Saturday, 30 April 2011

Dressing the bed

I think I'd probably be right in saying that dressing your bed (with throws, cushions et al) is probably more of a female than male thing. I am in no doubt that there will be men who like a good looking bed, but it's more likely that it's the female of the species that wants her bed to look special. Some don't understand, "why all the cushions? They're put on, then they have to be taken off before you get into bed". You must pile them up neatly as well, no just chucking them anywhere! If you're like my husband, of the non-cushion kind (he'd be quite happy with just an ordinary making of the bed), you just have to live with it I'm afraid and, if you're making the bed, remember where the cushions go.
My sister and her husband's dressed bed (it doesn't often look like this, she did it specially for this post).
I always aim to make our bed everyday, there's nothing like getting into a made bed rather than an unmade one. Many of us use duvets rather than the more traditional sheets and blankets, but with the vogue for vintage has meant that people are starting to use these more, whether they be actually vintage or are new ones that are now available in the shops.
Our bed it in its summer colours (plus Ollie).
The look of our bed changes depending on the time of the year. For summer, the dark brown headboard wears its Laura Ashley's Kimono fabric cover (the flowers are a pale dusky lavender colour) and some of the cushions on the bed change their covers and different ones are added. I made all of the cushions and the bedhead cover.
Cushion detail on the left of the bed.
The oblong purple cushion at the back and the greige check cushion are Laura Ashley fabrics. The initial R cushion is beige embroidery on linen and the heart cushion is quilted lavender gingham.
Cushion detail in the middle of the bed.
The embroidered cushion at the back is a vintage linen Ebay find. The knitted purple one was featured as a project on my first post on this blog last year. The heart-shaped one is, again, lavender gingham and scented with lavender (I made this a few years ago and the lavender scent is still there).
Cushion detail on the right side of the bed.
The back three cushions on this side of the bed are the same as the other side, with the exception of the initial embroidered cushion being L rather than R. The heart-shaped one is made from lavender silk fabric with lace, with beading detail, appliqued on the top.
Pillow detail.
At the top of this photo you can see my purple-flowered, seersucker pillowcases that I picked up at a charity shop for 25p each. You read that right, 25p each!

I'm still looking for a purple throw/bed runner to go on the bed, whether it be a vintage find or one that I make myself, if I find the right fabric.
Another view of my sister's bed.
This is another view of my sister's huge (it's 7ft wide) bed with it's suede frame. She bought the two oblong and rippled cushions, but all the rest were presents from me. 
My Mum and Dad's bed.
Another bed with a few of my cushions on it (there's quite a large possibility of me giving you a cushion as a present if you know me! That's why I had to start selling them there's only so many cushions any one person needs.)

The gorgeous quilt, probably 1950s, came from Louise Loves and the pink cushion (in front of the large purple cushion) came from Wilkinsons. The rest are all mine.  
Another arrangement of the cushions.
We're ready for our close-up Mr. DeMille.
What do you do with your bed? Leave a message via the comment box below. Or post a comment and add a photo onto the Elsie May and Bertha wall on Facebook.


Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Irish tea brack

I've been baking again (and I had all of the correct ingredients this time!). I spotted this recipe for this tea bread in the May edition of House Beautiful. They, in turn, had taken it from 'Homemade' by Clodagh McKenna.

The recipe (note: the fruit needs soaking overnight first):
The tea-soaked fruit
350g (12oz) mixed dried fruit (I used sultanas, currants and raisins); 300ml (0.5 pint) cold tea (I used Redbush); caster sugar, now the recipe says 120g (4oz), now I think that's too much, as I don't like things too sweet, plus the dried fruit is naturally sweet, so I put in 42g (1.5oz); 1 egg, beaten; 250g (9oz) plain flower; 2tsp baking powder; 2tsp mixed spice.
Flour etc being sieved into the sugar and egg
  • Put the dried fruit into a bowl and add the cold tea, soak overnight.
  • The next day, put the sugar and egg into a bowl and sift in flour, baking powder and mixed spice and mix together.
  • Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan, gas mark 4).
  • Pour the soaked fruits and any remaining tea into the bowl and mix together well. Now, I used an extra-large free-range egg for this and it being so large meant that I thought that the mixture was a bit 'loose', but rather than add more flour I added a handful of oatmeal.
The completed mixture
  • Tip the mixture into a greased 1kg loaf tin and bake for 1hr. My oven is a 'slow' cooker when it comes to fruit cakes, so I needed to bake the tea bread for another 15 mins. Check whether yours is done by sticking a skewer into the middle of the cake, if it comes out clean, it's cooked.
The tea bread ready to go in the oven
  • Tip the cooked loaf onto a cooling rack and allow to cool. (Apologies, I forgot to take a photo of the baked bread!).
To serve: slice and spread with butter and a cup of tea. Delicious.
The sliced and buttered tea bread ready to be devoured
Have a go at this recipe, it is really easy to make.


Thursday, 14 April 2011

Books, books, glorious books

I love books. I have hundreds.

