Monday 31 October 2022

Spooks and sewing

 A couple of months ago our younger grandson put in a very specific request for his next granny sewn outfit. He wanted a vampire outfit for Halloween, well how could a granny refuse? I came across a couple of paper patterns for sale on a Facebook group that were exactly what I needed. An online fabric shop later and I was ready to start stitching. 

There were so many new to me's involved in the making of this, it was a real labour of love! Attaching the stand-up collar to the cape definitely taxed my poor brain and there was some fudging involved in the end, but the recipient will not notice I am sure. The pattern had the cape attaching with a tie at the neckline and the shirt collar closing with a hook and eye, but knowing nearly 4 year old boys as I do I thought they might be an accident waiting to happen. I, therefore, left the shirt collar open and made the front fastening with red ribbon and velcro so that said nearly 4 year old could put it on and off himself, and it could be removed easily in a hurry if the need arose :)

The pattern also included dress knee length trousers but I decided instead to make a pair of black joggers on the basis that they would be more comfortable and that he would get use out of them afterwards too. 

Of course, I couldn't make for one grandson and not the other but as the 6 year old was already sorted with a costume I made him an appropriately themed warm pullover instead. The shawl collar on this took me 3 attempts to get right, but we got there in the end.

And now I have a granddaughter to make for too! One Halloween romper for a little miss who cannot be left out and will, no doubt, in the not too distant future be putting in her own requests for outfits. A whole new world of sewing awaits :)

On the basis that I really need to use up my fabric stash before I invest in any more fabric, I used up the last of my Halloween fabric on Halloween underwear to keep the boys warm as they head out to their friends for treats and fun. I only realised after I had cut out the vests that the fabric is upside down on one (mummies on their heads!) but hopefully the grandson won't notice!

I have another Halloween make but that will not be revealed until November 1st when the next Endeavourers Challenge is unveiled here

Happy Halloween to all!

Monday 1 August 2022

Hairy Companion

 The theme for this quarter's Endeavourers Challenge is Animal Kingdom. As ever, it took me ages to decide what to do for the Challenge but, a recent trip to Mull provided the perfect inspiration. 

Our younger grandson shares his name with a Highland Cow character in a series of books that we have bought for him over the years. Living in Northumberland he doesn't get the opportunity to see real-live Highland Cows that often, so he was delighted when we sent him this photo from our holiday trip. 

His bedtime story pick often features his namesake books, so I decided that my project for this quarter's challenge would be a reading pillow featuring his favourite character :)

Given that it needed to be fairly robust, little boys are not particularly known for their care and consideration for cushions and pillows (at least not in our family!) I opted for simple raw-edge applique for the face and horns. 

Two black button eyes peek out from behind that mass of hair. The fringe is a piece of faux suede stitched in place and then cut into strips. I like the tactile nature of the suede and thought that it would not fray, but it seems to be fraying already on the cut edges, so it might not be as small boy proof as I had thought :)

My original intention for the background was to create some sort of landscape with various different fabrics, but when I came across a piece of this lovely AMH fabric tucked away in my stash I thought that it was a much better idea. Spiky, thistle-like plants and Highland Cows are the perfect match, don't you think? 

The boys are coming to visit this week and we have a new book in the series to read, so with our comfy Highland Cow pillow behind us we are all set for bedtime reading :)

Head on over to the Endeavourers blog to see all the amazing makes my fellow Endeavourers have produced for this month's challenge, you will not be disappointed!

Wednesday 18 May 2022

Getting ready for summer

 The slightest hint of sunshine in my part of the world is enough to encourage thoughts of summer, even although, as proved recently, the sunshine is only teasing as the rain and wind is not that far behind :) As I write this post it is lovely and sunny outside of my sewing room window but, as the passers-by are all wrapped up in warm, waterproof jackets I am guessing that summer has still not arrived!

