Monday, 12 November 2012

Eggspert floristry

I seem to be spending a lot of time covered in poster paints these days as boygoblin likes to make things and at just 2 years old, is not yet to be trusted with needles and hooks. (He does like his threading beads though, so there is hope for the wee thing yet.)

kids craft eff carton flowers in vase
Pretty flowers
This week's project was a bunch of flowers for Dearwife -  he misses her when she's as work.
We had lots of fun mixing colours and splashing about with the paint on the egg cartons.

egg tray with coloured poster paints

Then, during naptime (thank goodness for naptime) I cut up the egg tray and prepierced the bowls, ready for the pipe cleaners.

egg carton flowers materials
Ready for wake-up time

single egg carton flower

The vase is the box from mini cupcake papers, and Boygoblin picked the mama and baby stickers to decorate it.

plastic pot vase decorated with stickers
any excuse for stickers

This was a cat-warming gift for a friend

Our should that be a housewarming gift for a cat? Not sure.
close up felt feltie frog handmade
How is it that he looks smiley when I didn't give him a mouth?

It’s a simple little handsewn feltie, stuffed with crinkly plastic, and long jumpy legs of ribbon.
feltie froghand made hand embroidered
Looong legs
His toes and back ridges are embroidered in variegated thread (which I hardly ever see the point of, but it works well here.) and he has little yellow French-knot warts.
feltie close up back stitch french knots
Warts never looked so good
He’s dangling on a piece of elastic, and jumps quite nicely I think…
feltie frog cat toy, handmade hand embroidered

Reggie seems to like him in any case...

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Planning, and packing, and planning to pack.

Whoa! Life has been a little chaotic recently, in a good way, hence the radio silence.

Below is a post I never got around to posting. You'll see why...
We are looking down the barrel of a big, big move in a couple of weeks time, which will entail all of my beautiful Stuff being out of bounds for something like 3 months. Eep.

I've spent an unsatisfying few months not quite finishing things, but getting my WIPs into a parkable state for shipping. Last weekend, while the BoyGoblin had the Biggest Nap Of All Time, I finished the machine sewing on the final project I will make in the UK. I know this is true, because when I was done,  I packed up my machine, removed the needle and foot, and tucked it gently into the corner of Stuff To be Shipped. (Momentuous times call for Many Capitals.)
close up of moving box
We ended up with 100 of these.

And it feels pretty momentous, frankly. Never mind that we have spent the last few weeks cleaning shoes, counting CDs, sorting paperwork (essential (to be shipped), irreplaceable (to be flown on our persons) and shreddable (not to be confused with the previous)) and revaluing everything from lithographs to lampshades. The moment I really felt my stomach drop was when I unscrewed the little knob on the machine and removed that needle.

I'm not quite going cold turkey as I’ve already started planning a strategy to keep me crafting throughout. Some projects will need to come on the plane, and others will be stashed in the suitcase. Some wull be stashed in the suitcase and then removed at the last minute in favour of traintracks and sticker books, and posted instead. (Its a tough call, but I think Boygoblin is marginally more cranky than I in the absence of playthings.)

Toddler inside packing box sticks "do not pack" label to the outside.
BoyGoblin was quite clear he wanted to come
 in the plane with us, but he did think hard when
his train set was packed for the ship.
Some might think there are better things to plan for (job search? housing? childcare?) but I know better.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Bobbin huggers

I use a plastic box to store my machine threads in, which means I end up with bucketloads of bobbins rolling around carrying identical looking white thread – that is not identical!
Rather than risk the Dark Forces of Mechanical Wrath that ensue when the wrong thread is loaded into my usually sweet tempered sewing machine, I have spent a lot of time unwinding bobbins, and wasting oodles of thread.
Enter the bobbin-hugger, designed to keep a bobbin snuggly cuddled up to its mother-reel.
A button, a toothpick, two seedbeads and a bit of elastic is all you need. Oh, and some glue.

brightly coloured materials for bobbin huggers. pots of beads, buttons, elastic
The materials are almost as pleasing as the result.
So, so simple, and so, so pleasing.
bobbin storage system.
It looks like a bit of an ugly duckling...

bobbin hugger thread storage system in use
...but works perfectly (and looks a bit nicer in use.)
You could use the toothpicks to hang the pairs on the wall, like a shed storage system. Ooh, the organsiational possibilities are endless... (but mine are still rolling around in that box).

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Revising a rewritten fond memory

So, you know when I said I had cracked it – a crochet motif that would make up into a cosy and lacy blanket?

close up of stacked crochet motifs, blue grey and yellow
These feel to me like currency when I stack them like this.
Turns out I hadn’t. When I laid them out, they didn’t pass muster. too small and bitty looking, but more importantly, DearWife thought they were too solid.

a stack of crochet hexagons piled in front of yarn and knitting bag
What seemed to be a promising start, wasnt...
Now, though, I think I’ve cracked it. I added a round of well-spaced trebles and chains. Fiddly, and it’ll be a ‘mare to sew together (I hate working into chains, but forgot that until it was too late) but I think it works.
crochet hexagons laid ourt
I think they'll come together nicely.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Boys don't wash

Not much time for sewing around here at the moment, not least because we’ve been away on holiday.

