new patterns and a ‘mini-adventure’

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Hello again!

I’m back after my summer blogging break and I have been working on some new patterns that I’m super excited about.

I also joined the wonderful quilting community on Instagram – if you haven’t tried Instagram yet, I recommend it wholeheartedly!  There are so many lovely and talented quilters on there who freely share their ideas and advice – I find it such an inspiring place to be!  My username is @sewingroomsecrets if you want to follow along , I’d love to connect with you there!

It was on Instagram that I first came across the idea of a ‘mini wall’.  Let me explain – a ‘mini wall’ is a dedicated wall where you showcase all your mini quilts!  You simply display all your minis in a mosaic fashion to make a feature wall. And me, being a sucker for all things small and cute, I was hooked straight away 🙂  (Click here for an awesome example of a mini wall by the very talented Camille Roskelley – couldn’t you just die!)

I’ve had the most fun designing a trio of whimsical style minis and am super excited to share two of them with you today (number three is coming soon!).

First up is this little mini entitled ‘Love Lives Here’.

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This one was inspired by a little block I made for a charity quilt. I had so much fun with this wee project and love how it turned out! And judging by your feedback on Instagram and Facebook you guys love it too!  Thank you so much!

Finishing up at around 20.5″ square, the pattern uses easy raw edged applique techniques and a simple patchwork border to create this sweet little quilt.

Heart.

banner

tree

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Next up is ‘Woof!’

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Now as minis go, this one is definitely on the larger side (22″ x 27″), but still cute! See that little pup in the top right ? … he’s the cheeky one! 🙂

tongue..

Raw edged applique is used on this one too, along with a few basic embroidery stitches, making ‘Woof’ and ‘Love Lives Here’  suitable projects for even a relative beginner.

nose

And guess what? I’m planning a ‘mini wall’ in my sewing room – won’t that be fun! I think this may be the start of a ‘mini adventure’! I’ll be sharing pictures of all the minis I make in future posts and would love to hear what you think as my mini wall evolves!  I’m hoping to include some ‘pieced’ minis (all patchwork) as well as the whimsical style ones I’ve been working on. I’ll be utilising my own patterns as well as minis from some of my favourite designers, so there should be a good mix.

Well now, how about a mini-giveaway? I’m going to give-away a mini quilt pattern to one lucky reader on each of my Instagram and Facebook pages, as well as here on the blog.  That’s 3 chances to win!

For a blog entry, simply leave me a comment telling me which pattern you would like to win i.e. ‘Woof! or ‘Love Lives Here’.  Then pop over to Facebook and Instagram to enter there too if you like!  The giveaway is only open until tomorrow evening (that’s Monday, 7th September) at 6pm (GMT), so you need to be quick! I’ll pick a winner tomorrow night, but if you don’t want to wait until the giveaway ends you can grab your copy from my ETSY shop now.

Good luck and happy stitching!

Natalie xx

P.S. have you made any minis yet?  Leave me a link in the comments and I’ll pop over for a peak! 🙂

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zakka butterfly

Butterfly table topper2

The patchwork group that I attend are hosting a BOM this year, with different members of the group demonstrating a technique or a block that they have enjoyed doing and are happy to share with everyone.  The idea is that you can either make a quilt with all the blocks or you can just do particular blocks that appeal to you and make them into cushions, mini quilts or other small items of loveliness 

I have been asked to host a demonstration on my preferred method of applique for the March block. Oh the pressure! Yikes! This wee butterfly block is what I intend to go with.  What d’ya think?

Applique butterfly

The finished blocks will be 12″.  I wanted to use my block to make a table topper, so I stitched six 2½”  squares either side of the butterfly and added a 3” inch strip of the grey linen that I love so much.  Then I finished the whole thing up nice and neat with some gorgeous aqua binding.

Squares3

Butterfly table topper3

I quilted some simple blooms here and there, adding a cluster of beads to some of the flower centres for a wee bit of sparkle …

Squares

Applique3jpg

Back2

Applique1

The method of applique that I use is often referred to as the ‘freezer paper and starch’ method.  I like this method best, because I like how the pieces hold their shape as I work with them and I can get pretty smooth edges too 🙂

Butterfly head

Applique4.jpqI used fabric from my stash, because I wanted the finished quilt to co-ordinate with the little Zakka style nesting boxes that I made for the bathroom.

bathroom set.

