Friday, December 31, 2010

A couple of favourite presents...

"The Quilters Stitch Bible" is a gem of a little book that I received from my parents this year for Christmas. It is full of numerous hand and machine decorative stitch's for embellishing quilts and I'm sure lots of other sewn items as well. It contains over 200 stitch's along with step by step instructions of each stitch. It's the perfect book for those of you who want to extend your repertoire of stitch's and add further dimension to your work. Can't wait to try some of them out!

My other favourite gift was a camera that my DH bought back from the States last month. Previously I've had to share my camera with my husband who takes it with him when he goes away overseas which means I then have to share my daughters camera so I really wanted one of my very own. I went with a Canon Powershot SX210IS which has lots of really cool features like a "Miniature lens" that blurs the top and bottom of the photo giving the effect of a miniature scene. I used this for the above photo which is a view over part of Whangamata and out to sea taken from our kitchen window.

And this is the same scene taken a couple of hours later with the "fish eye" lens. Cool eh! The girls and I had fun with this lens the other day and took some photos of each other which were hilarious but way too ugly to show here!

This weekend I will be :
  • doing some training runs with Amelia who is participating in a triathlon on Monday.
  • taking down our Christmas decorations.
  • going to the gypsy fair.
  • grocery shopping for our camping trip next week.
  • packing for the aforementioned camping trip.
  • swimming at the beach.
  • mowing the lawns.
  • playing with my new camera/toy.
  • Enjoying the summer sunshine that is forecast.
I think that should keep me busy! How about you, what do you have planned for the first weekend of 2011?

Happy New Year !!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Handmade with love.......

This was the scene in our house on Christmas morning, the girls beginning to open their presents from us before breakfast.....although I can't quite remember breakfast actually happening. I think the girls were too excited to be hungry and perhaps too busy eating chocolate. I know that makes us sound like bad parents but hey its only for one day of the year and that's part of Christmas to me, having treats at odd times of the day.
Now lets have a little handmade gift show'n'tell.....
I made this pen roll for Caitlin as she kept stealing her sisters one and she LOVES to draw.
All rolled up and ready to travel with her.
This little threesome of gifts was for my Mum. She came shopping with Amelia and I a couple of weeks before Christmas and I got her to pick out some fabrics but I didn't tell her what they were for. I made her a lavender filled teapot stand (lavender from her garden and pattern from the spring issue of Stitch) a pot holder ( tutorial here) and a folding market tote made from a Heather Bailey pattern.
Here's the reverse side of the potholder and teapot stand.
And here's the market tote all folded out. This pattern was very easy to follow like all Heather's patterns seem to be and I will be definitely making more of these.
And this is a very large memo board I made Amelia for her new room that I'm currently redecorating for her. I manged to get Amelia to pick out some favourite fabrics without her knowing what they were for. I must say she has great taste as they were all Heather Bailey's. The print I ended up using is from her pop garden range and I think this project makes the most of this large scale print. The base is a large artists canvas (thanks for the tip Lara!) to which I added some cork board so things can be pinned onto it as well as tucked behind the ribbon. The board is 24" x 36", took about 4 metres of ribbon, 28 buttons and just a few hours to put together. I am so impressed with how well this turned out. I think I need one for my sewing attic! Oh and on a sad note my machine is broken as in "not repairable" broken!!! Luckily I had  finished my Christmas sewing when it happened, just, and my Mother has lent me hers in the meantime. It would be a great excuse to buy a new one with all the bells and whistles if only I could afford it but unfortunately it couldn't have happened at  a worse time for us.
 The girls and I have had a lot of fun playing this game too lately. I had always wanted it as a kid so I'm making up for lost time now. I think the girls played about 5 games in one day on Monday.
Do you have a favourite family board game??

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Christmas recap........

So I didn't mean to not blog for over a week but last minute Christmas preparations took up all my time. I have been busy making these ginger spice Christmas biscuits with the help of my assistant Caitlin who loves to choose all the Christmas themed shapes and help roll and cut out. We also made A LOT of  chocolate truffles to giveaway as gifts. The girls helped me roll them into balls, dip them into white and dark chocolate them drizzle and decorate some in milk chocolate. I'm not sure how many I made but I did make 5 different sorts, orange liqueur, ginger, coffee, white chocolate/coconut and peppermint creams. Is your mouth watering yet? No photo's sorry. It took me two days to finish them so I was a little over truffles by the end.

On the Wednesday before Christmas we did our annual drive around town to look at the Christmas lights. The above home really goes all out with their whole garden covered in lights. These photos don't do it full justice but you get the idea.

I think it takes them about a week to complete it all.

A life sized nativity scene is part of it.

This is one of the houses in out street where nearly everyone has lights decorating their homes and gardens.