Still the hint of sunshine is enough to kickstart my summer sewing for the gorgeous grandsons :) First up a Vikings and Dragons t-shirt for the elder grandson. Our hometown is the site of a battle that resulted in the ousting of the Vikings from mainland Scotland in 1263, so a Viking t-shirt is particularly appropriate for his next visit! 

Of course, we can't have one grandson with a Viking t-shirt and not the other so here is the t-shirt for the littler grandson.

Thoughts of dragons inevitably lead to knights so it was an easy leap to pick out this knights and dragons fabric for another t-shirt for my next make. The dragons were somewhat dismissed as "baby dragons" when he first saw them, but I think he liked it anyway!

The fabric for all of the above t-shirts was bought from a German online retailer who, sadly, post-Brexit no longer delivers to the UK, so I have to wait for trips to France or Ireland to order from them. 

This wonderful Highland Coosville fabric, however, was purchased from, Olumis Fabric , an online retailer in Scotland. It has been sitting in my stash for ages whilst I plucked up the courage to cut into it! I only had 0.5m so I knew that if I didn't cut into it soon it would be too short for a t-shirt so the time had come to get the scissors out :) The grandson will be hard to miss wearing this!

All of the t-shirts were made with Ellie & Mac Discoverer Tee pattern. I have made up several Ellie & Mac patterns for the boys now and I have found them all to have excellent instructions and very straightforward to sew up. 

Next up, a New to Me fabric and pattern! I was lucky enough recently to win a printed copy of the Waves and Wild Reef Beach Rashie and 1.5m  of swim fabric from Poppy Bear Fabrics. I have never sewn with swim fabric before and find it quite daunting, so if you have any tips you can pass on will be greatly appreciated :)

Keeping my fingers crossed that summer is not too far away 😎

Sunday 1 May 2022

All the C's

 The next reveal for the latest Endeavourers Challenge is due today. Unusually for this quarter's project we had no theme to work to, which sounds like it should have made life easier, but it really didn't! Being a procrastinator at the best of times, having free rein to choose a topic for the Challenge just ramped up the procrastination :)


Finally, and I do mean finally, I decided to create a companion piece for an earlier Challenge piece "Making Waves", which was my project in November 2020 for the theme "The Sea". 


 Making Waves was inspired by the sea in front of my sewing room window, All the C's was inspired by the island, Great Cumbrae, that I can see beyond the sea from my window. Great Cumbrae (first C!) is an island 2 miles from the mainland, accessible only by a 10 minute ferry journey from Largs. The island has one town, Millport, and two iconic landmarks that are represented in my little quilt.

The first of these landmarks is the rather bizarre, Crocodile Rock (Second C!), which sits on the shoreline just at the edge of the town. The painted crocodile face is reputed to have been put there decades ago by a drunken local on their way home after a boozy night out! 


Whether that is true or not, it has become a magnet for children of all ages who visit the island. We recently took our grandsons there, who were delighted to have the opportunity to clamber all over a crocodile and live to enjoy a hot chocolate in the nearby cafe :) He is rather magnificent, isn't he?

The second iconic landmark is the "Cathedral of the Isles", (Third C!) Britain's smallest Cathedral, which is tucked away in a leafy corner behind the town. The Cathedral was built in 1851 and consecrated as a Cathedral in 1876. 


The college building attached also now functions as a retreat venue open to the public. Apparently the organ in the Cathedral is of particular note and concerts to showcase it and the marvellous acoustics were regularly held in pre-pandemic times. 

Not only did I wait until the last minute before deciding what to make for the challenge, I left it until I was on holiday in France to actually make it! I had grabbed a bundle of furnishing fabric samples, felt scraps and shirt oddments before we left and used various bits of them to create my version of Cumbrae. You can see which were used where in the photo above.

The final touch was the addition of three of these upcycled (Another C?) fluffy pompoms from a curtain offcut to represent the sheep on the island :)

As ever, this was another fun challenge even when I left it so late that it was only finished the night before and I was writing the blog post as the deadline arrived! 

Head on over to the Endeavourers blog to see how my fellow Endeavourers approached this no theme Challenge. 



