Sunday, 29 June 2014

and that first bag...

Was for a wedding. That wedding happened yesterday.

The bride to be sent an email out to her friends, she had been hunting for the perfect handbag for the occasion, one which would go perfectly with the dress, but would be big enough for all her 'security items' to fit into- spare specs, mobile, hankies, this, that, the other thing...- and soft, so it wouldn't catch on anything else..
She had looked on line and off, and just was not seeing exactly what she was after. so, would we all have a look, and see if we had something to lend her.

But my brain works the other way! If I haven't got what I want, and cannot see it out there, let me work out more precisely what I want, and I shall make it!

So, the offer was made. And we went on an urgent shopping spree, to Abakhan. They had a lovely polyester slub fabric in just the right colour, and upstairs we found a really pretty braid to match.. The right colour thread was purchased, in case I hadn't got it- I hadn't, so that was sensible- and £14 later- because there were one or two other bits crept into her basket, (which were nothing to do with me!)- we were on our way home. I already had all the other bits I thought I needed, or would get them somewhere else.

A few days later

the bag appeared.

A little bit of fabric manipulation to add interest, removeable strap, ( thank you to, I think, Hadley, who told me what 'swivel clips' are called, a few years ago) and the recipient is delighted.

A few more photos for you...
 It is always good to have a few pockets..
 and we wanted it to fit the mobile phone she is planning to get..
 just playing with which way it will work best...

 I top-stitched the zip on the inside only, so the lining will not catch, but you see no stitches from the outside.

She does not know how honoured she is... I hand stitched that binding on the flap.. I hate hand stitching... but I think it looks OK..

And the dress? you may find it here

We also played with some stick on diamante letters... and decided against them..

so, this was the bag I sent a picture of, to my Saturday lass, and her bag is 'out of the same stable', but completely different. 

Happy bags!

Friday, 27 June 2014

If you cannot find the one you like... Make it!

It is Prom season. All my youngsters are past prom stage, but I have a Saturday girl!

Now, this girl will go far. She is quite shy and retiring, but she worked herself up a job! How is that for a lass!

She has known us for some years, and came and joined us for 'work experience' We loved having her, and she seemed to enjoy herself. Then this year, it was prom! She bought a dress.... but it needed some very minor alteration. So, Mum brought her round, and we got the alteration done. To pay for this, she volunteered to do a few Saturdays.. Totally unnecessary, but she felt better about it... And her Mum liked that it meant she had to get up!

We found her so useful, she started officially in April......real pay too!

So, the bag?? No suitable bag found... In the end, I volunteered, sent them some photos of another bag I had made, and they liked.... so, the bag was made!

some piping and pleating on the front, pockets inside, and a long strap, on swivel clips, , a zip top, and the flap fastened with a magnetic clasp, and you have a bag fit for prom!

A very happy lass brought me a card and some chocolates today!

And Mum couldn't quite believe all the detail involved...

I thought it not so bad either!

oh! did you want to see the inside too?
Extra large phone pocket! and a safe zippy pocket. Job Done!

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Of Scatological interest...

 The first hemerocallis is out! Summer is officially here! yes, I know, we have had Midsummers Day, and the solstice, the evenings are drawing in, but hey, it is now summer!

While out looking at the length of the grass, checking which flowers are now out, admiring the fresh lush growth of weeds, I noticed the evidence of an intruder in our garden. They had left their calling card...

now, I am not in the habit of taking photos of poo, but this one intrigued me. It looks too small for pussy cat, does not look like herbivore, I suspect it is too big for hedgehog... any ideas? Hmmm... anyone know what a sparrowhawk's poo looks like? I know we get visits from a bird of prey, though I haven't seen them... A pair of wings got left, complete with pectoral girdle... Nothing else, just wings and girdle, picked clean...

the daisy is there for scale!

Thoughts would be welcome.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Hen party!

A friend of mine is getting married in just under two weeks time.. So she had a hen party. I have never been to a hen party before, but I was invited to this one! So, I went. 

She arranged a florist to come and give a demonstration, and for all of us to do an arrangement, 
We were presented with a small dish complete with a block of oasis, pre-soaked. Rolls of floral tape were out and each of us had a knife and a pair of scissors, and Sarah, the florist, brought round the various sprays of flowers and leaves we were to use.

Sarah showed us how to put little pieces of eucalyptus into the foam to make a little base for the table posy, covering the base of the dish, so it could not be seen, and then adding the flowers according to her formula.

Sarah brought along a choice of peach or slightly off white roses, lisianthus in three colour ways, and 
 pink peonies, which were in different stages of open, from small buds through to almost full blown. She also brought some hypericum berries to add in. 

I added the peony leaves to my arrangement, I never could quite follow a brief.. 

The lisianthus is really pretty, we had white, white with a pink border, and deep pink ones.

so here is the result.. 

I am not convinced by the hypericum... But then, I do not have to be!

After that we went to a teppenyaki restaurant which is in Stockton Heath, in the south of Warrington, where a chef treated us to a display of cooking and we all ate the resultant food. He juggled with kitchen implements, and later with eggs, including catching an egg in his hat.. 

He also provided an extemporaneous accompaniment to us singing 'Happy Wedding to you'. Then he did the cooking bit, and we did the eating bit! Most delicious. I used the chopsticks provided, this means I eat slowly..  Some of the others also tried them, but mostly used the forks which were also there. 

So that was my evening. 

And latest new flowers blooming in my garden? 

 pretty peachy poppies...
and a pretty aquilegia.. lots of the others are over, but this one is blooming on!

I have been busy sewing today, but it is a secret project, so I can only give you a hint for now... 

This is for a special occasion, so after that, I shall share more... 

