Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Old Pill Factory

One of my favourite places for vintage homeware is The Old Pill Factory in Witney. Sometimes I imagine I live there. Here are two of my recent finds -  vintage Mothercare and an amazing, outsized 70s fabric cushion by Emma Boyne. The cushion was a dilemma, but in my eyes, there's always room for one more 70s textile in the house. For once, Mr Loulabelle agreed!

My new cushion as a Work in Progress! Source: Emma Boyne Designs

Friday, 27 September 2013

Fruits of the forage

Alongside perpetually sunny summers and white Christmas', the stained fingers and slightly gritty teeth of a blackberry forage are abiding memories of my Norfolk childhood. But somehow, over the years, I stopped picking berries - maybe too much time spent in cities with folk vaguely suspicious about edible wildlife.

But this past fortnight, I've started to look at hedgerows properly again thanks to a wonderful day of foraging and jam making with the lovely people of Abundance Oxford.  Based at Hogacre Common, an old college cricket ground, Abundance is run by volunteers passionate about urban fruit harvesting. Our guide Joe, was particularly interested in medicinal properties of plants - while quite a lot of the things he uncovered for us tasted of "green" my favourite plant finds were horseradish (never knew that the leaves are tasty too) and mustard. But it's definitley the fruit that got me all fired up - plums, apples, hoar berries, rosehips, and sloes to name just a few of our fabulous finds.


We've since been exploring the fields and hedgerows near us, and have been amazed at just how many sloes, elderberries, damsons and blackberries there are.  On our foraging day, we learnt how to make jam and jellies -  I'll definitely be attempting to achieve  a good "gel matrix" again at home, thanks to our Science of Jam lesson from the incredibly knowledable Andy. However, it has to be acknowledged that so far, pretty much everything I've foraged has been put into gin!

Monday, 16 September 2013

Colour block

Our four walls have been through a tough time this summer. Well actually, it's the floor that had the worst of it. Way back in June a burst water mains pipe flooded our little row of houses resulting in all sorts of house-based shenanigans. Thankfully, the water was clean, and the damage was fairly minimal compared to what many others have had to contend with in the winter floods this year. We were working an "industrial chic" look for most of the summer, but finally, we have carpets, newly painted walls and a kitchen floor again.

Anyhoo, as a result of all this kerfuffle our little house has felt somewhat neglected, and now that we have cosy toes and pretty paint again, it's been great to fluff the cushions and titivate.

Some may call this a titivation too far... but, inspired by the shelves of my lovely friend Jo (recently featured in Crafty Magazine), I've been shuffling our books into colour theme. Mr Loulabelle, was somewhat disturbed at first, but has since grown to accept that he just has to remember the spine colour to find his books - easy peasy if you ask me!

Friday, 13 September 2013

Dressmaking for Beginners

The Pinworks Autumn term of stitching began this week and we are off to a flying start with a new batch of beginner dressmakers.

I always get a little flutter of nerves when I haven't taught for a while, but as soon as the "My name is Verity and I'll be your teacher" patter begins, the butterflies are replaced by the buzz that only the smell of new fabric and eight eager faces can bring!

After seasons of leaving it too late, I've actually managed to produce a sample of the dress - a semi-fitted, sleeveless shift with bust and waist darts, back slit and zip. It's a great pattern for beginners - lots of different skills involved, and a lovely flattering style that suits all shapes and sizes.

So, here's to the next 7 weeks of dressmaking fun - I'll share the wonderful results from the new cohort (LOVE that word!) as they emerge - and you could always pop over to the Pinworks facebook page to get breaking news as it comes!

Anyone seen that pin???
...you can even jump in it... hurrah!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Hello stranger!

Oops, where did those last two months go? Well, while these hands have not been so busy typing, they have certainly been busy stitching. Inbetween enjoying the sunshine and not enjoying some flooded house shenanigans, I've been working on a wonderful order of knitting and crochet needle rolls for two rather wonderful ladies.

I'm not sure how much I'm allowed to say at the moment, so shall stop there, and switch to the medium of photo-visual delight....


Friday, 12 July 2013

Extra Quick 'N Easy - Butterick 3286

I found this pattern during a marvellous bit of box-rummaging at Oxford's Thursday market earlier in the year. I'd been thinking about drafting a simple top pattern, but not quite getting round to it, for ages. This pattern did the job, just at the right time. Who can resist a pattern that declares itself to be, not just Easy, but Extra Quick too - so much so that there's not even time for a proper "and". Don't you just love a 'n?

I decided to go for the scooped neck version to begin with, and true to the billing I was able to cut the fabric out in the amount of time it took my 3 year old to notice I was doing something else vaguely interesting while she was watching Dora the Explorer.

The sewing was simple too - easily completed in one evening, and best of all... I really do like the result. The bust darts are super low and long - they start at about waist height and go up sharply towards the bust apex. This gives that distinctive boxy shape of the mid 60s but with just the right amount of flattering shaping. I used some vintage lightweight fabric that was donated to me years ago by a teacher who'd discovered a sizable stash in an old school cupboard. Next tie I might try something with slightly more drape, but all in all - thumbs up to the Extra Quick 'N Easy. Lemon squeezy.

I decided to go with the garden reflection/drainpipe combo look - edgy stuff 'eh?

