Wednesday, 30 December 2009

A completed UFO

We all have them in our drawers - unfinished objects that sit there staring at us accusingly until we settle down and complete. Well now that Christmas is out of the way and I am still on holiday I thought that I would have a go at getting some done.

This is a picture started at a machine embroidered textures course run by Gina Ferrari earlier in the year at Art & Stitch. We painted Bondaweb and Tyvek which was stitched, stretched and heat shrunk to within an inch of it's life. We then built the pieces up with some scruffy knitting, coloured paper (and anything else we could fine) and machine stitched them onto a background.

I have done some further stitching when I got home, and yesterday I got the bead soup out to add a bit of embellishment (there is always room for a few beads!) and I couched additional threads and wools to add interest.
Many of the others used this technique to make some very interesting landscapes using blues, greens and browns. I couldn't resist using rich and exuberant reds and purples instead - so mine could only be considered a landscape on an alien planet!

I am very pleased with the result and will find a nice spot to hang it. It is a technique that I will definitely use again - perhaps as a book cover next time - who knows. That is the joy of this hobby, I never know where the next project will take me!

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Finally... the Christmas reveal!

I have been told off lately for not blogging much during December, but the truth is that the majority of my crafting time was spent creating a lap quilt for my Dad and I didn't want him to see it before time - so here it is at last!

This is my Dad, my brother and my nieces and nephew admiring the label on the back - well they are easily pleased!!:
The pattern was (I think) called Turned 9 patch and was taught to me by Pam at Art & Stitch. I wanted something that was simple and effective - without being too fussy. This is the quilt laid out ready for quilting - I chose masculine colours and I am over the moon with the results:

As this is my first quilt, I chose to quilt diagonally across the quilt in red:

This left the grey areas looking a little dull so I got braver and quilted a spiral in the centre of each one:
Working on a quilt was much harder than practicing on a foot square sandwich, but I got there in the end - albeit with a few wobbly bits but I don't think anyone will notice.

I also made a little journal to go with the quilt - made using the same fabrics and including some pictures of me and my Dad, and the stages in making the quilt. Dad was chuffed with that too.
Inside, me and my Dad in Granddad's garden in about 1973:

Dad sporting a very fetching moustache! My 5 year old nephew saw this picture and wanted to know why I looked like a boy - thanks James!!:
All in all both gifts were delightfully received which is what it is all about. It made all the effort (and occasional swearing) worth it. Best get some fabric out for the next quilt then :)

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Another Christmas gift completed!

Now here is another Christmas gift that is all wrapped and under the tree - and it uses one of my favourite mediums - buttons!!!

Any excuse to get out my button jars and have a jolly good rummage is not to be missed. So I layered the buttons and threaded them together rather than wiring them around a central chain, and I think the effect is rather fetching:

The necklace hangs nicely, though like all buttoned necklaces it does require a little arrangement at first to make sure the buttons all face the same way.

I always give my necklaces a 'test run' by wearing them for a day to check the hang and that they are sturdy and not in any way uncomfortable. I must say I loved wearing this one - and it drew a few comments during the short time I wore it. I think that I shall make myself one once I have replenished by button stock!

Now I am on a roll with this Christmas pressie making... so what is the next one on the list??

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

A Birthday Gift Make

It was my brother's girlfriend Sarah's birthday today so I can now show you what I made for her gift.

Being so close to Christmas it was a perfect opportunity to make her some special Christmas decorations. All three are made from silk and here are the results.

The first is a heart is worked with goldwork leaves and ribbon roses on front and stuffed with fluff:
The second is a pointy oval cigar shape (if anyone knows the correct name it could settle an argument in our house):

This is also decorated with goldwork leaves and roses.

The third (taught by Anne Stacey at Art & Stitch) is a polystyrene ball covered in silk and decorated with gold braid and finished with sequins:

The first 2 took much longer than expected (at least 2 nights in front of the telly each!) and so I felt that they deserved special wrapping attention.

I wrapped them first in black tissue followed by red sparkly netting (because you always need a little sparkle on a birthday!)

I used wired ribbon to tie a bow, but decided that this was still not enough so had to go a step further - and make a ribbon flower to go on the front:

Once I made the flower I thought that it was a shame to use it once and then then throw it away, so I wrapped ribbon around the wires and added a brooch backing, and now it is a Christmas brooch!

