Friday, 10 July 2015

A New Direction

I thought it was about time I posted again, if for no other reason other than to put Wendy (The Quiet Room blog) out of her misery!! I told her recently in an email that I was changing direction slightly with my crafts, but didn't expand any further ……………. I hope I haven't excited her expectations too much, but here we go LOL

For several years, I've been following one particular blog; and browsing lots of Pinterest pictures of Mohair Bears. Initially, I decided they looked far too complicated for me to handle, however the more I looked into it, the more I thought perhaps I could do it! Having discovered a Mohair Bear Making Workshop about only an hour away from me, I decided this was the answer - so that's what I did about a month or so ago. And did I have a great day ……… well, yes I did; and here is the product - my very first, fully jointed Mohair Bear (Vintage style!)

I've named him Alfie after my granddad. You wouldn't believe 10 middle-aged ladies all sitting round at the end of the day saying "and what are you calling yours" ……… really funny!!!

Following the Workshop, I made this little Mohair Bear Westie Dog (no name yet!) – bought as a kit from eBay 

And I’ve just finished bear No. 3; similar to Alfie, except this one is two-tone …… and a girl – also no name yet! Don’t look too closely at the nose – that is a skill yet to be perfected! I need more practice 

The reason for the decision to have a go at bear making is that I’m going to have a go eventually at setting up my own small craft business, probably on Etsy. There's a decent market for Mohair Bears - not as toys for children, but for collectors; and if you can establish a good following, they sell well - a lot more than the rag dolls I've made in the past. This is something I'm going to work on over the next 2 - 3 years to become experienced at making them, find my own style and establish a business. The plan is to use it as a Pension supplement. I'm 55 now; and although I can retire at 60 on a full work's pension, I would have to continue part-time because of the mortgage. And the thought of that simply depresses the hell out of me - I feel so tired sometimes; and I hate all the travelling!! So now the plan is to make some extra money by doing what I love doing - sewing!! For about the last 10 years I've yearned to have my own craft business, but never believed it could become a reality (Pie in the sky I thought); but where there's a will, there's a way as they say ……. so watch this space!

Now you all know how kind bloggy friends are don’t you? A few weeks ago I was exchanging a few emails with Shazy, when the bears came into the discussion. It turned out that Shazy had considered bear making a few years ago and had bought various pieces of the Mohair fabric (not cheap I can tell you), cotter joints, ultra suede (for their paws) etc., however, as with many of us, some of our crafty ideas simply never become a reality because of shortness of time! So what has Shazy done? She gifted the whole lot to me on the grounds she would rather see it used that go to waste – how super kind is that – incredibly so in my book. I’ve already said so directly, but again, thank you so much Shazy xx

Anyway, I’ll end it here on a totally unrelated note as I’m still buzzing!! Last night, I went to see The Divine Miss M ….. Bette Midler here in Birmingham. What a show, what a woman - she was amazing I can tell you. The whole arena went crazy when she sang ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’ ….. WOW – Incredible!!

Until the next bear!!!

Monday, 22 June 2015

A pink velvet elephant - really?!!

And once again ………. it’s been a while, I know!!! I can’t even say I’ve been prolific, but I have a couple of things to show – in the velvet line, as mentioned in my last post, which was ages and ages ago! So, first of all meet Abigail

Yes, I know, a pink velvet elephant – well what else?? Abigail is from a pattern by Angela from PC Bangles (Etsy). I love baby elephants, don’t you, they’re so cute. Did anyone (in the UK) recently watch ‘Elephant Diaries’ on BBC2? I spent most of my time crying, laughing and cooing – it was lovely! 

Her cardigan is hand knitted by me …. the pattern was made up as I went along as I don’t happen to have a knitting pattern for a 7-inch elephant LOL. It’s not perfect, but I think Abi loves it; and it’s keeping her warm!! If anyone knows of any clothes knitting patterns for small toys, I’d be grateful for a link.

