Sewing Saturday

We’ve had weeks and weeks of blazing hot sunshine till even us poor Vitamin D-deprived people were starting to feel  that sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. The lawns are brown, parched and crunch like cornflakes. Dandelions are noticeable for the absence of their fairy seedheads. There’s a hosepipe ban…. then Friday night and most of yesterday, the rains came down. They pelted and poured down upon us the most glorious, beautiful rain. After each deluge there was that delicious petrichor smell pervading the air.

I dashed into town in the morning. Something was going on – a big bunch of guys were congregated to do something public (with enough collective facial hair to stuff a sofa – beardies are very fashionable here at the moment) but missed the display as I wanted to get home and not get too wet and squelchy in the rain. Got a few bits, got back and spent the afternoon drowning out the sound of Mr T and his powersaw by half-watching episodes of Harlots, then Shogun and their Itchywahs and Quality Street sweetie-wrap costumes while doing some sewing.

Mr T has started on the backroom. After ripping up the old carpet (which was glued to the underlay – wtf???) he’d found the flooring (panels of MDF) had been cut out and patched up when the central heating had been installed many, many years ago. We’d realised something was wrong when a couple of areas around the edge of the room had given way. First thoughts were of rot and Nooooo! The flooring hadn’t been screwed down to the joists below but nailed down using a variety of lengths and thicknesses. The nails had rusted and there’d been a leak from the radiator at some point which had softened the mdf at that time. For info, this room was originally a garage so it was a conversion (found a newspaper dated 1972 under the floor) and had the floor given way there wouldn’t have been a drop of more than a few inches as there’s solid concrete floor beneath.

So Mr T ripped up the MDF and bought new floor panels, shored up the supporting joists and screwed down the new ones. He’s done a brilliant job. It’s now solid as a rock. But the day was one of drilling, sawing and banging. My head.

Next comes the decorating. On the Friday we had more electrical sockets fitted so the walls need some plastering here and there to smooth them out, then we need to paint ceiling, walls, doors and skirting boards. Next week the laminate flooring will go down and finally the stuff in the living room can be installed in there. The futon and mattress for the back room, new and boxed up (bought early because it was on a special deal and saved about €85 about 2 months ago…) along with tons of other stuff to be moved back. The skip bag on the drive will be collected next week and make the front of the house look tidy again. We’re finally getting there and I’m as happy as a hedgehog with a new hat!

My living room, that has looked like Paddy’s Market for months now, will soon be cleared out. I was looking at photos of the room at Christmas and was stunned at how uncluttered and spacious it looked and can’t wait for next week to start clearing and cleaning up. And maybe start going places again. It’s been nothing but Woodies, Home Base and B & Q for what seems like always! That said, we have a bedroom to put new flooring down and wardrobe doors to install… and paint the landing and stairs and get new carpet for… and eventually, the kitchen…. So it’s not over until it’s over! But we’re getting there and I’m going to enjoy each lovely room, one at a time!

Anyway, back to the sewing. I ran up a cushion for the rocking chair that will go in the back room. The fabric is very Scandi style and should complement the decor nicely. It’s a big feather-filled cushion so lovely and squashy.

I finished off a little needle case I’ve been tiddling with for a few weeks. The colours are nice and juicy! It’s Aida fabric that’s usually bought for cross stitch with DMC embroidery floss (3 strands).  I tacked a length of wadding behind it and then sewed on some backing fabric. Just needs a little square of wadding stitched inside for the needles and finally ladder stitch the open end to close it up.

You can see the lining fabric here. Sweet and ditsy.

Want to see my drawers?

I found these drawers in a charity shop a long time ago now. €5, I think. The drawer runners were busted but otherwise the piece was in great shape. Mr T replaced the runners (made them with wood) and I painted them with Rustoleum chalk paint. They were finished off with a waxing and light rubbing – not quite distressed, maybe more like a little irritation.

Anyway, Sunday duties and time to get the dinner on!

Sewing Frenzy

I have my sewing mojo back. The dark sparkles within lit up and got me going again. As you can see, another trial with bias binding. Many curse words were uttered in the making of this pouch. Unpicking and stitch-ripping – aargh! The hilarity of it all! Eventually, it came together and this lovely little pouch was finished and filled with essential bits and bobs. An Altoids tin with beads, sewing floss, a teeny-tiny needle case for embroidery and beading needles plus assorted odds and sods for emergency sewing situations.


I popped into Aimee Rose in City West for some crochet markers and spotted these glittery treasures. These are perfect for snazzing up Christmas decor bits and work wonderfully well with a cording foot. Simply slide under the grooves on the foot and set the machine to a zig-zag stitch using a neutral or close-coloured top thread and zig-zag the Goldfingering Twilley stuff onto your fabric.

The Twilleys gives lots of surface detail and gorgeous glitz. Even the ‘white’ one; it actually has an irridesecnt shimmer that is just glorious to a magpie like me. These cost about €4 each so not cheap but they do last a long time. If you don’t let your cats play with them.