And what do you do when you finish a quilt and get that lovely fuzzy feeling of accomplishment?  Yep, you make a nice cuppa tea, settle on the sofa with a quilting book and dream about your next sewing project! 🙂

Afternoon tea

Happy stitching everyone!

Natalie x

fabric iPad sleeve tutorial

 

Harriet 005.

I had been wondering what I could make with a little embroidered piece that I stitched recently and finally decided on a new iPad cover.  I already have a ‘Smart Case’ for my iPad and, whilst I like the protection that the hard folding cover gives to the screen, the fact remains that it is a dull grey colour, a little grubby from fingerprints and well … just plain boring!

So, I wanted to pretty things up a wee bit and this is the result …

iPad cover1

iPad cover3

iPad cover2

iPad cover9

iPad cover7

iPad cover11

I made a slightly different version for my mother-in-law, adding her initial in embroidery on the front. I added a velcro flap at the top, rather than an elastic and button closure and I also quilted the background of the linen section.  I found some wonderful embroidery templates for monogram letters here.

iPad cover4

If you would like to have a go at making a fabric iPad sleeve, I’ve jotted down some quick instructions below on how I made mine.  You can do anything you like on the front cover – I used my new Harriet & her Teddy design on the front of mine (available in my pattern shop), or you can just keep it simple by using two pretty co-ordinating fabrics – just go with what you fancy!

Before we get started, I need to point out that I made mine big enough to accommodate an iPad4 and a Smart Case.  If you want to make a cover just for an iPad on it’s own, I would suggest using a 1/2″ seam allowance throughout (for a snugger fit), rather than a 1/4″ seam allowance.

So, what you will need is:

For the outside

  • 2 pieces of fabric 9.5” x 8.75” – for the bottom of the outside cover
  • 2 pieces of co-ordinating fabric 9.5” x 3” – for the top of the outside cover
  • 2 lengths of ribbon around 10” long, plus extra for the bow
  • 1 small button (for the bow centre) and a larger button for the closure
  • 1 adult hair elastic/ponytail holder (or similar thin elastic)

For the inside

  • 2 pieces of thin wadding (batting) 9.5” x 11.25”
  • 2 pieces of lining fabric 9.5” x 11.5” (the extra 1/4″ in length for the lining fabric is for the trim at the top edge)

*Use 1/4″ seam throughout

1. Cut out all the pieces before you start

Harriet 3

To make the outside cover …

2. With right sides together, stitch each of the two top pieces (9.5” x 3”) to the bottom pieces (9.5” x 8.75”)

Harriet 1

3. Cover the seam lines by stitching on some co-ordinating ribbon

Harriet 2

4. Make a ‘quilt sandwich’ by laying one 9.5” x 11.25” piece of wadding down on your work table first, followed by the front cover (right side up), followed by the back cover (right side down), and finishing with another 9.5” x 11.25” piece of wadding. Line up all raw edges and pin.

5. Stitch all four layers together using ¼” seam, leaving the top open. Backstitch a few stitches at the start and end of sewing to stop the seam opening when you turn it right side out.

Stitch all the layers together

6. Trim away the wadding to about 1/8th of an inch from the sewn line to reduce bulk, clip the corners and turn right side out. Push out the corners to give nice neat points.

7. Sew the elastic hairband onto the outside of the back cover by placing it in the centre and stitching over it a few times about an 1/8th of an inch from the edge. Allow a little of the elastic to hang off the edge (you will trim it later).

Harriet 11

8. Now take your lining fabric and place the pieces right sides together. Stitch down both long sides and along the bottom, leaving a 4” opening at the bottom for turning. Leave the top open.  Clip the corners, but don’t turn it right side out yet!

Lining

9. To join your outer cover and lining, keep your lining inside out & your outer piece right side out and slip the assembled cover inside the lining, matching up your two side seams. They should now be right sides together.

Harriet 10

10. Line up the top edges of the lining and the outside cover and stitch a ¼” seam all around the top edge. Trim away the excess elastic from the seam allowance.

