Monday, 20 February 2012

Mug Cozies

Just a very quick post from me today - wanted to share with you these mug cozies that my mum made us!

Mug Cosies

The left-hand one is supposed to be brown and white to represent hot chcoolate I think, but she made it with black for hubby as he likes guinness :)
The other two are all mine!  Pretty aren't they?  ~ slurp ~


Saturday, 18 February 2012

Half Term

It has been half-term this week so we've been enjoying some time together and some time off from the usual routines.  Early morning rushes and daily spelling practice have been replaced with leisurely colouring sessions, playing games and watching DVDs (favourites at the moment are Robin Hood and Tangled).

Lots of colouring

Lots of colouring

I did have to work on Monday and Tuesday, and I have had to check in most days to make sure everything is ok as it's just so busy at the moment.  I find it hard to be everything at the same time - employee, mother, housekeeper, all-round entertainer and provider of boredom-busting activities.  It's kind of exhausting.

Lots of colouring

But I am happy to be with my two girls every day, and I love being at home and being able to potter about tidying drawers here and there, playing Guess Who, arranging books on shelves, grabbing a bit of time to crochet here and there.


Lillia is very much into zoobles at the moment so we've played quite a few games with those.

Half-term zooble fun :)

And Phoebe is into breaking and entering - getting into the cupboards she shouldn't, removing felt-tips she shouldn't, grabbing TV remotes, opening drawers.  So meal times, when she is safely contained in her booster seat, provide five minutes of welcome (if messy) peace!

Snack time!

Lillia is more into "arts and crafts" as she calls it.  So we have been recreating the "puzzle pizza" she saw on Art Attack...

Making the Art Attack Clay Pizza puzzle

Lots of games, lots of time together, lots of mess.  But happy days.

Playing marbles

Back to school on Monday and peace will reign again, at least between 9 and 3 :)

Friday, 10 February 2012

Throw Cushion (or pillow) Tutorial

I wanted to share with you my instructions for making a small throw cushion (or pillow)...

35. The finished cushion!

Cute isn't it?  I have quite a stash of interesting fabric and this chicken one I bought over a year ago as a fat quarter on eBay.  I bought it with my sister in mind - she keeps ex-battery hens and is a bit of a sandal-wearing-animal-loving-vegan geek (except with fabulous shoes instead of sandals) so I knew she would love it....I just had to think of what to actually make with it.

Then I came across some dinky little cushion pads and I knew then that the chicken fabric would become a cushion!  I knew I wanted the print to be the central motif with a border around it in a kind of spiral.  It took me aaaaages to work out how to do this, I am sure there must be an easier more professional way out there, but the way I worked out is actually pretty simple.

This is a really simple little tutorial, even if you are new to sewing. It is small at only 30x30cm and there are no tricky zips or buttons to contend with :)
So, here we go...

Throw Cushion Tutorial

You will need:
  • 1 cushion pad measuring 30cm x 30cm (mine is from Dunelm Mill)
  • 1 piece of your feature fabric measuring 13cm x 13cm (mine is the chicken fabric)
  • 4 pieces of your border fabric, each measuring 22cm x 10cm (mine is the blue gingham, which is organic cotton and bought here)
  • 2 pieces of your backing fabric, one measuring 18cm x 31cm and the other measuring 23cm x 31cm (mine is the white fabric, also organic cotton from the same place as before)
  • Thread, scissors, pins and sewing machine (or just a sewing needle of course!)
Start off by cutting out all your pieces and ironing them...

1. Cut out and iron all your pieces

Just a note -  I wanted to make sure my chicken print was nice and central.  I did this by cutting out a 13cm x 13cm square from a clean sandwich bag.  I then placed this over the print so I could make sure it sat in the correct place, marked the corners then drew the lines with tailor's chalk before cutting out with a rotary cutter.  It worked for me!

2. This is how I made sure the print on my feature piece was centred :)

So now let's assemble the front of the cushion. Your pieces will be laid out like this together...

3. Time to assemble the front

I have numbered the pieces so you can see clearly which piece is which as we continue along.

Take Piece 1 and pin it (right sides together) to the right side of your feature piece...

4. Piece 1

Now sew from the top to about two thirds of the way down your feature piece...

6. Piece 1

You will want to have sewed about the same as I've marked below...

5. Piece 1

Now iron it all nice and flat...

7. Piece 1

Next take Piece 2 and pin it right sides together along the top of your feature piece and Piece 1...

8. Piece 2

9. Piece 2

Now sew it all the way along, then iron it nice and flat...

10. Piece 2

Make sure you give both sides a good flattening!

11. Piece 2

Take Piece 3 and pin it right sides together along the left side of your feature fabric and Piece 2...

12. Piece 3

13. Piece 3

Sew all the way along then...yup you've guessed it...give everything a really good iron...

14. Piece 3

Take Piece 4 and pin it right sides together along the bottom of your feature fabric and Piece 3.  Make sure you move the unsewn part of Piece 1 out the way while you do this...

15. Piece 4

Now sew all the way along as before making sure that unsewn bit of Piece 1 is out of the way.  Then give everything a good iron.

Your front piece now looks like this with all the parts sewn together apart from that one flappy bit that we left unsewn on Piece 1...

