Friday, 30 August 2013

Sweat shop

Hello there

I've been working like a thing possessed today to get some more of the portable coaster sets done, ready for the craft fair I'm doing on September 21st. I've loved every minute of it and my processes are getting more efficient with each set I make.  The Sizzix 4in circle Bigz die I bought has been invaluable with cutting up so many circles. 

You all now probably think that I've been caught in the act with wine glasses on my table. Oh no, I rarely touch wine these days as it's fattening and I much rather feeling awake than drowsy like wine makes me feel.
These babies are purely for decorative purposes. I'll use them on the stand, to show how to use the coasters, as they are a very novel idea. 

This has ended up being my favourite set so far, as I
enjoyed using free motion embroidery on the leaves,
instead of the blanket stitch or just plain
sewing I did on previous sets with the applique.

The green flower was a bit of a risk and I'm not totally
happy with the sewing on it but hey, someone might end
up getting it as a bargain if it doesn't sell, either that or I'll
make another coaster to replace that one.
I won't be doing so much sewing tomorrow as 'me and her' are off to an ice cream place tomorrow which has a huge straw Dalek in the field next door. Maggie loves Dr. Who and ice cream, so it should be a fun couple of hours out for us.

Take care out there and enjoy your weekend if you can

Thursday, 29 August 2013


Hello there

What is going on? I need explanations! Now! Mrs Johnson has cast a Christmas spell over the whole of our neighbourhood and I'm now clearly under it's influence.

Look at my desk as evidence of this wickedness!

The 'innocent' Ms Mara is probably her accomplice too!

Another person involved in this plot is Sara Davies of Crafter's Companion fame. She has publicly made available a Snowman cd-rom with Father Christmas cd-rom as a freebie! Can you imagine the consequences of her actions? It beggars belief! 

Me? Doing Christmas projects in August?!! The news must be released quickly to try to protect other innocent folk, like myself, from this wicked phenomenon!

 Right, I'm off for my therapy session (even they disguise themselves as hairdressers!)  to see if I can be cleared of this blatant indoctrination.

Take care out there - you never know when the Christmas spell might get you! :-)

Monday, 26 August 2013

I'm so 'down with the kids'

Hello there

You may or may not know that I've recently become the very excited owner of a sewing machine/embroidery machine and I've looked at loads of embroidery designs available online. One favourite site is Urban Threads, as their designs are so modern and fresh.

Over the weekend I bought this skull and crossbone design for $2. You buy them in whatever format suits your machine and at the size you want; all sizes and formats are the same price.

It starts off life being inserted into the software and then you set the machine to action. Now this all sounds very easy and it is basically but there are a few essentials which need dealing with. You can re-size letters in the usual select item with the mouse and adjust the box marks around the letter. You cannot do that with images imported in, I found out!

I sewed the 'All Time Low' section without issue and also the star, which I imported for free (gotta love t'internet sometimes). Then came the skull and crossbones which I had made smaller to fit in with the whole design. Boy! You should have heard the racket of the bobbin case jumping up and down like a fool, whilst the poor machine carried on regardless. It normally alerts me if the thread gets trapped or snaps but it didn't bother at all. It was still moving around though and sewing, so I tolerated it for a while but then had to stop as I was concerned about breaking the machine. I left it overnight and then did the larger one in the middle the next day after reading the manual about re-sizing and it said that you have to use a 'design' menu with 'change size' in order to allow the machine to know how to process the stitches. I then made another one, larger, for the other side of the pencil case. Yee hah! No more clanking!

I then had the fun and games of sewing the pencil case together with the zip. I really should do zip stuff more often, as it really irritates me that I seem to have to start from afresh every time I do one. 

I used some Stampin' Up fabric for the lining. The red fabric was just part of my stash, which I had made a pyjama top for Maggie some years ago. I had bought some zips from a sale in a local craft shop about a month ago, which were the perfect size for pencil cases.

It's not perfect but it'll fit her proposed new Sharpie pens, which are all the rage apparently. Back to school in a week, so stationary and school bags are hot topics of conversation. We've had a lovely summer, with lots of days out mixed with relaxing days at home. Let's see what this last week brings us, other than haircuts and piano lesson.

Take care out there

Saturday, 24 August 2013

My clever friend

Hello there

I'm a lucky girl in many respects but particularly so with some clever ladies I know. For my birthday, a present I received from Mara was a gorgeous cross-stitched design card which says 'Create'. The story behind this card is funny, as Mara was away from home at the time and didn't have a a sewing machine, so she nipped into a well known store and borrowed a machine to quickly sew the fabric onto the card. How ingenious is that?! She's not one to let an issue stand in her way, for sure :-)

To enable me to keep the card so that not only can I have a memento of Mara's many talents but also the friendship she offers, I decided to frame the card. Of course just sticking it in a frame isn't interesting, so I put some background paper behind it; Tilda's Summer Blues pad. Then I made some flowers from the same paper and attached them to the frame after putting buttons as their centres. I could always have painted the wooden frame and done allsorts of fancy stuff but the focus should be the card not the frame. 

