Could This Be The Start Of Something Big?

Here are some of my cotton scraps.    I say ‘some’ because there are quite a few more.  I was industrious at some stage – can’t remember when – and cut some scraps into squares and strips so there’s a box of those somewhere and also a box totally dedicated to scraps of Liberty of London tana lawn which I get out and stroke now and again.

Anyway, I think it’s time something was done with all these bits of pretty floating around and, inspired by the beautiful quilt Kate has made entirely from scraps,  which is so lovely she’s entering it into her local Quilt Show, and by the fact Kate and Gun host a Scraphappy Day once a month, I thought I’d throw design and colour coordination to the wind and make a scrappy quilt myself.

I’ll be making them all with a 12 inch finished size and using the QAYG (quilt as you go) method to join them all up.

I know I’m already starting on the F2F Block Swap that Kate organises but those blocks will be more complex and I’ll be strictly sticking to the chosen colours of the other participants whereas these ones will be put together in a vaguely random fashion – let’s call it ‘organic’.

My first block was put together on a whim and, if I’d had my head on, I would perhaps have chopped those large pieces up a bit more but, hey, it’s an organic process, remember.

The next one’s better and even has some yellow in it which I don’t usually countenance but I must have used it in something in order to have the scraps.

They probably won’t end up next to each other but, as I only have two at the moment, there is no option.  I’ll think about sashing etc. further down the road.

If you want to see what can become of joining scraps together, you can see Kate’s beauty here – but don’t expect mine to be ‘show worthy’ necessarily.  Although I might be able to show you a much emptier scrap box by the end of it.

Here are the others who take part in ScrapHappy Day every month or every now and again.  If you fancy joining in – you can use any scraps you want to – fabric, yarn, paper, etc. – just contact Kate or Gun.

 

Kate Gun,TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn(me),  Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, JanKaren,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancyAlysKerryClaireJean, Jon
and Hayley

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One Swallow Does Not A Summer Make

Well, thanks Aristotle and I’m here to tell you that, apparently, neither do zillions of swallows as the weather is still wet, thundery and generally rubbish and there are plenty of swallows around who probably wish they’d stayed where they were.

I even did the dressmaking equivalent of a rain dance (only for sun) by using fabric liberally scattered with swallows to make a summer dress.

This one –

……..but it didn’t work and we are still having the wettest weather  – December through June to date – since records began (probably) but definitely since we moved here over thirteen years ago.  If we have a rare hot, sunny day it ends up in a thunderstorm.

If it wasn’t for the lack of English pubs, bluebells, good Indian restaurants and the sense of humour, we might as well be back in the U.K. although they have been enjoying the warmest May since records began but I don’t begrudge them because nobody appreciates a bit of sun like the Brits.

Anyway, I have been busy inside making the Sew Over It 1940s Wrap Dress which I decided to make for Mlle. Tialys the Younger.

It has a few tricksy features such as the shawl collar on the bodice and pleated shoulders and there was quite a lot of hand finishing involved but…..

…….I have had an epiphany and found that the more challenging or involved a project, the more liable I am to concentrate on getting it right.   The jersey ‘dress in an hour’  type projects are good for instant dressmaking therapy but, because they are simple and quick to do (especially on an overlocker/serger), I tend to plunge right in and steamroll through and that’s often when I make mistakes.

I’m not saying I didn’t make any mistakes on this project.  The first time I sewed the skirt on to the waistband of the bodice, I didn’t match the right seams up and couldn’t work out why the wrap wasn’t wrapping in the way the designer intended.  Still, you get my drift.

I’m very pleased with the way this fabric sewed up especially as it was around £3 per metre from an Ebay seller with some rather good bargains.

A close up of my lovely collar and pleats and set in sleeve because I’m so chuffed when I get things right and it makes a change from me pointing out my mistakes.

A back view because you need to look good when you’re walking away don’t you.

Here it is on a real life model, albeit headless, as I promised her she would be.

