Welcome to my 'other blog' the one that explores my crafty side. I have been a maker of 'things' since childhood. By nature I'm creative. I still love to write, and you can click on this link to visit my blog: Hanging On My Word, which is where I indulge in the thought and word side. Although a teacher by profession, I don't offer tutorials. This is my showcase of projects I like to share. So pull aside the curtains and let's begin (I'm a bit theatrical too!).

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

My New Look

A lovely new sundress made using New Look 6557. This was an easy pattern to make up and I chose option B from the designs on the front, also worn by the model. It fits very well, except for the usual problem with crossover bodices with a tiny gapping at the cleavage. Everything was measured before cutting but the right bra ususally solves the problem. To be extra sure I like to wear a pretty brooch at the crossover point. Next time I make the pattern up I may choose one of the other bodice designs.
The fabric had been sitting in my stash for about ten years so it was definitely time to use it. It's a pretty poly cotton chosen mainly because I seemed to have rather a lot of it and the circular skirt requires cutting on the cross. I also made the tie belt, which is really just an adornment and serves no useful purpose. The picture was taken in a friend's garden which overlooks the Bocaina Straits here in Lanzarote. The island of Fuereventura is visible in the background.

Also showing this at 'Ta-dah Tuesday' on Lakota's Faith, Hope and Charity Shopping blog

Friday, 17 August 2012

Double Trouble

Here are the twins modelling their Summer play outfits, which I made using New Look 6398. They've shot up during the Summer and the tops are already too short. As usual it will be no problem to add a band along the hems, perhaps of a contrasting /plain fabric. That way they should get another Summer's wear out of them - as long as they don't expand widthways during next year!

I bought the pattern secondhand for 50 pence. It was uncut and had the instructions so that was a bargain. I traced the size onto separate paper, keeping the pattern pieces intact. That way I can use this excellent basic pattern for a couple more years (ages 2-7).

I didn't have enough fabric in my stash to make shorts for my grandson, but I think it looks better with contrasting colours for a boy. As I live in Lanzarote I couldn't just nip out to the fabric shop where I bought the original material in England. I don't think I'd use black again, partly because it was difficult to see the threads. Also the reverse of the fabric was only marginally different to the front. This caused a  few headaches. It's a fun design though. The pattern is still available to buy today.

I'm showing this off in Lakota's Ta Dah! Tuesday as I was pleased to complete at least one outfit for the grandchildren this year!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Fairy Tale

Sepia Saturday this week has a 1920s ‘Health Fairy’ as a creative prompt, and I was reminded how popular fairies are in arts and crafts. In the Victorian era the paintings of Richard Dadd suggested rather sinister fairy folk, but artists such as Cicely Mary Barker and Arthur Rackham painted much more attractive creatures. Fairy ‘stories’ and books about fairies are still popular today and little girls love to dress up in layers of net with clip-on wings, holding a fairy wand. There are dozens of patterns available for soft-toy making and cross -stitch design too.

Here’s one I stitched over thirty years ago (not quite sepia) for my daughter’s tooth-fairy cushion. It’s a ‘Gloria and Pat’ design from 1977, and the original verse said:

Tooth Fairy, Tooth Fairy,
Please be kind.
In this pocket my
Tooth you’ll find.
Take it out and leave for me,
A nickle, a dime,
Or maybe three.
As decimal currency was still a fairly recent arrival in Britain (the one pence was a called a ‘P’ ), it was easy to change the rhyme. I understand that these days children expect rather more than twenty pence per tooth! My son’s cushion had a cheeky - looking elf, and the following rhyme:
When at night you rest your head,
Place this pillow on your bed,
With your tooth tucked just inside
For the fairy’s nice surprise.  
This was more open to interpretation, and left it to to the Tooth Fairy’s discretion as to how much the tooth would fetch. My son tried to get the better of the fairy by hiding his tooth and was surprised to find a note from her tucked in the pocket of the cushion next morning wondering where her promised tooth was. He still has the cushion but for some reason I don’t have a picture of it. I still have both patterns too.

And here are a couple more of my fairy friends in cross-stitch.

If you believe in fairies it would be worth flying over to Sepia Saturday to see what contributors have made of the picture prompt below.

Over at my other blog you can meet some real sepia fairy folk.

