Fun at Belton House – #CountryKids

Today’s Country Kids post is more of a photo gallery than a wordy post, for a couple of reasons – it was Granny and Grandad who actually had the fun with the boys (so I can only recount what Andrew enthusiastically reported on the way home, and the photos are all Grandad’s), and the end of this week has been tiring with a congested toddler and a teething baby waking at night (so I’ve been napping in the day myself instead of writing).

Last Saturday, Tom and I were invited to the wedding of an old friend of ours from university. Although they said that Joel could come with us as he’s still breastfeeding, they were hoping that those with less dependent little ones like Andrew could find alternative childcare. Joel is now feeding a lot less during the day, and not at all when we’re out, so we decided that a few hours away from me would be fine for him too. That would be enough for us to celebrate with our friends at the church and the drinks reception but not stay into the evening. The venue for the wedding was equidistant from us and my parents, so Granny and Grandad jumped at the chance to come and meet us there and spend the afternoon with the boys. We all had lunch together in a friendly pub, and then Tom and I headed off to the church, which turned out to be tiny, and we wouldn’t have been able to easily contain two very fidgety mobile children for an hour within the old pews anyway!

Belton Collage 1

Belton Collage 2

Belton Collage 3

The boys and their grandparents headed off down the road to the National Trust property of Belton House near Grantham. I can see from the guide leaflet that they left in our change bag that it has huge grounds with lots to do for families. The most popular things with our boys were the little train ride and the extensive adventure playground. Andrew got to wear the train driver’s hat, and he keeps going on about the big slide that was very fast. They also enjoyed an ice cream from the cafe. Fortunately it was lovely weather so they could spend the afternoon outdoors, but there is an indoor soft play area too for wet weather days out.

Belton Collage 4

Belton Collage 8

Belton Collage 5

Belton Collage 6

Belton Collage 7

When we met back at the pub again, the three of them who can talk were all raving about how amazing Belton House is for children, and we’ve said that we’ll have to go back again one day – we have friends who live not far and go there often, so we’ve talked about meeting them there. Then I can write more about exactly what it’s like. Both boys were so exhausted from all the excitement that they fell asleep almost straight away on the journey back.

Belton Collage 9
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Little man’s tie for my little man (with tutorial)

I did this bit of craft a while ago (I think around Easter time?), but haven’t got round to blogging it until now given everything else that’s been going on. We’ve been to a couple of weddings recently, and I thought it would be really cute to make a little tie with elastic around the neck for Andrew to wear to them, with a white shirt and smart pair of black trousers. A while ago I bought a metre of a lovely deep green-blue silky material to mend a dress of mine that needed a bit of patching up. That was far more than I needed, and I thought the leftovers would come in useful for something – indeed it’s the perfect fabric for making a little tie. I’ve never made one before, but I figured it couldn’t be that hard. I looked at one of Tom’s ties to figure out how they are made, and came up with a pattern for a smaller ‘fake’ tie – i.e. you don’t need to tie it each time, it looks real but it’s actually a fake knot at the top and held around the neck with elastic. I remember my brother and I both had one like this for school when we were little (ah the days when even primary school uniforms included ties!)

Here are a few pictures of Andrew proudly wearing his little man’s tie for my cousin’s wedding last week. I realise that I made the elastic a bit too long, but I thought it was better to err on the cautious side and not make it too small, and this means there is some growing room. Of course it was incredibly difficult to accurately measure a wriggly toddler around the neck in the first place! He did very well at keeping it on, and despite an initial few minutes of trying to pull it off, he soon got distracted by something else and forgot about it. By the evening of the wedding celebrations, we took it off, but he wasn’t the only one without a tie then – there were some grown men who were also going for the more relaxed, evening look.

Smiley boy 🙂
A side view of the tie
The three of us all colour-coordinated
Andrew and Grandad, both with smart ties!
Andrew and granny, jumping in the air!

Here’s a tutorial for how I made it, in case you’d like to have a go too. It was relatively easy and only took a couple of hours, but was quite fiddly at times due to its small size. First you’ll need to download the pattern here. Note that this is a not to scale pattern, so to make your own you’ll have to draw it out following the measurements given, on an A3 sheet of paper (or two A4 sheets stuck together will work just as well!) Then follow the steps shown by the pictures below. I hope it makes sense – let me know if anything isn’t clear or needs explaining better.

