Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Guest Post

Today I'm guesting it over at the UK Handmade blog. Woop! Hop on over for a read. I, meanwhile, shall be basking in the gorgeous sunshine, making the most of it before autumn kicks in!

Friday, 27 August 2010

Folksy Friday

Where has August gone?? I can't believe it's August bank holiday already! The summer has flown by much to fast for my liking. Boo! However we are due some more lovely weather next week so we'll have to make the most of it.

It is once again back to school time and it used to be one of my favourite time of year as a kid. I've always enjoyed learning and reading, but I loved it mainly because it meant new stationary! In my opinion there's nothing better than a fresh pad of paper, or breaking in a new pen. So here are my Folksy Friday back to school favourites:

Screen printed notebooks by Kicking & Biting.

Small tote / book bag by Polka.

Pencil pocket by Loratwinkle.

Fabric book marks by Fashion Cake.

I Love Buttons Notebook by Asking For Trouble.

So does anyone have any bank holiday plans? BF phoned me excitedly about 20 mins ago to announce that he had the day off on Monday. Neither of us had realised he would so we haven't made any plans yet. We were away last weekend so maybe we'll stay here and get some of the millions of films we've Sky+'d watched!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Book Review: Made at Home

So I've been meaning to review this book for a while now. Made at Home by Lisa Stickley is the perfect book for the novice seamstress. It combines the simplest of sewing techniques with beautiful fabrics to produce homemade, stylish furnishings.

I love the introduction to this book. Lisa is very much of the same school of thought as I am when it comes to sewing - give it a try and see what happens. This book proves that you don't have to be a whiz with a sewing machine to produce some really beautiful handmade items.

The book begins with an extremely comprehensive guide to basic sewing stitches and techniques - together with illustrated diagrams I have to say it's one of the best no-fuss sewing aids I've seen yet in a book of it's kind, and I'd have appreciated something similar to help me when I began to sew.

Projects range from simple napkins, tea cosies and table runners to more complex pouffes, curtains and roman blinds, and are grouped together by rooms of the house. Even the more complicated patterns are manageable to the novice sewer after attempting a few of the easier patterns. Instructions are simple and refreshingly easy to follow, and all of the techniques used are explained in the first portion of the book.

I would have liked to see more photographs of the finished items as I know if I were attempting to sew my own furnishings for the first time, I'd like a comparison to see if mine had turned out right, but there are quirky illustrations to help with all of the projects. All in all I think this book ticks all the boxes for the creative homemaker wanting to give handmade furnishings a go and looking for a bit of guidance and inspiration.

The book is published by Quadrille Publishing ltd and is priced at £16.99. And you can even nab yourself a signed copy here!

Monday, 23 August 2010

Custom order

My latest custom order is making its way over the Atlantic to the US of A!

I really like this one actually. I hope little Tom will enjoy it for many years to come.

Hoping to get some sewing done on my weekend away turned out to be a case of wishful thinking in the end. We were beaching it during the day and stayed up till the wee hours both nights - fun times! But now I have a lot to be cracking on with this week. I have a craft fair at the weekend and custom orders to make, so I'll be spending some quality time with Purl over the next few days. Hopefully she won't be in a mischievous mood!

Friday, 20 August 2010

Folksy Friday

Today I'm the guest poster over on the Folksy blog! Woop! Hop on over to see my penpal themed finds.

It's a beautiful day here today and I'm off caravaning with friends in Donegal this weekend. Hoping to get some sewing done whilst I'm there but I' m not sure whether that's being a bit optimistic!

But in the mean time my tomatoes will be enjoying some much needed sunshine. They're on the brink of turning orange today. I can't wait to chop up some home grown toms in a salad. Nom nom! Anyways it's back to the sewing machine for me before I pack up and enjoy a couple of days away!

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Busy Busy Busy

Sorry I've not been paying the blog too much attention recently.This week I've been attending a workshop collaboration between Mission Hall Quilts and ceramic artist Gail Mahon.

There's been lots of sorting and cutting fabrics (into hexagons no less, and you all know how I looove hexies!!) and we'll be moving over to the sewing machines soon. I'd hoped to have a few pics to show you but stupid me left with my memory card still in the computer today so I'll have to take some another day.

