Wee Wednesday

Wee make day today!

I’ve been busy! 5 cute zip purses for my friend’s children and cousins:

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Fabrics: Tortoises by Dashwood Studios, tossed mini owls in pink by Timeless Treasures, Main Forla pink from Madhuri collection by The Quilted Fish for Riley Blake, Baby bunting in grey from Reunion by Sweetwater for Moda, Bottle caps in multi from Going Coastal by Emily Herrick.

These are great for little pockets or school bags; and in different fabrics, I love them for jeans on a girlie night out, perfect for a card and some cash without spoiling the line of your beautiful figure  – because all figures are beautiful except when they have a big bulge in the pocket…

In fact here are a couple that might be more suitable for grown ups:

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The news has been so tense and somewhat depressing in Scotland recently, that I decided to have a giveaway to my facebook friends – 4 people picked from anyone who posted something positive got one of these. It was actually really fun, and lovely to send them off today! If I ever launch a Cuckooblue Facebook page I’m definitely doing giveaways. They might make you out of pocket, but they do cheer your day immensely!

Toiletry bag and purse fabric is from Riley Blake’s Sidewalks, Blue Paisley from Delilah by Tanya Whelan. All lightly padded with pretty linings of course:

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I use stripes for lining the boys’ money pouches (they don’t have purses of course!), but they also make very smart exteriors:

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Harris Tweed Toiletry bag for my friend’s 40th. It is lined with a stiff natural canvas with such a tight weave that it is waterproof. Waterproof is important becasue Harris Tweed should really be dry-cleaned. It makes it lovely and sturdy:

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And finally, for my friend’s daughter’s 8th birthday:

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It only has some iron-on interfacing, and no hardware (buckles etc), which keeps it nice and light, perfect for the slip of a girl that she is. The tie top makes it great for adjusting as she grows too, and means she can use it cross-body or over her shoulder. I forgot to measure but it can only be about 10” across. In fact I also made one at the same time for another friend’s daughter’s 5th birthday who needs a wheelchair, and I thought she could tie it to her chair, or round her waist, whtever was easiest. This is actually that one as it has a magnetic snap for ease of access for a little one – the other has a zip closure.

I based it on this tutorial which I had used when I first started sewing bags and wasn’t designing my own, just because I still had the template from all those years ago – I made it smaller and pieced the straps to avoid cutting so much fabric, but it’s otherwise the same: 

http://tinyhappy.typepad.com/tiny_happy/2006/06/shoulder_bag_tu.html

Phew, there is more, but how many purses and washbags can you look at, pretty fabric or not? And I made a quilt for a little boy – which I LOVE… but will show you another day.

Meanwhile, thanks for stopping by! Hope your creative muse is inspiring you and that you’re having fun whatever you’re up to.

‘Till the next time,

Poppy xx

Minute Monday

A minute to read this – or minute as in teeny weeny makes, either way – here we are:

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A Harris Tweed coin purse, requested by a friend of mine, who didn’t want it big enough for cards, just a nice pocket size. Lined with a bright blue cotton which matches that thin vertical stripe left of centre – turned out very sweet!

And then some monogrammed drawstring washbags for our friends’ four children as they are all off in a big caravan for 6 weeks around Europe. They are Aussies and naturally adventurous (they’d have to be – 4 little kids!?! I feel I need to psyche up and the have cavalry on speed dial  when I take 4 kids to the park…). It made me smile that they wanted some personalised prettiness for their journey.

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The kids got to choose their own fabrics from my stash. I am always amazed at the choices children make. Emily is only 6 and chose this lovely retro Tanya Whelan print called lulu Rose from her Delilah collection (Freespirit fabrics). Size 9”x10” approx.

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Angus is 4 and liked this bunting print above from Reunion by Sweetwater for Moda. I like it too – it’ll grow with him better than the cars I thought he might have liked.

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That picture is one lying flat. You can see the channel I made for threading the cord through. I used a spring-loaded cord lock (like you get on rucksacks) rather than a traditional drawstring – I think it makes them look more substantial and the opening stays shut better.

