a little bit of whimsy

pillow front sewing room secrets

I didn’t intend to stitch a mushroom house.

But then we were challenged at our sewing group to make a 12 1/2″ block suitable for a child’s quilt, with a theme of ‘homes and gardens’. The quilt blocks will be donated to a charity called The Linus Project, sewn into quilts and given to sick children.  Great, I thought, can’t wait to get started!

It was the red and white polkadot fabric that caught my eye – that’s when the idea of a mushroom house began to take shape.

pillow angle2 sewing room secrets

So I appliqued the little house and a couple of clouds in the sky. But I didn’t stop there.  I love details you see.  I can’t help myself.  I stitched a crooked picket fence, a birdhouse, creeping vines, window boxes, birds, bees, bunting and roses around the door. Finally, some wisps of smoke billowing from the chimney (just to show that someone is home!).

flower detail sewing room secrets

embroidery detail2 sewing room secrets

bird house sewing room secrets

door2 sewing room secrets

When I’d finished, I soon realised that my whimsical little block wouldn’t really be suitable for inclusion in a child’s charity quilt that is likely to be washed repeatedly. Back to the drawing board to think of something else.

But I was determined not to let this cutie become just another UFO (unfinished object) so I made it into a cushion and added some sweet red & white binding around the edges (way easier than making piping!) .

cloud sewing room secrets

cushion on chair sewing room secrets

And speaking of cuties, I forgot to show you what I did with my little embroidered Harriet.  I framed her in a patchwork frame that I picked up at Ikea last year – it couldn’t have been more perfect for her! And the best part?  The frame was only £6! All I did was add a little wadding behind and some ric-rac around the inside edge to make it pop!

Harriet7

Harriet1

Harriet seems content in her new home 🙂

Natalie x

 

 

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‘sweet dreams’

Cover sewing room secrets.It’s funny where we get our inspiration from sometimes. I can’t say for sure exactly where mine comes from, it just kinda finds me somehow. Sometimes it’s a colour or a memory or just because I have a ‘need’ for a certain thing, so I try to figure it.

The inspiration for my latest little embroidery design came from an old sketch that I stumbled upon, in amongst some old photos recently.

Sketch

It was Christmas 1983 when I etched that little scene in my jotter at school.  I remember I was on ‘Library duty’ in the sixth form centre at the time and should have been using the time wisely to revise French.  But, as you can see, I had other things on my mind!

I should explain that the sixth form library was a partitioned off area in the corner of a much larger room. The partitions were made of floor to ceiling glass panels so you could see in and out of the library into the larger room/study area. There was always a teacher present in the study area to ensure that students were using the time productively to study.

Now I have no idea why I thought that the library was sound proof (call me naive or stupid – you choose) but that day, as I sat in the library on my own sketching my little Christmas scene, I began to sing ‘Jingle Bells’ at the top of my voice.  Oblivious to the fact that the entire sixth form could hear me, I then went on to sing other Christmassy tunes. I had belted out several renditions of ‘Rudolf’ before the teacher on duty got up from her desk and walked towards the library door.   As she stood in the doorway and barked “We can all hear you!!”, the entire room erupted with laughter (including me). Needless to say, I got a detention that day for my shenanigans, but on the up-side I managed to hide the little drawing and I’ve kept it all this time … 🙂

sketch2.

And now, more than 30 years later, I have sketched that little sleeping mouse again – only this time as an embroidery design. He looks like such a peaceful little soul, that wee mouse, gently snoozing under his quilt.

Sleepy head

I added some mini bunting above him, just for fun!

IMG_7739

I simply l-o-v-e-d stitching his little patchwork quilt. Cute, cute, cute!

full quilt.

I am gifting this little piece of hoop-art to my God-daughter to hang on her bedroom wall. I can’t wait to give it to her … hope she likes it.

IMG_7735

I’ve popped the pattern in my Etsy shop – it includes instructions on how to decorate your embroidery hoop and how to finish your hoop-art at the back too!  (I also think this little design would look super cute on a pillow or as a panel on a little tote bag )

IMG_7742..

 Happy stitching and ‘Sweet Dreams’ everyone!

Natalie  xx

 

 

thank you!

Just a quick post to say a massive thank you for all your lovely comments about my ‘twelve-years-in-making-scrappy-quilt’ (I really need to think of a catchier title 🙂 )

I am blown away by the reaction that my wee quilt story has sparked (over 2000 shares on Facebook – what?!?) – my word! Thanks you guys!

♥ ♥ ♥

Well now, what do you do when you finish one quilt?   I’ll give you three guesses, but you’ll get it in one … You start another one, right? Yay!

