The campervan cushions…at last!

I know that I have been promising you pictures of the cushions for the last couple of months and I finally finished the last one yesterday. I have been having a quiet weekend sorting things out and finishing up all my projects so I can finally share them. I thought it would be useful to do a little tutorial as well for the VW van. There are lots of pictures of these cushions available but I couldn’t find a ‘how to tutorial’, so thought I would share one here.

I drew my own template using the pictures I found for inspiration. My cushion cover is 14 by 14 inches so my backing fabric started at 16 by 16 then I trimmed it down. I drew the whole van and then used tracing paper for each individual part of the van. Then comes the fun part of choosing all of the fabrics!

I chose to use double sided interfacing to stick down the pieces onto the backing fabric. You could just sew them straight on but as I wanted to machine zig zag round the edges of some pieces and hand stitch on others it makes it more stable.

I did the ziz zags first, then the hand stitching and embellishments. The hand embroidery is all chain stitch. I have used a lot of different things from stash for these cushions, the cute little flowers come from the haberdashers here and I have them in different sizes and colours. The other laces and ric rac I have just picked up over the years, some of it is from The Range in the UK which always has great lace.

Once it is embellished it is time to make the back of the cushion. I always make envelope backs as they are the easiest method. The backing fabric is from Rose and Hubble, they have now stopped making it but you can still find plenty on Ebay. It comes in about 6 colours.

You need to cut the piece longer then the cushion by about 6 inches the give a generous overlap. I then seam both edges and then stitch the overlap together before stitching back and front of the cushion together. All cushion backs were made the same way.

For the second cushion I used some hexagons that I had in stash and just sewed them very carefully on to the backing fabric. This fabric was actually a cushion cover bought in the local Merca China homewares store. It seems a little illogical to buy a cushion cover then cut it up but it was the easiest and cheapest way of getting fabric.

The final cushion was a caravan pattern. This ended up being only a 12 by 12 inch one as I melted a bit of the fabric as the iron was too hot.. oops!

I have made smaller versions of a similar one from a free pattern by Flamingo Toes as embroidered hangings but this was a free pattern for a pot holder from Sewing4free. I combined elements of the two designs they had, and used the same tracing paper and applique technique as before. The only difference was the machine zig zag was done as the final step before making up the cushion.

I am so pleased with them and can’t wait to sort out the van when I get back. I also have bunting and fairly lights and a pretty throw that will double up as an awning/sunshade over the back doors. I have been looking at drive away awnings but they are really expensive and as I will have my tent with me for this year am going to wait and think about whether I really need one.

I will be back soon with a post about the new Steampunk outfit, am very pleased that everything is finished and I still have a week to go! Felling very organised 😉

I hope that you are having a nice weekend, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Galicia – wine and pilgrims

The most famous thing about Galicia is probably the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela, with pilgrim routes from all over Europe ending here at the tomb of St James. The area is also very famous for the wine that is grown here, particularly the white wine as the climate and the salinity in the soil gives it a unique flavour.

We had seen many vineyards on our previous trips and on the fourth day went to the town of Combados, which grew rich in the medieval period on the profits from wine. We were not expecting such a grand square where the palace was but it was stunning, with the church on one side and rows of beautiful shops and houses on the other.

There was an option to go on a little train tour, which most of the rest of the group did, but we decided to just have a wander round so we could pay closer attention to the gorgeous buildings. We even got to have a little peak in the palace wine cellar.

We did see a cute wine shop and bar but didn’t get anything there as the morning ended with a visit to a small vineyard and a tasting of some of their wine. Not only was it very nice but also came in a very pretty bottle, so I bought some as gifts.

The final day was one of the highlights of the trip, to visit the cathedral at Santiago. It was stunning, but I think the most amazing thing was watching the groups of pilgrims come into the square and seeing the expressions on their faces when they had finally finished. It was so moving.

There was time for a wander round the city streets, with lots of bars, shops and cafes displaying their wares in a very artistic manner, look at this for a display of ‘pulpo’, (octopus). There was also a little tribute to the Queen’s Jubilee in one of the bookshops.

We also encountered a couple of locals who were portraying St James and a medieval pilgrim and inviting people to have their photo taken with them. The costumes were brilliant and they were very popular with the tourists.

