Archive for category Arts and Crafts
One of my daughters has a blog which, unless you are an avid gamer, you won’t be subscribed to. I am a follower but only to show support as I don’t understand what she’s talking about half the time not having played computer games since they phased out Space Invaders. I am therefore not qualified to make comments on her post but usually press the ‘Like’ button as it amuses me to see my little house avatar in amongst the ‘cool’ ones of the gamers.
Anyway, when she first started the blog she had a cat’s face in a slice of avocado as her avatar – a bit like the ‘breaded cat’ phenomenon but with avocado. Understandably, she wasn’t really sold on it as it didn’t reflect her blog content (even though it does reflect her sense of humour!). By chance, she met a girl on a train and they got talking about gaming matters and the girl could also draw. So she asked her if she would draw a new avatar – it was a long train journey – and it has now been adopted for
‘The Dragon’s Tea Party’ blog.
Both my daughters are addicted to tea – I blame myself although it could be worse. They aren’t dragons though – just to be clear.
She has a new job to start in July which will involve a move from London to Dorset and her first ‘proper’ flat which she will share with her boyfriend who is also into gaming (luckily) and I anticipate there will be a lot of a particular nerdy/geeky sort of décor around the place
So, as a little housewarming gift, I dropped my feed dogs, attached the darning needle and came up with this.
I was going to attempt the freehand embroidering of the name of the blog too but I was so pleased with the dragon I didn’t want to push my luck in case it all went pear shaped. I’ve used more fabric that I usually do so it’s a bit more freehand machine appliqué than freehand machine embroidery but I wanted to get the green colour just right.
As I used scraps of fabric I’ll add this to Kate and Gun’s ScrapHappy day which you can read about and see links to the other participants here
I’m in the dressmaking doldrums at the moment despite having several patterns I want to make and the fabric to make them with. So, just to get my hand back in I thought I’d run up a quick dress on the overlocker for my daughter. I used New Look 6125 which is a very simple dress pattern but decided to make it in a stretch knit fabric.
The front was cut out on the fold and, because I didn’t need to put in a zip, I thought I’d do the same with the back but there seemed to be quite a bit of shaping on the back piece – for those people who have a bottom, presumably – which didn’t lend itself to being cut like that so I cut it in two pieces.
It’s not often a good idea when I decide to go maverick.
Looking quite good.
I did lower the neckline as the original seemed unflatteringly high to me. I probably could have left the darts out though.
Nice pattern matching at the sides
I know it will be fairly obvious to everybody else (at least those who have a modicum of knowledge about dressmaking) but how could that happen when I have the sides matching? Why do I still keep making rookie mistakes in my dressmaking endeavours? Perhaps I don’t take it seriously enough.
As for my daughter – I told her she’ll just have to walk backwards.
While my Mum was visiting I abandoned sewing and my workroom for the much more sociable and garden friendly crochet.
I was prepared. Having made a fairly simple blanket as a beginner project I thought I’d tackle something a little more complicated and was tempted by the Sunshine and Showers blanket by Janie Crow which is running as a CAL (crochet along) on her blog here.
You make two identical sections per month for twelve months and then join some sections together and you should end up with the above which looks hideously complicated to me. Look! there are flowers and little hearts and bobbles and things – but I’m hoping to learn as I go along. There are two versions – one in a merino mix yarn and the one I’m doing which is in Stylecraft Special DK which comes in some splendiferous colours. I decided to go with the same colours used in the CAL because there will be less room for confusion and I like them anyway.
I have completed one of the sections for the month of May – the wave pattern is intentional and not due to wine consumption –
Now I have to make a second, identical one and wait for June’s section to be released when, apparently, I will learn ‘puff’ stitches – I can hardly wait and, although I know that sounds sarcastic, there is a an element of truth in it. Simple pleasures……..
I had forgotten how much I hate doing long foundation chains 😦
A glutton for punishment, however, and wanting something easier to do in between waiting for the sections to be released, I bought the yarn to make Lucy at Attic 24’s Hydrangea Blanket for which the pattern is on her blog here
At first glance I wondered why these colours were anything to do with hydrangeas but Lucy explains that she watched how the blooms changed colour over time and has some great photos on her blog (one of which below) showing how right she is.
