I’ve harped on about this book so much since I started sewing that I’m beginning to think I need to consider approaching Cath Kidston about some sort of commission agreement. Seriously though: it’s a great book. Buy it.
Sew! by Cath Kidston is the first sewing book I ever bought. I remember going to Waterstones and choosing it (partly because it’s full of flowery house things and partly because it comes with a free DIY shoulder bag kit) and I’ve honestly never looked back.
I’ve nearly made every single project from the book – including a couple of pairs of oven gloves, several cushions, a heart-shaped pin cushion, a patchwork knitting bag, an apron and a Kindle cover. For a novice seamstress like myself, I’ve found the patterns incredibly easy to follow (particularly because the book comes with a free pull-out pattern sheet) and also incredibly desirable. The projects in this book are fun to make and are actually things you’d want to use around the house. Other sewing books I’ve come across aren’t so alluring – a whole book of ‘mug rugs‘, anyone?
The book even comes with all the Cath Kidston material needed to make the shoulder bag on the cover. Despite buying the book 3 years ago, I’ve only just got round to making the bag this spring bank holiday. The instructions are included as one of the patterns in the book and, as I discovered today, the project uses almost every sewing skill under the sun. It’s a great way to learn all the basics (t-junction seams, button holes and rouleau loops included) but an absolute nightmare if you’re not very good with fiddly details. Even after 3 years of sewing practice I found this particular bag to be a challenge.
However, Sew! by Cath Kidston is definitely a book I’d recommend to newbie stitchers and established Sewing Bee contestants alike. If you’re looking to learn new techniques or just polish those you’ve got, this book will help you on your way. Plus it’s a good excuse to head to the fabric department of Cath Kidston‘s shop without feeling guilty too (even better when they’ve got a sale on!).
Alongside my cross stitch, another one of the travel-sized crafts that I’ve brought with me to France is origami. I’ve always been obsessed with the Japanese art of paper folding – I remember taking part in the talent contest at primary school, handing out squares of coloured paper and teaching my class of fellow 10-year-olds how to make origami boxes. I used to sit and make paper elephants, cranes and flowers using paper from the printer, pages out my school books or bits of till receipt at work.
When I was in my teens I had a pen-pal named Hikari who lived in Japan (and with whom I have sadly since lost contact with). She once sent me a book of proper, Japanese, patterned origami paper and I’ve still got most of the sheets left today. It’s so beautiful I hardly dare use it! Those of you who’ve seen my room at home may have noticed the cranes I have around the place made out of the cute floral designs.
I love to experiment with origami and will often find myself halfway through making some sort of forest animal before I get completely stuck. Instructions can be incredibly difficult to follow as they require a lot of imagination as to what the finished result should look like. I recently, however, came across the website paperkawaii.com and I think it may have just changed my life for the better. The girl who updates the site regularly posts how-to videos for lots of amazing origami designs – having visual instructions is so much better than written ones! The photos on this page of the paper bows and the cherry blossom inspired dish were created using the videos on her website.
The only problem is that this paper-folding habit has lead to a shortage in paper… luckily my boyfriend arrives in a few days so I’ve had chance to request that he brings me over some more supplies!
Paper Kawaii is a blog-style website run by an origami enthusiast, currently residing in Australia, who loves to post diagrams and links to the most adorable origami I think I’ve ever seen. I only stumbled across the site by accident – I believe I was looking for patterns to make flowers at the time – and it’s now a permanent fixture on my favourites tool bar.
Flowers aside, the origami ribbon bow is my favourite find. I made the purple and blue ones below! I’ve used a couple of them to decorate a birthday present with.
These quick picture instructions show you how to recreate the design yourself…. don’t worry if you get stuck, I found it much easier to head over to the Paper Kawaii website here and follow the tutorial video. It’s 10 minutes long, but it’s 10 minutes that could easily change your life. Good luck!
Previously in my life, see here, I astonished myself and those around me by hand-making my very own quilted Kindle cover. I adapted a lovely pattern out of that trusty Cath Kidston Sew! book – there’s a handy review of that here too – and, basically, turned a coin purse into an e-reader storage facility. Such skills.
Now this is where the real story begins. Recently, my adorable work colleague has visited the Big Apple and purchased herself an iPad mark 2 - Apple pun obviously not intended, promise – and has expressed the severe need for a case to keep it in. Whilst there are many wonderful, technological and expensive designs on the market already… clearly nothing says ‘I love you but I’m fairly jealous anyway’ more than her very own, hand-sewn, unique iPad cover.
Enter the iPurse. Patent pending (I wish). This week (or fortnight at least) it is my ambition to stitch away and create a new masterpiece. When I’m not doing one of the other 14 masterpieces I currently have on the go, that is…
Let’s just get this out there now, shall we? Yesterday I bought myself a Christmas card-making magazine. There, said it. In all fairness it did come with some fabulous, free Christmas card decorations and backing paper. I’m even considering wallpapering my room with the paper instead it’s that pretty. The magazine is Cardmaking & Papercraft (issue 96, October) and isn’t one I usually buy – I’m more of a sewing magazine kinda girl! Nothing wrong with being prepared for the festive season though, right?
Felt Friends from Japan is a felt-based toy making book that I spotted this weekend in my (not so local) Waterstones Exeter store. Obviously I made no hesitation in falling head over heels for it. Toys+Japan= sure winner for everyone involved. The fact I get staff discount in Waterstones does help with the book’s appeal – although this perk only lasts until the start of July, so buying it yesterday was my ONLY option. Naturally.