A truly wonderful end to our trip. It is an area I would love to return to, I do say that about most of Spain though so we shall see how things progress over the next few years. There are so many other places I want to see as well. Our next Spanish trip is to Cordoba in November and we have also just booked to go to Venice for Mum’s birthday next year in April which is very exciting!

I have to spend some more time next week getting my UK tour for 2022 sorted. I have booked my first two campsites for my first solo driving trip from Worcester to Whitwell which covers about 10 days. I have lots of other events apart from camping and also want to catch up with friends who I first met 40 years ago when I moved to Huddersfield to start my degree. It seems amazing that it was that long ago.

I will be back with a final crafting update next week, it is all progressing well so far, although I am definitely not going to be making any more costume in 30+ degrees again. It is completely my own fault as I should have done the costume first, then the camper cushions. There has been some blood, as I got myself stuck in the skirt once and the pin bit me 😦 a lot of sweat, but thankfully no tears during the making of this outfit.

Hope you are looking forward to a nice weekend whatever you are doing, my friends in the UK are also having really hot weather so I hope that you have a good time, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Galicia, where rain is art!

Our second day of the tour was a bit wet, which was actually quite nice. Even though I love living in Spain and not having to deal with endless Yorkshire rain, especially getting soaked at the bus stop, there is something lovely about dramatic grey clouds and misty scenery.

We visited the city of Pontevedre first thing and as I was walking across one of the squares, in my sandals, two builders asked me in Spanish why I was wearing those when it was raining. I was able to reply in Spanish that I was English, so was used to rain, which is when one of them said, ‘ah, in Galicia, rain is art’. I think that is a lovely way of thinking about it and certainly means that the scenery changes all of the time.

The city was really surprising, the exterior of the city looks very modern but inside there are beautifully preserved squares and buildings, very reminiscent of Caceres with their shields on the walls.

We had a guided tour, with poor Jose having to stop and wait as people went off to look at a beautiful chemist’s shop with a gorgeous tiled floor, or an interesting drainpipe!

I am sure he is used to this but it was a bit like herding cats 😉 At one point I nearly joined another tour group by mistake as I was trailing behind taking pictures.

In one of the churches there was another icon like the one we saw in Caceres with lights from her arms. There were also some very stunning doors, I particularly liked these white ones which were very unusual.

Our later stop was to visit one of the very interesting things that I had spotted on the journey in. At first I thought they were little roadside shrines, as most have crosses on them, but they are actually grain stores, designed so that rats and mice can’t climb up the legs.

The village of Combarro has a lot of these at the back of the houses and one street has been turned into a lovely row of shops and little bars, where you can sit, often underneath the barns, and admire the sea view. We bought some gorgeous cream liqueur from one of the shops and got a chance to go and have a look upstairs at the balcony. The house had been beautifully refurbished and there was a great view across the misty estuary.

Most of the afternoons on the rest of the week were free time so we went to the beach near the hotel that afternoon for a slightly mizzly walk. The scenery was stunning and there was a little costal path out to the edge of the estuary.

It was lovely to see so much beach, our local beach is suffering from the effects of global warming as the tides are getting higher every year. Now there is only a very narrow strip of sand between the bars and beach houses and the sea, which will mean that the summer visitors will have to go elsewhere for access. They have also had to remove all of the sun beds and umbrellas that we used to rent for the day. It is is very clear reminder of the power of climate change, sadly our favourite beach bar will probably be gone in a few years, or we will all be paddling to get to it.

It is a bit cooler today and we are due thunderstorms, I will be be using the inside time to finish the last few bits of the Steampunk outfit. I then have to try and make a bustle of some sort so that will involve some fabric fettling and experimenting as have not made one before. It is difficult to take pictures of the outfit as I haven’t got a mannequin anymore but will take some of the hat and jacket at least and then get some good ones when I wear it in July. I am so happy to have finished it, only 18 months in the making 🙂

I hope that you are all having a nice time wherever you are, and happy Summer/Winter Solstice to you. Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Another ocean

One of the exciting things about being in Galicia was the chance to see, and paddle and swim in the Atlantic, rather than my usual Mediterranean. Of course I have been in the Atlantic before, from the UK,but this was a different coastline so still exciting.

Last year I read a fascinating book about the history of the Atlantic by Jeremy Black. It was a really interesting mix of the history of sailing and exploration, as well as economics, such as the laying of the first telegraph cable and links between migration and empire. There were various points on this trip that I was reminded of that book as we were in the area where Columbus’s ship that sailed to America in 1492 was built.

