Thursday, November 18, 2010

Variations on a Theme

Well only one variation so far technically! A friend of my Mum was kind enough to admire my hats recently and asked if I could make one of them in a different colour scheme to match her outfit as mother of the groom for her son's forthcoming wedding.  So, always happy to have an actual proper excuse to make a hat, off I went.  As her favourite was my black and pink button hat, we decided on a colour scheme to match her outfit and here is the result,
Here is the new hat with the original version.

So if there any hats in previous posts that you would like in an alternative colour scheme then just let me know!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Hatting in Felt

At last Ive had a bit of time to actually start using all the fab blocks that my lovely friends got me for my 30th from Guy Morse Brown. I've also bitten the bullet and branched away from my tried and tested buckram and silk or sinamay construction and used felt! I decided to start with one of the simplest of my new blocks, a rather fetching slanted mini fez style and use a plain black wool cone-

So having read everything about blocking felt in all my hat books and costume books and searching the internet for hours I fired up my super powered iron and started steaming. I was definitely too timid to start with and was not using nearly enough steam as when I put the felt cone over the block and tried to pull it into shape nothing happened... Wool is a bit water resistant when ironing wool coats etc you have to spray it with water then whack it with a ruler or something to get the water to penetrate before you can iron any creases out. So with this in mind and having upped the steam generator to full power and really filled the inside with steam and then covered the felt with a wet cloth and used the iron to press the felt I started getting the shape of the block into the felt.  It is quite remarkable the way the fibres shift in the felt to allow you to mould the fabric into a 3D shape. After much pulling and swearing when I accidentally steamed my fingers the little felt blockbegan to take shape
Just a few pins...

More pins and an
almost recognisable shape.

The felt removed from the block and the edge folded under, wired and sewn.
As the block is quite a 1940's shape I decided to decorate it with a felt flower, a popular decoration of the time. Hats were not rationed during WWII and they were often the only garment a woman could easily acquire as no coupons were needed or had to be saved. However, as the war continued materials became more scarce and new hats became harder to come by, so scraps of felt were an ideal way to revive an old hat.  Miniature versions of mens hat styles were very fashionable and were worn perched on the head, tilted at a rakish angle.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Blue and White

Well things have rather got in the way of sewing and hatting.  There is some evidence that I have picked up a new micro bacteria, so in an attempt to see I've been sending off samples left, right and centre (two of which got tested for the wrong things then chucked-grr) having a CT and a bronchoscopy.  I also had another two weeks of IVs to tide me over as I got yet another cold. All this has resulted in my spending far too much time at Papworth which I could have spent doing far more fun stuff!  We've also acquired two new cats, Patch and his mum Socks (I'll post about them when I manage to get pictures of them that are not a blur!) so I've not had time to take pictures of the latest hat.  So better late than never, here they finally are-

This is a very girly pillbox hat made from pale blue sinamay, that fastens at the back of the neck with a ribbon bow. It's decorated with a lace rosette with a large swarovski stone in the middle and finished with white hackle feathers and more swarovski crystals on wires-you can never have too many shiny things!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Nightmare at George Street!!!

So when you move into a new house you do expect there to be some things that you don't like and that you will have to change. However, at George street we have something a bit more special than that.... A wall mural that actually scares me witless is possibly a little unusual! I give you the wall of Mr EB's study-
I mean argh, help, yikes!!!!! What the heck is that? One of my birthday party guests suggested it was probably someones  A-level art project and was probably titlled "genocide" or something equally creepy. It's basically a repeat of someones face done in loads of different styles. If you look closer at it, it really doesn't get any better...

There is even one in there that has no eyes.... shudder. So we shall soon be removing this, er thing,  from the wall and painting it a nice plain colour.  We certainly can't just paper over it, because we'll know that it's still there looking at us.....

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A new friend at George Street

Whilst pottering around our new garden at George Street I had a close encounter with my new friend, our local Robin who spends a lot of his time in our apple tree. In fact any other Robins who pass by get seen off in no uncertain terms, so our garden is clealy his patch. Mr Eb and I spent about an hour or so weeding around the bottom of this accompanied the whole time by a very brave and curious Robin who sat above us keeping up a constant stream of whistles and whirrs. I hope that he does not mind us being here and is just curious and looking for some food as he seemed very excited and nearly ended up sitting on my leg at one point! I only took a few snaps as he took definite exception to the chirrup my camera makes when it focuses and dive bombed me to try and scare off an obvious competitor!  I've started putting food out and hopefully we'll soon have more birds and keep on seeing this little chap.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

September so far...

