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A spot of Christmas crafting

Hello everyone, I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. I had a lovely time catching up with friends and family and eating far too much scrumptious food. As always it went by too fast! The preperations up to the days itself were fairly hectic, but I did manage to fit in a spot of Christmas crafting which I am now able to share with you. I’ll let the (sadly poor quality iPhone) pictures do most of the talking…

Knitted angel made from a kit free with Let’s Knit magazine, now sitting proudly atop our tree

 

Homemade gift tags

 

Honey cowl
Applique cushion inspired by a design from Cath Kidston
A couple of pairs of PJ shorts for the boy (how AWESOME is the dinosour fabric!! Sadly all used up now
but I am aiming to find more so I can have a pair for myself)
That’s all my Christmas crafting this year. A lot of my gifts were food-based – for example, for both our sets of parents the boy and I made up hampers full of a mixture of homemade and bought foody goodies. I am pleased to say these went down really well so i’m sure they will be repeated in years to come. Who doesn’t like food, after all!
I can also now reveal what I received from my Sewist’s Secret Santa
Beautiful merino wool, funky lace and owl buttons (of course!)

Thank you Santa! Did you take part in the Sewists Secret Santa? Feel free to share the link below once you have blogged about your gifts and if I get enough I’ll do a round up post. Thanks to everyone who took part, I look forward to seeing everyone’s goodies!

Did you take part in any Christmas crafting this year?

K xx

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Easy reusable sandwich wraps

Hello all, and happy December. Hope it’s going well for you so far. I must admit that I am not yet feeling very Christmassy, although I am increasingly feeling the pressure to get going properly on my Christmas shopping – eek! We are hopefully going to buy out Christmas tree this weekend – I really want a real one for the first time this year – so i’m sure that will help matters.

Today I have a very quick and easy project to share with you. I am not quite sure how to describe these if I’m honest…lunch wraps? Sandwich wraps? The word “wrap” always makes me think of a tortilla. Whatever you decide to call it (answers on a postcard please) this is a nifty little creation that can be used to wrap up your sandwiches/bagel/crumpets/biscuits/cake and keep them nice and safe during transort, avoid crumbs, are reuable and look so much prettier that a plastic bag. The little plastic bags you get to pack sandwiches etc in are a bug bear of mine – I find them so wasteful – and I am very pleased to have found a reusable alternative.

 
 
Guess which one I made for myself and which is for the boy… 



I used a tutorial which can be found here. The outside is cotton and the wraps are lined with PUL, or polyester/polyurethane laminate, a washable, waterproof and food-safe fabric. I bought mine from Fabritastic but there are many other suppliers. This is a great project for using up scraps of pretty fabric.

 

These wraps were made from a 13 inch square and I can just about fit a bagel or a slice of bread in. I think that the next time I make these (and I predict there will be many more to come) I would increase the size to 15 inch square. Also, I would add a fabric tab over the velcro strap just to make it look a bit neater. Otherwise nothing to add – these are a quick, easy and useful make which have been much-admired in the tea room at work! I am planning to make some for Christmas presents.

In other news, I have joined forces with Samantha Schofield to organise a creative and crafty blogger meet-up on 11th January in Nottingham. This will be a chance for creative & crafty bloggers to meet up and we will be having a craft swap, goodie bags and discussions all in a new cafe based in the city centre. If you would like to come along please get in touch!

K xx

Charlotte Kelly Skirt

Hello Everyone! I hope you all had a fabulous weekend. Last weekend I set up my sewing room and I am pleased to report that I am now back in the (sewing) game. I am also equally pleased that I am finally able to share with you my latest make – the Kelly Skirt by Megan Nielsen.

 
 
I’ve called this my Charlotte Kelly skirt because it is pretty much an exact copy of inspired by a skirt made by Charlotte from Charlie Says So. Charlie’s wore her skirt to the Birmingham meet-up earlier in the year and I loved the black and red combination so much that I set about purchasing the materials required to make my own, right there and then. The main fabric is a cotton linen blend from Barry’s Fabric Superstore in Birmingham. This was my first time working with a linen and I must say, it was a delight to work with.