Thursday, 12 June 2014


 the garden is burgeoning just now, all very lush and well grown.. worth some cheerful pics! Enjoy!


and more volunteers here!

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Who likes applique?

Well, I suspect, I do! Otherwise why would I have done so much of it? Mmmmmm.....

Anyway, hot on the heels of May it is June... yes, I know, happens like that most years...but I am queen bee for another group, so I needed a brand new idea to go with.
After sifting all sorts of ideas, I realised, I want something this group can really put their own twist on, so that a flavour of themselves comes through. if I ask for drunkards path blocks, that might happen.. but it might give them heart failure as well! Similarly, Cathedral windows ran through my thoughts... But I think the individuality would be lost... and all sorts of other ideas were played with and discarded, as not giving them a chance to show themselves.

I love the blocks which show the quirks, so I need a quirky block.

My DD2 has blocks coming from Around the World, these are flower blocks, on neutral backgrounds... Some of these are stunning, so, can I steal her idea?

YES! She is happy with that.

All these
are flowers I have done in the past...

and this one is the example I ran up for the group..
So, I thought quite hard, and had a mini brainwave... well, I thought so anyway.
We are allowed to ask for up to two 12.5" unfinished blocks.But 24 blocks all uniformly 12.5" is a bit.... staid? How about getting some blocks 12.5" and some 6.5" and perhaps even some 12.5" by 6.5"? Then I can crazy pave them, and get something a bit more exciting?? Are you with me?

So, A lovely, almost black, but just about blue, solid came from Justine, and my dear friend had a talk with me about restricted pallettes, and a selection of turquoisey blue, orange and yellow fabrics have been sorted out, with a few greens for leaves, and sent off in various directions. I have not sent all three colours to anyone, though, so I shall wait and see what they all come up with this time! I am really excited by this one.

What is exciting in your life? I have baby wrens and baby tits and baby goldfinches in my garden! How about you? Oh and a this years model robin! Can it get better?

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

The bag! warning- long post..

I had a hankering, for a new weekend bag. And having been given Lisa Lam's Bag makers Bible- what better opprotunity, than to make her weekender bag!

If you have seen the pictures, it is quite a bag. It looks capacious, and sensible, and, if made from suitable materials, should be robust.

If you are me, you have all sorts of fabric stashed away, leftovers from projects that Noah's wife took with her on the ark, as well as more recent bits and pieces, some bought, just because, and others bought with specific aims, now lost in the mists of time....So, what have I got that will make a substantial and robust bag?

Dark red cord! Yummy dark red cord! What was the original use? I have not a clue, but I have a good bit of leftover!

Copy out pattern pieces, choose lining, again from stash, choose pockets and facings, and cut out all pieces, and grind to a halt... in January. Oh, I had it started in my brain before I had the book... but it was all cut out and ready to go, in January. But no hardware for it.

I am in the group, Lazy Bums. This is a laugh really, and is designed to encourage the making of stuff that lurks in the shadows, not being made... May's challenge for this group, for me, was THAT BAG. 

So, I finally did the necessary, bought those findings, and started the journey.
Most of it was straightforward, though the instructions were set out in a way that was not natural for me. I have made bags before, as well as dressmaking and quilting, and I am pretty good at wangling, but some of my wangling was in frustration... just getting that tubing through the fabric tube took two and a half hours, and in the end, my DH did it! I didn't want to make the hole it threaded through any larger, as then it would 'bag' but boy was it a toughie!

 and I found the finishing instructions for that handle were not as good or as clear as they might have been- Fine if you used bought handles, but the made ones? not as easy...

Then there was the magnetic fastener tab, There is a helpful picture in the book... but no helpful instruction, to say, in this case, the 'short side' is longer than the 'long side' of your piece...

 I folded, I looked, I folded differently, I went back to the instructions, and refolded... In the end, I followed the instructions, and had another look.
 Does this look right? No... clearly, this time, I should have used the longer side as my short side... Let us start again..
I made a new and different tab.

This piece did come in useful later, it was 'repurposed' . And this bit is where Lisa really came up trumps! or her assistant, perhaps..

emails flew.. and I got extra measurements from the U handbag crew, to ensure I didn't get another mishap like that one! Three cheers for Lisa Lam! and Skye.

 Looks OK now doesn't it?

Probably a bit smarter than it did with the other tab, I am happy now.
and here is the inside of the front pocket flap.
 the front pocket now goes on like a dream..
the bag runs into itself with no problems..
 and even bottomless, starts to look like a bag!

 and with it's bottom in, even not yet lined, I think it is starting to look quite smart!

so now I need to put the lining together..
 zip pocket, check!

 Slip pocket, check!

 Together! looks like nothing on earth...

 and even worse...

but now it is in, it looks like a bag!
 smart enough to take away when I want to ..

and it has feet!

and that handy tab for when you pull the zip..

I am very happy with my weekender bag! Thanks Lisa. 
and I only had to buy the hardware for it... all fabrics I already had, and was ready to use in a good cause

What wrinkles would I try to remember for next time?  .... next time??? well, I may have to make some for my girls one Christmas, you never know... 

wrinkle 1, remember the short side is the long side some of the time! 

wrinkle 2, the zip length needs looking at very hard when you are sewing the thing. It is fine to have a too long zip, but the instructions are unclear as to how this is dealt with. 

wrinkle 3, sewing the bag bottom on, treat each side as a separate unit, do not try to turn those corners.
 and there are three bag bottom pieces to cut. it is not too clear as to which bit of lining is the lining, and which bit makes the envelope to put your bought bag bottom in! Is that English? No? well I hope you understand anyway.. Putting in bag bottom is also a little trial of patience.. 

wrinkle 4, remember that lining fabric and outer fabric may have different stretch.. this becomes important in finishing the zip, and matching lining to zip.. 


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