Sunday 30 March 2014

Stitching Sundays 30

Stitching Sundays 30 - how did that happen?  Over this last 30 weeks, I have achieved far more with embroidery, sewing, patchwork and making than I would have thought possible! The photo collage above shows a variety of projects I have completed, including decorations, bunting, embroidering a felt piece which I started three years ago and trying patchwork for the first time (collage created using picmonkey).  I am sure that without the added excitement of having something to share on a Sunday, I would not have achieved so much.
Having said all that, I have decided that I am not going to continue posting on every Stitching Sunday. This doesn't mean I am going to stop making, sewing, embroidering - far from it (especially as I have discovered a love of split stitch!) - but I shall be sharing my projects on an 'as and when they are progressing' basis.
I would love to attempt to make myself a skirt that actually fits; a simple A line, knee length or a little longer, perhaps in denim, so that is the next challenge I have set myself.  I am a beginner at clothes making so am hoping this won't be a project too far!  I would also like to mend a childhood knitted rabbit toy (Gonga), who needs sorting out and a new pair of felt shorts making, so there is something else I'll be doing too.
It has been great to join in and I hope to have many more projects to share in the future.

Tuesday 25 March 2014

Vagaries of the weather, but plants carry on regardless

 In the last week, the weather has been really interesting.  We have had double rainbows - this one is taken from the back garden...
 ..and this one was out of the back window of the car, on the way home up the A1.
 Then there have been the biggest hailstones I have seen in a long time.  While I was taking the photo, they came down quite hard and I could really feel them hitting me!  I put the five pence piece in the shot as a size comparison.
 The sunny days have been loved by the plants - above is blossom from Prunus Kojo-no-mai which is a real star at the moment.
I bought two pots of these bright and cheerful anemone blanda at a well-known DIY store.  I like the way the flowers open fully in the sun and then close up again.
 Here's a progress report on the tulips (Ballerina and Black Parrot) from last year which I dried and re-planted.  They are much further on than the new ones I planted, but at the moment, they seem a bit spindly, although they may fill out a bit yet.
 These little sweet violets are blooming along a communal path at the back of our line of terrace houses.
The pushkinia is doing well and I do like the pale blue veining on the petals.  Even though the weather is unpredictable (this is England, after all!), the plants are heralding Spring.

Sunday 23 March 2014

Stitching Sundays 29

Stitching Sundays 29!  I have made progress this week, taken the plunge and created my first patchwork pieces.  I used patterns from Tilda, also from Helen Philipps' book 'Pretty Patchwork Gifts' where I was inspired to add the cross stitch, lace and buttons.  The lace is some vintage handmade lace which was tucked away in a tin and which Chris gave me to use in sewing projects.
 The back of the hearts is also patchwork.  I discovered an interesting thing about rotary cutters when I was using one for the first time - they are very good at cutting skin, if you happen to look away from what you are doing!  Luckily, it was just a little nick, but it made me pay much more attention, which was a good thing!
 The buttons are ones I have collected, or have been given (in a Christmas cracker swap, in the case of the pink flower above).
 Here are the hearts being modelled by the door handle.
 I'm not quite sure where to display them yet.
 I am really pleased with them though and I got better at making them as I went along.  I may make some more with some of the other material which has featured on my blog.

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Spring colours - jewellery and bargains

I decided that I was going to make a piece of jewellery for myself.  I have a huge stash of gemstones to choose from (oops) and initially, wasn't quite sure which I was going to use.  In the end, I decided on larimar, amazonite (one of my favourites for the blue/green shades it has), rainbow moonstone and silver pearls.  (That sounds so indulgent, doesn't it?)  However, as I used gemstone chips and memory wire, it was quite cost effective.  As I have mentioned before, I find threading the chips onto the wire to be quite a meditative process and the best thing is, I have got a lovely piece of jewellery which I'll really enjoy wearing. Although the photo above doesn't show it, the moonstone does have lovely flashes of blue when it is in the light.
 As for the bargains, well, on a recent trip to Horncastle (a place well known for antiques and charity shops), I found this little embroidered tray cloth in a charity shop (50p).  Of course it had to come home with me.  I was bought it and the primroses by our friend who we had gone to see.  I know primroses aren't cowslips, but I thought they went together well and do a sterling job of representing Spring colours!
(I did wash and iron the tray cloth, but it does look a little creased in the photo - ho hum!)

Sunday 16 March 2014

Stitching Sundays 28

 Not much progress with actual making this week, but I have been planning and looking at my materials to see what would look good together.  I realised that the stash of material which holds all my memories was just too diverse to be used together, unless used with a neutral background and made into a cushion cover, or something like that.  Having realised this, I decide to look at the other material in my stash and see if I could create some pleasing combinations.
 Here are the results of all the playing - just three combinations at the moment, but it's a start.  Above on the left is my favourite puffed sleeved dress material with some other pale blues.
The pink selection features my wedding dress bodice silk on the left, a dress material my sister used to make me a fifties inspired dress when I was about 18 or so and another pink material I bought when I made the rabbits.
The turquoises look a bit washed out, but are quite vibrant in real life.  The fabric at the bottom left is from a bridesmaid dress which belonged to my Mum and the others are ones I bought when I made my seasonal bunting.  So, having decided on these, I now need to decide what I am going to make...I am still leaning towards little patchwork hearts, or squares. I hope to have done some actual construction by next Sunday, all being well.

