Friday, 28 November 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.
. . . . . . . . . .

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Frozen Inspired Dress 2

Frozen dress number 2! This one is based very much on the other nightgown design I used before - if there's an easy way to make something, especially a way I've done before, then that's fine with me!

So I started out with the same basic fabric pieces cut out, from a white sheet again...

And I had a paler blue, old voile curtain to add the frozen feel to this one...

My plan was something like this...

Only with pale blue sleeves and a cloak too. But at this point I decided it really needed something a bit more on the top. So I started playing around a bit with it.

I hemmed the front pieces...

Ironed a small hem over to the back and sewed it all down, except for the already hemmed, crossover section.

I decided it didn't need anything extra on the back, since the cloak would be covering it. There was already a hem along the bottom of the curtain so I used this as the bottom of the cloak and cut out a rectangle wide enough to gather nicely and the length I wanted.

I gathered it along as I went and sewed it to the top of the back top piece.

And then sewed these 2 pieces, right sides together.

Then for the sleeves, I cut them to the shape of my, now revealed, arm hole, but with extra for gathering.

And gathered them as I sewed them on, right sides together.

I then sewed from the tip of the sleeve right along and then down to the bottom of the top section, right sides together. So the top was all taking shape now.

Next the skirt. I wanted the pale blue fabric to wrap around freely and open in the middle at the front. So first off, I sewed the 2 white pieces down the sides, right sides together. I love being able to make use of already existing features when I'm upcycling - like pre-existing hems, the sides are both already handily hemmed for me here, and it also seemed sensible here to make use of the gathers which were lovely and even from the curtain tab at the top.

So I kept the tab on there initially and positioned the white sewn skirt just below it, as in the picture above, and sewed along below the tab to join the blue and white pieces.

So here it is sewn...

I then chopped off that tab which had served its purpose...

And at this point I did my usual trick of not taking any more photos! Maybe one day I'll manage to remember my weakness here! But, as always, from here on in is quite straightforward. 

Gather and pin the skirt to the top of the dress, right sides together of course, keeping the cloak out of the way and positioning the middle of the skirt with the centre of the top. Once you're happy with the gathers, sew it securely. And sew on a ribbon across the join, I found a lovely snowflakey ribbon.

Elasticate the sleeves, as in dress version 1. Hem the bottom - both blue and white. 

And then I used some white ribbon to 'bind' the neckline. I cut an opening in the back first, through both the cloak and the white top piece, and used the ribbon to bind both of these separately. And then added an elastic tie and button closure.

The darker blue fabric you can see in this photo is actually Maria's dress which is on the same hanger!

That's it for the basic dress, but I also hand sewed one of the silver, sequin snowflakes on to the centre of the top. And, mainly because there were a couple of tiny stains on the blue fabric, I sewed a few small white snowflake decorations on to the skirt too.

You can see some of the white snowflake decorations here.

So two Frozen type dresses, made almost entirely with upcycled fabric, and made fairly quickly and easily. That makes me happy, especially as it's two more very important presents ticked off with these two dresses!

And on a side note, after I hit the 'publish' button last night, climbed down from my soap box and into bed, I worried that what I had written yesterday might have come across that I was denying the existence of mental illness and the fact that it is a medical condition, or in some way poo poohing it. In fact the very opposite is true, which is why I feel so strongly about the subject. I think mental illness, particularly depression, is one of the biggest, under appreciated issues we have to deal with in public health in the developed world. We're seeing this already, and I worry that it will be worse for my children's generation, and their children. I know it's not just a matter of telling someone who suffers from depression to 'pull themselves together' or words to that effect, and that there is often a need for prescribed drugs to treat the condition medically. And that there are going to be extremes of clinical depression where 'choice' isn't an option in any way. But I believe, for the vast majority of us, there is so much we can do to help ourselves; to help ourselves avoid periods of depression in the first place and to help make the best of it and minimise it's effects, whether or not prescribed drugs are also required. And I feel passionately that we should be giving our children the 'tools' and the know-how to try and look after their mental health throughout their lives, I think this is something schools should be far more proactive with. And as someone heavily involved with the two local schools my children attend it's something I've pushed for, but writing this I'm thinking I should be pushing more there! So I'll stop going on about it here, stick to the crafting in this space and start trying harder to get our two schools to do even more! Money where the mouth is again!


Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Take Five

I woke up this morning feeling like I'd swallowed a bag of prickly pears whole and convinced that it was an hour later than it actually was. Not the best start at all. After a fairly self indulgent day, involving making and then drinking copious amounts of freshly squeezed fruit juice all by myself (usually I only ever do this with children!), my head is in a much better place. But I decided very early on not to try and make sense of my second Frozen dress photos. So instead I have a few bits and pieces to share with you in a 'Take 5' post...

1) I've finished off Maria's 'Lets Go Fly a Kite' mini, with the rainbow border.

So this is another gift ticked off the making list - it's going to someone special who shares kite flying memories with us.

2) I've also been working on the machine embroidered, snowflake napkins gift. All snowflakes are now embroidered...

I took these outside to photograph but it was a bit wet - there are a few blobs of rain on them!

I just have the more boring job of hemming all of them now, with beautiful mitred corners of course! You may have noticed in my quilts that I frequently avoid mitred corners, it's not just that I don't particularly enjoy doing them, I do also genuinely (honest!) prefer boxed corners - unless the design calls for mitred which it sometimes does. So I'm not a practised mitred corner person, I did see this tutorial the other day specifically for napkins so hopefully that will help me on my way.

3) I've been doing some of the best kind of thrifting - and I must confess it doesn't happen often around here! - I've been clearing out wardrobes! Mainly the girls', a very overdue job. Slightly surprisingly I found very few items which I wanted to chop up to use in quilts or any other sewing. I had only a couple of (small) bags of clothes to keep, ones I really couldn't part with or chop in any way, and a few items to refashion. Quite a few of the clothes were too worn to be useful for anything other than the recyling centre, but before they headed off that way I checked for one other thing, often overlooked in clothes being thrown out - buttons. And happily I found lots of lovely ones:

It's hard to see in the photo, but all those creamy ones in the middle are beautiful, small mother of pearl buttons.
4) There's been a lot of Christmas sewing going on around here, but not much Christmas cooking. I'm a bit behind with this to be honest. I managed to get my Christmas mincemeat made at the weekend, see here for the recipe. But no cakes or puddings yet - aagh! And someone recommended Mary Berry's Christmas chutney to me today, I'm not a chutney eater but it would make a perfect present for a couple of people I know. So I need to get a move on, only one month to go now! How are you doing with your Christmas cooking?

5) I found this interview with Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinsons, very inspiring yesterday. And it's coincided today with a conversation in which someone said to me - "I'm naturally a glass half empty person, you're naturally a glass half full person". The two together have got me up on my soap box, it doesn't happen that often, so please bear with me! My Dad was part of the conversation, and he chipped in - "Yes, she gets that from me". Now my Dad is an incredibly 'glass half full' kind of person, he could easily have 'optimist' emblazoned across his heart, he always tries to make the best of a situation and I think he fits very well within a modern day approach to 'stoicism'. But I'm not convinced that I've 'inherited' my 'glass half full' attitude from him. Possibly I've learnt it from him. I strongly believe we can all choose to be 'glass half full' people. In his interview Michael J. Fox says that he calls out to his children every day, "Choose happiness". A bit corny maybe, and they do joke about the fact that it probably makes his children cringe at times, but still such a powerful message. I really do think it's a choice rather than a gene. Maybe some people find it easier than others, but I don't think there are many amazingly lucky people out there who are 'naturally' happy all the time, it's something that everyone has to work at from time to time. We all go through difficult periods of our lives, but it's how we choose to deal with those difficulties that define us as 'half empty' or 'half full'.

