Thursday, 30 April 2015

Mouse Picnic Mini Quilt

I've had a little girl present to make this past week, and after a bit of thought decided to make another Mouse Picnic. I've had a thrifted miniature picnic hamper sitting in a cupboard for quite a while, and a separate thrifted bundle of tiny cups, saucers etc too, all waiting for the right occasion. Perfect time to empty a little out of my cupboards rather than the more usual reverse process. So I was all set and just had to provide a mini picnic mat and the mice...

It is really a lot more 'square' than it looks in this photo, I promise! It's just that there's some very long, uneven grass underneath!

Although the squareness isn't an issue in the flesh, there were several niggles with this make. First up, I was going with a rainbow approach to work with the bright cups, but you might notice, as Venetia did, that I've got my violet and indigo back to front. Unfortunately she only noticed once it was finished!
Then I did think it would be a great idea to try and quilt a sunshine on one side and a cloud with rain coming down on the other. But it really didn't work as I'd imagined it in my head! My 'sun' turned out very weird, and the whole thing is just far too much on top of each other, you can see the failed attempt more clearly on the back.

Ditto with the long grass!
Happily, I don't think it looks 'bad' on the front, just not what I wanted, and not as good as other designs could have been.

And lastly I did actually start off making a completely different mini picnic mat and mice!

But I didn't consider the tea set in question when I was making it, and when it was finished and I put the really bright cups etc with them, it all looked terrible! And these mice are very particular mice who really don't like clashing tea sets! So now they're suffering for their pickiness and are a little sad that they have been put back in said cupboard, and are waiting until I find another tea set for them...

And another little girl of course!


Tuesday, 28 April 2015

'Home Sweet Home' Artist Trading Card Swap

I recently took part in the Very Berry Artist Trading Card swap. The idea is to make a textile card, 3.5" by 2.5", to send to someone else taking part, and then you also receive a card yourself, from a mystery partner. The theme this time was 'Home Sweet Home', and I was making for Simi, from Buttons and Paint. Simi left some information about the kind of thing she liked:

Likes/dislikes: I like abstract, contemporary art. I love bright colours. I'm a big fan of all types of textile art techniques. I love seeing work that is typical of the artist themselves...

I kind of struggled a bit thinking of how I could interpret 'Home Sweet Home' in an abstract or contemporary way. In fact I struggled generally to avoid ideas which felt a bit twee, and therefore, I thought, most likely very much not up Simi's street. So in the end I decided to go a little off piste and think about animal homes. After considering snails and hermit crabs (both very tempting!), I had a look through one of our children's books to try and find some more inspiration- 'A house is a house for me'

Find it here on Amazon if you're interested.
It's a lovely rhyming book about all the amazing, different kinds of houses within the animal kingdom. The illustrations are beautiful and it's perfect for reading aloud with young children - and for them to try and come up with their own additional ideas for animal houses too. It also seemed perfect for inspiration for this theme - and it was! There is a lovely picture of whales in there - 'Whales need an ocean or sea', and as soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted to create a card with whales in their 'home'. So my card is very much based on the picture in the book, and here it is...

You can see I changed the theme words around to fit my whales and their home!
I'm not sure I've ever made anything on this scale before, it's hard to appreciate just how small these cards are until you see one in the flesh. But here's mine being held for a bit of perspective...

And I gave it a simple patchwork back too...

So off it went to Simi last week and I'm hoping she'll like it. I feel it very much hits the last part of her 'likes/dislikes' -

'I love seeing work that is typical of the artist themselves...'

After my initial worries over what to make, I really enjoyed the whole experience. And then, to top it off,  I received my beautiful card last week from the lovely Stacey at Bakercourt...

Stacey captured such a gorgeous, colourful, whimsical feel with the theme, and of course colour and whimsy suit me perfectly! And it's really difficult to see on my photo, but there are tiny, glitzy Czech glass, seed beads sewn all around the edge, which are incredibly effective, and which must have taken a lot of patience. You can see them better in Stacey's post here. So thank you very much Stacey, it's perched on the shelf next to my computer now, and makes me smile every time I glance upwards wondering what words to write next - which happens a lot!

I'm sure it's a swap I'll try and take part in again, I have a feeling creating tiny textile cards could become slightly addictive!


PS If you'd like to see more of the cards created by everyone taking part then head to Flickr - here. And I've also just had another thought - I can link up with Carie over at Space for the Butterflies with her 'What we're reading' post - since there is most definitely a children's book within my post, and it's very much one I'd recommend, even apart from providing inspiration for ATC Swaps! Always lots of great book ideas from Carie, so well worth a visit.

Friday, 24 April 2015

This Moment

Here's a link to Soulemama's moment, and here's mine...

{this moment} ~ A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
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Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Vintage Embroidery Cushions

Carrying on my mission to repurpose vintage embroideries and table linens (CD holder here and mini wall hanging here), I've finished a couple of cushions for Venetia.

The fabrics for the letters are mostly scraps of fabric that I used in her quilt, so hopefully the cushions will work well in her room.
These were very straightforward, just a matter of choosing some appropriate embroideries with space for words to be added, and then applique on your letters.