I’m definitely going to make one of these for myself – just got to fall in love with some fabric……….

and wait for the Summer to start.

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49 Comments

Time To Get The Ironing Board Out

No! Don’t be ridiculous, I’m not going to make inroads into the basket of long-forgotten shirts and rashly chosen clothes made from inconvenient fabric that has the nerve to crease.  No – the Foot Square Freestyle Block Swap is back and I will be needing to press small pieces of delicious fabric on a regular basis.

Kate, over at Tall Tales from Chiconia has, once again, taken on the organisation of the third F2F worldwide block swap, bless her.  I can only think she must enjoy herding cats as, whenever I have been rash enough to take on the role of an organiser, that’s what it seems to be like.  Which is why I’m a team player rather than a team leader.

There are nine of us this year from all over the World and we will each make three blocks a month and send them to the person who has been drawn out of a hat to be the recipient that month.  We can all choose what colours we want but the design is up to the person making the blocks so all skill levels are catered for.  At the end of ‘our’ month, or shortly afterwards, we will have 27 blocks measuring 12 inches (finished size) – hence the ‘foot square’ of the title if you speak ‘imperial measurements’  – with which to make into a quilt.

If you have followed me for a while you will know that I have participated in both the previous swaps and, the first time, I ended up with all of these beauties-

and the second time with this one in more ‘manly’ colours as I wanted it for Mr. Tialys

I have missed the swap as I couldn’t find anything else like it when Kate took a year off from doing it last year and it was a very good exercise for improving patchwork skills, trying out some new ones (foundation paper piecing anyone?)  plus working with colours you might not normally use yourself.

As last time, my name was drawn out of the hat first so I will be ‘Miss June’ (which is appropriate as it’s my birthday month) and will be receiving three blocks from all the other participants some time later in the month or early in July.  Just wondering – why is it that my name never comes first out of the hat when there are big prizes to be won?

Anyway, these are some inspirations for my colour choices this time

Neutrals with shades of grey (although not as many as fifty) from pale to charcoal

some beige and cream

with vintage, faded rose pinks .

Why did my parents not provide me with such a bedroom when I was a child?   Would I have appreciated it if they did?  Probably not but I still feel slightly miffed.

So, I have made my first block just to get my hand in as I am severely out of practice and need to improve before I start sending out work to those who may or may not be more capable than me (but probably are).

A simple one to start but, even then, one of my points isn’t perfect.  The further down the line the participant is the better off they’ll be as I probably won’t be fully up to speed again for a couple of months.  Although, of course, I will be trying very hard.  There’s nothing like sending off your work to others who do the same sort of work to inspire improvement.

 

 

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There’s A Mouse In The House

Among the many books I bought when I took up the crochet hook was one featuring animal trophy heads.  A strange choice I think you’ll agree but one can only have so many blankets around the place and I thought they might be fun.

I started with the smallest animal in the book – a mouse – which may have been a mistake as I’m not used to using 4-ply yarn and a 2mm hook so it was a bit fiddly but it is done.

Mr. T. made me a little wooden shield out of some scrap wood he had lying about.

Now the cats have the first of what might well be several trophies for ‘their room’ aka our conservatory.  Maybe it will discourage them from bringing any more real ones in but I doubt it.

I think I’ll do the hare next but I won’t hang that in the cats’ room in case it gives them ideas.

I know they don’t look very dangerous but, trust me, I wouldn’t want to be a mouse (or mole!) in the vicinity (plus there are four others lurking out of shot!)

To think I used to say ‘life’s too short to stuff a mushroom’.

As I used some scrap yarn – albeit Jaegar alpaca no less – and the wood was scrap too, I’m linking up with Kate and Gun’s Scraphappy Day for which we attempt to make something using scraps every month – or just when we have something to show.

Kate,  Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn (me),  Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, JanKaren,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancyAlys, Kerry and Claire

Now, enough with the animal crochet – I have a half finished dress draped over two mannequins that won’t finish itself.

