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The Teacher Appreciation Society

22 Jul

Our teachers do an amazing job.

Just keeping control over a class of 25+ children, let alone being able to to teach them anything takes super human levels of skill and patience.

Over the past week my friends have been posting some of their beautiful homemade gifts. I thought it would be really nice to do a round up of these offerings.

First up is Lucy, who created a fantastic personalised shopper. Her son wrote on the bag and she embroidered over the top. I think you’ll agree it is a little cracker.

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She also made some little sweet bags from brown paper and filled them with Jelly Beans

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Aida upcylced some tiles using blackboard paint to create these lovely coasters.

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Emma Re-purposed some plastic pop bottles to create an apple for teacher. She popped homemade necklaces inside.

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Cholpon made some lovely crochet bookmarks which she popped into cards made by her son.

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And as for us? We upcycled some old clipboards that I had found in the bottom of the cupboard.

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There is something here for everyone to have a go at. Get the children involved, they’ll really enjoy helping to make gifts for their teachers 🙂

Suffolk Puffs For Little Princess’s

20 Jun

Suffolk puffs were the theme of our latest craft gathering.

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Extraordinarily easy to make and incredibly versatile, these little beauties were so quick to create  that we had produced over twenty by the time the tea and cake was being served.

No longer content with just trying our hand at various crafts, our group has developed a social conscience.

It had been suggested in the past that we put our work towards charitable causes, and this project lends itself to all sorts of creative ideas.

Hair clips are what we decided to make.

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Mrs F got in contact with Little princess trust. They are a fantastic charity that provide wigs for children who have lost their hair through cancer treatment.

To our amazement they got back to us almost immediately saying they would love to receive some of our work and they would ensure that they went to the  children they help.

And so our humble craft group has begun to evolve from a gang of women trying out crafts, drinking wine, exchanging birth stories and feeding a ceramic pelican with beer money,  to something that might actually help someone,  somewhere in a small way.

We are becoming a mini movement and quite possibly a force to be reckoned with.

We just need to make the hair clips first 😉

A Rose by Any Other Name!

22 Oct

I had forgotten about making this gift until yesterday.

I start things, meaning to blog about them and get distracted by something else. Brain like a seive!

Anyway I get Mollie Makes magazine every month and often they contain a little project.

Earlier this year they sent a little envelope containing everything you need to make a little cross stitch rose.

It really was only an afternoons stitching before the thing was complete.

With my friend’s birthday approaching I popped to ikea to get a box frame and placed my latest creation inside.

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I felt like the frame needed something extra, so I pulled out some vintage buttons and glued them to the corners.

My friend was genuinely pleased with her gift and it actually goes really well in her vintage style kitchen.

Flower Arrangement Shopper

4 Jun

I got The Gentle Art of Stitching by Jane Brocket for Christmas and I absolutely love it. It has got lots of pretty hand stitching projects with beautiful pictures to get the creative juices flowing.

I had a flick through and found some very simple fabric flower arrangements using scraps of fabric. So I decided to give it a go.

I started by raiding my fabric box. I try never to buy fabric as it is so expensive, so use old clothing and fabrics from bedding and curtains. Really whatever I can get my hands on. I found an old dress that I wore when I was pregnant with both my children. It was a bold flower print, with lots of bright colours. So I got snipping, cutting out some of the boldest flowers. I wasn’t too precious about how I cut them out as I wanted it to look fairly organic. I found a piece of yellow gingham which I decided to use for the vase. Once I had cut out and chosen all my pieces, I arranged them onto a piece of pink fabric and pinned them.

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I used some very simple running stitches and blanket stitches to attach the flowers and vase to the fabric.

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When I stood back I realised that it needed something extra, so I added a couple of Suffolk puffs to the arrangement, plus a few buttons and a scrap of ribbon to decorate the vase. This added a further element to texture and depth to the arrangement.

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A little tip for stopping your ribbon from fraying at the ends is to very carefully waft a flame from a lighter or match at the ends and this will meld the fibres together.

