Thrifty new bag

I have always wanted to try patchwork. I really want to make a patchwork quilt out of my daughter’s baby clothes. I don’t want this to be my first attempt though, as chances are I will end up ruining them. I couldn’t decided what to make for a practice run, so the idea was abandoned in favour of a million other projects.

A couple of weeks ago a friend of ours came to visit. This particular friend works for a high end upholstery company, so imagine my delight when he gave me a bag of samples and off cuts. Yay, free fabric. There were lots of little bits in different colour ways, but I already knew what I would do with some of it. I made a patchwork knitting bag. I used a bed sheet that didn’t quite fit the bed for the lining, and the handles came free with a knitting magazine around four years ago. The whole thing cost me nothing at all. Except perhaps, the tips of my fingers. Hand sewing such thick fabric has left me with more than a couple of blisters. All in all I’m pretty pleased with how it’s turned out. Now on to the next one!

The more discerning among you will notice there are still some tacking stitches in the bag. I’m sure I’ll get round to that tomorrow….

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PinAddicts Challenge- Lovely and Lacey

I’m obsessed with Pinterest. There, I said it. I can’t help it! One quick browse at my homepage becomes a two hour long slog through all the different staircases that I could possibly have in my dream house, or all the brilliant things that you can do with a pallet. Consequently I pin a lot of things. More often than not I don’t go back to them, there are just too many. But, when I saw the Pinaddicts Challenge I was suddenly inspired. Brilliant, an excuse to get into gear and make one of the million things I’ve pinned (I think it’s more around 400, but who’s counting).

Anyhoo, I went through all of my pins but just couldn’t find anything.  There were lots of nice things, but no inspiring makes. A few days went by and I had a visit from my parents. They had brought me a lovely big bag of lace and doilies that my mother had found for me. She pulled out a piece of lace on the top and said, “This would make a lovely headband for Amelia”. My eyes lit up. Not at the thought of making my daughter a headband, she has lots, but because I remembered something I had pinned, this. Yay! I went and dug out some stretchy lace ribbon (I have quite a bit, you never know when you may need it) and set to work. First of all I measured the ribbon to size and sewed the two raw ends together. Then I covered the lace in PVA glue and left it lying over a jar over night so that it set into a rounded shape. When it was dry I sewed it to the ribbon and Voila! A pretty lace headband. And it’s pretty good, even if I say so myself!

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PinAddicts Challenge

Teaching the Basics

I mentioned in my last post that I had an upcoming craft sale/crochet workshop. This is the first time I’ve ever done something like this, and I only had a few weeks to prepare. After making lots (LOTS) of things for my stall I thought I was pretty much ready. Then  I suddenly realised that I needed something for the ladies to actually make! After putting together a quick basic crochet guide I was stumped. What could I try and help the ladies to make in a short period of time? Then it hit me! A simple bracelet! It had a small amount of stitches so would be a good first project. It was a smaller version of the headbands I was selling, so there was a sample for them to view. Best of all, the basic pattern pack that I had made had a simple flower pattern which they could make at home and embellish their project with. Perfect!

And I have to say, it was a bit of a success. No one finished their bracelet during the workshop, but many ladies were well on their way, and I hope they continued once they left. Unfortunately, a few thought crocheting was something that could be picked up easily, and after a few tries just gave up. Now, my workshop was part of a much bigger event, so I wasn’t insulted, it’s just a shame that some people won’t try if something seems a bit difficult. I certainly didn’t learn to crochet over night, and I don’t know anyone who did! However, most gave it a really good shot, and it was great to share my craft with others. I hope they continue, and I would certainly love to do it again.

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Some pictures of my stall as I was setting up (above) and teaching the ladies (below)

Multipurpose Compostarium

You can have multipurpose compost, so why not a multipurpose compost heap?

I was thinking about my plans for a rainwater-harvesting compostarium, which will hopefully be sited over the larger of my two heaps and was struck with a (very small, possibly useless) brainwave.

