Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Time To Reflect

As the year comes to it's close I thought I'd stop and take stock of events / projects from the last year ahead of the fresh start that comes with the beginning of the next.

I started this blog in February, and I have to say I'm truly amazed that I'm continuing to document my endeavours almost a year down the line. Blogging has not only increased my productivity (encouraged me to actually finish projects which otherwise may have fallen by the wayside!) but has introduced me to new skills and techniques plus tonnes of inspiration through reading some fantastic blogs by others.

2013 has been a year of several crafting firsts including:
I've met some truly lovely people and seen some fantastic work whilst writing a few 'Local Independents' features which I plan to pick up in the new year. Huge thanks to everyone who's taken the time to speak with me.

2014 is looking to be really exciting already, with house plans and a June trip to Italy in the pipeline. I'll be sure to squeeze in plenty of crafting time though and have my first project ready and waiting -a Walden (by Colette) 'Cooper' rucksack for my rather brilliant other half (Thanks for all the proof reading and encouragement!). 

So goals for the coming year? I'm learning to speak Italian, and planning to do a little work on my photography skills. Wishing everyone a fantastic New Year's Eve and a very happy and fruitful 2014! Thanks for reading! x

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Christmas Things! - A Handmade Haul

This year, as well as trying to give predominantly handmade items, we were the lucky recipients of several handmade gifts so I thought in my last Christmas related post I'd share a few of them.

I mentioned in a previous post how much I love Christina De La Mare's work and regular readers will already be aware of my love for bunnies, so I was thrilled to receive the little embroidered felt rabbit below. Another bunny gift was a fun little pair of handmade earings by The Catkin Boutique. The coasters are from a collage collection by Fiona Clabon, a Bristol based illustrator.

My other half bought me the beautiful organic cotton tea towel by Boodle, a Bristol based printmaker. It's so lovely that I definitely won't be using it as intended. I think it's destined to end up as a quilted wall hanging perhaps with a multi coloured paper pieced border.

I love how much the bunny on the far left resembles my Naboo. The tiny silver bird earings are from 'Made Just So', another local independent boutique I've visited this year.

I bought my other half a smaller glittery version of the paper cut I fell in love with at the Paper Scissors Stone event that I attended earlier in the year. The other frame pictured was a gift from his parents -it's handmade in bronze and steel by Kerry and Tilly Whittle for the National Trust. It's so tactile, I love it!

I also made him one or two gifts myself including a wallet (I wasn't happy with the first attempt so it's an I.O.U #2) and some bed shorts using 'Socks the Fox' for Michael Miller Fabrics.

We tried not to get swept up with the commercialism of the festive period, and it feels nice to know that most of our purchases will directly benefit other local crafty folk (rather than disappear into the pockets of shareholders or wotnot).

Did anyone else strive to buy locally / give handmade this year?

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Christmas Things! Quilt-Turned-Cushion

This gift didn't turn out as planned! Some time ago I decided to make a Christmas quilt for my mother and wanted to explore 'English Paper Piecing' further so got some great Christmas fabric and set to work.

[Gloomy pictures taken on a very stormy day!]

Unfortunately I seriously underestimated the time involved when meticulously cutting, basting and piecing the shapes by hand and quickly ran short of time! I therefore made a last minute adjustment to ensure that I had a finished gift ready to give and decided to use two of the 'rose / star' motifs as festive cushion cover fronts.

Hand stitching the paper wrapped pieces
Removing the basting and paper
Ready for machine quilting!

I picked up some curtain interlining as wadding as I didn't want anything with too much loft -just enough that the machine quilting would stand out. I then pinned and machine stitched them to my base fabric, machine quilting with coordinating thread to pick out a few of the shapes.

Whilst cushions definitely aren't as impressive as a hand pieced quilt, it's my very first finished EPP project -they turned out really festive.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Christmas Things! - Cute Cushion Kit

Here's another few pictures of a handmade gift idea to share. I use the term 'handmade' loosely as technically there was no actual making involved!

I put together a 'make-your-own' kit for my other half's sister. It includes absolutely everything needed to create a personalised cushion cover (aside from an iron needed for pressing that is) including:

  • Fabric and trim ('Hello Tokyo' via Plush Addict)
  • Bonding sheet and Bondaweb / Wondaweb fusible hemming strip
  • A temporary fabric marker
  • Embroidery floss and cotton thread
  • A set of pins and some needles

Plus as a little extra gift I whipped up a little patchwork needle case using scraps, a kam snap and some felt from my stash.

I drew up step by step instructions with little diagrams starting with the decoration using pom-pom trim, felt, bonding sheet and a few simple embroidery stitches. Then covered the very simple 'low-sew' construction using pre-cut fabric finished with pinking shears and Bondaweb.