I’ve always fancied making a two colour quilt and have settled on this colour combo.  I’m going to machine quilt it this time though, so it shouldn’t take me another 12 years before I’m done!

Red grey fabrics

♥ ♥ ♥
 Happy stitching!
Natalie x

 

tidying up can unearth long forgotten treasure

I came across these tit-bits whilst I was tidying up today

Lola threads.

And it got me thinking.

Those gorgeous orangey shades reminded me of a certain lil’ redhead that I stitched once upon a time. .. can ya guess who? For anyone new to my blog, this is the sassy little lady I am referring to

Lola21

Needless to say, the tidying came to an abrupt end and I grabbed my pencils and paper and this wee sketch emerged …

Lola sketch

I am going to enlarge the drawing big enough for a cushion cover. I think Lola will look very ‘chic’ in a wide-brimmed hat and I’m looking forward to weaving those gorgeous strands into her lovely locks…

… am I sounding confident?  Like I have a plan and know exactly how to proceed? Good, cos I’m trying to convince myself that I do :).  Truth is, I have had these threads for years because I have absolutely no clue how to use them!  I bought them many moons ago for no other reason than I just had to have them. They shone and sparkled and called to me and I knew straight away that I needed them in my drawer life!

I am not at all sure how I will work the threads in –  they are all different thicknesses to begin with, not at all like ordinary embroidery floss.  I guess that’s why they are so appealing…

Lola threads

But I like them.

A lot!

So I am inspired to give it a whirl and see what happens, plan or no plan! 🙂

Happy stitching!

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

Harriet 8

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.

Notebook5

Add second accent strip Collage

Quote

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

set3

set2

 Happy stitching everyone!

Natalie x

 

 

santa basket

Santa basket pics 032

This little guy has been a regular in our house for the last couple of Christmases. He’s a great little chap for holding all the Christmas chocolates and usually raises a few smiles.

Santa basket pics 011

He’s really easy to make, all you need is:

  • a shallow wicker basket
  • a polystyrene ball
  • a hot glue gun
  • some scraps of fabric and felt
  • polyester stuffing
  • craft goggle eyes, a button, ribbon and a small bell

… and this is how I made him

1. Cut a strip of fabric long enough to go around the rim of the basket and wide enough to cover the sides and extend around the base.  The basket I used had a diameter of 7¼” and a depth of 2¾” which meant I needed a strip of about 24″ x 5″ to include 1/2″ seam allowances.  Sorry I can’t give exact measurements here, as it will all depend on how big your basket is, but what I would say is make it a little bigger than you think you need, as you can always trim it down.

2. Sew a 1/2″ hem along the long sides. Next, with right sides facing, stitch the short sides together to form a fabric ring. Place the basket inside the fabric ring with the wrong side of the fabric facing the outside of the basket. Use a hot glue gun to glue the fabric all the way around the rim of the basket, like a skirt. (Be careful, that glue can be mighty hot!). Allow the glue to set.

3. Turn the basket upside down and place a little polyester stuffing between the fabric and the basket to pad out the sides before gathering up the underside with a running stitch (I used quilting thread for strength), pulling it tight like this. Fasten off securely.

Santa basket pics 018

4. Glue a length of black ribbon around the rim to act as a belt and added a button to the front.

basket

5. Cut another strip of fabric long enough to reach just over half way around the rim, to act as the arms.  The rim of my basket is approximately 23″, so I cut a strip about 12″ x 4.5″, but again you will need to judge the size depending on the size of the basket you are using.

6. With right sides together, stitch the long sides of the strip together to form a tube and turn right side out. Stuff lightly with some polyester stuffing to within an inch of each end.

7. Cut some mittens from green felt and insert one into each end of the arm tube and stitch the ends closed securing the mittens in place. Glue a strip of white felt or wadding around each wrist.

Santa basket pics 0148. Wrap some strong thread around the centre of the tube to form two arms and glue the arms in place around the rim of the basket. I placed glue all along the seam line and then glued it to the basket in order to hide the seam 🙂

Santa basket pics 023

Santa basket pics 017

9. Make the head by covering a polystyrene ball with calico – simply place the ball in the centre of a large square of calico

Santa basket pics 046

10. Gather the fabric around the ball and tie it up with a hair scunci or elastic band.

Santa basket pics 039

11. Trim any excess fabric.

Santa basket pics 042

12. Tease out as many creases as you can to leave a relatively smooth area for the face.

Santa basket pics 045

13. The hat is just a triangle of fabric stitched into a cone shape and placed over the head (hiding the excess fabric and whatever you used to tie it up with!). Try to place the hat such that it hides as many of the creases in the calico as you can, leaving a smooth part showing for the face. Once you are happy with the placement, glue the hat to the head.

