Scrap-tastic?

A while ago I mentioned that I was attempting some scrapbooking, and having mentioned them, I thought I should follow up with a couple of photos. Both ET’s nanas have birthdays in the summer and I thought scrapbooks of ET’s first year would make lovely gifts. Well…I looked online and saw pictures of some lovely scrapbooks and was totally inspired. I got the photos printed and brought out my vast stocks of paper and got started.

It took an age to make them and both gifts were very late. However, I think they were just about worth the wait in the end! Well, at least they said they liked them! I was quite pleased with them – but they are definitely not scrapbooks! I’m not really cut out for scrapbooking – I haven’t got the patience or the imagination. But they are very nice photo albums!!

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And in a Jingle, it’s all Done!

It has been ages since I blogged anything – 3 months, WordPress reliably informs me! It’s not because I didn’t want to but circumstances pushed it to the bottom of the pile. You see, our previously wonderful sleeper of a child stopped sleeping. Combine disrupted sleep with work and said child getting ill and suddenly you find that it’s an effort to get anything much done other than the necessities. And then I joined a choir and tried to swim once a week. Some crafting got done but blogging about it was of the lowest priority.

Anyway, with ET no longer ill and once again sleeping through the night, the New Year seemed as good a time as any to get going again. I’ve got some unfinished projects to complete, a number of projects to blog about, a choir performance to prepare for (I’ve missed a few too many rehearsals for my liking) and I might even try the swimming again.

With it having just been Christmas, I thought I’d share some Christmas crafting with you all. I could drip them out one by one but I expect nobody will be interested in Christmas crafts in three weeks time, so I’ll get them all done now! I’ll present them in order of relevance!

First off, the Advent calendar! I’ve wanted to make one for a while and with ET now old enough to understand the concept of opening a door each day (although he’d prefer to open three!) this year seemed like a good time. That was until I left it until the last minute. I decided to try my hand at decoupage. I bought a wooden Advent calendar base from Hobbycraft and some decoupage papers and glue and got started. I enjoyed that this was not a precise art and enjoyed tearing up paper into the right size to fit. Some parts of it turned out well (the large box for example) but overall I wasn’t all that happy with it. The doors stuck terribly, which wasn’t great for a toddler, through a combination of the base not being that well made and the decoupage adding thickness. The shape made it quite tricky to get into the corners and I’m not sure of my choice of papers in the end. However, I gave it a try and it served a purpose for this year but I may try something else next year – and try to finish it on time rather than 6 days into Advent like this year. At least ET had not clue when Advent should begin so I could get away with it!

Next up were the Christmas cards. I’ve made as many Christmas cards as I can most years for a long while now. This year I wanted to get ET to help. So back in November I sat him down with some green paper and finger paint and sort of let him get on with it. Well, we did supervise him of course – what I mean is that I wasn’t prescriptive about what the painting should look like! I cut Christmas tree shapes out of these paintings and made the cards you see below. Simple but effective. And my Little Man gets his first artistic mention.

Preparations of Christmas gifts started a few months back in our house, when we decided to produce homemade gifts for all the adults using produce from our newly acquired garden and from the hedgerows around where we live. I’ll confess that Mr Stepherella was largely responsible for the food production (he’s better at it than me) and I took the lead on the decorative aspects! Anyway, we jointly made spiced redcurrant jelly, bramble jam, sloe gin, port and blackberry truffles, gingerbread, lavender bags and dried rosemary and bay leaves. Some of the gifts got presented in the manner shown below and we were pretty happy with the outcome!

And there you have it! It all worked out quite well in the end although it all took a bit of work. But we enjoyed giving gifts that we’d “chosen” ourselves and that we’d put a bit of work into producing. I expect there are some other lovely homemade gifts out on the blogosphere – I just haven’t had time to check. Along with writing my blog, reading others has also taken rather a back seat!

Anyway, all that remains today is to wish you a Happy New Year! Any New Year’s resolutions? None here – except to try and get back to normal!!

No Pins were used in the Making of these Curtains

That is not entirely true. However, it is true to say that I was quite lazy in the construction of these curtains and a curtain purist would not be all that impressed. Having said that, I am very happy with all the pattern matching (the two curtains look almost identical) and I love the finished look in our bedroom. So, overall a success.

This fabric was bought from Empress Mills. It’s from the New Forest collection from Lewis and Irene. I saw the collection before we moved into our new house and knew I wanted to use it in the master bedroom. The problem was having bought a while ago and not making the curtains until very recently, I didn’t realise that I didn’t have enough fabric. Well, if I wanted to make each curtain at least one and a half times the window, I didn’t have enough fabric and it was now out of stock at Empress Mills. And I was far too impatient to try and source it from anywhere else! So…I decided just to make curtains with the width of fabric I had and use very small seam allowances and make the lining only very slightly smaller than the main fabric. As it turns out, I think this is ok because our bedroom isn’t huge and the less bulk the better.

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I used black out lining. I’ve never sewn with this before – I don’t know what it is made of exactly (I got 4 metres ridiculously cheap on ebay because it was marked) but it has a plastic back, which makes pinning tricky. Pins seem to permanently mark it, if they go through at all. However, once folds were pressed in this fabric they stayed in place and so this wasn’t too much of a problem. Where I needed to attach the main fabric to the lining, I used my fabric clips that I usually reserve for bag making.

My other shortcut was to hem both lining and main fabric using the sewing machine. I know that strictly I should hem the main fabric by hand but I just didn’t have the patience and personally I don’t mind the visible line of stitching. I’m sure it’d annoy other people but I’m ok with it and Mr Stepherella barely noticed!

I made these in a day while Mr Stepherella was painting the bedroom, which I thought was pretty quick (probably because I cut so many corners!). And I’m really pleased with how they look in the bedroom – the pictures are taken in the newly decorated bedroom. I’m not sure how easy it is to see that the paint has been chosen to complement one of the colours in the fabric.

In other news, I should have blogged ages ago according to my new “schedule” but it just hasn’t happened. I promised to report back on how the 15 min of crafting a day has gone. Well, not that well actually. It’s been interesting to look at which days I prioritise crafting and the days when it goes by the wayside. It’s also interesting to note that 15 minutes is not a lot of time. It’s been quite useful for short bursts of papercrafting but not much use for sewing anything complicated. I might reassess this at the end of the month and aim to do settle in the craft room less times a week but for a greater duration.

The Lurgy

Well, when ET went down with what we thought were the chicken pox I was forced to take time off work. Naively, I thought that although it was very frustrating to have to take ANOTHER day of carers’ leave at least I might get some extra crafting done. Quite the opposite…I got nothing done. Then, when Mr Stepherella went down with what turned out NOT to be the chicken pox, I got even less done. All that to say that I’ve got nothing much to report on the crafting front!! Oh, other than my attempt at ginger biscuits further confirmed that baking is not my forte!

I’ve been participating on and off in the #sewphotohop over on Instagram. I’ve not managed even close to every day, but I’ve had a pretty good try and I’ve really enjoyed looking at other people’s photos. In other news, I’ve bought Lisa Comfort’s new ebook, My Capsule Wardrobe: City Break. I bought it entirely on impulse because I loved the Molly top and dress pattern. I’ve been longingly looking at fabrics ever since but I’m trying not to buy anything new until all current projects are complete. Watch this space!

I’ve also started trying to schedule crafting time. I’m starting by trying to manage 15 minutes a day and then increase it little by little. There will be days when I can manage more, certainly, but what I want to try and achieve a little continuity. Let’s see how I’m getting on when I check in next week (because blogging once each week is also in the schedule!