Saturday, 30 July 2011

Loving my Needle


Before I show you what I've just finished making, I have to say thanks so much for leaving such interesting and thoughtful responses to my last post. Writing it out helped make my thoughts a lot clearer. Also having the pressure off and not doing all the summer markets means I'm relaxed and really enjoying my time off with the girls. One more week and then back to work though - boo.

Today I put the last stitches in the quilt I've been making for Eldest Bun. I started it a few weeks back now, but it's really been over a year in the making in my head.


At the end of the summer she'll be eleven and really and truly she's grown out of a bedroom that is all pinkness itself. She needs something more grown-up and funky with white walls and painted furniture. I thought a quilt full of colour would give it that extra splash amongst the white. I've been collecting fabrics to add to some of her baby dress fabrics for a long old time now.

I wanted a simple square patch quilt using my brightest cheeriest 30's feedsack, 30's repro cottons, snippets of Eldest Bun's toddler dresses and the happy loud colours of 60's and 70's bedlinen. I made it as a ten across, twelve down quilt reckoning this would cover a single bed pretty well.


I'm definately no expert in this quilting lark, but I've asked questions and read around stuff that I couldn't sort out for myself.  Like why when I made a Memory Quilt for Little Bun over a year ago did all the layers slide around when I quilted them together? Well I found some basting pins and they really helped me out making a nice neat sandwich of it all. I read in Jane Brockett's book that she doesn't like using them, but they worked out great for me.

The other thing that I bought was some fancy lightweight soft cotton batting. It was expensive, but I really loved working with it.


Once I'd actually chosen the arrangement of all my squares, patched them together and then made my squishy sandwich it was time to spend hours and hours stitching a rainbow of embroidery threads along each of the strips to quilt it all together. I prefer the effect of using a bright running stitch and handquilting rather than machine stitching. I sat for a few evenings stitching along each strip of fabrics and got to really look at all the colours and the prints far more closely than if I'd rushed through it all.

For the backing I used a soft flannelette sheet I'd found in a charity shop over a year ago and had saved for this quilt. Eldest is called Rosey and loves blue so blue roses covered with spots seemed to good a find to be true.


This was the quilt first thing this morning. All quilted and waiting to be trimmed and bound. I made a huge length of binding from the turquoise spot I'd used on the skirt I made a few weeks ago. Zipped quickly around one side with the machine and then switched my brain off while I hand-stitched for what seemed liked forever on the back.

Then all of a sudden there it was done and finished, ready to be admired and cosied under. I want to make a date and name tag for the back, but I just ran out of being bothered steam today, so that'll have to wait.


While Eldest and Mr Bun were out running with Alfie I laid it on her bed ready to suprise her when she got home. Problem is it makes the rest of the room look really badly in need of that paint job now. Better get that brush out soon.


While I sat stitching that b..... binding this afternoon I thought about all the other stuff I've patched and quilted over the last year since I found out what fun it was. I couldn't find any pictures of Little Bun's quilt or the hot water bottle covers I've made, but I found all of these.


I have in my head that I'd like to try making a hexie quilt, but I'm not sure if I've got the patience. I'll wait and see how much the idea niggles at me. For now Mr Bun wants a quilt for our bed. I've said I'll only do it if he stops laying on the bed with the darned dog. 

I might fit in one more post before we go away for a few days next week, but if not have a lovely week and hope to catch up with you very soon.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Been thinking ...

I've been trying to get my head around my love of making stuff lately and where it's going.  I've all sorts of random thoughts racing around my head and I can't seem to make any sense of them.  While I painted the kitchen this afternoon I had a thought that if I write it here then maybe I'd get a better idea of what I want to be doing.


I've always made things from when I was little and I've always had my head in a book.  Studying textiles at art college somehow led to working for the Met Police and then on to my Literature degree. A stint in PR and then advertising brought me to a post-grad teacher training course and suddenly there I was a fully paid up FE Lecturer. I really enjoyed teaching academic stuff, but I have to admit I was really thrilled when the Head of Media (Mr Bun) and I fell in love and then I found out I was pregnant with Eldest Bun. I handed my notice in quick sharp and got ready to enjoy being a mum.


