Wednesday, 30 April 2014

What’s On Your Workdesk Wednesday? #256

Back to the kitchen table today….


I’ve done my chores, been out for a coffee and catch up, with a friend who I’ve not seen in a while. Now I’m all set up for an afternoon sewing session, once I’ve had my lunch. I have a whole bunch of pieces, ready cut, so that I can make myself a set of duplicate blocks, as I’ve mentioned before.

These are two of the three most recent blocks, which went to Beverly, for her Caribbean theme and Amy, who chose seaside colours, worn and washed. Deb is yet to receive hers and I don’t want to spoil the surprise so I’m keeping it under wraps for now. It’s been great seeing them all pop up on Instagram, as they’ve arrived at their various destinations. Did I mention that I LOVE Instagram!


All the colour schemes are different and I’m starting to think about how I will pull them together in the finished quilt.. My own theme is “Anything Goes”, which I hope will give me a selection of colours, to add to the 12 I will have here, by the end. I want to make a lap quilt, for snuggling up with on chilly Autumn evenings. I need to work out how much extra fabric to add, either in the form of simple sashing or with added “cornerstones”, which is what I’m leaning towards right now. How lovely it will be to sit and think of all the wonderful women around the world who helped make it.

Not so short and sweet today. Sorry! Head on over to Julia’s place for more desks and I’ll be back on Saturday with my Month in Numbers.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Coffee and a Catch Up ~ April 2014

It’s that time of the month, when Abi invites us all to sit and have a cup of tea with her. Come in out of the rain. I’ve got a treat for you today.


I was talking pancakes on Friday. It occurred to me then, that they are very similar to the drop scones my Mum used to make sometimes for Sunday tea so I rustled up a batch in time for your visit. We mostly like syrup on ours, maple or golden?


I can’t believe we are now half way through the Friendship Quilt project. Are you taking part? It’s been such fun choosing fabrics, to suit each recipient’s chosen colour scheme. Those *might* be the trimmings from Deb’s block, which went in the post on Friday. I’m hoping that the postal system will get it to the USA a bit quicker than the one I sent to Australia, which is still out there somewhere after a month. 


I’ve stuck with a log cabin block for everyone, although I’ve been changing up the design a bit. I have a stack of strips and squares cut, ready to make duplicate blocks for myself. I love the thought of having a little piece of fabric in my quilt, that will also be in another, somewhere else around the world. I’m already thinking ahead to May and chose this fabric as the starting point for (the other) Deb’s Springtime colour scheme. I’ve set up a Pinterest board with all the blog posts, I’ve noticed, sharing blocks for the Friendship Quilt. If I’ve missed any, please let me know.


In other sewing news, the dress is coming along slowly but surely. Some hand sewing is the next job, which is not really my forte, slipstitching the waistband in place on the inside. The alternative is to stitch “in the ditch” so that the stitches disappear into the waistband seam on the outside, but they would show on the inside and (in my opinion) spoil the neat finish I’ve managed so far. Do you sew your clothes, or have plans to start? I commented on the Sewaholic blog the other day and that resulted in Linda visiting me. She has recently begun dressmaking and made her first dress a few months again. By some strange coincidence Linda chose exactly the same fabric as me! How I love the connections in the blogging world.


The first issue of a brand new magazine arrived last weekend. Among the many lovely projects and patterns in there, I came across this mini art wrap, which I’d previously pinned with the idea of making one for my girl. Next on the dressmaking list, is this cute sixties shift dress. It’s a reprinted vintage pattern and I’ll be making a plain version to begin with, but I think it would look good with the peter pan collar.


The children are back at school now after the Easter holidays, but it wasn’t much of a break for them this time. My girl has her art mock all day on Thursday and the rest of her exams the following week. My boy starts his AS Level exams soon too. Lots of revision, but we did manage to get out for an afternoon, over the Easter weekend. A walk in the sunshine, by the canal at Bradford On Avon.


