Because life’s celebrations shouldn’t cost the Earth

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Felted Wool Hot Water Bottle Cosies - Applique Fun!

Love Sewing Magazine September 2021

September's Love Sewing Magazine is now in the shops and features lots of gorgeous autumn projects including these pure wool hot water bottle cosies, designed by me!

Like the majority of my creations they're made from upcycled materials, in this case felted wool sweaters.  Producing your own luxurious pure wool felt is easy, as it actually just shrinking things! Any wool jumper marked 'Hand Wash' should felt but those labelled 'Washable' or 'Superwash' have been pre-treated and  therefore aren't suitable. I source my jumpers and scarves at our local charity shop, where they also put by for me any that have already been inadvertently shrunk!  Once you've found your chosen items simply chuck them in your washing machine on a hot (60° or above) programme.

As autumn is now fast approaching, I decided on a cute 'Woodland Critters' theme using natural toned wool and fabrics.  They would also make super Christmas presents, as each family member could have their own design and they'd look equally good stitched up in much more vibrant colours.

The most exciting part of the process is adding the machine stitched details, it really brings the appliques to life!  I usually just use a reduced length straight stitch and an 'open toe' foot but you can also drop your machine's feed dogs and then free motion embroider to your heart's content.  


As ever our cats couldn't bear to be left out of anything going on, however mundane.  I was going to get a couple of pictures of the full magazine spread to share but ended up thwarted by Digby who decided to give the pages a good chewing instead!  Luckily Lola is far more well behaved and was happy just to watch his daft shenanigans.

Sunday, 23 May 2021

Applique Zipper Pouches & Bunting

 Personalised Teacher Appreciation Gifts

My daughter finishes school next week before (hopefully) heading off to university in the autumn. Schools in the UK, like many throughout the world, have spent much of the last year in lockdown. Those in the North were particularly affected, with far more closures than down South.  Some elements of the UK press would have their readers believe that teachers have been on an extended holiday over the last 16 months.  Nothing could be further from the truth, my daughter's teachers have been amazing and consistently delivered high quality lessons via Zoom whilst also being physically available in school for vulnerable students. 

It's therefore been a pleasure to stitch gifts marking our appreciation for the fabulous job they've done.  Sewing for women is pretty straightforward but I always struggle to come up with ideas for men.  After quite a bit of faffing (timewasting!) I finally decided to upcycle school badges, previously unpicked from outgrown uniform blazers.

The first 'male' gift was this pencil case.  I stitched the salvaged school badge onto one side and on the other the recipient's initials. I designed the letters in the style of an American Varsity font, which was perfect for both the school theme and masculine tone.

The second masculine gift also used upcycled school badges, this time stitched to pennants on each end of a string of personalised bunting.  It's for my daughter's very wonderful Head of Year and, whilst he may not have a use for it at home, he will hopefully find a place to hang it it in his school office.  As before I created the letters in an 'American Varsity' style also adding a red ric-rac trim and yellow tape to coordinate with the colours in the badge.  The flag fronts were cut from an old work shirt of my husband's whilst the backs used old school shirts! 

Once the men's gifts were completed I started on the women's and for these I used a cute pencil case design which I  had previously created as a pattern for a magazine.   

I wanted the gifts to be personalised, so embroidered names on the fronts rather than the original 'Write on' sentiment


Whilst I was stitching away I was usually kept company by at least one of our three cats.  Luna also seemed keen to make another appearance here at SewforSoul, so here's some bonus kitty spam!!

Thank You Teachers!

Monday, 17 May 2021

Sewing and Cats

 Two of my favourite things!

So I've finally got around to writing a SewforSoul update, having left an embarrassingly long gap since my last post! Lots has been going on here, including the sad death of Lily, our tabby cat, who often used to make a blog appearance.

Mr Larkin and I decided not to get another cat, as our human offspring will soon both be at university and my elderly father-in-law needs ever more care, so we felt it best to stay feline free......

This decision held for at least four months(!) before I weakened and we welcomed Luna and Lola, two British Shorthair girls, into our house and hearts.

When they arrived they were just the cutest bundles of fluff I have ever seen and they literally brought tears to mine and my daughter's eyes!  A year further on and they're still very adorable and fluffy, just much bigger!

Like all cats they are unbelievably nosy and are always keen to be involved in everything and anything anyone is doing.  Unsurprisingly, what they enjoy doing most is inserting themselves into the activity where they're actually needed the least! So this means they're often to be found in my sewing room 'helping' me with both fabric choices and the actual stitching....

Now you would think having originally decided we weren't having any more cats, two would have been more than enough......Not so!

We recently also acquired Digby, a little Snow Savannah boy! 

British Shorthairs and Savannahs are different in everyway - personality, size and build, fur, etc etc but Digby and the girls actually complement each other beautifully!

Views around cat ownership have definitely changed since we last had new cats, with many people now keeping their pets as indoor kitties only. I personally think that lots of cats like to have outside access, so we had our garden cat proofed by Viking Joinery using the Felisafe system. 

This meant a pretty brutal pruning back of over twenty years of growth but it was definitely worth the loss of shrubbery for the peace of mind the cat fencing provides.

Chris, the joiner from Viking, did a brilliant job and worked 10 hour days for a week in order to fit the system. He also made us a bespoke gate (& water butt lid!) for the same price as an inferior off the shelf version. He and his partner don't have cats, instead sharing their home with cute guinea pigs!  He really is a lovely guy and also gives his time and amazing joinery skills to helping at the Cavy Corner Guinea Pig Sanctuary. So when I saw some lovely guinea pig fabric over at Etsy I knew exactly what to make him for a little thank you present....

Festive Guinea Pig Bunting!