Tuesday, 31 July 2012

correspondence club: July

In correspondence club this month, I was paried up with Katherine of Katattack2000. Her letter arrived really quickly. I love all the Australian stamps she managed to include on the envelope!

Included along with a super sweet letter were a cute magnetised addressbook, a little photocard and this pretty mini-notebook.

And here is a little glimpse of my letter, which included - naturally - a pinback badge, but also some of the flower earrings I made recently.

For this month's post from correspondence organiser, Nnenna, click here! And you can see my correspondent's post here.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

holiday hexagons

I thought about calling this post 'healing hexagons', for yes, I have been in need of some healing, having caught my little one's chest infection early in our holiday (feeling much better now, thankfully). And making hexagons is definitely therapeutic.

I am using the paper piecing method to make hexagons for a patchwork. Rather than cut the paper templates myself, I bought 200 from this eBay seller, who was delightful and even gave me a great little tip: pin your fabric to the template as you baste so you don't tire your hands from pinching it all together.

To those who might be a bit mystified by this procedure, here's how it works: you baste (tack) the fabric, folding it round the edges of a paper template to form a precise hexagon shape. Then you stitch the hexagons together from the back and finally remove the paper and basting stitches. That's it!

I've realised that I've brought a very random bunch of fabrics with me on holiday. The large range of different colours and patterns of the (mostly vintage) scraps I brought along is inspiring me to do something a little crazy. I now have this idea that I want to make a small rainbow quilt from 200 different pieces of fabric. We'll see how that goes!

This is where I am hanging out right now, in the foothills of the Pyrenees in France. Beautiful isn't it?

Monday, 23 July 2012

vintage sewing purse

On Friday, just in time for packing, I received a wonderful parcel. Or rather I should say my little boy received it, as it contained some fabulous gifts for him I'll write about another time. There was a treat for me inside: this gorgeous, unusual vintage purse.

Flip open the tab and what do you see? Pins and needles just waiting for me! It seemed so serendipitous that it arrived just before my trip, what with my sewing-to-go plans and all.

Isn't this just the sweetest little felt,blanket-stitched needle case? It has three layers for storing an array of different needles. I am intrigued by the origins of the purse - who created it, thoughtfully stitched it together and what wonderful work-in-progress has it carried?

These days it's with me, holding my holiday sewing in my parents-in-law's house in Southern France. I'll see what I can to do mend it, but for now it is doing its job just perfectly and looking lovely in the process. Thanks Ashlie!

Friday, 20 July 2012

sewing to go

We're off on holiday tomorrow, staying with my in-laws in France. I'm looking forward to having some lovely relaxing family time. I'm less looking forward to being separated from my craft cupboard!

I decided to pack some sewing projects to keep my hands in while I'm away. With European flight baggage allowances being so restrictive and lots of suitcase space needed for teddy bears etc., it's important to keep it small and light - something I think I've managed quite well, as shown above.

I've been wanting to try some hexagon patchwork for a while now, and since all that's required are some paper hexagons and scraps of fabric, it seemed the perfect project to-go.

A hotch-potch of vintage and scrap fabric should give me plenty of choice in my hexie-making.

I also needed some cheap thread for basting the hexagons and I thought I'd throw in a small embroidery hoop for good measure.

And that meant picking out some embroidery floss to go with it. It was hard to choose but I think these colours will give me enough scope for the projects I have in mind.

Finally a little kit for customising a plain and dull cardigan, something I'd meant to do before leaving but which is easy enough to do on the go: all I'll need is an ironing board and I know for sure my mother-in-law has one (she has advised me to use it for clothes - clothes I tell you! Not seam-pressing or appliqué but ordinary creased clothes! - on more than one occasion).

Finally I needed a little sewing kit (or "hussif" - for housewife - as my mum tells me they are called). Having left mine at my mum's house last weekend provided the perfect pretext for buying a pretty new one at the Cath Kidston craft evening I attended last night (I'll be blogging about that in the near future).

Et voilà: a neat little travel-friendly sewing project kit that I can slip into our suitcase without anyone complaining! Now I just have to attend to the eternal shoe dilemma (taking 3 pairs is unreasonable, apparently)...

Thursday, 19 July 2012

crafty creatives box

As the tweets started coming in, chirping with excitement about the Crafty Creatives boxes arriving, I felt peeved. I knew I'd forgotten to sign up... except I hadn't! Not long afterwards I found myself opening this:

I've never felt tempted by monthly delivery boxes before, but this one was going to be full of all my favourite addictions. I couldn't resist! The delightful contents met my expectations. The theme for the month was floral. Look at the pretty buttons!

Included was this DIY kit with instructions to make a fabric brooch. It looks simple and fun to make. I need handstitching projects at the moment as I'm going on holiday soon and can't pack my sewing machine!

I love that there is also a youtube video tutorial that makes the process completely clear.

In the box there was also a useful bottle of fabric glue, something I'm intrigued to experiment with.

Delicate lucite flower beads for jewellery making (I'm seeing little dangly earrings). Plus the rose-patterend tissue paper seen in the background here, which I love and feels like something I might have found in my granny's attic.

