Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Last Christmas Tree Skirt of 2007!

Well Christmas is nearly over in the Rachael Rabbit workshop and I will be concentrating on some Easter and spring goodies now. I'll post more pictures of the Christmas Tree skirts on my website soon - but for now - here are some snap shots.

a baby polar bear
Santa and Rudolph around the tree
Santa in his sleigh
Cupid and Dancermachine embroidered skirt with bow detailWhere does Santa live?Santa's housethe reindeer are waiting for Santa
polar bears in lovesnowmen like to give gifts as well
bow detaila very christmasy patchwork reverse
HAVE A GREAT HOLIDAY SEASON - I am now off to the UK and will be back behind Bernie in January!!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Recycling for Rabbits

After falling out with Bernie rather badly last week. I decided that perhaps he would like to come with me at the weekend instead of staying in the city - perhaps he missed me. So off we went together - and we seem to be firm friends again.

I have been pouring over my craft books and on Saturday I was reading Denyse Schmidt Quilts: 30 Colorful Quilt and Patchwork Projects again. (I am trying to organize my thoughts and ideas so that in the new year I am ready to go with a whole list of creative projects and gifts!) Suddenly, and quite randomly, I found myself boiling old sweaters and making rabbits - these rabbits are loosely based on Denyse Schmidt's "Steve" pattern (see the three Steve's below.)
I seem to find making rabbits rather fun and these are definitely more quirky than any softie I've made before. Aaron and I are still giggling at the "pink disco ballerina" rabbit - she just looks like she got SO over excited dressing up in pink things. Perhaps too much pink?

One of my new years resolutions will be to make more things from recycled materials. Stay posted to see what wonderful (or strange) things are produced!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Advent Calendars

When I was little the advent calendar was one of the highlights of Christmas. First we had the kind where you open the little windows to reveal a different picture .... then the chocolate advent calendars - which were a huge luxury upgrade (and it was hard to resist eating all the chocolates at once) ...... then we had the super duper Daddy upgrade. Daddy made us an advent calendar of boxes and in each box was a little gift ... perhaps a chocolate bar in one or a pound note or a party popper. Daddy's advent calendars were the best .... and it was confirmed that advent calendars were indeed one of the most exciting parts of Christmas.

You can read more about the history of the advent calendar at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advent_calendar

A couple of years ago I made our nephew Cullen his very own advent calendar out of felt. Although I was pleased with the end result I had not thought about what a large piece of chocolate each day can do to a toddler's sugar level - and the fact that I am still not able to restrain myself from opening all the windows at once and scoffing the chocolates - so what hope did a 2 year old have!!
So this year I decided to think about this a little more - take out the danger of sugar - but try and make something just as pretty and exciting. So here are this years personalized felt advent calendars with no added sugar. One was for Finlay's 1st birthday.... .... another for my sister's birthday ...
... and the other I sold on Etsy (woo hoo!)

Jeannie asked for the word Peace rather than a family name - so I made a little felt dove carrying an olive branch too. I think that the word Peace was a lovely idea for the calendar.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Birthday Napkins

I think I have found my new super gift ...... I love these napkins that I inflicted on my sister-in-law Emily for her birthday. I used the same Molly's Handmade Napkins pattern from the Purl Bee. They are 16"x16" and made from egg blue linen with Moda's Shangri La Oasis Green as the trim.
I am currently making some more from chocolate and cream linen bordered with Hoffman's Essential Vines in cream. Yum.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Make your own Posh Polar Bear ...

My dear friend Elaine asked me to make her two knitted teddy bears. I took this opportunity to make up my own pattern. I wanted to make a bear with a big cosy belly and shorter legs.
I'm not sure why I wanted a short legged, big bellied bear .... but I think I achieved my aim. I think he looks like a polar bear.
His jacket is jolly posh (I was rather pleased with this pattern) ... so he is a posh polar bear.
You can make your own posh polar bear from my patterns page. I did check the pattern when I made the second bear (he/she is still waiting to be dressed) ... so you will have to let me know if there are any errors!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Making Molly's Handmade Napkins

After reading kimmymade (and seeing her stripey bunny) I was introduced to the Purl Bee (be prepared to get addicted) and I fell in love with the idea of making Molly's Handmade Napkins. Before I could start sewing I needed to make bias tape. I read the instructions on my bias tape maker and ...... started ..... it all went a bit horribly wrong. So I've made my own instructions on my patterns & recipes page to make sure your first bias tape experience doesn't go as wonky as mine!! AND sewing in straight lines is not easy. There were many squeaks of frustration. But look at my lovely picnic napkins - I am unsure if there is such a thing as a "picnic napkin" but I call them picnic napkins because they are 11" sq and they would be perfect to take on a picnic!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Some completed Christmas Tree Skirts .....

I have finally finished some Christmas Tree Skirts - here is the original design ....
.... and the finished product!! The skirt is reversible with a felt scene on one side and a quilted patchwork design on the reverse. The patchwork has a decorative silver stitch along each seam. It looks quite pretty underneath the tree. Although I am pleased with the finished result - I think I have decided that I will use more symmetry in future Christmas tree skirt designs.

I have also made two Christmas tree skirts from recycled silk ties each skirt has a velvet reverse. I would just like to mention that it is REALLY hard to photograph silk and velvet - the light catches each lump and bump and my photographs show wrinkles you can't even see. I think a lot of it is down to the high sheen of the fabric. Does anyone has any ideas how to make this easier in the future?

This white silk skirt has a green velvet reverse, crimson red rope trim and very decorative white fasteners. I have to thank Sarah for this idea - I think it is really effective and they are so pretty you can actually have the fasteners at the front of the skirt rather than hiding the seam at the back of the tree!

