Posts Tagged never say never

Getting Cross With Cross Stitch

My ‘real life’ sewing friend and I are always searching for new projects to do on our (pre-lockdown) regular Wednesday afternoon three hour sessions which are interrupted only by two tea breaks and a cake.

Anyway, undeterred by previous rubbish patterns in magazines, we were seduced by this little cartonnage house made with card and fabric and – shock, horror – cross stitch.

If you read my blog regularly you will know that cross stitch is one of my ‘never say never and I mean it’ things, like sea cruises and anchovies, but I thought, nothing ventured nothing gained and she can teach me.  Plus, how cute is that little house with roses round the door and windows.

I should have known better.

For starters, not only was it a French magazine but it was a French magazine translated from the Italian.

For followers, (is that even a phrase?) the pattern was absolutely terrible and the only way we managed to work it out was because we had both previously done quite a bit of cartonnage work.

There were no helpful pictures of the actual construction or the inside to help – only diagrams which didn’t make any sense and photographs of the finished piece.

To top it all, they had you glue each end of the apex of the roof onto the slender tops of the front and rear facade which we decided was ridiculous because if you had anything of any weight inside it would make carrying it around a bit risky in case of droppage followed by spillage and also, it’s quite deep so would be fiddly to reach for things at the bottom.

So, we decided to leave the roof unstuck and, if we’d made that decision earlier, might not have bothered with the handle.

All this faffing around took us several weekly sessions and many cups of tea and pieces of cake to come up with the house shaped box.

And then…….

Came the cross stitch.

I cannot lie.  I very rarely give up on something but, after two sessions of managing a couple of crosses – and even they were wrong – I threw my toys out of the pram, swore fluently in both French and English and refused to continue.  I said I would figure out a way of making those windows and that door out of something other than fiddly strands of thread that you have to separate into thinner fiddly strands and then watch it run out just as you are mid-way through a stitch.  A way where I wouldn’t have to use a magnifying glass to see where to place the stitch and then, when I actually managed to do one didn’t look like a cross anyway because it was so tiny or, more likely, because I’d done it wrong.  Something that wouldn’t send me home feeling I’d wasted a couple of hours and needing to take a painkiller for a headache.

I thought about little felt windows and doors.

Even though I had subjected her to a mini tantrum and ranted about how awful counted cross stitch is and why does anybody ever do it, my friend forgave me and, better still, when I went back the next week, she’d done it for me.

I’m a bit ashamed of myself but I think I did a good job on the yoyos.

At least I now know that counted cross stitch will stay on my ‘never say never and I mean it’ list for ever and ever.

Do you have a ‘never say never and I mean it’ list?

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Another Never Say Never Again Post

Regular readers will know that I like to say ‘never say never’ about certain things although one ‘never’ that won’t change is that I will never voluntarily go on a sea cruise.

Obviously crafts are a different matter because, having very briefly tried needle felting once, I’m pretty sure I wrote it off as something that didn’t appeal to me and said ‘never again’.  I do like some of the things you can create with it – particularly animal sculptures – but I was a bit ‘meh’ about the actual doing of it.

However, when my daughters were over here at Christmas, Mlle. Tialys the Younger said she wanted to try felting.  She had done some wet felting at a workshop so she’d bought a kit to make small cat figures which she brought over to France with her so we could do some together.  Having wet and soaped and wet and soaped some more, I’m going to stick my neck out and say I’m ‘never’ going down that damp and tedious road again – although I haven’t totally given up the idea of felting a bar of soap because – well, why wouldn’t you want a bar of felted soap?

So, I unearthed my very small supply of needle felting stuff I’d bought to try out that craft several years ago.

There was more roving (wool tops) than that in the bag but see below.

One thing that definitely does appeal about this craft is the relatively small amount of tools you need and the small amount of space to practice it.  I really don’t need any more bulky supplies around at the moment as I have enough fabric, yarn, sewing machines, etc. to sink a ship as it is.  Also, I think it could be fairly eco friendly as you can buy lovely British breed wool tops  and I even noticed one shop selling ‘vegetarian’ wool as it comes from a farm where the sheep are kept almost as pets and never, ever sold for meat.

