This weekend my taller-other-half and I go to the Algarve in Portugal for our week’s summer holiday. I can’t wait, so in preparation I decided to do some research into local cloths that I might be able to source for future stitching!
Chita de Alcobaça is a traditional 15th-18th century Portuguese fabric (originally from India) that uses a myriad of colour, stripes and floral/fruit/bird motifs to represent its Indo-European heritage. Each pattern has a name and there are many different patterns in varying colours and designs. I’ve tried to find out more information on WHY this fabric is so popular in Portugal but Google doesn’t seem to present me with many answers… can anyone help me out with this?
The other option is for me to focus solely on the infamous Galo de Barcelos (Portuguese rooster) design that’s also all over the place. Legend has it that the rooster (whilst dead) intervened in a court case and proved the innocence of a falsely accused man… In fact, I think I’d rather focus on this guy anyway, he look so much more fun than flowers and stripes!
I guess I’ll see what I can find whilst I’m over there…
First of all, a big THANK YOU to Nirvana of Nirvana’s Pocketful who has nominated me for a Versatile Blogger Award this week! Nirvana is an 11-year old craft blogger and is, perhaps, one of the best crafters I’ve come across – heck, she can even make a bow and arrow out of a bunch of sticks…
The rules for the Versatile Blogger Award are:
1. Thank the person who nominated you.
2. Share 7 random facts about yourself.
3. Nominate 15 other bloggers to receive the award after you.
So, in no particular order, here are 7 things you will never regret knowing about me:
In response to my wonderful award, I’m choosing to nominate the following 15 blogs for a Versatile Blogger Award of their own. If you’re on this list it’s because I love reading your posts – keep up the good work!
Around the same time every year, the people of Japan lie in wait for the first blossom of the season to bloom. It’s called hanami – or flower viewing – and is an incredibly significant event. Every year the Japanese meteorological association tracks the front of warm weather (known as the sakura zensen, or cherry blossom front) as it moves across the country and even gives daily updates alongside the evening weather forecast. The blooms only last for a week or two, so taking precious photographs of the sakura (cherry blossom) is a notable occasion: thousands of people are known to take to the streets in order to celebrate nature at its best.
For my own miniature sakura matsuri celebration I decided to do something a bit crafty. I live in the UK, where spring hasn’t quite sprung yet, and so the presence of actual, real-life blossom is somewhat lacking. This time last year I was in Paris: the streets of which looked even more picturesque when lined with trees filled with pretty, pink flowers. This year, however, I’m in the North of England and so felt cherry blossoms will have to suffice!
To make the felt Japanese cherry blossom:
Cut out 4 small petal shapes in felt.
Use a needle to thread a piece of cotton through the base of each petal, doing a couple of stitches on each. Don’t do the stitches too tight and be sure to leave a length of thread at each end.
Hold both ends of the cotton and carefully pull the thread tight so that the petals gather together.
Tie the ends of the cotton in a tight knot.
There you have it! You could make a few felt flowers and then string them together, applique them onto a cushion or make them into little brooches!
This post isn’t about sewing (sorry) but about the Easter egg making kit I have recently inherited. Over the past few weeks, my family-in-law have been tidying out my grandma-in-law’s house and have come across a treasure trove of retro memorabilia. They all know what I’m like and so, very kindly, have been saving me all sorts of vintage bits and pieces to make use of. This make-your-own Easter egg kit happens to be one of them!
Inside the little stamped and addressed cardboard box I found some plastic egg moulds, an instruction booklet and some pieces of patterned foil. The instructions pretty much read ‘paint the inside of the moulds with chocolate, leave to set and wrap in the foil provided’. EASY. Easter is going to be a breeze this year…
So, I melted my Sainsbury’s milk chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water, dipped in my pastry brush and set to work painting the inside of the little egg moulds. Stage one; paint the moulds: complete. I did a few layers of chocolate, leaving it to cool in the fridge in between each one, and then popped the finished egg halves out. Stage two; let the chocolate set: complete.
I joined the two halves of the eggs together using a bit more melted chocolate, left them in the fridge for as long as I could wait for and then set towards wrapping them in the foil. So far so good. However, wrapping very delicate, spherical chocolate eggs in foil is much harder than it looks: for a start, how do the professionals get the foil so smooth? A few attempts later and I’m none the wiser. A bit of clever Easter staging (see photo above) seems to have solved the problem. I knew there was a reason why I’d been hoarding those fluffy Easter chicks for all these years!
It’s one of those days after Christmas where there isn’t really much to do other than spread out all your presents on the floor and look over them one-by-one. I’ve got the day off work and, because I’ve not done anything crafty since before Christmas, I decided to try something new. I made a few Christmas crafts for presents over the holidays but can’t blog about those yet because not everyone has received their gifts!
The ‘something new’ that I chose was button making. For my birthday 3 weeks ago my (favourite) Auntie bought me the Cath Kidston Button Factory, filled with Cath Kidston fabric, metal buttons and a button punch.
This box is great and the buttons are super easy to make. All you do is cut a circle of fabric, place it in the punch alongside a metal button and push down as hard as you can to seal it all together. Admittedly I’m not that strong so I had to have a bit of help from the hammer, but this little craft is the quickest thing I’ve ever done. Within seconds I already had 3, finished, Cath Kidston buttons to sew onto my cushions. Amazing!
