Monday, 26 November 2012

Pom Pom garland

The idea was to make a string of pom poms, or garland if you will, that could be hung in the hallway. To add some colour, without getting in the way, to our very small flat. 153 pom poms later and I was hoping it would be a little more impressive than it is but maybe i didn't do enough or maybe it should have been hung more randomly. Will be seeking the advice of my creative partner. She always has the answers!

I chose acrylic yarn over real wool as you cant really tell the difference when made into pom poms. It is a heck of a lot cheaper and no need to worry about it becoming a home for the moths!

This is what 150 pom poms looks like, three different sizes.

Keep the ends long til they are threaded up. Whenever you make a pom pom, its important to keep the tied ends long , giving you more ways to fix it. You trim them off once the pom pom is tied in place.

I sorted the pom poms, big, medium and small into a pattern of colour. That's kind of what i do. I like random arrangements as well but id say it always tends to be a slightly 'controlled' random.

Threaded them all up.

Spaced and hot glued in place. As the weight of this garland will make all the pom poms move about if they are not fixed properly.

Hung it from the ceiling in the grey hallway.

Its cheery and colourful and I'm perfectly happy with it.....but something is just not right if you know what i mean...? Any ideas?
(Excuse these night time pictures, the glow in the flat is very yellow at this time)

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Bedroom curtains

It has been over a year now that I have been repeatedly writing 'make curtains' on my To do lists. Which also means my daughter has gone without curtains, in her rather small and cold room for that long- bad mother. It wasn't a case of not being able to choose fabric but laziness and a sometimes short attention span.
I had previously bought the fabric (an Orla Kiely King size duvet cover which I got new in the sale, still cost me a fortune I thought, even at half price), just needed to get the lining. When I was staying with my Mother a couple of weeks ago she took me to get some fabric, so there really weren't any excuses left. I chose a bonded lining, for warmth and its also a little more light proof as well as having a nice weight. 

First I measured the window and worked out where I wanted the curtains to fall to, 'the drop'. The window frame is different on each side and as the curtain track I put up years ago is the same length, my curtains may look a bit wonky, though hopefully not too noticeably.

Then I tried to lay my fabrics out and pin them together. As our flat is tiny, there was not enough floor space to do this. So I tried to hang it on a line first, to measure it out and then fold and eventually pin it, on the floor. Tricky- this was why I was so hesitant to start work. I knew it would be really fiddly with such a small floor space. Gone are the days of college luxuries, most pattern cutting tables were bigger than the rooms of this flat- sigh!

After a LOT of pinning and re-pinning and a fair bit of hand sewing, I got these made up. From this point it is important to let the curtains hang for a few days before hemming them. This way they should hang much better, especially after the slip stitch hem. I think I made this mistake last time and hemmed immediately.
I've had my neighbours ladder on loan for a week now so I've got to add 'bake cake' to my current list. 

Seeing as its been all about bows recently, I thought id make some big bow tie backs. My daughter loved the idea and seeing as there was a fair bit of excess fabric from the duvet cover it seemed to make sense to complete the look whilst I had matching fabric.

This is the same process as the hair bands I did before. These have lining and an extra layer of wadding.

These are the actual tie backs, I made a tube of fabric and turned it out.

Gathering the tube and adding some decorative tails, the bow was finally put in place on the top.

I worked out the bulk of the curtains and attached press studs to the tie backs to hold them in place. There are not going to be any wall hooks, so these will be held by the bulk of the curtain and just sit in place.

The hems have been hanging for quite a few days. I pinned them about 4 times, its a process of doing one different thing each time you pin them and finally you are ready to sew using a slip stitch and only catching the lining gently and not going right through to the other side.

This is a rather bad photo, I shall try to replace it in due course. The finished look is pretty cute and the tie backs stay up well, no slipping and they are easy to use.

If I were to do these again I may leave off the bow tails as I think maybe they are a little too fussy. I have a tendency to over embellish things if I look at them for too long. But for now, I'm pretty happy with these and my daughter loves them, so I feel I've succeeded with that task. I can finally cross off 'make curtains' and get on with all the many other things that I've been writing and re-writing and constantly transferring from list to list.....or maybe I'll just make another list!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Big bow hair bands

Obviously I have got heaps of things on the go, half started and half finished but i needed something for a 4yr old's birthday present and made these as a quick extra. I'm not normally a 'how to' kind of blogger as this is more my own visual diary but maybe its only fair to share some ideas with instructions once in a while. These are a great thing to make for birthday presents and can be relatively cheap as well as not too time consuming. The best thing is that you can use any type of fabric scraps you may have left over from other projects or you can make one to match a dress you are already sewing e.t.c. I last made one of these for my daughters 2nd birthday party using fabric printed by illustrator Rosie MacCurrach. It was made to match her party dress in the same fabrics.

