Saturday, 22 November 2014

Cherry's Been Busy Again

Cherry (my Brother 1250) has been busy again. She's a very good girl. She's ready to go whenever I ask: late evening, early morning, whenever. That's a very useful trait of hers because I tend to go to see her during my flashes of energy,

Anyway, you don't want to hear about that, you want to hear what my clever little girl has made this time, don't you?

Pillowcase Dress made for
Dress A Girl Around The World
This is Cherry's third finish: another pillowcase dress for Dress A Girl Around The World . The dresses (plus shorts for boys) are sent to communities around the world. It is run on a shoestring by volunteers. I can't imagine how many hours they have to put into running the organisation but I am so glad that they do.

I have acquired a few more pillowcases so my intention is to make dresses from all of them and post the entire bundle together. Isn't it a good job I collect ribbons, trims and elastic wherever I go and that I make my own bias binding!

Happy sewing, everyone. What are you making at the moment? I would love to know.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Playing With My Brother

Bossymamma's Brother

Here it is! My brand new, all-singing, all-dancing sewing and embroidery combination machine... my Brother 1250. I love it already! It is so quiet and so smooth. It has a thread cutter, which I love using - for some reason it gives me a little thrill every time I press that button! Silly, isn't it?

When I first sat in front of the machine I admit I felt a little overwhelmed but that didn't last long. I soon began trying it out. I cut a piece off a length of leftover fabric that Peter's mother, Christina, had given me - I think it was from some curtains but, anyway, it looked ideal for what I wanted to do. Then I began stitching... I started trying out some of the decorative stitches to see how they stitched. 

My sampler showing some of the
1250's decorative stitches

I began with the idea of producing a sampler that I could use to make a cushion for Christina. When I mentioned the idea to Peter his comment was that she already has lots of cushions (she does), but then I remembered that I had had the idea to make a special bag for Peter's sister-in-law, Joy. She always carries around a filled hot water bottle and it occurred to me that if I made a bag to hold the hot water bottle, it would allow her to use the hand that currently holds it. I hope she won't take offence at the bag: that she won't think I am poking fun at her. I'm not poking fun, I genuinely hope that the bag is useful to her.

Joy's Hot Water Bottle Bag

It even has adjustable straps!

Although I stitched the sampler, I didn't immediately make the bag - I was too busy playing with the machine! My next step was to try using the embroidery unit - really scary stuff! I would have to behave myself, read the instructions and follow the rules which is not easy when you're as impatient as me! But I did it. I took my time and read what each of the manuals said (there are two manuals - a "quick start" short manual and the full guide) then set about hooping another piece of Christina's donated fabric - the lining, this time.

Bossymamma's first piece of machine
Drum roll, please... Here we have my first piece of machine embroidery. I deliberately chose a single colour motif as I didn't feel like changing colours in my first attempt. I also made sure it was a small, quick design because I wanted to see the results quickly. Honestly, I'm like a small child, I'm so impatient. Anyway, I was pleased with the result. It stitched out neatly and smoothly so I think my hooping of the fabric must have been OK. Hmmm, but then I realised I had a large used a large piece of fabric and an equally large piece of stabiliser and "tight mode" took over. I didn't want to waste all of that. So, I began looking in the manuals to see how I could reposition where the machine embroiders. Argh, panic! I couldn't find it. Oh well, one of the members on a sewing forum I belong to had said she also owns a 1250, so I put out an SOS on the forum. I was soon receiving replies so was able to start repositioning. This is the result and I am modestly pleased with how it turned out.

Several embroidered motifs -
repositioned by me!

I don't know if any of the motifs will be usable in projects but I imagine they will, so I shall keep this piece. Oh dear, where am I going to be able to store it? Aaargh!

Pillowcase dress

My first completed project on the 1250 was the pillowcase dress in this photograph. When I had finished my playtime my mind went blank and I couldn't think of what to sew. Then I remembered that I had acquired some pillowcases from my mother during her house move earlier this year so I decided to make a dress from one of them. It was a good test for the machine as there were some places where the joining of seams caused very thick piles of fabric for the machine to sew through. No matter. Cherry managed it easily. (I have just this moment thought of and decided upon the name 'Cherry'). So, I have my first two projects under my belt and Cherry is ready, willing and more than able to stitch them!

