Lion on the loose

Spotted in a Hampshire garden, a lion at large!

Meet Larry the Lion. He’s a Funky Friends pattern I’ve used to create a memory animal from babygros as a keepsake for a friend’s son’s forthcoming first birthday.

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I used six babygros to make Larry. Most were newborn size, which didn’t leave me with a lot of fabric, and therefore, not much room for mistakes. As luck had it, the pieces which I did cut out wrong were from the fabric I had most of, so I had enough spare to re-cut them. Phew.

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I hit a few obstacles along the way:

  • the eyes: I forgot to insert the craft eyes before sewing the head to body, making it much more difficult as I had to pull the head back out through the stuffing gap. Having not used craft eyes before, I had to watch a video tutorial to learn how to do so. All went well, until one was positioned incorrectly, and then I had to watch another video to work out how to get the washer off the back of the eye so I could remove it!
  • pattern markings: not that I’ve done a great deal of sewing from patterns, but in the little I’ve done, I’ve not been too bothered about transferring pattern markings. This time, I dutifully got out my carbon paper, washable pen, tracing paper, tracing wheel and transferred the markings. Only to realise when I started sewing that I should’ve transferred them to the right side of the fabric, not the wrong side like I had. Rookie error.
  • hand embroidery: not my strong point. I really struggled to get the toes on the first paw looking right, but once I had mastered it, the rest were quicker. As for the French knots on the cheeks, that took two attempts. I gave up last night and tried again today, with more success.
  • interfacing: the mane is a little floppy, I think I could definitely have used stiffer interfacing. One to remember for the next one.

Once I’d finished him, he went for a spin in the washing machine, followed by hanging out on the washing line for the afternoon.

I’m pretty pleased with how he turned out.

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Getting my ‘sew-jo’ back

Since we moved house at the end of December and I had a baby in early January, my sewing machine has been lying packed away, unloved. I had reason to get it out last month though when a friend asked me to make her newborn son some personalised bunting for his bedroom. Here it is:

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I love making bunting, particularly the appliqué part, so I really enjoyed doing this. In fact, I made bunting for this little man’s big sister back in July 2014.

Another friend then asked to me make a sash for her friend’s hen do. She didn’t like the look of all the pink naff ones you can get online and wanted something a bit classier. She choose the fabric and I then found some coordinating fabric in my stash for the lettering. I combined bits of two online tutorials here and here, as neither worked fully for the fabric I had. Here’s how I made it, step-by-step.

I took a wild guess at how much fabric I would need, and told my friend to get 1 metre. In hindsight, it may have been better to have gone for 2 metres, as I had to make the sash in two pieces. But, there would have been loads of leftover fabric if I’d opted for 2 metres just to have one single length.

I cut two strips of fabric, 1 metre long by 26 cm wide. This was for a tall bride, otherwise, I may have gone a bit shorter in length.

As advised in the wikiHow tutorial, I added interfacing to the fabric strips.

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I laid the strips right sides together and, having worked out the centre point, marked on the edge of the fabric 2.5 inches from the top, and drew a line to the centre of the fabric, on both sides as below. I then sewed along this line to create the shoulder seam. If you had just one piece of fabric, this would be easier and involve drawing just one line. I later had to adjust the angle (see below).

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Then I cut off the fabric above the line/seam.

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I don’t seem to have a picture of this, but at the hip end of the sash, I folded the sash in half, as it would be once sewn, and cut the fabric at an angle, to create a diagonal edge. By cutting through both sides of the sash at once, it ensured that both sides had exactly the same angle.

Having traced my letters onto Bondaweb, ironed this onto my contrasting fabric and cut the letters out, I then ironed the letters onto the front of the sash, ready for appliquéing.

Then I folded the sash, right sides together and sewed 1/2 inch from the edge all around the raw edges, leaving a gap at one end of the sash to turn it out.

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It was at this point, once I’d turned the sash out and draped it over my shoulder, that I realised the shoulder seam wasn’t sitting right. So I had to unpick that bit and recut the edge, this time marking on the side 1.5 inches from the top and cutting on the diagonal from the side, so that there was less of an angle. In hindsight, I think I should have had the diagonal going the opposite way, but never mind…

This time, once I turned it out, it was sitting much better on my shoulder. All that was left to do was join the hip edges of the sash together, about an inch from the bottom of the sash.

Ta-dah:

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I used the leftover fabric to create some matching bunting, about 7 metres long.

