Sewing with Streeeetchy Material

Well, I’m addicted to the overlocker machine, or serger as some people call it. It makes sewing with stretchy material a doddle. I can whip up a tee shirt in a few hours now.

I’ve  made a 2 short sleeved t- shirts, 2 long sleeved t- shirts and almost a dress. Oh and a Barbie skirt with Nell!

 

The threading of the overlocker takes a while but once it’s threaded, it’s not often that you need to re- do it. It sits on top of my sewing table so I don’t need to put it away each time I use it. I now have both machines side by side on the table and can go between the two, when necessary.

I have also learnt to use a twin needle in my sewing machine which is used to finish neck edges and hems. It runs a double edge of top stitching making it look neat and professional. Underneath it does a zig zag stitch so suitable for stretch fabrics.

All the the garments I  have made on the ovelocker so far, have been made with cotton jersey. I have yet to try other types of stretch fabrics but I will have a go. I want to make a sweatshirt/hoodie next.

The sewing patterns I have used are the Lark Tee by Grainline Studios and the Joni Dress and Baseball Tee from the Tilly and the Buttons Stretch Book. The most fiddly bit on the T- Shirts is the neck band. I watched a couple of You Tube videos and have now got the hang of it, but my top-stitching could be improved so I am going to practise before I do anymore.

 

The Joni Dress has a twisted bodice which I thought would be complicated. It was, but I managed to do it and am pleased with the result.

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Sewing the seams using the overlocker is sooo satisfying. Sewing, neatening and trimming in one press of the foot. It’s brilliant!

The Joni Dress is nearly done and I will definately make another for the summer.

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What’s going on in the greenhouse in May?

It’s all coming along nicely, so far!

Flowers

Marigolds – I have grown these from seed to use as companion plants to the tomatoes. They appear to keep the bugs away so I will carry on doing it.

Love in a Mist – I grew some purple ones last year and as they are annuals I have grown some more. They germinate easily and look nice at the front of the border

Rudbeckia – I decided to have a go at a really bright colourful variety but unfortunately not many have germinated.

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Alyssum

When we were in Spain, there were loads of these in the beachside board walk beds. I didn’t realise how lovely they smell, so I have sown some pink and white ones for the front of the pink/blue border.

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Cosmos – these always look good and last throughout the summer. These are pink to go in my pink/blue border.

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Herbs

Basil – we love basil so I grow a lot for the scent, the flowers and to use in pesto and salads.

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Coriander – i fins that coriander bolts quickly do i he decided to grow successively in trays and use it whilst it’s young  and small, like a micro herb.

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Fennel – I love seeing tall fennel in flower borders, so have decided to try and grow some for the flowers and for cooking.

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Parsely

Use parsley a fair bit so always try to grow some. It does also bolt if it gets dry but I will give it a go anyway.

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Vegetables

Lettuce

We are trying a bit of an experiment with lettuce. Our dentist is a very keen gardener and he grows them in the greenhouse rather than outside. That way they don’t get eaten by the birds or slugs. So far, it’s a success, we snip off the leaves we want as we want them. I will sow some more over the next few weeks so we have a succession.

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Tomatoes – this year I am growing Alicante, a tried and tested variety. They all germinated and I have potted some up but have lots left to either give away or plant outside.

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Aubergines – the 3 organic aubergine plants I bought, are looking really healthy. I really hope they perform. I have potted  them on a couple of times but they are not yet in their final pots.

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Sweet Peppers – the 3 organic plants I ordered arrived last week. I have potted them on to develop before putting them in their final post in the greenhouse.

Butternut Squash

We’ve grown these for the past couple of years. We don’t get a huge crop but the ones we do get are very sweet and buttery. All the seeds germinated and are growing well. We’ll wait until the plants are about 6 inches tall before we plant them outside in bags against a warm wall.

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What’s happening in the rest of the garden?

 

The lawn may look a bit sad but there are some lovely spring flowers and plants in the garden just now.

I’ve finally got round to continuing with the woodland garden. Some of the plants I put in in the autumn like the hostas, bluebells, ferns and solomon seal have started to grow now. Unfortunately they are in desperate need of some rain to give them a boost.

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Bluebells

I’ve planted a honeysuckle to grow up the dead tree. We decided not to have it felled in the end and to keep it as a habitat for wildlife.