Oh and those of you lucky people off to the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, be sure to stop by stand F51 and say hi to the lovely ladies from Mission Hall Quilts!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

No Baking Powder

As my parents were staying last weekend and we were going to be spending an afternoon with BF's parents I decided to bake. Fairy cakes (or cupcakes or buns - whatever you want to call them!) are easier to share than a whole cake, especially when there are a large number of you, so I set to work.

I've used the same recipe always for plain sponges, so whipped it up in no time and eagerly watched the minutes ticking by as they baked in the oven.

But upon opening the oven door I discovered these flat-as-a-pancake buns instead of my lovely fluffy fairy cakes! I'm sure I must have copied the recipe down wrong because there was no call for baking powder, and surely they must have needed it? They hadn't risen one tiny bit.

Well there was no time for a second batch so on goes the green icing and away we go! They were well received and tasted yummy, even if they looked more like biscuits than cakes. Oh well - imperfections are what makes us unique right??

Friday, 13 August 2010

Folksy Friday

For ages now I've been keeping my eye out for the perfect fabric to make cushion covers. Because we live in a rented house with neutral walls there's no real colour scheme so I really don't know where to start! I do know that I'd like four different patterns - maybe a log cabin, a nine patch, some embroidery and applique - the possibilities are endless! So for now I'm just waiting for a fabric to jump out at me.

But until then, here are a selection of beautiful handmade cushions available on Folksy:

This pretty little floral patchwork cushion is made by House Proud Cindy. I can just imagine this snuggled on a kitchen bench in a country cottage!

This polka dot patchwork cushion is part of Mia Design's range of children's handmade items.

This cute little applique bird cushion is one of several bird themed items made by Needles and Buttons.

A Lucky Child has a beautiful range of kids quilts and cushions, including this vibrant pillow.

And finally this beautiful log cabin patchwork cushion is made by Sew Gorgeous. I love these colours together and pretty floral fabrics.

So that's another week done and dusted then. I have good food and good company to look forward to this weekend as my Mum and Dad arrived safely yesterday. And lots of knitting too!

Thursday, 12 August 2010

On My Craft Table

On my craft table (or rather my knee) today is some more custom bunting. Oh how I love the days where I get to settle into an arm chair with a massive mug of tea and blanket stitch the hours away.

Lets see if you can guess which country this one is being shipped off to!

I'm not actually going to spend the entire day blanket stitching though - My parents are an hour and a half away so I have until lunch time to enjoy some peace and quiet. Then my house will be invaded by West Country and Welsh babble. Happy days!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Wishlist Wednesday

I have a wish list of things that I'd eventually like to own. My friend Heather refers to hers as her "Grownup Wish List". Things she'd like when she's married and settled. I have so much stuff on my Grownup Wish List I thought I'd start a Wish List Wednesday and share some of them with you.

So first up on my wish list is a vintage sewing machine. I love love love them! I don't know why they don't make them as pretty anymore. (Shh - don't tell Purl I don't think she's pretty or she'll huff and stop working for me!)

I spent hours on eBay t'other day swooning over vintage sewing machines. They're actually not as expensive as I'd imagined, but if I were to get one, I'd want it in it's original table and truth be told I just don't have the room for one at the mo. Boo!

One day I'll be posting pictures of my very own vintage sewing machine. But for the time being I'm resolved to looking at pictures, and dreaming of these intricate designs:

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

More bees please

I think I'm developing a thing for bees. Now I hate hate hate wasps with a passion so I'm quite surprised with my latest obsession.

I've never really paid them much attention but since I now have my own garden to attend to I've noticed them more and more.

They're actually really cute and fascinating to watch. As I've mentioned before I have about 6 resident bees that buzz around my lavender bush but wind, plus constant hopping from one flower to the next equals an unhappy camera focus so no piccies of them sorry.

But all of this bee rambling does have a point. T'other day I saw that Katie from A Stitch in Time had started selling prints under the name Flemying Design Photography and was having a giveaway. You had to hop on over to her shop and tell her your favourite print for a chance to win.

Well over I went and fell in love with this little fella:

How sweet is he?? And I only went and won didn't I! So this morning Mr postie dropped the 8x8 inch print of Eryngium with Bee through my letterbox. I'm gonna have to go out and find the perfect frame to put it in now.

