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.


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.

A Guilty Pleasure

This is something I made in an evening and it’s not anything on my list of things to complete that I wrote about here except in as much as I had the fabric already and I had planned to use it for this very pattern. However, I feel slightly guilty that I haven’t attempted any of the things that are already works in progress. Especially my Sewaholic Granville shirt, which continues to stare at me accusingly from the mannequin making me feel guilty every time I look at it!

On the other hand I felt the need to make something quick that I’d be able to wear immediately – I needed to feel like I had achieved something. I’m not a quick sewer so to have something done in an evening felt great. The original pattern cutting took some time, however. Way back when, when I bought the fabric it appears that I misread/didn’t read the pattern correctly and didn’t buy enough fabric as t wasn’t wide enough! But I was determined and so ended up cutting the pieces out flat (i.e. not on the fold as they should be) and shaving about 1 cm off each side both front and back at the hips (this was not my best idea!).

The pattern is the Simple Sleeveless Top from Learn to Sew with Lauren. I got this bok for my birthday a year ago – I had put it on my birthday list largely because I wanted this and a couple of the other simple patterns. This is the first thing I have got around to making anything from it. I’m pleased to report the experience was a positive one. The instructions are clear and the pictures informative. These in addition to the book being really pretty!

The top itself is simple – 2 pieces, a bound neckline and bound arm holes and a hem. I made the size 12 and as I mentioned above, made no changes except to have some off the hips. This was not for fitting purposes – only to be able to fit the pattern on my piece of fabric! The resulting top is therefore a little bit snug on the hips and it is not an alteration I would make again!

I used a contrast blue bias binding (I love having little flashes of contrast on the inside – I’m quite conservative often with colours and patterns and the binding here just makes me feel a little brave and exciting!!). I used French Seams throughout so internally the top is beautiful. I’ve become quite a fan of French Seams and use them wherever possible evn though they take that bit longer. I just love the finish.


The top fits ok. My one complaint is the gaping along the back of the neckline. I think from reading the blog series that Lauren did for this pattern, I may need to do a full bust adjustment to get a better fitting. However, it is entirely wearable and very comfortable. And I’ve certainly had ready-to-wear clothes that fit worse! And the fabric – I just love it! I bought it from Guthrie and Ghani about a year ago with this pattern in mind and it doesn’t disappoint. I think I will get a lot of wear out of this and certainly it’ll be going in the suitcase for our holiday next week!

Top Tools

I’m sat recovering from a day at work – I say that like I don’t like my job. I do. But I think no matter how much we love our jobs we all have weeks/days we find long and draining. I’ve actually spent most of the day inputting data into a database (yes, nurses have many talents!) and should probably get off the computer now and get on with something more practical. Mr Stepherella is playing new computer games, which should be another excuse to get in the craft room. However, right now the sofa is just too comfortable and my glass of wine too tasty to move.

That doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about my crafting-things-to-do-list. I am. I am mentally designing and trying to overcome problems (that sleeve placket is still bugging me). Additionally I got to thinking about the tools I use for my crafts and what I enjoy the most. When it comes to cardmaking, I love my die cutter. I love the neat little shapes it makes and how they can be put together to make a beautiful card. with sewing, I would have expected I would be telling you how much I love my sewing machine or overlocker (and I do – both are fantastic) but it turns out I get most satisfaction from my pinking shears.


I’ve been using them a lot of late to cut the pieces for the quilt I am making. I love the weight of them and I love the finish. The fact that you have an edge that is finished already stopping your work from fraying as you work is just amazing – amazing for the apparent simplicity of the tool. And the finished product is just so lovely to look at! My mum and dad bought these for my birthday a few years back and I use them so much and would use them more if I could get away with it!


Am I odd or do any of you have a favourite tool, something that makes you happy every time you use it? Cooks and bakers – is it a particular spatula or cookie cutter? Knitters and crocheters (is that a word? it looks wrong), is it a particular needle? Papercrafters, a particular craft knife? A special pen? I’d love to know.