Having organised all my fabrics after last Christmas it makes finding my materials a lot less stressful than it used to be. Thank heavens for the Ladderax, (though i still have mixed up jumble of a scrap bucket too!)

I went for pink and yellow (the print here, is again by illustrator Rosie MacCurrach), and got matching hair bands, some fabric scraps and wadding. Any weight will do, it depends on how much of a statement you are going for.

Cutting rectangles, 2 in fabric and one in wadding for each bow. I did a triple bow on each hair band, one bow will suffice but i wanted something a little more fancy.

I overlock the pieces together as its easier than doing a 5mm seam in delicate fabrics and trimming back is a waste of fabric. The two fabrics go together then the wadding on the bottom, be careful not to sandwich the wadding between the fabrics as this will not work for this method.

Then carefully cut a slit down the centre, trying to only cut the top layer of fabric. Don't cut too much. 2-3cm is plenty. Next you 'bag it out' which is basically pushing all the fabric through the hole, so that the seams are turned inside. I tend to press the seams at this point with a low heat and only very lightly, just to define the edges a bit more.

Next i tend to do a zig zag stitch down the centre, mostly to keep the layers together but also to close up the little slit I made. Don't want it popping open or fraying . Here i have layered all the bows and stitched them together, making them fully secure. I then play with the folds, concertina-ing them up to make a nice bow shape.

Having gathered the bow, i stitch it securely and attach a little strip of fabric wrapped wadding to create the knot effect. Here i hot glued the bow to the hair band as i know how rough my daughter is and wanted to make sure it wouldn't fall off, but you can equally just stitch it. Then i wrapped the strip over the top of the bow and secured it underneath the hair band as neatly as i could, cutting off the excess. Sorry these last two stages are not shown fully. I'm not used to documenting 'how to's' yet.

Here are the finished bows. Make them as big or small as you like. More or less stuffed and as many or few as you like......and you've not even touched the surface head band possibilities! Have fun experimenting.....but if you're not a maker and would rather purchase something fabulous, check out this website... Le tour de force is an amazing label set up by an old college friend. She makes both adults and children's head pieces. Check out Little Fashion Gallery for her kids pieces which are stunning.
Right, back to the general home improvements, children's bedroom curtains and the hallway coat pegs which have been on the agenda for an age now. Must all be done by Christmas, no excuses.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Plastic bag dispenser

The last little bit of my Sanderson dandelion clocks print. I made a plastic bag dispenser on request of my sister, for her new flat. I decided to machine quilt it to give it a little more structure. They look rather sad when they are half full. Fine if they are kept in a cupboard but if you have it out on view, it wants to look nice all the time. Well that was an easy project, just an afternoon and it was done....unlike all the rest of the things i have been unable to complete yet. Sigh.....

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Off the scene

Currently adjusting to the general noise levels in our flat. Baby now 8 weeks and 3yr old feels its necessary to sing (read 'shout') loudly to drown out his cries, because she doesn't like it. Result- deaf and exhausted me. 
Anyway, i have a few things on the go. Made another plastic bag holder from quilted Sanderson fabric for my sister. Still have that lamp stand to deal with but cant decide on a lampshade size/colour yet. I have a project in mind for my hallway but need to check it with my lovely landlady first and that one will require a lot of work and some paint funds too! Though I'm hesitant now that my favourite hardware/wood store has finally closed, I'm still mourning it i guess and therefore have a mental/ emotional block! Alongside this i have started to make two fairy fancy dress costumes for my daughter and her friend. Both pink of course. Luckily I'm making them in a size too big to give me plenty of time to complete!

I also recently bought a radio so that i can work away without fussing around on the computer, so hopefully it will help me be a little more productive, as long as baby is sleeping that is. Sigh.........

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Crystal maze.... DIY moments

I'm due to give birth at any moment and in stereotypical hormone fuelled madness i decided now was the time to start some DIY projects that i would never normally attempt. Crystal Maze style, racing until the timer is up and i'm locked in with new baby. I have re-decorated my bedroom, freecycled/ charity shopped and thrown out most of my past life, pre- kids. Then built some shelves for better storage and basically just painted a white canvas ready for the new one to come and make his mark. Then i also decided to put a fitted, built in cupboard in the living room, to hide my silk screens, dehumidifier and sewing machines. Keeping them within easy reach but just not on display. Why i even thought i could manage to build a fitted cupboard in our late 1800's flat with wonky walls, and floors...i don't know. All i can say is these hormones are amazing. If it weren't for the huge belly getting in the way, i'd bottle this and use it as a miracle potion!

