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Sunday, 9 December 2012

Loungy Trousers

I finally got myself down to the fabric shop in Downend the other day. Best one in the area it seems! I somewhat behaved myself... well kind of anyway; my main buy was some pyjama material which was planned... but I did also get a few fat quarters!

The middle one ill probably use for a glasses case but the other two I don't really have any plans for yet! Lovely Clare also gave me a pack of four fat quarters (which I forgot to photograph) which i need to decide on something for; I wonder if I have enough coming together to make a scrappy quilt... not sure it would all match though!

Anyway back to the loungy trousers; they are the first garment I have tried since I started sewing again so they are pretty simple but I am very happy with how they have turned out!

I don't think there is much difference between the front and the back really, they aren't particularly complex in design. I did use a tutorial but to be honest I didn't really follow it that closely but it doesn't seem to have mattered. It's also the first time I have made clothing without using a proper brought pattern, and instead I used christmas wrapping paper! Much cheaper and simpler solution.

The boyfriend seems pretty happy with them!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Christmas Decorations

It's that time of year again! And the cottage looks so pretty this year!

We had to buy a new tree as the last one went mouldy in the cupboard under the stairs. It may be been salvageable but it was so cheap we decided we would get a new one.

I have put my sewing skills to good use too! Mum gave me lots of Christmas material which she acquired from someone else so I made some bunting and stockings! It looks very quaint!

Herman's all grown up!

On day 10 (or 12 if you forget like me), Herman gets baked! Because he is a friendship cake the idea is to split the mixture into four, three portions are given away (to start the process again) and the last is used to make the cake!

You add 150g caster sugar, 2 eggs and 160mls vegetable oil... I hate adding oil to cakes so I only added about 100mls and it still turned out fine! It also needs dry ingredients of 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon and 2 teaspoons of baking powder. In my excitement I forgot the baking powder but it seemed to come out fine! Very yummy in fact!

The recipe also says that you should add 150g of raisins and 2 cooking apples. I didn't have any apples but I can imagine they would make it even better! I have heard that you can pretty much put any fruit/filling in you like; which I wish I had remembered as I still have some frozen raspberries and strawberries in the freezer. Maybe ill cook another portion tomorrow and use them!

Last of all you sprinkle some brown sugar on the top and some 'dots' (as the recipe puts it) of butter on the top and stick it in the oven! Once cooked this makes the top crunchy and yummy!

The full recipe can be found using this link. Enjoy 

Monday, 3 December 2012

Damage Limitation

I attempted to make two more purses yesterday... It didn't go very well; the purse in the tutorial used a vinyl outside which looked really good so I thought I would give it a go...

The first one I messed up by ironing the inner fabric flat and accidentally caught the vinyl without realising and then spread it over the fabric, completely ruining it.

The second went much better until it came to top stitching around the edges to finish it of. Where the extra fabric made it much thicker it refused to sit properly and wouldn't fit under the foot of the sewing machine... from which at this point I swore loudly and give up.

Then I had a brain wave!!

I unpicked the vinyl from the rest of the purse, sewed the inside and outside together to create a quilted effect and binded the seam (if that's what you call it?) edges instead. Doing it this way instead makes it a little bigger but actually I think it looks really pretty!

I'm glad I tried again, so much so that I have just finished cutting out the bits for another one. I have made them slightly smaller though as I would like it to be more the size of the first one.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Lip Balm Holder

My friend Clare sent me a picture of a little lip balm holder the other day asking if I was able to trying something like it... well after about 5 attempts I have something. Rather rubbish but it does hold a lip balm!

The first attempts were far too baggy so it kept falling out, eventually I got it so it fitted nicely so carried on with that.... but it appears that my tension got tighter the further on I went so its now VERY snug!! I am hoping that leaving the lip balm in it a while will stretch it. 

Maybe once I have finished all the other projects I have on the go I'll have a go at making some more refined, vibrant ones! Many of them have little flaps to hold them in with pretty buttons, maybe ill buy some buttons!

If nothing else I learnt a new crochet stitch!

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Hello, I am Herman

The friendship cake!

