Monday, 29 March 2010

Queue jumping.

Things 'seem' to be moving very slowly here, yet ive gone into over drive with my stitching and late nights.
Ive gone to bed at 3am a few times this past week, which is not great as the little one is waking at 4:30-5:00 at the moment. But I am fully aware, I do it to myself. No one is telling me to stay up til the wee hours sewing or making presents. Ive decided to make it an early night tonight though as i have been quite grey all day!

Thing is, I have this list by my desk. Its a note of all the current projects i have on the go and the things i need to do, to get them finished. Like these floor animals here, which i was determined not to show until they were finished but not posting makes me feel as if ive been lazy. Which is ridiculous. So here they are, amidst the half stuffed, half stitched mayhem in my tiny front room. Crazy coloured elephant has had lots of stuffing pinched from his belly as my little girl thinks she is helping somehow....i get the impression. There is still lots of work as you can see and stuffing them properly is the hardest part of all- i hate wrinkles and crinkles!

The reason ive not finished them yet is that other things; urgent little projects, keep jumping the queue. My best friend recently got married in New York and as i was not there and cant afford to go and see her.....well, until i win the lottery. I just have to send her something fun. So that was the first queue jumper. Then there was another close friend who recently had a baby. Its been a tough week for her and i decided to look back at something i was considering making for her a while back but gave up on. She has done amazingly and I thought i should pull my finger out and try a little harder myself- hence queue jumping project number two.
So first queue jumper is almost done, well stitched and half wrapped but as yet, missing the letter and the film footage and of course is not complete untill i leave the post office having paid my hefty postage and left my precious package in the hands of fate. Number two has a head but no body. Its been tricky and very fiddly but will get done in some shape or form over the next two days. So i am sewing; every day, maybe a bit too much and at some point i will have a whole bundle off stuff to unload.

My list is daunting. Here's to the next few months chained to the sewing machine...........

Sunday, 21 March 2010

I've got balls! i've got a pea....for a brain.

I'd like to think of myself as someone who's a bit quirky, making odd or different things to the rest of the crafting world. (especially as i'll try my hand at anything). Then I do something like this and laugh at how i'm no different from anyone else. So yesterday I came over all floral, a bit Cath Kidston maybe and i've started my descent into 'homewares' quite clearly now. The idea was that i could hide the balls all over the house and my little girl would ride around and find them, collecting them in the basket as she went. (note: this is obviously designed with a large country house in mind, possibly the one in my head. It has absolutely no place in a shoebox flat like mine. Great idea, I know. So perhaps its just to look at!)

The other day I was chatting with a friend about careers after; or rather alongside, children. She was talking about a friend of her's who is planning on going back into the fashion industry and clearly stated that she didn't want to become the cliche 'mum turned interior designer'. Because that is obviously not cool! .........And here I shrink, turning inward on my embarrassed shell, for what I have always looked down upon and turned my nose up at, I have become!
I may be a boring cliche, but at least I have some lovely colourful balls!

(These balls were each made from 12 pentagons. So easy to stitch......stuff and voila your child has something slightly less painful to throw at your head.)

Thursday, 18 March 2010


Meet Cedric the Camel. He was finished last night. Made from coarse Harris Tweed which is great to touch and durable. His blanket is made from vintage kimono silk, cut from an Obi.
Cedric likes to sit in the sun and dream. He spends a lot of his time looking for his blanket which keeps getting stolen by a certain little cheeky lady.

(Cedric stands at 50cm high, 68cm long and 36cm wide and is bigger than a small toddler!)

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Little cardboard house = complete.

Today was one of those wonderful days, that when they come along, I feel joyous throughout my veins. Maybe the weather had something to do with it. The powers that be, have a strong hold over our physical selves. I'm not talking simply about sun= happiness, as I'm sure you realise it runs deeper than that. But anyway, there was a glint in the sky and a light inside me too. The desire to create and let my thoughts run away with me on a magic, fire fueled ride. I had but started one project when the next etched itself in my head. With excitement i hurried as fast as i could to complete what i was doing and then start the next idea. Its like a run-a-way train speeding in my head sometimes.

Today I completed the cardboard house. I decided not to draw over it in the end, my pencil skills are not what they should be. Instead i decided to patch it with cardboard pieces and i think it has turned out to be quite effective.

The front with its large open doorway. This entices the child in and makes it seem friendly and nonthreatening.

The side views are identical. Arched windows, large and low. Objects can be pushed in and out and you can even climb in if you want. Wooden picket fence adds depth and pattern.

A tree and two toadstools on the back of the house, add a little surprise should the child push it out from the wall or walk behind it.

The roof took a while to make. There are over 160 individual hand cut tiles, cut from 7 by 7 squares, then hand shaded and varnished before being fixed into place with trusty old UHU. It was an experiment which turned out to be an interesting texture.

