Researching and Catching Up

Wow.  Where did that time go?  I’ve finally found my way back to my website to update a little.

Thanks to my wonderful friends and family, Christmas and birthday saw me all kitted out for a year of creativity.  I received some great presents including books (Making Cushion Covers by Debbie Shore and Prints by Heather Ross) and beautiful fabric, some of which was designed by my husband and printed by Spoonflower.

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Christmas and birthday pressies

I was itching to get going.  Then, head brimming with ideas, I did my usual trick of getting stuck at the research stage.

So my resolution to write at least one blog post a month went to pot, even though I seemed to be spending an eternity on the laptop. This time it wasn’t trawling through pages of gorgeous printed fabric that was distracting me.  It was researching other things. As usual, small ideas became quite complex as I entered the world of Google, and the simple task of ordering a few bits and bobs became quite an ordeal, albeit interesting.

Here is a list of some of the things I was researching:

  • Stuffing for soft toys (something a little more organic please than that wretched polyester stuff you get in bags at craft shops)
  • Absorbent and soft fabrics to use for bibs which would make life that little bit more comfortable for babies with their oh so sensitive skin
  • Softer than soft fabrics for baby/toddler blankets and comforters.

All of these things needed to be researched and ordered before I could get on and ‘make’ – one of the frustrating necessities of this game!  I will share what I found in future posts.  But for now, suffice to say I did find more or less what I was looking for.

Once the fabric and stuffing had arrived (yay!) I got busy with making:  a selection of baby comforters, baby/toddler blankets, bibs and tabard style wipe clean aprons.  Then came more little softies; some seasonal Snuggle Chicks and, a new line for the Tinny Tinies range, Sleepy Sheep.

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 I have since held a stall at two more craft fayres – Over the Moon Baby and Toddler Fayre at Shoreham, and MArKEt at The Old Palace in Tarring, Worthing.  Both events were very enjoyable and I met plenty of interesting and like-minded people.  Now I just need to get myself booked in for some more events.

I’ve also been spending time getting myself set up with a Facebook page and keeping my Etsy shop well stocked.  So much to do but all good fun!  So all in all pretty busy.  Thanks for reading.  Will be back with more soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tis the season to be jolly

HOORAY!!!!!  I have a local shop stocking my stuff!  A great booster for the end of the year.  It’s a  lovely little boutique called Baby Steps Boutique.  The boutique has only recently opened and stocks both pre-loved and new products for babies and young children.  The shop has been beautifully set up and has a good variety of clothes, toys, blankets, and other gifts and requirements  – a good place to shop if you know a new baby who has an older sibling needing some attention too.  Pop in if you’re local and have a browse.

Backtracking a little to the beginning of the season, the craft fayre at Broadwater Manor School in Worthing was a very enjoyable one.  There was a good variety of interesting stalls to kick off the festive season and the atmosphere was buzzing with early Christmas shoppers.  The stallholders were a mixture of staff, parents of children at the school and other members of the public who had heard about the fayre along the grapevine.

The day at Bartie’s Boutique in Worthing was also very festive.  Not as busy as expected so close to Christmas (15th December) but maybe the serious shoppers had already done their shopping and the rest were beelining for the pre Christmas High Street bargains.  Still quite a successful day for me with people buying a bit of everything for stocking fillers and gifts.

The EleFriends have been the thing that have really taken up most of my time. They have sold really well at craft fayres and I have been lucky enough to have had loads of orders through Etsy. People seem to appreciate the nostalgia attached to the idea of tucking a favourite toy up cosily before you snuggle down yourself.  I have found that most adults who buy them aren’t afraid to admit they’d secretly like one for themselves!  To keep stocks up for the Bartie’s sale I found myself in the company of EleFriends most evenings in the lead up to Christmas.

So what now?  I’m currently working on a raccoon which has been requested by a customer in Spain… fingers crossed it will turn out ok!  And I have some beautiful new fabric that I am itching to get started on.  Plenty to keep me out of mischief in the the New Year.

 

 

 

 

Bags

These are some little bags I made earlier on in the year. I managed to sell some at a craft fayre back in March and these are the three remaining.   I don’t have any photos of how I made them but they’re fully lined and pretty hard wearing.  Only small but just right for little ones to put their little treasures in.

Restocking with more cushions

I managed to get a few pictures of the process this time.  I actually bought this fabric to make a padded seat on top of a toy box but couldn’t resist the opportunity of having a few robots in my cushion collection.

