new year challenge | 2018


This isn’t sewing, but thought I’d share what a few of my friends and I have decided to do in January 2018.  Instead of a dry January and attemps at a healthy detox, we have decided to do a plastic detox.  It was sparked by the WI’s plastic soup campaign [plastic soup], its such a huge topic and seems to be in everything – what could we possibly do.

The first change I  made is no take away/disposable  coffee cups (i do fail at times) and asking for a mug/cup instead.  One Starbucks branch have charged me more and I have questioned why, no answer given (kensington high street branch).  Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall did an amazing job at raising awarness of the coffee cup, well worth reading if your interested

The second change I made a few weeks before Christmas was to not buy plastic wraped toilet paper.  I discovered a company called Who gives a crap via Kate Arnell’s youtube channel & blog, great to watch as full of ideas.  WGAC rolls are wrapped in paper, our box had 48 rolls and only had a little tape to seal the box.  Its soft and quality and would reccomend it.

Just before Christmas my toothpaste ran out, I found a natural toothpaste in Holland & Barrett and at the time it must have been on special offer as I didn’t pay the listed price on their website.

IMG_2056  As someone who loves Pearl Drops or Colegate whitening – both very much plastic, this is a huge change. Some toothpaste also contain microplastics, there is a good website where you can look up items that contain microbeads and Polyethylene (PE).  Will be looking at others – although this pot is probably going to last at least 3 months, if not longer.  It’s a powder, you are supposed to take a pinch into the palm of your hand and then with a damp brush mix.  Only did that once as way to messy for me and grey dust went everywhere.  On the plus side, it does clean my teeth very well.

Single use or plastic bags in general a huge problem and the Welsh assembly stopped the use of them.  It took a short while, but things do seem to have changed there.  I visit Monmouth regularly and take along my cloth bag or my favorite basket bought from Didier & Dandelion in Monmouth.  I’ll be sharing a pattern hack of the Burda Style Charlie reusable grocery bag.  I have made mine with bias binding on the raw edges, slightly slimmer handles, french seams for strength and the small pouch has a drawstring closure not envelope.  It scrunches up so neatly and easy to carry around in a handbag, rucksack or briefcase.  Made quite a few as small gifts.  And finally

beeswax wraps DIY

My WI made beeswax wraps and will hopefully very soon be selling them on Etsy.  We used local London beeswax, although any food grade beeswax works.  There are lots of tutorials around here are 2 ONE TWO.  The wax wraps work really well, covering food instead of cling film.  Cheese doesn’t sweat, its non toxic and just need to be wiped down to clean.  If washed they loose the wax, but the fabric can be recharged by adding more wax.  One tip, we used an iron wrapped in tin foil as it it so much easier to control.

I’m going to try to post a short catch up on my progress once a week, though out january and hopefully find my way through the maze.  If you have any tips or things you do, please do let me know!  I also have a pintrest board on plastic free things I find.



Sewing by Heart | Tilda | a review


This is the newest book by Tone Finnanger [Tilda] published earlier this year.  Inside the book are quilts, appliqued cushions, patchwork animals, pumpkins, bee hives complete with bees, Father Christmas with a quilted beard and patchwork Christmas Stocking to name a few projects.

The Bumblebee quilt is a kind of drunkards path design, it comes with good instructions and full size templates.  The Elephant is adoreable and would make a great child’s gift, simple and quick to make.


Tilda has an unusual way of constructing some of the shapes, prefering to draw on fabric and stitch along the line, then cutting out.  I tend to trace a template and add a seam allowance and sew that way, just because it makes more sence to me.  If I have time before Christmas I’ll make the Father Christmas, although the beehive would be a great make and the bee is the symbol of my local WI.

This is a lovely book and I have so enjoyed reading it.  The cottage quilt has inspired me to plan a baby quilt for a friend in the new year. I found the video below on you tube and thought I’d share, as it’s so sweet.

This is not a sponsored post, all opinion are my own.



Little piggie pies

Last week my WI Borough Belles were invited to have a stall at Borough Market.  It was a lovely day even though it was freezing cold and we also got to meet The Duchess of Cornwall, who was so lovely.  We had lots of delicious gingerbread people, lemon drizzle cakes, chocolate brownies, chocolate mocha fudge cakes to name a few, so I thought I’d try a savory.

