Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Season's Greetings


I would just like to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who has supported me over the last year - be it reading this blog, looking at my Facebook or Etsy pages or buying from me. Every set of eyes, enquiry or sale is greatly appreciated.

This coming year will hopefully see some changes to my work. I am not quite sure what they will be but personal changes brought about by everything from health issues to governmental rule changes mean I have to restructure my working practices. It's scary but I am hoping for better things in 2016.

In the meantime, Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it, my best wishes to those who don't and a happy New Year to everyone.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Buttons and threads

The last few weeks have been filled with Christmas commissions so not much crafting for me. I will be able to show most of the commissions after Christmas but in the meantime, here are some new buttons I have been making. I was practising using different colour combinations and even added a bit of sparkle here and there.








I used DMC threads for most of my buttons so I treated myself to an early Christmas present - DMC's thread colour card. It is brilliant. When shopping online for threads it can be qute difficult to find that ideal shade. Not now. I have samples of every perle and stranded cotton thread that DMC offer and can see exactly what colour it is. Hooray! It will make thread shopping much easier in future.


Sunday, 29 November 2015

Sewing circles

I came across a couple of interesting tutorials online this week. Both involved sewn circles used in festive ways. So when I managed to get a few hours to myself I gave them a shot. Neither took long - a couple of hours each at most - and they fulfilled my desperate need to sew after a heavy week of bead making.

The first was a folded fabric ornament by Crouton Crakerjacks on YouTube. Really simple but a lovely finished product. Mine is decorated with some ganutell holly leaves from a new kit by Gina-B Silkworks.


I also made a couple of smaller ones and added a snowflake button to one and some beads and a tassel to the other.


The next one was a little fabric angel by Selimut-ku. It is so very cute and would make nice little gifts for anyone who loves angels. As you can see, my guy has his head tilted to the side giving him a curious look.


One other little Christmassy sewing project is the new start for the top of the family Christmas tree. The current star was made by my sister when she was at primary school and it's looking a bit dog eared. In fact it was made of straw and only has thee points left out of the original twelve. So I made a paper pieced, quilted star in yellow with a yellow hand made button in the centre.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Sketches

I forgot to mention that I added a few new watercolour sketches to my Etsy store a wee while ago - from a cute little harvest mouse to a Christmas robin. Not to mention more badgers  - just because I love painting them.





Saturday, 14 November 2015

Even more buttons

Just a few pictures of buttons that I have made this week. I am up to my ears in art commissions for Christmas so there is not much time for other crafting. However I do have some new sets from Gina-B Silkworks to make up though so photos will be coming soon.


Friday, 6 November 2015

A resurgence of buttons


I've been on a button kick recently thanks to a new kit from Gina-B Silkwork. It's a snowflake button kit. The buttons are so charming and I got very excited when I opened the package with them inside. Couldn't contain myself, in fact. I dashed off and wrapped a few buttons as soon as I could. If you take a look at the link you can see some of my samples in the second photo (yes, I forgot to photograph my samples before sending them off again).


After that there was no stopping me. I love making buttons - thread wrapped buttons in particular - and after treating myself to some new size 8 perle threads I was wrapping up a storm.



This button in particular is one of my favourites. It is a 'rottweiler' button that I made in memory of Stanley. It is black and tan with a star in the middle to represent what a star he was to me.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

In memory of Stanley

I had some sad news last weekend. My sisters dog, Stanley (who I have blogged about on more than a few occasions), had to be put to sleep after a short illness. He was seven. What started as a broken claw escalated and eventually even the vet didn't know what the problem was. It has made me very sad. He was my Gummy Bear, Cuddly Buddly, Flopsy Mopsy and many other names of endearment besides. He was the most wonderful, fun, challenging, goofy and loving dog I have ever known. I will miss his visits more than I can say.



Saturday, 10 October 2015

Curiosities

Anyone who knows me knows about my love of both ancient history and natural history. So it probably will not come as a surprise that I have a little museum all of my own. In the past it would probably have been called a curiosity cabinet and it houses all kinds of treasures - from things I have found to things I have been given and even those I have bought. I thought I'd give you a little peek at it


There are ancient Greek arrowheads and pottery jars, a Roman oil lamp and brooch, Roman and Byzantine coins, a small Egyptian amulet, Chinese pottery, an African marimba, prehistoric woods, fossils, rocks, minerals and shells, to name but a few. It is a great source of inspiration to me. To think that people in the distant past and from foreign lands handled some of these items gives me goosebumps. It fuels my love of these subjects and piques my curiosity every time I look in it. It's my very own little treasure trove.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Bunny-fluff

My latest commissioned painting. I had to hold off posting it online because it was for a gift. It was happily received, I am glad to say.


Wednesday, 16 September 2015

101 uses for a glasses case


 OK, not really, it's just one use. This idea came from Pinterest but when I saw it I immediately knew it was genius. Using a glasses case to make a mini sewing kit. 


Mine is a mini English paper piecing kit and includes two spools of thread, a fabric glue stick, a seam ripper, two needle threaders, a thimble and a finger guard, tiny card hexagons and a needle case – made from paper pieced hexies, of course. 



I cannot tell you how handy it is. It sits on my desk and I always know where it it. It also means I don't have to wrestle with my big sewing box to find a needle and it's portable and safe. Because it is a hard case there are no needles/seam ripper stabbing me randomly because they have poked out of the fabric/bag I have put them in. I picked up the glasses case on eBay for less than £2 - so nice and affordable too.

There is no end to the possibilities for this idea – mini painting kit (shortened paint brushes, pencil, tubes of paint); drawing kit (short pencils, rubber, paper stumps); even a mini make-up kit (mascara, eyeliner, lipstick, cotton bud, tissue) or first aid kit (sticking plasters/band aids, individually packaged anti septic wipes, cotton wool balls, small pair of scissors). Thanks Pinterest. Another great idea.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Ahoy!

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 paper beads for the new season

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

Jewellery


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.