Thursday, 15 November 2018

The Smile Trousers

I've been listening to some sewing podcasts lately and people often comment that they love blogging because they can share in more detail about what they made and how they made it, both for their own memory and to help others who might be making the same pattern. I thought I would give it another go since I made possibly my favourite thing yet in the form of some trousers for Sam!

I bought some leggings for World Book Day and one of the pairs in the pack was bright yellow, with smiles and rainbows on it. Sam LOVED them and wore them every time they were clean, until they started to look like tights around his big nappy bum and developed a few holes. I had to hide them and tell him they were "broken" to get them out of circulation.

I had some old black joggers that I bought from Primark and had steadily shrunk so that they were now ankle-grazers... Not the look I was going for.

They were destined to become one.

I wanted to keep the spirit of the smile trousers alive so as well as the smile, I used this fun appliqué alphabet from shiny happy stitches:

One day I'm determined to make one of Wendi's quilts, but it might end up being for my grandchildren! I shrunk the letters a little as the trouser pattern has quite a narrow leg, then used fusible web to stabilise the fabric before I cut it out. Basically you trace the pattern onto the stabiliser, iron it into your fabric and then cut it out. There's a peel-off layer so then you can iron it onto the main fabric before sewing. I just used a plain straight stitch because I figured it shouldn't stretch with that in place anyway, and there's an article here that told me I didn't need to worry about the edges fraying.

Then I sewed the trousers! I love making children's clothes because they sew up so quickly. I used the Patterns for Pirates "baby bear joggers" pattern- nearly all the PDF patterns I've ever bought are from Patterns for Pirates and I find them really easy to follow, I'm not sure why they never get mentioned in the "Indie sewing world".

The pockets are my favourite detail:

And I even upcycled the waistband, though I'm not sure that was the best idea.

I'm really pleased with the finished product, and (more importantly) so is Sam! They are still a bit too big as he's between sizes at the minute, and we're in the throes of potty training so I can't just tie the drawstring tight to hold them up. Once he's grown a little I will get a model shot too but for now I'm happy to admire them on display!

Has anyone else personalised something old to keep it's spirit when the original item is worn out?

Monday, 22 January 2018

One Word for 2018: Process

Ironically, I spent half a naptime writing this post on my phone and then it didn't save. I guess it's just life checking that I mean what I say! 

I was trapped underneath a needy, sleepy boy. He had his hair cut this morning and had wailed throughout the entire ordeal. We pulled it back with a play in the cars at the early learning centre, but emotionally we were but exhausted. He fell asleep in a cuddle and after one failed attempt at the cot transfer, I accepted that maybe some comfort was what he needed. 

I did have other plans for that nap time. All of the bedding needed washing, and I needed to construct a meatloaf for tea tonight. Then there's the rocky road I bought myself as a reward for surviving the haircut experience. I was looking forward to an uninterrupted cup of tea and a treat. 

At the end of last year I found myself entirely frustrated. Months of sleepless nights and minimal down time meant I was desperate to create something but didn't have the energy to do it well. Instead I took short cuts and then cried when the result was less than satisfactory. 

This year I have decided to reset, to go back to the reason I got into crafting in the first place: the opportunities to connect with others and the joy of creating something special. I'm hoping to enjoy the "Process": of creating, exercising, working, child rearing, and who knows, maybe I'll achieve something as I go?!

In the meantime, here's a grainy picture of my sleeping beauty. 

(You might need to turn your screen brightness up to see him... like one of those magic pictures!)

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Rainbow Blanket

Funny how as soon as you find a solution to a problem, the problem changes! Feeds are not so long any more (thank goodness) but I rarely get through reading all of the blogs I follow now and certainly don't get into writing!

