Santa Claus is coming to town…!

Such a wet, grey day seems perfect to do some quilting. All snugly on the sofa (half) watching slushy movies, toasty under the quilt as I work on it (with an eye out for muddy pawed cats!). Here is a sneak preview:

Moda 'Winter's Lane' quilt
Moda ‘Winter’s Lane’ quilt

I have also been making good use of some of the Christmas buttons I found. Sometimes I just ‘see’ things in my mind and it is such a joy when they work out as I imagined.

Rudolph won't you lead my sleigh tonight
Rudolph won’t you lead my sleigh tonight
Santa's coming to town zip pouch
Santa’s coming to town zip pouch

The reverse of the wash bag was just right for a left over Halloween button.

black cat button
black cat button
cat on a cold tile roof
cat on a cold tile roof

However, all this Christmas sewing is taking it’s toll – and just to make sure the old bah hum bug doesn’t surface from all this festive overload so early in the year, I decided to make a Spring apron, with a big white flower and a flower pot pocket – perfect for any young gardener.

apron for young gardener
apron for young gardener

Oh and one last thing….

Happy birthday for Monday Mum…see you for lunch on Sunday!

Mum...a few years ago.
Mum…a few years ago.

wingardium leviosa!

I have been having a Harry Potter hour or two. On Saturday, pottering (sorry!) around Toppings book shop in Bath I had a flash of inspiration about a book book-bag which, by the time Alison got there, had developed in to a Harry Potter book in the middle of a shelf of classics, with a little magic escaping from the Harry Potter book. I put it together and am chuffed to bits it turned out just as I imagined it! What do you think?

Harry Potter book bag
Harry Potter book bag

there's magic in them there books!

Harry Potter and the classics
Harry Potter and the classics

 

bags of bags

The zipper pouch bags seem to be a bit of a hit and are selling fast, so I thought I had better make a few more…now in my shop http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/DeereyMe

I love bees – do my best to plant my garden to attract them and am forever taking photos of them – so when I saw this bee fabric in Country Threads in Bath I just couldn’t resist. The bag seemed to be calling out for a daisy and I remembered a tutorial I pinned on Pinterest and made my first Kanzashi flower; certainly not my last as they are so much fun to make!

bee garden pouch with kanzashi daisy
bee garden zipper pouch bag

 

Years back I treated myself to a bundle of seaside fabrics and you know how it is, some fabrics are so pretty it seems a shame to cut in to them, but finally I decided that this one needed to fulfill its destiny. I love it…and have enough to make another one.

large seaside zipper pouch bag
large seaside zipper pouch bag

I made a pincushion as a gift with some of this cute Westie fabric but had some left and thought it would make a nice little bag for a dog lover, and was the perfect opportunity to use one of the dog buttons I stumbled across.

Westie dog zipper pouch with shaggy dog zip pull
button detail

Now the new bags have been added to the shop I had better get on with some more sewing – a contemporary apron and then I need to get out the fabric paints to create a couple of Beauty and the Beast panels…eh Karin? Mark has a day off so I might finish early today and get him to help me pick crab apples – the jams and jelly season is with us, and spiced crab apple jelly is my favourite!

the bag lady

I spent last week working on zipper pouch designs – I now have patterns for pretty much every size of zip, and am getting faster, and what’s more I am starting to get orders…yay! So without further ado, let the bag parade begin!

First off let me introduce this burnt orange dupion silk number sporting a silk pansy embellishment and faceted, light-catching zip pull. I love this Autumnal colour – and it took some stiff upper lip to cut in to the fabric.

dupion silk zipper pouch with pansy detail
dupion silk zipper pouch with pansy detail

 

Next, modelling the season’s butterfly theme, we have a pretty little blue and cream number. I have a love of all things bugly and couldn’t resist this fabric – all the more so for the glittery gold highlights!

When Irene was visiting she bought me the most lovely teapot earrings (teapots are a big thing in my life), and I set out to source the lovely little teapot charms to use in some of my work and, serendipitously, I still had left some of the teapot/teacup fabric I once used to make a lavender heart for Irene, so the fabric and charm came together to make an afternoon tea bag!