Collage1

11. Gently pull the front cover through the gap that you left in the lining. *Tip:  I use a star headed screw driver to turn things out as I find that the little star head grips the fabric and helps things along 🙂

Harriet 512. Poke out the corners and press

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13. Stitch the opening closed

sew opening closed

14. Gently push the lining inside the cover.  You will find that a little of the lining will naturally fold around the wadding at the top edge to give a nice little trim along the top (that’s the reason why we cut the lining pieces that extra 1/4″ longer 😉 )

iPad cover12

15. Sew on a pretty button and top-stitch ‘in the ditch’ where the lining and the outside meet to give a neat finish (although it looks just fine without this step).

Top stitch to finish (optional)

ipadcover5

I have just begun to stitch another little version of Harriet & her Teddy, this time I am embroidering the entire thing on to soft white linen (no applique).  I’ve added tiny beads as flower centres and smocking at the top of her dress…

A pocketful of posies

 

… not sure what it will become this time, just gonna see where the stitches take me …

Natalie x

 

vintage-style zippered pouch

I have been on a wee bit of a sewing spree just lately. Not a marathon session or anything, more a case of a few stolen moments in my sewing room …

Cosmetic pouch patter npics 198

Anyhow, the result is that I have FINALLY managed to put together a pattern for my little vintage-style zippered pouch, which is now available as an instant download in my Etsy shop.

The pattern for this vintage-style zippered pouch is available in my Etsy pattern shop

I’ve written it in the style of a step-by-step tutorial and have included almost 50 close-up colour photos to help you along, The cool part about it being a digital file is that you can zoom right on in to the photos on your computer if you want to see the details even more closely!

Yo-yo

I have made lots of these little cuties for friends and family now, but this one I will definitely be keeping for my very own 🙂

Inside

Cosmetic pouch patter npics 200.

Suffolk puff embellishment2

Vintage-style zippered pouch1

zip open

And whilst I was in a creative mood, I came across a great tutorial for a fabric notebook cover and enjoyed putting together my own version from the left over fabric scraps.

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Add second accent strip Collage

Quote

They make a lovely set … don’t you think?

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set2

 Happy stitching everyone!

Natalie x

 

 

a bad case of ‘hexagon-itis’

 ….. there has been a sudden outbreak of ‘hexagon-itis’ in our house. So far, I am the only member of the household affected. The only cure (apparently) is to ‘make stuff’ – I’m gonna make something cute-sy with this little lot and see if I can ease the symptoms …. I’ll keep you posted *cough* … 

1/2" hexies

every path has it’s puddles ….

Harriet & her Teddy

I am writing this post long-hand.  I decided that today was just too sun-shiney to be indoors on the laptop, so here I am with pen and paper writing down my thoughts the old fashioned way.  Of course, by the time you read this I will have typed it all up neatly on my trusty keyboard; but that will happen much later, when the sun has gone to bed.

As I write, this is the view of my little piece of sky, lying here looking up to the heavens from   a sun lounger in the garden.  Ahh, dappled sunshine … my favourite kind! 

dappled sunshine

Lying here in the sun, you could say that life is pretty good right now … and so it is.  That’s the funny thing about life, some days are just better than others 

In my last post, I promised to tell you the story behind the stitches of the little embroidery pattern that I have been working on, featuring Harriet and her Teddy.   I wasn’t crazy about my original choice of background fabric or colours, so I experimented a little until I came up with something that I am now happy with. It has taken a little longer, but I think it has been worth it in the end and the pattern is now available for sale as a PDF download from my Etsy Shop.

Harriet's face & hat detail

Whilst stitching this watery little scene, it has made me think about how life ebbs and flows.  How sometimes, things are just peachy (like today) and at other times you wonder how you will get through the tough times.  I don’t know how it is for any of you, but as I’ve grown older, I have realized that life is often all about perspective and going with the flow.

when it rains

At the moment, Harriet is lying on my work table waiting to be stitched into a cushion for my sewing chair.  The idea being that next time something goes awry in my life … when I’m feeling stressed by a million things that all need to be done RIGHT NOW or I feel like I’ve encountered an insurmountable problem, it will remind me that I can just stand in the rain for a time and not let it pummel me. I don’t have to panic or shield myself. I just need to ride it out, to take what comes, knowing that I’ll handle it and it will all pass by soon enough.

I can follow Harriet’s example …. let go of the umbrella and just get a little wet!

