Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Curtains - progess report

The rolls of fabric I'll be using

Curtain no.1 in progress.
As you can see, I have a lot of fabric to deal with.  In fact there are 36 metres of fabric in each curtain, when you tot up the curtain fabric, lining and interlining.  Goodness knows how many miles of stitching I will have done by the time I've finished!

The sewing is actually really easy, but with so much fabric, trying to iron the seams etc is a nightmare.  The most difficult bit so far though was trying to get all three layers in order and inserting the buckram.  I literally had to crawl inside the curtain to do this!  Anyway, now all that is left to do on curtain no.1 is the pleating and hemming now.  I'm going to leave the hemming until I've put them up as I think the floor is uneven.

However, the Christmas tree is now up and in the way, so even if I finish the pleating before Christmas, we won't actually hang the curtains until 2013.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Curtain up II

In the prequel to this post I told you all about my sewing plans for our home and we've now finally reached the second project in that list.

I must admit that I can't wait to have curtains in our living room again.  After the new windows were installed we applied 'privacy film' to the living room windows and used the curtains that had previously been in the living room to replace the hideous blinds we'd inherited in the bedroom.  I can't tell you how nice it is to draw the curtains in our room every day.  It feels like such a luxury after two years of dirty, dusty venetian blinds!

Having said that, I'm also daunted at the prospect of making such HUGE curtains out of silk for the living room and also trying out a new curtain top to boot.

I've made numerous pairs of curtains over the years and have even tried my hand at roller blinds (although they weren't exactly that successful - let's just say it was a rather expensive lesson in how not to cut a straight edge by following the pattern in the fabric!), but the curtains have all had good ol' pencil pleat headings.  But for whatever reason, I've decided to go for triple pleats this time.

I may have mentioned once or twice (!) that they're going to be HUGE curtains, but naturally, you've no idea why.  Well, firstly we have a lovely bay window in our living room which measures about 4.5m in width.  We also have very high ceilings on the ground floor, so the curtains will be almost 3m long too!  As I asked here, how do I save myself from 'drowning' in so much fabric?

If I ever surface from the sea of fabric, I'll try to keep you all posted on my progress!

Monday, 19 November 2012

The holidays are coming ...

Not that I usually quote adverts, but ...

Anyway, I've had rather a productive few days preparing for Christmas and thought I'd shout about it a bit.

I spent my birthday last week and some of the weekend happily sewing presents for various members of the family.  I promise to post some photos of them soon, but just in case any of them read this, I don't want to spoil the surprise.  Although I could be tempted to post some cryptic shots so as not to disappoint the rest of you - so watch this space!

So, along with some shopping DH and I did at an eisteddfod over the summer, we have 7 presents sorted and 'only' 5 family members to go (and we've a few ideas for some of those) and nearly all of DH's god-children's and our foreign friends' presents have been bought too.  So that is the bulk of the Holiday Headache cleared.

And to add to the festive excitement, a robin decided to visit my DS's kitchen last week and wasn't keen on leaving before they all left for school/work!

Don't you think that deserves a glass of mulled wine?!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Catching up

I've been feeling guilty about not blogging much recently, so I've been reviewing what I've written and thought I'd at least give you an update on my reading progress, even if I haven't managed much of my UFOs, long list of projects etc.

In fact, I used to be the slow reader of the household and was constantly amazed at the speed DH could get through books (he's been known to read a whole book on a flight, and not a long haul one at that!).  But recently, he's reading less and less and I seem to be reading more (and speeding up a bit too).

So here are the additions to my previous list:
Through a Glass Darkly - Donna Leon (set amongst Murano's glass manufacturers)
Doctored Evidence - Donna Leon
Ellis Island - Kate Kerrigan (another work library contribution)
Long Song - Andrea Levy (after enjoying Small Island, I thought I'd give another of her books a go, but found this one hard going)
Tapas - selection of Welsh short stories by various authors, a refreshing change
Getting rid of Matthew - Jane Fallon (a bit of frivolous fluff!)
Anna Karenin - Tolstoy (and the complete opposite of GRoM above!!  A long, hard read.  Can't say I warmed to Anna and Vronsky, much preferred Kitty and Levin)
The Innocent - Ian McEwan (set in Berlin during Cold War; phone tapping etc; a bit of a disappointment)
The Tiger's Wife - Tea Obreht (Balkan best seller; different to what I usually read; intriguing)
Endlich - Ildiko von Kürthy (another German chick lit by an author I've enjoyed in the past - didn't think she was as successful with this one)
The Miracle of Grace - Kate Kerrigan (Spotted it in the work library and as I'd enjoyed Ellis Island and remembered reading about this one, thought I'd give it a go.  Surprisingly uplifting story considering the circumstances)

