Monday, 20 December 2010

Xmas greetings

Tree's up, cake baked, presents (almost) wrapped. Gingerbread House is still a baking fantasy.

Just one more job; to thank all of you for stopping by and reading this blog.

Have a very merry and prosperous Xmas and New Year.

See you in 2011.

Claire xox

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Herbst Bowl

This is a Herbst Urchin Bowl made from a pattern bought on etsy (it was a downloadable PDF). I bought the 5mm 100% wool felt from Blooming Felt.

It came together quickly. I want to improve the seams so I will do a larger seam allowance on the next one. This is a 9" bowl there is also an 8" size as well.

This makes for a very quick make. Two bowls sitting inside each other looks good too.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Reviving my Spirits

In between doing my best impression of Florence Nightingale I made this lovely Tea Fruit Loaf from a Sainsbury's recipe card that I picked up a few years ago.

It is very quick and easy, and apart from soaking your dried fruit for a while in tea, it comes together very quickly.

The recipe is as follows:

350g mixed dried fruit (I used 200g sultanas, 100g raisins, 50g currants)
350ml tea
Cover the fruit with the tea and leave overnight (or a few hours depending how desperate you are)
Mix with:
2 beaten eggs
200g dark brown soft sugar
270g self raising flour
1teaspoon of cinnamon

Put into a lined loaf tin, and bake at 170deg C or fan 160 deg C or gas mark 3 for 1.5 hours. I checked mine at 1 hours fifteen minutes and it was ready, so out it came. Cool on a wire rack and eat as soon as you want to (preferably with a nice cup of tea). Sainsburys suggest you spread margarine on it, I leave that up to you!

I have also been having a go at Attic24's crochet star decorations. Hooky fantasticnous! One wonky point but I got there in the end!

Have a lovely weekend. BTW My son is a bit better today.

Friday, 10 December 2010


My lovely eldest son has Scarlet Fever. Apparently it is still
around. The doctor brought in 2 other doctors so they could look at
his symptoms ! A course of antibiotics and he should be well again .
Here's a lovely note he made for me earlier in the week. We do love
him very much here. In between sleep we've watched The Flumps and
Paddington - good 70s children's shows.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

pretty patchwork

Here is another dolls blanket that I have made from fabric scraps that I have. I used some of the decorative stitches that my sewing machine does.
It looks a bit wonky in the photo, and dark, too many sunless days.

This is the back.

Now onto a quick and fast way to create a patchwork piece of fabric.

The first step is to sew together larger fabric scraps together into a rough square/ rectangular shape:

If this isn't patchworky enough for you, then re chop it up:

Now move the strips around into a pleasing new patchwork design:
Then sew back together:

Now you have an even more intricate patchwork piece.
You can keep chopping it up and resewing it as many times as you like, the only thing to remember is that it becomes smaller with each round.
Use this in projects such as lavendar bags, as a pocket on a bag or apron or in another way you see fit! You could sew a piece of fabric to the back, so it looks neater (there are a lot of seams)

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Tuesday Photo

It is a cold and frosty morning on this first Tuesday in December.

Monday, 6 December 2010

artistic treasures

Brighton is in the middle of the Xmas 2010 Artists' Open Houses. I have mentioned this amazing scheme before, as it also happens in May for the Brighton festival.

It is the most wonderful thing. I walk to houses, within 5mins of my own, and get to meet artists, see their work and buy things that I like (and can afford).

I started at at the Dragonfly House (#48 on the house tour) which always has a great choice of artists and disciplines. In this house, the ceramicists really caught my eye. There were three (I think, all with totally different styles).

I picked up this heart Xmas tree decoration made by Stacey Manser-Knight.

I really love it, very simple but stylish.

And to prove not all art is expensive, it was only £4.

I believe this sweet little bowl is made by Christiane Kersten, who usually makes printed ceramics. It was only £8, which I thought was pretty good for a limited edition piece.

The next house, that I bought something was The Family Show (#46 on the house tour). The standout artist for me was Shyama Ruffell. I bought this flower print from her (stupid blogger keeps turning it around!) I might be able to sort it out later, I've already tried twice.

