27 Dec 2010

It's All About Me

I hope everyone had a great Christmas. My parents were snowed in, and have been since about the 17th, so couldn't make it here for lunch. Instead I joined friends for their large, loud and very fun Christmas day, I think it was my best Christmas in a long time!

The lovely Lauren of Tea and Crumpets nominated me for the below meme, as if you haven't learnt enough about me already this month! ;)  It feels a little narcissistic to write this for myself but Lauren asked so I guess it's okay, right?

1. Why did you create the blog?
I’ve been writing an online diary of sorts for years. I began shortly before leaving London for Wales and the BBC as a way to remember the ups and downs of the television productions I was working on at the time and that journal ran until I finished with the BBC in 2009. Faced with unemployment and a decidedly un-telly focus I started a new journal that was just supposed to be about writing but was actually just about stuff. It didn’t take long for that one to fizzle out! As my first blog post here says, I’d had a vintage day which had sparked an interest in vintage bloggers which sparked an interest in maybe doing something about my image which I’d always hated. Ten months later I’m still really enjoying myself (despite my sporadic posting) and I’m finding it interesting how, not even a year later, I’m wearing things I’d never have had the courage or interest in wearing when I started this blog. It’s nice to be able to look back and be able to track the changes in myself which was ultimately my goal.

2. What kind of blogs do you follow?
All sorts! I follow a lot of vintage and lifestyle blogs, some sewers, quite a few crafters and every single one of them are brave, individual people who are an inspiration to me. I regularly peruse blog rolls of those I follow in the hope of finding new blogs and am happily up to just over 100 blogs in my reader and counting.

3. Favourite makeup brand?
I’ve never been a brands person, I’ll buy whichever product I tried that worked for me the best within my budget. Saying that, I have been heavily influenced by make-up artists I know and have ended up with foundation, concealer, mascara and lipstick by MAC and I love it. However, I also have Body Shop and Rimmel lipsticks because they’re pretty so I’m not precious about sticking with one make.

4. Favourite clothing brand?
I think I can quite honestly say I don’t own any branded clothing as society understands it. I used to buy quite extensively from La Redoute but I don’t think that counts? Saying that, if I could afford it I would buy pretty much everything under the Nadinoo label.

5. Your indispensable makeup product?
Moisturiser, I have very dry skin. I’m blessed with a fairly even complexion and dark lashes and brows which has meant I never really felt like I needed to cake my face in make-up (which is how it always felt). That opinion has revised, I want to wear make-up well, on a daily basis, but I’m yet to learn how to apply it subtly, lastingly and to my satisfaction. Until that time arrives I’ll have to go with the moisturiser or my tweazers, I hate having straggly eyebrows!

6. Your favourite colour?
I couldn’t blame a person for looking at me and assuming blue. I actually love red but own very little in that colour, or indeed any colour other than blue or brown. I’m working on it though!

7. Your perfume?
Everyday, vanilla from Body Shop, it’s my favourite smell and I wear it all the time. For nights out I go with that old favourite Chanel No 5.

{ Source: Chanel }
8. Your favourite film?
Oh dear. I have to pick just one? I adore The Princess Bride, I have fond memories of the original Star Wars trilogy and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Pride and Prejudice is my sewing film. Penelope is my girly pick-me-up film. Amelie is my geek-chic film. But my current favourite (note the current) is The Sorcerer's Apprentice with Nicholas Cage (a flirtation, not a boyfriend despite what my DVD collection might tell you). I love the realism of the magic, I adore the humour and I totally love the entire film, it all works brilliantly and leaves me humming Sorcerer’s Apprentice for days after watching. Despite what I said in my last post, there's always a place for Disney!

9. What country would you like to visit and why?
When I was in school I wanted to spend a year in France, a year in Germany, a year in Italy and a year in Spain so I could learn the languages better (I studied French, German and Italian at school and was scarred for life by a family visit to North Spain that resulted in some knowledge of the language). I never got around to doing that but there’s a part of me that would still like to. I also want to visit Canada, Eastern Europe, India … who am I kidding? I want to go everywhere! I’m endlessly curious and I love to learn about people and places and can’t think of anywhere I wouldn’t want to go. I’m hoping in the near future, though, just to explore my own country better as I found that no one really knows their own doorstep so well as someone that’s travelled from the other side of the world. I’d like to be the exception to that rule.

10. To be chosen by blogger.
What breed is your dog and why did you choose him?
Ah, Bear. The dog that won’t sit still to let you photograph him but won’t let you have your own photo taken without him in it. The Crazy Wolf as he’s known in my village and with reason.

