Saturday, 29 December 2012

Christmas cushions - some more patchwork, dinosaurs and holly

A homemade Christmas present selection wouldn't be complete without a few cushions - so here are the ones I made this year.

Patchwork for 3 year old Oliver, mini dinosaurs for 2 year old Leo
And here is other side of the patchwork cushion (of course, they weren't matching!).

Finally, a Christmas cushion for Liz to add to her wonderful Christmas decorations each year.

I reckon it could be used all year round.... :)

Draught excluder snake - with a buttonhole fastening

Al's sister Liv asked for a draft excluder with a removable cover for Christmas, so I had a go at making one with a big piece of blue corduroy from Our Patterned Hand. I got the inners from Lancashire Textiles online.

His stuffed felt forked tail appears to be slightly folded under here. Oops.
As well as buttons for eyes, I used a button to fasten him together at the bottom end. This is the first time I have used the buttonhole foot on my sewing machine. It's very clever, you put the button into the foot and it creates a hole to fit it.

Button hole foot in action.
Here's the finished button hole and button.

And here is Liv enjoying her snake :)

Mug jumpers

My only foray into knitting beyond scarves, I made these mug jumpers from some leftover wool on 10mm needles. To add the handle hole, I cast off five stitches in the middle, then cast back on again next row. The button I attached with wool. No need for an extra buttonhole as the knitting itself was loose enough to poke a button through wherever you needed it.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Personalised bags for Ivy and Poppy

I decided to use some left over corduroy to make little handbags for Alex's neices Ivy, aged 5 and Poppy aged 3. They were simple little things, with pink binding and a wooden button. I appliqu├ęd the letters I and P onto the flap and added some butterfly, ladybird and flower buttons. 

Photographed under the Christmas tree at home.

The flower bag was a prototype

 I wanted to get pictures of the girls wearing them, but in the chaos of Christmas with small people, it wasn't easy and all the ones I took were blurred.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Christmas scarves

After a long break where I spent most of my 'making things' time on my sewing machine, I did a bit more knitting in the run up to Christmas. I'm still really only any good at knit stitch - so it's all about simple scarves. The wool for both of these came from Bibelot in Leek and they were knitted with 10mm needles. I added tassels to the end of this one for Mum, which made it look a bit more exciting. I haven't done tassels before, so I have no idea if I did them right. I cut three lengths of wool and folded them in half (to make a tassel of six strands). I then pushed the loop made by folding them in half through the wool at the end of the scarf, threaded the tassel ends through it and gently pulled them tight.

I thought Dad might like his left tassel free.

And here is Tilly the family dog modelling Dad's scarf... she's a natural.

What a good girl :)

Cycle doodles with porcelain pens

Another go with the porcelain pens, this time to make plates for a couple of cyclist friends. Jess's looks a bit better as hers was the second one I made...

Porcelain pens on eggcups and toast plates

Alex's mum Liz bought me some porcelain pens for my birthday. I bought some plates from a charity shop, and plain egg cups from a kitchen store, and made some Christmas presents.

Alex wanted me to write good egg and bad egg and then let my parents fight it out between them, but I went for a less controversial approach! 

When painted, you need to fire them in the oven at 150 degrees C for 35 mins to fix them.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Homemade and recycled Christmas tree decorations

Christmas trees and their decorations are one of my favourite parts of the Christmas period. In my family home we added more decorations, often homemade, each year. Now, decorating the tree becomes a reminder of all the Christmases and years past. Each decoration is familiar and friendly, all too easily forgotten until you unwrap it from its newspaper or get it out of its box. And everything looks great on a Christmas tree, whether an intricate and delicate bauble, a fir cone covered in glitter or a santa claus made with cotton wool and red cardboard in playgroup.

I've been very aware of what I post about Christmas after writing this blog post on Christmas, making comparisons and mental health. However, I couldn't help but share my own collection of decorations as it starts to grow. My favourite are these Christmas mice. They are made from the inside of an eggbox (a six pack of eggs can make two mice), sprayed gold or silver and then decorated with glitter, beads and wire. A pipe cleaner tail attached to the back can help hold them on to the tree.

I also really like these butterflies. I made these with craft paper from Cowling and Wilcox from a tutorial in the Guardian family section last year. Cut a circle and a square and fold in half to make an oval and a triangle. Fold the paper like a fan into the central folds of each and then squash together at the centre. Wrap wire or thread around to hold them together. I added beads and ribbons too.

The wire can be used to hold them in the tree.

And of course, your spraypainted and glittery fircone. I made one last year while volunteering at Radio Lollipop for Great Ormond St hospital.In fact, you can spray any twigs, fircones or leaves silver or gold, add some glitter and attach them to the tree!

This holly decoration has lasted three years now - the silver spray must preserve it!
This owl is made from half a strip of cut and folded old book with mince pie cases for eyes.

And here is the tree in all it's homemade glory.

Monday, 26 November 2012

A tale of a fairy lost in London and found on a birthday cake

This entry should really be one for the '@apickup1 makes' blog - were it to exist. He worked on most of this gift for his niece Ivy's fifth birthday and it definitely deserves an entry here.