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Clasp Clutch Purse Class

On the last Sunday of June, I had the pleasure of teaching a group of 6 lovely ladies how to make a clasp clutch purse.  The last Pinworks workshop until Autumn. Having spent quite some time discussing this class over the past few weeks, I can confirm that it's easier to make one than say one.

I always enjoy teaching, but this class was particularly fun as the ladies were chatty- at times quite giddy (although that was probably the glue) - right from the start.  A good thing for all involved as it meant less of the Verity Warne warm-up act. Anyone else go into verbal overdrive in the face of nervous silence? I once found myself being the only hopping bunny in a room of  mums and toddlers. I was 8 months pregnant. But, that's another story... back to unpronounable bags...

We started off by looking at how to draft a clutch purse pattern (trace round your frame, add some to the sides, don't forget your seam allowance and after that, there's no wrong answer). Then, my group of friendly ladies decided to mix and match their chosen fabric prints to create contrasting linings. I'd initially planned to use plain white calico for the inner bag - so it worked out perfectly that most of the ladies had chosen complimentary fabrics. I'm a sucker for a pretty lining.

Everyone picked up the knack of using fleece interlining to help add structure, and the bag bodies were completed in perfect time. Gluing and applying the frame was clearly not the group's favourite step - it definitely takes some getting to used to and the trick is not to be too kind - you just have to go for it. Remember, baby wipes are our friend. 

So, that's another season of classes completed. Now, it's on to making samples and gearing up for the Autumn timetable - aprons, lampshades and knickers a go go!

Monday, 8 July 2013

Fun in the sun

Splash park and drum making at the Cowley Road Carnival.

Nothing beats an impromptu family rock-out on the drive back home after a day in the sun.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Going round in circles

This weekend we had a family trip to Baby Boogie. Supposedly a Sunday afternoon disco experience for the under 5's, it's fundamentally a thinly veiled excuse for parents to throw some shapes. I highly recommend an audience of 3 year olds as a confidence builder in ones dance abilities. No alcohol in sight - not even a fizzy drink -  and there we were, running through every move in the book of Dad Dancing. Things got wild when someone broke out their Caterpillar. Much whooping ensued. Then the children starting crying.

Anyway, the reason I share, is because we clearly needed a special disco skirt for such an occasion. Luckily I had just the right pattern to hand- Burda Style Issue 6/2013 has a fab dancing skirt. Two-tiered, circular and gathered onto an also gathered waistband. It has a twirl factor of 10.

Although fun to make, it definitely needs a lightweight cotton and I think the fabrics (an ikea bird print and a vintage cotton) were on the heavier end of what will work. The pattern goes for an unfinished raw edge hem. While I like the idea (who wouldn't want to avoid hemming a two-tiered circular skirt), Mr Loulabelle made a comment about it not being finished yet, and I hate to confess that I kind of agree! (ssssh, don't tell him I said that!)

There's a version of this pattern for mum's too - dare I make myself a disco skirt?? Or would it just get in the way of The Caterpillar?

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Stash flash

I've been re-stocking my vintage fabric stash over the past week or so. Would you like to take a peek? Here are some of my lovely new fabric friends. Aren't they pretty?

Friday, 31 May 2013

Pram dress

I'm a sucker for the natty naming of something otherwise ordinary. Case in point:  "bracelet length" for 3/4 length sleeves, "jewel neckline" for a crew neck. It's just one more reason why I like to retreat to vintage land (not really a land, just my head) when it's all bit grey and blergh out and about.

So, it was very hard to resist the lure of the  "pram dress" label on a vintage baby dress that I spotted on Ebay a few weeks ago. True to it's promise, the pram dress did not dissapoint! In fact, as soon as I tried it on little E, the genius of the term was revealed. Get this... it looks like a dress right, but it's sort of really a top. Perfect for babies that are crawling and sitting as it isn't too long and doesn't get in the way, but still looks all pretty and dress like. Okay, maybe I'm making a bit much of this, but I liked the original so much I decided to make my own version.... here it is... The 60s inspired pram dress!


I think if I make it again, I'll make the neckline lower and narrower at the shoulders - 60s baby dress designers get full marks for their choice of length, but not quite full marks for the extremely high, slightly choking neckline!

Friday, 17 May 2013

Knitting bag pattern - the eagle has landed!

Whoop whoop! I am delighted to annouce that the latest Made by Loulabelle pattern is now available in my folksy shop and believe me, it's a good 'un!

Wouldn't you love your own delicious knitting bag to make you feel all organized and clever? Somewhere for your needles to feel at home and safe with their friends instead of stuffed at the bottom of a tote, or stuck in a waste paper basket (okay, so that last one might sound a bit random, but surely I'm not the only one who's been using a  bin for knitting storage... come on, don't leave me hanging!).

So, moving swiftly on.... Here it is, your chance to make your very own knitting bag. I have checked, and double checked and it definitely has more pockets than your hands have fingers. (So, more than 10). Yep, there's pockets for needles, yarn and patterns. It's got loads of room for everything in fact  - probably even the bin you were keeping your knitting in.

Oh, and if you don't feel up to tackling that (admittedly slightly pesky) craft weight interfacing, then you can make a squidgy padded version with eyelets and tape handles instead. Lovely!


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