Pattern gold

George_&_Aurora

Newlywed birds made for a sweet couple of friends who recently married.

After a long hiatus, I'm back with a few blog design changes and that overdue pattern recommendation. Typepad are very slowly coming around to responsive themes. This one I'm using (still in beta) is the first I've found that works properly. What do you think?

Artist, Ann Wood's Little Bird pattern was perfect for a couple of gifts I wanted to make. I've always loved her designs, it was a real treat to find that she's now selling her patterns, including her amazing ships. Ann has a lovely style to the way she writes her tutorials.

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This one was for a robin loving friend.

I'm pleased with these little birds but I'd do a few things differently if I made them again sometime. Getting better wire for one thing and stuffing until the seams nearly burst for another. The newlyweds in particular have kind of saggy bottoms.

These birds are quite small so they're perfect for using up scraps. They're so easy to customize and make your own yet retain the sweet face the Ann created.

Today I noticed Ann added a post to her website where she recommends her favourite tools. If you're a softie maker or trying out one her new patterns you'll probably find tips there you've read about nowhere else.

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Shadowplay on a sunny day.

And today is Mother's Day in the UK. So happy Mother's Day to all mums everywhere.

Here is a link to my favourite UK flower shop feed on Instagram. I send you all a virtual bouquet.

Happy Sunday :)


Fabric gift box or bag, tutorial – in time for Christmas!

Fabric gift box
Fabric box/bag with unfinished edges

I made a necklace for a friend recently and had no spare box or bag to package it in so I thought it was a good time to try out making a gift box I'd been mulling over in my mind for a while. I used buckram to support this box, which really has more of a bag look to it.

Inside gift box
Inside the box is lined

I'd bought buckram to use for making fairy hats for Gracie when she was younger and somewhat girlier and I massively over bought the stuff. The type of buckram I bought is used for making roll-up shades; it's white, thin and foldable (not sure that word exists). I've thought of many uses for it since then but haven't followed through on any ideas yet apart from this one. I know it exists in heavier, more hessian style weights and I'm sure that would be a great support material for larger jobs.

This box is just a few inches tall. I sandwiched the buckram between two layers of fabric using fusible webbing and I left the edges unfinished. I've created a quick template in the actual size I used but it could easily be scaled up or down. As I uploaded these images the box has reminded me of fabric lunchbags so there are probably similar templates around. If you'd like this one here is the Fabric Box Template and tutorial in a PDF file to download.

I also thought they'd be easy to make for wedding favours, they could be dressed up or down with lace or flowers, buttons, rubber stamps...

Grace car driver

Yesterday was spent on some belated birthday present activity, as you can see, Gracie is way beyond the fairy hat making stage, now she prefers being a "Gracecar" driver ;)

Children went back to school today after half-term break, time to catch up.

Have a great week.

Jx


Pattern Review and Winners

New tunic sml

I've hoarded this blue medium weight linen for so long now, waiting to make this tunic, the pattern designed by Meg McElwee of Sew Liberated. Finally my need for new clothes won out and I made it, bit-by-bit. I literally worked on it in 15 minute intervals whenever I could squeeze the sewing in. That in mind, it was an easy pattern to follow, requiring simple supplies and not much brain power. I enjoyed making it so much that my desire to own a good serger is making me a little crazy. Because I used linen I zig-zagged every seam to decrease fraying and make in longer wearing, a serger would have been so much quicker,

I like the shape of this tunic because of it's slightly sinched-in, high waist and in linen it's really a blank canvas for embellishment. As I'm small, flowy tunics tend to drown me or make me look like I'm wearing a nightie though I'm really loving the way this one Margie made turned out.

Things to think about in making this pattern
Skill level. I would consider it for intermediate sewists, not beginner. A true beginner might struggle with a couple of things like sewing on curves and top-stitching, both tasks that need a little time to master. If you've sewn tops with sleeves before then this won't be a difficult pattern for you.

Also, the pattern suggested a lightweight fabric, the one I chose is not lightweight linen and I love the way it turned out so I would suggest a fabric with some drape is necessary, but light or medium weight will work.

Sizing. The pattern is for size 2 - 20. One reason I chose this tunic pattern was the fact that it is in two parts, top and skirt. I like the idea of being able to make the skirt bigger as the top of my body is very narrow and my bottom is not.

I found it true to size after making it, but as it was my first attempt I chose to make the top size 6/8 even though I'm a 2/4 because I didn't want it to be snug with tops worn underneath – the smaller size would have been fine. And though I made the skirt from the 10/12 pattern and reduced the waist to the 6/8 to match the top, I didn't have to, in fact the skirt turned out a bit big so I might alter it at some point. Due to the fuller skirt of this pattern the 2/4 all over would have fit just fine but I still love it the way it is. Clear as mud?

Should you have the opposite sizing issue of being bigger on top then on the bottom this pattern would be handy for you too. Simply adjusting the waist size of the top by tapering it in at the sides to fit the smaller bottom. 

I like the way Meg writes her patterns, they're worded the way we might explain instructions to a friend, unlike traditional patterns. 

