Zipping about again

I bought this bird fabric a while ago on Etsy, on a bit of a whim. Today I decided I was going to make a zip pouch, and the plan was absolutely to use up the green fabrics I had left over from the spaceinvaders monitor cover the other week.

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Then I opened the drawer to get out the cotton twill I bought ages ago for interlining, and saw the bird fabric and changed my mind. Its really lovely. Its almost like a very stiff linen, it’s not a regular cotton print. It actually creases really easily so it’s been ironed a million times. Its stiffness makes it great for something that might get thrown about a bit but its excellent creasing ability is a bit of a pain.

zipper_1

I had this pink zipper knocking around, which is actually not a bad match for the details on the birds. That said, it can look a bit too pink in a certain light. But hey, it’s just a zip, and I kinda like it being so bright – it feels like a feature.


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Last time I made a pouch I used the hand-cranked Singer sewing machine, because I thought it had a zipper foot. It didn’t. This time I used the John Lewis Mini (its a bit like this) and it is also without a zipper foot. Actually I think that Elizabeth’s Hartman’s Zipper Pouch Pattern is so good that if you follow her instructions you can live without one. I’m sure it’s not perfect but it seems to work for me.

Its a great pattern, and I like the nice neat ends it gives the zipper. (Although you can see the stitching is a wee bit wonky there!) I must admit – I didn’t do a great job on the zipper pull. I found topstitching it really tricky – its not at all straight, but I’m trying to ignore that. I didn’t make a pull last time.

both

Here’s the first and second side by side. The monkey pouch is full of ribbons! It puts a smile on my face for the fabric AND the contents 🙂 Not sure yet what I’ll keep in the bird pouch. Looking at it now, I kinda think it looks better in real life… you’ll have to trust me on that. I’m not sure why I like zipper pouches so much, but there’s something really nice about them. There’s a woman on Etsy who screen prints fabrics which I really like, and I’ve almost bought a pouch from her a million times. I stopped myself because I don’t really need more, and the shipping is a bit expensive from Canada. If you live a bit nearer though, I think her work is lovely.

neat

Sorry – this is a totally gratuitous shot, and it’s not even from today. Look at it! Its so neat! I doubt I’ll ever match that on anything ever again.

Anyway…

tatting

 

Still experimenting with tatting patterns, but that’s for another post.

dodge

Annnnnd, I made some jammy dodgers in a fit of trying to seem productive on a day when my leg was driving me a little nuts. Hope you’ve had a good weekend wherever you may be.

 

Tatted sketches

beads

I’ve been working from home a lot recently, which has meant getting three hours of my day back. It turns out the commute from upstairs to downstairs is a lot quicker than the 3 hour round trip to the office. In the first few weeks I picked up a good habit, which I’ve swiftly lost — taking that time for myself. Starting the day with a cup of tea and some tatting instead of standing in the queue for a bus. Must try and pick that up again this week.

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I was working on a pattern for earrings. It’s still not right really — but trust me they look much nicer in real life! The grey thread makes the silver-lined beads look like water droplets; it’s a really pretty combination. That said, I had shuttles full of ecru thread so carried on experimenting with that.

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I’d really rather tat with size 80 thread, so I ended up adding lots of beads to see if that made the earring feel more substantial. It does make it a bit stronger, but I think more experimentation is needed. I do love the patterns of some of the bigger tatted earrings out there, but the finished size is just too big for me!

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This is what it looks like on – horrendously wonky, but I’m guessing changing the stitch count will help. I’d like to play around more with layered tatting too, as that will make it more sturdy. Trick at the moment is not to go up a thread size and see what I can do with what I’ve got.

We shall see.

Crochet, tatting, knitting, patchwork, secrets and lies

Little man

You know some weeks, nothing seems to work? I got so frustrated finishing this chap on Friday that I threw him in the bin. My boyfriend spotted him in there yesterday and took him out – then gave me a telling off for being mean.

