Monday, 21 May 2012

It's been a funny old week!!!

Hey everyone, I have been somewhat elusive over that past 10 days or so, I took a weekend off last week to go and spend some time with my friend in Taunton, she's another "creative" and has been working on some jewellery to sell with me at "Volksfest" and wanted to do a photo shoot for promotion and her soon to be set up Folksy shop, I love her jewellery, she's very much a cool up-cycler so her newest collection is made up of old t-shirts, charms and bit's and bob's from broken jewellery....Very cool!
I came home on the Sunday and had intended to join in with the fabulous Handmade Monday folks but didn't get around to it, instead, on Monday, I had a complete melt down, not for any reason that I can actually explain, other than I am diagnosed Bi Polar and sometimes weird and unexplainable moods just seem to cover me like a nasty old rain cloud.  Not always low moods, sometimes I can get a little hysterical although the latter happens less and the former is normally accompanied by a complete inability to sleep, which after a few days can really feel like mental and physical torture!

Anyhow I'm not one to go on about such issues but after a trip to the doctors and a few extra magic pills to sedate and calm me down for a few days it lead on to me doing what I am going to show you for this weeks Handmade Monday.  I figured I would do some painting as I find working away at a canvas really relaxes me, I decided I didn't want to do a work related painting, just a bit of "Art".
Then it struck me that one of my friends had mentioned wanting a painting for his office, he had literally been promoted a few days before so I figured I would do him a painting as a way to congratulate him, I knew he had mentioned wanting a painting of an Eagle which is part of the Company name for who he works, so there I had it, an idea, a bit of personal therapy and a nice gift idea...................................

Yeah, whatever!

Honest to god I've never cursed, re-painted or stressed out over a canvas as much as I did with this one in my whole life, there were more than a few occasions where I gave serious thought to just putting my foot through it, but me being me, and refusing to admit defeat I finally came to a point where I stood back and thought ok, it's not great but it's not complete rubbish either.........I know declare it finished

I think (actually I know) that sometimes half my problem is, thanks to my dad, I was born a perfectionist, which is, for me, a double edged sword.
I think it's good to have a standard of quality, but sometimes I get silly about it, I guess it's because I know where I maybe went wrong a bit or where I couldn't get the perfect colour match, or whatever the case may be, but I stress myself out about it, get nervous about presenting the end product and then almost feel a bit dazed and confused when I get nothing but positive feedback, I've learnt to hold my tongue at this point too and just nod and thank people for their compliments, I used to go into one and say well it could be better or I messed that bit up...........But that never gets you anywhere apart from the odd stop being modest comment which goes on to make me feel even sillier than I did about panicking over handing the item over!

Anyhow, I'm going to stop rabbiting on and show you the painting, I'm making no comment as to where or what or how anything went wrong, and I will gladly take on any idea's for improvement to my technique or anything you can think of, I will simply say that my friend was more than happy with it and it now hangs on his office wall............................

The Eagle

That's about it for today, I'm off to nose about at some other great blogs on Handmade Monday as I always do, thanks for having a gander at what I've been up to, pop over and nose at other blogs too!

Monday, 7 May 2012

You'll Never Guess What I made!!!

Would you believe it....................
Of all the things I could have made today, I made a cushion, yes, a cushion!!!

That totals 318 cushions made in the last 3 weeks or so, anyone would think I was sick of cushions, I for one certainly was, however, my cushion idea was a cute little 12inch square designed to go along with my camper van and beetle cushions which you will all remember seeing in an earlier blog post.

It didn't take long at all and I actually enjoyed making it as opposed to my previous "not another cushion" mind set!!

For those of you who haven't checked in to find out the winner of the "Guess My Time" competition the winner was announced in my previous blog: And The Winner Is..................

I did a bit of baking over the weekend, I set out to make a nice Coffee and Walnut Cake, the house has seen a lot of comings and goings over the last 4 days, and some of the goings seemed to involve taking slices of my cake along with them, an unattended cake never lasts long in this house, I had thought of taking a nice picture of a scrummy cake to show for Handmade Monday so I got the camera out, went to the kitchen and opened the tin........................

Hang on a minute! I don't remember making a "Half Circle" cake!!! The missing pieces have been blamed on the "Fairy Cake" eaters, members of the family who I don't recall seeing over the last few days, and the newly available "it was the dog" excuse, which has been used for all intents and purposes since Dougie arrived!

