Because life’s celebrations shouldn’t cost the Earth

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Keeping Cosy

Hot Weather Crafting!

We're having the hottest weather in a decade here in the UK and I'm sweltering whilst stitching a cafetiere (French Press) cosy and quilt but I'm not about to complain!  


We were given this 'Marks and Spencer' coffee set by a lovely friend earlier this year and Mr. Larkin found the coffee pot to be the perfect size for his desk at work.  My sister-in-law has a big birthday coming up, so I bought another set and stitched her a little personalised cozy to go with it.


It features cute appliquéd versions of traditional British biscuits including Jammy Dodgers, Party Rings, Nice Biscuits and Pink Wafers. These names probably mean nothing to overseas readers but for many Brits they invariably conjure up childhood memories.  Here's a potted history for those not in the know;

'Jammy Dogers' have been an iconic British biscuit for over fifty years, and were originally named after Roger the Dodger from The Beano.  The 'Nice' biscuit is a coconut flavoured delicacy which was first mentioned in an 'Army and Navy Co-operative' price list in 1895. Wafer biscuits have been around even longer and sailors used to be given a basic version as part of their daily rations but the Edinburgh based bakers 'Crawfords' made them sweeter and added bright pink colouring.  'Fox's Party Rings' are an iced fancy created in 1983.

Sweet treats for a sweet sister-in-law!


It's been a busy sewing week, as I've also written two features for upcoming articles in Sewing World Magazine and, in-between times, started my first ever 'proper' quilt!  I kept drooling over the fabulous creations made by all my bloggy friends and thought it high time I finally gave it a go.  I dutifully cut six hundred rectangles and started stitching.  It took just two blocks to discover that a pair of loose weave upcycled linen trousers did not equal a crisp finish!  Undeterred I rummaged in hubby's wardrobe and found an old blue shirt with a (very) worn collar to go with the equally well used duvet set I had already sliced up.  At this point the quilt dimensions shrank as I was only able to get 100 rectangles from the shirt, although this will probably be quite big enough for a first effort.

My big confession is that I am not loving quilting!  It took me hours and hours to starch and prepare the thin and out of shape upcyled fabrics before even beginning to cut the strips.  I then had an afternoon piecing before I got bored - I've got another couple of projects to finish but I guess I'll get back to it by Friday (perhaps).


Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Time flies......

Confirmation Gifts

Last week saw thirty youngsters from our parish receiving the sacrament of Confirmation.  As we attend Mass on a weekly basis the children have known each other from birth - They've also all been in the Catholic school system since the age of five, so they really have grown up together.  Whilst I support my husband and children in their faith by attending church with them, I'm not actually religious myself, so I took a back seat in the whole process but my husband was a sponsor for one of the girls, Anna and her father did the same for George.  To mark the occasion, I stitched Anna up a little 'Dumpling Pouch' along with a matching appliquéd mirror. 


It can be easy as a parent to get caught up in the daily rush of life and I know I don't always take the time to sit back and  reflect upon my children's positive points. Instead I always seem to be constantly nagging about music practice, homework, revision...etc....etc.  However, they are actually really rather lovely and despite our dodgy parenting skills are even growing into decent human beings!  

One of the benefits of having an active faith is becoming part of an amazing extended 'family' and the support that this provides.  For us this also translates into weekends away where, as a group, we rent a holiday property in various stunning locations and thirty to forty of us just kick back and enjoy each other's company (along with lots of good food and alcohol!). We have been doing this for well over a decade and the picture below was taken on last year's jaunt to Robin Hood's Bay.  George is sitting at the front and just behind him is Anna.  At the back is Rebecca who is taking her GCSEs this year and is my daughter's 'God-sister' due to her mum being Alice's Godmother.  Sitting in front of her is Sita who is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.
       

Anna's dad took these pictures and looking at them reminds me of what a wonderful time we always have and this autumn's trip has already been booked!


Girls, unlike boys, are quite easy to buy or make gifts for, but Anna and her family came up trumps and gave George with a lovely print of the Magna Carta which we will now get framed.