Ah, its time for you to go now. Mind you don’t step on any of these as you leave. They are out in force after the heavy rain we had earlier. What news will you be sharing over our afternoon cuppa? I’m off to Abi’s place to find out.

Friday, 25 April 2014

See it, Pin it, Do it! ~ April Edition

Hello and welcome to another edition of SIPIDI! It’s time to see whether we’ve put any of those great ideas we pinned to good use. This month I’ve been on the hunt for a great pancake recipe. I quite often cook them for a weekend breakfast and have always used a Nigella recipe to make the thick American style. It’s a throw it all in the blender type of mix, just what you want on a lazy Sunday morning.


I have envied the puffiness of pancakes I’ve seen pictured online, but mine never seem to reach those heights! A friend of mine uses a Jamie Oliver recipe, to make the most wonderful looking thick pancakes, but (and it’s a big but for me) it involves separating three eggs and whisking the whites. I wanted a simpler way to get that fluffiness and I think I’ve found the secret ingredient….buttermilk.


I tried this recipe a couple of weeks ago and the pancakes were light and fluffy and delicious with a good slug of maple syrup. Success! And no egg separating needed.

So….it’s over to you. If you are a Pinterest user, what kind of things do you like to pin the most?

My SEWING board tops the charts with 44 pins and, to my shame, I have only used two of them. Although, in my defence, a lot of them were ideas I pinned for Five Things I’m Loving This Friday. I have three different RECIPE boards: Savoury, Sweet and Budget. I’ve cooked around half of the Savoury, three of the Sweet and all of the Budget recipes, well there are only two on that last one!

Which pins do you go on to use the most of?

If you’d like to join in this month, all the information can be found here. Just leave me a comment, to point me in the direction of your post, and I’ll add it to the board.

PS You can make your own buttermilk, by adding a tablespoon of white vinegar, or lemon juice, to ordinary milk. It works best with whole milk or semi skimmed.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

What’s On Your Workdesk Wednesday? #255

The children have gone back to school this morning and all went remarkably smoothly for a first day of term. I’ve done the dishes, hung out the washing (now back in, rain stopped play) had a second breakfast and taken a photo of my desk, to share with Julia and her merry band of desk hoppers around the world.


A jumble of patterns, magazines and fabric scraps at the back. My SU catalogue, a marker (to highlight retiring products) trusty diary and notebook on top of that. Part of a super secret project (which I hastily covered) peeking out centre front. The remainder of my dress fabric. My hexi sewing kit, along with the latest blocks sewn.


Under that pile of patterns is this new sewing magazine (out in the shops tomorrow, I believe) and first impressions are good. It comes with a Liberty supplement, full of pretty projects and a fat quarter of Kirstie Allsopp’s new fabric. There is also a free pattern (digital download) for the dress on the front cover. A good variety of projects.


Since my update last week, I’ve attached the waistbands to both bodice and skirt, to bring the two halves of the dress together. I need to slipstitch it down on the inside, then it’s on to the zip. I haven’t yet decided whether to use the machine or hand pick it, as seen on the Great British Sewing Bee. Watch this space.

Time for a coffee and a spot of visiting. I’ll be back on Friday with the April edition of SIPIDI! You’d be very welcome to join in.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Easter Bunny Lollipop Holders

Most of my nieces and nephews are now past eighteen and we stopped giving the usual chocolate eggs a while ago. I still like to give a little token and have made various different things over the last couple of years. This year it’s bunny lollipops.


To make four of these, you will need a sheet of A4 card and two 1 3/4” squares of a contrasting colour for the holders, plus an assortment of scraps for the bunnies. A selection of circle punches and an oval one. A white pen, a pencil and a crop-a-dile.


Trim the sheet of A4 so that it measures 11” and then cut four 2” strips lengthwise.


Score at 4 1/2”, 5 1/2”, 7 1/2” and 8 1/2”. Shape the ends if you want to, or leave as they are. I’ve used a tag punch, but you could just round the corners or use whatever punches/dies you have on hand. Adapt it to suit whatever you’ve got.