I came from Cat's lovely friends Sam and Natalie. I take a bit of looking after, but from all accounts it is worth the wait! So much so that Sam and Nat decided they wouldn't share the completed me with her!

This is me on day 1. Delivered, put into a bowl, stirred in the first time and covered in a damp tea towel. For the next two days all Cat needs to do is stir me and cover me back over (making sure the tea towel stays damp).

On day 4, I need feeding! I need to be transferred to a mixing bowl and fed (200g) caster sugar, (150g) plain flour and (240mls) milk! Cover me back up and be prepared to feed me again!

On days 5 to 8 I mainly just sleep, I bubble a lot so I just need stirring and recovering each day.

Day 9 I get very hungry again feed me (200g) caster sugar, (150g) plain flour and (240mls) milk again to keep me fulled up!

Now on day 10 I get very excited! This is where Cat will blog again to tell you all about my short little life! See you again soon!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Crochet hook case

Another project done today!

I fancied making myself a pretty little crochet hook case!

I used the 'Crochet Clutch' tutorial but decided did it my own way!

The thought of having to hand stitch around the edge of the circular top was just too much for me so I stitched it together right sides together and turned the right way round as normal! My top stitching was much better this time which makes me happy! I also decided I didn't want a zipped pocket so I put a scissor pouch in instead... Only problem was they kept falling out so I added a plaited tie to keep them in place! The crochet flower on the front wasn't terribly adventurous but I am happy enough as it's the only other thing I have attempted other than a granny square!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Matching purse

Finally got around to making the matching purse for my ruffled bag today!

The tutorial does the fabric proud I think! The final top stitching is a bit dodgy around the edges but I couldn't be arsed to undo it and try again, maybe tomorrow. The hardest bit was trying to get the zip in correctly. It was originally going to be a navy zip but I messed it up so now it's black. Nevermind though it still looks fine!

A bit of a tidy up!

I went out to clean the chickens out and ended up doing a bit of gardening too! It was nice to be motivated by such a lovely morning as recently its been so depressing out there! 

I have cleared soo many leaves from the garden already and there are so many still left on the tree. It's annoying really considering the severe lack of fruit we had from it this year! The strawberries did well though so I didn't mind giving them some TLC. It amazes me how they shoot off and form new plants for free! I planted a few up as some of the others had rotted. My raspberries also did very well this year so I will definitely put the effort in for them next year too. I am tempted to replant them up along the back border so they can spread. However if I do this it means i'll gave no room to try and get other veg to grow next year. Also as I always moan about, there isn't much sun up there most of the year... so probably a little pointless.

This was the extent of my success growing carrots...

Pretty shocking I know but it's entirely disappointing. Hopefully next year if he have better weather and i try a bit harder in protecting them then maybe ill have proper sized fully edible ones!! I'm not put off by this year, just motivated to try harder!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012


My blog hit 1000 views today!

Anyway, as I haven't been able to use the table all week I decided to have a go at smocking. Whilst browsing Pinterest, I came across this lovely little polka dot clutch purse and really fancied having a go.

The tutorial only tells you how to smock using polka dots, so how I am going to fashion it into a lined purse yet I have no idea!!

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Quilted tote bag tutorial

I have finally finished them! My Christmas bags. Yes I know they have nothing to do with Christmas; they are Christmas presents! I have a real dislike for presents which are Christmas themed as they can only be used at Christmas, you would look pretty silly walking around with a Santa and Rudolf bag in July!

They were really simple to make so I'm not sure why I am bothering to make a tutorial as anyone could work it out but here we go!

The tutorial will be for the three larger bags but Ill add a note about the smaller (best) one at the end!

  • 18 5" fabric squares
  • 1/2 yard lining fabric (width 45") (also used for the bottom)
  • 1/2 yard wadding 
  • Thread
  • 2 x 27" length of webbing 
Finished dimensions: Height 12" Width 9" Depth 3"


Step One:

The main pattern of the bag is made up of 3x3 fabric squares (9 in total for each side). Decide on the square placement and sew them together with a 1/4" seam.

Be careful to ensure that the corners of each square and in line rather than just placing the edges together. Even though I brought machine cut squares, they were not 100% accurate in their sizes and on some i noticed that when looking at the right side they did not match!

