crafty

Laura Ashley Guest Post: How to make a westie dog doorstop

Well hello folks and Happy Friday! I hope you've been enjoying this glorious sunshine. I'm just popping in briefly to let you know that I've written a guest post for the Laura Ashley blog today, showing how to make this lovely westie dog doorstop from one of their craft kits.

It's been a while since I've done much sewing (moving house rather does that to you, although that was, ahem, 10 months ago!), so this seemed like the perfect project to ease me back in. It was quite a novelty having everything I needed all ready for me in a box. I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it and am pleased to report that my sewing machine has been busy whirring away again since then. 

You can find my step by step guide to making this lovely doggie door stop on the Laura Ashley blog. Dare I say it might be a possible Christmas gift idea?!!

Cushion cover tutorial on Bibelot Magazine

Fancy having a go at making a super simple cushion cover? Well head on over to the Bibelot Magazine blog to find my easy sew tutorial - absolutely no zips required! I do warn you, though, that it gets rather addictive - before you know it, your house will be stuffed full of cushions and beautiful fabric ;)

While you're there, do have a good browse around - there are lots of interesting reviews, how to's, interviews and bits and bobs to get you thinking. Bibelot is described as follows:

Bibelot, “The Little Book of Creative Curiosities”, will be a quarterly craft, design and lifestyle magazine celebrating the hand-made, the ethical, and the unique. Bibelot is about more than craft projects; it represents an imaginative and sustainable way of life. Readers will feel stimulated, uplifted and motivated. Bibelot will begin its life as a blog, an online hub bringing artistic, original and innovative people together. It’s a space for sharing ideas, learning and sparking inspiration!

What I've been making lately(ish)

It's been a while (4 months!) since I did one of these posts - ahem! But in my defence I have been rather busy with house selling, hunting and buying shenanigans - and that's not over yet! I think there's a very good reason it's up there with the most stressful life events! Anyway, I digress.... In order to keep my sanity, the sewing machine has come out to play several times....

I made the tote bag above and below back in August, just in time to take away with me on my summer hols. I thought I'd try adding a pocket for a change, with some precious little pieces of Alice Apple fabric - I think the prints co-ordinate perfectly with the main vintage sheet fabric (my all time favourite print). The tote bags are the perfect size for carrying around Blythes, so they get used a lot, as well as being a pretty display on my wall :)

I then made a little batch of pencil cases and coin purses for presents (below). I'd been itching to use the bunny fabric I'd bought a little while ago, together with the contrasting polka dot fabric - don't they make the perfect partners? The little birdy purses were made from some fabric remnants I picked up in Cambridge - I love the colours together.

Then it's back to the tote bags again and my favourite fabric. I made the bag below for my sister's birthday and thought I'd try a little bambi pocket this time :)

I had a special request from my sister for some embroidery hoops with vintage fabric to display on her wall - not a problem :) I enjoyed rummaging through my stash and picked out these favourites (below). I also couldn't resist making another cat cushion from the pattern by Modflowers from Mollie Makes issue 39. This fabric worked perfectly as the print wasn't too strong - I think he might be my favourite cat yet! I even attempted to use the applique stitch on my sewing machine for the first time on the eyes, ears and nose - rather tricky round the curves - but you've got to try these things, right? You can see my other cats in the My Makes set on Flickr.

And last, but not least, it's another tote bag! I'm addicted to making these - such a lovely way to use and display favourite fabrics. This time I didn't add a pocket as the print was so fabulous and psychedelic, I didn't want to cover any of it up (the fabric came from the most gorgeous of fabric shops: Rainbow Vintage Home). I used another strong print for the lining - think they work well together.

And that's it! But not for long - I have plans for some cushions with some more wintry looking fabrics - time to change the summer ones! TTFN, Zoë x

What I've been making lately, in-between the DIY

After my last (rather epic) what I've been making lately post, I promised myself I wouldn't leave it so long next time. So here I am with a little round-up of recent makes. Not quite so prolific as other months, as I've been busy painting lots of walls and doors and door frames and skirting, which hasn't left much time or energy for anything else!

So, first up, we have some more cushion covers in some lovely summery vintage fabrics. I like to refresh things quite often, and cushion covers are a great way to do that. I've made these in a simple envelope style using vintage sheets, with a contrasting fabric for the back. The fabric behind the bambi (which I didn't make by the way - he's a maileg bambi) is my all time favourite print and I was literally jumping up and down for joy when a package containing s super king sized sheet in this fabric arrived by sea all the way from Canada :)

Next up is the very lovely Harvey the rabbit. He's from a pattern by Chloë Owens from her latest book Chloë Tells You How. I was lucky enough to win a copy of this book and it is pure eye candy, just like her last book. It's full of beautiful illustrations and photos and is a bit of a cross between a girl's annual from days gone by and a sewing book. There are so many things I want to make, just as soon as I get some time.

