Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Fabric Doll's House Bag

Having said yesterday that my posts tended to be written 'on the day' about very current making, today's post is a bit of an exception. It's a make that I finished right back at the beginning of the Summer holidays, as a birthday present for a little friend of Maria's. Only we didn't actually hand it over till last week, and I didn't want to post about it before it was properly gifted.

And now, since I wasn't organised enough to get the writing done at the time of making, I'm feeling more than a little hazy about the making process!

But it did start out being inspired by this make, here on Pinterest:

A very cute doll's house bag, and the entire front wall drops down completely so you can play in the doll's house.

And there is a tutorial for this over at UK lass in US, so you can go over and find instructions there. But I did change mine up a fair bit. First of all I wanted it a little bigger, the measurements in the tutorial do create quite a small bag. And secondly I decided to make more of a quilted version. In the tutorial the walls are given their rigidity with plastic canvas, but I thought I could make it strong enough with 3 layers of a quilt, and lots of stitching.

Here are a few pictures along the way, but since I think I'm likely to make another of these as part of my Christmas making, I'll maybe wait and try and explain it properly then - when I remember myself basically!

The brown underside here is the exterior of the house, and it's folded around wool pieces which are the middle section of the quilt sandwich.

I added most of the detail, and things like the handle and ties at this stage, before adding the interior of the bag - ie the quilt backing.

Here it is with the inside now added, I used wool for the inside to try and give it extra strength and quilted quite a bit to help the strength too. 

And here it is flipped over to show the exterior side.
To turn it into a bag, I just hand sewed the structure together at the edges, leaving the front wall to open down. Unfortunately, despite all my efforts, my quilted version was not quite strong enough for the 3 sided house to stand upright on its own. I tried various structural improvements, but wasn't very happy with them. A 3 sided box really isn't the strongest of structures. In the end I hand sewed up just the lower third of the front wall, so that the front wall of my house doesn't lie completely flat, but can still be opened.

You might be able to see what I mean about the front wall opening down, but not now lying flat here.

The back with a little bird button sewn on.
Then, just as fun as making the bag, the girls and I came up with some bits and pieces to put in the bag/house. These little wooden figures were an obvious choice, perfect for a creative little girl to decorate.

I don't think they're available any longer where we originally found them, but try a search on Amazon for 'wooden peg dolls' and a few options come up. 
And, inspired by reading 'The Borrowers', we put together an odd little assortment of empty match boxes, cotton reels, a spool, a little wooden bowl and a disc from a branch, as well as odds and ends of felt, ric rac and ribbon etc for decorating the dolls and the interior...

These bits and pieces could be used to make drawers or beds or tables, or in some other completely different way.

And a little collection of buttons - possibly for decorations of some kind again, or who knows what else?

I'm sure 'Homily', in 'The Borrowers' would have loved a little button collection, and would have put them to excellent use somehow. Depending on the age of the recipient, I think a copy of the book, 'The Borrowers' could go really well with this present too.
Hopefully it's a present that leaves lots open to the imagination, and can be played with in various different ways. It's definitely a present I'll put together again in the future, I think my 2 girls would both really appreciate it for a start.


Monday, 15 September 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

The 'Around the World' Blog Hop is a hop that's been travelling round Quilty Blogland for a while now. There are a few questions to answer and then you nominate 3 other quilty bloggers to carry on with the Hop in a week's time. I was nominated last week by the wonderful Jo at  Explorations in Stitch. I love reading Jo's blog and really enjoyed her 'Around the World' post. It highlighted 2 of my favourite things about Jo - she loves to create an amazing variety of very different projects; and creating, crafting, making are things that are vital to Jo's well being and happiness, that's something I very much identify with, and I think it enhances everything she makes - it's all done through, and with, love of the making. 

So, the questions... 

1.  What am I working on at the moment?

I'm taking this as being different to just a list of my 'WIPs', I have quite a few of those that are very much not getting worked on at the moment! Here's one that I have been trying to push on with recently though.

After quite a long period of neglect, I've just finished the top for this Vintage Embroidery WIP. It's made from thrifted embroidered napkins and a thrifted pink sheet.

 I wouldn't be surprised if it gets shelved for a while again now - I'm feeling a bit scared of quilting it. Quilting is never my strong point and any mistakes are going to show up really badly on all that plain, pink fabric.

We also have a bit of a love affair going on at the moment with fabric painting. The girls were busy outside last week, transforming some scraps of plain fabric.

