Monday, 31 March 2008

How Cool is School?

On Saturday, we (2 sons and me) went to my eldest's school to start making costumes for the Brighton Children's Parade. It was so well organised by the teachers, all the children were divided into the costumes they are wearing, plus parent escort! So we had to make hats using willow, which was quite ingenious. I've never used willow before, but once wet, it bends nicely. One talented person was making a huge willow sculpture, which looked incredible. Luckily the youngest just hovered by my feet or sat on my lap, happily watching what was going on. Not so luckily, the eldest and his friends started to get a bit restless.

Although when it came to the paper mache-ing it was more of a hit. We have another marathon session at the school in a few weeks, which might be more chaotic as not everyone attended the first session, so they will have a lot of catching up.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Beauty Bag Update

I have added a magnetic snap fastening to my bag. I added a small strap, attached to the rear of the bag, with one part of the magnet on that, and the other attached to the front of the bag. It certazinly makes me feel more comfortable using it around the city. Apart from that, the bag is great, very roomy and lovely!

Friday, 28 March 2008

Carnation Sugarcraft Tutorial

Carnation Cutter (Orchard Products)
Rolling Pin
Palette Knife
Cocktail Stick
Edible glue
Flowerpaste (diamond paste and mould company) coloured to your choice
26 wire
Drying rack

Step 1. Cut wire and fold down top. Attach a bead of flowerpaste with glue. Let dry.
Step 2. Roll out flowerpaste quite thinly. Use cornflower on board to stop paste from sticking. Step 3. Cut out 3 or 4 carnations, leave for a few minutes, if sticky.
Step 4. Frill edges using a cocktail stick. Just do a segment of the flower at a time, so you get a nice up and down effect on the flower. Step 5. Run a line of glue along the middle of the flower. Fold in half.
Step 6. With wire with bead on top, place on flower, fix with a small amount of glue (Too much glue and it'll go all soft and horrible). The frill is at the top.
Step 7. Run a small amount of glue on the diagonal. Fold the flower over the pea. Do the same on the other side.
Step 8. Gently pinch in base, and the frill top should fan out a bit. Gently coax out flowers.
Step 9. Hang upside down and let dry
Step 10. Repeat as many times as necessary.
Step 11. For the next layer of flower repeat steps 2 - 4. So you have a round frilled flower.
Step 12. Very thinly add a small amount of glue to the middle of the flower. Step 13. Place this flower on your hand, and push a wired flower into it. Stick them together. You may need to do this upside down . Do be careful as the flowerpaste can tear easily.
Step 14. Repeat with another 2 or 3 layers, frilling the petals as you go.
Step 15. Add a calyx (blue/green colour)
Step 16. Make leaves (long slim leaves, grass like)
Step 17. Bind together in a posy.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Last Class of the Year

Last night was the last cake decorating class of the year, which was very sad. I've really enjoyed the classes for many reasons. Learning a new skill, which has some use to me. Meeting new people with similar interests is always good. Getting out of the house and doing something away from my family (other than my job) is a healthy thing. So it'll be a bit dull on Wednesday nights until September! Although my teacher is hopefully putting an Orchid workshop on one Saturday during June, which I'll go to. Also next year our class will be called Intermediates!!! I don't think I'm worthy of that but it's nice to have a boost!

Our last class was learning carnations which I really enjoyed. I haven't finished mine, as we had to let them dry between layers of petals, but I'll try and do a tutorial, if I have the time in the next few days!

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Trees & Bags & Things

Yesterday, I started to finish off some bags. Here is one of them, it's for my sister, so I hope she doesn't read this!!!
I used felt and corduroy for the tree and leaves, and then embroidered by hand and machine patterns onto the leaves. I'm pretty pleased with it. It replaces many plastic bags!

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Pleated Beauty Bag

Yesterday I spent the ENTIRE day making this bag. Amy does suggest in her book to do it in stages. As I have a few days to myself, I decided to take my time, relax and do it step by step, reading carefully as I go.

I started to cut out the pieces in cm, but then realised there was a big error on one of the measurements (luckily I hadn’t cut) so switched to measuring in inches! I used my new rotary cutter and mat, it was fantastic. I also used these felted weights I made in October to hold down the fabric, and they were great!

I don’t think I planned on doing the embroidery when I bought the material for this bag (in about October 07!) But yesterday, with the luxury of an uninterrupted day ahead of me, I decided to do it.

I’ve never done embroidery before (at least I don’t think I have) so it was a nice introduction to a simple pattern. I copied the one in the book, as I thought it tied in with my fabric.
I now have to admit, that I did not read this step properly, and did the design too low. Which I then realised after I’d embroidered it. So I redid it, and my incorrectly placed embroidery now makes up part of the lining! Part of the bag’s story!

