I write this fresh from waging war on the slugs and snails in my garden. I’d love to say that I was the victor but, despite having deposited a full ice cream tub of the slippery critters into the skip at the end of my road, I fear their guerilla warfare tactics will give them the upper hand again by the end of the day…
(I know, I know, the skip owner doesn’t want slugs and snails in there, but I can never bring myself to actually kill them…)
In completely unrelated news, (note to self, really should try harder to link blog posts together into a cohesive article) I wanted to show you a few pictures of some quilting I got up to at the weekend.
After the success of my quilted teapot, I wanted to have a go at some slightly more freestyle quilting.
Before my sproglet was born, I made a burp cloth, following this really simple tutorial at Made by Rae. It’s a pretty handy item; backed with terry towelling it’s very absorbent, but it’s always bugged me a little that the two layers don’t stay together very well.
So, I thought I might have a crack at quilting them, vaguely following the outlines of the little rocket people all over the top fabric.
I’ve got to say, I was pretty pleased with the results.
In some places, I followed the outlines closely.
In others, I just nipped along wherever I fancied.
I definitely think I’ll be doing more of this.
Now, sewing chat out of the way, if anyone wants to come on a snail hunt at 7am tomorrow morning, I know the perfect spot…
Something feels wrong this Monday. Oh, wait, I know what it is… …it’s not a Bank holiday. Sob, sob.
Somehow the three-day weekend last week felt like a miniature holiday, whereas the weekend we’ve just had was more like a rushed work lunch break. Two whole days passed so quickly that I don’t really know what happened to them.
Still, enough moaning, I’m going to show you what I managed to produce with the few productive couple of hours I spent sewing on Friday night.
For today, these cute business card holders.
You remember I got my first ever Wolves in London business cards a few weeks ago? Okay, I’ve still only managed to hand out one. The rest are sitting in a rather beautiful pile on my mantelpiece, where I admire them at least 20 times a day.
They’re so gorgeous, I couldn’t bear to put any in my wallet in case they got dirty or – worse – crumpled! So, I really needed some means of transporting them around, otherwise I would never give any out to anyone ever.
I found a great tutorial for sewing a business card holder from the Crafty Cupboard, which I basically followed to the letter. I didn’t sew on the button and elastic because I forgot thought it wasn’t necessary…
The blue one is made from some beautiful Japanese fabric that I bought when I was living in Hong Kong. I wish I knew where to get some more because it’s running out now.
Incidentally, I didn’t originally set out to make two – I spent a while making the first dark blue one, carefully lining up all the flowers to the right places and so on, only to discover that it was too small for my business cards once I’d finished it. Ah well…
If you like the vintage animal fabrics I’ve used here, you might also like my teapot fabric
Well, in an attempt to make them less nebulous and more concrete, I’ve given myself a deadline to have my Etsy shop up and running and actually stocked with things that I’ve made.
(Note the careful way I’m not sharing the actual date of this deadline with you, just in case I don’t make it…)
The first product I want to have ready to sell is a teapot cosy made with my teapot fabric. (I know! These unexpected yet brilliant connections I make! Clearly the mind of a genius at work.)
Great plans, so far, aren’t they? But then, after a while of thinking what a great product I was going to make, it dawned on me that I haven’t got a clue how to make a teapot cosy.
I examined my Cath Kidston teapot cosy carefully and could see that it was quilted, which immediately struck me as frightening. It also had binding on it. Doubly terrifying. I didn’t really know how to attempt either of those things.
But then, while having a little ramble around Twitter, I came across Saturday Sewing Session (www.saturdaysewingsession.co.uk). They have London-based sewing classes and, oh, what’s that I see? A whole entire afternoon class on sewing teapot cosies, including learning to quilt and applique.
[Random interjection here: I don’t quite feel like I’ve got the point of Twitter, yet. Am I the only one? I signed up a while ago, but haven’t yet shaken off the feeling that I’m just shouting into a void whenever I post anything. Does anyone really care about my picture of some ferrets about to have a race at a county fair, or should I save such chat for Facebook? Answers on a postcard, please. Or a 140 character tweet…]
So last Saturday, I hit the well-heeled neighbourhood of Chelsea and sewed myself this little beauty.
Speaking with absolutely no modesty at all, I say isn’t it quite the prettiest tea cosy you’ve ever seen?
First, we learnt how to quilt the outside covers. As is the way with most things in life, something I thought was going to be really complicated was extremely simple. In this case, it was just as straightforward as sewing a straight line.
The clever bit was in the use of a little sewing machine quilting bar, that meant you spaced all of your lines perfectly…
Then, we put the pieces together and I was slightly amused to realise that the construction was exactly the same as the method I’d used for my egg cosies at Easter. And there I was thinking I’d invented that all by myself! Okay, the red lining isn’t the perfect match for the gorgeous outside fabric, but it was the closest there.
We were meant to be appliqueing something onto the front of the cosy as well, but by the time I’d done my quilting, I knew that I didn’t want anything else going onto such an elegant fabric (does anyone recognise it, by the way? I absolutely adored it, but the person teaching my class wasn’t sure where they’d got it from…). So, I just tried out a bit of applique on a piece of calico instead.