I like the seedheads and flowers in this. The originals in oil were amazing, but I could only afford this print, which cost £25.

The next house that I went to, that I was impressed with, was 24 Yardley St (#24 on the house tour) There were three artists, Belen Gomez, John Dilnot and Kate Jenkins.

These 2 cards were by John Dilnot. I have seen his work in a shop in Brighton. I like his animal/ insect prints. All I could afford were these cards at £2 each. I plan to frame them, and put them on the wall in my son's bedroom. My eldest son likes them and wants them above his bed.

I picked up this sweet locket (£8) made by Kate Jenkins.

But my favourite things in Yardley St were these:

One side of the mug

The other side

The ceramics are made by Belen Gomez.

She is a lovely lady, and talented artist. I bought 2 mugs and 2 egg cups from her, with her allotment/ hen theme.
They are all on English fine bone china. (which is always nice to drink out of).

I hope you will agree, this is a great way to find some lovely presents for your family and friends and yourself!

Friday, 3 December 2010

Gift Ideas - Doll's Patchwork Quilt

This is another stash busting gift, a doll's patchwork quilt for my nieces.

I pieced together some of my fabric scraps in three coordinating fabrics. These fabrics had been originally used to make myself an apron, and dresses for my nieces. I had saved the last few bits away, I pulled them out and I literally tried to piece them together like a jigsaw, so I would end up with a rough rectangular shape (c45cm x 35cm). As you can see there is no set design, more crazy paving, if you will.

Once that is large enough. I trimmed it down to a rectangular shape. I them cut out a piece of cheap gingham fabric, I had, to the same size.

sewing batting together

Now for the clever bit, I have sewed together left over batting, from quilts I have already made, again to the same measurements. The way I did this, was to butt them up against each other and join using a zigzag stitch. That means it's a flat seam.

batting all sewn together

I'm not going to bind this, so I am laying the batting down then I lay the two rectangles of fabric right sides together.

Batting, fabric 1, Fabric 2 (rst)

I stitched all the way around, leaving a gap of between 5-8 cms. Turn inside out. Poke out corners. Now whip stitch gap together.

Feel free to quilt the blanket if you like. Make it as simple or as decorative as you desire. Time is probably an influencing factor here. It measures approx 19" x 15".

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Gift Ideas - Lavender Bags

I am going to try and show you the things I am making for friends and family.

My first set of gifts are some quick and easy lavender bags.

I am using up small pieces of fabric, that I probably won't be needing for anything else. You could piece them together, if you have more time, but I'm just using 2 coordinating fabrics for the front and back. I'm just cutting them into squares and rectangles. I am attaching ribbon, so they can be hung on hangers to scent clothes, and keep those moths at bay. You could omit the ribbon, and have them to be put on shelves and in drawers. I am making some for my husband as he had some suspicious holes in one of his jumpers. But we haven't seen any moths, but better to be safe than sorry.

I bought the dried lavender from a shop on Ebay, specialising in organic french lavender, a few years ago. Believe it or not, it still smells pretty strong. It did not cost too much either.

The tricky bit is inserting the ribbon.

As you can see you make a sandwich, with the fabric right sides together and the ribbon in the middle. You only want to sew the ribbon down on one side, so tuck it in as you sew round.

Sew around the edge with a 0.5cm seam (or whatever seam width you like). Do leave a gap, so you can turn your bag inside out and fill with lavender.

Gap left, and ribbon inserted.

Bags ready to fill

I filled with the lavender using some paper rolled into a cone shape, to help the lavender go in without making too much of a mess.

Once filled up whip stitch the hole up.

One lovely gift!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

A Sprinkling of Snow

This is my Tuesday Photo, just taken, on my way into work.

Brighton finally has a small scattering of snow. The rest of the country appears to be drenched in the stuff, but here in the sunny south, we have, so far, got off very lightly.

I do love this plant, especially in winter. It doesn't seem to capture my attention in the summer. Is it Dogwood? I'm not sure, I should probably ask my dad, who is pretty knowledgeable about these things.