Lovely sea blues and greens on a piece of cotton

And scraps of old muslin with whatever different patterns they fancied in some bright colours.

Spraying paint as well as brush work.
I didn't have a plan as to what I could do with it, other than that I quite liked the idea of making something sea related. But then Maria and I were making 'Thank You' cards the other day, and ended up creating this one, teamwork style:

Maria painted wavy lines, then once they were dry I drew on some fish and we both decorated them. It seemed perfect for the fabric. So I cut out lots of fish shapes, from the girls' brightly patterned muslin, and I'm going to raw edge applique them onto a quilt sandwich, then add some more quilting and a quote to turn it into another mini quilt.

Nothing complicated but I'm really liking the look of it already.

And lastly I've got a few hexies on the go. This is quite unusual for me, I don't have a huge amount of patience for paper piecing, but it's starting to feel like 'snuggle-under-a-quilt-on-the-sofa-and-do-some-hand-sewing' time of year in the evenings now. And I don't plan to do too many hexies, so hopefully I won't get fed up with them.  

2.  How does my work differ from others of its genre?

As much as I'd like my work to be very individual, I'm sure there are quilters and crafters out there doing similar things. The online crafting world is so immense that I think it is difficult to be truly original, certainly all the time. Hopefully there might be a few pieces of work that I've created that are very much original and individual to me, but I'm not going to try and check just in case that's not true, and it was all out there somewhere already before I arrived on the scene!

My work does differ from a lot of quilters in that I love to use recycled fabric (any regular readers can skip this bit, heard it all before, several times over!). 

I especially love using wools - Wool Flower Quilt
This is something that I'm very passionate about - I love it from an environmental point of view but also I love how it encourages me to be more creative with my work. And so often I just prefer the look and feel of older fabrics, particularly bright vintage prints. 

Sunshine Quilt
I also love the history that used fabric can bring to a piece of work, and it just feels really good to create something new and beautiful from something old and unwanted.

There are other quilters out in the blogisphere who have a similar passion for recycled fabric, and I really enjoy coming across them and seeing their work, but I would love it if more 'mainstream' quilters used recycled fabrics a little more often too.

I also love to use patchwork in lots of different projects, particularly when it comes to making things for my family or involving them in the making.

Rainbow Patchwork Mermaid Tail

A Mouse Picnic

3.  Why do I create what I do?

I find I really need to be creative to preserve my mental health! It helps me be more relaxed, it's my 'me' time. It focuses my mind on positive thoughts rather than dwelling on anything worrying or sad, or on things I can't influence in any way. If I didn't make the ideas that are buzzing around my head then quite possibly my head would explode with idea overload! And, being completely honest, I think part of the reason I'm drawn to making quilts in particular, is that they're something that, hopefully, will still be around when I'm dead and buried. And that's something I find comforting - but in a don't dwell on it, just keep making them kind of way!

4.  How does my creating/writing process work?

It's hard to put my finger on how my creative process works. I have a sketch book, which I try to use to scribble down ideas or drawings, but frequently it's not to hand when I want it urgently so it's full of scraps of paper with ideas on too! As to where the ideas might come from - so many places! Often ideas might be inspired by a piece of fabric or some other thrifted find, or just something I see out and about. I love pictures and illustrations, but I find the written word very inspiring too - books, stories, quotes. And a large proportion of my making is done as presents for people, and I find a lot of ideas come from just thinking about the person I want to make something for, thinking about what they like and what interests them. 

I think the main thing with my creative process, and I believe with anyone's creativity, is that the more I create, the more ideas I have, and the more I want to create.

As for my writing process... Unfortunately that usually happens very late at night (case in point!), and probably suffers for it. Strange how the more tired I get the more long winded I become (case in point again I think!). It would make much more sense to become briefer and more to the point, but that rarely happens! One thing I am very aware of with my writing is that it's always current to my making and to my posting. I know a lot of bloggers are very organised and schedule/write posts in advance. That would be lovely in lots of ways, but it never seems to happen. And part of me prefers the fact that my blogging is very much a spontaneous record of my daily making.

I think that will definitely do. Thank you very much to Jo once again for nominating me. And as for my nominating, so many quilters have already been a part of this that I'm struggling to come up with 3 new names. So, if you're reading this and you haven't taken part so far but would like to, then please consider yourself nominated. And if you do. then please let me know so I can read your post!