My friend kindly sent me a photo of the bride/hen modelling her sash, it looked great!

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My sewing machine has now been temporarily put away whilst I get on with Easter crafts. I hosted an Easter egg hunt on Saturday for 8 toddlers and their mums (madness, I know. But my house actually ended up tidier than before they arrived thanks to their post-Easter egg hunt tidy-up). I whipped up this little sock bunny on Friday, who is now kept company by some felt chicks I made for last year’s Big Comic Relief Crafternoon.
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Next up, I’m going to attempt an Easter wreath!
 

My 2015 makes

Here’s what I got up to in 2015 …

January saw me complete my 2nd commissioned memory quilt, for a friend’s little girl’s 3rd birthday. It was made up of her baby clothes.

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In February, I made my niece some teddy bear/doll’s sleeping bags for her 3rd birthday.

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In March, I finally completed my cross stitch of a West Highland terrier. I made some felt chicks and a mouse as part of the first ever Comic Relief Crafternoon; these were sold at my workplace along with other crafty contributions to make money for Comic Relief. March was a productive month, as I also made another niece a pirate doll for her 3rd birthday.

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In April, I had somewhat of a baking disaster. Attempting to make Waitrose’s ‘bunny scones’, mine ended up rather scary looking – very much like they were modelled on Donnie Darko! However, I did have a baking success too, a car-themed birthday cake for my nephew’s 2nd birthday. I also did an embroidery hoop for a friend’s birthday.

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In May, I finished my nephew’s memory bear, made from his baby clothes. This was also for his 2nd birthday (the one I made the car-themed cake for). I also made a ballerina doll for a friend’s little girl’s 2nd birthday. The memory bear was probably my favourite make of 2015, it came out really well.

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June and July were fairly quiet months on the crafting front, no finished objects to show. But I did begin knitting a baby cardigan and I’d also begun the bunting for my friend’s wedding. In July, a summer crafternoon was had by myself and some colleagues.

August was the culmination of my months of work making things for my friend’s wedding, at which I was also a bridesmaid. I made about 90 metres of bunting, hay bale covers and heart-shaped decorations, all for the wedding reception. All the hard work was worth it on the big day when it all came together and fitted the colour scheme and festival theme perfectly.

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September was another quiet month, perhaps as a result of working myself so hard finishing all the wedding bits in August.

In October, my son turned 2. I made two birthday cakes, one for a joint party with his friends – a chocolate finger and Smarties decorated cake. For my son’s party, I recreated my nephew’s car-themed cake as my son is also car-mad. I also finally finished knitting the baby cardigan I started in June. A little crochet was even involved, to do the edging and buttonholes on the front.

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In November, again with work colleagues, we had our annual Christmas crafternoon. I didn’t get any good photos of this, otherwise I would have done a blog post about it. I moved house at this point, so crafting very much took a back seat.

Onto December, and settled into our new house, I made a last-minute sheep costume for my son’s pre-school nativity play. I also did a wreath-making workshop with my Mum – a lovely Christmassy way to spend an afternoon. And, very recently, I finished my second baby cardigan. Unfortunately, like the first one I knitted, this one is also too small for the intended recipient. So, I’ve started a third one and have kept the second one for myself as I’m due to have a baby any day and I’m convinced it’s another boy!

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So that’s my round-up of my 2015 makes. Lots of things made for children! This is obviously where my interest lies. This year, I’m hoping to get some sort of craft business going, in the hope that I may not have to return to work from maternity leave in Jan 2017, or at least it’s something I could run alongside work. That’s the dream, anyway! Whether it happens as a mum of two, I’m somewhat doubtful …

My ‘to do’ list for 2016 currently looks as follows:

  • two memory cushions – one to match each memory quilt I made
  • make the hay bale covers from my friend’s wedding into a quilt
  • a memory lion, commissioned
  • poppy tapestry for my mum
  • froggy cross stitch
  • baby cardigan no.3, 3rd time lucky, hopefully this one will fit my friend’s not-so-new-anymore baby

 

What makes do you have planned for the year ahead? I’d love to hear about them. Wishing you a happy and crafty new year!

Kate

 

 

 

 

My best friend’s wedding

My mad crafting came to an end as it was my friend’s wedding last Saturday (15th Aug). It was a frantic week or so leading up to it, trying to finish everything off, but I’m pleased to say I did. I even met my goal of finishing the bunting by the end of July.

I packaged up what I like to call ‘a wedding box of loveliness’, which my parents very kindly hand-delivered to my friend the week before her wedding.