Apart from making clothes I'd not done any other making for years. First my mum taught me to knit again when I was pregnant with Little Bun. I'd thought it was really dull when she showed me when I was little, but it really grabbed me this time round knitting for my girls. Along the way I started making all sorts of stuff for friends and then I got a few commissions. I knew there was no way I was going back to 60 hour weeks teaching and I'm not ambitious about climbing any career ladder. Couldn't really picture myself ever teaching again to be honest. I can remember exactly when I decided to work for myself. I'd changed nappies endlessly all morning and thought I was going to go doollally if I didn't have something that was just about me. All the stuff I'd been making grew into Bobo Bun and off I went.


I started off selling my work at playgroups, through a few local shops and taking stalls at smaller markets. I've really changed my style from what I made then. It took a while for my ideas to evolve and know what I wanted to do. Four years ago I stopped selling at smaller markets and went for the bigger ones that targetted the people I wanted to sell to. 


Along the way I taught myself to crochet. A year later I was running crochet workshops and started writing this here blog. That led to setting up Pick 'n' Mix Makers Market as a way of promoting handmade talent. Then in the middle of all this we hit a financial burp and some guaranteed extra money was needed each month. Pretty handy I guess that I was a teacher as it meant I could get a job working part-time and earn enough to balance running my business alongside being a mum too.


That's kind of worked for a while now, but I've found this year that I've sort of run out of steam to do it all. This is where all of this is leading to. I teach two days a week now and it's pretty draining stuff as it's a seven hour day being as upbeat and calm as possible while I try to meet the needs of teenagers who have a wide range of  emotional and learning problems. Also it's not really two days a week as there are emails to answer and write on my days off, plus planning and all the other stuff involved.


Basically this leaves me just wanting to make things for the sheer pleasure of making stuff. So I've been making lots of things for the Bun's and our home as I need to relax and switch off. My real dream is to make Bobo Bun grow alongside running creative workshops. At the moment I just don't seem to be able to balance out the demands of my job with my dreams.


Why this all feels odd is that it just happened without me thinking about it. Suddenly one day I just didn't want to get up at some god awful hour and set up my mobile shop. I feel happy not doing any markets for the moment as I don't want the pressure to be making stock. I want to get back to the heart of making and really enjoy it while I work out which direction I'm going and how I'm going to get there. 

Meanwhile I've got quite a few unfinished projects on the go all dotted throughout this post to keep me busy. I figure that I'll work it out as I go along and just think a small holiday from it all's no bad thing at all. I just hope it doesn't take my head too long to work it out.

Apologies if this all seemed self-indulgent, but as it's about why and how I've ended up creating things I thought here was a pretty good place to chat through it all with me and with you.

* One other thing - I thought I'd try replying to your comments in my comment thingy from now on as that makes sense really and then if I can I'll stop by and say hello like I do anyways.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Ready, Steady and off we Go

Two cheeky girls plopped down beside me yesterday morning ready to start their holidays. Red nails still linger from the end of term disco, tears of tiredness are ebbing away as the holiday mood takes over and Moshi Monster tattoo's are being liberally applied.


They looked so gorgeous cuddling up to each other, so I yelled "stay there, don't move" while I ran off to find my camera.

Problem is once they know the camera is coming they can't resist making faces. Cue dreamy lovey dovey expressions.


When I asked really nicely if we could have a lovely picture too. I got faraway daydreamy faces trying hard not to laugh.


Then they thought enough of this squit, lets have fun. I took loads more pictures of cute chipmunk faces and the odd one of them being strangled by each other too.


Summer holiday mood is already here you see.

I guess I need a spot of catch up stuff as it's been nearly a whole week since I've last stopped by. I had last week off work, apart from a training day and tons of school stuff so I don't think it really counted as holiday and now I've got two clear weeks with the Bun's - hooray. 

