Sewing Saturday

We’ve had weeks and weeks of blazing hot sunshine till even us poor Vitamin D-deprived people were starting to feel  that sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. The lawns are brown, parched and crunch like cornflakes. Dandelions are noticeable for the absence of their fairy seedheads. There’s a hosepipe ban…. then Friday night and most of yesterday, the rains came down. They pelted and poured down upon us the most glorious, beautiful rain. After each deluge there was that delicious petrichor smell pervading the air.

I dashed into town in the morning. Something was going on – a big bunch of guys were congregated to do something public (with enough collective facial hair to stuff a sofa – beardies are very fashionable here at the moment) but missed the display as I wanted to get home and not get too wet and squelchy in the rain. Got a few bits, got back and spent the afternoon drowning out the sound of Mr T and his powersaw by half-watching episodes of Harlots, then Shogun and their Itchywahs and Quality Street sweetie-wrap costumes while doing some sewing.

Mr T has started on the backroom. After ripping up the old carpet (which was glued to the underlay – wtf???) he’d found the flooring (panels of MDF) had been cut out and patched up when the central heating had been installed many, many years ago. We’d realised something was wrong when a couple of areas around the edge of the room had given way. First thoughts were of rot and Nooooo! The flooring hadn’t been screwed down to the joists below but nailed down using a variety of lengths and thicknesses. The nails had rusted and there’d been a leak from the radiator at some point which had softened the mdf at that time. For info, this room was originally a garage so it was a conversion (found a newspaper dated 1972 under the floor) and had the floor given way there wouldn’t have been a drop of more than a few inches as there’s solid concrete floor beneath.

So Mr T ripped up the MDF and bought new floor panels, shored up the supporting joists and screwed down the new ones. He’s done a brilliant job. It’s now solid as a rock. But the day was one of drilling, sawing and banging. My head.

Next comes the decorating. On the Friday we had more electrical sockets fitted so the walls need some plastering here and there to smooth them out, then we need to paint ceiling, walls, doors and skirting boards. Next week the laminate flooring will go down and finally the stuff in the living room can be installed in there. The futon and mattress for the back room, new and boxed up (bought early because it was on a special deal and saved about €85 about 2 months ago…) along with tons of other stuff to be moved back. The skip bag on the drive will be collected next week and make the front of the house look tidy again. We’re finally getting there and I’m as happy as a hedgehog with a new hat!

My living room, that has looked like Paddy’s Market for months now, will soon be cleared out. I was looking at photos of the room at Christmas and was stunned at how uncluttered and spacious it looked and can’t wait for next week to start clearing and cleaning up. And maybe start going places again. It’s been nothing but Woodies, Home Base and B & Q for what seems like always! That said, we have a bedroom to put new flooring down and wardrobe doors to install… and paint the landing and stairs and get new carpet for… and eventually, the kitchen…. So it’s not over until it’s over! But we’re getting there and I’m going to enjoy each lovely room, one at a time!

Anyway, back to the sewing. I ran up a cushion for the rocking chair that will go in the back room. The fabric is very Scandi style and should complement the decor nicely. It’s a big feather-filled cushion so lovely and squashy.

I finished off a little needle case I’ve been tiddling with for a few weeks. The colours are nice and juicy! It’s Aida fabric that’s usually bought for cross stitch with DMC embroidery floss (3 strands).  I tacked a length of wadding behind it and then sewed on some backing fabric. Just needs a little square of wadding stitched inside for the needles and finally ladder stitch the open end to close it up.

You can see the lining fabric here. Sweet and ditsy.

Want to see my drawers?

I found these drawers in a charity shop a long time ago now. €5, I think. The drawer runners were busted but otherwise the piece was in great shape. Mr T replaced the runners (made them with wood) and I painted them with Rustoleum chalk paint. They were finished off with a waxing and light rubbing – not quite distressed, maybe more like a little irritation.

Anyway, Sunday duties and time to get the dinner on!

Salt Dough

Guess who found the remains of a batch of salt dough wrapped up in the fridge a couple of days ago? I was going through the fridge and doing a big clear out, checking expiry dates and salad veg squidginess, and found a mysterious package at the back of the salad drawer. It was well wrapped in cling film and baking foil. It turned out to be the left over salt dough from when I made a kettle ornament (Salt Dough Kettle).  It had gone a bit wet and sticky so I added more plain flour until it became more pastry-like and used it up making decorative pears, apples, hearts and stars. Small circles were indented in the dough using straws, holes were pricked using the end of a knitting needle and lines were made using a butter knife. The ones in the picture are baked but not painted. The ones that got painted are not posted… Flupped them up good and proper by painting with water colours and overworking them. The surface became sticky and the details got rubbed and blurred. Meh. Could have kicked myself.

As crafts go, salt dough is very easy. You can cut out shapes with biscuit (cookie) cutters or draw round templates. Cereal boxes make for sturdy templates. Salt dough takes a good while to dry – mine were in the oven for some 16 hours on its lowest temperature. Obviously, the thicker the dough, the longer the baking time.

They can also be microwaved; I’ve tried microwaving and had mixed results but always with some surface puffing, buckling and cracking. (See Salt Dough Hearts and Salt Dough Microwave Method).  Sometimes, the cracking suits the project but there are times you might want a smoother surface to work on.

Salt Dough:

2 cups of flour to 1 of salt. Add a tbs of dry wallpaper paste as well to help prevent mold and make the dough more pliable if you have some.

Mix with water until it becomes pastry-like then roll it out and cut it into shapes.

You can create all sorts of things and hang them up afterwards – just make a hole so you can insert cord or wire to hang them from – or, insert some bent wire into the raw dough (wet the ends of the wire with a thickish flour and water mixture ‘glue’ then insert the wire into the piece) and bake the mount with the dough. If you’re feeling ambitious or imaginative there are numerous hints and tips from the internet mavens – Google and you will get!

Basic instructions:

  1. Place on a baking tray in the oven on its lowest setting until the dough is thoroughly dry. Tap the back of the shapes – they should sound ‘hollow’. Try pressing the back – if there’s any yield in the piece it needs further drying in the oven time.
  2. Paint and let them dry – bone dry!
  3. Coat with a varnish – floor, ship or spray varnish, whatever is easiest and cheapest to find, to seal the dough. If you don’t seal them moisture will get in and they will eventually crumble or go mouldy.

Pear templates:

If you fancy sewing some pears there’s a template and tutorial here for you.

Free Paper Beads Template

Paper beads have been around forever and are simple to make. A few supplies and you’re good to go. There are free patterns all over the net, all similar to the pattern here. I’m giving you an SVG template. I have a project that could use a few paper beads and hope I can get round to taking some pictures and posting the results. I have made them before though and they always turn out very sweet.

1. Cut out your templates with thin paper (magazines are good – or plain paper if you want to paint them yourself ).

2. Dab some glue onto a cocktail stick / straw/ knitting needle (this all depends on how big you want your beads to be and how wide your template strips are) and stick to the widest edge  of your template.

3. Wrap round and round (dab a little more glue every few turns) until all the paper has been wound up and is securely stuck down.

4. Coat them with a layer of Modge Podge or varnish and leave to dry.

Now have fun!  Slip them off or cut the straws, etc and thread them onto ribbon, twine, string, etc to make jewellery or beaded curtains or bead bunting….

Cheap as chips to make and loads of fun!