Monthly Archives: August 2015

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Trading Paint & Brushes For Needle & Thread !

Trading Paint For Cotton, Rocking Dog

Trading Paint For Cotton

Rocking Dog hopes you are having an enjoyable bank holiday weekend. I have finally finished an epic painting conquest, although I feel an even bigger challenge lies ahead. The challenge being to obliterate every last trace of Churlish and Brassica off me! Is there anyone else out there who manages to get their tummy covered in paint? And no I wasn’t wearing a crop top (heaven forbid!) Thankfully I did get out of my painty attire for a little while in the week to be with a chirpy group of Young Carers for a graffiti session. I was rubbish with a spray can and I won’t be coming to a wall near you anytime soon! Matt the graffiti artist was lovely, very enigmatic, and we kept on asking whether “Dismaland” was his masterpiece!

Meanwhile back at the ranch with paint drying peacefully, it was time to enjoy a little sewing after a lot of domestic dross (including dealing with the fallout from a major pipe leak). I had some patchwork strips left from my latest quilt making escapade, thus decided to make a window seat cushion. What could be lovelier for a guest than being curled up on a swaddled window sill, reading a good book, sipping coffee and…… looking out on my forlorn, wayward garden!

Because i’m not very good with zips I made a simple envelope cushion. Together with its feather filled cotton liner I made it in less than an hour. Backing fabric was ticking leftover from my quilt, whilst the liner was made using some lining fabric from a deconstructed curtain. Feathers came courtesy of some surplus pillows, and ribbon and button from my substantial haberdashery hoard.

TO MAKE YOUR OWN CUSHION, cut main fabric to desired measurements. If you are planning to use a cushion pad, check dimensions of the ones on offer. John Lewis has a good selection of feather and synthetic filled cushions and pillows.

Cut your backing fabric to the same WIDTH as your main fabric. However as this is an envelope style pillow you need to allow more LENGTH, for the overlap and neat seams. On my cushion I allowed an extra 300cm or so. Now that you have your long strip, decide where you want your opening (do you want it central at the back or towards one end?) I placed my cushion pad opening towards one end. Cut fabric accordingly. Therefore my cushion had one long and one shorter piece to form its backing.

Take this backing fabric, make some seams by folding over 15mm fabric, pressing and folding again down ONE short side of EACH piece of backing fabric. Sew these seams. You will still have two separate backing fabric pieces. Sorry, i’m not very good at this directions lark!

Put your main fabric face side up on a flat surface. Then lay one of your backing pieces face side down onto the main fabric (the neatly seamed edge will be towards the centre of the fabric), followed by the other backing piece (again neat seam central). Pin all the pieces together accurately edge to edge. Now you are ready to sew!

I like to sew my cushions by sewing the long seams first, followed by the short edges. I find it helps to avoid any puckering, especially if the measurements are slightly “out”. At the points where all the layers come together to create your “envelope” go over the stitches a few time with your machine. This will strengthen the seams when the cushion pad is “pumped up” or removed for washing etc..

Neaten seams with scissors and cut each of the corners diagonally close to the stitch line. This will help make your corners look perky when you turn your cushion cover right way out.

Yes, the exciting bit! Turn your cover right way out, use a chopstick or pencil to poke out your corners. Press your cover and fill with your cushion pad. If wished, hand sew a ribbon to each backing piece and tie neatly. VOILA!

On a bit of a roll, I decided to turn my attention to a beautifully hand embroidered Coronation tray cloth (thank you for the thoughtful gift Sorrel). I applied the same method as above to make a cushion. I used some
William Morris fabric from material mountain as the backing fabric. These bits of soft fabric furnishry are now waiting for me to wallpaper and finish their kingdom. Is anyone else like me and totally underestimates how long a DIY project is going to take?

Please show and tell if you make, do or sew any Rocking Dog projects. Have a great week.

Leftovers, Rocking Dog

Leftovers

Overlap, Rocking Dog

Overlap

Press & Sew, Rocking Dog

Press & Sew

Envelope Complete, Rocking Dog

Envelope Complete

Oh The Mess!, Rocking Dog

Oh The Mess!

Practical Fastening, Rocking Dog

Practical Fastening

Tray Cloth Reinvention, Rocking Dog

Tray Cloth Reinvention

Mr Morris Derriere!, Rocking Dog

Mr Morris Derriere!