Did I mention how flippin’ difficult velvet is to sew with!!!! It frays constantly. In the end, I put some of that Fray Check around the edges, but I was covered all over with bits from where it was fraying – I think that’s because it’s a pile fabric rather than a woven fabric like cotton – the end result feels lovely though. All hand stitched too. That too is because of the pile – have you ever attempted to machine-sew velvet – it moves and contorts all over the place! So, pinning, tacking AND THEN hand-sewing is the only answer

Anyway, my other velvet finish is this heart scissor keep. 

This is from the Maggie Bonanomi book I bought not long ago – the one with the velvet green peapod pincushion (last post)! Again, all hand-stitched because of the movement of the velvet; and also because it has cardboard between the velvet and the cotton to keep it firm. 

The velvet is some I hand-dyed not so long ago and I was very pleased with this colour in particular – kind of a chocolatey brown and I managed to find some nice vintage style fabric that goes well with it from my stash. I hope you like this too!

So that’s it for now – I might be back a bit sooner, because I do have another couple of things to show (NOT velvet), but I’ll leave them for another day

Bye bye for now

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Peapod Pins

I just had to do a quick post to show the addition to my Peapod Pinkeep (see last post). Today I've been busy playing with Polymer Clay and made these little Peapod decorated pins to add to the Pinkeep ......... Peapod overload, or rather sweet - what do you think LOL. I had fun anyway !!

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Advice please!

I recently contacted David of ‘David’s Cottage Down The Hill’ blog, because the more I looked at his header picture, the more I loved the gorgeous green velvet peapod pinkeep – it’s so quirky. Probably one of those things you either love, or think very odd!! David kindly told me it was from Maggie Bonanomi’s book ‘Thistle Down Moon’. Anyhow I eventually managed to track the book down (had to send to America for it as usual, as this country just hasn’t really cottoned on to prim and the like yet – barely at any rate!!). What a lovely book!

This is the one in the book, but also check out David's version, which is really lovely!

The next thing I needed and couldn’t find over here either was the pea green cotton velvet – no surprise there then!! And I was just about to click ‘buy now’ on an American website when I actually put my brain into gear and set about searching for plain white cotton velvet in the UK that I could dye …………… another major task, googling and searching with little luck; sending for samples (no good – too heavy weight), when, again the old brain cranked up, and I thought “I’ll just go and try the ‘Fancy Silk Store’ near the market, before I resort to buying from abroad, and didn’t I just find a massive roll of plain white cotton velvet at only £6.99 a metre – how excited was I?!! So, out I came just a little later with 3 metres of the velvet (yes the pinkeep is only about 8 inches long!!! LOL) and several packets of different colour hand dyes. Well, what fun I’ve had dying the velvet all sorts of lovely colours and in particular, peapod green. It dyed so easily and feels beautifully soft – I was so chuffed with myself. And of course, saved myself a fortune by not ordering it from America!

So, back to the pinkeep itself! This is the first one I made up, with my own addition – the darker green leafy bit at the end made from wool fabric. The pinkeep is lined with ordinary cotton fabric and has 100% silk ribbon tied on the end, which I dyed with the velvet

I then made it a second time, but without the wool leafy bit; in other words, as it is in the book, although don’t you just love the tiny peapod antique brass charm I found and added with a green bead ………… and guess what? China for the antique brass charm!!

So ladies (and gents!), the advice I would like please is with or without the wool leafy bit at the end, because I simply can’t make up my mind. 

I shall really appreciate your advice.

And as for the rest of the coloured velvet?? I’ve since been and bought a bit more (4 metres LOL!!!) with more dyes, so I now have quite a stash of coloured velvet: well watch this space, because I’ve really fallen in love with it and have lots more ideas floating around in this head of mine!

Friday, 10 April 2015

Ta, daaaa!!!!

