Sewing curtains, re-homing a crochet blanket and enjoying summer.

Last week I said I wasn’t allowed to buy any more fabric…. I have….

Ikea fabric for making curtains

Half a tonne of it. Lots of it. Loads. I’m making curtains, it’s totally legit. When I said I wasn’t allowed to buy any more fabric I had forgotten that I’d planned new curtains. It was not an impulse purchase but a careful, well thought out one. I started on the first curtain the other night but was scuppered by having bought the wrong header tape. I blame IKEA, I don’t think they do the normal header tape anymore and it wasn’t for normal curtains, it was weird. Anyway, by the time the replacement stuff we ordered from Ebay turns up, I’ll have hopefully sorted out all of the other curtains ready for the tape. I can’t wait to have new curtains!

a mixed up granny stripe crochet blanket

I got a request  from a friend on Monday night asking if I had a spare baby blanket they could have to give as a present for someone. Actually, I had three from leftover experiments. This is the one they chose. Unfortunately, it wasn’t actually finished. Thankfully I’d sewn in the ends already. However, it had no border so I had to quickly whizz around it a few times and find  a pretty edge that would suit a baby girl. This is the blanket.

mixed up granny stripe crochet baby blanket.

It was initially going to be for a baby I knew but once I’d almost finished, I decided it wouldn’t suit said baby and stored it away with all the other abandoned projects. Poor blanket. Luckily, someone else saw the potential in it and asked if they could have it. Yes. Good.

Mixed up granny stripe crochet blanket

There isn’t a pattern for it, it’s just a basic granny stripe mixed in with a variety of doubles, half trebles and trebles in a random order. I used Stylecraft Special DK. I quite liked it once it had its border added. The border was inspired by various different patterns I’ve seen around. It’s a bit hotchpotch.

sweet peas in the garden.

The garden is getting pretty again after its June lull. It makes me ponder what I need to do for next year, to ensure I have  colour in more places. I’ve noticed that the greenfly have come to party on my Sweet Peas.

beautiful sweet peas.

My six year old and I went outside this morning and snipped all the Sweet Peas and some Lavender to make posies for his teachers. It’s the last day of school today. I shook off the greenfly before he handed them over.

borage in the herb bed

There is loads of Borage in the herb bed, I didn’t realise it was such a prolific self seeder.  There are so many plants. It’s managed to travel to some other parts of the garden too. I’m going to have to keep on top of that.

Bee bum in the Borage!

The bees flipping love it. It would make me feel guilty if I took too much of it out. I’m going to have to keep it to one part of the garden but still make sure the bees have enough to keep their tummies full.

nastutiums over taking the veg patch

Bees are also having a great time in the Nasturtiums. I’ve spotted more bumble bees here as opposed to the honey bees on the Borage. I don’t know any other type of bees. I could well be mixing my bees.

I’ll soon be running the risk of repeating myself with the garden pics. I’ll need to look at past blog posts to remind myself of my blatherings.

Borage flowers. Bees love them.

Here, another one of Borage! I put them in ice cubes last year. Looked absolutely nothing like those pictures you see on Pinterest.

Sewing a simple skirt and how I added the pockets.

 

Simple sewn skirt pattern with pockets

Last week I decided to make a skirt from a pattern I’d spotted on Pinterest ages ago. I made it last Friday. The night before I drew out the pattern pieces I needed and cut out the fabric ready for the next day. The pattern is for a summery skirt on sewinglikemad.com which has the basic formula for the skirt and you kind of work out for yourself how it goes together. It has a useful link for making the waistband, which is much better than a plain elasticated waist. I also found a video tutorial to help me put the pockets together. I can’t remember if I’ve ever done pockets before.

pinning pocket facing onto skirt

This is pinning the pocket facings onto the front of the skirt. It was very easy to do and quite good fun. A step up from my normal sewing level, which isn’t usually adventurous.

sewing a simple pocket

Once I had sewn and pressed the facings, I added the main pocket piece to each side.

simple skirt pocket

What I should have done next was  gather the whole piece across the top. However, I had already gathered the front main piece of skirt before I’d attached the pockets. I should have waited until this stage. I had to do a teeny extra bit of gathering at the pockets to make it the same size as the waist band, ready to sew them together.

pocket sewn to skirt

This is it all stitched together. It didn’t take very long to get to this stage at all.It was definitely helpful to follow the link in the patten to make the waistband. I was so impatient, to get it finished I kept to my usual of 1inch elastic rather than three lots of thinner stuff. However, next time I will be up for making the smaller casings as it creates a really nice finish to the waistband.

homemade skirt with pockets

Not a particularly good picture but it is good enough to demonstrate what it looks like on. I’m enormously pleased with my new skirt!! My favourite bit is the pockets. I’m pretty sure I’m going to be adding pockets to everything now.

