Category Archives: Ta Da!

Finished Projects

A tale of two cat bags…

IMG_3736
Recently our two year old God-Daughter had to go into hospital for an operation and I found myself pondering what I could create to make her smile.

Whilst racking my brains, it struck me that I hadn’t seen her carrying a bag of her own around.

Now pretty much every toddler girl (and pre-school girl, and school girl…) that I know loves a good bag. This particular little girl loves cats and so it was clear that if a bag was going to capture her heart then it would need to have a cat of her own as part of the design.

Now I’ll be the first person to admit that I don’t always get my projects right first time. Planning ahead is not my strong point, but I like to think that I make up for it in enthusiasm.

And I charged so quickly into the creative process that I didn’t consider running off a mock up version before officially committing needle and thread to fabric.

In fact, I was so focused beavering away in my evenings that I really failed to step back and consider the bag as a whole.

Otherwise I might have noticed that the bag was coming up a little small for a two year old and all the fun treasures that she would want to carry.

But I didn’t and so, last stitch sewn, ends tidied up and tools put down… it slowly dawned on me that things had gone a tad awry. To put it bluntly, the bag was too small. It needed to be significantly bigger to carry all of her treasures.

And so I scratched my head, stomped around the house with frustration and eventually picked myself up, and started again. I wasn’t going to be beaten!

And after slightly more preparation than was given to my first attempt, I decided that a toddler messenger bag was clearly in order.

There are a whole raft of tutorials out there on how to make messenger bags suitable for the short of stature. I must apologise that I didn’t have the time to take photos of the bag making process myself but time was of the essence.

I was, however, pleased with the original cat design and decided to applique it onto the front of this second bag.
IMG_3747 2

I used a fusible webbing and then secured the design firmly in place with hand stitches around the edges.

In case you too are in need of a friendly cat to cheer up a bag, or skirt or other such item, then here is my pattern ready to resize and roll out to suit your needs. There’s also an alternate version to allow you to play around with the pattern and make it your own.

Here you go!

And if that’s not enough then try using buttons for the eyes, a few characterful whiskers or push the boat out completely (and the applique idea overboard) and embroider the outlines instead.

Perhaps some whipped backstitch and a bit of satin stitch for the pupils or nose?

And it’s not all bad news; Little Pumpkin has adopted the original bag which, it turns out, is a remarkably suitable size for a just turned one year old with a penchant for her brother’s metal cars.
IMG_4412

Stitching Memories – The Sequel

So, as promised here we go with my second post on sewing drawings, and this time its a very special bit of embroidery, possibly my most important piece of work yet.

So, what makes an item deserve such an accolade?

Is it the materials, the best that money can buy? Or the design, cutting edge and on trend? Or is it fiendishly difficult in its complexity?

Well it’s none of those things, just a simple design in simple stitches on a simple pillowcase.

No bells. No whistles.

But if you look closely, intertwined with those threads is as much love as I could weave in.

Because this particular creation had a very important job to do; for one night this pillowcase needed to be my love, my snuggly hug, my kiss goodnight and bedtime prayer for my little boy.
IMG_4448
You see, we knew the date that Little Pumpkin would arrive and some lovely friends offered to have the Monkey stay over with them.

This was a massive blessing as it allowed the Monkey’s daddy to stay late at the hospital enjoying those first few precious hours being Little Pumpkin’s daddy too.

But I wanted the Monkey to know that he was still very much in our hearts that night and so I hatched a plan and got him to draw some pictures of his family. I then transferred and sewed his beautiful drawings onto a pillow case to take with him on his first night away from home.
IMG_4768
And when we dropped him off with our friends the Monkey walked in, proudly carrying his pillow, and carefully placing it on his bed before kissing us goodbye and running off to play.

As we drove to the hospital, I had tears in my eyes with pride at the beautiful brave boy we had and the brilliant big brother that he was about to become, comforted in the knowledge that he would still have his family with him as he rested his head on his pillow to go to sleep.

Stitching Memories

If you have children in your life at all, then you’ll have a sense of the breakneck speed that they grow up at.

Take Little Pumpkin, for example.

A month ago she had just turned one, still very much our little baby. All of a sudden she is cruising around her world with frankly terrifying, and dangerous, levels of confidence.