Clearly, I was having a good sewing day, because this came out wonderfully as well:
Actually, maybe it was something in the air of that studio, because I can never sew this neatly at home…
So, a very first teapot cosy. This won’t be sold, but used by me for all my teapot cosying needs. Actually, I think the shape of this one is a bit too tall and not wide enough, so I’ll make a new pattern when I make the ones for my shop.
So, what do you think? Would you part with your hard-earned cash for something like this?!
Looking for something to do while you watch the TV this evening that’s really fiddly, will make you cross and leave you with an imperfect result?
Excellent! Then I’ve got the perfect thing…
I spent last Saturday night watching The Voice (it’s not that good this year, is it?) and swearing throughout my second attempt at making fabric covered buttons.
I only recently discovered that covering buttons with your own choice of fabric was something it was possible to do. When I first came across the little kits you can get, I had what I thought was a Eureka! moment.
Because I want to make my own fabrics, and make things with those fabrics, I’m likely to have leftovers of scraps and small pieces. So, of course, the ability to use them for buttons seemed like the perfect situation. “Why doesn’t everyone do this?” I thought to myself, slightly smugly, marveling at my own genius and brilliance.
So I ordered some of the relevant buttons. And tried to put them together a few weeks ago. No joy. Turned out you need a little stamping tool too. So I ordered that as well and felt convinced I was really on my way to a genius creation.
So, there I was on Saturday, full kit in hand: two parts to the buttons, the button stamping tool, scissors and some scraps of fabric.
In theory, it’s a doddle to put them together. You cut a circle of fabric, centre your button onto it, stick it in the button stamping tool, put the back on, then use the other side of the tool to click it into place. I watched YouTube videos. It was quite clearly going to be ridiculously easy.
Except. I’d bought the smallest size of buttons. (I don’t understand sizes and weights so I never have a clue what’s going to turn up when I order something online, it’s frequently too big or too small. I have a bag of stuffing in the spare bedroom that could probably make about 1,000 soft toys. I was only making one…)
With the smallest size of buttons, everything gets really, really fiddly. You need to have the button centred perfectly onto the fabric, otherwise the fabric will slip out of one side of the button, or the back won’t click into place if you’ve got a bit of excess fabric in another place.
I’m not the most patient person in the world for fiddly work and this made me swear quite a lot.
So I only made seven buttons.
They do look cute from the front though, don’t they?
From the back, as you can see, the fabric isn’t perfectly in place though. Grrrrrrr.
I’m going to order a bigger size of button now. I’ll let you know if I have better luck.
I used the same pink hexagonal fabric (which I got from subscribing to Mollie Makes magazine) to make my egg cosies
[If you’re already up with the latest sewing machine capabilities then please excuse me while I share my wonder at a newfangledness you already know about. You might want to meet me a few paragraphs down right about where the next photo is…] [For extra clarification by “latest” I probably mean as recently as just post invention of the loom.]
But, for those who are still here: it has auto tension! It has a thread cutter! It has computerised settings! It can sew a button hole for me! (This I’ve not yet tested, but I am imagining myself going downstairs to put the kettle on, while my lovely new sewing machine makes the button hole, and perhaps finishes off the rest of the garment for me, while I’m gone…) It has more stitches than I even knew existed, let alone have a clue how to use! And, perhaps least excitingly as a function, but best for my sewing, it has speed settings.
Speed settings have made sewing a curve a whole new experience. I whack the machine onto slow and find I can sew the most stunning curves you’ve ever seen. Turned out, all it took for my sewing skills to improve was to stop trying to go at the fastest speed imaginable, but just take my time to actually sew well instead. Hooda thunk?
So, now I have this wonderful new machine, I’m picking up the big unfinished sewing pile. It’s got various things for other people in it. Big things. Like a quilt that was for my sister for Christmas. And a first birthday present for a friend we visited in Ireland three weeks ago.
So, of course, the first thing I attempted was by far the least pressing: the incomplete bibs.
I’m working on getting my bib pattern into pdf form (footnote 2) so I can write it up here with a tutorial, but in the meantime I thought I’d share a few pictures of the seven bibs I’ve made.
I did three in some nice colourful fabrics.
The tortoise fabric is called Tortoise Grass and is by Urban Zoologie. I think this is my favourite bib. There’s something about the fabric design that just works well in bib form.
The ever-appealing Very Hungry Caterpillar fabric is by Andover fabrics. It’s stocked in various places (I have a feeling I bought mine from eBay, but it was a while ago, so I can’t be sure…)
This rather gorgeous fabric with trees and snails is from Critter Community and is called Bermuda (I think that’s the right way round. It might be called Critter Community and be from the Bermuda collection perhaps). Whichever, it’s by Robert Kaufman fabrics.
I think this cabbage is my favourite of these bibs. The image is from Clip Art etc: cabbage image.
The carrots (as I mentioned last time) are from the Graphics Fairy, here: carrot image.
