November 26, 2009

Advent Calendar

 The festive atmosphere has begun this week and I have been out shopping more than once to find the perfect something something. Of course I have also been busy making stuff, which I enjoy just as much.One of the projects I started making was an advent calendar. The existing hand sewn one was looking a bit worn out, I probably made it when the girls were only about 6 and 8 years old! I had seen a pretty Scandinavian looking one on a blog a couple of years ago, but never quite got round to having a go at making a similar one myself until now. I used some off white wool fabric and a bright crimson embroidery thread. First I cut out 24 envelope shapes from the wool fabric and sewed them together before attaching them to a length of red bias binding.
Just a couple of mistakes were made along the way. I 'should' have drawn the numbers on before embroidering them freehand, hence some are slightly bigger than others! The second mistake I made was sewing the buttons on 'after' I had made each little envelope! Quite a tricky bit of maneuvering was required with my needle and thread for those. I got a little impatient trying to find some red buttons, which was my first colour choice but I wanted to keep sewing in the meantime as I was keen to finish. I looked everywhere for red ones without any luck, so I ended up using these little white buttons instead, which I already had in my button stash. A length of embroidery thread wraps around the buttons to tie them securely closed once I have put some assorted wrapped chocolates inside. To finish off I tore strips of red and white polka dot fabric and tied little bows between each envelope. I have attached the finished product to the chest of drawers to see how it looks, but should probably take it down until the 1st Dec. In case it's unlucky or something??
With Christmas decorations in my mind as I was browsing in a local hardware shop (looking for the elusive tiny red buttons!) I found this lovely cotton runner that I wanted to show you. It is by Martha Stewart and is quite Scandinavian themed too. I think it will look great on the dining room table for Christmas dinner and also for Amber's birthday party.This weekend I shall be working on altering and adding to Amber's costume for the play, the dress needs to be taken in and I was so lucky to find the perfect petticoat or crinoline in my local thrift store for only $3!!
It is a full length one made to go under a wedding dress, the top is tiered cotton with netting layers underneath and it fits Amber perfectly. I still need to shorten it quite a bit so it just peeks out from under her blue dress, giving it plenty of fullness.
Tomorrow is Craig's company 'do' which should be fun. Christmas dinner and a live band with possible dancing with a bit of luck.
Amber is just a few days away from her 16th Birthday on Dec 1st. The planned party has been postponed until after the school production when she can relax and celebrate with a few friends from school and I can decorate the house for the event.
Hazel x

November 15, 2009

Snipping and Stitching

Before I get onto the subject of sewing, I have to admit that I was a bit of a plonker a few days ago. I'm not a particularly hairy person, but when I discovered a couple of tiny WHISKERS on my chin the other day (cute on kittens only) I had to take action! So, I decided to try a nice 'gentle' facial hair remover NOT! I won't mention the brand, but after following the instructions carefully I ended up with a nasty chemical burn about the size of a penny right in the middle of my chiny chin chin! It was so painful and resembled a bright red traffic light for a few days. Anyway, lesson learnt and I am thinking that a discrete little pull with tweezers in future will suffice.
This week I have been scratching my head thinking of ways to improve my shop and income, which is not looking too healthy right now, and at this time of year it needs to be. I received some very sweet polka dot cotton fabric in the post, ordered from another Etsy seller. I decided to try it out on a new slightly different birdie design. Inspired by the colours associated with the lovely Cath Kidston I made a set of three, this time adding little felt wings and elongating the tail on my pattern a bit.
I have put one in my shop so far and shall see if it sparks any interest. I just love polka dots, they make me smile :) Also made some more white doves from super soft fleece, which are filled with a mix of poly fill and vanilla scented aroma beads. 

It won't be long before I shall be getting out our Christmas decorations, this past time always fills me with excitement. I love to unpack them all and lay them out, remembering when and where we made the very special hand crafted ones. When Jemma and Amber were young we would try to work with a new material each year whether it be paper mache, salt dough, embroidery or felt. Those decorations are the best ever as each one is filled with love, nostalgia and wonderful memories.
The question this year is whether to have a real tree, as we did last Christmas or to use our quite realistic one stored in the attic/basement? Less mess and more environmentally friendly versus lovely fresh scent of pine and a natural element in the house. I am leaning towards the former at this point, mainly because Amber is having a birthday party and would like the decorations up by Dec 1st. I am not sure a real tree would survive for that length of time over Christmas and into the new year looking fresh and remaining intact.
Other sewing projects I have on the go are a little something for Jemma's dorm room and a couple of surprise gifts, but I can't tell you about those just yet.
What other news do I have this week, not much I'm afraid, I seem to be spending more time on the computer these days with regular conversations on MSN with Jemma, face book chats/comments and looking for inspiration in numerous craft sites and blogs.
This time last year I felt that I had no time for myself at all. I missed out on all the pre-Christmas excitement and planning, everything was a last minute rush. This year is much better and I have my daily lists that I can tick off throughout the day and have a sense of achievement. It sounds trivial but it's just the way I am.
Hazel x
Now where did I put that bit of paper........

November 10, 2009

Moving on again ....

It has taken a while for me to get back into a routine again after Archie's sudden departure from my life, but it really is time to move on. Not a day will go by that I don't think about him and all the happy times, his quirky habits and soft white tummy, that smelled so clean :) I always say a few words as I am hanging out the laundry by the special tree, where he has been laid to rest underneeth the branches. Craig planted some snowdrops there which will remind us of his frisky little spirit that was always awakened in the Springtime.
Amber has been reading her many lines (over 300!) for the school play and I feel as though I have an 'Alice' in the house. Jemma is slowly winding down after a couple of hectic weeks of exams and tests. She still has another 3 scheduled for December, with her last one on December 19th when she will come home for the holidays. We spent this last weekend in Halifax to attend the scholarship presentation after she was awarded the Coy Family award for Science. With continued good marks it will be renewable for the next few years which is wonderful and she certainly deserves it after all the years of hard work she has put in throughout her school days. My little shop is picking up slowly, but of course after a years break it will take time to establish some more fans of my tiny felt animals. It as been ages since I made a 'new' animal design, I am waiting for some inspiration or a special request to add to the designs I currently make, any suggestions?
I started sewing with cotton fabric recently, My friend Terri, who owns and runs a delightful Tea Room, kindly offered to display a few of my items alongside her pastel enamel and polka dot pottery ware.
I made some little wash bags (previously sold as doorstops), tea cosies, egg cosies and cotton birds that all blend in nicely with her pastel colour scheme.
The apples are all gone now and it is so quiet around us with no sound of machinery, moving crates or the steady thud of apples hitting the barrels.
A burst of winter brought snow falls to us last weekend 10cm's in the city, but it has warmed up again to a seasonal average this week so my jumpers have been put away again for a few days.

I really appreciate everyone who reads my ramblings and all your comments (so many for dear little Archie last post - thank you)
Hazel x