Friday, 28 January 2011

She Sells Sea Shells on a Sea Shore

Well I don't really. But I do like sea shells and spotted this idea how to display my collection in a interior decoration magazine or website. Not a faintest memory where. In my memory their version was more "polished".

These shells were largely collected during my morning walks along our home beach in Mbezi Beach in Dar es Salaam some years ago. There are also shells and sea glass from Northumbrian sandy beaches.(That's where we live now, just to make sure that you don't think that it has started to snow on the shores of Indian Ocean).
There is also a pretty quarts from Alpujarras in Spain where we lived a short while:

It also contains a very special shell, which my husband found for me on Zanzibar Stonetown beach after the day we had met there. It looks like a Flamenco dancer's dress.

I might add that I do like old used things and anything having a lot of departments. After a long rumination period I decided to give in and glue my shells into the typesetters tray. My inclination was to stick them with  blue tack or something, but Elf husband rightly pointed out that they won't hold and lots harrumphing would ensue if I followed that route and the shells started falling like leaves in the autumn. The upper ledge, which has originally been the draw front was given a light sanding as I didn't fancy the yellowish cream colour of it. I left some paint behind, my take on "shabby chic".

I love the little metal corners holding the slots in place. The whole thing has an air of an old zoological museum, in a good way; the old wooden draw, things sorted in there and slightly dusty looks. It reminds me of school store rooms, where one had a rare access with a teacher. One of the first schools I worked as a teacher had still some store rooms like that and they still made my tummy flutter in excitement.

For anyone worried about marine conservation, I should add that all the shells and the coral were washed up on beaches and empty/dead, no live organisms were touched.
PS. I will post a picture of this on the wall when we get our act together. 

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Elf Mama's New Favourite Hand Bag

This is a bag I have been planning during the nights I haven't been able to sleep, not that there are many of them. The colour of the bag in the picture is far too blue, it is in fact teal coloured. I wanted to make something like this since Elf husband bought me this purse, which I love very much.

I love the big bobbles closing the purse, so wanted to have them in my bag too. In this picture you can see the true colour of the bag as well.

I just didn't have a clue how to attach the frames to the sewn bag. I tried to study each frame I had at home, but became none the wiser. Then I found my Bag Hero, Lisa Lam of Bag Bible fame. The instructions are not actually in the book, but on her shop web-site here. The outer fabric is remnants from my teal jacket I blogged about here.

I used nice wild "Emmaline" quilting weight cotton for the lining.  This is the other bag I made a pattern and a muslin for, amazing in my mind.

I like the metal clips which attach the strap to the bag. I had also purchased a chain, but decided that I liked a strap in the bag's own fabric better.

Now that it is all sewn and clued it will get a lot of outings! (Sorry about the blog turning into a bag blog lately. I promise to do other things as well!)
The fact that the bag widens in the bottom and seems to be able to room an awful lot for a little bag makes me think of Hermione's handbag in the latest Harry Potter film.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Sewing Jersey and other Stretchy Stuff

My birthday present has arrived! Of course there were several days when I did not have time to acquaintance myself with my new overlocker. My lovely husband and dad gave me my new toy.

I was really lucky, because trawling the net the price seemed to sit £50 under RRP everywhere. Then Elf Husband spotted a place with a further £50 reduction, because they were selling the display model. Hurrah! We did the purchasing in the New Year's weekend and got a phone call later in the week that unfortunately they had sold that display model, but if I could wait for their next stock delivery, they would give me a brand new one for the price, which I said "Yes Please" to.

I have never ever used an overlocker before, so everything is rather new and scary. I am getting a grip with it now, but I have a lot to learn.

The first project I decided to do was making a fleece for Elf son from my old fleece. I thought that even if it goes horribly wrong, I won't feel too bad as it is an old garment I never use. Elf son's favourite colour is red and he needs a new fleece, so that is how this project came to.

I had all sorts of "aha" moments. Many overlockers, mine included have a cutting knife to tidy up the edge you are sewing. In my model you can choose not to use it and indeed some stitches don't use it at all. For some odd reason I felt that the knife was preventing me to see what was happening there with the material and the needles and everything, so I whipped it up. (Being used to sewing machines I sort of needed the visual control, which you don't get with an overlocker). The picture is taken from the side, but if you imagine being on the front of the big white safety barrier and the rest of it...

At the same time my edge I was sewing wasn't perfectly cut and straight. I can tell you that the overlocker didn't like this. It got all muddled and then snapped a needle. I managed to snap one more by pulling the material, which is a no-no with an overlocker. In addition there is double the amount of thread tensions to consider and of course the same with correct threading.

I then proceeded to make a stripy long sleeved t-shirt for Elf son. I got the material from "marimekko" factory outlet in Helsinki when they had their great sale in last August. I was very lucky to find a big piece and could not have bought bad quality jersey for that price other places. It's not that important for me that it is marimekko fabric, but Elf son likes stripes and jerseys from marimekko wash really well, so I felt it was a brilliant find.

