retail therapy – craft books

I’ve been having a bit of retail therapy . . . adding a few craft books to my book shelves. It all started when I came across some pretty Waldorf dolls (on etsy) and began looking into the possibility of trying to make my own. However patterns are a bit too expensive, for my liking, and there’s a lot of skill (therefore room for error) in the shaping of a Waldorf doll head . . . so I began leaning towards more traditional rag dolls and stuffed toys.  Found several books that looked interesting and bought three.

“Sewn Toy Treasures” by Sandra Reis.  It’s a David & Charles publication, so nice size and 80 pages.  15 projects inside such as

Templates take up 16 pages of the book.  They’re full size, so easy enough to photo copy.  Lots of lovely photos of the finished toys but sadly only written instructions for the making of.  Would have been helpful to have some photos of the making process.  It’s a nice book, but I’ll only give it 4 stars because of the lack of “step by step” visuals.

Second book is “Sewn Toy Tales” by Melly & Me. Also a David & Charles publication.  I bought my copy second hand on ebay for only 6€.

126 pages and 12 different designs, including

I bought this one mainly for the “Tilly” ragdoll design.  Again, lots of lovely coloured photos of the finished toys, but no photos of the step by step process.  Only written instructions.  Another negative:  templates need to be enlarged by 200% which is do-able, if you have a printer like mine, but full-size templates would have been preferable.  I’ll give this book 3 stars.

Third book “Happy Quilts” by Antonie Alexander. Published by Interweave.  140 pages containing 10 quilt projects AND coordinating soft toys.

There are no templates in the book. Instead, there’s an internet link to download the pdf (which I’ve done, and saved to my hard drive). The pdf is over 200 pages and contains all templates, full size, for the different patchwork blocks and soft toys.  Coloured photos of the finished items, but also lots of coloured pictures to show the various step-by-step processes.  Written instructions too, step by step.  I’m giving this book 5 stars.  The photos and step by step illustrations make each project look fun to make. I’m not a patchwork appliqué fan, but I reckon this book could convert me and make me want to try.

needed new pjs

Before I begin about pjs . . . a quick update on Gibbs. He went in for surgery on Tuesday 24th May.  The grey mass  was removed and he also underwent a TECABO (total ear canal ablation and lateral bulla osteotomy). Yes, it’s as serious as it sounds and is only done as last ressort surgery.  Anyhow . . . Gibbs came through surgery okay. We picked him up on the Wednesday evening.  He looks a sorry sight:  shaved ear, shaved face, droopy eye, lop-sided head . . . and having to wear the cone of shame for 2 weeks until the stitches come out.   He’s got lots of meds to take.  Biopsy results should take around 10 days.   I’m thinking I might have to make him an eye patch for when the cone comes off.  Facial paralysis (which is permanent) means he can’t blink/shut left eyelid . . . which means he’ll be prone to hurting/scratching his eye in future when walking in long grasses, etc.

In the meantime, I was trying to keep my mind on other things, and distract me from Gibbs’ medical problems  so I did some sewing.   Had been meaning to make myself a couple of new pairs of PJs.  I favour shortie PJs, even in the winter.  I pulled out two well-used patterns: New Look 6871 for the tunic (not really a PJ top but it works for me) and Butterick B4532 for the shorts.

And used two different fabrics I’ve had in my stash for almost 10 years.  Next job is to make myself a couple of day-wear tunics for this summer, using the same pattern. I have the fabric. Just need to find the time.

 

 

on a roll

I’d been eyeing up some ideas for storing knitting needles, namely double-pointed needles.  Saw a couple of nice rolls on-line, and used photos as inspiration to design my own.  The nice thing about taking up knitting after having learned how to sew is that something like a needle roll is a very quick & simple project.

It was a stash-busting project.   Using a couple of small pieces of cotton print from the drawer.  Finished size when rolled is 10″ x 3″ and approx 1″ thick, so it’s not too bulky.  It’s for my 20cm DPNs.

The husband came up with an idea, when I was unrolling to show him my finished project (and needles almost fell out onto the floor – you’ll see why later) so I added a couple of poppers to the finished pouch.

When unrolled, it looks like this

And the poppers, on either end of the flap stop needles from sliding out if I hold the thing upside down.

I made 8 little pockets, for 7 sets of DPNs and a wider pocket for my needle gauge.  I don’t actually have a set of 2mm needles in 20cm yet, but thought it was sensible to provide a pocket in the eventuality I need to buy some. My sewing machine has embroidery options, but no decimal point.  However, the numbers embroidered are good enough for me to know which needles should go in which pocket.

In case you’re wondering whether I’ve been doing any knitting of late . . . yes I have!

 

repurposing curtains

I’ve been doing a huge amount of Spring cleaning and sorting in our house, and one of the jobs was having a tidy up in the veranda.  The covers I’d made for bench seats several years ago had faded because of the sun, so I had a rummage in my fabric stash to find something suitable.

