Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Felt Book Mark

I love reading, though over the past few years I've mostly been reading books related to my photography studies which has left very little energy or enthusiasm for fiction.  But one thing my studies have taught me is that you can never have too many bookmarks, particularly when working on essays and assignments.

Recently I've noticed some lovely bookmarks on Pinterest and decided I would have a go at creating my own version - its also a great way of using up some of the random ribbons and tapes in my sewing box and the felt scraps I'm starting to accumulate.  I used about 18 inches of tape for this one - which sounds like a lot for a bookmark but it means both felt decorated ends extend below the bottom of a paperback or hardback novel so if you keep one end tucked inside the back of your book, its handy for when you need to drag yourself away.  Its a great length for marking pages in bigger text books too.  I also used a couple of buttons for the flowers and a couple of seed beads for the eyes on the bird.  I die cut these shapes but it would be easy enough to hand cut small shapes too.

They are also quite quick and easy to make, so I think I'll be making more of these.

I chose to vary the colours on each side for extra interest.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Necessity Breeds Invention!

I was always very impressed as a child that my Grandmother seemed to have a saying for every circumstance and the one in the title is what popped into my head when I was making this bag (it seemed appropriate to photograph it on the beach given my choice of fabric).

Since I've had to start using crutches instead of a walking stick when I go out I've discovered a problem - it's very difficult to juggle a crutch and a carrier bag!  I tried digging out an old rucksack as the hospital suggested but I found it hard to get on and off as my left arm doesn't work too well either.  So the answer seemed to be to find a bag that would fit across the body, that wasn't so wide that it would get in the way, but that was also big enough to carry my usual bits - purse, phone etc., and any odd bits of shopping you might pick up when out and about - such as the local paper, a craft magazine, a library book or a pint of milk.  I thought that such an item would be easy to find... sadly not, so I decided I would have to make my own.  I spent some time looking for a suitable pattern but in the end I had to create that too - using pages from my local newspaper.

My original idea had been to use the beach hut fabric on the outside, make a plainer flap with something appliqued on it and line the bag with the seagull fabric, but I couldn't bear to hide the seagull fabric away, so in the end I used a plain calico for the lining.  The bag is also padded so it will protect my DSLR nicely too.

I also added a loop and lobster clip on the inside so I could attach my purse lanyard for security - plus it gave me an excuse for using some of this lovely ribbon I picked up in my local craft shop!

The handles were triple stitched for strength as I want my bag to last as long as possible.  All that was needed then to finish it off was a button.  I mentioned yesterday about the button... up to this point, all my decisions had been relatively easy so I never would have dreamed that choosing a button would be so hard!  In the end there was me, my friend and the shop assistant involved in its selection and we must have looked at dozens upon dozens of buttons before a final choice was made.

I'm still not totally convinced, but I think thats probably only because I'd previously found the "perfect button" in my button tin - only it was the wrong size for the loop I'd made and I couldn't find anything else that resembled it, this button really does work very well with the blues in the beach hut fabric so I'm sure I'll grow to love it too in time.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The White Cliffs of Dover

The title I've used for this post always makes me think of that Vera Lynn song that was so popular during WWII - not that I was around back then, but I'm lucky enough to live very close to the cliffs and as a child, I lived even closer.

I grew up in a little village, off the beaten track between Dover and Deal.  We moved there when I was 8 years old and I consider myself very lucky to have grown up in such a beautiful place - in fact I've always wanted to be able to move back there one day, but I can't complain about the town where I currently live and I'm only 5 miles away from my childhood home and about half a mile from my local beach.

I haven't been feeling too well over the past few months, not helped by going down with one virus after another since December, but having not been out for nearly a week, a little bit of sunshine and feeling as though the walls were closing in, I rang one of my friends the other week and after having my friend help me select a button for my new bag which I'll show you in a future post, we took a little drive down to the beach of my childhood and spent a very pleasant couple of hours enjoying the peace and tranquility of the place from the comfort of my car - it was a bitterly cold day!  We did venture out of the car briefly to take a look at the latest cliff fall and take a few photos of it and here is one of mine...