This skirt has been a work in progress for a very long time. It came together pretty quickly and I actually wore it to the London meet-up on 3rd August…seen here with Paddington (proof it was summer – look at those bare legs. I feel chilly just looking at this picture now)

However, I had a serious problems with the fit of this skirt and I realised just how bad it was after I spent the whole day of the meet-up tugging my skirt down! Basically, what happened was I tried to be a little bit clever. I struggle with skirts that are fitted at the waist and prefer to wear them on my hips. So although I loved the Kelly skirt pattern, I was unsure if the style would suit me. To overcome the waist issue, I planned to extend the waistband so that it would fall to my hips instead. Turns out this was an error. You can see from the picture below that the result was a massively gaping waistband (excuse the flesh on show!!)

 
 
I have since learnt that there are differences in waistbands for skirts that sit on the waist and those that sit on the hips. Waist-waistbands are straight, whereas those that sit on the hips are curved. Makes sense, right? This was a revelation to me when Rachel explained this to me – thanks Rachel :)
 
After the meet-up this skirt was put to one side for several months until last weekend, when I picked it up again. I pinched in the waistband at each side and lined up the resulting fold with the side seam so that it looked like part of the pattern. I pinned both sides to check the fit then pressed and hand sewed the fold in place. I generally avoid hand sewing wherever possible, mostly because I’m lazy, but I was glad i did it on this occasion because the end result was pretty neat and it really didn’t take that long. I just can’t believe it took me so many months to apply this really simple fix!
 
 
 
 
A few close-ups of the details, firstly these beautiful buttons which came from Birmingham Rag Market. I was a bit scared about the seven button holes required for this skirt, but once I had done a few practise goes it really wasn’t that bad. Honest. I think that if I make this skirt again, which I quite possibly will, I would interface the button planket as well as the waistband, just to strengthen it.

 
 
 
Also my favourite feature…there are owls in the pockets! OWLS!! Yes I copied this from Charlie too, but come on, owls are my thing, it had to be done. And I’m sure I would have come up with this idea anyway left to my own devices. Maybe.
 


 
 
 
 
So there we have it, a very red Kelly skirt, finally completed. I’m a bit sad I left it so long and it is now autumn, because this was lovely to wear in the summer as it is so light and comfy. Oh well, next year! Now is the time to wrap up warm in tights and scarfs, and it works just fine with tights too. 
 
On the topic of winter, or more precisely Christmas (apologies for the C word…!), if you fancy taking part in this year’s Sewist’s Secret Santa you have until Sunday 17th November to sign up, so pop over to the link and find out what the fun is all about (and there are some handy dates there too so you ca plan your shopping!).
 
K xx
 

Sewist’s Secret Santa – 2013 edition

Hello Everyone!

Thank you very much for all your lovely comments and messages in response to my last post. We have been in our new house for just over four weeks now and we are definitely getting there. It is feeling much more like home now and I even unpacked my sewing machine in my brand new sewing room at the weekend – photos coming soon!

For now though, I am pleased to announce the return of the Sewist’s Secret Santa! I know it’s only just November and you probably haven’t even started thinking about Christmas or Christmas presents yet, but following the success of last year I have decided to organise it again – with a bit more advance planning this time. Here is how it will work and how you can sign up:

1) Send me an email to kraftykatblog(at)gmail(dot)com by Sunday 17th November with the following information – your name, a link to your blog (if you have one), your postal address and also whether you are happy to post internationally. Also, if you would like to provide a short snippet of information for me to send on to your Santa please do – for example, “I’m a sewist and a knitter, I love spots and lace and big prints”.

2) I will play Santa and pick everyone’s Secret Santa out of a (probably metaphorical) hat. I will split between people happy to post internationally and those who would prefer not to. This will not be a straightforward pairwise swap, otherwise everyone will know who their Santa is, and that just defeats the object!

3) I will send everyone an email telling them who they will be buying for, along with their address/blog link/information by Sunday 24th November.
4) Present buying! This bit is completely up to you, however please try and keep within the limit which is £5 (or equivalent internationally). You can make/buy/thrift your presents or even shop your stash – it’s completely up to you.

5) Pop your gift in the post. Don’t forget this is supposed to be a Secret Santa, so it’s most fun if you don’t let on who the present is from. Please keep an eye on the last dates for posting before Christmas…check here for last Royal Mail posting dates. The earliest last posting date is 4th December for anyone posting to New Zealand. Please try to post your parcel by Monday 16th December to make sure it arrives in time for Christmas.