It was my sister’s birthday yesterday and I wanted to make her something special, so used some lovely coastal village print cotton in grey and white and made a larger zipper pouch bag, with wadding rather than interfacing, to give it a cuddly quality. Rather stupidly I forgot to take a photo of the soft shopper tote I made from a mixture of this fabric and a grey/blue tartan (lined with part of my sister’s old duvet cover actually – I like to recycle fabric where I can), which I folded up and put inside the zipper bag.

IMGP7763 IMGP7764

I spotted this frame for a small coin purse at Sew n Sew at the Bath Guildhall Market and decided to give it a go. I was a little disappointed that the ‘pattern’ that came with the frame was a line 8.5cm long with instructions to add whatever you want below it…gee thanks!…but it didn’t turn out too badly. A little froufrou for my taste, but enough fun for me to seek out sleeker, square frames on eBay to try some more.

framed coin purse in crushed velvet
framed coin purse in crushed velvet

 

Friends and family are great at donating odds and ends of fabric they find hidden in their lofts and cupboards, and this lovely oriental style fabric, despite fraying like mad, worked beautifully for bag making. I am going to make some envelope clutch bags with it too.

I bought some sale fabrics from the Village Haberdashery and this Laura Gunn garden wall fabric is even more lovely in the flesh than it looked on the website – no wonder they only had one skinny quarter left! A very dear and clever friend (Karin that’s you!) asked whether I could add wrist straps to my zipper pouches…fab idea! I will be doing this on more bags…

Now my corners are sharp and my bottoms are flat and my zips are a joy to insert, I want to unleash my imagination. When I went on a small business finance course at City of Bath College (highly recommend it if you are local), we were asked what our USP (unique selling point) is. The group laughed when I said it was that I am untrained, but I explained that it means I am also untethered. If you know exactly how something should be done, I think it is quite difficult to give your imagination free rein. Of course it means a bright idea can take quite a bit of working out and practice, but hopefully the result will be uniquely quirky. So now I have the basics sorted, I want to try some more adventurous bags…I have an image in my head of a cloud bag with raindrop fringing, and a double-decker London bus bag, and a dragon, and fish, and….oh the possibilities are endless!

Of course woman cannot live on bags alone, and there have been other creations in the week. Ellen Mouse, fully CE marked, is now in my shop – modelling a white brushed cotton top and reversible pinafore.

A scalloped edge blue felt rose brooch with gold-speckled blue bead centre…for blue days. I love my scalloped edge pinking shears!

felt rose brooch
felt rose brooch

And finally, inspired by talented Rebecca Bourne, I decided to make my sister’s birthday card, to match the coastal village fabric I used for her bag. For a first attempt at sewing pictures in a non-applique sort of way, I was quite chuffed. Mind you, they aren’t kidding when they suggest using an embroidery hoop when free motion sewing – I do like the non-square cartoon-like quality of the beach huts, but not the little gathers in the fabric. Next time I will use the hoop, after all it’s not like I don’t have half a dozen of them sitting on my shelves already!

beach hut free-motion sewn card
beach hut free-motion sewn card

 

Of course all work and no play makes Sue a dull girl, so Mark and I had an outing yesterday to Westonbirt Arboretum’s tree fest. We resisted the swing seats and hand-carved mirrors and tables with tree root legs and the little wooden house, but – again with Irene in mind – Mark bought me a tea cup birdfeeder (and a trug so I can be a proper gardener).

teacup bird feeder
teacup bird feeder

If you would like to see more photos of the Treefest, have a look at Deere Diary:

 

wooden t-rex skull at Treefest
wooden t-rex skull at Treefest

Frida Kahlo, fabric stash and kilner jar pincushions

Frida Kahlo

A little while back I stumbled upon a little online shop called Viva La Frida that sells wonderful Mexican print oilcloth along with Mexican folk art bits and pieces. The colours and patterns all but throw themselves at you and, just as the wand chooses the wizard, I believe the fabric chooses the project and a bag of Viva La Frida remnants all but shouted at me “bunting and bags!”

