Girl Lacer gets her first choice school!

Never had the wait for the post seemed so long. It didn’t help that the kids i.e. Boy Lacer woke up earlier than normal this morning, nothing beats (not) the pre 7am alarm call of a screaming 2 year old. So that woke everyone else up; Girl Lacer instantly resumed her previous night’s imaginary game of ‘lets go to the pirate ship’ as in the pirate ship at the Princess Diana Memorial playground, so that involves an imaginary trip on the bus, followed by an imaginary trip on the tube, which I had to come on, whereas I was having trouble keeping in touch with the actual reality of getting dressed and getting breakfast.

Now the post is never particularly prompt, it has been known before to come during the school run, the afternoon school run, so I could have had a long wait, but luckily the postlady was merciful (she’s a nice postlady, if she sees you in the street and she has a parcel to drop off she rushes over and gives it to you, instead of carrying merrily along her way and then promptly dropping the parcel off at the post office for you to go and queue up and collect later (which is a pain), when she first did that, that so shocked us, hardened ex-inner Londoners, ahhh life in the ‘burbs).

So Girl Lacer gets her first choice school, it’s the same school she goes to nursery at, so she’ll be there in reception with all her little nursery friends. It’s not that surprising she got it, we live literally a playing field away from it, but it is an extremely popular school. The catchment area for it this year was the miniscule 0.8km, I’m sure in the three primary schools I went to as a child, I lived far further than 0.8kms for all three of them. Anyway it’s extremely popular as it is a rather excellent school, just from the nursery alone, Girl Lacer now knows most of her letters and can hazard a very good guess at the first letter of most words, plus she can do basic addition and subtraction and is starting to explore multiplication and although she can do all this it is in no way a hot house. They have an excellent reputation for special needs, which considering now that Girl Lacer has a place, Boy Lacer will follow in 2 years (nursery in 1 year), may be rather necessary.

Also in the post today was the new Aranzi Aronzo translated book, which is very cute but looks rather tricky, more on that later but needless to say I want to make everything! And (drum roll) by Rocket plants, so they’ll have to be extracted from their cosy straw bedding and planted today, I’m going to be busy!

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Pasty legs

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Ahhhhh, spring definitely arrives the first day I feel like I can go out bare legged in a short(ish) skirt. So out comes my favourite skirt, an old patchwork thing from MS Per Una from a couple of years ago, my retro Clarks sandals which I’m in love with and my bare pasty legs which honestly won’t change colour that much between now and next September, except possibly lobster pink if I skimp on the sun tan lotion. Winter, I am most definitely a trousers  jeans girl, I can’t stand tights, so I tend to avoid skirts in winter unless I want to dress up and try and intimidate someone (and as a stay at home mum, that doesn’t happen), but in summer, well the old legs get an airing, I love the wonderful varieties of skirts you can get in the summer, with the most wonderful fabrics, it’s one of the (many) reasons why I’m trying to teach myself to sew, so that I can make my own, but I’ve been jumping ahead of myself a bit on that front (I can’t even do a cushion at the moment) and I’ve been looking at fabrics and they’re not inspiring, I guess the retailers have access to better, in house manufactured (probably) fabrics. I do love the fabrics from Superbuzzy but they’re american 😦 , however I have also been drooling over Ikea’s fabrics (although what they’re like for clothing I don’t know) and at least I can get there. Anyway I’m digressing, I love summer skirts, I have a couple of new ones lined up in the wardrobe, Boden’s sunflower skirt (I love Boden’s skirts, I’m currently hankering after their union jack mini) and a cheap red and blue flowery skirt. I also have a couple of brown linen skirts, a Cath Kidston demim skirt, an old red Top Shop skirt an an old floral Gap skirt.

So the weather was sunny, the washing on the line and Girl Lacer on holiday. She’d badgered me into promising a trip to McDonalds yesterday (we were going anyway 😉 ), so in town today for a spot of shopping and lunch out. On the way back we stopped by the playground, which was packed (instead of it’s usual winter one or two brave parents occupation levels) and by the time we got home it was nearly tea time. Tea turned out to be late, we have a small kitchen, with a horrible ancient built in single oven that’s not that reliable, so when it came to purchasing a microwave we got one of those combi things, that was nearly 4 years ago and the buttons have been slowly going. It’s been great for cooking the kids tea as it heats up so quickly as opposed to the ancient built in but the button that specified temperature went today, so we’ll have to stick with the ancient thing for the moment and get a new one soon.