Can you see the difference between the two pictures? Even the second one isn't completely exact but it looks much better than the first.

Step Two:

As the bag is boxed I have used a plain fabric at the bottom so that the main fabric wasn't wasted. Measure the width of the sewn squares (should be 13.5").

From your plain/lining fabric, cut a piece measuring the width x 2" (in my case 13.5 x 2")

Sew this piece  to the bottom of the bag.

Step Three:

Pin the pieces to the wadding and cut it to fit.

Sew the wadding to the back of the quilted piece by sewing along both sides of the square seams and the bottom piece. I'm sure there is probably a certain margin that preferable but all I do is line the seam up against the machine foot so that when sewing it is easier to keep it even all the way along. Again it is at this point where it is important to get all the squares aligned  as trying to sew straight lines when they are wonky is quite difficult, and it really shows!

Once you have finished this stage go back over and double check that you have stitched all the seams each side. On one of my bags I forgot to do this on just one seam but didn't notice until the very last point... And i really couldn't be bothered to un-stitch it all so I just left it and hoped no-one will notice!

Step Four:

(This is where I run out of pictures as I obviously couldn't be arsed to take them... or was too engrossed in what I was doing!)

If everything has gone to plan It should measure 13.5" width and 15.5" length. Measure it just in case and cut out your lining fabric to match. With lots of seams it would be gutting to accidentally cut it too small (or too big and end up wasting fabric)! Now put them to the side...

Step Five:

Pin the quilted pieces right sides together (wadding on the outside) and sew around the edges using a 1/4" seam (obviously leaving the top open!).

Do the same with the lining pieces  but leave a small hole in the bottom seam so that the whole bag can be pulled through the right way later on.

Step Six:

Box the bottom of the quilted bag as per this tutorial but instead of measuring down the triangle, look through the wadding (if you can) to the material underneath and sew your triangle along the seam where the black meets the other fabric. This will ensure that the black only makes up the bottom panel.

Turn it the right way round and check that the boxing has had the right effect. If your happy is it correct then turn back inside out and cut off the triangle as the tutorial says.

measure the length of the stitches used to box the bottom and use this to measure how far down to box the lining pieces. Alternatively (but not the way I did it?), before cutting off the triangle, you could measure down from the top of the corner to the stitches and stitch the same distance on the lining.

Step Seven:

Place the lining inside the quilted bag right sides together. Ensure that the boxed corners sit well inside each other and the seams match at the top.

Sew around the top using a 1/4" seam, or whatever is easiest to keep even all the way along.

Turn the bag the right way round by feeding it through the hole left in the lining.

Step Eight:

Time to put the straps in. Now I am really not very good at this. If you read my post about the gathered bag I made you will know this!! I basically did the same as I did then so if you know a better way to do it then please let me know!

Decide where you want the strap to be, unpick the seam, slip the webbing in and pin in place. As you can sort of see from the photo's I placed mine in line with the outer seams on the two outer squares. Make sure that you measure how much of the webbing you are inserting inside the bag. You don't want wonky straps! Stitch around the whole of the top of the bag (as you can also see I have done in the picture).

Finish off the bag by sewing in any loose ends and sewing up the hole in the lining. Also you may want to hand stitch around the straps to bring in the opened seam. I haven't done this yet but fully intend to before giving them to people!


Extra notes on the smaller (Hello Kitty lined) bag:

This bag was basically put together exactly the same as the others...

Sew together the four squares.

Cut out two extra plain fabric pieces measuring the length of the squares (e.g. 9" x 2") and sew on each side. Press the seams and measure the width.

Cut out another plain piece measuring the new width (e.g. 11" by 2") and sew to the bottom. It should look like the picture.

Ensure each of the black sections are all the same size. As you can probably see from mine they weren't quite, and if they are not, it will not box correctly and be uneven (I did trim them down to match after the photo was taken)

Measure the lining and back with the wadding like before.

Sew the lining pieces and the quilted pieces together like before.