And every time we go, I’m astonished at how vast our family toiletry / first aid bag is. There are only three of us, one is less than three foot tall, and neither of his mamas are lotions and potions sorts of gals. But we routinely fill a large nappy bag with soap, shampoos, moisturisers, plasters, panadol, thermometers…. You name it! And even that’s with all of us smelling of baby bath all week.

Not only is the resulting saddlebag bulky and heavy, but it makes it very difficult to find anything, like a medicine syringe at 1am.

To divide it up a little more, the BoyGoblin needs his own wetbag. After a couple of days of sketching, reality bit – no time to make one, especially as the skills gap was less a fissure and more a chasm (oilcloth? Zip? Eek!).

A couple of hours online  revealed that buying one was going to be tricky too, as apparently, boy children don’t wash.

So I did a quick and dirty. A £2 toiletry bag from Tiger, and 10 minutes to iron on a set of transfers I picked up in Berlin last year.

boys toiletry bag - iron n transfers
Just a sample of the stuff that will ge stuffed in here...
The photos aren’t hugely charismatic, and neither is the bag to be honest, but it does the trick, and as far as boygoblin is concerned its perfect! Not only has it got diggers on it, but you can put things in and take things out. Did I mention the diggers?

flocked forklift transfer closeup
Flocked forklift. Flocking awesome!

Friday, 20 July 2012

The end of the rainbow...

I finally finished it. Goodness me.

quilted rainbow table runner with matching toy cars
Juicy colours, made with love, sweat and tears.
I can’t tell you how painful the freemotion quilting was. I’m clearly not a natural (hence the deliberately off-centre swirls) and I had all sorts of issues with my tension (both the thread, and my shoulders.)
close up of colour runner freemotions quilting
Charming wobbly spirals - the much contested limit of my freemotion prowess.
There are four big pockets in the back,  that will loosely hold cars, crayons, whatever.

toy cars in pockets in the back of quilted colour matching table runner
These are the pockets...

Coloured toy spiders on colour sorting quilted mat
... and these would be the Whatevers. DearWife was not impressed.
It all rolls up neatly.

kids table runner reverse. shaped applique and toy cars in pockets.
Oh, and I appliqued some shapes on the back too. Templates via Word, sanity via Bondaweb.

I wonder how long it will take me to sew on a strap?

kids colour match table runner rolled up
Like a yummy car-filled sushi roll
 I think the Cath Kidston ribbon I got for my birthday makes perfect binding. Lucky I procrastinated over finishing then, eh?

By far the biggest challenge was met by DearWife, who completed her mission to find a car to match each panel. Pink was a particular challenge.
toy cars parked on rainbow coloured quilted table runner
I can hear the engines revving, can't you?
  This one's going on the plane with us. 

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Vintage Summer

I think I’ve mentioned before that in my stash are some bits and pieces that I inherited from my grandmother. Among her estate were a number of old womens magazines, and tucked in the pages of some of these were vintage, unused embroidery transfers. Most of them still with the giveaway threads attached.
They seem particularly timely just now, with the Summer of Nostalgia we all seem to be indulging in. First the Jubilee, then the Olympics - anything London is quintessentially Summer. Despite the rain.
This pattern is from Norman Hartnell's London Pride trasfer library, given aaway with Women's Day, sometime in the '50's I'd guess. Hartnell's career spanned the three decades to the 60's, with a long association with the Royals and the stars. He designed the Queen's coronation dress in 1953, so I'm guessing that, like the Jubilee, this would have seeded London Fever (and giveaways in magazines
Norman Hartnell Tower Bridge embroidery pattern
Tower Bridge
Feeling stitchy are running a vintage stitchalong this month, which was just the firecracker I needed to take needle to thread.
vintage tower bridge embroidery hand stitched Norman Hartnell Womans Day
Close up of laurely wreath and sunsety Thames

Saturday, 26 May 2012

I'm not a papercrafter but...

…I am a thrifty stitcher, which is where the inspiration for this came from.

Plastics storage box - baby bath  hamper
Sturdy baby bath box about to be repurposed

This was a box of baby samples. It was a free offer, and comes with an inner tray that makes it perfect as a sewing box.

Now, not being a papercrafter (did I mention that) I used some fairly basic materials to  spruce it up a bit

storage box with craft supplies scissprs magents greaseproof hairclips
The paper was scrap from a craft magazine, and the rest of the materials are pretty basic

I was rather pleased with this ingenious use of fridge magnets and binding clips (actually hairclips):
two hairclips and two magnets secure the greaseproof paper to the patterned paper
I'm sure papercrafters have a slicker way...

