Thursday, 31 October 2013

Laundering the Woolies

I accept that this is probably a very lame blog post, but I am a little bit obsessive about my laundry.  I separate loads into dark, woollen, towels, shirts, and then I fall down a bit  by chucking all the whites in with the light coloured stuff.  Where I get really obsessive is in hanging things up and then ironing them.

I always carefully shake out laundry and get it as flat as possible before I hang it up.  On tops, I match the seam under the armhole and flatten from there (never from the bottom hem because tops just end up twisted this way).  I flatten socks and match them into pairs.  I always flatten underwear and hang along a side seam ... I could go on for a while.

Anyway, this little post is about how I dry my woollens.  I always carefully shake and flatten them first, then I lay them flat on either the spare bed, or a clean rug.  I make sure the sleeves are uncrumpled, and flat and that the side seams aren't twisted.  This is a picture of my latest load of woollens drying:


Using this method, means jumpers are not crumpled, they don't have washing line fold marks on them, they don't stretch out of shape, or twist at the seams.

Once the jumpers are dry, I usually give them a very gentle press (or seam) with a warm iron.  I like to make sure the sleeves are not creased, and that the bottom hem isn't curling up.  I'm also looking for the perfect padded satin hangers for my jumpers, but I'm thinking I might end up having to make them.
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Thursday, 24 October 2013

Simple Hair Bow Clips

My youngest daughter has very fine, curly hair.  It's always hanging in her face, which drives me nuts.  I usually comb a large fringe section into a bunch, and tie it up neatly.  Sometimes it's nice to use a clip, but most hair clips just slide right out of her hair.  The only kind that stays neatly in place are the small metal alligator clips, with grosgrain ribbon bows on them.  Like these ...


Unfortunately Samantha has a habit of taking out her hair clips and losing them.  Decent quality hair bow clips aren't cheap, so it made sense to have a go at making them myself.  There are loads of tutorials out there for making hair bow clips.  Some are simple styles, some are incredibly fancy.  I found this great tutorial for a fairly simple style bow.

Simply Couture Boutique

I made an even simpler version of this bow by having just one bow loop on each side, rather than the two in the tutorial.  I started by making eight navy blue bows, that could be worn to school.



I found it surprisingly hard to photograph something so small and dark coloured.  Not my best photographs!



These bows are great - they don't fall out.  They have also lasted well, and we still have five left.  Since the first batch were so successful, I decided to make some pink ones.  You can't go wrong with pink!  Surprisingly I've found it really hard to get the two widths of ribbon (9-10mm, and 20-22mm) in many interesting colours.  I ended up with this selection.


I ended up choosing plain white to cover the alligator clip, and I also used it for the knot with the lighter pink ribbon.  For the bright pink striped ribbon, I folded the ribbon in half for the knot.  I would really like to have found matching ribbon in the narrow widths, but it just wasn't available.

These are the finished bow clips being modelled by Olivia and Samantha.



You can't see Samantha's hair very well in this shot, but we call her The Wild Woolly (it's a Bottle Top Bill reference).  She has curly, fluffy hair, and every morning it's a huge tangled mess.  I love using a little clip like this, because it keeps the hair out of her eyes.

These bows are so easy to make and you don't need a lot of supplies.  I bought small alligator clips from Amazon and Grosgrain ribbon from John Lewis.  I also used a needle, strong thread, a glue gun and a candle.  The candle was used to seal the cut edges of the ribbon to prevent fraying.
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Monday, 14 October 2013

The 5 Minute Pencil Case

Olivia is going on a school trip to the Roald Dahl museum tomorrow.  I'm so jealous.  I loved reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach when I was younger, and I really want to go too.

The school emailed me asking for Olivia to bring a "drawstring bag to put a pencil in".  I don't have anything like this around the house, so I quickly whipped this up.



It was incredibly easy.  The most difficult part was trying to decide whether to sew the casing for the cord first (and have difficulty sewing the side seam all the way to the top), or sew the side seam first (then have difficulty sewing the casing).  I ended up sewing the casing at the top first.  I haven't done a step-by-step tutorial, as it really was a 5 minutes sewing job.  This is what I did:


  1. Cut a rectangle of fabric measuring 6"x9".  
  2. At the top of the rectangle fold in 1/4" on each side and press.
  3. Fold the top edge down a 1/4" and press, then fold down 1/2" and press.  This will give you a 1/2" casing with the raw edges tucked inside.
  4.  Fold fabric in half lengthwise (right sides together), and sew 1/4" seam on side and bottom seam.  You will have to pull the seam allowance to one side where it joins into the casing, and sew as close to the casing as you can. 
  5. Trim corners, turn right side out and press.
  6. Using a safety pin or bodkin, thread cord through the casing at the top.  Add a toggle (I think this is the correct word for those cord-holding-thingys).
 The last thing I had to do was sew a name label onto the bag.  I should have done this first, so I could do it by machine, but I completely forgot and had to hand sew it on afterwards.

Here's a couple of close up shots of the casing at the top.



A larger draw string bag would be much easier to make.  If the bag had been bigger I would definitely have sewn the side seam first, and made the casing last.  Because this opening was so narrow, I couldn't get the presser foot inside the opening without causing the fabric to bunch up. 
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Saturday, 12 October 2013

My Front Door is No Longer a Forest of Shoes


Just inside our front door there are usually piles of shoes all over the place.  A little while ago I bought two pink IKEA Trofast tubs and tossed the girls shoes into them.  The hallway was already looking a bit neater.  I decided both boxes needed labels, as I kept putting the wrong shoes into each box.


So much neater.  An additional bonus, is that a lot of the dried dirt from shoes ends up in the bottom of the box, instead of all over the hall floor.

This year Olivia is supposed to be packing her own school bag each day.  I thought it would be a good idea if both the girls had a chart on the wall showing what had to go in their bag each day.  I had two spare IKEA Nyttda frames in red, so I made them a bag packing list and fixed it on the wall above their shoe boxes.



Each girl has one side of the front door for their shoe box and school bag packing list.  It's now a really neat space.


I love this organisation solution.  It was also really inexpensive to implement.  The only expenditure was £6 for the Trofast boxes, and £2.50 for the Nyttda frames.  I printed the labels and lists myself, and used some clear adhesive book covering to attach the box labels, and blutack to hold the picture frames in place.
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