Pin the pattern pieces to your fabric, making sure the edge of the fabric runs parallel to the height (i.e. top to bottom) of the pattern pieces
Cut around the edges of the pattern so that you end up with two pieces of fabric – the main tie bit (piece A) and the knot bit (piece B). Remove the pins and paper.
Cut two more more pieces of fabric using the ends of the pattern piece for the main tie – about 5cm long for the thick end and about 3cm long for the thin end.
Take the ‘A’ piece of fabric and pin the extra thick and thin end bits of fabric at each end, putting right sides together (so the wrong side of the fabric faces outwards).
Sew around the edges of each end (1cm in from the edge, to give a 1cm seam), so that the separate end bits of fabric are fastened securely to piece A. I always position the pins at 90 degrees to the sewing machine foot, so you can sew right over them.
Remove the pins from each end. This picture shows the 1cm seam, with the fabric pieces still wrong sides facing outwards. Cut small slits almost up to the seam at each corner, to help the corners become well-defined when you turn it the right way out. Now turn the end bits the right way out, so that the right side of the fabric is now showing, and the raw edges of the seams are inside the end bits.
Fold piece A (with its now attached extra end bits) in half lengthways, with the right side of the main piece of fabric facing inwards. Pin at regular intervals along the length. Again, position the pins at 90 degrees to the edge of the fabric so you can sew over them. Sew along the length that you’ve just pinned, leaving 1cm gap the edge of the fabric for a 1cm seam.
You now have a tube of fabric, thinner at one end than the other, and with the wrong side of the fabric facing outwards. Turn this tube inside out, by poking the pointed bit of the thinner end down into the tube and pulling it through. Note that this is very tricky, as the tube is so thin at that end. But I eventually got it through, with patience and pulling it through a little at a time. This picture shows piece A pulled the right way through. Iron it at this point, so its nice and flat rather than a circular tube.
Take piece B, with the right side of the fabric facing up. Fold the longer edges over to the back by 1cm. Pin these edges down.
Sew 4cm from each end along the two lengths that you’ve folded, to fasten the folded edges securely at each end. Don’t sew along the whole length, because the seam would then show in the final (fake) knot.
Fold piece A in (roughly) half, so that you get something that looks like a real tie when its tied! I mean a longer, fatter bit at the front, and a shorter, thinner bit at the back. Iron this as it is, to make it easier to adjust piece B around it. Take piece B, and fold it around the top of (now folded) piece A, to create something that looks like a knot, as shown in this picture. Fold the sides at a small angle (rather than straight around the top of piece A) to give this effect.
Carefully remove piece B from around piece A, keeping the folds you made in place. This is what piece B should look like from the back when you remove it from piece A.
Pin the two ends of piece B together, as shown in the picture (I’m finding this quite hard to describe in words, so I think it’s easiest to get it from the picture). There should be a point at which a natural fold forms at the back of the fake knot.
Sew the two ends together along the fold at the back of the fake knot where you pinned it. You can see here that I folded the joined-ends bit over to the left once sewn.
This is what piece B looks like from the front once you’ve sewn the ends together and made the fold in the back. Cut off all the loose threads and neaten up the raw edges of the fabric at this point.
Fold the raw edges of the fabric (shown on the left in the previous picture) into the centre of the knot, a bit like when you’re wrapping a box-shaped present with paper. This picture shows the first step of the fold…..
…. and this picture shows all the excess fabric tucked neatly into the fake knot, so it is no longer visible on the outside. This fabric also gives the fake knot a bit of extra bulk, to make it seem more like a real knot!
This picture is taken from the bottom end of the fake knot, showing that you can still see through it (it’s a small tube), and I’m still holding the excess fabric folded into place as it’s not sewn down yet.
Now you should have 2 pieces that look like this. Piece A is the main bit of the tie, and piece B looks like a knot.
Slide piece B up along piece A from the fat end to the thin end.
Position the top of piece A (the bit where the whole thing is folded in half) underneath the folded over top edge of piece B. Hand stitch along the top of piece B to fasten piece A into place. Don’t sew through all the way to the front, just catch the folded over bit of piece B (shown here) to piece A.
Measure some elastic around your little man’s neck, to get the right size, allowing 1cm at each end to attach it to the fabric. Hand stitch each end of the elastic to each side of the fake knot. Again, be careful not to sew all the way through to the front, but just catch it onto the folded over edge of piece B, like you did when stitching pieces A and B together.
Finally, close up the top of the knot, trapping all excess threads, raw edges of fabric and elastic inside the knot. Do this by hand stitching neatly along the top of the folded over edges of piece B on the back, so any thread shows only on the back of the fake knot.
And there’s the finished tie! Now it’s ready to be worn by one smart little man 🙂



Crafts on Sea