Monthly Archives: May 2014

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Happy days

And so we are back from a lovely weekend with aunty hoogally, my sister.

A weekend of hanging out, chewing the cud, enjoying each other’s company. A weekend of cups of tea, sharing meals, trips to the park, fun at the playground, ice cream, the repeated stubbing of my little toe…

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and of course, a dinosaur.

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It’s funny really, Little Pumpkin’s naps went awry whilst we were away.

She would snuggle up for a feed and then, instead of curling up for a nap, would ping wide awake and point out the interesting curtains, or cupboard, or floor, or door.

We arrived back home just as she was due a nap. But this time, sat in her room, she quietened down and drifted happily off to sleep.

As I looked down at her sleeping, I knew that she was right.

It’s wonderful and exciting going away and seeing new things, but there’s nowhere like home for a good nap.

Joseph Made It!

Well, doesn’t time fly?!

It doesn’t seem a month since we saw Beth’s egg cosy but here we are with our second instalment of “I made it!” and it’s all very exciting.

Because today we have not one but two crafty creations for you lovely people, courtesy of Joseph and his mum.
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And what better way to introduce them than through the words of their creator, Joseph, who said “These are our Sock-Pumpkins, I made a pumpkin shape by putting socks in it”.

Joseph’s stripey orange and blue sock-pumpkin is called “Conker”.

His favourite part of Conker is, very wisely, the mouth “because it shines”.

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But most importantly of all is the fact that “he is friendly and he likes me to cuddle him”.

A vital attribute in any sock-pumpkin and, I think, a clear sign of a successful afternoon’s crafting.

But we can’t finish this post without having a look at his mum’s sock-pumpkin too.
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Unfortunately, at the time of asking, Joseph didn’t know this particular individual’s name but he did say that “I love mummy’s art”.

Wise words indeed Joseph, and thank you for sharing your fantastic craft. We have enjoyed them very very much.

Super Cute Scandi Style Embroidery

Some of you may remember a previous post of mine discussing a deal that I made with my son.

In short, the Monkey agreed to be less upset about the Christmas decorations coming down and in return I agreed that we would have a go at making our home “sparkle’ a little bit more throughout the year. But the Monkey is a firm believer that homemade is best so we’ve had to do this with our own hands rather than a trip to the shops or an evening trawling the internet.

So when I signed up to a blog-world mass crafting event I knew that I would have to make something for our home.

After all… a deal is a deal, and we shook on it.

So here’s the finished project, my super cute scandi inspired cushion cover embroidery.
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And the Monkey is ever so pleased with it. To quote him, “it’s fantastic mummy, its awesome”.

Phew!

And here’s the pattern.

Now you can use these lovely little flowers to cheer up a cushion cover of your own but please don’t feel tied to my layout or, in fact, to using them on a cushion cover at all.

Let your imagination roam. Just promise me one thing, ok?

Use them to make your home feel loved in, as well as lived in.

So how about a Scandi style apron to cheer up the back of your kitchen door? Just pop those flowers on the pocket and maybe add a bit of matching ric rac along the hem and away you go.

Or how about Scandi-fying your bathroom with some bright blue flowers on crisp white towels?

In fact, pillowcases, curtains, clothing, even clusters of framed pictures or decorative mini embroidery hoops. They could all benefit from a bit of Scandi cheer.

Need more impact?

How about a splash of applique on some of the leaves, or breaking out of the restraints of monochrome into a riot of colour?

You could even liberate these flowery guys from their little square homes if you wanted… I’m sure they won’t mind.

What I’m trying to say is that these few, small, simple flower designs are just the starting point. It’s your imagination, love and effort that will transform both the designs themselves, and whatever corner of your home in which you choose to place them.

So, if you’re ready to let these little flowers loose in your home (whether on something you’ve made or something you’ve bought) then you’ll need at least some of the following items:

  • The item that you want to embroider;
  • A printout of your chosen flower design, resized to suit your chosen item;
  • Scissors;
  • Needle;
  • Embroidery Thread in your colour of choice (I used anchor stranded cotton 400 for the vast majority, and a smattering of Anchor’s 233 thread for contrast);
  • Embroidery Hoop of sufficient diameter to contain a whole scandi square;
  • Water Erasable Marker Pen/Dressmakers Chalk Pencil;
  • Stabiliser (optional); and
  • Normal thread (if attaching a stabiliser with temporary tacking stitches).

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So, what do you do now you’ve got all this stuff?

1. If you are using a stabiliser then you’ll need to start by attaching it to the back of the fabric, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

2. The next step is to transfer the pattern to your fabric.

Now there are many methods of transferring a pattern,  but in this case I cut the template to make a stencil. I find this keeps the transferred design closer to the size of the original than simply drawing around the outside of a shape.
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I traditionally use a tailor’s chalk pencil but as the fabric was quite textured I thought I’d be a bit crazy and branch out to an erasable marker.

