Tug boat cushion for a little boy

My craft fair went amazingly well, I’m so thrilled! In fairness, the tiny school PTA had asked a variety of wonderful craftspeople to come, and had used social media brilliantly to advertise and people came with money and expecting to buy stuff, which was great, none of that “expecting something for nothing”, not that my products are expensive as I’m only trying to fund my crazy sewing habit. Almost everything sold, the cushions and liberty pouches proving very popular. I had another commission though which I’ve just finished:

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Angus’ mother lives in Australia but her mother lives locally, so after seeing the caravan cushions (in the last post) on facebook, she got her mother to come and buy three for her daughters! But then begged for one for her son, so here it is.

This photograph on google was the inspiration for this little boat (http://www.berkeley-engineering.com/CanduE-Z.html) :

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The stars fabrics are local shop basics, but designer ones are: Boat cabin is polka dots in Navy by Makower, boat stripe fabric is from Pirate Matey by Riley Blake, Flag is from Space from Makower, First full flag is from Going Coastal by Emily Herrick and the third one is also from Pirate Matey from Riley Blake.

I really hope she likes it. I wonder if I should have made the little tug a tiny bit smaller – if I make it again I think I will do that.

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Raw-edge applique is a fun and quite easy technique, where the black thread looks like a child’s drawing and adds a whimsical air. If anything I struggle not to be too neat! I probably should have been less neat here. I think if you do free-motion quilting it’s pretty straightforward. Even writing with the machine was fine – I’m not saying it’s perfect but it’s fine enough I think. One thing I found was that unlike with free-motion quilting, I had more control doing this WITHOUT dropping my feed dogs. Just in case anyone else struggles a bit with their line sometimes and that rattatat-tat of the needle going so fast and all over the place!

These were the other caravan cushions she chose (the three on the right):

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It has been reallly fun to make pictures with fabric – not something I do much of. I might need to do a bit more experimenting!

Well, a few more things to sew up – it’s always so difficult to say no!) and then a well needed rest for me I think!

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

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Bitten by the tatting bug…

Tatting. Is it just me, or does the name not sound AT ALL like the thing it describes? Things should really. Like wobbly jelly. Sounds like it is. And belly. Well, as a mum I now know why that sounds like wobbly jelly. But tatting?

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This is tatting. Not some sort of shabby gossipping (tatty/chatting – see where I went there?) – or tapping your feet absent mindedly on a hard surface. It’s a form of lace. This is the above motif on my hand:

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Yes, as if I didn’t have enough craft and needlework inspiration going on in my head, I dusted off an old craft I learned when I was 12. Tatting is a really really old art, lace made from knotted thread and actually pretty robust because of all the knots. It’s normally made with a shuttle, but I never got the hang of it. I learned needle tatting because it’s MUCH easier. It’s probably not as neat or perfect, but really? Perfect lace? Am I that OCD?

I learned it from this book, although didn’t get that good at it then, it required more patience and time than my 12 year old self was (quite rightly) willing to put in.

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Sadly I have lent out or misplaced this book. Those teardrop shaped things on the front are shuttles, made of everything from plastic to bone. I have always used a darning needle – the needle should be as long as possible, and thin without much of an eye; about the same width as your thread, or not much bigger. I never found the perfect needle for my occasional craft. Until a few weeks ago when I half-interestedly googled “tatting needle” – and it seems in the last 28 years (28!! how can that be?) a couple of shops selling tatting equipment have opened. I got myself a bone-fide tatting needle from here: http://www.roseground.com/ , and some beautiful threads made for crochet and tatting made by “Lizbeth” and started:

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The above is going to have an edge all the way round to make a… doily. I have never had a doily in my life. but seems I am going to change that very soon.

The above 2 patterns came from this book which I treated myself to along with the tatting needle:

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It’s a really beautiful book – BUT the “how to tat” is written for shuttle tatters only. If you can needle tat already, then it has some really lovely patterns. I never learned how to tat with 2 needles, although I think you can – some of the patterns are for 2 shuttles, so if that puts you off then so be it.

The next 2 are also from the book, although I misread the pattern of the first, so it’s not really accurate. image

This motif above is worked in LIzbeth crochet thread size 20 in “juicy watermelon”

…and this bookmark is Lizbeth crochet cotton size 20 in “Tropical Punch”

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All these have been worked with size 20 thread and a size 7 tatting needle, which seemed to give the nicest result. I tried tatting size 20 thread on a bigger needle (paradoxically a size 5 needle, they, like thread, get smaller as the number gets bigger), but the stitches were loose and the whole thing looked… well, tatty. Boom.

The “brick” of tatting is one stitch only – the double knot, consisting of two halves which you make separately. With needle tatting you put the stitches onto the needle and then slide them off onto thread. Here are some action shots – I borrowed the Hubster’s camera arm to help last night in front of the TV

First half of double stitch:

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Second half of double stitch

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Leaving a space between stitches makes a picot (“pee-coh”) which is a decorative loop of thread which can also be used to join:

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Some stitches on the needle – when these slide off they will make the next chain:

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Obviously I just wanted to give you a flavour of the craft – in no way is this a tutorial! I’m not going to lie to you, learning it can be a fiddly process and it will probably take time – and a fair amount of unpicked stitches when you have fogotten to join picots – but it is a cheap, pretty hobby and very satisfying somehow.

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(A bookmark made with an immediate download PDF pattern I bought for £1.25 from an ETSY seller here: https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/164157235/5710-vintage-tatting-pattern-for-tatted?ref=shop_home_feat_2 . See, tatting is alive and well!)

If you fancied giving it a go, I would recommend getting a tatting needle and some nice thread, maybe in variegated (changing) colours – the needle was £3 and the thread slightly less. Probably start with a bigger needle (number 5) and a chunkier thread – maybe perle cotton size 8 would be nice and comes in gorgeous colours to make it easier to see when you are starting out. The thinner the thread (and needle) the daintier the tatting. I’m thinking of trying size 40 Lizbeth next. I guess the outlay will be a good book, or finding a good youtube video to teach you. You never know, once Kiddo is settled into school (his second day today!) I might do a wee “how to” series myself! It’s a shame to let this lovely craft die.

And what am I going to do with all these? I have NO idea. No wonder my practical husband is completely baffled by this! Wait until I sew one onto a beautiful lavender pillow, then he’ll be impressed. Or not…

Back to sewing next time, kiddo and his pals starting school has prompted a little flurry of sewing happiness – pencilcases, zippered money-pouches, lunch bags… ahhhh, bliss!

Until 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