A quick gift for a little girl

Just a quick post today – if I’m capable of quickness – extolling the merits of learning how to make zippered pouches as part of one’s sewing repertoire.

But first, another culinary slipup which has again blown any resolutions into smithereens. But chocolate ones, which are the best kind of smithereens of course. This time Mary Berry, although I wish I had had some raspberries to include in the filling. If you make this, I’d vote don’t go any darker than 40% chocolate; alternatively consider reducing/ omitting the extra cocoa because it’s pretty rich…

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http://www.maryberry.co.uk/recipes/great-british-bake-off-recipes/the-ultimate-chocolate-roulade

So on with the sewing. My son’s nursery friend turned 4 and had her birthday party this weekend.  I loved her party. No fancy theme, no bought-in entertainer; a local village hall hired for a few pounds, lots of balloons, bouncy castle borrowed from a neighbour, tea and coffee, party food for the kids…  and a load of small children, running, bouncing, giggling, exploring, playing with each other and balloons. Perfect. It just goes to show how little they need at this age. In these days of “formal entertainment” parties which kids can find a bit freaky, it was SO refreshing to have a back-to-basics “Jelly and ice cream” party!

Anyway I digress, and have instantly failed at my first sentence aim 😉

 I decided to make the her a pencilcase. You’d think pencilcases are quite boring – I guess they can be, but there’s no reason at this age to fill it with pencils. I filled it with a few small pencils, a “snow white” rubber, 4 chocolate coins, some stickers and wee toy.

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Now this is one tomboy of a girl. But a girl nonetheless. I gave Kiddo the choice of 2 great fabrics for her:

Jungle Elephants by Makower

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or Kokeshi girls from Alexander Henry fabrics – sadly out of print, but still finadble if you look hard enough. I have it in black (pictured but too sombre for a kid surely,) pink (too girly for her) or green – and this one apparently won. Perhaps Kiddo already thinks dolls are for girls at this tender age, but it apparently was a hit, so phew.

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There are lots of tutorials on zippered pouch making online, if you fancied a go yourself, and they are not as difficult as you might imagine. My pencilcases are made with 2 each of exterior and lining fabric pieces (and optional) batting) measuring 9.5 x 5.5” and 1/2” seam allowances except for the zipper insertion, and this seems to be a nice size.

Whatever you’re doing/sewing/painting/reading/watching/playing/working on, enjoy your January and see you soon,

Poppy xx

Paint by Numbers… and more random sewing

Well, this is an utterly misleading title. It actually refers to this beautiful print by Erin Michael called Paint by Numbers sky from her Lush Uptown fabric collection for Moda.

I think it’s stunning – modern, funky, just the right blue with a hint of green, fresh colours and a fun twist. This is a large size cosmetics/ washbag, and has been snapped up already by a neighbour of mine! i can’t say I blame her. I made a flat zippered pouch as a “set” , for maybe keeping lippy, mobile phone, keys etc orgnaised in your handbag – and then snaffled it myself to hold my hexagons sewing (oh yeah… this 1” hexie quilt will keep me going for a while. I think I’ll need a bigger pouch). I’m actually thinking of making a bag with this print.

Speaking of neighbours and friends having cleaned out all my stock – oh we weren’t? Well they have, bless them, very complimentary they were too, which is always an ego boost. I had made more toiletry/washbags; it’s rather amazing that they are so popular.

I say amazing, but I too find all sorts of uses for a pretty zippered pouch, so I shouldn’t be surprised, and it’s nicer than a tupperware box holding your stuff.

The Alexander Henry Spotted Owls in Smoke is a particular favourite fabric of mine. The owls are so grumpy! And yet so beautiful at the same time. It’s a really special print. I have made 5 of these so far, and each time they are snapped up (or I’ve gifted and they’ve been very well received).

As for the Harris tweeed which entered my life along with, inexplicably, a wee crush on Aragorn, I have made more toilletry bags (very similar to on previous post) as a couple of commissions from neighbours. And a lovely tea cosy. 

Tea cosy… well I see it’s inherent beauty, but I’m a bit meh.

But a cafetiere cosy… well. much more suited to modern times – and I rather like this classic fabric being used for such a modern phenomenon. Well, modern in Britain anyway. When I was little (not THAT long ago!), it was quite acceptable for folk to only have Nescafe instant in their house, and be oblivious there might be another way. I know… and within spitting distance of our French, Spanish and Italian cousins too. Shameful.

