Thursday, 31 July 2014

Take Five

1) A little bit more simple, upcycling of clothes. This vest top was very Maria like but much too big...

A quick sew down the sides and trim off the excess...

And it's become a very easy dress for Maria.

2) After his success with building a pallet play house for Maria's birthday, Theo decided that since he had his tree house and now Maria had her house, he really ought to build something for Venetia too. So a second tree house is under construction, and looking pretty good already.

Maria is really loving her house and gets so much use out of it, including, now we're into (even!) later holiday bedtimes, plenty of use late enough to enjoy her fairy lights. They really make it a little bit magical, but hard to capture that in a photo!

3) Loom Bands or Rainbow Looms! Have you been sucked in yet?! They came to our house quite late, but now they're here Theo and Venetia, in particular, are loving them. I'm not mad keen on little rubber bands lying around but I am loving the creativity that's going with it. Up until yesterday I hadn't tried making anything myself, but then Pinterest sent me an e-mail with lots of ideas for them. I called Venetia to come and see and she promptly spotted a flower bracelet (herethat she loved but that didn't appear to have a You Tube video tutorial attached. She seemed to feel it was impossible to make unless it was on You Tube, and challenged me to have a go. What could I do?! So here's my first (and quite possibly last!) attempt at loom bands:

It didn't turn out exactly as planned but it wasn't a million miles off, and Venetia was impressed. It did, however, eat up what felt like loads of my time, especially before Theo showed me the little 'S' clips they use to join the ends of their bracelets, up until then I really couldn't work out how I was going to 'finish' it off! So I think I'll be very happy to leave future making to the little ones. I do find it amazing, though, how it feels like there's a whole new generation of makers being introduced to the online crafting world, and it's all happening through You Tube. Is this what the future of online craftiness will be?

4) I saw this short video on Facebook quite a while ago and have been waiting for an opportunity to include it in any kind of round up blog post. If you have children, boys or girls, and you haven't come across it yet then definitely take a look - Like a Girl. I think it's very powerful and true. In fact, take a look whether you have children or not!

5) And last, but definitely not least! I've started a new quilt! And I'm quite excited about it. Here's my pile of fabric...

Quite a few vintage prints I've thrifted, a few shirts, a skirt, even a pair of small shorts and a couple of sheets. Just my kind of stash to build a quilt around. It's going to be reasonably big, and, since I really don't fancy trying to wrestle a whole quilt through my sewing machine in the hot weather we're enjoying, it's going to be a quilt as you go kind of quilt. I've got an old wool blanket all cut out into the different blocks I'm going to make, each one numbered so that I, hopefully, can work out how to put it back together when the blocks are finished. 

Just have to make sure I don't lose my plan!
Watch this space for some progress over the next few days!

And that's the five for tonight, back tomorrow with a photo,


Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Painted Fabric Mini Quilt

Last teacher present coming up. And I think this is my favourite. Do you remember the fabric that Venetia 'painted' a while back with the watered down acrylics? (back here)

Here it is now in a mini quilt:

Venetia had to do just a little bit more emergency fabric painting for the binding when I realised we didn't have enough and we couldn't find any other fabric we liked for it.

We made it in the same kind of way as my Sunshine Quilt, and Venetia sewed on almost all the 'rays'. We started to get a little tight on time so I had to do the last couple, then add more quilting lines and the heart (just zigzagged on) with the writing.

We were both really pleased with how it turned out. And using home painted fabric is definitely something I'd like to do more of now.

Off to finish our book now, thanks very much for other reading recommendations earlier in the week.


Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Super Teacher Bag

Teacher present number 2...

I'm not going to attempt a complete step by step explanation of how I made this, partly because it's on the late side (again!), and partly because I think I'd just be very confusing! But, assuming a reasonable knowledge of sewing and maybe a basic understanding of bag construction, you might be able to see how it came together from a few photos. 

It was actually very easy and straightforward. Largely because I made it out of an old pair of linen shorts. Here they are before I started...

I'd already had a slice off the bottom for something else!
 So chopped up they looked more like this...

I really wanted to use the pockets...

They were a good size and closeable, and I always think pockets are essential on bags. Once it was all cut up, it occurred to me that I could make use of the waistband too, for the top of the bag.

I wanted to add some colour, so I made a quick couple of strips of patchwork to sandwich between the main fabric and the waistband top of the bag...

I've just trimmed up the main fabric piece to an oblong shape, and there's some machine embroidery I'll show you in a minute.
Here, I've just sewn on the patchwork sections...

I then sewed these together (right sides together obviously) and pinned them to my 'waistband' piece (again right sides together). I needed to gather it up slightly as I went since the waistband was a little smaller. Here it is with a patchwork strip added as a strap, through the belt holes.

I made another bag in blue fabric, the same size, for a lining. And ironed over a narrow hem at the top, then machine sewed it in place around the waistband piece. Here it is pinned...

Since I always like a pocket inside my bags too, I had cut out a pocket from another, very worn out pair of shorts, and just sewed the complete pocket on with a tight zigzag stitch before adding the lining bag. So here's the bag inside out with that pocket...

I used a couple of bag buckles with the straps so that they're adjustable.

And the machine embroidery on there...

