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:

DSC_0311

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.

DSC_0389

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).

DSC_0391_1

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

DSC_0392

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.

DSC_0404

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:

DSC_0407

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!

IMG-20160318-WA0002

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.
image

Next up, I’m going to attempt an Easter wreath!
 

Falling in love with crochet

Back in November I went to a preliminary meeting for a proposed new local WI. (Much to the amusement of my friends and family who – like most people – still think of it as an institution for the older lady, shall we say.) The turn-out was huge and the WI was formed. I missed the launch meeting last month due to having just had a baby and subsequently failed to send in my membership form in time, so I’m currently on the waiting list to join. Bear with me, there is a point to this story … On the Facebook page for the afore-mentioned newly-formed WI, someone shared an appeal from Makey Mamas – a Bristol-based set-up offering creative workshops for pregnant ladies and mums of new babies. This appeal was for crochet hearts, with each individual heart being given to a mum spending mother’s day in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with their baby. The same campaign, initiated by BLISS (a UK charity providing care and support for sick and premature babies), was run by Makey Mamas last year with the hope of covering Bristol hospital, but they were so overwhelmed by the response, they ended up distributing hearts to NICUs throughout the South-West of England. Anyway, I saw this appeal, and having recently had a baby myself, I thought I’d have a go.

A video tutorial was provided on the Makey Mamas Facebook page. Not being much of a crocheter, my first attempts were somewhat ‘wonky’.DSC_0212

I persevered, and getting fed up of watching the video tutorial again and again, I found the pattern and wrote it down in my ‘Book of Great Ideas’.

DSC_0217DSC_0246

And, voila! Twenty crochet hearts have today begun their journey to Makey Mamas, to hopefully cheer up some mums who may be experiencing a difficult Mother’s Day.

DSC_0286

These were so easy and addictive to make. They take no time at all. I had grand plans of making a Valentines Day garland, but that’ll have to wait til next year now. Instead, I have a baby cardigan to finish knitting and I’ve also dusted off my neglected sewing machine for a bunting commission.

DSC_0282

As an end note, I just have to share this beautiful quilt which a friend made for my baby girl. As someone who loves to give handmade gifts, there’s nothing better than receiving one. I love the colours of it!

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.

January-1

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

Feb-1

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.

Mar-1

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.

Apr-1

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.

May-1

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.

Aug-1

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.

Oct-1

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!

Dec-1

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.

DSC_0389

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.

DSC_0380

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).

DSC_0373

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.

DSC_0385

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.

DSC_0407 DSC_0405 DSC_0404 DSC_0403 DSC_0401 DSC_0400

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.

DSC_0454 DSC_0447 DSC_0455 DSC_0450

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.

DSC_0463

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).

DSC_0433

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).

DSC_0541

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!

DSC_0431

Summer crafternoon

Apologies for my quietness of late. I’ve not had much to report as I’ve been busy beavering away on my friend’s wedding bunting, which hasn’t left time for anything else crafty! But, the end is in sight. Sort of.

On Sunday, a few colleagues (old and current) got together for a crafternoon. We usually only manage about two a year due to everyone’s busy schedules. But this year, there have been two already. The previous one was in March, a Comic Relief Crafternoon (which I missed, sob sob).

Our numbers dwindled from six to four, so there was lots of leftover cake and snacks, which got taken into work on Monday. As usual, we were all working on completely different things.

Emily, pro-crocheter, fixed my little man’s blanket (which had suffered from a run in with a peg and a toddler, no names mentioned …) and worked on her latest commission, a rainbow blanket.

P1030538

Maddy made some bracelets. Look at all her lovely beads!

P1030537

P1030535

Lucy worked on a Pocahontas cross stitch, a birthday present for a friend.

P1030540

P1030539

And can you guess what I did? Yes, my trusty sewing machine came along so I could carry on with the bunting. First, I had to sort out this horrid tangle of binding though.

P1030530

I really have lost the love for this bunting now. It’s become a real chore. But with 120 metres to do, I suppose that’s bound to happen. (For anyone interested, 120 metres equates to nine and a bit double-decker buses lined up in a row.) I’m going for the little and often approach as it’s so dull, but that means it’s taking aaaaaaages. So, it was nice on Sunday to whizz through some whilst having conversation, company and cake.

P1030542

P1030541

At last count, I had about 130 flags (of 420) left to sew. For my own sanity – and because there’s a few other bits I’d like to make for the wedding (hay bale covers, anyone?) – I’m aiming to have it finished by the end of July. Which doesn’t give me long!

Oh, and for those who’ve hung in there til the bitter end of this post, I have an announcement. My craft time is going to dwindle even less as I’m expecting a baby in January. With a toddler and a newborn, I suspect my ‘me’ AKA ‘craft’ time will be somewhat limited! So I better get cracking, while I still have a little free time.

Since I’ve been gone

Long time no blog! Don’t know where the weeks have gone since we got back from our holiday. I use the term ‘holiday’ loosely, as I find going away with a toddler is less of a holiday, more of ‘same routine, change of location’. That said, we did have a lovely time. We spent a week in Devon, followed by a week in Cornwall. Here’s a pic from the Lost Gardens of Heligan.

image

I managed to get a little knitting done on the garter stitch cardigan I’d started on. I soon ground to a halt though, bamboozled by the pattern instructions for shaping the armholes of the back of the cardigan. Thank god for the Internet! I posted on a Facebook page for a local craft group and some very kind ladies came to my aid. In the end, I got my head around what to do next. Here is the finished cardigan back.

image

Do you remember Betsy the ballerina, the rag doll I made for a friend’s little girl? I’m pleased to say she loved her. So much so, she joined the birthday girl on her birthday trip to Peppa Pig World!

image

Since I returned from holiday, I’ve started on the bunting I’m making for my friend’s wedding in August. This involved ironing 120 metres of bias binding in half. And giving myself a nice burn in the process! This is the ‘after’ pic.

image

I reckon I’ve sewn about 30 flags onto the bunting so far. 390 to go!

image

Last, but not least, I used some leftover scraps from the bunting to decorate the bride’s shirt for her hen do last weekend.image

One year on …

Today marks a year since I started this blog. Happy blogday/blogiversary/whatever you call it to me! I’m pleased I’ve stuck at it. And I thank you for reading. At the end of last year, when everyone was doing ‘end of year’ reviews, I said I’d save mine for when I’d been blogging a year. So, here goes.

I kicked off with two lots of bunting and refashioning an old pair of my husband’s jeans into a toolbelt. 
Meanwhile, I’d continued work on the giraffe cot quilt I’d begun in January 2013 and finally finished it in August. Plus I hosted the first Crafternoon of the year, where I made some baby booties.  
In September, I received my first commission: a boy’s memory quilt. A mishap with my rotary cutter cost me the tip of a finger. But, do not be alarmed, it did grow back!  

Finished the memory quilt and made a Waybuloo-themed birthday card for my son. It didn’t make it on to children’s TV 😦

Started my next commission, a girl’s memory quilt.  
Turned an old babygro into a Chrismas stocking and had our Christmas Crafternoon. 
Finished my second memory quilt and made a calorific salted caramel chocolate torte.  
Back on to birthday presents, this time for my niece’s 3rd birthday.  
March was a productive month (by my standards)!  
As was April …  
And, back to the present:

 

Not too bad for a mum of a toddler who doesn’t have much free time. This blog – and reading others’ – has certainly motivated me to try new things. Perhaps at the expense of not finishing some of my existing UFOs/WIPs …

Looking back, my favourite makes were the giraffe quilt – a labour of love – and the memory bear. I’m particularly proud of those two.

 Thank you for sharing in the past year with me!