Add the squares of cardstock. You may want to adjust the size of the one on the right to suit the shape of your strip ends. Alternatively you could use a colour for the base that contrasts with your bunnies, then you won’t need the squares. Flip the strip over, punch a hole and add glue to the right hand panel, as shown in the photo.


Fold the holder into shape as shown and adhere the top sections together.


Punch out these shapes. My circles are 1 3/8”, 3/4” and 3/8” but you can use whatever combination you have. There are many punch art bunnies to be found on Pinterest and I didn’t have the exact selection of punches for any of them. Most required two different sized ovals, but I got over that issue and made my own design.


Glue the pink ovals on top of the kraft ones leaving a gap at the top and side. Turn over and trim away the excess pink card. Glue the brown circles on top of the white ones so that a little white shows. Glue the larger white circles onto the head and add the nose. Finish assembling your bunny, then add highlights and whiskers.

Adhere the bunny to the front of the holder, pop in a lolly and you’re done. I made a couple of changes that aren’t shown in the photos. I find these projects tend to evolve as I go along. Firstly I embossed the squares with a Swiss Dots folder before gluing them on and I tied a bow around the lolly stick of the “down eared” bunny.

Happy Easter to you and yours. Have a lovely weekend.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

What’s On Your Workdesk Wednesday? #254

Still a mess, but at least I have removed the top layer, of sewing related stuff, and it’s just the paper crafting gubbins that’s left behind. Mostly the off cuts from kitting for classes and making Easter treats for nieces and nephews.


The eagle eyed among you may have spotted the Love Hearts, towards the middle of the desk, otherwise not much of interest. I taught a class this morning and the boxes of crafting goodies are all underneath, waiting to be unpacked….tomorrow.


This was our twenty minute card today. A tried and tested design, you will have seen me use before in other forms. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time.

Keeping it short for today. I’ll be back on Friday with a quick tutorial for the Easter treats I’ve made this year. Off to check on the other desk hoppers at Julia’s place.

PS. For those who showed an interest in my sewing project last week, you can read all about it here.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Sewing Adventures ~ The Lonsdale Dress

I teased you with a little peek at my dress, on Thursday, and a promise to come back with more about it this week. So here I am. I’ve been wanting to get back to dressmaking for a while now, but I couldn’t decide what to make as my first project.


I bought a pattern for a Washi dress last year, thinking it looked nice and simple. It has no zip, which is a big plus, but then I let myself get put off by the rows of shirring elastic in the back of the bodice. I was also worried that it might look a bit shapeless on me and I wanted to love what I made, to keep me sewing.


I’m glad I bought that pattern though, because as a result I found there was a whole world of sewing blogs out there. Many of those bloggers didn’t stick with the so called “Big Four” when it came to buying patterns. The Simplicity and Vogue that I was familiar with, but independent designers who design for different figure types.


These patterns are a bit more expensive, but they come with added benefits. Such as online Sew-A-Longs, which are extremely helpful to beginners as well as anyone, like me, returning from a fifteen year break. I’ve learnt so much over the past week, while sewing up this dress.


I had sewn French seams before, but never in a garment. It just wouldn’t have occurred to me. I used them for the side seams in the skirt, as well as the pockets.


Understitching is something new to me. It makes the bodice lining stay nice and flat and stops it being visible from the outside. It doesn’t show up very well in my photo, but you can see it clearly in Tasia’s pictures and read all about it, if you’re interested.


Here’s the centre front seam in the skirt. This type of seam finishing was familiar to me, although I didn’t know it had a name. I used to sew on my Mum’s old Singer and all it did was the standard straight stitch, no zig zagging the finished seams for me. I think this looks much nicer anyway.

As you can see, from the photos above, I’ve completed the bodice, which is self lined and the skirt, with its pockets. My next job is to attach the waistband, to bring the two halves of the dress together and then tackle the zip. Wish me luck!