14. Decorate the face by gluing on some craft goggle eyes, a nose and add some cosmetic blush (or crayon) on the cheeks.  The nose is just a circle of calico filled with a little bit of polyester stuffing, which is gathered and stitched/glued in place.  You can use anything you like for the beard, from felt to wadding or cotton wool,  or you can make a cotton rag beard like I did.

Santa basket face

15. To make the cotton rag beard, simply cut 2 strips of calico 15″ x 3″, place one on top of the other and fold them in half length-ways. Stitch 1/4″ seam along the folded edge down the full length of the strip. Using small, sharp scissors, make perpendicular cuts about 1/4″ apart all along the raw edge side of the strip, taking care not to snip all the way up to your stitching. To get the lovely raggy look you will need to wash it and stick it in the tumble dryer.

Santa basket pics 033

16. Glue the beard in layers under the nose (there are 3 layers of cotton rag on my Santa).

17. Glue a strip of felt or wadding around the rim of the hat tucking any bits of beard under as you go.

Santa basket pics 012

18. Finally glue the head between the shoulders, add a bell to the hat and a wee bit of glitter here and there.

Ta-da!  You’re done! Put the kettle on – you’ve worked hard, time for a cuppa! 🙂

Santa basket pics 007

I think a snowman basket would also look great – you could knit him a lovely wee hat and scarf – must try that for next year 🙂 !

Right, I’d better get on with putting up the rest of the Christmas decorations … ♥ ♥ ♥

Natalie x

it’s a giveaway!

I promised you something a little bit lovely as a giveaway prize and I hope this wee offering fulfills that promise.

Set1

You wouldn’t believe it, but I have completely trashed my sewing room putting together that wee bit o’ nonsense. My husband entered my sewing room during my “creative phase” and gave me *that* look. You know the one; complete disbelief mixed with a slight suspicion of some kind of hidden mental illness. Mania perhaps?

“Do you really need to empty all this stuff on to the floor every time?” and “How can you find anything in all this mess?” was what he said, or words to that effect. He was genuinely perplexed, bless him.

Good questions.

Why do I do that? Every time.

scissors

supplies

Almost every other creative person I know does the same. You get a whiff of an idea and every piece of fabric, thread, button, lace, ribbon, felt etc that you own gets pulled out and examined for worthiness of inclusion in your current project. You can lose track of all earthly time and find yourself still in your jim-jams and furry slippers at 2.30 in the afternoon. Shocking!

Furry slippers and jim-jams

I had gone into Hobbycraft last week looking for something or other (can’t remember what?) and I came out, not with the thing I went in for, but with some beautiful Tilda fabric.

Sound like a familiar story? Are you kidding me, I know you guys do that kinda thing too 🙂

Tilda fabric

After much fabric stroking and fretting over the actual cutting up of such a thing of beauty, I finally convinced myself that it was the right thing to do. After all, it’s what the fabric would have wanted, right?

in progress

And with my Facebook page reaching a wee personal milestone of 2000 followers (I know! can you catch your breath!), I thought it timely to host a little giveaway to say ‘thanks’ for keeping me company all this time 

So, here it is … a pretty wee pouch for one lucky reader. Well worth getting my sewing room all messed up for 🙂

pouch5

The pouch is padded with cotton wadding for extra softness. A wee bit of lace and a few other carefully chosen embellishments help to create a delicate, feminine look that I just love!

Close up heart tag

pouch side on

The little suffolk puff has a brooch pin sewn on to the back of it, which allows you to detach it from the pouch, so you can pin it on to something else if you like. Nifty!

close up suffolk puff

Close up brooch on leaf

And whilst I was on a roll, I made a wee lavender sachet to match which I’ll include in the prize

Lavender sachet

Set from above 4

For a chance to win, here’s all you need to do:

  • be a follower of this blog by subscribing to email (click the box in the top right of the home page) or Bloglovin (or some other means!) and leave a comment below telling me which way you are following along. If you are a no-reply blogger, be sure to leave me an email address so I can contact you if you win 🙂
  • for a second chance to win pop over to my Facebook page and follow the instructions on the giveaway post pinned to the top of the page

That’s it!  The giveaway is open until 24th October 2013 at midnight, GMT, after which time a winner will be picked at random from all entries here and on Facebook. The winner will be announced on Friday 25th October 2013.

Good luck everyone and thank you for entering!

