Brrrrrrrrrr!! No draughts here thank you!

….Not in this owner’s home anyway! I made this a little while back (as a Christmas pressy actually) for someone who a) had a draughty home and b) also liked sewing and knitting. And what could be more perfect!

I love the detail you can get with free-hand machine applique! And I love these bright colours of the sewing items, of which I tried to include recognisable items; things I’m pretty sure every sewer owns…a pin cushion, those scissors!

Nicholas’s Quilt

G’day! Oooh how I wish I was in Australia right now with this blustery weather we’re having! Well just let this cheery brightness add some sunshine to your day instead…

My latest baby quilt is for Nicholas, son of my friend’s Laura and Frenchie (aka Richard) who turned the special age of 1 year old in October. Laura and Frenchie, originally from Birmingham, now live all the way across the other side of the world in Australia so this quilt has gone across sea and land to reach them.

I love the colours – quite different to what I normally use, but with Birch Organic’s prints of camping, guitars, trees, birds, I think is gorgeous, and the orange-brightness I felt fit with the ‘sunny-ness’ people tend to associate with Australia.

I used both traditional applique as well as free-hand machine applique, and felt and fabric to decorate the four outer patches: the rocket, the hot air balloon, the teepee, and the boat. I’m currently loving quotes from Dr Seuss so included ‘Oh, the places you’ll go’ with the hot air balloon.

Central, as per is the norm on my baby quilts, is Nicholas’ name. And…I had to squeeze something Aussie in there…hence the cheeky felt koala.

More Christmassy makes

So I’ve mostly been busy with personalised Christmas stockings over the past couple of weeks since posting my first lot and then the patchwork ones.

However, these next few have been a bit more bespoke…

After seeing the first few with the reindeer, angel and gingerbread man design, I was asked if I could make a similar one but swap the fabrics so the main stocking was red and spotty. I was asked to make this for a little 8 month old girl: Mared (which means ‘Pearl’ in Welsh I’ve now learnt!) by her mum, Jessica.

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I was also asked if I could use a ‘M’ as well as her full name for the personalisation and a simple picture such as a snowflake.

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‘I’ve just opened your gorgeous parcel to find the most beautiful stocking inside. It is just perfect and something that both Mared and I shall treasure for a very long time to come … Thank you so much.’  Jessica, Mared’s mum.

Unlike my own designs, another stocking I have recently made was not from my own creation – I was sent a picture and asked to make a similar design. I did make a few small changes, however, and still thought the finished item was pretty cute!

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Again, this stocking was for a little lady: Ada. I emailed Ada’s mum, Natalie, a pic once I had posted the stocking and she loved it but was waiting to collect the parcel from the post office. I received a lovely email once Natalie had collected the stocking…

‘It was the stocking and of course I love it even more in the flesh, I actually felt quite emotional when I saw it. My daughter is only 1 but this will be her forever stocking (my mum still does mine at 33!!!) so it will be treasured for a long time to come.
Thank you so much for fitting our brief perfectly and with such beautiful craftsmanship.’ Natalie, Ada’s mum.
I’ve also made a Santa Sack for my nephew, Jacob. It’s nice a big for all his pressies!
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I decorated the bag with a felt Santa, fabric applique presents which have hand-embroidered ribbons and the words: ‘Ho ho ho’. Plus his name which again is appliqued fabric and i’ve hand-sewn a running stitch around the letters for a bit of extra detail.
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The main sack is made from a medium weight red checked linen, and lined for extra strength.
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The bag has a drawstring ribbon tie which I added small felt Christmas trees to the ends.

And finally (apart from a few Christmas presents) I’ve done some free-hand machine embroidered Christmas cards.

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Sarah’s Houses

Every year I like to make birthday pressies for my good friends and as the years pass by it’s getting harder and harder to come up with new (and good friend-worthy) gift ideas.

My friend Sarah lives in the most lovely house…it’s one of those quirky old buildings that’s been around for years and years with loads of character. She is currently in the middle of some decorating so I thought I would make her something housey…in more than one sense of the word!

The first is a draught excluder…well, we are getting old and the nights are drawing in! Plus Sarah’s house, whilst it may have been standing hundreds of years but with it’s higgledy piggledy walls is sure to let some cold winter air through somewhere.

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I used a medium weight fabric to ensure it’s hard-wearing qualities and decorated it with mini houses, trees and bunting using free-hand machine embroidery.

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The second little gift is an actual house, or a door stop to be more exact. I did it in the same fabrics and colours as to match the draught excluder, and again used free-hand machine embroidery to decorate the front (including the name of Sarah’s house over the door).

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Toby’s Picture Book

I made this little picture book for my friend Sam’s little boy Toby, for his first birthday. I always think it’s nice to give something special for a first birthday and this project was certainly a labour of love.

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Initially, I thought this project, whilst a nice gift, would be relatively simple and straight forward, which in practice it could have been! But oh no, I seem to get these ideas popping up in my head as I’m going along and as soon as I’ve thought of them, I have to do it otherwise I feel like I’m cheating or cutting corners! So what could have been a quick project, turned out to be quite a task…but totally worth it! I love how it turned out and feel pretty proud of the end result. Toby and his mum and dad loved it too.

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To start, like most of my more detailed projects, I like to draw them out to make sure the layout and design looks right (and the keep referring to so I don’t forget what I’m doing along the way!)

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I chose six different printed fabrics, all in nice bright colours but with subtle prints, nothing to detailed to loose the picture amongst.

Each fabric was to make up in total ten pages in the book plus the front and back cover.