Friday, 12 September 2014

This Moment

Here's a link to Soulemama's moment, and here's mine...

{this moment} ~ A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
. . . . . . . . . .

Thursday, 11 September 2014

'Lets Go Fly A Kite' Mini Quilt

In our final week of holidays last week, there was an extra dimension added to our beach trips - kite flying. 

It's something we've never had any success with before. In fact it's something we've always had disappointing, frustrating failure with before, but it turns out we've never had the right kite before. 

Spot the teeny Sam figure flying it here, kite photography is tricky stuff!

Previously it's always been a cheap, impulse buy in the Supermarket. This time the kite was bought in a friendly, kite shop after advice from the shop owner. It wasn't a posh, expensive kite - and some were incredibly expensive!

It did cost a little bit more than the cheap, Supermarket buys - but it actually worked, and worked beautifully. So definitely better value. 

And we were all amazed at how much we all loved flying it.

So all last week, I had just one song in my head - 'Lets Go Fly A Kite', from Mary Poppins, of course.

It was just asking to be used in a quotey Mini Quilt. So I made a little patchwork kite to go on my, soon to be, Mini Quilt Wall.

The song is still in my head, and there's at least one more kitey make in my head now too! And we're all looking forward to the next beach trip when we can fly the real thing again.

But for now, I'm enjoying the patchwork version. Especially as I like having a few Mini Quilts that aren't standard square/oblong shapes, and it was quick and fun to make. I think it would be lovely to decorate a baby's nursery with something like this too.

Have you discovered a love of kite flying yet? If not, perhaps, like us, you just need to find the right kite for you!


Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Rainbow Party 2

A slightly belated post to go with the belated party! 

There are lots of amazing ideas and images on Pinterest for parties generally, and Rainbow themes are no exception. Take this collection for instance:

Find these ideas here
But as beautiful as all that looks, for me personally, it does feel a little over the top for a 5 year old's party. I'm not usually one to go overboard with party decorations and I'm afraid I don't have the time to invest in all that preparation for a 2 hour party either. But, our Rainbow theme did seem to lend itself to some quick and easy decorations and food preparation.

I bought some cheap, wide reels of ribbon in all the rainbow colours, and cut off strips to tie around the garden.

This one was dangling over a sand pit, with little gold nuggets mixed in with the sand - digging for gold at the end of the rainbow.

Theo decided this last lot of ribbons would make a good cat hammock...

There were a few scraps of ribbon, left over after decorating, that were perfect for a rainbow treasure hunt later in the party as well.

And food - it's just as easy to arrange fruit and veg in colour order as in any other way.

And rainbow fruit kebabs were simple too.

 As for the activities, everyone painted a bag...

Some were rainbow striped, others were different designs, like these trees.

 And there was white ribbon painting too.

These were to tie into our stick 'wands'...

To create rainbow wands, inspired by these ones here at Twig and Toadstool.

The Twig and Toadstool ribbons were coloured in by markers and then they dropped rubbing alcohol on them to make the colours run, but we just painted them with watered down acrylics which worked really well and seemed simpler.

We also used coloured ribbons to tie around old curtain rings to try and recreate this kind of idea.

These ones can be bought in this Etsy Shop

Venetia decided they made good ear rings.

She looks very dubious about them here!

But I think the most popular activity was this one:

A plain sheet hanging up, and can you see those 7 spray bottles? Filled with watered down acrylics again.

Most of the spraying was directed at the sheet! And I did make these paints very much watered down! At the end of the party the sheet was covered, and quite delicately coloured really, considering the amount of spraying it took:

But then, I'm afraid, Harry and I did a very bad thing when we went out a bit later to finish tidying up the left over paints. There were quite a few dregs left in the cans and pots they'd had for the bag and ribbon painting, and that sheet was just hanging there too temptingly!

We had lots of fun throwing the dregs all over that delicately coloured sheet! Don't tell the children!

If we'd had the party at the start of the Summer, I had been planning on building a simple teepee using the plain sheet as the fabric and getting them to spray paint directly on to the teepee. But at this stage of the year I didn't think it would be worth creating the teepee, hopefully I'll use the now painted sheet for this next Summer. And in the meantime it can be used indoors for den making etc.

We left the ribbons and the sheet hanging up overnight and it was lovely to wake up the next morning, look out of the bedroom window, and see splashes of rainbow colour out there in the early morning sunshine.

Lovely to know too that I haven't got another child's birthday party to organise for a couple of months at least!