Monday, 3 September 2012

They've been framed! At long last...

Anyone that has been in my home knows I have a weird number of frames hanging on walls with stock shots of strangers or blank paper in them...I find a frame, I know exactly where it will go, so I hang it and I think, I must put a photo in that. And then I don't do it for a year! 

Anyway, over the last few days I've managed to correct the situation. I've thrown out the strangers and put in MY people!

My best framing victory has got to be this Ikea frame 1m tall by 70cm wide. I had loads of Instagram pictures from this summer printed 5x5 and found it very hard to choose which ones to include but pleased with the result.

My bathroom frames are also filled!

And after a mere 6 years of marriage...I've finally put some wedding pictures up! and of course, my two gorgeous boys taken by my talented photographer Cousin, Alex Watts in her studio: Willow and Pea Portraits

Right, next project awaits, no rest for the crafty...

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Rocking again this summer...

Nope, I didn't manage a single festival this year but I did find some pretty cool rocks and stones this summer. That's Zac and I at Burgh Island picking out some lovely flat slatey stones...

I have also found some fantastic pens which have opened up another world of rock related crafts to me! I could barely contain my excitement about these pens and having been telling everyone I meet about them...

The pens are called Posca by Uni and I got them from my local craft shop Creative Crafts.

There was a choice of pens and I went for these bullet tip, fine line, permanent pens. They are great for the kids as mine are a bit too young for effective stone painting...although they are permanent so watch out for that! If you want them shiny use Mod Podge or watered down PVA to protect your art!

Other ideas for these brilliant pens...
  • You could add some googly eyes and make them into pets.
  • We made some noughts and crosses stones which can be left in the garden - you can make the grid out of sticks. 
  • Apparently they also write well on wellies, so personalising some cheap supermarket wellies could be good fun. 
  • I also tried these pens on glass and they worked really well although would eventually come off something that was being used a lot and washed up. Excellent for making jars into tea light holders though. We'll be getting some spooky colours out and making some for Halloween no doubt about it.
  • Mary's idea was to find enough flatish stones and write people names to use as place markers at the table.
  • I just love the thought of bringing a few stones home from your holidays and writing where and when they were from on the back or the front.
Have you got any good ideas for these pens?

Nix :)

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Deck Chair Do Up

Picked up this beaut at the dump for five quid...Needed a clean up, some Briwax and some funky Ikea fabric to replace the original, saggy, dirty fabric.

Not too shabby, if I say so myself!  Although, perhaps I could have spent a little longer at the ironing board (bored!).  Nothing that won't stretch out with a little wear!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Boys & Boats

When I was little I used to make these all the time but I had forgotten about them until the other day.  The boys really enjoyed finding the best leaves for the job and watching them float or sink.  It's so easy to do.
You need: 1 cork, 1 sharp knife, 1 cocktail stick, 1 penny and a leaf or piece of paper.
Just cut the cork in half.
Make a slit down it's curved edge to hold the ballast (penny) and a tiny slit on the flat edge to put the cocktail stick in.
Then find a leaf and stick it on. If the boats keep sinking try a lighter leaf or dry the one you had if it floated originally.
You could also use pretty paper, fabric, ribbon etc but what I like about this is that if you are out camping, chances are you'd have everything to make this (you can use a small stick instead of a cocktail stick) and the kids just love that you can make it from the things all around you that they have found.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Dolly Quilt Tutorial

I made a New Year's resolution to myself to try and make more birthday presents this year.  I am not doing too badly, which is partly why I haven't managed to blog very much...

For Margot and Kate - both recently 3 years old, I made dolly blankets.

For Margot I crocheted a granny square blanket and made a small patchwork quilt and pillow.
The crochet blanket was a single granny square made really big (12 rounds) and then finished off with a row of double crochet all the way around.  I alternated the colours every two rounds. 

See Pip's blog for how to make a Granny Square.

Then I made this mini patchwork quilt...

To make quilt measuring 13" by 17" you'll need:
20 mixed 3.5" squares
1 piece backing fabric 14" x 18"
1 piece wadding/batting 14" x 18"
Thread, scissors etc

First cut out your squares.  It's easier to cut with a roller if you layer the squares rather than cut single layers of fabric.  The blade works better and it's also quicker.  I used a bought plastic square (er...not sure what the official name for that is) but a piece of stiff cardboard works just as well.

