May 1, 2011

Wedding break

Wow!  That was a huge break from blogging – not the way to make a splash.  My wedding to Glenn was in November and there was a lot of planning and making to do.  I thought I would share some of the crafting from the day.  We decided to make all that we could for the day; this included invitations, flowers, place settings and the cakes.  This was to keep costs down but also so we could have everything just how we wanted.

I decided to make felt and button bouquets.  They are so individual and easy keep after the big day.  I made three bouquets, one for me and two smaller ones for the bridesmaids.  Originally, I was just going to make one bouquet for me.  A few weeks before the wedding I had a change of heart and thought “How can I not make my bridesmaids a bouquet??!!”  Cue lots of last-minute sewing and panicking.  If it wasn’t for a three-hour train ride to Newcastle for work, I’m not sure they would have been finished!

Three bridal bouquets

There are a lot of on-line resources which I used as inspiration for my bouquets, but I didn’t use a pattern or template.  I found a flower font on a free fonts website and printed my favourites in several sizes for flower templates.  I cut out the flowers in white felt and used a selection of stitches to decorate them.  The buttons were a selection of old and new.  There are a lot of companies who sell mixed bags of buttons on-line.  These are great for this type of project but the cost soon adds up!  For the assembly I used white florist’s wire and ribbon to wrap around the ends.

Glenn with the bridesmaids' bouquets

I was really pleased with the results and we got a lot of compliments – most of them from men!

I also made a ring cushion.  Our two-year old son was the ring-bearer so we needed to keep them secure.  This was a really simple cushion with a felt flower and satin ribbon attached.

Wedding ring cushion

Now the wedding is over, I can get on with some everyday makes!

August 5, 2010

Patchwork Pincushion

I love the fabrics at Gone to Earth and really enjoy reading Julia’s blog.  A few weeks ago she collated a lot of pin-cushion tutorials and designs. Check them out here.

I am quite guilty of getting lovely fabrics and not using them until I have found just the right project.  This is a one-way ticket to hoarding and I have only been sewing a year.  Imagine the stash two or three years down the line.  The eight patch pin-cushion is a cute way of using and displaying a lovely bit of fabric in a useful way.

The design wasn’t quite right for me so I gave my cushions a plain back and left out the ribbon embellishment.  The cushions were my first attempt at patchwork squares and the instructions were really easy to follow.  I am not sure I am ready for my first quilt, but I may be inspired to try a small bag soon.  I think they turned out rather well.

Patchwork Pincushion

I can now access my pins and see some pretty fabric.  What’s not to like?

I am also quite taken with these turtle cushions – but I am not sure I could stick pins into anything with eyes!

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August 4, 2010

Intro to my Yarden

So, it is high time I told you about my little garden and shared my efforts at growing vegetables and fruit.  I feel the Compost and Cake elements of this blog are being neglected.

Here is the garden. Yarden is probably more appropriate as it’s effectively two patios with some tubs on.

My yarden

This is pretty much it, we try to do the best we can in a small space. We have mostly planted in pots rather than in the ground so we can move things around and have the maximum amount of space for our son to play in.

This year I am trying to grow fruit and veg properly for the first time.  We have some tomatoes…

Sun Baby Tomatoes

Yellow Cherry Tomatoes - Sun Baby

We are trying two kinds of tomato.  This one is a yellow cherry tomato and we have already had some tomatoes.  It seems tolerant of cooler weather but I think it will need some sunshine soon.  I have had to stake it because it grew quite tall, but it is still compact enough for a tub.

The other tomato plant is a red small tomato but it is a bushy plant,I think it is called Tumbling Tom.  There are a lot of tomatoes on it, but they are not ripening because the leaves seem to protect their fruit too much.  I don’t think we will be trying this one again.  You can see my bumper crop below!  The Sun Babies are so delicious, I haven’t been able to wait until I’ve got a few before I eat them.

Tomato Crop

Tumbling Tom and Sun Babies

And some peppers… which I have discovered, are simply not for the English climate – at least not up North and not outside.  Mine grew to their maximum size (about 3 inches) a few weeks ago and I feel like they are just getting tougher as the weeks go by rather than larger and tastier.  I think I need to admit defeat and plant something else. Any suggestions for late planting would be gratefully received.

And have had two courgettes. I am most impressed by these.  They just grow so fast.  I think next year we will have a few of these plants.  They are most satisfying to pick.  I feel like I’ve got real green fingers.  We are hoping to have some strawberries but they don’t want to show their faces in this gloomy weather.

There’s just time to share the secret of a garden’s success – the best helper of them all.  I am not sure that the plants appreciate some of the rough treatment he doles out, and he keeps the worms on their toes, but he doesn’t half take it seriously!

Isaac the Destroyer

Isaac the Destroyer

July 26, 2010

Pass on the Knowledge

I had a lovely weekend at home with the family. We did a bit of shopping, a bit of cooking, lots of eating, too much playing and not enough sleep.