Wool Warehouse stocks the kits for Attic 24 patterns so I went ahead and sent for them here and began the repetitive, yet addictive, stitch which forms a really nice dense texture.
I like to look at the balls of yarn in their basket. Such a range of colours is hard to resist and, although I avoid 100% acrylic in knitting projects that I am going to wear, in my house a blanket needs to be put in a washing machine. Also, after struggling with a cotton yarn that splits as soon as you look at it in my fusion quilt (squares of fabric with a crochet border) this is an absolute pleasure to crochet with. I’m hooked! Sorry, not sorry.
This is where I am with it so far but progress might slow down a little now Mum has gone back to the U.K. and I am drawn back to the sewing room.
Just in case I wasn’t already knee deep in crochet, I made a hat. For an egg. Well, why wouldn’t you?
Actually, it’s not really for an egg, although it could be, it’s for a bottle. I can’t remember where I saw it mentioned first but Innocent Drinks are, once again, asking for little knitted (or crochet) hats to put on the top of their smoothie bottles in the supermarket and, for each hat-wearing bottle sold, they donate 25pence to Age UK. Since 2003 , 6 million hats have been knitted which has helped raise over £1.9m and increase awareness of the great work done by charities like Age UK.
On a selfish note, it helps me improve my crochet ‘in the round’.
You can read about it here if you fancy putting your needles (or hook) to good use – the deadline this year is 31st July.
The fabric haul from my Walthamstow Market visit has arrived with Mr. T. from the U.K. He has got a ‘pulled’ shoulder muscle from the weight. I blame it on the black flecked jersey on the bottom there which is heavy and there is 3m of it.
I’ve given him some Ibuprofen, treated the affected shoulder with a cursory massage and told him to buy a cabin bag with wheels.
Close ups and potential uses for the precious cargo to follow .
You may remember that I am making a wallhanging for behind the bed and am using a pattern from Kaffe Fassett’s book Passionate Patchwork which features hatboxes each in their own little cubby hole complete with ‘shelf lining’ and ‘wallpaper’.
I am making twelve 12.5 inch blocks for a 4 x 3 layout wallhanging and using Liberty of London tana lawn for the boxes and bands and scraps of what I hope are complimentary fabrics for the backgrounds.
Kate over at Tall Tales from Chiconia is making a full size quilt for herself from the same pattern and we pledged to make three a month. Kate has more to do than me (you can see her progress here) and these are (possibly) my final three.
This is probably my favourite one this month.
The ever popular Strawberry Thief design.
This gorgeous pink tangle of blooms was one of the fabrics I bought in a 50% off online sale that Liberty were having on their tana lawns – the band was from my box of Liberty scraps as all the bands have been.
Now I have all twelve or, as I hinted above, have I?
This is not necessarily the final layout and not a particularly sharp photo as I had all the blocks clinging to a flannel sheet hanging from some shelves and they kept falling off so I had to take it quickly but my dilemma is – do I keep the dark pink box with the strong gold/yellow background in this mix or not? I did wonder when I first made it. I really like it but I’m wondering if it’s too strongly coloured to blend properly with the others – although the purple one is strong too.
I am going to quilt them all separately using the quilt as you go method. The quilting will be simple as I can’t do complicated and then I’ll join them with sashing – another colour decision to make – and then tadaah! it will adorn our bedroom wall (if Mr. T. is in agreement – he’s always resisted ‘fabric art’ on the walls before 😉 )
So, do I ditch the one third from the left on the first row or do I keep it? What do you think?
With apologies to the Pet Shop Boys for sort of ripping off their lyrics for my title, I hope you’re all enjoying a lovely long Easter/Spring break and doing whatever it is you like to do at such times.
Last time we had a chat I asked you for help in deciding on a border for the Friendship Braids quilt and then mostly ignored what everybody said anyway. The Quilt Police will not be happy but I decided to dig out a vintage sheet I had actually bought a couple of years ago with the backing for this quilt in mind and use it for the border.
