Book Bargains!

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I only have one day off a week this year (and believe me those of you who work full time: I do appreciate just that one day), but as a result I have a lot to pack into it: boring, but necessary jobs around the house, various admin. and phone calls to make, catching up with a few friends who also work part time, going to the gym, and of course a spot of sewing (my favourite way to spend it). So days of ambling around the shops are rare at the moment. Good for my wallet though! My children are fairly good if we go in the holidays (especially if there’s a cake bribe involved), but it’s not as much fun as going alone. So last week, some of the boring, but necessary jobs involved a visit to the bank and buying my son a metronome, so I figured it was a good excuse to spend a few hours mooching 🙂

I didn’t find anything interesting in the second-hand shops which was a shame, but I did pick up a couple of great, book bargains at our local branch of The Works (a discount book store). If you have one near you then it’s definitely worth popping in for a quick look. They have a lovely range of craft books, even if they’re not the most recent releases. First up, I bought a copy of The Liberty Book of Simple Sewing for the bargain price of £6.99. This is full of lovely, but simple home projects. I’m particularly tempted by the sewing machine cover pictured above, which might prove really useful for using up odd scraps I’ve accumulated. Lots of these projects have already been featured in various sewing magazines, even the cute, cloud mobile I made with my children. It’s such a beautiful book to flick through of an evening though that I still succumbed. I’d really like to sew a little more for my home this year, so it’s perfect for inspiration.

Second up was a title called The Hand Stitched Home by Caroline Zoob (£5.99), which I originally purchased as a birthday gift for my sister-in-law who really enjoys embroidery. However when I sat down in a nearby coffee shop to flick through it, I found myself yearning to try some of these projects out for myself: so back I went to buy my own copy 😉 Now, I’ve never attempted any embroidery myself before, but the photography was so pretty that I couldn’t resist! The two projects below were the ones calling out to me, but they also did some simpler, embroidered hearts, which might be an easier starting place. And even if that doesn’t work out, I’ll know that I’ll still get a lot of enjoyment just flicking through this. I always have to have something to do with my hands in the evenings (no rude puns intended)…

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Butterfly Cushions

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Avoiding the trousers challenge? Moi? Certainly not 😉

I usually love a good day out at the January sales, but something’s clearly shifted in both my mind and my shopping habits this year. Maybe it’s an adverse reaction to all that Black Friday mayhem, particularly bad apparently up here in the NW of England. Or maybe it’s all this sewing. Not sure, but the only sales shopping I’ve indulged in so far (I’m not promising complete restraint with all those ‘now 70% off’ emails currently arriving in my inbox…), was new bedding for my children’s rooms from Laura Ashley. I was happy enough to purchase the half price duvet covers, throws, and even a bit of wallpaper for when we finally get round to decorating in the Spring. But I drew the line at matching cushions for daft prices, pretty though they were…

Instead I had a good rummage around in the remnant box and found this…

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…the matching upholstery fabric for the butterfly range I’d selected for my daughter’s room, at half price. I knew I had a couple of cheap cushions at home (Wilkinsons I think) awaiting some prettifying, so I thought it was worth a try.

I’ve only ever sewn cushion covers once before, back on my very first (and only, so far) sewing course: nope, can’t remember a word of it! I had a couple of patterns, that  came free with various magazines, but they were all a bit ‘fussy’. I wanted something simple to show off the pattern. So I just made it up by measuring the cushions, adding an inch and a half seam allowance all round, adding a ‘centred zip’ (and pretty neatly too, even if I do say so myself) and finally using some wide (hate the really small, fiddly suff) bias binding as ‘piping’ (not so neat!). The sides came out fine, but I didn’t really know how to do the corners: short strips for each side (which I went with) or one long continuous strip all the way round? I’ve ended up with a kind of twisted effect at each corner, which is ok, but if I make some up for our living room, as I’d like to, I need to work this out better for next time. Children’s rooms seem the perfect place to ‘practice’ though for now… And because the fabric’s so lovely, a real pleasure to sew with, I don’t think you can really tell.

Here they are it situ with matching duvet cover and fleecy throw…

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My daughter’s delighted with her new ‘reading’ corner of the bunk bed. She’s always so thrilled with everything I make her, it’s hard to resist 🙂

Anyway, about those trousers

 

New Year’s Dog!

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Not my scheduled, first make of the new year, but much though I love living in an old, Victorian house, at this time of the year it’s flipplin’ freezing! We also put new floor boards in recently, which are great, but have resulted in a wider gap all around the bottom of our front door…

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I spent a good hour or so searching through old, sewing magazines, thinking this was exactly the type of random pattern they feature, but sadly to no avail. I always enjoy flicking through them anyway, so it was no great loss: you always find inspiration from something you’d instantly dismissed the first time around. Anyway, the very next morning the new issue of Love Sewing magazine arrived on my doorstep featuring a scrappy dog draft excluder: perfect!

To be honest, I probably could have drafted my own version, but the template outline was really useful. My drawing skills really aren’t up to much.

I increased the length to accommodate our rather portly, front door. I also wanted it to attach to the door, so that it didn’t come away every time the door was opened or closed (despite my best efforts I’ve never managed to train my children, or husband (!), to replace it afterwards). So, using some furniture (I think) trimming I found in a charity shop a while back, I attached two Champagne corks (thank you New Year’s Eve) to hook it under. Granted, the corks look a little odd from the outside, but it’s a Winter fix, so it won’t be permanent, and I didn’t want to use anything that would scratch the new boards.

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I managed to make it entirely from my stash, so even though it wasn’t planned, I could justify it 🙂 The fabric was something I bought when I first started sewing, intending (as you do) to make some ridiculously, complicated bag out of it. It was too small for clothing, hence it didn’t get used up in my recent stash-diet. I had a little toy stuffing left over from one of my daughter’s craft kits, so I used this to stuff the ears and trickier parts of the legs. The rest was stuffed with various old tights and socks (of course all clean) which made the entire family do a quick sock drawer sort-out to boot 🙂

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My children have named her Sally (the sausage dog). My daughter rightfully pointed out to my son that sausage dogs can be girls too 🙂

Oh, and a couple of you requested a photograph of my Christmas table runner in action. Here she is, just before the food went out 🙂

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