Also linking to Lakota's Ta Dah Tuesday.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

The Elephant in the Room

In this weeks’ Sepia Saturday the photo prompt is a baby elephant. During my hunt for corresponding images on my other blog I started thinking about elephants as motifs in art and crafts. They appear in ancient coins, stamps, heraldry, sculptures, Roman mosaics, and the art of many cultures and religions; African, Indian, Islamic. In children’s alphabet books the letter ‘E’ was often represented by an elephant, and they appear in numerous children’s storybooks notably; The Jungle Book, Babar, Elmer.

 I have a cross-stitch picture of an Indian elephant with a howdah on its back, which I did many years ago, and is still one of my favourites. It came from a 1996 booklet called 'Celebrations in Cross Stitch’; a series which was published with a theme each month.  The other book is a 1943 edition of ‘Felt Toys’ by Mochrie and Roseaman.

I’ve never made the elephant from that book but I did make a miniature Noah’s ark from felt when my children were small in the 1970s. I must have used a pattern in an old pattern book;  I don’t have the pattern any longer but I do have the animals. Here are Mr and Mrs Elephant, looking a bit on the wobbly side these day.

Here’s the original prompt with the baby elephant in sepia.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

A Crafty Old Bag!

That’s me! A Crafty Old Bag! Nothing pleases me more than making something useful, decorative and aesthetically pleasing too, especially when the cost is minimal.

A kind friend was given this lovely piece of tapestry to sell at a charity sale, and, knowing my love of needlecraft, put it on one side and for a small donation it was mine. I was pleased for two reasons; one, the subject matter, a young woman sewing with her daughter leaning on her knee, which could have been me many moons ago; and two, someone else had done all the hard graft of stitching the canvas picture. It was in a sorry state in a dirty old frame and rather bashed about. I took it out of its scruffy frame and washed it carefully by hand in mild detergent, checking that the colours didn’t run, and when it was dry I pressed it on the reverse. I couldn’t get all the marks out left by the frame but that didn’t matter. It languished in tissue paper in a drawer, whist I thought what to do with it. I didn’t want to re-frame it as I already have so many pictures of my own cross-stitch work on the wall that I have to rotate them to give them all a showing.

Whilst sorting through the huge selection of shoppers and tote-bags hanging on the back of the store door I came across this strong canvas bag with a design printed on it - perfect! I covered the design with iron-on vilene and stitched the picture in place.

The result is a lovely new craft bag which will keep my current project clean whilst I tote it around the place. I love it, and when it hangs on the cupboard door in my sewing room it’s decorative too.

The tapestry is based on the Mary Cassatt painting, 'Young Mother Sewing’. Mary Stevenson Cassatt (1844-19260) was an American Impressionist painter and printmaker who often had ‘Mother and Child’ studies as her subjects. She never married, and had no children of her own, but spent time with her sister’s children. Many of her works depict the social and private lives of women and she was a strong supporter of women’s suffrage.

Linking up with Lakota’s Ta Dah! Tuesday

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Life Below Stairs

Following on from the last post ‘Viewing by Appointment’ which featured my 1:12 scale Dolls’ House, I’ve homed in on the kitchen in order to show a little more detail. Over at Sepia Saturday, there’s a photo prompt of Queen Victoria’s kitchen, with a magnificent kitchen range. I don’t think she personally actually did any food preparation there though. Unfortunately these photographs of my old dolls’ house were taken before the benefit of a digital camera and as I no longer have the Dolls’ House, I can’t reproduce them. I’m sorry they’re a little grainy, but I hope you enjoy looking at the Cook of the household and her rather cluttered kitchen. The kitchen range was made from a kit which I had to glue together and paint with modelling enamel. It was much easier to make it appear shiny, than real life ranges, which some poor kitchen maid would have spent her time blackleading.

The kitchen sink was a Belfast Sink on brick piers and I remember cost quite a bit at the time.

'Mrs Bridges’ was made from a porcelain doll kit. The head, arms and feet were ceramic and the body and clothes pattern pieces had to be sewn, stuffed, hemmed  or finished otherwise appropriately. The cat was there to catch the mice of course.

This was probably the room I most enjoyed putting together, because of all the tiny details. Some items I bought and others I made. I also made use of ‘found’ items, like the perfume sample phials which beacme storage jars. Living in Germany, close to the Dutch border, at the time, also meant I could take advantage of tiny items found in the shops there, such as the coffee grinder.