Following a trip to Amsterdam, I'm now re-reading Anne Frank's diary and finding it extremely moving - more-so than the first time - especially after visiting the Secret Annexe.  As a school-girl myself, I remember being struck by her ability to forgive others.  This time I feel so concerned about her relationship with her mother and that they probably never got to resolve things and also by the claustrophobia of the situation.  They must all have been going round the bend being cooped up in such confined quarters for so long - no wonder there was constant tension between them.  This time she also strikes me as being a great character and quite mature for her age, but as she says herself, she had to face things that not many other teenagers had to face, and coped admirably with it all.  It has just struck me how appropriate it is to be reading this at this time of year.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Pretty in a Pinny

Well hello - it is nice to be back with you all!  Please accept my apologies for my long absence.  It has been rather a hectic time since my last post, but we're finally getting straight again (and de-stressing in the process!).  And my, what a difference it has made already.  The ground floor is already much warmer and cosier.   The new windows are lovely and we planted ALL the bulbs (with a little lot of help from my parents).  Unfortunately, I didn't quite manage to finish the painting jobs as I'd hoped, but that will all be done next week, along with new curtain poles in three rooms (made by my lovely friend, Nia).

Right, back to the business in hand.

You may recall that back in February I mentioned some lovely craft/sewing books I'd acquired and that MIL requested that I make her an apron from one of them as her Christmas present.

Well, that time has come and I really need to get on with it before larger projects get in the way (eg living room curtains).

The book in question is the Liberty Book of Home Sewing and it is full of gorgeously, tempting projects to wear around the home and for the home.  My lovely MIL is a very keen cook, so an apron is just the thing for her, although I suspect that this one (as seen on Katherine Hannaford's Double Exposure blog - I'm dying to know if she managed to make every project in the book!) won't be her 'working' one, but more for show!

Having browsed through the book again (and drooled!) and chosen fabrics for MIL's gift (more drooling), I also got thinking about other projects in the book that would be fun to make and am now seriously considering some others as Christmas presents and possible additions to our home.  I'll keep you posted on how I get on with these soon.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Getting cosy

Since my last post things have been quite busy 'chez nous'.  To be honest, I've no idea where September disappeared to and October is rapidly disappearing too!

We'll be having our new windows installed this week, so we've both (DH and I) been trying to get other odds and ends out of the way before that.

So, what, I hear you ask, have we been up to?  Well, sloppy paintwork has been cleaned off glass (a job we could really have done without, 'dear' builders!), dodgy TV signals have been seen to, privacy film ordered, bulbs delivered (and finally all have arrived), greenhouse guttering connected to the water butt, wood knots on double-doors have been sanded, sealed and painted (again, another job the builders didn't do very thoroughly), and, most messily, under-floor 'insulation' (aka bubble-wrap and polystyrene) has been removed from the cellar in preparation for nice new (and clean!) insulation.  A lot of the polystyrene was coming loose already, but we hadn't really thought how much of a fire hazard it was - and goodness knows how a good pile of cigarette butts found their way between the bubble-wrap and the wooden floor-boards!!!!  Little did we know it, but we've been living in a bonfire waiting to happen for the last two years!

[pictures of rubbish and dust]

So, in addition to the above, we've also started installing lovely Welsh wool insulation beneath our living room floorboards to keep out the winter draughts.  We're not quite finished yet, but, once we are, we should be beautifully cosy this winter!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

New treats

There is great excitement in our house this week, as we have ordered all the fabric for our living and dining room curtains!  I'm not sure how many times we did the maths before placing the order.  I think I went over the sums about four times in the end - just as well, as at one point I'd calculated the drop as the width!

The fabric was delivered on Tuesday and the linings should come any day.  Then, all I will need is the header tape and plenty of time and space to make them!  I have a feeling the spare room will be commandeered for the job!  And with a bit of luck, we'll be all cosy in time for Christmas DesiSmileys.com

Monday, 17 September 2012

The world is your ... embroidery kit?!