I must admit to not being particularly enthused about the projects available in the book I had so I scoured the internet for beginner videos and more information.  I’ve ordered a kit from this U.K. shop which has lots of information and video tutorials on their blog.  I am hoping, when the kit arrives, and I have had a bit more practice, to make a little hare.

In the meantime the Younger and I decided to make something round with a couple of features just to get into the swing of things and I show you my first attempts in the sure and certain belief you will not be overly impressed.

This started as a chick but, you know, I only have limited wool colours (and eye supplies) at the moment.

At least this one is yellow.

After Mlle. T. the Younger returned to the U.K., I followed another video tutorial on YouTube for a mushroom.

Or is it a toadstool?

I played around with adding features like the spots on the cap and grass growing around the stalk so it was good practice.

I think I might be addicted and things can only improve although it might be some time before I’m being commissioned to replicate people’s dogs and cats in felt like this Japanese artist known as Wakuneko

I think I’ll aim for something a little more achievable for the moment.

Watch this space.

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Never Say Never (Again)

With apologies to James Bond for nicking the title of one of his films, regular readers will know there are certain things I have vowed never to do.  In the sewing arena this included never bothering to make a pair of jeans.  I don’t have any problems getting ready to wear jeans to fit me properly so I couldn’t see the point and, anyway, what a faff!

In the end though, I couldn’t resist the challenge – I wanted to prove to myself I could do it so I bought some grey marl denim and some ‘only just’ contrast thread – not brave enough yet to do so much very visible top stitching – bought Closet Case’s Ginger Jeans pattern, measured the pieces against an existing pair of jeans that fit me well and off I went.

Curved front pockets – no problem (I’ve even lined them in a blue ditsy Liberty fabric just for fun).

Fly front complete with bar tacks- a doddle.

Back pockets – just a question of where to put them to enhance my ‘only just there’ bum.  This isn’t ideal placing but I had started to realise by now that these jeans were never going to be worn and I just wanted to get them attached and move on to the next bit.

I thought I might as well carry on until the bitter end and call them a muslin/toile/practice run – anything other than a complete waste of time.

So, I added the waistband, complete with fancy facing, put on the belt loops and a proper jeans button.

et voila!

All in all I have convinced myself I’m perfectly capable of making a pair of jeans with all the necessary bells and whistles.

If only they fitted me.

Totally my fault – the ‘denim’ fabric I chose has got hardly any stretch in it at all.  So, even though, when I hold them up to my favourite pair of shop bought jeans, they are exactly the same size, the lack of stretch means I can hardly bend my knees…..

….and sitting down for any length of time, if I could even manage it, might crush my internal organs.

I realised about mid-way, they were going to be too tight but it was good practice.  So, if you’re about to make jeans – they’re really not too difficult but just make sure you have the right fabric and practice your top stitching.

I think I’ll give them another go once I’ve got over the trauma and, when I do, I will be extremely picky about the denim I use.  Apparently, too much stretch is not good either so it’s a bit tricky and I’d suggest finding somebody who has made a successful pair (i.e. not me) and copy their choice of denim if possible.  If you’re in the U.S., this will not be a problem at all – in rural France it’s more difficult.

Just to be a bit more upbeat, the top I’m wearing with them is another Sewaholic Renfrew top – is there anybody out there who hasn’t got this pattern and swears by it?  I made this one using the cotton jersey I bought which had ‘Kid’s Collection’ or something similar printed down the selvedge.  Ask me if I care.

So that’s the jeans off my ‘never say never’ sewing list.

Next up is the coat.

My sewing friend Sandra and I are making this together (the unbelted version)  – or rather, we’re making one each but at the same time.  The cutting out of the interfacing was the worst bit so far.  I have a feeling those welt pockets are going to be nightmarish too and that is the point I’ve reached as of yesterday when we had our weekly sewing session.  Yes ‘weekly’ – and we spend the first hour yakking – so it might be some time before the finished article emerges.

So, that’s two sewing ‘never say nevers’ ticked off but, even though I did give in and buy a sparkly top over the festive season, I am still adamant that I am never, ever going on a sea cruise .

Have you ever said ‘never, ever’ to something – either in crafting or life in general – and then changed your mind?

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