This is the brooch off of the gift, though I don't think the picture really does it justice.

I love the results but it all took a couple of hours to complete so I am not sure that I will have the time to complete any more before Christmas!

Sarah seemed to love it and that is what really counts!

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Toy Drop for Christmas 2009

Apologies for the long lapse in blogging but the reasons have been two fold - firstly work and real life have severely interrupted my crafting and blogging time, with a very busy worklife as well as another module for my MSc, and secondly - because a lot of the crafting I have actually got around to making has been for Christmas gifts and I don't want to spoil the surprise for the recipients before the big day. Therefore I shall be attempting to blog a little more in the new year!

Anyway, today has been the day for the big co-ordinated Christmas Drop for the Toy Society and I have rustled up a couple of toys to join in. I had so much fun dropping BeeJay that I just had to do it again. For those of you that haven't heard of the Toy Society, it is well worth taking a look at and getting involved with 'random acts of craft'.

Bertie was the first drop - which took place at Serpentine Green Shopping centre in Peterborough on the 19th at1.30pm:

He is a simple felt 'funny', very cute and simple to make.
He was left in a seating area in the food hall near a children's carousel so I hope he found a good home.

Emily was left outside Clarks Shoe shop, also in Serpentine Green Shopping centre (it seemed the best bet as it was inside and therefore warm!!)
She is made out of some of the leftover scraps from my fabric elephants:

That is Paul's leg you can see on the right - as we tried to not look suspicious taking the photos!

I really hope that they both go to good homes and that someone gets a lot of joy out of finding them. It almost feels like being Santa - and leaving gifts under the Christmas tree. What a wonderful time of the year this is!

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Studying can be so much fun!

As part of my MSc in E-learning, I am doing a module called E-learning and Digital Culture. As part of this course we have to study an online group and decide if it is a community. "why are you telling me this?" I hear you cry. Well I decided to combine two loves, and did my study on Quilting Gallery.

Quilting Bloggers Logo

This meant that for my homework I had to read lots and lots of quilting blogs. What a hardship!!!! I had a great time, read some fab stories, and chatted with some very nice people.

So for a change, the hard work of studying really wasn't hard work at all!

The results can be found here! Feel free to take a look (and a laugh!!!).

Friday, 6 November 2009

Button Class results

It has been nearly a week since I taught the Beaded Button class at Art & Stitch on Saturday 31st October, but i have been away all week so this is the first opportunity to post pics of the part-completed buttons that the ladies created:
They did a great job and I really enjoyed teaching them.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Fun Faces in Button form

Lately I seem to have earned the name 'the button lady' especially because I am teaching a beaded button class tomorrow. I admit to rather liking the title and I could certainly be called worse things!

Well here is another completed beaded button that I tantalised you with on the previous blog:
I am very pleased with it, and it is a great project for when you only have 5 or 6 beads left of a particular colour. I love items that dig into my bead soup!!! I may add it to a fabric body to make a doll, or simply give it pride of place on a simple black bag so it gets some use. I will have to think on it.

Well I have to disappear now to pack up my kit for my class tomorrow.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Long time no see....

I have been a very absent blogger over last few weeks - what with a dose of flu, followed by a bad back and then the start of the next module for my MSc in E-learning! No excuse but there has been very little work undertaken in that time so nothing much to blog!
However a fellow blogger has been nagging me about the lack of blog (yes you Angela!) and as I will be seeing her tomorrow I thought I had better get some done :)

Hematite necklace
I went to the wedding of a friend of mine early in October and it was a black tie do so I was wearing a rather fetching black frock. I had the common problem of no matching jewellery - much of my stuff is brightly coloured so didn't go with the 'black and white' theme. So like any enterprising beader I settled down with my bead stash to see what I could do.
I had a lovely big hematite cabochon and some hematite beads of mixed shapes and sizes which perfectly fit the bill. So here is the result of an evenings beading the night before the wedding!

Here is the detail - I added a little asymmetrical fringe to add drama to such a lovely stone:

It worked very well and I had quite a few nice comments from people. I have worn it on quite a few occasions since - including when I am out on site wearing a suit and it looks great.

Beaded button
Another item that I have started is an addition to my beaded buttons collection for the course I am teaching at Art & Stitch next weekend. This is still underway but you get the idea...

