Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Fun with a staple gun...

Last week a friend-of-a-friend rang and asked if I would make some things for her children's bedrooms. One of the things that she was hoping for was some French memo boards...I'd never made these before, so was both apprehensive and delighted to be given a new challenge. By the time I'd bought plywood, 9 metres of ribbon in each colour (!), inch-thick wadding, upholstery tacks, front and backing fabric, interfacing, hanging brackets, and staples they became more costly items to make than I'd first anticipated, but I was so pleased with the result that I may end up making some for Zebra-girl and Dinosaur-boy's rooms. I sawed the corners off (in a fit of faire du bricolage fabulousness...I even clamped it into some sort of table vice to stop it wackering!) as I was worried about the children catching themselves on them...but I needn't have worried as I was able to sand them so that the points are slightly rounded and the wadding makes them fairly crash-proof.

I have also tested just how firmly one can whack in upholstery pins....making anything for other people's children always sends me into a flurry of panic imagining ingested haberdashery....I may have to write on the back that it contains SMALL PARTS that could be dangerous to SMALL CHILDREN so that I may continue to sleep at night.

Below is the boy's version. When pondering fabrics my friend told me I'd be safe if I drew on Boden and The White Company for colour-palette inspiration....I'm hoping that the pink memo board fulfils the Boden feel, while the blue is a nod to White Company minimalism.

I've also made this doorstop for her little boy who likes dogs....

I could spot Anna Maria Horner's Puppy Love silhouette anywhere...she has captured the puppy's playfulness so perfectly, which is so clever for it is all in the angle of the tail, the lifted paw and the slightly raised head...so as soon as dogs were mentioned my mind went straight to thinking about using the silhouette as an applique and later adding in a ball for him to play with.

On the other side of the doorstop is a kennel, with 'dog' embroidered onto a bone over the doorway and a small flag flying from the roof. Every time I return to applique I am thrilled anew by how much I enjoy doing it...few things are more scrumptious to me or feel more like playing.

And oh, how I enjoy sewing these little criss-cross squares onto the handles...now why is that so satisfying?

....but I am more than a little nervous about her seeing the finished items...it's always so hard to know whether you have managed to create something approximating what the person might have been envisaging...and then more nervous again about whether her children like them - I so hope that they do.

Oh, and a little research question...if buying new would you go for a computerised or mechanical sewing machine? What do you think are the pros & cons of both? I would love your opinions. x

26 comments:

  1. The girl and boy memo board are lovely. The dog on the door stop is so cute. It must have taken you a long time to design and make them all.

    Mary

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  2. About sewing machines I know nothing at all! Perhaps Lisa from U-handblog could say something about.
    But I'm sure that everybody love all that pretty work you've made

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  3. They are lovely Florence. I know what you mean about them eating ribbon though. I was shocked when I made mine.

    No advice on the sewing machine front. Mine is so ancient you practically have to pedal it.

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  4. Lovely. I love the pink fabric with dots. Where is it from...!?

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  5. What amazing memo boards! Love the fabric, the ribbon - everything! I have a computerized machine and am really happy with it. I guess it depends on the functions you want!

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  6. I have wanted to make one of these board for my girls room for ages - might have to go to the hardware store this weekend. I just bought a new machine and it is computerised. It is only a basic model which is all I require but compared to my older mechanical one it is very smooth and everything happens at the push of a button. I'm not sure what the longer term issues are with maintenance though - guess I'll find out eventually!

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  7. I do not know anything about sewing machines but I adore your work. The boards were great but the doorstop was precious...beautifully crafted.

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  8. Florence the memo boards are absolutely gorgeous, love that pink fabric, very Boden! I'm sure your friend will love them.

    As for machines I have a computerised one, it works for me!

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  9. Lovely job Florence. The criss cross comment made me laugh - this never ceases to make me feel kind of content and "knowing" when I sew!

