Friday, 30 March 2012

I saw three ships...

... come sailing in! three more sailing boat cards. And a picture of them all packaged and ready to go to new homes! xx

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Seaside cards

I have had a weeks holiday and spent the first 5 days in beautiful sunny Devon. Although I love Bristol, Devon will always be 'home'. My time by the sea inspired me to create some seaside cards, summer is definitely here!! xxx

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

patchwork stockings

I thought I would upload some photos of the stockings I made at christmas... I KNOW, it is 20+ degrees outside and only a few days until easter.. but when I blogged about making the stockings in my 'unseasonable Christmas post' I could only find one rubbish picture... but I've now mananged to locate the better photos on my mum's laptop... so here they are. Please take a look at the old post for details of how I made and decorated the stockings including instructions on machine embroidering names.

Happy Easter!!! hahah xxx

Fabric galore...

I am at home in devon for the week, basking in the glorious sunshine and enjoying the gardens of the new house. I have also indulged in my other favourite past time; charity shop shopping and fabric hunting combined!! We have a local charity shop that is always full to bursting with beautiful fabric and vintage teacups. In a charity shop in Bristol these would be marked up in price to the point where vintage can cost you more than buying new! But here in lovely devon I managed to get this bagfull of pretty florals for a mere £4!

decorating the new house...

So this is my Mum and Neils's new house,

They have just moved in but I viewed the house a while ago so I made their christmas presents with the house in mind. The kitchen is very country cottage, complete with four door aga and beautiful green country doored cupboards... perfect for draping bunting over and adorning with hanging hearts...

I found the fabric for these hearts in a local charity shop and I absolutely love it! the red and white fabric is a beautifully soft vintage linen, where as the cream is a thick, delicately patterned silk. I felt that the red and white hearts were the statement of the piece so I used just one large cream button to decorate those hearts, whereas the cream hearts are embellished with ribbon, buttons and lace to add detail and texture. I prefer these to the cream/black and floral hearts I made for myself ( but I only got a twinge of jealousy as I hung them up because they look much more at home in a country kitchen than they could in my flat!!

This bunting is strung with twine to give it a more rustic feel. The flags are alternate white and red stripes and strawberries on a white background. They look at home with the cake stand/tins and tea cups! Can you spot the homemade cards from the previous post in the background? xxx

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Machine embroidered card using magazine cuttings.

I have used a sewing machine to make cards in the past and loved the layered effect and the extra texture and detail it gives to a card. But I had forgotten just how much fun it is to stitch bits of paper and fabric and magazine cuttings onto a card... It feels a little bit wrong but very fun to use your machine to sew on paper! Now bare in mind before you start that sewing onto paper and card is probably going to blunt your machine needles, so get in an extra pack (they only cost about £1.90) that you can use for this purpose and remember to change the needle before you embark upon another project. The card I made today was a new house card but you really can use this technique to make any card, in and style, for any occasion.

To make this card I used
  • One piece of White A4 card folded in half. 
  • A few pages from this months Cath Kidston magazine... a great source as it has loads of glossy pages of beautiful patters and cute designs. These magazines are free and remember they often have seasonal articles which makes them great for making seasonal cards... iv got mothers day and easter sorted with one free magazine! 
  • Several buttons
  • Several machine threads in different colours. 

Sorry the Photo is sideways! 
Choose your design or a theme that matches the occasion. My mum has just moved to a beautiful big old country house with lots of land and the aim is to get some chickens... now handily enough there is a big 6 page article in the new Cath Kidston magazine about their new fabric design... chickens! Perfect. So my simple design was a few chickens, cut from the magazine, clucking around in the grass amid some pretty button flowers and with a big sunshine beaming overhead. simple and a little childish maybe, but this is what springs to mind when i think of spring time and chickens. So I lightly glued my cutouts in place to hold them steady, and then using the embroidery foot on my machine I used a freestyle stitch to sew around the out lie of my chickens, in different colours, using the stitches to highlight details like their wings and faces. 

I used the same technique to sew the rest of the card, including the stems and leaves for the flowers, the sunshine, the birds and stitched over the lettering to spell NEW HOME. I finished off the flowers with buttons which I hand sewed onto the card. 

