Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Dreaming of stitching

Right now I am dreaming of stitching. Dreaming of sewing a thousand things for my house, and before the Christmas season is here.

Alas, it is just a dream. We have discovered a rodent problem in our house and in the process of working out how, where and how bad, we've had to pull apart our kitchen. So right now we are in temporary accomodation. The rodents have gone, but the kitchen is still a mess... until later this month when a whole new one is fitted... so so so excited!

We are lucky enough to have found a house to stay in for a month so that we can escape the chaos however the house is rather bijoux. Not a lot of room for sewing! So, sadly for me, I won't be doing Elsie Marley's Kids Clothing Week Challenge this autumn. Anyhow, I managed to make Poppet a skirt last week, and they've got plenty of clothes... waaaaay more than they need!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Awake and Asleep Doll

I made this sweet little doll and carry-basket early in the summer and I'm reliably informed that my niece is besotted with it. I call that a success!

The pattern is from Applique for Little Ones by Sylvie Blondeau. I used leftover fabric from making Poppet a skirt for the basket, and other scraps to make the doll.

The pattern directs you to make the basket sides from a single piece wrapped around the base. I decided from the off that I wanted the basket to have a bit more structure and piecing each side separately gave me the desired result. Throughout the patterns in this book you'll find many other ways in which even a slightly experienced sewist may do things in a different way. This pattern was less frustrating than others... but more about that in another post.

It's a pattern perfect for adapting - a bigger basket, different trims on the basket and blanket, different outfits or expressions for the doll. I found a lovely flower trim to coordinate with the fabric and used this on the basket, blanket and doll's dress to bring the items together.

And here she is having a sleep. Embroidery thread is used to sew an awake expression on one side of the doll and an asleep expression on the other.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Put down your laptop and have fun


We used to be serial fixer-uppers. Buy a place, fix it up, move on. We worked really hard, and then worked some more at painting, planning and so on at the weekends. And then we had kids. We really don't want to spend precious time in front of a laptop or holding a paintbrush when we could be with Poppet and Treacle so we are making a real effort to plan weekends and holidays that we can all enjoy together.

This weekend we went to Croyde Bay.

It's a surfer's paradise, and a lovely beach for families too! We had a great time on Saturday but the weekend really didn't go to plan. A four hour journey turned into seven; there was no surf; Treacle came out in chicken pox. Fortunately the journey home was quicker but it did cut our weekend short, and Treacle is suffering badly.

So you see what I'm saying? Have fun whenever you can because you never know when you have to change your plans!

And you never know what's around the corner.

A good friend of mine is currently being treated for secondary leukemia. He needs a bone marrow transplant and while they have found a suitable match for him, there are others who may not be so fortunate. Take a moment, before you put down your laptop and have some summer adventures, to consider joining the stem cell donation register (this used to be called bone marrow donation and was more invasive - these days it's a saliva sample to register and little more than blood donation to donate).

Friday, 3 August 2012

Olympic fever

In huge contrast to the health of our British Olympic team, my poor little Poppet's been quite unwell. We had a large dose of chicken pox* just as Poppet was about to start at a new nursery, and now, just as she's getting over it, she's got tonsilitis. I feel so sorry for her. And guilty. Of course the tonsilitis was preceded by some major tantrums and arguments between us, like always.

While that's been going on we've been juggling childcare and getting Treacle settled into nursery and hosting visitors. Oh yeah, and watching the Olympics!

My parents were our main visitors as we live closer to Eton Dorney which is hosting the rowing events. My parents were fortunate to see the first British Gold of the Olympics! They had a fabulous time and were pretty hoarse by the time we collected them from the train station at the end of their second day at the river.

I'm completely absorbed by Olympic fever. Watching sporting events has always been a big deal in my family, even though none of us are particularly good at sports in practice! We've been watching on TV, listening on the radio and in preparation for our trip to the Olympic park to see a women's hockey semi-final, I've purchased a team GB t-shirt (and cap!).

And I've bought some London 2012 stamps. I could be accused of being a merchandiser's dream but I prefer to think of myself as being "in the spirit".

*we don't immunise against it here in the UK.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

No sewing but plenty of sun


Just back from a lovely weekend by the sea. 

The car journeys were awful but it was great to see family at my father-in-laws 60th, spend a bit of time at the beach, and the girls loved their sleepover with Nana. Meanwhile...

Steve and I got to stay at a fantastic guest house with an amazing sea view. The pictures were taken with my phone, so not the best, but it was great to have a peaceful night in luxurious surroundings. And what a breakfast. Wow! Pastries, salmon, poached eggs on muffins, yogurt, coffee... All courtesy of my brother in law, Dave, the man in charge at The View Guest House in Margate. I recommend it (just don't take my kids in the back of your car!).