She puts phones to her ear and chatters “hiya”, blows kisses at cars driving past our house, waves goodnight as we carry her up the stairs to bed.

If there’s a good tune on the radio, the odds are that she will be wiggling away to it or clapping her hands.

I turn around and she’s crawled to a misplaced remote control and is sitting there pressing buttons while expectantly looking at the television.
IMG_4829
She just “gets” her world so much more. I can barely catch my breath.

And this pace of growth isn’t limited to the Pumpkin. The Monkey marches on with a year at a school having left him virtually unrecognisable from our little boy a summer ago.

If he isn’t reading away (a mixture of surprise and pride on his face as he decodes a juice carton) then he’s telling me about the life cycle of a frog (did you know that a young frog is called a “froglet”?) or working out the largest number that he can possibly imagine (currently a trillion and twenty three).

And his drawings contain a noticeable increase in skeletons.

But before all of this his world was much more limited to his family, his home and his back garden. Which probably explains the previous lack of skeletons.

And so I thought I’d share with you how I’ve recorded some of these pre-school drawings.

(The skeletons are a little more challenging to display).

I don’t know about you, but I’ve found that the amount of art produced can at times be overwhelming. Its so easy for these precious creations to fall behind the bookcase and lie there forgotten, gathering dust.

But these works of art can so often be a unique snapshot of a window into their minds,
their dreams,
the world as they see it.

And so a while ago I decided to record some of the Monkey’s drawings through very simple embroidery. In this case, on a cushion for the Monkey’s aunt.
IMG_4515
So here they are, a caterpillar, ladybird, urchin, and, my favourite, the snail.
IMG_4517
IMG_4527 3
IMG_4523
IMG_4525

The stitches aren’t fancy, just a mix of backstitch, whipped backstitch and chain stitch.

But I don’t think the stitches should be fancy – it’s all about the drawings rather than the sewing.

I’ll be back in a few days with part two of this post and a very special bit of sewing, probably my most important piece of sewing yet.

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.
Cushiontext
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).

IMG_4364

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.
IMG_4226
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.

IMG_4235

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.
IMG_4327
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!
IMG_4176
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!

Birthday Bunting

This is a higgledy piggledy post insofar as it is a post about an item that’s already had its debut on this blog.

But birthdays don’t wait. And this is bunting with a story…
IMG_3181

You see we bought this house many moons ago when I still had the Big Career and the Big Wage.

Since then we’ve had job changes, redundancies, and two new (and wonderful) people join our family. Most recently there’s been our decision for me to step out of the workplace for a while in order to focus on our family.

And so we’re no longer able to buy the lamp, chair or curtains that my heart might leap at in a shop window. But it’s my home, that we all return to, and I love it because of that.

So, a while ago, we were taking down the christmas decorations and in the midst of trying to squeeze everything back into the boxes they hibernate in, I looked down to discover the Monkey crying.

Now I can’t blame the Monkey, I love christmas and am sad to see it go, but this wasn’t like him and so we sat down to try to hear what was tugging at his soul so much.

It turns out it wasn’t the end of presents, or chocolates on tap, but putting away the decorations.

The house didn’t sparkle any more.

So we made a deal, the Monkey and I. We even shook on it, so this was a Serious Issue.

We’d not cry about the christmas decorations going away, but in return we’d work slowly but surely at putting the sparkle back in the house, at making it look the way it did in our hearts.

And we weren’t going to do it with the shop bought rugs, or internet-store cushions.

We were going to do it with love,
and fabric,
and thread,
and wool,
and paper
and our imaginations
and most of all our hearts.

It won’t be an overnight thing as it takes time to really stuff these things with love and memories but little by little we will make our house sparkle so we don’t have tears in January.

And so, I’ve started with plain old bunting. But it will become our birthday bunting, there whenever we come together to celebrate another year with a treasured family member. There in the backgrounds of photos of cakes being blown out or presents being opened.

And each time we unpack it, it will be that little more precious because we will be unpacking family memories.

So here it is monkeys, ninja racoons and owls all present and correct.
IMG_3187
And a smiley Monkey all of our own.

Trousers…

So it’s been a bit of a rough ride recently in the hoogally house.

A nasty tummy bug swept through our family hitting one of us at a time, just to really make its presence felt.

