Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Victorian Apron Glamour!

Last week whilst catching up on some blog reading I came across this post from Elizabeth and quite literally swooned over her lovely apron and commented straight away to say "Yes!" I would love to be able to have an apron such as this for my very self. I felt so lucky the next day to get an email saying if I wanted, there would be one in the post for me straight away. Ooooh, I was beside myself waiting for Mr Postman to deliver my parcel. It finally arrived yesterday and it's sooooo pretty.

I managed to persuade Mr f&f to take some pictures of me today, and much like the original post, I couldn't resist going barefoot and checking out my garden. It's just something that happens when you don the apron! I think I might have to start wearing it randomly around the house as it makes me feel very girly, or should I say feminine?! Maybe it will encourage me to start doing a bit more housework?!

A sneaky peek of Liberty in the front pocket

If you would like your very own Victorian Apron then make sure you go and visist Mrs Thomasina Tittlemouse as she has been kind enough to put together a tutorial, and even if you don't fancy an apron then you should probably pop over anyway as it's a lovely read!

On another note, thank you so much for your lovely comments on my new bag - I thought you might like to see some more pictures of it?

I'm debating a tutorial, as I made quite a few changes to the original pattern, would you be interested?

I hope you're all enjoying the fabulous sunshine that we're having, 

S x

Today's sky ● true blue!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

A great weekend!

It's been a great weekend spent seeing lots of friends and fitting in little bits of crafting - a perfect 48hrs!

Saturday saw us meeting up with a few other families for a BBQ - scarily 5 families now means a total or 30+ people! I asked the host what I could bring along and suggested a couple of things......
A lemon sandwich cake and a teapot. And seriously, I did take the teapot, and it got used! Oh how things have changed in the 6years since having children!!!
It also gave me a chance to try out my new bag that I finished Saturday morning. Last weekend when I visited a fabric shop (ahem!) I managed to pick up the last 2 FQs of (what I thought was!) some beautiful fabric and decided to do some selfish sewing for me: I felt I deserved a new bag! I've made lots of bags, but none of them for me. The FQs were a very generous size - about 20" x 23" so I managed to make a generously sized sling bag from it. I'm so pleased with it! I looked up a few tutorials - and ended up mostly using this one - although I did add in a base with some gathering around the corners to add a bit more shape. It's very roomy - perfect for chucking everything in (although finding it is sometimes a different matter!)

Today saw me taking a day trip into London to catch up with my best friend. I love visiting the city, it doesn't happen very often now and I see a new beauty in the architecture each time I visit. There were lots of flags around for the Olympics - the first picture was taken just up from Covent Garden tube station. But I think my favourite was actually inside Covent Garden Market - there were so many flags, it looked stunning!

Crafting wise, I am slowly catching up on my sky blanket - nearly there now! - and I've also started a new project. I've been caught up with the patchwork craze that is going around blogland at the moment and following Flossie Teacakes excellent advice and some other tips I found myself cutting out lots of 1" hexagons out of freezer paper and throwing them in a travel kit for the train journey to/from London - I've managed to baste about seventeen hexagons so far using the Buttons & Blossoms charm pack that I got on holiday. I'm hoping it will allow me to fit in a little crafting amongst the  chaperoning/ mollifying/watching of the Littlies over the summer holidays and that it will eventually become a cushion!
I hope you've all had a lovely weekend enjoying the sun? I hope to be back very soon with some sewing and crochet news but with the three Littlies at home it could all be a bit frantic so please excuse me if it all goes a bit silent for a while!S xTodays sky ● blue - there were a few whispy clouds, but I'm sticking with blue!

Monday, 16 July 2012

This past week was mostly about...

...things I was going to do! I've planned to write at least two different posts and yet somehow life has conspired against me! So here we are in brief.....

...being struck by a chocolate craving and no inclination to leave the house. Instead being inspired to rummage around the cupboards to concuct a rocky-road cake, made with coco-pops because they were the only biscuity type things I had in the house!

...marvelling at the torrential rain we've been having (can you see how long the grass is?!)

...making some very special oven pads (from this tutorial) for a good friend who I met for dinner last week as something different to wine! My friend was diagnosed as being coeliac a few years back and frustrated by the lack of yummy tasting treats, breads and cereals has set up Perk!er to make gorgeous gluten free foods. I've been lucky enough to have been given lots of samples (for tasting purposes, you understand!) so I wanted to make something in return that had their brand colours and logo on.

The tutorial was easy enough to follow - if I did them again I would make them slightly bigger - but the binding is a lot trickier than it first seems. They came out quite well though and my friend was very pleased with them, which was the main thing!

...realising that I'm not as happy with my continental blouse as I thought (my fault for Just Doing It instead of making a muslin first) and deciding that the seam ripper needs to come out again so that I can take the sleeves in a bit and lower the bust dart slightly. Ah well, better to get it right and wear it than to have it languish in the cupboard. Hopefully the adjustments won't take long to make.

