Because life’s celebrations shouldn’t cost the Earth

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

My Very First Quilt - Finally Blogged!

Rail Fence in Zig-Zag

Regular readers might remember that I started my first full sized quilt back in the summer, a classic rail fence design, stitched from old duvet covers and one of Mr Larkin's work shirts.  I found the whole process of cutting out hundreds of rectangles pretty boring and moaned about it in this post!  Some kind, and very experienced, quilters suggested I should try strip quilting to speed the whole process up - Although by the time I blogged my woes, I had already started my next quilt an upcycled pinwheel shirt quilt which unfortunately wasn't suitable for this method.

I actually got the quilt finished in just a couple of weeks but I find the process of taking decent photos even more trying than cutting out rectangles.  I snapped these shots on a sunny day back in the summer and didn't really want to blog them as they make the quilt colours looks very insipid. However, I've finally acknowledged to myself that I'm not ever likely to retake them!

I've now started my next quilt project a scrappy string quilt but my lovely Bernina 440QE was pulling to the left and has been sent off for a service, so progress has been halted.  It also means that for the first time ever I'm not stitching up any Christmas presents, so I'm not sure what to do instead....

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Christmas Crafts - Sewing World Magazine 2015

DIY Quilted Dog Coat Tutorial

The fantastic Christmas issue of Sewing World Magazine is in the shops now and it's full of inspiring seasonal makes including my quilted dog coat tutorial and pattern.  I set out to create a coat that was quintessentially English, with an added festive twist! 

The coat is fully lined for warmth and I stitched mine using an old child's kilt which I picked up for pennies at a local car boot sale!  It's super easy to make and the magazine comes with a full-sized pattern, for a medium sized dog, which can then be resized on a photocopier to suit any size of dog.

The kilt buckles provide a lovely traditional feel, perfect for a posh looking pooch! 

The festive touch comes courtesy of a cute 'Santa Paws' applique! 

I used our neighbour's dog for my model - Thanks Yogi! 

The issue is on sale until 18th December, so there's still plenty of time to get your Christmas stitch on!

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Upcycled Shirt Quilt - Finished!

Pinwheel Blocks

 Blogging has taken a bit of a backseat over the last couple of months as family life has a habit of getting in the way!  I've still been stitching though, including a number of 'secret' projects which will be published in various sewing magazines over the next few months.

I've also been working on an upcycled shirt quilt which was inspired by this absolutely stunning quilt made by Debbie over at Serendipity Patch.

As I didn't want to directly copy Debbie's fantastic work, I decided to stitch more obvious traditional pinwheel blocks which suit the quilt perfectly.

I laid all my finished blocks out on the double bed in our guest room so that I could rearrange them into a pleasing 'random' fashion. However, our very naughty cat was obviously jealous of my attention being lavished on something other than her!  At first, this simply translated to her lying on top of the blocks but, having failed to distract me from the task in hand, she then decided to attempt to completely shred the blocks by scratching them vigorously with all four clawed feet!

Some of the blocks ended up with caught threads and runs and had to be swapped for new ones but the quilt is now finished and the perfect size for multiple occupants to snuggle under whilst sat on the sofa in front of a roaring fire! 

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

British Biscuits Appliqued Cafetiere Cosy

'Sewing World' Magazine October 2015

Regular readers will know that my Patchwork Sprocket Cushion was featured in this month's Sewing World Magazine, however I'm delighted to announce that another of my projects also made an appearance;

This 'Sweet Treats' Appliqued Cafetiere Cosy 

Featuring iconic British biscuits such as Jammy Dodgers and Fox's Party Rings, it's just the thing to add some fun retro chic to any kitchen.  The appliqued biscuits conjure up such memories of childhood teatime treats, I was always partial to a 'Nice' coconut biscuit although I wasn't quite so keen on Pink Wafers!

The magazine includes a full sized pattern and should the teacup not rock your boat, simply change it for the recipient's initial;

The design is also perfect for tea cosies....

...time to get started on stitching all your Christmas gifts!

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Patchwork Wedge Sprocket Cushion

'Sewing World' Magazine Feature

October's Sewing World Magazine is in the shops now and includes my 'Sophia' patchwork pillow;

I stitched it up using the stunning range of Sophia fabrics by Makower UK.  A new 1950s retro inspired collection in yummy creams, teals, mustards and pinks.  I loved using this range and the clever mix of modern and classic means that the finished cushions would be a stylish addition to any home!

