Saturday, December 15, 2012

Happy Holidays!

A little christmas cheer for the sewing shed....

In my alternate universe, I sit around in my best frock with my hair done beautifully, making stuff like this all the time..... and everyone gets beautiful hand-made gifts, home-baked cookies and perfectly lettered cards.....

Then I open my eyes and realize that the decorations are still in their box, the cards aren't finished and I still have two hundred cookies to make. Crap.

Merry Christmas to all!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Bowled Over

A little while back I happened across a picture of a bowl made from cotton piping wrapped in fabric and thought it was just the neatest thing! I definately wanted a go.... So off to the lovely Walmart I went, and purchased all they had of medium piping. I raided my tub of fabric strips and got to it! This is what I ended up with...

I made two bowls, each using 6 yards of cording...

One is more of a flat, plate-like shape. The other is more bowl shaped.

They both look just lovely in my sewing room!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sewing vacation

For the past couple of weeks we have been on a much needed staycation whilst my mom and dad have been here, on vacation from chilly England. And dont let the title fool you; there was no vacation from sewing as mother got off the plane with a LIST of things to be made.....

And to be honest, I'm sure glad she did! It meant we got to spend a couple of days pootling about in my shed together, doing girly sewing things, and hopefully she ended up with some useful items to boot! And she only nodded off once..... Although she says as there was no drool this definitely does NOT count as sleep. Something to do with jet-lag.....

Project #1 was a peacock cushion for her to give as a Christmas gift. This is what we came up with:

For the feathers we fussy-cut pieces from a large scale paisley print.

The pictures dont really do them justice as the camera couldn't seem to capture the colors very well.

Mom chose the fabrics, and I think she did an excellent job. He's one posh peacock!

Want to make your own? You can download a PDF template here. It includes the peacock and feather outline and a couple of layout suggestions, so have at it!

Project #2 was a tote bag.

It was a make-it-up-as-you-sew kind of affair, and it turned out pretty good. I want one now...

Mom chose some lovely home dec weight fabric for the outside and some cream quilting for the interior. We did a couple of things to make this bag a little bit fancy, the first of which was to add fusible stiffener to all the exterior pieces to give it the right 'feel' and make it look 'like a real one'. Secondly, we added a fancy interior pocket...

It was my first time doing this kind of pocket and I'm sure glad it all worked out. The other side just has some regular divider pockets and there is a small pocket on the front of the bag.

Projects #3 and #4 are without pictures and were a cushion for a childs rocking chair and a case for moms circular knitting needles, the latter of which you may see make an appearance on moms blog if you ask nicely.

All in all, a good sewing vacation!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Autumn Days

The weather here in south-east Texas has turned distinctly fall-like in the past few weeks, bringing some much needed relief from the blistering summer heat. With little humidity, the mornings are positively chilly, and its finally nice enough to spend some real time in my sewing shed. I have been wanting to do a nice little fall-inspired project to ease me back into some sewing, and figured one can never have too many cushion covers......

So to shake things up a little, I wanted to do some raw-edge applique and some embroidery, and after perusing the beautiful fall projects on Pinterest, sat down with my sketch-book and came up with this little gem...

I love the idea of incorporating movement into my cushion and what says Autumn better than a crisp breeze blowing the leaves off the trees?!

If you want to make your own 'Fall Breeze' cushion or wall quilt, you can find the template in PDF format here.

It is sized for an 18" square pillow and you will need to print it in a tiled fashion across 6 sheets and stick them together (For instructions on how to do this on Adobe Reader click here). You can also get the regular letter paper size here, for embroideries or other stitchy goodness!

The best way to make the leaves is to cut a little template out of cardboard to draw around, and if you squish them close together you can get them all on one 5" x 5" charm square! Make sure to choose fabric with a small print that has a variety of colors so your leaves all look different.

Happy Fall, y'all!

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Thrifty Makeover

Last week I discovered contact paper. It's now my favorite thing in the WHOLE world! I managed to salvage a couple of nearly-whole rolls that were going to be thrown in the trash and used them to cover the wooden benches in my sewing shed. Previously they were covered with fabric, not the most practical or cleanable finish... especially when the cats just LOVE to keep me company, leaving their pesky hair on everything!

Much better!

I am a firm believer in messy=creative

I also re-finished my sewing chair, and was about half way through it when I thought I should have taken a 'before' picture. Trust me though when I say it was UGLY!

Not anymore though....

For just the cost of a can of spray paint I have a brand new chair!The seat cover is made from fabric off my old sofa cushions and is an easily cleanable microfiber. Not too shabby, eh?