Mr Bun had an interesting time at the palace. The Royal lot came out to a band in the garden playing the theme tune to the Archers, which had me hooting when he told me. Apparently the whole afternoon was completely surreal from start to finish. Urns in the garden taller than our cottage, elderly Brigadiers and Bishops dotted here and there while three bands played to them all. Oh and the cake was delicious too in case you wondered.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Sometimes I Talk a Lot

Well I've got all sorts I could ramble on about today. Funnily enough the fringe disaster was met with tons of unexpected your hair looks great - so I'm definately going to ask for a Richard 3rd fringe again. The school BBQ was good fun - we were put on the ice cream, truffle and kids drink bit. Lots of little helpers to make us laugh, scoffing of choc and free Pimms for being good eggs and working so hard. The Bun's had brilliant reports come home that day too so we promised a celebration meal for Saturday. To be honest (proud mummy moment) they've always had good reports. They love school, give it their all, have great friends, avoid all that silly falling out stuff and are just good fun lovely girls.


Unfortunately my teeth were a disaster at the weekend and were so painful. We had our meal out and had a great time, but it was like I was eating pizza with wooden teeth. Monday I was straight into the dentist for more root canal stuff. Poor elderly teeth of mine.Then I rushed off for a quick treat with a friend. We'd planned for so long to go to Biddy's Tearooms for afternoon tea and my teeth weren't going to stop me. It was such a wonderful place that I've made a date with my man for Friday afternoon treats. I'll try and take some pics to show you as you'd love it.

This morning was Sports Day so I took my crochet along for a bit of light relief. I managed to rustle up a few more smarties for the hexie blanket and cheered my lovelies on too. 


I spent the afternoon sewing up a couple of quick teacher gifts. I don't normally go for this whole teacher present thing other than some flowers from the garden. The Bun's have been with their teachers for two years now and have built up a great relationship with them so I wanted to give something as a way of thanks.



I thought pencil cases would be the ideal handmade pressie. I used an old tablecloth and the lovely Lecien fabric I bought a while back. We're thinking a few chocs inside would be appreciated too. 

As I type this Mr Bun will be in full swing with the Buck Palace Garden party. Wonder what Queenie said to him (if anything). Once he gets his mobile back on the way out I guess I'll hear all the funny tales of the day.

One other thing before I go. I was asked how much wool I would need for the hexie. Once I've got more to show I'll get back and give you the low down on how to and how much if you fancy it. It's all a bit guess work and suck it and see, but then I did tell you I'm a jump in and see maker.

Righty must get ready for fish and chips with the grandparents while the other half nibble Royal canapes.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Bitty

I'm all over the show today. Last night I was hooking away, getting all caught up in the joy of watching colours pop together. I started making something I've fancied doing for a while now. I'd spied a gorgeous hexie blanket on  Greedy for Colour and ever since it's been floating around in my head as another one on the will do soon list. When I realised it had passed 1.30 am I thought I'd better go and join everyone else upstairs. I just don't get tired some nights, but boy do I feel odd in the daytime after a late one.


I had planned to work on Eldest Bun's quilt today, but then I woke up and my hair looked bad. So instead I went for a quick haircut and that was a truly bad decision as I now have a two inch fringe. Not great when you're five and you hover between looking stupid and cute. Really really bad when you're 42 and you just end up looking stupid. While she chopped, I shut my eyes to stop the hair going in them. Next time I'll remember to keep them open.



When I got back I soothed my vanity into calmness and ignored the mirror with a bit more hexie making.


I wandered for a bit thinking I could perhaps fit a quick bit of sandwiching the quilt in, but then I remembered that I had to make a pud. Tonight is the annual PTA BBQ which is so much more fun for our kids than us, but hey ho fundraising and all that malarkey. I'm still trying to decide if I'll look rude with a basket filled with my crochet or just relaxed and happy?


One fruity, ginger cheescake plonked together and I did a bit of shelf moving of stuff.


While I ambled, I remembered my lovely package that I'd ordered from Jane. I've left it on the table with the green fabrics against the orange paper bag stripes to fix an idea in my head. I just love the way it all looks together in it's clashing not quite right way. 