Natalie x

Edit: This giveaway is now closed, but you can purchase the pattern for the little zippered purse featured in this giveaway here.

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

zakka inspired gift set

With Christmas just around the corner, I have been putting some thought into what little fabric gifts I can make for friends and family this year.

Every year, I make Christmas cookies for the girls at work and last year I made some wee fabric gift bags to put them in

Gift bag template can be found here

Gift bag template can be found here

This Christmas I want to give the girls a little something to go with the usual cookies and I have been wondering what it might be. Every time I think of an idea, I have been jotting it down on a yellow sticky note and pinning it to the notice board in my sewing room.

Sticky notes are great when you need to jot something down real quick; I use them all the time! And I certainly wouldn’t be without them at work (along with the humble highlighter pen!)

sticky notes

Which got me thinkin’! Wouldn’t it be nice to have something pretty to keep them in?

Dangerous thing, thinkin’ … cos now my sewing room is all messed up again!  There are fabric scraps everywhere, I’ve completely forgotten to leave anything out of the freezer for tea, the housework is untouched and I have no idea where the time has gone! But I don’t care … not really

… cos now I have a whole bunch of these wee cuties! 🙂

Pile notes on top

pile aqua on top

Aqua open with pencil

This little sticky note keeper fits two sizes of stickies – 7.5cm square and 9.5cm square

Open showing different sizes of stickies

And the really cool part is that they happen to go great with the little twisted hexagon coasters that I made a couple of weeks ago!

twisted hexagon coaster

I added in a little Sarubobo keyring and Bob’s your Uncle! … a cute little Zakka inspired gift set was born! Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together 🙂

Green set with lily

Green set from above

Green side on

These little Zakka style gift sets will be perfect to accompany the Christmas cookies this year!  I just need to make another half a dozen sets and that’s Christmas 2013 all ‘sewn up’ … (pun intended folks 🙂 )

If you would like to make a sticky note keeper of your own, here’s how:

In the main fabric cut:

  • Four 5” x 1¼” strips (for the borders around the pinwheel centre)
  • Two 4½” x 5½” rectangles (for the back and the inside pocket)
  • One 4½” x 9½” rectangle (for the lining) 

You will also need:

  • Two 3” squares of fabric – one light, one dark – for the pinwheel
  • 5½” x 10½” piece of cotton wadding
  • One 3½” square and one 3¾” square of stiff card

Materials

First make the patchwork pinwheel …

*Use a ¼” seam throughout (unless otherwise stated)

Place the two 3” squares right sides together and sew a continuous ¼” seam all the way around the edge

sew all around the square

Cut the sewn squares in half diagonally.   Then cut again diagonally in the opposite direction

four trianglesPress the patches open towards the darker fabric

Press seams towards the dark fabric

Lay the four patches in the formation of a pinwheel.  It’s easy to mix the patches up and sew the wrong edges together, so I lay the pinwheel out right next to my machine and that keeps me on the right track 🙂

join four squares

Place patches 1 and 2 right sides together and sew together with 1/4″ seam. Join pieces 3 and 4 in the same way. Press the seams towards the dark side.

Join two halves of pinwheel

Now join section A and B with ¼” seam, making sure that  the centre seams are nested together

Press the seam open to reduce bulk

press the centre seam open

Trim the pinwheel – it should measure 3” square

Trim pinwheel

Stitch a 5” border strip to two opposite sides of the pinwheel patch and press the seams out towards the border

first two borders added

Trim the borders flush with the sides of the pinwheel patch

Trim first 2 borders

Stitch the other two border strips to the remaining sides of the pinwheel patch and press seams out towards the border

Pinwheel trimmed

You now have a framed pinwheel block – yay!

Stitch a 4½” x 5½” rectangle to the framed pinwheel block and press the seam away from the block.  Place the piece right side up on the wadding

Lay face up on wadding

Quilt the two layers together by stitching around the pinwheel square and inside the light coloured triangles, about ⅛” from the seam lines.  I did a mixture of hand stitching and machine stitching on mine and I also added a little bead to the centre.

Embellish pinwheel

Trim the wadding flush with the sides of your work

Trim Collage

Take another 4½” x 5½” rectangle and fold it in half, matching up the short sides. Press.  This will form a pocket on the inside.

press pocket

Lay the lining fabric on your work table right side up. Line up the raw edges of the folded pocket piece with the raw edges on one of the short sides of the lining fabric and pin in place

pin pocket to lining fabric

Next, lay the pinwheel panel right side down on top of the pocket panel, matching up all raw edges and pin. (The pinwheel should be at the opposite end to where you have pinned the pocket). Sew all the layers together, leaving the short edge nearest the pinwheel open

Join lining to front panel

Trim away some of the wadding to reduce bulk and clip the corners

Trim wadding

Turn right side out. *Tip – when turning things right side out,  I use a Phillips (star head) screw driver to push out the corners, as I find the little ‘star head’ helps to grip the fabric and is less likely to pierce it than a knitting needle or scissors would. Try it yourself and see what you think!