I had hoped to grow butternut and gem  squash directly on top of my compost heap, which left me with a quandry of where they would go (squash obviously like to trail, but I didn’t want them sat in damp compost and possibly going rotten).  The plan is fairly simple: I could construct a raised platform above the compost heap, which the squash can grow onto, and trail across.  So, I took one of my Gem Squash as a trial and transplanted it out, under a  cloche, directly into the compostarium.

The experimental early squash. The rest of his buddies will be left indoors in their pots until the “right” time to transplant them out.

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One Gem Squash, sitting in its new home. Good luck, little fella!

This is what the platform will look like (or something similar) once the squash(es) have grown enough to train them onto it.  Obviously, I’ve removed the platform for the time being to let the seedling see the sunshine!

I think, to be fair, I was a little hasty in actually putting a seedling in situ, but we’ll see.  If I’m lucky with the weather (!) then it may be well away before the others have even been transplanted out.  I may pop half a plastic bottle over it as well, though, for the first few nights.

Elsewhere on the plot, I utilised the rest of my cloches to protect a row of Purple Queen dwarf French beans (seeds, not transplants) which are to be sited directly in front of my raspberry canes, began brewing a batch of nettle tea (which I will pour onto the compost heap to feed the squashes when the time is right) and got a row of Bright Lights swiss chard seedlings in.  All in all a pretty productive Bank Holiday weekend!

Purple Queen DFBs – directly in front of my row of Autumn-fruiting raspberries

An evil brew: Nettle tea

A row of swiss chard, just about visible between my gangplanks and onion sets

The Tooth Fairy and the Great Make

Next week (May 11th) I will be running a crochet workshop at the local church where I take my daughter for toddler time. It started as a mention that I would like to sell some things on Etsy, which progressed to me having a handmade stall, to me doing this workshop. Anyway, I got so caught up in all the crochet things that I wanted to make, I didn’t really consider what people would want to buy. I don’t want to turn up and have one or two mammoth crochet items that I’m charging £20 for. I began to rack my brain, aware of the constrictive time frame, and thought long and hard about it. Most of the women would be mothers or grandmothers, the event was free so they wouldn’t want to spend much money, and also it had to be quick and relatively easy to make. Well I came up with a couple of things (some for another post I think), but the one I really liked was a tooth fairy pillow.

When it comes to handmade items for children, you really want something that is useful, will last, and will be treasured. I think my pillows are just that. They’re are just small pillows with a pocket on the front into which the small person can leave a tooth for the tooth fairy. This way said tooth fairy won’t have to rummage under said small persons pillow and risk waking them up. I also like the idea that as they get older this could be used as a treasure pocket. Small people love treasure.
That was it. I was away. Flowery fabric and lace for girls, pirate fabric for boys (though my little Bobbin prefers the pirates – can’t please everyone). I sat down to my machine and…..
I have never made a pocket before! Now what? I got out my sewing handbook, which basically told me to stop being daft because everyone can sew pockets. Hadn’t I seen the Great British Sewing Bee?! So, I blindly cut the material into rectangles, got the iron and lots of pins and set to work.
First of all I pressed the material into a pocket shape. I used the OH’s shirt pocket as a guide, I then top stitched the top hem on the machine with some ribbon to hide the stitching…ahem… 
ImageAfter this it was time to top stitch the pocket on to the front of the pillow. This was actually much easier than I thought. Sewing machines are designed to help you stitch straight, you just have to concentrate. I find sticking out your tongue helps.
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ImageThen it was the fun bit, sewing the two sides together, nothing is more fun than putting your foot down on a sewing machine pedal and really going for it! Top tip, when making anything with square corners, leave the needle in the fabric, lift the foot and turn the piece (as shown below) and then you don’t lose your stitch line. But you probably knew that already.
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After turning  stuffing and slip stitching shut, I found that I had actually come up with a nice little pillow which is perfect for little tiny people, so I made eight. Fingers crossed there is at least someone there with a wobbly tooth
 
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