He’s supposed to be a little mismatched, his ears and eyes are different, but really, his jumper was actually supposed to fit. I had to unpick half of the jumper when I realised I’d mis-counted due to a phone call. Then I realised that even after re-making, the dimensions were never going to work. The nice cuffs were going to be hidden as the sleeves need rolling up, and don’t even talk about the neck… (I’m so pleased I guessed it all correctly for the giraffe – looking back it’s a miracle!)

lil_chap2

In the end I stitched him into the jumper at the back, so it kind of fits, but it’s not ideal. I also made him some trousers – it’s not that easy making trousers, is it?! I just guessed the shape; imagine two pieces of fabric shaped a bit like an upside-down ‘V’. I ended up cutting them in half and re-sewing down the centre to get the right shape – but I think I might understand a little more about trouser construction than I did before!

lil_chap3

Actually after all that I really like him. In real life he looks like quite a gentle, bookish soul. It’s really the jumper that does it. Now I can actually knit I think every crocheted toy needs a jumper. Due to the slightly delicate clothing construction he’s definitely not for playing with, so I think he’ll live with me. I have a feeling he’ll be happy on a bookshelf though – I just need to be nice and apologise for throwing him away. (!)

Patchwork

Before I started fixing him yesterday, I got the sewing machine out and had a bit of a play. I’d already decided what I wanted to make, but I fancied playing with a few scraps first. These were all small pieces from my scrap bag, but I think they go nicely together. Not sure what I’ll do with it yet.

needlecase

This is not the most inspiring photo, but I decided to make a needlecase, loosely based on this tutorial. The tatting has been knocking around for ages… Eeek, since 2013 in fact! I thought it might be nice making something a bit less girly for a change.

inside

This is what it’s like inside – a little pocket front and back, perfect for the essentials (like a rabbit). Don’t look too closely at the binding. Ahem.

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Just like the previous one, this is all made of scraps – which includes the dreadful, cheap, synthetic felt. So just like the previous one I stitched around the edge of the pages, but this time with darker thread on one side. (Yes, that rabbit is hiding a mismatched corner… thanks for asking).

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I love how different the new case feels when compared to the old one. And talking of the old one… I use it all the time.

You know what I’ve noticed? Everyone who makes a needle case and then photographs it does what I did up there ^. They show a perfect selection of pins or needles, perfectly aligned. Who keeps a needle case like that?! No one, surely? Certainly no one that ever uses their needles.

reality

 

This is what the old needlecase looks like now. Its all bent out of shape and a mess.

But I love it.

 

Bags of joy (or craft as therapy)

bag_1

It’s been a weird month or so. My partner has been travelling a lot and for a boring health reasons (herniated disc) I’ve been stuck at home. Like many people who work in London and live in a town outside I don’t really know anyone locally. The last few weekends have stretched out endlessly – but in a bad way. When you’re feeling super-cheerful, a free weekend feels like a brilliant opportunity. When you’re a bit fed up, it feels like it will never end. Social media doesn’t always help – perfectly posed photos of friends having amazing times, going places and doing things, and there you are home alone, climbing the walls (or you *would* climb a wall, if you were able to stand up).

There’s a lot been written and researched into the therapeutic effects of knitting and/or making things; here’s one article. Google and you’ll find loads more. I have to say I agree completely. I find that tatting and knitting both require counting, which calms a busy brain, and that sewing is good because often the projects are started and finished in a day and you really feel like you’ve achieved something.

There is no physical position I can get in that is pain free at the moment (can’t sit on the sofa, can’t lie down) – BUT on the upside, the closest I can get is a hard chair at the kitchen table, as long as it’s not for too long.

I decided this was the perfect weekend to make the most of a few things aligning: free time, no interruptions, a free kitchen table. What did I plan on making? Another zip top bag. What did I make? A drawstring bag!

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I’m really pleased with it, even if I do say so myself. I bought this the Elementary Mini Charm Pack from Moda just before Christmas. I’d sort of said that I would make my partner a quilt, but the one I have planned needs some black fabric. I bought the charm pack as a tester to see what would and wouldn’t work. I must admit, it’s a really nice pack. You get 42 squares in total – which when they’re all laid out, is quite a lot.