Don't you just love holidays?  Travel is one of the many things DH and I have in common.  He's done a lot more of it than I have, but we both love it.  We've both lived abroad too and would love to give that another shot sometime before we're too old.

Over the years we've both collected lovely souvenirs from our travels and our home is decorated with many of them.  I must admit that DH has a very good principal when it comes to buying presents and souvenirs - get something that someone can use or need/want, rather than just buying for the sake of buying and the item collecting dust in a cupboard somewhere.

Since being together we've bought a beautiful rug (India), a St Bridget cross and butter dishes (Ireland), garden lantern (Wales) and a Benjamin Franklin quote print (Philadelphia). We also have Chinese script, south American textiles, African masks, Aboriginal artwork, Czech prints and a few Christmas tree and Easter decorations from our various solo trips.  We do tend to buy a tea towel or two while we're at it too and in our collection there are some from South Africa, Ireland, Belgium, Sweden, Brittany, the London 2012 Olympic Games and Australia.

I love to try to buy embroidery magazines while I'm abroad too, as they are often slightly different to what you'll find here.  But my ideal souvenir is to find an embroidery kit that shows something typical of the country I'm visiting.  It isn't always easy though, but I have managed to get a lovely May Pole from Bavaria, a banner of typical/well known Norwegian buildings, a Swedish Christmas banner, a map of Brittany and some Quimper faience pattern 'samplers' and I also have a provencal table cloth from a visit to my cousin when she lived in Toulon.
Bavarian may-pole - when I replace my camera I'll add a better photo!

Map of Brittany by Philomène

Greetings from Norway - typical buildings

Provencal table cloth and napkins
We were fortunate enough to be in New York for a week when the Icelandic volcano struck and caused havoc with international travel.  What hardship to 'have' to stay there for an extra week!  During the second week I discovered a lovely little embroidery shop around the corner from where we were staying and I went to see what I could find.  I discovered an embroidery 'designer' called Prairie Schooler which has a lot of folk-art style designs.  In the bargain bucket I found "A Prairie Year II" booklet - 12 designs, one for each month of the year - which I thought would be quite practical for a pretty, quick stitch as a card or small gift.

Before leaving NYC, I showed the booklet to our hostess and asked whether she'd like one of the designs and promised to send it to her once I'd finished (with the caveat that I'd no idea how quickly I would manage it!).

It is just as well really, as I saw her again a fornight ago - for the second time over here since our visit there in 2010 - and realised that I still hadn't finished her design.  Well, to be honest, I finished embroidering it ages ago, but haven't made it up into anything yet.  I'd also embroidered another two designs, one for Christmas (but that hasn't turned out as successfully as the other two as the background fabric is a bit pale) and one with a beehive design for another couple we know who keep bees.  I've filled them both with dried lavender so they not only look pretty, but they also smell heavenly. 
Prairie Schooler lavender bags

Yet another UFO to tick off my long list.  How do you think they turned out?

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Let's start at the very beginning...

The other day, when I was writing about UFOs, I was looking through a zip-lock bag I have of bits and bobs I've made - you know the type of thing, a free kit from a magazine, a cute kit you've fancied but once made up you've no idea what to do with or where to put it ...  Well, in amongst all of this I found some of my earliest embroideries and thought that I'd share them with you.  Hopefully you can see how far I've come since I started!!

My very first project was this tray cloth.  I found an old biscuit tin filled with embroidery silks that belonged to my maternal grandmother and it was that that triggered my obsession with embroidery.  She died a little over a year before I was born and had left this tray cloth unfinished.  So with her help, it started my 'career' with embroidery.  No prizes for guessing which part my Nain did and which is mine!

After finishing it, we showed it to my grandmother's sister, also an excellent embroideress, and the following Christmas I got the kit for this tray cloth from her.
The following pictures are pieces I made at school at various times - I'm sure you all recognise the style!  Unfortunately, I'm really showing my age with some of these!!  I'm not sure whether it was while we were sewing the top or the middle one, but my class had taken our chairs outdoors as it was so sunny and were sewing outside our classroom when one of the boys realised he'd sewn his 'sampler' to his shorts!  I wonder whether that was the end of Ben's sewing career?!

