Tuesday, 29 July 2014

the old sew and sew

For me, sewing is a necessary evil.
That might sound a bit extreme, but I really don't like it.
I can do it, and therefore I do, but I don't like it.

I always make a mistake, I always have to unpick something, and I don't have the patience to measure properly.
That probably sounds wierd because I really needed patience to hang my cabinet doors, but sewing.............
my patience just goes out the window.

But when Carol sent me these...........

and I saw this again........

I knew that I wanted to create a new cover for my sewing machine, because the old plastic one was falling apart,

and it doesn't look very pretty under the desk in the guest room (sewing stuff has to stay in this room because it won't all fit into the cabinet).
That little bag hanging to the right of the desk holds all the electrical bits for the sewing machine and that'll get a makeover soon, but first I made this.
I used some old burlap type fabric, some cream fabric I found in my stash to back it and some printed 'sewing' fabric that I've had for a while.
I masked off a border and used my new alphabet stickers to write 'my sewing machine'. I know it's not very original but that's just the way I roll, stating the obvious !
I used both fonts, something that I think has stuck with me after seeing this at Bliss Ranch. I just love the mix of lettering.
I used some black paint and an old stencilling brush which meant I could use the stickers more than once because I was using a stippling action, pushing the paint into the fabric.
I cut up the old plastic cover and used it as a template to make four sides and a top. I cut up the 'sewing' fabric into little labels and used bondaweb to attach them, stitched it all together (twice, because the first time it went wrong !) and embellished it with ribbons and buttons.
The buttons are all shell buttons and are mostly more interesting on the back than the front.
I also found some great buttons in my Grandmother's button box. They're fabric covered metal, in different sizes and perfect for my new cover.
I used a left over bit of border on the top of the machine, and put an eyelet for the spool pin (which actually comes off so that you can pack it away safely, but I love eyelets after doing this project, so didn't want to waste the opportunity to use one).

At least when guests come to stay, the old sew and sew looks slightly better than a bit of torn old plastic.
So thanks again for the stickers Carol, I love the look of the negative stencilling on fabric and will definitely be doing more. In fact I've kept all the stickers I used because I believe they still have 'stickability' and I can't bear to throw them away.

I need to make over the little bag now, which will probably get the obvious name of 'electrical stuff''.
Unfortunately it won't be any time soon because work is busier than ever. My boss has gone on a three week holiday to the States with his family, and I seem to have been promoted from Head Chef to Manager, even though I was never actually asked !
I won't have a little rant here, but suffice it to say I'm rather shattered so apologies if I haven't paid you a visit recently.
I hope you're all enjoying a wonderful Summer.

Friday, 4 July 2014

new cabinet doors

For those of you who haven't been here before, I moved back into this house about a year and a half ago, after renting it out for seven years. I'm slowly decorating the whole house, but my latest project involves adding doors to this cabinet.

I originally wanted a china cabinet with glazed upper doors, so my partner built this unit, and added a wooden detail to the top that he found on a job somewhere. Then he got a computer and made an extra shelf in the bottom section for paper, and even made one section of wood removable, so that he could slide the screen and keyboard behind the non existent doors.
I didn't mind the compromise because there was nowhere else to put his computer, but the doors never materialised.......
and then we both moved out, separately !
After being inspired to turn the cabinet into a craft cupboard by Carol (instead of just using it to house junk) which you can read about here, I was intent on finishing this built in unit.
I went to a wood yard and had four pieces of mdf cut, two with cut outs for the upper doors.
I bought some trim to make a central panel on the bottom doors and to frame the opening on the upper doors, which would also disguise the edges of the chicken wire.

I don't have a special place to work or any special tools, I just used a saw and a mitre block and my dining room table.

I pinned on all the trim in a couple of hours, then tackled the hinges.
I laid out the doors back to back and marked and measured all the hinges, and after another couple of hours, I went from this,
to this,
and then this,

Then I took off the crosses (because I wasn't going for barn door, I was going for European), and put on trims in a diamond shape, and a trim on the edge of one of each set of doors to cover the central gap, added magnetic catches inside and painted the doors dark brown.

I rubbed the edge of a candle on the trims to resist the paint and then coated the doors in two layers of white, and distressed and finished with AS wax .

I trawled the internet for hours looking for handles, and finally found what I wanted, and I really love them.

All that was a breeze compared to fixing the chicken wire and finding some fabric.

