Liberty, birds and a whole lot of sewing…

Hello lovely folk of the aesthetically beautiful tastes! It’s been AGES – sorry about that. I’ve been a bit overcommitted of late. And I’m going to try for a short post today (! yeah… good luck with that, delusional self) and just show you this:

image

Liberty scraps and natural linen zippered pouch, measures 6” x 4”. Actually it’s a linen cotton mix, but it’s darned near perfect, nice fine weave and a good weight.

I freemotion embroidered the branch and raw edge appliqued on the hummingbird with black thread, and actually really like the result, yay! It’s supposed to be a hummingbird, at least I copied the silhouette from a photo of a hummingbird, so let’s go with that even if my needle-drawing isn’t going to satisfy any twitchers on here… I’m hoping it will hold with just one stitching line – it’s so delicate that 2 lines would overpower the image I thought. I used steam-a-seam II to secure the applique first which is as much as I think I can do – so much stronger than wonder-under.

image

A pretty polka dot lining – I got this from my local fabric shop and adore it! It’s a sage green, not as khaki as it looks on my computer… and at half the price of designer cotton, I love it even more. I always include a layer of batting for strength and structure too.

I made it for a craft fair – I know I say I never do them except for the annual village fair, but made an exception this year because it is in aid of a tiny rural village school where my son went to nursery when he was too freaked out to settle in our own bigger village nursery. I have talked before about what they meant to us as a family https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/91088996087/quilts-of-gratitude , and have committed to continuing to support them. So it’s been sewing chaos in the last 2 weeks (yes, I started late…).

Oh go on then, I’ve already failed at keeping this short!

image

Some toiletry bags – large and small. The large are big enough to hold all my daily cosmetics, creams, deoderant, nail varnish, hair bands, eyelash curlers (I used to use them every day before becoming a mother… now they mostly sit there in a pretty washbag!) etc, the small are travel sized, or perfect for children.

image

Pencilcase style bag organisers for lippy/ keys/ whatever – or just as pencilcases! This designs are more kid pencilcases, hold on I’ll see if I can find a more grown up picture:

image

Very grown up! There are matching zip purses too amongst this lot:

image

….er, actually there are not. But there will be. Probably.

And whilst we are doing a wee bit of the free-motion embroidery:

image

The ubiquitous caravan and bunting cushion. Yes I know everyone in the world with a sewing machine who wants to try this technique starts with this scene – but hey, why not? It’s fun, cute and nice simple shapes. I made 3 in a different colours and a VW campervan too. I mostly used scraps except for that polka dot fabric again – see the pink too? Isn’t it lovely? Scrap busting is satisfying but man it takes TIME. Finding the right size, matching colours, ironing the wrinkles out because you have stored them badly… I really need to find a way of using scraps more efficiently because I’m bad at it. And you can imagine I make a lot of scrap…!

Well, I had no business writing to you, as I still have so much to do and so little time before Saturday and the Market! Still it’s nice to share some sewing goodness with like-minded folk. Hope your creative muse is inspiring you too – pre christmas sewing/ crafting/ browsing/ buying? Enjoy whatever you’re doing.

’till the next time, Poppy xx

Wee Wednesday

Wee make day today!

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

image

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:

image

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:

image

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

image

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:

image

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

image

image

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:

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

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…

image

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

A week of sewing like a madwoman? I feel a craft fair coming on..

image

Of all the things I’d planned to blog about – and there is now a queue – this was not one of them. 6 days ago I agreed to do a craft fair – which is in 5 days time – eeeeeeek! I think I must be a little insane.

It’s the same craft fair that I did a year ago, in our village, usually for a charity, and is part of a stately home open day, where there’s a bouncy castle, facepainting etc. I did it last year at 3 weeks’ notice and thought I was a mentalist then, but apparently that was me being organised, positively relaxed even… The day before it, I launched this blog, and since then I’ve had a nice gentle stream of sales and interest from the village which has been very lovely. So maybe that’s why it felt right to do it again.

image

image

So this is the very popular zippered purse, this one in Sidewalks by Riley Blake. It’s pocket sized but bigger than last year to more comfortably fit cards as well as cash. Interfaced with batting for durability and that soft feel, and of course always a pretty lining, because we deserve eye candy inside our purses even if there’s not as many notes in there as we’d like!

