Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Long Not Hot But Creative Summer

I really need to get better at this blog thing! Unfortunately with four kids and nearly nine weeks of summer holidays to fill, it has been a bit impossible to find time to sit and write on the blog! I’m sure there are many of you out there who know exactly what I’m talking about! But it doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy creating and making things, that never stops!

Babies, babies and more babies!! So many people around me have had babies lately, and while i am glad to be over that stage, I absolutely love any excuse to make gifts for bubs! One of my close friends had a baby boy in a lovely home birth in July. She is part of the craft group I have been in the last four years (since moving to Ireland…don’t know where I would be without my craft girls!). Sneakily, another close friend and I crocheted a blanket for her based on a circles pattern we found on this blog: Just Do. My friend loves circles and bright colours, so we went for this bold, rainbow pattern. I must admit the circles were a bit tricky to get started and began to fall apart, I think because I started mine all wrong!!!! But despite that, it was a quick & easy project and the end result looks brilliant, my friend loved it and it looked so snuggly cuddled around  the baby!

Another close friend of mine was due a few weeks later. I had made her baby boy a Noah’s Ark quilt two years ago when he was born which she loved and is now hanging up in his room. After finding out she was expecting a girl, I couldn’t wait to tuck into my pink and coral colours, especially some of the new Sarah Jane Wee Wander fabrics I had just ordered. I found this quilt pattern on Sarah Jane’s blog and adapted it to suit the same size quilt I had made before. But instead of using a fabric panel (way too boring for me!!!), I always have to complicate things by coming up with my own design. I chose a woodland scene for inspiration, (from wallartdesign on Etsy) and drew it to size so could trace my creatures onto some ‘heat & bond’ to stick to my backing fabric. I chose a lilac purple instead of a usual blue sky colour as I think it brought out the creatures more (the real truth is that I live in the west of Ireland where getting fabric is not so easy as popping down to the local craft store…so sometimes you have to make do with what you’ve got…..but don’t tell anyone that…I REALLY MEANT to choose that colour!). Anyway, apart from my 6 year old telling me the background should really be blue (aargh!!),  I think it turned out great, particularly with the matching corals in the patchwork panels.

I hand embroidered around all the the creatures and the tree using split stitch which took some time but was a good holiday project to take away with me. There is nothing quite like quilting on a camping chair in the shade, sipping a gin & tonic outside the caravan! 

I quilted it myself using spirals all over the quilt sandwiched with some nice cotton batting and the same lilac fabric on the back.  I don’t have one of those fancy quilting machines or even the quilting attachment boards for your machine, so while it’s a bit fiddly to do, I love the challenge of it.  I actually find the quilting bit the most fun to do & wouldn’t get the same satisfaction having someone else do it for me! I love seeing the picture revealed and stand out when you quilt around it. 

So…despite a long break between blogs, I have been busy…..I’ve also made at least 7 dolls too & some more Halloween monster dolls! Don’t forget you can now buy my Monster Doll pattern on my Etsy store! I am soooo excited to have a pattern up for sale, finally!! If you’ve ever written a pattern you will know how laborious the process is! Hopefully there will be more to come soon!
Monster Rag Doll Pattern

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

I felt desperate to do some sewing the other day but my kids had an extra two days off school for an extra-long bank holiday weekend! I was almost going crazy then I thought of this idea to create something WITH them that would satisfy my sewing cravings & keep them entertained - Handmade Book Bags!

I had seen this pattern for a cute messenger book bag from Make It Perfect. Based on that I cut out the shape of the top flap and traced around it onto some paper. I then got the kids to draw a picture and design their own flap.
Aftern they had finished their design they drew over it with a transfer pen. (I still have no idea exactly what Ryder was dreaming up with this design - some boys reading with flying books inside clouds floating all around them?!)
I then ironed the design onto some plain fabric. The kids then decorated, coloured and made a collage of their design using scrap fabrics and markers (I didn't bother with textile markers as I don't intend washing the bags but if you do you might want to use fabric crayons or markers).
Rory was very proud of his lion & boy masterpiece and he did it all himself! I had to help Ryder & Arwen a little with theirs.  Once they had finished decorating their designs it was finally my turn to do some sewing! To make the designs more prominent I outlined them with some free motion stitching! This is my favourite type of sewing & I loved seeing their pictures come alive! 

 Then I got to sew them into bags. If your kids are older they could probably sew some of the bag themselves although the binding bit might be a bit tricky for beginners. The bags are a great size for novels or books up to A5 in size.
This was a really fun activity, although the sewing bit took a while especially as I had three to make! And the kids were asking me every 5 minutes when they were ready!!! But the finished result is definitely worth it & the kids have been using them ever since to hold their favourite novels or books & hang them on the ends of their beds at night!
It also satisfied my sewing least for a while!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Busy Making, Busy Creating!

Life's been pretty hectic lately, hence the lack of blog posts! I always swear to myself I'll blog once a week at least but....anyway, rather than give up, I'll just keep trying!