The dumpling pouches are quick to stitch up and can be embellished in loads of different ways.  I used this tutorial from Keyka Lou Patterns which I think is the best one out there.  She offers a choice of two sizes and I stitched up the smaller one because it's so cute!






Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Baby Boy Personalised Bunting Tutorial

DIY Appliqued Onesie and Fabric Garland



This week I had the pleasure of stitching up a gift for a newborn baby boy.  He comes from a family who are very talented with a sewing machine and likely to be appreciative of a thrifted and stitched offering!  It cost mere pennies to make, having been created from old curtains, shirts and dresses.  The baby vest is sized 0-3 months and came from a bag of 'hand-me-downs' and will make a perfect little summer sleepsuit......should we actually get any hot weather this year!


I picked out upcycled fabrics in the classic combination of beige, light blue and navy and used a Varsity Font for a less 'babyish' look, thus hopefully prolonging its display life!


Tutorial

The first step is to make a template for your fabric letters and bunting flags. Simply use Microsoft Publisher/Word, or similar software, to create a 14 cm equilateral triangle and then resize your chosen font until the letters fit nicely in the middle of the triangle.  Print onto thin card and cut out.


Now take your card letters and turn them over before tracing around them onto the smooth side of a sheet of Bondaweb.  Iron onto the wrong side of the navy polka-dot fabric and cut out.....They will now be facing the right way round!    Cut the required number of pennant flags from the light blue and beige fabrics, not forgetting to cut out the same number of linings.


Peel the backing paper from your letters and place centrally onto the flag fronts and, once you're happy with the positioning, fix with a hot iron.


Using white thread sew around each of the letters at least twice to create a 'sketchy' feel.  Don't worry if you have a couple of wobbles as this all adds to the appeal of raw edge appliqué!


Place each appliquéd flag onto a triangle cut from your lining fabric, right sides together, and stitch the side seams leaving the top open.   Trim seam allowances and clip the bottom point to reduce bulk. 


Turn the flags right side out and use a chopstick or blunt stick to gently push out the points.  Press and then trim off the little 'ears' at the top of the flags creating a nice straight edge.


We now need to enclose the raw edges, the easiest method is to use pre-made purchased binding or even just fold some ribbon or canvas tape in half - I actually made this binding from one of my hubby's worn out work shirts, it matched the navy of the polka-dot fabric perfectly!

To apply bias-binding, open it out and stitch to the right side of your flags matching up the raw edges at the top.  Carry on sewing whilst placing your flags with an even spacing and leaving at least 10cm of tape at each end for hanging.  Then fold the binding over to the wrong side and catch into position with little hand-stitches, using the machined line as your guide.


This method ensures a neat finish on the right side of the flags with no visible stitching.


All done!


A handmade string of personalised bunting for your special baby!

Bunting is an easy sewing project which can be personalised for any taste.  I chose not to put any 'boy' pictures on this string as boats and tractors are grown out of so quickly, but for girls you can let your imagination, and sewing needle, have free reign!  I created these owl and butterfly versions for the daughters of a dear friend last year;


Should you not trust your appliqué or free-hand machine embroidery skills, you can even upcycle  vintage linens into stunning bunting garlands...


However, hopefully Arthur will be happy with an appliquéd baby-grow as compensation for the lack of pictures on his garland!


For Arthur - A* Baby!


I'll be posting a tutorial for Arthur's appliquéd baby vest as well as this cupcake version shortly;


So keep your eyes open!



Thursday, 11 June 2015

Free Hand Machine Embroidery Treat Box

Buddly Crafts Design Team Makes

Over at the Buddly Crafts Blog the theme this month is 'Handmade Sweet Packaging' and, as the sewing and felting contributor, I whipped up this little free motion embroidered treat box;


It's a perfect project for beginners as it's such a small scale design and if the first one goes wrong you can discard it without too much waste - However, don't forget that a few wobbles are all part of the appeal of raw edge appliqué and free motion embroidery!


The full tutorial can be found here and the wooden display top box is available for purchase in the Buddly Crafts shop.   