 I traced the shape of the label i wanted to cover onto baking paper, and then used magnets and hairclips to "pin" the template to the patterned paper.
Et voila!
close up of strogage box showing label covered in patterned paper

plastic sewing box with tray removed to show storage space
The teal tray comes out too

And not content to stop there...
This box cost £8
plastic bath storage box for babies
DearWife was not oncvinced when I brought this home...

And with the addition of wrapping paper and felt letters makes a jolly, practical  storage box for boygoblin’s rapidly expanding stash of art and craft supplies.
baby bath box decorated to take chold's art supplies
Top view of art boc showing covered label
open art box overflowing with art supplies

(like mother, like son…)

Friday, 25 May 2012

Chasing rainbows

For the past four weeks my sewing studio has been out of bounds – first filled with houseguests, and then packed up for the painters, (neither DearWife nor me being the sort of domestic goddesses who relish redecorating, our response to chipped walls being “get the little men in!”)  and finally carefully dressed and posed for sales viewings.

Well, the men have been and gone, as have the estate agents. I spent most of last night reassembling the space the way I really like it, and rather a lot of time simply fondling my stash, if you know what I mean.

rainbow fabric squares laid out on grey backing fabric
Lovely rainbows

And all this led to me starting a bit of an impulsive project – a colour-sorting table mat for the BoyGoblin that I’ve had in mind for a while. Using spare charm squares from the Eye-spy quilt, and scrap batting too.

close up of matchbox F1 car on coloured fabric swatches. two other cars in the background.
Coloured cars waiting for their parking spaces

I’m using it to practice quilting freemotion quilting, and I am truly rubbish at it. I’ve stitched and unpicked so many times that the cotton is starting to look like tulle, and I have a pile of threads the size of a pelican’s nest on the sewing table. Arrgh! and those threads are getting everywhere! I noticed one caught in my stockings yesterday at work. Whoops!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Something from the archives

This must be one of the first thing I ever stitched, so it must be about 25 years old.
hand stitched needle book
Well worn
I think this is supposed to be flower, possibly as tulip? Snowdrop? I’m not sure whether I got the pattern wrong, or used weird colours (possibly both) but I don’t remember a time when I thought it looked pretty.
Not convinced about the red trim either.
inside of handmade needle book with needles
Delighfully wonky red stitching

I assume I was working with what was available – offcuts and scraps from my mums sewing room, and I do know cross-stitch patterns were nowhere near as available then as they are.
handmade needlebook open with needles
Some of these needles have been in here for years.

It's been in heavy use ever since, and had travelled halfway across the world, so I can’t hate it. 
close up cover handmade needle book interface aida fraying
Although I do think its time for a new one…

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Lesson learned!

Remember that slippy organza?

And my first failed french seam?

Well it's all come together in a "Sewing Solutions" article for Korbond.

Korbond are creating a sewing resource for the tips and techniques that loads of pattern-writers take for granted.

trimming seam allowance
Trimming the seam allowance - lesson learned!
 Like, or instance, sewing a french seam.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Fly away home

I found this on my autumn coat this week:

Crochet flower corsage
Simple little crochet corsage

It’s the very first thing I crocheted, at a course led by Catherine Hirst last year.

The first time I wore it a lady on the Tube kindly told me I had a bug on me.

 close up of ladybrid button on corchet corsage
Ladybird button

It’s not that realistic, though, is it?

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Side tracked

The Boygoblin has started to pretend. Which is lovely, especially when I find him firmly smooshing his stuffed rabbit face-first into the catfood bowl.
Or when he dissolves in heartbreak because he can’t get Andy, his boy doll, into its fiddly little doll-sized sleepsack.
The catfood I’ve just had to get a bit zen about, but the sleepsack? That I can solve.
So last week I pulled some yarn scraps (Cath Kidston Book of Crochet since you ask) and made a good old old-fashioned granny blanket.
Close up of stitches on trad granny crochet blanket
Old style granny blanket
Apart from being doll-sized, its just like the real thing – its as ugly as you’d expect, and catches on little doll toes. DearWife loves it, and says its just like the ones she grew up with.  I won’t be making another one, for pretty much exactly the same reason.

granny crochet doll blanket
Doll sized
And boygoblin? Fewer tears, because he can easily put Andy to bed.  
Doll in bed with granny blanket
Andy's all snuggled in
And then zoom  him around the house.
doll in "bed" in truck walker
Check out those drivers...
Did I mention Andy sleeps in the lorry walker?
tucking the doll into the lorry
All snuggled up on the flat"bed"

blurred toddler running with walker
Fancy a quick nap?