New favourite accessory for the normal sewing machine has been found due to this project: The twin needle. Hemming the sleeves and the hem the twin needle is lovely and pleasingly neat. I was using it also for the neck opening with the stretch stitch. At least in the hem and the sleeves the needed stretch is already there in the normal twin needle stitch, so it was quick and neat to sew. I am pondering now whether to cut out the neck opening strip and redo it with a normal twin needle top stitch...

Knits have been long on my list of "would like to do", but the slowness of the process when using a normal machine has put me off. Now I can run some stretchy seams with a steaming speed! The only speed hampering thing is that the knits of this type definitely need pinning before sewing, so I can see that the seam matches. It is totally impossible to tell as it rolls like mad. Even ironing won't stop it. (Believe me I tried. I do anything before I pin or horror of horrors stay stitch anything).

I must also say here that if you are thinking of buying an overlocker, because you already own a passable sewing machine, I would urge you to think again. As wonderful as it is to be able to do overlocking, you still need a sewing machine and a good one of those is such a fantastic thing to have and makes one's sewing really a lot easier. Of course you can get much swisher overlockers than mine and I am sure that they are equally "easier". (Not that mine is difficult at all). I am so happy that I chose first to upgrade my sewing machine, before getting an overlocker, but then majority of my sewing isn't knits. (As you might have guessed, I was actually thinking of first getting an overlocker as I had a machine...)

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Hannele Bag

I am on the roll with bags. It is really good fun to make them, now that I have learnt a few basic principles. This is totally my own design. The hotch-potch sewer, yours truly, has made first muslin in her life! Not for garments, oh no, but for bags. I actually started another bag before this and will show it as soon as it is finished.

This bag was in my mind a long time. I had made the first sketches last September, and now it is here. The bag changed slightly under the process, but for me that is normal.

A pattern and notes of everything needed for this bag was made, should I want to sew another one. That is something to celebrate in my book.

I was debating about the closure for this bag quite a while. I am all for closures, which keep contents safe, so was quite intent to put a zip on it. In the end I decided not to, but went for a magnetic snap.

It keeps the contents in quite ok, as the bag is not that deep. I also made the bag to be carried under the arm, which closes it even more. As I am all for versatility, I made the strap with adjustment, so I could carry it across my body as well.

Inside I have open pockets on one side:

and a zip pocket on the other.

I am not entirely sure, how wise this was as the bag is constructed with pleats. They seem to be ok, but I just might change this too. In general I am very fond of pockets in bags as I don't like hand-bag-soup where all the items are swimming in a merry mess.

All in all I am well pleased with my efforts. Now it only remains to decide whether to keep or sell this bag...

Sunday, 16 January 2011

More Hooting from the Owlery

When I finished the first owl purse, I just could not stop before I had tried a few of the variations in my head. 
This is the original guy:

Here is his girlfriend:

Then the stripy one with running stitches on the felt bits:

The green one with endearingly wonky "ears":

The Mustard coloured guy with wise expression:

and a row of owl bottoms: (just cannot resist...)

This has inspired me to think again about opening a little shop for my "overflow". Sometimes the inspiration is larger than my cupboards and a little help for material costs would not be bad either. I designed the banner for the shop this morning, but it also needs making. I want to do it in embroidery and applique, so it won't be here today...Well, there is no hurry for the shop opening, is there?

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Money Wise aka Owl Purse

Well...I was supposed to do some supply teaching today, but  Elf son has gone down with temperature and is only interested in listening to stories either read for him or from a CD or films. As I did a whole lot of reading already, he is now enjoying a Star Wars film or two and I am having sudden unscheduled time for crafting; BRILLIANT!

I am possibly really late to this trend, but I do adore owls and as I was thinking of doing something from my own head, I settled for trying to make an owl purse.I know that those buttons look mucky. It's dust and I will take a cotton bud to them. I just could not be bothered to take another picture. You can see that the buttons are from a granny tin in this way!

 I might be the only one wanting to have an owl purse, although my thought was trying to develop something I might be able to sell on craft fairs. There are several variations in my head, so friends and family, you are now warned that you might be gifted with these, if they don't sell. (In case I actually produce a stack of them).Watch this space, the variations might fly this way soon...woo hooo!
The purse is zipped along the owls bottom. I won't entertain you with several childish jokes that ran through my head making this opening.

Here is the owl in its entire glory:

I think it would have looked even better had I hand stitched the wings and the forehead bit with embroidery floss. Next time...Have a hooting weekend! Edit: Have a hooting Thursday. Being suddenly at home doing cosy things has thrown my sense of time...

Monday, 10 January 2011

Here are the results of the draw

Of course I should have seen it coming. I could not get Elf son to be my random number generator as he received the eagerly awaited Lego with the mail. He got money for Christmas and had some savings too, which he used to buy a BIG kit of Lego. Ergo, there was no way of extracting him from the kit apart from taking two bites for his dinner and in the end putting him to bed.

