It’s been a while!

Wow, I had really hoped to be able to keep up with the blog a bit better than I have been since I returned to my day job back in July. One thing to add to the list of resolutions for 2015!

I’ve been pretty busy over the past five months, balancing the day job with my other job; researching family trees for clients as well as sorting out orders from the Etsy shop, not to mention the general day to day life – housework and the like!

I haven’t been sewing much in these past few months, other than for custom orders – like this set of three blue kangaroo finger puppets…

Blue Kangaroos

 

I’ve also managed to go over the 500 mark of likers on my Facebook page, had my most popular pin on Pinterest be repinned over 1100 times and been getting some lovely feedback from sales in the shop.

Feedback 3

At work we got a new boss – a great guy who already worked in the office who was promoted. I made a few things for him – firstly a Mini-Me of him (much like the others I have made for people at work that you can see in a couple of other posts here and here.)

Mini Dudley 1Mini Dudley 2

Mini Dudley 3

A mini boss complete with awesome Kokka robot fabric back, a laptop with “Very Important PMO work” on it and a tin of biscuits.

He then got his own office – and after a random conversation about cowboy films and saloons, a colleague and I decided to decorate his new office…

Sheriff Badge Wanted

So along with a felt sheriff’s badge and a wanted poster of me and a saloon piano, I made a cactus, a tombstone and a desk tumbleweed. Thankfully he has a great sense of humour!

I also won second prize in the poetry section of the local arts festival this year. The theme was WWI – you can read the poem on my other blog here – Dear Mrs Sage.

My husband and I have also had a few nights out going to see some shows, like The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain and comedian Dave Gorman and we have more planned in 2015. We also went away for a nice romantic spa weekend away at the end of October to this lovely place – Tortworth Court in Gloucestershire.

Tortworth-Court-Four-Pillars-Hotel_Exterior-1700x999

And we finally got round to developing the disposable cameras from the tables at our wedding reception over three years ago. The majority of the shots were black or white nothingness, or dark and grainy, but there were some good ones like this one…

Alex Face 2

And I got a new tattoo – something I’ve been wanting to do for some time now and finally decided on a design and booked myself in to my local tattooist (who has a three/four month waiting list!) It is based on an Alphonse Mucha painting which was modified to fit in the area I wanted it on my left arm. It took two hours and hardly hurt at all – and I love it!

Tattoomonaco-monte-carlo-1897

Then Christmas approached – with my work Christmas party which involved nice food, wine, a quiz (in which my table got disqualified in the first round…) and me laughing till I almost wet myself.

Alex Chrimbo

 

Sadly we lost my husband’s step-grandmother two weeks before Christmas, so we have her funeral to go to tomorrow. She was 91 and had been in hospital for about a month, so while it was not unexpected, we had hoped she would be around for one last Christmas, but sadly it was not to be. Despite this, we carried on with our Christmas preparations and had plenty of gifts under the tree. We managed to fit in a trip to my parents the weekend before Christmas and enjoyed spending some time with them. We had a quiet Christmas Day together, with Mini C being with his Mum before spending Boxing Day with us and opening his presents including a new bike. I realised that I needed to make Mini C a bigger stocking as the old one I made him was just too small, and out of the material that was left over I made a cat stocking for Sam!

Tree 2014Stockings

My best present this year has been my new sewing machine – which I got to use today making a wrist rest. It works like a dream and is soooo much better than “The Beast” my old machine. Smooth and quiet and just so nice to work with!

New MachineSpotty Wrist Rest

So there we have it – pretty much the last five months or so wrapped up! I hope that you all had a great festive season and I wish you all the best for a great 2015!

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A bag of beans

A while ago I saw a great tutorial from Project Nursery.com via Plush Addict’s Facebook page on making a beanbag.

bean-bag-graphic-2

The instructions were very easy to follow, but despite it saying it could be made in 30 minutes, it took me a wee bit longer than that. Like maybe closer to two hours. This is probably down to the fact I had to measure out my fabric, trim it to size, iron it, lay it out on my kitchen floor, pin it up, trim it again as somehow one piece was bigger than the other before I could get on with any sewing.

