Sunday, 27 November 2011

Rockin' Robin

I had one of those longed-for days on Friday where I had the whole day at my disposal for sewing. So I put the time to good use by getting stock ready for my stall next weekend.

I have some felt decorations already made, but wanted to try my hand at some robins too, especially as I still had some lovely fabric left over from a bundle from Fabric Rehab.

The Demonic Pincushion was my first attempt at a robin, using a pattern from a magazine. I didn't think it really worked as a tree decoration, and anyway the pattern was not for commercial use. However I did like the fabric combination I had chosen so I set out to make my own simple pattern. The robin is stuffed with a little polyester toy stuffing and decorated with a yellow felt beak and sequins for eyes.

I was initially a little concerned that the bird was looking a little more chicken-like than robin, but once the stuffing was in I was much more happy with the result. Once satisfied with the prototype I set up a bit of a production line to make a little batch for the stall.  Doing each stage in one go (i.e. cutting fabric for 10 robins, then doing all the pinning, then the sewing etc) does make the process a lot quicker than making one item at a time.  There was a bit of hand-stitching at the end to close up the seam, as well as adding the sequins.

My stock list for the stall currently looks like this: felt decorations, patchwork stockings, fabric robins, little pudding badges, mini bags and shopping bags, purses in varying sizes and a few retro-style aprons. Should be enough to fill my section of the table.

Now I just have to get my act together and bulk buy mince pies and mulled wine for our hordes of hungry punters...

Tuesday, 22 November 2011


Knitting - a good thing about winter...
I was having coffee with a friend this morning and she happened to mention that she'd been reading my blog (blush) and we were laughing about the wording that I'd used to describe myself in the 'about me' section. However, I have to admit that the 'old hag' part of my personality is definitely uppermost at the moment, as the shortening days of winter make me really grumpy and I'm feeling a strong urge to pull the covers over my head and not come out until spring.

But of course I can't, so today I've been trying to think of enjoyable things to get me through this miserable part of the year. On the internet somewhere there's probably a list of '10 Steps to Happiness', I think it includes things like growing stuff and seeing friends. If I was more organised I would look it up but I'm typing against the clock trying to get this post finished before the snoozing child in the buggy wakes up... So, my list:

1. Sleep - I am even more grumpy when short on sleep, so I'm having plenty of early nights, often not long after the children. My youngest wakes for the day at around 5.30am so early nights are also a matter of survival.

2. Reading - I have been devouring novels recently as TV is by and large rubbish. I have a Kindle and also been frequent visitor at the local library. Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie novels are great for curling up on the sofa with.

3. Knitting - I can never get into knitting in the summer, feels wrong to have wool in my lap when it's warm and sunny. But in the winter I find it really soothing, and I have some great yarn from the Sock Yarn Shop calling to me - but at the moment all making time is dedicated to Christmas Fayre products, so the socks will have to wait.

4. Growing things - I impulse bought some hyacinth bulbs from the greengrocers last week and have them on the kitchen window sill. They smell amazing and it's lovely to have something growing in the house.

5. Craft Night - Whilst it's great talking to people on the internet about craft and other stuff, it's even better to do it face-to-face. A couple of friends and I have a regular craft night every 3-4 weeks and although I often can't face dragging myself out of the door I'm always really glad that I did. We all take a current project to work on and sit and chat over tea and biscuits (we may daringly have a little mulled wine at the pre-Christmas meet...)

So those are my winter treats - what are yours?

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Little Puddings

I'm helping to organise a Christmas Fayre (got to have the 'y' in there...) at my local community centre on Sunday 4th December. I'll be sharing a stall with some friends so trying to get some bits and pieces ready.

Today I have working on these little felt Christmas puddings which I'm planning to make into badges (when does a badge become a brooch? not sure...). They are quite quick to make but I'm pleased with the effect. You can't really see it on the photo but the white felt is slightly glittery - love a bit of glitter, especially at Christmas.

