Friday, 29 June 2012

Busy Busy Busy

With the fun of the party preparations past it was time this week to get my head down and sort out some more work related matters.

I've not blogged much about what I'm doing with Made and Making but it's keeping me quite busy. I don't want this to become some sort of constant advert for the business side of things. The blogs I've come across that are become dreadfully boring. This is has always meant to be a means of sharing the creativity.

However I can't avoid that Made and Making is now a big part of my life and our home so I can't not mention it at all. 

When I'm not teaching or sewing there are so many other things to think about. There is no one to pass the other jobs on to you see! This week has been focused on finalising the next few months and thinking about the coming holidays for Made by Me. What courses shall I run and thus designing and marketing some children's sewing classes for the school holidays. I've come up with six different workshops, four of which are based around learning to sew using a machine but with different end projects. Someone with experience of a machine would have just as much fun as they would be able to get on quicker and spend more time on the design and improving their finish.

Now some people might be all done with bunting, a bit bored with it after all the jubilee celebrations, but personally I can't get enough and I know it's a favoured project with the pre teens. 

I wanted some other sewing courses so thought about creating creatures which can be done with hand sewing. Jingle bunny as we call him, pictured here on the right, was machine stitched but there is no real need for him to be when being made for an older child. I made him a few years back when Niamh was small but I thought he was colourful critter just right for an inspiring picture. Biscuit bear on the other hand was completely hand stitched and always makes me smile. Being made of felt the possible shapes are endless as it's a much easier textile to work with for these sorts of projects.

A pencil case, or case for anything really (especially if you play with the dimensions which we can),.... but it added the interest of using zips, for those wanting to broaden their skills.

Finally, on the sewing front, making a drawstring rucksack style bag.. handy for school PE kit or popping to friends or anything.

Then I had an idea around something creative with fabric which didn't necessarily mean that you had to sew and created some more fabric art. I'd done these before and showed them at the open house and they got a lot of comments. 

This is another really simple example but the children could, and probably will, be far more adventurous with their designs. Half the fun is just holding and feeling the trims and fabrics whilst your mind gets to work on what you could create. When I made the flower canvas I had no idea what was going to materialise until it did. The key then is to embellish the picture always remembering that less can sometimes be more!

If you are reading and interested in any of these workshops then pop over to the website and take a look. They're running on weekday mornings, 9:30 to 12:30 and an early drop off is available by prior arrangement.

On another note I've also decided to run some evening classes and am launching a session of three, just ahead of the schools breaking up. Feedback during the open house weekend is that so many people are interested but don't have time during the day for a variety of reasons. 
They'll run on a Monday night from the summerhouse at the end of my garden. It's a lovely space that we don't use enough and will be perfect for a small class. Again if you're interested click here. It's a beginners class that will make a cushion. Working over three evening sessions there will be a bit more time than during the weekday sessions to delve into what a machine can really do and how best to use all those presser feet.

I love thinking about what to share with others. I try to ensure that all the projects make something useful that can be used again and again afterwards. There's only so much 'stuff' that we can fit into our lives and homes after all.

 Then it's all about making sure that everyone knows what I'm offering and mastering the techniques for sending creative and interesting emails to grab peoples attention. A little learning journey all about something called Mailchimp!

So there you are. A picture heavy post giving you a colourful insight into what I have been up to.


Monday, 25 June 2012


I'm not sure there's a child that doesn't like a party. As an adult though I'm possibly having more fun organising them! Niamhs birthday party was a little belated this year but, possibly fortunately so with everything that has been going on.

She likes small parties with maybe 8-10 friends which is perfect when you're putting them on at home. I love thinking about the games and trying to add little elements of surprise. I also love putting the party bags together. Ever since Cait was small I've always tried to put a 'thing' in the party bag. I worked out that I would spend a fortune on all the little bits anyway so if I could find one bigger thing all the better. It started with books and bits, multi buys were great but as they get older it gets a little harder. Last year I made all Niamhs friends some of my crayons rolls and gave them a princess colouring book.

It was a bird themed year.... recognise these decorations? Seen that bird somewhere before???!

We played pin the beak on the bird!