16. Piece 4

17. Finishing Piece 1

Now for the tricky bit!  Though to be honest it really isn't all that tricky:  Fold Piece 1 back over so it sits right sides together against your feature fabric and Piece 4.  Line up the edges and pin it all together.  Make sure it's all neat and flat...

18. Finishing Piece 1

19. Finishing Piece 1

20. Finishing Piece 1

Now start sewing from where you left off earlier and all the way to the end to fully attach Piece 1.  Then give everything one final good iron...

21. Iron everything!

If you have managed to sew everything pretty accurately it should all have worked out rather nicely and look something like this!..

22. The finished cushion front

Trust me if I can do this anyone can, I am the least accurate seamstress EVER!  It does help of course that I am using gingham fabric as it does wonders for helping you to sew in straight lines :)

Ok. that's the hardest work done!  Time to whip up the two back pieces.  Take one piece and fold one long edge (the 31cm edge) over by 1cm and iron it down...

23. Making the back pieces

Then turn it over another 1cm (to hide the raw edge)...

24. Making the back pieces

Then iron like crazy!  Use steam if you can, you want to get a good crisp fold...

25. Making the back pieces

I usually pop a couple of hefty books on top after I've ironed and whilst the fabric is still warm, just for a few minutes, it helps the fold stay flat as it cools.

Now you need to sew the fold in place.  How you do this is up to you - I am using matching white thread to sew one long straight line, but you could use a contrasting thread and sew two parallel lines, or a wavy line even, if you want it to be more decorative...

26. Making the back pieces

27. Making the back pieces

Now to the same thing to the other back piece...

28. Making the back pieces

Now take one on your back pieces (doesn't really matter which one) and pin it right sides together on top of your completed front piece.  Line up the long raw edge with the bottom of the front piece...

29. Attaching the back pieces

Now take your second back piece and place it right side down on top of both the front piece and the back piece you already pinned.  Line up the long raw edge with the top of the front piece, the two back pieces should overlap...

30. Attaching the back pieces

Now sew all around on every side (no need to leave a gap for turning as we will use the envelope opening).  Then carefully snip little cuts into the seam allowance at the corners to reduce bulk...

31. Sew and snip

Now turn it right side out through the envelope opening at the back...

32. The exciting part...

Use your finger, or a blunt object like the end of a pencil, to push out the corners fully.  Then stuff your cushion pad in through the envelope opening...

33. Stuff!

Now give it all a good pooph about and a shake to get it all fitting into the corners and sitting nicely and...

34. Admire...

Ta da!  Stand back and admire your hard work! How easy was that?  So easy in fact why not do what I did and make two!..

36. Finished Cushion Covers

This really is a simple little cushion cover to make, you could do one in a couple of hours at most. Give it a try!

And now I will reveal how difficult it is to photograph the finished articles with a 1-year-old minibeast running about the place...

Phoebe prefers to play rather than sew :)

Particularly when that minibeast prefers to use the cushions as a bed for her baby doll...

Phoebe prefers to play rather than sew :)

Phoebe prefers to play rather than sew :)

Enjoy making your own cushion! And don't forget to let me know how you get on!



Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Creative Stitches

Well my stint in the "Knitting Lounge" at the Bluewater Creative Stitches show was great fun.  I got to meet some very interesting people, see some very interesting exhibits and convert some non-crocheters to wannabe-crocheters!

There were lots of things to see but my favourite, and Lillia's, was All 2 Knit's "Above and Below the Waves" exhibit - a cave full of wonderous knitted sea creatures, surrounded by knitted cliffs, pirates, coves, beaches and treasure...

Yarn coral reef Yarn jellyfish

Yarn sea monster Yarn mermaid

Yarn sandcastle Yarn rocks

The photos were taken on my iPhone so but I think still give a good idea of how fabulous this was!

Yarn cliffs with seagulls Yarn Punch 'n' Judy on the beach

Yarn sandcastle

My legs and feet were killing after five hours of preaching crochet but it was worth it :)  I managed to teach a couple of people about the basics of crochet, I may have scared a few people too, and one textiles student was delighted to discover you could make a lace-like creation using crochet thread and a very small hook.  My sister even dropped by and learnt how to knit at the "knitting tree"...

My sister learning to knit

Knitting trees in the "Knitting Lounge"

Erika Knight was running the stall as well as selling some of her yarn and exhibiting in the fashion show. 


I hadn't heard of Erika before (though goodness knows how, she has over 300 designs on Ravelry!) but absolutely loved her yarn (which led to me accidentally spending my money...) and also her pattern that I was working on throughout the afternoon.  When I got home I decided to raid my bag of leftover yarn and work up a long scarf using her "Edgy Scarf" pattern...

Edgy Crochet Scarf WIP

I used mainly yarn leftover from my Colour Bar Blanket as I love the earthy colours and tones.

Edgy Crochet Scarf WIP

I added in a little pink for a spring feel too.

Edgy Crochet Scarf WIP

The pattern is fun to do, those popcorn stitches are extremely satisfying to make and are so tactile.  I am planning on making it extra long so I can wrap it around and around!

All in all a lovely weekend!  This week so far is proving to be a difficult one - nothing serious, just sickly children and lots of doctor and dentist appointments to deal with.  Roll on next weekend!!


PS - another tutorial is in the making from me this week...!  What could it be....