Thursday, November 21, 2013

A sideways move

All through my childhood I rode ponies and later as an adult, I rode horses. I always kept a horse or a fact I have worked with horses in various parts of the when I sold my last horse to pay for my wedding, 12 years ago, I didn't think it would be very long until I bought wrong was I! I have kept a few young horses over the years, but no riding horse. The children now have a couple of ponies, so during the summer, Colm suggested we go to go to the Dublin Horse Show in the see I haven't been there in about 12 years, so we packed a picnic, arranged a guy to milk the cows that evening, and off we went. One of the things I wanted to see was the side saddle was so amazing that I decided there and then that I must fulfill a lifelong dream and I would try to find a way to ride side saddle...even once. I managed to go to a "Have a go day" in County Meath....I was sick with nerves in the run up to it. I did not feel any better when I realised that the horse I was about to ride was the horse that hurtled around Ring 2 at the RDS!!! He was an absolute gentleman with me on board though. Side saddle....I did it...and loved it! Since then I have managed to have a few more lessons on friends horses, mainly on a darling mare called Tex. Cantering Side Saddle on Tex. At one lesson we were lucky to have the amazing photograher, Jennifer O'Sullivan clicking away....she took such lovely photos. Jumping Tex So alhough I have not been sewing much lately, I have made myself a side saddle habit...I just need to get some photos of myself in it...on a horse! It is a tailored riding jacket, with a skirt/apron. I used a charcoal wool blend. Oh yes, and after all of this, I managed to buy myself a little horse...I walked away from her twice, but eventually went back and got her! She's Mine! Hopefully one day soon I will get to ride her side saddle, but for now I have a bit of work to do astride. I must apologise for the rubbish layout of this post, but blogger refuses to allow mw to sort it out....

Monday, June 24, 2013


When we first stripped back the plaster from the front of the kitchen chimney breast, we had no idea what to expect...this is what we found....a very large fireplace which had been filled in with blocks and bricks, and the original wooden beam was mostly missing. A small piece on the right hand side was all that was left of the beam. 
The story goes that this beam caught fire one night while the family slept, and all of the ash was just sucked up the chimney, and when the family came down in the morning, there it was, gone! That was at about 60 years ago! Thank goodness there was no more harm done, it scares me to even think of what could have happened!

When our stonemason finally came to work on this, after all of the major external work that needed seeing to was finished, it became pretty clear that the old bricks were not in any condition to stay, years of concrete plaster on the outside, and heat from the inside had taken it's toll, they were just dust. Also the chinmey had to be rebuilt, so the face was mostly dismantled, and we have followed as closely as possible the shape of the old chimney and fireplace, using lime mortar and old clay brick.
We also sourced a large piece of oak, which grew in a curve, it is not just cut this shape, this is supposed to give it extra strength, like an arch. Time will tell!

We opened the fireplace back as far as we could, but there is another back to it, further in, this false back was put in with concrete, so at least 1920, maybe? We couldn't really go back further, because there is too much above it, resting on it. There is a fireplace over this one, in the floor above.
All of this brick is to be plastered again, with lime plaster, but the oak beam has been left proud, in order to leave it showing, and not plaster over it. The two ends need trimming back a bit though.
The plan is that we will put our wood burning Rayburn range cooker in this space, and probably another oven and hob for the summer months when the range is not lit. The kitchen is so tiny, that this space will work really, really hard. The area to the left will either house my fridge, or will be a big storage cupboard.
This is of course not finished, the top still needs to be built up above the beam, but so far we are loving the shape of it all.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Little Man Tool Belt

I was asked by an online friend to test a pattern for was for a tool belt, and because my two little girlies have a large collection of tools, (gathered from charity shops over many years), I jumped at the chance to make it.
This pattern is an instant download, which I know many people hate, but I love them, (especially for smaller patterns like this)....I love them because they are...well... instant! Instant is good! Mostly.
I made this up in a short time, and I just love, love, love how it comes together! The girls grabbed it from me, as soon as it is finished, put it on, one of them was instantly a builder, with her tool belt full of tools, and her hard hat on. They pulled out their toy cash register, and the other one was a cashier in a builders supply shop! They played for ages! It is a real hit!