I've had my party bag idea for this year in my head for ages. Peg doll fairies. I'd seen some lovely face transfers on ebay and then borrowed an idea, using petals from false flowers, from a set Cait had a few years back. 

Assembling the kits was great fun, I chose a selection of different coloured flowers. 

 I then had to remind myself how to use water slide transfers. There was a bit of a knack to getting the faces on right and a few fell off but I think we got there in the end.

I added ric arc and fabric swatches to make the fairy outfits.....

... until I had 9 different sets all laid out.

Quick type up of some instructions and a photo for inspiration.....

...... and there were 9 party bags ready to go. With the addition of a few sweet treats of course.

The weather was kind to us. No showers, overcast but warm enough to play outside. We had a variety of games. Jumble letters - with two teams where they had to find all the letters in the garden and then use them to spell a word (butterfly in this case). A twist in a common game with  pin the antennae on the butterfly and finally pass the parcel. I did this slightly differently by omitting the sweet in each layer but adding a forfeit. Examples were having to hop on the spot five times, run up and down the garden, sing happy birthday to Niamh etc. If everyone completed the forfeit they all got to take a small sweetie from my sweetie bowl. At a girls party there was of course a little bit of cutting and sticking too.

It went well, they all seemed to have a nice time and we also had a very happy little birthday girl.

I hope you enjoyed your party Niamhy.


Friday, 22 June 2012

Open house Joy

I can't believe that I've not posted about how the weekend went and it's Friday already. I had such a wonderful time. Big thanks to Mr B and my folks for the support with Niamh and a big thanks to all those lovely people that popped by to have a look.

The summerhouse was open from 11 until 5 both days and we were really lucky with the weather. Blustery on the Saturday but much nicer on the Sunday. I even got to sit outside and sew rather then be stuck inside all the time. So yes, it was my idea of heaven really. I took some toadstools ready to be decorated with hand stitches, had some nice music playing in the background, had my kettle for a cuppa and plenty of cakes. It was so peaceful. What more could you want other than nice people to talk to too. Everyone lingered for a while which was lovely. A chance to chat but I also took the compliment that they felt comfortable looking and were enjoying what they saw. I would have hated it if everyone dashed in, looked and left.

It was definitely hard work setting up and packing away, much longer than you would think, but I would love to do it again. So much fun and such lovely people to talk to. The icing on the cake were some sales and also some funds raised, via cake and teas, for Mr B's big sponsored Bike Ride in September. Have I told you he is cycling Lands End to John O'Groats?

It's been a busy old week too. I've been making some blinds for a good friend of mine which are now almost finished but in-between that I've managed to find some time to make some curtains for the house in the garden. Sometimes known as the Bird House, sometimes known as 28c. Whatever you wish to call it, it now looks even cosier inside and is ready for Niamhs party at the weekend.

Maybe not the easiest pics to see but better than nothing?!

Oh and the other little job this week was to make a dear friend a birthday card. I can't believe she's 70 but she is! It might be a bit heavy on the ditsy florals but I like it.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Open house this weekend!

The Hassocks Open Houses are this weekend. I think I'm just about ready! 

All welcome, 11am until 5pm both days.

Hunt the gecko trail for the children, tea and cake for the grown ups.

Sneaky glimpses here but you'll have to come along if you really want to see it all up close.

Hope to see you.


Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Ta Da Moments

Today was definitely a ta da moment. We've had a futon for years and years and will never throw it away as it gets used far too much. At the moment it lives in the summer house at the end of the garden, now known as 28b. It's Mr B's escape location! In honour of all the revamping he has done down there I finally grabbed a few moments to give it a new cover. Mr B chose the stripes but I'm happy to say that I rather like them too. It looks so smart and will be a great retreat. That is of course when Cait isn't down there having one her sleepovers!


Monday, 11 June 2012

My first swap - part two

So a couple of posts ago I told you about the lovely little parcel that I received through the post as part of my first swap. I've had to wait until my swap partner received hers before I could post about it here but I've now got the all clear.

To remind you, the swap needed to be a pincushion or a  needle case made using fabrics from your stash.

Introducing my little parcel! (Very 'me' with the greens and pinky red packaging!)

