Monday, August 29, 2016

Strawberry Delight - my latest project in Homespun magazine.

We are counting down the days to the start of Spring in the southern hemisphere and nature has treated us already to some bouts of warm weather and sunshine - a deposit of what is to come!

The inspiration to get out in the garden is overwhelming, while daydreams of picnics at the park and lazing on the beaches fill every spare moment!

It was with Spring and Summer in mind that I designed this strawberry-themed bag for Homespun magazine.  With just a few days until the September issue hits the newsstands, I thought I'd share some pics of my project... it's rather juicy!  (Oh groan, these dad's jokes have got to stop!!!!)

The bag is different on both sides.  Side A features ruffles with faux piping, while Side B has a rouched panel and showcases the Vintage Picnic fabric range by Bonnie & Camille.  Both bag sides feature pockets with cross-stitched strawberries.  I share my method for cross-stitching on to tightly woven cotton fabrics, in the publication.

The bag is secured with a metal clasp at the top, and has inside pockets and a key fob (which features another cross-stitched strawberry).  It's just the kind of bag you want to take out on a summer's picnic with you!

There are some beautiful projects in this issue of Homespun!  If you live overseas and find it difficult to get hold of a hard copy,  it is also available for digital download at Zinio, here.

Now I can't wait to get strawberry picking!  What do you enjoy most about Summer?

Till next time!
Vikki xoxo

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


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