Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Crafty makes

At last! I've had a little time to make some things. It's my Mum's birthday soon, and I decided to make her a little birthday banner.

As you may have noticed, I am a stickler for detail. It took me ages (nearly as long as making the entire banner!) to calculate the proportion for the triangle; I wanted it quite small. I eventually caluclated that the height should be 1.25 times the width of the triangle. How sad is that??

Using the template, I cut the pieces out with my rotary cutter fitted with a deckle blade (quicker than pinking shears)
Then used Heant 'n' Bond to spell Happy Birthday and added a couple of cakes. I had a length of bias, already folded and in the right colour hanGing around (as you do!)
(not too pleased with this image; I do have difficulty getting good pictures indoors, despite having a conservatory which gives plenty of daylight)

So, spurred on by my success, I decided to try a belt. I've hankered after one of these for so long and it's not as if it's even particularly difficult; the hardest thing is to pick the fabrics! I used some waistband interfacing, that has slots cut to make it easy to fold.

It makes a nice 1" belt, which fitted the buckle I had perfectly, but I think I would like it a little wider. I got carried away with the fabric selection, and cut enough to make 2.
Although rather short for my weight, I am not quite as round as this belt suggests; I did get a little carried away with the piecing, and there's plenty to go around!
I got the cute buckle from Sew 'n' Sew of Cirencester for a whole 75p. If you're ever in the area, the shop is well worth the visit.
I made a couple of lavender teabags, but haven't photographed them yet. But they do smell lovely!

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Holiday Part 2!

I'm a bit of a history geek, so when we go away I end up dragging whoever is with us to what I consider interesting places. In this quest, we visited Cromford Mill, a fantastic renovation project. Serendipity intervened and we happened across - a quilt shop! Good selection but, with enough fabrics at home waiting for thread, I passed with no purchase (although the senses were certainly satisfied).
I am the navigator in hoiday, and one of my favourite occupations is to ensure DH has to drive round the unusual. I found a ford on the map so naturaly, it had to be driven through...

Am the only person for whom simple things like this give a frisson of delight? Speaking of delight, I was thrilled to come across the dam at Derwent where 617 squadron practiced with the bouncing bomb in WWII.
On our way home, I also found another quilting shop, Heirs and Graces. Set in a lovely Wesleyan chapel in Darley Dale, it has a fantastic selection of fabrics and books. I was left alone to browse (which is how I prefer it), but other ladies in there who wanted help were accomodated. Very friendy and well worth a visit if you're anywhere near (within 2 hours drive would count as near, I reckon!)
This raises for me a little idea that I have entertained for some time. Whenever I'm away from home, I always try to look up local quilt shops and other craft stores but these can frequently be difficult to locate. I'd love a database of fabric shops. Does anyone have one?

Friday, 31 July 2009

Huge update!

Well, we've been away on holiday. Found a bargain on ebay and ended up in Hargate Hall in the Peak District for 4 nights A grand entrance! The door creaks just like the Addams Family's front door - spooky! Below is the view from the shared area; the photo really doesn't do the stained glass justice.

Lovely place though, and an excellent base to explore the surrounding area. I haven't been to the Peak District before and I have to say that it is bleak in places, but beautiful.
Hargate Hall isn't far from Buxton with its lovely Crescent
and some very nice little shops - not your usual High Street fare (although they are there as well), but nice individual establishments. I really enjoyed the craft section of the pavillion; lots of very talented people out there!
We tend to travel round with a map and explore; visit tourist information to get some ideas about what might interest us and where to go. But some places need no introduction or enquiry as to what you need to do there - we visited Bakewell and partook of some Bakewell Pudding!

It can be thoroughly recommended!
Apologies for the quality of the photographs; it's the limitations of a camera phone!

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Where have I been?

A very good question. Nearly then end of July already and I haven't been here since the start of June. How time flies!

Ends of terms, especially at the end of the academic year, can be manic, and this was no exception. So now I have a two week release from work and perhaps I may get some crafting done.

And post some pictures of what I have managed over the last few weeks!

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Sewing Machine Meme

Thought I'd join the sewing meme from Sew, Mama, Sew!

What brand and model do you have?
Husqvarna Designer II

How long have you had it?
3 years

How much does that machine cost (approximately)?
I can't remember, but I think it was around £1500

What types of things do you sew (i.e. quilting, clothing, handbags, home dec projects, etc.)?
Quilts, handbags, little gifts, clothes for myself (and the children when they were younger), cushions & covers, curtains and blinds.

