Saturday, 4 July 2015

A Happy Hen Crafternoon...

If I work very hard, and I'm very lucky, sometimes I get to combine teaching and crafting. And it's brilliant. Today I was honoured to be asked to run a Hen Crafternoon for a lovely girl I knew from my school days. So armed with a glue gun, fabric, buttons and beads, needles and threads I set off into the Fens...

The bride had requested that her hen party made fabric flowers that would be put together to make her bridal bouquet. No pressure then. Zoe (our Pinterest savvy friend) and I worked up some Pinterest boards, narrowed down the colour scheme and fabrics, then I set to prepping and sourcing materials.

The prep work is also great fun -sourcing the right tones, finishings and trims over the internet and local shops, making up examples and writing up the instruction manuals. Each of the ladies was given a fabric flower as an example (with a handy brooch back to use again as a memento of the day) and instructions...these were in case we didn't make enough during the session and the bride needed to press-gang them into making more before the big day!

Then it was up to me to arrive just before the event started, to set up and make everything look pretty. All I ask for is a space in which to work, preferably a table and a plug! Once all the ladies were ready with fizz in hand, it was a quick demo of the two basic styles and then pitch in...

The ability ranged from non-crafty-but-give-it-a-go (resulting in an amazing lace and pearl representation of the male anatomy) to full blow ex-Costume Design students, so it was important to try and have a range of materials to suit everyone, as well as a basic design that could be adapted and made more complex.

The results? Hopefully the bride likes them -a stack of flowers in yellows, creams and greys with sparkle and pearls all over. I can't wait to see the wedding pictures! xx

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

A Liberty Belle? 'Sew Over It' Review...

So if you follow me on FB or Instagram you know that I left it bloody late to sew and entire 1940's style frock for a themed party (which has already achieved epic status!) last weekend.

Jim bought me the Sew Over It pattern from Duxford Museum (where all good men do their shopping!) over a year ago for my birthday. My birthday treat was a day, alone, meandering in London, and ended in Liberty buying fabric. Both pattern and fabric had sat neatly in my cupboard waiting for an excuse...

Have to admit, I was pretty darn terrified cutting the most expensive fabric that I've ever purchased, but once I got over that fact, it was fine.

In terms of instructions and layout, the pattern was very straightforward and clear. I think you would have needed some skill to start with (you have to be able to insert a zip and there are sleeves which are a bit of a fiddle), but for someone who gets their sewing machine out now and again, it was fine. Specific terms are explained in the front (such as 'under-stitching') and there are diagrams throughout.
The pattern paper is brilliant quality, and heavier than traditional patterns -which prevented ripping and it really stayed put on the fabric.

It really was important to measure yourself before deciding upon the size to choose. I'm awkward and a size 10 across the boobs, a 13 waist and a 12 hips, so I went for a 12 all over, then reduced the seam allowance slightly around the waist sections. This did result in the dress being slightly too big across the back, but with some crafty seam work it was easily remedied. Pay attention to the seam allowances given -they are generous and unless you want acres of spare fabric all over, do as they say!

I was really chuffed with the end result -a comfy, nicely fitted frock that I will definitely wear again -not just to 1940's events.

If they could improve on anything, I would say a cotton quantity guide (I used 1 1/2 reels of Gutermann  thread, but none is suggested) would be a big help when purchasing. I'd also ask them to look again at the pattern piece layout -with some careful adjustment I managed to save nearly a 75cm stretch of fabric at the bottom which I can use to make my daughter a skirt (well chuffed I was too). Luckily my pattern didn't need matching specifically so this might not always be possible, but in the spirit of 40's 'Make Do and Mend' saving the scraps is essential!


Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Light as a feather & moss green...

 I love a bit of a challenge. This certainly covered all areas -stretching my technical skills, working with a yarn I'd never normally choose, and designing a pattern.

