Category Archives: sewing

Catching up

-Well, hello again!

Not sure I’ll be able to catch up with everything that’s happened over the last few months, but I’ll give it a go…

About a month before Christmas, I turned *gulp* 50. Not quite sure how that happened, as I’d swear it’s only a couple of years since I left home, but my birth certificate doesn’t lie. Anyway, various members of my family got together and paid for me to attend a residential craft course of my choosing – a lovely idea for a present. The course I chose was “Machine Embroidery”, offered by Anglia Leisure Learning and tutored by Annette Morgan.

The venue was very good, food was plentiful (too plentiful, really, my jeans got very tight) and tasty and the organisation was excellent. The class was very small (just two students) and Annette was a wealth of knowledge and inspiration. We started off making paper collages, which were then scanned and printed onto heat transfer paper, transferred onto fabric and then stitched, cut, bondawebbed and generally fiddled around with. There were mistakes, obviously, but these led on to new discoveries – accidentally ironing gold transfer foil all over my fabric, instead of just a few selected areas allowed me to discover a) how difficult transfer foils is to remove and b) what an interesting effect is produced by scratching the surface of said foil with the side of a scissor blade.

I spent a very happy two-and-a-half days up to my elbows in vilene, threads, bondaweb, fuse fx, calico, heat transfer paper, paint, glue and fabric. At the end of it all, I had produced this:

Birling Gap at low tide. Printed fabric (heat transfer paper), machine embroidery

Birling Gap at low tide. Printed fabric (heat transfer paper), machine embroidery

It has now been mounted on an artist’s canvas, which I covered in some lovely textured hand-made paper, and hung on the wall.

Since coming home, I have had another go using similar techniques and produced this one, too:

Boats Printed fabric, heat transfer paper, solufleece, machine embroidery, transfer foils

Printed fabric, heat transfer paper, solufleece, machine embroidery, transfer foils

I haven’t decided yet how to frame/mount this one so it’s just languishing in a corner at the moment, but I hope to finish it off very soon.


Knitting has taken quite a back seat lately – there are lots of projects in my queue on Ravelry, but I just don’t seem to have any inclination to start anything. The current WIP is a pair of gloves – rather lovely gloves, actually – but they’ve been half-finished for months now and I’m not even sure where they are!

have finished a weaving project – a silk twill scarf for my lovely sister-in-law – but rather stupidly, I don’t seem to have a photo of it. It was quite a challenge to make, as twill is much easier to do on loom with multiple harnesses rather than the rigid-heddle loom that I have, but I got there in the end. I didn’t swear much, either. Well, not that much…


Since the weather finally seems to have got over itself and become a bit more seasonal, Bethany and I have made the most of it in our usual fashion:

Pimm's, lemonade, ice, mint, cucumber, strawberries

Pimm’s, lemonade, ice, mint, cucumber, strawberries

Speaking of which: it’s Pimms o’clock!

Till next time…


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But I’m supposed to be on holiday…

…from work, anyway.
I’ve had this week off and the week before last, too, but have been busy, busy, busy.
Apart from keeping an eye on Lyra, who I introduced in the last post, I’ve been hard at it on my sewing machine; I have made four tops, a skirt and a secret thing that I can’t talk about yet, ’cause it’s, y’know, secret.
I bought this book a few weeks ago and have so far made a raglan-sleeve top from some Liberty Tana lawn, a boat-neck jumper (shortened to tunic length to wear with leggings) from denim-blue linen, a yoked skirt from some cotton bought as a remnant yonks ago, a cap-sleeved top from some drastically-reduced-in-price linen/cotton blend and a chinese-collared shirt from some pale blue lightweight linen. I may make one of the wrapover tops at the weekend, too. The patterns are generally simple to make but I think a beginning-sewer might struggle a bit as the book assumes a certain amount of prior knowledge. My only gripe is that the patterns (8 basic patterns, plus variations) are all printed on just four sides of paper and are all  in the same colour, so tracing them is a bit of a nightmare (especially when Lyra is trying to “help” by knocking the pencil out of my hand, grabbing the scissors, slashing the tracing paper with her claws and then trying to bite my arm). Each side of the paper has two designs and it would have made life much, much easier if different colours had been used for each design – not too hard for modern printing presses, presumably?

No photos yet because:

  • two of the tops are already in the laundry bin, awaiting…er…laundering
  • I’m at home alone at present and would not be able to manage decent pics without some kind of assistance (not Lyra’s kind of assistance); where are my slaves daughters when I need them?

Lyra, as you can probably guess from the comments above, is settling in very well; right now she is snoozing in her play-tunnel, probably because she is all tuckered-out after her manic sessions of charging around the house like a whirling dervish and fiercely killing three toy mice/rats/knitted thingies several times over. I expect she’ll wake up again when the sewing machine lurches into action later on. It’s very disconcerting trying to sew a straight seam when a little tabby face is right behind the arm of the machine and little white paws keep trying to grab the needle as you are sewing.

Such innocence…

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Hello Strangers!

Me again, I’m back!

