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Bigger on the Inside Drawstring Backpack

I had been wanting to have a go at a sewing project for a while. I hadn’t sewn for a long, long time and I wanted to see if I was still able to follow a pattern and end up with something that not only would I like, but that I would be able to use. I follow a very talented lady on twitter who lives in America and designs patterns for a whole host of useful objects. She is known as @dogundermydesk in the wonderful world of twitter, but also goes by the name of Erin Erickson.
We travel quite a bit and as we always take our loyal retriever with us, it is difficult to find a bag that will hold what I need and be comfortable at the same time. I mention the dog only to explain the fact that I needed a bag that would leave my arms free and that would not keep slipping off my shoulders, because Jasper is always at the end of one arm or the other.
Unbelievably as I started looking around for a pattern, Erin had just released a pattern on her website. The ‘bigger on the inside drawstring backpack’, was just the sort of bag I had been looking for! So without giving myself the time to think about it and therefore tell myself I couldn’t possibly make it, I ordered it from her website. So easy, add to basket, hit the pay button and within minutes a PDF pattern and instructions is delivered to your inbox.
I had some fabric in my stash, both for the outer and the lining and unbelievably a zip too. After printing the pattern off I carefully pinned to the fabric and started cutting. Sounds stupid, but I was so excited, I decided I would take it slowly and read and re-read the instructions as Erin had suggested.

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I was putting the zip in and all was going well until it came to stitching the ‘tabs’ over either end of the zip, no matter how I fiddled and re fiddled I just couldn’t get them to the size required. Panicking, I sent a quick question, via email to Erin. She had promised she would help if any were needed. Then the lightbulb moment arrived and I realised I was trying to use the fabric I had cut out for the tabs for the straps, which holds them to the bottom of the bag.

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The straps were a doddle as long as I remembered to stitch slowly, so I could keep a straight stitch line.

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With the instructions being so clear and precise, things were going well and the bag soon came together, even using interfacing to give the bag structure was working well. I broke off to have a practice run with a buttonhole as I would need these for threading the straps through the top of the bag.

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Looking good!

Sounds daft but I even took to showing my hubby as I had finished each stage.

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As you can see I did finish it and even though I say it myself, it looks good doesn’t it? It holds loads, has an inside pocket and a pocket that runs the width of the bag with the zip on the outside. Most importantly it is very comfortable to carry and doesn’t slip off the shoulders. So if like me, you are worried about taking the first step back into the world of sewing, go for it!

It has given me the confidence to make other things, even a skirt. Will let you see how that went another time.

Tapas in Costa Blanca

Apart from enjoying the winter sun here in Costa Blanca, you can also get to try tapas for a very reasonable price. The area is renowned for it’s Tapas Trails. Cafés and restaurants sign up to the deal and each offers two or three different tapas for 1 or 1.5.euros each.
One trail we did last year offered beer with each tapas, the price was inclusive. Good job we had walked into town for that session, my legs were really ‘heavy’ on the walk back.
So off we went to Santa Pola with the dog and started off with a walk along the promenade which goes on and on for miles, then back to the town for the tapas.

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Fish was the main tapas ingredient and boy, were they tasty.
Unfortunately it started to rain while we were eating, but luckily I’d got the waitress to put the outside heater on beside us, so we hung on until it had eased off.
One more walk and then we headed home, for the football of course!

Wedding planning

As we all know a wedding doesn’t organise itself and as I said before, I offered my help in this regard. The offer was well received and we went into action as a team, me, Kirsty and Gavin (her hubby to be). Living a long way away, over 230 miles, could have been a huge problem. With the use of the internet, google drive became a huge help. We could set up plans and diaries and by sharing them we could alter and amend from either end as necessary.
I found a make up lady and passed her details onto Kirsty. She organised a trial to take place in her own home a few weeks before the wedding. Luckily it was a huge success and Kirsty duly booked her for the day. She was wonderful and such a nice lady, I can’t recommend her enough. She did the make up for Kirsty, the three bridesmaids and me. She can be found under http://www.rachaelkaren.com
Kirsty and Gavin were let down by the florist that had been the preferred provider of the hotel where they were to be married. So with very little time to spare they found a gem of a florist who did them proud with the bouquet, bridesmaids bouquets, button holes and table arrangements. She can be found here, http://www.chantalfloresdesign.co.uk
Finally the photographer was an easy choice. I had arranged for a photography session for my three children, ten years before. Then my husband picked out his favourite photos from the shoot for his 50th birthday present. So as the shoot had been a resounding success all those years ago, it took one phone call to book him for the wedding and none of us were disappointed with the results. He was absolutely amazing, very patient, very thorough and above all he has a great sense of humour.
He can be found here, http://www.garywalsh.co.uk and he does travel quite a way for bookings.