Talking of Dougie, what a little character he is turning into already, I'd said in a previous post in the first few days of having him what a sleepy head he was and how he was quite timid and shy.........

Not any more!!!

He woke up Saturday and had obviously decided he wasn't the shy retiring type and came out of his crate somewhat deranged haha! Since then there has been no stopping him!

Here's a few updated pictures I've managed to snap in his calm state:

What A cutie!!

This is enough to make anyone's heart melt!

And here he is in full loony toon glory!

It was really nice to see him wake up full of fun and yap, we somewhat have to tread carefully at the moment as he is non stop around your feet asking you to play, I've already tripped over a few times trying to avoid stepping on him the little tyke!

Anyhow, there will no doubt be more pictures of Dougie as I continue to blog to my hearts content, I have a few Patchwork Square Tutorials to add which I hope to find the time to do tomorrow, so if you're sewing along with me, make sure you check back in soon!

For now I'm going to link up with Wendy for her brilliantly hosted Handmade Monday feature, if you have the time to pop over there you will find a whole host of interesting bits to read and other blogs to visit, I would also recommend a visit to Wendy's other Blog Handmade Harbour, where you will find some really interesting articles based around craft businesses along with tutorials and interviews with a whole host of brilliantly talented Artisans!

Friday, 4 May 2012

And The Winner Is...................

Mrs pink!!

Mrs Pink guessed at 58hours and 36minutes, which was the closest guess to my finished time of:

56hours and 38minutes!!!

I'm pretty pleased with that time, I had allowed myself 65 hours so am pleased that I finished with plenty of time to spare!!

So Mrs pink if you would care to email me your details and choice of animal and finish, I shall endeavour to post your Tea Cosy asap!!
My address is:

A big thank you to everyone who took the time to read my post and have a guess, it's nice to know my blogs actually get a little attention!

On another positive note, as you all know I attended a hair show on Monday in which my niece was entered in the 1st year category with the theme being history, The Title an aptly named Hairstorical.

I had helped Jessica make a crown out of cardboard which she then covered in plaited hair and some gold netting, my other niece Josefa was her model and I did her makeup, using Union Jack colours and patterns, Jessica wanted to concentrate on keeping it "British" being that this year is the Queens Diamond Jubilee, this is the hair creation that Josefa ended up waltzing down the catwalk to show off:

And this is the creation that won Jessica 1st Prize for the category!!  Yipeeeee!!

So all in all it's been a good week and I am one proud Aunty!!
I'm going to take the weekend off to spend some time with my nephew, he's come to stay and has asked me to do some baking with him................Good choice!! Fun and edible, always a good combination!!

I can foresee and edible Handmade Monday for me next week!!

Until then I wish you all a good weekend, and once again would like to say well done to Mrs Pink!


Monday, 30 April 2012

Handmade Monday 64

Hello everyone!!
I can't believe a whole week has gone by already!!
I'm afraid I'm going to cheat for Handmade Monday this week, as in, I don't have a personal make to show off, however, I do have an announcement...............................

The cushions are finished!!!!!!!!

At one point over the weekend I honestly thought I was going to lose the will to live and never get them finished!  I got down to the last batch of 40 and it felt like the pile just wasn't getting any smaller!
Now I always time my work using my stopwatch and looking on it I am surprised but very pleased with my completion time, as in it took nowhere near as much time as I thought, I actually feel on looking at it that I should have had more free time than I have actually had, but then there have been a few distractions and indeed other commitments that stopped the work flow!

So all in all it ended up being 317 cushions, which all in all took me......................................

??hrs and ??mins

Oohhhhh, A guessing game just popped into my head, or should I say a competition, hum, let me think about this......

Ok I've had a 10 minute think, and here it is:

Guess the time & win a prize:

So, the aim of the game is to guess how many hours and minutes it took me to complete 317 cushions, from start to finish, I'm going to give you a run down of how I produced the cushions, and them i'm going to give you some inside knowledge into my working pattern to help you make an educated guess at how long these cushions took me to complete, the person who is closest to the nearest hour and minute will win.
Now, the prize certainly isn't going to be a cushion, as you can imagine I am slightly sick of the things and need a little time out from making any more!!
So I have opted to give one of my quirky Animal Tea Cosy's to the winner, you'll even get to choose out of the animals that I make and the background fabric colour...............Good Huh? (Well I hope so anyway!)