Tell me I was wrong.
I’m not normally a ‘green’ lover but I think it makes it look very fresh.
It is quite a low thread count I believe but, just to be sure, I washed it, made a sandwich with a square of quilting cotton, wadding and sheet and had a go on the machine. I didn’t have any problems with tension or thread knotting or snapping or anything and I certainly won’t be doing any quilting this close together so I’m going to go ahead and if I’m arrested and given a long sentence it will just give me the opportunity to sew mini hexies together, learn to love cross stitch, do a degree in psychology and concentrate on trying to make an orange jumpsuit work with my complexion – although that would only be if I got arrested by the United States Quilt Police which is a possibility as I think they are the most rigorous.
As I’m in confession mode, I must offer as evidence to be taken into consideration M’lud that, even worse than it being a sheet, there might be a touch of ‘poly’ in with the cotton as there’s a vague chemical smell when I iron it.
With this in mind, I decided not to go the whole hog and use it for the backing as well. As luck would have it, I had just dug a duvet cover out of the clean laundry basket that has been subjected to numerous treatments and washes in an attempt to remove some oil (I think it was some sort of body oil) that Mlle Tialys the elder had managed to spill on it some time ago. There was a patch of oil that refused to come out and, if anything, appeared to increase in oiliness as time went by. I cut out the patch, harvested the top Cath Kidston like floral fabric for future projects and pondered using the checkered side for the back as it is serendipitously the right colours and size. (Woohoo, I got to use ‘serendipitously’ – and again!)
I did make another sandwich, it worked fine, it is now cut to size for assembly so it’s too late to tell me if you don’t think it’s a good idea and, anyway, you know I don’t always listen don’t you. It is, at least, 100% cotton.
I rest my case.
I did have a vague idea about giving this to my Mum when I’d finished it but I think it might have too much green in it now for her liking. She has a thing about green and, as with most of her superstitions, has passed them on to me. Even though I don’t really count myself as a particularly superstitious person, I like to err on the side of caution. I don’t put new shoes on the kitchen table, I don’t bring lilacs into the house, I don’t tell Friday’s dreams on a Saturday in case they come true, and other such tosh. However, for years I believed the colour green to be unlucky until it turned out that her basis for believing that was that her own mother had once lost a purse while wearing a green coat. Sometimes I worry.
So she will be getting my first ever crocheted blanket instead which, as far as I know, has no bad luck associated with it and will go very nicely on her sofa and across her knees if she gets a bit chilly
Flushed with success after harvesting 450g of gorgeous tasting brown mushrooms from the pot on the right and watching the new babies grow (you can just see them if you squint) – I spotted a pot for white mushrooms (or champignons de Paris as they are called here) and thought I’d give them a go too. It’s quite amazing how much better they taste when plucked from their very own compost just before you cook them. I’m a convert and our earth floor wine cellar – which never gets used to store wine as we drink it too quickly – may well be put into use as a mushroom growing room in the near future.
I found this little stool in the junk shop last week and, as with much vintage French furniture, it was covered in a very dark brown thick varnish. Yuk. I forgot to take a ‘before’ photo but it was a flat, uninteresting, no grain showing, almost black, dark brown. Mr. T. had a go with the varnish remover and the sander and got it down to this.
I’m going to treat it with some woodworm killer – just in case – and, if all of the varnish has gone I want to use a white wax on it but, if not, I will probably use a chalk paint and then distress and wax it.
Off to baste a quilt before somebody stops me.
I did some food shopping today for the weekend – it’s only Thursday but Mr. T. arrives home tonight and I count Friday as the weekend – mainly so I can have a glass of wine (or two) but also because it feels like the weekend to me. Sometimes I come home with unusual things like this Romanesco – a cross between a cauliflower and broccoli which, so far, looks better than it tastes but I think that’s because I haven’t perfected my method of cooking it yet. I love all those little mini fir trees in fluorescent green although last time I cooked it in the oven and overdid it a little so the mini trees looked as if they had been in a mini forest fire.
Today I discovered this mushroom shaped pot of mushrooms, if you see what I mean. I couldn’t resist it because you are supposed to get three harvests out of this pot – obviously the first one is ready to pick.
