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

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/