Be careful what you wish for …..

I mentioned to a colleague recently that a few weeks ago, before all of ‘this’ I came home late one night, cold and wet after waiting a long time for a bus that never arrived, tired and aching. I remember thinking at the time ‘I wish I could just stay here, not have to go out to work, just stay here and enjoy myself at home.’

So…. not that I think I caused this pandemic whole lock down thing but I did get my wish didn’t I? I have only left the house a few times since then for short walks and although it would be nice to be able to go somewhere I am enjoying the novelty of being in my house on leave.

I am usually away when I have leave so I have not spent this long in the house ever but am making the most of the enforced staycation. As I mentioned in the previous posts I am trying to get a good mix of sewing, reading, study on my online course and practical tasks done while I have the time.

My house has never been so clean and the garden has been done, I am just waiting for delivery of some bedding plants for my baskets, and today I painted the shed. I also got the garden table out in honour of what looks like a wonderful Bank Holiday ahead. Of course if we had been going to do a re-enactment event it would have been howling gales and packing up wet tents so we will all enjoy the fact that we are not doing that!

This week has been all about the Riley Blake block challenge for my sewing room time with a record five blocks completed up until today! You can see lots of lovely blocks over on their Instagram as we are now on Week 2. I have been using the Liberty stash as I want to add to my existing blocks, am going to eventually make these into a bed quilt.

The churn dash ones I was confident with and I am happy how they have turned out. I am using the same white on white print for most of these blocks, until it runs out, as I love the contrast between that and the Liberty.

Liberty churn dash block 3

This second block is the log cabin, a block I have never done before. Partly as I am not good at straight seams but I am pretty happy with the way that these have turned out. I used a tutorial from Citrus and Mint with very helpful diagrams.

Liberty log cabin blocks 1

I found it easier to cut 1.25″ wide strips from my length of fabric then cut them to size as I needed them as when doing the first block found that some of the pre-cut sizes that I had done were a little small.

The first two I used the white on white as a contrast row and then I did a more traditional layout with just three fabrics.The seams are not too wonky which is good!

Liberty log cabin blocks 7

Liberty log cabin blocks 8

Liberty log cabin blocks 9

I will make one more of these tomorrow, I am a little restricted for this type of block from Liberty as most of my stash is 5″ squares and the outer strips are around 6″ but do have a couple of pieces of longer fabric.My pin board for completed blocks is now looking very lovely 🙂

Board with Liberty blocks

I am looking forward to next week’s block and to moving on to the next week of the fashion course. We have been looking at the Georgians this week, the embroidery on the men’s coats is amazing and I have been lucky enough to see lots of examples of these in museums, we saw some gorgeous examples on our recent trip to Liverpool. That was the weekend of the dreadful Storm Ciara, we really are having a challenging 2020 aren’t we?

I have recently discovered another historical costumer through You Tube and she does the most amazing Georgian garments. Go and have a look at the wonderful things on Sewstine’s blog, she writes really detailed step by step posts about her constructions and makes the most wonderful things. This is a reconstruction of a 1780s gown and she digitised all of the embroidery herself, made the gown and had a baby in the middle of all of this process, what a superwoman! Picture from her blog.

Georgian dress

So over the weekend I have plans for some more Liberty blocks, more Barbie dresses, another coat of paint on the shed and probably a walk. I am back at work on Tuesday so am going to really enjoy this extended time in the house. We are probably going to be on lock down for another four weeks or so and that gives me plenty of time for sewing.

I hope all is good with you and your families, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Other things to keep me occupied

Hope you are all coping with lockdown, self isolation or still going to work if you are a key worker, if you are a million thanks for all that you are doing. All have their own stresses, and it is important that we find ways to stay occupied or stress free. Not that I really need any more projects but I find having some structure to what you are doing helps with what can otherwise be a week that just blurs into doing the same thing every day and it is also important that I don’t spend too much time staring at a screen.

I am officially back at work tomorrow but my lovely employer has given us extra days off over Easter as we have had a pretty manic couple of weeks so will only be working for two days this coming week. That and the fact that I am probably not going to need all of my leave this summer means that I am going to have the joy of having a long weekend on quite a few of the coming weeks.

It seems a little bizarre that I spent all of the first term working six days a week and teaching so many Saturdays and I am now working so much less. It is very nice though, I am looking forward to some more little walks like the very lovely one I had today, keeping up with my online learning and other projects.

