Sunday, 13 April 2014

Faking it...

Recently I've been lusting after antique linens on ebay. I've been watching vintage linens monogrammed with my daughters initials and I've been put off by the hefty price tag.

It seems a vintage sheet, tablecloth or napkin is far more valuable if it's monogrammed...

These linens would have been stitched by young women for their dowry chest. That way they'd have a collection of nice linens ready for married life.

I thought it would be lovely to have a monogrammed cotton sheet on my daughters bed as part of her room makeover. The fact that she'd rather have some hideous poly cotton Littlest Pet Shop bedding is neither here nor there. I can't go there. It goes against every fibre of my being.

So I thought, how hard can it be to do this monogramming?
I picked up two vintage cotton sheets from the flea market for 50p each, found a monogram template online and printed it out the size I wanted. (Weird snobbery - I can't do new poly cotton but I can do 50p used cotton sheets.)

I pinned it under the sheet and traced over it in pencil.

Then I went round all the outlines in a small backstitch, using all 6 strands of white embroidery thread...

An embroidery hoop kept it taught while I stitched.

Next, I filled in the solid parts of the design with little straight stitches inside the backstitched lines.

It doesn't matter if it's looking messy. This is just to provide the padding when you go over it in your satin stitch.

With the satin stitch I sewed on the outside of the backstitched line going over and over with a nice smooth finish...

Ta daa! Okay, if you regularly embroider you'll probably be quite horrified and it's nowhere near as good as the examples above but I'm happy with it. It took one evening of sewing and I really enjoyed it.

My daughter? Not so much.

It looks better from a distance!

My daughter may not appreciate my beautifying efforts but Bad Bobby and Fat Freddy are REALLY enjoying the raised bed! It wasn't supposed to be a cat bed. I'm just glad they're not using it as a cat toilet!

More on my daughters room soon...

Thanks to those who nominated me for the MADs blog awards. I was unaware (again) and so missed the opportunity to beg for votes. Doh. They don't actually let you know if you're nominated. One year I'll be ready with my campaign! Thank you anyway!

Linking to


Thursday, 10 April 2014

Second hand scores...

Despite all your good wishes for our chazzing adventure in Fleet, we didn't do well at all. My only purchase being this mediocre jug...

and a new looking t shirt for my daughter...

I laid it out to photograph it and Freddy couldn't resist coming to lie on it.

My daughter fared no better with this tiny pile of treasures...

She's not really into sewing but the thimble and beads are for her Littlest Pet Shop animals that she likes to customise with sequins, beads, blu tack and pipe cleaners.

Fortunately the chazzing in our town has had much more to offer lately. I snapped up two rolls of vintage wallpaper. Yay!

And these utterly beautiful and comfortable Hush Puppies.

Hush Puppies may be granny shoes but I've already spent a day in them with no blisters at all so I must be at the age where comfort is more important than the connotations of the label.

In other news, my first batch of kitchen related products should be arriving next week and I'm dying to show you! Shame my kitchen isn't photo shoot ready. Soon....

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

20 minute makeover...

It's the Easter holidays and I promised myself that I wouldn't just stick my daughter in front of DVDs so that I could crack on with my work. The weather is perking up and we've got plans for the next few days so I won't tempted. But this little project was so quick, I allowed myself a little fix of DIY.

I picked up this little wooden ladder for £2 at the boot sale last week.

It's really sturdy but the top was a mess.

Such a lovely little label. I wonder if it's the same Twyfords who do sinks and loos?
I ordered a small piece of oil cloth from eBay and set about recovering the top as it wouldn't take long.

I'm not touching the woodwork as I don't mind the paint spots. And lets be honest, it'll only get more. 

But it's going to look pretty in my kitchen. Which is next on the agenda... after the hols.

Happy holidays to those who have kids off school. I'm truly blessed with a daughter who loves doing the charity shops. Tomorrow we're visiting a relative in a town with plentiful charity shops. Yay!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Plodding on...

Where does the time go?
I'm turning into such a slack blogger these days. My new business takes up more time than I thought it would. I thought I'd just have to send a few emails each day and the money would flood in. Not so I'm afraid. Worst of all there are tough decisions to be made. Like what colour to use. All painfully slow...

But I have made some progress on the domestic 'to do' list. First of all I'll show you how the bleached table top turned out....

 It still has the circular scorch mark on it but I love its paleness now.

Here's a reminder of the 'before' pic.

Much more orangey. (Orange is a colour I cannot cope with. Unless we're talking hair.)

 Sooo, what else can I show you?

My scaffold boards arrived and I spent a morning sawing them. I was going to hire a saw but I discovered that jigsaws can cut wood up to 7cm thick if you have the right blade so I just used that.

We have wood piles everywhere... pegs in the kitchen...

...scaffold boards in the dining room...

...tongue and groove leaned up against the wall. (By the way, these are my 'new' curtains for the dining room. £5 from the boot sale, still in their wrapper! Woo hoo!)

 ...and more on the other side. I think a wood pile adds a certain cosiness to a home, don't you agree?

So what is my cunning plan with this apart from turning the house into a timber yard?

 Raised beds of course!

A series of them all along here...

  But man, they're going to take some filling! The husband says I'm not allowed to spend any more money so that might prove tricky.

Anyway, I built that first one yesterday and today my arm is really hurting so I can do no more.

The other thing I've fallen madly in love with is these scaffold board tables...

Aren't they just heavenly with their rustic plankiness?

These are all on ebay for a lot of money. Not having a lot of money to spend on tables, I've decided to try and make one. Well, replace my table top with a scaffold board top.