It took my husband a minute to work out why the cafetiere cosy was so tall; it fits a standard 8 cup cafetiere just perfectly – with the plunger UP to let the coffee brew. And now my husband is an official FAN. He is quite into his coffee…As for me – what I really need is a mug cosy to keep my cups of tea warm enough to let me finish one… I’m too distractable to sit in the same place for the length of time it takes a cuppa to go cold!

In fact I had enough stock for a little pop up shop over a cup of tea with my neighbour and some friends. It has been quite fun! And allowed me to replenish some fabrics. I really am a loon. I have no idea why I feel the need to sew quite so much!

And judging from my fellow sewing bloggers, I’m not the only one!

Seriously? Why would I sew up so many zippered coin purses? I really must start listing them for sale!

Well, I have commission stockings still to make and a quilt, so I should go. And that’s before christmas presents, which may or may nont be handmade this year, it’s a close run thing. But I did just get this rare print panel for my 4 year old son who adores maps and knowing where things are – he’s so his father’s son! (I am only getting better to answer all his questions.)  I’m going to make it into a wall hanging for his room. It is a rather fabulous print! It’s the world map panel from “what a world” by Jill Macdonald for P+B textiles, measuring 44” x 24”. I’m quite thrilled to have tracked it down!

Till the next time,

poppy xxx

bags, bags, bags of bags!

I had a bit of a bag hiatus for quite a while whilst the quilting bug took over my life, but recently became inspired again. Lisa Lam of U-Handbag being the inspiration with her lovely pattern for the “Big and Beautiful Betty” shoulderbag. Well, I saw. I coveted. I coveted some more. I decided I didn’t need any more handbags. I slept dreaming of it. I awoke coveting.

So I ordered some supplies and my 3 year old and I thumbed through all my fabric until we chose a lovely floral red from Ruby by Bonnie and Camille for Moda. I could have guessed it would have been – I wanted florals and a slightly retro feel, kiddo will always choose red, as reed is his favourite colour. Because Lightning McQueen is red. And Lightning McQueen is his best friend. There is a lot of red entering our lives these days.

Anyway, the pattern was great, straightforward. The metal frame is sturdy and feels like a quality item, and it arrived beautifully shiny and new, in fact all the supplies were great – what a wonderful shop U-Handbag is! And this is what I ended up with. I fell in love a little bit.

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The bag is good and strong and holds all the everyday things I need, including kiddo’s water cup and wipes, even a little umbrella – and yet is lightweight with a comfy strap which stays on my shoulder. In fact I loved it so much, I started dreaming of making another one… this time in Melody Miller’s “Love Typewriters” in teal. Well, once you think the thought, it would be a crime against the Gods of Creative Loveliness to ignore it, so I made myself another one, which I love equally, or even a little bit more…

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A small interior pocket with magnetic snap closure is perfect for purse, mobile and and lip balm. I chose a beautiful print for my interior fabric by Blend – Songbird in white from the Vintage Summer collection. I adore it, though I have a weakness for birds of course. I have some fat eigths of this beautiful collection, ready for quilting, i can’t wait!

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And then my neighbour saw it and asked for one for her daughter, following which her friend did the same, so I made 4 bags in quick succession. I have no idea how handmade businesses continue to make the same item over and over, because even with a straightforward pattern which I didn’t have to draft myself, and lovely fabrics, I was bored bored bored by number 4 – although I did love the final bag too:

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The fabric is Alexander Henry’s La Strada in Black and White, with a print from the Curio collection by Basic Grey for the lining to provide contrast. Both of the bags as gifts were very well received apparently, which says a lot for the mothers who chose their daughters’ fabrics from my stash, happiness all round 🙂

But I think I’ll take a break from sewing any more Big and Beautiful Betties for a while, and just enjoy using mine!

You can get the pattern here:

http://u-handbag.typepad.com/uhandblog/2010/05/free-bag-purse-pattern-big-n-beautiful-betty.html

So. Many. Bags. And now I want a new holiday bag, for days out and all the stuff you need in the summer, suncream, water, snacks, childstuff – eeek. It’s not really need, but I want. And I want it in this (freebird by Momo, garden in geranium, I’m such a freebird geek, you can spot it in my flickr stream quilts)

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And with no help from my boy. I think Lightning McQueen is influencing my colour choices too 😉

Till next time,

Poppy x

ps you can email me at poppy@cuckooblue.co.uk

or visit my flickrstream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cuckoo-blue/