I decided to go for a non-heavyweight fabric, I may end up regretting that, but I’ve been sure to make sure I secure my seams pretty well and my stepson has been advised that as it’s been lovingly made by yours truly, that it would be nice if he didn’t constantly throw himself on it.

I picked Passing Clouds in Gold by Elouise Renouf for the Bark & Branch collection of Cloud 9 fabrics. I love this design with the bold black lines and the gold yellow tones. I went for a matching Kona Solid in Yarrow. I got the clouds fabric from one of my favourite online fabric shops The Eternal Maker.

CloudsYarrow

I dutifully followed the instructions, sewing up the two long sides first, folding over, cutting my curve and sewing that, and then came the bit I was a dreading. The zip. I’ve never done a zip before, ever. I’d had to look at the picture a few times to get it into my head what to do. I sent the link to the tutorial to my Mum so we could talk about it. She was all “Oh yes, it should be pretty straightforward, make sure you pin it in right sides together. Practice first with the other zip you bought a while ago.” I had bought a zip a couple of weeks ago, thinking about perhaps having a go at something with a zip. In the end I just went for it, I made sure I pinned it in, then tacked it in and took it to the machine and put my zipper foot on. Then I had no idea which way I should sew it, which side of the zip should be against what part of the foot? In the end I did a line of stitching both ways, at least it will make it a bit more secure! I also then realised how to finish it off from each side making sure none of the ends of the zip were showing on the right side of the fabric and stitched across the ends to ensure the fastener would stop and there would be no escaping beans!

The tutorial said to use 3.5 cubic feet of bean bag fill. I had bought 4 cubic feet thinking that I could top it up when required, but it turned out I needed more than that as it was looking a bit flat and sad, so I ordered another 4 cubic feet with a view to having plenty left over to use for top ups! I used probably just under half of it to finish it off.

Beanbag 1Beanbag 3Beanbag 4Beanbag 2

I am quite pleased with it, pleased I didn’t totally mess up on the zip and pleased that it looks vaguely like the picture, but most of all, pleased that my stepson likes it. When I told him I had made it he said ‘It’s very nice.’ Later that afternoon he spent several minutes jumping on it and then squirming about in it before eventually settling down and using it to sit in while playing on the XBox. Looks rather comfy!

Beanbag Customer

 

Printing and Stamping

This week I decided to try to make my own little stamp of my Fudge & Poppy logo using a square eraser. I picked up a bunch of five chunky black erasers from eBay a while ago with a view to giving it a go.

I had been flicking through a nice book I got from the library a while back – The Hand Printed Home by Jenny McCabe. I love the idea of making my own stamps and prints and especially doing something to print fabric with. At some point I will get some fabric paint medium to mix with acrylics to use to try some ideas with.

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In the meantime I thought that my first attempt at carving my own stamp would be something I could perhaps use to stamp onto brown paper tags. So I got the image for my F&P logo and reversed it using Gimp (a free version of a programme like Photoshop) and then printed it out. I then stuck it over my eraser and dug out a craft knife. I was a bit annoyed with myself, as the last time I had used the craft knife was when we did pumpkin carving last year – and it must not have been cleaned very well (and had been stood in a Marvin the Martian mug on the windowsill by the sink since then) so the end was a bit rusty. But I thought, it’s my first go, so I wont be too hard on myself if I make a hash of it.

As it turns out – I didn’t do too badly!

Stamp

I went through my old stash of ink pads to find that my black one had totally dried up and my bronze one was just about OK, so I will probably have to get a new black one if I want to use it properly.

Last week I also managed to make a nice print on myself with the iron. I was reaching over it to put a cushion cover on the end of the ironing board when I caught my wrist on the top point of the iron – which was super hot as it was on the hottest setting. Needless to say I ran straight into the bathroom and ran gallons of cold water over it. A week on and it’s still quite tender, the skin has cracked a little because I’ve been doing all my usual stuff and probably not taking quite as good care of it as I should. Hopefully smothering it with Sudocrem every hour might stop me from getting an iron shaped scar!

Burn

Burn baby burn! Iron Inferno! (Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.)

