I would like to wish everyone who drops by this blog a Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2018.
Instead of a plant themed Christmas greeting I am sharing with you my Christmas sewing and craft projects this year. I have really embraced my love of sewing and embroidery this year and made some lovely new friends through it. Apologies for the poor quality photos, they are from my Instagram account and have lost something in quality in the transition to the blog.
The top photo shows a wall-hanging I have made this year. The centre is embroidered in red work and has a quilted border. It’s only my second wall-hanging so I am pleased with the outcome.
The cushion was designed and made for my Embroiderers Guild Christmas competition. The theme was ‘stars’ and I was thrilled to claim second place against tough competition. You can see the other entries on our Facebook page (see 16th December). I have to say though that sewing on white felt wasn’t the best idea and I learnt that I’m not very good at repetitive things.
My final project is a ribbon wreath. It was very easy to make just involved a lot of ribbon cutting and tying – simple but effective
I hope you enjoyed seeing something different to my usual plant themed photos. If you are interested in my handicrafts I share them on my Instagram account and maybe I will share some more on the blog in the New Year.
It is cold and foggy today, not a day for gardening at all which is good as I need to rest my arm having strained some previously injured tendons a couple of weeks back when I was planted the sorbus in the front garden. I have had two weeks of pain, lots of painkillers, heat pads, and even ultra sound treatment and things are slowly healing. However, resting doesn’t mean just sitting as if I sit too long in an upright position my arm hurts – I need to keep it moving but not do any heavy lifting or daft manoeuvres as I would when I garden. Even embroidering in the evening causes pain at the moment which isn’t frustrating as I’m not very good at doing nothing.
Today I found myself with time on my hands. I thought about reading, more, but I was too restless for that. I needed to do something creative, something that would exercise my mind and to have something to show for my efforts. So I decided to tackle a job I have said I will do for a least a year and make a cover for my ancient Elna sewing machine. I had thought about doing some sort of scrappy patchwork but when I found those two pieces of material in my fabric scraps I knew I wanted to do something simple.
Since last summer I have been slowly converting the spare room into a sewing room. It has been painted white and I have made some multi-coloured spotty curtains so the spotty fabric for the cover will fit in well. I want the room to be colourful and bold as opposed to having a sophisticated subtle colour palette.
Anyway, having done some measuring I cut a template out of some leftover wallpaper, cut out the material and in the matter of an hour had stitched it all together. I went for a very simple approach – two sides and one long strip over the top. The only tricky bit was stitching the corners but they worked out well.
I am pleased with the result but I am more pleased that I have just got on and tackled a project without a pattern or any instructions and making it up as I went along. One of my aspirations for this year is to gain some confidence in making my own clothes. I used to be confident about this in my late teens but for a whole host of reasons I worry about fitting the garments, whether the finished garment will suit me, and whether I will feel confident wearing it so I end up talking myself out of things. I love clothes and like having items that are just a little bit different so I need to get a grip and tackle this in the meantime at least my sewing machine will be tidy!
I’ve mentioned from time to time my new past-time of embroidery and I mentioned a few posts ago that I was working on a cross stitch that my sons had bought me for Christmas. I thought I would share with you my progress to date. I’m fairly pleased although I might re-do the outline of the bird’s tail again but then I could be being a little fussy as this is but a small part of the overall design.
It should keep me quiet for some time. Whilst I was intent this time last year on learning new embroidery techniques I find that of a weekday evening tackling something challenging with thread is not the best recipe for relaxing whereas cross-stitch is fairly simple. Also the cross stitch is building my confidence and sewing is becoming a habit in the evenings which is very relaxing and I find better than faffing around on the internet which I have wasted far too much of my life doing in recent years. As sewing starts to become a norm in my life and horticulture is becoming a less all consuming passion I am starting to feel more balanced which I think must be a good thing!
I am rather pleased with myself for having finished my Christmas sewing projects before Christmas. I did think I was being somewhat optimistic at one point especially when I got distracted for a few weeks with knitting a poncho. I wasn’t too ambitious but I wanted something festive and simple which I could occupy my hands with in the evening without having to concentrate too much. I am really pleased with the little bird photo, he looks like some form of Blue Tit but is actually an American Chickadee, so pretty.
