Monday, 26 December 2011

Nearly finished Christmas quilt and next projects!

So here is the nearly finished Christmas quilt, I'm quite happy with it so far and showed it to Mam today and she loves it so I am really really, really pleased.  It will have red binding and I will quilt in straight lines, maybe stitch in the ditch but I am undecided as my stitching tends to hop in and out of the ditch. I don't find it especially easy. Hopefully I can finish it the first week back in January.

Next project is a  Travel photo frame  as JJ is going away to work and mentioned taking a photograph of  little E. I think it could be a difficult few months with him away from home so much but I am sure we will manage. Although Little E was restless and not quite himself when JJ went away on a training course recently and that was only for a week. Still this cute frame can go with him and sit beside his bedside.

Besides that Sister in Laws new baby is due in January and so I will need to get on with appliquing some onsies and perhaps a picture for the nursery....I an mulling over some ideas.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Christmas Catchup!

It has been a lovely (if rainy) day, a big family lunch, good company and Little E and his cousin B running around playing hide and seek and far more interested in that than their presents.  The open fire going (Mam only sets the fire at Christmas), Other Half made the dinner, a little stressed out  but it tasted great, sprouts got burned but that tends to happen when you turn the hob on with no water in the pan,  sprouts was my job. I have no defence. Karin who came to lunch brought a gingerbread cottage which apparently is a tradition in her country (Estonia) but it was the first one she had made so pretty impressive don't you think? Little E is now flat out snoring peacefully and making me worry that it could be a sleepless night.......

On the whole it's been a mild December and we have had several trips to the beach, it has been hard to believe it is Winter at all! Many happy afternoons chasing birds and finding shells on the shoreline.

I completed one 'Ben and Holly' themed bunting made for a little girl we know....well a Holly from 'Ben and Holly' themed bunting really, the Ben applique went missing in the Christmas chaos  and was replaced by a flower. Hopefully it has been well received, wonky stitching and all!

The Christmas quilt  for Mam, yes it was optimistic to expect to finish it but the top is mostly pieced and I am hoping to pin it together tomorrow morning so I have something to show her.

The advent calendar was completed, picture to follow and Little E soon cottoned onto the chocolates inside.

Happy Christmas! Give the sewing machine a well earned break today!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Christmas Sewing: Advent Calendar

So you would be forgiven for thinking this is not actually a blog about sewing such has been the content of late. But enough frippery. Actually you can never have too much frippery. Frippery is a much under-rated thing. But even so, I have now started my advent calendar for Little E. I have a Riley Blake charm pack (called Christmas Candy) I am using. I can just about get two sides of a boot cut out from each charm and here is the link to the fabulous tutorial.

I've abandoned the pink ones, too girlie.

Its a bit more fiddly than it looks to an inexperienced sewer like me.  I have made 4 bootees so far, two were really awful (you can't really tell from the pic) and two were fine. The numbers I chose to sew up that were fine were 23rd December and 25th December.  I was then reliably informed there is no 25th December on an advent calendar so I actually only have one completed bootee.  

Bah Humbug. 

What can I say, deprived childhood, we didn't have advent calendars.

It might have made sense to start with 1st December but I thought all the really lame bootees would be at the beginning of the month and as I get better the good ones will be at the end. So I thought it might be better to spread the lame boots throughout the calendar rather than bunching them up together so they could happily bask in the reflected glory of the better looking bootees. I hope you can follow the logic. I suppose they are stockings not bootees. But anyway. I should tell you that despite being cut out from the same template, they have a only a passing resemblance to each other once sewn up......

Somewhat ambitiously, I also have the fabric for a lap quilt for my mum for Christmas. I am keeping it fairly simple as time is short. The charm pack is called Flurry. Fingers crossed I won't be up sewing at midnight on Christmas Eve. (I think we both know I will but hopefully it will be in a haze of Eggnog or Baileys or some other drink that only comes out at Christmas).

We also seem to be squeezing as much beach time out of the continuing mild weather as possible.  Although Little E's penchant for jumping in puddles (rockpools) a la Peppa Pig may necessitate some new Wellies and a full wetsuit in due course.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Listography: Five famous folk I used to fancy as a teenager....

So I've paid a visit to Meanyjar and Kate's list of their top 5 teenage crushes and decided to take part in my first listography. So after a great deal of thought here's my Teenage Kicks....

1. Max Zorin (Christopher Walken) in View To a Kill
Definately one of the first to float my boat.....not sure why,  he was evil in this film, ruthless baddies are not usually my thing.  

2. Morten Harket AHa
Just Lovely! I'm standing by this one. I still would.

3. Surely this pair only count as 1? Jon Bon Jovi and Joey Tempest of Europe.
This pair adorned my walls as a teenager.  Greasy long haired rockers were the order of the day.