One of these is going to be the Riley Blake Quilt Block Challenge. Many years ago I did a short quilt block challenge with some friends from my knitting group and although I found some of the blocks difficult I enjoyed the participation. I found out about this challenge from Amy at Diary of a Quilter and she is doing the first block, one of my all-time favourites, the Churn Dash.

I made several scrappy churn dash blocks a few years ago from this tutorial from Amanda Jean from Crazy Mom Quilts. I love using up tiny bits of Liberty like this. I think that I will use my Liberty stash for this challenge as well as I would like some cohesiveness to all of the blocks, but not make them scrappy as I am not sure that would work for all the designs.

Scrappy Churn Dash 1

Scrappy Churn Dash 2

Scrappy Churn Dash 3

Scrappy Churn Dash 4

I am not sure who else is participating as regards the designers for each block but you can find information on the Riley Blake Instagram. Since I now have an Instagram account I can join in and even use hashtags! This lockdown business is improving my IT skills no end, I have learnt to use Zoom, downloaded Skype though not yet used it, (a little late to the party I know), but my Mum uses it so am hoping I can chat to her more using it as well.

I have also discovered that I can get jigsaw puzzles on my I Pad which has made me very excited 🙂  I have a couple of puzzles that I bought from the charity shop just as we began working from home before lockdown and am also hoping to win an auction for some from Ebay this week. I love jigsaws and always do them when on holiday in Spain so having them here makes me feel more like I am on holiday. Now I have unlimited jigsaws and am especially happy with the ones of beautiful places from around the world. I may not be able to travel for the next few months but I can still look at lovely places.

So I have a busy week ahead planned. It is week three of my fashion history course and we are going to be looking at Georgian fashion. I have enjoyed looking at Stuart fashion this week, I always love the lace in these outfits as in this one dated 1610. Picture from Google search.

stuartfashion1

Take care whatever you are doing, have a good week ahead, stay safe and I will see you all again soon.

 

 

So many wonderful things to make!

I am making fairly good progress with my latest Barbie outfit but have had to ditch a little blouse today, note to self, thick satin does not work well on a miniature scale. I just could not get the seams neat enough as they were too bulky so will remake it with thinner fabric. I have managed to make a very cute little silk jacket though.

I have so many lovely things on the wish list, some of these will stay there for a very long time whereas others will probably find their way onto the ‘do now’ list soon.As you know I love all the work that Jenny of Elefantz creates and she has a new monthly series of stitcheries that I have recently subscribed to.

They are called Faith in Hand and are beautiful designs all featuring quotes from the bible. As well as the subscription she also sells them individually from her Etsy shop the following month.  This is one of my favourite so I think this will be the first to be made for me (picture from Jenny’s Etsy store).

Elefantz Faith in Hand

She also has a free block of the month with the 23rd Psalm again with gorgeous designs. She is so generous, there are always so many free stitcheries on her blog and I love visiting just to get updates on her life.

One of my other favorite places to go for inspiration is Lori Holt of Bee in My Bonnet. She has just finished a Vintage Block Along with some beautiful designs that she gives all of the very detailed introductions for accompanied by photos.

Lori Holt Vintage Block Along 1

The links for all of these blocks are at the bottom of the above link and I would love to make a quilt like this one day.I love that multicoloured star block in the top right of this second picture. (All pictures from Lori’s blog.)

Lori Holt Vintage Block Along 2

Her latest make is this gorgeous Vintage Housewife Sew Along . 

VintageHousewife-SewAlong_1

I really love the dress on the washing line as well as the cleaning stuff block.She has got some fab free clip art of the design in the guide as well as the overall plan on her first post in the sew along.

Vintage Housewife Quilt 1

Vintage Housewife Quilt 3

She has just made the first block which is this very cute oven.

Vintage Housewife Quilt 4

I would love to use some of these designs on their own as things like recipe book covers and think that this one below would make a wonderful sewing machine cover.I love the little quilt hanging over the edge of the machine.

Vintage Housewife Quilt 2

Ellen and I have a very exciting trip coming up next weekend as we are going to Liverpool to see this exhibition, An English Lady’s Wardrobe, at The Walker Art Gallery. Not that we need any more inspiration for beautiful costume but it looks fascinating. There is also an 18th century costume collection there as well! Exciting stuff.

I hope that you have a lovely weekend and week ahead. I am teaching tomorrow so will have to wait until Sunday to get back to the Barbie blouse. Take care and thanks for visiting and hopefully I will have lots of lovely pictures for you in the next post.

 

 

 

Happy World Embroidery Day!

