Saturday, 30 January 2016

Ho, ho, ho sewing - mini stocking cutlery holders.

Now if I'm being honest I probably wouldn't have got myself into gear this month to start thinking about Christmas sewing - even with a gentle nudge from Ho, ho, ho over at Celtic Thistle Stitches again this year. After all, it is only January, and I was kind of feeling a break from anything Christmassy would be good. But then when I read Fiona's 'Ho, ho, ho' post, I decided that:

  1. Getting organised for Christmas early is still definitely a good plan for me.
  2. I really like the look of the giveaway prize for this month - and you've gotta be in it to win it!
So I started thinking about what my Christmas sewing priorities for this year would be. 

One thing I really liked from our Christmas just gone was that I made a bit more effort than usual with the Christmas dinner table. Usually just the fact that the table is completely cleared before setting/eating makes it extra special in itself! But this year I put out a couple of pretty candle lanterns and a centre flower/evergreen arrangement - nothing amazingly time consuming or fancy but it did make it feel that extra bit more special and Christmassy. And so I thought I'd like to continue that this year and maybe take it up a smallish notch or two.

And I've started this month by making something very quick and easy for the Christmas table. Some mini stocking cutlery holders.

I just cut up an old felted wool jumper in a festive red, machine sewed the pieces together and added a little contrasting top stitching along the open top edge. Incredibly simple.

As well as adding a festive touch to the table, I think these will have one other benefit. I am pretty sure, especially judging from Maria's reaction to these already, that she is going to be very keen to set the table for me next Christmas. Which will be one less thing for me to have to do!

'Ho, ho, ho' will be running each month, on the 18th, with the link ups open till the month end. Here's where the monthly link ups will be throughout the year.

So there'll be plenty of opportunities to join in and get yourselves organised for Christmas.


Friday, 29 January 2016

Winter Comforts ATC

It's Very Berry Handmade's Artist Trading Card Swap time again. The theme for this swap was 'Winter Comforts'. Despite the fact that Winter is my least favourite time of year, after giving it some thought I discovered that actually there are lots of things that could fit into this theme for me. Perhaps because it's my least favourite time, I need lots of comforts! Or perhaps it's just that time of year when everyone has lots of comforts, and it was an excellent choice of theme all round. Anyway, I had plenty of ideas initially - roaring fires, snuggling under a quilt, hot chocolates, hearty stews and hot puddings, hand sewing, reading a good book, I even thought about doing a miniature picture of my new slippers - they are very comforting at the moment! But in the end I decided upon porridge.

As soon as cooler weather creeps in, the muesli is out the window, I get the porridge urge, and nothing else will do for breakfast. Depicting a bowl of delicious, hot porridge in fabric in a 2.5 by 3.5 inch space did seem a little daunting, but of course the answer was a bear - because everyone knows that bears always have porridge for breakfast!

And I decided that snuggling under a quilt really had to be represented on the back. Some teeny, left over Liberty scraps were perfect for this.

My card winged its way over to Fran, from the lovely PatchyRose, who happily has fond memories of porridge, she also has a Liberty half square triangles quilt on the go which is looking really beautiful, definitely worth a look. And I received this sweet card from my swap partner, Jenny who blogs at The Gingerbread House.

An ATC may be small but it's still a finish in my book, so I'm linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts again!

And what would your 'Winter Comfort' have been?


Saturday, 23 January 2016

Flower Applique Mini Quilt

I've not felt a strong pull to set myself any blog related/crafty New Year plans this January, but over the past couple of weeks linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts' 'Finish It Up Friday', the attraction of 'finishing' something every week has grown, even if it's only a small finish. I'm still not feeling the need to make any kind of full commitment to 52 finishes for the year, but maybe I'll have it in mind each week and try. 52 finishes does sound good!

And I've been successful this week at least. I started these flowers several years ago, pre-blog. They've been sitting around ever since, just sewn on to a piece of fabric (very sloppily sewn in fact, happy to say my standards have risen since starting this!). I think they've probably been waiting for decisions to be made. Possibly one of the decisions might have been cushion cover versus some sort of picture/wall hanging, but it's so long ago that I really can't remember! I still did a bit of dithering this week on which way to go, but in the end the flowers were looking so lovely and colourful and happy, that I decided I'd really like to be able to lie in bed and see them on my wall every day. 