Our neighbors house.

And out Christmas tree all lit up. And of course I was super busy making some handmade presents which I shall share with you tomorrow.
Happy holidays to everyone!!! 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Handmade Christmas - a fabric wreath

We had a rather cool and very wet day today as you can see from the rain on the windows in these photos. As they say "good for the garden" and I say good for some creativity in my sewing attic!
Everything I used to make this wreath is what I had on hand. I love it when I can make something entirely from my stash! Leftover scraps of  batting wrapped around the cane base, then leftover ends of bias binding were used to cover the batting. A couple of yoyos and a fabric flower leftover from previous projects.

The big red flower is one created by my clever Mother and was the perfect match for the colours on the wreath base. I have quite a few of these lovely knitted flowers just waiting for the right project to be matched with. Thanks Mum!

I added more yoyo's made from scraps and finished with various buttons from my button stash. The little Christmas tree is a ceramic button that I got a few years ago and thought I would never use. And for a little sparkle I added a few beads when I sewed on the buttons
So there you go another inexpensive and easy Christmas decoration and something bright and cheery to lift a dull rainy day.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A handmade Christmas - the button wreath

Here's another quick and simple decoration idea and inexpensive too if you are like me and collect buttons old and new.
All you need is some wire strong enough to take the weight of the buttons but bendable so you can make a nice round shape, a selection of buttons of varying sizes, ribbon , and a few bells for a nice Christmasy jingle.
  1. Simply cut your wire to desired length (which will depend on how big you want your wreath and how many buttons you have)
  2. Thread on your buttons then twist wire ends together to secure.
  3. Add a ribbon loop for hanging and tie ends in a bow.
  4. Thread bells onto ribbon and tie with a bow onto wreath letting them hang in the middle.
That's it! A simple button wreath. If you feel inspired to make one I'd love to know.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Handmade Christmas decoration No.2

Today's Christmas decoration is another very easy and inexpensive one for the tree.
I used 4 circles the same size as yesterdays decorations, folded each one in half then glued them together (wrong sides facing) alternating the 2 colours. Add a hanging loop to the top then attach a length of embroidery floss the the other end. Thread on some beads, then another smaller paper globe and finish with a few more beads. Easy peasy!
To keep the beads from slipping down just backstitch through the last bead. These look great hanging on the bottom branches of my tree, I just hope our cats don't mistake them for new toys!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tis the season to decorate.........

Another weekend has flown by and I still have not made a start on my list of handmade presents. This weekend I was distracted by the beautiful hot weather we are still experiencing and spent quite a bit of time in my garden, spraying the lawn for unwanted weeds, trimming the rosemary bushes with the company of our 2 cats who must have been enjoying the scent of the rosemary leaves like I was. I have also finished preparing the walls in Amelia's soon to be new room ready for re-wallpapering and now need to sand back the window frames ready for a fresh coat of paint. Re-decorating a room is a fun project, it's just the preparation work that is a little tedious.

Caitlin and I had a fun day yesterday decorating the Christmas tree. Each year I buy a few new decorations and also like to make some handmade ones as well. Since it's been over a week since I last posted I thought I would make up for my absence here by posting each day over the next few days with a new handmade decoration to share with you all.

These paper globes may already be familiar to some of you as I have seen them on a few blogs myself lately. They look quite intricate and difficult to make but are really quite easy to do especially when you have a little helper like I did. I made mine from Christmas themed scrapbook paper but you could use any paper. There is a great tutorial here that I based mine on.

This one was made using double sided scrapbook paper.

I applied glitter to the edges for a little Christmas sparkle. If you want to do this attach the hanging thread first unless you want glitter all over your hands like I did.

Okay I'm off to cook a quick dinner before we head out to Caitlin's School for the break-up/prize giving night but I'll be back tomorrow with another easy handmade decoration to inspire you.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Shop update....

Newly listed in my shop are kits with instructions to make your very own heirloom sewing box. I know it's taken a very long time for me to get around to doing these kits but this was a bit of learning curve for me and I wanted to be sure  my instructions were easy to follow and full of good detailed photos of each step for those of you that need visuals as well as written instructions. Making your own sewing box up means you can choose specific fabrics of your choice and you also get sense of accomplishment at the end of having done it yourself. These boxes are fairly easy to make but do take a bit of time and patience. Of course I do have a couple made up and ready for instant purchase if you're time poor.

My creative space this week. Yes due to a custom order of a flower brooch I did manage to squeeze in some relaxing hand sewing creativity.

I'm loving the colour combo of this brooch and might have to replicate in other projects some time. Hope the recipient likes it!
Have just listed 3 different styles of these brooches in my shop.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The countdown has begun!

