Friday, 28 December 2012

Coasting along

I've kept busy since the Christmas orders were finished. I made a tote bag with a zip closure for a friend. She ordered it at the last Craft Fair. She wanted it in the pretty batik fabric with large gold butterflies on it. I tried a different way of inserting a top closure zipper, the one from Lisa Lam's latest book, A Bag for All Reasons. I'm not sure about this method; it looked all right but the closed end of the zipper stood up rather a lot. I didn't take a photo of it, though.

I also made a tote bag for my nephew's wife. It was her daughter who received a tote bag as a wedding present and Tracy wanted one as well. The fabric is from the same range, Safari Nights, but with a different design on it. I included a small zippered purse attached to a hook. Here it is:

I receive a newsletter from Sleeping Bear Crafts and for Christmas they added a free downloadable PDF pattern for Criss-Cross Coasters. The method was different to any I had seen before so I gave one a try in some Christmas fabric I had. I was hooked! I made another five so that I had a new set of six Christmas coasters. In fact, I enjoy making them so much that I have made a set of six as a birthday present for a friend of mine. The patchwork-like effect is achieved simply by folding squares of fabric and lying them on top of each other. They are really quick and easy to make.

Sorry about the flashback but it is so dull outside that I had to use the flash on my camera.

Happy New Year to everyone! Keep crafting!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

A look back at 2012

This is the time of year when, traditionally, one looks back on the year that's flown past and picks out some highlights. As this blog is about life in general, as well as sewing in particular, I've looked at some photographs and thought I would share a few with you. Today is also our 45th wedding anniversary but I'm not going back that far! Looking forward, on the other hand, is rather scary: in five years' time it will be our Golden Wedding! Arghhh - I don't feel that old - yet!

We spent the first few months of 2012 looking forward to our trip to Italy with Sean, Allison, Emily and Alex, our son and his family from Durban, South Africa. We enjoyed a wonderful two weeks there, with special family times and experiences of Italian rural culture. Here is my favourite photograph of Emily and Alex taken there:

We then prepared for a visit from my sister-in-law, Pam, who lives in Johannesburg. She came to the UK for our great-niece's wedding in September. Ian was privileged to take part in the marriage ceremony of Meg Jenkins and Chris Matthews; it was also a grand family reunion for many of us. Here is a photo of Ian and me taken after the ceremony; his magnificent stole was hand-painted by Pam.

We brought Pam home with us and she spent about three weeks here. She had to fit in with our daily lives, which meant she had plenty of time to do needlework, read, meditate and do some art while I slept after doing night shift. We did manage to show her around our corner of East Yorkshire and here is a photo of Pam and Ian with the North Sea in the background.

Then came the shock when our son, Charles, daughter-in-law, Sharon, and lovely grandchildren, Tarryn and Angus, packed up home and moved to Bahrain at the end of October! We came here to be a support to them at the beginning of 2002; I didn't think that would include helping them pack up their home to move halfway across the world nearly eleven years later! I don't have photographs of all of them on this computer but here is one of Angus just before they left; he is now twelve but was nine months old when they came to the UK. He is now a handsome young fellow! The gorgeous Tarryn is rather camera shy, though.

Now we feel rather bereft and somewhat like aging orphans. But life goes on: Ian continues with his share of the ministry in the church in this Deanery of South Holderness and, of course, enjoys playing golf twice a week, weather permitting. I continue caring for elderly people where I work in the care home and then ... there's my sewing, need I say? So, to end, here is a photo of my table at the Craft Fair in St Andrew's in Paull.

I thank God for His continued grace and mercy shown to us, our good health, our home, family (even though they are far away) and friends. To whoever might read this, may you know God's love and peace this Christmas and His grace and mercy in the coming year. Thank you for taking time to look at my blog! XX

Friday, 7 December 2012

French connection

This is why I love making bags! Today I completed an order for a bag for someone who loves going to France and all things French. I am really pleased with the way it has turned out.

The fabric is French toile, which I bought from Love Fabrics; it is manufactured in France and was sent to me from France. Because of the rural designs on the fabric I fussy cut it but, fortunately, didn't have to waste any. The fabric has a linen look and feel so I interfaced it with light iron-on interfacing before working with it as I was a fraid it would fray. I think that has given the bag the extra body it needed and it looks really neat. I used Thermolan as the bag interfacing.

Inside there are two slip pockets and a key/purse hook. I also fussy cut and  made a zippered coin purse. This is what the bag looks like:

This is the front with a tab closure with magnetic snap. And this is the back:

I just love this fabric! Don't you just love it when things come together as planned?