Box in the same way as the other bags. This time you don't have the seam (black/coloured) to follow for your straight line so you have to judge where to stitch by drawing a line from one side to the other starting where the coloured fabric is just visible. I'm not sure this will make sense (without pictures) so the other way to do it is to measure the full length of the bottom and use that as your measurement of the triangle needed. Again tell me if this makes no sense and ill try and explain it again. Or make another bag so I can take pictures.

I think in retrospect I would have made all the bags with the black down the sides too as it shapes them nicely and frames the vibrant colours of the main fabric.

You can also see from this picture where I haven't yet sewn the seam back together where the strap have been put in. I really think it will tidy it up!

Sunday, 28 October 2012


As the clocks went back last night I thought I would also give you an update on the alarm clocks (aka chickens). With it being darker in the mornings they have generally been much quieter; squawking to come out of their house at about 8.30am and then (most of the time) being relatively quiet in their run until we decide they can come out. Often they will make noise if they hear people coming and going out on the road but it never lasts for long.

8.30am was so lovely, most of the time we were awake waiting for their call to go let them out and this morning was no different; until we realised that it was actually 7.30am!! That's not fair! Today didn't matter as to us it still feels like 8.30 but tomorrow when we get used to the time change (and the bedroom clock is set correctly) we are not gonna be happy bunnies! 

I know lots of people with kids out there will be say '7.30am, what you complaining about!!' but I don't have kids (well the feathered variety I suppose you could argue) and I like my small lay ins. I'm only 23, and I get up for work at 6am so I deserve the extra 2 1/2 hours on my days off I feel!

On the upside Ginger has now laid for 149 days in a row now!! That's pretty impressive! Clever girl - unlike her noisy sister (yes Silver is out there now squawking her head off grr) who has slowed right down because of the weather. Our egg supply is looking a little depleted at the moment!

The garden is looking worse than ever before too. The grass is non-existent. I can only hope that come spring it picks up again. There are a few patches that look like they are trying to grow again but I can't see it having much luck. I think we may need to speak to the landlord about having it all graveled. It always struggled because of the tree, so the addition of too much rain a couple of chickens has wiped it out!

As you can also see from the picture, the chicken defenses didn't last long either... though having said that the one keeping the stones off the patio down by the house is still up, and mostly intact. I suppose it wasn't a complete waste of time.

Another upside, down in the border on the patio I have one surviving flower!! A pretty dwarf sunflower! 

Actually there were two but the chickens broke in and demolished one of them! Its almost comical really!

Crochet injuries

Well yesterday was a productive day; finished 2 of the 4(.5) Christmas bags (all bar sewing in the loose ends), cleaned the bathroom and crocheted 3 more granny squares!

I am getting used to crochet a bit more now, however I do seem to be developing injuries that can only be related. Before bed last night I had swollen knuckles and a sore hand; probably from where I am holding the wool/hook quite tight as its still a bit alien to me. Also I had blinking sore bottom teeth (yes definitely related!). I have never had this before with any of my other projects so I can only assume that I am concentrating so hard that I am pushing my top teeth against the bottom ones! Its obviously subconscious as I keep telling myself to stop doing it then 10 minutes later realise they are hurting again! By the end of the evening one tooth was full on out of place (well slightly)...

So in the name of craft I shall end up with arthritis and buck teeth!

Still a little way to go before I have a blanket!

Friday, 26 October 2012

It's taken me all day but

I have made my very first granny square!!! It was a hell of a lot harder than I thought it would be but I got there in the end. They are not nearly as good as my cousin can do but for my first attempt I am pretty happy.

It was actually pretty difficult to find a tutorial which made sense to me. After going through several, Squidoo  came to my rescue with their simple to follow instructions. I could get the first chain stitches and making a circle, but the double crochet bit was doing my head in! I learned the double crochet using Crochet for Dummies but I just didn't understand how to make it work on the granny square until I realised that I was going though the whole circle rather than picking up a stitch (as such).

I am really impressed with my crochet hooks as well. As I had never done it before I only got some cheapy ones from ebay but they are really good! Just goes to show that not all cheap eBay stuff is rubbish!

Eventually I want to make enough to make a blanket. Hopefully still while the weather is cold!

