Archive for category Arts and Crafts

Scraphappy Rabbit Basket

I used to make little rabbit bento bags from a Japanese pattern which I made in linen and lined them with Liberty of London fabric.  I got the pattern from a Japanese book which was mad to work out and they were fiddly and expensive to make.  That post (and the one it links to)  however, are still probably the most commonly read ones I’ve ever written.

So, when my Wednesday sewing buddy, Sandra, showed me a much simpler one in one of her (French) magazines, we made it a project for our sewing sessions for two or three weeks – well, we chat for most of the time otherwise it would have probably only taken one session.

These are far less fiddly, larger and quicker to make all round.

They make good small project baskets.

I’m not sure they’re quite as cute though.

Even though they are much more practical.

I’m joining in Kate and Gun’s ScrapHappy day because, although they are fairly large scraps, the linen and lining are left over from other projects and not new.

(I mean the fabrics are fairly large scraps, not Kate and Gun 😉 )

Have a look at Kate’s post for a list of all the participants and, if you like making things from scraps (doesn’t have to be fabric) we’d love for you to join us.

 

 

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Hot Crochet

Hot yoga is a style of yoga performed in hot and humid conditions.  I prefer doing the cobra and down dog in an ambient temperature so I thought I’d indulge in a bit of Hot Crochet instead – I might patent the name ; ).

I did use my yoga mat to block a blanket though – does that count?

This is the second version I’ve made of Emma Varnam’s Little River Blanket which I originally made with a lovely collection of 10g balls of Scheepjes River and Stone Washed yarn, bought as a kit from Black Sheep Wools.

It was fast and enjoyable to make so when I saw these little packs of  8 x 10g cotton yarn for 1.75 euros each in our local discount store, I thought I’d make it again.  I had some Rowan cotton yarn in my stash which I’ve had for years so used that for the ‘every 5th row’ colour and the border.

Being 100% cotton it wasn’t too uncomfortable a Summer make and I laid out all the colours I sourced in order to make the same sort of graded effect achieved in the original.

If I’m honest, the feel and texture of the Scheepjes blanket is softer and more luxurious because it has some acrylic mixed in with the cotton but the cost of the 100% cotton blanket was significantly less so…….

Here they are both together – the original Scheepjes one on the right.  I think they are both rather nice.

When I read other people’s blogs and see something I like, I tend to go off on a tangent and get enthused about a project even when I’m already knee deep in others.  So, when I read Pauline’s (aka The Contented Crafter) about large crocheted mandalas as wall art, some white metal hoops were only a few clicks away.

We have a long, blank corridor and I thought a selection of 45cm and 35cm colourful mandalas would look good against the plain wall.

Before the ends were weaved in and a light steam press.

I used Lucy at Attic 24’s pattern called ‘Positivity Mandala’ but added a couple of extra rounds to get it up to the required size for the hoops I bought. (free Mandala pattern here

As you can imagine, I have lots of cotton yarn scraps left from the stripey blankets above – you might remember I recently asked for ideas about how to use them.  The mandalas provide an excellent way of using up those 10g balls of cotton – at least in the centres.  The rest of the yarn is from the range by Paintbox DK of which I have a vast quantity having bought a huge pack of the entire colour range some time ago when it was on sale at a bargain price.

The jury – aka Mr. Tialys – is still out on whether he wants these as wall art in the corridor and, anyway, I wouldn’t have used these colours for there but I did a practise run in the bedroom where the colours go very nicely and I’ve since hung it in the entrance to my workroom.

I’ll keep you posted if I’m allowed to make any more.

Remember my crochet dogs, taken from Kerry Lord’s book?

I can’t recall whether I showed you this little chap.  He’s supposed to be an English Bull Terrier which, if I were to ever actually go to a breeder and buy a dog (which I won’t) this would be the breed I would probably choose – that or a German Shepherd (although, sadly the latter are generally two a penny in the refuges).

I found the patch a little difficult and I’m not sure whether it’s possible to blend black and white a little more efficiently than I have but I think he’s cute anyway.

My sister has a West Highland Terrier called Harvey and this is my rendition which will be posted in the next few days as a gift for her birthday.