4. Aye Blossom, its Christopher Lambert in Highlander.
The intense stare, and more lank, long hair. 

5. Tom Selleck
An oldie and a goodie. Not to mention pass master of the cookie duster. 
I know Tom appears on a few peoples list but I am sure I can't be a lone in my teenage adoration for the others ? Surely?!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

So that was Halloween...

....all the build up, all the anticipation.

And I was ill.

I felt really rough, laid low with some kind of virus pretty much from Thursday evening and still feeling the effects. Several times JJ said 'are you sure you are up to doing this party?' and each time the answer 'of course, of course' (I was in denial, I am almost never ill). On the day I was like the cold, clammy, walking dead so that was appropriate if nothing else. My neice's flight was delayed several hours from New York and everyone was late turning up. I gave up trying to make the spider cake topper and the halloween cake pops and the botched Toffee apples ended up in the bin.

On the up side, the kids enjoyed it , even if Little E refused to don his spider outfit for more than a few moments, they made halloween cards and decorated halloween cakes. The gingerdead men were pretty good, if not entirely like the picture on the packet (when are they ever?!)and the cake inspired by Snowybliss tasted great although was also a little lacking in the looks department but not being the superficial types we woofed it down anyway.

Pretty subdued Halloween decor I think.
Littel E: Candles are for blowing out!

The kids cakes they decorated. They shunned the idea of spider cakes with liquorice legs and had their own creative ideas.  Mostly this involved putting everything they had on the cakes.
More is always more in children's world!

Spider cake with a birthday candle

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The Witching Hour approaches......

So it turns out my mother is not that keen on Halloween but will be donning a witches hat at our party to get into the 'spirit' of things. We never celebrated Halloween as children,  although it just wasn't as big a deal then. And I have never been keen on the trick or treating aspect mainly as it is often adopted by teenagers.  Opening the door repeatedly to a group of near-adults who have turned up in slipknot masks and are demanding money with menaces is not my idea of funtimes. They haven't generally rocked up for the gingerbread men.  Do I sound like a miserable sod? I am not honestly! Little nippers are always welcome!

Halloween was a Celtic celebration of summers end and the hope for  mild winter. Of course, there is the evil spirits bit , which inspires the dressing up and where the Celts thought people 'you done wrong' can come back from the 'other side' and haunt you.  There was animal sacrificing to appease the gods (plural) so I imagine you can file that under 'W' for 'Worshipping false idols'.  I expect this is one of the reasons some Christians object the celebrations.

For me it just an excuse for a dress up party which my niece usually hosts but as she is in New York until Saturday I have stepped into her witchy, pointy shoes.  I am hosting it on Sunday (a day early, easier with the children) and as its so close to Little E's birthday I'm tying them in together. I've appliqued an old t-shirt with a pumpkin (see below) and bought some stripey tights and a stripy witches hat.  Lttle E and Cousin B will be in shop bought affairs, what can I say there's only so many hours in the day for sewing and I have toffee apples and cakes to make and pumpkins to carve and scarey red bubbly stuff to brew up! (although if I had time I would definitely be rustling up the bat costume over at MADE.) I can't wait!

Backward, turn backward,
O Time, in your flight
make me a child again
just for to-night!

~Elizabeth Akers Allen

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Sun = Summer

This must be a British thing, a law I expect. There is a pretty crispy wind blowing sideways across the beach but the sky is blue and the sun is out so therefore it must still be summer. Don't let your goosebumps and wind-watery eyes fool you. You must disrobe immediately and let your body crack on with generating some vitamin D.....

We weren't so sure, Little E had his fleece and hat on at the beach this weekend, but as well as an assortment of skimpily dressed individuals wearing cheesecloth and sandals and exposing their fading tan lines, we even spied one little fella with absolutely nothing on! Not a stitch.

Pretending it is summer when the sun comes out is most definately a proud trait of being British. I wouldn't be a bit suprised if it featured somewhere in the British Immigration Test.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Halloween planner: Polka Dot cake & GingerDead Men

So I have decided we will go to the local play Farm on Little E's actual birthday and have a family only Halloween party on, well, Halloween so he can get together with his cousin and play dress up.  

I saw this cake over at Snowybliss and I am in love! (great staging too!) I even contemplated buying the 'Babycakes' cake pop maker used in the recipe, which only seems to be available in the States.  However since its about £40 in postage alone I think I'll wait for someone to import these bad boys for me. Though fantastically cute they are not essential and you can make cake pops without one (which comprise the 'polka's' in the cake).  Have I been living in a bubble? I've never heard of cake pops and they seem to be everywhere. Anyway Little E is as keen on spiders as he is on Bob the Builder at the moment so I think he would like this as a birthday cake!

