sewing

1 Year On

It occurred to me on the way home last night that I have now been writing this blog for a year. Just when I had begun to feel like there was nothing motivating me to keep it going, this handy landmark reared its head and made me feel all acheivey. A whole year of blogging! Naturally my perspective on things has changed throughout, the business side of things taking somewhat of a backseat in the last few months and my main focus being on making pounds go in the bank in slightly more conventional ways. But this has really taken the pressure off my making and allowed me to relax and enjoy processes without fear of making everything I touch a finished, marketable product. On balance, I still have so much to learn (and fortunately, a fair bit of life to do that in). At present I am seeing the value in taking things slowly and trying to enjoy this small enterprise I have created, rather than turning it into a chore which has to be completed. There are goals, but the journey toward them is just as important.

My focus has moved from fabrics and embroidery to crochet of late, which I find a more portable craft which fits in so much more easily with my lifestyle and aspirations as a maker. But nothing is wasted and I value all of the skills and techniques I have acquired through projects this year. There is still a nice little stash of fat quarters, batting and threads waiting to be explored and the prospect still fills me with joy.

Thinking about the coming year, I’d really like to use this blog to write on subjects not exclusively craft based. I’d love to expand into writing on fiction, mental health, skin care, museums… and many, many more. So, as always, I’d be delighted to hear any feedback on any of these experiments as and when they arise. There will always be craft projects strewn into the mix!

New year always fills me with visions of being super organised, getting out 10 notebooks and making charts of how I shall organise the crap out of everything. Probably not the most realistic approach, but I’m still optimistic that some of it will stick throughout the year. It would be great to plan content in advance and try to stick to an achievable schedule. Wish me luck…

Most importantly, a huge thank you to everyone who has read, commented and followed in the last year. I love being part of a blogging, crafting community and it really does inspire me and spur me on to greater achievements. Here’s to another interesting, creative, collaborative year!

Mean Gene Oakerlund, embroidered portrait

Mean Gene Oakerlund, embroidered portrait

DSC_0057

Lady Rainicorn hand embroidery

buttons on log

Hand embroidered buttons

A trio of friendly pin cushions

A trio of friendly pin cushions

Last Import - 02

View master reel case

black/brown/red colour way complete

Foundation pieced cosmetics bag

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Amigurumi Mayhem!

It seems like I have been starting all of the projects and finishing none this week. Not strictly true, as I have done my tax return, ordered reduced lipstick (yesterday was national lipstick day – who knew?), signed up for an embroidery class and organised a trip to an exciting museum (post on that to follow, I hope).

But there are still the little corpses of my unfinished amigurumi figures lying about everywhere, along with the patchwork project that is still pinned to my ironing board. So this is a post to renew my resolve, and that of anyone else out there who needs a kick in the seat to FINISH STUFF OFF.

This is always the hardest part of a project for me, as it’s the point at which all the issues I hadn’t quite thought through arise. Which mouth to use? What’s the most professional finish for this awkward corner? Why didn’t I measure this binding properly? You know…the usual.

But it’s all trial and error, the more you work through this kind of thing, the better you get at planning a project from beginning to end, dealing with fiddly problems as they come up. No experience is wasted, all of it will be of some use in the future.

With that in mind, I steel myself for the big push – I will finish these items!

Are there any projects you are trying desperately to finish off?   

First Commission and a Happy Birthday!

I have been sitting on this for a while as I wasn’t allowed to ruin the surprise, but it should be ok to spill the beans now. Phew! It was a difficult silence to maintain, let me tell you…

So, Carlisle people and all round good eggs Jack and Sarah have always been very supportive of my makering, so when Jack contacted me to make him something for Sarah’s birthday I was all for it. We seem to have lots in common in terms of culture and humour, so the design ideas he gave me really appealed.

Every year, Jack makes Sarah a ViewMaster reel with pictures of them doing good stuff and generally being awesome (so sweet!). He wanted me to make some cases which reflected the events while looking similar to the original ViewMaster paper sleeves. After a bit of internet research, I discovered a page containing a few different sleeve designs

After drafting some sketches and making sure they were along the right lines, I was ready to sew. I used a combination of machine and hand stitching to create the little View Master Logos. Each one is around 9cm square, so some of the the stitches were pretty fiddly!  As a finishing touch, I embroidered self cover buttons showing details of the reel contents.