The coastline is very different to ours, the mountains come down to the sea and there are lots of rocky inlets, which makes it very beautiful. The area is also quite industrialised and on the first day of our tour we visited the city of Vigo.

There were great views from the old fort, destroyed by Frances Drake during the 1500s, (sorry about that Spain!). The area has been turned into a park and there were lots of people enjoying the views over the port and inlets.

The area is very dependant on seafood for its economy, with lots of mussel beds. When we stopped for a coffee we took the opportunity to make friends with some of the live crabs on display in a local restaurant window.

Vigo was full of wonderful old buildings, the city went into decline in the 1990s but is now being extensively restored and it was great to see so many apartment blocks that are being refurbished. I loved the grey stone in the city as well.

There was a very different architectural style with lots of covered walkways, I think due to the climate as it rains a lot more here. It reminded me a lot of visits to Italy.

After Vigo we had a trip out to the island of La Toya, which is famous for its healing mud, used in lots of soaps and cosmetics. The island is full of very expensive apartments and a spa complex. There is a donkey sanctuary here as it was found that the mud helps the donkeys recuperate as well! There was also a little chapel which was completely covered in scallop shells, the symbol of St James.

Half of the island is a nature reserve with some amazingly tall pine trees. Mum was very taken with these, and with how green everything was. As she has not left Spain for three years she is very used to our dusty and quite bare landscape.

A quick stop at O Grove for my first paddle in the clear cool Atlantic was followed by a very exciting stop.

We were viewing a little Romanesque church on the headland, next to some Celtic ruins, when someone spotted dolphins off the rocks.

Sadly no pictures of those as they were too quick, you will just have to trust me that they were by the rocks in the picture above. The scenery was stunning as the sun started setting with the clear turquoise sea. A brilliant end to a very lovely first day in Galicia.

Life in La Marina continues to be wonderful, and very hot, it is 32 degrees today. The local charity shop on the way back from sewing group has been having a 1 euro sale so I have got some more cool clothes in the last couple of weeks to add to my Spanish wardrobe. Unsurprisingly I have never needed this many summer clothes before 😉

I have been working on the Steampunk jacket this week, as the hat is now finished so I am making very good progress. We have lots of social events coming up over the next couple of weeks as it is my 60th birthday soon. I am having a series of afternoon teas, drinks and meals out to celebrate that before flying back for some re-enactment events the first two weekends of July. It will be brilliant to catch up with everyone, some people I haven’t seen for three years due to the pandemic, so it will be an amazing time.

I hope that you all have a lovely weekend ahead, I will be back with more of Galicia soon. Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Another country

Galicia really does feel as if it is another country as it is so very different from anywhere else I have been in Spain. This is partly to do with the climate, as it rains a lot so the area is very lush with forests and vineyards. All of the houses have beautiful gardens, many with large vegetable plots.

The architecture is very different as well, due to the climate. The houses have sloping roofs, dormer windows, covered terraces and traditional balustrades and fencing made of the local grey stone, rather than our ironwork railings. Many have crosses outside to protect the houses from the local witches.

It is also a very long way away, 13 hours driving time on the coach each way, passing through many different regions. It is a journey of 1000 km and is actually further away than it would be to drive to France. As it is so remote compared to the rest of Spain it has a very different feel and a different language, closely related to Portuguese as the area we went to is very near the Portuguese border. The country was originally part of Portugal and has a long and fascinating history, if you want to read more this blog has a useful summary.

One of my ambitions for retirement was to see more of this beautiful country and I have certainly achieved that this year. This map below shows where I am, near Alicante, the blue star. Since last Nov I have been to Caceres, the orange star, Granada, the red star and now Galicia, the purple star. This coming Nov I will go back down south to Cordoba which is near to Seville.

The journey was wonderful, passing through the wheat fields, vineries and castles of La Mancha, on to the vast plains of Castile and Leon, before reaching the mountains and forests of Galicia. We were very happy to just sit and watch the scenery and think about places that we would love to go back to one day in Katy.

There were also many different varieties of cloud to admire, Mum and I love clouds and there were a vast array over the plains and fields, including some stunning low lying ones between the mountains.