Happy sewing, everyone!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Open The Box!

Right! I'm going to show my age now.

Do you remember a TV programme, hosted by Michael Miles (whom I always preferred to Hughie Green), called "Take Your Pick"? If I remember rightly, contestants answered some questions. Then there was a triangular prop which was made of squares and the contestant picked a key. Then there was the decision... "Take the money" or "Open the box". The audience would call out which they thought the contestant should choose.

Well, today you and I are going to open the box...

IT'S MY NEW MACHINE!!! Woohoo! It arrived last Thursday but I haven't had a chance to blog about it until now.

I must reassure you that I wouldn't normally photograph the opening of a box. However, there was a very sensible reason for doing so in this situation viz I need to pack the machine in its original packaging when it goes for service or if it needs a repair. So, it made sense to be able to see exactly how it all goes in the box so that it is as easy as possible to do it when the time comes. Sensible, huh? Surely it was far too sensible for me to have thought of it, but I did!

Happy sewing!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Our Wandering Has A Surprise At The End!

It is apposite that we begin with this stall as in this, my third post about the Home Is In The North show, we are on the home stretch, looking at the final stalls before heading homeward. Nicky at Homeward breathes new life into special items. To understand more you need to visit her website at .


Adriana Gentile Woven Textile Design
All of the fabrics in this photograph have been designed and woven by Adriana Gentile. They are beautiful hues and wonderfully soft. Head to her website to find out more: .

Anna Joe Textiles Design
Gemma Davison is the owner of Anna Joe Textiles Design. She produces these beautiful designs for the home and has recently branched out into printing wonderful silk scarves. Visit her website to see what else she produces: .

Simon Wilks Tableware Design
Simon designs and produces interesting bowls and servers. The bowls are ceramic or stoneware and the servers are made from wood. The whole thing then comes on a wooden stand - sometimes a single piece of wood, at other times the stand is made from several slices of wood which have been pressed. I particularly liked the pressed wood. See more about his work by clicking here .

Bough To Beauty - Upcycled wooden accessories
Vix and Lou describe themselves as "sisters with a dream". They produce upcycled wooden accessories which are ethically made and environmentally conscious. Read about their vision and see their products at .

Bough To Beauty

Northern Letters
Matt Simpson loves Manchester and he is inspired by the typography that is found in and around Manchester - on buildings, signs, restaurants and elsewhere. He is so inspired, in fact, that he uses those letters to enable you to have a little part of Manchester's Northern Quarter in your home. Find out more about Matt and his products at .

White Light Ceramics
White Light Ceramics look so very delicate: they are almost like paper. Well, they are almost like paper because paper is included in the process. To find out more email: . Unfortunately the website address listed on the business card is not current.

White Light Ceramics
Well, that brings us to the end of our wander around the Home Is In The North show... except that you have yet to learn what the young couple needed.

As I was moving away from the final stall I heard a young woman say to her partner:

"We need a unicorn."

It was a magical end to our day.

Monday, 17 November 2014

I Just Felt Like It - Tutorial for making felt on an embellisher

Felt and some of the raw materials

I have been thinking of how and where to keep the lovely postcards I received from members of the Be Creative group. I couldn't decide whether I wanted to put them in a book or a box but, I think, I would probably prefer them to be in a box. Hmm. Next problem: how to construct it. I didn't have a box the right size and I still didn't have a sewing machine so that restricted some of my options. Anyway, I thought I would start by making some felt on my Janome embellishing machine.

I don't use my embellisher very often. It's not because I don't like it (I love it!) but because I tend to have lots of 'stuff' out when I use it which I don't like to leave lying around as it looks so messy and I know Peter dislikes mess and untidiness. (I haven't yet figured out how he copes with me and my "put it where I can see it" ways!)

So, whilst Peter was out at an appointment the other day, out came the embellisher, along with just a little 'stuff'. Although it is possible to make felt with the machine using just wool tops, I decided to use some denim for backing to give it a little more thickness or strength.