Is nearly 6 years to finish a quilt a very long time?????? Well, that’s how long it’s taken me to finish this one– my ‘Heart and Home’ quilt . It took me ages to find my original entry, but I did and it was 20th July 2009!! In my defence however, I didn’t actually work on it at all for about 4½ of those years, so it doesn’t sound so bad then eh? I picked it up again last year and finished the top by adding the last two borders (and appliqué corners) and then had it basted together in order to undertake the mammoth task …… why, oh why, to hand-quilt it – YES, hand-quilt. Totally nuts I know LOL Well, it's because I've loved the rustic, country charm look of hand-quilting ever since I saw one in a shop

I started the hand-quilting in February and made steady progress, but became determined before the Easter weekend to get it completely finished once and for all, particularly as I had banned myself (!!!) from starting anything else until the quilt was done – that’s why it’s taken me nearly 6 years though – constant distractions by making all sorts of other smaller things - rag dolls, lots of rag dolls!!!


Anyway done it is ….. PHEW!! And now adorning my bed. The hand-quilting isn’t very easy to see, but you can just about make it out

Oh, and don’t forget the label – always label your quilts they say, so I did – be kind though and don’t look too closely at the back of the stitching LOL

So, let me know what you think!

Monday, 16 March 2015

Mischief Me!!

The only trouble with having extended periods at home (as I did recently) is there’s more time to get up to mischief ……… otherwise known as ‘Retail Therapy’ !!! There I was ‘innocently’ watching ‘Create and Craft’ on TV when I found my fingers walking across this here keyboard and clicking the ‘Buy Me NOW!!!’ button – oh ‘eck, what have I bought now!! No, not fabric (this time), but definitely for my sewing room ………… this lovely ‘Forever Moments by Tonic’ handy unit. 
(colour's a bit bright - sorry about that!)

It comes flat-packed for you to assemble; the MDF is all cut out, glue provided as well as scrapbooking papers and rub-on transfers to decorate. It even comes with the Dies to die-cut the lovely drawer fronts. I only had to buy the antique brass handles as extras.

I’ve tried to give it an old, worn ‘Shabby Chic’ kind of look. 

I glued on some paper flowers and metal corner decorations, then added a bit of mica powder to the flowers. I lined the drawers and added transfers to the sides, back & top. 

And here's my favourite little corner – the mini cotton reels and scissors (a brass charm). 

I painted and varnished it and finished it off with a bit of antique gold gilt wax on the edges.

Mischievous eh, but fun to make and decorate! And now filled with bobbins, needles and all things nice!!

Thursday, 5 March 2015

A Hand-y Bag!

I’ve made this handy little bag for carrying around my stitching ‘bits n’ bobs’ when I’m on the move .......... this one in brown is for me!!

and this one is for my lovely bloggy friend, Wendy over at the ‘The Quiet Room’.

It was Wendy’s birthday recently, so I had made her a few things, although I admit I was a tad late sending her gifts ….. but I think she’s forgiven me though!!

I made Wendy’s with some of the beautiful ‘Field Notes’ fabric by the very talented ‘Blackbird Designs’ ladies – such gorgeous fabric. Whereas mine (above top) was a ‘cheap as chips’ fabric I picked up in the market a while ago …… quite cute though all the same I thought.

I’ve never sewn with PVC before (see pocket), so that was a challenge, and I haven’t put many zippers in before either, so it was a double whammy!! In all honesty, the brown one was a bit of a practice run before making the one for Wendy …. wanted to make sure I got it right you see, so I hope I did!!

A hand-y bag for when you’re on the move, and just have to take a bit of stitching along!!

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

A Giveaway at Linden Grove

Simone is hosting a Giveaway for her latest project, a ‘Mini Celebration Kit’, which contains a blank card, a little candle and a string of mini bunting. The idea being that you can carry it around with you (or perhaps keep it in your desk draw at work) for those emergency/forgotten!! situations when you realise you’ve missed a special event. So why not pop over to Simone’s blog at Linden Grove and enter for a chance to win!

Friday, 27 February 2015

The Sampler Book

I found such a lovely book today in a charity shop at the bargain price of just £1.00. It's full of photographs of beautiful old cross-stitch samplers; and not only that, but it also contains the charts for the patterns too should you wish to have a go at reproducing one yourself, although you have to choose your own threads. I’ll let the following photographs speak for themselves …………….

Beautiful eh!!