I do wish Amy had written the dimensions on her pictures to make it clearer to silly people like me!

Anyway, I carried on, and started to sew it up. This took a fair amount of time.

My contrasting flowery fabric is a stretchy material, so when it came to the pocket, I actually sewed it to a piece of the pink corduroy fabric, to give it more weight and substance. I then treated that as if it was one piece. Again there is an error in the book about the sizing and where to place the pocket. On the flickr group Amy has, which I read after, it does mention the size and says the pocket should fit between the 2 pleats; therefore the book’s measurements are too wide. Also you need to make sure it’s 8 or 9cm up from the bottom so it’s not caught up in the base of the bag.
I did find it very hard to sew over layers and layers of fabric. My sewing machine had a heavy weight needle in it and it still had quite a job, and wasn’t always able to make it round.
The other issue I came up with, was when turning it all the right way round, I found it very hard to get my rigid interfacing through, even through I thought I’d left a large enough gap, as instructed. The shop I bought all my fabric from didn’t have any rigid interfacing, but suggested that I use the heavy weight cardboard that fabric comes on. They very kindly gave me some. Anyway, on my project here, I’d have been better to leave the entire side open of the lining.
The straps I made as tubes and turned inside out. My stretchy flowery material was not going to behave so I could not do it Amy’s way, although that looked very smart.

When it came to sewing down the top, which was where my machine had the most difficulty. Although I took my time measuring it all up, I still seem to have a few small puckers, very annoyingly.

I think I’m going to add a magnetic snap closure, I live in a city, and travel by train to get to work, I want to know that my stuff is safe!!!

But overall I am pleased. It’s a quirky individual bag, which no one else in the world has, and I’m proud of my efforts. Yet again, I’ve learned more about sewing and making things. Where I need to look out for problems and so on!

Please check out the WIP pictures on Flickr just over there!

Friday, 21 March 2008

Happy Easter!

I made these easy-peasey-lemon-squeezy chocolate nests with Cadbury's mini eggs in them.

All you need is Shreaded Wheat or Mini Shreaded Wheat and crush it, a bar of Milk Chocolate, melted. Mix the shreaded wheat into the melted chocolate, until desired texture. Put in fairy cake cases, pop 2 or 3 mini eggs on top and put in fridge. Feel successful!

I've also started to make the Pleated Beauty Bag from Bend the Rules Sewing. Will show you the results later!

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Sugarcraft Primrose Tutorial

At my evening class we have been doing primroses. Here is how I've been taught to make them. Equipment:
Food colouring (primrose)
Mexican Hat Board
Primrose Flower Cutter(Medium) Orchard Products
Artist's Palette Knife
Cocktail Stick
Wooden dowelling, sharpened at one end
Non stick Board
Rolling Pin
Yellow dusting Powder
Green Food Dye
Green Dusting Powder
26 wire
Edible glue


Step 1. Dye flowerpaste to a pale yellow, with primrose food colouring

Step 2. Take a small amount of flowerpaste and roll into a cone. (Roll into a ball, then just roll and put pressure on one side to create cone)

Step 3. Put in 3rd smallest hole in Mexican Hat Mat and push in with thumb.

Step 4. Roll flowerpaste flat with either rolling pin or wooden dowelling. Make sure it is thin.

Step 5. Take flowerpaste out. Place "tail" into cutter first, down into the tube part.

Step 6. Turn cutter upside down, and place on cutting board. Cut out.

Step 7. If flowerpaste still in cutter, more than likely, then push through carefully with cocktail stick. OR like my friend Gayle, blow it out!

Step 8. Gently poke the dowelling into the centre of the flower.

Step 9. With a cocktail stick, gently run over each petal, from centre to the outside, to thin the petal.

Step 10. With a 7cm piece of 26 gage wire, turn a few mm over and push the ends together. Dip into the edible glue.

Step 11. Push the wire through the flower, the hook bit at the top. Stop when just under the hole you've made with the dowel. Gently press flowerpaste so it sticks to wire. Bend flower petals as you wish to place them. Let dry.

Step 11. Once dry you can dust the flowers. Add a tiny dot of green to centre of flower, into the hole. Then dust a small circle of a darker yellow around the green dot you've just made.
Step 12. Make leaves. Colour flowerpaste to a leaf green colour.

Step 13. Roll out thinly. Use a primrose leaf cutter or oak leaf cutter (as I did)

Step 14. Lay on leaf veiner (I'm using a rose leaf veiner)

Step 15. Twizzle a small amount of flowerpaste onto 26 gage wire, roughly the length of the leaf. Lay wire on top of leaf (see below)

Step 16. Press veiner together. You now have a leaf!

