Monday, 25 March 2013

Hey ho skip to my Lou


Spring may not have sprung in quite the way we would expect - but I do seem to have shrugged myself out of my sewing hibernation.  Goodness me - since coming back from holiday I have been in a stupor.  Haven't been able to apply myself at all.  However, my neighbour telling me her foster-child has a birthday soon has got my creative cap on.  With a blue and red bedroom to match in with, I've rummaged through my fabric stash and run up this little pillow.

With the exception of the 14" Ikea pillow inside, the outer is up-cycled.  The red fabrics were cut from pretty dresses I have found at car boot sales for next to nothing (I set my buying limit at £2 - but will only spend this if the dress contains a lot of fabric - more usually 50p or £1), and the denim and check background were once my husband's shirts.


You can find such great detailing on girl's dresses.  I loved the beautiful embroidered hem to this dress.  It's been perfect to make the back envelope opening of the pillow.  The dress was lined - and I cut out a piece slightly shorter to back the pillow and give it more sutstance.  Best of all - it came ready hemmed!   Another little baby dress was cut into for the letter L.  That had a pocket on it with pretty ribbon and broderie anglaise - which embellishes the letter with no effort whatsoever on my part.


This was so quick to make up - and entirely sewn together by machine.  I began by cutting out the red check front as a 14" square.  Realising I'm out of Bondaweb, I grabbed my shearing scissors instead.  There wasn't really any planning involved - apart from knowing I wanted to include the name Lou.  I simply drew the letters straight onto the fabric and cut just inside the lines.  The hearts are random sizes as I folded the little scraps I had left over in half to cut them out.  I couldn't resist adding another piece of the gorgeous embroidered hem to the front.

To hold everything in place I sprayed each piece lightly with temporary adhesive spray.  I love that stuff with a passion - it really is magic, and worth every penny.


I won't pretend that the sewing is neat and precise - it's far from it.  In fact I went a little mad with the machine.  What was going to be a simple whizz around to secure the pieces, turned into a random stitch-fest.  I didn't want to fasten off thread for each shape, so I zig-zagged, and scribbled my way around the pillow using a variety of stitches.  I mean - when else do you ever use any of these stitches?  When I first started going a bit manic with the machine, I thought I'd ruined it - but - I like how it's turned out.  I'm particularly fond of the hearts - where I put the machine into reverse and whizzed to and fro for a zig-zag effect.  I also really like the normal zig zag stitch going randomly over the top.  I'll definitely be doing this again.....  not only is it super quick.....  it's fun too!

The two little gem stones were applied using my "JML gem styler".  Another bargain car boot find - it has been great to add a bit of bling to makes - but sadly I am now nearly out of "stones", and haven't been able to source any. (It was those or a button, as they were needed to disguise a bit of the fabric I'd rucced up by mistake).


Once the front was finished, I layered it up with the envelope back in place and stitched around the very edge to secure.  Then I completed the pillow by adding a binding.  I cut 2" inch strips from a shirt back.  Normally for a pillow I fiddle about with a narrow 1 3/4" binding - but though this denim was soft, it was thicker than I'd normally work with, and so I stuck with the 2" for ease.  I really enjoy adding binding to work, and it is very simple to add a mitred corner.  For my tutorial please click here.  Rather than hand-sew the back in place, I held it down and whizzed around again with the machine.  Okay - so up close it can be seen - but..... it took moments, and anyway - after looking at the work on some of the extortionate pillows on sale in John Lewis - I'm not going to let it bother me!

Sew there we have it .....  a no-fuss, no pins, no tacking, machine zapped pillow complete in around 2 hours.  A unique personalized gift - and for next to nothing too.





Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Love doodling


Today, I've put my sewing aside.  I've finished the top of my bed runner, and have to decide what to back it with.  Instead, I bravely grabbed my sketch book, and attempted to draw something.  I say bravely - as I can't remember the last time I actually did any proper drawing, and I get really cross with myself.  I always know exactly what I want to do, but getting my hand to co-ordinate with my brain is usually a big fail.  My finished doodle-like valentine girl is very simple and naive, but I rather like her.  Currently debating if it would work as an embroidery?  Or dare I try painting onto a canvas?  The result would be tragic, and probably death to the carpet, walls and anything else within splatter distance. 

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Planning a Quilting layout



After much fiddling and generally farting about - this is the layout I've decided on for my bed runner.

