Monday, 31 August 2009

Quilting Memories

I've been going down memory lane and dusting off the old quilt box. This was the first quilt I ever made from a Debbie Mumm book. I practically made every quilted wall hanging in the book. For the first time in my life, I used a muted color scheme without any garish bright accents and the pieces turned out lovely. Very country, home town America.

I had bought the book at our local Plymouth quilt shop near the railway station. When a train zoomed past, hang onto your fabric as everything would start to shake. Actually, I think my mom bought the book for me and rather than be intimidated by the scary quilting, I started with this easy heart quilt and I think finished it in the night. I think it was Christmas when I made this Valentines quilt. I soon moved on to the other Christmas themes, my absolute favourite I will show you tomorrow.
What was the first piece you ever learned to quilt? Does anyone out there not know how to quilt? Would you like to learn?

Sunday, 30 August 2009

My mother's handiwork for our neighbour who is a volunteer at the humane society. I've never met anyone who loves and does more for dogs than our good friend.
Around the dog's neck is the tag from one of her old dogs that might be gone, but not forgotten. This is another easy pattern. The dog and the hearts are stuffed. His little ear is a flap. His eye a button and his nose embroidered.
Do you often include animals in your work? If so, are they your pets?

Friday, 28 August 2009

Quilted placemats. Flying geese. Easy peasy. Difficult - taking photographs of them that are straight. They look straight to me in real life, but in photograps, mine always appear wonky which is why I've had to crop off the top of the geese!

Would anyonw be interested in learning to make these?

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Bags & Bruises

With the trend of big bags, my mother found her forearms were often bruised because her bag was so heavy. I think she needs to dump some of her stuff. I mean what was she carrying in there? Instead she decided to make a bag with fabric handles instead of leather. I think this was made from a Vogue pattern with some Japanese fabric we had been saving.
Has anyone noticed out there that some of the pattern pieces just don't fit? It didn't happen with this bag, but some recent undergarments I made and a blouse my mother is currently working on have the wrong shaped pieces. Considering how expensive patterns are, you'd think they'd get them right or at least test them out before they sell them. Has anyone else out there had this experience?

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Can one have too much glitter?

One can never be too thin, too rich, or have too much glitter.

Inspired by wonderfully chunky rhinestone rings in Harrods, I made myself a glittered flower ring. I thought I would make it on the small size. I now must go dancing so I can wear it. Not sure what they'd say at work if I showed up in this.

About favorite jewelery, I have three rings I normally wear every day. Two with blue stones and one with red. My parents bought them all for me - two for birthdays and one for graduation from university. I absolutely love them and always think of them when I wear them.

What is your most favorite piece of jewelry and is it something someone gave you or something you made?

Tuesday, 25 August 2009


This patchwork bag is so easy. It's all about the positioning of the squares. One of the trickiest bits is remembering which way the lion has to face. He was upside down a few times. Why do we always have to sew things the wrong around before sew them the right way around? Might just be me, but if there's a mistake to be made, I always seem to do it. How about you?

Monday, 24 August 2009


How many of you are making Christmas crafts already? This is a babushka ornament I made this past weekend. I would love to do a whole tree filled with these sparkling gals.

Hmm, I usually start writing Christmas cards in August too. Last year, I was waiting for my mother to have an operation and I just wrote and wrote all of the addresses. The repetitiveness took my mind off where I was and what was happening. Luckily, my mother was fine and my cards were then pushed to the back of my desk, only to be forgotten, and mailed a few days before Christmas!

This year I would like to hand make all of my own cards or at least draw the design and have a printer print some up. When do you usually start on your Christmas card list? Are you someone who mails them early every year or late?

Saturday, 22 August 2009

One can never switch between crafts enough. I was fixing a hole in one of the bags I made a while ago and am not sure if I ever posted a picture of it. The rose is made out of some gorgeous hand dyed cottons brushed with an iridescent paint my mother once bought. She's very protective of them, but hasn't used them in a while, so hopefully she won't noticed I nicked some. Don't tell.

Friday, 21 August 2009

An Interior Design View of Cambridge

Cambridge - what a wonderful place! It's filled with bicycles...


...and some fabulous interior design work. This room is one of Prince Charles' favorites. Mine too. Look at the wonderful detail of the ceiling.
And the complimentary stained glass entrance.
Is it too late to go back for another degree? Many years ago, I took stained glass class. I love the simple elegance of this window and the clean colored glass. It looks like rays of sunshine are always brightening up the room.
Do you have a favorite city you love to visit?

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Russian Dreams

The skyline of Russia. I'm planning on going there one day. Preferably in the summer so it's not too cold. I already have a big Russian black fur hat I once found in a charity shop in the middle of a heatwave. Just couldn't pass it up. Of course, when London had all of its snow this past winter, I couldn't find the hat. I was cleaning this weekend and of course found it. Thus, I had Russia on my mind during my glitter fest.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and would you dress like the locals?