 

Handmade elderflowers are better than real elderflowers.

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I think it was the weekend of Father’s Day that we saw lots of elderflowers blooming in Grandma and Grandad’s garden. Six year old and Daddy filled a little trug with elderflowers because six year old wanted to make elderflower cordial. I hate the stuff, it sucks. I do not get why everyone loves it so much. Blurgh. Any way, seeing as he’s only  six, I obliged and helped him make a drink out of the pretty but stinky flowers.

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It was a made up recipe because we didn’t have things like citric acid. I whacked in a tonne of sugar and loads of lemon juice. It was far too sweet but mixed with fizzy water, we got away with it. He made me drink some.

Anyway, playing with these flowers gave me an idea for an elderflower without the stench. I quickly sketched out my idea and got stuck in. I decided to sew a brooch using felt. The last time I did felt sewing was when I made a cherry blossom needle case. It was one of my first blog posts and no one saw it!

beginning elderflower brooch

Cutting out the little flowers was a fiddly job. I didn’t bother using the templates for those, just cut little circles and snipped petal shapes into them.

elderflower design taking shape

I have white felt and off white felt. They are both different sorts of felt. I wanted to use the off white but I think it must be 100% wool because it is mega fluffy and breaks away at the edges very easily. I decided to make two brooches as I wasn’t sure which felt would be the best. In the above picture you can see I have used off white flowers on a white felt backing and vice versa in the other bloom. The extra woolly felt was definitely not good for the small flowers.

outer crochet purse

The beginnings of this purse is going to be the thing I pin the brooch onto. Originally, I was going to do it applique style and have the flower as the purse’s design feature. It turned out I couldn’t be bothered to do that so I added a little brooch clasp instead and that way I had a brooch or bag decoration!

To make the purse, I chained 34+1 and did enough rows until I was happy with the length before dropping the first stitch of every row for about eight rows (it might have been ten rows!). I then did six (maybe eight?)rows with a 2tgr at the beginning and end of each row. In the last three of those rows I made the button hole. To do this, I missed two stitches in the middle of the row and chained two instead. In the following row I made two single crochets in the space and then did the final row normally. Apologies, probably not the best instructions in the world but I didn’t write them down very clearly. Before fastening off it’s a good idea to go round the edge of the entire piece with single crochet for a neater result.

I used a 4mm hook and double knit yarn.

lining crochet purse

I sewed on the lining by hand and cut a hole for the button to go through. The button hole (also hand sewn) is messily stitched because I haven’t learned how to do it properly.

open crochet purse with lining

I folded the bottom up and crocheted the sides together (whip stitch would be good too). I forgot to go round all edges first with the single crochet, so I botched it, as usual. To rectify my error I attached some yarn to one of the corners and just single crocheted along the flap edge. Seeing as this is a prototype, it’s not bad. You learn as you go, I suppose.

a crochet purse with both elderflower brooches

I absolutely prefer the brooch on the right. It is brooch number two. The first one I used darker embroidery thread for the middles of the flowers and it  doesn’t work for me. I also went crazy with some dodgy french knots but they don’t work for me either. The flap is curling up so it looks wonky, but it isn’t really.

elderflower brooches

Yep, the left one is such a newb. Deffo the one on the right for me.

crochet purse with elderflower brooch

They look lovely together! I’m pleased now. I think, if I was going to get brave and open an Etsy shop, this is the kind of thing I’d want to sell.

elderflower embroidered felt brooch

So, that is the new thing I made.

Back to crochet this afternoon I reckon. And after a week of feeling rough I have my appetite back just in time for slow roasted pork and veg from the garden. All is good. Hurray!

A finished toadstool handbag and a self indulgent garden tour.

detail handmade toadstool bag

It was weeks ago that I cut out all the fabric pieces for this bag and because I’d never used the pattern before, I had some mild reluctance about starting. It always happens and I know it’s down to the fact that, at some point I’m going to have to concentrate. I am an easily distracted person. I did manage to find some time to focus and I am so pleased with the result!

sewing a mitred corner

I picked it up again a couple of weeks ago to make a start but it was abruptly stopped by a toddler waking from his nap and that means no sewing allowed. I got as far as basting things and stitching mitred corners. I was then disrupted by lost magnetic clasps. Should I even bother with them? Well, I’d bought them and one day they’d turn up so I really ought to give them a go. Two days ago I found them, so sewing resumed.

attaching magnetic clasp

Look! Look at the magnetic clasps! They are so snazzy. I actually put them in. And it was so straightforward. I feel silly now. My one disappointment regarding them is that I placed them too low. They need to be a couple of centimetres higher so that they’re nearer the top. I will know for next time.

toadstool bag detail

I’ve impresssed myself even if I haven’t impressed anyone else. There are straightlines for goodness sake. I never usually manage that sort of thing.

handmade handbag.