Monday, 16 July 2012


Since I read Babar the Elephant stories as a child I have felt quite affectionate toward elephants.

Add caption

And then when I watched the Disney Tarzan movie back in 1999 I fell in love with Tantor - "want an elephant hair? I got a whole tail of 'em" (Check it out here )

It seems I'm not the only one who has a soft spot for this paciderm - see Kristen of Skirt as Top encouraging her daughter's love of all things Elephant.

Recently, I saw the fabric below in my local sewing shop (not known for modern and exciting fabric), and wanted to buy up all three rolls.

I revisited the shop this week and checked that they still have this fabric. They do, but the rolls are getting skinny. I need to decide what to make and act quickly. Would a soft toy elephant made from elephant fabric be too much? Perhaps.

One of the first things I made for Poppet was a soft elephant using a pattern in Last Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson. I was really impressed with the clarity of the instructions - perfect for beginners - but a little disappointed that he didn't look quite as cute as the one in the book. Now I've made him a playmate (well, until we give him away) I realise it was the lack of print that made him look a bit somber.

The original Edgar the Elephant and his new friend, Edgar Jnr

I put less stuffing in Edgar Jnr and really like the result. A vibrant happy Elephant, with the name of a special baby on his blanket.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Scraps and other news

To give myself some TV-friendly hand sewing I've been working on english paper piecing. I find this a satisfying way to use up scraps. So satisfying in fact that I have now trimmed even the smallest of scraps into patchworking pieces.

2.5 inch squares, 1.5 inch squares, hexagons, 3.5 x 1.75 inch rectangles

No prizes for spotting the Amy Butler peacock fabric! There are also glimpses of Eric Carle's Hungry Caterpillar.

While the hexagons are perfect for english paper piecing, I'm not sure what the approach with the 2.5 inch squares will be - probably machine piecing. The rectangles will be used to make juggling balls/pattern weights. I have been piecing the tiny squares together freehand.

Hand-pieced 1.5 inch scraps

I think the effect is really lovely, even if it's not particularly tidy (it hasn't been ironed in the pic so looks worse than it might be!). I am considering making this an 8x8 square and adding a border to make it into a cushion front. 

When I haven't been cutting things up, I've been re-attaching buttons and other mundane tasks. On this theme I have been adjusting a pair of shoes for Treacle. Not just any shoes... gorgeous bloch shoes.

These adorable little things were a Christmas present but Treacle has such tiny feet they have only just reached fitting point. I have been adjusting the elastic because Poppet attempted to put them on her extremely-large-for-her-age feet and stretched it. Ah, the infuriating cuteness of kids!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

The baby brick photos

I finally took the photos of Treacle's baby bricks

Fabric selection this time was Michael Miller's Forest Life in aqua, Flutter Butter in pink and (I think!) Tanya Wheelan white spot on blue. Along with that I used a solid red and solid white and a coordinating felt for the applique.

More on the construction on my previous post

And some actions shots...

Friday, 29 June 2012

Baby Bricks (with a lamentable lack of photos)

I've made these personalised baby bricks three times now. I love them!

The first time I made them I'd left myself very little time to make a baby gift but really wanted to make something rather than buy. So, I went for something uncomplicated and relied on the fabric to do the work for me. What could be easier than five stuffed bricks?

So the fabric? I found another great online store: Gone to Earth where I bought the Joel Dewberry Modern Meadow Electric Blue Fabric Pack.

These bricks were made with four inch squares of fabric cut from four different designs and a coordinating plain fabric. To add some structure I used a medium weight iron-on interfacing on all fabric. The letters were appliqued to the plain fabric using felt (bond-a-webbed in place) and embroidery thread.

Each brick is comprised of two different patterned fabrics and a solid. My tip is to assemble them as per the diagram here. Finally, I stuffed each brick with toy stuffing and hand-sewed the final seam.

The next time I made these was for my own Treacle's first birthday. And you know what? There's no photo of them. I better go and fix that now.

Watch this space

I used the same technique but to pad out the number of bricks I appliqued shapes on two of the bricks.

I tried to make them fun rather than ornamental by adding some sound. Two bricks have a crinkle feature - I backed one square with cereal packet paper (inspired by this post on taggies). One brick has a bell  - a craft bell like these (although bought from my local sewing shop) is suspended (ahem, thread and sticky tape!) inside a plastic ball from a Kinder Egg which is then centred in the stuffing. I wish I had photos of them in progress. Next time.

And finally, I made these again for another friend using the same fabric selection as the first time. As usual it was a last minute affair and I don't have photos. Sigh.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Converting from inches to centimetres

If you spend a lot of time on sewing blogs and love US patterns such as those from Colette, Oliver + S and Amy Butler, you probably work in inches much of the time. That's cool, my tape measure can deal with that. But uh oh, what if you want to order fabric from a UK site or shop and need to know your requirement in centimetres? Ugh. It's a daily irritation.

