Memory Game!

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Here’s the first in a mini-series of my hand crafted Christmas gifts, which I can reveal now that Santa has delivered them!

This first make was a last minute gift which I made using templates from SEW magazine, a memory game for babies, which includes soft and scrunchy padded, double-sided quilted squares. It nicely filled a cold, wet December afternoon and used up scraps of fabric leftovers.

I only made two changes: I made a drawstring bag to keep them in rather than the envelope style bag suggested in the instructions as it seemed easier for little fingers to use; and I swapped the suggested rabbit and butterfly templates for the elephant and scottie dog as my little grandson is into elephants and dogs at the moment.

Here are some close ups….

Cute! It seems to be baby season amongst my daughter’s friends at the moment, so I can see me making lots more of these for birthday presents in the next year or so. I love that it’s not another pattern for a cuddly toy – I have nothing against cuddly toys, but sometimes it’s nice to make and play with something else. Have you got any ideas for handsewn non-cuddly handsewn baby toys?

BTW the squares are about 7cm square, so not too fiddly to make and easy for little hand to hold!

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Anya Bag

Way back at the end of last summer, and just before our lives got crazy for a while (see my post of September 13th) I was accepted as a tester of the lovely Anya Bag by Zoe, writer of So Zo. I was excited to be a tester as despite the fact that I’ve sewn, knitted and done crochet for as long as I can remember, I’ve never tested a brand new pattern, pre-release.

Unfortunately my photos of the construction process met with a watery end when I dropped my i-phone down the toilet, and no, they weren’t backed up! However, I still have my lovely bag which I’ve taken photos of again to show you.

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I made mine from from a lovely fresh, mint green polka dot furnishing fabric which I’d bought from the sale rack at my local fabric shop, Fine Fabrics, Sheffield, for a couple of pounds, and I lined it with a piece of leftover curtain lining … so it came to the princely sum of about £2. I know Zoe of the So Zo blog likes to be thrifty, so I hope she’ll approve!

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I need to show you a photo of the button I used as this has been in my button box for a number of years now, and actually came from a dress I made for my first pregnancy, just over 30 years ago! Once the dress had been worn for both of my pregnancies and was no longer needed, I removed the buttons, and I use them occasionally where they can make a statement. This one sits nicely on the tab of the Anya Bag.

 

 

 

So, here’s my (somewhat belated) review of the gorgeous Anya Bag:

  • I made it in a couple of hours on a wet late summer afternoon, so it’s a great project if you fancy sewing something up quickly
  • my fabric didn’t need pattern matching so I used less than the suggested length – so a great stash buster
  • the written instructions and online colour photos were extremely clear and explained and visualised every single step – especially the clever bit of magic you do when sewing a bag with a lining and have to turn it the right way out at the end!
  • it was handy and environmentally friendly to have the instructions on my tablet at the side of my sewing machine
  • I loved the tip for pressing the pleats at the top to make them lie crisply. It helps to define the shape of the bag
  • the straps are a great length for a shoulder bag, but I plan to make another at some point, with longer straps, so that I can wear across the body and make it hands-free!

I enjoyed seeing what fabric other bloggers used for their Anya bags. It’s amazing how a simple change of fabric redefines a garment or hand sewn item and gives it a new character and suggestion of use. I particularly like Handmade Jane’s version, and Scruffy Badger’s, in denim and tweed …. however, I remain jealous of the lovely crisp print which Zoe used for the bag in her photos!

Zoe’s pattern is available from her website, at a great price of £5!

And so to bed!

The approach of autumn has highlighted the need for some cosy pyjamas which are actually long enough in the arms and legs to do the job. Bring on Butterick 6296 which I purchased from Minerva Crafts! The blurb on the envelope describes a “very loose fitting top”, which sounded perfect. Who wants to wear tight-fitting pjs? They’re quite a classic pyjama with the breast pocket, sleeves, legs and jacket front borders being piped. I’ve not done a lot of piping before, but a couple of online tutorials soon sorted me out and reminded me of the technique.
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The pattern also has an option with shorts and a short sleeved top, which I’ll try out when the temperatures rise again. I went for jacket B and trousers D.

It’s classified as ‘Easy’ which I would equate with a Beginner, and it was certainly ‘easy’ for me to sew up, but I think there are a few techniques which a true beginner might find difficult for a first project.

So first of all, I ordered myself some lovely fresh Spotty Cotton Lawn and some ready-made Chambray denim piping from Minerva Crafts and whipped this pair up for myself. I sewed French seams for most of the seams, using my overlocker to sew the first stage of the seam which always makes for a crisp finish.

