Saturday, 31 December 2016

Penguin Skirt

In October, I went on a course at my local shop, CallyCo, to learn how to make a skirt (in a day, with pockets!). It was a great day and I did end up with a lovely skirt (with pockets!!!!).

I was told to make another one fairly soon after so I didn't forget how to do it - well I had already fallen in love with some cord material in the shop that morning so thought it would be no issue.

Then work and Hallowe'en quilts got in the way!

When we went to Sheffield, we both bought some material - mine with penguins, his with crabs. Husband encouraged me to get the material and make it into a skirt (to be honest, it didn't take much persuasion!).

As you may have noticed, I have great ideas and then don't get enough time to execute them! I decided that I wanted to wear the skirt on non-uniform day on the last day of term because that would be fun!

Cue the Thursday before, me using the tables in work to cut out the material. I hate pinning and am really slow at it, so luckily my friend was there to speed up the process.

Fast forward to Sunday, and me coaxing myself to making the skirt (I had been poorly for the past couple of days, so my planned sewing time had been reduced).

This time, I made extra notes on the pattern as I re-deciphered what it meant. I was pleased that I had my first skirt to refer to, as it helped me make sense of the pattern.

My most pleasing moment was my zip - I got it lined up and sewn in in one go, without 'adult' supervision! Only the second zip I have ever installed, so pretty chuffed! It isn't supposed to be an invisible zip, which is why it can be seen a bit.

It took 4 hours, and is much better than my first attempt! It was also a great excuse to buy a very fluffy jumper....

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

A Lap Quilt Finish

Sorry to have not posted for a while - work got very busy in the run up to Christmas (exams to mark, reports to write, Christmas dinner for the kids to organise). However, even though work reduced my blogging, I still kept crafting!

My Hallowe'en themed lap quilt was finished with a week or so to spare before Christmas. I am really chuffed with how it worked out. I decided to go away from my usual quilting technique of stitch-in-the-ditch and did quilt lines either side of the sewn lines. The only issue was, there were a heck of a lot of ends to tuck in afterwards! It drove me slightly bonkers!!

Sister-in-law seems pleased with it, and it still successfully glows. All is good!

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Procrastination not Progress

I was doing well with my latest quilt, and now it's ground to a complete halt. Partly because I am procrastinating, but partly because it's exam season in work (cue 8 hours of marking on a Saturday!)

But I am up to the sewing together point - in fact, my rows are made and I have two attached to each other. Still not sure how I want to do the quilting, which may be why I'm procrastinating so much!

I'm also pretty chuffed with how lined up I got the diagonals - I only had to unpick one twice! The rest behaved themselves!

And, as always, I'm always a bit gutted by how much material is lost by seams and trimming. The Missouri Star video I was watching suggested that I make sure all the squares were the same size. Managed it eventually - it's scary how uneven my sewing actually is!

Monday, 31 October 2016

A Hallowe'en-y Start

A while ago (possibly a couple of years ago) I made the now sister-in-law a cushion from some spooky material. It's on this blog if you are interested - I would link but I'm not quite sure how to!

After making the cushion, I had most of the layer cake left, so decided that I would use what is left over to attempt to make a lap quilt for her. I'm being ambitious and trying to do it for Christmas. I have started before November, so I may have a chance!

I am using the design Alter Ego Quilt from Missouri Star Quilting Company (of course) as I didn't want to buy more fabric to fill in gaps and so on.

I also fell in love with some amazing backing and binding fabric on EBay (basically they became the backing and binding fabric after I fell in love with them!). I will post the shop name in my next post when I have dug it out again.

They glow in the dark and everything!!!!

Friday, 28 October 2016

Farmyard Finish and a Trip to Sheffield

I managed to finish my lovely farmyard quilt (lovely because of the material) on Tuesday evening. I say evening. More like Wednesday morning. I have developed a bad habit that results in me finishing quilts at 1 am because "there's only a little more to go" - I forget that the tidying up takes a fair while!