Now i'm not claiming that my work is particularly impressive, more that i'm 39+ weeks and i've been drilling and sawing like a mad woman. And despite it all, i actually managed to pull off what i set out to achieve and without any problems. That is the impressive part.... or at least i am impressed with myself!

The shelves of dumped junk i wanted to sort out

First i had to build the frame. It needed to clear some tiles on the floor as well as an electrical socket that was exactly in the way. It also needed to be exactly level so that the doors would fit without problems. The whole alcove was a bit wonky, not to mention the floor even sloped but my new spirit level helped.

They even gave me a free saw at my local woodshop! A pregnant lady doing DIY is obviously a bit of a novelty. They all know me at the woodshop, its pretty much a second home. Its an amazing privately run hardware store with everything you could ever need. A cavern of delights. But its actually closing for good in a month. Due to retirement of the owners- im pretty gutted, i almost cried when i found out.

Levelling the doors at the bottom. You can see the shelf at the top is also wonky. It will need re-making.

I fixed the doors and fitted a new, level shelf, then filled around my framework. There has to be a hole for the electrical socket as i plan to use it often and didn't want to wire some kind of complex extension cable.

Its finished! I know its very plain, no beading or decoration but that's kind of what i wanted. My daughter requested that i painted the whole cupboard pink and i refused. We had a little discussion about it and on compromise i said we could have glossy pink handles. But that the cupboard HAD to be white! She's sort of happy. Next project... the lamp stand! Thinking a re-paint and to get rid of the hideous ikea lampshade. Baby may come before but equally i could be waiting another two weeks before they force him out. No point in twiddling my thumbs.....must keep busy.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

'Clection' tray

My daughter has been 'collecting', mostly junk and really random things for quite some time. It started with an episode of Charlie and Lola, in which Lola really doesn't get the idea of collecting things that are the same or alike one another. Her brother Charlie tries to explain to her, though in a way she doesn't really grasp the concept of collecting and i guess that's kind of what happened in our house too. Having gotten fed up with constantly having twigs and random bits of rubbish in my bag, my pocket, in my bedroom, the kitchen, well just about everywhere my daughter would stash things, i decided to get her a place to store them. She always referred to these things as her 'Clection' so it seemed only fit that we should collate them and she could try and take ownership of these items. I got an old type set tray and as it was really shabby decided to spray it. She requested pink (eugh) and i dutifully obliged. However the can i had ran out and when i thought i got the same pink it turned out to be neon. So here we have one shoddily coated tray with a rather equally odd collection of things. She loves it and is still collecting and I'm just happy i don't have to walk around with this kind of stuff in my pockets anymore. All happy.

Curtains with tie back pegs

We had to get some curtains up as our living room blind broke and living in a ground floor flat with our window right against the pavement, it was pretty urgent to keep the prying eyes out. I never used to bother pulling the blind down except when we had guests to stay but after an entire family pressed their noses up against my window one day, just to have a snoop, i felt a little exposed and had to consider closing ourselves off from the outside world. Not to mention our flat was a real dump before i did any DIY and now i don't really want our lovely little world on display for all to see and snoop in at. Its our hide-away, a safe little corner of fun and colour and of course the occasional tantrum! (ahem)

These were made from a heavy weight cotton canvas designed by Kristine Mandsburg, a Danish illustrator who has a really strong graphic style with a slightly dark edge. I really like her use of line in this print but i would have preferred the fabric without the pink birds...then saying that it matches really well with our Pirum Parum print that sits in the same room. So i quickly stitched these up and then put up another two of my wall hanging pegs as sort of tie backs i suppose, i didn't have anything else and it was a bit of a rush job. They work though, so its all good!

