Monday, 7 September 2015

Christmas Cards!

Lately I've been on a card-making mission.  After not sending any Christmas cards for the past few years, I really want to send them to friends and family this year, but not just the multi pack cards you buy in the shops, handmade cards! 

Because I need to have a few to send, I started making them back in August.  I used the Kaisercraft Workshop magazines for inspiration as well as Pinterest.  I use scrapbooking paper, cardstock, stickers, buttons, ribbons, foam tape, little cutouts that match the paper (elephants, ornaments, etc.). 

Here are a few samples of cards I've made lately.  First I used a simple navy card, some red/white striped paper and two circles with a pattern on them.  The two circles I stuck together to create a 3D ornament, which I then stuck to a piece of card with smaller circles on it.  To finish off I used some foam tape on the back of the "Happy Holidays" quote and a piece of ribbon with mistletoe on it (the ribbon is tucked around the back of the card front).

The second card is a burgandy side opening (that is it opens lengthwise) card.  The wooden embellishments I bought on special, they have either a star cut-out or are solid.  On the solid one I used a rub-on to make it look like an ornament.  I cut a piece of gingham-style paper, used foam tape on the back of the "Seasons Greetings" saying and then finished with a sticker of bells.

 This card is blue, another side-opening one, with a piece of polka dot paper along the bottom.  Three pieces of thin white ribbon from the top down with a green and red sparkly pompom on the bottom of the longer pieces.  More foam tape on the back of a gift tag in the shape of an ornament (I received a few of these free with a magazine subscription) and finished with a little white ribbon bow at the top of the gift card.
Left is a white card with a piece of burgandy cardstock and a piece of striped paper on top.  More wooden embellishment ornaments, this time with rub-on alphabet to spell J O Y and a rub-on saying at the bottom.

The right card is an embossed card (my first time using them).  A ribbon with gingerbread men on the right, again tucked over the top and bottom and stuck to the reverse of the front of the card.  A gift ribbon glued on near the top.  A white circle of cardstock, a circle of red/white paper and then the word "Believe" rub-on on to a tag. 

Finally, red card with a piece of paper - white with green, slightly embossed, shiny Christmas trees on it.  The tag was a set I bought for scrapbooking, but repurposed onto a piece of pale green cardstock that was trimmed to 5mm larger than the tag.  The "Santa's List" was a rub-on.  A piece of pale gold ribbon tucked around the tree paper (stuck behind the paper rather than on the reverse of the card, so it's more hidden).  The J O Y are rub-on alphabet again on punched pieces of burgandy paper. 

All these cards are quite simple, but look much more hardwork.  I can't wait to go through them all again and send them out in the next few months.  I've actually now got a collection of about 18 Christmas cards and will be making more throughout the next month or so. 

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Cancer Society Monkeys

Last year, I made half a dozen sock monkeys for the Cancer Society to sell during Daffodil Day.  I wasn't going to this year, however I received a phone call asking if I would make some for this year's sale as well.  Below are the 6 I made, I tried to have either yellow, blue or a combination of both since those are the colours of the Cancer Society.  

The bunch!

A lovely lady sent me two separate parcels of socks for making monkeys with - the white with pink spots and the blue with yellow nose were both made using a combination of some of the socks she sent.  It's so lovely that others donate socks for monkeys, especially considering they know I'm going to cut them up rather than wear them!! 

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Monkeys for Special People

This is Picasso - he was a gift for a lovely lady's retirement, she helped me with some difficult sewing recently and, in the past, helped me hugely when I got into a tight jam and was stressing majorly with getting something finished.  Maree makes beautiful scrappy quilts, so I made her a scrappy monkey with ears, arms, tail and body all from different socks.

Next is Ocean - a gift for a lady who goes out of her way to help others when they need, to make sure people don't miss out, who just quietly goes about doing things without expecting any thanks or recognition.  I decided she needed recognition and thanks, so Ocean went to live with his new Mum, Lynn.  In her favourite colour of aqua, with white, grey and black too, and it looks like he's wearing little black socks with grey/white stripes. beausoleil  is Lynn's blog, where she has some amazing quilts she's made!!

Finally, this bright, cheerful little girl was a gift for a lady who went out of her way to retrieve a lost Teddy bear!  Our pup has had her Teddy since we first brought her home from the SPCA.  Teddy was a comfort to her when she came to her new home with us, met her big brother and sister (who she was terrified of at first) and is still a comfort to her when she's feeling a bit off or vulnerable.  Our pup sucks on her Teddy's ear, sometimes making a very high-pitched sound as she does so, she also squeaks his if she's talking to him and he's answering.  So, naturally, she was quite lost and we were quite devastated one day to learn he was missing!  We'd been for a car ride to another town, about 35 minutes away and Teddy had gone along for the ride.  It wasn't till we got home that we realised he was no longer in the car and she was searching for him.  To cut a long story short, a plea went out on Facebook and a friend of a friend thought she might have seen Teddy on the street.  Elizabeth went out of her way to drive over to that street to see if it was indeed Teddy, she rescued him and took him home to keep him safe till we could pick him up the next day.  Not many would do that for a dog's Teddy bear, but she did, so I made her a monkey as a big thank you!  She named her Lexi, short for Aleksah, which means 'friend', which I think is a beautiful name.

