Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Japanese Potholder/Mug Cosy

Needs must! Today I posted this picture on my Instagram account and foolishly offered the pattern to anyone who would like to try it. I say foolishly as I'd completely overlooked the fact I'd found it in a Japanese craft book and the instructions are, of course, in Japanese!

I managed to work it out from the diagrams but to avoid any disappointment I'm writing the instructions here where anyone can access them. To start with here is a scan of the page which includes the pattern and diagrams:

So first download the image (its a jpg) and print it out on A4 paper ensuring you tell the printer to print actual size. Cut out the paper template. I stuck the paper onto cereal packet card as I made a few potholders and needed something sturdier than paper.  So, now for the instructions:

1.  Cut out 2 fabric semicircles ADDING a seam allowance. I use cotton teatowel sets bought in bargain stores as they are inexpensive and hardwearing and the patterns will co-ordinate. So cut one semicircle in each of the fabrics you choose.  You can makes a few potholders from one teatowel.

2.  Cut one batting semicircle without the seam allowance.  I used a heat resistant batting called Insul Bright that has a metalised film sandwiched between polyester fibres.  You could of course use any other batting/fleece but they may not give the best heat resistance when handling hot saucepan handles etc.

3. Baste/tack the batting to the wrong side of the fabric which is to be the outside of the potholder.  Just around the edge is good enough but not too close to ensure it doesn't get in the way of stitching.

4. Fold the piece in half, right sides together, along the straight edge and pin. Cut a piece of cotton tape about 3" long, fold it in half and slide the folded edge of the tape in next to the centre fold as shown in diagram 1.  This will be the hanging loop at the peak of the potholder.

5. Stitch the seam as shown in diagram 2 (the red line). Use the edge of the batting as a guide.

6.  Stitch the seam in the lining piece leaving a gap for turning as shown in diagram 3.  Press the seam allowance on both pieces to one side.

7. Turn the outer potholder right side out then place the lining piece on top of it so that the two right sides are facing eachother.  Pin the bottom edges together all the way around making sure you align the two perfectly.  The batting will be the bottom layer as shown in diagram 4.

8. Stitch all around as shown in diagram 5 - the red line.

9. Turn the potholder right side out through the gap in the lining seam and use a chopstick or similar to gently push out the pointed top.  Press everything neatly. Handsew the gap closed as shown in diagram 6.

10. Top stitch around the base on the outside to make a neater job. The lining will show a bit on the outside but I think this looks quite nice.  Press again.

And, ta-da! Its finished.  Make another one to co-ordinate or to match.

Of course if you can read Japanese the book probably makes a better job of the instructions than I did!!!  Do say if I've made any mistakes.

If you've not visited my blog before you might notice I haven't written a post for some time.  I kept meaning to but never found the right time.  The last two years have not been happy ones. My Mum died at the end of 2018 and then three months ago we lost my younger sister.  Its the first time I've written that.  In between times our family home of almost 50 years had to be emptied and sold. Hopefully I will get back to blogging in 2020.  I'll try to make it my New Year resolution!

Friday, 8 March 2019

World Book Day 2019

Its World Book Day and the day has been perfect for staying in and reading - wet, windy and grey grey grey! I'm reading these three at the moment. Meadowland and Four Hedges have chapters titled with the months of the year (a genre I especially enjoy), so after reading the March chapters I'll leave them both bookmarked and pick them up again in April.

That leaves "Miss Buncle's Book" which is not a book I would have picked up without the recommendation of the mighty Scott at Furrowed Middlebrow, who in turn pointed me towards an enabling review by Book Snob.  But be warned, once you click over to Furrowed M you may be there for some time and spend even more time searching on line for books and writers you would never have come across otherwise!

Two more minutes of World Book Day to go and I need to get to bed so I can read another chapter before closing my eyes!

Really enjoyed making more bookmarks by the way!