Anyway, one final thing. Whilst out I noticed that it was my town’s book festival time again, complete with the usual associated adverts for various creative writing courses from the local university. This year they’re advertising a particular creative writing course that looks veeery attractive, unfortunately, as is the case for me as usual, the price isn’t, will have to keep plugging it alone. Still there is a free session which I’ll attend, something along the lines of ‘how to find time for writing’ and to quote Mr. Lacer “write when the kids leave home”, very true.

Treeling

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My latest softie called Treeling. He’s from the book Softies and is my second project from there and so far I’m really liking this book.

Although I’m learning to use my sewing machine, I’m not confident enough yet to make softies, so I hand sewed Treeling and I’m actually quite pleased with the effect. I definitely think this is the best softie I’ve done yet, but still practice practice, practice!

A bit of a break from softies next as I’m in an embroidery mood, will be making my sugar candy skull badge next and I have to make two as Girl Lacer has put an order in for one to.

See that sleeping rabbit?

See that sleeping rabbit?

Sleeping till noon

Shall we wake him up with a merry tune?

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Sorry, I couldn’t resist, ‘Sleeping Rabbit’ is a favourite song of mine and the kids, anyway may I not so proudly present my first ever machine sewn cushion, which didn’t turn out that machine sewn as I had to reinforce half the seams by hand sewing. However I am more happy with my (hand) embroidery, the pattern is from Doodle stitching by Aimee Ray from her ‘Sweet Dreams Baby Pillow’. My pillow was smaller, planned smaller I should add and then got even smaller due to my bad hemming (I really need to invest in some better rulers and fabric markers, that’d help), I had to free hand some of the design as I had trouble transferring the pattern, I changed materials to an old flannel sheet of the kids, which I think gives it a soft, vintage, falling apart at the seams (literally) feel to it, I also switched colours by mistake when I was doing the plants in the design. In case you can’t tell what the design is from the photo, it’s a sleeping rabbit in the moon, the moon and star light radiating over the ground below. Some of the plants were meant to have seed heads, but I had trouble doing those and Girl Lacer (the intended recipient of the cushion, I suspect she’ll use it for her teddy to fall asleep on) thinks that the seed head part of the design are insects and she says they’re her favourite bit, so fair enough. So overall it’s a nice design, I think it’d work quite well on a plain pyjama case.

There are a few other good looking designs in the book, it will be used again and so will my sewing machine, hopefully better next time. I think with my machine sewing I need practice, practice, practice, unfortunately I don’t have that much time for projects and a queue is developing; next up is finishing my half completed treeling toy, which is hand sewn (thank god, I think with all of it’s curves I’d have made a pig’s ear out of it), then is my Sublime Stitching Sugar Candy skull badge, then another attempt at an embroidered cushion, this time for Boy Lacer, featuring Sublime Stitching’s Rocket design, so that will see me dusting off my machine again, then possibly it’s a tote bag with Sublime Stitching’s Space Girls on (guess who’s just had a Sublime Stitching delivery?).

 

Feel the fear and do it anyway (eventually)

About 3 1/2 years ago, shortly after we’d moved into our current flat I came into some money, I think my gran gave me some and unbelievably (well it’s unbelievable now considering there’s always things on the never ending shopping list of things we need to buy if we have the money) I had some money spare so I brought a sewing machine. I only had one child then, Girl Lacer, still just a baby really but I foresaw the day where “a sewing machine might be useful”, thinking about fancy dress costumes, school plays and the like. It got delivered, I got it out of the box, went “yikes” and left it in storage in my bedroom for the next 3 1/2 years.

