Friday, 25 September 2009

Sewing presents and labelling

Last week I made a last minute drawstring bag (like these ones) and put a copy of a favourite book in it, as a birthday present for one of O's friends.

The little girl's mother came up to me yesterday and thanked me for the present saying that the best thing about it by far was the label I had sewn onto the bag with her daughter's name on it. I could completely understand this. There is something so satisfying about labelling things with your name - saying 'this is mine!' to everybody who sees it and telling everyone that the labelled item (and presumably what is in it) is yours.

So I've made two more, as a birthday present for another friend of O, and for my nephew. Labelling all the way.

For my niece I've made a Letter Satchel from SouleMama's new book Handmade Home.

To make the letter satchel I had to turn the house upside down to find lightweight fusible interfacing. I knew I had some somewhere, but it took a while to find because I rarely use interfacing in my sewing. I usually find it easier to sew with an extra layer of fabric instead, but I had a feeling the letter satchel would look much better with the crispness of interfacing. And indeed it did.

I loved this project - even the interfacing - and am going to be making so many more of them.

The final thing I managed to get round to this week was sewing two little taggie blankets for the two nephews-to-be. This was entirely a diversionary tactic because the last few centimetres of the first Baby Kicking Bag are taking FOREVER. When will it end??

Possibly when I stop sewing and get back to the knitting.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Seen on the Tube

The Central Line - South Woodford to St Paul's
Three iPod listeners and a newspaper reader

  • I am sitting opposite a man with fleshy, dissatisfied lips and an untrimmed beard over a pale, spotty face. He is carrying an old black, leather bag with mud crusted onto the bottom of it. He is listening to music on big, green, expensive looking headphones.
  • A large lady, in her late 50s, wearing a well-cut linen trouser suit and a sparkly breast cancer pin badge, has very shouty rock music leaking from her ear buds.
  • The man next to me has an iPhone that he doesn't want to put down. He is fiddling endlessly with it. Playing games, putting a playlist together, checking emails and going back to another game. I want to tell him to calm down and read a book instead.
  • The young woman on the other side of me smells very strongly of bleach and is frowning as she reads the Wall St. Journal.

After my errands I bought a large cup of coffee and a croissant and sat in the churchyard at St Paul's Cathedral to admire the roses.

I don't miss work at all, but I do miss seeing the City in the sunshine.

Friday, 18 September 2009


Whilst tidying up O's bedroom this morning....

"Dear God! That fairy's blind drunk again! Who mixed the punch? Was it you Merlin?"

Sylvanian Mouse whispers to Sylvanian Squirrel:
"This is the most embarrassing wedding reception I've ever been to. The groom is chatting up that tarty blonde in the orange dress and the bride's done her back in again. I just don't know where to look!"

"Yes, this recession is biting hard. I've had to turn the ice cream parlour into a bookshop and we've got a teenage runaway sleeping rough on the floor. I'm hoping the re-vamped garden will bring more customers in."

"EEEEEEEEEEKKKKK!!! Daddy! There's a great big dinosaur on the balcony!"

"I do wish this child would tidy her room more often. It would give her Mum more time to lounge about knitting."

Monday, 14 September 2009

Storage sacks

I'm not sure when I'll ever be able to resist my children asking me to sew or knit something for them. I suppose I have a hunch that there may come a time when homemade is not what they dream of. So now, if they ask me for something, of course I will give it a go.

On Saturday O was getting her dance things ready for a new term of ballet lessons and trying in vain to stuff everything into her little pink ballet bag. I think part of the reason she loves ballet so much is the vast amount of kit she has to have:

She sat on her bedroom floor with piles of this stuff around her, and declared, "I need a new ballet bag. Can you make me one?"

For a while now, I have been meaning to make a few of the drawstring travel bags from Heather Ross's Weekend Sewing book. I decided the largest one would work well as a ballet bag.

It was very quick to make. I used the last remnant of the IKEA fabric I made O's bedroom curtains from when I was pregnant with her! The pink phase is becoming more dilute as she gets older and I love this fabric for being girly without sacharine. And I always love gingham.

I used pink polka dot grosgrain ribbon for the drawstring and embroidered a simple label using a scrap of leftover Clothkits fabric. I think it may be jazzed up further in the next day or two with a couple of suffolk puffs in a red fabric - perhaps a red polka dot.

Yesterday I was helping C tidying up his bedroom, and getting very tired of treading on marbles. Almost as bad as treading on lego. "I need a bigger marble bag," he sighed. "Maybe you could make one as big as O's ballet bag?"

No further encouragement needed! I whipped up another drawstring bag for his marbles. Not as big as O's ballet bag, but much larger than the tiny little bag that he had before. I cut his old marble bag in half and used it as a patch label on the new bag.

I've had a few goes at making drawstring bags before and have never been very happy with the finish around the top - where the drawstring is. This Heather Ross pattern is excellent for giving such a neat finish with absolutely no fiddling or swearing involved. The casing is sewn with no gap in it, but after reinforcing the seams with a small, tight zigzag, part of the stitching is then unpicked to make the entrance to the casing.

I love the way they look.

And I love the way they keep the marbles and the ballet kit neatly (but prettily) tucked away.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Nephew knitting

Something that we are all VERY much looking forward to around here is the arrival, this autumn, of two new nephews in the family. My brother and his wife are expecting their third baby later this month and G's brother and his wife are expecting their first baby around Christmas time.

There are so many things that I want to sew and knit for these two new nephews. I always think that boys get something of a raw deal when it comes to pretty or hand crafted gifts. Gifts, toys and especially clothes for small boys tend to be a little bit too functional and in depressingly drab colours. But little boys like soft, bright, tactile, colourful things just as much as little girls do (and so do their parents!).

So I am knitting the first of two Baby Kicking Bags at the moment. This one is made in a Kaffe Fassett Regia sock yarn in a madly vivid peacock blue/green shade (that I can't do justice to with my camera). SouleMama made one of these last year, and I have been looking for an excuse (baby) to knit one for ever since.

The pattern is free on Ravelry. It has a little bit of very simple cabling in the rib, and after that is just stocking stitch all the way. Very easy and satisfying.

And look! There is plenty more bright sock yarn and baby cashmerino in my wool basket so there will be a Baby Kicking Bag for my other nephew and I think some little hats and bootees for both of them as well.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Packing up and moving on

August into September is much more of a New Year for me than December into January. It is a time for the end of the long summer holidays and the beginning of a new academic year; I make new resolutions and turn over new leaves; we pack away the old and start unwrapping the new.

In the last week we've said goodbye to the summer holidays.

G finished six months of training and his first half-ironman race.

And I left work.

The children have started in new classes at school; C's comes with a whole new playground and extra responsibilities. O has a strict teacher.

We're beginning to find our way with an entirely new and unfamiliar family routine. I can pick up the children from school every day now, but we've said goodbye to the childminder who helped me look after C and O for the last five years. We all cried. C is still crying actually.

But also we're enjoying the late summer sunshine, and some of the plum jam I made for our breakfast toast through the winter.

I think it will be a good year.