I could be opening a bit of a minefield here in several ways. Maybe you suffer from depression or care deeply for someone else who does, and you might disagree totally with what I'm saying. If that's the case then please forgive me my views and we may have to agree to differ! I'm not saying necessarily that anyone has the choice to suffer, or not suffer, from depression, but that we all have a choice as to how we deal with it. Just as Michael J. Fox didn't have the choice to suffer from Parkinsons, which in itself often comes hand in hand with depression, only the choice as to how he dealt with it.

And I'm very aware that maybe it's easy for me to hold this view when I live in a warm, comfortable house, have 4 healthy children, a husband and no lack of food etc. Perhaps you feel it was easier for Michael J. Fox to deal with his illness given his wealth. But possibly this is a bit of a cop out, so often it seems that it's those with the least, living in the poorest parts of the world who manage to have the most positive attitudes.

There may be times when it's harder than others, times when we need some help to do it, but I do believe we can all choose to make the best of our circumstances rather than letting them get the better of us. And take a minute to watch Michael J. Fox, I think it's hard not to be inspired by his attitude.


Monday, 24 November 2014

Frozen Inspired Dress

If you are a household with girls of a certain age, chances are you are going to know most, if not all, of the words to 'Let it Go', and possibly a few other Frozen songs too. We are most definitely a household with such girls, and I'm pretty good up till the end of the second verse! Venetia and Maria aren't completely obsessed with the film, although they have watched it a couple of times, but they do love the songs. And I realised quite a while back that if I wanted to make something that the girls would really appreciate this Christmas, my best bet was Frozen dresses. The trouble was that I didn't much like the Elsa dress, which is, of course, the dress the girls would want. Don't get me wrong, it looks amazing on an animated Elsa, I just don't think, personally, that it translates very appropriately or flatteringly to 5 and 7 year old girls. So after quite a bit of deliberating I decided to just do my own thing and make Frozen inspired dresses which aren't trying in any way to be identical to the real thing. Hopefully the girls will still love to dress up in them as they bounce on the bed singing 'Let it Go' at the top of their voices!

So this one is for Maria and it was very simple. It was completely based on the nightgown I made back here

1) I cut out my basic shape from an old, white, flannelette sheet (deja vue for a moment here, I'm not going to call these nighties but I am thinking they might very well stay on overnight at times, so I wanted them to be comfortable too). And then I laid this out on an old, blue voile curtain I found in a Charity Shop, and cut duplicate pieces.

2) I sewed the two together, but just at the neck and sleeves, I wanted it to be lovely and floaty in the dress part, rather than joined.

3) I then sewed just the white, underdress sides together, right sides together.

4) And cut out my sleeves just from the sheer blue fabric, as per the original pattern but sized up for Maria, and sewed them on to the sleeve holes both sides.

We're getting near the end now and in typical 'me' fashion, I got all excited about finishing and forgot about taking any more pictures. But it is all very easy, honestly!

5) I sewed the sides, ie the sheer blue fabric, together, right sides together, starting at the tip of the sleeve and going straight down, past the arm hole to the bottom of the dress.

6) I had bought a metre of cheap, but gorgeously snowflakey sheer fabric (there's loads of it around!) and I cut a cloak size rectangle from this and hemmed it along the bottom - the edges of the fabric were sort of sealed and using those as the sides of my cloak gave me what felt like the perfect size, so I didn't need to hem them. I then sewed it to the back of my neckline, gathering as I went to get a full, flowing cloak effect.

7) As per the original pattern I turned over a narrow hem and then a slightly wider one around the neckline to elasticate the neck. And, again as per the original, I elasticated the sleeves.

8) Finally I hemmed the bottom. Easy peasy.

I say 'finally' but actually, you can probably see I hand sewed a smattering of silver snowflake sequins on to the front as well.

And here is the cloak at the back, which I think will be Maria's favourite part.

