I could not accommodate earlier.
- I will sort through my paperwork daily if possible, and weekly if not, and set up an ongoing schedule to manage my diary and finances.
- I will do something to enhance my home every month (as a minimum) e.g. touch up paintwork, shorten curtains to properly fit windows etc