First I cut out a 17″ square of the front fabric and a 17″x22″  rectangle of the back fabric.  I then cut the rectangle of back fabric in half to make two smaller rectangles, each 17″x11″.

The first sewing to be done was the all important zigzag stitch around all the edges to prevent fraying.

I then double folded and pressed one of the long sides of each rectangular piece of fabric before stitching…and then I stitched!

After all this preparation it was simply a matter of pinning the fabric together and sewing.  I placed the front piece of material face up and the back pieces on top, face down and overlapping at the centre.  I pinned this and then sewed all the way around the edges before turning the cushion the right way round.

The label was pinned inside at this point too and sewn into the seam.

I made 2 buttonholes on the outside flap of the back of the cover, measuring from the centre outwards.

 

Then the buttons went on the inside flap of the back cover before putting in the cushion pad and buttoning up.

 

One finished cushion!

And here are the others that followed.

Woodland critters

Spot the narwhal

 

 

Multicoloured monkeys

 

Bears walking in the woods

Tinny Tinies – Elefriends

Inspiration comes when you least expect it.  I was clearing out the kitchen cupboards (worst job in the world when you’re doing it, but always so satisfying once it’s done) and I came across some old paper napkins from my son’s first birthday.  They had a pattern of individual jungle animals on them and it struck me how cute the elephant was. Just right for a new Tinny Tinies collection!

I was keen to get started, so needless to say the kitchen cupboards were left less than dazzling and I ended up making a mess elsewhere instead, pulling out bits of fabric that might be suitable for the job.

I started as usual by sketching a pattern onto paper and cutting it out, allowing for a seam, then pinned the paper pattern onto the fabric and cut out the basic shape.

The pattern

I wanted the ears to be in a contrasting fabric so I decided to do lots of elephants in one go, cutting out the body shape and the ears in the same colour with the intention of mixing and matching later on.

Selection process

After what turned out to be a somewhat lengthy selection process pf pairing up the ears and bodies I was ready to start.  First I machine stitched around the main body, leaving the bottom edge open for turning and stuffing.  I also machine stitched around the curve of the ears, leaving the straight edge open for turning.

Main body stitched, turned and stuffed and eyes sewn on

I stitched on the eyes before stuffing and stitching the elephant closed.  That way any knots could stay inside the body of the elephant.  I used the tiniest beads I could find.

Beady eyes

At some point before stitching the elephant closed it was necessary to give him a little tail.    I found the best way of doing this was simply by tying a knot in some embroidery thread, threading it through from the inside out using a needle and then tying a knot at the end of the elephant’s tail, snipping off the excess.

Tail made of thread and knots

The rest was done by hand, whip stitch all the way.  The ears were the last to go on, making the little fellow feel like a proper little elephant at last.

One completed Elefriend

The whole herd

Being a Tinny Tiny, each and every one of these little elephants was entitled to a bed.  I decided to go one step further this time and make a sleeping bag instead of a blanket.

Sleeping bag

What do you think my little Elefriend? A nice, snug fit?  Zzzzzzz.

Trying out the sleeping bag

Finally into the minty Altoids tin, with sleeping bag and pillow.  Ready for the next sleepover or camping trip.

Will you take me with you?

 

 

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Cushions

Hooray!  I’ve reached the stage where my cushions are selling so I thought I’d better get a post up about them quickly, more to have a record of what I’ve made rather than how I made them.

I have to say I do love a nice cushion. A huge comfort at the end of a long day, particularly when accompanied with a nice hot cup of tea and, dare I say it, a generous slice of something sweet.

The beauty of sewing things yourself is that choice becomes infinite. It gives you a chance to adorn your home with whichever colours, patterns or prints you desire.  Of course, it made perfect sense to make a few cushions.  What better use for that lovely fabric that I could hardly bear to cut?!

I wanted to make cushions with removable covers – for two reasons.  Firstly, for the more obvious reason of being able to wash the covers and secondly, for ease of posting if I were to sell one in my Etsy shop.

There are many different ways of making a cushion cover – opening at the side, opening at the centre, with zip, without zip, envelope style, with buttons, velcro, with piping or other edging or without…the list is endless.  I had recently discovered the buttonhole foot on my machine – an amazing little piece of equipment!- so finally decided on envelope style with centre opening and wooden buttons to fasten.

I don’t have any photos of how I actually made the cushions but will take some when I make my next lot and put them up on a later post.  Here are some pictures of the ones I have made so far.

 

 

Getting out there

Just had a really successful sale at Bartie’s Boutique in Worthing.  It would seem that some people are out there buying for Christmas already!  Lovely venue, great atmosphere and best of all an in-house cafe so tea was on tap.