Katie has just started up a new blog and facebook page, so go check them out. She has some really beautiful pictures.

Monday, 9 August 2010

In the Garden

I spent most of my weekend pottering around the garden, looking after my veggies and collecting seed pods.

One plant I never need to bother about is my Lavender bush. It was here when we moved in and it thrives in about 2 inches of stony soil. I'm going to have to prune it when it stops flowering this year as it's become somewhat unruly, but for now it's in full bloom, much to my, and the bees' enjoyment.

So this year for the first time I started to cut my lavender. It started off as something to decorate the table with at a barbecue we had, but then of course the more flowers you cut the more fresh blooms that grow.

So I thought I'd cut as much as I can and dry it to eventually make some lavender hearts. May as well make the most of the things you have at hand right? I grew up in a lavender scented house but my mother preferred burning oil to fresh lavender so I'm learning as I go.

But it seems to be going well - I have a bit zip lock bag full of dried buds so far and the bush looks untouched. I'm just waiting for the rain to ease off so that I can go out and cut some more. I'm trying not to cut them all at once as the bees wouldn't be very happy about that! But there are plenty of fresh buds appearing daily. And in the mean time my house smells heavenly. Happy Days!

Friday, 6 August 2010

Folksy Friday

Fridays seem to be getting sneakier and sneakier this summer. It's Monday morning, a whole new week is stretched out in front of you, then all of a sudden Friday creeps up faster than you can say Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch! OK admittedly it's gonna take some time to get that one out but it's such a fantastic word I had to chuck it in there.

Anyways anyways it would seem that it is once again time for a Folksy Friday and today I thought I'd choose fascinators. I have agreed to make a couple of hundred paper pom poms for my friends wedding next year and all that wedding talk last week got me starting to think about what to wear. Naturally I started with the accessories, and here's a few of my favourite hair adornments:

This beautiful peacock feather fascinator is made by Pearl and Ivy. All of their fascinators are lovely and they even give you instructions on how to wear your hair with them. I'll be giving it a go!

I love the fucia / magenta colour combo going on in this fascinator, sold by Talulah Blue. You'll also find corsages, brooches and even garters in the shop - one stop for wedding accessories!

I love love love this one! This "Beachball Headpiece" is made from ball pool balls and is sold by Hatastic! who sells several alternative and more traditional fascinators.

This magenta Flapper Fascinator is sure to stand out. Also available in aqua, cream and white, this 1920s inspired piece is sold by ClaraBows.

And finally this sweet Singapore Fascinator is from a range of handmade veils and fascinators sold by Tied & Feathered.

Now if I'm honest I'm probably more likely to go for something similar to the first one; I'm not really one for big, bright & loud. But they're all so much fun! I'm trying to picture my friends face if I turned up on her big day with beach balls stuck to my head. Hehe!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Getting To Know You: Anthony Cooley

So for a while now I've been wanting to do a series of crafter interviews, and who better to start with than a guy I met at a party 9 months ago. It wasn't until a while later, through the joys of social media, that I found out exactly how talented he was. I'll let him tell you a bit about himself.

Introduce yourself:
Hello my name is Anthony Cooley. I am a 24 year old artist from Derry, northern Ireland who works mainly in the area of illustration but also likes to dabble in other areas such as animation and concept art.

Tell us a bit about yo
ur design background:

Since I was very young, art has always been in my blood. My grandfather was a very talented artist himself so I believe it was him who passed on his artistic flare to myself. Growing up, drawing was always my favourite pastime and in school regrettably every other subject apart from art fell to the wayside because i always knew it would take me somewhere. A funny story is that in 3rd year at school i actually dropped art as a subject in favour of accountancy. Turns out that in my first day of accountancy class i had a major reality check which saw me drop that and rightfully take up art once again. Numbers, scary stuff indeed. I have submitted my work to various art competitions over the years and have been quite successful in winning these as i grew up. After school I enrolled in the north west institute for a 2 year course in art where i had the best 2 years of my educational life. It was such a blast doing just art for a change. After that I attended Magee university in Derry
for the next 3 years of my life studying design and communication and further nurturing my little artistic baby. I emerged from Magee university 2 years ago with a first class honours in my degree feeling empowered and ready to set the world alight with my artistic skills.

