Book: 200 Crochet Blocks

200-Crochet-Blocks-1Having learned to crochet a couple of years ago, I’ve recently got back into the swing of it, by making an amigarumi pusheen and by making a present for someone, which is now pretty much 2 months over due, but basically finished! I have made a cushion cover using a crochet block pattern and I’m thinking that I would like to make a blanket out of blocks too, so luckily a friend of mine bought me this book a year or two ago.  I’m having the same thoughts about making a quilt – I’m yearning to make our flat nicer to live in I think, but without the ability to decorate properly as we rent.

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This book is really great and tells you how to mix colours and the block designs to make lovely (if slightly dated-looking) blankets.

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And then, of course, come the block designs themselves. I like the ones that are symmetrical and not too complicated looking. I like the openwork square below.

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I really like the Waterlily block, below. I’m not sure how many of these I would like in a blanket – maybe just one in the middle, but I’d like to be able to make one!

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There’s also a page of Christmassy blocks! I really don’t think I make things quickly enough to make something just for Christmas, but I like the tree and the snowflake!

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I like all the blocks below, except possibly the steps square – not sure why.

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I like all the blocks below too, and more so because they’re more in my colours (though I can see the pattern as separate from the colours used in the book, I’m still attracted to blues and greens!).

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I like all of these ones too – I’m not sure how I’m ever going to be able to make a decision on which one(s) to make!

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The book also shows you alternate colourways for some of the blocks, to help you design your blanket in whatever colours you like.

200-Crochet-Blocks-10For blanket inspiration, I think I’ll look to my sister. She has been crocheting a lot longer than me and even released her own amigarumi patterns for a while. She has made loads of blankets!

This one is some lovely earthy colours, which matched her living room in a previous house.

Phoebe's earthy colours blanketThis is a gigantic granny square, with a lovely bright cushion – I really like the idea of bright colours, joined together with bright white. It looks really fresh and modern. I love the gigantic granny square too, it’s a classic!

Phoebe's giant granny square

I love the colours she used here – the bright pink is particularly excellent! I’m not sure I would have had the eye to put these all together, but they look great. And there’s bright white in there too.

Phoebe's pink blanket

I think this all white blanket/ bed spread is a fairly recent one. I love the combo of the different sizes, and different designs of block but all tied together with the colour. I’m thinking of something monochrome and maybe with a pop of a bright colour, like yellow or pink.

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How lovely and clean does this look?

Phoebe's white blanketMy friend Farn, who I learned to crochet with is also excellent at making lovely things:

Farn Cath Kidston Blanket 2

Do you crochet? How do you decide on the designs and colours? I’m hoping that being able to make small things and have the small wins of finishing each square, that I will enjoy making a crocheted blanket and not lose interest and stop half way through as I have done too many times before with larger projects!

Refashioned Horrible Dress into a Less Horrible Dress!

After the success of my refashioned ugly skirt into top, I decided to refashion one of the other garments I picked up from the Fara Workshop. Remember this dress?

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This was a charming drop-waisted, large dress with big puffy sleeves and a lovely weird lacy collar!

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I unpicked all of the bits from the top of the dress and removed the skirt. The dress had a facing that also formed the triangle between the 2 pieces of lace and I had to unpick the shoulders to get the facing and collar off.

Fara-stripey-dress-3I decided to make a nice summer dress from the pieces I could salvage. I sewed new shoulder seams 10cm in from the original seams and took in the side seams but 5cm under the arms to 3cm at the bust to 5cm at the waist to the bottom of the top pieces (if that makes sense!).

(Sorry for the shit photos – I seriously need to take better pictures, probably outside. I think not enough light is the problem with them all being so blurry! There’s only so much photoshop will fix it seems.)

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I realised quite early on that if I didn’t make it too fitted, which I didn’t want to do, then I could get away without adding in a zip – it would have been a pain to do this I think. I would have either put one under one arm into the side seam, or I would have had to make a new seam in the back of the bodice and skirt. So I made sure I didn’t have to do that as I’m lazy!Fara-stripey-dress-5

I took 9.5cm off the top edge of the skirt and 11cm off the bottom of the bodice, taking into account a 1.5cm seam allowance. I gathered the skirt and reattached it to the bodice. As you can probably see, the amount I trimmed off the bodice must had not been quite even, or my stitching wasn’t even as the stripes on the front of the bodice aren’t even all the way across. I’m not on the Sewing Bee, though, so I’m not too bothered.

 

Fara-stripey-dress-6I also added pockets I measure where to put them by trying on the dress, but then somehow ended up with them so low I can only just reach the bottom of them! Not sure how that happened –  couldn’t be arsed to move them up, though, as they’ll hold my phone which is basically what I need from pockets in a dress! I used the Clemence skirt pocket pattern piece from Love At First Stitch. I used the fabric from the sleeves to make the pockets.