On a slightly happier note, I did make a beanbag for the living room this week – I will do a post about it next week as I discovered it needed more beans than the tutorial said it did so I had to order some more! (Probably down to me not being able to follow simple instructions – but it still looks like a beanbag AND I did my very first ever zip so it’s all still good!)

I also discovered this week that I had reached my 100th Etsy sale, so after a bit of jumping about and smiling like a loon, I decided to put an offer on my Facebook page to say that to celebrate, the next order I got would get a free gift. And then moments later – I got order number 101! So that went off and will hopefully be received later today. I decided to keep that offer open for the rest of the weekend – so if anyone fancies a little free gift then why not pop on over!

Monster Sale

Order 101 complete with mystery free gift!

Plus if you’ve never ordered anything on Etsy before – why not take advantage of this fab little offer to get £5 (or the equivalent in your currency) off your first ever order! (The minimum order value is £10 – but you could order a few little things or one bigger thing if you fancied.) You don’t have to use it in my shop, but it might be nice to get £5 off and a free gift too!

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Pleased as punch!

Earlier in June I hosted a giveaway on my Facebook page and had a little blog post about it too. Dashwood Studio had a new range of fabric out in a fab fruit themed collection called Retro Orchard. I saw it and I knew that it would be the one I picked to make the cushion out of for the giveaway so snapped up two fat quarters straight away.

The giveaway was really popular – aimed at my page getting 300 likes. I’d been busy beavering away making more cushion covers before I noticed it had gone way over 300 so I decided to keep the competition open for a little while longer till that evening to give me some time to finish off my work and concentrate on compiling a list of entries and drawing a winner before Springwatch came on and I had my ‘Me and Chris Packham’ time.

A lovely winner was chosen and she is now happily enjoying cushiony things with it. Then this morning whilst having a little look at my blog stats I noticed that someone had visited my page via the Dashwood Studio blog… I curiously clicked on the link and was so pleased to see that they had been doing a little round up of blogs who had been making things using the new Retro Orchard collection and there was my cushion! So I did a little dance in my chair and have had a big grin on my face for about an hour.

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Why not check out the page – see some of the other lovely things people have been making! I ended up making a couple more of them which are in the shop here.

I didn’t do a vast amount of crafty stuff last week as I was busy with my other job – doing genealogy research. Today I plan to crack on with a few more bolster cushions. I have a load of fabric waiting to be transformed, and had spent a bit of time sitting with my creative consultant (aka husband) holding up crochet lace ribbon, velvet ribbon, rick rack etc up to the fabrics to get his opinion on what worked well with what. Sometimes you just need another set of eyes to take a look!

My plan to not order any more fabric for a while ended up going a bit awry when I saw that Plush Addict had a 20% off sale on Kona Solids until midnight tonight. So I picked up some more bits and pieces mainly for making up a pair of cushions where I have only just got one in stock as well as a couple of new ideas. But this is definitely the last one for a while!

 

Hold onto your hats – here comes a tutorial!

Say what??? Yes, me, doing a tutorial!

Yesterday I sat looking through my stash of ribbon and trim to think of what bits might go better with some fabric combinations I have for making some more rectangular bolster cushions. I’ve mainly been making a whole host of square ones lately while I was waiting for my last fabric order to arrive. (Last one for a while – sad.) Having found some great matching Kona solids to go with some bits I had that I thought would be good candidates I started on one as I knew I would be using the same colour green thread that was still in my sewing machine from having recently made another lime green cushion cover for a repeat customer.

As I started to measure the fabric out I thought to myself – Alex – you should take some photos while you go and providing it doesn’t turn into a shambles – you should do a tutorial on your blog about it. (Apart from the cat, I tend to be on my own most of the day so talking to myself is a pretty frequent occurrence.)

So here we go – I’ve had a fat quarter of this lovely Robert Kaufman Bermuda Birds fabric designed by Suzy Ultman as part of the Critter Community collection, for some time now. I had cut into it a few times to cut out some of the bird shapes as I made some padded keyrings out of them last year. But I found that the Kona Grass Green shade went perfectly with the green birds in the design and I knew I had plenty left over from a recent fabric order in order to make two cushions out of.