So, here are the stages of production I went through:

I cut all the fabrics out into 64cm square
I over-locked 1 edge of each square
I paired the pieces up and stitched in 8cm from the sides along one edge
I basted the rest of this edge leaving a gap at each end between the previous stitching and the basting
I fitted the zip
I over-locked closed
I turned them through

And that's that, now for some hints to send you on your guessing way!!

I started work on the 12th april
I finished work on the 29th april
I have only worked one weekend day
Wednesdays are workshop day for me so I take this day off
I took 2 Thursday's off due to my cake decorating course and group rehearsals
I took last Friday off to look at a couple of litters of puppy's
I take an hour and a half's worth of breaks on a full working day

Because I use industrial machines I don't start sewing work until 10.30 and I finish at 5 so as not to drive the neighbours mad!!
I have an electric rotary cutter which allows me to cut up to 9 layers of fabric a time
I have production line experience so do sew with some speed!!

Right I think that is enough hints!!

All you need to do to enter is:

Follow my blog and leave a comment on this post with your guess.......................Simples!!

I shall announce the winner on Friday, that gives everyone time to have a guess!!

Now here are the choices of Tea Cosy's that the winner will be able to choose from...........
The winner will also be able to pick whether they have a cream finish or denim finish

Frog Tea Cosy
Cosy Frog

Cow Tea Cosy
Cosy Cow

Dog Tea Cosy
Cosy Dog

Owl Tea Cosy
Cosy Owl

Cat Tea Cosy
Cosy Cat

Monkey Tea Cosy
Cosy Monkey

Rabbit Tea Cosy
Cosy Rabbit

Pig Tea Cosy
Cosy Pig

I'm hoping there's enough choice there!!

Ok I think that's it for now, I'm heading over to Wendy's Handmade Monday feature to see what everyone else has been doing, why don't you venture over with me??



I KNOW WHAT I FORGOT!!! (Not really but saving the best for last is a must!!!!)

I am pleased to announce the arrival of.............................


He is such a sleepy head!!

Oh look, he's asleep!!

As you know I was off to look at some pup's last Friday, we ended up viewing an extra litter which is where we found this adorable little chap, His name is Dougie "Magic Denzel", Magic Denzel is his Kennel club name, his Grandad won Crufts a couple of years ago so I think we are going to end up with a handsome little chap, don't you??

Anyway that really is it for now, I am off to watch a Hair show tonight, my niece is in her first year of training and my second niece is her model, I did her make up earlier so I already know that she looks amazing but I can't wait to see her on the catwalk!!

I'm going to nose on Handmade Monday until it's time to go!!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Gone slightly off my rocker!!!!!

Hey everyone, so I have been completely neglectful of my baby blog of late, I have been a busy bee what with this cushion order.........................
Which I might add is reminding me of that good old film gremlins, I don't know what the trigger is yet but it appears that every time I meet a milestone the order seems to increase and multiply and take over my life that little bit more than it already had!

200 cushions has now become 320 cushions, the extra's being in different fabrics.
I have sewn in 124 zips today.........Oh the joy!

I will get there in the end!!

So what's been happening in the non cushion land of Nina? Blimmin' not much I can tell you!
I did start my cake decorating course on Thursday which was the complete highlight of my week so far for me, we worked on piping techniques and patterns, all good fun!  I can see now the little mistakes I made with the piping on the dartboard cake, so I have learnt for next time how to improve upon it.

I have only managed to make one new block for the patchwork quilt that I have been sharing with all of you which irks me slightly, but ho hum there's not much I can do about it whilst I have these cushions to get done!

So without further ado, here is my latest tutorial:

A block a day (I wish) keeps the boredom at bay:

Block 3:  The whirlwind Block:

whirlwind square patchwork block
The Whirlwind Block
What you will need to make the Whirlwind Square Block:

3 Different patterned/plain fabrics
Templates: Which you can download and print here (templates include a 5mm seam allowance)
Taylor's Chalk
Sewing machine - human or electrical!!