Lay out the pattern however you like it - I find it quite useful to take a picture here so that you can refer back to it as once you start picking up squares to sew together it can get a bit confusing.

A very useful tip from my sewing teacher is to use masking tape or something similar on your machine to keep you straight.  She was showing it to someone making curtains but I have used it permanently since and it has really helped keep me on the straight and narrow.

Take the first and second squares and lay them front side to front side facing and sew with a 1cm seam along one side (so your tape should be 1cm out).  Now open it out and lay the third square on the second square and repeat - you are making a column.  Refer to your photo if you are getting muddled.

Do this for all columns and press seams flat. Usually with quilting seams are pressed to one side but I want this to sit completely flat.  Plus it's doesn't need the extra strength that pressing to one side gives.

Lay two columns together RSF (right sides facing) and making sure all the square joins are as close to matching as possible, sew with a 1cm seam all the way down to the bottom.  Then join the rest of the columns in the same way. 

Press all your seams flat and iron the front side too.  Now trim your backing fabric and your batting to match this size.

The next thing I did for ease (and because it is just a dolls blanket!) is quilt the batting to the patchwork.  Lay the batting on the back of the patchwork and slowly follow the squares either across or down (or both). 

Now lay this patchwork with it's attached batting face down on top of the backing fabric facing up (so RSF).

 Tidy up the edges.

Then sew around all edges with 1cm seam leaving a 10cm gap in one edge.  In this picture I have rolled the quilt to make it easier for me to keep straight (I have a tendency for slightly wonky sewing).

Trim the corners.

Turn out through the hole.

Press the seams on the opening so that you can stitch up that hole as you top stitch all the way around.

Et voila, one satisfied customer!

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Two dresses

I made these two dresses this summer and I'm really pleased with them, although not that happy with the summer itself but let's not go there!  They are lined at the top with hidden zips.  The top has darts and the skirt is gathered.  The pictures are a bit rubbish and slightly  embarrassing but my friends in NZ and Aus will want to see them so it had to be done.

I made the pattern and the first dress at my good friend Wendy's sewing school in Winchester, Bobbin.  I took the Day Dress class and it was such a fantastic two days.  The teacher helped me copy an existing style of dress that I already owned and then improved the fit for me.  Amazing tuition and such a lovely relaxed, friendly environment.  I was taught about how to take my own measurements, I cut out the pattern and put the whole dress together.  I even managed to cut out the second stripy, sleeveless version of the dress.  This I sewed together at my monthly sewing group with some instruction from the talented May Martin.  This time I took it a bit slower and took lots of notes with each step so that (hopefully) now, I can knock up my winter versions in needlecord by myself.  All in all, each dress took about 12 hours and 2.5m of outer fabric 1m lining fabric, so still quite an investment but great if you have found a style of dress that you like to wear.

Bobbin and the artists who have space in the Brassey Road studios are having two open days this weekend if you fancy popping in and having a chat about the courses. There is something for everyone. Guaranteed!
I'll be there Friday, maybe see you there! Nix

Monday, 25 June 2012

I did the photography for this!

I am not a photographer but I do have quite a lovely camera (thanks Mum!) so when Thea asked for a bit of help photographing some of her lovely prints for her website I thought, why not give it a go...

Here is Thea's new website and all her lovely 'Busy Being...' prints...oh, and my photography!

Ben 10 Craft

Being a Mum of two boys I always pleased when I think of something that I can make for them.  Yesterday my youngest son was wearing a Ben 10 watch that he had made from playdough.  It was very sweet how much he loved this watch...but slightly annoying as it kept falling off and I know it sounds a bit OCD but wearing playdough and carpets and sofas...So no...I said I would make him one when I got home that he could wear all the time and so I did.  Here it is.

I found a picture on the web (see below) and used it to design this felt version. I measured the boys wrists and went for 18cm. I cut out the shapes by hand and then sewed them together through all the layers finally adding some velcro.  The boys loved them.  So a happy household this morning.

Thanks, Nix x

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Blinds and blankets...

This week I finished two time consuming projects...first blinds!

I have to admit that the extra time taken measuring, re-measuring, tacking everything in sight and taking it slowly did pay off. They went up and I've had to make no adjustments. I'm really pleased with how they look. Hooray for thermal lined and interlined cosy blinds shutting out that freezing air! Brrrr.