Step 17. Dust with green dust and dip in glaze when dry.

Step 18. Assemble into a display, as you desire.

If there's anything that doesn't make sense, or you liked this, please let me know!

Monday, 17 March 2008

Easter Countdown

I haven't done much lately, but I have big plans for the 3-4 days that I should have alone over Easter.

Firstly I have some repairs.

1. Some of my earliest doorstops have not stood the test of time, due to far too much flinging around by my children. So I'm repairing 2 or 3 of them, going to add in a zip, and resew over the seams a few times to make them stronger, plus wash them!

2. A jumper that has split on a seam, resew that.

3. Repair pocket in husband's jeans.

To make:

1. Some tote bags. I want to eradicate all plastic bags from my life!

2. Amy Karol Pleated Tote bag (forgotten what it's called) Completed on 21/3/08!

3. Maybe a Betz White felted project.

4. Tidy up and sort out my office area

5. Sort out photos!!!

I'll have to see just how far along I get, but will certainly post piccies of any sewing I get done!

I cannot wait, I just hope my sewing machine doesn't bail on me!

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Howies are in Brighton!!

Howies are in Brighton for 3 days, with a clearance sale. They go back to Cardigan Bay on Sunday! If you don't know who they are go on their website for some great stuff, mainly organic and ethically made. And always top notch quality.

I bought 1 T-Shirt, 1 Shower Proof Jacket in orange which I had been after for ages! (again what is it about orange?), 1 Pair of Jeans, 1 Jumper. This cost me just over £100. Had I paid full price it would have been £260-£300. So it was a good saving. My husband did even better, he got a coat for £50 which was originally for £200.

To be honest I wish I could pay full price for their clothes, because of the way they conduct and run their business. But I can't afford £100 for jeans! Anyway long live Howies! (will post pics later!)

Friday, 7 March 2008


Today is my eldest's son's birthday. He is 5! I baked the cake on Wednesday night (tripled my usual chocolate sandwich cake mixture!) and baked 2 round cakes and 1 square cake.
Last night (Thursday) my husband and I started the decorating. We now have a lovely tradition in our house, of I bake and do any frosting stuff and he carves and covers the cake and does the key decorating for all the children's birthday cakes. I decided to do a cyberman cake (from Doctor Who).

So starting just past 9pm we got going. I coloured the regallice, a grey colour. Mixed together some chocolate butter cream, to stick it all together! Husband started carving the cake to get the main shape. Then I rolled the icing out, he cut it and decorated the cake. He did a great job. I then mixed up some royal icing, coloured that grey, and we used that for the eyes and mouth. I'm really really pleased with the result. We finished just before 11pm!! I do have a lot of cake left over, all cut into bits where my husband carved it out. Better to have too much than too little though!

This is the foundations of the cake.

The finished thing, more photos on flickr (click over there - >)

Then this morning the Birthday Boy was up at 5am, I got up at 6am and made gingerbread biscuits for his class mates. He wanted a #5, which I did, but my cutter is small, so I look really mean! I only had time to cut out 30, otherwise I would have done 60, so they could have had 2 each!

I'm having 6 of his friends over for an after school party. I've done the party bags (wooden compass, mini chocolate eggs, B-day cake, and a styrofoam kit aeroplane). We're eating first; cheese and jam sandwiches, veggies, breadsticks, dips, olives, hula hoops, jelly and icecream. Then some crafting, they're decoating foam crowns with foam letters and shapes inspired by here. Then some party games (pass the parcel, musical statues, sleeping tigers) Then hopefully home time! I'll be shattered. At this age, all they want is the party bag!

We bought the Birthday Boy a knight's dressing up outfit. It's pretty cool, although the sword is a danger (I'm sure it'll become part of his collection of WMD that remain on top of wardrobes for months!)

It's fantastic to be 5!!!

Thursday, 6 March 2008


I just saw Juno, the other night at my lovely arthouse cinema. I thought it was superb, great dialogue, great cast, great music. Came home feeling all warm and happy.

Immediately requested soundtrack from husband. In the end I bought it online, so I'm hoping it'll come today.

It's such a shame that there aren't more warm and funny and quirky GREAT films out there. I'm really pleased that Diablo Cody (writer) has been recognised for her work.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Pressies (to myself!)

to make me more efficient!
(rotary mat, cutter, pinking blade, bias tape machine)

for my easter sewing projects!
(FQs - bought on Ebay - l-r Free Spirit J Sassaman Butterfly Red Pink Fabric, Michael Miller's Sugar Coated Yellow Cotton, Michael Miller's Shopping Girls)

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Full Bloom

Glad I invested in these bulbs, as they are brightening up our rooms. Still waiting for my balcony pots to get going!