But not just yet. We can live with the wood pile a little longer.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

How to install skirting boards (and how not to...)

Well, the skirting boards have been installed. More importantly, they haven't dropped off yet.

It was a learning curve. Here are my top tips:

  •  Before you order excessively long skirting boards, you might want to measure your hallway so that you know they will actually fit through the door. 

  •  REMEMBER that many skirting boards are double sided (Ogee and Torus) so don't have a little freak out that they don't match and go running out of your house shouting at the delivery guys as they're pulling away, ''They don't match!''  You'll just feel like an idiot when they point this out. 

  •  Remember the double sidedness also when you're cutting and installing your boards. Unless you're going for an 'eclectic mismatched' look. (It's not going to fool anyone.)

Imperfect external corner... past caring at this point.

  •  Internal corners for some reason are meant to be like this...

The first is attached as a butt joint. The second has the profile of the first drawn onto it and you cut along the line with a coping saw. I don't know why you can't do an internal mitre cut. Perhaps because rooms aren't square?

If you want to do it like a pro, have a little practise with the coping saw on an off cut to make sure you can do it.

  •  Watch this guy...

He explains those strange corners far better than I ever could and makes it easy. It's also thoughtfully subtitled in case you don't speak Australian.

  • If like me, you're going for primed MDF boards, wear a mask when you saw as it's toxic stuff. 

  •  Get more adhesive than you think you need. If you don't you will run out half way through a board and have to scrape it all off. 

  •  I thought it would be a good idea to have a join under a radiator as it wouldn't really be seen. Dumb move. I totally cocked it up and ended up with two joins. It's the first thing you see when you walk in the room as you don't put furniture in front of a radiator. Doh.

Disaster! And don't look at that shoddy radiator, I shall paint that too at some point.

  •  Decorators caulk is your new best friend. It makes everything perfect. Or just perfect enough...

  •  Primed boards mean there's no hurry to paint them all. This is a huge plus because you'll be so bored of them by the end of installation, you really won't want to paint them.

It took me a day and a half with a simple mitre saw and no power tools. I have no muscles so it was tough going. I also had to cut a conduit whilst it was attached to the wall, without damaging the cable that was inside it. I had to remove other bits of architrave round the door and the cupboard which was a real faff.

I'm really getting no enjoyment from my DIY at the moment. It's going okay, but not spectacularly good. The worst thing is, when I finish something, I just think I have to do it all again in two more rooms and the landing so it seems never ending and a little overwhelming. There's my whinge for the day.

As I say, I've lost interest in skirting boards and haven't painted them yet. I always find, the best thing to do when you're 98%  finished on a project is to start a newer, much more exciting one. With this in mind, I dragged my husband off to Travis Perkins where we argued about timber and eventually ordered five 3.9metre long scaffold boards. Yeah baby! They come on Thursday and I cannot wait. I will not be scaffolding with them.
Watch this space...

Oh and that desk tidy? It's also great for keeping your cats tidy...

Bad Bobby.

Ivy and Elephants

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Secondhand Scores...

I've been up to my eyeballs in curtain shortening, door painting and valance planning. Yes that is a thing. My daughters room is coming together even if it is very white so far. We need some colour injected in to the space or she'll leave home. And she's only seven so we don't want that.

I've also had to paint over the mess I made whilst staining the floor. Wood dye is very spattery...

I'm still making time for car boot sales and the flea market although my chazzing has fallen by the wayside. Time for a roundup of my most recent second hand shopping goodies!

First up, this gorgeous rusty old paper sorter desk tidy thing I found at the flea market. Heaven knows I need a tidy desk!

I like the little card holders...

Next this lovely table I got at the flea market for a bargainous £20. It was FILTHY like it had lived in someones garden. It was home to lots of spiders and even a snail! I scrubbed it down on the patio.

I like the original painted legs so I'm not going to tamper with them.

 But that top? It's crying out for wood bleach if you ask me.

Er, and some woodworm treatment. Then it can live happily behind the sofa.

[All these black corners are caused by the camera being dropped and now the shuttery covery thing won't open fully. Oops.]

 I found another of these vintage religious prints.

I still haven't thought of a place to display them but I have a few now. Perhaps we could have a downstairs loo/monastery. I do like rooms with more than one function.

I got this cool vintage chair with an industrial vibe and some godawful upholstery.

It looks wonky. I think that's just my dreadful photography.

I plan to strip off the metallic blue and get back to unpainted metal and recover the seat.

Do you remember this seat?

Well, I had a disaster with it. Once I took it all apart and re puffed up the collapsed cushion, the tapestry top no longer fit on it. I tried to stretch it and it tore a bit. Hopefully I can turn it into a cushion at some point and find some other fabric for the top of the stool. Some you win...

But the chair will go by my desk instead.

Last of all, I've been hoping to find a full length mirror for my daughters room and I got one at the car boot sale this weekend.

Sorry, another truly dreadful photo. You can't even see it.

  But it has bevelled glass and looks very Laura Ashley to me. It was £5. Woop woop!

Later today the skirting boards arrive and hopefully I can show you progress on the room soon. Speaking of skirting boards, now we're going to have deep glamorous skirting, I'm very much looking forward to using this...

It's a self adhesive Pretend mousehole to fit on a skirting board which I'm sure you'll agree is just the best thing EVER. I just love anything with 'pretend' in the title.

Legend has it that they're painted by an artist called Helene and she painted the first one lying on her belly for eight hours. Printed stickers are somewhat easier to use. There are several designs, something for everyone and they're only £2.99. You can see them all HERE.

Right then, skirting boards...