Monday 31 October 2011

Fright Night

Thoughtful zombie
Scary zombie

Happy Zombie
This was my zombie Zumba costume.  It was a Thriller inspired Zumba special- great fun. I used this great youtube video for my make up.   Lula has gone for a Japanese influenced Bad Alice costume, the angle here makes her appear enormously tall and Lottie, a tiny miniature dog beast
Happy Halloween what ever you choose to do. I am hoping the trick or treaters will forget our road and Damian and I will work our way through the Cadbury's treat bars!
sib blog

Saturday 29 October 2011


I am not fan of interfacing- in particular, the iron-in non woven kind.  Even following the instructions closely I find it wrinkles, and worse, melts.  It makes the bag or the clothing feel a bit stiffer but not in the way I want it too and I often end up with some sort of iron glue incident.  With clothing, I now tend to buy woven interfacing, I think it gives a more professional finish- or even an extra layer of fabric instead.  With bags, wallets, purses etc I have tended to use cotton batting/wadding, I could never find the fusible fleece that a lot of USA patterns mention.  Hearing of my difficulties, Julia from Gone to Earth, sent me a couple of generous samples of Vilene fusible fleece, what can I say, it is love at first use.  This is what I made with it.
A little camera wristlet.  The pattern is from Keyka Lou.  If you want a purse to try and you haven't made purses or wallets before, this is the ideal first project- no zips, easy velcro fastening and like all her patterns, the most excellent instructions.  I bought the pattern a while ago, along with this pocket clutch which I shall be making soon and I cannot recommend them more highly.  Both patterns call for interfacing and batting/wadding but with the Vilene fusible fleece I can skip those and use one layer of fleece- I chose the heavier H640 loft as a camera needs a good layer of padding.  When I cut my pattern pieces, I layered up the feature fabric,the lining and the fleece and cut though all three- much faster!
You can see the thickness of the fleece in this pic, three pieces of fabric all backed with fleece.  Julia kindly sent the Vilene instructions for ironing the fleece to fabric.  I think a very important step is letting it cool for 30 mins- I have not done that in the past.  It adhered perfectly, no lumps and bumps on the fabric side at all.  This fleece has a lovely feel- not what I expected, I must expect.  I am a fibre snob and tend to think natural is best but this stuff is the exception.
The biggest difference I found compared to working with batting was the ease of trimming seam allowances.  Reducing bulk in the seam allowance is vital to get a professional finish on your purse or wallet.  With this fleece, I could trim it easily at an angle and feather it away, as a result the edges are a lot less lumpy, top stitching is much easier and the end product looks better.   
I will be trying more with the fleece, the lighter weight one too which I think will be perfect for bags.  If you have had a bad experience making bags with iron on interfacing- this could be your life saver!  You know me, I like to test things thoroughly and I won't big it up unless it genuinely impresses me, this definitely gets my thumbs up!  I have found through hard experience that with interfacing, you get what you pay for.  Saving a few pennies buying the cheap stuff is such a waste when it frazzles under the iron or wrinkles with the top fabric.  I know, I've been there and shed tears! 

This is such a handy little case, I may well make another to carry my phone, keys and card when going to the gym, it is the perfect shape.  Quick to sew too- instant gratification- well nearly.  Fabric roll call- Outer fabric-Melody Miller View Finder print, lining- Chloe's Closet, Hello Betty, Strap-Alexander Henry, Heath in tomato.
By the way, can I just say- Flippin' heck Tucker! (British nostalgic TV lingo- apologies, I can't help myself), over 600 followers, how did that happen?  A big thankyou and a howdy to you all x
sib blog