We left nearby Torrevieja from the coach pick up at 7.15 in the morning and arrived at our hotel at 10.15 at night, 15 hours later with the rest stops we had made. To our great delight our hotel room had a sea view. One quick dinner later and I was on the terrace with a glass of red wine, listening to the waves with this amazing view.

It was equally lovely the next day as well.

The hotel helpfully had an ariel photo on the reception wall and it showed the hotel in relation to the peninsula it is on. The hotel was just off the main road that you can see at the bottom left, minutes from the beach.

We were staying just outside Sanxchenxo, in a region known as the Rias Baixas. These are the estuaries of the Atlantic and the region is full of wonderful islands just of the coast and beautiful beaches with such fine white sand. We were just north of Pontevedre on this map which meant that everywhere we went involved travelling along the estuaries.

This is the first time I have ever been on a coach trip where you stay with the group all week and have daily tours out together. It was a really interesting experience, there were certainly some characters in the group, (great material for my novel writing!), but we met some really lovely people who all enjoy travelling.

I have split the trip up into a few blog posts as there were so many interesting and very unusual things to see so will be back soon with some more lovely Galician delights.

The Steampunk outfit is going well. I have the cuffs to fit onto the jacket and the top of the hat to stitch and then it is just the skirt to sew which is hopefully a simple process 😉 There are only 19 days now until I return to the UK to pick up Katy and start my adventures there! I am so excited and looking forward to an amazing summer. I am nearly at the first anniversary of my retirement and I have had such a brilliant first year, it has exceeded all of my expectations and I just keep getting happier.

I hope you are all well and happy in your lives. Thank you all so much for reading my blog, it is very much appreciated and I am thrilled every time I get a new like or a new follower. I now have 396 followers and last year had 16,490 visitors which is just mind blowing. Whoever you are, and wherever you come from, you make me very happy! As always, until next time, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks a million for visiting 🙂

Making lace while the sun shines

We have had a fantastic morning joining in with the local lace makers’ day in the nearby town of Guardamar. One of our sewing group, Vivienne, has previously shown us her amazing tulle lace work and she organised the tickets for us to join her and the lace group she runs.

I had not heard of lacemakers’ days before but they are common in Spain, there is more information and a short video at the link above. Whenever you go to the fiestas there are the ladies with their lace mantillas, so I knew that lace was very popular here but did not realise how popular it was still to hand make it. Some of the ladies were making the mantillas, others panels or fans.

We particularly admired the group above who all had matching customised trollies to carry their lace making equipment in.

I love this circular design. I don’t think I could ever do this type of lace though, look at all those bobbins to keep track of! I am bad enough with two knitting needles and often start knitting backwards if I put a piece down.

There must have been about 200 people at the event, from as far away as Gandia which is about 90 minutes drive from here. We had a table and were working on our own projects, so we got the chance to meet, and practise our Spanish, speaking to some of the other women who came round.

I took English Paper Piecing. That really helps develop your language skills trying to explain how to paper piece! Lynn also took her work, she has made excellent progress with her cushion that started as a hexagon at our workshop a couple of weeks ago.

There were also some stalls so I took the opportunity to stock up on some more Christmas ornament fabric, and some embroidery thread.

I also picked up the cutest little fan charms. Many of the lacemakers were making fans and Vivenne did have some fans for sale, with an offer to design a pattern for me. However, I really need to finish some existing projects before I take up tulle lace, amazing though it is. I also got these very cute little lapel pins. I am going to leave one in my craft room and take the other one back to the UK to add to my seamstress Steampunk hat.

This is Vivienne’s fan, designed using characters from children’s books.

This is Sue’s beautiful lace stole, she is now making a fan to go with it.

This one was from another member of Vivienne’s lace group, Claudia.

The charity event where I was doing, ‘Guess the name of the Luna rabbit’, went very well yesterday and I sold the 50 guesses of the name really quickly. I have even got a commission to make another one when I come back in October. It was a lovely afternoon, celebrating the Jubilee and raising funds for the local foodbank.

Here is Scarlett in her Jubilee outfit, the winner also got three other outfits as well.

We had an amazing week in Galicia last week, such a magnificent part of this wonderful country and so very different to my lovely, and now very hot, La Marina. There will be lots of stunning Galician scenery coming to the blog soon, just as soon as I have sorted through the 327 pictures I took!

I have just less than 4 weeks left now so really need to get stuff done, time has really flown by as it does when you are having such fun!

Hope you are all having a good time whatever you are doing, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.