Bags, bags, bags…

I’m writing this post knowing that I can’t publish it until after Christmas as the intended recipients might well be reading, but I am really pleased with myself finishing up a few of my present sewing list today so I’m writing whilst I’m all enthusiastic.

It seems the thing for me this year is bags, I can’t get enough of them.

I knew I wanted to make a simple tweed bag that I could decorate with some of my flower brooches for my sister-in-law, it’s basically a larger version of a project I was working on back in late summer and that should have been completed for the shop for listing before Christmas, but due to illness, never was (more on that in another post).  In the end, I remembered there were some bag patterns in Ellen Luckett Baker’s book 1-2-3 Sew and I settled on the Tiered Bag pattern.  I think I’ve said before that I’m not very good at using patterns, I have a tendancey to mess with them and certainly with the making instructions (which I often don’t read, silly really as the writers I’m sure have spent many hours testing them), but this was super easy to make and I whipped it up in no time and I’m so glad I just went with Ellen’s pattern and didn’t spend hours working one out myself.  I did use different linings and interfacing, but that’s simply my personal preference and experience of using the weight of the fabrics I chose.

Because the bag was so quick and easy (this is such a great book, I really do recommend it) it left me plenty of time to play with the decoration, which was really the point.  I stitched up a couple of removable flower brooches in matching golds and creams, in real life the colours are a little more subtle and the tweed is plain-ish herringbone in pale gold so it sits nicely as a backdrop for the flowers.  I’m really pleased with the finished bag, so much so I fancy one for myself!

It has a nice matching lining with a pocket, in Acorn Chain by Joel Dewberry and I figured that one or both of the brooches can be removed and maybe worn on a coat collar etc making this quite versatile and great for a special occasions.

So, as I was on a roll I also made a couple more of the Market Totes that led me to Ellen’s book in the first place.  Those that have been reading may remember that I made some as teachers gifts at the end of last year, the pattern at the time was released as promotion for the book on the blog Chronicle Books and it’s what made me go buy the book.  These are one of my favourite gifts to give and are so quick and easy to make.

Oddly, I used my original pattern which I cut from intuition and some measurements given in the post (my printer doesn’t do enlarging….it probably does but I haven’t the faintest idea how to work it), even though I could have traced the pattern from the book, gosh I’m lazy.  I meant to compare my version to the actual so see how far out I am.

Inside is a little message for Gran and Auntie T 🙂

Hope you had a lovely Christmas, we will no doubt as usual do nothing what so ever for New Year’s Eve, I’m normally in bed quite early to be honest as the kids don’t allow for a lie-in but whatever your plans I hope it’s a good one 🙂

Batman and Vampire Mice…

I have finally finished my last sewing project – hurrah!

Last night I quickly sewed up the cape for Vampire Mouse, which I have been trying to work on in secret whilst the boys are around.  This is more difficult than it sounds as my studio also has the spare bed in it and the boys like to ‘hang out’ there (it’s and old double brass Victorian thing) and watch tv (it’s the only other room in the house with a telly in it) plus M has made it his convalescence bed whilst resting his shoulder and ribs….I can’t lie I will be very excited to have it back to myself once everyone is back at school and work.

Anyhow here we are, Batman Mouse as requested by C when I refused to give up one of the new Pirate Mice I made for the shop.

and Vampire Mouse for F, both to be stuffed in the top of their stockings.  I have explained that I will leave them out for Santa to include in their gifts.

M and I just had a laugh that they will complain straight away that the details are wrong.  F is very specific about his ideas and likes to over think things, for instance he demanded dripping blood from the teeth of the vampire prompting a hasty bit of additional embroidery from me and as I was selecting fabric for batman cape there was talk of jet packs and ‘pointy bits on the arms’.  They are soooooo excited already, I think we’ll have to start counting down the hours soon 😉

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas.

The kindness of bloggers…

We have recently arrived back from the hospital where we collected M who had his collar pin operation yesterday (and is doing very well, although he’s in some pain which is to be expected). It’s all a bit stressful with small kids, their interest lasts about 10 seconds and they are always attempting to touch buttons/pull cables that they shouldn’t so by the time we arrived home I was getting a bit tense and short tempered to be honest.  However, waiting on the doormat was the most lovely surprise package all the way from the lovely Mia in snowy Finland.

