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!!

In which I turn my hand to multiple crafts and demonstrate how I won’t be the next GBBO contestent

So…blog night came and went this week without me posting anything. It wasn’t because I didn’t have anything to tell you about but because I didn’t want to blog about gifts before I’d given them to the person in question! In fact, on Wednesday evening I was still putting the finishing touches to things.

September is always a busy month for birthdays. We kicked it off by taking ET to his first ever proper birthday party last weekend. He seemed a bit overwhelmed by it all but did manage to have some fun. His highlights were running around wearing a super hero cape and playing with the toys after all the other children had gone! It was the party of the children of one of our Uni friends (I can’t quite believe it’s 19 years since we met!) and also her birthday – so I got to cardmaking. And these were the results.

Then this week, it was the birthday of one of my colleagues. I started a new job when I returned from maternity leave (as we moved house) and I have been very fortunate to job share with someone who has become a friend. Anyway, I wanted to make something for her…and I thought I’d attempt to make a cake for us all to celebrate her birthday at work. Well…I made a cake and it tasted fine but it wasn’t really baking’s finest hour and Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry wouldn’t have been all that impressed. It didn’t rise all that well (I was using Spelt flour) and the bottom stuck to the tin (so much for non-stick tins). I was not that impressed myself and didn’t take a picture though it has all been eaten at work so I guess it can’t have been that bad!!

For the birthday present I made a tote bag. I made it to fit A4 paper and created a flat bottom to allow a bit of organisation of the contents. I’ve never blogged about any of the tote bags I’ve ever made so when I say I did it differently this time, it doesn’t mean anything to anyone! But the main new things were to allow the external fabric to meet the lining fabric an inch to the inside. I topstitched along the edge where the two fabrics join to hold the two layers in place. I also attached the handles to the outside using the “square with a cross in it” method (is there a name for this) whereas usually I would have inserted them between the exterior and lining. The fabric you’ll see is that which I made my Betty dress from – I have been saving the leftovers for some lovely projects like this! With hindsight, it probably could have done with being a little bit bigger but on the other hand it never hurts to have a range of different sized bags! Anyway – here it is. Although, I apologise for the photos. It was evening when I took them and the lighting wasn’t great and I probably should have used a different lens! But anyway, you get the idea!

Getting my Ducks in a Row

I’ve nothing new to show. That’s not because I’ve not been doing anything but because I’m trying to do too much. It is one of my shortcomings that I have a tendency to start too many projects at one time and then never know where to get started! I thought I’d share a few things in the hope that publicly declaring my intentions to complete them all will actually motivate me to actually do so!

The first thing on my list is my Sewaholic Granville shirt. I started this at a class with Janet of Kitchen Table Sewing. I didn’t complete it during the class and then we moved house and I’ve been a little distracted by other projects. Add to that, I stopped between making the two sleeve plackets and I’ve struggled to remember what I did the first time round in order to do the second. I think I’ve remembered now so no excuses!! Janet…I will finish this, honest!! Here it is in its current state…I’m pretty proud of the finish on this project so far so I really want to be able to wear it. I should probably say thank you to all the ladies of The Monthly Stitch Facebook page, who gave me great advice on fit. So far, so good on this front.

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I’m also in the process of completing some scrapbooks as presents. Because they are presents, I won’t share any pictures of the actual things here in case they see it -but currently they’re stored in a box and look like this! These are overdue (as always as my family will tell you) and I really MUST get them done. I did run out of the right glue, which halted progress for a while but a trip to Hobycraft last weekend has rectified this and so no more excuses.

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The other major projects relate to our new house. I’m planning to make curtains and a coordinating quilt for the master bedroom. The first photo below is the curtain fabric and the other photos are sneak peaks of the quilt. The fabrics are Lewis and Irene, purchased from Empress Mills, of the New Forest range. I bought a Jelly roll for the quilt pieces. I love them but hope that it won’t be a too overwhelming when all put together.

Finally, I got a lampshade kit from The Makery for my birthday and I intend to make a lampshade for our hallway. I haven’t yet decided on the colour but I have some ideas.

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I say finally because I also have fabric for a top and a dress – who knows when I’ll get around to these. I wish I had more time in the day and more days in the week…what with a small child, a new job and working part time I feel like I never quite have enough time. But I am getting better at fitting in the odd half an hour here and there. Maybe other working mums have some tips for fitting in craft time! And maybe I should stop blogging and get on with creating!!