A review of January (and December!)

There was obviously too much going on at the start of the year for me to find time to review December, I got as far as looking at photo’s but that was it. So I made a couple of infinity scarves (photo’s 1 and 6) one for me and one for my (almost) sister in law.

Infinity Scarf for me - voile and velveteen

Mine is voile and velveteen (swapped with the lovely Jan – thanks) and the other was flannel and voile, all Anna Maria Horner prints:

Voile/flannel infinity scarf

A pair of oven gloves for me – yes I know how to treat myself, seriously though the old pair were rather past it and it is a simple pleasure to have such a fancy new pair!  I used Adrienne’s tutorial and it worked a treat.

Oven gloves

I used denim for the ‘dirty’ side and it’s great, nice and hardwearing, all I want now is another pair for when these are in the wash!

I made a string block cushion cover for my niece using Molli Sparkles String Piecing Without a Foundation tutorial:

String Block cushion cover

For my youngest niece I made a memory game and bag to keep all the pieces in:

Memory game and bag

January looked a bit like this:

Made in January

Economy blocks, lots of work on the wedding quilt, mini art folios for birthday gifts, lone star cushion, paper pieced shirts and a bee block.

However my favourite piece of sewing was not my own but I am still quite proud:


My eldest daughter has been wanting to sew and at last I have been feeling well enough to let her get on with it, so the other weekend she picked fabric scraps, stitched them together, quilted them and turned the panels in to a pencil case for herself:


I helped her with the zip but other than that she pretty much got on and did herself. We’d welcome suggestions for other projects she can tackle next.

Linking up with:

Lily's Quilts

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My new sewing space

I thought it was about time that I documented my new sewing space, before it looks really messy lived in.  If you’re a regular reader you will have endured a number of months this year of me not having a kitchen, dining room or a space to call my own to sew in.

We’ve had building works going on, last week the builders were back in to ‘tidy up’ and  ‘finish off’ (although in taking these photographs my husband spied a fair bit of mess left on top of one of the cupboards).

The result of all the work is that we have a light and airy back of the house rather than a gloomy one and a lot more space.  So I now have a sewing area.  It is a room that you have to walk through from the hallway to the kitchen/diner so it will have to stay reasonably tidy.

This was the view on Friday evening before I tided up:


I had started to make a bag and was also part way through sorting out my vintage sheet stash (which has been living upstairs) which is the reason for the clutter.

This is the view from the hallway (he took the door off for the photo):


The view from the corner by the right hand cupboard:


You can see that from this ‘aerial’ shot that it leads down to the kitchen/diner and then out to the garden.  At the top of this picture is a wide window which lets it lots of light but very little direct sunlight (you can also see it in the night time photo above).

What you can’t see from those pictures is the other side of the stairs which aren’t technically part of my sewing space but who cares?

New stairs - after decoration

If you want to know more about them and how I did it read this post.


My sewing machine sits on the yellow formica table that I found recently at the charity shop.  The leaves fold down so depending on how much space I need I have them up or down.  I can put them both down and put the table underneath the worktop and have it right out of the way if I need floor space.  (I also have a fireplace which is perfect for small children to sit in and suck thumbs).

So have you had enough of the tidy photo’s?

Here are some open door shots:

Vintage sheet stash

The top cupboard houses my vintage sheet stock which I sell in my etsy shop looking the neatest it has for a long time.  The bottom cupboard contains vintage fabrics (not sheets) that need sorting/rehoming and a bag or 2 of vintage sheet scraps.

The cupboards either side of the fireplace were made for us by a by a local craftsman a few years ago.  The cupboard to the left was removed during the building works due to the changes to the back of the house but my talented husband fitted them back in with some adjustments (the space was slightly smaller) once the work was finished.

The other cupboard

This is home to my sewing machine extension table, boxes of scrap fabrics (sorted by colour), a box of hardware (self cover buttons, trigger clasps, magnetic bag clasps etc) and zips.

You can just see on the wall behind the open cupboard door a hand printed linocut of goldfish bags with kissing goldfish by the talented Amy Friend of During Quiet Time.

Deep breath…this is the fabric stash cupboard:

My fabric stash

We found ourselves in a bit of a vicious circle, we couldn’t move the contents of one cupboard until the cupboard upstairs was empty of fabric and moved downstairs for all our crockery but we couldn’t move fabric until the built-in cupboards were empty.  Then I realised that we had this unit from our old kitchen that we weren’t reusing in the new kitchen so I could have it in my space, so I literally pulled out all my fabric from the cupboard upstairs and shoved it into this one – just to get things moving!  It’s a 60cm deep cupboard so the fabric goes back a long way.  I will sort it very soon and probably put it in the cupboard to the left of the fireplace.