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The pattern suggests sewing a gathering thread around the bottom edge of the pocket and then drawing it up to create the curved corners, but I prefer to overlock around the edges of pockets like this one and then use the iron the neatly press around the edge and turn the overlocked edge inwards as I always feel it creates a a less bulky result.

 

 

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Another classy feature of these pjs is that they have a back yoke and front pockets on the trousers. It’s tempting to think that this overcomplicates a pair of pj trousers, but they are rather classy and the back yoke actually makes them fit nicely and takes out some of the bulk. The pockets are handy too because they’re quite deep and if you like to lounge around in your pjs like I do, then there are myriad things you can store in them!

I’ve read reviews of this pattern where sewers have said they find these pjs a bit roomy, but for me that makes them a winner because they’re not restricting and they are great for an evening lounging on the settee. They are super comfy in my opinion!

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And here they are! I’m too new to this blogging lark to post a photo of me in my pjs, so for now here they are on a coat hanger and on the bed! (Ooops – not very well pressed!)

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Since I finished them they’ve been washed and dried and back on that evening because I love them so much! I’m on the lookout for some brushed cotton now to make another pair ready for when the winter storms begin!

 

 

Ten months on!

Ten months ago, having made my decision to enter the Blogsphere, our life went into overdrive! We have managed to go through most of the rites of passage in that time. We knew that we had our first grandchild on the way in November, but hadn’t bargained on our daughter being very unwell with post pregnancy problems for most of his life so far. We knew that our youngest daughter was getting married in August (and that I was making her wedding dress!). But what we didn’t know was that my dad, who had been suffering from Vascular Dementia for far too many years, was about to enter the final months of his life, with all the care and support that entailed. His life journey came to an end peacefully at the beginning of April and we have entrusted him into the hands of God now, healed from his debilitating illness. It has been a roller-coaster of highs and lows, laughter and tears, memories of the past and the making of new memories for the future.

My big ongoing project throughout the whole of this time has been the making of my youngest daughter’s wedding dress. Sadly life was too hectic to be able to photograph much of the process as we would have liked, but I do plan to share photos and describe the process. It was such a privilege to be asked to make her dress, especially as she’s very stylish and gorgeous and has very fixed ideas about what she likes to wear.

However, back to the first happy event of these past 10 months, the birth of our little grandson on November 11th, Armistice Day. What a great birthday to have!  He has brought us more joy than we feel we deserve, but has certainly been our light in some of the sad and dark days around my dad’s death. He was definitely a gift to us for this time.

… and of course, his arrival has unleashed the grandma in me, and an excuse to sew and knit lots of tiny garments for him! I’m going to share some of my latest makes for him today and spend the next few weeks sharing current makes and makes I managed to fit in around all the things that have crowded in on us over these past months.

Armed with Burda 9748, I’ve been enjoying trawling the internet and fabric shops to make him some T-Shirts and Joggers. I’ve made views A & C. (I’m not keen on the sporty stripes on the sleeves and legs, so have omitted them)

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Here’s his summer ’16 T-Shirt Collection, beginning with a dark navy & white Breton stripe very soft and stretchy jersey which I’ve had for ages and can’t remember where I got it from now.

 

And another stripey top … this time in turquoise and white, bought from the bargain section of my local fabric store for £2/m – Fine Fabrics in Hillsborough, Sheffield. Here he is modelling it for you, with the royal blue joggers from the same pattern. He and I seem to have co-ordinated our trousers in this one! His joggers are made from a lovely soft cotton interlock bought on e-bay.

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And finally, the last two …

The first is made from a lovely soft jersey purchased from  Minerva Crafts. I lengthened the sleeves on this one. And the second, my absolute favourite, from a beautiful grey cotton jersey with a zoo animal print, bought from The Fabric Shop in Melrose, a lovely little town on the Scottish Borders. It’s a tiny shop, stacked high with the most gorgeous selection of fabrics.

I can make one of these in under an hour now! I photocopied the pattern on my printer and glued it together pdf pattern-style so that I can use it again to make the other sizes. It’s very satisfying to make something so gorgeous in such a short space of time and I love finishing it off with the snap fasteners on the raglan sleeve, which make for easy dressing.

Thank you for reading! I’d love to see what other mums and grandmas make for the special small people in their lives too.

 

Bonjour!

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Hi! Today marks my entry into the Blogosphere. I’ve enjoyed following the blogs of other passionate sewists and knitters over the past few years and decided it was time to join in the big conversation … so, here I am, wearing two of my favourite makes: a gorgeous purple (what other colour is there?) Rowan Felted Tweed Aran jacket and a New Look 6150 crossover jersey top. A lovely and talented friend made the pretty felted corsage as a birthday present. I’m really looking forward to being part of the online crafting community!