Another cosy item (which totally clashes with my blinds!) is a massive snug granny blanket that I have been picking up and putting down for a year! It is also finally finished and doing it's job over my legs of an evening. It was a bit of an experiment with colours and some I like and some not. Next, I'm going to try a ripple blanket but in cotton this time.

There are two whole boys under there!

Friday, 3 February 2012

Nigella's Banana Bread

Had a few of the school Mum's over for coffee this morning. Made this again...Nigella's Banana Bread. It was really good! I made it without the walnuts as the kids don't really like them. Good enough to buy rum for if you don't have a bottle in the under stairs cupboard like I do...

Monday, 23 January 2012

Something a bit funny...

New Girl...I really like this show. Give it a go? might not be your cup of tea but the first three episodes are free to watch on 4OD. Personally, for me it's a bit of Winter escapism, it makes you feel good and sometimes you'll laugh. It's very cheesy with some unrealistic characters but that's what I like about it. It's also great background telly...there is something to be said for TV that you can enjoy without really concentrating. Deffo a girls show I would say...

However, the show I really LOVE is Modern Family...

You've got to watch it from season 1 and don't stop until you are up to date...It's also American and slightly glossy but it's VERY funny, it has truly great characters and manages to be touching without being cheesy! It is also popular with Ed, James and Phil and they are all quite different types of bloke!


Saturday, 21 January 2012

Slow progress!

We really need some new blinds in our sitting room. We've had three white roller blinds up in our bay window for the last five years. They were up there when we moved into our house and they look pretty tacky. When one fell down and I got a closer look at it I thought it was about time I made some new ones.

So I chose some fabric and I decided to make them at the sewing class I go to fortnightly during term time. I started before Christmas, but Christmas took over so I am finishing them now.

It's been slow but I'm getting there. I have just finished carefully sewing the lining all the way around each of the three blinds. At my class this coming Thursday I have to sew on the rod pockets, sew on the hoops, remove all the tacking and thread them up. Hopefully they should be ready to go up...either that or they'll sit on the floor for a whole year like my bedroom blind did after I made that!

I thought I would share this way of sewing hidden stitches that my teacher (May Martin) taught me in my last class. It is very simple but I wouldn't have thought about doing it. It saved me a lot of time as you make a lot fewer stitches and also looks really tidy.

Can you see my secret stitches?

So you make a tiny stitch, then you put the needle in and along the inside of the fabric, then you come back out and make another tiny tight stitch...

and repeat!...

So you make fewer stitches and so it takes less time and also is virtually invisible...see my thread coming out at the end of a row of stitches?? Simple and yet very clever eh?

Or is it just me that found that quite amazing!?

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Mmmm...loving this new fabric range...

Loving this new 30's inspired fabric range by Chloe's Closet...I may be adding some of these gorgeous fat quarters to my Birthday 'present to myself' list...

See the full range of '30's Playtime' here at one of my favourite online fabric shops...Seamstar

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Cute bike seat cover...

My neighbour asked me to make 'girly' a boys bike she was handing down to one of her twin two year old daughters at here is what I did...

First off, I searched the web for tutorials and I found this helpful one here...I started out using this and then kind of ended up doing my own thing as my needs were slightly different. It was being used by a child so would need to be tight and secure but also easily removable for washing.

I followed the blog instructions for cutting the fabric. I won't copy them all out here as it is someone else's tutorial.

I then quilted mine with some wadding to make it slightly more comfy and also stronger and more secure.

Then I put the right sides together and machined around the per instructions. As you can see in the picture below I hadn't allowed quite enough fabric for the sides because I ended up making the cover slightly bigger than my initial drawing.

So I pulled the sides together, folding the end underneath and I tightly hand sewed right up to the pole. The seat cover can still come off the other way.

I then sewed pink bias tape all around the remaining opening, joining the two ends of the tape at the pole with a bow. I thought trying the fancy way of joining the ends of bias tape in that tight spot might be a bit of a faff. I  then added ties at the top. To undo the seat cover you untie the top bow, unfold the flap and slip the seat out.

I also covered the protective padding around the handlebar. I just made a tube out of the spotty fabric and slipped it in.