Monthly Archives:

May 2013

All posts

ribbon weaving

May 26, 2013

After making my first piece of fabric from woven ribbons the other week, I’ve definitely got into it.  I ordered up a range of ribbons from Fantastic Ribbons so that I could make some more fabric.  Although I had found the 3mm ribbon I used for the first piece fiddly, I love the look of it when it’s made up, so I went with that width again.

The one thing that I didn’t enjoy so much with the weaving the first time around was having to stand at the ironing board to pin out the ribbons, which takes quite a while.  So, my solution was to hit ebay and buy a portable ironing board – one of those you use on a table top / keep in a caravan (not that I’ve ever had a caravan, but I understand that’s what people do with them!).  It was a very worthwhile investment for £10.  This time around, I could sit on the sofa with the board on my knee and take my time comfortably, so I enjoyed it all the more!  The cover on the portable board isn’t the prettiest, but it definitely did the job.

I think I will make another ring pillow with this new piece of fabric.  The colours are silver, lilac, pale lilac and pale blue so I think I will make a silver coloured rose to go with them and this time try a more contemporary square shaped style, without the lace edging.

I strongly recommend giving ribbon weaving a go if you haven’t before.  All you really need is the board (you could also use a piece of thick cardboard I think), a small piece of iron on vilene (I used 180, which is lightweight), the ribbons and lots and lots of pins!

All posts

what is Pinterest?

May 24, 2013

Pinterest gets what’s in your head, out into the world at the same time, puts new stuff in!

I’m pretty brand new to Pinterest and until the other night had thought of it as just a place where I can look at lots of pretty things and some stunning photography.  This is nice enough in and of itself, but having stayed up late a couple of days ago frantically pinning to one of my new boards, I think I’ve figured out what the attraction is now.

We all have heads crammed full of thoughts, memories, ideas and dreams – maybe some people have more or less than others, and I guess that the power to get into your head and enjoy it all will differ from person to person too – but sometimes, it can be difficult to communicate about it all, or share it with others.

I’m not suggesting that Pinterest can bridge this communication gap on its own – a photograph taken by somebody else can never be a pure expression of that one perfect vision you have of something, be it a memory or an idea, but it helps you flesh out aspects of your vision for others to see.  The board I stayed up late pinning to was my Fashion board, which is full of all the clothes I would wear if I were taller, slimmer and much, much richer.  It isn’t the materialistic side of fashion that I love so much (although that is the side that is probably to the fore in our currently materialistic society), it is the aesthetic – the fabrics, the colours, the textures and ideas being expressed by so many creative minds and how they use that creativity to make something beautiful so immediately accessible.

What I think I’ve done with my Fashion board is a couple of things: I’ve captured some of the images that flash though my mind when I think of fashion and got them out of my head, and I’ve also captured some new images to put into my head that I’ll use in the future to inform and inspire my own creativity.

Yup – Pinterest is cool.

All posts

window on the forest – done!

May 21, 2013

I finished this quilt at the end of last week and am really pleased with it.  I find that when I choose the fabrics for a quilt I love them, but that doesn’t always last when the quilt is made.  In this case, it definitely does and I already have a new stash of fabrics from this collection in a drawer in the studio to make window in the forest version 2…

Whilst I would usually use a different fabric for the binding on a quilt from that in the outer border, for this one I used the same in both because so that the overall look of the quilt could be a 9 pane window within a frame that was set in a wallpapered wall – hopefully it works!


The fabric used for the back of the quilt is really pretty and is from the same Sarah Watts ‘Timber & Leaf’ collection for Blend Fabrics.


I’ve used utility stitches to tie the quilt in a range of cotton perle thread colours: light blue, warm brown, deep orange and a pale yellow for the animal squares, which gives a subtle effect and, of course, these colours echo the colours used in the fabrics too.

Now onto the next!

All posts

vintage crafts

May 20, 2013

Having been interested in all things hand made related for most of my life means that I have some quite old design and craft books.  There are several of these books that are very worn looking because I have spent many a happy hour leafing through the pages and looking at the projects.  Until recently, when I managed to get off the rat race merry go round (whether I can make this a permanent change remains to be seen!), I didn’t have a lot of time to attempt that many of the projects, especially those that needed some time to learn new techniques.