So the verdict, I will definitely use this pattern again, but I would stick to a smaller size overall because there's plenty of room in the skirt. 

Now on to the Action Pack Winners
The winners were Val (aka Dottycookie) and Silvia of Little Green Doll. Thanks for participating, I'll pass your names on to Kathreen and you'll receive email from her regarding your copy. It may take a little while for her to get back to you though, she's travelling with her family for a whole year and not always able to get Internet connection. Find details about this latest "Water" issue here.

Have a great weekend,

Jx


Gifting

For teacher
For teachers

Gracie made a flower and bird ornament for her teacher. A repurposed embroidered tray cloth became a small gift bag with chocolates that the birdie snuggled into. Tristan's teacher is also his math teacher so he got a math themed bookmark.I'd like to tell you T made it himself, but he simply approved it. 

Purl Bee Booties WIP
Purl Bee booties 

So today winter break starts and happily the sun is back out and the fierce winds have died down, though I hear 70,000 homes are still without power up north. I'm now sitting here soaking in the warmth and savouring my last few hours of me time for the next month. I loved this simple baby bootie pattern from Molly's Sketchbook at Purl Bee. Lucky we have a brand new baby cousin that I can whip a pair up for so these are being finished.  

Also, I'm really loving these tinies from Lisa, these wonderful paintings by Claire Desjardins found via Erin and also the new Bookhou ceramics (though I think they're all gone already). And these fun marshmallow reindeer lollies look so simple they'll be added to our vacation activites. (found via Pinterest).

Now I'm off to make some dough for dinner, it's going to be Friday night pizzas for us.

Happy weekend to you,

Jx


A new, old pattern and a visitor

Wild skies & rainbows

We've had some wild skies lately. With extraordinary images like this one it's easy to see how one could expect to see magical little people living in this landscape. 

Gnomebody's-home
Log cabin Gnomebody's Home cushion

Gnomebody's-Home-sampleYou may recognize this pattern and cushion, I made it at least three years ago.
I wanted to offer up this "Lights are on but gnomebody's home" pattern then but I started to feel a little gnomed-out, by the time I went to put it online gnomes were e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e!

A sweet person called Ruth stitched this one up for me to test the pattern but I can't find her blog any more to link to. She's since gone off to start uni so she's probably now involved in busy studenty stuff. Click on the cushion image to make it larger and see what a beautiful job she made of it. 

I decided to get him out of hard drive storage, dust him off and offer him up. The pattern can be found here.

Gnome homes

Everywhere I look while I walk this time of year seems I see places that could be home to fairies, gnomes and sprites – hopefully no trolls. Little mossy logs and toadstool villages are perfect homes. These agarics are from a few weeks ago and I thought we'd have no more after our warm spell, but I spotted new ones yesterday, also loads of parasols in the grasses and earthballs in the woods. Lucky the frost hasn't set in too badly yet to finish off the fungi.

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Now the leaves are copper and gold and hailing down. Soon they'll be gone and I haven't managed any nice images yet. Hopefully I'll get some in the coming week when I drag my sister up and down hills and through the woods with me. She's visiting from Texas where she now lives and there they've had several months of outrageously hot and dry weather – hope she packed her layers and her walking boots.

Hope you have a magical day :)

Jx


Give us a hand

Mummy's-hand
Mummy's hand, photo by Gracie

Gracie was working on a drawing and she wanted a hand model. I wasn't good at keeping my hand still enough so she photographed it instead. The clutter in the background is what my desk looks like when more than one project at a time is happening, which admittedly is often. I thought about Photoshopping it all out but I like real life better – though I often wish I could Photoshop it all out in real life and save the time of clearing up all my junk.

Surprise-tutorial
Gracie's hand, photo by Mummy

And speaking of projects, Gracie will soon be posting her first tutorial on her blog. The other day she spotted something at a shop that she really, really wanted and I said "No because I can show you how to make your own with supplies we already have and I promise you will like even more than the one in the shop." She wasn't convinced. I can't steal her thunder so I won't give it away but she's extra excited about her results and can't wait to share how to make them (although chances are you may have made them yourself already!) A tiny little thing, but it really ignited her enthusiasm to make instead of buy which of course made me smile really big inside :)

Phone-sleeve
A quick something for me

On Wednesday I spent a fun hour with six girls and their ideas for making things with old clothes; I'd hoped at least one boy would be in our textiles group but maybe some will join in time. One of the items I shared with them was this protective sleeve I whipped up for my phone. I've been wanting to make one for the longest time, I'm not crazy about the cases in the shops. This denim sleeve made from old jeans took me no time to make and even though it's very simple it's just what I wanted. It's been a long while since I made something for me so then I got right into another project just for me that I'll show soon. Two in one week, I'm getting spoiled ;)

Apple-thief
Apple thief

One last photo before I say goodnight. Hurricane Katia didn't effect us as much as the north of the country but it sure brought down a lot of apples. Too bad poor Pippi just found out she can't have the plums and apples any more, too hard on her tummy says the vet.