I tried out scrappy binding using some of the layer cake squares I had (lovely and flowery) to try and reduce the amount of material I buy and have left over. I did 2 and half inch pieces (width) which is what I usually do, but the binding ended up quite thin in places and I have a bit of a dodgy corner. May go up to 3 inches next time!

As always, the Missouri Star Quilting Company binding tutorial helped, and I managed to get it to fit perfectly, again. So thankful for their tutorials!!!

Little sister wasn't much help on her visit, but she did pick the backing fabric, and I must say it is a good choice! I also did my quilting with green thread; I stuck to my usual quilting in the ditch, but I'm proud of how neatly I did it, and how well it matches the backing fabric considering they were bought at different times and not matched. May be braver with thread choices next time (and with visible quilting!)

I have also spent the last 3 days in Sheffield, visiting family. My cousin took me and Husband on a long walk through all the forests and parks into the city centre; an absolutley beautiful walk, and it was so surreal being in such picturesque places that felt like rural areas of Wales we have grown up walking through, when actually we were in the centre of a city. We found a bear pit (with my cousins help) in the Botanic Gardens, and went to a lovely wool and fabric shop called Wool Baa; yea, we can't stay away from sewing, especially as my cousin is a big fan too!                                                                                                                                   

Sunday, 23 October 2016

FNSI - On a Sunday

My little sister has been visiting the last few days, so my FNSI got a little delayed. My flat is very small, so getting the sewing machine and ironing board out basically takes over the room (which unfortunately means I didn't get any help with pressing!).

I did get a little of my big cross-stitch done, but the main project was baby quilt number 6. Said baby has already arrived, and annoyingly I have had the material for a fair while (very typical of me). But I had cross-stitches to do, and I now have half term to enjoy sewing in.

I came across the material in my local store, Cally-Co. It was layer cake pieces, and definitely a set. So happy I found it!

I have decided to do a disappearing nine patch again, so started out cutting my 10 inch squares down to 5 inch squares. I then sewed these together, ready to cut it all into quarters again.

It was only a short sewing session, as our friend is now round for movie night, so I am back to the much less space consuming cross stitch!

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

A Tree-ific Completion (let me get away with it!)

So it is finished! Almost two months after the wedding, but it is finished! I even bubble wrapped it, paper wrapped it, wrote a card and posted it (which is a miracle for me as I am ridiculously bad at remembering to post things on the limited days I can reach a post office!)

The cross stitch went through many design changes, and I'm not entirely sure I'd like to design such a big one by myself ever again. But, I think it has turned out better than some things I imagine and then make so I'm pleased.

I even ironed this one! Although the middle crease would not go and I didn't want to wreck it!                          

No more cross-stitch gifts for a while - too much pressure for such a slow thing!

Friday, 14 October 2016

Tantalisingly Close!

So my prediction of having the cross stitch complete by the end of last weekend was wrong. I have all the stitching done, just need to do back stitching and some french knots (eurgh!).

Got some advice from my friend about what to back-stitch; sometimes I find I stare at it too long to be objective anymore! I think I'm going to go quite minimal, and get their names and date on it.

Annoyingly, I'm spending all day tomorrow with my science club at an event, so won't get chance to finish until Sunday. But I will post when I do!

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Of Rats and Trees

So this week I have been progressively falling ill in work, culminating in a day and a half off. Bleuch. But I was feeling better yesterday evening, so charged ahead with the current wip - the wedding cross stitch!

Last night, I sewed the final 4 rats. I then sent an image to family members to see what they thought they were - I got mice, squirrels and hamsters as a response! To be fair, these are all rodent-like, so I feel like I'm onto a winner! I don't think they'll look perfect, but once I add eyes and whiskers, they should be pretty much there. Doing well (I hope) considering there aren't many teeny rat cross-stitch patterns out there to work from!

With the rats successfully in, I had a tree to finish! I am basing it on something I found on Pinterest, but not copying it exactly because I feel that is wrong. I was going to be really risky and just sew and see what happens...that thought lasted all of 5 seconds before the graph paper and a sharp pencil were out and I was sketching out the rough design.