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I wanted each page to be pretty, with a fun picture for Toby to look at and use for learning objects, but I also wanted to put a little bit of meaning behind the pictures so I decided to use some nice quotes and phrases that were relevant.

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Some quotes I choose after the object e.g. To my sailing boat, I found a nice lyric from a Van Morrison song ‘Into the Mystic’ which fitted well: ‘Smell the sea and feel the sky, let your soul and spirit fly. Plus Anth (Toby’s dad) is a big music fan so that added something else a little special.

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Other quotes I choose before I’d decided on a picture, so then came up with an image that worked; so I wanted to use that old familiar rhyme for little boys: ‘Frogs, snails and puppy dog tails’ to which I added an appliqué dog.

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To make the book more interesting for Toby to look at and touch, I used a mixture of fabric, felt; both regular appliqué and also free-hand machine appliqué, hand-embroidered letters, and buttons.

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Once all the pages were designed, the putting together part was easy! Each page has a piece of wadding between the layers to make it nice and padded.

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I finished the book by adding a ‘Happy 1st Birthday’ to the back cover, edged the covers with a running stitch and added a button and ribbon for the closing.

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I currently have another on the go for a little lady’s first birthday in December and, the way time is flying, I best get cracking…

Crafty Card Making.

No, I haven’t changed craft direction – my heart still stays true to the needle. However, I have been delving into a bit of card making. I actually don’t remember the last time I bought one.

Using my new obsession that is free-hand machine embroidery, for every birthday I whizz up [not as speedily as it sounds] a hand-made card.

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An extra special one for Mr C’s birthday…

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Also to my collection includes a Mother’s Day card.

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Sure there will be plenty more!

Girly Totes

I’ve recently been asked to make a few bags as girly gifts – you can never have too many bags right!

The briefs for the first two were pretty different, reflecting the girl’s styles and loves. One was to be a pretty typically girly type with flowers, frills, shopping and the key important feature…a little black doggie (I even got emailed a photo…always welcome a cute puppy pic!).

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And the second bag…guess what the brief for this was? Yep you guessed it – the lady who was to receive it, Amanda, her pride and joy is her cream with a black soft top VW Beetle. Although I’m pretty sure it doesn’t have flower print tyres!

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This was probably the most trickiest free-hand I’ve done to date..I had to make a paper template first and cut it all up into small sections. I think, on close inspection, the perspective is not quite perfect but I guess that’s what makes it unique right?

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The final two were more similar…for a mum and mother-in-law. Both keen gardeners…

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Annabelle’s Quilt.

Remember my post in January about learning new skills? Well, here is the first skill (i.e. free hand machine embroidery) in action for real (as opposed to the cute, but quite simple, little cards!)

This is a quilt I made for my friend Jane who had her baby Annabelle in December.

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I wanted to incorporate something that was personal to Jane and her husband Marcus which is where the birds come in. Jane and Marcus were married in September 2011 and they had a bird and heart theme to their wedding day (complete with heart and bird shaped cookies as favours that Jane – also a crafty one – made herself!). It’s the birds I am most pleased with on this quilt…

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I think it’s pretty safe to say that there is not an ounce on masculinity in this quilt! Jane is a  pretty girly person so I used subtle pastel pink and green floral and spotty fabrics for the colours, and edged the whole thing in super pretty lace binding (which is a very exciting new discovery for me!).

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However, knowing he is an enthusiast, just for Marcus I added the little scooter (sorry it wasn’t bright red Marcus like your actual scooter, but that wouldn’t have matched my colour scheme!)

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The layout of the patchwork is very similar to Ava’s quilt that I made around the same time as this, but with more subtle and fewer colours, and the centre panel is different, being personalised to the new mum and dad and their baby.

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I also, as I mentioned, wanted to try out my skills in free hand machine embroidery! It was a bit risky and, at first, I thought it was looking a bit messy but now I’m so pleased I did, as I think (if I say so myself!) it looks fab! I’m sure I will be featuring free hand a lot more in my work (hopefully seeing some improvements)…it is, after all, the ‘crack cocaine of the sewing world‘ according to Kirstie Allsopp!

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New year, new skills.

Instead of getting bogged down with the ‘churning out’ way of working I seemed to have been doing the past year and half, in order to just cross things off the ‘to do’ list and make sure they are done in time, I have decided this year to take on board the wise words of Mr C who keeps telling me…’more haste, less speed‘.

This comment is usually in response to me having a mini melt-down over some finished personalised item that I was proud of until the heart dropping realisation I’ve spelled said person’s name incorrectly! (Seriously, you’d think I’d learn from just doing this the once…not me, think I’m on melt down number five or six at least!)

I’ve realised if I take more time to think about what I am making and to learn new techniques, my items may be more interesting to make as well as how they look, and could also save me time in the long run. Plus, I may finally try a few things I have wanted to try for ages!

Free Hand Machine Embroidery. The first of these new techniques is free hand embroidery. I love the way free hand embroidery looks. I’m always doodling and l love the rough look style of sketches so, combining this and a sewing machine…what could be better? Last year I took a workshop in free hand machine embroidery and found it was surprisingly easier than I thought it was going to be. However, I never actually got around to trying it on my own projects until a few weeks before Christmas. I entered a competition advertised on The Sewing Directory and won a Free Hand Machine Embroidery book, hoop and threads which kick started me on my way…

I’ve started small, making cards for friends… New Home, Anniversary, New baby and birthday…

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I’m currently working on a baby patchwork quilt for a friend on which I’ve taken the risk and used free hand embroidery to personalise and decorate it…I like how it’s coming along but that’s for the next post!

I still have more things I want to have a go of so (depending on how they turn out!!) I’m sure to be featuring them in future posts.