Once that decision was made I was very tempted to just quilt down the flower and leaf outlines. Apart from general laziness when it comes to quilting, I always worry that I'll spoil something with my less than wonderful quilting if I try and do too much. And although this is still far from wonderful quilting, I don't feel like I ruined it, I still like my mini quilt!

The flowers were all cut from scraps of vintage fabric, all with pretty large prints. So it was a very straightforward make really, just the fun of arranging them pleasingly.

I've got 2 slightly bendy branch off-cuts slotted in to the back at the moment, top and bottom, for hanging purposes, I didn't realise how much they're distorting the hang of it until seeing the wavy shadow in this picture! 

And now they are looking very bright and happy on my wall. Finishing is good! 

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts again and wishing everyone a great weekend.


Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Take 5

1) I bought Venetia some Clover Wonder Clips for Christmas (pretty rainbow ones!), pinning is something she finds quite tricky so they seemed like they might be a good idea for her. And, since I'd never used them before, just to check if they were any good (!), I gave them a little trial run before Christmas! And I did quite like them. I do try and avoid using pins at all wherever possible, but the clips were very handy with a few things -  particularly sewing the soles on to slippers and hemming some napkins, with lovely, mitred corners.

I'm ashamed to say these are the napkins I started to give as a present last year - I'd got all the snowflakes embroidered in reasonably good time and then just put off the more boring job of hemming them for that little bit too long. But they finally got finished and gifted this year with the help of the clips. I imagine the clips would also be very handy for some paper piecing projects and for binding quilts. And definitely if you have a young sewer who finds pins fiddly then clips could be the answer.

2) After finishing the scarf from my little patchwork squares before Christmas, I was quite keen to start a new little, patchwork squares project.

I'm thinking cushion for these, and I might be just over half way with them...

Not sure they're working exactly as I want yet, I may need to add a bit more variation on the squares to come I think.

3) It's been quite a good month for beach walks (less muddy than other walks!), and pretty good sea glass finds on those walks.

And I think this one is my favourite find of our walks. Nothing big or dramatic, but incredibly smooth and completely pebble like in shape.

It just feels perfect to hold in your hand.

4) I still haven't got into any groove with having a regular photo spot here. You'd think the start of a new year would be a good time for putting plans into place with something like that, but no! However, here are a few 'boy' photos, to redress the usual girl imbalance.


5) On one of our beach walks, whilst looking out for sea glass, I was struck by the variety of coloured stones on the beach, and had the urge to turn a handful into some land art. Looking at the colours I decided I wanted to make something with graduated tones. I was just wandering around collecting those which most appealed to me, with no particular plan in mind, when I saw a couple of stones which reminded me of clock hands. And so my little collection became a quick clock.

As I'd been walking I had been thinking about my Mum, and thinking about what we were going through this time last year. It's just coming up to a year since she died, at the end of this week. And in the few seconds between finishing my clock and an extra strong wave coming in to wash it away, I thought about how it could symbolise a year after losing someone close. How the year starts off at its darkest, how you just have to keep on going through that darkness, how gradually some lightness creeps in again, and time begins to heal - or at least with time passing you get used to the loss.

But then again, it was just a pebble clock in the sand. Created on a whim after seeing some appropriately shaped stones. I have often wondered whether we sometimes read too much into paintings or poetry or other works, sometimes even song lyrics. Did the creator intend all the imagery or symbolism which we later perceive? Or perhaps something in their sub conscious was prompting their creative choices? Or was it complete chance, no deep messages or hidden nuances at all? And maybe our subsequent interpretations would baffle and amuse them.

Possibly my subconscious somehow was prompting me to make a clock, or at least something connected to my thoughts of my Mum. Or perhaps whatever I made I would have then found a way to connect it - a snail? Not sure how that would have played out. Whichever way it was, it kind of became a small moment of remembrance, and the clock will keep ticking round again.