I came across two floral curtains (approx 135cm x 190cm each) that came either from MIL or SIL’s home, not sure, but they definitely weren’t mine.  They really are very flowery, but the fabric is lovely quality and I hope it stands up to direct sunlight better than the cottons I previously used.  Anyway . . . I had a measure up of what I wanted to make covers for, including two old chair seats, that have been covered countless times in the past.

These were the chair seats in question.  Disgusting!!!!!  But no longer!  I pulled all the old staples out binning the grotty fabric.  And after playing with the staple gun, they look like this.

What a difference!

So, those two chairs all pretty!  Then I made two square covers for two folding chairs (photo of just one here).

More measuring & slicing went on as I had 3 rectangular foam cushions to cover, that go on the bench seats.

And just enough left over to make a quick cushion cover and add a bit more floral to my grotty old armchair that also lives in the veranda, and doesn’t match anything.

 

 

stash-busting bag

I didn’t send out any un-birthday gifts this month, but I did have need of a special home-made something.  We were invited to new neighbours’ house for dinner, and I never like to turn up empty handed.  So . . . time for some stash busting.

Not actually sure how long I’d had this fabric, nor who gifted it to me but . . . in my drawer I had two printed cushion panels.  The band with smaller prints was actually a vertical band down the side of each panel.  For bag purposes, I sliced it off and sewed it along the top.

I didn’t have any dark grey fabric, like on the original panels, so I made straps in plain black.

I also attached a small strip of black and a button so the bag can be rolled up, but forgot to take a photo.  Anyway, the bag was well-received and dinner was yummy!

with this ring

Today I can reveal the top secret project I was working on last month because, our daughter (aka Lindashee) and partner tied the knot and my little fabric gift was part of the ceremony.

I made them a little ring cushion (respecting the chosen colour palette of ivory, blues & gold) – here the cushion before posting, so NOT with the official rings tied in place.  And, because the husband and I had trouble finding a wedding card we liked in the shops, I made a card.

Due to Covid, and continuing travel restrictions, we did not make the journey over to England.  You can imagine our frustration!  Not being there to hug our daughter or be beside her on the big day!  However, we were able to follow the ceremony thanks to one of the groom’s family who was in charge of filming and live-streaming . . . and our son, Mr Viking, who recorded the live-streaming for posterity.

more sensible sewing

I’ve been busy, cutting, pinning and sewing . . . nothing very exciting, but having a few more sensible sewing sessions.  6 years ago (time flies), when helping with MIL’s house clearance, there were lots of bed sheets, some never used, that I saved and had been storing in a cupboard ever since.  We don’t use sheets & blankets, we prefer quilts and quilt covers . . . but the advantage of bed sheets is, there’s an awful lot of fabric to use up.  MIL wouldn’t have liked for good fabric to go to waste, so I hope she’d approve of what I’ve done!

I pulled out two sheets in “blues” (both brand new), gave them a wash and iron.  And I’ve made a reversible quilt cover.  Added plastic poppers to the bottom of the quilt cover and had enough fabric to make matching pillow cases (2 in each fabric).  Btw:  when I say “pillow case” I use the word meaning “bed linen, so for use on bed pillows.

The hardest part was battling with two whopping great big sheets, and getting them cut square so I could sew and make to fit for a 200cm x 200cm quilt. There were quite a lot of scraps left over . . . the floral might make something pretty for my dolls. Not sure about the other fabric, but it’s going in the scrap box.

Another sheet, in beige, but slightly faded in places, gave enough to make 4 pillow cases (two already in use, so not in photo)  and I also came across a couple of “old” table cloths (mine, from about 30 years ago when we used table cloths).

Table cloths were without stains, but one had obviously been used/washed more often than the other . . . fabric also has a distinctive “kitchen” look to it, but I’ve turned it onto pillow cases regardless.   Before cutting and sewing, I did actually have a proper measure up, and you’ll be seeing more of the green soon because  I cut a couple of rectangles and strips, to finish off some of my scrappy table mats.

I do, of course, have drawers full of fabric I could have used for this sensible sewing, but I liked the idea of using the bedlinen & table cloths to make more bed linen.  Still have a couple of sheets, but I might save them as they’d make good backing fabric for future patchwork quilts.

“Life” a finish off

If you vaguely remember having seen a photo of this once upon a time

that means you’ve been following my blog for quite a number of years.  This is a cross stitch kit I stitched from February – July 2015.

A kit by Design Works”, artwork by Jo Moulton.  Not only did I love the colours but I loved (and still love) the sentiment:  ” Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away”.  Anyway, it was very enjoyable to stitch, but like most of my cross stitch projects, once finished, it was folded and put away in “the drawer”.  Where it remained forgotten about for almost 6 years.

However, after my recent bout of sensible sewing, and the making of cushion covers for kitchen chairs using a sage green fabric.

Plus, after the new sofa covers (not been clawed to pieces yet!) . . . I remembered my “Life” design and realised it would look rather nice  on the “new” sofa.  I had plenty of the fraying sage green fabric left so I made another simple back of a cushion (same as above).  Cut a few strips to add borders on the front.  Did some very sparse quilting on the front, just to hold the wadding behind in place, and voilà!