Another Nana Quilt Update

I picked up the quilt I started for Nana from the quilter's about two weeks ago.  The lady has done a fantastic job on it.  I'm so pleased.  The pattern is an all-over daisy print, which picks up on the background flowers too. 

This picture shows the backing fabric, which is a flannel, so nice and snuggly warm to touch.  This quilt also has double batting - two layers of batting - sandwiched in the middle. 

 All that's left to do is the binding now.  I have chosen a navy/white stripe, which hopefully will just finish everything off and finish it all.  Having been sick for the past two weeks, I'm really looking forward to being able to finishing this quilt really soon.  And I'm over the moon that, what started as an idea for Mother's Day 2012, and then became a sad reminder of having lost Nana.....this will soon be able to be wrapped around me like a hug from her....

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Monkey Duo

Two more monkeys for the children at the NP hospital children's ward.  First up is Lewis, he uses a plain lime green sock for his body with a blue/pale blue/green/grey sock for his arms, tail and ears.  His nose is the pale blue heel of the striped sock, so it matches the stripes on his arms.
 Next we have Jessie.  She's a shy girl, with her lovely striped arms, ears and tail.  Her body had ladybirds all over it and her nose is black, but with a big, bright red grin!  Her eyebows match her nose. 
Both monkeys were named by my father, not sure where he came up with them?!

Ragged Roses

My third ever quilt.  I call it Ragged Roses.  I used two blender fabrics - pink and burgandy - and two rose printed fabrics, both with a pale blue background, one with tiny roses and the other with slightly larger roses.  The back of each square used the same dark green blender fabric with little green dots (tones with the leaves on the roses on the front fabrics).  

As you can see, each square has an X sewn through the centre, then I laid out all the squares in a uniform diagonal pattern.  Because the rose print fabric has a pale blue background, it helped break up the pinks and burgandies.  The final step of construction is to snip all the seams to create the 'raggy' effect.  

Size-wise, this is a rectangular knee quilt or crib sized - bit wider than a normal crib quilt, so possibly good for over a toddler bed or as an extra layer at the foot of a single bed in winter.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Second Throwback

My second ever quilt was one I made for my Mum.  It was a raggy quilt using cotton fabrics, flannel and some chenille (with cotton fabric on the back of the chenille because otherwise it's really thick!).  I chose colours that would co-ordinate with her bedroom - deep burgandies, neutral beiges, some creams.  As you can see from the photo below, I did a random placement of all the squares.  I purchased the fabrics from a lovely lady at a local quilting shop (in Hawera) which has, sadly, now closed down.

I took a photo of the quilt, hanging on the washing line (as above) and took the photo with me to England, where we were travelling to spend Christmas with family.  On Christmas Eve, I wrapped the photo up in paper and on Christmas morning, instead of receiving her present, Mum received a photo of her gift!  The quilt itself is a knee-rug size, although it's more rectangular than square, it's also been used on cooler nights to pull up near her shoulders in bed or put across her feet over the bedcovers. 

I had to do all the sewing for this in secret, while Mum was at work or out so she wouldn't see it.  The best way I found to do that was to actually be making another quilt at the same time....the trick, of course, was to try and keep the two projects separated so I didn't mix up the blocks!!

Throwback Friday

Well, I thought I'd show a few quilts I've previously made.  The first is the first ever quilt I made, it's baby-sized, perhaps not big enough for a crib, but might be big enough for a bassinet.  It's certainly big enough for throwing over a baby in a stroller or a carseat.  It's big enough to put on the floor when you want to change bubs or if you're at someone else's place and want to prevent any spit-ups on their carpet.

I chose some bright fabrics that I thought would be suitable for either a boy or a girl.  I didn't really know much about fabrics or what would 'work', so I just chose some fabrics/colours I thought would look good together.  The first fabric I chose was the bugs in the centre, then I chose colours that would 'go' with those bugs - the red and the yellow.  Finally I chose the gingham/flower fabric in the last border, which was sitting next to the bugs on the shelf.  The orange was because I thought it was a bit too 'blue' and would brighten it up.  I was quite pleased with how it came out.
Instead of actually 'quilting' this quilt, I decided to tie it.  Basically, you take some co-ordinating (or matching) embroidery threads and a big-ish needle with a sharp point.  To poke the thread through from the top, on the other side, you take the thread back up close to where it came down.  On the topside, you just tie a knot in the two ends and voila!  You can see in the top picture how there are little ends of the threads.