 

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I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face

Remember the super sized amigurumi dog I made from the ‘Edward’s Menagerie Dogs’ book?

Well, I’ve made her a baby.

Actually, this is the ‘standard sized’ dog – there is a smaller one which I might attempt one day although I suspect it might be a bit fiddly and, anyway, I quite like this size.

This time I didn’t take any chances with the placement and used things to mark where I wanted to put the eyes and nose.  I used a piece of felt to mark where the nose should go and then  sewed it on anyway because it looked just right to me.

I gave him some eyebrows because I love dog’s eyebrows – they make me laugh.

I also gave him a rakish grin and a pretend collar and bell so the rabbits will hear him coming.

I know I asked for advice about his Mum’s features because they are nowhere near perfect and  I was going to change them but, as Professor Higgins said, ‘I’ve grown accustomed to her face’.  She will henceforth be known as Eliza – if anybody should ask.

Anyway, I have two dogs under my belt now – things can only get better – I’m going for the English Bull Terrier next.

As you know, I recently finished the divine Eastern Jewels blanket.  I’ve worked out that I probably have enough yarn left in some of the colours to make another one with the purchase of just 5 or 6 more balls.  Hooray!

But not yet.

Firstly, I have another project up my sleeve.  I was tempted by my favourite wool shop who sent me the object of my  desire in their lovely tote bag.

The pattern is by Emma Varnam in Scheepjes River Washed and Stone Washed yarns and came as a kit.

A small photo of my instructions which came with the yarn but you can see the whole beautiful, ripply blanket on Emma’s blog here.

It’s very lovely but what really tipped me over the edge tempted me were the teeny balls of wool in their own box which, together with three 50g  balls of cream coloured Scheepjes Stone Washed yarn included in the kit, will make the blanket.

Be still my heart.

Fifty fabulous little 10g balls of wool.  Trouble is, they look so cute in their box, I don’t want to open it.  I might have to buy another one and hang it on the wall but that would be the work of a crazy woman.  Wouldn’t it?

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The Eastern Jewels Finish – An End to the Ends

After all the octagons

and all the squares, the large triangles and the small triangles,

and the seemingly endless ends to be sewn in.

After going maverick and doing a slightly different border in different colours,

taking a deep breath, hand washing it and spinning it for a short time tied in a pillow case with a couple of bath sheets to prevent too much agitation, as recommended,

blocking it out to a 45 inch square on several yoga mats

it’s finished!

I started this in late October when I was in the U.K. looking after my Mum with my sisters.

Finished in April just before going back over to the U.K. to see my daughter in her new flat for the first time.

I’ve loved every minute of making this – well, apart from sewing in the ends that is but, if you do them as you go along it’s not so bad.

I would never have put all these colours together myself but it’s been so cleverly worked out that the overall effect is really stunning  and just goes to prove that going outside your comfort colour zone now and then can be a revelation.

So – we put the flags out – or the patchwork flag up – something I’ve been nagging reminding Mr. T. to help me with for some time now and, as you can see, it didn’t end up in the long, empty corridor as discussed in my earlier post but in the lovely old rickety wooden stairway leading up to the top floor.

Now, what’s next?

Actually, I won’t lie, I’ve already ordered another kit – a different one this time and it should be here by the time I get back from my U.K. trip so I’ll show you then but I am definitely going to make this one again in the future.

Well, I’ve got the pattern now, it would be silly not to.

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In Which I Attempt To Prove I’m Not a Complete Numpty

Remember my kimono wrap that turned into a Sorbetto top that was then turned into the bin….

..and my troubles with a crocheted dog’s nose?

Well, just to prove I can triumph from time to time, I will cast modesty aside and show you my Ultimate Trousers which fit me so well I daren’t put on or lose the tiniest bit of weight.

Made from this pattern by Sew Over It, they are very simple being four pieces plus a waist facing and an invisible side zip – the secret of course is getting the fit right.

