Monday, January 31, 2011

A new sewing machine in the house!*

This week saw my twins 6th birthday and one thing that had been requested by my little lady was her own sewing machine. I spent a long time on the internet trying to find one, and read lots of reviews from disappointed people who had bought a sewing machine for their child but it either hadn't worked properly, was really only a toy, or as it didn't have a bobbin the stitches didn't hold.

Finally I saw this at John Lewis. It had a bobbin, a finger guard so that little fingers can't get anywhere near the needle, tension, a bobbin winder, and a foot pedal, it looked perfect!

And I have to say when we test drove it it was! It came already threaded which meant we could get going straight away, (but even when we had to rethread it later it was easy to rethread). She got the hang of it straight away (and even managed to pivot on the corners), and because of the clear plastic guard around the needle her fingers weren't in any danger. It only does straight stitch but it also does reverse and has two speeds fast and slow. For £30 I was amazed how well it sewed.

I would definitely recommend this machine for anyone wanting to buy a first machine for their daughter (or son!).

Our first project was a blanket for her little doggie. The only thing now is she wants access to all my lovely fabrics!

*not the Bernina! (Yet....)

Friday, January 28, 2011

I really really really really want a new sewing machine :-)

I have looked at so many lovely quilts on blogland that I have decided this year I am going to step into quilting myself. I don't have a quilting machine yet (just a very very basic old singer) but I hope to upgrade to a quilting machine soon. (Thank you to everyone you answered my questions about different machines lately! I think I am definitely going to go for a Bernina - the best my budget (husband) will allow:-) ).

Anyway, as a little start (and to try and show my husband the marvellous possibilities of the things I could make if only I had a new machine!) I thought I would make a patchwork cushion.

I bought these fabrics on my last trip to Ikea* (I never realized what a good selection they had there and reasonably priced too). I drew out a little design to fit an old cushion I had.
Used my shiny new special quilting ruler and roller cutter to cut out all the squares.

And to finish it off appliqued some hearts on. I hand appliqued them on to finish it off, using the invisible technique in Tildas book Sew Sunny Homestyle.

For the back I used an old cushion back that already had a zip in it.

A really enjoyable project for a grey afternoon tucked up the in my craft room, listening to Radio 4 drinking tea and eating white chocolate buttons..

Off now to drool over Berninas again...

I've love to hear any comments about your machines!

Have a lovely weekend :-)

*just a little note to say the flowery fabrics and the red spot weren't from Ikea, they are CK.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Fairy Ring Pincushion

If you take a look around my craft room you might notice that I have a bit of a thing for toadstools...

At the Knitting and Stitching show in Harrogate last November I saw a beautiful stand by Daisy Chain Designs with some wonderful toadstool inspired pincushions, needlecases and doorstops (plus loads of other brilliant quilty patterns and kits). Seeing all their pretty finished samples I had to purchase the pattern to make one myself. I bought the Fairy Ring Large Green Pincushion pattern and the necessary felts and enjoyed stitching one together this weekend.

Ta da!

(The two little toadstools are little beads I bought ages ago, I knew I'd find the right project for them!)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Aladdins Cave

Last weekend (courtesy of Debs at Two Bones and A Bagel) I read about an antiques centre near me that I had never visited and it sounded like exactly the sort of place I would love.

When I eventually found it (its a bit tucked away) it was! Its a large old building filled with lots of different sellers selling all sorts of things from furniture to knicknacks to books, toys, kitchenalia, linens, patchwork blankets, fabrics, handmade lace... I could go on. Its an aladdin's cave, thus I spent TWO hours there looking at everything. I was so engrossed looking I forgot to photograph anything while I was there, but this is what I bought.

A lovely hand painted butterfly necklace on a long chain.
Some old postcards.
A piece of 50's fabric.
I could have bought more but I was overwhelmed as there was just too much choice! I did have my eye on some printers trays to put on the wall in my craft room, so I might return soon for those!

As I had spent soooo long looking around I only had 20 minutes to kill until leaving for the school pick up, so stopped in TK Max. Can you believe these lovely red (leather!) shoes were only £4!

I treated myself in Next as well to a really comfy skirt (brilliant shirred waist band - I have finally succumbed to comfort first) and big pockets.

Excuse the poor photo (and mess behind!).
And I can't finish without showing you these presents a received this weekend from our lovely friends who came to visit with a totally unexpected belated christmas present to me. I feel very spoilt, but what a lovely start to the week!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Two New Books!

Yesterday a package from Amazon arrived with two new books full of inspiration for a grey Janurary day! I had to wait until the end of the day to have a flick through them and they did not disappoint! Come, sit on the sofa and have a look!

