Sunday, 27 January 2013

Guess the name of the winner!

Whilst I know I am lucky in life I've never considered myself to be terribly lucky with things like raffles and competitions. However, for the second time since I started blogging I have won a prize, this time in Jane's giveaway here. Handmade Jane is one of the first sewing blogs I started to follow so I am extra thrilled, not only to win a prize but one made by Jane herself.

The apron of loveliness ably modelled by Doris - sadly I am still in my pjs as this flu is lingering.

I love the fabric and particularly that the backing fabric is blue with white polka dots. In fact if Jane were a fabric this is the one I think she would be, probably with a red trim of some sort! Tell me I'm not the only one who associates bloggers with fabric? Of course So, Zo would have anchors on hers, perhaps birds, definitely navy/green combo. I think Tilly would be a brown polka dot self drafted button back blouse. Meg will always for me be a comic strip skirt and Amanda is a giraffe print skirt - well, until she comes up with a skirt made of cookies! And I know exactly the dress and colour combo I associate with Sam - and she hasn't even made it yet!

I'm not sure what I'd be - is that a bit sad? Perhaps I haven't found my way yet, I've always avoided clothes shopping so perhaps I don't have any style - oh boy!

Look, even Jane's wrapping paper matches ...

So, I've not been very productive, being ill and all, but I did finish this ripple blanket so I can concentrate on my daughter's one. And I tidied up my craft room a bit, it was sadly in need!

Right, off for a lie down!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Crocheting in my PJs

Oh boy am I feeling rubbish, I didn't even make it out of bed until lunchtime, and am still sitting here in my PJs - this is not how I planned to spend the day.
My entire achievement today is eating a bowl of soup and completing 2 rows of my Little Woollie mixed stripe crochet-along blanket. This is a long-promised project for my daughter.
I couldn't even contemplate sitting at a sewing machine, crochet is definitely my comfort craft, whether I'm physically unwell or even a bit stressed. I wonder if all multi-crafters have a 'go to' favourite when under the weather?
Right, off to get a Lemsip!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Small is beautiful

Honestly, when it's like this outside the only sensible thing to do is stay in and make stuff

I've always wanted to make a patchwork quilt, I bought a book about it years ago but have never plucked up the courage. Also I was a bit worried about 'tweeness overload' - it was a very old book and obviously dated. I thought the idea for a patchwork quilt for our bed might tip P over the edge - he is very supportive of my craftiness but wouldn't choose 'fussy' decor. However, he just smiled and suggested I start with something smaller than a quilt for a king sized sleigh bed - he might have a point!

Since I started following sewing blogs I've seen some beautiful modern quilts and the itch to make a quilt has grown. I like the idea of repurposing and using up scraps of fabric so I'm squirreling away suitably coloured bits and pieces when I come across them - I have some beautiful old pillowcases I found. Our giant quilt is still some way off but I'm working towards it.

When I made my Scrapron for Karen's Apronalong the seed was well and truly sewn. And whilst I don't have the biggest stash in the world I am genetically incapable of throwing even little bits in the bin so patchwork strikes a chord for me.

Then I found the tutorials by Jenny at Missouri Star Quilt Company. Wow, what a resource, I was blown away by the number and quality of the videos, it's so clear. I love craft books (my collection is reasonably described as 'out of hand') but I learn things more quickly if somebody shows me and I have a go. I feel like Jenny's my own tutor - I should probably add her to my Christmas card list!

I might be just a little obsessed, but it's really got me fired up. So I decided on Friday night to make a doll's quilt as part of Little A's birthday present, she is 2 tomorrow. It's been really useful to practice on something so small (which I failed to take a photo of once I'd bound it!). The binding is pale blue, the backing fabric is lilac and I quilted it. The wadding I have would have made it too thick, and a bit stiff, so I just put an extra layer of thick cotton in the sandwich and that seemed to work fine. Totally made up using scraps - bonus!

My enthusiasm is obviously catching because my SiL has asked me to make 2 quilts for my niece and nephew (OK, I'll be honest - having a little panic!). Little A will be moving out of her cot and into a bed in the next 6 months and they're planning to redecorate the children's room. This calls for a more direct approach to quilt fabric shopping - I can't just wait to stumble across the perfect pieces.