The book is written by a lovely looking lady named Naomi Tabatha - and I believe it’s the only one she’s turned her hand to. Born in Japan, and having worked as a toy-maker for magazine, book and CD covers, as well as writing magazine columns and (as the book delightfully tells me) has blood type B – Tabatha epitomises everything I would love to be myself. What a girl.
The inside of the book is sickeningly cute – those with a nervous disposition towards everything kawaii, please look away now. There are options to make gingerbread men brooches, goldfish coin purses and puppy dog mascots to name but a few of the delightful toys on offer. The inside of the book jacket even contains all the patterns needed to make the items – ingenious.
In my own sewing kit I have a special box dedicated to bits of felt, so I’m hoping that Felt Friends will help me to use them up. I can’t wait to make myself a Kenji Cat or a pin badge in the shape of a flowerpot – all essential items that I have no idea HOW I lived without beforehand. The last time I worked with felt was on the needle case I made – check that out here.
Pictures of completed toys will, of course, be uploaded in due course. Super kawaii!
First of all – Happy Easter! Today is Easter Sunday, and so far I have 3 chocolate eggs. Not too bad considering my family don’t classify me as ‘one of the kids’ anymore. Oh to be 7 years old again. This little guy spent the whole of Easter Saturday perched on my till at work, hopefully he’s not been poached and will still be there for tomorrow… but for now, back to the sewing:
If you love (or even just like a tiny bit) cross stitch, then Cross Stitcher magazine is definitely something you need to look into. First of all, commit this web page to memory – or at least add it to your favourites.
FREE patterns are what people like me live for, so this page ticks ALL the right boxes. The little cherry, strawberry and ice lolly motifs pictured here are my favourites, which you can download with a simple click of a button here.
I’ve also finished sewing the cherry blossom inspired flowers I started the other day. Now they’re complete with greenery, I think even Kate Middleton would be proud to have them in her bouquet. I haven’t yet decided what I’m going to do with them – but for now they’re stuck up on my wall looking pretty. Let’s hope the sunny weather continues to provide me with inspiration to stitch even more!
Yiotas Cross Stitch is a website I stumbled across after they (inexplicably) started to follow me on Twitter (@_LouiseH). Evidently they have an EXCELLENT marketing team. Firstly, (I know how concerned you are with my progress) take a look at how my cherry-blossom-esque flowers are coming along – I just need to stitch a few more, place some green leaves in between, et voila - an entire bouquet!
But back to Yiotas… http://www.yiotas-xstitch.com is a website for you to buy cross stitch kits, patterns, fabric, threads – almost everything you’d ever need. There’s an enormous selection of kits in every category under the sun. I do wonder how I’ve never come across this before (probably for the best, I’m not sure my bank account could take it). Prices are surprisingly reasonable – delivery is only £1.49 in the UK, AND they will post worldwide – which makes the site all the more attractive. There’s even the option to buy just the pattern (without the thread) at a fraction of the price, which is incredibly useful for thread-horders like myself. There’s even a section for free patterns which gets updated regularly. Excellent!
Admittedly – a lot of the patterns are, what I’d call, VERY HARD. There are a lot of enormous designs that’d take me a lifetime to complete. If you’re more of a beginner, do dig around… there are some great easy-finds once you start looking! (check this fantastic cat cushion – how amazing is this?!)
You can follow Yiotas on Facebook for news on when free patterns go live
Through word-of-mouth (from a work colleague of mine) I learnt about Rosebud & Farthing – a small Yorkshire based company that produce one-off items for your home and garden. I decided to feature their website in my blog as I believe they definitely deserve more publicity! Take this tree cushion for instance. I love the way buttons have been used as leaves on the tree, and it’s really inspired me to have a go myself. Perhaps a scattering of pink buttons could represent cherry blossom?
A lot of the items on the website (www.rosebudandfarthing.com) are handmade, and have that true ‘homely’ feel about them. Whether you’re looking for practical items like cushions, blankets or mugs for your kitchen, or simply something one-off to complement your lounge or nursery – Rosebud & Farthing should be high on your list for places to shop. As well as soft furnishings, the site also has many vintage items that have been carefully selected to fit in with it’s eclectic, homespun feel.
A couple of weeks ago I had a sudden burst of inspiration and a strong desire to begin sewing everything and anything. It all started when I walked into Waterstones, Harrogate, and found the amazing ‘Sew!’ book by Cath Kidston.
This book is brilliant for (almost) beginners like myself. I’ve made a few garments for Barbie dolls in my younger days, and I’ve always enjoyed being creative, so I like to think I have a flair for making something out of nothing. Sew! by Cath Kidston is a great place to re-start my obssession. Firstly, the book comes with pre-cut material to make the bag on the cover – which was probably what persuaded me to pay £14.99 for it in the first place. In hindsight, I could’ve saved a fortune if I’d bought it online, but being impatient, I wanted it there and then!
The book comes with an enormous colour and letter -coded template sheet, which is easy to use although not so easy to fold back up again. All the shapes are easy enough to cut out from greaseproof paper and can be re-used for several of the projects in the book. Each of the projects are rated from 1-3 depending on their dfficulty, and so far they seem to live up to their rankings. The book has clear instructions for each item, with a list of ‘ingredients’ for each one, step-by-step instructions and lots of pictures. Definitely very easy to follow.
At the start of the book there is also a short explanation on how to sew hems, how to create button holes, how to press seams etc, which is very handy if you’re new to all the terminology. The projects consist of handbags, aprons, ovengloves, tea towels, washbags, blankets, cushions… lots of ‘homely’ items which will make your home attain that country-cottage feel it deserves.
Looking back, I’m glad I bought this book over some of the other ones available in the (very small) sewing section at Waterstones. Fingers crossed our vintage sewing machine doesn’t give up before I’ve got to the end!