Minute Monday – A Fun Kindle Case

My father in law kindly looked after our dog at short notice so we could have an impromptu holiday… that deserves a wee present, right?

He had actually asked me to make him a Kindle case – apparently he felt his leather bound book-style case was too bulky, and he preferred to read the kindle as it was. Just exactly what I felt before making my own (and then several since as is always the way!). He also liked the idea that my cases are waterproof in case of spillages – coffee, waterbottles, water splashed on the poolside in that fantasy bahama life we all wish we led. Water proofing felt important to me too – we must be a clumsy family, though clearly not through genetics..

I adore this fabric. My father-in-law has a definite sense of fun and I thought this fabric managed to stay on the right side of fun without being too childish, and masculine without being too sombre. I could have chosen Harris Tweed, or a black or grey damask – or all manner of lovely masculine fabrics, but somehow they are just not quite HIM. Yes, sure, for luggage or something, but he’s definitely a slightly quirky accessoriser.

The fabric is called Rocket Ads in navy colourway (it also comes in navy and red) and is by October Afternoon for Riley Blake fabrics. It’s so deliciously retro.

The case looks bigger than the kindle itself – it is bigger, but because I use a felted wool as lining fabric (like coat fabric) which is pretty thick, it’s a nice cosy fit in there. It is padded too for extra scratch-resistance and has a waterproof interlining so needs to be a bit bigger on the outside. It’s still actually a slender handsized thing, because the kindle is actually quite wee.

But my own case is actually smaller, slimmer, neater, a little more made-to-measure – I used interfaced soft dress fabric as the lining and it’s just fine. I’m thinking I might return to that… I see some experiementing in my future.

Meanwhile, more importantly my father in law loved it – he says he’s been reading all the wee adverts all over it. Er… I think he’s supposed to be reading the kindle…? One challenge done. Except now he’s asked me to make a Kobo case for his girlfriend “my choice of fabric” as a surprise for her. Yikes. Ok. Um, but what’s a Kobo again…? Might be in trouble with this one!

Till the next time, hope your craftilicious projects are all going well,

Poppy xx

Pirate Ship Wallhanging Den… ooooh-arrrgh me hearties

Well, between the hexagons and the cold winter nights which make me less inclined to sit with a sewing machine and more to stay snuggled handsewing and watching TV with the Hubster, I’ve felt I haven’t much to say, hence the 2 week gap between confessions.

But then my sweet, craftilicious-supermum-and-all-round-gorgeous friend stopped by with her 4 year old, and I put up THE PIRATE SHIP. She was smitten. Instantly. I knew the kids would be, as they always are, but Alison was completely in love too. She desperately wants to make one herself for her children but felt she needed some pointers. So I thought I might detail the process here, although I didn’t take photos at the time, so you might have to make do with some sketches! It’s very simple though, and all raw edge applique, so not difficult!

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I made this for Kiddo’s 4th birthday party with a pirate theme – it hangs over the bannister, making a pirate den out of the space under the stairs. All children love it – especially becasue of the portholes which they can look out of – or use magnetic fishing rods to go fishing out of.

Behind it I put a wee soft cushion area, and drew some porthole pictures which I stuck onto the wall with bluetack.

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Ours is obviously for under the stairs, so is pretty huge, dropping down the flight of stairs, but this could easily be smaller and hung to divide up a child’s room, a corner of a room, or as Alison is hoping to do – for some bunk beds.

I can’t really give full instructions or a pattern just because everyone’s size will be different, but the shapes are really simple, so here’s how I did it. I also made a load of red and blue bunting from my fabric, so you might have leftovers too.