Bear is a Northern Inuit or Utonagan (I’m not sure which and they’re very close breeds). They’re not currently recognised breeds although I believe a petition has been made to the Kennel Club. Utonagan is Chinook for spirit of the wolf and they are basically Husky, Malamute and German Shepherd crosses, bred to look like the grey wolf but with the temperament of a German Shepherd. They love being around people, are excellent with cats and smaller dogs but on the downside become destructive when left alone for long periods of time. Bear has, to date, destroyed 2 sofas, 2 phones, 3 DVDs, 3 roomfuls of carpet, 4 pairs of shoes, 3 plant pots, 2 duvets, several jackets and cardigans (he loves chewing off buttons), 2 pairs of gloves and a dog bed … or two.

He is also very excitable and has an awful lot of energy, when uninjured we walk twice a day for roughly an hour at a time and he could go for more. However, at 2 and a half he’s still classed as a puppy and won’t fully mature until he’s 4 so I try not to hold it against him. As to why I chose him, he was pretty and ever since Due South I’ve wanted my own wolf. Besides, what better dog to have as a burglar deterrent (tried and tested a couple of weeks ago)!

I'm supposed to pass the Q&A baton on but I haven't a clue who to send it to, I want to hear from everyone! So, if you have the time and inclination please post your own Q&A and leave me the link in the comments here.

Thanks for stopping by,

23 Dec 2010

35 - Happy Birthday To Me

I turned 35 on the 20th. I saw this meme on ThriftyMrs' blog and loved it, unfortunately I was stuck in traffic for 5 and a half hours trying to get home as the second wave of snow hit and promptly forgot about it until now.

35 I's

1. I am 35 and 3 days old today.
2. I love to read.
3. I love fruit but hate vegetables.
4. I would love a family one day.
5. I think my cat has cabin fever.
6. I tend to live in my own little world.
7. I love red meat but rarely cook it.

8. I am terrible at looking after myself properly, usually because I'm too busy reading.
9. I prefer the old stories of elves and magic to the Disney-fied versions.
10. I am addicted to crisps.
11. I like to pretend I'm flying a spaceship when driving around roundabouts.
12. I own two swords.
13. I love being outdoors.
14. I love being indoors.

15. I am finally learning to trust in my own sense of style.
16. I am an excellent friend in times of need and a little bit rubbish the rest of the time.
17. I am very messy.
18. I am a great starter but a terrible finisher.
19. I love flying.
20. I make friends better with men than women.
21. I love where I live.

22. I wish I was more adventurous.
23. I am finding this harder than I thought!
24. I am a sci-fi geek.
25. I love to learn but not in schools.
26. I have half a dozen serious TV boyfriends at last count and a handful of flirtations.
27. I've only met two of my TV boyfriends in real life and have actually dated neither.
28. I have the attention span of a gnat for everything except films or books.

29. I have a brother and sister who are twins.
30. I like swearing.
31. I am too hard on myself.
32. I love the colour red.
33. I have a sneaky suspicion that my dog is a werewolf.
34. I think vanilla is the best smell in the world.
35. I still feel 18 years old.

Feel free to join in with your own number of I's!

Thanks for stopping by,

30 Nov 2010

Wardrobe Woes

Apologies for my absence. If you follow me on Twitter (@TorsGrantham) you will have heard me whinge expound at great length behind the reasons. You can't tell reading this, but this post took me several days to write. Okay, so that's a bit of an over-exaggeration but I'm stabbing at the keyboard typing right-handed due to an accident involving the wolf, two cats, the lead and my dominant hand that resulted in a spiral fracture in one finger. I'm beginning to think the wolf doesn't like me anymore, particularly as he also ate my last bag of peanut butter M&M's and you can't even buy them in this country.

Consequently, I'm going out of my gourd (fair warning) as I'd planned a lovely weekend of sewing and now can't. I tried. I really did. You've no idea how hard it is to pin a pattern to fabric with the wrong hand. Or how hard it is to pin a pattern to fabric with the right hand (or left in my case) that has two fingers taped together and are rigid. Unless you've done the same thing, of course.

What did I try? Well, it wasn't Simplicity 1683 despite gaining the missing pieces. It wasn't the cut but nowhere near stitched Butterick 2198. No, that would be too easy, finishing something I'd already started. No, I had to start an entirely new project: Style 3894. With a re-drafted collar. Blame Ali, she's the one that suggested 1970's as a potential source of flattering patterns. I even decided, given my limitations and the constant sizing issues with everything I make, that starting with a muslin might be the way to go. I didn't get very far, I admit, but at least it does look like it might fit. Hopefully. I'd say fingers crossed but really that makes me want to cry right now.

