Wednesday, 26 August 2009


Making me happy at the moment is this makeup bag that I made a couple of months ago in a fit of self-gifting. Knowing that it was for myself liberated my stitches and allowed me to cut corners in a way that I can never bring myself to do when making things for my shop. Yes. I decided that I wouldn't change my top thread for sewing in my label...and that I wouldn't change my bobbin thread to make my top stitching around the zip blend nicely in with the lining. And all because I could. I think this is what is called Sewing Dangerously.

And now, oddly, this green stitching on a pink background is what gives me the most pleasure when I use my makeup bag each morning...which makes me think that contrast stitching may make an intentional appearance on more of my shop things...and also makes me think that sewing for one's self occasionally, when one's sewing is more experimental, is a virtue and not something to feel guilty about (she wrote, guiltily).

Making me less happy is the Sunday Night Feeling that I have from taking the small ones to buy new school shoes today. Oh how horribly fast the summer has been going, but what an utterly busy and wonderful August we have had - there have been parties, picnics, swimming, more meals out than I can remember and the buying of bikes for adult Teacakes, which has seen us whizzing around with Mr Teacakes shouting 'look no hands' in a moment of recaptured youth and with a nod to the Lotta books of my childhood (in which older siblings Jonas & Maria do just that)...we are discovering that there are cycle tracks and trails hiding just about everywhere and that they are all within easy reach if you don't grind your newly-fitted tow bar onto speed humps while getting to them. There have also been funfair rides of the seriously scary variety at Lambeth Country Fair in Brixton (proving that the country really is so much more fun in the city) - when I look at this picture I still can't believe that my small Zebra-girl was up their in the clouds sandwiched between her father and his good friend, Dan. The three staggered off, with the smallest recovering first, and the two men looking a handsome shade of, what I think is referred to on the Farrow & Ball colour chart as, Cooking Apple Green. There has also been the fun of realising that despite the fact that Joanne lives in London and I don't, that we are actually within Popping Distance and she popped over today for only a frivilous couple of hours and joined the Little Teacakes and I for lunch at our favourite cafe and for a dash of fabric shopping, what a wonderful mid-week treat.

And in between all the fun we have been practising, practising, practising every day with Dinosaur-boy to try and help the jumble of letters that he sees sink into some sort of order. We have played word pairs, word snap, word memory game and a whole list of other word-related amusements and just when we were all about to cry with boredom (actually, that may have already happened) Mr Teacakes has stepped in with some of his computer wizardry and put my homely looking snippets of paper and card to shame with these wonderful Star Wars word and number cards made specially for Dinosaur-boy.

They focus on the high frequency words that crop up in nearly every sentence, but aren't necessarily easy to sound out. Each card features a Star Wars figure and beneath him or her (or it!) a quote of something they say in one of the films with the word to be learnt in bold letters. If Dinosaur-boy reads the word correctly he gets to keep the card, and if he doesn't then whoever is playing with him gets to keep the card. Once he's read through all the cards, we then use the ones that have been won to play Star Wars Top Trumps with him, which makes the whole thing feel much more game-like. Combat Ability, Jedi Power, Dark Side and other Jedi traits are rated 0 - 20, which is good for covert number practice too. Happiness is a small boy bouncing onto your bed at 6.30am who actually wants to play a word game.

Ps. I am, as ever, behind with emails. Please forgive me - I am trying to keep the computer turned off so that I can avoid being sucked into it and finding that my holiday time with the smalls has been mysteriously swallowed up. Normal borderline disorganisation will be resumed in September. Blog reading is confined to the 10 minutes in the morning when I am drying my hair, which doesn't lend itself well to commenting as my hair can only take so much multi-tasking while being tamed...but I am reading! x

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Appliquéd everything...

This post is a hotch-potch of appliquéd things that I've made over the last couple of months that I somehow haven't managed to get around to blogging until now.

Above is a Darth Vader t-shirt that I made as a gift for a small person that we know - I'm delighted to report that his love for this t-shirt is so great that he has to be coaxed into allowing it to be washed and parted from his person for even the shortest time. Making it was a huge amount of fun and caused me to stay up until a long way past midnight with the excitement of finishing it - it was a challenge for me as I usually appliqué individual pieces together to make the picture, but Darth required that for certain areas minuscule pieces were cut out of the main applique piece and then each of these holes had to be overlocked around the edges (Some of them are so small that you can only just see them - little slits of red in between the eye areas)...a precision task that was new to me and made me feel utterly thrilled when I finally realised that it was all very 'do-able'. Unfortunately, I had a slight wobble when it was all finished and I was busily steam pressing it at 1am and happened to catch sight of the size label and realised to my absolute horror that the t-shirt was the wrong size! Luckily, it somehow ended up fitting anyway and I am forever grateful for the curious ability of this boy to morph into a child a few years older than himself for the wearing of this t-shirt, to the extent that it actually looks like the right size!

Next is a tractor & trailer bib that I made at the request of my lovely friend Clare, for her to give as a gift to a friend with a new baby. That's the loveliness of custom orders...they inspire me to break away from cakes and ice creams for a moment and come up with other designs that I want to use in my shop once I get around to making another batch up.