Saturday, 16 February 2019

An Occasional Update - Spring

We're only half way through February but there are signs of spring everywhere - even in my sewing room. I like using old embroidery transfers and this Weldons transfer couldn't be more spring-like could it. I don't actually use the transfer that would be a shame. I photocopy the transfer sheet and then use my lightbox to trace the design onto fabric with an erasable pencil/marker.

Spring is inside and outside - most particularly in the garden. There's nothing like a warmish day in late winter to encourage a bit of spring cleaning - tidying, snipping back and pulling a few weeds. This year I've a lot of transplanting to do too.

The family home is to be sold and the garden turned into a building plot. I cared for the garden for 25 years after my father died but now it will be dug up so I have to save as many plants as I can. First this year have been the snowdrops and they were a success! I know advice is to move them "in the green" but I took a chance and moved them in flower and two weeks later they look like they've always been there! So happy!

And I had to stitch them too - just in case.  The last couple of days I've moved on to crocuses and daffodils.  Not so easy but I'll let you know how I/they get on. They are looking beautiful at the moment.

And so is the country roundabout. I always think it looks its best in Spring sunshine. Something to do with the light.

Its a good year for snowdrops - in abundance on my walk this week but before you know it there will be primroses and violets....... then...... so many plants! There's much to do!

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Not just for Christmas

The inspirational Minki Kim published her second book Diary in Stitches recently.  Its full of design ideas and patterns for the type of small gift I like to make for Christmas fairs at this time of year. I made these Christmassy bookmarks using some of the festive patterns in the book.  A friend gave me some strips of very thick cardboard just right for the inside stiffening and I just cut strips of linen and cotton print to fit and stitched them together.  Its best to do the embroidery before cutting the linen to size.  Use an erasable pen.

These second lot are slightly smaller and don't have the edge stitching.  I do think the edging makes them look for finished so if I make more I'll make them slightly bigger so there's room for the stitching.  Books are the best type of Christmas gift as far as I'm concerned.  I loved to get an annual when I was a child and still enjoy dipping into a long wanted title on Christmas morning..... though usually I've bought it for myself!!!

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Autumn decoration

October is the start of the crafting season - in my life anyway as Christmas isn't far away.  And a change of season is the cue to bring out my autumn decorations.  It seems this autumn's must have is the white mini pumpkin.  They are in all the most beautiful Instagram photos.  I think they may be called Mini Boos but they haven't reached us up here in North Wales.  So I thought to make my own.  Its an easy crochet pattern I found at Plant June and you can make two or three in an evening - well, perhaps crochet one evening and put together the next.  June crocheted her stalks and so did I previously, but for my little white Boos I used a small stick from the garden or a cinnamon stick and a die cut felt leaf hot glued in place.

Next I stitched acorns using this pattern from Tatiana Maximenko.  You might have seen I used her pattern for the mushrooms I photographed for my last post.  Tatiana's patterns are beautiful, simple and photographed in detail to help you in your sewing.  Her stitching is perfect and I must admit it needs time and patience to achieve anywhere near the same results. I need to try a few more as, of course, practise makes perfect - well as perfect as I can get.

My last project was somewhat easier to execute.  I was looking through my pile of Landscape magazine back issues for a cake recipe I remembered - I thought last year.  But I was distracted by the cover of a winter issue featuring decorations using Honesty seedpods.  I'd collected the dried pods earlier in the summer and they were stored in my shed waiting to have their seeds saved for next year.  I sacrificed a few to make these lovely window decorations.  I stuck the seeds to the "silver pennies" with a dot of liquid craft glue and then used the same to glue them into a flower shape.  When the sun shines through the window they light up!

Have you ever noticed the seedpods are three layers thick.  There is a stronger outer layer and inside is the silvery tissue paper thin layer with seeds on each side.  Such a clever design!  Its quite easy to peel the layers apart with your fingers and of course easy for the winds of autumn to separate those layers too and fling the seeds far and wide.  Isn't nature amazing.

Monday, 1 October 2018

Is there anyone out there!

