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  1. eternal magpie swing jacket

    Remember the cardigan I made recently, from Simplicity 1319

    And you know that moment when your husband asks whether you can make a birthday gift, needed in just a few days? (No? Just me?)

    Well... here's another one! A jacket version this time.

    My husband chose this fabric and, for the record, I would like to state that I am never letting him choose anything ever again. Or at least, if he chooses a heavy stretch polyester bouclé, I'm going to tell him exactly what he can do with it. 

    eternal magpie swing jacket vintage buttons

    I'll confess that I allowed him to get away with his choice because I knew I had these buttons lurking in the stash. They're iridescent glass, and they pick up the traces of pinky-lilac hiding in the fabric absolutely perfectly! 

    Despite being a bit grumbly about the thickness and the bumpiness of the fabric, and the general unwillingness of my scissors and my sewing machine to deal with it gracefully, I'm very relieved to say that it pressed well, and it's turned into a really nice - and definitely striking - jacket.

    Working with such thick cloth has made me want to try out a winter version for myself, maybe in a nice rich tweed. Perhaps not in August though... 

  2. Silly Panda cloth sanitary protection

    Look what's just arrived from Silly Panda

    This is a set of five cloth sanitary pads. I'm so glad I chose the "random" fabric selection, because look at these hilarious beauties! The first two (left to right) have llamas, the yellow one is the cutest dinosaur ice creams, the pale blue has bees, and just look at those gorgeous geometric rainclouds. Well worth the wait! 

    (Silly Panda's production time is around 8-12 weeks, so if you're in a hurry, choose something that's already in stock. That'll be with you in a few days.)

    I've been meaning to get around to trying out re-usable sanitary protection for the longest time. Because of my endometriosis I used to have extremely heavy periods, and going through an entire pack of night-time pads every single day was not good for either me or the environment, as they all ended up in the bin. I shudder to think how many disposable pads I've chucked away in my 32-year (so far) history of heavy periods, and every single one of them is still sitting in a landfill site somewhere, taking hundreds and hundreds of years to biodegrade. 

    I did try out a menstrual cup - a Mooncup, although there are lots of other kinds available now - but because of the particular placement of my endometriosis, it didn't work out for me. (Although, incidentally, because the Mooncup has millilitres marked on it, I was able to go to my doctor and say "this is exactly how much blood I'm losing every day", which finally galvanised her into helping me to do something about it, so that alone was extremely useful!) 

    Fast forward about ten years, and I have no idea why it's taken me so long to get around to making the switch to re-usable pads! There are loads of different brands to choose from, many of them made by fellow individuals running tiny businesses, and they come in all sorts of different shapes, sizes, materials and absorbencies. They might seem expensive when you look at the initial outlay, but once you've built up enough of a collection to last through the duration of your period... that's it! You don't need to buy any more. 

    In terms of washing, I just rinse them out in cold water, then hand wash them in hot-and-soapy water, rinse the soap out, and bung them over the bathroom radiator (or hang them in the garden in the summer) to dry. Really, it only takes a minute or two longer than washing your hands. When my period's over, I'll give the whole lot a run though the washing machine - usually on a hot wash with the bath towels - before I put them away. Easy peasy! I do work from home, so I don't often have to deal with changing them while I'm out and about, but most makers also offer "wet bags" that you can safely pop your used pads into until you get to a place where you can wash them. 

    As for comfort and practicality... again, I really like them! The ones I've chosen are pretty big at 10.5" long (about the same as a super or night-time pad), but you can choose much smaller ones if you prefer. They're very comfortable because the fabric is soft and breathable and not plasticky. The wings pop safely around your underwear, and can't peel off and stick themselves to your damn leg and annoy you all day. Even without an adhesive strip to hold them in place, I haven't found them to move around at all. I'll admit I haven't tried cycling in them, but they have survived several hours of dashing around a sports hall wielding a sword (as you do), so I imagine they'd be good for most activities! 

    In short: I'm really, really pleased with re-usable cloth pads, and as soon as I've got enough to last through my entire period there'll be no going back to disposable ones.

  3. eternal magpie pink flamingo dress

    Two years ago (according to Facebook, very helpful, thank you!) I made this dress. 

    Can anybody tell me why I gave it to the charity shop? It looks to me like the perfect item of clothing to be wearing during this summer heatwave!

