Friday, 13 July 2018

Fences and Hydrangeas

 I have been enjoying a week off work and have managed to do a few jobs in the garden.  Above is the rather tatty looking fence at the bottom of the garden.  It was painted a nice dark green and did a good job but gradually over the years was looking less than smart.  I had seen a few show gardens on TV and one at RHS Chatsworth where the panels were either painted black or charred so that they were black.  Any green in front of them really looked vibrant. 
As our fence is right at the end of the garden, I thought that painting the panels black would make them 'disappear' when you look down the garden and would also make the plants stand out well.  I painted one coat of black (it said it was one-coat, but I now know better than to believe that) and was really disappointed as it just looked a greyey-green, with the original green showing through.
So, another coat was added and it looked much better.  It the photo above, the sun is making it look lighter than it really is - it does look much darker in real life. Now when you look down the garden, your eye is fooled into thinking it's just a dark area and goes on further.
 The green (camellia) leaves do show up much more effectively now.  However,  I am wondering whether it needs a third coat, just to make really sure...
In other news, my hydrangea collection is doing well, despite the lack of rain.  Above is the newest blue flowered one, looking remarkably pink/lilac.  I would really like a proper blue hydrangea, but seem to be fated not to have one. 
 Here is Diamant Rouge, looking rather more 'vert' than 'rouge' at the moment.
 Merveille Sanguine has a lovely pinky-red flower with cream when it is just opening.
 Really pretty.
 So is Dark Angel...
 .. pinky red and creamy green.
 Annabelle is doing amazingly well and is the only one planted in the ground.  I do give her a bit of extra water, just because it is so dry and she has a lot of flowers to support.
Creamy white with a touch of green.
 Magical Revolution which I am still not sure about due to the colour combination.  It seems happy enough though.
Endless Summer White or The Bride which is a lovely plant with just a hint of pink in the flowers.  It suffered a setback when the wall fell on it, but has recovered really well. 
Perhaps I should give up on a blue one and enjoy the ones I have which are doing so well for me this year.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Crafting and sewing

This made me laugh the other day - Chris found it on the internet. printed it out and slipped it inside yet another crafty supplies parcel which I had ordered.  Obviously it's not just me then...
In other news, I have made a second tunic dress, this time using purple chambray which was gifted to me.  I knew it would come in handy!  The floral material was just a fat quarter, but made the pockets, sleeves and tie ends, so was perfect for this.
The back looks pretty too.  I have finally got the neck right too, without having to add any darts.
I have also got round to making my own bias binding, following a tutorial which I have had for ages, which I am very pleased about.  I am making my third dress at the moment and couldn't find the right shade of bias binding.  So, I used the contrast fabric and made my own, using the nifty little red gadget in the photo above. It isn't difficult although it is a bit time consuming.  However, I am sure the end result will justify the extra time.  Having learnt how to make it, I can now use my own material all the time (unless the pattern needs metres and metres of the stuff, in which case, it is cheaper to buy it!) For the top of the pockets and the neckline for this dress, it is about a metre, so well worth it, I think.  Naturally, I will post a photo of the dress (and hand made bias binding) once it is finished.

Thursday, 28 June 2018

More Sewing

I have had mixed success with the patterns above. I wrote about them here. As you may remember, I made the one on the left, which I wrote about here changing the positioning of the ties and it looked awful on, so I decided to see whether I could alter it, rather than waste the material.
 So, I altered it.
 Now it looks like this.  I'm still not sure it is a total success, but at least I will actually wear it.
 Here's the back.

Then I made the one on the right.  I had to change the rather odd (in my view) pocket detail to the patch pocket which I like and I also had to make the neckline narrower.  Even after altering the pattern, the neckline was still too wide, so I added a few darts.  (I have since altered the pattern again, so hopefully it will be right now).  I also added the contrast material onto the end of the belt tie too.
 Here it is.  It was easy to make (despite my alterations) and I am pleased to report that it looks nice on.  (Even Chris said it was OK, so that was good).
 Here's the back view.
It is a loose fit and could be worn without the belt.  I am going to make several more, using up some of my rather large material stash.  I am also going to use the cheerful bird fabric from the pink pinafore as the contrast too (just because I really like that material), but with a different main material.  There will be more photos as I progress.