Harvey was probably the trickiest thing I've attempted to make so far - those skinny arms and legs are very fiddly and it's a bit mind boggling sewing them all in inside out and upside down! So I'm rather pleased with him. I had so much fun (read spent a very long time!) choosing fabrics - his ears even match his bow tie :)

Then we have a couple of cat cushions :) These are from a pattern by the lovely Modflowers in Mollie Makes issue 39. The first two images show the first kitty I made from vintage fabric (front and back) and the third image is the cat I made for my cat-loving grandmother-in-law for her birthday. This one was made in a contemporary fabric for a change: Josephine's Bouquet by Amy Butler. I loved how the print placement looked a bit like eyebrows :)

And last, but not least, we have another tote bag in a super gorgeous, super soft fabric. I just adore the print, and will enjoy carrying it around with me this summer :)

What I've been making lately - bumper catch-up!

Goodness, I've just realised that it's been a month since I last blogged - where has the time gone?!! We've been away to Cornwall for a week (photos coming soon - why oh why do I take so many.....) and I've been busy making things - quite a lot of things actually. I hadn't realised quite how much until I started putting this post together. I've definitely caught the sewing bug - making things yourself is just so satisfying! It's also the perfect way for me to indulge my love of fabric and vintage prints without feeling quite so guilty about stockpiling them ;)

So, what have I been making?

Well, lots of purses, glasses cases and pencil cases. I adapted my cosmetic bag pattern to make all of these. The glasses case and pencil case have some soft wadding inbetween the fabric to protect their contents. I love how light the glasses case is - perfect for carrying around without even noticing :)

There have also been some tote bags. I absolutely love this pattern - it's such a great way to use and display vintage fabric. And it's the perfect size for carrying around Blythes! I've actually used my tote bags quite a bit - in fact, I'm itching to make more! I think I might try adding a contrasting pocket to the front (and maybe the inside) next time.

I also made this little set for my mother-in-law in a gorgeous contemporary Amy Butler fabric for mother's day - it seemed perfect for spring! I absolutely love choosing a complementary fabric for the lining too - these little green eggs felt like a perfect match.

I wanted to use up some of the smaller bits and pieces of fabric I had, and some pretty scraps, so decided to make a batch of lavender bags. I'd taken some away with me when we went on holiday as our travel bags smelt musty from being in the attic and I popped them in our drawers. They gave me so much pleasure, I resolved to make a batch for our drawers when I got home. I love how they look altogether :)

And last, but by no means least, is a little collection I made from an absolutely stunning Echino fabric by Etsuko Furuya. I'm a huge fan of Echino fabric, and completely fell in love with this stag fabric. It took a fair bit of hunting down on the internet to find a supplier - this lot came from

modes4u.com

in Hong Kong. I made the little black and white collection as a birthday present for my husband (the most manly fabric I had!!).

And I just adore the combination of the pink polka dots with the aqua (another Echino fabric) - the cushion covers were the first thing I made. The fabric is a linen and cotton blend and is pretty heavyweight - perfect for cushions and cases :) Although I have to say the black one is now completely covered in grey cat hair - Poppy is particularly fond of it!

So there you go - I'll try not to leave it so long next time!!!

What I've been making lately...

During my career break I was determined to sew and make as much as possible - something I never had time for before. I absolutely love creating things - sooo satisfying.

I've really been enjoying joining in with Allison Sadler's #makeitsewcial on a Monday - it's great to have a reminder and a gentle prod to get crafting. For those of you who don't know about it, Allison basically encourages everyone to get crafting on a Monday and to upload pictures of what they've made to Instagram tagged with #makeitsewcial. It's a really lovely way to connect with others who enjoy crafting and is very inspirational too - I love browsing the #makeitsewcial gallery on a Monday evening to see what everyone has made. Allison usually posts a tutorial for an easy make every Monday too on the People Shop blog and later in the week picks a crafter of the week and shares a selection of things people have made. Lots of fun!

I was absolutely delighted to win crafter of the week a little while ago with this pyschedelic tote bag I made. It's very hard to do the colours justice in a photograph - the pink really is luminous. I used some polka dot fabric for the lining - I didn't have enough to line the whole bag in the same fabric (I just had a fat quarter of each) so decided to use some contrasting colours on each side - rather pleased with how that turned out. It's the perfect size to carry your magazines around with you :)

Another week I made some more lavender bags in the same psychedelic fabric, plus a couple of kitsch kitties from my gorgeous Michael Miller fabric (you may remember the cosmetic bags I made in the same fabric for Christmas):

Back in February I made a little Blythe bedding set from scraps of fabric left over from making my cushions. More pics of this can be found in my In need of a colour fix post.