Ivy is a big fan of fairies - and, more recently, lego. Alex cycled round London taking pictures of a small lego fairy in front of various monuments. He got some strange looks from tourists, especially when he got out the fake snow.

Ida looking for Ivy by the Thames

He used his photoshop skills to take out his hand and to add fairy sparkles and snow.

He also wrote a story about a lego fairy called Ida who sat on a shelf in our house. She saw a little girl called Ivy who came to visit and wanted to go and find her again.

There she is on the shelf in our house, in front of all my diaries (which you can read about here on my other blog where I've written a piece about journalling and mental health). She searched all round London to find Ivy.

Ida in front of one of London's landmarks.

Finally, exhausted, she goes to sleep in Trafalgar Square. In a flurry of warm white snow the Father Christmas of the Living Toys appears and grants her a wish - he will magic her to Ivy on her birthday. But Ivy must keep a look out for her.....

After writing the story, he sent it off to get printed as a photo book.

Ida travelled with us up north for the weekend and was safely deposited on top of the fairy garden cake - which I decorated the evening before.

Note the ivy leaves made out of icing and the icing toadstalls:)

On the day of Ivy's party, we gave Ivy her book before her birthday lunch.

I read it to her and her twin cousins. She looked for Ida all over the house but it wasn't until her birthday lunch that Ida appeared...

Ivy was gratifyingly pleased to find Ida on her cake.

Those of you who follow my blog will recognise Flower the meercat - who doesn't seem to be wearing her dress.

The whole present was a big success - well done Uncle Alex,

Saturday, 24 November 2012

A farewell octopus - a felt applique card

Yesterday, my manager of four years left the charity where I work. He's looked after a team of seven for a long time now, and I wanted to make him a card to recognise that.

The octopus probably needs some explanation. He's our mascot, much appreciated by the young people in our community, given out as prizes (until recently when we sent out the last one!) and photographed all over the world.  It's Octi who I hope to dress up as when running the London Marathon next year. On his legs are all the members of our team.

Team Engagement and Support

I did realise that actually it has turned out looking like a felt version of those cards (or teatowels) we all make in primary school where everyone draws a very simple face on a circle! And in addition, I got my own parting the wrong way round. But at least Octi is recognisable.

And it was fun to make.

A cut out Octi ready to be appliqued. 

Appliqued felt, with the faces glued on and then stitched through the eyes to hold them in place.

Monday, 19 November 2012

A lego sewing machine

My sewing machine is playing up again, so while I hoped to share with you the printer cover I'm in the middle of making (exciting times), it's going to have to wait.

However, I could't resist sharing this wonderful 3D card I got for my birthday recently. It's my Brother sewing machine, crafted from bits of lego from the 'random bits box' Alex recently rescued from his parents' attic. It's got a place for the cotton reel, bobbin and needle - and it's threaded up about as accurately as a lego machine could ever be. I love it.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

A new outfit for Flower the meercat

This is Flower the meercat. As you can see she is dressed and ready for any social occasion, accessories included.

But she wasn't always so delightfully encased in flowery material. In fact only days ago when she arrived at our house in the company of 4 year old Ivy, Flower was naked and furry.

At Ivy's request, we decided to make her a dress. Instead of choosing one type of material as instructed, Ivy chose five and wanted to use them all. We cut heart shapes from all of them and I sewed them on to a simple dress shape.

Ivy enjoyed laying out the hearts and choosing buttons.

Next morning, you could tell by Flower's expression that she was excited to have a new dress to put on. Ivy seemed pleased too.

And we finished the outfit with ladybird shoes and a belt.

Ivy's mum and dad laughed when they saw Flower's outfit. Can't think why :)

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Giant cushion covered in trees

My brother Paul told me his girlfriend Jo had two large cushions that she liked the size and feel of, but didn't like the covers. He secretly measured them and I made her a cover for her birthday. I'll cover the other one for Christmas.

Beautiful flowers from Ben and my homemade pincushion in the background. We took some roses for Jo too.

Alex chose the material from Our Patterned Hand. He said it felt like the sort of pattern where you might get home and find it's full of naked people hiding behind the trees. 

No naked people here though;

We went to visit them both in Oxford and Jo modelled her cushion cover for us. Luckily it fitted really well.

Have you done any cushion modelling before Jo?

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Autumnal coloured craftings..

Dad's birthday is in October, and he loves autumnal colours. For a long time he's been hinting after a cushion for room he rents when he is away for work. I used a mixture of coloured felt in browns, oranges, reds and yellows and some printed cotton pieces - the first time I've mixed felt and cotton.

Here's one side;

And here's the other;

I also had another go at using the embroidered letters setting on my machine - this time using the smallest, fanciest stitch. It worked quite well  - except for the 'from' - I don't think I was pulling the material through the machine fast enough.

After I'd sent it, I remembered that last year I made an autumnally coloured gift for Dad too - a card of leaves in pastels;