The picket fence adds a finish to it, that grounds it and breaks up the large expanse of white wall. It was really simple to make, with a little tiny bit of mathematics.
This house has been made entirely from cardboard boxes that you can pick up free of charge from shops or supermarkets and the only cost is glue, paint and marker pens. Its so much fun to make and i don't know why more people don't craft from cardboard. Its free and you are only limited by your imagination, or someone else's!
So I've finally finished the house, it did seem to drag a bit. I had no plan and just made it up as i went along, which was fun but then i just kept adding more. My little girl already loves to play in it and takes lots of her toys in there as well as tries to climb in and out of the windows. If i had a bigger house myself, it would be great to create a whole village of little houses and shops but in our rented shoe box flat, that would just be crazy, especially as we already have the zoo coming to live here.
And as i was trying to describe, my head has been going wild with ideas. I want to make a totem pole of zoo animals, really just stack them from floor to ceiling. All because i want to see it and admire it and then take a photo. Pure and simple. So much work for such a short finale. But I've got three stuffed so far and i will just see how it goes. Lots of people have suggested i sell them and are surprised when i say I've made them all for my own daughter, which i didn't think was strange but then maybe i can see it is a little excessive.
Ive also had ideas to make a large floor cushion for her bedroom to replace the folded quilt and pillows. A bit like a sofa or some kind of small mattress but specifically designed to sit on the floor.
I also got quite carried away with another idea of how to turn my white wicker nursing chair into something more functional and pleasing but that is one to add to the list as i can see it taking a long time. The idea involves stuffing lots of tiny little fabric balls of different sizes and clustering them together all over the seat of the chair to create a kind of fixed cushion pad.
With no sign of creative block or lack of energy, I work into the night and that is where the secret joy of obsessive crafting lies. Its when you are fueled and nourished by your doings, as though you were in a bubble quite separate from anything else and your work is everything in that existence. That is where my happiness lies.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

One day Tapestry will adorn every surface.

You KNOW I have a deep obsession with Tapestry, (maybe not quite the extent of that obsession but you are aware I harbour slightly over excitable feelings towards the technique).
If it were easier to produce and less labour intensive I think almost all my soft furnishings would be made and upholstered using tapestry canvases. As this is a quite unreasonable dream I tend to just splash a bit here and there whenever I can.
I recently bought this second hand ride-on horse for my daughter. It had an unbleached cotton cushion pad, which quite frankly was screaming for some love. I nurtured it and added the obligatory tapestry and great grandmother's old upholstery braid. Much more pleasing to the eye and hopefully quite durable. (unless the banana hands and chocolate dribble go near it.......yeah, that is likely. Maybe i should keep a thistle head purched upon it?)

Almost midnight but not quite....

Luckily I won't have another all night-er ahead of me. I got the bag finished and I'm even packed for my travels tomorrow.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Little cardboard house

I've been a bit lazy. I've wanted to make one of these for a while now but I kept putting off hunting out strong cardboard boxes. Then today I had a parcel arrive, (like...a huge one) and 'voila!' the perfect cardboard box lands right on my doorstep. Perfect. If all things could go so smoothly.
The nipper is in bed and as I wind down for the evening, I cut and tape the box to get it to resemble some sort of a house. This is what I ended up with...

Then I painted the whole thing white, ready to draw on. I think I prefer the original cardboard effect but we shall see, its not done yet, I plan to draw all over it. Maybe a bit cliche but I shall see how it goes. Worst comes to worst and I can just white it all out again...

Bag lady rises again...

...This time, to do a Pirate version of an old classic. The 80's Gym bag. A certain little man has just turned 5 and he's into Pirates....well at least he was last time we met. You never can tell, themes come and go with Children. I shall keep my fingers crossed for now though, as I'm mid- way production and just need to get this finished. A while back I made one for my own little girl. We head out of London every now and then to visit the family and I thought it would be good to have a separate bag to put all her own 'belongings' in. More fun than necessary. Here it is:

(You may notice this fabric from other projects. I made Jazz's bag and also have an animal skin waiting to be stuffed, made from this bright Ikea print. Its just perfect for children.)

So for the next bag, I'm making a pirate logo and using a much stiffer cotton drill. Heavy weight and hopefully able to withstand a lot more handling. Because boys are rough, right? The Applique is finished but Ive still got a lot of piping and binding to do- boooooooooo. It has to look good inside and out. I'm too much of a perfectionist. (Well I strive, I never reach it.)

Above is the flat fabric with stitched down circular straps. Below is the completed Applique. Still unsure if its a bit 'naff' or not. Cant quite get into the mind of a 5 year old boy. Will find out sooner or later as it must be finished in another day because we are meeting up.