Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Still testing my sewing skills and Rain, Rain, Rain!!

I cannot believe how bad the weather has been, it has been absolutely overwhelming here in the valley.
The Manifold Valley is a popular place for camping and walking and I am lucky enough to live right in the middle of it. This week though has seen some terrible floods and there has been no hope for anyone wanting to walk in our beautiful countryside as all the footpaths were quite a few feet under water as the Manifold broke its banks! 

The beer garden at one of the local pubs!!

All this bad weather at half term has not been ideal for the children, but after friends coming around, trips to the cinema it was time to get the Lego out!

And for me the sewing machine. I am trying very slowly to try and learn how to do different things and become more confident so with been forced to stop in off I went!

First project was a cushion for my little ones bedroom, I used the interior from an old cushion and a few scraps of material I had about.

Next was a bag for my little grandson Alfie to take to pre school, its a little wobbly but not bad

Another bag for me :) Don't you just love a tea cloth bag!

What I have really been wanting to master is the art of putting a zip into something, so I went onto You Tube and there are an amazing amount of people that you can watch. 
I have always thought it strange that someone would sit there and film themselves doing something, but all I can say is thank goodness that they do, because I can now make a pencil case/makeup bag which is lined and has a perfectly put in zip.

Can you see a theme going on here with my work? I loved the cushion so much I made a little purse the same 

and this is another little purse not another tea cosy! I just wanted to have another go at the freestyle embroidery.
I am so thrilled with how these little zipper purses have turned out I may even do a tutorial, but in pictures, you certainly won't see me on video (too much cursing!)

My last project of the week has been to make a snap framed coin purse, this has turned out OK but really only OK, I think that I need a little more practice at this one but will enjoy the challenge!

I used a sew on frame because that is what I had in but I don't think that I have made the sides very well, they don't fit as snuggly under the hinge as I would have liked, perhaps I need to cut it slightly less next time?? A little lady on You Tube will show me how I'm sure :)

Have a good week everyone

Claire xx

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

A Right Royal Weekend & A Little Bit of Crafting

I have well and truly felt very very proud to be British this week with all the Diamond Jubilee celebrations going on around the country. Everywhere you look everyone seems to be participating and playing a part in the celebrations. Every day this week one of the local villages has been holding their own street parties and the children have all been presented with their own jubilee mugs as a momento of the occasion.

As I watched the Queen on the royal barge with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra playing I felt a small tear well up that we come from such a wonderful country and that only the British can do such a wonderful display of pageantry.
The local town looked stunning with every shop and street displaying its bunting.

Karen from the local pub painted her nails for the occasion, goodness only knows how she did this all by herself!

Here on the hill we have played our own small part with the decorations

Some I made to decorate the kitchen

These are actually always in my bathroom. The flags were found in the attic of my great aunt's house when we were clearing it out and I think they are from V.E. day and although they are very fragile and a little faded I think they are perfect!

My lovely friend Helen made this bunting to fly across her courtyard. She has made hundreds of double sided little flags in florals and stripes and these will look wonderful displayed for any occasion. As you can see from the picture it was a little dull on the day she put them up and definitely a little blustery!

I have also been doing a little Jubilee baking for our local party

and a little crocheting.
Well what outfit isn't just made complete with a little handmade brooch. Isn't it cute, I lovely the versatility of Rowan handknit cotton for these little projects.

This lovely little vintage brooch was a 50 pence bargain from my weekly visit to the local collectors market

I was given by one of the stallholders two vintage coronation medals to go in my memory cabinet

Here is a little red oil lamp I found to match the blue one I bought a few weeks ago, both are now sitting in my kitchen window.

And our real extravagance this weekend was an antique french clock that my husband and I (ohh that sounds rather regal ) saw and thought that it would be a good investment along with looking stunning here at The Castle.

Apart from my crochet Jubilee brooch and a little bit of bunting I have made this week the only other thing I have done is yet another tea cosy!
This week I took inspiration from my new Poppy Treffry book.

It has been lined and wadded to keep the pot warm, and although I don't think that Poppy Treffry has anything to worry about at the moment, this is quite a good attempt for my very first go at freestyle machine embroidery.

I must say that the bit I am most proud of is my name, I had one attempt on a scrap piece of fabric before launching into my lovely linen and hoping that I didn't go wrong and spoil the fabric, but here it is a real Ta-Dah, it looks great and just finishes it off to show that it is all my own work :)

Although I can see that I do need more practice on the machine, I did actually really love doing this project and in the words of Kirstie Allsopp machine embroidery is the cocaine of the crafting world!

Have a lovely time off work and enjoy your own Diamond Jubilee Celebrations!

Claire xx

Monday, 28 May 2012

The Magic of a Tea Towel!!

Just a quick update on my sewing skills. After the great success of the Cath Kidston bag, I decided that I would have a go at making my own pattern and make a bag with some patriotic flowery tea towels I got from the local Aldi.
So after a little measuring to make sure that I got as much of the flower on as possible I tentatively made the cuts, hoping and hoping that I hadn't got it wrong and then began to sew

I was actually surprised at how easy it was and when the outer of the bag was done I made an identical one from a spotty tea towel to give it a lovely lining and I even gave it a little pocket inside, even I am amazed at my new found skill!  I made the handle from some cotton webbing and ta-dah here it is my beautiful Jubilee tea towel shopping bag, I LOVE IT!!!!!

