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 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.

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.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tales of a Crafting Weekend

So, this is a long post. With lots of pictures. You have been warned!

Its about time to go to bed and get ready for work in the morning but it would be a shame to do it without reflecting on a great crafting weekend. I decided that it was important to make some time to make things for my own family and home, as I've been so busy with orders lately that I haven't been able to do anything for myself. So my project for the weekend was to get as many things finished as I could and I didn't do badly at all!

First off, I think its important to say: I am totally in love with my new sewing machine:

Is it really possible to be in love with a machine? I'm not sure of the answer to that one, but if it is then that is me covered. My new Pfaff Expression 2.0 machine arrived during the week (a day early, thanks to the brilliant John in the Singer Sewing Centre in Waterford) and I just couldn't wait to get started with it. Funnily enough, my old machine had gone totally kaput the night before, so it was great timing. It really is a thing of beauty. I adore the fact that I can set the stitch length and width with the computer programme rather than fiddling around with dials, it makes it all so easy. It's really REALLY precise and exact when its sewing and I have been getting through work much faster than previously because I don't have to compensate for temperamental stitches and weird fabric feed issues. It has (the main reason I bought it) an integrated walking foot which means the fabric feed is completely even all the time and I just LOVE this. The stitch quality is excellent. It also has lots of dinky little features that just make things easier: the thread cutter is on the side; there is a little ruler/tape measure indented into the accessory board in a really useful place; there are width markings on both sides of the stitch plate; it has automatic needle down function which is brilliant for all my applique work, and it has automatic tie off too. Not to mention it has a gazillion beautiful decorative stitches. So there you go: I'm officially in love. Yes, those of you who used to know me as a wild young thing will wonder what has happend to me!!

I decided to put it through its paces on Friday night and make a skirt for myself. I've had my eye on the simple A line skirt in this book for a while:  

And I had some heavy cotton fabric that I got in Vibes and Scribes a month or two back that I wanted to use. I just love this book - I have it on loan from the library for months now, I just keep renewing it. I love the "can do" attitude and the lack of fuss - no fiddly patterns, just draw a shape and get on with it. This approach kind of suits me, I'm all about simplicity and I don't like a lot of the dress making patterns that are available to buy because there's just too much work in them! It also has a superb tutorial on putting in a zip - really really simple, and works perfectly! So, I sat down and in a couple of hours I had a new skirt! Thanks in no small part to how fast I could zig zag and sew the seams. I hand finished the button embellishment this afternoon in front of the fire and hey presto, a new wardrobe item for me! I'm really pleased with how it turned out, as I don't do a huge amount of dressmaking except for some simple toddler/pre-school dresses.

I love the button detail - I got this button in A.Rubanesque in Powerscourt centre in Dublin on a recent trip and have been saving it for something lovely. Funnily enough, it was the owner of this shop who gave the workshop on customising your wardrobe at the Knitting and Stitching show and I guess her words were ringing in my ears when I finished putting the skirt together. I decided to add a soft teal coloured trim to it at the bottom for extra interest and then remembered this button and added that on too. I'm not sure how it would wash, so the embellishment is actually sewn onto a small circle of felt and pinned onto the skirt so I can remove it when washing. It completely changes the look of the skirt from what it was.

Also, in front of the fire this afternoon, I finally put the brooch pin in the corsage I made after the Knitting and Stitching show a few weeks ago. This was covered in the above-mentioned workshop and I love how it turned out. I'm going to pin it to my boring black work jackets to brighten them up!

My next project: child's scarf. My little lady, E, has been asking for a scarf these last few mornings, now that the weather has gotten colder. I made the (very stupid) mistake of throwing out last year's one because it had gotten too old and worn, knowing that I had bought some yarn a few weeks ago to make a new one for her. I'm nearly halfway there already thanks to treble crochet stitches and chunky yarn. Its a marbled acrylic chunky yarn and, despite the yarn snob in me, I really like the colourway and the pattern in it. Plus it doesn't irritate me or her! Its very soft and squashy, perfect scarf yarn and I'm very tempted to do one for myself if there's enough yarn left over from the massive ball.

I also have been working away on orders I have gotten in the last couple of weeks. I'm almost finished an order for 3 baby comforter/taggies - I just need to stitch the seams on the last one, and embroider the babies' names on the backs. The first two turned out lovely, and I'm hoping to finish them off tomorrow night. The last one is a rocket one for a baby boy.