Pretty and floral designs:

image

(Clockwise from top left – Enchant for Riley blake, Flutter for Riley Blake, sweet shoppe Michelle D’Amour for Bernatex, Songbird in white, from Vintage Summer Collection by Little Yellow Bicycle for Blend, Sweet Shoppe, Marmalade by Bonnie and Camille for Moda)

Liberty coin purses:

image

Brights and retro:

image

(Clockwise from top left – Flutter by The Quilted Fish for Riley Blake, Blue birds on lampost by Kate and Birdie from Bluebird Park for Moda, Sidewalks by October Afternoon, Flutter)

Fun or for kids:

image

(Clockwise from top left: oh darn, cannot remember the name/designer/anything about the owl fabric! Sorry! Going Coastal by Emily Herrick, Out at Sea by Sarah Jane fo Michael Miller Fabrics, Ele train shroom by Dan Stiles for Birch fabrics (organic), Bluebird park by Kate and Birdie)

And the most popular thing I seem to make, the large toiletry bag /washbag

image

image

Lined with white canvas, interfaced for stability with softness, I love these! And they have improved the look of my dressing table no end, they are deceptively big and take all my bits and pieces including my hairbrush. That one was in Flutter red for Riley Blake…

image

That was Ele Train Shroom by Dan Stiles for Birch and is Organic cotton – somehow manages to be grown up as well as cute.

image

Not that I made them to be sets, but they could be – the flat pouch is a makeup pouch or handbag organiser for keys/ phone/ purse/ lippy whatever. Or a pencilcase, especially when made in a kid fabric.

image

The above is Sidewalks by October Afternoon for Riley Blake – this is my new current favourite fabric 🙂

image

Jungle Elephants (makower)

image

Peak Hour Ad White by Kellie Wulfsohn for Riley Blake – so cool! Especially with a bright fabric lining (from Space collection by Makower I think)

image

Out at Sea by Sarah Jane – I’m a bit obsessed with those mermaids! Remind me of the Heather Ross Mendocino Swim Sisters which I never got any of but now is so rare it sells for a small fortune on etsy – I actually gasped, even though that’s something you only think happens in novels. This is not a bad second though. I got some of this with my little niece in mind, but haven’t yet managed to make her something yet – a swim bag maybe…?

Not everything is newly made this week, I have a few lavender pillows which still smell divine, and one or two kindle cases – soft yet waterproof and padded to prevent scratches or mishaps with burst waterbottles in your bag or by the pool. This one is in Songbird in white by Little Yellow bicycle for Blend fabrics.

image

And finally… some Scrabble tile pendants! These are fun, sweet and funky – an image on a wooden scrabble tile topped with an epoxy resin seal, a nickel and lead free bail on the back and sold with a silver plated (nickel/lead free) chain (or alone). I’ll have about 50 on the day. They seem to sell well at fairs, so fingers crossed, and though this is a small selection, they are mostly different from each other. 

image

The best thing about doing these this year has been “meeting” (virtual, she being in the US and me being in Scotland) a lovely lovely Etsy seller called Leslie at the Graphicalmuse, whose talented work you see on pendant numbers 2 and 4 above. I love Etsy and love these amazing and lovely creative folk we get to “meet” through the blogging and crafting world. This whole craft fair is worth it for having made a new friend 🙂

So I’m finished sewing now; I don’t want to get too tired before the fair because I found the event fun but tiring last time, and I’m going to follow all my advice I gave myself after doing it last year, but get organised well in advice.

https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/48960849472/craft-fair-and-other-stories

I wondered why I could blitz through all these makes, when it normally takes a while to do one washbag  – the answer is factory line preparation. I spent 2 days literally collecting all the fabrics I wanted to use, then cutting everything – fabrics, interfacing, gathering all supplies everything. Then sewed it all up. I broke 6 needles. And I sewed like a maniac until I was SO BORED of sewing, which has never happened before that I can remember. And my room looked like this: image

So I’m glad to be getting it back, and am excited about some more quilting, because I got new quilting toys that I can’t wait to try out! I’ll tell you next time. By the way, anything I don’t sell will hopefully finally get put onto this blog and/ or a facebook page for sale, though probably UK only unless I get a lot of pressure!

Meanwhile, enjoy doing whatever you’re doing, and see you very soon.

Till the next time, Poppy xx

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:

image

The Traditional Herringbone Lovat:

image

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…

image

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:

image

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:

image

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!

image

image

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

image

… 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)

image

Coastal “painted planks” from Makower.

Next for his wife:

image

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!

image

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

image

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:

image

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:

image

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.

image

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/