There was one particular project in this book that I always wanted to make and now, finally, I have!  The book project intends this to be a lavender pillow or a pincushion, but I think it is much nicer (with a few tweaks) as a wedding ring pillow.

The pillow front is made with woven ribbon in shades of mint, cream and cool and hot pink, and the back is ivory handloom silk dupion.  Cream lace trims the edges and a hand rolled ribbon rose sits over the ring ribbons.  I’ve never done ribbon weaving to make a fabric before and I suspect that I made learning the technique harder than it needed to be by choosing this project, which calls for working with 3mm wide ribbon – fiddly!  I did quite enjoy the process though and I love the look of the finished fabric.

My own wedding at Saffron Walden registry office was a very fun and very small affair with just the two of us and our two witnesses, Clare and Lawrence.  I have some brilliant and amusing memories of the day and one of the more amusing moments was seeing our wedding rings placed on a pillow of apricot coloured polyester and nylon lace, which was what the registrar whipped out for disorganised couples who hadn’t provided their own.   I guess that memory has stayed with me more than I thought and maybe this little pillow is an antidote to that!

Ribbon wedding ring pillow

All posts

picnic anyone?

May 18, 2013

When Mark (husband) and I were out walking last weekend, we were talking about doing a fun photo shoot outdoors with some Tilda figures and decided that as soon as the summer finally did arrive, we would do a picnic shoot.

We’re going to need a few props of course and I thought it would be fun to have a miniature set set, so I had a look at toy sets on the net, but they didn’t look quite right.  I then started looking at lots of vintage toy tea services, many of which were nice, but a bit pricey just to use as props and then stick in a cupboard.  I do already have an old small china set that a lady gave me when I was a child, but that is too precious to use as a prop, so that was out too.

As has often happened in the past, a trip to our town’s ‘vintage’ shop (to be more accurate, it is really one of those old fashioned kind of 2nd hand shops with no patina of the modern vintage style!) provided the solution – this cute little vintage Japanese tea set.  Apparently, many toy tea sets were imported into the UK during the 20th century and I have no idea which decade this one hails from.  I haven’t found any pictures on the net of anything similar, but that’s not to say it is at all unusual.

I’d love to know which era this particular set is from but it isn’t a big deal – it is a pretty little set and will be perfect for the Tilda picnic tea party!

All posts

window on the forest, part 3

May 15, 2013

So I’ve just given my hands a little spa experience in front of the TV.  After several days of sewing, they needed it.

The quilt top was pieced several days ago (which was when the picture above was taken) and yesterday, I put together the backing, inner batting and top to make the quilt ‘sandwich’ and basted it all together with hand stitches.  I also started adding the quilting stitches yesterday and I’ve worked at it all day today to get it finished – which it is – yay!  Tomorrow I’ll make the binding, square the quilt (where you trim it and make all the edges square and straight) and start adding the binding.  I really enjoy adding the binding, I like the challenge of making my hand stitches as invisible as possible.

I’ve enjoyed realising this quilt design so much that I’ve ordered some more fabric to make another version of the quilt.  It will look quite a bit different, but will be based on the same basic design.

I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed the actual process of making the quilt, which becomes a kind of personal ritual as you find your own way of making a quilt.  There’s the really fun stage of designing and planning followed by the stressful cutting part. Then you bring the pieces together, which for me involved lots of hand sewing with the TV on in the background.  This is also a stage that gives me a good workout as I have to run up and down the stairs to press each part as it is completed and pin up and baste the next part.  As I have a tendency to leave something in the upstairs studio or in the downstairs living room (tape measure, scissors, pins, thread – sometimes even the pieces I’ve been stitching), I go up and down the stairs dozens of times a day in the piecing stage.  Next comes the sandwiching, basting and quilting, which I tend to do in the studio over a few days with an audio book playing and finally, the binding, which will see me back in front of the TV, relaxing with my hand stitching.

Once the quilt is finished, I will then have to find a couple of smaller quicker projects to stop myself from jumping straight into the next quilt, which I know is what I will be itching to do – quilting can be addictive!


