Wednesday, 28 May 2014

New In The Shop - 'Three Little Birds' Necklace

My latest addition to the shop is this cute bronze bird necklace. I appear to have a thing about birds on branches this spring!

It measures approximately 8cm across and the necklace length is 20cm from clasp to charm.

That will be the last of the necklaces for a little while as I'm going to focus on more kimono jackets and dresses. Keep your eyes peeled!

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Make Do and Mend - Patched Jeans

They're not much to look at. Just an average pair of jeans that are past their best. 
They're also the best pair of jeans I've ever owned.

Eight years old with worn knees and stained with wood preservative, this pair of jeans have seen it all. They came to Vegas with me when we got married, have climbed the Empire State Building and danced 'til late to Fat Boy Slim one wet and muddy Glastonbury. The holes in the knees are the result of crawling around the floor with Pip before she could walk. There are SO many fond memories attached to these jeans. There's no way in hell I was going to bin them when they could be so easily mended instead.

Here's a close up of the jeans before I got busy..

And here's a close up afterwards.

I. Love. Them.
I think the patches make the jeans look loved. In this day and age it would have been too easy to just chuck them out and buy a new pair, but what a waste! 
These are special enough to mend and hold on too so I'll wear my patches with pride.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Alessi's Lanterns

The other day I got a back log of paintings and crafts from Alessi's nursery.  In amongst it all was the lantern she had made for Chinese New Year. 

I don't know what it is about it I love so much, but I'm smitten. She clearly had no hand in the cutting and sticking part, but the scribbles are all hers and to me it's precious. 

I love it so much in fact that I decided that we'd have our own lantern making session. I only intended to make a couple, but she loves drawing an insane amount and didn't want to stop. So we ended up making a whole string of lanterns which are currently adding some colour to the conservatory and making me smile each time I see them.

I don't do a lot of crafts with Alessi if I'm honest, but this has given me the bug. It was more fun and less stressful than I'd imagined. Do you have any favourite crafts you do with your kid(s)? Do let me know as I'm now on the look out for more ideas!

I can feel a visit to Pinterest coming on..

Friday, 16 May 2014

New In The Shop - Clutch bags

I'm listing something a little different today, bridal bags!

There are four clutch bags, made out of satin, silk and crushed velvet now in the shop and each comes with its own vintage-style brooch. There are two designs to chose from, but the one in the photo below is my personal favourite.

Of course they're not just for weddings, they can be used for any kind of do and as the brooch is detachable, it can be left plain to compliment an outfit!

It's been a while since I made a clutch bag and making these have given me the bug again. I just wish there were more hours in the day!

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Fab and Fruity Giveaway! - Cherry Earrings

Hi everyone! I'm holding a little giveaway this month and this time it's exclusively for new and existing followers of The Dress Tree Facebook page.

If you would like the chance to win these funky earrings, simply complete the form below. The giveaway will run until the end of May with the winner announced on June the 1st.

So who's up for a bit of fun? Go on..and good luck!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Guest Post - Lona

This post contains a photo which some readers may find unpleasant, (blood covered sewing thread). If this is not your thing, please do NOT read on. Thank you.

This here lady is my sister from another mister, Lona Aalders and she's awesome. She's also as mad as a box of frogs as she's convinced her sewing machine hates her. Actually it might do. Read on to find out why. 

I love sewing. I love being creative, making something pretty out of someone else's trash. I also like the feeling of pride when someone compliments my clothes, clothes that I either made myself or, as happens more frequently now that I am a 'supersuccesfull grown up career person': refashioned. 
I like wearing things that fit well, things that are not from Primark or H&M. Nothing makes clothes more unique than being handmade, or hand fitted.

Oh, what I also like is buying clothes in the sale that are too big, and thus very cheap, and then sewing them so they do fit me. New dress for 5 freakin 'euros. Hell yeah.
But what I never tell people is how there are teethmarks in my tabletop, from all the times it was all I could do to not throw my sewing machine out the window or actually get dressed, go out, buy a sledgehammer, cycle back home and thrash the bloody thing to pieces.
Or taking it outside to a busy road, waiting for a truck to drive by and over it, killing it for ever.