How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get?
I'd like to sew every day but in reality it's probably 2-3 times per week. I have a group who meets here on a Monday and they all use the machine as well, so its pretty well used!

Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name?
Most of the time I like her (yes, it's a she); sometime it's love and occasionally I really don't like her at all! No, she doesn't have a name

What features does your machine have that work well for you?
The main reason I bought the machine is because, when you set the needle to stop in the fabric, the presser foot lifts just a little; enough to swivel fabric. It's fab! I can also purchase cards with alternate stitches and have built a bit of a collection. The fix button is useful, too - no more back and forward to secure the thread at the start and end of rows. Oh, and the scissors - press a button and the thread is cut.

Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine?
Husqvarna say in their advertising blurb that you will never get a bird's nest of thread at the start or end of the row and mention it at demonstrations and on their courses. Wrong! Both my machine and my Mum's (she has the same machine) do it, as does a friend's, who has an Orchidea.

Do you have a great story to share about your machine (i.e., Found it under the Christmas tree? Dropped it on the kitchen floor? Sewed your fingernail to your zipper?, Got it from your Great Grandma?, etc.!)? We want to hear it!
Sadly, no. The only great story about a sewing machine is how my Great Grandma used to take the needle out of her treadle machine so I could sit and treadle. Used to keep me occupied for hours!

Would you recommend the machine to others? Why?
Yes, on balance I would. I had a major electrical problem just before the machine's second birthday (the motor overheated and completely melted the internal workings, fortunately it happened a week the right side fo the 2-year warranty). Other than that, the machine is reliable, hard working and stitches well.

What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine?
Features; I'm a gadget queen. So tempted by the new Bernina that has a stitch regulator for free motion qulting (yeah, it's cheating, but who's to know??). Ability to work with really fine organza and silk but cope with denim and heavyweight furnishing fabrics. Not too much then, eh?

Do you have a dream machine?
I'm quite content with the machine I have so I'm not really sure what is out there at the moment. I guess the only other sewing machine I'd like is a long arm quilter - and somewhere to set it up!

I also have an overlocker, with which I have a distinclty prickly relationship with. Bought to help me cut and sew fabric I knitted with my knitting machine, I never really have got the hang of it. I can usually thread it and sew successfully after a few attempts, but we don't really get on. I guess we are aquaintances and need to spend some more time together to become real friends (and, who knows, maybe best friends eventually!)

Hope you found this interesting; its the first meme I've done and I really enjoyed it!

June already!

A nice start to 'flaming June', but the weather has turned a little today.

We had a wren disaster; the nest fell completely out of the centre of the wreath. I picked it up and the 5 babies were fortunately still under it, but they did a very good impression on kangaroos! Fast as I put them back in the nest, they jumped out again, but weren't quite ready to fly. It took a while to round them all up again

I found an old semi-circular hanging basket, put the nest and babies in and hung it back on the wall. Within 5 minutes, parents were back and feeding. They flegded 2 days later. Phew!

On the crafting front, I've made a bag for a colleague:

Lisa asked a while ago if I would make her a red bag. I don't do red usually, but I saw the fabric in Lexi Loves in Cirencester and immediately though of her.

Lisa wanted a bag to take on holiday that would hold all those bits you feel you have to take with you for the day - especially when you have children. Medium length handles means she can arry it in her hand or over the shoulder and the handles have padding to make them more comfy on those day trips.

Inside a slip pocket and a D ring with a clip for her keys, because I don't think there is anything more annoying than scrabbling around in the bottom of your bag for your keys. Guess that little point is comes from personal frustration (please tell me I'm not the only one who can't find her keys..........) .

Oh, and I made the pattern myself - yay! Not even based on another one; drawn all myself, so I'm feeling rather pleased with myself!

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Three weeks!

How did it get to be three weeks since I last updated this? Where has it gone?

Big Weekend in Lydiard Park was one explanation.

I sorted out my buttons.....
which gave me an extraordinary amount of satisfaction.

I visited three shops. What a contrast! The first one is some distance from home; I had a meeting and some spare time and decided to make a little detour. I often like to do this - my other half reckons I can sniff them out (since I managed to find one on our 'romantic' getaway in Iceland). But this had to be the least friendly and welcoming patchwork shop I have ever visited - such a contrast to the usual help and service you get.

The second is a gorgeous haberdashers in Cirencester called Sew 'n' Sew. Really friendly and helpful, directed other half to coffee shops in the area so I could browse unhindered. Patchwork and dressmaking fabrics plus just about every notion you can think of.

