Tuesday, 28 January 2014

All that glitters ...

In a recent (exciting) post about odd jobs, I also mentioned giving myself a treat by making some Christmas decorations out of some supplies I'd had lying around for ages and ages.

They were inspired by seeing an episode of Kirsty's Crafty Christmas and are really quite quick and easy to make.  All you need is:
Polystyrene balls
pva glue
wooden skewers and/or cocktail sticks (depending on size of ball)
bowls (to hold the glitter)
spoons (to spoon the glitter over the balls)
loose cover pins (for upholstery)
old box

  • First, use your skewers/cocktail sticks to make holes in the box ready to take the balls once they've been glued and glittered. Allow enough room between them so that the balls won't touch each other (but if you miscalculate, don't worry too much, you can always angle them away from each other)
  • Next, skewer each of your balls ready to start painting the glue over them.
  • Now the messy part starts.  Cover your ball with pva glue.  Try not to put too much glue around the base of the skewer or it may prove difficult to extract the skewer - but you want to ensure good coverage once the glitter goes on.
  • Holding the skewer, you can now dip your sticky ball into the glitter.  I put mine in various dishes and found some worked better than others, eg ramekins were a little too small and glitter ended up going over the sides.  Round sides (eg pudding/mixing bowl) worked well as you can roll the balls in the glitter.  It is also useful to have a teaspoon to hand to spoon glitter over the bits you can't dip in or any bits that get missed.
  • Once the ball is completely covered in glitter, tap the skewer against the bowl to remove any loose glitter (I think you can do this quite hard as I still 'lost' a bit of glitter later in the process) and then push the skewer into your box to let the ball dry.  This should be at least overnight.

  • Next day, remove the skewered ball from the box and spray with hairspray to set the glitter.
  • Now you can embellish them.  After removing the skewer I pushed a loose cover pin (almost all the way in) over the skewer hole (just to make sure it is hidden - not all were that obvious though).  I found that the pins were too long for the smallest balls, so I had to trim them before pushing them into the balls.  Then thread a ribbon through the loop and tie (again - hiding the hole and the pin in one go).  Form a loop and tie a knot or bow - et voila, a lovely, glamourous Christmas bauble.  

And what's great is that they don't cost much - I already had a supply of balls, glue, ribbon and hairspray, so I only had to fork out for the glitter and pins which came to about £8 total (the pins were the bulk of this), and I've still got loads of glitter left for other projects

Friday, 24 January 2014

More mending

I encountered a bit of a problem when I was about to rehem a pair of linen trousers the other day - the fold had worn and there was now a slit along it.  The big question, of course, was whether or not they warranted being repaired now.  Well, as they were in pretty good condition otherwise, I thought I'd give it a go.  However, I wasn't sure how to go about it.

Thanks to Google, I found a solution.  I unpicked the whole hem on both legs and pressed them.  I then cut a piece of coordinating fabric to cover the hole.  I used a scrap of bias binding I had that I ironed flat.  This was then pinned to the wrong side of the trousers and carefully stitched into place, following the edges of the hole closely (but not so closely that I stitched through the loose threads).

This is what it now looks like:

Next was rehemming.  I turned the trousers inside out and turned the hem up so that the patched hole would be just out of sight from the outside.  In effect, I was shortening the trousers, but only by a a few millimetres. Once I was happy that the hem was even, I pressed it and repeated the process on the other leg (using the first leg's hem measurement as a guide).  They were now ready to stitch back into place.

Et voila!  Almost like new again.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Blasts from the past

While having a bit of a tidy up recently, I came across a pile of photographs of stuff I've made over the years.  I've had them in various albums in the past, but not collectively for some reason.  I've shown you some of my past projects here and a conversation with a colleague prompted me to scan the photos to share a few more with you.