Last bit to do is pop some more eyecream in Afie's peeper before I head off to the drama club play and then off to be sociable. Poor old Alfie Blue had a vet run this week as his eye was shut and sore. Pugs have bug eyes and they get hurt really easily. This ends up with ulcers and possibly losing the eye so you have to get it sorted pretty quick. He's a real pain at the vets. He's the kindest, most gentle boy who hates big dogs. I would too if one had bit me aswell. To deal with this he just barks like a loon all the while we're there. It's like having the bad kid at playgroup. I get disapproving looks from elderly ladies whose cat is being traumatised by his "I'll have you" attitude. The girls just roar and think it's great fun. Then we go in and and the nurses swoon over him. 

Right must go to clap and cheer the Bun's. Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Patching a Memory or Two

Whenever we go out I can usually be relied upon to forget my camera. On Saturday evening we saw a gaudy, sparkly and fun parade and had a lovely time at the fair afterwards. All part of our cities Lord Mayor's procession. I do have a few pictures on my phone, but how to get them from there to here? So just imagine drag queens dressed as washing machines, Scottish pipe bands and everyone having a good time and you get the general idea of the fun we had.
What I can show you is the slowly growing quilt I'm making for Eldest Bun. 


On Saturday morning I chopped up the rest of the squares needed. So that's 120 squares all cut by hand after I'd drawn round the template I'd made. I just can't get my hands to work my blinking cutter so it's the long slow chop chop for me. Lots of lovely squares of 30's feedsacks, 30's repro, 60's and 70's florals and some of Eldest Bun's toddler dresses all go into the patchy mix. Putting all of the rows together was the fun bit, a bit like doing a jigsaw and fiddling around until you know the right piece is in the right space.


I planned to stitch all the squares together today, but did the car boot first. It was an expensive trip today as I lost £10 from my purse, I'd only spent a few pounds too on some china and flowers. 


So does a pretty floral bowl make me feel tons better? A little.


The Larkspur worked their magic when I looked at them.


So did the small and chubby teapot that came home with me. I'm no tea drinker, but I do admire a fine teapot.


This afternoon I managed to stitch and stitch away until all 120 squares had been patched together. This is going to be a hard one to give away to Eldest Bun as I'm falling in love with it for our bed. As I work though I think of all the love I have for her going into this quilt. How she'll have it on her bed at nearly 11, feeling all cosy and content. How maybe in the future it'll go wherever she goes and she'll feel that same cosy contentment she felt when it was on her bed aged 11.

I plan to hand sew some of the quilting when I get to it. Wonder how that'll work out as I haven't much of a clue about quilting. I just jump in, have a go and figure it out as I go along. I much prefer sewing this way as I don't really like following instructions. It can be a bit haphazard though.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Pick a Pile

Today I'm surrounded by piles. I've got stuck into cutting up squares of jolly fabric to get a quilt made for Eldest Bun's bed. That means I've ignored the pile of washing up and half of the ironing that I dumped in a pile in the kitchen. I reckoned it might get done if we kept tripping over it, but we've managed to ignore it pretty well up to now. Somehow today I really should sort out the pile of paperwork that needs attention, but this pile is so much more interesting.


I've only cut out 24 of the 120 squares I need so I'll be here a while yet. 


I love putting it all together and seeing all the colours and prints bounce along so much more chop chop for me. Doing happy undemanding stuff today is just what I need. I feel as bright as anything, it's just been a hell of a week. On Monday my dad was rushed into hospital unable to breathe. He's in his eighties with heart problems so it was stressful for mum particularly. Thankfully he came home again yesterday. We all had to fit in work aswell as two evening school play performances too this week. This morning I had to concoct a gnome and grandad outfit. In reality that meant grabbing tons of stuff from Mr Bun's wardrobe, plus a beard and moustache from the spy kit. It's drama club's dress rehearsal tonight and of course we only remembered at 8 am.


The piles have happened from trying to keep us all fed, sane and getting where we needed to be this week. One more day of ignoring them and making new piles and then I might just attack it all.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Blossoms of Making

I've had quite a few bits to show and tell lately so I've managed more posts than normal. I'm glad you liked the garland you know. Once I'd made a large bunny tail for Little Bun's school play costume last night I hooked a few more shapes to make more garlands to string about, give away ? and sell perhaps?