I was so excited I actually waited until we’d had lunch before sneaking upstairs to my studio to open it in peace (I am the kind of person who likes to savour opening gifts).   I’ve been reading Mia’s blog for a long time now and she makes the most wonderful things, in fact we are enjoying her snowman coasters at the moment that I bought last year and one of her little birds hold my keys, which she also sent me as a generous gift.

Inside is the most beautiful pouch,

complete with Mia’s always thoughtful matching lining, beautifully made

and containing some wonderful goodies to cheer up my miserable self and family.  I am in fact munching on the chocolate as I type (it’s delicious) and the boys are happily sucking their Moomin lollies, in a moment I shall pop downstairs and put the grey felt heart on our tree.

Thank you dearest Mia for your kind and thoughtful gift, it really has cheered me immensely and reminds me of what a wonderful bunch of people I have been lucky to get to know through ‘blogworld’ and how much I appreciate the community I have found on-line.  I often find it hard to explain blogging and tweeting to people who have no real interest and think it’s all a bit weird, the thing I find the hardest to explain is that the friendships you make are very real and mean an awful lot.  Let’s face it, most of you reading understand this but I just felt it was worth saying.

OK, I’d best get my Nurse Nancy hat on and see how M is doing….maybe a tiny bit more chocolate first 😉

Boys Messenger Bags…

This is to be a quick post as in half an hour I shall be wrapped up warm and singing carols in the school playground.

Thanks for all your lovely comments and get wells from the last post (I will reply to comments when I have a mo), I am feeling much better and today for the first time in weeks I have been busy in the studio sewing.  This is partly, I admit that I have zero time left to finish up any secret gifts for the boys so I have favoured sewing over housework….which let’s face it, I’d probably do anyway.

A while ago now I read this fantastic post by Zoe of Scented Sweetpeas with the most adorable linen nature satchel she had made for her daughter and I instantly felt inspired to make the boys a bag each for Christmas, like many mums I often end up as the family mule and I think encouraging the boys to sometimes carry their own things on outings is a great idea.  Zoe’s bag is lovely, I especially like her idea to use a laminated lining as both my boys are a bit messy and being able to wipe the inside is a great idea.

After coming up with some designs of my own based on past bag making, a hunt around the internet and a good think about what the boys requirements are I settled on using a pattern for a messenger bag from the book ‘little things to sew’ by Oliver +S.  I figured the boys need pockets and ideally an adjustable shoulder strap as they seem to grow inches practically every day and this fitted the bill perfectly.  It’s rare for me to sew from patterns but this seemed so right it was an obvious choice to use it.  After a little tweet about what materials to use, I dyed some of my linen union that has been sitting around in a box for ages and borrowing Zoe’s fantastic idea ordered some oil cloth for the linings.

For the straps I bought some heavy cotton webbing, in the pattern you stitch your own but I figured the boys are going to be rough on them so I wanted something strong and durable and I liked the idea of the contrast of textures and colours.  The bag in the book uses contrasting binding which I think would work quite well but as I was unsure of the ‘decoration’ I might add to the front, I decided to use a similar colour from my ready made cotton bias-binding stash.

I also didn’t bother with the front pocket flaps, I plan to make a version for myself in tweed (of course!) and then I will put them in but for the boys I preferred the idea of leaving them off and the pockets very accessible.  Luckily I had the entire bags stitched up except for the front main flap which I’d left unstitched to I could add some personalisation, before we all got ill.  I simply couldn’t decide what to do there, I had originally planned monster faces with gnashing teeth, but the boys are growing up fast and I wanted to make something they wont tire of too easily and with a more grown-up feel.

In the end I decided on stripes and their names.  I have rushed this morning to finish and hide them and in doing so they are not as ‘perfect’ as I would like.  The appliqued names were difficult to do, as I had the bags already made up I had to maneuver the entire bag under the machine which was quite difficult and the final binding around the outside could have been neater but on the whole I am very pleased.  I also forgot to add some D-rings and snaps for attaching ‘things’ which is a shame.

