Thursday, 28 April 2011

Easter trees, booties and bunting

Now a bit of advice to everyone... if you wake up after falling asleep on the sofa, then not realising it, do not stand on a dead leg... the torn ligaments that ensue are rather grim!  So all my plans for doing window boxes, hanging baskets and reclaiming the garden this week came to nought. And I am limping round like Long John Silver sans parrot, although my training as a first aider came to the fore... you should see my figure of eight bandaging... a joy to behold by any member of the St John's Ambulance Brigade!

Anyway I thought you might like my Easter tree, I have had a tree for nearly 20 years and like my Christmas tree I now have too many decs but still need to buy a couple of new ones every year.

I was able to use the down time to good effect on a couple of commissions for my friend Sally, her neighbours have had twin girls and she asked me to make matching pairs of booties for the newly arrived babies and here they are:

And here they are ready to be delivered!

Sally also asked me to make some bunting for her Royal Wedding barbie... we found some super stylised Union Jack fabric which works really well and the bunting in ready to be hung out for tea tomorrow... although bunting wars have broken out in our street, with my next door neighbours making a great response to  to the new people at the bottom of the street.

Finally I really chuffed to tell you that we will have my very first guest blogger in a couple of days, well actually  on Monday  - A Playful Day - she does amazing podcasts and I met her through the Ravelry   

So go and take a look at her blog and remember to come back and read on Monday 2 May 2011

Friday, 22 April 2011

Felting for the fearful...

Last night I went back for a second felting session and I thought you might like to see a little of the work we did and how we did it.  And as I have managed to sprain my ankle this weekend which has curtailed my mobility and crafting, I am also putting my flower up as my Handmade Monday entry... with grateful thanks to Wendy who does this every week... what a star!  Do go and take a look at the various makes that these clever crafters have completed over the last week.

We were all indulging in wet felting and started by choosing what we would like to make in our two hour session, a felted flower or scarf moving on to using more complex techniques with a resist which holds the two sides of your felting apart if you were making a bag or an all in one flower.  We then chose from the luscious colours of the merino tops... these are what you would use if you were going to spin your own wool.  I defy you not to find a shade you like!

Felting is a process of layering and matting the fibres to hold together using teased fibres, hot water and soap.  You can see in the pic below, various shade of merino together with some silk threads to give softness and contrast.

And if you have the imagination you can even add in beads (!) light fabrics - the sparkles are on a net fabric which has been trimmed to make the centre of a flower.  As long as you overlap the "foreign" objects to catch them, they will stay in place.

Bet you are all wondering what the bubble wrap is for... well you use that to agitate the fibres.    You place the fibres on the wrap as you lay them out and then thoroughly wet all the fibres with a warm water and soap solution and place another layer on top, then more soap and water and start what I can best describe a deep tissue massage to mat the fibres together.

Next stage is wringing out the soap solution and rolling up to shrink with a bamboo mat... messy but your hands will never be cleaner!  Then off to rinse with hot water to remove all of the soap solution.

Here is Jeanette Trim (in the centre) showing a couple of classmates how to style a finished flower... check out the flower on her scarf.

And here are a couple of the flowers which my colleagues created.

I made something a little different, a flower with a resist (an solid pattern piece around which the felting is done) and when the felting process is completed you cut it out to reveal the swirling pattern inside.

And for a first go, I am pretty chuffed... especially with the stamens and the way that the stem looks as though it belongs to the flower.

So there you go, my FO Friday make for Ravelry - let me know what you think?

Sunday, 17 April 2011

On a warm and sunny weekend I have...

finished off the giveway bunting for Nancy... what do you think, two of the fabrics have fishes, whilst the other has stylised wave.  Nancy wanted something bright and cheerful for her senior's centre... hope that I have fulfilled the brief.  I will be at the PO first thing on the morning to send it through to her.

I also hit Belle Fabrics (or as I will aways know it , Richardson's) where I topped up my fat quarter stash.  they had smuggled in some lovely new summer fabrics together with the most fantastic Australian inspired patterns.  Simply gorgeous!  Rather embarrassing as I had to go back three times... the second time to pick up some fabric for Deborah's bunting that she wants to use for the the Royal wedding and which should tide her over to the Diamond jubilee!    And then I realised that I need some double sided fusible interfacing for some applique I have planned.