Insert a 3¾” square of stiff card through the opening and push it to the bottom. It’s a fairly snug fit, so you may have to give it a wiggle. *I used card that was 1/8″ thick for the first couple that I made, but then I used two thicknesses of cereal packet stuck together and that worked just fine.  I used a simple glue stick to stick the card together.

insert first card

Starting from the seam line of the pinwheel block, sew two lines of stitching ¾” apart.  These two lines create a sort of ‘spine’ and encase the cardboard at the same time

encase the first card

Place a 3½” square of stiff card into the opening up to the sewn line

Insert 2nd card

Last bit! Fold in the raw edges of the opening by about ¼” and pin

Close opening

Stitch the opening closed with a line of stitching very close to the edge. Continue to stitch all around the edge of the square very close to the edge, wiggling the cardboard out of the way as you go. I sewed along to the first corner and then, keeping the needle in the down position, I was able to wiggle the cardboard out of the way and pivot my work and sew to next corner and so on.

If you prefer not to sew a line all around the outside, you can just slip stitch the opening closed by hand.

sew close to the edge

finished

That’s it, you’re done!

All you need to do now is insert the back few pages of a sticky note pad into the little pocket and you have a pretty little home for your stickies (oh the simple things that please us eh?) 🙂

Aqua sticky note keep

You don’t have to have a pinwheel as your centre block.  Depending on how you sew your half triangle patches together, you will get a different pattern. For example, I put the patches together as a ‘broken dishes’ block in the centre of this one

red set with keys

… and this one

Pile green facing

Or you could perhaps keep the whole piece plain and embroider a little design on the front – I think some redwork on linen would look fab! A nine patch block would do the trick too – you do whatever takes your fancy.

I’m a wee bit fond of the little red set, so I might have to keep it for myself (maker’s perk an’ all:) )

red set with flower

red set from above

red set with pencil

red set open with pencil

I hope you have enjoyed this little project and feel inspired to make some of your own wee Zakka-style sitcky note keepers – if you do, I’d love to see some pics of your creations! 

Happy stitching and creating everyone

Natalie x

catching up …

… my recent holiday seems like a distant memory already and I have only been back a couple of weeks!

I had a wonderful time away, staying in a charming little cottage in Shropshire in the picture-postcard village of Ashford Carbonell.

Cottage

Grazer's Cottage

The trip was arranged as a way for Mum and I to spend some ‘girlie’ time together and we plan to make it a regular annual event. It was a lovely way to enjoy some good old mother/daughter bonding – we walked, we talked, we cooked (and ate too much!), we laughed and generally enjoyed each others company.

Shropshire is such a gorgeous part of England – unspoilt and uncrowded. Quaint little villages with a wealth of historical black and white buildings, charming tearooms, lots of quirky independent shops and stunning countryside.

One little tearoom we visited in Bridgnorth was a quilters dream!  Not only did they sell the most delicious home made cakes, but the whole place was adorned with stunning patchwork and quilted goodies.

Outside Number One

Inside 'Number one Tearoom'.

Lizard wallhangings

Wallhanging and cushions

Quilted hanging coneMaureen Shenton was the talented lady responsible for a lot of the quilted items in the shop and I had a lovely time chatting with her about her passion for quilting. Maureen also teaches workshops and offers a long arm quilting service.

There were lots of antique & vintage shops in the area and whilst browsing through one of them, I stumbled upon these two miniature brass keys.  I’m pretty sure that they aren’t actual antiques, but I snapped them up anyway, thinking that they will make really cute charms for home made gifts. Cute aren’t they?

Key charmsAnd, of course, no holiday would be complete without a visit to the local patchwork shop to pick up some ‘souvenirs’ 🙂

fabric findsI didn’t do any sewing whilst I was away but I have been getting back into the swing of things since getting back home.

Ever since I opened my Etsy Pattern Shop a few weeks ago, I have been very conscious of the fact that there were only two patterns listed in it (not much of a window display huh?), so I have been beavering away drafting some new ones to stock the shelves!