Embellishing machine, wool tops
and pot of yarn scraps

This is how I made my embellished felt.

You will need:
Wool tops
Cling film or net fabric
Yarn or fabric scraps for embellishment
Embellishing machine or needle felting tool

1.     If you are using old jeans, cut the legs off the jeans and set aside the denim shorts that are left, either to wear or for another project.

2.     Cut off seams and hems from the legs. Put those aside and keep for use in another project.

3.     Take some wool tops, between about 15 to 25 cms in length.

4.     If you are right-handed, hold the wool tops in your left hand and gently pull some fibres from the length with your right hand.

5.     Lay the wool fibres on the denim. I laid the fibres north to south and filled in some spaces by putting them east to west. Repeat until an area of the denim is covered which can then be covered by a piece of cling film.

6.     Place the denim/wool tops/cling film sandwich under the needles of the embellisher, cling film uppermost. Place your hands on the sandwich, about 7 to 10 cms either side of the needles and apply enough pressure to hold the cling film gently but firmly in place.

7.     Depress the foot pedal so that the needles are punching into the sandwich at a regular speed. Using the pressure of your hands, move the sandwich of fibres slowly around so that all areas are punched by the needles. Once the fibres have begun to felt into the denim, remove the cling film and continue the felting process. Do not overwork the felt at this stage.

8.     Repeat steps 6. and 7. until the the entire piece of denim is covered with wool tops.

9.     Sprinkle scraps of yarn and/fabric across your part-felted fibres.

10.    Gently pull off small amounts of the wool tops and spread very thinly across the scraps on your felt. This will help the scraps to felt into the main piece.

11.    Begin the machine felting again slowly, in the same manner as before, gently gathering speed. Remove the cling film when the scraps have begun to be secured into the felt.

12.    Increase speed of needles and continue felting until all scraps are securely in the felt.

13.    Remove your felt from the machine as it is now ready to use.

These are the two pieces of felt that
I made

I used two legs from jeans and made pieces of felt, as you can see above. I used different scraps for each. For the first I used yarn scraps and this was the result:

Felt made with a denim backing, wool
tops and yarn scraps
The second piece I made using another leg from a pair of denim jeans, wool tops and scraps of vegetarian silk thread. You can see the different appearance from the first piece.

Felt made using denim for the backing, wool
tops and scraps of vegetarian silk thread

I haven't made the box yet for reasons that will become clear in a subsequent post!

Home Is In The North - Part Two

I am continuing my wander around the Home Is In The North show with Liz. The show was held at Halle St, Peters in Ancoats, Manchester on Saturday 15 November.

Lottie Smith
Lottie Smith's business card proclaims "Cardboard Wizardry" - and what she does, really is wizard. I can only show you the lampshade above because whilst I was editing a beautiful photograph of a range of her makes, I press the wrong button and deleted it! Oops. All is not lost, however, as you can have a look around her website: from where you can access her Flickr albums:

Tinker & Faff
I love the name of this stall: Tinker & Faff. That pretty well describes what I do. Well, I'm not sure how to describe this stall - maybe, digital printing on their products? They had framed phrases/words, mugs and cards for sale on their stall but you really should go to their website for more of an idea: .

Melissa Montague - Silversmith
Melissa's stall was displaying small cups of various sizes. They weren't all silver in colour and some had interesting finishes on them. See more here: .

Beth Johnson Ceramics
Next to Melissa stall was Beth Johnson who is a ceramics designer/maker. The pear-shaped items on her stall were, I think, olive oil containers for the table. However, they were great fun as they rock! Woohoo, I really enjoyed myself rocking them to and fro. If I had had my purse with me I would probably have bought two of them just so that I could have an olive bottle fight at the table with my grandchildren! You never know, some day I may even grow up and learn to behave myself! Anyway, Beth's creative ceramics can be found on her website: .

Lisa Watson Quilts
Ooh, this display was yummy fabrics. Harris Tweed. Oh, yes. Lisa Watson makes beautiful quilts from Harris Tweed, which she backs with cotton fabrics. Look at those gorgeous colours! Or, see them more closely here: . Oh, and her quilts carry the legitimate Harris Tweed label [sorry, I don't know how to find the copyright symbol on my Macbook].

