Friday, 30 December 2011

A bit of breathing space..

Its always a bit of a strange time this. The massive build up to Christmas is suddenly over and, not that I didn't have a great one (and I hope everyone else did), but the anticipation never quite lives up to the day itself. The girls had opened all of their presents within half an hour, which is less time than it took Mr B and I to assemble their respective scooters. Note to self, as still relatively inexperienced parents, next year have on hand:
Batteries of assorted sizes.

I honestly needed more tools for their presents than I use on servicing a saxophone. Must be better prepared in future.
The week before Christmas was a manic rush of present preparation and friend visiting. I must at this point thank to good people of Fakenham. Market day before Christmas, a friend and I donned out purple sequined Santa hats and entertained (presumably) the shoppers with a bit of festive busking. Its the first time I have played in public for well over ten years and wasn't the ritual humiliation I was expecting. And the pennies in the hat were enough to tell us our 'talents' had been appreciated. Worth standing out in the cold for, and good fun too.. Sometimes its good to try something that puts you out of your comfort zone. Do I sense a New Years resolution coming on??

So to business.

I feel like I'm becoming a bit of an advertising space for Urban Threads, but they have had a massive influence on what I've been up to recently. Which is why a combination of this as a free download a couple of weeks ago:
and some perishing weather led me down the line of a good old fashioned muff.

And very cosy it is too. Simply cut a piece of denim 12" x 17" and a piece of faux fur 16" x 17".
Sew the shorter edges of both pieces together. I put a neck strap on this one. Then I made two without and in retrospect I wish I'd left the strap off this one, but if you wish to add one, cut a strip of denim 4" by your requisite length, turn the edges in by 1/2"  and iron, then fold in half, press and sew down each side. Sandwich this in between the edges of the outside before you sew it up, about an inch in from the edge, pointing downwards:
Then, and this was a little bit of trial and error I must admit, and I no doubt there are easier ways to do it, I tucked the denim inside the fur, right sides facing and sewed around the opening on one side. I then turned it the right way out, tucked the edge of the fur under and pinned it to the other edge of the denim and sewed around that edge to finish. I did find that putting the zipper foot on the machine meant that I didn't get the foot of the machine caught up in the furriness. Its a very simple thing to do and I love mine.

When I say that Urban Threads has had a big influence on me, I think just about every ones Christmas presents that were made by me had a bit of them on somewhere. I was musing about Kirstie Allsopp's book binding in my last post. Well I got me some leather and ta-dah!
They snuck onto an apron too:
Not to mention a custom knitting bag I made:

The possibilities.. endless.

Right, I'm off to burn some more leather. Happy days.

And a happy New Year too. xx

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Mad as a March Hare

I realise that its apparently less than three weeks until Christmas. Well I didn't until Kirsty Allsop just told me. And in advance, my apologies. I have one eye on writing the post and one on Kirsty's Handmade Christmas. So I hope this makes sense.
The reason for the title is this:
My tasty new bag. Its what happens when you've been sitting on some sale fabric with an Alice in Wonderland theme, all white rabbits, playing cards, pocket watches; and a machine embroidery pattern of a rather dapper rabbit. Yes, the new toy is working, my purse is a lot lighter after downloading a good few patterns (thanks Urban Threads), and acquiring a good stash of coloured threads, and my patience is once again slightly tested, but its worth it as I just stand there and watch the machine do its business, creating wonderful patterns.
Anyhow, with these items at my disposal, plus some red suede effect curtains on their third lease of life, I spent yesterday evening making something for myself. I know I should be on the Christmas present trail, but there's plenty of time..!?

The Wonderland Bag Tutorial

You will need:
2@16"x10"  Main fabric
2@16"x10" Lining Fabric
4@16"x7" velvet/suede fabric
2@34"x4" velvet/suede for handles
2@16"x16" heavy iron on interfacing
2@34"x3" heavy iron on interfacing for handles
Magnetic snap.