This was just a quick snap with my little compact camera as I wasn't up to hauling my 'proper' camera gear about but I'm happy with the result (apart from the wonky horizon) as it shows some very white Dover cliffs.  I've often heard people say that the cliffs weren't as white as they'd expected, but after a cliff fall like this, the cliffs are amazingly white, and the water had a milky quality from the chalk that had fallen into the sea.

I've often wondered what I would be like to live in one of these houses (there are three) tucked under the cliffs... on one hand I think it would make me nervous, although that part of the cliffs is probably more stable as its not subjected to the waves, but living here must also be a wonderful experience - what a fantastic view!

These houses have had some very famous occupants over the years; Noel Coward lived here for some time, although it is said that he moved away because he found the view too distracting and struggled to get work done here.  Ian Flemming on the other hand seems to have been inspired by the view as he wrote and based the novel "Moonraker" here.  Its also said that the London to Dover coach - which still bears the service number 007 also provided inspiration for a certain character but there is much argument on that subject and sadly we'll never know the truth.  But having travelled on that service a number of times myself when I was younger, I like the idea.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Minstrel Needs A Home

This is Minstrel.  He's around 8cm tall and is made from a mixture of mini-bear fabrics - American Velvet and Cashmere; he's stuffed with polyester filling and his feet contain steel shot which gives him the stability to stand independently.

I made Minstrel for an auction arranged by some friends of mine in a group I belong to.  All the members of the group are creative people with chronic health problems and all the items have either been donated or handmade and donated by them - Minstrel is my contribution.  The auction is now open to bids, which can be made up until the closing date - 28th April 2013 - and the person who has made the highest bid will win the item.  All the money raised will be shared equally between Macmillan and Invest in M.E.

If you're interested in bidding for Minstrel you can access him directly here - alternatively you can access the rest of the auction site here.

I wish you very happy bidding, I am happy to be contributing to two great causes which are both very close to my heart, and I hope Minstrel finds himself in a lovely new home very soon.

If you want to know any more about the organisations we're supporting, please follow the links below:

Macmillan Cancer Support

Invest In M.E.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

DIY Pincushion

Its been quite some time since I last posted a project on here - sorry but I've been distracted by a lot of other things going on in my life, I have made a few items lately, so hopefully I can share them with you over the next few posts.  I have no idea who - if anyone - reads this, but if you do, it would be great if you left a comment.

Last year a friend lent me a pincushion that attached to the wrist while I was working on a sewing project, it was really useful but I discovered that to get one of my own could also prove to be quite expensive, so I thought there was no reason why I couldn't make my own.  I bought my self a fat quarter of fabric, a piece of co-ordinating felt, some matching embroidery thread and a packet of elastic - the total cost wasn't really all that different in the end to the cost of a bought pincushion but I had great fun planning what I was going to do and it was the first time I'd ever tried die-cutting felt so I also had the excitement of discovering how effective that was too!

I actually cut my pincushion out and embroidered the hearts onto the fabric last year but then came to a halt because at that time, I still hadn't plucked up the courage to try out my new sewing machine.  The machine has been sitting on the dining table for a few days and today I finally decided it needed moving... but then thought it would be a good idea to finish a couple of outstanding projects first.  It actually only took a few minutes to sew around the pincushion - trouble was I'd under estimated how much elastic I would need for my (rather chubby) wrist as once I'd turned it out and slid in a piece of repurposed plastic (to prevent accidental pin acupuncture) and stuffed it, the elastic was tighter than I'd anticipated.  Luckily, I'd prepared two pincushions ready for sewing so made sure my second attempt was a better fit and in fact its currently in my teddy workbox already being put to good use.  :)

The pincushions are a very simple design, were really easy to make and I have loads of fabric left so I might make a few more as Christmas gifts for some of my crafting friends or I might use some of the other fabrics I've bought since or perhaps next time I'll make something more ambitious as I've seen some absolutely wonderful ideas for pincushions on Pinterest - but this one was designed with a particular task in mind and it does exactly what I needed it to do so I'm happy.

I have to admit I now regret that I gave away my old fabric stash a few years ago when it became obvious my old sewing machine was never going to work properly again, but the fabric did go to a good home and the fabric designs I've seen since I started looking again over about the last 10 months, are just SO beautiful that I have given into temptation a few times, so hopefully there will be more sewing projects to follow.