I’ve also done three cards for my nearest and dearest. Seeing them in the photo I realise that I really should have ironed them before mounting them – opps! They are now under a pile of books to try to flatten the fabric but I am sure they will be fine and the creases won’t be so obvious when they are stood up.
Now they are done I can go back to knitting the poncho….
This week’s Daily Post’s photo challenge theme is “Careful.”
‘Careful’ makes me think of small things. We are careful with babies, small children, delicate ornaments for fear of injuring them. “But what am I careful with I wondered” and more importantly I added “that I can illustrate with a photo”. Fiddly things come to mind, things I have to focus on – so sowing seeds and embroidery. “Easy” I thought “I’ll take a photo of my current embroidery project”.
Foolish me, it’s not easy to take a photo of yourself sewing; not unless you have someone else to take the photo or you can set the camera up on a stand. How do you focus the camera on your own hand when you have to hold the camera? Impossible. So I have ended up with a photograph of my embroidery without my hand doing careful sewing. It is a careful occupation and the photograph was taken carefully – so I have doubly completed the challenge!
I haven’t posted about my crafty exploits for a while so I thought an update was due. Having completed the Sheep Pincushion I had started on a beaded scissor case from the same supplier but it was all rather fiddly and for some reason I had fallen out of love with it. I was in that horrid place where you think I really ought to get on with that and then go off finding other things to do.
Anyway, a few weeks back the latest edition of The Stitch magazine plopped through the letter box and I was instantly drawn to the sampler pattern featured in it. It was exactly what I needed – simple and straight forward. Lots of repetition and not on so small a scale (like the scissor case) that I was thinking I needed to get a magnify glass to supplement my glasses.
I ordered the material choosing to go for the colours shown in the magazine as they appealed to me and I wanted to try out the tonal threads. I am sure I have enough embroidery silks stashed away to use up left overs but I was really after a no-think project. This might sound strange but work is so demanding at the moment that I come home with my head spinning and in need of peace and quiet in the evenings with no more information or thinking coming my way. I am even too tired to really engage in social media aside from keeping the blog going. Sitting watching a drama on television while I stitch a repetitive row is just my level at the moment and it is surprisingly relaxing and rewarding.
The perfectionist in me twitches at the photo above as the stitches aren’t spot on but I then remind myself that this is its charm. An added bonus was that I have already learnt two new stitches – fern and chevron. There’s a way to go yet and maybe when I have finished it I might feel inclined to finish the scissor holder (or maybe I will just put that away for the foreseeable future!).
They weren’t hard to make and the instructions are pretty straight forward. The reason they have taken me so long is because I think there are more hours in the day than there are and that I have realised that whilst I used to like dress-making when I was about 18 it doesn’t inspire me like it used to. Back then I was living at home and it was before we had our own televisions in our rooms or computers so if I didn’t want to watch whatever programme Mum and Dad were watching I used to occupy myself with sewing. Nowadays I need to keep my hands busy as I have a bad habit of chewing my fingers but I want something I can do while I am relaxing and watching the television – dress-making isn’t it.
Anyway, over the last two afternoons I have set to and finished the PJ bottoms. I decided I had to finish them before I was allowed to start any other projects so this motivated me. I had done all the hard bit with the fly and seams so all that was left was to make the waistband, thread the elastic through and then hem the legs. We did laugh when I tried them on as they were so very long. I had to cut off 10cms before I could hem them which turned out to be the most stressful part of the whole make as I was terrified of cutting them too short or even cutting one twice!! As you can see from the photograph above I can’t even tie a bow properly!
I am rather pleased with my neat sewing around the hems with two lines almost running parallel. I think I might even get some good comments for my sewing if I was to show them to May Martin on the Great British Sewing Bee.
Anyway, they are finished now and are very comfortable indeed. However, I don’t think I will be doing much more dressmaking for the time being and will return to my crochet and tapestry.
