Best Makes of 2015

So since it’s New Year’s Eve, I thought I’d do the obvious thing of looking back over the last year and seeing what I’ve made and done. This was inspired in part by the Instragram #2015BestNine hashtag.

Instagram Best 9

I’ve made myself 14 garments, which isn’t really that many – I have felt like I haven’t had as much time for sewing as I would have liked.

I particularly like my BHL Victoria Blazer, and definitely feel smarter when I wear it instead of a cardigan.  I like my Merchant and Mills denim Dress Shirt, too.

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I made a few things with knits, for the first time this year: a Closet Case Files Sallie Maxi Dress; a Tilly and the Buttons Coco dress; and a Breton-style Deer and Doe Plantain Tee.

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I have also refashioned 7 things, so I’ve been a bit more productive than a first glance might imply!

My 3 favourite refashions were my ugly skirt to Grainline Scout tee (which I unfortunately shrank in the wash, boo!), my Refashioners Dear Creatures rip-off and, probably the one I’m most proud of, my ugly coat which I remade into a Freemantle Coat.

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I’ve made 6 non-clothes things, including my first (pusheen) and second amigurumi (a Minion), and my first scrapbook, for my Dad’s 65th Birthday.

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But my very favourite non-clothes thing (and probably favourite out of everything I’ve made) was the felt allotment I made for my friend’s daughter for Christmas 2 (which happens in January so this was made this year). This was one of those things that I saw on A Beautiful Mess and knew I had to make it, and then was super excited to see my friend’s daughter open it! I was almost too excited to wait until the present exchange, and wanted to open it as soon as I arrived for Christmas 2!

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This is the anniversary of this blog, too – I had an old one but transferred the content over and focused just on sewing and crafty things (I had previously written about food and books too), and I’ve introduced a couple of new regular posts – style inspiration and fashion history. I’ll continue with these I think, as they help me to cement my personal style and guide me what to make next! I’ve also reviewed some books, events and shops. You can see the archive of all these posts here.

Thank you to everyone who has read my blog this year and I hope you’ll come back in 2016. xx

I made a Minion!

You know when I posted about making Pusheen, I mentioned that I made him as practice for a bigger crocheted thing which was a present for someone? Well, the larger thing was a Minion (from Despicable Me) for my mum, and here he is:

Minion-2I used the brilliant pattern from All About Ami. She also has a post giving more detail in how to make all of the parts of the minion, in case you get stuck (like I did!).

I started the crochet for this in February and made the body fairly quickly – you just have to go round and round and round until it’s the right size, with some increasing at the first end and some decreasing at the second end, adding in the hair before you seal it up.

The thing that takes a lot longer is all the other little bits, like on the dungarees.

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I had to make the dungarees 3 times as my tension changed so they came out way too small. Twice. Then there’s the little square pocket, the 2 side pockets and the straps. The you have 2 arms, 2 thumbs, 6 fingers (though I didn’t make the fingers as I feared they would be too big and overtake the hand) and 2 feet. Then there’s the goggles.

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I made the goggles slightly wrong, partly because I didn’t understand the instructions and partly because I ran out of time. We had a family gathering in May for my nephew’s second birthday, and I tried to get the minion finished for then so that I could give him to my mum in person. I didn’t quite make it, but I think having that deadline helped as once I’ve missed the deadline of her actual birthday (in March), I felt like I could really take my time! The rest of the face was pretty quick to make and didn’t cost anything as I have quite a stash of felt now after making my Sarah and Duck cushion for my nephew and the felt allotment from my honorary niece.

 

The goggle strap was easy – I’m not sure if you’re meant to sew it on or if the goggles are supposed to be removable, but since I’d done the front of the goggles wrong and they kept collapsing in on themselves, I didn’t think they would keep their shape if they were removable, so I sewed it all onto the head. Minion-6

I don’t think I have too much else to say about the construction as it’s all really well covered in Ami’s blog post, so instead I took a couple of silly photos.

Here’s the minion looking for Despicable Me in my DVD collection (don’t tell him it’s not there!).

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And here he is in bed with my childhood teddy, Cutie. They’re best friends. Minion-4 My original plan was to make 2 minions (the tall one with 2 eyes and the shorter, fatter one with 1 eye) but making 1 took so long that I nipped that in the bud pretty early on. But I did enjoy making him, so maybe one day he’ll get a sidekick!

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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!

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!

Book: ReCraft

Have you ever heard of Buttonbag? They make craft kits for children. They’re stocked in John Lewis, and probably a lot of other shops, so you might have seen them around.

On their website they say:

“Buttonbag is a young innovative company breathing new life into old crafts by updating them in a fresh, contemporary way….

Our lovely craft kits are designed and made in the UK using a range of beautiful fabrics, wools and trimmings. We endeavour to source everything as close to home as possible and the vast majority of our kit components, including all our packaging, comes from the UK.

Importantly, each craft kit contains everything needed to make the finished item. Sewing kits have needles, sticking kits have glue and toys that need stuffing have stuffing.”

They have also written a book! Actually 2 books (BoyCraft has just come out and aims to get boys into making things!), but the one I’m going to talk about is called ReCraft. A friend of mine bought it for either my birthday or Christmas (I can’t remember, I’m getting old!) a few years ago and I looked through the whole book immediately and straight away had loads of ideas of things to make and re-make.

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There’s some really great ideas for making toys out of old jumpers – I especially like these whales! As anyone who has known me for a while will know, I have a bit of a thing about whales! ReCraft-3There are great instructions for each project, with clear illustrations, which I think make it quite child-friendly. Also beginner friendly!

ReCraft-4There are some great ideas of things to make out of old shirts, if you happen to have any lying around. Or their super easy to pick up at charity shops.

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and cushion covers
ReCraft-6There are also some non-sewing makes in the book, like these scrabble magnets or lego clock (an alternative to a vinyl record clock, perhaps a good present for a boy?).

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There are several things in the home section that I definitely want to make – I’ll get around to it one day! There’s a vinyl record clock in there, like the one I made. I love the dachshund draft excluder, which is made from an old pair of men’s trousers.
ReCraft-9I also think the little owl door stops are really sweet! They’re made from an old jacket.

ReCraft-10Another make made from an old jacket is this cute little bag

ReCraft-8Having read recently on Portia’s makery blog ideas for t shirt yarn, I feel more enthusiastic than every about giving t shirt yarn knitting a go – ReCraft has a very simple idea to make a rug, which I think would be good for a first experiment, but then the world is your oyster – depending on how easily you can get hold of old t shirts!

ReCraft-11 Do you ever find that even if you don’t manage to make any projects from a particular book, you still find them inspiring? I definitely do! I think also it means I have a list of possible projects in my brain when searching charity shops for bargains! Have you used any Buttonbag kits? I’m thinking they would be good presents for the kids in my life when they’re old enough!