My ‘Crafty Creatures’ pattern is the newest addition to the shop.  Five fun little characters, filled with rice and each with their own personalised mini quilt! These little guys just love hanging around 🙂

Crafty CreaturesThere is Crafty Cat …

cat5

And Crafty Dog …

Crafty dawg

Crafty Sheep…

Sheep

And Crafty Frog …

frog

And poor old Crafty Pig thinks he’s a mug rug, bless him, … but you know what, as long as he’s happy an’ all, I’m just gonna let him be 🙂

Crafty Pig

I love having these little guys around, they just make me smile. Feels like I’m 8 years old again and living with Dr Dolittle!

I’ve also designed one more little ‘Harriet’ project in the form of a wee wallhanging with a simple patchwork border. This one shows the cheeky side to her character as you can see … perfect for a little girl’s room!

On white

And, whilst I had my scrap bag out, I found a neat little hexagon coaster tutorial over at Canoe Ridge Creations, so I ran up a set of them using some pretty scraps and linen. I am just adding a simple running stitch to the centres and tomorrow, I’ll wrap them up in tissue paper and tie them up all pretty with ribbon – a little ‘gift-ette’ for a friend I’m seeing this weekend 

twisted hexagon coasters

…and so, as the summer of 2013 draws to a close, I can feel a distinct autumnal nip in the air and I’m thinking maybe I will be needing the patchwork quilts out of the airing cupboard soon, to snuggle under when the nights draw in…

… autumn and winter have their up sides too 🙂

Happy stitching everyone!

Natalie x

hexagons for harriet

….. my ‘hexagon-itis’ continues to worsen and I fear I may be well on my way to a diagnosis of hexie-mania!

I really have got it bad! I sneak them everywhere with me – my wee pink sewing tin fits discreetly in my handbag and I find myself whipping it out for a quick fix any opportunity I get …(please don’t judge me)

Hexies in a tin

tin & hexies2

I’ve even been ‘hexagon-ating’ in public … yep, in the dentist’s waiting room, at my desk in work, on a park bench, in the garden  …

Garden table

hexies close up3

Hexies on the grass

On the plus side, I find that each time I make a few of these six-sided cuties, it seems to ease the symptoms … if only a little 🙂

Hexy flower with scissors

The recent heatwave in the UK has made it difficult to do any serious sewing as it has just been too darn hot! However, the last couple of days have seen a drop in temperature, which has been a welcome relief and I have been able to work on the cushion I was making for my sewing chair, using my ‘Harriet & her Teddy’ embroidery design (available in my Etsy shop).

Harriet before applique

Harriet side view

If you are not familiar with the English Paper Piecing method for making hexagons, there are oodles of great tutorials out there, so I won’t re-invent the wheel by doing another one here. For small hexagon paper piecing, I can recommend this tutorial from V and Co – it has lots of great close up photographs and easy to follow tips and advice. And for those of you who want to go to the next level and learn some imaginative and creative ways to use hexagons in your quilts, I would highly recommend a visit to Faeries & Fibres for lots of tips, tutorials and hexie inspiration.

Hexy flower side view

Hexy flower very close

Hexies close up

When joining one hexagon to another here are a couple of tips that work well for me:

  • I like to use a fine needle (size 10) so that I can easily catch the fabric as close to the edge as possible. This helps to make sure that your stitches don’t show up as much on the right side of your work.
  • I prefer to use ladder stitch rather than the more usual whip stitch for the same reason, that it helps to hide your stitches.

I also like to use a paperclip to hold the paper in place whilst tacking down the sides, but some people use freezer paper or even a glue stick to stabilize the paper template. 

hexie paper clip

I always think that a cushion looks so much more polished and professional when edged with some piping, don’t you? But I get put off at the thought of having to make all that bias binding and usually just end up doing the standard plain edge finish. But not this time…. 

cushion side on

Sewing is a continually evolving journey.  No matter how long you have been stitching, there is always a new technique to learn or a fresh way to look at something you thought you already knew.  I had come across tutorials in the past on how to make continuous bias binding, but had never tried it out for myself.  This technique is basically a way to eliminate the tedious task of having to join all those bias strips, end to end, to get the length you need. I used this tutorial by Sew Mama Sew to show me how and, oh my goodness! Why have I never done this before?  It’s pure magic! I don’t think I will ever make bias binding any other way!

Piping cord covered in continuous bias binding

Piping cord covered in continuous bias binding

I machine appliqued a row of hexies to decorate the back

Hexy border

back border

Cushion back

And so, my little Harriet now adorns this cute little cushion on my sewing chair …

Cushion on sewing chairUp until now, Lola has been ‘my girl’, but I know that there is room enough in my heart for little Harriet too 

Happy stitching everyone!