6) Receive your present and pop it under the tree, or open immediately if you must, however please wait until after Christmas to share on your blog. And feel free to speculate about who your Santa might be….!!

I had so much fun shopping for my secret santa last year and am looking forward to doing it all again. If you have any questions please feel free to drop me an email or write a comment below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Ho ho ho…

K xx

Normal service will resume shortly…

We moved into our new house last week (just one day before Marie moved into her’s – there is not really a mass Leicester exodus going on, to my knowledge at least) and the last few days have been a blur of boxes and small victories – it’s amazing how exciting it can be to unpack something as insignificant as a good chopping board that has been hidden for days! I was sad to leave Leicester after over 7 years there but I am excited to move out of the city and start a new adventure.

While we are making progress with getting the house in order, I’m not sure there is going to be much sewing going on in these parts just yet. I’m lucky enough to have my own sewing room (a.k.a the spare room) in the new place, but it is currently looking a bit like this…

…a bit of work to do here I think you’ll agree! If it was up to me the sewing room would be the first to be sorted out, but unfortunately the boy doesn’t agree…
At least someone is making herself at home…

As long as Sally has a sofa and her biscuits she’s happy!

I am excited to make the new house a home and furnish it with handmade goodness. We left all our curtains at the old house and although we have managed to snag a few freebies to keep us going in the meantime, I really want to try making my own curtains. This will be a first for me though and I’m frankly a bit clueless…if anyone out there has dabbled in curtain-making I would be most grateful for any hints, tips or handy links you can offer. Right…boxes are calling…or maybe a bit of X Factor…hmmmm…

P.S – apologies for poor quality iPhone pics…if anyone has any idea where I might have hidden my camera (in a box is not a valid answer) please let me know!

K xx

Sewing with oilcloth

When my mum first asked me if I would make her a bag from oilcloth, I was a little bit dubious. Having never sewn anything with oilcloth before, I wasn’t sure how to go about it. I had read that I might need a special foot, tissue paper, and all sorts of other complicated bits and bobs. However, in the end it turns out oilcloth is not really that scary. Fiddly yes, but scary no. 
A bit of research lead me to Norfolk Textiles, who have a huge range of oilcloth in many many different patterns. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I took advantage of the free swatches they offer to order some samples and let my mum pick her favourite. She also chose a simple canvas tote bag pattern from Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts (it’s the bag on the front of cover in fact) as a basis for the bag. I ended up making a few adjustments, including chopping about three inches off the top and attaching the straps to the inside of the bag rather than the outside.
Since this was my first time sewing oilcloth, I had a bit of a practice run on a small strip of oilcloth first until I was happy with how the material was moving through the machine.
So how was sewing oilcloth any different to sewing with other fabrics? Here are a few pointers:
 
  • I covered my standard sewing machine foot with masking tape to stop it sticking. I tried attaching masking tape to the feeder plate too but that really didn’t work (note to self, if you cover up the teeth that feed the fabric through the machine, it won’t move through properly. Duh)
  • I used a denim needle
  • I found it helpful to pull the cloth through the machine slightly to make sure it fed through smoothly

Other than that, it was pretty much business as usual.

 
To make the straps, I folded the oilcloth and sewed down the raw edge. The great thing about oilcloth is that it does not fray, which means there is no need to finish the seams. It is not advisable to use pins with oilcloth because they leave a mark, so instead I marked the position of the straps with a felt tip pen and placed the straps in position when I sewed the top of the bag down. I then sewed around the straps in a box shape to add a bit of strength.  
 
Sewing this bag was a bit of a learning curve but I’m pleased with how it turned out – and hopefully my mum will be too! The whole bag was made from half a metre of oilcloth, which makes it a pretty cheap make. I also bought another half metre in a different pattern for myself, so there may well be some more oilcloth sewing happening in the future. 
 

 
 
In other news, we signed the contracts for our new house yesterday and hope to move in during the second week of October. Not long to go! I’m very excited about the move but not so excited about the packing – eep! We really need to get cracking. However today I took a little break from packing to head to Birmingham for the day. I was on a very strict budget due to the house move (plus new purchases equals more to move!) and I think I was quite restrained. I limited myself to two lengths of fabric from the wonderful Barry’s – predictably some owl fabric perfect for pyjamas, as well as some dinosaur fabric which is destined to be pyjamas for the boy, who has been requesting dinosaur pyjamas for quite some time. This fabric was perfect so I had to snap it up!
 