But look at all these little baby ones ready to spring into life and become friends with eggs and bacon.
I try to have little adventures all the time, even when I’m doing the food shopping. Don’t judge me.
The postlady surprised me yesterday morning and not only because she arrived before 2 o’clock in the afternoon. She delivered a little package which had me racking my brains trying to think what I’d ordered from here in France – my online purchases are usually from further afield. Then I spotted the sender’s address and realised it was from Claire a fellow British expat. She is very generous with the results of her many talents and often sends little unbirthday gifts out to friends – both real and blogging – which is such a sweet thing to do. I might start to prefer ‘unbirthdays’ as you don’t have to get another year older when you have one. This lovely little needlecase features a little egg in the centre and I’m embarassed to say I don’t know exactly how she’s done it. It doesn’t look quite like cross stitch and it isn’t hardanger as I know you cut bits away with that – so I’m stumped. Pardon my ignorance but I don’t do all that fiddly stuff on tiny squared fabric – just admire those who do.
Inside, some stitch markers for both crochet and knitting and some pins – all in a lovely turquoise colour which goes beautifully with the crochet project bag I showed you last time.
A long time ago (Lordy, 2 years ago – I just checked), I started a quilt – you know the story – and now I’ve brought it back out into the light of day to finish it. I have my Mum’s birthday in mind but I’m not 100% sure it isn’t too bright for her tastes. I’ll finish it first and then make a decision about its eventual home. The design is called ‘Friendship Braid’ and is made using a jelly roll from a book about using jelly rolls called something I can’t bring to mind at the moment. The fabric I used was Gypsy Girl by Moda.
I have two questions for both quilters and non- quilters who wish to venture an opinion.
I need a six inch border around the outside. I can’t use plain white (as they have in the book) because my quilting wouldn’t stand up to the scrutiny. I need something with at least some sort of design on it. There is a white fabric in the braids with tiny green spots – do you think something like that would work? What I decide on will depend on the answer to my second question.
Obviously I can’t ‘quilt as you go’ with this one – not at this stage anyway – what sort of simple (very simple!) machine quilting design would work do you think?
How do you feel about sending quilts out to be professionally quilted? I’m pretty sure I’ve asked this question before but it’s one that vexes me. I know it’s fairly common in the States to do so but I have recently seen a company in the U.K. who does it for quite a reasonable price and I’m interested to see how it would turn out. I am the first to admit that I’m a piecer not a quilter but is it cheating? (O.K., that might be three questions) I would have it back afterward to put the binding on so I would feel as if I’d done the ‘finishing touch’ but I can’t quite decide what to do. If I did something like vertical lines it would be fairly easy – apart from wrestling my smallish sewing machine into submission – but would that look O.K. Help!
It’s the end of March already so it’s time to show and tell the three hatbox blocks I’ve finished in time for this month as pledged to Kate over at Tall Tales from Chiconia. Kate is making a full size quilt from her blocks so needs to make gazillions plus she has been battling Hurricane Debbie for the last couple of days over in Australia and has had other things on her mind so if she hasn’t made her three this time I won’t be casting aspersions – even though we did have a bit of snow here the other day accompanied by thunder and lightening which, to be fair, only rendered me slightly perplexed rather than full on terrified.
Here’s a bit of Chinoiserie for you as a change from florals. As you might remember, I’m using Liberty of London tana lawn for all the hatboxes and scraps of other fabric for the backgrounds. I bought this when Liberty had a 50% off sale recently – I did give you all a heads up at the time and apparently cost some of you money.
The book that this quilt pattern comes from – Passionate Patchwork by Kaffe Fassett – has been on my bookshelf for ages and seems to be quite hard to get hold of now (at a reasonable price) . I had always fancied making this but was newly inspired when Kate started hers.
Some very art nouveau style flowers here – would they be fritillaria or some sort of poppy do you think? – or do you know?
These are definitely poppies – even I know that – and this one might be my favourite this month, although I do like the Chinoiserie one at the top just because there be dragons.