Jane Brocket frames her flower arrangements but I wanted to make something a little more useful with mine, so I decided to use it to decorate a shopper.

rummaging around in my fabric box again I found some fab stripey fabric from Ikea that was left over from some blinds I had made last year. I roughly zig zag stitched my arrangement onto the front bag panel and then assembled it all. And this is how it came out!

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I am making all of my birthday and Christmas presents this year, so I think that this will be going in my pressie pile

Something Old to Something New.Upcycled Bedding.

1 May

When my son moved into his bed for the first time I needed to get some him proper, grown up bedding. A duvet,  pillow and the covers to go with them.

I saw a couple of sets  in a well-known mother and baby catalogue and just couldn’t resist buying them. I spent a lot of money on that bedding. Way more than I would consider spending now, but as first time Mother’s we have all been there. I remember spending stupid money on a changing bag, yet with Liv I just used a pretty polka dot shopper or a large handbag. Live and learn.

Anyway! It seemed such a shame that after only a couple of years this beautiful bedding was no longer of any use as The Bo was moving into a single bed.

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I didn’t want it going into the cupboard to wait for the moths to eat holes into it, so I decided to upcycle it into something that might be useful to someone else.

Old bedding and old curtains are an amazing source of cheap fabric. Whenever I am in a charity shop it is one of the first things I look through. It is even better when the fabric is just sitting at home right under your nose.

I decided to make a little baby boys set which would include bunting, a cushion and a mini quilt.

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The only things that I needed to buy were some bias binding in white and navy and some wadding. The cushion pad I already had, but you can get them from ikea for a couple of pounds.

The cushion cover was simply two panels of fabric sewn right sides together, turned right side out and slip stitched once the cushion pad was put in.

The bunting again was very simple, just stitching two triangle pieces of fabric right sides together, trimming and turning through. Then machine stitching all the bunting panels to a strip of bias binding. Done!

It was the first time I have ever tried to make a proper quilt. The first part was very straight forward. I hand stitched the panels just the way mother taught me, using pieces of card. I then machine stitched my quilt sandwich together. It was the binding of the quilt that I was worried about, particularly getting nice, neat corners. I followed this excellent tutorial by Old Red Barn Co http://oldredbarnco.blogspot.co.uk/2009/06/quilt-along-week-7.html and got beautiful mitred corners first attempt. No sweating, no swearing, no throwing my toys out of the pram.

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I finished by invisible stitching the back of the quilt to the binding and I have to say I am really pleased with my first quilt.

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It would make a pretty little set for a new baby’s nursery.

I am going to do the same with his other duvet cover which has a diggers and lorry’s theme, and I am eyeing my Liv’s up for when she moves on to a big bed.

Cathedral Window Quilt

24 Mar

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I have seen pictures of cathedral window quilts before. They are just so pretty and complicated looking. They are always something that I assumed the likes of me would never be able to make.

Then one day I found an absolutely brilliant tutorial by http://hyena-in-petticoats.blogspot.co.uk/2007/08/cathedral-window-quilt-tutorial.html It really breaks down the process to easy, bite size chunks and makes it a really simple process.

My first attempt was ok but I did find that you have to be really accurate when ironing your corners, otherwise you end up with holes when you try to machine sew the panels together.

accuracy has never been my strong point. So on my second attempt I hand stitched the panels together. Time consuming I know, but it gave me the opportunity to fudge any blunt corners thus avoiding unsightly holes in my quilt. And anyway hand stitching it meant that I could still watch the TV in the evenings. Bonus.

I had planned on hand stitching the whole quilt including the cathedral window panels using an invisible stitch. However I had decided to upcycle a duvet cover which was made from very thick Egyptian cotton. So with all the folding and several layers of fabric to get through it proved to be a tough job. I went through a couple of needles, completely bending them and I managed to shove the blunt end of the needle into my finger several times.

