Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Take 5

1) I thought it was about time I shared some yoyo love.

I've been hand sewing these here and there for the past couple of months. The plan is to use them on a quilt, and I'm itching to start the quilt, but I'm being quite disciplined and want to finish Maria's quilt first.

There's a little pile on the left not spread out, I got a bit bored arranging them towards the end! I counted them back into the box though and there are 106 of them. I think this might be enough - especially as I could easily get more than a bit bored sewing them all on the quilt when the time comes!

 2) Speaking of Maria's quilt...

Not very speedy progress to report, but I have got one more block done. This one is a 'pocket block', with a little bird hiding inside.

He still needs an eye.

3) And an update on fish sewing too...

The daily sewing resolution has slipped quite a bit, it's not been the best few weeks and there have been a good few days when I haven't made it to the sewing machine at all - which in turn adds to it not being the best few weeks! Last week I started to try and get back in more of a sewing groove, and it was great to have the fish as an easy and quick project to pick up and get me going again. Something that needed minimal thought and effort.

So generally I think it's been more daily therapeutic practice, rather than the daily creative exercise I was hoping for more. And that maybe shows with the fairly boring fish that have come out of it. But I'm OK with that, and hopefully they'll start to be a little more adventurous at some point. Today's fish was slightly more that way and is one of my favourites so far...

Still very simple, but I like the black and white effect.
You might also see a connection between the colours of all these fish and the colours of those yoyos! They've all come from very small scraps left over from yoyo making, and it's great to be able to use such little pieces so immediately.

This shoal was all from the edges of a napkin, the centre was a solid red which I used  for yoyos, but I didn't think the stripey parts worked so well in a yoyo.
The girls have been quite intrigued by seeing a growing pile of fish, and when I explained the thinking behind it they really liked the idea. So much so that I cut them a good supply of small oblongs of pale, sea coloured paper and they can draw a fish (or sea creature) whenever they feel like it and stick it up on their own background - just the bottom of a cardboard box.

I think quite possibly they may help provide some fish pattern/shape/design inspiration to me along the way.

 4) I haven't shared any thrifted finds with you recently, and there have been a few! Some gorgeous embroidered tablecloths...

I do have quite a large number of embroidered table cloths and napkins now, and I've been trying to come up with ideas to use them - so I don't feel guilty buying more when I spot them at bargain prices! Especially as, although I very much like my quilt top from embroidered pieces, I'm still too scared to quilt it so making more quilts in that way is not so likely in the near future. I've come up with a couple of projects so far, one all finished but I'm afraid I have no photos as yet, so that will have to wait.

Another interesting thrifted find was a little bag of haberdashery goodies. My favourites from this were some old, small, square self cover buttons and these 3 giant safety pins.

These are each just over 15cm long and I think I'm going to enjoy coming up with novel ways to use them. Any thoughts out there? What would you do with giant safety pins?!

 5) I'm trying, and not really succeeding at the moment, to adjust to wearing reading glasses. It's not something that is filling me with any kind of enthusiasm. I have nothing against glasses generally (although personally, on me, I don't much like them!), but I think the depressing element is very much that they are a clear sign of aging. My body is starting to deteriorate! Obviously this is inevitable and natural and has been happening for quite some time in lots of little ways, but suddenly needing to wear glasses does make it all very real.

You don't get to see a photo of them on me - very few people have actually seen this sight. And, needless to say, the children are among the privileged few and all laughed like crazy hyenas!

But as much as the aging element is depressing if I allow myself to dwell on it, what's causing me even more grief is the practicalities of using them. I only need them for really close up reading, anything other than that and they make my vision blurry. So it feels a real pain to use them unless it's a concentrated period of reading and nothing but reading. And even then I'm struggling to get used to having the frames in my peripheral vision - they irritate me! I'm sure it's just a matter of perservering and eventually getting used to them, but any words of advice or comfort or sympathy will be much appreciated!


Monday, 30 March 2015

This Moment

Sam was away on a school history trip last week, to Belgium and France to visit World War 1 sites, and he took my camera with him. This, in part, explains my absence from these parts, and I did feel surprisingly lost without a camera. Anyway, he got back late yesterday, slightly tired, starving hungry, with extremely muddy boots and clothes, 7 very muddy pieces of shrapnel he'd found in the Somme area, a (happily intact) camera full of photos and a head full of poignant images, information and memories that I think will stick with him for life.