Now that sewing machine has been nagging away at the corner of my mind all that time, it wasn’t exactly cheap and I always figured I should learn to use it. I had used a sewing machine before but that was when I was about 11 and it was one of those old fashioned Singer machines with a turn handle at school and I don’t recall being particularly good at it. Recently though I have become increasingly interested and concerned about ‘lost skills’, I am sure that if you traced down my family line from female to female everyone knew how to sew, at least the basic stuff, passed from mother to daughter but that got lost thanks to the 60s and increased commercialisation. I’m pretty sure, no actually I know my mum knew how to sew, actually she could weave to, I remember ‘playing’ with her loom when I was small (she was an artist and did some textile work) but I don’t know, I lost interest / my mum didn’t have time /I don’t know basically, interestingly whereas I remember playing with the loom, her trying to teach me to knit, my younger sister doesn’t, so it may have been the demands of a growing family. So although I do have the seeds of crafty stuff in my early childhood I’m pretty much having to teach myself.

I am also, like a lot of people, increasingly concerned about where the ‘cheap’ products we buy come from. When we went from two incomes to one income we had to do the whole Primark thing and although at first sight £2 kids pjs are great you have to wonder exactly who is being ripped off, also Primark clothes never last very long before falling to pieces so adding to the whole landfill problem.

So although I am under no illusions I could make all mine and the kids’ wardrobes, I would like to contribute to it, I would like to be able to show my kids that it is possible to mend things without throwing them away and about how much effort has gone in to making that cheap, so on trend you’ll have to throw it away when the trend fades top and that it’s not that difficult to run up, say a cushion.

I’ve always had the attitude of why pay someone to do something when you can do it yourself, even when we had more money we’d paint our own walls thank you instead of getting someone else to do it (which shocked my friends), me and Mr. Lacer are perfectly capable of tiling a bathroom and Mr. Lacer (despite being happier with a keyboard than a saw) is now capable of designing and building a shelving unit from raw materials (and it looks pretty professional). So with my addiction to tote bags I thought I’d better at least dust off that sewing machine and start learning how sew those.

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And as you can see from the photo (of the sewing machine in it’s case) I literally had to scrape the dust off. One of the reasons which had stopped me using it all these years was that I was worried that a) bits were missing b) it had gone rusty (and I had good reason to worry about that part as when we were having our ceilings sound proofed the bathroom was one of the few rooms we didn’t do, so Mr. Lacer stored everything in the (still used) bathroom, including the sewing machine, I found it in their slightly damp and gave Mr. Lacer an earful). I was also worried that being in a small flat, would it be too noisy.

Well yesterday I got the sewing machine off the shelf, uncovered it, wiped off all the thick dust and then thought, “argh where’s the power cable?”, remembered that I’d seen a box with the sewing machine’s brand name (Janome) on somewhere, turfed everything out of our storage cupboard and found the box at the very bottom, complete with power cable, pedal and very importantly the instruction manual. Looked at the instruction manual, noticed it came with not one but two screwdrivers, thought twice about using anything that came with it’s own screwdrivers and then carried on. I got it on the table, plugged it in, the light (which I didn’t know it even had – I’m a complete novice here) came on, it was like the moment where Will Smith’s character in The Pursuit of Happyness has finally fixed the little light on his portable X-ray machine. So it wasn’t that corroded then. I had a go (as recommended) at threadless sewing on a piece of paper, no problem. But then it came to threading it, that bit took two hours and several interventions of help from Mr. Lacer, put it this way, now I know what the kids song “Wind the bobbin up” (link takes a while to fully load) is going on about. Everything was finally threaded, I wasn’t totally convinced correctly but I got a scrap piece of fabric, stuck it in and hey presto a line of stitches! I then folded the fabric in two and sewed two of it’s free sides up, turned it the otherside out and hey presto I had a seam. By then it was nearly midnight (I had been going since 9.30pm, thankfully the machine turned out to be fairly quiet) and I had to go to bed so the intricacies of the zig zag foot will have to be learnt another time, but put it this way, I’m hooked!

So, first step I think is going to be cushions, I’m going to combine this with another interest, embroidery and embroider something then turn it into a cushion. Then I’d like to move onto tote bags but ultimately I’d like to maybe make a few simple skirts for Girl Lacer and move my very slow soft toy making from hand to machine sewing and if I get really adventurous I’d love to learn how to make cotton summer hats, my head is larger than what the average fashion chain seems to think it should be, so I can never get summer cotton hats to fit (a woolly hat has some stretch) but I can imagine that’s quite difficult.