Sunday, 30 December 2012

Goodbye Christmas, Hello Birthdays.

Just about got all my Christmas present making done (by the skin of my teeth), so now we are back to birthday cakes.
Matthew has had a long standing request in for a robot cake; “not a cake with a robot on it, but a cake in the shape of a robot”. Got it?
So here it is – from inception – Matthew’s sketch (about 11:00 this morning) to completion at about 9:00pm.
Sketch In Progress
In Progress 2 Finished Cake
There is nothing you cannot do with a lot of chocolate and enough silver sugar spray!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Bit busy

I seem to have been caught out rejoicing over the return to school, and still haven’t achieved anything like as much as I thought I would by now. Apparently weekends are full of family activities, while weekdays are challenging, and full of Robin, even if Piper is at pre-school part time. Christmas? What Christmas? And as for ever finishing off the decorating – well that needs Robert and I to find curtains that we can both live with.
On the plus side we had a lovely cold wet holiday in South Wales, with lots of family.
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And my own personal golden moment – watching Matthew do actual sewing for his homework.
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My inability to photograph finished projects before they leave the house has struck again, but the objective was to clothe a pirate model (which he had made) using different materials – e.g. soft, strong, waterproof. This is Matthew sewing up the fake leather trousers. We also equipped him with a red t-shirt and a waterproof poncho. It was great.
I also made another phone case, and sent it off to its new home without photographing it.
Now I really am focusing on Christmas (and decorating), honest!

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Leaving Home

If only for day. Today my Mum and I are going to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace, which means that Robert has be Full-Time Parent for 24 hours.
Tiago Bag
This of course meant that I had to do every thing I would normally do on or by Saturday by 6pm on Friday so that I could catch my train. But this week, on top of making sure that the children all have sufficient clean clothes and meals available to them while I am out of the house, I had to add making a birthday bag and accessorising a fancy dress costume as Matthew has a party to go to this afternoon.

The plus side of all that drawstring bag making is that I managed to rattle out a couple of stripy drawstring backpacks one afternoon – and I only need one this week!

Having found a bandanna, a shirt, and a belt and sash (for Matthew to choose from) I felt compelled to make him a proper pirate hat using a tutorial I found online. I already had a worn out black vinyl coat ready to cut up, and absolutely no time, so what could be better?

Hopefully Matthew will wear it as gracefully as Rupert the coat-hanger.
Pirate Hat2 Pirate Hat1

Friday, 12 October 2012

Christmas? Done!

Of course, it is not my Christmas that I have finished, just somebody else’s.
Christmas Bags

That heap of festive fabric I showed you in the last post turned into this:

Christmas Bag - solo← Which are actually 50 of these.
The purpose of this was to provide, lighter, re-usable and more durable "Shoe Boxes” for a local organisation called Hopestonia to use to send Christmas presents to the children they help in Estonia.
This was a fairly slow moving project, mainly through procrastination, but also due in part to trying to work out what fabric to use, and how to reduce cost as much as possible. Then my lovely (and now closed) local Salvation Army shop had an unexpected donation of LOTS of Christmas stuff (in May/June) including lots of small remnants of fabric. They gave me everything I needed. All I had to do was launder it, unpicking the existing seams and iron all the fabric.
…And then work out how to cut all the slightly random bits of fabric into fairly consistently sized bags, actually cut them, sew them up, fold and sew again, thread the ribbon, stitch it down and hand them all over!
Now I just have to work out what I am doing about our Christmas.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Back to school!

Which I have discovered also means back to productivity! I was so relieved – after a very busy, but somewhat underachieving summer (at least in terms of sewing) I was beginning to worry that I would never be able to complete a project again.iPhone Case

Apparently all it really took was space to work in again (now the lounge/dining room is back) and a severely reduced number of children around the house during the day. Matthew and Piper were back in school for 2 days during which time I was able to set up my work area again and actually make a long overdue birthday present – just in time for needing to actually give it to my sister in law at the weekend.

Christmas Project 2012I am now working my “big project” which I have been organising for months, but have just got to grips with (which is just as well, because my deadline is the end of this month).
More to follow once it is complete!

Sunday, 16 September 2012


You might have thought from my extended absence on my blog that I had been enjoying the summer holidays and making the most of the sea-and-country-side in which I live. Not so.
Our August project (while the children had a holiday with their grandparents) was to strip out our lounge and repair all the damp related damage before redecorating. In our plan this was going to involve about a week of very hard work. Instead, having done all the prep and most of the remedial work (replacing joists and floorboards) it turned out we were also going to have to re-plaster immediately.
What with the plastering (which is beautiful) and Robert having to go back to work it took until the 31st August before we had the new laminate flooring down in this room, and properly September before we actually had furniture in it. This meant lots of eating in the garden or in the kitchen, and cosy rainy afternoons, snuggled up on my bed with the children, watching “Herbie Rides Again”.
Lounge montage
We still need to paint, but that is going to have to wait for real life to recede again (and for us to make our minds up!).

