A quick catch-up

I thought I should write a quick post before I go back to work tomorrow and get busy with real work again, so here is a quick round up of some of the things I’ve been up to this weekend.

  • I met up with some friends and we played board games and decorated cupcakes. L had got some amazing tools and cutters for her birthday, including some adorable teeny, teeny, teeny, tiny ones. I said I couldn’t eat mine until I took a picture when I got home, but they was a slight jumble in the tin as we power-walked for the train so there was only one photo-ready cake…
    cupcake
  • The train journey there and back, plus a movie night meant I’m making good progress on my red cardigan. I think I showed a swatch in the summer (August to be precise) and never revealed what it was for, so I will make sure I take some pics to show you what I’m knitting.
  • I whipped up a quick top using the purple floral remnant I showed you at the beginning of the week. Not much to say about it. It is my go-to jersey top pattern (a mish-mash of BurdaStyle Sadie and Lydia patterns). Since I was using a remnant I had to have some designer seams on the sleeves (there is a seam below the elbow and a wide cuff band) but the pattern is so busy you really can’t tell. The other change from my normal making is that I applied iron-on seam tape to the shoulders and neckline to minimise stretching (my black and white striped top is on its last legs now and much more revealing than it originally was!)t-shirt
  • I saw this picture online this week:
    It reminded me that I have to show you my dinosaur embroidery. A T-Rex trying to knit except his arms are too short! I love his puzzled face. I can’t decide if it is finished or not. Should I keep it as it is, or risk filling in the outline with colour (satin stitch is not my strength!). What do you think?finished

What do you think should happen to T-Rex? Have you been crafting this weekend?

Self-Portrait Blouse

Do you remember I said I had some silk I wanted to use this half-term? And Gertie’s book was in my reading list… well here is my muslin of the Portrait Blouse.

self-portrait blouse 2

A muslin in Liberty lawn?! Am I crazy?! Well yes, but in this particular case I’m not – this wasn’t meant to be a muslin, however after wearing around the house there are a few more tweaks I will make before I make the silk version. I will definitely be wearing it, but its not quite perfect yet (although I’m sure a non-sewist wouldn’t notice). Also, as much as I LOVE the print (pink and purple scottie dogs!) I’m not sure its the most flattering on me – too much cream when worn alone, although it goes perfectly with all my cardigans.

self-portrait blouse 4

Gertie’s sizes are bigger on the hips than on normal patterns. Yay! I exactly matched up with the measurements for once! Hoorah! Except that was using my full bust measurement, so I still had to adjust the pattern and do a FBA. I use the Palmer & Pletsch Fit For Real People method. Amazon tells me I purchased the book in July 2010 however it is only recently (within the past 6 months) have I flipped over the page and seen the “Y” alteration for when you need to add more than 1 1/2″ which makes for a much better fit for me around the shoulders. I can’t believe it has taken me a couple of years to read that properly, but I know how to do it now (instead of adding all the extra fullness at once, it gets spread over two slashes).

self-portrait blouse 1

When I was making the muslin-muslin and this version everything fitted nicely, however when I actually wore the blouse to do things other than stand and pose I noticed it wasn’t quite right. When I moved around the blouse kept shifting up a little, so next time I’m going to move the bust darts down about an inch.

Other changes I made were to add 4 or 5 inches to the length (I like tops to be slightly longer anyway, but the instructions said it was a short top). I kept the dart/tucks the same length so there is a sort of peplum/flare going on that looks good over jeans.

self-portrait blouse 5

Speaking of jeans, these are the pair I started in the summer (do you remember this teaser back in July?) I still need to adjust the waist (too high waisted at the front, but the back is fine) before the pattern is perfect and I can show detailed pictures of my denim-clad derriere. They are totally wearable with a belt and a hip-length top and this time I even added some metal rivets on the pockets.

self-portrait blouse 3

But back to the Portrait Blouse. I also omitted the facings for the neckline and used…

self-portrait blouse binding

HANDMADE bias-binding! I used the Coletterie’s tutorial for making continuous bias binding so I could save a decent-sized and shaped piece of fabric (it is Liberty lawn after all). Then I applied it using Tasia’s method which was AMAZING. I didn’t quite do it in the same way as Tasia as I had already spent time pressing my bias-binding but I finally get how binding is supposed to be applied!inside out

The inside almost looks at good as the outside (although in need of a press after being worn all day) and has French seams everywhere. This make definitely counts towards my Sewlution to make things properly in case Karen does another check on us soon!