Can you see that this is very much a work in progress?  At the moment that cupboard has an odd shaped piece of work top on it, it’s doing the job for the time being.  I think that I would like to keep the cupboard as it’s a great height for cutting so I have my eye on a table top from Ikea, it’s deeper than a kitchen work top which will give me a bit more space to work on.  If you have any tips and advice on work top sizes please tell me.  Ideally I’d like to be able to work around 3 sides of it so we might just configure the space differently but for now I am just so glad to be getting back to (a new sort) normal.

Sometime I may paint the room for now I have some things on display looking pretty including a gorgeous print of threads from Rebekah Leigh Marshall a localish artist whose work you can find in her etsy shop.


I also have a print of a Singer sewing machine by Rebekah which is framed and already hanging.

The wooden unit was a charity shop find and has been in the loft for at least a year waiting for the extension to be complete.  I’ll probably fix it to the wall and fill it with ‘things’ but have yet to decide where.

Also hanging up I’ve got some paper pieced blocks hanging up (I love picture rails) and 2 quilt tops waiting to be basted, quilted and bound.


The bad news is that there are a couple of big boxes in the loft of sewing patterns, books, notions etc that also need to be stored somewhere down here and a Horn sewing cabinet in our bedroom which I think will be leaving me as my machine is too big for it.  Oh and there’s my original Janome and my hand powered Singer somewhere around the house.

I hope you’re enjoyed the tour, hopefully soon it will be more organised and feel like home.  I’m linking up with the Studio Spotlight Series; go on over and have a nose through other people’s sewing spaces, some are huge, some have sewing spaces housed in a cupboard in the kitchen.


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Are you staring at my stairs?

A few weeks ago when we were beginning to settle in to the new bit of the house I decided that I had time and energy to execute a plan that had been swirling around in my head for a while.

Due to the slope from the back of the house to the garden the house extension has included a set of stairs from the ‘old’ dining room to the new kitchen/diner. Tobit had laid the bamboo flooring in both areas and used it on the stairs too but still the risers needed something doing to them.

New stairs - before

Well yes we could have left them as they were but I had a plan which involved vintage sheets and some PVA glue and this was the result:

New stairs - after decoration

Impressive? I smile every time I look at them (ok that might be a slight cheesey exaggeration but you get the idea):


It was so easy to do, so here’s a quick lesson (it is really all you need)

PVA glue
Clean empty pot (for mixing glue)
Rotary cutter and board or scissors
Tape measure
Paint/glue brush

Ensure that the area to be decorated is clean and dry. My surface was new wood, if the stairs are painted I would suggest that you need to remove the paint (but I am no expert).
Measure the size of the area you want to cover and cut a piece of fabric that size.
Mix some glue with a little water in a pot, just enough water to make it easy to paint on but not too much water that it will run/drip everywhere.
Paint the glue over the area to be glued.
Apply fabric to the area and smooth out any creases, lumps of bumps.
Allow to dry. Once dry apply a coat or 2 of glue/water mix over the fabric area to seal and protect.

There you go – job done. I think the hardest part was choosing which fabrics from my vintage sheet stash I should use.

New stairs - after

My eldest daughter did then ask if I was going to do the set of stairs that go up to bedrooms – I think the answer is no (for now!). I am however wondering about what other surfaces I could cover…

Thanks to Judith for her hints and tips after I’d read this post and to Karen for her inspiring stairs that I first saw a few years ago and have stayed in my mind ever since!

If you have any questions please leave a comment below or if you decide to apply the same treatment to your stairs please let me know I’d love to see.  And if you want some vintage sheet fabrics I can set up a custom listing in my etsy shop for you, just let me know measurements and the colours you would like.

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It’s snowing at last

While the rest of the UK appears to have been blanketed in snow for the last week we’ve not had any.  Travel 2 or 3 miles out of the city and I’m told you’ll find some, but this morning it is snowing.

So now seems the ideal time to show you a particular finished project.  When I was sewing it last week, Bethan did ask me why I was making it now as Christmas had gone.  I did point out that January was more likely to be snowy than Christmas despite what Christmas cards and marketing campaigns might suggest (I didn’t actually say that last bit to her!).

First a bit of background, the lovely Joanne who blogs at Rose and Dahlia had a giveaway to celebrate her 100th post and I was the lucky winner of this delicious bundle of goodies:
Gorgeous giveaway gift

All contained in a gorgeous bag made by Joanne from the Ruby Star Wrapping book.  Thank you so much Joanne, it was a delight to receive.

It arrived a little while before Christmas but I didn’t have time to create anything.  A few weeks ago I saw that Threadbias were hosting a sew along using the book.  It’s a year long sew along with projects picked for each month, they’re not all Christmas projects but it won’t hurt to be ahead of the seasons!