Finally, Lexi Loves (sorry the link is to a map of where to find her; I'm sure she has a website, but I can't find it at the mo). Limited but eclectic selection of fabrics (Kaffe Fassett, Amy Butler style), books, buttons and other odds and ends that not only light up your day, but may inspire you to have a go yourself. I've been here a few times and no matter which staff are on (includng Lexi herself), they're willing to help if needed or let you wander as required.

But I have been buzy with the needle and thread, mostly working on a quilt for my son from another mother ;-)

Grant was pleased with my little creation. Have to say I'm rather chuffed with the design myself.

OK, I'll try not to leave it so long next time!

Friday, 8 May 2009

Time at home

First I'd like to show you what came through the post a week or so ago:A little treat from I know not who! I took part in a secret swap on Misi. You had to make something beginning with the letter of their name. Being a T caused my swapper a few problems, so she came up with a 'trio of gifts'. And a delightful little trio they were too!

So, there are a few perks to having minor surgery - the main one being time at home and forced to sit still. SO I've got a few things done.
A brithday card for my son's girlfriend, who is 18 today! Happy birthday Danni!
Some crochet flowers, ends finished neatly at last and ready for some final additions of buttons .
Chicken update: Here are the girls. Chickens are quite camera shy - my lovely ladies assume I have food and so come up to see what I am doing, which makes it quite difficult to photograph them.
This is the bossy one (now, you'd never have guessed if I hadn't told you, would you?)
And finally, some photos around the garden.
This angelica is nearly 5 feet high, and has grown just this spring! Aliums and wisteria are among my favourite spring flowers

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Busy, busy!

Well, a little behind with the blogging! Chooks are settling in quite nicely, eating well and laying eggs, too.

Some ladies meet at my house on a Monday night for various creative activities (allegedly - more often it's an excuse for a good natter!). Last week, I made an apron for my florist friend Lesley.
Beautifully modelled, doncha think?? I need to get them to allow me to photograph their creative endeavours, too.

Then the fabric arrived for the prom dress (let's not go there). We found it had a flaw on the first 1.5m, but there was enough to get the dress out with a bit of careful cutting.

And much help from my Mum!
The original design didn't have straps, but Beth wanted some, so we added a little design feature
And here it is, not quite in all it's glory yet - shoes still need to be bought so the hem can be done
Beth wants beads on this - and lots of them! She wants it to look lke they've been spilled all over the dress
Looks like I will be busy over the next few weeks!

Sunday, 26 April 2009

We took Cassie for a walk yesterday; found a nature reserve called The Firs. It's mostly oak and beech; abundant bluebells, wood anenomes and dog violets. We had a good - if muddy - time.

On the way there, through the lanes, we spied lots of bluebells, but I didn't have the camera with us (duh!). So we returned there today and I'm so glad we did. There were bluebells as far as the eye could see! It reminded me of my childhood, when bluebells always were collected in the spring (although that is no longer the case, of course). And the scent - we could smell it before we got into the copse
On the drive to Cirencester we saw some parachustists (?)

Also visited the first art car boot sale in the Brewery Arts car park. Lots of talented people selling painting, ceramics, glass and photographs. I bought a gorgeous papercut that asked me to take it home. Perhaps if there's a next time I will consider a pitch.....
Chickens are OK; two couldn't work out how to leave the roost this morning, so needed a helping hand. They're eating very wel - at least, the food is rapidly going!

Saturday, 25 April 2009

A new flock

We thought we would get some more chickens eventually, just not yet. But then a friend told us a local animal rescue had an influx of hens from a battery farm and we decided we could give some a better life.

So here they are, for the first time in their new home.:

As you may have noticed (!), these are not in the condition the others were. They have lots of feathers missing, their eyes are dull and, with the exception of one, their combs are drooping - all signs of poorly chickens.
So we will feed them well, and give them plenty of access to the outside world once they've been with us a couple of days. I hope to document their improvement over the next few weeks
Warning - a soapbox moment! How is it possbile that allowing creatures to end up in this state can be condoned in law and morally? Please, if it's the only thing you do, don't buy anything other than free range eggs.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Sad day

We forgot. The first time ever.

No-one checked the ark was closed. Mr (or Mrs) Fox took the opportunity we presented them with.

I came down this morning to no girls. All gone.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Last day of the holiday for me

Well, I could have asked for better weather for the last day of my holiday. The only plus was watching a robin and several sparrows take an opportune bath in the puddle that has formed on my path.