My flat is super-insulated and warm (I only have one radiator heating the whole place and I’m sat at the computer wearing just one layer) so I kinda forgot it was still winter outside as I was making this. I think it will be a little while before I can actually wear it in real life. Meanwhile the silk has been pre-washed and ironed and is waiting for a fresh rotary cutter blade before it can be cut.

self-portrait blouse

The excessive amount of photos is courtesy of my new remote clicker thingamabob. 80 pictures taken in a few minutes. I still need to get the hang of sorting the settings before I jump in front of the camera, but the remote made it so much easier to pose.

 

 

 

 

 

#imapiece

Last week I read about the  #imapiece Craftivist Jigsaw Project. Tilly featured a guest blog from Sarah who is organising it, and who I have been emailing about how to give my piece to my MP. The project is asking crafters to use their craft skills as a way of getting politicians to take notice. The UK is hosting the G8 summit this year and so Save the Children want David Cameron to address the issue of world hunger. Every hour of everyday 260 children die as a result of malnutrition; it causes a third of all child deaths. A third. That is a scary amount.

#I'mapiece

Save the Children want world leaders invest in life-saving interventions to prevent malnutrition. Things like adding vitamins and minerals to staple foods,  promoting healthy behaviours to reduce spread of disease and educating communities about the benefits of breastfeeding (1.3 million children’s lives would be saved if all babies are breastfed for the first six months). Reading statistics like that and the simple solutions made me want to get involved so here are my pieces of the puzzle.

#I'mapiece three

So the message I chose to embroider was by Mary Anne Radmacher and says:

“Courage doesn’t always roar.

Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”

(Well, just the first four words, for ease of embroidery).

#I'mapiece black and white

I chose it because, as a quiet person myself, it reminds me that you do not have to be loud or shouting to be courageous; everyone can have courage and sometimes it is the quietest people who can be most courageous.

#I'mapiece green

I think it fits with the message of the project. Campaigning for worthy causes doesn’t have to be about shouting in the streets (something I would never feel confident to do) but hopefully enough little voices can  have the same impact.

#I'mapiece orange

 

Creative changes

 

For those who read my blog in their Google Reader(or similar app) or aren’t as eagle-eyed as others, this blog has had a little make-over! Yesterday I wasn’t just lounging around in my pjs and surfing the net all day*, I was actually deciding on a new look for my little part of the internet.

New Blog

I figured it was time I updated the design and banner to reflect my more recent projects (not my pre-blogging days). In the summer I got some cards for my blog, since the name is too long for people to remember, and so have created a banner to match. The layout is the same, but the colour scheme matches more of my makes and hopefully looks a bit fresher ready (hopefully) for spring. What do you think?

*This also is delaying tactics as, after lots of muslin fitting, I’m still not feeling brave enough to cut up my silk prints.

 

Retro Recipe #3 – Scone Base Pizza

 

 

retro recipes

I thought it was time for another Retro Recipe but couldn’t think of a good enough excuse for cake so flicked through my Grandma’s binder looking for something savoury. Most of the recipes she collected were cakes and puddings and sweets (is that where I get my sweet tooth from?) and I was about to give up when I found this…

recipe

 

I made this exactly as written, although with a little less cheese (3oz looked like plenty to me). It was a very simple recipe (only used a bowl, a chopping board, a frying pan and a baking tray so simple washing up too) so there is not much for me to add.

pizza dough

The most time-consuming prep was frying the onions.

onions

 

I went for classic “Herbs de Provence” and salt and black pepper for seasoning.

cheese

 

I did change the recipe slightly and added the end of a jar of red pesto to half of the base before adding the toppings.

before

 

Cooked at 190ºC fan oven for approx 20 minutes.

after

 

Due to all the moisture from the onions I couldn’t tell if the scone base was done, but turning it over revealed a well cooked bottom.

crispy bottom

 

dinner time

This was really quick and simple to make, and used ingredients I had already in the house. I kept the recipe simple with cheese, onion and tomato but I think it would work well with a variety of other toppings (or flavoured scone bases) or maybe as mini-pizzas. The half with pesto had a bit more flavour, but both sides were pretty yummy and satisfying straight from the oven. I will try and remember this when I have no food in the fridge and need a quick supper – why don’t you try it for Sunday afternoon teatime?