For Sandi

It would make the perfect gift for a little boy, or girl who loves to play with tools, or maybe help in the kitchen, there are so many possibilities for this belt.
If you're anything like me, you'll often be in need of a last minute gift to bring to a birthday, or to a big brother or sister, when you visit a new baby.
The tool belt is avaiable from Etsy, from the Elizabeth Wyatt pattern site There is also a Flickr group if you're looking for inspiration...don't you just love seeing how other people do such different things with the same pattern!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

5 Today!

These two little girlies are 5 years old today...I am not quite sure how it happened...only the other day they were tiny babies...

They are the reason I started sewing clothes. (and not just boring curtains!)

And somehow they have become little girls, and in a few months time, they are due to start school, and I need to go shopping for school unifoms soon (or start making them!) does this all happen?

Yesterday one of their prescious teddies need some surgery to repair a hole beside his nose.... the two girls assisted me during the operation. I was not allowed to put a needle near him until the anesthetic had worked!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Long time no see....

I thought I would come here to update you all regularly on how the renovations were going, and possibly to show off some of the latest photos of things I'd made, but the truth is, I haven't made a lot recently, and mostly we are just hacking holes in the house...or so it seems! Of course, I do forget that we have also built two new extenions also!
Of course, we are in fact sorting out loads of boring stuff...the whole roofline of the house has had to be sorted. The window openings have to be remade, including new oak heads being put in.
We stripped the roof of all of it's slates and felt, only to find that the roof timbers which we thought were good, were in fact completely eaten by woodworm!
The quarry tiles in the hall and kitchen have all been lifted one by one....lots of them are broken...that was rather heart-breaking. They had been covered in concrete for years, and when they were uncovered, I had hoped they would be good, but as I have lifted each one, most of them crumbled. We are saving what we can.
We have a stone-mason working at the moment, and so far he has used 6 tonnes of lime mortar! That is just to rebuild stone walls....He's still not finished.
The roofers have the whole roof almost ready for putting the slate on next week...I can't wait.
The attic is looking so cool...I have ear-marked one room for a home cinema!
Today I saw samples of the cast iron gutters and down-pipes we are planning to use. They will most likely come primed and I will paint them.
Colm is raking out the joints in on gable wall, ready for repointing. He calls it therapy!
I spent yesterday scraping paint and bagging up rubble to carry it downstairs.
The two (4 flues) chimney have been taken down and rebuilt from the bottom up. The two for downstairs have been fully relined.
So you see...there is not a lot to show big "ta-da" photos yet. I could show you lots of photos, but really, they would be just random bits of wall or roof, or floor.
This photo was taken just after the roof was stripped, and the new timbers were put on. The tarp you can see is covering the (restored) stairs!
I really find it hard to even take photos of these seemingly backwards moves...I know they end up as improvements in the end!

All in all, we are enjoying the whole process.

We had a family wedding at the beginning of April, and I made outfits for all of the children.
M got an Oliver + S Fairytale dress in Liberty Tana lawn.
T got a tweed wool waistcoat, shirt, cords and tie all from various Ottobre magazines.
R and B got Liberty O+S Music class blouses, and corduroy Music box pinafores.
I also made myself a capelet, but thought it would be hard to wrong was I! I loved wearing it, it sat nicely all day, and kept me just warm enough, whilst my arms were free to take photos, and sort out kids.

 All 4


More Girls

It was a wonderful day!
It was a great chance to get scrubbed up and forget about phoning people, ordering stuff and overseeing people at the house, although we were right back into it the next morning!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Renovations...The Stairs

A while ago we had some work done to the farmhouse that we are restoring. Work on the house has been slow, but we are now just about ready to plough into the bulk of the work, or in reality, choose someone else to plough into the bulk of the work!
We decided a long time ago that we should have the staircase restored and then protected in advance of the main work, because it seems to be the original staircase and dates the house to 1760 to 1780. The Balustrade is quite unusual for a country house, it has remained intact...amazingly, and is what dates the stairs.
The top step had parted company with the main landing on the upper floor (first floor for us, second floor for you Americans) and the top step was starting to collapse. It was not able for any traffic, let alone heavy building traffic.
We found a carpenter who specialised in restoration, through our Architect. He is Danish, and has been living in Ireland for 10 years, and quite unlike most people you meet! He is so full of, and free with knowledge!