Cushions, bagged nick nacks and Elefriends were the items in demand.  The only trouble is my Etsy shop now needs restocking and I have another craft fair at Broadwater Manor School  on 17th November*.  Better get sewing again!

* The start time for this event has been changed.  The fair will now run from 12.00 pm until 4.00 pm.

Toys

I’m finding myself being drawn to making toys again so thought I’d put up pics of some of the little fellows I’ve made in the past.  A mixture of knitted, crocheted and sewn, they pop up around the house now and again.

My Nana taught me how to knit and crochet when I was a child.  I didn’t keep it up beyond my teens but was inspired to rekindle my relationship with wool whilst on honeymoon in Iceland.  So I bought a crochet hook and with the help of You Tube managed to make a frog and a Santa.  Then I was indeed hooked, made a few more animals and extended it to knitting, this time with the help of a lovely book by Laura Long.

I don’t do much knitting or crochet at the moment – the sewing machine seems to have taken over – but maybe I’ll pick up those needles again during the winter months.

 

Aprons

Those fun floury moments when baking with a toddler can become quite frequent.  We needed aprons!  Another excuse to get the sewing machine out.

I found some cotton canvas with an adorable elephant print which would be great for the project.

Pinning pattern to fabric

Ready to sew

After cutting out the fabric I stitched all around the edges to prevent fraying.  The preparation took some time but it was worth it for peace of mind that the apron won’t all fall to pieces.  Every edge was double folded and pressed before stitching.

Zigzag stitching around edges

Additional extras were a small strip of fabric along the top edge of the apron for practical, reinforcement purposes and a little pocket, purely for keeping all kinds of treasures safe.

Reinforcement

Pocket

The neck strap was sewn in with the reinforcement strip and the ties with the sides of the apron.  The pocket was added last of all with the label being sewn in at the same time.

Label – finishing touch!

The finished apron

The trouble with this apron, as I find with all aprons, was that the neck strap was just that little bit too long, resulting in a gaping front.  I wanted to keep the longer strap though as it was comfortable to put the apron on.  No child appreciates something tight being pulled over their head and having their noses squished in the process!  What it needed was a popper, otherwise known as a snap fastener.  Then once the apron was on comfortably, the top half could be lifted to allow a better fit.

I did consider using a D-ring but although D rings are fully adjustable, in my experience they tend to slip and need constant readjustment.  Not always that practical with floury or gooey hands.  The snap fastener on the other hand takes one pop and stays firmly in place.   So I invested in a great little gadget (another one of those things that you just never knew existed until you need one) and here is the result.

I then discovered more beautiful medium weight fabrics that I just had to buy.  As a result I have plenty of aprons to sell or to give away as presents.

     

 

Tinny Tinies

Every child likes to have a tiny friend who they can put to bed at night and wake up in the morning.  I’ve seen miniatures housed in matchboxes before but wanted something a bit more long lasting than cardboard.  Everyone knows how quickly those shiny new games boxes get demolished once they’ve been opened at Christmas! I was inspired by ‘wee mouse tin house’ on mmmcrafts.blogspot.com. What better than a mint tin to start off with? Thank you mmmcrafts for that top tip!  After a little wash and plenty of airing out the tin was ready.  Now all I needed to do was make a tiny friend and turn the tin into a cosy bed.

After a lot of indecision about what type of friend to make, Billy Bear was created.  I settled on a bear because bears are always a good place to start.  Quite simply, a classic.  I used  soft 100% brushed cotton for the main body and felt for his paws and ears. I stitched around the edges of the paws and ears for definition.

Then, with right sides facing and paws and ears in place, I stitched around the whole bear making sure to leave a gap for turning and stuffing.  Once turned I stuffed the bear with toy stuffing and then whip stitched the opening closed.  I used French knots for the eyes and nose, stitching the mouth on last of all…and Billy Bear was born!

Billy Bear at his beach hut.

Time to make Billy Bear a bed!  I got a small, rectangular piece of cotton fabric and made that into a pillow by stitching around three edges with right sides together, turning and stuffing with toy stuffing. I whip stitched the opening closed.

 

For the blanket I took a small, rectangular piece of fleece and stitched a zigzag pattern around the edges, providing both decoration and protection from fraying (thanks again to mmmcrafts.blogspot.com).

 

 

Time for bed Billy Bear…

Hopefully there will be more tinny tinies to come soon.

Snuggle up Billy Bear.

 

Lights out!