My friend wanted them to have a waterproof lining, so I lined them in a white PUL – “polyurethane laminate” – which is a polyester knit  laminated on one side to make it waterproof. It is slightly stretchy so you have to be a bit careful sewing it. I would have liked to use my walking foot, but needed to use a teflon foot because of the shiny side.  The sewing then went OK – except I had to turn the tension dial WAY down. Then all was good! Although my friend said to just use a bit of cut up shower curtain (!!!), I am obviously far more safety aware than that – this PUL contains no lead, phlalates or BPAs so are suitable for products intended for children under 12. It also inhibits the growth of fungi, which is good for this purpose, especially because these kids will be throwing their toothbrush in there with their wee shampoos and soap apparently. It can be washed at 60 degrees, so all good. I would like to try “procare” at some point too – a foodsafe medical grade fabric with similar (but even better!) properties to PUL – and less stretch…

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I know a bad picture, but I had to give them up in a hurry. This is the four together. Charlotte’s washbag is Paula Prass’ “Par Avion” from the Flight of Fancy collection for Michael Miller, an old print, but rather lovely. I never have managed to use up the bit I have somehow. I was glad she chose it. Isla’ chose princess castles from Happy Ever After for Riley Blake. Apparently they were all very pleased with their finished bags – phew! You get no sparing of feelings from unsatisfied children…

I used steam-a-seam2 to make the monogramme appliques, and a well-washed, almost felted dark grey jersey I had lying around. Steam-a-seam 2 is the best I’ve found for reducing fray on letters. I hand- stitched them on to be sure they won’t fall off. Fingers crossed they still look good after a few washes. It’s OK though, the family are heading back to Australia in a couple of months, so I won’t know if the monograms fall apart 😉 It’d be a bit embarrassing if it happened before they lleft though… (I’m sure it’ll all be fine really!)

Ok, maybe forget I even attempted a “quick minute” Monday. in my dreams. Speaking of which… Night night all, hope summer is treating you all well and the creative juices are flowing freely! Till the next time,

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

The Champagne of Cloth – Harris Tweed

So, all my Harris tweed arrived and indeed it is lovely! I got to work straightaway; keen to sew it but without any real purpose for it other than an urge to possess some, I made hisnhers toiletry/ washbags:

The pink:

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The Traditional Herringbone Lovat:

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I lined them with a high quality white PUL, making them water-resistant and wipeable on the inside anyway. That was a royal pain in the proverbial though – I usually use white canvas on the basis that you stick the washbag in the wash and it’s much easier to sew into these bags. but Harris tweed should only really be dry cleaned, so I thought the PUL would be the better option for in between drycleans…

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These were both instantly swiped by my sister-in-law when they came to visit though! I only just got the photos in before they disappeared down South of the Border. oh well, given their high standards, I’ll take that as a compliment!

So what’s the deal about Harris tweed?

Well first it’s the only cloth which has it’s own Act of Parliament. That’s quite a feat!  This is from the Harris Tweed Authority website:

The Harris Tweed Act

The definition of Harris Tweed contained in the Harris Tweed Act of 1993 clearly defines Harris Tweed as follows:

“Handwoven by the islanders at their homes in the Outer Hebrides, finished in the Outer Hebrides, and made from pure virgin wool dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides.”

The Act ensures that all cloth certified with the Harris Tweed Orb symbol complies with this definition and is genuine Harris Tweed, the world’s only commercially produced handwoven tweed.

And did I mention the cloth must be inspected by the Harris Tweed Authority before it gets an official stamp of approval and earns the right to “Wear The Orb”, which is what you see on the label.They call themselves “The Guardians of the Orb”.

Wowsers. It sounds so romantic. I imagine knights fighting dragons, glimmering Orbs of light held aloft, symbols of truth and bravery. Aragorn and the like. Mmmmmm, Aragorn….

Ahem.

This is the label:

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And when you get approved Harris tweed you get a number of labels (strictly metered out and guarded, you can’t just buy them) for use on products you make with it. I am a little bit in love with my labels! They somehow feel very special. Even if Aragorn doesn’t come with these orbs. Sigh.

So I had a little left from the pink tweed fabric I bought, and made a couple of small coin purses:

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and a little zippered pouch for a handbag – maybe to hold lipstick, mobile phone, even a pair of glasses. the batting and the thickness of Harris Tweed gives it a nice padded stability. I somehow like it the most of all the things i’ve made from it so far!

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Photots will never do Harris tweed justice. it feels nice in your hands. Or maybe it’s just that everyone in Scotland and maybe the UK understands its heritage and that’s what it feels like you’re holding in your hands; an ancient history.