  Now, I am off to finish sorting out the lining for my Can Can bag which I am slip stitching in.

And all of this is just done in time for Wendy's Handmade Monday - I am constantly amazed by the ability of my fellow bloggers and the fabulous quality of their work.  I also tried my hand at  Kanzashi flowers, which Lisa posted up as a tutorial on her Dreamstar Diary

PS the bad news is that I also went to the Hand Weavers Gallery in Finsbury Park after my felting course... have you any idea what it feels like to stick your hands into a bag of Merino Tops - it is sublime!  I have a further course on Thursday and will combine the two courses and report back at the end of the week.  Jeanette Trim, I am holding you responsible for my new obsession.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Almost FO Friday

On Ravelry, FO Friday means Finished Off Friday but in my day job it is the last day in the office for many of my colleagues, as Teachers TV is closing down so the title has a slightly different meaning.  As some of you may remember, we are all being made redundant at the end of the month which means my colleagues will no longer have to put up with me diving into my bag to bring out my latest make that I have completed over the weekend intersperced with forcing them to eat my sausage rolls... so for the very last time for them here are a couple of items which will be properly finished on Monday.

This is my own creation - a bag crocheted in Rico CanCan yarn for which I will be writing the pattern and lining the bag itself this weekend.

And last night I went to a great new class on felting... of which I will write more over the weekend, but I did come away with some new skills, I can now make felt flowers and look out for the felt ball bracelet and necklace I have in the pipeline.  The class which was an intro to felting was so good, I am returning next week.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The Giveaway winner is...

Using a tried and tested scientific method, I asked Jason our Frontend Developer to pull a name from the hat and he pulled out from my list of followers -  Senior Crafts, aka Nancy and Sugarbeans on the UK Crafts Forum, when I accosted him in our work kitchen earlier this morning.

Nancy does a lot of crafting with Senior Citizens and has a splendid blog of her own Craft and Activities 4 the Elderly - do take a look.

Nancy, I will be in touch to sort out what sort of bunting you would like and will pop a picture of the finished item up here.

Congratulations and thanks to you all for taking part!

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Bunting for beginners

OK team, the sun has been shining this weekend and we only have a couple of weeks before Easter, so now is the time to get into your fabric stash and make some bunting.  If you don't have a stash, I am now going to lead you astray, go to your local fabric shop and ask to look at their fat quarters.  For those of you who have not come across this quilting term before a FQ is a piece of fabric 18 x 22 inches, cost is usually from £2.50 upwards.

And for the third week in a row, I am thrilled to be taking part in Wendy's Handmade Monday - do go and have a look at what the other people from UK Forum are up to... there are some awesome crafters out there.  Go on, take a look (but after you have read the tutorial :) )
What you need:
  • Cutting mat and rotary cutters or a pair of dressmaking shears
  • 3 fat quarters, sewing cotton
  • 4 metres of bias binding, tape or ribbon (this may vary depending on how big a gap you leave between your flags)
  • Iron and ironing board
  • A chopstick!

1. Fold each of the FQs in half so that the fabric is 9" x 22", cut the fabric along the fold line.
2. Using the diagram cut out five pennants from each piece of fabric.  Save the scraps, as we are going to be making an applique cushion in a couple of weeks time.
3. Place the triangle template on the fabric.
4. Lift the pattern piece away from your ruler, cut the piece with your rotary cutter.  You will notice that the top of the triangle on my flags is blunt... that is because you do not sew right to the tip and this means I can squeeze a little more fabric into my flag.
5. Decide which order you want your bunting to follow.
6. Placing right sides together, stitch together the sides using a 1/2 inch seam allowance but leave the bottom open.
7. When you have completed all the triangles, trim the excess fabric away and turn the triangle inside out. 