All posts

window on the forest part deux – sharp edges

May 7, 2013

I’m definitely a wuss when it comes to cutting fabric.  For one thing, I love the fabric so why would I want to chop it up and, for another, I am ridiculously clumsy and am not usually allowed anywhere near implements with sharp edges yet, here I am again, wielding two such implements: a rotary cutter and a big pair of fabric scissors.  They’re both sharp; really sharp…

After spending the first couple of hours of the working day hopping about the internet and avoiding said sharp implements / prevaricating about cutting up the lovely fabric, I finally went to the cutting board and got on with it.  Not too bad this time – only a couple of disasters:

  1. Mmm, didn’t buy quite enough of one fabric to do what I wanted to with it – thank you Celtic Fusion Fabrics for sending me a bonus fat quarter with my bundle – that will come in very handy
  2. Ooops!  Musn’t forget to keep rotary cutter right up next to the ruler when cutting – when I don’t do this, rotary cutter wanders off in non-straight line and ruins one of the 7 inch squares I just cut that should have yielded 4 triangles.  Back to mat and cut another square to make some replacement triangles from fabric I only just have enough of.

This quilt also calls for some ‘fussy cutting’ of fabric – something that horrifies my fabric magpie inner being – it is SO wasteful!  I had to work very hard at concentrating on the job in hand and not letting my mind run rampant over possible ideas for using up all the offcut fabric.  On the up side, the fussy cutting part of this is kind of the heart of the project design, so I really do need to get over it.

At least I can now start sewing the pieces together – bliss (note to self – do not question yourself about why you are spending hours cutting fabric up and sewing it back together).


All posts

window on the forest

May 4, 2013

I love looking at fabrics and yarns and often spend hours floating around the net looking at what’s out there.  Apart from the simple pleasure of window shopping, you never know when inspiration will strike.  I have recently discovered this shop, which has a great selection of fabrics, including Blend Fabrics.

Looking through the Blend fabrics Celtic Fusion Fabrics had in stock one evening a few weeks ago, I fell in love with Sarah Watts’ Timber & Leaf collection.  The memory of it seemed to stick in my head until I woke up the next morning because I had an undeniable urge to make a quilt with it, and I was pretty sure how I wanted it to look.  I rushed to turn on the computer, work out the amounts of fabric I needed for my idea and put in the order, quick sticks!

The fabric bundle arrived shortly afterwards and I’m planning to start the quilt next week.  My idea is essentially to create a window in the centre of the quilt through which the forest creatures of the fabric can be seen.  It looks brilliant in my head – I now just have to make it happen!  Gulp…

All posts


May 2, 2013

When I was designing the coffee sleeve cups that are for sale in the shop, I wanted a stitch pattern that would give me a nice thick finish to properly protect the fingers and insulate the cup, but also that would create a diagonal line pattern around the cup, which I thought would look nice.  I decided to try out a new crochet stitch (to me that is), the ‘ripple’ stitch to see how that would look as it seemed to have some substance to it, although it didn’t look diagonal.  However, when you join it at the chain and work it in the round, it is totally diagonal – yay!

I love the look of this ripple stitch when done in the round – it is really feminine and there is something quite flower like about it.  So, I wanted to do something else with the stitch, and thinking back to how I scaled up another cup sleeve design recently to a cowl (the floppy cowl in the shop), I thought I would try a cowl and see how it looked.

There is something a bit magical about being a bit of a low tech crocheter – I don’t really know enough to know how things I dream up will look when I’ve made them up!  That can mean that you waste a lot of time making something you’ve dreamt up that ends up looking like a dog’s dinner, but it can equally mean that you end up with something that is surprisingly better than you thought it would be – which is nice!

Anyway, I got the latter result with this ripple stitch cowl.  When I’d finished it, I liked the look and feel of the stitches and was pleased with how the yarn worked for it (Rowan’s Kid Classic), but initially, it didn’t look that inspiring – really just a pretty tube.  However, when I put it on the mannequin, I was really chuffed – it drapes beautifully and is structured enough to be shaped in different ways for different looks.

Kind of makes up for all the times my great ideas have turned out to be dog’s dinners!