Thursday, 26 December 2013

Making Me Smile - 52/52

Well, this is it folks, the last of my 52 Making Me Smile posts!

This week it's my family that's making me smile. This is the clan - mum and dad, my wee bro, his lovely wife and beautiful daughters and of course my two men. Here we are in all our differences of personality, temperaments and talents, sharing our Christmas Eve tradition of eating together. (Usually we go to our favourite Chinese restaurant but we were too late to book this year so this is us squeezed in at my mum and dad's.) I love this crazy, busy family night when all the prep is done and the kids are full of excitement (read hyper) and we just share being together.

As the year of Making Me Smile posts comes to a close it seems I was correct in my predictions that the things that would feature most on these posts would be family, food and fabric. There were a few other f's thrown in the mix too like friends and flowers and that about sums up the things that made me smile through 2013.

My life is very blessed but the days are mostly very ordinary and there's nothing grand or terribly exciting in the smile inducers of my weeks (or at least the ones I could photograph). Don't go getting the wrong idea either and thinking there's always something to smile about round here. A couple of times there were no posts because, lets face it, some weeks smiles are a bit elusive, but you know, I have much to be thankful for and I'm glad that I spent this year looking for snippets of that.

Thank you for indulging my little personal project for 2013!

Monday, 23 December 2013

Last finish of 2013

Just squeezing this quilt to a finish on time to pass it on to my cousin at our family Boxing Day gathering.  Her adorable little son was born about 5 weeks ago and this quilt is now ready to keep him cosy!

The fabrics are from several different collections and have pretty woodland critter theme which is in keeping with the soft autumnal/woodland theme I was briefed on by my aunt (baby's granny).  I am hoping that her idea of soft autumnal and mine will be similar.

You can see the designs a little better on this in-progress pic.

I opted for a plus quilt design for two reasons. 1) I've been wanting to make one for ages and 2) though I know my cousin would love a quilt, I don't think they will want fussy or old fashioned and this is a great design for avoiding that.

I can't often splash out on special fabric for the back of my quilts but when I saw this fanfare flannel I really couldn't resist.  It's the perfect soft gold colour and with the wee foxes I really couldn't have asked for a more perfect backing!  It's so snuggly!!

To keep the quilt nice and soft I simply quilted either side of the vertical seams.  The squares are only 3.25" finished so the quilting is still quite close together.

It has been ready to bind for a week or so but between carol services and concerts and other Christmas events  we've been busier at nights than normal so I was beginning to panic that I wasn't going to find some "sitting on my bum" time to get it across the finish line. So, I am relieved to finally get the binding and label stitched down so that it's ready to deliver.  And, it marks my last sewing finish of 2013!

Finally, just thought I'd share our family gingerbread house with you.  This is the first we have ever decorated (bought in Ikea - no domestic goddess here). The three of us set ourselves up on Sunday afternoon to get creative with the royal icing and dolly mixtures.  To our surprise hubby took quite well to this task (not known for his creative patience) and we had a great afternoon's messing and burning our fingers on hot sugar glue!  I think we may have founded a new Christmas family tradition!

Fa la la la la la la la la!

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Giveaway Winner!

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway for my little novelty pack.

Your Christmas carol and song favourites were certainly diverse and I even got to hear one or two that I've never heard before including one Welsh and one Austrian carol.  I am glad I asked the question!

Anyway, cutting to the chase, all 30 entry numbers were placed in the Santa bowl

and number 7 was drawn.

Margaret, you are number 7.  Congratulations on winning! I will contact you shortly for a postal address.

Sorry that you couldn't all win, but thanks for entering into the spirit of the thing.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Festive or fiasco?

Thought you might like to see my Christmas cake decorating efforts, you know for a laugh.

I can't decide whether it's passable or whether it just looks like my cake has a festive disease!?! The inspiration for this cake was MUCH more elegant, trust me!

If nothing else my family has had a laugh at my measly Christmas cake. As DS tried to tactfully say, it's not how it looks that matters.

It smells amazing, just looks peculiar.


Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Happy Blogiversary ... to you!

Today it is 3 years since I took a notion to create my blog - you know at the calmest, least busy period of the year ;-)  So, you know what that means, don't you?

Yep, goodies!

This year I've gone all novelty for the giveaway -

Three US fat quarters of Geekly Chic - cassettes in blue, glasses in yellow and records in grey - and 2m each of cream and white grosgrain tape measure ribbon.

Even if novelty fabrics aren't normally your thing, they are useful additions to your stash for use in Bees or, in this case, for those retro pressies (particularly for men).  And, they could be free and sent direct to you.