Fara-stripey-dress-9The arm and neck are bound with some self-made bias strips, made from the fabric I cut off the skirt and top pieces. The binding stretched slightly out at the bottom of the v-neck, but it’s not super noticeable, so I’m pretty happy with managing to make it look okay – I’ve never bound a non-round neckline before.

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Looking at these pictures now, I wonder if I should have shaved off some fabric on the shoulders as they almost sit like teeny tiny sleeves, but it should be sleeveless. Ah, the joys of hindsight!Fara-stripey-dress-8  Not sure why I’ve got my hands in fists here!

I like the loose fit – I think it will be really comfortable when the weather gets hot, if it ever gets hot! Next I need to make a couple of Holly Jumpsuits for the Summer and maybe a couple more skirts and tops and hopefully I’ll have some good options for Summer wardrobe! What plans do you have for the warmer weather (or colder weather if you’re in the Southern hemisphere?)

Spring For Cotton Dress (a bit late!)

As you know if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, I’m not very good at joining in with sew-alongs or sewing challenges – I tried to do the Emery Dress sew-along but finished about a month (or more) late! I did join in with the Yellow Skirt gang and only finished that in time because the deadline was extended. So it will come as no surprise to learn that I didn’t finish my Spring For Cotton dress on time! If you haven’t heard of Spring For Cotton, it’s a challenge run by Lucky Lucille where you have to sew a pattern that is either vintage or inspired by vintage style, entirely in cotton. The video of everyone’s finished makes got published yesterday – so I really was too late! You can see the full parade here.

As you will also know if you’ve read my blog for a while, I have a growing stash of vintage patterns (some from my Grandma and some from a house clearance). I decided to go with one I got from my Grandma for my first foray into sewing with a vintage pattern. I was torn between two (both 60s style, as it’s definitely mt favourite decade for fashion):

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI finally decided on the second one, and decided to make view D, on the far right. I wasn’t sure I liked it when I was making it, until it was completely finished. I loved the fabric when I first saw it in Rolls and Rems.

Spring for Cotton fabricBut as I was making the dress, I was worried it would look a bit costumey. It also looked like an ugly overall for quite a while, but taking up the hem definitely helped reduce the frump factor.

Spring-for-Cotton-Dress-1I had already removed 16cm from the hem when I cut it out as it would have reached to my calves almost! Little tip: when making a cut vintage pattern – check the pattern pieces for any alterations the previous owner (my Grandma) made to the pattern pieces! I carefully cut out my pattern pieces – the back had already been used but the front piece hadn’t ( there are different front pieces for each of the views for the trim markings). My Grandma had already shortened the back piece, by about 16cm, so then when I removed another 16cm, it didn’t even cover my bum. So I re-cut the back piece – luckily I had just about enough fabric. I made no attempt at pattern matching, also because I initially stupidly had the front piece laid out upside down, so the flowers would have faced down on the front and up on the back. So the cutting stage was not my finest hour!

I do wish I had properly centered the flowers on the front of the dress, so that the trim lined up.

Spring-for-Cotton-Dress-2I used some bias tape , folded in half for the white trim and bought some buttons to match the darker coral shade on the flowers. It was the trim that made me feel like it would look a bit costumey, but I actually like it, now the dress is finished.

Spring-for-Cotton-Dress-7I did make a couple of fitting adjustments as I went along – I knew the dress would be too big as the pattern is a size larger than my size. I added 2 darts to the back, which are 3 inches from the centre seam and are 1 inch deep at the waist. Looking at the picture below, I should have ironed the darts as they look a bit crap.

Spring-for-Cotton-Dress-3I made the effort not to over-fit the dress as it’s not meant to be figure-hugging. I did, however, take in the side seams a bit, by 2cm at the waist, tapering out at the armpit and hip. I wonder now what it would have looked like if I had hemmed it before making the fit alterations – it might have looked a bit over-sized, but in a good way. Oh well, I’ll learn for next time! I cut another 10cm off the bottom and then did a hem of 1.5cm twice (total 3cm), which tells you how long the dress would have been if I hadn’t taken it up! Spring-for-Cotton-Dress-4The dress was meant to have a 22in invisible zip, but I had this short one in my stash and knew from my 2 Laurel dresses, where I did the same thing, that I would be able to get in and out of the dress with a shorter zip – it just has to go over my head instead of being able to step into it!

I’m pleased with how the facings turned out – it’s nice to work with a fabric that irons so nicely, so the facings stayed on the inside, without poking out – i did understitch them too. Then I slip-stitched them on the inside as it was kind of a pain in the arse having to tuck the facings in every time I put the dress on!

