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!

Tuesday 2 May 2017

May Day Catchup

Well April flew by and was surely a month of contrasts! We did have a few sunny days for walking on the beach and even a visit to the local nature reserve.

But there have been plenty of dull, cold and wet days just right for staying in and sewing. I discovered flex frames and gave them a go. I've always wanted to make little coin purses but have been put off those snap frames as they looked rather difficult and I didn't fancy all that glueing.

The flex frame is much easier and suitable for straightforward flat purses or the boxed corner kind. I found a nice pattern in this gorgeous Japanese craft book (don't worry it's the English version).

Anyway, it seems I missed Easter altogether here on the blog but I did enjoy making a few Eastery bits and bobs when I found Manuela's Etsy shop and her cute felties. These chickens were my favourites. I managed to machine stitch them rather than hand stitching as recommended in the pattern.

Okay, I know snails aren't normally an Easter image but they were so cute I couldn't resist! Could you!

The garden has come to life again and is demanding my attention.... rather more attention than I've been able to give and there's a lot of weeding to catch up on!

The trouble with leaving the blog for a month is there is much to catch up on - I think rather more than will fit into one blog post. So I'll finish now and hopefully write a bit more later.

But one more photo from the garden. These little creatures demand feeding every day now as they are busy with courting, nest building, egg laying and brood feeding. They are costing me a small fortune but they give so much pleasure I don't begrudge them one shilling! 

Friday 31 March 2017

Sweetly Stitched

We celebrated Mothering Sunday last weekend here in the UK. My mother is 92 and not in good health so apart from flowers there is nothing she really wants. But I wanted to stitch something for the occasion and as I'd lost my phone case the week before decided to make one.  I based my make on a project for an eyeglasses case in Amy Sinibaldi's Sweetly Stitched Handmades

so I can fit it into the 2017 Sewing Book Challenge over on Instagram. However I have changed the design a bit by decorating the front with some sewing illustration. I've a Pinterest board of mid-century czechoslovakian matchbook labels - such wonderful designs - and adapted this boy and girl to fit in with the Mothers Day theme. I haven't tried to translate but guess these two labels are encouraging a healthy diet but I changed the cabbage into a bunch of flowers and the dish of yogurt(?) into a nice cuppa!

I liked the project so much I just had to try a few more and this time did use Amy's design. Pretty happy with how they turned out. And of course they don't have to be for glasses. My phone fits perfectly into one and I'm sure you can think of other uses - a few sewing notions or crochet hooks for crafting on the go comes to my mind. I like to have a few small items on hand for gifting and these fit the bill nicely.

After all that stitching I awarded myself a Mothers Day treat of a Sunday afternoon walk by the Alwen Reservoir.

After watching an item on BBCs Gardeners World the Friday before I was on the lookout for Lichens and Mosses as I seen lots there before. I wasn't disappointed - just look at those colours!

Then in the evening it was lovely to see that very same area featured on another BBC programme Countryfile.

PS - I found my phone case under a chair a few days later whilst looking for something else!!! Isn't it always the way! 😄

Tuesday 28 February 2017

Post Haste Challenge Bag


On the last day of the month I'm fitting in my single project for the monthly 2017 Sewing Book Challenge over on Instagram. I only managed one challenge make in February - why does this month always seem to fly by so quickly? It is only 2 days shorter than the other months!!

The Long Handled Bag pattern is from Sew Illustrated by Minki Kim and Kristin Esser and is a gift for a sister whose life has suddenly been turned upsidedown - and not in a good way. I'm hoping the cheerful print and gingham will in some way brighten the dark days she is going through at the moment - and also be useful for carrying little comfort essentials on hospital trips.

Although I used the bag pattern straight from the book I changed the surface decoration as I was bowled over by the gorgeous Stitched Rose Bag Minki blogged last week and tried a simplified version of her design. Because I wanted to get the bag finished quickly I used a patchwork "cheater print" from LECIEN I'd been hoarding for a year or so. And I had a large reel of woven braid found in a charity shop which was just the right colours and the perfect width for the handles.

I used stamps for the flower embroidery, though I didn't actually stamp on the fabric but used a light box to trace the outline image on the stamp set's acetate holding sheet straight onto the linen with a Frixon pen.

And I added a bit of colour with Copic markers - if you try this be careful to colour with the lightest touch and pale colours so as to prevent any bleeding over the stitched lines. It all came together very nicely and was finished in one day - though I have to admit rather late in the day! Now I just need to get it to the Post Office post haste!

Friday 10 February 2017

Winter into Spring?

February is here and of course Valentine's Day is all over the place. I don't join in the sending and receiving of cards/gifts on the day but a friend asked me to make a couple of small love tokens for her daughter and a dear friend of her mother's so I turned once again to the wonderful Minki Kim and took my inspiration from her Valentine's Day Tags post.  There's a key ring for the daughter and a bookmark for the friend.  Hope they suit.