Finally, I got around to making some fabric pictures using the frames I got on the last trip I did to Ikea. I have had the idea for these floating around for a week or two now - I just picked some of my favourite fabrics and used Bondaweb to make some heart shapes. They are for my "craft corner" whenever I get to make the space for it in the playroom. I'm planning to buy a small desk and some shelves to put on the wall and set my machine up permanently with my sewing box, button jar and fat quarter box on the shelves. I also want to make some kind of an inspiration line/board for my little corner. It would really be great if I could get it done sooner rather than later as my sewing stuff is taking over the kitchen bit by bit! Anyway, while I'm waiting for my little corner, I've stuck these on the shelves in our living room where they are adding a gorgeous splash of fresh colour. I just love them and am tempted to make some more to use for little Christmas presents.

All in all, a very satisfying and crafty weekend! I got lots done (the X Factor provides great handstitching/crochet/knitting time!) and still managed to fit in lots of fun with D and E, meeting up with some friends and their kids, a lovely lie in this morning thanks to my wonderful husband T, and (shock horror) I even managed to get the house reasonably clean and tidy.

Sadly its back to reality tomorrow with a big day at work, but I'll be looking forward to cosying up on the sofa in front of the fire tomorrow evening and finishing the scarf for E.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy day

Yesterday I had my first trip to the Knitting and Stitching Show in the RDS. I had an absolutely fabulous day, it really was all I expected and more!! I didn't get to go at the last minute last year so was really anxious that nothing would stop me this year!

I got there just after 11 and the first person I met in the car park was my sister in law and her sister! Complete and lucky coincidence! We wandered around for a little while until I took myself off to the sewing machine manufacturers displays. I looked at lots of machines and wound up very confused and not at all sure what way to progress. Luckily H arrived at that very moment and dragged me off for a sandwich and a sit down and we were soon ready to start again.

I couldn't believe how busy the exhibition was, there were people everywhere and I noticed a huge range of ages and interests in those attending. Some of the displays were just stunning, I was in awe looking at some of the quilting work in particular. Unfortunately I didn't leave myself enough time to look at some of the artistic exhibitions which I was a bit disappointed about but there was so much to see it was hard to do it all. I met some great Irish suppliers I didn't know about and got great recommendations and advice from them, as well as making some contacts. I picked up lots of lovely fabrics in colours I am a little shy on!

I also picked up a charm pack in the new Bliss line by Moda which I just adore:

I love the colours and patterns in this line:

I'm going to use it to make a quilted throw for our living room.

I picked up lots of little bits too, beads, brooch pins, and mini coloured pegs for noticeboards.

One of the highlights of the day was the workshop in customising your clothes run by A.Rubanesque. It was really fab, lots of brilliant ideas to jazz up clothes, lots of well kept secrets revealed! I was inspired to purchase some ribbons and beads to make a corsage for myself. Hopefully it will all be as easy as it looked yesterday!

But my most significant purchase of the day was my brand new, fab-a-roony, all bells and whistles new sewing machine. I'm SO excited about it and can't wait for it to be delivered next week. It's a Pfaff Expression 2.0 which I bought from the Pfaff exhibitor who was the Pfaff/Singer/Husqvarna centre in Waterford which is great for me from a servicing point of view compared to Dublin. It is a big investment but I am sure it will be worth it. I got a heap of add-ons too, including an extension table and a quilting foot. I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on it and trying it out.

The day finished in real style with a lovely relaxed dinner with a bunch of my best friends who I don't see nearly often enough since moving to Cork. We had a great girlie chat and catch up, the only pity being that not everyone was there.

All in all, fantastic!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

More baby gifts....

I finished this cool baby comforter last night and I love it, I think its my favourite so far! Its so cheerful and colourful. The back is baby blue minky and the front is really soft apple green fleece.

The rocket is appliqued on, mainly in fleece with decorative red stitching and some fabric features from the Riley Blake "Wheels" collection which I think work really well.

Hopefully the lovely little baby boy I made it for will get lots of fun from it, with all the different ribbons and textures to enjoy. It measures approx 33 x 33 cm without the ribbons, so is a really nice size for a blankie.