I had wanted to make a pin cushion as I've been thinking about them recently (I need to make a few for the classes that I'm now running). I wanted it to be cute, bright, charming and homely. I had a look through various images on the internet to get the creative juices flowing and got back to thinking about my little house lavender bags. 

So I tweaked them and came up with this.... what do you think?

Certainly more folksy.  I love the mixture of colours, the ric rac and the ribbon chimney! In fact it was quite hard to package it up and send it off!

I used a check cotton for the back to add an element of surprise, and also to add a little more charm.

All in all I was dead chuffed with the finished article and would have been very happy to have had something similar land on my doormat.

Fortunately Janey, my swap partner, thought so too. Thank you Janey - I'm glad you like it.

I'm now busy making up a few more for the classes!


Sunday, 10 June 2012

Day trip to London

We might be at a slightly damp station waiting for our train to London but look at the signs of summer that I picked from the bottom of the garden first thing!

Our strawberry plants grew so many runners last year and I bedded them all in so we are getting a bumper crop this year.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Big shouts

On lazy days at home (remember those) when you're pottering with half an ear on the radio you'll occasionally hear (depending on your station of choice) someone trying to say hello to someone else. A big shout I think they use to call it. It would normally be a cry of good luck, thank you or "don't forget the......".

Can I do a  blog version please?

On a careers seminar not that long ago I was in a group discussion talking about how, whether we know it or not, we use our friends and family to help and support us. I guess you might say that's rather obvious but, the clever part to all of it apparently is working out what each of those people do to help you and then connecting with them at the right time. So, for example, someone might be really good at bringing out your creative side. What the seminar told me was to recognise who that is and the next time you've writers block or can't get your juices going you should find time to share a coffee with them. It might seem really structured but do you know it's so true that some people can have a really powerful input into an aspect of your life that others closer or dearer to you don't touch. A few people that I have met with recently, on my journey with made and making, have had just that sort of impact and spur me on and motivate me to do so much more.

So what has all this got to do with "big shouts"? 

Well..... there's someone near and dear to me who I want to thank and I've decided that I could possibly make her smile by doing it here! She seems to touch me and help me in so many ways and I love her dearly.

 Boatlady.... you know who you are!

She is one of my dearest friends, whom I've now known for longer that I'd like to admit to. She never ceases to make me laugh and smile about the trials and tribulations of everyday life. Someone who always sees the rosy side of things even when I know she knows theres a black side too. She is the most marvellous friend and my life would be far less rich without her. A chat with Boatlady is a tonic like no other.

So Boatlady thank you... for all that you do.

(these lovely characters are from a very talented lady call Mel and you can find out more about her here.)

Thursday, 7 June 2012

My first swap....

When I browse through other peoples blogs I often come across 'swaps'. A great way to craft with a purpose and hopefully bring a smile to someone's face as they open your little parcel. I've decided it was time that I had a go.

I spotted a pin cushion/needle case swap the other week and it seemed just the ticket. A little project that could be completed in an hour or so.. or even longer depending on what you fancy. The rules are that you have to use fabrics from your stash... Not really a problem for me - plenty to choose from... too many may be?

I've been partnered with a lovely lady called Janey and we've been getting to know each other online. I've pondered lots on what to send and my little parcel has gone off.

Today my surprise arrived through the post. I'm rubbish at waiting for things so rushed in and opened it before even thinking about taking a photo! Janey has chosen to make me a needle case which is just perfect as I don't really have very many and it can be added to my holiday sewing bag ready for our trip in the summer to Morocco. She sounded really apprehensive when she sent it off, and it is slightly nerve wracking, but she was daft to have worried. 

It's got a gorgeous fabric on the inside, Janey is a  liberty fan and I'm wondering if it is or not. But the outside has all been done by hand and I know how time consuming that can be and it's lovely. Janey has a little boy toddling around as well so I know she will have had to have grabbed odd minutes where she can.

It was  a lovely surprise and has brought a smile to my face this morning.

I'll post about what I made her in a day or two as I just need to ensure that she's got it first. I wouldn't want to spoil her surprise.