It’s worth adding at this point that, if you are using the square outlines, then I would recommend that you draw and embroider these first and then go back and repeat steps 2, 3 and 4 for the flowers themselves.

This helps you to iron out any wonky lines prior to investing time sewing the detail of the flower designs. It also makes it far easier to centre the design in the squares.

3. Moving on, place the part of the fabric which you are about to sew in the centre of an embroidery hoop and make sure it is tight without being overly stretched in any one particular direction.

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4. Go go sew!

I used three strands out of six strands of embroidery thread. If you are sewing on a smaller scale or using a finer fabric then you may find two strands to be perfectly adequate.
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Most of the pattern is stitched using a simple backstitch but, as you’ll see in the pattern, I also used a whipped backstitch for the outline squares, a split stitch on the stems and a double running stitch on the detail of the cup shaped flower.

Wherever there is a little blob on the pattern, I simply stitched a small star.

That said, the entirety of this design can be sewn in backstitch with no significant detriment to the final result.

5. Once finished, remove the stabilising fabric, press with an iron and enjoy your newly scandi-fied item!
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I’d love to hear about, or even better see, your completed projects. It’s easy to sit here at my computer throwing my words and ideas out there to the wide-open-impersonal-internet. It’s lovely to see where they have taken root and the fruit that they have borne.

And it goes without saying that I’d love you to use this tutorial and scandi-fy all manner of items for yourself or as gifts for friends but please don’t make any to sell. Feel free to re-pin, copy, or borrow a couple of photos to spread the word, but please link back to this post and credit me. Please don’t share the pattern itself or my little ‘how-to-do’ guides on your site.

Stop Press!

If this has whet your appetite for flower related craftiness then why not pop over to Bugs and Fishes to see the full array of flowery tutorials available for your use and enjoyment.

UPDATE!

If you fancy including those cute little birds in your design then you can now download my pattern for these friendly fellows here.

Happy sewing!

Painting memories

It’s easy to be busy.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the crazy mayhem of family life.

I love hearing the Monkey chatting away with a friend after school, their imaginations taking them wherever they desire.

I love the well rehearsed and proudly announced line in a school assembly.

I love a tightly grasped swimming badge and the smile that goes with it,
the warm welcome at our local baby group,
impromptu trips to the park,
sticky fingers and even stickier kisses,
and the breath being knocked out of me by a hug that starts five feet away with a running jump.

But its easy in this busyness to miss the miracle unfolding before my eyes.

Its easy to forget that, right in the midst of all these things, I have a little girl determinedly growing up before my very eyes.
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And so last week, Little Pumpkin and I called a halt to all of the busyness, and made our way to a local ceramics cafe for a bit of quality time together painting pottery and making memories.

It was just the perfect day as the sun shone in through the cafe window and Little Pumpkin sat in a highchair smiling, watching cars drive by and blowing kisses at the people who came in to collect their items.

There was freshly brewed coffee for me and a cookie for the Pumpkin. There was music in the background and friendly conversation.

We were highly industrious, fuelled as we were by caffeine and sugar.
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And Little Pumpkin got her first taste of painting and found it to be highly agreeable.

Particularly the paintbrushes.
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We have been waiting excitedly for a week to pass to collect our items.

Finally the day dawned and off we ran to collect our items, all lovingly wrapped up in tissue and a brown paper bag.

And here they sit, ready to bring a ray of sunshine to everyday meals, helping me to remember my beautiful one year old who loves to blow kisses to strangers while watching the world drive by.
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Let’s Make: Awesome Bunting!

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And so I dip my toe into the waters of tutorials beginning with bunting, which turns out to have a deceptively large number of steps to it!

I’ll be the first to admit that there is an overwhelming array of bunting tutorials out there and nearly as many different methodologies.

My tutorial is not the fastest method, but it is a relatively straightforward way of making bunting that will withstand a bit of rough treatment over the years and come out of storage in a fairly presentable state.

If you’re a seasoned crafter looking for something simple to follow then use the headings in bold as a framework for your crafting.

Otherwise, I hope that my general ramblings provide a few hints and tips that I’ve picked up over the years, most often as a result of frustration, tears and abandoned projects.

1. Get your materials together

So, you’ve been out to a shop/hit the online stores/raided your stash of fabric/cut up your children’s old clothes (not a joke – it can make a lovely run of “memory” bunting). You will also need bias binding of at least the length that you want your line of bunting to be, plus a little extra in case things end up longer than expected.

I used a patterned fabric on both sides so I could use the bunting at a window if I wanted to.

You could just as easily use a plain fabric for the back of each triangle or, if you are feeling particularly inspired, you could even use different patterned fabric on each side so you get two bunting themes for the price of one. But make sure that whatever fabric you use doesn’t show through to the other side.

So, fabric chosen, you should hopefully have a needle, thread and scissors as a minimum.
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Ideally, if you are anything like me, you’ll have a seam ripper too.