My friend came over for lunch on Sunday. Her mum has bought her a sewing machine and she has a mortal fear of getting it wrong.  I think sewing classes in school were a chore not a pleasure.  Memories of chopping fabric out of the jaws of the machine flooded back.  I said I’d teach her how to make something.  She said “don’t be silly” and “I can’t do that” but she didn’t protest for long.  I opened my secret stash drawer and she was sold.

Ten minutes later we were cutting out some fabric for a simple drawstring bag. Thirty minutes later and she had made it!  She was so pleased.  It’s hard to beat the feeling when you have made something you are really pleased with.  She is now talking cushions and bags…  I got a picture message a few hours later – she had made another one!  I am so proud!

Joint effort on the left, flying solo on the right!

Sewing is about being creative but it is so much about being methodical and having some confidence in yourself.  There’s hardly a project on which I haven’t used a seam ripper.  You also need to know when it’s never going to work and not beat yourself up about it.  But it makes the next successful project all the more rewarding.

My current projects on the go are a white version of my purple dress and some new baby sets.  I have a lot of friends in the family way.  Pictures to follow when they are finished.

July 14, 2010

Carrot Cake and Relaxation

I am struggling to stick to my brief this week.  I have not done much sewing over the last few days.  My son was two on Friday so there were many festivities over the weekend and not much creating.

I did do a lot of baking – but did not take any pictures!  I need to think BLOG now when I make things.  Instead of making a large cake, I like to make a few batches of different cakes so there is something for everyone.  This time I made lavender cupcakes, mini scones and brownies.  Triple yum.  But you’ll just have to imagine how delicious they were and I’ll show you them next time.

I also have neglected the compost theme of the blog.  We have had big storms here today (for England) so it’s not ideal for photo taking.  My tomatoes aren’t ripening and I’m glum.

So, to cheer myself up, here is a photo of the lovely slice of cake I had in Teacup, Manchester last week.  We had the week off so with the child in daycare we headed off some R&R for the day. Cake and tea followed by a delicious spa.  Heaven.

Mmmm Carrot Cake

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July 6, 2010

First Home-Sewn Dress

Hurrah!  I have made my first dress all by myself.

I got the inspiration for the pattern from a project on Burda Style.  Luckily, there is a great fabric shop in my town.  It has a wide range of fabric – although it doesn’t have the coolest prints, you can rummage for some good finds.  It also has patterns and had just the one I wanted.

Simplicity Pattern # 2591

The pattern is a tea dress which you can make with or without sleeves and with different neck variations.

I bought some white fabric with a small green and blue pattern when I bought the dress pattern.  I am quite cautious and I wanted to test out the pattern first.  I bought some cheap fabric from Petticoat Lane last year.  It was about £10 for 10 metres – ideal for testing out my skills and the pattern.  I originally bought it to line handbags but haven’t used it for anything yet.  The fabric is quite a striking ethnic print and was a really nice cotton to work with.

After cutting out, the sewing took about two afternoon sessions.  There was a tricky moment when joining the side panel with the front panel and then side pocket (what does pivot mean???!!!) but mostly it went quite smoothly and here is the finished result!

Happy with my new dress

I am really pleased with it.  It is quite flattering for my shape and is really cool for the summer.  I have added a belt as the pattern has come out on the generous side.  I was so pleased with it I even wore it to a wedding on Saturday.

Me and fella at wedding

I am going to try the white one over the next few days as I have a few days off work.  There’s no stopping me now!

June 30, 2010

I Heart Lavender Bags

Organic lavender at Phytobotanica

So I don’t really know how to get started with a new blog so I think the best thing is to just dive in!

For Fathers’ Day I took my men to a local organic lavender farm for lunch and cake.  The farm is a five minute drive and you would not think that such an amazing place could exist in my town.  It was like we were on holiday in Provence.

Lunch was nice and there was a great selection of cakes.  I had a lavender cake and the chaps had lemon meringue and an Eccles cake – very local.  From our farmhouse window we had views of the countryside and the chickens roaming outside.  One of the best things about the farm, is that the owners are happy for customers to explore.  We could wander around the lavender fields and camomile lawns.  Heavenly!

As well as the cafe, there is also a small plant shop, a spa and a great organic essential oils and toiletries shop.  I resisted the temptation to buy some of the dearer, but deliciously scented, products and bought some dried lavender.

Raw materials for the bags

I already had some fabric, ribbon and buttons.  I love navy and red together and a light cotton is great for this project.

I cut out the heart shapes, and sewed them right sides together leaving a 3 inch gap for turning.  Once turned the right way out, fill the bag with lavender.  I used about 20 grams.  Then close the opening by machining or slip stitch.  I chose to sew the ribbons on with buttons either side for a bit more detail.

And that’s it.  Hang them in your wardrobe for fresh clothes or by your bed to help you sleep.

The finished article