Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 - My Favourite Things

My Favourite Makes of 2010

2010 has been good to me, with lots more ups than downs!

In the real world, we, like most other people, have battled with reduced income and general stress brought on by recession woes, but we are extremely lucky to both have good jobs. We've continued to find our way (slowly at times!) through the maze of parenthood, but that has brought joys far in excess of its undoubted challenges. We have had two new additions to our extended family, my gorgeous niece and nephew. We have seen lots of our family and friends, although we'd always like to see more of them. Overall, its pretty positive, looking back :-)

On a personal note, 2010 has been really great for me. I started this blog back in August and set up a Facebook page for it soon afterwards and I have been overwhelmed at the response I've gotten. Its really lovely to read people's comments and to get emails from them about things I've made. I've really enjoyed sharing my crafting and participating in the online blogging and crafting communities - there are so many extraordinarily talented people out there, I am in awe of some of them!

I am slowly but surely discovering a new creative confidence in myself and defining my own style in terms of design and colour. I think the thing I am most thrilled about is that so much of what I have made this year was from my own head - the blankets, the handbags, the taggie comforters. I am also pretty amused that I cannot, just cannot seem to follow a pattern exactly any more. I now tweak and adjust and generally make a pattern suit what I want it to do, which is something I would not have had the confidence to do 18 months ago. Not that I think I can improve on all these patterns, mind, its more that now the patterns are a starting point rather than an end point for me.

So to round out the year nicely, I want to say a massive THANK YOU to everyone who reads this blog, to my wonderful husband & kids who never complain when I pull out the sewing machine, to all my friends who have supported me and given me advice and created opportunities for me, and most especially to my fab friend Helen who has been there giving me advice and great ideas since before the start of it all, and who we can't wait to see in January - lets just hope its not a hat-trick of visits cancelled due to snow! Thanks hon xx

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Festive cheer & my Christmas gifts revealed!

I just love the few days between Christmas and New Year. The Christmas mania is over and there's lots of down time, with opportunities to meet friends, laze around the house in PJs and spend some fun time with the kids. We just got back from my mum's today after a lovely few days with my parents, my sister and her husband and my brothers and sister in law. Also, maybe most importantly, my niece and nephew who are 8 and 9 months old. It was really great seeing my kids with their baby cousins - they got such a kick from making them laugh and playing with them. We still have lots of people to see in the coming days so I'm glad I have another whole week before I am back to work, not least because of the piles of laundry and the general tidy up that is needed in the house at this stage. At least our water came back this afternoon!


Yesterday morning, I met one of my oldest friends and her two girls for our annual Christmas meet up. This year, I made the girls' Christmas presents - bunting for both their rooms, and a cute drawstring bag for Fiona who is my goddaughter.


I'm hoping she will get lots of use out of it for her PE classes, or swimming lessons or similar. The "right side" of the bag is made from 3 main fabrics, and an edging strip at the top for the drawstring which is made from a soft pink cord.


I used a pink ribbon with a heart pattern to make the loops for the cord at the bottom.

I made the bunting for Niamh similar to Fiona's but with some differences. I used the pinking shears to give them a decorative edge and used a slightly different, but complimentary, fabric selection.

Finally, I brought some crochet with me to do in the evenings when watching some films in my mum's and she loved the yarn, so I gave her the finished scarf for her birthday next week.  I bought the yarn last year in Kenmare and can no longer find the ball band, but it is a ribbon texture and is in a beautiful colourway. After trying a couple of different patterns which didn't do it justice, I decided to do a simple, fine, treble crochet scarf to show it off in its beauty.

I did a simple, loose picot edging to finish it off. I love the sea colours in this scarf - teals, moss greens, pinks, pale blues. It will look lovely on my Mum.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Charlotte Bag - new design!

Catching up a little today after the last few hectic days! I hope you all had a joyful and peaceful Christmas and got to spend time with the people you love. We had a very busy few days, but had a really fun time and this year, with the kids both really understanding about Santa for the first time, Christmas morning was very magical. We had a family day at home yesterday, but made up for it today with lots of callers and tomorrow we're setting of to my mum's in Meath for a few days to catch up with my family. I'm really looking forward to seeing them all, but especially my niece and nephew on their first Christmas.

I finished this bag earlier in the week as an order for a friend and it turned out very funky and practical. I have lots of bag ideas swirling around in my head so decided that I should give each different one a name - for myself more than anything else. So I named this one the Charlotte Bag!

It'smade using two beautiful Moda fabrics - the main fabric is from the Freebird range by Momo and is aptly called Garden and the red contrast is one of the Bliss range by Bonnie and Camille and is called Fresh. The fabric is given structure with some iron on interfacing on both outside and lining fabrics and the shape is a gentle A line with an inverted pleat in the middle. I use a slightly curved line on at the top, tapering around upwards for the long strap and there is a small pocket for a mobile phone inside.