Materials (all fabric from IKEA, it’s all extra wide, about 150cm wide):

  • 2.5 metres bomull fabric in natural from IKEA (£1.50 per metre) for background
  • 1.5 metres red ditte fabric £3 per metre
  • 1 metre blue ditte £3 per metre
  • 1 metre black ditte fabric £3 per metre
  • thread, scissors, fabric pencil/chalk or similar
  • safety pins (or normal pins if you don’t think  you’ll lose them on such a big item!)
  • clear vinyl if you have it (I didn’t but might add this in for the portholes)
  • sewing machine – using a zigzag stitch
  1. I guess the most obvious thing is to measure your space and decide how big it should be. Then cut the background fabric as large as you want it to be. Lay it out on the floor like a big sheet of paper. From now on, it’s like making a big picture on that “paper”
  2. Next cut the top of your blue fabric into waves or a choppy sea. you could leave it flat so it looks like a horizon, which would still look good.
  3. Lie it on the bottom of your background and smooth out the wrinkles.
  4. Next draw out the ship’s base. (is it a hull? I should have more seafaring knowledge!). My ship was about 24” tall and 50” wide, but your might be smaller. The shape is simple; here’s a drawing: image
  5. lie it onto your sea. Now cut 2 long strips of black fabric, maybe a couple of inches wide. Use them as masts for the sails, on your picture, with the ship’s hull covering the ends. image
  6. It will already be starting to look like a cool picture! Ok. Now for the sails. I cut big rectangles, roughly the size I wanted the sails, one big, one medium and 2 smaller. I actually freehand cut everything without drawing it and it was all fine, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it being perfect. But the top and bottom lines of the sails should be parallel, and the curve should match on both sides as much as possible. Here are drawings, alongside drawing of the pirate flag elements. I didn’t want the skull and crossbones to look too scary!image
  7. Now lie all your bits onto your picture and voila! It should look like a pirate ship. I actually did the portholes after I’d sewn the rest on. image

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  8. Once you’re happy with it, pin everything onto the fabric with safety pins. Take it to the sewing machine and use a zigzag stitch all the way round every line of your picture to secure it. It looks better if you use the same colour thread as the applique fabric, like blue for the sea, red for the sails etc. I know it will fray a bit over time. I know it’s not perfect or obviously not a commerical shop-bought product, but it still looks cool, and is durable enough for many many playtimes! Noone has noticed on ours because of the size of it. Sure, if you can be bothered to turn under the edges and applique it properly, go ahead, it will look wonderful!image
  9. Once it’s all sewn up, draw 3 circles for portholes using the red fabric. Mine were about 9” diameter, I didn’t even bother to draw round a plate – but it would have been neater if I had. It’s still fine! It’s all very forgiving. Pin onto the hull of your ship and zigzag all the way round. Next draw an inner circle in the middle of each and cut this out , through all the layers of your picture. Zigzag round the raw edges to secure, you should probably do this a couple of times for each, or use a close zigzag. My inner circles are 5-6” diameter. You can sew some clear vinyl or lace onto the back of the portholes, and probably should if you have very young children whom you are worried might stick their wee heads in and get stuck, or worse, dangle. *shudders*.image
  10. Then I took my hanging up the stairs and asked the Hubster to hold it where I wanted it to go. I did 3 marks where I thought ties should go, then very firmly sewed long tapes (actually I made them with 3 inch strips, iron in half lengthways, open, iron the lengthways edges to meet in the middle and sew up the side to make a strong tape). Our bannister is made of slats so I wrap my tapes round the slats and tie firmly, but I guess would have had to put some nails in otherwise, or found another way to hold it in place. It takes a few minutes to put up and take down, so I just get it out for playdates. Which is pretty frequent these days!  At least it’s getting plenty of use 🙂

    And get ready for some swashbuckling!

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Not into pirates? How about a house with windows and a door? Or a castle? Or a wee simple car, hold on, like this one (I’m getting my pencils out!)imageimage

Or if I had boys’ bunk beds to decorate like my friend Alison, I would be very tempted to hang the hanging in front of the beds, to make a den for each boy. I would definitely use clear vinyl for the windows, I wouldn’t be able to sleep thinking of the accidents that could happen otherwise, but then I am paranoid. I think I would do a scene, like an aeroplane or spaceship for the top bunk and car for the bottom. Actually what I’d do is a spce scene, with 2 rockets, some stars and planets, and space themed bedding – and glow in the dark planets and stars all over their rooms! Those boys would have such adventures, they’d never go to sleep!