I also remember my DM being mortified when she saw the middle one and asked me to unpick some of it, but I never did.  I was so fed up with everyone discussing who they thought had shot JR in Dallas while we were all sewing that I lost my rag and 'confessed'!!  I suppose it dates it and is quite apt now, as the new series has just started over here.

PS: apologies for some of the slightly blurry photos - my camera isn't well and focussing is a bit of an effort.  I suspect it isn't much longer for this world.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012


Part of the reason for this blog was to get me back into regular crafting/embroidering.  And it has certainly helped with this.  I've also found that I think a lot more creatively/artistically since I started blogging and pinning.

Another 'side effect' of blogging has been the desire to complete my numerous UFOs or WIPs (the more I blog, the more I 'get' the lingo!).  Don't worry, I haven't suddenly changed the subject of my blogging to the extra-terrestrial.  Far from it! For the uninitiated amongst us I'm talking about UnFinished Objects or Works In Progress.

I was googling UFO to make sure I'd got the correct abbreviation for blogland and came across this blog, which made me feel so much better about some of my UFOs/WIPs (I really hope she manages to finish the quilt she started when she was expecting her daughter, 30 years ago!  But it gives me hope).  I also thought I'd follow the example and list my UFOs/WIPs so that we can all keep track of my progress!!  I just hope I don't regret this!

UFOs completed since starting Sew and Siw

Provencal napkins to match table cloth - started c.1998

Prairie Schooler 'cushions' - started c. autumn 2010
Breton napkins to match DM's tablecloth - started c.1999, completed May 2013
OK, I haven't exactly made great progress - but it's a start!  And I have started AND finished a few new projects in the meantime.
And this is what I've got left...

Spring flower tapestry cushion - started in 2008, although bought a couple of years earlier!
Table runner from East Friesland - started as an au-pair in 1991 
Granny's pair of tray cloths - goodness knows when Granny started it (and goodness knows when I'll finish them both!)

Thursday, 6 September 2012


It's that time of year again.  Summer holidays over and everyone thinking of the 'new year'.  A depressing thought?

Well, not for DH apparently.  He finds it quite exciting (he likes plans!).  As a result, we spent some of the bank holiday weekend planning our autumn ... and that comprised of creating a number of lists!

A list of people we want to see
A list of things we want to do
A list of jobs to organise
A list of jobs in the garden
A list of jobs in the house ...

The list of lists goes on ...

Naturally, in the middle of all these lists, there is a list of projects for me to sew (with one or two extras by me that aren't part of the above listed lists!).   So, here it is (in no particular order) for you to help keep me on track (and check up on me!):
  • Tidy kitchen blinds (I know, I made these months ago and still haven't tidied the odds and ends up!)  Hooray, I finally finished them! And I've now also altered them to fit the new windows - happy me!
  • Replace spare bedroom curtain linings (thoughtfully shredded by sunlight and cats) - one down, one to go!  Almost there now, just need to finish the pleating and rehang :-)
  • Buy living/dining room curtain fabric (a warning - there will be miles of this when I get it as the windows are ridiculously tall) and allow some extra fabric for matching/coordinating cushions
  • Make up living/dining room curtains (is there such a thing as a 'life saver' to prevent you drowning in fabric?!) - see above re cushion covers too.  Hooray - finished sewing them, just need to finish hemming them now!
  • make new white blouse/tunic for self using Amy Butler Liverpool pattern (as a test piece for making a patterned one for DM and me)
  • make apron for MIL from Liberty book I had for Christmas last year (in time for Christmas this year)
  • Make bread basket and tea cosy for kitchen out of left over blind fabric
  • Start designing anniversary sampler for DS (significant anniversary not for 23 months, so I have a little time!)
  • Start designing bicentenary sampler for church (not sure I'll make it for the bicentenary, but certainly to mark it)
  • Make/embroider some Christmas decorations as gifts for this Christmas (or maybe just sew some Christmas gifts)
  • Order fabric for bedroom curtains (once pole is in place) and make up, also cushion for chaise longue and throw and cushion for bed
  • Cover lampshade for bedroom (if we still can't find one we like and can afford!)  We found a lovely one in the Grand Bazaar in Instanbul
OK, let's be honest.  This list is likely to keep me out of mischief until well into 2013 and beyond, but we can but hope!

