2D Zoo Quilt

I made this quilt recently for my friend’s new baby. I bought the fat quarter set with the intention of making a baby quilt some time ago because I really love the Alexander Henry 2d Zoo print in the primary colourway and thought the coordinating fabrics were a great match.

I backed it with a piece of linen cotton I bought from Namolio on Etsy ages ago (I think at least 6 years!). It has a lovely wobbly red stripe across the back which matched beautifully with the red on the front. I also tried the Cluck Cluck Sew machine binding method to save some time and was pleasantly surprised by how neat and quick it was! I think I will use this technique on my huge Patchwork Prism quilt which I was not looking forward to binding!

I gave the quilt with a pair of little trousers I made using the pattern from Handmade Beginnings.

 

I have since had a couple of requests for similar quilts but there is no 2D Zoo in the primary available in the UK! I enjoyed using my stash as a resource to make a practical and well received gift.

Kids Clothes Week: Mustard Paris Skirt

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I managed to miss the last KCW – even though I knew it was happening there was far too much going on at that time to even think about sewing! It’s still fairly hectic here but KCW always gives me a bit of momentum..its also very satisfying to be able to get a small useful item done in a short space of time. 

I had to abandon my first KCW project – a cord polka dot jumper dress, as one of the fabric pieces has mysteriously disappeared into thin air and there isn’t enough to cut another. Hopefully it will appear before the end of the week, but I have given up searching for it now to preserve my sanity! 

This morning I pulled out a mustard coloured cotton which I bought on Etsy a while ago, and decided to make a skirt. I had pinned the Paris skirt tutorial a few days ago and it seemed like it would work with the fabric so used that. The little bit of maths at the beginning is very simple and makes it so easy to customise the skirt – my daughter was asleep so I estimated her waist size and the final skirt turned out to be a good fit with a bit of room to grow. 

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will have to remember to cut those thread before photographing next time! 

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I have some plans for tops to match this skirt – a lovely white and red polka dot Nani Iro double gauze and a charcoal floral print. I’m sure I’ll be making more of these skirts too – I think it would be great in a floral cord or quilting cotton too.

2014

It took quite a long time for the dust to settle after our holidays, what with returning to work, illness and family gatherings, but I am finally back blogging! We had a wonderful trip to the Middle East, and spent time with family and friends there. Our priorities were relaxation and eating great food, so not many photos were taken! But here are a few photo highlights: 

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Sumptuous food at Kitchen 6 in Dubai – so many different cuisines on offer including a wonderful roast turkey meal. I especially enjoyed seeing my son eating a baby octopus – he even surprised himself!

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The market place at Global Village – admittedly a little kitschy but the goods on offer are genuine enough. The Yemen market had some beautiful displays of dried herbs and fruit, and we tried some Sidr honey which is prized for its medical benefits and fine quality. 

 

 

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Sultan Qaboos mosque in Muscat, which was beautiful and serene. We were a bit disappointed that no (well behaved!) children under 10 were allowed in, but as the weather was good we enjoyed being outside during the Friday prayers. 

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The view from our hotel in Musannah

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The kids enjoying the view 

 

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The stunningly restored fort at Nizwa surrounded by mountains. 

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Nizwa fort

As you can tell, it took a bit of time to adjust to the weather and change in pace when we got back! I attended the London Modern Quilt Guild meeting soon after we got back and am looking forward to starting some new projects and learning new skills. I’ve also made my first fabric purchase in a long time – of course it is Anna Maria Horner’s new line, Dowry which looks beautiful. I am hoping I can sort out the rest of the decorating too so I can finally show what I have been busy with! 

 

 

Giveaway winners!

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway, especially all of you who now follow my blog! The winners are below:

1) Winner of the Fat 1/8th set of Andalucia fabrics:

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MoeWest – congratulations!

2) Winner of the 2nd fat 1/8th set

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Kelly Williams

3) Winner of the Aurifil thread set Image

The final  winner is Beezus.

I will be in touch with you all so I can send you your prize! Thank you again to all those who entered, and I am planning to host more giveaways in the new year.

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day!

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I thought I had missed this and was disappointed, as it was fun last year. I see that I can still add my link though so will join in again!