Restored Balustrade

Anyway, the plan was to save as much of the old wood, and structure of the stairs as was possible, but as is typical on this type of project, we found that some of it was worse than we had expected. Woodworm had made mincemeat of some of the pine...and all that could be done was to replace it. Flemming (the carpenter)  turned treads into risers, and so on, he did the best he could. Overall, we are very happy with the end results.

Flight One

The stairs goes up through the centre of the house, with a room either side of it at each level. It goes up half way and then turns, and up the rest of the way. On this part the "going" is very easy...long shallow steps make it very gentle to climb, or even run up, two at a time.

Flight Two

Then there is a door, with stairs beyond it, which leads to an open attic, again turning half way. This stairs is steep, and enclosed, it was only ever meant for bringing up things to store, or perhaps was used by staff in the house for sleeping quarters...who knows, but it was not meant to be seen by all and sundry.
When it came to the restoration, this part of the stairs was in the worst condition. It was given completely new treads and risers.

 Flight ThreeFlight Four

We are thrilled at how well it has turned out...we did not want to lose all the character and age of the stairs. I hope we didn't! Sadly, as soon as it was finished and the oil was dry, the whole stairs was covered from tip to toe in plywood to prctect it from the traffic it will get during the main buiding work...I am looking forward to seeing it again soon, and to one day using them....hopefully.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Great Goodship Dress

A little while ago, I found myself (yet again) on the blog of Karen LePage, which is called OneGirlCircus...Karen is one of those people whose sewing I have been inspired by, ever since I started sewing for my kids, over 4 years ago now. Karen sewed Ottobre patterns, and quite often it was for her son. She made the most fantastic shirts, jeans and jackets, that encouarged me to sew for my boy, and not to forget the little details that you only get the chance to add in as you sew...something you don't get to choose with shop bought anyway, I found myself on Karen's blog one day, and I notice a place where you could register as a pattern tester. I was extremely surprised to get an email a little while later asking me to test her new pattern, The Goodship dress...I have never pattern tested before, and to be honest, I am not very good at making things that I "have to" make, and seeing as we are in the middle of house renovtions...(I know, again!)..but I said I'd give it a go. I am so glad I did!

I wanted to use something stiffish, so I chose some purple-y coloured cotton, and I had some gingham that was a good match, but the gingham was very floaty, so I added a layer of white cotton underneath the gingham on the front panel, and treated them as one.

 Goodship Front

The pattern is a PDF, and it is really well done. Each size has a different coloured line, and there are only 3 pattern pieces on it. You also cut a couple of other rectangular pieces by measurement.
So, I went about sewing it up, and taking notes as I went along. Anywhere I scratched my head, I wrote a note! I found the whole experience of testing very interesting. The dress comes together beautifully...Karen has an amazing knack for designing a garment, that just sort of appears before your eyes, like magic, as you sew up the last seam!

It also has pockets!
Goodship Dress

I made a size 5, for my girls, who are 4. but that size fits them longish now, and will just be a bit shorter as they grow would look good either way. The width of this dress is easily adjustable, with the bow.

The pockets are a big hit!
 Goodship Dress

It is great to sew, with only a few pieces, but the results are excellent. In my opinion!
We have a very exciting family wedding coming up soon, and this dress is a front-runner for the dress I will make for the twins to wear. I am thinking of blue chambray, and red chambray, with matching red/blue floral Liberty for the inside of the pleat. This dress would be equally lovely in summer fabrics, as in winter corduroy, or wool, worn over a top/blouse.

This pattern is being released today, October 15th, on One Girl Circus.


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