Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A challenge from Abakhan - Creative Budget

Home crafting has seen a boom in popularity over the past couple of years as we are all watching the pennies. I spend a lot of my time making a little money go a long way - whether it's food shopping, clothes for the LM (and sometimes even some for me!), items for my home or gifts for birthdays and Christmas.

Abakhan, the home of cheap fabrics, haberdashery and general crafty loveliness have issued a monthly challenge to the craft blogging community. 'Creative Budget' is all about showing just how far a small budget can stretch.

I was given £15 of credit to spend on the website on items of my choice and make those items go as far as I could. I spent a very enjoyable evening browsing their excellent website, getting ideas. When I spotted these lovely bag handles at a great price I knew exactly what I wanted to make!  Taking inspiration from the Great Britain section, celebrating all that is red,white and blue, I picked the following items...

Doesn't that look lovely?

1m Union Jack printed cotton lawn
1m medium weight interfacing
1pr light wood effect plastic bag handles
1 each red, white and blue felt squares
1m 'Jubilee' Braid
5m assorted ribbons
2 Union Jack heart buttons

I am a big fan of spots and stripes and red, white and blue AND hearts...

I couldn't wait to get started with those bag handles. I wanted to create a vintage look and came up with this lovely curvy little number...

I just love the shape of this bag. The side seams are left open part the way down, so you have room to reach in and get at your things and it is room enough to carry all the usuals, (phone, purse, keys, camera, baby wipes, cuddly toy... )  Although you can't really see from the photo, the lovely cotton lawn fabric has a very pale blue stripe and lots of jolly UJ motifs printed across it. I added body to the fabric with some medium-weight interfacing - it strengthens the fine cotton and helps the bag keep it's shape. I could have lined the bag with more UJ fabric (there was more than enough in a metre!) but instead I picked a piece from my stash - a lovely vintage floral print my mother-in-law picked up from a charity shop for me. The red, white and blue flowers were a perfect match for the UJ's and it means my bag is reversible. Two for the price of one!

But every bag needs some extra eye candy so I made this lovely red, white and blue ribbon brooch. I think the UJ love heart button in the centre finishes it off perfectly.

It could just as easily be a corsage. I even considered attaching to a clip for the cutest hair piece ever.

With the felt I wanted to create something utilising the UJ print on the cotton fabric and a technique I use a lot in my designs (usually with gingham and felt, like these scented heart decorations) Reverse applique means that instead of adding a fabric panel on top of the main fabric, you add it behind and cut out a window in the main fabric, to frame it It works particularly well with felt as your 'window' doesn't fray. . .

I am using it to take care of my sunglasses but it could just as easily hold a phone or a pocket camera. These cosies are soooooo easy to make with felt. All hand sewn so you don't even need a sewing machine. They would make a great gift for older kids to make for Daddy for Father's Day!

Next up, following a suggestion from the lovely Kerry Lou from Lou Lou's Luxuries is a gorgeous Jubilee Crown made from felt, Jubilee braid and the other UJ heart button. Padded with a tiny bit of toy stuffing, I added some Strawberry scented aromabeads I had for a proper British summer fragrance! A ribbon loop and a key fob from my stash finished it off. Clip it to your bag for a bit of Jubilee charm. (Like the ribbon flower, I could have attached it to a hair comb for my very own cute Jubilee Crown hair piece).

 And finally with the rest of the UJ cotton lawn fabric I made a handy shopping bag using the method in the fabulous 'Liberty Book of Home Sewing' It's light enough to fold up really small and pop in your handbag (I might make a little pouch to store it in using the left over felt) yet large enough to carry your groceries home with style - beautifully modelled by the Little Man here. . .

(yes, he IS wearing wellies. . . Don't ask!)

So there you have it, five fabulous items for less than £15 - and I still have some ribbon, braid, felt, fabric and interfacing left to play with! The bags are both machine sewn (but could be sewn by hand if you have the patience), all other items are hand stitched so you don't even need any special equipment. Any one of these items would make a lovely gift for someone special. It's amazing what you can do with a limited budget and a little imagination!

As Abakhan very generously let me have these items for nothing, I would like to pay it forward and offer you, my lovely readers, the chance to win the special Jubilee Crown bag charm and the super useful Union Jack shopper (complete with storage pouch that I will make. Promise).  Just leave a comment below, letting me know how you would like me to use my Creative Budget next month? Something for the home? Garden? Something for the kids to play with? Or how about something stylish for yourself? Just let me know!

The winner will be selected at random on Sunday 10th June and announced on the blog after 8pm that day.  I will announce on Twitter and Facebook too so you may want to follow/like using the buttons in the column to the right -->

Disclosure - Abakhan gave me £15 of credit to spend on items of my choice from their website. No other payment has been recieved for this post. All items (apart from the shopper) are made to my own designs and patterns and I am happy for you to take inspiration from them to make your own for personal use or to give as gifts but not to sell for profit. Thank you x

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

#TheGallery - A Picture Postcard

It's been a while since I have done a Gallery post but this week is special. This week Tara is celebrating the 100th Gallery. As The Gallery was one of the first memes I got involved in when I started blogging in earnest just over a year ago, I thought it would be rude not to join in!