In between church ministry stuff, a conference in Germany, my dad visiting, going on holidays to Donegal over Easter & moving house (as well as looking after a husband and four kids!); I've been busy making lots of dolls for friends & some orders too!

These cute little dolls were made for two little flower girls as a gift for them on their parents' wedding day. They have the girl's name & the date of the wedding embroidered on the badge.

A friend of mine requested this doll as a gift for her Welsh friend's little boy! It was a bit fiddly cutting out the dragon but it ended up turning out quite cool.

A pixie fairy!

These dolls have been quite popular, as gifts for newborn babies or birthdays. They are personalised with the child's name & sometimes the birth date.

I even got to go on the local radio station to promote my little business! Midwest Radio is a station for all the people out here in the north-west of Ireland & it was a privilege to be interviewed. It was also great to meet so many other creative people in the Bank of Ireland, Ballina, that day who were also there promoting their small businesses.

Hopefully I'll be back again soon with more creations, ideas, tutorials and my experiences of life in Ireland!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Little Clay Flower Girl

I like trying new things and I am very inspired by other crafters out there. One of my favourite crafters is Aimee Ray who has a lovely little shop selling her unique range of clay 'NOMS' (gnomes) on Etsy called littledear. You can follow her blog at littledeartracks . I absolutely love her gorgeous hand painted gnomes and I love her style of illustration. She also sells a variety of felt plush patterns and swirly embroidery patterns.

An example of Aimee Ray's latest NOMS
A few months ago I was using some clay to use in a school craft project at my children's school. With some of the leftovers, I sculpted a little girl, similar to Aimee Ray's gnome designs but with my own unique twist. I finally got a chance to paint it the other week with some watercolours. It was very fiddly work and I also had to contend with the beady eye of my little 4 year old daughter watching over my shoulder. Everything I make at the moment she claims for herself and often tells me what she wants me to do or how it should look! I tell you, she is definitely my harshest critic!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Finding time to create...what time?

There are some days I just struggle to find time to make anything! And when I say 'make' I don't mean dinner, or lunches, or beds! I mean something creative like a painting, some writing, a cloth doll....anything. Do you ever have days like that?

I am very blessed that my husband and I work from home. So I do have time around the busyness of family life to create although some weeks it just doesn't happen. Like this week. Everything this week has been bitsy, too many little bits and pieces of things that mean I haven't been able to pull any creating time together. Apart from this afternoon which my sweet husband gave to me even though our kids, at the time, were running and screaming around our house. He decided that rather than both of us ending up frazzled, one of us might as well do something productive, and I feel very blessed that it was my turn.

So apart from a few minor interruptions of one of my four children entering my study to tell me something, wipe away some tears or put on a  jacket; I have had an hour or so to write and also post on this blog. It has been heaven, just some time (I wouldn't say necessarily peaceful but now the kids have gone outside so it's quiet now....for a minute), to reflect, create and reconnect with my creative self.

Sometimes I actually itch to make something....I just feel the need to sew somethings, or paint something....and I know when I get like this I just need to do it or I take my frustration out on other people. There are instances when I randomly go into my study and just do something, and usually the kids end up following me! Often, when I really want to get things done, I distract them with something else or promises of a game when I'm finished.

Sometimes like in this picture, they just play around me. Actually, I end up sewing around them and the mess they create. But I don't mind really. A bit of creative play can be very inspiring so instead of letting it annoy me,  I try at times to let it inspire me, to be creative as a child, without inhibitions. And who cares about the mess anyway?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Two little shells...

The other day my husband brought home two shells from his walk on our local beach. Because of the  recent crazy storms here off the west coast of Ireland, all these shells from some sort of sea snail, had been swept into one area of beach, tucked between some sand dunes. Who knows, maybe the snails had swirled together to get some shelter from the storm without realising they would get trapped between the dunes when the water retreated.

It's been great to take close up pictures of these shells as they are only small, about 1 and a half centimetres wide. Zooming in close I've been able to study the beautiful swirls that so intricately decorate them. These are perfect spirals, not the imperfect unbalanced swirls I draw with my paintbrush. Even these tiny sea snails have absolutely gorgeous, careful crafted coverings, created by a mighty and powerful hand so much greater, more artistic and perfect than my own.

When I think about these shells I'm reminded of that Bible passage where Jesus talks about not worrying and to consider the lilies of the field that are so regal and delicate. "But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you little faith?" (Matthew 6: 30). Will not God, who provided these little snails with tiny, ornate and precious houses; will not this God much more provide for me in the chaos and swirly mess of my life? Just like these snails, sometimes I feel tossed about by giant waves or swelling tides of doubt. Sometimes I feel swept away and trapped by sands of troubles. But unlike these poor little snails, God will provide for me for I am a child of his. How much more has he crafted and made me who I am, not just a painted shell but a beautiful human being who lives and breathes, sings and loves, writes and creates.

Only two little shells but such a wonderful lesson to me about the goodness of God and how precious my life is to Him.