PS:  I'll try to remember to strike through those I manage to finish as I go along.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Peas in a pod

Oh goodness, I'm not very good at this posting lark, am I?  My apologies for my absence over the last few weeks.  To be honest, I was on holiday for two weeks (and busily embroidering for you instead).

Well, I have finally finished the sampler for my friend's little girl (mind you, at the rate I'm going, she'll be married before I've ironed and posted it to her!).  So she and her brother will now have 'matching' samplers.

I embroidered the 'brother sampler' shortly after he was born:
And have adapted the design to suit a girl, as you can see, by changing the colours and some of the toys depicted.  My remit included her favourite colour (purple) and that she's a horse fan, so I've done my best to include those requests.
There were a few dilemmas as I progressed, including the colour of the alphabet around the edge (it started out green!), were the 'little ladies' in the centre too pale, and most crucially, which letters of the alphabet should I put on the blocks!?!  Actually, it isn't as daft as it sounds really.  As you will see from the 'brother sampler', they have A, B and C on them, but as his name starts with G, that was easy (see the individual block on the right).  But with her name starting with B, I thought the 'sister sampler' would be a bit repetetive if there were two blocks with B on them.  Instead I opted for the end of the Welsh alphabet (which follows the original design by Brenda Keyes anyway).  I also thought of putting a B on the horse's saddle, but decided against it in the end.
Please post your comments on the two samplers - I'd love to hear what you all think!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Madame Defarge strikes again

Last week I was at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod.  I've been going there since I was a baby and during my teens (at the height of my embroidery obsession) I used to take my latest project with me and sit in the pavilion during the competitions and stitch.  We always sit in the same block and over the years have got to know the others that also sit in the area and a lovely man from Windsor, who we'd see there with his wife every year, started to call me Madame Defarge, from A Tale of Two Cities, because I'd stitch while the competitors danced/sang - a bit like the character knitting while the poor victims of la guillotine faced their terrible fate.

So, Madame Defarge was back again at Llangollen last week, stitching away as the choristers and dancers fought it out for first prize!  And I made some progress on my sampler (which will be the sister sampler to the one in 'They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace') at last.  I still have a way to go, but considering I'd only managed a couple of letters of the alphabet border and the bulk of the name before last week, I'm quite pleased with my progress.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

“A man is known by the books he reads” - Ralph Waldo Emerson*

I know that this is meant to be a craft blog, and that I got distracted by the roses in the garden the other week.  Well, it has happened again, but this time it isn't the garden that has distracted me (well, how could it with this weather?!), but books.

I've been looking at all sorts of lovely blogs and pinterest boards recently, and quite a lot of them also mention books they've read/are reading/enjoy.  So, I've decided to do the same - we'll see how well I keep it up in the months to come!

So, since the beginning of June I've read ...
Julie & Julia - Julie Powell (the book of the film about French cookery that stars Meryl Streep)
Das Caffeehaus - Roman Rausch (a German novel about a ... you guessed it ... a coffee house, set in Würzburg, where I lived for a year)
Code to Zero - Ken Follett (I'd already read this, but hadn't listed it so thought I'd missed it!)
White Out - Ken Follett
Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman
Auf der anderen Seite ist das Gras viel grüner - Kerstin Gier (another German novel - chick lit this time)

I'm rather proud that I've managed to read two novels in German in as many months.  It has been ages since I've read in German for pleasure and high time too.  Whenever I go there, I buy myself some books in the hope that I'll read them and improve my German, but they seem to end up collecting dust on the bookshelves.  I bought the first over the Jubilee weekend when I was in Würzburg and the author is from the town, so it is lovely to read about familiar places/streets.  The second was bought on my birthday trip to Berlin in the autumn and had been waiting patiently for me to finish a fascinating (but heavy) diary of a women in that city at the end of WWII (need I mention, that I still haven't finished it?)

We have a library at the office where people donate books and you can borrow them for as long as you want (v, v handy!).  That is where I got the two Ken Follett books.  I've read quite a few of his books and tend to buy them in charity shops or jumble sales, but the office library is another great place for them.  As I mention above, I keep a list of books I've read dating back to just after my graduation when I felt I could finally read whatever I wanted, rather than what was on a reading list!  Somehow or other, though, I noticed recently that quite a few of my favourite authors' books hadn't been listed - hence how I thought I hadn't read Code to Zero.