So here goes - I'll try to remember why and when they were made, but can't promise I'll manage it with all of them.  And if I find any more, I'll let you know!
Needle book - made at my first primary school
Dress for former primary school teacher's
first daughter - made in early teens
3D crewel embroidery - made in my teens
Kate Greenaway initial - made in my teens
Needlepoint sampler - made in my teens
Crewel work picture - made in my teens
Celtic cross - made in my teens
Needlepoint version of
David painting - late teens
Needlepoint depiction of spring -
stitched during my first year at uni

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Catching up on life - part 2

As promised, following my last post, I moved on to my hemming jobs and the remaining summer clothes have now finally been stored away until the better weather arrives.  But before I progress to something more adventurous, I came across some more darning jobs - yuck!

Hemmed trousers, repaired/
altered pj's and peg bag
While I was at it, I decided to repair a pair of pyjama bottoms and alter another that was a bit loose.  And hidden amongst the repair pile was a peg bag that I'd embroidered years ago, but still haven't got around to making up.  So this was the chance.  All I need now is to find a suitable wooden hanger to finish it off.  It is a shame that it is rather small, as my parents need a new one (the one I made for them donkey's years ago is literally coming apart at the seams) but there is no way all their pegs will fit in this one.  Instead I'll use this one and their current one as a pattern - one for size, the other for design and I have plenty of the pink sprig fabric left over too.

Feeling quite pleased with myself for finishing off these long awaited odd jobs, I gave myself a treat and made some Christmas decorations a la Kirsty Alsopp's Crafty Christmas.  I know it is way too early, but I was glad to have a use for the polystyrene balls I'd had hanging around for ages and something slightly different to what I'd used them for in the past.  I'll leave them to dry overnight then spray them with hairspray to fix all the glitter in place before embellishing them with ribbons for hanging.
My glitter balls as they dry

Friday, 10 January 2014

Skirting the issue

With our various home improvement schemes this year, it was inevitable that we'd have to go to Ikea at some point.  As we no longer have a car, I have three options for this.
  1. take a long, winding bus journey there and back
  2. wait until we need a hire car for other 'jobs' and combine the lot
  3. go with my parents when I visit the Land of Song
The cons of the above are:
  1. I'll spend more time on the bus than in Ikea and carrying bulky/heavy stuff back isn't ideal on public transport
  2. It may be a long wait until we can combine jobs that need transport
  3. I have to carry the stuff I buy back from LoS to London on public transport (see 1 above!)
However, needs must, so on a visit earlier this year, along with jars for food storage, hooks for tidying the cellar, etc, I also bought a couple of fleece blankets for crafting purposes.  I know it is easy enough to buy fleece fabric at a haberdashers, but they are so reasonable at Ikea you can't really go wrong.

The intention was to make Christmas tree skirts out of them.  So, I have 3 red ones, 2 white/cream ones, 1 green one and some off-cuts of pale blue and grey fleece.  Obviously, red, white and green are the colours of the LoS and conveniently also traditional Christmas colours, but blue, not so much.  However, the idea I had was to make a snowflake-themed one using the white and blue ones, with a bit of added silver sparkle in the form of silver thread, silver organza and/or some sequins/beads.  At some future date I may make a poinsettia one out of the red and white ones and/or make a Christmas bauble one on a green background using the off-cuts of the others and other vibrant fabrics.

I know, I know - how many tree skirts does a girl need?!?!  Well, I'm not intending to make them ALL for me - just two or three! ;-)  Naturally, I hope some are going to be Christmas presents!   However, plans didn't quite come to fruition for this Christmas.  With poorly parents I've only managed to make one 'prototype' skirt, but I am quite please with how it has turned out.  Here is my method:

Off-cuts ready for stitching/cutting
into snowflakes
Cutting out
Fold both the red and white fleeces in half, then in half again (so into four).  Using a make-shift compass out of some string and a dress-making pencil (or similar), fix one end of the string to the fold corner and the pencil to the other - then draw as big an arc (or quarter of a circle) as possible.  Cut out to create a large circle.  So, out of two fleeces I now have two circles large enough to be tree skirts.  The off-cuts will be used later.

Repeat the above method to draw a much smaller circle to make the hole for the tree trunk (or you could use a jar/mug/bottle as a template).  Cut out this smaller circle from the centre.

