Because life’s celebrations shouldn’t cost the Earth

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

We thought it must be time for tea.....

The UK is finally getting some decent weather after years of poor summers and my attention has been turning to tea and coffee cosies!  The children's great grandmother used to swear by a cup of piping hot tea to cool her down on a hot day, so as I've been sewing I've been reminded of her theory.

We thought it must be time for tea...and it was!

In homage to the wonderful weather I picked a very pastel summer scheme with lots of lovely 'sugary' colours for this tea cosy. Could it be any more girly and chinzy?

The cosy is a present for my sister-in-law and the back features a monogrammed plate with her initials. This was one of the rare occasions when I used an embroidery machine and, whilst I don't dislike the finish, I really prefer creating free-motion embroidery on my basic machine!

I have also been stitching some cosies for cafetieres ('French press' for North American readers), this one was made for my mum and the coffee cups have her and my father's names embroidered on them.

The lining is upcycled from a beautiful pink wool scarf which felted in the wash

The tiny button on top of the appliqued coffee pot came from Granny's button box and I expect it might even have come from her mother's or even grandmother's collection before that.

Mr Larkin, my lovely husband, also wasn't forgotten and I have stitched a small cosy for his dinky little one cup cafetiere.  He likes to have a pot of coffee on the go when he is writing and I thought if he had a smaller size it might help keep a check on his caffeine intake!

His cosy also features an antique button closure and felted wool lining, although in a more masculine navy and brown.  If you look carefully at the above photo you can just make out some coffee stains under the spout.  These cosies are great not only for keeping your coffee warm, they also protect your table!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Embroidered Leather Notebook

School's out!

Yippee, tomorrow is the last day of the school year and we've finished all of our teacher gifts on time!  Today's post features a personalised leather journal for George's form tutor.  I don't normally work with leather, but this is sourced from waste materials which would otherwise go into a landfill or incinerator.  

George helped me with the free-motion embroidery on the front, so it has that authentic student (messy) style handwriting!

The elastic closure keeps the journal nicely closed without obscuring the message 

Also included in the gift is a small bottle of wine and Fair-trade chocolate bar.  By this time of year I imagine even the most patient of teachers could find a use for alcohol!

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Appliqued Portrait ~ Personalised Journal

My mother has been asking if I would 'sew a little something' for her Church Minister who is retiring this summer. It was on my 'to do list' but first I needed to finish the children's teacher gifts, as the end of term was looming.  Mum however obviously felt that I needed to focus more fully on her needs and as such she sent me an email containing an offer of payment if, and when, I came up with the goods. Her email promised;

"I'll clean the bathroom and the toilet every day when I come to see you for as long as I am able and I'll make pastry for the freezer".

I normally only sew for presents and frankly if the above is the normal going rate for my work then I don't think I'll be retiring anytime soon.  I also don't think that her offer sounds particularly binding on her part.  What on earth does 'as long as I am able mean'?  It sounds rather too vague to me...hmm, I hope I can trust her not to rip me off!

Anyway, she sent me a photo of her Minister and spouse and also reminded me that in English Methodism retirement is usually referred to as 'sitting down' and this is what I came up with.....

A journal cover picturing them 'sitting down' together!

Hopefully they'll recognise themselves!

Mum and her fellow Church Stewards and Elders are going to use the journal to record their messages of farewell and thanks.

Here's a close-up, before I had added the french knot earrings....

 .....And after!

Happy Retirement!

Postscript I
Barbara is actually the retiring Minister, her husband retired some time ago, he's eighty...Who would have guessed?

Postscript II
After Mum had received the journal she decided that she also 'needed' a matching tea cosy!  You can read more about it here.


Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Linen Pencil Case

Raw edge applique & freestyle stitching

The end of the school year is now only two weeks away here in England and I am still busy sewing.  My latest creation is for a very talented Geography teacher who has just earned a much deserved promotion.

Personalised Linen Pencil Case

The cute pencil sharpener is my favourite part of the design on the front of the case.  

The back features a little globe as a fun nod towards her subject specialism. 

As usual, I had some help from bad jealous kitty. She's looking very guilty in this photo, as well she might....whilst up there she spends her whole time chasing my fingers and the thread as it spins off the spool.  Still at least when she's doing that she's not attempting to eat pins from their pot - A much more dangerous pass-time on her part!  My hair 'style' is courtesy of an old (clean) pair of tights used to tie it into a messy bun thus keeping it out of my way while I sew.  Do ya think it will catch on...?

Anyway, I free-motion stitched most of the applique details using my darning foot with the feed-dog lowered which gave the design that sketch like feel, however I then changed the foot for an open-toed applique foot and raised the feed dogs again.  You can see this foot in the following couple of pictures;

 I wanted to demonstrate that you can still get the 'freestyle effect' even if you do not have the confidence to lower the feed-dog and attempt freehand machine embroidery.  The applique foot simply has a large gap, the 'open-toe', which means you can see exactly where you are stitching.  Just reduce your stitch length and then sew around the applique pieces keeping your needle lowered and lifting the foot to pivot the fabric when you need to go around corners or curves.

Once I was happy with the design I inserted a zip and added a lining  

The whole thing was then squared up and the side seams were joined and voila....

All done!