I added a layer of batting (old wool blanket!) behind, and quilted some hearts on them too.

I left the 'Love' one just with the word alone, but for the 'Venetia' one I added a long line of wiggly, multi-coloured buttons down each of the side panels.

I'm starting to look at vintage embroideries more just as beautiful pieces of fabric now, and that makes it easier to slice into them and create something new with them. Especially perfect for those linens that are stained or damaged in places maybe.

Whilst at the button sewing stage of these, I saw some lovely cushions made by Marna Lunt, which were a similar kind of thing, but more elegantly executed - she used Liberty fabric scraps for starters! They popped up on Facebook, but I can't for the life of me find them again now, however lots of Marna Lunt's amazingly gorgeous work uses vintage linens as a base so if you're interested in ways to use yours then she's a great place to visit.

Although these aren't Christmas themed, I'm linking up with 'Ho, Ho, Ho' again because these are going to be tucked away to be a present for Venetia. This month 'Ho, Ho, Ho' is over at Slikstitches, and Benta over there has made a great, calorie free Advent Calendar. There's also a prize to be won again of course - this month a lovely cushion pattern. So get yourself organised early for Christmas and head over to link up. Last month I made a present for Maria (Clara Doll with Nutcracker), this month obviously I've got something for Venetia so I'm thinking maybe for next month's 'Ho, Ho, Ho' I ought to try and make a present for one of the boys - the girls are much easier to make for, so that will be more of a challenge!

I'm also going to link up today over at Super Mom No Cape, where Sue has recently started a lovely Vintage Embroidery and Stitchery Link Up on Mondays. There were lots of gorgeous embroidery projects linked up last week, so I'm sure it will be worth a visit this week too.


Friday, 17 April 2015

This Moment

Here's a link to Soulemama's moment and here's mine...

{this moment} ~ A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
. . . . . . . . . .

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Dancing on the beach

A few weeks ago, Yvonne, over at Quilting Jetgirl, put out a request for help creating quilt blocks for a couple of special quilts-to-be. Back in the Autumn, her community was shaken by the sudden death of Mike Alsbury, a husband and father as well as being part of the wider community family to which Yvonne belongs. It's a tragedy that has obviously hit her tight knit community really hard, and I hate to think how hard it must have hit his immediate family.

Obviously a quilt isn't going to magically heal all the pain and loss; unfortunately nothing is. But I do think that most quilters around the world have a certain amount of faith in the healing power (however obviously limited it is) of quilts - both making and receiving them. It's hard to see how something so full of time and love and effort, which provides warmth and comfort and beauty, could have anything other than a positive effect on both maker and recipient. And I'm sure that's why so many quilters, particularly in times of trouble, turn to quilt making to try and help - themselves and others. (Remember this book for starters - Quilting for Peace?)

Yvonne was looking for 2 different types of blocks - ideally either music themed in blues/black and white or boat/ocean/dancing themed blocks using navys, teals, greys and pink or salmon. Of course the ocean themed blocks were the ones to appeal to me the most, and to fit in best with fabric on hand. So I have 2 blocks now ready to zip over to Yvonne.

First up, and obviously influenced by my fish sewing...

But then for my second I wanted to do something a little different. The suggestion of 'dancing' for the theme was, I think, more separate from the boat/ocean idea; but for me dancing goes perfectly with the ocean theme too. What better place to dance than on a wide, open beach? And I'm sure it's not just my children who do this, is it? Venetia is, predictably, the most frequent beach dancer, I often manage to snap her at it...

But Maria, when she's not pretending to be a dog on the beach, comes a close second in the dancing stakes, and the boys have been known to join in. I have a series of photos from a few years ago, of Theo and Maria dancing in the sea together as the sun set on the horizon behind them, which are some of my favourite photos ever.

And dancing on the beach, to me, sums up what childhood should be about. So I hope that the children in Yvonne's community, so affected by this tragedy, will still dance on the beach.

I'm quite worried that my blocks won't fit in with the others, especially as they don't really fit in so well together even, but I know Yvonne will create 2 beautiful quilts regardless, which is all that matters.


Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Take 5


Only 1 more block made on Maria's quilt. I could really do with speeding up a little here. This one is another 'Flap' block...

With a little caterpillar, fat and juicy, for the bird in the last block to flutter along to and gulp down!

2) After last week's post on the CD holder, there were a couple of questions about how I go about printing on fabric. Some time last Summer I did a bit of experimenting on this, with mixed success. After reading lots of advice/tutorials across the web, the standard way seemed to be to iron freezer paper on to your piece of fabric and then just print as you would for normal paper, making sure your fabric/freezer paper was inserted correctly so it printed on the fabric side rather than the freezer paper side obviously. I'm not sure if I was doing anything wrong, but the printer just seemed to know something was a bit funny and chewed up most of my attempts. Earlier this year I tried again, but instead of using freezer paper I used bondaweb, took lots of care with the preparation and have had consistent success - the printer seems to be completely hoodwinked. Although thinking back I have a feeling it was a different printer in the Summer, so maybe my change from freezer paper to bondaweb had nothing to do with it, and it's just a friendlier, more helpful printer these days!