I have been reading lots of sewing blogs lately in a bid to find advice and inspiration to dip my toe back into the world of sewing. I set my mind to making my sons some PJ bottoms inspired by the Great British Sewing Bee book but I soon discovered from the sewing virtual world that there was some sort of issue with the pattern aside from the fact that you had to download it and stick 30 pages together – not the best start for a nervous sewer.
Anyway, coincidentally I discovered on one of my favourite sewing blogs Did You Make That that there was a new PJ bottom pattern coming out and lots of sewing bloggers were going to join in making PJ bottoms and blogging about them. That does sound rather dull when you write it down but I was quite excited about it. Of course the pattern is for ladies PJ bottoms so the boys’ PJ bottoms have been put on hold. I bought the pattern from The Village Haberdashery and then spent ages trawling on-line fabric stores for some nice material. Dithering doesn’t begin to describe my behaviour. There are two significant problems for me when it comes to buying material. Firstly there is no dressmaking fabric store near me. Lauren from Great British Sewing Bee has just opened a store in Birmingham which I might check out when I am feeling more confident but it is a good hours drive each way. The second problem is that the focus of many online stores is patchwork. They sell the material in quarters as in a quarter of a metre and this can make it quite expensive if you want to buy a couple of metres. However, there is a great list of fabric stores on Very Berry Handmade and through this I found Croft Mill who had an extensive selection at reasonable prices. I think I have a real issue with the price of material – I certainly would never pay the price I have paid for this material for a pair of PJ bottoms in a store but then I suppose you have to remember they will be handmade and a one off. I really liked Croft Mill as if you order thread from them they will match it to your fabric which I think is a great service.
I have got as far as cutting out the pattern and now I am trying to pluck up the courage to pin it to the fabric and cut it out. I dread that first cut just in case I have pinned it out wrong. I have decided not to add the piping down the side of the trousers as this may be a step too far for me at the moment.
In the meantime, I have spotted some other patterns that I like the look of and I am completely fascinated with Three Dresses Project swimalong where she is blogging about sewing swimming costumes – how adventurous.
Meanwhile, I have nearly finished my Tea Party Cardigan which I am knitting with wool from a project that went disastrously wrong last year and left me vowing never to knit again. This cardi is knitting up well so far. I have found Ravelry really helpful in finding an alternative pattern for the wool and lots of other advice.
I used to do loads of dressmaking about 25 years ago and I want to start making clothes again but I need to find my confidence. Back in the day I was a standard skinny 10 so dressmaking was easy now I am not so skinny and certainly not standard or a size 10 so more challenging. However, the advantage of making your own clothes is that you should be able to get a good fit but then again to do that you need to have an idea of what you are doing and I have forgotten more about dressmaking than I can remember. Anyway, having made a simple top a couple of months ago and some dolls clothes I decided that I was brave enough to make a summer skirt for my holiday.
The observant amongst you will be thinking hang on didn’t she go away the other week and you would be correct. I bought the material and pattern in plenty of time but then I wasted many hours worrying about getting the pattern to fit properly. I attempted to measure myself and the pattern indicated I was between a medium and extra large. This made not sense as even I know I’m not that large but it also sent me into a flat spin about how to get the skirt to fit especially as I had bought reasonably expensive fabric. In the end I cut out the medium pieces from an old sheet and tacked it together and decided that it fitted fine and I really needed a lesson in how to measure myself properly. By this time there was no time left before we went on holiday to make the skirt and it has taken until now for me to get my courage back.
Anyway, today was forecast to be a wet day so I decided before I went to bed that today would be a sewing day and I would try to get the skirt made. The pattern itself was fairly simple – Kwik Sew 3951. The material I bought from Gone to Earth and they are both Joel Dewberry designs.
Once I had cut the pattern out the skirt sewed up really quickly. It is a simple wrap skirt with two buttons securing it at the top. The hardest part was trying to remember how to do buttonholes on my sewing machine – it took about 6 attempts before I had managed to succeed with a practice one.
I am quite pleased with it, though I wonder if I should have lengthened it but we shall see. I think it will look quite nice with a black or navy top and navy sandles. Hopefully the weather will now improve and we will have an Indian summer so I can brave wearing my creation to work!