So the theme for the 100th Gallery is  Picture Postcard. we've been lucky enough to visit some beautiful parts of the UK over the past couple of years. Last year we went to Yorkshire, the year before it was North Wales. Not to mention that we live in one of the most picturesque places in the UK - The Forest of Dean.  But the holiday we went on this year (two weeks ago, in fact) was special. We went to Windermere in the Lake District - an area I know and love because my nan (Lancashire born) has spent the last few decades there. We used to visit every couple of years or so when we were little but the last time I made the trip up there I was 21! That's *cough* 17 years ago *cough*.  The weather was pretty atrocious but we had one lovely day on the Lake...

So here is my little postcard from Windermere.

Bet you wish you were here.....

Why not pop along to Tara's blog and see all the other lovely postcards....

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I really am rubbish at not doing anything...

Sunday. The day of rest.

Yeah, right!

Usually Sunday is pretty much like every other day, except I have the Other Half under my feet as well as the Little Man and the cat! Today I decided that I was going to... take it easy *gasp*   I wasn't going to rush out of bed. I wasn't going to try and do any washing/ironing/tidying/gardening/cleaning or any other housework related duties. I was going to 'chill'.

In reality I have discovered that I am crap at doing nothing. I had planned on chicken pie and roasties for tea so made a batch of pastry before 10am, swiftly followed by a batch of chocolate cookies (coz I had the mixer out and I fancied some...) Then, because it seemed sensible and would save rushing around and doing it later, I made the pie filling. And prepared the spuds. And then, as I had made a bit of a mess, I cleaned the kitchen. Like I said, crap at doing nothing.

When I finally sat down at around midday (after making several rounds of toast/coffee/banana milk) I managed to hold off doing anything at all for, ooooo, about 10 mins. Then I got twitchy fingers so I grabbed a crochet hook, some lovely dark red merino wool I had in my stash box and made a lovely heart from The Crafty Seller magazine I picked up the other day. If you haven't come across this one, it's worth a look. Most of the designs are pretty basic and I would be wary of outright copying them (even though they are allegedly copyright free and the intention of the magazine is that you should make and sell these items yourself...) but perfect as inspiration and ripe for adding your own twist to.

As you all know, I am fairly new to crochet so I am always looking for little projects to have a go at and the little hearts in this months issue are just perfect for me. I tweaked the pattern slightly, adding a pretty scalloped edge, and a crochet chain loop to hang it with. I also added some dried lavender to the stuffing and a lovely vintage button from the bundle I was sent by my Button Swap partner, Michelle at My Handmade Haven . I love the finished heart. I may even make some for my next craft fair...

So, by planning on doing nothing, I actually managed to start something AND finish it the same day. Now that doesn't happen often. Maybe a should plan on doing nothing more often...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Little Blog Awards

I had an email today to tell me that my blog has been nominated for the coveted Dorset Cereals 'Little Blog Awards' How lovely is that? Many of my favourite blogs have gained this prestigious award and it's a real honour to be in the running.

For those of you who don't know how this one works, all nominated blogs collect votes throughout the month and the blog with the most votes wins the award for that month. The winner gets a lovely goody bag from Dorset cereals, including the exclusive Little Blog Awards egg cup (which I want. Sooooooo badly.) and a lovely badge to proudly display on their blog.

It's not about the prize though (although maybe a little bit. Did I mention the egg cup...?) but about the recognition. I blog because I love to share, but I would be a liar if I said other peoples opinion of my little corner of cyberspace didn't bother me. Of course your opinion matters to me. I get a little glow whenever someone takes the time to read and comment on a post or share my blog with their friends through Twitter, Facebook or Google+ (although I am still struggling to figure out that one...)  So to think that someone considers my blog worthy of this award is making my heart sing :-)

I am having trouble uploading the 'Vote for Me' badge onto my sidebar at the moment but if you could take the time to click on the link below and vote for my blog I would be ever so grateful. And if I am lucky enough to win the award I will come up with a way to say thank you to you all for your time, your vote and your continued support xx

Please vote for my blog in the 'Little Blog Awards' here

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

#BlogTogs - What catches your eye?

What makes an image stand out and catch your attention? Is it purely down to subject matter?

This week, following a prompt from the fab digital photography book I told you about in the last BlogTogs post, I took a series of photographs of an object - my dad's old Yashica slr - photographing it from different angles and not reviewing the images at all until I had transferred them to my laptop. I then created the contact sheet, putting all the images side by side to see if any of them popped out and grabbed my eye so I could then try and work out why...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Garden rescue...

The weather for the past six weeks has been horrendous hasn't it? Seems like we had March winds, April showers and a heavy dose of November rain thrown in for good measure too. My poor garden has been suffering and the cold and wet have not encouraged me out to put things right...

We came back off holiday on Saturday to warm sunshine so I got out there to assess the damage. It wasn't pretty!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

We went on holiday...

You may have noticed (or not) that I haven't been around much this week. That's because me and the Little Man galavanted off to the Lake District with all my immediate family to visit my Nan, Little Man's Great-Grandma, who lives in Windermere.  As you would expect with any big 'family' holiday some days were better than others, and with the weather doing it's best to put a dampner (and on one day at least, an 8 hour torrential downpour) on things it wasn't exactly the relaxing, chilled out week we had hoped for.

#SilentSunday 13/05/12

Silent Sunday
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