Thursday 27 October 2011

Holiday Education

I think I am slightly warped when it comes to the concept of holidays.  It is half term week so along with a bit of catching up with friends, socialising and family time I set myself a list of challenges to achieve.  This is my standard holiday behaviour.  I work so hard to do so many things I often end up more tired than when I started.  First on the list is to master photoshop.  I have Photoshop elements 8 which is  a mini cheapo version of the real thing.   It is pretty limited but enough for what I need.  I worked out how to marquee elements of a photo- cutting out the bit you want and sticking it on a white background.   This was an early attempt on an old spool holder.  
 I also wanted to be able to draw paper pieced patterns more easily.  Eight hours one to one tuition with my brother and I have done it.  More to follow on new Christmas themed patterns soon...  Meanwhile, challenge 2, make something on my new overlocker.  Even when testing an idea I like to make something I can use so just to get myself into the swing of the stitches I whizzed round a couple of layers of white muslin to make face cloths- the sort you use for a hot cloth cleanser.
My guide for the overlocker has been the excellent Sew U Home Stretch, part of the Built by Wendy series.  I cannot recommend this book more highly.  I had soem jersey remant fabric in what you will surely agree is a most attractive design- £1 from car boot sale.  Useful as a tester.  This one armed lovely is my Frankenstein piece, testing size, fit, stitches etc.  It is an adaptation of the Rock the Boat neck project.
Impatient as ever,  I skipped actually making this as a real top, partly because I can't find where I put the pattern  pieces I so carefully drafted, and moved on to a dress.  I have an occasion to wear something formal coming up in November so it was the perfect incentive to get this done.  I adapted the Pretty Baby Doll Dress- made the neckline a little higher due to the scant and bony xylophone nature of my décolletage, and made the skirt section less full.  Instead of even gathers across the front, I pushed them to the centre section- I have a top like this so I know it works for me- less fullness at the hips  for a straighter silhouette.  
The lace was a later addition, it looked very plain when it was finished and deep vintage lace added a bit of extra interest.  I was more than a little out of my comfort zone using an overlocker/serger.  I have done a bit before at college 12 years ago on a fashion HNC but never whole items of clothing or with jersey.  This is black cotton jersey from Ditto fabrics, fantastic quality and great service.

Damian took these pictures, you can get a hint of the assistant photographer by looking at my facial expressions.
Now on to more challenges- I am trying out fusible fleece from Julia at Gone to Earth, back with more soon.  Two girls, baking, whoopie pies and cheese scones are calling me.  
sib blog

Monday 24 October 2011

Pillow talk

BWS tips button
Are you ready for a little pillow talk... I hope you can tell I am using my most alluring voice for this!  Yeah right!  This is really a post about friendship.  Many of you have seen this pillow before and I always feel a little guilty about reposting an item but I wanted to take part on Brigitte's feature so here goes.
This pillow was a house warming present for Ayumi on her big move back to Japan.  So why this design? Having got caught up in the traditional blocks of The Farmer's Wife quilt-a-long, I found many of my favourites were friendship blocks and I started looking for more- 5,500 Quilt Block Designs was a great source!  The pillow features 9 different friendship block designs.  My favourite is in the centre, the corners all feature an X type design and I balanced out the other blocks in a + pattern.  The brightness and the business of the fabrics make the blocks merge but I have cropped a few so you can see individual blocks
Each block has a mini theme going on.  This block has a sweet food theme.
The top one with the tea pot is about home, comfort and tea!
The bottom block is  all about text and a love of typography.
Ayumi loves pink and I like pink/green together so I set out to see if I could make the whole thing work in a limited palette.  There is a mix of modern and vintage fabric something we both like and the design had a simple lattice quilting- there was enough going on with the fabrics
Pillows make great presents so if you want to be inspired in time for Christmas, head over to Brigitte's blog and have a look at the other designs for this month and previous months- there is a lot of inspiration to be had and just about time to enter your own- I day 13 hours when I last looked!
sib blog

Saturday 22 October 2011

Tea towel love

Seeing my Winter Woolies pattern pop up on Flickr is the greatest feeling!  Penny dropped me a line to say she was creating something and then look what I found only a short time later...
Winter Woolies tea towel
How cool is that!  I am even more honoured because it is going in front of the espresso machine- a vital part of the kitchen, and I am pretty sure she even has a name. Love it Penny!  Wanna see the new book she is a part of- pop to her blog and take a peek, it looks very cute indeed.
sib blog

