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The Girls’ Guide to Homemaking

29 Aug

There is no better way to spend a bank holiday Monday than with a good novel. And if the novel also happens to be full of crafting inspiration, then what’s not to love?

Now I know that chicklit is far from everyone’s cup of tea and the cover of this – The Girls’ Guide to Homemaking – does make it seem like it’s going be pure (and therefore unbearable) sweetness and light throughout. But I was happily surprised, there’s a good plot, a likeable main character with a not-so-happy background and a passion for making retro aprons using her grandmothers’ books from the 1950s, and Amy Bratley does have a rather clever writing style with more linguistic twists and turns than your usual chicklit author.


the world in miniature

8 Aug

My sister Amal is a genius doll-maker, and I don’t use the word ‘genius’ lightly. Her dolls are beautiful – at the moment her shop is unstocked (the creatures take a long time to make) but if you take a look at her past sales, you’ll see what I mean. They’re resin ball-jointed dolls, about 9″ tall – very different to what you might have in mind when you think of the word ‘doll’.

To celebrate her birthday, I’ve been having a go at making some mini cushions for these dolls. It’s good timing, since Amal’s just bought a range of chairs for her dolls, and no chair is complete without a cushion!

I hope she likes them! They’re stuffed with cotton wool, and machine-sewed, except for the top edge which I’ve sewn with the tiniest stitches I could manage. I would love to make more of these as they are really cute, but I’m going to wait to see whether the dolls are fans or not – or whether they’d like to see some changes made!

for you…

31 Jul

One of the best things about being a crafter, is that it’s possible to create personal and touching gifts for those you love at short notice. I made this cushion a little while ago, but added a few little finishing touches yesterday…

It’s for the boyf (his name’s Ali) and ever since he first received it, it’s had pride of place on his beloved chair. This is a bit of a given since he lives with me and I’d be rather peeved if it was flung into a corner and forgotten. But having said that, I know that if I received a personalised gift made lovingly by hand, I’d be pretty chuffed. So, with that in mind, I want to start working on a few more gifts for upcoming birthdays.


moving out of my comfort zone

13 Jul

It’s time to be brave and push beyond the joys of sewing. I’ve decided to have a go at making some cards and above is my first attempt. I wanted to still use fabric (I’m not completely running away from what I love) and machine-sew patches onto a card, and then spray paint the card/fabric using a russian doll stencil. I have to say it’s lots of fun making something that has such an instant effect – quilting is magical and wonderful and awesome, but it also takes a good long while to do!

Teaching is still eating into my life hence the shortage of recent posts, but soon, soon, you won’t be able to escape muahahahaha!

the best way to give a gift?

15 Jun

The truth is that right now I’m in Cornwall and nowhere near my desk (I sincerely hope this is the truth), but with the wonders of modern technology, I’ve scheduled this post so that you all know that I’m never too far away… muahahaha. No, but really, there are so many things to share, it seemed simply bad form to skidaddle for five days without sending some sort of virtual postcard. This postcard includes something very useful thanks to the creative miss w Creative Miss W – she’s posted on her blog a fantastic video that shows you how to transform a scarf into a bag in seconds, without sewing a single seam. Hallelujah. I mean, I love to sew, but we live in a world of instant and disposable products – it’s good to know that we can have this a little at home too! As my mother says, life’s too short to stuff a tomato.

This is my attempt at the scarf-bag transformation. Please forgive the poor photography – I only have so many hands. The actual bag, I promise, is incredibly cute. What a fabulous way this would be to wrap a gift. There are so many scarfs in charity shops it seems, and I’ve always thought that they’re so pretty, but haven’t known what I could use them for. Dilemma sorted. Thanks Miss W!