The construction method is extremely simple and very quick (Tutorial to follow) and is perfect as a first sewing project for youngsters or those new to sewing. It can be finished entirely by hand -no sewing machine needed! So more on that to follow.

I hope that everyone had a cracking Christmas. Mine was spent in the best possible way -relaxing with family (with a little over-eating thrown in for good measure!) I even won a game of Scrabble. What more could anyone want!

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Christmas Things! - Penguin Purse

Phew, it's been a super busy (but really quite productive) few weeks! I'm now thankfully (almost) at a point where everything is sorted and ready for Christmas. Cutting it a little fine I know but my old habit of putting things off till the very last minute has crept in so it's been a bit of a mad rush!

As this next project I'm sharing was given a little early (today to be precise!) I can finally share it with you.

I bought some beautiful 'Circus penguins on pink oxford cloth' by Nancy Wolff for Kokka via one of my favourite online stores -Plush Addict. You can't beat it for a great range of really fun prints.

At the time I had no idea what it would be used for -I only knew that it was just perfect for some sort of creation for my friend who loves penguins. I spent a while pondering and in the end decided to go with a little clutch.

I chose a purple floral cotton for the lining with an 'antique' feel to add to the overal 'Granny Bag' aesthetic. I added two small pockets to the lining so that smaller items don't float around in the bottom though in hindsight the bag is so small it's perhaps unnecessary!

The antique brass finish purse frame is attached with coordinating purple embroidery floss using a blanket stitch as I thought it would make the stitching seem more of a deliberate feature than a functional running stitch.

As with most ventures there are aspects that I would adjust for mark 2 but as first attempts go I'm pretty darn pleased with it!

Lots more projects to post but as I'm not sure whether that will be this side of Christmas, I hope that everyone reading this has a wonderful day full of family, food and friends! Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Peony In Progress

I've recently been working on a 'Peony' dress by Colette Patterns. It's not one of their latest patterns but it's a beautiful classic shape and really versatile -again one for both summer and winter wear. They were having a 'Black Friday' event so lucky me purchased it in PDF form with a 20% discount.

I seem to have developed a preference for thick woolly tights with skirts or dresses and wanted something really warm and cozy -think part dress / part blanket!

I was looking for some lovely soft brushed cotton (maybe yet another plaid project?) but wasn't able to find any that fit the bill. Instead I happened upon this great 'fisherman knit' fabric. I'm not sure of the content as it's marked 'Unknown' but the texture is knitted. Just the thing! Or so I thought...

The fabric recommendations are lighter in weight than the fabric I chose so I knew it was a bit of a risk. The first problem I encountered was in the cutting -very hard work and blister inducing when doubled! I also had to overlock each piece as it was cut to avoid it fraying.

Unfortunately the nature of the fabric also had an effect on the structure and drape of the dress. I had to take in the back when fitting though this is pretty standard for me (even when the packet measurements are perfect) I also felt that the sleeves needed a little fitting to avoid an unflattering overall bulkiness. Then with a little bust dart tweaking the bodice was looking great. I love the neckline. The 'Bateau' shape has a real vintage feel.

I got to work constructing the skirt. I anticipated issues as there are two gathered sections in the skirt front which I thought would cause problem with such heavy fabric -I was right. The resulting skirt shape is quite unflattering as despite being very slight, it exagerrates and rounds my stomach giving an almost maternity effect. Not ideal! I just wish that I had realised this before inserting the zip and finishing the waist seam with the overlocker ...so ...much ...unpicking!

So back to the drawing board with this one for now. I'm thinking about cutting a shorter circle or half circle skirt which will avoid any gathers / bulk at the waistline and give a 'Skater' style result.

With a little perseverance I''m sure that this dress will be a winter staple for me so I'm determined not to let old habits resume (throwing it into a drawer never to be seen again!). Moral of the story -being adventurous with fabric choices leads to big ol' construction headaches!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Be.In Craft Market / Christmas Collection Online

Yesterday I went along to the second be.in Bristol Arts and Craft Market. I had a really fun day -friends popped in and I enjoyed some really great food and delicious mulled cider.

I managed to make plenty of stock ahead of the event so I'm now able to list the remainder in my folksy shop. I've kept the prices exactly the same -and included free postage! Go take a peek!

I'm still super busy with lots of secret Christmas gifts that I can't share just yet but have also been working on a Colette 'Peony' dress which is taking shape nicely so I'll be sure to get a post together for that one asap.

Wow Christmas has really snuck up on me this year! Anyone else giving handmade gifts / making DIY decorations?