When it rains2 Happy stitching  

all set for the big day

If you saw my last post you will know that I have been preparing for a family wedding taking place this weekend and I have been scurrying around trying to find a wedding outfit.

Apart from cleaning the oven, shopping for clothes ranks among my least favourite activities, so shopping for ‘dressy’ clothes is akin to sticking pins in my eyes. After much rummaging through clothes rails, I managed to get kitted out for the big day (yay!) …. except for a clutch bag. Rather than subject myself to any more retail therapy torture, I decided to make my own and I found a great little tutorial for the perfect little purse over at Elm Street Life.

It is surprising what you can do with a fabric bow and a wee bit of bling  😉

Clutch bag4

Clutch bag1

There is plenty of room for the essentials – make up, lipstick, phone, money.  Just need to get the confetti and I’m all set 🙂

clutch bag

We will be having people stay with us this weekend too and I have been doing a lot of pillow plumping and house cleaning in preparation for their arrival.  I took a break from all that today in order to make some gifts for my female guests. The girls are big Cath Kidston fans, so I got them each a set of Cath Kidston hand creams and I made them a wee tissue holder each as well.   I hope they like them.

Tissue holder4

Tissue holder3

Tissue holder2

Tissue holder1

I baked some of Aunt Annie’s fruitcake yesterday, as well as a whole bunch of lemon drizzle cake, so we will have plenty of yummy treats on hand. I love making lemon drizzle – it’s one of my favourite’s!  I use Mary Berry’s method to make it. It’s super easy; just put everything in the bowl together and mix – never fails, yum! Here’s a link to the recipe.

With all the preparations done, I just couldn’t help it ….. I had to try out the lemon drizzle to make sure it was gonna taste good, right?

… And. It. Does.

lemon drizzle cakeJPG

Have a wonderful weekend folks ♥

good fortune for ‘Lola’

I say ‘good fortune’ because, if it had not been for the fact that I have a soft spot for ‘Lola’, she would not be sitting pretty right now, rather she would be sitting in the dustbin!

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As soon as I saw the latest edition of Molly Makes, I just knew that Lisa Lam’s little fortune cookie purse on the cover would be perfect for Lola, so  I ordered the frame straightaway from U-Handbag and got to work making up the body of the purse.

Lola16

I have never made a framed purse before, but  the pattern was straight forward enough and I was surprised at how quickly and easily it all came together. 

So, this little purse-y version of Lola sat proudly on my work table with a pin holding it closed, patiently awaiting the finishing touch – that lovely antique brass frame! As I gazed lovingly at the little bulbous pouch, I was beginning to think that I could even run up a few more and give them as gifts. But I was getting ahead of myself …

A few days later the purse frame arrived.  Now, I knew I would have to glue the frame to the fabric and, if I’m honest, a few wee pangs of anxiety were already beginning to creep in – it was the ‘glue’ that was making me nervous. Give me a needle and thread any day, but glue? Mmm … nah!

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I mean, get a grip, how hard could it be to glue the frame on?

To say I swore a couple of times would be a lie… more like a dozen times or more!  The air was blue, I can tell you – even my husband put a concerned head around the door at one point to see what all the huffin’ and puffin’ was about. The problem was that the purse was just the teeniest, tiniest bit too small for the frame and, try as I might (and I tried mighty hard!), there was no way that I could get that little bugger to fit in the frame! Poop!

To cut a long story short, I ended up having to insert a tiny little triangle of fabric each side of the gusset to make it fit.  And even then it took a good bit of jiggery pokery to get the pesky thing just right. Talk about a bad frame day! Tsk!

Anyhow, as the saying goes ‘all’s well that ends well’ and perhaps I will love that wee Lola purse even more for all the trouble it caused me 🙂

Lola20

I thought at first that I would use the purse for make-up …

Lola14

Lola22

But then I changed my mind.

I think ‘Lola’ deserves pretty ribbon and lace …..don’t you?

Lola15

Because she’s worth it 😉

Happy stitching folks!

a parcel and a swap

I posted my ‘wee sheeps’ pouch to Lindsay today. Exciting to think that those ‘wee sheeps’ will be travelling all the way across the pond to Pennsylvania! My! this blogging stuff really can take you places!