To be honest I didn’t know it was World Embroidery Day today until one of the textile companies I subscribe to e-mailed me about it but it is, so many happy stitching returns to you all.

I was just about to start some new embroidery this evening so that is fortuitous. I have a new project that I will share with you in a bit. If you want to know more about World Embroidery Day you can find out more here. I particularly like the part of this description that says…

‘To embroider is a peaceful occupation. It can be traditional made from a common
remembrance, drawn designs, from a pattern, or from your own imagination. You embroider for joy, beauty, decoration and for the creation of identity.’ 

I am sure that all of us who embroider share those sentiments. The lovely Karen from ‘Did You Make That’ has recently taken up embroidery and talks about the different emotions different crafts give us in this post here. I love all of my crafts for different reasons, some can bring frustration as well as joy (the black velvet jacket that never was) but mostly they bring me peace and sanity in a frantic world.

I have been doing a little bit of crafting over the last few days, mainly as respite care from the increasingly frantic work on the doctorate which is due in exactly 2 months from today!

We have had some more people leave work under our latest voluntary redundancy scheme including my very best friend.We have worked together for 15 years and shared wonderful times together. I am very, very happy for them all as they  are off to enjoy retirement or adventures travelling the world but I am very sad to see them go so I made a couple of pouches as gifts for special friends.

Liberty star bag 1

Liberty star bag 2

Liberty star bag 3

These are from some of the blocks I made last year which have been waiting to be turned into something special and details of how to make the bags can be found in this tutorial here. The beautiful lace zips come from Buddly Crafts and I shall be ordering a little restock very soon.

Liberty block bag 1

Liberty block bag 2

The embroidery is part of a new hat for the Steampunk Asylum event in Lincoln over August Bank Holiday. I had contemplated making a new jacket but with the focus needed on the doctorate and a few minor household issues (one involving an expensive boiler repair!) decided that I needed something that would not add any stress.

So I am wearing the tablecloth jacket again but I am making a tea party hat to go with it. I had done some planning for this a while ago for another hat that I have not yet created but am well on the way with it.I loved wearing it last year with the sewing themed hat and it deserves more outings.

Steampunk event Alison 5

I will devote a whole post to the creation of the hat when it is completed but meanwhile here is a sneak preview of a very cute felt cupcake that will be part of the tea party. I have really enjoyed making these, as with the felt flowers it is a joy to work with all the lovely colours of felt and add little beads and embellishments. I used this tutorial to help me and found lots of different ideas and videos for all types of felt food.

Felt cake 1

Felt cake 2

In other exciting news with the help of my wonderful children we repainted the kitchen at the weekend and my daughter very enthusiastically Marie Kondoed the contents meaning I have far less clutter. I was very good and let lots of things go.

We also had a surprise visit from a herd of cows in the back lane. They were being escorted from a farm up the road when they made an unexpected right turn. This picture was taken as they were being escorted off the premises which is why is is a bit blurry. This is why I love living in Marsden, there is never a dull moment 🙂

Cows 1

Well I will love you and leave you and get on with some more of the hat, the embroidery is for a little sign that will say ‘everything stops for tea’ for the front. Take care, thanks for visiting and have a happy week whether you are embroidering or not.

 

A mini Hardwick Hall

Our last day of the staycation saw us at Gawthorpe Hall in Lancashire, another National Trust property. I have visited twice before but Mum and Ellen had never been. I particularly wanted Ellen to visit as the house was designed by the same architect as Hardwick, where she used to work and is a beautiful miniature version with an amazing textile collection. There are some historic rooms open but much of the public space contains the textiles collected by Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth.

Gawthorpe 1

Gawthorpe 2

Gawthorpe 29

Rachel lived there from 1886 until 1967 and collected over 30,000 pieces of textiles, from all cultures and for all uses.

Gawthorpe 24

She was an avid embroiderer and promoter of arts and crafts of all kinds which she taught to keep the skills alive.

Gawthorpe 13

This small display of ecclesiastical goldwork reminded me of my visit to the Elizabeth Hoare collection in Liverpool.

Rachel believed that creativity had health and and social benefits. I like to think that she and I would have been very good friends if I had ever been able to meet her, she sounds wonderful. The collection is maintained by a charity and works with schools and local communities as well as stitchers.

I love this display of her desk in one of the rooms, her stitching is on the walls and in the drawers are all the sorts of things she would have used, I love seeing this very personal side of stitching and can imagine her writing articles for embroidery magazines and deciding on new projects here.