I am also feeling the love for this funny cookie cutter and so I bought one.  We will see if they look as cute as the picture, I think they will be nice Halloween gifts wrapped in cellophane with coloured ribbon.

Little E's birthday is not too far off now so I really should get my skates on and make a plan that comprises more than cakes and biscuits....

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Quilts number 2 and 3?

I am liking the look of these retro inspired designs called Children at Play by Sarah Jane. There is another little girl on the way for our family and she is due in January. I am a bit unsure because her Mummy who is also my lovely sister-in-law is not a fan of all things homemade! 

I particularly like the pinwheels. There was a nice tutorial in Handmade Living magazine to make little pinwheels as brooches or decorations, I am sure these could be incorporated into the quilt or a matching cushion or even cot mobile. I'm thinking about it....

Whilst looking for a pic of Handmade Living I found a free download of the first issue.  Here is the link .  There are lots of great new magazines out there, I've just finished a subscription to Making and started one to Craftseller. Are these magazines a response to our materialistic lifestyles? A crafty quest for a simpler life with more value? Thats probably a question for another post.

Anyway, quilts. I also have a Soul Blossoms charm pack which I thought I would make a garden inspired lap quilt with either for my mum or for my sister for Christmas. So thats quite a lot to fit in, should I decide to attempt both! 

Let the stress commence! ;) 

Friday, 7 October 2011

Brecon Beacons break

So after the frantic quilting we had a few days away with my mum and son in Brecon.  We stayed at Brynich Cottages which was very lovely and only a couple of miles walk along the canal to Brecon itself. The cottages are run by Becca and Mark and guarded by the very noisy, watchful (and harmless to children they assured me) dog, Ianto. We also got to visit the chickens and spend an hour in the softplay area which is on site. Perfect for when the weather is not perfect. Although apart from the day we went on the mountain railway, the weather was good and the area very beautiful. Mum and I had a chance to chat (strange as it seems, we see each other most days and manage to not really talk because the days seem a bit full on). Cake was eaten and we visited St Marys for coffee where Little E 'appropriated' a couple of wooden cars from the church.  I don't know what the penalty is for stealing from the House of God but not wanting to find out we returned them the next day. I am not sure how religious I am but I do like churches. I particularly liked one of the stained glass windows in St Marys. The colours and light are fantastic.

After our canal walk we even made a 'nature table', with Autumn leaves and pine cones, it lived only briefly before Little E dispersed them about the room. I am a bit obsessed with nature tables on account of having read too many creative parenting books.

I also had time to think about my next project(s), more about those later.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Ironman Wales on Channel 4

So I should be packing my case for a few days in Brecon for my Mums birthday but I've been distracted by the Ironman Wales coverage - it was on yesterday on Channel 4 but you can watch online here .

Completely captures the spirit of the day! And a great showcase for Pembrokeshire.
I wish my Dad was still here, a committed athlete all his life, he would have loved it.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Alice Day!

So here is the finished article! (Not so different to the other shot on the line) It took a few hours to hand sew the binding, mostly in the car until Little E woke up. Turns out I do requests now and he wanted me to sing 'Wind the Bobbin on'.  Very appropriate. So another hour or so this morning and Voila! and into the washing machine it went on a gentle wash. And it came out without having shrunk to dolls house proportions so happy, happy day!

The wonky, bunchy stitching on the bottom!

Nonetheless, I have my happy face on. Its all folded up in its gift bag ready to go to its new home.

To add to the above we are now back from spending several hours with Alice and she is beautiful and small and seems very, very content, Little E was quite gentle with her and not at all jealous of me holding her.  I think she may have Johns brow and Beckas chin and holding her lovely little self made me quite broody........Becka looks entirely fab and we didn't see John because he was off playing a gig in Southampton so it seems all is good and relaxed in the house of family Alice.

Becka liked the quilt too! She didn't mind the wonky bottom and what is more I sneaked a look at the green nursery and can confirm that the quilt would be great in there! I didn't get round to finishing a cushion to go with it and I completely forgot the fabric gift tag too (but I think I got away with that as  hadn't mentioned them to anyone else!). I've been channelling the spirit of a headless chicken for the last week......time to relax.

Last day of quilt making! Off to see Alice!

So I have slept on it, not literally of course, (its tiny and that would be ridiculous) and the wonky stitching on the back gave me nightmares but now I am looking at it again I still like the front, wonky stitching and all. Mum arrived and decided the major wonky seam on the back was glaringly noticeable (even amongst all the other wonky seams) so she upicked it and I resewed it and using a bit of jiggery pokery so it doesn't look nearly so bad.  I've done the stitching in the opposite direction and used this fab tutorial to attach the binding.  I will be sewing the reverse side of the binding on the journey down south in the car - often a journey devoted to sewing and the only opportunity for uninterrupted sewing since Little E came along. Provided he is asleep of course otherwise it is four hours of singing the Wheels on the Bus.....anyway here is a look at the nearly finished quilt. I quite like it, I am quite pleased! (Not the back of course , its a shame its not a little better) but for a first, far from perfect go, I like it.