What the accident has also meant is that I finally had the inclination opportunity to clean out my wardrobe and focus on a direction with my sewing plans. I have to admit it's been helped in part by Sarah and Ali, their recent posts have been exactly what I was trying to figure out without knowing exactly what I was trying to figure out. I can't tell if the exercise has made more of a mess in my room as I attempted tidying with one hand, it was in a fair old state before I even did myself any damage, but it has helped clarify some things for me.

Namely, I want two interchangeable wardrobes broken down into seasonal pieces; work and play with spring/summer and autumn/winter pieces. My current workplace requires business casual clothing and I've been getting away with a lot more casual than I would like purely because they know I can't afford new clothes. Ideally I'd like some more formal pieces suitable as business-wear that can be dressed down and added to my casual wardrobe if needed.

Perhaps controversially I've decided to stick with colours that match my favourite shoes (read: all of them). This seemed sensible as I'm anal about matching my shoes to my outfit in some way. I still have so much to learn. I haven't gotten down to the nitty gritty yet and with a full week ahead involving Harry Potter, gourmet burgers, a sleep-over at my Mum's and a small operation on my little broken bones I don't think I'll be getting around to it until at least the weekend. I can't wait though, it's certainly going to be an interesting exercise.

Now, if you'll excuse me I'm off to watch Kirstie's Homemade Home whilst attempting to stuff a handmade teddy with one hand. Wish me luck!

Thanks for stopping by,

11 Nov 2010


oh my word!Just a quick post because I'm way too excited to keep this to myself. I won a giveaway! Evelyn of Oh My Word held a giveaway and I somehow managed to be the lucky winner. This is A First and I'm very excited. Stay tuned to see what the winning prize is once it arrives. Thank Eve! And if you haven't checked out her blog I do recommend it.

Thanks for stopping by,

9 Nov 2010

Project Saver!

Today a rather innocuous envelope appeared on my doormat, courtesy of the lovely Anne of Vintage Fabric Market. If you don't know the site I highly recommend it, she has some great fabrics for sale, vintage patterns, hats, costume jewellery and a range of accessories. And she's got a sale on too!

Whilst browsing her site I came across Simplicity 1683, which you might remember stalled after I discovered I was missing the collar piece. On a whim, I emailed Anne to see if she might be able to help me with my missing piece (s - when I checked fully I was missing three pieces in total). Well, look what arrived this morning!

Yes, that's right, I can finish my dress! The collar, the cuff and the long sleeve pieces are now carefully stuffed in the envelope with my original pattern pieces. It'll have to wait a little longer until my crafting orders are over and done with, but it's now not a wadder for sure (which is always nice!).

Thank you, Anne. I really appreciate all your help.

Thanks for stopping by,

7 Nov 2010

CiN Craft Fayre

Work held a Craft Fayre on Friday to raise money for Children in Need. Despite never having sold any of my stuff, mostly because it's made from other people's templates, I decided to sign up as all proceeds went to charity. Unfortunately, because I've never sold any of my stuff I had no stock and only managed to produce a paltry 3 Easy Teddies (we nicknamed them Neopolitan), 1 and a half Day Bags and 2 lavender stuffed hearts.

Pathetic, right?

I'd been trying to keep my hopes up when everyone passed me by for the extensive jewellery selection on offer, particularly as I was very proud of my finished green bag (isn't the Ikea fabric fab?!)

It took me 3 hours to sew the 24 poppers to make the bag removable for ease of washing. 3 hours. Which is why only one bag got finished in time. Everyone thought the teddies were very cute but nobody seemed to want to buy them.

So imagine my surprise when, at the end of the day, I discovered I'd sold 2 green Day Bags, the half made Day Bag (to be finished this weekend), 4 Easy Teddies and 1 lavender heart. Not only that but I have orders for 2 vanilla strawberries, 1 lavender heart on ribbon, 1 vanilla heart on ribbon and requests for samples of my make-up bags, hobby horse, angel wings and hot water bottle cover. A win overall I think!

Thanks for stopping by,

6 Nov 2010

The Mists of Llanbradach

Yesterday was Guy Fawkes Night, an evening to celebrate the failure of the Gun Powder Plot to kill James I and replace him with someone more in line with the plotters religious views. Over the years the true meaning behind the evening seems to have been, not quite forgotten but maybe not quite as remembered as it once was.