There were some very similar pieces to those in the Women Travellers exhibition at Bankfield Museum that came from Eastern Europe and Asia.

Gawthorpe 22

Gawthorpe 23

Gawthorpe 21

The displays have changed since I last went about 5 years ago and there were so many wonderful pieces of whitework and lace on display.

These are two things I have never done but am fascinated by the delicacy of the work and think that the shawls and collars are beautiful. Maybe one day I will be able to incorporate something like this into a Steampunk costume.

Another thing I loved were these hexagons that she had collected, they had been fussy cut and posted to someone, probably as gift.

Gawthorpe 3

I think it is so exciting to see actual papers made of scraps, you can just imagine the sender making these and sending them to a special friend. There were also some hexagon needlebooks and you know how I love a good hexagon!

Gawthorpe 4

Gawthorpe 5

Rachel’s personal rooms also contained this wonderful bed with crewelwork hangings, I am really looking forward to the day when I have a hand- made quilt on my bed, I have one as a work in progress but it will probably be a retirement project as have not touched it for about a year. Luckily fabric does not go off!

Gawthorpe 30

Gawthorpe 31

There was also a display of contemporary embroidery inspired by the collection with some beautiful whitework pieces and silk embroidered birds and insects.

Gawthorpe 27

Gawthorpe 28

This case of needle work tools was also inspired by the collection.

I have been embracing Rachel’s philosophy very much this week, we are right in the middle of marking season, with the added work on my doctorate and so it has been wonderful to sit and stitch in the evenings. I have been working on a table decoration for my Make do and Mend display and so have been quietly doing chain stitch while watching Netflix, very soothing after a hard day of thinking!

I have transformed a man’s shirt into a blouse for my display as well and am now busy working on other aspects, luckily both Jake and I have worn through socks recently so I will be able to demonstrate my darning mushroom and darning egg and I have just got a copy of a vintage pattern for making some patchwork slippers so that is my next project for the event.I am really enjoying the research for the event and have been doing lots of very interesting reading. I have also just won an auction on Ebay for some clothing and food ration books to add to my artifacts which I am very excited about. I will do a post all about that in a little while but my next post will be all about the Haworth 1940s event that Ellie and I are going to this weekend.

We are very excited, Howarth is such a cute village, home to the Bronte sisters and I have not been to this event before, though we have done a Steampunk one there a few years ago. The tablecloth jacket will have an outing as I have decided it is a great example of Make do and Mend and I will be putting on my false eyelashes and red lipstick for a bit of 1940s glamour. I am aiming for something like the gorgeous Gene Tierney here.

Gene-Tierney-makeup-1940s-

As with when we do Steampuk it always seems strange to be wearing make up and costume as I am so used to medieval re-enactment and shapeless clothing and all my hair covered. It will be lovely to be able to have a bit of 1940s style and I can’t wait to see all of the gorgeous outfits there.

Hope that you all have a nice weekend planned, take care and thanks for visiting.

 

I’m a Barbie girl ….

Do you remember that very irritating song some years ago that started with this? I recall the lines about it being fantastic and plastic and it did remind me at the time of my own fun playing with Barbies as a child.

I loved making clothes and houses for Barbie when Ellie was little. I made an entire apartment out of cardboard boxes, including all of the furniture and we loved doing that together, visiting the DIY shop for large samples of wallpaper and using old carpet and fabric scraps.

I have decided to make some Barbie clothes as presents for the younger cousins this year as all of them have the dolls and enjoy playing with them but don’t have an extensive wardrobe. I am hoping I might be able to do a little bit of knitting for them as well, I have not knitted for ages but think my wrist would stand some small items.

I have bought myself a model for fitting purposes, she came from the local charity shop.I thought I might be able to make a pattern from the jeans she is wearing.

barbie model 1barbie model 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I do have a knitting pattern book from ages ago and have been looking up some new resources which I thought I would share with you. You can see that the owner of my doll also had the same knitting book, the ski jumper is identical and look at those fab 1990s disco outfits. I am sure I had some jumpers that were very similar at the time!

barbie knitting pattern book 1

barbie knitting pattern book 2

barbie knitting pattern book 3

barbie knitting pattern book 4barbie knitting pattern book 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was also looking at Barbie sets on Ebay and was so tempted.They had the original Country Camper on Ebay which I remember getting for Christmas one year and was thrilled, that obviously sewed the seeds for my love of camping and camper vans.

barbie country camper

There is a newer version as well which is fantastic, look at all the options you have here, and a pool!