Natalie x

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!

Lola23

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!

Lola24

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!

I’d like you to meet ‘Lola’

Do you ever have times when you get ‘half’ an idea, but it feels all scattered in your head and you just have to keep playing with it until it eventually becomes something solid?

‘Lola’ has been on my mind for a wee while now.

Lola1

After sketching her outline and transferring it to linen using a washable marker, I appliqued her headband using some of the red & white polka dot fabric I had left over from making the little LiliPopo glasses case. Normally, I like to applique by hand, but I thought this particular design would look better with some machine stitching.

Lola2

I started by outlining the basic shape of her hair using two strands of embroidery floss and a simple back stitch.  I then did some colouring-in with crayon! No kidding! Crayon! I thought it would be a good idea to have the colour show through any gaps in the stitching.

Lola4I wanted to keep her fringe heavy and have it sweep across her forehead to cover one eye. I have layered in some texture to her hair by varying the thickness and colour of the threads I used. The whole thing has been sewn using only three simple embroidery stitches – straight stitch, split stitch and couching.

That’s what I love about embroidery – the simplest of stitches are all you need to paint a picture on a blank canvas.

Lola8

I used a single strand of golden yellow for the ‘highlights’ and simply couched it in places to create waves (check out my hairdressing action 🙂 ) I also used some nobbly dolls hair that I bought ages ago, and it’s been perfect for creating a tight curl effect.  Again, I’ve simply couched it in place.

I’ve loved watching Lola’s personality come to life – to me she looks kinda cool and edgy – and I really feel that I’ve got to know her during our time together. And the name …. Lola? Well, I think it suits her don’t you?

And I couldn’t leave her nameless could I? Cos then she wouldn’t be real …… 

Lola11

I think I’m a wee bit in love with ‘Lola’ …. ♥ 

But what to do with her now?  …..I’m already working on it  🙂

Happy stitching everyone!

zakka style

Copy of fabric boxes2

A phrase that keeps turning up a lot in sewing circles lately is “Zakka Style”.  Zakka is a type of Japanese design that uses the art of the handmade to create fresh and modern items for your home. Everyone’s take on Zakka is a little different and that is what makes it so versatile and fun!

Last month at my sewing group, a quilting friend brought along a little book that she had recently purchased containing a collection of various Zakka style projects from some of the most talented designers the stitching world has to offer.

Copy of fabric boxes 3

I was immediately oohing and ahhing at the image on the cover – a set of 3 nesting storage boxes designed by Laurraine Yuyama of Patchwork Pottery.  Next thing I know, I have abandoned the project I had brought along for that day and made a start on the first of these cute little fabric boxes.

Copy of fabric boxes1

I started with the medium sized one first

fabric boxes9

I added beads to the centre of the flowers just to boost the ‘cuteness’ factor

fabric boxes 18

and, for a while, this lonesome little fabric box made a very comfortable home for my knitting yarns

fabric boxes8

fabric boxes 7

After being side-tracked for a time with other projects (that kinda happens with us stitchin’ folk :)), I have finally finished the set.  Ta daa!

fabric boxes 10

I was going to use them as storage bins in my sewing room, but I rather like them in the bathroom.  The cool aquas and greens seem to be quite at home in there, so that’s where they are staying …. at least for now.

fabric boxes11

fabric boxes14

The dinky tiny one is real cute don’t you think?  I might use that one to keep cotton wool in.

fabric boxes15

fabric boxes13

fabric boxes17

fabric boxes16

Trouble is, the towels suddenly look rather ‘tired’ now that these refreshing little items of ‘newness’ have appeared in the bathroom! Time for new ones, me thinks 🙂

Happy stitching everyone!

it’s giveaway time!!

OK, so here’s the thing – I’ve just got wind that there is a mahoosive giveaway taking place over at Sew Mama Sew (yes, I know, I’m probably the last to know *hangs head in shame*).  Anyways, I’ve decided to join the party, albeit a little late!

I’m going to give away my ‘Wee Sheeps’ pouch that I blogged about a couple of weeks ago.

wee sheeps

sheep3

pouch back

sheep9

All you need to do to enter the giveaway is leave a comment below in answer to this really tricky question:

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

For a second chance to win (optional), follow ‘Sewing Room Secrets’ on Facebook or Bloglovin (or both!) and leave a second comment below telling me which way you are following.

That’s it!  The giveaway is only open until 10th May 2013 at midnight, GMT so get your entries in quick and spread the word if you can (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook etc), so others can enter too. I will announce the winner on 11th May. Oh, and don’t forget to visit Sew Mama Sew for loads more chances to enter the other fantastic giveaways.