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Wedding Favours

As Kirsty was using a bicycle theme for her wedding, the obvious choice for the favours was my homemade flapjack. It is a huge hit with the family and cycling friends and has sustained them on many a long ride, even the mammoth cycle ride that Kirsty and her father undertook the year before, cycling the coast of Great Britain.
As an aside Kirsty wrote a diary of the journey and it is well worth taking a look. http://www.cyclingcoastofgreatbritain.wordpress.com
So, back to the flapjack. Needless to say a lot of porridge oats, syrup, brown sugar, butter and seeds were combined to make trays and trays of it. Each slice was wrapped in grease proof paper and then in plain brown paper and secured with jute twine. Then a bicycle bell was tied to the top, did I mention the wedding had a cycling theme?
Kirsty and Gavin had used a map of Great Britain for the table plan. Another cycle ride Kirsty had undertaken with her father, brother and hubby to be, was the Lands End to John O’Groats cycle ride. Each table had the name of one of the overnight stops of the ride.

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My faithful retriever couldn’t go on the ride, but he came with us by way of a few photos, dressed in my cycling gear!

Wedding Day with Jasper the Family Dog

I couldn’t resist in showing you all this photograph. For one my daughter, Kirsty looked stunning. Two, the day would not have been complete without Jasper and his Cycling inspired Bandana, made by myself of course. Three, I was so chuffed with the make up lady, who created such a natural look for me.
As an aside, Kirsty experienced a whole host of emotions with regard to her wedding dress. She didn’t have a problem in finding one as once she had seen the Vera Wang dress, there was to be no other. From the very outset it was clear that she had chosen the right dress. Things did not run smoothly though as there was upset after upset as the various fittings were made. Not to bore you with the detail, suffice to say that mistakes had been made and the fabric of the dress had not been handled very well which led to many pulls appearing in the fabric. That was rectified by the taylors but Mum to the rescue with the finer details. The back of the dress was quite low and it required the straps and the back of the bra to be held in place out of sight. I used the ribbon from the inside of the dress which holds the dress secure on the coat hanger and also the ribbon from the accompanying coat hanger. I stitched lengths of ribbon under the shoulders, and in four more places along the back line of the dress, these then tied around the straps and back of the bra and the knots were stitched to stop them coming undone during the day and evening. (Goodness knows how she got out of it)

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Wedding Cake for my Daughter’s Wedding

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I made three cakes in all and the one that was on display and cut at the reception was a chocolate fudge sponge cake, iced with ivory coloured regal icing. The spare cakes were a lemon drizzle and a Victoria sponge and unfortunately to this day I didn’t get a taste of any. Never mind, I can always make another and eat it all myself!
A friend of mine got her lovely hubby to fell, yes fell a dead tree, so we could use the trunk ‘slices’ as cake board. A smaller trunk ‘slice’ was used as the base for the cake topper, the bride and groom squirrels. He also cut up smaller tree trunks in two different heights, specific to Kirsty’s requirements. These were used as stands for the floral arrangements for the top table and guest tables. As a farmer he had plenty of trees to go at and we were eternally grateful for his help.
Talking of help, I had to enlist friends in saving jam jars for us too. Kirsty had the wonderful idea of using differing sizes of jam jars as tea light holders and they were placed all around the reception windowsills and the tables of the guests and the too table. I actually resorted to going through my neighbours recycling boxes for the blinking things. Irene, my walking companion deserves the prize for donating her collection of around 70 jars and without her help I would have had to scavenge from many more recycling boxes in my village.
If anyone wants a useful tip, I stood at Kirsty’s sink on a boiling hot day soaking and scraping the labels off the jars, my clothes were slowly getting scraped off as well because I was so damned hot. Use WD40, it is soooooooo much easier. Spray it on the label wait for a mo and then start scraping.
Kirsty and Gavin tied yards and yards of jute twine around the necks of the jars to continue with the countryside theme. You can see some jars behind the photo of the cake. They were so effective one of her bridesmaids who was getting married a couple of months later used them at her reception too.

My Daughter’s Wedding :- continued

Originally posted on Cathymum3wifeknitdog's Blog:

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At last I am back to my blog, it has been far too long, especially as I have already announced my return once before. I promised Kirsty I would make a great attempt to get going again, so here I am. Please give me a nudge if I disappear for a while again.
After completing the first squirrel, I was on a roll and decided to make the ‘bride’ and ‘groom’ straight away, before I lost my nerve. I also made about a dozen acorns too, one for the bride and the rest for placing around the wedding cake.
The more observant of you will have realised that I had stitched the ears on the wrong way on the first squirrel, took me a while to realise… But all was soon rectified and here are the completed trio. The larger one was to be the ringbearer.

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