As we were selling the bakes, decided to go with a good quality ready-made butter pastry [one of the girls said Mary Berry’s short crust recipe was the best she had used] and used free range pork sausages.  Cut a piggie shape, this is the template I based my piggie on, although it was too big for a pork pie.  I think I drew it around half its original size on card and then cut out my pastry, filled the centre with sausage meat, popped on the top and washed with egg and baked.  They were so much fun and will make them again for picnics, we were thinking up vegi alternative fillings on the day.  Been thinking about fun Christmas ideas with mincemeat instead of the usual mince pies and also maybe turkey leftover ideas for boxing day when I have a house full of guests.  I’d forgotten how much fun I used to have making food fun when Miss T was little – all started by the amazing Annabel Karmel book I was given when T was tiny.



sewing for Christmas

I’ve been using the off cuts from a dressmaking project to make gifts.  Will post more on the dress once I can take some photographs.  At the festival of quilts found some Outback Wife barkcloth by Gertrude Made and imideatly decided to make the Rose dress by Sew La Di Da.  I made the Rose earlier this year to wear to my daughter’s 21st birthday party, in a deep blue linen and love it, its been worn to lots of parties since.  This time I decided to make a Midi lengh version and bought 5 metres from Sew Hot and pre washed it, as quite a few people said the fabric shrank by quite a bit.  I kept all the waste fabric from the dress and decided to quilt it to make some gifts.


First to be made were boxy wash bags using this tutorial as a start, I make the lining seperatly and then slip stitch it in place afterwards.  The tassel was made using DMC cotton embroidery threads, so simple and fun to make.  One bag went to the London modern quilt guild with me as my secret santa gift and the other is wraped up and ready to be given to a friend for Christmas.

Next I made some hot water bottles, using my own pattern.  Quite a few years ago I wrote a tutorial for Annie at the Village Haberdashery when I used to blog under Two Hippos.  The only difference with my newer pattern is I no longer curve in for the bottle top.  This makes overlocking the seams together so much quicker and they can also be bound with bias if you want a beautiful neat finish.  I use a layer of insul bright [a heat resistant wadding] and a layer of 100% cotton quilt batting and then place the fabric right side up on top.  Quilt and then cut out, I’ve found this to be so much easier to do and enjoy the quilting.  Using Insul Bright or other insulated waddings keeps the hotwater bottle hot all night.  It is also a must for oven gloves, pot holders and fabric trivets, using a layer of cotton batting gives a little loft and also another layer to protect from heat.  Also works brilliantly for cool bags, sandwich bags etc.

Now back to my sewing machine to finish off my last sewing project before Christmas.




what do you listen to while crafting?

itunes podcasts

itunes podast symbol

I have been busy with commissions and listen to the radio a lot, generally radio 4Extra, a little LBC & podcasts,with the odd netflix/youtube playing.  So I thought I’d share what I love at the moment:  First up


First up is This American Life, probably the best know podcast and I found it after listening to the first Serial story and then came S-Town utterly gripping.  TAL is a weekly episode, presented by Ira Glass.  Its stories or a single story based on something topical in the US and is staged in ‘acts’ always an entertaing listen.


I discovered this during the summer and have really enjoyed working my way through the weekly episodes up to the most recent.  Liz was a journalist and also did lots of tv work, so good at interviewing people.  There are lots of topics, health related from grass-fed free-range milk, baking with Lorraine Pascale to travel tips.  Engaging and interesting and one I listen to as soon as a new episode is released.


Truly Myrtle is a knitting podcast made by Libby, who is a knitwear designer in New Zealand. Her podcasts are all yarn related, there are interviews, news on yarns and general chat.  Although my knitting is very slow and I maybe only work on 1 -2 projects a year, still find this a lovely weekly listen.

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This is one of my most recent finds, Revisionist History.  There are 2 seasons to listen to and so far I have really enjoyed each one.  Malcolm Gladwell is an author of 5 New York Times bestsellers has been named one of the 100 most influential people by TIME magazine.  There is an episode on Winston Churchill & Frederick Lindemann — whose connection to Churchill altered the course of British policy in World War II. This was the first episode I’d dipped into and it was so rich in detail, I’d never heard of Frederick Lindemann and only the general basics on Churchill.  So far only 2 podcast series, 10 episodes each.

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Walking the dog is the latest podcast I’ve found and love it.  Emily Dean interviews people out while walking their dog, they talkabout all sorts of things funny, chattly and a really great listen.

home front podcast

Home Front is a radio 4 historical drama set during the First World War, each daily (mon-fri) episode is set 100 years ago to the day of broadcast.  They include an historail fact in each episode although the characters are fictional.  It is well written and one can hear all sorts of extremely well-known voices, Toby Jones, Joanna David, Freddie Fox & Anton Lesser to name just a few.  It is available as a podcast and also on BBC iplayer.

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A weekly podcast of the latest Friday evenings comedy show including The News Quiz, The Now Show, Dead Ringers and The Museum of Curiosity.  These always make me laugh, slightly disconcerting to passers-by while out walking the dog!

and finally:

you must remember this

You Must Remember This are stories about secret and forgotten histories of Hollywood.  Interesting and often a story will span 2 or 3 episodes.

I’d love to hear what you listen to and any podcast reccomendation!