The courgettes are also from the Graphics Fairy: courgette image. Though, I have to say, I think this image works least well on the bibs: the shape just seems wrong with the bib shape. It’d be great used as a pickling label as suggested though…
So, seven extra bibs should see us through, ooooh, an extra day and a half before we have to run the washing machine. Now it’s onto the important stuff. Next stop the first birthday present…
Footnote 1: Don’t feel too sad for my broken, unloved machine though. It went to a new home through Freecycle, probably to someone who will love and nurture it back to life and then treat it far better than I ever did.
Footnote 2: For “working on” read instead “asking my boyfriend to sort it out for me…”
It’s a blinking good morning here in sarfeest London. The sun is shining, I got a full six hours un-interrupted sleep last night (finally breaking my lack of sleeping spell) and it’s almost the long Easter weekend…
Could life get any better? Turns out, it could!
Because I’ve also got my first ever guest post happening today over at the always-beautiful Patchwork Harmony blog.
It’s for some really easy-to-sew egg cosies that I made. Complete with pattern. (I know, get me!)
And I’ll let you into a little secret. That lovely wood table? The beautiful floral teapot? Those huge sash windows? Not mine. Not my house.
My house is still such a complete and utter tip waiting to be renovated, that I had to go to my sister’s lovely flat to take the photos. It’s the same sister who I’m teaming up with for the Letterpress cards, so expect to see her flat in a few more photos!
I’m not sure how this crucial information can have possibly passed me by until now, but I have just discovered that it’s Bacon Connoisseurs Week. This week…
Luckily, I found out in the nick of time, for tomorrow is the very last day we have to celebrate all things bacon until the revered event comes around again next year.
Always a sucker for a food-based festive event (slash thinly disguised marketing ploy; see the Love Pork website for full details of this prestigious week), I spent a while wondering what I could do to celebrate.
Apart from eating bacon, which I obviously intend to do as well.
Usually, I’d whip up a babygrow with a relevant picture transferred onto the front, much like my National Carrot Day outfit. But somehow, putting my baby in a bacon top didn’t really appeal.
(I toyed with the idea of doing one with a pig picture instead, but that didn’t quite seem in the spirit of things. Oh look, a nice little piggy, oink oink oink. I’m going to turn you into bacon this week, but don’t worry, you’ll taste utterly delicious…)
I was busy doing some head scratching (“scratching,” geddit…) and then I suddenly remembered my great love for felt food.
When I first joined Pinterest, just about every other photo I pinned was of some sort of felt food.
Of course, I never got round to making a single item (Pinterest being invented purely, I am pretty sure, to make you waste hours at your computer Pinning things you intend to make, rather than actually spending any time making anything).
But, finally, here is my chance!
Bacon on its own would be a little odd, so I decided to make a full English. (That’s not odd at all, you see. Nope.)
What do you think?
I vaguely followed a tutorial from Wee Folk Art for the bacon and eggs and from One Inch World for the tomato slice…
The sausages I just cobbled together…
Now, what on earth am I going to do with a felt fry up?!
Take a look at the carrot baby clothes I made for the equally (if not more) prestigious National Carrot Day
And if you can’t get enough of felt food, I’ve corralled all my felt food Pinning obsessions onto one lovely board: Felt Food.
As well as my homemade Christmas, I’m working on some other homemade presents too, these for my partner’s birthday in November.
This is proving trickier than it used to be, as my time for making anything during the day is a bit limited. Somehow, looking after the baby, taking a walk and remembering to get washed and eat lunch seem to easily take up 12 hours. So I really only have the 30 minutes or so between putting the baby to bed and Jamie getting home from work to actually get anything done.
Still, as ever undaunted by the genuine lack of time to finish what I’m planning, I’ve got three secret projects that I want to make him by the time his birthday arrives in the middle of November.
The first is a knitted scarf, smart enough for him to wear to work when the winter starts to get cold. I’ve found a free pattern for the appropriately named “His (Birthday) scarf” (pattern found through Ravelry, but I’ve linked direct to the blog it appears on). I’ve splashed out on some Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran yarn – normally I’m too mean to buy Debbie Bliss yarn as I do think it’s very expensive, but since this is for a special birthday present I thought I could give it a whirl. And oh my goodness, having knitted the first four rows, I am amazed at how gorgeous the yarn is… Really soft, but it doesn’t split while you’re knitting at all, and it’s lovely and solid on my bamboo needles. I’m using a 4.5mm needle, though the yarn calls for 5mm and the pattern for 4mm (I thought I’d take the middle road, sounds sensible, no?) So far, it’s looking gorgeous, will update on progress…
The second project is to go with some bento boxes that I’ve ordered him through Amazon. I thought that the boxes are all well and good, but he’ll still want a bag to put them in, rather than just sticking them straight into his rucksack. So, at the moment, I’m torn between two different patterns that I’ve got pinned on my Pinterest boards. The first is a bag from the long thread and the second is a similar version but made with oilcloth by Tonya Staab: handmade lunch bag. Ordinarily, I’d go for the oil cloth version without thinking, but I do know that I want to make this for him with my Spoonflower fabric, so I’m umming and ahhing over this.
The final project is the most fun: ironing on some sort of awesome old-fashioned marine related picture to a T-shirt. Something like this, from the New York Public Library archives.
If I get these all finished, I’ll update with more info and pictures.