The zipped pouch I was going to make would only take 4 of these squares and when I put them together, it seemed like a shame. It felt like it would be nicer to put a few more together and make something bigger.

bag_3

I made this drawstring bag in 2013, and I use it all the time. It’s quite big, and of all the things I’ve made, it’s the thing I enjoy using the most. (Although I think that could be because most of the things I make aren’t that useful!) It’s tatted and embroidered – which despite being a bit flowery for my tastes I really like – and thinking about it, I wonder why I’ve never repeated? Anyway. I decided to make another bag roughly the same size.

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(Sorry for rubbish iPhone photos – the blank patchwork square actually has a pattern on it!). I didn’t measure anything – I just started with the charm squares and went from there. I ALMOST had a wobble when the charm squares were put together and the grey border added… would make a really nice quilt, but I decided I wanted to finish something there and then and actually, I have a use for the bag already. The white fabric with tiny blue stars was a speculative purchase ages ago, the grey fabric was in my stash and I managed to cobble just about enough calico together to line the inside. The ribbon handles I found in the back of a drawer – I was really pleased as they’re not a bad colour. I think they’re the handles from a posh carrier bag. (Always save those ribbons and cords, they’re usually just the right size for *something*).

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In terms of construction, I used this tutorial again, I quilted the main section after the patchwork was complete and before I started putting the panels together. By which I mean I stitched through the front straight on to the batting, with nothing behind it. The top grey section has iron-on interfacing to make it stronger, as it’s the bit that gets the most stress. Inside it’s just basic calico, which is heavy duty enough, and cheap, of course. I actually didn’t do a *terrible* job of that top stitching on the outside – but yes, I was too lazy to hunt for a more discreet thread colour.

And thus, mission completed. Just the right project – took long enough, but not too long. Required the right amount of sitting, but enough to keep that spine moving, as you need to get up and iron things, or chop things up. It also needs a bit of thought, but not enough to make you worry about it.

If you need  a project to cheer yourself up, and you like sewing, I would recommend it. (If you like knitting, I would recommend a hedgehog.) I’m hoping though, that if you are sewing things, you’re happy both before *and* after you start!

Here’s to it, us and making things.

 

Patchwork and tatting to beat the rain

quilt_3Hello! It’s a wet and windy weekend in the UK, and due to my other half being away for work I’ve had time to get on and make an eye-wateringly cheerful quilt top, in record time. Not only that, but it’s much less wonky (so far) than my previous quilting efforts. I bought this fabric at the Knit and Stitch show in Ally Pally (London). It was a pack of quite tightly-rolled fat quarters – so you couldn’t really see what you were getting – which worked out at £12 a pack or £20 for two. As a lady next to me was contemplating a pack at the same time, I said, “let’s buy them together and we both save £2”, which is what we did.

quilt_2

Sorry – terrible lighting, don’t really have anywhere I can photograph a quilt.

I had to improvise with the pattern a bit; originally I wanted it all to be colour and pattern with no plain solids in there, but I used up all the fabric and it was a bit small so I added the sashing in. The sashing is actually a pale turquoise left over from quilt two, which is quite handy.

quilt_4

At the edge of one of the pieces it said “Flea Market Fancy”, and I was just in the process of discovering that the collection was based on retro designs, when my boyfriend arrived home, looked at it and said ‘Nice… have we gone back to the seventies?” It *is* a bit seventies, but I still love how bright and cheerful it is. To be honest, they’re not the usual kind of fabrics I’d choose.

Which leads me to the William Morris quilt, which I started here. Believe it or not, I’ve actually finished the top of that too, just not had time to take the pictures. Next I need an expensive trip to the quilting shop, to buy batting and backing fabric.

quilt_6

Actually, looking at the light on these photos, it doesn’t do it any favours. I promise you it’s nicer in real life! This was a pile at the start of Saturday. It was a lot bigger by the end. For once, as I was making squares, I measured them up and trimmed them down properly.

tatting

On a more restrained note, I also got a little bit of time to tat the other week. This is a new pattern that I’ve been working on. Not there yet actually, but almost. And on that note, better run. More things to do.