I'm now working on some baby blankets with the lovely fabric I got from American Etsy stores this week. I've now just got too much choice and its hard to pick something to start with. For the boy's baby blanket I'm going with this lovely funky owl fabric backed with minky:

But I still can't decide on which fabric to use for the baby girl's blanket. I'll figure it out later on but now its time for a nice cup of tea!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Handbag heaven

Here's a little handbag that a friend asked me to make for her. I'm going to find it hard to let this one go!! I really love it I must say. Handbags are my thing, as anyone who knows me will attest and one of my favourite things about sewing and knitting is the ability to make my own for a fraction of the cost. I made one before Christmas last year that I got a tonne of compliments on, including probably my favourite one ever - "Is that an Orla Kiely bag?" (asked by 3 separate people no less!) So when S asked me to make one for her I was thrilled. I'm loving pleats at the moment and decided to try and work some into this bag. I took out my big box of fat quarters and spent a very enjoyable half an hour figuring out which ones to use. I had a lovely bundle of Freebird by Moda fabrics that I bought last month just because they were gorgeous. I adore the brown dotty one which reminds me of a dress worn by Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman and thought it would work great as a contrast lining. I had some difficulty deciding which coordinating one to put with it but finally settled with the floral because it was so fresh and to be honest, it just screamed "make me into a cute bag" to me.

The original fat quarter bag I made last year, I sewed using a great tutorial I found on Sew Mama, Sew. This time, I really wanted it to be my own. So I didn't look at any patterns purposely as I had a clear idea in my head of how I wanted it to look, with the dotty trim at the top, a pleated body and a medium length shoulder strap that would be comfortable to use.
First of all, I cut a long strip off both fat quarters for the handles and another strip for the trim at the top of the bag and then cut each remaining part of the fat quarters in half. I played around for quite a while trying different looks before finally pinning the box pleats on the floral, going for quite wide pleats. I sewed the trim strip to the top of all pieces and then did the side and bottom seams on the lining and the main fabric. I went for quite a wide handle, with the dotty fabric on the outside, and the floral on the inside for contrast.

I used fairly heavy iron-on interfacing on the fabric to give the bag some structure, and used a long strip of very stiff interfacing in the handle. Lastly I put in a magnetic snap button and, with right sides facing and taking care not to twist my handle, sewed the lining, outside and handles together, turned it right side out and finished the last couple of inches by hand. The main body of the bag measures about 9 inches high and 7 inches wide at the top / 9 inches wide at the bottom. Perfect for carrying wallet, keys and a few essentials. Voila!

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Crafting Love/Hate List

My friend Lory had a great post last week on her blog The Mom Blogs about what she loves and hates about being a SAHM. It got me to thinking about what I loved about crafting, particularly when T commented last night about how happy I sounded singing to myself as I stitched. And I thought it might be fun to put them down. So here they are, in no particular order:

1. Sewing, knitting and crochet make me happy. They represent a little bit of magic in my world - I just relax when I've got a needle or hook in my hands, or when I'm in front of the sewing machine. No matter how awful my day in the office, no matter how tetchy the kids are at bedtime, once I pick up the yarn or the fabric a little part of my soul lights up and I am happy.

2.  Etsy. I could browse for hours. I spend a fortune getting lovely things delivered to my door. (My bank manager is not a fan.) I adore how I can see something beautiful and different on sale in California or Texas and it is in my hands within a week. I just love waiting for those parcels to arrive!

3.  Yarn. Scrummy, soft, vibrant yarn. And fabric - oh, the fabric! The colours, the textures. The snuggly softness of fleece and the cool elegance of cotton. I could list all my favourite collections but really, I'd be here all night and I'd bore you to tears. And it goes without saying. Obviously.

4.  Crafting books.  All those fabulous photos providing oodles of inspiration. I have a veritable library at this stage. Some I use all the time. Some I pore over but make very little from. Some are purveyors of knowledge on all things technical. Some are purely indulgent. But I love each and every one of them (almost) as much as my children.

5. Recycling. Since I started sewing, in particular, I find it hard to throw anything out. I cut buttons off everything. I have a stack of kids' jeans with various tears and holes in them just waiting for me to get an idea to use that denim. Its made me look at things in a whole different way.

