Thursday, 26 May 2011

Illness and inspiration


As my title suggests, it's been a mixed bag of a week. Our little girl brought home a new cold virus from nursery last week, and though it's only affected her mildly, myself and the husbandbot have been floored by it so much we had to miss some work. Thankfully now it's on it's way out  although I still sound like a zombiefied version of myself. Not great for speaking to the public on the phone at work!

Still, I did manage to squeeze some creativity out of my tired body and stuffy head. The monster 'Aquatic apprentice 'made a few more steps towards completion. He's now sewn together and  stuffed. Now I need to make his little toy inflatable armbands and his cloak! Well he needs a little cloak for diving practice right? I like how he's working out so far, and the duck is pretty cute! Need to delve back into the monster notebook and select the next few to be brought to life!
He has a cheeky face...maybe it was a mistake letting him run loose in the kitchen!
On my worst ill day on Monday, I managed to have an idea, do a sketch, and complete the sewing on a little project all within half an hour! Unheard of! Illness must do strange things to me. I was starting to get bored in the afternoon so I dragged my sketchbook out of my bag as a little idea popped into my head. I think it was partly inspired by the wonderfull creations of Lilipopo...specifically this little baboushka style doll. My idea was to do some really simplified animals and use some nice, bright fabrics. So I hauled myself upstairs to my sewing machine and literally threw this little idea under the needle. Several times in my addled state I almost sewed the fabrics rightside to wrongside (I mean I had to re-lay and re-pin the fabrics  THREE times before I finally got it right), but out popped this cute little mouse! 
I think more animals may follow!
To help  while away the illness I was lucky to receive an book order I'd been waiting on, and this lovely book fell into my lap. It's called Home-made Vintage by Christina Strutt. The pictures are lovely, and seeing some of the home shots with these lovely hand-made items in just made me sigh and close my eyes with a smile. Sooooo nice and helped me relax with my stuffy nose! Here are a few pics that really caught my eye!
Ooooo Pretty cover...
*Sigh* One day my house will be restful and organised like this...
Is it wrong to post a Chirtsmassy shot in May? I don't care, I love red and white Christmas themes
I'd LOVE to add embellishments to a vintage jacket!
And also...you can guess how excited I was when an envelope arrived through the door this morning containing my label order. Here's a sneak preview for you all. They look fab! Thanks so much Fiona at CrafterHOME for getting these out to me so quick. I can't wait to use them!
I almost can't bear to take them out of the packet!
Hopefully next week will bring more creativity, and less illness!

Friday, 20 May 2011

Sewing day

It ended up being a sewing afternoon really but still...I had the afternoon to sew on Wednesday as planned and sew I did! I finished a few projects and have a few more in progress, but it felt good to really spend time at my machine. 
Here's a snap of the sewing area mid afternoon!
Mind you, I think I sometimes forget how relatively LONG things take to sew. There's understanding the pattern or tutorial or idea, then measuring and cutting (can I admit that I really don't like this stage? Probably because this is where I make most of my mistakes), then finally the sewing. I think what I'm trying to say is that I'm currently going through a stage where my imagination and ideas are way outstripping my technical skills. It's really frustrating, but I know that more time at the machine and more practice is what I need. Has anyone else felt like this? Where a simple idea is difficult to realise in practice? Still, I pushed through, I learned how to do a few new things (like 3D square corners), and I finished a few nice little things. Hooray for sewing days!

To start the day, I headed to one of the two fabric shops in a nearby town (this was after I painted the front door...chores/DIY had to figure in there somewhere...right?). I even had some vouchers to spend in the shop, extra squeal! Here you can see some of my purchases...oh and I may have also treated myself to tea and cake. Well technically I was on holiday right?
Finally got a nice quilters square - hooray for right angles!
I mostly picked up some essential supplies like fusible interfacing and some elastic, but I also picked up a bunch of cheap zips, some cute little metal key embellishments and some cute little 'handmade' embellishments. I can't wait to use them! 
Maybe a monster with a secret?
I love these little hands!
So, here's what I managed to complete today. I whipped up a quick oilcloth bag from a great tutorial at Design*Sponge. I love it! It now lives on the island in the kitchen where it has already gathered and tidied some letters and papers. Now there is no excuse for mounds of papers and catalogues sliding onto the floor! The oilcloth also means it stays nice and stiff, and the tissue paper tip from the tutorial worked great. Maybe I don't need to buy a teflon foot after all!
I also finished one of my monsters. 'Big Hearted Bertha' is now stitched, partially stuffed and almost complete. I also found a simple patchwork thin blanket that I'd been making years ago, quickly added some stitching across the squares and this is ready for my daughter to play with tomorrow. Now just to finish those partially complete projects and I think my day of sewing was quite successful!
Here's Bertha in her almost complete state!
I also completed my new logo for the custom labels I want for my projects. Here it is! Simple, but hopefully effective! I'll let you know what they look like once they arrive! So exciting!
Next weeks plans: Finish 'Aquatic apprentice' and set up some sashiko hand embroidery for the train (I have some lovely plain linen placemats I'd love to embellish)

Friday, 13 May 2011

Monsters, monsters!