This is the website of the Harris tweed Authority, if you’re interested:

http://www.harristweed.org/

I did get rather a lot of the Herringbone Lovat fabric (not the pink one) which is what I feel is the traditional tweed; it looks great on anyone, young, old, male, female, modern, classic. So I imagine I’ll be sewing a lot more with Harris tweed which will be a pleasure. And I still have some handbags to make with it. So much to play with! Hurray!

Till the next time,

Poppy

xx

ps. Am daydreaming now! (am such a geek)

Parting is such sweet sorrow

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… and sorrow is was. My boss, colleague and good friend with whom I’ve worked for 10 years, is leaving Edinburgh and moving his family to Durham, where his lovely, talented wife has found a job which is perfect for her. The problem with being two married doctors (which they are) is that when you specialise and reach consultant stage, it can be difficult to find two jobs in the same city – obviously there are limited consultant jobs in each speciality in each city. So with sadness, I said farewell to a man who has nutured and encouraged me professionally, and has been gracious enough to also listen to my views, opinions and learn from me too – what a rare and beautiful thing that is for an employee, particularly for us doctors – the medical profession can still have those vestiges of the male-dominated profession it once was, and upon whose principles it was founded. But this guy is special enough to see past it all, and all my medical skills and achievements have been because he enabled me to believe in myself and brought out the best in me. Still wanted to slap him sometimes!

Anyway, enough of the sorrw and on with the sweet. This is a sewing blog after all! It was hard to think of a suitable gift. I had thought a large sofa quilt, but I don’t really know what their new house will be like, or how they will choose to dress it – I would hate for the expense and amount of work involved in making a quilt to go to waste.

So I settled on a family set of washbags/ toiletries bags, trying to second guess all their tastes, but keeping them fairly neutral, so that even if they don’t love them they should still find them useful…

Firstly David, the man himself:

(These are all cotton fabrics, structured with polyester batting, lined with white cotton canvas)

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Coastal “painted planks” from Makower.

Next for his wife:

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I love this fabric from Tanya Whelan – Blue Paisley from the Delilah collection for Free Spirit fabrics. I bought it for myself, but decided to part with some as they are such a special family to us! I was keen that their bags in particular coordinated together. Then decided to try and do so for the family!

The two girls – one is 18-ish, the other is about 21 or so. Both girls are very nice, clever and pretty, albeit with two different personalities (quite how it should be!) – they will go far!

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Fabric is Freebird Geranium in Sky by MoMo for Moda, yes I know I love it lots!

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I’ve had this piece of fabric for about 5 years, having made a bag with some of it. I really love it – it is a large scale print, so sadly you can’t see the whole print on a washbag, and I forgot to photograph the reverse! It’s Par Avion from the Flights of Fancy collection by Paula Prass for Michael Miller. I bought more of the brighter “spring” colourway, but have struggled to use that one somehow, whereas this one, ordered as an afterthought is more versaltile. Funny how that happens.

And finally for David’s son, who is 10. Not yet a teenager, but will be soon – how hard a brief is that? Anyway, I chose this fabric:

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It’s “Bottlecaps in Multi” from the Going Coastal collection by Emily Herrick for Michael Miller. I struggled to find this in the UK, and when I did it was on offer (YAY!!) but there wasn’t much of it (boo). Anyway, My husband has chosen a washbag for himself after his last one fell apart (not one of mine, to be fair he’s had it years) in this – I love it when he asks me to make him something. I hope the kid likes it. He’s a gorgeous, well mannered boy, I wish it was easier to make fabric things that a boy would actually like!

And the family photo, smile everyone:

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I wish this lovely family all the very best for the new chapter in their lives and all their exciting adventures!

Meanwhile, I have acquired a piece of this beautiful Harris tweed in a pink check as my friend would like a bag made in it.

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There may be enough left over for a toiletry bag – I think it would be beautiful, and make a lovely gift! Having held the fabric in my hands I can see why it has its own act of parliament governing the right for the fabric to “wear the orb”, a particular label, which is the mark of Harris Tweed. Apparently it must be

“Handwoven by the islanders at their homes in the Outer Hebrides, finished in the Outer Hebrides, and made from pure virgin wool dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides.”

It’s also very expensive. It’s like the champagne of cloth 🙂 I’m looking forward to working with it.

Till the next time,

Poppy xxx

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

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