Tactile Stash, Rocking Dog

Tactile Stash

Gone Fishing, Back In A Little While!

Tapestry Trout, Rocking Dog

Tapestry Trout

Signing off for a little while to get to grips with some unopened tins of Farrow & Ball and to contemplate life. Painting is good for the soul, just wish the sanding was!

I will reappear heavily paint splattered in Churlish, Ammonite, Brassica and Charlotte’s Locks sometime very soon. That’s what happens when you dance with a paint brush in your hand !

Liz x

Inspired Summer Gift Wrapping

Jolly Jar, Rocking Dog

Jolly Jar

A few more inspired summer gift wrapping ideas from Rocking Dog.

I have loved the July issue of M & S’s freebie food paper. The lovely large sheets have given me a wonderful cache of paper for wrapping gifts, making envelopes and images to cut out for gift tags etc.. I particularly liked the page with the fish and chip illustration, can’t you just smell the vinegar soaked newspaper! Effective gift wrapping for free. I’m sure if someone you knew received a parcel like this, they wouldn’t think cheapskate, they’d think how wonderfully stylish!

The Jolly Jar is a Bonne Maman jam jar which I have frou’d with fabric, ribbon, and up-cycled elephant and ballerina. I have filled mine with mini marshmallows and a token for a zoo trip. You could fill one with popcorn and cinema ticket or sewing paraphernalia and gift voucher for “The Makery” etc.. Another idea for simple “wrapping” for a child’s gift, is to sew bags from fabric oddments. Add ribbon handles and a pretty patch feature. My piggy and duck came from Designer’s Guild off cuts from nursery curtains made for my youngest many moons ago. Andyman was still madly wallpapering when my labour was in full throttle!

Summery tags are made using snippets from “Country Living”, luggage labels and twine. I have used stamps and ink pad to add sentiments to the tags.

Lavender is ready to be harvested, it can be dried and used to make gorgeous scented gifts. Oatmeal and lavender can be used to fill little muslin pillows, add strings so that they can be hung from the hot bath tap. This will give you the most aromatic and silky skinned bathe! Lavender can fill fabric hearts to scent clothes and keep moths at bay. Lastly, wrap lavender soaps in hessian, add a ribbon and fresh lavender stalks. No Sellotape required!

Here endeth the sermon on simple, cost effective and stylish wrapping and gift ideas.

Hope this is the start of a lovely week for you all.

Frouing Essentials, Rocking Dog

Frouing Essentials

M & S Wrapping, Rocking Dog

M & S Wrapping

Good Enough To Eat!, Rocking Dog

Good Enough To Eat!

Party Spots, Rocking Dog

Party Spots

Summery Tags, Rocking Dog

Summery Tags

Lavender Love, Rocking Dog

Lavender Love

In Search Of The Perfect Sandwich!

Pretty Perfect!, Rocking Dog

Pretty Perfect!

If you are in search of the perfect sandwich this weekend, and, you happen to be in Bristol …..Bakers & Co is a gorgeous cafe to go and get a pretty damned good sandwich!

With a pretty saturated cafe scene along the Gloucester Road, Bakers & Co are fairly new to the block. I sincerely hope they will be a long term gastronomic fixture. Interestingly, the sister business is a tapas bar, “Bravas” in Cotham. I have heard wonderful things about it. Our boy loved his jaunt there, and believe me he is difficult to please!

The menu at Bakers & Co is concise, but perfectly formed (I always find this so reassuring- no ping ping food here). At the doorway we were met by sacks of Shipton Mill flour, so goody goody the baking is done on the premises.

Brunch is served from 9 ’til 4 whilst the sandwich and salad lunch menu can be taken from 12 ’til 4. The menu changes regularly to take advantage of local seasonal ingredients and the menu proudly lists some of the cafe’s West Country suppliers.

I chose a Jamon, Rosemary, Manchego and Spinach sourdough sandwich, whilst Andyman opted for Mozzarella, Spanish bull heart tomato & Pesto toasted sourdough sandwich. Deeeeelicious!

The cheery canary yellow drinks menu contains all sorts of delights, I loved my Lemon, mint and cucumber soda. Wonderfully refreshing on a hot day watching the world, well, Gloucester Road folk go by.

