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July 2019

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Er, who turned up the heating?

July 27, 2019

I have really struggled with the heat this week, not least because my work room is upstairs in our timber framed old cottage and the sun blazes at it from early morning until afternoon, so it heats up and the walls retain the heat – phew!  Having checked the weather forecast for the week, I wasn't worried because I knew I'd do my usual thing and get all my cutting out and interfacing work done on Monday, machine stitch all day Tuesday, and then retreat to the much cooler downstairs rooms to do my hand sewing by the time it got really hot.  However, by 11am on Monday morning, it was clear that I should have ordered a new roll of interfacing the previous week…

So I bought a couple of emergency metres of interfacing which arrived on Wednesday and had more interfacing and machine stitching to do in the upstairs room on Wednesday and Thursday – the hottest days of the week at 38C or so!  I never do well in the heat anyway, but standing over the hot ironing table and sitting at the sewing machine in my little oven of a room just about finished me off!  None of this was helped by a lack of sleep due to the overnight heat and a little old man cat who likes to rise at 4am and chatter in my ear until I get up.  Complaints aside though, I was super happy with some of my finishes this week, including a little collection of Liberty lawn notions pouches:

I had been fabric swatching for these in my head over the weekend and was SO excited to get them made!  It's really a bit scary how excited I can get about fabric, but the obsession is real! 😀  I've tried hard to pick my favourite from this little crop, but I can't quite do it.  If you threatened to take my whole fabric stash from me if I didn't choose one, I might be tempted to pick the golden Capel one with the metallic lining.  Always the magpie!

My foxy purses have been popular this week again, as have cuddle whales.  The hottest Liberty purse has been this super pretty Emma and Georgina with a cherry red lining:

I also made one of these textural woven Ikat wristlet purses, which I haven't made in a while:

This is lined with a luxurious dupion silk in a rich golden colour, which I love working with.  I have some of this silk in a lilac colour too, which I haven't found a project for yet:

Among the project bags this week was this Liberty Lodden print in blue and green:

This was the last of this print apart from a small piece that's gone into my "too small to make anything very big with" box.  Whenever I make my last bag with a fabric that's still available, I always struggle with myself about whether or not to buy more of it, but I haven't decided on this one yet.

I thought that it might be fun to add a section to these weekly 'making journal' entries about what I've been listening to while I work. When the sewing machine is going, I tend to have music on, but the rest of the time, I'm listening to Audible and the book I'm listening to this week is particularly good:

Such a simple idea to look at Victorian life through the lens of the victims ascribed to 'Jack the Ripper', but nobody seems to have thought of it before!  Hallie Rubenhold has managed to explore so many facets of the Victorian woman's life by telling the stories of these five ladies lives, or what we know about them.  In documentaries and films on the subject that I've seen to date, they're portrayed as unfortunate cardboard cut out cliches, whereas each one had a very different life experience, from exhausted wife and mother, to writer and singer of ballads at executions; even if all those lives were to end the same violet way.   If you have any interest in the period / history generally, I'm sure you'll enjoy it as much as I have – it's so absorbing and totally focussed on their lives, rather than their deaths.

I'm looking forward to a cooler week next week and am happy to say that my new roll of interfacing arrived on Friday, so I can start the week right 😀

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Neep!

July 20, 2019

This week has been a bit busier in my Etsy shop, so no progress on any side projects like my Liberty quilt, or a mini quilt that I have planned for an RSPB quilt challenge – hopefully more on that next week.

A range of pieces made over the last few weeks have shown up again this week, although there's been a spin on a few of them, plus a few pieces that I haven't made in a while – a perfect mix!  The first spin make (pun intended!) was on my new swift storage bag, made to fit a Sunflower Swift, which has very different dimensions to a standard umbrella swift, and extra pegs that needed their own internal storage pockets:

This was my very first round bottom bag, which necessitated revisiting my maths education and a reintroduction to Pi.  I really wasn't great at maths, but I found some excellent resources on YouTube and soon got my head around the drafting of a pattern and the construction process.  I have to say that I probably won't be rushing back to repeat the experience as sewing the bottom to the main body is super fiddly on a sewing machine.  It would actually have been much easier to have sewn it by hand, but I didn't know that until I'd already done it by machine…

My next spin was a custom mini pouch for a regular customer who loves a grey background fabric and asked for my new little pouch made with the same fabrics as my new Bari J sewing case that I shared last week:

So cute and a great way to use the small amount of this fabric that I have left.  I currently have a pile of Essex Linens and Liberty Lawns from my "I don't have much of this" collection on my work desk that I'm going to make some pouches with.  I really enjoy making these little pouches, although they are pretty time consuming as they need quite a lot of hand sewing.