I wanted to do something a little different from the 'randoms' and the definite patterned beads that I have done so far, as well as move away from the duel colourways that I have used to date. This one uses a mix of colours with no pretence at coordination - simply a 'joy' of colours! It is still a work in progress, and getting the eyes level will be a challenge, but I always love trying something new!

Well tomorrow I am attending a class at Art & Stitch with the talented Gina as tutor, so I will probably come back immensely inspired and shut myself away for days! I can't wait!

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Elephants on parade

Apologies for not entering the blogosphere for a while but I have been laid low with the flu!

Now that I am feeling better I thought that I would share with you a couple of toys that I made before I fell ill. I bought some deliciously bright fabric from art and stitch and made some simple patchwork elephants - a mummy and a baby.
they look so cute in the grass!
I think I might try a giraffe next - possibly with 4 legs this time!

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Fire Mountain Gems results

Well the results have been published from the Fire Mountain Gems beading contest.

My 'Midnight Dreams' necklace. I was a finalist out of 1,700 entries which still stuns me to silence!

The winner in my category of 'cabochons'.

The overall winner.

What amazing work!!!

Monday, 14 September 2009

Small and Mighty

Yesterday we took a trip to the antiques fair at wood green animal shelter near Huntingdon and I found this little beauty for £15.
And little is the word! It only measure 7 inches in height - and that is a normal sized reel of thread in it. Fortunately it takes normal sized needles.
It is a wonder and actually works. A few turns of the handle and I got some (wobbly) straight stitch out of it. It needs a good clean and some oiling but I am chuffed with it!
It came with the original user manual too.
It doesn't use a bobbin, just some ingenious twiddling with the top thread underneath.

The lady who sold it to me said it was from the 1950's which is probably about right having looked up the Essex Miniature sewing machine on the Internet. It is quite hard work though, so I wonder if any of the children who received this as a gift ever actually made anything with it!

Friday, 4 September 2009

All fired up for beading...

Flushed with my success with Midnight dreams in the Fire Mountain Gems contest (and those of you who know me will know that I was incredibly flushed), I have decided to enter another beading contest.
This one is called Use the Muse and sounds brilliant. You purchase a bundle of beads (including the Muse focal bead) and away you go, creating a wearble piece. You can do exactly as you like, using as much or a little of the bundle as you want - though you MUST use the Muse! The results for the previous 2 contests where amazing, and I love seeing th different work produced from the same set of beads. So I have sent my $30 for the beads, and I await the parcel with baited breath!

As the main rule of Use the Muse is that you don't reveal the Muse until the results are published, so I would not be able to share any pics until it is done, but I think I can manage. Winners are announced mid November so it is not too long to keep schtum!!!

Thursday, 3 September 2009


This is a wall hanging that I blogged about while I was working on it. It was my first 'free form' attempt at quilting after starting a monthly quilting course at Art & Stitch with Anne Stacey. Now that it is finished I thought that I would give you a peek.

It is called ' I Miss My Garden' because my new house only has lawn, and I miss flowers!
I quilted it with free style leaves around the edge.

I am delighted with the results and will find some sunny spot in the house to hang it!

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

A wet Bank holiday...

A couple of months ago I attended my first class in quilting at Art & Stitch in Peterborough. It was a crazy patchwork/ embellishing/ cushion making class and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I chose the colours to match the colour scheme in the bedroom of my new house. I stitched most of the patchwork on the day and finished the beading 2 days later. That was about 3 months ago and it has sat patiently in the corner of my studio waiting to be miraculously turned into a proper, usable cushion.
And guess what, a rainy bank holiday Monday drove me to finish it off!
I am glad I finally got around to putting it together, and it looks great on my bed!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Fire Mountain Gems Beading Contest results

I wanted to share the results of my entry into the Fire Mountain Gem beading contest that I entered in April. I think the photo says it all!They don't tell you how you did until they return your piece - and so I was thrilled when I opened the box - and the $10 gift voucher should cover the postage on me next order lol.

Thanks to all of those who wished me luck on entering Midnight Dreams. Being a finalist on my first 'go' will be a hard act to follow. I will have to think hard on my effort for 2010!

