Sunday, 26 February 2012

Hooray for Spring

The days are getting longer at last and I no longer have to rely on my light box to avoid SAD.  Last week I tidied up our tiny front garden with some rosemary and thyme plants in our stone troughs.

I replaced the decorative cabbages in the tiny box a friend brought for Thanksgiving with two primulas.
Don't they look pretty.

Yesterday at the supermarket, having manoeuvred my trolley to the end of the queue and waited patiently until I was only second from the cash desk, I spotted a lady with a little basket of 6 primulas.  I abandoned my position in the queue to go and search for a little basket of posies for myself. I bought some truly tasteful (not) plastic pots and planted them the minute I got home.  Here is the result.

Finally, the garden is coming to life.  Here are some of my tulips-to-be.  Hooray!

Welcome spring.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Gadding About

I have spent this week gadding about with friends, going to the cinema, seeing an exhibition, wandering around London and Chichister and having fun.

On Wednesday, I saw the Yayoi Kusama exhibition at the Tate Modern.  Her paintings and creations are beautiful and disturbing, but these three could provide inspiration for collage, appliqué or embroidery.

Walking down The Cut, near Waterloo Station, a friend and I came across a small shop selling vintage and crafted accessories.  Unfortunately, the shop was closed, but I managed to take this photo through the grill on the window.  I will go back.  I love hats and would love to make some. This is my inspiration.

On Thursday, I got my fix in Liberty's fabric department.  Unfortunately, lighting was not good for photos, but there were lots of beautiful new fabrics.  My idea of heaven.  Outside of the main door, there is a florists which always has the most lovely things.  Here is a spring display, taken quickly between pedestrians crossing in front of me.

And last, but actually first, on Monday I saw this wonderful cake in a bakery in Chichister.  All ready for Valentines Day or the Mad Hatters Tea Party?

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Valentine Bunting

This little heart bunting is a present for a friend.  I decided to do hearts as it is so near Valentine's Day.

  • I made skinny hearts by cutting out a paper pattern then tracing the pattern onto another piece of paper and adding 1/4" seam allowance.  Keep both patterns.
  • Using the larger pattern, cut out two hearts from each colour of fabric. 
  • Machine stitch each heart with right sides together leaving a gap for turning along one straight edge.  
  • Clip the seams (a bit like making fringe), then turn the hearts right side out, press them and stuff them with two layers of wadding. 
  • One layer of wadding can be cut from the original pattern (without the seam allowance) and the other layer should be a little smaller to give the centre a bit more puff. 
  • Hand stitch the hearts closed and then add buttons to each one making them look like tiny waistcoats. 
  • I sewed 1/3 metre of ribbon to the top of each one, then tied them onto a longer piece of ribbon, making 1/2 bow loops for hanging.  
The skinny hearts make me smile and I hope they will make my friend smile too.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Patchwork Quilt - Pink for February

Many years ago, in fact in the 1970s, a friend in the USA bought several patchwork quilt tops from an elderly lady in the far Midwest.  All were machine sewn and needed to be quilted.  I bought the pink one, the Lone Star, from my friend for the amazing price of $30.  I put the wadding in and added the lining and attempted to do the tiny hand stitching around every diamond shape. It was not a success.  My mother, however, was an excellent needlewoman. She lovingly quilted it for me and I then finished off the binding at the edges.
The plan was to hang it at the head of our double bed.  We painted our room a pinkish magnolia and chose carpet to compliment the quilt.  When hung on the wall, it glared like a neon light.  All the diamonds seemed to take on a life of their own. They appeared to move and flash. It was certainly not restful, so I took it down.  For many years it was folded carefully away in a cupboard.  Recently, I resurrected it and it now has pride of place on the double bed in our spare room where it looks beautiful, finally coming into its own.  The colours are gorgeous, never failing to cheer me up, particularly on a dull February day.
Thank you Marilyn; thank you Mom and thank you lady from the Midwest who did the original patchwork.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Still More Jackets

This jacket was made using a navy sweatshirt and two men's ties. I cut off all the ribbing to give the sweatshirt a different shape - looser and less sporty. I inserted one tie at the centre back with the large point at the bottom of the jacket. This gave the jacket a bit of flare.  The sleeves are trimmed with the left over pieces of the first tie. Another tie is pleated and draped round the neck to form a collar.  For this I used the whole tie.

This jacket was a Christmas present for my sister.  
After cutting off all the ribbing, I made a V shaped neckline.  I used an old Vogue jacket pattern for the collar, which is made of felted wool with yarn and embroidery thread overlaid. The same fabric is used for the cuffs. The blue in this fabric matches the vibrant royal blue of the jacket and it really is quite dressy.   It could be worn for day or evening with a fitted dress or a pair of black trousers and a neat white t shirt.

Another Sweatshirt Jacket

This sweatshirt jacket was for a friend.  I cut off all the ribbing and used the bottom ribbing to trim the V shaped neckline.  I added green grosgrain ribbon and some gorgeous tartan fabric that I bought in France.  The fabric is ready pleated.  I trimmed the lower part of the front with red grosgrain ribbon and added a pretty button.


The back of the jacket is equally pretty with its neckline frill and a line of green ribbon at the lower centre back.

I finished off the sleeves with a little tartan frill. This one is definitely my favourite.

Twisted Cable Throw

Last year I joined a knitting group at John Lewis in Kingston.  It meets every Tuesday morning and is a lovely break from both work and housework.  Most of the knitters are very accomplished and they turn out exquisite things.  I plod along with my projects hoping to improve my skills.  My first project was this Aran-style throw, called a Twisted Cable Throw.  It’s from the Lion Brand Yarn site and can be found in the archives. It took me six months to make, but I think it was worth it.  It’s so cosy, particularly today as it’s snowing outside.