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I’ve pulled up a lot of weeds and left anything that looks like a wildflower. We’ve moved the compost bins out of site now and used the compost and  leftover soil to mulch around the trees.

The next thing I need to do is to make the path. I want it to meander round the trees. I am planning to make the shape and then just add bark for now.

The herb, vegetable and and flower seeds I sowed are coming on. I have pricked out some of the bigger ones like the tomatoes and basil and put them into to small pots to grow on. The lettuce I am growing in the greenhouse  is growing well and slug free.

We have some pesky critters ruining our lawn!

When we came back from Spain, our lawn was in a terrible state and looked like something had been digging underneath it. It was all bumpy and it was threadbare in places. The lawn keeper truly believed that someone had been in and sabotaged it, as it looked so bad! This picture was taken today so you can see what a state it’s in!

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Eventually after much research on the inter web, we discovered that it must be leather jacket grubs which are the caterpillars from crane flies.

I always assumed they were harmless creatures, which I think they are, but their offspring can decimate a lawn in a couple of months.

Apparently the eggs are laid in the lawn in the Autumn and then hatch out early spring. That’s when they chew up the lawn and eat the roots. This is then followed by the birds and squirrels pecking at the lawn to eat the grubs which makes it even worse.

We have seen the grubs on the patio but didn’t know what they were. They look revolting as you can see.

 

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It seems that there are no pesticides that you can use to get rid of them. You have to resort to wetting the lawn, covering it in black plastic, wait for them to rise to the top and them pick them up!! Well, him indoors has said he won’t be doing that. I feel really bad for him as he takes great pride in the lawn and has spent many hours scarifying, aerating, over seeding, watering, mowing and weed killing the blessed stuff and to have a load of ugly grubs undo all your work is soul destroying.

We’ve now discovered that you can buy a biological control to help get rid of them. It’s a nematode which you water into the lawn. It’s safe and environmentally friendly. So we’ve ordered some and are going to give it a go.

 

 

 

 

Eek I’ve bought an Overlocker

I’ve been reading all about overlocker or serger machines. They used them on the Sewing Bee and they are referred to a lot when sewing with stretch fabrics. Buying one had been on my wish list for a while but I was waiting for the right moment. It came when someone on the Sewing Bee Facebook page said that they were on Amazon, as Deal of the Day. I did a quick bit of research and decided to go for it as it had £50 off.

I ordered it on Monday and it arrived on Wednesday. My first impression was – it’s a scary piece of kit. All that thread and all that threading through lots of loops and things!

Well, I’ve watched the DVD and a couple of You Tube videos today and I’ve managed to set it up and have a practice go. So 😛 to you Mark. He was expecting me to cry for help. Being the stubborn old woman I am, I managed to do it without his help. Hooray – I’m not brain dead after all. I was expecting the set up to take all day and be quite frustrated but I was pleasantly surprised.

So now I have to try it out on a sewing project. I decided to thread it with black thread so I need to find something dark coiloured to sew 🤪. I have a lot of the cranberry jersey left that I made the Lark Tee out of so I am going to try a long sleeved version I think.

I am also going to make the Joni Dress featured in the Tilly and the Buttons Stretch Book

I bought  some lovely floral cotton jersey from Guthrie and Ghani and I am going to make the Joni Dress out of that. And that means I will have to re – thread it with white thread 🥴

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The Lander Shorts

I’m late to the party but I’ve made a pair of Lander Shorts. The pattern is made by True Bias, a pattern maker I have only just discovered. I have seen and heard loads of mentions for this pattern so I thought I would give it a go. I wasn’t sure if it was suitable for an older person – me – but I looked at the makes on Instagram and there’re were some other mature ladies wearing them so decided I would join the party. The pattern appealed to me as it had Some neat details like a button fly and belt loops. I have never made either of those before.

After reading a few sewing blogs and some comments on Instagram, I decided I would try using a ‘toile’ before I started.  In all my years of sewing I have never done this. Basically, it’s making a practice garment out of cheap fabric so that you get the fit right before using your expensive fabric. As I had forked out for some rather nice linen from Guthrie and Ghani  I decided this would be a good idea. I used an old cream coloured cotton curtain lining for the toile. I made up a size 16 after measuring all my bits. When I made the basic toile (without the pockets but with the button fly – to practice)  it gaped a bit a the back of the waist so I knew I should increase the waist dart sizes on the final garment and that should do it.  The rest of it fitted ok.