I followed a youtube tutorial video to make this quilt, but I can't remember where it was now or what it was called...I think it was just called "Easy Baby Quilt" or something like that.

All Worthwhile

I was asked to make three monkeys, for three gorgeous wee kids in the USA.  I wanted to make sure I made them very special, but also link them together, like a family.  The wee girl's monkey was easy - I had the perfect socks to make a little girl monkey, pink, stripes, flowers.

So here she is!  I'm a big fan of yellow and I think it goes perfectly with the pinks.  The little blue flowers really stand out well on her body and I've added eyelashes to give her more femininity.  I love how she looks like she's wearing little yellow socks.  I am also becoming more and more a fan of mixing my socks up - stripes for the arms, tail and (normally) ears, while the body is the pink with blue flowers.

This is the monkey for the older boy.  Again, I used two different but co-ordinated socks; the red arms, tail and ears have tiny blue dots that match the blue stripes in the body.  Because he's a boy, I didn't give him any eyelashes but he has a big grin.

And monkey number three, for the most adorable middle child of the family.  The green arms, tail and ears are plain green, but tone so well with the green stripe in the body sock - which has blue, grey, pale blue and green stripes.  Again, no eyelashes, but another big grin (just like his new owner).

I left all the name tags blank so the kids (or their parents) can name their special monkeys whatever they'd like.  Turns out, the boys ended up swapping monkeys (which is perfectly fine with me, so long as everyone was happy...and they were!).  It was truly the most amazing gift to receive a couple of photos a few days later with the kids and their monkeys.

This smile makes everything worthwhile!!  It's the best gift back ever!!!

Monday, 25 May 2015

Update: Nana's Quilt

I managed to sew the red border on and then hummed and hawed whether to go with another white one or straight on to the blue....I chose to add the extra white.  It not only makes the quilt a bit bigger, it also separates the two bolder colours and lets the eyes 'rest' between all the colour that is in this quilt (I've read that's a good thing to do). 

I'm quite excited.  It's the biggest quilt I've ever sewn so far!  The width is 53" (with the added blue border...which I managed to forget to photograph!) and it's a bit longer than that.  I've dropped it off to be quilted, which is also exciting as it's only the second quilt I've ever had quilted professionally...both of them very special, very close to my heart. 

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Update: Nana's Quilt

As promised, here are some photos of the quilt I started back in May 2012 for my Nana, who sadly passed away that same month.  I chose bright colours that would cheer her up and brighten her room in the rest home. 

First stage of top completion - the white sashing is from a jelly roll, the strips of fabric in the blocks were all cut from larger pieces, I think it would be easier next time to use a couple of jelly rolls so all the strips are the same width.

My probable borders:  red, blue, navy/white stripe binding

I started following a pattern I found on youtube which looked easy.  Of course, being a newbie, I didn't realise how important 1/4 inch seams would be....consequently, my seams are all over the place in this quilt!  However, I think it's so far turned out okay.  I used a jelly roll of plain white sashing, my first time, to break up the busy-ness of the quilt. 

Next step will be to sew on some borders, get it quilted and then finish with the binding.  So, this is another to-be-continued post, hopefully it won't take another three years to finish!

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Unscheduled Break

When we lost my beautiful baby niece in December, I was lost.  I didn't want to create anything.  I didn't want to look at baby things or all the fabric and other bits and pieces I'd collected to make things for her.  I didn't even want to walk past the baby aisle in the supermarket or shops.  I had a huge hole in my heart and my life that was Elaina-shaped and that would never, ever go away. 

Today, several months later and that hole is still in my heart.  Sometimes, I think about something I could make for her, I see something she would love...a toy, an outfit, a book.  And my heart breaks again, cracking along those same lines....

So, I took a break.  I stayed in touch with craft-y friends, but I didn't make anything.  I admired their beautiful pieces, but I refused to sit at the sewing machine.  I commented and complimented their works of art, their quilts, their cushions, their creations, but I didn't make anything myself.  I even bought fabrics, threads, socks (for monkeys), buttons, etc....but I would NOT do anything with them other than file them in my cupboard. I sat at the sewing machine and sewed.....another poignant piece as I sewed together squares from the quilt I was making for my Nana before she passed away almost three years ago.  As a slow, gradual, sometimes crushing feeling of love, loss, happiness, grief came over me....I added stitches to Nana's quilt.  It's not will never be was started when I had little understanding of how to make a quilt.....but it will be filled with love, with my memories of her, with my memories of Elaina who had fueled my renewed crafting.  And it will always be mine to snuggle wrap around hold on to...

I will post pictures as it progresses.  Today was just the beginning of a slow process to reawaken my creative spirit, to allow myself to not only create, but to remember and to grieve anew.