Finally, I'd also like to mention a blog friend who has just started Staystitching - a one stop shop for gorgeous dressmaking and quilting fabrics. I'm always inspired when people are frustrated enough about a lack of choice/spot an opportunity and Go For It, and Katy has got some lovely fabrics in stock. I'm trying to be very good at the moment and not add to my stash (at least for a few months!) but I'm not sure how long I'll be able to resist this......I mean, just one Fat Quarter wouldn't make that much difference. Would it?!

Hope you all had a top weekend,

S x

Todays sky ● grey and rainy. Meh!

Monday, 9 July 2012

This weekend was mostly about...

...setting up a stall at Little Girls summer fair on Friday

...making up lots of name necklaces for Little Girls birthday party bags - I had a bag of over 700 beads, and let me tell you, whatever letter I needed, I could never find it!!!

...catching up with my hooking and weaving in some ends (just 15 days behind now. Yay!) whilst watching the men's tennis final on Sunday
...revisiting my continental blouse - re-doing the side seams, adding on the sleeves and now just the sleeves and body to hem. I'm really excited with how it's coming along so far!!! Maybe a big reveal later this week?!

I hope you've all had a great weekend, 
S x

Today's sky ● overcast, although there was some blue sky earlier!

Thursday, 5 July 2012

June (not) in crochet

It's not been a great month in terms of either the weather or my crocheting of the skies each day, and I feel really bad about it. Time got away from me - there was a quilt to quilt, a holiday and a school fair on Friday that I'm busily trying to make things for - and now I'm somehow about 20 days behind. And have a shed load of ends to weave in. I'm not very happy with myself, but having said all that, once I get past Saturday I'm hoping for a good bit of hooky time on Sunday. I do really want to catch-up and I am missing my daily hooky fix.

It's been a mixed month sky wise - overall it's been quite gloomy but towards the end of most days - certainly in the last couple of weeks - the clouds have cleared and there have been some wonderful night-time skies.

Although it would be easy to moan about the weather instead I'm going to focus on the fact that we have had some amazing skies: the on and off showers have led to the most amazing billowy clouds with so many different shades of grey punctuated with snippets of blue. If I were an artist I'm sure that I would be compelled to paint continuously!

And who can forget my perfect moment on holiday?!

I'll hopefully be back with an up to date blanket soon, excitedly it will include me starting the second half (although I'm not quite so excited about the foundation chain!)

Hope you're all well,


Today's sky • blue with fluffy white clouds!!!

Monday, 2 July 2012

The finished quilt!

Well, I was very cheeky the other day and gave you a tantalising peak of my first ever finished quilt.

This quilt started life back in May when I was talking to a friend who's niece was turning 21: a landmark birthday that she wanted to give a memorable gift for. We started talking about cushions and then I mentioned quilts (I was still flush from having done my jelly roll quilt top which I still haven't finished binding. Ahem!). A week later a beautiful bundle of 10 FQs arrived at my door and the clock started ticking!!!

I had decided on a disappearing 9-patch block and whilst browsing the web I came across an idea of using a solid colour for the centre square. I bought a selection of plain colours picking out the main ones in the fabric and then cut all my fabrics into 10" squares. They were then pieced together, meaning that once each mega-black was cut into four I was left with a finished block of around 14.5". The quilt top was made with a total of 36 x 10" squares arranged in a 4x4 block pattern, with the squares alternated to create a random pattern. As a quilting novice I'd definitely recommend this block, I found it good fun and relatively quick to make. And I think the finished effect looks more complicated than it is in practice?
fabric & flowers: quilt top

The back proved a bit trickier - I wanted to use some of the pretty top fabrics that I had left over and my backing fabric wasn't quite wide enough so I eventually decided on a stack'n'whack block panel using a block of each fabric for the centre and a different solid for the outer. The centre panels were 9.5" (I'd mis-cut a couple of the blocks for the front which is why they're a bit smaller than the front) with the solid border taking the finished block upto 14.5".

And then it came to the quilting! I've only ever quilted the jelly-roll top so was a little nervous, especially as it was to be such a special present. My first thought was to quilt along the grid-lines of the top but I found it so difficult to marry up the front and back layers that after doing one line I realised it would look rubbish and out came the seam ripper. Sigh! Next up was to free-motion across the top. I'd always fancied trying this but hadn't really anticipated trying it on my first proper quilt!

I worked on the back of the quilt using ivory for the bobbin thread and then grey for the top thread across the stack'n'whack panel and sea-green top thread for the rest of the quilt.

The free-motion went quite well okay. Sometimes I would be sewing fluidly and then other times not so much - I found listening to loud rock music definitely helped!

This is the second quilt where I've had problems with the bottom fabric bunching up and having to rip out a lot of stitches. It took 1hr to do a quarter of the quilt and then 2hrs to unpick it. Not great, especially as I was working to a deadline! I'm guessing it's because I'm using a normal sewing foot instead of a walking foot and not basting enough? I only had normal pins and I have a feeling I didn't use enough of them. I've now got curved ones which I'm hoping will help out next time. Although if anyone has any tips for me they'd be gratefully recieved!