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Roses and Peonies

 So far, 2018 has been a wonderful year for roses.  Everywhere you look, roses have been blooming brilliantly.  I have been really enjoying mine and above is a collage (created by using picmonkey) showing some of the beautiful flowers.
Left column: top, Darcey Bussell; middle, Jacques Cartier; bottom, Ferdinand Pichard
Middle column: top, Rosa Mundi, bottom, Pride and Prejudice (that was a birthday present this February)
Right column: top, Winchester Cathedral; middle, For Your Eyes Only; bottom, a vase of Gertrude Jekyll, Cottage Rose, Mary Rose and Ferdinand Pichard.
The peonies were a bit slow this year, probably due to the cold snap in February and March, but they were worth waiting for.  They may only flower for a short time but they do provide a 'wow'.  These are patio peonies, Rome, Athens and Madrid (not necessarily in that order!)
Other roses have started to flower too and the clematis are also making their presence felt, so there may well be more photos to come.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Creative things...and learning important lessons

As I have amassed rather a huge papercrafting stash, including papers, stamps, dies, die cutting machines and various other tools to accompany the aforesaid things, I decided that the time had come to experiment and actually use some of the stash.  I had noted down a few ideas and so had a go in my sketchbooks.  Above are watercolour backgrounds with stamped images.  They worked pretty well, though I did need to stamp twice as the paper was textured. 
I then had a go at stamping and colouring with watercolour pencils, which was surprisingly effective and reasonably quick to do too.
 Here is my favourite stamp set from Altenew - Folksy Florals.  I like the Scandinavian retro feel to these simple flowers and enjoyed building up the colours and patterns.  I have now got the corresponding die set too so will be able to cut out the flowers and leaves accurately.  They are just so cheerful.
At the top of the page is an Altenew Stencil which gives a lovely  watercolour effect using inks.  At the bottom of the page is an embossed leaf stamp which I coloured with watercolour paints.
It was my sister's birthday, so I made her a card using hydrangea stamps and the large image in the centre is embossed and watercoloured too.  One of the great things about stamps is that you can decorate the envelope too. 
I have plans to create some cards with positive sentiments to have on my wall at work, so they will be the next project.
In other news, you may remember that I was going to make the tunic dresses featured above.  I made a toile first as I knew that the shoulders would probably need altering.  I had also read on other blogs that the pattern on the left was not designed for curvy figures and the ties were too high up and hit a fuller bust in the wrong place.  Armed with this knowledge, I brought them down to waist level.  I also thought the pockets were a bit too big, so used a pocket from another pattern.  So, I worked away, making the necessary alternations as I went and happily sewing.  Here's the finished product. 
(It does need an iron, which I really should have done before taking a photo.)
Here's the back.  So, I was very pleased with myself and tried the finished garment on.  There was just one problem...I didn't like it, not at all, not one bit.  I looked like I was wearing a sack - not flattering at all. 
So, what could I do?  Well, I could donate it, or alter it again.  I measured it against the tunic dress pattern I have made before and it would work, so I unpicked it all and have started re-making it. I will post a photo once I have finished.  So, lesson learned - some styles just don't suit me, so I should stick to the things which do.  I am going to make the other pattern up next though and I have made a toile and tried it on.  It's a simple shape with a tie belt and I think it will work nicely - let's hope it does...

Monday, 11 June 2018

RHS Chatsworth 2018

I had a lovely day at RHS Chatsworth last Saturday.  This was the second show and the organisers had learnt a lot from last year.  The traffic was well stewarded and things went very smoothly.  We were incredibly lucky with the weather - it started off warm but dull; however, once we arrived, the sun came out and it was hot.  I needed the suncream, hat and sunglasses I had taken.  Last year, there were not enough seats, which had been improved a lot this year and when we wanted to sit down, we found plenty of seating available.  We sat under a convenient tree for tea and cake and the shade was much appreciated by us all.  Above is the river of cosmos in front of the house - around 12,000 plants, I understand.
It was very pretty and the insects were enjoying it.
The view across the river with the 'glasshouse' ...
...and the view from one of the bridges.
(collages created using picmonkey)
There were installations such as these trees and this foxglove.  There was a moving sculpture which fascinated me but which reminded me of an alien - in a photo, it is much less impressive.
There 'long borders' were alive with insects too and contained some lovely planting combinations.  The theme was 'movement'.
There were some show gardens which all featured naturalistic plantings.  I did like the little Yorkshire cottage (top right).
Inside the floral marquees were some beautiful displays although the cut flowers found the heat a bit much.
Inside the 'glass house' was this amazing display of orchids, with ferns and lilies.  I spent a lot of the time in there saying 'wow'.  It was stunning.
I do like the dandelions and buttercups - do buy one (if you have a spare £750.00).
Of course, I bought some plants (and incidentally, kept my crown for spending the most money!).  Above are some lewisias, which I have recently started collecting.  Raspberry ice on the right and Snowberry on the left.
Ginkgo biloba Mariken - a dwarf conifer which I didn't even know I wanted until I saw it.  I love the big ginkgos, but didn't think I would ever be able to have one as they get too big.  This one will only grow to two feet high and it will take it ten years to get to that size.
I was after a blue hydrangea as I don't have one and I thought 'Fireworks Blue' would be a good one.
The flowers are a very delicate baby blue.
I also bought a cow parsley sculpture, made from nails - much more in my price range than the dandelion!
Finally, a little sisyrinchium biscutella whose beigey-purple flowers close when they are out of the sun.
It was a lovely day and I am already looking forward to next year.