Sunday 31 August 2014

Big School Wallet

My daughter is off to secondary school in just a few days, and so we started hunting around the shops for a new wallet. There wasn't anything quite right, and I then saw Vicky Myer's 5 Wallet Tutorials. Why not have a go at making one?

My daughter was very specific about what she needed: a pocket for her phone, a space for her bus pass, and somewhere for a tiny bit of cash for emergencies and her door key. They have to hand these things in every day, so it does seem a good idea to have one wallet for everything. 

The wallet tutorials, although all excellent, had lots of pockets for cards, and as we didn't need this, I thought I would just go for it and make up my own design. So with a few mistakes along the way, she now has a bespoke Big School Wallet.

Like Vicky, I do like the idea of recycling fabric, so we used a pair of old denim shorts, and a cotton fabric you may have seen before. The zip pocket for change and the phone pocket were stitched onto the lining piece. I then made the curved pocket flap and rouleau loop and tacked these in place. The lining and blue denim outer piece, with thick interlining piece, were then sewn together inside out, leaving a hole, so the whole thing can be turned out. A few buttons and poppers and I was done. I did top stitch carefully, but didn't do a lot of measuring, so there are a few bits that are wonky. I may have another go at making another one with a bit more precision. It has inspired me a bit for my small squares of thick fabric that I wrote about here, but still have done nothing with. So off to Big School ...

Saturday 30 August 2014


Sea Holly

These are just a few nature pictures from a coastal walk in North Devon.

Braunton Burrows - a large area of sand dunes with a really rich variety of plants and animals.

Oh dear - I shouldn't have started labelling my photos, as I have no idea what this is, but it was very pretty.

The Common Blue Butterfly - so pretty he should have a better name I think.

Upturned boats at Appledore

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Poppy Shoes

Here is one of my holiday knits. When I am on holiday I usually like to knit a from my own patterns. I am away from my computer, so it is difficult to write anything new, and it gives me a good opportunity to see if I can make any improvements. 

Did I mention that my children said that I was not allowed to knit on the beach? I rather reluctantly agreed to this as part of the deal that on their part no electronic gadgets were allowed on the beach. Rather annoying as there is nothing nicer than sitting knitting on the beach, but I still had plenty of time to knit, especially on the car journey.

So here are some new baby shoes, from my Baby Bee Pattern, which is for sale on Craftsy and ravelry. There will be some more baby shoes with other flowers on the way. I try really hard to embroider them in a way that I have not done before, so anyone buying them has a truly unique gift. I thought a bold poppy would look great on this soft grey chenille wool (I know they look blue, but they really are grey) that I used for this pair, which will be heading off to my Etsy Shop as soon as I have made a little shoe bag to put them in.

Saturday 23 August 2014

Devon County Show

I have so many photographs from my summer holiday in Devon that I have split them up a bit, and will be putting them on over the next few weeks. These first ones were taken at the North Devon county show. 
Here are just a small selection.

The tug of war was great fun.
Have I ever mentioned my secret ambition to retire to the country and keep alpacas.

These ones were queuing for the prize winners parade, and I think hubby was pretending to be a farmer.
I like this picture as much for the farmers as the prize winning sheep.

And this is how you feel if you have not won a rosette.
Have you ever felt like this? This hen just seemed to have too many chicks to cope with.
... and I may have an idea for a new knitted vehicle.

Wednesday 20 August 2014


When I went to the Knitting Show at Earl's Court in the spring I bought a really huge ball of chunky Aran wool. I've had the idea to knit some cushion covers for myself, and our holiday seemed the perfect time for this "big for me" knit. 

This was my first cushion, and I was delighted with how it turned out. It is a 50cm cushion pad, so quite big. The pattern worked out perfectly with exactly five leaf designs on it. It may look a bit like cable knitting, but isn't, just a combination of knitting together and increasing. I am going to put the pattern for this Leaf Cushion online soon, though may knit another one in a deeper colour first.