..has been sooooooooooo busy!  First off it was my 30th birthday! Bit of a weird sensation as as I get older I am more conscious of the whole life expectancy issues of having CF, but never mind nothing I can really do about it so I shall just try and ignore it! My birthday was great, Mr EB, my parents and I pottered off to Wimpole Home Farm to have a quiet walk about and a really great lunch at the fab restaurant there.  We then spent the rest of the day flopping about as we were all knackered from the other big event of September, namely Mr EB and I moving into our lovely new house!  I love our new house, and will post photos just as soon as I can remember which box my camera got packed in... I actually had my 30th birthday party the day after we moved in, which was the day after my actual birthday.  It was not meant to be as hectic as this but the move date got shoved back and back again several times so that our original early August date became mid September.  Ah well, after much scrubbing and cleaning (the last owners seem to have stopped cleaning once the offer was accepted...) we got the basics sorted out.  We'll still  be living from boxes for a while but it is fantastic to have so much space! Can't wait to get everything totally unpacked and sort out all the annoying little DIY jobs that need doing...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Richard and Josie's Wedding

Last Saturday my brother Richard married his lovely girlfriend Josie at Birmingham Registry Office. It was a very small ceremony of just immediate family and was such a lovely day. Sophie was fantastic throughout and gurgled along with the vows! They very kindly asked me to be a witness and I managed not to make any blots or mistakes on the certificate-thank god...  After the ceremony we walked the short way (via all the fountains) to Bank restaurant for a fantastic lunch.  Even more food followed later at the Regency Club at the Hyatt Hotel and the wedding cake really was amazingly delicious and gold! It was made by Josie's step mum, Elizabeth and I am definitely taking a leaf (no pun intended) out of her book with the edible gold leaf topping.  It was also a double celebration as Saturday was my Mum and Dad's Ruby wedding anniversary. I'm sure Josie and Rich will manage as many happy years together, and I'm hoping to manage a few with Mr EB!
One of the funniest parts of the day was Sophie chewing Mum's gold locket- I don't think she was trying to test the gold's authenticity, but even with only one tooth she has still left a rather good tooth mark on the back... I think I will try and get the locket engraved with the date and Sophie's name for posterity!  (As usual all these photos were taken by Mr EB as he is just better at it than I am!)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Crashing and burning....

Well I can't say I am surprised, but I am back on the IV's.... Going by my annual review results and my CRP levels (the level on infection markers present in your blood) for the last few months it is pretty clear that I have been harbouring some nasty lurking infection for quite a long time and never quite completely squashed it with past antibiotics.  Last Wednesday was my annual review results and whilst some things were good-liver and bones are in particularly good shape, my lungs are definitely on the decline and Dr Barker suggested we recheck my CRP levels and then consider IV's this week so that I would not miss Rich and Josie's wedding.  My levels were indeed up to 33, which is not that high (below 15 is ok) but it has been at that level for ages and it is not a good idea to let it linger.  Sadly, my lung function today was down to the lowest it's been ever, which is not that surprising as I am feeling really rather rubbish at the mo.  Today my tests showed that I have less than 50% of what I should have (both the FVC and FEV1 tests). That's  sort of like saying I've only got one working lung!  This is really not good!!!

The Doc's seem to think that I should recover back to my usual 65%, but I am not happy at all about this drop-to put it mildly...  So now I have the dubious pleasure of trying to do two IV drugs, Tazocin which I've had before and Imipenum which is a new one for me, but has to be taken four times a day!!! This means every six hours...when am I going to sleep! Combined with the fact that tazocin is three times a day, so every eight hours...well you try making those two fit together without ending up permanently being attached to a drip stand! I'm going to have to cheat a bit and try and stretch the numbers to make it bearable and so that I get more than four hours sleep in one go-wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Another button hat!

Well it has been such a busy weekend, I am shattered... My brother Rich married his lovely lady Josie and we spent the weekend celebrating their marriage in style, with lots of food, up in Birmingham.  I'll post photos of this later when I have actually managed to organise and edit them. I'm so pleased for both Rich and Josie and had a fantastic day. Sophie was such a good girl throughout and even gurgled at appropriate moments during the ceremony!

Anyway, the hat for this post was actually finished before the weekend but I did not have time (or the money) to organise an outfit to go with it so I wore my lovely silver rose hat and matching ensemble again. I have not decided yet if I am going to keep this hat or sell it, but I am really pleased with the curly wire and bead decoration. I've not used it since the first hat I made last year, but I think I may use it lots more as it is such a fun decoration that moves and sparkles most pleasingly! I also really like the colour combination or pink and black, a bit different from my favorite black and white.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hat Block Buying

My latest addiction is adding to my collection of hat blocks.  I originally only had two that I bought from Guy Morse-Brown, a fabulous block maker where I would happily spend every penny I have. Their website is if you want to take a look. However, I now have four hat blocks... I have discovered that I can combine my love of Ebay and feed my addiction to hat making... Not good for my wallet-especially as I am in the process of buying a house with Mr EB so am already feeling very poor!  At least on Ebay I can stick to my do not spend more that £40 a time rule. I've always had this rule with Ebay, as I don't want to spend loads of money on something then find out that it's a fake or have it not turn up etc etc. I've only ever been totally shafted on Ebay once when trying to buy a pair of spotty tights that never arrived-I never got my money back but hey, at least it was only £5.  So I never spend more than £40 on Ebay because that is the most I am prepared to loose on one item. 