I've given up on the idea of puffs......  once I realised how many squares it would take!  I would have been well and truly out of puff by the time I finished.  Does everyone take as long as me to decide on what's going where?  Blimey - if I hadn't been so precious about it, I could have sewn half of it together already.  I'm going to do simple squares.  I don't want to overdo it, and take away from the pretty bedding I want to compliment. (though I may have to add a button or two).

I've worked out that I need 76 x 5 inch squares to make the runner.  It's the closest I can get to the width of a super king quilt - leaving me a couple of inches to do an edging or binding of some sort.  I would love to add a big bobble trim, but the cat would have a field day with it - so that's a no-no.  Plus, anything on the bed has to be capable of chucking in the machine.  Perhaps jumbo ric-rac if I can find a teal colour? 

Amazingly, I cut so many squares for my Puffy Pillow - I had enough for the runner, with some to spare (I must have gone mental with the rotary the other day) - though the choice was running out desperately by the end...... hence lots of jiggling to make it look even.  I've checked, and re-checked and don't think I have any two the same touching diagonally or in the same vertical row.

So - no guessing for what I shall be doing tomorrow.  In the meantime, the door will stay firmly shut, or the cat will be learning how to fly.

 
Couldn't resist taking a pic of this.
Such a dark and dingy day -
It's helping to brighten up the corner of the room.
 
Happy Sewing x

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Puffed up Feathers Pillow


I've got there in the end!  One puffy pillow already for the bed.
 
The puffs were easy to do - and a good trial run for my next project of a bed runner to match.  I actually think the pillow would look better if it was all puffs, but hey - ho - you make and learn.
Here's what I did......


Fabrics collected together.  The finished pillow is 14 inches square. 
Allowing 1/4 inch seams - I cut the centre embroidery at 7.5 inches.
Then 12 different squares of 5 inches each (top)
12 squares of 4 inches (back) cut from old white shirt.
 


There's no need to tack.  Though pins are a must.
Begin by folding each top square in half (wrong sides together)
and run over with an iron at the edges.
 
 
Match up the corners with a backing square.
 


Pinch fold in centre, and fold down flat against the backing square. 
Pin in place, and continue around, bending each fold the same way.
 

 
All squares pinned, placed, and ready to sew.


To join squares together, I carefully unpinned the edges -
pinning them with right sides together.  Stitch.
 


I joined 2 each for the sides, and then the top and bottom row
 

 
then joined sides to centre, and top and bottom.
I included lace simply so that it will match another pillow in a different style.


Time to put the pins away me thinks!
 
Next, as the back won't be seen.... (and being very careful)
 

 
Make a slit in the back of each square.


Stuff (don't overstuff - this was my big mistake -
made it very difficult indeed to finish)
 


Sew each hole shut.  No need to be precious, it will all be hidden.
Simply stopping the stuffing from escaping.
I finished by cutting a 14.5 inch square from the shirt, and sewed around the edges -
just inside the 1/4 inch seam line. 
Neatly covers all seams and the raggy embroidery back.
 

 
Sewing Tip number 1 - always leave WIP upside down,
as you will come back moments later and find it claimed.
Phew.


 
The finished pillow.
 
It would have been a whole lot quicker to finish, had I not overstuffed the puffs.  I really made it difficult for myself to join the envelope back and bind.  It was such a fight to do, that in retrospect, I should have unpicked the holes and pulled some stuffing out. 
 
 I is a numpty.  

 
For the back I have used a 14.5 inch width of polka dot fabric.
I've folded each piece in half to give more structure to the pillow.
Cut to length at roughly 2/3rds of the pillow, for overlap.
I finished the edge with a strip of aqua left over from cutting the front,
and a small band of blue ribbon (barely seen in photo).
 
For the binding, I cut two inch strips of fabric.
Joined on the diagonal, and pressed in half.
This binding is not my finest - as it was so blooming tricky -
but, I'm pretty good at it usually. 
 
For instructions on how to bind properly - see my tutorials
 
 
I think I'm quite pleased with it.  Not really feeling the love as yet, as it's been such a bitch to finish off.  Hopefully it will grow on me.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Ode to AccuQuilt


 
Oh AccuQuilt I need thee, for my back is killing me....
an afternoon of cutting - and I'm sending you a plea!
I've entered every giveaway, alas to no avail -
So desperately I send this rhyme and tell my hopeful tale.
 
