Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Selfish Swap Inspiration Mosaic

I laughed when I saw the first Selfish Swap and thought I'd never stick to it. When I saw details of the second one I felt differently and my mind went to the bag I've been supposed to be making myself for at least a year now. A selfish swap is when you make yourself something you've been meaning to, or another of something you made for someone else and reluctantly sent out into the world. So not really selfish at all.
Selfish Swap Inspiration Mosaic
All of these bags have been pinned on this Pinterest board and I have borrowed the images just for inspiration purposes. I have botched enough projects to know that I want to buy a pattern if one exists but a few of these are purely inspirational with no templates attached.

I almost feel I'd like three bags - one shoulder for day-to-day, one cross-body for more casual usage and one for carrying my sewing machine. I suppose I would have more luck making a decision about which to use if I decided on just one of these rather than trying to juggle all ideas simultaneously.

There. I knew writing it all down would help me make a decision.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Sew Simple Saturday #2

Linking up with the Sew and Sow Farm's Sew Simple Saturday.

When it comes to simple, fabric precuts like jelly rolls make it a no brainer. Last month I was wowed by a quilt on another blogger's site and knew I had to give it a go. A bit of googling and waiting for it to arrive and I had a Gradations jelly roll.
Gradations Jelly Roll
I was using the Prism pattern by Nancy Rink. I was fairly amazed to find this wasn't a download but an actual paper pattern - I feel she's missing a trick there - so another week [snore] later I was ready to go.

Without needing to trim the strips at all you just sew them together along their lengths.
Gradations Jelly Roll Strips

From there it was a matter of cutting some triangles and then sewing them together.
Gradations Jelly Roll Quilt

Sewing triangles together isn't quite as simple as sewing straight strips so I am still half way through this but it is going well. As it has progressed I've realised it's not really to my taste so I'll probably donate it to the Guild's outreach project, but I'm glad I tried it out!

So that must have been October

There was some of this. 
October 2015
Then at work I went full american-halloween-mode and this happened.
Halloween in the Office
Plus of course there were some kittens. 
Not enough. But still. 

So that's me caught up. 

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Sew Simple Saturday!

I am joining up with the Sew and Sow Farm Sew Simple Saturday linky! Joining in has made me think about what is meant by "simple sewing". Jan is encouraging us to think about what seams simple to us but to others seems like something really complicated. The craft that, for me, definitely falls into that category is cross stitch. I started doing cross stitch when I was a little girl using those cardboard punch cards that showed you where to put every stitch using a needle the size of a pen. I went through various kits starting with those plastic canvas and scratchy wool ones...
...and then for, I think, my 14th birthday I got this one. 
Unfinished house cross stitch
As you can see I haven't got too far in the last 22 years but I've not given up yet! 

Since then I have sewn some weird and wonderful things, some of which are here:
Deb's cross stitch framed
cross stitch book cover
Home Sweet Home Tardis
Cross Stitch Finished
These are all quite big but ultimately cross stitch comes down to putting straight stitches into a grid with holes in it. It's that simple. One of the workshops I taught in Tokyo was for cross stitch and there are a few basic rules to get going:
  1. Don't try and sew with thread longer than your finger tips to elbow. It will just get tangled. 
  2. To start a new cross stitch find the centre of your pattern and decide on a colour or element to start sewing with. Then fold your cloth in half left to right then top to bottom to find the centre and finger press to show where it is when you unfold again. Now you've found the centre of the cloth and know where to start to make sure your design is centred.
  3. Go ahead and knot your thread to start and finish. Purists might talk about working without knots but it's really "knot" a problem. 
Here is a little one that anyone can make using a scrap of aida fabric. 
cross stitch scissor fob
It's a fob for my tiny embroidery and applique scissors. And here is what I am currently working on:
Cross stitch ABC of Faith in progress
This a simple kit by Lizzie Kate called "ABCs of Faith". I am an Atheist so this isn't to my taste but I know the person I'm giving this to for Xmas will be very happy with it. 

Give Cross Stitch a try!

Friday, 18 September 2015

Working Girl

When Worlds Collide....
1951 ... 'When Worlds Collide'
...or in my case:
One of the three sofas at work had been used for non-office purposes in the distant past plus was pretty mangy. I just could not sit on it. It being part of my remit to look after the office, I sorted out a new cushion. It's on odd size so online ones with covers were coming out at $800. Outrageous! So I ordered some foam and some fabric and got to work. The result is the zig zag seat.

Things at work proceed fair to middling. The actual work is fun but the hours are troubling. We're looking to get me an assistant (so weird - I am the assistant) but until then I am beavering away. There are plus points - such as conducting phone interviews from a hammock.
I love that hammock. I've always wanted one at home but have never lived in the right kind of property. Plus I also took a few minutes to create one of these.
We have some big ones hanging from the ceiling but I've missed having a plant near me while working so I decided to make my own. I am pretty pleased with it! I got both the orb and the plants from Etsy.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Kittea Again!