So for January the project is the Greetings from Antarctica cushion (and yes I know that polar bears don’t live in the Antarctic), there are 3 different options for this, I picked the hatless penguin:

Greetings from Antarctica

I have very little embroidery experience but managed to add a few snowflakes to the front one evening.

It’s a paper piecing pattern which I don’t have a great deal of experience with but I managed it ok. The little penguin on the back seemed much easier to do maybe because it the same pattern just smaller or maybe because Bethan and I did it together on Saturday afternoon!

Greetings from Antarctica

The back of the cushion has a zip hidden by a flap, I’ve not done one this way before, preferring to go with a concealed zip but as this cushion has binding on my brain couldn’t work out how to do that with a concealed zip.

I liked this pattern, I think I will make the polar bear and penguin with a hat so that the children have one each, not sure when they will get done…

One note of warning I have seen that there is errata for the penguin with a hat, details here.

And in the time it’s taken to write this post it hasn’t stopped snowing, but it doesn’t appear to be settling so it’s not looking remotely like the Antarctic (or Arctic for that matter).  I hope you’re managing to stay warm (or cool if you’re in the southern hemisphere!)


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Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day – sewing and craft supplies (now closed)

Hello and welcome to all of you lovely people visiting for the first time as part of the Sew Mama Sew giveaway day and happy Monday to all my regular readers.

I’m Mary, I live in the south west of England with 3 young children and a wonderful understanding husband who for the most part supports my sewing habit whole heartedly (even fabric shopping for me when on trips to the US), oh and today is my birthday.

Back in May I opened an Etsy shop as an outlet for my excessive vintage sheet collection, thanks to all you who been helping me out by buying the kits and charm packs!

Vintage Sheet Charm Squares (5")

Today I’m giving away 3 packs of vintage charms – 126 charms in total.  You could use them to make some baby quilts or to make one big quilt.  I’ve made a few baby size quilts and would love to make a large one using my charms so I’m hoping that giving away some packs will motivate me to get on and make one.

Chevron quilt made with vintage sheets

Vintage sheet baby quilt

The charm packs will include a selection of fabrics the same or similar to the ones here:

Vintage Sheet Charm Squares 5"

I’ll also enclose a pack of Vintage Fabric Tape, made by me using up scraps from my charm cutting.

Vintage Fabric Tape

And just as a thank you for visiting and because it’s my birthday, this week I’m offering you 15% discount in my shop using the code SMS1212 until Sunday 9 December 2012 at 9pm (UK time).

To enter please leave a comment telling me what you are most looking forward to doing this week, I’m looking forward to eating chocolate cake with sour cream that my husband and middle child baked yesterday afternoon.

For additional entries you can:
Subscribe to my blog (top right of this page)
Add my Etsy shop to your favourites
Like my Facebook page

Just leave an additional comment letting me know any of those you do and please ensure that I have a way of contacting you if you win.

Open internationally

Comments will close on Friday December  7 at 5pm PST (which is 1am here in the UK, funnily enough I’ll probably be asleep at that time so any comments left after this time will be deleted!)

The winner will be selected using Random Number Generator and will be announced by Sunday December 9.

I should also mention that I’m organising a Vintage Sheet Fat Quarter swap (predominantly for the UK and Ireland due to postage costs).

If you are interested in joining in check out the flickr group here

Lastly but not least don’t forget to head back on over to Sew Mama Sew for so many other fantastic opportunities to win.


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Ruby Star Post

I had a lovely package in the post last week from Amy/Sukie who blogs at ‘don’t you know who I am?

You may well have seen that Meloday Miller, fabric designer and illustrator has brought out a book – Ruby Star Wrapping in collaboration with Allison Tannery.  Amy is hosting a Wrap-Along and had a giveaway for 5 books and I was one of the lucky winners.  Not only did Amy send the book, she very kindly included a copy of Mollie Makes (that I don’t have), a children’s clothing pattern and some tailors chalk:

Ruby Star Wrapping + goodies

You can read Melody’s post about the book and see more images here.

I’ve been fairly busy since the book arrived but have sneaked half an hour with it at bedtime.  I am impressed, there are stacks of projects in there for reusable gift packaging – helping us to stop wasting and start/continue reusing.  So I’m hoping that in the next week or so I’ll have time to dig in and make some of the projects and maybe even get round to linking them up with the Wrap-Along.  Thanks again Amy.

Come back tomorrow for your chance to win…

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Andover here we have…

My Andover goodies:

Andover goodies

A cloth bag which is great for filling at the shops (yep no plastic bags here), a charm pack of Dimples, one of each colour – that’s 135 charms!

A fat quarter bundle of Savannah Bop by Thomas Knauer

Savannah Bop FQ's

So why did they send me this?  Ah ha because I entered an item that I had made using Andover fabric in to the Your Andover contest.