I’m not overly keen on stylised pattern sleeve drawings because these trousers don’t really come out as narrow as that – well, not on my skinny legs they didn’t – but that can be changed along with the other fitting issues.

I signed up for a couple of lessons with a local teacher who is multi talented in that you can go to her with projects from patchwork to upholstery to dressmaking and lots of other things in between.  I thought if I could just get the fit right on these, being such a simple style,  I could use the altered pattern on any future trousers I might be tempted to make.

Anyway, it was very helpful to be pinned in professionally and guided through where I needed to make the alterations.  My crotch was O.K., you’ll be delighted to learn,  but my hips were way out and I wanted the legs narrower so I made the toile in a U.K. size 12 and then much pinning of seams was done by the teacher.    The resulting block veers between a size 8 in places through size 10 and I think the waist stayed at a size 12 albeit with a pinch taken out at centre front and back.  No wonder my original pair that I made straight out of the packet don’t come anywhere near fitting me.  Having said all that, there is a sew-along on Sew Over It’s blog which guides you through fitting issues but being professionally pinned in was very helpful as it would have been difficult to do that myself and it’s not something I would entrust to family members for many and various reasons.

So, a side view with me hitching up my t-shirt to show the whole thing.

and a back view to show you that success is possible even when you have a fear of trousers/pants which I was disappointed to find there is no word for – after all, there is even a word for a fear of beards (pogonophobia) and it’s not as if you see people running down the streets in panic when they see a bearded man or blocking up their chimneys at Christmas in case they catch sight of Father Christmas’s snowy white example.  Anyway, I digress.

This fabric was admired by those in the sewing class although I wouldn’t normally wear patterned trousers but this was something I had in my stash, I think originally intended for a shirt dress. However, they could be a wearable toile as long as I don’t eat too much or too little (the latter being less likely).

Anyway, I went to my bin, shook off all the bits of thread and pattern tissue paper thrown on top of it and retrieved the failed Sorbetto top.

I cut off the sleeves (which were a hack of the original pattern anyway) and bound the armholes with the same stuff I’d used for the neck….

….which looked fine and also served the purpose of getting rid of the slight puffiness on the shoulders I’d managed to incorporate when setting in the sleeves…..

……did a rolled hem on the overlocker

…… et voila.

It’s not perfect but it’s not in the bin either and Mlle. T. the Younger has already hung it up in her wardrobe ready for the warmer weather.

I’m now on the hunt for the perfect fabric to make another pair of trousers – not denim, not stretch and preferably not overly patterned – anybody got any suggestions?

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28 Comments

Animal Faces

Remember my ‘butternut squash’ dog that I was making using the ‘Edwards Menagerie Dogs’ Book?

He was looking a bit sad, which isn’t surprising as he hadn’t been sewn together yet and had a knitting needle through his head to hold it on to his body for photo shoot purposes which I don’t think would be anybody’s position of choice.  I say he was looking sad but, not having a face, we could only guess at his emotions although I think the body language was clear.

Anyway, the reason I don’t usually make toys of any description – or one of the many reasons – is that I can’t get those features right.  I’m not at all skilled with embroidery threads of any sort .  However, having ‘rediscovered’ crochet fairly recently, I wanted to try my hand at amigurumi because there are lots of cute ones out there and I haven’t done much crochet in the round so thought it would be a challenge.  Impatient to start, I only had this very chunky wool available in a vaguely suitable ‘dog colour’ and that’s why I went for the large size to start instead of the standard.  I think that is what scared me most about adding the nose and eyes so I asked my friend Sandra – who has made quite a few toys and is also au fait with the embroidery side of things – to do the nose for me.

She was a bit disappointed with the result but I pretended to be happy and brought him home.  She doesn’t read my blog (I hope) so I’m going to unpick it and try it myself.  I don’t like the eyes either.

Any tips would be appreciated but, firstly, I think the features should maybe be chocolate coloured instead of black.  Secondly, I think the nose might be too big (as well as being a bit on the wonk) and, thirdly the eyes are probably too high up.

