Tuesday, 1 September 2015


I think I may be just a little obsessed with Janet Clare's work. I saw her on Create and Craft a few months ago and loved her style – in particular her products inspired by Britain's wintry coast. When I was little, living in Dorset, my Mum and Dad used to take my sister and me to the beach – in winter. We never went during the summer when it was hot and a dip in the English Channel would have been welcome. Nope. We went in the winter when the white horses were crashing along the coastline, eroding the cliffs and sweeping my sister off her feet. I'm not sure what message my parents were sending us. At any rate, I have been thinking a lot about the sea again. It's been years since I have seen it – even though I live 40 minutes from the coast.

Anyway, my Janet Clare obsession started with buying her Charming Gulls kit. A few hours later I had a lovely little appliqu├ęd picture – which I ultimately made into a cushion. 

More! More! I needed more! So I ordered lots of her More Hearty Good Wishes fabric with whales and lighthouses and seaweed on it. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it yet but it had to be mine.

Of course, I needed her book too. I'm waiting for it to be delivered.

Then I hit the internet and her blog and found that she has very generously shared some free downloads. Yay!

As you can see - obsessive. But I have to say, her kits are wonderful to work with. I have my eye on her larger gull quilt kit too but I shall have to save a bit for that, I think. Bills to pay, and all that. And I can't say I don't have plenty to be going on with, can I?

Saturday, 22 August 2015

New beads for the new season: Halloween, Christmas and some pretty patterned ones with an autumn theme. As always, they are now on Etsy.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

English paper piecing

Yup, another new craft to try. I've always wanted to try patchwork - and I did back in my teens. But it didn't go well. The 'square' fabric shapes did not stay square when I'd stitched them up and instead of a square piece I ended up with a rectangular shaped piece (made a nice pillow case though).

However, I discovered English paper piecing recently and by chance realised that I could cut out paper pieces using my Sihouette machine. Yay!

Within a few minutes I had some hexagons (and other shapes - I just couldn't stop myself) and attacked my fabric stash. (Remember all that fabric I bought at the start of the year?) As it was my first shot at it I didn't want to use 'the good stuff' so I picked some random paisley fabrics and set to work. Soooooooo easy and quick. Providing all your paper shapes are the same size they will fit together - and thanks to the Silhouette mine were. Usually there is something that goes wrong with these projects but it all went quite smoothly - except for stabbing myself in the fingers multiple times. That's what I get for not wearing my glasses when I sew. Below is my first piece that I made into a pin cushion.

Then came other shapes - diamonds, jewels and hexies followed by a random little patch that I came across online (the picture is on Pinterest but I could not find the original document). It caused a few problems for me because I couldn't remember how to fit it together again. But once I figured it out my little fabric patch really appealed to me.

I have already picked up a few helpful tips though. I was whip stitching the sections together but ladder stitching them is actually a lot neater (see the photos below - the purple is the whip stitched piece, the orange/yellow is the ladder stitched piece). And instead of basting or tacking the fabric to the paper shapes I have started using a Sewline fabric glue pen which makes things much quicker.

 This little beauty arrived the other morning so I'm hoping to pick up a bit more information when I read it.

If you want to try it for yourself there is a plethora of 'how to' articles online. However, Messy Jesse Crafts has a really nice set of instructions on her blog. You can find the last of the instructions here but if you scroll to the bottom of the article there is an index of all the lessons. It's definitely worth a go.

Saturday, 8 August 2015


It's been ages since I did any jewellery making. Just as I don't have a thing for handbags, I don't have a thing for jewellery either. So I don't wear it very much. However, I do love beads and I recently came across beads and charms from Mykonos. I love them! As a student of ancient history I love all things Greek and these beads remind me of ancient Greek statues that have been covered in a patina of the ages. My first make using them was a tiny, delicate pair of silver earrings followed by a bag charm (apologies for the slightly out of focus photo).

Of course, I fell in love with the little Mykonos whale and he's been made into a necklace using silk cord. In the photo are a few more of my jewellery making attempts with recent bead purchases.


Sunday, 12 July 2015

A handbag!

I recently bought a handbag pattern from Charlie's Aunt on Etsy (Morston Key Messenger Bag). Now, I am not a handbag person. My 'handbag' is a canvas haversack that I have had for over 20 years and has been everywhere with me. However the patterns at Charlie's Aunt are rather unusual and not the norm. That was always going to appeal to me. So I bought myself some small amounts of tweed fabric in bright colours and gave it a shot. I think it turned out quite well.

I felt the bag would be a little big for my tastes so I shrunk the pattern down a little, just to 75 percent using the 'custom scale' settings in Adobe Reader's 'Print' settings. Now the finished bag is just the right size for me. The instructions are simple to follow and the tweed was not too difficult to work with using the sewing machine. I struggled a bit making the strap (a combination of multiple layers of tweed, interfacing and a narrow surface area) but I got there in the end - and it even worked out cheaper than buying a leather strap.

I may add a couple of handmade buttons to the tap and the pocket in the future. The jury is out on that right now. Truth is I'm wallowing in self satisfaction at making such a nice bag. Thanks, Charlie's Aunt.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Bank voles

As promised in my last post, I managed to get more painting done. I have been watching the bank voles in the garden scooting back and forward to the birds' feeding station. They are amazingly cute but I can't help but admire their ability to always keep on the go. I could do with some of their energy.

As usual, these two guys are available in my Etsy store.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Badgering my creative self

Finally badgered myself to paint some wildlife. Everything is coming alive here now and I really have to get more painting in. Baby bunnies everywhere, spring flowers in full bloom, horrible weather - but we can't have everything. I even rescued a toad this morning from a watering can and the bank vole has been running around like a mad thing, picking up the loose bird seed. Surely I can find something to paint among so much activity?

Friday, 1 May 2015

Zombie bear

I finally got around to sewing a zombie bear kit that I bought a few years ago. It's wonderful - has all the fabric you need, is easy to sew and very cute. He even has removable intestines. Mind you, I think he looks a bit more surprised than scary.

The kit is from DIY Fluffies on Etsy. You can also buy the digital pattern on its own so you can make it out of your own choice of fabrics.

Friday, 24 April 2015

New beads

It just occurred to me that I haven't told you about the new bead styles in my Etsy store - Vintage Italy, London and Frida. The pictures are below:

Monday, 13 April 2015

Adventures in dressmaking

Well, strictly speaking it's not dressmaking but skirt making and French knicker making. I signed up for (yet another) Craftsy course - Sew Ready: Garment Basics with Brett Bara. It was BRILLIANT! It concentrates on skirt making and the skirt pattern is included in the price (it took 2 or 3 weeks to get to the UK from the USA) but it is a thorough and simple course taught by an enthusiastic teacher. You are taken through each step of making the skirt, covering things like cutting the pattern shapes, seam treatments, adding facings, darts and the simplest instructions for adding a zipper that I have ever seen. I used calico/muslin to make my skirt and made it shorter than I would usually wear (just because I'm cheap and didn't want to waste good fabric if it was all going to go wrong) but it is undoubtedly the right shape.

The French knickers were not quite as successful, mainly due to my elastic sewing skills not being very good. There is too much stretch in the elastic after I'd stitched it in so the knickers won't actually stay up. Not the ideal pair of underwear. However, it hasn't put me off dressmaking. I have now signed up for Pant Construction Techniques so no doubt I'll be writing about how that course goes soon.