Sunday, August 7, 2016

Eloise Elephant - an adventure in mohair!

I took myself off to the Melbourne Craft & Quilt Fair last week with a view to buying myself a kit to make a mohair animal.  After Umming and Aahing over the hedgehogs, meer cats and teddies, I decided on a kit for a performing elephant, named Eloise; and wasted no time at all in getting my mojo on...








The pattern and kit came from Teddy's Bits and I intend on making a couple more once I replenish my supplies.  I did make a mistake when I attached the body and limbs together, I had the body facing in the opposite direction which meant that I had to make a dart in the back so this little lady doesn't have a lovely wide tummy as the pattern called for... she would have looked a bit strange if she had a lovely round back, which is why I had to take it in!  Never mind... only I (and now you) know, and I'll remember for next time as I do rather like her cuddly tummy!

So, I have a question to ask you - have you made any bears yourself?  Jointed critters?  Mohair mayhems?!  As I was making this little cutie it brought back memories of when I first made a jointed mohair cat... some 12 years ago now when I was living in England.  I didn't own or even know how to use a sewing machine back then so it was all worked by hand, and after asking for advice from the lady I bought the kit from, I winged it.  So this got me to thinking... if you have never made a jointed bear but would like to give it a try - would you like me to write a blog post on the basics?  The tools of the trade?  Little tips to help you on your way?  I'm not an expert by any means, but I remember the questions I needed answering back then!  Let me know...

Here are a few progress shots I took along the journey:


Getting all the pattern pieces on to the mohair was a really tight squeeze.  It would have been really helpful to have a pattern piece layout, similar to those you find in dressmaking patterns for cutting out.  You need the pattern pieces running in the correct position depending on the direction of the fur pile, and I couldn't quite fit them all so had to have one pattern piece (the back of a leg so it wasn't conspicuous) with the fur direction off at an angle.


Eloise is half-sewn... I managed to do it all by machine which really surprised me, even the tiny head gusset behaved nicely!


Semi-stuffed... and all without breakfast!  Here you can see the pattern in the background... and you'll know what I mean about that gorgeous squidgy tummy!


The original Eloise is coloured with a dark brown Copic marker to give her that vintage, aged look.  I didn't have one to hand and to be honest, was a bit nervous about using such a dark ink, simply because I've never done it before and any mistakes would be permanent.  So I opted to use my Prismacolour pencils so I could build the colour.  I used three shades in khaki brown, nut brown and peach.


This last pic shows how I blind-stitched the hat on top of Eloise's head.  I use fine curved beading needles manufactured by John James when I'm sewing irregular shapes together. They're a bit of a bugger to work with initially, but you get used to them given time. The thread is a silk one that I use for applique and blind-stitching bias binding on to quilts.  It's so fine that it's virtually invisible.

I fell in love with a family of mohair meer cats designed and made by Bears by Annie, and bought the pattern for making the adults, it's called Sascha and Dimitri.


I have the mohair for this already and plan to make it as a surprise gift for my little Rosebud this Christmas!  She loves meer cats and we are regular visitors to The Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne where there is a whole family of meer cats residing - it's always a highlight of our visit!

I hope you've enjoyed reading about my little 'bear' romance!  What have you been up to this past week?

Till next time!
Vikki xoxoxo

Thursday, June 30, 2016

New fabrics to play with!



Do you ever get so excited by a fabric range that you simply do not know what to do with it?  I'm so head over heels in love with Pixie Noel by Tasha Noel - the colours, the prints, the whimsically-cute drawings - I want to showcase them to their full potential!  My problem is, I love it so much that I just want to make *everything*!  This beautiful bundle will become a quilt at some point in the future while I still figure out exactly what pattern to use, if I don't end up designing one myself!  My sweet friend Alisha, over at Ministry of Fabric has fat quarter and fat eighth bundles in stock, you can find a link to her website, here.  What would you make with it? *smile*

Talking of Ministry of Fabric, I'm currently working on a quilt for Alisha and will show more of that soon.  Here is a glimpse of some of the pretty florals I'm using...


There are lots of triangles in this quilt - wish me luck! *wink*


Oh, and sweet Liberty, how could I ever forget you?!!  The Betsy design, pictured above, is one of my favourite Liberty of London prints.  Do you have a favourite?  If you're looking for a stockist in Australia, I highly recommend  Ava & Neve. They have a wide selection of both fabric, patterns and hand-mades, and their service is exemplary!


I had a little tidy-up of my sewing space but believe me, it doesn't stay tidy for long!  I've just sent a project away to Homespun magazine that is due out in the December issue, and am currently working on a lap-size quilt.  What are you working on at the moment?