I can't quite believe that I had managed to hang the doors straight, with almost no adjustments, but it took three or four attempts and lots of scratches to get the chicken wire right.

And the fabric, oh my ................... I had always imagined tightly gathered white or off white muslin, but it looked awful because it was too bedroomy.
My second choice wasn't much better.
I went to every fabric shop in town and all the charity shops. I even tried old lace tablecloths but nothing looked good, so I went back to the internet and looked at prints and sent off for loads of samples.

I really like the two green fabrics at the top on the right, but I wanted something a little different, so I went with this.....

Yay for map fabric, I love it.
The colours are perfect for the dining room. It has lots of blues, reds and browns. Some of the pictures have a slight green tinge, but the picture below shows the true colours of this great fabric.

Also, I originally found it on the Next website for £15 a metre, then found the exact same fabric on another site for £8.99 a metre, so that was a real result.

My dining room almost looks like a proper room now.
From empty.... to wasted storage space.... to useful art cupboard.... to dining room shabby chic/useful art cupboard......
and it only took 10 years !!
I'm pretty happy and as Vickie has pointed out to me, I can always change the fabric if I go off it, but I don't think that will be any time soon. 
I hope you've all enjoyed your 4th July celebrations, of course we don't celebrate this day in the UK, but most people are celebrating the great weather we're having here.
It's hardly rained at all in the last few weeks, which is very unusual, my garden and I both like a little bit of rain !
Linking up with
Make it pretty Monday @ The Dedicated House
Inspire Me Tuesday @ A Stroll Thru Life
Wow Us Wednesdays @ Savvy Southern Style
Show and Tell Friday @ My Romantic Home
Feathered Nest Friday @ French Country Cottage
Silver Pennies Sundays Link Party @ Silver Pennies

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

more letters, more inspiration and a thank you

If you visit Carol at Art and Sand you will find beautifully sunny days, filled with primary colours, numerous creative projects, the work of an amazing artist and lots and lots of letters.

A shelf spelling out a word, or a cubby full of c's, Carol's collection seems endless.
Just look at this Ikea Expedit showcasing the whole alphabet.

It's inspiring in itself to me, to think of someone who has spent years collecting letters (and numbers) of every size and shape and material possible.

Recently I was admiring one of Carol's many projects, using letters.
I was bemoaning the fact that I can't find any alphabet stickers over here. I finally bought a zinc alphabet stencil set last year, but you can't create the kind of negative stencilling (or reverse stencilling as I think Carol call's it) that I admire so much without stickers, or some sort of cutting machine.
I love the amazing border she created on this tablecloth.

So Carol, kindly sent me some letters, and though I knew they were coming and I had been thinking up loads of ideas, it was only when I was typing an email to say thank you that I had a little light bulb moment and I knew what my first project would be.

That hasn't actually happened yet, but I just wanted to say another big thank you to Carol for my stickers and also for the inspiration I had a while ago to do something else.

Some time ago Carol posted a picture of this work space in her garage and it totally inspired me.

Before this Carol had a corner of Steve's studio and I think before that she kept a lot of her craft supplies in a cupboard, but seeing this work space made me envy the accessibility of everything.

All my paints and brushes were in my under stairs cupboard, which is full of coats, ironing board, vacuum etc and not easy to get to. I was inspired to turn my built in unit (with no doors) in the dining room into my craft cupboard.

This is the before, with pointless old files on the top shelf, which I have culled, decoupage stuff and old maps which needed to stay, and books which needed to find a home somewhere else.

I used two wine crates to provide extra shelving for my paints, and boxes to store the small stuff like stamps.

The bottom section is stuffed full of things to paint. I think I've probably taken it out and put it all back at least ten times.
Since turning this unit into a craft cupboard Carol has actually moved her creative space into the house and now has a wonderful new studio.
But I am very happy with my unit, because I usually work on the dining room table anyway, everything is easy to reach and of course I couldn't leave it like this, I have finally put doors on it, and it's almost as I imagined it, about 12 years ago !
Just a sneak peak. I have now hung these mdf doors, which have some beading detail, are painted white and distressed of course. The handles are on and there is some chicken wire, but I can't show you my finished cupboard yet because I can't find some fabric to put behind the chicken wire.
I have already wasted money on two different types of fabric, but they didn't look right, so I've sent off for some samples and hopefully one of them will work.
So thank you Carol, thank you for my sticky alphabets and thank you for inspiring me to create a special place for the fun stuff.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

life in and around a cafe on the beach .....................

can be hectic, fun, busy, mad, tiring, interesting and sometimes even exciting !

