Because life’s celebrations shouldn’t cost the Earth

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Sewing World Magazine ~ SewforSoul Feature!

Back to School Zipper Pouch ~ September 2015

September's Sewing World Magazine is in the shops now and features my 'Back to School' owl pencil case and coin purse. 

The main body of the purse was made with vintage fabric salvaged from a bag of rags at my mum's house (her local charity shop collects waste cloth ready for recycling).  She bought most of her fabrics back in the 1970s and 80s although we can't place this piece, does anyone else remember it?

As always, the published article includes full written instructions with easy to follow step-by-step photos;

I'm actually a little bit late blogging this feature as I try to ensure that the school holidays are 'family time', so it's now not long until the next issue of Sewing World Magazine and I'm delighted to see that I've got another two makes being published! 

Monday, 24 August 2015

Beautiful Budapest

August 2015

In our continuing quest to expose the children to a touch of culture we took them to beautiful Budapest.  This stunning city is often referred to as the 'Paris of the East' and it's easy to see why.

The streets are full of artwork and statues, so lots of new friends were made....

Not all of the sculptures are there purely for entertainment, 'The Shoes on the Danube Bank'  by Gyula Pauer are a memorial to the victims of the Holocaust who were forcibly stripped naked and then shot into the river to be washed away.

The sixty pairs of rusted iron shoes are in mixed styles and sizes to reflect that Hungarian Jews of all ages and backgrounds were murdered in this horrific fashion.

When we arrived in Budapest, the city was experiencing some of the worst storms in a generation.  We stayed in the lovely Hotel Palazzo Zichy and had the entire sixth floor (with interconnecting doors) to ourselves, which didn't seem quite so wonderful when we discovered that the storm had knocked out the lifts.  Luckily they were back in service by the next day, unlike the the wi-fi which meant checking work emails was sadly out of the question for Mr Larkin!

Photos from

Whole districts of the city had been left without electricity, including traffic lights and street lamps, so it was slightly chaotic for the first couple of days.  These pictures make the minor breakdown in infrastructure perfectly understandable, especially as it only takes a slight rainfall (or snowfall or the 'wrong' leaves or sun etc) for things to grind to a halt in Britain.  

The weather remained wet and overcast for the first couple of days but we were grateful for the cloud cover as it made walking quite pleasant despite the temperatures still hovering in the mid twenties celsius. Towards the end of the week the sun came out and the heat soared but by then we had seen most of the sights so were happy to sit in street cafes and simply watch the word go by!

Cafe Culture

Taking in the sights

I didn't manage to find any quilting or patchwork shops but the breathtaking roof-line had some that looked like paper-pieced hexi quilts so I was more than happy to take away inspiration rather than fabric!

'Three seasons in one week weather'

We had timed our stay to coincide with the annual St. Stephen's Day celebrations and after enjoying a fantastic day of festivities we bagged ourselves the perfect spot on one of Budapest's newest bridges the Erzsebet hid from which to watch the spectacular firework finale.

St. Stephen's Day celebrations

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Sewing World Magazine ~ SewforSoul Feature!

Front Cover Star ~ August 2015

August's Sewing World Magazine is in the shops now and I'm absolutely delighted that my camper van journal is its cover star! 

The projects in Sewing World are always such high quality, so it really is an honour.  If you haven't read the magazine, do take a look - It's one of my favourites as it has a great mix of features and makes.  Some of the others seem to concentrate on dress-making but I want the fun and quirky projects too!

Camper Van Journal

If you do pick up a copy of the magazine look out for the 'Next Month's Makes' page as I have another project in September's issue......You might recognise my style! 

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

SewforSoul Feature in Reloved Magazine!

Shabby Chic Tin Cans

August's edition of Reloved Magazine is in the shops now and features another SewforSoul project, these upcycled tin cans which I created for our guests at this year's Easter party.

They make fabulous flower vases and are perfect for a country wedding, with guests being able to reuse them as pen pots for a lasting momento of the great day!

They are really easy to produce and can be customised or embellished in hundreds of ways and colours, so get saving your soup and bean cans now!  

Happy Crafting!

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!


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!