6. Gift giving. I have had the most unexpected pleasure making things for other people. My kids. My husband. My niece and nephew. My friends. There's something really enjoyable about slipping a cuddly fleece monster into your little boy's bed when he's asleep at night and his delight when he wakes up in the morning to find it beside him. Or of seeing a baby all snuggled up in the blanket you stitched night after night on the sofa. Its amazing seeing people make use of something you've made for them.

I could go on and on but maybe I should provide a bit of balance?

Things I hate about crafting:

1. My sewing machine. I am counting the days till I can go shopping for a new one. It has served me well and it is one I bought when I started out sewing and did the job perfectly. But I am just doing too much sewing now for its capabilities and it doesn't have all the features I would like and it is protesting way too much for my liking.

2. It takes over your house. If you are not lucky enough to have a dedicated space, that is. I do most of my sewing at the kitchen table when the kids are in bed and knitting/crochet/hand sewing on the sofa in the living room. Or sometimes the sofa in the playroom. Or sometimes in bed. My house is invaded by crafting supplies. Is it just me? I have some shelving to store my stuff but even still, its not working. I found crafting books in the bottom of my ironing basket yesterday. Plus a few fat quarters that I had been looking for all week. Really, I need my own little room. A cosy little space with a table where I could leave my machine permanently set up. Enough shelves for everything. A little refuge from the madness of everyday life. But unless someone wants to buy me a winning lottery ticket I'll have to keep dreaming.

3.  Thread. I am a messy sewer. I cut off thread and throw it on the floor, to sweep up later. Except that before I sweep at the end of the evening, I have walked in and out of the kitchen 3 or 4 times and I have managed to pick up a gazillion threads (and tiny scraps of fabric and fleece) on the soles of my shoes or my socks and then I deposit it bit by bit all over the house. There is thread EVERYWHERE. Especially upstairs which is carpeted. T has threatened to make me vacuum the stairs myself if I don't tidy up better in the evenings! Solutions? Send them on a postcard please...

4. Asthma and allergies. I cannot work very much with "real" wool. My skin can't cope with the feel of lambswool in particular and my lungs dislike anything with wool content. Which is a crying shame, because I love wool. I adore the softer wool yarns and occasionally, when I'm feeling very rebellious and devil may care, I knit something up quickly in one. And then I cough and wheeze for a month afterwards :-(

5. Stabbing myself with needles. This happens much more frequently that I imagine it should. I even managed to stab myself with the blunt end of the needle one night (figure that one out!). My fingers are toughening up but its a slow process. And I can't abide thimbles.

6. Dropping stitches. Particularly if I'm doing a lace or cable pattern. And ripping the thing back. Two years ago I had to rip back the entire back of a cardigan (for myself.) Unsurprisingly, its still sitting in the bag. A UFO if you like. Will it ever be finished?? I keep saying next spring....

Ok, so that's my roundup of crafty likes and dislikes. Feel like sharing yours?

Butterfly cuteness

Another baby comforter finished tonight :-)

This is made with polar fleece, appliqued with some lovely Riley Blake summer song fabric. Ribbons are sewn into the edges to add some interest for baby and the back is hand embroidered with baby's name. I hope the recipient has some fun with it when she gets a little older!

Saturday, October 16, 2010


So, today being Saturday, and my lovely hubbie taking himself off to Limerick for the Munster match, I decided that a day doing housework would be highly overrated and took myself and my two monkeys off to town. I had a few things to pick up and reckoned that the promise of pizza and ice cream in Milanos (or "Bilamos" as E so endearingly calls it) would be enough to bribe the kids to behave. And it worked!! We went to Hickeys and picked up lots of cotton tape for bunting, more cute, shimmery ribbon, some thread, some wadding, and some more Bondaweb (having had a traumatic end-of-roll moment during the week). E stayed in the buggy for most of the time and D attempted to drill into every shelf he could find with the cheap plastic drill that came with a comic but there were no tears and only a few (quite effective!) threats on my part.We moved on to Vibes and Scribes (via a fair bit of running around on the streets and a breakaway attempt when they spotted a toy shop :-)) where I picked up some cute chunky yarn to make a winter hat and scarf for E, and some turquoise fabric with white polka dots. The yarn is 100% acrylic - I would have loved to pick up some wool/wool mix but I'm too afraid to after spending last winter at the doctors trying to sort out my asthma. Its a shame really, I love the really luxurious wool yarns but they irritate my lungs unbelievably :-( I also got a gadget for making bias binding (I'm sure it has a proper name but I can't think of it right now!) which I am looking forward to trying out.

