July 17, 2015

A few of my favourite things

Brown paper packages tied up with string, hessian bows and lavender. These are a few of my favourite things. #instagram

July 15, 2015

If you liked it...

Shopping in Cape Town; this made me laugh. #instagram

July 14, 2015

We're back!

We're back! We spent the last month in Cape Town, South Africa. It was amazing. It was the middle of winter but oh look! at the weather! Imagine being stuck in traffic looking at that on the way to work.

We were thoroughly spoilt. Isla met the whole family, played every day, and had almost four whole weeks of time off with us. We discovered that she's mad about dogs, that she loves mango, and her favourite food in the whole wide world is hot chips; especially when enjoyed with one in each hand. Nothing cheered her up like a bowl full of chips and a dog to giggle at.

I had a birthday while back there too: I'm 30! That happened very suddenly indeed. I  may have brought back an entire stash of yarn, along with a few other treats. We had a birthday tea, a night out at a favourite restaurant, and more than a handful of babysitters.

I've only just unpacked, I have thousands of photographs to sort through, and am still getting used to the idea that it is the hottest July that the UK has had in years. Whoop!

For now, I'll leave you with this cutie's cheeky grin. Many, many photographs to come soon. 

June 4, 2015

Geranium Dress, The Second

It's been a while since I've blogged - and it seems like even longer since I've been sewing/crafting/making. I got a bit carried away in deadlines and other unfun things.

Still, there was a bit of time to make another Geranium Dress. This time, for Bellie Boo - a friend's daughter who needed a pretty frock for a Christening Party.

I made the gathered skirt version with ruffle sleeves. 

Ruffles! I used cotton anglaise which was a bit see-through so I added a double skirt, and lined the bodice with hot pink.

I added pink snaps to the back instead of buttons - so much easier. Love the pink on this dress. I used KAM snaps and pliers, I love that they're so sturdy and come in hundreds of different colours. I was skeptical at first but I've used them on dummy chains and they have outlasted the velcro I used for the last batch; impressed.

I hand-stitched the lining in place. It takes so  much longer but is worth it. The front looks neater and the contrast stitching doesn't peek through. That's important when you're stitching hot pink in place on a white background.


Have I mentioned how much I love this pattern? I've already cut out another Geranium Dress for Isla. It's so easy to use this as a base pattern and add on little bits and pieces to make it special - like the double skirt in this version, and the oversized bow I've planned for the next one. 

April 27, 2015

Home Sweet Home, VeryBerry 2015 ATC Swap

I took part in this year's VeryBerry Artist Trading Card swap. The theme was "Home Sweet Home", and the idea is to hand-make a textile trading card to send to a swap partner. We had about a month to get it all made up and posted out - thank goodness.

Here's my card. I first sketched out what I wanted, and then appliqued each of the lovely fabric bits on to the fabric background before hand-stitching details with blanket stitch, running stitch, french knots and lazy daises. I think this is the same vision of "home" that I've been drawing since a child. 

Ta da!

And then, the border. Many, many glass czech seed beads handstitched on with a blanket stitch around the edge of the card. I watched more than a few episodes of MasterChef while doing this.

My swap partner was the lovely Sally of Wonky Patchwork. I was very lucky because I think, from her blog, that we have very similar tastes!

And lo! My ATC arrived in the post this morning.

Isn't it fab? It's from Siân (ButtonsAndPaint) who said that the theme made her look forward to coming home and turning the key in the lock. How wonderful.

I'm looking forward to next year's swap already. 

April 15, 2015

Here comes the sun, and a big floppy baby sun hat

Spring is here. The sun is shining, and we've been walking to the park every day for picnic lunches and playing on the grass. Isla loves the grass.

She has become very wiggly and mobile, and shuffles about even though she's not yet sitting up properly. Sweet girl. There's not a lot of stillness.

Every sunshiney baby need a big floppy sun hat, don't you think?

She has a sun hat, but it has a very modest one-inch brim that doesn't offer much coverage. I finished sewing this one up this morning, based on her existing hat with added panels so it should fit her a bit longer. I also extended the brim to five inches so it would provide cover for her neck and shoulders, and added interfacing to the brim for added floppiness.

The strap was a last-minute addition! We tried it on, and she was so delighted with the hat that she insisted on pulling it down and lifting it up... so in an attempt to keep the hat in place, I added a buttonhole to each side of the hat and threaded through an oversized ribbon that ties under her chin.

Baby approves.

April 5, 2015

Kian's Sporty Play Mat ta da!

An excellent friend of mine has the cutest little boy who is very nearly about to turn one. When he was born, I promised his mum a handmade gift of her choice - something special, I promised - and she asked me to make a sport-themed playmat. It has only taken me 8 months, but it's finally finished. 

It took ages because... well. It's the theme, ya know. Sport. 

I know nothing about sport. I occasionally watch Formula 1 when it is on TV, but only because Graeme has the TV remote. And I'm usually knitting/stitching/doing something else entirely. 

Sport. Uh oh.

There's a football bit: Kian's daddy is a BIG Liverpool supporter.

There's a golf bit: daddy loves golf too. The water bit crinkles.

There's a basketball bit: we wanted to add a bit of colour and the ball squeaks!

And of course, there's a racing car bit. Because our daddy couldn't let a sport-themed playmat leave the house without an obligatory car section. 