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Well, me hearties, I know it’s not “posh sewing”, but it is a fun sewing project, and I hope you’ve had fun thinking about what you might do… or not – not everyone wants a big pirate ship in their house. Although my 4 year old wouldn’t believe you 😉

Till the next time, have fun – and I’d love to see any wallhanging dens you make!

Poppy

xx

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

Boy Crazy! (not me, well not for about 20 years…)

Hellooooooo! And happy new year! What a marvellous time of year this is, full of good intentions and a (perceived) clean slate. I get so joyous I accidentely celebrate by making huge steamed puddings and scoffing with my boys with lashings of custard. Before remembering my good intentions. Oh well; it went down a treat and the littlest one loved it, despite being usually a chocolate fiend. I used Delia Smith’s treacle pudding for a change from chocolate or marble which I’ve done before:

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I should point out that this one was NOT mine, which collapsed a bit when I upturned it (I made it with more fragile gluten free flour) but which tasted delicious nonetheless. The recipe is here by the way:

http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/type-of-dish/sweet/steamed-treacle-sponge-pudding.html

Other than that I shouldn’t have much to report on this sewing blog, given that the sewing has not really restarted in earnest (yet). However I have loved catching up on all the Christmas iplayer goodies – I mean, Sherlock is back! Sherlock! – on the sofa next to the Hubster whilst sewing up my hexagons. Oh yes, the hexagons. That project is still underway and is happily keeping my fingers working and my head out of mischief. I have posted a few pictures on Flickr, but will update in the next post.

Meanwhile here is a sweet baby quilt I made for my gorgeous brand  new nephew for Christmas! It’s made from a fun range called Boy Crazy by Dani Mogstad for Riley Blake designs. 

Here it is basted (see the pins?) and on the sewing machine:

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Aren’t the colours and designs great? I wanted something bright for him which could last him more than a year or two. This has blue, orange, white, brown, red, yellow stars, zigzags, circles, diamonds, rockets, cars, words – phew! What’s not to love?

Here is my hand guiding the stippling quilting. Stippling is my favoured quilting pattern – it’s classic and inoffensive, and I love the way it helps to breaks up all the straight lines of the traditional square patchwork which I love so much, and meld all the layers together into one beautiful piece. Maybe if quilts were more common in this country I would tire of stippling; and I AM going to try some loop-de-loop quilting this year – oooh get me, taking risks and all – but at the moment I am happy with the humble stipple! For those not in the know, stippling is like wiggly lines all over the quilt – like bends in a river, some of which follow each other and some of which don’t. You’re not supposed to cross the streams, like in Ghostbusters – but sometimes that happens on my quilt and no giant marshmallow man blows up in my face, so it can’t be that much of a crime.

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and then ta-da! It’s finished! (thanks Grandpa for being the quilt holder!)

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Of course the problem with quilting in Scotland is the weather – I couldn’t wait for a day with more light to photograph this in, partly because that might have taken 3 months, and partly because Grandpa was taking it over to my brother-in-law’s that day in preparation for their Christmas, so whether or not this photo does the bright colours justice, here it is!

But let me assure you, this range is supercute, bright, cheery and perfect for any little boy, and probably up to the age of about 10-14 depending on the boy. See the stippling?

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I used a 10” stacker of Riley Blake’s Boy Crazy, cut it into 5” squares, sewed together and put a white 3” border round. I used the same yummy stripy binding that I used on the elephant quilt a couple of posts back, from Space by Makower, which I love on this quilt. This is one of my favourite ways to make a rich, very scrappy kid-quilt; the eveness of the squares help the eye cope with the mix of colours and patterns, the white border not only helps to tone down all the colours, but gives some space for a name, which I’ve done here – “Rufus” is my sweet nephew’s rather cool name. I used Quilter’s Dream Orient batting to provide more warmth than cotton but still be machine washable and dryable.