Well wherever you are today, I hope the weather is to your liking!

Final Final Reminder: get your 30% off with some Autumn Cheer - CODE: Autumn30.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Holiday Ideas

I do plan on doing a tiny bit of making, but that is looking more and more impossible as the weeks go on. I d want to do a tutorial for you guys, but it might all be getting a bit late, for you and me! I have though made a Christmas Cake for my husband using Rachel Allen's recipe (same one I used as last year) Of course now I have crystallised stem ginger in my cupboard that I'm supposed to do what with?? Any recipes using that would be most appreciated!

On the buying front I was in the city today and just on Sydney Street I found these lovely things in the IO Gallery.

lovely glass coasters, in a variety of colours by Lorraine Cole £10
Some great prints and original paintings. These two caught my eye:

Brighton Twittering by Kim Glass - the map in the ones in the shop was of Brighton. £90 framed.

First on the Beach by Ed Boxall. I am very drawn to this, as it reminds me of my sons on the beach. £40 unframed/ £70 framed.

And some books from Dave's Comics, also on Sydney Street for the comic book and anime lovers:

We are big fans of Studio Ghibli films in this household. Film4 often shows them. They are really worth checking out. Howl's Moving Castle is absolutely brilliant, with the young heroine being cursed by a witch and being turned into an old lady. She has to find a way to break the curse with the help of Howl, Calcifer (the talking fire) and the castle. All good stuff.

Final reminder, just a few more days to get your prints with the 30% discount. Code: AUTUMN30.

If it's snowing where you are, stay safe. As yet it hasn't hit Brighton. But that did not stop me from buying some Yaktrax. I'll let you know if they are any good, once I see some snow and ice!

Sunday, 21 November 2010

The Last Hurrah

My geraniums are still going, despite the frost. I'm grateful for
their resilience.

It's a lovely zing of red on the ever increasing grey days. I am
happy to take colour from wherever it comes from.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Autumnal Cheer

For all my lovely readers, I have managed to press-gang my compliant husband into arranging a super duper offer. (This might come in useful for some Xmas presents). I'd take advantage quickly before he comes to his senses - he's a Yorkshireman.

So for the next 2 weeks (until the end of November) you can get a whopping 30% off his Landscape and Abstract prints from his website. All you need is the code: AUTUMN30

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Tuesday Morning

This might be the start of a semi regular feature, Tuesday morning.

It's really what I see on my way to work, a reflection of the changing seasons and weather.

Today was the first frost I have seen since last winter. That probably means my geraniums on my balcony will not be lasting much longer! Feel free to join in and send me your link.

Monday, 15 November 2010

sewing table - woo hoo!

Apologies for the picture heavy post.

But here is my new sewing table. All keen followers of my blog will know that I have been looking into a suitable sewing table for a long time. so I will talk you through it and give you my opinion. I ordered it without seeing it in person, but the Horn Website has videos on it, which was instrumental in helping me make my mind up.

This is the Horn Hideaway 33. Despite every website that sells it saying it has a 28 day delivery, it came in a week, and with the correct cut out for my machine.

So this is it as a table, which is an ok size.

And from above. You can see the grooves, where the 2 table top pieces join. If I wanted to lay a pattern out and copy it, I'd have to be mindful of those grooves.

This is the upper table piece being raised up, to fit the sewing machine in. It has a very smooth action. You can raise it via those black screws, so it fits in line perfectly.

This is the plastic insert that fits around my machine.

The machine in situ.

As you can see the plastic insert and upper table, extends the sewing machine, giving more support to the fabric as I sew. This is especially useful for quilts, as they get very heavy.

The plastic insert has a ruler on it, which is handy.

I have already used it as I'm sewing a quilt at the moment. I have found the table to be really sturdy and well made. It is easy to open up and down, and I couldn't be more pleased. Now all I have to do now, is create a space for it in our spare bedroom. It's currently in our hallway, which has no natural light.
I would definitely recommend this. It also comes in wood, but I thought white would be easier to see the true colour of fabric on.