Monday, 23 April 2012

Charity shopping

I had a day off work today, so I booked in a charity shop visit with Rachael from Sew Ray Me. I've never really looked in a lot of charity shops before, but I'd heard so many stories on other blogs of other people's fantastic finds so it seemed like it was worth a shot! Rachael and I travelled to a local town, and we must have looked in 7 or 8 shops with varying success. I was mostly in the hunt for buttons, and luckily the shops didn't let me down!
Yummy buttons, and yummy prices!
Gratuitous button close-up!
I like shiny ones
I could have had lots more but I mostly restricted myself to buying bigger ones that I wanted to make more cuffs with, and also some smaller ones that I just couldn't resist. I got 64 buttons in total, for the princely sum of £6.50. Not a bad haul! I also got a few lovely blue/grey napkins, originally from Habitat that didn't look as though they had been used at all. I'm thinking I might try and embroider something on them...not sure what yet though! 

100% cotton, they have a lovely feel to them.

 Of course, it was the little 'uns who really did the best out of charity shop trawl. Izzy got loads of new books and a jigsaw. 

She is a huge fan of Wall-E and loves the wonderfully illustrated version I found today. It looks like it'll be the bedtime book for the next week or so! Rachael also got some fabric bits and pieces, so keep an eye on her blog for details!

I've actually finished a couple of little projects this week too! I was so excited about the fabric cuff that I made last week that I decided to try out an embroidered version. I roughly drew some flowers on some fabric grabbed from the stash and embroidered from there, and finished it up today. I really like it!
  
  
This button came from today's charity shop trawl! It's metal with what looks like blue enamel on top.
I'm really glad I finally found a use for this medium-weight pink fabric.
I also finished my tea-drinking dragon this week. I'm quite happy with him, but it's the first time I've really embroidered onto patterned fabric and it was a little scary, even if the pattern is simple polka dots. Still, I really like the outcome, even though I still can't get the colours of this to photograph right!
Well everyone drinks tea, right? RIGHT??
Here's the original sketch of the dragons head, in amongst some other strange things!
Perhaps more embroidered cuffs next week?

Jules

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Prolific week

To start with, I meant to report on my little giveaway mid-week but too much of my time has been taken up with sewing and stitching! WOW...I don't say that very often. Anyway, congratulations to Carly who won the giveaway! Lorna, I'm sending you a little something too to thank you for entering :) I'll message you both to get your details, and soon some little treats will be winging their way to you!

As my title suggests, I have actually got quite a lot done this week! On the embroidery front, an unexpected lunch trip to my local sewing shop meant I could pick up the blue thread I was needing to finish Big Stompy Fox, so here he is in all his knotty finished glory!
As soon as I finished that I flipped through my sketchbooks to find something else to inspire me. I found a sketch of a dragon head I liked, worked it up in my 'hoops' sketchpad, and a dragon drinking a cup of tea was born. Well, everyone likes tea right??? Sorry for the poor image, I just remembered to take this early evening as the light was starting to fade.
I do like his slightly concerned expression. Still have a bit of work to do to finish him, and possibly add some wording. Current thinking is either a line about dragons and tea, or a speech bubble with the following 'Destroy village...check, defeat knight...yep, buy milk....ah dang'. We'll see how it develops.