Spring-for-Cotton-Dress-8 I’ll leave you with this kind of goofy picture! (and yet again it’s blurry – I don’t know why, it’s so annoying! Any advice gratefully received. I’m thinking more light would help – so maybe I’ll move outside from now on!) Spring-for-Cotton-Dress-6 Did you join in with Spring for Cotton (and finish in time!)? Have you sewn with a vintage pattern. I found it wasn’t as tricky as I feared, but I think that’s because my pattern was late enough to have all the same markings as modern patterns. The other pattern I considered (above) is unmarked, and I might give that a go next time – I like the idea of a matching dress and coat!

My First Scrapbook

 

Hey you guys, I made a scrapbook! Well, it’s more of a photo album really, but it involved cutting and sticking, so it kinda counts as a scrapbook, right? As you know if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, I love A Beautiful Mess (I have their photo book and made their felt allotment). They do quite a bit of scrapbooking/ making photo albums and it inspired me to have a go myself, as a present for my dad who just turned 65. I’m also researching my dad’s family tree, so this gave me a chance to scrapbook some of the things I’ve found out from doing that.

I tried to keep it relatively cheap as I didn’t know if it would really work, so I was prepared to buy a different present if necessary! I went to Paperchase and ogled all of their stationery – is it just me that loves stationery? I feel like if I had unlimited money, my house would be full of lovely stationery that I was always scared to use!

Anyway, back to Paperchase. I bought some coloured paper, this scrapbook, and then I bought some photo paper from Rymans (50 sheets of matt photo paper) and these cute stamps from John Lewis. I already had some coloured pencils and nice pens, which was lucky because I didn’t end up using most of them! I use double sided sticky tape to stick on the paper and photos as it seemed like the most durable and quickest way to stick everything in. I considered glue, but worried the paper would go all wrinkley! (is that a word?!)

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My family and my dad’s family doesn’t seem to be one that takes loads of pictures – something I’m trying to remedy, but I still always forget to take many pictures at get-togethers, or even in every day life. Do you find the same?

Because I knew there wouldn’t be loads and loads of photos, I recruited my whole family, and particularly my mum (thanks, mummy!) to send me all the photos they had so that I would have a good spread from my dad’s whole life. It took me a while to format all the pictures to get them to look clear and to fit the most economically on the paper as I didn’t have unlimited paper! I used an ordinary printer, and was pretty pleased with how the pictures turned out. Scrapbook-2

It took a loooooong time to cut them all out! I ended up with more pictures than I thought I would too, so that was a bonus.

Because this was a present for my dad, I don’t think I went as crazy with the designs of each page as I could have – but I’ll definitely experiment more next time (when/if I make another scrapbook/ photo album).

This is the front page – passport photos through the ages! I used the stamps to label things and  like how they look a bit uneven in places, like an old typewriter would. Scrapbook-3

The above small photo on the left, and the below picture of him just out of the bath are the only 2 baby pictures we have of my dad. Which is quite crazy when I compare that to my nephew and niece (who is only a couple of weeks old, awww!) who are already way better documented. I guess that’s just the age we live in – and I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be able to document all the little moments and not just the ‘special occasions’ as was probably the case 20, 30, 50 years ago.

I decided to annotate the pages a little, using a red ink pen – you can’t really see it, but below it says ‘bath time’. This page also has a copy of his birth certificate on it. I wish I had included his parents’ marriage certificate too, but I remembered too late! He didn’t know when his parents got married, so it was cool to be able to tell him when I’d ordered a copy of their marriage certificate (did I mention I’m a family history nerd!?). It turns out they got married 2 months before he was born……..Scrapbook-4

When my dad was, i think about 2, he moved to India with his parents as his dad worked for the World Health Organisation, which is pretty cool! He lived there until he was 8 or 10 – he thinks he came back and went again. I need to do some more research about their time in India, but I don’t really know where to start!

 

I think my favourite photo is the one below of him sitting on the window sill, he just looks so cute and smiley! I decided to cut out an India to make the page look a bit more interesting. Scrapbook-5

My dad also lived in New Zealand for a few years as a teenager – he’s led a pretty cool life, really! Again, I cut out a New Zealand in coloured paper for some interest!
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This is his school certificate, which qualified him to go to university at the age of 16, he’s a clever man, my dad. He would have only been able to study agriculture, but still….

