Archives for category: family life

This weekend I’m working with The fashion souk at The Good Life Festival, My workshop is billed as customising clothes, hand sewing & learning how to make a 1 hour wrap skirt so I thought I’d better have a go!


working out the size; measure your waist and add half again (30 inches plus 15 = 45) Then multiply the waistline by 30% (45 x 0.3 = 13.5) round it off to 14 inches.

To work out the hem multiply by 40% (45 inches x 0.4 = 18 inches). Then decide how long you want your skirt, I went for 24 inches.

pattern 2 You end up drawing (with a ruler!) a shape 14 inches across the top, 24 inches down the sides and 18 inches along the bottom.

pattern 3 You then cut this shape out of paper and lay it on top of your fabric (I used old curtains) You need to cut three identical shapes.


Next stage is to sew the side seams, make sure you put the wrong sides together!



You then want to iron the seams back and front to make them nice and flat.


Next you’ve got to sew the hem edges on either end of the skirt. To do this iron quarter of an inch and then another half inch over again and sew. You need to create your waist band next, to do this fold over quarter of an inch and them a good inch and sew.


At this point you need to make a little hole for your ribbon to pass through at the inner edge of the first panel. You can do this by creating a button hole using your machine.

You then sew the ribbons on at either end. Finish off your bottom hem and Bob’s your uncle!



I know my instructions aren’t great, I’m better at verbal and demo than I am at writing instructions down so come along to the Good Life Festival at Oxford Island this weekend (25th April) it’s free, there will be lots to do for all the family and I can help you make a wrap skirt patter, way hey!!

I’ve brought in New Years on rainy Belfast streets listening to terrible tribute bands,  toasted the new day on a beach with an audience of sleepy seals and  spent several New Year eves wandering the deserted lanes of a very sleepy Belgian village waiting for something to happen.

The eve of 2012 was a  new experience of uncharted territory for me as I was  treated to a traditional Ulster Scotts New Year in the heart of the quiet Ballymena countryside (at least it was quiet until the Lambeg made it’s entrance).

For a non musician, Rhthymless person such a myself, it was a revelation to spend the evening with a small gathering of musicians,in a character full old farmhouse, jelously guarded by two very alert geese and about a dozen roosters.

The Walls of the farmhouse were papered with Caroline’s energetic paintings and  Willie’s collections of fiddles and drums hung, slung and perched on every available space.

As midnight approached we joined the geese and livestock in the farm yard for a serious Lambeg drumming session, the incredible sound of the drum cutting through the darkness was riveting, I wonder did the neighbours find it as riveting as I?

Suitably inspired we were all give a drum or percussion of some shape or form and joined in with WIllies infamous “Lambeg drum rant rap”  (click on the link at the top of this page to listen). I was given the wooden spoons which I  just about managed without disturbing the rythym!

The drumming ended up being pretty frenetic  and could have ended in a very sleepless night but  we were fortunate enough to have Cherith Boyle ( to wind us down with a stunning harp recital, she played some of her own compositions which were both haunting and sparkling, worth a listen on this link.

I woke up this morning to the sound of twelve roosters, two Geese and my two little boys who had happened upon a clatter of tin whistles, luckily everyone was still filled with the grace and patience of newly made resolutions of loveliness and those who could, slept on!

We breakfasted in Canadian style with caroline’s wholemeal cranberry scones, apple blackberry sauce and maple syrup yoghurt all fabricated on the spot though I did notice the blackberries came from the hedgerows via the freezer.

A bit of a wander in the country side in a rare spot of winter sun finished off a very special and unforgettable new year for me.  Stuff the champagne and canapés and bring on the Lambeg. Great celebrations are all about spending moments with friends, sharing time, ideas, inspiration and giving a bit of yourself, thanks guys!

A Wigwam is not something you generally throw together without prior thought or preparation, so impromptu may sound a little odd, however…

When I was a child my dad undertook a project of making a shelter with us from tree poles. It was for my brothers school project but the whole family got involved, I have lovely memories of hanging around in the woods all day, and watching the structure emerge, the excitement of afterwards being able to sit inside this home with the damp mossy ground underneath and the sunlight filtering through the woven fern roof. The shelter survived for quite a number of years and each time I walked the nearby path, I would glimpse the building through the trees getting more skeletal as each year passed.

I have had a thought in the back of my mind for some time that I should do something similar for my boys, though how,I did not know as my woodsman skills are limited compared to my father’s. 

It was a lovely surprise then, to find myself in the possession of eight beautifully straight poles which I cut from a bay tree which had spread too much.

Jonah was able to get involved trimming the excess branches and leaves, we just threw the structure up by finding poles that leaned nicely against each other, might not have passed building control but it stood.

Finally I found some sheets and tablecloths and pinned them together with clothes pegs, it was really a lot simpler than expected.

The boys had the most wonderful day playing inside their tipi, they took it very seriously transforming themselves into a king and his servant, it’s not just girls who like to play houses!