Sunday, 24 May 2020

Caravan Restoration - Phase 1

Like everyone I’m still adapting/evolving to this new way of (isolated) life.  However, recent relaxing of lockdown regulations in the UK has meant that I can now travel to the family farm as long as we keep a distance from our actual family members (other than the ones we already live with) This has led me to finally undergo operation caravan!  Let me provide a little background…

When I first had the children and we were plodding through the ‘baby years’ I looked forward to a time that we would be able to go camping ‘hassle free’ and actually get some sleep.  (The hassle free and sleep idea may have been a dream, but it certainly is getting easier and so is camping!) 

While I enjoyed many nights under canvas as a child, never concerned about waking up drenched from a rain storm or with a tent half fallen down - I’m not so tolerant in my mid-thirties.  Much to my husband’s distress (and a touch of embarrassment) I started to toy with the idea of getting a caravan back in 2017.  I had a very low budget so finding a caravan wasn’t easy.  However, Jamie pulled through and found one on Facebook - a family were moving and needed to get rid of their caravan that day.  I snapped it up for £500! 

The caravan when we first bought it back in 2017 - the kids are so small!!

This was one of the first times we camped in the caravan on the farm during harvest (hence looking a bit rough) back in August 2017

Warming up by the campfire as it got dark - Alf was 2 here!

While I initially gave it some instant TLC and we’ve used it a couple of times a year, my dreams for out little plywood box were much bigger!  With ‘time’ now on my side (thanks to the corona virus and kids able to occupy themselves a bit more) I’m undergoing the BIG renovation! 

The past couple of weeks have been really intense with Jamie back on the boat, me trying to balance lecturing online, design work, two books in progress AND all that comes with two children at home full time.  So, I decided to take bank holiday weekend 'off' and on Thursday I switched off notifications and commenced an intense 3-day renovation project completing phase 1 of the project!!

I have been researching interior ideas on Pinterest for the past couple of years so had lots of ideas for the new interior.  You can check out my inspiration board on Pinterest here.  I also did lots of research on HOW to do a restoration – bearing in mind caravans can get damp and some decorating products may not be appropriate.  I came across a post by The Twinkle Diaries that covered their own renovation from a few years back – it’s really informative and covers everything you need to know about applying paints and wallpaper to interiors click here to read it.  You can see from the posts I was also inspired by the retro feel and colour palette.

The original orange wood interior - it wasn't in bad condition but was a little sad.

Layer 1 of undercoat paint!

I spent a 12 hour day stripping, cleaning and prepping all the surfaces.  The wooden doors are taking about 4 layers of paint to get my desired finish.  That’s 2 layers of undercoat prime and an eggshell finishing layer twice.  Day 2 I just painted, painted and painted.  I undercoated all the ceiling and then covered with a matt emulsion which has made it a lot fresher and tons brighter.  Day 3 I did even more painting, ripped out the horrid laminate floor and started to wallpaper the kitchen area with a retro geometric wallpaper.

More layers of white paint!

Initial wallpapering

It’s now the end of the bank holiday for me and I can say im absolutely shattered.  The kids loved playing free range on the farm while I did all the hard work.  They are equally shattered, covered in as many layers as mud as the caravan doors are paint and have lovely grazed knees and elbows!!!

Where I left it - definitely a lot brighter!

So what’s next…   I still have more surfaces to wallpaper which will take about another 3-5 hours.  All the doors need their final coat of eggshell too.  I’m making new blinds for the kitchen area (I re-made the curtains last week in the evenings) I just used a cheap yellow gingham I ordered from a Home Scapes fabric store – link here.  I also bought new curtain popper tape to mount the curtains from e bay.  They were really simple to re-make on my sewing machine.  I have ordered a new laminate floor which should arrive in a couple of weeks (stay tuned for images).  I also need to completely re-vamp the bathroom which I think will be another days work too.  Then we should be read to ‘glamp’!

I’m hoping to get all the renovating done in time for harvest and spend many nights sleeping in a shiny fresh caravan on freshly cut stubble fields (especially as we wont be going on any long distance holiday any time soon) - I’ll keep you updated. 

Follow me on Instagram @emily_kiddy to keep up to date more regularly with my progress.

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Sewing - Make your own Animal Bag

Every time I get my sewing machine out of the attic my son always asks to have a go on it.  During 'normal' times my answer is a swift no, maybe another time, ask me in the holidays etc... etc... 
However, after trying homeschooling for a few days and realising that finding activities that last more than a few minutes are our top tip - suddenly when he asked about the sewing machine this week my answer was yes!  

Inspired by a pin on Pinterest I decided to set a simple task of creating two small animal faced draw string bags for them.   Alfred was happy making the Panda that initially inspired us from Pinterest (link) Unfortunately, like so many Pinterest pins these days I can't credit the original owner OR click though to a blog with detailed instructions so I re-created it myself (see downloadable patterns below).  We chose a panda face inspired by one of Wendy Kendall's Designs to draw on the front (link to Wendy's instagram and website)  She has loads of there cute characters which if you're confident enough to adjust my pattern template will make equally cute designs!  My daughter Elsie wanted to make a Unicorn(!) so we were inspired by a print by Printed Fabrics and adapted that design into our own bag print.