This Christmas tree skirt was made from silver silk ties. The reverse is a warm charcoal grey color. It reminds me of the color of Russian blue puddy cats. The rope trip is white, blue/grey & beige and the fasteners are a similar grey color!

I have also decided that I need to start documenting my patterns - and I plan to start posting them on my website on my new Patterns & Recipes page.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Merry Christmas .... I mean Merry Stockings

I was SO excited this morning to receive an e-mail from MerryStockings.com who have posted an item about the history of Christmas tree skirts on their blog and used one of my photos!
I'm also eager to finish off my latest Christmas tree skirt designs - but has been delayed due to being cruelly forced to live in the city this week ... and I forgetting to bring in vital sewing equipment ....... scissors ...... pins ...... you know the basics!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Watercolor note cards

Believe it or not I did actually spend a short stint at Winchester School of Art - being 19 and being more focused on my current beau and with my usual unwillingness to compete against my peers .... I left and headed to work at IBM instead. (Which on some mysterious path led me to Aaron and to live here in the US.) I often toy with the idea of perhaps going back to art school .... but spending 4 years and a great expense to achieve I am not sure what ..... that idea hasn't actually materialized yet. However I do really enjoy picking up a paint brush now and again .... and so last Christmas my mother gave me some water color paints and inspired by an artist (Mary Barnes) we saw in Maine this year ....... I began experimenting. The word experiment is key here ....... so give my artistic flair a moment or two to grow on you. (Detailed pictures can be found on flickr.)

I spent some time just playing with the paint and the different brushes to see what they might do. My first piece I call "pink tint" ...... I cut up the brush strokes and made a little patchwork out of them - added some sewn details and some magazine flowers. It is not a work of art that will ever be purchased by the Met - but it has inspired me to perhaps take that course in collage I've always wanted to attend at Parsons .......
The second is based on our back garden - basically a sunny green bed of weeds and flowers (soon I shall attack it) ....... I quite liked this picture .....
.... but ever thinking of finding something crafty to make ....I thought this picture might look rather nice cut up and made into note cards. I've called the images "Summer Meadow" I think they look rather sweet.
With the success of these little note cards I decided to try this again with another dodgy sheet that I had been playing on (with hand cut foam shapes) ....
..... these note cards are called "Hearts" ..... I thought long and hard about that title for the group!
I'm actually quite pleased with these - they are now wrapped up in little bags and look scarily professional ..... a nice little gift for someone I think. Of course I will post them on etsy soon.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bernie and just one or two half baked oven mitts ....

I finally made a decision to get a new sewing machine (thank you Jennie for all your advice) - I love him - he is called Bernie (for Bernina) and so far he is behaving himself very well and being very polite ... although it seems that producing straight lines is down to the skill of the user and can not be blamed on the machine.

So all enthused I went to a machine quilting course on Sunday at the City Quilter (which was really a bit slow for me and I think in future I'll be looking for intensive 1:1's with Jennie instead) ...... and armed with a knowledge of the walking foot and darning foot .... and trying not to be too nervous that I can't even do a straight line or a small curve ......I decided to find a little project that would help me practice ...... and I found "the oven mitt" in Denyse Schmidt Quilts: 30 Colorful Quilt and Patchwork Projects .... a project that apparently everyone in the world has made! ... just google oven mitt!

Anyway .... having got over the fact that I am not unique or inventive ... I made my first oven mitts .... I can't do straight lines ....... but they look quite sweet from a distance (I think photography might be everything - although flickr does insist on cropping everything off into a square).
I then tried some pretty flowers (programmed decorative stitch on Bernie).... some free hand swiggles .... and some more straight lines .... the mitts have certainly helped me get more comfortable with Bernie ... but now I have 6 half baked (ha ha) oven mitts ...... so beware if it is your birthday soon!!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Burt and Bazil the naughty puppies

I found these naughty puppies playing in the garden this morning. They are called Burt and Bazil. I like their wrinkly floppy ears. I believe they are looking for a good home .........


As summer comes to a close ..... its time for fall .... and Halloween (to me) is SO exciting .... so I have enjoyed making these patchwork pumpkins today. The pumpkins are made from sewing together recycled silk ties and measure approx 13"w x 9"h.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Animal Quilt

So here it is .... the product of many hours of sewing little pieces of material around little pieces of paper and then sewing them all together ....... I think maybe I've had this project going on for too long as I am not 100% thrilled with the result ........... I think that the elephant is my favourite animal due to his big soft floppy ear.
I have completed two patchwork baby quilts that will soon be available in my etsy store. These are really sweet little quilts and the backing is super soft snuggly white flannel.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Christmas is coming ....

Hurrah - the heat wave has broken ...... or have I hurrah'd too soon? The temperature is perfect .... its even dark and rainy - so hiding in my little cottage I'm feeling quite happy, at home and English.

I've finished the animal quilt and two other patchwork baby quilts - the only downside of the weather is that I am unable to go out and take pictures of them .... which leads me to think that perhaps another photo setting might be needed for the winter months! .....

So I've set myself a task of finishing some 1/2 completed projects ..... today it is Christmas Tree Skirts!!! (check out my Christmas Tree Skirt design page) oh another hurrah for Christmas ..... it is that time of year that we can hang dozens of sparkly things from a tree and not be judged too harshly for it!
... but before we get to Christmas there is Halloween ... and I have a feeling this Halloween will be an extra crafty affair .........

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Grace wants to dance for you ....

I am so pleased with Grace ... where as with other softies I have adapted designs I have read. Grace is 100% mine. With that said - she would like to dance for you .....
..... her final bow .....
... and now for some detail ...