Monday, 3 December 2012

After the Fair is over...

The Craft Fairs have come and gone. Interestingly, I made exactly the same amount of money at each of the Fairs where I had a table. I didn't sell very many bags but two of the Kindle covers sold and I received an order for a bag in the same fabric as one that was on sale but it is to have longer handles that go over the shoulder and a top zip closure. I have some orders to make up before Christmas so that will keep me going and bring in a bit of money but I'm feeling rather unimpressed with sewing for Craft Fairs; it is so difficult to know what people are going to buy.

There was somebody with a table near mine who was selling quilted cushion covers (on cushion inners) and shopping bags. Her bags were very basic denim shoppers imbellished with a few flowers; they were not lined, had no inner pockets etc and were a fraction of the price of my bags. She sold about four of them. It seems that tote bags made with pretty fabric, magnetic snap closures, inner pockets and key fobs are not so appealing. (A description of my bags.) What do people want??

Anyway, here are photos of my tables at the Craft Fairs:

Why is it that one never has everything you need for a project? I have to go and buy a couple of zips and some threads in order to get on with my orders. It does mean that I can go and have coffee at my favourite coffee house!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Another Craft Fair

I think I am ready for the next Craft Fair, which will be this coming Saturday, 1 December, at St Andrew's Church in the village of Paull. I have no more sewing time left as I have to work for the next two nights, so what hasn't been made now won't get made.

Here is a photograph of part of my table at the Craft Fair at Sunk Island on 17 November:

I have made some more bags to replace those that I sold as well as a couple more. Today I made three Kindle covers:

and I've also made a couple of Christmas gift bags:

I rather like this tote bags; the little wooden hearts look sweet:

Well, I'll report back after next Saturday! I'm feeling rather tired right now...

Sunday, 18 November 2012

After the Fair

Well, the Craft Fair got off to a slow start but picked up around lunch time. Some people looked at my bags and walked on; some came back and looked again and a few bought! I only sold five bags; at least I paid for my table! The bags I thought would sell, based on the fact that they were similar to some I have orders for (like the toiletry sets) didn't sell. Oh well, they will be on the next Craft Fair on 1 December.

I wonder if doing Craft Fairs is worth it; I prefer making bags to order. I know the customer will get what they want and I enjoy the challenge of searching for fabric and adapting patterns to suit a person's wishes. Maybe this community just isn't into bags!? The retired gentleman at the table next to mine was selling wooden items he makes. He seemed to do a good deal of business, especially door wedges with cute little mice on them. Mmmm - maybe I should try my hand at something different? I don't think so.

Right now I'm tired, having worked last night and will do so again tonight and tomorrow night. I certainly didn't make enough money yesterday to retire just yet!

Friday, 16 November 2012

Craft Fair tomorrow!

I think that I am ready for the Craft Fair at Holy Trinity Church Heritage Centre on Sunk Island tomorrow. I just hope that the people who come like the bags that I've made. Here are a couple to preview:

The Love and Peace toiletry set.

Pink poppy toiletry set.

I'll give a report back after it's all over. Then I will have to prepare for the next Craft Fair on 1 December.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Zippered wristlet bags

I have felt under some pressure to get one of my orders made, although the bags are Christmas presents. I just hadn't bargained on spending time away from home helping our daughter-in-law sort out and pack up her home in order to move to Bahrain. Anyway, these little bags don't take long and I was able to deliver them a couple of days ago.

The lace butterfly motifs really make the black and white bags. I was so relieved to find these motifs on ebay as the person who ordered these bags wanted them identical to a bag I had made some time ago and which she saw and liked. The motifs on that bag had been in my stash since I bought them in 1994! But this is my favourite:

I absolutely love this fabric, Makower Poppy Perspectives. I found it on ebay as well, which was a lovely surprise. The bag was ordered for someone who also loves poppies. I hope she likes it; I know I would if I received it.

Please note the beaded zipper pulls!

Another birthday gift.

 I was rather short of time to make a friend a birthday gift. She is an avid knitter and I have made her knitting-related gifts in the past so I used a idea from Sew Scrumptious, whose blog I follow, and made a knitting needle holder. It is really quite simple but useful.

The needles are mine - I just inserted them for the photograph. My friend was very pleased with her gift. Quite neat, isn't it?
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What a difference embellishments make!

My sister-in-law has gone back to Johannesburg but her influence lives on here in East Yorkshire. While she was here she said she would like a big bag to take to retreats that she helps run. I had a bag that I had made but not sold and she said it was just what she wanted but it looked very plain; not the bag of an artistic person at all! Well, she got to work, going through my scrap drawer and button tin and, with a little hard work, the bag was transformed!