I loved this project, also a custom order, this time for a small boy who was new to wearing glasses. The brief was for the case to be funky, but tasteful.

Every time I get an order for more boyish things or I attempt to make up some boy's things for my shop I feel quite disappointed by the blue section in my fabric the minute this order came through I finally felt prompted into action to try and rectify the situation and did a little online shopping, for what I had was tasteful, but not really funky. I was so delighted with the little blue, green,red, orange, yellow and brown stack of fat quarters that arrived a few days later...but a little over-zealous in my wish to boyify my fabric stash and so forgot to photograph the loveliness before putting it away (actually, I have come to think of the putting away of fabrics as 'filing'...sometimes this can be fun...other days it is a bore, a little like working in an office. That day it was very good fun).

So anyway, I plumped for making this stegosaurus on what I have come to think of as a background of sputniks.

And finally a blue cupcake t-shirt, made at the request of this lovely blogger, who knits by candlelight and makes wonderful dresses for her daughter...and even encourages me to think that I really might be capable of following a pattern to do the same.

Anyway...there has been some quite alarming fabric accumulation over the last month or so, to the extent that it was necessary to do all sorts of drawer rearrangement and jiggery-pokery to make for stress-free fabric filing this evening. I feel that the make-up of the stash has changed so dramatically that it may be deserving of some more storage photos in my next post.

I hope you've had lovely weekends. x

Monday, 10 August 2009

Things I have learnt about myself...

One of our holiday highlights was seeing this gorgeous Saddleback pig. At the start of a walk on a very rainy day we came upon a farm yard and as we approached, about twenty of these gorgeous little piglets came rushing towards us snorting adorably and pushing their snouts through the fence toward us. The curly tails, the coarse hair, the sad, but twinkly eyes...all four of us were quite taken with their utter perfection and the thought of seeing them at the end of our walk propelled us up and down a mountain more quickly than on any other day.

We climbed a mountain a day for the first four days of our visit to the Lake District...but on the fifth day I woke and had to confess to Mr Teacakes that the idea of putting on my muddy walking boots for another day of walking actually made me feel physically sick. As I had far surpassed his expectations of how many days of mud stalking I would actually happily participate in, he was more than willing to leave me at our lovely cottage for the day. I had gone truly believing that I might find my inner country girl lurking within....(although Joanne claims that she knew I wouldn't find her, even before I went. She is a wise one.), but actually I think that in the same way that Mr Teacakes finds the rush and buzz of Soho stiffling after a couple of hours, I find being surrounded by mountains on all sides induces vague feelings of claustraphobia. But these observations aside, we did have the most lovely time and luckily the Teacakes possess far more of Mr Teacakes' genes than my own and so continued to approach the climbing and mud tramping with enthusiastic gusto.

The night before we left home I started to feel incredibly twitchy about the prospect of a whole week without my sewing machine, and so found myself wedging embroidery hoops and linen into my over-packed bag. I spent some time embroidering these rows of dresses, but actually, I disappointed myself yet again, by realising that it's not hand-sewing that makes my heart sing - it is the pattern drawing, fabric-picking, hum of the sewing machine and hours spent making edges and lines marry up perfectly that makes me feel truly happy.

So this weekend we had another mini-holiday. One of our lovely friends was celebrating her birthday and we decided to stay in London overnight for her birthday party. A quick search on Last Minute found us booking a nameless hotel near to the party for the grand total of £58. Oh the joy of getting the confirmation email and it being revealed that we had booked some 5 star loveliness!

A couple of weeks ago the birthday girl's boyfriend had contacted me to ask if I would make a kimono for him to give to her - it's so flattering when someone wants to give something that I make as a birthday gift, so I was delighted. He chose this Sister Boom fabric from a selection that I had four metres of (which wasn't a very large selection), which I was really pleased about as it has an enormous repeat pattern, which means that there was more fun to be had in making it work so that the pattern ran centrally down the back...small things like that make me feel so much happier when working with an enormous volume of material which naturally allows less room for paying attention to tiny details.

After a lovely evening with a few too many mojitos we pottered over (actually we didn't potter at all, we jumped in a taxi as we discovered that you really need to start the day unstrenuously after a late night of rum drinking) to Fabrics Galore on Lavender Hill where I wanted to choose some suiting for autumn-winter bags. The wonderfulness of this shop never ceases to delight me, nor do the lovely people who run it and I came away with a very heavy bag. This is their current window display, which looked wonderful in the sunshine with all the butterfly shadows on the wall behind...although my photograph doesn't really do it justice.

Anyway, we finally have some glorious weather, so we are off to a friend's house today to make the most of it. Wishing you a lovely week. x

p.s. The blogger spellcheck seems to have taken leave, so please do try and avert your gaze from the spelling mistakes and typos that will undoubtedly litter this post!
A few of the books/products that I link to on Amazon from my blog contain affiliate links and very occasionally, I'll mention a product that I've been given free of charge. I choose the things that I recommend carefully and my priority is to only share things that I love.