The larger towns usually host a fireworks display, Caerphilly (my nearest town) is hosting a display tonight at the castle (if you watched Merlin last week you would have seen it throughout the episode pretending to be two different places) and I think I'll take a meander down to watch as they're usually very very good.

{ Source: Photokat22 }

The smaller villages, like the one I live in, tend to have private bonfire parties that, if they're anything like the ones I attended as a child, involve hot dogs and jacket potatoes and more cartwheels and sparklers than big exploding fireworks. If you're lucky there's even a bonfire and if you're really lucky you were allowed to make a Guy to throw on the fire.

Those of you here in the UK, do you find that the morning after Guy Fawkes Night dawns misty and smelling of smoke? It certainly does here! Below is the Old Tip and the Old Pit as the mist rolled further in at around 8am this morning. I'm endlessly fascinated by how the landscape here interacts with the weather, the clouds constantly brush the trees and it creates a beautifully isolated looking environment at times that I just can't get enough of! I predict more photos along the similar lines throughout winter.

I'll leave you with a section of a documentary broadcast in 2007 (I think), narrated by Richard Hammond, that recreated the Gun Powder Plot and explored Guy Fawkes' role in the conspiracy. Only this time they actually blew the building up (one they built specifically obviously, not the actual House of Lords). The results are astonishing and I highly recommend the entire documentary.

Thanks for stopping by,

31 Oct 2010

Happy Hallowe'en!

Just a quick post to wish you all a Happy Hallowe'en!

Thanks for stopping by,

27 Oct 2010

Tutorial: Easy Teddy

This is the easiest teddy I've ever made. I should perhaps mention I've only ever made two types of teddy, but this was definitely the easiest. You don't even need a sewing machine - as long as you can sew a running stitch you can make this teddy.

Some fabric, twice the size of the teddy you intend to make
A length of ribbon
Needle and cotton
Card and an existing teddy to use as a template (or just freestyle one)
Toy stuffing
Fabric paints/ pens

1. Put something on the telly to entertain you whilst sewing. Pride & Prejudice is my film of choice because, despite loving it, I have no TV boyfriends in it to distract me

2. Ensure your workspace doesn't look like mine

3. Create your template. You can either draw around a teddy you already own, in which case make sure it's a flat, unarticulated teddy like the one pictured below ...

... or create your own template. I'm using one from Sew Pretty Christmas Homestyle by Tone Finnanger. I highly recommend her books, they're filled with fabulous projects.

When creating your template remember not to draw in ears, ideally they should be a seperate template to ensure they stand up correctly but, honestly, anything goes. As long as you can sew it you'll be fine.

You'll notice on my template I've marked where to leave a hole for each ear and a hole to allow me to reverse and then stuff the teddy. You'll need to mark these on your template too. The ear holes will, naturally, be the same width as the ear and the side hole just needs to be big enough to allow you to turn the finished teddy in the right way and also allow you to get your fingers inside to position the stuffing.

4. Fold your fabric in half and place your template in the middle. The entire template will need to be sewn around, no using the fold in any way (sorry!). Draw around your template and remember to draw around your ear template twice.

Comme ca!

5. I've found that when sewing together the bottom piece of fabric tends to move about so pin your two pieces together just to be on the safe side.

6. Running stitch your way around each template using the line you drew as your guideline. A very handy tip I picked up from Tone Finnanger, sew on the line! (sorry about the over exposure here)

7. Once it's all stitched (apart from your gaps!) cut out your template with a seam allowance added. Don't forget to clip the curves. I tend to veer into a fatter seam allowance around the area for the side hole as that will need to be invisibly stitched closed and I've discovered it's easier with more fabric. The choice is yours though.

8. Turn the ears the right way in and insert into the hole you left on the head upside down (trust me). Once you've positioned them to your satisfaction sew the hole closed. In the picture below the left ear is in place and the right ear demonstrates how the ear should be positioned. You just need to insert it between the fabric inside the hole, not lay it on the top like the right ear.

9. Turn your teddy in the right way ...

10. ... and stuff! (my favourite part!)

11. Slip stitch your side hole closed. Youtube has some excellent tutorials on this stitch if you're not familiar with it but essentially you're still doing a running stitch but each complete stitch is on opposite sides of the fabric. Remember to stitch on the folded-in fabric so you can't see the cotton and when it comes to knotting the fabric poke the knot in so it's hidden.

12. Grab your ribbon and tie, tightly, around the neck to define the head.

13. Draw on your face, add any other painted features you please, iron to ensure they're wash proof (or follow the instructions of your paints if they differ) and you're done!

Thanks for stopping by,

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