Have a great week,

Jx

 


Tiptoeing through the toadstools

I couldn't help showing a few more of the agarics. There is a small wood that I visit when I only have time for a short walk – this is where I found the mushrooms from the last post. One section has a huge crop of these red fly agarics. Our recent storm on the tail of hurricane Katia dropped branches on to many of them but there are many more untouched, apart from the odd slug feast here and there.

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Agarics after the storm

Agaric-emerging
Agaric emerging

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Twins

Agaric-umbrella
Agaric umbrella 

Agaric-window
Slug window

Agarics-in-sand
Agarics in the sand

If you're on the hunt for agarics the area where these are flourishing best is at the base of birch trees and in various mosses. The soil where they grow is well draining due to sand deposits in the area. I also spotted more in a small grove of holly trees. In both cases the agarics are along the edge of the wood, I rarely find them deeper in the woods where there is less sunshine.

I'm sure the attraction agarics hold is partly the surprise of their vibrant colour but it's also so easy to imagine tiny creatures carving out homes in them, the stuff of Enid Blyton and Beatrix Potter.

Recently I've also been really enjoying crafting with wood again, more about wood projects next month.

A-surprise

I'm returning to the classroom this afternoon teaching some after school activities. We'll be working with repurposed textiles and doing lots of hand stitching – I'm very excited about it, in fact I'd better get back to organizing materials.

Before I go, Tara is giving away some of her gorgeous soap, enter here. And Feeling Stitchy has an interesting stitched book cover contest starting here.

Happy Wednesday!

Jx 


Visits and small makes

Jug-of-blues
Jug of blues

Last week I had a mini holiday away in Kent for a few days all by myself. I visited and stayed with friends, enjoyed their gardens, was cooked for, met a new babe, imbibed a bit, and laughed a lot. Thank you friends.
I had planned on crafting and painting but really enjoyed doing a lot of nothing instead. These are a few images from my break.

Feeding-daisies
Rufus feeding chickens daisies

Holly-hock-heaven
Hollyhocks, maybe my favourite summertime flower

Fun-little-people
Catching up with little friends

Sweet-porch
A sweet porch

Birds-and-pots
Rusty birds and pots

Gracie had a friend over this week who was desperate to use a sewing machine for the first time. We made head bands from jersey fabric with liberty flowers and bookmarks from my scrap bag, with their straight cuts and straight seams both projects are perfect for first time sewists. Also a simple way to learn about turning, trimming corners and stitching up gaps.

Scrap-crafting
Sewing with children

And I altered an old favourite top of Gracie's while she was out. She would never have let me give it the chop if she were home, but she's ecstatic with the result. Though the top is only a age 4 -5 there was plenty of flowy fabric for a skirt and it has pockets too.

Favourite-old-top
An old favourite made new again

Favourite-new-skirt
A new favourite skirt

Hope you're enjoying everything summer has to offer. I'm off next week home to California with Gracie for my parent's 50th wedding anniversary celebration, can't wait to immerse myself in family and fun. And while I'm away my big boy becomes a teen so he's staying home to celebrate his own big event.
13, how on earth did that happen!?!

Happy weekend,

Jx

PS, We'll miss you Amy.

 


FInished top and Thursday rainbows

Linen linen top for G
Linen top for Gracie 

I've managed to complete a WIP that has been hanging around for a good while now. This top I was originally making for myself in the loveliest linen but it turned out way too small though I followed the pattern size chart, so I finished it off for Gracie, eventually. She was very happy, in a jumping up and down sort of way, though the photo doesn't look like it. The top is an old Built By Wendy for Simplicity pattern (number 3835 but I can't see it on the Simplicity website). The applique is the Out On a Limb pattern here. If you get this Built by Wendy top pattern be warned, it runs very small. The one I made myself back in February is here.

Chasing the pot of gold
Chasing the pot of gold

Poppytalk Summer Colour week is rainbow today. Which technically isn't a colour it's multiple colours. My contributions you may have seen before. A rainbow from a few weeks ago; two photos I spliced together in Photoshop, not particularly well, but enough to get the full arc in there. If you click on it to enlarge the image you can just see a second full rainbow above the brighter one - this scene was over the field next to us. If I'd had the time and didn't have to get dinner on I think I would have high-tailed it after the pot of gold.

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Pans of watercolours

And another reissued image from a painting session in March. Those were the only two rainbows I could manage.

Happy Thursday, hope the sun shines on you.

Jx


Vintage petals

Vintage petals

On my never ending quest for space I was clearing a few things I thought I would wear but haven't, including this vintage silk dress. I love it but always feel like mutton when I try it on. As I was reaching for the giveaway bag I realized it won't be long before little G can wear it, so I mended the drooping flower, repaired loose stitches here and there and put it away for another day.

I can't believe how huge the peonies I planted just last year are. They're lovely and healthy with loads of blooms and the bunnies aren't interested in the slightest, no doubt that's the reason they're thriving. I adore them and their olden-days look.

Lots of rain is predicted for the week so I spent most of yesterday trimming hedges, battling stinging nettles (again) and cutting out brambles. And so you know, if you accidentally cut the power cable on your hedge trimmer while you're using it you get a shock and blow a fuse... just thought you might have wondered.

Happy Sunday :)