Our lunch ended with delicious single estate coffee and the most amazing Caramel brioche sticky bun (which we boo hoo shared). It arrived in a warm pool of glossy caramel and was gone before I remembered to photograph it in all its glory! Apparently the lovely people at Bakers & Co are known to serve this with streaky bacon. Yum!

Lovely service, lovely drinks, a pretty perfect sandwich and as for THE bun….!!!!

As Arnie say’s “I’ll be back!

Perfectly Formed Menu, Rocking Dog

Perfectly Formed Menu

Cheery Cappuccino!, Rocking Dog

Cheery Cappuccino!

Oops!, Rocking Dog

Oops!

The Bountiful Summer Harvest

Nature's Harvest, Rocking Dog

Nature’s Harvest

Hedgerow fruits are swiftly ripening. Blackberries are being foraged and picked for pies, crumbles, jams and wines. Sloes, Damsons and Bullaces are gaining their characteristic charcoal bloom. A little more ripening will be required before the picking begins, and then, a degree of patience whilst the fruits do their magic in their gin or vodka soak.

Meanwhile, squirrels are busy raiding the hedgerows for hazel and cobnuts. The remnants of their feast lie untidily discarded on the mossy well trodden pathways.

Haws, rose-hips and crab apples are gaining their rosy glow, giving welcome colour whilst we walk.

Sweet Chestnuts need to plumpen in their verdant spiny overcoats. They remind me of my fondness for sweetened chestnut puree. Folded through rum laced cream and sandwiched between hazelnut meringue layers it’s a decadent dinner party dessert.

A great book celebrating Britain’s harvest is Mark Hix’s British Seasonal Food. In particular I love his recipes for Gamekeepers Pie, Piccalilli and his simply delicious little Buttermilk Puddings.

Let’s rejoice the burgeoning summer harvest.

Sorry couldn’t resist the slightly cheesy summer song- almost forgot that it was used as the theme for a certain drinks brand!

Hedgerow Sloes, Rocking Dog

Hedgerow Sloes

Use For Those Sloes!, Rocket Dog

Use For Those Sloes!

Berry Recipes, Rocking Dog

Berry Recipes

Crab Apple Swotting, Rocking Dog

Crab Apple Swotting

Nature Bowl, Rocking Dog

Nature Bowl

Umbrian Apple Harvest, Rocking Dog

Umbrian Apple Harvest

Apricot Compote For Dusk & Dawn

Feasting At Dawn, Rocking Dog

Feasting At Dawn

With summer in full swing it is lovely to find blushed ripe apricots in season. Apricots, however are a fruit that benefit nearly always from gentle cooking.

With two large punnets full of these soft velvety beauties, I halved each fruit removing their stone. Placed in a large pan I added a little water, a split vanilla pod and some golden caster sugar. Slowly brought to the boil, I stirred, and then covered the pan with a close fitting lid, reducing the heat to a simmer. I cooked the apricots until they were tender (approximately 10 minutes) and left the compote to cool. Later I poured the fruit and its thick juice into a large jar (or use a lidded box). Refrigerate.

The fruit will form the basis of our breakfast for the next week. We will savour the gorgeous taste of the fleeting summer, adding granola, some Greek yoghurt and a trek into the garden!

Alternatively, the compote can be used as the basis for some delicious summery desserts. For a simple light pie, put a generous layer of compote into a shallow dish before topping with a packets worth of crumpled up filo pastry. Brush lavishly with melted butter, sprinkle with sugar and bake in a hot oven until golden brown. A contemporary trifle can be concocted with amaretti biscuits, Amaretto, homemade custard, mascarpone cream… and of course the apricots! Even simpler, lightly toast brioche and top with the compote and good quality ice-cream. Crumbles, pancake filling, waffle topping- the possibilities are endless!

For a W.I. take, bake a batch of light and fluffy scones (gorgeous with the addition of some chopped stem ginger and ginger spice). Serve warm with the compote and lashings of clotted cream.

Thanks to the lovely Matt Waite for his gorgeous cups, bowls etc.. Wonderously, the talented potter bears a passing resemblance to a young Sean Bean!

.....And Dusk!, Rocking Dog

…..And Dusk!

Summer In A Jar, Rocking Dog

Summer In A Jar

Alfresco Breakfast, Rocking Dog

Alfresco Breakfast

No Excuses I HAVE Got To Tackle The Garden!