Friday, 3 August 2012

Holiday anyone?

About 47 practice buttons holes later I finished off my cushion commission. Apparently I didn’t photograph the finished articles before sending them off, but they looked like this, but with more cushion-i-ness (and slightly greener). Button

After that I rushed to complete my niece’s birthday bag, which I also forgot to photograph, but it was great.
Then I had a holiday, so of course I travelled around London with cake making paraphernalia and produced this (with a little help from my sister).
Beach Cake Front Beach Cake Back
And now we are home, and resting. Kind of.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Summer is here

Well, the holidays are anyway (3 hours and counting). And the sun has been out (interspersed with cloud) for nearly two days now!
However, in our final mad dash before the end of term Matthew and I finished our projects for his TA (teaching assistant). I am not normally a gifts-for-the-teacher kind of person, but Matthew’s teacher left at Easter and they have had about a million supply teachers since then, so the TA has been really important to the class (besides being lovely, and really good with the children).
Out came the reversible shoulder bag again, just in a different colour way.
Reversible Bag - Black & Yellow Reversible Bag - Yellow & Black
And Matthew made a Thank You card too. (Shown tied up with string to the bag).
Thank You Card

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Button It!

Or be careful what you wish for…
This whole doing sewing for other people and getting paid for it notion seems to be coming together, which is brilliant, but frankly terrifying.
I made Sue's tea towels a couple of months ago, which was a good and non-complicated start. But now somebody to whom I am not related (and is also my husbands boss) wants work done!
Mostly it is all straightforward, and essentially things I have done before… straight lines to adjust a tablecloth (Done!), and some cushions (which I made LOTS of for Christmas). Except that these ones need buttons. Which means buttonholes. And that is all new to me.
So I spent a lot of time reading about buttonholes. And being told how an automated machine does this really easily. And then looking at again for completely manual instructions. After reading lots – some of which made sense and some of which was a bit of a reach – I found this photo tutorial which really brought it all together!
So then I started practising:
Buttonhole 1 Not bad for a first go, but a bit rough and far too wide
Buttonhole 2 Quite a good fit, but not enough stitching and my spatial awareness with the direction of the zigs and zags was completely off.
Buttonhole 3 Again, not too bad, but too close to the centre line so I managed to cut the stitches while opening the hole.
Buttonhole 4 The tension was utterly wrong for this one – which is why the white bobbin thread is visible all down one side.

I am blaming the small money who insisted on sitting on my lap for this stage.
Buttonhole 5 Better… apart from the really wonky bit. Time to try with the “real” thread (i.e. NOT PINK).
The key improvement here was that mum suggested making the bar tacks (the long stitches at the top and bottom) first, and then the side stitches. It all balanced much better after that
Buttonhole 6 Better again! Spacing is right; just needs a little more practice and refinement. Also not sure it is the right colour thread. Hmmm.
Buttonhole 7 Nailed it! Now I just need to stop procrastinating and make the real ones.

(Oh, and learn how to take photos that all look the same colour when finished.)

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Bookmark this!

It has been a month of sorting and planning rather than undertaking large projects. I have made myself new “byGaenor” tags to sew into my products, I invoiced for my first commission and I made a big list of all the things I need to make over the next month or so.
Starting with these for the school fete.

Robert was kind enough to say they even tempted him to put down his kindle and read a proper book, just so he could use one. Think these too might make a good addition to the shop, especially as they were so easy to make (once I put a sharp needle in my machine and solved the knotting thread problem).
Here’s to the next three weeks of making – before the school holidays start and I get nothing done.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Back in business!

It has been a while, but I have now (finally) updated my Folksy shop. We managed a photo shoot back at Easter and it has taken me until now to get focussed on putting the photos, descriptions and shop all in the same place.
It looks like this:
(models not for sale)
screenshot - shop
There are a couple more things to come later this week (tea towels, a reversible bag in Amy Butler Love Sunspots) and in between birthday presents I intend to add some Baby Bunting. Hopefully I can work on getting word out there and people will want to buy something.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

It’s been a busy week.

I approached this half term week with some trepidation, as there was just so much to do!
Jubilee Cake 2
We started out with the Jubilee weekend, and the grand cake making.

Stripy Drawstring Bag

This was supposed to be followed by a day out in the New Forest with some grandparents, but Matthew broke his toe on the Bouncy Castle at the Jubilee Party, so Monday was cancelled. Instead we made another stripy back pack for a birthday present.

Baby Bunting-AliceThen we had lovely visitors and some horrible weather which we combined with making more Baby Bunting for a new baby and tried to have a picnic on the most ridiculously wet day of the whole week.
Six CakeBakingHaving said goodbye to Grandma and Grandpa, we made cakes like they were going out of fashion (2 birthdays this weekend), and Butterfly Cakepersonalised them! (Gotta love ready roll coloured icing).

Birthday GirlA bit of frantic beaching, an outdoor birthday party and then a family tea for our own birthday girl and we are about done…

Roll on school.