I'm really sorry the photos are sideways... My mac is getting very very old and the newer programs will only seem to upload from the original... so even if I rotate the photo after i upload it blogger doesn't seem to like it! I promise I will take the photos with the camera the right way up in future. haha, good job my sewing machine isn't as technical as my computer!! xx

Machine embroidered card using fabrics

I'm sorry, but uncharacteristically I'm going to start this post with a rant... I went into a shop this week to look at mothers day cards... now I had intended to make a card anyway as I always feel this is more personal and demonstrates a little bit more love and effort. However there are some very pretty shop bought cards around and I know my mum likes the pretty shabby chic ones... BUT even the most rubbishy, boring cards with no glitz or sparkly or anything that stood out were at LEAST £3... and most of them were up to £6... for a piece of printed cardboard that they mass produce!!! I can understand if they are handmade because it takes a lot of time to handcraft individual cards, but these were just printed cards! Now this is not a dig at any particular shop... because they are all the same... I live within a 5 minute walk of about 20 well known shops that sell cards and this was the standard price, crazy!! Soooo rant over, I am going to show you how to make very pretty cards using items that you already have lying around the house!!

To make these cards you will need:

  • A sewing machine (although you can make beautiful cards using hand embroidery... but that is for a different post!!)
  • Several old scraps of fabric, one square piece approximately 10x10cm, one in a different print approx 5x5cm and one in another print again approx 3x3cm. 
  • A template of a bird (or whatever you want your design to be... but this example is a bird) which an be found on google images, although mine came from the Cath Kidston SEW! book. 
  • Machine thread in different colours
  • A piece of card, I bought some nice blank card sets in my local craft shop today, 5 for £1.90 including envelopes. Although you can use regular card to make it cheaper. 

To make this card I first used the embroidery foot on my sewing machine to sew the branch onto my backing 10x10cm fabric using freestyle stitch. Using different colour fabric I stitched tiny flours onto the end of the branches. This again was done using freestyle stitch, Im a big fan of this stitch as you can tell from my other posts because of the freedom of movement it gives you and the shapes it allows you to create... there are no boundaries to your creativeness when using this stitch, but you do have to be a little bit brave and just go for it! I then used my template to cut the shape of the bird out of my 5x5cm piece of fabric. Then from my 3x3cm fabric I cut the shape of the wing. I placed the bird on the branch and used the freestyle stitch to sew around the outside of his body, adding lovely detail and attaching him to the backing fabric at the same time. I did the same with the wing using a different colour thread. Finally I used the machine to stitch him a tiny eye and suddenly he came to life! I used fabric glue to glue the backing material onto the card and it was nearly finished. I added a silver "with love" sticker as the finishing touch and it was ready to send. 

I used the same technique to make another card but using different material and some slightly different machine stitches... 

I have to say I think I prefer the freestyle stitch on the body of the bird in the first card compared to the zigzag stitch in the second... but its all about experimenting and discovering what work best. 

Happy mother's day Mummy and to all those lovely mums out there xxx

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

2 New card designs

These cards are made from scraps of material, machine stitched and with button and embroidery detail. I never form a design in my mind before I start... I have one key idea, for example the teacup was the only thing I have decided upon, and the bunting just kinda sprung up as I was sewing. And on the other card I started with the bunting and had no idea a house was going to appear on the card until it actually did! I played around with putting deck chairs under the bunting but it looked a bit sparse... so this is how it turned out. All of my cards are one off and made from odds and ends, so no two will ever be identical. If you would ever like to order any cards let me know what design you're after and I'l have a go!!! xxx

Monday, 12 March 2012

crazy paving patchwork

This style of patch work is different to that used in the cushion I previously bogged about. Rather than using square patchwork pieces, this time I have used various size and shape pieces. This technique is perfect for using up old scraps of material that you have lying around and turning them into something beautiful. First I cut a piece of wadding to the correct size, 52x52cm, this acts as the base which you then stitch the pieces onto. The first seam is created by lying one piece of material at the edge of the wadding facing upwards (see step 1), then lay a second piece of material facing downwards on top of the first so that they are now face to face and pin (step 2). Sew along the edge of the two pieces, directly onto the wadding using a straight stitch. When you open the top piece both will be facing upwards and attached to the wadding (step 3).  