It's going to be slightly lop-sided, with a very long branch on one side, but trees aren't perfectly symmetrical, so I feel this is acceptable!


I feel another weekend and this will be ready to frame! And I will get it to the newlyweds less than 2 months after their wedding! Not bad for me and a crafting project! I shall keep you posted

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Crafternoon in aid of MIND

So over the summer, my friend Sophi invited me to an event she had organised in aid of the charity Mind (the mental health charity).

I eagerly signed up as I'm always happy to spend an afternoon sewing! So the actual Crafternoon event eventually rolled around last Sunday, and I headed there armed with my bag of cross-stitch and crochet. I didn't quite know what to expect - whether I just craft, or whether I have to teach to craft and so on.

I ended up teaching/guiding a fellow Crafternoon-er with a crochet pattern she was following. Even though I'm a teacher, I find it hard to teach crafts, so I was pleased we managed to muddle through it! She then got me knitting; this is one of the crafts I cannot do. I can't seem to make it sink into my head, or work with two needles! By the end of the 3 hours, I had done about 2 rows of knitting and 2 rows of pearling. I'm going to try again soon, to see if I can do it with no help on hand!

Some of the other crafty things we had going were:
- Paper folding (like weaving)
- Card making
- Origami
- Felt ornaments
- Whittling (a spoon got made)
- Looming

It was amazing to see so many different crafts, and so many people that really enjoy them! And I felt so good for spending an afternoon crafting - it really is good for the mind!

And to top it all off, we raised £160 for MIND - not bad work for spending an afternoon crafting!


Sunday, 18 September 2016

FNSI September - a developing work in progress

I was so excited for FNSI this month! Literally left work as soon as I finished teaching at 4:30 (give or take a little pep talk to our new teacher) and did all the house tasks I needed to do so I could settle down with my cross stitch.

As this is a design of my own, it does feel like it is developing more slowly than it would if I was following a proper pattern. On the actual night of FNSI, I only managed to do a little bit of work on the cross-stitch. Partly because I was going through a little trial and error (especially for the cream rat), and partly because I had a phone call interruption!

I think I will end up outlining them a little, but overall I'm pretty chuffed with them.On the whole they look rodent like! The brown and cream one took ages as the head wasn't sitting right with me once I'd sewn it, even though it looked fine on my pattern. Trying not to over-analyse it, otherwise I will probably end up unpicking him, again.

As is typical for me, I ended up sewing again on Saturday. It was grey and raining a little, and just perfect weather to curl up with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Extended Editions (oh yes) and just keep sewing. I made it through 4 movies, and made a bit more progress on the cross-stitch:

The beginnings of the entwined tree! Again, I keep developing it and deviating from the pattern a little, which is what is slowing me down!

I have been influenced by patterns I have come across on Pinterest, but I have made sure not to copy them, so overall it is pretty much my own. Fingers crossed one more weekend will get it finished!!

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Having A Go At Designing

So I have been back in work full time this week - no energy for sewing at all!
However, I have been working on a new cross-stitch design; actually designing it myself, which is a big challenge for me.

It has gone through several revisions, but I'm pretty pleased with what I'm heading towards. My best friend got married last Saturday (and I was a bridesmaid, which was rather special), and I decided that a hand-made gift would be nice. It's had to be delayed because I wanted to know colours and things from their wedding, and there were only so many questions I could ask her without spoiling the surprise for myself!

This is what I started with:

The rats are there because they absolutely love rats, and own six of them! Hoping to try and make their colours match the actual rats (but we shall see!).

They got married in a barn type building in Wales (hence the barn shape). The flowers up the side may be hydrangeas as they are some of their flowers. However, since going to the wedding, the design has evolved and changed again:

The newer design is on the right (over the top of the original design). Instead of the barn, I'm going with my initial gut feeling of a tree. They are really into trees; there is a particular tree they used to meet at when they were dating, and at the wedding the bridesmaids were given a beautiful bracelet with a tree, and all the guests were given tree saplings as favours. I have ditched the barn idea and am much happier. Her bouquet is just going to be a succulent, which is one of the flowers we had and which she absolutely loves. It really works in my head - I hope that can translate over to the actual thing!!!!