Wee sheeps parcel

Next up…. is the Very Berry Handmade Textile Artist Trading Card Swap (phew! try saying that after a few glasses of vino!). I have until the end of May, or there abouts, to design a 2.5” x 3.5” textile card to swap with someone else in the group, so I’ve been looking through my stash for inspiration.

Fabric inspiration

The theme for the swap is “Something New”, which pretty much gives me infinite scope, since the whole process of blogging and swapping is all pretty “new” to me! I wanted to make something that will bring a smile to the person receiving it in the mail and I hope this little offering will do the trick 🙂

ATC borders

ATC final

It’s been fun making this little example of teeny tiny loveliness and, if I get time to try out a few more designs before the swap deadline, I’d love it if all of you would help me choose which one to swap! 🙂

Happy Stitching Everyone!

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fabric finds and other cool stuff

fabric finds3I must confess, it’s been a few years since I’ve been to a quilt show (I know, shocking!), but a few weeks ago I was lucky enough to win a couple of tickets to the British Quilt & Stitch Village at Uttoxeter Racecourse. So, that’s where I’ve been this weekend – gazing at beautiful quilts and embroidery, not to mention  spending a small fortune on fabric and other cool stuff!

I didn’t intend to spend so much, really I didn’t, but with all that fabric, those buttons, that ribbon and all the other brilliant ‘stuff’ all under one roof, I was doomed from the start!

fabric finds1

With exhibits and traders spread over several halls, the experience was a lot more leisurely than the likes of the Malvern and Birmingham quilt shows; none of that pushin’ n shovin’ malarkey! Just how I like it 🙂

fabric finds2

I found some gorgeous new pastels to add to my stash.  I think I should have enough to make a quilt from them all now, so I’m on the look out for just the right pattern.

I also stumbled across these cute wee charms that you can tie on to handmade gifts.  Can’t wait to use those!

handmade charms

charms

This is cute too.  A little patchwork-styled sitcky note holder!  How fab is that!

sticky notes exterior

sticky notes

I am easily pleased, I know, but I did buy something else that was awfully sensible (for me anyway).  I’ve always looked at those daylight lamps – you know, the ones with a magnifying glass to help you see your stitching better?  When I’ve looked at them before, I could never quite justify the expense.  But, lately, my eyes have been feeling a little strained and my eyesight isn’t quite what it used to be. So, I took the plunge and am now a bonafide LED, daylight, magnifying lamp user! I used it last night for the first time and I wish I had invested in one years ago – what a difference it makes!  I would definitely recommend it!

So, my debit card had taken a battering and I was already headed towards the exit.

Honest I was.

Then I spotted this little lot.

fabric finds8

What was I to do? I mean, really?

fabric finds10

I may never set eyes on such loveliness again, I thought. So, needless to say, those beautiful linens are now keeping good company with the rest of my fabric stash.  I just had to, right? Right.

With all these new additions to my stash, it really is time that I used up some of my existing stock, so to speak. I’ve been working on a little set of fabric storage boxes, which I’ll share with you in my next post.  But until then, here’s a little peek at my progress so far.

aqua fabric storage box progress

Happy stitching everyone!

a treasury of applique

Sewing Room Secrets Sewing Caddy1

Given the choice, I prefer hand sewing over machine and appliqué has got to be one of my favourite techniques.  It’s like a form of art, I guess – the way you can take the teeniest, tiniest scraps and layer them, so as to build a picture out of nothing.  The down side to this, of course, is that I find it difficult to throw even the smallest piece of fabric away.

I recently made a little appliqued sewing caddy and it has been getting such a lot of attention from fellow stitchers that I thought I would share it here on my blog.

Sewing Room Secrets Sewing Caddy13

I first saw the pattern by Hitomi Fujita in one of my quilting magazines, yonks ago, and I fell in love with it straight away (Australian Patchwork & Quilting, Vol.4, No.6).

Australian Patchwork & Quilting MagBut, you know how it goes – it went down on my ‘to do’ list and then was forgotten about, until a few months ago, when I was flicking through my collection of old magazines (I can’t throw them away either :)) and I came across the pattern again. 

Sewing Room Secrets Sewing Caddy14

I’m so glad I didn’t just file the pattern away again, because now I have the most wonderful little home for all my sewing essentials.