Monday, 24 August 2009

National Quilt Exhibition

On Friday, my friend Vicky and I booked the day off, jumped into a car and headed to the NEC in Birmingham to visit the National Quilt Exhibition. As new converts to quilting, we were interested to have a look at the work on display and check out what was going on in the world of quilts. And boy were we impressed!! The work on display was amazing. Some of the quilts gave us confidence that we could produce something similar in quality, and then some were so out of this world that you felt you should throw your needles down this instance because you would never produce anything like it in your life. However, on the whole I came back inspired, and with a bag of sumptuous fabrics to start on my next project project which will be a wall hanging for the hallway of my new house.

I find that this is one of the problems with these shows. You begin to suffer from sensory overload by halfway through the afternoon because there is just too much to see. I swear that I was colour blind by 4.30pm!

Here are some of the highlights that I managed to get pics of! I loved this Scottie quilt - so much personality and humour:

This face was amazing - it must have taken some planning! I am not sure I would have had the patience:
I really liked some of the miniature quilts, and I will be saving ALL of my off cuts from now on - no matter how small!

This was one of my favourites from the show - simply because the colours were so vibrant and the piece i so 'mad'. It is similar in concept to a wall hanging that I am working on now (update to follow soon - I promise):
Just so wonderfully complex and well executed:
It was a great day and I came home buzzing with ideas and enthusiasm - so off to the sewing machine I shall go! See you at Christmas :)

Saturday, 22 August 2009

recent projects

I have been a bit lax with my blog over the last month, but only because I have been so busy. The lovely weather has dragged me away from the PC and into the sunny studio at the top of the house. I have been working on a sampler quilt for the spare room (with the help of my quilt teacher Ann Stacey) and it is coming along - 12 squares out of 16 completed. This is it laid out on it's eventual home so I can get an idea how it will look. Besides, it is very satisfying to see it laid out on the bed rather than piled up on my desk!It is quite a traditional pattern, with flying geese, Dresden plate and four card trick squares making an appearance. But as this is my first attempt at quilting it is a great way to be introduced to the techniques. I am loving quilting, though the thought of getting the whole thing through my sewing machine is a little scary.

This has been today's project:
Her name is Milly and is from a pattern I bought yesterday at the National Quilt Festival in Birmingham. She is destined to be my gift to my beautiful niece Jade who is 7 today. I will be delivering it tomorrow and I really hope she likes it.

The rest of my time has been taken up with planning the teaching of my first course; Beaded Button Fancies at Art and Stitch in October. I have been working on the supplies list and producing more samples. I have 7 in total now, and I plan to have a few more done by the class so that people can see what the possibilities are. I am very excited about this new departure. As a software trainer I teach all the time, but never anything quite so personal as this. I hope that people will take away a new skill that they can apply to different areas of their work. That is the joy of buttons - you can use them anywhere!

Friday, 24 July 2009

I Miss my Garden - a work in progress

I have recently moved into a new house which we are busy turning into our home. The new place has a huge garden (for me) but it is all laid to lawn and there is not a single flower to be seen. I have made an effort with the greenhouse and a couple of raised beds for my veg but we will not be making much inroads to the lawn until next year.

So because I miss my flowers I decided to put some in a wall hanging instead! I was also working in Edinburgh on Tuesday and my hotel had some Mackintosh flower panels dotted around so I took this as my starting point.

Being new to quilting and applique I have simplified the flowers a bit, but this is the basic design.

As it turns out I not to put in the leaves because it confuses things a bit and makes it more fussy than I would like.

I have not started quilting yet (and as this is my first go I am not sure which direction to take yet) and I may find it hard to resist embellishing it but we shall see where it takes me. I can feel this one 'growing' as I work on it. Just like the garden I am missing!

Friday, 17 July 2009

I love buttons

I have been away from home with work recently, so I have spent a few lonely nights in hotels. However, this gives me a nice opportunity to take a little 'make' with me to keep my hands busy. My choice this week has been two uncovered buttons (38mm wide) with a suitable scrap of fabric, a couple of small charms and some beads from my bead soup: and this is the result!

Butterfly Fantasy
Butterfly Dreams

and another pic of butterfly Dreams for scale!
So these are the first attempts at beading buttons, and I am pleased with them. All I need now is a fabulous outfit to attach them to!
The problem that I foresee with these buttons is that I will not be able to stop at 2! I am already sorting out some turquoise and orange beads for buttons that really ZING!!