Terrariums – my other passion


Just a short digression into my latest hobby – creating Terrariums.

I love gardening and plants in general (I used to be a professional botanist in a earlier life), but I have been very taken with terrariums recently. Perhaps it is because this last winter was so long and rainy, that I couldn’t get out into my real garden so I had to find a way to garden indoors. In any case, I believe plants are good for the air quality in homes that are closed off from the outside, like ours are during long Canadian winters. Gardening is good for my mental health too.

The middle picture in my “inspiration” collage of the orchid terrarium got me from just thinking about terrariums to actually making one – isn’t it gorgeous?

I have been trying to find Lady Slipper orchids to create my own, but they are really hard to find. (If anyone knows where to find them on Vancouver Island or Vancouver / Lower mainland, please let me know).

I started looking out for apothecary jars and other suitable glassware in TS, and found lots! For a few dollars one can find all sorts of lidded glass containers, and turn them into terrariums with a few small plants from your local nursery. Here are 2 I made from lovely “Apple and pear” glass containers:

One thing I learned fast is that you have to use plants that come in 2 inch pots – anything else has a root ball that is just too deep. Take note of the height of the glassware – it is the limiting factor.  The plants at the rear of the photo proved to be too big for my jar -it is a good idea to measure your jar before shopping for plants.

If the jar is sealed, SMALL  tropical plants, mosses and ferns are suitable choices. Sealed jars have high humidity, so the main problem you will find is that plants die because they don’t like their “feet wet”- they cannot tolerate soil that is too wet as it literally drowns the roots.

Rot and mould set in pretty quickly so one has to be very careful not to over-water. Misting your terrarium is miles better than watering. In fact, if your soil is damp, don’t add any more water – what  water there is will be recycled by the plants, and you will hardly ever have to water at all. If there is a lot of condensation on the inside of the container, remove the lid for a few hour to let it dry out.

Unsealed terrariums created with succulents and cacti are also great – that is next on my list of projects to do. Even if the jar /container is not sealed, it still acts as a hot house, so be careful of placing terrariums in direct sunlight or the plants will literally “cook” in the heat.

There are a lot of great sites with instructions regarding creating terrariums on the internet. This is a great project for children and can be a great opportunity to introduce them to recycling.

Here is my quick “how to”:

1. Find a suitable clear glass jar (Thrift stores are great for this). None of these cost more than a few dollars. Cookie jars, storage containers and large Mason Jars work just great!  To start with, select jars you can get your hand into. Wash and dry  them well to get rid of any possible substances that may kill your plants.

2. Place a 1/2 inch layer of washed pebbles on the bottom of the container for drainage:

3. Pat the pebbles down, then add a 1/2 inch of sand (if you use sea sand from a beach, wash it well first to get rid of the salt). Pat it down well. I like to see the well-defined layers…

4. Add about 1/4 inch of potting soil (very sparing if using cacti/succulents) – once you add your plants, you will add more soil.  Arrange  your plants in an attractive display outside the jar first, then remove them from their pots GENTLY. Place them in the jar, with some taller plants towards the middle and smaller ones around the outside. I like to use variegated plants to add interest. Miniature African Violets are great for adding a pop of colour.

5. Fill up the spaces between the plats with soil sparingly! It is a pain if you get soil all over the plants, so use a paper or plastic funnel to direct the soil to where it is needed.  Pat the soil down with fingertips.

6. Clean the inside of the glass again.

Here the large terrarium is in situ in my sunroom. I kind of spread mine around the house, but they look great clustered together like in the picture above.

Tammy has totally piqued my interest in tangerine..nothing says SPRING like tangerine!

Have a great day,

Pippa

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Anne blouse pattern: sheer loose fitting, with batwing sleeve


I love these loose-fitting, draped blouses as throw-overs for summer.  The right hand one comes from one of my fav sites (Burda) offers free patterns.

They are such fun, and quickly give an updated look when popped over a tank and leggings.  These are some pictures from various websites that I took inspiration from for a  cropped batwing sleeve pattern I have called “Anne” after an old friend who was slightly “batty” (love her quirkiness)!

 

Here is my version, modeled by my favorite “tester” , who gets to try out my patterns and offer constructive comments. It is apparently versatile and comfy to wear. Download the pattern from the  “Box” widget in the right hand side bar.

"Anne" loose batwing top

It is super easy to make. I purchased 60 centimeters (or 0.6 m) of sheer fabric for this project – a lovely chiffon which has  a lovely drape.  It was a very wide fabric, so you may need more if your fabric is narrower.

I think any lightweight, sheer fabric that has a nice drape would be good for this. Chiffon is quite pricey ($15 per meter) but you could also try making it from a remnant, a fine old table cloth or sheer / lacy curtain. After I made this (dang), I saw a beautiful size XXXL chiffon dress ($5)  in the TS *recently that would have probably made 2 of these. The  large size clothing and night wear racks are always “happy hunting grounds” for fabric. *(I’m going to say “Thrift Store” so often I may as well start abbreviating it!)

The neck opening is quite scooped so it does end up quite large  – don’t enlarge it or it may fall off the shoulder! Meryl likes the scooped neck, because if she wants to,  she can pull it down at the back, making the front extra cropped showing some midriff. The neckline then fits at the neck base, with the back draped asymmetrically. She also pulls it to one side sometimes, exposing one shoulder.

I used a serger (overlocker in South Africa) for the seams, but if you have a regular machine, try doing a french seam when sewing these very fine sheer fabrics. (Instructions here or http://www.sewneau.com/how.to/french.seam.html

Here is the free pattern if you’d like to try it. Anne top Pattern or Download the pattern from the  “Box” widget in the right hand side bar.–>

Print it off and join the pieces together , matching the symbols. Both pattern pieces are placed on the fold along their center line.

I didn’t take any photos of the sewing process, so I cannot post “How to” pics, but if you would like me to, please leave a comment.

Method:

It only has 2 seams (shoulder and underarm), and the arm and waist edges are just hemmed with a narrow hem. If you have a roll-hemmer setting on your serger , you could use that to finish the edges instead – it depends what look you like.

1.  Sew ONE shoulder seam together. This fabric was VERY slippery to sew, so I actually “cheated” a bit, and did not cut the shoulder seam for this particular top, but just put the pattern on the fold of the fabric. I folded the fabric in half , then half again, and basically cut a hole for the neck. The shape of the garment would be better with a shaped shoulder seam though.

2.  Bind the neck opening (**remember it’s always easier to work flat than once the other shoulder seam is sewn) I just serged the edge of the neckline and turned it under, and sewed it down (since this was just a “test”), but I think it would look better bound with bias binding in the same fabric. (see earlier “Meryl” top for Bias Binding Tutorial)

3. Sew the other shoulder seam together.

3.  Sew the arm hems. Ditto for comment above**. You could also thread elastic or a cord / ribbon through the arm hem if you want it to gather up slightly, but if you decide to do that, sew the underarm seams first so the armhole is a continuous loop.

4. Sew the underarm seams. Hem the lower edge with a narrow hem. Alternately you could add on another 2 inches in the length and make the hem much wider.

Press all seams down so the lie flat….and you’re done!

I hope you like it.  In my next post I will show you another version with a collar that I made for a friend Tammy.

Keep well,

Pippa