I've also become a little bit obsessed with pom poms! They're just so happy and cheery and such a lovely pop of colour - just what we need during the darker months. I first made a pom pom garland to drape over the mirror in my dining room. I think I made the pom poms a bit on the big side, but it's really grown on me and I love the colour so it's definitely staying :)

I then decided we needed another one and when we put the fairy lights away, the empty space under our fireplace was just crying out for a pom pom garland! I use the Clover pom pom makers and they are super easy to make - very satisfying indeed :)

And finally, we have my kitty felt collage. A bit of a departure from the usual sewing, but when I saw this pattern by Alice Apple pop-up on the Kitschy Digitals website, I fell in love! I ad-libbed a bit as I didn't have all the colours the pattern required and I made it bigger than it was supposed to be. I then decided to make use of an existing frame which was bigger still, so I extended the hessian backing by sewing on a length of my favourite pyschedelic floral fabric (it honestly was the best co-ordinating bit of fabric I have!!). The colours are VERY bright. It's such a happy piece and is now hanging in our bedroom where it makes me smile everytime I see it. It's a really easy make - lots of cutting and sticking and a little bit of embroidery - definitely channelling my inner child with this one :)

Cushion makeover time

I've been stockpiling lovely vintage fabric for quite a long time now and am so pleased to finally get round to making something with it. I decided it was time to change our cushion covers - a relatively cheap and easy way to refresh our living space. The first challenge was to choose which fabrics to use....

I knew I wanted something happy and bright to cheer us up during these dark winter months, so this led my choice for this first lot of cushions. I used fat quarters for the fronts, but needed bigger pieces for the backs, as I decided to go for the envelope style. Turns out that I don't actually have that many bigger pieces - need to hunt down some more vintage sheets :)

Fronts on the left, backs on the right:

For the second lot, I had bought some gorgeous aqua, green and purple fabric (once an old bedspread I think) that I hoped would co-ordinate well with the aqua theme in my bedroom, and my aqua owl shelf. I was so pleased with how they turned out and how they look in situ - such beautiful colours! I used a vintage sheet for the back of the cushions.

The last lot of cushions were dominated by purple. I thought the bold print would work well with the blue and purple barkcloth lampshade in my sitting room :) I used the same vintage sheet for the cushion backs as before - one sheet goes a very long way! Not so sure about the purple M&S fabric one in the middle, though, am feeling like I need a bit more pink now! Might have to go and have another rummage in my stash....

A handmade Christmas

This year it's been a rather handmade Christmas. With me not working at the moment we are rather counting the pennies, so handmade made sense financially. But I have to say it's been an absolute joy to have the time to be able to make presents. And having recently completed my beginner's sewing course, what better opportunity to practice?!

I absolutely loved making these presents - from choosing the fabric to cutting to sewing and stuffing - it's been so much fun. And now the presents have been opened, I can safely share some pictures with you :)

First up is a cosmetic bag I learnt to make on my sewing course - I really loved the pattern and thought it made a lovely and very useful gift. I chose the gorgeous kitsch kitties fabric by Michael Miller for this one, as I knew the recipient had a soft spot for this print. And I must confess I loved it so much I had to make one for myself too - but with a different coloured zip for a bit of variety. I chose an aqua polka dot fabric for the lining, as I thought it complemented the colour scheme well. And I had lots of fun making some custom gift tags for the (vaguely) professional touch!

The cosmetic bag seemed like such a good idea, I made more in different fabrics. I knew my sister loved the Tammis Dogs fabric made by Michael Miller (a Tammis Keefe tribute fabric) and I stayed with the same lining fabric I used in my course, as I knew this partnered well. I also fancied making some lavender bags, as I think these are great to pop in your sock drawer or wardrobe - or just to have hanging around looking pretty. So I made a very simple template and got cutting and stitching!

Then, more of the same, but in some different fabrics that I thought the recipients would like. I was very pleased with this pairing of a black and white floral print and polka dots - and the pop of colour provided by a hot pink zip.

I was also very pleased to find a pack of ribbon I had bought from Paperchase a while ago knowing it would come in useful someday. It was perfect for the hanging loops - and I had a lovely choice of colours.