Right, must dash as I don’t want to miss seeing the kids sing, I actually prefer it to the nativity play, it’s nice to have all the school together and the parents joining in, who knows, if I carry on feeling so well I may even go for it tonight and have my first glass of (mulled) wine for some weeks 🙂

Bah-humbug!

You may be wondering where I’ve been….or not….let’s face it my blog postings can be quite erratic so you might not even have noticed that I’ve been rather absent.  I’ve opened this post with a shot of the fabulous Christmas Mouse sock advent calendar that arrives every year from M’s Mother in Germany.

It’s a total highlight and the boys get very excited over opening their sock and on the occasion that there is also a card inside, hunting in the ‘mouse bag’ for the corresponding gift.  A huge amount of work goes into putting this together and is much appreciated by us all (I have cheated and used photos from last year as you will see when you read on, I’m rather struggling at the moment).

Unfortunately this is the shot I should really have opened the post with, it’s the mixture of my and M’s meds that we’ve been happily chomping on over the past few weeks.  Me, I got ill as in proper ill, as in couldn’t do the usual ‘I’m-from-Yorkshire-and-don’t-do-ill-just-get-on-with-it-and-stop-moaning’ bit but had to just manage surviving the day instead.  To illustrate, as I write this F has wandered into the living room and has said (quote), “Mummy, when are you going to be jolly again, because you’re not jolly and haven’t been for ages, not since you got ill.”  Hummm, oh well, some antibiotics and a bucket load of Ibuprofen (other pain relief is available;) ) and I’m on the mend.  I can’t talk properly and have to mainly whisper but many would say that’s a bonus 🙂

M on the other hand is not looking so great, after an emergency brake and fall off his bike whilst doing 30 mph thanks to a car pulling out of a side junction in front of him he is slowly mending broken ribs and collar-bone. Or not, actually as we discovered today from the specialist, he now needs an op to re-set his collar-bone correctly.  Oh we’re having a jolly old time over here!

Enough, I’m done moaning now so on to some pretties because it is after all why most of you lovely ladies come visit, and I know you don’t mind my moan, but I like to think of my blog as my ‘happy place’ and ideally moan (ish) free.  I have finally managed to get out a few decorations, the above robin is new and comes from Indigo and Rose.  M doesn’t really do festive decorations, you should have seen his face when I brought the robin out, I have learnt to ignore him and go ahead anyway.

I cheered myself with this hugely festive and vintage cushion made by Felicity of Eclectic Handmade.  Felicity had blogged it a few days ago and I simply couldn’t resist, I have  a soft spot for needlepoint as my Gran used to stitch many and that bobble trim sold it!  It’s going to live on my studio chair but as that’s a bit scruffy at the moment I’ve sat it in out window seat instead next to last years winter cushion from Belle and Boo, where it can be properly admired over Christmas.

I’ve bought and made quite a few things I can’t show you, most frustrating but that’s how it works this time of year. I had a sudden realisation that this is the last week of school for the boys which means I should have made the teachers gifts which I had planned ages ago (oops!) and I only have a few days to complete the boys secret handmade goodies unless I plan lots of night time sewing.  I am this far into some special mice, can you tell what they are yet?

Ok I lied, I’m not done moaning, I started this post over the last weekend but having gone to the doctor’s today, I find I have pneumonia and am now on super high dose ‘they-might-give-you-c-diff-so-eat-lots-of-live-yoghurt’ antibiotics.  I’m actually quite pleased, at least I know what’s wrong and now I’m back on antibiotics it’ll hopefully be gone soon and I’ll feel normal and can get back to sewing/cleaning/being a jolly mummy 😉

And on a completely less miserable note, I did make it down the road to buy our tree on Saturday, I have to say, considering my slight lack of enthusiasm and rush to get it done we did pick well as it’s a beautiful tree and sets Glenda off perfectly and who knows, I may muster the enthusiasm to make gingerbread stars with the boys to hang on it this weekend:)