As Wednesday was my NWD my brother 'Han' and I headed over to Rochester to Hometown. I might have bought some fabric for both the children but it's OK because I have a project so actually do need them. Oh and I got a charm pack to try one of Jenny's tutorials - I think I need another small project before I go for it properly and crack on with the quilts, hone my skills a bit. I'd planned to browse, my brother's an enabler, perhaps because he has such a yarn buying habit himself. Our mantra Wednesday was 'can I afford it? do I cause anybody harm by buying it?' - you can end up with a lot of stuff if the answers are 'yes' and 'no'!

My only other crafty achievement this week is these ...

Jammie Dodgers roughly following the Matt's tutorial at accordingtomatt

Some crocheted biscuits, again for A, as she is getting a toy kitchen for her birthday. Really easy to make and again using up scraps.

Hope you're warm and toasty wherever you are.



PS - I forgot to say, the Harry Potter Studio Tour was brilliant. I would recommend getting the audio tour if you can, I learnt lots about the costumes - fascinating. I didn't know they would have 10 versions of many of the costumes so that they could age them, show them damaged after magic spells etc. i'd post photos but we took 180 - suffice to say it's worth a visit. So glad our tickets were for last week though, I would not have fancied the journey in the snow!

My cape outside No 4 Privet Drive

Saturday, 12 January 2013

The Harry Potter Magic Cape

Do you like my new haircut - I'm going for the full fringe approach to cover my wrinkles! My daughter cut it for me this morning.

I declare my first 'Non-Working Wednesday' a success! My cape is finished, it feels so good to have something tangible to show for my day off. I'd set myself a deadline of having it finished by tomorrow, one of my Christmas gifts from my OH was tickets to 'The Making of Harry Potter' Studio Tour, P is very good at surprises. I am very excited, what would be more fitting to wear than a cape/cloak? Sadly I don't have the skills to add an invisibility spell!

So, as the purpose of this blog is really to record what I've made and anything I've learnt in the process, here's the facts:

Pattern: New Look 6007 - about £4

Fabric: 3m of 70% wool/25% polyester/5% lurex, 150cm wide. From eBay. £10.99 for the fabric, £6.99 for courier shipping. I'm really pleased with the fabric for the price and would not hesitate to buy from the seller 's shop again - not that I'm any kind of fabric expert mind you.

Lining: 1 Stashbuster Point to me, I picked this up with no clear purpose in mind when I bought the broiderie anglaise for my Bow Sorbetto. The tag says '1.5 m/£2/cotton' - nearly all used up - Bazinga!

Notions: Just thread - does that even count? I mean how can you sew without thread?

Instructions: Very clear, 'Easy' is exactly right. However I wanted the cape lined (for neatness and warmth) and it's not supposed to be. It was easy enough to figure out which pieces I needed I just had to think about the order of assembly a bit. Now I've made it once it would be a doddle to do again.

Extra tutorials used: This was really about steaming the wool fabric, see here. The lining process I just figured out. This was a really good pattern to use to practice lining an unlined piece - no sleeves to worry about!

All tidy on the inside

New skills learnt: Well the steaming of the wool I guess. And I've not made outerwear before or really tackled collars. And I did more top-stitching than I've done before. Oh, and figuring out how to line an unlined garment. Not a specific skill but general confidence building I think - thank you Magic Cape.

Would I make it again?: Yes, although I don't know how much room I have for capes in my wardrobe without looking obsessive! Perhaps one more in a bright colour? And, selflessly, I would make this for somebody else as it's so easy.

If so, what would I do differently?: All of the above changes again and I might add pockets, I do like a pocket.

'Cake' or 'Frosting'?: Definitely 'cake', I only finished it on Wednesday and I've worn it twice already. And of course it gets it's official HP airing tomorrow. It's actually brilliant for the car, sometimes I find a warm coat cumbersome to drive in.

My dedication to finishing the Magic Cape (rather than get distracted by the beautiful Valentino pattern) paid off as my second Valentino parcel arrived from the USA and I'm all clear of sewing projects so can think about tackling it with a clear mind. Look at this pattern of gorgeousness:

So my 'plan', which is working up to a 'Plan', and with Sam's help might even be a 'PLAN', is a step nearer. More to do but we're getting there. I am very excited.