Unlike Kate, I’m only making a wallhanging 4 blocks across x 3 blocks high so I only need 12. I’ve already made 9 but I’m not sure about one of them so there may be 4 still to go.
Then I’ll have to think about how I’m going to quilt them – I’m not convinced about the suggestion in the book. I’m going to do each block separately using the quilt as you go method. If you quilt, how would you tackle it – something simple perhaps or something more squiggly?
It’s not the Fetes de Mères (Mothers’ Day) in France until the end of May but as my Mum is English and in England, today is Mothers’ Day as far as I’m concerned. Also, since Mlle. Tialys the elder lives back in the U.K. now, I only stand a chance of being remembered on Mothers’ Day if we stick to the U.K. one because she will see all the palaver surrounding it beforehand and remind her sister who is still in France and would otherwise be blissfully unaware of it.
Who better than your mother to practice on when indulging your new sewing passion?
Unfortunately, even though my crochet hook has been a blur, I didn’t manage to finish the blanket I was hoping to give her for Mothers’ Day but, being my Mum, I’m sure she’ll forgive me.
Remember the Stitching Santa organised by Sewchet I participated in last Christmas? When I received my goodies from Pippa at Beads and Barnacles she included this turquoise drawstring pouch. I was thinking I could use it to keep my current small crochet project in and saw another opportunity to practice the freehand machine embroidery I’ve become keen on.
Just the right size for keeping my Fusion quilt squares in which, as you can see, is progressing slowly but surely, one square at a time.
The yellow thread started out as a representation of a slip knot. It went a bit awry but you get my drift.
It can hang on my pinboard which I am very happy with as a way of keeping my tools and other bits off the surfaces but within easy reach. I have two of these side by side and painted them duck egg blue to go with the woodwork on the top floor of my house which is where my sewing room is.
I bought my own Mothers’ Day gift – just in case my girls didn’t remember – this cool ‘maker’ pin from Jodie at RicRac. I thought it would be just the thing to wear when I’m selling my wares at the fund raising craft fairs I sometimes do and, in fact, will be doing one next Saturday. (It wasn’t really a Mothers’ Day gift to myself – just an everyday indulgence – but it was an excuse to show it to you)
A craft fair next Saturday? Sounds like another opportunity for some freehand machine embroidery I hear you say – and, of course, being a fund raiser for a retirement home for unwanted old and disabled dogs, it had to have some sort of pooch on it.
Much as I love the effect of the stitches against linen, this was a complete pain to thread the flex frame through at the top due to the linen itself being thick, plus a layer of fusible fleece and a cotton lining. So this will be unique in the true sense of the word and not in the sense of ‘rare’ or ‘unusual’ which seems to be in common usage these days because I really am only making one of them. I am going to rope in Mr. T and see if we can work out a way to make the channel at the top somehow separate from the body so I don’t have to go through all the thicknesses. I’ve seen one done like this but the channel was not the full width of the case, and I prefer it if it is, so maybe I could adapt that.
Meanwhile, so far today – it’s 09.20 – I took Mr. T. a cuppa in bed and said ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ in what I hope was a sarcastic manner, although I know I’m not his mother. There is no sign of a card anywhere nor email nor text from the U.K. nor from the room at the end of the corridor where Mlle. Tialys the Younger will doubtless remain entombed until around 1300h, which is her usual habit of a Sunday.
I’ll let you know if things change.
There was a lot of staggering and muttering ( and very possibly a lot of husband/father involvement) and these appeared. The morning staggering was even more pronounced than usual as we forgot to put the clocks forward last night so time was confused.
They looked better than this before I unwrapped them and then hastily wrapped them back up again for the photo so I could show daughter in the U.K. what she had instructed her dad to get me 😉
I must confess to a nostalgia for the early days when I got a cup of tea and croissant brought up to me in bed, a flower out of the garden on the tray and hand made cards with masterpieces such as this within.
Not the most flattering of images conjured up of me there but I’m guessing the rhyme was the important thing.