Step 1: first piece of fabric....
Step 2: Pin second piece of fabric face down...
Step 3: sew along edge using straight stitch and open out...

Continue to lay pieces of fabric face down along each new raw edge and sewing in the same way until the whole piece of wadding is covered. The following Photo shows the seams where 5 pieces of fabric meet. You an see that unlike square patch work these pieces do not run parallel to one another so they meet in random places, this creates the crazy paving effect. This technique is Easier than square or hexagonal patchwork when working on a small scale as you don't have to be as precise in lining up the seams. This is a technique I got from Kirstie's Homemade Christmas and used it to make Christmas stockings, see the unseasonable christmas post for a link to the directions. However I found that when working on a larger sale with smaller pieces of fabric it was very difficult to get the pieces to cover the wadding without leaving unfinished seams... so very sneakily with one of the pieces I folded the edge under to make it look like a seam so no rough edges were showing, and relied upon the binding to sew the edge down... i wonder if you can see the slightly bulkier seam bottom left of the last photo where the res striped material meets the strawberry material! sneakily done! 

This photo shows the seams where 5 different patches meet. Unlike square patchwork you can see that these patches meet in random places and do not align.
Close up of freestyle quilting technique
When the wadding is completely covered you can use this to make your cushion, or If you wish you could add further detail and texture as I have by quilting the whole piece. There are many quilting techniques out there, most of which are much more complex and time consuming that this one... and often require very expensive machines if you want to do a whole quilt. I like the freedom that this method gives, and the crazy effect you get with the finished piece. Very simply attach the embroidery foot to your machine that allows you to sew freestyle, remembering to lower the teeth. Start anywhere you like on the piece and put your foot down, remembering to keep the piece of fabric moving at a steady pace in order to keep the stitches even. move the material front to back and side to side, allowing the stitch to loop back over itself to create this crazy loopy quilting. Continue until you have covered you whole piece. And TA DA, finished, your piece of patchwork quilt is now ready to make into a perfect 50x50 cm cushion cover!

This photo shows the finished piece, this will become the front of a cushion,  The lighting has made the quilting look a bit crazy but in real life you don't see the quilting until you are very close. You notice the patchwork first and the quilting is mainly to add texture. (can you spot the bulkier seam bottom left??) 

Saturday, 3 March 2012

unseasonable christmas post!!

Sorry to be blogging about christmas while the sun is shining!! The reason I initially dusted off my sewing machine was to make my own christmas decorations and presents, and it re-sparked my hobby, so I thought it only right that I post a few photos of the things I made for christmas. I made a personalised christmas tree decoration for everyone in my family, 7 in total. Each decoration was the shape of a christmas tree, made from a patchwork of scrap pieces of christmassy material. I embroidered each name onto the decoration, which was difficult because I had lost my embroidery foot so I had to do squarish letters using a normal foot! thankfully I bought a new embroidery foot before I sewed the names onto the stockings... much easier to do it freehand! Then I decorated each christmas tree hanging with different beautiful things, lace, ribbon, buttons, pretty thread and decorative machine stitches! Sadly I only have a picture of these two, both for men in my family, which is a shame as I think the girly ones are prettier, but they are now safely stashed in the loft for next year so no chance of taking any new pics. The last photo is a picture of our pretty, and very christmassy fireplace. Now, the hearts and star decorations are very pretty, but sadly shop bought! However the stocking on the mantelpiece were made by me... its not a very good picture and I do have some close ups somewhere, I will post more when I find them. The stockings are patchwork, with a wadded lining and lined with lovely soft material. When designing the stockings I used the directions from kirsty's homemade christmas:

I then decorated the stockings with pretty lace, ribbon, buttons and embroidery. I made four, each personalised with the persons name, this time using the embroidery foot... again I do have a close up photo somewhere of the names. When I use the machine to write words, names or patterns I generally use a pencil to write or draw faintly upon the material. I then just freehand embroider using an embroidery foot, the trick is to keep your machine sewing at a steady pace and to keep the material moving so that you don't get a build up of stitches in one area. And then just go for it, and don't worry too much if you don't stick completely to your original stencil, it is supposed to look freehand. You can apply all of these skills to any project. again, apologies for the slightly unseasonable post, enjoy the sunshine, spring is definitely here!! xx