The most popular coin purses in the shop this week were this new bunny one:

My all time favourite Fox Nap purse:

And this Liberty June's Meadow one:

I made quite a few Liberty dpn cosies too:

And on the "haven't made this in a while" list were this fun Boston Terrier interchangeable tips bag:

And several crochet cotton wash cloths:

This was a timely order as I've been thinking a lot about the whole plastics debate recently and actively looking for ways to reduce our footprint with the things we use and buy.  Things like wash cloths are such an easy swap for the more convenient but plastic laden throwaway wipes, although I've personally always preferred washing my face (or at least rinsing it) with water.  The cottons I use for these are such lovely quality too – very soft on your face and last for ages – my current one has been washed many, many times and I think is into its 3rd year of service!

I also had an order for a sewing case this week in the ever popular Liberty 'Hesketh' print, so took the opportunity to make a new version of it, incorporating some of the new design ideas I've had.  It looks very much like its usual self on the outside:

The inside is pretty much the same at the front, but at the back, I've got rid of the scissor shaped pocket and added a large slip pocket to hold the scissors, which now also have a proper scissor keeper / fob, attached via a ribbon.  The scissors are kept in place both via their position in the case and by anchoring the ribbon on a super pretty oak leaf shank button from Textile Garden:

One of the things I knew I would miss from my original design was the button closure, so using a button inside in a different way was a great way to keep the beloved button involved!  The 'fob' is actually a mini matching pin cushion, which slips snuggly into the other section of the pocket beside the scissors.  I couldn't resist also adding a little silver scissor charm to this, which is a bit of an uncharacteristic fussy touch for me, but I think I like it:

Finally, the last make to be packaged up this week is something I've been working on for a while and is a gift for a friend's little boy.  I wish I could say that I enjoyed making this character, but I really didn't!  This was my very first Amigurumi make and I learned a lot in the course of making him – the main thing being never to use Stylecraft's Special DK yarn again!  The yarn is very soft and very cheap, but I found it very splitty and very hard to see when working it with a 2mm crochet hook to create the kind of small tight shapes that this pattern called for.  On the plus side, I'm quite pleased with how he eventually turned out (several parts were re-made, attached, removed and reattached several times!) .  He does at least look like the character he's supposed to be, although you probably won't recognise him unless you have young children in your life as he's from a very charming CBeebies programme called 'Abney and Teal' and his name is 'Neep':

The pattern is available on Ravelry and gives you directions to make all the various Neep shaped characters.  Hopefully, Oliver will like him and will be running around with him shouting: "Neep! Neep! Neep!" all day on his birthday on Monday! 😀

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Down the Rabbit Hole

July 13, 2019

I found myself down a sewing case rabbit hole this week, re-visiting favourite fabrics and thinking about tweaking my small sewing case design.  While tidying up the contents of one of my fabric drawers, I was thinking about trying a snap closure on my cases and I discovered a couple of small pieces of past favourite fabrics that were perfectly sized for a sewing case.  In a somewhat nostalgic mood, I started with a classic re-make of this Tilda case, without any changes to the design:

This fabric was used for one of my early sewing cases and for this latest one, I even used the same coconut shell button as on the original.  The only change from my original design is that I now knit the lurex closure loop, whereas I used to crochet it.

Next up was this lovely Bari J design, which I've used a number of times on larger custom cases as an accent print, but I never made a standard small case with it.  Looking in my button box, this little metal leaf button from Textile Garden seemed just perfect with it:

Of course, having found the button and fixed my mind on it, again the case basic design didn't change! 