Good luck everyone and thank you for entering!

 

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

Liebster Award

liebster

I have been nominated for a Liebster Award by the lovely Irina over at El Petit Taller.  Thank you Irina!

If you’ve never heard of this award before, it is for fledgling bloggers like myself and is a way for them to get to know others, get more followers and discover other blogs that they might like!

To accept the award there are a few rules to follow:

  • Each blogger should answer the questions the tagger has set for you.
  • Choose eleven new bloggers (with less than 200 followers) to pass the award on to and link them in your post.
  • Create eleven new questions for the chosen bloggers.
  • Comment on their page to tell them about the award.
  • Each blogger should post eleven random facts about themselves.
  • No Tag Backs!!!

These are the questions Irina has asked me:

1. what person do you most admire?  My Mum! I admire her for many reasons,  not least for her courage, her boundless energy and her capacity to always put others before herself.  She has taught me the value of family, friendship and love.

2. what’s on your bedside table right now? A reading lamp and a photograph of me and my son when he was about 4 years old (he is 19 now).

3. what’s your favorite cooking recipe?  I have a really sweet tooth, so my favourite recipe is for Mary Berry’s Lemon Drizzle Cake.  It’s super easy – plop everything into a bowl and mix! Never fails – yum!

4. is there a sewing book you would recommend? The first sewing book I ever referred to was ‘The Sampler Quilt Book’ by Lynne Edwards. It was the perfect introduction to patchwork and quilting! I also like Strips & Strings by Evelyn Sloppy.

5. what’s your favorite journey? Home. My favourite journey always leads me home.

I would like to nominate these lovely blogs for a Liebster Award:

And these are my questions for them:

  1. Sweet or savoury?
  2. A few really good friends or lots of acquaintances?
  3. City girl or country?
  4. Morning person or night owl?
  5. What is the most unusual thing you have ever eaten?
  6. What is your earliest memory?
  7. What is your favourite smell?
  8. What 3 words would you choose to describe yourself?
  9. What qualities do you most treasure in a friend?
  10. How did you choose a name for your blog?
  11. Is there such a thing as ‘enough’ fabric?

Now for some random facts about me:

  • I cannot walk in heels to save my life
  • As a teenager, I once fell asleep on a bus – standing up!!
  • I lived in Cyprus for 3 years from the ages of 3 to 6
  • I went to a total of 14 different schools when I was growing up
  • My favourite chocolate is Lindor by Lindt 
  • I love to bake
  • 24 years ago I had a holiday romance and I’m still married to him!
  • I am a self confessed fabric stroker
  • My favourite book is ‘The Secret Life of Bees’ by Sue Monk Kidd
  • I love the sight of bluebells in the woods, so beautiful!
  • I have a miniature Yorkshire Terrier called Beebo

Beebo

Now all that’s left for me to do is to pop over to my chosen blogs and let them all know that I have nominated them for this wonderful award!  But before I do, I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures of a quilt I made from the ‘Strips & Strings’ book I mentioned earlier.

strips & Strings1

strips & Strings2

Happy stitching everyone!

spring arrives with a baa-ng!

sheep7

I’m back in my sewing room after a lovely Easter break with my family in Northern Ireland.   Long walks, (way too many) coffee shops and ‘wee buns’, warm fires at night and a glass or two of my favourite tipple!

Irish Mist

It’s funny, but I still refer to Northern Ireland as ‘home’, even though I have lived in England now for more than half of my life. There is definitely something magical about going ‘home’ – that feeling of true belonging that cannot be felt anywhere else on earth.

It was lambing season whilst I was there, but sadly there were fewer lambs than usual in the fields surrounding my parents house this year. The recent heavy snow falls meant that many sheep and their lambs perished, buried in huge snow drifts of up to fifteen feet high in some areas! 

Thankfully, many pregnant ewes survived the harsh conditions and, now that the snow has all but melted, lambs are once again a happy sight on the Irish hillsides 🙂

sheep in snow1

sheep in snow2

It was scenes like the ones above that inspired me to create a sheep-themed pouch like the button pouch featured in my ‘button love’ post.

sheep4

sheep3

 

pouch back

 

sheep9

I use this one to keep cotton wool in, but there are any number of uses for it. You can find the tutorial for it here.

sheep10

I’m back home in England now and as I sit at my sewing table, looking out at the daffodils making a later than usual appearance, it makes me smile to see their sweet golden faces heralding the arrival of spring at last!

daffodils

Happy stitching everyone!