Last year I wrote a post about Project Runway season 9. I wrote about a young chap named Gunnar Deatherage – but unfortunately he never even made it past the auditions. Project Runway season 10 started in the US this week and, to my surprise, Gunnar has been allowed to enter the show for the second time. This time he says ‘I know who I am as a designer now’. I really hope so, as yet again I find myself hat-pinning my hopes on his success. Despite him being a bit of an idiot in person, it’s #TeamGunnar all the way.
Japanese Kooan Kosuke is mental. Half his clothes look like they’re made out of Lego and styrofoam. In fact, not even half. ALL of his clothes look like they’re made out of Lego and styrofoam. See the photograph on the left for his first runway look. Mental.
Christopher Palu is a lovely guy. He’s what I wish Gunnar was like. Unfortunately, I don’t rate his designs too highly – clearly a matter of opinion as the judges seemed to think his two crinkly dresses were a work of art and made him the winner of the challenge.
I’m sure as the season progresses my view will change and I’ll find myself rooting for ‘lesbian designer’ Alicia Hardesty instead. Nobody, however, is ever going to out-shine my original favourite – Christian Siriano - who won season 4 of Project Runway. His Vivienne Westwood-come-Galliano-come-Valentio inspired ball gowns are a close fore runner in the ‘Who’s Going to Make My Bespoke Wedding Dress’ Olympics. Don’t believe my hype? Check out the dress Taylor Swift was caught wearing here.
I shouldn’t be so excited about Project Runway – it’s only a reality TV show after all – but there’s something endearing about watching people’s sewing machines break, their fingers being pricked by needles and crying because they’ve cut a hole too big in a chiffon blouse… but I can’t be the ONLY one these things happen to, surely?!
If, like me, you love fabric and ever find yourself in Paris, then paying a visit to Montmartre is a must. Marché Saint-Pierre at the foot of the Sacre-Coeur is a 5-storey building stuffed full of cottons, voile, chiffon, plaid, wool, paisley, florals… literally every type of fabric you could ever dream of. The queues tend to be quite lengthy (particularly at a weekend) but the material is reasonably priced and very much accessible to all. In fact, the entire Barbès Rochechouart arrondissement of Paris is pretty much made up of material, craft and sewing shops. If I didn’t have a weight limit on my suitcase (or an au-pair salary) then I could easily buy out at least one of these places.
Anyway, I was feeling a little down the other day and so decided to embark upon a new sewing project to keep myself busy. I bought a copy of Sewing World magazine (April 2012) and the plan now is to make the patchwork picnic blanket inside. Having never done patchwork before (but very much wanting to learn) I picked this particular pattern because it looks easy to follow and is only made up of simple rectangle shapes.
I first picked out the summery colours I wanted to use (pinks, greens and oranges) and then took the train to Montmartre to buy my quarters of material. I got 3 different coloured checks, a floral print and a graphic print all in harmonising shades from one of the remnant shops, as well as a pair of material scissors and some cotton. I then spent an entire afternoon cutting up the fabric into 168 of the same size rectangles – something you definitely can’t do with tired eyes! Cutting straight lines for 3 hours is dizzying.
I was originally going to sew the pieces together by hand so as to pass some time, but after looking at the number of them, I think this may be a bit too optimistic. The sewing machine definitely looks a lot more appealing! I have some free time in the house this weekend so I’ll probably begin the task then – but I still can’t wait until I’m back home and can finish it on my own darling machine!
2012: The Year the World Ends, the Year I Move to Paris and the Chinese Year of the Dragon. I was born in the year of the dragon, so I guess this means that 2012 will finally be MY year. It’s also the only mythical creature in the Chinese calendar; the deliverer of good fortune, the master of authority and the one to be respected. I think good fortune is something we can all do with this coming year – whether it be finding a lucky penny, falling in love or finally buying that Vivienne Westwood handbag you’ve been lusting after for the past 20 years of your life. Well, I speak for myself on that last one.
This year I move to Paris for 6 months, see my new travel blog here, and so my New Year’s Resolutions list begins with: LEARN FLUENT FRENCH, and is closely followed by BE MORE CULTURED and FIND A SHOP THAT SELLS ED BANGER T-SHIRTS. That Westwood Summer Tartan Bag is slowly getting pushed further down the line…
Being away from home I won’t have much chance to keep up with my large-scale sewing either – so 2012 is the Year of the Small Stitch: cross stitch, hand stitching, felt toys etc. Anything I can fit into my suitcase! I will, of course, document every stage on here.
I hope you all have a fantastic New Year, and all the best for a happy 2012!
So Christmas is upon us again already and for the 8th year in my life – although it feels like the 23rd – I find myself in retail, lovingly putting those festive needs of pushy, impatient, panicked and obnoxious others before my own. Last Christmas I promised myself this wouldn’t happen, yet here we are. At least I have a day off today, albeit to play Santa by delivering peoples’ presents and making mince pies for the staffroom at work.
Take a quick look at my photos here too. This year I have my miniature Paperchase tree on my windowsill, bedecked within an inch of its life in super cute Paperchase wooden decorations. They’re all so smiley! You can’t help but smile along when you look at it.
I also have some AMAZING crocheted snowflakes hanging from the side of my cupboard this year. Thank you so much to my amazing friend Marianna for making these for me last festive season!
And finally is the little row of tiny glass baubles I have stringed along the front of my DVD cabinet. Paperchase seem to have an incredible knack for making super cute Christmas accessories.
I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and an even better New Year… keep subscribing/refreshing this page in 2012 for even more of my exciting craft and sewing projects. And this time next year, I PROMISE YOU that I will NOT be working in retail…