I think when I know I have the time to do the swap justice that I'll do another. It's been great making a treat for someone and getting to know them.. the surprise that lands on my doormat is the icing on the cake as they say.


Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Jubilee weekend.... or rather Birthday weekend!

It's celebrations all round in our household this weekend as the Queen seems to be marking Niamhs 6th birthday with a few extra activities. Certainly none of us are moaning about a four day weekend of family time.

So with a birthday looming it meant it was time to get the thinking cap on and come up with some simple birthday decorations. (If you are a regular reader you'll know that this is one of our family traditions). Niamh is really enjoying the Rainbow Fairy series of books at the moment, a rather endless series of books but she adores them and reads them to herself over and over again. I was thinking about all things winged and came up with the idea of butterflies.

After a little bit of experimenting I came up with this design. 

It used a template with a circular shape and a square shape slightly overlapping each other. Working diagonally across the shape from the square to the circle you then concertina the paper. Paper worked much better than card as you could fan it out far easier, it was also much easier to work with. The smaller the concertina the better as well. The final stage was holding everything in place and I settled on using pipe cleaners which were a doodle. I did try a few with ribbon but if the ribbon was too thick it didn't work so well and if the ribbon was too flimsy the antennae didn't look so good. 

They were a doodle to make, the only time consuming part was my decision to make about 30. The normal size ones were made with A4 paper and the larger ones made to A3 scale. I've a colour photocopier at home so made my own papers for this but in hindsight using wrapping paper may have been far most cost effective and more efficient on the paper too as there were lots of scrap.

So on Saturday morning after a frenzy of butterfly activity on Friday night we had one very happy little girl! I can't believe that she is 6! Her party is not until towards the end of the month because of so many people being away for the Jubilee/Half Term.

Our Big Birthday Day Out Saturday was fun - after a great lunch at an Indonesian restaurant in Brighton we took to the sky on the large wheel currently in residence on Brighton seafront. It was then a quick trip to the 2p sliders on the pier before a trip home for tea and cake in the garden. What a lovely day.

But I'm fortunate enough to have had a lovely weekend... all 4 days of it. 

Sunday we spent around the home and I got lots of making done, completing my finishing touches for some first classes to be taught this weekend. Ever since seeing the cotton reel wreath at the Makery in Bath I had wanted an excuse to try my hand and I've decided that it could be a lovely decoration for my craft workshops. So Sunday afternoon I assembled all my old reels and had a go. It could perhaps do with a little rejig here and there but overall it really makes me smile. It's all held in place by a base structure of an embroidery loom. You can't really see it now but I guess that's the point!

I also finished off my bunting that I have been working on for nearly the whole of the last week. I've been collecting old bedding when it's had a pattern that has appealed. It's such a cost effective way of getting hold of large pieces of fabric and often the prints and colours are great. This week I've spent lots of time cutting out triangles, sewing them, turning them, iron them and, finally, binding them all together. I hope to get a couple more pictures to show it in all its glory but until then this shot will have to suffice. The multicoloured floral print on the right hand side was an off cut from ikea, left over from a project, but that's the only 'new' piece. All the rest really was bedding that I've found. I've managed to make over 150ft of this and I can't wait to see it in situ in the hall later this week.

Monday was a lovely family gathering for which the weather wasn't too unkind before the street party today.

The rain did set in during the afternoon which saw a rather earlier close than might otherwise have happened but for the few fair hours that we had it was lovely to see everyone out, chatting, eating and generally having a lovely time. We live in a lovely road and normally only see people to drive past them so it was a treat to have the time to chat. Our local organisers did a fantastic job and I am very grateful to them for everything they did.

Everything has been a little too much for Caoimhe though and she's settle down nestled next to Mr B in a rather adorable pose. If you look closely underneath her chin you can see that she has crossed her paws! She had a rather unexpected adventure yesterday getting stuck on a neighbours roof, fortunately a bungalow. I'm not sure how long she'd been up there, as we found her then when we got back from the family gathering at about half 6, but lets just say she seemed quite hungry and thirsty when she finally got down.

I hope you've had a lovely weekend too. It seems that the rain may have arrived for half term but you never know.... the weather men could be wrong.