 This was such a fun project to do. I love making things for people I know, it gives me a really good opportunity to focus on that person. So thanks to Jack for the commission and a huge (now belated) happy birthday to Sarah! 

View Master - red View Master - blue View Master - green

A Generous Gift

Last week I was lucky enough to be given a parcel of sewing stuff from my Aunt, who is a formidable seamstress and quilter. I thought I would share some pictures of the parcel I received, as it basically made my WEEK. 

Making an unboxing video did present itself as an idea, but as it transpires there were too many squeals of delight which may have alarmed some viewers. So, enjoy some lovely (quiet) pictures instead. There is so much useful stuff in here that I am already inwardly planning about half a dozen projects which can incorporate various bits.

All that remains to be said is a huge thank you to the sender – your generosity and wisdom are very much appreciated.

Sewing: bringing families together. 

A freezer bag full of embroidery cotton, silk fibres and yarn.

A freezer bag full of embroidery cotton, silk fibres and yarn.

Assortment of quilt patterns and sewing guides

Assortment of quilt patterns and sewing guides

Spotty and clowny (so cute)

Spotty and clowny (so cute)

Some Japanese inspired prints

Some Japanese inspired prints

Bundle of striped and floral fabric

Bundle of striped and floral fabric

Pink and blue strips

Pink and blue strips

Tiny Moda squares! (Have already bought another of these)

Tiny Moda squares! (Have already bought another of these)

lilac, white, floral fabrics

lilac, white, floral fabrics

a handful of quilt blocks and cut strips from beautiful batik fabrics

a handful of quilt blocks and cut strips from beautiful batik fabrics

neutral, earthy shades (earmarked for a quilt project)

neutral, earthy shades (earmarked for a quilt project)

Quilt pattern

Quilt pattern

Loads of dress patterns! That could be a hint to practice...

Loads of dress patterns! That could be a hint to practice…

Purple, lilac and pewter silk pieces. Sumptuous

Purple, lilac and pewter silk pieces. Sumptuous

 

What Are you Making?

Now this is the question I am asked most frequently. I like answering it, but also feel quite self indulgent as I do tend to get carried away, going into details which most people really aren’t that bothered about. I just hope that my enthusiastic tone is enough to carry the listener through the tedium. In my more cynical moments, the answer to this question will be ‘a mess’, which on some level, is probably true.

But you, dearest readers, are my captive audience. So I can spill all the details and you can lap them all up (or just have a look at the pictures and move on with your life).

My big project lately has been producing a few cosmetics bags for a family member who wishes to give them as presents. I made one for my Mum last year as a Christmas gift and seemingly anyone who saw it and didn’t get one was a little bit miffed.

I had quite a lot of time on my hands when I made the first version of the bag. I’m afraid I had forgotten how long it all takes and just how many techniques are used in the construction of these things! But hopefully the recipient will be pleased. I was considering making more of these on spec to sell online, but I think they take too long and would consequently be too expensive.

I had a block design ready for these bags, and chose two different colour ways. I used foundation piecing for the outer ring, then hand appliquéd the central circle over the top, following that up with a machine zigzag to finish.

foundation pieced block, after quilting

foundation pieced block, after quilting

Following on from that I machine quilted the block – attempting to keep it as simple as possible in a futile attempt to save time. The joke is on me, as the quilting doesn’t take as long as the hand appliqué or the foundation piecing…

Next I made bias binding, applying that and the lining at the same time (I wanted the lining to conceal the quilting stitches on the inside). Turning the binding, fixing down and adding the zip was done by hand, often in front of Girls or even occasionally Celebrity Masterchef. This job did not help me kick the daytime TV – scourge of all known productivity.

second colour way with half finished binding

blue/teal/pink colour way with half finished binding

Phew! I’m on the home stretch now, I can’t wait to finish and getting these lovely little chaps sent off. What do you think? Does the end result justify the amount of work? I still don’t really know.

black/brown/red colour way complete

black/brown/red colour way complete

I’ll be updating you on some more of my current projects soon. The majority of them are through commissions from friends and family, for which I am eternally grateful. Thanks to readers, commissioners and commenters alike. You’ll be hearing from me before too long.