Gracie has shown me better techniques to layout text and pictures in Illustrator, pissed on my pathetic attempts to code in Python showing me her Pythonista prowess and all-round Parcel-tonguedness simply with a couple of light paw touches on the keyboard. What a star. Lol.

I keep a good few of my sewing machine feet in a lovely little box Smithy bought me last Christmas. It’s quite beautiful. And cat-safe.



I used the cording foot to zig-zag over some gold and metallic red threads on the Christmas Samsara birds. The new Twilleys collection has inspired me to make a few more decorations but they will probably have to wait until next week as my time is a bit tied up at the moment.


I also gave this little 50c sale bag (Mr Dunnes, about 4 years ago) a bit of a flossie, french knot make over with embroidery flosses from Aimee Rose. I love the French Knot and Speckling stitches for creating random, pretty surface design and just go with the flow and enjoy being dotty.


Inadvertently took this shot (was playing with extension tubes, zoom lens and a tripod today) and got a nice shot of my old Singer. Weren’t they just the last word in Gorjuss??!

Am off to have my tea, now. Jalfrezi curry (home made) with garlic and coriander naans.  Right now, Gracie is sleeping on my feet by the radiator and I will try to gently ease my feet away without disturbing her. She looks as cute as a button.

Bye for now.

Ideal craft fair sellers and purse-friendly gifts – free phone case pattern

Heylo Dare! A Friday Freebie. I made a couple of phone cases last night. They took me about half an hour each and I wasn’t hooshing them along. Nope, a gentle pootle along with cups of tea and cake kind of make.

The template is easily adjusted and you can add a key fob or a lobster claw to clip to a bag strap or purse. Lots of possibilities.

Most importantly, they do all the wonderful things that us sewists love:

  • Use small pieces of fabric (stash busters)
  • Cheap to make
  • Quick to make (half and hour or so!)
  • Easy to make
  • Can be gussied up gorgeous for all ages and genders
  • AND very useful!

All of the above add up to craft fair sellers and gorgeous gifts that won’t bend the pennies or bust the bank.

The one in the picture is for my phone which is a Sony Xperia but the pattern is simple and easily tweaked to suit your phone or other sizes – Google to look for popular phones and their dimensions.

Anyhoo, here’s a free PDF including the template and instructions with photos and illustrations by me. Enjoy!

Love Bunnies

Appliquéd Cushion Cover

Hello again. Nice to see the gardens coming to life with beautiful bursts of colour – daffodils, magnolia trees…. lovely. Easter has been and gone but I’m still having a crush on all things bunny as you can see from the  cushion cover I made from some lovely soft woolen fabric. All Bondawebbed then stitched down. The eyes are French Knots and the tails are pom-poms.  This was my first and measures some 22in x 13in but am planning another and making a larger one so long as I can get a standard cushion filler for the size.


Tablet Case

I also made another tablet case for Himself. The fabric is one of my absolute favourites and I’ve been keeping it safe for some 8 years or so! I would have used it sooner but haven’t been able to find it since I bought it all those years ago and wanted it to be special. As Himself  loves cats as much, if not more, than I do, and loved the material I decided he was worth it!

Heart Garland

Also been making some lovely linen hearts dotted with French Knots for decoration. I’m going to string them together with beads in between for a large willow heart like the one I posted some time ago: here. I have two and wanted some fresh, spring colours to brighten up the kitchen.

Here they are, lined up like pretty maids all in a row.

Two more – these are bigger versions for a different project. I like the way the linen distorts for being stuffed and makes for a quirky, folksy effect.

And a few together in a basket to sit in the sewing room and create a splash of colour.

Sew the things you love

I was asked at the weekend to take up a pair of jeans and use the original seams. Now, I have done it before and can do it but I don’t enjoy it. I will do it for Himself and my boys and their partners but beyond close family I really can’t be arsed.  Nobody wants to pay proper money – all expect mate rates yet it takes time, is boring and not what I learned to sew to do. It’s  not about making money anyway.

I love my sewing time and have to make space for it in  my life. I found a passion in learning to sew after being afraid to do it since I was young. My mum had a ferocious machine that seemed to be ‘On’ or ‘Off’. As soon as my foot touched the pedal it would snatch the material out of my hands and tear away with it like a handbag heist! And so loud it made my ears hurt. And made nests of  the bobbin thread big enough for  crows to live in and then snarl and roar with rage  at having to stop! I don’t ever recall making anything successfully with that devil-possessed machine from hell. All in all, the experience was totally unpleasant and I didn’t touch a machine for many, many years.

Now I have a Janome. It has a range of speeds and is pretty quiet and a wonderful machine to play with. Lots of built-in stitches. It can digitise (if I ever learned to use the software – wish I’d researched what was available at the time and gone with something like Embird). It’s a joy to use. Anyway, learning to sew was a definite decision, a choice I made. It brings me heartfelt  happiness and immense satisfaction.

