Saturday, 31 March 2012

Spring has Sprung

and the weeds has riz, so this is what I've been doing recently.


My allotment - a big (and perennial) WIP.  I gave up on the traditional rows of veg a while back and the most productive thing I ever did was to divide the allotment into a series of narrow strip beds with paths in between.  This made it easier to weed by hand and manage a better crop rotation (where you don't plant the same kind of veg in the same spot year after year, as it isn't healthy for the soil).  It wasn't very aesthetically pleasing though (fussy!) so I'm in the process of dividing the beds up further.  What I will lose in making more path, I hope to gain in beauty and better organisation (that's the plan anyway...)

Favourite thing here - my pond!  It was built using the smallest and cheapest hard plastic liner you can get and it's about 2 and a half feet long.  Despite this I came down last summer and found seven frogs peeping out of the water. This makes me very happy.



I'm so lucky to have an allotment - the waiting list for one here can be longer than seven years, depending on whether you are in the posh part of town or not. I've had my plot for several years now though you might not think so from the lack of visible perfection! I have learned to never get too smug about it - one year you think you have it magnificently under control and the next year weeds/weather/babies take over and back to nature it goes!

Despite the forecasted change in weather, we're still basking in glorious sunshine here and the feeling of things coming to life is wonderful.

Narcissus Thalia, Acer leaves unfurling, Sempervivums x 2, Variegated perennial wallflower, Sprouting peony Duchesse de Nemours

Hope you're having a lovely weekend.

PS: you might like to check out the fabric giveaway for followers over of Pings and Needles which I obviously hope to win:-)  I'd add at least some of this fabric to the quilt I've pledged to make for Siblings Together (you can find all the links to this charity quilt scheme in this post).   Patchwork Queen has already very generously offered to donate me some from her stash.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Reasons to be Cheerful 3

Who was that masked rabbit?

Rabbit does Nacho Libre
Superhero rabbit, by Sprog 1 using a found piece of felt.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Give Something Back at Lily's Quilts

Just in case you haven't yet seen it, there's a post at Lily's Quilts about the UK charity Siblings Together, which promotes positive contact between siblings in care, and the plan to make quilts for 50 children at a summer camp to bring home.  I've signed up to make a quilt - it's just a really great incentive to actually sew something. 

Even if you don't have time to make a quilt you can still join in by donating some fabric.  See the flickr group for more info.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Liebster

I'm very grateful and honoured to have been awarded a Liebster by Celtic Thistle Stitches - thank you!

The Leibster is awarded to and by blogs with less than 200 followers.  The name comes from the German word meaning darling or beloved and the award is really a chance for small blog bloggers to show their appreciation for their fellow bloggers by passing on the love. And it also means that you can draw some attention to blogs which you think deserve checking out.

I've duly copied and pasted the award onto my blog, and would in turn love to nominate the following bloggers whose blogs I really like and and hope you will visit if you haven't already. 

Kate at A Sometimes Quilter - who describes herself as diving into the world of quilting one square at a time - have a look at her neat Sew Happy Quilt QAL blogs and lovely baby quilts
Katie at  Shocking Hocking -  she's creative and artistic and her humorous blog often makes me smile
Amy at Thread Robin - her blog is full of thrifting and making - she's always up to something new

Monday, 19 March 2012

Fabric Mosaic Fun

Yay, I have a laptop of my own again, and finally it's all set up, files transferred, and I'm back in business....And it's so shiny:-)

I've been having such fun because there's a new fabric competition at I'm a Ginger Monkey to design a blogger bundle for Pink Castle Fabrics.   This is my entry - it's the Beach Party Bundle:


Fabrics are, from left to right:


Monday, 12 March 2012

We are experiencing technical difficulties

I'm having some technical problems by which I mean my husband knocked a cup of coffee off the arm of the sofa and into the power connector on my laptop.  My laptop is no more - it was totally fritzed.  Thank goodness for contents insurers who were so helpful I almost feel like doing an ad for them.

Until my new one arrives he has to go cold turkey from Civilisation IV every so often while I borrow his to catch up on blog reading and drooling over lovely craft shops online.  Susan at Canadian Abroad just posted about a new shop, The Village Haberdashery , and I almost wish she hadn't because I've already found at least twenty things I want to buy.  It sells a really interesting mix of fabrics, and 600 items in the floss, thread and yarn section, all really nicely photographed and totally desirable, so I will have to save up my pennies unless I am lucky enough to win the giveaway they are sponsoring (UK residents only)- details here.