Neat Knitted Garden, Rocking Dog

Neat Knitted Garden

After a lovely weekend celebrating a happy couples perfect day in manicured grounds it was disheartening to return to a garden that needs so much TLC! No excuses the back breaking borders will need to be tackled and weed growth disrupted.

I loved this knitted cottage and garden at yesterday’s Tetbury Flower Show, though prize winning it only secured a second place certificate (boo hiss!). How lovely, a knitted garden without any dandelions, ground elder, bindweed or the like!

As ever the show tent at Tetbury was a joy, I particularly loved some velvety, shocking pink dahlia blooms.

Chelsea Flower Show unfortunately is a distant but lovely memory. I need to revive that enthusiasm and inspiration for all that I drank in that day …. and simply get down to digging, hoeing, edging, pruning and finally some exciting planting!

Oh, for a courtyard…. or knitted plot!

Idyllic Chelsea, Rocking Dog

Idyllic Chelsea

Tetbury Bloom, Rocking Dog

Tetbury Bloom

Knitted Edibles, Rocking Dog

Knitted Edibles

Vintage Tray Cloth Gift Envelope

Signed & Sealed, Rocking Dog

Signed & Sealed

A wedding beckons this weekend. Having bought a very garish and somewhat unspectacular JL gift card I wanted to make it look a bit more matrimonial!

Taking a laundered and starched vintage tray cloth (approximately £1 in a charity shop) I folded the cloth in half and used my wooden envelope template to cut a fabric envelope. Using my beloved Bernina I sewed the two envelope layers together and then sewed the two side seams (the flaps that would normally be glued if the envelope was being made of paper). A fabric envelope had now very simply been created.

Now for a little embellishment! I hand stitched a few silvery sequin shapes onto the front of the envelope which took a few minutes. Happy with the effect, I turned my attention to the lime green gift card. I simply wrapped it in a brown paper envelope and bound it with a handwritten message and some twine. I added one or two sequins using a glue gun to provide continuity between the gift with the outer fabric envelope.

With the gift card placed in the tray cloth envelope, I tucked in the flap and threaded a luggage label through the lace. Again I glued a sequin or two (more is definitely more for me!) to my tag. This project took about 40 minutes to complete. Part of this time was taken up with complete brain block on how to spell Keith!

Voila! Gift signed, sealed and soon to be delivered! Let’s Get Married!

Incidentally the delicious backdrop for my photo’s is a paper by Cole & Son called Flamingos which I found in a wallpaper bargain bin for £5. I’m sure it’s going to pop up in some future papery Rocking Dog projects very soon!

However you spend your weekend I hope you have a lovely one.

Tremendous Template, Rocking Dog

Tremendous Template

Ready To Frou!, Rocking Dog

Ready To Frou!

Voila!, Rocking Dog

Voila!

Hambrook Quilting Bee Hangs Up Her Needle!

Ready To Slumber Under, Rocking Dog

Ready To Slumber Under

Yes, the Hambrook Quilting Bee has hung up her needle- the quilt is finished!

Lots has happened since my last quilt making post. After sewing the squares together I backed the patchwork mass with some cotton batting (wadding) using safety pins to secure the layers. Following this I used a special walking foot on beloved Bernina to do something called “stitching in the ditch”. This is a technique to topstitch accurately between each square and to anchor the various layers together. I then added a border of dog tooth gingham before cutting backing fabric of traditional pillow ticking.

Some very late nights followed, sewing vintage buttons between the squares to further secure the three layers. I used green embroidery thread for the task and left decorative knotted threads on the quilts reverse.

Searching through fabric mountain for edging fabric I came upon my dusty French ribbon box. I remember buying this box at some street market in a now long forgotten French city. I remember seeing boxes upon boxes of ribbons, obviously the contents of some ancient defunct haberdasher. Sadly with space at a premium (no doubt a car bulging with three children, tent and camping paraphernalia) I could only choose one box! This box is labelled “bandeaux autruche coul” Translated, bandeaux means strip, often pertaining to fabric strips used for the hair. Autruche meanwhile is a place in the Champagne region of France, whilst Coul I see as an abbreviation for coleur (colour). As most of the ribbons are in shades of creams through to browns could this be the box that the Haberdasher labelled “Champagne coloured ribbon” ? I am reminded of the custom of buying and wearing new ribbons in books by Jane Austen and the like. In my box I found ribbon to edge my quilt and some lovely old Swedish braid to completely over gild the lily!