Today I'm wearing my latest make, it's not a bunny girl outfit much duller than that, but I'm thrilled with it.


Before we went off to the BBQ yesterday I started cutting out and sewing up the skirt I planned to make from Amy Butler's Soul Blossoms. The Bun's were late to bed because I couldn't resist a bit more sewing when we got back. They didn't grumble mind you. I stitched, they roared with laughter at a film and Mr Bun planned his weeks work with the radio for company.


I finished making my skirt up today and for the proof of the pudding, I'm wearing it too.


I made it from Sew Serendipity by Kay Whitt which has lovely dress and tunic patterns, plus a nasty coat pattern which I won't be making up. As I chose turquoise spots for the pockets I wanted a bit more dotty somewhere else. I ripped up a long strip like nursey bandages so the edges will gently fray and stitched it over the join between the main skirt and the bottom panel.


My best mate in Oz emailed me to say she'd ordered the same fabric from America to make a skirt too. Wish she was here standing by me now twin like in our skirts. Been too many years really, but we still manage to keep in sync and keep a great friendship going as best you can when you're both upside down to each other.
Now if you fancy having a go at the patterns from this book you need to know the measurements are way off for us Brits. I measured as a L (which I thought was odd anyways) and made a cord skirt in the winter this size. When I put it on it fell off me, so I had to do loads of altering which was a pain as I'd sewn all the seams up properly like it said. Normally I just chuck stuff together if it's for me. This time I cut out a medium and still had to take the sides in a wee bit more.

I was really pleased when a couple of mums, who sew, stopped in the playground to ask me about the skirt. I'll definately be making this one again as skirts in the shops are always way too short for me. I always end up thinking they're kiddies skirts and then realise it's just a height thing.


Sunday, 3 July 2011

Are you awake yet?

Saturday morning Little Bun snuggled up for a 7 o'clock cuddle and long chat. I was a mumbling sleepy head who who made no sense so she got her DS out to play. Half an hour of beeping and fidgeting later I gave up trying to keep my eyes shut. I'm most definately not a morning person, all my lot are.

In the end I plumped up the pillows and went off to find some yarn and a hook.


By half nine I'd worked up these colourful blobs and stars. I've fancied a hooky garland of my own for a while now and my early morning brain could cope with the idea of this one.

I even got brought my post and coffee in bed. Service is good around here you know. I had a lovely thank you card from a friend which made me think I should write properly more often. It's so lovely getting a surprise in the post rather than the brown envelope depressing surprises that normally come through the letter box.


Anyway - back to my garland. For now I've hung it up at the window over my laptop.


I don't know where I'll put anymore garlands, but I want to make more and more. 


Off for a family BBQ this afternoon. Hopefully the Pimms will be a flowing. Wonder if I'll end up looking as daft as this smily face the Bun's made and took a photo of for me.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Swapping


This Thursday was an INSET day which meant the Bun's had a extra day off school. I swapped work days around to be with my lovelies. No car boot for me this Wednesday, but then the treasure's been getting pretty thin lately.

We managed to get Mr Bun to take the day of too to join in the fun. A day that feels stolen in the middle of the week always feels special,  something good has to be done.


We chose a picnic at the beach, rock-pooling and then playing the penny arcades, icecreams on the pier, crazy golf and chips for tea.  Half-way there I remembered my camera that I'd forgotten to pick up. No piccies of our wonderful day, but I liked just doing and not thinking about taking pictures for a change.


On the way home I picked up the first dahlia's of the year from the village lady. I love these bright splodgy flowers which always make me think of heavy oil paintings. 

The gorgeous basket beside them was a new to me buy today. My mum invited me to lunch and on the way there I stopped for my fleamarket and charity shop fix. I couldn't believe my luck when I found this gem in perfect nick.


The other thing I wanted to show are our stunning hollyhocks. We used to have them growing at the back, until the hens dug them up last year. Somehow they've blown on the wind and swapped where they rock colourfully to and fro. Each day I come home I'm greeted by this lovely sight so I'm glad they decided to pop up here instead.