Then, the next evening I was thinking about other favourite fabrics that would work for a sewing case and thought of a lovely Tilda print from her Bumblebee collection, which I used for my first sample tea bag case design.  I made that with just one small piece of the fabric that I had in a scrap pack from Billow Fabrics and I never had any yardage of it.  Of course, as soon as I went hunting for some yardage, it was sold out almost everywhere apart from Honeybee Cloths, so I bought a metre straight away (thank you Dawn – glad to have discovered your shop!):

Finally, my new closure could be tried out and I really do like it, although I feel torn about the absence of a button – choosing the button has always been one of my favourite things about making sewing cases…  I also decided to machine embroider the edge of the little pocket inside, which I usually hand embroider:

I love the look of the machine embroidery and whilst I enjoy doing the hand embroidery, I think that my perfectionist tendancies just prefer the totally symmetrical look of the machine stitches:

I kept everything else about the case the same and I really like this gold ribbon for the scissor keep against the Aloe green cotton lining:

One of the other design tweaks I'd been thinking about is getting rid of the ribbon for the scissor keep and replacing it with a fold over closure that snaps into place, but the ribbon offers a more flexible fixing that works for more than one size of scissor.  I think what I might do is start adding a second slip pocket at the back of the case that's split into two where the scissors could live.  That might also offer an opportunity to use a button again as I could sew one on to the pocket that could be used to anchor the cord of a traditional scissor keeper?  Or maybe I'll actually make a little matching scissor keeper that can be attached to any pair of scissors as well?!  I'll be trying that out next I think 😀

In my Etsy shop, my black and silver nani iro project bag has been popular this week:

As have my cuddle whales with my cat loving customers:

And, finally, my first order for my standalone new style feather fascinator toy came in this week, although I have already made several of them to go in cuddle boxes.  Hopefully several kitties should be having fun with their toys this weekend!

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“Variety’s the very spice of life, that gives it all it’s flavour”

July 6, 2019

That's what William Cowper said, and I think he was right!  I’ve certainly had a nice variety of things to work on this week, which is just as I like it.  My most popular coin purses at the moment are this Liberty Wild Flowers print – very appropriate for today as National Meadows Day

And this cute little Hedgehogs purse made with fabric from the Enchanted Forest collection, designed by Betsy Olmsted for Windham fabrics:

The same Hedgehogs have been popular as a dpn cosy too, as have the Fox Nap ones, which is a Tula Pink design and what I made my very first dpn cosy with:

I’ve also been making some project bags – this large Moon Gazing Hares bag is really popular at the moment:

The fabric is by Maureen Cracknell for Art Gallery Fabrics and I only have a small amount left.  The piece I’m working with now was bought from a Canadian Etsy seller and attracted a customs charge, but it was worth it to make some more of these bags with coral coloured sparkly Essex Linen!

This smaller zip bag is from the same Betsy Olmstead collection as the Hedgehogs fabric and has been a favourite in my shop for a while. I’m still looking for something to make with the small offcuts I have from making all the bags – lots of which feature the little bunnies.  I think I’ll have to patchwork something up with them and maybe make myself a scrappy little bag.

Talking about patchwork, the medium size of these Liberty patchwork drawstring bags headed off to Luxembourg this week:

Plus, I also finally stitched together the top of my Liberty strings quilt that I posted about last week:

The backing fabric for this has now been selected and I think I’m going to piece it in the old fashioned envelope style, machine stitch a nice border, and then hand tie the rest; possibly with the lower profile ‘hidden’ tie stitches.  Because the top is so busy with no borders or sashing, I don't think it needs a lot of quilting from an aesthetic point of view, and it is foundation pieced to the batting anyway, so certainly doesn't need it from that perspective either – all I'm really doing is attaching the backing.

It was also nice this week to have an order for one of these Tilda sewing cases as I haven't made one in a while:

Grey and pink are one of my favourite combinations and this rose print is so pretty.

I also put together a really cute order for someone in the US this week who was treating herself and her Mum, which included Hedgehog and Foxy dpn cosies, a Liberty brooch, a Woodland knot bag and even one of my little gift cards.  I wrapped each piece up separately before popping them into a postal box and I hope they’ll have great fun unwrapping everything when it arrives!