Sunday, 4 September 2016

We Learnt To Sew Pyjamas!

Before the summer, my favourite/local sewing shop CallyCo sent out a newsletter with sewing courses. I signed up to learn how to sew a skirt in a day (yet to do, but so excited!). Darren was disappointed that he wasn't signed up to do the same course as it seems he'd like to make me some clothes! As it was a moderate difficulty course, I checked the newsletter and found a beginner course - making pyjama bottoms.

Queue a Saturday morning in July, the pair of us clutching our chosen material outside the shop, waiting to be taken to the cellar to be taught to sew. 

We pinned patterns (turns out Darren is a whiz at doing this quickly and neatly), lined up the pattern if necessary (luckily it wasn't for mine, but Darren and a couple of other learners were getting slowed down by making sure their material patterns were neat!).

It was a fairly simple sew up the legs, which were folded in half so there would only be one seam. However, we had to do a zig-zag stitch to reduce frayed edges and so on (apparently an overlocker is good for this sort of thing). The zig-zag stitch drove me nuts; I get really frustrated if I can't do something right the first or perhaps second time of trying when it comes to sewing! I got there eventually, and even worked out where on the foot would be a good guide to ensure the zig-zagging was close enough to the edge, so hopefully next time it will be even better!!

The final challenge was to make two button holes to pull the drawstring through. Annoyingly I put them on the wrong flap, but they are hidden (thank goodness!!) - and it gave me more of a chance to work out exactly where they should be on the right flap. 

We both had to re-hem the bottom as we got a little tight for time and had rushed them and made some lumpy bumps (the class over-ran by an hour!), but overall we came out of a 4-5 hour class with some rather snazzy pajama bottoms!!

And the tutor and shop owner were both impressed that a husband and wife team want to learn to sew together!! 

Monday, 29 August 2016

A Hearty Finish

I'm pretty proud of this one! I finished it in time and even managed to frame it myself (although I'm pretty sure my technique needs improving!).

So as mentioned in previous posts, I have been working on a cross-stitch of the anatomy of a heart for my friend who has just completed her nursing degree (it's her second degree and she has worked her socks off for it!).

Luckily she finished a couple of weeks ago, meaning I could dedicate some of my summer holiday to working on it.

I love the labeling (almost didn't do it but so glad I did), and I wrote her name in glittery red thread - one day I will learn to stop doing any form of cross-stitch in glittery stuff! I've gotten better at it, but it is not as smooth as normal thread.

My framing technique needs improving - cardboard, industrial tape and some staples were involved (eek) but it worked quite nicely. Just kicking myself that I forgot to iron it first!

It went down really well, and Becca is really chuffed with it! I think I definitely managed an original gift.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

FNSI...more like weekend sew in!

A little late to post, but I have been side-tracked by the school term about to start and slight panic over my lack of lessons! (all but the younger years are set to go now, so feeling calmer!).

My choice fell on my Disney cross-stitch (especially after I received a Dad-joke from Dad, spurring me to try and get more done!)

This was it as I started - really hard to work out where I was after about a year of not doing it! But I worked it out in the end (after sellotaping my pattern before the holes got any worse!)

After a weekend of work, this is where I'm at now:

It always feels like a lot more than it looks! Added in more purple, dark brown (Belle, Beast and Cogsworth were started) and now on a pale green. Green is my nemesis but it must be done. The aida is 18 count and every single square in the pattern will be filled, so it will be slow progress. At the moment it's a game of 'spot the...'. Let me know if you spot anything familiar!

It will be crochet next FNSI. Maybe!

Stretchy Sewing Saturday

In January, myself and my friend, Hannah, signed up for a course at the local sewing shop - learning to sew with stretch fabric. I thought i...