If it weren't for the technical problems I would have posted a photo mosaic of the ten items I sewed over the weekend.  You will just have to take my word for it:-)
 

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Reasons to be Cheerful 2

While sprog 1 is recovering at home from one of those viruses that makes you feel suddenly exhausted, we have been entertaining ourselves by making her another pincushion. This one suddenly developed a personality and took a new direction of its own:


She is a bit of a whiskery old lady, but we love her!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Small Blog Meet

Once again, I'm linking up to Lily's Quilts Small Blog Meet, where I've already met some friendly bloggers with really nice blogs.  If you are visiting

HELLO and WELCOME!


Lily's Quilts

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

How to make a Fabric Origami Lotus Flower Pincushion

A couple of years or so ago I went to a Chinese lantern festival at our local Botanic Garden and learned how to make origami lotus flowers.  I wondered if I could make a fabric one and so I had a go.  My first attempt was a failure - I tried pressing the folds, but it fell open again!


My second attempt resulted in this:


and these:



I don't feel in any way qualified to offer a tutorial as such but I had a lot of fun making these and wanted to show how I did it!  If anything is unclear, please do let me know and I will try to show it better.  Suggestions about how to customise are at the end. (Sorry about the fingernails - printer's ink, it's impossible to get off....)

I used two 10inch squares of fabric (mine were different, yours could be the same: just remember one will hardly show),  a ten inch square of Bondaweb (Wonder Under), some stuffing, a marmite lid (vegemite if you insist:-), a circle of fabric about  3 times the diameter of the lid, and some embroidery thread.

Place your first piece of fabric on top of the rough (gluey) side of the Bondaweb and fuse by ironing it.





Peel away the paper backing and then place gluey side against the wrong side of your second fabric:


 Again fuse it by ironing it. Trim/square up if necessary: the result should look like this:


Now,  with your preferred fabric (if you have one) underneath, fold in half on the diagonal and press/iron, open then fold in half along the opposite diagonal and press again.  You have now marked the mid point of your square where the lines intersect:


Okay, now take one point and fold it into the middle.  Press in place.


Do the same thing with the next point:


and the remaining two.  You should end up with this.


Now do the same thing again.  Take a point, fold into the middle and press, like this:


and do the same with the other three, so that you have this:


So far so good.  Now turn it over.

Once again, take all the corners, one by one, and press them into the middle, like so:


And voila!


Right, now turn it over and have a quick look at the back.  Here's what it looks like: four little flaps.


Turn it back over again.  Now begins the only remotely fiddly part.  You're going to reach round the back and take hold of one of those little flaps by the centre point and ease it up towards the front.  Here it comes:


and a little bit more until it looks like this...




Don't pull it all the way!   Do the same with all the flaps.  Now it begins to look like a flower.


Look at the back again. You'll see another four flaps.


Turn it back over again and reach behind to get hold of those flaps and pull open like before. Here's the first.


Do the same with the other three and here is your lotus.


This is what you'll need now:


Cut your square of fabric into a circle, and sew a long running stitch all the way round, about half and inch in from the edge.  You can start to pull this lightly by both ends to gather in the circle.



Fill your marmite cap with as much wadding as you can cram in, and place upside down inside the circle.


Now pull your running stitch threads as tight as possible, trying to make the gathers even.


Tie the ends together and you'll have this.


Place inside your flower.


To fix this to the flower, take your embroidery thread up through the back, and over your cushion and repeat.


Repeat again.  You'll find it helps to catch the existing threads in a loop before continuing over.




....and again



Secure your threads at the back, and add your pins/stamens



If you drill a hole in your marmite cap first you can embellish your flower with a button.  Use a long needle to sew it on from the front right through to the back, and pull it tightly:



My daughter and I made this tiny one, which would make a nice brooch:



We used a milk bottle cap for the middle.  By the way, I used a lid or cap because this helps to give some rigidity, makes a good round pad, and stops the points of the needles poking out.  You could, perhaps, use a circle of cardboard instead.

Further details, tweaking and embellishing:

The two bigger pincushions are made of quilters cotton (Amy Butler, I think). The tiny blue one is made of 1970s polycotton which was a little easier to fold.

You will find that making a tiny stitch through each of the folds helps the flower to keep its shape. (I didn't bother...)

Stuffing: I had an old synthetic pillow that had gone lumpy. I put it through the wash, cut one of the corners off, and we have been raiding the innards for stuffing for various projects.

You could try one colour of fabric, fussy cut the fabric for the centre pad, and jazz up by adding beads for example.

If you find ways of improving this - and I'm sure you will,  please do let me know and I'll add them to these instructions with full credit.  If you use this to make something and post pictures, please do link back to my post. Thank you!
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