8. Use the end of the chopstick to ensure that you get a nice pointy end to your pennant.
9. You will see a small excess triangle has appeared on both sides at the bottom, cut it off.  Now press each of the triangles.
10. Fold your tape in half and pin the triangles to the tape - spacing is down to you, some people like to place the pennants side by side but I like to space them out so that there is the space of a triangle between each pennant. 
11. I usually leave about a foot on each end of the bunting so that I am able to tie it round bed posts, trees etc.
12. Sew down your tape - you don't have to use just running stitch you can have a bit of fun and use contrasting colour and use one of the fancy embroidery stitches on your machine that you have not found a use for yet.
13. Remember you can vary the size of your bunting, I like to use smaller bunting in nurseries and bedrooms, and larger flags outdoors.  

You might want to applique letters onto the bunting - I normally google for a good alphabet font to use but Skip to my Lou has a great alphabet to get you started -  Alphabet font

So there you have it, your bunting.  Get it out there for Easter and the Royal Wedding.

As an added incentive and as I am almost up to 2,000 page views, when I hit this figure I am going to pull a name of one of my followers out of a hat and make that person 10’ of bunting. They will get to choose colour, fabric pattern etc and whether it is for internal or external use. And I promise to try to get it to you in time for the royal wedding.
Good luck everyone!

PS - Would you find it helpful if I said how long the various project take?

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Cathedral Windows And Secret Garden Tutorial

Get your thimbles out team, we are going to do some rather pretty handsewing to make Cathedral Windows and a Secret Garden needlework case.  This is going to be a great deal of fun and your constant companion will be your iron... now if you are old like me you will remember the days when you took a travelling iron with you when you went on hols and if you have one of these, now is the time you finally get to use it, after all these years.

Firstly, I thought you would like to see what you could be making which is a full sized quilt.

But we are going to make just two blocks to make our needle case.

You will need: 
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Mat, cutting ruler and rotary cutter
  • Main fabric and contrast
  • A small piece of felt
  • Needle and thread
  • Tape Measure or ruler
Right then we are ready to start - now these are the important bits - you must be as precise as possible with your cutting out and folding - always put the guard on your rotary cutter and finally, measure twice and cut once.
1. Cut two 7 inch squares of your main fabric.
2. With the right side of your fabric facing down, fold 
over 1/4" of fabric all the way round and press it flat.

3. Fold the fabric in half lengthwise and press, now do 
the same widthwise, where these lines bisect is your 
centre point.

4. Fold each corner into the centre - we are now 
moving into origami territory.

5. Press the fabric flat, make sure each new corner 
is a sharp point.

6. Fold the new corner points into the middle.

7. Press all the corners into the middle.

8. Catch the opposing corner points with a 
slip stitch, do not got through to the layers 
beneath, just the points.

9. Your square should now look like this.  Now 
repeat the process for your second square.

10. Join together your two squares using a 
mattress stitch which will give you an invisible 

Knot your thread securely, then bring the thread 
to the right side of your fabric, placing the knot 
on the wrong side, nestled into the fold. Bring 
the thread across the opening and go down 
through the fold. Come up through the fold 
approximately 1/4 inch from the entry point and 
cross the opening. Keep your stitches rather 
loose and open until you finish sewing, then pull taut.

11. If you look at the pic above, you will see that 
the seam is invisible when you pull the thread taut.

12. Cut two contrasting squares, which fit within 
your two squares, these will form your secret 
garden.  Slip these squares under the joined 
triangles... now you know why I told you not to 
stitch all the way through.

13. Now cut a piece of fabric which fits the 
diamond shape between the two joined squares, 
this will become your Cathedral windows.

14. Roll the edges of the square over your cut out 
diamond and slip stitch the rolled edges, at each 
corner, catch the two sides together with a little 
bar stitch.

15. This is your classic cathedral window.  
Now repeat the rolling and slip stitch around 
each of the folded triangles, this will expose your 
other contrasting fabric which forms the petals 
for your secret garden flowers.

16. You now have your cathedral window and 
secret garden blocks.  In order to make it a little 
more interesting, I have added buttons... am 
thinking about adding loop to close the needle 

17.  Now cut out a felt oblong to fit inside the 
needle case, I have used pinking shears to make 
it look more attractive.  Top stitch the felt in 
place with a running stitch being careful not to 
penetrate to the right side.

18. Your case is now ready for the needles.

17. And there you have it... you can now 
do two sorts of hand quilted blocks.

I also have a method for doing this by machine... would anyone like to see it?