*When I was looking for a quote as the title of this post, I was tempted by Maud Casey's "I was born with a reading list I will never finish" - like so many lists in my life!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

There is no rose of such virtue

I know these photos aren't anything to do with sewing or embroidery, or even crafts, but I couldn't resist sharing our beautiful roses with you!
Handel (we think!)

Handel again - this was in the garden when we moved in

Cariad (Welsh for love) - a gift from MIL

I'm cheating here - this is a sneaky peak over the fence to our neighbours' lovely apricot beauty

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Neat and tidy

On my long list of jobs to do I've had one item for ages, namely making a replacement pouch for my manicure set.  I bought a handy little set at Superdrug to keep in my handbag a while ago and although it is very useful, it came in a rather boring black pouch.  Whilst it is quite a sturdy pouch in many ways, the binding around the edge has started to come away, so it was a good excuse to make a prettier one for myself.
Now, being an expert procrastinator, I've had this on hand-written 'to-do' lists week after week and on reminders on my mobile phone and computer and have continued to skip it.
Until the Friday before last that is.

We were going away for the weekend and I had a pretty long list of stuff to do to prepare, but I thought that I just had to get on with it and make this thing.  So, I did!

I'd used the 'old' one as a template for a pattern and had rummaged through my supplies to see what I fancied using.  Years ago I'd bought some Liberty print bias binding for something or other, but never used it, so I quite fancied having some of that for my pouch, but I didn't really have any fabric that was suitable that matched.  Then I had some lovely red Liberty print fabric that was big enough, but the bias binding I had that matched was too wide (and I didn't really fancy trying to cut it down).  In the end I went with a slightly impractical colour scheme of white and blue.  It will probably get filthy pretty quickly, but at least it is 100% cotton so it can go in the washing machine.  It is far from perfect, but will do as a 'prototype' for now and is actually big enough to hold my lipstick too!

Monday, 18 June 2012

Curtain up

One of my (many) crafting projects this year will be new curtains for our bedroom and living room.  We've chosen the fabric for both rooms, but are just waiting to get new windows organised before we put up the curtain poles and then make the curtains.  It is a long drawn-out process, but I'm sure it will be lovely when it's done.

However, last year finished with my first 'make' for the house (we've been living here for almost 2 years now) - kitchen blinds. It was a fairly simple decision to make choosing what sort of window covering I wanted in the kitchen - plain, simple Roman blinds.  Then I'd got it in my head that I wanted stripes.  Friends of ours have some lovely stripey Roman blinds in their kitchen - totally the wrong colour for ours, but I'd got their fabric in my head and started looking for something similar in red and green (the accent colours we'd chosen for the otherwise plain, cream kitchen).

Who would have thought that finding stipes in red and green would have been sooooo difficult.  Red and blue - easy.  Pink and green - plenty.  But Green and Red - forget it!  We'd already started getting 'accent pieces' in a nice bright, pillar-box red and had some green bits too (not all the same type of green really, but it all seemed to work reasonably together), so that sort of tied us.

Thankfully, after trawling online fabric shops and fabric manufacturers, we finally found something suitable in good old John Lewis.  Not quite the pillar-box red I'd imagined, but lovely all the same.

After ordering the fabric and buying all the odds and ends to make the blinds work, it took me about 3-4 weekends to make them.  It was my first attempt at Roman blinds, and to be honest, I'm not sure I'll be making any more in a hurry (and I hadn't realised how difficult it was to sew in a straight line before).  But we are pleased with them (well, I will be once I've got over the critical-of-my-own-work stage).  The kitchen sounds so different now that they are up and it does brighten the place up a bit (it is fairly dark and north-facing).

So, here they are ....

Setting the table

I've been perusing some other crafty people's blogs recently (I'm being presumptious now and assuming that I'm crafty too!), and one of them reminded me of some napkins that I've half hemmed, but never finished (what's new?!).
Here they are:

So, that lovely blog inspired me to finally get my act together and finish them all some off.
Et voila!

So thank you Domestic Novice and may you (and I?) continue to inspire fellow crafters everywhere!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

They're changing guards at Buckingham Palace...

