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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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!!