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It contained delights such as THE bunting that I’ve spent months making. I was working towards 120 metres, but ran out of flags way before then, so I reckon it was a mere 90 metres or so instead.

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Personalised bunting. The wedding was festival themed; the Mr and Mrs-to-be would be Mr & Mrs Jones. So, Jonesfest was born. Festival-themed weddings are all the rage in the UK at the moment. I used leftover fabric from the bunting and appliquéd the letters onto the flags, using contrasting colours (pink, orange or yellow).

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I used some more leftover fabric scraps from the bunting to make heart decorations to hang around the jars the bride wanted to use for flowers.

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Finally, I made 6 hay bale covers. As this was a festival-themed wedding, and the brief was ‘informal and fun’ the happy couple opted for hay bale seating – no formal table plan, no sit-down meal. And I have to say, on the day, it didn’t feel like anything was ‘missing’ in that respect. It only added to the relaxed and friendly vibe.

Months ago. I bought a few double sheets from a charity shop, two yellow, one pink. With the intention of making hay bale covers. I went for the ‘no sew’ option, which basically involved cutting them into the required rectangular size using my trusting pinking blade on my rotary cutter. I then used up more leftover fabric scraps from the bunting by tracing letters onto bondaweb, cutting them out and ironing them onto the sheets, to create phrases. I was going to appliqué round the edges of the letters, but time was against me and I actually thought they looked nice as they were. My iron needed a clean after every session with the bondaweb. Thank god for my iron cleaner stick.

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I was one of six bridesmaids at the wedding. We all assembled for our duties on Thursday night/Friday morning and had a lovely day on Friday decorating the village hall and the fields behind, both of which were to be used for the wedding reception. As luck would have it, there was exactly enough bunting! Myself and one of the other bridesmaids had a productive couple of hours decorating jars and milk bottles with ribbon and lace, before arranging flowers in them. it really did look lovely once we’d finished.

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On the day itself, we walked from the bride’s house to the village church, stopping for various photo opportunities on the way. After the church service, we all walked down to the village hall where a Ceilidh band was in full swing ready for our arrival. Instead of a wedding cake, the newlyweds had invited guests to bake a cake to be entered into ‘The Great Jonesfest Bake-Off’, which was to be judged by the Best Men.

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Our bridesmaids dresses were all different, which looked really good. The only rules were that they needed to be knee-length, chiffon and in one of three colours: fuchsia, watermelon or daffodil. Having ordered my dress when I wasn’t pregnant, I ended up panic-buying a second dress a month or two ago, thinking that I wouldn’t fit in my ‘normal’ dress when the time came. As it happened, I did. But I did switch into my maternity dress in the evening, which was more comfortable by that time in the day. Breaking with convention again (well in the UK, at least), the bride had asked each of the bridesmaids to prepare a speech. Very nerve-wracking considering there were 200 guests. But, with the Ceilidh dancing beforehand, we didn’t have too much time to get nervous and it was a wonderful feeling once it was over and done with. Here’s a photo of us with the happy couple (I’m the blonde one in yellow).

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The day ended with a silent disco. For those not familiar with the concept, it’s when everyone wears a pair of headphones so that you can dance to music, without disturbing others. A good option for a village hall wedding reception like this, where the rule was no noise after 10pm. In this case, there were three channels to choose from on the headphones: the groom’s playlist, the bride’s playlist and the people’s playlist (songs requested by the wedding guests in their RSVP).

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The bride mentioned to me that they’re now using the hay bale covers I made on the beds in their home. Which cemented in my mind a little idea i’d had – which was to turn them into a quilt! New project alert! I’d actually had a little something else in mind, to use up more of the leftover bunting scraps, but I’m going to try and incorporate this into the quilt. I’ll have to wait until October until I get the hay bale covers back, so plenty of time to come up with ideas how to do this.

I’ll leave you with a photo of the new Mr and Mrs Jones!

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Betsy the Ballerina

Super-quick post before we head off to meet a friend at Bluewater (a shopping mall for non-UK readers). Last time I met this particular friend at a shopping centre, we were both heavily pregnant and I went into labour that night! This time, we’ll have two toddlers In tow. Not much shopping will be done. But she lives in Suffolk and I live in Surrey, so it’s a good halfway point.

I’ve finished the rag doll I’ve made for a friend’s little girl’s 2nd birthday. I decided to make a ballerina in the end. As with my Polly the Pirate doll, I adapted Laura Hunter’s Mollie the dolly pattern from The Big Comic Relief Crafternoon magazine.