The great thing about this too is that I've had the frame for a long time and hadn't found it a purpose. 'Meant to be' springs to mind. Everything finds it's place in time; just don't be too surprised when it's not what you expected.

This isn't eloquently phrased but 'life isn't what you make it, it's what you make of what happens more often than not'.

Take care out there

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Rather chuffed

Hello there

I've actually finished the placemats and coasters set! ... Ok, you can get up off the floor from the shock now! :-)

I started these at a few weeks ago at a Karin Hellaby class at the Festival Of Quilts. The patchwork design is called Simple Pineapple which is a Karin designed version of the traditional pineapple.

Yer yer, I know; a dog free photo is a challenge for me!
Even though I intended these for my house when I first started them, I realised that they would be a good item to sell at the craft fair I'm going to in September. I've had a look on a few handcrafted websites and I think I could ask at least £45 for these, as there's 6 of the place-mats and 6 coordinating coasters.
At least there aren't any dogs at the table!

The techniques involved include patchwork, machine quilting and hand sewing the home-made binding in place.

I'm working on a decent way to package them, which will include the little 'tag' I made, as seen in top left hand corner of this photo:

I've made the backing fabric two different colours on both the coasters and the placemats; the same as two on the front:

I'm a happy girl but trouble is, I almost hope that nobody buys them, so that I can keep them, although I do have plenty of material left.

Take care out there

Sunday, 18 August 2013


Hello there

Well my 10,000th viewing of this blog has been and gone. I'm now onto 10036, which is fabbo, dabbo! I know that alot of those viewings might be from companies who electronically set up their systems to 'view' pages but that's fine. When I started this blog, I highly doubted that I'd keep up with it, so I'm really chuffed that I've kept going for so long; it must be three years now. I don't know how to find out when I first started but I know that I've done 257 posts!

I'm telling you today about 'By DW' really and what I'm up to in relation to continuing/refreshing/updating my business profile. I still find it hard to think of it as a business but more as a small enterprise. It's something I've barely put any effort into really when you look at how successful enterprises are and how hard they work to keep them going but it's there none the less. This morning I took the step of joining The Enterprise Nation Club, which was set up by Emma Jones (MBE). It only costs £20 for the year but it feels to me as if I've made a bigger commitment now. That money gives you discounts on allsorts of things such as business cards and books and the price of a ticket for a StartUp Saturday event. I want to go to the one in Liverpool on September 7th. Go and have a look to see what it's all about.

I've also started doing The Enterprise Nation's 12 week long FREE start-up course. It just involves one email a week to read over and possibly take action on. The first one is all about coming up with a business idea, which I've done in a very vague way. They encourage a far more considered view of course and suggest finding a niche product to help you market your items more efficiently. I can't let my failings on any of this prevent me from moving on with this plan. I will adapt and modify as I go forward of course but as long as the momentum is there, it'll be fine.


I'm planning on writing a more in-depth story for The Crafty Network, so you'll see a link for that on the business page of this blog -My Creative business journey. Wait until I've done it though - give this girl half a chance :-)

Right, now to do some more handsewing of bias binding round these placemats I've been making. I bought some invisible thread yesterday at Grace and Favour, as I'm determined to have a go at using the machine sewing method to sewing the last part of the binding on. Hand sewing is all very well and good when it's decorative but it's so tedious when it's just serving a practical purpose and takes far too long to make the place mats financially viable at possibly £25 a set of 6.

Take care out there

Saturday, 10 August 2013

10,000 pineapple placemats and coasters

Hello there

The title of this post is slightly misleading but hey, it got you thinking " what's that crazy lady doing now?" didn't it?! :-)

The 10,000 bit refers to the fact that scarily enough that's how many views my blog has almost had. 9959 to be exact; the figure stands at as I type. I'm rather chuffed about reaching such a milestone for my little space in blogland.

The pineapple refers to the technique I learnt from Karin Hellaby at the Festival of Quilts on Thursday August 8th. Karin adapted the traditional method of doing pineapple blocks to make it much simpler and now she travels the world teaching allsorts of quilting techniques she has developed for 21st century quilters.
It really is a quite relaxingly repetitive technique, with great effects. I'm determined to finish 6 placemats and coasters by the end of the weekend, as we don't have any other plans and Maggie has a friend over for a sleepover, so she's occupied. I managed four blocks in the class and I've done two more and now almost done all the free motion quilting on the quilt sandwiches.

This was my dining table in the middle of the afternoon:

You want to eat? I don't think so! :-)
I know the wadding is far too thick but it's the last of a batch I had, so I had just enough to do these placemats, so it's all gone.
Whilst doing the sandwiches like that, I had an idea of what stitching I wanted to quilt with and this is what I initially planned on:
I practiced with stitch width and length
After all that though, I changed my mind about what stitching to do, as I looked at the patterns in the patterned fabric I used and saw the swirls, so I had to repin all 6 placemats which was not great but all in the name of creativity :-)

 I'll show you the finished project, when I finish, surprisingly enough :-)

Below are some photos of just one project I loved from the Festival of Quilts:


Take care out there 

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Quilt Festival is almost here!