Red Letter Day frame purse

Made using fabrics from the Red Letter Day line by Lizzy House that I purchased from Saints and Pinners ages ago, I’ve eeked out the fabric to make the most of it because I love it so much!

Red Letter Day frame purse

You can see the blog post about my win here on the Andover blog.

There is still time to send in your entry, and there is also a grand prize of $500 Andover Fabrics Gift Certificate and a Dimples Fat Quarter Mega-Bundle of all 135 colours!

Thanks very much Andover for my wonderful prize, now to decide what to make with my Savannah Bop.

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Old fabric, new life

I’ve spent what feels like a lot of time cutting vintage sheet charm squares recently for my Etsy shop and have been wondering what to do with the off cuts. I already carefully cut each piece of fabric carefully before folding and putting through the Go! Baby but inevitably there are bits left.

I have a drawer in a chest in our bedroom that is stuffed full of sheet offcuts, some because they have a slight mark on and others because they are smaller than 5″ square, I also have narrow and wide hems in there!

In a mission to reduce the amount of fabric in the drawer I decided to try and make some fabric tape. Now here is a joyous moment when I realised that in the UK we have something that folks in the USA don’t seem to have – double sided sticky tape!

The long and short of my experimenting is that – it works! So from today I will be adding packets of fabric tape to my Etsy shop.

Vintage Fabric Tape

I’ve used it instead of clear sticky tape when wrapping presents, it adds a real ‘pop’ to the gift:

Presents ready to be gifted using vintage sheet fabric tape

I gave a friend a birthday gift on Friday that was wrapped and used the tape on that, she was quite delighted, even more so when she realised the gift also contained a packet of tape for her own personal use, she then told me it would go in the special stationery box just to be looked at!

So I hope you like it and if you fancy a packet of your own to use (or keep) head on over to my Etsy shop.  You can also enter to win a packet, please leave a comment below and I’ll use the random number generator to pick a lucky winner next Sunday evening (7 October). Giveaway now closed.

Linking up with:

Sew Happy Geek

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I don’t know what to do

That phrase has been going over and over in my head for the last week or so.

I finished the secret piece of work and because of number of you are impatient and maybe even nosey curious so I’ll show you a sneak peek:

Top secret - sneak peek

I completed another secret project for someone else and then I was stuck. I want to get another quilt started, I need to get making things for Christmas fairs and presents, I need to get ready for the workshops I’m teaching later this month. But still no inspiration came.

A couple of weeks ago Johanna wrote that she had a load of scraps she wanted to get rid of just for the cost of the postage, so I said yes, and not long afterwards a large shoe box arrived stuffed full with a lot of lovely scraps:

Gorgeous scraps #1

Gorgeous scraps #2

Bethan and I spent a few hours sorting through them and putting them into the right colour box.

Last night I started pulling out pieces and cutting them into 1.5? x 5.5? strips ready for a strip quilt, inspired by Rita’s one here and Cindy’s (in fact Cindy and I did some fabric scrap swapping with quite funny results!). I almost have all the strips cut just from scraps in my boxes.

So at least I am now doing something rather than dwelling on the fact that I’m doing nothing. Oh and I also made an infinity scarf for my wonderful husband:

Infinity scarf

I used the same Riley Blake flannels that I used in the one I made for Leah, I made it slightly longer but not much. I’m struggling to find any masculine flannel or voile which would be suitable for this sort of project for a man, I’m looking to find something that isn’t novelty – any suggestions gratefully received, especially as someone is trying to wangle another trip to the US and I could make sure it includes fabric shopping.

Tobit was quite pleased with the finished project and despite it being a sunny afternoon in September he offered to model it for me!

Infinity scarf

So at least someone is ready for the cooler weather!

My fingers are definitely crossed for a productive week.

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Colouring and sewing

It’s been quiet here on the blog, I’ve been having a bit of a break, looking after the children, doing ‘stuff’ and not being motivated or inspired to sew or blog very much.

Anyway back in March we made a trip to Ikea, it’s not local so it’s a serious business and we have a specific purpose for the trip. Not too surprising though one of the things that was on the list was fabric, I’d seen the Britten Hus print by Emma Jones and thought I needed some of it for the children to play with.

During the Easter holidays I cut the children a square each to colour in using fabric pens. They spent a while on it but never finished them. Both girls got them out again last week and Leah completed hers ready for me to sew it up into a cushion cover:


I added a piece of wadding and lining to the back of the panel and although you can’t really see from the photo I quilted around the houses and some window to add a bit of definition. It’s backed with some lovely red corduroy that I picked up from a car boot sale in February. Another invisible zip and a little girl delighted with her art work. Big sister would like hers to be sewn up too but I think she needs to do some more colouring first…

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