This is what it looked like before she went to work:

Some scraps in toning fabrics were found and yo-yo's of different sizes made. Several buttons later and the bag took on a new look:

Here is a close-up of my sister-in-law's handiwork:

Oops - another photograph on its side! But you can get the idea. What a difference embellishments make!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Birthday bag

Today is my friend, Vivien's birthday. She and her husband kindly invited us to share in her birthday celebration in London. At first I didn't know what to give her as a present because I had already given her a small zippered pouch. Then I decided that some batik fabric I had bought recently would really suit her so made her a tote bag. As Vivien is quite short and the bag is rather large, it nearly dwarfs her but she was delighted with it. Here she is with her bag:

 Oops! How do you rotate a photo once it's here??

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Beaded zipper pulls

Well, my sister-in-law and I have been busy making beaded zipper pulls. All the pouches that I have already made now have pulls and she has made some ready to apply to the pouches I have on order and those I'll make for my craft fair tables. I have had to order some black beads for the three black and white wristlets that someone has ordered. I must say, the pulls look very pretty and I'm so pleased to have learned a new skill!

Here are a couple of photographs to see what we've been up to:

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Am I being silly, or what??

I received a phone call the other day asking me if I would like a table at another Craft Fair, this time on 17 November. I said YES! How will I ever get ready for two Craft Fairs?? Maybe less sight-seeing with my sister-in-law for one thing...

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Watch this space!

I haven't done much sewing over the last 10 days or so because I've done some extra shifts, which means I've had to sleep a bit during the day and felt tired for the rest of the time! Now I have some major house cleaning to do in preparation for a visit from my sister-in-law from Johannesburg.

We will be meeting up at the wedding of my great niece, for whom I made the South African-themed bag and mug rugs. My husband will conduct the ceremony, wearing a beautiful stole hand-painted by my sister-in-law. She is an artist and craftswoman, who can basically turn her hand to anything creative. While she is staying with us I hope to learn how to make some small beaded zip pulls for my bags and I have commissioned her to give the Great Golfer some watercolour lessons. Every time we go to a certain large hobby and craft store he buys something to do with watercolour painting so I thought this would be an ideal opportunity for him to have a few beginner lessons, an investment in his retirement (whenever that might happen) and as an alternative to being on the golf course.

So - watch this space for our future new creative endeavours! Right now, the Great Golfer is like a bird with an injured wing: he had to have a nasty lump cut out of his right fore arm and has ten stitches in it under an impressive improvised tubular bandage cut from one of my knee high tights. He won't be able to use his driver and irons on the golf course but he assures me he can still practise his putting! Fortunately, the doctor said he can still wash dishes as long as he wears gloves. Phew!

Oh - last Monday I booked a table at a Craft Fair on 1 December at one of the local churches. No pressure then...

Friday, 7 September 2012

Latest makes

Here are my latest makes.This fabric is one of my absolute favourites! The name on the selvedge is Hill-Berg Fabric. The design makes me think of a summery garden. To give you an idea of the sizes of the bags, the large one has a 12 inch zip and the small one an 8 inch zip. They are for the daughter of a colleague. I hope she likes them! I quilted the smaller bag a bit but not the bigger one.
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Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Time to get organised!

Suddenly I have orders! Sew Christine, a wonderful bag designer whose blog I follow, suggested that a good way of advertising was to make and use a bag so that others could see it. Well, two of my colleagues admired my 'bag within a bag' at work and I have orders to make four of them with matching small zip bags. Three are to be identical and then one is different.

I also have an order for three identical black and white wristlets with lace butterfly motifs appliqued on them as well as one made with poppy fabric. It's quite a challenge finding fabric to suit a person's wishes; thank goodness for the internet and online shopping!

The lace butterflies and the poppy fabric should arrive in the post within the next couple of days. Tomorrow I need to sit down and make a list of everything I need to buy and then make a trip into Hull, our nearby city.

Time to get organised!

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Bag within a bag

Yesterday I made something for myself! I take a tote bag to work and in it I usually have a bottle of water, coffee mug, small bottle of instant coffee (I drink decaffeinated, which isn't supplied at work), my snack box plus a banana. My personal items have been in a handbag I made some time ago.