Now, For the sake of this tutorial I am going to label my fabrics A, B & C

whirlwind patchwork block

Here is the layout:

Whirlwind Square Layout
Whirlwind square layout
Now I have labelled the Whirlwind square template pieces as 1 & 2, and used this cutting guide:

Using template number 1:  Cut 2 in fabric A and 2 in fabric B
Using template number 2:  Cut 4 in fabric C

So to start with lay out your 4 template number 1 pieces:

whirlwind patchwork block

Then with right sides facing lay your template number 2 pieces into position, and using a 5mm seam allowance sew along where the dotted line shows:

whirlwind patchwork block

You'll end up with 4 pieces like so:

whirlwind patchwork block

Now taking one of each pattern lay them out like so and then place together, right sides facing as the arrows show:

whirlwind patchwork block

Using your 5mm seam allowance stitch along the edge where the dotted line shows:

whirlwind patchwork block

Lay your remaining two pieces in exactly the same way and repeat the above process, you'll end up with two triangles like so:

whirlwind patchwork block

Following the direction of the arrows put the pieces right sides together and stitch, again where the dotted line shows:

whirlwind patchwork block

Easy peasy lemon squeezy.......................Our whirlwind square patchwork block!!

whirlwind patchwork block
Whirlwind Square Patchwork Block

Now, being the busy bee that I am of late, I wrote half of the above blog yesterday but just didn't find the time to finish it, and I can say that since then something truly exciting has happened.......................................

We have confirmed with a lady in Somerset to go to her house on Friday to view some PUPPIES!!!!!!!!

I cannot tell you how excited I am, I lost my last dog when I separated from my ex boyfriend and I was devastated to say the least.  But onwards and upwards, it took me a while to get over it, and I still wonder how he is doing now but it will be nice to welcome a new member into the family!

So boy puppy names are now on my mind instead of cushions..........I can now sew and think of names, instead of "what number cushion is this" or "will I ever finish these cushions" or "oh look, another cushion!"

Anyhow, I think that is enough blab from me for now, I'm off to traverse around 3 stacks of cushions to get out of this room, hop, skip and jump over the one's on the landing and then move the four piles off the bed so I can get in it and catch up on some TV whilst perusing the lovely blog's that can be found over at Handmade Monday, hosted by Wendy of 1st Unique Gifts, I strongly recommend you do the same, without the cushion assault course of course!!!!!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Excuses, Excuses........................And Cake!

Hey everyone!

So I started my block a day patchwork project with you guys, published the first block tutorial whilst completely forgetting I had to make a Birthday cake for my friends birthday and then attend the party to eat it, so my block a day is currently running at a block every 3 days, however, I can assure you from now it will be a block a day!!

Here's a peek at the cake I made:

So I wasn't completely happy with it, mainly my piping was a bit pants, but the Birthday Boy was well happy so  I'm not going to beat myself up about it!
My cake decorating course starts Thursday which I am super excited about, and hopefully they will teach me better piping techniques!!!

I think this cake is a good excuse for not doing my squares, however I am back now and ready to write the tutorial for the next block, so here goes nothing!

A Block A Day Keeps The Boredom At Bay:

Anti Madness Block 2: The Diamond Square Block:

This Is The Block Template

What you will need to make the Diamond Square Block:

3 Different patterned/plain fabrics
Templates: Which you can download and print here (templates include a 5mm seam allowance)
Taylor's Chalk
Sewing machine - human or electrical!!

Now, For the sake of this tutorial I am going to label my fabrics A, B, C & D:

And this is the way I'm laying them out:

Now you will see on the template each pattern piece is numbered, this is how you need to cut your pieces:

Using template number 1, Cut 1 in fabric C
Using template number 2, Cut 4 in fabric A
Using template number 3, Cut 4 in fabric B

(I should have done it 1,2,3 - A,B,C but I didn't think about it at the time, slap on the wrist for me!)