I managed to keep today's shopping very practical after splurging on Etsy earlier this week. I'm currently expecting 3 packages from the USA - one of Minky and the other 2 of cotton prints. A mix of Anne Kelle for Robert Kaufman  (cupcakes, owls, hearts, butterflies, flowers), Riley Blake (kangaroos and owls) and Amy Schimler (cats and owls). I have lots of baby blankets to make and these will be perfect. I sense a recurring theme of owls - they are just so damn cute on the fabric!! So I made myself stay as far away as possible from the lovely Amy Butler fabric in Hickeys for fear my resolve would weaken. And I resolutely did not look at the o-so-gorgeous Sirdar Flirt yarn in Vibes and Scribes. I'll be counting down the days till Friday when I think the parcels will arrive.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Crafty adventures!

This year, for the first time ever, I am very excited to report that I will be going to the Knitting and Stitching Show (link here) on 28th October. Myself and my partner in all things crafty, the lovely H, will be hitting the RDS just as early as journey time from Cork and rush hour traffic in Dublin will allow. We are VERY excited. I mean VERY VERY excited. The fact of the matter is that we cannot wait. This may well be a somewhat sad state of affairs, but the thought of all that yarn and fabric and other crafty supplies in the one room together is almost too much to think about. Also the fact that we will (hopefully) get to see a lot of products first hand that normally we can only gaze at in longing over the internet. And, as all fabric and yarn addicts know, the joy of browsing beautiful fabrics and yarns is all in the touch. Looking at gorgeous colours and prints on my monitor just doesn't cut it; knitting and sewing are such tactile crafts. Its all in the feel of the fabric, the drape of the yarn, the springiness of the wool as it slides along the warm wooden needles and hooks, the velvety softness of the baby blankets. Colours too are important; nothing is ever quite how it looks on the screen despite the fact that many sellers get very very close, assisted by detailed and particular descriptions.

In Ireland, sewing, knitting and crochet seem to be really experiencing a massive revival and that's starting to be reflected in the improved supply of materials. Shops are stocking better ranges and more shops are opening all the time. But its very very hard to find the sort of range of fabrics I like at a price I like and I do an awful lot of shopping online for my supplies. So I am really looking forward to finding some beautiful additions to my yarn and fabric stashes. And, I am hoping, maybe a new sewing machine. I've been browsing around the various suppliers of late and I am now clear on one thing: a little knowledge leads to even more confusion! There are so many out there and I like to do quite a variety of things on my machine - from curtains to quilting to dressmaking. So finding something in my price range to cover all the bases is something of a challenge. But I'll keep looking *sigh*.

Convincing? No, I thought not!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Baby Buggy Blanket

So it's finally finished!!! My first attempt at a patchwork blanket worked out really well and I'm very happy with it. It's been a learning process and there's a few things I'd do differently to make it absolutely perfect but overall I think my idea worked out as I hoped.

It's made of 100% cotton backed with beautiful, soft minky.

The cotton and minky gives it a lovely weight.

It would make a lovely blanket for a baby girl for a buggy/car seat or in a crib, soft and snuggly on the inside and bright and cheery on the outside. It measures approx 100cm by 74cm. I could easily size up to cot size too.

I'm very excited that it's finally done and the whole process of designing it was really exciting!! One of the things I am loving most about my new venture is that it's challenging me to come up with ideas and there's great satisfaction in that. There's a world of difference between following a pattern and generating the idea yourself. It's the getting from idea to finished product that's most challenging for me, particularly as I am mostly self taught. But I really (really!!) love when it comes together as this did. All that's left now is to parcel it up and send off to my beautiful niece and god-daughter L to enjoy!!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Technical Assistance

I am finally starting to see my patchwork baby blanket coming together and I'm thrilled with how its looking! Its been slower than anticipated, mainly because my machine is so temperamental at the moment and because I am horrendously busy in my day job. I am so looking forward to the end of October when our busy period starts to tail off. I'm can't wait to have the energy to get out the sewing machine every night instead of only one or two a week. But its now almost finished - I am working on the bias binding at the moment.