Till next time!
Vikki xoxo

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Family fun at the dog beach!

















A sunny, windy and fun afternoon, taking our two fur babies to the local dog beach where they ran and played, and splashed and frolicked!  Kayla who looks like a white Hairy MacLary when her legs are all wet from the sea water; and Asha who is small and woolly and befriends everyone except for the big dogs, whom she gives a good telling off every time they come too near!  A puppy Spaniel named Daisy who dashed in to the sea and then parked herself in my husband's lap as he sat on the beach cross-legged - the embarrassed owner running up and apologising - while hubby tried to finish his bag of chips before any other furry friend came to sit on him!

Rosie and Aaron walking off toward the beach.  I always marvel when I watch them walk together, my sweet girl who is half the size of her kind and loving brother... seeing them together gives me the warm and fuzzies every single time.  I love it when they're both in their bedrooms and I can stand on the landing and look from one room to the next, wishing them a goodnight and God Bless, admiring them, and inwardly treasuring every second while wishing that time could stand still so that they will never, ever leave home.

Tonight as I write this, my fur girls are exhausted! Kayla is sleeping on my feet.  They are off to the groomer this week, although they sure enjoyed their 'blow dry' today!  Rosie is editing the videos she made while at the beach, Aaron is getting ready for a night out with friends, and hubby & I plan to crash on the couch and watch some TV shows.  I hope you enjoyed the photos!?  What are you up to this weekend?

Big hugs!  Vikki xoxo

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Obsessing over Blythe!

G'day peeps!  I hope you are keeping well?  It is a beautiful Autumnal afternoon here in Melbourne.  I'm sat at my sewing desk with both fur girls hovering around my feet, and hubby playing some retro computer game at his desk a side-step away from me.  The window is open and the pleasant breeze i slipping past me, I feel so content.  I hope you are feeling content, too?

I thought I'd stop by to show you what I've been sewing recently and to fess-up to my new obsession! 
Blythe!!  

To describe Blythe succinctly, I took this excerpt from Wikipedia:

Blythe /ˈblθ/ is a fashion doll, about 28 cm (11 inch) tall, with an oversized head and large eyes that change color with the pull of a string. It was created in 1972 and was initially only sold for one year in the USA by toy company Kenner (later purchased byHasbro). In 2000 the photo book This is Blythe was published and in 2001 the Japanese toy company Takara[nb 1] began producing new editions of Blythe dolls. There is a network of hobbyists who customize the doll for resale and create clothing and shoes for Blythe. Enthusiasts share photographs of their work and other types of dolls on the Internet.[1]

My little obsession began when I came across an Instagram account called Dolly Treasures.  I fell in love with Eileen's "girls" (as they are lovingly referred to by their owners), and my love affair grew from there!  For several weeks now I've been eagerly researching how to customise the dolls, from sculpting their faces and painting their eye-chips, to making mohair wigs; from sewing realistic clothing to molding leather to make handmade boots.  I love the diversity of what Blythe has to offer. There are so many different avenues to follow, the photography and "staging" of the doll,  the building and crafting of  room sets, and the most fun part - meeting fellow enthusiasts from all over the world!!  I love their attention to detail. It all ties in so well with my love of miniature - and of course for those of you who have known me for a long time - my passion for dolls!

I purchased a few clothing patterns from Craftyline, here.  The patterns are in Japanese so there are no written instructions, just diagrams and pattern pieces.  This was my first attempt, following a this pattern.





I found it tricky!  I became all fingers and thumbs, and the collar had me stumped until I thought to make a half-lining.  I used a Sevenberry fabric to line the coat and trimmed with velvet ribbon.  I glued the ribbon on because I didn't want any stitches to be visible and I'm not that skilled yet.  I learned a lot from my first sews, and practice will eventually make perfect.



This dress pattern is freely (with the option to donate) offered by Linda of  XOXOBlythe   Linda's patterns are professionally produced and easy to follow.  I used a mushroom print which was part of the Scandinavian Christmas range by Lynette Anderson, and some variegated thread for the top-stitching.

Today, I just finished a quilt and pillow set for a new friend I've made via Instagram, who lives in France. It is in miniature form for her Blythe "girl", of course!


The squares measure just 1inch.  I machine-pieced then hand-quilted the set which is made from my leftover fabric scraps of  Scandinavian Christmas. The pillow is over-sized to accommodate Blythe's rather large head.  It has an envelope pocket with a removable pillow.  I loved it and it was a little bit hard to package it up to be sent away, but I can never keep something when I have made it with someone else in mind, no matter how much I love it.  It just wouldn't feel right.  The lady doesn't even know I'm sending it to her - it's a surprise!