I mounted some of the pictures and pages onto coloured paper to make it look a bit less samey – I tried to choose the colour of paper based on what looked nice with a particular photo/ document. Scrapbook-8

This is the only surviving photo of his uni band, Dead Sheep. On the podium thing in the photo is a poster, which I copied bigger. Unfortunately another document I was missing was his degree certificate. Bum. Scrapbook-9

So we skip from university to meeting my mum, when he was about 28/29. Aw, they look so young! But also kind of not young – do you ever think that your parents look older than you do at the same age you are now? Just me? Maybe it’s the clothes?Scrapbook-10

This is a page of wedding pictures – I love the top left one of them gazing lovingly into the distance – lol engagement photos! And the picture at the bottom of my dad with my mum’s dad is lovely. My mum was a couple of weeks off her 21st birthday when they got married, in case you think she looks reeeeeaaaaly young – she was!Scrapbook-11

I made a page for my brother, who was very cute when he was little.Scrapbook-12

And a page for me and my sister – we’re twins and there aren’t tonnes of photos of us, so I thought we could share a page. Check out the names our parents gave us all – each a mouthful in its own way! Scrapbook-13

As I mentioned above, my dad is pretty clever (he has an IQ that would allow him into MENSA!) and he used to be in a quiz team at his work and they won (I’m not sure what league/ competition) every year between 1982 and 1989 except 1985. Not bad!Scrapbook-14

 

The slightly higher graduation photo is from my mum’s graduation for her OU degree. This was about 5/6 years ago and it was a really moving day to be there. My sister and I had already graduated but there was something about seeing people from all ages and backgrounds who had worked hard for years and years to earn their degrees that seemed more impressive somehow – they hadn’t had the advantage that I had, to study full time and with no responsibilities for other people or having to fully financially support myself. Sorry to be so schmaltzy!  Scrapbook-15

My sister got married in 2011 and that’s probably the last big family gathering we’ve had, so I included some pictures from that. Below are my dad and me giving our speeches – it was pretty cool that as chief (and only) bridesmaid I got to make a speech, and not just the father of the bride and best man. My speech was pretty ace, if I say so myself – the wedding had a tea theme, because who doesn’t like tea (weirdos, that’s who!) so my speech had lots of tea puns in it.

Also, my sister made my dress and hers – I didn’t take any photos of the other wedding pages unfortunately, so I can’t show you the dress, but it was pretty awesome!Scrapbook-16

Because my sister and her husband had some pages, I thought me and The Boyfriend (Ben) should have a page. We had to take this photo specially, because there are basically no photos of the 2 of us, after 3 1/2 years! See what I mean about having to take more photos of the everyday?!Scrapbook-17

One thing my dad is (quite rightly) proud of is being an amazing blood donor – he has given 76 times and has only now stopped for health reasons. I have sort of tried to take over his mantle (though I wish I’d started sooner – but better late than never) and have now donated 4 times, the latest one being this Wednesday (which you’ll know if you follow my instagram). I feared I would faint and it would be really embarrassing, but so far, I’ve been fine! You should try it if you’ve never been! Scrapbook-18

And this is my adorable nephew – I love the top picture! And his name is Teddy, so the bottom picture is very apt! He’s the kid I made the dungarees and Sarah and Duck cushion for. Since making this book, my sister has had her second baby, a girl, so there are some blank pages in the back of the book which I left so I could fill them in with pictures of Alice and any other things that happen – like other engagements/ weddings/ babies.
Scrapbook-19Have you ever give scrapbooking a go? Would you if not? I did enjoy it, but it was a bit more time consuming that I thought it would be, so I like the idea of doing a little bit at a time as you document a month or year in your life. Also, I’d like to have a go with some more jazzy, interesting pages!

 

My first amigurumi – Pusheen!

I made a Pusheen!

Pusheen-1Have you heard of Pusheen? He’s a very lazy animated cat who is the subject of a Tumblr.

I used this free pattern on Ravelry to make him, and this is my first amigurumi make. I made him because I’m making a present for someone which is a crocheted amigurumi thing that’s much more complicated, so I thought I’d make a simple thing for practice.

Making the little feet and ears was a bit fiddly, but I managed it and they looked okay.

Pusheen-3I basically had to re-teach myself how to crochet as I hadn’t done any, since learning, apart from when I made my crocheted cushion cover, back in November 2013! Youtube is my friend!

He does just about manage to stand up 🙂

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And look at thos cute little feet! (Nipple feet as a friend of mine has dubbed them – cue weird google searches finding my blog!)Pusheen-4Embroidering his face was probably the hardest part – it took me a few goes. The pattern calls for actual toy eyes, but I didn’t have any and as this was a practice and a kind of stash buster, I didn’t want to buy anything specifically for it.

Do you crochet? Amigurumi or otherwise? Making this and the present (which I still haven’t finished, bad!), rejuvenated my interest in crochet and I think I’ll give a blanket or another cushion cover a go – I do like the classic granny square!