I do rather feel this yearly celebration of romance marks a turn in the season - especially as the sun has returned to the very bottom of the garden for an hour or two in the mornings. But of course its still cold and winter may well have something in store for us before we can definitely celebrate spring. However the sunlight on the old brick edging and spying one or two of my resident flock of sparrows with feathers and other nesting materials in their beaks is a cheering sight.

So, I wish all you lovebirds a Happy Valentine's Day next week and trust you will receive the appropriate love token.  When I was young we all hoped for an anonymous card from a secret admirer - I never got one but how times have changed!

Thursday 26 January 2017

Picture taking woes!

I finished another project for the Sewing Book Challenge last week and it was another requested gift - this time to cheer my friend's niece who is at college in far away London and missing her home in North Wales.

Its another make from my favourite Sew Illustration, an embroidered needlebook.  I made a pincushion to match and added the recipient's name.

January is not a good time in my house for taking photos of my makes. Even on sunny days the houses opposite shade my windows. I sometimes add my daylight lamp but for some reason it still doesn't make a decent photo so I usually resort to Windows photo editor. But often even that doesn't produce a photo I'm pleased with.

I had such problems with this photo of two zip purses this week. Even now I'm not happy with it. I think its something to do with the thread I used - a dark one for the duck and light for the lamb. Too much contrast for the camera.  I found inspiration for the little animals in Francoise's lovely book illustrations. I've loved her books for some time and always thought her simple shapes would make good embroidery motifs.  I'll be trying some more.

Anyway - January is almost over and the sun is rising higher in the sky every week. I'm looking forward to the time when it rises above the houses on the other side of the street and will fill my sewing room with light.

Yesterday was sunny and cold - a perfect winter day.  I went for my favourite walk and visited some of my favourite trees. And on the sunny side of the lane the snowdrops were in bloom.

These are always the earliest to flower - those in the garden won't come out for another couple of weeks and by then we'll be half way through February and definitely looking forward to Spring!

Thursday 12 January 2017

2017 - a year for some crafty challenges?

Firstly I want to thank you, Julie, Anja, Yve and Simone, for you kind and encouraging comments on my last post. Especially as I never get round to reciprocating on your blogs, though I do visit honestly! I love you guys! :o)

As always I/we start the new year full of intention and enthusiasm, which usually fizzles out by the end of January.  However I have not made resolutions this year but have signed up for a couple of challenges. I've already mentioned Minki Kim's 2017 Pincushion Sew-a-Long and have so far notched up at least one of each design. There's still a couple of weeks before the end of January when the SAL ends and I know I won't be able to resist a few more - yes they are addictive but what do you do with a mountain of pincushions!

Another challenge I've signed up for will last a bit longer - until the end of 2017 in fact.  Like me Carla Peicheff has a shelf of craft books full of wonderful projects seldom utilised. I have to admit I've at least twice as many volumes on my shelves (well at my great age I expect I've been collecting many more years than Carla!) all of which contain at least one project I've intended to make. So the challenge is to make at least one thing from a book on that shelf each month.

And guess what, I've already made two this month!!! It helps when I have some reason for making and I'd been asked to make for a new baby.  So I dipped into Amy Sinibaldi's lovely book Sweetly Stitched Handmades and made the cute teddy bear nursery cushion and a ruffled bib.  I know only that baby is a girl named Mia so do hope these will be to the parents' taste.

There is one more challenge signed up to and its one I've made for myself.  That is NOT to buy ANY fabric, yarn, or haberdashery in 2017. If you could see my sewing room you would have a fit (sorry - I'm certainly not going to share any photos of it here or anywhere else)! Something needs to be done! So unless I absolutely have to buy something, like plain linen or interfacing or something else absolutely necessary for a particular project, I'm not going to be beguiled into buying that oh-so-pretty fabric, that bargain price yarn or anything else I covet on someone's IG feed or blog or pinterest board.

In fact I started off well in December and made all my Christmas gifts from stuff I already had in my huge stash. These makeup brush travel rolls were made for my often travelling nieces and were created from pieces from my scrap bin and braid that was used to tie sets of teatowels I'd bought at Primark earlier in the year. I did however have to buy the wooden toggle buttons. This project is from another favourite book Sew Illustrated.

Now I've got the bug I'm looking for a couple more challenges to keep me busy.  Let me know if you see a good one.

Sunday 1 January 2017

Happy New Creative Year!

Wishing anyone who reads this a Happy, Creative, Peaceful and above all Safe 2017! Its been a pretty awful year for the world and it hasn't been too good for this blog either. I've toyed with the idea of closing it down but there's so much of my life over the past 8 years recorded here I'm lothed to do it. So I'm going to try a different tack in 2017 and write shorter posts but more of them.

I became infatuated with "sewing illustration" in the second half of 2016 and have even bought myself a new sewing machine for Christmas, one more suited to this style of machine embroidery (I just can't get on with free motion - I need more control!)  So to start off the new year, a new sew-a-long from the wonderful Minki Kim. Want to join in? Here's a link to the details:

Back soon!


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