Yes I am happy.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

The Actual Scary Quilting......

Oh for goodness sake! How hard is quilting!?!

Its like some kind of self inflicted torture, why have I done this to myself? Ha ha! Thats me laughing on the inside, very deep down and quietly. Silent laughing you might say. No outward signs of mirth at all. OK I will stop now.

And I've only quilted in one direction so I have the other direction to look forward to tomorrow. Ok, the top still looks passable which is the most important thing but the bottom is not so good....what I feared would happen has,  the straight line of fabric does not line up with the quilt seams in a very obvious and big way. I am prepared to suspend final judgement at the moment and hope that when its all neatly bound it will look OK.  Everyones first quilt is full of wonky seams right?!

I am not ready to concede defeat just yet!

Two days to finish quilt!

So I am running  behind a bit here, the blanket stitch on the lettering is done - its less than perfect but OK I think overall. Hopefully Becka and baby are more into the 'handmade home' look than a haute couture finish otherwise we are stuffed. I have fitted the walking foot to the machine (a scientific endeavour all of its own if you need a clue there is some great instructions here ) and re-pinned the backing, batting and quilt top together.  

I know I should probably leave this flat somewhere but having a two year old running wild makes it difficult. So it will be all go tonight on the actual scary quilting. Then the binding and then hopefully it will go in the washing machine and won't come out the size of a handkerchief.......Who knew the gentle art of quilting was so stressful! I fully anticipate a jaunt to and from the planet freak out tonight to converse with the inhabitants in a high pitched voice otherwise only audible to dogs. Arrrrrghhhhh!

Monday, 26 September 2011

Three days to finish the quilt!

So, there is 3 days until we pack up the car and go to see pressure then! 

Here is 'Alice' appliqued onto the quilt using bondaweb....I've decided to add it to the quilt before quilting because rather than quilting in straight lines 2 inches apart as per the pattern I am quilting in horizontal and vertical lines joining up the light green sections which means the lines should only cross the name vertically in two tram lines - we will see! I am doing a blanket stitch in white around all the letters to secure them and hopefully they won't fray too much when washed.

This is the back of the quilt modelled by Little E. As I said in an earlier post all the additions to the pattern meant the back was no no longer big enough for the quilt so I added a plain green strip up the back to add width.I got as far as pinning it all together for quilting before deciding I wanted to applique the name on first and so had to unpin it all. I used a font called cooper black which is a particular favourite of mine for children's items being a nice chunky font. It puts me in mind of a 1970's jeans logo which I thought was Lee Cooper but isn't.


So tomorrow blanket stitch and actual scary quilting!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Bunting Queen!

No I haven't interrupted the frantic quilt making to start a new project, they are just running a bunting competition in Craftseller this month which has caught my eye.  The prize means you get featured in the magazine and win vouchers to spend in Hobbycraft. As 90% of what I have made since getting my sewing machine last year comprises bunting for birthdays and newborn babies it does seem they are calling me by name to the mothership.

This is bunting I made for a new born girl called Ida May.  I like to add applique relevant to what the little ones like or to suit the occasion, so birds, pirates, horses and cupcakes with candles have all featured.

Well you never know. You've got to be in to win it!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Thoughtful (and speedy!) stitching...

Despite the grey weather we had a nice trip to the beach this weekend. Liitle E found some things I thought we could take home and arrange in a 'nature table' to remind us of our day and to add to on other nature outings. Very creative I thought. 

Unfortunately Little E had other ideas and lobbed them over a bridge into a stream on the way back to the car.

In other news Becka has given birth to a beautiful baby girl called Alice weighing 5lbs 8 oz! John rang us yesterday to tell us the wonderful news and sent us a lovely picture too.

This also means its time to totally freak out on the quilt, sew, sew like the wind!
The arrival of baby Alice got me thinking about little E's arrival. A lovely lady who lives two doors down from me made a Peter Rabbit quilt out of the blue when he was born. We hadn't exchanged more than a few words then but I was so touched over the time and trouble she had gone to for us. Since then we have become friends and I visit most weeks for a gossip and a bit of crafty chat. She was 80 last year and has been quilting for many years and she doesn't laugh at my beginners questions. Of course I have yet to show her any finished work!
By coincidence another family friend made a quilt for Little E which was also Peter Rabbit. 

So many thoughtful people around us willing to make so much effort to  celebrate a new little life. All that thoughtful stitching. Welcome to the World Baby Alice! xxx