Last year I mentioned that Anne Lawson, a talented botanical artist, instigated a sketchbook which would start with her in Australia and make its way around the World to interested parties who signed up for the project and, at each stage of the journey, a new entry would be made. As everybody who signed up for it is a woman, it became known as ‘The Sisterhood of the Travelling Sketchbook’. I believe there have been others but this one – our one – began life in the Spring of 2016.
I cannot draw or paint to save my life, nor have I ever attempted to write poetry, but I knew that other media was acceptable so thought I’d join in for fun. Then I started dreading its arrival when I saw the standard of entries as they were added to the book then recorded online. The sketchbook finally arrived in France last week – people have been taking their time enjoying the book and considering what to contribute and, despite having considered other options, I decided to go with my first idea. I have taken photographs of most of the entries but didn’t take the book to pieces – too scared – so apologies to the sisterhood if I’ve cut a piece off or haven’t done their piece justice with my photography.
Click on the name beneath the images to go to the contributor’s website.
The sketchbook started and will end with Anne who set the bar high with her sketch of Kakadu Escarpment along with her garlic and lilies that adorn the front and back covers.
by Anne Lawson
Staying in Australia and up to Queensland to Kate who added this delightful paper pieced patchwork feather together with the lovely words beneath.
Staying in Queensland for a tasty, beautifully illustrated Ratatouille recipe from Sandra.
Moving back down to Victoria, Chas created this brilliant cycling trail map to show us some of the sights to be seen from a bicycle on the way to Melbourne’s National Gallery. This is a long, fold out map so I’ve just included a small detail.
The last stop for the sketchbook in Australia was with Sandi Worrall -Hart who wrote a beautiful poem called ‘ The Explorer’ which you can see included in the collage below cleverly compiled by Alys from all the entries so far in the book at the time it reached her in the United States.
From California to Mount Vernon where Sue added these gorgeous mixed media pieces using fabric, beads, thread and charms.
Over to Ushasree in Indianapolis for an eyecatching and colourful collage of small delights
Then a trip over to Europe and Greece with this take on the naming of Athens.
From Greece to Germany where Constanze produced this lovely textile piece which reflects the snowy landscape around her as she created her entry for the sketchbook.
The sketchbook should have stayed in Germany for another entry but, unfortunately, Annett is struggling with some health problems at the moment and didn’t feel able to contribute – we wish her well and hope she’ll be able to join in next time, should there be one!
So, to France and to me.
I’ve told you I can’t draw or paint. Kate, Sue and Constanze had already done perfectly lovely works in textiles and fabric so what to do? I thought about something knitted or even a bit of crochet but it would have to be something quite tiny and relevant. Back in 2016 I attended a workshop on freehand machine embroidery and my plan was to practice and practice and produce something lovely for when the sketchbook arrived at my door. Time passed – quickly as usual – and I didn’t get to practice as much as I would have liked but freehand embroidery is a forgiving craft and I hope I’ve produced something – though ‘naive’ (polite talk for ‘simple’) – that sort of enters into the spirit of the sketchbook, using thread instead of a pencil.
I know it looks like a kid’s drawing but that is sort of the style – honest! I like using natural linen for freehand embroidery as I think it sets off the fabrics and stitches really well but it frays like a bugger so I have deliberately frayed the edges and run a couple of rows of stay (I hope) stitching around the perimeter. If you’re wondering what the blue lines are they are my interpretation of the map of the World. It is very imprecise! Australia is disappearing up the skirt of the last sister, Europe is frillier than necessary and there appears to be a squished square country north of the barely recognisable British Isles but you get my drift. As I’m an English expat living in France I introduced a bit of entente cordiale by using French linen (the type they produce to make those classic linen t-towels) and the dresses are all in Liberty of London fabric. I didn’t want to make any political statement but, as it was a recent event and as I know one of the sisterhood went along with a pink plastic bag on her head, I’ve included a pink pussyhat wearer just to be topical.
As soon as I’ve worked out how to add this to the book – the linen is backed with calico and card so I’ll probably glue it in – it will be on its way to the United Kingdom for its last two entries, then back to Australia where we have hopes that it will be digitally scanned so we can all have a copy to keep.
I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at the Sketchbook as it stands so far in Tialys blog form .
A great project to be involved with 🙂