Oh, and as it would have been daft to pay for postage on one item, when it's so much more thrifty to combine it, I also have these 2 beauties from the same source:

The one on the left is the same age as me, I am definitely going to give it a go

Have a good weekend


Sunday, 6 January 2013

The Liebster Award

Sam at A Little of What You Fancy  has very kindly nominated me for a Liebster Award.  I'm a bit surprised, I feel the urge to indulge in an weepy 'Oscar' type speech!  Thanks Sam.

Apparently the Liebster Award is awarded to blogs with less than 200 readers to bring them into the limelight and hopefully increase their readership. I've tried to find out how long the Award has been running but without much joy. The rules are:

Post 11 random facts about yourself.

Answer 11 questions posed by your nominator.

Nominate up to 5 other blogs for the award and ask them 11 questions of your own.

So, here goes, these are 11 random facts about me, prepare to be amazed!

  1. My son is called Luke - after Luke Skywalker.  I really, really love Star Wars!
  2. I cannot abide pineapple - the smell, the taste, the texture - just awful.
  3. I'm rubbish at winking - I can just about do it with my left eye, not at all with my right.
  4. I was run over when I was 19 - I was crossing the road on a zebra crossing and got hit by a stolen car driving really recklessly.
  5. Because of (4) my pelvis is twisted and (despite help from a chiropractor) my right leg is about an inch shorter than the left.
  6. I didn't learn to ride a bike until I was in my 30s - my children taught me.
  7. My Grandfather had a British racing Green mini when I was a child and I loved it.  My husband bought one for me as a surprise present on our first Christmas together (I know, serious points for him).  Eleven years later, I'm now on my third, I cannot imagine having any other car.
  8. I am frightened of mice, proper 'panic attack' scared.
  9. I can't abide text speak, it drives me crackers.  My text messages are grammatically correct, all punctuation, no abbreviations!
  10. Having usefully studied Latin for 3 years at school I can quote you a few random verbs and sing "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" ("Adeste Fideles" - if you wanted to know).  And I'm pretty sure Puella Magna Toga means Big Girls' Blouse.
  11. There is a photo of me with Prince Charles and due to a set of unfortunate circumstances (photographer up some steps, my height, cowl-necked jumpers being fashionable in the 80s) it looks as if he's staring down the front of my top!
Now to answer the 11 questions from Sam:

1.  Do you do any other crafts in addition to sewing?
Yes lots - I've done a lot of cross-stitch in the past.  I learnt to crochet nearly 2 years ago, I can knit (badly) so it's a bit of a chore but I am not a quitter so I keep trying!  I make lots of cards, just generally but also for charity and stationery for weddings etc.  I'm currently trying to master patchwork and build up to quilting.  Oh, and my husband's aunt is desperately trying to teach me to do everything - I have an ongoing embroidery project that is slow going!  Basically I just don't have enough time for it all.

2.  What is your favourite item you've made?
The Granny Stripe blanket I started pretty much as soon as I learnt to crochet.  It fits a double bed - I probably should have picked something smaller!  It gets used all the time and I love it.

3.  How often do you sew, and would you like to do more?
Less than once a week, although I'm hoping that will pick up now I've reduced to a 4 day working week.  I craft pretty much every week, just not sewing - yet!

4.  Do you have an unfulfilled ambition and what is it?
Crikey, you ask difficult questions ... I've always wanted to make a difference.  That sounds really stuffy and I don't mean it to.  I consider myself to be very fortunate - I'd like to do more charitable and voluntary work in the future.

5.  As a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
Oh that's easy - a dancer with Pan's People.  I used to put my red poncho around my waist, stand on the coffee table and dance to Top of the Pops.  I must have been 3 or 4.

6.  What is your favourite food?
That's tough, I'm an enthusiastic eater - if I was pushed I'd have so say cheese.  Practically any cheese     (although the mild ones like Edam are a bit of a waste), I love the stuff.

7.  Would you rather listen to music, watch television or read?
I like to do all 3 in different circumstances (I can't drive anywhere without the radio on) but there's no contest - reading is a passion.