I decided that it was a waste of a handbag to use it inside another bag so I made myself a large zippered pouch. It has a short strap handle on one side, two compartments inside and a strap with a snap hook on it. I hope I remember to put my car keys on the snap hook as I always seem to end up scratching around at the bottom of the tote bag for them! I also made a small coin purse that goes on the snap hook; I don't take my big purse to work as I seldom need money - just a few coins - but the little purse also has some pain killers in it in case my poor knees get too painful! There is enough room for any other personal items plus my diary and a spare pen.

As you can see, the pouch is quite big next to the tote bag. I used a 12 inch zip and the fabric might look familiar - it is the same as the fabric I used for my colleague's drawstring bag. I was given so much of it and am trying to use it up. I didn't make the tote bag; I bought it in South Africa and it has some lovely ethnic designs on the hidden side.

This afternoon I'm going to sit and listen to my book while I work on a cross stitch Disney Princess (Belle) for my granddaughter's birthday card. I love listening to audio books while I work!

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Pink flower wristlet

One of my colleagues has two sisters who both use walking sticks. They have found that small wristlet bags are ideal for use with a walking stick and I have made several for them, including two black and silver evening bags. Well, it's time for them to go on their summer holiday and I received a photo of a pair of cream and pink sandals with a request to make a cream bag with a pink flower on it.

I tried different flowers but decided on an applique flower as I thought it wouldn't catch on anything and, maybe, get pulled off the bag. I used cream 100% cotton for the outer bag and strap and pink 100% cotton for the flower petals. The inner circle of the flower is from a scrap of contrasting fabric I had. There is a matching flower on either side of the bag. I lined the bag with compact fleece (Vilene Thermolan) to give it body and squared off the bottom corners.

Do you see how convenient it is with a walking stick? It means the other hand is free to carry a tote bag or hold a grandchild's hand.

I was all ready to make a black and white wristlet but I don't have a white zip - so frustrating when the nearest shop where I can buy zips is in the centre of the city about 30 minutes away!

On the baking front: I went to visit my friend on Thursday and, as I walked into her house, her husband's hand appeared around the sitting room door. Fortunately, I had a packet of six scones to place in it! I had also left four at home for the Great Golfer to enjoy after his 18 holes.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Sometimes I bake!

I don't bake very often as it would mean that the Great Golfer and I would eat too much cake with unhappy results. I bake scones more than anything else, especially when I'm going to visit one of my friends whose husband won't let me in the door without scones in my hand! Scones are also the Great Golfer's favourite but not even I can make them like his Grandma used to!

However, yesterday I picked up the instore magazine at a supermarket and saw a recipe for Honey Cake. The description says: This is not a big tall cake - it's meant to be quite shallow. It has almost a slightly chewy texture and is bursting with honey flavour. The shallow bit really appealed to me; most of my cakes turn out shallow, intentionally or not, and some have been known to be rather chewy!

So, this morning I baked a Honey Cake.
It looks just like the picture in the recipe. And, yes, we had to do the taste test...

It really is full of honey flavour. I thought that, with all the honey that went into the cake mixture and was then drizzled over the warm cake, it would be sickly sweet but it's not. I've put some in my bag to take to my colleagues at work tonight; I hope they like it too!

Maybe my baking days are taking a turn for the better...

Friday, 10 August 2012

Bags as gifts

At last I've completed the projects I've been busy with - the Olympics allowing, of course!

I made a drawstring gift bag for a colleague's birthday. I included some goodies inside the bag and she was pleased with her gift. Everything for the bag came from my stash: curtain fabric I was given for the outer bag; lining I had; felt I've had for ages. The little buttons in the centre of each flower have been in my button box for many years! I think I bought them about 40 years ago, so they must be vintage. They have obviously been waiting to be used on this bag as they match one of the colours perfectly. I made the drawstrings from the outer fabric using my bias tape maker.

My great niece is getting married next month. Although she has lived in the UK for over ten years, she loves her South African roots so I've made her a tote bag using fabric from the Safari Nights range. I hope she will like it. I used some scraps of the fabric to make two mug rugs for her as well. They are rather bright and turquoise but she does have a turquoise wall in her tiny apartment, so I think she likes the colour!

Monday, 6 August 2012

I am sewing!

I am busy sewing! Just no completed project photos to post yet. I've worked for two nights in a row so I've been sleeping during the day or 'resting' in front of the TV while watching the Olympics!

Watch this space...

Friday, 20 July 2012

Sewing fun!

I woke up this morning and couldn't wait to get to my stash and get some sewing on the go! What a change! This is why:

My granddaughter and her best friend have a blog called: Confessions of a Bake-a-holic. They are both fifteen and share a love of baking. I read their blog yesterday and then remembered that I had some fabric in my stash with cupcakes all over it. As they are going to meet up for a baking binge in a couple of weeks, I thought I would make them matching aprons. I'll see my granddaughter next week and will give the aprons to her then. I hope the girls like them! Here the aprons are in my kitchen:
Happy baking, girls!