The pattern is perfect for beginners as the cute little covered button cleverly conceals any mis-matched points!  I made my piping for a fully coordinated look but for a first project omit it completely or simply use pre-made.  The magazine tutorial includes easy to follow step-by-step instructions with colour photos and a full sized pattern piece.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Kraft-tex Zipper Pouch Tutorial

Washable Vegan Leather Paper

I was delighted to be asked to make a zipper pouch for this month's Buddly Craft blog post with Kraft-tex a paper product which  looks, feels and wears like leather but sews, cuts and washes like fabric.  It is basically the same material as the label on denim jeans and they often seem to outlast the jeans themselves!

I stitched up a 'Back to School' pencil case for my son and was able to use a label from a well-known British supermarket, as he has the same name as their clothing range!

Should you not have had the foresight to name your child after a shop, then you can still personalise your Kraft-tex creations as it can be put through an inkjet printer, decorated with stamps or simply doodled on.

Pinterest is full of inspiration for this wonderful material

I'm now off to order some in each of the five colours available, especially the very gorgeous black!

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Sewing World Magazine ~ SewforSoul Feature!

Back to School Zipper Pouch ~ September 2015

September's Sewing World Magazine is in the shops now and features my 'Back to School' owl pencil case and coin purse. 

The main body of the purse was made with vintage fabric salvaged from a bag of rags at my mum's house (her local charity shop collects waste cloth ready for recycling).  She bought most of her fabrics back in the 1970s and 80s although we can't place this piece, does anyone else remember it?

As always, the published article includes full written instructions with easy to follow step-by-step photos;

I'm actually a little bit late blogging this feature as I try to ensure that the school holidays are 'family time', so it's now not long until the next issue of Sewing World Magazine and I'm delighted to see that I've got another two makes being published! 

Monday, 24 August 2015

Beautiful Budapest

August 2015

In our continuing quest to expose the children to a touch of culture we took them to beautiful Budapest.  This stunning city is often referred to as the 'Paris of the East' and it's easy to see why.

The streets are full of artwork and statues, so lots of new friends were made....

Not all of the sculptures are there purely for entertainment, 'The Shoes on the Danube Bank'  by Gyula Pauer are a memorial to the victims of the Holocaust who were forcibly stripped naked and then shot into the river to be washed away.

The sixty pairs of rusted iron shoes are in mixed styles and sizes to reflect that Hungarian Jews of all ages and backgrounds were murdered in this horrific fashion.

When we arrived in Budapest, the city was experiencing some of the worst storms in a generation.  We stayed in the lovely Hotel Palazzo Zichy and had the entire sixth floor (with interconnecting doors) to ourselves, which didn't seem quite so wonderful when we discovered that the storm had knocked out the lifts.  Luckily they were back in service by the next day, unlike the the wi-fi which meant checking work emails was sadly out of the question for Mr Larkin!

Photos from

Whole districts of the city had been left without electricity, including traffic lights and street lamps, so it was slightly chaotic for the first couple of days.  These pictures make the minor breakdown in infrastructure perfectly understandable, especially as it only takes a slight rainfall (or snowfall or the 'wrong' leaves or sun etc) for things to grind to a halt in Britain.  

The weather remained wet and overcast for the first couple of days but we were grateful for the cloud cover as it made walking quite pleasant despite the temperatures still hovering in the mid twenties celsius. Towards the end of the week the sun came out and the heat soared but by then we had seen most of the sights so were happy to sit in street cafes and simply watch the word go by!

Cafe Culture

Taking in the sights

I didn't manage to find any quilting or patchwork shops but the breathtaking roof-line had some that looked like paper-pieced hexi quilts so I was more than happy to take away inspiration rather than fabric!

'Three seasons in one week weather'

We had timed our stay to coincide with the annual St. Stephen's Day celebrations and after enjoying a fantastic day of festivities we bagged ourselves the perfect spot on one of Budapest's newest bridges the Erzsebet hid from which to watch the spectacular firework finale.

St. Stephen's Day celebrations

Happy Holidays!