8.  What sewing tool wouldn’t you be without?
Seriously, you want me to pick one?  Sadly, probably my seam ripper.

9.  What sewing tool did you buy that’s a total waste of money?
I don't think I can answer that - I actually don't have that many sewing tools as I'm relatively new to the whole thing.  I've been careful about what I've picked (having learnt from card making that the super whizzy stuff isn't necessarily what you use) so I fortunately don't have any duds - yet!

10.  What is the one pattern you’ve sewn that you’d recommend to someone else?
Goodness ... OK, there are 2 answers (kind of Buy One Get One free on the questions!).  If it was a new sewer I'd say the free Colette Sorbetto - it takes such small amounts of fabric that you don't worry about wasting/ruining an expensive buy, it is not overly fitted so it's fairly forgiving, you can easily change the length etc so get to grips with drafting little changes, and the wealth of tutorials for making it individual are a gift.  It's the first thing I got going with and it gave me confidence.  

For a more confident sewer I'd say try a vintage pattern - I've had my most successful makes from a 60s shift dress pattern I bought for 50p.  I've made it 4 times (3 for me, once for my daughter), it's a real change using a vintage pattern and I found it really informative to go through that process.

11.  What is your number one crafting tip (sewing or otherwise)?Remember that it's about the process.  I need to practice this a bit more, I'm the worst for putting pressure on myself, but when you just concentrate on the joy of making something you often produce your best results.  Life can be so busy, and many of us have jobs that don't produce a tangible item.  To be able to make something with your own hands is wonderful, and if you can give it as a gift or teach somebody else the skills then that's pretty special.

Now to nominate the following blogs for a Leibster Award, this is tough actually because I read lots and many of them are ineligible because of the number of followers they have or have already received the Award:

  1. Giggles in the Sun - A fledgling blogger and sewer I can really relate to, lots of lovely projects.
  2. Meg The Grand - I'm 'pushing it' Meg seems to have 206 followers, and frankly I'd be astonished if she hadn't received this award before but I did a quick search of her blog and can't find any reference.  Go visit, you will laugh aloud :)
  3. Cats and Crafts - Another newish blog, full of different projects, with the all important Crafty Cat element.  I'm taking a gamble, I can't be sure exactly how many followers Alison has but I don't think she's had the award before.
  4. Bimble and Pimble - Brilliant projects and proper belly-laughing funny, I recommend you visit Amanda.
I've stopped at 4 - it's my favourite number!
  1. You have enough money in your purse for one project - yarn or fabric?
  2. How did you learn to sew?
  3. What is your 'turning point' garment - the one that made you think you might actually be able to do this?
  4. What is the most unusual material you have used in a garment?
  5. Where is the one place you have always wanted to visit and why?
  6. Would your teenage self have imagined your life now and, if not, what would it have been like?
  7. If somebody asked your advice about learning a new craft what would you recommend?
  8. What piece of equipment is on your Wish List and why?
  9. Do you have the telly or radio on in the background when you sew and, if you do, what is on?
  10. What is your favourite snack when you're crafting?
  11. Do you enjoy making things for yourself or others and why?

That's it, I can't wait to see the answers.



Creative Pay It Forward - Are you game?

Hello, Happy Sunday - I'm taking a quick break from cutting out my cape, I've finished the main fabric pieces and am on the interfacing.  I think I must be very slow, it takes me longer to cut it all out than the average sewing blogger seems to spend on a whole new garment!

My SiL posted this on Facebook yesterday:

"2013 Creative Pay it Forward.  The first five people to comment on this status will receive a handmade gift from me during 2013 whenever the creative mood strikes me, so make sure I have your address!  Let's be honest, it'll probably be cake!

The only catch - you have to make the same offer on your wall, and tag me as I'm tagging ..."

I'd heard of Pay It Forward Day, which is on 25th of April this year.  The aim is to inspire 5 million acts of kindness around the world.  But this is the first time I've come across the Creative version - I don't know if this is because I've been hiding under a rock or it's just a new idea.  Either way I think it's a lovely thing to do.

I'd love to take part in the 2013 Creative Pay It Forward - although I will definitely not be making cake!  Apart from anything else the logistics of posting it would defeat me!

