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July 2007
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September 2007

Bracelet & wrist cuff tutorial

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This is one of a gazillion things you can do with empty toilet rolls. Gracie and I made these when she was home from school ill one day - obviously not too ill. We had such fun I wanted her to play hooky after that. It doesn't have to be too girlie though, Tristan's "wicked" cuff turned out great too - although it was quickly replaced by his Green Day wrist band, little rocker that he is.

The full tutorial is featured on Whip Up today, click here to get it. If you're new to the site I'd love to hear your comments. Thanks Whip Up!


Very easy headband tutorial

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I know, I know - do we really need another headband pattern? If not scroll away now. But I made this pattern because I like the way it fits, and I love the speed at which I can make them - only about 10 minutes each.

These have been little present toppers on girlie birthday pressies all summer round here. Here’s how I do it.

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Materials: Fabric (you don’t need much) - Elastic, 5mm width - Large safety pin - Coordinating thread - Sewing machine, although it could be done by hand with a needle and thread but it might take longer than ten minutes.

1. Cut a 40cm x 10cm piece of fabric out for the main section of the band. Cut a 32cm x 5cm piece of fabric out for the elasticated section of the band, and cut a 13cm length of elastic.

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2. Optional: If you want to embellish your headband, sew ric-rac, lace or any other trim onto the right side of the large piece of fabric at this stage.

3. Finger press the large piece of fabric in half lengthwise and using a 5mm or 1/4" seam allowance, and with wrong sides facing, sew down the raw edge of the length of the fabric creating a long tube. Then repeat with the smaller piece of fabric. Turn both tubes right side out and press flat with the seams running down the middle.

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NOTE: I use the old safety pin method of turning tubes, taught to me by Mrs. Alger, my 4-H sewing teacher when I was about 8 years old. Simply attach a large safety pin to the end of a tube and inch it back through the tube until it’s turned right side out. I've tried all the tube turner tools out there to make this job easy, but the old safety pin method for me is still the best - thanks Mrs. Alger!

4. Turn the ends of the large tube inside about 5mm or 1/4" to create a clean edge and press.

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5. Thread the elastic through the smaller tube and sew across one end of it about one centimetre from the end leaving the one centimetre at the end of the tube with no elastic in it. Then gather the fabric down the elastic and sew the elastic on the other end the same way. This will give the elasticated tube little tails on each end to fit inside the larger tube.

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6. Push the small tube end into a large tube end until the stitching that holds the elastic in place is just covered. Make sure both tubes have the seams facing in the same direction. Fold both edges of the larger tube over on the inside of the tube pointing towards the seam, making the large tube end the same width as the small tube end.

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7. Secure by sewing across the two tubes and repeat on the other side. Don’t even worry how good the stitching looks because ears will hide any messiness - unless your giving this for a gift, then you may want it to be a little tidy.

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ANOTHER NOTE: Embellish them. Add a yo-yo, a row of buttons, felt flowers - or make the band with small scraps for a tiny patchwork style.

LAST NOTE: These headbands seem to fit adults and children equally well.


The art of giving

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My friend's mum, Toos Bressers lives in Holland and creates lovely sculptures.  She generously gives most of her work away as gifts, and this one is going off to a charity auction.

Dianne has many of them throughout her house and garden and I've been the grateful recipient of two of her pieces myself.

Nookoftree1This couple on the left stand in her garden - Dianne added the hollowed out half trunk of a fallen tree which I love.

And here is a bronze, which has a Degas feel about it.Couple1_2

Toos is a very prolific artist and a really lovely person.

I hope to be visiting her and seeing her studio in Holland soon.


Bunny bad news

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I can't believe it. I woke this morning to news from my hubbie that our gorgeous bunnies have gone. Mr Fox has probably had one and we're hoping the other made a great escape. This wouldn't be Fantastic Mr Fox as in our favourite Roald Dahl book, this would be the altogether nastier variety.

These might have to be our last pets for a while, my broken heart can't take any more bunny mishaps. At least Billie and Freckles had a healthy, happy life and were very loved.

Now we're left with just Amy bunny, who as you can see has been roped into yet another tea party with Gracie. She's made clothes for her, but the poor bunny has had them taped onto her. Gracie LOVES tape, apparently it fixes everything... except broken hearts.


Yo-yo tipple

Yoyonow_3Have I ever mentioned my favourite use for yo-yo's? Here it is - add a brooch pin and some ribbons to the back of a yo-yo and attach it to a lovely bottle.

This bottle and yo-yo are going off with us to some friends for lunch today. These little numbers look equally nice adorning bottles of bubbly, but I can't get the kids to drink the stuff so I chose this instead.