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It finished up about 43” x 52”, which I think is the perfect child quilt – you can see by Grandpa who is 5’11” and not rake-thin by any means that it will last for a child for a good many years as a lap quilt, extra layer, something to throw down on the grass or beach to lie about on – and of course as a lovely playmat full of interesting things to look at when he’s discovering his fingers and toes!

You can tell, I’m quite into this collection and quilt – not as much as I’m besotted by my nephew though! And the family have literally just moved to BERMUDA (2 days ago), so I’m gutted i won’t see him change over the next few months until we see them again. However, the upside is they can send me a good picture of his quilt in the sun 😉 Preferably with him and his big (but still very little and totally adorable) sister on it!

Better go before I get teary! Wishing you all the most productive, happy, healthy 2014 – and one full of colour and creativity!

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

Christmas Stockings and Christmas cheer

Eeeeek! It’s nearly Christmas! So excited about this Christmas  – we are not hosting it this year, so will be able to hang out with our family without organising the food or preparations, and play with my brother’s new puppy, yay! Anyway, given that a sewing blog should have more sewing and less puppy in it, I’ll move on  –  to Christmas stockings! Hurrah for Christmas stockings! Apparently in Germany, they used to leave out shoes and Santa would put sweets in them. I might have nicked my dad’s shoes when I was little…

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You might have seen the one I made for a wee baby boy called Matthew a couple of posts ago. Well, this one is for his mum. They are commissioned by a neighbour of mine, and I think she liked the idea of one which matched Matthew’s, even though I offered her the choice of some more grown up ones. Obviously you know your own family, so she felt Chloe would like this, although at the time it was only part-finished (and nameless!). It was nice to finish it, as I think it did end up quite nice, and looks like a pair with her son’s.

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I made Chloe’s stocking with a white cotton exterior, a red cotton lining and the cuff and heel with a flannel christmas tree fabric from … I can’t remember! I’ll have a think an insert here, but it could be by My Mind’s Eye for Riley Blake.

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I rather liked this little penguin on Matthew’s stocking (I designed him 3 years ago for my son’s little friends’ stockings – on my flickr stream if you are particularly interested, although I think I’ve got more polished over the last years), so decided to give him a wee friend:

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Again, I had fun just freehand cutting felt, keeping the shapes simple is the key to this! And particularly enjoyed the hand stitching. I used no. 8 perle cottons again, and the are lovely to work with, and add texture and a shimmer, which I don’t remember getting with the little embroidery I have done in the past using embroidery floss. Running stitches and backstitches – not difficult! But I think they look nice anyway.

And finally Chloe’s name in pink:

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And then the other daughter in law! My neighbour got 2 daughters in law and a baby grandson in the space of a year – lucky lady! And such a lovely family. The brief for Carolyn was “pastel”. I read “more grown up”. Unfortunately I can’t get good pictures of this, so you’ll have to trust me when I say it looks better in the reality (again!)… That’s one thing about Christmas crafting in Scotland – difficult to get any light to photograph in!

Well I most definitely did not freehand cut the felt for the stag! I found a nice silhouette of a deer on the internet, sized it up, printed it out, traced it onto freezer paper, ironed it onto the felt and cut round it. Once I sewed it onto the stocking I could then “draw” with my needle and perle cotton thread and a running stitch. It was very therapeutic.

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The little pink hearts were sweet and fun to add a little touch of colour. The whole thing was lovely to make – I think the white makes it feel wintry and snowy, not to mention Scottish, without being too “in your face” Christmas holly and all. After all it is a christmas stocking, you could applique a beach and it would look Christmassy. Well in Australia anyway.

