Archive for the ‘sewing’ Category


June 15, 2010


Oh, I am so pleased with this. Look, those are cables; crochet cables. Crochet cables!  I expect everyone else in the world has been crocheting cables since they were toddlers, but they are new to me.  There was much swearing and unravelling of swatches before I got the hang of them, though that’s mainly because I was trying to teach myself to do them with the aid of a pattern for a swatch in a 40 year old book that said something like this: 1 RtF round each of next 2RtF, 1 RdtF into next RtF, then keeping hook at front of work but behind the 2Rtdf just worked work Cr5B….”  WTF????

This pic doesn’t do the hat justice at all. Obviously, the best thing to do would be to take a picture of it on my head, so you can see it properly, but that would involve not only washing my hair, but also blow-drying it, and either taking a picture of the back of my head, or having to put on make-up, and I can’t be bothered to do any of those things today.  Or most days, really.

Sock monkey

Oh dear, he’s a bit ugly, this sock monkey.  Never mind; he’s off to Australia where he can give someone else nightmares.

Baby cardigan

For a new little baby, born in April.  I’m hoping this is a size 6 – 12 months, so if I don’t get round to posting it off to the UK straight away it won’t matter…


Yup, no change.  Still not finished.

And something new in progress…

Based on this Cath Kidston tea cosy, though mine isn’t going to be a tea cosy.  I’m not quite sure what mine’s going to be, yet, but tea cosy is definitely not one of the options.

(Sorry about the crappy pics.  Mid-winter here…)



May 26, 2010

Unfinished doll.

Unfinished hat.

Unfinished baby cardigan.

Unfinished sock monkey.


December 28, 2009

Oh dear, I didn’t mean to disappear for so long, but the last few weeks have been busy, busy, busy. I hope you all had lovely Christmases. We had a beautiful, sunny day up here, and spent the day hanging around on the beach and stuffing ourselves silly with lots of lovely food. It was the hottest Christmas we’ve had since we moved to New Zealand, and was perfectly lovely.

So, would you like to know how my Christmas present making went in the end? Originally, I was planning to make 20 gifts, but one of those was a commission for a friend, and she said she didn’t need it by Christmas, which was a relief. I then abandoned another three, leaving a total of 16 gifts to make. And I got 14 of them made and posted in time for Christmas – woohoo!!

I made a lot of hats:

Two little hats for my god-daughter and her sister:

Two little hats for two little girls

And two little hats for my nephew and my godson:

Two little hats for two little boys

A much bigger hat for my brother:

Christmas presents (2)

And another for my brother-in-law:

Christmas presents (3)

UPDATE: the pattern for the hats above is now available here.

A Durango and Robin’s Egg hat for my step-mother:

Christmas presents (5)

And a modified version of that for my dad:

Christmas presents (6)

But I didn’t just make hats – oh no. I also made slippers. Three pairs in all – one for my mum, one for my sister, and one for my friend.

Christmas presents (4)

For my niece and my eldest god-daughter I made tutus using this tutorial. I couldn’t get rolls of tulle locally, so had to use normal tulle and cut it into strips, which took ages. I used 6 metres of 54 inch wide tulle for each one, and cut it into strips 4 inches wide by 36 inches long. But they came out lovely and puffy – I had to squash them down into really small packages to post to the UK.

Christmas presents

And finally, I made a hooded cardigan for my middle god-daughter.

Hooded cardigan


April 7, 2009

The 30,000 word report? Finished. FINISHED! Such a relief: it’s the culmination of over 4 years’ work, and I have been working on the report itself for over 18 months. That’s academia for you: s-l-o-o-o-w.

And the heart appliqué? Also finished.


It’s a bit wonky (I hadn’t realised quite how wonky until I took the pic) but I love it. I’ll definitely make more of these, but maybe next time I’ll mark some lines and things on the felt before I start rather than doing it all by eye.

And the baby blanket (the one for my friend whose baby is due in a month)? About half done.

I’m feeling very productive right now. I might have to go and lie in the hammock to recover.

Works in progress

April 4, 2009

This last fortnight I have mainly been writing a 30,000 word report (30,000 words – eek!)  But I’ve also been trying to do some crafting in the evenings so my head doesn’t explode.

First of all, from a woollen blanket I found in the op shop that had this cool label:


I made this stack of felt:


(Following mollychicken’s directions.)

Looks nice, doesn’t it?

And I have almost finished making this:


(Inspired by mollychicken. I should just rename this post “An homage to mollychicken”.)