BirdsGreen

This tutorial is for making an envelope style cover to fit a 12″ x 18″ cushion pad. My pads are a bit more like 12″ x 17″ so I ended up sewing mine a little shorter at the ends so it didn’t look baggy! I made two of these at the same time so if you also want to make two – just double up on everything. Isn’t it always nice to have a matching pair?

The general rule is that if you are doing a cushion cover you want to cut out the fabric to the size of the cushion pad so that when is sewn up it is slightly smaller and therefore allows the cushion to be plump, rather than just sitting inside a pretty looking sack.

First of all measure out your fabric. For my bolster cushions I like to use a patterned fabric on one half of the front with a matching solid shade on the other half, with that same shade for the back. Depending on the pattern you choose you could decide to have more of that showing on the front or less, it’s totally up to you. As the birds pattern repeat is largish I wanted to make sure that I had a decent amount of it on the front to show it and be a feature, so I decided to allow 10 inches in length for this with some extra to allow for sewing it to the green fabric – usually about half an inch extra and 12 inches wide. And then cut out an 8 and a half inch long piece of the green for the front – 12 inches wide. For the back pieces you will need to allow for the full front measurement of the finished item (18″ long) and about 4/5inches extra to allow for the overlap closure. For mine I went with 4 inches – so in total 22″ long and 12″ wide- you will then want to cut this in half width ways.

If you are swishy you can use a cutting mat, a rotary cutter and have nice lovely straight lines. If you are like me, with a rotary cutter blade that decides to loosen every time you use it, then you might just opt to measure with tape and a ruler and mark out with tailors chalk and cut with fabric scissors!

Bird Cushion Tutorial 1

I then iron out all my pieces. I usually don’t put any water in my iron as we have really hard water here and using the steamer on it just gets it clogged with limescale and then that gets fired out all over stuff, so I have a nice thin duster that I always use – I soak it in cold water from the tap and wring it out and lay it over the fabric and give it a quick once over with the hot iron. I then take the duster off and go over with the iron again. It works a treat. I always iron both sides of my fabric – but if you are using a fabric that might not cope too well with this – then don’t!

Once ironed I pin up my hems for the back piece. I usually do half inch – fold once – iron, fold again, iron again and pin. I then also pin up my front pieces right sides facing ready to sew together. (Don’t forget that I am making two cushions here so there are four back pieces but if you are just making one then you will just have two!)

Bird Cushion Tutorial 2

Next it is time to sew the hems for the back pieces. I usually line mine up to the 15 (5/8) mark on my sewing machine seam guide as this is the perfect width. Then I put them to one side for later.

Then I sew up my front pieces having measured and put a line onto the back of the fabric and ironed a crease down it to be sure I am following a straight line with that extra half inch. Once done I press the seam flat front and back and then I am ready to pin on the trim I have chosen ready to hand sew it on.

Bird Cushion Tutorial 5Bird Cushion Tutorial 3

I decided on this lovely pale duck egg blue colour crochet lace ribbon by Tilda and picked a pale blue thread that wouldn’t show up to delicately sew it on – making sure I did stitches along each edge and the middle at regular intervals to make sure there were no bits that were unsecured and could get caught on things. I sat and watched some TV while I did this. You may choose to continue to sit at your designated sewing table, you may wish to do it sitting in bed. You might wish you hadn’t started but once it is done you will be pleased.

Bird Cushion Tutorial 4

So now that the front and back pieces have been all sewn up ready, it is time to pin them together right sides facing. I tend to check the hems of my back pieces to see which one looks the neatest and lay the best one down first as this will be the one you will see when it is finished.