So a tip if you are planning on hand sewing. Make sure your fabric is fairly fine and thin so that your needle can get through the layers easily

The coloured panels are from a vintage pillowcase from my Grandma’s house. I love the pattern as it reminds me of daffodils in the Spring, the season that time forgot. Seriously! When is it going to stop snowing?

I top stitched all the cathedral windows on the sewing machine, which hadn’t been my original plan but it turned out really nicely.

This quilt is not quite finished yet. I think I will go back to it and add more panels when I have replaced my needles and let my fingers heal.

It wouldn’t win any awards but it’s mine, I made it and it does literally have my blood, sweat and tears engrained in it. So no one else would want it anyway!

What to Wear?

13 Mar

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I love a Wedding. It is such a great excuse to catch up with old friends and hit the dance floor. The Bride always looks beautiful, the mothers always cry and the speeches are always priceless.

Being a guest has always felt like a sartorial nightmare. I have spent a lot of time, money and energy trying desperately to get it right and look appropriate. With varying degrees of success.

The Chinese style dress was always a safe option and got wheeled out for several weddings. I had a beautiful silk shirt dress which got a couple of outings.

However the strapless bootylicious dress was probably a mistake.

Having babies seemed to make me completely lose the plot. Somehow you lose your sense of self and your shape has changed so you no longer know what suits you.

I did wear a dress that flattered my new curves to my brothers wedding. I felt happy in that.

But when I squeezed myself into my pre pregnancy safe option for a wedding it didn’t go so well. I was slinking around the drinks reception in my safe dress and control pants feeling pretty pleased with myself (and Breathless) when an absolute peach of a woman asked me if I was expecting.

#note to self, just because you can zip it up doesn’t mean you should wear it. And this is no longer your safe dress!

So at the next wedding I went completely the other way and trundled off looking like a cross between the Queen and Camilla at the Royal wedding.

This time around I decided I was just not going to stress about it. I randomly found some fab orange trousers in the sale at H&M for £5. They just needed to have the length altered.

So it was a trip round to Mum’s for some guidance. I really just wanted her to watch me cut them which is always the scary part. I managed to get them cut with no sharp intakes of breath and finished the slip stitching off at home.

To my relief both legs were the same length but who would be looking that closely anyway?

I paired up my trousers with shirt, shoes and bag that I already owned and it turned out to be the most comfortable and cheapest outfit I have ever worn to a wedding. I could sit, stand and dance easily.

The wedding was lovely. Everyone scrubbed up well and it is always a pleasure to catch up with old friends. Eat, drink and throw a few shapes.

Suffolk Puffs and Norfolk Broads

6 Mar

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I got The Gentle Art of Stitching by Jane Brocket for Christmas. I am in love with this book. It is full of little do-able hand stitched projects. There is nothing I enjoy more than having a little hand sewing project on the go that I can pick up and put down easily without turning the house upside down. It also means I can watch TV.

So I currently one of these projects on the go. The Suffolk puff quilt pictured above with said book

This Suffolk Puff quilt is really easy to do and the stitching together of the puffs has been quite an organic process. It appears to want to be a table runner so I think that is what we will go for.

I decided to go for a pink and white colour scheme and raided my fabric box. All of the fabrics that I have used are upcycled. The lovely thing about doing this is that when people look at it they can identify things that they have worn in the past. A Shirt from Mr B, some of Livs old summer dresses, a couple of Mum’s old tops, some vintage fabric discovered at the back of Grandmas airing cupboard and a Shirt of the Bo’s amongst other things. It’s like building a little patchwork history of you family and friends.

I Cathedral Window quilt on the go which is also entirely made from upcycled fabrics. I will picture that when it looks more like a quilt and less like a big origami project.

In other news, we are all off to Norfolk tomorrow for the weekend to celebrate my Brother no longer being 29.

It looks like rain.

No matter! We are all very resourceful people. We have Wellies, we will find something fun to do, enjoy some good food, good company and plenty of Gin and Tonic.

It is also Mothers Day on Sunday, so I am hoping that the ladies can all get a break while all the boys cook up a storm in the kitchen and watch the children.

I’ll Keep you posted on that one!

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