So far I've got two off Ebay and I've just been trying out the first one to arrive.  It is a fairly basic but very useful shape; I've seen them called button blocks for the obvious reason that it looks a bit like a big button-

So it was out with the black sinamay and feathers I've had hanging around for ages and off we go! Blocking sinamay is so much pleasanter than buckram, because the sizing is no way near as sticky and the fabric is no where near as tough and is much kinder on your hands.  The finished shape did take a bit of levering off the block but once off it's a lovely rounded shape and I am rather pleased with the finished decorated article-

Close up of the decoration

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I hate veiling!

The problem with veiling is that it is very springy.... Just when you think that you've got it all beautifully pinned just where you want it it springs away and usually wraps itself around every tool that is within reach and ties itself in a big knot! So after much swearing and cussing I finally got the veiling secured on this hat as a nice little birdcage veil that does not look like a total balloon!

The ribbon roses before being attahced to the hat base.

Monday, July 05, 2010

National Transplant Week!

Today is the start of National Transplant week, and as this is a very important issue to me I thought that I would follow the example of several of my friends and do a blog post about it.  One day I may well need a double lung transplant due to my CF so I am always keen to raise awareness of the shortness of donor organs. To start with here are a few facts about organ donation:
  • You are more likely to need a transplant than become a donor.
  • You can donate kidneys, liver, lungs, heart, pancreas and small bowel - saving up to 9 lives
  • Corneal tissue can give someone eyesight
  • You can choose not to donate particular organs/tissues
  • 94% people agree with donations, 96% would accept an organ - but only 28% are on the register
  • 8000 people in the UK are waiting for transplants but less than 3000 are carried out each year
I've always found the figures about transplant rather depressing.  I know that so many people when asked say "yes I would donate my organs"  -so why are they not on the list???? I really get annoyed when people make daft excuses, like they've not got round to it yet...Well why not???? It is so easy to register and takes just a few seconds to register online. Here is a link if you have not already registered-

You could also consider donating blood, without which many operations, including transplants, would not be able to take place.  I have several friends who have received transplants and when you see just how much difference a new organ can make to someones life then you would not hesitate to join the register. Even tho some of my organs can't be used for transplant (for obvious reasons!) I'm still on the donor register as someone who needs them is welcome to the whichever of them can be used, when I've finished with them or course...

If you are wondering whether or not you should join the donor register then just ask yourself one question- Would you accept a transplant?  If the answer is yes, then you should join the register. It is not exactly ethical to accept someone else's gift if you are not prepared to be generous in return.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Roses are...

Silver in this instance!  As I have finished the latest wedding dress for my lovely friend Carley who gets married tomorrow I thought  I would get back to my adventures in hatting.  A couple of months ago I bought my first hat block from Guy Morse Brown, but sadly I've not yet have time to try blocking anything on it. So now I've got time what else could I do but make a new hat to go with my outfit for Carley's wedding! The block is a basic dome crown which is recommended as a first block as you can make lots of small disc shapes with it as well as pill boxe and a small cloche shapes.  I started by covering it in clingfilm to protect it from the sizing in the buckram I was using. Sizing is a sort of glue come stiffener which holds the buckram in the shape that it is blocked into.
Having dampened the buckram I placed it over the block and started pulling it down and pinning it to eliminate as many creases as possible.  Once the buckram is wet the sizing gets incredibly sticky and when I next do some blocking I am definitely wearing rubber gloves as it took forever to clean the stuff of my hands afterwards! I managed to smooth the creases out over the top of the block, the sides were still a bit creased but as I was only planning on using the top I did not worry too much!
Once the buckram had dried completely (with the help of a hair dryer) I removed it from the block. This was quite a struggle as it was pretty solid once dry and once the pins were removed I had to insert a thin spiral bone between the block and the buckram and lever it off! Having decided beforehand that I wanted a small circular perching hat I cut out a circle or abour 10cm diameter from the top of the blocked buckram. Like my other hats I then wired the edge and mulled the buckram with interfacing to soften the form. I then covered it with silver silk dupion to match my jacket and dress.
So having finished the form all that was left was to decorate it.  This is always the most fun part and I thought that the selection of grey and silver ribbons I'd got to match the outfit would make nice roses for a fairly vintagey kind of look.  I'd finally found a way of making roses that actually look rather like roses rather than squashed cabbages! In fact, I think they have a rather Rennie Mackintosh Rose look to them and am rather pleased with my first attempts at blocking.