Sunday, 28 June 2009

Day 190: The embroidery experimenting continues

I found a lovely selection of threads in my local charity shop and decided to practice my embroidery a little more. I've yet to be dedicated enough to prepare properly for embroidery so I just make it up as I go along, occasionally sketching the odd outline in biro should I feel I need a bit of guidance. I am certain this is entirely the wrong way to go about it, but it's a lot of fun to do whilst watching telly!

I made up a little flower/petal/leaf type pattern whilst watching Big Brother...

It's a bit wonky. The photo doesn't pick up the colours too well unfortunately.

This embroidery will form part of a bag which I am making for a friend.

Happy weekend all!

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Day 187: A little dress

Funny, the busier my day job gets, the more stressful commuting is, the scarier the recession gets, the less money there is, the more inclined I am to complete my craft projects. I think because I can at least control and complete these things. Plus, fiddling with pins and wrestling knotted thread out of my ancient sewing machine keeps my mind occupied and away from pondering life’s great injustices (though I guess knotted thread in one’s sewing machine is one of life’s great injustices).

I bought a pattern a month or so ago from the home of all things utterly addictive – Etsy. I bought it from here. A pattern for a cute little girl’s dress. I chose to use a plain pink cotton and a cotton fabric from Hobbycraft with a Japanese flowers pattern. I have a lot to learn about seam allowances, cutting, hemming and generally sewing in a straight line, but I am nevertheless pleased with the result..

The front:

The back:

Hmmm...bit too close up to my wonky stitching that second photo!

I will get to further hone my skills too, as this dress is exactly one size too small for my fast-growing Lillia. So it’s back to the Elna (or Edna as I have taken to calling my ancient sewing machine) with more pink fabric (it has to be pink or there will be hell to pay) to make another in the next size up. But first I might make a bag or two!

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Day 182: Chocolate Brownies

We all have nits. Head lice. Or as we call them in our house - hair bugs.

Determined little blighters they are too. My husband has the nearest thing a white man can get to afro hair, I have annoying thick wavy frizzy hair, and the little munchkin has a mass of thick gorgeous waves. The hair-bugs like our hair and they want to stay. They have survived two attacks with Lyclear and three invasions of Nice'n'Clear, not to mention endless combing with various specialist nit combs which claim to remove all trace of the bugs and their eggs. But still they persist!

My little girl has been patient up until now but she is, after all, only three-years-old and there's only so much one can take. After a 30 minute screamathon while I washed and towel-dried her hair and applied yet more Nice'n'Clear I finally decided to take action: I plonked her down in front of a Winnie the Pooh DVD and got to work with some scissors. I took off a good two inches of tangled curls and then managed to comb through her hair with considerable ease (not a whimper was heard.) I was so pleased with the outcome that I tried to persuade hubby to cut my hair for me too, but he was not to be convinced.

The result? well, I'd hate to speak too early and say that the hair bugs have been evicted, but there seems to be less scratching going on. And the added bonus is that she looks as cute as a button (and I love buttons) and so grown up..

We treated ourselves to some brownie making this afternoon to make up for the hair washing/drying/treating/cutting/combing ordeal. I would show you a picture of the finished result but I wasn't quick enough with my camera (apparently all food unattended for more than five minutes is fair game on Father's Day) so this is a picture of Lillia getting stuck in to making the brownies instead.

Unfortunately yet another day has passed without any time whatsoever for crafty activities (not counting baking of course) but I will get there eventually. If only my house was self-cleaning...

Friday, 19 June 2009

Day 181: Fabric stashing

I read it about in other blogs and I have seen evidence of it in other quarters, but I never thought it would eventually happen to me.

There comes a point in a girl's life, whilst looking at the three shopping-totes crammed full of fabric in the corner and wondering where on earth to store your latest fabricy finds, when you just have to admit to yourself that you might have a small addiction problem.

Further evidence was found this afternoon in Ikea. Hubby and I took a quick trip over there to find a frame for a beautiful watercolour I bought from an artist whilst on holiday last week. En route to the frames section we had to walk straight through the fabric displays. It was here I saw the magical words "Fabric Sale - £1 per metre". Well at £1 per metre it could have been sludge coloured nylon and I still would have considered it, luckily though it wasn't sludge coloured nylon. Are you ready? My £1 bargain Ikea fabric, in glorious technicolour...

I was stupidly excited but I only bought a metre of each as I am far too cautious for my own good.

Just to feel a little more adventurous with myself I bought a couple of other fabrics too that weren't even in the sale. Just call me a wild child...

All in all I spend £4.70 for over four metres of fabric. Bargains make me a very happy person.

So while we're on a fabric high I may as well tell you about the lovely bits I got whilst in France. In Uzes there is the most gorgeous little haberdashery shop in the square. It's full of lace and ribbon, buttons and fabrics, hand-made bags, embroidered hearts stuffed with lavender, cushions, trinkets and general lovliness. Mostly all way out of my price range of course but that didn't stop me bringing home a few little bits.

I bought a small amount of this gorgeous ribbon...

And I bought fat quarters (ish) of these two fabrics...

I will only use them when I have made a few more items and gained some experience so I can be sure I will put them to good use. I would hate to waste them.
So there we have it. My name is Ali and I have a fabric addiction. Ah, it feels better getting that off my chest.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Sun, sea and sewing - a week in France

I have been on holiday for a week in the south of France. It was utterly gorgeous, and the surroundings were very inspiring with lots of old French charm, a slower pace of life and plentiful lavender plants and vineyards. Although I was happy to be back in our little cottage at the weekend I was very sad this morning to return to the more hectic pace of London and work. I was nearly in tears when I first got back to my desk, such was the overwhelming feeling of being in the “wrong place”. In France we were away from the worries of bills, interest rates and hubby’s redundancy. Now we have landed back in England with a severe bump.

Whilst we were away I took the opportunity to relax with some hand-sewing. I printed the tutorial for a lovely little purse from the beautiful and inspiring Mairuru blog. I really find Mai’s blog a happy and inspiring place to visit. It is always very informative and contains beautiful pictures of her work and of Japan where she lives. Often she does little tutorials, I have only tried this one but I enjoyed it so much I am going to try one of her surobobos next (I expect mine will be nowhere near as cute and perfect as hers though!)

Using Mai’s instructions I made myself two little purses. I was pleased with how the first one turned out…

But the second one went a bit wrong…
I cut the material badly in my rush to get it ready and packed the night before we went away. But I do like the colours. So my lesson learned is: preparation is key! Don’t cut your fabric at 11pm the night before your flight after two glasses of vino.

I used my new purse to carry home some lavender from the garden of the house in France where we stayed…
I will dry these flowers and use them to make my first bath-bomb (results to be revealed!)

I saw many inspiring things on holiday in France. Here are just a few of my favourites:

Mosaic ice-cream signs in Saint Marie Sur-la-Mer..
Little one in bed, BBQ fired up, wine poured, table set for two..
A clear blue pool on a clear hot day..
Lovely French villages and towns...

(That lovely little girl in the blue dress is my daughter.)

My mother was also on holiday at the same time in Spain. When I went to see her yesterday to compare our tans (mum = brown, me = off-white) she had bought me a little present in the form of a mosaic elephant magnet!
I cannot tell you how pleased I am with this!

I had a lovely sunny time with my family last week and although I am a little glum to be back in the rat-race, I am very glad to be home :)