barbie new camper 1

barbie new camper 2

This Sprucecrafts site has got links to ten other sites with patterns or tutorials for clothes.My favourite link out of all of them is this one Craftiness is not optional, not just for the wonderful blog name but also for all of the beautiful and very simple and adaptable ideas there are here.Pictures below are from the blog.

barbie dressbarbie skirt 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have also found a pattern for a little knitted shrug from this site.

barbie shrug

I am really looking forward to making some cute skirts and dresses with some of my Liberty fabric and my collection of lace, crochet and vintage embroidery. I was lucky enough to get these three new tray cloths on my charity shop trip as well and Barbie clothes will be great for using up the tiny scraps.

vintage traycloths jan all

 

I am planning to make more of the Liberty edged vintage log cabin blocks as below with these as well as eventually I would like enough to make a quilt.

vintage-log-cabin-block-11

I think it would look really cute to try and make some skirts for the dolls with the embroidery on the bottom using the tray cloth designs. If I can make it work for a whole jacket I should be able to do it for some Barbie skirts!

vintage traycloths jan 4

 

Progress on the Steampunk Vampire hunter outfit is going well, I finished embellishing the hat and umbrella some weeks ago and have bought some new lace gloves and the black skirt in the same design as the red and purple ones.

I am really looking forward to Whitby next weekend, not only is it a chance to spend time with Ellie. Kerry and James but I can’t wait to see all the lovely outfits that everyone is wearing there.

I was very pleased, after fruitless hours of searching on Ebay for bottles and printable labels, to find this gorgeous perfume bottle that I am going to use as a holy water bottle. It was in a local shop for the bargain sum of £2 🙂 Isn’t it beautiful? I am going to hang it from my belt.

steampunk whitby holy water bottle 1

steampunk whitby holy water bottle 2

I will take lots of photos for you and be back soon with those. Meanwhile have a lovely week ahead and thanks for visiting.

It was the last few days before Christmas ….

And all through the house there was lots of activity, making the last minute baubles, finishing off a cross stitched ornament and lots and lots of cooking!

I think I am done now. I am now making a few more baubles just to experiment with ribbon, some may be gifted next year as I think I am going to give these again for 2019, (nothing like getting ahead is there, though I may well find something new to make before then.)

Xmas ribbon baubles 1

I do love the way these ribbon ones have turned out, they are a lot quicker to do than the fabric ones as I have used less layers but they still look lovely. Some of the decoration at the ribbon intersections is pins and some little metal balls pinned on.

Xmas ribbon baubles 2

Xmas ribbon baubles 3

Xmas ribbon baubles 5

Xmas ribbon baubles 4

Earlier in the year you may remember I had a churn dash block craze and I made these two ornaments for my cousins then, I love the way that they have come out but didn’t realise until taking the pictures that the red fabric for the backing is on sideways – oops! The little charms are from Ebay here.

Xmas churn dash ornies 1

Xmas churn dash ornies 2

Xmas churn dash ornies 3

I did not get chance to make lots of other things this week as I have had a lot of marking to do so still have some pouches to stitch together after Christmas but luckily not everything sold at Yarndale so I have enough things for gifts.

I did manage a little apron for Ava my nearly two year old great niece. I have made similar ones from this tutorial here before.

 

I used the same fabric back and front to make it so it is reversible, the tutorial pattern has a pocket included but though I cut one out, (you use the armhole cutouts for the pockets), it covered up too much of the cute elephants on the design so it left it off. All of this came from stash and I think I have had the fabric for about 5 years, it came from my last trip to China!

I have made lots of delicious focaccia for the festive season along with a gluten free chocolate, ginger and orange cheesecake and some mincemeat blondies which are our new favourite thing here, they are like a very squidgy soft version of Christmas cake and will be delicious with the rum clotted cream that I am going to make 🙂

Our Christmas will be a little fragmented this year as Ellen is working tomorrow and Christmas Day and Jake is working Christmas Eve and Boxing Day so wonderful Kerry is coming tomorrow to take me to Ellen’s for two days and three church services, (two at beautiful Clumber Chapel), then Ellen and I are driving back here on Christmas Day after church to spend the rest of it with Jake. At least we will be together for a little bit. I am then off to Spain for two weeks.

So I shall say Happy Christmas to you all now as I won’t be around again until mid Jan, hope that you all have a very good festive season and a great New Year’s Eve. I will be at the Chinese restaurant in La Marina as usual, dancing and watching fireworks.

Take care and thanks for visiting and see you in 2019!