I had to visit three fabric shops to find some pale pink and white polka dot fabric as I didn’t have quite enough left over from the bunting I made for the same little girl last year.

  
Betsy Ballerina had her photoshoot this morning, following the completion of her tutu which I made by following a tutorial from thetiptoefairy.com. It was really easy to make.

  

 
  

I think I will trim the tutu a bit, as its a bit ‘gypsy wedding’ at the moment. I’m pleased with the ric rac I added above the shoes to give the effect of ribbon laces.

 
Her collar is a bit wonky, which is a shame. I couldn’t face unpicking it a third time though.

  

I’m a little worried she looks a bit like an alien. Can’t help but feel a bit disappointed with the end result. Hopefully little Ava won’t notice this. What it is to be a perfectionist!?

Stars and Stripes bear

I’ve been holding off from posting til I finished my nephew’s memory bear. Finally, he is finished. 

Originally, I was going to make him out of these:

I planned it out like this:  

But, I just wasn’t feeling the colour combinations. I had a flash of inspiration that some of my nephew’s babygros had been passed on to my little boy. As luck would have it, they were too small for him. So, I changed tack and went for these: 

I added in a complimentary polo shirt and wanted to keep the teddy saying ‘Hi Mum’. I felt this looked much better:  

 

I struggled with how to transfer the pattern markings, however, I hope to remedy this for future projects with some recent Amazon purchases …

I made the same mistake as with my last (as yet unfinished) bear, in that I didn’t transfer the pattern notches properly. Rookie error! I’m very much a learn by making mistakes person! That said – apologies if this offends some out there – I’m not sure I see the need for matching notches on a project like this. Seems a hassle, when you can match up pretty accurately without them …

New stitches learnt as part of this project:

  • Ladder stitch – for sewing up the openings left for stuffing. Actually another name for slip stitch, as it turns out. 
  • Satin stitch – for the nose. Did not go too well. I was satin-stitching over a piece of felt stuck on with fabric glue. The middle bit of the nose was fine to satin stitch, but the ends were somewhat troublesome. I went for my favourite ‘It’ll do’ approach.

I raided my button jar for the eyes. I knew there was a reason I’d kept all these ‘spare’ buttons.

 

All that remained was to wash off my washable fabric pen. Every time, I curse myself for using it, as it never seems to come off as easily as I think. It’s just much easier to work with than chalk. For me, anyway. I was reluctant to put the teddy in the washing machine, as I wasn’t convinced my slip stitching would survive. So I went for the dampening option. Three separate attempts and two short stays in solitary confinement the airing cupboard later, there was still blue ink, so into the washing machine he went. Followed by a third stint in the airing cupboard.

   
   

Here’s the finished bear. Of all the things I’ve made over the past year, he’s one of my favourites. And reasonably quick to assemble too.

 
   

  

 

It was my birthday on Tuesday, and, for the first time, I created an Amazon wish list and sent it to my parents and my husband. All craft-based items. I’m not a lover of Amazon wish lists being thrust upon people; I don’t like being told what to buy someone. Unless I’ve asked for suggestions that is. But, being sent a wish list when I haven’t asked what someone would like? Well, I think that’s rude. Anyway, disappointingly, I got absolutely nothing from my wish list. But, I can’t complain as I was taken on a spa break to the lovely Ragdale Hall and treated to several lovely treatments. I did receive a couple of Amazon vouchers though, so I used them to treat myself to my wish list. Quite a few arrived today. Here’s the haul so far:  

Excitingly, this week I also purchased the fabric to make bunting for my friend’s wedding in August. The colour scheme is ‘sunset’: pinks, yellows and oranges. Whilst debating the best way to cut out the flags with my friend, she wondered if you could get a pinking rotary cutter. And you can! So, I’ve ordered one. Excited to get started on this. I’m going to aim for 100 metres of bunting. Am I mad?!

 

T-shirts maketh the bear

One of my nephews turns two next week and I’ve offered to make a memory bear for his birthday. I’ve never actually finished the first bear I started – unfinished project no. 3 – but, having made two memory quilts, I feel reasonably hopeful that I can do this.

My sister-in-law passed on some of my nephew’s tshirts for my little man. Seeing as he has loads already, I’ve given most back but kept a few for the bear. 

Now I’ve just got to work out how to turn these: 

Into this: 

Keep you posted!