Hope you had a good weekend too.

 

Stealing the sunshine

autumn tatting

I’ve got some time to myself today, so this is a speedy post. I’ve travelled a bit for work over the past few weeks (one train journey alone was 5.5hours) so I’ve had a bit of time to tat. I’ve been getting to grips with layered tatting (often called ANKARS, I think) and using the tiny beads I bought. This is made with coppery beads and one of my favourite variegated threads in size 80, bought from Yarnplayer. I love how autumnal these colours are. I must admit, it feels like work stole the summer, so I’m looking forward to autumn.

sunshine on tattingThis is a test tat. I found a Tina Frauberger vintage pattern and I’ve been trying to work out the stitch count. Basically the book is in German – and I didn’t have it with me on my travels, so I guessed what I could. It’s not bad. Having the image in front of me will help get it right though! The sun was starting to come out as I took this shot.

pink tatting in the sun

And the sun made it out for this one! Same pattern as the one above – also in size 80. Its interesting actually, the hand dyed thread is much more sturdy than this one, not sure why. I don’t know if it’s the same thread (DMC special dentelles) , and the dying makes it stiffer, or a different basic thread to begin with? Either way, I quite like the difference. I wish the regular undyed thread was a little stiffer.

Same motif tatted in different stitch counts

I decided to make the same motif in a different size. I have half a mind to tat another and then join them to make a necklace… except that I don’t wear pink, or necklaces. We shall see.

size of size 80 tatting thread

Here’s an idea of the size of the smaller one. I see a lot of tatted earrings about at the moment, and I know they’re done in thicker thread. I can only assume that they’re stiffer, but HUGE.

Anyway. On with the day! I’m off to try and make the most of it, for once 🙂

 

Catching up

sept_1

Well, time certainly flies. Or at least it moves on, whether you’re having fun or not! I haven’t meant to leave it so long between posts, but work and weekends have intermingled a bit this summer, and I haven’t had a lot of time for myself. Also, the change in my morning commute has affected my productivity much more than expected—I’ve barely had any time to tat. I did manage to make this with a few snatched minutes while waiting for a lift to the station over the last week or so though, and I’ve enjoyed working with these petite seed beads. This is size 80 thread, and so the beads are smaller than regular seed beads.

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When I have had time to make things, for some reason I’ve gone for the mainly useless! I’ve made a few more stress  bunnies to give away — often to people who are stressed themselves, and last weekend I made a little time to try out this strawberry pattern. (Yes, hers are much neater than mine!) I actually tried this some time ago, but couldn’t get the hang of it at all. This time around it went much better – they’re not perfect, but there’s something about them that I really like. Lots of people make the cord stalk really long, so the leaf pokes out of the top of a book and the strawberry the bottom, but I decided the yarn was too thick and I got a bit bored Icording – so…

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What I have instead is a cord long enough to tie a little strawberry bundle. No use to anyone, but it makes me happy.

A few months back I did manage to make something more useful. I had a weekend to myself and so made this bucket-style drawstring bag

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The striped fabric is upholstery weight, bought as a cheap remnant. Its great for this kind of bag as it stands up on its own…

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I’m using it as a knitting bag, it’s big enough to keep quite a few balls of wool, needles and a printed pattern inside. Its also the kind of bag you can leave the ball of yarn in while you knit, to stop it rolling off.

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I was really pleased with the colour of the drawstring too. I saved it from a paper carrier bag – I can’t even remember which shop it was from now, but it was the perfect match! I always save these cords, they’re great for things like this.

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And finally, this is one of my sunflowers. I’ve grown about 8 this year and I’ve really enjoyed watching them grow. As I’ve been away for work quite a lot, every time I get home I’ve rushed into the garden to see how they’re doing 🙂 I’ve also grown chillies and tomatoes, and I’ve loved that too. I don’t know why I had a few summers off the sunflowers, but must remember to grow them again next year.

Hope you’re all well out there and have had a great summer. With any luck I’ll be back again soon.