I am giving away 2 fat 1/8th sets of this gorgeous Andalucia fabric by Patty Young – I love this line especially the little flower print, it really has a mediterranean feel, especially in the bright hot pink/orange shades! I made my daughter a peasant dress in one of the prints and she had lots of compliments on it.

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I also have this lovely Aurifil thread set to give away, this came from the Fat Quarterly retreat and is a great way to try out a few different weights of Aurifil, especially if you have never tried it.

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I will ship internationally so anyone can enter! Please leave me a comment, or follow me for an extra entry (just add an extra comment to say you have followed).  You can also like me on Facebook for a 3rd entry! Thank you and please have a look around while you are here!

The giveaway is now closed, thanks for those who entered! I will announce the competition winners shortly. 

Mandela

Nelson Mandela's cell by azmiat Nelson Mandela’s cell, a photo by azmiat on Flickr.

We visited Robben Island in 2006, and since Nelson Mandela’s death I have been thinking about his time in that cell, condemned to life behind bars, particularly since my own grandfather has been subjected to the same unjust treatment.

As a young man, he must have had many moments of despair. It would be difficult not to be bitter when looking back on the time he would never regain with his family and friends, but his philosophy was of looking forward instead of at past injustices.He even worked with his former oppressors to build a new South Africa based on freedom for all races.

This isn’t a blog about politics, but it is amazing to have seen something of Mandela’s life, as I don’t know of another person in the world who is so universally respected and admired. His long life is a testament to the dignity that comes from holding onto one’s principles.

Minimalist Crafting

I’ve had a busy time over the last few months with having the house redecorated and rethinking how to manage our rather cluttered home. Although I am definitely more magpie than minimalist, I have started to rethink what we keep and whether it has value in our home or not. For ages, I have tried to keep things organised with more storage but have realised that stuff expands to fill the space available! And then I read something which made complete sense – you can’t organise clutter.

Since then, I have eBayed, Freecycled, and given away a number of possessions but still have a long way to go with craft items. I have been reading the Miss Minimalist blog, however I think her philosophy is a little too extreme for me – I think of a home as a warm, comfortable place to come back to; I  like lots of books to flick through and be inspired by, colourful piles of yarn and fabric, pictures and photos that remind me of good memories. At the same time, with stashing comes guilt. Recently I’ve been occupied with a crawling (now walking) baby, going back to work, and decorating, and there has been little time to sew and knit (besides the small problem of the sewing machine being in the room the baby sleeps in).The boxes of yarn and fabric have become something I ‘should’ use up and another source of clutter. I also worry about finished objects becoming part of the problem too, I mean who needs the worry of shawl clutter on top of all the other stresses in life!

I went to the London Modern Quilt Guild meeting yesterday and feel inspired to get back to sewing, but at the same time I’d like to keep the stash in check and at a level I am comfortable with. I revisited the Slow Stashing article on Knitter’s Review and think it is a great way of making sure the stash is a ‘happy place’. I have decided on a few ground rules for now which should help me to keep my crafting more minimalist. 

1. Knit/sew from stash – sounds obvious, but it is so tempting to buy just the right print for your project instead of using something you already have. Sewing or knitting from stash is doubly gratifying – you’ve made something beautiful and cleared space in your house. I also find it wasteful to keep buying when I already have so much and have felt less and less tempted to splurge recently.  

2. Sell/give away what I don’t intend to use or feel uninspired by. What can’t be sold can always be given away – I have previously not wanted to part with things I’ve paid good money for, but there is a pleasure in giving away things to people who really appreciate them. I gave away a bundle of embroidery magazines to an old lady who shared them with a group of elderly/disabled people and she was so grateful and appreciative. 

3. Approach Pinterest/Flickr with caution – there is a lot of scope for inspiration, but also the temptation of ‘oh I can make that!’ and before you know it, you’ve bought the yarn/fabric and added to the monster stash! 

4. Reduce the number of crafts – I now have scrapbooking, knitting, and sewing supplies, as well as small amounts of jewellery making supplies, yarn dyes and beads. I don’t enjoy the fiddliness of jewellery making and beading so it is probably time to let those go to a good home. 

5. I have more patterns than I have time to make them. So it’s ok to let go of the ones that are so far down the queue that they are unlikely to ever get made. 