So we did it today here are the slips in his hat:

Elf son is picking one of them:

and here is the winner:

Congratulations Pauliina. The goods are going to be sent your way asap.(Yes, it is blood on the paper. I butchered my thumb earlier today and it has kept bleeding all the day. )

 Here is what Elf son crafted to his cousins as Christmas presents. They were a part of an exercise for his fine motor skills, which was easier to "sell" as there was a reason to make these. He likes his twin cousins R&L awfully lot and making gifts for them was a great motivator.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Elf Son's New School Satchel

Just a reminder that you still have time to comment on the previous post to participate in the anniversary giveaway!

After the successful bag making session I moved swiftly to use all the new knowledge by designing a new book bag for my son. This was sort of half planned as a Christmas present as well, but I thought that it did not matter if he would get it as a New Year gift. His old book bag is one of those nylon numbers the schools get their logo printed on and all the kids have the same. There is a cuteness to it, but he is on his second or third of those already. Its velcro has stopped sticking and it has holes in the corners. He is now that much older that he is quite happy to have something different. He had another bag for his morning fruit snack as well. Some days he is carrying four different bags to school.

The satchel looks deceptively similar to my bag, but I honestly made the pattern myself, using my knowledge of "how to make" supplied by Lisa Lam via her book Bag Making Bible. I used Elf son's old satchel as a guide for the size, although I added a bit both to height and width. I had enough of ticking fabric from elf husbands apron left over to line this bag. It has a big pocket, which I hope will be used for newsletters and all the other handouts mummy needs to read...

On the other side we have similar, but lower pocket divided into three smaller compartments ready to hold pencil case and such. I had meant to buy all the hardware for this bag too, but had forgotten the d-rings, so one end of the strap got sewn and another got a strap loop fashioned from the same jeans fabric with a mega buttonhole. I did get the magnetic snaps and strap adjuster.

One of my goals making this bag was to reduce the bag load he is carrying, so I made an elasticated strap to hold his water bottle

and enough space for a new snack bag.

It is a watertight zip-bag made of dark out blind cut-outs. I knew that they would come useful! And to lessen the frustration with the zip, it has a mega pull with his initial in red felt! What's more the bag has been approved by Elf son, phew....(His comment was that it had a pillow inside. I think this is a reference to ticking).
My blogging might suffer a bit as I am heading to the BIG city for the weekend and then having some work...(REAL work, rather than crafting) to do. I shall be back next week though.

I am also eagerly waiting for my birthday present to arrive. Yes, it's my birthday today, but the present is not going to be here before the end of the next week. I will show and tell when it arrives as it is craft related and I am VERY excited!

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Blog Anniversary Giveaway and a New Year's Gift

It was my blog's 1st anniversary yesterday! Happy birthday blog!

I am fully aware of the custom of having a little giveaway to celebrate. I don't know if there are any others than my family and a few friends reading this, although the stats show that there are at least occasional visits from places where I don't know anybody. (Obviously the family and friends are welcome to participate). As this is mainly craft and sewing blog the give away is "crafty". I thought that it would be nice to give from my stash and something I have made, so here we go.

The giveaway winner is going to get a rainbow of zips:

small selection of buttons

 Two Suffolk puff pins

and a pencil case I made

To participate leave a comment, it does not matter if you have never done so before, you are still welcome! I will draw the winner on Friday the 7th after 3pm GMT, as I am going to use Elf son as my random number selector after he is back from school. Please check if you have won and if so, contact me as the blogger doesn't always give me your email address even if you leave one. GOOD LUCK! 
Now that we have got the giveaway sorted, I can show you a notebook I made as a New Year's gift to my friend and mentor, who is an avid journal writer. We don't exchange Christmas gifts, but I am going to see her next weekend and thought that this would be a nice surprise and a way to say thank-you for mentoring me and being a friend. The colours are not very "me", but are "her". It's always nice to make things for people, because it forces me to colours and designs I would not otherwise use.

I blogged earlier about a notebook I made and there was talk about writing some sort of tutorial for it. Well, I didn't, but maybe I should have, just to use it myself! I could not remember what I did last time, so I needed to figure it out again. Not sure if I did it the same way, but that doesn't matter. I still have not produced a tutorial though...I have to refine my false book binding technique. I really don't have a faintest clue about real bookbinding, so it's all ad libbing it. The printed text is an Einstein quote: "Imagination is more important than knowledge"

I wanted to make the insides inspiring as well, so I added some pictures and decorations here and there

There are fantastic sources for vintage children's craft activities etc on flickr. I can easily lose myself for hours there. It never stops amazing me how generous people are sharing all these goodies with the Internet community. There are several rainy day cutting and pasting activities there which are super cute. Go and check out here and here. The latter has a lot of sets with different vintage themes and is a treasure trove. The pictures are actually lovely enough to frame, if you are missing pictures for your child's room, or indeed for yourself. I used some of them for illustrations printing them to be on the left hand side, where it is more difficult to write.
The whole process of making this notebook was much more painful this time than last time around. I wonder whether it was because I knew I was making this as a gift, whereas the other one started as something for myself.