Thursday, 19 July 2012


Well, the curtain I made for my colleague fitted the window perfectly with one mistake: the hems for the curtain wires were on the wrong sides! I said that she doesn't have a clue about sewing and I made the assumption that the curtain would fit in one direction when it actually had to be in the other direction! Fortunately, I was able to correct the mistake and the curtain is now in place and her son is very impressed. Phew! That was a relief. Lesson learned: don't make an assumption when sewing something 'blind'!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Life goes on

I thought I should at least write something to keep my blog alive! I haven't done any interesting sewing this week; I don't seem to have the energy to be creative and, with my shifts coming with only one or two nights off between them, I'm either tired or asleep during the day.

My trusty Bernina has not been idle, though. I shortened a pair of waterproof trousers for the Great Golfer to wear on the golf course: rather necessary for the kind of summer we're having! I also shortened a new pair of denims that I bought myself. Having put on weight since I started doing night shifts, I seem to have outgrown most of my trousers. I still have one more pair to shorten.

At the beginning of the week I made a curtain for a colleague. She gave me an existing curtain and I remade it into one to fit the window in the roof of her son's bedroom. I will see her tomorrow to find out if it fits. I found it rather awkward to make something from someone else's measurements (she hasn't a clue about sewing!) and for a window I haven't seen. It was a good example of recycling, though.

Hopefully, I'll feel more energetic in a few days when I have a longer break between shifts. I think I'll make a clutch/writslet using a tutorial by SEWCHRISTINE. You can find it on her blog.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Back in action!

I am back sewing again, at last! My hand is much better, especially since I bought a support for it. There are only a few actions that cause pain: writing by hand; cutting with a knife; using scissors and ironing. The last two don't help with sewing but thank goodness for rotary cutters!

I had to make a colleague a tote bag as a birthday gift. She loves pigs and collects anything with a pig on it. I bought some new curtains at a charity shop some years ago and had one whole curtain left so I was able to 'fussy cut' two pigs out for the outer bag. I completed the front and back with log cabin style patchwork. Inside are two slip pockets, one of which has a rather startled looking sheep on it, as though it has found itself in the wrong bag! There is also a snap hook for keys and the bag closes with a magnetic snap at the top. It is quite a big tote bag but I hope my friend finds it useful as well as fun. I've called it a 'piggy bag' and will put a piggy coffee mug and a chocolate 'Peppa Pig' lolly in it. Here it is:

Monday, 25 June 2012

My Travel Bag

This is what my travel bag looks like.
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Home again

We enjoyed two wonderful weeks in Pigna, Liguria, Italy! The weather was hot and sunny 90% of the time; the local food was delicious; our son and daughter-in-law and grandchildren arrived a few days after we did, having got their visas at last, so a good family time was had by all.

Our apartment was in the medieval village, which was very interesting. The whole experience was what I had envisaged as a holiday in the mountains in Italy: a small village populated by local people and not too commercialised. For the first few days we were able to relax and unwind in peace and quiet before the grandchildren arrived. The photograph below shows me doing what I had dreamed of doing: sitting on the terrace at the apartment doing cross stitch!
We took several day trips by bus or by car and here are the grandchildren, Emily and Alexander, with the backpacks I made for them ready for another adventure.
My travel bag was very useful and I was pleased with it. If I make another one, I will divide the large inside space with a zippered pocket; otherwise it met all my needs.

Unfortunately, I had a fall on the bus going from Nice station to Nice airport on the way home. I put out my right hand to prevent banging my head so banged my hand instead. It became very painful so I went to the hospital yesterday to have it checked out. Fortunately, nothing is broken and it is just soft tissue damage. So I should be able to cut out fabric and begin sewing again before too long. I was worried it would be weeks and weeks before I could sew again! Of course, there is the small matter of having to go to work again on Wednesday night...!! I wonder how long my tan will last??

Friday, 8 June 2012

Packing my bags

These are bags that I will be packing in my suitcase. A simple backpack for each of my two grandchildren. I really made them as packaging for a DVD and a couple of magazines to keep them occupied but they might use them to carry something light.

I'll also pack the grocery tote I made myself from Lisa Lam's new book, 'A Bag for All Reasons'. It might come in handy when I visit the village market.

It's really neat the way it rolls up and fastens with a popper.

The packing will get done this afternoon and we are praying that our family will be able to join us very soon!