This is a dress that I'd love to photograph actually on Maria to show you, but I'm afraid it's waiting till Christmas! And I have also finished a different Frozen dress for Venetia for Christmas, but I'll save that for tomorrow. It wasn't tricky, but I seem to have taken quite a lot more photos of the making of that one, and since I started it a couple of weeks ago and have been making it in dribs and drabs ever since, when no girls were around, I'm really struggling to remember what I was doing at each stage and make sense of all my photos myself! Hopefully by tomorrow it will be clear as ice!

I'm going to link up with Ho, ho, ho and on we sew again, and this month you'll find it over here. In fact I'm sure there are a few recent makes I could be linking up there, everything I'm making at the moment seems to be Christmas related in some way of other.


Friday, 21 November 2014

This Moment

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

{this moment}

. . . . . . . . .
{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.
. . . . . . . . . .

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Wire and button snowflake

Possibly my children are getting a little bored of robins round here! Yesterday Maria came home after her morning at school, and the weather was too wet and horrible to do anything but light the stove early and find an activity to do right in front of it. I suggested we might make robins out of buttons and wire, but Maria very firmly decided she would make a snowflake out of buttons and wire instead!

It was actually an excellent idea, especially as I had some white, craft wire (I think silver would have looked good too, but I had no silver). I cut 3 long pieces for her and started her off by threading them through a medium sized white button and arranging them evenly.

Maria then threaded smaller buttons on to the wires.

She used mainly white buttons, with just a few little silver ones she picked out too. Occasionally she needed a bit of help pulling the wire all the way through, but generally it was well within her abilities, the wire was quite thin and flexible. And, very quickly, she had created a lovely snowflake ornament.

I helped her twist the wire around behind each of the final buttons.
This one is going to be another of the decorations for our Advent tree.

Before the girls started creating decorations for this, I think I had visions of them all being made from felt or wool, very much as the original inspiration tree had. And I'm sure there will be more felt/wool ones coming up, but I'm now really enjoying the fact that there are different materials being used too.

And as for the wire and button robin plan? I really didn't want to steal Maria's great idea and end up creating a fancier, more intricate snowflake than hers (well to be honest, I quite wanted to, but it really didn't seem right so I resisted the temptation!) so I stuck to creating the robin...

I think I might have preferred him with silver wire if we'd had any.
And although I quite like him, I much prefer Maria's snowflake. I'm also sure any fancy snowflake I might have come up with wouldn't have had quite the same charm as hers. And I'm very happy she's started another snowflake, with some gorgeous vintage mother of pearl buttons, that we can put in our 'hamper' of Christmas decorations to be gifted.


Friday, 14 November 2014

This Moment

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

{this moment}

. . . . . . . . .
{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.

Robin Quilt Blocks

I did warn you a couple of weeks ago, when this robin block came into creation...

...that there would be more robins coming this way. It has taken a while for them to filter through, but now they really are appearing thick and fast!

This isn't necessarily the best way to photograph these, they don't exactly give the feel of a future quilt this way, more oversized robin bunting! But we woke up this morning to blue sky and sunshine, so instead of doing something sensible like concentrating on getting my children ready for school, I dashed outside to take photos of robins! And I just had to get a photo with blue sky in it too.

With the original, I now have 7 blocks, 'framed', to a greater or lesser extent, log cabin style. 

I really like how bright and cheerful this one is.
These dancing robins could be my favourite though!

This one looks a bit cross here, but in real life he's not so grumpy!

That one above is a complete, blatant copy of a robin Maria drew for their 'advent' tree decorations, here it is on the tree...

Sorry, not the best of photos.
Maria drew it and picked out the fabrics she wanted, then I cut it out for her and we sewed it together, not that there's a lot of sewing. I liked it so much that I drew round it and recreated it for a block.

And here's the last one...

It felt like the framing was a bit dark so I added the holly.

I don't have any particular plan with this quilt. I'm just going to carry on making robins until I either run out of ideas for them or get bored with them. And then I'll patch them together somehow!

I have got a couple of other, non robin related makes on the go at the moment, if I get a bit more done on them I might actually share something unbirdlike here next week!