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.

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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

Homemade Christmas Presents

Usually around this time of year (i.e. after Christmas) I start posting about all the homemade gifts I’ve made for people. But this year, for the first time in about 6 years, I haven’t made anyone a present. I found this year that the run-up to Christmas was a bit stressful and it went really quickly – I had only about 4 evenings and 2 weekend days off in the month running up to Christmas! So instead of posting this year’s makes, I thought I would round-up the things I’ve made in previous years. Maybe if I start having ideas now, by next year I’ll have made a couple of things!

I’ll list these from quickest to longest to make (roughly), so you’ll have an idea of what you can complete in time if, like me, you start too late!

You can easily, and quickly, make a bowl out of a vinyl record for someone, like I did with this one for my brother-in-law.

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Or another idea for a vinyl record is to make it into a clock.

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Tea cup candles are pretty and can be flavoured – I gave mine a chocolate smell! And they’re not as scary to make as you might think!

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You can always make clothes for someone else (and not just for yourself!) as I did with this Grainline Scout Tee for a friend, out of Strawberry fabric – Strawberries are her favourite thing!

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A good alternative to clothes is an apron, which you can customise depending on the taste of the person you’re making it for – this one is cake themed for my baking friend.

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An easy gift for any new babies in your family or friendship group is to applique some baby grows. You could do flowers or trains or other animals, or whatever the kid is into (if they’re old enough to have interests).

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If you fancy a bit more sewing, you could make a tote bag for someone, using this tutorial, with their favourite thing on – in this case BBC’s Sherlock (who’s excited for New Year’s Day!?).

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Or, also requiring a bit more sewing, you can make some baby clothes.

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If you’re not into sewing, or if you fancy a non-sewn gift, you can make a scrapbook, like this one I made for my dad’s 60th birthday.

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If you know how to knit and know someone who likes lego, what better than this knitted lego brick doorstop (with an actual brick inside).

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Again for the kiddies, maybe for older ones than the baby grows, why not make a cushion or wall hanging with their favourite book or character on?

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Probably the first thing anyone makes when they learn to knit is a scarf, so why not knit one (or more) as gifts?

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If you’ve got a bit more sewing time, and an older kid than for the cushion or wall hanging, you can make a felt allotment or a (travel) matching game. This both take a while because there’s lots of bits to make (and lots of squares to sew for the matching game!), but you can make then as complicated as you like or have time for.

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Finally, if you have lots of knitting time (in front of a boxset, perhaps?!), then you could make a rug like this one, which was based on a cushion pattern).

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Do you make Christmas presents for people? If so, how early do you start and what have been your favourite makes?

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!