Oilcloth is an odd thing to work with. Firstly pins mark forever, so I always use clips to hold it in place and, secondly, the vinyl side tends to be reluctant to feed through the sewing machine, so it is quicker and easier and results in far less swearing if you sew through tissue paper both sides of the oilcloth. Actually the nice people at Viva la Frida provide some hints and tips for working with oilcloth.

the sky blue-pink side
the sky blue-pink side
front pocket
front pocket
tote - the green side
tote – the green side
red and green Mexicana tote bag
red and green Mexicana tote bag

The nice lady down the road let me hang the bunting on her front fence to photograph it; she doesn’t even seem surprised by my strange requests these days!

bunting
bunting
Mexicana oilcloth bunting
Mexicana oilcloth bunting
bunting close-up
bunting close-up

fabric stash

For years I have sorted my fabric stash by colour – the quilter in me, no doubt – but you know these days it’s just not the most useful arrangement. So today I did a stock take and arranged the fabric by type of material and pattern:

luxury fabrics:

  • silks
  • velvets
  • glittery stuff

cottons:

  • plain and background patterns
  • arty patterns
  • animal themed prints
  • seaside prints
  • Christmas and Winter prints
  • other themed prints

Utility fabrics:

  • calico
  • sheeting
  • ticking
  • cotton drill

Not only can I now find exactly what I am looking for but I have reminded myself of what fabrics I have and that has refueled my enthusiasm to make a load more things.

fabric stash
fabric stash
fabric by pattern
fabric by pattern
neatly sorted fabric stash
neatly sorted fabric stash

Kilner jar pincushions with sewing kits

Finding I had so much silk and velvet, I put a piece of shot purple/blue silk to good use by adding a pincushion to the lid of a kilner jar. I made one a few months back and now both are in my shop. I have added a simple sewing kit to each jar – I particularly like the vintage style embroidery scissors.

kilner jar pincushion and sewing kit
kilner jar pincushion and sewing kit
kilner jar pincushion and sewing kit #2
kilner jar pincushion and sewing kit #2
sewing kit #1
sewing kit #1
sewing kit #2
sewing kit #2

 

In other news…

After much searching I have found a fabric supplier who also provides details of EN71 compliance, which means that once the fabric arrives I can carry out the CE certification testing on the new fabrics and start making and (hopefully) selling Ellen Mouse!! There are some limitations – no plain brown fabric, so no Freja Mouse production line, and they will all have to have the same pink inside ear fabric, but I am looking forward to getting back to sewing mice. We have visitors next week, so I won’t be sewing (although I may be picking my friend’s brain for crochet help), but soon Ellen Mouse will be back!

 

And finally…

Don’t forget I will be making the draw for the lavender heart tomorrow morning! Just comment or like here or on my facebook page.

Liberty print lavender heart
Liberty print lavender heart

follow the yellow brick road…

Many years ago I stumbled upon some rather gorgeous Wizard of Oz fabric. Having a somewhat dubious sense of humour, I decided it would be funny to make a Dorothy dorothy bag…

Wiktionary: dorothy bag – a woman’s handbag gathered at the top by a drawstring whose loops are used as a handle; traditionally used by bridesmaids to carry confetti

I mentioned this idea to my friend and her daughter, Maddie, suggested it would be even more fun to make a pair of ruby slippers to go in the bag! Brilliant!

I made the slippers first to make sure they would fit in the bag and am now hooked on making slippers. I never made them before, but I think I can safely say I will never again buy a pair of slippers!

I found some lovely stretchy sparkly red fabric for the top, used the ruby slipper fabric for the lining, padded them with some thick cotton wadding and finished them with my favourite glitter ribbon.

handmade ruby slippers
handmade ruby slippers

The bag is also lined with the ruby slippers print fabric and uses two fabric designs for the outside, with purple trim. Simply quilted and finished with white ribbon, it is done…I can’t believe it took me so many years to get round to it!

Dorothy dorothy bag
Dorothy dorothy bag

I may be the only person in the world amused by such silliness, but I really enjoyed my work yesterday! (actually I enjoy it every day)

 

 

 

finishing touches

I decided my bags and purses needed a little extra je ne sais quoi and ordered these fab little labels from Able Labels. I am very happy with themand will be stitching them in to everything from now on.

 

seaside shopper

I received them very quickly, but had already made this little seaside shopping bag…what is it about bunting that is so irresistable? I want to put miniature bunting on everything now!

seaside shopper
seaside shopper

 

greetings cards

Although I plan to mainly fill my Etsy shop (which I hope to open the week after next!) with sewn goodies, I also decided to get a few of my photos printed up as cards…here’s a few and I will put some more in the photos gallery.

seaside/countryside
seaside/countryside
birds
birds
bees
bees
butterflies
butterflies

 

strawberry gin

The strawberry gin is ready! I don’t quite understand how 70cl of gin, when left to stand with sugar and strawberries can now fill two 35cl bottles and still have enough left over to fill another small jar plus a good measure for the cook. I guess the strawberries must just have been very juicy.

I did find myself pinching the leftover gin-soaked strawberries as I cooked (mushroom and stilton pie) until I realised I was fast becoming a gin-soaked strawberry blonde!

gin-soaked strawberry blonde
gin-soaked strawberry blonde
strawberry gin
strawberry gin

 

and finally…

Last Saturday was the Flavours of the South West food festival in Bath and my cake won the WI Queen of Cakes title! It was a bit of a rush tracing the logo and filling it out with melted chocolate, and I managed to squish the icing while transporting it – I even forgot to take a photo (this was one the ladies (wo)manning the table took). I didn’t know there was a competition, but it’s very nice to win!

Bath WI cake
Bath WI cake

 

 

 

 

 

 

a patchwork book bag in three…five…well a few easy steps

tutorial

Bear with me here; I am not used to teaching. I am assuming little knowledge, but if I am teaching my grandmother to suck eggs, as they say, let me know and I will step it up a notch.

I do not believe in rules. I am not one for doing what I am told. If a recipe calls for lemons, I am likely to use limes or oranges…because what do they know? I think the great thing about sewing is that you can read books and blogs and go on courses and then ignore a chunk of it (or all of it) and just do what you want to do. So just consider this an idea to play with as you will.

You can use this approach with whatever fabric you have to hand and you don’t have to use any patchwork, just skip the first few steps and use one oblong of fabric for the outside and another for the inside. For mine I have used quilting fabric  – a pack of pre-cut 15cm squares (which some may call cheating, but as I said, I don’t believe in rules, so how can it be cheating?) – which is a light weight cotton. This means the bag is very light and easy to fold up and pop in your handbag. However, it works well with heavier fabric too (old curtains are my favourite), which makes it stronger; you may need to experiment with sewing machine tension and stitch length. I am not going to try to cover using a sewing machine – just look at the handbook, google any problems and perhaps find a blog written by someone with more technical know how than me.

Ingredients Materials: 8 x 15cm (6inch) squares of cotton fabric (wash it first in case it shrinks), matching thread (or contrasting for the top stitching, if you prefer), 3 x 15cm (6inch) square border fabric and cut each border fabric square in half, two strips of border fabric each 3cm x 72cm (1.25inch x 28.5inch), lining fabric approx 30cm x 72cm (12inch x 28.5inch)*, 2 strips border fabric and 2 strips lining fabric each 5cm x 71cm (2inch x 28inch)

* wait until you have completed the outside layer of the bag as you can use it as a template to make sure the lining is the right size.

Unless otherwise stated, I use approximately 0.7cm seam allowance. This is the equivalent of 0.25inch and on my sewing machine (and I think most machines) is what you get when the edge of the fabric runs along the edge of the standard sewing foot, so is just a convenient allowance.