A pretty good weekend makeover!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sunday Scribbles

The past few weeks have been pretty hectic, with not much time for anything other than work. Sitting in the evening with my sketchbook on my lap is about all I've managed. Still, I guess every little bit of lettering practice helps!

When I'm not lettering, I find myself jotting down cute phrases and interesting quotes, so I have stuff to write. After all, there's only so many times you can write your own name before it starts to look like a made-up word..... Don't you hate it when that happens! The other day it was 'took'. Took. Took. Took...... damn, there I go again!

This one is courtesy of a bumper sticker they were handing out at tractor supply a few months back.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Fanciful Flossery

A nice little project took up my spare time this week, and thankfully I got it finished in time for it's recipients baby shower earlier this afternoon. Now this was not your run-of-the-mill baby shower gift as the baby made an unexpected appearance two months early! Fortunately, the little dot is doing ok and her thankful parents are looking forward to taking her home sometime in the next month.

We never seem to have appropriate wrapping paper for birthday's and such, so we have now started to keep a roll of brown paper handy. Suitable for all occasions and decorated any way you like with stamps, paints, pens, ribbon etc. This is my new favorite thrifty wrapping!

So go ahead, open it up.......

A quick and easy pre-printed panel that makes up into a nice little wall plaque for the nursery! This one is wrapped around a piece of plywood, which makes for a nice sturdy base, but could as easily go in a regular picture frame.

This little project sure saved my hide this week!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Hot Flourish

This week I have been having a go at some calligraphic flourishes with my dip pen. Specifically mandalas, or circular flourishes. Not only are they pretty fun to do, but they allow you to repeat the same strokes over and over so they're great for practicing basic shapes!

These are my attempts;

I prefer the top one, whereas hubby lies the bottom one. Isn't it always that way?

Want to see what real ones look like? Check out these beauties by wonderful calligrapher Jane Farr.

I have also ordered some different colored inks to have a go with, so watch this space!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Present with a Past

Every now and then, you receive a 'life gift'. You know; something that you might be given for a birthday, or Christmas, that you know will be treasured until the end of your days. I was fortunate enough to be given such a gift for my birthday a couple of weeks ago.

A few things of note about this gift:
  • It came into existence in 1939
  • It was made in Scotland
  • It has traveled over 5000 miles to its current home
  • It is the second oldest thing I own
  • It weighs the same as an average 2 1/2 year old boy

 Thanks Mom & Dad xxx

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Poor Impulse Control

OK, so I gave in and bought a calligraphy pen. Or two. And a dip pen. And some ink. And maybe some nice paper. Whatever.

It makes me sad to think about beautiful writing becoming a lost art. Although there seems to be a recent increase in demand for hand lettered wedding stationery, so maybe it's not on the out just yet.

I confess that I am a bit of a doodler, and you may have figured out by now I'm also a bit impulsive when it comes to trying new stuff. The pens I bought are Pilot Parallel pens, a relatively new style of pen utilizing two parallel plates of metal that allow the ink to pass between them rather than the traditional split down the middle of the nib. This is supposed to deliver the ink more consistently, which cant be a bad thing when you're learning.

So I bought two of these pens because the other really cool thing about them is that you can blend the ink, making beautiful gradients as you write. You do this by touching the nibs of the two pens, which allows the ink to pass from one to the other. I filled my pens with ink the same color as their respective lids to avoid confusion, and gave it a go...

The blue pen that I used for the lettering has a 6mm wide nib, whilst the green one is 3.8mm. The decorative lines at the bottom are done with the larger blue pen using the color changing trick. Pretty cool eh? And to top it off, if you hold either of the pens on their side, you can write with a basic 0.5mm line. Now tell me that these pens are not the most versatile ever!? And the ink for them comes in some great colors! (see bottom-left below)

My other pen (can I call it that?), is the complete opposite; traditional, fussy, messy, temperamental and scratchy. But still just lovely in its own way. It makes me feel like I should be writing on treasure maps "There be dragons ahead..."

It is a Brause EF66 nib and is a little smaller than what I was expecting. But bear in mind that I have never bought a pen nib before, so that doesn't mean much. Yes, its very different to write with than the Pilot pens (or just about anything else I've ever written with), but it's so worth it, as nothing else comes close to achieving such beautiful line thickness variation...

Now I just need to do laundry find a use for all this fancy lettering!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Fountain of Ink

At high school whilst on a school trip to France, I bought two beautiful fountain pens from a French stationery store. They were beautiful pens that I dutifully used for several years and I am sorry to say that I don't know what happened to them. I hadn't written with a fountain pen for years, when thoughts of them popped into my head quite suddenly a few weeks ago.