I had enough wool left for a second cushion, and thought I would try something a bit more pictorial. I had a few problems, as originally the tree was going to be in a frame of leaves. Something went wrong and I had to unravel, which is why there is just a leaf in each corner. I was really pleased with the tree, which I planned out on a grid of paper. You can see my enormous grid below, which is actually 9 pieces of paper glued together. I had thought of writing it up as a pattern, but I am not sure that anyone else would want to follow such an enormous chart, or even how I would get it into a document. I even got a bit confused myself near the top of the tree, but thought that so long as I keep the right number of stitches, no one will be able to tell if the odd leaf is not in the place I originally planned. So this is probably going to be just for me. I may have a go at another similar cushion, as it was fun to do, and I would like to make the tree a bit more asymmetric, and knit it in a deeper colour.

Tuesday 19 August 2014

Model's Own Accessories

I made this dress for my daughter before we went on holiday, and had the idea that some photos playing on the beach would be great. Somehow that isn't how they turned out. I think my little girl may be growing up before my eyes. When did that happen? These pictures were taken at the North Devon County Show. You may also notice the change of hair colour, which I agreed to in a moment of weakness, and am very much hoping will wash out before she goes back to school.

This is the pattern I used ....

... and the fabric that my sister will recognise, as I think it was a leftover from some window blinds. It was just the right width, and I like the balloon like pattern. I will probably have another go, and make the version with a different panel down the front, or the shorts version. This was quite an easy make. I made it over two days, though it could be done in one if you are a fairly quick sewer.

I slightly altered the pattern. Instead of using the shop bought bias tape that the pattern recommended, I thought it would look nicer to make my own tape from the main fabric. I had enough material to cut the tape for the front and back neck edges on the diagonal, but was running out of fabric and had to cut the tape for round the armhole straight. But it seemed to work fine. 

We then altered the shoulders to have ties, as this seemed much simpler that trying to get the lengths exactly right, and I thought would make the dress wearable for longer as she grows.  I top-stitched either side of all the seams as I thought it gave it a better finish. I would be interested to know what other sewers do about neatening seams. I don't have an overlocker, and often use a zigzag stitch to neaten, but this always takes a lot of time and thread.

But I am going to get back to some knitting next, as this seems to have become a sewing blog over the last few weeks.

Tuesday 12 August 2014

Wedding Pictures

I didn't think I had any photos of my daughter being bridemaid at my niece's wedding in Ireland. But tah dah, there were some hiding on my husband's phone. The dress is really more purple than it looks here. Click Here if you want to read a bit more about the making of the dress.

And a few from the reception, where there was pottery painting, face painting, balloon modelling, and I think a lot of fun. I wasn't there as my son had some school exams, which still makes me sad. They have the coolest ever wedding video on Youtube which I will try to link to, though I am not sure if it will work. It makes me well up whenever I see it, although I am someone who cries very easily. The setting by the river is beautiful, but my favourite moment is at the beginning where my husband and daughter arrive at the hotel.

Link to YouTube

Friday 1 August 2014

Upcycled Cushions

I am so happy with my latest sewing project. Mainly because these lovely cushions are for me, but also because I love an upcycle project.

My old cushion covers were looking very sad. I should have done the TV makeover trick of photographing them before in very poor lighting. So I had in mind to make some new cushion covers. Around the corner from my house there is an upholstery shop, that often has a bin of bargain bits outside. A few weeks ago I was having my usual look at the curtain offcuts when I saw there was a massive book of fabric samples propped against the bin. I was delighted when the shop said they did not even want anything for it, and when I got home I very carefully dismantled the book to get the samples out. 

So with most of the plain velvets pieces I have recovered my sofa cushions. Aren't the colours great. I don't think I would have used this variety of colours if I had had to buy the material. They look like jewels. I unpicked and reused the old zips and cushion pads, so this project was a complete bargain.

But I still have a huge selection of fabric pieces left. So any ideas of what I could make with them would be really welcome. Most are really thick brocades, and with quite big patterns. But none of the pieces are bigger than 30cm by 35cm.  The only idea I have had is to patchwork again, and try and make a large funky handbag. The sort of bag I like has room for a book and some knitting.

There were also a few bits of embroidered organza, and I am going to use these to make some little bags for my knitted shoes and toys.

Let me know if you have any ideas for what I could make with my hoard of fabric pieces.