So we retreated and kept our heads down then slowly, one by one, we got back onto our feet and shook off the dust of the previous week.

But, onwards and upwards, turning our faces towards warmer weather and new beginnings.

Which, in the manner of a 1950’s television announcer, links back to my previous post which explained that I’d had somewhat of a pause in my craftings, but was filling this time with plotting and planning New Things.

Well my mind has indeed been beavering away and these beaverings have started to bear fruit in the form of a pair of simple trousers for the Little Pumpkin this summer.

For Little Pumpkin, when not laid low poorly, has a generous tummy.

A most adorable tummy.

Just perfect for blowing raspberries into, for kissing, for cuddling your arms tightly around.
IMG_2602
But not perfect for trousers with hard metal buttons, or tight leggings that draw her into a figure of eight.

And to be honest, I am a firm believer that a baby or toddler tummy should be celebrated, applauded and embraced.

Not constrained.

But it does make clothing a little tricky.

And so I can proudly reveal the first, of what I hope will be many, lovely elasticated rolling-around-and-having-cuddly-adventures type trousers.

I’m quite proud of them actually. My first piece of clothing for Little Pumpkin.
IMG_3034IMG_3036IMG_3032
They aren’t lined, because these trousers are intended for summer adventures. So they are a smidgen too long at present.

But not too long for a practice run…
IMG_3049
There are a few tweaks that I’d make to them next time.

But then I’m one of those annoying people who are never quite satisfied. Always fidgeting with a sense that if I just make this piece a shade wider and move that piece just a teeny bit to the left, that the world would be a better place.

But I digress. They work. And Little Pumpkin seems to like them.
IMG_3052
So just you wait…

There’s a sunny day in July, waiting for these trousers.

Little white clouds will skip across the sky carried by a light refreshing breeze. Birds will be chirping away, bike bells ringing from the street mingling with the sound of laughter. If you time it right and listen hard, I think that might be the sound of an ice cream van far off in the distance.

Little Pumpkin will be toddling a bit more confidently but her hands will still be in mine, at least now and then.

Maybe we will be playing in the sandpit in the garden making tracks in the sand, or maybe we will be at the park whooshing down slides.

Shall we meet you there? It’s going to be lovely…

World Book Day Costume…

So the Monkey, being Very Big Indeed (or so he says) is now in the throes of his first World Book Day at school.

Did I mention that he thinks I can make any costume he can dream up?

I thought I had.

Did I mention that he has a well fed imagination?!

Well it turns out that last term’s project at school of Jack and the Beanstalk really captured that wonderful imagination.

And so, without further ado I now reveal…..

The Beanstalk Costume!
IMG_2644

IMG_2652

It’s not quite as polished as I intended to be, I had a few more tweaks I’d have liked to have done, some tendrils on the trousers that sort of thing. Unfortunately our family has been in the grip of a nasty tummy bug, and indeed little pumpkin is still fighting her way out of it. So time has been very much at a premium.

I wanted bean pods but the Monkey was most insistent that there should be NO BEANS MUMMY!

And yes he knows that strictly it isn’t a “character” but he had set his heart upon it. And as a mother it is my privilege, for an all too brief time, to be in the business of making his dreams come true.
IMG_2657

He has asked every day this week “is it The Day yet?! Can I wear The Beanstalk?”.

Of these days are memories made.

Mending rips and tears…

So, take one five year old boy, add a non uniform day and mix with his favourite jeans.

Bake for about six hours.

What do you get?
IMG_2404

Yup – you guess it – ripped jeans and a five year old’s tears.

But this wasn’t quite the disaster it seems. A while ago on pinterest, images of monster themed patched up jeans were doing the rounds. I don’t know where these originated from, but if you do then let me know and I’ll give them credit for a fantastic idea.

Now it’s not as if I haven’t had a shortage of ripped trousers and jeans to try this on. On the contrary, there has been a painfully ready supply, but most of the rips have been far too extensive to patch up in this way.

Time was of the essence so that the Monkey could wake to mended jeans and so I took only a few photos.

And the result?
IMG_2454
IMG_2457

One happy monkey, all tears forgotten, and favourite jeans restored to his affection.

Well loved jeans.

I don’t know how long the mend will last as the Monkey is hard on the knees of his trousers, but for now all is well.

Follow

Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: