Category Archives: Sewing

Mollie Makes – bonus autumn project!

It was a real treat to open my copy of Mollie Makes this month. Knowing my work is featured inside is incredibly exciting as I don’t know in advance how it will be photographed or how the pages will look. I did actually squeak when I found that I had the treat of having my leafy project featured on the first page too! Please let me know if you make any Liberty leaves, I’d love to hear how you get on.

As promised, I’ve got a little extra project for you. Rather than a single leaf shape, I thought it would be fun to make a whole sprig. This means you can mix fabric scraps to put autumn shades together. Help yourself to this free project with all the instructions and templates you need.

Free leaf project

I like the Mollie Makes idea of the leaves as bookmarks. I always love it when I’ve forgotten a flower or leaf I’ve pressed and come across it ages later in the pages of an old book. I have a few of the fabric leaves amongst the acorns and conkers I have in my current nature table display.

I’ve been reading the absolutely delicious new book, ‘Vintage Fowers’ by florist Vic Brotherson. It’s one of the most inspiring books I’ve read in ages. I love the way she collects old vases and containers and lets them inspire what she puts in them. I particularly admire the way she slips a silk or even ceramic flower among the real blooms in some of her displays. It’s like a little secret once you spot them. I was wondering if I could use fabric leaves in the same way. Haven’t quite figured out what would happen when the wire stems get soggy but I’m sure I can think of something.

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Liberty leaves in Mollie Makes!

It’s not often I find a hedgehog making a nest in my handiwork. I was thrilled when Mollie Makes asked me to make a little selection of autumn leaves for their cover and even more excited when I was asked to use these delicious Liberty fabrics. Nesting in the leaves is a hedgehog with a rather unusual pedigree – he’s been created by Katie Shelton of Skunkboy Creatures fame. You can find out how to make the leaves and hedgehog for yourself in the new issue of Mollie Makes, which goes on sale this Friday.

The lovely Mollie team have made the cutest animation too. Take a look here to see my Liberty leaves tumbling in the wind as the hedgehog pops out of his hiding place.

The leaves are very easy to make and are a fun way to use up little scraps. I had some leftovers from the project so I’ve made a little bonus project you might like to try. Pop back this weekend and I’ll have an autumn project and templates ready for you.

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A happy question

Why is it that you can live life with nothing much happening for weeks and weeks and then a splurge of good things come at one? This is certainly not a complaint. I was still basking in the reality of having my long-awaited allotment when along came another very exciting opportunity.

I’ve been asked to contribute a project to a book! It’s a sewing book but I’m not allowed to tell you any more – and it will be next spring before the results will be out there for all to see. For now I can only tease you with the materials shown above. Can you tell what it will be?

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The Cinderella cupboard: part 2

Thank you so much to all of you who take the time and trouble to leave me comments, I do love reading them. This week a comment by Claire (of Handmade by ClaireBear) reminded me that I’d never revealed how my ‘Cinderella cupboard’ finally looked once I’d carefully sorted my fabric stash into colour order. The reason for this was mostly that the cupboard’s resting place in a very skinny corridor severely hampers my photographic efforts. So please forgive the odd angles and yellowy artificial lighting (I will master the ‘white balance’ on my camera one day) but here’s the finished thing.

Surprisingly, there’s still space for a few more stash additions and in places you can even see through to the back of the cupboard, which I covered in delicious bumble bee wallpaper scrounged from a generous assisstant in my favourite Farrow & Ball shop in Bath.

I can throughly recommend having a cabinet like this, the sight of all those lovely fabrics never fails to cheer me up every time I pass along the corridor. Until I suddenly discover that secret room in my little flat just waiting to be turned into a craft haven, this will do nicely.

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Scratching the making itch

I’ve no doubt there’s a link between making and mental well-being. My very unscientific survey of one reveals how much calmer and more contented I am when I have time to spend making things. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been starved of crafting time and I’ve really noticed how unsettled it makes me feel not to have a moment to settle down and reach for something to make from the basket that sits by the side of my sofa.

So how to keep calm and carry on when no crafting time is available? Fabric stroking. A simple but possibly expensive solution. Without any particular project in mind, I bought this little roll of Liberty fabrics. (I absolutely love the way they don’t go together and yet somehow co-ordinate.) I put the roll somewhere obvious, like the arm of my sofa, and simply stroke the fabrics each time I pass. For the photo, I dared to unleash them from their paper band but of course I had to roll them up again carefully as that’s half the appeal. I’m just as bad with jelly rolls and charm packs, I simply can’t use them they are such lovely objects in their own right.

I hope for more crafting time soon but until then, I’ll have to select a new stroking collection to keep me happy for the week ahead. Feel free to join in my unscientific de-stressing solution.

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Chasing the blue

Farm animals are still a childhood essential, I’m very relieved to reveal.

I’ve gazed bemused at my nephew’s collection of trucks with sirens, talking pianos and trains that echo through tunnels and longed to see a wooden building block or a simple teddy in his collection. My childhood is rather more years ago than I care to admit but I hated to think that the joy I felt over a farmyard is something children no longer experience. I remember the duckpond made from a piece of mirror, little sections of plastic fence (that never wanted to stay standing, and dominoed as soon as the last bit was put in place with chubby, determined fingers) and then my favourite, the stable with its half doors opening the let a horse’s head peep out.

My nephew is now a little old for this. Ben is currently busy manning his own supermarket complete with digital cash register and scanner. He obviously has a future as a retail giant! Two of my friends’ little ones are around a year behind him and are both showing hopeful signs of enjoying some simple farmyard fun. As my modelling or woodworking skills are limited, it’s to my trusty fabric and threads I’ve turned to create something for one of them. I showed off a little rabbit from the set a while ago, and thankfully I’ve now found time to create its friends. They come from this Charlotte Lyon’s pattern, which I can thoroughly recommend.

I love Charlotte’s style. For me, she’s captured all the nostalgia of old-style farmyard animals. All mine were grouped as little families on ovals of green plastic grass. I recall a rather good sow and piglets and my treasured duck and ducklings all in a row. I had grand ideas about reversing the designs to make the little padded shapes double-sided but I fear they’d never be finished, so I intend to find some pretty prints to back each animal instead. I shall make an effort to be bold and colourful for maximum appeal.

I had hoped to be able to show off something a little more finished today but I thought I’d snap this picture before we lose the light on a dull day. I used a soluble embroidery pen for the first time (in place of my trusty pencil), which was lovely and clear to stitch over but it’s taken me ages to chase away all the excess blue lines with the special eraser end. I thought I’d managed it but I spotted still more as I pressed the shutter. I may have to call it a day and hope that sloppy embroidery won’t be high on the list of things a two-year-old will worry about.

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Hiding in the airing cupboard

My airing cupboard is big. Big enough to tuck away a multitude of sheets and towels and still have room to spare. Sadly it’s not quite large enough to provide a Famous Five style hiding place during a game of hide and seek but I can live with that.

I was completing the cathartic the Sunday ritual of putting away the freshly-washed bath towels and newly-ironed sheets and I noticed a little bit of colour peeping out from behind all the linens, a tantalising contrast to all that white. I couldn’t resist, I pulled gently and unfurled an unfinished patchwork quilt. I stood and wondered how I’d forgotten something in which I’d invested so much time.

The reason may be that it was one of those projects that never felt quite right. A couple of years ago, I returned from The Festival of Quilts with an advanced case of Amy Butler fever. I’m not usually drawn to big print fabrics but her bold repeats made me swoon. I was unusually reckless and bought a couple of metres of three different fabrics. (Oh the stress of purchasing without purpose and worrying about opting for enough!) Once home the beautiful materials took up residence on the arm of the sofa for several days of stroking and admiring. And there they stayed for some time.

A quilt seemed the best use of such big bold prints, so I set to work on something simple to preserve the patterns. I laid out a simple strip quilt but it just didn’t seem interesting enough, so I was brave and chopped the fabric into large squares and saved some strips to make the border. I was convinced enough to stitch everything together and layer it up ready to quilt by hand. I echoed the squares with the lines of quilting and made it through about half of them. It was looking quite pretty but still wasn’t ‘speaking’ to me. I must have been distracted by making something else as I stopped quilting and folded the poor thing away in the airing cupboard. And there it stayed for some time.

Absence has made my crafting heart grow fonder as I find I like my quilt much more today. I feel quite inspired to carry on with it now. I think the period of storage has actually improved it. It’s developed that  lovely crinkle of an older quilt. I love the way the quilting stitches show up on the plain backing fabric and look so different to the front.

A quilt takes such a long time to make, I do hope my new personal technique doesn’t always have to include two years in the airing cupboard to get the best effect.

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