Hello there

As I start typing this post, it's Sunday August 4th and Maggie is on a train on her own from London, after spending a few days with my mum and Step dad house-sitting for my sister in Surrey. My mind is elsewhere other than sewing but I really want to get a wriggle on with making this bag, as I'm off to the Quilt Festival on Thursday and I want this bag specifically for that. I'm doing a Karin Hellaby class in the afternoon and I have to take a few things such as a cutting mat and the one I use at home is far too big to carry with, so one of my sisters bought me a smaller one for my birthday. That is still 24"x18", so a large bag is required. 

Why does my life always seem so complicated?!!

Anyway, I got the fabric I wanted from Fabric Rehab last week (fingers crossed that I win the competition they had open, where all I had to do was make an order in the set time period).

Considering today's circumstances, I set to cutting the fabric and of course I made a mistake at the very first cut, despite writing down my basic instructions. I cut the sew retro fabric at 17" high instead of 22"! Not impressive!

I then of course had to think quick and I decided to use some plain cotton fat quarters I have in the stash as borders, to make up the measurement issue! 

As I type I've got the border sections drying, as I did a quick colour fast test on them.

I had wanted to do an idea I found on the web and put it on Pinterest, which is basically a ruffled vertical section for the front but I really don't see me getting enough time for that this week.

Pocket or no pocket?! 

I'll only publish this post when I've finished and you can see what I got time to do. I'm off to do the straps now and check my phone for texts from Maggie and walk the dogs and and and and.... you know how it goes! :-)
It's now 8.30pm on Wednesday August 7th and I've only just finished my bag. This is the first chance I've had to do anything with it since Sunday and even today I've been out and about in lovely Delamere Forest too. 

I've made more mistakes with this bag than I will probably ever admit to in public; one big, but most just silly, thankfully. I had to increase the size of it since Sunday's version, so it's all just been designing and sewing all at the same time.

Progress not perfect remember! :-)
Come on boys, help me out here, 'get out of the way!'

The reason I had to make it so big,
was so that it fitted the cutting mat I need for
the 'Sew Simple Pineapple' Karin Hellaby class I'm doing there

I'm glad that I decided to make the top stitching decorative,
for the inside as much as anything else

Oh for crying out loud! Move! :-)
At least this photo shows one of the side panels,
which gave me such a hard time.

I love the straps too; making them two-tone,
fits in perfectly with the patchworky feel
of the whole bag

This fabric makes it all worth while
I had wanted to put buttons  down the red panels and some fabric roses would've tied in with the fabric too but I've just run out of time. I've had to cut my fabric for the class and get the other class requirements ready whilst the photos uploaded. I now need to get some cash and petrol and then shower and bed, as I've got a 7am start to try and avoid as much rush hour traffic as possible.

Can you sense my excitement/nerves? 

Good! :-)

Take care out there

p.s Maggie got home ok and had had a really good time away and the train journey had been easy, other than some guy sitting opposite her with his music on too loud in his earphones! .....That's my girl! :-)

Friday, 2 August 2013

Sewing bee

Hello there

Last night I went to my first sewing bee courtesy of Posie Girl Creations. The ladies there were very welcoming and I had a lovely time and actually was one of the first to finish, which is very odd indeed for me in the crafty sessions I normally go to. We sat in the very well sized conservatory, which was rather hot to begin with but we could just nip out of the door to stand in the cooler part of the garden if needed be. Lynsay and Kay were there for us the whole time giving advice or just monitoring progress. I would definitely recommend their classes if you're in the Warrington area and want to do some sewing workshops. They're hoping to start using a community room facility, as the workshops they've done so far have been so popular.

We made a reversible tote bag. The fabrics available were of good quality; a lovely soft cotton, although one lady chose a curtain type fabric and it worked brilliantly.

My fabrics were just lighthearted ones but very pretty.
We were given some handy hints with things like the straps and how to fold them and then sew them using horizontally placed pins all the way down, to avoid the strap from twisting.

I added a felt flower on a badge backing for the flowery side. I thought the badge backing was a good idea and then it could easily be taken off if the polka dot side was external. I sewed on a yo-yo style flower with a red button onto the base of one of the straps on the polka dot side. I sewed it on, so that the black stitches don't show on the flowery side and it's flat enough to not make too much difference to the bag no matter what way you have on the outside.

I was really pleased with the way the bag 'hangs' and especially the very tidy pointed edges of the base; it all lines up beautifully.

Some great fabric arrived today from an order I made through Fabric Rehab, so I'll be making a similiar type bag as a sewing bag ready for the Festival of Quilts which I'm going to on Thursday August 8th - so excited about that and the Karin Hellaby class I'll be doing in the afternoon there. 

Hopefully you'll nip back to see any posts I do about that trip or just about the sewing bag I'll make. In the meantime, take care out there.
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