So I now find I have to turn down requests to turn up, turn down, take in, let out or just make things. My sewing time is special and have learned to say I don’t know how to do the alteration or don’t have the right needles, feet, thread… it’s not like there aren’t any places they can go to for dressmaking and alterations – it’s just the assumption that I can do it almost there and then and for next to nothing.

And that’s another thing, sewing costs money. It isn’t cheaper than buying from the stores. Who can compete with Penneys? For those dressmakers and seamstresses, making clothes is something they can do to fit them perfectly and be like nothing in the shops. And, if not their profession, is their particular passion.

I prefer to sew the things that give me joy and buy everything else. I ask myself now if I really want to sew something just because I can or do I really want to. There are ethnic clothes that I really like that I can’t find in the shops so, yes, I’ll make them. But do I want to make trousers and shirts? Heck, No! I want to make pretty things and unusual things and things that make me happy. So, my Love Bunnies do it for me. And the tablet cases. As will the spring heart garland. As does making things from the heart for the people around me I care about and who appreciate having something made just for them. I make things with a happy heart and keep my sewing special.

Using up sewing scraps

The Whisper of the Stars

Hello to you on this chilly January afternoon. We’re being threatened by snow and it seems no idle threat. The  sky looks very grey and low-hanging. I think Mrs God has given the feather duvet a good shake out and skittered feathers all over the place.

I have invested in a pair of those strap on doodahs – the shoe gripping, walk-on-ice oojimaflipflops. Actually, I bought them nearly three years ago but haven’t had an opportunity to try them out so am quite excited to see if I’ll be able to make it to the end of the drive without performing the Bolero. Obviously, not performing a dancing-on-ice routine will disappoint the neighbours, disperse the crowds and make BBC film crews redundant, but tough grit.

Just pulling your leg but getting injured with ice is no joking matter. Really. There were 2040 accidents recorded in the UK as a result of frozen food interaction – ranging from losing part of a lip (getting a lip stuck on a glass of frozen liquid) to cases of concussion and being knocked unconscious by frozen lasagne! Means forays into the new (most wonderful and venerable freezer) is now a high-risk activity and maybe best left to some future time when I’ll have had appropriate training and been to Milletts to collect the necessary protective garmentry to approach freezer tasks in safety. Well I have the shoe grips – that’s a start! Am I over-reacting? Not at all. If my fingers dropped off with frost bite how would I be able to operate a pneumatic drill or a JCB to dig the foundations for a new septic tank, for example?

And did you know that in Siberia, and other geographical locations where temperatures regularly drop below  minus 55, breath turns to ice crystals in the air and fall to the group with a whooshing sound? The Yakut call this sound ‘the whisper of the stars’ . Doesn’t it lend new meaning to ‘my words hung in the air’? And we moan about a bit of snow!

Was listening to ‘The Unbelievable Truth’ and loved that ‘ice is made from the tears of snowmen and all ice cream is cold because it’s haunted’. I knew straight away it was all lies – obviously, ice comes from snowmen’s testicles. Snowballs.

And as for signing one’s name in the snow – more of a male thing for obvious reasons – did you know the Germans have a brilliant word, albeit derogatory, for men who sit down to pee? The word is Sitzpinkler which is a squinch away from Sitsprinkler which is so wonderfully self-explanatory. I must learn German, I love the language.


Sewing Case

I’ve been sewing a bundle and using up lots more scraps. Remember the houses I put together with some machine embroidery and some stitch-like-nobody-is-watching free-motion? I’ve used one to make a sewing case and it’s very handy. I should have made one sooner instead of the legions of pin cushions that litter the house like colonies of  porcupine love children.

The middle is a rectangle of batting decorated with rows of machine stitches. Very preeeety.


Chef’s Hat

I ran up another chef’s hat (oh, the exertion). The flower was made from more scraps. Two petal shapes stitched right sides together, turned out,  gathered with a running stitch and secured with a big button. You can get the petal template from the Wildflower Pincushion template (Google for the pattern).


Jess and the song of the teddy head

Here’s my lovely Jess, relaxed and half-asleep. It’s a hard life, eh?


And with her beautiful eyes open just checking out what I was up to:

She has a little teddy head that she picks up and carries about and croons, trills, yowls and ‘sings’ as she does so. After a short while, she puts it down, generally somewhere near me. I haven’t a clue what I’m supposed to do but I pick it up, give it a quick kiss and praise it and her for being lovely and clever and thank her profusely for the ‘gift’. She doesn’t want to play with it or do anything more with it at the time. Anyone give me a clue what I should do or am I doing ok?

Teddy Head – Mmmwwwah! x o x

*** Had to say, seen the Money Supermarket TV ad – the one to ‘Don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like me’ and LOVE it! Brilliant!

Anyway, time to get my skates on and fly out the door. My metaphors are mixed but you know what I mean. Bye for now.

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