Friday, 15 January 2016

Hexie Cushion and Patchwork Scarf

So here at last is the patchwork scarf for Maria, made in the same way as the Liberty one. I made this one quite a bit longer than the Liberty one (the scraps for this one not being rationed in any way!), which I prefer, particularly if the scarf is tied.

These scraps were all left over from making her quilt, which felt very appropriate.

And then another make at long last finished from those leftovers...

I finally finished the hexie cushion I started way back at the beginning of August - hurray! The main reason it took me so long was just trying to decide how to 'finish' the edges. I eventually decided to keep the hexie shape up the sides by simply sewing/quilting it down on to another piece of fabric/batting.

Just some simple quilting down the lines of the hexies.

And it does go very well with the quilt.

Especially as I also had plenty of the soft, flannel, vintage sheet, which I'd used for the quilt backing, to back the cushion.

But I think it needs a cushion friend now! Don't you find so often, in some way or another, one makes leads to another? Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts again this week. Happy weekend to you all,


Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Repurposed Wool Slippers

These were possibly my most successful makes over Christmas, they are getting worn a lot! Especially now we're finally having some coldish weather. And best of all, that turquoise pair in the middle are mine, all mine!

They're made using the Big Little Tie Back Boots pattern from Etsy. As with all the Big Little patterns I've tried out so far, they are very straightforward to make, and much faster than you'd expect.

They're made with repurposed wool. The pink and turquoise were both blankets, the turquoise was originally a cream blanket which I dyed, and the mauve was a jumper. I really like the fact that I could use the ribbed bottom of the jumper for the top of the slippers:

The pattern doesn't give animal options, but it seemed an obvious thing to add to me and didn't take a lot of effort.

And these bunnies have a little felted ball on the back for a tail too.

The pattern suggests using a piece of leather for the soles, but that's not something I had on hand. I did have an ancient, fake sheepskin coat which I cut up for the soles and that worked perfectly.

I think possibly even something like a heavy denim might work for the soles.

As with other Big Little patterns I've tried, I did find the sizes came out much bigger than I wanted. The pink mice were originally planned for Maria, but are actually very roomy for Venetia. Which is what prompted me to make some for me, the pattern only goes up to 'teens', but after making the pink ones it was very clear the biggest sizing would fit my feet.

The pattern suggests elastic or some kind of tie threaded through those loops and tied round the back, to make sure they don't slip off, but we've not felt the need for that so far.

They are lovely and warm. The lining fabric came from a fluffy, fleecy dressing gown I found in a charity shop, very soft, and combined with the wool outers, perfect for keeping feet warm in Winter.

So if you're sitting reading this with chilly toes, I'd definitely recommend giving these a go!


Friday, 8 January 2016

Wool Squares Patchwork Scarf

I started these little squares way back at the beginning of last year. I really enjoyed making them and I loved the look of them put together, but I think I was slightly scared of actually getting round to sewing them together because I didn't quite know how best to go about it. The plan was always to make a scarf with them and I had a very clear image in my head of how I wanted it to look, I just didn't have the confidence in myself to translate my vision into actual finished article. So the squares sat there for most of the year. But as well as scarf, the plan had always been Christmas present, so with Christmas fast approaching I gave myself a good talking to and decided to just go for it with them.

All repurposed wool - 1.25 inch squares with little wool pennies hand sewn in place, some with vintage mother of pearl buttons.

And once I did dive in, a very simple, straightforward method of putting it all together worked just as I wanted it to work.

I had found a piece of beautiful, teal corduroy ages ago which I wanted to use. I simply cut 2 long strips, slightly larger than the size I wanted my scarf to be. And then arranged the squares along it, just face up, right next to one another with no spacing. I used glue basting spray to hold them in place and did half the scarf at a time. Once the first half was positioned as I wanted I sewed them all down, going around the perimeter first, and then up and down each row length ways, before crossing back and forth across the short side. Then I repeated this with the other half of the scarf.

Once it was all done I placed my colourful, squared strip right sides together with my second plain teal strip, pinned, and sewed around 3 edges, leaving just 1 short edge open.

You can see the 'grid' of stitching which sewed down all my squares.