I cut with skill, I cut with care - and yet it goes awry...
the ruler slips, the cutter veers - it makes me want to cry.
I waste such precious sewing hours, and strive for sliced perfection.
An AccuQuilt would help attack my massive fabricollection.
 
Oh AccuQuilt please rescue me - from cutting fabric hell,
I need some magic gadgetry (the likes of which you sell).
My husband shirks my buying need.  So sadly I'm unable....
Though I sew a lot, I blog a lot - with perfect space upon my table!
 
So help I cry - please help me please - this cheeky English stitcher,
Forgive me for the begging bowl, but hope you get the picture.
I've read such great AccuQuilt news; through FBook, Tweets and blogs,
It's a desperate attempt to get my own, before I pop my clogs.
 
No matter what the outcome, I shall follow you and pray,
and maybe, yes just maybe - I shall have my own one day.
.....Oh blimey - just imagine - all that cutting out with ease!
Perfect die cut squares of joy - Oh Accuquilt - YES PLEASE.
 

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Gloverly stuff! A finished WIP

Sometimes I amaze myself!
 
For my sheer inability to finish things.  I started these gloves two years ago.
Dragged them out last year - got sidetracked - threw them back in WIP vat.
Yesterday's blog featuring crochet glove patterns got me thinking about them.
 
Dragged them out again.
Finished in 5 minutes!
 
Good grief - I am a numpty.
 

Originally the sleeves after picking up the pieces after a fight between a washing machine and a cashmere jumper.  Guess who won?

The resultant densely felted loveliness was not about to be wasted.  The body of the sweater became a peg bag - which is now much used and in need of replacement.  A shame as I love it - and must remember another time to line with stiff fabric to retain the shape.  And the sleeves were destined to become fingerless mitts.  So simple to do - I simply cut off just below the shoulder seam, and the resulting diagonal made a lovely shaped cuff when turned over. 


After slicing a small hole near the seam for my thumb, I then went around all the raw edges in blanket stitch using a big darning needle.  The yarn I used is pure wool, and was once a beautiful skein.  Until I started trying to find the end.  I have been dealing with spaghetti junction ever since - and by now there are probably about 80 ends in there..... somewhere!  (and this is why I prefer balls of yarn).


For simple decoration, I have attacked my button box and tied them on randomly with two strands of yarn tied in a reef knot.  And then, as I am happiest when fiddling about, continued to add little knot bows.  I think I must have given up when I failed to find an end to the yarn in the jumble!  Hacked a piece out this morning, and was complete in 5 minutes. :)

 
 
As you can see with the two side by side, I have left an unadorned space free for my palms.  Finished result is definitely a one-off - and decidedly quirky, which suits me just fine.  Now to wear them!  I've modelled one on Skinny Bitch in the top photo as ......
  1.   Her nails are in a far better state than mine, and
  2.   Have you tried taking a picture of yourself wearing a glove?
She was remarkably unco-operative, and leaves me wondering how on earth window dressers manage - it's darned difficult to get those limbs to go where you want to, and they have a tendancy to drop off when you least expect.
 
And shhhh..... but I've found a lovely ball of scrumptiously soft merino yarn lurking in a dark place, and hoping it might be just enough to whizz up one of yesterday's patterns.
 
Hmmm - come out little hooks, wherever you are......
     


Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Hooking up for some free wrist action

By golly - it's chilly!
 
Although it's not snowing - it's definitely the weather for protecting the digits.
I'm not sure where mine are - having currently located one glove...... and I'm not as brave as Michael Jackson was to adapt it as a fashion "look". 
Likely to remain with hands jammed firmly into pockets for the forseeable future.
 
Having found these fabulous free crochet patterns though - I feel an urge to get hooking.........
 
Note - you may need to be a Ravelry member to source their patterns.  Well worth signing up as many are free - and you can store any patterns you like in your own "library"  And - if you haven't entered into the world of Ravelry - be warned - you may be lost for some time!  It's a whole world of yarny loveliness.  A group I started some years back now has over 2000 members, and continues to carry on it's Oddballs theme quite merrily.
 
also - remember there is a difference between US and UK crochet terms - the stitches are of course the same, but the name for them is different.  I have to double check every time!


Liking the wrap around style to these, though think they could be a bit longer -
there would be a definite draught between where they end and my coat sleeves begin.
(my fault for having stretch-armstrong style arms)
Loving the style, though I think I would replace the flower with a fabric covered button.
Find the pattern here on Ravelry
 


The yarn has caught my eye with these ..... it's gorgeous.
The stitch looks simple and very quick to work too - these would run up in no time.
The pattern is found on the Bethco blog.
 