And although it's a few days late for Soulemama's weekly moment, it feels appropriate to post some of Sam's photos on here, as his moments. These are just a few of his photos, ones which seemed to have stuck most in his mind...

This is an Allied cemetery.

This is the grave of a 15 year old, just a year older than Sam.
Sam was very struck with how different in appearance and feel the German cemeteries were from the Allied cemeteries. The one above is German.

This small area within that cemetery has, apparently, 22000 bodies buried in it.

Their names are written on both sides of these stones, which, as you can see in the photo above, surround the area.

These are trenches, they would have had sandbags piled up either side and then the corrugated iron coverings, but even so they seem surprisingly small and shallow.

This is a reconstructed trench - incredibly narrow too.

This is a memorial on the site where the famous Christmas football was played.

In some areas the opposing trenches were a couple of miles apart, but in others, as here, they were unbelievably close.
This is a huge memorial to French soldiers who were lost in the war but whose bodies were never identified.

Each of those sections of the wall in the photo above have names written on just like these here.

Here is a photo of just a section of a French cemetery.

They visited underground bunkers and tunnels, some of these have drawings made by the soldiers - the one above is of a Mammoth.

This is a huge crater at the Somme, you can just see poppies at the centre, but, to give you an idea of scale, these are large poppy wreaths rather than single flowers.

Friday, 20 March 2015

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, 18 March 2015

Ho ho ho and on we sew - Clara and Nutcracker Dolls

Today I'm very happy to be hosting the 'Ho, ho ho and on we Sew' Link Party. 

Fiona at Celtic Thistle Stitches and Paula at Mud, Pies and Pins started this last year to try and make sure they were organised for Christmas, and it worked so well for them that they've continued it this year! You see, it's never too early to start your Christmas making - certainly not for me if I'm to stand any chance of being ready and relaxed come December!

And if you get making and link up, as well as being all prepared for Christmas in good time, you get to enter into a lovely giveaway. Thanks to the wonderful Ho, ho, ho sponsors...

Crafty Trimmings

Logo Sew Hot

Plush Addict Logo Celtic Thistle Stitches
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Quilting Fabric at the Fat Quarter Shop

...there's a giveaway each month. And March's prize is 1m of this gorgeous Copenhagen Christmas fabric, from Patchwork Elephant.

Lots of lovely fabric and bits and bobs over there to browse through - including some beautiful Michael Miller fabric
You've got till the end of the month to add your makes (see the Link Up at the bottom), so there's still time to get going.

Right, back to my make. Last year the girls were both involved in an amazing ballet performance, and Maria's little section was an excerpt from 'The Nutcracker'. There was something about it that caught her imagination - I don't know whether it was the music or the costumes, the dancing itself or the little bits of the story she picked up on, but she became very interested in The Nutcracker. Probably a combination of all these things, and I think, in part at least, just the unusual name itself added to the interest. Anyway, we read different versions of the story lots, we listened to the music lots and Maria danced lots. Then, at Christmas I got Maria a musical Nutcracker as a present, and she loved that too...

When you wind him, he beats his drum and plays Nutcracker music.

I thought it would be lovely to give Maria a different 'Nutcracker' each year for Christmas, to build into her own special Nutcracker collection which will always remind us all of her very first ballet performance. And it occurred to me that this was also a perfect present to be lovingly homemade.

I decided I'd make a large 'Clara' doll with her own, small Nutcracker, so although it would have a Christmassy Nutcracker theme, it would also hopefully be something to play with in different ways all year round. I started off with a simple drawing of a Nutcracker...

And cut out 2 figures in this shape, just from some plain white fabric scraps. Then broke the picture down into its component parts...

And cut out these from lovely, recycled wool.

I sewed these on to my basic outline, fabric shape, adding thread detail...

Once they were both done I just sewed them together, section by section. The doll is quite small, and the wool is great for leaving edges raw, so I just sewed the 2 pieces wrong sides together, leaving the stitching on show - rather than having to turn fiddly, little sections inside out. Again because it's small, I stuffed a little bit at a time, finishing by sewing the top of the hat, rather than sewing the whole thing in one go and then having to stuff it all from one small gap.