Sunday, 14 October 2012


Now I have borrowed mum's sewing machine (until I buy my own, or she wants it back), Scott and myself have to come to some sort of agreement. We only have a small space to play with so it's impossible have his drums/uni work space/studio (HAHA!) and the sewing machine all in use at the same time. 

Although we are sharing, unfortunately I have the raw deal - though actually that depends on the way you look at it - Scotts working whereas i'm having fun! He has this thing where he struggles to concentrate on uni work unless he has a designated work space where he can spread out his papers (and laptops) and sit up to a desk. This was never an issue for me as I am happy working anywhere as long as the seat is comfy and there's enough space to have a folder beside me. This does mean Scott has dominated the table for the majority of the time. I don't mind really as his work is more important; but it does make me wish we had a bigger place where we could have an office/craft space we could share but without getting in each others way!

He let me have some time this morning to take in my work tunics and take up my trousers as I START TOMORROW!! Other than that I am taking advantage of the times where he is at uni or doing something else - which isn't often as he's like me; when you know you need to do stuff it's difficult to do anything else for too long without feeling guilty. We brought a new printer the other day so I managed to begin my patchwork bags I am making for christmas.

Just a taster as I plan on making a tutorial for these bags!

Although my projects may take a little longer than ususal, I will still very much enjoy making them!

Thursday, 11 October 2012


Can be a pain in the arse!

I have just finished the ruffled bag I spoke about in my last post. It's taken much longer than I thought for two reasons. The first reason being that that day at home I took to do it we spent in Wellington; then when I then got the sewing machine back to Bristol, I ran out of cotton so had to wait for a new bobbin arrive. The other reason it took so long is that I have quickly learned that making ruffles can be somewhat time consuming if you want it to look right!

My first mistake was with the cutting of the fabric; right where you don't want to make a mistake! I was using mums wonderful craft mat, quilting ruler and rotary cutter. Stupidly I lined my fabric up on 1 inch instead of 0, making it an inch too short once cut! Maths was never my strong point. Luckily I have got away with it as the bag pannels are in 2 sections so I just made the other pannel an inch longer. You would never know if I hadn't of said!

Much of the bag design consisted of gathering. Although I have done it before I don't remember it being as much as a pain at this. Maybe I found it more difficult because it needs to look good because it makes up the mian style of the bag. I dunno.

Once I got the hang of it it came together pretty quickly and I soon had the lining and outer ready to put together.


The straps also had ruffles on them. These were by far the hardest to get right at they were small and long so fiddley to get right. I stitched the edges to stop them fraying, giving me chance to play with some of the cool stitches mums sewing machine can do. Many of the edging stitches didn't really work with the material which was fustrating. I think it was because it was such a thin piece to sew, it didnt flow that well.

As most bags are, the lining and the main part of the bag were sewn together inside out then turned the right way for finishing. Well this caused another massive brain ache for me as I couldn't work out which way they the straps needed to be so they were sitting right when turned the right way! After 2 failed attempts I gave up, cut open the seam in four places (where they were sewn into the inside the lining haha), tucked them back in the right way and sewed the holes up again! My patience was wearing thin by then! Got there in the end though!

Just because I hadn't yet had enough of ruffles I also added a flower to make the front more interesting as I didn't put the hoops in for the straps like the original pattern wanted. The flower was the easiest part of all of it. However, in my true idiot style it took me three attempts to position it right on the bag. Also I was going to have 3, one larger one then two smaller each side but my large one ended up being so large I thought I would leave it there! I have some material left over if I want to add more in the future; though having said that I still need to make the matching purse so I doubt there will be much left after that.

This was the first time I had made a flower and I could only find one tutorial which came close to the sort of thing I wanted. I kind of followed it but instead of having one long piece of fabric I used a 3in by 21in piece for the outside and 1.5in by 21in for the inside. So it matched (and didn't fray), I egded the fabric like I did the straps.I think the sparkly button in the middle finishes it off nicely!

I have put a zip in it like I said I wanted! However I made it up as I went along so it probably could have been much better if I had followed a tutorial for recessed zips, theres plenty out there!