Its the first of October and first thing this moring I walked out into my small garden to take a photo to post on my Instagram account.  The sun had just risen above the hills and lit up this lovely Japanese Anemone, absolutely at its best at the moment.  I decided now was the time to restart my blog.

Its been over a year since I last posted.  I've kept up my Instagram and occasionally my two Facebook pages during this time - they are easy - it only takes a photo and a few words and its done in just a couple of minutes.  Blogging however needs more thought, more words and perhaps more photos.  I need to be in the mood and I haven't been in the mood for all these months.  There are reasons of course, mainly family reasons.  But its a new month and a new start...... well not a new start, just a carrying on of what I considered my online diary since 2009.  I couldn't quite bring myself to let it go altogether, so here we are again.

I'm still crafting whenever I can - sewing is my thing at the moment.

Still watching the wildlife in my small garden and tramping the fields with my camera.


And still enjoying the wild spaces and attractions around me in North Wales.  So nothing much has changed but everything has changed. 

 I'll write it down here from now on and maybe, just maybe someone will read it.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

It's about time......

You know what I'm going to say.... it's about time I updated my blog! Summer has reached its peak and the season is due for a change! Last year was all about turning the jungle outside my back door back into a garden after almost 20 years of neglect. This year my handy handyman suggested the tumbledown shed could be cleared away and a new one built in its place. I quite liked the extremely "distressed" look of what was obviously once a wash-house but after a bit of persuasion I agreed.

And now its all but finished I have to admit I'm very pleased with it and am enjoying having a place to store all the junk that used to live outside my backdoor. And I really like the fact that its been cobbled together with a door found in a reclaim yard for £10, windows are second hand from someone who had had replacements,  the roof changed from corrugated iron to perspex to make the most of evening light, and the corrugated iron put to use as the back wall.

Someone sometime had painted this pretty floral decoration on the door - I would love to know where it came from.

I bought the gorgeous red geraniums from an NGS open garden we visited in July and have even bought some coloured solar lights after vowing I would never go in for garden lighting! But that's okay as they are inside the shed!

At the end of July I met up with my sister in Amsterdam for a short break. We took our lives in our hands walking about the city centre trying to avoid being run down by the bikes, scooters, cars and trams all vying for space on the busy streets.  Much more to my taste, we visited the great windmills at Zaanse Schans, a sort of open air museum, where we also watched clogs being made, resisted buying a pair (!) and bought cheese instead.

Then August has been all about gadding about with my sister visiting from Germany.  We managed a trip out on most days of her visit - we're very lucky to have many places worth visiting close enough for a half day trip. These are just a few.

A dash to the coast to watch the sunset. We found an escaped kite on the shoreline and got it into the sky again. We gave it to a passing family who after a bit of practice, also got it flying.

Port Sunlight in Cheshire was a lovely day out. So many beautiful houses to admire and a wander around the Lady Lever Art Gallery to admire some of my favourite Pre-Raphalite paintings.

And on a warm sunny afternoon we wandered about the beautiful garden at Nantclwyd y Dre, an ancient house restored and open to the public here in town. The garden is a work in progress being recreated by volunteers. Could have stayed there all day!

So with all this roaming around I haven't been that creative. However with Autumn on the way and Christmas looming in the distance I think I'd better start thinking about it!!!

But I haven't completely stayed away from my beloved sewing machine and my hooks. There are always gifts that need making. This one was for my new tablet that had to be bought after the BBC decided not to support iPlayer on my Kindle anymore. I can't manage without iPlayer in the evenings when I need to be at my Mother's house.

I made these two covered notebooks for my sister and her friend who both need to be planning for their retirements. It will be here before they know it - like it was for me!!

And I hooked this summery scarf for a friend's birthday. It was a total copy of one an Instagram friend posted on her feed. I just loved the style and yarn she had used so I'm hoping she thinks imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

And one more photo - I learned how to make these origami flowers and gave them as another birthday gift. Very easy but rather time consuming.

There have been other makes too of course since I last posted, but this will do for now. Its time to look forward not backward and there is much to do!


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