What you will need:

- Fabric about A3 size* (an old shirt or bedding would work great)
- Chord - an old shoelace, plaited wool, gardeners string will do**
- Cotton (any colour)
- Permanent Marker - a sharpie
- Sewing Machine ( or needle and cotton if you have the time and patience!)
- Scissors
- Pins (if you don't have pins just tape a couple of edges of the pattern to the fabric so pattern doesn't move when you're cutting out!)

Optional Extras:

- Buttons for eyes
- Fabric paint/pens
- Anything creative you can add to make it your own!

*I used calico that I ordered from Amazon
**I used some florescent camping guy rope spares

Step 1:

Download one of the attached templates (see bottom of post) - either the panda or the Unicorn.  These are simple templates.  You can change the details/design of the faces easily into a bear, horse, giraffe etc.  Just look online for inspiration! Cut the templates out carefully with scissors.

Step 2:

Pin the patterns to a piece of fabric.  An old piece of bedding or some shirt fabric will do.  I used calico (which you can order off Amazon) as I always have some around.  Cut out the pieces of fabric carefully.

Step 3:

Use marker pens and/or fabric paints to draw any face details to your design.  I placed the design under my fabric - the fabric was thin enough for me to see through and trance the design.  I used a thin nib black sharpie for the Panda and a combination of a black sharpie and some fabric paints I had in the attic for the Unicorn.  Make sure if you are using fabric paints that you leave the fabric to dry over night to avoid smudging and spoiling your design!

Step 4:

Iron the fold lines for the tunnel that will house your draw chord.  Iron the 5 mm at the top and then then over again to make the channel for the chord.  At this stage if you want to be a perfectionist you can sew the 2 cm edge in at the top just at what will be the entry to the chord channel to avoid fraying.  You can totally miss this part out though if its too confusing/complicated!!

Step 5:

Stitch the back and front of the ears together.  Make sure you sew them together inside out so when you turn out, the drawing details are facing the outside and all the stick details are bagged into the middle.

Step 6:

Place the chord into the channel you have ironed at the top (this is easier to do now then trying to thread it through later!  Stitch the channels closed so - make sure you don't sew over the chord.  Go very slow!

Step 7:

Place the back and front of the face together so the fact details are on the inside.  Insert ears into the correct positions and pin/stick into place.

Step 8:

Sew from BELOW the drawcord channel all the way around to the other side (below the drawcord entry)  Turn inside out and secure the drawcord with a knot at the end and you should have a draw string bag?

Panda Template

Unicorn Template

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

***Blog Hiatus!*** Corona Virus and my blog!

OK so things have changed slightly since I last posted on here!  Firstly, I hope everyone that follows my blog posts is staying healthy and coping with this crazy situation as best you can? I also hope your family and friends are doing well too and you are finding new ways to catch up with them?

I'm now trying to run my business (at a very limited service), home school the children and complete all the normal daily activities all from the confines of our home (excluding the 1 hour of exercise we are allowed to leave home for here in the UK currently)

Trying to take the positives from a really unusual situation I have found myself with the gift of time.  I have time to spend with my children (I actually miss them when they are at school and don't feel I get to spend enough quality time with them) I have time to walk alone - I try to get out and walk the furthest distance I can in the 1 hour we are allowed out here in the UK.  I'm managing to achieve 4 or 5 miles which conveniently is usually spot on the 10,000 recommended steps.  I'm also a thinker and this time alone fills me with creative ideas and allows me to sort out things in my head that may be worrying me.  I have time to do activities - I've dusted off my sewing machine, got my paints out, created a new veggie patch, planted loads of seeds, cooked homemade fresh foods daily, camped out in the spare room, foraged foods from the hedgerows and fields by my house and its only the second week.  I've always dreamed of living a more simpler life connecting with the land, my children and finding time to enjoy just being at home.  

Most surprisingly I'm watching very little TV.  I'm not a big TV watcher anyway but would usually watch maybe an hour or 2 each evening.  Instead, after I put the children to bed I'm cooking a decent meal, crafting and drawing and doing yoga, pilates and meditation daily for at least 30 minutes - I love it!  

I'm actually not stressed - sure if I watch the news I get anxious about the situation but I try to only watch the 4pm major update then switch it off.  Everything that exists outside my front door is out of my control and it is for everyone - it's almost too much!  I know there's nothing I can do (other than stay home)  So there's no point stressing - I just have to take what I can from a difficult situation - and to my surprise I am!

Which brings me to why I'm putting my blog on hiatus - no business, trend or fashion stuff but a place to share activities, crafts and recipes Im successfully trying out at home.  Don't worry - it won't be forever - hopefully normal service will resume very soon for all our sakes!  But fro now I hope you can enjoy a different kind of blog post and maybe find it of use / interest!

Here are a few highlights from the past week:

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