Thought I'd share the cards I made yesterday - they were all from kits. Not my usual preference (normally I'd make from scratch myself), but they came my way as freebies. Only took a few minutes and it's handy to have a few cards in. Well, my eldest turned 19 today - what better reason to bake more cupcakes. Yes, he had a happy birthday, in spite of the weather
I've been thinking about doing this for a while. Do you ever get or see an idea and find it necessary to mull it over for ages until you actually get round to doing anything about it?
Well, my task was to cover some buttons and make hair clips. So I gathered together my supplies.....

Oh yes, the pleasure of being a procrastinator is that it gives you loads of time to get organised. If that's your thing (and it's certainly mine).
I fought - no, that's not too strong a word - to cover the tiny buttons. The larger ones were much easier.

I had intended on making the clips on the right of the photo. After several abortive attempts, including felt, glue gun and superglue, I gave up after the first 2 shown here, and switched to the coluored barettes. Much more successful. I had planned to put them in my shop but I'm not sure they're going to make it.
The three buttons at the top have been made into magnets for a swap I'm taking part in, the other is a button covered with a piece of Japanese fabric featuring a fawn and made into a brooch.
Funny word, brooch.

Wren update - Mrs Wren didn't chose the nest Mr Wren built in my wreath, but she has chosen one in teh clematis that grows over the front porch. So I get to watch them come and go anyway and I have a lovely nest I can admire without worrying I'm disturbing the little ones. Bonus!

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Mmmmmmmmmmm, Cup Cakes!

I keep seeing cupcakes everywhere; on the web, in magazines. They must be in vogue. All this cakey goodness has made me crave (no, not too strong a word!) cupcakes! So, I made some when my BF Sue came for lunch yesterday.
Though I say so myself, they were lush. Gert lush in fact (it's a Bristol thing)

Been busy with a few crafty bits whilst on my hols from work. I took the plunge and entered a swap, organised by Hennie on Misi. Made a few odds and ends (I found my letter very difficult), but of course I can't post them here until I've posted them to my swapper.

Actually, it's a secret swap, so can I ever post them? I hope so! I don't think my swapper reads the blog (not sure anyone does........!)

So instead, here are the first pictures of the girls:
This is Totty. Beth named her; some in-joke between her and friends.

This is Penny (left) and Lucy. Lucy has some problems with her feathers on this one wing; she came like it and I was hoping that a couple of weeks under our care would improve it. It doesn't seem to cause her any problems, no parasites or anything, but it isn't improving.
As they've only just started laying (2-3 eggs per day now - how many cakes a week is that?), I'm waiting for their first moult, when they will look incredibly sorry for themselves.
My boy (!) is nineteen tomorrow. How did that happen?

Friday, 3 April 2009

Should I post with no photos to show?

Because this is what stops me from blogging. I know it's nice to see photos an' all, but I just haven't been taking any.

It's been a quiet week, actually. No crafting, just looking forward to the Easter break, although I am still in work next week. It promises to be a lovely weekend, so gardening may well be the order of at least some of the day!

Let the chooks into the garden today. They thoroughly enjoyed the grass, although I can't say the primulas particularly enjoyed the attention they got from the girls! They even put themselves away (Cassie may have had a little to do with that!), which was the bit I was dreading the most. They're not as friendly as the last ones - not vicious - perhaps I should say more nervous. They will eat out of my hand, but would rather not.

Are they trying to tell me something???

Sunday, 29 March 2009

I knew I'd left the wreath up for a reason

I just didn't know what that reason was until this morning!

I came down this morning to make a cuppa; up before everyone else as always at the weekend. Staring aimlessly out the kitchen window, I caught sight of movement on the porch. I looked but couldn't see anything. 30 seconds later, out flew a little wren and started to pull bits off my clematis - and promptly returned to the porch.

The wren has built her nest in the middle of the evergreen wreath I put up by the front door at Christmas.

Magic! With luck I'll be able to watch her raise her brood. I put some of Cassie's hair out this morning to assist with the furnishing.

Used the embellisher for a project today - a glasses case for my Mum (shhhhh, don't tell!).

The flowers were created by twisting chenille into loops and needle felting the centre, adding a little silk for lustre. Stem was machine embroidered as were the leaves. And in case anyone thinks of appropriating it for themselves, it has her inital on the back..........

Another bag ready to put in the shop:

The flower was made using this tutorial

Happy birthday, Cassie-dog! 2 today!
I've been doing a little reading on the wren and apparently HE has been building the nest. He builds several and the female chooses the one she wants to lay her eggs in.
Oh, please pick this one!