Sewing Room Secrets Sewing Caddy11

There is a place for everything, from my embroidery scissors

Sewing Room Secrets Sewing Caddy9

a small fastener ensures that my scissors stay securely in place

to my tape measure and leather thimble

Sewing Room Secrets Sewing Caddy8

pockets where I keep my pins, embroidery threads and the all important stitch ripper!

Sewing Room Secrets Sewing Caddy10places for a ruler, pencils and threads

Sewing Room Secrets Sewing Caddy15

there is even a pin cushion and needle book

Sewing Room Secrets Sewing Caddy3

Sewing Room Secrets Sewing Caddy7The great thing is that the needle book and the pin cushion are both detachable from the pouch, as they are secured in place with velcro. Genius!

Sewing Room Secrets Sewing Caddy6

but, best of all, I got to do lots of lovely applique on the outside

Sewing Room Secrets Sewing Caddy5

Sewing Room Secrets Sewing Caddy2

This labour of love is now one of my most cherished creations ….. every stitch holding a memory of thousands of tiny seconds of time spent in my sewing room doing what I love most ♥

Happy stitching everyone!

** Edited 21.12.13**  I have had many requests for the pattern for this sewing caddy. Unfortunately, I don’t know where you might obtain the pattern these days – some of my readers have tried contacting the magazine, but unfortunately they have not been very helpful 😦  I do know that some people have managed to get a copy via Ebay and others via Bonanza.com or by posting a request on quilting forums.

Under copyright law, I am at liberty to publish my own photographs of my interpretation of the design, so long as I give credit to the source and the designer (which I have done in this post) but, unfortunately, the copyright for the design lies with the designer (which is not me!) and so I am not able to re-distribute the pattern in any shape or form, sorry. Natalie x

annual sewing retreat

Just got back from a fabulous weekend at Alston Hall with some of the lovely ladies from my sewing group.  Oh my goodness!  I have literally eaten the equivalent of what would feed a small family this weekend! The food was amazing! Back on the diet tomorrow for sure…. 

Alston Hall

For anyone not familiar with Alston Hall, it is an adult education centre set in a large Victorian House in Longridge, near Preston.  Perfect for a sewing retreat – large rooms, high ceilings and lots of natural daylight streaming in through large windows. There is a lovely relaxed atmosphere in the house, just like home from home really.  I spent the entire time in my slippers and tracksuit and no one batted an eyelid.

Besides eating my own body weight in food and laughing with my friends until my sides hurt, I actually managed to make a little bag for summer.

Phoebe bag

I used the Phoebe Bag pattern by Rebeka Lambert and I love how it has turned out. I’ve cut out another one already and can’t wait to get started!!

But, alas, there are packed lunches to make and clothes to iron and tomorrow’s dinner to think about, because it’s back to work on Monday.  Oh well, it was good while it lasted ….

Hope you all had a great weekend too.  Happy stitching!

mother’s day gifts

I have been wondering what to make with my stack of Suffolk Puffs

Stack of suffolk puffs - sewing room secrets

And, with Mother’s Day just around the corner, I really wanted to use them in a pretty way to make a gift for my Mum.  I had already purchased some delightful novelty pins from Teeny Tiny Vintage (trust me, her pins are even more gorgeous in real life!), but I wanted to give my Mum something else that I had made with my own two hands.

Pins

So ……  I began my usual ritual of ransacking my sewing room, trying to find inspiration from my stash of pretty fabrics, buttons, ribbons, lace and the like.

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For a while, I drew a blank, but then ‘it’ happened.  You know that moment when you get a picture in your head of ‘it’ – the thing you want to make – and suddenly you become even more frantic in your search for that ‘perfect piece of fabric’.  “I’ll know it when I see it” says the voice in your head and, sure enough, the exact fabric you need turns up… eventually.

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Amidst the mess that was once my tidy sewing room, I have managed to sew a cute wee zipper pouch and two lavender scented sachets.  All in all, I’m really happy with my efforts. All that’s left for me to do is to package it all up in a pretty ribbon, ready for Mother’s Day (after I’ve put my sewing room back together that is :))

Mother's day gifts from sewing room secrets

Mother's day gifts from sewing room secrets

Mother's day gifts from sewing room secrets

Happy Mother’s Day everyone! x