As promised last week, I started work on some monsters again.


To get you in the mood for monsters, here are some monster pages from my sketchbook. I have loads of designs just waiting to be made, and I'm really excited to be working on them again. I love working on their individual details and there is loads of handsewing work I can do on the train too!


The first thing I did was to finally make a decent pattern piece. I'd been using a paper pattern for so long it was getting ragged and it was the only version, so I decided to cut one out of nice, crisp vinyl. Much easier to draw around! Here's the new vinyl one, it's transparent apart from the one piece made of graphed vinyl, so you can just about see it on top of the paper piece. 
Currently in progress, two monsters, one called 'Aquatic apprentice' and the other is called 'Big-hearted Bertha'. I love coming up with the names as much as the looks! I always have a general idea or drawing to follow when I start, but when it gets to the details I love going 'freestyle' and just letting the stitches go where they will. There's something almost therapeutic about it, and certainly my train trips pass in a blur!
Bertha is in the middle of the sketch there, surrounded by a few other things I must try. A stamp with ric rac edging! Will definitely try that!
Here's Bertha herself, roughly cut out but with her details all done. She only needs to be sewn, trimmed and stuffed and she's ready to go!
Here's a detail of her stitching. I love adding layers of stitching, so much so that sometimes I don't know when to stop...though I think I got it right this time.
On the centre left there you can see a sketch for Aquatic Apprentice, and here is is little ducky motif in progress...
I'm adding extra stitching to give him some texture.


I'm also quite close to opening a little Folksy shop of my own but I still have a few things to work on. Next to tackle is my fabric labels to go on the things I make. This picture shows how the design is going, and what did I pick to feature as a little logo? A monster of course! Hopefully I'll finalise the design this week. It'll be great to personalise my creations with little 'awkward niche' labels.
It's a work in progress but hopefully a fully fledged design will emerge!


I am also very excited about next week. I've booked a day off work for me. JUST ME. Husbandbot working, little girl at nursery, and myself and the sewing machine alone...together...at last! I have a heap of things requiring machine sewing so hopefully next week I'll have a load of finished projects! Here's hoping I don't get distracted by housework or anything silly like that! I might even take myself off to a fabric shop for a look around. Imagine that...no small child grabbing everything dangerous in sight and no husbandbot hanging around looking bored! I can't wait! Expect a very excited post next week!

Saturday, 7 May 2011

View from my train window

Since I started this blog I realise I've mostly talked about the handsewing I've done on the train to work. I fully intended this blog to be full of wonderful things I'd sewed with my machine, but I've been busy with so many different things at the moment that getting machine time has been rare and brief. So my train sewing has become my main sewing for now, and you know I really don't mind. I've really enjoyed using my half-hour journeys in such a fulfilling and useful way. As I was whizzing to work this past week I thought I'd take a few photos of the views to show you all. Luckily the carriage was quite empty so no-one gave me any strange looks!
I managed to work away on quite a few things on the train this week. I've decided to team up the bear I made a few weeks ago with some lettering and make a bag or fabric basket to store all of my daughters farm animals in. She only has a few animals at the moment, but she loves them so much I'm sure we'll be adding to her collection on her birthday in a few months. I also used up a lot of the scraps I received from my friend Rachael at Sew Ray Me as part of our last scrap swap which was also very satisfying. I really like how they turned out and I think they'll go well with the bear. Now I just need to decide whether to make a bag or basket...
Planning the order of the scraps.
I finished my lettering with a train journey to spare so I also busted out this sweet little fox with some spare scraps! He would look so cute on a pocket or maybe even a phone or gadget case. Watch this space!
I also bought a new stainless steel water bottle and decided to quickly whip up a little tether for it. With my machine no less! I added a loop at one end and a clip at the other. I sped this through the machine, and its already in use! My daughter loves drinking from this bottle so no doubt I'll find it tethered all over the house!


Next week...back to some monsters! It has been too long!