Four very sweet little wooden buttons - lovely.

This gorgeous green glass pendant - so unusual and a beautiful colour. I love green.

Floral fabric - I love the way the colours seem to be different to the original William Morris colours, but with the same pattern. It appears to be a lovely modern take on the arts and craft style.

These super cute beads and little thank you note for signing up to the first box were a lovely touch that certainly make me feel like a cherished customer.

So why subscribe to a monthly craft box? I think it's the joy and pleasure of the surprise, a mixture of inspiration to try new things and the simple feeling of adding pretty things to your stash. I will also be intrigued to see what other people make with their new goodies!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

DIY strawberry mug

I've been feeling a little under the weather lately and recently finished a big sewing project (that I'm looking forward to sharing soon). I needed something simple to make that would still let me get a really early night! I remembered something I'd seen in this lovely book.

I love the colours, shapes and breezy tone of this book. Like many of my favourite craft books, it is a source of inspiration rather than providing projects I want to copy exactly.

This project for creating pretty plates decorated with colourful geometric shapes caught my eye. It wasn't something I'd thought of before but it struck me as something fun and easy to do, with a lot of scope for experiments.

I'd had these clever porcelaine pens in my craft cupboard for a while but was waiting to find some very cheap crockery to experiment on. Cue one plain white mug from Asda.

I think it was the strawberry fabric I've been using recently that made me think little strawberries would make a cute motif. The pen line was slightly thicker than I'd imagined and I'm glad this was a practice project as some of the strawberries came out especially wonky! But I still think it looks pretty.

After drying for 24hrs and 35 minutes in the oven, the design is dishwasher safe. I'll be taking this to work to have something unique on my desk for the drinking of my daily sustenance: tea!

Monday, 16 July 2012


The Arthouse Co-op runs many communal artistic projects, not just the Sketchbook Projects. I took part in the first in the Things Found Series, which asked creative people to take a photograph documenting the inside of their fridge.

This is mine, taken earlier this year, in about February, I think. In pride of place is the bottle of milk that we have delivered to our doorstep from a local dairy. I can see the ingredients for making one of our favourite lamb curries, caramelised onions for making Ragú, some pasta, tahini for making hummus and some chocolate puddings. There will have been veggies too (honest!), but in the bottom drawer.

It is quite fascinating peeking inside people's fridges. Some are almost entirely empty or only contain drinks. Do they always eat out? Did they just move in? Are they anorexic? Stories start spinning in my head.

One is full of rolls of film, another contains a rose. Some have playful scenes, like the one above with its smurf theatre creating a tiny comical drama. Some are perfectly ordered, some (like ours!) are a mess. Some are absolutely crammed full.

This one intrigues me: why all those boxes and boxes of eggs? There must be twenty dozen eggs there! Yet the rest seems fairly ordinary. What makes these images even more mysterious is that Arthouse Coop has decided not to include the contributors' names with each image. Unless the photographer has a Tumblr account and can add a note, the images remain anonymous, with a list of artists in a single post, here.

{photo by The Ordinary Instant}

Quite a number of cats decided or were encouraged to take part in the project. I'm drawn to these photos as I think that on the whole a feline presence enhances any image! But it also makes me a little squeamish: cat hair in the butter? I'm quite glad our Fafi has never shown any interest in our fridge!

I think this is such an interesting project. On its own, a single photograph of a fridge interior is absolutely banal, but somehow when accumulated like this it takes the viewer into a strange world of possible narratives.

It also reminds us how much we depend on our fridges - and that even when we don't, they are an essential part of almost every household. It seems fitting to end this post with the only photo I found of food not inside a fridge. What do you think the explanation is?

View all the fridge photos here.

Friday, 13 July 2012

a crafty parcel

There are few things quite as likely to induce kid-on-Christmas-morning excitement in me as receiving a parcel in the post. When it happens to contain a cute owl plushie and all manner of sweet and thoughtful things, better still!

This gorgeous little fellow came from Virna of Craftmates, a blog by 4 friends who share a passion for crafting and creating by hand. I love the fabrics Virna has used. Here are some of the other lovely things she included:

A beautifully sewn quilted mug rug (on which my tea is resting as I type this!) - look at the pretty stitching! It was featured in this post, where you can see it in more detail.

A sweet little pouch containing tea and toffees, with a darling "I love tea parties" badge that I had seen and admired in this post.

A handstamped card tied with a pretty ribbon and featuring an embossed owl. There were also some other little treats: a lovely bright shopping bag and a Canadian beer holder. Each item was fun and thoughtful. There was a polka-dot card in which Virna said she hoped the parcel would brighten my day: well, it did, thanks so much Virna!

has your mail box been happy recently?

Thursday, 12 July 2012

unexpected buttons

I popped out to post a letter and came back with this lovely loot from a vintage stall on the market: a cellophane packet filled with pretty buttons!

I am starting to have something of a button collection...!

I love finding little treasure troves like this.

The shanked buttons are threaded together in grape-like bunches.

I especially love the green faceted ones.

Have you found any treasure unexpectedly lately?

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