Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Christmas makes

This Christmas I wanted to make each of my 'men' a handmade Christmas present. When I saw this blog post I decided to copy emulate Katy. I bought the flannel fabric here. I also used this tutorial to make the pouches.
Zippered pouch for Senior Son

Zippered pouch for Junior Son
For my husband I made a bigger bag with boxed corners. I also appliquéd his initial in the middle of the churndash block.
Zippered pouch for my husband
My husband has also been asking for an apron so I made one too. I appliquéd his name across the top of it. He was very pleased with it and has used it!
Apron for hubby
For me, being able to make presents for my family gave me much satisfaction. This is a tradition in the making…
Di x

The Day After Christmas

Hi all
I hope that you are having a good Christmas and enjoying time off from the bustle of everyday life. Here at Willowbeck House we are having a chilled time. We went to the Christmas Eve Communion Service and so we didn't wake until after 10am and that set the tone for our Christmas Day. We are very relaxed here!

I have to show you my Christmas pressie as it is a biggie! I have been struggling for ages to take decent photographs on my camera. It is often not up to the job and I find it frustrating to blog when I cannot get decent photos of what I have made and spent time on making.

This is what I found when I opened my present yesterday… Yes a bridge camera! I cannot tell you how pleased I am. It makes a taking photos so easy.
My Camera!
 The photo below is of a cute little pincushion that my boys gave me.

Pin cushion
There is even a pull out tape measure in the base! Those boys have me taped!!!

Pin cushion with the tape measure pulled out.
 It is so nice not to have to struggle with the lighting issues when taking a photo.
I cannot resist in showing off my table runner as the photo shows so much more detail. I have put the runner on the sideboard whilst we are using the table.
Christmas table runner
I hope that you are having a good Christmas with you and yours. I will be back tomorrow to show you some of my secret Santa makes. In the meantime don't forget to enter Sarah's two year Blogiversary Giveaway as she is generously giving away  5 gorgeous fqs of Liberty cotton.
Di x 

Monday, 17 December 2012

It is feeling a lot like Christmas...

It is feeling a lot like Christmas in our home. The tree eventually went up and was decorated yesterday. I did have a little help from my younger son ( & cat). The normal 'the lights won't work' was heard and after a lot of faffing around and sucking of teeth, hubby and son got them working. Why is it they work one year, spend the rest of the year in a box, then don't work the following year? It is always the same in our home. Anyway that was a big tick on my 'to do' list!
The tree is up!
This year I excelled myself by also decorating the mantelpiece with some Christmas bunting and some porcelain decorations. The latter were bought at a craft fair and they are exquisite in real life. The dark days just don't let me take a good enough photo of them.
Porcelain reindeer

Porcelain star
Christmas fireplace
Now, for people who don't know me I am not that keen on Christmas decorations. I am very happy to see them in other people's houses, but I don't really want them in my own. This is the height of the decorations in my home…well almost!

One thing that I have completed sewing that makes me feel as if Christmas is coming is my table runner. I finally got it completed this weekend and I am really pleased with it.
Christmas table runner

Christmas table runner - detail

Christmas table runner - detail

Christmas table runner 
The runner went together really well. I loved doing the hand stitching detail around the edge and I also machine quilted around each individual spinning wheel. I am so pleased that it has turned out just as I had imagined it would look before I started making it. It is just under 5ft long and fits perfectly on the table. It is looking a lot like Christmas at Willowbeck House
Di x