I have however finished and sent the blanket I've been working on so I thought I would share it with you. It all began when I came across this picture:

I loved the stitch and decided to make it into a blanket. I chose a dark blue for the background as the baby hadn't been born yet so it needed to be gender neutral. I started on my first day of maternity leave but didn't get as far as I'd hoped when certain someone turned up early! There followed some creative crafting time (basically whenever / wherever little one slept):


And it was finally finished last month:

I'm pretty pleased with it as I didn't follow a pattern, and I finished it within 3 months of newborn-raising(!) I would have liked it to be a bit wider: I used the same number of stitches as my fantasy blanket but didn't think about how the structure of the pattern would affect the amount of horizontal stretch. It's acceptable though, and I think the border helps.

Here it is all packed up and ready to send!

It is now in transit, I hope the recipient will enjoy it, just in time for the start of Autumn.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Book Review: I Am Malala

I read this book as it was in the book club on the SheLoves Magazine website. I want to write my review before I read the discussion post today but I'm not sure how quickly I'll get this up.

I'm not sure what I was expecting in this book, but I got something completely different. The book begins with a potted history of the nation of Pakistan, then provides some context in the form of Malala's Father's story. It slipped seamlessly into Malala's story without my really noticing. The story itself is a fascinating insight into everyday life in an area ruled by the taliban. If you've ever wondered how cities can be "Taken by the Taliban" or "reclaimed by the army"; or how people live when there is daily fighting in the streets, this book will provide you with at least one perspective.

This book struck me as I started reading it in the week that the Chilcott enquiry was published. This was an enquiry into the UK's role in the Iraq war, and was not complimentary about the decisions made or the processes by which they were reached! To read about the direct impact this had on a rural valley in Pakistan was eye-opening, and the impact that continues is alarming.

I enjoyed that Malala's portrayal of herself is so much more human than those in the media. She was a normal teenage girl, who fought with her best friend and wouldn't share with her brothers. She is so outspoken because she follows the footsteps of her father. She came from the back of beyond but almost without realising became a person of such significance that the foreign hospital she was taken to and the people who took her there were of diplomatic significance. In fact, her survival was of diplomatic significance. It's a real example of how small steps, decisions made every day, can snowball into something that effects a real change in the world.

It's a raw book. I don't think it can have been written very long after the family resettled in Birmingham.  My copy is a newer edition and there is a new interview with Malala at the back. There is a clear contrast between Malala's description of life in the UK in the final chapter of the book vs the interview, and I'm pleased the family seem to be slowly settling though their hearts are clearly still back home.

In summary I would whole-heartedly recommend this book if you have an interest in political history;  an interest in women's rights; or you just like a good autobiography. It may not be the greatest literary classic but if you try you can hear Malala's Pakistani accent in the turns of phrase.

Right, let's see what everyone else thought. The discussion page is here.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Not a "mummy blog"

I can understand why when ladies become mums, everything quickly becomes all about motherhood and children. It's totally overwhelming and you learn so much so quickly and there's nobody there to share your newfound wisdom with. I am sure there will be plenty of "mummy posts" in the coming months, but I really enjoy being part of the crafting community (before I disappeared so unceremoniously) so I hope you'll let me stay. Even if my crafting achievements are few and far between!

I have stitched on a gift this month which is remarkable as I hadn't previously done any cross-stitching since last November. We drove down to visit the grandparents at the weekend so while baby was contained in his car seat I had a couple of hours either way with my hands free!

It's a design by stitchrovia. I don't want to give too much away because it is for a surprise gift... though may be the Christmas after next before it is finished! I did enjoy doing it again though, cross stitch is a slow but satisfying craft and once I've finished my current project (more on that soon) I might try to move more quickly with it.

Monday, 18 July 2016

On the missing year... and my biggest creative achievement yet!

So it's been a year. I'm not sure it's really worth summarising all that has passed as it would take far too long, I'm bound to miss out a key event and there's a distinct possibility that my only remaining reader is my mum and she already knows!