There are some untidy areas, such as the attachment of the handles. By that point I was sewing in the evening and getting distracted by the telly so I had some unpicking to do. Strangely I didn’t mind. However, I did mind a little bit when I got a random handle stuck to the handle I was working on. That was unnecessary unpicking. I used this tutorial at thinkliz.com and it was relatively easy. I got the fabric from Etsy.

Anyway, I have been randomly pushing it in peoples faces and parading round looking very pleased with myself, whilst I swing it on my shoulder!

pot plants

A quick tour of the garden in its current state. Here are some flowers I bought at Aldi (!). The salvia and the osteospermum are both Aldi bought.

sun after rain

This is the best hosta I have and I think that must be because it is in a pot. The others are down the bottom of the garden, which once weeded I shall take a photo of.

potted lobelia

I’m starting to wonder if most of this year’s annuals are actually bought from supermarkets because I think this lobelia came from Tesco! I’ve grown them from seed in the past but I’ve had a very lazy year.

pesky horseradish

Yep, the snapdragons are from Aldi too. Beginning to feel embarrassed. Look, I’ve spotted rogue horseradish trying to invade again. The winter before last I spent days digging the biggest hole ever trying to get rid of the stubborn roots…. So, that worked :\

pansy

Pansies from um, Aldi. But that blue salvia isn’t, I grew that from seeds I collected. That is going to look amazing in a few weeks. They all will, I have five or six of them.

nasturtium starting to flower

Self seeded nasturtium. It used to be a deep red but is slowly turning to orange. Each year the orange takes over a little bit more. I still like it.

 

first sweet pea

I was surprised to spot the first sweet peas yesterday. These are one of my favourite flowers. They smell gorgeous and I totally love them. I love you sweet peas!

Some random crafting and baby vegetables

mohair shawl

I made this  a couple of weeks ago. It is a mohair mix that used to be a jumper in the 90’s. It was unravelled by a 92 year old woman and remade as a shawl by me for her daughter (my Mother-in-law!). The pattern is the Elise shawl I found on Ravelry. It was nice and straight forward to make.

blocking crochet

It needed blocking, which I did directly on the bedroom carpet. I don’t have any fancy blocking boards (if such things exist). I’m not sure this method is recommended but it works for me.  Any way, it turned out well so that’s all that matters.

handmade reversible bag

As an accompanying gift to go with the shawl I made this reversible bag. The tutorial is  clear and easy to follow. A few years ago I made a knitting needle case for my Mother-in-law out of the same fabric so I thought it would make a nice matchy matchy present. If I remember correctly the fabric was from Ikea. I probably bought it about four years ago. Hmm,  I obviously didn’t press this bag very well.

hook yarn and crochet

I also made up a very quick project from the book Hook, Yarn and Crochet by Ros Badger. I bought a ball of King Cole Cottonsoft DK especially for this one. This was beautiful stuff to use. I’d love to make a baby blanket out of it but can’t justify it at the moment. If any one I know begets a child then I might consider spending the extra to buy some.

blue crochet lamp shade

It’s a lamp shade cover! Now I’ve remembered that I still haven’t sewn in the ends yet, as soon as I finished it, it was shoved straight on. Maybe I’ll do that job today. It left the room a little bit darker but I like it. With the left overs I made four little coasters but I haven’t taken any pictures of those.

first veg

At the beginning of the week I came with up some excuse that these new vegetables were ready to eat. In reality they were super small and probably needed a weeny bit longer suckling from their roots.

baby courgettes and broad beans

Nevermind, we ate them anyway! I fried them in butter with garlic and lots of salt and pepper. Looking in the garden yesterday, everything has replenished and there are definitely some spoils to be had. Properly grown this time I reckon.

Good, now I feel as though I’m catching up with crafting projects. I have a few things half done and some things waiting to get started but I’ve also ticked other things off the list, which makes me feel better.