I have to mention here an absolutely fabulous book that has become my bible for all things technical - Sew It Up  by Ruth Singer. Its fresh, beautifully illustrated, has excellent instructions and really clear master classes with great accompanying photos. To be honest I can't recommend it highly enough.  I tend to have it out beside me when I am doing anything that is relatively new to me and the pictures are a great visual giuide to check your work. Last night I used her Masterclass on continuous bias binding which I had not had need to try before, and it turned out perfectly, and saved me so much work on the binding.  There are some lovely projects in it also and all in all, its probably one of my favourite books in my crafting library and definitely my most used by a long long way.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Take Notice

I have a lovely fabric covered noticeboard in my own kitchen and a good friend asked me to make similar for her AGES ago. So I did. This has been sitting on my shelf finished for months now, I took it down on Saturday when I was going to visit her and it made me smile so I took a little picture to show off with! The fabric came from Ikea (it took 3 visits to get it in stock, the final visit made not by me but by my fab friend H -thanks hon!! - but it was worth it) and is one of the most vibrant and cheerful fabrics I think I've ever come across. I have a large canvas covered in the same fabric in the playroom too and its perfect in there. So this is the simplest thing to make - some wadding, some fabric, some ribbon, some buttons, a cork notice board and a staplegun :-) The trickiest part is sewing in the buttons at the end. Hey presto, funky bright noticeboard to hang your pictures, takeaway menus, kids' drawings etc on. Maybe I need another one now that I have 2 children bringing home pre-school works of art every day!
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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Machine woes

No pictures today unfortunately. This week has been mega busy and exhausting and I haven't had much crafting time at all. I've been knitting quite a bit because I can do that on the sofa :-) and I just love the yarn I'm using for my cardi. It's a bamboo cotton mix and it's got a lovely soft texture and great drape. I also got a new crochet book and have been trying out some of the patterns in it which has been fun ( also on the sofa!! )

But my biggest focus of the week has been my machine which has given me serious trouble every time I have managed to get it out. Tensions issues, pedal trouble, bizarre bobbin winding, it's really starting to get on my nerves. I was hoping to look at new machines at the Knitting and Stitching show at the end of October with a view to buying one online afterwards but now I'm not sure I'll manage to wait that long. I have been looking forward to upgrading to a better machine for about 6 months but was not anticipating my current machine packing it in beforehand! I have quite a few projects on the go so I'm keeping everything crossed it keeps going.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Saturday Sewing

I have far too many projects on the go at the moment so decided that today was the day to finish off some that have been sitting in limbo for a while. I really only had some handsewing to finish off on these two tunic dresses and after hurting my back (again!) this morning, they were perfect to do while sitting with the hot water bottle on the sofa. They are for my friend's two daughters, the eldest of whom is my god-daughter and I think they work well together. I might make a little bag or hairband for F as a special extra if I find a few minutes tomorrow. We are going to visit them next weekend so I'll be handing them over then and hope they like them.

I am in the middle of my patchwork blanket but also making curtains for our room which I am making progress on heming most nights, but the curtains are slowing everything else down! I'm looking forward to getting them finished, not to mention hanging them. The fact that the new carpet for the room finally arrived last week has put me under a bit of pressure to get them done. But I can't wait to see what it all looks like and how it comes together.
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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Patchwork buggy blanket

The idea for a patchwork baby blanket backed with minky has been in my head for quite a while. I've been playing around with various fabric combinations and patterns for a week or so but eventually settled on this today. I have it all cut now and am very excited to see how it turns out when I sew it. I love the strong colours, so much more exciting than more baby pink! Here's the layout:

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Pretty and Practical

 Yesterday and today I was off work to get E started in playschool. I really can't believe my baby is so grown up! So yesterday I had 2.5 whole free hours which I sadly had to use to tidy the house. I did a big clearout of my storage / ironing cupboard and was

trying to figure out how to store my shopping bags and the swimming bags better to keep the clutter to a minimum. This morning when I dropped the kids, I thought of some pretty Cath Kidston fabric I had in my stash and decided to try to make some storage bags. I kept it really simple and made one long tube, with elasticated openings at both ends for the shopping bags, and a simple bag for the swim stuff. I found 2 heavy duty hooks and stuck them up and hey presto! I know they are very simple but I am insanely happy every time I open the cupboard. I even got out my ironing board this evening to do some ironing (now that I can actually get to it!)
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