I had never done loop stitch before so the head has been waiting to be finished until I had time to sit, hook in hand, in front of a YouTube tutorial.  I was worried I might not have made the loops long enough but she keeps him fairly well clipped anyway as she lives in Spain so I think it will be O.K.

Seems a shame to separate them really.

Right, now the yoga mat is freed up, I suppose I could do a few planks, shoulder stands and warrior poses.  On the other hand, it’s a bit too hot.

 

 

 

 

 

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Playing With Hedgehogs

Firstly, please accept my apologies if I haven’t commented on your blogs for the past week or so but we drove down into Spain/Catalonia for a break while my daughters house/dog/cat sat and, as one daughter doesn’t live here permanently, we’ve also been having some family time and I’ve been keeping off the screen and sewing machine as much as possible.  Mlle. Tialys the Elder is here for another week but I just dropped in quickly with an update on the F2F third block swap organised by Kate.

During the 2016/2017 swap, I discovered the pattern for Elizabeth Hartman’s Fancy Forest quilt and made a couple of blocks featuring her foxes and also two hedgehogs because they were easily made into the correct size for the finished blocks (12 inches) that this block swap calls for simply by adding a border.   It was interesting matching the colours they had chosen for their quilts to the pieces of hedgehog and each one is unique – I can guarantee you won’t see any of these in the wild.

So, in 2016, Susan over in Texas got this one –

and Claire in France got this one

I couldn’t resist revisiting this pattern for this year’s swap and – bearing in mind the participants who have already received one and the fact that not everybody might like a hedgehog in their quilt (although I can’t imagine why not 😉 ) – I made this blue and white one for Sue over in Washington as one of her three blocks for July.

I’d never made one for myself so, not to be left out, I made one in the neutral colour palette I’d selected as my colour choice this time round.

Plus, a paper pieced favourite of mine called ‘Banded Star’ – a pattern you can find free on Craftsy here.

With the receipt of these brilliantly executed (though not brilliantly photographed) blocks from Moira …….

and these lovelies from Nanette………

I now have all my blocks here and ready to be assembled into one big beautiful quilt or, quite possibly, two smaller fabulous throws.  I chose a neutral palette so that I could display them in the living areas of the house more easily so two smaller ones would make sense.

As usual, with sampler quilts, I will probably QAYG (quilt as you go) and might even have a go at hand quilting this time so you probably won’t see the finished article any time soon but it’s time I tried to improve my quilting skills and this will be an ideal project to do so.  Expect minimalism!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Scrappy July

Two more scrappy blocks to show you this month.

I’ve decided to make them – or at least nine of them – using scraps left over from making the F2F blocks so, each month I’ll make three 12 inch blocks for that month’s participant and, with the scraps, make a block for my eventual scrappy quilt.  That’s the plan anyway.

Confused? Join the club.

I was ‘Miss June’ and chose neutrals for my F2F colour palette so this is the scrappy block I made after making my own three blocks (well, I’m still part way through the third one but you get my drift).

Sue, from Washington, is ‘Miss July’ and her colour choices were different shades of blue with white.  Some of these scraps don’t appear in the blocks I made for her – the butterflies wouldn’t have been right for instance – but it’s predominantly blue and white so will serve as a reminder of the blocks I made for her.

I have loads of yarn scraps left over from my Little River Blanket  – remnants ranging from 3g to 5g – and I’m wondering what to make with those.  Anybody got any experience using up such things?  I’d be grateful for any ideas.  As I’m making another of these blankets, I’ll have another 48 so the possibilities are endless – aren’t they?

If you want to make use of your own scraps – can be anything, fabric, yarn, paper, whatever – just contact Kate or Gun who organise ScrapHappy Day on the 15th of every month and, if you have something, Kate will link to your blog, if not, nobody will mind.

Here’s a link to Kate’s post this month where you will see a link to the other participants.

 

 

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Summer Crochet

As a contrast to my last post which was all about neutrals, here’s one to make your eyes bleed.

Do you remember this box of 50 gorgeous little 10g balls of yarn – a mix of Scheepjes Stone Washed and River Washed in all the colours of the range?  They looked so pretty in their box that I wanted to hang it on the wall like a picture.