 

 

 

 

 

Half-term plans

Yay! Half-term is finally here after what has felt like the longest week ever. I have woken up everyday thinking it was one or two days later in the week. So what am I going to get up to, now I have time at home to be awake and crafty?half-term plansClockwise from top left:

  1. I have two silks I got in the John Lewis sale to make some nice tops/blouses from. I resisted them twice, but decided £14 for a silk top was probably a good buy. Underneath them is a jersey remnant, about 80cm long, so I’m going to see what I can squeeze out of it (sleeves or no-sleeves, that is the question).
  2. I need to quickly finish my pieces for #imapiece and get them posted. First Hannah mentionned it on Monday and then Tilly had a guest post by the Craftivist Collective so I had to whip out my embroidery threads (well pick my case up off the floor) and get involved. Two out of three are finished but number three needs some sparkle of some sort…
  3. Pressing some sad looking flowers. Since I read Attic 24’s review of the year in flowers I’ve started buying the occasional bunch of flowers to brighten up my little flat and this morning afternoon I managed to grab some flowers before they looked too sad and have pressed them in my flower press.
  4. My current crafty reading list. A cute jacket I can’t stop thinking about in one issue of Burda and a spring tunic in another (I need to get some muslin fabric asap). Gertie’s portrait blouse is a contender for using my sale silks. 100 flowers to knit and crochet is filling the post-blanket crochet hole.

Finished Quilting

Here is my finished little (I think it is too small to be a lap-quilt) quilt decorating my little sofa. It is actually the perfect size to drape over the back of my sofa, and of course the colours match my colour scheme perfectly.

first quilt

I bought some Hobbs Heirloom Cotton Batting* for the quilt, based on a recommendation from a friend’s mum who is quilting-obsessed (apparently it took her 3 seconds to reply with her recommendation so I knew it would be good). It was much thinner than I was expecting but quilted really nicely using my regular machine stitches and feet after I had liberally pinned all the layers together. The back isn’t as perfect as I’d like, but I think the quilt will spend most of its life on the sofa so nobody will know!

I only used half of a crib-sized piece of batting and so have a similar sized piece left (and a big bag of remnants and off-cuts) – how many lap quilts do I need?! (I don’t think my quilting is good enough to give away yet) I hand-stitched the binding around the quilt and it took ages to do, so I may wait a little bit until I quilt a full-sized quilt!

Yup, that is also a new cushion cover, made from two of the silk Liberty samples I got a few weeks ago – pink on one side and cream on the other.

 

Patchwork in Purple (of course)

decisions

I have spent the past week sitting and playing with all the fabric scraps and samples I got last week and looking for inspiration on line (click on the pictures for links to the quilts and blocks).

SewMamaSew Quick Piece Tiny Squares

SewMamaSew Simple Triangle Block

Oh, Fransson Nine Patch Lattice

Oh, Fransson Improv Block

Due to the totally random assortment of fabrics I had, I didn’t think anything too structured would work. Plus it would involve too much planning and arranging, more than my brain can handle after teaching children on windy, rainy days. So I decided to have a go at the disappearing nine patch blocks.

Disappearing Nine Patch

After lots of working out measurements and counting, I eventually decided to take the smallest piece of fabric and work out the size of the square that would fit using my patchwork ruler. I cut out almost 60 squares, joined them together, cut them up again and re-joined them, and added some strips to make a border until I ended up with this…
frontback

Crafty chats

Conversation in the pub after work on Friday was all about school politics and debriefing the dramas of the week.
J: We need to stop talking about school. Has anyone got any news?
Someone mentioned the cinema, but then talk turned back to work for ten or fifteen minutes.
J: We need to stop talking about school. What else is going on?
Conversation changed to someone’s friend visiting, but turned back to school chit-chat. This happened a couple more times.
J: Doesn’t anyone have anything else to talk about?! No exciting news?
Me: Oooh, I’ve been using my new rotary cutter this week! I’ve been cutting all my scraps so quickly and easily *miming fast rotary cutting*
I was met with blank stares, as I tried to explain what a rotary cutter is and why it was so amazing to use.

rotary cutter

I’m really hoping someone who reads this appreciates that this is exciting news… I didn’t realise how great a rotary cutter would be – no measuring or marking, just aligning my patchwork ruler and *swoosh* fabric is cut.