Mistakes happen.

A seam ripper means that you’re more likely to have your sanity intact by the end of the project. Bonus!

If you’re hoping to run this off in a couple of nights then you’ll be needing access to a sewing machine. This isn’t a necessity – I love hand sewing and the individual look it gives to a project. In this case, however, if you’re undecided between the two options then I would recommend a sewing machine for the more uniform finish that it gives.

An iron is useful too. Yes, getting it out to press your fabric does seem like a faff but it does give a much better finish and helps save mistakes. Believe me, I wouldn’t be suggesting this if I didn’t genuinely believe it to be worth the effort. Unpicking is infinitely more frustrating.

On that note, I’d recommend that you wash and iron the fabric. Fabric shrinks and if you are using a combination of fabrics then they may shrink at varying rates, causing your beloved bunting to go all wrinkly or wonky.

So if you’re in a huge rush then you may want to grab yourself some pinking sheers and a different tutorial, having decided that this tutorial is not the method for you.

I won’t take it personally, I promise.

2. Cut out your template

This is the template that I made, but it’s just a simple triangle so feel free to go crazy with your own pattern! If you’re not feeling particularly crazy then you’ll need to print out the template to a regular A4 size.

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At this point I’d suggest that you take the physical template, cut it out and hold it up to where you are likely to use the bunting. When I did this, I ended up shortening the triangle by a few inches to the final size on the template. If it had been bunting for outdoors I’d probably have stuck with the larger size.

If you do make your own template then remember to add a seam allowance. It’s fairly standard to use a 1.5cm seam allowance but I reduced this to 1cm on this project due to the smaller scale. Lives will not depend on the difference between these two measurements so feel free to vary this with reckless abandon.

3. Cut out your fabric 

There are many ways of securing the paper template against the fabric, the most common being pins.

I’m not a huge fan of using pins for small projects as I find that they have a habit of fidgeting out of place. They also, far too often in my hands, completely make a bid for freedom and hide in my carpet ready to reveal themselves when the nearest inquisitive crawling one year old passes by.

Incidentally, should you find that you are in possession of similarly sneaky pins then a magnet hovered over the general area can be a helpful tool. If you don’t have a magnet then playmobil have a fantastic working metal detector in their spy range which is surprisingly good at finding pins.
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Anyway, returning to the project in hand.

When making my bunting, I simply held down the template and drew around it using a ruler to ensure that it kept the edges nice and straight.

For the best results, consider where you are placing the template on the fabric. Do you want the print or images to run in a certain direction, for example, or is there a pattern that you need to place in the centre on the triangle? I would also suggest that its best, in this case, to ensure that your pieces are cut ‘on the grain’ rather than on the ‘bias’.

Once you’ve marked out or pinned down your template then it’s time to be brave and make those daunting first cuts into your pristine fabric.

4. Attach your fabric triangles together, right side to right side

Put simply, place your two triangles of fabric so that the ‘right sides’ are facing one another inwards, and temporarily attach the two fabric pieces to each other.
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Again, thanks to my slightly irrational mistrust of pins I hand sewed some temporary stitches, also known as tacking stitches, for this purpose.

Thousands of crafters in thousands of homes across the country use pins successfully and without the need for a German metal detecting toy.

You too can be one of these people should you so desire.

5. Sew pieces together and turn inside out

When sewing the pieces together, make sure that you sew the correct distance from the edge of the fabric. This should be whatever the length of your seam allowance is, which in my case was 1cm. Your sewing machine will probably have markers on it but, if not, just use some tailor’s chalk or other similar temporary product to mark where you should sew.

When this has been done your triangles should be turned inside out so that the right side, or print, is on the outside as you ultimately want it to look.

6. Press the triangles with an iron

Yes it is a pain. Yes it is worth it.

7. Topstitch the triangles

This stage isn’t strictly necessary, but your bunting will sit a lot flatter and will keep its shape longer thanks to topstitching the triangles. It’s the difference between good bunting and great bunting.
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8. Attach your triangles to the bias binding at your chosen intervals

So, take your bias binding and unfold it.

You’ll find that you essentially have a very long rectangle in which both outer edges are folded into the centre of the rectangle, making two inner flaps.

Take your triangle and stitch it to one of the flaps. Do this stitching all the way along the bias binding until all of the triangles are attached. The stitches won’t be seen but will hold the triangles in place.
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9. Turn the bunting over and fold the bias binding over the top of the triangle and secure in place

You need to secure the bias binding or it will more than likely move while you are sewing, causing bumps and folds in the final item.

You can use pins for this task but will probably be unsurprised to hear that I used more hand sewn tacking stitches instead, just to make sure that everything stayed in place.

Bias binding, I find, is also sneaky and fidgety when my back is turned.
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10. Top stitch along the bias binding and remove any tacking stitches

Ta da!
Congratulations!

You are now the proud creator of awesome bunting.
Display with pride.
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