Who / what inspires you?

Hmmm... what inspires me?... Well actually a lot inspires me in creating my illustrations. I take great inspiration from other artists who are doing the same thing, I guess I kind of feed off of other artists' enthusiasm for their own work and apply it to my own. It's a big world out there and there is a lot of positive things happening in the world of art. Other things that inspire me would be music, computer games, film, nature... well pretty much everything to be honest. There are also times where I'm not even looking for inspiration and suddenly the littlest thing can set off a whole can of worms in my head. It might be a word, a noise, a smell, anything. Just the other day i noticed a
splash of paint on a wall near where i live that had some really interesting shapes to it. Right away the shapes came to life and i started to see characters and scenery emerge before me. I think if one possesses a creative mind they see things most other people don't notice in every day life. Artists whose worki really love are Alex Pardee and Oliver Jeffers.

Tell us a bit about your creative space:

I basically do all of my work at the moment in my studio at home, (cough cough, my bedroom a
herm...) but hopefully soon I can be successful enough to get my very own art studio that's not located 2 metres from my bed haha. I work best when left in peace in quiet where i can focus on my craft but the occasional interruption from my 2 year old nephew to chat about important things like peppa pig/scary monsters/peppa pig again
provides much needed respite when I've been working for too long.

What are your must have tools / items?

Pen, paper, and a big ol' mug of tea! ;)

What is your greatest achievement to date?

Actually pretty recently i have achieved a few things here and there that i can say i am pretty proud of! Firstly I have written and illustrated two children's picture books which are currently being looked at by various publishers in London and I am patiently waiting to hear back about. Also in the last few weeks I received a phone call from Washington from the animal welfare group PETA looking for me to do a painting for them based on the theme of animal cruelty. The painting is now being auctioned off at their 25th anniversary gala event in LA in September where a host of celebrities and other important la de dah people will see and hopefully bid for the right to own the painting. Exciting stuff indeed, I have to pinch myself every day just thinking about it!

What are your plans for the future?

To the future and beyond is what I say! I can't wait to see where the next few years will take me. I'm always striving for bigger and greater things, so hopefully things with the books works out as I intend to write many more. I'm going to keep illustrating until my left hand falls off, then I guess I will have to learn to draw with the right. I have always wanted to do my own art exhibition with various pieces being created in the pipeline, hopefully very soon. What else? oh yeah world domination and world peace of course. arghhhhh!!! There's just not enough time in the day!

Thanks a lot to Anthony for being my very first interviewee. What a cracking read! Any inquiries can be sent to .You can also find Anthony's work on Etsy, check out his blog & find him on facebook.

If you fancy sharing a bit about yourself with the crafting world then email me (address is on the top right of the blog) for more information, or fill out the questions above.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Back Again!

Gosh how did it get to being August already?? Time has really flown this summer. So some of you may have noticed my 10 day blog silence. Sorry about that! Have been away on me hols to Pembrokeshire again and wasn't organized enough to prepare some posts in advance like I had intended.

This time BF and I took a couple of first timers to Pembrokeshire along with us so we packed a lot of sightseeing into our trip. We went from not being able to see 20 feet in front of us for the mist, to having glorious sunshine, and everything in between. But it was warm and dry for the most part and we had lots and lots of fun.

We went down to St. Davids:Pentre Ifan:

Parrog / Newport:

Ceibwr (my favourite place in the entire world - look how beautiful it is!):

And after days and days of searching different sites we eventually found a geochache!

Geocaching is fast becoming my new favourite thing to do. It's like being a member of a secret society! For those of you who, like me up until about 2 weeks ago, have no idea what geocaching is, it's basically global gps treasure hunting. You go to the website and look up the co-ordinates for a nearby chache and off you go to search for it. You can take a trinket and leave your own, or just sign the log book if like us you didn't have anything small enough to leave. It's so much fun!

Anyways it's back to the sewing machine with me. I have a custom order to be getting on with and a craft fair to prepare for at the end of the month. I'm actually looking forwards to getting stuck in - I've enjoyed my hols but I'm getting crafting withdrawals!