I also spent some time re-tidying my sewing space, which received a big tidy up feature in this post. Due to lack of use and a lot of dumping, it had become quite a mess again. Nothing too major, but quite a few piles had formed which needed sorted. In a few hours the desk was tidy, a fabric wash was on and I was at a bit of a loose end. So, I actually finished one of my works in progress! I was sick of looking at that little toy bed blanket I'd been meaning to finish for Izzy, so I grabbed it and it was done in about ten minutes! Disregarding the two rips I'd managed to inflict, I double folded the backing over to the front and simply topstitched it down. It's nasty, nasty, sewing, and it doesn't look pretty, but it got the job done. It fits the bed nicely and Izzy actually loves it, and uses it as a little lap blanket. Of course this use makes me think that I really should make her a full quilt, but I'll put aside that terrifying thought for now.
I even got the measurements right, it hangs just where I wanted it to. Hurrah!
Horrid stitching, but stitching COMPLETE
While tidying my stash, I came across some lovely medium weight fabric that I'd picked up on my last trip to Ikea. Over the last couple of days I'd been toying with the idea of making fabric cuffs or bracelets, so I cut out some of this fabric and just started sewing. Now, I have to say this 'grab it and sew' approach pretty much never works for me. I rush, I forget a crucial step or I just don't spend enough time on the design and I end up with a half-sewn ruined thing. This time however, I think the idea was simple enough that it actually worked first time and I created this neat little cuff with a button fastening. 
I can see a collection of these coming on...
The heavier fabric gives it a nice springy shape
The heavier fabric makes the double thickness sit well, and the shiny button adds a nice touch. I've been wearing it today and already my mind is full of embroidered cuffs...As ever...watch this crazy space!!!

Jules


{nifty button}

Sunday, 8 April 2012

The girl insists...

We had some sun this morning so we were able to enjoy a little bit of hunting for some treats out in the garden. Lucky we did as the wind and rain appeared with force in the afternoon!
We collected quite a lot of Easter art supplies
Of course she also found just a little bit of chocolate...
It seemed appropriate to have a piccie of my little girl at the start of this blog as I've been thinking about my girl and sewing quite a lot lately. I feel like I should be sewing and making lovely embroidered things for Isobel all the time only...well...I haven't really made her that many things at all. Don't get me wrong, I have made her some things, and I think about things I could make for her all the time, it's just...they don't often get completed. I'm not entirely sure why this is, but I can have a pretty good guess. Most of my available crafting time takes place on my train journeys, which really only lends itself to hand sewing: plus, my current passion (as you just might have noticed), is for embroidery, and in developing my own patterns. So I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm using my precious crafting time selfishly...for me. I've been thinking about this quite a lot lately, even feeling a little guilt about it, but you know what? I think that's just fine. We all only have so many hours in the day, and my sewing time is my me time, so I'm going to try and focus on the enjoyment I get from the process for a while, and not stress too much about what I actually produce.

However, that's not to say that my two passions of sewing and my little girl don't sometimes collide. We have been trying to add some more art and things to Izzy's room as she likes to spend more time there, so I thought surely the best thing to do is to combine my current passion and a desire to provide lovely handmade things for my daughter? Well luckily that's just what I've been able to do over the last week. I've been so inspired by pics I've seen of people showing a number of embroidery hoops all displayed together, that that's what I want to do for Izzy. I finally have two hoops completed for her, and almost ready to go on her wall. A little bit of ironing, snipping and some glueing and they are done!

This is the 'Big Stompy Fox' fox design that I showed you all the sketch for in this post. I deliberately choose colours I wouldn't normally go for when I started work on it, to take me out of my comfort zone. I must admit that once I'd stitched for a while I wasn't sure about the yellow and lilac, but after I added a couple of satin stitched flowers and lots of lots of french knots (they can save almost anything) it seemed to come together.The only annoying thing is that I ran out of the blue I used on the fox so I'll need to haul a scrap of thread into a shop to match and buy one skein to finish the tail and hindfoot *SIGH*.
I love the texture the knots and satin stitch brought into the design
She's also going to get the Priscilla Pirate from here and I'm hoping to finish another hoop for her this week so I have a nice group of three hoops to display on her wall. The other good thing about hoop embroidery art is I can replace the images with more appropriate ones as she gets older. Once I finish the designs for my Priscilla Pirate story hoops and I have all three together she can have those. I'm still working on the second one with the squid, and currently it's looking like I may switch to an octopus. I'm having a cephalopod quandry!