If anyone out there has never made yo-yo's before, Heather has this easy tutorial - her site is always worth a look even if just to glimpse some beautiful photography.


Softie patterns, etc.

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Amy bunny, is awaiting clothing. She's one of the toys I've been using my boiled wool blankets on. I have a brown bear on the go too but I still need to perfect this pattern - Amy isn't quite right, but she's still a happy little thing. Gracie is eager to accessorize her, so we will.

I've been trying to make a very simplified bunny patter. I love using the old wool blankets for these, it's so easy to work with and fun seeing these creatures come to life. Some will be going as gifts to new babies - if Gracie will give them up, she's already got Amy round the table for tea and the poor thing is naked!

I've mentioned Lyn's boiled wool tutorial before but it's great and worth linking it again - she has a very cute mouse tutorial that also uses this wool.

The jaunty floral fabric behind Amy is a vintage remnant I recently found. I'm going to make some shopping bags out of it. I'm useless at remembering to bring my own bags to shops, I thought this fabric might help me remember by screaming "Use me instead of those horrible plastic things you always see up a tree or floating in the canal!"

If I was any good at crocheting I could actually turn all of those horrible plastic bags into something nice using Cindy's techniques. She actually makes plastic yarn out of carrier bags (she calls it plarn) and she makes patterns and crochets bags of all sorts - genius! She has great pattern tutorials on her site.

When we get Amy clothed and a pattern perfected I'll post again.


A Perfect Summer Day

TobagganI walked home hand-in-hand with my son last night led by the plastic neon sword he purchased at the Venetian Fête we'd just left. I smiled quietly on what had been the end to a perfect Summer day, and also the fact that my 9 year old walked home with me hand-in-hand - it was dark, no one could see him.

We had planned to go tobogganing with friends that day - yes tobogganing, no there wasn't snow, my kind of tobogganing because it was warm. We were the only people at this dry ski run so the kids had a great time and wore themselves out something silly.

We returned to our house and the children played happily for hours and hours while my friend Dianne and I talked, read magazines and chatted about nothing in particular for hours and hours.

Jail1The children had dinner, laughed a lot and found inspiration in a fork - it always shows up in the darnedest places. This is one of their "get me out of jail" photos. Notice Tristan's hardened criminal look.

When our friends had gone, Paul and I walked down the hill with the children to a local Venetian Fête, a biannual event that's been happening here since 1860. It's held on the Royal Military Canal, a canal that was first dug by the military to help fight the Napoleonic wars - but Napolean never came. Now it's just a lovely waterway to ride bikes along, walk around and row on.

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The Venetian Fête is a perfect Summer event. Local clubs and businesses make floats on small boats or barges and parade them down the canal. At night they illuminate them and float down the canal again while fireworks explode overhead and bands play. It's amazing and great fun for everyone - except those frightened by fireworks like little Gracie who went home with daddy as night fell.

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This is the local theater group...

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the float by the church bell ringers...

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and my favourite "Baked Alaska" the global warming themed float, now that is crafting on a large scale.

This was our first year of attending the Fête and it was fantastic. I know it will be one of the highlights of the Summer for my children. Hats off to all those who take part in their communities, like those who made this event happen this year and have done for the last 147 years!

As I tucked Tristan into bed at a very late hour last night and closed the door on he and his glowing neon sword I wondered, what did 9 year olds take home with them after the first Venetian Fête in 1860? Probably just happy memories.


Baby Bunting

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So here it is finished, ready to hang up in little Harry's bedroom - although I quite like it here in the garden. Now to complete gifts for all the other babies. My friends and family just keep reproducing - recently found out three cousins are expecting, all in January and nearly all on the same day!


Week O' Wips

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Ever feel you get just a little bit of a lot of things done but never really finish anything? I've had one of those weeks. I've been creating new Christmas projects and making samples for Creative Steps (the mag I made this project for) which feels particularly odd since here in Kent we're experiencing the warmest weather we've had all year. I created another tutorial for Whip Up, it's a children's recycled craft project - I'll link it when it's up.

I've also been cutting into the stash of new fabric I got while in the States. When I came across this little number I had to have it, didn't know why - just had to.

Maybe it was the smoking elephant wearing glasses about to enjoy a cup of tea, or could it have been this gleeful little band? They were destined to come home with me.

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Then upon returning to the UK we visited some friends and their new baby only to find his nursery was in the exact colours found in this fabric - not a plastic primary colour in site! I decided to make some bunting for him and applique his name in the same way I made these.

And as soon as all these little things turn into finished big things I'll post the pictures.

Now I'm off to do a really important thing, cycling with both my kids. Important because the stabilisers have been removed from Gracie's bike. Now that is big.