Tuesday 1 February 2022

Hunt for Roses

 It is time for another quarterly reveal from the Endeavourers Art Quilt Group. We were down to the very last suggested theme for this quarter which is Emotions/Feelings. I am sure that you will not be surprised to know that even although I knew that this was the only theme left, I had zero inspiration for much of the last three months :)

Finally I decided to use the language of flowers as my representation of an emotion, and the emotions/feelings I chose to depict were Joy and Gratitude, which is symbolised by a pink rose. This quote might explain why that might be -

“Historically, rose petals were valued for their medicinal qualities than their aesthetic qualities. Rose has antidepressant properties.”
Amy Leigh Mercree, The Mood Book: Crystals, Oils, and Rituals to Elevate Your Spirit


Despite the restrictions and difficulties of the past two years, when I was trying to pick an emotion to depict I realised that actually I have a lot to be joyful about so a pink rose was the perfect fit. When our youngest son announced his engagement to his lovely girlfriend last week, well that was even more reasons to be joyful! 

I wanted to use a couple of New to Me techniques in this little quilt as well as trying to use what I had on hand. My local textile group has started off the year with a challenge to embrace "renewal" so this quilt is also my nod to that challenge too. 

The background fabric, which is a rust-dyed scrap given to me by a friend at a recent workshop, gave me the idea to base the quilt on a page from a vintage book of botanical illustrations. So, I was quite happy to embrace the "imperfections" to help convey the feeling of age and all that goes with that in a book. The fabric for the petals is taken from these now redundant work shirts of my DH. I was very happy to discover such a range of pinks for my rose :)

The rose stem and leaves were painted with these Inktense blocks and pencils. I had never used the blocks before, and as you can see from the colours above, my original intention was to paint the rose as well as the stems. In the end though only the stem and leaves were painted.

The Inktense pencils and blocks are water soluble, but on fabric can spread more than anticipated when diluted with water, so Aloe Vera gel is suggested as a medium that will allow the spread of the colour but stop the bleeding associated with water. As I needed clear lines for my illustration, I applied the colour to the fabric with the blocks and then used the paintbrush dipped in gel to intensify the colour. The colour is fixed when the fabric dries. 

I downloaded the rose template from here and traced it on to tear away stabiliser. During the first lockdown here in the UK I watched a Zoom demonstration by Gillian Cooper, who used a reverse applique technique to create a puffin applique notebook. This was, finally, my opportunity to have a go at that reverse applique technique! 

The stabiliser was pinned to the back of the background fabric and sewn from the back. I built up the rose from the outside in by attaching a piece of shirt fabric at a time with a small dot of fabric glue and stitching the outline of a petal before turning the stitched piece over and trimming back to just outside the stitched line. 

 Once the rose was complete I turned the piece back to the front and, using the stem and leaf part of the stencil, free machine embroidered the outline of the stem and leaves. The stabiliser was then torn away and the leaves and stem painted with the Inktense block and pencils, with more detail in the leaves added with some fme once the paint was dry.

As you can see above the rose was lacking a bit in detail, especially in the centre, where the fabrics were very similar. I, therefore, quilted around the rose petals with a deeper rose pink thread in the needle to accentuate the rose petals.

Instead of the botanical rose name below the flower I embroidered this phrase that I found online as it tied in with my theme of gratitude - "When life throws thorns hunt for roses".

I couldn't envisage this piece as a quilt and keeping with the idea of it being inspired by a botanical illustration, I decided to frame the piece in a picture frame instead. Fortunately as well as supplying the shirts for the rose petals my DH also painted the picture frame in a colour called "Stone Rosie", which seemed particularly appropriate too! 

So, once again another Endeavourers Challenge has been met and once again, I am really looking forward to seeing how my fellow Endeavourers have responded to the challenge. If you would like to see their responses too, you will find them here . Prepare to be inspired :)

As ever my thanks go to Catherine and Janine for organising another excellent Challenge!

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