My SiL and I would be appealing to the same small pool of crafters on Facebook, most of the family are not 'makers'.  So I'd like to make the offer here, the first five people to comment on this status will receive a handmade gift from me during 2013, you just need to make the same offer on your blog and pass the creativity on.  And let me have your address, of course!

Oh, and I'm on my SiL's list for a cake - happy days!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Valentino is in the building!

Oh my, it has arrived, just look at this pattern of wonder ...

It is so beautiful, it's not just me is it?

I don't know if you can see in this photo but the zip is offset, as it's incorporated into one of the back seams. I might have done some actual skipping when I spotted that!

This is it, one side of instructions, it's either very easy or there's an assumption of knowledge - I guess we'll see.
I'm really impressed with the service, I ordered from an Etsy seller (CloesCloset) - I'm not sure I'm helping myself announcing this but I know of at least one person who is keen to get her hands on a Vogue Valentino pattern! On that note Sam hold fire - I might have had a bit of luck and a Plan if you're up for it. I'll email you later ;)
I only ordered it late last Thursday. It arrived today (public holiday & weekend in between) beautifully packaged (I could have shown you if I hadn't opened it in unseemly haste), all pattern pieces ironed and with a little gift of 6 pink buttons. I love those little touches and I think this is worth every penny.
Right, got to get a grip - "I will not start this until I have made my cape" and repeat...

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

A Pledge And A Beginning

A Pledge

I'm not much of one for New Year's Resolutions.  I love a list as much as, if not more than, the next person but I've watched too many NYRs fall by the wayside in the first week of January to have any confidence in them.  So, apart from the standard "I will not smoke" (which I've never done in my life so I'm guaranteed success!) I tend to avoid them.

A 'Sewlution' however is a very different kettle of fish.  Have you seen Karen's idea over at Did You Make That?  I am definitely in, the idea is you pick one achievable aim and Karen is going to put them all in a jar - I'm pretty sure she's going to need a bigger jar as the response has been huge.  The public nature of the declaration should keep Pledgers on track and some have committed themselves to a charitable donation if they fail.  I'm loathe to do this as I don't want to consider failure before I even get going.  However, I'm thinking a donation if I succeed might be the way forward for me.

Anyway, my pledge is to conquer my bust and make a well fitting dress before the year is out.  I have some beautiful dress patterns but have tended to avoid fitted dresses and have stuck to those that are less shaped or have just sewn separates.  Even ably assisted by Doris the Dressform I am struggling with my measurements which just don't bare any resemblance to those used for standard patterns - my Colette 'Hazel' is still in WIP form, I just can't seem to get past the gaping back issue.  But by the power of "Fit for Real People" I am determined to figure out how to make the necessary Full Bust Adjustment or Small Back Adjustment or just plan Weird Shape Adjustment - whatever it takes to have a dress that fits.

And A Beginning

Last January (before a blog was even a twinkle in my eye, in fact before I started to sew clothes) I set myself the task of keeping an Achievement List.  It was a small shift in thinking but quite an important one for me - I went from 'Oh no, look at all the things I've failed to tick off my To Do List' to 'Wow, look how much I've made'.  Instead of crossing things off I'm adding all the time - somehow this just motivates me more.

I read last year's Achievement List yesterday and was overall pleased with what I'd accomplished, it was more than I'd envisaged.  So my 2013 list is all shiny and new and I'm ready to go...

This is the start of Plan No 1:  New Look 6007 - My Cape

I've looked at lots of instructions online, and had some recommendations too, but decided to go with Carolyn's "Steam the heck out of it" method over at Diary of a Sewing Fanatic.

This was recommended by Gertie and made sense in my head - some things just don't and I've decided to make life easier on myself and go with the instructions that click, I find there's less cursing if I take that route!

So I decided to start this afternoon, as soon as we got home from our New Year's Eve celebrations.   I took heed of Carolyn's advice and embraced the time it would take and watched the box - the steaming took me all of 'Hello Dolly' and half an episode of 'Game of Thrones'.  I'm hopeful that this will prove to be one of the slower parts of the whole process of making the cape.

Right, I'm off to eat some more cake - if it's in the house I'll eat it so might as well get it out of the way. Anything left on Friday is going back to Uni with L - he might need an extra holdall!