Sewing machine adventures


For my 40th birthday last year I asked for a sewing machine from my parents.  I had secretly wanted one for years and thanks to them I was able to finally get my paws on one.  My dreams of being able to make my own clothes, which had been fuelled by avidly watching every episode of the Great British Sewing Bee, were one step closer.

It has not all been plain sailing though!  First of all, I had to work out how to use the machine with a little help from the manual and a whole lot of trial and error.  I happily played around with it for a while working up the courage to actually make something.  And so the next hurdle arose…buying fabric online.  With a  lack of physical shops nearby, I had to make my first fabric purchase by wading through the overwhelming and bewildering choice available on the internet.  I eventually choose a lovely white cotton with green flowers on for my first project of a cushion (I fear making my own clothes is some way off yet!).cotton fabric and old scissors

Next issue to overcome reared its head.  In the absence of a pattern, how on earth do I measure accurately?!  I am not known for my ability to cut in straight lines – anyone who gets the wrapping paper after me is incredulous at how wonky I have cut it.  Despair was felt until my husband came up with the solution.  His mum used to sew and he remembered that she had a cutting board…with measurements!  Order placed on Saturday and arrived today.  Now there was no stopping me.  Or so I thought.  It wasn’t quite a simple as I hoped and it took several hours before I had usable pieces.

Happily I can report that the actual sewing up was fairly plain sailing (if we ignore the fact that I managed to not realise that I picked up a piece I had already done a hem on and started sewing it all over again) and here is the finished product which I am pretty chuffed with.  I no longer have any cats to model sitting on it so made do with a pretend one….

The Way of the Kondo



At the beginning of the year, it seemed that you just couldn’t get away from Marie Kondo.  The queen of discarding, organising and tidying up in Japan was suddenly big news over here in the UK.  The start of a new year often prompts people to have a clear out and the promotion of her work was perfectly timed.

For us the discovery of the Marie Kondo came just when we needed it though for a different reason.  Ours was not a ‘new year clean out’.  We had spent 18 months living with a minimum amount of stuff on our travels and when they came to an end, alongside the happiness of seeing certain of our belongings again when we moved into our home…well there was a feeling of despair and of being weighted down by the sheer amount of belongings we had (admittedly we had added vastly to this whilst we were living in Japan).  Lease aside, no longer could we just pack up a few things and go somewhere new.  This was such an adjustment for us to make and we were not getting the enjoyment out of our belongings that we once did.  So when I read about the ways of Marie Kondo in this article about dealing with anxiety and stress in the Guardian, it really struck a cord with us.

I ordered the book, read it the moment it arrived and then started as soon as I could.  Though it felt odd sometimes standing there wondering if the object I was holding bought me joy, the more I did it, the easier it became.  I was dreading going through my books as these seemed quite a big part of me – even there though I discarded over half of what I had.  It is still a work in progress as I am waiting for Phillip to finish going through his stuff so that we can then look jointly at our ornaments and other such belongings.  The charity collection has not been booked yet either.  I do feel lighter and freer though so can’t wait to see how it feels once we actually do finish the process and what our ‘lighter future’ brings.

Marie Kondo clear out

First up – clothes. Top left – at the start, bottom left – what was left, right – all for charity!

Kondo clear out

Top two photos show all my books at the beginning. Bottom left is what is being kept and bottom right is all going to charity


First up – clothes. Top left – at the start, bottom left – what was left, right – all for charity!

Dogwood Catch UP

Time for a catch up on my progress in the Dogwood 52 challenge.  I have been taking the photos…just not had the time to blog about it having been very busy with the Etsy Resolution programme.

Dogwood week 5: Black and White Landscape

The photo above was my selected photo for week 5 Black and White Landscape.  I love black and white photography so was really looking forward to this week.  The weather was (yet again) terrible here in Cumbria and my potential ideas for photos didn’t happen.  In the end I took this one on a stroll to my local tearooms where I take my work sometimes for a change of scenery.

Week 4 was a headshot portrait.  I really don’t like taking photos of people and as a result I am not too great at it.  This photo was a little bit of a ‘just get something done’ type of photo – still I did learn from it and I suppose that is the point of taking part in this challenge.

Dogwood week 4: Headshot Portrait

I am still waiting for inspiration to strike for week 6: Candy.  There was so many brilliant ideas and photos appearing on the Facebook group – everything I thought seemed rubbish in comparison.  So I have put that one on the back burner for now to come back to later.

The challenge for week 7 was a faceless portrait to show the story of someone or something without showing their face.  Unlike last week, I had an idea this week which I was rather pleased with.  I played around with flash lighting this week and although maybe my idea was better than the execution, I am still pleased with my photo this week.

Dogwood Week 7: Faceless Portrait

And so I am up to date with my Dogwood photos on the blog! (lets ignore week 6 for now…and the current week…)

Artistic Interpretation: Red

Red heart in dirty window

After my original idea for this week didn’t work out (the post box I was planning to use was for some inexplicable reason wearing a dead hare that day), I cast my eye around my home for inspiration.  It was a good chance to play around with some close up shots and I ended up with a few photos I was quite pleased with. The photo above was the one I selected as my winner and here are my two runner ups.


So now for this week we are back to the people photography…and a head shot. Not really knowing any people in our new area, my victim…I mean model..will be my husband.  It will be odd taking a photo of a photographer!