 
 
What’s on your sewing table at the moment? Have you ever sewn with oilcloth and do you have any top tips?
 
 
K xx

Things making me smile this week…

I wanted to share a few things that have been making me smile this week…

The weather has become distinctly autumnal this week. Everyone around me is mourning the loss of summer but me? I don’t mind at all. I may be the only one, but I’ve been rather looking forward to it! I think autumn is my favourite season. I love snuggling up with a good hot chocolate, wearing cardigans and walking amongst the colourful leaves while it is cool but not too cool. This week I wore my minoru jacket for the first time in a good few months. When I put it on I noticed that my brooch from the Birmingham meet-up was still attached – that must have been the last time I wore this jacket. It made me smile remembering how awesome that meet-up was and how great it was to spend time with so many lovely ladies. I’ve kept the brooch on the jacket – I think it goes quite well and when I put it on it never fails to make me smile. 

My Corinne cardigan is coming together rather well – it’s even starting to look like a cardigan. The way this is knitted is really interesting – the cast on edge is down the front of the cardigan (on the left in the picture) and knitted vertically across. The shaping is achieved by knitting short rows. To make the sleeves, you hold the first set of stiches on a stitch holder, cast on more to make the sleeve and continue knitting round. You then cast off the new stitches and pick up from the side to continue round the back. This makes a lot more sense when you do it – trust me! This would be a great beginners project as there is no complex shaping required, and the whole thing is done in garter stitch. Such a simple knit, but I think the finished article is going to be a really snuggly cardigan with three-quarter sleeves – perfect for autumn (I best get knitting!). The only downside is that it is now too big for me to take on the train so it’s been relegated to a “home knitting” project – meaning it gets less attention!

And finally…

Paul Hollywood’s White Chocolate and Raspberry sourdough. I’ve made a few standard sourdough’s recently but this is my first attempt at branching out a bit. Admittedly, this is a bit soggier that Paul’s version but it is TASTY. Yum yum yum. 
The other thing making me happy this week I’m not able to illustrate photographically – things are moving really well with our house, and we hope to sign the contracts in the next week or so. Eeep! I’m already looking forward to my brand new sewing room – but slightly dreading the process of packing the whole house up…gulp…
What’s been making you happy this week? Share the happiness :)
K xx

A very snuggly bunny

I think I’ve mentioned Craft Days before on this blog, a wonderful craft shop in my home town of Saffron Walden. It’s probably a good job that this shop was not open when I was growing up, because I think a large amount of my pocket money would have been splurged there! It’s great to see this shop is flourishing in my little home town when so many shops around the country are closing – a true sign of the growing popularity of crafts in general – and it has even expanded relatively recently. They sell a variety of yarns, fabrics, beads and general haberdashary, and also run a wide range of classes. Last time I was there I picked up some Fur wool from the range by Erika Knight (anyone who, like me, is an advocate of British yarn, check her out!) with the intention of knitting a gift for a small person using a pattern also from Craft Days. Now that the said small person has made his entrance into the world (and taken receipt of his gift) I can now share with you this very snuggly bunny rabbit.
 
 

I tell you, the small person was lucky to get this bunny, he is so snuggly I was very tempted to keep him for myself! Knitting with fur wool takes a little bit of getting used to as it can be a bit fiddly, but it knits up SO quickly. I think all the main peices for the bunny were complete in a couple of evenings and then the making up took a few more evenings. So all in all a speedy make. The yarn is a little bit pricy (at least for someone who until recently was quite happy with acrylic!) but definately worth it. The best thing about this yarn is that it is very forgiving – you can sew everything up on the right side, even using a different yarn if you so desire, and the stitches disappear out of sight. Magic.

I’m really pleased with the way this bunny turned out, and I forsee more on the horizon. I enjoy knitting baby toys and garments (I’m not going to lie, this is partly because they knit up quickly and I am impatient so this suits me!) and I have several friends who have recently announced pregnancies so there will be a whole heap of baby knitting happening over the next few months. I tend to stick to the same few patterns for baby knits and recently I have tended towards toys rather than clothes, as I worry clothes are outgrown quickly.