The Convert Units iPhone app has been indispensable. Love. 

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Orla Kiely Inspirations

Her designs are so en-vogue that you can even buy a DAB radio in the multi-stem pattern! And I will confess to owning two of her handbags. However, I haven't been able to purchase Orla Kiely fabric so I decided to use her designs as inspiration for some needlework.


Her lovely designs, handbags and more can be found here (and visit the shop in Covent Garden, it's lovely) http://www.orlakiely.com/uk/

A note on how I did it: I transfered the design from postcards to graph paper for cross stitch and pattern paper for applique. I was also very fortunate that Nanny (my late grandmother) gave me her stash of old embroidery threads (from the labelling most of which I suspect are older than me!) so I had a wide range of colours to select from without stepping near a shop. I appliqued the designs to simple cushion covers. I love how these worked out but having lived with them for a few months I can't tolerate the colour I used and have relegated them to the airing cupboard. I plan to repeat the project with higher quality, less blue home furnishing fabric... you know, when I have a spare hour or three!

Woo hoo here's the sun

At long last we have had a warm sunny day. I'm sitting in the garden and all is well.

Tucson Botanic Garden, source: Vasenka via flickr

Friday, 11 May 2012

Quilts for Fabulous Kids

For him...

Last year I made quilts as Christening gifts for my niece and nephew. It was, as usual, a bit of a rush to get them finished and wrapped so in all the haste I forgot to take photos. I am therefore absolutely delighted that my sister-in-law just sent me some photos of the quilts. She has enough on her plate looking after the kids without me pestering her for pictures that flatter my sewing ego!

For my nephew I made a Charm Squares Baby Quilt (don't tell him though - he's nearly 4, not a baby!).

I got lucky with the material in my stash at the time. I had splurged on gorgeous fabrics from Celtic Fusion Fabrics - an affordable indulgence with their Fabric Smallies. The fat eighths in these packs are perfect for cutting up for the right size charm squares and half squares.

This quilt used one pack including some prints from Carolyn Gavin's Spring Street Collection (I've link to a posting on another site back in 2011 as the fabric is no longer available on the Celtic Fusion site), some lovely bright dots and stripes - I think both were from Kauffman - and a Tanya Wheelan white spot on blue. The sashing is a solid ecru, the backing is a green gingham, and the binding is orange spot on red.

I loved using this pattern and have every intention of doing it again. It's so simple and really allows the fabrics to shine. My quilting could be better but it was the first time I'd tried free motion quilting!

As the quilt is for a very special occasion I hand embroidered my nephew's name on one of the squares. 

For her...

For my niece I came up with my own creation inspired by the hand-pieced patchwork (English Paper Piecing) my Mum created when I was very small. I used various scraps of pink fabrics to make the flowers with this method. I then ironed the flowers flat before removing the papers. The ironing keeps the edges neat. I could then attach them to the background by top stitching the whole way 'round the flower in a zigzag stitch. The background is a patterned white and the backing is pink gingham.

See that pink gingham flower in the centre? That was the fabric decorating the jar of sugar almonds I was given as a wedding favour at my sister-in-law and her husband's wedding. Their little girl has a bit of their wedding in her quilt. And her name is hand embroidered on one flower.

I'm not entirely happy with this quilt. I used some cheap batting and it was a big mistake. It has too high a loft so the free motion quilting didn't work well. I just wish I'd learned this lesson on a less significant project. Ah well, it's still cute.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Everything you need to change a dolly's nappy (diaper): tutorial

My eldest daughter and my niece love to play dolls. They push them around in buggies, give them milk and change their nappies. So when I saw this dotty dolly diaper post from Gail at Probably Actually I knew I had to make some. And then having retrieved Treacle's changing mat from Poppet's hands again decided that Baby (we aren't very creative when it comes to naming toys!) needed a changing mat too. Oh, and a little pouch for the wipes.

Nappies for a 12" doll, mat, wipes and wipes pouch. Jersey nightdress exterior, solid pink cotton and pink gingham lining.

Nappies for a 16" doll, mat, wipes and wipes pouch. Exerior in Meadowsweet by Sandra Henderson for Michael Miller fabrics. Lining in double layered cream cotton lawn.


See dotty dolly diaper post. I made mine using pattern piece H from McCalls 4338, extending the tabs and adding velcro following Gail's advice. The pattern has a 12" doll option, and a 16" doll option - the pink ones above are for a 12" doll. The green dotty ones below are for a 16" doll.

Nappies for 16" doll. Meadowsweet by Sandra Henderson.


See dotty dolly diaper post.

Doll wipes made from flannel and edged using an overlock stitch.