This book looks perfect for me, it has all the projects labelled according to the time they take. So often I only have a couple of hours but want to finish something, there are lots of lovely achievable projects for under 2 hours, (and also 2-4 hours, 4-8 hours, 8 to 12 hours, and more than 12 hours!).
Like these wonderful little coasters,
a super cute pencil roll, I love the colours,
Little Peanut the wee elephant! (A bit longer this one).

And this beautiful tablecloth and napkins (4-8 hours). I've been collecting embroidered tablecloths and napkins for a while now and this looks like just the project for using them.

The colours and the fabrics through this book are just so vibrant, totally gorgeous.

Again smaller projects like pincushions and storage bags, to

this fantastic cuff which I am already thinking of what fabrics I could use and how to customise my own!

To this Fabric Art

plus skirts, bags, quilts, and so many inspirational ideas. I think I had better stop blogging, quietly ignore the housework and start making!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lakes and Cakes

Hello! We've just got back from a long weekend in the Lake District, one of my favourite places. We were there celebrating my husbands 40th birthday.

It always rains whenever we go to the Lakes, and this weekend was no exception, on the first day it was torrential, roads were closed and rivers were bursting. The next day though the sun came out and it subsided and we did some walking, at one of my favourite place Tarn Hows, absolutely beautiful. Just look at the reflections on the still water.

Lots of deep breaths of beautiful fresh air! Its a circular walk around the lake about 1.5 miles, (which is just about the limit of my two five year olds).

This is the money tree where walkers have pushed in coins into the bark, really interesting.

And after any walk you have to have tea and cakes! This is Lucy's in Ambleside well worth a visit if you are ever passing.

Window shopping I saw this made of badges, and thought what a brilliant idea, I might have a go at that one day.

I also found some time for some knitting, this is my second knitting project from Ravelry, The Gaptastic Cowl. I bought some lovely chunky rowan merino yarn and circular needles and got knitting on the drive up.
Its a really simple pattern, cast on 131, and then moss stitch until you get to the width that you like. So far so good! I learnt how to join in the second ball of yarn thanks to a quick check on You Tube, and managed to knit up two balls (out of three) whilst I was away. I am really enjoying knitting this as it knits up so quickly! I will post a picture when its finished!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Scraps'n'bits mobile!

What to do with all those teeny tiny offcuts of lovely fabrics that you can't bring yourself to throw away - make a mobile!

Take an embroidery hoop (I had a broken one waiting to be repurposed!), wind thin strips of fabric around to cover, glue the ends into place.

Thread your lovely bits of fabric onto thread and sew each bit into place on the bottom of the mobile..

... and VOILA!

A pretty mobile made of scraps, lovely pretty bits of fabrics to remind you of all the projects you finished last year! Now find somewhere to hang it to be admired!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Good, better, best

Using this book that I bought just before christmas:

and inspired by the lovely CK knitting bag and needles that my friend had given me as a christmas gift, I spent a few days over the new year period teaching myself how to knit. Compared to crochet I found it incredibly frustrating at first... I seemed to create extra stitches, had holes in my knitting and then seemed to lose the ability to count to 32! What with dropping stitches and trying to pick them up I found it very tricky!

I unpicked many first attempts, this is one of the better ones I kept where I had been practicing basic knit, pearl and ribbing, casting on and off.

I decided I needed a simple first project and the lovely lady in my local wool shop gave me the pattern for these mitts, they were very simple to do and an ideal start to increase my confidence. I used beautiful Debbie Bliss Cashmerino wool, so beautifully touch feely to work with.

And added a few crochet flowers (to hide a couple of wrong stitches!). They aren't entirely perfect but I am very proud of my first knitting attempt.
Today I'm knitting a little scarf and hat for my paper mache creatures, more of that soon!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Julie Arkell inspired creature

I was so lucky for christmas to get a copy of the book I had been after for ages, (but had always found out of stock) Home by Julie Arkell!
I must have picked it up and looked at it every day since christmas, how I love her beautiful creatures. Julie's work is so magical and fasinating, the textiles are so charming and her attention to detail, each creature has their own character and personality often with lovely words and phrases embroidered on. I love that she uses lots of recycled materials, newspaper, books, broken things, and puts them together using papier mache, knitting, embroidery to make things with such homespun charm.

If you don't know her work here are a couple of examples of my favourites.

I know a lot of bloggers out there have been lucky enough to go on one of her workshops and this year I am going on one too, which I am so looking forward to!

As the children went back to school yesterday (hooray!)I spent a little "me" time having a go at making my own JA inspired creature.

I started making the body out of florist wire:

Then the fun paper mache bit! I used pva glue diluted with water. I let her dry between coats, but I think she still needs another coat before I can start being creative with clothes and painting. What fun I can't wait to see how she turns out!