Friday, 11 April 2014

My Month in Numbers ~ March 2014

March was a very busy month around here. In fact it was a here, there and everywhere kind of month.


On the very first day of March, I drove seventy miles for a sewing meet up in Exeter. The sum total of my productivity that day, was basting the seven hexagons above, for a Grandmother’s Flower Garden Block. I spent my time chatting to the other ladies and learning lots of tips and tricks from the lovely Kerry.


I taught two classes of nine ladies and we made six projects between them both. I finished the last fifty pages of Life after Life, which I really enjoyed, after a bit of a slow start. I read all four hundred pages of Half Bad, but I wasn’t that impressed. I started The Five People You Meet in Heaven. I took a “shelfie” for World Book Day.

I cooked three litres of Meadow Barn soup, two dozen Cornish Fairings and one dozen lemon drizzle cup cakes ready for a weekend away.


I packed up my car with crafting supplies and drove ninety miles to meet up with nine lovely ladies (and three husbands) for our annual DIY retreat in Herefordshire.


A table for eight crafters and a separate table for the two messy ones! A beautiful sunrise on the Saturday morning, the view from the back of the barn and the calm after the creative storm on the Monday morning. Three blissful days away.


I came home to my first two bunches of daffodils. Only one hospital appointment this month, with three panels of beautiful stained glass to look at while we waited. On the thirteenth of the month, I made a batch of rice crispy bars, using thirteen marshmallows and thirteen toffees, along with butter and rice crispies. Spooky!


I received one hand made card and two bars of my favourite Green & Blacks chocolate, wrapped in paper decorated by my two creative children.


One of them had two wrappers, but that didn’t stop me!

That’s my March and I’m linking up with Julie and all the other counters this month.

ETA: Oops! I thought the scheduling hadn’t worked, but it *might* be because today is actually the 11th and not the 12th!

Thursday, 10 April 2014

One Photo in Twenty Words ~ French Seams

Joining in with Abi’s meme over at Creating Paper Dreams.


My return to dressmaking. A dress with pockets? Oh yes! Just looking at that French seam finishing makes me happy.

I’ll be back tomorrow with My Month in Numbers and more on the dress next week.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

What’s On Your Workdesk Wednesday? #253

It’s the Easter holidays here and I’m back at the kitchen table. Not because my desk is a mess, although it is. I’m there to keep my girl company while she revises.


I had a production line going for a bunch of tags, to pop into the parcels I’m sending out today.


Later the space was taken by my sewing machine. More on that very soon. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen a few progress reports!

Want to know what everyone else has been up to? Head on over to Julia’s place to find out.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Kickstarter ~ Print your Own

So you’ve found the perfect pattern and you have in mind the fabric you want, but you just can’t find it anywhere. Wouldn’t it be great if you could design it yourself and then print as much as you needed for your project? If By Hand London get the funding they need, through Kickstarter, then we’ll be able to do exactly that.

Having been very envious of American sewing bloggers who have access to a service like this through Spoonflower, I would love it if they reach their target. I’ve pledged, might you be interested in doing that too?

PS There is a lovely selection of sewing patterns on their website. The Anna dress is on my wish list.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

What’s On Your Workdesk Wednesday? #252

A mess! This is the result of Hurricane Fiona passing through. Packing up for class this morning, in a big rush.


Mainly leftovers of the projects from the last couple of classes I’ve done. I bring all the card/paper scraps home with me, so that I can put them in our recycling bin, rather than the mixed rubbish bin available to me at the venue. Obviously they didn’t make it to the bin last time and I emptied the container onto my desk ready to refill.

Moving swiftly on….


….here’s what we made today. A flower garland card and matching gift box*. Just in time for Easter, but equally useful for a Spring birthday.

Keeping it short today. Those boxes need unpacking again and my little cherubs will be bursting through the front door at any moment. Join the fun at Julia’s place.

*If you fancy making a gift box like this one, there’s a tutorial here.