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  10. My goodness you are so very clever. I have no doubt that both your friend and her children are going to love their boards (and the doorstop). Sorry I have no advice on the sewing machine front. I've never owned a computerised one, so I really have no frame of reference. Good luck with it :)

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  11. They will really love them i am sure as they are so beautifully made and the little door stop is very cute.
    I love doing those criss crosses too. It makes straps and handles feel finished.
    I am happy with my faithful old mechanical machines and a little nervous about more things to go wrong with a computerised model. That said i am interested in ones which i can design my own embroideries, so maybe one day when i am flush i may venture this way. Have fun choosing. i suggest you try as many as possible and keep focused on what you want from a machine and not be swayed by over enthusiastic sales people.
    Sending love to you Teacakes
    ginny x

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  12. Hello Florence. As ever a beautiful post with lovely things to covet. I have a Toyota machine which does just what I need it to, but when it comes to replacement time I will be going for a Bernina. Hopefully that will be years away, but the one I have has sewn miles and miles of orders with no problems so far (touches wood!) xx

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  13. The memo boards and door stop are just lovely, I think anyone would be thrilled to receive them!

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  14. Your work is stunning - I absolutely love the doorstop. Beautiful! Lisa L.

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  15. You are so talented...not only in your sewing but in your writing also.

    Concerning machines I would have to go for traditional only because I like things the old fashioned way and from experience anything that contains something computerized at some point will give you grief and frustration, although when it is working I am sure it will be lovely and superior to the old 'faithful'.
    I am not sure if you get Mary Engelbriets Home Companion over there but the Feb issue had a whole article on childrens sewing machines from many years ago that have now become collectors items. If you are interested in reading it leave me your address on my blog and I will copy it and send it to you. (only a very few people read my blog so it is safe to do so)

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  16. I love those memo boards and am planning to make one myself over the summer.

    Your door stop is brilliant too - what do you fill them with??

    April xx

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  17. wow! how could anyone not be thrilled with these? you've done a sterling job my girl!! (love the non-wackerig technique!)

    i have no sewing machine advice either i'm afraid...both mine are janome (v basic non-computery versions) and they do me well. i'd love a go on the embroidery versions but not sure the big investment would warrant my needs right now. good luck with the research! x

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  18. Thanks for the lovely email tonight florence. I love the boards. Such an amazing professional finish. I echo the "where is that pink material from?" sentiments. Re the sewing machine I would go hightech. I recently bought the Janome Memorycraft on the advice of Lisa from U-handblog. It is great but I already wish I had gone for something more complicated to ensure it would keep me happy for the next few years. You are clearly very talented and I think you will need something complicated to keep up with your skills???

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  19. The memo boards are awesome. You do such tidy work. I'm drooling over the pink fabric. Make sure to stop by and leave a comment for a draw I'm having next week.

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  20. I love the boards, and I'm sure your friend will be delighted with them!

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  21. Those notice boards look great! I'm sure you can sleep easily at night too - those tacks look very secure!
    Great doorstop too :D

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  22. Hi Florence, we use brothers all the time in our workshop, big industrial for reliability and power and smaller white models for buttonholes and zigzags, and for people to learn on- I think generally computerised are for hobby sewers and traditional are for workers (but It could be I'm a bit of a snob here!)You just need to think are you being held back from anything you need to do? or do you have time to sit and fiddle? Anyway just my opinion! Love your work and workmanship too beautifully made- stitch perfect on those handles well done!

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  23. Florence, I have so much to catch up on I don't know where to start. The noticeboards are very professional and beautiful. Well done, and so glad you enjoyed it all so much. I know you have mentioned them before, your favourite fabrics. Could you please sometime just slip a few lines into a blog, about your favourite fabrics and their wedsites. I need a little (ok a lot) of inspiration, and never fail to see something I like that you use. How about your top ten!? My machine is basic and uncomped. I'll not advise when out of my depth. I did another 'how to cheat at motherhood' by the way. I know you would be well placed to comment on this one, being a memory maker yourself. Take care.

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  24. I love that door stop. You are so right about the puppy silhouette. There's such fun and movement in the little fella.
    Are you sure you haven't made those memo boards before? They look fantastic. Clever you!

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  25. I have the Husqvarna Viking D1 - embroidery sewing machine and I adore it. I always say that I only have to whisper in her ear, and there she goes! I just read a comment in a magazine the other day about having a machine that will do everything but get you coffee! Anyway, even if you don't get an embroidery machine - which I know you would greatly enjoy! - the computerized machines are excellent, adjust stitches and heights by themselves, and offer all sorts of lovely utility and decorative stitches as well as the quilting ones. Also, the utility stitches are excellent for darning and repairing ripped jeans, etc. It's amazing! Go for it, if you can. -- Michele

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  26. I really like the boards - I especially love the door stop. Can I ask what you put in it to ensure it was weighty enough to hold a door open?

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x