Very difficult to photograph well, it's a bit on the pale side, if you can't make it out then it says 'I teach, what's your Super Power?'

And Venetia had done me a drawing of her teacher, dressed as a super hero, which I copied on to it in machine embroidery too.

Sort of my favourite kind of repurposing - I love making something which transforms the original piece completely so you almost wouldn't recognise it as being from the original. And personally, I wouldn't look at this bag and realise it was originally a pair of shorts. But also I love being able to keep and use original features, like the pockets and waistband, in the transformation - which obviously happened here too.

 What do you think - did you realise it was actually a pair of shorts before I mentioned it? And have you done any nifty repurposing recently yourself?


Monday, 28 July 2014

Painted Fabric Picture

First of the teacher presents tonight...

This was a present for a teacher who runs a drama club which we all enjoy, and the last performance was a musical version of Jack and the Beanstalk. Maria painted a beanstalk on some fabric for me, with watered down acrylic paint. Once it was dry I ironed it to set the colours, then added a wool back and picked out some of the detail with machine stitching.

The back has 2 'triangles' for hanging purposes.

And we experimented a bit with computer printing on to fabric, to add a message at the bottom.

I used this tutorial at Dolls and Daydreams. It was a lovely, clear tutorial, but the results were very mixed. This could be down to our printer though. I found adding a bit of 505 basting spray to stick the freezer paper and the fabric together helped, rather than just relying on ironing it. But even so there was a tendency for the printer to chew it up, the paper really needed very careful positioning. I think I might have had more success just sticking the fabric to ordinary paper with the 505 spray, and not bothering with freezer paper. But by the time I got round to trying that I seemed to have run the printer out of ink! We were hoping to make a couple of other presents using printed fabric, but I think in the end only 2 out of 9 or 10 attempts worked. It's something we'll try again when I'm back in ink. Anyone else out there had better success with something like this?

And I'd better leave it at that tonight. We seem to be falling into a holiday rhythm with our days at the moment. The children sleep late (good for a bit of early sewing time!), we potter around the house and garden in the morning and early afternoon, then head out to somewhere with water mid to late afternoon, when the sun isn't quite so fierce, have lots of fun swimming, playing, walking... 

With a BBQ for an outdoor tea...

 And then come back as the sun goes down...

Just in time for a quick hot chocolate, then straight up to bed, and I read to all the children together. I've been typing away here with my hot chocolate by my side but children are already upstairs and calling out for book time. We're reading 'My Father's Dragon' at the moment, which I'm just about getting away with, but it's very young for the boys. So as well as printing advice, has anyone got any suggestions for read aloud books that will keep ages 5 to 13 equally happy? I'm wondering about maybe the Narnia books, but the boys have read them in the past, and ideally I'd love to read something that's new to all of us. So all recommendations gratefully received.


Friday, 25 July 2014

This Moment

Here's a link to Soulemama's moment, and here's mine...

{this moment} ~ A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
. . . . . . . . . .

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Dream Big Little One

This week has been a bit of a whirlwind, but school has finally finished for the year today and all of a sudden I feel more relaxed! Especially after taking a barbecue down to the river this evening and staying for ages, swimming and playing in the water. Watching the bats flit over us as it grew dusky and generally not worrying about having to get children up early tomorrow for school. Hurray!

But it does mean I'm sitting down to write this very late - so I might keep it short. I have another homemade present to show you tonight. A present for a gorgeous, new baby. I think making presents for new babies could be the best kind of present making ever. So many different possibilities, and I was really dithering over what to make, when my friend Emma sent me this super cute picture.

Here on Pinterest

I had some fabric I wanted to use (to fit in with nursery decor)...

And, upon examining it closely, this sleepy, little owl in the pattern seemed to fit the text perfectly...

So, I made a mini quilt...

And since (yawn!) just looking at that owl (yawn!) is making me extra, extra (yawn!) sleepy, I'm off to bed now (yawn!).



Monday, 21 July 2014

A Mouse Picnic Present

So my mini quilt from last week required a couple of accessories before it properly turned into a present.

Many thanks to Emma who bravely let me borrow her posh camera over the weekend to take these photos while Theo still had mine!

I'd found this very small picnic basket with a mini tea set at a Charity Shop in perfect condition, and I thought it would be a cute variation on one of my favourite homemade presents. Several times I've given a teddy bear's picnic with a larger quilt, proper picnic basket and bear, this time around it became a miniature mouse picnic present. The 2 mice are little, wool finger puppets and fitted perfectly into the basket with the tea set. And Maria wrote a little mouse note to go with them.

I think this week may be full of home made presents, we seem to be in a mad rush at the moment to get teachers' presents finished for the end of school and there are a couple of others on the go or just finished too. So definitely a theme for the week.

And Theo returned from his camping at the weekend, tired but having had a good time, slightly more tanned than when he left, and happily with my camera in one piece! He'd been to the Scilly Isles, which is somewhere I've always wanted to visit. Here are a few of his photos:

Definitely still somewhere I'd love to visit! And despite having forgotten to pack his wallet, so having absolutely no money with him, he managed to bring me back a little present:

Ahhh, sea glass! My favourite! Just as with homemade presents, it's all about the thought and time and effort!

Back again tomorrow,