Tuesday 31 January 2012

Silver Birch Tree

I have mentioned before how much our family loves the local library. I have always loved books, and love to foster a love for books in my children also. But more than that, there is the excitement of not knowing what you are going to find from one week to the next. I love that our city libraries rotate books around, so the half a shelf of craft books are not always the same ones. The sense of anticipation before a trip to the library is similar to that before a trip to an op-shop - but the library has the added advantage of not emptying your wallet!

One of the lovely, romantic things my husband does from time to time is surprise me with some library books he has chosen for me at the city library on his way home from work. The intention is always super sweet but the books can be a bit hit and miss. However, he did this recently and hit a real winner. The book is called "Embroidery For All Seasons", by Diana Lampe with Jane Fisk, published by Milner.

WOW! This book really got me itching to pick up needle and thread. It also totally intimidated me! Check out this illustration below - the book is roughly A4 size, and this illustration covers the entire page, and is life-sized. Isn't that AMAZING??

 Anyway, suffice to say I could not long hold off actually attempting something from the book. Most of the designs required too many different colours, outside of my current collection of threads, but the silver birch caught my eye (below right, as illustrated in the book). It required only 3 colours, and while I did not have the exact correct numbers, I thought they were close enough. I learned some new stitches, and thoroughly enjoyed the process. My attempt is below left, as stitched on simple, unbleached calico. I think the embroidery hoop frames the tree nicely (as seen in the pic at the top of the post).

 This has satisfied my craving for now, but I may just have to put the book on my birthday list this year, so I can attempt some of the other beautiful designs in the book.

Monday 30 January 2012

Retro Babies

 Yes. That does say $3. What a bargain! I found this gorgeously illustrated 1970s sewing book at my local op-shop, and just HAD to buy it. And yes, the patterns are all still there, and still in their plastic wrapper. Hurray!
The illustrations are almost as irresistible as the vintage patterns! I love just looking at it!

 Of course, I would actually like to make some of the clothes in the book, but have too many other projects on the go at the moment to get started. So for now, just feasting my eyes on the sweetness will have to do.

 The real benefit for me with these patterns is that they are made for wearing over cloth nappies. As a user of modern cloth nappies, I often find that the modern clothes are difficult to fit - especially onesies. When they fit baby in the torso, they are too tight around the nappy, as they are usually made to be worn over disposables.
 I'd love to try my hand at some of these gorgeous little ruffle panties and overdress sets. They remind me of some of the amazing clothing that my friend Kathryn of Kathryn's Creations makes - check out her online store.

 Where do you get your sewing/crafting inspiration from?

Saturday 28 January 2012

Another Envelope Needle Book

Just another envelope needle book, similar to the ones mentioned in my previous post. Thanks again to Kelly Rachel and her em ay kay ee blog for the tutorial and template to make this.

I have so much fun with these and they are so quick to whip up!

Friday 27 January 2012

Trust, Dream, Believe, Hope, Expect

I am quite enjoying expanding my embroidery skills at the moment. I have rather limited embroidery experience, with a small number of stitches only. Recently, I have been inspired to try to master some stitches that I have tried without success previously. Such as padded satin stitch. Google helped me locate Mary Corbet's 'Needle'N Thread' blog, containing some very useful hints about how to do this stitch.

What better project to try it out on then this prayer journal cover I designed as a present for a friend?

I used the padded satin stitch technique as outlined by Mary Corbet on her blog - split stitch to outline the words, then padding stitches perpendicular to the direction the final satin stitches would lay, followed by the top layer of stitching in single strand of thread.

As you can see, I am still getting some puckering, I will have to work on that! But on the whole, I am quite happy with the end result, and I hope my friend is too!

Friday 20 January 2012

Ribbons and Buttons...Oh My!