What appears to be another variegated yarn -
(don't you love these? no faffing about with joining in different colours)
Very pretty shell pattern too.
Another pattern sourced from Ravelry
 

 
Okay - so these will do nothing to keep you warm -
I've included them as they're simply gawguuss.
Love them - and would also love an occassion to warrant wearing a pair.

Pattern on LionBrand site. 
You need to sign up to access their patterns - but they're all free, and there are oodles of them.
Plus - they don't hassle you with emails for ever more.
 


These are chunky little pretties of loveliness aren't they?
Fab colour too
From the My Favourite Things blog
 

Whilst I'm not feeling the love for the flimmy-flammy bow -
I'm rather taken by the stitch and scalloped edge.
Another pattern from My favourite things

These delightful gloves are quirky enough to be my favourites.
I love them!  And the colours are magnificent.
Like cosy little dragon scales (or crocodile stitch according to pattern)
 
The final spot of wrist waving goes to these pretties.
Liking the length and stitch.
Not sure I would include the white
(for the simple reason they wouldn't stay white for long)
Hmmm - how about sequins instead?
 
 
Feeling the compulsion to crochet?  Yep - me too.  Though before I embark on any of these, I really need to get my act together and finish off embellishing a pair I began 2 years ago. (One has been finished for 2 years - the other probably only needs half an hour of so of fiddling with..... maybe next winter - yes?)  And then there's the granny squares I've been making for...............ever.  But a pair of gloves - I could do that in an evening!  May have to pop into John Lewis and ogle the yarns.  The price alone (for I always manage to lust after the dearest yarns available) should be enough to still the urge.
 
And - if you've never crocheted before.... don't be afraid to give it a go.  I find it so much easier than knitting, and far more relaxing.  There are a wealth of books to learn from now, but probably the best way is to learn from someone by sitting beside them.  Or follow a YouTube tutorial - there's heaps of them available.
 
Happy hooking :)

Absolutely Del-Art-ful

Today I should be doodling.
 
Or more appropriately I should be doing housework...... and then doodling.

Why doodling?    Well - in an effort to structure my crafty life, I enrolled on a course to "Unearth my Creative Nature" - run by Jani Franck  (I believe this course is now closed, but sure there are others to join - do take a peek at the website - it's very interesting and inspiring).   I've thoroughly enjoyed reading the emails, and joining in the facebook group, but have of course done nothing in the right order.  With the course currently on week 3, I am still pootling about the edges and not really doing what I should be from week 1.  I can excuse myself a little, as wasn't sorted out from house move when it began.  There is of course a limit to how long I can blame this for the delay. 

I even wonder if my mind will even function in doodling form?  I think my OCD tendancies struggle to maintain neatness and precision (fails, but tries).  Back in the days of letter writing (anyone remember them?) if I so much as made a mistake on a sheet of paper I would have to start again.  I'm the same with notebooks - can't bear to see an error, and thus have a wonderful collection of virgin stationery which may forever remain unsullied.  How the hell can I doodle?  I think in my whole adult life the only thing I've doodled are crappy flowers and trees that look nothing like trees whilst on the phone.  Why I continually repeat these monstrosities remains a mystery.  Somewhere out there is an analyst who could make a fortune from me. :)

In yet another doodle-delaying tactic, I have been discovering more arty inspiration this morning.  It's so lovely, I thought I would share....... (and then clean.... and then probably take some cake to my neighbours.... and then I may hunt for my sketchbook - possibly as the light fades, when it will be time to start cooking supper).  ha ha!  Oh my - stop waffling woman - let's have a look at some loveliness.......


Isn't this beautiful?  It is indeed so fragile and delicate in it's presentation.
I can't find an original source (sadly) - but tracked back to this tumblr page - where there are other fabulous images.
 
 


If this qualifies as a doodle - I think it's a darling doodle.
This is the sort of doodler I would like to be.
(may have to settle for cock-a-doodle-doo)
Wonderful artwork by Pam Coxwell - click on link to check out her prints for sale
 


Certain I've blogged about this before - but continue to be stunned by the brightness and simplicity.
I think this is done in paper - but would be awesome in fabric.  Like Cathedral window quilting.
And there's buttons too!  Love it.
 


This paper/stitchery collage is gorgeous.
I absolutely love it. 
Naive, utterly charming - and very cleverly done.
by Elaine Hughes - tracked down to this online Gallery.  Her work is divine.
 