No particular reason for being AWOL, just didn’t feel like blogging.

I may not have been blogging, but I have been doing other stuff:

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I think the captions are self-explanatory.

Oh yeah, I had a birthday whilst absent from the blogosphere. The lovely pressies I received are great compensation as I come to terms with the fact that I am now in my 50th year…


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Just an ordinary Sunday

Before I start on the main part of today’s post, please have a quick look at this link. Huge thanks to those who have already pledged their hard-earned dosh, and “Oi! Get on with it!” to those who have not quite managed to do so yet…:)

Moving swiftly on…

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A couple of years ago, my kitchen was re-fitted – out went the yucky green-but-painted-white 70s cupboards and the hideous blue and yellow mosaic that I made to cover up even more hideous puky-coloured tiles, and in went lovely, sleek, oak-coloured cupboards, my gorgeous range cooker and the slate-look laminate flooring. Perfect. The guy who fitted it all was very thorough and even managed to get rid of the small leak by the main stop-cock, which had caused the old flooring to lift up. I revelled in my new kitchen (not so much the price-tag…) and enjoyed being in there; it even seemed bigger, although I know it wasn’t.

I noticed a little while ago that the door wasn’t opening as easily as it used to, and on closer inspection, discovered that this was due to the flooring going a bit… strange. Bits of the laminate appeared to have bubbled up around the edges and were catching on the bottom of the door. I didn’t want to be in the kitchen so much, it wasn’t perfect any more 😦

Anyway, the enormous trench that makes up the first photo in today’s slideshow was dug, and the old pipes were found to have been incorrectly lagged so the copper had reacted with the concrete and the pipes had turned to…well… sponge, really and the dampness had gradually permeated up to my lovely laminate floor. It’s been sorted now, but the new concrete has to dry out completely before the flooring can be replaced, so the fridge/freezer is standing right in the middle of the kitchen (it couldn’t be more in the way), making even the easiest tasks into a triumph of ingenuity and chess-like manouevres as so many places are now kinda inaccessible, and will remain there for the best part of the week.


kitchen temporarily abandoned, I’ve had to find other ways to amuse myself, which is why you can see pictures of a quilt and a bag.

The quilt is for Lucy, design chosen by her from my copy of  Jelly Roll Quilts, and made using a jelly roll that I picked up for half-price because its label was missing so I’ve no idea what the fabric collection is, except that it is a Moda collection. I know, helpful, aren’t I?

The bag was made this afternoon, about four hours start-to-finish, including quite a bit of seam-ripping when I realised that what I was trying just wasn’t going to work…I’m such a tool, sometimes, and should have realised by now that if something seems too simple to be true, that’s probably because it is, and better brains than mine have already figured out the solution. Oh well…

The bag is  convertible because it can be used as a regular kind of shoulder bag/handbag-type jobby, but the flap is actually an extension of the bag, and unfolds to make almost a tote-bag sized bag, perfect for when you need to pick up a few bottles of plonk  some emergency cat-food or some such on the way home from work. I just need to get some silver-coloured popper studs (to match the twist lock) and it will be finished. Just need to think of a name for the design now.

(Oh yes, the fabric for this is from Amy Butler’s Love collection – yay! I remembered!)

Anyway, there’s a large Belgian iced bun with my name on it,  l8ers, peeps! xx


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…you’d think, at my age, that I would have learnt some simple principles of good (or at least adequate) housekeeping – y’know the sort of thing: making sure there is plenty of loo roll available, using up older foodstuffs before starting on the new, regular routine for housework, etc, etc. I have blogged before  about my failings in these areas and I’m sorry to say that things have not improved. I am ashamed.

Today’s dinner is garlic and rosemary chicken with roast spuds and veg, but it nearly didn’t happen – the cupboard where I keep  the potatoes had a plentiful supply, but very few of them were actually useable,  unless I wanted to plant them in the garden; most had sprouts, some were extremely wizened, and some even had tiny, weeny little potatoes growing from the sprouts! I managed to find enough that were sort-of-alright to peel and put in the roasting tin with the chicken, but the rest…well, let’s just say that the composter is feeling nicely full…

It remains to be seen whether there are enough “edible” (i.e. do not pose a hazard to human health) vegetables in the fridge to complete this great repast.

In an attempt to redress the balance a little, I shall move on to other areas of domesticity – cleaning.

As you can probably guess, I dislike cleaning in general (you spend a great deal of time and effort on it, only to have to do it all over again the next week/month/year!), although I do like the satisfaction that results from it, and the improved appearance of the house…cleaning the bathroom, though, is a particular dislike.

