Christmas makes 2016

Just a quick post to reflect on some of the makes I have made this year for Christmas!  There are a few which have been good or challenging which I wanted to share.

The upcycled t shirt cushions

My dad suggested that his old Hard Rock cafe tshirts should be transformed into cushions about two years ago but I wasn’t convinced and didn’t do it until this month.  They have come out much better than I expected!  I was worried that they were too faded, but I simply cut out the designs and appliqued them onto calico and created envelope cushions!

 

The 1940s tapestry bag and purse

This is another gift which had been on my mind for years but I had never got round to creating.  However, I finally created it this year, even having time to create the matching purse (from Making Vintage Bags).

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Hare bag

I wasn’t intending on making a hare bag this year, but when I clapped eyes on the fabric, I had to make something with it for one of Phill’s relatives who loves hares.  I followed a free pattern online but I was a bit disappointed with the depth of the bag, which I would have preferred to have been a bit deeper, but I added a magnetic clasp to it to make it more like a shoulder bag.  I did find a preferred tote bag pattern but I don’t have a photo of it yet so will write about it another time.

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Oscar glasses case

This personalised glasses case was fun to make as well to add to my grandad’s collection of Schnauzer based gifts over the years.

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Baby Showers Mobile

My biggest challenge was making this mobile for my niece!  I gave my sister the choice of patterns for a baby mobile, and halfway through making this mobile I felt a bit of regret at doing that!  However, it was a great challenge and pushed me much further than the other choices (and it looks much more impressive too)!  I adapted the pattern from Chloe Owens (All Sewn Up) to what I had available, using Christmas tree decorations for the raindrops instead of jewellery chain.  Glittery sequins were attached to the butterflies, which make light bounce off it.

I could not follow the pattern precisely as I could not get a needle through the fabric flowers when assembling as the fabric glue made it too hard.  Instead, the embroidery floss was attached securely either side of the flowers.

I greatly underestimated the many stages to this mobile!  I would recommend starting far in advance to ensure you make this in time to avoid the last minute stresses of making gifts!  Fortunately, my mum helped ensure the clouds were sewn securely and to help with the final construction stage.

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Pyjama bottoms!

I don’t make a lot clothes-wise for my boyfriend… the thought of making a shirt is quite daunting (he has a lot too).  The only item I have made in ten years is a onesie funnily enough, which I made the day before Christmas Eve manically on my mum’s sewing machine.  It is the biggest gift I’ve made him, and it would be more impressive garment I’ve made… if I hadn’t cut half the pieces the wrong way round on the fleece!

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Making pyjamas for him has been on my list for a while.   However, I found this lovely bear print woven fabric at the stitching, sewing and hobbycrafts show last month which I knew he would like, so I decided that it was time to get this gift idea off the list.

The main issue with making clothes for someone else even – even when you are making something quite simple like elasticated pj bottoms – is making sure they fit right.  Fortunately I knew the inner leg measurement from trouser shopping in the past, but it was tricky to gauge the waist measurement beyond requesting a tactical hug!  Even with the leg length, I ended up making them a little longer out of fear that if they were too short, I couldn’t remedy that scenario as easily as if they ended up too long.

I cut the fabric one afternoon and began stitching the first couple of stages, but had to shut myself away to finish them off the next day.  It was good to have a short time frame to be able to make them as it meant I spent less time worrying and more time making.  I found and bought a suitable top to match on this occasion.

They were well received and I enjoyed making him something practical.  next time, I think I will try out a summer set (at least leg length isn’t required for shorts which eliminates one issue) and perhaps by then I will be confident enough with knits to make the top too!

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The stitching, sewing and hobbycrafts show!

Last Saturday, I went to the stitching, sewing and hobbycrafts show at Westpoint, Exeter, UK!

My friend and I went as part of a day coach trip to avoid the prospect of driving.  Unfortunately, the pick up point was not in our town, so we had to get a lift to Truro.

When we arrived, there was a queue which wandered around the building!  Once in, we decided to dive into the middle aisle which seemed quieter as others opted to choose to tackle the show from one end to the other.

corduroy

The first fabric shop we saw was Fabrcis Galore, which contained an array of wonderful fabrics.  After deliberation, i went back later to buy some printed corduroy, which will be perfect for a project I have in mind to make after all the Christmas gifts are made (so probably January)!

Also I picked up a lovely polar bear print from another fabric shop, which will be used in a gift I need to make very soon (currently being prewashed so no photo)!

fleece

My very first purchase was this fleece.  As the nights draw in, I think I will turn to practising spinning with my drop spindle once more, and I like to pick up small amounts of fleece for this purpose.  I’m not a fast spinner, so this bag is a suitable size.

angel

We managed to sign up to a wonderful glass workshop with The Glass Garden Studio where we learned the basics in stained glass construction. I took home this angel that I made.

tactile-treasures

Tactile Treasures was another stall I was particularly interested in.  Now I have a niece, I am interested in making toys which will be perfect for her learning and development.  this stall sold all sorts of attachments which are teething friendly and different stitchable surfaces, such as this mirror, which can be cut, stuck and appliqued onto items.  I bought some rattle inserts too which will be great to use, and received excellent tips from the owners of the business on ensuring that the toys you make a safe and meet safety standards.

I came across an air erasable pen, which is something I have been looking out for having read about them.  I’ve been having a bit of trouble with water erasable pens, which have at times caused the thread to run onto the background fabric.  I’m not sure they this has happened as the thread should be colour fast, but I am intrigued to find out whether the use of an air erasable pen would be safer.  I plan to review this in the coming month.