1) arrange the patchwork squares and border fabric half squares with border fabric at the top, in the middle and at the bottom
1) arrange the patchwork squares and border fabric half squares with border fabric at the top, in the middle and at the bottom
2) Place two half squares of border fabric right together and do a straight stitch along one of the short edges, press the seam open. Repeat with each pair of squares or half squares.
2) Place two half squares of border fabric right sides together and do a straight stitch along one of the short edges, press the seam open. Repeat with each pair of squares or half squares.
3) Take each pair of squares/half squares in the order you arranged, place right sides together, pin and sew along the long side. Pins should always be perpendicular to the line you are sewing so you can sew over the top of them).
3) Take each pair of squares/half squares in the order you arranged, place right sides together, pin and sew along the long side. Pins should always be perpendicular to the line you are sewing so you can sew over the top of them.
4) Press open seams before adding the next row.
4) Press open seams before adding the next row.
5) pin the strips of border fabric, right sides together, to each side of the panel of fabric squares. Sew in place.
5) pin the strips of border fabric, right sides together, to each side of the panel of fabric squares. Sew in place.
6) Use the completed panel of fabric as a template to cut the lining fabric. Fold the panel of fabric for the outside of the bag in half, matching the centre seam as closely as you can (I put a pin in the middle seam just to keep it aligned). pin the two side seams and sew. Fix the thread ends at the bottom of the bag by using the oversew option, turning it around and sew a short distance, retracing the original stitching or just tie the two ends together.
6) Use the completed panel of fabric as a template to cut the lining fabric. Fold the panel of fabric for the outside of the bag in half, matching the centre seam as closely as you can (I put a pin in the middle seam just to keep it aligned). pin the two side seams and sew. Fix the thread ends at the bottom of the bag by using the oversew option, turning it around and sewing a short distance to retrace the original stitching or just tie the two ends of thread together.
7) Fold the lining fabric in half, right sides together, pin the two sides and sew. Press the seam allowance back.
7) Fold the lining fabric in half, right sides together, pin the two sides and sew. Press the seam allowance back. (As the pattern on my lining fabric had a particular direction, I added a double seam allowance, cut the oblong in half and turned one half around so the pattern was in the same direction when you looked inside the finished bag, and then sewed the bottom as well as the sides).
8) Turn the outside of the bag the right way out and push out the corners (a chop stick works well). Place the lining inside the outer bag and push it in to the bottom of the bag with your handy chop stick. I then pin the bottom to stop it moving. Fold in the top of the outer bag - I use the depth of the bottom border plus a bit, but go with what you like the look of.
8) Turn the outside of the bag the right way out and push out the corners (a chop stick works well). Place the lining inside the outer bag and push it in to the bottom of the bag with your handy chop stick. I then pin the bottom to stop it moving. Fold in the top of the outer bag – I use the depth of the bottom border plus a bit, but go with what you like the look of.
9) Fold in the lining so it is just short of the top of the outer bag.
9) Fold in the lining so it is just short of the folded top of the outer bag.
10) Make the handles: for each strip of fabric fold over the long edges so the meet in the middle (right side on the outside) and press. Pin each lining fabric strip to a border fabric strip and top stitch close to each of the four edges (you can see the stitching in picture 11). These handles are long enough to go over your shoulder, but just make them shorter if you prefer to hold the bag in your hand.
10) Make the handles: for each strip of fabric fold over the long edges so they meet in the middle (right side on the outside) and press. Pin each lining fabric strip to a border fabric strip and top stitch close to each of the four edges (you can see the stitching in picture 11). These handles are long enough to go over your shoulder, but just make them shorter if you prefer to hold the bag in your hand.
11) Insert the handles between the lining and outer bag with about 2.5cm below the folded edge of the lining. Tops stitch close to the folded edge of the lining and then, for strength, do a second parallel row of top stitching a little below it.
11) Insert the handles between the lining and outer bag about 5cm from the side edge and with about 2.5cm of handle below the folded edge of the lining. Top stitch close to the folded edge of the lining and then, for strength, do a second parallel row of top stitching a little below it.
12) Remove the pins and press the bag...ta da!
12) Remove the pins and press the bag…ta da!

I like to finish the bag with a ribbon rose brooch, but that is for another day….

ribbon rose brooch
ribbon rose brooch

scrappy patchwork bag

I have carried on experimenting with patchwork bags. I really like this rich purple fabric and the way it makes the bright patchwork squares pop. I made it bigger and think it’s like the three bears’ chairs…baby bear’s was too small and now daddy bear’s is a bit too big, will see if mummy bear’s is just right.

patchwork bag with purple border
patchwork bag with purple border

I used a contrasting turquoise thread, as I love the colour against the purple.

patchwork brights
patchwork brights

The rose is made from wide ribbon and is attached to a brooch clasp, so it can be detached from the bag and worn on a jacket.

patchwork bag detail
patchwork bag detail

I will photograph the steps next time I make a patchwork bag like this and share it here as a tutorial.