A quick internet search found JetPens, a lovely online pen store based in California that specialize in Japanese pens, which are apparently some of the best in the world due to the intricacies required in writing the Japanese language.

I ordered a couple of fountain pens, a nice brush pen and some pencils and an eraser for good measure. You gotta take advantage of FREE shipping on orders over $25, right? The pens are just lovely. I dont know how I went for so long without a fountain pen! They really are an absolute dream to write with- not at all like the scratchy, ink splattering pens of yester-year.

Kinda makes me want to learn calligraphy..... Although after watching this video, I'm thinking I probably dont have the patience for it!

I guess I'll just stick to faux-lligraphy. That's a word, right?

 Thanks JetPens!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Smashing Good Find

Every since I was a little girl, I have been obsessed with stationery. Pens and paper of all kinds just make me happy. The only way this fascination has changed over the years is that now I'm an adult I can call it a 'hobby' or a 'collection'...

In keeping with my love of all things 'stationery', I like the concept of scrap booking. In fact, when I first had my camera, I optimistically bought an album kit to 'beautifully chronicle my life in photographs'. But you know what? The pressure to make it all look absolutely perfect meant I didn't actually do anything. Instead, I would occasionally look through the beautiful papers I had bought, sad that they were destined to live in the cupboard until I finally decided to give them away.

So when we were in Walmart the other day and I came across the SMASH books and associated lovelies, my spidey senses got all tingly. The first thing I saw was some black and white polka dot washi tape....... I was SOLD!

The whole idea of the Smash book is that it's the scrap-booking equivalent of the junk drawer. You just smush it all in there, with cute tape and notes made with your list pads, all glued down with your special glue-stick pen!

The book I bought is the "ECO Style" one, and is full of nature related prints and pictures.

I look forward to filling it with messy-beautiful stuff!


Monday, July 30, 2012

To Save or to Sell?

What do you do with the stuff you make?

I have been sewing for around 3 years now, and I have kept surprisingly few things that I've made. Mostly I give them away as gifts for birthdays, Christmas etc, or when I think something just belongs to someone I'll send it home with them. This way I'm not overrun with stuff and I know the item will be loved and appreciated. Plus, it eliminates the possibility of my nice handmade things being eaten by the dogs. Such was the fate of the very first quilt I made....

I did try to sell a couple of my quilts on Etsy, which didn't work. I majorly under priced them and felt insulted when they didn't sell! Looking back, I'm really glad they didn't sell. The money I would have made would most definitely have been spent by now, leaving me with no quilt and no money. Instead I still have my beautiful quilts, which I love and use every day.

Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of making money from sewing. But in reality it's just not enough to make nice things. I started sewing to distract myself when I gave up smoking, so to start making things because I think they will sell, rather than my own enjoyment, would be a step back for me. 

My one concession is that I like to make a record of the things I have made before I give them away. Occasionally I forget, or I'm rushing and therefore don't bother. In these cases I always regret not having paused to take a few snaps. But for the most part I remember, and I love to flick through the pictures every now and then to jog my memory...

Friday, July 27, 2012

Just in Case

A while ago, whilst rummaging in my local resale shop, I came across an upholstery sample book. I didn't really know what I would do with it, but the fabrics were lovely and it was $3.... I don't think I need more reasons?

The pieces of fabric are only around 6" x 12", so the perfect size to make pencil cases. These ones are made from the pieces of sample leather at the back of the book...

The embroidery thread is filling the holes left by the label that was originally sewn on there, and I had way too much fun matching thread colors to the zippers and lining for each case!

Everyone needs 5 pencil cases, right?

Truth be told, I dont have 5 pencil cases. These suckers are quick and easy to make and oh-so convenient to put stuff in...... so I have WAY MORE than 5!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Bit of a Frill

Over the past month or so, both of my local Walmart stores have had huge deliveries of new fabrics and other items for the craft department (including a whole new embroidery section...with every color of DMC thread you can imagine for just 30c a skein!!!!).

I have had my eye on this fabric since first seeing it...

...with visions of long floaty summer skirts to wear over my favorite cowboy boots...

But at $13 a yard, these dreams are destined to remain just that; DREAMS! I did however decide to splurge on 1 precious yard to make some fancy boutique-style cushion covers for my 2 naked pillow forms that have been laying around since my trip to IKEA...... nearly a year ago. I know....I KNOW!

So I purchased a yard of the white frills and some heavy duty brown floral fabric for the backing (a bargain from the clearance section for just $2.50 a Yard!) and these two pretties whipped up in no time...

They remind me a little of something you might find in Anthologie or Urban Outfitters, but at a fraction of the price!  

Who the hell pays $90 for a cushion!