The block printing stall from The Arty Crafty place was lovely as well.  When we finally managed to get up to the front and admire the blocks, we were very tempted with their £30 starter pack.  However, I decided to select a couple of small blocks.  They were packaged in a beautiful drawstring bag.  We also found some simple leaf shapes for £1 on another stall, which we plan to try out for block printing too at some point.

There were lovely displays of artwork too, including an impressive stitched cardigan!

As it was a day coach trip, it meant we were there for the whole hog and were shattered by the time we crawled back onto the coach at 5pm!  But it was an interesting experience.  I found it a bit overwhelming as someone who tends to avoid large crowds, but the inspiration was immense and I feel as though I’ve been drawn to another handful of hobbies in a very short time!!

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Crocheted Bunny

I haven’t done a lot of crocheting beyond the string bags I make for the Etsy shop.  However, this bunny pattern has been a project I’ve been looking forward to making for a long time.

Published in Simply Crochet magazine, this bunny originates from a lovely looking book called Edward’s Menagerie by Kerry Lord.

I made this bunny with Sirdar Country Style yarn, which meant it had a bit of wool content but would still be easy to wash (which I felt the parents of the owner of this bunny would appreciate)!  The bunny is advised to be made in alpaca wool, but I opted for a wool blend to comprimise on price/budget and yarn content.  I am slightly gutted to have since discovered an alpaca wool blend wool in a shop near my mum’s which would have worked well for this knit and was a reasonable price!

This pattern was fun to make.  I would have appreciated more pictures or directions on sewing it up, but the actual pattern in the book may have more guidance on this than the magazine version.  Also, I guess it means that your finished toy will be unique according to how you decide to finish it off.

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Dungarees!

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When I took part in the #miymarch16 instagram challenge, I put down this dungarees pattern as my sewing ambition (new Burda 3779).  I bought the pattern from a charity shop for £2 just over a year ago because I loved the idea of making some, and bought some denim shortly after.  However, the amount of pieces in the pattern felt overwhelming, and I couldn’t get started.

A couple of months ago, I asked my mum if I could bring along the pattern and fabric when I visited her to see if she could encourage me to get started.  Over the weekend, I managed to trace the pattern, pin it onto the fabric, and then cut it out.

One of my main worries was altering the pattern to my size.  However, we decided that as it was designed to be very loose fitting, I could cut it a size smaller than usual, which would ensure that the bottom half would not be too baggy!

I didn’t manage to pick it up again for about a month after this visit!  Feeling that I still needed a boost, I went back to my mum’s for a crafty retreat to get the pattern finished.

It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  When I attached the bib section to the shorts, it didn’t provide a completely sealed finish, but I think I might have misread it.  I would plan to take steps to create a better finish next time.  Also, the inner sides of the bib are tacked in place and then secured by edge stitching and top stitching.  However, I decided to slip stitch it in place by hand to secure it before the two rows of machine stitching.

The braces were simple to attach.  The buttons have to be hammered on, but in my view, this is much easier than stitching button holes and working out where to place the buttons on the straps!  There’s the added benefit that you can adjust it to size.

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The pleats on the front were also a worry, but turned out to be really simple to complete.  They were more like tucks.  The denim material is so sturdy that it was easy to tack in place and press well at every step.

I think these may become my ‘uniform’ for craft days!  I think I will have to make a trouser version for the winter though (I’m already imagining some navy polka dot material which could be used for the second pair…)IMG_20160829_164019Harry did become jealous of the sewing project during its production, and kept sitting or laying on the instructions.  When I moved the instructions out of the way so he couldn’t make any further holes in it with his claws, he decided to settle on the garment instead!

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Wabi Sabi – embracing the beauty of natural imperfections

Wabi Sabi – the Japanese art of embracing the beauty of natural imperfections – is something I’ve stumbled across this month.

Wabi Sabi in craft terms appears to be finding the beauty in the handmade elements.  I wish I’d discovered this art while I was learning ceramics earlier in the year as I could have defended my wobbly pots when compared to the much more symmetrical looking results from other students in the class!  It’s nice to know there is a philosophy which prizes the uneven glazing, wall thickness and overall performance of the complex ceramic process.

wobbly pots

I’ve also explored glass fusing this year, and in this class we embraced the imperfections of our pieces as we understood how these elements distinguished them from a production line.  For example, bubbles within a piece can be seen as inaccuracy, but they make a piece individual.

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I will reflect on this philosophy as I complete my next set of projects.  For example, I have almost completed all of the pieces to create a crocheted bunny toy.  Instead of avoiding the construction process, which I don’t enjoy very much in knitting/crochet, I will remind myself that it doesn’t need to be sewn in exactly the right place as you might expect from purchasing one from a shop.  It just needs to be completed so that it can become a cherished, handmade toy.

Reflecting on the Whole Living article on wabi sabi in the home, I realise that I incorporate this into my home already.  The furniture we have is predominantly hand-downs from family members who no longer want them or need them.  The table I use for sewing is my grandparent’s old kitchen table.  We have a table in the lounge which we bought from a café in Southampton when it was closing down and they were selling them for £10.  They had covered it in pages from a book of Shakespeare’s sonnets and there’s a slight tear on the lower self where a customer must have brushed their shoe on it.  In the kitchen hardly any of our cookery items and chinaware matches.  They’re not handmade but they’ve turned into something individual and imperfect through time.

sonnet table

Wabi sabi seems to me to encourage you to stop and appreciate what you have rather than seek something newer or more pristine.  However, it doesn’t

If you would like to look at techniques in which you can embrace Wabi Sabi to let go of some of your perfectionist tendencies, the Whole Living website  has a useful article on how you can abandon perfect to enhance everyday life.

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