Photo credit: Lara Hata, via Country Living
Ribbons and buttons. Oh, how I love them! It's funny how a beautiful piece of ribbon or a unique button can give a little thrill. I once read that buttons are like confectionery for adults - that really resonated with me! That was in Jane Brocket's book, "The Gentle Art of Domesticity". She went on to talk about the sad decline in the number of button shops. Can you imagine - shops that only stock buttons! Not online stores, but real, honest-to-goodness physical stores that are piled from floor to ceiling with beautiful buttons!That is the sort of shop that I could spend hours and hours in, and I am NOT much of a shopper.

These shops DO still exist, apparently, as I found out while looking for pics for this post. I wish Brisbane had some...

Ok, pulling myself out of my daydreaming here. I remember the excitement whenever Mum would get out her button tin for some terribly practical purpose like trying to find a replacement button for a lost one on some trousers. I LOVED trawling through that tin, picking up any that caught my eye, examining them closely, and secretly hoping Mum would say 'you can have that one if you like'. Not that I had any plan in mind for it. I just LIKED it. 

My ribbons on paddle-pop stick bobbins

And ribbons! What joy when a present came wrapped in a bit of REAL ribbon, not just some curling plastic stuff. It was often just as much of a gift as what was inside. That reminds me of a very sweet moment on the second season of BBC TV version of Lark Rise to Candleford, when Robert Timmins buys his wife Emma a piece of ribbon - as I remember it, it was a very romantic gesture, an extravagance they could not afford, but spoke volumes of his love for her.

I have my very own ribbon and button stashes now. Most of my buttons came from op-shops, and many of my ribbons were saved from gifts. For Christmas, my hubby bought me some buttons - does he know me or what? I recently stole his collection of paddle-pop sticks to wind my bits of ribbon on, as they were all jumbled up and making a big mess. The paddle-pop sticks worked a treat, as you can see above!

I used to store my buttons in old jars, which looks so cute, but I find it is not very practical. I like to rifle through the buttons when choosing them for projects, so a shallow container suits better. Or a series of shallow containers with buttons sorted in colours.

Fun, fun, fun! Doesn't this just make you wanna go do some craft??

Monday 9 January 2012

A New Diary Cover For A New Year

 Can you believe that 2012 is already upon us? I am a little behind, I know. I LOVE NEW YEARS! I have always loved the fresh start, the new diaries, the new school books and stationery, all full of promise for an exciting year ahead. I love writing in my new diary, putting all the important birthday reminders in, scheduling things months ahead of time, anticipating the events...perhaps this is why I just can't get into using a virtual calendar, whether on my phone or computer. It just does not have the same anticipatory thrill for me as writing things on the clean, crisp paper of a new diary.

This year, as last year, I have a Frankie diary. As you can see from the pics (from the Frankie website) to the right, the diary is quite lovely inside and out. However, I have a thing about needing to make a new cover each year. This year, I wanted to try a cute embroidery design I found in a book titled 'Simple Embroidery Designs', published by Ondori. The simple but effective houses on the front cover of this book really caught my eye.

I also wanted to experiment with using carbon paper to transfer designs onto fabric. In the past, I have generally just done freestyle embroidery, or else drawn the design directly onto the fabric with a washable or fading marker. I love the idea of drawing my own designs, or using children's drawings, or my brilliantly talented husband's sketches, but have not really attempted any method of transferring designs onto fabric yet.

As you can see, I have used some of the designs from the book on my diary cover. I wanted the overall style of the cover to reflect a zakka style, hence the natural linen and red linen, plus the running stitch as a feature. I actually decided to hand stitch this cover, as I felt it was right for the style.

On the whole, I am fairly happy with how it turned out, except that I probably need to add some interfacing for more stability. Also, there are places where the carbon paper tracing shows through (as shown below). I am not sure how to get rid of that, or if it is possible - any suggestions? I did try hand-washing the fabric, but it didn't seem to make much of a difference. I guess I just need to be more careful with the process of tracing the design in the first place. Oh well, that is what experimenting is for, right?


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