Saturday 15 March 2014

Brooches swap - "Such Fun!"

You know how I enjoy blog swaps (did you get the quote from Miranda's Mum?) and I signed up to a brooch swap run by Jo at Three Stories High, who had the great idea of making a brooch in your favourite craft medium and then swapping it - just a little pick-me-up for the end of Winter.  Terrific idea, I thought, and put my name down.  I was partnered up with the lovely Emma at Bubsiekins and after the usual emailing to get some clues about likes and dislikes, off we went to create.  We swapped gifts last week and here's what Emma sent me:
 Two lovely gifts - how exciting!  So, what was inside?
 A beautiful brightly coloured circle brooch and the happiest cat in the world brooch!  She had been very generous and made me two.
 I mean, just look at him/her - isn't he/she just gorgeous?  He/She makes me smile too.  Thank you so much to Emma for being such a thoughtful and clever swap partner!  You would probably like to know what I sent to Emma?
 I made her a flower brooch from my own felt in colours that she told me she liked and put a pearl in the centre as that is one of her birthstones.
I also made her a bracelet, because, like her, I wasn't sure that the brooch would be to her taste (it is such a personal thing, after all), but I think she likes it.  All in all, a very successful and fun swap to be involved with. Thanks to Jo for organising it and to Emma, for her lovely gifts - it really was "Such Fun!" (hmm, perhaps a bit too much with the Miranda quotes?!).

Tuesday 11 March 2014

Mr Blue Sky

 Hasn't it been lovely to see some sunshine and blue sky?  My plants have definitely been enjoying it.  Here are some of the highlights at the moment.  Above is a Daphne 'Eternal Fragrance' which has looked like it is going to die for about the last six months but then surprised me by flowering and when I lean down and get my nose to the flower - wow - lemony, lily of the valley, delicate and almost delicious!  If it doesn't survive, at least I'll have enjoyed these flowers.
 Here are my hyacinths (the flash really doesn't do the colour any justice as they are a much deeper blue in real life, but they are in a shady area of the garden).
 Excitement of unfurling tulip leaves.  I am really hoping for a riot of colour this year.
 Beautiful markings of crocus.
 My three hellebores are doing well although they like to hang their heads downward so need a bit of help when being photographed.

 Another pretty crocus.
A view of that elusive blue sky through the branches of Prunus Kojo-no-mai - a bit of an experiment as I couldn't see what the picture would be like, but I'm pleased with the result.
For a bit of feel good ELO 'Mr Blue Sky', here's a link to Youtube. Enjoy!

Sunday 9 March 2014

Stitching Sundays 27 - a trip down memory lane

No sewing or embroidery to share today, but the start of a new project.  It may look like a fabric jumble sale, but these fabrics all have some kind of memory attached to them.  
There are blowsy roses, delicate flowers, embroidered patterns... 
...a piece of the material which was Mum's wedding dress, a shiny blue taffeta which Mum wore as a bridesmaid and my blue and white puffed sleeve dress material too...
 Shiny florals which were carefully made into dolls' dresses by Granny and a red floral which may have once been a skirt.
I am intending to use little bits of them to create patchwork - perhaps hearts, but I haven't quite decided yet. Instead of these pieces from my past being in a box, at least I will be able to see them and enjoy the memories.  I am sure I have set myself quite a challenge, with different thicknesses to work with, but I can always use to interfacing to help them behave better (well, that's the plan).  So, here's to my first foray into patchwork!

Tuesday 4 March 2014

Challenging myself

 I decided to give myself a bit of a creative challenge with my polymer clay skills.  I have been wanting to make some flowers for quite a while, so went onto some internet tutorials to see how it was done.  It all looked reasonably simple, so off I went to have a go.  Let me tell you, it is not simple at all!  Here are my first attempts at a sort of grape hyacinth (following the tutorial from make it with me) but my attempt isn't nearly as pretty as hers.  Of course, this is my first attempt and it will no doubt get better if I practise!
 Having mixed some nice purple shades, I thought I would try a simple flower shape.  Even that wasn't as easy as I thought.  Practise, practise, practise!
 Here are some beads which I am really pleased with (good to end on an optimistic note).  I have been struggling with using translucent polymer clay as my attempts hadn't quite worked out as I had hoped.  However, when watching Jewellery Maker one day, there was a polymer clay designer and she showed how to make foil beads using translucent clay.  I had a go, using silver foil over a variety of colours of clay that were in my scrap box and lo and behold...success!  I can't tell you how pleased I was with these.
Now I just need to use them in some jewellery!

Sunday 2 March 2014

Stitching Sundays 26

One of my lovely blog followers, Anne, suggested I should make some bird decorations in Spring colours and I thought this was a great idea.  Although I have lots of Easter decorations, I don't have that many Spring ones.  So, before I move on to my next project (and I haven't yet decided what that will be), I thought I would make three more birds in Spring-like colours.
Here they are, two done and one left to make.  They do seem to look very different from the Winter ones, even though it is the same pattern and the same embroidery shape (give or take a bit of human error). It's all down to the choice of colours. So, just the yellow one to finish and on to the next project...