Looking forward to sharing a real postcard of Cornwall with you all, and maybe, just maybe (the sewer lives in constant hope) some exciting crafting finds… You never know when fate will land a new tool/fabric/technique on the doorstep.

the scissors are right here…

11 Jun

After prodding from some readers (gratefully received! thank you magic and drudgery and the creative miss w) I have made my craft belt! I am incredibly proud of it – I know exactly where my scissors are for the first time ever – but I have to admit that it is most certainly a triumph for slapdash sewing. I do think this blog should be renamed ‘the slapdash sewer’ – I never realised before starting the blog just how lazy I really am.

The tutorial from Kerri-made that I’d all advised you to follow turned out to be a little harder than I’d at first thought. And the thing is, this craft belt is not a gift for anyone. For me, it just needs to be an item that functions and is durable. So, hands up – I’m guilty, I turfed the instructions from that tutorial out the window and went for a bit of my good old friend intuition.

I think it worked – I hope you agree. It’s a cute little belt, with different fabric pockets (something that greatly pleases the patchwork quilter in me who constantly wonders about the poor little, often chucked, scraps of fabric left at the end of any big sewing project). Here’s how I did it.

Step 1. Cut two 1 metre-long lengths of fabric and hem them so that no loose edges of fabric are left.

Step 2. Cut a rectangle of fabric (c. 20 cm by 60 cm, but play this part by ear.. or eye) and hem around the edge.

Step 3. Sew each length from Step 1 to the top of the rectangle, beginning from half way along. You will end up with the lengths sewn to the top of the hemmed rectangle, and two extensions of fabric from the top of the rectangle that will tie at the back. Ta da – you have the basic part of your fabric belt. Now for the pockets…

Step 4. If you want to be really quick and slapdash about it, just cut some rectangles and squares of varied fabric (or even better, find scraps) and sew these onto the rectangle of the belt – no hemming, nothing. If they’re the kind of fabric that doesn’t fray, this’ll work just fine, and let’s be honest, it’s a craft belt, not a dress for the Oscars red carpet. If you want to be a little tidier, then make the pockets by…

Step 4b (for tidier pockets). Doubling up the pockets for the material (so that there are two pieces cut to the same shape and size). Hem one side of these fabric patches. On all the other sides, sew the fabric patches together inside out, so that when you turn them inside out, you end up with a stand-alone pocket with a hemmed top. Sew this to the rectangle of the craft belt.

Step 5. You might like, as I did, to have a larger pocket at the front, with two slimmer pockets either side. For the large front pocket, you can add detailing by sewing a line down the middle to create different pockets. It all depends on what you want to keep in your craft belt.

And there we go. The craft belt is made. And you are ready to start crafting. Which is good news for me because I have soooo much to do this weekend. I’ve just signed up for a craft fair in Swindon, which I’m incredibly excited about, but this will mean really going to town with my inventory and increasing it by about 500%! I can’t wait to get started – especially as I visited a junk shop just a couple of days and got the most incredible amount of stash for just £6. The joys of upcycling! I can’t wait to show you some of the things I’m working on… and hopefully I’ll be ten times more efficient because of the craft belt.


p.s. I’ve posted some new pictures of me wearing the maxi dress I made a week or so ago that I think show it off a little better. Please excuse the vanity.

oh crap… where are the scissors?

6 Jun

I don’t have much room to work in when I’m crafting. Things are a bit of a tight squeeze. One of the major downsides of working in amongst so much bloody stuff (are crafters hoarders by nature?) is that you end up losing stuff constantly. To be fair, I can’t completely blame the space I’m working in – this is also a character trait.

me: where are my scissors…. oops, there they are.

me 2 mins later: oh no. where have they gone now?

This is why I need to make myself a craft belt. Then when I’m not cutting, or threading, or sewing, I can put my tools ON ME. Safe and sound. And then I found this tutorial. Amazing – my woes are sorted. Well, they will be as soon as I’m back home, with my sewing machine (hallelujah! This sewing only by hand is starting to get me down), and I can design a beautiful pleated craft belt. If I haven’t blogged with a picture of me in a craft belt within a week, please prod and poke me until I come up with the goods!