    Inspired by a half-remembered Laura Ashley dress from the early 1990s that I never owned, this was intended to be worn over a set of Edwardian combinations that I never did get around to making. Although I can see the pear-embroidered hem of my bloomers just peeping out from underneath.

    eternal magpie pink flamingo dress

    This dress was specifically designed not to touch any part of my body, as the fibromyalgia was particularly bad at the time. (I used to have blisters when I took off my work uniform, from the seams touching my skin. Not nice.) 

    You can see from the picture on the mannequin that the armholes are extremely low. This was a very common feature in early 1990s dresses that were intended to be worn with a t-shirt underneath - in fact a lot of them came with a t-shirt pattern included. 

    eternal magpie pink flamingo dress - 1990s pattern

    This one, which I found during one of my extensive Etsy-browsing sessions, doesn't include a t-shirt pattern but it does include a version that's a jumpsuit! According to Instagram (which is apparently my style guide now, rather than Pinterest), jumpsuits and dungarees are very popular amongst Creative Types at the moment.

    I do own a pair of dungarees, but they're two sizes too big (aaah, the joys of internet shopping...) and strictly for wearing only while digging up the garden. And though I'm not usually one to jump on board a bandwagon, I do have to admit that I'm looking at that left-hand illustration and contemplating my fabric stash. Organic cotton checks, maybe? Or a floral duvet cover?

    I don't tend to buy many sewing patterns on Etsy these days - most often I'll see a style that I like, and then figure out how to draft an approximation of the pattern for myself. Partly that's because so few patterns are available in my size, and partly because the cost of shipping from the USA (where so many vintage patterns seem to be) has increased quite dramatically - particularly since Etsy has started charging fees to sellers on their shipping costs and forced people to put up their prices.

    Anyway... I am extremely tempted by this one. It's reasonably priced, it's in my size, and it's in the UK so no extortionate postage costs, and it should arrive pretty quickly. 

    1990s dungarees, at the age of forty-four. Shall I? 

  4. eternal magpie - upcycled tote bag

    Look, I finally got around to something I've been meaning to do for ages!

    This central panel used to be a tote bag that I bought from The Body Shop way back in 1992, or thereabouts, at the height of supermodel mania. The glossy magazines were filled with Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Elle McPherson, Christy Turlington, and presumably four other supermodels who I can't remember right now. (1992 was a long time ago!)

    The tote bag had been on its last legs for a very long time - the straps were frayed and fragile, and the fabric was stained in the corners from 20+ years of spilled drinks and lunches. I didn't want to throw it out because I love the sentiment:

    "there are three billion women who don't look like supermodels,
    and only eight who do".

    Recently my husband brought home a new tote bag from an IT conference, so I decided to chop up my beloved old one, and use it to cover up the huge logo on the new bag. All I did was cut out the central panel, and use one of the fancy embroidery stitches on my sewing machine to attach it to the new bag. I didn't bother with hemming the edges - I knew that the fabric would fray, and I quite like the visual reminder that it's actually a bit old and worn out - just like me! 
    Even without a sewing machine, this would be a super easy fix. You could stitch a patch onto a new bag by hand, you could use fabric glue, or you could use an iron-on interfacing to stick it into place. 
    We have another one of these bags, and my husband has at least one beloved t-shirt that's becoming too worn out to wear, so that would be an ideal candidate for a similar makeover. Cut out the print, stick or stitch it over the logo, done! 
  5. July Pockets: ripe plums in eternal magpie dress pocket

    It's July, and here in the UK we're in the middle of a heatwave! Most of my garden is looking a little bit dried up and sad, but next door's tree is full of lovely ripe plums. 

    We're currently between neighbours, and the plums were starting to fall off the tree and attract wasps. We didn't want them to go to waste, so we've picked the ones we could reach and popped them into the freezer. Our current plan is to make some kind of plum liqueur with them, and give it to our new neighbours as a housewarming gift. 

    It turns out that one nice big eternal magpie pocket can easily hold 350 grams of lovely little ripe plums - and one tiny little pink caterpillar! 

    I definitely wouldn't recommend leaning over the fence and picking your neighbours' fruit... but if you know where to look you can quite often find plums and cherry plums growing wild. (The park close to my house has a couple of lovely cherry plum trees.) And it's been so hot lately that blackberries are starting to ripen already, so if you're lucky you might be able to spot a few nice juicy ones. 

    What are you going to put into your pockets this month?