So I cautiously cut out my fabric – as usual I had far too much! As the linen has stripes I was careful to make sure that they ran the right way. They are very thin strips so I didn’t need to worry about lining up the stripes to match, on this occasion.

I told myself, I would not hurry so that I would not make too many mistakes. My new sewing machine had a variable speed switch so I keep it at slow to slow me down 🤪

The instructions are in a small booklet, with pictures, and they are very clear and understandable. They are much better than the traditional patterns and paper instructions which need folding and flipping repeatedly to find where you are.

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After watching the Sewing Bee and Lauren from Guthrie and Ghani’s You Tube videos I have updated my sewing kit a bit.

I have bought a pair of rotary scissors, some glass pins and a metal measuring gauge. I also want some of those weights the Sewing Bee sewists use, instead of pins and have tried out the concept with some magnetic board holders. The pretty weights are quite expensive and you need quite a few, so they will have to wait a while.

I hate doing buttonholes (not quite as much as I hate putting zips in) as I get a bit flustered as to the exact positioning of them. It’s easier with my new machine but it still worries me. It’s not easy unpicking one when it’s wrong! I managed in the end, though and they are not perfect but they are okay and functional.

I lined the pockets with a scrap of material I had leftover from making Nells jumpsuit. I loved doing the belt loops, it makes the whole thing look so professional.

I staggered the making over a few days so I wouldn’t rush it and as usual pressed as I went along. It makes the whole process much easier.

I finally finished them yesterday and I’m really pleased with them and very proud of myself. It’s made me confident to have a go at the trousers now. They are high waisted and a comfortable fit. I can now see what all the chatter was about. I would have added a picture of me wearing them but as it was -1 this morning it will have to wait.

 

Springing back to the Garden

I have been doing a lot of work in the garden to get it ready for the Spring and Summer.

I spring cleaned the greenhouse – the little toad I saw in the autumn in there was still alive and kicking! I shall let him eat any slugs that dare to go in there! 

I bought all the dahlias out of hibernation and planted them all in pots and watered them and put them in my cold frame until the frosts have finished. 

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I bought the agapanthus out of the garage where they had been sleeping over winter and  watered them. The white ones have started sprouting new leaves already. One of the blue ones bust out of its pot so, as I hadn’t got a large enough pot to re pot it I decided to split it in 2. Not as easy as it sounds. I was laughing to myself as I got the saw to it, I must have looked fairly comical. It nearly beat me but I finally managed to cut it into 2 and pot up into 2 pots. I am going to give one to lovely sister Angie for her new garden. 

The compost that had been keeping the dahlias snug I spread over the garden as a mulch,

I showed some vegetable seeds  – they are getting started in the office over the radiator and then I will transfer to the greenhouse. 

  • Chillis
  • Tomatoes
  • Lettuce 
  • Dill
  • Basil
  • Coriander

 

3C17945E-894E-48B1-BB39-14DE1390460AI pulled out loads of oxygenator plants from the pond. I have the balance right now and the water is clear but I there is just too much in there. I left the excess on the side of the pond overnight to let any wildlife return to the water, before putting the rest on the compost.D5E867DB-8374-4F56-90CC-F9909B02FA33

I sowed some flower seeds too:

They should all be ok in the cold greenhouse, I think!

  • Love in a mist
  • Rudbeckia
  • Zinnia
  • Cosmos

The vegetable plot is looking a bit sad. The only thing in there is some garlic.

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We have started to chit the potatoes and will be planting them in sacks as we did last year, very successfully.

I have ordered some aubergine and sweet pepper plants as I haven’t been very successful growing them from seed.

The woodland garden has come to life but I need to do some tidying. We have the path and fences and new compost heaps to do.

At this time of the year it’s all go!