Wall hanging pegs

These again, were made just before Christmas and you may also remember them from our Christmas pop up shop as they were the display hooks that we used throughout, to hang bags and clothes. They stemmed from a love of the iconic Eames Hang-it all  of which i still covert but cant quite justify on my budget. With the obsession for bright coloured gloss objects still fresh on my DIY list (you may also remember the bathroom light pull i made), i decided to come up with an interesting sort of coat hook or display peg that could be used for the numerous hanging items that we wanted to display. They were specifically designed for the shop but i had the intention to develop them or use them after. In principal they are very simple to make. I got a few wooden broom handles from my local independent wood shop, a bargain at £1 each, as well as a large bundle of small wooden door knobs, a bit more pricey at £1.25 each. Cutting the broom handles up into various lengths i then drilled down the length of each piece, from both ends about an inch and attached the door knobs using double ended screws. The next bit was a little less professional as i did a strange fill job around the join as the diameters were not an exact match and i wanted a smooth rounded finish. After this i then painted the knobs and a specific length down the stem of the pegs using enamel paints. Having masked the pegs first to ensure a perfect edge to the painting. When dry i used another double ended screw to fix the pegs to the wall. Very simple to fix to the wall and then fun and colourful to look at. I made about 20 or so of these and have finally started to use them around the house. They always get compliments and indeed one person from our Christmas shop enquired how much they were to buy. However if they were to be produced for sale they would need a fair bit of improving but for now, in my own home, I'm happy with them.  I have just put a bundle of them up on a wall as well as used them as curtain tie backs and also as a wall lamp hanger.


Favourite food bags

I actually made these just before Christmas. You may remember the dolls/teddy bears picnic blankets in pink or yellow with the same grey print. These bags were the original product, which i designed the print for but ended up never progressing from the sample stage and have still not been finalised. The idea was that each bag would come with a set of pens so that you could draw your favourite food onto the plate. I experimented with different fabric pens and couldn't quite decide what to go for...the type that is permanent or the type that washed out each time you wash the bag! Then the bag itself became a bit of an issue. It was obviously easier to buy ready made bags to print on as they are cheaper and easier to produce multiples when printing but i didn't much like the quality, always preferring the type i make myself, using quality canvas and careful stitching. These of course were costly to make not to mention very labour intensive. I however have a bundle of these samples that i give away and still hope to get back to producing them properly one day in the future.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

DIY madness

So I'm absent again..... i have two weeks left  until i give birth and to fit the stereotype, i have decided to re-decorate........ my room and desk area this time. It wasn't even on the list of things to do, there are so many other jobs on that A4 list. I just hope baby will be on time, or even a little late as our tiny flat is again mayhem, not to mention the builders are coming to work on the hall floor tomorrow. This sounds fancy but actually they are just trying to fix the shoddy job they did a few months back where they laid paper thin laminate in our rented flat, which of course has all buckled and resembles something more of a trampoline than a walk-able surface. So stay in there baby while i get my drilling and paining and saw-ing done, that would be helpful.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Party bags, year 3 1/2!

This years bags were a bit of a rush as i left it all a bit late. Despite this im finally finished with a few days to go. But i still have a pinata, a dress and a cake to make! Even though i could bust my balls to finish all this there are still two variables.....the weather; our British summer has been generally disasterous, so much so i have forgotten what sun looks like and im still wearing wellies to do the nursery run. Secondly, another spanner in the works is that my daughter has started to show signs of chicken pox?! the forces that be not realise how hard i've been working for a pregnant lady?

Anyway, ive done too much to give up, so im just pretending all is fine for now. This years print is a simple harlequin pattern. I wanted bold and geometric and left the colour up to chance. I took all my pre-mixed inks from past printing and grouped them to mix up these two colours. Two reds, a pink and an orange, made this red. The green came from two greens mixed with a yellow. Not quite what i would have chosen but im happy that i recycled as i really hate waste. Funny though that the two colours are very much Christmas colours and my daughters real birthday is boxing day. I may have explained the half year birthday thing already, if not its too complicated!

I originally cut a diamond stencil but it wasn't efficient so i paid to have my drawing put on to screen properly. Made the process much more simple, speedy and the results are always much better. Pity i cant afford to do this more often.

I printed in small lengths to the size of the patterns i needed as it was the best way to get the fabric to dry and print it all in one day using my small table.

This was the most tiring bit, getting my heavily pregnant self down on the floor and mauvering around to cut out all the fabric.

Sewing was slow but a joy with my extendable table, meaning i could hop from sewing to overlocking.

The bundle of goodies that i had to constantly guard from the little one who kept trying to pinch the sweets and treats!

The finished bags. they have a gusset and double stitched handles, soft but strong.

The girls version...

....and the boys version.

Party bags done, now for the dress, which my friend has printed some beautiful fabric for me to use. though i have no idea what to make and have to make from scratch, no pattern, no toile.....hop to it!