Anyway, when we were visiting family in London recently, I read a lovely poem - Desiderata, it was framed and up on a wall. You might be able to read this version...

Or if not, you can find it here on Wikipedia. A couple of lines in particular caught my eye - particularly after I'd so recently posted about trying to adjust to reading glasses, and the fact that this felt like a depressing sign of aging.

Take kindly the counsel of years,
Gracefully surrendering the things of youth,

These lines seemed very appropriate to me at the time. And although they don't completely dissolve my dislike of aging, I do definitely feel that I'm wiser, more mature and confident in myself, a more balanced person than when I was a spring chicken, so perhaps the need for reading glasses (as well as numerous other physical signs!) is a reasonable trade off for my accumulated wisdom and experience!

And, of course, when words in a poem 'speak' to me like this, my thoughts immediately turn to including them in a mini quilt. (I have had another mini quilt around the aging issue in my head for a while but that one is still at the brewing stage, so it may not appear till I've aged a little more.) 

Since I don't particularly want to sew all those words, some more printing was called for, so back to the very start again - here's my careful preparation of the bondaweb.

I cut a piece that's just slightly larger than A4, and iron it on to the fabric I want to use, hard to see in a photo, since they're both pretty much white!

Remember to iron it to the wrong side of the fabric.
Then, using a piece of A4 paper (I've used black here, to try and make it clearer), I trim my larger bondawebbed piece to the exact A4 shape, with ruler and rotary cutter. I find initially going slightly larger, and then trimming with the bondaweb in place, gives a crisper edge, and any fraying or softer edges seemed to give the printer the most headaches in the past.

Just trimming off the edges to get to A4 size.
So here is my piece of fabric, beautifully adhered to the bondaweb, and all set to go into the printer...

Make sure you know which way to feed it into your printer!
And here it is, fresh out of the printer and ready to become another mini quilt, when I get the chance!

But, beware - your ink may be different, but mine is not colour fast so I'd only do this for things I'm not planning on washing.

3) Fishy progress...

Some scraps of very plain fabric - from the linens I've used recently.

I liked using the edge scraps with the rows of holes which so often create an elegant border on vintage napkins.

And a bit of experimenting with different stitches on my machine...

Then on to some 'patchwork' fish...

I just sewed some strips of fabric in 'bulk' on to a thin backing fabric, before cutting out the various fish shapes and then sewing them down simply.

4) Did you watch the Sewing Bee earlier this year? It seems like ages ago already. My favourite challenge is always the alteration challenge, although I do prefer it when it's a reasonably every day type alteration, rather than some of the crazier ones they had this year - like wet suits! I've also seen quite a few amazing shirt refashions recently (several are collecting on my Pinterest 'Clothes Sewing' Board if you're interested), so when one of my favourite, local thrift shops had a half price sale on all clothing a couple of weeks ago, it seemed a good opportunity to grab a couple of shirts to play around with.

My first one has just eased me in gently. All I did was change some slightly ugly, beige coloured buttons for bright red ones..

I do half wish I'd gone for lots of different coloured, bright buttons now.

And give it a bit more shape in the middle...

My second shirt is still in progress, and I've got a far greater admiration now of how they manage their alterations within 90 minutes!

I went more radical with this one...

So far I've just added some pin tucks at the top.

When I get round to it, I'm planning on reattaching sleeves of some kind, possibly a different collar and possibly changing the bottom. But as well as the time, it's definitely harder than it looks generally. Have you ever been inspired by the Sewing Bee to go for your own alteration challenge? 

5) Spring is here!

 It still feels slightly dangerous to say that, but I really think it properly is now.

And, I know it's easy to say when we're enjoying gorgeous sunshine rather than Spring showers, but we're loving it this year!

Do you remember this seed spreader that I turned into a planter? It was lovely to see the daffodils come up and bloom.
For a few years now I've been very conscious that I love Summer so much that I don't really give the other seasons much of a chance. And it does worry me that I sort of spend half the year either mourning the recent loss of Summer, or just looking forward to the following Summer. Not fully appreciating the seasons and time in between. If I carry on this way then that's a large proportion of the rest of my life which I'm not really making the most of. So I've been trying very hard to enjoy the other seasons a bit more. The start of Autumn was OK (basically just denial that Summer was over!) but the second half of Autumn and definitely Winter were more of a struggle! However, I really feel that I am starting to properly appreciate Spring in its own right this year.

It definitely helps that we live in an area which is incredibly beautiful in Spring. There are just masses of primroses and daffodils and so many other flowers growing wild all over the place.

Everywhere is green, and there are gorgeous, cute lambs frolicking around fields wherever you look.

 And it's just so lovely to reverse the indoor/outdoor ratio again.

Even when we are indoors, there are constant reminders brought inside of all that life which is bursting out all around us again.

So happy Spring to you all! Just have to find a way of loving Autumn and Winter next!