Still, I managed to get a grip, opened the box and, mixing the little 10g balls with three full sized ones in the colour Moonstone, made a cheerful little blanket designed by Emma Varnam.

The finished measurement is just 90 x 100 cm which is fine for a lap blanket, a baby blanket or something to throw artfully over the arm of a sofa or across the back of a chair.

Mine is a bit smaller as I missed out one of the widthwise repeats and, once I realised, couldn’t bear to undo what I’d already done for the sake of an extra few centimetres but, no matter, I like it muchly.

So much so, in fact, I’ve started another in some more mini 10g balls of yarn I have found locally.  The Scheepjes yarn is a cotton acrylic mix and is lovely and soft to the touch and a dream to work with.  The new stuff I’ve bought is all cotton and so doesn’t feel as soft.  The texture and drape is different and I made up my own mix of colours but, actually, it’s very light (so far) and therefore a comfortable project to work on in these hot evenings.  Also, the yarn was about a third of the price of the Scheepjes so I can put up with it being a little less pleasant to work with.  A quick pattern that can easily be done in front of your favourite Netflix binge.

I bought the original yarn and pattern as a kit from Black Sheep Wools in the U.K.

Then I must master Loop Stitch and complete the Westie dog I’m supposed to be making for my sister’s birthday in August.  I only need the stitch for the head piece – I’ve already got the body, legs and ears made so I should stop procrastinating and get on with it or her birthday will have been and gone.

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Yes, I finished this one but that’s an English Bull Terrier and she’s got a Westie so that’s no good.

I know some of you are still managing to brandish hook or needles in the Summer heat but have some of you put them away until it cools down a bit? I used to give up yarn related activity in the Summer but now I’ve discovered crochet I find it more doable than knitting in the hot weather.  Can you tell?

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More Calming Neutrals – Keeping It Real

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final blah

 

This was the draft for my next blog post.  I was looking at it and thought it would be fun to show you what passes for my thought process.  Lots of blah, blahs  is how my posts always start and, some might say, how they generally carry on.  So now you know.

I must just put in a bit of real blah though to say that all these gorgeous blocks – going towards my neutral palette F2F quilt – were received in the last few days from (in order of photos) Robin in Australia , Esther in the Netherlands and Kate, our esteemed leader, also in Australia.  Those last two were ‘spares’ sent by Esther and Kate in case I wasn’t happy with one of the other three they sent me.  As if! I don’t call them ‘spares’ I call them ‘bonuses’.

Normal blahing will be resumed as soon as possible.

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A Flounce of Frocks

I’m having a bit of a run on frocks at the moment – when that sun decides to come out and stay out for longer than two days, I’ll be ready.

If ‘flounce’ isn’t the collective noun for frocks it should be.

Anyway, the navy and white swallow dress I showed you that I made for Mlle. Tialys the Younger is languishing in her wardrobe and will presumably make an appearance when she is ready and not before.

I needed something to take to my sewing class the other day – I am an erstwhile visitor needing help with certain ‘tricksy’ bits in projects rather than the whole thing – so I picked up a dress I made about four years ago which looks at me reproachfully now and again whenever I inadvertently uncover it from wherever I happen to have stuffed it away last time I had a guilt trip about it.  If I remember correctly, I’d put the invisible zip in the back but the front of the dress wasn’t laying right against my shoulders, neck or chest, a common problem for me as I really should make a smaller size and do an FBA (full bust adjustment) instead of making the correct bust size and then having to alter everything else.  I thought it would be a case of the tutor pinning me in properly and then me re-inserting the zip which is plenty for a two hour session once I’ve had a chat and a nosey at what everyone else is doing.  Of course, being the perfectionist she is, it wasn’t that straightforward and I ended up hearing I needed to take out the sleeves and re-do one of the back princess seams before I could even think of putting the zip back in.

Anyway, back at home, I did all the alterations she suggested, put the zip in and it still gapes a bit at the neckline so I’ll have to take it back and do some more fiddling with it under expert supervision.  I don’t think I’ll ever actually wear it because the fabric isn’t great – it wouldn’t be something I’d use now – and to be honest, I’ve fiddled about with it so much I’m sick of the sight of it.

Here’s a quick look – the neckline doesn’t look too bad in this photo as I’m leaning against the table with my shoulders up and back but that’s not normal is it?