  • Pin a piece of the main fabric to the suede fabric along the long edge RSF (right sides facing) and sew together with a 1/2" seam allowance. Open out and press (carefully. I had to iron the back of my suede fabric as the iron stuck to the front, so double check on a spare piece), then top stitch a double line.

Repeat with the other pieces.
  • Iron the interfacing on the back.
  • Sew on any applique you might fancy using at this point.

  • Pin a 1" deep pleat 4" from each side edge, then sew down the length of each pleat to the join between main fabric and suede.
  • Make your handles next. Iron the interfacing in the centre of the handle fabric, fold the edges in 1/2" then fold in half and pin. Iron at each stage of folding, then sew 1/8" down each side.
  • Attach your handles to the bag pieces. Line them up with the pleats, pointing downwards and make sure they're not twisted then sew in place. repeat on other piece
  • Pin your two main pieces together, then sew around the edge of the main fabric up to the join with the suede. Trim the corners, turn right side out and iron.
  • Now to the lining, which is made in exactly the same way as the outer panels- attach lining to suede and top stitch, put in the pleats, add a pocket if you so wish. I had another piece of material I had experimented with the rabbit embroidery on, so I used that. Now is also the time to put in your magnetic snaps too. I have found through trial and error that the best way is to back them with some extra heavy iron on interfacing and a square of card. The last thing you want to have happen is the wings of the snap tear through your material. Once all of this is done, pin the pieces together RSF and once again sew around the lining material up to the join with the suede, remembering to leave a 4" gap at the bottom for turning.
  • Nearly there! Cut a small nic where the sewing of the panels together finishes. This will help it to lie flat. Place your outer bag inside the lining. Make sure that right sides are facing and the straps are tucked out of the way. Pin together, lining to outer bag, then take a deep breath, cross your fingers and sew together. It is a bit bulky in places so you'll need to tread with care, but my machine made it (obviously the threats worked!). Trim the corners, turn the right way out through the hole in the lining.
  • Top stitch around the edges and slip stitch the hole closed.  You've done it!

Was a bit of a task this one, took me about three hours to do, but I was kind of making it up as I went on. I still haven't decided whether to box the corners yet. Think I'll live with it for a bit. See how it goes. Now all I need is my heart purse frame to arrive and I can make the matching purse. And now, Thank you Kirsty, I want to try my hand at some book binding. Find me some leather!


Friday, 2 December 2011

Pretty Fly Polar Bear

Well you know its been a while when blogger doesn't come up on the index list on the tool bar!

So December has hit. Finally. Feels like I've been waiting for it for ages. Craft shops and magazines have you gearing up for it so far in advance that when it actually arrives, you're not sure whether you've overdone it already!

One craft fayre down, one to go, and I'm very pleased to say that the first was a big success so thank you to everyone who came along and made me a happy bunny! I've spent this last week restocking on the things that seemed to be most popular but its so difficult to tell whats going to sell. Typically, I make Christmas bunting, get asked if I have any that isn't Christmassy. Hmmm.

Never mind. Once this one is out of the way, to hell with it, the Christmas tree is going up. I used to be a bit bah, humbug about Christmas, I must admit. Then again, I was conversing with an old school friend the other evening about how my days were taken up with school run, washing, cleaning, supermarket shopping- since when did I become a housewife? That was never in the plan. The plan was, as he pointed out, to change the world and paint the town red. Well that never happened.  Likewise, the tree and decorations wouldn't see the light of day until the week before the day itself. Children are the great life changer.

A case in point. I love The Offspring. One of my favourite bands of all time. First saw them twenty years ago and quite a considerable number of times since. This small, shades wearing, polar bear sings Pretty Fly For a White Guy. Smallest daughter loves it. Played it almost continually until the batteries ran out.

She danced along with it too! Those are my boots by the way, she may be tall for her age, but her feet ain't that big yet.

I will never think of The Offspring in the same way again. And that's before we get to young Wilbsy singing 'give it to me baby, a-ha, a-ha' at the dinner table last night. Oh dear.