Thursday, 28 July 2011

Snug as a bug in a rug

Ages ago now, we inherited a mini bed with mini quilts to match, for when daughter no.1 graduated from her cot. It is so handy having a sister-in-law with slightly older children. 

She made the big journey from cot to bed over a year ago now, and I wanted to make quilt covers to mark the occasion. Better late than never. 

I reused old sheets for the ever-winning combination of being cheaper/pre-softened/lower consumption/umm...just nicer. My collection built up slowly but surely, coming from a mixture of my mum's airing cupboard, Spitalfields market, my Granny's old sheets and Ilford Oxfam shop. Nice.

I cut one sheet the same size as the quilt with a seam allowance all the way round. The second sheet was the same width, but with an extra 40 cms or so to make a nice flap. I sewed them right sides together with the longer flap folded over in the middle. This simple-yet-complicated bit of sewing made my mind go completely blank for a bit and I had to stare at it until it made sense. There are lots of tutorials about this on the net but I like Amy Karol's one best. It is for a bag but it is essentially the same principle. 

To finish off I added some buttons to hold it all together. My trusty old Toyota struggles with buttonholes but luckily, my friend Kate has an amazing new sewing machine. My word, that thing is amazing: automatic tension, speed control, you basically just drink a glass of wine with your foot on the pedal and some buttonholes appear. At least that is what I did. 

It was all very much like the sewing machine scene in 'Fiddler on the Roof' where the whole village gathers around to marvel at the new invention. I couldn't find  clip of it on YouTube. But I did find this. Next time I sew I'll know what to sing.

Three of the four quilt covers
The fourth. That stain is Marmite.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Sewing Cards

We have been doing a lot of travelling lately, which I love. A lot of it has been in the car, which I do not love at all. 

I have the demanding jobs of waitress/DJ/navigator to keep me busy, and crochet if I am very lucky. But my older daughter is starting to get so bored on these journeys and very cutely asked if she could crochet too. Now, like most mothers I am convinced of her genius, but even she might struggle with crochet at 3-and-a-half. 

What could she do on long car rides? It had to be something yarn-based. I remembered the cards we used to practice sewing on at school before we were allowed to graduate onto binca. Amanda Blake Soule in her 'Creative Family' also talked about them.

So we got drawing. She drew a picture:

A house on a hill.
And I did one:

The household goddess.
Then we did a couple together:

We drew onto card, which I then backed with another layer of card. I then punched around the edges with a hole-punch. It would be nice to make the holes smaller eventually using a paper punch, but for now bigger holes and bigger needles suit these little hands fine. 

I backed one with sticky-back plastic and this made it much stronger. 

Look what happened to the non-plastic backed one:

After some emergency porcine surgery I have learned the following for successful sewing cards:
  • try to keep the outline of your cards relatively simple, no little limbs or parts that can break off.
  • plastic on both back and front means that the edges are sealed off and will not fray.
  • it also strengthens the card so that a cereal box-thickness piece of card is adequate.
New improved Peppa
A big plastic wool needle helps too, then you can give it to a child to sew away to their heart's content. Be prepared for lots of 'I'm stuck', but I was pleasantly surprised how long a little heart can stay contented for.

Friday, 8 July 2011


As I mentioned before in this post, I have been so enjoying Christine Schmidt's 'Print Workshop' book. This is another step in my recent printmaking odyssey.

I realised there was a printmaking-shaped gap in my knowledge and experience. To that end, I did a course here in etching, which was pricey but great. Then a longer one here in all kinds of printmaking (I was pregnant at the time so could unfortunately not do some of the more noxious processes), and that was fantastic. Recently, I did a screenprinting day here and loved it. This was the result:

My own personal Pink Floyd cover. I believe this kind of recursive image is known as the Droste effect. Thank you wikipedia.

I think what I love so much about printmaking is that although the end product is your basic, flat picture, the process is more akin to craft. Very handmade, very technical and precise, and best of all, very imperfect. The etching process was like stepping back in time, I loved it. All that burning, burnishing, and smoking with a taper. Gorgeous.

One of the projects in 'Print Workshop' is to make linocut personalised stationary. On the rare occasions I do send things through the post, I find it depressing to scrawl something on a bit of scrap paper, so I thought I'd have a go.

Great. I must be a sucker for punishment as lettering is so tricky to get right, mirror image, small space and so on, but hey, if it is meant as a letterhead, what can you do? The 'G' is a bit of a dog's dinner, but otherwise I am quite pleased with the result. 

I worked on the kitchen table and it was lovely. I had precisely 37 minutes for the printing part whilst two babies slept - only one was mine - and it was a good reminder of how quickly you can crank them out. 

Very satisfying to see them all hanging out to dry.

I can't decide whether or not to crop off the bits at the top, I like their rawness but am not sure my bank would. Although, I can't honestly see myself wasting these on the bank.

a year above the shop

a year above the shop