Last week my lovely mummy celebrated one of those ‘milestone’ birthdays and, because you only reach that age once, my two younger sisters and I decided we would make her something a bit special. All three of us are crafty and creative in our own way yet are united by one particular past-time: cross stitch. So, after the exchange of countless Facebook messages, we decided that this would be the theme for our present.
We each picked our own design to cross stitch – my youngest sister went for a birdhouse and flowers, the middle sister went for our two cats and I chose to do the Wimbledon logo and the Olympic rings. Perhaps a random selection of images but a collection of our mum’s favourite things nonetheless.
After stitching the designs (all of which I believe were done free-hand without a chart!) we then stitched on the lyrics to the Sound of Music along the bottom. The birdhouse reads ‘raindrops on roses’, the cats read ‘whiskers on kittens’ and the sports logos say ‘these are a few of your favourite things.’
We also added our initials to the top and then framed the finished designs in a lovely, mirrored frame from Laura Ashley. We presented it to my mum at her family birthday party this weekend and I think we managed to move more than one auntie to tears! The perfect daughters? I think so.
As President Obama wins the US election and embarks on his second term, this seems like the perfect moment to celebrate, crack out the sepia-tone embroidery threads and create this masterpiece.
Courtesy of the UK’s Cross Stitcher magazine, here is President Obama in cross stitch chart form.
If the magazine was up for election, they’d definitely get my vote. Just stunning.
Since I’ve been away in France (if this is news to you, see my travel blog here) I’ve been very limited as to the sewing projects I can complete. Obviously – and unfortunately – I couldn’t bring my mound of material, my sewing machine or my sewing kit with me as they’re just too heavy for one lone Eurostar traveller.
Instead I brought with me my cross stitch, origami paper and the materials for my felt animals. These are what I deem ‘travel size’ crafts and no way was I going to leave them out of my suitcase. Whilst I’m babysitting for the couple of hours after school – and when the boys’ homework is complete – I need something I can do at the table so that I’m still within easy shouting distance of the children.
Throughout February I’ve had a few birthdays (and Valentine’s Day) to attend to back in Angleterre, so I’ve been putting my free time towards stitching little designs that I can easily post to my friends and family. I’ve done motifs of cats for my mum, a peacock for my friend and a guitar for my boyfriend – among various others. I’m currently stitching a bigger design featuring the Eiffel Tower which I hope to keep as a memory of my stay here. I’m not following a set pattern, just picking images from my book by Jo Verso and making them into a picture-frame size montage. Once it’s finished the end result will be featured here! With all these free days I’m sure it won’t be long.
A little while back I posted a blog about a cupcake design cross stitch I was doing (see the picture to the left for a little reminder). You can read about it here.
The design was created by Lucie Heaton, who has a fantastic website full of cross stitch patterns that you can download as PDF files and print off at home. You can get motifs, alphabets, samplers, kids designs and seasonal pictures all costing around £1 – £6 per chart.
There’s even a section of free patterns if you just want to try some out too.
What’s more, word got out that I’d completed my cupcake chart and Lucie got in contact with me. She’s been lovely enough to offer all my avid readers a brilliant 20% discount on all her designs! Just use the code FEB12 at the checkout and your discount will be applied. Have fun!
Cross stitch may not be the coolest handicraft on offer – I refer to those autumnal-coloured images of bird houses, flower arrangements and pictorial alphabets spotted most commonly on the walls of generation upon generation of grandma – but it’s simple, effective and something to do to pass the time. And it’s quite fun.
I’ve recently finished stitching this colourful cupcake stand design found in May 2011′s edition of Cross Stitcher magazine. The colours are so cheerful that from a distance it almost looks like the real thing. Or at least like a painting by numbers rather than a cross stitch.
The chart is by a lady named Lucie Heaton – her website can be found here - which has some lovely free patterns to download or those to buy.
Originally I planned to frame the end result, but instead I’ve decided to attach the finished piece to one of my wall art canvases. Read more about that ongoing project here and here. Good enough to eat - I think so.
A couple of weeks ago I received, in the post, a beautiful invitation to my friend’s wedding. In Washington. I would absolutely love to attend but, alas, I cannot. Instead I’ve decided to create the bride and groom a lovely little home-made wedding present.