I am convinced my sewing machine has a soul.
A nasty one. When I think of my sewing machine as a person, which I often do, I always envision her to be a bitter old hag, who has one great talent (namely being a sewing machine who helps me make cool stuff) but is too obsessed by all the couldawouldashoulda's in life, and so makes sure I don't get to enjoy her one great talent as fully as I could have had she been a dapper little soul, content with being marvellous at that one thing. So this is what I deal with. A bitter hag with mood swings.
I think my sewing machine is selfish and doesn't want me to be happy.

You see, my sewing sessions always start out the same way. Very smoothly I set everything up, prepare with patience. This is a big deal for me, having been diagnosed as a VIP (a.k.a Very Impatient Person). I make sure I do it right to the point of control freakism. Subconsciously I am probably trying to please the machine, trying not to upset it. The right threads and settings to match the fabric, the right posture,  no sloping shoulders, being careful and kind. And it works. I'm running the fabric through the machine with no trouble at all. Corners? No problem. Hemming? Piece of bloody cake, sir. Stretch fabric? Challenge accepted.
The first hour, if I'm lucky, is always a bubble of pure creative bliss and I start to slip into a trance, become all zen, and dream about becoming a seamstress. This must be my calling. Because I feel so content and full of joy.

And then it happens. Just as I am really getting into it. The machine can feel my joy and she hates it. The thread snaps. My head snaps up. What the fluffy unicorns is this? I am suddenly taken over by shakes and terrible flashbacks of previous sewing abuse. All the traumas I managed to block are trying to come over me in waves, but I manage to stay on top of it all, so I can continue. Must have been just me. Block it! Must have been a freak little accident, RIGHT?


From this moment on, nothing seems to work. The machine is in full hate mode. The thread keeps breaking, threads get stuck, the needle keeps getting stuck or breaks or attacks my hands. You think I exaggerate? Check out this photographic evidence, taken after my machine was a violent bastard:

Yes ladies and gentlemen, the sewing machine with a soul tried to kill me, piercing my thumb and narrowly missing my vital organs. It only happened once, but not for want of trying. 

So for crying out loud, what is it with that thing, once it starts to go all belly up it's useless to continue, ugly profanities escape my mouth, I pick it up and throw it back down onto the table and it's all very ugly and not very zen at all. And I end up with bodged up hems, because I had to do the last bit by hand and forever have a pile of clothes that I have yet to finish, because the machine didn't wanna play anymore? Surely no one machine should have so much power? Surely this is the first step to machines taking over the world completely? Is anyone out there experiencing the same horror?

So why go back, I hear you ask. A valid question to be sure. Why not sell the machine and let someone else live the nightmare? Well. I do love sewing, I really do. And those moments when it all works are the best. When we are in sync, we rule. No relationship is perfect and this love is too great. 

I just hope I get to keep all my fingers.

All images ©Lona Aalders

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Spider Mite - the battle rages on

Some of you might remember this post from September last year when I mentioned what an utter nightmare I'd had with spite mite. Well the buggers are back and this time, they're looking to take down my beloved grapevines.

This is my sunny sit spot. Even if it's too cold to go outside, I can sit in here and get my shot of natural light. I can sit down with the door wide open and watch Pip play outside and it sounds so soothing when the rain hits the roof too, (unless of course it's pelting down in which case it's just plain deafening). In short, it's my happy place at this time of year, guaranteed to make me smile.

..Unless I look up and see this. The first sign of spider mites. They live on the underside of leaves and feed on the chlorophyll which causes the leaf to turn mottled as shown in the picture above. If left untreated, leaves will eventually turn completely yellow and drop off the plant. Fine cobwebs along the stems and leaf corners are another sign. So far I can't find any of that, but a quick search did uncover a fair number of mites and yellowing leaves. They are definitely back and growing in numbers. 

You can use chemical bug sprays and last year I have to admit to being so desperate that I actually tried one. It was fairly effective, but bloody hell...almost a week after I sprayed the stuff I watched a spider crawl across the conservatory floor. It didn't even make it to the other side.
And yes, I had mopped the floor after using the spray! To add insult to injury, it didn't even clear the spider mite, they just regrouped and marched on.

Therefore this year, I'm using a much softer solution. Water and washing up liquid. Easy. 
I've read that it works, but the trick seems to be frequent spritzing. Spider mite thrive in dry, arid environments and that's my conservatory to a T at this time of year. I'm hoping the solution won't just kill the spider mite, but will also be non-toxic to the grapes and of course, allow Pip to play in there safely.

The big question is who will win the war this year, spider mites of me? 

Me. The answer is me.

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