Overall, I think it's come out well. If I look really close I can see that my stitch lengths aren't as uniform as they could be and that some of the free-motion is tighter in some areas than others but on the whole I'm really pleased with it. It helped once I got the tension right....I found that once I turned the dial up to 9 and used a medium-slow speed the stitch appearance significantly improved!!!

So, enough of the talking (well, writing!) would you like to see how it turned out?

Quilt front (Disapearing 9 patch) by fabric & flowers

Quilt back (Stack'n'Whack blocks) by fabric & flowers

In the bottom left corner, I sewed a personal message from my friend to her niece in free-machine embroidery on grey fabric and bound with some left over pink patterned fabric

Quilt by fabric & flowers

I finished the quilt by hand, binding with grey fabric all around - the colours were so bright and colourful that I thought the grey was the best choice as it wouldn't create an over-dominance of any one colour and would also help to bring it all together. And I can't resist one more gratuitous shot of the free-motion embroidery!

Quilt by fabric & flowers

Quilt by fabric & flowers

So, details;

Fabric - 10 FQs of Dena Fishbein Kumari Garden (two of each design) and 5 Moda Solids colours
Pattern - Top: disappearing 9-patch; Bottom - stack'n'whack
Finished size - pre-quilting it was 54"x54". I forgot to measure it afterwards. Doh!

I really need to practise photographing quilts - I'm going to have to get me some pretty hangers and bang a nail or two in the wall for next time I think! And yes, there will be a next time - although this quilt did bring me to the brink of frustration a few times I'm really happy with how it came out and am looking forward to learning new skills on my next one. In a little while that is!!!!

S x

Todays sky ● grey, it's been raining on and off all day. Meh!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

A week away

It's all been a bit quiet here - sorry about that! We had a weeks holiday in Matlock, Derbyshire. How have you all been?

We had a lovely time: I was spoilt with lots of lie-ins, extra help with the Littlies and a trip to a fabric shop (more on that later!). What more could a girl ask for?!

We were quite lucky with the weather, and although there were quite a few cloudy days and heavy showers we managed to fit in lots of outdoor activities (aka wearing the Littlies out!) whilst it was dry.

A trip to Bakewell - a pretty little town. We had to cross over the river into the town - it was so high and the water was flowing so fast. There were little ducklings - literally balls of fluff! - which were trying so hard to swim.

There was a day trip to Chatsworth House. I've been there a few times now but I still really enjoy going - the gardens are just spectacular and so vast with lots of different zones - and the house is being constantly renovated.


In one of their tropical areas they had massive leaves which have always amazed with their sheer size - that's Little Mans hand and I can't even fit the whole leaf in the photo!

There is also a maze which bought us out at a flower bed full of peonies and lupins

(Apologies for the picture heavy post, I find Chatsworth so inspirational with all the colours and textures around the garden!)

Halfway through the week I was dropped off for a couple of hours quiet time at a fabric and embroidery shop, both of which I've visited before and have become a kind of Mecca for me when I'm in the area!!! Heirs and Graces is located halfway between Matlock and Bakewell in Darley Dale on the A6 and is housed in what I think is an old church/village hall. I always remember my first visit there a few years back and the 'wow!' I muttered upon first entering (which I still do!)

Look at all those fabrics! There are about five different aisles with fabric organised three bolts high and arranged by colour. It really is a sight for the eyes! And then, if you turn the corner, it opens up to another room with even more fabric and notions and thread!!!

It really is a treasure trove! And Anne who runs the shop is lovely and helpful and was kind enough to let me take these pictures to show you. Their website is currently being re-done but I would recommend getting in touch if there's anything that you would like, or trying to pop in if you're in the area. Obviously it would have been rude not to buy anything......

I bought a few cuts of fabric, most with projects in mind (looking at the colours, you might be able to guess the theme!) aside from the blue/red pattern in the bottom left which I just fell in love with and had to have. You know how it is!?! The accessories in the bottom picture are from the embroidery shop a few doors down which is also owned by Heirs & Graces and has a cafe which serves excellent coffee! From there I bought some curved safety pins for basting quilts - I promise more about the quilt teaser I showed you the other day very soon - and some perle cotton: I've been seeing some amazing hand-quilting across the blogosphere and I've been tempted into giving it a go.

So all in all, an amazing holiday. I'm going to leave you with an image of one of my most relaxing points of the holiday - it was evening, the sun had come out and the sky cleared after a fairly miserable day - and I sat out on the veranda in my pj's supping a glass of wine and enjoying the evening sky (you can just see my sock-clad feet at the bottom of the picture). Magical.

Hope you all have a lovely day (the sun is shining here today...at the moment, anyway!) and I'll hopefully be back tomorrow with more on the quilt!

S x

Today's sky ● blue with clouds

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