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Secret Santa post

In my new bee, Bee A Brit Stingy  we have got to know each other by swapping pincushions and this week we sent our Secret Santa parcels. I made this basket for Collette.
The basket made for Collette
On Thursday night I came in very late after a lovely 'Christmassy' day in Cambridge and found an interesting parcel that my nice postie had left in the coal bunker for me. I couldn't take any photos yesterday as we had torrential rain and the light was terrible. It was one of those days when you had the lights on all day and it was still really drab. Imagine my delight when I opened up my own Secret Santa parcel. It was from Sheila and it was filled with lots of goodies. 
My Secret Santa basket and goodies from Sheila
The basket is a real Christmassy one made with Oh Deer fabric. I love it Sheila. It was filled with  chocolates and a roll of fabrics, a fantastic zipper with a jazzy pull (I am going to make myself a pouch using this), a frame to make a little purse (need time to sit down and do this - a New Year project methinks!), some appliqué hearts all cut out and ready to use and a delicate glass angel for my tree. I really don't know how that came though the post intact. Sheila has greater faith in the postal system than I do! I took a close up of the angel as it gets 'lost' in the above photo.
Glass angel
This bunch of goodness all came wrapped in some amazing 'bubble wrap' type of material. Look at those santas and snowmen. We have nothing like that in the neck of the woods!

Thank you Sheila for such a beautiful basket filled with lots of 'treasure'. I am one happy bunny.

Di xo

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Dashing along on the sewing machine!

Christmas is fast approaching, school is out in 10 days time and there is still so much secret sewing to do! So I have been putting the pedal to the floor as much as I can, around the busyness of life.
I have made a second infinity scarf…
Second infinity scarf
...and another pouch and pencil case.
Zippy pouch and pencil case
I have also started attaching the binding onto my Christmas table runner.
Binding going onto the table runner
So now I need to hand sew the binding to the back of the runner. This is my favourite job as I love to see the whole project change into the finished item in front of my eyes! It might not get done tonight but hopefully I will have it all finished in the next couple of days.
Di x

Sunday, 9 December 2012

A Simple Make

Last Friday I met up with my sewing friend and we decided that we would make a quick and easy infinity scarf. We did too much chatting, so only the cutting out was completed before I left. Yesterday, I cracked on with the sewing and ended up with a beautiful infinity scarf. I used some Liberty tana lawn off cuts that I had bought at a mill shop last summer.
Close up of Liberty infinity scarf
Here is me squinting in the low sunlight! It is a lovely cosy scarf that retains it's shape without being bulky.
Liberty infinity scarf
These make excellent presents and are quick to make. I have another two cut out and ready to sew. I think that these will be my 'go to' present in the future.
Di x

Friday, 7 December 2012

Progress report

I thought that I would give you a progress report on my long Christmas list. 

First up, are another couple of zippy pouches. I have been asked to make some for a local shop so I don't know if these will end up as presents or not. I really want to make one for my lovely SIL as her birthday is a couple of days after Christmas.
Zippy pouch 1 (front)

Zippy pouch 1 (back)
 The second one is made from the same scraps left over from a jelly roll.
Zippy pouch 2 (front)

Zippy pouch 2 (back)
I have also made a couple more Zakka pencil cases.
Zakka pencil cases
I have started hand stitching around my Christmas table runner. Thanks to Susan, who gave me advice about the type of needle to use, I am making a good start on this and thoroughly enjoying the hand stitching.
Hand stitching around the Christmas table runner
I don't think I will achieve very much sewing this evening as we are going to Lincoln to the Christmas Market. It is going to be cold and crowded. Perfect for a little mulled wine as we go round the stores.
Di x

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Secret swaps and fabric frenzy

I have been doing some secret sewing for the Bee a Brit Stingy Secret Swap. This new bee is up and running in January 2013 but we have had a couple of little secret swaps in the lead up to it's launch. The Christmas Secret Santa Swap is to make a basket following this pattern. We then can fill it with goodies of our choice. 

I wanted to make my partner a Christmassy basket without using Christmas fabrics, so that she will have a choice of using it all year round. 
'Christmassy' Fabric basket

I used linen for the base and the handles. I have made my partner a little crochet string tub and a lavender bag, made from a vintage handkerchief. When I saw the Christmas tree ornament at a local craft fair I couldn't resist buying it for my partner as it is so simple yet attractive. It is made by Georgia at Cross Donkey. It is made from an old blanket and is called a 'Blanket Bauble'. I just thought it was such a clever way of making something beautiful out of a discarded blanket. I have previously given my husband an old blanket for his decorating covers. I have now reclaimed it and now it is all washed and back in the linen press all ready for a future project!

