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Two years ago, I got a sewing machine for my birthday. It was great!! I used it 3 times to make 3 cushions, and then I got engaged (not because of the cushions… or was it?!!?) and forgot about it for a while.

Fast forward a year or so and catastrophe strikes! A horrible accident involving a pot of olives with a leaky lid, and a trust oil cloth tote bag, means I am now without tote, and anyone who knows me KNOWS this isn’t good news. I’m a girl who’s always cold and can’t travel light. I need  tote. So… you know what I did? I decided to make one.

A quick glance online told me that it wouldn’t be that hard, so I bought some polka dot cloth (I might have outgrown the colour pink, but I’m still a fan of dots…) and started sewing.

John Lewis, Cath Kidston, Sewing, Home Made tote bag

Dotty fabric, and a twee measuring tape. Sewing Threesmallapples-style(!).

To add some strength and to make it less flimsy, I lined the bag using some heavy white linen fabric, which were the handy off cuts from some IKEA curtains.

John Lewis, Cath Kidston, Sewing, Home Made tote bag

“Measure twice, cut once” that’s the phrase, isn’t it? (I might be a bit of a nerd).

John Lewis, Cath Kidston, Sewing, Home Made tote bag

John Lewis, Cath Kidston, Sewing, Home Made tote bag

To make the body of the bag, I sewed the two pieces of fabric back to back, before turning the material inside out, so the seam was now on the inside.

John Lewis, Cath Kidston, Sewing, Home Made tote bag

John Lewis, Cath Kidston, Sewing, Home Made tote bag

For the straps, take a piece of fabric 4 inches thick, fold it in half to create a crease in the middle. Then fold each half of the fabric into the middle crease, before folding the crease closed. This way, all of the edges are ‘inside’ the strap, meaning the strap is stronger and has no loose edge to fray.  Pin the strap to hold it together, before sewing along the open edge to hold it closed.

John Lewis, Home Made, tote bag, sewing tutorial, polka dot

I attached the straps to the body of the bag before sewing the side edges of the bag together.  I still need to figure out a neat way to attach the straps… A bit more practise needed, I think.

John Lewis, Home Made, tote bag, sewing tutorial, polka dot

Almost there…

John Lewis, Home Made, tote bag, sewing tutorial, polka dot

The old “sewing on the inside” trick again…

John Lewis, Home Made, tote bag, sewing tutorial, polka dot

Once it was all sewn firmly together, all there is left to do is turn it the right way out…

John Lewis, Home Made, tote bag, sewing tutorial, polka dot

And “Ta-da!!”, the finished article. I was so (sew?) pleased that I’ve actually already made another one as a gift and after 2 weeks of daily use, carrying a lunch box and a hard back, it hasn’t fallen apart yet. As you can imagine, I’m as pleased as punch.

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An indoor but ‘outdoors’ Swedish forest. In London?

Yep, thanks to Rekorderling.

Of course there’s a DJ in middle of the winter forest… at least the winter forests in East London.

Sweden isn’t Sweden without meatballs.

Skål

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What do you get if you mix a day with your closest girlfriends, a very sunny weekend and a lot of alcohol? Hen-idorm, of course!

And the best way to recover from a hen party conducted in 30 degree heat?

A bottle of  wine shared with friends, while sat at “the usual spot” under a Hawthorn tree in Primrose hill… x

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With wedding prep being forced to take priority (you’d hope so, since it’s less than 6 weeks away…!)  I feel like I haven’t had a spare moment lately.

But obviously I must have had, as this little collection of pictures prove.

Oh, and I’ve also been glued to the Olympics. Perhaps I shouldn’t have avoided PE in school…

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With the ThreeSmallApples wedding extravaganza (whoops, hyped it!) looming, I’ve been every so slightly distracted. There is SO MUCH still to do, and it doesn’t always help that Mr ThreeSmallApples is the one of the most chilled people ever. So chilled, in fact, that when I send him rambling but bullet-pointed emails because I feel a bit like this, he usually doesn’t reply. ARG!

One of the things on the never-ending (it actually appears to be growing) list is flowers.

Do you know the cost of wedding flowers? Like all wedding related things, they are so ridiculously expensive that you feel like having twigs instead. And then they die. Money well spent(!).

Instead of selling my flat (where would the cats live?) to pay a florist, I thought I might do the flower arrangements myself. It can’t be that hard can it?  I was quite pleased with that jam jar… but the flowers in the garden aren’t really going to go very far. And it’s probably best I have a practice with something a bit bigger than a geranium in a jam jar.

So I dragged Mr ThreeSmallApples down to Columbia Road Flower Market.

Dahlias… Note to self: plant this week!

Might cheat with herbs since this year’s Parsley is a total disaster

Sunflowers are a bit of a fav. And they last for ages.

The “trick” (according to Mr ThreeSmallApples, who has no flower arranging experience) is to pick some stems with a head that faces ‘up’ and some that have a tilted head. I hate that he’s always right.

I added some pink Gerberas. Not because I’m obsessed with pink (grown out of that phase.. ahem) but because there was a bit of a disappointing Gerbera selection ‘down’ the market. Might have to have a word…

And there we have it, another floral success!

Now to do something like this on a much larger, slightly more stressful (probably…) scale.

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When Threesmallapples HQ was moved to N16 2 years ago, I was pretty excited!

Not only is N16 a hotbed for cute cafes, nice pubs (‘nice’ makes them sound crap, but they’re not. They’re not overly trendy, overpriced or over stylised, they’re just bloody…nice!), new bars, and quirky shops, it also has one of the best Turkish restaurants in town.

What I wasn’t quite so excited about was the cemetery. Which is why I couldn’t understand why people kept saying to me (ME! Of all people!) “you HAVE to check out the cemetery”. But, I did check out the cemetery, and it turns out, it’s not just a cemetery, it’s an arboretum. Which basically means it’s extra spooky.

Opened in 1840, 196,843 people have been buried in Abney Park Cemetery.  Erm.. hello? Can anyone say “ghosts”?

But they were right, it really is something worth seeing. So worth it, that I decided to have a wander on a sunny day, take some pictures, and then get too spooked to look at them for 2 years.

Abney Park cemetery

Abney Park cemetery

Uhhh… hi!?

Abney Park cemetery

Abney Park cemetery

The path to…?

Abney Park cemetery

Abney Park cemetery

Abney Park cemetery

Abney Park cemetery

I don’t think there are any ghosts in these pictures, but I haven’t really looked. And I can’t watch Three Men and a Baby either…

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After almost 2 years in Threesmallapples HQ, the unbelievable has finally happened! No, the cds haven’t been unpacked from their dusty boxes (or Music Magpie-d. Average price paid for my shockingly bad cds? 30p. Still, it all adds up…) nor have we changed the dead lightbulbs in the hall.  Instead, the ‘Holding Pen’ has stopped being a holding pen and has actually become… a dining room!

No more trays on laps or boxes of unpacked rubbish (the cds are under the bed), nosireeee.  Instead, we’ve got a proper dining area to entertain guests and fight off scavenging kittens. Result!

Now, I still haven’t managed to re-cover the dining room chairs (now that I’ve finally found a fabric, Mr Threesmallapples wants to buy new chairs…(!)), but I have managed (ok, I helped. Slightly) to open up the dining room but getting rid of a couple of oversized and underused black IKEA shelves and replacing them with wall mounted box shelves.

Hurrah! Small progress but progress nonetheless.

And one day soon, I might actually get the chairs done!

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