Here the boots are being stuffed.
I added colour to the stitched, facial features with some colouring sharpies, and some gold details with ricrac and a button buckle, and there he was done.

Then on to Clara. Again a sketched out shape.

2 pieces for each of these body parts.

And some machine stitched detail...

Also some ballet shoes to sew onto the foot ends of both leg pieces.

For the back of the foot, I also tucked a thin ribbon in underneath before I sewed it on.

Just be sure to tuck your ribbons into the middle when you sew the leg pieces together, so you don't catch them with your stitching, and when you turn your legs out the ribbons are then on the outside as you want them.

The Clara doll is quite a bit bigger and made from cotton that will fray around the edges, so this one I did construct by sewing right sides together and then turning out. So the 2 leg pieces with their ballet shoes added, when sewn together, turned back out like this...

For all my Clara construction sewing, I went round at least twice to try and give it some strength and longevity on all the seams.

Here with arms as well, gently stuffed...

Some colour on this face - again with sharpies and some fabric crayons here too, ironed to make them colour fast...

Then I attached the arms to the back piece of the body, and pinned them towards the right side of the fabric, away from the edges I was about to sew...

Then sewed the front body piece on, over the top, careful not to catch those arms in the sewing.

The side you can see here is the inside out, wrong side, it's just the colours have come through very clearly, and my stitching is amazingly neat on the back here!
So here she is turned out, with her arms in place now.
The bottom edge is neatly ironed under here, ready for the final line of stitching coming up...

Stuff the head and body carefully, small pieces of stuffing are much the best I find, then pin the legs in place in your bottom, neatly ironed in, opening. Just needs sewing along this line now, and your basic doll is complete (though hairless!).

I converted an old, Summer top into Clara's nightie. It started out like this...

But with a few snips, and new seams...

It fitted her nicely.

I'm not sure it looks quite nightie-ish enough, so she may get another at some point.

And to finish, I just hand sewed some wool, along a side parting, for her hair.

Here she is with her Nutcracker. I think I'll probably put either some velcro or maybe a button on her hands to help her to hold him, here I cheated for the photo and her hands are just pinned together.

So there you go, I'm sure Maria will love them and it will be great to be able to pull them out of secret hiding place, storage come Christmas, all ready made - although very tempting to just give them to her now!

Even if a ballet dancing Clara with a Nutcracker isn't your thing, I do think a doll of any kind makes such a special, home made present. It feels so much more individual and personal when it's a one off, made especially for a particular child. And this style of doll really is very easy, and incredibly flexible to create different versions. If you need a more formal pattern and tutorial to follow then there's one over at Make it, Love it which looks pretty good, and easy to follow. Perfectly possible to get one made in time to link up before the month end even, and be in with a chance to win that lovely, Christmassy fabric! Or perhaps you have something different to link up below, I'm looking forward to seeing how you're getting organised for Christmas.


PS Look out for all the 'Ho, ho ho' Link Ups each month on the 18th, here's a little timetable of all the wonderful bloggers hosting...

JanuaryCeltic Thistle StitchesFionahttp://celticthistlestitches.blogspot.com
FebruaryThreading My WayPamhttp://www.threadingmyway.com/
MarchWonky PatchworkSallyhttp://wonkypatchwork.blogspot.co.uk/
AprilSLIK stitchesBentahttp://slikstitches.com/
MayPractically PippyKarenhttp://practicallypippy.blogspot.co.uk/
JuneCharly & Ben's Crafty CornerRuthhttp://benandcharlyscorner.blogspot.co.uk/
JulyWeekend DoingsMarthawww.weekenddoings.blogspot.com

Patch the GiraffeChelseahttp://patchthegiraffe.blogspot.com/
AugustSunshine Through the RainDeborahhttp://sunshinethroughtherain-deborah.blogspot.co.uk/
SeptemberPractically PippyKarenhttp://practicallypippy.blogspot.co.uk/

Party of Eight: Our StoryGinahttp://partyofeightourstory.blogspot.co.uk/
OctoberElla and Nesta's Little RoomNestahttp://ellaandnesta.blogspot.co.uk/

Sandra Sews :)Sandrahttp://suddenlysandra.blogspot.co.uk/
NovemberRose & DahliaJoannehttp://rosedahlia.blogspot.co.uk/
DecemberMud, Pies and PinsPaulahttp://www.mudpiesandpins.com/