A quick sewing project and garden changes

purple lining zipper purse

I enjoy little sewing projects. Usually, they’re  easy and don’t take that long to make up. Just before the weekend I made two identical purses to give out as presents for two birthday girls.

two pleated purses

I didn’t do so well with pressing, meaning, I didn’t really do it. And I should have. They would have looked really tidy if I’d been more careful with the iron. I didn’t not get the iron out, but neither did I use it every time I needed to. Rush rush and being lazy. Also, with a good press, both bags would have opened without the lining repeatedly getting stuck in the zip. One did, one didn’t.

sewn purse with pleats

The tutorial is by Skip to My Lou, and it is really easy to follow. I think it looks a bit more special than a plain purse. The only problem was that the zips I had were too short, so I added a small strip of extra fabric to each end of the zips to make up the length. I got the idea from here at fishsticksdesigns.com and I’m really pleased with the effect. Also, in that tutorial the zip is top stitched, which would help to stop the lining getting stuck in the zip. And, don’t sew too close to the zip teeth, that helps.

pink foxglove

The garden is in a lull. I think it is a common occurrence in June. All the spring flowers have gone or are looking sadly scruffy but the true summer flowers are not yet at full gusto.

erysimum wallflower

I’ve got straggly areas that I don’t know what to do with and they could look much better with some planning. Next year I would like some sweet william and centaurea please. The erysimum is a new addition and I like it, hope it’s happy too.

lupins and a busy bee

The lupins are now tired, however, the bees think they’re awesome and have been buzzing around them constantly. I will take pictures of other plants from now on, these have had their moment.

baby courgettes

It’s time to move on to the veg patch. Things are beginning to appear! I’m excited as I can be about courgettes coming. I’ve also got flowers on the sugarsnap peas and runner beans. I’ve had a couple of batches of spinach for dinner too. It’s all a bit behind other years, I’m sure, but I’m starting to feel relief that production has begun.

baby apple

And, I am so pleased about the apple tree. This is only the second time that fruit has decided to turn up to the party. I bet they get some hideous disease and wither from their branches.

playing in the garden

I love my garden. I hate chunky, plastic garden toys. I do like these wooden blocks though. There is an old baby walker they belong to. I’m not sure where it is at the moment but the blocks have been sat outside for a couple of weeks.

Anyway, This was a bit of a mish mash of garden pics that I’m not really happy with. I think it’s dissapointment that the thrill of spring flowers has past and I don’t know what is going to happen next…. Apart from some crochet, I  know that that is going to happen next. I’m going to get a move on with turning some circles into a blanket.

Sewing machine adventures and walking in the country

sewing machine

This is my cranky old sewing  machine (it’s not mine, it’s my Mum’s). It likes to be used a certain way and it has taken me over two decades for me to really understand it.  I reckon it’s been that long anyway. I’m sure this was the machine I was allowed to use when I was little.

toadstool bag in pieces

Here are the pieces of my toadstool bag. Hmm, I was going to try and add a magnetic clasp to this to make it proper snazzy.  It’s not something I’ve done before. Sadly, I’ve lost my recent purchase of said magnetic clasp. Shame.

purse sewing pattern

I didn’t get very far with the toadstool bag before I realised that birthday presents had to be made for the weekend. Two small purses are being made from a really good online tutorial at skiptomylou. I’ve used the pattern before, about a month ago and I really liked it. Deffo a go-to recipe for a nice present.

new crochet owls

I’ve also been working on a crochet pattern this week. I’m excited by it. Way more than I thought I’d be. These are the prototypes that I’ve been working on. I typed up the pattern and handed it out to my crochet friends for testing. It turns out that pattern writing is tricksy. And because it’s so tricksy, it is far from being ready to release into the wild. Soon.

red salston manor

I had a lovely time on Tuesday evening. I went for a walk along the river Otter. These are the chimney tops of Salston Manor, I can’t believe it is sitting empty! Absolutely bonkers.

There’s a group of  people who meet regularly to walk around nearby places. Nice places, obviously. And no dawdling allowed. This time, we managed to squeeze in a quick drink at the pub too!

sunset bridge over river otter

I took a ridiculous amount of photographs but never really stood still to take them. Therefore, I have a huge selection of blurry pictures and only a few that managed to refuse the blur .

cows at sunset

The first time I joined the Weekly Walk I didn’t take my camera. Then when I did, I didn’t make an effort to use it properly. Tsk.

cows in a field. sunset

I don’t really mind cows. They’re OK. Moo.

Deciding what to blog about

I bought new fabric!