I’ve only swithered about whether I should have done the lettering in pink felt – part of me is still unsure, although I like it better in my hands than on pictures. I think pink might have messed with the magic of the pink hearts on a frosty day, and the white gives the impression of having been made of snow. I’m saying that, but in reality whatever my subconcsious feels is being firmly slapped down by my conscious which says I don’t want to unpick and re-do it!

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well that’s a lot of words about stockings (and as ever pictures!), so I’ll take my leave of you and maybe even get in an episode of “Firefly” which we got on boxset last Christmas and are only just getting round to watching now! It’s those cold winter nights, make us couch potatoes 😉

Poppy

xx

It’s Sew Christmas!

I can never decide if being too busy sewing to blog is a good or bad thing. I’ve most certainly been too busy sewing to Flickr. Sewing… Ok, and holidays in Mallorca (wonderful), Shingles (not wonderful), only son turning 4 (pretty darn cool) and a piratey 4th Birthday party (too wonderful and joyous for words). And sewing and sewing and sewing…

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This is a first Christmas stocking for a sweet little baby boy called Matthew, who is the grandchild of a lovely neighbour of mine. It’s her first grandchild and she’s quite rightly smitten; and asked for a Christmas stocking after seeing my flickr stream. I really enjoy the embellishing of a Christmas stocking, once I get over the hump of “it’ll take ages” – and it never does take as long as you’d think! Mostly because it’s mainly handsewing, which is a lovely relaxing thing to do, and I do it in front of the TV or whilst listening to an audiobook (I’ve discovered the joys of Audible!)

The exterior and lining fabrics are 100% cotton, and it’s interlined with “Warm & Natural” cotton batting, which gives it some nice structure without being stiff. I drafted my own template mainly because I like quite a big stocking – nothing worse than those skinny little things. Actually, his parents might not thank me for that; there is equally nothing worse than a half-filled stocking 😉

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I freehand cut felt into shapes after a quick back-of-an-envelope sketch of a design on paper first. I would find these things much harder to do if I had to use a lot of templates and be too fussy about it all. I’m much more of a go with the flow kind of girl. Keeping shapes simple is the key for me! And felt is very forgiving. I have done a stocking using a picture from Tilda’s “Crafting Christmas Gifts” and fabric – using wonderunder and then handsewing all the layers down. To be honest although I loved the results, I didn’t really enjoy the process – too restrained – using someone else’s ideas, and too much faffing around with an iron. It is lovely though!

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Anyway, stocking sewn, felt cut, I settled down in front of cosy crime on the iplayer and sewed them on with a whipstitch. I should probably use blanket stitch for stength, but a whipstitch seems to do the job from past projects and is quicker and more fun for me. I did blanket stitch the lettering, as that would be harder to repair in the future if needed.

My absolutely favourite bit was getting out the perle 8 cotton and doing some simple running stitch embroidery. I was deeply inspired by an amazingly creative and lovely girl I met who runs “Avery Homestore” in Edinburgh, and has the most inspiring blog (http://www.mybearpaw.com) who likes to hand quilt with perle 8s, and inspired me to buy some, a long time ago – finally I decided to give them a go, and I’m glad I did! I loved working with them – they give texture and an almost shimmery look to the stocking, which I hadn’t expected, and were surprisingly easy to work with.

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So there you have it, one Christmas stocking for Matthew. I really love it and one day will work out how to make photos look as nice as the real thing – the only thing I don’t like about it is that the name “Matthew” is firmly stitched on there and not the name of my own boy. I think he might notice if I suddenly called him something else too 😉

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Well, more sewing to be done, including more Christmas stockings – expect many more blog posts in the future!

Hope you are all enjoying a lovely bright Autumn, and getting excited about Christmas too! I dread the end of summer every year, and yet the colours of Autumn and magic of Christmas is always so inspiring and exciting every year. Now January may see me turning to drink…!

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

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