There are still numerous folded cross stitch pieces in the drawer, waiting patiently to be finished off properly, but for now, I’m just very happy to have this one finally on display!

 

sensible sewing

I’ve been doing some “sensible sewing” for the past few weeks, by which I mean, not fun, but practical.  Sewing jobs that needed to be done.  First up it was mending.  Mending a few holes/rips in a couple of pairs of the husband’s trousers. Also hemmed a pair of jeans I bought myself last year and that were about an inch too long (despite me being tall with a 31″ inside leg).

After that, I decided that the cushions on our kitchen chair seats really needed some attention.

Way back, in 2015, I bought some square seat pads to protect the wicker seats of our chairs from cat claws.  They weren’t terribly pretty, but they did the job.  They had 2 ties on each, to be attached to chairs to stop them falling off but . . . with our cat, Ducky, who loves to chew things, half the ties had been shortened, not to say gone missing, and cushions were forever falling on the floor.  In June 2018 I made new covers.

Made from light-weight cotton, sewing ties on all 4 corners, and fastening under the seat.  It took Ducky a while to eat his way through these, and they did stay on a bit longer lol.  But I was fed up with them slipping about once a few ties were missing and therefore came up with a new solution.  Chairs now look like this (oops chair bars needs a clean!)

!

I removed the purple cotton ones (will be recycling fabric for patchwork) and made new covers in a sturdier fabric which I originally bought to make new sofa covers (but chickened out when faced with complex shapes of sofas and sheer volume of sewing required). Fabric is a lovely sage green and looks almost denim but it isn’t. In fact, I can’t remember what it’s made of but boy, it frays like rotten!

Anyway . . . cushion pads are 17″ so I cut top squares 18″, and the underside is made in two parts, with a velcro fastening.

In order to keep cushions securely on chair seats, with nothing dangling for Ducky to chew on, I added triangular flaps.  I made those by cutting 12″ squares, cutting into 4 triangles on the diagonal, and sewing those in pairs.  Having to overlock at each stage because of the fraying fabric.  I made 10 cushion covers, which meant 40 triangles.

So a big pile of triangles to overlock, then turned right sides out and top stitched.  Once all the prep work was done it was simply a question of sewing cushion covers together (and overlocking).   Front & back right sides together with 4 triangles inside. Seamed, overlocked, and turned right sides out. To end up with this.

And then attach velcro bands to the points of the triangles.

Looks a bit wierd, but once on the chair, it stays firmly in place, and underside of chair is nice & neat.  Nothing dangling!

On a side note, I also found an easy solution for our sofas (on @m@zon).  They were a dark slate grey but looking a right mess because of Le Bleu who had totally destroyed several areas with his claws.

This is the colour, with Ducky, the chewer at full stretch.  Anyway, thanks to on-line shopping, I bought a couple of pretty sofa covers.  They’re “made in China” (but then what isn’t these days?) and I don’t know how long they will withstand any claw attacks, but for the time-being, I’m admiring what could be mistaken for two new sofas.

Each cover came with a matching cushion cover but I’d only put one on for this photo.

ScrapHappy # March

Time to link up with the ScrapHappy gang, and get creative.

 

For this time around, I did some re-using, which I’m going to count as scraps because otherwise some stuff would have just been binned.

I recently bought myself a new iron-board cover, purple, of course.

Which left me looking at the old ironing board cover, and thinking it wasn’t being very ecological just to throw it in the bin.  It wasn’t ripped or anything. The surface just looked all brown & burned, with unsightly water-marks all over from when I’m steam-ironing.  Not the sort of thing you’d want to be ironing crisp patchwork blocks on, I think you’ll agree.

Anyhow . . . the husband had put in a request for a padded workbench mat.  Difficult to explain, but he does a fair amount of renovating old wooden things, and he therefore needed a padded mat to protect the newly renovated wood from the hard surface of his workbench.  I didn’t want to waste decent wadding on something like that, hence, the light bulb over my head and a new use found for the above.

For some reason, my Juki started playing up, as I tried to sew through 2 layers of old curtain, with the ironing board cover sandwiched between.  Ended up setting old lady Singer 99k up, to do the main assembly job, and she was thrilled to be back in active service.

This is the mat in place.  I even made use of the curtain ring bits, as a design feature, because they give extra weight to keep the flaps down, therefore to keep the mat in place.  Once that was done, I then found myself with some leftover ironing board cover.

Cut two pieces, approx 6″ x 12″ and overlocked.  Got what I needed from the old curtain.  And I made a pair of oven mitts.

I didn’t even try to make oven gloves, with thumbs.  Nor did I try to make them pretty, as you can see by visible overlocked edges  Just made these, with space to slide four fingers under, and a loop to hang.  They do the job, although you do need to wear both when getting a dish out of the oven.

And . . . couldn’t resist taking a photo to show you the final scraps that went in the bin.