Monday, 4 May 2015

Vintage Treasure

Some of us have been taking it easy round here.

Charlie Boy is our only furry friend for now and never a more pampered cat would you meet.  He is eighteen years old now and a little more frail.  We treasure every day with him even if he is driving me slightly bonkers with his extreme food fussiness at the moment!

Meanwhile, I'm finding that early wake-ups are the norm for me with these light filled Spring mornings.  Yesterday, the rest of the HenHouse woke to the smell of freshly baked orange carrot spice muffins. (That's genuine sunshine in that there photo!)

When  we're not outside gardening, which is what mainly seems to be filling our time these days, I have of course, been slotting in a little making time.  It has been out with the ticking...

...and busy busy at Sally Singer.

My quest for textile treasures has continued and been very successful, I'm pleased to say.

Lots of delicious cushions have been emerging from the Den.

Now in my last post, I recapped on some of the trips we've fitted in, including visiting the Vintage Bazaar in Frome, after which we had a wander up Catherine Hill, well known for its vintage shops.  Teresa guessed correctly when I asked you what we might have brought home with us.  Gold star!

For a long time I've been hankering after an old French cot bed or similar to put in the newly decorated guest room and pile up with cushiony quilty heaven.  I pondered trying to turn a modern Ikea daybed the Munchkin had used at the cottage into a substitute but when I spotted the crib that day in Frome, which was my true heart's desire, the deal was done.  

It did not have a mattress but I just happened to have stockpiled some ticking for the very purpose so I set about making one to fit the old cot.  I made a simple bag type cover, using the ticking inside out for a more faded vintage look, placed two old duvets inside for padding and hand stitched the end closed.  I then set about the slightly more tricky task of tufting the mattress which I did with a very long doll needle, strong button thread, some discs of felt and mini rolls of linen.  Et voilà!

The cot bed was soon piled with cushions but what self-respecting quilter can have a cot bed without a quilt?  I decided something faded and vintage was in order and a fair few hours ensued, cutting a stack of 3.5" squares from my precious stash.  Every square is different; a charm quilt.

I decided to have fun with this quilt and rather than laying out the blocks first, I set about just randomly sewing them into pairs using my old Featherweight.  I then sewed these into pairs so I had a block of 4 squares.  I did then arrange these out on the floor.

It didn't take me long and the top was pieced, backed and hand quilted simply.  Later in the evening, Charlie Boy and I enjoyed some cosy time on the sofa while I hand stitched the binding which was made of strips from an old French linen sheet.


I backed the little quilt with a vintage French floral sheet.

It looks just right on the old cot bed.

The cot bed has proved perfect for my many cushions.

There's pretty ticking and floral hearts, lovingly hand stitched hexagons and gorgeous tactile old quilt blocks.

I have enjoyed being able to restock my Etsy shop  and there they wait, looking for new homes should you fancy a peek.  

I'll leave you with some freshly picked white bluebells (saying that seems very contradictory?) which the Munchkin found for me in the garden yesterday.  Happy Bank Holiday Monday, folks. Xxx

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Spring has Sprung

As I just sat preparing my photos for this blog post, I realised how much life has moved on.  Photos taken outside are distinctly more sunny and blossom-y and inside, there has been quite a lot of progress.  Hurrah!

The Old Vicarage is proving to be all the country home we hoped for and more.

There is plenty to keep us busy and never a dull moment but it all takes time and we are enjoying the ride.  Well, Mr HenHouse is enjoying the ride on his new toy, anyway!

The views surrounding the house continue to delight us.  They are views I do not think we could ever tire of.  It is so lovely to look out and see the landscape changing with the seasons.  It may sound trite but we really do feel so much closer to nature here.

In between keeping busy at home and with the cottage (more exciting news of that soon),  we've also managed quite a few trips out and about.  I'm always on the hunt for textiles. as you know.

(Talent for Textiles, Ilminster) 

The odd decorative accessory for our new home is most welcome when we find something special.

(Brocante, Totnes)

Sometimes there are things you've had on your virtual wishlist for sometime and one day, there it is.  Can you guess what came home with us from this shop?

(The Life of Riley, Catherine Hill, Frome)

On the home front, there is much to keep us busy (probably for a long time to come!)  We have finished redecorating the sitting room downstairs and embarked on one of the guest rooms on the first floor.  In fact, it is now finished so I will hope to share that with you soon.  Here is how it looked before we started to work our magic.

Rather more disruptive was the renovation work to our en suite bathroom.  We called in the professionals for this and of course, the in between stage, shown here, looks so much worse than the room even looked in the first place!  It is now finished, many weeks and several unexpected problems later, and is a bit of a triumph.  Another one to share.  I'm so behind!

Despite the gloriously sunny days we've been enjoying in April here in Smiling Somerset, the nights have still been pretty cool.  There's been less reliance on the central heating, thankfully, but we have had a log fire in the sitting room every evening.

I've also managed to fit in some time for making in between all the renovating.  I finished another English Paper Pieced cushion.  This one was based on a vintage quilt I saw on a lady's Instagram feed (@flowerpotcottage).  I already had homemade templates for the hexagons; I then did a little hunting online and found out that the other shape is called a "jewel" and was able to draw up a template for that, too.  The centres use vintage red fabric, the linen is new and the jewels are a mix of modern and vintage fabrics.

I then made yet more cushions for the new sofas in the sitting room.  I do love cushions!  It is much easier to fit in making a cushion than it is a quilt.

I've been obsessed with ruffles.  Particularly ruffles in Cabbages and Roses fabrics.

These cushions are both made from their gorgeous linen fabric and are enjoying their new home on the sitting room sofa.  (They are now covered in Charlie Boy fur!)

