Project Number 2 – Patchwork cushion cover

At long last! This one was a joy because it’s the first thing I’ve done on my new machine (see me singing it’s praises here, I won’t bore you with more of that right now!) My niece had developed a crush on all things Cath Kidston and just happened to be having her 13th birthday so what better excuse did I need to buy a(nother) pile of pretty fabrics and get sewing?

I got four fat quarters of coordinating Cath Kidston for Ikea fabrics on eBay, cut four 4.5″ squares from each one and had a little mess about with them to find a pattern I liked, stitched them all together and Hey Presto!

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The back I just made out of two larger pieces of fabric, overlapping slightly at the centre, and a few buttons in matching colours.

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The thing itself isn’t really my type of thing (it’d look a bit out of place amongst the dog fluff and biscuit crumbs on my murky green sofa!) but it’s come out well, and it even looks neat on the inside thanks to my lovely new machine. In the past I’d have been doing the bare minimum of sewing required just to hold it together! I enjoyed making this, mainly because it all went smoothly, I knew exactly where I was going with it, and got there without any disasters. Oh and did I mention how much I love sewing with my new machine?!

Roll on project number 3 I say!

I’ve also been for a crochet lesson at my Mum’s this week so I’ve been practising my granny squares the past few days. My daughter doesn’t want a multicoloured scrappy blanket but wants something more coordinated so I’ll be going to buy wool at the weekend and making a start on that…

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New Sewing Machine

Hurray! I am now the proud owner of a brand spanking new Janome SMD5018. Thanks to everyone for the input about machines, I’m really glad I bought this because it seems very solid, appears to be heavy enough not to fly off when I sew, and comes with all the bits (I think) I’ll need to do whatever I do. 

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I haven’t actually made anything with it yet, apart from run a few scraps of fabric through and try out a few stitches, buttonholes etc, but oh, what  joy that was.

 After having become immune to the kadakka-dakka-dakka-dak of my old machine, the smooth hum of this one nearly brought a tear to my eye. My husband was a little perplexed by my cries of ‘Oh my god, listen to this’ – his response was something like ‘It’s OK, don’t cry you can send it back’! 

In the meantime, I’ve been a bit lazy under the weather! (mainly lazy, but I was a bit poorly for a few days) but I’ve been putting my time to good use, ahem, browsing fabric websites. 

 

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Project number 2 is set to begin, as I’ve just received the fabric in the post to make a cushion cover for my niece. Post to follow soon (It’s her birthday on Tuesday….)

 

Project number 3 may well be under way pretty soon too as my eldest has decided she wants to learn to crochet and make herself a blanket for her bed. I’m going to learn alongside her and do some squares for her or she may well have left home before it’s completed! (Cue lots of visits to Mum’s house while we get the hang of it!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The hunt for a sewing machine (advice greatly appreciated!)

Aaaargh……..! Well, as you may know I’ve killed my sewing machine, so now I need to find another, better, one. I was thinking I would have real problems given that money’s a bit tight at the minute but then I remembered that my dear mother in law gave me £100 for Christmas, so I swiftly popped that in my bank account, thinking I might be able to find a few pounds on top to get a second hand machine. Fast forward a few days, and many hours scouring the internet for information on various brands and models, and dear husband comes home and hands me another £100, having had a little win on the horses! So now I have over £200 to spend but am still none the wiser. The Bernina seems to be the holy grail of machines. but is quite pricey even for a fairly old machine. They seem to keep going for ever but I’m wary of buying too old since there must come a time where it gets too hard to get parts for, and I want this machine to last me a good while. You do see the occasional bargain on eBay but in general the late 70′s – 80′s models still go for near to £400 so I’m not holding out much hope and have been looking at other makes as well. As far as I can tell the European makes are considered to be better than those made in the far east. The 2 that stand out are Elna and Pfaff, and I’m leaning towards Elna just because of a general feeling I’m getting after reading countless sewing forums. I guess it’s impossible to know until you try it, but sadly I’m not surrounded by retailers of second and machines so an Internet purchase it will have to be. 

My head is scrambled and I feel like all I’ve done for days is trawl through reviews, eBay listings and fuzzily scanned 30 year old manuals for information that doesn’t give me the definitive answer I’m looking for! I’m currently watching an Elna SU 62C on eBay which looks to have been looked after and will be a lot cheaper than any of the Berninas I’m watching, both to buy and to get new feet etc for if I need them – though it comes with a good selection. It also comes with cams for a lot of the stitch patterns and apparently all Elna cams fit in all their machines so whenever a new pattern is invented you can just buy the cam and pop it in which I think is quite cool! 

If anyone has anything to add to the scrambled mess of information in my brain please do throw it in! What machine do you use? Do you like it/loveit/hate it?! Do you have a particular brand that you stick with through thick and thin? What features do you think are really important to have, and which do you think are overrated? I’m really impatient to get a new machine and get sewing but I’m just not good at making decisions – I’m scared of getting it wrong!

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Project Number 1

20140110_174202_1Yay, go me! Project number 1 finally completed – and by hand at that! It’s somewhat scruffier than I’d envisaged (a fact that probably applies to everything I’ve ever made) but it works and is pretty and is, in fact, less scruffy than I envisaged once I decided to hand sew it.