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

More Bags & Bambi

Thank you so much Laura, of Mi Sello Personal for the lovely award. Remember her - she's the one with the great cards featuring loads of people. I pass this award on to Kristina who makes gorgeous beaded creations. Do check out her blog. I don't know how she makes some of those necklaces.
As for the applique pattern for the little girls, Rosie & Bella, I will work on this and let you know when it is available. As for what I've been up to. . .

Another bag. It's simple, but carries home a ton of shopping. The fabric is recycled from curtains. Isn't it great what all may be made out of curtains. My mother's wedding dress was either made from curtains or into curtains. (We are a very practical family.) Another pair of my old curtains were made into painting sheets so my floors don't get paint sploshes. Now I just have to do the painting. A childhood set of curtains now lines the back of a quilt.

What have you made out of your old curtains?

Tuesday, 18 August 2009


Once a theme is in mind, it crosses over from craft to craft. This is made form a plain white heavy shopping bag I had. I think it came free with a magazine. I'd been working on the appliqued scene and it happened to fit perfectly on the bag. I think this would be adorable to give to a little girl. I would have loved this when I was little. If you would be interested in the applique pattern, let me know.

Monday, 17 August 2009


I've been very quiet on the blog front because sometimes you've just got to craft. Two weeks ago, I decided I was going to specialize in one craft, sewing, but as you'll see, I am back to glittering. I've been making birthday cards. I'll be going to Paris in September, so was inspired by the Eiffel Tower and the croissants on offer at my local patisserie.

Glitter is my latest favorite craft supply ot use. What is yours?

Friday, 14 August 2009

Handbag Inspiration

Inspired by the handbag we had just raffled off, I decided I wanted to sew another one of my own, so I dusted off my old Miss Singer sewing machine and have been taking her for a whirl. I had all of the fabric already in my stash and a few weeks ago had found a set of three hand embroidered doilies in a charity shop in Broadstairs. That's what you see as the babushka's tummy. I think the whole purse must have cost less than 3 pounds ($5). Bargain!

Have you made something recently that was a great value for money?

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Raffle Prize Winner Announced!

Congratulations Glenda all the way in sunny Australia for winning the wool felt purse. I think it's the middle of winter right now, so hopefully this will come in handy.
Sewing update - I made three handbags this weekend. Will soon have photos for my site. Need sunshine first. Some of you had some great ideas about adding shells and all, but that creation is still to come.

Monday, 10 August 2009

I have spent this weekend sewing and visiting the Waterhouse exhibit at the Royal Academy of the Arts. There is a major retrospective of his works there. He had been an academician at the turn of the century. His work is very romantic, often including knights being seduced by fairies, sirens calling sailors into the water, mermaids brushing their hair, pagan gods, and Green mythological characters. His work also was inspired by the poetry of Keats and Tennyson.
His work was so beautiful, I went around it twice. Like the sailors in the pictures, I didn't want to tear my eyes away from such beauty.

I would be the first to say that art should not just be about pretty pictures to hang on walls, but I recently went to another Summer Exhibition preview evening at the Royal Academy and this was the best work of art there -
The dessert table. The champagne table was pretty good too, but couldn't sneak a shot of that.

The Summer Exhibition is supposed to be a showing of the public works of art alongside work of the Academicians. However, the work of art from the public is extremely limited. Believe me, I've tried to get in. Not bitter or anything. I think the Royal Academy asks for public submissions because they receive a non-refundable while the acceptance is like 1%.
Only for my dear readers, I snuck my camera out and took a few shots of the art. This is a monkey picture scrawled by Tracy Emin which seems to have sold like crazy (indicated by the red dots). Now come on, how can that compare to the Waterhouse works that happen to be in the next room?
Thank you Clare of Clare's Crafts for the lovely blog award, but I will refrain from passing it on (and including it on my site permanently) because I am having difficulty keeping up with working, blogging, and crafting. Just wanted to mention Clare because it was reading her site that gave me the inspiration to raise money for the Royal Marsden. Check out her blog to read her story.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

To Sew or Not to Sew. . .

Thank you to all of my readers who left comments about their favourite crafts. I have been thinking I should focus on one craft rather than having my flat strewn with everything from shells to fabric, glitter to sugar roses. Last weekend, I only went to the seaside so I could buy shells. I've not actually made anything with them, just washed them.

But I bought some fabric today and am feeling inspired. I'm glad I'm not like this at work or I'd get nothing done.

On Sunday, I plan to have a craft day. Wake up early and start sewing. . .a bag maybe or a change purse. . .or maybe I really should do something with those lovely shells. . .

Thank you so much to Lynn of Spyder's Corner for the wonderful award. The five things I would like to do is 1 go around the world 2 have dinner with Bill Clinton 3 have a room as a craft studio 4 have my own tv show 5 have a book published.

I pass this award to: Angie, Merry,Tertia, Rita, Shirley, PAD
Any big projects planned for this weekend?