Enter stage left – 1x cross stitched London skyline.
The pattern came out of Cross Stitcher magazine (August 2011) and is intended to be made into a purse. I’ve made a few modifications to the design – instead of writing London I’ve put England (my friend, the groom, used to live over here so I thought it’d be a nice memento of our time together). I added in the royal guard myself too – the pattern and materials for this came free with the same edition of the magazine. I’m also planning on making it into a small cushion rather than a purse.
The overall project took me about 2 weeks (and 6 episodes of Dexter, 4 Project Runways, 2 White Collars, 4 Mad Men and a couple of films) to complete. Persistence really is key with cross stitch!
In other news, I also had another go at making a felt animal out of my Felt Friends From Japan book – see my review here. This time I chose a little felt puppy (even more adorable than the felt elephant?). He took me a couple of hours to stitch together and passed an otherwise uneventful Sunday morning. He is now residing at my lovely friend’s house – what a lucky guy
This weekend I’ve done a bit of everything when it comes to the world of crafts. First up is this cross-stitched Union Jack heart. The pattern is out of the April edition of Cross Stitcher magazine – I used 2 shades of pink and 1 in blue – and it took me a couple of hours to stitch. I love the finished result, it’s so adorable, and I’ll probably use it to adorn one of my many sewing projects.
Next up is an attempt at a recipe in my new Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days cookbook. These are mocha cupcakes – flavoured with hot chocolate powder and coffee granules, and topped with (very runny!) chocolate butter icing. I added some Mini Eggs as it’s getting near to Easter, and sprinkled on some excess chocolate sponge. Yes, they look an absolute state (and are nowhere near my usual standards!) but they also taste fantastic. Just goes to show that appearance isn’t everything! I think they look quite artistic – almost effortless cool…
And finally is a project that, for the moment, I can’t upload photos of to this blog. I’m planning an Italian themed murder mystery for my friends in their university Easter holidays, and spent all morning creating Italian flag bunting and place-names. I also have a red check table cloth, party bags and a 3-course meal planned. Pictures of my crafts will be uploaded in due course (as for now it has to be a secret from wandering eyes)- but fingers crossed it all goes to plan!
This, my friends, is my new sewing machine. My parents bought me it for Christmas, but because I’ve been so busy I’ve only just managed to plug it in this weekend! I know, I don’t call myself much of a hardcore seamstress either. It’s a Toyota 15JSPB Sewing Machine and runs like an absolute DREAM. It has one of those satisfying hums that makes it sound like the job is getting done properly (and not one of those clunky rattles that my mum’s old sewing machine has).
Here’s some more info and praise for it over at Argos – http://reviews.argos.co.uk/1493-en_gb/4602136/reviews.htm
Obviously I couldn’t just unpack it and do nothing… so I whipped out another gift I received for my birthday (a lovely book of small sewing projects, to be reviewed later). I picked a simple pattern for a little pencil case/ make up bag. It took me about 10minutes to put together. This new sewing machine is BRILLIANT. It even has a zip. Still not satsified with the result however, I then decided to attach an applique motif – comprising of some cross stitch I’d done previously and some pink cotton that I used for the back of the pencil case. The finished product is now on it’s way to my friend in Scotland for her birthday. Let’s hope she doesn’t get to this blog before the post arrives!
So. It’s fair to say that I’ve been pretty busy recently, and consequently had zero time to do any sewing, nevermind update this blog. My apologies. I went down to London at New Year with my family (which was ace) and then stayed there for 2 weeks to do a bit of ‘life admin’ and sign up to job agencies etc. Being a graduate can be tough. As a result of my trip I managed to get a 2-week internship with a health and beauty PR agency in Soho. Brilliant! It was hard work and quite stressful, but it means my CV is looking a bit less anaemic.
BUT, just because I’ve been away from home for a month doesn’t mean I haven’t done ANY sewing. Since January I’ve (re)discovered the art of cross-stitch. This is a fantastic travel-friendly craft as it doesn’t take up much space in my suitcase. I bought myself a copy of Cross Stitch Crazy magazine for inspiration and off I went. To the left is a photo of the little Christmas cushion I made. I’ve since done various other motifs which I hope to make into cards on my next day off – see the picture below to be wow-ed. I think I may have found a new love.