I turned the scarf right sides out through this open end, making sure to poke out all the corners fully, and then ironed in the raw edges (just as I did with the Liberty patchwork scarf) before top stitching all the way around the scarf to finish it and secure that open end at the same time. It ended up being very quick and easy to put together.

This one is a really warm scarf, it definitely keeps out the draughts! But it's not a scarf which can be knotted, it's just too wide and thick. 

I think one of my biggest 'unknowns' before sewing this had been wondering whether to just sew the squares down, with their edges raw, on to the backing fabric, or whether to actually properly patchwork them together first. When it was done, I was very happy with the face down, raw edge approach. And finishing it made me immediately want to start hand sewing more small squares again!

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts today, and wishing you all a wonderful weekend.


Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Liberty Patchwork Scarf

Well, the BT engineer did not turn up, Harry has spent most of the evening lambasting them down a crackly phone and getting nowhere (it was his turn tonight, will be mine again tomorrow!), but our internet is still hanging on in there today, goes slow and cuts out every now and then exactly when you don't want it to but just about good enough for another post, so lets make hay...

I have been wanting to make a Liberty patchwork scarf for a little while, I think I probably saw one on Pinterest and loved it, and this Christmas seemed the perfect opportunity. Especially when Very Berry had a special offer on her Liberty scrap packs in the Autumn, worth watching out for! Liberty fabric is definitely 'special', it might not be to your taste but the fabric is incredibly 'fine', and sewing with it felt very decadent to me! My patchwork design was completely dictated by the size/shape of the scraps to make the best use of all the precious scraps, so it was a simple enough project.

A strip of patchwork the length/width I wanted, I then layered this with a scrap piece of flannel and quilted the 2 together - nothing major because I wanted it to stay very soft and flexible. Another 'good' piece of lovely, soft flannel the same size, sewn right sides together with my quilted/patchworked strip, leaving one short end unsewn. I then turned it right sides out from this unsewn end, ironed the raw edges under on this end and top stitched neatly around the whole thing - so securing the open end at the same time.

It was for a niece very much Maria's age, so Maria kindly modeled this one for me.

As well as hopefully looking pretty, it was beautifully soft and warm.

I could very happily make the same thing again as another gift in the future. And it did prompt me to make the same kind of thing for Maria, in different fabrics, but I'm afraid I've had enough of trying to get photos loaded for one day so that one will have to wait! But have you ever sewn with Liberty fabric? If so, what did you make?


Monday, 4 January 2016

Perhaps the perfect gift to make - Infinity Scarves!

A late Happy Christmas and a late Happy New Year! I hope both were good to you, and have left you with lots of happy memories. It's been so long since I've written anything here that it's feeling quite strange. This has not been due to any calamities which have befallen us, or even general hectic life happenings. It's just been down to a complete lack of internet connection, very boring I'm afraid. Our internet is never good but at the beginning of November it got considerably worse, as did our phone line, and despite (or perhaps because of!) numerous engineer attempts to repair our line, it continued to deteriorate and December was almost completely an internet write off. Today is the first day for weeks I've been able to do anything at all on here, although loading my e-mails or even trying to comment on anyone else's blogs sadly both seem to be too much for the limited connection we do have. Another engineer is due tomorrow, and we've been told he will definitely be able to fix our problem (ha!), so fingers crossed I may get back to normal soon.

In the meantime a speedy post before it's completely gone again! This Christmas was definitely the Christmas of scarf making. And I think maybe my new favourite gift to make could be an infinity scarf. Pam over at Threading My Way introduced me to the idea of sewing these a while back with this post which has lots of great Infinity Scarf sewing links. So, it's obviously too late for this Christmas (sorry!), but if you're looking for future gift ideas to make then I'd definitely recommend giving them a go. Here's my Christmas collection!

These were all made from old, silk saris, not the easiest things to sew with but perfect for these, especially as the sewing required is fairly minimal and straightforward.

And Venetia put up with modelling a few for me to show them in action too...

Did you have a particular gift you made this year that worked really well which you can now share for me to squirrel away as ideas for next year's Christmas making?