So, there you have it, a little blogiversary giveaway.  To be able to win you need to leave me a comment and I'd like to know what your favourite festive song (carol, secular or silly) is, just out of curiosity.  I can only accept one comment per person, so in case of duplicate entries only your first will be valid.  Please include an email address if you are a no-reply blogger or I will have to redraw.

Giveaway is open internationally and entries close 15.00 GMT Saturday 21 December 2013.

Just so you know, my favourite Carol is 'O Holy Night'  - the music and lyrics are so beautiful and evocative.  For sillies we love 'I want a hippopotamus for Christmas' by Gayla Peevey.  It's just nonsense really and think it's a favourite just because it was played by our local radio station for a few years when DS was little and it stuck.  If you don't know it, you should google it.

Right, get commenting peeps!

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Making Me Smile - 51/52

Who doesn't smile when they receive fab, thoughtful presents from a good friend?

This week I have been blessed to receive this gorgeous red and cream basket from Judith crammed full of all sorts of goodies that make me squeal inside!

I mean, only real sewists have proper Fiskars orange handled scissors, right?  So, with this pressie I feel like I've been promoted!  (Indulge me, I think it's just something from my childhood when the orange handled scissors were sacrosanct.)

Now, my thoughtful genius friend has listened closely to my sewing conversations over the past few months and clearly has been plotting and planning to hep me fill the gaps in my fussy cuttable (not even a word, I don't think) fabrics and my low volume selections.  I ask you, how many of you have ever received a package of swap charms when you didn't even enter the swap?!  Now, I know how jealous you will all be, but that's Judith, my dear sweet friend - she took two spots in Rachael's recent LVCharm Swap and both were for me!  You are a star, J and I love you!

Got to tell you that thoughtful friends also know that after those choccies up there I will be in need of the pretty napkins - she know what a mucky pup I am!  And, of course, Lynne and Kerry's book was also a star present in the basket.  I'm trying hard to "just look" for now and not get distracted into making yet. But.... it's.... so..... tempting....

And, to let you have a wee giggle too, I'll show you the card that accompanied this treasure trove of loveliness ....

Made me chuckle.  Those of you who know us both can decide for yourselves which of us is which on the card cartoon, but personally (sadly) I suspect I'm Mrs Pink Jumper with the lolling tongue!

Thanks a million for treating me to such loveliness and a wee laugh too, J!!

PS Tomorrow there might be a wee pressie on offer for one of you - be sure to come back then!

Monday, 16 December 2013

Fabric tape

Got a quick little tip for you today.

Remember that I had little half inch trimmings from my Scrumptious Brick Layer Cake Quilt?  Well, rather than throw them away I kept them to make pretty little fabric tapes for gift wrapping.  Here's how you can do it too.

You will need:

  • fabric scraps
  • double sided tape
  • paper scissors
  • iron
  • rotary cutter and ruler.

1.  apply the tape to the wrong side of your fabric strips.  If you have wide strips you can add multiple strips of tape, or even add several strips very tightly together to make a chunkier piece of fabric tape.  Cut the tape off at the end of your fabric strip.

2.  I don't know if this step is always necessary.  It may depend on the tape you use.  I found that to fuse the tape well to my fabric I needed to press the right side of the fabric strips.  This worked a treat.

3.  The last step is to trim your strips to the width of the tape to tidy up the rough edges.

And so, as easy as 1, 2, 3 you can have sweet little fabric tapes at very little cost and you are making good use of precious trimmings and scraps. (I made some from the scraps of the baby quilt I'm finishing too.)  One final tip is to check for good deals on double sided tape on ebay.

Have fun!

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Modern Quilt Guild of Ireland Christmas Swap

After several weeks making a Christmas table runner for my partner in the Modern Quilt Guild of Ireland Christmas Swap, this week was posting week and table runners have been winging their way across Ireland and landing on excited quilters' doormats.  I blogged about the runner I posted to Annette here.

On Thursday I arrived home to find that my swap parcel had landed!

 My partner took great pains to wrap my parcel beautifully

with several layers (just to keep me guessing).

And, here is the stunning table runner that was cosied up inside those layers.  Isn't it great?

I didn't waste any time getting it on to my table and in use.  I love the colours, the quirky fabrics and the fabulous fussy cuts that were included by Betsy Grey Crafts in the runner she made for me.  The whole things feels so fun and festive and got the seal of approval from my men too.

This last wee pic shows the wee yoyo Christmas tree decoration included in my parcel.  It's now hanging on our tree as a memory from the MQGI swap of 2013.

I am so delighted with this runner and cannot thank my swap partner enough for all the care and attention she took making it.

There will be many happy folks at the end of this swap and my smile is definitely as big as anyone's will be!

Friday, 13 December 2013

Gift stitching

Like most of the rest of you, I have been beavering away to try to add some handmade pressies to the Christmas list this year.  Curiously, I started out saying I wasn't making any this year (aside from a frame purse I made back at one of Judith's workshops) to relieve the pressure of the month of December.  However, I guess I just can't help myself!