Just so you know there's only 23 days till Christmas!! OMG I haven't even started my Christmas shopping yet or made any presents on my list of presents I want to make. This is one of the advent calenders I made for the girls. Each day something is taken from the pockets on the sides and added to the Christmas scene such as lights on the house and tree, presents under the tree, people at the windows and.... 

....a letter to Santa in the letterbox.

This one is just filled with chocolates and as you can see I need to buy more. In previous years I've filled it up with small decorations to put on the tree or little presents to open such as new hair clips or ties.

And this lovely bundle of fabric was a surprise parcel in the mail today. Lara promised a while ago to send me some charm squares of Wonderland by Momo that she no longer needed and I sent her a Bliss charm pack in return. To my girls delight she also popped in these adorable candy cane mice to hang on our tree. Thanks Lara! I want to make something with them right now..... but I have presents to sew, and wall paper to rip off walls which is what is actually keeping my busy at the moment.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Caitlin's little Christmas houses!

This is the outcome of the paper crafting Caitlin was working on over the weekend. There are 20 little houses all made out of one yes just one tissue box. I bought some pretty diamante stickers and 3 different colours of glitter glue and let her decorate to her hearts content. A couple of weeks ago Michelle challenged her readers to see how many houses we could make out of one tissue box aka "The great tissue box challenge". To join in on this challenge was a no-brainer for me as Caitlin loves to  create something from empty cardboard boxes in general but tissue boxes are her favourite. I guess she really is a cheap child to keep entertained :)

Lots of swirls and a heart...

This little red roofed one is one of my favourites.

Michelle has a great little pattern for making these houses over here. This is a great craft activity for kids and I think they would look great hanging on a Christmas tree.

We quite like them lined up like this. It reminds me of a street at night-time with all the houses covered in Christmas lights.
You can check out all the the other tissue box houses over here on Michelle's blog.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A new crochet bag...

I whipped up this bag to hold my crochet in on Friday. I got the pattern from the Spring issue of 'Stitch' magazine but made a few modifications to suit my needs. I increased the length and width by 2 inches and also lined it and added 2 layers of fusible interfacing to make it more durable and 1 layer of fusible batting to make sure it stood on its own.

I also added a pocket inside to hold my crochet needle case, scissors and tape measure. I used some batik fabrics from my stash in my favourite colour combo of blue and green which also matches the colour scheme in our lounge where it will live most of the time. The navy blue bias binding trim was a purchased one I had in my stash which I think gives a nice finished look to it. Really happy with how this bag turned out  and it looks much better than the plastic supermarket bag and knitting bag that I was using!
I took it to a friends place in the hope of getting a little crochet done this weekend but we were too busy catching up that I didn't pick it up once. I did however do some paper crafting with Caitlin of which I will reveal tomorrow. She just has a few little finishing touches to make before we take some photos. 
Hope everyone had an enjoyable weekend out there!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Making me happy...

I bought this lovely bunch of flowers home from my parents on Sunday. They bring a smile to my face every time I pass them which is often since they are brightening up my dining table.
My parents are both blessed with green thumbs and have always had lovely gardens where ever they have lived and at this time of the year it is filled with colourful blooms for picking. One of life's simple pleasures to me is to be able to pick flowers from your own garden.

Pink Gerberas

Iceland Poppies, one of my favourite picking flowers because I love how they magically appear each morning from their buds like ...

...... these ones and I love their furry wiggly stems too.

And these are my first stitches using the Perle cotton. I do love the look its brings to these little wonky houses but man is it hard to pull through the layers sometimes. Unfortunately because I pieced the back with lots of  strips there are many layers to stitch through in places.  I went through 3 needles before I found one that was sharp enough to pierce the layers but with an eye big enough for the Perle cotton to fit through. I do like a good challenge though!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Some quilting progress....

At last I finally have something to share of what I've been working on these last few days. This quilt top was finished last year about this time of the year and it's taken me till now to finally start quilting it mainly because I could not decide on how to quilt it. So it has been sitting patiently waiting for me to get inspiration. This swirly free motion quilting is my third attempt. Yes I've definitely had issue's with quilting this quilt plus my sewing machine was not playing ball as well. I tried free motion quilting it twice but the top layer was moving and puckering so I then decided I would straight line quilt it with my walking foot but hated the look so unpicked it all and re-pinned it. Realised  that when I pinned it together I had forgotten to tape the quilt top to the floor to keep it straight and taunt and just went ahead and pinned it. Now that it is all pinned properly  I have had no issues with the layers moving. My swirls are far from perfect and my stitches are definitely not an even size but practice makes perfect right?

I have some white space to fill on this quilt also and thought I would do some hand quilting with some Perle cotton. I somehow managed to buy the right colours even though I had forgotten to bring some fabric samples with me. Can't wait to start using these!

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