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I’m really pleased – with the case itself and with myself for doing it. The fabric was bought on a whim a while ago even though I didn’t have a use for it, but I really love the pattern so am glad it’s been put to good use. I’m actually quite surprised that I went for it and hand stitched it myself – normally I would have just given up once the machine went but having you lot ‘keeping an eye on me’ gave me a little bit of extra motivation. Which was great because I actually quite enjoyed doing it. Once I’d found my reading glasses, and reminded myself not to use my teeth or my fingernails when things got tough, it was kind of therapeutic, if a little long-winded!

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Hand Sewing – pffffft!

Apart from buttons, and the occasional tiny but essential repair, I’ve never done much hand sewing, mainly due to laziness and impatience, but also because I’m not very good at it. Today this is all going to change – by the end of the day I will no longer be lazy or impatient, and I will be really good at hand sewing. The saga of the Kindle case, which was going to take an afternoon to complete, continues………………………………

My sewing machine is not working :-( The tension issues have been getting worse and worse, but were generally up and down so with a bit of perseverance, and a lot of coffee breaks and swearing, you could get things done eventually. Now, the thing just doesn’t sew. I think it’s a timing issue but am not sure. Either way it’s goosed and not worth paying for repairs – this is where I have to confess that I bought my machine from Lidl for £40 – so the needle and thread is coming out, and the hunt for a new sewing machine begins. Wish me luck people, I’m not sure if the mammoth task of finding a really good sewing machine for hardly any money, or sewing something with my own hands will be worse!

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Setbacks

The elastic still hasn’t come – maybe I would be better going to ask my Mum if she has any – Project Number 1 will not be completed, nor even started, today.

So I’m feeling like this project is failing before it’s even started, but really I had said I probably wouldn’t get stuck in until the girls were back at school, which is looking like being Wednesday at the earliest now as the roof on the eldest’s school needs repair before they can reopen.

Yesterday I wanted to write this post because I felt like even if I couldn’t get on with it I would still be getting somewhere if I was blogging – after only a few days the blog and the crafting have merged into one thing in my mind – but it wasn’t to be. The netbook wouldn’t play ball, the internet connection wouldn’t play ball, the WordPress website wouldn’t play ball – nobody was playing ball and I was having a big stampy, sweary day, so at about midnight I had to give up and accept that January the 5th would not see a post going up on my blog.

To be fair I had nothing to say – no beautiful Kindle cover to show off, no amazing new ideas to share – and I still don’t really – just that I am still here, still determined, and will have completed Project Number 1 by the end of the week if I have to drive 100 miles for elastic – all the other materials are ready and waiting!

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Inspiration

This is not going to be a definitive list – it’s just ideas at the moment. I may or may not do everything on my list. I will pick each project as it comes, or maybe as the previous one ends. I don’t want to have loads of things on the go at once or nothing will ever get finished but I can envisage having a couple of things going at once eg. something a bit major that requires clearing a workspace or making a lot of mess, and something that is easy to pick up and put down that I can do any time/any place.

This is a list of ideas I’ve had so far of things I want to make or techniques I’d like to try. I’m sure more things will come to me as time goes by.

  • I really want to try Lino printing – this is a definite, I think it makes beautiful pieces of art and will hopefully tie into my handmade greetings card idea. However it’s going to require a certain amount of financial outlay so will have to wait for now.
  • I already own some glass paints and have a large sheet of acetate that I have promised to paint for my Mum to fix over an internal window in her house, so I really want to get that done – it’s deciding on the design that is slowing me down. I feel under a bit of pressure here as my parents, especially my Dad are quite arty, and I want them to approve. I also have some small squares of acetate that I hope to make some greetings cards from.
  • I would like to try to make some simple things out of wood. I want a small flat cupboard I can fix to a wall to hold small bottles of essential oils and I would also like some kind of a caddy I can keep condiments and sauces in to move them all to and from the table and around the house as required. This will be totally new to me but I think (hope) these would be manageable tasks (as long as I get some really good glue…!)
  • I will be making my Kindle case next week (more on this in my next post) and if it all goes well I would like to make a case for my daughters tablet computer, which will be a little more challenging as it’s a slightly odd shape.
  • I have a set of small wooden storage drawers from Ikea. They are bare wood and I would like to jazz them up a bit. I don’t know if I’ll just paint them, try decoupage, cover them in some kind of mosaic or what. The possibilities are endless – I’ll have to do a bit more research…..
  • I really want to develop my sewing machine skills. I’ve looked at a few tutorials I’d like to try out for making zipped pouches and I want to make myself a coin purse with 2 compartments and a small makeup bag. I also want to make myself a long wraparound skirt.
  • I would like to try out doing some embroidery. I did a few simple bits of embroidery when I was a kid but haven’t attempted any since then. I’m not sure what I would embroider – cushion covers maybe, or a wall hanging, or I could do small panels and use them for my greetings cards.
  • Macrame! Some people will say this a bit naff but I can’t think of a better way to make a hanging basket .
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