My Mum tells me that it took me a bit of time to master the art of reading, but once I had, there was no stopping me.
As a birthday or Christmas present ,I would often be given books or book tokens. Enid Blyton was high on the list, so I had all of the Famous Five and Secret Seven books. Then there was the Chalet school books by Elinor Brent Dyer. I could go on and on as I still have most of my childhood (and my sister's) books in out loft.

I used to use our local I was young, but there's one big draw back to using libraries - YOU HAVE TO GIVE THE BOOKS BACK. Even if I've read a book, I can't part with it. All of the books I've read for the past ten years at least (and there's a lot of them, I could even tell you what they were as I keep a track of what I read in a notebook - how sad it that!) have either belonged to me or my Mum and Dad (and I'll get those one day anyway).

When I look at other people's houses in my magazines, or am window shopping houses on the internet, the first question in my  mind is not how big the kitchen is, how many bedrooms or whether there's a hotel-style bathroom, but where will the book cases go?
There's books all over the house. There's a pile sitting on my oversized bedside table waiting to be read (see picture below). There's bookcases in the living room, two small ones in the kitchen holding cookery books, a bookcase on the landing to the Elsie May and Bertha workroom and half-a-dozen bookcases in the workroom.
The inner librarian in me means that my fiction books are kept in alphabetical order by author. Though I have read that some people store theirs by colour! I don't understand that, I'm afraid I like to know where my books are.

What do you do with yours?


Thursday, 7 April 2011

Lingerie sachets - what they're for and how to make one.

As I spend my holidays in Scotland, and travel there by car, I've never had to worry about luggage and, consequently, take far more clothes than I'd actually wear (I like to have options). So my Mother would tell you anyway, she's very good at compiling her ensemble for a trip, without the huge suitcase!

One of the things we both use when doing our packing are lingerie sachets. You don't need to stick to putting your underwear in them either. I use them for leggings and cami-tops as well. One of their great advantages is that you don't need to unpack their contents once you get to your destination. You take out what you need, put things back, or in your laundry bag if they need washing. If you have a laundry bag everything that needs washing when you get home is all in the same place.

Anyway, back to lingerie sachets. Another advantage of these, is that when it comes to the time to do the packing to go home you just have to pack the sachets.
A lingerie sachet

How to make a lingerie sachet.

I created a pattern, out of greaseproof paper, to make the cutting of the fabrics easier. You can make the sachets any size you want, but mine are as follows:

  • width = 35cm
  • overall length = 65cm
  • length of side = 50cm
  • length of envelope flap = 15cm
  • end of envelope flap = 5cm.
To make the pattern easier, you could leave off the envelope shape and just have a flap, in that case you just need the pattern to be an oblong 35cm wide and 65cm in length.

Next - cutting out the fabric. You will need two different types of fabric, one for the top, and this could be anything as long it's not too flimsy, and a lining fabric. I've used a vintage glazed chintz, called Egremont, which just happens to be the area of Wirral that I live in, for the top and curtain lining for the inside.
Pattern pinned to fabric.

Place your pattern on your top fabric. You need to remember, when doing this, the way the pattern runs on your fabric and how it will look when the sachet is complete. Choose the way you prefer, nothing's right or wrong. Using your pattern cut out one of your top fabric and one of the lining.

Sewing - place the two pieces of fabric together, right-sides facing, and pin. You can either hand sew or machine sew the two pieces of fabric together. Start on the bottom edge and sew all the way around, but leave a 4cm gap between the start and end of your sewing.

Using the gap, turn the sachet inside out so that the right-sides are now on the outside. Hand sew the gap closed.

Next, fold the sachet, as seen in the above picture, making sure that you're level across the top where the flap begins. To join the two sides you could either, use a sewing machine to run a line of stitches as close as possible to the edge, bear in mind that the fabric could be quite thick on the edge. Or, by oversewing the two sides of the together by hand.
Turned out sachet
Turn the fabric the right way around, and it should look like the picture above. The next thing to do is add a press-stud and a button.
Position of press-stud
I used an 11mm press-stud. Sew the 'pointy ended' on the inside of the envelope flap, in the middle and about 1.5cm from the edge. Locate, on the front of the sachet, where the receiving side of the press-stud should go and attach.
Choose a button to go on the front of the flap. This button is just there for show, and to hide the stitches from the press-stud, so attach so that it hides these.

Et voila - a completed lingerie sachet.

If you don't want to make your own, you can buy the ones I've made from my Folksy Elsie May and Bertha shop.


Friday, 1 April 2011

Elsie May and Bertha giveaway

The winner is.......


Her prize is a cushion is made from beige linen and has a vintage fillet crochet oval appliqued onto the front.

Thanks to everyone who has followed Elsie May and Bertha on Twitter, liked me on Facebook or followed the Elsie May and Bertha blog. It's not been in vain, I'll be running giveaways every couple of months so there'll always be another chance.

My next post will be on making lingerie sachets.