I am sold on this place.
I do still love Cat Town Cafe in Oakland but this one is only a third of the distance from my house and while I love cats of all ages, it is funny getting to see all the kitten action. There are actually two in this photo.
Two little brothers wrestling each other all over the place. In fact this is one of them in an unusually still moment.
And this could be either one using me as an actual human shield.
And who knows which this is playing "catch the hand".
There were others too.
Some veeeeery relaxed.
So adorable!
Just when you think it can't get any better...look what I spotted on the way out!
That's my week accessorized.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

My New Sewing Case and Other Makes

I saw a few of these being made on Instagram and was thrilled to find the pattern was free. It is the Oh, How Sweet Zipped Case. I started off thinking I'd use my newest paper shape from - the squashed hexagon.
But I decided I loathed the look of the shape. Maybe they might work horizontally, but like this they simply look squashed. I had a look through Pinterest for some inspiration and decided on a fabric tray, using some denim with raised silver dots that I found a scrap of when I was still in Tokyo.
This left me without a cover for my sewing case when my eye fell on a strip of selvage. Out came my collection and I found myself sorting them into colour piles.
The pile of ones that were truly multicoloured seemed about the right size. Some stitching later and...
...I had a cover and a pocket. The zip gave me a few tense moments and is also the point at which I screwed up the last thing like this I tried. Welcome to the arena - bulldog clips!
Here is the inside with the zip and bias binding in place. Vinyl pocket on the right and selvage pocket on the left. Two elastic loops to hold thread.
I like the outside too.
If I were to make one again I would use some interfacing on the lining. I just used batting on the cover so it is a tad floppy.

The Sewing Case took quite a while to make - lots of pieces of different sizes and materials - while this one was much quicker. It came out about 12"x14" and is a tiny version of the i-spy quilt I made for my niece.
It is for her toy bunny!

My other make-in-progress is based on a quilt in Paper Pieced Modern which I have on loan from the Library. I'd seen different versions of the quilt on a few blogs and decided to use the idea for a mini quilt. Here is my block.
Another 24 later and I had these:
Which led to this:
It isn't sewn together yet but will be soon!

Monday, 31 August 2015

Tea at KitTea

I am not a tea drinker. But were I to be one I would never go to any cafe except KitTea. It only opened a month or so ago and I finally got there at the weekend.
KitTea Sign
The cat cafe I had been visiting in Oakland is an hour each way including a 20 min walk from the metro when you get there. So although I love the set-up I was more than ready to get some cat time closer to home. I only booked 30 minutes since I wasn't sure if it would be any good but in future I'll definitely be going for the full hour. Even if you haven't booked a session with the cats, the cafe is very nice and has a huge picture window.
Inside KitTea
You get as much tea as you can drink during your booking plus there are cakes and things to be bought. When my time came I got to spend time with such a cute gang of guys and girls.
Sleeping Tuxedo Kitten
This tiny fellow came to sit next to my legs...
Tiny kitten by my feet
...and when I squatted down to stroke him he decided to take shelter underneath my derrière.
Kitten between legs
Then when I did sit down this little one came over and got straight into my lap.
Cream Kitten
He was heading off to his new adoptive family later that day as this is also a place where you can adopt the cats there. I would have loved to take them all home with me!

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Walking Haight Street

"Haight Ashbury" is a phrase that comes up as soon as you start reading about the history of San Francisco. The area was swinging in the sixties and has been the centre the hippie culture of SF ever since. It is kind of like Camden used to be when I first moved to London but with more smoke shops. 
Haigh St Shops
Haight Street is long - really long. The hippie bit is near where it crosses with Ashbury St but back towards the city centre there are some amazing houses. 
Haight House
Haight Houses
Haight House
I knew beforehand that there were a few shoe shops in the area and I had planned on just some window-shopping until...
Mermaid Shoes
That is just them in their box but you should have seen them in the window. It was like seeing the glisten of mother of pearl in the midst of a load of dull shells. I went into the shop and made straight for them. They were...expensive. I toyed with them and the assistant came over, looked into my face and said she knew just how I felt. Did I want to try them on - just for fun? Oh my. I had hoped they'd be uncomfortable, but no. They are wonderful. And now they're mine - squee! One or two other things are now mine too. 
 Shopping Spoils
There is a lovely craft shop there called Mendels and they have an awesome selection of pretty much everything, including quilting fabric which they sell in quarter yards. I only chose two but then I saw this slightly heavier, slightly lineny cat print. 
Cat Fabric
The colour is actually a dark grey-green and I got two yards so now I need to decide what kind of top to make out of it - since I feel it does need to be a top. 

One of the things I like about this kind of area of SF is the locals don't feel constrained to just decorating the walls of the buildings. 
Pavement Graffiti
I rather love this "Love Thyself" one I spied on the pavement. It just goes to show how much you can gain from looking where you leap. 

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