So to make this block you start with your centre square and 2 pieces of your number 3 template:

Following the directional arrows place your triangles onto your square, right sides together and sew using a 5mm seam allowance where I have shown the dotted line:

Iron your seams facing outwards towards the triangles and you end up with this:

Now take your remaining template 3 pieces and lay them out:

Again following the directional arrows place your triangles onto your block, right sides together, and sew your 5mm seams as the lines show:

Again iron the seams towards the triangles.  You now have a slightly bigger square:

Now my edges aren't perfect but I'm not going to panic as I can rectify that in the next stages.
All we need to do now is attach our template number 2 pieces, which is basically the same method we just used, so let's get to it and lay our first 2 pieces out:

So again following the directional arrows, I'm going to place my triangles onto my square right sides together and attach using my 5mm seam allowance on the lines shown:

Press your seams towards the triangles

Lay out your remaining 2 pieces, and sew Your 5mm to the line shown:

Press your remaining seams out towards the triangles, and there you have it, our Diamond Square Block
is complete!!

diamond square block

All done and dusted, ready for another one tomorrow!
As you all know this Block a Day thing is simply to keep me from going of the rails whilst I complete a rather large order for a rather boring cushion cover, I am surrounded by all the pieces I have cut out *sobs*
Tomorrow is going to be a long day, I'm going to head off now, make myself a last cuppa for this evening and mosey on over and have a nose on the Handmade Monday page and see what everyone's been up to, I would highly recommend that you do to!!

Until tomorrow!!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

A Block A Day Keeps The Boredom At Bay!!!

So, if you've read my blog you'll know that I have been hired to make up 200 cushions for someone, they are plain and simple 60cm square zip closure cushions in cream...................................................BORING!

Sewing the same thing over and over again is rather dull, but then I would be rather silly to turn down a well paid job, so, I decided I needed to break my day up, only a little, but enough to keep my sanity in check!

This is where my aptly named blog title comes into play, here is my "how to not go crazy" plan:

A Block A Day Keeps The Boredom At Bay:

The ultimate goal is to create a patchwork quilt for a friends daughter for her birthday, as a nice surprise (hopefully)

Her birthday isn't until June, she will be turning "terrible 2" haha!

So I figure I have plenty of time to spread the making of this quilt over.........a block a day to be exact!

When formulating my "how to not go crazy" plan I thought it would be cool to record my daily "anti-crazy sewing session" and turn it into a tutorial, that way if you wish to, you can join the "Block A Day" crew!!

Now as the age old saying goes............There is no time like the present, so lets crack on!!

Anti Crazy Block 1: The Chequer Square Block

This is the block design
What you will need to make the Chequer Square Block:

4 Different patterned/plain fabrics
Templates: which you can download and print here (templates include a 5mm seam allowance)
Taylor's chalk
Sewing machine - human or electrical!!

Now, For the sake of this tutorial I am going to label my fabrics A, B, C & D:

And this is the way I am laying them out:

So once you have downloaded your template you should cut as follows:

Using the Square Template cut:
2 Squares from fabric A
2 squares from fabric B
4 squares from fabric D

Using the Rectangle Template cut:
4 Rectangles from fabric C

Ok so we start our chequer square by making the centre square, to do this:
Lay out your A & B squares as in the diagram above and below

Now following the direction of the arrows put the right sides together (from top to bottom in picture) place your A square on your B square and then your B square onto your A square, so you end up with them positioned as shown below.

Using your 5mm seam allowance, stitch where I have drawn a dotted line:

Once you have sewn the 2 squares you will end up with 2 rectangles as below, iron your seams towards the A squares, this way when you lay them together the seams will lay in opposite directions and you won't get a bulky middle point.

Now making sure your squares are opposite each other diagonally , place right sides together, again in the direction the arrows show:

Stitch using your 5mm seam allowance along the dotted line:

Ta Dah! Your middle square is done!...................Iron your seam to one side, it doesn't matter which

Now,  take 2 of your rectangles that you cut from your "C" fabric as shown below

Lay your right sides together and stitch along the dotted lines

Now you have a piece that looks like this:
Iron both seams facing outwards

Now going back to your other bits, Take your remaining pieces and lay them out to make strips like these:

Placing your 2 D squares onto the ends of your C rectangle right sides facing, stitch along the dotted lines
Repeat this process with your last 2 D squares and C rectangle

You'll end up with two strips like so:
Press your seams in towards the rectangle

Lay out all your pieces as shown below

Placing the top strips onto the main middle section right sides facing, sew where the dotted lines are shown:

Hey Presto, we made a Chequer Square patchwork block:
Iron your final 2 seams outwards

Chequer square patchwork block
Chequer Square Patchwork Block

Wasn't that easy?
Just that little break of making something pretty and colourful kept me as sane as I could ever hope to be!
I'm going to continue my daily blocks and I will continue to share, so why not bob along each day and join in!!

Until tomorrow folks!!