While I'm stuck inside, slaving away in a hot kitchen, people are out and about on the beach, enjoying all that our little slice of Worthing has to offer.

Next to the café there are numerous beach chalets some of which have been turned into artists studios. Soon there will be seven more and a gallery space. After more chalets, which are rented to locals, there is a twin building to ours (you can just see it on the right hand side of the picture).
A few months ago it was opened by Nik and Ant Baker, former professional windsurfers, as a school for teaching various watersports like kitesurfing and paddle boarding.

This is another view of their building (before it opened), with the new local swimming pool behind (which wasn't built in the first picture) and the old swimming pool to the right.

Our two buildings were originally part of a walled garden belonging to Beach House. This is the view from the beach looking north, in a gap between the chalets, with the new swimming pool on the right.

Many people have lived here, King Edward V11 stayed here and some Spanish children were looked after here, as refugees from the Spanish Civil War.

Now it's full of private apartments, all with views of the sea, through the gap between the chalets.
This gap is currently being turned into a water feature.
Behind our café is a great playground with sand pits and a pirate ship.
Beyond that are the sand courts, which we have to run from the café (which is extremely hard when we are busy).
And beyond those arches (part of the original walled garden for Beach House), are the gardens with mini golf, which I'm happy to say is run by someone else.
When the sun shines, the whole place is buzzing, and although I don't get to join in all the fun, sometimes working in a cafe on the beach has it's rewards.

Last weekend this great guy came in the café. I was busy cooking and didn't catch every word, but his accent was very thick. I was thinking that he sounded French Canadian, when I heard him say that he was from Quebec.

I still didn't catch every word when I got a chance to listen more carefully, but it was soon apparent that he was telling us that he is walking around the world.
Yep, he's walking around the world.

He was so charming and never stopped smiling and chatting. I took his picture with Christina, outside the cafe, but we were so busy we didn't get to spend very long with him.
What we did find out, is that he has walked from Vancouver to Newfoundland, and Alaska to Argentina. On his latest leg he started in Ireland, then crossed to Scotland and walked through England and Wales and  he's on his way across the rest of Europe. Every 8 months he has to go home to pick up his pension (he got a special dispensation to pick his pension every 8 months instead of every 6 months), then he goes off again.

His name is Pierre Paul Cayer and he is 67 years old, maybe you've met him.
He reckons he'll finish in about five years and then write a book about his adventures.

That was the Friday, but on the Saturday life got even more exciting (because I'm a sad old woman who doesn't have much of a life !).
The rowing regatta was on, so the beach was busier than usual, but there weren't so many people in the café.
I only had one order on the tab, and took it myself because I had to go to check out the volleyball courts. As I walked back into the café I noticed a cute guy at the till but didn't think anything of it. I started having a little rant about the courts again and was moaning to Christina when the cute guy asked if there was a swing park nearby. Sad old woman that I am, I took the meaning of swing quite differently and gave him a clueless look. Luckily Christina had seen him earlier with his wife and child and directed him to the playground.
His Scottish accent had given him away completely (Christina was clueless this time because she doesn't watch tv and rarely goes to the movies) so after conferring with my favourite barrista Harvey, I concluded that James McAvoy had just been in our café.
Yep, the x-man himself, the brilliant actor that is James McAvoy had just visited our little stretch of the beach.

Just to confirm this fact, I quickly looked him up on Wiki, to find out that his wife is blond and that they have a four year old son. I went outside to scan the surroundings and saw him on the beach with his wife and child.
He was talking and looking straight back at the café where he would have seen a sad stalker like old woman with hand on hips staring straight at him !

I went back inside, where another customer just confirmed that he had indeed seen James McAvoy.

I'm sad I know, I've met famous people before, my bff is married to the son of a well known sporting hero. I worked in a shop in London frequented by Lords, Ladies, royalty and tv stars but seeing an actor I admire in my little town really made my day week month !

I hope he and his family enjoyed their day on our little stretch of beach.

And sorry Mr. McAvoy that when you came back in the cafe later on, there was such a big queue that you decided not to wait.
And to Pierre, good luck with your walk through Europe.