So I am making clothes for a "girl" I do not yet have.  They don't come cheap.  But there are "factory" dolls, that are made by the same manufacturer and better quality than clone dolls.  They are still expensive, if you think of it as a doll, but when you think of it as a hobby and an investment, then I think they are worth saving up for.  I have my eye on a couple of dolls on eBay and hubby is all clued-up for my birthday in May!  I would love a customised doll but they are well in to the hundreds of dollars... the kind of money that makes you think you might have kittens!  When you consider the talent and craftsmanship that goes in to them, their price is justified, but still it isn't for the faint-hearted.

So there you go!  Blythe has been a fantastic distraction therapy from my back pain!  Talking of which, I found out a couple of days ago that I have an appointment this coming Wednesday to have my procedure done!  I've never been so excited in my life about going to hospital (except when I went in to labour with my children!)  I'm going to have this procedure done,   Wish me luck!  I pray that it works.  It's reported that if successful, an individual can expect anywhere between six months and two years of pain relief, it all depends on how long it takes for the nerves to regenerate.  During my window of opportunity I'm planning a strict diet and exercise programme.  I've packed on so much weight over the years, but particularly over the past few months after taking a new medication, I put on ten kilos in just two weeks, initially.  Not good.  But hey - these things can be changed if we are determined to make those changes, right?!

I will be back to tell another tale once I've recovered!  Till then, happy sewing!

Much love! Vikki xoxo


Thursday, March 17, 2016

It's all smoke and mirrors


I'm not just saying this as a conversation starter, but I really can't believe that we are half way through March already.  I think as you get older, each year becomes a well worn road, the short-cuts across the grass become muddy and flat, and the familiar landmarks remind you how far you still need to walk ahead to reach your destination.

Do you remember being a kid and going somewhere new for the first time?  It would take F.O.R.E.V.E.R to get there... and near the end of the journey you didn't quite believe your parents when they exclaimed for the umpteenth time that 'we' were "nearly there"!

The familiar landmarks are the seasons, the birthdays, the milestones and quite often the anniversaries of those once loved but never forgotten. The destination is the end of the year and the beginning of a new one.  I seem to have blinked and lost three months! 


I don't usually divulge anything personal on my blog.  I've always considered it a place for pretty pictures and inspiration for others who like to sew and create.  But lately I've been thinking that it is all too easy to get caught up with flawless images on social media; the homes that are glistening, the stitching that is perfect, the kids who are always smiling.  Everything is in the moment.  But it's all too easy to forget what's not in the picture.  The piles of laundry that have been shoved out of the way of that perfect home decor photo-shoot; the ten or twenty years of practice that it has taken for someone to perfect their craft; the kid that is now crying because their favourite song or show has just come to an end... life is life!

Truth is, behind the smoke and mirrors we all have issues, stumbling blocks and low points.  Truth is we also have breakthroughs, victories and high points.  Thank goodness for that, hey?!


So I thought it was about time that I mustered some courage and shared with you a little about what is going on in my world at the moment.

My house is a big hot mess.  There won't be any attractive home-decor photo sessions going on in this neck of the woods, I can assure you!  It's a mess because I'm in too much pain to do anything about it.  I've suffered with chronic back pain for close to ten years, I'd say the past six have been the worst.  I've been on a cocktail of anti-depressants and pain-killers for the past three years and over the past six months, have been weaning off them.  Each time I drop the medication I am hit with weeks-on-end of depression.  The excruciating pain makes matters much worse.  The feelings of failure for not being able to look after my family... that's a rotten one.  My hubby comes home from work and cooks the dinner because I can't even stand at the hob.  He has been amazing.  I'm waiting for a procedure now, it will be a few weeks away yet and I can't even find out the date because the hospital just rings you when a slot comes up.  Not knowing is the worst because like an athlete preparing for a race, I need to mentally prepare myself for how much longer I need to endure the pain.

My sweet daughter has been off school for close to three weeks with medical issues.  I worry about her having missed so much school over the years, and it's been touch helping her at home while battling with the depression.  I have to keep reminding myself that I can only do my best, but the conscientious driver in me keeps tooting the horn and telling me that my best isn't good enough.  Dang that back seat driver!

It has been cathartic writing this.  So there you go.  I am always sincere on my blog, I'm generally happy and always smiling, I will talk to anyone and make friends easily.  But I'm just like everyone else, with problems and issues that intercept the general noise of life.  I'm not sure that you're going to glean anything from this outpour of mine, but I hope that if nothing else, if you're feeling at a low point in your life - you know you're not alone. xxx

Till next time,
Vikki xoxoxo



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