Using one of the folds as a guide, cut a straight line from the outer edge to the inner circle (this will be the opening).  If you wish (this may depend on the fabric you use), hem one of the straight edges - this will be the upper closing edge.

Next, the snowflakes:
  1. I tried three methods for the snowflakes, with varying success.  The first method was to trace the snowflake template directly onto the fleece and then sew the 'arms' with sparkly silver thread (I used Gutterman Sulky) along those lines by machine (quite easy - straight stitch in straight lines). And then trim around the stitching to get the 'classic' snowflake shape.  This method was fine, although not all the snowflakes were useable as the fleece stretched with sewing.
  2. The second method was to trace the templates onto some Wondaweb and iron them onto the off-cuts before stitching on the machine and trimming (as above).  This method was quite good for keeping the shape and for giving a clear shape to follow for cutting out.  But once it comes to removing the backing paper from the Wondaweb it all gets a bit fiddly to remove as the stitching keeps it in place rather well.
  3. Method 2 snowflake before cutting out
  4. The final method was to cut the snowflake out before stitching.  This way I was able to follow the traced lines to trim away the waste fabric and then peel away the backing paper with ease before ironing the snowflake into place, ready for the silver stitching.  
To be honest, if I were to make this again, I'd probably use this final method, although the second was fine and makes the snowflakes a little more sparkly as I stitched them twice.

There were two patterns of snowflake and the template offered three sizes.  I only used the two larger sizes for this project.

Lay out:
After making approximately 20-25 snowflakes I started laying them out to get the right 'look'.  Then I removed the backing paper and ironed them into place.  I'd never used Wondaweb before and I underestimated the 'ironing time' at this stage and quite a few snowflakes fell off before I stitched them into place (so the layout probably isn't as even as it could have been).  They were then stitched onto the red skirt.

To finish the tree skirt off and to continue the snow theme, I added some large white pom-pom trim to the outer edge.  I sewed this onto the underside (using red thread so that it didn't show) so that only the pom-poms show.  This was followed by sewing jumbo white ric-rac braid to both the outer edge and the inner.  To close the skirt once it is around the tree, you could sew some velcro along the straight edge, add buttons (self-covered?) and loops or use large press-studs (my option).

What do you think?  Are they worth doing again for this year's Christmas presents?

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Catching up on life - part 1

I've been a bit slow getting back into this blogging business since the summer.  Part of that was a lack of motivation to get on with projects and part of it was a serious illness in the family.  But I'm trying to get back into things gradually now and you will have seen that in November last year I made a coordinating shower curtain for our en-suite.

I'm also relieved that I've finally altered my kitchen blinds to fit the new windows.  I still have one to sew from scratch and I hope that the altering will have refreshed my memory of how Roman blinds are constructed.  It was nice to do some tidying up of the kitchen done over the New Year with DH and finally get pictures etc back up after redecorating last summer.

Well, I've moved on to repairing stuff.  Not my favourite aspect of needlework to be honest, but needs must sometimes and the pile was growing and in danger of smothering the sewing machine completely.

First in the pile was a quick darning job for DH - the second time I've had to repair the seam under the armpit on his sweater.  Then another darning job - I'd stupidly clipped my hair clip to my cardigan and left it there while I got on with other stuff without realising that it had made a couple of small holes in it :-(

But now it is time to get back to some sewing - making a new lining for the guest room curtain.  I made a new lining for one of them months and months ago and have been meaning to get around to making the 'pair' for equally long.  Once again, the New Year break came into its own and after altering the kitchen blinds I felt on a roll.

Next?  Well, re-hemming my summer trousers before it is time to wear them again.  What an exciting life I live!

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Trying to get going again

Well, it is that time of year again when people set goals, resolutions, review achievements etc ...

Frankly, last year was tough and as a result my blogging suffered.  I really hope that I can summon up the energy to get going properly again soon.

In the meantime, I've reviewed my UFOs and list posts and updated accordingly.  I  hope to add some new material again soon, but bear with me until I'm back to full power. :-)

Happy New Year!