What do you think?

Other than that, I think he’s kind of cute – I say ‘he’ but I think this might be a girly dog for some reason – I’m getting a feminine vibe off this particular arrangement of yarn which is not something you hear me say every day.

 

Leon is unimpressed.

Mac thinks it’s hilarious

and I think we can all tell what Yuki thinks of it.

Sorry about that last bit but, the post is called ‘Animal Faces’ and any excuse to put photos of my lovely cats on the blog, especially when they’ve obliged me with such ‘appropriate’ expressions, is not to be ignored.

Seriously though – if you can offer any advice on getting features looking just right, I’d be very grateful.

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32 Comments

From Kimono to Sorbetto to Oh, No!

Back in dressmaking mode, I ordered some fabric online.  I know, I know, I’ve got plenty in my stash – although not as much as in my patchwork stash but we won’t go there.  Anyway, I fancied this ‘satin’ type fabric would make a nice kimono style robe to wear in the mornings to replace my big fluffy dressing gown now the days are getting (a bit) warmer.

I searched for a freebie robe tutorial online and found one here 

I should know by now that free online patterns and me do not go together well especially where measurements and calculations are involved but this one seemed very simple.  After all, it basically involves five rectangles.  I did notice, in the comments, some people had found the measurements resulted in a somewhat ‘skimpy’ fit so cut it out a little bigger.  At least, that was until the ‘satin’ slid about under my rotary cutter and I ended up having to trim it up a bit where the bottom layer had shifted out of place.  Pressing on regardless, I got the thing sewn up and looking gorgeous – until I tried it on and realised I couldn’t actually move my arms in a forward direction without risk of hearing the ripping of fabric.

Mlle. Tialys the Younger had admired the fabric so I thought I could salvage enough to make her a Sorbetto top.  This is a free pattern from Colette which I have actually had lots of success with in the past.

All was going O.K. until she tried it on and the shoulders were too wide so I took them in but alterations aren’t my strong point and there was a bit of puffy action going on here and there.

Still, I thought she could live with that and proceeded to bind round the neck and sleeves.

I used commercial binding because I couldn’t bear the thought of making it myself with the satin fabric which moves and shifts and generally makes a nuisance of itself badly enough without trying to make binding out of it.  I couldn’t find any satin binding locally though so used the stuff that is usually available which is of some unknown cheapo material and a bit stiff.  You know what’s coming don’t you?

Flushed with the success of  neck and sleeve binding and wilfully ignoring my better instincts, I bound the hem too.  Which, as you can probably guess, removed the drape and made the hem stand out from the body in a way I couldn’t possibly pretend was intentional.

Shame – the back looked very nice.

If the sleeves had been perfect I would have taken the time to unpick the binding from around the hem but, it wasn’t, so rather than spend more time on what was, in any case, a second go round, I decided there was only one thing to do.

Sometimes it’s just best to move on and get on with your life.

I have learnt some good things about binding and some bad things about slippy fabric so as long as I remember those things next time, which is not guaranteed I’m afraid, the process will not have been a complete waste of time.

I have also learnt that ‘pressing on regardless’ and ‘ignoring my better instincts’ are stupid things to do.  Lessons I’m sure I have encountered many times before but, again, sometimes I live and learn and sometimes I just live

Satin – especially the type that is cheap and creates electricity when you move – is now dead to me.

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Easter Weekend

We made a decent amount of money for the Twilight Retirement Home for old and disabled doggies on Saturday despite the weather being mostly against us.  Eight out of my ten tea towel into apron conversions sold so I was gratified I hadn’t wasted a whole afternoon last weekend cutting off corners and adding turquoise tapes.

Sunday and Monday yielded some sunshine and, so unused to such a phenomenon have I become, I burnt the backs of both hands whilst doing some open air crochet.

The butternut squash dog is looking promising so far…………

……..don’t you think?

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