A visit to the Buddly Blog, will also reveal these lovely makes by my fellow DT members;


Hand Painted Strawberry Box by Gill


Stencilled Sweetie Box by Kim


Acrylic Heart Box by Kyriakos  


Monday, 1 June 2015

Door Knob Crafts

A couple of weeks ago I was very flattered to be offered a sample of items by Trinca Ferro, specialists in the most gorgeous handles and knobs, suitable for furniture and craft projects.  I immediately whizzed over to their site and chose an eclectic mix of glass and ceramic styles and here they are;  


Aren't they lovely!


They stock a huge range with prices to suit all pockets from £2.30 to £25.00 and most styles cost around the £2.50 - £3.50 mark.  


I'm going to be using four of mine for some display cloches, using my 'Clock to Cloche' tutorial and Alice has her eye on the butterflies for her little antique wooden jewellery box.

But as soon as I saw this cut glass one I knew it would perfectly compliment my collection of Edwardian mother of pearl buttons, which were previously stored in a boring jam jar and I was right;


I simply spray painted the jar lid black and then drilled a hole in the top using my trusty Dremel hand drill.


 The cut glass knob just screwed in using the fittings supplied.


 Perfect for vintage treasures!


They would also look gogeous on a dressing room table in your boudoir!




Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Felt Camper Van Keyring Tutorial

DIY Felt Combi Van Key Chain

These adorable felt key rings are sew easy to stitch up!  They require only the tiniest amount of materials and make equally perfect bag charms or luggage tags.


Even better, they stitch up in less than an hour and are great gift ideas for your 'difficult to buy for' relatives! 


 


I infused the backing felt on this little car appliqué with essential oils and it now hangs in hubby's car as a cute air freshener!

Tutorial

Supplies

Felt
Coloured fabric
Scrap of denim
'Bondaweb' (fusible web)
Ribbon
Split ring
Black thread

1.  Begin by drawing a template, simple shapes are best and suitable motifs include owls, flowers and hearts. If you doubt your drawing skills you can even download digi-stamps as templates.  I stitched up the car and cupcake using stamps by the very talented Wendy Massey over at Handmade Harbour.


2.  Trace your design onto 'Bondaweb' or other fusible web, iron onto the reverse side of your fabric scraps and then cut out neatly.


3.  Lightly mark the windscreen wipers and 'VW' logo with a pencil.  Now arrange the pieces into position on your backing felt and then carefully fix into place with your iron.


3.  Trim the felt at the top of your design and then lay onto a scrap of denim or other hardwearing fabric.  Fold a short length of ribbon in half and tuck between the two layers.  Now comes the fun part!  Machine around the appliqué pieces at least twice using black thread and aiming for a 'sketch-like' feel.  It doesn't even matter if your stitching is a bit wobbly as this all adds to the appeal of raw edge appliqué and free-motion embroidery!


4.  Now closely trim around your design using a small pair of embroidery scissors.  Finally thread onto a metal split-ring and that's it......See I told you it was easy!

Have fun making your own for Father's Day, Christmas stocking fillers, fund raising, etc. etc....

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Altered Peat Pots

Oh So Shabby Chic!


I was so pleased with how my shabby chic tin cans turned out (full tutorial here) that I decided to make some more but the only member of our family to eat canned food is the cat and I didn't have enough empties to hand.  So I turned to the internet for alternatives....... 


......and saw these stunning altered peat pots.


I really wanted mine to have an aged look, with the lace forming an integral part of the design rather than appearing 'stuck on', so I used Powertex fabric hardener. This brilliant product allows fabric to be set solid into any position whilst still allowing the original colour and texture to show through. 


The lace will be permanently fixed into soft ruffles with an application of  Powertex.


Once the Powertex was dry I sponged the pots with gentle shades of cream and white, allowing the paint to crackle between coats.  The lace really does look part of the pot and has the feel of antique ceramics or pottery.  


Peat pots are ridiculously cheap, I purchased mine in a pack of thirty from our local 'Everything for a Pound' store! 


I had such fun altering these and whilst I used the lace the possibilities are endless, what about twine, raffia, pearls, gems, glitter...etc...etc?!

The pots are featured over at the Buddy Crafts Blog, where you can also find other fabulous Powertex projects.