And just for fun. Here are some kitchens courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The first is from the Museum Boxenstop, Tübingen and shows quite a large doll’s kitchen, probably based on the Nürenberg Kitchens were designed as ‘teaching aid’.

Photograph by Markus Nägele.) CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)]
                                                    One from Strasbourg: The Musée Alsacien 
By Christina from Victoria, Canada (Musée Alsacien) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)],
           A 1928 Dolls’ House kitchen from the Österreichisches Museum für Volkskunde
By Photo: Andreas Praefcke (Own work) Public domain
                          And from the German National Toy Museum, Nürenberg
 I, Sailko CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)] 
Do go and visit this week’s Sepia Saturday to see what the prompt has generated in contributors’ kitchens across the world.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Viewing By Appointment

When the theme of ‘Small’ was mooted over at Sepia Saturday, I knew I’d have to feature my old dolls' house in a post. I’ve always been fascinated by the world of miniatures, and we were posted to Germany in 1982, my husband made this 1:12 scale dolls' house for me as a joint project. We would later visit dolls house fairs in UK when I was really in the grip of this hobby. I made many of the tiny objects and pieces of furniture, including the dolls (the kits had the heads and limbs and the rest was my own work. Jean Greenhowe’s book., “Making a Victorian Dollshouse” gave me lots of ideas. I wish I’d kept the book, especially when I see the price it demands on ebay.

I also made a miniature shop, which now reminds me of the ones I featured in ‘Open All Hours’ in my other blog.

The dolls' house didn’t move with us to Lanzarote, but I did keep the dolls and most of the small items and these are being looked after by my son until the grandchildren can appreciate them. My daughter had a Lundby dolls' house as a child, but I think that was passed on to someone else, just like my lovely bungalow, (handmade by my parents’ friend) which I spent hours playing with.

Ten years ago I found a rather battered dolls house at a huge car boot sale and bought it for £20 for my great niece. I renovated it with wallpaper, roof paper, etc. and fitted it with carpets. These photos show the fun the family had with it that Christmas.  Our niece and my sister-in-law were itching to get in on the act. On my other blog, you can see some more miniature worlds, in U.K. and Lanzarote.

See what other Sepia Saturday participants have come up with after seeing the prompt below.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Not Cut Out For This

The lovely photo prompt for this week’s Sepia Saturday challenge was a vintage photograph of Maypole dancers. This reminded me that I had an old ‘papercut’ picture, hanging on the bedroom wall, of children dancing round a tree. The picture has always reminded me of a cross between ring-a-ring-a-roses and Maypole dancing. I am sentimentally attached to my picture because it was a gift to me, about 47 years ago, from my Austrian friend Viktoria. I was an exchange student (aged 13) and I was staying with her family in a village (now a town), not far from Vienna, called Wolkersdorf. The picture hung on the wall in her bedroom, and I admired it so much that she generously handed it to me there and then. It has been everywhere with me since then and has even been re-framed (a delicate operation as the papercut was not glued down as you might think, and was like a piece of lace). I have tried to find out about its history, as I think it must have been pretty old already, but drawn a blank. I would particularly like to know the translation of the German word in the bottom left hand corner, if anyone can help. Papercutting is an an ancient craft and examples are found all over the world. It is thought to have originated in China in the 1st century. There are thousands of fine examples on the internet, both images and videos, and just initiating a google search will take you into a silhouette art gallery.

I have tried the craft myself, but with variable results. I bought this book as inspiration. I found a similar design on page 31, of children acting out the ‘Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush’ nursery rhyme. It still looked too tricky for me. The book has lots of tips and templates and I did manage to produce a decent image of an artist for my Dad’s 90th birthday card, using this image in the book.

It took me ages and I’m afraid I didn’t have the patience it needs. I think making paper dollies for my grandchildren is about my level and that I’m just not 'cut out' for this particular craft.

Why not not see what other contributors found to show us following the prompt below, by following the link to this week’s Sepia Saturday?