The sewing’s a bit wonky, especially the bits I did after I’d had a couple of glasses of wine, but never mind.  Maybe the cat hair will cover it up. Once this is finished it will be winging its way off to the UK as a very late birthday present for a friend. So late, in fact, that I might just pretend it’s an early present for this year.

Then what else?  Ah, the baby blanket. Thank you for the nice comments about this. I did start to unravel it, but then decided to put it away for a bit. When I looked at it again after a couple of weeks I decided I did like it after all, but was still worried that my friend would think it was garish, so sent her an email with a picture saying, “What do you think? Please tell me if you hate it. Or tell me if you have so many baby blankets already that you won’t ever use it.” (Which was my cunning way of giving her a get out clause so she could pretend she loved it even if she didn’t, but could turn down the gift without hurting my feelings. Obviously, if she had said that I would have thought she secretly hated it, anyway.) Well, my friend thought I was mad, and said how on earth did I think she could hate something I had made especially for her. So….. I finished off the last few rows (cursing the whole time about the rows I had unravelled), then started sewing in the ends, then realised I had no wool for the border, and THEN realised that my other friend who is expecting a baby is due in FOUR WEEKS’ TIME, so made a start on a blanket for her, too.

So now I have 3 unfinished projects, and I still haven’t finished the 30,000 word report.

Toadstool Cottage and Mushroom House: free pattern and tutorial

November 3, 2008

Toadstool Cottage (left) and Mushroom House (right)

Now, I know that craft blogs are full of mushroom pincushions, but when I decided I had to have a mushroom pincushion of my very own, I couldn’t find a pattern or tutorial for the shapes I had in mind. Not that the ones I found weren’t lovely, just that I had a very specific image in my head of how I wanted my pincushions to look.

Failing to find a pattern on the internet, I again had to resort to making my own pattern, this time using a compass, a protractor, a ruler, and my rusty knowledge of geometry. Now, either my knowledge of geometry was much better than I thought, or I was incredibly lucky, because the pattern worked.

If you want to make your own, here’s how.

First, get a compass, protractor and ruler…. Only kidding.

You’ll need the following materials:

Red & white felt: a 9″ (23 cm) square of each will be big enough to make Toadstool Cottage and Mushroom Cottage unless you enlarge the pattern. Or, you can use any other colours you like.

Embroidery floss or wool:

  • White, for attaching the spots (you could use normal sewing thread for this instead)
  • Green, for grass and stems
  • Brown, for the door and windows
  • Selection of colours for the flowers. I used red, pink, blue and yellow

Scraps of coloured felt (or other fabric) for doors and windows

Sewing thread, embroidery needle, etc

Stuffing: I used toy stuffing for mine as I wanted them to be washable, but you could also use pellets or rice, or even wood shavings as stuffing.


Download the pattern file

Click here for the pattern. That link will take you to a PDF of the pattern pieces. If you print the document at 100% of its size your Toadstool Cottage will be approximately 5″ or 13 cm high, and Mushroom House will be approximately 4″ or 10 cm high. (Unless I really messed up the production of the file, in which case let me know…)

You can enlarge or reduce the pattern to make different sizes.

Please note: this free pattern download is not for resale. All rights reserved. No part of the pattern may be reproduced in any form. The written instructions, photographs, design, and pattern are intended for personal, non-commercial use only i.e. you are not permitted to sell any items made using this pattern.

Cut out the following pieces

From red felt

  • Either 4 x cap top 1 for Toadstool Cottage or 4 x cap top 2 for Mushroom Cottage

From white felt

  • Either 1 x cap bottom 1 for Toadstool cottage or 1 x cap bottom 2 for Mushroom Cottage
  • 1 x stalk
  • 1 x base
  • 8 or 9 spots (I used 9 spots for Toadstool Cottage and 8 spots for Mushroom House)

From felt colour for door

  • 1 x door

From felt colour for windows

  • 4 x curtains

Make the cap

Step 1: take two red cap top pieces and pin together. For Toadstool Cottage, sew down one of the long sides, using a ¼” seam. For Mushroom House, sew down one of the sides without the notch, as shown below, using a ¼” seam. Repeat for the other two red cap pieces.

Step 2: open both the sewn pieces out flat, and pin to each other, matching the corners and seams. Sew together, using a ¼” seam.

Step 3: turn right side out, and sew the white spots to the cap using running stitch. If you prefer, you can attach the spots using fabric glue. I used nine spots for Toadstool Cottage, and eight spots for Mushroom House.

TIP: it is easier to sew the spots to the cap before the cap is stuffed, but if you prefer, you can sew them on later.