One of my beautiful nieces has shown some interest in crafty, creative, stitchy things that I think she could use a little encouragement in, so when I weighed up buying her another itunes voucher or trying to find something to encourage her leanings, guess what won?

So on Saturday morning it was out with the denim and sewing notions fabrics to make her a little starter sewing kit of her own. I started with a pouch that she can keep all her bits together in.

I found a gorgeous variegated thread in my box that just looks fab on the denim (I could make a pouch for myself with just the denim and this thread I love it so much).  It was a little bit like playtime choosing the buttons and fabrics for this decent sized pouch, but I cannot begin to tell you how many mistakes I made in the construction of this.  Just seemed to be having one of those days when I knew what I should be doing, but couldn't get it to happen!  Anyway, even if the pouch is a tad smaller than I had planned it to be, I still think it looks good.

Of course, every sewing kit needs a needle book and a pincushion so I whipped up matching ones to pop into the pouch.

I'm adding some pins and needles, thread, a retractable tape measure and some pretty polka dot scissors along with two fun beginner's cross stitch kits.  I thought hard about what sewing gift I could give her that would be contained enough that she doesn't have to go looking for and purchase a lot of extra supplies, and one that would be simple enough for her to basically teach herself in the absence of anyone else creative at home.  Cross stitching seemed the way to go.  I used to do a lot of cross stitch myself and one of the big advantages of the kits is there is no investment in expensive supplies, materials and equipment so "having a go" needn't be costly or wasteful.  My niece is 11 and smart and she will pick this up no problem after a few Boxing Day tips from me.  I will have to be careful though that when I'm showing her "how to" I don't get carried away and keep "playing" with her gift.  They just look so nice to stitch up!

Next up. the same niece and her older and younger sister will be receiving one of these sock monkeys too.

These were really just made for fun and along with Charlie (see pic below) will hopefully be well received at our Christmas Eve dinner gathering.

When I first posted the pic of Charlie, Helen left a comment to say that a lady who comes into her work had made 400 sock monkeys last year and sold them.  Well, I take my hat of to that lady!  These were fun but I have to admit that I struggled making four of them never mind 400!  It's not that they're hard but there's quite a lot of fiddling and stuffing and stitching and four was enough for me.  I used the same tutorials as Indianna Dreams for these sock monkeys, choosing the bits I liked from each. And, interesting point to note, although all of the socks I used were the same size, the boys socks were much more curved at the toe than the girls which were pointier.  I preferred the shape the boys sock gave and liked the stripes better too, though I couldn't find any girls socks with stripes on.

Sock Monkey Tutorial by Web Goddess
Sock Monkey Tutorial by Craft Passion

My next two pressies are little tote bag additions to parcels for some family members.  For these I used the tutorial by Skip to My Lou and simply added a little wrap around tab with popper button to keep it all nicely folded in your handbag.  Wish I'd thought to add that little tab to my own when I made it because I love this wee tote bag.  It's not huge but is perfect for small shopping items and ever so handy to have lurking in a handbag since the shops now charge for plastic bags here.

I have also been plugging away at the baby quilt for my cousin's new little one.  I hope to get it bound soon so I can show you.  After that there's a Secret Santa pressie to tackle (in a hurry) and then I think it might just be time to retire my machine for the holidays and start making some other Christmas preparations - you know like the ones that involve cleaning and cooking!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Siblings Together Block Drive - more blocks

I have one more set of Siblings Together churn dash blocks from the lovely Betty to show you.  In spite of the angle of the photograph, I assure you these blocks are all the same size!  These will now join the others that have been gathering over the past few months and after Christmas (bit later than I had planned, sorry ladies!) I will set to laying out quilts for pre-teen/teen boys.  I wonder what all of the blocks will look like together?

As I say, I am sorry that I haven't been able to get to these before now, but with 55 blocks from all your generous donations I will have two lovely quilts to keep me busy in the darker months of January and February.  Looking forward to sharing pics with you as I go.

Thanks again for the great blocks Betty!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Making Me Smile - 50/52

The decorations are up!  In spite of the grainy pics the room does look pretty, if a little more cluttered than my preference for the other eleven and a half months of the year.

I love our tree decorations and lights but have never ever been able to take a decent picture of them.  There are handmade decorations that I love. decorations I bought on our honeymoon, my absolute favourite glass decorations (pears and long glass ice drops), sweet pressies from friends and of course a few of those "wouldn't part with them even though they do nothing for my tree" decs made by DS.  A Christmas tree becomes imbued with memories and stories (a little bit of our history, I suppose) as we gather our bits and pieces over the years and I think that's what I love so much about it now.

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