Wednesday 19 October 2011

Kate Winslet speech

I apologise if this all gets a bit Kate Winslet but I cannot tell you exciting it feels when people trust your work enough to buy a pattern- I am totally overwhelmed.  I thought I might sell a couple- I underestimated completely and had to keep rushing back to my etsy shop to top up the numbers!  Your kind and generous comments have made me smile and blush so much!  Even the Flickr photo was on explore today- icing on the cake! So time to give a little credit to some very lovely friends.  Firstly Amy, who has more energy and better time management than anyone I know,  has been a wonderful pattern tester.  She was emailing me pictures before I had even finished my own and came up with this frosty, wintery table topper in an unbelievably short time.
Winter Woolies, pattern by verrykerryberry
in fact she has only just finished this beauty before she started my pattern.  This block really took my breath away, stunning!  If you haven't already, take a visit to her blog  and you will soon see how muliti talented she is with her patterns, screen printing and crafty makes.  She has an incredibly generous spirit and has been so helpful in my tense final stages of getting this up and running, thankyou Amy.   And she is also hosting a little giveaway for my pattern here if you want a freebie ( if you have already bought it, you can still enter and get a freebie on my next one).
Cocorico Block for Krista, Let's Hit the Slopes
And holding my hand across in Japan has been Ayumi who made these in double quick time- an enlarged version of each mitten block to make for his and hers mini tea cozy- I love that idea and it is an extra test of the pattern!   Ayumi is a pillar of support to me, a great friend and always gives positive and helpful advice.  Sometimes people visit here who haven't looked at her Pink Penguin blog before- if that's you, oh wow you are in for such a treat.  Thankyou Ayumi!  She is also  giving away my pattern here and the same applies as with Amy's giveaway.
Kerry's Winter Woolies Pattern
If you are stuck for Christmas presents Ayumi's latest tutorial is here and you can make this cute and very useful organiser basket
Trays in Sew Cherry

And then there was Hadley who turned my cheeks red with her blog post (and ended it with my favourite musician and comedy genius).  Hadley made this clever little mug rug use the  + x block in the best way
Echino - x&+ Mug rug front
And last but you know definitely never least, Lynne wrote some incredibly nice things and is hosting another giveaway- 3 peeps win a pattern from me.  It is hard not to find something amazing in her photostream, take a look at this, her latest work
Patriotic Pillow
Such a supportive community could leave me speechless apart from the very long speech I have just written...thankyou x
sib blog

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Winter Woolies Pattern

Thank you for such supportive emails yesterday.  Putting myself out into the commercial world even with one little paper piecing pattern is a stressful experience but now it is done I am so happy- you can find it on etsy here.  It is just turning chilly in the UK- I have put away all my summer footwear and got out my many boots, so timing couldn't be better!  I made a wall hanging with my block, it is now just by our front door as a subliminal prompt to my husband and daughter to maybe even put a coat on?
I have put a new page  here with paper piecing links,  so if you want to know the basics before you embark on a pattern like this there is some great help out there.  The best tip I can offer is one I read at The Sometimes Crafter, use an old needle without thread and machine stitch through the paper pattern on all the lines.  The perforations make the paper easier to fold its removal so much easier.  You do not need special paper just something lightweight.  I bought a pack of 70 gsm from the classiest stationery shop- Poundland.  Another tip is to print a second copy of the pattern pieces on to card- use these as a rough guide to the fabric shapes you will need.  With foundation piecing you always need bigger fabric pieces than you think! 

If you are lovely enough to purchase, you know I am here for help!  If it is sold, I will renew as soon as I can so be patient, it will be back up there!  More patterns are coming, I just need a little photoshop tutorial from my much in demand brother - I have booked him and if he wants a birthday present he knows he has to come, big sister has spoken.  Christmas themes are next- presents and candy canes I hope...
sib blog

Monday 17 October 2011


Unfinished, the fancy bits have not yet been added but this is a sneaky peek of my first foundation paper pieced pattern going on sale tomorrow...
back with more details soon...

sib blog

Thursday 13 October 2011


Thankyou for all the get well wishes. I am back at work and feeling much better than last week.  I have an energetic job so when I get home I can't get much sewing done until I feel a bit more up to speed.  I did fancy a quick fix instant gratification make.  I bought this months Mollie Makes magazine, mainly for the tiny coin purse frame kit on the front.  At £4.99 an issue, it is at the pricier end of the magazine market. I blindly cut my fabrics out following the instructions and cutting round the templates , I then realised there would be no lining, the seams would be visible on the inside and the whole thing would be too flimsy for coins.  So I abandoned the sparse and slightly inadequate instructions and made it using previous purse making knowledge- see U-handbag for great purse tutorials.  
Suzuko Koseki fabric and a little stamping with versacraft ink.