The puddings are hand-stitched and are padded with a little toy stuffing to make them a bit more three dimensional. I need to buy some more red sequins as I'm running low.  I've nearly finished another patchwork stocking and want to make more.  Combined with some felt tree decorations, a bit of bunting and some denim bags from my stash, I think this will fill my corner of the table...

Monday, 14 November 2011

Why I make stuff...

Last week I bought a new mobile phone. As it involved signing up for a contract there was the obligatory box ticking exercise where my employment status was called into question. It was a choice between 'Unemployed' or 'Housewife', neither term appealed much or represented what I actually do all day. On other forms I am described as SAHP (stay at home parent) which I flippantly reject as I don't spend that much time actually in the house with the children...

This is not a parenting blog, but a post on the excellent Free Your Parenting has had me musing about the nature of parenting small children and finding time for yourself. And it got me thinking that the main reason I am determined to create things (and why I write this blog) is because it is something that I do for me as a person.

Whilst I absolutely believe that being around for my children's early years is A Good Thing, the day-to-day intensity of being with them is sometimes overwhelming. So many of the things that I do for them are mundane and repetitive. I am constantly preparing meals, snacks and drinks. I wipe bottoms. I wash hands constantly (mine and theirs) I sing songs. I have the same conversation on the merits of next door's cat over and over again. I read their favourite books again and again until I can recite them by heart. I break up fights using negotiation skills that would put Ban Ki-Moon to shame. You get the picture...

When I'm sewing I call the shots. I love the colours and textures of fabrics, finding the right combinations. I love working out how to best to make something. Things don't always turn out the way I expected but I often like the results anyway. And when someone else asks 'did you make that?' it gives me a real kick to be able to say yes.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Partridge in a Pear Tree

I've had a productive weekend. Not only did I manage to finish the patchwork stockings, I also made a start on my 12 Days of Christmas bunting.

I decided to edge the flags with some festive fabric, I think I will alternate red and green. I think this gives the flags a bit more definition (especially as the bunting will be hung on a white wall).

So this shows my interpretation of partridge in a pear tree, with the pear being my very first attempt at proper appliqué - i.e. turning the fabric edges under and doing tiny hand-stitches. Previously I have reached for the trusty bondaweb and basically stuck the fabric down and machine-stitched as close to the edge as I dare. And I know that the pear/partridge ratio is a bit off, but I was going for abstract representation rather than botanical and avian realism.

The rest is done in felt, stitched with DMC embroidery silks. I put a bit of gold stitching on the pear because I fancied it. Really enjoyed just doing some freehand embroidery rather than following a kit. The trick I think is knowing where to stop and not to overwork it. Next up is two turtle doves...

Friday, 4 November 2011

Work in Progress

I'm hoping to escape to my sewing room this weekend and make a start on some festive bunting based on the Twelve Days of Christmas song.  I've recently joined Pinterest and have started a board there to record all the lovely things that I've found to inspire me.

My plan is to make twelve pennants out of unbleached calico, one for each verse of the song. I'm aiming to use a mixture of appliqué and embroidery. I was wondering whether you can get metallic embroidery threads and was delighted to find that yes you can! This afternoon I picked up some felt, threads and these dinky little bells from the fab craft shop in St Nicks Market

I've been busy sketching partridges and also discovered that it's four colly birds not four calling birds as I'd always assumed. Apparently 'colly' is a corruption of 'coalie', an old word for blackbird.

Also this weekend I am making some patchwork Christmas stockings for a friend, think that the gold embroidery thread might come in handy there too...

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Make List

Inspired by Stitch This (which is a marvellous blog by the way) I thought I would put together a Make List of my own.

It's a combination of things I'm in the middle of, things I've sort of promised to make plus some stuff  from daydream territory...

Bobble hat for my brother
Finish Erhman tapestry kit
Patchwork stockings
Felt Christmas decorations
Peg bags
Christmas apron for me
Knitted socks - lots
Christmas bunting
Lavender bags
A quilt for The Toddler
A hobby horse for The Boy
Arm warmers
Fabric advent calendar
Learn to crochet
Knitted dolly

Think that's enough for now, better head upstairs as the sewing machine is calling...