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Seaside Crafts

How much is that teddy in the window?I found this wonderful knitted creation in a craft store in Broadstairs. From the sandcastles to the sandwiches, this teddy bear's picnic is completely hand knitted. Apart from the local handiwork, Broadstairs is famous for being the home of Charles Dickens. The seaside town was absolutely enchanting. From the overgrown lavender outside his former home -
- to the Charles Dickens pub one block down with its red velvet cozy nooks and yummy steaming hot meat pies - - to the GIANT ice creams with Cadbury's flake chocolate bars -

I fell in love with the place. Around the crescent shaped beach, there's pastel painted beach huts, an old fashioned cinema along the seafront, and even a doll's hospital. This might not have been what inspired Mr. Dickens, but that and knitted teddy bears is certainly what inspires me.

photo from Wikipedia

Mr. Dickens was inspired by Bleak House for the title of his ninth novel about the failure of the British legal system. Dickens would spend at least a month a year in Broadstairs and even wrote David Copperfield here. I have heard murmurs that he even brought his mistress and established her in another house by the sea away from his wife. How did he have time to write all those novels?

Also quaint in Broadstairs is a shop selling doll's houses and furniture. This is in addition to the doll's hospital. They have very unusual doll's - including a miniature tramp. Who would want to include him in their doll's house scene? He even has a mini bottle of cider on his trolley. A bit scary for a child I would think.
As an end note, dear readers, may I ask please how many of you out there make cards and how many of you out there sew? If you sew, what may I ask so you usually make?

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

We have our Second Winner!

Congratulations to Heidi of Simon Says Stamp! You've won our second prize - 8 hand made beautiful cards which were generously donated by Susie of Die Cut Dreams.
Remember - early donations have a chance to win all remaining prizes. Even though you've won one doesn't mean that you can't win another!
So who is this knitted teddy on picnic?

Come back tomorrow and I'll reveal where I found him.

What's the craziest thing you've knitted? I'd say this ice cream is pretty crazy, but the strangest thing I've done is half a fluorescent pink rabbit head. Can you beat that?

Monday, 3 August 2009

My Inspiration to Sew Part 2

My mother started sewing by hand as a little girl. She dreamed of sewing dresses like the ones she saw in the American dress magazines, but there was still rationings on fabric after the war.

At age 14, as was common back then, she left school and became an apprentice at a local sewing factory in England. She learned to properly sew there and over the years, came to know how to make raincoats, blouses, skirts, dresses, anything. If there was a new pattern, they only needed to hand it to her and she could sew it together while many others struggled. The others were only used to sewing the same part over and over, but my mother could work the whole garment. She was speedy too. You had to be if you worked piecework (you’re paid by the piece).
Growing up in grey Britain after the war, my mother dreamed of heading to Hollywood to design costumes for the stars. She saved and saved for the boat passage from England to Toronto and headed there. She quickly found a tailoring job and set about saving once again.
My parents met at a dance, got married and when one of the women at the tailor shop where she worked told her about where to go to get immigration papers for America, my mother went and within a few short weeks, she and my father were loading everything they owned into a Volkswagen mini bus and heading to Hollywood.

They drove from morning until night. In Britain, they would have crossed the country in that amount of time. In America with the old roads, they were in Michigan. The car broke down and they have lived there ever since.

Again my mother quickly got a job in the best tailor shop in Detroit. She made men’s suits until the shop was robbed and she was held at gun point. She never returned to work for many years. I was born and she directed her energies and her love into making all of my clothes (many of which were Princess Diana recreations), reupholstered our chairs/sofas, made curtains, bicycle bags, quilt, and hold-alls for small engine airplanes.
My mothers dresses did end up in Hollywood and the Cannes film festival just not as expected. I wore them to a job interview I once had (came to London instead) and to a number of film premieres.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

My Sewing Inspiration

Who inspired you to sew? Someone asked me the other day. My inspiration, like many others, was my mother, but my mother is like no other. What makes her so special is her determination, patience, creativity, generosity, and I have never met anyone who can sew like her.

Growing up during World War II in England, my mother’s house was bombed on Christmas Eve. Luckily, she, her mother, and brother were in the Anderson shelter so all survived, but a few days later, she and her brother were evacuated into the country.

Their new home was dreadful. A mean lady took them in for the money. My mother was forced to look after the old lady and a houseful of dogs and cats. The few toys they had were confiscated and food was severely rationed. Any extra money my grandmother sent for food, my mother and her brother never saw.
When the lady died, my mother and her brother finally found relief and went to live in Lancaster Castle with a bunch of other children, some nuns, and prisoners.
You see, Lancaster Castle also operated as a prison. In fact, back in 1899, only 30+ years before, children had also been imprisoned here with adults, but to my mother and her brother, life suddenly opened up to them and the world never seemed so exciting.

They had almost nothing, but my mother and her brother would escape into a fantasy world by creating art with everything and anything at hand. They painted with berries and dead caterpillars and fashioned murals out of shrapnel. My mother even once found an old yellow raincoat and discovered when you cut it and placed it right sides together, it stuck together. She made doll’s clothes for dolls she didn’t even own. Who knew this was the beginning of her sewing career?

Tomorrow – Read about Coming to America – my mother’s journey to Hollywood to design costumes for the stars.
p.s. - Who was your sewing inspiration?