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Celebration Dress

Should have worn my shades!
With a big birthday coming up, followed by my husband’s three weeks later, I thought there may be  reason to wear a new dress. I’ve always liked the faux-wrap style and have two M&S tops from a couple of years ago, which I am loathe to part with, simply because they are so comfortable and flattering. So, when I saw this pattern, Simplicity K2369 I liked the idea of a dress which matched the same criteria. Living in Lanzarote, a trip to the capital, Arrecife is necessary to find a decent fabric shop, and even then you can’t be sure you’ll get the fabric you want. On trips back to UK I usually add to my stash to ensure that I can always pull something out when the mood strikes me. This time I had the pattern in my hand when I saw this fabric with ‘sale’ on the label in the Nottingham branch of John Lewis. I love the animal print effect and was pleased with my purchase. The dress cost about £18 to make,the biggest expense being the buckle. I was pressed for time and didn’t have time to search further. What a pity John Lewis didn’t have those on sale! I am now wise to this and on the lookout for a cheap source, as well as alerting friends and family. Oh yes and I’m not averse to buying a second-hand garment just for the buttons or buckles!

Well, needless to say I was pretty pleased with the result. This pattern is popular and has been well-reviewed by others bloggers, so I won’t go into great detail, except to say that it was so easy to make, and I love not having to fit a zip. I made sure I cut out the pieces carefully, attached the correct needle for stretch fabrics to my machine and used the recommended stitch.

I’ve got some lovely plain lime green fabric to make the tunic top next.I was going to make it with the bow, but I’m not sure; it looks rather bulky. Watch this space, but this is a pattern to which I’ll definitely return.

There’s another element to this story, because the pattern was originally given away with SEW magazine. I’d been a subscriber since issue 1 and lapsed for a few months when we moved here, re-subscribing and ordering back copies, a few months ago. Some issues were sold out so I turned to ebay, where again this issue was in short supply; when I finally bagged one, the seller sent it with the wrong pattern, but she let me keep the magazine at no cost, and finally a very kind seller sold me the pattern separately, along with the final few magazines to complete the set. Yes, I could have bought the pattern at full price, but half the fun was the search and winning the auction. So thanks to Jane at madaboutbooks8!

An update is needed as I was excited to see see that ‘The Great British Sewing Bee' on BBC TV was setting the challenge of sewing with stretch fabrics this week (5th March 2014) and that the remaining male competitor had chosen this very pattern as his piece to demonstrate his sewing skills. He made a lovely job of it and stayed in the running - until next week at least. As I wrote earlier, it’s a very popular pattern and there are many examples on the web. I still haven’t made my top as I have been busy with other projects, but I may just have ago now after seeing the pattern again.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

A Tale of Two Mice

When the 2011 'Prima Christmas Makes' showed these adorable mice, I decided to make them for my grandchildren. I hadn’t a hope of getting them finished for Christmas, but as their birthdays were in February, and we’d be visiting then, I set that as my target date. They looked simple to make; after all they were taken from a book called ‘Christmas Crafting in No Time’ by Clare Youngs (Cico £14.99). As my version of the Prima magazine was the digital one, I had difficulty working out the pattern size; there were no actual measurements on the templates. The instructions said ‘“using the template overleaf (enlarging if necessary) cut two body parts........” !  Hmm, 'enlarging if necessary’ was not very helpful. I didn’t have a photocopier, so printing the pages and photocopying wasn’t an option. Instead I used the ‘magnify’ facility on my Zinio Reader on the computer, and traced from the screen, hoping I’d got it right.

There was more work involved in making these charming creatures than I expected but, once the sewing was done, I could happily stuff and embroider whilst watching TV. As the deadline drew near, all I had left to do was the  tails. I didn’t fancy stuffing a long thin piece of linen, so for now, they are tail-less! I can attach tails at a later date. I fancy doing a bit of French Knitting, so perhaps that’s the answer. To personalise the mice, I blanket-stitched around the children’s initials on the dress and shirt.

They went in my hand-luggage to England; after all that effort I wasn’t going to lose them! Knickers and toiletries could be replaced, but not individually made items like these. When I give the twins something I’ve made for them, I always say, “No other little boy or girl in the world has one exactly this.” I am fortunate in that my Mum still knits, at 91, but as a child I was the recipient of hand-made garments and toys lovingly made by her, as were my own children. I think it’s important that we treasure any gift made with us in mind. I’ll be picking up this theme in a later post, but for now, enjoy the happy faces of my grandchildren when they received their birthday mice.