Spring Capsule Wardrobe Update

So we are back home from Spain,  and I have now put together my Spring capsule wardrobe. I have decided to use navy as my base and used red, teal and mustard as my accent colours. I haven’t had to buy much as I had a few items in my stored clothes. I bought  a few t- shirts and I have made a pair of mustard coloured casual trousers. I used the Tilly and the Buttons Marigold pattern and used Dashwood Studios Soirée Ochre Cherry Blossom Viscose Fabric fabric from Guthrie and Ghani

So this what’s in the Spring capsule

Coats/Jackets/Gilets

Red Jacket – old

Ivory Trench Jacket – old

Navy Blazer – bought second hand on EBay last year

Red fleece gilet – bought last in Autum

Tops -Blouses/T Shirts/Tunics

White long sleeve T – old

White T’s – 1 old and 1 new

Mustard T – New

Light Teal T – New

Navy and White striped long sleeved T – bought last season

Mustard floral top – I made this whilst I was in Spain

White linen top – old

Teal jumper – bought for Winter capsule

Trousers/Jeans/Skirts

Red Jeans – bought for Autumn

Blue Jeans – bought in Autumn

Blue Trousers  p- bought last Spring

White Trousers – old

Mustard Trousers – New

Denim Skirt – bought last Spring

Blue leggings – old

Dresses

Blue, Teal and Red – New made in Spain

Chambray sleeveless dress – made last Summer

Shoes/Boots/Sandals

Red sling backs – gifted from sister

Blue brogues – old

White plimsoles – New

Blue Slip ons – old

Accessories- bags, belts, scarves, jewellery

Mustard crossover bag – present

Blue, Teak and Mustard scarf – bought in Winter

Jewellery – I went through what I had and found a few matching pieces

So all in all a cheap capsule this time.

 

10 things we learnt in Spain

After spending 2 months in Estepona it’s time to reflect on what we learnt in our time there. We had a very relaxing time but it also gave us time to do things we wouldn’t necessarily do at home, like thinking instead of doing 🙂

So here’s some of the things we learnt :

1. We can speak a bit more Spanish 

We continued to learn Spanish by completing 10 minutes a day of the free Duolingo online course everyday. We also used what we knew when shopping, ordering food and meeting people. We learnt more words from shops, signs, listening to people etc

2.Barking dogs get on your nerves

The sound of barking dogs is commonplace in Estepona. It seems that everybody has a dog or five.  They appear to be more guard dogs than pets. Every time you walk by the gated houses, they appear menacingly at the fences or gates. Most nights there was a cacophony of barking dogs at some stage, during the night. It was more than a bit annoying. The locals tell me that you get used to it. It doesn’t seem to bother them.

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3.Red peppers are so delicious

A bit obvious this one but red peppers are cheap and delicious in Spain. Oiled and grilled, skins removed, they turn into a sweet and delicious thing. I will be growing some this year and using them a lot more in my cooking.

4.You need never buy Oranges, Lemons or Avocados in Estepona

Everyone seems to grow them and they always have too many, so they give them away!

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5. Almonds are expensive! 

I use a lot of almonds in my cooking. I use them to make granola, bread and almond butter. I assumed, that as almonds are grown in Spain they would be cheaper. However, they are more expensive in Spain than in the UK. They do sell some delious salted and roasted almonds in Lidl (Spain) which we ate a lot of and bought some home too.

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6.  Motoring is a pleasure in Spain 

There are very rarely road jams or road works in Spain. Tolls roads are a pleasure to drive on. Fuel is at least 15p a litre cheaper than the UK. Ok, so they drive on the opposite side, but I got over that.

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7. Family time is important 

Spanish families like to spend time and relax with each other, especially at the weekends. All the shops close on a Sunday so friends and family gather together. Some of them go to their Fincas in the mountains and others meet for lunch near the beach. It was a real pleasure to see. I am sure the sunshine helps!

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8.There are some really delicious Spanish cheeses 

We tried a few from this list. The choice is a bit overwhelming though so it’s a work in progress job!

http://i-live-spain.com/gastronomy_from_spain/spanish-cheese/

 

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9.We can salsa 💃🏻

So continuing on the theme, of learning something new to keep your brain stimulated, we went to Salsa lessons every Wednesday evening at a pub in La Puerta de Duquesa. I’m not sure we have mastered it – but it was fun trying.

10. Mark loves Sherry! 

I knew this already but I am including it anyway! The sweet Spanish matured sherry  is  like liquid raisins. Mark had a tipple most nights.

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