6. Have only 1 or 2 projects on the go at a time – this reduces the frustration of never getting anything finished, and reduces clutter as there are fewer half finished bits of fabric hanging around. It also minimises the chance of said bits of fabric getting lost and having to dig out the pattern and cut the piece out again. 

7. Have a dedicated space for crafting which is available when I am free. This is going to be in the living room which has now been divided into two areas. That way I can sew in the evenings or when the baby is asleep. 

8. Make things that can be used and appreciated by others. Sounds obvious, but I often like making shawls, and don’t know anyone who wears them so don’t feel I can give them as gifts! Mittens, scarves, children’s hats, sewn items like aprons, potholders, table runners, pillowcases, bags and pouches are all useful and more likely to be used. 

I think that’s it for now! I’d love to hear your ideas for minimalist crafting or at least keeping the stash under control!

Reversible Staple Dress

I bought the Staple Dress pattern from M is for Make a couple of months ago, and thought it would work really well with a reversible gauze I bought a couple of years ago. I couldn’t really think of a pattern that would make the most of both sides until I came across this one. As you can see, the reverse fabric shows through because of the dipped hem so I thought it made an interesting contrast.

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This is the ‘wrong side’ of the fabric, but I wear it just as much this way round. Sorry about the wonky photo!

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This is the best photo I could get of me wearing it! Unfortunately there is never anyone on hand to take a picture for me.

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I do like having pockets, and actually made the whole dress with pockets initially, which meant that it was not reversible. I had a change of heart so had to rip out all my sewing and overlocking, and started again! The second time, I used French seams on both sides, which provided a neat seam on both sides. For the bottom of the skirt, I cut a separate piece of fabric on the bias and sewed it all around the edge (same technique as for the neck and arm holes). Unfortunately my sewing machine was not working well and the fabric kept pulling – I only thought to change the needle after I had nearly finished, and the tip was broken! I did one row of shirring as I don’t like things too tight around my waist.

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I wore my new dress on an outing to Dulwich (to buy Annie Sloan chalk paint, more on that later!). The photo above was taken in Ed on North Cross Road, and we finished with a latte and raspberry financier at Gail’s.

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Book Review : Labour of Love

I have recently purchased Lullaby Knits by Vibe Ulrike Sondergaard, after seeing Labour of Love at Loop last year. Labour of Love caught my eye with its beautiful cloth bound cover and vintage style photography, and most importantly, wonderful patterns.

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The patterns are mostly intermediate to advanced, although there are a few simpler patterns that an ambitious beginner could try.

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The pattern on the right is my favourite in the book – the textured yoke and rows of cabling are time consuming but will result in a stunning piece of work that will be treasured.

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The cardigan below is also beautiful, the lace pattern and edging are delicate but it still looks warm and practical. The little model is sweet too!

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This feather and fan jacket is also a pretty piece which would look lovely and work up quickly.

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There are several shawls in the book as well including this mohair scarf.

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Not all the patterns are to my taste however, such as the loopy waistcoat and a couple of the skirts, but overall this book represents amazing value for the quality of the designs and the presentation. It would be an ideal gift for a knitter with a little girl. My only reservation at the time was that the patterns were sized for 3-8 year old girls, so it would be a long time before my daughter would fit into anything! Lullaby Knits is therefore perfect for me at the moment as the patterns are for babies up to 2 years old.

Otto Day Cardigan

After the Clara dress, I wanted a nice quick warm knit. The Otto Day cardigan has been in my queue for a while and I thought it would be the ideal project.

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I knit the 12 month size. Having knit the short sleeves, I realised they’d be too tight for my chubby girl so decided to turn them into long sleeves. I increased by 2 stitches every 6 rows approx 10 times. They are a little long, so should last for a few more months. She does enjoy chewing the cuffs though!

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The yarn is Rico Merino Aran, and I used nearly 3 balls in total. The yarn is very soft and good value for money. It is also holding up well with just a bit of fuzzing.

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I really enjoyed knitting this cardigan – it came together quickly and will be a useful addition to the wardrobe over the winter. I love the texture of double moss stitch but would probably not want to make a bigger project than this as it did get a bit tedious.