This is downright smiley art - and how fantastic for in a studio?
Blimey - in chunky thread - it's near instant art too.
Thinking I could transfer some knitting from my biggest needles onto painted dowel - and then fiddle about with pretty ends!
Sourced from this very pretty Scandinavian (I think) Blog
Get your needles out girls!
 


I'm still thinking doodling! - and isn't this fabulous?
Ooh - I could use the whole box of colouring pencils on something like this
or Sharpies perhaps - as some of those have never had the excitment of being topless.
Can only guess this is the source
 

I am a bit of a button-whore. 
Love them.
Love this art!
Simple - effective - sew my sort of thing.
By Eva Juliet flickr


My final piece to share is this delightful dragonfly. 
It's crying out to be coloured in.  So pretty.
Not sure of the original source - found on this Pinterest page - be warned you may be lost in doodle loveliness for quite some time!
 
 
I hope you've enjoyed today's art.  I could go on for ages, but really must get on and do something else!  If you would like to see more of the art I like - check out my Pinterest page.
 
Toodle-oo and happy doodling :) 

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Vintage Inspiration

I adore vintage photography and artwork - and grab images to keep whenever I see something I like. Thinking along the lines of "I can do something with that one day" - the collection continues to grow.


Why do I love vintage so much? I delight in the charm of the old photography - the faded out delight that is sepia - and the naive pretty colours on old images that were hand coloured before printing. I love the harking back to another era - the clothes, the hair, the apparent gentleness. Most of all - I love the fact that any image over 75 years old is deemed to be royalty free - and is therefore free to use for any project, without the fear of being nabbed for copyright infringement.

Vintage images can be found anywhere! I can spend ages rooting through old postcards in antique and bric a brac shops. They are so cheap to buy, and I think they are simply darling. Some are just perfect to pop inside a frame for instant artwork - and others cry out to be scanned in and re-sized to be using in a sewing project. My French Boudoir Pillow was created from such postcards, along with vintage text sourced from The Graphics Fairy. If you're not already following this amazing source of all things vintage - do add it to your list. It's a must have site for vintage loveliness. 

For adding to sewing projects they are a boon.....  Since I've discovered the possibilities of printing onto fabric using speciality papers - there's no stopping the creativity (to add - I do need to start first though!)  Check out Crafty Computer Paper to see what's available.  their orders arrive really quickly.  Personally, I'm not keen on the Pabric option, as it is quite stiff and I find it un-sew-friendly unless very careful.  The washable cotton and canvas are a delight to work with.  If you intend trying for the first time - I suggest printing a test run on paper first to ensure you are perfectly happy with the result, as the sheets are relatively pricey and you don't want to waste them.  I find though, that with careful spacing - you can fit an awful lot onto one page of magical printable fabricable loveliness!

Today I've found some wonderful new pretties on Pinterest to add to my vintage page. This is just the tip of the iceberg, as I've also got a huge collection on my computer. Shall I share a few of my current favourites........

This little girl is adorable - and the colours are so gentle and pretty. 
Would look delightful included in a pillow or quilt.

 
Though I deplore the colours in this fashion artwork, I think the simplicity would lend itself beautifully to a fabric collage/stitchery combo.

 
These two are simply darling.  Sorry little doggy, but I'm afraid you would be cropped out to concentrate on the "look".  Lovely for anything Valentine themed.


What sewing enthusiast couldn't love this image?  I would like this one straight into a frame or onto a small canvas.  Hmmm - I have a couple of sheets left - must check out the size of the image to see if it's a possibility!
 


Love, love, love the glamour this gorgeous sepia image invokes. 
Imagine - in a vintage silver frame on the dressing table.  Perfect.
Have another vision of a slightly transparent version placed onto an old worn out mirror for shabby chic loveliness.  (and yes, if you're wondering, transparent film makes this a feasible option).
 


Dear beautiful lady - I want to make you into a stitchery (and pray my figure morphs overnight into something like...... wouldn't that be grand?)
 

 
My final offering is this stunning image.  So Arts and Crafts and simply beautiful.
I adore it.
 
After a pleasant interlude delving into the past, I am now rather inspired to make some more vintage themed whatevers!  Quite how I incorporate them into my now modern home remains a mystery - but one I'm determined to solve.
 
I do hope you too have been inspired to start your own vintage collection - and if you've made something, please share with me - I love to see new makes.