What are your favourite things to make for small people – knitted or sewn?

Or maybe you are a mum (or dad!) yourself – what were the most useful or most loved handmade baby gifts you recieved for your little ones? I would love to know!

K xx

A crafty catch-up

Well, hello there! Anyone still there? It’s been quite some time since my last blog post, but for once this isn’t actually due to a lack of crafty happenings in these parts. I’ve had lots to blog about – the Goldhawk Road blogger meet-up, a finished Kelly skirt (blog post coming soon) and a whole host of selfless makes including a couple of pairs of socks (Roobeedoo warned me that knitting socks is addictive and she’s not wrong!) and a rabbit for a small person. I am also the luck recipient of the Super Sweet Blogging Award from the very kind Rachel at A Study in Stitching – again blog post coming soon, I promise!

There’s been lots of non-crafty happenings too – the boy and I have had an offer accepted on a house (squee!) which is incredibly exciting and a little bit scary and grown up. I really love the house, the two features that sold it to us (quite literally) are the large kitchen with space for a big dining table and the open fields at the front. It’s three bedroom (which allows a study for the boy and a sewing room for me!) and has a lot of character. It’s in a lovely village which is halfway between where I and the boy work and near to Derby but not too far away from where we live now so I can still pop back. I’m now very impatient to move already, but it turns out that buying a house is a very long (and expensive!) process involving lots of different people doing lots of very slow things. We’re going back to the house tomorrow with a tape measure so we can work out where our furniture will go and if we need to find anything new to fit the space. I’m trying very hard not to get too excited, as things could still fall through, but I have everything crossed. If all goes well we could be moving in a few months time. The thought of actually packing everything up fills me with dread, but I’m sure it will be worth it….

So the process of sorting everything out with buying the house is taking up a surprisingly large amount of time, add to the fact that we are trying to de-clutter too before the move and it’s been a busy few weeks! There has been plenty of crafting being planned behind the scenes and taking place on my daily commute though. Those of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook may have seen a sneak peak of my latest knitted make…it’s growing by the day and here is the latest picture…can you guess what it is yet? (Note: it’s a lot less purple and a lot more red that it appears below, but I had trouble taking a picture that accurately reflected the colour properly).

Like others in the UK I am looking forward to a long weekend of de-cluttering, relaxing and hopefully some sewing thrown in as well. What crafty plans do you have for the weekend? Whether it’s two days or three, I hope it’s a good one :)

K xx

Have you ever been attacked by your stash?

 
*Disclaimer: This is not my actual fabric stash but a handy representation!*

This morning I had grand plans for an afternoon of sewing, starting off with PJ shorts (much needed in this hot weather) and then cutting out for my Kelly skirt. I couldn’t quite face my Victoria blazer with the heat we have had recently, but rest assured this is next on my list. I was all ready to go and was just storing away my Victoria blazer fabric on the shelf where my boxes of fabric live….when out of nowhere disaster struck and the whole shelf came crashing down, boxes of fabric narrowly missing me and my precious overlocker (luckily we were both fine). I was literally being attacked by my stash. The result was fabric strewn all over the floor while I stood there trying to hold the rest of the boxes in place until the boy came to rescue me.

The piece of fabric I had been trying to put on the shelf was by no means heavy on its own, but it must have been the straw that broke the camel’s (or rather, the shelf’s) back. The boy gave me a stern talking to about overloading the shelves – apparently they can only hold 15kg in weight. I would have protested that there is no way my stash comes anywhere near that, but comparing lifting even one of the four boxes to weights at the gym, I have a horrible feeling that it weighs considerably more. Opps. So rather than spending the afternoon sewing, I spent it clearing space to store my fabric as I am now one shelf down. The screws were pulled out of the wall by the weight of the shelf and the boy thinks it’s unlikely that the shelf will be able to go up again in the same place, so for now I am forced to find space elsewhere. Oh dear. I can’t believe that my stash has got to the stage where it is tearing apart my sewing room – not good, not good at all. I was already on a fabric diet but this has made things even worse – I think I need to join stashaholics anonymous stat!

Have you ever been forced to confront a problem in this way? Have you ever been physically attacked by fabric?! And any storage solutions other than shelves suitable for a small space would be most welcome….

K xx