The girl is starting to take an interest in my sewing as well. She's old enough now to know that 'mummy is sewing', and that needles are sharp, and sometime she even brings me little bits of fabric I may have left lying around saying 'Mummy...I brought your sewing. You better tidy it with your sewing' while waggling an admonishing toddler finger at me (there is nothing more amusing, and nothing you have to take more seriously than being admonished by a toddler). sometimes when she sees me trying to grab a moment or two to sew she wants to do sewing herself. I bought her one of those packs of sewing cards, and she does enjoy doing this for a while. I can't wait until I can show her the real thing! I'd rather wait a few more years before I let her loose on my stash though!
It's not so much fun to tidy up though!

Jules

Sunday, 1 April 2012

A year already?

This post is a little late in coming, and it's silly as I have so much to talk about today!

The embroidery workshop I ran on the 21st went well and was so much fun! All the ladies were lovely and produced such lovely stitching! It was so funny to see everyone reluctant to stop their stitching on their animals to go back and learn a new stitch on their samplers, because they were so keen to get on and stitch, stitch stitch! This is how I feel all the time so to see this in others, some of whom have done little or no embroidery before made me feel all warm and gooey inside. Sharing something you love is so rewarding, I can't wait to do it again! Here are some pictures of the little packs I prepared and some pictures from the evening itself.
Look at those lovely boxes of floss! yum yum :) 
Everyone got a little bag with a hoop, needles in a needle case, and  a set of instructions to take away. 
Here's me assembling the needle cases from card, ribbon and felt on the train to work!
All complete!
Some of the lovely ladies who attended. Well done everyone!
Look how well they did! The embroideries are really starting to come to life here!
Also, over the weekend I was tidying bits and pieces on my blog when I noticed that the 24th of March was actually the first anniversary of my little blog! How odd to think that I've been blogging for a whole year!I think a year of blogging and serious crafting has taught me the following:
 
1.Blogging helps me create. This has big a big eye opener for me. I've always been a person who needs a deadline or serious external motivation to create and complete, and having this blog has certainly done this for me. In trying to do a weekly update, I always need something to talk about, so I need to make something to talk about. Certainly for the first half of the year I felt the blog was making me create. Now, a year in, this has changed, and I find when I sit down the blog I have lots and lots to talk about! For me anyway, blogging = motivation and inspiration, = more blogging = more motivation and inspiration etc. etc!

2.People are lovely. Generally, in blog and craft land, people really are lovely. I've had such lovely comments on this blog, and have now met so many people through crafting, blogging and craft fairs that I know if I need help or advice, there's someone friendly I can text or email. Thanks everyone!

3.I have discovered my true crafty love -  embroidery. When I started this blog, I was dipping my toes into the world of embroidery, while my main focus was on machine sewing. Slowly, embroidery started to creep more and more into my work, and the machine sewing became the bit I did to pull the embroidery together. Now, much of my time is spent with thread, needle and hoop, exploring stitches, colours and making my own designs. It is a wonderful feeling to have discovered something I am so passionate about, that still has so much to teach me, and so many avenues to explore. To think I have gone from trying out embroidery to teaching an embroidery workshop in a year is amazing! What will next year bring? 

Well, an anniversary or other blog celebration wouldn't be the same without a giveaway would it? I have a small but wonderful and much appreciated band of followers, and I would love to give a little something back. So if you leave a comment on this post you can win the following.
 
1. A lovely book called 'Super cute'. I picked up two of these recently, thinking one would be perfect for a giveaway. It's a cute little book full of adorable little sewing projects.
Love this cute cover! 
One of the cute projects you can make!
The book even comes with needles and ribbon!
2. Hedgehog pattern! One of my hedgehog patterns leftover from my workshop, already pre-marked on calico and ready to sew, and I'll throw in some floss too!
Sew the little fella above!
3. A little kitty keyring. Cute little cat who is dreaming of a belly full of fish! Nom!

To enter my little giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment! any comment will do, even 'GIVE ME THE BOOK!!!' is fine! Closing date for the giveaway is next Sunday the 8th of April. Woah...is it April already???....WOAH.
 
Jules