Archive for June, 2012


(Note that the pockets very neatly fit a Peter Rabbit – it may have something to do with it).

This jacket now has the peanut butter badge of proof of wear.


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I had already learned my lesson, really, with the zigzag pants, the tweed pants and the bat costume. Now I have this little coat to add to my list of Rata-rejects, AKA “Rata is her own person now, stop trying to smother her with your own style.” The catch was that I had cut this pattern out over a year ago when I had the loan of an overlocker, and realizing that the pattern is a size 3 and it was now or never, I spent last Sunday sewing it up.

This is View 3, and although I had no idea what I was doing with those pocket welts (hence the dodgy one on the right) I think I coped okay with the vintage pattern instructions. The lining fabric is probably from the 80s, the wool with silver lurex from the 60s, the buttons came from Rata’s great-grandmother’s button jar.

Now I’d like one in my size, please. It’s actually quite big ¬†on her anyway so there’s plenty of time for her to suddenly want to wear it as often as the strawberry dress. Given the perverse nature of children and their whack internal thermostat, this will be in the height of summer. So long as I get a picture of it I’m okay with that.

But as for the aforementioned tweed pants:

And bat costume:

A furry little hat went with it too, and the dress was another vintage pattern with the collar from the coat pattern tacked on (and the dress worn with the zip at the front). She was the cutest 60s Mod bat in the history of the world. I’m sure she will thank me later.

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Other ‘finished’ things

Sometimes Louis and I have small battles over my enthusiasm for new things, and how many unfinished things are floating around. It’s true, I do have a lot of ideas (and that is only getting worse since I ‘discovered’ Pinterest – caved, more like) and I do enthusiastically start a lot of things, and a sad number of them reach a certain point… and then I quietly hide them from sight and start something else. We in the industry refer to these things as UFO’s (unfinished objects). They do have their uses – sometimes it’s really nice to pull one out of the cupboard and have something finished in ten minutes, but mostly they like to torment me too. Often I have taken them as far as my abilities will take them, and I must simply wait for a wave of inspiration before I can work out how to resolve it. But I will admit that a lot of the time it is just evaporated enthusiasm, or my irrational fear of button holes getting the better of me.

But given my recent enthusiasms for MORE new things (rental blues will turn a lady into a house-buying optomist of the worst DIY disaster prone kind, even I am taking this latest enthusiasm with a pinch of salt, and yes, Pinterest is not helping with my runaway imagination) I thought I should finish some stuff. So…

This dress! It only took me four months to put the button hole in. I even bought some fabric specifically for the purpose of making these to sell, in different colourways and a range of sizes. I still plan to do that… ha!

And a lampshade. These aerial photographs are something I’ve had lying around for years and it’s nice to do something like this with them finally. But while I like the concept I do not particularly care for the craftmanship here. I need stronger backing for it, and better glue. Faced with crap glue I did what any sane person would do – blanket stitch. It’ll do until I work out how to do it properly. At least it’s not sitting around half-done, right Louis?

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… so that would explain where I’ve been! I re-covered this chair I have only had for about seven years (though it did have some holidays at my mum’s house). I went a little bit mental on the home front, mostly due to a severe bout of rental blues in this freezing cold house (turns out I am allergic to gas heaters). And when you have the rental blues it would seem the best thing for it is to have a stab at the things you CAN change. So, shabby little chair, you have scrubbed up very well. If I do say so myself. It all started with this:

Bertie and I spent a lively afternoon with a bottle of meths and some ‘Steelo’ pads at Louis’ mums’ house scrubbing the shellac off her mantlepiece. Her house is filled with beautiful native timbers stained to look like mahogany as per the fashion of the 1950s (my guess). When I came home I looked at this chair and thought, maybe all that ugly dark varnish will come off with a bit of meths and Steelo too…

The seat itself turned out to be very easy to extract from it’s frame – two screws at the back and two nails at the front. It was interesting to see how faded the fabric had become – I always liked the pattern of the green, which is probably why I had put up with its rattiness for so long.

It was never a particularly comfortable chair, and I have to admit here that I didn’t really know what I was doing and therefore have not improved on its levels of comfort. I simply tacked the new fabric over the top. But I did pause to reinforce these corners where the frame was poking out of the front of the seat.

There were a lot of pins involved, a lot of furniture tacks, and then some nice blanket stitches around the edge of the seat (and eventually on the back as I wasn’t so pleased with how the fabric was sitting between tacks).

Getting the varnish off the frame was beastly and it was not a pretty sight, hence the lack of photos. I used a combination of ‘goldilocks’ scouring pads (to get the worst off), the finer steelo scouring pads, lots of methylated spirits and BRUTE FORCE. (Music helped too). Then I sanded it down and used something from a tin that Louis said was ‘dutch oil’ but in fact I did not look at what it said on the tin. You apply it liberally with a cloth, rub it in and smooth any drips, wait for it to dry and do a few more coats like that. In some places the oil hasn’t really taken but on the whole it looks a lot nicer than it did before. All up it probably took about ten hours – I covered the seat in a morning with the usual interruptions of tea breaks and hanging out the washing (though Rata was out, I might add) and several attempts at getting off the varnish did add up a bit.

The fabric I used is some wool I found a few years ago at the opshop – it’s a lovely pattern and I wanted to make a dress with it but it is just too scratchy for a garment. I have enough left over to make a skirt with… usually I match Rata but could it be time to match the decor instead? Watch this space!

(Actually, don’t. You know me. I still haven’t finished that chips dress).

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