The bag is nice and deep, but is very slimline at the top. With additional stitching at the straps to strengthen them, this is a practical and trendy bag and I'm making another for myself right now!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Baby Taggie Comfort Blanket

Tonight I finished a lovely custom order for an extra-large taggie/comforter for a baby girl and am very happy with how it turned out. After chatting with her Mam I decided to go for a heart shape, and to embelish it with a combination of cotton and fleece applique. I used some lovely fabric to applique flower, star and mini heart shapes, in conjunction with some additional fleece colours and all are zig-zagged on with a vibrant cerise pink thread to make them more eye-catching. It measures 60cm long x 60cm wide at the widest point, so is quite a bit bigger than my standard size, but makes a perfect comfort blanket size and I think I will do more in a similar size in future. The comforter is backed with a beautiful, soft lavender Minky fabric. This Minky is textured with dots and silky soft so I'm hoping that baby Lily will love the feel of it, and it will become a treasured "blankie" for her!

I started out with some flower appliques which are contrasted with complimentary fleece, one in a purple dot fabric and the other in a cerise pink fleece.

After doing a lot of blog reading lately, I decided to use a type of "fussy cutting" technique for some of my heart appliques, picking out particular parts of the fabrics to highlight, and I it worked very nicely: the owl and the cat add lovely character to this comforter and work very nicely in the heart applique. They also blend well with the two other hearts.

I finished off with some of my favourite shapes - stars - using contrasting cotton weights to add interest and texture. The stripe/flower star applique is a heavyweight cotton with a completely different feel to the quilting weight cotton I have used elsewhere.

Finally, it was all sewn up using a combination of different textured and coloured ribbons all the way around, and baby Lily's name is embroidered on the back in pink. I hope that she loves it!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Felt Phone Cozy

I've been doing a lot of crafty blog reading lately and over the last week or so decided to treat myself to a few pattern downloads! I picked out some beautiful quilt patterns to work on in the New Year (my main resolution!) - Alice from Red Pepper Quilts and Skittles and Charm Bracelets from Kate Conklin Designs. I have a lovely charm pack I bought at the Knitting and Stitching show in October that I'm thinking of using for the Charm Bracelets. Then, as I was on a role, I went and downloaded this pattern for phone cosies from I've been reading Larissa's blog for a long time and love her crafty style. I saw these cosies when she first posted them and thought they were gorgeous. So tonight I was in need of something completely different and had one sewn up in no time. They are a lovely, easy make and I just love working with felt, it's such a great, tactile fabric.

The pattern is sized both for an iPhone and a smaller version for a smaller phone. It fits my iPhone perfectly and I can attach to my bag using the ribbon loop. I made this with a lovely purple wool mix felt and appliquéd on the poppies in blues and pinks and think the colours work well together. The felt is top stitched with wonky lines and I love the effect.

 I also put on a pocket at the back for my headphones - no more rummaging around in the bottom of my bag.

I put a small snap fastener on the tab closure and I added a little ribbon trim on the inside of the cozy for some extra interest!

I will definitely be making some of the other versions of this phone cozy, using up my large felt stash and it will make a perfect addition to some of my Christmas gifts this year.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Baby Snuggle Blankets

This week has been incredibly, madly busy trying to get all my Christmas orders out. At this stage I've finished all of the bunting orders (although I still have some for gifts from myself to finish) and I'm nearly done with the snuggle blankets which have been really popular. I thought I'd post some pictures of 3 of the ones completed so far as they turned out so pretty!

This cheerful flowery print is a Michael Miller fabric called Daisy Dance that I found buried at the bottom of a shelf in my tiny local craft shop! I fell in love with it immediately, it's so pretty and fun! The green minky backing and wine binding balance the pinks perfectly.

2 of these blankets were orders for "non-pink" girl's blankets and it was lovely to put together options that were pretty without overloading on the pink.

This one is a Robert Kaufman fabric by Amy Schimler called On A Whim and the little owls are very quirky and whimsical. This is one of my favourite fabrics and I use blocks of it a lot in my patchwork blankets, but I think it works well as a main fabric too.

The patchwork blanket in the top
picture is for my friend's brand new niece and I hope that it keeps her cosy in this freezing weather. I used a range of fabrics in bright, bold colours and I love the red minky backing, its so vibrant and cheerful, I'll definitely be using again.

I'll post pictures of some more finished blankets at the weekend when I'm done :-) In the meantime I'll be found at my kitchen table, sewing, at all sorts of weird hours to get over the pre-Christmas rush.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday night entertainment

If you had asked me, eight, ten years ago what my ideal Friday night was, I can guarantee you it would not have involved any of the following:
1. Sitting in front of the fire in my own house with a glass of Rioja (after finishing the next 5 points!)
2. Sitting in front of a sewing machine sewing festive bunting
3. Diligently pre-washing newly arrived fabrics to eliminate colour runs and shrinkage
4. Playing with afore-mentioned fabrics to see what colour combos work best
5. Dreaming up new ideas for Christmas decorations I could make with the Christmas fabric scraps left from the bunting
6. Being actually quite pleased my Christmas party was cancelled due to bad weather so that I could catch up on orders.

Part of me wonders how I arrived at this point from my (infinitely wilder) 20s. Back then I would have greeted any suggestion of the above with hoots of derision. After all, I didn't even do Home Ec in first year in secondary school and had never come closer to a sewing machine than passing my sister's machine occasionally in her room. But I've posted before about how crafting brings a little magic into my life and this hobby (and now growing little business) is fundamental to me now. And the busy social life doesn't seem like such a big loss these days. Maybe it's the two pre-school kids, or the lovely husband or the bite of the recession. Whatever it is, I'm more content now than ever, and having a lovely Friday night.