Wipes Pouch - oh so easy!
materials for making the wipes pouch

1. Cut two pieces of fabric and two pieces of medium weight fusible interfacing 6" by 4". Fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric.   

2. Cut a circle from the centre of one rectangle. I did this by folding the rectangle in half, and then half again, and cutting away a quarter circle from the folded corner. Finish the inside edge of the circle with a fairly narrow zigzag stitch.

3. Place the two rectangles right sides together matching all edges. Stitch along all edges with a .25" seam. Finish edges with a zig zag stitch or pinking shears.

4. Clip corners and turn right-side-out using the hole made in step 2. Press and stuff with adorable little flannel wipes.
    Wipes pouch. Meadowsweet by Sandra Henderson.

    Changing Mat - a really quick tutorial...

    • 9" x 13" of an exterior fabric and a lining fabric. The fabrics can either be a single piece or patchworked from scraps.

    • 3" x 3" exterior fabric

    • 9" x 13" batting or fusible fleece
    • 1.5" strip of .5" velcro
    1. Cut one piece each of exterior fabric, lining fabric and batting, all the same size. Cut one piece 3" x 3" for the tab that will hold the mat together when folded.

    2. Take the tab and press one edge .25" to the wrong side. Fold and press the adjoining sides .75" to the wrong side - they should meet in the middle. Fold in half and press.

    3. Top stitch three edges, leaving the raw edge unsewn. Cut a 1.5" piece of velcro and stitch the hook part to the finished end of the tab.

    4. To attach the loop half of the velcro to the mat, take the exterior fabric and mark a point 2" from the right and 1" from the top. Align the top right corner of the velcro to the mark you made and stitch in place.

    5. Layer the fabric - batting, lining right side up (there are two layers of lining in the photo because I was using cotton lawn and needed the extra weight) and exterior fabric right side down with the velcro in the top right corner.

    6. Take your tab and place it between the lining and exterior fabric, in the top left corner, 2" from the edge, velcro side down, raw edge aligned with the raw edge at the top of the exterior fabric.

    7. Stitch all layers together with a .5" seam. Leave a 3" gap in the stitching on one edge. Trim seam allowance, clip corners and turn right side out. Press under the unsewn edge  and top stitch around all edges. Press.

    8.  Fold in half, and half again, and use the tab to secure.

    Changing mat. Meadowsweet by Sandra Henderson.

    Copyright 2012 Poppet + Treacle
    All rights reserved. For personal use only. Please do not sell items made from this tutorial unless permission has been given. If you wish to sell for charity that's fantastic - go ahead! I'd love to hear about it too.

    Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives

    Sunday, 29 April 2012

    KCWC Spring 2012 - Dress

    I got brave. I did it. It worked!

    Pattern (Burda kids 9551), dress fabric and notions purchased from my local fabric shop - Masons.

    I'm really pleased with how this turned out. I've been having a lot of trouble buying clothes for Poppet because she has a long body and a small waist so I knew I'd have to make some adjustments to the pattern. I managed to make the perfect size by cutting the pattern to age 3 width, age 4 length in the bodice and age 5 length in the skirt. I fully expected to need to shorten the skirt  as Poppet's legs aren't long, but nope, this was fine!

    Given how awful the weather is at the moment I'm glad it can be worn with leggings.

    The bodice and straps are interfaced and fully faced giving it a nice professional feel. I hand-stitched the hem to keep it light and tidy. The zip fitting isn't great as I don't have a lot of practice under my belt but it looks OK from a distance, and it works!

    I'm definitely going to make another one, if only to practice the zip and piping. Poppet loves it.

    KCWC Spring 2012 - Skirt

    I was feeling a little intimidated by the dress I was about to sew for Poppet. I had chosen Burda kids 9551 and I had all the pieces cut but I just knew it was going to take a lot of concentration and more hours than anything else I've sewn lately. My last three attempts at a classic commercial pattern (by this I mean the like of Simplicity, New Look etc rather than an Oliver + S pattern, or one by a blogger such as Rae) have been complete disasters. I made a maternity dress I only wore twice, a dress for Poppet that a year on is still waiting to be rescued from half-completed oblivion, and a gift for a baby that went in the bin.

    So I procrastinated and made this instead.

    It's the No Hem Skirt from Little Girls, Big Style by Mary Abreu. Hardly the kind of thing you need a pattern for, but it was nice to find something I could make with only half a metre of this lovely fabric (sorry, can't remember what it is!). I did have to go out and buy a coordinating solid even though only a little was needed.  I have a large stash that nevers seems able to produce a complete garment.

    I made the 3T, and it fits perfectly. I plan on making a lot more of these but before I do so I need to get hold of some non-roll elastic. The elastic on this one is already rolling so it will be replaced as soon as possible!