Step 4: turn the cap inside out again, and baste the cap bottom to the edge. Sew using as small a seam allowance as possible, a maximum of a ¼” seam (I used an 1/8″ seam, but both work).

Turn the cap right side out again, taking care not to stretch the cap bottom.

Make the base

Step 1: place the door in position on the stalk piece and baste into place. Note: the base of the door should sit about ¼” above the bottom of the stalk, as shown below. Sew the door in position using chain or back-stitch, and make a French knot for the door handle. Then baste the curtains in position, and embroider the window frames, again using chain stitch or back-stitch.

Step 2: embroider the stalk with any details you like, leaving a margin of ¼” round the edge of the stalk piece. As you can see, I embroidered lots of flowers, because that’s what I wish the front of my house looked like. I used a combination of detached chain stitches, back stitch, and French knots for my embroidery.

Step 3: once you have finished decorating the stalk, fold it in half with the embroidery on the inside, and the two short sides matching up, and sew using a ¼” seam, then turn the right way out.

Join the cap and base together

Step 1: lightly stuff the cap. Don’t stuff it too much, as you need to be able to insert the stalk into the opening.

Step 2: insert the stalk into the opening, and baste into place.

Then sew firmly using ladder stitch.

Step 3: once the stalk is attached, finish stuffing the cap firmly. Then stuff the stalk, but loosely. You shouldn’t have any stuffing poking out of the bottom when you’ve finished, or the pin cushion won’t stand up (check that it stands up before you attach the base, and adjust the stuffing if needed).

TIP: if you’re using pellets or rice or something similar for stuffing, it maybe useful to cut a circle of card or plastic to line the base with.

Step 4: attach the base using running stitch.

And ta daaaaa! You’re done.

If you make any of these, please post a pic to The Little House by the Sea flickr pool or send me a pic, as I’d love to see them.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

September 4, 2008

Needle case by Cath Kidston:

Needle case by me:

Toadstool or mushroom?

August 30, 2008

Another Toadstool Cottage… or is it a Mushroom house?

This one is about 3.5″, or 9 cm high.

I’ll post a pattern and tutorial for these some time soon.

This time last year

August 28, 2008

When I wrote yesterday of all the things I should be doing instead of making mushrooms, I should have added “sorting out my wedding photos” to the list. It’s almost a year now since I got married, and the photos are all still languishing on my laptop, unsorted and unprinted. I keep starting to go through them, but there are so many that the task seems insurmountable. I also find it disconcerting looking at so many pictures of myself.

This, though, is one of my favourites:

Just me and my niece, walking hand-in-hand by the River Thames, like we usually did at weekends…

(This is especially for you, geckogrrl, because I promised you a pic almost a year ago and never did show you one.)

This time last year, I was putting the finishing touches to the dress my niece is wearing in that picture, and sorting out last-minute details for my wedding. I’ve just been reading through old emails, and all mine from the weeks leading up to my wedding had headings like:

  • ‘What are your five favourite songs?’ (the replies were used to fill up the iPod for the wedding reception, although we didn’t use it in the end as the Elvis impersonator we had booked for an hour enjoyed himself so much he sang all night);
  • ‘What are we going to do about shoes for the flower girls????’ (we bought some lovely little shoes from bHs – they have a great selection of dresses and accessories for child bridesmaids);
  • ‘What about cardigans?????’ (bought them online from M&S. Oh, I miss M&S…);
  • ‘Hen night!!!!!!!!’ (less said about that the better. The smoking ban had just come into effect in the UK, and half my “hens” spent the night outside, smoking, and those of us that were left inside were pestered all night by a load of geeky IT bods who were having an office do);
  • ”Aaaaaargh! Stressed!!!’ (seemed to be used for lots of different things….)

I’m sure the nearer it got to the wedding, the more question and exclamation marks I used.

Anyway, I made these dresses, using a Vogue pattern, no V7819. I was particularly fond of the sash – I made it from the bridesmaid dress I wore at my sister’s wedding, which I thought was a nice touch. But you’ll notice there’s no sash in the pic above. That’s because on the day of the wedding, my niece took one look at the sash, let out a wail, and refused to wear it. My sister valiantly tried every trick in the book (threats, tears, shouting, bribery) to get my niece to wear the sash, but, in the end, my niece’s 2-and-a-half year old will prevailed, and the sash was left behind. Such a shame, as I think it took longer to make the sash than it did the dress – fiddly thing.

What I did yesterday instead of work

August 27, 2008

Toadstool Cottage

Because making a pincushion is so much more important than doing the two reports I have to write, making the dolls I’ve promised the children, taking the dogs for a walk, or doing housework.