Do you recognise the quote?  It is from "When we were very young" by A.A. Milne.  One of my Mam's favourites and quite appropriate because this post is about her brother who was a guard at Buckingham Palace and will be celebrated his 70th birthday recently.
So in honour of all of that, I'm stitched him a special birthday card.  Unfortunately it was too small to put the correct number and pattern of buttons for a Welsh guard, but I hope he'll forgive that small detail (in all senses of the words).
It was quite cute - eventhough I say so myself - and I added a '70' (one digit either side of the poor guardsman's head) in my own font.  I had a few aperture cards left from ages ago and a small red one suited it perfectly.  What a shame I forgot to photograph it in my rush to get to the post, but he was like one of these soldiers.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Trial and error

Well, after talking about it for ages, I'm finally getting down to lining the box for my mother in law.  It is here birthday next weekend, so it is now or never.

Phase one went really well.  I cut a circle of velvet larger than the padded base I'd made and used the sewing machine to stitch gathering stitches around the edge.  Then I gently pulled them to gather the edge so that it would fit around the padded card base.  And it looks lovely!  I'm really pleased with the choice of colour for the velvet and the feel of it is gorgeous.

Next step is the sides.  Now, the first attempt at this didn't go too well - the card was too short and when I tried to roll it to fit the inside of the box, it bent!  So, this morning I cut another length and clamped it to the outer edge of the lid of the box to curve it and left it while I got on with phase one.  So far so good.  I then cut a length of velvet about twice the width and a little longer than the card strip.  Then panic set in.  I thought the velvet was too short for the card!  Anyway, I was wrong.  I sewed the short ends of the velvet together to create a tube.  The next bit was a fiddle.  Trying to wrap the velvet tube around the card was difficult - it either slipped off or bent the card.  Again, with the help of some clamping I got there and on the reverse I pulled the edges together to get it as smooth as possible.

Now came the test.  Could I get the velvet covered tube inside the box and then fit the base in after?  It wasn't easy and at times I thought the tube was too big and I'd have to start again, but I got there in the end.  It isn't perfect and the velvet isn't quite as smooth and snug as I'd hoped, but it doesn't look too bad really.

The velvet lined box after phases 1 and 2

My only concern now is whether, with the added thickness of the velvet, I have enough space to make the  tray insert I'd planned.  While I think about it, I'd better hoover up all the velvet 'fluff' that is all over the floor and my clothes!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Royal School of Needlework

If you read some of my other posts, you will probably (hopefully) have gathered that I've been interested in embroidery for quite a few years.  Over the years I have been a member of a few associations, but only joined the Royal School of Needlework last year having admired them from afar for ages.
Since joining I've dreamed of attending one of their courses, and finally, at last, at long last (I think you get the drift!) I am going to one THIS WEEK!  Hip hip hooray!  I can't wait.
I have done different types of embroidery in the past, but mainly cross-stitch, so this was an opportunity to try something new.  They have plenty of choice of courses - I was like a child in a sweet shop to tell the truth - but in the end opted for one that will hopefully be a bit of a taster for a few different disciplines.  That way in the future I can choose another course to explore another style in more detail.  So, this Friday I will be at Hampton Court (and I'm in the middle of reading a Philippa Gregory book in the Tudor series too!) giving 'An Introduction to Embroidery' a go.  I'm so excited!!  Hopefully I will have calmed down enough by next week to let you know how I got on.  Keep your fingers crossed that it will be a nice sunny day too - maybe I'll be able to take some nice photos of the palace while I'm there!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

New look

Happy St. David's Day everyone!

I've been playing a bit with my blog.  What do you think?

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

French chic

A rather unusual gift I got this Christmas was from my Breton friend - a leather tassel.  Now, I must admit that I didn't really know what to do with it, but a note from my friend said that they were all the rage in France when worn on a chain.  I wasn't convinced until I saw said friend's mother (and maker of said tassel) wearing one herself - and now I'm a convert.  I also got two leather bracelets from her as a bonus.

My friend's mum is a hugely talented crafter and over the years I've had quite a few beautiful gifts from her.  She painted pebbles for her daughter's wedding as 'place cards' and personalised each one!

One year she made angels out of wooden clothes pegs to decorate the Christmas tree - I'm sure it looked stunning.  And amongst the other lovely gifts she's given me I've had Liberty print hankies and fabric shoe-horns (unfortunately the mice in our flat loved the stuffing, so they have now been thrown out!).  Aren't I lucky to have such a generous crafting friend?  Merci pour tous!