You would never guess that it has cost me about £4 to make and it is totally unique which I love! It is nice to know that I have something that is a total one off and nobody else has one like it. 

Not being able to contain my excitement with this bag I then went on to make another with yet another tea towel and here is that little bag, which is stunning with its red spotty lining and little vintage rose button on the magnetic clasp

Eat your heart out Cath Kidston, I think they are just as lovely as hers and at a fraction of the price.

Other things going on this weekend have been sun, sun, sun, barbecues family and my lovely children and little grandson, here he is enjoying a bowl of strawberries and cream

and my bargain little oil lamp from the charity shop a real snip at £1.25!!!!! Don't you just love a bargain and the charity shops are my downfall.

Well heres to another glorious week of sunshine, fingers crossed.

Claire xx

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Sewing My New Found Love!!!!

All the best laid plans and all that, I had intended to crack on and get my Japanese flower scarf finished off and blocked by now but no, my mind started to skit about to other projects that I could do, so off I went into the local market town and into Bibelot to buy some fat quarters from their lovely haberdashery department.

Whilst I was in there I took a quick snap shot of some of my things that they have displayed for sale, don't they just look splendid!

As I have mentioned previously I was the lucky recipient of a beautiful sewing machine and I again I have said before sewing is really just not my thing but I am desperate to learn. So I thought a good first project would be to make some bunting, not a lot just a few flags to test out my skills.

Material, check!, pinking shears, check!, bias binding, check!, tape measure, check! nerves, check!
and we're off!

Ta-dah!!!!!!! hanging on some of my railings don't they look soooo cute and how they match the pots, they will look even better when the Geraniums are in full flower. I was so pleased with myself.

After discovering that the sewing machine wasn't quite the dreaded beast I had at first thought I decided that I would now tackle a little bag project that I had in my Cath Kidston 'Sew' book. Now this book came with all the pieces already cut out and ready to sew! I did however think that the instructions that come with the book are a little vague, especially for someone who's only project unto now has been bunting!

The picture below is me getting a little more confident and deciding to do a lining for the bag, which wasn't in the book, so I got out a piece of greaseproof paper, copied the pattern for the bag and made it slightly smaller at the top so I could hem it in, ohhhh listen at me :)

Part way finished and looking good, not a wobbly hem anywhere to be seen, this sewing machine is a dream! there are so many little markings on it to follow that it is really easy to sew a straight line and even round corners, which I had to do when making the handle.

Here it is all finished, and please please take note of the button holes!!! yes it was a challenge to set up the buttonhole foot on the machine but I did it.
 I cannot tell you how proud of myself I am at making this devine little bag. I has been photographed and I have stood in front of the mirror holding it and swinging it about and I love it!!!!!

I took it to the school when I collected my little boy and straight away someone said how nice it was and where had I bought it from!!!!! They actually didn't believe me when I said I had made it myself.

I have purchased a couple of books from Amazon and the Free and Easy Stitch Style is going to be one of my next projects. I just love the work of Poppy Treffry and I have already got a new darning foot and some linen to try my hand at a little freestyle machine embroidery. I am hoping that it is as fun as Kirstie Allsopp described it to be in her TV program 'Kirsties Homemade Homes' she said it was the cocaine of the crafting world! well we shall see.

One of the other things I have on the go, along with my scarf is a little embroidery that I saw and loved on Etsy. It is designed by a lady called Charlotte Lyons and I really delight at looking at her work it is such fun, if you fancy taking a look here is the link 

Other things this week to mention are the weather, what has happened it feels like we have up sticks and moved country!

The flowers have all started to blossom in the baskets

It is so hot and still that even my flag has stopped having a little flap around, my that blue sky is so good to see

everything in the garden is starting to look beautiful. I just love this little gate to my front courtyard!

and of course a summers hot day wouldn't be the same without a cold pint in the pub!

and ice creams with the children :)

My cake of the week this week is an almond and apricot cake which is full of calories but stays moist and stays fresh for a good time.

250g of butter
300g golden caster sugar
a few drops of almond essence
3 large eggs
50g ground almonds
200g self raising flour
a handful of flaked almonds
1/4tsp of salt

Set your oven to 180c/160c for a fan oven
line a 20x30 tin

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and allow to cool for 5 minutes, add the sugar and eggs along with the almond essence into the saucepan and beat until smooth with a wooden spoon.
Stir in the flour, ground almonds and salt and then tip it all into the prepared tin, give it a smooth over and then arrange on top the apricots. I used 6 fresh apricots which I cut into quarters but I am sure that tinned ones would be just as good. In fact if you substituted the almond essence for vanilla it would be good with any fruit on the top.
Sprinkle with flaked almonds and bake for 1 hour 10 mins but cover with a piece of foil after 40 minutes to stop it burning. Test with a skewer, the middle should be slightly squiggly but this firms up when it is cold. Leave in the tin for a few minutes to cool slightly and then cut up into squares.
This is a lovely cake to have just with coffee or as a desert.

On a final note, take a look at these little tea towels I got from Aldi, they are made from a thick cotton duck and I have plans to make myself a new shopping bag, so watch this space.

Have a lovely week and enjoy the fine weather

Claire xx