I've been dealing with the serious business of stash maintenance: if I'm going to be making things, I need to replace all that fabric used!

As well as making accessories for our new home, I have also been fitting in making some things for my Etsy shop.  I seem to have woefully neglected my little enterprise over the last year.  It is not for lack of wanting to create things, I could just do with a 36 hour day!  They are of a distinctly cushion-y nature at the moment.

Combining linen with beautiful faded vintage fabrics is what I am enjoying at the moment.

A perennial favourite; ticking with appliquéd vintage fabric hearts and a final touch of hand quilting.

In the evenings, I have been busy sewing hexys in front of the fire and making these into the feature panels on cushion fronts.  I have fallen hard for the look of a piped cushion and I make all these cushions on my old Singer Featherweight.  I love the slim, sturdy zipper foot and find it great for sewing piping.

I bought some lovely old quilt blocks at a vintage fair and have made these into some little piped scatter cushions.

I have been a busy Hen!  I am hoping to get lots of these lovelies into my Etsy shop in the near future.

I have oodles more to share with you and lots of photos prepped so I promise it will not be so long until I am back again.  

Thanks for reading along today.  Xxx

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

West Country Adventures

I think it's time to catch up on all the fabulous treasure hunting we've been fitting in down here in between all that decorating.  You know what they say about all work and no play...

We are lucky to have a rich hunting ground for such treasures nearby.  One of our regular haunts is Shepton Mallet, whether it be the antiques or flea market.  The flea market tends to be a favourite because it is more moochy (and prices tend to be cheaper).  There haven't been as many stalls over the Winter months because obviously, the weather is not too great but there is always a handful of sturdy folk who brave the cold.  They are rewarded with plenty of eager shoppers.

Of course, I am always on the look out for textiles.  I am now wondering why I didn't buy that red flowery one!

Some sellers make a real effort to style their stall and have themes to what they are selling as with this colourful example below.  Others pile it all on and the sturdier amongst us get down and have a good rummage!

I see this stall with its roses in bottles at many of the fairs including Ardingly.  I've no idea if they ever sell any as I keep seeing them, sometimes months apart!  Very pretty, though.

Paper ephemera has become another favourite of mine.  This seller had come all the way to Shepton from Brighton.  What is it about old script writing and parchment paper that is so appealing?  It was quite pricey, though.

We have a big car and we know how to fill it!

Almost better than the treasure hunting itself, is getting back home and having a play with all the goodies I've found.  Over the last few months, I'd been on the look out for pieces for the sitting room we've just decorated (so nearly ready to show you that, just the curtains to hang).  When I get home, the Furry Inspector is always ready for a good sniff!

Other than the fairs, there are lots of pretty villages and towns in the West Country to visit.  The other week, we popped to Honiton, just over the border in Devon, which is a town known for its many antiques shops.  I was on the look out for a side table for the sitting room (which we did indeed find) however on perusing one of my favourite shops, I could not leave this gorgeous Suffolk Puff quilt behind.   Made with many 1930's feedback fabrics, it was a must-have for my collection and in fabulous condition.  Drool!

If you've been reading my blog for some time, you'll know how fond we are of Bridport.  It's such a friendly town and we now know many of the shop owners and street market traders by name and have a good old natter.  Nothing is better than a Saturday mooching the street market and nearby vintage shops then heading to The Stable for pizza and cider.  I rarely come away empty handed though some weeks are better than others, of course.  As usual, textiles are my favourite and I've added some nice bits to my stash in recent times.

Hmm, more fabrics, a gorgeous pin cushion and I can never leave behind an old tape measure which is in inches only.

My style and tastes have evolved a little of late.  I still love the flowery 1940's vintage look but I've also become fond of faded country house textiles, many of which have come from across La Manche from France.  I'm building up my stash of such fabrics and have been trying to add some reds.  These fabrics are sadly very costly when you do find them so I only tend to have them in small but precious amounts.  I couldn't resist the vintage red leather baby shoes I found on a stall at Bridport's street market.  Too cute!

I don't just go out buying fabrics to look at, of course, I really do use them!  You may remember that I started a hexagon English Paper Piecing project a while back.  I enjoyed whiling away the evenings making the little rosettes and finally, the piece was large enough for a cushion front.  I set to, making the cushion cover on my old Singer Featherweight, making my own covered piping for the first time in many years and (yikes!) deciding to insert a zip alongside it.

It was one of those days when everything just went right and after a morning's work, my cushion was completed.  The idea was for it to look as if it had been made from a section of an old patchwork quilt.  I'm quite chuffed with it.  Of course, I have a new EPP project on the go already!  More of that soon.

Back to treasure hunting, the recent flea market at Shepton Mallet was absolutely heaving.  I wonder if this fair is going to become a victim of its own success.  It now attracts a lot of dealers which makes it rather less fun for the everyday punter.  The organiser is obviously happy and the entrance fee is going up from £3.50 to £4.50 at the next fair in April.  Hmm!

I am happy if I come home with a handful of vintage fabrics and even more so, if like last time, I can add a vintage quilt to my collection (do you see how it's now becoming a collection!)  Last time, I was lucky enough to find this rather divine feedsack grandmother's garden quilt at a lovely thrifty price.  The Furry Inspector wasted no time in getting on with his job as soon as I walked through the door and laid out the quilt for inspection.

No, Charlie Boy, it's not for you.  Awww mum!

I decided to give it a bath which I'm not sure I'll do again in a hurry!  It was incredibly heavy when wet and of course, it is not easy to get them dry at this time of year.  Anyway, it is now fresh and clean and just needs a couple of seams fixing and one patch mending.

Well, that's it for today, lovely readers, I have a date with a paintbrush for the rest of the day! 

Enjoy the sunshine. Xxx