I can’t decide what to blog about today. I fancy having some random pictures is the thing.  I bought some fabric a couple of weeks ago from a shop in Exmouth. Gorgeous fabric, expensive fabric, birthday money fabric. I have no clue what I will be making with it. Every now and then I stare at it, then I put it away in the fabric drawer.

vintage books

Last Thursday I went to Exeter for car mending and lunch. There is a bookcycle place down the bottom of the high street. The books are free but you give a donation (however much you feel the books are worth). Three per person, but I stole Husband’s allowance too. I found Ladybird books!!ladybird books

More Ladybird books to add to my collection! I love Ladybird books. I love jumbling for them, car booting for them and finding them in charity shops. They’re getting pricey these days though and hard to find.

basket of tricks

I’ve been rooting through my basket of tricks this week. It’s a massive mess in there but it’s full of all things awesome.

needle in the eye

I got the basket out to make some felt eyes for a project I’m working on. It’s mostly a crochet thing. A new pattern I’ve invented all by myself! A friend is going to help me design a PDF thingummy so that, I can maybe put them on here to download and ultimately (one day) sell stuff on Etsy. Or some such thing. Maybe. It’s alien to me at the moment but it’s important to learn new skills I suppose.

sunny garden

Here, more gardens pictures, ha! Next door is like a building site, I pretend it’s not there.

lupins and peony

The peonies are out but I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. They’re not that great. The clematis is on its last legs.

baby lupins

The best thing about the lupins is the leaves. A fantastic contrast to boring roundy leaves. There are loads of colourful spires on this one too.

lupins afternoon sun

Anyway, I think  I’m going to go and sit in the garden now (after I’ve done the washing up and hung out some laundry).

garden bench

And lastly, in this random collection of pictures, I would like to say Thank You to Joyful Solitude for nominating me for a blogging award. Wow! Such a fabulous thing to happen so soon. Must be doing something right! I googled it and haven’t found where the specific award comes from. My gut feeling tells me not to accept because I dont know what it is. Well, actually I’d love to accept but there are conditions of acceptance which, to me defeat the purpose of this space, which is that it is mine and I want to do my own thing.  To accept the award you’re supposed to tell seven things about yourself and nominate ten others for the award. I might be shooting myself in the foot, maybe I can defer for a while instead? I’m being a pooper at a party about such a nice thoughtful thing. Eh, I’m still thinking. Also, I’m still adjusting to blogging. It takes me ages to do any thing. For five years I said “I’m gonna start a blog tomorrow.”

hotwheels

Sorry, one more thing. My eldest (6) requested that I post this picture of his Hotwheels car. Here it is sat on a dusty shelf.

crafting projects await.

working on a continuous join as you go

These are things that I am supposed to be working on but really, they’re just sitting on the shelf waiting. I will finish them soon. Other things I’m more interested in have taken over.

woolly wormy ends

I’ve completed the worst bit of the latest blanket; sewing in the ends. I am useless at crocheting over them as I go and sometimes you can see them in the finished product anyway.

crochet circles ready and waiting

It’s enormously satisfying to see them in a nice pile once the nasty bit is over.

Laying out crochet circles

I laid out the circles in an order that would do (there’s no point in overly fussing about this) and got started. I use the photo to make sure I keep on track. I also have a stack of each row high up on a book shelf, out of reach of the kids.

starting a continuous join as you go

I’ve only used this technique once before. Crocheting in a continuous join. I found a great tutorial at babylovebrand.net via Pinterest.  I couldn’t work it out on my own. I gave a half hearted attempt to design a method myself but meh, it was too much hard work. It’s fabulous that people share this kind of thing. It’s been a huge help.

hooking together crochet circles

I got about two rows in when I realised my mistake. I had made what I thought was all of the centre circles when I decided I wanted some green too. So, I quickly worked up about 10 green centres and went on my merry way with the rest of the rounds. When I came across the first of the green centred circles I thought it was  one off, but no. It turns out, all the green centred circles have only 15 spoke thingies, not 16. Bum. I’m going to have to make them again. Don’t want to.

sewing pattern for a bag

This is a sewing project I have waiting. It’s all cut out but I haven’t started it yet because I want to put a magnetic clasp doodah on it and I never have before. New things wait until I find the patience to give them my full attention. I know that it’ll be wonky. I know. I’m a slapdash sewer. Anyway, it looks like a lovely project and it’s another Pinterest find from thinkliz.com. I’m making the big version.

simplicity sewing pattern

This is a project that has been waiting a long time. I bought the pattern about two years ago. Last month I found some fabric and finally cut out the pattern pieces. Once again, It’s waiting, sitting on the shelf waiting to be made because I should probably try to adjust the pieces so it’ll fit me. I love sewing but I don’t remember the last time I made an actual dress. It was probably when I was a teenager. The fabric is from Fabricland,  I bought it when I went to Southampton.

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