And they all come together in quite a cheery, fun quilted playmat that's so much bigger than I thought it was going to be. 

All backed with one of my favourite kids' prints. 

And best of all...

He loved it. 

April 1, 2015

Hoppity Happy Easter! Pom pom bunnies

Happy Easter! We have happy hoppity bunnies, delivering lots of smiles and choccy eggs. Yum. Oh my ears and whiskers - look at those noses! 

And even better, these quick pom pom bunnies are a great stash buster. 1 large pom pom + 1 medium pom pom = 1 very cute little bunny. If you have a pom pom maker, it takes about a minute to make the head and body, and tie them together. Done! Ta da! 

The rest of the bunny is made up from bits and pieces I had in my scraps:  feet and ears cut from wool felt, some little black beads for eyes and a pink bead for a nose, add invisible sewing thread whiskers... and everything is secured in place with a glue gun. Glue guns are amazing.

Don't forget a teeny tiny pom pom for the tail. Every bunny needs a little white pom pom to wiggle.

Ah, those chocolate eggs didn't last long. Bunnies are no good at keeping them safe from me when nobody is looking. Ahem.

March 30, 2015

The Geranium Dress

The whole of blogland is awash with talk of Geraniums -- the dressy kind from blogger Rae of Made By Rae Fame. Geranium is a super-cute and beautifully-fitting pattern for a little girl's dress.

I couldn't not make one. Or at least try. I have made Rae's patterns before and they are so easy to follow and offer a beautiful fit - and this one is only $10, covering sizes 0 to 5T. It's a basic dress bodice and skirt with sleeve variations that you can mix and match to create a zillion dresses for your (*ahem* your daughter's) wardrobe. Isla's already wearing the next size up so I made the  6-12m version.

This little girl is very impressed.
LOOK AT THAT FACE. Aw. There is porridge everywhere, even after I cleaned her all up.

I made a sleeveless View A dress (there are two views, with multiple options to accessorise. Love!).  I made the bodice out of Fabric Freedom Petit Fleur FF27-02 (grey background with pink, mustard and white ferns), and I made the bodice lining and skirt out of a contrasting solid lavender. Both fabrics are from Stitch.

The buttons are from my stash, and just happen to be all matchy-matchy. I have a giant bag of buttons and I pull out handfuls at a time to find some that are the same size (I don't subscribe to the school of thought that believes in matching buttons on a garment), so it was really just kismet that these three happened to be in successive handfuls and were the size I was looking for. 

Can you believe these are my first ever buttonholes in the history of ever? I know. Zips? No problemo. Buttonholes? Excuse me while I hyperventilate about sewing and ripping into my already-constructed garment. 

This pattern is AMAZING and EASY and ALL THINGS WONDERFUL. I really don't like that fastening the buttons makes the skirt cross over a little at the back, but a button placket or a zip would fix that, and is really just an aesthetic preference. The gathered skirt and moving baby do hide the cross-over nicely. 

Easy Sewing Win.

March 15, 2015

Happy Mother's Day, and a Pom Pom Flower tutorial

Happy Mother's Day! We're very lucky, our family gets to celebrate two different "Mother's Days" each year. One for the UK tradition (today) and one for the South African tradition (in May). Because really, there should be a mother's day every month shouldn't there?

To celebrate, we made pom pom flowers. You know, as you do. Especially when your house is more-or-less overrun by pom poms aplenty. Ooh, poofy.

If you don't have pom poms lying around waiting to be made into something fabulous, you can make your own from scratch. There's the tried-and-tested cardboard rings method, or the oh-so-fun instant-pom-pom version using a Clover Pom Pom Maker. Obviously I'm zipping through my scrap yarn with the maker: all you need to do is hold the yarn quadruple (or more if you're feeling reckless) and wrap it around the arches of your preferred size. Cut through the wraps as per instructions, tie up, and you have a pom pom in about 20 seconds. 

I use the green pom pom maker, which is the smaller size from the Large Size pack. Giant ones (the blue one) look great too if you like added fluffiness.

You'll also need some florist wire (or craft wire), green felt, a kebab stick or skewer and green florist tape. You could use paint instead of florist tape, or wrap green yarn tightly around the stick, but the florist tape makes this a super speedy craft and cost me a princely sum of 75p online.

Start off by cutting out a leaf shape from your wool felt. You could do any shape and size you like, but I liked one large floppy leaf (but mostly because I'm lazy and didn't feel like adding lots of little ones along the stem).

Then, thread a length of craft wire through the end of the leaf and bend the wire over so that it's ready to wrap around your stick. 

Once your pom pom is ready,  you'll need to thread a piece of wire through the middle of the pom pom and bring both ends down, ready to wrap around the stick as well.

Push one end of the stick into the middle of the pom pom and secure in place by wrapping the wire down the top bit of the stick. This doesn't have to be neat because you'll cover it up later. Position the leaf about a third of the way down the stick and secure in place by wrapping the wire around again.

Then wrap wrap wrap with florist tape, starting at the top and making your way down to the bottom. Adding this kind of leaf is easy: you'll need to bend the leaf back to get right down to where the wire joins the felt, and then bend it back up and fold it around the stem and start wrapping again.

That's all. Easy peasy. Now, go make some more.

Warning: you may be tempted to use up ALL of your other scraps of yarn and create a huge bunch of long-lasting oofy-poofy flowers.