Here’s the line drawing of the pattern in case you thought I’d gone a bit weird with the neckline anyway.

 A friend of mine moved house recently and, as she was downsizing, asked me if I knew anybody who would want her mother’s 1950s Singer sewing machine in full working order.  Well, of course I did?

It arrived in its original carry case which, together with the machine, weighs so much I don’t think I’ll be walking around with it any time soon.

I haven’t used her yet but she will be pressed into service when I do the top stitching on the jeans I’m making.

The same friend also gave me some fabric which included a 3m length of this lovely Dutch African Wax fabric.  I have fancied some of this type of fabric before but it’s often too bright for me or the pattern is too large so this was perfect.

It has enough structure to make a fitted dress and I had just the pattern ready to go –

Image result for easy vogue princess seam dressPerfect for me as you can choose between cup sizes which meant I wouldn’t have to do my own alterations – or not many.

I was worried about the pattern matching though as there are side seams, a back zip, princess seams and a pointy uppy waistline seam so it was an ideal candidate for taking to the sewing teacher.

In the event, she suggested cutting the front bodice on the fold which did away with the problem there and then and we matched the back bodice almost perfectly.

It then became apparent that, although there was 3m of fabric, it’s not very wide at 110cm and I couldn’t get the panels of the full skirt to fit on to the fabric I had available.  We made the panels a bit narrower which, to be honest, I didn’t mind as it is a very full skirt but exact pattern matching more or less went out of the window as I had to get those pieces on any way I could.  The folds in the skirt hide a multitude of sins so I don’t think it turned out too bad in the end.

This is the one of the very few dresses I’ve made where I’m happy to show the inside – so I’m going to.

I lined the bodice, though not the skirt as it is a fabric beast and I didn’t think it was necessary (aka I’m too lazy)

I hemmed it using bias binding to make it neater and give it a bit more weight.

The only alteration I made was to bring the back V up by 2cm so as to be certain not to have any bra strap on show

This might actually be the best dress I’ve ever made.

The sun even came out

Very difficult to avoid photo bombing by dogs at my house.

Despite the weather hotting up I am determined to finish a crochet blanket I started – it’s nearly finished so it’s long enough to cover my knees and overheat me even when I’m wearing shorts so I need to get on with it before Summer really sets in – as I hope it will.

Sneaky peek of the very beginning which I forgot to show you at the time

 

 

 

 

 

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A Neutral Notion

You may remember – if not, I’m about to remind you – that I’m taking part in Kate’s Foot Square Freestyle block swap again this year.

This was one of my photos for colour inspiration and I apologise right now for causing the other participants problems with what, I suppose, is a fairly difficult colour palette to reproduce.  I’ve even had trouble finding the right pinks myself so I sympathise.

My reasoning was that a neutral quilt would go with all different colour schemes and would fit in wherever I want to put it.  Also, I have a few quilts for beds which I try to rotate and, this time, thought I might make a couple of smaller ones, or throws, to drape across a sofa back in an arty farty fashion.

Anyway, I was the first out of the hat to receive blocks from the other participants this year and three have been quick off the mark – probably to get my weird colours out of the way – and have sent me the three blocks each that we commit to every month for this swap.

Firstly I received these lovelies from Sue in Washington

Then these three beauties from Kathy in South Dakota

Then, from a little nearer home, this gorgeous group from Claire who is also in France

I try not to be too overawed by the excellence of everyone else’s piecing – it only makes me try harder with mine when I know the standard is this high and, although nobody is going to be the Quilt Police (at least I hope not) I don’t want to disappoint.  Thank goodness it won’t be me that will be quilting their blocks – not my strong point!

I think they’ve all done a great job in interpreting my neutral vision and I’ve already started to think about the sort of thing I want to use for sashing and backing.  I’m wondering about a darkish grey marbled with pink – if I can find such a beast.

I’ve only made one block for myself so far – I thought I’d wait until I see what everybody else makes first so I can go with the predominant flow at the end.  I’ve been making Miss July’s blocks instead but I can’t show you those as it would spoil the surprise.

If anybody knows where I can get marbly grey and dirty pink fabric, please advise 🙂

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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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