Bird Cushion Tutorial 6

I then sew all the way round with a straight stitch – make sure the stitch length isn’t too small or your fabric will pucker, too long and you might get gaps in your seam which nobody wants. Make sure you backstitch at the end to keep the seam secure. I often go for the seam allowance measurement 20 (8/8) or 15 (5/8) on my sewing machine guide, for this one I went with 15. Once the seam is sewn I then do a zig-zag stitch down each edge stopping just short of the corners, securing each end with some straight stitch backstitch. This is to strengthen the seam, it is called serging. If you have a nice fancy machine like an overlocker you can overlock the edge, but if you are like me and don’t have all mod cons, then a zig-zag is fine. I then use pinking shears to trim the corners off – make sure you don’t cut through your stitches or you will be swearing and probably crying (if by some chance you do this, then you will need to re-sew.) Then trim away the excess fabric with the pinking shears to further protect the fabric as pinked edges fray less.

Bird Cushion Tutorial 7

Next the iron comes out again and I press it all while it is still inside out, and then turn it the right way out making sure I poke the corners out well so they look properly pointy and iron again. You will no doubt get bits of fabric fluff all over the place from the trimmed edges so use a good lint roller to get it off and voilà! You’re done – ready to put your cushion pad in and start doing cushion type things with it!

Bird Cushion Tutorial 8

I do enjoy it when it’s all done and I see the finished article, I like it when I know I’ve picked some good combinations of patterns, solids and embellishments and it all comes together to be something rather nice! So why not give it a go!

So the end result is now in my Etsy shop here.  (Both of them.)

Bermuda Bird Cushion 4

A milestone giveaway!

A while back I did a rather more seriously toned post about social media and its importance to small businesses like mine. At that point I had 195 likes on my Fudge & Poppy Facebook page. Since then I have been doing some furious networking in fits and bursts and now have over 250 likes which is fantastic. I decided it was time to do another giveaway – this time when the page reaches 300 likes I will be giving away this fab cushion I made this afternoon. Made using a brand new design from Dashwood Studios designed by Wendy Kendall called Retro Orchard. I love this fabric!

Giveaway Cushion 2Giveaway Cushion 4Giveaway Cushion 3Giveaway Cushion 5

The cushion is a wraparound envelope style and the winner gets it with the cushion pad too. The competition is open worldwide so why not give it a go? All you have to do is visit the Fudge & Poppy Facebook page, ‘Like‘ it (so I can get in touch with you if you win – and hopefully because you like my things!) and leave a comment under the competition post and tell your friends if you feel like it! If you don’t have Facebook and still want to enter – just ‘follow‘ my blog and leave a comment under this post and your name will be entered. Good luck! 

This giveaway is now closed and a winner has been selected and announced on Facebook. I’m sure I will be hosting more giveaways soon! Watch this space!

F&P Giveaway

 

 

The Family Button Tin

Back in 2012 when I first started to decide to give sewing another go, my Mum gave me something pretty special – the family button tin.

Button Tin

Ever since I was little I adored this tin. Full of interesting buttons of all colours, sizes, shapes, things that weren’t buttons at all. I love the patterns on it and whenever Mum had it out for anything I would tip them all out and look through them – hunting out my favourite ones before putting them all back again. Many years ago Mum had it out after a meal on the dining table and had tipped them all out, we decided that the best way to get them back in the tin was to flick them in like Tiddlywinks. A sublime hilarious chaos ensued as buttons flew everywhere, pinging off the window, the dresser, our faces… The hardest one was an oval wooden bead – its shape meant its flight path was pretty unpredictable. It was the last to end up back in the tin.

Button Tin Back

These days it is a little worse for wear, the design on the back is wearing away and the hinges aren’t so great, but it’s not doing too bad considering it was made in the 1930s. It was a biscuit tin originally – with CWS Biscuits is embossed on the bottom of it. Back when biscuit tins were a thing of beauty! It had belonged to my Dad’s maternal grandmother, then her daughter and then my Mum. The majority of the buttons in it were from the 1970s, perhaps when the tin actually started to be used for buttons. When I got it, I tipped them all out and sorted through them. I reminisced about my old favourite buttons and did my best to sort through them properly as I had other buttons and wanted to have them organised into colours to make it a bit easier if I wanted to find something. So these days the tin is mainly full of black and brown and the odd blue and green and white buttons with the rest residing in my soap drawer box and other nice little tins.

Button Tin Inside

Buttons

Maybe the tin will last to be passed down to someone else in the family. I hope so.