The labels on one of Lisa's quilts

Ink Inc Illustration

From lots of luscious colour to monochrome in just a few steps, we arrived at the wonderful array of cards, mugs and other items produced by Ink Inc Illustration. Their stall was quite busy when I was there so there was no chance to talk about their work. However, you can find out more at .

Natalie Laura Ellen Print & Textile Design
When I was perusing this stall the young man manning it was not terribly forthcoming. That means that, again, there is little I can tell you apart from the fact that there were some funky designs to be had here, as you can see in her Etsy shop: .

Katie King Design - Paper Illustration
Katie is a friendly, enthusiastic paper artist. She creates beautiful paper cuts, including some delightful 12 Days of Christmas tree baubles. They come in a well-designed lightweight cardboard package which includes a small compartment in the base for a message or, perhaps, some sweets. You can see her unusual paper cuts here: .

Katie King Design

Lomas & Lomas
Garry Lomas Photography
Firstly, apologies to Lomas & Lomas for only posting one photograph. I had not realised that you have two different trading names. Lomas & Lomas design fabric for cushions and lampshades. They also design and digitally print their own wallpaper. Look at their unique collection at .

Emily Patricia Wiles -
Knit Me A Stitch
Emily produces fabric bags - but they are ceramic fabric bags! No, I'm not mad, she creates a mould using a fabric bag to create a ceramic bag. Amazingly they look like fabric bags, or leather, or suede. Find out more about Knit Me A Stitch .

Knit Me A Stitch

I hope you have enjoyed wandering around the show with Liz and me. Join us tomorrow to see the remaining stalls and to find out what a young couple needed! It certainly surprised me!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

A Homeware Show With A Difference - Part One

Plaque by Amanda McCrann

Yesterday I had a lovely, crafty day with a new friend whom I met through the Be Creative group. Liz had tickets for the Home Is - In The North Show which was being held in Halle St. Peters in Ancoats, Manchester, and she invited me to go with her. OK, I may have twisted her arm, just a tad!

I had a tiny problem when I arrived, in that I had forgotten to take my purse! I couldn't even pay for my parking but, luckily, the organisers waived the fee for me. Phew!

After a delicious cup of tea, which Liz treated me to - thank you, Liz - we began looking at the stalls. Oh, what delights were in store for us. There were so many lovely and unusual items on sale that I shall simply run through them all, with a photo or two and a link to the Artist/Maker so that you can take a leisurely look for yourself.

Amanda McCrann - Mosaicist
Amanda is a self-confessed proud Mancunian who makes lovely mosaic plaques in varying fonts. See her work at .

Sarah Evelyn Marsh - Evelynarts
Sarah produces quirky fabric pictures many, if not all, of which include a pair of upside-down legs. She likes to tell a story in her collection of pictures. Her website is here: .

Kate Bufton - Book Artist
Kate uses old or preloved books to produce artworks. These range from trees made from folded books, to notebooks, to pictures using old music scores. I was pleased to see that she doesn't make words or hearts from folded books (that is just my opinion) but you can see what she does make, here: .

Some of Kate's trees

Double Thumbs Up
Barry Yearsley and Kirsty Haikney make unusual wooden Christmas bunting, merry-go-round lamps and papercuts. Some of the wood has been lightly coloured, some scorched [sorry, I can't remember the word for when pyrography has been done on something... has it been "pyrographed"?]. It would be easier if you went to look at what they do: .

Trove Foods, Leveshulme
I learned something at the show: Levenshulme in Manchester is on the "up". It has had something of a poor reputation but things are happening there, including a good Saturday market which includes craft/artisan stalls, and a cafe called 'Trove'. Trove sounds like a place that I need to go - lovely food and beautiful items for sale. You can find out more here: .

Ministry of Craft, Manchester
Ministry of Craft were running a lampshade making workshop at the show. You can find details of other craft courses and workshops that they offer at .

Claire Murray Designs
Claire Murray designs beautiful fabrics and wallpapers for the home which she prints herself. She then uses some of her fabric to make gorgeous cushions and lampshades. To see more of her work, visit her website: .

More Claire Murray Designs