I didn’t quite make it round with my edging ribbon so I improvised with a little braid that originally came from my Mum’s sewing box. I have an old Welsh quilt that has lots of odds and ends incorporated into its fabulous make up…and I love it!

Loose threads cut, quilt pressed, there was just one final flourish. I added a verse and chose something from Virgil, the Roman Virgil and not the Thunderbirds Virgil! Incidentally, it reminds me that my son Alex’ as a little boy hated going to have his hair cut, so the promise of a Virgil (the Thunderbirds variety) hairstyle was the only way we could avoid tantrums! Back to Roman Virgil, I love “the dank night is sweeping down from the sky and the setting stars incline our heads to sleep”, thus I penned the verse onto a vintage linen coaster, backed it with Bondaweb and ironed it to the quilt.

Voila! The quilt is finished. I just need to decorate the room it is destined for, so that I can let the patchwork slumbers begin!

Stitch In The Ditch!, Rocking Dog

Stitch In The Ditch!

Laborious Buttons!, Rocking Dog

Laborious Buttons!

Quilting Bee, Rocking Dog

Quilting Bee

Swedish Border, Rocking Dog

Swedish Border

Champagne Strips, Rocking Dog

Champagne Strips

Vintage Haberdashery, Rocking Dog

Vintage Haberdashery

Edging Improvisation, Rocking Dog

Edging Improvisation

Finishing Touch, Rocking Dog

Finishing Touch

Folded & Waiting, Rocking Dog

Folded & Waiting

Bit Of A Vintage Week!

Luminous Mary's Praying For A Good Home, Rocking Dog

Luminous Mary’s Praying For A Good Home

Yesterday the hot weather bought with it a trip to the Frome Independent Market. Run on the first Sunday of the month from March through to December- it is FAB”! The streets were thronging with an assortment of amazing stalls selling delicious artisan foods, plants, crafts, vintage loveliness, handmade clothes etc.. etc…

A particular favourite with me was “The Bakemonger”, selling cakes that were worthy of their own art exhibition! Unfortunately my photo’s of anything Frome are few and far between- life was chaotically busy in its quirky hilly streets.

I enjoyed catching up with Michele of Cowboys and Custard again and bought some of her delightful little “lucky bags”. Filled with vintage twiddly bits I look forward to embellishing cards, parcels etc… with this batch of frou! Andyman and I also bought some old garden tools which we are going to use to decorate our new fence. It all looks rather too pristine at the present time, and as this area is eventually going to be a productive kitchen garden (!) we felt the tools appropriate in providing a sweet backdrop.

Apart from the wonderful stalls, the shops in Frome are worth visiting. I loved a shop called “Seed” selling beautiful jewellery, pottery, scarves etc…Whilst at the top end of the town there was a shop called “Life of Riley” with a cornucopia of eccentric junk.. loved the enamel bucket lamp shade! Meanwhile next door there was a TRULY fabulous vintage clothing emporium “Donna May Vintage”… yummy!

I’d have loved more time to browse, drink coffee, listen to the live music and to continue enjoying the buzz of this delightful market town. Oh well here’s to September!

Earlier in the week I visited Bradford on Avon, not a million miles away from Frome and there chanced on a lovely vintage clothes shop called Frank and Elsie.
I was hoping to finally get to Mr Salvat’s for coffee, but alas he was at market according to his sign! I love the rather Dickensian appearance of Mr Salvat’s door and hanging sign. I will need to come back on another occasion to acquaint myself with Mr Salvat and to sample his wares! Mr Salvat does appear to prefer his quill pen to the web- so no snazzy pictures of his breeches, garden or edible offerings.

Two very pretty towns both with historic links to the wool and weaving trade and both thriving with proudly independent shops and markets. Hallelujah!

Plastered!, Rocking Dog

Plastered!

Life Of Riley, Rocking Dog

Life Of Riley

C&C Lucky Bags, Rocking Dog

C&C Lucky Bags

Vintage Twiddly Bits!, Rocking Dog

Vintage Twiddly Bits!

Frank & Elsie, Rocking Dog

Frank & Elsie

Pom Pom Hat, Rocking Dog

Pom Pom Hat

Drat! It's Wednesday!, Rocking Dog

Drat! It’s Wednesday!

Dickensian Coffee, Rocking Dog

Dickensian Coffee

Good Knocker, Rocking Dog

Good Knocker