The main event though, beyond which all others pale into insignificance; my greatest creative achievement of all; is that I have become a mum! Little S is 8 weeks old and amazing. I would love to show you ALL of the photos and videos because he is so cute but I'm mindful of internet security so I'll keep it to just one:

Perfecting his model pose

As you can imagine, life's a bit different now. He is breastfeeding (which, by the way, is HARD. Harder than anything else I've ever tried to do) and feeds a lot, so I've watched a lot of daytime TV. I'm trying to do some reading when he's settled enough for me to free one hand, and I've recently regained a tablet so thought I might have another go at blogging again. Anything to make me feel just a little bit productive beyond being the milk machine!

I'm looking forward to going back through other blogs I haven't read in ages too. Is anyone still out there? What have I missed?!

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Catching up

I'm not very consistent at the moment- neither is life. It's busy and occasionally threatens to engulf me entirely. But I am learning to recognise the anxiety  as it comes, to rationalise it and lean into peace. I'm getting there, slowly. This is a 'new' that is above and beyond all the changes in physical situations, but within. Maybe I'll talk about that next week (although I am going to the real life sea next week so you may be kept in suspense...)

On with the Stitch-alongs. I'm late for TUSAL and Gifted Gorgeousness but I'm here! I've actually missed the TUSAL for the past few months. TUSAL stands for "Totally Useless Stitch-along" and it's an opportunity for people to show off all of the scraps they've created by stitching over the month. We moved house in April and as a consequence my TUSAL jar was packed away, and I had to move on to a smaller, travel-sized version. I still haven't gone back!

Isn't it cute?

You can see the layers much more clearly from the different projects I was working on: lots of blackwork back in April, then some bold colours from my applique in May, and finally all the pastels from the 'Storytime Classics' sampler I've finally got stuck into this month!

It is also handy to carry around with me- I like to squeeze some stitching into my lunch break when I can, or just pass the time if I have to wait a while somewhere. I made a little drawstring bag way back when I bought that baby sewing machine, and it still gets plenty of use:

Just the right size to squeeze into a handbag! You can also see the progress I've made on the aforementioned sampler from the Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery; I got off to a very bad start at the beginning of the year but have completed 2 month's worth this month already, so I'm optimistic it might still be finished by January 2016.

Unfortunately it has been my main project this month, and is the only one that doesn't qualify for "Gifted Gorgeousness" (see what I did there?!)

Gifted Gorgeousness is run by Jo at Serendipitous Stitching and it's an opportunity to share any crafting that has been done as a gift, or received. Last month I could only share a teaser with you but this month I can share what I sent to Canada in the Disney Craft Swap I joined in:

My swap partner liked 101 Dalmations and mentioned that Cruella DeVille was her favourite character, so I stitched some blackwork Dalmatians and an applique Cruella for a tote bag. The dalmatians were also supposed to end up on the bag but that didn't work out, I'm pretty please with the notebook cover as well though! I really enjoyed making for somebody else- it gave me to opportunity to try things that I wouldn't have done otherwise, and I made things in a style that I wouldn't necessarily want to keep. This post is a bit photo heavy already so I won't post close-ups now, but I was REALLY PLEASED with how it all turned out.

I also included some Cadbury's Marvellous Creations chocolate (the one with popping candy because it's my favourite), some hand-dyed threads from riotous colours, and a card with an illustration of Leeds on the front.

It has also been my birthday since this time last month and I have been treated to some beautiful Gifted Gorgeousness! I was given this cross stitch kit by some good friends:

I've wanted a Bothy Threads pattern for ages but have never quite been brave enough to buy one so this really was a treat! I'm looking forward to having a go with metallic threads and a bit of beading too so that will be fun.

Finally, my wonderful husband MADE my birthday present this year. It has been very mysterious as lots of small envelopes kept arriving in the post, and then he borrowed my spray glue and got all a bit stressed out while I was not allowed upstairs, but look at this:

Isn't it gorgeous?! The postcards are all from places we've been abroad together. This photo doesn't show off quite how well it goes in the room as well. To be honest I would have been over the moon with anything he'd gone to the trouble of making for me but this is perfect. I am a very lucky lady.