They are definitely not perfect, but I was pleased with them all the same - and I think the recipients were too, which is what matters. I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and are enjoying some R&R. TTFN, Z xx

Crafty bloggers' evening at Cath Kidston, Oxford

So what do you get when you mix a bunch of Oxford bloggers, the Cath Kidston store in Oxford, mulled wine, delicious noms, and some Xmas crafting activities? A whole lot of fun, lots of chatter, much distraction, photo taking and shopping!

I had a really fun evening with NatashaVickiCathrynCatherineDina, and Rosalind. The lovely people at CK had laid on a marvellous feast and prepared some very pretty crafting tables, ready for us to make our own Christmas decorations from a kit.

Bloggers' crafty evening at Cath Kidston, Oxford
Bloggers' crafty evening at Cath Kidston, Oxford
Bloggers' crafty evening at Cath Kidston, Oxford
Bloggers' crafty evening at Cath Kidston, Oxford

We started very enthusiastically, but it wasn't long before the temptations of an empty Cath Kidston store lured us away from crafting.... It was all looking so pretty and so Christmassy.....

Cath Kidston, Oxford
Cath Kidston, Oxford
Cath Kidston, Oxford
Cath Kidston, Oxford
Cath Kidston, Oxford
Cath Kidston, Oxford

I just adore the wallpaper that runs up the staircase - I'd love a feature wall in this....

Cath Kidston, Oxford
Cath Kidston, Oxford
Cath Kidston, Oxford
Cath Kidston, Oxford
Cath Kidston, Oxford

I completely fell in love with the mushroom print and came away with some fabric (I'm thinking tote bag, with a red polka dot lining to start with...), a mug and a plate :) And those pastel spoons looked so good with it, so they came along too...

I think I went a bit mushroom crazy - LOVE this print!
I think I went a bit mushroom crazy - LOVE this print!

As we were leaving, the very lovely people at Cath Kidston pressed a goody bag into our hands. This was inside...

Our goody bag
Our goody bag

As I was rather too distracted to finish the task at hand during the evening (I blame the mulled wine and fabulous company!), I finished sewing my santa back at home and he now has pride of place hanging on the fireplace :)

Cath Kidston Xmas decoration I made

Thanks so much to Charlotte for arranging the evening and to everyone at Cath Kidston for looking after us so well - it was lots of fun.

It's a big day for Cath Kidston today, as the new flagship store in Picadilly has just opened (the largest in the world!). Definitely on my must visit list the next time I'm in London. And watch out for those Cath Kidston taxis!!

My new best friend

I've wanted to learn to sew for ages. About 5 years ago I bought a tiny John Lewis sewing machine. It was red and looked very pretty. But I didn't know how to use it so it stayed in its box. For years. Much time passed and I went on a "make friends with your sewing machine course" which was good, but I never seemed to have the time to practice (photography was always so much easier...) and I didn't know where to start really with following a pattern, etc. So more time passed and my little red machine stayed in its box.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when I had the pleasure to attend an intensive sewing course for beginners with Louise Paeman. It took place over two Saturdays and as well as covering how to use your sewing machine, we actually made some things, learning how best to place our patterns on our fabrics, how to cut out, how to follow a pattern, how to sew in a zip, and lots of useful tips and tricks. I absolutely loved it and can highly recommend Louise's courses if you are in the Oxford area.

Just as I was about to get stuck into the first bit of real sewing at the end of our first day, my little red machine decided to die. Louise kindly lent me her machine and my goodness, it was a dream! Chalk and cheese! So to cut a long story short, I decided on a beautiful new Janome sewing machine for my 40th birthday present. I love it! It's my new best friend. And at the moment, I am particularly relishing the speed control - as you can see I have it set to tortoise speed :)

The first thing we made was a reversible tote bag. I chose some beautiful vintage fabrics - the large print is Roundelay by Jonelle (not sure who made the lining fabric).

Tote bag I made
Tote bag I made
Tote bag I made

Our second make was a cosmetic bag. I decided to use a different fabric again for the lining, which made it more complicated, but I love the contrast. We used iron on interfacing to give the bag some support so it would stand up OK. And we gave it a flat bottom - and a zip! Not bad for the second thing I've ever sewn on a machine!

Cosmetic bag I made
Cosmetic bag I made

I found the fabric when I was on holiday in the USA, in a tiny store on Mount Desert Island in Maine. It is a Tammis Keefe Tribute by Michael Miller Fabrics called Tammis Dogs.

You can read more about Tammis Keefe in this great Tribute post on the Making it Fun blog

- I adore her designs. I wish I'd bought more, now...

Cosmetic bag I made
Cosmetic bag I made

I'm rather pleased with my makes. There are some wonky bits, but you don't really notice them. And I'm going to make more - this machine is not going to hide in a box!