Secret swap basket and goodies to be put in it
Of course no swap would be complete without a little chocolate, so I have added some Thornton's chocolate. This little parcel will be in the post by Monday to my secret partner.

I have also been indulging in a little fabric frenzy buying. I took advantage of the Black Friday sales in USA and put in an order at Pink Castle Fabrics. The discount basically paid for my postage. I have plans for the retro phones and the modern bauble fabric is for my growing stash! (Don't forget that I said that I wasn't going to stash fabric. Well don't believe me!).
Fabric buying

You might remember these cushions that I made just as I was starting blogging back in February.
Ruby cushions

We need more handmade cushions for our living room and my husband keeps asking if I will make more. When he saw this cushion...

Flower cushion
...he asked if I could make more in the Ruby fabric. I did explain to him that these type of fabrics are only available for a short period of time and it probably wouldn't be possible to buy more. I did do a little research and found some for sale in an excellent eBay shop that I have bought from before. It was for a fat quarter bundle and it was expensive, with a capital E. My husband asked if I would use it and after reassurance suggested that I pushed the 'Buy" button. So this morning this package also dropped onto the doormat.
Beautiful Ruby fabric
 I am so delighted to have found this fabric and now there is no excuse for making some cushions in the New Year. I obviously am not going to be using all this fabric for cushion making but I am February Queen Bee in the hipBees and I might just be using this in my quilt, so Sarah you too can stroke and play with my beautiful fabric too!
Another view of my beautiful Ruby fabric

Tuesday, 4 December 2012


Sometimes when you have a long list of ideas and projects that you want to finish by a certain date i.e. Christmas, another project comes along and jumps to the top of the list. Well that has happened to me this week. A friend came over last Friday afternoon for a sewing session. We had a great time sharing our projects and chatting. We had both gone to the Duxford Quilt Show and had bought a cushion pattern with the idea that we would sew together. Friday was our 'sew and share' afternoon. We didn't quite get the cushion finished in one session so I decided that I would complete it this past weekend and tick it off my growing Christmas list.

Flower Cushion

Back of Flower Cushion with hidden zipper opening
I have enjoyed doing the hand stitching around the blocks and the flower. It has been nice to sit in the evenings doing some stitching whilst listening to the radio.

Details on the Flower Cushion
Hand quilting on the Churn Dash block
So although I hadn't planned on making this cushion, I am glad that I had a bit of a detour from the Christmas list. Now I need to get back on track with my Christmas table runner!
The photo below says it all!
Border in the making!
Di x

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Catching up

This week I have been trying to catch up with my WIPs on my long 'things to do before Christmas' list. The most pressing item is my November hipBee block for Catherine. She has been very gracious and said that December would be fine but I reckon that is the way to ruin and getting behind. As I am the hipBee mama, I should be setting an example and not slacking. So as it is still November I reckon that I have just got this block finished in the nick of time. Catherine,  it will be in the post today. Phew!

State of block last night
I managed to sew the horizontal seams last night after this photo was taken, so that I could do the vertical seams this morning in daylight. I have tried to match the points perfectly but there are a couple that may have not quite reached the mark.  
All vertical seams now completed

Completed with less than perfect points!
The next Christmas WIP that I want to complete is the Christmas table runner for my dining room table. I have now completed the blocks.
Aqua/grey block

Red Block (out of focus)

Green block

I have also sewn them together and they are waiting for the next stage….
Christmas runner blocks laid out on the table
I am going to use a mini charm pack (2.5" Squares) that were in my goodie bag at the FQ retreat, mixed with some fabric from the spinning wheels, to make a scrappy border down either side of the runner. That might be a job for the weekend though…
Di x