The lining is Kei dots.  The coins give you an idea of scale, this is a tiny purse.

I am not a great craft magazine buyer. UK magazines are often aimed at beginner sewers and have great aspirational lifestyle pictures but projects with often rather limited usage or not the best instructions.  If I had been new to sewing and had made the purse how they suggested I would have been rather sad about the result.  The crafting tradition and maybe a larger market to see to in USA and Japan leads to more adventurous magazines with a variety of projects for a greater range of abilities.  Don't get me wrong, Mollie Makes is very pretty but there is the edge of whimsy that pushes me over the edge- I am a little irritable at the moment and "things that have been made with love last longer" as a caption was going too far for me. 
I have had a week of frustrating tech which has compounded my grumpiness.  My phone is a Blackberry- I just got it fixed and then the Blackberry crash has made it inoperable for most of this week.  I also working on my first paper pieced pattern for sale on Etsy and drawing the pieces has been fiendishly hard in Word!  I have now sussed it, publication is imminent and I promise Damian that I will be a loveable person to live with once more and not a raging, irritable old bag x
sib blog

Sunday 9 October 2011

Whine and a moan

It is time for a little whine and a moan.  I lost my voice last Tuesday- mid  class it went from singing and talking to whispering in 10 minutes.  The strangest experience, I have lost my voice before but not without warning.  It was the last class of the morning and I thought I would rest up and it would return. Hmm, Sunday, running a temperature, a mountain of tissues and wondering about how next week will be.  Two very welcome parcels this week though.  I did a fabric swap with Charise- what lovelies she sent, vintage in there as well as modern.  I can only fantasise  about her great her fabric stash is.
I have got to know Charise via Flickr and admiring her creations...take a minute to look at this.  See what I mean!   Thankyou Charise!
I was also lucky enough to win a giveaway at Wynn's ZakkaArt blog.  She has recently posted a tutorial for a lovely patchwork bag- see the links here.  A beautiful stack of 4 fat quarters in pretty colours, gorgeous and soft.  Thankyou Wynn!

So I am sniffing, snuffling and croaking away.  Other crappy things this week: my phone broke- life without my Blackberry is sadly a bit hard, there is a magic man nearby who is fixing it for a small fee, hoepfully back by Thursday.  The mouse on my computer bust, and my laser printer packed up too.    My head has not been up to speed either- I tried to dial my own phone number today, and numerous pans have been burnt, water left on etc.  A costly week.
Normal service will be resumed soon.  I was meant to be seeing Ben Howard play tonight, too poorly to go, I've sold my tickets and made someone else and her daughter very happy, so I'll leave you with this and stop the whinge.  I'll be better soon and  I will try and feel 'gracious' too.
sib blog

Friday 7 October 2011

Mug Rug Winner!

The winner is...

and that was Quirky Granola girl aka Melinda!  I have already been in touch with Melinda so the Mug Rug will be winging its way to her very soon.  A big thank you for all the entries and the incredibly helpful ideas for paper piecing designs- I am working on Christmas paper piecing right now!
sib blog

Tuesday 4 October 2011

Christmas- not yet

Just finished, ready for Christmas in Hawaii, my Christmas Ringo Pie bee block-an advent tree for Amber.  I found this wooden tree on Flickr and that was my starting point.
The bordered squares are 1.5 inches.  I stamped the words- a line from White Christmas using Versacraft ink as it sets permanently onto the fabric.
The background fabric and stamped squares are Kona Snow.  I have very little Christmas fabric so I dived into the red and green in my vintage and new fabrics so it is an eclectic mix.
You can see the other Christmas blocks which have rolled in so far here as well as the first blocks from Amy's camera theme too here and here.
It might be a while till Christmas but it is the start of stitching time- I am hoping to get some paper pieced patterns ready for sale in the next 2 weeks with Christmas designs ready for stockings, cushions etc.  Keeps me busy x  
sib blog