My lovely friend Timea wanted a swoopy, swooshy summer wrap, something in a strong colour, but light enough to wear in summer. It couldn't be itchy-scratchy either (you know the way natural fibres can often be?).

After some Pinterest collaboration (you can have look at my Summer Wrap board here)and some yarn searching we settled on 'Cumulus' by fyberspates in bottle green (903). This yarn is light as air, and looks like moss.

For someone who usually crochets the brightest most chunky yarn I can get my hands on (and at a push some really dry fibrous cotton) this was really tricky for my fingers to get used to. Eventually I learned that it is much stronger than it looks, and after a practice swatch (something I rarely have the patience to do!) my tension wobbles were sorted.

This piece has travelled some miles too -first stashed in my bag on a trip to Dorset, then up to the Highlands. Sort of seemed right to work on something like this in a big natural space.

Anyway, it went to it's new home this morning and Timea really liked it. Phew xx

Friday, 5 June 2015

"You can't throw that away Mum!!"

After several days of threatening, I gutted my son's room. I think the threatening out loud was more for my benefit that his -there was no way he could sort that pit out, and I needed to brace myself...

As any mum knows, this kind of bedroom purge has to be done when said occupant is at school -or more makes it back in from the recycling bin that exits.

Once the Lego pieces had been repatriated, dragons parked on the wooden castle and money box raided for parking change (before you shout, I'm honest and put the money in his bank account!) I tackled the 'special shelf'.

This is a very wonky, hastily put up shelf that he can park little collections that he doesn't want his sister to mess with (as yet, she can't reach). Precious things go up there, collected shiny objects, badges, snippets of this, that and the other that at that moment in time were all important and priceless.

Once the dust had been chiselled off, and I'd put the tiniest bits into an old letter press tray, I stood back and looked at it. I can remember when some of those things were won, found or discovered. Other pieces that I thought were rubbish and might have thrown away have been placed on the shelf, away from pesky sisters and over enthusiastic, duster-weilding mums.

You might think you can work out what your kid might like to collect, to play with, and to get interested in. But the truth is they will kind of work out it out for themselves. I love Sam's little shelf of curiosities, and it teaches me a heap about what who he really is x

Friday, 22 May 2015

At a loose end? What to do with leftover yarn...

So there was a great post shared by Rupert's House this week on using up yarn scraps.

I'm in the middle of trying to build up stock for the Autumn/Winter Craft Fair season, and trying to slim down what yarn I have in my desk (basically so I can justify buying some more).

I can't bear to let the smallest amount just get chucked away, but on the other hand that leaves a hidden box that is now bursting to overflowing with tangled scraps. So here are a couple of ideas for using up the ends...

Make a flower! 
This book is great and I'd really recommend having a copy stashed away for quick gifts and decorations. A definite go-to-resource (and helped me out with the structure of making the King Protea)


Make up some mini dot squares!

This is brilliant for using up the tiny odds and ends for the dot middles. Then just use a block colour for the outside -great effect!

Round 1) In scrap colour (about 1.7m) Ch3, in first ch, 15tr, join in a  circle and securely fasten ends.

Round 2) In block colour (I chose white) (1dc, 2dc in same stitch) all the way around. Join with slip stitch.

Round 3) Continuing in block colour, and working in the chain spaces, ch3, 3htr, tr, (3tr, ch2, 3tr = corner), then tr, 3htr, tr, corner and repeat all around. Join with a slip stitch and fasten in ends.

Make loads and stitch them together for cushion covers, place mats, blankets, cowls or anything!!

Mini-Mini dot Squares:

Round 1) In scrap colour (about 1m) ch2, then in first ch, 10dc, join with slip stitch and work in the loose ends.

Round 2)In first block colour (I chose light grey) 2dc in each dc all around, join with slip stitch.

Round 3) In second block colour (a dark grey), and working in the chain spaces, 4htr, (tr, ch2, tr = corner) around to make the square. Join with a slip stitch & fasten off.