There are a number of problems with the bathroom, the main one being that it is an extension on the back of the house and therefore has three outside walls; combine that with a total lack of insulation and major condensation is what follows. The ventilation is also inadequate (especially in winter when you don’t want the window open) so there is  serious mildew – it’s on the walls, on the grouting between the tiles, on the ceiling blah, blah, blah. I have tried all sorts of methods to try and get rid of this buggering, bollocking, arsing mess rather unsightly and unwelcome guest but with little, if any, improvement. Until yesterday. Yesterday, I used SOME OF THAT CLEANER THAT IS ADVERTISED BY BARRY WHO SHOUTS ALL THE TIME, and what can I say? Nothing short of miraculous. The grouting is white again, and when almost your entire bathroom is covered in one-inch mosaic tiles, that is a lot of grouting. Unfortunately, it’s not suitable for painted surfaces so I need to find something else that will work on the walls and ceiling, but at least there is progress.

Oh yeah…this is meant to be knitting blog, isn’t it? Well, there isn’t any knitting to show you (I’ve finished a pair of socks, but they’ve not been photographed yet), but there is this:

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Crochet Motif Cardi by Kristen Ten Dyke (pattern available here).

It looks better on the mannequin than on me, mainly because I have more…er…frontage…

I like the way the motifs cease to look like motifs when they are all joined together but I’m not sure how much I’ll wear this as it tends to slip off my shoulders quite a bit. Some of the instructions for the neckline were a little confusing (I think right and left got muddled up) but apart from that it was a well written pattern with helpful diagrams.

Also, summer is here, there’s a rose in my garden!!

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Whatever happened to April?

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Much sewing and some visiting, plus a tiny celebration of a royal occasion – that’s what happened to April 🙂

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In the groove

The other day, I was talking to a sewing/knitting friend of mine about how she managed to sew her piping cord so neatly and she said it was down to her sewing machine’s piping foot. I have to admit to being rather sceptical about this, as I have tended to think that a lot of these “specialist” machine feet are gimmicks to increase sales for the manufacturers, but I was so impressed by Jen’s piping that I ordered one that evening. It arrived yesterday and I put it to use straight away on the cushion(s) I am making/have made for my mum (more on those later…); well, colour me impressed! So easy to use but what a difference – for the first time ever, I am very pleased with the way the piping fits snugly into the seam. The foot has a sort of inverted groove on the bottom, which fits over the piping cord and holds it firmly in place as you sew so there’s no chance of it escaping and wriggling away on its own (as mine have done regularly in the past). I am now a total convert and envisage  my piping foot and me spending many happy hours together in the future.

Anyway, the cushions. The rather vague reference to how many there are, and at what stage of completion is due mainly to the fact that these cushions are now rather overdue, and I feel quite guilty about this. They were supposed to be for my mum’s birthday which was 3rd February, but they were not finished because of a) my own stupidity/lack of skills in maths and b) a very bad back.

I’ll explain…

Mum and Dad had their three-piece suite recovered just before Christmas and Mum decided she would like a couple of  scatter cushions for the settee. Having absolutely no control over my mouth, I announced that I would make some for her, as a birthday present, by weaving the fabric on my lovely loom, and then sewing said fabric into cushion covers, complete with piping cord around the edges. (Seriously, why don’t I just keep my mouth firmly zipped? I could have just bought a nice vase or something…)

A few days later, Lucy and I found some gorgeous alpaca and silk yarn in the perfect ( and I do mean perfect) shade of green, so I made some calculations and set about warping up the loom…this is where the lack of maths skills becomes apparent. I needed four pieces of fabric 18″ square, to allow for seams etc. and decided that I would use one continuous warp and weave four lengths of fabric, separated by a couple of inches, so my calculation was 4 x 18″ (actual fabric) + 10% (to allow for loom waste) + a bit extra for luck. What I had forgotten was to allow for the couple of inches between each of the four pieces, but I didn’t realise this until I was almost half-way through the last piece, when it suddenly became blindingly, sickeningly obvious that there was not enough warp left to finish the final square. Of course, I did what any normal, well-balanced person would do in the circumstances:  ripped the fabric off the loom, flung it into a corner, and sulked for a week.

By the time I had recovered my composure enough to think about how to resolve the problem, I had developed a very painful and debilitating back problem, and was unable to re-warp the loom as it just bloody hurt! I did nothing for a few days but soon realised that action was called for if I was to stand even the slightest chance of the cushions being ready for mum’s birthday, so decided to make one cover and send it off with a note saying that its sibling would follow on soon. My back was able to cope with sitting at the sewing machine so off I went, and a cushion cover soon resulted. Something stopped me putting this first cushion in the post, though, because somehow, it just wasn’t good enough. I mean, I’d have been happy enough with it for myself, but this was for my mum. Nothing less than perfect is acceptable for her (in my view), so I held onto the cushion whilst I tried to come up with ways of improving it. I’d more or less made up my mind that the only way to get it to look as good as I wanted was by hand-sewing all the seams so that I could control the piping cord and set it in exactly the right place, but this seemed  rather a daunting task and I put it off.

That is, I put it off until the previously mentioned conversation about piping feet with Jen.

Now I have a piping foot, the first cushion cover is complete and looking pretty damn good (if I do say so myself), my back is better, thanks to some rather ouch-y sessions with an osteopath, and the loom is now warped up and ready to go for the last piece of fabric.

Mum, your cushions will be with you very soon!

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